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Designers breathe new life into China's dying folk crafts
2 December 2016 - At her workshop in a remote valley in one of China's poorest provinces, Pan Xiu-ying uses traditional techniques passed down for generations to create an indigo-dye batik scarf embellished with patterns inspired by her ethnic Shui minority. But her handicrafts aren't for family members. They're destined for affluent buyers thousands of miles away. (more)

US consumer spending, incomes rose in October
2 December 2016 - U.S. consumers boosted their spending again in October, while their incomes increased at the fastest clip in six months. Spending is closely watched since it accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity. The overall economy grew at a solid 3.2 percent rate in the July-September quarter. (more)

Record charitable donations reported for Giving Tuesday
1 December 2016 - Giving Tuesday, a 5-year-old phenomenon aimed at encouraging online charitable giving, produced record-shattering donations this week, according to two organizations which tracked the flow of gifts. The 92nd Street Y in New York City, credited for launching the event in 2012, said Wednesday that contributions reported by organizations in the U.S. and abroad for a 24-hour period total $168 million -- up from about $117 million in 2015. It said there were roughly 1.6 million donations, coming from people in nearly 100 countries. (more)

New York City exhibition features Ukrainian and Romanian textiles
1 December 2016 - A Manhattan exhibition features rich textiles with intricate embroidery designs from the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine and Romania. 'Carpathian Echoes' at the Ukrainian Museum looks at the home textiles industry of the neighboring nations. The exhibition features an array of colorful folk textiles produced for clothing and the home, including traditional women's and men's costumes. (more)

US: Ellis Island exhibit revives New York's lost Little Syria
1 December 2016 - Shakifa Halal was a Syrian immigrant on a New York-bound ship, her dreams rolled up in a piece of embroidery made from silkworms she grew, fabric she wove, and cloth dyed with flowers picked in her homeland. Halal's floral artwork, which she brought to America in 1910 at the tender age of 13, now hangs in the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, part of an exhibition called 'Little Syria, N.Y.: An Immigrant Community's Life and Legacy.' Through documents, artifacts, and photos, the exhibition tells the story of a Middle Eastern community that once flourished in Lower Manhattan. (more)

U.S. private employers boost hiring; consumer spending rises
1 December 2016 - U.S. private employers stepped up hiring in November and consumer spending increased last month, the latest signs of economic strength . . . The data on Wednesday also showed income rising solidly and savings climbing to a seven-month high in October, positioning households to boost spending in the future. (more)

Automakers fund European electric car charging sites to boost demand
30 November 2016 - Four of the world's top carmakers have agreed to invest in thousands of fast-charging sites across Europe to boost mainstream acceptance of electric cars, the companies said on Tuesday, 29 November. A goal is to make charging an electric vehicle as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations, the automakers said in a statement issued on Tuesday. Executives across the industry predict electric cars will become increasingly popular due to advances that make batteries cheaper and more powerful. (more)

US: After new regulations, Oklahoma's shakes calm down a bit
30 November 2016 - The rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has dropped dramatically since late May, when the state limited wastewater injections into energy wells, an Associated Press statistical analysis shows. And a new scientific study says the state is on its way back to calmer times that prevailed before a huge jump in man-made quakes. (more)

US consumer confidence jumps to highest level in 9 years
30 November 2016 - US consumer confidence rebounded this month to the highest level in more than nine years as Americans appeared unfazed by a tumultuous election campaign. Americans' assessment of current economic conditions was also the sunniest since July 2007. Their expectations for the next six months were the most optimistic since June 2015. The survey was mostly taken before the Nov. 8 election. Economists monitor the mood of consumers because their spending drives growth, accounting for almost 70 percent of U.S. economic output. The U.S. economy looks healthy. (more)

Survey: US businesses add 216,000 jobs, most in 5 months
30 November 2016 - U.S. companies added a solid 216,000 jobs in November, the most since June and evidence that the incoming Trump administration is inheriting a solid economy. Payroll provider ADP said Wednesday that nearly all the gains occurred in service sectors such as retail, hotels, and restaurants, as well as higher-paying professional services. Construction firms added 2,000 jobs... The figures add to other recent signs that the economy is expanding at a decent pace. And there are signs wages are picking up after years of sluggish growth. (more)

US economy grew at 3.2 percent in third quarter, fastest pace in 2 years
30 November 2016 - The U.S. economy in the third quarter grew at the fastest pace in two years, with a revised report showing stronger consumer spending than first estimated. The gross domestic product, the country's total output of goods and services, expanded at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the July-September period, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday, 29 November. (more)

Canada sets in motion microbeads prohibition
29 November 2016 - Canada this month took steps toward joining the United States in banning the sale of personal-hygiene products that contain tiny plastics known as microbeads in an effort to keep them away from fish and wildlife and address plastic pollution in general. (more)

Top automakers fund charging sites to boost electric-car demand across Europe
29 November 2016 - Top carmakers in Germany have agreed to jointly invest in thousands of ultra-fast charging sites across Europe to boost mainstream acceptance of electric cars, the companies said. The manufacturers want to create about 400 charging sites in a first step and, by 2020, ensure that customers have access to thousands of charging points, they said, citing a memorandum of understanding. (more)

US: When food banks say no to sugary junk, schools offer a solution
29 November 2016 - This is the time of year when donations to food banks spike. But some food banks are getting pickier about what they'll accept. Earlier this year the Capital Area Food Bank announced it would 'dramatically' cut back on junk food it receives and distributes. This means saying 'no' to donations such as sheet cakes, holiday candy, sugary sodas, and other processed, bakery items. Other food pantries are following a similar strategy. So, where does Share food pantry in McLean, Virginia find the kind of donations they're looking for? It turns out, the elementary school across the street has become a key partner, giving the food pantry about a hundred pounds of foods each week. (more)

First flight in half century leaves Miami bound for Havana
28 November 2016 - Just three days after the death of Fidel Castro, the first regularly scheduled flight to Cuba's capital in more than a half-century has left from Miami. Several airlines began routes to other Cuban cities earlier this year; Monday morning's flight was the first of the new Havana-bound service and the first of four daily flights American Airlines plans out of Miami International. ... The flights were made possible under newly restored ties between Cuba and U.S. President Barack Obama's administration. (more)

US: Nostalgic customers still seeking out LL Bean's ol' boots
27 November 2016 - L.L. Bean is kicking it up a notch as demand continues to surge for its iconic boot. The Maine-based outdoors retailer has leased a larger, 110,000-square-foot building and plans to install a third injection-molding machine to manufacture the rubber soles. It's also hiring 100 more workers in the new year to make the boots. Annual sales have grown from fewer than 100,000 a decade ago to more than 600,000 this year. (more)

Dialing up deals: Black Friday online sales hit new high in US
26 November 2016 - Holiday shoppers eager to snag big discounts turned to the internet in record fashion this week, one tracking company said, driving online sales on Black Friday to a new high. Consumers spent $3.34 billion shopping online on Friday, a 21.6 percent increase from the same day last year, according to Adobe, which tracks online retail transactions. Even as online spending hit new highs this Black Friday, many shoppers across the U.S. still ventured to malls looking for deals. (more)

Tech solutions to tackle overfishing, labor abuse at sea
26 November 2016 - Fishing boats used high-tech systems to find vast schools of fish for decades, depleting stocks of some species and leading to the complete collapse of others. Now more than a dozen apps, devices, and monitoring systems aimed at tracking unscrupulous vessels and the seafood they catch are being rolled out -- high-tech solutions some say could also help prevent labor abuse at sea. (more)

Olive business roots young farmers in drying rural Morocco
24 November 2016 - Standing amid rows of healthy fava bean plants, El Badaoui Abdelatif explains how his team of young technicians has helped farmers in rural Sidi Badhaj, at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, grow more olives -- and earn more money -- despite a drying climate. (more)

Scientists go big with first aquatic species map for US West
24 November 2016 - Scientists are aiming to create a biodiversity map that identifies thousands of aquatic species in every river and stream in the western United States. They say that by next summer, the first Aquatic Environmental DNA Atlas will be available to the public. (more)

The science behind why you shouldn't stop giving thanks after Thanksgiving
24 November 2016 - Gratitude is too good to be left at the Thanksgiving table. On most days, gratitude manifests as an emotional reaction to a favorable event or outcome. But it also can be a way of life. People who consciously choose daily to seek out things in their lives to be thankful for are, research has shown, happier and healthier. (more)

US: Improve attitude with gratitude, James Taylor tells fans
24 November 2016 - James Taylor has a Thanksgiving message for his fans: Gratitude improves your attitude. The singer says in an email that giving thanks is the key to overcoming setbacks and dealing with reversals of fortune. 'To whom we give it is a big question but just go ahead on and do it. Gratitude is the way to an improved attitude . . .To have been born in human form and consciousness aboard this unbelievably beneficent planet is an incredible stroke of luck.' (more)

US: Opening their homes to Coast Guard recruits for Thanksgiving
24 November 2016 - Young men and women training to become members of the U.S. Coast Guard will enjoy a home-cooked meal thanks to strangers who welcome them into their southern New Jersey homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas as part of a tradition that has taken place for 33 years. Operation Fireside grew from efforts by the American Red Cross to care for service members, said Red Cross New Jersey Region spokeswoman Laura Steinmetz. Lifetime friendships between recruits and families are often formed. (more)

Spice of life: Saffron harvest offers jobs, opportunity in Afghanistan
23 November 2016 - It is early morning in a saffron field outside the western Afghan city of Herat and dozens of women are harvesting the delicate purple flowers, working quickly to gather as many as they can before the sun gets too hot. ... the Afghan saffron industry has grown and is establishing a reputation for quality in a market still dominated by neighboring Iran, which accounts for almost 90 percent of global production. (more)

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