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Vatican City: Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter
20 April 2014 - Marking Christianity's most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria, and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home. Francis prayed that God would 'enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence'. Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian, and English. (more)

On Easter, Pope calls for end to war; celebrates hope, peace, and reconciliation
20 April 2014 - Pope Francis, in his Easter address before a huge crowd, on Sunday denounced the 'immense wastefulness' in the world while many go hungry and called for an end to conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, and Africa. Francis, marking the second Easter season of his pontificate, celebrated a Mass to an overflowing crowd of at least 150,000 in Saint Peter's Square and beyond. Easter is the most important day on the liturgical calendar because it commemorates the day Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion and the Church sees it as a symbol of hope, peace, and reconciliation among peoples and nations. (more)

Easter morning delivery for space station
20 April 2014 - Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via a Dragon, versus a bunny. 'Gentlemen, the Easter Dragon is knocking at the door,' NASA's Mission Control said as the capsule was bolted into place. The SpaceX company's cargo ship, Dragon, spent two days chasing the International Space Station following its launch from Cape Canaveral. Astronauts used a robot arm to capture the capsule 260 miles above Egypt. (more)

Sprinkle, roll, dye, and hunt: Easter around the world
20 April 2014 - All over the world, people celebrate and observe Easter this week. Solemn church masses, processions, chocolate bunnies, and eggs come to mind. Traditions vary from one country to the next -- and some are quite unique. (more)

UN mission reports further progress in eliminating Syria's chemical weapons
20 April 2014 - Syria has, as of 19 April, removed or destroyed in-country approximately 80 per cent of its chemical weapons material, the head of the Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations has announced. Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, said in a statement that further engagement is expected to sustain momentum and to complete removal operations during the next days. (more)

An American home or business goes solar every four minutes
20 April 2014 - A fact sheet released at the White House Solar Summit states: 'Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar, supporting workers whose jobs can't be outsourced.' Since 2008, installed solar power capacity in the United States has risen rapidly from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) to an estimated 13 GW in 2014 -- a nearly eleven fold increase, which is enough renewable electricity to power more than 2.2 million American homes. At the summit, the US Department of Energy announced a $15 million programme to help state, local, and tribal governments build solar panels to continue the solar boom in the US. (more)

Chile: The telescope big enough to spot signs of alien life on other planets
20 April 2014 - A Chilean mountain is soon to be the location of the European Extremely Large Telescope. It will allow us, for the first time, to directly observe planets outside the solar system. When completed, the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) and its 39-metre mirror will allow astronomers to peer further into space and look further back into the history of the universe than any other astronomical device in existence. Its construction will push telescope-making to its limit, however. Its primary mirror will be made of almost 800 segments -- each 1.4 metres in diameter but only a few centimetres thick -- which will have to be aligned with microscopic precision. (more)

Global clean energy investment rises 9 per cent led by solar-power demand
20 April 2014 - Clean energy investment rose by 9 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier on surging demand for rooftop solar panels from the US to Japan. New investment in renewable power and energy efficiency rose to $47.7 billion in the first three months of the year from $43.6 billion. Bloomberg New Energy Finance Chairman Michael Liebreich highlighted two patterns: the increasing share of small-scale solar in total investment, and the expansion of investment into more developing countries. (more)

Iran says it watered down, converted over 200 kg of enriched uranium
20 April 2014 - Iran said on Saturday it had completed watering down and converting more than 200 kilograms (440 lb) of enriched uranium under a deal reached in Geneva last November with world powers over its disputed nuclear programme. 'Based on the agreement with the West, we were supposed to have half of our 200 kilogram stock of uranium diluted and the other half converted to uranium oxide,' Iran's atomic chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the Arabic-language Al Alam television channel. The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday that Iran has acted to cut its most sensitive nuclear stockpile by nearly 75 percent in implementing a landmark pact with world powers. (more)

President Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US
20 April 2014 - The White House has announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces. The Energy Department guaranteed at least $2.5 billion in loans for 'innovative' solar projects. (more)

Scotland: Biodiversity boost
20 April 2014 - Scientists conclude that mankind has done less harm to the life of the planet than has been feared. Much to the surprise of scientists from St Andrews University, the number of species, across all ranges of life forms, has remained pretty constant. Looking at the studies into biodiversity, they also found that as many recorded a species gain as experienced a loss. This is a tribute to the power of the survival instinct shared by all life forms. Plants and creatures that find themselves under threat, whether it be from predators or from a changing environment, will do all they can to 
ensure their own survival. (more)

Turkey looks to pistachio shells to heat new eco-city
20 April 2014 - Pistachios are already a key ingredient in Turkish baklava, but the country may now have found a new way to exploit the nuts known as 'green gold' -- by using their shells to heat a new eco-city. Officials are currently examining plans to build the country's first ecological city with buildings both private and public heated by burning pistachio shells. (more)

UK scientists find that birds choose best building materials
20 April 2014 - Birds can learn to choose the best building materials for their nests, according to scientists. It was previously thought that birds' choice of nest material was determined by their genes -- with each type of bird having an 'innate nest template'. But an experiment has now shown this to be a more cognitively complex activity. The study was published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B. (more)

US businessman Adam Braun builds schools around the world with Pencils of Promise
19 April 2014 - After abandoning a promising career as a management consultant, 30-year-old Adam Braun has taken on the massive challenge of providing infrastructure and resources for educating over 57 million children in the developing world with his organization, Pencils of Promise (PoP). Adam founded PoP in 2008 with an investment of $25, and has not looked back since. He has visited hundreds of small towns across six continents, handing out pencils to thousands of children. Today PoP has built over 170 schools in Ghana, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Laos, and continues to expand to newer territories. (more)

US President Obama: Easter a time to reflect on hope, renewal
19 April 2014 - President Barack Obama is encouraging Americans to draw strength and inspiration from the Easter and Passover holidays. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says Holy Week and Easter are times for reflection and renewal. He says the common threat of humanity is a shared commitment to loving our neighbours as ourselves. He says that there's no better time for people to rededicate themselves to that mission. (more)

Religion builds bridges in ethnically split Cyprus
19 April 2014 - An unexpected moment during the Good Friday service in a long-abandoned church in Cyprus' breakaway north illustrated how religion is helping to bring together Christian Greek Cypriots and Muslim Turkish Cypriots on this ethnically divided island. It came when Turkish Cypriot Umit Inatci handed the key of the church of Agios Georgios Exorinos in the medieval centre of Famagusta to the city's Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Vasilios, saying: 'This is not gift, it's something that is surrendered to its owner.' Rapturous applause greeted the announcement by Inatci, who helped make possible the first Holy Week service at the 14th-century church in nearly 60 years. (more)

Finland meets first Kyoto goals in greenhouse gas emissions
19 April 2014 - Finland has met first Kyoto goals in greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Finland emissions in a five-year period of 2008-2012 were five per cent below the assigned amount of emissions specified for Finland. According to Statistics Finland's greenhouse gas emission data, Finland's greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 fell by 5.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the previous year. (more)

Billboard produces drinkable water from desert air in Peru
19 April 2014 - Peruvian researchers have collaborated with an ad agency to create an unusual billboard that generates drinking water from thin air. While the billboard fulfills its traditional role as an advertising tool -- in this case for courses at Lima's University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) -- it harvests moisture directly from the air, which is then processed through a filtration system. Capable of producing 25 gallons (96 liters) of water a day during summer, the billboard has produced 9450 liters of clean drinking water for a nearby community in the three months since it was first installed. (more)

Russia will not import genetically modified products - Prime Minister Medvedev
19 April 2014 - Russia will not import GMO products, the country's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food. Moscow has no reason to encourage the production of genetically modified products or import them into the country, Medvedev told a congress of deputies from rural settlements on Saturday. Earlier, agriculture minister Nikolay Fyodorov also stated that Russia should remain free of genetically modified products. (more)

Spain: Researchers develop the first mobile charging system for electric vehicles
19 April 2014 - The Instituto Tecnológico de la Energía (ITE) in Spain has developed the first mobile charging system for electric vehicles. This system allows users to charge their vehicle from any plug -- not just from a specifically designed one -- as long as it has been previously authorized by an electric power company. The PREMISE project aims to update the recharging process and make it quicker through a mobile system, one that no longer requires installing a charging point but can use a normal household plug. (more)

US: Recovery from acid rain speeding up in Northeast lakes
19 April 2014 - Lakes in the US Northeast are recovering from acid rain faster now than in the past, according to a new study. For the study, researchers analyzed 43 sites in New York's Adirondack Mountains and 31 sites in New England. Sulfate concentrations, which are a measure of acidity, declined at a rate nearly three times faster between 2002 and 2010 than during the 1980s and 1990s. Nitrates, which also acidify, showed a decline for the first time after 2000. (more)

France: Pariss picks up where Tesla left off
19 April 2014 - The Pariss Electric Roadster has been making the rounds of European motor shows since 2012, and with each appearance, the car has reflected boosts to refinement, power, cruising range and projected price. Built around a rigid carbon fibre composite monocoque structure, the Pariss Roadster employs two electric motors -- one driving the front wheels and a second spinning the rears -- with a combined output of 242 horsepower. (more)

Italy and US: Solar-harvesting windows 
possible with advances in semiconductors
19 April 2014 - New semiconductor technology is advancing the development of house windows that could double as solar panels. Researchers in both the United States and Italy have studied 'quantum dots' -- ultra-small bits of semiconductors that transmit energy extremely efficiently and can be tuned toward specific colours. The research shows that quantum dots can be used in transparent materials to harvest sunlight with efficiencies comparable to standard solar panels. (more)

Yoga may help women ease PTSD symptoms - US study
19 April 2014 - Women enrolled in a small study reported a reduction in symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a series of yoga classes. 'The yoga group did well -- they improved in their PTSD symptoms -- and our control group actually did well, which we didn't expect,' Karen Mitchell told Reuters Health. Mitchell, from the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System, led the new study. 'Both groups were doing assessments, coming in every week, and interacting with us -- doing these kinds of things that might have been helpful for both groups,' Mitchell said. (more)

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