5 reasons to smile this week


Andean bear Billie Jean and her cubs are seen on a live National Zoo webcam on Dec. 13. (Smithsonian's National Zoo)

1. New bears born at the zoo, extending an endangered species.

Yes, the two Andean bear cubs entered the world Thursday morning at the National Zoo. Their mom is 6-year-old Billie Jean. The cubs are the only surviving Andean cubs in a North American zoo since Billie Jean’s first cubs, Bernardo and Chaska, were born in 2010. Here’s more.

2. IQ points 6 point higher after we stopped using unleaded gas

Lead messes with the brain’s ability to communicate internally. Since the removal of lead from gasoline in the United States in 1976, there’s been an 80 percent drop in blood lead levels -- and a six-pount gain in children’s IQs, Jalopnik.com reported this week.

3. More liberty (of the vine) in ‘The Free State’

Friday was the first day Marylanders could get wine delivered by Amazon, the Baltimore Sun reported. Maryland is the 13th state to get the service, which is also in the District of Columbia.

4. You may soon be able to get around the world faster.

Tests have been completed on an oxygen-powered jet whose makers purport can travel to the other side of the world in just four hours, PSFK.com reported. We’re not sure when it starts running or how much a ticket would cost, but it’s bound to be less than the recently announced spacetrips to the moon.

5. iPhone5 users can navigate again.

With Google’s launch of a Maps app for the iPhone, frustrated Apple users ditched en masse their troubled “updated’’ Apple Maps. “The instant I downloaded Google Maps, my life started to fix itself,’’ the Post’s Alexandra Petri wrote, perhaps joyously from her iPhone5. “I will never be lost again. Until it runs out of batteries or I lose my Internet connection. Then, I’m screwed.

David Beard is a writer, editor and director of digital content for The Post. He also edits The Optimist, a weekly e-newsletter, and has been a foreign correspondent.

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