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Botswana unearths world's third largest diamond
23 June 2021 - A 1,098 carat diamond believed to be the third largest gem-quality stone ever to be mined, has been discovered in Botswana, according to a joint venture between Anglo American's De Beers and the government. ... It is the third largest in the world, behind the 3,106 carat Cullinan stone recovered in South Africa in 1905 and the 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona unearthed by Lucara Diamonds in Botswana in 2015. (more)

One of the world's largest diamonds has been unearthed in Botswana
23 June 2021 - One of the world's largest diamonds has been unearthed in Botswana, the country's government has announced. The 1,098-carat stone, believed to be the third largest 'gem-quality' diamond ever found, was presented to President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday [16 June]. (more)

Bee-friendly urban wildflower meadows prove a hit with German city dwellers
22 June 2021 - More than 100 wildflower meadows have been planted in Germany's largest cities over the past three years and are coming into full bloom this summer to transform urban landscapes. [The] aesthetics are a mere bonus for a scheme with serious purpose: the protection of Germany's population of wild bees. The country is home to about 580 species of wild bee, of which an estimated 300 can be found in Berlin. (more)

'Woman In Motion' showcases the trailblazing star who brought diversity to outer space
22 June 2021 - Anyone with a passing familiarity with the world of Star Trek recognizes Nichelle Nichols as the communications officer of the starship Enterprise, serving on the bridge alongside Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Mr. Sulu (George Takei) in the original series that aired 1966-1969. At a time when there were vanishingly few Black female faces on prime time television, and none in roles showcasing their dignity, competence, and shared ownership of humanity's future, Nichols inspired millions. [The documentary film includes] details on her role working with NASA to recruit more women and people of color into the program in the mid-1970s ahead of the Space Shuttle launch. (more)

Big diamond found in Botswana, could be world's 3rd largest
22 June 2021 - A huge diamond weighing more than 1,000 carats, which could be the third-largest mined in history, has been discovered in the southern African country of Botswana. The high-quality gemstone weighing 1,098.3 carats was unearthed earlier this month in the Jwaneng mine owned by Debswana, the mining company jointly owned by the Botswanan government and the De Beers Group. (more)

New 'Star Trek' documentary unveils star Nichelle Nichols' impactful NASA connection
22 June 2021 - Nichelle Nichols played Uhura in the 'Star Trek' series and films. In real life, Nichols helped recruit more women and people of color for NASA's astronaut program. Martin Luther King Jr. was key in urging Nichelle Nichols not to quit 'Star Trek.' ... In 1977, Nichols was appointed to the board of directors of the National Space Institute and later was invited to NASA headquarters, just as NASA was looking to expand its pool of talent and diversify. NASA asked Nichols, who had also started a consultant firm, Women in Motion, to help recruit more women and people of color applicants for the astronaut program. In just four months, Nichols was credited with bringing in more than 8,000 applications, of which more than 1,600 were women and more than 1,000 were people of color. (more)

International Yoga Day: Four reasons why yoga asanas should be added to your daily routine
21 June 2021 - The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world completely upside-down. ...Amid these challenging times, Yoga has emerged as a strong tool for physical and psychological well-being. Yoga can do wonders for our body by naturally boosting its performance, reducing stress levels, and building immunity. Every year, June 21 is observed as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations, so as to amplify knowledge of this ancient practice. This year, the theme for the event is 'Yoga for well being: how the practice of Yoga can promote the holistic health of every individual'. (more)

US: She won a $40,000 scholarship. 10 minutes later, she donated it to other students
20 June 2021 - When Verda Tetteh moved from Ghana to Fitchburg, Massachusetts, at age 8, she learned to take nothing for granted. The graduation speaker excelled in high school and got into Harvard University, so no one was surprised at commencement when she was awarded a $40,000 general excellence scholarship. But 10 minutes later, she approached the podium again, excused herself for interrupting and announced that she would prefer that a student in greater need receive the prize. (more)

Croatian island eyes green energy self-sufficiency in this decade (+ Reuters video)
18 June 2021 - The northern Adriatic island of Krk, among the biggest in Croatia, looks headed towards energy self-sufficiency by the end of the decade in what environmentalists say is an example for the Mediterranean in transition to green and sustainable power. (more)

Apple awards grants for computer chip courses to historically Black schools
17 June 2021 - Apple Inc said Thursday [17 June] it will give $5 million to four historically Black universities to help expand their engineering programs for designing the chips that power electronic devices. The money comes from Apple's broader racial justice initiative, which it announced last year with $100 million in initial funding. (more)

Native American tribe in Maine gets back sacred island taken 160 years ago
16 June 2021 - The Passamaquoddy Tribe reacquired 140 acres of their ancestral territory, thanks to help from The Nature Conservancy which granted them funds to purchase Pine Island, known to them as Kuwesuwi Monihq. The largest island on Big Lake, Maine, the place has deep historical and cultural significance to the Passamaquoddy community. (more)

Paul McCartney is helping people grow their own fruits and vegetables in the UK for better health and wellbeing
16 June 2021 - After a year in lockdown, growing fruits and vegetables at home has officially taken root -- with more than half of adults cultivating their own produce during the past 12 months. The trend is particularly popular among younger adults, with six in ten 18-to-34 year-olds growing their own -- and now a former Beatle and his family are spearheading an effort to increase the number even more, on behalf of the late Linda McCartney. Paul said, 'Through this project, we hope we can empower more people across the UK to try growing, and eating their own. Dig in and have fun.' (more)

US: An apple detective rediscovered 7 kinds of apples thought to be extinct
16 June 2021 - David Benscoter was [an] investigator at the FBI and IRS for 24 years before transitioning to his new role: apple detective. He's the founder of the Lost Apple Project, a nonprofit organization that searches abandoned farms and orchards in the Pacific Northwest to locate old varieties. Benscoter recently found seven types of apples in old orchards in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho that were thought to have gone extinct as long as a century ago. (more)

US: Maine tribe reacquires historically significant island lands
16 June 2021 - A Native American tribe in Maine has partnered with conservation groups to take back ownership of an island that is historically significant to its members. The Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township said Monday [17 May] that it has reacquired 140 acres of ancestral lands on an island in Big Lake in rural eastern Maine. The tribe said the island was originally known as Kuwesuwi Monihq, or Pine Island. (more)

'Magical': synchronous fireflies light up US national parks
15 June 2021 - For two weeks in late spring, near dusk, the synchronous fireflies at the Great Smoky Mountains national park put on a spectacular display across the landscape, flashing in unison for about five seconds and then stopping, together, like twinkling Christmas lights. This type of firefly is one of just a handful in the US that synchronizes its light patterns, and was once thought not to exist in the western hemisphere at all. Only about a dozen of the more than 2,000 firefly species in the world can synchronize their flashes. (more)

Cancer Alley campaigner wins Goldman Prize for environmental defenders
15 June 2021 - A retired special education teacher from Louisiana who led a successful grassroots campaign to stop construction of a toxic plastics plant in America's Cancer Alley has won the 2021 Goldman Prize for environmental defenders. ...The proposed $1.25bn Chinese-owned plastics plant would have generated a million pounds (450,000kg) of liquid hazardous waste every year, including hundreds of tonnes of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, a carcinogenic chemical that affects respiratory function, as well as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, and benzene. (more)

Louisiana grandmother fighting pollution in 'Cancer Alley' wins Green Nobel prize
15 June 2021 - Sharon Lavigne is going head-to-head with multi-billion dollar chemical plants in her longtime home of St. Janes Parish. At the St. James Parish council meetings, Sharon Lavigne is a familiar face. She's become a fixture since 2018, fighting multi-billion dollar petrochemical plants that threaten to move into her hometown, located along Louisiana's 'Cancer Alley.' On Tuesday [15 June], Lavigne was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, dubbed the Green Nobel. She is one of six recipients recognized for their work as grassroots environmentalists. (more)

Meet the 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize Winners
15 June 2021 - This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, which honors one grassroots activist from each of the six inhabited continents. The 2021 prize winners are Sharon Lavigne from the United States, Gloria Majiga-Kamoto from Malawi, Thai Van Nguyen from Vietnam, Maida Bilal from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kimiko Hirata from Japan, and Liz Chicaje Churay from Peru. (more)

A 'Bubble Barrier' is trapping plastic waste before it can get into the sea
14 June 2021 - What do old televisions, street signs, motorbike helmets, windsurf boards, and Christmas trees have in common? They were all caught floating down Amsterdam's Westerdok canal -- by a curtain of bubbles. 'The Bubble Barrier' was developed as a simple way to stop plastic pollution flowing from waterways into the ocean. An air compressor sends air through a perforated tube running diagonally across the bottom of the canal, creating a stream of bubbles that traps waste and guides it to a catchment system. (more)

Tech firms use remote monitoring to help honey bees
14 June 2021 - Beekeeping is one of the oldest industries in existence, but it faces numerous threats. A number of tech firms hope to help the honey bee have a brighter future. Noah Wilson-Rich, chief scientific officer of US firm Best Bees Company, says it is distressing how many American honey bee colonies, or hives as they are otherwise known, die off every year. His Boston firm installs hives on commercial and residential properties - everywhere from roof tops to back gardens. Its staff then use an advanced software system to monitor and record the health of all the bee colonies. (more)

Indigenous peoples urge Harvard to scrap solar geoengineering project
13 June 2021 - Indigenous peoples from around the world on Wednesday [9 June] urged Harvard University to abandon a project to test ways to dim sunlight as a fix for global warming, saying it posed huge risks to 'Mother Earth'. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, scientists, and environmentalists opposed to 'solar geoengineering' praised the bid to halt research into an artificial global sunshade, announced at an online conference by the Saami Council representing reindeer herders in the Nordic nations and Russia. (more)

Malaysian urban dwellers 'reclaim' city land, one garden at a time
13 June 2021 - Amid the high rises that tower over the Malaysian capital, tiny community gardens are taking shape in a trend that has seen urban dwellers staking claims to the city -- one plot at a time. ... The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) promotes urban farming as a way to ensure food security amid rapid urbanization, while in fast-ageing countries like Singapore, it is also used to tackle loneliness among the elderly. (more)

Canada will not approve new thermal coal mining projects, cites environmental damage
12 June 2021 - Canada will not approve new thermal coal mining projects or plans to expand existing mines because of the potential for environmental damage, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said on Friday [11 June]. In a statement, Wilkinson said thermal coal -- primarily used for generating electricity -- was the single largest contributor to climate change. (more)

For love of birds: Backyard sleuths boost scientists' work
11 June 2021 - The pandemic that put much of normal life on pause -- stopping travel and shutting people in their homes -- also afforded more time for many families to study the wildlife in their own backyards. Cornell University's records show a boom in amateur bird-watching. The number of people submitting eBird checklist -- recording their bird sightings -- was up 37 percent in 2020 compared with the previous year. The annual 'big day' event, when people are encouraged to submit sightings during spring migration (this year, on May 8), also set participation records. (more)

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