Saturday's Good News

Updated: Nov 10

Bite sized chunks of good news stories from around the globe.

  • Hats off to Holly Thorpe: For several years, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools toyed with replacing some of its 1,000 diesel buses with cleaner electric vehicles. But school leaders said the change would be too costly. Then 12-year-old student Holly Thorpe showed up at a school board meeting to push the benefits of going electric and returned to encourage the district to apply for a state grant. Two years on, the school board has now approved a district plan to use state money to replace up to 50 diesel buses with electric models. The transition is part of a small but growing movement led by parents, students and lawmakers to purchase electric school buses to improve the health of students and cut planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, reports AP.

  • When the Brazilian state of Amazonas put the responsibility of protecting one of the world’s largest freshwater fish in the hands of the indigenous inhabitants, it saved the beast from an inevitable extinction. The giant arapaima, a piranha-proof river monster capable of growing to 10-feet in length and weighing 440 pounds, was almost wiped out by illegal fishing in the 1990s, but after two decades of conservation the ‘Terminator of the River’ - also known as the 'Cod of the Amazon' - is back.

  • In the town of Arras in northern France, the country’s first ever appointed official with Down syndrome is leading from the front, changing hearts and minds and bringing a new perspective on mental disability. In 2020, Éléonore Laloux was appointed municipal councilor of Arras under the mayor Frédéric Leturque, for which she has received continual praise for her colorful nature, her insatiable desire to make people smile, and for promoting the inclusivity of disabled persons in society. On 15 October, Ms. Laloux was awarded membership of the National Order of Merit, the second highest civilian honour in the country.

  • UK’s largest sunlit vertical farm begins harvest: Using only natural light for photosynthesis and heat, Shockingly Fresh’s greenhouse in Worcestershire can produce four-times the yield of traditional farming, while using much less energy than other vertical farms. This is because other vertical farms are closed systems - relying on artificial LED light and indoor heating to keep crops cozy. “It is ultimately better for the environment. I can’t say it’s carbon-neutral but it isn’t as carbon-hungry as an LED vertical farm would be,” the aptly-named Nick Green, development director of Shockingly Fresh, told The Guardian.

  • For the first time, scientists at MIT used a high-temperature superconducting electromagnet to create a field strength of 20 teslas - the most powerful high-temperature magnetic field ever created on Earth. Researchers say this is a positive step toward proving fusion power plants will one day be able to produce more power than they consume.

  • McDonald’s is finally getting rid of plastic toys. It has promised to make all Happy Meal toys across the globe with more sustainable, eco-friendly material by 2025. Instead of disposable plastic toys, children can look forward to pop-out paper figurines, board games made with plant-based or recycled game pieces, trading cards, paper coloring patterns, and toys fashioned out of bio-based material.

  • It's been a good week for Ernie LaPointe, 73, from South Dakota, after a sample of hair from Sitting Bull - the leader of the Sioux warriors who destroyed General Custer's force in the battle of Little Big Horn - has helped scientists confirm that he is the famous Native American leader’s great-grandson using a new method to analyse family lineages with DNA fragments from long-dead people. DNA extracted from the hair, which had been stored at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, confirmed the familial relationship between Sitting Bull, who died in 1890, and Ernie LaPointe. “I feel this DNA research is another way of identifying my lineal relationship to my great-grandfather,” said LaPointe, adding that people have been questioning his relationship to his ancestor for as long as he can remember. "These people are just a pain in the place you sit - and will probably doubt these findings, also.”

  • Among mammals, no species besides humans have been known to use rhythm or song - until now. As OGN published yesterday, researchers in Madagascar have documented lemurs using rhythm and even singing together in groups. The 12-year study followed Indri lemurs in the rainforest and they were observed singing harmonized duets and choruses. Now, we have recordings! Though, to be honest, you need to be a musical scientist to decipher the synchronised harmonies. But here they are...


  • Lifeguards in Alabama are being praised for carrying a 95-year-old woman to her beach chair every day while she was on vacation. Kimberly Waterbury, and her 95-year-old mother, Dottie Schneider, from Indiana, traveled to Alabama's beautiful Orange Beach this October for a week-long vacation. Dottie uses a wheelchair and cannot walk in the sand. Her family was struggling to get her from their condo to their beach chairs. So, the lifeguards stepped in and kindly carried Dottie to the beach each day. Then at days end they escorted her back to her condo. Despite numerous attempts to tip the lifeguards, Waterbury said her offers were politely refused every time. "All the pay we need is watching her smile," they would say.

  • Did you know that Halloween was born in Irish caves 2,000 years ago? This ancient, bloody, pagan ritual eventually became the sugar-coated event it is today. Two millennia ago, when paganism was the dominant religion among Ireland’s majority Celtic people, it was here that the Celtic New Year festival of Samhain (“Sow-in”) was born. In the 1800s, the Samhain tradition was brought by Irish immigrants to the United States, where it morphed into the sugar overload that is American Halloween today. See full story [OGN, 17 October]

More Good News


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