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Electric car to take record-setting 12,000-mile road trip across the US
18 April 2014 - Summer is almost here, and thousands of US travellers are gearing up for the great American tradition of road tripping across the States. But what if those trips could be taken by electric cars instead of pollution-spewing gas vehicles? Norman Hajjar is setting out to prove once and for all that electric cars can go the distance by driving a Tesla Model S on a record-breaking 12,000-mile trip across the USA. (more)

Scotland: Forestry Commission buys Rothiemurchus forest
18 April 2014 - A massive part of the ancient Caledonian pine forest -- described as the Crown Jewel of woodlands in Scotland -- has been sold to Forestry Commission Scotland by a Highland estate. The Grants of Rothiemurchus, which has owned the land for over 500 years, has announced the sale. Johnnie Grant, owner of the Rothiemurchus estate, said, 'Rothiemurchus Upper Forest is exceptional, as for hundreds of years my family have actively enabled it to regenerate naturally and not allowed it to be ploughed or planted. He continued, 'For many years we've worked in partnership with the Commission who are our neighbours on both sides and we trust them to look after this wonderful place and ensure it remains an outstanding natural habitat.' (more)

US: Jobless claims, factory data put some shine on economy
18 April 2014 - New claims for jobless benefits hovered near their pre-recession levels last week and manufacturing in the Mid-Atlantic region accelerated in April, suggesting an upswing in economic activity. Coming on the heels of fairly bullish data on retail sales and industrial production, Thursday's reports also hinted job growth may be picking up slightly. 'The data add further evidence to the notion that the economy has exerted positive momentum at the start of the second quarter,' said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina. (more)

Egypt: Redirecting sunlight to urban alleyways
18 April 2014 - In dense, urban centres around the world, many people live and work in dim and narrow streets surrounded by tall buildings that block sunlight. To alleviate the problem, Egyptian researchers have developed a corrugated, translucent panel that redirects sunlight onto narrow streets and alleyways. The panel is mounted on rooftops and hung over the edge at an angle, where it spreads sunlight onto the street below. The researchers describe their design in a paper published in Energy Express, a supplement of The Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Optics Express. (more)

Women edge into Gulf boardrooms as economies, societies shift
18 April 2014 - Amina al-Rustamani, a member of a prominent UAE family, raised eyebrows among friends and relatives when she started her career in Dubai 13 years ago as an electrical engineer, becoming one of few females in the Middle East to enter the profession. She is now chief executive of TECOM Investments, part of a conglomerate owned by the ruler of Dubai which manages a complex of nine business parks and spearheads the emirate's economic ambitions in information technology, science, and education. Almost unimaginable just a generation ago, Rustamani's rise to the highest level of business in a Gulf Arab country underlines a shift in the business environment that is allowing the gradual entry of women into boardrooms and other positions of economic power in the region. (more)

Heather Fleming wants to solve poverty through better design
18 April 2014 - Heather Fleming spent her childhood summers collecting water. Growing up near the Navajo Nation, where many families did not -- and do not -- have running water, electricity, or plumbing, Fleming understood the precious gift of water. Frustrated by the inequality she experienced as a Navajo, and the corporate limitations of the Silicon Valley design firm she later worked for, Fleming founded Catapult Design to build new products and service models for impoverished communities. Since its founding, Catapult Design has re-designed handwashing stations to drive better sanitation in Kenya, created a methodology to enable energy innovation in Indonesia, and prototyped water storage tools. What all of these projects has in common is an intent focus on knowing the consumer. (more)

Germany: BMW lifts i3 electric car production 43 per cent on higher demand
18 April 2014 - Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), the world's largest maker of luxury vehicles, has increased production of the i3 electric city car 43 per cent to meet demand that has exceeded the carmaker's initial expectations. The premium manufacturer in recent weeks has raised daily output to 100 vehicles from 70 previously at the factory in Leipzig, Germany, where the model is assembled, Harald Krueger, BMW production chief, said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. (more)

Scientists find Earth-sized world in orbit friendly to life
18 April 2014 - For the first time, scientists have found an Earth-sized world orbiting in a life-friendly zone around a distant star. The discovery, announced on Thursday, is the closest scientists have come so far to finding a true Earth twin. The star, known as Kepler-186 and located about 500 light years away in the constellation Cygnus, is smaller and redder than the sun. (more)

US stocks: Earnings lift S&P 500, Nasdaq; S&P's best week since July
18 April 2014 - US stocks ended a holiday-shortened week with mostly modest gains on Thursday, though the S&P 500 notched its biggest weekly advance since July as Morgan Stanley and General Electric rallied after strong results. With less than one-fifth of S&P 500 companies having reported results so far, about 63 per cent have topped earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, exceeding the 56 per cent average over the past four quarters. About 52 per cent have beaten revenue forecasts, about even with the 54 per cent average over the past four quarters. (more)

Sweden launches campaign to spread peace, love, and democracy - through videogames
18 April 2014 - The Swedish government has launched an initiative which it claims will spread values of democracy and creativity throughout the world -- via the medium of video games. The crowd-sourced ideas have been boiled down to a brief which, with the help of a team of Swedish developers, will be turned into the new -- and maybe even commercially viable -- game of the future. (more)

US: Apache CEO, Vermont activist build alliance on climate issues
18 April 2014 - Steve Farris runs a $33 billion Texas oil and gas company and turns, for advice, to a bearded Vermont environmentalist. As other energy firms battled climate change and anti-pollution activists in recent years, the Apache Corp chief executive instead built an alliance with Steven Heim, managing director of Boston Common Asset Management, one of the better-known socially responsible investment firms. (more)

Switzerland: A homemade solar lamp for developing countries
18 April 2014 - To overcome the many problems posed by kerosene lamps used by 1.6 billion people across the globe, LEDsafari has developed an ingenious system for a do-it-yourself lamp made from locally-found equipment, such as electrical wire, a mobile phone battery, and empty bottles. More than 200 people in India, Kenya, and Tanzania are already receiving the economic and health benefits of this ingenious system and are enjoying daily light through this process. There is no patent to impede the widespread use of the system developed by Govinda Upadhyay, PhD student in the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory in Switzerland. (more)

US releases $450 million of frozen Iranian funds after IAEA report
18 April 2014 - The United States has taken steps to release a $450 million installment of frozen Iranian funds following a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verifying that Iran is living up to its part of a landmark nuclear pact with world powers, the US State Department said on Thursday. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that 'all sides have kept the commitments made' under the agreement. She said that 'as Iran remains in line with its commitments', the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia, and the European Union 'will continue to uphold our commitments as well'. (more)

Unemployment rates fall in 21 US states last month
18 April 2014 - More than two-thirds of the states reported job gains in March, as hiring improves for much of the country during what has been a sluggish but sustained 4 1/2-year recovery. Hiring increased in 34 states and fell in 16. The unemployment rate stayed at 6.7 per cent in March for the second straight month. (more)

UK: Brainy Bike Lights invention represents a 'breakthrough in road safety' for cyclists
18 April 2014 - Crawford Hollingworth, an expert in behavioural psychology, has launched a set of bike lights he believes represent a breakthrough in road safety. They are startlingly simple and, in all ways but one, like any other bike lights -- white at the front, red at the rear. The difference: a black stencil turns the super-bright LED light each device emits into an image of a person on a bike. (more)

US mid-Atlantic region factory activity expanded in April - Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank
18 April 2014 - Factory activity in the US mid-Atlantic region expanded in April at a faster clip than expected, a survey showed on Thursday. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index rose to 16.6 from 9.0 in March, topping economists' expectations for 10.0, according to a Reuters poll. (more)

Russia: Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions
17 April 2014 - Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia, and Ukraine reached agreement after marathon talks Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine. The tentative agreement puts on hold additional economic sanctions the West had prepared to impose on Russia if the talks were fruitless. And that will ease international pressure both on Moscow and nervous European Union nations that depend on Russia for their energy. US Secretary of State John Kerry called the deal the result of a 'good day's work' but emphasized that the words on paper must be followed by concrete actions. (more)

Thailand's eco-car project attractive to investors
17 April 2014 - The eco-car project in Thailand has received a positive response from consumers. It has also attracted investors who have been given incentives to produce environmentally friendly vehicles. An eco-car is a motor vehicle that emits either modest or no greenhouse gases. It is less harmful to the environment, in comparison to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles running on gasoline or diesel. The eco-car models also offer lower fuel consumption. The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) expects that the project will help push the country's car manufacturing sector toward its target of three million units by 2017. (more)

EU seeks to cut plastic bag use by 80 per cent by 2017
17 April 2014 - The European Parliament passed a directive on Wednesday aimed at cutting the use of thin single-use plastic carrier bags by 50 per cent by 2017 and 80 per cent two years later. The directive leaves it to individual states to choose their strategy, for example taxing bags or banning them. EU ministers are due to debate the law in June and the parliament will take it up again later this year following elections in May. (more)

US: Mentors help minority companies accelerate growth
17 April 2014 - Mel Gravely says his construction company might not exist today if he didn't have mentors to guide it. Gravely's company, TriVersity, joined a program called a minority business accelerator even before he bought a controlling interest in the Cincinnati-based company in 2006. It helped the company get started and win contracts that have helped Triversity's revenue double. Minority business accelerators have launched in a handful of metropolitan areas in recent years as local businesses, chambers of commerce and economic development groups work to create more jobs and improve the quality of life in their regions. (more)

New source of jobs for India's rural women
17 April 2014 - Among the rocky beaches, mudflats, and lagoons that line the southeastern tip of India, it's not unusual to see a group of women working together around a bamboo raft. These women are tending to young seaweed plants that, in just a month's time, will grow to five times their current size. Seaweed farming works well for women in places like rural India because it doesn't require a lot of money or expensive equipment to make it work, and requires women to be away from home for no more than 4 to 6 hours of the day. (more)

Japan: In green car race, Toyota adds muscle with fuel-cell launch
17 April 2014 - In 1997, Toyota caught its competitors by surprise with the revolutionary Prius, the first commercially successful gasoline-electric hybrid car. Now, the Japanese firm is trying to do the same with a technology that seems straight out of science fiction. Toyota Motor Corp will next year launch a hydrogen-powered car in the United States, Japan, and Europe. For now, people at Toyota are calling it the 2015 FC car, for fuel-cell. (more)

Canada: Ontario commits $25 million for cycling lanes
17 April 2014 - Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray has announced $25 million for cycling facilities on provincial highways and municipal roads over the next three years in an effort to make Ontario Canada's premier cycling province. It means cycling will be automatically incorporated into road works, Murray said Monday at the Ontario Bike Summit. (more)

Despite stark warnings, UN panel finds signs of hope on climate
17 April 2014 - Although greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, governments are beginning to embrace carbon-cutting initiatives, while technological advances are sharply reducing the cost of deploying solar and wind power, according to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. the report also said that the political will to reduce carbon emissions seems to be rising around the world, and that shifting the global energy system from fossil fuels to zero- or low-carbon sources would reduce economic growth by only about .06 per cent per year. 'The loss in consumption is relatively modest,' said IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri. (more)

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