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Afghan presidential rivals at last reach unity deal on Saturday
21 September 2014 - The rival candidates in Afghanistan's messy election for a new President finally struck a power-sharing deal on Saturday, aides said, after more than two months of tension over a vote in which each side accused the other of fraud. 'Both camps have agreed 100 per cent on everything and we'll sign the deal tomorrow. Everything has been initialled and there is no disagreement on anything,' said Faizullah Zaki, a spokesman for ex-Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. (more)

Afghanistan's presidential rivals sign power-sharing deal on Sunday
21 September 2014 - Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates signed a deal on Sunday to share power after months of turmoil over a disputed election that destabilized the nation at a crucial time as most foreign troops prepare to leave. Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister who will be named president, embraced rival Abdullah Abdullah after they signed the power-sharing agreement at a ceremony watched by outgoing president Hamid Karzai, and broadcast live from his palace. (more)

Pope's Albania visit showcases Muslim-Christian ties
21 September 2014 - The one-room, stone church of St Nicholas has sat on the top of a hill in Derven, Albania since the 16th century, destroyed three times and rebuilt in a testament to the Catholic presence in this region that dates to St Paul. Its latest incarnation, however, is particularly poignant: 15 Muslim families chipped in to help rebuild it in a sign of the remarkable coexistence that exists in Albania between Christians and Muslims. (more)

US: Los Angeles launches streamlined permitting system for solar panels online
21 September 2014 - The city of Los Angeles has launched an online permitting system for solar panels, seeking to streamline the process and reduce costs for homeowners. Previously, those installing the systems had to go to a Department of Building and Safety office, with plans in hand, to apply for a permit, then wait days for approval, said department spokesman Luke Zamperini. But now, it's possible to receive permits for solar photovoltaic systems directly from the department's website, the mayor's office said in a news release this week. Zamperini said the time for approval has been slashed to minutes. (more)

US Senate designates 30 September as 'US-India Partnership Day'
21 September 2014 - The US Senate has unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution designating 30 September as 'US-India Partnership Day' recognizing the contribution of the two countries to one another and the relationship that will continue to help define the 21st century. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be at the White House 29-30 September for talks with President Barack Obama. (more)

Australia: Brisbane volunteers save local farmer's broccoli crop
21 September 2014 - A group of 30 volunteers have harvested acres of broccoli just north of Brisbane to help a struggling vegetable producer. Food Connect, a community food co-operation that connects city residents with farms around Brisbane and the Scenic Rim region, organized the free labour after a personal family tragedy prevented the Birkdale farmer from being able to harvest. (more)

India: This Durga Puja a blessing for environment
21 September 2014 - Members of Shree Sai Sewashram Puja Committee -- a unit of the Institute for Environment Research, Entrepreneurship, Education, and Development -- have pledged to not only spread awareness about environment protection and sustainable development but also adopt an eco-friendly way of immersing idols made of 100% natural material. Based on this year's theme of river water conservation, the organizers have decided that all the jewellery, flowers, leaves, and other 'shringar' items will be removed from the deities before they are taken for immersion. (more)

Canada factory shipments surge to record level
21 September 2014 - Canadian manufacturing shipments surged in July to a record level on strong demand for motor vehicles and primary metals, the latest sign Canada's economy is benefiting from a lower currency and strong US demand. The fresh high overtakes the previous record set in July 2008, months before the onset of the global financial crisis. (more)

US: Coal fades, so electrics get cleaner
21 September 2014 - Last week, the Union of Concerned Scientists announced an updated analysis of the effects of electric vehicles on global warming. The study showed that 60 per cent of Americans live in regions where electric vehicles charged with grid electricity are responsible for fewer heat-trapping global warming emissions per mile than even the most efficient hybrids. (more)

US schools quickly climbing learning curve in solar power
21 September 2014 - America's K-12 schools are among the fastest adopters of solar power in the United States, with an estimated 3,000 new solar installations coming online between 2008 and 2012, a fivefold increase, according to a new study from the Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association. The findings suggest that schools and school systems have shaved millions of dollars from their utility bills by installing solar panels, allowing for greater investment in textbooks, teachers, and educational programmes. (more)

China's green, green energy of home
21 September 2014 - In Nanzhaike Village in the eastern suburbs of Jinan, capital of north China's Shandong Province, Zhang Yazhou's house stands out. More than half of the courtyard is occupied by dozens of solar panels. It is a mini-PV (photovoltaic) power plant, or 'household-distributed PV solar power generating system', a tiny part of China's big push for renewable energy. A national plan, approved on Friday, aims to bring non-fossil fuels up to about 15 per cent of energy consumption by 2020, from the 9.8 per cent at the end of 2013. (more)

Edmonton, Canada: Fort Chipewyan unveils first solar project
21 September 2014 - The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has turned to solar electricity as a source of emergency power -- and to highlight the importance of clean energy. This week, two electricians from Edmonton have been installing eight solar photovoltaic panels on a south-facing roof of the elder and youth lodge in the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan, 220 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. 'We're finally at the final stages of this first pilot project -- of seeing the panels go up,' said Jesse Cardinal, a co-ordinator with the environmental protection group Keepers of the Athabasca. 'It's really exciting.' (more)

Start early for a lifetime of good vision and healthy eyes - US study
21 September 2014 - If your mother told you to eat your carrots so you'd be able to see in the dark, she was right. It turns out that feeding children carrots is just one of a number of things parents can do to promote a lifetime of healthy eyes and good vision. Other things include regular eye exams, and sunglasses or hats to shade kids' eyes, experts say. (more)

US: New York climate march draws hundreds of thousands who want a clean environment
21 September 2014 - World leaders including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were set to join farmers, fishermen, children, and others in a massive demonstration on Sunday to demand action on climate change. Organizers are expecting 100,000 to join the People's Climate March in midtown Manhattan ahead of this week's UN General Assembly, which brings together 120 world leaders to discuss reducing carbon emissions that threaten the environment. The New York rally is part of a global protest that includes events in 161 countries including Afghanistan, Bulgaria, and Italy. (more)

Marking International Day, UN affirms people's right to 'imagine' world at peace
20 September 2014 - With John Lennon's iconic song 'Imagine' as the backdrop, the United Nations on 19 September marked the International Day of Peace underscoring that all people have the right to peace. As on each year since the Day was created in 1981, the Secretary-General asked combatants to lay down their arms 'so all can breathe the air of peace'. 'We must douse the fires of extremism and tackle the root causes of conflict,' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said ahead of the official observance of the Day, 21 September, which this year falls on Sunday. He also called on people around the world to observe a minute of silence at noon on Sunday and reflect on what peace means for the human family. (more)

Minutes silence to mark UN Day of Peace this weekend
20 September 2014 - Millions of people will stop for a minutes silence at noon this Sunday as part of the United Nations' International Day of Peace. Prayers for peace will be held at services throughout the weekend and Global Meditations are taking place as people of all faiths come together. Each year, the United Nations chooses a different peace theme for the annual day. The 2014 International Day of Peace is devoted to the Right of Peoples to Peace, marking the 30th anniversary of a General Assembly resolution of the same name. (more)

Buffer zone agreed on in Ukrainian peace talks
20 September 2014 - Participants in Ukrainian peace talks agreed early Saturday to create a buffer zone to separate government troops and pro-Russian militants and withdraw foreign fighters and heavy weapons from the area of conflict in eastern Ukraine. The deal reached by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the Moscow-backed rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe marked an effort to add substance to a cease-fire agreement that was signed on 5 September. (more)

Dalai Lama praises China's leader as 'realistic'
20 September 2014 - The Dalai Lama praised Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday for being 'more realistic' and principled than his predecessors, a day after Xi's three-day visit to India ended. The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader has lived in exile for decades in India's Himalayan foothill city of Dharamsala, after fleeing China following a failed 1959 uprising. Beijing's attitude appears to be shifting, the Dalai Lama said, noting that China's Communist leaders, who officially are atheist, are now 'mentioning the importance of spiritualism'. He said that since becoming President in March 2013, Xi has demonstrated 'through his handling of problems, he is comparatively more realistic and with more principles' than his predecessors. (more)

Australia: Subway joins McDonald's Australia in switch to cage-free eggs
20 September 2014 - Subway Australia has announced it is working with it suppliers to source cage-free eggs for its restaurants. The fast food chain, which has 1400 stores nationwide, said on its Facebook page that it hoped to 'implement the switch to cage-free eggs in Australia within 12 to 18 months'. This comes after McDonald's Australia announced that it would also begin phasing out cage eggs next year. Animal welfare activist group Animals Australia claimed the move was another win. (more)

US: California teachers fund to boost clean energy bets
20 September 2014 - The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years. The clean energy and technology investments will be made through holdings in private equity firms, bonds, and infrastructure as suitable investments come available, the fund says. The fund has a $188 billion portfolio. (more)

Germany, France to provide airlifts in Ebola fight
20 September 2014 - Germany says it plans to work with France to establish airlifts to Ebola-affected countries. The foreign ministry said late Friday that 100 soldiers and two military planes will initially be provided for the operation, which might use Dakar in Senegal as a hub. Germany also plans to help set up field hospitals, provide military equipment and conduct training for medical staff in West Africa. (more)

Public transport holds key for clean cities, says US study
20 September 2014 - Effective urban transit systems can encourage people out of their cars and provide a cost-effective way to tackle climate change, a report has suggested. It calculated that emissions from urban transportation could be cut by more than half by 2050 and economies save in excess of US $100 trillion. The authors added it would also reduce annual premature deaths by 1.4 million. The report is being published at a UN Habitat III meeting ahead of Ban Ki-Moon's climate summit next week. (more)

US: Massachusetts goes greener with latest 'green bond' sale
20 September 2014 - Massachusetts, a pioneer in selling so-called green bonds for environmental projects, is going greener. The state is selling $350 million of the bonds, more than triple the size of last year's sale, as more municipalities tap into investor demand for environmentally friendly investments. Investors who buy green bonds are paid interest and principal from the same revenues as other municipal bonds. The difference is municipalities pledge to use the proceeds of a green-bond sale for projects that are beneficial to the environment. (more)

China floats 'cash for clunkers' scheme
20 September 2014 - China is scheduled to restrict or prohibit heavy polluting vehicles by the end of June 2015 in major cities, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) on Thursday. Authorities will put forward a 'cash for clunkers' programme to encourage car owners to replace their old cars with eco-friendly ones. Beijing should see no less than 391,000 jalopies off the roads by the end of 2014. (more)

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