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Samoa: Business execs build partnerships with small islands at UN forum
31 August 2014 - Small island developing states offer opportunities for genuine and sustainable business partnerships, said executives and officials participating in a United Nations co-hosted private sector forum in Samoa. Held in the capital, Apia, ahead of the UN Conference's on Small Island Developing States start on Monday, the two-day forum is meant to bring companies together to share information and best practices, and to network. It is organized jointly with the Government and the Samoa Chamber of Commerce. (more)

US: Big companies, big renewable investments
31 August 2014 - The world's largest enterprises are realizing the benefits of renewable energy, motivating many top-tier companies to set up voluntary corporate renewable energy programmes that scale up their use of on-site solar and wind power systems. Many factors have influenced Fortune 500 companies and other leading enterprises to adopt these targets, including an attractive economic return on investment, the worsening effects of climate change, and a deep concern from their customer base about environmental sustainability. (more)

Somali warlord agrees to talks, boosts government peace efforts
31 August 2014 - A Somali clan leader who fought for years to retake a strategic southern port city he once controlled has laid down arms and joined talks, bolstering government efforts to show it can restore order to a chaotic nation. The African Union force AMISOM, which has been involved in reconciliation efforts, said Barre Hirale and nearly 100 members of his militia gave up their weapons on Saturday after discussions with clan elders and Somali federal government delegations. (more)

Global renewable energy status uncovered
31 August 2014 - More than a fifth of the world's electrical power production now comes from renewable sources and in 2013 renewables accounted for more than 56 per cent of all net additions to global power capacity. At the end of 2013, China, the United States, Brazil, Canada, and Germany remained the top five countries for total installed renewable power capacity. At least 144 countries now have renewable energy targets in place with 138 having renewable energy support policies, up from the 138 and 127, respectively, seen in 2012. (more)

US solar carport market poised for record year, continued growth
31 August 2014 - The US solar carport market has emerged as a substantial component of the US solar industry. According to the latest report from GTM Research, US Solar Carport Market 2014-2018: Landscape, Outlook and Leading Companies, the US is forecasted to add more than 180 megawatts of solar carports in 2014, making it the fourth consecutive year with more than 100 megawatts installed. (more)

India's Prime Minister Modi seeks Japan's help for 'inclusive vision' on first big trip
31 August 2014 - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Japan on Saturday seeking to capitalise on his affinity with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe to strengthen security and business ties on his first major foreign visit since his landslide election victory in May. Modi is one of only three people that Abe follows on Twitter, while the Indian leader admires the Japanese premier's brand of nationalist politics. (more)

India: This year, Ganesha is lord of the apps, too
31 August 2014 - A trip to the neighbourhood Ganpati mandal used to be a daily affair for Rajesh Pai and his family when they were living in central Mumbai. Since the family moved to Mira Road, the annual trek to see Khetwadi's tall Ganpati idols grew difficult, till Pai discovered a mobile app. As crowd management becomes tougher, some of the older mandals are trying to play catch up using technology. Mumbaicha Raja Android app from the Ganesh Galli mandal will be launched on Friday while Lalbaugcharaja-Official app, which was released last year and has more than 5,000 downloads, will soon have its iOS version. Khetwadicha Ganraj from Grant Road, which also has more than 5,000 downloads, is being updated with live telecast in high-definition video. All of them are free. (more)

Brains of older adults benefit from regular exercise, studies show
31 August 2014 - Two studies show regular exercise can help boost brain function in older adults. University of Montreal researchers have found older adults who do aerobic fitness also perform better on cognitive tests. The more active they are, the better they do. They said the exercise benefits the aorta, the main vessel coming out of the heart. The study was published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. (more)

Canada: Campbell River system in the midst of stunning rebound
31 August 2014 - The success story of the Campbell River is due in part to the work of habitat restoration specialists like federal fisheries biologist Shannon Anderson and her federal government colleagues at the Quinsam hatchery. But she's quick to point out this is a collaborative effort. 'It's all about collaboration,' Anderson says. 'If you look at the Campbell, it's collaboration with the community. This community has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for habitat restoration even in hard times.' (more)

Canada: Car share programme coming soon to Edmonton
31 August 2014 - A car share programme, much like the ones operating in Calgary, Toronto, and Halifax, Canada could soon be operating in Edmonton. City officials hope a six-month pilot project will soon be launched by a company that can't yet be named. The final details are now being worked out. Companies like Car2Go or Zipcar allow people to rent a car for a quick trip to the mall or for a weekend trip. (more)

Cuba gives US swimmer Diana Nyad sporting medal
31 August 2014 - One year after becoming the first person confirmed to have swum from Havana to Key West, Florida without a shark cage, US endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was back in Cuba to receive that country's Order of Sporting Merit award. After a ceremony led by First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Saturday, Nyad said she dreams of uniting Cubans and Americans to walk with her the length of the island of Cuba 'as good neighbours and friends.' Diaz-Canel called Nyad's feat 'a symbol of the friendship between our peoples,' referring to the United States and Cuba. (more)

Thailand: Thirty-day extension of stay for visitors from 48 countries and one territory
31 August 2014 - The Immigration Bureau has allowed citizens of 48 countries and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to get a 30-day extension of their stay in Thailand after the expiry of their normal period of stay. The policy took effect on 29 August 2014, in another positive move to boost the Thai travel and tourism industry. (more)

South Africa: Cape Town's pop-up store for the homeless goes global
30 August 2014 - Looking out from their advertising agency balcony onto the main street, a pair of Cape Town advertising creatives has changed the way people give and receive for humanitarian reasons worldwide. The copywriter and art director team of Kayli Levitan and Maxmillian Pazak say they were simply looking for a way to bring together the 'haves and have-nots' who fill the streets around their workplace area every day. With support from their ad agency, and partnering with the nearby headquarters of the Haven Night Shelter, Cape Town's largest network of homeless shelters, the team have fine-tuned a concept aimed at changing the process of giving and receiving. The idea is simple, and yet uniquely ingenious, and it has gone viral, and has captured the imagination of people worldwide. (more)

Canada: It's abundantly clear that Community Sponsored Agriculture programmes are on the rise in British Columbia
30 August 2014 - As the local food movement grows, Community Supported Agriculture or CSAs are gaining popularity across the province. Customers purchase a share of a farm's harvest and receive a weekly box of food. The programme gives farmers a guaranteed source of income and the ability to deal directly with the people eating their produce. (more)

Estonians excel in Mind World Champinonsihp
30 August 2014 - Estonian Andres Kuusk won the 2014 Pentamind World Championship -- an annual board games festival held in London, England. The Pentamind is a unique meta-event, which celebrates the best all round games player in the world. This is the third time that Andres has won the Pentamind having previously won it in 2011 and sharing it with Ankush Khandelwahl in 2013. Many of his Estonian compatriots were also triumphant this year-including Martin Hobemagi who won the Junior Pentamind World Championship and Madli Mirme who won the Women's Pentamind World Championship. (more)

US: S&P 500 edges up to set new record; best month since February
30 August 2014 - US stocks closed out a strong month on a quiet note on Friday, with the S&P 500 posting a modest gain to close at a new record as the latest positive data helped extend a rally that had been briefly threatened by overseas concerns. Since falling to a near three-month low on 7 August, the S&P 500 has risen in 12 of the past 16 sessions. It is also closed out its fourth straight weekly advance and sixth positive month of the past seven. Friday's gains pushed the index to its latest record close of 2,003.37, its third finish above 2,000 this week. (more)

What dispute? India and China ignore land squabble
30 August 2014 - The last thing the world's two most populous countries want right now is war with each other. Not when things are going so well. 'The territorial issues and the sovereignty issues have not gone away,' said Sujit Dutta, a China scholar at New Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University. 'But the Chinese are not pushing further (into the disputed regions) and neither are the Indians.' He continued, 'Today, India and China have a new context for their relationship.' (more)

Mali rebel factions agree to end hostilities ahead of September talks
30 August 2014 - Representatives of two platforms of rebel groups from northern Mali agreed on Thursday in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou to end hostilities and present a united front for talks with the Malian government in Algeria in early September. (more)

Tesla Motors, China Unicom to build car charging outlets across China
30 August 2014 - US electric carmaker Tesla Motors said on Friday that it would partner with China's No.2 mobile carrier China Unicom to build charging outlets across the country to push sales in the world's biggest auto market. The companies have signed a deal to build charging posts at 400 China Unicom stores in 120 cities, and will also set up super-charging outlets in 20 Chinese cities, Tesla's China spokeswoman Peggy Yang said. (more)

Canada budget in surplus for first quarter of fiscal year
30 August 2014 - Canada registered a C$1.57 billion ($1.45 billion) budget surplus in June, which moved the first three months of the fiscal year into surplus as well, with revenues up and programme expenses down, the Finance Department said on Friday. June's surplus compares with a C$157 million surplus in June 2013. April to June is now in the black by C$424 million, compared with a C$2.55 billion deficit for the same period in 2013. (more)

Consumer spending, exports underpin Canada's second quarter GDP recovery
30 August 2014 - Strong consumer spending and a jump in exports helped the Canadian economy bounce back from a weather-restrained first quarter, with annualized growth of 3.1 per cent in the second quarter after a downwardly revised 0.9 per cent in the first. The Statistics Canada data on Friday showed gross domestic product growing at its fastest pace since the third quarter of 2011, beating the Bank of Canada's July forecast of 2.5 per cent and exceeding market expectations of 2.7 per cent. (more)

Samoa: Apia welcomes thousands for UN conference
30 August 2014 - Ahead of the official opening of the United Nations conference on small island developing countries, the UN and Samoan flags were raised on Saturday over the site in the capital, Apia, that will host what is considered the largest conference of its kind in the Pacific region. The theme of this year's conference is creating 'genuine and durable partnerships', and more than 300 partnerships are expected to be announced, according to the Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo who is the secretary-general of the conference. (more)

A possible signal from dark matter?
30 August 2014 - The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is one of the largest and most diverse astrophysical institutions in the world, where scientists carry out a broad programme of research in astronomy, astrophysics, earth and space sciences, and science education. Recently, it came as something of a surprise when CfA astronomers and their colleagues discovered a faint line corresponding to no known element. The scientists propose a tantalizing suggestion: the line is the result of the decay of a putative, long-sought-after dark matter particle, the so-called sterile neutrino. It had been suggested that the hot X-ray emitting gas in a galaxy cluster might be a good place to look for dark matter signatures, and if the sterile neutrino result is confirmed it would mark a breakthrough in dark matter research. (more)

California passes plastic bag ban, would be first such law in US
30 August 2014 - The California state legislature enacted a ban on plastic grocery bags on Friday near the end of its two-year session, a measure that if signed into law would become the first of its kind in America. 'Single-use plastic bags not only litter our beaches, but also our mountains, our deserts, and our rivers, streams, and lakes,' said state Senator Alex Padilla, who sponsored the bill. More than 10 billion plastic bags are used in California each year, according to an estimate by Californians Against Waste, an advocacy group supporting the bill. (more)

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