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Swiss folklore fans gather for world's biggest alpine horn festival
22 July 2018 - The soft sounds of hundreds of wooden Swiss alpine horns filled the valley below Switzerland's Mount Tracouet on Sunday (22 July), as the world's largest festival of its kind concluded after three days. Over three meters long and built in several connecting pieces to make transport manageable, they are beloved by many Swiss ... While the horns have been used by mountain dwellers in Switzerland, Germany, France, and elsewhere, they are commonly associated with the traditional Swiss agrarian culture that dominates the country's Alpine hinterlands. (more)

Why ancient farming practices have resurged in a storied part of Mexico City
22 July 2018 - Xochimilco is a network of ancient, man-made canals and floating islands in southern Mexico City -- an area that was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. Today it's known for its crowds of tourists and brightly painted party boats. But Lucio Usobiaga is focused on something else here: ancient farming practices. 'Farming organically is the best way to preserve the chinampas,' he says of the islands. Mr. Usobiaga co-founded a nongovernmental organization, Yolcan, in 2011 to preserve and spread this kind of farming in Xochimilco. (more)

Ethiopian migrant brings the Italian hills alive with the sound of goats
22 July 2018 - Agitu Idea Gudeta has built up a thriving business in her adopted Italy making goat's cheese and beauty products in just a few years since fleeing her native Ethiopia in 2010 over a land dispute. Her experience is a shining example of what migrants can achieve, given half a chance. (more)

Helping refugees proves labour of love in Germany
21 July 2018 - In the light-flooded reception of a community centre in east Berlin, Syrians -- whose first language is Arabic -- practised German, their conversation occasionally punctuated by laughter as they stumbled over a word or mixed up languages. With an influx of more than 1.6 million asylum seekers into Germany since 2014, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, integration is a hot political issue for Chancellor Angela Merkel ... Hundreds of people have created organizations to help newcomers settle in and build ties, with efforts ranging from sports clubs and music groups that include migrants to recruitment agencies specializing in finding refugees work. (more)

Banks get tools to spot human traffickers moving illicit profits
21 July 2018 - A set of sophisticated tools will help financial institutions uncover profits from human trafficking -- estimated at $150 billion per year -- that are moving through their systems, an anti-trafficking coalition said on Thursday (19 July). Tools to detect suspicious transactions will allow companies to more easily spot traffickers using their banking or money-moving services to handle profits, said organizers of United States Banks Alliance. The United States Banks Alliance, which launched the initiative, was put together by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. (more)

Migrants in Lebanon seek to break stereotypes with new radio show
21 July 2018 - ... Lebanon's first radio show to be hosted and produced by migrants from countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Philippines ... [aims] to give Lebanese people a greater understanding about where migrants come from to create the tolerance and respect that local migrant rights groups say is lacking. ... a series airing on Voice of Lebanon, a popular independent radio station, [features] migrants talking about their own food and culture as well as the issues they face in Lebanon. The show -- whose name 'Msh gharib' means 'not foreign' in Arabic -- has been in the works since 2017. (more)

U.N. pact offers hope to world's climate migrants
21 July 2018 - Be it by flood, drought, or hurricane, communities at risk of climate displacement have won vital protection after their plight was for the first time recognized in a global pact on migration, campaigners say. The United Nations agreed last Friday to draw up the migration compact to cope with the millions of migrants moving from country to country. Now campaigners want nations to follow up the new recognition with concrete action. (more)

More U.S. teens saying 'no' to smoking and drinking
20 July 2018 - High school students in the U.S. are a lot more sober than they used to be, a new study suggests. The proportion of high school students in their final year who have never tried alcohol or drugs increased fivefold from 1975 to 2014, and surged nearly as much for younger students between 1991 and 2014, the study found. (more)

Turkey, Netherlands agree to normalize ties
20 July 2018 - Turkey and the Netherlands have agreed to normalize ties, Turkey's foreign ministry said on Friday (20 July), restoring relations that have been strained since a 2017 diplomatic row. (more)

Turkey, Netherlands to reappoint ambassadors in couple of months: Cavusoglu
20 July 2018 - Turkey and the Netherlands will reappoint ambassadors in the next couple of months, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday (20 July), after the NATO allies agreed to normalize ties following more than a year of diplomatic tensions. (more)

Kazakhstan goes organic in bid to build niche in grains market
19 July 2018 - Kazakhstan is tapping growing consumer demand for organic crops to help it better compete in the food-export market. The country wants to use much of its vast uncultivated lands to grow soybeans and other non-genetically modified crops for markets such as China and the European Union, Agriculture Vice Minister Gulmira Isaeva said. By offering non-GMO and pesticide-free produce, it hopes to carve out a niche in a crops market dominated by giants such as Russia, Australia, or the U.S. (more)

Facebook goes solar to power Oregon data centers
18 July 2018 - Facebook and Pacific Power said Wednesday (18 July) they are teaming up to construct solar projects that will produce enough power to offset what the social media giant consumes at its data centers in Prineville, Oregon. The solar projects -- two near Prineville and four in Utah -- will generate 437 megawatts of power when completed by the end of 2020. (more)

Solar power is providing new economic opportunities for East Africans
18 July 2018 - A new report has highlighted the new economic benefits to households in East Africa from off-grid solar power. The report was released this week by GOGLA, the non-profit trade body for off-grid solar power. The researchers collated data from 2,300 solar owners in Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda to work out the impact of new renewable installation on their livelihood. Nearly 60 percent of respondents reported an increase of economic activity within the first three months of using a home solar system. (more)

US: Homegirl Cafe offers 'platos' by ex-gang members with hope
17 July 2018 - Here, in the City of Angels [Los Angeles], Homegirl Cafe offers a unique dining experience with food prepared by former gang members gaining new skills. It's a haven for them, to be sure. But the popular cafe in the city's Chinatown is a special place for visitors, too, providing carefully crafted meals along with inspiration from ex- inmates who willingly tell stories about how they are seeking a better life. The hip cafe is an offshoot of the Homeboy Industries social enterprises founded by Jesuit priest Greg Boyle. (more)

US: North Carolina ranks near top nationally in solar power
17 July 2018 - North Carolina joined California, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas in seeing the greatest total increases in solar energy generation from 2008 to 2017, according to a report released Tuesday (17 July) by Environment North Carolina Policy and Research Center. North Carolina ranks 3rd in solar energy growth. 'We've seen an 87,670 percent increase over the last decade in the amount of electricity we get from the sun,' said Drew Ball, director of Environment North Carolina Policy and Research Center. (more)

India: Government to showcase Sikkim's success in organic farming
13 July 2018 - In a move aimed at giving a push to organic farming across the country, the Agriculture Ministry has decided to showcase the performance of Sikkim in organic farming as the model for its Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY). As per officials, the initiative would help in encouraging farmers to adopt organic farming. ... Sikkim, a small state in the northeastern region that borders China, has achieved the tag of organic state under the visionary leadership of Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who had taken the decision to bring the state's entire agriculture land under organic farming in 2010 and the state was declared an organic state in 2016. (more)

South Africa's MeerKAT to help unlock mysteries of universe
13 July 2018 - A scientific mega-project to unlock cosmic conundrums from dark energy to detecting extraterrestrial life was given a boost on Friday (13 July), when the 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope was inaugurated in the remote South African town of Carnarvon. ... MeerKAT will be incorporated into the complex Square Kilometre Array (SKA) instrument, which when fully operational in the late 2020s would be the world's biggest and most powerful radio telescope. (more)

Survey: Half of young people want electric cars
12 July 2018 - Half of young people in the UK would like to own an electric car -- compared with just a quarter of their parents, a survey suggests. The research comes from motoring group the AA ... It comes as the government has announced a target for 50 percent of all new vehicle sales to be in the ultra-low emissions category by 2030. (more)

Source of cosmic 'ghost' particle revealed
12 July 2018 - Ghost-like particles known as neutrinos have been puzzling scientists for decades. Part of the family of fundamental particles that make up all known matter, neutrinos hurtle unimpeded through the Universe, interacting with almost nothing. The majority shoot right through the Earth as though it isn't even there, making them exceptionally difficult to detect and study. Despite this, researchers have worked out that many are created by the Sun and even in our own atmosphere. But the source of one high energy group, known as cosmic neutrinos, has remained particularly elusive. (more)

Antarctic IceCube observatory tracks a single neutrino to solve cosmic ray puzzle (+video)
12 July 2018 - An array of detectors buried under a half-mile-wide stretch of Antarctic ice has traced the path of a single neutrino back to a supermassive black hole in a faraway galaxy, shedding light on a century-old cosmic ray mystery in the process. .... Neutrinos are different: They don't carry an electrical charge, have virtually no mass, and interact so weakly with other types of matter that they typically pass right through anything that gets in their way -- including stars and planets. That means they travel in a straight line from their source. (more)

Could gravitational waves reveal how fast our universe is expanding?
12 July 2018 - An new study finds black holes and neutron stars are key to measuring our expanding universe. Since it first exploded into existence 13.8 billion years ago, the universe has been expanding, dragging along with it hundreds of billions of galaxies and stars, much like raisins in a rapidly rising dough. Astronomers have pointed telescopes to certain stars and other cosmic sources to measure their distance from Earth and how fast they are moving away from us -- two parameters that are essential to estimating the Hubble constant, a unit of measurement that describes the rate at which the universe is expanding. But to date, the most precise efforts have landed on very different values of the Hubble constant, offering no definitive resolution to exactly how fast the universe is growing. (more)

Ghostly particles give scientists new understanding of universe
12 July 2018 - A breakthrough in the study of ghostly particles called high-energy neutrinos that traverse space, zipping unimpeded through people, planets, and whole galaxies, is giving scientists an audacious new way to expand our understanding of the cosmos. Researchers on Thursday (12 July) said they have for the first time located a deep-space source for these ubiquitous subatomic particles. They detected high-energy neutrinos in pristine ice deep below Antarctica's surface, then traced their source back to a giant elliptical galaxy with a massive, rapidly spinning black hole at its core, called a blazar, located 3.7 billion light years from Earth in the Orion constellation. (more)

Here's why today's announcement of neutrino discovery is a big deal
12 July 2018 - Scientists have spotted a high-energy, incredibly tiny 'ghost' particle called a neutrino flying through Antarctic ice and traced its origins back to a specific blazar, they announced today, July 12. ... A neutrino is a subatomic particle just as tiny as an electron, but without any charge. Scientists know neutrinos have a tiny bit of mass, but they can't pin down exactly how little. The result is that neutrinos tend to give other matter the cold shoulder: They don't interact with their surroundings very often, which makes them difficult for scientists to spot. (more)

In a cosmic first, scientists detect 'ghost particles' from a distant galaxy
12 July 2018 - When the sun was young and faint and the Earth was barely formed, a gigantic black hole in a distant, brilliant galaxy spat out a powerful jet of radiation. That jet contained neutrinos -- subatomic particles so tiny and difficult to detect they are nicknamed 'ghost particles.' Four billion years later, at Earth's South Pole, 5,160 sensors buried more than a mile beneath the ice detected a single ghostly neutrino as it interacted with an atom. Scientists then traced the particle back to the galaxy that created it. (more)

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