Off-duty police officer saves 3yr old girl’s life on his wedding day

For Indiana University Police Officer John O’Rourke, March 28 will not only be memorable as his wedding anniversary — it will also mark the day he saved a little girl’s life.

The officer, who traveled to Sanford, Florida, for his wedding ceremony last week, stopped by a Donuts to Go to grab some breakfast before the big “I do” when he noticed a commotion in the dining area. A room full of customers were hovering around a 3-year-old girl who was having a seizure.

So the Indiana cop rushed to the little girl’s side, instructing bystanders to call 911. After speaking to the 911 operator, O’Rourke began performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation combined with chest compressions.

After a few minutes, he managed to bring the girl back to consciousness. As she began to wake up, paramedics arrived on the scene to take over her care.

When the crisis was over, restaurant staff thanked the officer with a box of doughnuts on the house.

“I just sat in my car, for about 20 minutes, processing everything,” O’Rourke said in a statement posted online.

The rescue mission was certainly unexpected, but as a police officer, O’Rourke knows he always has to be prepared for situations like these.

“It had to be a donut shop,” he joked. “You can’t make this up.”

Hours later, O’Rourke married his bride, Virginia, and at the reception, he had quite a tale to tell.

The wedding guests included some Florida Highway Patrol troopers who worked with O’Rourke. When they heard about his heroic act, they said they weren’t surprised.

“You know John,” one of them said. “He’s always at the right place at the right (or wrong) time.”

Indian federal government Allows transgender people to use public toilets of their choice

While the Donald Trump administration in the US recently rescinded Obama-era guidelines that allowed transgender students unrestricted access to bathrooms matching their gender identity, the Indian government has moved to allow the members of the community to use toilets of their choice.

In a significant move, the Ministry of Sanitation on Monday (April 3) issued guidelines to the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) stating that members of the third-gender community be allowed to use public toilet of their choice (men or woman), according to a report in

Under the heading of ‘Inclusivity,’ the statement said that a “conscious effort” should be made to ensure that members of the community are “recognised as equal citizens and users of toilets”.

The guidelines on gender issues in sanitation also stated that there were examples from across India where those belonging to the third gender have played a significant role in taking the “message of Swachhata” to other households in their community.

“Where suitable, their support can be enlisted in engaging communities, and their efforts duly recognised and honoured to break any stigma around them, and also to enable them to use facilities without any embarrassment.”

In another move to ensure public toilet access for transgender people, the Madras high court on Tuesday (April 4) ordered the Tamil Nadu government to build public toilets for members of the community in parts of the city where they live in larger numbers.

According to a PTI report, Census 2011 indicates that there are around ten lakh people in Tamil Nadu who identify as transgender.

Even as the high court’s mandate was issued in response to a PIL, according to a Ladies Finger report, the 2014 Supreme Court judgment recognising transgenders as ‘third gender,’ which also included an order for separate toilets for members of the community in public places, is yet to be implemented.

The directive, according to the report, has only been followed by Mysore, which also has only one such separate toilet.

The government has before made efforts towards ensuring equality to transgender people when accessing public services. According to the Times of India, the urban development ministry has a “non-discriminatory clause” under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, which allows anyone, including transgender people, to buy property in a complex.

This 81 Year-Old Japanese Lady Is a Real Inspiration For Young Computer Programmers

This old lady, Masako Wakamiya, isn’t your typical “senior”. The 81-year-old Japanese woman was launched her first iPhone app and is now interested in showing others old people that they too can learn how to code or do another trade.

After working at a bank for nearly 43 years, Masako Wakamiya was forced to retire at age sixty. With a lot of time on her hands and wanting to do something better with her spare time, she bought a computer, set it up completely by herself and then started chatting with others on the internet. After a while, she decided to do even more than that.

During a TEDxTokyo talk, Masako Wakamiya speaks in detail about her past and elaborates on her new iPhone app, called Hinadan. The app is based on a traditional Japanese holiday, known commonly as Girl’s Day, and the game consists on simply arranging some traditional Japanese dolls in a specific order. The users are guided by a series of “beeps” that mark approval or disapproval.These days, the old Japanese woman maintains a website filled with Excell art tutorials and all sorts of other guides for old people like herself who want to be more proficient at using a computer. What she is trying to prove here is that there really isn’t such a thing as an age gap, even though there is age discrimination in the world.

Here is a short tutorial about how the game is played.

And here is Masako Wakamiya’s TED talk

India’s forest cover increasing, better than world average, says Union environment secretary – Times of India

DEHRADUN: Ajay Narayan Jha, secretary, ministry of environment and forests , said at the inauguration of the 19th Commonwealth forestry conference that began at the Forest Research Institute Dehradun , on Monday, that India’s forest cover has improved in comparison to the world average. “The world over, average per capita forest cover has declined from 0.8 ha to 0.6 ha per person but in India, a net increase of 1.82% forest cover has been registered in the past 30 years,” Jha said.He pointed out that the country had 24% forest cover with 7 billion tonnes of carbon sink — a natural reservoir that absorbs carbon and helps counter the effects of global warming. “We have to add 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes to the carbon sink by 2030. This will be done by planting trees outside the forests near highways or in agro-forestry sector,” the secretary said. Former director general of forests SS Negi who was also present at the conference, said that the target of increasing the sink would be met by growing 100 crore trees over a period of ten years. “Around 1000 trees would be planted on one hectare outside the forests,” he said.Earlier, while inaugurating the 5-day long conference which was attended by around 500 delegates, Uttarakhand governor KK Paul said that various stakeholders must work together to tackle deforestation “Protection of forests is important for reducing disaster risk and greenhouse emissions. Governments, the private sector, local authorities, NGOs, and indigenous people — all need to work for it. Recent research has shown that the cash and non-cash incomes of the rural poor depend to a very high degree on what the forestry and environmental professionals now call the ‘ecosystem services’ provided by varied forests. Protecting forests, therefore, not only makes sense for reducing disaster risk and greenhouse emissions; it also makes pro-poor sense,” the governor said.Anil Madhav Dave, union environment minister through video conferencing, expressed hope that the deliberations would lead to “carving out the roadmap to support holistic developmental agenda and establishing links between forests and communities.”Addressing the gathering, John Innes, chairman, standing committee on commonwealth forestry reminisced that the conference had come back to India after almost 50 years. “It is a matter of coincidence that the forestry sector was changing at that point of time then and is again on the verge of change, given the challenges of climate change and meeting the sustainable developmental agenda .”

Travel firms starting to drop package trips to zoos

A UK travel company has pledged to stop promoting zoos and laid down guidelines for the kinds of animal facilities it will continue to work with.

Responsible Travel said there was “no justifiable reason” to keep animals in captivity, in an announcement backed by the Born Free Foundation and actor and animal welfare campaigner Joanna Lumley.

It gave four key reasons for its decision:

So far, Responsible Travel has removed six trips from its site that include visits to zoos. It is also conducting an “in-depth audit” of all captive animal facilities visited on the trips it sells, which it says incorporates a significant proportion of the itineraries it offers around the world, to ensure they comply with its new guidelines.

The site will still promote legitimate animal sanctuaries and rescue centres for animals that cannot be returned to the wild, as well as rehabilitation centres for animals that will be returned to the wild, as long as no captive breeding takes place in these facilities.

It will also promote “genuine endangered species conservation centres”.

Responsible Travel, which works with 375 tour operators around the world, is the first travel company to make a strong statement regarding zoos, a move that comes as a growing number of tour operators are coming under pressure to take a stand against animal attractions.

In February, Virgin Holidays said it would no longer sell or promote any new attractions or hotels that featured captive whales and dolphins for entertainment purposes (though it continues to sell to around 30 attractions that currently do so), and last October TripAdvisor announced it would discontinue selling tickets for specific tourism experiences where travellers came into physical contact with captive wild animals, such as elephant rides, petting tigers and swimming with dolphins.

In a blog on the issue, Responsible Travel CEO Justin Francis said: “Our conclusion is that zoos are not appropriate in 2017. They are relics of the past, and the arguments to justify keeping animals in captivity no longer stand up.”

He added: “In our view, rather than being self-proclaimed conservation organisations they are in fact businesses that exploit animals for profit. We hope that other travel businesses and tour operators will join us in creating a movement for change that recognises that zoos are outdated, unethical and unnecessary.”

Scientists grow heart cells – that begin beating- in spinach leaves .

An amazing experiment by a team of scientists has found it’s possible to grow beating human heart cells on a spinach leaf.

The experiment has the potential to solve a serious limitation facing researchers attempting to grow human organs in laboratories – making functioning blood vessels.

The scientists found that spinach leaves aren’t just for eating as they have a vascular system similar to humans’.

The team of researchers stripped the leaf of its plant using detergent, turning the leaf translucent and leaving behind the structure that keeps the cells in place.

They then seeded it with human heart muscle and within five days the leaf muscle started to beat.

It’s another example of “bio-inspired” engineering, where scientists look to designs in nature for insight on solving problems in the lab.

While treatments based on this experiment are likely years away, researchers note in their study that more than “100,000 patients can be found on the donor waiting list at any given time”.

The team, made up of researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the University of Wisconsin, Arkansas State University, and the University of Nova Gorica in Slovenia, hope the research can eventually help treat heart patients.

They said the experiment is “very promising”.

Kansas man gives 32 gallons of blood over 64 years

Harold Facklam Jr. doesn’t think about how his donations of 32 gallons of life-saving blood have affected others or even saved lives. He remembers the reasons why he began his service to those in need of such a precious gift.

“I just did it because it was something that I could do. I never served in the military at all, and I probably could have or should have maybe, but World War II was over before I was old enough,” he said. “The Korean War would have been about right, but then we got married and a year later we had a child, so I was deferred. I think I always maybe felt a little bit guilty about that, that I didn’t serve in the military because there was a lot of my high school classmates that did. I thought, maybe this is some way I can help.”

Facklam was honored with the Assisted Living Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding citizenship at a recent luncheon. The Kansas Health Care Association and the Kansas Center for Assisted Living recognized his contributions, specifically 259 pints, or 32 gallons, of blood that he donated through the American Red Cross.

He credits his late father Harold Facklam Sr. with encouraging him to donate at just shy of 21 years of age in January 1951. At that time a parent’s consent was required if you weren’t 21, but Facklam Jr. was married so he could donate. His father began donating in 1947 and gave blood for about 11 years, stopping at age 60 when he was no longer allowed to give.

“My father was giving; he certainly had a great influence on me. He was very, so pleased to give and that’s why I started, of course,” Facklam said.

Facklam donated until April 30, 2015, for 64 years of his 87 years of life. Health reasons caused him to stop. For years, every time a newspaper or radio announcement said the Red Cross would be in Junction City or Fort Riley accepting donations, he was there to do his part. As soon as he gave, he would make his next appointment to do so again.

He donated a pint each time of whole blood, four times a year and was recognized by the Kansas American Red Cross with 38 pins as he reached specific gallon markers.

Facklam also was recognized for his volunteer work with the United Church of Christ in Geary County, where he spearheaded the committee that rebuilt the church after it was destroyed by lightning in 2001.

“Church was a very important part of our life, always,” he said. “On Aug. 23, 2001, the church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, but the Christian Education Building, which was right beside it, was saved, so we were able to continue to worship there for about two years while we were building the new church at a different location. I was the treasurer for that committee, so I wrote all the checks.”

Facklam was nominated for the lifetime achievement award after personnel at McCrite Plaza Topeka saw a display of Facklam’s pins hanging on the wall in his residence.

“We thought he would be the perfect person to nominate for it, and we were really excited when we found out he had won the award,” said Kelsie Dawson, marketing assistant.

Other family members also have become donors, including a daughter and granddaughter. Facklam said his son-in-law John Jameson is number two in blood donations in Junction City, coming in right below Facklam.

He and his wife Venice Facklam have been married for 66 years. They lived in Geary County from 1963 to October 2016, and have two daughters, Linda Smith of Jackson County and Karen Jameson of Junction City, and four grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

bus driver credited with saving lives during shooting

An Edmonton bus driver is being called a hero with nerves of steel for his role in last week’s police shooting of a gunman at a busy Clareview intersection.

A retired police sergeant, driver Ernie Russell’s training kicked in when he came face-to-face with a man armed with a rifle March 13.

First, he stopped the bus, then, the second it was safe, he had his half-dozen passengers lie on the floor at the back of the bus, moments before the vehicle was struck by at least one bullet.

A bullet went through the driver’s seat, leaving a hole at chest height where Russell had just been sitting.

“A lot of people would have panicked,” Mark Tetterington, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 569, said Tuesday.

“He saw the danger, had everyone hit the deck. … He did everything absolutely perfect.”

Russell is forbidden by Edmonton Transit to speak publicly about his actions because of the ongoing police investigation. Three unrelated sources confirmed the sequence of events with the Journal, but can’t be named because they are not authorized to speak with the media.

Russell was driving the bus north on 50 Street carrying about five passengers around 11:30 a.m. when he saw the gunman at 137 Avenue.

The gunman was dressed in black: “Black jacket, black hair with a ball cap,” Russell told the Edmonton Transit control desk.

Russell stopped the bus. At some point, the gunman pointed his rifle at or near him. Russell stayed perfectly still.

It’s unclear how long the two stayed that way, but the driver took action when police arrived and started yelling at the man to drop his gun.

As the gunman turned to point his rifle at police, Russell quickly slipped from his seat, ushered all the passengers to the back of the bus and told them to get down on the floor.

He sounded calm in updates to the Edmonton Transit control room: “All my passengers are on the floor. I’m instructing them to keep down, keep low,” he said.

A police officer shot the gunman. A witness heard three shots. The gunman was rushed to hospital.

Police later found a Lee-Enfield .303-calibre rifle on the street. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the police-involved shooting.

Russell didn’t see the bullet hole in his seat until he and his passengers were preparing to leave the bus. It’s unclear how many bullets went through the bus windshield.

“Through my windshield, through my seat and through the barrier behind me,” Russell told control.

Sources said Russell’s police training helped him stay calm and act quickly to protect his passengers. He saved his own life in the process.

Police said no one on the bus was injured.

Tetterington was able to confirm a few details, but had not spoken directly with Russell. He said Russell has been driving with Edmonton Transit for about a year.

“The way he handled everything was so professional. He deserves a commendation for the way he handled that,” Tetterington said. “He immediately notified control and told them of the danger in the area,” which meant other buses stayed away.

The officer who shot the gunman was a 10-year member of the Edmonton Police Service. He’s been put on mandatory administrative leave.

Glenn Justin Ironchild, 36, went to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in critical condition following the shooting. His family said he’s recovering. He’s been charged with a variety of gun-related offences, including careless use of a firearm and assault with a weapon.

How one man risked his life to save Michigan trooper

USA Today Network
Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press

12:40 p.m. ET March 20, 2017
Keith Pepple and another man helped a Michigan State Police trooper who was being attacked Feb. 20, 2017, in Berrien County, Mich. Here, Pepple is in his Plainwell, Mich., home Thursday, March 16, 2017.(Photo: Andraya Croft, Detroit Free Press)DETROIT — Keith Pepple saw the flashing lights of a police car behind him and pulled over.A motorcycle zoomed by, followed by a Michigan State Police trooper.Moments later down the road, Pepple would risk his life — and quite possibly save another life — to help the trooper as he was being attacked by the motorcycle driver and that man’s brother.”I guess everything happened so fast, you don’t really have time to think about it,” said Pepple, 50, of Plainwell, Mich. “I just saw that he needed help. And I decided to help.”Pepple was participating in one of his favorite hobbies, geocaching, an outdoor treasure-hunting game that uses GPS coordinates, when he stumbled on the scene. It was Feb. 20 on U.S.-31 in Berrien County, Mich.Related:Good Samaritans save Michigan trooper from attackFurther down the road from where the motorcycle and police car passed Pepple, the motorcycle crashed. The driver got up and began charging toward the trooper, police said, ignoring commands to stop. He then struggled with the trooper as he tried to arrest him.Pepple was driving by when he saw the scene and decided to stop and help. Just then, a man jumped out of another vehicle that also had stopped. That man ran over and put the trooper in a headlock and yelled for the motorcycle driver to leave, according to police.The motorcycle driver ran a short distance away, then returned. He reached for the trooper’s holster, but it was empty because the gun had fallen out in the scuffle, police said. He started punching the trooper in the face.Police said the two men were motorcycle driver Michael Barber, 21, of Gobles, Mich., and Travis Wise, 19, of Middlebury, Ind.Police say two men helped Michigan State Police Trooper Garry Guild as he was being attacked by two men Monday, Feb. 20, 2017. Guild was treated for minor injuries. (Photo: Michigan State Police)Trooper Garry Guild thought he was going to die.”I am gasping and struggling for air, to the point where I can’t breathe,” said Guild.Pepple sprang into action.”I got up there, and I grabbed a hold of Barber and threw him off” the trooper, Pepple said. “Everybody went to the ground. I had Barber in a headlock. I looked back and Wise was still choking the officer. I grabbed Wise and put him in a headlock.”A second passerby, Jerry Burnham, 44, of Berrien Springs, Mich., also stopped to help.Both suspects were arrested. They are facing multiple felony charges, including assault with intent to murder.Investigators learned that the motorcycle had been stolen from a business. Guild said he initially didn’t know that; he tried to stop it because he clocked it as traveling at 92 mph.Related:Good Samaritan jumps on man attacking police officerThe incident left Guild, 51, with an acute neck injury and swollen jaw. He also had a minor hand injury from where he accidentally Tased himself during the struggle.He was back at work the next day.“I just saw that he needed help. And I decided to help.”Keith Pepple, on helping Michigan State Police trooper”I wanted to make sure I got the report in while most of the information in my head was fresh and get it in the prosecutors’ hand so they could be arraigned as soon as possible,” the 21-year State Police veteran said.Barber’s attorney, Scott Sanford, and Wise’s attorney, Paul Jancha Jr., declined to comment.Pepple, a married father of two, is a maintenance worker at the Coca-Cola plant in Paw Paw, Mich. Guild and Michigan State Police Lt. Melinda Logan, one of Guild’s supervisors at the State Police post in Niles, visited the plant recently to publicly recognize and thank him for what he did.”I can’t thank him enough,” Guild said.Logan said: “These two guys came into this not knowing if they were going to be hurt and risked their own lives to help someone else. It’s just amazing to me. We’re really proud of them, and forever indebted to them.”Follow Ann Zaniewski on Twitter: @AnnZaniewskiRead or Share this story:

University of Minnesota grants dying man’s wish to see his son graduate

When Ken Brown found out three years ago that he had ALS, he was forced to think about what he wanted most from life.

At the top of that list? To see both of his children graduate from the University of Minnesota.

He was there when his daughter, Keegan, graduated in 2015. And he had planned to be at Mariucci Arena this spring when his son, Collin, graduates. But just last month, Ken’s doctor told him he likely wouldn’t live long enough to attend the May 13 ceremony.

Ken’s wife, Patti, posted that heartbreaking news on Ken’s Caring Bridge journal, where a family friend saw it and wrote to U President Eric Kaler, asking him to “grant a man his final wish.”

So, for possibly the first time ever, the University of Minnesota will host a one-student graduation ceremony for Collin Monday. His dad will be there to see it.

“I don’t want the grief of my passing to impact his studies,” said Ken. “This [the graduation] will give me the opportunity to close the book on that chapter in his and his sister’s lives.”

Ken is now paralyzed in his legs and left arm. He’s able to use his right hand some — to maneuver his power wheelchair, shake hands or scratch an itch with a silver back scratcher.

He speaks slowly, one deliberate word at a time. Because his speech-recognition software can no longer pick up his voice, Colin translates for him.

“I have not had a request like this in the six years I’ve been president,” Kaler said. “I was touched by the letter and very pleased to accommodate this family’s wish.”

Until 2014, Brown, of Champlin, was at the top of his game. He was director of quality engineering at Boston Scientific, and an avid runner who had recently started riding motorcycles.

But after struggling to run a 6K race that fall, something he’d been doing for 15 years, Brown knew something wasn’t right. After multiple visits to multiple doctors, he was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks and kills the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. There is no cure.

Over the next few years, Ken participated in ALS research studies, followed strict dietary recommendations of a biochemist and prayed for divine healing. Knowing his time was limited, he continued to live his life with purpose.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Ken said. “You’re losing something but you still get the opportunity to live your life on your own terms.”

His terms meant traveling to Guatemala with his church to help with a construction project at a girls’ orphanage. It meant taking his family to Honolulu and hiking the Diamond Head Trail, and attending U football games where his daughter was a cheerleader. Swimming, biking and motorcycling, too.

“He rode that thing until it wasn’t safe for him to ride it anymore,” Collin said.

Collin was nearing the end of his freshman year of college when Ken got his diagnosis.

Both of them immediately thought about graduation.

The median life expectancy for people with the fatal disease is three years. Ken knew that living to see Collin graduate would be a stretch.

Collin admits his college years have been difficult as he balances campus life with the constant tug of wanting to help at home. Every week, or whenever Patti calls, Collin returns home to watch episodes of “Blue Bloods” with his dad and help with simple tasks, such as spraying a minty-flavored solution into Ken’s cheek when his mouth gets dry.

During that time, he’s also come to know his dad on a deeper level. If there’s a silver lining to ALS, Collin said, that is it.

“As it stands today, [ALS] is a death sentence over a period of time. But it still gives you that opportunity to know and be more intentional about the time you’re spending with your loved ones,” Collin said. “Maybe I wouldn’t have pursued as much advice and wisdom from him in college if I didn’t have that kind of prompting to say that my time with him is limited.”

The two have bonded over their love for ’80s music, “dad jokes” and conversations about engineering. As old friends come to the house to tell stories and say goodbye, they tell Collin he sounds just like his dad did in college.

Like father, like son, Collin will be graduating with an engineering degree.

Already, his education has come in handy. He’s made adjustments to his dad’s wheelchair, which Ken uses full time now. Earlier, he built a towing implement his dad designed to haul a walker behind his electric scooter. The two also collaborated on a ladder device that Ken used to hoist himself up when he fell.

“Sometimes he would propose ideas that I thought were pretty ridiculous,” Collin said. “For a while after he was unable to use the stairs, he wanted to hook a sled up to a winch and build a frame to slowly lower himself to the basement.”

“I’m always thinking,” Ken said, flashing the same warm smile he’s always had. “It would’ve worked, but it wouldn’t have been safe.”

On Monday, instead of the pomp and circumstance in a sports arena filled with hundreds of his classmates, Collin will graduate with 20 family and close friends, and with his father by his side.

The hourlong, one-student ceremony will be quiet and simple, a time for reflection on the past and dreams of the future. A member of the U’s board of regents will deliver the diploma and Kaler himself will give the commencement speech. And Ken’s final wish will have been granted.

“I had hoped I would be healed, but I knew I’d be healed either in this life or the next,” he said. “God is good and everything that is, is his plan.”