A long-lost species was reintroduced to London, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was freed, and Google launched a fund for black tech entrepreneurs, plus more positive news
A lost species returned to London
They have become emblematic of the rewilding movement. Now beavers are roaming riverbanks in London again after an absence of more than four centuries.
Two of the animals – a male and a female – were released into a six-hectare enclosure in Enfield, north London, on Thursday. The pair are currently nameless, but Justin Beaver and Sigourney Beaver have been mooted. The public will be invited to vote for their preference.
Beaver dams slow waterways and provide habitats for other aquatic species. Their return to Enfield is part of council efforts to tackle flooding and boost biodiversity. Goshawks could be the next species to be reintroduced.
“This is a truly humbling event to see these wonderful creatures back in the borough,” said Enfield council’s deputy leader, Ian Barnes. “By exploring natural flood management techniques, such as this beaver project, we can reduce the risk of harm from flooding following extreme rainfall, protecting hundreds if not thousands of homes.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was freed
There was a palpable sense of relief in the UK this week when Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured) and Anoosheh Ashoori were reunited with their families after years of detention in Iran.
The British-Iranian nationals had been held on spurious charges of spying, which they deny. This week, they were freed and flown back to Brize Norton airfield in England, where they were greeted by their families.
Aid worker Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, was detained six years ago when her daughter Gabriella was just one. Her husband Richard has tirelessly campaigned for her release, even going on a hunger strike.
Ashoori, 67, a retired civil engineer, was detained for almost five years. In a video message posted on Twitter, his daughter Elika expressed her relief at his return.
The pair’s release came after the UK settled a £400m debt with Iran, although Tehran claimed this was not linked to their freeing. The UK government has been accused of cack-handedness in its handling of their cases.
Ukraine’s independent media got a boost
Money has been pouring in for Ukrainian journalists covering the invasion of their country.
A fundraising campaign – organised by journalism groups The Fix, Are We Europe, Jnomics, and Media Development Foundation – has raised more than £3m for the country’s independent media outlets in the last fortnight.
The money will fund necessities, such as fuel and bulletproof vests, as well as media equipment.
In an editorial, staff at The Fix wrote: “Our main goal is to help save lives, first and foremost, and then safeguard Ukraine’s independent and ethical media – an important part of Ukraine’s social fabric at this terrible time.”
Meanwhile in Russia…
Editor-turned-activist Marina Ovsyannikova showed extraordinary bravery this week by interrupting a Russian news bulletin to protest against the war in Ukraine.
Risking jail time, Ovsyannikova stood behind a news anchor carrying a placard that read: “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here.” She has since been arrested and interrogated.
The Kremlin has launched an aggressive crackdown on Russian media since its invasion of Ukraine. However, some analysts argue that Ovsyannikova’s stunt is the latest sign that cracks are appearing in the propaganda machine.
Writing in Wired, Tom Southern of the Centre for Information Resilience, wrote: “The sophisticated disinformation machinery Putin spent decades cultivating collapsed within days [of the invasion]”.
An African architect won the Pritzker Prize for the first time
Burkina Faso architect Francis Kéré (pictured) has become the first African person to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize.
Kéré’s work is guided by social justice and sustainability considerations, and among his many achievements are schools, arts centres and national park buildings, mostly located in Africa.
Judges praised his ambitious designs, despite budget and material constraints. They also commended him for his “poetic expression of light”.
Kéré said: “Everyone deserves quality, everyone deserves luxury, and everyone deserves comfort.”
Google announced a £3m Black Founders Fund
A cash fund for tech businesses that are led by black people has been announced by Google. The Black Founders Fund will be awarded to European tech startups that are using technology to solve everyday problems.
Successful applicants will receive up to $100,000 (£76,000), plus $200,000 (£152,000) in credit to use towards Google advertising and cloud services.
The fund, now in its second year, aims to boost the black tech business amid growing evidence that racism is built into many emerging technologies.
Outdoor weddings were legalised in England and Wales
Al fresco weddings were given the go-ahead in England and Wales this week.
Archaic laws have traditionally prevented couples from getting hitched outside, but temporary measures brought in during Covid permitted outdoor weddings. Those measures will now become permanent, the UK government announced.
Justice minister Tom Pursglove said: “A wedding is one of the most important days in a person’s life and it is right that couples should have greater choice in how they celebrate their special occasion. These reforms will allow couples to hold more personalised ceremonies.”
A community-owned wind farm went live in Wales
A community-owned wind farm has gone live in Wales, putting power in the hands of people during the energy crisis.
More than 900 people clubbed together to buy the £2.2m Graig Fatha wind turbine in Coedely. Even though not all stakeholders live near the facility, they will receive discounts on their electricity bills. It’s what sets the scheme apart from most other community-energy schemes.
“This project demonstrates how wind farm ownership can free consumers from volatile, high energy prices and dependence on imported energy,” said Sarah Merrick, CEO of Ripple Energy, which operates the turbine. “This shows better energy solutions, that give people real power, are available today.”
Source: Positive News