Category - World News

Nothing Can Stop Us From Hiking!

James Geier’s son Jonah has cerebral palsy and is a quadriplegic, but that wasn’t something James was going to let get in the way of his son experiencing wild adventures.

3. James GeierSo the 60-year-old father fashioned a one-wheeled carrier out of a Dixon Rollerpack, a device created to help hikers carry bags easily, and the Geiers use it to carry Jonah hiking across some of America’s most remarkable landscapes.

“We just have a special relationship with Jonah, my wife and I,” James said. “He’s really kind of a best friend as well as our son. He’s probably the best company that you can have. He has a contagious smile and is himself an inspiration, given all his challenges.”

James explains that he used to carry Jonah in a backpack, but now that he’s modified the rolling carrier, Jonah is able to better enjoy the views, and has Jonah seen some great things! James’ wife Carla said, “I couldn’t even count the number of hikes he’s been on. As soon as the season begins, we go and in the winter we take him cross-country skiing with us in a ski sled.”

It sounds like Jonah isn’t slowing down any time soon!

When Life Gives You Lemons

2. Zack FrancomZack Francom isn’t your ordinary 11-year-old. With wisdom beyond his years, he’s turned a tiny lemonade stand into a philanthropic gesture. He provides wheelchairs for people in developing countries.

Zack originally came up with the idea for Zack’s Shack in 2008 when his school had a fundraiser to buy wheelchairs for LDS Philanthropies, a Mormon church charity.

“I decided that I wanted to raise enough to buy one all by myself. I thought, ‘What if I couldn’t walk or run or ride my bike? What would that be like?’ I wanted to help make life easier for somebody who couldn’t walk or run and didn’t have money for a wheelchair to help them get around,” Zack said.

Zack sells lemonade at just 50 cents a cup and two cookies for $1 during his annual event, and hundreds of people come to his house in support.

This past April, Zack raised enough funds to purchase 37 wheelchairs.

The chairs were shipped to Guatemala, Guam and several other countries.

Zack’s mom Nancy said, “There was one lady in Guatemala who crawled for 10 miles with her baby on her back to pick up her wheelchair. What a dramatic change it has made in her life. Stories like this are what keep Zack going.”

But Zack already has plans to expand. He wants to inspire other children to start similar initiatives.

“Imagine if there were hundreds of Zack’s Shacks. Nobody who needs a wheelchair should have to go without one just because they can’t afford it,” Zack said.

Eventually he hopes to fly around the world and deliver the wheelchairs himself.

Violence Has No Gender

When you hear the term “domestic violence,” you probably picture female victims, but do you know that 40 percent of domestic violence victims in the U.K. are men?

Another statistic says one in six men around the world will experience domestic violence in his lifetime.

DareLondon captured two actors playing out two scenarios in a public park – one in which the man attacked the woman, and one in which the woman attacked the man.

They used hidden cameras to record how strangers responded.

When the male actor begins to physically abuse his partner, passers-by take action. Women surround them and threaten to call the police. It’s relieving to see the huge public response to this atrocity, though it doesn’t erase the fact of the violence.

But when the woman attacked a man, the way people react is unexpected, and pretty disturbing. Nobody helped. Instead, they stood around and laughed. Like they were watching a stand-up comedy show.

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Violence is violence. Regardless of the victim’s gender.

Dresses Made in Distress

3. Woman Found NoteA UK woman says she found an unexpected label sewn into her new Primark dress that read “Forced to work exhausting hours.”

Rebecca Gallagher, Wales, found the label while looking for washing instructions inside a £10 summer dress she bought at Primark, a discount British clothing chain.

“To be honest I’ve never really thought much about how the clothes are made,” she said. “But this really made me think about how we get our cheap fashion. I dread to think that my summer top may be made by some exhausted person toiling away for hours in some sweatshop abroad.”

Unsurprisingly, Gallagher says she won’t ever wear the dress again.

When the news broke, another shopper came forward with a similar claim. Rebecca Jones said that she found another such label in a top she bought at the same Primark store in 2013.

This isn’t the first time someone’s found an unexpected note inside a purchase. An American woman found a Chinese laborer’s letter begging for help in her Saks Fifth Avenue shopping bag.

While it’s unclear whether these labels were sewn in at the factories where they were made, or if they were added later on, the truth is that many garment workers toil in unsafe, uncomfortable conditions for inhumanely long hours every day. In 2009, BBC and The Observer launched an investigation into whether illegal immigrants had been creating their products while making less than minimum wage.

They published the results of the investigation in a programme called “Primark: On the Rack.” The documentary claimed poor working conditions at a factory in India that supplied clothes to Primark, but the BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee later concluded that the information had likely been made up. The BBC apologized to Primark for the allegations.

However in 2013, Primark came back into the spotlight when Rana Plaza, an eight-story Bangladeshi commercial building that housed shops, a bank, apartments and clothing factories, collapsed with thousands of employees inside. After cracks appeared in the building, supervisors ignored an evacuation order, instructing garment workers to come in anyway. The building crumbled to the ground during rush hour the next morning, killing a total of 1,129 people. Over 2,500 more were injured in the disaster.

In the aftermath, Primark paid out more than $12 million to victims of the horrific incident, and the company vowed to inspect their suppliers’ factories to keep them structurally safe for workers and prevent future disasters.

While Primark may have a better track record than some, like the companies who refused to pay for inspections in Bangladeshi factories before the collapse, these findings bring up an important question about the clothing industry, where workers’ rights are often ignored in favour of keeping prices low for both customers and stores.

But what’s the true price tag attached to these “inexpensive” clothes? We need to open our eyes and start paying attention to who’s making our clothes and consider whether they’re being treated like humans – or like slaves.

Stories like this are a sobering reminder that we need to keep asking: How many lives did the shirt you’re wearing cost?

Save The Rainforest With Your Smart Phone!

2. Smart PhonesIllegal logging occurs in forests all around the world, leaving gaping holes where ancient trees once stood. Greenpeace reports that 80 percent of the world’s ancient forests have already been destroyed or degraded because of illegal logging.

But what if your old discarded smart phone could stop the illegal practice altogether?

The Rainforest Connection (RFCx) has come up with a concept to transform used Android smart phones into solar-powered listening devices that would detect signs of distress in the forests and alert authorities.

These devices would be able to discern the sound of chainsaws in real-time, as well as gunshots and animal distress calls – making them an anti-poaching tool as well.

These devices aren’t just effective, they’re also responsible.

The fact that they are made from old phones helps alleviate some of the 150 million phones that are thrown away in the U.S. each year – and the solar panels are made from discarded crystalline silicon fragments.

Plus, a single device protects enough trees to prevent 15,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere when cut down – that’s equivalent to taking 3,000 cars off the road.

The device can pick up a chainsaw from up to half a mile away. Upon picking up a sound of distress, the device transmits an alert to RFCx’s cloud server which sends an SMS message to first responders.

The campaign aims to raise $100,000, making it possible to protect at least 125 to 185 miles of forest in Africa and Brazil.

They are also planning to release a Rainforest Connection mobile app that will allow their backers around the world to listen in on the sounds of the rainforest, so you can check in at any time!

The Graphic Extreme

1. Mortal Kombat XA while ago, technical limitations made it easy to mask some of the more sadistic reaches of the imagination. Today, however, things are different.

Mortal Kombat video games have been violent for ages, having pioneered the art of digital gore years before contemporary titles like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty were even on the minds of video game engineers.

Back then, we thought this to be unspeakable carnage. But it was 1992, and times were simpler. Today, that would hardly get a blush.

Play enough video games and it’ll ruin your posture. But no amount of orthopedic furniture can cure having someone’s fist thrust into your abdomen, breaking your spine in two before doing the same with the rest of your body.

It makes you wonder about the darker side of human nature.

Nobody can say for certain whether or not video games teach kids to be violent. But with brutality enhanced by computer technology’s quickening realism, you’ve got to wonder if the “line” has been crossed once and for all.

The Robin Hood of Twitter

5. Jason BuziOver dinner late one night last month, a handful of wealthy Californian businessmen came up with a groundbreaking idea. Each had made many millions in their fields of technology and property investment, and were looking for ways to give some of it back to their community. A month later, the anonymous group launched their big project Hidden Cash, a scavenger hunt for the modern day, in which they hid money in public places for strangers to find.

The main benefactor started hiding envelopes of cash, usually $100 bills around San Francisco, and posted online clues of their whereabouts to followers of their Twitter account, @HiddenCash. They gave away $2,000 in the first weekend, and quickly gained not only followers but also requests for where to visit next. Having expanded the project to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Mexico City, a total of $20,000 has now been given away.

The mystery man behind the money trail is Jason Buzi, a property investor from the Bay Area. He announced that Hidden Cash planned to expand its treasure hunt to the UK.

Mr. Buzi, 43, who is uncomfortable with being labeled the ‘Robin Hood of Twitter’, made his millions in property development and describes himself as a member of the richest one per cent of Americans. He made half a million dollars on just one house last year, and says he earned “much more than he could have ever expected” on a few more.

Mr. Buzi says he was “by no means wealthy” growing up, and started looking for ways to make money at a young age. At 12, he was buying cookies for $1 from the local supermarket and selling them on to his neighbours for $3. By 19, he owned a car dealership; and when he reached his 20s, he was dealing in diamonds.

“I’ve been entrepreneurial from a young age, but for me being an entrepreneur is about being creative, not greedy,” he says. “Real estate can be a greedy business. There were aspects of my personality – my generosity and creativity – that weren’t coming out [in my day job], and that’s why I started this. If I was in it for the money I would be doing real estate and nothing else. There’s no religious agenda, no political agenda, no business agenda and we’re not promoting or selling anything. People, particularly in the US, have a hard time getting their head around that.”

Not that it’s deterred the treasure hunters. On the morning Buzi visited Chicago, he tweeted the cryptic clue: “What do Life of Pi, Lord of the Flies and Robinson Crusoe all have in common?” The answer – Castaways. Cash-filled envelopes had been hidden along North Avenue Beach, Chicago, next to Castaways Bar and Grill.

Thousands descended on the location and a frenzied rush followed. Those lucky enough to find an envelope also uncovered a hand-written message, asking them to tweet a picture of themselves with their winnings to their Twitter account to share their story. Some kept the money, while others, in the spirit of the scheme’s “paying it forward” ideology, have donated it to charity.

Mr. Buzi admits the giveaways, which range between $40 and $200 (£23 to £117), are not life-changing amounts, but says some of the winners’ stories have touched him. One 14-year-old girl in California who found $200 cried tears of joy as she told her local TV station she was sending it home to her sick grandmother in Mexico to pay for medicine.

His family, whom he describes as “very private people”, has not been thrilled by the attention he has received since being “outed” as Mr. Hidden Cash. The publicity has also meant a lot of personal requests from people in need of money. “I just want to tell people I’m not a billionaire,” he says. “I’m just someone who has done well. I’m not here to solve everyone’s problems. But you get criticised whatever you do. People say, ‘Oh, you’re just a rich Donald Trump guy throwing crumbs to the poor for your own entertainment’ or ask why I’m giving money to middle-class kids with iPhones on Twitter who don’t need it. You can’t win. I just remind them of what it’s all about: we’re looking to brighten up people’s day.”

Family-Friendly Workplace

US-POLITICS-OBAMA-COMMENCEMENTAs President Barack Obama says, “my top priority is rebuilding an economy where everybody who works hard has the chance to get ahead.”

This was the subject of the first White House Summit on Working Families, to bring business leaders and workers together to talk about the challenges that working parents face every day and how the White House can address them.

Issues such as flexibility, paid leave, child care and minimum wage were discussed. Studies show that flexibility makes workers happier and helps companies lower turnover and raise productivity. Many jobs don’t offer adequate leave to care for a new baby or an ailing parent, so workers can’t afford to be there when their families need them the most. Most working families can’t afford thousands a year for childcare, but often, that’s what it costs. Nearly 28 million Americans would benefit if the minimum wage was raised to $10.10. Family leave, childcare, flexibility and a decent wage aren’t frills. They are basic needs. They shouldn’t be bonuses. They should be the bottom line.

Parents who work full-time should earn enough to pay the bills and go to work every day knowing that their kids are in good hands. Workers who give their all should know that if they need some flexibility, they can have it, because their employers understand that it’s hard to be productive when you’ve got a sick kid at home or a childcare crisis. Nearly half of all working parents surveyed say they’ve chosen to turn down a job not because they didn’t want it, but because it would be too hard on their families.

Some businesses are realizing that family-friendly policies are a good business practice, because they help build loyalty and inspire workers to go the extra mile. JetBlue offers a flexible work-from-home plan for its customer-service representatives. Google increased its paid parental leave to five months and the rate of women leaving the company decreased by half. Cisco lets their employees telecommute as needed, which they estimate saves them over $275 million every year.

At this meeting, Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing every agency in the federal government to expand access to flexible work schedules, and giving employees the right to request them. He called on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, because too many pregnant workers are forced to choose between their health and their job. They can get fired for taking too many bathroom breaks, or forced on unpaid leave just for being pregnant. “It’s inhumane, and it needs to stop,” he said.

How To Handle Paparazzi

1. Emma & AndrewIn one slick, subversive move, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone took a paparazzi moment and turned it into an act of kindness. This is the cutest and cleverest way to deal with the paparazzi, ever! Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield, who get followed around a lot, have the perfect plan for hijacking a paparazzi attack – they hold up signs promoting their favourite charities so they can raise awareness.

The couple were eating in a restaurant, and spotted photographers outside. They then emerged with a sign that read “We don’t need the attention, but these organisations do” – before listing Youth Mentoring Connection, Autism Speaks, Worldwide Orphans and Gilda’s Club New York City.

Andrew Garfield does a lot of charitable work – he dressed up as Spiderman to surprise a group of kids at a children’s charity last year, and was photographed teaching autistic children how to surf.

This isn’t the first time the couple have used their fame to raise awareness – they held up signs to the paparazzi advertising children’s cancer charities back in 2012.

Just more reasons to love the two of them, if you ask us!

Happy Birthday, Colin!

5. ColinA young boy who told his mother he had no one to celebrate his birthday with now has over 2,173,596 Facebook friends. Eleven-year-old Colin has a sensory processing disorder similar to Asperger’s syndrome, which affects his social skills and has made it difficult for him to maintain friendships at school.

His mother Jennifer, from south-west Michigan, became determined to make her son’s birthday special after he told her he had no friends to invite to a party on the day.  She reacted by setting up the Facebook page ‘Colin is Eleven’ on 2nd February, which garnered 900,000 likes in less than two weeks. On the page, she invites people to send good wishes to her son for his birthday on 9th March. Her campaign has seen the page inundated by messages from well-wishers across the globe, kindergarten classes in Mexico creating cards for Colin and many sharing their own stories of growing up.

In her first Facebook post, she explained: “I am Colin’s mom, I created this page for my amazing, wonderful, challenging son who is about to turn 11 on March 9th. Because of Colin’s disabilities, social skills are not easy for him, and he often acts out in school, and the other kids don’t like him. So when I asked him if he wanted a party for his birthday, he said there wasn’t a point because he has no friends. Colin eats his lunch alone in the school office every day because no one will let him sit with them, and rather than force someone to be unhappy with his presence, he sits alone in the office.”

So Jennifer thought if she could create a page where people could send him positive thoughts and encouraging words that would be better than any birthday party.

Jennifer has also set up a PO Box specifically for receiving cards and messages for her son’s birthday, which is seeing attention even though his birthday has gone by.

Join Colin’s community!