This Week’s GOOD NEWS From Around the World (January 14, 2017)

Animals and the Environment

New Program Speeds up Process of Discovering Biofuel Algaes

Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are hard at work, trying to home in on specific species of algae that could eventually be used to make biofuel. Now, the Algae DISCOVR (Development of Integrated Screening, Cultivar Optimization and Validation Research) Project is trying a new $6 million pilot project that should reduce the cost and time of the endeavor, hopefully leading to more sustainable fuel in the nearer future. (ScienceDaily.com)

UK Government Moves to Protect Kittens


The UK government has altered its laws in order to better protect kittens. While previous government policy contained a loophole that allowed cats to be sold without a license, leading to poor breeding practices that frequently exploited and mistreated the animals, now, after much fighting by Labour M.P. Rob Marris, the loophole has been closed. (Telegraph.co.uk)

Australian Researchers Observe Rare Sea Dragon in the Wild

Researchers in Australia recently spotted two individual specimens of a rare breed of sea dragon that has never before been observed in the wild. The ruby sea dragon was originally thought to be a common sea dragon, before being reclassified in 2015 by PhD student Josefin Stiller. (CBC.ca)


Health and Medicine

CVS Pharmacies Offer More Affordable EpiPen Alternative

CVS pharmacies throughout the US are now selling a generic version of the emergency allergy medication EpiPen for just one sixth of the brand-name cost. The makers of EpiPen have been embroiled in controversy of late over the skyrocketing prices of the potentially life-saving medication. CVS’ version, Adrenaclick, will sell for just over $100 USD. (Boston.CBSLocal.com)

Life Expectancy for HIV Patients Continues to Improve

Treatments for patients with HIV have advanced to the point where the average life expectancy for American patients with and without the disease is nearly equal. The results of a 15-year study by Kaiser Permanente showed a dramatic increase in the life expectancy of HIV patients between 1996 and 2011. While a gap still exists, more and more HIV patients are living well into old age. (HealthLine.com)

ElliQ is Alexa for Seniors

The popularity of the voice-responsive home assistant Amazon Alexa has led an Israeli robotics startup to create ElliQ, a virtual assistant to help seniors take care of themselves and continue to live in their own homes. Intuition Robotics calls ElliQ an “active aging companion.” While the product is still in its prototype phase, the Verge describes the concept as “noble.” (TheVerge.com)


Human Interest

Stolen Newborn Found Alive and Healthy 18 Years Later

A newborn baby stolen from her parents 18 years ago was found alive and well, living in South Carolina. Kamiyah Mobley was abducted from the hospital where she was born in the summer of 1998. Thanks to a tip, the young woman was recently discovered, still living with her abductor whom she had previously assumed was her biological parent. (BBC.com)


Tech Innovations

Inflatable Backpack Saves Snowboarder

A high-tech inflatable backpack saved a snowboarder’s life. Tom Oye was boarding in Whistler, BC, when an avalanche began to slide under his snowboard. Thanks to the Black Diamond airbag pack, Oye was able to stay on top of the snow as it slid down the mountain, coming to a safe stop. (CNET.com)

Facebook Announces Efforts to Improve News Literacy

On Wednesday, Facebook announced the start of its Journalism Project, an attempt to forge a higher quality relationship with news media, and to give users better and easier access to news. The social media site also claimed that it would be working with third parties to encourage news literacy amongst users and to further crack down on so-called “fake news.” (TheGlobeandMail.com)

Scientists Develop Flame Retardant Lithium Ion Batteries

Good news for smartphone and hoverboard enthusiasts: scientists may have figured out how to make lithium ion batteries less flammable. The secret is a tiny sheet of microscopic fibers that are imbued with a flame retardant. Simply adding this small bit of material to a traditional battery was shown to extinguish the beginnings of a fire in less than one second.  (ScienceNews.org)