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German business confidence posts 5th straight increase
31 March 2015 - A closely watched survey is showing a bigger-than-expected increase in German business confidence as managers in Europe's biggest economy take a brighter view of its outlook for the next six months. (more)

South African children's reading project wins Lindgren Prize
31 March 2015 - The South African alternative education project PRAESA has been awarded this year's Astrid Lindgren Prize for children's literature for innovative ways of encouraging reading and literature among children and youth. The annual award, worth 5 million Swedish kronor ($580,000), is named after Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, creator of the Pippi Longstocking book series. (more)

Zimbabwe capital turns to solar streetlights to cut costs, crime: TRFN
30 March 2015 - Harare City Council is installing solar-powered street lights that will illuminate the central business district at night, with plans to extend the project to other parts of Zimbabwe's capital city. The country is increasingly turning to the sun for its energy requirements, with the government hoping to build billion-dollar solar plants countrywide if it can find needed investment. (more)

Business forecasters boost 2-year outlook for US economy
30 March 2015 - A business economics group has boosted its outlook for U.S. economic improvement this year and next, particularly for job growth. The March report from the National Association for Business Economics forecasts more hiring, a lower unemployment rate, a lower inflation rate, and more growth in consumer spending in 2015, compared to the group's forecast in December 2014. (more)

Canada's New Brunswick province bans fracking, plans study
30 March 2015 - Lawmakers in New Brunswick voted on Thursday to prohibit fracking in the eastern Canadian province, committing to study the controversial method of extracting oil and gas for one year before reconsidering the ban in 2016. The province is the latest of several in eastern Canada, including Quebec, Labrador and Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, to stop companies from fracking while they study its impact. Local environmental and indigenous groups worry hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a method that involves pumping water, sand, and chemicals deep into a well to extract oil or gas, could contaminate local water supplies. (more)

Indigenous leaders get down to business - World forum coming to Saskatoon in 2016
30 March 2015 - The 2016 World Indigenous Business Forum (WIBF) in Saskatoon will be a platform to showcase the city and what it has to offer, as well as offer local indigenous groups the opportunity to connect with groups from around the world, say organizers of the event. More than 1,200 delegates from across the globe are expected to attend the WIBF in the summer of 2016. The forum brings together indigenous business leaders to help foster relationships, increase international trade, and encourage aboriginal participation in business and economic development. (more)

Who's visiting Canada now?
30 March 2015 - China's tourism numbers around the world are growing. Here at home (Canada), both Vancouver and Toronto welcomed more visitors from China last year than any country besides the United States. China is now Canada's third-largest market overall, reports the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), after the UK and France. And it is expected to become the second largest by 2016. The most common activities among Chinese travellers in Canada are shopping, sightseeing, and visiting friends or relatives, according to the CTC. Visits to zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens surged 59.9 per cent in 2012. (more)

For business, more women in charge means bigger profits
29 March 2015 - In a survey last year of 366 companies, consultancy McKinsey and Company found that those whose leadership roles were most balanced between men and women were more likely to report financial returns above their national industry median. (more)

Euro zone consumer confidence jumps in March
29 March 2015 - Euro zone consumer confidence jumped much more than expected in March to -3.7 points from -6.7 points in February, the first estimate from the European Commission showed on Monday. (more)

French business morale at 3-year high as economy shows signs of life
29 March 2015 - French business morale was at its highest for nearly three years in March, adding to signs the euro zone's second largest economy is emerging from stagnation on the back of lower oil prices and a weaker euro. (more)

French private sector expands for second straight month - PMI
29 March 2015 - France's private sector expanded for the second straight month in March, a survey showed on Tuesday, chiming with recent data that shows the euro zone's second-largest economy is edging back to growth. (more)

German private sector grows at strongest rate in eight months - PMI
29 March 2015 - Germany's private sector grew in March at its strongest rate since July, a survey showed on Tuesday, in a further sign that Europe's largest economy is gaining pace. Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which tracks manufacturing and services activity accounting for more than two-thirds of the economy, jumped to a eight-month high in February. (more)

German real wages post record 1.7 percent increase in 2014
29 March 2015 - German real wages posted their largest increase in 2014 since the data was first collected in 2008, Germany's statistics office said on Thursday, in the latest positive sign for private consumption in Europe's largest economy. (more)

UK retail sales improve in Feb, boding well for economy
29 March 2015 - British retail sales rose at the fastest pace in three months in February, beating expectations. Retail sales rose 0.7 per cent last month, their best growth since November, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday. A separate Confederation of British Industry survey showed retail sales grew at a solid pace this month as well. Britain's economic recovery since mid-2013 has relied heavily on consumer spending. Wages are recovering after falling in real terms for most of the period since the financial crisis. (more)

UNESCO chief hails role of poetry as 'fundamental expression of peace'
28 March 2015 - The power of poetry can help bring women and men together to craft new forms of dialogue, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared on 21 March, as she marked the annual observance of World Poetry Day. 'Poetry is the universal human song, expressing the aspiration of every woman and man to apprehend the world and share this understanding with others, through the arrangement of words in rhythm and meter,' Director-General Irina Bokova said in her message for the Day. (more)

Colombian tribe scores 'historic' victory versus Big Gas
28 March 2015 - The indigenous U'wa people living in north-east Colombia have won what observers call an 'historic' and 'decisive' victory after state oil and gas company Ecopetrol dismantled a gas drilling site in their territories. 'It's a triumph,' Asou'wa vice-president Heber Tegria Uncaria told the Guardian. 'It's one more battle we've won over the last 20 to 30 years, and it's thanks to the U'wa people themselves, national and international support, and the role of the media in drawing people's attention to what is happening.' (more)

Lower US jobless claims suggest solidly improving labour market
28 March 2015 - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to a healthy and expanding labour market. The sustained jobs market strength underscores the economy's solid fundamentals and suggests a recent slowdown in economic activity will be temporary. (more)

Britain's greenhouse gas emissions down 8.4 per cent in 2014
28 March 2015 - Britain's greenhouse gas emissions fell 8.4 per cent in 2014 due to a decline in fossil-fuel power generation, preliminary government data showed on Thursday. The fall largely resulted from a 15 per cent decrease in emissions from the energy supply sector as coal-fired generation fell and output from renewable power sources rose. (more)

Canada: Ontario government seeks to reduce pesticide use by 80 per cent by 2017
28 March 2015 - In an effort to protect bees, birds, butterflies, and other pollinators, the Ontario government is seeking to reduce a specific class of pesticides by 80 per cent by 2017. On Monday, the provincial government announced its Pollinator Health Action Plan. The first step would be to change pesticide regulation, in particular reducing the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid pesticides. (more)

US: Ohio lawmakers pass bill to clean up Lake Erie
28 March 2015 - The Ohio General Assembly Wednesday passed a major new measure to clean up Lake Erie pollution and fight the harmful algal blooms that contaminated Toledo's water last summer. The bill focuses on reducing the amount of nutrients such as phosphorus which flow into the lake as rain runoff, feeding the growth of harmful algal blooms. (more)

Mood of the world was upbeat on International Happiness Day
26 March 2015 - The world marked the third annual International Day of Happiness on 20 March. Ahead of the International Day, a Gallup poll found the happiest people on the planet might be Latin Americans. People in Latin America are the most likely in the world to experience a lot of positive emotions on a daily basis, according to Gallup's Positive Experience Index. In fact, for the first time in Gallup's 10-year history of global tracking, all of the top 10 countries with the highest Positive Experience Index scores are in Latin America. (more)

China says it agrees with India to maintain border peace
25 March 2015 - China and India have agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity along their Himalayan border while they work on resolving a long-festering boundary dispute, China's foreign ministry said after talks in New Delhi. China's foreign ministry said in a statement released on Monday both countries would build on the results of previous negotiations and push forward in 'the correct direction'. (more)

Scientists cheered by birth of Galapagos tortoises in wild
25 March 2015 - For the first time in a century, babies of the endangered Pinzon giant tortoise have been born in the wild in the Galapagos islands, scientists said. The Galapagos, an Ecuadorean territory in the Pacific about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the mainland, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978 because of its unique land and marine animals and vegetation. (more)

The world's first carbon-negative data centre heats up Swedish homes in the winter
24 March 2015 - Energy-guzzling data centres pump out an estimated 200 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year around the world -- more than 42 million cars create in the same amount of time. While companies like Google are starting to use wind and solar power to tackle the challenge, a Swedish startup is going a step further: The new EcoDataCenter will be 'climate positive,' generating extra-clean energy it shares with nearby houses. (more)

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