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Wednesday's Upbeat News

An eclectic selection of positive news nuggets to perk up the day.

Restorer working on of the ‘Mays’ of Notre Dame
Restoration of the ‘Mays’ of Notre Dame

When Notre Dame went up in flames in 2019, it was hard to believe anything within its walls would be salvaged. But four years later a unique collection of 17th century religious paintings is to go back on display. The 13 'Mays' - part of a series of 76 large oil works painted by the best artists in France between 1630 and 1707 - had hung in the cathedral’s dimly lit side chapels, and after loving restoration by experts from Mobilier National, the cultural body charged with conserving France’s historical objects, they are ready to be shown to the public again. “We were lucky to get them out quite quickly with just a little water damage and dust,” said Emmanuel Pénicaut, director of Mobilier National collections. “It was rather miraculous.” The treasures of Notre Dame will be on display at the Mobilier National from today until 21 July.

EU Abortion Rights

The EU parliament has approved a proposal to include access to abortion in its Charter of Fundamental Rights, with 336 votes in favour and 163 against. While the resolution is a significant first step, it requires the green light from all 27 member states in order to take effect.

Emerson, an elephant seal
Emerson, bottom right | Credit: DFO/MPO
Boomerang Seal

From city parks to busy roads, Emerson the 500lb elephant seal has a habit of lumping himself in places he shouldn’t. So for his safety, conservation officials in Victoria, Canada last week relocated him to a remote beach 125 miles away from the city. But who should reappear, just seven days later? Though Emerson had become something of a local celebrity, officials have asked that this time he be left in peace as he undergoes a month-long period of shedding his fur that can be “highly taxing”. After that? He’ll probably be bundled in a van once again in hopes he will settle somewhere more safe.

NY Sues Meat Company

New York is suing JBS, the world's largest meat company, for misleading customers on its climate commitments. The company’s lack of concrete emission reduction steps and misleading claims make it a fraud case with high chances of success. It’s part of a wave of lawsuits against big businesses for greenwashing sustainability claims.

"A Stretch of The Legs"

That's how athlete Russ Cook, aka 'Hardest Geezer', described running the London Marathon on Sunday, two weeks after he completed a 352-day run across the length of Africa (the equivalent of 385 marathons).

Lighting Up Rwanda

Over the past 15 years, Rwanda has significantly increased its electricity access from 6 percent in 2009 to 75 percent as of March 2024. It’s one of the fastest expansions in the world and is thanks in part to investment in renewables and off-grid solutions like solar home systems, says World Bank. The country has also connected 100 percent of healthcare centres and 84 percent of schools and small businesses.

Tui bird
A New Zealand Tui
Metropolitan Birds

In many cities around the world, the sounds of nature have drastically quietened. But in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, decades of conservation efforts has meant that residents are hearing birdsong from native birds who are transforming the city’s morning chorus. A Wellington regional council report shows that since 2011, the average number of native bird species in the city’s parks and reserves had risen by an impressive 41 percent. “We’re in the middle of a big city and there are these amazing birds,” Sue Hope, a volunteer, says. “It makes you appreciate you are not the only thing here.”

Dam Fine Progress

It’s been another fine year for dismantling river barriers in Europe, with almost 500 removed in 15 countries across the continent. The latest figures come from Dam Removal Europe, reporting that 487 dams, culverts, sluices and weirs were ripped down in 2023 - up nearly 50 percent on the previous year. France led the way with 156 barriers removed. The UK came in fifth with 36. Overall, the initiatives reconnected 4,300km (2,672 miles) of waterways, and improved safety as well as habitats.


"Innovation is saying 'no' to 1,000 things. You have to pick carefully." Steve Jobs

On This Day

The Library of Congress

24 April 1800: The Library of Congress was officially founded as U.S. President John Adams approved the $5,000 appropriated to acquire “such books as may be necessary for the use of congress”; it eventually became the largest library in the world.


Mood Booster

Specsavers launched discounts on glasses for pensioners with this hilarious TV commercial in 2009.


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