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Makha Bucha Day: 1,250 Buddhist monks in beautiful candlelit ceremony at Thailand's Dhammakaya temple
4 March 2015 - The important festival of Makha Bucha Day honours Buddha and his teachings, and falls on the full moon day of the third lunar month. It commemorates a day when 1,250 monks gathered to be ordained by the Buddha. On 4 March, some 1,250 Buddhist monks took part in a beautiful candlelit ceremony at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, to mark Makha Bucha Day. To see photos see: (more)

Thailand: Buddhists nationwide celebrate Makha Bucha Day
4 March 2015 - Thai Buddhists across the country went out early in the morning to temples today offering alms to monks as a gesture of merit making to mark the Makha Bucha Day. In Bangkok, Buddhists crowded several temples this morning to make merits. One of the famous temples, Wat Saket, was congested as thousands of Buddhists came to offer alms to 99 monks and listen to sermons. (more)

Makha Bucha Day falls on Wednesday, 4 March this year
4 March 2015 - The holy day of Makha Bucha Day commemorates the miraculous event when 1,250 disciples of the Buddha, Gautama Sakayamuni, travelled to meet with the Buddha with no prearranged agreement, at Weluwan Mahawiharn Temple in the area of Rachakhryha, India. Devout Buddhists in Thailand are expected to turn out in the thousands at local temples to conduct religious ceremonies. (more)

Global business growth at five-month high in February - PMI
4 March 2015 - Global business activity picked up at the fastest pace in five months during February as new orders flooded in, even though companies raised prices, a business survey showed on Wednesday. JPMorgan's Global All-Industry Output Index, produced with Markit has now held above the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction since October 2012. (more)

Domestic economy drives Irish services sector growth in Feb - PMI
4 March 2015 - Ireland's services sector expanded at a strong pace again in February, driven by rising domestic demand as new business from abroad slowed, a survey showed on Wednesday. Ireland's economy is forecast to be the fastest-growing in the European Union again this year and data released so far in 2015 has shown growth may be less reliant on strong exports, with unemployment falling, tax receipts soaring, and retail sales up sharply. (more)

British services growth eases but hiring booms in February - PMI
4 March 2015 - Growth in Britain's dominant services sector eased back in February but firms hired staff at the second-fastest rate on record, wages rose, and new orders increased, a further sign that the economy has got off to a strong start in 2015. This follows upbeat PMIs (Purchasing Managers' Index) for manufacturing and construction earlier this week. (more)

Euro economy starts surprising on upside
4 March 2015 - An analysis of Reuters polls shows more than half the most important economic reports since the start of the year, as well as data across the bloc's four largest economies, have beaten the consensus forecast and many have topped the highest prediction. This latest turn, which comes despite concerns over Greece's future membership in the euro and no real respite to conflict in Ukraine, suggests fears of a deflationary spiral in Europe have been overdone. Germany, Europe's largest economy, is the clear leader. (more)

German retail sales surge at fastest pace in seven years
4 March 2015 - German retail sales jumped by the largest amount in seven years in January, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Tuesday, fuelling expectations that private consumption will propel growth in Europe's largest economy this year. Retail sales leapt by 5.3 per cent on the year in real terms, their biggest increase since June 2010. German consumer morale is at its highest level in more than 13 years as shoppers benefit from record employment and higher pay. (more)

Makha Bucha Day in Thailand: Why it is celebrated and how it is observed
4 March 2015 - It was nine full months after Buddha got enlightenment, on the full moon day of the 3rd lunar month, Makha, of the year, that four special events happened. Among them: there were 1,250 Sangha followers, that came to see the Buddha that evening without any schedule. To read about the other three special events and and how the day is observed, please see: (more)

Makha Bucha holiday celebrated in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia
4 March 2015 - Makha Bucha, an important religious celebration in the Buddhist calendar, falls on 4 March, the full-moon day of the third lunar month. The religious holiday is designated a public holiday in most Mekong Region countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, where Buddhism holds sway. Buddhists attend ceremonies that venerate the Lord Buddha and his teachings. It involves visits to temples to perform merit-making activities in the morning, and in the evening, people join candlelight processions around a temple's ordination chapel, three times in a clockwise direction. Each of the three circuits represents one of the three jewels -- Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. (more)

Prince William calls for end to ivory trade on China visit
4 March 2015 - Prince William urged an end to the ivory trade on Wednesday, visiting a Chinese elephant sanctuary in the southwestern province of Yunnan at the close of a three-day trip to the country that focussed partly on wildlife conservation. Animal rights groups say China's growing appetite for the contraband material has fuelled a surge in poaching in Africa. William said that he welcomed 'the steps that China has already taken' to counter the trade. The extinction of animals such as elephants, rhinos, and pangolins would be an 'immeasurable loss' to humanity, he said. (more)

Prince William calls for unified effort against illegal wildlife trade - Reuters video
4 March 2015 - The Duke of Cambridge made a passionate appeal against the illegal wildlife trade on the final day of his visit to China. The Prince spoke a regional wildlife and conservation conference in Mengman, Xishuangbanna County, Yunnan Province, on Wednesday. He also paid a visit to an elephant sanctuary in the Wild Elephant Valley in Yunnan Province in southwest China. To watch video see: (more)

US President Obama announces new education effort to 'let girls learn'
4 March 2015 - Saying every girl 'has value', President Barack Obama announced a more focused government effort Tuesday to help tens of millions of girls around the world attend and stay in school. Michelle Obama is heading to Japan and Cambodia later this month to promote it. She will visit Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, from March 18-20 and Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia from March 21-22, the White House said. (more)

US: In New Orleans, training a lost generation while feeding the next
4 March 2015 - At age 17, Akira Holmes dropped out of high school and had a baby. Last week, the 18-year-old stood in a crisp white chef's jacket at a cafe in New Orleans, on the cusp of completing a training programme she expects will transform her life. Liberty's Kitchen endeavours to throw lifelines to young people on the verge of being swallowed by poverty and crime. Some of its trainees, aged 16-24, are homeless. Many have criminal records. Most have dropped out of school. Liberty's Kitchen also provides healthy, fresh meals for some of the city's poorest school children. Founded in 2008, Liberty's Kitchen is among a growing group of social enterprises nationwide focusing on job training and operating food-oriented businesses. The organization was founded by Janet Davas, an oil company executive eager to do good in a city still reeling from Hurricane Katrina. (more)

UK construction growth unexpectedly surges in February - PMI
3 March 2015 - Growth in Britain's construction industry jumped unexpectedly to a four-month high last month, adding to evidence Britain's economy started 2015 strongly. Growth picked up across the housing, commercial, and civil engineering sectors. A similar survey on Monday showed the pace of expansion in British manufacturing hit a seven-month high in February. (more)

Viet Nam woman helps farmers produce organic rice (video)
3 March 2015 - A lady master's degree holder in agriculture has worked hard to turn her long-cherished dream of producing organic rice into reality and helped farmers in her hometown successfully adopt the model. Born in Tan Binh Commune in southern Dong Nai Province, Tran Thi Phuong Chi grew up working on paddy fields and studied hard to hopefully realize her dream of producing clean rice one day. Graduating in agriculture from a university in Ho Chi Minh City in 1997, she began working at a state-run agriculture agency under the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. To watch video see: (more)

Viet Nam: Grandmothers perform lion dances for over 30 years article
3 March 2015 - Lion dances are usually performed during Tet (Lunar New Year) and other traditional, cultural, and religious festivals, and important occasions such as business openings or special celebrations. Over a dozen elderly women, including octogenarians, in a Mekong Delta province have been performing lion dances over the past three decades. The dancers, who are just as agile and supple as those in their prime, turned out to be elderly women, including those in their 70s and 80s, who already have grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. (more)

Canada: Business optimism in Prince Edward Island at highest since 2002
2 March 2015 - Business optimism in Prince Edward Island is now the highest since 2002, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says. (more)

On the beach where US troops landed 50 years ago, a new Vietnam flourishes
2 March 2015 - On an unremarkable stretch of Nam O Beach on 8 March 1965, 3,500 US marines disembarked from their landing crafts and waded on to Vietnam's shores, becoming the first American ground troops to arrive in the country. Nobody on the beach that day had any idea of the long and tortuous conflict that was to follow. This week's anniversary will pass quietly in a rejuvenated nation where the young are more interested in tech and social media than memories of the past. In the last two decades, Vietnam has transformed from one of Asia's poorest countries to one of its fastest developing. In many respects, Da Nang represents the nation's astonishing development in microcosm. (more)

Playful tribute to mothers by Dolce and Gabbana at Milan Fashion Week - Reuters video
2 March 2015 - Italian designer duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana found inspiration close to home for their Autumn-Winter 2015-16 collection which was presented at the Milan Fashion Week on 1 March. Dolce and Gabbana's winter look was a colourful, fun-filled celebration of mothers. Audience members were treated with a sight of mothers and children on a stage as the curtain was drawn for the fashion show. Some of the models carried young babies with them on the catwalk and the show also saw Italian model Bianca Balti, who is six months pregnant, make an appearance on the runway. The brand's trademark lace dresses were combined with playful beyond the knee skirts and dresses with slogans manifesting their love for mothers in Italian and French. To watch video see: (more)

Prince William kicks off visit to China - Reuters video
2 March 2015 - Chinese President Xi Jinping gives Prince William a warm welcome as he visits Beijing. William is the first member of the British royal family to visit mainland China in almost 30 years. He conveyed an official invitation to Xi from the Queen for a state visit to Britain. To watch video see: (more)

Setting aside rancour over Hong Kong, China welcomes Prince William
2 March 2015 - Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a warm welcome to Prince William on Monday as he began the first visit to the mainland by a member of the British royal family in almost three decades, setting aside rancour with London over Hong Kong. William's trip to China is the first since Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, paid a visit in 1986. Meeting in Beijing's cavernous Great Hall of the People, William handed Xi an invitation from the Queen for a state visit to Britain. (more)

UK manufacturing growth at seven-month high in February - PMI
2 March 2015 - British manufacturing growth hit a seven-month high in February, according to a survey which adds to signs that Britain's economy started 2015 on a strong footing, albeit one based mostly on domestic demand. The Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) suggested British manufacturing output is growing at a quarterly rate of around 0.5 per cent, compared with a 0.2 per cent expansion in the final three months of 2014. (more)

US: Wall Street rallies; Nasdaq hits highest level since 2000 (with video)
2 March 2015 - The Nasdaq on Monday closed above 5,000 for the first time since the year 2000 dot-com bubble as tech stocks were boosted by deals, while the S and P 500 and Dow indexes hit records after economic data pointed to a slowly accelerating economy. After oscillating around it for much of the day, the Nasdaq composite index gained steam in the late afternoon to finish firmly above the milestone, marking the third time the index ended above 5,000. The last time was 10 March 2000. (more)

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