OGN Wednesday

Today's collection of uplifting news nuggets.

  • The co-inventor of the new Pfizer BioNTech vaccine - Dr Ugur Sahin - has just held a news conference, stating two bits of very good news: (1) It's highly likely that the current vaccine will work against this new strain of the virus and (2) even if it doesn't, because of the way the vaccine is engineered, it would only take 6 weeks to tweak it in order to be effective against the new strain.

  • Spain toasts lynx recovery: Two decades ago the Iberian lynx was on the brink of extinction, yet now it's poised to spring to a four-figure population milestone thanks to a successful and sophisticated rescue effort mounted by a coalition of conservation groups.

  • Good news for families around the world: Over Christmas and New Year's Eve, Zoom is lifting it's usual '40 minutes only for free' rule so that everyone everywhere can chat to loved ones over the holidays without restrictions.

  • Reindeer are believed to be native to Scotland, but became extinct around 800 years ago. In 1952, the Cairngorms was the first place in the UK where the animals were reintroduced, after Swedish herder Mikel Utsi visited with his wife and thought the area would make a good home for them. Since then, the herd has thrived, growing from eight to 150 and is looked after by a team of 10 full-time herders.

  • Staff at Mr Toys Toyworld on Australia's Gold Coast had the surprise of the year at their store when a woman in her late 20s or early 30s entered the store and paid off all of the layaway bills at the store - totalling over $16,000. And then came back, and...

  • Electric cars are poised to become cheaper than their gasoline-powered counterparts, making the choice of switching to more environmentally friendly vehicles much easier. That’s the prediction of a new report from Bloomberg, which says that the market average for batteries will hit just $101 per kWh by 2023 - the threshold electric vehicles need to surpass to become cheaper than cars running on fossil fuels. The main reason why this is such an important indicator is that the battery accounts for about a quarter of an EV’s total cost, making it the primary determinant of price.

  • Pakistan’s Taboo Breaking 'Oprah Show' Saved: Good news for women in Pakistan after a crowd-funding success saves Kanwal Ahmed's show sharing advice on taboo subjects like sex and violence… and cooking. In a religiously and socially conservative nation such as Pakistan, where a selfie can result in an 'honour killing', her show has become a lifeline for members (or 'soulies', as they call themnselves).

  • An amateur fossil hunter has discovered a new species of ‘sea dragons’ dating from 150 million years ago on England's south coast. While it couldn’t fly or breathe fire, the new specimen may have been capable of diving at incredible depths. The well-preserved ichthyosaur fossil was unearthed off of the Jurassic Coast in Dorset by fossil hunter Steven Etches. Fascinated by its unusual shape, Etches gave the fossil to a team of experts who identified it as a new genus and species. Soon after, the scientists dubbed it the “Etches sea dragon” (Thalassodraco etchesi).

  • People Power! Seeking to preserve both the environment and Karen culture in Myanmar, Paul Sein Twa successfully led his people in establishing a one million acre peace park, a unique and collaborative community-based approach to conservation, in the Salween River basin. The Salween River basin is a major biodiversity zone and home to the indigenous Karen people, who have long sought self-determination and cultural survival. The new park represents a major victory for peace and conservation in Myanmar.

  • Andrea Bocelli and his daughter, Virginia, sung Hallelujah at the Teatro Regio di Parma earlier this month. Guaranteed to warm your heart and make you smile in the countdown to Christmas!

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