Saturday's extended and eclectic collection of good news nuggets from around the globe.
Good news for the University of St Andrews in Scotland - the alma mata of both Prince William and his future wife - as it has been named the UK's top university by the Good University Guide, bettering the Oxbridge duopoly for the first time in nearly 30 years of the award’s history.
Staying on the subject of education, it's good to hear that with each generation that passes, more and more people are learning how to read, says 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."
27 million-year-old penguin fossil found by a group of kids in New Zealand: The fossil that a group of very excited Kiwi children stumbled upon during a summer camp has been recognised as a new species of giant prehistoric penguin. The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology has named the species as ‘Kairuku waewaeroa’. The name ‘waewaeroa’ is Māori for ‘long legs’, as the species of penguin is significantly taller than other ancient penguins. The penguin would have stood at around 1.4m. The Emperor Penguin (pictured), the tallest living penguin species, is generally around 1m tall.
French motor giant Citroen is to launch an electric ‘city’ car in the UK for just £6,000 ($8,200). The idea is to bring the green technology within reach of millions of motorists. The award-winning Ami is already turning heads in France and has led to 12,000 Brits registering their interest – even before Citroen announced its intention to make a right-hand drive version. It’s not exactly an Aston Martin. There are no touchscreens, it can only get up to 28mph and do 46 miles on a single charge. But it could be a perfect option for city dwellers looking for a cheap emission-free runaround.
Sticking to the French theme, did you know that L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped, an installation designed by the late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude (first mooted in the 1960s), has finally opened to the public in Paris? The installation sees the iconic triumphal arch on the Champs-Élysées shrouded in 25,000 square metres of silvery, recyclable fabric, which is tied in place by 7,000m of red rope (also recyclable).
The world's earliest known jewellery has been found by archaeologists, who say the 150,000-year-old beads may have been worn as earrings or on a necklace. A set of 33 shell beads were discovered at the mouth of a cave, near Essaouira, a city on Morocco's Atlantic coast.
Scientists have used artificial intelligence to create a new drug regime for children with a deadly form of brain cancer. Cancer Discovery reported the breakthrough, which The Guardian said is set to usher in an “exciting” new era where AI can be harnessed to invent and develop new treatments for all types of cancer. “The use of AI promises to have a transformative effect on drug discovery,” said Prof Kristian Helin of The Institute of Cancer Research.
On the outskirts of Amaravalli village on India's east coast, Marada Suguna has been hard at work planting mangroves. He's among millions of Indians who find jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the world's largest such programme that provides at least 100 days of work annually to every rural household. Credited with alleviating poverty, empowering women, and giving work to people who lost jobs in the Covid pandemic, the further good news is that the scheme is now also helping to create climate resilience in communities affected by frequent floods, droughts, and erosion.
An endangered turtle that washed up in Ireland with hypothermia has been returned to its native Canary Islands on a flight - and even had its own boarding pass. The three-year-old Loggerhead sea turtle, known as Julius Caesar or ‘JC’, was discovered on the beach in County Donegal, but has boarded a flight back to the much warmer waters of his home. Aer Lingus pilot, Captain Peter Lumsden, said: “It is our pleasure to welcome aboard a very special passenger today and to ensure the safe transportation of JC the Turtle to Gran Canaria."
Hats off to Forest Green Rovers: Formed in 1889, the Rovers are a professional football club based in Gloucestershire, England. The team competes in EFL League Two. All food sold at their stadium is vegan, and the stadium is run exclusively on green energy and carbon-neutral gas. Even the pitch is organic. FIFA heralded the League Two side as the greenest in the world. The UN certified them as carbon-neutral. When it comes to sustainability, Rovers are way out in front.
Fun Fact: One day on Venus is longer than one year on Earth. Venus has an extremely slow axis rotation that takes about 243 Earth days to complete one full cycle. Funnily enough, it takes Venus even less time in Earth days in order to complete one revolution around the sun - 226 to be exact. Furthermore, the sun rises every 117 Earth days, which means that the sun will rise only twice during each year, which is technically, therefore, in the same day. Since Venus also rotates clockwise, the sun will rise in the west and set in the east.
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.”
A sorrowful Frida Kahlo self-portrait which shows her cheating husband, Diego Rivera, in the centre of her forehead, is expected to smash auction records as it becomes the most valuable work of Latin American art ever publicly offered for sale. Sotheby’s has announced it will be offering for sale a 1949 painting titled Diego y yo (Diego and I) with an estimate in excess of $30m. If it achieves anywhere near that figure, it will break the Latin American artist auction record of $9.76m, currently held by a painting of Rivera’s.
“Carpets of bubbles” will soon save shipping giant MSC £220m ($300m) in fuel costs - and reduce its CO2 emissions by 1.6m tonnes - after it signed up to put a British company’s revolutionary technology on a fleet of new cargo ships. MSC, the world's largest ocean carrier, will install Silverstream Technologies’ “air lubrication” design on 30 container ships. The system works by releasing bubbles from the keel of the ship that coat the hull up to the water line. They reduce friction between the hull and water as the ship moves, reducing the amount of fuel needed by between 5pc and 10pc.
Good news for the City of London: It has maintained its crown as Europe's dominant financial hub as firms in the Square Mile adapt to Brexit. London came second only to New York in the latest global financial centres index. The City comfortably beat rival European centres, including Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, which came 10th, 14th and 17th, respectively. The report said London's strong performance "reflects confidence in the longer-term prospects for the centre".
Good to see that Joe Biden is on a bit of a roll at the moment. He's announced the US is to donate 500m more doses of the Pfizer vaccine to developing nations from next year, which tots the total promised up to one billion jabs. Furthermore, he's also pledged to double America's share of climate finance for poor countries.
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More Good News
If you want to surf around the OGN website and read some positive news articles, rather than just good news nuggets, choose from:
The Lost Forest
An international team of scientists and explorers go on an extraordinary mission in Mozambique to reach a forest that no human has set foot in. The team, including some of the world’s foremost climate change experts, aims to collect data from the forest to help in our understanding of how climate change is affecting our planet. But the forest sits atop a mountain, and to reach it, the team must first climb a sheer 100m wall of rock.