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Friday's Upbeat News

Celebrating the end of the week with a collection of upbeat news nuggets.

Steve Green with his campervan Cecil, built in 1972
Steve Green with his campervan Cecil, built in 1972 | Credit: Apex/Clean Ocean Sailing
Trusty Workhorse

The owners of VW campervans often become deeply attached to their characterful vehicles, giving them names and regarding them as companions in adventure, part of the family. But Steve Green is prouder than most of his van – rejoicing in the name Cecil – which is well on the way to totting up a million miles and still gainfully employed as a trusty workhorse. Green, 50, bought Cecil, 52, for £180 ($225) in 1998, and Cecil is now a part of Clean Ocean Sailing, a Cornish organisation that hauls waste plastic collected from beaches, working alongside a century-old sailing boat called The Annette. Cecil, which now runs on waste chip fat oil, takes the plastic from beaches in the south-west of England and transports it to a recycling plant. The world is a better place thanks to heroes like Steve, Cecil and Annette.

Colourful graphic of people breakdancing
Olympic Breakdancing

Get ready for plenty of how-did-they-do-that moments when the Paris Games introduce break-dancing as an official Olympic sport. Bodies will be contorted, gravity will seemingly be defied, and athletes will be showcasing “headspins,” “windmills” and “freeze” moves - and it will all be set to music. The sport, also known as breaking, made its successful debut at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where it topped 1 million viewers, according to NBC Olympics, far outpacing audiences for many other sports. The Olympics declared it an "outstanding success," and now both the organizers and the athletes hope to translate that magic to the biggest stage in sports.

Fending Off Alzheimer's

Researchers at New York's Columbia University have discovered a genetic variant that reduces the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 70 percent and may already be protecting thousands of people from the disease. The discovery of the protective variant, which appears to allow toxic forms of amyloid out of the brain and through the blood-brain barrier, supports emerging evidence that the brain’s blood vessels play a large role in Alzheimer's disease and could herald a new direction in therapeutic development. “Alzheimer’s disease may get started with amyloid deposits in the brain, but the disease manifestations are the result of changes that happen after the deposits appear,” says Caghan Kizil, PhD, a co-leader of the study that identified the variant. “Our findings suggest that some of these changes occur in the brain’s vasculature and that we may be able to develop new types of therapies that mimic the gene’s protective effect to prevent or treat the disease.”

Illustration of an Ichthyotitan severnensis
The new genus and species: Ichthyotitan severnensis
Giant Discovery

The bones of an enormous jawbone more than two metres (6.5 feet) long have been found on a beach in Somerset in south-west England by an 11 yea old girl and her father. Scientists have identified the fossilised remains as belonging to a new species of giant ichthyosaur, a type of prehistoric marine reptile that lived during the Late Triassic period, more than 200 million years ago. Experts believe the gigantic oceanic reptile would have been more than 25 metres long - about the size of a blue whale.

The Maserati GranCabrio
Credit: Maserati
World's Fastest

The Maserati GranCabrio just got a welcome jolt of electricity. The Italian marque has just unveiled the battery-powered Folgore version of its open-top grand tourer. The new model doesn’t just sit atop the GranCabrio lineup, though. The Drive reports the car can sprint from zero to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, zero to 120 mph in nine seconds, and hit a top speed of 181 mph. That last number comfortably makes the EV the fastest electric convertible in the world.

Bottom Trawling Ban

Greece will ban bottom trawling in all of its marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2030, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced this week. He said the country would become Europe's first to bring an end to the damaging fishing practice in these protected areas. It will be banned in Greece’s three national marine parks - one of which is the largest in the East Mediterranean Sea - by 2026 with the rest following before the end of the decade. Bottom trawling involves dragging heavy fishing nets across the ocean floor, which can destroy habitats and even release carbon into the ocean and atmosphere. Though there are restrictions in place throughout Europe, this is the first outright ban in all of one country’s marine protected areas.


“No matter what happens or how bad it seems today, life does go on and it will be better tomorrow.” Maya Angelou

On This Day

Mae West

19 April 1927: American actress Mae West was sentenced to 10 days in jail, convicted of obscenity and “corrupting the morals of youth” with her portrayal of a prostitute in the Broadway play Sex, which she also wrote; the publicity made her famous.


Mood Booster

Discover the raw beauty of Denmark's Faroe Islands.


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