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Inspired by Nepalese, UK architect rebuilds ancient temple
16 January 2017 - When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal last year, villagers in Changu Narayan ran up the steep rocky path that cuts through their town to their renowned temple. Seeing the piles of rubble, they figured their lives were over. Less than two years later, the community is cleaning up their World Heritage Site themselves, and one of the world's leading architects has taken on the recovery as his pet project. British architect John Sanday, who led the World Monuments Fund restoration of Cambodia's Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world, fell in love with the place decades ago. (more)

US: Retail group launches training for entry-level job seekers
16 January 2017 - Trying to stem high turnover in store jobs, nonprofit groups and chains such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and the Home Shopping Network are launching a program to help people develop the skills to land entry-level jobs and advance in a retail career. More than 20 major retailers including Neiman Marcus and Ashley Stewart have pledged general support for the Rise Up program being launched Sunday [15 January]. It's part of a broader credential plan that would help workers move up that may include training for store supervisors and in specific areas like retail analytics. Thirty-two percent of all first jobs in the U.S. are in retail, the trade group says . . . (more)

Eurozone economy sees more evidence of a pickup
16 January 2017 - Further evidence emerged Friday (6 January) to show that the 19-country eurozone economy ended 2016 strongly and that it's poised for a period of faster growth, at least until a run of elections that have the potential to cloud confidence. In a wide-ranging survey across the single currency bloc, the European Union found business and consumer sentiment running at near six-year highs. Its economic sentiment indicator rose ... (to) its highest level since March 2011. The survey found confidence up across sectors, from retail to industry, and in most countries, from powerhouse Germany through to heavily indebted Greece. (more)

US: President Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs (+ videos)
16 January 2017 - President Barack Obama celebrated the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday and spoke about the power sports has to unite people. 'Throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided,' Obama said at a White House ceremony for his hometown team. 'Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves.' (more)

Euro zone economy registering surprisingly strong growth spurt
15 January 2017 - Industries across the euro zone cranked up output in November and Germany ended the year with its strongest growth in five years, data showed on Thursday [12 January], pointing to an economic spurt that may be arriving earlier than some ECB policymakers expect. Thursday's figures add to a jump in the bloc's economic sentiment which in December reached its strongest level since March 2011. (more)

Foreign tourists visiting Spain at record high in 2016
15 January 2017 - The number of visitors to Spain hit a new record in 2016 for a fourth consecutive year, the government said on Thursday (12 Janurary) . . . A popular holiday destination for decades, Spain's thriving tourism industry accounts for around 11 percent of gross domestic product. (more)

German economy surges at fastest rate in five years
15 January 2017 - The German economy expanded at the fastest pace in five years in 2016 and the growth momentum is expected to continue this year as rising private and state spending help Germany cement its position as the locomotive of the euro zone. 'The German economy in 2016 once again defied an entire series of downside risks, thanks to strong domestic demand,' said ING economist Carsten Brzeski. (more)

Peru to begin cleaning up South America's largest lake
14 January 2017 - South America's largest lake is about to get a major clean up after years of uncontrolled pollution. Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said the construction of 10 treatment plants on rivers emptying into Lake Titicaca will carry a price tag of $437 million. He made the announcement Friday during a visit to the high-altitude lake straddling the border with Bolivia. (more)

Makar Sankranti 2017: From holy dip in Ganga to flying kites, here's how people are celebrating around India (in pictures)
14 January 2017 - India is a land of diversity and each region has its own share of festivals that are celebrated with utmost fanfare and galore. Makar Sankranti is one such occasion that is celebrated across the country -- with different names but with a common purpose. The harvest festival celebrated by Indians across the world, falls on January 14, this year. Here's how people around India celebrated the holy occasion (in pictures): (more)

Feasts with family mark Makar Sankranti celebrations
14 January 2017 - Celebrations, of multiple hues across different communities, will ring in Makar Sankranti, a festival that not only heralds the harvest season in Maharashtra, but also marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn). The day is regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture, known as the 'holy phase of transition'. Kite-flying remains the most popular activity among kids. The sessions are expected to get a boost with the festival coming on a weekend this year. (more)

Chevy Bolt electric car gets top car in America award
13 January 2017 - The Chevy Bolt has been named top car in North America, an important milestone for a car General Motors hopes will finally get Americans hooked on electric vehicles. The honors were announced Monday morning [January 9] at Detroit's Cobo Center as the North American International Auto Show's press preview days kicked into high gear. The electric car from Chevrolet went on sale late last year. It gets more than 200 miles per battery charge, which is more than the average American drives in a day. (more)

Zero-emission boat prepares for round-the-world odyssey
13 January 2017 - The first self-sufficient boat powered only by emission-free energy will start a six-year trip around the world in the spring. Energy Observer, a former multi-hull race boat converted into a green vessel equipped with solar panels, wind turbines, and a hydrogen fuel cell system, will be powered by wind, the sun, and self-generated hydrogen. The boat, which is currently in a shipyard in Saint-Malo (western France), will set sail from the Brittany port. (more)

Panera Bread removes artificial ingredients from U.S. menu
13 January 2017 - Bakery cafe operator Panera Bread Co said on Friday (13 January) it had removed artificial ingredients from its food menu and Panera at Home products in the United States. The company had said in August that by the year end it would remove artificial flavors and colors, preservatives and sweeteners from the food served at its 2,000 restaurants. (more)

World's largest peatland with vast carbon-storage capacity found in Congo
11 January 2017 - Scientists have discovered the world's largest tropical peatland in the remote Congo swamps, estimated to store the equivalent of three year's worth of the world's total fossil fuel emissions. Researchers mapped the Cuvette Centrale peatlands in the central Congo basin and found they cover 145,500 sq km -- an area larger than England. The swamps could lock in 30bn tonnes of carbon that was previously not known to exist, making the region one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth. (more)

Carbon deposit in Congo swamp equal to 20 years of U.S. gas emissions: study
11 January 2017 - Scientists say a recently discovered area of peatland straddling the two Congos contains 30 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 20 years of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and must be protected to prevent major environmental damage. The British and Congolese teams, who made the discovery in 2014, say it is the largest known tropical peatland -- home to rare gorillas and forest elephants -- and in Wednesday's edition of Nature they say development there would release the gas. (more)

U.S. Border Patrol recruits: wild horses, tamed by prisoners
11 January 2017 - Long before the desert sun has had a chance to heat the dusty prison yard, some 20 inmates at an Arizona state prison begin quietly tending horses. Prisoners participating in the Wild Horse Inmate Program train mustangs that will eventually be adopted by the U.S. Border Patrol, providing the agency with inexpensive but agile horses, and inmates with skills and insights they hope to one day carry with them from prison. At least 80 percent of the U.S. Border Patrol's current stable of 400 horses come from inmate training programs in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, and Nevada. Some 55,000 mustangs roam the Western U.S., more than double the number public land can support, said Bureau of Land Management spokesman Jason Lutterman. Those that do not end up in adoption programs face an uncertain future. (more)

US: Duke Energy Florida to build solar power plant in Suwannee County
11 January 2017 - Duke Energy Corp expects to break ground in spring for a solar power plant in Suwannee county. The new Suwannee solar facility will produce 8.8 megawatts energy, which is enough to power about 1,700 average homes at peak production (more)

Carnegie Clean Energy sees rapid growth after embracing solar power
10 January 2017 - Carnegie Clean Energy expects annual revenue to surge 17-fold over a two-year period, its managing director told Reuters, thanks to a push into solar power with the recent purchase of fellow Australian firm Energy Made Clean (EMC). Managing Director Michael Ottaviano said he sees the company expanding in tandem with the fast-growing microgrids market . . . Microgrids are electricity supply systems that can work independent of existing grids or linked to them, which can help secure cheap and reliable power for remote locations. (more)

US job openings, quits rise, pointing to hiring ahead
10 January 2017 - U.S. employers posted more jobs in November and quitting also increased -- signs that job gains and wages may increase in the months ahead. Quits are generally a good sign that workers are confident enough to leave their positions for new jobs. (more)

Thailand expects tourism revenue of nearly $50 billion in 2017
9 January 2017 - Thailand expects revenue from foreign tourists to rise 8.5 percent to 1.78 trillion baht ($49.8 billion) this year, a deputy prime minister said on Monday. The expected rise results from an improved outlook for global tourism as well as Thailand's investment in infrastructure, Deputy Prime Minister Thanasak Patimaprakorn told reporters. (more)

GM's Chevrolet Bolt electric car wins North American Car of the Year
9 January 2017 - General Motors picked up the crown jewel in the trifecta of trophies Monday [9 January] for its new long-range electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt. The Bolt was named North American Car of the Year, beating two conventionally powered luxury sedans, the Genesis G90 and the Volvo S90, in an announcement delivered at the North American International Auto Show. (more)

Harbin festival: China's ice-and-snow city -- in pictures
7 January 2017 - The northern Chinese city of Harbin is hosting its annual ice-and-snow festival -- one of the largest of its type in the world. The festival features huge ice palaces and sculptures. Last year the festival attracted more than a million visitors. (more)

The Canadian who spent C$1.5m to rescue more than 200 Syrian refugees
6 January 2017 - Appliance firm CEO Jim Estill is behind an ambitious scheme to resettle 58 families in Guelph, Ontario, and galvanised hundreds of residents to help. ... The result is a full-scale operation -- staffed by volunteers and bolstered by a deluge of donations -- that offers the refugees everything from job training to English-language classes. (more)

Euro zone economy starts year in chipper mood, Germany outlook bright
6 January 2017 - Economic sentiment in the euro zone surged to a post-crisis record in December and German industrial orders pointed to a busy final quarter for factories in Europe's powerhouse with the government expecting the upswing to carry into 2017. Record-high employment, increased job security, rising real wages, and ultra-low borrowing costs have boosted the spending power of Germans, making consumption the main driver of growth in a traditionally export-driven economy. (more)

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