In a Major Victory for Individual Liberty and Equal Rights, Women in Saudi Arabia Will Be Allowed to Drive!

Women in Saudi Arabia are celebrating the news that they will be able to drive, bringing the country in line with the rest of the world and  allowing women greater individual freedom, autonomy and ability to work. Saudi’s King Salman has issued a royal decree, and the policy will go into effect in June 2018.

As reported by CNN, the current ban means that women have to arrange for- and often pay-a driver for vehicle transportation. Besides being a major hassle, this takes up a large amount of money that they could otherwise spend on their children’s health or education. As one Saudi woman said, “I live in a country that I can’t explore. I’ve always wanted to explore the kingdom’s coasts… I can’t take someone I don’t know to drive me to these places and my brothers are too busy to take me on long trips.”

Under the new policy, she hopes that “life will be faster,” more spontaneous and more adventurous. One campaigner for the change has said: “Saudi Arabia will never be the same again. The rain begins with a single drop.”
Photo tweeted on Tuesday by Manal al-Sharif, one of the women behind the Women2Drive campaign in Saudi Arabia. In 2011, she was jailed and received death threats for posting a video of herself driving.  

Singer With Stunningly Beautiful Voice Transcends Deafness Before a National Audience

“When you see and hear a performance by Mandy Harvey, one of the final ten contestants in the latest round of America’s Got Talent, the first thing you notice is her voice. Look down at her feet, though, and you might also notice she’s not wearing shoes.” So begins an article this week from NPR.

Mandy Harvey sings using the perfect pitch she was born with and the feel of the vibration from the drums and the bass that she feels through the floor. In college, she completely lost all hearing in both ears, but working with her dad she found that she could still feel the music and sing.

The results are Flawless. Beautiful. Stunning.  An amazing example of the the way that the human mind is able to overcome biology and environment and how life so often finds a way to meet its fullest potential.

Inspirational Message: If there is something holding you back from meeting your fullest potential, think of creative ways to move past it and transcend your perceived limitations.

Watch video of Mandy below:

 

Scientists Can Protect DNA From Damage Caused by Aging

 

Scientists have recently identified a compound with anti-aging properties and have pinpointed how it likely works in mice to repair errors in the DNA aging process.

As reported by TIME Magazine, scientists saw very quick and obvious age reversal in muscle and improvements in DNA repair in mice exposed to the compound. “We can’t tell the difference between the tissues from an old mouse that is two years old versus a young mouse that is three to four months old,” said one scientist.

To see if such quick reversal of aging in tissues is also possible in humans, a company in Boston called MetroBiotech is developing and testing a human-grade version of the compound, which is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in foods like broccoli, cucumber, avocado and edamame.

“Sit With Us”- An app to help lonely teenagers find someone to sit with at lunch

A 16-year-old from California has developed and launched an app to help students find a kind and welcoming group to eat lunch with at their school. The app is called “Sit With Us.”

Natalie Hampton was inspired to create it after she was the victim of bullying and sat alone at lunch her entire seventh-grade year. The experience made her feel lonely and vulnerable. She suffered from stress, depression and nightmares. She wants to save others from this experience.

As reported by NPR and Ajax.com, Hampton said the new app is especially helpful because the electronic process prevents children from being publicly rejected and being considered social outcasts by their peers.

“This way it’s very private. It’s through the phone. No one else has to know,” Hampton told Audie Cornish on NPR’s All Things Considered. “And you know that you’re not going to be rejected once you get to the table.”

PSA to parents/future parents of middle and high schoolers- tell your child about this app, even if you think they don’t need it. Maybe you don’t know as much as you think or maybe they could help someone else in need. 

Diverted 9/11 Passengers Raise More Than $1.5M for Students in the Canadian town that Housed Them

On September 11, 2001, passengers on board Delta Flight 15 were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, where they waited out the crisis and ensuing air traffic control nightmare in local high schools, community buildings, shelters, and private residences.

The passengers on this and 52 other planes grounded  in Gander were taken in for two days by the local residents and supported by local high school student volunteers.

When the passengers from Flight 15 got back together for the return flight, one of them got on the plane’s PA system to announce that he was starting a trust fund for the education of the high school students of the town and began collecting contributions.

The “Delta 15” fund now stands at more than $1.5 million and has already assisted 134 students in obtaining a college education.

To quote one of the flight attendants on Flight 15, “In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.”

The full account of this amazing story is available at www.thecoast.net.

 

Photo credit to CBC.CA

80 form human chain to rescue family of 9 in riptide at Panama City Beach, Florida

An obvious addition to the PositiveNewsOnline treasure trove, CNN and others report that strangers on a beach formed an 80-person human chain to successfully rescue nine members of a family who had been caught in a riptide.

This is amazing and emblematic of the human spirit and human ingenuity.

Photo credit to theguardian.com.

The Language Barrier Will Soon Be a Thing of the Past

Forget the days of trying to talk to someone of another language and flipping through a pocket dictionary to find the right word, struggling through an awkward guessing game of various nouns, verbs and non-word sounds to try to communicate with the person. Today’s translation tools can provide real-time translation that you can carry with you in your pocket.

According to the Wall Street Journal,  translation tools of the modern age were developed by computing more than a billion translations a day for over 200 million people. With the exponential growth in data, that number is growing and the ever-evolving software is filling in the communication gaps in pronunciation and interpretation.

A pocket translator seems like fun in and of itself, but think of the possibilities in medical care, education, scientific collaboration, etc… when the communication barrier is removed, and we can communicate easily with people we would otherwise be cut off from. We will be more connected as a species. It’s almost biblical in proportions, isn’t it? Sayonara, language barrier!

Photo courtesy of wearbleo.com.

Eagle Scout Project Creates a Sensory Education Room to Help Kids With Autism to Learn

Responding to the needs he saw in his own brother and other autistic students, this Eagle Scout created a Sensory Education Room at his local middle school to help autistic students learn in a specially tailored environment.

He raised $30,000 and was able to develop and build two such rooms. The teachers are overjoyed at the new learning opportunities they are able to offer their students and the ways this room is developing them. This is awesome!

To learn more, watch the video here.

The Ocean Clean-Up Project Will Clean Up 50% of the World’s Largest Ocean Garbage Patch in Five Years

 

Photo credit: Dezeen.com

The Ocean Cleanup foundation, founded by Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat when he was just 20 years old, will begin work in the first half of 2018– two years ahead of schedule!

Its first major operation will begin in an area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a swirling vortex of mainly plastic waste located in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean.

As reported by dezeen.com —

“The team will use a floating barrier to slowly push the plastic to shore. This update of the initial design, which was recognised at the Designs of The Year awards in 2015, will be weighted to move with the current instead of fixed to the sea bed. Once ashore, the waste plastic would be recycled and turned into sellable products to help fund the project.

… ‘The elegance of the design is that we managed to make it even simpler,’ he added. ‘It’s just one barrier, one anchor, two lines connecting them and a central passive collection point for the plastic.’

… Slat first came up with the Ocean Cleanup idea in 2011 when he was 16, after a diving holiday in Greece where he saw a huge amount of plastic waste in the water. He developed this into a school project, which was given an award by Delft’s University of Technology.

His organisation now has over 100 volunteers, including scientists and engineers, and is supported by 15 other institutions.”

According to its website, a full-scale deployment of the system is estimated to clean up 50 % of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years.

Great news for our planet and how inspiring that one idea can make all the difference!

 

A Striving Community Heals Itself While Re-birthing a Natural Wildlife Habitat

NPR recently reported on the story of youth at the Southeast D.C.’s Valley Green housing project, who started a project more than 20 years ago to clean up an Anacostia tributary and transformed their own lives in the process.

As reported by NPR, “‘Those were some serious times, rough times,’ recalls Burrell Duncan, who was among the first volunteers.

The choices facing kids in Valley Green in the early 1990s were stark. ‘You could be three things,’ Duncan says — ‘a drug dealer, a killer or you could play sports.'”

Between 1994 and 1998, members of the group, who dubbed themselves the Earth Conservation Corps, raised and released 16 bald eagles. They named the eagles in memory of their friends who had been killed in street and drug-related violence.

Said one, “We wasn’t supposed to live to see the age of 21 … We was just as endangered as this majestic bird.”

A cocaine dealer who found his way to the Earth Conservation Corps more than two decades ago is now a licensed falconer – one of only 30 African-American falconers in the entire U.S., as he tells to schoolchildren when he visits them in their classrooms. He teaches kids to face their fears as part of a D.C. police program called Youth Creating Change, which works with at-risk youth to help them get a job and get involved in community service.

At the same time that youth in the Earth Conservation Corp are being built up themselves, they are also helping to rebuild a historically polluted and overlooked wildlife habitat.  On the day that NPR interviewed them, the group was building the bones of a new osprey nest – welded out of decommissioned firearms seized by the D.C. police.

The Earth Conservation Corps has a website, with a Live Eagle-cam.

I took this photo this morning of ECC Headquarters at the Diamond Teague Pier.

My family and I recently took a trip down the Anacostia, where we spotted several bald eagles along the way. If you would like to take your own trip, contact the Anacostia Riverkeepers to arrange a free tour (supported by the D.C. 5-cent plastic bag tax), and enjoy the beauty of the emerging wildlife, and the hope inspired by the ongoing renewal of nature and community.

Photo credit: Nicole Boucher