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India's polished diamond exports seen rising 15 percent on U.S. demand
4 May 2016 - India's cut and polished diamond exports in 2016/17 could rise 15 percent from a year ago to a value of $23 billion as demand has been improving from the United States, Europe, and some Asian countries, the head of a trade body said on Thursday. India is a global diamond polishing hub where 14 out of every 15 rough diamonds in the world are polished. (more)

Diamond the size of a tennis ball could sell for over $70 million
4 May 2016 - It's a rock for the ages. A 3-billion-year-old diamond the size of a tennis ball -- the largest discovered in over a century -- could sell for more than $70 million, auctioneer Sotheby's said Wednesday. The 'Lesedi la Rona' diamond was unearthed last November in Botswana. The auctioneer said the rough gemstone 'of exceptional transparency' could yield the largest top-quality diamond ever cut and polished. David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's jewelry division, called the discovery 'the find of a lifetime' and the auction unprecedented, because no rough diamond of this size has ever been auctioned. (more)

Lesedi la Rona among largest diamonds ever found
4 May 2016 - The 1,109-carat Lesedi la Rona diamond, to be sold by Sotheby's in London on June 29, is one of the biggest gem-quality diamonds ever discovered. Discovered in Botswana in 2015, it joins an elite list of hefty rocks: (more)

European court OKs crackdown on e-cigarettes, packaging
4 May 2016 - The European Union's top court dealt a blow to the tobacco industry Wednesday by approving sweeping new rules that will require plain cigarette packs, ban menthol cigarettes, and regulate the growing electronic cigarette market. (more)

Survey: Growth at US services firms strengthened in April
4 May 2016 - A private survey says growth accelerated in April at U.S. services companies, a potential positive for the economy after a sluggish start to 2016. New orders and employment measures all advanced last month, showing a stronger pace of expansion. (more)

US: Government reports drop in overall crime in nation's schools
4 May 2016 - The latest government snapshot of school crime paints a picture of safer schools with declines in violent crime, bullying and harassment. 'Our nation's schools should be safe havens for teaching and learning, free of crime and violence,' the report said. 'Any instance of crime or violence at school not only affects the individuals involved, but also may disrupt the educational process and affect bystanders, the school itself, and the surrounding community.' The report said the number of criminal incidents on college campuses declined 8 percent in 2013 from the previous year. (more)

Taj Pabari: Meet the 16 year old software tycoon whose DIY tablet kits are 'Lego of the 21st century'
3 May 2016 - Inventor and entrepreneur Taj Pabari started his career by creating a technology website when he was 11 years old. In 2014 the Queensland high school student founded his company Fiftysix, which creates electronic tablets for the not-for-profit and private sectors. Now 16, Taj describes his ImaginTech build-it-yourself tablet kits as 'Lego of the 21st century'. His company will announce its net worth when Taj turns 18. The group has already travelled to remote and regional communities in Victoria and Queensland, as well as Nepal and India, donating tablets to children. (more)

US: New York businesses to cut trash by half in 'Zero Waste' plan
3 May 2016 - More than 30 New York City businesses, including Whole Foods Market Inc and Walt Disney Co's ABC, have agreed to cut the trash they send to landfills by half by June, the mayor's office said on Monday. Participants in the challenge, which began in February, have already slashed 60 percent of their waste, on average. The challenge also requires businesses that regularly have leftover edible food to donate it to collection organizations like City Harvest, which distributes food to homeless shelters. (more)

Cheering Cubans greet first cruise ship from US in decades
2 May 2016 - The first passengers to cruise from the U.S. to Cuba in nearly 40 years streamed Monday into a crowd cheering the rebirth of commercial travel on waters that served as a stage for a half-century of Cold War hostility. Many watching the festive arrival praised a Cuban government decision to drop a longstanding ban on Cuban-born people returning to their homeland by sea, a step that allowed 16 Cuban-Americans to make the journey from Miami. (more)

3 planets orbiting dwarf star prime spots to search for life
2 May 2016 - Astronomers searching for life beyond our solar system may need to look no farther than a little, feeble nearby star. A Belgian-led team reported Monday that it's discovered three Earth-sized planets orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star less than 40 light-years away. It's the first time planets have been found around this type of star -- and it opens up new, rich territory in the search for extraterrestrial life. (more)

Global citizenship a growing sentiment among citizens of emerging economies - Poll BBC
2 May 2016 - For the first time in 15 years of tracking by GlobeScan, findings indicate that nearly one in two people (49 per cent) surveyed across 14 tracking countries see themselves more as global citizens than citizens of their country. This sentiment is being driven by citizens of large emerging economies, according to a new poll for the BBC World Service. (more)

Survey: US manufacturing grew again in April
2 May 2016 - U.S. manufacturing expanded in April for the second straight month, suggesting that factories are adapting to a strong dollar and economic weakness overseas, according to a private survey. Eleven of 18 manufacturing industries reported growth last month, and 15 reported increases in new orders and production. (more)

Indigenous dancers compete at North America's largest powwow
29 April 2016 - Nearly 3,000 indigenous dancers representing hundreds of tribes from across the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world kicked off one of North America's most prominent powwows on Friday. Spectators caught glimpses of feathered bustles, buckskin dresses, elaborate outfits with hand-stitched designs, and hair pieces covered with intricate beadwork. It's no doubt a showcase of indigenous cultures and a means to preserving tradition, but it's also about competition. (more)

Park workers in Spain discover huge Roman coin trove
29 April 2016 - Workers laying pipes in a southern Spanish park have unearthed a 600-kilogram (1,300-pound) trove of Roman coins in what culture officials say is a unique historic discovery. The Seville Archaeological Museum said the construction workers came across 19 amphoras containing thousands of bronze and silver-coated coins dating from the end of the fourth century. Museum director Ana Navarro said the discovery Wednesday in the southern town of Tomares outside Seville is unique for Spain and of incalculable value. (more)

'Global citizenship' rising, poll suggests
28 April 2016 - People are increasingly identifying themselves as global rather than national citizens, according to a BBC World Service poll. The trend is particularly marked in emerging economies, where people see themselves as outward looking and internationally minded. Pollsters GlobeScan questioned more than 20,000 people in 18 countries. To read more about the poll and 'What is 'global citizenship' anyway?' see (more)

Ancient Buddhist sculpture returned to Pakistani government
28 April 2016 - An ancient stone sculpture of Buddha's footprints that was smuggled into the United States and had been expected to sell for more than $1 million was returned to the government of Pakistan on Wednesday. The piece, called a Buddhapada, was taken from a Pakistani region rich in Buddhist history decades ago. The repatriated piece is a large stone slab with columns and two large footprints. Within the footprints are symbols, including a swastika, a 5,000-year-old Sanskrit symbol that denotes auspiciousness and was co-opted by Nazi Germany. (more)

Rosemary really is herb of remembrance, as scent boosts memory by 15 per cent, say scientists
27 April 2016 - Scientists at Northumbria University in the UK have shown that rosemary really is linked to better memory. A study of pensioners found that simply being in a room diffused with the smell of rosemary boosted memory test scores by 15 per cent. Previous studies on brain tissue in the lab have shown that the compounds in rosemary can stimulate activity. A separate experiment by the same team, also found the peppermint tea could boost memory. The research was presented at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Nottingham, England. (more)

US: Tens of thousands set to gather for nation's largest powwow
27 April 2016 - More than 100,000 spectators, artists, and Native American dancers are converging on Albuquerque as part of North America's largest powwow. The 33rd annual Gathering of Nations begins Thursday, 28 April. Some 700 Native American tribes in the United States and First Nations in Canada are represented at the gathering. Here are some things to know about the gathering's major highlights. (more)

Australia: Sunshine Coast builds Queensland's first-ever council solar farm
27 April 2016 - Queensland's first large-scale solar farm run by a local government -- saving that council $22 million in electricity costs over 30 years -- is now being built on the Sunshine Coast. It is the first local government in Australia to finance a solar plant itself. More than 57,800 solar panels will be built on stands three to four metres high above an abandoned canefield owned by the council. They will generate power by early 2017. (more)

How to improve memory: sniff rosemary and drink peppermint tea, study suggests
27 April 2016 - If your memory is a little lax, you might want to start growing rosemary in your home. Or at least invest in some diffuser oil. Researchers at Northumbria University found that simply being in a rosemary-scented room could improve memory by 15 per cent among older people. The same group of researchers also looked at the effects of peppermint tea and chamomile tea on memory. In a study of 180 people, researchers found peppermint tea helped to improve long term memory, working memory, and alertness. (more)

Motherly love helps children's brains grow bigger, scientists find
26 April 2016 - Motherly love can help children's brains grow at twice the rate as neglected youngsters, a study has shown. Although it is known that a nurturing, stable home life improves overall childhood development, it is the first research to prove that it has a significant impact on brain size. Children who received the most support from their mother's before school were found to have more growth in the hippocampus, which is associated with learning, memories, and regulating emotions. (more)

Thailand expects new solar farms to generate $512 mln investment
26 April 2016 - Thailand's latest solar energy project is expected to spur investment of around 18 billion baht ($512 million) this year, which should help support the slowing economy, the country's energy regulator said on Tuesday. The government aims to increase renewable capacity to 19,635 MW by 2036, up 20 percent from a previous target, with solar energy making up 31 percent, according to the energy ministry's latest power development plan. (more)

China, U.S. pledge to ratify Paris climate deal this year
22 April 2016 - China and the United States, the world's top producers of greenhouse gas emissions, pledged on Friday to formally adopt by the end of the year a Paris deal to slow global warming, raising the prospects of it being enforced much faster than anticipated. (more)

Face time with Queen, Princes completes Obama's royal visit
22 April 2016 - President Barack Obama plunged into a whirlwind of royal socializing Friday that began over a birthday lunch with Queen Elizabeth II and ended at a dinner hosted by the trio of young royals who represent the future of the British monarchy. President Obama, accompanied by his wife, Michelle, arrived by helicopter on the verdant grounds of Windsor Castle, where the Queen celebrated her 90th birthday a day earlier. 'The Queen has been a source of inspiration for me,' President Obama said later at a news conference alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron. 'She is truly one of my favorite people ... an astonishing person.' The Obamas brought as a gift a photo diary of the Queen's many visits with U.S. Presidents and First Ladies. The album opens with her 1951 visit when, as Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, she toured George Washington's estate at Mount Vernon in Virginia and met President Harry Truman at the White House. (more)

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