This Week’s Good News From Around the World (March 25th, 2017)

People

Google Donates Money to Education Non-Profits


Google.org, the philanthropic branch of Google, has given $50 million dollars in grant money to several non-profit organizations who are working in the tech and education sectors. The goal is to increase access to quality education materials in developing areas, and to help children in conflict-torn countries continue to attain schooling. [TechCrunch.com]


Animals and The Environment

Madison Pledges to Switch to 100% Renewable Energy

The city of Madison, Wisconsin has committed to switching to 100 percent renewable energy over the next few years. Madison officials allocated $250,000 to the development of a plan of action which will be finished by January 18th, 2018. The announcement makes Madison the largest – but not the only – city in the American midwest that is pledging environmental awareness even in light of the new president’s backward views on climate change. [Inhabitat.com]

Zero-Emission Train to Start Operation in Germany

A new, zero-emission high-speed train has completed its first test run in Germany. The train is powered entirely by a hydrogen fuel cell, and is expected to be put into commercial operation in Lower Saxony, Germany, later this year – following more trail runs. By drawing and converting power from the surrounding atmosphere, the train can reach speeds of up to 87 miles per hour. [DigitalTrends.com]

Electric Trucks Take to LA Highways

Siemens has developed a series of electrical trucks that are powered with a series of trolley rails akin to those used by many ruban public transportation systems. The trucks have been tested in Sweden, and now the company is adding electrified cables over sections  of highway near Los Angeles, California. [DigitalTrends.com]

Indian Court Gives Human Rights to Ganges, Yamuna

A court in Uttarakhand, a state in the north of India, has declared that the Ganges and Yamuna rivers have the same rights as a human, and that anyone caught doing harm to these rivers should be punished with the same measures as if they had harmed another person. This comes on the heels of the declaration that the Whanganui River in New Zealand would also be granted “human” rights. [TheHimalayanTimes.com]

Parrot, Previously Thought Extinct, Spotted in Australia

Birdwatchers in Western Australia recently caught sight of a bird so rare that it was thought to be extinct. The Night Parrot, a bright green bird native to northwestern Australia, had not been spotted in nearly a century. Despite rumors of sightings over the past three years, no photos had been captured until the group of birdwatchers from Broome were able to snap a picture. [ABC.net]

World Bank Guarantees Millions for Argentinian Energy Projects

The World Bank has announced that it will be providing aid for numerous Argentinian renewable energy projects, in the form of $480 million in loan guarantees. The loans are likely to go toward projects for solar, wind, and hydroelectric power projects that will replace much of the South American nation’s energy with renewable sources. [CleanTechnica.com]


Medicine

Rotavirus Vaccine Shows Promise in African Trials

A new vaccine developed to protect against rotavirus is showing positive effects in a large African trial. After tests in Niger by Doctors Without Borders, the vaccine is expected to be a cheaper and more practice way to protect children from the diarrheal disease that kills hundreds of children in developing nations each day. [NYTimes.com]


Science and Technology

Stephen Hawking Offered Seat Aboard Virgin Galactic

Virgin CEO Richard Branson has offered Stephen Hawking a seat on his Virgin Galactic spaceship, which hopes to offer commercial space flights in the near future. Physicist Hawking is reportedly quite excited by the prospect of being able to go to space within his lifetime. Virgin Galactic was at one point slated for commercial missions as early as 2009, but this date was pushed back due to developmental setbacks. [Independent.co.uk]

Arizona Couple Donates Millions of Insect Specimens to ASU

A couple in Arizona is pledging their extensive collection of insect specimens to Arizona State University. Charles and Lois O’Brien, both in their 80s, have amassed a joint collection of over a million insects, worth about $10 million. Entomologists at ASU are calling the collection a “goldmine for researchers.” [TheGuardian.com]

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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.