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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:14 pm 
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Hogwarts Express rescues stranded family in Scotland
15 October 2017

LONDON (AP) -- As if by magic, the Hogwarts Express has come to the rescue of a stranded family in Scotland.

The train that took Harry Potter to school was played onscreen by the Jacobite steam train , which runs on a remote and scenic route through the Scottish Highlands. On Friday, it made an unscheduled stop to pick up a family of six that was stranded when a storm washed away their canoe.

Jon Cluett, his wife and four children between the ages of 6 and 12 were staying in a lakeside hut on Loch Eilt when they awoke to find their canoe was gone. Faced with walking several miles over boggy ground to get back to the family car, Cluett called police to see if any form of rescue was available. "The policeman said, 'We've arranged for the next train passing to stop for you, and you're not going to believe this but it's the Hogwarts Express steam train. Your kids are going to love it,'" Cluett said Sunday.

Cluett said his children, all Harry Potter fans, were "really excited" by the adventure. "They know the Harry Potter films and they know that are filmed in the Highlands," he said. "But they hadn't put all of that together in their heads until they saw the train."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:06 am 
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British apple boom brings back hundreds of forgotten varieties
By John Vidal
21 October 2017

Britain is enjoying a remarkable apple boom, as hundreds of new community orchards revive lost varieties and contribute to a thriving heritage market.

According to Steve Oram, who is the apple diversity officer at the wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species: “We are adding new orchards to the register all the time. Some are in allotments, others in schools and even housing developments. After the postwar years of neglect and destruction, when 90% of the UK’s orchards were lost and supermarkets sold only a few varieties and imported 70 to 80% of their apples, it is very exciting.”

The Newquay community orchard in Cornwall was started in 2015 with a £66,000 crowdfunding appeal. More than 2,000 trees, including 120 local heritage varieties, have been planted on land donated by the Duchy of Cornwall. “It has been a huge success so far,” says operations manager Natalie Frost. “We have 300 volunteers and employ seven people – we haven’t even had a harvest yet. There’s a huge resurgence of people wanting to engage with nature. We find it is attracting schoolchildren, retirees, people from all parts of the community.”

Other community orchards are proving so popular they are being robbed of their harvest, possibly to supply the fast-growing “craft” cider market. “Two weeks ago … someone got on to one orchard site with a truck and cleared every tree of the pear apple variety,” says David Curry from Plymouth who works with more than 20 community orchards “They left the rest. The pear apple is a lovely juicy, sweet apple. They knew what they were doing.”

The big growers say community orchards have found a niche. “There is a great interest now in growing heritage varieties. We are seeing a lot of small community orchards being planted with 100-odd trees,” says James Simpson, chair of trade body English Apples and Pears and one of Britain’s biggest apple growers. “These are starting to generate fruit and are supplying the growing heritage apple markets.”

Tom Adams, a young orchardist from Weston Rhyn, near Oswestry, Shropshire, who works with the Marcher Apple network of apple enthusiasts, is one of a growing number of apple detectives who are helping to track down and revive varieties of the fruit which were thought to have been lost for good. He cites the case of bright yellow apples found on an old tree in a neglected orchard in south Shropshire. The single tree was an ecological and historical mystery: no one knew when it was planted and there was no mention of it in the national fruit collection of more than 2,200 apple varieties.

“It was probably 100 years old and the only one of its kind left. It was a lost variety. Its DNA was tested and it was shown to be unique,” said Adams. The tree is one of more than 60 “lost” varieties which have been found growing near the Welsh border. After several years of research it was last year identified as a Bringewood pippin, first bred in the early 19th century by horticulturalist Thomas Andrew Knight. All 60 varieties have now been saved.

The Marcher group is part of a burgeoning movement of growers and enthusiasts using old books and modern DNA testing to identify, propagate, and popularise Britain’s wealth of rare apples. Many, like Adams, who grows more than 50 varieties are also selling heritage trees. “They are finding, protecting and naming hundreds of apple varieties,” says Oram. “There are possibly thousands more varieties waiting to be discovered. Many were never recorded by the authorities or commercial growers but were grown by farmers, smallholders and households. We know of 924 varieties being grown which are not registered at Brogdale but there are probably hundreds more. About 300 are cider varieties.”

Some of those found have no names; others are being named after the person or place they were found or what they look like. New names added recently include Halfpenny Green B, Link Wonder, Nancy Crow and Burr Knot.

Sue Clifford, founder of the Common Ground environment group, which launched a movement to save traditional orchards nearly 30 years ago, and came up with the idea of an annual apple day, says apple awareness is now high and a corner may have been turned. “Until quite recently, every farm, country house and suburban garden had its own collection of fruit trees. We lost nearly all these old orchards in the 1970s and 80s. We are in a far better place than we were then, but we were starting at a very low point. It is astonishing how people have picked up the idea of planting small orchards. There is much more planting now, a growing urban and rural movement and a resurgence of interest in ciders. Community orchards are becoming very important to places, and people are rightly proud of them.
Apple Day has become a new harvest festival.

“But supermarkets were always the problem and they still are. Only one in three apples we eat comes from the UK, and they are still selling apples from Australia. They are just not thinking. They could do much better.”

BRITISH BITES
Colwall Quoining

Dessert apple named after a village near Malvern, Worcestershire. It has angular ridges – ‘quoining’ refers to its corners – and crisp, coarse flesh with a sweet, nutty flavour. Green with splashes of red. Available January to October.

Pig’s Nose Pippin

Named after its flattish top, resembling a pig’s snout. It has a sweet and aromatic flavour. Available mid-October.

Byford Wonder

It has yellowish flesh and a sharp and aromatic flavour. Available in October.

Ten Commandments

Red apple ready late September. Its name refers to the 10 red spots that feature around the core – visible when sliced in half.

Brithmawr Forester

A South Wales apple that can be used for cooking, eating fresh or cider. Ready for picking from mid-September.

Source: The Observer UK

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:23 pm 
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What are the odds? Woman claims 2 lottery prizes on same day
November 2, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- She knows how to pick a winner.

Local media report that Kimberly Morris of Wake Forest scratched off two North Carolina lottery tickets on Monday, winning $1 million on one of the tickets and $10,000 with another. Morris thought things were going well when she bought a ticket at a grocery store Monday afternoon and scratched off the $10,000 prize. She went to the lottery headquarters in Raleigh to claim her prize.

On the way home, she stopped and bought another ticket, and bingo! It was worth $1 million. She chose to take the lump sum on the $1 million ticket, which was worth $417,012 after taxes.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:52 pm 
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Archaeologists find buried medieval treasure in French abbey
15 November 2017

PARIS (AP) -- French archaeologists have discovered a medieval treasure on the site of a famous abbey in central France that had remained buried for over eight centuries.

The rare find that included more than 2,000 medieval coins and myriad gold objects was unearthed in September, but only announced late Tuesday by the archaeology team from Lyon University. The treasure also contained 21 gold dinars originating from 12th-century Spain and Morocco, and a gold bejeweled ring.

The team was conducting routine excavations at the Cluny abbey, which was one of medieval Western Europe's largest. Calling it an "exceptional discovery," researcher Anne Baud said that it remains a mystery of history why the treasure was hidden there, and why its owner never managed to dig it back up.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:53 am 
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Woman raises more than $60K for homeless man who helped her
November 22, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A New Jersey woman who was helped by a homeless man after she ran out of gas on an interstate in Philadelphia has raised more than $60,000 for the good Samaritan.

Kate McClure, 27, started the Gofundme.com campaign earlier this month after she said she ran out of gas on Interstate 95 and a homeless man, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., walked a few blocks and bought her some with his last $20. McClure said she didn't have any money to repay him at the time but returned to the road several times to give him cash, clothes and food.

After a few visits, she started the fundraiser with the hopes of using the money toward housing and other expenses for the 34-year-old Bobbitt. "I wish that I could do more for this selfless man, who went out of his way just to help me that day," she wrote on the fundraising page. "Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break. Hopefully with your help I can be the one to give it to him." Donations have poured in, and the fundraiser has shattered its goal of raising $10,000 for Bobbitt. About 2,000 people had given to the campaign by Wednesday evening.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:29 am 
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Teacher raises money to buy entire school Christmas gifts
December 19, 2017

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey teacher has bought Christmas gifts for her entire school using online fundraising donations and says next year will be "bigger and better."

Jennifer Olawski says she was inspired to buy gifts for the students at Community Charter School of Paterson last year after one student told her she wasn't expecting anything for Christmas. The school serves students in kindergarten through fourth grade. School officials tell the Record newspaper 90 percent of students come from families living below the federal poverty level.

Olawski raised $2,500 last year to buy each student an art set. She raised $4,500 this year to give each of the 500 students coloring books, slime kits and winter hats and gloves Monday. She says the effort helps teach kids the act of kindness. Olawski is collecting donations for next year online through GoFundMe.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:58 pm 
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Snatched by hungry eagle, little dog lives to bark the tale
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
January 3, 2018

Felipe Rodriguez says he thought he was hallucinating when an eagle snatched his sister's little white dog from her yard, flapped its massive wings and disappeared over the trees.

Did he really just see that? He had. Zoey the 8-pound bichon frise was gone, taken by a hungry raptor Tuesday afternoon not 50 feet from his sister's house on the banks of the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania, Rodriguez said. "It seemed like something from the 'Wizard of Oz,'" he told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "I'm a city boy. This doesn't happen in my world."

Even more astonishing: Zoey would live to bark the tale. More on that later. But first, let it be said that eagles are quite capable of taking a small dog or a cat. "It has been documented before, but not that often," said Laurie Goodrich, a biologist at nearby Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, a ridgetop preserve that annually records tens of thousands of migrating hawks, eagles and falcons. With food scarce and waterways freezing up, raptors are "looking a little more widely and taking advantage of whatever might be out there," she said.

Rodriguez said he was by himself at his sister's home in Bowmanstown, about 80 miles (128 kilometers) north of Philadelphia, and Zoey was playing in the fenced yard when he heard a loud screech, hurried to the door and looked out. "The bird was holding onto the dog. There was flapping of wings and then it was gone," said Rodriguez, a 50-year-old healthcare executive visiting from Chicago. He drove around the neighborhood looking for the 7-year-old bichon, to no avail. Rodriguez assumed Zoey was gone for good. His sister and her family were devastated when they found out. "I did nothing but cry all day," Monica Newhard said.

Newhard said it's not unusual to see eagles, given her home's proximity to the river. She also suspected they occasionally grabbed one of the rabbits that lived under her shed. But it didn't occur to Newhard that any of her four dogs would be in danger. Heartbroken, she and her husband scoured the woods for Zoey's body. Little did they know their bitty bichon would be found later that afternoon - a full four miles away.

Zoey's rescuer was Christina Hartman, 51, who said she was driving on a snow-covered back road when she spotted a furry white lump ahead and pulled over to investigate. "I notice this little frozen dog, icicles hanging from all over. It could hardly move," Hartman said. She scooped up the whimpering pooch, wrapped her in a blanket and took her home, feeding the dog two bowls of chicken-and-rice soup. Gradually, the bichon warmed up and began to show some spunk. Hartman noticed several small wounds on the back of her neck, and the dog walked with a limp. She had no collar. "This dog belongs to a family, and I'm gonna find out who owns it," Hartman told herself.

It didn't take long. She spotted Newhard's public Facebook post Wednesday morning - Newhard had uploaded a photo of Zoey - and made an excited call. "I said, 'It's a miracle! I have your dog!'"

Zoey had bruises and a few missing patches of fur. It's not clear how far the eagle might have carried the dog, but Rodriguez said he can't believe Zoey survived. "She is not really herself, but she is getting lots of love," his sister, Newhard, texted the AP late Wednesday. "She doesn't want to go out. ... I really can't blame her."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:56 pm 
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After two-year wait, Uganda gets its new cancer machine
19 January 2018

KAMPALA (AFP) - Uganda's only radiotherapy machine was officially replaced Friday, nearly two years after the previous one broke down, giving hope to cancer patients who had been denied a crucial tool against the disease.

The failure of the old machine in March 2016 caused a public outcry and was seen as symbolising the deterioration of Uganda's medical services. Since 1995, Mulago Hospital in Kampala had become a hub for treating cancer patients across east Africa, many of them coming from countries lacking radiotherapy equipment.

On Friday, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said the new $815,000 (664,000-euro) Cobalt-60 machine, housed in a concrete bunker at the hospital, was part of a "vision of becoming the East African centre of excellence in the management of oncology." Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which helped install the new machine, said Friday's commissioning was a "major cause of celebration". The agency and the Ugandan government each paid half of the cost of the machine. "In 28 countries in Africa there is no cancer machine. (Patients) cannot be diagnosed and they cannot be treated," said Amano.

Dr Jackson Orem, director of the Uganda Cancer Institute, told AFP that about 5,000 cases are referred to the institute each year. Many patients show up with cancer that is already at an advanced stage. The new machine is capable of treating up to 120 people a day.

Source: AFP

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