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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)

US First Lady plans mid-March visit to Japan, Cambodia
3 March 2015 - Michelle Obama will promote educating girls around the world during a mid-March visit to U.S. ally Japan, and to Cambodia, a place where the government's record on human rights gave her husband pause during a reluctant visit a few years ago. 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 Tuesday. (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)

Britain's Prince William visits tsunami-hit areas ending Japan tour - Reuters video
1 March 2015 - Prince William rang the 'bell of hope' in Onagawa on Sunday (March 1) in the last leg of his Japan visit as he paid his respects to those lost in 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Later, Prince William was met by lion dancers accompanied by a traditional band in the town of Onagawa. The Prince then visited the Bell of Hope shopping centre. The name of the shopping mall comes from the last remaining bell that was found in the rubble after the tsunami swept through and destroyed three out of the four bells that were originally in front of the town's train station. William used a hammer to ring the bell three times as a symbol of hope and recovery for the area. To watch video see: (more)

Healthy diet linked to lung health
1 March 2015 - Among its many rewards, eating a healthy diet might help protect against the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, according to a new study. Researchers calculated that those who ate a diet highest in whole grains, vegetables, and nuts, and lowest in red meats and sugars were up to a third less likely to develop COPD -- even if they smoked -- than those who ate the worst diet. (more)

Japan welcomes British Royalty - Reuters video
1 March 2015 - Prince William revealed on Friday (February 27) that he used to want to be an astronaut when he was a child. He made the comment during a function to promote British industry in Tokyo, where he was joined on stage by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer. Also on Friday he met Japanese celebrities as part of reception hosted at the British embassy in Tokyo. He met blind composer and pianist Nobuyuki Tsuji. He also met Japan's rugby team which is looking to participate in the upcoming World Rugby Cup and got presented with a rugby shirt for him and his son Prince George. He was not accompanied by his wife, Kate, who is due to give birth to the couple's second child in April. After his trip to Japan, Prince William is scheduled to travel to China. (more)

The 10 American cities most obsessed with eating organic food
1 March 2015 - A new study commissioned by Campbell Soup Company and Sperling's Best Places analyzed the most organic-eating cities in America, narrowing the list down to a top 10. As it turns out, eating organic food is growing as a priority nationwide. A 2014 Gallup study reported 45 per cent of Americans actively seek out organic foods. According to Campbell Soup Company and Sperling's Best Places study, these are the 10 most organic cities in America: (more)

UK's Prince William meets with staff and children at Fukushima school - Reuters video
1 March 2015 - Britain's Prince William met staff and pupils at a play school in Fukushima on Saturday during his official visit to Japan. Accompanied by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the 32-year-old Prince got into a ball pit to play with some of the children and demonstrate his juggling skills, which were met with applause and laughter. To watch video see: (more)

5 reasons US economy is stronger than Q4 GDP suggests
27 February 2015 - The US economy grew at a modest annual rate of 2.2 per cent in the fourth quarter, less than half the third quarter's torrid 5 per cent rate and weaker than the government first reported. While the sharp slowdown seems troubling on the surface, economists say it's actually nothing to worry about. They remain optimistic that the country is finally emerging from years of sub-par activity and is on course this year for the strongest growth in a decade. Here are five reasons why Friday's gross domestic product report showed that the economy is doing just fine: (more)

European shares hold at seven-year highs as QE nears
27 February 2015 - European shares held steady at seven-year highs on Friday as investor confidence stayed buoyant ahead of the European Central Bank's monthly 60-billion-euro money-printing programme set to start in March. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares has surged 14 per cent this year, its strongest start to the year since regional stock market benchmarks were created in 1986. (more)

UK consumer confidence holds at high level in February - GfK
27 February 2015 - British consumer confidence held steady at a high level this month as low inflation and rising wages made Britons more confident about their finances, according to a poll published on Friday. The survey's measure of confidence about personal finances in the next 12 months rose to its highest level since May 2014. GfK's survey followed a poll from YouGov published on Thursday, which also pointed to rising confidence about personal finance (more)

US: Signed contracts to buy US homes rise to 18-month high
27 February 2015 - The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes rose at a healthy pace in January, a sign that home sales are poised to accelerate after a slow start to the year. The National Association of Realtors pending home sales index is now 8.4 per cent above its level one year ago and is at the highest level since August 2013. Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. Mortgage rates remain near historic lows. Healthy hiring should encourage more Americans to start looking at homes. There are 3.2 million more Americans earning paychecks than there were 12 months ago. And younger Americans are finally seeing strong job gains, which could push up the number of first-time homebuyers, a critical ingredient in any housing recovery. (more)

Varsity told to take up Indus studies
27 February 2015 - Noted epigraphist and Dravidologist Iravatham Mahadevan has suggested that Dravidian University take up inter-disciplinary studies on Indus valley civilization. He also referred to the recent breakthrough in the interpretation of the Indus script, which partially confirmed it was an early form of Dravidian scripts. He pointed out that his painstaking research, spanning a period of five decades, had indicated that the Indus script stood for 'unity in diversity'. (more)

German consumers most confident since dot-com boom
26 February 2015 - Consumer confidence in Germany has hit its highest level in 13 years, leading an increase across Europe, as low energy costs and interest rates helped offset any concerns about the crises in Ukraine and Greece. The findings were echoed by a report on the wider eurozone, which saw confidence among both consumers and businesses increase to a seven-month high in February. (more)

New Yorkers return stolen church paintings to Bolivia
26 February 2015 - The discovery that two paintings held by a New York couple had been stolen from a Bolivian church in 2002 has ignited a search for 10 other colonial-era paintings that were taken in the theft, one the largest such crimes in the country's history. Richard and Roberta Huber contacted Bolivian officials after learning from a New York museum that the two large works had been reported stolen. The Hubers had purchased the paintings legally from an art gallery in Sao Paulo and restored them. (more)

UK consumers more confident as pay grows, inflation falls - survey
26 February 2015 - British consumers have turned more upbeat as faster pay growth and very low inflation make them more confident about their finances, a poll showed on Thursday. Economic optimism rebounded strongly in February and stood at its highest level since September, according to the Household Economic Activity Tracker compiled by polling firm YouGov. (more)

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