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Germany sets very high bar for fracking
1 April 2015 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet signed off on a draft law on Wednesday that imposes an effective ban on the controversial technique of fracking for shale gas. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves blasting chemicals and water into rock formations to release trapped gas. Opposition is strong in densely populated Germany due to concerns about the risk of contaminating drinking water. France and Bulgaria have banned fracking. (more)

European shares start quarter with gains after PMI boost
1 April 2015 - European shares began the quarter with gains on Wednesday, after data showed manufacturing activity across the euro zone accelerated faster than previously estimated last month. (more)

Little bird's arduous migration reaches 'brink of impossibility'
1 April 2015 - Scientists on Tuesday documented how this songbird that weighs half an ounce (12 grams) completes an arduous nonstop flight over the Atlantic Ocean from forests in New England and eastern Canada to Caribbean islands as it migrates each fall toward its South American wintering grounds. By placing miniature backpacks with geolocators on the birds, the researchers determined they flew an average of nearly 1,600 miles (2,540 km) over two to three days. 'It is truly one of the most amazing migratory feats ever recorded,' said ecologist Ryan Norris of the University of Guelph in Ontario. (more)

South African organization wins top children's book prize
1 April 2015 - A South African organization promoting reading among children and young people has won the world's biggest prize for children's literature, the jury for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award said on Tuesday.The jury praised PRAESA, Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, for its 'innovative reading and storytelling projects' such as books in various local languages and reading clubs in vulnerable communities. (more)

US: Kids' fast food consumption on the decline
1 April 2015 - Between 2003 and 2010, the number of US kids eating fast food on any given day went down, and the calories from some types of fast foods have declined as well, according to a new study. (more)

Gardening: Help the planet (and look good too)
31 March 2015 - From the biggest botanical gardens to the smallest backyard plots and terraces, there's a movement underway to make gardens work harder for the environment. For many people who aren't sure what they can do about climate change, home gardens provide an opportunity to make a palpable difference. A few specific ways that home gardeners can go easy on the planet: (more)

German business confidence posts 5th straight increase
31 March 2015 - A closely watched survey is showing a bigger-than-expected increase in German business confidence as managers in Europe's biggest economy take a brighter view of its outlook for the next six months. (more)

Signed contracts to buy US homes climb to 20-month high
31 March 2015 - More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in February, evidence that the spring buying season could open strong after sluggish sales for much of the winter. The upturn suggests a solid spring sales rebound, after a lackluster winter. But unlike last year when sales fell, the spring buying season opens after more than a year of robust hiring that has pulled the unemployment rate down to 5.5 percent, the lowest level in nearly seven years. (more)

South African children's reading project wins Lindgren Prize
31 March 2015 - The South African alternative education project PRAESA has been awarded this year's Astrid Lindgren Prize for children's literature for innovative ways of encouraging reading and literature among children and youth. The annual award, worth 5 million Swedish kronor ($580,000), is named after Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, creator of the Pippi Longstocking book series. (more)

UK economy grew more sharply in 2014 than previously thought
31 March 2015 - Britain's national statistics agency says the economy grew faster than previously thought last year. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the country's gross domestic product expanded 2.8 percent. The figures confirm that Britain's economy is one of the fastest-growing among developed nations. (more)

UK: Georgian architecture, hot springs among gems in Bath
31 March 2015 - Yes, there really is a natural hot spring beneath the city of Bath, but soaking in the above-ground sights and sounds will leave you plenty relaxed. With its Georgian brick buildings and lush green hills, almost everywhere in Bath feels like a living postcard. Bath somehow weaves together threads of small-town life with cosmopolitan sophistication. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Even on a mere day trip from London, just 90 minutes away by train, Bath bubbles over with charm. (more)

US consumer confidence rises in March
31 March 2015 - An improving job market drove U.S. consumer confidence higher this month after a dip in February, a promising sign for the economy as it heads into spring. The Conference Board's consumer confidence index rose to 101.3 in March. Confidence has risen to the highest levels since before the Great Recession started in December 2007. A year ago, the index stood at 83.9. Over the past year, employers have added nearly 3.3 million jobs, the fastest 12-month pace of hiring since 1998. Consumers are certainly acting more confident: Their spending rose at a 4.4 percent annual rate from October through December, the fastest pace in eight years. (more)

US economic growth may be mild, but it's also really durable
31 March 2015 - The U.S. economy's tepid performance last quarter -- a 2.2 percent annual growth rate -- was typical of the economic rebound that began in the summer of 2009. Yet the sluggish pace of the recovery has a silver lining: This growth spurt has proved to be one of the most durable since World War II. (more)

US: Golfers Mickelson, Lewis in campaign to highlight women executives
31 March 2015 - Professional golfer sStacy Lewis and Phil Mickelson, who have endorsement deals with the accounting firm KPMG, are taking part in a media campaign aimed at the advancement and empowerment of female executives. The campaign began Tuesday and will run through the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in June, which will feature a women's leadership conference with executives from business, sports, entertainment, and politics. (more)

Zimbabwe capital turns to solar streetlights to cut costs, crime: TRFN
30 March 2015 - Harare City Council is installing solar-powered street lights that will illuminate the central business district at night, with plans to extend the project to other parts of Zimbabwe's capital city. The country is increasingly turning to the sun for its energy requirements, with the government hoping to build billion-dollar solar plants countrywide if it can find needed investment. (more)

Business forecasters boost 2-year outlook for US economy
30 March 2015 - A business economics group has boosted its outlook for U.S. economic improvement this year and next, particularly for job growth. The March report from the National Association for Business Economics forecasts more hiring, a lower unemployment rate, a lower inflation rate, and more growth in consumer spending in 2015, compared to the group's forecast in December 2014. (more)

Canada's New Brunswick province bans fracking, plans study
30 March 2015 - Lawmakers in New Brunswick voted on Thursday to prohibit fracking in the eastern Canadian province, committing to study the controversial method of extracting oil and gas for one year before reconsidering the ban in 2016. The province is the latest of several in eastern Canada, including Quebec, Labrador and Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, to stop companies from fracking while they study its impact. Local environmental and indigenous groups worry hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a method that involves pumping water, sand, and chemicals deep into a well to extract oil or gas, could contaminate local water supplies. (more)

Indigenous leaders get down to business - World forum coming to Saskatoon in 2016
30 March 2015 - The 2016 World Indigenous Business Forum (WIBF) in Saskatoon will be a platform to showcase the city and what it has to offer, as well as offer local indigenous groups the opportunity to connect with groups from around the world, say organizers of the event. More than 1,200 delegates from across the globe are expected to attend the WIBF in the summer of 2016. The forum brings together indigenous business leaders to help foster relationships, increase international trade, and encourage aboriginal participation in business and economic development. (more)

Who's visiting Canada now?
30 March 2015 - China's tourism numbers around the world are growing. Here at home (Canada), both Vancouver and Toronto welcomed more visitors from China last year than any country besides the United States. China is now Canada's third-largest market overall, reports the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), after the UK and France. And it is expected to become the second largest by 2016. The most common activities among Chinese travellers in Canada are shopping, sightseeing, and visiting friends or relatives, according to the CTC. Visits to zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens surged 59.9 per cent in 2012. (more)

Mood of the world was upbeat on International Happiness Day
26 March 2015 - The world marked the third annual International Day of Happiness on 20 March. Ahead of the International Day, a Gallup poll found the happiest people on the planet might be Latin Americans. People in Latin America are the most likely in the world to experience a lot of positive emotions on a daily basis, according to Gallup's Positive Experience Index. In fact, for the first time in Gallup's 10-year history of global tracking, all of the top 10 countries with the highest Positive Experience Index scores are in Latin America. (more)

Colombian tribe scores 'historic' victory versus Big Gas
26 March 2015 - The indigenous U'wa people living in north-east Colombia have won what observers call an 'historic' and 'decisive' victory after state oil and gas company Ecopetrol dismantled a gas drilling site in their territories. 'It's a triumph,' Asou'wa vice-president Heber Tegria Uncaria told the Guardian. 'It's one more battle we've won over the last 20 to 30 years, and it's thanks to the U'wa people themselves, national and international support, and the role of the media in drawing people's attention to what is happening.' (more)

Lower US jobless claims suggest solidly improving labour market
26 March 2015 - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to a healthy and expanding labour market. The sustained jobs market strength underscores the economy's solid fundamentals and suggests a recent slowdown in economic activity will be temporary. (more)

Britain's greenhouse gas emissions down 8.4 per cent in 2014
26 March 2015 - Britain's greenhouse gas emissions fell 8.4 per cent in 2014 due to a decline in fossil-fuel power generation, preliminary government data showed on Thursday. The fall largely resulted from a 15 per cent decrease in emissions from the energy supply sector as coal-fired generation fell and output from renewable power sources rose. (more)

German real wages post record 1.7 percent increase in 2014
26 March 2015 - German real wages posted their largest increase in 2014 since the data was first collected in 2008, Germany's statistics office said on Thursday, in the latest positive sign for private consumption in Europe's largest economy. (more)

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