Smorgasbord of good news nuggets from around the world to get the weekend off to a sunny start.
Sir David Attenborough has been named a Champion of the Earth by the UN's Environment Programme. The prestigious award recognises the 95-year-old's commitment to telling stories about the natural world and climate change. Accepting the award, Sir David said the world must take action now to protect nature and the planet, and added that environmental success stories should give us hope that change is possible.
Hats Off to Kate
One of the last surviving members of a legendary unit of female aircraft plotters who identified enemy targets in World War II has taken to the skies in a glider - aged 99. Decorated veteran Kate Orchard served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force in India between 1941-45. She joined the corps at 20 and worked as a plotter in Madras, India, to identify the locations of enemy aircraft. She achieved the rank of Warrant Officer First Class and won both the Service and India Service medals. Recalling her role in the military, she said: "I wanted to do something for my country, which we all wanted to do during the war."
About a year and a half ago, a community in northeastern Gabon embarked on a first-of-its-kind initiative to request the declassification of a logging concession area. As part of the effort, the villagers sought to reclassify it as a protected area to safeguard its ecological and heritage values. Now, they’ve finally been listened to, with the central African nation’s environment minister recently announcing a ban on commercial logging in the area. It's the first time a protected area will be established in the country at the request of a local community.
Indonesia has passed a bill that, for the first time in the country’s history, bans forced marriage and sexual harassment. In good news for the female population, the bill that specifies nine forms of sexual violence, including physical and verbal assault, harassment, forced sterilization, and exploitation. The new law is backed up by severe punishments for perpetrators of these crimes, including prison sentences of up to 15 years. “This is not just about law; this is the beginning of a new civilization that we create together,” states Siti Mazumah, director of the Legal Aid Foundation of the Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice. “Indonesia has become a nation that will not tolerate and normalize sexual violence.”
The U.S. Department of Education has canceled student loan debt for 40,000 people and offered credits to help another 3.6 million pay off their loans under a plan designed to aid low-income borrowers and public servants. "Student loans were never meant to be a life sentence, but it's certainly felt that way for borrowers locked out of debt relief they're eligible for," Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in the statement.
Leading by Example
Chile's newly elected president, Gabriel Boric, has moved into Yungay, a rundown Santiago neighborhood riddled with problems. Boric campaigned on improving government and state services, reducing income inequality, and ending "neoliberal" practices. In Chile, the president chooses where to live, and Boric has made a choice very different from his predecessors. His presence in Yungay has had a dramatic effect. The local economy has picked up, the police presence has increased, crime is down, and real estate searches in the neighborhood have doubled.
Low Cost EVs
Bolivian startup, Quantum Motors, makes tiny electric vehicles (EVs) aimed at the Latin American masses. The company aims to bring electric mobility to people for whom most current EVs are financially out of reach. “Every country, rich or poor, has to move to electric mobility in the coming years,” said José Carlos Márquez, co-founder and CEO of Quantum. Quantum, together with a string of startups, from India to Argentina, is taking the concept of affordable EVs global. The cars cost around $6,000 each.
Quote of the Day
"The visions we offer our children shape the future. It matters what those visions are. Often they become self-fulfilling prophecies. Dreams are maps." Carl Sagan
On this Day
23 April 1635: The Boston Grammar School (later the Boston Latin School), open to all boys regardless of social class, was founded as the first public school in what would become the United States; it set a precedent for tax-supported public education.
Dive in Deeper
Musical Mood Booster
Mash-up of old school movie stars dancing to Step Back In Time by Kylie Minogue.