This Week’s GOOD NEWS From Around the World (December 31st/16)

Animals and Environment

China to Halt All Domestic Ivory Trade by End of Year

This Friday, China announced that it would completely shut down its domestic ivory trade by 2017. Biologists and environmentalists are hailing the announcement as a “game changer” for dwindling elephant populations in Africa. After years of international pressure and changing public attitudes toward ivory, China will cease all ivory trade by December 31st of the coming year. (WashingtonPost.com)

Endangered Ocelot Kittens Found for First Time in Decades


Conservationists were celebrating on Wednesday after litters of endangered Ocelot kittens were discovered in a wildlife refuge in south Texas. According to the scientists, four new kittens from three separate mothers were found. This marks the first time in nearly 20 years that newborn kittens have been sighted. (NationalGeographic.com)

The Year’s Best Wildlife Photos

End your 2016 on a high note with the Guardian’s breathtaking gallery of the best wildlife photographs of the year. With subjects ranging from sea life to reptiles to insects, these photographs showcase the wonder of nature, and are certainly motivation enough to continue conservation efforts. (TheGuardian.com)

New Eagle Born in Time for New Year’s

The Southwest Florida Eagle Cam captured the birth of a newborn bald eagle just in time for 2017. At 7:33AM on December 31st, a new eaglet named E9 emerged from his shell. The nest contains another egg and wildlife experts will be eagerly awaiting the hatch of the young eagle’s sibling. (SanLuisObispo.com)


Tech and Medicine

Robots Learned New Skills in 2016

Here’s a cool list of all the innovative skills that robots learned in 2016. This year robots have done everything from jump record heights to help humans heal from injury. Even the nature of robotic machinery is changing, with the first completely soft robot being introduced this year. (LiveScience.com)

Robotic “Skin” Might Be the Next Step in Sensitive Prosthetics

Researchers at China’s Harbin Institute of Technology are working on a type of electronic “skin” that could help robots feel their surroundings more accurately – and could perhaps one day be used to create prosthetic limbs that better emulate the sense of touch that human skin allows. The tech skin, like human skin, relies on tiny, hair-like sensors that together allow for the covered robot or limb to feel even a slight breeze. (LiveScience.com)

Hubble Telescope Ends The Year With a Bang

The Hubble telescope’s last image transmission of 2016 included a gorgeous photo of a megamaser – that is, a galaxy that emits huge amounts of microwave radiation. While Hubble has taken previous photos of this incredible phenomenon, the last batch of visuals includes the most detailed image yet seen, showing scientists that the megamaser is actually made of two colliding galaxies. (CNET.com)

Companies Using Lab-Grown Human Skin Instead of Animal Testing

Animal testing in the cosmetics industry has long been a topic of controversy. One company in Boston is helping to remove animals from the equation – by growing patches of human skin, and sending them to companies for testing. MatTek creates lab-grown pieces of a variety of human tissue types using cell samples derived from surgical waste. Not only is the process much more humane than using animals like rabbits, but it provides a more accurate look at how products will affect human consumers. (Wired.com)


Miscellaneous Good News

The BBC’s Four Best Things to Happen in 2016

Here’s a list of at least four major bits of good news that you might have missed during the year. Among them is the peace deal that was finally reached in Cuba after half a century of conflict. In a historical move, the government of Cuba opted to allow the families of war victims to sit in on peace negotiations. (BBC.com)

Ireland to Give High-Schoolers Mental Health Education

Helen McEntee, the Irish Minister for Mental Health and Older People, has announced a new plan to give secondary school students a mandatory 300 hours of education and training in mental health. The plan is to have the classes act as a “preventative measure,” giving vulnerable teens the tools and resources they need to maintain psychological well-being. (Independent.ie)

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Dallas Jeffs is a freelance writer, art school grad and lover of all things sci-fi. Visit her personal website HappySpaceNoises for book and art reviews, or follow her on Twitter.