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Aquarium collects 100 gallons of change tossed into wishing well over 14 years to pay the bills

To pay their bills, the aquarium decided to take action by collecting roughly 100 gallons of sunken wishes made by guests over the years.

Elias Marat

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For many of us who’ve been caught in a pinch, money-wise, it’s not uncommon to occasionally grab our piggy-bank or take some of the spare change we’ve accumulated over the months or years and use the funds to pay the bills.

But for the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, gathering spare change isn’t a matter of digging between couch cushions or making a trip to a Coinstar machine – instead, this aquarium was able to collect funds by the literal bucket-load to the tune of about 100 gallons of change.

With the coronavirus pandemic leading to lockdowns across the United States and the world, many aquariums and zoos have been caught in a bind – dealing with not only the typical maintenance costs of keeping their animals healthy and well-fed, but also paying their workers’ wages and salaries in the absence of normal revenue from visitors.

Many aquariums and zoos have been reminding the public that they still exist by offering virtual tours, or even by offering tours to other animals that typically don’t get out of their own enclosures.

But with bills continuing to pour in, the staff at the aquarium decided to take action by collecting roughly 100 gallons of sunken wishes made by guests over the years and using it to keep the business afloat.

“About 100 gallons of coins were cleaned and sorted and will go toward the general care of the aquarium and animals during this time,” the aquarium said in Facebook update posted to its page on Saturday.

Our staff turned off the 30-foot tall Smoky Mountain waterfall and collected all the coins! About 100 gallons of coins…

Posted by NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores on Saturday, August 8, 2020

The coins had been tossed into the aquarium’s 30-foot tall Smoky Mountain waterfall, which staffers drained in order to collect the coins. And with financial trouble nipping at the aquarium’s heels, why not tap into the wishing well for a bit of good fortune.

As it turns out, the coins had accumulated over the course of 14 years.

The aquarium asked social media followers to guess how much money had been collected. When the final count had been performed, it turned out that they managed to recover nearly $9,000.

“And the grand total is $8,563.71,” the aquarium announced on Facebook.

The aquarium admitted that they “had severely underestimated how long it would take to clean, sort, and sift through all the coins.”

Posted by NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores on Saturday, August 8, 2020

Indeed, it took over 10 hours just to feed the coins through a change counter at their bank.

We can only imagine how long such a massive war-chest of coinage would take to feed through the Coinstar coin-cashing machine at the local grocery store.

The North Carolina Aquariums remain closed as the state continues to maintain social distancing guidelines as a part of its “Safer at Home Phase 2” measures. It remains unclear when the state will move into Phase 3, when a safe reopening of the facilities are possible.

In the meantime, workers at the aquariums continue to maintain the facility, continue construction projects, and create new and exciting virtual programs for curious students and their families.

The North Carolina Aquarium has been conducting virtual tours and interactive virtual summer camps for kids.

Posted by NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores on Saturday, August 8, 2020

Corruption

Derek Chauvin Found GUILTY of Murdering George Floyd

Elias Marat

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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man whose death at Chauvin’s hands last May sparked a long period of unrest and major protests against policing and racism in America.

After deliberating for about 10 hours over two days, the jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter for the killing of Floyd on a street corner last year on Memorial Day.

The second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. The third-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, and second-degree manslaughter can carry up to 10 years.

In harrowing video footage from the May 25, 2020, incident that has been seen billions of times across the globe, Chauvin could be seen kneeling on the neck of Floyd for over nine minutes while fellow Minneapolis officers Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane stood by. Meanwhile, a horrified crowd of bystanders filmed and pled with officers as the event transpired.

On Monday, the prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments to the jury.

Prosecutors argued that Chauvin’s actions directly led to Floyd dying from low oxygen, or asphyxia. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said that Chauvin “chose pride over policing,” calling his actions “unnecessary, gratuitous and disproportionate.” He also reminded the jury that Chauvin’s hundreds of hours of training over the course of 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department should have led to a different outcome than Floyd’s death during a crisis.

The prosecution also focused on the fact that Chauvin knee was on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

The defense, however, argued that Floyd’s use of illegal drugs and a pre-existing heart condition were to blame and that “the totality of the circumstances,” including exposure to carbon monoxide, led to his death in police custody.

38 witnesses were called by prosecutors, including the teenager who recorded the widely seen video that has been played endlessly over the past year. She and other bystanders testified that they remain haunted by Floyd’s death. The defense called seven witnesses, including two experts.

Floyd’s death rekindled a long-seething anger over police brutality and racial oppression in the United States, with cities across the U.S. and the world rising up in protest over his killing and the killings of other victims of law enforcement.

President Joe Biden had expressed his wish for “the right verdict” without specifying explicitly whether the verdict would be guilty or not guilty. Biden had been careful not to comment on a potential outcome in Chauvin’s trial while urging calm.  

Residents, activists and journalists descended on the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis when the announcement was made at 2:30 pm local time that the verdict has been reached. The crowd greeted the judge’s announcement of Chauvin’s guilty charges with applause and cheers.

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Good News

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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Bizarre

Scientists Create First-Ever Embryos With Monkey and Human Cells

Elias Marat

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For the first time, scientists have created embryos in a lab that contain the cells of both humans and monkeys.

Scientists hope that by creating chimeric embryos – embryos containing cells from two distinct species – they might be able to create organs for people who desperately need transplants.

Over 100,000 people in the United States lone are currently on a waiting list for organ transplants crucial to saving their lives, but the supply of donor organs has dropped significantly since the pandemic began unfolding.

Researchers have attempted to inject human stem cells into the embryos of pigs and sheep in recent years in hopes of growing organs for transplants, but this hasn’t yielded positive results. Scientists are hoping that by turning to macaque monkeys, which share a greater genetic similarity to humans, they may have more success.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell, researchers in the U.S. and China injected 25  pluripotent stem cells from humans into embryos from macaque monkeys.

After one day, the researchers detected human cells beginning to grow in 132 of the embryos. They embryos ultimately survived for 19 days.

However, bioethicists have raised concerns about the potential for abusing medical regulations that currently govern the treatment of animal and human subjects, as well as the possibility that a rogue scientists might potentially spike living creatures with human cells.

“My first question is: Why?” Kirstin Matthews, a science and technology fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, told NPR. “I think the public is going to be concerned, and I am as well, that we’re just kind of pushing forward with science without having a proper conversation about what we should or should not do.”

Researchers insist that the study serves purely humanitarian goals that could save countless lives in the future.

“This work is an important step that provides very compelling evidence that someday when we understand fully what the process is we could make them develop into a heart or a kidney or lungs,” said University of Michigan professor Jeffrey Platt, who was not involved in the study.

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