This Week’s Good News From Around The World (January 21st, 2016)

Animals and the Environment

Peruvian Conservationists to Release Half a Million Baby Turtles

Peru plans to release 500,000 yellow-spotted Amazon River turtles by the middle of November. The turtles are currently classified as a vulnerable species and are protected by Peruvian authorities. After collecting thousands of eggs throughout August, the National Service of Protected Natural Areas by the State (SERNANP) released 17,000 baby turtles last weekend in the hopes of sustaining a population of the species. (CNN.com)

Norway Announces $400 Million Fund to Preserve Brazil’s Rainforests


This Thursday, Norway announced its plan to raise $400 million in funds to discourage the destruction of rainforests in Brazil. The plan is also being backed by corporations Unilever and Nestle. Designed as part of a global initiative to help rainforested regions uphold their commitment to the Paris Agreement, the fund will help to reform harmful farming practices. (TheLocal.no)

China Scraps Plans for Coal; Invests in Renewable Energy

China’s National Energy Administration has announced that construction plans for 85 new coal power plants are being scrapped in favor of renewable sources of energy. According to Greenpeace, the new plan is to invest 2.5 trillion Yuan (around $361 billion USD) into renewable energy as part of the nation’s Five Year Plan to reduce carbon emissions. (Independent.co.uk)

Obama Donates $500 Million to Green Climate Fund Before Leaving Office

Just three days before the inauguration of Donald Trump, President Obama made a final effort to keep the Paris Agreement intact by transferring a sum of $500 million to the Green Climate Fund. The fund was established in 2010 as a way for wealthy countries to pool resources in order to aid developing nations with the implementation of greener technology and infrastructure. The U.S. had pledged to donate a total of $3 billion, but payments are expected to cease when Trump takes office. (TheGuardian.com)


Human Interest and Politics

Yidan Prize Will Offer $8 Million to Research in Education

Charles Chen Yidan, a Chinese technology billionaire and founder of the Internet company Tencent, has announced that he will be funding the world’s most valuable education prize. Called the Yidan Prize, the award is worth the equivalent of $8 million and will fund two educational research projects each year. The research projects in question will be aimed at innovation in the field of education. (BBC.com)

Raising Awareness for HIV-Preventative Drug

The CDC is planning a campaign to raise awareness for the drug Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that is highly effective in preventing HIV infection. While PrEP has been available in the United States since 2012, however it was initially prioritized as a preventative measure for men who have sex with men. Health initiatives are now realizing the importance  of getting the drug to women and other persons who are at high risk of contracting HIV. (NPR.org)

Grade 11 Students in Oklahoma Can Take SAT for Free

Public school students in the state of Oklahoma will now be able to take the SAT or ACT college-entrance exams for free. The state superintendent announced that schools would be extending the 2015-2016 pilot program which saw a drastic increase in the number of students who took the exam. Currently, this program is aimed specifically at high school juniors, or students in grade 11. (KFOR.com)


Technology

Socratic App Offers Better Homework Help

A new app called Socratic may prove a useful tool for helping middle and high school students better understand math homework. Instead of simply telling the user the answer to a question, Socratic walks the student through the steps and work required to get to the answer, teaching students a level of understanding that they may not be getting in the classroom, and certainly wouldn’t get from Google. (TheVerge.com)


Science and Medicine

Alzheimer’s Drug Found to Promote Tooth Regrowth

A team of researchers at King’s College in London have noticed that a drug Tideglusib may help regrow human teeth, and eventually could eliminate the need for dental fillings. The drug, which is currently in trials as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, is found to stimulate the stem cells in the teeth to produce more dentin, the hard outer shell of your teeth. So far, the procedure for using the drug as a filling alternative has been successfully tested in mouse teeth. (Telegraph.co.uk)

Robotic Heart-Hugger Could Revolutionize Heart Failure Treatment

Scientists have developed a new robotic sheath that could someday revolutionize how we care for patients with heart failure. The device is made from a soft material that texturally resembles the tissue of the heart. Wrapped around a failing heart, the device would keep the patient’s heart pumping by applying strategic pressure and suction – a method that comes with less risk of infection and clotting than current treatments. (Sciencemag.org)

Elephant Protein May Help Destroy Cancer Cells in Humans

Researchers at the Hunstman Cancer Institute in Utah have isolated a protein found in elephants that may be capable of destroying cancer cells in humans. The protein, called P-53, was exposed to human cancer cells in a petri dish, and scientists quickly saw the cancer cells die off. According to the researchers, due to the large number of cells in an elephant’s body, the animals should logically have a high incidence of cancer – P-53 may be the reason why cancer is, in fact, very rare in elephants. (KSL.com)