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Endangered Wood Bison Thrive at Alaska Conservation Center

PORTAGE - The North American Wood Bison is still on the endangered species list, but its numbers are thriving at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

The Wood Bison Recovery Program started at AWCC almost ten years ago with 13 bison from Canada. Now there are 120 and dozens more on the way.

Coming in at nearly 2,000 pounds, it’s the largest land mammal in North America. It was extinct in Alaska until AWCC started the program.

"For Alaska, it's returning the largest land animal in the western hemisphere to the region and it almost completes the story,” said Jordan Schaul, the Director of Conservation and Science.

Staff says so far the program is quite a success. The first calf of the spring was born Wednesday afternoon, another on Friday morning.

"This year is really exciting, doing the drive around every morning and spotting burnt orange specks out in the pasture is really fun to see,” said Lead Naturalist Erin Leighton.

There will be plenty of wood bison babies to see because AWCC expects up to 40 to be born this spring. But they aren’t the only ones attracting attention.

Two baby musk ox were born within the past two weeks, and they’re the first to be bottle-fed at the wildlife center.

“We post our bottle feeding times for the visitors to see so people usually come around those times, everyone really loves the babies,” said intern Jonathan Spear.

The baby musk ox will be bottle-fed for about a year before they rejoin their mother. They’ll be on display for the public in mid-June.

As for the recovery program, AWCC staff says they’d like the bison herd to have more than 120 before they introduce them back into the wild. If 40 calves are born this spring, they should be on target to release 50 adults in spring 2014.



Hintze, Heather. "Endangered Wood Bison Thrive at Alaska Conservation Center". KTVA. 12 May 2012. Web.  

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Teacher Gives Parent Kidney

A Texas kindergarten teacher has given a life-saving gift to one of her student's parents.

Marie Bell donated one of her kidneys to a the father of one of her students.

"People have said things to me like, 'You're a hero. You're an angel. This is extraordinary.' And to me, it's not. I'm ordinary," she said.

5-year-old Sean Smith was late for school one day because his father was waiting for a kidney transplant.

The boy's older brother told Bell the boy was late because their father had been called to the hospital to get a new kidney, but the kidney was diseased.

"That's when my brain began to turn," she said.

"I wanted Marshall to have a second chance and to see his little boy grow up," Bell said.

Marshall Smith is now recovering from the kidney transplant.

"The whole time, she was bubbling over," he said. "It was like a joy that God had given her and a peace to do this."

Smith is now able to spend more time with his eight children and look back on days spent sick.

"It was pretty horrible," he said. "I had to go to dialysis three times a week."

Smith said a day does not go by without thinking of his child's teacher, who forever changed their lives.

"She is loved in this family," he said.



Story, Sara.  "Teacher Gives Parent Kidney". KSEE24 News. 4 June 2012. Web.  

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  • Published in Health

Study Shows Smiling Could Help With Stress

If you're feeling stressed, maybe the best thing you can do is crack a smile.

New research shows that smiling -- and especially genuine smiling (where your eyes and mouth muscles are engaged) -- may play a part in lowering heart rate after you've done something stressful. The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

"The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment," study researcher Sarah Pressman, of the University of Kansas, said in a statement. "Not only will it help you 'grin and bear it' psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!"

The study included 169 university students who were first trained to hold chopsticks with their mouths (the chopsticks forced them to smile). The researchers trained them to either smile in a standard fashion (where just the mouth is in a smile, but no other facial muscles are being used), a Duchenne smile (where the mouth and eye muscles are used, apparent in a "genuine" smile), or a neutral expression.

Then, the researchers had the study participants continue to have the chopsticks in their mouths as they did a series of stressful tasks, such as putting their hands in ice water.

The researchers found that those who were trained to smile -- and especially those who were trained to smile the Duchenne way -- had a lower heart rate after the activities.

And while you're at it, maybe you should laugh some, too. Research shows that laughing has a myriad of health benefits, from lowering stress to easing pain to boosting your immune system, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Plus, a study from researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that people with heart disease are less likely to laugh than people without the condition -- thereby suggesting there could be a link between laughing and heart health.

"We know that exercising, not smoking and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease," Dr. Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at UMMC, said in a statement. "Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list."



"Smiling Could Help With Stress: Study". Huffington Post. 31 July 2012. Web.  

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  • Published in Health

Gabby Douglas inspires the world as gold medal winner

With an Olympic gold medal in hand, Gabby Douglas has inspired the world.  She has won the gold medal in the women's all around gymnastics event, being the first woman to win the gold in both the team event and all-around.

Her amazing story is show in the video below.  It talks about how her mother raised her and allowed her to live with another family to train for the Olympics.  It's a really heartwarming story, especially now that she has won a gold medal!  A wonderful quote from Gabby's mother was: "there is no greater joy, than for a parent to see their child reach their dream."

Peace & Love,

Your Good World News Team



Yahoo News reported this story today about Gabby's gold medal:


Gabby Douglas's gold medal smile belies her fierce, cold-blooded competitive desire

LONDON – From the top of the podium, with the final bars of the national anthem still echoing through the gymnastics hall, Gabby Douglas's smile seemed even brighter.

Even brighter than when she stuck each impossible landing here this week, even brighter than the gold medal hanging from her neck, even brighter than the future of both she and USA Gymnastics after this historic star turn.

It's the smile that will forever be one of the signature images of these Olympics, the smile that will sell a million boxes of cereal or sneakers, the smile that will beam off countless magazine covers to come.

And it is the smile that will haunt every other competitor she left in a heap behind her – the sweet, wonderful smile of one of the most cold-blooded sporting assassins you'll ever find.

Gabby Douglas won women's gymnastics all-around gold on Thursday by delivering another near-flawless four events, all while crushing the confidence and infuriating the will of the rest of the field, most notably the two determined Russians she shared the podium with, Victoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina.


The Russians were more decorated and more experienced and trained at a higher level for a longer period of their life.

They never really stood a chance.

Douglas – the first U.S. woman ever to win gold in both the team competition and all-around – took the lead from the start and never relinquished it, allowing Komova and Mustafina to make errors, whether small or great, they could never recover from. In the end, she merely waited out the final result, nursing a lead until Komova's final result on the floor exercise was shown on the scoreboard.

Komova needed a 15.360 to pass Douglas. She received only a 15.1, immediately bursting into tears in her coach's arms. Across the way, Douglas jumped in celebration as chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" rained down around her.

Later, Komova was so distraught she wouldn't even wear her silver medal in the media mixed zone, claiming it was "too heavy" as she wore a look of frustration. It was just on Tuesday that she cried hard after the United States, anchored by Douglas's four strong performances, defeated the Russians for team gold.


Here it was again, the Russians running up against an almost perfect gymnastics machine, equal parts talent, mental toughness, and sweet intimidation.

Douglas's four all-around scores ranged from 15.033 to 15.996, allowing her to play catch-me-if-you-can while rattling opponents who by now know she won't crack. She has scored 15.000 or better in 11 of 12 performances across three days here, which is unheard-of consistency.

She may not have the look of those steely old Eastern European gymnastic machines. She merely has the results. If anything, she is even more intimidating, this bouncing ball of energy that nails routine after routine and then simply smiles wide and walks off the mat like these Olympics are no big thing.

"She very much reminded me of one of the other great athletes of my coaching career," Bela Karolyi, the legendary coach, said after.


"Nadia," Karolyi said, smiling at the memory of Nadia Comaneci, who won all-around gold at the 1976 Games with a series of perfect 10s. 

The first African American all-around champion reminds him of that lithe, 14-year-old Romanian?

"Same little skinny thing," Karoyli said. "Don't care about nothing. In that arena they were rooting for the Russians like crazy, but no one could touch [Nadia]. Gabby is t(Getty Images)(Getty Images)he prototype, with no experience, with no hesitations, just going out there with no second thoughts and just performing."

Douglas always had talent but needed first to move from Virginia Beach to Iowa, at just 14, and receive better training to harness it. She fought through a million lonely nights, homesick mornings, and afternoon practice sessions that pushed her to places she never imagined possible.

And all of sudden this year, she became the world's greatest gymnast. First she surged past her teammate, Jordyn Wieber, the reigning world champion and pre-Olympic favorite. Then she arrived here just like little Nadia, without the weight of expectations, without the knowledge of fear, without the concern of failure.

Gabby Douglas doesn't hide from pressure. She covets it.

"The pressure [means] 'Game on,' " Douglas said on Thursday. "The pressure should make us do better and greater things. It helps me. It motivates me. It definitely pumps you up and you get so hyped up you want to stick every landing and get as many 10s as you can."

Pressure is what contributed to Mustafina falling off the beam while trying to land a full flip with a twist that Douglas, of course, would later nail with aplomb.

Pressure is what helped Douglas, with a lead going into the final floor routine, essentially with the all-around gold on the line as the relentless Komova loomed, to just grow excited by the opportunity.

"I just wanted to show off and perform," she said, like it was just another dance. "Treat it like trials."

Like meaningless trials?

"You have to learn how to perform and seize the moment."


After Douglas drilled a 15.033, Komova was left trying to attempt some near-impossible score to beat her. She couldn't.

The pressure is what drives the smile, and the smile is what drives everything – her incredible inner toughness, her soaring popularity, and her devastated string of opponents. She could still win two more golds here, in uneven bars and balanced beam. Bet against her at your own peril.

"Rock solid," Bela crowed. "Three nights in a row with no mistake whatsoever."

And so there on the top of that podium, the smile was bigger and brighter than ever. There was no more pressure. There was no more joy of competition. This was just the emotion of accomplishment, of a superstar peaking at the perfect moment, of a little girl who dreamed big, dared to follow, and now was standing on top of a most golden world.

In that moment, she could afford to briefly shut down the high wattage. For a quick second, just before she stepped down, she pulled her lips into a kiss and blew it toward her proud mother, Natalie Hawkins, the supportive force who let her go and grow, in the front row of section 112.

Then Gabby Douglas, somehow, managed to smile even brighter.


Wetzel, Dan. "Gabby Douglas's gold medal smile belies her fierce, cold-blooded competitive desire". Yahoo Sports. 2 August 2012. Web.  

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  • Published in Sports
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