Points of Progress: ESA plans to clean up space trash, and more

Why We Wrote This

This is more than feel-good news – it's where the world is making concrete progress. A roundup of positive stories to inspire you.

Staff
Countries where the world saw progress, for the March 9, 2020 Monitor Weekly.

1. United States

The law journals at America’s top 16 law schools are, for the first time, all led by women. The increase in female editors-in-chief – all elected through peer vote – comes during what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says is the best time for women in the legal profession. Even so, women account for less than a quarter of law firm equity partners and tenured law professors. Women of color experience even greater gaps in representation. (ZME Science)

Charles Krupa/AP/File
Harvard Law Review is among America’s top law school journals that are currently led by women.

2. Sudan

Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will face trial in the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and genocide. Mr. Bashir’s announced extradition is a product of ongoing peace negotiations between the country’s government and rebel groups in the Darfur region – where more than 300,000 have died during armed conflict since 2003. The ICC first issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Bashir in 2009, and he was ousted from office last April. While the government still has the potential to renege on its commitment to hand over the ex-president, government spokesman Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi says that Sudan is carrying out the will of the people. (BBC)

Burhan Ozbilici/AP/File
Former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir attends a ceremony at Turkey’s Presidential Palace in Ankara on July 9, 2018.

3. China

Beijing committed to reducing the city’s air pollution this year by further regulating greenhouse gas emissions and by increasing the number of electric and hybrid vehicles on the road, lowering Beijing’s reliance on diesel trucks. By continuing an anti-smog campaign begun in 2016, Beijing aims to improve on data released last year that showed improved air quality. The city’s PM2.5 level, a measure of tiny airborne particles, still remains four times higher than the level the World Health Organization considers safe. (Reuters)

Mark Schiefelbein/AP
Smog obscures the Forbidden City in Beijing. The government has committed to reducing the city’s air pollution, among the world’s worst.

4. India

India’s Supreme Court ruled that female army officers are now eligible for permanent commissions, widely seen as an important step toward equality in the country’s armed forces. With women allowed to serve in command roles, men and women will be equal in terms of promotions, ranks, benefits, and pensions. The current system permits women to serve only through the Short Service Commission, a five-year contract with an option to renew but without equal benefits. “The Indian Constitution is based on equality. Denying opportunities to women was against the ethos of the constitution. Now the army will have to frame guidelines that are equal for men and women,” says Lt. Col. Poonam Sangwan. (BBC)

Arun Sankar K/AP/File
Cadets celebrate their graduation from the Indian army’s Officers Training Academy.

5. Guam

Guam has begun its first publicly funded immersion program to preserve CHamoru, a language indigenous to the Mariana Islands. The pilot program is part of a broader effort to preserve CHamoru as the number of native speakers declines, largely due to decades of Spanish colonial and then U.S. military rule. Last year, the National Science Foundation issued a $275,000 grant to document the language; Chief Hurao Academy, a nonprofit on the island, offers different CHamoru immersion programs. Even as the effort to secure funding remains difficult, some hope that the language will revive as Guam experiences renewed interest in its culture and indigenous language. (The Guardian)

Outer space

The European Space Agency selected Swiss startup Clearspace for the first mission to remove man-made debris orbiting Earth. The project kicks off in March with the goal of launching into orbit in 2025. Meanwhile, the ESA is attempting to establish a new market for cleaning up and servicing objects in outer space, as more satellites launch in increasingly large clusters. Around 2,000 live and 3,000 defunct satellites currently orbit the planet, according to ESA estimates. (Bloomberg)

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