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EU, Turkey seek better relations at emergency refugee summit
29 November 2015 - European Union leaders and the Turkish Prime Minister sealed a joint summit with a commitment to re-energize Turkey's long-stalled membership talks and bolster their common resolve to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis. On Sunday, it was hugs all around as European Council President Donald Tusk and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu completed what they called a breakthrough summit to put relations on an even keel again. (more)

After uproar, German town warms to refugees who took over church
28 November 2015 - When Daniela Handwerk looked out of her window earlier this month and saw the church across the street being emptied out and turned into a refugee shelter, she panicked -- and she was not alone. As news of the plan to house 50 refugees in the church and suspend Sunday services spread through this community on the outskirts of Oberhausen, in the Ruhr valley, angry residents pressed church and city officials to reconsider. But nearly a month on, the uproar, played up at the start in the German media, has died down and residents are beginning to warm to the refugees, including 20 children, who are camped out in the ochre-colored brick church built in the early 20th century. Now Daniela Handwerk is part of a local support group that counts roughly 100 volunteers. They teach German, assist with bureaucratic hurdles, and play with the refugee children. (more)

North, South Korea plan further talks to improve ties after standoff
28 November 2015 - North and South Korea agreed to hold talks at the vice-minister level next month, after a meeting on Thursday aimed at further easing tensions following the end to an armed standoff in August. Officials agreed to vice-minister-level talks on 11 December at the industrial park in the North Korean city of Kaesong just a few kilometers on the northern side of the border run jointly by the two Koreas, a joint press statement said. (more)

More optimism among middle class buoys US consumer sentiment
28 November 2015 - Americans were more optimistic about their incomes and personal finances this month, particularly among lower and middle-class households, lifting consumers' outlook. Among lower and middle-income households, 38 percent expect their personal finances to improve in the coming year. Job growth has been healthy and there are signs wages have begun to pick up. (more)

Pope heads to Central African Republic with peace message
28 November 2015 - Pope Francis travels Sunday to Central African Republic, making the final stop of his first trip to Africa in a country where violence between Christian and Muslim militants has forced nearly 1 million from their homes over the last two years and created a divided capital. Many hope that the Pope's message of peace and reconciliation can usher in a longer-term stability in a nation of 4.8 million. The Muslim community in the capital's Muslim enclave, known as PK5, was eager to welcome Pope Francis, head of the U.N. operation Parfait Onanga-Anyanga said. Earlier this week, workers were busily repainting the cream-colored mosque he is due to visit a vibrant mint green. (more)

UN official: Further progress made in Cyprus peace talks
28 November 2015 - Talks aimed at reunifying ethnically divided Cyprus have made further progress and the island's rival leaders are confident remaining issues can be resolved soon, a U.N. envoy said Wednesday, 25 November. Envoy Espen Barthe Eide said Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot President of the island's internationally recognized government, and the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots, Mustafa Akinci, remain committed to reaching a peace accord 'as soon as possible.' (more)

Canada to give UN $75 million for Syrian refugee relief
27 November 2015 - Canada's Liberal government announced on Thursday a US$75 million (CA$100 million) contribution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help fleeing Syrians, fulfilling a campaign promise from its recent federal election. The government also announced it is honoring a commitment made by the previous Conservative government to match donations by Canadians to the international relief efforts. (more)

Japan announces $10.6 billion in climate financing for 2020
27 November 2015 - Gearing up for global warming talks in Paris next week, Japan said Thursday it plans to provide 1.3 trillion yen ($10.6 billion) in climate financing a year for developing countries from 2020, including public and private funds. (more)

US President Obama makes holiday appeal for acceptance of Syrian refugees
27 November 2015 - President Barack Obama appealed anew on Thanksgiving Day for acceptance of Syrian refugees, saying 'so much of our greatness comes from our generosity.' He said he has been 'touched by the generosity of Americans who've written me letters and emails in recent weeks, offering to open their homes to refugees fleeing the brutality of ISIL (Islamic State group).' The President said, 'Now, people should remember that no refugee can enter our borders until they undergo the highest security checks of anyone traveling to the United States. That was the case before Paris, and it's the case now. And what happened in Paris hasn't stopped Americans from opening their arms anyway.' (more)

Americans enjoy Thanksgiving Day Parades (+AP video)
26 November 2015 - Americans paused Thursday to celebrate their blessings. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, in its 89th year, included marching bands and floats. St. Louis (Missouri) resumed its annual parade, and in Detroit tens of thousands of spectators lined Woodward Avenue for America's Thanksgiving Parade. (more)

2 Koreas agree to hold high-level talks next month
26 November 2015 - North and South Korea have agreed to hold high-level talks next month to discuss ways to improve ties, Seoul officials said Friday, a sign that the rivals are following through with promised reconciliation efforts after a military standoff in August. (more)

US: Thanksgiving parade draws 1 million to downtown Detroit
26 November 2015 - Hundreds of thousands of people descended on downtown Detroit on Thursday for the city's cherished Thanksgiving traditions. More than 1 million people gathered along Woodward Avenue to watch 'America's Thanksgiving Day Parade', making it possibly the largest ever in its 89 years. (more)

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)

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)

Euro zone business growth at four-year high
23 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
23 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)

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)

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)

Pigeons, the next great cancer detector?
20 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)

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)

Canada students plant 800-year-old ancient, extinct squash seeds from Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin
19 November 2015 - An archaeological dig on the First Nation's Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin (United States) yielded some unexpected results when a clay vessel about the size of a tennis ball was uncovered. After carbon dating, it was revealed that the pot was over 800 years old and contained a variety of seeds from a species of squash believed to be extinct. A group of Canadian students decided to test the viability of these ancient heirloom seeds that had been buried for centuries. The result? An ancient, extinct squash was grown! (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)

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