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Bangladesh farmers turn back the clock to combat climate stresses
28 November 2014 - Indigenous varieties of rice are making a comeback in Bangladesh as farmers abandon high-yielding hybrid rice in favour of more resilient varieties that can cope with more extreme climate conditions, researchers say. About 20 per cent of the rice fields planted in the low-lying South Asian nation now contain indigenous varieties that can stand up to drought, flooding, or other stresses, said Jiban Krishna, director general of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute. (more)

US smoking rate hits historic low
28 November 2014 - Cigarette smoking among American adults has hit at an all-time low, health officials said Wednesday. The percentage of smokers over the age of 18 dropped from 20.9% in 2005 to 17.8% in 2013, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. That's the lowest rate of smoking adults since the CDC started tracking the numbers via its National Health Interview Survey in 1965. Over the course of eight years, the number of US smokers dropped from 45.1 million to 42.1 million, the report reveals. (more)

Neonicotinoid pesticide use to be reduced by 80% in Ontario, Canada
28 November 2014 - The Ontario government has moved to limit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides amid growing evidence that the substances are responsible for drastic reductions in bee populations in the province. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs laid out a three-point initiative Tuesday that it says will ensure 'healthy ecosystems' and a 'productive agricultural sector' while reversing the downward trend of pollinator numbers. (more)

US: Neurons light up Times Square for Midnight Moment
28 November 2014 - Brain City is playing at Times Square at 11.57 every night until the end of November. Along with its street performers and endless crowds of tourists, New York's Times Square is best known for a huge array of electronic billboards. What's less well known -- to both NYC residents and passing tourists -- is that every night, at three minutes to midnight, many of the occupying brands give up their prized real estate for three minutes in the name of art, as part of the Times Square Advertising Coalition's Midnight Moment project. This November, the screens have been hijacked by Brain City, a short computer-generated movie that captures imagery from some of the world's leading neuroscience labs, presenting a journey through the vast avenues of the human brain. (more)

France: Shakespeare First Folio discovered in French library
28 November 2014 - A Shakespeare First Folio has been discovered in a library in a small French town where it lay undiscovered for two centuries. It is only the second known copy in France of a publication that is seen as one of the most valuable books in the English language and which can sell for millions on the rare occasions a copy comes up for auction. The First Folio was published by two of the Bard's fellow actors and closest friends and includes 36 of Shakespeare's 38 known plays. (more)

Australia: Fruit bats rescued from destroyed homes receive rehabilitation
28 November 2014 - A Northern Beaches volunteer is rehabilitating 80 fruit bats, which are also known as flying foxes, rescued from a destroyed habitat in Casino. When fruit bats stop to eat fruit, sticky yellow grains of pollen become caught on their fur and then rubs off onto other flowers that the bats visit. That's how bats pollinate flowers, which allows the trees to develop fruits and seeds. (more)

Ontario export markets growing thanks to surging US economy
28 November 2014 - A new report suggests a surging US economy will help Ontario, Canada exports realize growth of seven per cent this year and five per cent in 2015. The report, from Export Development Canada, says the increase is being driven primarily by strong US demand for industrial machinery. The EDC says those exports are projected to grow by 10 per cent this year and jump to 17 per cent in 2015, making it the biggest mover in Ontario's economic forecast. (more)

Latin American art auctions set record-high sales for 31 artists
28 November 2014 - Blistering sales this week of Latin American art set auction records for 31 artists spanning three centuries, ranging from creators in the Spanish colonial period to living artists like Colombia's Fernando Botero. 'Our November sale series has been a glorious celebration of Latin American art,' said Alex Stein, Sotheby's Latin American art chief. (more)

US consumer sentiment climbs in November
27 November 2014 - US consumer sentiment rose in November to its highest level in more than seven years on improvements in the current economic condition, including lower gas prices and improving job prospects, a survey released on Wednesday showed. 'Consumers more frequently reported hearing about positive rather than negative economic developments in the November survey, with reports of improving employment the dominant news item,' survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final November reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 88.8, its highest reading since July 2007 on a final basis. (more)

Canada economy stronger than thought in first-half 2014
27 November 2014 - The Canadian economy grew at a stronger pace in the first half of the year than previously thought, revised data from Statistics Canada showed in early November. The revised figures raised second-quarter growth in gross domestic product to 3.6 per cent from the 3.1 per cent first reported by Statscan. (more)

Scotland: Music has charms to soothe criticism
27 November 2014 - The core purpose of the Big Noise orchestra under the banner of Sistema Scotland is to bring about social transformation, empowering children to succeed in every area of their lives. Musical accomplishment, albeit important, is only part of the story. There will be a minority for whom playing in the orchestras will pave the way for a musical career but for the overwhelming majority the programme is designed to imbue children and parents with a sense of hope and purpose. (more)

Improving system for person with disabilities good for all says US advocate on tour of UN accessibility centre
27 November 2014 - On a tour of the United Nations Accessibility Centre for the audio, visual, and physically impaired, United States Senator Tom Harkin said that 'when you make a system better for a person with a disability it makes it better for people without disabilities'. The United Nations Accessibility Centre, which opened in December 2013, is equipped with state-of-the-art assistive information and communication technology to support audio, visual as well as physical impairments. (more)

India: All temple towers to sport new look with environment-friendly paint
27 November 2014 - The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department has decided to apply environment-friendly painting on all towers (gopurams) and the rajagopuram of the Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. This is the first time that the emulsion paint is being used. It is more durable and can withstand bad weather conditions also particularly heat during summer. (more)

Ontario, Canada banning smoking on patios, playgrounds starting first of January
27 November 2014 - The Ontario government is strengthening its anti-smoking laws in the new year to make it illegal to light up in children's playgrounds, publicly owned sports fields, and restaurant and bar patios. The ban will take effect starting 1 January the government has announced. On the same date, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act will be revised to bar the sale of tobacco on university and college campuses. (more)

Canada Sept retail sales surge, may prompt GDP rethink
27 November 2014 - A surge in the auto sector helped retail sales in Canada to power ahead by 0.8 per cent in September, a stronger-than-expected result that may cause analysts to boost their projections for gross domestic product (GDP). Retail trade is the last major piece of the puzzle before Friday's release of GDP data for September and the third quarter. Statistics Canada has already reported strong manufacturing, wholesale, export, and building permits data for September. (more)

Kerala, India protected forest area rich in biodiversity
27 November 2014 - Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, India is a notable tiger reserve as well as an elephant reserve. A recent survey, however has shown that the protected forest area rich in biodiversity is also home to 246 species of butterflies, proving once again that protecting a tiger's territory helps conserve a number of species including the small and spectacular butterflies. (more)

In wake of China rejections, GMO seed makers limit US launches
26 November 2014 - China's barriers to imports of some US genetically modified crops are disrupting seed companies' plans for new product launches and keeping at least one variety out of the US market altogether. The developments constrain launches of new GMO seeds by raising concerns that harvests of unapproved varieties could be accidentally shipped to the world's fastest-growing corn market and denied entry there. It also casts doubt over the future of companies' heavy investments in research of crop technology. (more)

Crime in Scotland at lowest recorded level in 40 years
26 November 2014 - The level of recorded crime in Scotland has reached its lowest level in 40 years, falling by 1per cent in the past year. Official statistics also showed a 10% reduction in violent crime between 2013-14, with the number of homicides halved over seven years. The crime clear-up rate of nearly 52% is the highest since comparable records began in 1976. (more)

Canada: Mountain Equipment Co-op's new Vancouver digs designed to save energy, encourage activity
26 November 2014 - The Mountain Equipment Co-op's new False Creek headquarters is Vancouver's greenest and most innovative offices. The building's sustainability features include natural lighting, geothermal heat, on-site water management, and sensors that control window blinds and lighting during the day. Plus, climbing walls, gym, yoga room -- and lots of storage for bikes. (more)

US economy rose more than expected last quarter
26 November 2014 - The S&P 500 hit a record high on Tuesday as the US economy rose more than expected last quarter but soft readings on consumer confidence and house prices kept major indexes in a tight range near the unchanged level. Markets are coming off a period of long-running strength. The S&P has risen in 12 of its last 14 sessions, and is up more than 13 per cent from an intraday low in mid-October. US markets will be closed on Thursday, while Friday will be a half-day session on Wall Street. (more)

Tartu Observatory in Estonia finds galaxies in filaments spaced like pearls on a necklace
26 November 2014 - On large scales, the universe is comprised of empty voids, punctuated by narrow, winding filaments of dark matter that guide the growth of galaxies and galaxy clusters. This cosmic web, which has taken decades to map, holds a repeating pattern on the order of hundreds of millions of light years. But when you zoom in, things were supposed to get messier. Now, Elmo Tempel and his student Maarja Bussov at Tartu Observatory in Estonia and their colleagues have found a small-scale pattern in cosmic structure. (more)

Brain response to a 'lost' first language
26 November 2014 - An infant's mother tongue creates neural patterns that the unconscious brain retains years later even if the child totally stops using the language, (as can happen in cases of international adoption) according to a new joint study by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital -- The Neuro and McGill University's Department of Psychology. The study offers the first neural evidence that traces of the 'lost' language remain in the brain. (more)

Alberta, Canada: Ugly fruits and vegetables are finally finding a home -- on store shelves
26 November 2014 - Alberta's Red Hat Co-op is at the forefront of a movement that is saving ugly but tasty fruits and vegetables from the landfill. In Canada, where food waste costs $27-billion a year and pumps that decompose food emit excessive harmful greenhouse gases into the air, the trend is growing roots both up and down the food chain as growers, suppliers, and chefs celebrate real, imperfect produce with the goal of building more sustainable, less wasteful food systems. (more)

Multi-national crew on space station that serves as orbiting science lab
26 November 2014 - A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sunday to deliver three new crew members to the International Space Station, including Italy's first female astronaut. Less than six hours later, the capsule flew into a berthing port on the Russian side of the station as the two ships sailed about 260 miles (418 km) over the central Pacific Ocean, NASA mission commentator Kyle Herring from the Johnson Space Center in Houston said. (more)

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