Thursday's global round up of good news nuggets.
Good news for Elvis fans who like a drop of whiskey: In the oversaturated market of celebrity-affiliated spirits brands, some are now turning to revered icons who are no longer with us in the physical realm. Enter this pair of American whiskeys, the result of a partnership between Grain & Barrel Spirits and Elvis Presley Enterprises, the entity that manages the King’s estate. Will this release appeal to the nexus of whiskey and Elvis fans that must be out there somewhere? Even at $50 per bottle? Either way, let's raise a glass to the King.
A French law passed in 2014 that prohibits retailers from discounting new books has helped small bookstores survive amidst heavy competition from powerful online retailers. However, the owners of independent shops are still at a disadvantage because online marketplace giants such as Amazon have managed to semi-evade this law by allowing customers to pay just one cent for shipping. But the good news for the indies is that France has now adopted new legislation that sets a minimum price for book deliveries to further protect small independent bookstores by leveling the playing field.
In more good news on the literary front, Jane Austen’s house secures its future with funding to restore roof. As Jane Austen famously put it in Emma, “there is nothing like staying at home for real comfort”. Now the roof on the novelist’s own home is set to be restored, after funds were raised to save it through public donations and a grant from the UK government. Austen lived in Chawton, Hampshire, for the last eight years of her life, writing novels including Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Emma there. The roof of the cottage was last refurbished in 1948, before it opened to the public as Jane Austen’s House Museum.
In September, the Tesla Model 3 became not only the best-selling electric car, but the best-selling automobile in Europe. The popular electric 4-seater overtook the previous top seller (with a traditional internal combustion engine), the Renault Clio, by 6,000 sales, and bettered the next best selling electric car by about 15,000 sales. The shift to electric in Europe is truly happening.
Today, Scotland's Aberdeen University is handing over to a Nigerian delegation a Benin Bronze that was among thousands looted by British troops in 1897. This follows similar restitutions pledged by Germany and America's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Aberdeen acquired the bronze head at an auction in 1957. After a review of its provenance, the university contacted the Nigerian authorities to offer to hand it back, reports Reuters.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine say that they were able to treat depression in patients by stimulating their brains with magnets. Researchers found that nearly 80 percent of patients had experienced remission of their depression after the procedure, which is called Stanford neuromodulation therapy (SNT). The technique is a modified form of transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and works by delivering high doses of magnetic pulses into a patient’s brain with a device containing magnetic coils placed outside of their skull. The treatment takes just five days and is customized to each patient based on an MRI scan which shortens the typical timeline of rTMS treatment from a span of weeks into days.
Avocados: They are deliciously creamy, versatile and gloriously Instagrammable. But they have an enormous carbon footprint, requiring an astonishing 320 litres of water each to grow. The chef at Mexican themed restaurant group Wahaca has struggled to balance the devastating environmental impact of avocado production with her customers’ appetite for guacamole. Now, she thinks she has found the answer: a vibrant, green guacamole-inspired dip, made from fava beans, green chilli, lime and coriander. It's not the first restaurant to switch away from 'the blood diamonds of Mexico' and we can all expect to see a shift away from avocados when we eat out and, eventually, in our homes too. It's time to give peas a chance! (as well as pistachios, jerusalem artichokes,fava beans, courgettes and pumpkin seed paste.)
When it comes to planets in the solar system, Uranus is definitely an oddball. The seventh planet from the Sun is the only planet named after a Greek god (the rest get their names from Roman mythology). And unlike the rest of the planets, Uranus spins almost entirely on its side. This strange space denizen is usually a faint sparkle in Earth’s night sky, but Uranus finally gets its chance to shine as it reaches the point of opposition - a special moment in its orbit of the Sun in relation to the Earth - tonight and tomorrow night. The ice-giant planet will appear at its most luminescent for nighttime sky gazers. Let's hope it's a good omen for COP26.
Colombia is targeting a 51 percent cut in CO2 emissions by 2030, a commitment President Ivan Duque has repeatedly touted as he seeks to shore up his administration's environmental legacy before he leaves office next year. Now, his Energy Minister has awarded 11 new large-scale solar projects that are expected to bring investment of $875 million and enter operation in early 2023, the government said, as part of its efforts to promote use of renewable energy. They contracts are expected to create some 4,700 jobs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 465,000 tonnes a year.
Fun Fact: Iceland has the world’s oldest parliament. Called the Althing, it was established in 930 and has stayed as the acting parliament of Iceland since then.
Dive in Deeper
Is Kernza the Agricultural Grain of the Future? If you haven't heard about Kernza before, don't fret. This amazing grain was first developed by the scientists at The Land Institute in 2008 - and it's not genetically modified. Read on...