Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Good News Round-Up for Week Two of October 2017

by Nomad

With ugly events happening every place you turn, with stupid insensitive people running the show, and with so many people affected by man's inhumanity to man and all living things, you might sometimes think the world has gone to shit.

You might think that last remaining thing on the to-do list is to shovel the whole mess into a trash can and walk away.
That's one plan.

Giving in to despair might seem like the easiest thing to do. No question about that. That course, however, never made the world a better place, never saved a life and never inspired anybody to be a better person.

To remedy that, it is time for a round-up of the despair-immunizing news for the month. Let's start our search for good news in what might seem an unlikely place. The Carribean.

Recovery Begins Here and Now

As we have heard, only around 5.4 percent of citizens on the U.S. territory have electricity after Hurricane Maria ravaged the US-territorial island of Puerto Rico. It is hard to imagine surviving and rebuilding after something as devastating like that.  It would take years, perhaps decades to recover.

And yet, for one company, 40-acre nursery (think ornamental plants, not toddlers) in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico already has a head-state on the rebuilding period.
Cali Nurseries grower Hector Santiago told Reuters that his $300,000 investment on 244 solar panels six years ago has allowed him to continue working.
According to the source, his neighbors told Santiago that he was nuts to install the solar panels because of the expense. Now, sitting in the dark, they might be having second thoughts.

Santiago also told reporters that although about a quarter of the panels were damaged by the storm, the remaining ones provide sufficient power for the facility and for electric pumps for the two wells.
Not only is that good news for Senor Santiago, it's also a message to those wondering whether investing in alternative energy sources is the right way to go.

Big Score for Socialized Medicine

Staying in the region, here's another story I found that offers a glint of sunlight in the darkness.
The drug Heberferon, developed in Cuba for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma of the skin, was not an accidental discovery. It is, in fact, the result of 20 years of research. This type of carcinoma accounts for at least 32% of all cancers globally.

After encouraging clinical trials, Heberferon has currently become one of the leading medicines of the Cuban biotechnology. Dr. Iraldo Bello, a Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) researcher, explained that:
"although the evaluation period can be considered short, a favorable impact on the quality of life of patients with the most frequent tumors was evident with the use of the drug."
Less than six months after government approval of a program for its distribution, Heberferon is now available throughout the island. That's a remarkable achievement especially when you compare some of the price-gouging and low-down tactics of some (but not all) of the Big Pharma corporations in other countries.

Later this year, Cuban doctors will Cuba begin several clinical trials with Heberferon to treat different kinds of cancer, including renal carcinoma, as well as malignant brain tumors. 

Hungry Fungi

One doesn't expect to find much in the way of scientific discoveries in garbage dumps. Yet, apparently, wonders never cease.
As one of the most useful and convenient products ever created, it was probably inevitable that plastic refuse would eventually flood the world. There's hardly any spot on the planet that hasn't been impacted by indestructible plastic garbage.

Researchers in Pakistan may have found a new tool in the war on plastic pollution. Dr. Sehroon Khan of the World Agroforestry Centre and Kunming Institute of Biology took samples from a rubbish dump in Islamabad in order to learn whether "anything was feeding on the plastic in the same way that other organisms feed on dead plant or animal matter”.

To his surprise, he was able to isolate a fungus, identified as Aspergillus tubingensis, with an ability to degrade polyester polyurethane.
This discovery cannot be called totally unheard of. In fact, two species of the Ecuadorian fungus Pestalotiopsis are also capable of biodegrading polyurethane in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

Presently, Khan and his team are analyzing the optimum conditions for the fungus.
“This could pave the way for using the fungus in waste treatment plants, or even in soils which are already contaminated by plastic waste.”

The Town Where the Poor are Fed

Speaking of the Russian people in 1963, President Kennedy cautioned American citizens against painting with too wide a brush when it came to judging people from other nations.
No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue.
The remote town of Karakocan in eastern Turkey may not be much to look at in terms of touristic sights but it does have one tradition handed down from generation to generation.
Many of the local restaurants offer free food to those in need. For local residents, this tradition is a means of fulfilling their responsibility to assist the less fortunate.
Mehmet Ozturk, 55, the owner and manager of one of Karakocan’s busiest restaurants, Merkez, for nearly 35 years, says he always keeps at least three tables reserved for those in need, even during rush hour when his eatery is cramped. According to Ozturk, "the poor never fail to come".
On any given day, Ozturk says at least 15 people come to his restaurant to receive a free meal. According to residents, around 100 people eat for free each day across the whole town, which is home to around 28,000 people, according to official statistics. 
God bless Mehmet Bey and the open-hearted tradition of Karakocan.  

But wait, this idea of a restaurant offering charity has found another champion.

Serbian professional tennis player, Novak Djokovic, is widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. After taking time out from the world of sports, Djokovic has devoted himself to establishing and managing his own chain of restaurants.
In 2009, he opened his first eatery called Novak close to the Belgrade Arena in the Serbian capital. Food is, he told reporters, "a passion for him." Opening a restaurant is something of a family tradition. His parents too reportedly owned a restaurant when he was growing up.
Of all the things I’ve experienced in life, food has changed me the most. I wanted to share that impact with the world."
But it's not just about the profit margin and not only about fulfilling his dream. According to one source,
Djokovic revealed customers will be able to dine for free after claiming he wants to give back to those who have supported him.Novak said in a statement: "Money is not problem for me. I have earned enough to feed all of Serbia..." "I think that they deserve this after all the support they are giving to me."

On that note, I will close this month's Good News Round-up. I hope it helps- at least, in a small way, to stave off the discouragement and gloom that we've all been feeling lately.