Monday, December 29, 2008

CIA befriending Afghan Warlords with Viagra

Viagra is helping combat terrorism. The CIA is offering the drug to Afghan warlords to entice them to share information that helps combat terrorism. Through the exchange the CIA is also building relationships with these fickle leaders and winning their support.

The CIA has been selective when handing out the drug and only provides it to older leaders. Agents make sure to explain the drug and possible side effects. Afghan leaders are so pleased with Viagra they exchange information for more pills. Aside from Viagra, the CIA also offers dental care, visas, toys, and medicine to build relationships with these difficult clan leaders. If bribery will make the world a safer place than so be it.

Originally published by the BBC.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nuclear Energy Getting Cleaner

Check out this video from the BBC about how the National Nuclear Laboratory has found ways to make nuclear energy cleaner. If scientists can continue making nuclear energy safer, it may be a more realistic way to generate the power the world needs.

 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Good News Girls: Intelligence Affects Reproductivity


Those worried about having smart children should be encouraged - a recent study showed a correlation between a man's intelligence and his sperm quality. Men who scored higher on intelligence tests tended to have more mobile sperm. Their sperm count also tended to be higher.  

The study, conducted by the UK's Institute of Psychiatry, indicates the genes that dictate intelligence have other biological effects. Although lifestyle does impact intelligence, the study shows people with more robust genes tend to also be smarter. 

So ladies - your intelligent guy may be more likely to produce smart offspring. Consider this as you journey out this fine Saturday night. 

Originally reported by the BBC.  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Drug Raises Immune System Response to HIV


If only there was a way to raise the body's immune system's response to HIV, giving it the ability to fight off the virus. That wish may become reality - a group of scientists believe a drug they have tested on monkeys could help humans fight HIV and halt the illness's progression in carriers.  

When infected monkeys were given one treatment of the new drug they lived twice as long. The drug triggered their immune system's response to the virus. The problem with current antiretroviral drugs is that they must be taken over and over, which results in drug resistance from the body. The new drug works so well that just a few treatments could result in the body fighting of the virus completely. 

This new HIV drug is a long way from entering the market, but scientist agree their research is promising. 

Originally reported by the BBC. Picture from SPL.   

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

English Fluency Increasing for US Hispanics

The US Census found that hispanics are becoming more fluent in English. This is good news when you consider miscommunications and the educational system. According to the report, fluency depends upon region and Los Angeles County, which has a high percentage of hispanic residents, saw a decrease in the number of Spanish speakers that have trouble with English. We're talking about a drop from 21 percent in 2000 to 19.6 percent in 2005-07.  

Despite some of the cultural implications - homogenization of cultures, for instance - this news means fewer communication misunderstandings and the ability to share ideas. It also means Spanish speakers can get better jobs and receive better educations. 

Originally reported by US Today

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Measles Deaths Down Worldwide

Between 2000 and 2007 worldwide deaths from measles dropped by 74 percent. The number of reported deaths decreased from 750,000 to 197,000, according to U.S. and U.N. officials. 

In eastern Mediterranean countries measles deaths decreased by 90 percent, the result of increased awareness and vaccination campaigns in hard-to-reach regions. According to officials, more then twice the number of children were vaccinated in 2007 as in 2006. Clearly, the vaccination outreach worked and showed the power of public health efforts. 

Originally reported by the United Press International.    

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bombs Away - Go Away That Is

At a conference in Oslo, Norway more than 100 countries have come together to sign a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs. The treaty creators consider this a major humanitarian breakthrough. 

Cluster bombs, first developed during World War II, propel a number of small bomblets that can cover a large area and stop advancing forces. The bombs are effective - too effective because they often leave an area covered in landmines long after a battle and many civilians have been killed by the leftover bomblets. For this reason cluster bombs have been consider immoral. 

Despite the absence of the United States, China, and Russia, many countries have chosen to destroy or not use their cluster bombs. Hopefully pressure from these countries will convince the United States to follow rank.  

Originally reported by the BBC

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Jet Lag Be Gone

Jet Lag, one of the most annoying things about international travel, may be a thing of the past. A new "time-bending" drug has been developed that helps people reset their sleep patterns and overcome the bedraggled feeling associated with jet lag. 

The drug, Tasimelteon, shifts the body's natural flow of the sleep hormone melatonin. The drug allows people to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, aiding the process of overcoming jet lag. If additional clinical trials go smoothly, Taismelteon could be on the market in the next few years. In recent clinical trials the drug showed major promise because it's not addictive like other sleep aids. 

Originally reported by the BBC

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Online Time Benefits Teens

Contrary to popular belief, spending time online benefits teens. A report, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, contradicts the notion that Internet surfing is a waste of time. Playing games and interacting with peers through social networks aids the development of technology usage and communication skills. 

The three-year study followed 800 teens and their parents to explore how teenagers use social media to learn and grow. Researcher observed participants for 5,000 hours and found that hanging out on the Internet servers similar social purposes as in-person social contact. Online time also allows teenager to develop their identity and creativity.  The report is good news considering all the time we spend online.

Originally reported by the BBC

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Lost Treasure Found in the UK This Year

Lost treasure is something to get excited about. This year marks a significant rise in treasure found by amateur treasure hunters in the UK. The British Museum reported a 12.6 percent rise in treasures containing gold and silver.

Among the treasure discovered this year, you'll find 3,500 Roman coins, which are on display at the British Museum. The most valuable piece found this year is an Iron Age gold necklace worth 350,000 pounds. 

Originally reported by the BBC and picture from Getty Images. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Calm Winds Aid SoCal Firefighters

Since Thursday, wildfires have consumed 34 square miles of  Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and Santa Barbara Counties. Over 800 homes have been destroyed. The air quality is so poor that the Pasadena marathon had be canceled. Yet, this weekend's calm winds have allowed firefighters to make major progress against the blaze. Additionally, no deaths have been reported in this latest episode of fires - the silver lining in the smoke. 

Originally reported by the Associated Press in the San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, November 14, 2008

HPV Vaccine Protects Men Too

The Gardasil vaccine that prevents HPV, or the sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer in women, may also protect men against the wart virus. The maker Merck and Co found the vaccine was 90 percent effective in preventing warts caused by the virus in men. It was also 45 percent effective in preventing infection with the four stains of HPV the vaccine targets. 

This is exciting news when you consider that HPV (human papilloma virus) is the world's most common sexually transmitted disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate there are 20 million Americans currently infected with the disease. The virus is the main cause of cervical cancer and also causes anal, penis, mouth and neck cancer. 

Going forward, Merck and Co plan to study whether vaccinating men protects their female sexual partners. If the vaccine does prevent the spread of the HPV, a major preventative milestone will be met. 

Originally reported by Reuters

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Diamonds Are Forever; So Is Tequila


Diamonds and tequila didn't have much in common until physicists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico discovered a method of creating synthetic diamonds from tequila. Although the diamonds created through this process aren't large enough to be used for jewelry, they can be used for industrial purposes like computer chips and ultra-fine cutting instruments. 

This discovery is curious, but also amazing considering the process is cheap. Even the most inexpensive tequila - we're talking a 3 dollar bottle - can be used to create diamonds. Using lots of heat, liquid tequila it turned into vapor. These tequila gas molecules are then broken up into particles by heating the vapor to about 800 degrees Celsius. Once the the molecules are broken, you get carbon atoms that can be arranged in the shape of a very thin diamond film. 

Going forward, Mexico could produce super-cheap industrial diamond products that benefit multiple industries.  Let's drink to that. 

Originally reported by the BBC


Monday, November 10, 2008

Super Immune Cells Fight AIDS

Researchers have found a new way to fight AIDS: genetically engineered immune cells. Scientists have created genetically engineered immune cells that can identify the AIDS virus, even when it disguices itself in the body. 

The new killer T-cells, or "assassin" cells, could form a new treatment for AIDS. The modified cells were able to recognize other cells infected by HIV and kill the cells, slowing the spread of the virus. If the process can be used in human it means a revolution for fighting AIDS. 

Originally reported by Reuters

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Saving Pygmy Hippos

Pygmy hippos are rare. There are estimated 200 pygmy hippos in the world, making them an endangered species - a really cute one at that. Recently, a pygmy hippo, named Monifa, was born at the zoo in Sydney, Australia.  Her birth is incredibility important to the servile of the spices

Check out the video below (originally posted by the Assoicated Press). 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Genetic Insights into Cancer

A Washington University team of scientists decoded the entire DNA of a woman suffering acute myeloid leukaemia. Although the woman died from the disease, the researchers were able to identify 10 key generic mutations related to her cancer. Only two of these mutations had been recognized before.  

By mapping DNA of other cancer patients, scientists could understand the mutation related to other forms of cancer and develop better targeted drugs. The ability to understand what causes cancer is a landmark discover and will make fighting and defeating the disease more possible. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

Netflix Releases "Watch Instantly" Mac Beta

Up until recently Mac users couldn't run the "watch instantly" Netflix feature. That's about to change: Mac users everywhere can rejoice because Netflix has released a public beta version of the feature for Macs. Netflix subscribers can sign up to test the public beta before the official roll-out.  

The Mac media player has been long-awaited and would allow those who prefer Apple to access thousands of movies and television shows at the click of a button. The player hadn't been available to Mac user in the past because the media player relied on Microsoft Silverlight, Microsoft's multimedia delivery system. 

The future holds more media for Mac users. 

Originally reported by Macworld.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Beatles Make it To the 21st Century


The Beatles are notorious for keeping a tight grip on their musical catalogue. They with held from being on iTunes and rarely sell the rights to their songs. This changed when the remaining members of the band worked with MTV Games and Harmonix to create a video game. The untitled game will released next year. 

Fans everywhere will be able to rock out to the Beatles, while playing a game they helped develop. This means the band's legacy will continue, which is lucky for us.   

Originally reported by the BBC

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gas Prices Hit Three-Year Low

For 42 days gas prices have fallen, according to a nationwide survey of credit card swipes at gasoline stations. This is a 37 percent decline from the highest price, $4.114, set on July 17th. Today the average cost of a gallon of gas is $2.589 a gallon.

Despite the lower prices, gas consumption is down, which may have to do with the economy and lack of consumer confidence. Compared to last year, Americans are driving 5.6 percent less, said the U.S. Department of Energy.

So not only is gas cheaper, but people are consuming less. This is win-win news for Wednesday.

Originally reported by CNNMoney.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Second Best Day Ever for the Dow

The markets have been plummeting for some time now, but today the Dow rose 906 points, making today the second-biggest one-day gain in history. The big rally created an 11 percent gain. Likewise, the Standard & Poor 500 gained 91.6 points, amounting to its second-biggest one-day point gain as well. The NASDAQ followed suite and gained 143.6 points, or 9.5 percent. 

Despite these gains, October may remain one of the worst months in Wall Street's history. However, these surges offer hope to investors who haven't seen positive action since the summer. Even if the markets take much longer to pull out of the recession, marking the good days promotes optimism - something we need right now.   

Monday, October 27, 2008

More New Homes Sold

The economy is on everyones' minds, as is the housing market, which appears to be rebounding. Sales of newly constructed homes were up in September. According to the US Census Bureau, the sales rate for new homes rose 2.7 percent from August's rate. The annuzliazed rate for September, 464,000, was above consensus forecast of 450,000, according to economists surveyed by Briefing.com.

New homes sales are still down compared to last September, however real estate agents are seeing pick-up in housing markets were prices fell. Economists and real estate agents agree that new home sales will remain low, but the numbers are getting slightly better. This news from the Census Bureau is a glimmer of hope.

Originally reported by CNNMoney.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Penguin Release in South America

Due to changing ocean currents a large number of penguins ended up in Brazil, where it's too hot for them to survive. Knowing this, the government and volunteers rounded up the penguins and released them into cooler waters. Check it out on YouTube: 



Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Drug May Help MS

Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating disease, but there's hope for those who have suffered brain damage from the illness.  Alemtuzumab, a drug originally developed to treat leukaemia, may stop the progression of the MS and even enable the body's ability to repair previous brain damage. The drug helps patients with early stage active relapsing-remitting MS, which is the most common form of the disease. 

Researchers at the University of Cambridge stress that more research needs to be done and their results are not conclusive. However, the drug cut the number of attacks from the conduction by 74 percent among the 334 patients with early stage active relapsing-remitting MS who participated in one clinical trial. People in the trials also regain functions thought lost after taking the drug. 

Originally reported by the BBC.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wal-Mart Set Standards for Chinese Suppliers

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is making an effort to protect its customers. The company plans to set new quality standards for its China-based suppliers. The standards come after a string of toxic products, including milk that has sickened tens of thousands people in China. 

Wal-Mart will require its Chinese suppliers to reveal what factories made a product, as well as what factories produced ingredients or components for an end product. The company will use the news standards with apparel first then apply the standards to other goods. 

Likewise, the United Nations released a report that recommends China increase the government's oversight of the food production system and hold offending companies responsible.

Although Wal-Mart isn't known for its humanitarian efforts, this news is comfortingly and casts the company in a better light. 

Originally reported by the Associated Press

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

eBay to Ban Ivory Sales

Elephants have a reason to rejoice. eBay, the online auction powerhouse, announced it would ban ivory commerce. The announcement coincides with the release of a report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare that documents how online auction sites have facilitated the sale of products derived from endangered species. According to the report, the majority of online auction sales of endangered species products were conducted on eBay. Most of the auctioned items were elephant products. 

Feeling pressure from international law enforcement agencies and conservation groups, eBay decided to enact the ban on ivory trade, which will go into effect January 1, 2009.  The ban may take some time to go into effect, especially considering endangered species products drew sales values of $457,000 during the six week period in which the International Fund for Animal Welfare conducted its research. 

Despite the report's dire outlook on products made from endangered species, it's encouraging that eBay would take the group's findings seriously and enact a solution. Many corperations aren't willing to make policies based on what's the right thing to do. 

Originally reported by the New York Times

Monday, October 20, 2008

Technology Bringing Families Together

Technology is often blamed for our social woes; however technologies like cell phones, the Internet, social networking sites, and email are bringing families closer together, according to the Pew Institute

Based on a survey of 2,252 Americans, Pew found that 51 percent of families use the Internet as a social activity and browse sites together. Likewise, families use cell phones to touch base with one another - 42 percent of parents used cell phones to speak with their children daily. When asked about the role technology within their family, 47 percent of respondents felt technology increased the quality of contact with family members they lived with and 53 percent felt quality of contact was increased with distant family members. 

People have long speculate that technology isolates us and drives a divided between family members, yet the study shows people use technology to increased social connections. 

Originally reported by the BBC.  

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bee Gees Hit Could Save Lives


"Stayin' Alive," the 1977 hit by the Bee Gees, has taken on a literal meaning; researchers have found the song could save your life. 

US medics discovered the song has an exemplary beat to follow when performing CPR on a cardiac arrest victim. The song contains 103 beats per minute, which is ideal considering the recommended rate for chest compressions is 100 per minute. 

During the study researchers asked participants to perform CPR on mannequins while listening to "Stayin' Alive." When they followed the song's beat the participants performed an average of 109 chest compressions per minute. Five weeks later the participants were asked back to perform CPR again but this time they were asked to think of the song. In this instance participants performed an average of 113 chest compression per minute. This is more than the recommended number suggested by the American Heart Association, but it's better than performing too few compressions. The song also encourage participants to keep up the compression rate - perhaps the most important factor when performing CPR. 

It's possible this information will save lives and promote a resurgence of the song, driving album sales for the Bee Gees.  Can you imagine someone humming "Stayin' Alive" while performing CPR - kinda awesome. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Runners May Age Slower

Despite our differences we do have at least one thing in common; our desire to age slower and remain active as we age. A new study found that runners live active lives longer and are half as likely to die early compared to non-runners. 

Dr. James Fries and his team of researchers followed 500 runners who were over the age of 50 for 20 years. During this period 34 percent of non-runners in a similar group died compared to 19 percent of runners. The researchers also found that the appearance of disabilities came, on average, 16 years later for those who ran. The runner group also exhibited fewer early deaths from cancer, neurological disease, and infections. They also prolonged the onset of cardiovascular diseases.   

The take away: It's possible to live longer and live well if you're willing to put in some miles and invest in sneakers. 

Back in Business

Dear Cheerful Scoop readers,

I am delighted to write this post. It has been a little over a month since I could update because our friends at Blogger flagged Cheerful Scoop as a spam blog. They have reviewed the blog and cleared it of any spamming. I don't want to be negative about this annoying situation because that goes against the nature of my blog. The important thing is that the blog is back and if you have good news you wish to share let me know. 

Cheers,
Kim

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Town Creates Their Own Currency


Slow economic times are not good for moral. Lewes, a small historic town in South East England, decided to combat the economic downturn by developing their own currency to be used within the town. Over 70 local businesses have agreed to accept the Lewes Pound, the equivalent of a pound sterling, as payment for goods and services. The Lewes Pound works as a voucher and over 10,000 have been printed.  Organizers wanted to boost community pride while boosting the community's economy by encouraging people to buy locally.  

No word yet on whether the initiative is working, but the idea is novel if not rebellious. Cheerful Scoop salutes such moxie. 

(Originally reported by the BBC. Special thanks to Ann Marie for sending this news item to Cheerful Scoop.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blood Drives - A Thing of the Past?

Blood shortages and drives may a thing of the past if the technology developed by Advanced Cell Technology proves to be commercially viable. The research company, based in Worcester, Massachusetts, announced they have found a way to produce synthetic human blood. By using embryonic  stem cells, the company has discovered a process that could be used to make unlimited amounts of blood. 

The technology has to be tested, but if the process stands up to scrutiny doctors won't have to worry about blood types or pathogens being transmitted when they give transfusions. Researchers have tried to create synthetic blood in the past, but haven't succeeded. Critics worry that Advanced Cell Technology's announcement is premature, but the company has produced useful discoveries, although none have been commercially feasible.   

(Originally reported by Wired.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Intel Develops Faster, Eco-Friendly Chips

Using your computer just got a little better today - Intel announced the launch of four new server chips. The chips are the fastest among Intel's growing family. They are also more environmentally friendly. Intel's chips had contained halogen, which is a rather toxic fire retardant. Intel wants to move away from halogen packaging because it is difficult to recycle and release toxins if incinerated. 

Among the family of chips, the Xeon X5270 has a clock frequency of 3.5 gigahertz, making it the fastest among Intel's "Core" chips. Raising the clock frequency posses a technical challenge, yet Intel has done it again with the Xeon family of chips, while also managing to be environmentally responsible.  

(Originally reported by CNNMoney.com.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Australia Elects First Female Governor General

On Friday Australia swore in its first female governor general, Quentin Bryce. The governor general is Queen Elizabeth's representative in the country. Bryce's appointment is significant because she is the first women to hold the position. She may also be the last person in the role as Australians hope to become a republic and have an Australian as head of state. Nevertheless, Bryce's appointment is a milestone for women in politics. 

(Originally reported by the BBC.)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Measles Vaccine No Longer Linked to Autism

Parents of small children have one less thing to worry about today; a recent study found no link between the measles vaccine and autism. The study was conducted at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Based on the study's findings, researchers agree there is no relationship between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism. However, other researchers are quick to point out the study only clears the concern surrounding the MMR vaccine and other vaccines still need to be tested extensively.  

Even though the scientific community has not cleared all vaccines, it is at least safe for parents to vaccinate their children for measles, which has killed 400 to 500 people annually before the vaccine was introduced in 1963. 

(Originally reported by U.S. News and World Report.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Don't Forget to Exercise

If you don't enjoy exercise the following post may not be good news; if you do enjoy a good sweat read on. Exercise may improve memory. Scientists at the University of Melbourne found that adults with mild memory problems may experience memory improvement by exercising. The scientists focused on a group of 138 volunteers over the age of 50. The people who participated in home-based exercise demonstrated modest cognitive improvement. The study suggests physical activity may delay or offset mental decline. 
 
(Originally reported by the BBC.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Homelessness Rates Down

For the first time in 30 years homelessness is declining in the Unites States. Between 2005 and 2008 the number of overall homeless people has fallen by 12 percent. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the overall number of homeless comes to approximately 672,000. 

This major accomplishment has to do with more government programs that offer homeless people long-term housing, opposed to spots in homeless shelters, half-way homes, and jails. In additional to long-term housing, case workers are able to provide more in-depth services, like drug counseling. These programs are called "housing first" programs and have been proven effective nationwide. 

(Originally reported by the Christian Science Monitor.) 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Good News: Three Day Weekend

Today's good news: Monday is Labor Day and most people need not go to work. For Cheerful Scoop that means a break too. See you on Tuesday with more good news. 

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hearing Help Through Gene Therapy


With age comes the loss of one's hearing, that is until the near future. An Oregon group of scientists used gene therapy to restore the hearing in mice. The therapy works by converting regular hair cells into cochlear hair cells that transform sound waves into electronic signals, which are then transmitted to the brain for interpretation. As we age or exposed to constant loud noise the hair cells die, but aren't replaced by the body naturally.  The procedure used by the Oregon scientists may allow people to reproduce cochlear hair cells and restore hearing. Using gene therapy in humans is something for the future, but it's possible hearing aids will be eliminated. Still, it might be a good idea to turn down the volume of your iPod. 

(Originally reported by the BBC.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More People Insured in 2007

Health insurance coverage is on the rise. Fewer United States citizens were without health insurance in 2007, according to the Census Bureau. The number of uninsured people dropped due to government sponsored health insurance for children. In 2006 47 million people went without insurance, while in 2007 45.7 million went without coverage. 

Many experts speculated that the number of uninsured would rise due to unemployment and declining coverage from employers. However, the government programs have helped people who could not afford health insurance on their own. 

(Originally reported by the Los Angeles Times.)

Green Technology Goes to the Races

In an international race called the "Formula Zero," five teams with zero-emission go-karts competed to see whose green technology and skill would prevail. The event marked the world's first international hydrogen-powered race. The race took place in Rotterdam and drew contestants from the UK, US, Netherlands, Spain, and Belgium. 

The Spanish team won the fastest lap contest, while the Dutch team won the endurance contest. The Dutch team's endurance win made them the champions of the "Formula Zero." Their go-kart, powered by a fuel cell, proved to stand up the best, while Spain's fast car tended to be unreliable. Maybe the event will encourage more environmentally friendly racing. 

(Originally reported by the BBC.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

1,000 Dogs Rescued from Puppy Mill

One thousand dogs were rescued from a West Virginia puppy mill that used the Internet to market and sell the dogs. The rescue operation set a record for West Virginia and was also one of the largest animal rescues nation-wide. 

After police arrested the kennel owners, the local Human Society spent the weekend assessing the dogs' health. Most of the dogs were in good health, although some were dehydrated. Over a dozen volunteers worked to clean cages, prepare food, and gather supplies for the massive amount of dogs, which range in age from puppies to full-grown adults. Now the Human Society must find homes for the dogs. This may be daunting task, but at least the dogs are safe and being well cared for. 

(Originally reported by the United Press International.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Laptops for Every Child

This week Niue, a small South Pacific country, distributed 500 laptops to primary and secondary schoolchildren as part of their One Laptop Per Child program. The country plans to handout 4,500 more laptops in the coming weeks. The goal is to give every child a laptop, which would help close the digital divide and give Niuean child access to the Internet. 

Niue had been ahead of the technological curve before. In 2003 it began providing free wireless Internet for all residents, making it the first territory to offer such services to its citizens. It's amazing when an entire country looks to the future and takes steps to guarantee its citizens can be an active and effective part of that future. Niue had done that by allowing their children to seek knowledge and skill. 

(Originally reported by the BBC.) 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good vs. Bad Fat - Good Can Win, with Some Help

Who hasn't said they want to lose a few pounds? A recent discovery could aid this commonplace plea. Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston found a protein that induces bone growth also induces the development of "good" fat, known at brown fat. Brown fat, opposed to its relative while fat, helps burn calories for generating heat. White fat stores calories and contributes to obesity. 

The protein, known at BMP-7, could be used to prevent obesity, the researches said. People who are genetically inclined to gain weight could benefit from the research down the road. By studying fat development, scientists hope to form new treatments. Of course, diet and exercise still remain the best ways to control weight, but with more research people who just can't shed the pounds may be able to.     

(Originally reported by the Washington Post.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fewer People Killed at Work in 2007

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that fewer people were killed on the job in 2007. In fact, the number of reported deaths hit a history low with 5, 488 people being killed from work-related injuries or homicides. The bureau has kept track of work-related deaths since 1992. 

With a rate of 111.8 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers, fishermen have the most dangerous job. Logging workers and aircraft pilots and flight engineers take second and third respectively. The construction industry has the highest death rate for the private sector. 

Despite these numbers, fatal injuries have decreased and the workplace continues to be safer. Maybe that's a reason to get up in the morning and go to work. 

(Article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle but was reported by the Associated Press.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Real Penguin Suit


Penguins are naturally well dressed birds, but with age they can lose their style, or rather their feathers. Pierre, a penguin that lives at the California Academy of Science in San Francisco, was going bald in his old age. The situation was dangerous because a penguin's feathers keep them warm, as well as help them identify one another. As Pierre lost his feathers, other birds began picking on him and he was swimming less. To remedy the situation, biologists created a neoprene suit that would keep Pierre healthy and happy. Now that Pierre is better dressed he's been doing well. 

(Originally reported by National Public Radio. Picture supplied by the California Academy of Science.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fighting Pandemics

Pandemics scare everyone, especially when you consider the 1918 flu pandemic that killed 50 million people worldwide. Those who survived the flu pandemic did so because their bodies produced antibodies and to this day the survivors, who are in their 90s, produce antibodies that can be used to prevent infection from the 1918 strain of the flu. 

Using this information, a group of researchers at Vanderbilt University are learning more about how humans produce antibodies and how to prevent pandemics. Their research has revealed the human body's amazing ability to prevent disease. The research suggests that if there's another flu pandemics people will be able to produce antibodies that can be used to stop the disease. 

(Originally reported by U.S. News and World Report.) 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Venezuela Passes New Kidnapping Law

In more kidnapping news, Venezuela's national assembly took action against kidnapping and passed a law that addressed abduction.  Up to this point the country hasn't had a specific law that deals with kidnapping. Now, if someone is convicted of kidnapping they could face up to 30 years in jail. Even thought kidnapping rates are down this year, the government felt a law was needed to address guerilla warfare abductions that have plagued the country. 

All in all, this week has been a good week for prohibiting and dissuading kidnapping. As Cheerful Scoop noted earlier, Mexico just formed an anti-kidnapping squad. Kidnappers be wary. 

(Originally reported by the BBC.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

No Charges for Christian Bale


Today was a good day for Christian Bale - he no longer faces assault charges. Last month police arrested Bale after he allegedly lashed out at family members in front of London's Dorchester Hotel. The Crown Prosecution Service found there was not sufficient evidence to attain a conviction and advised policy to drop the matter. 

The actor has stressed the private nature of the incident. In a statement made by his publicist, Bale was "relieved that this issue has been resolved and hopes to put the matter firmly behind him." 

For Bale fans, this is wonderful news. No one likes to see their favorite actor go to jail. 

(Originally reported by the BBC. Picture supplied by the BBC.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Golden Retriever Nurses Tiger Cubs



Cross-species relationships fascinate and one can't help but be fascinated by the story of 3 tiger cubs and being nursed by a golden retriever. The story begins at the zoo in Caney, Kansas where the 3 cubs were born. Following the birth, the mother tiger refused to care for the cubs, abandoning them.  The zoo's owner, Tom Harvey, took action and paired the clubs with the dog. The retriever began nursing and cleaning the cubs. The dog saved the otherwise doomed cubs. 

It's unusual for dogs to care for tiger cubs, but there have been reports of it happening. There have also been reports of pigs nursing tigers in China. Luckily tiger cubs develop at about the same rate as puppies, which makes the pairing a good fit.  

(Originally reported by The Wichita Eagle.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mexico Creates an Anti-Kidnap Squad

After a prominent business man's son was kidnaped and killed, Mexico's general public cried out for action and the country's authorities created an anti-kidnap squad. The squad has 300 officers that are distributed throughout five centers. The centers are open 24 hours a day. The centers are much needed when you consider how many abductions took place in 2007 - more than 430 abductions were reported. This number is up 35 percent from the previous year. 

Thankfully, the government has chosen to do something about the problem and has dedicated resources and funding to stopping the problem. It's good to see proactive action from authorities. 

(Originally reported by the BBC.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Coca-Cola Goes Green

Coca-Cola is not known for its environmental practices; however it's replaced 10 of it's traditional gas-guzzling trucks with hybrid trucks that will cover delivery routes in southern Florida. The company plans to replace 142 trucks nation wide with hybrids within the next few weeks. The hybrid trucks cut emissions by 32 percent and fuel consumption by 36 percent. For five years Coca-Cola has been working a Cleveland-based industrial manufacture called Eaton to develop the trucks. 

It's amazing when a company takes steps to protect the environment without the government forcing the initiatives. Coca-Cola has taken a small step toward becoming more environmentally responsible and that's a good thing. 

(Originally reported by The Miami Herald.)    

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Stop to Aging

Living longer is one thing, but staying young is another. A  U.S. team of scientists may have found a way to keep us young as our bodies grow old. The research team has discovered genetic triggers that control a cell's ability to clean-up faulty proteins. When we are young the clean-up process happens more smoothly and efficiently but as we grow older the process of recycling worn out protein slows. This contributes to major organs failing and diseases associated with aging. The scientists were able to slow the aging process in older mice by triggering the systems within cells that do the clean up. After more research and studies scientists may be able to stimulate this process in humans and curb aging. 

(Originally reported by the BBC.) 

Saturday, August 9, 2008

75,000 Volunteers Support the Olympics

Volunteering for a good cause may be one of the best things humans can do for one another. When it comes to the 2008 Olympic Games, they are essential.  The Olympics wouldn't happen if it weren't for the 75,000 volunteers, who are mostly Chinese college students. Interestingly enough, 1 million people applied to be volunteers for this year's competition.  The volunteers do a variety of tasks and additionally many of them speak English, which helps facilitate communication between nations. 

It's amazing so many people have offered their time and skills to make the games run smoothly. All in all, that's pretty cool. 

(Originally reported by The Seattle Times.) 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Morgan Freeman Leaves Hospital

Morgan Freeman was discharged from the hospital today. A statement released by the actor said he was doing well following his car accident that took place on Sunday. The actor suffered a broken arm and had to undergo surgery. The unidentified women he was with also suffered injuries. Policy believe Freeman fell asleep at the wheel, which resulted in the crash not far from his Mississippi home.   

Of course the good news here is that Freeman left the hospital and is doing well. As a fan, Cheerful Scoop wishes him the best as he recovers. 

(Originally reported by the BBC.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Drink That Coffee!

Coffee, an essential part of modern life, is shrouded in myth. All kinds of health risks have been attributed to coffee. Consider many of these myths debunked and drink your coffee guilt free.

The New York Times reported that coffee has passed the test on dehydration, hypertension, and cancer. The article also cited coffee health benefits like a lower risk for developing type two diabetes and increased aerobic endurance. 

To read more about coffee's many virtues follow this clink. Cheers to that! 

Teacher Finds One-of-a-Kind Cosmic Object

Strange cosmic object? Discovered by a teacher? Now that just sounds cool.

Hanny Van Arkel, a 25-year-old schoolteacher, discovered a unidentifiable gaseous blob that astronomers have called a unique cosmic event. The green blob may have gotten its energy from the light coming from a quasar, which is radiation emitted from a gigantic black hole. Known as a Voorwerp, which is Dutch for "object", the object is one-of-a-kind. 

It's crazy to think a schoolteacher discovered the unique cosmic object using Galaxy Zoo, a website that classifies galaxies found in images from telescopes. The discovery demonstrates the universe has amazing things to show us. 

(Originally reported by the BBC.)    

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Good News for Gorillas

Gorillas have had difficult times. Their numbers dwindled as the were hunted by humans, or suffered from diseases like ebola. The last gorilla census, conducted in the 80s, estimated there were only 100,000 gorillas left in the world. However, researchers in equatorial Africa estimate there are 125,000 gorillas living in just that area. The researchers say this is the highest density of gorillas ever found. 

The discovery is not enough to take gorillas off the endangered species list, but it is good news the gorilla population has rebounded. 

(Originally reported by CNN.) 

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Girl Falls 14 Floors and Lives

Grace Bergere experienced a miracle. The 12-year-old girl fell down the chimney of her New York apartment building, plummeting 14 floors. She only sustained a hip injury and was conscious when firefighters found her. Grace was saved by a pile of soot at the bottom of the chimney. The soot cushioned her otherwise deadly fall.  

Grace and her cousin had climbed to the rooftop of the apartment building, where she proceeded to climb the ladder going up a large brick chimney. When she reached the top, Grace accidentally fell into the mouth of the chimney.    

A 14-story plummet is not good news, but surviving it is. Grace is a super lucky kid. 

(Originally reported by the BBC.)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ban on Text Messaging at the Wheel

You've seen these people. The ones who are text messaging while driving. Typing while driving has to be even worse than talking while driving. With this in mind, Californian, among other states, is working toward banning driving while texting. A study done by Nationwide Insurance found that 18 percent of drivers text as they drive and there is compelling evidence that links talking and texting to accidents. 

Of course the ban limits one's freedom to communicate while driving, however measure to reduce accidents are a good thing, especially when there are options like headsets. This ban, like California's ban on cellphone talking while driving, would make roads safer - a good thing.  

(Originally reported by the Christian Science Monitor.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Do-Not-Worry List

New York Times blogger John Tierney compiled a hilarious list of things to not worry about this summer. Cheerful Scoop must endorse this list because it gets to the heart of this blog's propose - to brighten your day by showing you good news. Tierney's list does just that and you should check it out, have a laugh, and stop sweating the small stuff.

Housing Relief Bill Update

President Bush signed the housing relief bill that would help 400,000 homeowners who have defaulted on mortgage payments. The bill is intended to help those suffering from the mortgage crisis, this includes homeowners but all large companies like Freddie Mae and Fannie Mae.  The hope is that the bill will stabilize the financial markets. 

President Bush had threatened not to approve the bill, but pressure from Republicans and Democrats alike prevailed. Bush also citied the need to provide homeowners relief sooner rather than later. 

(Originally reported by the Associated Press.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

L.A. Earthquake Doesn't Touch Energy Infrastructure

Earthquakes usually don't produce any good news, but today's L.A. earthquake did not effect the city and surrounding area's energy infrastructure. Instead of massive power outages, ruptured pipes, crushed buildings and fires the city had minimal power outages. Oil refineries, pipelines, nuclear plants and the city's electrical grid were intact after the moderate quake and after shocks subsided. Moments like these make you feel grateful because things could have been way worse.

(Originally reported by Reuters.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wildfires May Slow Artic Warming

Wildfires are nothing to celebrate, however a recent study indicates the smoke from the North American fires may briefly slow the rate temperatures rise in the arctic. The smoke has a cooling effect by creating a buffer layer of aerosols that reduce the amount of sunlight hitting the earth's surface. Researchers believe the effect could last into the fall, which means the effects of greenhouse gases are curbed for right now.

Even though nobody wants to have their lungs filled with smoke or have forest and property damaged, the wildfires have something positive going for them. If only every disaster had a silver lining, or in this case a black billowing lining.

(Originally reported by National Geographic.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

US Senate Approves Housing Aid

The U.S. housing market looked a less grim this week when the Senate approved a bill that provides $300 billion for a rescue fund intended to bail out home owners who have defaulted on loans as well as mortgage companies like Freddie Mae. The bill help hundreds of thousands of American's who can't make their mortgage payments by creating state-backed loans that have a fixed interest rate. 

Putting policy aside, the bill will help many Americans who would have lost their homes. The bill may also lead to increased consumer confidence as less people fear foreclosure. This is an example of a government taking care of its people.  

(Originally reported by the BBC.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

College Campuses Ranked On Green Efforts

Imagine a world where colleges are judged not only on the education they provide but also how environmentally responsible they are. Actually, you don't have to imagine this because the Princeton Review has added a green ranking to its list of criteria that students use to judge colleges. Student may now see how colleges compare on their efforts to be environmentally friendly. 

College across the country are setting standards to decrease the energy they use and the waste they produce in order to get a better ranking. Among the best ranked colleges you'll find Bates, Harvard, Arizona State, Emory, Yale, and the Universities of New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington. 

This is a great example of consumer demands (those being students wanting a green campus) forcing suppliers (those being colleges) to clean up their act in order to get business. 

(Originally reported by the New York Times.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

HIV Patients Live Longer

HIV patients who use antiretroviral therapy are living more 13 years longer than they did in 1996. The death rate has dropped by 40 percent. A meta study done by the British Colombia Center for Excellence found that the sooner someone starts treatment the more likely they are to live longer. Generally, women with HIV have longer life expectancies than men. The study also found that mortality decreased from 16.3 deaths per 1,000 person-years in 1996 to 1999 to 10 deaths per 1,000 person-years in 2003 to 2005.

Many doctors feel that the advances in antiretroviral treatment have made HIV a chronic illness rather than a death sentence.

(Originally reported by The Washington Post.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

EU to Ban Seal Products


Seals everywhere may rejoice in the near future. The European Union has proposed a ban on seal products. Granted, the EU isn't going to ban all seal products, just those obtained through "cruel hunting methods." These methods include skinning seal while they are still alive to protect their valuable coats.

If the ban goes into effect, Canada will face the most economic effect. Canadian hunters kill up 300,000 seals each year and is the world's biggest seal exporter. Countries like Belgium and the United States already have bans on Canadian seal products. The U.S. policy was went into effect in 1972.

If the ban does go into effect, it will force Canada to regulate it's hunting practices. This would mean more human treatment for seals - a good thing since they are so cute.

(Originally reported by BBC News. Photo from BBC News.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Seniors Have More Sex

Getting older just got better, especially if you hope to get laid. A recent Swedish study reported that the sex lives of seniors have improved over the last three decades. The study mirrors those done in the United States, which also indicate that seniors are having more and better sex.

The study tracked 1,500 seniors since 1970. The participants were 70 years 0ld at the time they were interviewed. Through these interviews researchers discovered that today's seniors are having more sex than their counterparts 30 years earlier. Today's seniors also have more positive attitudes toward sex. Both married and unmarried seniors have more sex.

With this news in mind retirement homes and assisted living facilities will have to start stocking condoms!

(Originally reported by The New York Times.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Brillant Braizlian Reef Discovered

Life for coral reefs has not been easy. Over the past twenty years - maybe longer - reefs have suffered major damage from pollution and global warming. That said, scientists just discovered the coral reef of Brazil's coast is twice as diverse as originally thought. Fishermen had talked about the amazing marine life that live in the reef, but scientists only recently declared the reef to be the most diverse in the Atlantic ocean.

To see pictures of the reef check out National Geographic's website. These pictures are sure to make your day better considering how easy it is to see pictures of bombed-out houses and natural disasters.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Researchers Discover More Alcohol in Drinks

Enjoy tipping back a few drinks? Unlike other commodities, alcohol is being distributed more liberally, which might be good news for those looking for a good time. According to a recent study, glasses of beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks contain up to 43 percent more alcohol than what's considered a standard unit. Researchers in California went to 80 bars and found more alcohol in the drinks served (Cheerful Scoop is convinced they went to a bar in San Francisco called Trader Vics to do this research).

This news could be framed negatively because people may drink more than they intend. However, in keeping with Cheerful Scoop's positive outlook we'll salute the good times to be had for less money. Here's to a great night on the town - drink up and buy less.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

U.S .Tries to Avoid War with Iran

The Bush administration has joined talks with Iran that will address their nuclear program and make an effort to avoid potential military action. The Bush administration has refused to join talks with Iran unless they discontinued their uranium enrichment efforts. As the president's term nears an end, the administration has changed its tune and joined talks despite Iran's refusal to disband their uranium enrichment. The policy change may have to do with increased oil prices and the administrations desire to not only avoid conflict but also gain access to Iranian oil.

Whatever is behind the Bush administration's policy about-face, it's good news for the United States, which cannot afford another war. It's also thrilling to see and administration that scorns diplomacy join an internationally lead effort to work things out with the Middle East. Bush gets a gold star for this one.

(Originally reported by Thomson Reuters.)

Back Online

Today's good news is for those who check Cheerful Scoop regularly.

You might have noticed I haven't posted for a while and that was because I was on vacation. But I am back, refreshed, and ready to pass along more good news. Stay tuned for some happy stories to brighten your day and I apologize for the brief silence.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Gas Prices Drop!

Oil prices dropped by 4 dollars a barrel today! In anticipation of the 4th of July holiday, traders drove up prices last week as they stock piled oil. With the holiday over, there's more oil on the market, which mean slightly lower prices. 

The question is of course whether the price will stay where they are at for a while. Analysts are quick to say lower prices won't last, however even a little financial relief is something, especially when you consider the United States spends $1 billion more on gas than it did five years ago. 

Like many Americans, I need to drive to work and even a minor price decrease is welcome. Yet high gas prices have forced Americans to reevaluate their energy consumption and using less of anything is good in the long run. The higher prices have also forced the private sector and the government to take action and start developing green energy sources. It's just unfortunate that it takes a crisis to produce positive action. 

(Original reporting by the Associated Press.)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

China Regulates Revealing Clothing in Bars

Good news for the ladies: in an effort to stop prostitution, China is regulating what bar employees wear by encouraging a more modest dress code and forcing bars, night clubs, and karaoke clubs to install windows in their private rooms. The regulations were put into place to ward off businessmen entertaining guests with prostitutes.

Fundamentally, I don't support telling people what they can and cannot wear, however bars and clubs shouldn't force their employees to wear revealing clothes. It's degrading. Entertainment establishments can still be edgy without having scantily clad women behind the bar. Likewise, making it harder for wealthy businessmen to buy sex raises moral standards when it comes to gender relations. 

(Original reporting done by Reuters.)
    

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Washington's Childhood Home Discovered

Good news for history buffs and George Washington enthusiasts: the first president's childhood home was discovered by archaeologists. The family farm, located in Virgina 50 miles south of Washington D.C., was excavated over the span of three years. This discovery means insights into the life of one of the founding fathers. It also means discrediting the cherry tree story. Apparently there are and were no cherry trees around the farm. However, other characteristic indicate the farm is the read deal.

Maybe the discovery will lead to a more accurate depiction of U.S. history; one that is not romanticized. Hell - the archaeologists might even find Washington's wooden dentures. Now that would be a discovery! Regardless, the site offers another tourist destination for this summer.

(Originally reported by The New York Times.)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Smoking Ban for the Netherlands

A tobacco smoking ban takes affect in the Netherlands this Tuesday. The ban prevents smoking in cafes, bars, and restaurants. Similar bans have become increasingly popular across Europe. The Dutch ban still allows people to smoke marijuana in cannabis clubs, however tobacco can't be mixed with the marijuana. 

The ban is good news for public health in general and non-smokers who don't enjoy smelling like ashtrays. Of course smokers won't consider the ban a positive thing, but in the end it might save them money because they'll smoke less. That's something to rejoice in. 

(Original reporting by the BBC.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Iowa Pets Reunited with Owners

Almost a hundred Iowan pets were reunited with their owners after a raging flood separated them.  The pets were held in makeshift shelters while they waited for their owners to reclaim them. Rescue workers from animal-rights agencies swept Cedar Rapids, one the areas affect the worst by the flood, looking for lost and abandoned pets. Over 24,000 people were evacuated from Cedar Rapids. Now that people are coming back, they are reclaiming their pets and trying to start over. 

(Original reporting done by National Geographic.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Soil on Mars Could Support Life

NASA scientists reported that Martian soil could support life. The preliminary analysis of the soil showed it has sufficient nutrients, such as magnesium, sodium, and potassium, which could support life. The soil was less acidic than expected. Scientists were surprised to learn the soil is far from toxic. 

Now that we know about Mars's fertility we can plan ahead. In the event we ruin the Earth there's always Mars to immigrate to. Maybe President Bush's Mars ambitions weren't so ridiculous. Regardless, it's just cool Mars's soil could support life. 

(Original reporting done by the BBC.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jolie-Pitt Foundation Donates $1 Million to Iraqi Children

Superstars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt donated $1 million to the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict. The organization will distribute the money between four organizations that help children who have lost parents, homes, and schools in Iraq. The four organizations, Armed Services YMCA Operation Hero Program, Women for Women International, International Rescue Committee, and NineMillion.org, aid children through educational efforts such as rebuilding schools and providing counseling, educational support, books, school uniforms, and learning materials.  

It's nice to know mega-stars are concerned with more than losing weight, their next role, or doing copious amounts of drugs. Celebrity coverage should go beyond what they are wearing or who they are dating and highlight their charitable efforts. That would be more inspiring to the general public and make us feel better, not worse about ourselves and the world. 

(Original reporting done by the Associated Press.) 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tourists Welcome in Tibet Again

China reopened Tibet to tourism after not allowing foreigners into the country for three months. The Chinese government closed Tibet to tourism after violent anti-China protests and riots took place in March. China's state media said the region is now "safe" and reopened the boarders to visitors. Foreign journalists are still not welcome and have a hard time entering the country.

Regardless of where you stand on the Tibet vs. China issue, the reopening the country is a good thing for the world and Tibetan citizens. People should be able to see the wonders the country offers and be able to experience its culture.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Florida to Restore Everglades

The nation's largest sugarcane producer, United States Sugar, agreed to sell 187,000 acres of land to the state of Florida, which plans to add the land to the Everglades Nation Park. In the proposal the state agreed to pay $1.75 for the property and United States Sugar can farm the land for six more years. Along with the land, the state would get 2 sugar refineries and 200 miles of railroad infrastructure, among other assets. Environmentalists are thrilled at the prospect of restoring the Everglades. Reestablishing the land means the return of natural water flow that would prevent wild fires and protect wildlife. It would also simply the watershed, eliminating the need for complicated plumbing.  

United State Sugar plans to shut down its operations, and while this leaves 1,900 jobs in question, the company had already been in trouble due to debt from building a new sugar mill and a lawsuit over employee retirement pay. In the end, the money from the purchase may bail out share holders. 

The money Florida plans to spend will directly improve the environment. It will also create another national park on par with Yellowstone. This is good news in the flight against global warming and our depleted earth. 

(Original reporting by The New York Times.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chickens Have Secrets to Allergies

A team of researches at King's College London found a "fossilized" version of the molecule responsible for human allergies in chickens. By studying the birds and this molecule, the researches hope to understand why some people develop server allergies and how to stop the body's reactions.

In birds, the molecule is called IgY and is a predecessor to the human version called IgE, which factors into the immune system overreacting during anaphylactic shock and asthma attacks. By understanding why IgY doesn't cause problems in birds, researchers can pinpoint why IgE does cause problems in humans. 

More research has to be done, but asthma sufferers and those with debilitating allergies may have a solution due to chickens and their ancient molecule.   

(Original reporting done by the BBC.)



Sunday, June 22, 2008

Nigerian Militants Announce Ceasefire

The Nigerian militant group known as the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has agreed to a ceasefire to start on Tuesday, June 24. The group is responsible for some of the worst attacks on Nigeria's oil infrastructure, as well as kidnapping oil workers. The group announced the ceasefire after receiving pleas from elders in the region. The militants said they would give peace talks another chance. 

Militant groups like Emancipation of the Niger Delta contribute to rising oil prices by disrupting oil production. A ceasefire by such groups is unlikely to greatly benefit the consumer, however a stable Nigeria would mean less conflict over oil. It also means peace for Nigerians, who have seen years of violence. 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Barack Obama Declines Public Funding for Campaign

Watch Barack Obama's speech about declining public funding for his campaign. 

It is not my intention for Cheerful Scoop to be highly political, nor do I plan to discuss or endorse political figures here. With that said, I think it's wonderful Obama has chosen the higher path for his campaign and declined public funding. The system needs reform and Obama's actions speak loader than his words, which is usual for a politician. Cheers to you Barack! 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Businesses Ask for Carbon Curbs

It's rare that businesses ask for regulations, but 99 companies are doing just that - demanding environmental regulations . A coalition of companies from across the world are asking political leaders to develop targets for reducing greenhouse gases and establishing a global carbon market. The coalition met in anticipation of next month's G8 meeting. Members of the group hope that their ideas discussed in the G8 meeting will carry over to the UN climate change meetings.

Companies like British Airways, Shell, and Vattanfall have participated. Companies from all business sectors have joined the coalition lead by Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.

The coalition represents a turning point and shows the world is ready to make changes when it comes to environmental practices. It's amazing international businesses have joined the cry for change because only through their efforts will the world move toward better environmental practices.

(Original reporting done by the BBC.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alzheimer's Drug Shows Promise

Wyeth and Elan Corporation, a pharmaceutical company, reported their experimental Alzheimer's treatment drug helped certain patients participating in their clinical trials. People without the gene ApoE4 showed increased cognitive ability after the drug, bapineuzumab, was administered. Of Alzheimer suffers, 70 percent don't have the gene, meaning the drug may benefit them. Unfortunately, no clinical benefits were reported for people who do have the gene.

Bapineuzumab, a man-made antibody, removes protein deposits in the brain. If the drug makes it through more clinical trials and is approved for use, it could earn Wyeth and Elan Corp. $6.5 billion. Not too bad for ridding the world of a terrible disease that affects 5.2 million Americans. This number will only increase as Baby Boomers age.

Of course, it's in the company's interest to say the drug improves cognitive ability and get it approved and into the market, yet how can you fault a drug company for trying to develop and market a product that would help so many?

(Original reporting done by Bloomberg.com)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

House Passes Unemployment Aid Extension

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend unemployment benefits an extra 13 weeks past the standard 26 weeks in a 274 to 137 vote. The minimum number of in-favor votes was attained just a day after the measure was rejected. The measure was approved despite the White House threatening a veto.  The measure extends an estimated 4 million American's benefits, which provides $300 to each unemployed individual a week. 

The measure will cost the government $10 billion, but considering the positive impact it will have on unemployed people's lives, the money will be well spent. Is it not a government's responsibility to assist its citizen and help them improve their lives?  

(Article originally published by The New York Times.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

World Hasn't Written United States Off for Mistakes

A poll of two dozen countries revealed that most foreigners believe the next president of the United States will improve foreign policy. The pole also revealed the global opinion of the United States has improved or stayed the same compared to last year. This is the first time in a decade the United States has seen an improvement in its global image. 

The poll was conducted by the Pew Research Center between March 17 and April 21. The margins of sampling error were plus or minus 3 percentage points. 

(Article first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News.)

R. Kelly Acquitted on All Charges of Child Pornography

If you're an R. Kelly fan you'll be thrilled (if not, don't read any further) - a jury acquitted him of all child pornography charges. The six-year drama surrounding allegations that the R&B star had sex with a 13-year-old girl and filmed the act came to a close when a Chicago jury read the not guilty verdict today. If he had been found guilty, R. Kelly would have served at least 15 years in prison. 

With his newfound freedom perhaps the singer will produce another R&B opera. If that happens don't expect its release to be reported on this blog.   

(Originally reported by Daily News.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Terrorist Suspect Can Appeal to Civil Courts

The United States Supreme Court ruled that terrorist suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have the right to appeal to civil courts to contest their detention. The justices' 5 to 4 decision marks progress toward the humane treatment of detainees. The decision comes into direct conflict with the Bush administration's position that the detainees had adequate rights Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the US Constitution need not apply to their cases. As Justice Kennedy stated in his opinion, “The costs of delay can no longer be borne by those who are held in custody.”

The court's ruling demonstrates the Unites State's commitment to individual and human rights, which is at the heart of American values. The world needs the United States to lead human rights efforts and this decision moves us in the right direction.

(Original article published by The New York Times.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Florida Students Improve Test Scores

Florida students have improved their Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores in math, reading, and science. According to the state, more students preformed at or above grade-level expectation in these key learning areas.

Science still remains a problem area for the states' students and reading scores for high school students indicate only 42 percent read at or above grade level. Yet, since 2001 reading scores have gone up.

Even if standardized testing is flawed and a poor indicator of students' educational achievements, one can still find a little hope in this report published in The Tampa Tribune. Keep hitting the book Florida.

Same-Sex Marrige May Boost California's Economy

When California's Supreme Court overturned the state's ban on gay marriage many same-sex couples rejoiced. Now California as whole has a reason to rejoice; same-sex marriages may stimulate the economy by adding hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars.

A study done by William Institute at the University of California, Los Angles Law School, projected that gay couples would spend $684 million dollars on wedding services in the next three years. The study also projected that 100,000 in-state couples and 68,000 out-of-state couples would get married in this three-year period. All of these marriages mean a tax revenue of $64 million and $9 million in marriage licence fees.

Social conservatives can say what they want about the morality of same-sex marriage, but they can't deny the economic benefits of allowing these unions. Imagine, hundreds of millions of dollars generated out of people's happiness - that's a wonderful thing for the state of California.

(Article originally published in Business Week.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

High Oil Prices Pay for Venezuelans' Food

Despite high inflation rates and rising grain prices that have ravaged countries across the world, poor Venezuelans have access to discounted food provided by the socialist government. The discounted food is paid for by recent oil revenues. The food is distributed at centers across the country.

This news makes putting the extra money into the fuel tank feel a little better. It also reflects positively on Venezuela's controversial government.

To get more details visit this article from National Geographic.

Dog Swallows PoisonToad and Lives

In more animal-related good news, a bull Arab hound swallowed a poisonous cane toad and lived after being given vomit-inducing drugs. The story gets better - the toad also lived after being inside the dog for 40 minutes. Normally the poison from a cane toad would kill a dog of that size in about 20 minutes, however the dog never bit the toad. Both the dog and the toad have made full recoveries.

To watch a video clip about this crazy story check out National Geographic's website.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Kitten Saved by Vacuum Cleaner

A fire crew in Dunbar, East Lothian, rescued a kitten using a vacuum cleaner. The six-hour-old kitten was trapped in a drain. To get the kitten out, the fire crew used a vibrascope camera to locate the kitten then attached a sock to the end of a vacuum cleaner hose in order to extract the animal.

Props to the BBC for reporting this little gem of a story. No one wants to read about cute, fuzzy animals dying in drains on a Monday morning.

P.S. Personally this is delightful news considering my own vacuum owes of the weekend. In desperate need of a vacuum, but unwilling to pay $600 for one, I exchanged a pan of brownies for an old vacuum that belonged to an acquaintance. The vacuum did NOT work even after I tried to fix it. I am glad that somewhere in the world there is working vacuum being put to good use.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

AIDS Infections and Deaths on the Decline

According to a UN report, the number of AIDS infections and deaths are declining. There hasn't been a decline in the infection or death rate since AIDS was identified in the 1980's. Although there are an estimated 32.2 million people living with HIV, the annual rate of infection is decreasing. The decrease may be a result of better education programs throughout the world.   

For more details give this article from eFluxMedia a read. 

Patrick Swayze Returns

FOXNews reports that Patrick Swayze will return to work despite battling pancreatic cancer. The actor has signed on to do a television show for A&E called The Beast. The show is about a veteran FBI agent, played by Swayze, teaching his rookie partner the do's and don'ts of law enforcement.

Cancer can't stop Swayze, which means Dirty Dancing fans everywhere will be thrilled. If you're not a Swayze fan this may not good news, but I figured anyone persevering despite having cancer is positive news.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Thong Bandits Caught

The two men who wore women's thong underwear over their faces while robbing a store in Colorado have been caught. Video taped with skimpy panties covering half of their faces, the two men turned themselves in to police after the tape was aired across the United States. 

Check out the article found on BBC's website. The picture is amusing to say the least! 

Lost Divers Found

For two days three British divers exploring Indonesia waters were missing. The divers had been swept twenty miles from where they were initially diving and were adrift for nine hours. They ended up on a remote island, where the divers were discovered. Their families were overjoyed to learn the worst had not transpired and their love ones were alive, although dehydrated and exhausted. 

Reported by the BBC.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Radiohead Offers Music on iTunes

Finally, Radiohead has decided to offer it's catalog on Apple's iTunes. Aside from the Beatles, Radiohead was the most popular band to not offer their music on the Apple platform - no more. The iTunes revolution continues and music lovers rejoice.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cheers - Red Wine Slows Aging

According to a New York Times article, red wine may slow aging and extent human longevity. This is fabulous news for those who enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. The study, cited within the article, gave resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine, to mice. These mice became super athletes, running on tread mills for twice as long as previously recorded. The increased longevity seen in mice may translate to humans - more studies to follow.

In the mean time - bottoms up!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hope in Hip Hop

Hip Hop is often criticized for portraying women in a negative light, perpetuating the gangster life style among African-American youth, and promoting consumerism. However, positive hip hop exists and Laura Hall found it when she had to quit school and begin working in a textile factory to support her family. Hall had hated hip hop, but now finds inspiration in artist like Mos Def and Jurassic Five. Check out her essay for NPR's This I Believe.


The Future Doesn't Look so Bad

Science often predicts and describes a gloomy future for humanity. Global warming will be we our end and bring about another ice age or Bird Flu will kill millions - these are just a few examples. However, scientists shouldn't be written off as pessimists. In an address to the World Science Festival last week, futurist Dr. Kurzeil delivered hopeful news about the future. 

Dr. Kurzeil predicts that solar power will replace fossil flues in the next 20 years and life expectancies will increase faster than we age. These are just some of his good tidings. To read more about Dr. Kurzeil and his finds check out the New York Times article, The Future is Now? Pretty Soon, at Least, that inspired this post.