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Canada's murder rate in 2014 falls to 50-year low
25 November 2015 - Canada's murder rate in 2014 edged down to a near 50-year low, official data showed on Wednesday. The overall homicide rate in 2014 dipped to 1.45 victims per 100,000 people, the lowest since 1966, from 1.46 in 2013. By contrast, the murder rate in the neighboring United States was 4.6 per 100,000 people in 2013, the most recent year for which figures are available. (more)

Belgian tourist boards parade cats to lure back tourists after lockdown
25 November 2015 - Belgium's tourist boards have latched onto a social media craze of cats that gave Brussels light relief during a tense five-day security lockdown in the wake of militant attacks in Paris. When police on Sunday asked the public in Brussels not to share details of their operations on social media, Belgians took to tweeting each other pictures of their cats. Capitalising on the social media hit, Belgium's three tourist authorities have now released a 20 second video film. (more)

Euro zone business growth at four-year high
25 November 2015 - Business activity in the euro zone picked up at its fastest pace since mid-2011 this month, and far quicker than expected, as slowing growth in France following the November 13 attacks was offset by a buoyant Germany. Growth in the French services sector slowed although a faster increase in manufacturing activity helped keep the private sector expanding. (more)

German private sector defies economic concerns, grows faster in November - PMI
25 November 2015 - Growth in Germany's private sector accelerated in November, a survey showed on Monday, suggesting Europe's biggest economy is defying worries over a slowdown in China and the emissions scandal at car maker Volkswagen. Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which tracks manufacturing and services activity and accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy, rose to 54.9 from 54.2 in October -- far above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction for the 31st month running. (more)

U.S. business spending gauge surges, durable goods orders soar
25 November 2015 - A gauge of U.S. business investment plans surged in October. The report came on the heels of data this month showing a solid increase in manufacturing output in October. A survey of factories also showed a rise in new orders last month. Manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of the economy. (more)

Indian airport shines as solar-power role model
24 November 2015 - Cochin International Airport in the south of India currently does what no other airport in the world can do: get 100 percent of its electricity from solar power. That impressive feat has moved the Modi administration to augment its renewable energy policy with a call for all airports in India to install solar panels. And with representatives from airports in other countries also coming to take a look, the Cochin model could inspire airports around the world to tap solar power for their energy needs. (more)

Audi: 25 percent of sales to come from electric cars in 2025
24 November 2015 - Where do you see yourself in 10 years? For Audi, the answer to that question lies in the electric and hybrid vehicle market. The luxury car brand announced its road map to electrification at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday, 18 November. President of Audi of America Scott Keogh said the company expects at least 25 percent of its sales in North America to be electric vehicles by 2025. (more)

Green car technologies on display at Los Angeles auto show
23 November 2015 - Asian automakers are opening up a new front in the contest to define the future of cars in California, fielding a flock of cars powered by hydrogen. Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai used the opening days of the Los Angeles auto show, which draws thousands of car enthusiasts in one of the world's richest vehicle markets, to tout new fuel-cell cars. These use hydrogen in a process that creates electricity but not carbon dioxide. Automakers plan to offer these cars in California, although the rollout will be limited. California provides as much as $100 million a year to fund alternative fuel and vehicle projects, including hydrogen refueling stations. (more)

Pigeons, the next great cancer detector?
23 November 2015 - Scientists have discovered you can teach one of the most maligned of birds how to identify cancer. It turns out pigeons may make great cancer detectives. The authors of a new study in the journal PLOS ONE think the birds offer great potential as testers of cancer detection technology and as a help in doctor training. Hearing about pigeons' amazing visual recall on a radio segment, Dr. Richard Levenson, professor and vice chair for strategic technologies in the department of medical pathology and laboratory medicine at University of California-Davis Medical Center, wondered 'if they could actually do pathology, which is all about visual recall.' He got in touch with Dr. Ed Wasserman, a professor of experimental psychology at the University of Iowa. He is also one of the guys scientists flock to when they want to play with pigeon vision, CNN reported. (more)

Southeast Asia summit to launch regional economic community
20 November 2015 - Southeast Asian leaders gathered Friday for a weekend summit at which they will formally create a unified economic community in a diverse region far larger than the European Union or North America, with hopes of competing with China and India. The 10 leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will sign a declaration on Sunday establishing the ASEAN Economic Community, originally envisioned in 2002. The ASEAN summit will also include separate meetings with China, South Korea, India, Japan, and the United States. On Sunday, those five countries along with the 10 ASEAN countries and Australia, New Zealand, and Russia are to meet in the so-called East Asia Summit to discuss regional and global issues such as terrorism, the migrant crisis, and cyber security. (more)

Unemployment rates fall in two-thirds of US states
20 November 2015 - Unemployment rates fell in 32 U.S. states last month as employers nationwide added the most jobs of any month this year. The unemployment rate has tumbled below 4.5 percent in 21 states, including Texas, Colorado, and Virginia. That's a historically low level that may help push up pay in the coming months. Steady spending by consumers has offset slower growth overseas and encouraged businesses to add more workers. (more)

Applications for US jobless aid fall to low level
19 November 2015 - The Labor Department reported Thursday that fewer Americans sought unemployment aid last week, fresh evidence that companies are confident enough in the economy to hold onto their workers. Hiring is typically healthy when applications are so low. Employers added 271,000 jobs in October, the largest monthly gain this year. (more)

Britain says 'stars beginning to align' on Cyprus unification
19 November 2015 - Momentum towards ending Cyprus's four-decade-old partition is building, and now is the right time for Greek and Turkish Cypriots to do a deal, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Thursday. 'The stars are beginning to align, but of course there are some very challenging issues,' Hammond said after talks in the island's capital with the leaders of both communities. Cyprus, a former British colony, was ethnically split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 following a brief Greek Cypriot coup. (more)

Largest diamond in over century found in Botswana
19 November 2015 - A 1,111 carat 'high quality diamond' has been discovered at a mine in Botswana, said to be the biggest find in more than a century, according to the mine company. The gem, only second in size to the Cullinan diamond which was unearthered in South Africa in 1905, was mined by Lucara Diamond Corp. (more)

Massive diamond found in Botswana
19 November 2015 - A small Canadian diamond company has found what it says is the world's second-biggest gem quality diamond ever recovered, and the largest in more than a century, at its mine in Botswana. Lucara Diamond Corp said on Wednesday the 1,111 carat stone was found at its Karowe mine in north-central Botswana, one of the world's most prolific diamond-producing areas. (more)

Pigeons may have a future standing in for pathologists and radiologists
18 November 2015 - Years of schooling and training are needed to teach pathologists and radiologists to spot cancer on medical images, but a new study finds that pigeons can be about as accurate as these professionals, with the help of a few food pellets. Visual recall is needed for pathologists and radiologists to determine what is and is not cancer when looking at images. The birds were taught to spot cancer and potentially cancer-linked calcifications over several days. Among the images of actual tissue samples, the birds' accuracy rose from 50 percent (equivalent to chance) to about 85 percent 15 days later. They performed just as well when they were shown new images. When the pigeons were taken as a group, and the choices of the majority tallied for each test, the birds demonstrated 99 percent accuracy in identifying cancer in the tissue sample images. (more)

Astronomers observe newborn planets evolving from gas and dust particles
18 November 2015 - Astronomers have observed up to three newborn planets evolving from a disk of gas and dust particles circling a distant Sun-like star. While 1,900 planets have been discovered outside our solar system, these are the first to be seen that are still forming. The discovery, reported in the journal Nature, has provided scientists with direct evidence of how gas and dust particles coalesce to create planets. The study's authors detected the planets by combining different new technologies on the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona (United States) and Chile's Magellan Telescope. (more)

Scotland's technology sector is booming
18 November 2015 - One in 25 Scots are now employed by the country's booming technology sector. 'The report shows high level of confidence among businesses, with 87 per cent reporting themselves as being optimistic or very optimistic about the year ahead,' said Polly Purvis of trade body Scotland IS. (more)

US: Endangered sturgeon rediscover habitat key for spawning
18 November 2015 - An endangered species of sturgeon has rediscovered long-inaccessible habitat that could be a key to improving the fish's reproduction, University of Maine scientists said. The shortnose sturgeon, listed endangered for nearly 50 years, has returned to the portion of the Penobscot River that is beyond the former Veazie Dam, a central Maine structure removed in 2013, the scientists said. The sturgeon had not been seen in the area, which is part of one of the largest river systems in northern New England, for more than 100 years, the university said. (more)

US manufacturing output rises for first time in 3 months
17 November 2015 - U.S. manufacturing output rose in October for the first time in three months as factories cranked out more steel, cars, and computers. The rise suggests that manufacturers may be overcoming several headwinds they have faced for most of this year. Steady consumer spending is likely helping offset some of the drags. (more)

US: Business survey finds companies expecting to boost hiring
17 November 2015 - A survey of 500 chief financial officers at U.S. companies released Tuesday found them optimistic about the American economy, with more than half of them expecting to hire additional employees next year, the highest level in eight years. (more)

Start-up growth in Scottish cities outstrips London
16 November 2015 - Scotland's biggest cities are experiencing faster levels of start-up growth than London. The number of new business start-ups has grown by 28 per cent across the UK over the past year, according to an analysis of Companies House data by Instant Offices. (more)

Surging services exports augur healthier UK trade future
16 November 2015 - In a first for a major economy, Britain's exports of services from debt swaps to Downton Abbey are close to overtaking those of manufactured goods, offering a way to narrow a persistent trade deficit. Services have been a more durable source of advantage for Britain and in recent years they have become easier to sell around the world, thanks to the spread of the English language and the Internet, and greater demand for the kind of financial and business services in which Britain specialises. Sometimes dubbed 'invisible exports', Britain sold 220 billion pounds ($335 billion) of services abroad last year, second only to the United States. (more)

Vietnam and New Zealand aim to double trade
15 November 2015 - Vietnam and New Zealand have signed several cooperation agreements during a visit by Prime Minister John Key to Hanoi as they seek to double bilateral trade in the next five years. Key is on his first visit to the Southeast Asian country since 2010. He said Sunday that the agreements covering education, aviation, and health care will facilitate companies from both countries to do more business. (more)

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