Skip to main content
Move the World.

Welcome back to our Cool Stuff Roundup (trademark still pending), where we collect the best stories shared on Freethink’s internal Slack channel, and share them with you.

This week, we’ve been talking amongst ourselves about how the good stuff that’s happening in the world often times gets lost in the news. My Facebook wall is a good example of this: Apocalyptic political rant about candidate A, conspiratorial rant about candidate B, an absolutely infuriating story about the sugar lobby lying to all of us, and an Onion video making fun of Tom Hanks’ new movie.

OK, The Onion video is pretty funny, but didn’t good things happen in the last week? Of course they did. Here are some of those things: 

Sri Lanka defeated malaria

More humans are killed by mosquitos every year than by the next 13 deadliest foes combined, and that includes other humans. And we can thank malaria for that. Thankfully, we also know how to beat malaria at the nation level, which is exactly what Sri Lanka has done.

(Sri Lanka) hasn’t seen a malaria case in three years.

This month, the World Health Organization declared that the country of 20 million people hasn’t seen a malaria case in three years, which is just long enough for Sri Lanka to claim a W over one of human history’s deadliest diseases. What made it possible? Despite recovering from a civil war, the country’s public health bodies were able to offer free screening and free treatment to at-risk populations of every ethnicity. That’s awesome.

Claire Lomas completed the Great North Run

lomasarticle
Claire Lomas also walked in the London Marathon in 2012 / Lulu Kyriacou

Who completed the what? Claire Lomas was paralyzed from the chest down in a horse-riding accident several years ago. The Great North Run is a half marathon in Britain. And Lomas was able to “run” it thanks to her ReWalk exoskeleton. (Speaking of: you should totally check out the video where we profiled paralyzed architect, Robert Woo, who has regained feeling in his legs thanks to using ReWalk). She traveled roughly three miles a day for nearly a week, and finished soundly in last place. But when you consider that just five years ago, people suffering from Lomas’s injury didn’t walk anywhere in any amount of time, it’s absolutely amazing. (Did we mention she completed the half-marathon while 16 weeks pregnant?!)

Google announced plans to treat cancer with artificial intelligence

Google’s DeepMind is one of the top artificial intelligence teams in the world. University College Hospital is one of the best cancer treatment centers in Britain. The two are teaming up to pit A.I. against cancer. Technology Review reports that “DeepMind will analyze 700 anonymized scans from former patients who suffered from head and neck cancers. They hope to create an algorithm that can learn how physicians make decisions about this part of the treatment process, ultimately segmenting the scans automatically.”

Incomes are rising in the U.S.

“That 5.2% (income) increase was the largest, in percentage terms, recorded by the bureau since it began tracking median income statistics in the 1960s."

Economy watchers rejoiced this week after the Census Bureau released data showing 2015 was the best year in decades for low-income and middle class American households. “Real median household income was $56,500 in 2015 up from $53,700 in 2014,” The Washington Post reports. “That 5.2 percent increase was the largest, in percentage terms, recorded by the bureau since it began tracking median income statistics in the 1960s. In addition, the poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968.” Yes, there’s room for improvement in the American economy, but also: This is improvement!

Homepage image from Lulu Kyriacou

Up Next

Stories of Resilience
COVID’s Unique Challenge For the Navajo Nation
navajo nation
Stories of Resilience
COVID’s Unique Challenge For the Navajo Nation
With a lack of access to running water and other resources, the Navajo Nation faces a tough challenge in COVID-19. But the Diné are fighting back.

With a lack of access to running water and other resources, the Navajo Nation faces a tough challenge in COVID-19. But the Diné are fighting back.

CATALYSTS
Life Jackets Are Used to Create Jewelry, Opportunity for Refugees
Life Jackets Are Used to Create Jewelry, Opportunity for Refugees
CATALYSTS
Life Jackets Are Used to Create Jewelry, Opportunity for Refugees
Hordes of bright orange lifejackets are strewn across the rocky beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos. Discarded...

Hordes of bright orange lifejackets are strewn across the rocky beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos. Discarded after a perilous journey at sea, they exemplify the risk that refugees are willing to take in search of a better life. A Minnesota fashion start-up creates jewelry from discarded refugee life jackets. There are currently 26 million refugees worldwide....

#FIXINGJUSTICE - harm reduction
24 Years For a Crime He Didn’t Commit
24 Years For a Crime He Didn’t Commit
Watch Now
#FIXINGJUSTICE - harm reduction
24 Years For a Crime He Didn’t Commit
When a prisoner serving a life sentence is suddenly found to be innocent, it often makes national news. But what happens after the cameras go away?
Watch Now

There are around 2,500 exonerees in the U.S.—people who were convicted of a crime and then later proven innocent by their own doggedness or new evidence in a case. When they are freed from prison, their lives are often saddled by the same issues that hold back people who actually committed a crime—lack of education, no job skills or employment history, and the stigma of having spent years in prison. While their release is...

Catalysts
Prison Education Can Break the "Revolving Door" of Recidivism
Prison Education Can Break the
Catalysts
Prison Education Can Break the "Revolving Door" of Recidivism
Over 600,000 people will leave prison this year; here's how we can help them never return.

Over 600,000 people will leave prison this year; here's how we can help them never return.

Dispatches
Air Travel Could Be Stopping the Next Plague
Air Travel Could Be Stopping the Next Plague
Dispatches
Air Travel Could Be Stopping the Next Plague
Our hyper-connected world might be protecting us against devastating plagues.

Our hyper-connected world might be protecting us against devastating plagues.

The Violinist Playing for Freedom in Venezuela
The Violinist Playing for Freedom in Venezuela
Watch Now
The Violinist Playing for Freedom in Venezuela
Venezuelan violinist Wuilly Arteaga has been beaten and arrested, but it hasn’t stopped him from using music to help bring freedom to his country
Watch Now

When Wuilly Arteaga, a Venezuelan violin virtuoso, joined protests with just his instrument, he was beaten and arrested. But that hasn’t stopped him from using music to help bring freedom to his country.

Pop Revolution
How Skate Punks are Ushering in a New Era of Freedom in Myanmar
How Skate Punks are Ushering in a New Era of Freedom in Myanmar
Pop Revolution
How Skate Punks are Ushering in a New Era of Freedom in Myanmar
For decades, Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by a repressive military junta. Then, in 2011, things began to...
By Michael O'Shea

For decades, Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by a repressive military junta. Then, in 2011, things began to change.

Culture
This Army Sergeant Started a 24-Hour Hotline For Service Members with PTSD
This Army Sergeant Started a 24-Hour Hotline For Service Members with PTSD
Culture
This Army Sergeant Started a 24-Hour Hotline For Service Members with PTSD
First Sgt. Landon Jackson battled with severe PTSD and turned his experience into a 24 hour hotline that gives...
By Mike Riggs

First Sgt. Landon Jackson battled with severe PTSD and turned his experience into a 24 hour hotline that gives service members an outlet whenever they need it.