After this week's terror attack in Westminster, signs in the London Underground stations which normally post train schedules are now filled with a variety of quotes and "thoughts for the day." Three people died after a man drove a car into pedestrians before attacking a policeman and at least 40 others were injured.The uplifting messages are there to reinforce the fact that Londoners will continue to live their normal, daily lives despite recent events. The sign include the hashtags #LondonIsOpen and #WeAreNotAfraid.
According to a recent United Nations agency report, Norway is the happiest place on Earth, besting neighbor Denmark for the number one position. The World Happiness Report measures "subjective well-being" — how happy the people of a specific country are, and why. It looks at factors including economic strength (measured in GDP per capita), social support, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, and perceived corruption. Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and and Finland round out the top five, while the Central African Republic came in last. The U.S. came in 14th and the United Kingdom took 19th place.
A recent study shows that the retail pharmacy company CVS helped its customers quit smoking by pulling cigarettes off the shelves two years ago. Smokers who purchased cigarettes exclusively at CVS stores were 38 percent less likely to buy tobacco after the national chain stopped selling cigarettes. According to the American Journal of Public Health, cigarette sales dropped one percent (95 million packs) in 13 states in the eight months after CVS quit the tobacco market in September 2014. Dr. Troyen Brennan, CVS Health’s chief medical officer and one of the study’s authors, said, "We think that this research definitely shows that if pharmacies didn’t sell cigarettes, fewer people would smoke, more people would live longer, and fewer people would die."
Sesame Street' will have a new muppet joining the show this April. Her name is Julia, she has orange hair, a toy rabbit...and autism. Said 'Sesame Street' writer Christine Ferraro, "The big discussion right at the start was, 'How do we do this? How do we talk about autism? It's tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism." In the debut episode with Julia, Big Bird tries to talk to her but Julia ignore hims. Confused, Big Bird thinks Julia doesn't like him. Later, when the children play tag, instead of rejecting Julia they create a new game in which they all jump around together. Julia's puppeteer, Stacey Gordon, happens to be the mother of an autistic son. She said the creation of an autistic muppet is "huge."
Twenty-year-old Derek (no last name given), works at an aquarium shop in San Antonio. One day a customer came in with their pet goldfish that was suffering from swim bladder disease, which prevented it from holding itself upright. The disorder was permanent. But rather than telling the customer to just flush the pet down the toilet, Derek came up with a genius solution: a tiny aquatic wheelchair! Derek used airline tubing and placed it around the goldfish. He added valves to the bottom that acted as a chair to keep the fish up, and he included weights to the bottom and used Styrofoam to keep it afloat. The internet has gone appropriately crazy.
For the first time in 273 years, the world’s oldest golfing club will finally allow women to become members. The Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland had been one of the few places who banned women from playing, with the issue failing to pass by a narrow margin during a vote in May 2016. This time, however, the decision to allow female members was passed with 498 votes in favor, resulting in an 80% majority. Said Ivan Khodabakhsh, the Ladies European Tour’s Chief Executive Officer, “Sports reflect the values of the society in which we live and today men and women have equal rights. We believe this should be reflected not only in top level international tournaments but also at club level.”
Ellen and David Caren have developed a device called runangel, a black, watch-like product that can help keep women safe while they run alone. By downloading the free runangel app, setting up a profile, and inviting up to three people to be "guardian angels," a runner is able to alert someone in an emergency by holding down the central button (cellphone required). The device will then emit a high-pitched, 120dB siren which, according to the Carens, is "as loud as a rock concert." The siren will hopefully deter an attacker or alert people nearby to the runner’s presence, while the date, time and whereabouts will be sent via text and email to the runner’s guardians. Ellen Caren stated that her husband David first came up with the idea for runangel after he returned home from a jog. "He was out running and a female runner passed him. He thought nothing of it until a man knocked into him at speed and turned on his tail and ran in the opposite direction," she said. "He realised that the man - who wasn't wearing any jogging gear - was actually in pursuit of the woman until he bumped into David."
At Boca Raton Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida, the "We Dine Together" club consists of students who roam their school's courtyard during lunch looking for students who are eating alone. They then introduce themselves and get to know the students. Denis Estimon, who came to the U.S. from Haiti in the first grade, is one of four students who helped create We Dine Together. Said Estimon, ”It’s not a good feeling, like you're by yourself. And that's something that I don't want anybody to go through.”
An airline passenger woke up to a loud explosion mid-flight from Beijing to Melbourne last month. The woman quickly realized that her battery-operated headphones had caught fire after falling asleep two hours into the flight. "As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face. I just grabbed my face, which caused the headphones to go around my neck." The passenger managed to remove the headphones, which burned her hair and face. Flight attendants reportedly poured water on the headphones, but the battery and cover melted.
According to Chinese media reports, villagers in a rural town in northern China have give up farming to sell yarn online and are now millionaires. Using the shopping platform Taobao, the townspeople of Donggaozhuang, about 3½ hours’ drive from Xingtai in Hebei province, buy wool, turn it into thread and then sell it online. With a population of slightly more than 2,000, the village now boasts a few dozen millionaires since their yarn businesses gained popularity. It all started with a young villager who set up an online store and made 20,000 yuan (US$2,900) in just three months. More villagers followed suit, selling or leasing their farmland to focus on producing yarn.
The Indian government has passed a bill mandating 26 weeks of paid maternity leave for women working in the organized sector. The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and will be for only up to the first two children. For a third child, the leave will remain at 12 weeks. India now stands third in terms of the number of weeks for maternity leave after Canada (50 weeks) and Norway (44 weeks).
The remains of a giant Egyptian statue has been uncovered in a Cairo slum, and is believed to resemble one of the country's most famous rulers. Archaeologists from Egypt and Germany discovered the statue submerged in water and think it most likely depicts Pharaoh Ramses II, the ruler of Egypt 3,000 years ago. Ramses II reigned over the land from 1279 to 1213 B.C., with his 60-year-long-rule being one of the longest in ancient Egypt. If the statue can be restored, it will be erected at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is set to open in 2018.
86-year-old Johnny Jennings has been collecting paper and aluminum products for decades and cashing them in for money. Over the years, he has managed to collect more than $400,000 from his efforts, all of which he has donated to the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home. Jennings also collected pennies. So far, he has saved 24 miles worth of pennies over the years, all of which have been donated to the home. Said Jennings, “I’m just part of the family.”
8th grade teacher Scott Hebert at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Junior High School in Alberta, Canada has revolutionized his science class by turning it into a year-long, role playing adventure. In this unconventional classroom, students are tasked with “liberating their master” and “defeating the Minotaur King” with a series of quests, battles, and treasure hunts. There are no chairs or tables — just painter's tape on the floor marking each group's territory, a series of tents, and castle-themed wall decor. Hebert turned to “gamification" after teaching science the typical way — with lectures and tests — and found his students weren't as engaged as he would have liked. "It has reinvigorated my love of teaching, because every class is unique and different," Hebert stated of the change. As for the kids? What do they think? According to 13-year-old Tanisha McQueen, "I thought science was really boring. (Hebert) makes it fun and it doesn't feel like you're learning. It just feels like you're playing a game."
A new report from UN food and pollution experts debunks the myth that pesticides are essential to feeding a fast-growing, global population. The report is critical of global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of "aggressive, unethical marketing tactics.” The world’s population is set to grow from seven billion today to nine billion in 2050, and the pesticide industry argues that its products are vital in protecting crops and ensuring sufficient food supplies."It is a myth," said Hilal Elver, the UN's special expert on the right to food. "Using more pesticides is [sic] nothing to do with getting rid of hunger."
Chance the Rapper held a press conference earlier this week to announce that he is donating one million dollars to Chicago public schools. The announcement follows his meeting with Illinois governor Bruce Rauner, where they discussed public education and other important issues affecting the city of Chicago and Illinois as a whole. Illinois has one of the most underfunded educational systems in the nation, particularly in Chicago, where they have had to cut teachers, supplies, and after-school programs. Said Chance, "Our kids should not be held hostage because of political positions."
After a generation of students who were familiar with only keyboarding and printing longhand, cursive writing is starting to come back in style in schools across the country. Alabama and Louisiana passed laws in 2016 mandating cursive proficiency in public schools, the latest of 14 states that require cursive. This past fall, New York City schools, the nation's largest public school system, encouraged the teaching of cursive to students entering third grade. New York state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis took her concerns to city education officials after she encountered an 18-year-old at a voter registration event who printed out his name in block letters. "I said to him, 'No, you have to sign here,'" Malliotakis said. "And he said, 'That is my signature. I never learned script.'"
Zimbabwe has banned corporal punishment for children both in school and at home. The ruling comes after a parent complained that her child in grade one, a class for six-year-olds, had deep bruises after a beating by a teacher. Though the constitutional court will have to confirm the judgement, if upheld, it would transform the way parents and teachers have disciplined children for centuries in the southern African country.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor Water Wheel has removed more than one million pounds of garbage from the Jones Falls River since it was launched in 2014. The water current provides power to turn the wheel, which lifts trash and debris from the water and deposits it into a dumpster barge. If there isn't enough water current, a solar panel array provides additional power to keep it running. When the dumpster is full, it's towed away by a boat, and then a new dumpster is put in place. Locals have nicknamed the machine, "Mr. Trash Wheel."
Jana Girdauskas of Toronto, Canada says that, until recently, she never gave much thought about how homeless women deal with their periods. "It's such a mundane and not fun thing for me. It has to be much worse if you're on the streets," she said. The thought of menstruating and having no access to feminine hygiene products is what led her to put together Period Purses, a project where she receives donated purses, fills them with tampons and pads, and then passes them out to the homeless women in her community. Girdauskas, who says she hasn't done anything like this before, admits that talking openly about periods with women who live on the streets is an uncomfortable conversation, but it reminds her of how fortunate she is. "From woman to woman, I get it. We're all just human." she said. Due to the positive feedback, Girdauskas plans to keep the project going until March 10, and is looking into local charities and shelters to see if there is a way to keep the project going.