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Hong Kong tycoon pledges $128 million to charity as index passes milestone
24 November 2017 - The billionaire chairman of Hong Kong developer Henderson Land said he will donate HK$1 billion ($128 million) to charity after the city's benchmark index surpassed the 30,000-point level, keeping a pledge he made seven years ago. Lee Shau-kee, nicknamed 'Hong Kong's Warren Buffett', promised in his autobiography in 2010 that he would donate HK$1 billion when the Hang Seng Index surpassed 30,000 points -- a level last scaled in November 2007 -- and would continue to donate that sum each year the index stayed above that level. (more)

French, Polish leaders start to mend strained ties
23 November 2017 - French President Emmanuel Macron and Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo took a first, key step Thursday (23 November) toward mending differences that are weighing on the whole European Union. After talks in Paris, the two leaders remained at odds over their main dispute -- workers from Eastern Europe posted by their employer in richer EU countries -- but said they were looking for compromise. (more)

Jobs growth in eurozone at 'highest since dotcom era'
23 November 2017 - Jobs are being created across the 19-country eurozone at a pace not seen since the turn of the millennium thanks to stronger economic growth, particularly in a resurgent France, according to a closely watched survey Thursday (23 November). France, the eurozone's second-largest economy, was one standout. Its index rose above 60 for the first time since 2011 and hiring has picked up pace. (more)

US: Woman raises more than $60K for homeless man gave his last $20 to rescue her
23 November 2017 - A New Jersey woman who was helped by a homeless man after she ran out of gas on an interstate in Philadelphia has raised more than $60,000 for the good Samaritan. Kate McClure, 27, started the Gofundme.com campaign earlier this month after she said she ran out of gas on Interstate 95 and a homeless man, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., walked a few blocks and bought her some with his last $20. (more)

Donors pledge $2 billion to help hurricane-hit Caribbean recover
22 November 2017 - With thousands left homeless by hurricanes in Caribbean island farming and fishing communities, international donors have pledged more than $2 billion to support rebuilding efforts. Hurricane Irma, packing winds of 185 miles (298 km) an hour, ravaged a series of small islands in the northeast Caribbean in early September, followed by Hurricane Maria. Tourism-reliant Dominica and the two-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda were hardest hit, and require billions of dollars in long-term aid to recover, experts said. (more)

US: A homeless man spent his last $20 to keep her safe. She's raised $34,000 to repay him
22 November 2017 - Kate McClure didn't expect to run out of gas on her drive to Philadelphia last month. And she definitely didn't expect that her misfortune would give her the opportunity to change someone else's life. Pulled over on the side of I-95, McClure, 27, was approached by a homeless man named Johnny. She was apprehensive at first, but Johnny told her to get back into her car and to lock the doors while he walked to get her help. He went to a nearby gas station, used his last $20 fill a can and brought it back to fill up her car. Johnny, who's 34, told McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, he has been homeless for about a year. He said he was previously a certified paramedic, and also served in the Marine Corps. (more)

US: Thanksgiving tribe reclaims language lost to colonization
21 November 2017 - The Massachusetts tribe whose ancestors shared a Thanksgiving meal with the Pilgrims nearly 400 years ago is reclaiming its long-lost language, one schoolchild at a time. The Mukayuhsak Weekuw -- or 'Children's House' -- is an immersion school launched by the Cape Cod-based Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, whose ancestors hosted a harvest celebration with the Pilgrims in 1621 that helped form the basis for [America's] Thanksgiving tradition. ... Jessie 'Little Doe' Baird, the tribe's vice chairwoman, is almost singularly responsible for the rebirth of the language ... (more)

Pioneering climate fund for developing world gets a boost at U.N. talks
20 November 2017 - From protecting coastal slum dwellers on Pacific islands against floods to helping poor farmers keep up harvests battered by drought in Africa, a global fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change received a vote of confidence at the latest round of U.N. climate talks. At the end of the two-week meeting in Bonn ... governments agreed the Adaptation Fund will become one of the formal tools to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord -- a decision needed to ensure the fund's continuing existence. The Adaptation Fund began operating a decade ago under the Kyoto Protocol, the world's earlier treaty to tackle global warming . . . Adaptation experts say the fund has proven its worth to climate-hit communities over its 10-year existence ... (more)

Babies learn what words mean before they can use them
20 November 2017 - Babies begin to learn words and what they mean well before they begin talking, and researchers are beginning to understand how they do it. 'I think it's especially intriguing that we find evidence that for infants, even their early words aren't 'islands': even with a very small vocabulary they seem to have a sense that some words and concepts are more 'similar' than others,' Dr. Elika Bergelson from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina told Reuters Health by email. 'While they still have a lot to learn before they show adult-like or even toddler-like levels of comprehension, this gives us a peek into how those early words and concepts are organized.' (more)

Croatia eyes solar power in bid to curb energy imports
17 November 2017 - Thanks to its exposure to the Mediterranean sun and the pristine Adriatic Sea, Croatia secures almost 20 percent of its gross domestic product from tourism -- but in stark contrast, it has practically neglected electricity production from solar power. The government is drafting a new strategy aimed at reducing energy imports which is likely to be completed next year. 'I set myself a target to promote solar power in that context as much as possible,' an official involved in the work ... told Reuters. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, Croatia ... could develop 3,200 megawatts (MW) of solar power by 2030... (more)

US: Yale, Mohegans agree on transfer of artifacts
17 November 2017 - Yale University and Mohegan tribal officials signed an agreement Friday (17 November) that calls for Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History to transfer hundreds of Mohegan artifacts to the tribe's Tantaquidgeon Museum in Uncasville. The signing, which took place on the Yale campus, finalized a pact between two Connecticut institutions whose relationship dates back centuries. Links between Yale and the Mohegans are well established. During the 1700s, Yale President Ezra Stiles studied Mohegan language and spirituality. (more)

Twenty countries join global alliance to phase out coal by 2030
16 November 2017 - Twenty countries and two U.S. states have joined an international alliance to phase out coal from power generation before 2030, environment ministers said on Thursday (16 November). Coal is responsible for more than 40 per cent of global emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. (more)

US: Rural schools unite to make college the rule, rather than the exception
16 November 2017 - Cooperation among sparsely populated districts in Ohio fuels a successful -- and necessary -- push for college in a place where manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Turning around struggling high schools is the toughest work in education reform. Research found that a $3.5 billion federal program meant to fix the nation's lowest performing schools - which focused disproportionately on high schools - did little to improve student achievement. In this three-part series, The Hechinger Report is visiting high schools that have beaten the long odds to learn what's behind their success in improving graduation rates and sending more students to college. (more)

Pakistan unveils 1,700-year-old sleeping Buddha, evoking diverse heritage
15 November 2017 - Pakistan unveiled the remains of a 1,700-year-old sleeping Buddha image on Wednesday (15 November), part of an initiative to encourage tourism and project religious harmony in a region roiled by Islamist militancy. A reflection of the diverse history and culture of the South Asian country, the ancient Buddhist site in Bhamala province was first discovered in 1929. (more)

US: Untapped economic opportunity in organic farming
15 November 2017 - Organic farming in Iowa is on the rise, and proving to be an important economic opportunity for small to mid-size farmers. This growing industry is significant for our state because it gives farmers an important and often untapped avenue to continue farming and make money. In a tough farm economy, strong and viable economic opportunities such as this are a valuable option for farms. Demand for organic products is growing at such a high rate that consumer need is exceeding domestic supplies. The U.S. is now spending more than $1 billion a year to import organic products. This rise in demand gives Iowa farmers a good opportunity to jump in on the higher price premiums -- up to three times as much as conventional products. (more)

US: Wisconsin businessman creates fund for solar energy
15 November 2017 - A Wisconsin businessman has created a fund that awards grants to nonprofits trying to move toward solar energy. Cal Couillard created Solar for Good, which awards the grants with the help of the advocacy group RENEW Wisconsin, Milwaukee Public Radio reported. (more)

Elgin Energy seeks permission to build 25 MW solar farm in Kilkenny, Ireland
14 November 2017 - British renewable energy developer Elgin Energy is looking to build a 100-acre solar PV farm in Kilkenny, Ireland. If permission is granted, the Kilkenny array will be able to power 6,500 homes in the region, and has the potential to provide enough power meet 25 per cent of the yearly power requirements for a factory near Glanbia. (more)

Germany, Britain inject $153 million in Amazon climate change fight
14 November 2017 - Germany and Britain will provide a combined $153 million to expand programs to fight climate change and deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, according to a statement from the Brazilian government on Tuesday (14 November). For the first time, the program will grow to include the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil's top producer of soy beans, where the rapid expansion of soy and beef farms have made it a hotspot for deforestation. (more)

Syria formally joins Paris climate agreement: U.N.
14 November 2017 - Syria has formally jointed the 2015 Paris deal aimed at slowing climate change, the United Nations said on Tuesday, leaving the United States as the only country opposed to the pact. Syria, racked by civil war, and Nicaragua were the only two nations outside the 195-nation pact when it was agreed in 2015. Nicaragua's left-wing government, which originally denounced the plan as too weak, signed up last month. (more)

Jordan switches on world's largest solar plant in refugee camp
13 November 2017 - Jordan has switched on the world's largest solar plant inside a refugee camp, providing renewable energy to nearly 80,000 Syrians, the United Nations refugee agency said on Monday (13 November). The 12.9 megawatts solar plant at Zaatari refugee camp, on the border of Jordan and Syria, will allow families to run a fridge, TV, fans, and lights in their shelters, and recharge their phones to maintain contact with others abroad, UNHCR said. The 15 million euro ($17.50 million) project, funded by the German government ... (more)

Diverse group teams up to bring solar power to Caribbean
13 November 2017 - A charity founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson is teaming up with the Clinton Foundation and others to bring solar power to the storm-ravaged Caribbean. The venture is being called Solar Saves Lives. The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group, is also involved. (more)

Nepal: Farmers embrace organic farming in Makwanpur
13 November 2017 - Farmers of Makwanpur district are gradually getting attracted to organic vegetable farming, as demand for green produce is growing among the health conscious. Vegetables that are not laced with chemical fertilisers and pesticides are called green produce. Earlier, most of the vegetables in Makwanpur were grown using a lot of chemicals. (more)

US: Tribe holds State House gathering to mark 1st Thanksgiving
13 November 2017 - The Native American tribe whose ancestors hosted the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims four centuries ago is hosting a Thanksgiving reception at the Massachusetts Statehouse. The Mashpee Wampanoag say the Monday morning gathering at the Capitol building's Great Hall is meant to promote peace and unity for all Americans. (more)

Plans 100-acre solar energy farm in Kilkenny, Ireland
12 November 2017 - Elgin Energy is seeking permission for a major 100-acre solar photovoltaic (PV) farm in Kilkenny, adding to its Midlands-wide solar power play. The application is just the latest in a slew of proposals by developers for solar farms on sites right across the country over the past year, following a significant fall in the cost of solar PV technology. Elgin ... has applied to build the power installation at a 39.6-hectare site close to the village of Ballyragget. The proposed solar farm will provide 25mw of power to the national grid ... Elgin said that the proposed project in Ballyragget ... would eliminate 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifespan. (more)

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