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Apple offering free recycling of all used products
22 April 2014 - Apple is offering free recycling of all its used products and vowing to power all of its stores, offices, and data centres with renewable energy to reduce the pollution caused by its devices and online services. The offer covers a wide array of electronics that aren't supposed to be dumped in landfills because of the toxins in them. (more)

Bloomberg invests $5M in solar-powered lamp for Africa
22 April 2014 - Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's foundation on Tuesday announced a $5 million investment in an artsy-looking solar-powered lamp designed for use in off-grid populations in Africa. The lamp, called Little Sun, provides clear, affordable energy to places dependent on costly and toxic kerosene lighting in sub-Saharan Africa, said Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity of the billionaire businessman and former mayor. Little Sun managing director and CEO Felix Hallwachs said breathing kerosene fumes for four hours is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes. (more)

Asia-Pacific navies sign communication agreement
22 April 2014 - Naval officials from the US and two dozen Asia-Pacific nations adopted an agreement Tuesday aimed at improving communication at sea to reduce the possibility of conflict amid rising friction between an increasingly assertive China and its neighbours. The Code For Unplanned Encounters at Sea provides simple standardized phrases that navies can use when they come across ships from other countries. Although not legally binding, China's adoption of the code indicates its increased willingness to engage with its neighbours, US Navy officials said. China's navy commander, Admiral Wu Shengli, welcomed the accord as a means for closer cooperation in humanitarian missions, as well as a way to avoid misunderstandings. While ships at sea already talk over the radio, the accord seeks to standardize those communications with code phrases, the meaning of which have been translated into local languages. (more)

Turkish organic food exports on the rise
22 April 2014 - Turkey's organic agriculture and livestock is on the rise, according to the vice chairperson of Istanbul's Chamber of Commerce. Dursun Topcu spoke at a publicity meeting in Istanbul for the Global Food Marketplace, also called SIAL. The food exhibition (SIAL), considered one of the largest in its sector, will be held in October in Paris. Nearly 6,000 companies from around the world will attend the exhibition. Turkey was the third biggest participant in 2013 after the hosting France and Italy. (more)

Tesla delivers first China cars, plans expansion
22 April 2014 - Tesla Motors Inc delivered its first eight electric sedans to customers in China on Tuesday and CEO Elon Musk said the company will build a nationwide network of charging stations and service centres as fast as it can. Tesla probably will invest several hundred million dollars in charging infrastructure in China, Mr Musk told reporters. Tesla is based in Palo Alto, California. (more)

Drones unearth more details about Chaco culture in US, could be used elsewhere
22 April 2014 - Recently published research describes how archaeologists outfitted a customized drone with a heat-sensing camera to unearth what they believe are ceremonial pits and other features at the site of an ancient village in New Mexico. The discovery of the structures hidden beneath layers of sediment and sagebrush is being hailed as an important step that could help archaeologists shed light on mysteries long buried by eroding desert landscapes from the American Southwest to the Middle East. The results of the research were published earlier this month in the Journal of Archaeological Science. (more)

On Mother Earth Day, UN urges protecting planet from 'heavy hand of humankind'
22 April 2014 - On International Mother Earth Day, the United Nations is urging greater efforts to promote sustainable development and use of renewable energy sources, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealing for worldwide changes in attitude and practice to curb the negative impact of human activity on the planet. As a part of the Organization's efforts to drive home the importance of respecting and protecting the planet towards ensuring 'the future we want', the General Assembly is convening an interactive dialogue on 'Harmony with Nature' to commemorate the International Day, marked annually on 22 April. (more)

South Africa: Construction and engineering skills shortage tackled by school
22 April 2014 - In an effort to alleviate the skills shortage in the building industry and engineering fields, Labori High School, the only school in Paarl and one of very few in the country to offer the full technical as well as academic portfolio, is working together with the private sector to prepare their learners for the world of work. (more)

South Africa: Vocational learning with Swiss precision
22 April 2014 - A partnership between South Africa and Switzerland will give Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college students the sought-after experience they need to do well in the workplace. The programme was born out of an interaction between South Africa's Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande and the Swiss Chamber of Commerce, which expressed an interest in working with South African TVET colleges. The two countries have long-standing diplomatic ties, and Minister Nzimande said the partnership presented invaluable opportunities for both countries. (more)

South Africa: Work underway for new medical university
22 April 2014 - South Africa's Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande says work is underway towards the establishment of the new comprehensive health and allied sciences university. Minister Nzimande said the task team has also recommended an exciting academic model and what is called a 'Programme Qualification Mix suitable for a comprehensive health and allied sciences university in the South African context'. (more)

US retirees who use the Internet less likely to be depressed: study
22 April 2014 - Older Americans who regularly spent time online were about a third less likely to suffer from depression in a new study that compared them to peers who did not use the Internet. Shelia Cotten and her colleagues analyzed responses gathered over six years by the US Health and Retirement Survey, a large population study that focuses on the transitions Americans go through as they retire. The data covered 3,075 retired men and women who didn't live in nursing homes. The study didn't examine how much people used the Internet or analyze the effects of specific types of Internet use, she said. (more)

US: Frank Lloyd Wright tower opens for public tours
22 April 2014 - Frank Lloyd Wright fans will get their first look at one of his most unusual buildings, an industrial tower with a tree-like design, when a home products company opens its former research and development centre to the public this spring. The 15-story tower at SC Johnson's headquarters in southeastern Wisconsin is regarded as one of the country's most important examples of cantilevered architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright used the lily pad-like pillars to support the structure, allowing him to create exterior walls of glass that provide a lot of natural light. The outer walls are made up of glass tubes that let in natural light while blocking out the industrial landscape that surrounded the building when it opened. The SC Johnson buildings help to create a Wright corridor that stretches from the Chicago area to southwestern Wisconsin, Sean Malone, CEO and President of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, said. (more)

US: Montana uses grant to buy grizzly bear habitat
22 April 2014 - The Montana Land Board on Monday approved a $345,000 purchase of 320 acres of threatened grizzly bear habitat to add to the Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area in Teton County. The state is buying the land from The Conservation Fund with a grant from a US Fish and Wildlife Services programme to help the recovery of grizzlies in the northern Continental Divide. The 320 acres of timber, grasslands, and wetlands is considered critical grizzly bear habitat and is adjacent to the 10,397-acre wildlife management area. (more)

Gauge of US economy up for third straight month
21 April 2014 - A measure of the US economy's health rose in March for the third consecutive month, a sign of stronger growth after harsh winter weather caused the economy's pace to slow. The Conference Board said Monday that its index of leading indicators increased 0.8 per cent in March after a 0.5 per cent rise in February and modest 0.2 per cent gain in January. Both hiring and consumer outlooks have improved, which along with interest rates, fuelled much of the index's improvement. (more)

Chile derails 'Monsanto Law' that would privatize seeds
21 April 2014 - In March, rural women, indigenous communities, and farmers in Chile found themselves on the winning end of a long-fought battle against a bill that had come to be known by many in this country as simply, the 'Monsanto Law'. The bill, which would have given multinational agribusiness corporations the right to patent seeds they discover, develop or modify, was withdrawn by the Chilean government now controlled by newly elected members of the centre-left coalition known as the New Majority, amid concerns that the law would bring harm to the country's small and mid-sized farmers. In making the announcement on 17 March, new Secretary General Ximena Rincón pledged that the Chilean government will 'analyze all that is known in our country and internationally about this issue in order to protect the rights of agricultural communities, small and medium-sized farmers, and the heritage of seeds in our country'. (more)

Netherlands: The power of optimism in a pessimistic world
21 April 2014 - Jurriaan Kamp once worked as a free-lance journalist in war-torn areas. One day he realized that the more bombs fell and the more people injured, the more he got paid. That's when he began to suspect there was something wrong with the way we do journalism. Jurriaan and his wife Helene came up with the idea of starting their own magazine. The magazine he cofounded with Helene has prospered for over twenty years, raising positive movements into the public consciousness. Ode magazine was recently renamed The Intelligent Optimist. Jurriaan is coming out with a book called The Intelligent Optimist's Guide to Life. The book uses facts and statistics to demonstrate that things aren't nearly as bad as people might think. (more)

Democratic Republic of Congo province poised to start certified 'conflict-free' tin exports
21 April 2014 - Democratic Republic of Congo's tin producing North Kivu province may begin exports of certified 'conflict-free' minerals as soon as next week after the roll-out of a new barcode tagging scheme, the head of the regional division of mines said. North Kivu is at the heart of Congo's production of tin and coltan -- used in electronic devices such as mobile phones and video game consoles. Local traders, who have stockpiled minerals since 2012 without a means to export them, say they are committed to keeping supply chains clean. (more)

Canada: National Farmers Union pleased that genetically modified alfalfa is not available this spring
21 April 2014 - The recent decision to not release Genetically Modified alfalfa seed for sale in Canada this spring, is getting the approval of a number of seed and farm organizations. The National Farmers Union (NFU) recently sent out a press release stating that it is happy that Forage Genetics International, the company which owns the seed, decided to further delay the introduction of the seed, also known as Roundup Ready alfalfa. The decision was originally reported in the March 27 edition of The Western Producer. They quote Forage Genetics International (FGI) as stating, 'For the spring of 2014, Forage Genetics will not be commercializing Roundup Ready alfalfa in Canada anywhere.' (more)

India: Sensitive Index and Nifty surge to record high
21 April 2014 - The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index and Nifty hit record highs on Monday as lenders such as Axis Bank rallied ahead of their financial results starting later this week, while strong gains in debt markets reduced concerns about potential losses in the sector's bond portfolios. (more)

US: Building-integrated solar air heating systems proving popular
21 April 2014 - According to new industry data, a growing sector of the US solar energy industry has reached a major new milestone, with 5 million square feet of building-integrated solar air heating collectors now installed in North America. These systems represent 250 megawatts (MW) of thermal energy and displace nearly 100,000 tonnes of CO2 each year from the atmosphere. (more)

Thailand: Festival of Ko Lae Boat Races in Narathiwat
21 April 2014 - The southernmost province of Narathiwat is located at the point where the Bang Nara River flows into the Gulf of Thailand. The province holds Ko Lae boat races on this river as an annual cultural event. Ko Lae boats have been used in boat races since ancient times, but the boat races were later suspended for a long period. The festival of Ko Lae boat races was revived after the construction of Daksin Palace, the royal residence of Their Majesties the King and Queen in Narathiwat. (more)

Tanzania: Howard Buffett to support Selous Game Reserve protection
21 April 2014 - On a visit to Tanzania, Howard G Buffett, the elder son of American investor and philanthropist Warren Edward Buffett, pledged to provide a helicopter for surveillance of poachers in the Selous Game Reserve. A UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest animal reserves in the world, inhabited by elephants, hippos, Cape buffalo, and crocodiles. The Howard G Buffett Foundation has a long history of support for conservation in Africa. (more)

India's Hero Motor to invest $40 million in Bangladesh joint-venture
21 April 2014 - India's Hero Motor Corp Limited , maker of the Hero motorcycle, will invest $40 million in a new manufacturing plant in Bangladesh in its first overseas joint venture, Pawan Munjal, the company's managing director and chief executive said. Abdul Matlub Ahmad, chairman of Nitol Niloy Group said the joint venture aimed to provide technologically-advanced and fuel-efficient motorcycles for customers in Bangladesh. He told Reuters that the plant would create up to 200,000 (direct and indirect) job opportunities in the country. (more)

Lyrid meteor shower coming on Earth Day
21 April 2014 - The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks this year on the morning of Earth Day, 22 April, but will be visible for much of the week. Weather permitting, NASA will host a live video stream from one of its meteor cameras on Tuesday. With the Lyrids falling on Earth Day, it's a nice day to remember that our planet is made of the same star stuff as meteors, says Ron Hipschman, a scientist at the Exploratorium, an interactive science museum in San Francisco, California, USA. (more)

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