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US: Rural schools unite to make college the rule, rather than the exception
21 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)

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)

October was strongest month for euro zone factories in almost seven years: PMI
20 November 2017 - Manufacturers in the euro zone had their strongest month since early 2011 in October as factories struggled to meet booming demand despite adding staff at the fastest rate in at least 20 years, a survey showed on Thursday (2 November). 'Euro zone factories started the fourth quarter with increased vigour, with the sector's growth spurt showing no sign of abating,' said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at survey compiler IHS Markit. (more)

Elgin Energy seeks permission to build 25 MW solar farm in Kilkenny, Ireland
19 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)

US: Yale, Mohegans agree on transfer of artifacts
19 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)

Croatia eyes solar power in bid to curb energy imports
18 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)

Plans 100-acre solar energy farm in Kilkenny, Ireland
18 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)

US: Untapped economic opportunity in organic farming
18 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)

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)

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: 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)

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)

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)

Water wizards: Dutch flood expertise is big export business
12 November 2017 - The Dutch government teamed up earlier this year with Japan and the U. N. Environment Program to create a Global Center of Excellence on Climate Adaptation in the Netherlands that will be formally launched Tuesday on the sidelines of the Bonn conference. Housing the water expertise center in the Netherlands was a no-brainer. ...The Dutch struggle to keep the country dry has been a constant fact of life for centuries. The Dutch government earmarks 1 billion euros ($1.16 billion) per year to keep up its defenses against high water. But while the costs are high, expertise and technology developed by the Dutch are becoming increasingly valuable commodities. (more)

South Korea, China agree to manage North Korea issue peacefully, in stable manner
11 November 2017 - The leaders of South Korea and China on Saturday (11 November) agreed on the need to manage the security situation on the Korean peninsula in a stable way and to resolve North Korea-related tensions peacefully after a summit meeting, the South's presidential office said. (more)

Saudi Arabia says remains committed to climate accord
11 November 2017 - Saudi Arabia remains committed to the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, the energy minister for the world's top oil exporter said on Saturday, 11 November. Khalid al-Falih's statement came as almost 200 countries started talks in Germany to bolster a global climate accord .... 'For our part, the kingdom will remain committed to maintaining our national contributions on taking climate actions that would also enable sustainable development in line with Saudi Vision 2030,' Falih said. (more)

Japanese Prime Minister Abe hails 'fresh start' to Japan-China ties after Xi meeting
11 November 2017 - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed a 'fresh start' to the relationship between the countries after a meeting that saw them agree to work more closely on North Korea. ...Ties between China and Japan, the world's second- and third-largest economies, have been plagued by a long-running territorial dispute over a cluster of East China Sea islets. (more)

UK 'will support' neonicotinoid pesticide ban
9 November 2017 - An extended ban on controversial neonicotinoid pesticides will be supported by the UK, Environment Secretary Michael Gove says. The UK has previously resisted tighter restrictions on the pesticides, saying there was insufficient evidence. Mr Gove says that's no longer the case. 'The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our [British Pound] 100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood,' said Mr Gove. (more)

Israel's ancient underwater treasure
9 November 2017 - In 2015, divers discovered a hoard of more than 2,000 gold coins on the ocean floor off the coast of Caesarea -- the largest stash ever found in the region. On an overcast morning in February 2015, Zvika Fayer was scuba diving off the ancient Israeli port town of Caesarea when he saw a glimmer on the sand. He'd gone diving in the area dozens of times before, and loved it for the teeming fish and scattered remains of shipwreck cargo and pottery that he sometimes glimpsed on the ocean floor. Many of Israel's underwater archaeological zones are open to divers, and Caesarea was one of Fayer's favourite spots. (more)

Stellar encore: Dying star keeps coming back big time
8 November 2017 - Astronomers reported Wednesday [8 November] on a massive, distant star that exploded in 2014 -- and also, apparently back in 1954. This is one supernova that refuses to bite the cosmic dust, confounding scientists who thought they knew how dying stars ticked. Las Cumbres, a global network of robotic telescopes, continues to keep watch. (more)

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