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Britain's economy bounces back, despite currency hit to exporters
29 July 2015 - British economic growth got back on track in the second quarter. The economy grew by 0.7 percent in the three months to June. It was the 10th straight quarter of expansion, with GDP per person returning to pre-crisis levels for the first time. (more)

Survey: German consumers remain optimistic
29 July 2015 - A closely-watched survey indicates German consumers remain optimistic but are showing signs of worry about the country's economic situation amid uncertainty about Greece's financial future. The GfK research group also found ncome expectations rose 1.4 points, backed by 'exceedingly good domestic conditions' including low unemployment. (more)

Canada: Self-driving golf cart invented by University of Waterloo students (+ CTV News video)
28 July 2015 - Ttwo resourceful University of Waterloo students have rigged a golf cart with navigation technology that allows the vehicle to drive itself. A series of motion detecting lasers and a rooftop GPS system help the cart steer clear of potential obstacles. The driver instantly becomes a passenger whose only job is to lean back and enjoy the ride. (more)

Canadian math whiz wins International Mathematical Olympiad for high school students in Thailand
28 July 2015 - The name Alex Song is spoken in reverential tones in Canadian mathematical circles. The 18-year-old won the International Mathematical Olympiad in Thailand in mid-July, achieving the rare perfect score in the two-day competition against more than 600 high school competitors from 104 countries. (more)

Canada: Fewer youth accused of crime in 2014
27 July 2015 - Both the police-reported youth CSI and the rate of youth accused of crime decreased by 9 per cent in 2014, representing the fifth consecutive annual decline for both measures of youth crime. Compared with a decade ago, the youth CSI was 40 per cent lower in 2014, and the rate of youth accused of crime was 42 per cent lower. (more)

Survey shows unexpected upturn in German business confidence
27 July 2015 - Business confidence in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has risen unexpectedly this month as worries over Greece have subsided, a closely watched survey showed Monday. The German economy has been helped lately by low unemployment and increasing domestic demand. (more)

'Selfies' of the 17th century highlighted in Dutch exhibition
23 July 2015 - The selfie may be a contemporary look, but a Dutch museum aims to show that its roots go back centuries. In an upcoming exhibition, the Mauritshuis (art museum) in The Hague is showing a collection of self-portraits by master artists including Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Carel Fabritius, and Gerrit Dou from Dutch painting's 17th century Golden Age. The self-portrait was particularly popular among Dutch painters of the period. Rembrandt alone painted and drew dozens over his lifetime. (more)

Applications for US unemployment aid plummet to 42-year low
23 July 2015 - Six years after a brutal recession that wiped out more than 8.5 million jobs, Americans are now enjoying a nearly unprecedented level of job security. The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid plunged last week to the lowest in nearly 42 years. Applications for jobless benefits are a proxy for layoffs, so the low level indicates that employers are keeping their staffs and likely hiring at a steady pace. (more)

Astronomers discover most Earth-like planet yet
23 July 2015 - A planet believed to be remarkably similar to Earth has been discovered orbiting a distant sun-like star, bolstering hopes of finding life elsewhere in the universe, U.S. scientists said on Thursday. The planet, which is about 60 percent bigger than Earth, is located 1,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. It was discovered by astronomers using NASA's Kepler space telescope and circles a star that is similar in size and temperature to the sun, but older. (more)

Culinary tourists driving growth in US tourism
23 July 2015 - Culinary tourists are pushing growth in foreign tourism to the United States, which is transforming its image as a fast-food mecca to a land of regional tastes and dishes, said officials visiting the Expo 2015 world's fair focusing on food this week. Foreign tourism to the United States in 2014 rose by 7 percent to over 75 million, contributing $221 million to the economy. (more)

Scientists find closest thing yet to Earth-sun twin system
23 July 2015 - Scientists have identified a 'close cousin' to Earth that's orbiting a sun-like star and might harbour life. The researchers announced their discovery Thursday based on observations from NASA's Kepler space telescope. What makes this planet remarkable is that it orbits its star at about the same distance that Earth orbits the sun. What's more, its home star looks to be similar to our sun. (more)

U.S. leading economic indicator increases solidly
23 July 2015 - A gauge of future U.S. economic activity increased more than expected in June, boosted by a strengthening housing market, suggesting growth will continue to gain momentum for the remainder of the year. (more)

Canada: Violent crime rate down for 8th year in a row as crime falls to 1969 levels
22 July 2015 - Violent crime in Canada fell for the eighth straight year, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday. The downward trend came as the agency reported serious crime in general fell to its lowest relative level since 1969 -- marking 11 straight years of declines. (more)

How walking in nature changes the brain - US study
22 July 2015 - A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health, according to an interesting new study of the physical effects on the brain of visiting nature. Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, and his colleagues found that volunteers who walked briefly through a lush, green portion of the Stanford campus were more attentive and happier afterward than volunteers who strolled for the same amount of time near heavy traffic. The walking in nature seemed to effect the subgenual prefrontal cortex, associated with brooding. (more)

Koran fragment find excites British researchers (Reuters video)
22 July 2015 - British researchers have discovered fragments from a Koran manuscript in the library of the University of Birmingham, mistakenly bound to a similar Koran. At 1370 years old, researchers says it's one of the oldest manuscripts of the Koran that exists today. Radiocarbon dating has found that the manuscript is just about as old as the prophet himself. (more)

Koran fragments found in UK library are among world's oldest, says university
22 July 2015 - Fragments of a Koran manuscript found in a British university library are from one of the world's oldest surviving copies of the Islamic text, and may even have been written by someone who knew Prophet Mohammad, researchers said on Wednesday. (more)

AP-GfK poll: Americans on board with Cuba diplomacy
21 July 2015 - The restoration of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba seems to sit well with Americans. An Associated Press-GfK poll found the vast majority of respondents favour the move. Five things to know about U.S. public opinion on Cuba: (more)

Physicist Peter Higgs wins world's oldest scientific prize
21 July 2015 - Nobel Prize winner Professor Peter Higgs has joined the likes of Albert Einstein after winning the world's oldest scientific prize. Professor Higgs, who lives in Edinburgh, has been given the Royal Society's Copley Medal for his work on the theory of the Higgs boson. (more)

Professor Peter Higgs honoured for Higgs boson discovery
21 July 2015 - Professor Peter Higgs has been awarded the world's oldest scientific prize, The Royal Society's Copley Medal. Professor Higgs received the Copley Medal for his 'fundamental contribution to particle physics', the theory explaining the origin of mass in elementary particles. The Royal Society is a Fellowship of the world's most distinguished scientists. (more)

US: Widespread job growth
21 July 2015 - Unemployment rates fell last month in 21 U.S. states and were unchanged in 17, as widespread job growth and a shrinking workforce reduce the ranks of those out of work. The figures point to widespread improvement in the nation's job market. There is also evidence that the falling unemployment rates in many states could be boosting wage growth. (more)

New era in ties begins as Cuba raises flag at embassy in US (+ AP videos)
20 July 2015 - Cuba's blue, red, and white-starred flag was hoisted Monday at the country's embassy in Washington, signaling the start of a new post-Cold War era in U.S.-Cuba relations. Earlier, without ceremony, the Cuban flag was added in the lobby of the U.S. State Department alongside those of other countries with which the U.S. has diplomatic ties. In Havana, meanwhile, a carnival atmosphere reigned around the new U.S. Embassy overlooking Havana's Malecon seaside promenade. The U.S. and Cuba severed diplomatic relations in 1961 and since the 1970s have been represented in each other's capitals by limited-service interests sections. President Obama has sought engagement with communist Cuba since he first took office and has progressively loosened restrictions on travel and remittances to the island. (more)

Along River Thames, Swan Uppers begin annual bird census
20 July 2015 - Dressed in a traditional scarlet coat and with a feather in his hat, Queen Swan Marker David Barber led six wooden rowing skiffs up the River Thames on Monday as bird counters began the old English tradition of Swan Upping. The five-day census goes back to the 12th century. Today, it is a way of collecting data and assessing young cygnets for injury or disease. (more)

Digital imaging reveals oldest biblical text since Dead Sea Scrolls (+ Reuters video)
20 July 2015 - Israeli archaeologists said on Monday they had discerned biblical writing on a charred 1,500-year-old parchment with the help of digital imaging and described the text as the oldest found since the Dead Sea Scrolls. U.S. and Israeli researchers made the discovery using advanced medical and digital technology to examine the object, first unearthed 45 years ago when then-standard forensics could not decipher any script on the scroll. (more)

Eco-friendly Pope to encourage likeminded mayors at Vatican
20 July 2015 - Dozens of environmentally friendly mayors from around the world are meeting at the Vatican Tuesday to bask in the star power of eco-Pope Francis and commit to reducing global warming and helping the urban poor deal with its effects. (more)

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