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Inspiring Woman Spends Isolation Cooking 80 Meals a Day for Vulnerable People

Not all superhero’s wear cloaks—and in Sophie’s case, an apron will do just fine.




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(TMU) — We can only imagine that there’s some surprising things people do while on lockdown at home. Take Sophie Mears for example, a mum of four living in Bridport in Dorset, UK. Sophie has been cooking up a storm and preparing free food parcels for people unable to leave home during the pandemic.

However, local council officials were ready to strip the cloak from the shoulders of the 33-year-old hero because she needed a food hygiene certificate to continue operations, and due to the lock down they were unable to visit her home for an inspection.

Posted by Jade Smalls on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Sophie refused to hang her cloak in the dark wardrobe just yet. Instead, she pleaded with authorities and by putting their heads together they agreed on a plan to do a “virtual inspection.” Not only did Sophie’s kitchen pass with flying colors, she earned a five-star food rating and is able to continue cooking and preparing food for the vulnerable and elderly members of her community.

Sophie works in the administration at a local school and started working at home when the lockdown came into force. But she realized that many people would be in need and she wanted to help.

She first joined her local Facebook community support group and volunteered to help when a member of the group mentioned a family in need of a meal. Before long, Sophie had a team to support her including someone dedicated to checking the messages on social media to ensure everyone needing meals would get them. Gary, her partner, is tasked with bagging the meals and organizing delivery by a team of up to eight volunteers.

Posted by Jade Smalls on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Sophie explained:

‘’It started a few weeks ago, somebody said there was a family in need of a meal so I provided a few bits for them and it just grew from there. Now I’m cooking a roast dinner for 80!

My kitchen is not massive, it’s just a normal family kitchen. I’ve got several slow cookers so I have those going through the night and then in the mornings I do the bits I can’t do in the slow cookers.

My garage has turned into a storage area with a couple of fridges and a chest freezer; people have just been amazing with donating all sorts.’’

The community rallied together with donations of food and money to help cover Sophie’s costs for making healthy, hearty meals like soups, stews, chilly, lamb hotpot, and cottage pie.

Posted by Jade Smalls on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

According to Sophie, her children, Charlie and Connor (age 9), Jacob (age 8), and Evelyn (age 4), have been really good at allowing her to do so much cooking while they do schoolwork or play quietly.

Sophie continued:

‘’I have worked in catering in pubs and restaurants before and I’ve always enjoyed cooking.

I’ve quite enjoyed finding new things to cook and I’ve learnt to do vegan and vegetarian too.

The support has just been unbelievable and it just fills my heart with joy to know when I sit down at night for a meal with my family, I’ve been able to help somebody else have that too.’’

Sophie spends up to 10 hours in her kitchen cooking and preparing between 60 and 80 meals daily for around 30 deliveries with the help of family and the support and donations from members of the community.

Not all superhero’s wear cloaks—and in Sophie’s case, an apron will do just fine.

“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special, just cooking,” she said modestly.

We reckon the recipients of her hearty meals may beg to differ and see the hero’s cloak disguised as an apron!

By Jade Small | Creative Commons |

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After Strong Backlash, NYPD Kicks Robotic Dog “Spot” to the Curb

Kenny Stancil



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The New York City Police Department decided this week to stop leasing a robotic dog from Boston Dynamics following a sustained outcry from residents and lawmakers, who denounced the use of the high-tech, four-legged device in low-income neighborhoods as a misallocation of public resources and violation of civil liberties.

When the NYPD acquired the K-9 machine last August, officials portrayed “Digidog”—the department’s name for the camera-equipped, 70-pound robot—as “a futuristic tool that could go places that were too dangerous to send officers,” the New York Times reported earlier this week.

Inspector Frank Digiacomo of the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit said in a television interview in December: “This dog is going to save lives. It’s going to protect people. It’s going to protect officers.”

Instead—thanks to strong backlash from critics, including people who live in the Bronx apartment complex and the Manhattan public housing building where the robotic dog was deployed in recent weeks—the department is returning “Spot,” as Boston Dynamics calls the device, months earlier than expected.

According to the Times:

In response to a subpoena from City Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson requesting records related to the device, police officials said that a contract worth roughly $94,000 to lease the robotic dog from its maker, Boston Dynamics, had been terminated on April 22.

John Miller, the police department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, confirmed on Wednesday that the contract had been canceled and that the dog had been returned to Boston Dynamics or would be soon.

Miller told the Times that the police had initially planned to continue testing the K-9 machine’s capabilities until August, when the lease had been scheduled to end.

The robotic dog came under increased scrutiny in February, after it was deployed in response to a home invasion at a Bronx apartment building, as Common Dreams reported at the time.

“Robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response. “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc. consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?” 

And earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, footage of the robotic dog walking through a Manhattan public housing building went viral, sparking additional outrage and prompting a city council investigation.

“Why the hell do we need robot police dogs?” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) asked at the time. 

While there are “people living in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, take care of their kids, afford child care—all this going on, and now we got damn robot police dogs walking down the street,” Bowman lamented.

Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who urged the police department to reconsider its use of the robot following objections from residents and lawmakers, said he was “glad the Digidog was put down.”

“It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,” Neidhardt said.

Republished from under Creative Commons

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Cliffhanger: Mountain Biker Saved From “Imminent Death” After Falling Into Canyon

Elias Marat



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A Southern California mountain biker is likely counting his blessings after he was rescued from what authorities describe as “imminent death”” after falling from the side of a cliff in the Angeles National Forest.

The mountain biker, described as an older man, fell into the canyon at Mt. Wilson on Thursday morning and was dangling hundreds of feet above the ground before his fellow bikers, and eventually a special team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, rescued him.

For some time the man dangled by a thin cord around his ankle that was tied to his bicycle while hanging on for dear life “like a cat,” Capt. Tom Giandomenico of the LASD special enforcement bureau told the Los Angeles Times.

“He knew he was in such a precarious situation. He was just scared to even rotate his head to look at us. He just didn’t want to move a muscle,” LASD Deputy Richard Thomsen told CBSLA.

Additionally, when the helicopter team arrived it wasn’t just a matter of simply hoisting the man to safety, as the air generated by the helicopter’s rotor would have sent the man plummeting to “imminent death,” Giandomenico added.

“Because he was head-down on the rock face there, that dropped probably a good 40 feet before it hit some soft dirt and a boulder,” Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Helbring said. “And beyond that was hundreds of feet down to the bottom of the canyon.”

Instead, one of the members of the special enforcement team composed of former SWAT officers devised a plan to rappel down to the man and move him to a ledge below, from which the two could be airlifted to safety.

However, due to a lack of boulders or trees, there was nothing to tie a rope to – and thus no way to rappel down to anything.

So instead, the special enforcement team used the man’s brother and another friend to be their anchor, a plan that ultimately succeeded.

Giandomenico called the rescue “one of the more significant, courageous maneuvers I’ve seen.”

“Heroic, in my opinion,” he added.

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Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever

Elias Marat



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Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.

Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.

In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.

At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.

“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.

“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”

The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.

Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.

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