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Thanks to IKEA, cats at the Etobicoke Humane Society in Toronto, Canada, will now have a comfy spot to sleep. The furniture company donated 10 doll beds to the shelter. IKEA also donated $300, as staff at the Etobicoke store had already been participating in a fundraising campaign and the Etobicoke Humane Society was the selected charity for the furniture store. Some of the shelter's cats took to the doll beds quickly, while at least one cat decided to hide underneath one of the tiny beds. Said Rebecca Gordon, social media manager at the Etobicoke Humane Society, "We are 100 percent donation based, and a lot of the staff treat this like a second full-time job. We can always use more volunteers.”

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Wildflowers are exploding across California's harsh deserts after several years of the worst drought on record. Heavy rains in early 2017 have brought a super bloom (when wildflowers bloom suddenly in the millions) in central and northern California, attracting a horde of tourists wanting to catch a glimpse. Last year, wildflowers overtook Death Valley for the first time in 10 years.

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President Trump, who made his first visit to Wisconsin since elected, spoke this week in the city of Kenosha, which was packed with anti-Trump activists and steadfast supporters. A man suddenly collapsed and was lying on the street when at least three health care professionals rushed over to provide care. Retired nurse Pat Ventura was one of them. “Somebody said, ‘Hey, Pat. Somebody’s on the ground over there.’ I took off running,” said Ventura, who taught nursing for a decade. “His phone was broken, because when he fell that fell out of his pocket, and he told us (his wife’s) name. We found his wife’s name and we called her.” Ventura briefed the man’s wife on his condition and waited with him until emergency crews arrived to transport him to a local hospital, then rejoined a group of anti-Trump protestors. Ana Draa, a former CPR instructor from Libertyville, Ill., also assisted the man. Draa said she spent the morning talking with the man and respected him. “We’re on polar opposite sides of the political fence. I go to Planned Parenthood luncheons and his sign was all about defunding Planned Parenthood,” Draa said. “At the end of the day, he’s God’s child. He’s somebody’s daddy, somebody’s husband, somebody’s father.”

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Leo Kellner from Hastings, Nebraska, lost his wife in 2012 due to complications related to dementia. They had been together for 72 years. “I didn’t know what to do with myself,” Kellner said. “I was moaning and moping, and I said, 'I’ve got to have something to do.'" So Kellner decided to take up baking as a way to give back to the community and honor the legacy of both his mother, from whom he learned how to bake, and his wife. That first year, Kellner made 144 pies for people in need. He has since reached out to local funeral homes and community organizations to let them know he’d like to connect with families having a hard time. Kellner then started reaching out directly to those families, getting to know them, and baking up some treats for those troubled people in their time of need.

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There have been decades of failure in making an artificial blood substitute. But now, scientists from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, and Oxford have isolated and manipulated stem cells in labs to produce red blood cells.Their goal is to make red cells for patients with complex blood types because it can be hard for them to find donors. This synthetic blood is about to go through human trials for the first time! Although there is still a long road ahead for a full-scale rollout of synthetic blood, these developments could possibly change the future of how we save lives. Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood. In the U.S. alone, 41,000 donated pints are needed every day and although an estimated 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10 percent of that eligible population actually do each year.

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Pretty soon you may be able to eat your water. Whaaaat?! Skipping Rocks Lab's has one goal: to make plastic packaging disappear. Their first product, Ooho!, is a sustainable packaging alternative to plastic bottles and cups, made from a seaweed extract. It is entirely biodegradable and so natural you can actually eat it. Said the company, "Our packaging is cheaper than plastic and can encapsulate any beverage including water, soft drinks, spirits, and even cosmetics."

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Pappadvada, a restaurant in Kochi, India, has installed a working fridge outside their restaurant so patrons and hotel staff can leave leftovers for other people in need. Minu Pauline, the owner of this restaurant, said that she got the idea when she saw a woman rummaging through a trash can for food. The fridge is kept open 24/7, so anyone can use it. On a daily basis, Pauline donate 75 to 80 portions of food. She told The Huffington Post, “Money is yours, but resources belong to society. That’s the message I want to send out."

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The Catholic Church has just opened a free laundry service in Rome where the homeless can wash, dry and iron their clothes. The laundromat, which is being called “The Pope’s Laundry,” opened earlier this week and is located inside an old hospital in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood. Those in need will find six new washers and dryers donated by Whirlpool, along with ironing machines and detergent. The Community of St. Egidio, a volunteer lay community based in the city, will manage the laundry. In the next several months, the community plans to add more services for the poor ― including showers, a barber, and medical services.The laundromat was inspired by Pope Francis’ initiative to “give concrete form to charity” at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

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In 2002, two percent of car sales in Norway were EV. By 2015, that number had risen to 22 percent and is continuing to grow. With such continued success, Norway is planning on selling purely electric vehicles by 2025. The country hopes to place a charging station every 31 miles across all major roadways, which could make driving an electric car a more viable option while also solving some of the anxiety that could be making potential customers reluctant to switch to full electric. In addition, there are very low VAT or purchase tax for EVs sold within Norway, as well as free parking in certain cities, access to bus lanes and low road and ferry tolls.

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Japan has officially recognized a same-sex couple as foster parents, marking it a first for the country and signaling a growing recognition of LGBTQ rights in Japan. Recently, the city of Osaka recognized two men, one in his 40s and one in his 30s, as foster parents. A teenage boy has been living under their care since February. "I am happy we became foster parents as a single household, not just as individuals," one of the two men told The Japan Times. The couple were certified as foster parents after the city declared that they "understood the foster care system and had the financial wherewithal to raise a child." The couple had submitted their request to be recognized as foster parents in late 2015. They had to undergo lectures, training, scrutiny and a screening by the city's social welfare panel before they were certified.

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Ifeoma White-Thorpe, a senior and student government president at Morris Hills High School in Rockaway, New Jersey, applied to all eight Ivy League schools — Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Dartmouth and Brown — and got into all of them. She wants to study biology and pursue a career in global health and since all eight universities "have great research facilities," she decided to apply to them all. Students getting into all of the Ivies is an amazing feat, and it has only happened to a handful of teens over the past couple of years; Kwasi Enin in 2014, Harold Ekeh in 2015 and Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna and Kelly Hyles in 2016. Though she hasn't decided where she will matriculate to, White-Thorpe can add another elite college to her list — she also got into Stanford.

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New York will be the first state to make tuition free for some residents at four-year public colleges. Starting this fall, undergraduate students who attend a State University of New York or City University of New York school will be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship if their families earn no more than $100,000 a year. Those eligible will pay nothing for tuition, which costs $6,470 annually at four-year schools and about $4,350 a year at community colleges. After they graduate, students who receive the scholarship must live and work in New York for the same number of years they received funding. Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced the tuition-free plan in January and it was approved by the Assembly as well as the Senate last week. "Today, college is what high school was — it should always be an option even if you can't afford it," stated Cuomo.

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ReTuna Återbruksgalleria is a mall in Sweden entirely dedicated to recycled goods. It's the first mall of its kind in Sweden, and quite possibly, the first in the world. Customers can drop off goods that they no longer need, and then browse for something new. Goods are then sorted into various workshops where they are refurbished or repaired accordingly. The mall also includes a restaurant with lots of organic options, an exhibition area, conference facilities and a training college for studying recycling. Anna Bergström, manager of ReTuna Recycling Galleria, said, "When you leave here, you should feel that you did something good for the environment."

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Dr Ganesh Rakh, an obstetrician in Pune in the western state of Maharashtra, has witnessed countless births of baby girls where the husband and his relatives were so upset that it was not a boy that they screamed, yelled (often at the mother) and complained about the bill. The doctor was so upset by the disparity between the euphoria surrounding the birth of a boy – smiling faces, tips for the nurses – and, wanting to contribute to changing attitudes towards girls, decided to forfeit his fee for the delivery of any baby girl. Apart from not charging any fee, Rakh celebrates the birth of every girl with a cake, candles and roses to make the mother feel special and to shame the scowling relatives into behaving. More than 400 girls have been delivered without the parents being charged a fee. Because of his work, Rakh says that when his office updated the figures recently, a total of 17,000 doctors had pledged to reduce fees, or charge nothing at all, when delivering baby girls. The cultural preference for boys remains entrenched in India. The result has been female foeticide and neglect of baby girls. Said Rakh, "Of course I am losing out financially but how will anything change unless we all do our bit?"

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Students at a Kansas high school newspaper investigated their newly hired principal, only to find discrepancies in her credentials. Amy Robertson was hired as the high school's head principal on March 6. "She was going to be the head of our school, and we wanted be assured that she was qualified and had the proper credentials," stated Trina Paul, a senior and an editor of the 'Booster Redux,' the school newspaper. When the students researched Corllins University, the private university where Robertson said she attained her master's and doctorate degree, the website didn't work. They also found no proof that it was an accredited university. The students did more investigating and discovered several articles referring to Corllins University as a "diploma mill," where people can purchase a degree, diploma or certificates. Soon after the discovery, Robertson resigned. After local news broke what happened, several national journalists tweeted the students' story, congratulating them for their work. 17-year-old Connor Balthazor told 'The Washington Post,' "It was awesome to know that such respected members of the journalism community had our backs."

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The French city of Grenoble became the first European city to totally ban outdoor advertising, replacing over 300 billboards and installments with community notice boards and trees. Currently, bus and public transportation stations will still feature ads until the city’s contract with advertising company JCDecaux ends in 2019. The change came as an election promise of Green party mayor Eric Piolle. “The municipality is taking the choice of freeing public space in Grenoble from advertising to develop areas for public expression,” said Piolle in a statement.

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Katie Blomquist, a teacher at Pepperhill Elementary in North Charleston, South Carlonia, raised more than $80,000 to buy 650 bicycles for every student in her school. Blomquist says she came up with the idea after a student told her that he wanted a bike, but his family couldn't afford one. She began her online fundraising campaign right after Labor Day last year with the hopes of raising $65,000. The campaign grew into a viral sensation and donors to the effort include major corporations and even talk show host Steve Harvey. Blomquist surprised the kids this past week by unveiling bikes in the parking lot of the school.

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Patricia Davies — born Peter — from Leicestershire, England, didn’t decide to transition into a female until she turned 90 years old. But she knew she was a woman since she was just a toddler. “I’ve known I was transgender since I was 3 years old. I knew a girl called Patricia, and I decided I wanted to be known by that name but it didn’t stick,” she said. Davies kept her identity private for most of her life for fear she would be shunned by peers or forced to undergo electric shock treatment. Davies — who served in the British army between April 1945 and 1948 — said coming out as transgender would have categorized her as a homosexual, meaning she wouldn’t have been able to serve in the armed forces. Davies, who married when she was 21, eventually came out to her supportive wife in 1987. Her wife, to whom she was married for 63 years, bought Davies jewelry and dresses that she could wear in private. (Sadly, her wife passed away six years ago.) Davies has begun taking estrogen to move her transition forward and has come out to her community. “It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I was living a lie,” she said.

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The critically endangered Indochinese tiger has been found breeding in a Thai jungle, providing hope for a subspecies that has dwindled over the years. The Department of National Parks of Thailand, the anti-trafficking group Freeland, and Panthera, a wildcat conservation organization, stated that only 221 Indochinese tigers were estimated to remain in just two Asian countries — Thailand and Myanmar. The groups said it had been tracking the tiger population since 1999 and, for the first time last year, camera traps have photographed six cubs from four mothers. These tigers, which once thrived across much of the region, are all but extinct in southern China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and much of Myanmar. The animals have long been poached, as their bones are used in traditional Asian remedies such as “health tonics." Said the group Panthera, "A breeding population here means that the future of this subspecies is less precarious and could potentially even expand — tigers here could disperse and repopulate Cambodia and Laos, where no breeding populations persist.”

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Calling it "a threat to the development and well-being of families," El Salvador has now banned all metals mining, becoming the first country to do so. Some countries have banned strip mining and open-pit techniques, but the bill passed in El Salvador's congress prohibits all underground, aboveground or artisanal mining for metals. In addition to protecting the environment, Ivan Morales, country director for the charity Oxfam in El Salvador, said, "Mining is not an appropriate way to reduce poverty and inequality in this country." The law will also ban the use of toxic cyanide and mercury for mining.
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