When Superstars Give Back: Charity Benefit Concerts

When tragedy strikes, most everyone is eager to help. Experienced philanthropists and those with expertise in rebuilding communities are equipped to handle such situations. But what about those part of the world’s entertainment industries? Celebrities such as Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres, and George Clooney have been known to endorse a number of charities–but it seems music superstars want in on the goodwill too. Here are some of the biggest benefit concerts held throughout the years.

Broadway for Orlando:

“In the case of charitable endeavors, you want to know that it’s doing good,”

Concert for Bangladesh:

The… concerts raised close to $250,000 US, but the subsequent album and video recordings of the show eventually boosted the donation to approximately $12 million US.

And most recently, One Love Manchester:

One Love Manchester Emergency Fund, created by Manchester City Council and the British Red Cross to support victims and their families, “help alleviate suffering and ensure [they] do not face short-term financial difficulties.”

However, not all charity concerts see success to its end. The Concert for Bangladesh encountered issues with the Internal Revenue Service after failing to properly communicate with UNICEF while the Hope For Haiti funds (which pledged over $9 billion) were ultimately mishandled and lost.

While I am no expert in the politics of major charitable foundations, smaller-scale fundraisers should turn to goal-setting to monitor where exactly donations go.

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Difficult Conversations You Need To Have With Your Significant Other

How many kids to have, whether or not to share a bank account, and where to host a dream wedding don’t make first-date conversations. In fact, you may end up with a runaway date and dinner bill all to yourself. But somewhere along the road, they become increasingly relevant, especially when long-term partnership is in the books.

Whether you have been together for a year or five, these are the conversations you definitely need to have with your significant other.

Once a relationship has been defined (or DTR’d, for millennial readers), it is crucial to lay down your expectations of one another. Are you a private person? And if so, how much of your relationship are you willing to openly share on social media? While it is not uncommon to experience the occasional bout of insecurity, do you expect your partner to provide you with updates throughout the day? Whatever the case, it is important to express your expectations, within reasonable limits.

The popular saying, “opposites attract” is the case for some couples. However, it isn’t always fun and games when your notions and ideas clash. Beliefs are a vital area of discussion, especially if you hail from two polarizing backgrounds. If you are a devout animal rights activist, can you stomach a partner who loves steak and frites? Appreciating the politics of another is something that is naturally realized between two people–but couples exist on a different level of intimacy, which is not always as simple as it seems.

It remains inevitable for a couple to engage in the periodic argument. Perhaps he had forgotten to do the groceries or she forgot to let the dog out to do his business. Regardless, a means of communication must be established. Are you the type who is confrontational? Do you need time to gather your thoughts before discussing the issue at hand? Your partner must eventually familiarize themselves with your habits–how you get a point across. Addressing how your partner thinks he or she can best handle a difficult situation may not be the most comfortable discussion (in fact, we know it isn’t). Instead, recall a particular argument you may have had and analyze how your significant other handled the situation.

Meeting a serious partner’s family is always a formidable moment. While it may be intimidating, it is also exciting and something that should be discussed beforehand. Talking about your family relationships is a topic that shouldn’t be avoided. Your mother may prefer quiet brunches on Sundays while his or hers may be boisterous and all about nightlife. Find common ground–an activity both parties can appreciate. Know how to approach your partner’s relatives. Maybe they are soft-spoken. Maybe they are loud. Nevertheless, it isn’t about being impressive. It’s about demonstrating your best qualities and showing nothing but respect.

Talks about the future may be fun and casual, but this will not always be the case. Together with your partner, enumerate your goals as a couple. What do you foresee when the honeymoon phase comes to an end? Do you plan to live in the city or perhaps somewhere more remote? Agree to compromise when you can’t completely see eye-to-eye.


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Printing Paper Is Saving Trees

Have you ever attended a paper-free lecture class where subject readings were circulated online to ‘protect the environment’? My university career consisted of printing on both sides, because saving more paper meant saving more trees. If you are anything like I was in university, HP thinks you may be wasting your efforts, as there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between printing and saving trees.

“Printing by itself is actually a very environmentally friendly technology,” [said Enrique Lores, president of the company’s printing business]

“We have done a lot of work to understand where the paper comes from. It is coming from trees that were planted to become paper. It’s not coming from the forest in the Amazon.”

Have your notions of where paper comes from now been shattered? Mine certainly have. Printing more paper equals planting more trees. It’s far from deforestation. In fact, it’s referred to as sustainable forestry.

To meet the voluntary [Forest Stewardship Council] criteria, forest managers have to demonstrate that their land is ecologically intact and complies with conservation laws.

In addition to supporting sustainable forests, HP is also stepping up its efforts to recycle ink cartridges, including a new project to buy plastic from discarded bottles in Haiti.

However, while sustainable forestry has its benefits, not everyone is a fan. The Rainforest Foundation in the United Kingdom is advocating stricter government regulation on the use of forests.

Are you going on a printing spree?

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How Slowing Down Can Help You Focus

In an era where most of our desires are fulfilled almost instantaneously, it is often hard for us to take a moment to reflect. We strive to achieve our goals at the bat of an eyelash. What we often forget is that slowing down allows us to be more conscious and mindful of our environment.

In our rapidly changing world, we value speed and efficiency.  However, there is something to be gained by being slow if slow can make you more present, more mindful, and more aware of other people’s perspectives.

Ever heard the phrase good things come to those who wait? Apparently, it’s true.

As a more common example today, a slow Internet connection frustrates most of us.  However, it also makes for more mindful searches and more focus and slower consumption of what they yield.

Today, there are parts of our life that emphasize the benefits of being slow, ranging from a “slow food movement” to “slow parenting” to “slow jogging” to the mindful slowing associated with a meditation.

We are always seeking ways to prevent aging–and yet we demand to accomplish things at the drop of a hat (or in this day and age, a Facebook notification). As the saying goes, think of today as a gift because, after all, it is the present.

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BMW Goes Electric: Energy Saving Buses

Ever watch a sci-fi film and gush about how flying cars would be so much more practical and environmental? While this remains a distant reality, modern-day vehicles are becoming increasingly more sustainable by the decade. Cars by Honda, Fiat, and Nissan are now transitioning into electrical energy, incorporating lithium-ion battery cells for efficiency. Now, BMW is gearing up to introduce electric buses into our daily commutes.

Electric bus upstart Proterra shifted into a higher gear… with another substantial funding round: a $55 million infusion led by Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and the corporate venture arm of German automaker BMW.

“More than ever before, cities are looking for smart and sustainable transportation solutions that can reduce pollution efficiently and effectively,”

“Proterra is incredibly well-positioned to help accelerate the growth of sustainable cities and continue our transition to a clean energy economy.”

“To better serve our customers, we want battery buses that travel longer distances and can carry more people,”

The primary markets for electric buses are the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The buses, as most new technologies do, come at a substantial price. Proterra also hopes to improve urban air quality and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, we can ease the backlash of climate change by using public transport and investing in more environmentally-friendly cars.

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It’s Not Okay To Judge People Who Buy Puppies From Pet Stores

I am a self-proclaimed dog enthusiast. I was born second to a beautiful German Shepherd named Greta, who was part of a six-litter family, her mother owned by our next-door neighbor. She didn’t so much take to strangers and despite her somewhat hostile demeanor, lived twelve blissful years. I have since owned two other dogs–Bruce, a lazy Beagle who went to my sister when I left for university, and Charley, a nine-year-old retriever-spitz who can no longer take on my wretched staircase.

Charley is a rescue, and granted, I get a lot of praise for taking on an ill senior dog. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a commendable thing. Special needs animals demand a hell of a lot more time and attention. I often hear that “Every dog deserves a second chance.” So why don’t pet store animals seem to have the same privilege?

Puppy mill rescues are often highly commended because dogs are mishandled, most ending up with diseases like Parvo and distemper. Many of these animals end up in Petcos across the nation, and yet potential owners are discouraged from purchasing them by animal rights groups.

Understandably, a rise in the pet store market will keep puppy mills in business. But what is the distinction between “rescuing” an animal from a mill and “rescuing” an animal from a pet store?

Perhaps the issue doesn’t lie with where an animal comes from, but rather, in responsible breeding. People often turn to pet stores due to the variety of breeds they boast. While it wouldn’t be impossible, finding a “trendier” dog (such as a Pug or French Bulldog) wouldn’t be a likely scenario at a shelter.

Puppy millers make it their business to achieve two things: quantity and diversity. More breeds, higher interest. More puppies, higher income. And in certain climates, breed does matter. Huskies, for example, who are naturally thick-maned, are not likely to thrive in tropical countries, whereas smaller breeds with shorter fur (such as the Chihuahua) would suffer in areas with harsh winters.

Breeders need to eliminate the notion of breeding smart and instead breed native. I had once been sent a collection of charts matching particular breeds to their domestic origins and–spoiler alert–Huskies hail from Russia.

Allergies, which affect 30% of adults and 40% of children, also remain to be an issue for those seeking a suitable pet. More often than not, a person with severe allergies will have very limited to no choices at a shelter–in fact, some dogs remain longtime residents at local pounds because their owner had allergies.

Like most pressing issues that circulate, the puppy mill epidemic demands awareness. We need to see an influx in pet owners who are well-educated in Pets 101.

Stop supporting notoriously bad breeders. One simple reason for their existence? Owners who refuse to pay full-price for a puppy birthed and raised with care. The whole “you get what you give” thing? Totally applicable.

Spay and neuter your pets and know when you are ready for another one. Contemplating a new addition to the family may be easy when your dog is in heat. But what happens when your single new addition turns out to be five puppies over?

Report abuse. We can’t singlehandedly shut down all the world’s puppy mills, but we can attack the problem from its source.

Free yourself from judgment. Don’t attempt to sway a person from his or her decisions. You may find yourself barking up the wrong tree, pun fully intended.

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Crickets For Dinner Anyone?

I, more than the rest of my family, am adventurous with my meals. Spicy, sweet, or made with unique ingredients, it’s likely I’d never be put off from trying something new. “Little-Food” in Brussels, which promotes cricket-infused dishes, is definitely something I’m checking off my bucket list.

Eating crickets is significantly better for the environment, often touted as a valuable solution to food shortages and a way of combating the negative environmental effects of meat production.

Little-Food sells all kinds of crickets.

Little-Food sells the crunchy crickets in grocery shops and serves them up in a variety of flavours, including garlic and tomato. The insects can even be turned into flour and used as a protein rich ingredient for baking.

According to Little-Food cricket breeder Nikolaas Viaene, crickets that produce the same amount of protein that a single cow does requires less food, less water, and produces much less greenhouse gases.

Looks like it’s time to leave our comfort zones for a bit more crunch. Would you give cricket pizza a try?

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Have A Drink At The UK’s Only Pub And Zoo

I have grown up with zoos. I was the first in my class to see a panda which, according to my first-grade teacher, is the world’s most useless animal. Zoos were easily my go-to when my parents suggested a trip out of town. I have spent birthdays with apes, celebrated good grades with camels, and graduated with giraffes. As an adult, while my fondness of zoos has remained, I’d prefer to stare at zebras with a glass of wine in hand. At the Fenn Bell Inn in the U.K., you can do just that!

The pub zoo, in St Mary Hoo, Kent, is the brainchild of landlord and animal lover Andy Cowell.

Mr Cowell took over the pub in 2014 and housed his collection of exotic animals in the garden.

Now he has opened his zoo to the public, who will be able to see four different breeds of monkeys, genets (an African wild cat), meerkats, lemurs, birds of prey, raccoons and South American coatis.

While many of the animals at Fenn Bell, who are rejected from various keepers, are given a second shot at a comfortable life, keeping them doesn’t come cheap. Weekly upkeep hits around £700–or 233 pints of beer!

So what are you waiting for? Book a trip and treat yourself to a pint of draft beer. After all, you’d probably be paying for a parrot’s next meal!

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One Tree With The Power Of Hundreds

Want to save the world? Plant more trees. While it is perfectly good advice, it’s an exhausted tirade–hardly anyone does it. So should we give up? German startup Green City Solutions, which has recently come out with the CityTree, certainly doesn’t think so.

The CityTree is not a tree per se, but actually a densely packed moss culture, vertically housed in an unit that blends in with its urban surroundings.

In an area of 3.5 square metres, the CityTree does the equivalent job of 275 trees of filtering the air of fine dust, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide.

Now that’s impressive. But why use moss? And how exactly does the CityTree work?

“Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants.”

The installation powers itself through its solar panels, and rainwater is collected and automatically redistributed using a built-in irrigation system. Sensors can be added so that data can be collected on the CityTree’s performance.

The CityTree also serves as an analog billboard, if its environmental functions haven’t impressed quite enough. Units have been installed in Oslo, Paris, Brussels, and Hong Kong, with plans to expand to India and Italy, as well as the Americas.

Now, if only I could fit a CityTree in my apartment.

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Surgical Robot Is Ridiculously Fast

There is much debate as to whether certain jobs should be handed over to artificial intelligences or remain to be carried out by a human workforce. Human error plays a huge role in why most industries choose to replace employees with machines. Researchers from the University of Utah are helping to minimize these risks with a new robot that can complete complicated procedures up to 50 times quicker than its human counterparts.

The robot can reduce the time it takes to drill into the skull from two hours to two-and-a-half minutes.

The robot is guided around vulnerable areas of the skull by data gleaned from CT scans and entered into the robot’s programming.

The CT scans show the programmer the location of nerves or veins that the bot will have to avoid.

Not only is the machine less prone to erring, it is also cutting surgery costs, as shorter surgeries are cheaper. While robotic surgeons are mostly prototypes, the day they become the norm doesn’t seem too far off.

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