Well, friends, I think this site has run its course for now. It can be quite a chore to keep this site current and there are changes in store for our family that will mean less time available for noodling around on the internet.

I'm glad to have discovered sources of good news and become more mindful about seeking out positive new stories. I hope you've been able to change your media diet for the better, too!

Even though this site will go into hibernation, the links in the sidebar will still guide you to the good stuff.

Thanks for hanging out!


Mobster bear gets new life

A Bosnian bear has been saved from a life of caged loneliness after he fell into the hands of mobsters and almost died from starvation.

When Miljen's mother was killed by hunters in 2000, the bear cub was sold to a crime boss keen to emulate famous Balkan criminals who view keeping wild animals as proof of machismo. The gangster was jailed in 2005, Miljen was left to the mercy of neighbours, who could only afford to feed him bread. (Reuters)

Students bent on fighting racism and encouraging cultural diversity

A group of students in Nova Scotia bring the fight against racism to their school by encouraging people to embrace cultural diversity organizing a mini-United Nations. (Truro Daily News)

California program aids the 'forgotten' homeless

When he was homeless, Timothy Caldwell used to challenge people to a chess match to pay for food. Now he lives at Safe Haven, a shelter in Santa Monica, and is looking to get his own apartment. When he wins at chess these days, he gives the money to others without homes.

Safe Haven, a residence in Santa Monica, takes in those who have been on the streets more than a year and have a disability and helps put them in permanent housing. (CS Monitor)


Neighbours chip in to buy RV for Seattle man facing eviction from tree house

A homeless man who has spent the last two years living in a tree house has a new, terrestrial home just in the nick of time.

It's all thanks to neighbours who chipped in to by David (Squirrelman) Csaky a used recreation vehicle after learning he faced eviction by the city. (CBC)

Sight restored - after 66 years

Surgeons have restored the sight of a man who was blinded in one eye 66 years ago during the Blitz.

John Gray, 87, was injured during a bombing raid on Clydeside and was told he would never again see through his right eye, reports the BBC. (Ananova)

Miraculous survival in Switzerland

Swiss police say a baby suffered little more than a bump after a buggy was blown onto railway tracks and run over by a train. (CBC)


Boy, 11, Steers School Bus Out of Semi's Path

An 11-year-old boy who steered a runaway school bus to safety said he took the wheel because the vehicle was rolling toward a semi. Other children on board during Monday's crash were "freaking out," screaming and hollering, but David Murphy decided he had to do something.

Canada to Create Giant New Northern National Park

Canada will create a giant new national park covering some 1.9 million acres along one of the country's most spectacular northern rivers, Environment Minister John Baird said on Monday. (Reuters)

Bangladesh Street Kids Turn From Begging to Banking

Raju's life changed after he discovered an unlikely profession for a street child: banking. The 16-year-old boy started working for the Children's Development Bank, a Bangladesh-based lender that is owned by a non-government organization and managed by street children. He now earns $30 a month and can save a portion of his income. (Reuters-India)


Dell Headquarters Goes 100% Green Energy

Dell is now powering 100 percent of its 2.1 million square-foot global headquarters campus (home to more than 10,000 employees) with 100 percent green power, the latest step in meeting the company's 2008 carbon neutral commitment. (GNN)

Boeing Flies First Hydrogen-Powered Plane

US aircraft giant Boeing claimed a world first Thursday flying a manned airplane powered by a hydrogen-cell battery, the first time in the history of aviation and a breakthrough that could herald a greener future for the industry. (GNN)


Cheaper, More Reliable Solar?

A recent renewed interest in alternative energy technologies has also revitalized interest in solar thermal technology, a type of solar power that uses the sun’s heat rather than its light to produce electricity.

Although the technology for solar thermal has existed for more than two decades, projects have languished while fossil fuels remained cheap. But solar thermal’s time may now have come — and mirrored arrays of solar thermal power plants may soon bloom in many of the world’s deserts. (Geotimes)

Boy, 5, made 911 rescue call after mother buried in snow

A five-year-old New Brunswick boy was honoured by the RCMP on Thursday as a hero who helped save his mother's life after she was buried in snow. (CBC)

Woman's warning saves family from house fire

An unidentified passerby averted a disaster in western P.E.I. Wednesday when she alerted a family to a fire in their home, says the local fire chief.

The four managed to escape without injury when a woman driving by their Egmont Bay home noticed sparks coming from the chimney. She went to the door and told the residents to get out. (CBC)


A Victim Treats His Mugger Right

Julio Diaz not only handed his wallet over to a knife-wielding mugger, but called him back to offer his coat and to buy the kid some dinner.

"I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It's as simple as it gets in this complicated world." (NPR)

Ebola Virus Vaccine Proven to Work

A team of Canadian and American researchers have tested a vaccine for the ebola virus on primates, and it seems to be working. They hope that what they’ve learned from finding a vaccine for ebola can be applied to other viruses like HIV/AIDs. (Things Are Good)

Canadians go dark with world for Earth Hour

Canadians joined communities around the world on Saturday in turning off the lights for this year's Earth Hour, a global campaign to raise awareness of climate change. About 100,000 Canadians out of a total of 300,000 people worldwide registered online for the event — putting the country among top participants anywhere.

Organizers see the event as a way to encourage the world to conserve energy. While all lights in participating cities are unlikely to be cut, it is the symbolic darkening of monuments, businesses and individual homes they are most eagerly anticipating. (CBC)


Bike Parking Lot With Attendant in the Works for NYC

City officials have been trying to create more places where New Yorkers can ride their bikes safely, but finding secure places to park them is an enduring problem.

Now, a few business executives have dreamed up a private-sector solution: the city’s first bikes-only parking lot, complete with attendant. (NY Times)

After 80 years, Canadian Tire stops publishing catalogues

Canadian Tire Corp. will not be printing any more of its paper catalogues, sent to millions of Canadian homes every year.

"We've done a lot of research around customer shopping habits and the reality is, with consumers, they really are spending a lot more time online. That's where they go to obtain the information they're looking for," said Lisa Gibson, a spokeswoman for Canadian Tire.

Insect-Killing Worms May Help New York

Each spring, tens of millions of alfalfa snout beetles rise from the soil to continue their slow, methodical march across upstate New York, laying waste to fields of alfalfa in a single growing season.

Now, after 20 years of research, Cornell University scientists have discovered a pair of microscopic, insect-killing worms that prey on the beetle. (AP)


Somalia Once Again Polio-Free, Declares UN

In what is being described as a major victory in the global fight against polio, the United Nations health agency announced yesterday that the disease has been eradicated in strife-torn Somalia thanks to the efforts of some 10,000 volunteers and health workers across the Horn of Africa nation. (GNN)

Biomass Gas Project Provides Clean Power for Indian Villages

A new biomass plant that converts wood or agricultural waste into a combustible gas mixture is offering remote communities access to electricity in an environment friendly, carbon neutral way, thanks to the United Nations Development Program. (GNN)

Study Shows Winners Don't Punish

Punishing a lazy team member can be counterproductive and it may be better to simply walk away, researchers say.

The researchers at Harvard University found that people who go to the trouble of punishing colleagues, co-workers or others in one-on-one situations do not profit from their revenge. Such behavior does not pay off for a group, either, they reported in the journal Nature. (Reuters)


Good marriage keeps blood pressure low

A new study shows that a happy marriage is good for your blood pressure, but a stressed one may be worse than being single. That second finding comes as a bit of a surprise because prior studies have shown that married people tend to be healthier than singles overall.

Analysis found that the more marital satisfaction and adjustment spouses reported, the lower their average blood pressure was over the 24 hours and during the daytime. (AP)

Australia to Train Aboriginal Doctors

Australia committed $17 million on Thursday to train Aboriginal nurses and doctors, as part of efforts to close a 17-year gap in the life expectancies of indigenous and other Australians.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's pledge to improve health services for indigenous Australians builds on the government's landmark apology last month for inflicting decades of suffering on Aborigines. (AP)

World's tallest man thankful for the kindness of strangers

Leonid Stadnik's phenomenal height has forced him to quit a job he loved and to stoop as he moves around his house.

But Stadnik, who Guinness World Records says is the world's tallest human, says his condition has also taught him that there are many kindhearted strangers.

"Thanks to good people I have shoes and clothes," said the 37-year-old former veterinarian, who still lives with his 66-year-old mother. (MSNBC)


Autism, the Musical

Autistic children write and perform a musical, while moms explain that the "Miracle Project" forever changes their kids, who once were in their own world and now are joined with others thanks to the power of the arts.

New bird discovered in Indonesia

A small greenish bird that has been playing hide-and-seek with ornithologists on a remote Indonesian island since 1996 was declared a newly discovered species on Friday and promptly recommended for endangered lists. (Reuters)

See-Saw to Power African Schools With Electricity

A young inventor is hoping to tap the unbounded energy of children in a playground to power schools in Africa. Design student Daniel Sheridan has created a simple see-saw which generates enough electricity to light a classroom. (BBC)


Monkey Business

Forest officials in India have come up with an unusual way of controlling pesky monkeys - they've set up a park to protect them.

The primate protection park in India's northern Himachal Pradesh will house more than 2000 Simian monkeys and hopefully keep a check on the growing monkey menace in the hilly state. (Reuters)

Trumpeter to Help New Orleans Libraries

Jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield has traveled the world playing for audiences in smoky bars and buttoned-up concert halls, and he knows the sounds, tastes and sights of this city are unlike those anywhere else. So, he says, the city's library system should be just as unique.

Mayfield intends to unveil a plan Tuesday for a multimillion-dollar library system that reflects the city's identity. It would start with a jazz-themed branch housing early recordings and reviews. (MSN)

Teacher's encouraging words helped failing student to dean's list

One conversation with one teacher changed a woman's opinion of herself and brought success to her schoolwork and life. (OC Register)


Breast-Feeding Seen to Curb Type 2 Diabetes Later

Breast-fed babies appear to be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes when they reach adolescence, according to findings published in the medical journal Diabetes Care.

Nigeria, Cameroon Settle Decades Old Border Dispute in Oil-Rich Atlantic

After decades of sometimes bloody disputes over the Bakassi Peninsula, Cameroon and Nigeria have settled their long-disputed maritime border, ending years of uncertainty as to who owns sections of Africa's oil-rich Gulf of Guinea.

"Today is a glorious and remarkable day, a milestone in the history of Cameroon-Nigeria relations,"said Nigerian delegation head Prince Bola Ajibola. (Reuters)

Peace is Delicious for Traditional Foes Who Now Grow Coffee Together

In Uganda, one man has brought together three groups of people - Christian, Muslim and Jewish - to put aside old differences, creating a coffee cooperative that now boasts some 700 members of all three faiths. They named their coffee Mirembe Kawomera, which means “Delicious Peace.” (Good News Network)


Dolphin rescues stranded whales

A dolphin who made a New Zealand bay her home helps a group of conservationists to save two stranded whales.

The female pygmy whale and its calf became stranded on Mahia beach and resisted human attempts to herd them out to sea. The situation changed when Moko the dolphin came on the scene.

Israelis and Arabs join forces to save wildlife

Concern over the fate of rare habitat could alter the course of the West Bank barrier

Fearing for the environment, an unusual mix of Jewish settlers and Israeli and Palestinian activists have joined forces to stop the barrier from pushing through this sensitive area east of Jerusalem, saying the pristine landscape and wildlife in Wadi Qelt could suffer irreversible damage. (MSNBC)

Breakthrough in Canadian Indigenous rights flashpoint

An Indigenous Canadian community’s longstanding campaign to stop clear-cut logging on its land has prompted a multinational paper company to stop buying wood fibre from the area.

On 27 February, Boise Inc announced that it would “stand in support of Amnesty International’s recommendation” and not buy any wood fibre from the traditional territory of Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwest Ontario until the community has given its consent to logging. (Amnesty)


Community rallies to build home for disabled couple

Five months, $12,000 and the helping hands of 25 volunteers have built a new house for a New Brunswick couple who were living in a rundown trailer.

When Pat Carr saw the conditions Charlotte and Jay Allan were living in, he rallied members at Hillsborough Baptist Church to build a new home for the disabled couple. (CBC)

Kosovo's 'Woman of Courage' Bridges Ethnic Divide

Valdete Idrizi, a 34-year-old ethnic Albanian who survived the ethnic violence in Kosovo in the 1990s, has reached out to her Serb neighbors.

She founded a multi-ethnic organization to bring together Serbs, Albanians and the various Roma communities and try to heal the wounds of war. The group even facilitated the return of some displaced Serbs to their homes in Kosovo — which led to Idrizi receiving death threats from Kosovar Albanian militants.

However, it also led to her receiving an International Woman of Courage award from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. (NPR)

For Former Combatants, A Plan for Peace

Bassam Aramin and Zohar Shapira, the co-founders of Combatants for Peace, talk about their mission to end the cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine by bringing together individuals who previously fought against each other.

Currently around 450 Palestinians and Israelis are members of the group. (NPR)


Teen Athlete Triumphant and Proud of her Amputated Legs

To Jessica Long, not having legs isn't a disability -- even with all of the pain. It's an opportunity. The teen swimmer is a world-champ, despite being born without bones in her lower legs.

"If I had the option, I would choose to be this way," she says. "I think it's cool to be able to inspire people and be a role model," as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Elite Swimming Team. "If I had legs, I probably wouldn't be involved in swimming."

"I don't think I can imagine my life with legs." (Rivals High)

Chicago Starts to 'Clean House' in Failing Schools

Nine Chicago schools are getting a top-to-bottom housecleaning – including replacing principals and most teachers – in a bid to lift student achievement out of the nation's academic basement. The risk is paying off. Schools that once looked like "Beirut," they now look like schools again. Even for a city that already leads the nation in school-reform ideas, the proposal is unusually bold and sweeping and districts across the US are watching with interest. (CS Monitor)

India Cancels Small Farmers' Debt Across Nation

The Indian government plans to cancel the entire debt of the country's small farmers in a giant program that will cost 600 billion rupees ($15 billion). The move is a centerpiece of India's latest budget, with the government also increasing education spending by 20% and health funding by 15%. (BBC)


March Break, Blog Break

I won't be updating hope in the headlines this week while the kids are home for March Break. Check out the excellent "good news" links in the sidebar to get your daily fix!


Cuba signs up for human rights

Cuba signed two major human rights treaties at the UN in New York on Thursday. The country’s Foreign Minister, Felipe Perez Roque, signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The treaties commit Cuba to respect rights including freedom of expression and association, and freedom of movement. (Amnesty)

Kidney transplant survival rates in kids on rise: report

Though kidney failure once meant a death sentence for young patients, the quality and quantity of transplants has greatly boosted survival rates, according to a new study. (CBC)

Finding could pave the way for future AIDS treatment, scientists say

Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a gene that can block certain forms of HIV and may perhaps one day be used to prevent the onset of AIDS.

In lab studies, conducted with scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers at the Edmonton university identified a human gene called TRIM22 that can block HIV infection by preventing the virus from replicating. (CBC)


Kenyan rivals shake hands as power-sharing deal reached

Rival Kenyan leaders Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement Thursday aimed at ending weeks of election-related violence that has killed about 1,000 people.

Onlookers clapped as the two men signed the deal and shook hands during a late afternoon ceremony in Nairobi, and Odinga referred to his rival as "my countryman, President Mwai Kibaki" – an important sign of acceptance. (CBC; audio at NPR)

"The Teacher Who Couldn't Read" Becomes Literacy Activist

John Corcoran had 35 years of education behind him, including a bachelor's degree, and many graduate and professional-level classes. He had worked with at-risk youth as a classroom teacher. He'd taught a wide range of subjects, including social studies, English grammar, and world history, always holding a textbook at his side. But in all his years as a teacher, he never once cracked the spine of any of his books. (Gimundo; video at 10News)

Most Muslims 'desire democracy'

The largest survey to date of Muslims worldwide suggests the vast majority want Western democracy and freedoms, but do not want them to be imposed. The poll by Gallup of more than 50,000 Muslims in 35 nations found most wanted the West to instead focus on changing its negative view of Muslims and Islam. (BBC)


Beauty Salons Tackle Domestic Abuse

A new program is tackling domestic violence by enlisting the help of beauty salons. Employees are educated on how to spot and help abuse victims. Bianca Solorzano reports.

Youth Work to Raise More Than $100,000 for Famine

More than 200 teenagers this weekend built cardboard houses on muddy ground, where they slept the night so they could begin to understand poverty and famine. In the past four years, their church, St. John's Episcopal Church, has raised more money than any worldwide for hunger-relief. (Charlotte Observer)

Climate change resulting in shift to “green” economies, says UN agency

More and more companies are embracing environmentally-friendly policies and investors are pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into cleaner and renewable energies, according to a new publication released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (UN News Centre)


Cop Helps Set Sentence for his Shooter After 20 Years: A Donation to Charity

A former Chicago cop agreed to a bit of restorative justice for his shooter, who was extradited from Canada after 20 years of clean living to face charges of aggravated battery and skipping bail. (NY Times)

Congo, Rwanda and Uganda Unite to Save Mountain Gorillas

Borders will matter less to central Africa’s mountain gorillas, following the launch of a strategic conservation plan which covers adjoining areas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Good News Network)

Women’s participation in Pakistan's election encouraging

The participation of a large number of women in Monday’s elections is a significant development that will pave the way for gender equality in politics. This time, women have not only secured the reserved seats, but also contested and won fifteen general seats of the National and provincial assemblies. (Daily Times of Pakistan)


Empowering West African Women With Diesel Engines

The mechanization of domestic tasks such as milling or husking grains (normally done with a mortar and pestle or grinding stone) can transform these time-consuming chores into profitable economic activities for rural West African women. The diesel engines responsible for such transformation are being distributed in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with help from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (Good News Network)

Ghana Adopts National Peace Plan

Ghana has adopted a new peace plan dubbed "National Architecture for Peace" to foster respect for the rule of law, transparency, accountability and free and fair elections, which have been achieved for the past seven years and ultimately lead to a durable internal peace. (Modern Ghana.com)

City unveils peace plan

Salinas police and city officials have launched a new campaign intended to reduce local violence. The effort is called CAPSTONE, which stands for "City At Peace: Supporting and Transforming Our Neighborhoods." (Californian.com)


New Miracle Mosquito Nets

Sleeping under mosquito nets treated with insecticide has been shown to be an extremely effective and cheap method of preventing deadly malaria. Now, a manufacturing partnership between Japan and Tanzania is creating superior nets in the heart of Africa where they are needed most, "supporting African innovation for Africans."

Kenyan Youth Club Helps to Heal Ethnic Tensions

In Nairobi's Mathare slum, a youth association helps to heal ethnic tensions which have flared up recently in Kenya. The group won a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2003 for its success in fostering community development through sports and particularly soccer. Now, they are initiating classes in tolerance and justice and forming new inter-ethnic teams.

Top marks for great gran, 96

A blind 96-year-old great grandmother is taking an Open University degree in social sciences. Grace Ledger, of Selsey, West Sussex, passed the first year with top marks of 80% and is set to receive a certificate of merit. (Ananova)


Loss of Leg Doesn't Stop Police Cadet from Achieving Dream

Adam Griggel says even after he lost his leg, he was determined to become a Wisconsin police officer. Now as a police cadet he is top in his class. (MSNBC Video)

Random Acts of Kindness Kick Off First Ottawa Kindness Week

For one week, February 15 to 24, Ottawa is choosing to be kind. The city will be celebrating, encouraging, and even keeping a web journal to showcase the simple acts of kindness brought to life throughout the community this week. (Good News Network)

Homeless Community Creates a Self-Governing Village

Just outside downtown Portland, Oregon, you'll find a small community with some odd-looking houses: tents; teepees; wooden shacks; structures built from mud, straw, and adobe – almost anything goes. As you might imagine, these buildings don't exactly meet the city's standard housing code. But that's okay – they're not exactly part of the city. The residents of this makeshift town are formerly homeless people who've worked together to build their own self-regulated "campground," Dignity Village. (Gimundo)


Former Gang Rivals Embrace Each Other in Ministry Outreach

The California Cease Fire Ministry seeks out hard-core Mexican-American gang members to participate in a truce. The program is run by ex-gang members, 50-year-olds who successfully persuade California's murderous Latino gangs to embrace each other and rebuild their lives in the church. (San Jose Mercury News)

Creating opportunity for the disabled in Peru

In a country where jobs are scarce, it's nearly impossible to find work for people with disabilities. But three friends are fighting to change that. Angeles Anonimos (Anonymous Angels), a Peru-based group, trains disabled and handicapped people -- regarded by locals as unemployable and often left to beg on the streets -- to create fair-trade sterling silver jewelry. (StoryBridge TV)

Google, Others Team to Invest in India

Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google Inc., has teamed up with the Soros Economic Development Fund and Omidyar Network to fund a $17 million company that will invest in small- and medium-size business in India.

The Small to Medium Enterprise Investment Co. would fill the gap between loans offered by microfinance institutions and those of large commercial banks and private equity funds. (AP)


Eco-friendly forest management in Brazil

Brazil's government focuses on eco-friendly ways of managing the Amazonian forests. The Forest Stewardship Council estimates that illegal loggers kill 30 to get one usable tree. The new conservation projects protect far more trees than they cut down. (Reuters)

Australia Pledges More Outback Teachers

Determined to prove that a national apology to Australia's indigenous population is more than empty words, the government on Thursday promised more teachers to tackle widespread illiteracy in Outback Aboriginal communities, one of several bold targets to remove inequalities in living standards. (AP)

Passion to help others unhindered by Down Syndrome

Simon Eng, 22, has already touched the lives of thousands of children around the world and he wants to help a lot more. Fourteen months after he began packing school kits for MCC Alberta, he had already reached the milestone of 10,000 kits.

Eng was born with Down Syndrome. Despite limited communication skills he clearly articulates why he packs school kits for MCC. “Poor countries, poor people and poor children—I want to help them,” he says. (MCC)


World's Largest Marine Reserve Declared

The tiny Pacific islands nation of Kiribati declared the world's largest marine protected area Thursday—a California-sized ocean wilderness that includes pristine reefs and eight coral atolls teeming with fish and birds. (AP)

Costa Rica Aims to Be a Carbon-Neutral Nation

One of the smallest countries in the world has a big goal. Costa Rica says it wants to be the first developing country to become carbon neutral — that is, to have zero output of carbon dioxide by 2021. (audio at NPR)

911 dispatcher honored for helping homeless

For Toni Dukes, love isn't delivered with a sugary sweet Hallmark card or an overpriced bouquet of red roses. It's given in a Ziploc bag stuffed with a hat, gloves and a packet of Kleenex, and the words "From the Heart" written in black marker on the outside. (SF Gate)


Kid power quenches thirst in Africa

Children from from Conneticut to California were inspired to help African kids gain reliable access to clean water, teaming up with a non-profit called Random Kid, an organization that helps kids help others. "I finally get to do something big in the world. I'm not just a small person in society," says 9 year-old Liam Keran. (MSNBC video)

Reclaiming youth from war in Congo

Gabriel and Pascal are just 2 of 130 former child soldiers from all factions at a UN transit centre. They are learning how to leave war behind them and become children again. "I know that yesterday Pascal was my enemy, but now he is my brother," says Gabriel. (MSNBC video)

College to Give Bikes to Freshmen

A tiny liberal arts college here hopes it has found an answer to a nagging shortage of campus parking: a bicycle giveaway. If incoming freshmen promise not to bring a car to campus for a full year, Ripon College will give them a Trek 820 mountain bike, a helmet and a lock — a $400 value. (AP)

Jewelers shun gold from proposed Alaska mine

Five of the nation's leading jewelers have sworn off gold that could someday come from the proposed Pebble Mine, a huge deposit near the world's most productive wild sockeye salmon stream. (AP)

School Lunches Get Leafy in Los Angeles

Across the country, only one-third of children between the ages of 2 and 19 eat the recommended three to five servings of vegetables per day, and only a quarter eat enough fruit. As a result, many schools are trying to teach better eating habits. Marx says kids love salad bars; it's the adults who are often skeptical. (NPR)


Empathy Lessons from Babies

It's just Nolan Winecka's second time teaching a class of fifth graders at Emerald Park Elementary School in this Seattle suburb, and it shows as he stares nervously at the two dozen kids surrounding him.

Nolan is 6 months old and hasn't had any formal pedagogical training. But to the group that put him in the classroom, he has everything he needs to help teach children an unconventional subject. A Canadian nonprofit group, Roots of Empathy, is now bringing to the U.S. a decade-old program designed to reduce bullying by exposing classrooms to "empathy babies" for a whole school year. (Wall Street Journal)

Device on knee can produce electricity

Call it the ultimate power walk. Researchers have developed a device that generates electrical power from the swing of a walking person's knee. With each stride the leg accelerates and then decelerates, using energy both for moving and braking. It's sort of like the way that some hybrid-electric cars produce electricity from braking.

With the device, a minute of walking can power a cell phone for 10 minutes, Donelan, of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, said in a telephone interview. Other potential uses include powering a portable GPS locator, a motorized prosthetic joint or implanted drug pumps. (AP)

Traveler Exchanges Cash and Possessions for Kindness

Equipped with only a few T-shirts, a bandage and spare sandals, former dotcom businessman Mark Boyle is set to cross Europe and the Middle East on a pilgrimage to Gandhi's birthplace.

Mr Boyle, 28, said: "I will be offering my skills to people. If I get food in return, it's a bonus." He says he is part of the freeconomy movement - a group which began in the US and aims to bring about a moneyless society. (BBC)

Packing MCC school kits fuels passion to help others

Simon Eng, 22, has already touched the lives of thousands of children around the world and he wants to help a lot more. Eng began packing school kits for Mennonite Central Committee Alberta in November 2006. Fourteen months later he had reached the milestone of 10,000 school kits.

Eng was born with Down Syndrome. Despite limited communication skills he clearly articulates why he packs school kits for MCC. “Poor countries, poor people and poor children—I want to help them,” he said. (MCC)

New ovarian cancer blood test 99 per cent effective: Yale researchers

A new blood tests has been developed that Yale researchers say can detect ovarian cancer with 99 per cent accuracy. The test uses six protein biomarkers to identify proteins in the bloodstream that signal an ovarian tumour is present in the body. The test is 99.4 per cent effective.

Previous tests for ovarian cancer only used four protein biomarkers and recognized only 15 to 20 per cent of new ovarian tumours. (CBC)


London to Spend US$975 Million on Walking and Cycling Programs Over Next Decade

London is certainly at the forefront of efforts by cities to lower emissions of carbon dioxide, reduce traffic and air pollution, and promote healthier lifestyles.

London is now announcing that it plans "to create a new network of quick, simple, and safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians that represents the largest investment in walking and cycling in the city’s history."

This is not some token initiative, either. London is committed to spending US$975 million over the next ten years to implement five new programs "with the aim of having one in ten round trips in London each day made by bike, and saving some 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year ." (Treehugger)

In Cairo, hordes of street kids no longer ignored

The Egyptian government and nonprofit groups are stepping up efforts to help street children. Cairo has thousands of street kids – sleeping on streets, joining gangs for protection, underfed and covered with the filth of a city packed with 18 million people.

New half-day centers, overnight facilities, and psychological services are being launched. They reach only a fraction of the tens of thousands of street children but the growth of the services is remarkable in a country where conservative estimates put the poverty rate at 20 percent and street kids have long been regarded by society and the government as little more than delinquents. (CS Monitor)

India to Create 8 New Tiger Sanctuaries

Conservationists welcomed an Indian government plan to create eight new reserves to protect the country's dwindling tiger population, and called Wednesday for more action to prevent illegal trading in tiger parts.

It will take five years to set up the new reserves, which will cover an area of more than 11,900 square miles at a cost to taxpayers of about $153 million, the government's Tiger Project announced Tuesday. Private groups will also contribute funds. (AP)

Vietnam veterans help returning Iraq soldiers deal with shocks of war

There is a grass-roots movement by Vietnam veterans to help American soldiers returning from Iraq cope with the mental rigors of war and ease the transition to civilian life. Across the country, both groups of Vietnam veterans and individual former soldiers are pitching in to help console, counsel, or just be a voice on the other end of the phone to those who have served in the Middle East. (CS Monitor)

Motivated by a Tax, Irish Spurn Plastic Bags

There is something missing from this otherwise typical bustling cityscape. There are taxis and buses. There are hip bars and pollution. Every other person is talking into a cellphone. But there are no plastic shopping bags, the ubiquitous symbol of urban life.

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. (NY Times)


Playtime for Grandma: Council opens new playground for the over-60s

You're never too old to have fun – but a playground for senior citizens? That's kind of pushing it, don't you think? Just try telling that to the folks at the Older People's Playground in Dam's Head, England, near Manchester.

This isn't their grandchildren's playground, you see – instead of merry-go-rounds and sandboxes, it comes equipped with specialized machines designed to strengthen and tone muscles, which are gentle enough for older adults to use without injuring themselves. (Daily Mail)

London hosts world's largest low emission zone

The world's largest clean transport area comes into effect in London on Monday. The British capital's low emission zone will add to its reputation as a leader in sustainable transport policies, following its congestion pricing scheme.

Low emission zones are already in operation or planned in 70 towns and cities in eight European countries including Norway, the Netherlands and Germany. But London's will dwarf them all. (ENN)

World Bank plans clean technology fund for poor

Poor countries will soon receive billions of dollars from a new World Bank fund to help them cut pollution, save energy and fight global warming, the international organization said. (ENN)

High-poverty -- AND high-achieving: Pinewood Elementary's unorthodox methods yield outstanding pass rates

What's going on at Pinewood Elementary? More than 80 percent of children in this south Charlotte school live in poverty, yet they're passing state tests at rates that leave other schools in the dust.

Principal Nancy Guzman calls her strategies simple, if sometimes controversial. (Charlotte Observer)

HP Ink Cartridges From Recycled Water Bottles

Sounds so simple. Take plastic, crush, make new plastic. But it actually involves some new engineering technology. HP just announced that it is using recycled plastics gathered from water bottles, recycled inkjet cartridges, and other materials to create new ink cartridges made from 100% recyclable plastics. (Yahoo Tech)


Shot of a Lifetime

Jason McElwain, an autistic high school basketball team member in Rochester, New York, served as the team manager and spirit coach for several years. On the final game of the season the coach let him put on a uniform with the rest of the team. What happened next you have to see to believe.

German kite ship saves fuel

The MS Beluga SkySail - driven in part by kite-power - successfully crossed the Atlantic and proved that the system does cut down on carbon emissions.

The world's first commerical ship part-powered by a giant kite, Beluga SkySails made energy savings of between 15 and 20 percent during the 14-day voyage from Germany to Venezuela, which according to Beluga is the normal duration of the journey. (Reuters)

Diddy pushes youth to vote once again

Four years ago, Sean "Diddy" Combs took his hip-hop swagger across the nation in an effort to get young people to vote, with the bold slogan "Vote or Die." Now the entertainer has just a simple message: Go vote.

"If we want to stop the war, if we want to get the economy better, I think that young people need to understand they have to take matters into their own hands," Combs, 38, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday. "It is really like waking up a sleeping giant." (AP)

Abortion Rate at 30-Year Low

The U.S. abortion rate has reached a 30-year-low. In 2005 a survey of abortion providers showed the rate was lower than the number of abortions in 1975, which was just two years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. The results revealed an eight percent drop in totals from 2000 to 2005. (Good News Network)

British Bishops Launch Carbon Fast

With the season of Lent upon us, bishops in London and Liverpool have come up with a new kind of 40-day fast. Along with the aid agency Tearfund, the bishops have launched a carbon fast. Instead of giving up chocolate, how about giving up on plastic bags or incandescent light bulbs? (NPR audio)


Dutch gas guzzler tax hammers exclusive cars

Buying a Hummer just became 19,000 euros ($28,000) more expensive in the Netherlands.

A new "guzzle tax" came into force on Friday, penalizing cars that exceed a limit on emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide as the Netherlands seeks to reduce its contribution to global warming. (Reuters)

Aboriginal leaders to welcome lawmakers

Aborigines have long lived on the fringe of Australian society, but they will take center stage when Parliament holds a historic ceremony to acknowledge the nation's capital is built on their land. (AP)

Facebook Used to Mobilize Against FARC

The social-networking site Facebook is being used for more than socializing. In Colombia, a Facebook page dedicated to protesting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, that country's largest rebel group, is helping organize millions of people. (NPR)

Waiter's flawless service is rewarded

A full scholarship to a $34,000-a-year private college for a waiter? Now that's a tip.

Two years ago, Marvin Burchall was working the lunch shift at a luxury beachside hotel in his native Bermuda when he waited on an administrator from Endicott College, just north of Boston. To him, Lynn Bak was just another customer, another tourist visiting the island getaway. But Burchall's service was impeccable, and his attentiveness and amiable manner caught Bak's eye. (Boston Globe)

Fredericton buses to use biofuel additive

Transit buses in Fredericton will soon include a spoonful of biofuel in their tanks with the aim of reducing emissions and fuel costs.

Using the biofuel will see greenhouse-gas emissions in the city decrease by 2,200 kilograms per year, Whelan said. (CBC)


Kenyan parties sign agenda to end violence

Rival political parties in Kenya locked in a deadly dispute over December's elections said Friday they had agreed to take immediate action to end the violence that has ravaged the country.
Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said the two sides signed a four-point agenda committing to completing talks within 15 days on measures to end the political crisis. (CBC)

Farming the Amazon with a Machete and Mulch

On jungle land at the mouth of the Amazon River, one resourceful female farmer has become a master of adaptation in a landscape of constant change. Her story offers an example of how individuals might face the challenges of climate change. (NPR)

Wild elephants on increase in Kenya due successful protection measures

Kenya's population of elephants -- both a tourism drive and a measure of the state of the East African country's wildlife -- is increasing, after successful anti-poaching measures and bans on the illegal ivory trade, wildlife officials say. (AP)

Scientists discover way to reverse loss of memory

Scientists performing experimental brain surgery on a man aged 50 have stumbled across a mechanism that could unlock how memory works. Scientists are now applying the technique in the first trial of the treatment in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Three patients have been treated and initial results are promising, according to Andres Lozano, a professor of neurosurgery at the Toronto Western Hospital, Ontario, who is leading the research. (Belfast Telegraph)

Boats to try to prevent hooking seabirds

Albatross looking for a free meal on the high seas often pay the price of being killed or injured going after baited hooks. Now, fishing fleets around the world have agreed to use measures to prevent hooking albatross and other seabirds whose numbers are declining. (AP)


Respecting the aged in Mali

Less than 4 percent of Mali's population is over 60 and therefore considered elderly or in their third stage of life.

However, the elderly are considered a key part of Malian society.

These days, Mali's government isn't leaving the care of the elderly to luck. The average income in Mali is less than a dollar a day and some families find it difficult to take care of their older relatives. Mali's government is helping out and has built a clinic which specializes in geriatrics or healthcare, for the elderly.

U.S. Wind Power Generation Grows by 45 Percent in 2007

Overturning all previous records, the U.S. wind energy industry installed 5,244 megawatts of power in 2007, expanding the nation's total wind power generating capacity by 45 percent in a single calendar year and injecting an investment of over $9 billion into the economy, according to the American Wind Energy Association, AWEA.

The new wind projects account for about 30 percent of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally in 2007 and will power the equivalent of 1.5 million American households annually. (ENS)

Gates donates $20 million to help rice farmers

Bill Gates, the world's richest man, is to donate nearly 20 million dollars for research into helping rice farmers deal with global warming, the International Rice Research Institute said Monday.

The Philippines-based institute said it would use the donation from the Microsoft founder to harness scientific advances and address major unsolved problems in agriculture. (Terra Daily)

Europe moves to protect trafficked people

Europe has taken a further step towards protecting people who have been trafficked with the entry into force of a new convention on Friday. The 14 states that have so far become parties to the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings have committed themselves to ensuring greater respect and protection of the rights of trafficked persons. (Amnesty)

No through road for polluting cars

It's "no entry" for some of Germany's most polluting cars as they are banned from some city centres.

Drivers are now required to get their vehicle's emissions tested and display an environment sticker if they want to drive in the so-called "environment zones" in the inner-city areas of Berlin, Cologne and Hanover. The new measures are designed to cut pollution which has been linked to asthma and other conditions. (video at Reuters)


Blind photographer to hold exhibition

A wildlife photographer is to hold an exhibition of her pictures - despite being blind.

Alison Bartlett's hearing is so acute that she can pick up birds' wings flapping or a squirrel nibbling a nut, reports The Sun. (Ananova)

Boy, 9, averts 70mph smash

A nine-year-old boy steered his mother's car to safety across three lanes of traffic when she blacked out at 70mph. (Ananova)

Kiva lenders' generosity funds all projects

Over the last few months, some visitors to the Web site of Kiva, a nonprofit that lets users make interest-free “microloans” to entrepreneurs in low-development (that is, poor) countries all over the world, were greeted with a surprising message. “Thanks Kiva Lenders!” it began. “You’ve funded EVERY business on the site!!”

Not to worry, though – after instituting a $25-maximum cap on donations to individual enterprises, Kiva is back in business with a new lot of eager entrepreneurs, so if you're ready to invest, you'll probably get the chance. (NY Times)

Virtual World Online Helps Move Agoraphobics Into Real World

One woman can shop for groceries now for the first time in years, after learning to interact in a virtual world on the Internet called Second Life. She became virtually phobia-free by visiting with others like herself online and even sharing in a support group there through her animated alter ego. (Good News Network)

Nova Scotia junior high kids raise money for Bathurst High

Junior high school students in Truro, N.S., played a friendly game of basketball Wednesday to raise money for a New Brunswick high school that lost seven of its students earlier this month.

"We hope the proceeds of this event will help them keep basketball alive in their school," Louise Wirtanen, principal at Central Colchester, said in a release. (CBC)


Child of War Turned Peace Activist: Phan Ti Kim Phuc

It's one of the most iconic images of the 20th century: A young Vietnamese girl running from her village, naked, her clothes burned away in a napalm attack. Her mouth is wide, her face filled with terror and anguish.

Phan Ti Kim Phuc, is now a 45-year old woman. She is a wife and a mother, and is now a Canadian citizen. Most surprising of all, though, is the fact that she has devoted her life to becoming an ambassador for peace, and has established a nonprofit organization called KIM Foundation International, which is dedicated to helping children who've been traumatized by war to heal, providing both medical and social services to support their recovery. (Gimundo)

Australia readying apology to Aborigines

The Australian government will take the historic step of offering a formal apology to Aborigines "as early as possible" in the new parliament, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said Monday.

Thousands of Aboriginal children, mostly of mixed descent, were taken from their parents over four decades up to the 1970s and adopted or put into foster care or institutions as part of an attempt to force assimilation. (AFP)

Cuba Throws Lifeline to Sea Turtles

Cuba has thrown a lifeline to the Caribbean’s endangered and critically endangered marine turtles with a government resolution ending all harvesting of marine turtles.

Such a resolution, ending Cuba’s long standing harvest of 500 critically endangered hawksbill turtles a year, has been sought by conservationists for more than a decade. It will benefit turtles hatching on beaches throughout the Caribbean and coming regularly to feed in Cuban waters. (Good News Network)

Donor Gives $130 Million to Bangladesh

An unidentified person has donated $130 million to help rebuild hundreds of schools and storm shelters destroyed by a cyclone along Bangladesh's southwest coast, the government said Wednesday.

The anonymous donation was made through the Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Development Bank, said senior finance ministry official Aminul Islam Bhuiyan, describing it as the single largest donation ever made by an individual to Bangladesh. (AP)

Glimmer of Hope for Botswana's Decimated Rhino Population

Africa's white rhinos were driven to the brink of extinction in the early 20th century as poachers hunted the animal for its horn. A breeding program launched in Botswana just over 10 years ago has been successful in bringing the white rhino back to Botswana's bush and it gives hope that black rhinos, which are still seriously endangered, may also survive.


Indiana Coach Bares Feet for Charity

A college basketball coach strode the court yesterday in bare feet to raise awareness for poor kids worldwide who have no shoes. At the last minute Converse donated 10,000 pairs of shoes pushing the total number donated to more than 100,000 for a US charity called Samaritan's Shoes.

As Living Kidney Donor, Near-Stranger Saves Man's Life

Two near strangers now have a connection for life. After two failed donor attempts last year, a woman felt a spiritual connection with a man whom she met at a Phoenix walk for PKD disease.

Rain Power: Harvesting Energy from the Sky

Researchers who study energy harvesting see energy all around us – we just need to find a way to capture that energy. One of the latest energy harvesting techniques is converting the mechanical energy from falling raindrops into electricity that can be used to power sensors and other electronics devices. (PhysOrg)

GM to Fill Historic Order for 1,700 Hybrid Buses

Major new orders from transit agencies in Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Minneapolis/St. Paul for up to 1,732 GM hybrid-powered buses will almost triple the current fleet worldwide and save an estimated 2.4 million gallons of fuel annually, enough to fill 300 tanker trucks. The delivery will include the largest single hybrid bus fleet acquisition in history – an order for 952 by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. (Good News Network)

'Black Billy Elliot' pirouettes past South African prejudices

His chosen vocation ridiculed by peers and elders alike, South African teenager Andile Ndlovu remains unwavering in his ambition to become a world-class ballet dancer. (AFP)


Bicing, Barcelona's Bike Sharing System

Renting bikes is definitely one of the most successful PSSs (Product Service Systems - access over ownership) in Europe.

With 1500 bicycles and 100 stations, connecting other public transport stations such as metro, train, buses and major car parks, the red and white bikes are to be seen all over town.
30 000 people subscribed to the service online in the first 2 months. (Treehugger)

4 year-old boy beats deadly disease three times

Four-year-old Bailey Smillie has confounded all expert opinion which says a person should only be able to contract meningococcal septicaemia once. More incredibly still, Bailey has beaten each bout of the illness – any of which could have killed him. (Good News Blog)

Muslim Conscientious Objector Allowed to Stay in Canada

Can a Muslim be a conscientious objector? Erkan (his first name) says yes. And in mid December he learned that his application for permission to stay in Canada, on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, was approved. (MCC)

How High Gas Prices Are Making Us Safer. Seriously.

Gas prices, thanks to the Global War on Terror and Hurricane Katrina, are now the highest in the nation's history. Gas easily tops $3 per gallon in San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, and other cities across the nation, making driving an expensive way to get around. For reference, gas prices have increased roughly 100% since 9/11.

What's the upside? That ridiculously expensive petroleum is prompting people to drive more slowly on highways, drive less often, buy more fuel-efficient cars, and take mass transit more often. (Mother Jones)

Cell Phone Can Read Documents for Blind

Chris Danielsen fidgets with the cell phone, holding it over a $20 bill. ''Detecting orientation, processing U.S. currency image,'' the phone says in a flat monotone before Danielsen snaps a photo. A few seconds later, the phone says, ''Twenty dollars.''

Danielsen, a spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, is holding the next generation of computerized aids for the blind and visually impaired.

The Nokia cell phone is loaded with software that turns text on photographed documents into speech. In addition to telling whether a bill is worth $1, $5, $10 or $20, it also allows users to read anything that is photographed, whether it's a restaurant menu, a phone book or a fax. (AP)


From fighters to friends, Vick's pit bulls learn new life

His back resting comfortably against her chest, Hector nestles his massive canine head into Leslie Nuccio's shoulder. The big dog -- 52 pounds -- is social, people-focused, happy now, it seems, wearing a rhinestone collar in his new home in sunny California. But as Hector sits up, deep scars stand out on his chest, and his eyes are imploring.

Hector ought to be dead, Nuccio knows -- killed in a staged fight, executed for not winning or euthanized by those who see pit bulls seized in busts as "kennel trash," unsuited to any kind of normal life. Instead, Hector is learning how to be a pet. (CNN)

Inspirational Basketball Player Defies Disability

Dax Crum plays division 1 basketball, averaging 18.6 points per game, even though he was born without a right hand. His coach says, "They ought to build a monument of him, all about defying the odds and playing for the right reasons." (FOX Sports)

NHLers to help ice global warming

NHL hockey is going green.

In a first for a major North American professional sports league, the National Hockey League Players Association is teaming up with the David Suzuki Foundation to promote action on climate change. And players are taking the lead by buying carbon credits to offset the environmental impact of their extensive travel during season play. (Toronto Star)

Dolls for World Peace

Elderly women in an assisted living center are recapturing life by making dolls for children in Darfur. Two thousand dolls have been made, each one soft and cuddly to serve the smallest child, and the project has grown. Dolls for World Peace has become "an intergenerational effort as disabled adults, girl scouts and people from the homeless shelter have joined them in making dolls." (Good News Network)

Woman Searching for Father Discovers She's Been Working In His Home

A Vietnamese woman searching for her father worked at his home in Taiwan for seven months without realising who he was. (AP)


Simon Cowell to Leave His Millions to Charity

Music mogul Simon Cowell has vowed to leave the majority of his $200 million fortune to a variety of children's and animals charities upon his death, writing it into his will. (Good News Network)

Mexico City Rolls Out Women-Only Buses

Groping and verbal harassment is an exasperating reality for women using public transportation in this sprawling capital, where 22 million passengers cram onto subways and buses each day. Some men treat women so badly that the subway system has long had ladies-only cars during rush hour, with police segregating the sexes on the platforms.

But that hasn't helped women forced to rely on packed buses, by far the city's most-used form of public transportation — until this week.

Acting on complaints from women's groups, the city rolled out "ladies only" buses, complete with pink signs in the windshields to wave off the men. (AP)

New Jersey scraps plan to buy Amazon rainforest timber

The city council of Ocean City in New Jersey voted 6-0 last Thursday to cancel a $1.1 million purchase of ipĂȘ timber originating in the Amazon rainforest. The move came after a campaign by environmental groups, including Ecological Internet, which runs Forests.org, a forest news web site. (Mongabay.com)

Huge kite helps container ship across Atlantic

Inventor expects major drop in fuel costs and warming emissions

Oil at more than $90 a barrel is concentrating minds in the shipping industry. Higher fuel costs and mounting pressure to curb emissions are leading modern merchant fleets to rediscover the ancient power of the sail. (Reuters)

Brazil to crack down on deforestation

Brazil will combat rising deforestation in the Amazon by sending extra federal police and environmental agents to areas where illegal clearing of the rain forest jumped dramatically last year, officials said Thursday. (AP)


In Papua New Guinea, mothers take charge

In a simple but striking example of grass roots development, a group of villagers on a remote island some 30 kilometers off Papua New Guinea’s northern coast have funded and built their own medical aid station. (One Country via Great News Network)

Customer Leaves $400 Tip For Waitress

It's well-known how important tips are for waiters and waitresses, but one local waitress got a tip this week that changed her life. (KMBC-TV)

Update: Bin Laden's Son Wants to be Peace Ambassador

Iraqi Boy Sends Messages of Peace in a Bottle

An Iraqi teenager who has endured tremendous loss hopes to end the hatred with a unique message. He and his friends are working towards peace by sending messages of hope and unity in bottles down the Euphrates River. The 14 year-old says he loves all the people of Iraq and hopes to encourage brotherhood among the sects with the peace messages. (CNNVideo)

Observant Teacher Likely Saves Student's Life

A Florida kindergarten teacher is credited with saving a student's life after she noticed the 5-year-old girl wasn't making eye contact and walked with a wobble. The teacher suggested the girl see a neurologist, who found a golf-ball sized tumor at the base of Sophie's brain.


Street kids get lessons in life at surf school

South African surfer Gary Kleynhans started free surfing classes for the street kids in his beach town. "Seven years later, he can boast of a generation of black, underprivileged kids who have not only learned to ride waves, but also picked up some important life skills – discipline, respect, and punctuality – along the way." (CS Monitor)

Progress being made on many fronts, says UN health agency chief

Progress in many areas of public health are a cause for optimism, the head of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) told the agency’s Executive Board in Geneva today.

Assessing the events of the past year, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan pointed to three particularly encouraging trends: an increased willingness to invest in health systems; recognition of the reality of climate change by world leaders; and the resurgence of interest in primary health care. (UN News Centre)

Major corporations to invest in UN-backed fight against AIDS, TB, malaria

The United Nations-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria today announced the launch of the Corporate Champions programme, an innovative way for multinational companies to significantly invest in the fight against the three diseases. (UN News Centre)

Blind seal at LA zoo ready to meet visitors

Visitors can now see the Los Angeles Zoo's newest attraction but he can't see them.

A blind harbour seal named Alfred, which made its debut Friday, was rescued off the coast of New Jersey nearly a year ago and after a long search by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center the LA Zoo took him in October. (CBC)

US Farmers Show Grass Makes Better Ethanol than Corn

Farmers in Nebraska and the Dakotas have worked with the USDA to plant switchgrass and measure the native plant's ability to deliver Ethanol more efficiently than corn. The results are dramatic. Switchgrass delivers 540 percent of the energy used to produce it, compared with just roughly 25 percent returned by traditional corn-based ethanol.

Check out the Scientific American article that discusses the work of plant scientists and farmers that show that "switchgrass will store enough carbon in its relatively permanent root system to offset 94 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted both to cultivate it and from the derived ethanol burned by vehicles." (Good News Network)


An Astronomy Book the Blind Can Appreciate

Telescopes have captured astonishing images of far-away galaxies and other cosmic mysteries. Now, a new book called Touch the Invisible Sky is helping everyone appreciate those pictures, even people who can't see. (NPR)

11-Year-Old's Idea May Become Law

Boy's Initiative May Be Passed as Law to Help Feed Homeless

Adults usually initiate the laws, but there's no law that says kids can't too.

"I thought it pretty disturbing to see pounds, pretty much, of food being thrown away every single day," the 11-year-old said.

Jack Davis is only 11, but he had a pretty grown-up idea: He was disturbed to learn that Florida restaurants throw out food that could be given to the hungry and the homeless -- because the restaurant owners could be sued if anyone who ate the food became ill or developed food poisoning.

Jack had visited a homeless shelter on school field trips and he worried about people going hungry. "I realized that I could make a difference by trying to change the law," Davis said.

"If you think there's a problem in the world, you don't wait for other people to fix it. You have to try to fix it yourself." (ABC)

UAE About to Start Building Green City in Desert

The United Arab Emirates plans to start building a multi-billion-dollar green city in the desert in the first quarter of this year, as the oil producer looks to become a pioneer of alternative energy. The zero-carbon, zero waste city -- actually a town of up to 15,000 residents -- is being steered by Masdar, an initiative set up by the Abu Dhabi government to develop sustainable and clean energy. (Planet Ark)

Carbon-Neutral City in San Francisco Mayor's Environmental Plan

Inefficient fluorescent bulbs were the first targets Tuesday of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's newly unveiled environmental agenda.

Newsom's SForward program, announced in his inaugural address last week, seeks to lower the city's carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2010, and to make city government carbon neutral by 2020. (ABC News10)

New York City Council says big stores must recycle plastic bags

Large stores throughout the New York City must provide bins for recycling plastic bags under a bill passed Wednesday by the City Council. (Newsday)


Singapore Opens "Green" Airport Terminal

Singapore opened a new "green" airport terminal on Wednesday, boasting energy-saving skylights, a butterfly garden and over 200 species of foliage spread over enough floor space to cover 50 soccer fields.

The terminal is designed to run on lower energy costs compared to the older terminals, mainly via natural lighting from the 919 skylights and by positioning air-conditioners nearer to floor-level. (Reuters)

Japan police receive 400th secret pledge to poor after 33 years

A Japanese police station Wednesday paid tribute to an anonymous donor who has handed in envelopes full of cash to give to the needy every month for more than 33 years.

The police station in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, received the first envelope in August 1974, which contained 1,000 yen, or nine dollars at the current rate.

It did not bear a sender's name but enclosed a piece of paper only saying: "Please use this for the unprivileged people." (AFP)

Uzbekistan abolishes the death penalty

The trend towards total abolition of the death penalty has continued with Uzbekistan becoming the latest country to put an end to executions.

From 1 January 2008, it becomes the 135th country in the world to abolish the death penalty in law or practice. Capital punishment has now been replaced with life or long-term imprisonment. (Amnesty)

A river runs through it, again

Legal action resulted in the revival of a stream that had become little more than sand and rocks

What Los Angeles took a century ago -- a 100km stretch of river in the parched Owens Valley -- it is now giving back.

One of the largest river restoration projects in the country has sent a gentle current of water meandering through what just a year ago was largely a sandy, rocky bed best used as a horse trail and barely distinguishable from the surrounding high desert scrub. (NY Times article)

Bin Laden's son aspires to be peace activist

Omar Osama bin Laden bears a striking resemblance to his notorious father — except for the dreadlocks that dangle halfway down his back. Then there's the black leather biker jacket.

The 26-year-old does not renounce his father, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but in an interview with the Associated Press, he said there is better way to defend Islam than militancy: Omar wants to be an "ambassador for peace" between Muslims and the West. (USA Today)


New Tree Species Found in Madagascar

A self-destructing palm tree that flowers once every 100 years and then dies has been discovered on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, botanists said Thursday.

The name of the giant palm and its remarkable life cycle will be detailed in a study by Kew Gardens scientists in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society published Thursday. (AP)

Saint John hotels offer beds free to stranded school groups

Two hotels in Saint John are offering school groups free accommodations if the roads are too dangerous to travel.

The management of the Fort Howe Hotel and Courtenay Bay Hotel made the decision on Monday following a weekend accident that killed seven Bathurst High School basketball players and a teacher.

The idea to open the hotels' doors to schools that need a place to bed down during a storm was the owner's idea, Lombard Lloyd said, and it is hoped other hotels will follow suit. (CBC)

Arab Sitcom Becomes Surprise Hit in Israel

Every week in Israel, thousands of Jewish families open up their homes to an Arab family. The latter are only fictional characters — from the hit Israeli sitcom Arab Work — but still, many say this is a critical marker in (pop culture) history. (NPR)

First Snow for 100 Years Falls on Baghdad

The people in Baghdad delightedly woke up early on Friday morning to watch the extraordinary snowfall on their neighborhoods for the first time in memory. Jubilant children and elderly gathered in the yards and on the roofs and some in the streets dancing. (GNN)

With Diet, Exercise and Friendship, Man Loses 400 Pounds

In a courageous journey of personal transformation, fueled by friendship and the ability to trust after so many years, a man is able to lose 400 pounds. He is now best friends with his trainer, fitness correspondent for Good Morning Arizona, Chris Powell. (ABC)


Israeli pianist Barenboim takes Palestinian passport

Daniel Barenboim, the world renowned Israeli pianist and conductor, has taken Palestinian citizenship and said he believed his rare new [dual-citizen] status could serve a model for peace between the two peoples. (Reuters)

Fostering Success After Foster Care: Boy Turns Bad Experience into Inspiring Program

For youth “aging out” of the foster care system at age 18, thrust out on their own, homelessness or crime can be a consequence of efforts to support themselves. Now, a service in Milwaukee gives young adults the guidance, financial assistance, and occasional “kick in the butt” needed to move their lives forward in a positive direction. (Good News Network)

India to provide subsidy for solar power plants

India will subsidize the running of solar power plants to help develop a renewable energy infrastructure, where high costs can be prohibitive, the minister for renewable energy said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

GM to make biofuel out of garbage

General Motors is planning on making biofuel with garbage at a cost of less than a dollar a gallon, the company's chief has said.

The US automaker has entered into a partnership with Illinois-based company Coskata which has developed a way to make ethanol from practically any renewable source, including old tires and plant waste.

The process is a significant improvement over corn-base ethanol because it uses far less water and energy and does not divert food into fuel. (AFP)

Beijing to switch to cleaner fuel: report

China will phase in cleaner motor fuel in Beijing in the next two months while keeping pump prices unchanged, a local newspaper said on Tuesday, in a move to clean the capital's smoggy skies ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Oil product wholesalers and retailers will be required to start supplying gasoline and diesel fuel conforming to the cleaner Euro IV standard from January 1, and complete a replenishing of their tanks with the new fuel by the end of February, the Beijing News said. (Reuters)


FARC Frees Hostages in Deal Brokered by Chavez

Two female hostages held in the jungle by Colombian rebels for more than five years were released Thursday in a deal brokered by the president of Venezuela.

Rojas and Gonzalez smiled broadly as they spoke by satellite phone with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who negotiated their release.

"A thousand times thank you," Rojas said. "We are being reborn!" (NPR)

Dog's bite saves boy and pals from house fire

A black Labrador that bit a 13-year-old boy's foot repeatedly, waking him up, is being credited with saving the boy and two of his friends from a house fire. (AP)

French use happiness as economic measure

What price happiness?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is seeking an answer to the eternal question - so happiness can be included in measurements of French economic growth. (AP)

Australian gov't aims to ditch plastic bags by year end

Australia's government said Thursday it hoped to phase out the use of plastic bags from the nation's shopping centres by the end of the year.

The initiative comes after China this week announced that later this year shoppers would have to pay for plastic bags while the manufacture of ultra-fine bags would be banned outright. (AFP)

Ultra-Cheap 'Nano' Car Debuts in India

India's Tata Motors has unveiled what is being billed as the world's cheapest car — the $2,500 Nano. At the 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi on Thursday, Company Chairman Ratan N. Tata said the four-person sedan, also called the People's Car, is an all-weather alternative to the motor scooter.

It meets all safety and environmental requirements, Tata said. And, in these days of escalating gas prices, it gets a respectable 50 mpg and has lower emissions levels than the scooters now produced in India. (NPR)


Hungary to introduce protocol for rape victims and survivors

Representatives of the Government of Hungary met with non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International, on 5 December 2007 to discuss the introduction of a protocol for survivors of sexual violence in the home. (Amnesty)

Calf survives marathon swim down flooded Australian river

A calf was rescued after being carried 70 kilometres down a raging river during flooding in eastern Australia, officials said Wednesday. (CBC)

4 healthy habits can increase lifespan by 14 years, study suggests

People who fill up on fruits and veggies, exercise regularly, limit alcohol consumption and don't smoke live an average of 14 years longer than those who don't abide by these healthy habits, according to a new U.K. study.

"The four health behaviours were within the usual range found in a free-living population," the study said. "Though relatively modest and achievable, their combined impact was associated with an estimated four-fold difference in mortality risk, equivalent to 14 years in chronological age." (CBC)

Swedes to use body heat to warm offices

A Swedish company plans to harness the body heat generated by thousands of commuters scrambling to catch their trains at Stockholm's main railway station and use it for heating a nearby office building.

Real estate firm Jernhusen AB believes the system can provide about 15 percent of the heating needed for a 13-storey building being built next to the Central Station in the Swedish capital. (AP)

GM to unveil hydrogen-electric Cadillac model

General Motors Corp. will unveil a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered Cadillac crossover concept vehicle at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

GM envisions the five-passenger Provoq going 300 miles on a single fill-up of hydrogen, getting 280 miles from hydrogen power and 20 miles from batteries. (AP)


NYC's taxi fleet will be green by 2012

The city's yellow taxi fleet will go entirely hybrid within five years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Tuesday.

Nearly 400 fuel-efficient hybrids have been tested in the city's taxi fleet over the past 18 months, with models including the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the Lexus RX 400h and the Ford Escape.

Under Bloomberg's plan, that number will increase to 1,000 by October 2008, then will grow by about 20% each year until 2012, when every yellow cab — currently numbering 13,000 — will be a hybrid. (USA Today)

Florida manatee deaths decreased in 2007

The number of endangered manatees that died in Florida waters last year dropped by 24 percent, according to preliminary report on Monday from the state's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The commission, which in December postponed a decision on whether to remove the manatee from the state's endangered species list, said 317 manatees died in 2007 compared to 417 in 2006, the highest death toll on record. (Reuters)

A restaurant with no checks

At the Karma Kitchen in Berkeley, Calif., customers pay what they want – including nothing – for a meal.

Patrons of Karma Kitchen don't need to fight for the check at the end of a meal. There isn't one. Instead, the "guests" of this restaurant are handed a gold envelope with a handwritten note on the outside that says, "Have a lovely evening." Inside a bookmarker-sized card states: "In the spirit of generosity, someone who came before you made a gift of this meal. We hope you will continue the circle of giving in your own way!" (CS Monitor)

New National Park for Russian Tigers

Endangered northern Amur (Siberian) tigers have received a boost to their protection through the creation of a new national park in the Russian Far East. The Russian Government signed a decree declaring the new Aniyuiskii national park in December, making it the third established in the Khabarovsk province this year, lessening the extreme pressures on the tigers from uncontrolled logging, construction and wildfires. (Good News Network)