Today's eclectic bundle of upbeat news nuggets to help brighten the day.
Good news for Miley Cyrus as her song Flowers has become the fastest song to reach a billion streams on Spotify. It was released in January as the lead single to her album Endless Summer Vacation. “Some Flowers never fade,” wrote Spotify before confirming that the track had become “the fastest song to reach one billion streams in Spotify history.” To which Cyrus responded: “Thanks a billion, I love you.”
Recent reports would suggest that everything in France is awful, but - for the French - the good news, according to The Guardian, is that it has one of the lowest levels of inequality in the world, devotes a higher percentage of GDP to redistributing market inequalities than any of its wealthy peers, is near the top for average life expectancy, its workers retire earlier than anyone else in Europe (with the lowest rate of poverty), and unemployment is at its lowest in a generation. The French adventurer Sylvain Tesson may have put it best when he wrote: “France is a paradise inhabited by people who think they’re in hell.” (Gréviculture was added to the French dictionary in 2021 and describes an “almost systematic tendency to go on strike… as a preamble to any dialogue or negotiation".)
New Butterfly Genus
Researchers have uncovered a new genus of butterfly, with distinctive orange wings and dark eyespots. It is a striking appearance that has led the international team to label the genus Saurona, after Sauron, the evil lord of Mordor whose all-seeing fiery eye brought terror to Middle-earth and the Shires in The Lord of the Rings. It is an intriguing monicker. As JRR Tolkien describes it: “The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat’s, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.”
No Insider Trading
A bipartisan group of lawmakers have unveiled a bill to ban members of Congress from owning and trading individual stocks. Encouragingly, the bipartisan Restoring Faith in Government Act is supported by lawmakers across the ideological spectrum.
California just became the first state in the world to ban new diesel medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The decision was unanimous, goes into effect in 2036, and will require a switch to zero-emission big rigs, garbage trucks, and other heavy-duty vehicles.
A 400-square-meter solar footpath was recently installed in the Dutch city of Groningen as part of the “Making City” European Union project. The EU project aims to develop Positive Energy Districts which demonstrate the potential of innovative solutions to tackle climate-neutral goals. The footpath’s 2,544 solar pavers, made by the Hungarian firm Platio, will generate 55,000 kWh of electricity a year to power Groningen's city hall. “Platio solar pavers are doubly sustainable because they not only provide green energy but are made of recycled plastic,” said Philip Broeksma of Groningen municipality. “And it makes double use of space: the solar footpath generates electricity, while people can simply and safely walk on it. It is an example of how to use space in the city in a smart and sustainable way.”
NY Clean Energy
The state of New York has passed legislation in its latest budget that will require its public power provider to source 100 percent clean energy for electricity production by the end of this decade. The legislation allows New York Power Authority to build renewable energy projects as well as own and operate them, which could move more utilities away from private companies. “It’s a historic win for the climate and for clean jobs,” said Lee Ziesche, an organizer with Public Power New York, which has advocated for this legislation for four years, as reported by The Guardian. “It’ll create a model of public power for the whole country, and it’s really showing that our energy should be a public good.”
"Never apologize for showing feeling, my friend. Remember that when you do so, you apologize for the truth." Benjamin Disraeli
On this Day
9 May 1960: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first birth control pill.
Pink Panther Show: Pink Sphinx. Classic animation from 1968.