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Melbourne found most 'liveable city' - The Economist
19 August 2014 - Melbourne tops the ranking as the world's most pleasant city to live in for the fourth year running by The Economist magazine. Vienna, Vancouver, and Toronto captured 2nd, 3rd. and 4th places in the list of 140 cities released on Tuesday. The magazine's Intelligence Unit survey assesses the liveability of cities based on a number of key factors, including stability and the quality of healthcare, culture, the environment, education, and infrastructure. (more)

Wall Street jump takes stock index to 14-year peak on fading Ukraine worries
19 August 2014 - United States and European stock prices surged on Monday, taking a leading US equities index to a 14-year high, as investors breathed easier over the Ukraine crisis and knocked oil prices to lows not seen in more than a year. In Europe, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 1.2 per cent. German blue chips, which are considered especially vulnerable to tensions between the West and Russia, were among the top gainers. (more)

Australia, Indonesia hope to heal rift with pact
19 August 2014 - Australia and Indonesia have reached an agreement that will heal a bilateral rift sparked last November by accusations that Australia had tapped the cellphones of the Indonesian President, his wife, and eight Indonesian ministers and officials in 2009, an official said Tuesday. Outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono withdrew his ambassador from Australia in protest. Relations have been gradually proving since then, and Indonesian Ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema returned to Canberra in May. (more)

Canada: TSX hits two-week high on upbeat US data
19 August 2014 - Canada's main stock index touched its highest level in more than two weeks on Tuesday as positive US economic data helped drive advances in every major sector. The Toronto market was up for a fourth straight session, taking its gains for the year to more than 13 per cent. (more)

Indian shares hit second straight record high
19 August 2014 - ndian shares rose to their second consecutive record high on Tuesday as blue-chips such as Tata Motors gained on positive institutional inflows, while oil retailers surged after Brent crude prices hovered near 14-month lows. Both the indexes marked their sixth consecutive day of gains, their longest winning streak since 24 July when they rose for eight sessions. (more)

Philippine June exports grow at fastest rate in six months
19 August 2014 - Total exports in the first half of the year rose 8.3 per cent from the same period last year to $29.8 billion, above the government's 6 per cent target for overall exports growth this year. Electronics and semiconductors, which made up 40.8 per cent of total exports for the month, grew 10.7 per cent against a decline of 2.2 per cent in the same month last year. The Southeast Asian nation provides about 10 per cent of the world's semiconductor manufacturing services. (more)

Philippines sees growth in second quarter, rest of the year, better than first quarter
19 August 2014 - Improving exports, robust consumption, and spending related to typhoon rehabilitation will ensure growth in the second quarter and subsequent quarters will be better than in the first three months of the year, the Philippines' economic planning chief Arsenio Balisacan said. Gil Beltran, chief economist of the Finance department, said in a statement on Thursday real growth in the second quarter could hit 7 per cent, based on data showing a rise in manufacturing activity. (more)

UK economy grows at fastest annual pace in over six years in second quarter
19 August 2014 - Britain's economy kept up its strong growth in the second quarter of 2014 and its yearly pace of expansion was revised up to 3.2 per cent, its best performance in more than six years, official data showed on Friday. (more)

US home construction jumps 15.7 per cent in July
19 August 2014 - US home construction rebounded in July, rising to an eight-month high and offering hope that housing has regained momentum after two months of declines. Applications for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, also showed strength in July. Economists noted that the July performance was much better than expected, and June was revised significantly higher, both good signs for the future. (more)

US homebuilder confidence rises in August
19 August 2014 - United States homebuilders are feeling more confident in their sales prospects headed into next year, a sign that home construction and sales of newly built homes may pick up after stalling this summer. Housing has been recovering over the past two years. (more)

US housing market improving, inflation pressures muted
19 August 2014 - US housing starts surged to an eight-month high in July, suggesting the nation's housing market recovery was back on track after stalling in the second half of last year. While the rebound points to sustained economic strength, other data on Tuesday showed inflation largely under wraps. Groundbreaking for new housing jumped 15.7 per cent last month. Groundbreaking for single-family homes, the largest part of the market, increased 8.3 per cent in July to a seven-month high. (more)

Bob Keesee's rain catchers bring clean water to Haiti's poorest
18 August 2014 - Bob Keesee first went to Haiti nearly 20 years ago with a group that planned to build a church that could also be used as a clinic and school. When he saw how far women had to walk to get water, and the desperate efforts people made to collect rainwater, he knew he had to do something. (more)

Native Americans connect to past through gardens
18 August 2014 - A train roars by as Native American children and instructors climb up a railroad embankment in Chicago, headed toward a barren patch of land that they'll transform into a garden with edible and medicinal plants. Some carry potted plants or spades to break up the earth hardened by the summer sun, eager to connect with their natural surroundings. They're continuing an important cultural tradition that can be difficult to maintain for native people who, decades ago, left reservations for urban areas like Chicago, which now has one of the 10 largest native populations in the US. (more)

India: Indian shares hit record high on Modi hopes, wholesale inflation
18 August 2014 - Indian shares rose over 1 per cent on Monday to a record high as blue-chips such as ICICI Bank surged after Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to fire up the bureaucracy to deliver results, while easing wholesale inflation also helped. (more)

US home builder sentiment at seven-month high in August: NAHB
18 August 2014 - US homebuilder sentiment rose in August to its highest since January as labour market conditions improved, data from the National Association of Home Builders showed on Monday. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index rose to 55 in August from 53 in July, the group said in a statement. It was the third straight monthly gain, and topped the mean estimate of analysts polled by Reuters for a reading of 53. (more)

Canada's Desire2Learn raises $85 million for global e-learning push
18 August 2014 - Canada's D2L Inc said on Thursday it raised $85 million in venture capital funds, the country's biggest such deal this year, as the fast-growing owner of educational software maker Desire2Learn looks to ramp up its overseas expansion. Desire2Learn, based in the Kitchener-Waterloo corridor some 100 km (62 miles) west of Toronto, recently opened offices in Brazil, Singapore, Britain, and Australia. It says almost 900 software applications from schools, universities and companies are integrated into its Brightspace platform serving 15 million learners. (more)

Scotland: Andrew Lloyd Webber to help save national treasures
18 August 2014 - Stage impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber has revealed he is to bankroll a new awards scheme aimed at honouring efforts to save Scotland's threatened national treasures. Campaigns to secure the future of neglected buildings, rundown monuments, unsung landmarks and under-threat parks are set to receive national recognition under the award-winning composer's plans. The Phantom of the Opera composer is helping the Scottish Government and Historic Scotland to set up a new 'heritage angel' scheme with a donation of almost £125,000, which will pay for the first two years of the venture. (more)

The beauty-happiness connection
18 August 2014 - Beauty tends to feel like something that must be found in special places -- parks and museums, galleries, and exotic cities. But finding beauty in normal activities can bring deep happiness to life, studies show. According to the Goldberg study, what makes people happiness is most easily attained by living in an aesthetically beautiful city. The things people were constantly surrounded by -- lovely architecture, history, green spaces, cobblestone streets -- had the greatest effect on their happiness. The cumulative positive effects of daily beauty worked subtly but strongly. (more)

Canada: University of Victoria's green push earns top marks in US
18 August 2014 - The University of Victoria stands alone on the Green Honour Roll. UVic is the only Canadian post-secondary institution to earn a spot the 2015 honour roll for environmental efforts, as compiled by the Princeton Review. It is a distinction shared with 23 American schools, including Stanford University and the Georgia Institute of Technology (more)

UN nuclear chief upbeat after 'useful' Iran visit
18 August 2014 - Iran has given a firm commitment to cooperate with a UN nuclear watchdog investigation into suspected atomic bomb research, the head of the agency said after what he described as a 'useful' visit to Tehran on Sunday. (more)

Colombia's war victims ask country to support peace talks
18 August 2014 - Victims of Colombia's 50-year-old war pleaded with peace negotiators to reach a deal and said they were willing to forgive acts of cruelty, urging Colombians to unite behind the effort to end the bloodshed. Twelve victims from all sides in the Colombian conflict addressed peace negotiators in Havana on Saturday, marking the first time victims have been given an official voice in peace talks to end a war that has killed 200,000 people. (more)

Endangered seabirds making comeback in Scotland
18 August 2014 - A Scottish seabird has returned to nest in what is proving to be a bumper year for important species. The discovery that the manx shearwater has returned to deserted nest burrows comes as studies show many threatened seabirds are making a comeback after years of decline, with some having their most successful breeding seasons for a decade. (more)

India: The Ajanta cave murals -- 'nothing less than the birth of Indian art'
18 August 2014 - The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India are about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE. The paintings of the Ajanta caves are possibly the finest surviving picture galleries from the ancient world. Now, the oldest in two of the caves -- hidden for decades -- have been painstakingly restored to reveal their true beauty. (more)

International players embrace Australian Rules Football
18 August 2014 - Australian Rules Football isn't a global sport but several countries now have their own national teams and many of them are in Melbourne for the International World Cup. It's the fifth year the cup has taken place, and it is a chance for a diverse range of players to come together and learn from the best in the game. (more)

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