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Kiva and Vittana Crowdfund Student Loans in the Developing World

It is no secret that education is the surest route to a better life, but for tens of thousands of low-income students in developing nations, high costs means that access to it continues to be the stuff of fantasy. Student loans are notoriously hard to come by outside of the U.S. and Europe, largely due to the fact that banks have no track record of repayments that can be used to assess risk, and students generally don’t have collateral or a credit history to prove that they can pay back loans.

The answer to this classic “chicken-or-the-egg” problem could lie with crowdfunding, which not only presents an opportunity to get tuition loans to students who need them, but also to build a “track record of repayment” that will encourage financial institutions to offer more loans to students.

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Bing to Put Brazil’s Favelas on the Map

How can you provide social services or start a new business when your city doesn’t even show up on a map? That’s the reality for millions of Brazilians living in favelas, or shantytowns, in Rio de Janeiro: Less than 1 percent of these densely populated urban areas have been mapped, according to Microsoft search engine Bing.

But the Google competitor hopes it can put Rio’s favelas on the map, embarking on a long-term project to bring its computational power and mapping infrastructure to the city set to host this year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

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FDA’s High-Tech (and Still Confusing) Nutrition Labels for 2016

Have you been trying to read those confusing nutrition labels on your packaged food recently? Well good news: The FDA released a new batch for consumer feedback today. The typeface is bigger, and the calories are unmistakable. And yes, the FDA really DOES want your feedback. We’ve included the link.

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Fracking Boom: Some North Dakota Rentals Now More Pricey Than NYC

For all of those communities that dream of one day hitting it rich on the fracking route: there’s a cost to fame, as Williston, N.D.’s citizenry is discovering. With median rental costs exceeding those of New York City, what will the town do when the rigs fold up and the oil companies go home?

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If In-N-Out Can Pay (a Lot) More Than Minimum Wage, Why Can’t McDonald’s?

In-N-Out Burger, a fast food chain in California and the Southwest, starts its employees off at a wage of $10.50 an hour. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez makes a good point. If In-N-Out Burger can do it–remain profitable and still provide what has arguably been deemed a superior product–why can’t McDonald’s?

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Obama, McCarthy Reaffirm Government’s Commitment to Environmental Justice

On the 25th anniversary of a historic executive order issued by then President Clinton, the President and EPA Administrator’s renewed commitment to environmental justice should resonate with the public, coming in the wake of chemical and coal ash spills that have endangered water supplies and ecosystems.

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CVS to Stop Selling Cigarettes – Doubles Down on Health Services

CVS/pharmacy announced it will voluntarily stop selling all tobacco products at 7,600 stores nationwide, as an effort to do the right thing and fulfill its purpose: “Helping people on the path to better health.” Is this a solid social move or a pure publicity stunt?

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Mobile Technology: Helping to Stop Homelessness

Millions of us across the nation own and use cell phones to make our lives operate a little easier. And research shows that equipping homeless and low-income individuals with that same resource can have transforming results.

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Organic and Enviro Groups Call for GMO Labeling by Feds

That pesky GMO topic just won’t go away … Organic and environmental groups are the latest in a growing list to pen their names to a letter to the Pres calling for federal labeling of all foods containing GMO.

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Keystone XL Report: Is It Really About the Environment?

It may not be as exciting as the Super Bowl was, but the U.S. government’s 44-page report on the potential impact of the Keystone XL pipeline project makes some real touchdowns – few of them for the environment.

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Refurbished Wind Turbines to Power the Developing World at a Profit

Formally announced in a panel discussion at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi last week, the Vestas-backed Wind for Prosperity initiative claims to have devised a solution that will power the developing world while yielding returns for investors.