The app lending eyes to the blind

(CNN)Two years ago South African Chris Venter lost his eyesight from a virus he contracted while travelling.

A former chef, he was determined to keep cooking. To do so, he’s had to relearn how to navigate a kitchen and even how to chop onions. If he wants to pour milk, he has a device that beeps when the glass is nearly full.
But there are still obstacles, like seeing the color of the onion, or the milk’s expiration date.
Enter a new app, BeSpecular, which connects Venter to volunteers around the world who want to lend their eyes to the blind.
“The first time I used it I was about to chop an onion and I was uncertain if it was a white or red onion that I’d taken, so I snapped a picture,” the 43-year-old blogger said.


From Japan to Finland to Mexico, BeSpecular has users in over 50 countries worldwide, according to the company.
Next up for BeSpecular is translating the app into other languages and launching a business software — currently being tested by a number of companies in South Africa — that aims to raise awareness of disability in the workplace in Africa, where there is still social stigma around blindness, Cowper says.
“We are hoping to break down those barriers and get people talking.”

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Eleven states sue over Obama administration’s transgender directive | Fox News

Texas and 10 other states filed suit Wednesday against the Obama administration over its directive on transgender student access to public school facilities, firing the first shot in what is likely to be a protracted and messy legal battle over that guidance.

The suit was filed in a Texas federal court in response to the directive handed down to schools earlier this month that said transgender students should be able to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the lawsuit at a Wednesday news conference, saying the directives represent an attempt by the administration to rewrite the law.

This represents just the latest example of the current administrations attempts to accomplish by executive fiat what they couldnt accomplish through the democratic process in Congress,” Paxton said.

Joining Texas in the suit were: Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona’s Department of Education, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia.

Defendants have conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights, the lawsuit says.

Conservative states had vowed to defy the federal directive, calling it a threat to the safety of students. Texas’ lieutenant governor has previously said the state is willing to forfeit $10 billion in federal education dollars rather than comply.

“President Obama has excluded the voice of the people. We stand today to ensure those voices are heard,” Paxton said.

The directive from the U.S. Justice and Education departments represents an escalation in the fast-moving dispute over what is becoming the civil rights issue of the day.

While the letter does not have the force of law, it does warn that schools that do not abide by the administrations interpretation of civil rights under the Title IX law may face lawsuits or loss of federal aid.

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement when the guidlines were announced earlier this month.

The guidance was issued after the Justice Department and North Carolina sued each other over a state law that requires transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate. The law applies to schools and many other places.

Supporters say such measures are needed to protect women and children from sexual predators, while the Justice Department and others argue the threat is practically nonexistent and the law discriminatory.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Bees chase car for 2 days to rescue queen

(CNN)This is the story of a ferocious army determined to rescue their queen from a metal fortress.

Or, viewed another way, a swarm of bees who, for two days, followed their queen bee trapped inside a Mitsubishi Outlander.
Either way, it makes for a good tale.
The Outlander belongs to Carol Howarth, a 68-year-old grandmother, who had no idea she’d picked up a tiny winged passenger when she visited a nature reserve.
Later, when she stopped to go shopping in Haverfordwest, West Wales, the bees descended – thousands and thousands of them.
We’ll let local ranger Tom Moses take it from here.
Moses, who works as a Pembrokeshire Coast National Park ranger, was driving by when he happened upon the raid.
“Driving through town noticed this going on outside the Lower Three Crowns and couldn’t resist getting involved!” he wrote in a pun-filled post on his Facebook page. (Headline: Bee-rilliant swarm.)
He was worried someone might do something “stupid.”
Bees are already dying from habitat loss and terrible farming practices, like pesticide use, he figured. The last thing you want is someone to pour boiling water on them to shoo them away from a car.
So, he called in reinforcements — the intrepid folks at the Pembrokeshire Beekeepers Association
They gingerly nudged the bees into a box. Not so gingerly though. There were several stinging incidents like the “drunk bloke from pub went and swept a load of bees off car with hand looking for queen, got stung loads pfffft…..”
You’d think that would be the end of the story, but you’d be wrong.
The next morning, Howarth found the bees were back, she told The Telegraph.
So once again, out came the beekeepers.
By 6 p.m., her Outlander was free of the bees. (No word though on what happened to the queen.)
Moses says members of colonies often follow their queen bee if she moves hives.
And queens moves hives if the hives are disturbed — say, by humans. Or by the arrival of another queen bee.
He speculates the shiny warm Mitsubishi might have seemed like a good option for a new home.

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I Thought It Was Over For This Guy Until He Pulls Off This Amazing KO. DAMN!

Fighting has continued to evolve since back before even boxing was big, and these days we get to see some ridiculous (and some fairly boring) fights.

People from all across the globe train so they can battle it out with their fists and their kicks in a ring or arena, some right inside your favorite bar! It’s an ages-old profession and likely will continue to be one in some form or another in the future, but for now I guess we’ll make due with what we’ve got.

This pair of fighters is a great example of the awesome moves we get to see in fights today, we’ve aptly named them Red and Blue. As the video starts you’ll see Blue is on the ropes, and it looks like things aren’t going to be working out in his favor… but he has the Warriors spirit! Seriously though, it’s a pretty crazy knockout and the only one of it’s kind I’ve seen performed in such a quickness, the guy can fight!

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GOP Congressman Says He Uses Medical Marijuana To Ease Arthritis Pain

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a leading voice for the reform of marijuana laws in the United States, became the first sitting member of Congress in recent history to admit to medical marijuana use.

Rohrabacher, speaking to a group of cannabis activists on Tuesday on Capital Hill, said he has been an avid surfer for about three decades but had not been able to enjoy the sport for about a year and a half due to arthritis pain he’s developed in his shoulder. The pain became so severe that it has disrupted his sleep, the lawmaker said.

That is, until he tried medical marijuana.

“I went to one of these hempfests or something like that they had in San Bernardino,” Rohrabacher said, as first reported by Russ Belville at Cannabis Radio.

At the hemp festival, he met a vendor who introduced him to a cannabis-infused topical rub.

“This guy was showing me the medical things and all that, and he says, ‘You should try this.’ And it’s a candle and you light the candle, and the wax is in there and it melts down, and then you rub it on whatever you’ve got problems with,” the Republican congressman said.

He finally tried the product a couple of weeks ago, and that was “the first time in a year and a half that I had a decent night’s sleep because the arthritis pain is gone.”

The attendees cheered his comments.

Rohrabacher, a vocal supporter for reform of the nation’s marijuana laws, is one of the main sponsors of a measure that blocked the Department of Justice from using funds to target and prosecute medical marijuana patients or businesses who are operating legal in their state. The amendment has been reauthorized for the past two fiscal years.

“Now don’t tell anybody I broke the law, they’ll bust down my door and take whatever’s inside and use it as evidence against me, whatever it is,” Rohrabacher said. “The bottom line is, there’s definitely cannabis in there and it makes sure that I can sleep now.”

Listen to Rohrabacher’s full remarks at Cannabis Radio.

This was the first time Rohrabacher has spoken publicly about using medical cannabis, his press secretary Ken Grubbs told The Huffington Post.

It was also the first time in recent history that a sitting congressman admitted to using medical marijuana, said Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell.

“Putting a face on the people who use marijuana will help immensely in the battle to end criminalization and other forms of harmful discrimination,” Angell added. “It’s now going to be much harder for members of Congress, particularly those in the GOP caucus, to vote against medical marijuana, since they now know that one of their friends and colleagues is directly benefiting from it.”

California, along with 23 other states and the District of Columbia, has legalized medical marijuana. This year, voters in four more states are expected to consider doing the same via ballot initiative. Attitudes toward the plant and strict prohibition policies have rapidly shifted in recent years. An April CBS News poll found that 90 percent of Americans support the use of marijuana for medical purposes, with 56 percent in support of legalization for recreational use.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misspelled Russ Belville’s last name.

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7 powerful photographs of terminally ill patients living out their final wishes

Before 54-year-old Mario passed away, he had one special goodbye he needed to say … to his favorite giraffe.

Mario had worked as a maintenance man at the Rotterdam zoo in the Netherlands for over 25 years. After his shifts, he loved to visit and help care for the animals, including the giraffes.

As Mario’s fight against terminal brain cancer came to an end, all he wanted to do was visit the zoo one last time. He wanted to say goodbye to his colleagues and maybe share a final moment with some of his furry friends.

Thanks to one incredible organization, Mario got his wish.

“To say goodbye to the animals.” All photos by the Ambulance Wish Foundation, used with permission.

The Ambulance Wish Foundation, a Dutch nonprofit, helps people like Mario experience one final request.

It’s a lot like Make-A-Wish, only it’s not just for kids.

In 2006, Kees Veldboer, who was an ambulance driver at the time, was moving a patient from one hospital to another. The patient was a terminally ill man who had spent three straight months confined to a hospital bed. During the trip from one hospital to the other, the patient told Veldboer that he wanted to see the Vlaardingen canal one last time. He wanted to sit in the sun and wind and smell the water again before going back inside.

Veldboer made the patient’s last wish happen, and as tears of joy streamed down the man’s face, Veldboer knew he had tapped into a powerful way to bring peace to people in their final days.

Soon after, the Ambulance Wish Foundation was born.

Based in the Netherlands, Veldboer’s organization scoffs at the logistical hurdles of transporting terminally ill patients who need high levels of care and, often, lots of medical equipment. The Ambulance Wish Foundation employs a fleet of custom-built ambulances and always has highly trained medical staff on hand for emergencies.

Their message? Positive end-of-life experiences are far too important to pass up.

Today, the AWF has over 230 volunteers and has fulfilled nearly 7,000 wishes.

Even more beautiful than the work this organization does, though, are the things its patients are asking for.

Mostly, it’s the little things they cherish, like seeing their home one last time or spending a few hours just looking at something beautiful.

Veldboer, in an interview with the BBC, describes one woman who had not been home for six months. When they brought her into her living room on a stretcher, she hoisted herself up and stayed there for hours, doing nothing but looking around likely replaying an entire lifetime worth of memories before quietly asking them to take her away.

Another patient simply wanted to see her favorite Rembrandt painting again.

“To see my favorite painting one last time.”

And another just wanted to spend an afternoon watching dolphins play.

On and on the wishes go about four of them fulfilled every day. People who just want to see their grandchild for the first time, or stand on the beach again before they can’t anymore.

Turns out that life’s simplest pleasures just might be its most meaningful.

Sometimes it feels like there’s never enough time. Not in a day. Not in a year. Not in a life.

But maybe it’s better to cherish what we have rather than spend so much time thinking about all the things we haven’t done yet.

Maybe the things we remember at the end aren’t the time we went skydiving or the time we hiked across Europe. When our time is up, maybe what we’ll remember most is more mundane the tacky wallpaper in the house we grew up in, a sunny day spent on the water, or those little everyday moments spent with the people we love the most.

Whatever it is, it’s comforting to know there are people out there who want our last memories of this place to be good ones.

I can’t think of a more wonderful job.

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Sea Sheep? This Adorable Sea Slug Eats So Much Algae It Can Photosynthesize

It’s a sheep! It’s a cow! No, it’s Image credits: Image credits: Image credits: 

Image credits: Lynn Wu

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