×
It wasn't all bad
December 16, 2018

Janet Fein celebrated her retirement at age 77 by going back to college.

In 2012, Fein retired from her job as a secretary at an orthopedic hospital in Dallas, and immediately enrolled in classes at the University of Texas at Dallas. "I didn't have anything to do in retirement and I didn't think that playing bingo was up to my speed," she told The Associated Press. Fein, now 84, loved writing papers and doing homework, and didn't let anything get in her way — she kept up with everything even as she moved into an assisted living facility and had to start using a walker and oxygen tank.

This week, Fein will receive her bachelor's degree in sociology. Through a state program, Texans 65 and older can take up to six credits per semester at a public university for free, and last year, about 2,000 people participated, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board said. Fein believes in the importance of learning — after raising her five kids, she took classes for 20 years and received her associate's degree in 1995 — and has inspired one of her caregivers, Renee Brown, to go back to school at 53 to become a licensed vocational nurse. "She said, 'Renee, you can do it. If I can do it you can do it and you will feel so good about it,'" Brown told AP. Catherine Garcia

December 13, 2018

A Seattle school district's decision to implement a later start time for students allowed them to get more sleep and may have even improved their academic performance, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University of Washington tracked sophomores both before and after a school district pushed its start time from 7:50 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. They found that with the 8:40 start, students got on average an extra 34 minutes of sleep each night, reports NPR. They didn't simply move their bedtime later and get the same amount of sleep, as some suspected could happen.

That wasn't the only positive outcome: the study also found that there was a 4.5 percent increase in the students' median grades.

"These results demonstrate that delaying high school start times brings students closer to reaching the recommended sleep amount and reverses the century-long trend in gradual sleep loss," the researchers say. While it's easy to draw a link between the late start time and the additional sleep, it's "much harder to attribute causality for 4.5% higher grades on increased sleep." However, it's "certainly reasonable" to conclude that students who are more well-rested would see an improvement in their grades, and one teacher told NPR that her students seemed to find it easier to engage in class after the later start time began.

The study additionally showed that the number of absences and late arrivals also went down with the later start time, but this was only apparent in the economically disadvantaged school they looked at, which they conclude suggests "delaying high school start times could decrease the learning gap between low and high socioeconomic groups." Brendan Morrow

December 12, 2018

The Great Barrier Reef may not be so doomed after all.

Hundreds of the Australian reef's coral species are blossoming deeper in the ocean than biologists previously thought, a report published by The Royal Society on Tuesday reveals. Growing further from direct sunlight could save these species from coral bleaching caused by climate change and prove essential for their conservation, Science News says.

The world's largest coral reef has been decimated as climate change warms waters and strips corals of their bright colors, killing them. Deeper-growing corals are safer from climate change, but scientists thought only a few species could grow more than 100 feet from the surface. It turns out 195 species can actually grow in the shady, cold depths and not just near the sun, per the study. So when shallow-water corals die off, scientists might be able to "transplant" these "deep ocean corals" and repopulate the surface, Science News writes.

The study was published just two days after another promising reef report. Though bleaching may severely damage of Great Barrier Reef, corals that survived one season tended to tolerate hotter temperatures the following year, a study published Monday in Nature shows. It's not great that any corals are dying, scientists assure, but at least this suggests the strongest ones will live on and repopulate the reef. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 11, 2018

A set of treasured Philippine church bells will soon ring where they belong once again.

On Tuesday, the U.S. returned a set of three bells it stole during the Philippine War back in 1901. Filipinos have long called for the bells' return, and America's ambassador to the country says this signals a solidification of the two countries' friendship, The New York Times reports.

The Bells of Balangiga first hung in a Catholic church in the Spanish-colonized Philippines. But the island nation came under U.S. control in 1898, quickly sparking the Philippine-American war. Balangiga was the site of a particularly harsh killing of U.S. troops, and after winning the war, Americans returned to the town to steal the bells and kill thousands of villagers. One bell has since stood at a U.S. Army base in South Korea, and the other two were at a Wyoming Air Force base, per The Associated Press.

Since then, ambassadors and president from both countries worked to get the bells sent back, America's ambassador to the Philippines tells Fox News. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte demanded the bells be returned last year, calling them a "symbol of our national heritage." He'll be at a ceremony later this week when the bells are officially reinstalled.

Some American veterans and officials wanted to hold onto the bells as "memorials to American war dead," AP writes. But President Trump's administration, namely Defense Secretary James Mattis, said the move would benefit America's national security and strengthen its relationship with the island country. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 11, 2018

The oldest known wild bird in the world has laid yet another egg, NPR reports.

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross who researchers estimate is at least 68 years old, has laid almost 40 eggs, and she returns to the Midway Atoll refuge to nest year after year. She has mated with another bird, Akeakamai, and laid an egg each year since 2006, later living through a tsunami and flying an estimated total of more than three million miles.

Scientists didn't even know Laysan albatrosses could live past the age of 40 before Wisdom, who was first banded in 1956, the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge says. She has been closely watched by researchers and has taught them quite a bit about her species, per The Guardian, which notes that Laysan albatrosses don't typically breed every year without taking a break, especially not into such advanced age. In that way, she "does seem to be exceptional," one wildlife biologist observed. Brendan Morrow

December 10, 2018

A California woman forced to abandon her dog in the Camp Fire came back almost a month later to find he had survived and was waiting for her the whole time.

Andrea Gaylord's two dogs, Madison and Miguel, were left behind when residents of Paradise received an evacuation order since she wasn't able to retrieve them as the fire spread; the K9 Paw Print Rescue group writes that she "hoped and prayed" they would be okay. A volunteer was able to find Miguel, and another left food and water out for Madison, CNN reports.

Gaylord was naturally anxious to return home, and when she was finally allowed to do so this week, she found Madison sitting right there on the property weeks later, even as the home had been completely destroyed, reports USA Today. "Imagine the loyalty of hanging in in the worst of circumstances and being here waiting," Gaylord said. "It was so emotional." Brendan Morrow

December 5, 2018

Ernie picked the right UPS truck to jump into one morning in October.

The pitbull-terrier mix had been living in the animal shelter in Buffalo, New York, for two months, and was on a walk with volunteer Cindy Grisanti. Suddenly, he made a beeline for Jason Coronado's UPS truck. Coronado was on his 10-minute break, and invited Ernie inside the vehicle. The dog didn't hesitate, jumping in and making himself comfortable, sidling up to Coronado. "After quite a few snuggles, I tried to get him out to continue our walk, but it definitely took some doing," Grisanti told The Dodo. "He wanted to stay in the truck with his new friend."

In the days after they parted ways, Coronado couldn't get the lovable pup out of his mind, and when he saw on social media last month that Ernie was still at the shelter, he had a talk with his family, and they decided to adopt him. Ernie now spends his day lounging around Coronado's house, and loves curling up on laps and eating treats. "He's very joyful," Coronado said. "I'm upset I didn't take him home earlier." Catherine Garcia

December 4, 2018

As soon as their eyes met, Robin Kohls knew the baby was going to be part of her life forever.

Her husband, Joshua Kohls, is an ER nurse at St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino, California. In 2016, a woman gave birth to a healthy baby boy at the hospital, then went outside to smoke a cigarette. She never came back. Joshua Kohls called his wife to tell her about what happened, and "it was heartbreaking," Robin Kohls said. "I couldn't sleep, I couldn't cope with it. ... It just sat on my heart."

The couple, already parents to two children, sent an email to the baby's social worker, and two days later, Logan was brought to their house. "I saw him and knew right then that he was going to be mine, and I was going to be part of his life," Robin Kohls said. "Every night from that moment on, I would take him to bed and tell him, 'I am so lucky to have you. I'm so lucky God put you in our life.'"

Last month, the Kohls officially adopted Logan through San Bernardino County Children and Family Services. "It means that he's forever going to be ours, and that even though he's been ours in our heart and in our love, it's our birthday with him," Robin Kohls said. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads