This Week’s Good News From Around The World (February 11th, 2017)

Animals and the Environment

British Supermarkets Feed Bees With Discarded Sugar

Tesco supermarkets are offering a solution for British beekeepers facing a winter nectar shortage. The shops are shipping unused sugar, from bakeries and split bags, to beekeepers in order to keep honey bees fed throughout the cold season. This trial is the first of its kind, and presents a possible solution to both bee famine and some food waste. (TheGuardian.com)

World’s Rarest Boa Spotted Alive in The Wild


64 years after its initial discovery, a rare species of boa has been spotted alive in Brazil. The Cropan’s Boa was first observed in 1953 and is native to Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, a forest that is currently heavily threatened by deforestation. A female of the species was spotted by local farmers in January, a call that was confirmed by excited herpetologists. (NationalGeographic.com)

Lake Tahoe Fills With Over 8 Billion Gallons of Water

Lake Tahoe reported a gain of 8.7 billion gallons of water in just two days, according to a report by the National Weather Service. Thanks to several winter storms that hit in December, the lake filled almost enough to meet its natural rim. Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the United States and sits on the border between California and Nevada. (Forbes.com)


Human Interest

Syrian Family Finds Home in Lancaster, PA

Here’s the story of one Syrian family who have found a home in the United States. Rander and Maher Almahasneh currently reside in Lancaster, PA, where they say they have been welcomed by local citizens. Though the community is known for being politically conservative, not all citizens agree with the U.S. president’s recent attempts to impose a travel ban on Syria and 6 other predominantly Muslim countries. (WashingtonPost.com)

Teacher Creates Calming Chairs for Children With Autism

A teacher in One Round Lake, Illinois, has invented a chair that uses tennis balls to create a sense of “sensory regulation” for students with autism. Amy Maplethorpe is a speech-language pathologist at Raymond Ellis Elementary. She says that she got the idea for the chairs after seeing a post on Pinterest, and that they’ve already helped to make a difference for some students. (ABCNews.go.com)

New Zealand Will Erase Criminal Records of Homosexuality

New Zealand men who were convicted of homosexuality during a time when it was still seen as a crime will soon have the opportunity to have their criminal records erased. Justice Amy Adams noted that those convicted of indecency, sodomy and homosexuality would be pardoned, though the justice system would be unable to provide monetary compensation. (Independent.co.uk)


Science and Medicine

Scientists Map Quinoa Gene Sequence for A More Resilient Crop

Scientists are sequencing the genetic codes of quinoa to create a crop that could stave off a looming food shortage. Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology have created the highest quality quinoa genome sequence, providing insights into how selective breeding and genetic modification could make the crop cheaper and even more resilient. (Telegraph.co.uk)

Plant Known As a Weed Could Be New Line of Defense Against Superbugs

Compounds produced by the berries of the Brazilian peppertree may be a valuable tool in the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The berries, which are known in some parts of the southern United States as an unwanted weed, have been shown in studies to neutralize harmful bacteria by “disarming” the organisms, stopping communication between individual bacteria, rather than killing them. (NBCNews.com)

Scientists Developing Faster, Easier Ebola Tests

Researchers are working on developing faster and simpler tests for detecting Ebola. The most common tests current require a full day to test a blood sample in a specialized laboratory. Scientists are working on perfecting methods that would require only a few drops of blood, and could be a simple as taking a home pregnancy test. (ScienceNews.org)

Cold Plasma Could Kill Norovirus

German researchers have found that blasting contaminated objects and surfaces with cold plasma effectively destroys norovirus. The virus is currently known as the most common cause  of gastroenteritis, a gastrointestinal illness that affects millions each year. Cold plasma has already been identified as an effective way to kill microbes, but its effect on viruses was unclear. (InnovationToronto.com)