Uplifiting News

Politics • American • US
Peaceful vigil at George Floyd's death site
Graffiti mural honouring George Floyd in Minneapolis
Graffiti mural honouring George Floyd in Minneapolis Credit: unsplash.com/munshots

A peaceful vigil was held at the site of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. Hundreds of protestors met just hours after George Floyd's brother had visited the site. People gathered in a circle of signs and flowers, many held hands. One of the signs read: "I shouldn’t have to fear for my black children’s future", another: "Stop killing my black brothers and sisters."

Education • University Education
First black woman student body president elected at MIT
Maclaurin Buildings and Great Dome at MIT, Cambridge
Maclaurin Buildings and Great Dome at MIT, Cambridge Credit: Carol M. Highsmith / Public domain

Danielle Geathers, alongside running mate Yu Jing Chen, was elected as president of the Undergraduate Association at MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Geathers, who previously served as the diversity officer, is the first black woman in the university's 159-year-history to be elected as student body president. “Although some people think it is just a figurehead role, figureheads can matter in terms of people seeing themselves in terms of representation. Seeing yourself at a college is kind of an important part of the admissions process", so Geathers.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Music
Bolivian orchestra finally going home after months in Germany
Orquesta Experimental de Instrumentos Nativos
Orquesta Experimental de Instrumentos Nativos Credit: OEIN (Reproduction)

Musicians of the Orquesta Experimental de Instrumentos Nativos plan to go back to Bolivia after being stranded for about 80 days in the Rheinsberg Palace, a castle in Germany.
The orchestra had arrived in Germany on March 10 to perform at a music festival, but their three planned performances were cancelled in the days that followed, and as Bolivia's government announced it would close its borders, the orchestra scrambled to get home but failed.

Politics • Oceanian
Found: Missing New Zealand walkers rescued after 19 days
Kahurangi National Park on the South Island of New Zealand
Kahurangi National Park on the South Island of New Zealand Credit: W. Bulach / CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Jessica O-Connor and Dion Reynolds were found in the New Zealand wilderness after 19 days. The two 23-year-olds got lost in Kahurangi National Park and sustained injuries in a fall. They found a water source and were able to make a fire, which was then seen by a search helicopter.

Politics • African
Fifty trafficked Nigerian women have been freed

In an evacuation on Sunday, fifty trafficked Nigerian women were rescued and freed from Lebanon and will soon be returned to their homes after the end of their quarantine period. NAPTIP (National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons) is to be responsible for interviewing the women. NAPTIP reports say that over 20,000 Nigerian women and girls were trafficked and forced into prostitution in 2019.

Politics • Oceanian
New Zealand reports zero Covid-19 hospitalisations
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Credit: gg.govt.nz

New Zealand's newest Covid-19 update reports zero Covid-19 hospitalisations and no new positive cases in the past five days. Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, reported the release of the last hospitalised patient today. The number of people infected with the novel Coronavirus is down to 21.

Dogs taught to recognize smell of Covid-19 infections
Dogs taught to recognize smell of Covid-19 infections
Credit: unsplash.com/Yaroslava Eff

In a pilot study by the University of Helsinki, researchers have taught dogs to pick up on the smell of Covid-19 infections. According to the study, it took only a few weeks until the first dogs were able to distinguish urine samples from Covid-19 patients from the urine of healthy individuals. As a next step, a randomized, double-blind study with a larger scale of samples will be prepared.

Climate & Environment
Taiwan's Green Island introduces project for waste reduction
Sign for a water refill station
Sign for a water refill station Credit: unsplash.com/Meritt Thomas

Green Island, a small volcanic island and tourist attraction east of Taiwan, is introducing a plan to reduce plastic waste. To counteract the use of bottled water, the island will grant access to 33 potable water facilities in public locations where travellers can refill their own water bottles.

Costa Rica legalizes same-sex marriage
Love is Love Mural
Love is Love Mural Credit: unsplash.com/Yoav Hornung

On Tuesday night, Costa Rica became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriages, after a ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2018 stating that "all of its signatory countries must allow same-sex marriage". The country has removed the sixth item of article 14 of Costa Rica's Family Code, which prohibited people of the same sex to get married, making marriage equality the law.

Lifestyle • Religion
Muslim community thanks IKEA for letting them pray in car park to keep physical distancing
Muslims praying in IKEA car park
Muslims praying in IKEA car park Credit: IGMG Wetzlar FATİH CAMİİ via Facebook

The Ikea store in Wetzlar near the German city of Frankfurt had agreed to let the local mosque use the car park for their prayers. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic distancing measures were required and in a Facebook post, the Muslim community IGMG Wetzlar FATİH CAMİİ thanked the local police and the store for their help in making the prayers possible.

Education • University Education
First woman with down syndrome graduates from Rowan University

AnnaRose Rubright has graduated from Rowan University,  New Jersey as the first person with down syndrome at the beginning of May after completing a four-year program in radio, television and film. Rubright stated that "most of my family members cried" and that "it was very emotional for me and a bit overwhelming". As the first oldest of six daughters, she felt the importance to show her sisters that she could accomplish her dreams. The director of the academic success center and disability resources at Rowan University, John Woodruff, has stated that the standards for people with disabilities at the university are not lower, but that the university provides accommodations the help.

Study suggests that plasma transfusions from Covid-19 survivors could boost survival rates of other patients

A study conducted by the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York suggests that a blood transfusion from patients that previously had recovered from Covid-19 could improve the survival rates of other patients. The study compares the health of 39 patients that had received the transfusion with 39 patients who didn't and was published on medRxiv in a preprint state - meaning that it still has to undergo peer-review by other researchers. The study also hasn't been randomized, but according to the researchers the study "does show promise that convalescent plasma is effective" as the research is still going on.

Climate & Environment
Ashaninka indigenous people win lawsuit against illegal logging

With the lawsuit being handed in during the 1990s, the Ashaninka group has won a decades-long dispute against forestry companies that illegally cut down parts of the Amazon forest. The companies and their legal teams have agreed to $3 million in compensations and have stated publicly their acknowledgement of the "enormous importance of the Ashaninka people as guardians of the forest, zealous in the preservation of the environment".

Politics • Asian • China
Wuhan has completed over 2.4 million tests for Covid-19 in two days

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the Covid-19 originated, has successfully tested around 2.4 million people in just two days. The city council had ordered the mass testing with the goal to find hidden carriers and prevent a second wave of outbreaks, as the lockdown in the city has been eased. Wuhan plans on continuing the testing with the aim to test all 11 million residents.

Covid-19 lockdowns reduced influenza infections
Covid-19 lockdowns reduced influenza infections
Credit: Tedward Quinn

Nature reports that "Lockdowns and social-distancing measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus seem to have shortened the influenza season in the northern hemisphere by about six weeks."
In the Northern hemisphere, seasonal flu cases peak in February and reduce until the end of May. During 2020, the number of lab-confirmed cases of influenza dropped abruptly at the beginning of April -- few weeks after the Covid-19 pandemic was declared.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Celebrities & Public Figures
Captain Tom Moore to be awarded knighthood

Captain Tom Moore, the veteran who has raised millions for NHS charities, will be receiving knighthood, making him Captain Sir Tom Moore. Boris Johnson recommended the veteran for the honour which has been approved by the Queen and is set to be formally announced on Wednesday. Johnson added: "On behalf of everyone who has been moved by his incredible story, I want to say a huge thank you. He's a true national treasure."

Climate & Environment
Scientists estimate 17 per cent decline in carbon emissions due to Covid-19

A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change states that following the movement restrictions, closure of workplaces and factories as well as the closure of borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, scientists estimate that the daily carbon dioxide emissions have declined an estimated 17 per cent.

Politics • Asian
Taiwan announces 11 days without new Covid-19 infection

The Minister of Health and Welfare and head of the Central Epidemic Command Center in Taiwan, Chen Shih-chung, has announced that for the 11th consecutive day no new cases of the coronavirus have been reported.

Business • Economy
Italy's 10-Week-Lockdown Has Ended
Bar Bistro in Naples, Italy
Bar Bistro in Naples, Italy Credit: unsplash.com/Bertrand Borie

Italy's economy came to a halt in early March, making it the first Western country to impose a nationwide lockdown. Now, after ten weeks, the country is reopening retail stores, restaurants and other customer-oriented establishments. As the nation begins to allow unlimited travel, social distancing rules still apply and people must stay 2 metres (6.5ft) apart.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Celebrities & Public Figures
Corey Taylor raised over $150,000 for Direct Relief's Covid-19 efforts

Corey Taylor, vocalist of Slipknot and Stone Sour, raised over $150,000 for the Covid-19 response effort of humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief. Taylor auctioned off 13 of his guitars and basses, including a Gold Top Gibson Classic Les Paul and a gold metallic Gibson Memphis Dave Grohl DG-335, on eBay for a total of $75,000. eBay matched the raised sum, bringing the donation to $150,000.

Politics • American • US
Magic Johnson’s company funding $100 million in loans help minority-owned small businesses
Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson Credit: Neon Tommy (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Magic Johnson's life insurance company,l EquiTrust Life Insurance Co. is giving out $100 million to assist women- and minority-owned enterprises amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Johnson stated his concerns that small businesses were struggling to obtain PPP loans.
“We knew why the money was gone and couldn’t trickle down to small businesses, especially small minority businesses, because they didn’t have those great relationships with the banks", Johnson told the Wall Street Journal. “So this was easy for us to understand.”

Climate & Environment
Intel commits to cut waste and greenhouse gas emissions
Intel sticker on laptop computer
Intel sticker on laptop computer Credit: pexels.com/Jordan Harrison

Intel recently announced their environmental goals for 2030. The technology company aims to make the switch to 100% renewable energy and to recycle all its trash by the end of the decade. Currently, Intel does recycle over 90% of its trash and hazardous waste. Even though the company is decreasing its own emissions, they are not counting emission caused by companies and factories in their supply chain.

Japan sees decline in suicides during lockdown

Japan sees a decline in suicide rates this April, dropping by 20% compared to the same time last year. 1,814 people took their own lives in April 2019 compared to 1,455 in 2020.

The Covid-19 lockdown was initially thought to show an increased rate in suicides because of suicide prevention helplines not working and the pandemic was believed to be a heightened stress factor. While Japan saw a growing number of suicides of children in the last years, triggered by bullying and academic problems, it's believed this number has decreased due to children being safe at home with their families.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Literature
Captain Tom Moore to release two books this year

Captain Tom Moore, the British WWII veteran who has raised millions for health care workers by walking laps in his garden, is set to release two new books this year. His autobiography will be titled "Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day" and will be published on September 17. His yet-unnamed children's book is set to be released on October 1.

Science • Space
Discovery of Rare Super-Earth at End of Galaxy

A discovery made by University of Canterbury astronomers shows a rare Super-Earth planet near the end of our galaxy. The planet was discovered using gravitational microlensing, a technique that detects planets regardless of the amount of light they emit. The planet's mass and orbit are both similar to that of Earth.

Gym owner lets members check out equipment to train at home
Empty Gym
Empty Gym Credit: unsplash.com/Jelmer Assink

Drew Whitted, owner of Be Strong Gym in Illinois, told his members that they could pick up gym equipment free of charge so they could continue training at home during the Covid-19 shutdown. According to Whitted the members picked up equipment worth of $40,000 in under two hours with help from the gym's staff. While the stay-in-place-orders are still active, Be Strong Gym is offering online training to keep its staff employed.

113-year-old woman in Spain beats Covid-19

Maria Branyas, who's believed to be the oldest woman in Spain, has beaten the coronavirus. She was diagnosed positive in March and consequently isolated herself, suffering only from mild symptoms. Her daughter had tweeted that "she is well" and her old self again.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Music
REFORM Alliance is donating 10 million surgical masks to jails and prisons

Jay-Z and Meek Mill's organisation REFORM Alliance is donating and sending out 10 million surgical masks and other protective equipment to jails and prisons across the United States. This comes after a $10 million donation of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who pledge $1 billion to Covid-19 relief funds.

Education • University Education
Princeton University announces first black valedictorian

Princeton, one of the eight Ivy League colleges, has announced its first black valedictorian in its 274-year history. Nicholas Johnson, a Montreal native, is majoring in financial engineering and operations research and has previously worked as a software engineer at Google.

"It feels empowering. Being Princeton's first Black Valedictorian holds special significance to me particularly given Princeton's historical ties to the institution of slavery," Johnson told CNN.

Science • Medicine
Johnson & Johnson aiming to produce 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines in 2021

Johnson & Johnson, multinational medical and pharmaceutical corporation, said in a statement on Sunday that they "aim to deliver 1 billion (Covid-19) vaccines next year". According to Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer, the company is starting clinical trials in September and is planning to upscale their manufacturing to be able to start producing the vaccine late this year. Stoffel added “We will have some vaccine available this year, but it will depend on the authorities – the FDA and others – to decide whether it can be used earlier, before efficacy data are available".