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Botswana's economy to return to growth this year: cenbank
30 May 2016 - Botswana's economy will return to growth this year after contracting in 2015 as water and electricity supply stabilise, the central bank said on Monday. (more)

Euro zone economic sentiment rises more than expected in May
30 May 2016 - Euro zone economic sentiment improved more than expected in May, data from the European Commission showed on Monday, 30 May. The improvement was due to more optimism among consumers and managers in the retail trade and construction sectors, while confidence remained stable in the industrial sector. Separately, the Commission's business climate index, which points to the phase of the business cycle, improved to 0.26 in May from an upwardly revised 0.15 in April. The improvement was much higher than market forecasts. (more)

Ivory Coast's economy to grow by 7.4 pct 2017-2020 - IMF
30 May 2016 - Ivory Coast's economy, French-speaking West Africa's largest, is expected to grow by an average of 7.4 percent between 2017 and 2020 after reaching 8.5 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund said on Friday. (more)

Rombaut uses pineapple 'leather' to make vegan-friendly sneakers
30 May 2016 - Experimental label Rombaut has harnessed plant-based alternatives such as fig tree bark from Uganda, tapa from the South Pacific, wild Amazonian rubber, and coconut fiber. For fall, Rombaut is rolling out a line of sneakers made with Pinatex, a robust yet pliable non-woven textile from the Philippines that is being hailed by many, as an alternative to leather. Engineered from the fibers of discarded pineapple leaves, Pinatex is both biodegradable and compostable. (more)

Spanish households keep first quarter growth on track
30 May 2016 - Spending by Spaniards seemingly unworried by a bout of political uncertainty helped the economy grow at a steady pace in the first quarter, final official data showed on Thursday, 26 May. Investment flows also held up, the National Statistics Institute said. A turnaround in the job market has fuelled consumption. Spain's economy is still expected to expand at one of the fastest rates in the euro zone this year. (more)

Strengthening the Miskitu and Mayangna languages in Nicaragua through digital media
29 May 2016 - The project 'Miskitus and Mayangnas on the internet,' was the grantee winner of the 2015 Microgrant call to support digital activism initiatives for indigenous languages. The project is being carried out in Nicaragua, and seeks to strengthen local languages with the active participation of young people. (more)

Canada: Ontario to spend $7-billion on sweeping climate change plan
29 May 2016 - The Ontario government will spend more than $7-billion over four years on a sweeping climate change plan that will affect every aspect of life -- from what people drive to how they heat their homes and workplaces -- in a bid to slash the province's carbon footprint. (more)

Cyprus peace talks appear to be back on track
28 May 2016 - Talks to reunify the ethnically divided island of Cyprus appeared to be back on track Friday when its president said he's ready to pick up where things left off following a halt after a perceived attempt to diplomatically upgrade the island's breakaway Turkish Cypriot north. A Turkish invasion in the wake of a 1974 coup aiming at union with Greece split Cyprus into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north. Much progress has been achieved in a year of talks and both leaders say they aim to reach a deal reunifying the island as a federation by the end of 2016. (more)

US consumer sentiment up in May to highest in nearly a year
28 May 2016 - Americans turned more optimistic about the economy in May than the previous month, buoyed by steady hiring and higher incomes. The University of Michigan said Friday that its index of consumer sentiment rose to 94.7 in May, the highest in nearly a year. That's up from 89 in April. The increase could drive greater economic growth, as a more optimistic consumer is typically more likely to spend. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. (more)

In Hiroshima, Obama honors bombing victims, urges world to do better
27 May 2016 - President Barack Obama paid tribute Friday to the 140,000 victims of the atomic bomb dropped 71 years ago on Hiroshima, and called on the world to abandon 'the logic of fear' that encourages the stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Obama's trip to Hiroshima made him the first U.S. President to visit the site of the world's first atomic bomb attack. With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe standing by his side, Obama urged the world to do better. (more)

EU agency wants 65 pct cut in farm use of last-resort antibiotic
26 May 2016 - Agricultural use of a last-resort antibiotic should be cut by two-thirds to limit the spread of dangerous drug resistance, European medicine regulators said on Thursday, 26 May. The demand for strict curbs on giving colistin to animals is the latest in a string of warnings about antimicrobial resistance. (more)

G7 aims for entry into effect of Paris accord by year-end
26 May 2016 - Group of Seven (G7) leaders agreed on Friday that they will aim for the Paris climate agreement to go into effect by the end of the year, a Japanese senior government spokesman said. Last December in Paris, almost 200 nations agreed a sweeping plan to end global dependence on fossil fuels to limit rising temperatures. (more)

President Obama ready to face historic ground of Hiroshima
26 May 2016 - Convinced that the time for this moment is right at last, President Barack Obama on Friday will become the first American President to confront the historic and haunted ground of Hiroshima. He will not apologize. He will not second-guess President Harry Truman's decision to unleash the awful power of nuclear weapons. He will not dissect Japanese aggression in World War II. Rather, Obama aimed to offer a simple reflection, acknowledging the devastating toll of war and coupling it with a message that the world can -- and must -- do better. (more)

US: Bees, butterflies to get better habitat along Interstate 35
26 May 2016 - Soon, passengers zipping along Interstate 35 will see a lusher refuge and more food for bees and butterflies in the hopes of helping the insects boost their declining populations, six states and the Federal Highway Administration announced Thursday. The 1,500-mile stretch of road from northern Minnesota to southern Texas is a flyway for monarch butterflies that migrate between Mexico and Canada, and is surrounded by acres of public land that can serve as friendly territory for the bees and butterflies that pollinate the plants that produce much of the nation's food. (more)

US: First Lady tells Native American grads to live their values
26 May 2016 - Michelle Obama told graduates at a Native American high school Thursday to take pride in their history and cultures. Seated in the first several rows of a school pavilion, the 104 graduating seniors received their diplomas wearing traditional clothing of their tribes on a stage featuring textiles, drums, and baskets from the region's tribes. The speech was delivered In a commencement address at Santa Fe Indian School as part of an Obama initiative that aims to start a dialogue about creating opportunities for Native American youth, a group that White House says makes up the nation's most vulnerable population. (more)

China to replace direct coal combustion with electricity in new plan
25 May 2016 - China will reduce the amount of coal burned directly in industrial furnaces and residential heating systems in order to tackle a major source of smog, the country's energy regulator said on Wednesday. China currently relies on coal for around 64 percent of its total primary energy needs and for three-quarters of its total power generation. (more)

France helps Syrian archaeologists restore world famous antiquities
25 May 2016 - Young Syrians tasked with restoring their country's world famous archaeological heritage, ravaged by five years of war, are getting a helping hand from French experts. Syria's antiquities chief, Maamoun Abdulkarim, has already moved thousands of artifacts from the ancient city of Palmyra and other historic sites into safekeeping. He has now invited the experts to spend a year training Syrian architects and archaeologists in restoration techniques. (more)

Most American households doing better financially
25 May 2016 - Most American households say their finances have strengthened slightly according to the Federal Reserve's annual survey on economic well-being. The latest Fed survey, conducted in October and November, found that 69 percent of those responding reported that they were either 'living comfortably' or 'doing ok.' That's up from 65 percent in the 2014 survey and 62 percent in 2013. (more)

In final drive, Obama seeks better relations with US foes
24 May 2016 - In his final stretch as President, Barack Obama is driving the United States toward friendlier relations with longstanding adversaries, working to consign bitter enmities with Vietnam, Iran, Cuba, and Myanmar to the history books. Defiant cries of naivete by his opponents have only strengthened his conviction that the U.S. must release itself from an us-versus-them mentality forged during wars that ended decades ago. (more)

Adult smoking rate in US is falling fast
24 May 2016 - The nation seems to be kicking its smoking habit faster than ever before. The rate of smoking among adults in the U.S. fell to 15 percent last year thanks to the biggest one-year decline in more than 20 years, according to a new government report. Why the smoking rate fell so much in 2015 -- and whether it will fall as fast again -- is not quite clear. (more)

Refugees and scholars: Colleges offer war-torn a route to US
24 May 2016 - Colleges in the U.S. are opening their doors -- and their financial aid -- to Syrian refugees. Over the past year, at least a dozen schools have promised to cover full or partial tuition for Syrian refugees who are accepted for enrollment. They join a coalition of more than 60 colleges that have started providing scholarships to Syrian students since the country's civil war began in 2011. (more)

US: New-home sales jump to highest level in more than 8 years
24 May 2016 - Americans ramped up their purchases of new homes in April to the highest level since January 2008, evidence of a strong start to the spring buying season. Steady job gains and low mortgage rates have encouraged more Americans to buy new homes. That trend is driving home construction and helping support the economy. More building is expanding the supply of homes available for sale, which could help relieve some pricing pressure. (more)

Could UAE solar push lead a trend for the Gulf?
23 May 2016 - As the Gulf states take steps to expand their use of clean energy, a bold plan by the United Arab Emirates to boost its use of renewable electricity from less than 1 percent to 24 percent in the next five years could be a game-changer for the region, experts say. Much of the world is moving away from oil for its electricity generation, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which says that globally the fossil fuel has dropped from a 25 percent share to 3.6 percent over the last four decades. (more)

Pope embraces Al-Azhar imam in sign of renewed relations
23 May 2016 - Pope Francis on Monday embraced the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the prestigious Sunni Muslim center of learning, reopening an important channel for Catholic-Muslim dialogue after a five-year lull. As Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib arrived for his audience in the Apostolic Palace, Francis said that the fact that they were meeting at all was significant. After the audience, el-Tayyib travels to Paris to open a Muslim-Catholic conference on East-West relations. (more)

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