Today's selection of good news nuggets from around the globe.
With each generation that passes, more and more people are learning how to read, according to UNESCO. These days, around 86 percent of adults around the world are able to enjoy a book on their own. UNESCO also explained that their data shows "remarkable improvement among youth in terms of reading and writing skills and a steady reduction in gender gaps."
The UK's National Health Service says it will trial a new blood test that can spot 50 cancers before symptoms appear. Health bosses said the new simple test could revolutionise treatment and save thousands of lives. NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “By finding cancer before signs and symptoms appear, we have the best chance of treating it and we can give people the best chance of survival.”
Resplendent in their striped knickerbockers and clutching murderous-looking halberds, they have faithfully defended popes for more than 500 years. But the Swiss Guard, the world’s smallest army with just 140 soldiers, is considering the previously unthinkable – opening up to female soldiers. The tiny corps has announced that it is having a new barracks built within the walls of the Vatican and that it will be designed to accommodate female soldiers. “It means that in future, if the decision is taken, we would be able to accommodate women as well,” a spokesman for the Swiss Guard, told The Telegraph. “That decision has not been taken yet and it lies with our superiors and ultimately Pope Francis.”
Students from the University of Bristol, England, crowdfunded £1,500 to secure a week’s trip to Jamaica for their beloved cleaner - Herman Gordon. More than 230 supporters donated money so Herman and his wife can both visit their family after many years apart. “You have brightened many of our days and we want you to know that we love and appreciate you,” the students wrote in a special note to him.
Thanks to dedicated work by numerous scientists, Maryland's Chesapeake Bay is now home to the world's largest man-made oyster reef - with more than one billion oysters, which conservationists hope will give the population a chance to fully recover. These industrious mollusks naturally filter water in order to absorb nutrients and grow their shells and scientists have discovered that a by-product of this growth process is that harmful pollutants such as phosphorus, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and nitrogen from fertilizers, which are difficult to remove from water and can persist for decades if left alone, are also extracted from the sea.
Hats off and congratulations to 102-year-old Russian WWII veteran, Nikolai Bagayev, who spent a month in intensive care fighting for his life after severe Covid-19 complications - but he's now out and about again, making his recovery a minor miracle.
In another remarkable story of survival, a three-year-old Australian boy who managed to cope on his own in bushland for three nights may have been better equipped to handle the ordeal because he has autism, experts say. Non-verbal AJ Elfalak was discovered drinking water from a creek, 500m from the family home in New South Wales. Investigators are now trying to piece together the young boy's time in the wild with bush survival experts. They suggested to Daily Mail Australia that the young boy's autism may have played a decisive role in keeping him calm and alive.
Walmart, which was for many years the biggest retailer in the world until Amazon took its crown, comes with a huge carbon footprint. In 2019 the company emitted 17.56m metric tons of greenhouse gases. Walmart has now declared its mission to tackle this climate impact, which means focusing on every part of its supply chain, in order to reach zero emissions from its global operations by 2040 without relying on carbon offsets. “It’s extraordinary,” said Michael Vandenbergh, co-director of the Climate Change Research Network. “What we’re talking about is one of the largest and most conservative companies in the world making a range of commitments that government is not requiring them to make.”
Fun Fact: The reason bees are so noisy is because they beat their wings 11,400 times in one minute!
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Line Rider - Mountain King
"In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg, beautifully accompanied by mesmerising, synchronised line drawings.