The Week in Good News: A ‘Golden Arm,’ Zakouma National Park, the Best Baguette in Paris

Sometimes it seems as if we’re living under a constant barrage of heavy news. But it isn’t all bad out there. This feature is meant to send you into the weekend with a smile, or at least a lighter heart. Want to get The Week in Good News by email? Here’s the sign-up.

Here are seven great things we wrote about this week:

James Harrison, 81, is special — not only because he has given blood every few weeks for 60 years, but because his blood contains a rare antibody necessary for a pioneering medication. Officials say his blood has helped save more than two million babies from a potentially fatal disease.

Despite his distaste for needles, Mr. Harrison has donated in locations across Australia. Last Friday, he made his final donation in Sydney. Medical officials decided that it was time for Mr. Harrison to protect his own health.

Mr. Harrison’s selflessness has been widely praised. He has received the Medal of the Order of Australia for his longtime support of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. Now, researchers are working on a “James in a Jar project,” with the goal of synthetically creating antibodies that match what Mr. Harrison produces naturally.

“Saving one baby is good,” Mr. Harrison said. “Saving two million is hard to get your head around, but if they claim that’s what it is, I’m glad to have done it.”

Thank you, Mr. Harrison. Read more »

Zakouma National Park in Chad has become a rare haven for Africa’s imperiled elephants. Its success is astounding, considering that the elephant population there had been in serious trouble from unchecked poaching.

Thanks to heightened security at the park and the increasing support of surrounding communities, Zakouma hasn’t suffered a confirmed poaching incident since January 2016.

The park’s herd has 500 elephants, one of the largest surviving in Central Africa. It’s also home to Kordofan giraffes, lions, cheetahs, leopards and honey badgers. Six black rhinoceroses were recently flown to Zakouma from South Africa, reuniting the threatened animal with a land it hadn’t roamed in nearly five decades.

The elephant population there is expected to hit the 1,000-animal mark by 2024. Read more »

Perhaps nothing says France more than a long, crusty stick of bread poking from a bicycle basket or paper shopping bag.

So the mastering of that symbol of Frenchness by Mahmoud M’seddi, 27, whose father is from Tunisia, is about more than great baking. At a moment when President Emmanuel Macron is taking a tougher line against immigration, Mr. S’seddi’s triumph challenges the very notion of what it means to be French.

“Look, I grew up here,” he said. “I studied here. I pay my taxes here. It’s true that Tunisia called me, after I won. They’re proud. But the Parisians are proud, too.”

He added that his customers couldn’t stop hugging and kissing him after he won. Read more »

Xia Boyu, a Chinese mountain climber, has tried to scale the world’s highest mountain almost half a dozen times. He ran into avalanches, lost both his feet to frostbite while trying to reach the summit in 1975 and later lost his legs above the knee to lymphoma in 1996.

But Monday morning, he finally achieved his dream.

“Everything is possible,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, a former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. “I have found that disabled climbers work hard and they are very committed. It’s a great example to the world about their success.” Read more »

The W.H.O. announced a sweeping plan that seeks to eradicate the industrially produced edible oil from global food supplies, potentially saving some 10 million lives.

Popularized in the 1950s and once lionized as a healthy alternative to butter and lard, trans fats have been implicated in sudden heart attacks and strokes.

“If the world replaces trans fats, people won’t taste the difference, food won’t cost more, but your heart will know the difference,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the former New York City health commissioner. Read more »

For decades, Georgia State was downtown Atlanta’s rather unremarkable commuter school. Now, using a raft of data-driven experimentation, Georgia State has been reimagined as one of the South’s more innovative engines of social mobility.

The school focuses on retaining low-income students, rather than just enrolling them. And for the last five years, it has awarded more bachelor’s degrees to African-Americans than any other U.S. nonprofit college or university.

Data analysis is used to predict potential academic problems, and the school encourages advisers to swoop into students’ lives at the first sign of trouble.

These innovations have attracted attention from hundreds of colleges worldwide that want to emulate the school’s successes. Read more »

The games were organized by the Parks Department in Brooklyn and on Staten Island this month, and gave older athletes a chance to show off their skills and engage in some friendly (and sometimes rather heated) competition.

James Sloane, who played basketball in Brownsville, Brooklyn, for most of his 68 years, took part in a three-on-three game.

“I’m a gentle, nice guy,” he said, “but once I start playing the game, it’s on. I take no prisoners.”

Gaia Squarci, 29, was there to take photos of the event. She said the competition broadened the way that she looked at the older people around her. Read more »

Our photo of the week

Follow Des Shoe on Twitter: @DesNYT.

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