I tend to write about Christmas items on our sister site Joy of Christmas, but as this is one of those events that for politically correct reasons is labeled “Winterfest”, I rather post about it here at Good News Blog.
The Las Vegas Arts & Entertainment committee of the Henderson Department of Cultural Arts and Tourism continually organizes some of the best events but always outdoes itself around Christmas time (or should I say “winter” time?).
According to their Las Vegas special events calendar the Christmas parade, the Winterfest parade for reasons explained above, will be held December 13, 2008.
The theme of this year’s parade is “Toys on Parade”.
What turns this into a good news item is affected the US Marine Corps, grand marshal of the parade, will be collecting for toys for tots.
Bonus item: apparently organized by another committee, Nevada Entertainment & Events (?), there is also a gingerbread house contest! I’m not a big fan of eating these anymore, and my doctor was simply shoot me for doing so, but I love how they look; they’re just really part of the traditional Christmas feeling (ooops, I mean “Winterfest” feeling…)
The gingerbread houses will be on display December 12 and Saturday December 13.
Don’t forget that you can win some really nice prices in either event and that the Christmas parade is still looking for sponsors.
See the rules and entry form for the gingerbread house contest here, the one for sponsorship of the parade here, and enter into the parade (and win prizes up to $1000) via this page.
Henderson Christmas images courtesy of roadsidepictures
Magic Bus’ gala dinner at the Dorchester Hotel in London has, together with the fund raising auction, raised 200 thousand pound (USD $350 thousand).
The money will benefit poor street children in India, particularly those in Mumbai.
The coming year Magic Bus will reach more than 150 thousand children. Already in the past 10 years of the charity’s existence they’ve directly changed the lives of more than 30 thousand children.
New programs will be started for Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and rural Maharashtra.
Together with the recently launched MUM Awards/a>, the UK is on a good and helpful road.
As part of the fire prevention program the Stratford fire department spent a day at a school teaching “stop drop and roll”, the importance of testing smoke detectors, and how to escape a fire.
That evening Emily, five, was quiet when her father tugged her in bed.
When he inquired as to her silence she started explaining her day at school and the conversation developed.
“Daddy, do we have smoke detectors?” she asked.
“We do,” he said.
“We need to test them. The firemen said so,” Emily said.
“We’ll do it in the morning,” he said. “It’s time to go to sleep.”
“No, Daddy, now. Please?” she pleaded. “We have to.”
So holding her in his arm he carried her into the hall way and tested the first detector: he pushed the test button and nothing happened. Tried again nothing.
The other new batteries that they have in the house and while Emily was watching change the batteries of the smoke detectors.
Emily, her big dog Jack, enter Winny went to sleep peacefully.
That night the family and the animals fled the fiercely burning house, having been awakened by shrill siren sound of the smoke detector.
It was only two weeks later that Fire Marshall Tom Velky learned about Emily’s role in the family’s survival.
“Her persistence undoubtedly saved her family from probable, serious burn injury and possibly death.
She’s a hero.
In a surprise award ceremony Emily last week received a “State of Connecticut Honorary Service” medal from the Stratford fire Department. It’s only the second time ever that such a metal had been given to a nonmember of the fire department.
In the UK too it’s not too hard to find the good kids, the good people.
This week students from the Faraday house of the Philip Morant School in Colchester have been raising money for charity by all means possible.
First they selected a bunch of good causes, among which Cancer Research. Then they came up with activities to support those; a car wash, a pupils versus staff football march and a charity concert.
In one case 11 of them even made the almost ultimate sacrifice: they shaved their head. Fun? Yes. Embarrassing? A bit, maybe. But they did raise almost $800 with it.
Others avoided the bus and opted for sponsored walks to school which for some meant a 32 mile walk. That marathon walk brought in another $700.
All together they raised well over $4000 in one week. For charity.
Good kids: they’re everywhere.
Technology is everything these days…
A British sailor and his Belgian friend who got in trouble in off the coast of Spain were rescued after the wife of one of them raised the alarm in London.
The long other and his Belgian friends left from the island of Mallorca to go to Spain.
Her husband would call in right away at the end of the 22 hour trip. So, when she hadn’t heard of from him after 24 hours she called for help.
She dialed 999 (the British 911) and explained them what was her concern.
Emergency line in turn put her in touch with the British coast guard. They in turn alerted the international Coast Guard liaison office. And fire them a message was relayed to the Spanish Coast Guard.
An air and sea search was launched and the pair was found and picked up after about three days.
The maritime rescue center in Mallorca, talking to Spanish reporters, called the rescue Americo, especially since if the wife had to notify anybody no one would have known these people were in trouble.
“It’s a miracle they have been found. The last contact anyone had with them was on Wednesday night when they spoke to their relatives to say they had hit high seas and the boat was rolling and pitching.
One of the lessons is that if you have any concerns about anyone anywhere at sea then tell the authorities and something can be done no matter where you are.”
— Miguel Chicon, director of the Maritime Rescue Centre in Palma
In Pittsburgh two workers were rescued. They had been trapped in an air shaft above the Liberty tunnels.
After having worked in an air shaft above the tunnels they were about to end their shift at five in the morning. But when they tried to come up the motorized lift stopped. They were trapped…
“There was an equipment failure on their part. It wasn’t anything they had done.
It was easier to bring them back up to the opening they went in than to take them down to the roadway inside the tunnel.
It’s a slightly unique situation there, and hopefully something we won’t see happen again.”
— Chief Stephen Carlson, Pittsburgh Fire Department
The place where they were trapped is 250 feet above the roadway and 60 feet below the top of the mountain.
Using a safety harness emergency workers were able to rescue the two.
Neither one was injured.
The coast guard has rescued two boaters missing since Saturday.
The boat of the two men broke down near the Bahamas this weekend. They had been fishing with a couple of other boats.
They spent four days floating around in a skiff. The skiff had lifejackets, food and flares.
Finally on Wednesday a helicopter located the men and rescued them near Andros Island.
A Chicago mother rescued her 2 children early Monday.
Fire had broken out at the 2nd floor of the building. An automatic fire alarm “called in” the fire.
The fire was extinguished within half an hour but before fire crews could arrive the mother ran into the back of the building to rescue her two children.
Although the fire is under investigation there’s no suspicion of wrong doing.
The sad part is that the house in which the couple lived for over 40 years is a total loss. It’s burned down to the ground.
The good thing is that the couple living in the house survived to tell the tale.
Around 1AM in the middle of the night a fire, the cause of which is still under investigation, broke out in the single-story house in Watsonville.
The couple, who are said to be 100 and 80, was able to escape from their bedroom and flee to the garage. There they were trapped, unable to open the garage door.
Concerned neighbors came to their rescue, got them out and alerted the fire brigade.
As the flames made it into the surrounding wildland it took 7 fire engines well over 2 hour to contain the fire.
The couple are said to be in good condition.
Huston’s life story doesn’t begin in Buffalo, Minnesota.
He and his wife Kerry lived there and grew up there. But Huston is from Korea.
His biological father was an American soldier.
His father was to die later on in the Vietnam War.
His mother, too poor to raise him by herself, decided to give him up for adoption.
In 1971 he was adopted by a family living in Minnesota. Two Korean adoptees not really a surprise: Minnesota is the one place in the world with the most Korean adoptees. There are more than 13,000 Korean adoptees.
In the USA Minnesota is considered as one of the most progress states for adoptions.
Helped by an understanding teacher, Huston soon took his place in society.
But once he had Mary and he held his own daughter for the first time he realized what his mother must have gone through to give up her only child.
He started to look for his mother.
For 10 years this was without any success.
But then he appeared on a popular Korean television show.
It’s the format over reality TV show where Korean adoptees give their story in the hope that their parents are watching.
Huston appeared via a WebCam. Seven days later his birth mother was found.
In October he appeared again via Web cam on the television show and they were reunited, seeing each other again for the first time in 37 years.
This December they will be reunited in person.
In 1941 in a fierce firefight in Libya, Harry’s tank was destroyed by a direct hit.
Once the site of the wreckage could be inspected the body was found…
Everybody thought Harry Finlayson was dead; a military funeral was held for the loss of the brave soldier and his wife was awarded a widow’s pension.
Sgt. Gerry Solomon was among the grieving. He was a good friend of Harry.
Gerry was stunned then to read an account written by Harry’s daughter in the military magazine stating that the demise of her father was greatly exaggerated. Her father was very much alive.
Harry and Gary have been put in touch with each other. They hardly recognize each other after all these years.
”’We were great friends in the desert and I had a photograph of him and I by the pyramids. We chatted for one and half hours. Oh yes, he was surprised – he said, “I thought you were dead!”
As it turned out Harry’s radio equipment had broken down in mystical for retreat and kept on fighting until his equipment gave up and he and his three comrades were captured.
”’The driver said we were running out of petrol so I said: “There’s our lines, go like mad’
‘But one of their tanks hit my tank and blew the engine right out of it and we were surrounded by Germans, so I was taken prisoner.”
He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war.
Computers were once thought to be a clean technology. Everything virtual! No more paper!
That turned out to be an illusion. Computers produce some of the most toxic waste.
But that’s all about to change with the introduction of the world’s first completely biodegradable computer. Yes, you read that right: biodegradable.
The computer is made from wood panels which have been manufactured from waste products from the lumber industry.
The panels themselves have been impregnated with seeds. This means that once the computer reaches the end of its lifecycle it can be planted so that new trees will grow!
”One advantage of Iameco is that when the components are buried in landfill the wood gets wet, breaks down and new plants begin to grow from old computers.
There’s no mercury, lead or plastic in the machine, and it has three times the lifespan of other computers.”
It’s about $250 more expensive than a regular computer and runs any software.
A mother in British Columbia, Canada, has donated an ovary to her twin sister.
It’s a remarkable gift of life in this November 11 or sister made medical history by giving birth to a baby produced with the egg of her sister’s transplanted ovary.
Born circa nine years ago in Hamburg, Germany, only Tilly was able to conceive naturally. Tilly is the mother of two children; Johanna and Lars.
Her sister, suffering from osteoporosis, given up the hope of bearing children.
Groundbreaking work in fertility Center of St. Louis, Missouri, made an ovary transplant possible.
“The doctor told my sister, ‘You and your twin sisters are ideal candidates for this surgery.’
My major driving factor was to help her.
After the surgery, it was kind of weird knowing that part of me was travelling overseas.
It’s the gift of life. My sister is super-happy. It’s just amazing the attention she’s getting from around the world. It gives a whole new meaning to Remembrance Day.”
— Tilly Buscher
Even then the chance of conceiving was considered to be very small.
The birth of the girl has been a miraculous result no one dared to hope for and has made headlines worldwide.
In what can only be described as a miracle mammoths could soon be roaming the earth again.
This is because researchers have been able to reconstruct the complete DNA of amendments. This is a world breakthrough. Similar DNA reconstruction is now possible for disappeared species such as the dodo and Neanderthal man.
The scientists believe that that is possible to implement the reconstructed DNA into the egg of an African elephant; the closest relative to the moments. This will effectively resurrect the species that died out more than 4500 years ago.
“By deciphering this genome we could, in theory, generate data that one day may help other researchers to bring the woolly mammoth back to life by inserting the uniquely mammoth DNA sequences into the genome of the modern-day elephant.
This would allow scientists to retrieve the genetic information that was believed to have been lost when the mammoth died out, as well as to bring back an extinct species that modern humans have missed meeting by only a few thousand years.
Our dataset is 100 times more extensive than any other published dataset for an extinct species, demonstrating that ancient DNA studies can be brought up to the same level as modern genome projects.”
— Professor Schuster
“This would allow scientists to retrieve the genetic information that was believed to have been lost when the mammoth died out, as well as to bring back an extinct species that modern humans have missed meeting by only a few thousand years
Scientists at Pennsylvania State University were able to reconstruct the DNA after extracting some DNA from the hairs of two mammoths which had been buried in snow for more than 20,000 years.
Although the extreme cold has helped preserve most of the DNA, the passage of time damaged part of it.
By comparing the DNA with the DNA of the close relative the African elephant, the 99.7% match, they were able to fill in the gaps.
Doctors from the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in Delhi have cured a three year old girl from a rare disease which prevented her from leading a normal life.
Fatima suffered from Crigler Najjar Syndrome (CNS), a rare and fatal liver disease.
Her only means of staying alive was phototherapy. Undressed she would be exposed to specific wavelengths of light for 10-16 hours a day, every day.
Dr Subhash Gupta (liver transplant expert) and Dr Anupam Sibal (paediatrician) transplanted a part of Fatima’s father’s liver. That has brought the bilirubin level to normal heights.
“Very high levels of bilirubin can cause permanent brain damage. The main therapy for patients with this disease is phototherapy. Greater the surface area of the body that is exposed to light and greater the intensity of light falling on the skin, higher is the efficacy of phototherapy.
Fatima was living in agony, spending 10 to 14 hours every day under phototherapy since birth. This was severely restricting her lifestyle. Even travelling and vacations were a great problem.
Since the defect was with the liver, we decided to transplant part of the healthy liver of Fatima’s father into her. She will not require any more phototherapy. She will only have to be on medicines all her life, the dosages of which will lessen as she ages.
Both Fatima and her father are doing well. Her eyes and skin are no more yellow in colour.”
— Dr Gupta
Cured, Fatima has returned to her family in the Middle East and can start a normal life.
Hopes are mounting that a species fighting against extinction might be saved.
In Taiwan a 26 year old elephant has become pregnant after having received IVF treatment.
Phang Sao receives special care from the vets in the Mae Sa elephant camp to avoid a miscarriage.
”We will take care of Phang Sao extensively until she is due to deliver her baby, which will be around August or September of next year.
We feed her as much as she wants and we look after her health, giving her our best care
Elephants are pregnant for a 22 months. Phang Sao is expected to give birth August or September 2009.
Meagan was babysitting 2 year old Hannah this Friday and at one point had to use the bathroom.
“While I was in the bathroom, Willie (the parrot) started screaming like I’d never heard him scream before and he started flapping his wings.
Then he started saying ‘mama baby’ over and over and over again until I came out and looked at Hannah and Hannah’s face was turning blue because she was choking on her pop tart.
If (Willie) wouldn’t have warned me, I probably wouldn’t have come out of the bathroom in time because she was already turning blue, her lips were blue and everything.”
— Meagan, babysitter
Meagan was able to successfully perform the Heimlich maneuver on Hannah. The combined actions of Willie and Meagan saved her life.
“If anything happened to her, I don’t know what I would do.
I’m very grateful for the both of them because they both saved her.”
— Samantha Kuusk, Hannah’s mother
Willie normally says some semi-rude words and things like ‘I love you’, ‘mama’ and ‘step up’.
Willie is a quaker parrot, illegal to keep as pets in most US states.
Jo-Jo was lost from her home in White Castle after Gustav damaged his cage.
Apart from being a rare and expensive African Grey Parrot, Jo-Jo is also a “medical” parrot. Kathy Hendrick, a speech therapist and her owner, taught her two languages and Jo-Jo used that skill to hep stroke patients to learn how to speak again.
Jo-Jo is 5 years old and speaks both English and Spanish.
Neighbors spotted Jo-Jo a few blocks away. Volunteers tried to capture her but to no avail. Kathy was called and tried to lure Jo-Jo with another parrot, her brother, but that too didn’t work. Nor was she able to get any professional help.
“And I’ll tell you what; LSU didn’t help me, fire department wouldn’t help me, animal control wouldn’t help me, police department, my neighbors wouldn’t help me, but these precious people came out of their homes for nothing to help me.
My patients would sure miss him, so would I.”
— Kahty Hendrick
Finally a man dressed in an orange vest returned her her bird but before she could take down his name he was gone already