Humpback whale ‘knew rescuers were trying to help’ when it was saved from fishing nets for a second time

Just a week ago the whale had to be cut free on the Devon shoreline.

And on Saturday it was caught up in whelk pot lines off a fishing vessel, prompting the RNLI to be called in.

Dan Jarvis of British Divers Marine Life Rescue told the BBC: “Fortunately this time it was a much easier operation and with the experience we had from the last time, it was all done and dusted in about an hour.

“The whale was quite exhausted, but they’re very intelligent animals, so I’d like to think it knew we were trying to help and was very cooperative.”

Four jail inmates develop app for prison management, make it to Limca Book of Records


Within the confines of a prison, these four inmates at the Bhondsi Jail, Chandigarh, have developed an app called Phoenix. This prison management software manages transactions at prison canteens, meetings of inmates with visitors, and case history of prisoners, which were otherwise manually managed. This feat also led them into the Limca Book of Records.
The inmates are trail prisoners Rohit Pagare from New Delhi, and Anoop Singh, Balwant Singh, and Ajit Singh from Rewari. The app has been installed in 11 prisons in Harayana. According to a Hindustan Times report, the jail officials said,
The software was initiated by another inmate, Amit Mishra, a software engineer, who was later acquitted. It was during his one-year trial at the Bhondsi Jail that the team of five was formed. After Amit’s release, the other four prisoners took over the charge. The team took a month to implement the project in 11 prisons. Before Amit left the prison, he had installed the software in eight jails in the state.
The inmates, who are not professional computer engineers, learnt programming during their sentence in the jail with the help of Amit. Ever since the implementation, the canteens in the jails have turned cashless. Prisoners have started using biometric accounts to manage their daily expenses.
The report further added that:
“Prisoners expressed their desire to computerise the canteen of the jail and other records with regard to meeting visitors. We cooperated with them, and we are proud that because of the efforts of the prisoners, not only their names, but also the name of Bhondsi Jail have been featured in the Limca Book of Records,” Harender Singh, Superintendent of Bhondsi Jail, said.
Before the Phoenix system was installed, the inmates and visitors had to wait for hours to meet one another. Every such meeting, which was manually managed, has now turned digital. Now, every meeting is registered in the computer, and a direct message is sent to the inmate, cutting the time to 45 minutes from the previous two hours.
With this app, officials can also check the type of crime and other details of inmates. The details of parole and date of completion of their term can also be checked.
Of the four of them, three are serving life sentences and the fourth is serving 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, says a Times of India report. Prison authorities, who seemed overwhelmed by the development, added that such a software would have cost crores, but it was done for free by Mishra and the four others.
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First US 'microcollege' helps single moms become liberal arts graduates


March 29, 2017
Holyoke, Mass.—Coralys Perez was just trying to get her high school diploma. The single mom didn’t expect that less than two years later she would be in college.Back in 2015, determined to forge her own path to financial stability, Ms. Perez, then 19, returned from New York with her one-year-old son to her native Chicopee, Mass.Her first stumble came when she tried enrolling in a high school equivalency exam program. After taking a test, she says the evaluator began asking and saying things that made her uncomfortable: “Was she on medication?” and “This probably isn’t the right place for you.” She tried another place, but the schedule made coordinating child care for her son impossible.Scraping by on welfare, Perez thought she’d exhausted her options. During a routine visit to her counselor at the Department of Transitional Assistance, she met Jenna Sellers, the director of student support services at The Care Center in Holyoke, Mass. When Ms. Sellers told her the center would allow her to earn her high school equivalency degree, find her son day care, and provide them both with transportation, she was amazed. She also was struck by the stark contrast in how they saw her.”They were approachable, they were very friendly. You asked them a question; they knew exactly how to answer it,” she says. Holyoke, Mass. is a former paper mill town in the state’s western half, which has high poverty and a teen pregnancy rate nearly five times the state average. Founded in 1986, The Care Center, which started as a social services provider, also provides free alternative schooling coupled with comprehensive wraparound supports so that roughly 100 young moms like Perez pass their high school equivalency exam (HiSet) each year.Now, it’s enrolling them in college. Last August, The Care Center, in partnership with Bard College, launched the first nationally accredited “microcollege,” a selective two-year liberal arts associate’s degree program that admits a tight-knit cohort of about 20 Care Center high school graduates each semester. The center provides the young mothers with the same supports – including transportation, health care, child care, and counseling – designed to allow them to focus on one thing that will keep them and their children out of poverty: a degree.”Higher education is bending over backward to make special efforts, particularly with disadvantaged populations, to provide them with the support that they need to not only get into college but to successfully complete college,” says Paul Reville, a professor of education at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and former Massachusetts education secretary. “And there are so many issues and such a disproportionate rate of college completion, that a program like this certainly speaks to a need.”It’s an education-first approach to ending poverty that the architects of the microcollege say gives them the best shot at ensuring that the short-term social services they provide translate into long-term upward mobility for the students and their children. More than that, they say, providing a liberal arts education to low-income, single moms breaks pervasive models of thinking about these young women: that they don’t have the intelligence or drive to achieve academically; that their finances are an insurmountable barrier to college access; and that such students are a drain on, rather than contributors to, society.When people say “what people in poverty need is a skill … that really is code for ‘what they really need is to be trained for low-income jobs,’ ” says Anne Teschner, executive director of The Care Center. But “the leading industries around here are insurance, higher ed, and medical … and all of those industries need people who have the skills that you gain through the liberal arts.”Ms. Teschner pitched the idea to Bard after a board member confronted her about the fact that while 75 percent of young moms who obtained their HiSets from The Care Center were attending college, only 15 percent were graduating.Professor Reville says he is a “big fan of liberal arts education,” saying it develops in students an array of skills attractive to employers such as critical thinking and empathy. But he says that, generally, students who earn a certified technical skill as part of their associate’s degree find a job more easily and earn more money. Still, as long as the course work is as rigorous as it is for other Bard students, and strikes a balance between mind-broadening subjects and skills valuable to an employer, the microcollege sounds promising, Reville says.The free microcollege model takes The Care Center’s established social services infrastructure, and then Bard professors teach liberal arts college classes under the same roof. Teschner says the college is currently funded by Pell grants, with a roughly $180,000 shortfall for scholarships and other costs covered by foundations and private donors.
Care Center director of education Ana Rodriguez (l.) and executive director Anne Teschner (r.) discuss the history of the school and microcollege for teen mothers in Ms. Rodriguez’s attic office in Holyoke, Mass, March 7, 2017. The Care Center offers a range of supports to teen mothers and teaches classes that enable them to attain their HiSet, a high school equivalency exam. Last August, the center opened a first-in-the-nation microcollege to allow some of its high school graduates to earn a liberal arts associate’s Kenworthy/The Christian Science Monitor | Caption
The model works because Bard and the Care Center aren’t doubling up on costs, says Max Kenner, founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), the college’s first effort to help nontraditional students succeed.”They’re a social service institution, we’re an educational institution, but by and large we want the same things for our people and to make similar contributions to American life,” Mr. Kenner says. “The Care Center is already paying its electricity bill and its janitors and for the space it has, and … for the social services it provides. Now how do we collaborate to make sure its investment in these young women pays off and lasts over the course of generations?”“[It’s] about spreading the cost and the investment … and through that collaboration, creating a new model for funding higher education in the United States: a tuition-free college opportunity in the United States,” he says.It’s an ambitious goal, but for these young women, the tuition-free part is key. If they were to attend Bard’s Hudson Valley campus in New York this year, tuition and fees alone would be valued at $51,384. Even with the biggest financial aid package Bard offers, the $13,600 price tag would likely be prohibitive. Yet at a time when the earnings gap between college- and non-college educated Americans is at an all-time high, some type of post-high school education is key to escaping poverty.“They actually care,” says Perez about the center’s approach. “They try to do their best to take those problems out of the way so you can actually focus in class.”On a recent Tuesday morning, 10 students, mostly women of color, sit around a U-formation of desks in an attic classroom. They’re joking, enthusiastically asking questions, and moving through the material in Prof. Anne O’Dwyer’s statistics class faster than she can come up with homework for them.“We have each other’s backs,” says Sam Jordan, a mother of two who married as a teenager but has since divorced. Ms. Jordan used to teach at a private preschool, where she earned $10 to $13 per hour. “Also the fact of being able to have this opportunity to come here and get this done … I don’t think I would have been able to if I didn’t have the support here.”  But will this translate into measurable success? With Perez and Jordan’s inaugural cohort about 18 months from graduation, the answer to that question will have to wait.Bard’s earlier program hints there may be promise. Seventeen years ago, it started offering free two- and four-year, full-time liberal arts degree programs to prisoners across New York’s system. Today, it has roughly 300 people enrolled full time across six prisons in the state. Other universities, such as Yale in Connecticut and Washington University in Missouri, have launched similar programs in 16 states.At the core of the model, says Kenner, is the conviction that “unconventional” students can achieve what academics often say is impossible. That conviction comes, he says, from the success stories of BPI alumni. In 2015, a team of three of its inmates beat a team of Harvard undergraduates in a debate. Last year, some BPI alumni earned graduate degrees from Columbia, Yale, and New York University. He says many go back to local communities to work in social services and public health. Perez and Jordan have similar aspirations. The former wants to become a medical assistant in children’s health, and the latter to continue her studies at nearby Westfield State University in social work.The day-to-day push to get these students to the graduation finish line is sometimes an uphill one, says Ms. Sellers, The Care Center’s director of student support services.”It’s a real battle to help students prioritize education because they’re so distracted by appointments, babies, family things, boyfriend things, it’s as if school fits in around those things. So we really hold the line: ‘No, your day starts here,’ ” she says. “School first and that’s what you need to learn about having a career and going to college.””It’s a family culture shift often, just having a career. This is a community where people work low-skilled jobs … so how do you build the educational scaffolding for actually a white-collar career.”Perez, who knows the sting of low expectations, has a message for those who write off people like her:“I just feel like people misunderstand us. And they just see us as lazy people, people who just have kids to get money from the government,” she says. “So, yes, I’ve heard it all, but at the end of the day I see all of these girls, and we’re not lazy people. We want to go somewhere, and it’s frustrating when people who have jobs [are] like ‘hmm …’ and it’s just like, ‘We want to be you right now.’ ”

This maths teacher impresses students with most genius April Fools prank ever

Matthew Weathers decided to take the opportunity of April 1 silliness to show of his technical skills to his students.

The prankster wrote on the white board “by mistake” and proceeded to Google a “solution” to his error. A YouTube video featuring Mr Weathers himself pops up and hilarity ensues.

The online professor attempts to use his sleeve, a cat and cleaning fluid to erase the marker – all to no avail.Finally, it’s a Star Wars light sabre that is thrown “threw the screen” to the classroom teacher that saves the day.

“I’ve done this kind of thing several times,” Mr Weathers told independent.ie.”Readers on Reddit have requested that I do a “behind the scenes” video, so I’ll work on that during Easter Vacation and post that in a couple weeks.”

For the April Fools prank, the class is suitably impressed; take a look at the genius here.

Lindsey Stirling: ‘I overcame anorexia to become a YouTube sensation’

I was always a carefree child, but when I moved from a small town in Arizona to university in Utah, I felt lost. Everyone talked about the ‘freshman fifteen’ – the 15lbs students gain in their first year – and I thought, ‘That’s not going to be me.’

So I started counting calories with my housemate. I was fascinated that if I ate a little less, I’d be a little skinnier. I started cutting back to compensate for occasional indulgences. A bagel for breakfast meant skipping lunch; dessert meant smaller meals the next day.

In my mind, I ‘ate carefully’ and lost weight ‘casually’. But gradually, I started restricting like crazy: carbohydrates and meat became a ‘no go’ but vegetables were ‘safe’. So I’d snack on carrots to fill up – but ate so many my skin turned orange from the beta-carotene.

Human Conditions Improving at a Remarkable Rate


On a number of previous occasions, I have written about the extent of human progress around the world, but the remarkable speed of improvements in the state of humanity should not go unnoticed. To that end, I have looked at some of the most important indicators of human wellbeing, especially in the poor countries, over the last decade (or, when the latest data is not available, ten years prior to the last data point). The results are encouraging and ought to give us reason for 7:00 am
3.14.17 7:00 am
3.07.17 8:50 GDP per capita in real 2010 dollars (2005-2015)
Global: $8,858 → $10,194 or a 15.1 percent Africa (SSA): $1,363 → $1,660 or a 21.8 percent increase
India: $982 → $1,751 or a 78.3 percent increase
China: $2,738 → $6,498 or a 137.3 percent increase
2. Infant mortality (i.e., children under age of 1) per 1,000 live births (2005-2015)
Global: 44.3 → 31.7 or a 28.4 percent decline
SSA: 80 → 56.4 or a 29.5 percent decline
India: 55.8 → 37.9 or a 32.1 percent decline
China: 20.3 → 9.2 or a 54.7 percent decline
3. Life expectancy (2004-2014)
Global: 69 → 71.5 or a 3.6 percent increase
SSA: 52 → 58.6 or a 12.7 percent increase
India: 64.2 → 68 or a 5.9 percent increase
China: 73.4 → 75.8 or a 3.3 percent increase
4. Depth of the food deficit, kilocalories per person per day (2006-2016)*
Global: 129 → 88.4 or a 31.5 percent decline

California family’s missing cat ‘BooBoo’ found in Guelph, Ont.

It’s anyone’s guess how BooBoo the cat travelled more than 3,000 kilometres from California to Canada, but its American owner says she can’t wait to be reunited with her brown tabby, who went missing four years ago.

Ashley Aleman, from Watsonville, Calif., said her mother received a voicemail from a Canadian animal shelter two weeks ago, notifying them that BooBoo had been found alive and well in southern Ontario.

The 21-year-old said the outdoor cat went missing in 2013.

“We have a lot of stray cats around the area, so we were like ‘maybe she wandered off with them,”‘ Aleman said. “And then we finally figured out she was not coming back, so we gave up looking after a while because there was nothing really we could do for her.”

Melissa Stolz of the humane society in Guelph, Ont., said BooBoo was brought in as a stray earlier this month. Staff did a routine scan for a microchip, she said, and found one that led to BooBoo’s owners in California.

“She came in in wonderful condition, she’s been very well taken care of and had no problems at all,” Stolz said. “So, clearly there was someone out there who was taking care of her.”

Stolz said she first thought that the cat’s owners had moved to Canada and forgot to update the microchip information, which she said happens all the time.

“After we discovered the owners are still in California, then we started to wonder what could have happened,” Stolz said. “It could have been that maybe she hitched a ride unintentionally, or maybe she got into a transport truck — that has happened before — and she snuck her way across the border.”

The other possibility, she said, is someone could have found BooBoo as a stray in California and lost her in Canada.

The truth about BooBoo’s adventure may never be known, but Aleman said she’s excited to get her cat back this week.

Aleman’s mother will be flying to Buffalo, N.Y., on Friday to meet with a Canadian animal protection officer who will drive the cat to the border.

When BooBoo is back, Aleman said her family will work to get the cat reacquainted with its old home. Since BooBoo went missing, the family has adopted another cat and they are hoping they will get along.

But one thing is for sure, Aleman said.

“She’ll definitely be an indoor cat this time.”

[Update] Over 2,000 cards delivered to Olivia Enderle for her birthday

Since we aired the story about Olivia Enderle, the little girl who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, the response to help grant her birthday wish has been spread across the nation. She originally had 25 birthday cards, but her goal was 100 cards. Now Olivia has over 2,000 cards.

Believe it or not, more cards are still coming from across the globe like Italy and Japan. Olivia’s mother, Emily Enderle, said she’s just happy the world recognizes how special Olivia is the way she does.

“The UPS guy just had a big smile on his face and he’s just like, “I’m happy I could visit,” she said. Everyone has been happy to be apart of her birthday wish.

“The FedEx guy saw the news story and said he felt special to be the one to deliver her packages,”she added.

Emily said this just shows there are still good people out there.

Meet Florence Rigney, America's Oldest Working Nurse


Before much of Tacoma, Washington wakes up, Florence Rigney, 91, is already out the door.
Placing her coffee in a cup-holder, she drives herself to Tacoma General Hospital, where she has worked as a nurse for more than 70 years.
Known to friends, colleagues, and patients as “SeeSee,” Rigney is believed to be the oldest working registered nurse in America.
“I have something to get up for in the morning,” Rigney told NBC News. “And I do like to be able to interact with patients and give them what comfort and what help I can.”
Her job at Tacoma General requires her to buzz about the surgical suite with the speed and dexterity of someone half — or one third — of her age.
And if you plan on keeping up, you’d better wear comfortable shoes.
Rigney sets up operating rooms to the specifications of the surgeon and the needs of the case, and helps prep patients for surgery.
Colleagues consider her speed and dedication inspiring.
“You can never have a moment where you go, ‘Ugh, I’m too tired,’” hospital technician Greg Foland said. “If you hesitate for even a second she’ll just keep on going.”
Keeping going is a bit of a motto for Rigney, who retired at 67. That lasted six months.
“I always knew that I wanted to come back and work a little bit, but I never realized I’d stay for 25 years,” she said.
When Rigney started nursing, penicillin had just been introduced. The biggest change she’s seen aside from the obvious medical innovations is the duration of patient stays. In the old days, she says, patients could stay for 10 days or longer after surgery. Now most go home in a day or two.
A video celebrating Rigney’s 90th birthday went viral in 2015. At the time, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued a proclamation congratulation the country’s oldest working nurse. News stories followed and still two years later, “SeeSee” is a bit of a celebrity.
“When we have any new residents or new nurse students come in they always say, ‘Is SeeSee working today? Can we see her, can we meet her?’” said nurse manager Cilje Kennedy.
Rigney says she cherishes decades of memories, including names of patients she cared for and thank-you mementos they’ve shared with her. Her 92nd birthday is approaching in May, and while she has reduced her schedule to just two days a week, she admits she will eventually hang up her scrubs for good.
“I just feel very honored that they’ll still let me work,” she said.