Ensuring the week gets off to a bright start with a global round up of good news nuggets.
MacKenzie Scott has just donated $133.5 million to educational nonprofit Communities in School, an organization that helps students navigate issues inside and outside of the classroom. The billionaire philanthropist's donation is the largest unsolicited gift in the program's history. Communities in School works in 2,900 schools in America, supporting students at risk of dropping out and providing resources to help young people be successful, according to its website. Scott's charitable giving has made headlines as she sells off billions worth of Amazon stock. Since her 2019 divorce from Jeff Bezos, Scott has donated more than $8.5 billion to organizations focused on a range of issues.
Comic Strip Heroes
Trees, eagles, bears, turrets and towers: passport designs used to follow certain conventions. Not any more. From today, all new Belgian passports will feature Tintin, the Smurfs and other heroes of Belgian comic-strip art. “We have chosen a design that represents well our country, its arts and culture, with a touch of talent, expertise, humour and humility,” says Belgium’s foreign minister, Sophie Wilmès. “A reason to become Belgian,” tweeted one senior EU official in Brussels. Finland is another place with a quirky passport design: it has a moose that runs as pages flick.
Wall of Goodness
In north east India, a unique initiative by youths in Dhanbad has been helping their community deal with the chilling cold. A large number of winter clothing items are being hung on the nails of "Neki ki Diwar" (wall of goodness) built on the side wall of a girls school. A mural above the nails appeals to people to donate clothing they have but don't use because it can be of great help to others. "Neki ki Diwar" has proven to be a boon for those who are going through difficult financial situations. Such people come here silently in the dark or early morning and take warm clothing items for themselves and their families. The thoughtful and original initiative is getting a good response from citizens.
Blood Cancer 'Cure'
One of the first patients to be treated with a revolutionary therapy that engineers immune cells to target specific types of cancer still possess cancer-killing cells a decade later, but with no sign of his illness returning. The finding suggests CAR T-cell therapy constitutes a “cure” for certain blood cancers. CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell therapy works by genetically engineering an individual’s T-cells to recognise and destroy cancer cells. T-cells are a type of white blood cell that can recognise and destroy foreign cells, including cancer cells, but because cancer is very good at evading immune detection, they often miss their mark. CAR T-cells are engineered to make them better at detecting cancer cells.
Four centuries after it was wiped out in the UK, the common crane has had a record breeding season. New figures reveal that 40 chicks fledged in 2021, the highest number since cranes returned to the UK in 1979. The population is now thought to stand at over 200. Cranes – the UK’s tallest bird – have slowly recolonised England since reintroducing themselves to the Norfolk Broads. In 2010, a project launched to improve the bird’s wetland habitat, work that now appears to be paying off. “The recovery of the UK crane population, now at its highest level since the 17th century, showcases that conservation action can make a real difference,” said Andrew Stanbury of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Paper Thin Solar Cells
Stanford University researchers announce that they have achieved record efficiencies in a promising class of new materials for solar cells - which can be thinner than a piece of paper. Slimming down is necessary if solar power wants to reach new devices; panels made of silicon are far too stiff, heavy, and bulky for new applications that require flexible materials. Stanford’s new photovoltaic material is fifteen times thinner than paper. The idea is that these thin, flexible panels could be used in a variety of mobile applications, including self-powered gadgets and sensors, as well as giving a boost to lightweight airplanes and electric cars.
Solution to Bycatch
Turtles, sharks and rays are among the species that could benefit from an experimental technique designed to prevent bycatch in fishing nets. Research published in Current Biology, a scientific journal, found that attaching green lights to nets significantly reduces the amount of unintentional marine life that gets tangled up in them, without impacting fish catches. The lit nets were trialled off the coast of Baja California in Mexico, where they were found to bring in 63 percent less bycatch than unlit nets; including 51 percent fewer turtles and 81 percent fewer squid.
Europe EV Growth
In 2021, according to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, battery-electric vehicle sales grew by 63 percent to nearly 878,500 cars, while plug-in hybrid sales grew 71 percent to 867,100. Each accounted for approximately 10 percent of all new sales.
Quote of the Day
"Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now." Stoic philosopher Epictetus
On this Day
7 February 1964: The musical British Invasion began when the Beatles landed in New York City, and two nights later, as Beatlemania stormed America, their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show was watched by 73 million viewers.
Dive in Deeper
Tchaikovsky's Sugar Plum Fairy being played on wine glasses!