Good News This Week: March 30, 2024 - Farms, Housing, & Marriage Equality

A photo collage of a kid getting a check-up, a landfill, a submerged part of the Baltimore bridge, a crowd holding a giant LGBTQ+ flag, and a close-up on a pair of hands wearing medical gloves

Every day the Good Good Good team collects the best good news in the world and shares it with our community. Here are the highlights for this week!

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The Best Positive News We’re Celebrating This Week —

Doctors Without Borders just launched a new, unprecedented global initiative to diagnose and treat tuberculosis in children

Under new recommendations from the World Health Organization, a patient-centered approach to tuberculosis will help with both early detection and treatment, as well as improving treatment options. The new treatments are shorter, while still being effective, especially for very young children.

To implement these new recommendations, Doctors Without Borders just launched a new global initiative to improve diagnosis and treatment of TB among children and prevent new cases. Called “TACTiC” (for “Test, Avoid, Cure Tuberculosis in Children), the initative will be brought to over a dozen countries in Africa and Asia.

TB is the world’s deadliest infectious diseaseand it’s entirely curable. An estimated 10 million people across the globe are infected every year, primarily children, and 1.6 million still die each year.

Why is this good news? Not only Doctors Without Borders’ initiative (which it has long been fighting for) to implement the new testing and treatment recommendations save lives — it will result in shorter treatments for children, which helps their families by reducing travel costs, follow-up time, and providing a better treatment experience overall.

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New data shows it’s gotten easier for people to vote in the U.S. since 2000

According to new data from the Center for Election Innovation & Research, voting in the U.S. has gotten easier in the last two decades. Since 2020, more voters have gained access to early voting — and now, nearly every state offers some form of early in-person voting and mail-in voting to all voters.

Despite efforts to restrict access to voting in some states, nearly 97% of voting-age citizens across the country now have the option to vote before Election Day — huge progress for improving access to voting.

In total, 46 states and Washington, D.C. offer early in-person voting — and 37 of those also offer mail-in voting to all voters, no excuse required.

The data also showed that as voters gain access to ways of casting their vote — they use them. And in a country where voter turnout is still relatively low compared to the rest of the world, improving access to voting methods helps improve voter turnout and representation.

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The site of Pennsylvania’s former largest coal plant will soon be home to the state’s largest solar farm

The Homer City coal plant, once the largest in the state of Pennsylvania closed its doors in July of 2023. Now, thanks to a $90 million grant, 2,700 acres of the land will be home to the state’s largest solar farm.

The Mineral Basin Solar Project will be a utility-scale solar farm producing enough clean energy to power 75,000 homes. Its the first in a series of similar projects planned in the region on former coal mine sites over the next five years.

The project is moving forward thanks in part to federal funds in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocates $550 billion in federal funds to improve the country’s infrastructure — including investing in clean energy.

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More good solar energy news:

Moments before the Baltimore bridge collapsed, officials who heard a “mayday” call quickly stopped more cars from crossing

Early Tuesday morning, tragedy rocked Baltimore, Maryland when the Francis Scott Key Bridge was struck by a passing cargo ship and collapsed. First responders quickly started search and rescue for at least eight people who fell into the frigid waters.

Thanks to a mayday call, officials were also able to help keep even more people from falling into the depths below. Because of the crew’s swift action — local officials were able to stop some vehicles from crossing the bridge before the ship made contact.

Maryland’s governor said their heroic actions “saved lives” by giving police enough time to stop traffic on Interstate 695 — preventing an even worse tragedy from occurring.

Why is this good news? Aside from saving countless lives, the quick thinking and action from the ship’s crew and officials on land is an important reminder that, while tragic things happen, there are always people doing their part to make a difference.

And we have no doubt that the Baltimore community will continue to do so as it navigates the impacts of this tragedy (and we’ll continue telling you about them, too).

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In 10 years, toxic chemical releases declined by 21% in the U.S.

The EPA just released its 2022 Toxics Release Inventory National Analysis and it had some good progress to report: environmental releases of TRI chemicals were 21% lower than 2013, including a 26% decrease in air releases.

The analysis also found that facilities managed 88.5% of their TRI chemical waste through “preferred” methods like recycling.

The analysis notably includes reporting on 180 kinds of PFAS — also known as “forever chemicals” — and the report found that facilities made 1.2 million pounds of PFAS waste. While this seems like a lot (it’s still too much!) — it was an 8% decrease compared to 2021.

Additionally, future reports will be even more accurate and transparent: there will no longer be an exemption for facilities that use a “small amount” of PFAS.

While tracking this kind of data isn’t necessarily the most exciting thing ever — it’s incredibly important and helpful information for communities, policymakers, and other stakeholders. Not only is the information made publicly available, allowing folks to easily see what kind of pollution they may be exposed to where they live, it also offers a clear look at which communities are seeing a disproportionate amount of it — critical for environmental justice.

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Lawmakers in Thailand just passed historic legislation recognizing same-sex marriage

Paving the way for it to become the first country in Southeast Asia to do so, lawmakers in Thailand just passed historic marriage equality legislation. Technically an amendment, around 400 members of the country’s 500-member house voted to pass it.

Now, the legislation heads to the Senate and Prime Minister for approval. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has made it a central issue, so the legislation is expected to pass.

When the changes take effect, the country will become the third in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage registrations for those 18 and older, along with rights to inheritance, tax allowances, child adoption, and more.

→​​ Read more

More good LGBTQ+ news:

A new study found that a blood test can predict dementia years before an official diagnosis

In the largest study of its kind, scientists have discovered that a blood test detecting specific proteins could predict dementia up to 15 years before a person receives an official diagnosis — with a remarkable 90% accuracy.

Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer. Over 900,000 people in the UK are living with the memory-robbing condition, yet less than two-thirds of people receive a formal diagnosis.

This medical breakthrough is significant, because those with undiagnosed dementia, and their families, cannot attend clinical trials, have an organized healthcare plan, or access essential support. Improving dementia diagnoses would provide earlier support and give patients a longer, healthier, and more prosperous life.

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More recent medical breakthroughs:

A real estate agent and community housing organization are partnering to help voucher holders in New York City get housing

In 2016, the longtime, Brooklyn-based social services provider Neighbors Together recognized a need in their community: voucher holders were having trouble finding housing due to source-of-income discrimination.

Advocacy and education turned into more hands-on action when they looked to start working with a real estate agent.

Suzanne Adler had previously worked with voucher holders and had been “disgusted” at how they were treated by her fellow agents and landlords. She applied to work with Neighbors Together to make a difference.

In addition to helping voucher holders actually find housing, Adler and Neighbors Together host workshops and gatherings to dismantle bias against voucher holders, who are often stigmatized as “bad tenants.”

Against the backdrop of an affordable housing shortage, and in a city where half of apartments are held by agencies, they hope their work creates a more equitable and sustainable housing environment where tenants, agents, and landlords work together — not against each other.

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More good news of the week —

To help improve vehicle safety, updated female crash test dummies will more accurately represent the people operating emerging car models. Women are more likely to sustain fatal injuries in car crashes, and new crash test dummies could help change that.

The EPA just banned chrysotile asbestos, the last type of asbestos still used in the U.S. Exposure is known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer — and asbestos is linked to more than 40,000 deaths annually just in the US.

Canada just implemented new protections for a coral reef that scientists say “shouldn’t exist.” The coral reef is the latest in a string of instances in which Indigenous knowledge has directed researchers to areas of scientific or historic importance.

A new Netflix committee is awarding life-changing grants to trans, nonbinary, and female filmmakers. Industry giants like Greta Gerwig and Lily Gladstone joined the committee to award $50,000 grants to eight underrepresented filmmakers.

The UN Security Council approved a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and release of hostages. While the council has no means of enforcing the resolution, it is a sign of progress — especially after many past resolutions, which would help allow more aid to reach the region, have failed to pass.

Chemists just developed a first-of-its-kind “self-healing” plastic that is also biodegradable. The chemistry is a bit over our heads, but the plastic can be produced at room temperature in water, which is much more energy efficient and doesn’t require toxic solvents.

A new investigation is calling for accountability regarding the recyclability of Amazon’s plastic packaging. The report adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that store drop-off programs are an ineffective solution to the escalating plastic pollution crisis.

The Biden-Harris administration announced a $180 million investment in school energy infrastructure. It will help school districts implement energy upgrades, lower energy use and costs, improve indoor air quality, and foster healthier learning environments.

In Australia, volunteer-led rewilding projects are helping restore degraded habitats in cities. The projects are also providing opportunities for people to connect both with their neighbors and with the planet.

Olivia Rodrigo is donating to women’s shelters during the Canadian leg of her Guts World Tour. Rodrigo’s Fund 4 Good will support Women’s Shelters Canada, whose 600 nationwide shelters help women and children fleeing abuse and violence.

Tennessee just became the first state to protect musicians and other artists against AI. The Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security Act is an updated version of the state's right of publicity law and includes AI-specific protections.

A new wireless electric vehicle charging pad can fill a car’s battery as fast and efficiently as a wired plug. The groundbreaking technology makes way for the possibility of fast, efficient, and convenient charging by parking in a designated spot.

A first-of-its-kind mental health hotline is hoping to reach more LGBTQ+ youth in crisis. Created in partnership with Crisis Text Line, FOLX is a nationwide LGBTQ+ digital healthcare service provider that helps LGBTQ+ people safely and affordably access care.

A rare daytime sighting of a “ghost bird” is going viral on TikTok, raising awareness of a species in need of protection. While potoos are not currently endangered or at risk, all seven species are currently on the decline due to deforestation and habitat loss.

Washington just became the seventh state to require LGBTQ+-inclusive curriculum in schools. A new law requires public schools to teach the “histories, contributions, and perspectives” of marginalized groups, including people of color, disabled people, and LGBTQ+ people.

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March 30, 2024 5:00 AM
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