Two themes have been illustrated lately in Good News Roundups: 1) things are not as bad as the media are telling us and 2) progress is being made but not reported. It’s important for us to keep hammering on these messages, because the media is relentless in its focus on negativity. That’s why I was pleased to see Paul Krugman pushing back on the general gloom ‘n’ doom in this piece from the NY Times: What if Things Are About to Get Better?
…what if the current gloom is overdone? As regular readers know, I’m not an optimist by temperament — and I’m as terrified as everyone should be by the threat right-wing radicalism poses to U.S. democracy. But there’s a good case that in the quite near future we’ll see substantial progress against the three C’s: Covid, containers (i.e., supply-chain issues) and crime. We didn’t get our summer of joy, but we might be heading for a spring of relief.
He notes that the Delta wave is receding, only 1-2% of workers facing termination for resisting vaccination have actually chosen to leave their jobs, pressure on the supply chain is lifting as consumers stop pandemic panic buying, and homicides nationally are down 14% in the past month compared to 2020.
So yes — things are not as bad as the media are telling us and progress is being made but not reported nearly enough.
I’ve found a lot of stories that reinforce Krugman’s opinion. But first:
Welcome, dear reader, whether you’re a dedicated Gnusie, a silent regular, an occasional drop-in, or a first-timer. Come sit with us to find and share messages of hope and to celebrate all the ways good people are solving problems and triumphing over evil-doers.
The task we have set ourselves here at the Good News Roundup is to search out hope no matter how difficult the situation might be. We learned during The Former Guy’s four years of error and terror that hope can be found even in the darkest times. Now we find ourselves in a time when despite a lot of good news, it’s still the scary bad news and contentious commentary that gets the most attention from the media. So our mission of boosting good news is especially important now.
The Good News Roundup is a collaborative effort. We warmly encourage you to add your own good news finds in our comment section, The Best Comment Section on the Internet™, where sanity reigns, Gloomy Guses and Debbie Downers are encouraged to see the light, and pie fights are forbidden.
To get us started, here’s some optimism — although rather tongue-in-cheek — from the Beatles:
Now on to the good news!
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Good news in politics
Biden Approval Back Up to 50 Percent After Recent Numbers Showing Him Well Underwater: NEW POLL
President Joe Biden has righted the ship with his job approval numbers — according to a new survey.
CBS and YouGov put out a poll, on Sunday, which reveals that Biden’s job approval stands at 50 percent. This stands in stark contrast with other prominent, recent data. A Sept. 22 Gallup poll put Biden at 43 percent approval, while a Quinnipiac survey from earlier this week found only 38 percent approve of the president’s job performance.
Crucially, the CBS poll finds that Biden is gaining traction with independents. Forty-five percent of independents approve of the president’s job performance, according to the new survey, while 55 percent disapprove. That number is still below water, but far better than what other recent polls have turned up for Biden.
I’m putting the next two stories, which could also fit in the categories of good national news and good environmental news respectively, here in the politics section because I believe both moves by the Biden administration will boost his popularity and strengthen his hand.
Historic increase in food stamp benefits starts in October
This is a well-researched article that deserves to be read in full. These changes are way overdue and will allow low-income families to begin to add to their diets the healthy fresh vegetables and fruit they haven’t been able to afford. However, more still needs to be done: “ ‘The Thrifty Food Plan is still really the bare minimum. What is the least amount of money that a family that is struggling would have to spend to have a healthy diet?’ said Lisa Davis, senior vice president at Share Our Strength, which seeks to end childhood hunger and poverty.”
Food stamp recipients will see their monthly payments go up in October thanks to a major update to the program, even though a special pandemic boost has now expired.
Benefits will jump 27% above pre-pandemic levels, on average — the largest increase in its history. The change stems from a revision of the Thrifty Food Plan, which determines the benefit amounts of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the formal name for food stamps.The update comes as part of a US Department of Agriculture review of the food stamp program required under the 2018 Farm Bill. The then-Republican-led Congress ordered the agency to reevaluate the plan by fiscal 2022 — and every five years thereafter. It was last adjusted in 2006.
Under the revision, which is permanent, beneficiaries will see a $36 hike in average monthly benefits. They received $121 per person before the coronavirus pandemic. [But additional policy changes, detailed in the article, will raise the average monthly benefit to $251 per person.]
Biden expands Bears Ears and other national monuments, reversing Trump cuts
I love this stunning desert land and its ancient culture with all my heart, so for me this is the best news in a long time. And the cherry on top of the sundae is that there’s now an extra 11,200 protected acres in Bears Ears because TFG tossed them in after gutting 85% of the total.
As the good folks at Future Crunch put it, “WTAF is wrong with people that try to strip protections from these places, seriously?”
From the Washington Post:
President Biden on Friday restored full protections to three national monuments that had been slashed in size by former president Donald Trump, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah — known for their stunning desert landscapes and historical treasures of Native American art and settlements, as well as a rich fossil record.
Biden used an executive order to protect 1.36 million acres in Bears Ears — slightly larger than the original boundary that President Barack Obama established in 2016 — while also restoring the 1.87 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante monument. Biden also reimposed fishing restrictions in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New England that Trump had opened to commercial fishing. ✂️
Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are both set amid sandstone canyons and vast mesas rich with cliff dwellings, rock art and dinosaur fossils.
The tribes that make up the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition — the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe and Pueblo of Zuni — consider this area sacred, and it is filled with remnants of settlements, rock paintings and pottery.
The tribal coalition had initially asked Obama to designate 1.9 million acres for Bears Ears, but he set the size at 1.35 million acres. Obama’s designation was done at the end of his presidency, and Trump soon broke the monument into two parcels, shrinking the site to about 228,000 acres. Trump also included new protections on a 11,200-acre parcel, which Biden included in his monument designation.
Elizabeth Warren was right about Facebook all along
Because of course she was. I’m so grateful we have her working for us! And may she prevail in her crusade to break up Big Tech.
The lesson of Monday’s outage is not that the world is too in the thrall of Facebook to do anything to fight back against its abuses, but the opposite. It’s an illustration that Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, as usual, is right: It’s time to break up Big Tech. ✂️
Warren’s plan to break up Big Tech [introduced during her 2020 campaign] was complex, involving both legislative and executive action. The former has no more chance of getting through the obstinate filibuster defense of Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona than any other meaningful legislation to save democracy. But the latter plan, to unleash federal regulators who will aggressively enforce existing antitrust laws against Big Tech companies, has gained traction, and in a surprisingly bipartisan fashion. In December, the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general in 48 states filed suit against Facebook, accusing the company of maintaining “its monopoly position by buying up companies that present competitive threats and by imposing restrictive policies that unjustifiably hinder actual or potential rivals that Facebook does not or cannot acquire.”
Looking out at the international damage done by a mere five-hour shortage of Facebook’s services proves the point of the lawsuit. As the New York Times reported, some people were literally unable to communicate with health care workers and some businesses lost total contact with customers because Facebook products have so completely monopolized communications in their communities.
Three stories in the category of “bad news for them is good news for us.”
Ohio Supreme Court rules GOP governor can be questioned under oath in gerrymandering suits
Gov. Mike DeWine (R), Senate President Matt Huffman, and other members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission can be questioned under oath as part of redistricting lawsuit proceedings, according to a new ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court.
On Thursday, October 7, the court ruled “that commission members’ attorneys must respond to plaintiff’s questions and document requests by Tuesday,” reports the Columbus-Dispatch. ✂️
The ruling follows lawsuits against the commission from several groups including the League of Women Voters of Ohio and National Redistricting Action Fund. The plaintiffs are accusing the Ohio panel of “unconstitutional gerrymandering in drawing and approving maps that preserve a Republican supermajority in both chambers.”
The lawsuits also highlight a number of discrepancies with the maps. “The lawsuits argue the maps don’t correspond to the statewide preferences of voters, a requirement added to the Constitution in 2015,” the publication writes. “The votes case in recent statewide elections average about 54% Republican and 46% Democratic, while the approved maps gave Republicans between 67% and 69% of legislative seats.”
Domestic abuse allegations plague multiple GOP candidates ahead of midterms
Domestic abuse is not attractive to voters, especially the women voters who are likely to vote in larger numbers than men in 2022. The GQP will spin and lie, but accusations like this tend to stick in voters’ minds.
From The American Independent:
Domestic abuse allegations are dogging a number of Republicans ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, with multiple GOP hopefuls in critical battleground races facing questions about past alleged conduct, which they have emphatically denied.
On Tuesday, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham accused former White House aide Max Miller [her ex-boyfriend, who is running for Congress from Ohio], a fellow Trump alum, of domestic violence… . ✂️
Trump-backed Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker has also been plagued with domestic violence allegations.
According to court records obtained by the Associated Press in July, Walker’s ex-wife accused him of pointing a gun at her head and saying, “I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out” prior to their divorce in 2002. ✂️
Republicans fear Missouri’s Senate seat, for instance, could be in play if [disgraced former Governor Eric] Greitens is the nominee. And the party is already worried that Walker imperils its chances of ousting Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia.
Skarlatos congressional candidate funds questioned
This is good political news from Oregon. Skarlatos, one of the two soldiers who famously helped disarm a terrorist on a Paris-bound train in 2015, has since become a common garden variety GQP candidate, i.e., greedy and corrupt. This matters because he’s trying for a second time to unseat Oregon’s truly heroic Rep. Peter DeFazio, and financial scandal will make it easier for him to defeat Skarlatos again.
Alek Skarlatos, a hero soldier-turned-Republican congressional candidate, started a nonprofit shortly after his 2020 defeat in western Oregon, pledging to advocate for veterans “left high and dry” by the country “they put their lives on the line for.”
The group, which Skarlatos seeded with $93,000 in leftover campaign funds, has done little since then to advance that cause.
What it has nurtured, though, are Skarlatos’ political ambitions, providing $65,000, records show, to his 2022 bid for a rematch with longtime Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio in a district stretching from the college town of Corvallis to the Oregon shore. It’s a seat that Republicans are targeting in their quest to win back the House.
Campaign finance laws prohibit candidates from self-dealing and from accepting illicit money from often opaque and less regulated world of political nonprofits. That includes a prohibition on candidates donating campaign cash to nonprofit groups they control, as well as a broader ban on accepting contributions from such groups, legal experts say. ✂️
“You can’t do that,” said Adav Noti, a former lawyer for the Federal Election Commission who now works for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington. “There’s serious corruption potential. The law contemplates that.”
And finally, an intriguing suggestion by political commentator E.J. Dionne, reported in Raw Story. What do you all think — is this smart politics or would it endanger the passage of the full Build Back Better bill?
Biden should bring up each individual piece of his plan to force Republicans to vote against it
Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne said that if President Joe Biden wants to play hardball with Republicans and conservatives like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), he should bring up each individual piece of the Build Back Better agenda.
A new YouGov poll was released this weekend revealing that the only things that Americans know about the BBB plan is that it will cost $3.5 trillion and that it would raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
When Americans hear about the specific pieces of the plan, however, they are overwhelmingly supportive of the plan. ✂️
…Dionne wrote that Biden should use a Harry Truman-move and push Republicans to say what they support and what they don’t. ✂️
“Do they want less child care? Less health coverage? More expensive drugs? No tax breaks under the child tax credit?” he asked. “And do recalcitrant Republican governors want an unending pandemic?”
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Good news from my corner of the world
Oregon Supreme Court Ruling Paves Way to Overturn State’s Remaining Death Sentences
Oregon voters have twice repealed the death penalty and twice reinstated it. I hope this ruling will nudge us back toward repeal.
From Willamette Week:
In a landmark decision that could mark the end of the state’s death row, the Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday vacated the death sentence of 50-year-old David Ray Bartol.
In 2016, a jury convicted Bartol, once a member of the Krude Rude Brood gang, of aggravated murder for fatally stabbing a fellow jail inmate…while awaiting trial for an unrelated case. As a result of the conviction, a Marion County circuit judge sentenced Bartol to death.
Then in 2019, the state Legislature passed Senate Bill 1013, which reclassified cases previously categorized as “aggravated murder” to “murder in the first degree,” which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. In other words, the bill effectively eliminated death sentences for most murder convictions in the state. ✂️
…Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson said in a statement Oct. 7 that today’s Supreme Court decision “all but promises” that anyone who was previously sentenced to death in Oregon under the earlier definition of aggravated murder can now seek resentencing. ✂️
Today’s decision does not mean Bartol will be released from custody anytime soon. In its opinion, the Supreme Court affirmed Bartol’s conviction and remanded his case to the Circuit Court for resentencing.
Oregon Recognizes Indigenous Peoples Day; Tribes See Hope
From The Skanner:
The second Monday in October, long celebrated as Columbus Day, will now officially be recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day in Oregon — a recognition of the Native American communities here long before Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas.
Among tribal leaders in Oregon, the change represents overdue recognition and hope for the future, as well as a feeling that more could be done to recognize and support Indigenous communities.
Oregon has many different Indigenous communities including nine federally recognized tribes…According to the 2020 census, there are 129,081 Oregonians who identify as full or part American Indian and Alaska Native, comprising 3.1% of the state’s population.
Roberta Frost, secretary of the Klamath Tribes tribal council, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that progress like this always moves in increments, and that the new Indigenous Peoples Day recognition is just one step in that process. “At some points in our history we were almost invisible, so this is a small step forward,” Frost said. “It’s not everything, but it’s an acknowledgement that we’re still here, we still have vibrant societies.”
Following Harassment Allegations, Thorns Fans Call for Merchandise Boycott and General Manager Resignation
Of course, the harassment story is not good news, but the fact that Portland Thorns and Timbers fans are fighting against the inaction of the team’s management is good news indeed.
From the Portland Mercury:
Portland Thorns and Timbers supporters are calling for a boycott of stadium concessions and club merchandise and the removal of Thorns general manager Gavin Wilkinson as the fallout from the Paul Riley abuse scandal continues.
“Our hearts and our actions are with Portland’s players — one hundred percent,” reads a letter signed Tuesday by the Rose City Riveters, the Timbers Army, and 107IST, the nonprofit that oversees the two groups. “Our trust, however, is utterly shattered, and it cannot be repaired until significant changes take place across all levels of the PTFC organization.” ✂️
Hours after the story [in The Athletic, detailing how Riley, a decorated manager in the National Women’s Soccer League harassed, intimidated, and sexually coerced players for years, including while he managed the Thorns] was published, the North Carolina Courage fired Riley, who was employed as the Courage’s head coach. NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird resigned the following day. But there has been no such accountability in Portland, despite the Thorns’ central role in the Riley saga.
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Good news from around the nation
Kids In Illinois Will Soon Be Able To Take 5 Mental Health Days From School
This makes so much sense and obviously should be the policy everywhere.
Students across Illinois will be able to take up to five excused mental health days starting in January.
Under a bill signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last month, students who decide to take a mental health day will not be required to provide their school with a doctor’s note and will be able to make up any work that was missed on their day off.
“Having this now for all students across the state will be really beneficial, especially with what’s going on with COVID,” State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, who co-sponsored the bill, told the Journal-Courier. “Many students feel stressed, and have developed anxiety and depression because they’re not able to see teachers and friends, and may have lower grades due to remote learning.” ✂️
Once a student requests a second mental health day, a school counselor will reach out to their family and the student may be referred to get professional help, according to the bill. ✂️
Illinois joins states such as Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Virginia that have passed similar bills over the last two years allowing students to be absent from school due to mental or behavioral health reasons, according to The New York Times.
American Business Leaders Step Up to Fight Inequities in the South
By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association, from The Skanner:
…a group of business leaders in the technology and investment sectors have embarked on a far-reaching – and perhaps unprecedented – campaign to address the social inequities and systemic racism that has historically plagued our country’s southern communities.
Known as the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI), the campaign was founded by financial technology company PayPal, the investment firm Vista Equity Partners (Vista), and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
SCI was formed to work with local elected officials and advocacy groups to tackle the ubiquitous problems of structural racism and inequalities facing communities of color in … Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Houston, Memphis, and New Orleans, [communities that are] home to around 50 percent of the country’s Black population and are where some of the greatest disparities exist. ✂️
In Atlanta, for example, SCI is working to bridge the wealth gap that exists among the region’s African American residents. … [by] working with the Southern Economic Advancement Project to create entrepreneurship hubs and accelerator programs to increase the number of minority-owned businesses.
In Alabama, SCI is seeking to bridge the massive digital divide in an urban area where 450,000 households are without connection to the internet. …[And in] Memphis, where 47 percent of Black households are underbanked, SCI is partnering with Grameen America to cover the $2 million per year per branch start-up cost to build brick-and-mortar banks in minority communities. This alone will provide 20,000 women access to more than $250 million per year in financing.
California will soon require free tampons in public schools
California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a bill signed Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons and other items.
California’s latest effort builds on a 2017 law requiring low-income schools in disadvantaged areas to provide students with free menstrual products.
It expands the law to include grades 6 to 12, community colleges and the California State University and University of California systems, starting in the 2022-23 school year. It encourages private schools and colleges to follow suit.
Largest library system in US eradicates late fees for good
From The Optimist Daily:
The New York Public Library system has joined the Boston Public Library System, Philadelphia Public Library System, and the Burbank Public Library System in nixing late fees, effective immediately. This includes erasing all the fines that library cardholders have accrued in the past for overdue or lost materials. ✂️
According to New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx, late fees are “an antiquated, ineffective way to encourage patrons to return their books; for those who can afford the fines, they are barely an incentive.”
On the flip side, for low-income New Yorkers, the fines “become a real barrier to access that we can no longer accept,” Marx adds. “This is a step towards a more equitable society, with more New Yorkers reading and using libraries, and we are proud to make it happen.”
The movement to eradicate late fees has proven to be successful in the past. For instance, when the Chicago Public Library eliminated fines back in 2019, public libraries experienced a surge in returned materials and library card renewals. Hopefully, more library systems see the value of making such a change and will take the necessary steps to make library resources more equitable for all.
Superman Comes Out, as DC Comics Ushers In a New Man of Steel
This made me smile. Wow, have times changed since I was a pre-teen consumer of comics!
From The NY Times:
Up, up and out of the closet!
The new Superman, Jonathan Kent — who is the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane — will soon begin a romantic relationship with a male friend, DC Comics announced Monday.
That same-sex relationship is just one of the ways that Jonathan Kent, who goes by Jon, is proving to be a different Superman than his famous father. Since his new series, Superman: Son of Kal-El, began in July, Jon has combated wildfires caused by climate change, thwarted a high school shooting and protested the deportation of refugees in Metropolis.
“The idea of replacing Clark Kent with another straight white savior felt like a missed opportunity,” Tom Taylor, who writes the series, said in an interview. He said that a “new Superman had to have new fights — real world problems — that he could stand up to as one of the most powerful people in the world.”
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Good news from around the world
Brazil court upholds ban on missionaries trying to contact isolated Indigenous people
This story is a nice companion piece to news about Indigenous People’s Day.
- Brazil’s highest court has upheld a ban on missionaries entering reserves that are home to isolated and recently contacted Indigenous people during the pandemic.
- The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Indigenous organizations against a law passed in July 2020 that allowed missionaries to remain inside these reserves despite the pandemic, in violation of Brazil’s official policy in place since 1987.
- According to Indigenous organizations, it’s crucial to reaffirm the non-contact policy under the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro that has pushed to “integrate” Indigenous people into society, and has been cozy with the evangelical movement.
- Besides the risk of disease spread, the presence of missionaries in these reserves undermines traditional cultures and social cohesion, and compels these nomadic communities to settle down, making the land more vulnerable to invasions by illegal ranchers and loggers, activists say.
‘Hard-won victory’ – European Parliament opens EU courts to environmental defenders
In a final vote, a sweeping majority of MEPs agreed to amend EU access to justice law the Aarhus Regulation, enabling NGOs and individuals to challenge many more EU decisions that break environmental law than was previously possible under EU law.
Until now, only NGOs could use the Aarhus Regulation, and only to challenge a very limited number of EU decisions – such as some Commission authorisations to use chemicals.
These restrictions have now been removed, meaning that decisions including authorisations for harmful pesticides, the limitation of emissions for diesel vehicles or the setting of fishing limits are now open to public scrutiny and challenge.
ClientEarth environmental democracy lawyer Anne Friel said:
“This is an historic moment that gives civil society a voice in the EU courts to protect the environment. Members of the public will now be able to hold EU institutions to account on their various obligations to fight climate change and biodiversity loss. It is an extra tool that will be crucial to enforce environmental laws and ensure EU decisions do not contradict the EU Green Deal.”
A global citizens’ assembly will be chosen for Cop26
This is a very hopeful sign that citizen input is beginning to be taken seriously.
From Positive News:
…most ordinary folk wouldn’t dream of having a place at the UN’s annual climate summit.
But this year, that’s exactly who is being invited: 100 individuals from across the globe. In a first for the Conference of the Parties, a group of demographically representative people will be chosen to contribute to online discussions held during the summit, which takes place between 31 October and 12 November.
A lottery system is being used to select them. Sixty will hail from Asia, 17 from Africa, and those who earn less than $10 (£7.35) a day will comprise 70 of the 100. Half will be women.
In order to ensure all have equal access, a stipend will be offered, as well as communications and technical assistance, plus translation services.
At the online launch of the assembly this week, Bob Watson, chair of one of the group’s governing committees, said: “Your voices represent the people of the world, and it is vital that governments and the business community hear your concerns – they need to listen to you.”
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Good news in science and medicine
A ‘Historic Event’: First Malaria Vaccine Approved by W.H.O.
This story was highlighted earlier by 2thanks in his Sunday GNR and by Andrew Cockburn in a comment, but I think it’s important enough to bring up again. A vaccine for malaria is truly good news of historic proportions.
From the New York Times:
The world has gained a new weapon in the war on malaria, among the oldest known and deadliest of infectious diseases: the first vaccine shown to help prevent the disease. By one estimate, it will save tens of thousands of children each year.
Malaria kills about half a million people each year, nearly all of them in sub-Saharan Africa — including 260,000 children under 5. The new vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, rouses a child’s immune system to thwart Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of five malaria pathogens and the most prevalent in Africa.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday endorsed the vaccine, the first step in a process that should lead to wide distribution in poor countries. To have a malaria vaccine that is safe, moderately effective and ready for distribution is “a historic event,” said Dr. Pedro Alonso, director of the W.H.O.’s global malaria program.
Naturally Occurring Antibiotic Kills Lyme Disease and Nothing Else: A Potential Breakthrough Treatment
From Good News Network:
Researchers studying naturally occurring antibiotics have isolated one which eradicated the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, potentially offering a revolutionary treatment for the pathogen in both humans, and the natural environment.
Hygromycin A, which the scientists found in a screen of soil microbes, was found to clear the infection of B. burgdorferi, the bacteria found in tiny worm-like parasites which cause much of the worst effects of the disease, without harming the rest of the microbiome in live mice and human cells. ✂️
After infecting mice with B. burgdorferi, hygromycin A, was administered twice a day for five days. Using a PCR test which stimulates rapid replication of even single cells, the treatment proved to clear every last trace of the infection.
Furthermore, in vitro tests on human cells found that even at completely unnecessarily-high doses, its therapeutic index was up there with some of the safest over-the-counter medicines.
Nacre inspires the toughest glass ever made
The more we can follow nature’s lead in our innovations, the better.
Researchers have developed a stronger and tougher glass, inspired by nacre in the inner layer of mollusk shells. Instead of shattering upon impact, the new material has the resiliency of plastic and could be used to improve cell phone screens in the future, among other applications. ✂️
“Until now there were trade-offs between high strength, toughness, and transparency. Our new material is not only three times stronger than the normal glass, but also more than five times more fracture resistant,” says Allen Ehrlicher, an associate professor in the bioengineering department at McGill University.
Drawing inspiration from nature, the scientist created a new glass and acrylic composite material that mimics nacre or mother of pearl.
“Nature is a master of design. Studying the structure of biological materials and understanding how they work offers inspiration, and sometimes blueprints, for new materials,” Ehrlicher says.
DeepMind’s AI predicts almost exactly when and where it’s going to rain
Imagine being able to know before leaving the house whether or not it’s going to rain in the next hour! That would be a game-changer for us dog owners who like to take long walks with our rain-intolerant pups.
From MIT Technology Review:
London-based AI firm DeepMind is continuing its run applying deep learning to hard science problems. Working with the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service, DeepMind has developed a deep-learning tool called DGMR that can accurately predict the likelihood of rain in the next 90 minutes—one of weather forecasting’s toughest challenges.
In a blind comparison with existing tools, several dozen experts judged DGMR’s forecasts to be the best across a range of factors—including its predictions of the location, extent, movement, and intensity of the rain—89% of the time. The results were published in a Nature paper [on September 29th]. ✂️
DeepMind’s collaboration with the Met Office is a good example of AI development done in collaboration with the end user, something that seems like an obviously good idea but often does not happen. The team worked on the project for several years, and input from the Met Office’s experts shaped the project.
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Good news for the environment
Federal Judge Overturns Oil, Gas Lease Sales on 58,000 Acres of Public Lands in Colorado
From the Center for Biological Diversity:
[On September 28th] a federal judge overturned the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s decision to lease 58,000 acres of public land in western Colorado for oil and gas extraction, agreeing with conservation groups that fracking and drilling will worsen air quality in a region where smog levels have exceeded federal pollution standards and threaten public health.
U.S. District Judge Marcia S. Krieger also found that federal officials under the Trump administration ignored new information that the area included lands with wilderness characteristics and relied on an outdated analysis, violating federal environmental laws. The wild landscapes include undeveloped areas near Dinosaur National Monument that are entitled to protection. The judge sent the leases back to the BLM for additional review.
“This is a huge win for public health and the wild places of Colorado that deserve protection,” said Diana Dascalu-Joffe, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The judge’s careful ruling honors the people who breathe this dangerous air every day. Fossil fuel extraction poses a grave threat to everyone, particularly the most vulnerable. It’s a disaster for people and the planet.”
Solar-Powered Desalination Device Will Turn Sea Water Into Fresh Water For 400,000 People
From Good News Network:
Solar Water Solutions (SWS), a Finnish water technology company, has come as close as anyone to being able to offer the world essentially unlimited fresh water through its unique, zero-emissions, zero-running cost, and non-polluting desalination technology.
Now it’s being deployed, thanks to backing from the Dutch group Climate Fund Managers, in Kitui County, Kenya as part of a long-term goal to provide water for 400,000 rural Kenyans by 2023.
SWS has packed up their desalination plant into a shipping container, making it easy and efficient to ship 200 units to the shores of Kitui, where the technology will convert between 4,000 and 7,000 liters per hour from seawater, or 10,000 liters per hour from brackish water, powered entire by solar panels.
California sets nation’s strictest rules on recycling labels
Californians will have a better idea of what’s headed for landfills instead of recycling centers under one of several related bills that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Tuesday.
It sets the nation’s strictest standards for which items can display the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol, advocates say.
Consumers assume that the symbol showing three circular arrows means that items should go into curbside recycling bins, California’s Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling said earlier this year. It recommended that the symbol “be reserved for materials which are accepted in curbside bins and do not cause contamination.”
“It’s dishonest, it’s not fair to companies that have invested in actually making their products recyclable, and it’s not fair to consumers who pay more for something that they think will be better for the environment,” said Californians Against Waste Director of Advocacy Nick Lapis.
Cornwall hospital turns disposable masks into litter-pickers
From Optimist Daily:
Disposable surgical masks are a prevalent problem worldwide due to the pandemic. … The Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro is doing its best to turn this problem around by transforming used masks into litter pickers, which they then provide to all 332 schools and colleges in Cornwall.
Tanya Cowling from Sterile Services at the Royal Cornwall Hospital explains how they turn the masks into useful devices that help reduce the problem of litter in general. “Obviously,” she says, “we need to remove the ear straps and the wire that sits over your nose. Then that all gets melted down and that makes one of the big blocks which then gets taken away and grounded down into plastic granules and repurposed.”
One litter picker requires 45 masks.
Sustainability lead at Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust Roz Davies says that “pre-Covid [they] were using about 300 masks a day… and then Covid struck and that increased to 10,000 a day, and [they] used to have massive piles of masks in the bin.”
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Good news for and about animals
Brought to you by Rosy, Nora, and Rascal.
Here’s Rosy’s pick. She has a lot of respect for her wolf cousins, and besides, OR-93 is an extremely handsome fellow.
Oregon wolf’s epic trip to Southern California could be among the century’s longest
An Oregon gray wolf’s epic walkabout in Southern California is pushing the boundaries of the endangered species’ range.
In late September, California wildlife officials received three reports of gray wolf sightings in Ventura County – one county up the coast from Los Angeles near the Los Padres National Forest. California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff then found recent wolf tracks in the same area.
The wolf is believed to be OR-93, a 2-year-old male from the White River pack, whose territory covers part of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation near Mount Hood.
“If this is OR-93, he’s traveled the farthest south we’ve seen since 1922 when one was captured in San Bernardino,” said Jordan Traverso, a spokesperson for the California wildlife agency. ✂️
…wolves are still protected as an endangered species at the state level in California. All of California was historically gray wolf habitat.✂️
Defenders of Wildlife has been pressing the Biden administration to restore federal protections for gray wolves.
Rare video of Chinese mountain cat
Nora was delighted to find this video about the Chinese mountain cat, aka Chinese desert cat — though she does take exception to the statement that this cat is “under second-class national protection”! Obviously, it deserves first class, like all cats.
Here’s Rascal’s pick. He remembered that niftywriter had celebrated Monty and Rose, the pair of Piping Plovers [say that fast!] who made history two years ago when they were found nesting in Chicago. Now one of their sons is producing his own offspring.
Piping Plovers had a big summer.
Not so long ago, Piping Plovers had all but disappeared from the Great Lakes region, and their numbers were in significant decline in the Northern Great Plains and along the Atlantic Coast. But thanks to protections since 1985 under the Endangered Species Act and a concerted effort from conservation groups across the country, things are looking up for these adorable little beach-dwellers.
This spring, a pair of Piping Plovers nested in Ohio for the first time in 83 years. Named Nish and Nellie, the couple raised a quartet of chicks in Maumee Bay State Park on the shores of Lake Erie. Nish, the male, is the product of another success story. His parents, Monty and Rose, made history two years ago as the first Piping Plovers to nest in Chicago since the 1950s. Their love story is even immortalized in two documentaries, the latest of which premiered last week.
In total, 124 wild Piping Plover chicks fledged in the Great Lakes region this year, the most since 2018. And there were more than 900 plover nests in New England, blowing past the government’s recovery goal of 625.
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reasonstobecheerful.world/… The Movement to Give ‘Personhood’ Rights to Animals. ”Expanding the definition of legal personhood is not at all unprecedented. The U.S. has done it many times over, to include slaves, women, children, even corporations.”
www.positive.news/… Why London’s cabbies are being hailed for brain research. Memorizing how to get to any address in London actually increases the size of the part of their brains that Alzheimer’s shrinks.
reasonstobecheerful.world/… Building an Athletics-to-Med-School Pipeline for Black Men. ”Focus, teamwork, grit: High-performing athletes possess many of the attributes physicians need — and could be the key to getting more Black men into medicine.”
www.smithsonianmag.com/…How Artificial Intelligence Completed Beethoven’s Unfinished Tenth Symphony. Watch for the recording!
www.nationalgeographic.com/…‘Magic’ mirror in Elizabethan court has mystical Aztec origin. A fascinating glimpse into a little-known aspect of the Elizabethan court.
www.theatlantic.com/…The Nasty Logistics of Returning Your Too-Small Pants. ”What happens to the stuff you order online after you send it back?”
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Wherever is herd…
A tip of the hat to 2thanks for creating this handy info sheet for all Gnusies new and old!
Morning Good News Roundups at 7 x 7: These Gnusies lead the herd at 7 a.m. ET, 7 days a week:
- The Monday GNR Newsroom (Jessiestaf, Killer300, and Bhu). With their five, we survive and thrive.
- Alternating Tuesdays: NotNowNotEver and arhpdx.
- Wednesdays: niftywriter.
- Thursdays: Mokurai the 1st and 2nd Thursdays, WineRev the 3rd, MCUBernieFan the 4th, and Mokurai the 5th (when there is one).
- Fridays: chloris creator. Regular links to the White House Briefing Room.
- Saturdays: GoodNewsRoundup. Heart-stirring and soul-healing introduction and sometimes memes to succumb to.
- Sundays: 2thanks. A brief roundup of Roundups, a retrospective, a smorgasbord, a bulletin board, an oasis, a watering hole, a thunder of hooves, a wellness, a place for beginners to learn the rules of the veldt.
hpg posts Evening Shade diaries at 7:30 p.m. ET every day! After a long day, Gnusies meet in the evening shade and continue sharing Good News, good community, and good actions. In the words of NotNowNotEver: “hpg ably continues the tradition of Evening Shade.” Find Evening Shades here.
For more information about the Good News group, please see our detailed Welcoming comment, one of the first comments in our morning diaries.
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How to Resist: Do Something …
Here’s a great suggestion that Progressive Muse posted in a comment on Sunday. Hearing from us by mail might get their attention!
…here is the address for the Postal Regulatory Commission if you’d like to piggyback on the attorneys generals’ complaint and send the PRC a friendly note about firing DeJoy:
Postal Regulatory Commission
901 New York Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20268
The following invaluable list was put together by chloris creator:
Propaganda, false characterizations, intentionally misleading messages, and outright lies threaten our democracy and even our lives. We can effectively combat disinformation, despite the well-funded machines that drive it. They may have money, but we have truth and we have people. People believe sources they trust. When we share and amplify unified, factual messages to those who trust us, we shift the narrative. When we do this by the thousands–we’re part of the Indivisible Truth Brigade, and we get our country back. Join us.️
Our own Mokurai is a member. You can see his diary on the California recall here.
From GoodNewsRoundup (aka Goodie):
- Run for something! Seriously? Why not you?
- Get involved with the Democratic party. We aren’t perfect, but they are fucking evil.
- Get involved with Swing Left. They are working on races right now!
- Get involved with Postcards to voters! Influence voters in key areas from the comfort of your own home!
- Donate to the AMAZING Florida Rights Restoration! They are taking buses around Florida to empower returning citizens, remove financial barriers to voting, and increase public safety. They are really amazing
- Make phone calls FROM YOUR OWN HOME to protect voter rights. There are phone banks on Wednesdays and on Saturdays.
- The ACLU plays a key role in filing lawsuits that often stop voter suppression. Get involved with them at this link.
- The League of Women Voters work year-round to combat voter suppression through advocacy, grassroots organizing, legal action and public education. You can get involved with them at this link
- Volunteer with Black Votes Matter at this link. They have on the ground work in 10 states and people from other states can write postcards, phone bank, fundraise, and text.
- Spread The Vote works to get voters IDs before voting begins. You can volunteer with them at this link.
- Sign up at Democracy Docket to stay informed about the fight against voter suppression and the fight for voter rights.
Most important: DON’T LOSE HOPE. This is a giant and important fight for us but, win or lose, we keep fighting and voting and organizing and spreading truth and light. We never give up.
And one more suggestion from Goodie, from her GNR last Saturday. If you have any money to spare, this is a great use for it!
Donate to Act Blue TODAY! We are losing our voter registration advantage SPECIFICALLY in states where they are making it hard to register voters (states we need). This is not a coincidence. We can’t let that happen. With hard work, we can turn this around!!! They may cheat but we can FIGHT!
Donate here: secure.actblue.com/…
Here’s a wonderful rendition of “Chan Chan,” a song made famous by the Buena Vista Social Club. It’ll send you off into your day with a smile. Singer Teté Caturla García is a special treat.
❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
Thanks to all of you for your smarts, your hearts, and
your faithful attendance at our daily Gathering of the Herd.
❤️💙 RESIST, PERSIST, REBUILD, REJOICE! 💙❤️
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.