Equality “I cried when I heard the news,” says Saudi activist Manal al-Sharif, referring to the royal decree that women would finally be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia from next month [June].
Until now, only men have been able to hold licenses in the kingdom, and women who drove in public risked arrest, a fine or even jail. Al-Sharif herself spent nine days in prison in 2011 after being charged with “driving while female.”
Since the ground-breaking announcement last September, the race has been on to recruit the first female taxi drivers. Ride-hailing company Careem is running training sessions for Saudi women who have already acquired valid driver’s licenses while abroad. And the company says it will hire 10,000 female chauffeurs to drive other women and families.
“This is a rite of passage for women,” says Sarah Algwaiz, director of Careem’s women chauffeurs program. “For women to drive their own cars signals autonomy, mobility, and financial independence.”
Meanwhile, the kingdom’s first-ever car showroom for women has opened in the seaport of Jeddah.
Paris’s Sparkling Future
Environment Take a sip from a drinking fountain in Paris and you may be surprised to discover that you’re enjoying sparkling water. The city has begun providing carbonated water at some of its 1,000 public fountains so as to encourage people to drink tap water rather than buy the environmentally unfriendly bottled version.
“We want to push people to change their habits and trust that water from a public tap is good-quality water,” says deputy mayor Célia Blauel. “Drinking is like a political act: you’re doing something for you, for your health, but also for the planet.” She adds that when a family of four switches from bottled to tap water, it means more than five fewer kilograms of plastic waste a year.
In a similar move, London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to roll out water fountains and bottle-refill stations across the U.K. capital.
Into the Nano-World
Science The world’s most powerful X-ray laser has begun operation in a 3.4-kilometer tunnel below Hamburg in Germany.
“We can look deep into the world of atoms and molecules, and study things we didn’t previously know—for example, what molecules do in a chemical reaction,” says Johanna Wanka, Germany’s education and research minister.
Sailor saves cook from watery grave
Heroes It was 10 p.m., and as the cargo ship MS Prima Donna made its way from Cologne to Finland, a voice cried out: “Man overboard!” The vessel’s cook had fallen into the water.
When 28-year-old first mate Anton Tasanen saw that the man was unconscious and floating face down, he took off his jacket, trousers and shoes and leaped after him. Using a rope, he was able to secure him, and the pair were winched to safety. In the process, he fractured several ribs, but the cook’s life was saved.
It was only when he looked back on what had happened that he thought about the danger. “I was just thinking about that guy,” says Tasanen, who lives in Turku on Finland’s south-west coast. “When I heard that he woke up at the hospital, it was a big relief.”
Sources: Equality—Daily Mail, 12.10.17. Environment—NPR, 1.12.17; The Guardian, 4.12.17. Science—The Local (Germany), 2.9.17. Heroes—imrfhero.org