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.)