| Good News Stories from around the World
Friday February 12th 2016

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Here at Good News Stories we bring you upbeat news stories from around the World.

US and Russia agree nuclear arms cuts in Moscow

warheadUS President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have come to an initial agreement on nuclear power – an issue which has divided the nations since the Cold War.

The agreement sees a reduction in the number of nuclear warheads in Russian and US strategic arsenals to between 1,500 and 1,675 in a period of seven years and the number of ballistic missile carriers to between 500-1,100.

The new treaty is to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1) treaty, which was due to expire in December, and sets levels lower than those proposed in the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT).

Whilst they remained divided over the issue of Georgia, along with US plans to install a missile defence shield in eastern Europe, Obama said the two countries were both “committed to leaving behind the suspicion and the rivalry of the past”.

The White House has said that the treaty, “commits both parties to a legally binding treaty that will reduce nuclear weapons,” and while this still leaves both countries with sufficient nuclear power able to destroy each other several times over, the opening up of a dialogue represents a huge step forward in international relations.

Painting the countryside blue

large_blue_butterflyLarge blues were officially declared extinct in Britain thirty years ago, but the beautiful large blue butterfly has made an astonishing return.

Around 20,000 will be flitting through the countryside this summer as a result of reintroduction efforts, scientists say. It is one of the world’s most threatened species – and one of the most choosy.

Large blues can only live on closely grazed hillsides and meadows where a particular sort of red ant makes its home.

But changes in farming techniques meant this sort of habitat began to disappear until the last native large blue died out in 1979 – before making its latest comeback.

Sir David Attenborough said: ‘The restoration of the large blue butterfly to Britain is a remarkable success story, illustrating the power of ecological research to reverse
damaging environmental changes.’

Their decline used to be blamed on greedy butterfly hunters. However, studies led by Professor Colourful comeback: The large blue butterfly Jeremy Thomas from Oxford University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology showed that the loss of grazed hillsides where the red ant lives was the cause.

Europe to be powered by the Sahara?

BERLIN, (Reuters) – A 400-billion euro ($554 billion) project linking solar power produced in the Sahara to energy users in Europe and North Africa is a ‘win-win’ for both continents and could also promote integration around the Mediterranean, a German minister said.

Guenter Gloser, deputy foreign minister, told Reuters 20 gigawatts of concentrated solar power (CSP)—the equivalent of 20 large conventional power plants—could be harvested each year by 2020 if the project called Desertec got off the ground.

Residents of Tokyo has new way of fighting burglars

Tokyo (Reuters) – A Tokyo district plagued with burglaries has turned to planting flowers to beautify its streets and help stamp out crime.

“‘Operation Flower’ began about three years ago. By planting flowers facing the street, more people will be keeping an eye out while taking care of the flowers or watering them,” said Kiyotaka Ohyagi, a Suginami City official.

“The best way to prevent crime is to have more people on the lookout.”

Suginami, with a population of 528,800, saw a record 1,710 break-ins in 2002.

When a neighborhood watch group found that there were fewer burglaries in buildings on flower-lined streets, Suginami decided to kick off Operation Flower and asked volunteers to plant seeds on side streets and in front of their homes.

The flowers are part of a wider crime prevention campaign. The district also has 9,600 volunteer patrollers and 200 security cameras set up in areas where there are frequent break-ins. It also emails crime information daily to residents.

HIV in South Africa improving

From Associated Press….

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — The number of new HIV infections among South African teens has dropped significantly, prompting hope that national efforts to tackle the epidemic have finally turned a corner after years of denial and delay.

A report by the Human Sciences Research Council released Tuesday said that although young people continue to have multiple sexual partners — which drives South Africa’s epidemic — they are increasingly heeding advice to use a condom.

“There is clearly light at the end of the tunnel,” said Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. “There is real light.”

Motsoaledi, a respected medical doctor, became health minister last month. He must overcome the legacy of former President Thabo Mbeki, who denied the link between HIV and AIDS, and his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who mistrusted conventional anti-AIDS drugs and promoted beetroot and lemon.

New hope for Chinas’ polluted cities

pearl river tower 310mA new skyscraper that is being constructed in Guangzhou in southern China is being heralded as a change of direction for China’s green credentials.

The 310m Pearl River Tower is going to be off the electricity grid of China, in one of it’s most polluted cities, and will be run on a combination of wind turbines, solar panels and fuel cells. The building is expected to be finished in late 2010.

Other energy efficient features include a double-layer curtain-wall system to reduce heat absorption and slab concrete vaulted ceilings that enhance natural daylight. Chilled water will run through metal panels in the ceiling, helping to cool the building.

Hopefully China is finally waking up to the threat of global warming and can lead the world in sustainable building.

Good news for a close relative

bonoboGood news for one of the lesser known great ape species! A partnership between local villages and conservation groups, headed up by the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, has led to the creation of a new 1,847 square mile (4,875 square kilometre) reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The reserve will save some of the region’s last pristine forests: ensuring the survival of the embattled bonobo—the least-known of the world’s four great ape species—and protecting a wide variety of biodiversity from the Congo peacock to the dwarf crocodile.

However, the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve is worth attention for another reason: every step of its creation—from biological surveys to reserve management—has been run by the local Congolese NGO and villages of Kokolopori.

War in Sri Lanka is over

sri_lankaThe government of Sri Lanka today declared an end to the 25 year old Sri Lankan civil war after the army took control of the entire island and killed the leader of the Tamil Tigers, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

According to the Sri Lankan army the chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),  was shot dead while trying to flee the war zone in an ambulance after the final battle in an offensive that has killed thousands of Tamil civilians since January.

Special forces troops also killed the rebels’ intelligence chief Pottu Amman, and Soosai, the head of the group’s “Sea Tiger” naval wing, said the state broadcaster, Rupavahini TV, according to Reuters.

European Union nations this morning called for an independent war crimes investigation into the killing of civilians in the country.

British soldier completes marathon on crutches

majorphilpackerA British soldier, who lost his legs in a rocket attack in Iraq last year, completed the London marathon after walking on crutches for two weeks. Major Phil Packer was greeted by hundreds of well-wishers as he touched the finishing line on Saturday.

“There are others who are coming back injured (from Iraq and Afghanistan) and my thoughts are really with their families at the moment,” Major Packer said.

The 36-year-old former soldier was told that he would never be able to walk again after he was injured in an attack in the southern Iraqi city of Basara in February 2008.

He completed 2 miles a day over two weeks.

Solar Lanterns to light up developing World

solar_radio_e4b508About 2 billion people in developing countries worldwide lack electricity, which in turn impacts the health, ecology and safety of rural households. Many are forced to rely on inefficient and environmentally damaging kerosene lamps.

Developing nations alone burn 470 million barrels of oil and release about 400 billion pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as a result of using kerosene. Other sources of light fuel include cow dung, precious forest firewood or crop residue.

But in a massive new study carried out in Gujarat, one of Western India’s poorest states, hit hard by drought in recent years, researchers have proposed that solar photovoltaic lanterns could represent a solution for rural communities with insufficient lighting.

This is particularly true in India, where the average number of sunny days ranges from 250 to 300 per year, generating a solar energy equivalent greater than the country’s total energy consumption. With India’s large and growing population, solar lanterns, using the country’s abundant sunlight, could be the cleanest and most practical energy alternative available.

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