Oxford Street To Become Full Pedestrian Zone

The streets of London have been getting some serious makeovers. Select popular boulevards are now energy-harvesting, which are not only high-tech, but also sustainable. To further counter traffic and lower carbon emissions, London mayor Sadiq Kahn is pedestrianizing shopping capital Oxford Street.

“Oxford Street is world famous with millions of visitors every year, and in just over a year the iconic part of the street west of Oxford Circus could be transformed into a traffic-free pedestrian boulevard.”

With over 500,000 visitors daily, Oxford Street is a breeding ground for potential vehicular accidents. (One every week, to be specific) Renovations will also allow easier access to the Elizabeth Line. The project will likely be rewarding — but at a cost of £60 million and years of remodeling.

The western section is due to finish by the end of 2018, with the eastern section between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road going traffic free by December 2019. The final part, by Marble Arch, will then be turned over to pedestrians after 2020.

Without the hazard of passing vehicles, Oxford Street may be double the hot spot it is today.

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Car Rental Group Donates $30 Million To Save Rivers

We may not yet be seeing an end to a number of global long-term issues, but many have since come forward to help. To shoulder educational expenses for underprivileged children, NFL stud Chris Long is playing an entire season for free. On the other side of the spectrum, Petsmart is donating millions of meals to shelter animals. Now tackling the urgent matter of resource depletion is Rent-A-Car, which is pledging $30 million to river conservation.

There are four main parts to this new project, which is known as the “Routes & Roots: Enterprise Healthy Rivers Project.” It is targeting rivers in Mississippi, Colorado, Canada, and Europe.

Rent-A-Car (Enterprise) will be dealing primarily with nutrient runoff and watershed restoration, while working closely with farmers and ranchers. The project is ambitious, but will likely remain afloat thanks to its healthy budget. Granddaughter of Enterprise founder Jack Taylor is optimistic about their vision.

“Our philanthropic focus … reaches beyond to make a difference and improve the quality of life wherever our employees and customers live and work,” noted Carolyn Kindle Betz.

Looks like Enterprise isn’t just about its cars!

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Military Pair Provides Pet Care For Soldiers

When you’re a military veteran, an animal companion makes for good therapy. Thanks to Semper K9 Assistance Dogs, vets suffering from PTSD can easily rely on their new best friend to keep them safe. But what about those on active duty? Pet insurance may take care of an unwanted situation, but won’t provide lodging for your pal. To ease the burden of soldiers with pets, military couple Alisa and Shawn Johnson set up Dogs on Deployment.

Dogs on Deployment [is], a nonprofit that connects members of the military with civilians to board their pets when the need arises. Thanks to a network of volunteer fosters across America, more than 1,100 pets have found temporary care since 2011, including dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles, snakes, rabbits and chickens.

The group is completely volunteer-run, but also works closely with the Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program. So far, $400,000 in grants have allowed military families to provide for their pets remotely.

“DoD brings together two of America’s loves: our support for our troops and love for our pets,” [Johnson] said. “It’s spread 100 percent through word-of-mouth. There’s no other organization doing what we’re doing.”

For pet-loving soldiers, life back home just got a little sweeter.

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Chatbot Will Combat Email Scammers For You

Since Instagram developed a bot to tackle hate speech, developers have been training them to do other things. Apart from trolls and cyberbullies, netizens also often deal with email scammers. It’s now a lot less hassle-free to shut them down — just contact Netsafe’s genius chatbot.

Next time you get a dodgy email in your inbox, says Netsafe, forward it on to me@rescam.org, and a proxy email address will start replying to the scammer for you, doing its very utmost to waste their time.

Re:scam isn’t anything fancy. In fact, it doesn’t even recognize speech. Its responses are random at best, but vague enough to be believable. It may not pull off a bust itself, but it’ll buy you enough time (and evidence) to take action.

Netsafe’s new online gadget may not be the most sophisticated, but it surely is a reflection of what artificial intelligence is truly capable of. And if you’re the type of hold a grudge, it’s the perfect tool for sweet revenge.

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Volkswagen To Debut Electric Zero-Emissions Beetle

Eco-friendly vehicles have come a long way from simply being prototypes. Manufacturers have been ambitious with emissions-free cars, even attempting to assemble them using resin. However, for big names in the industry, keeping it simple is key. Known for its funky appearance, the VW Beetle is getting another makeover — this time, it’s going electric.

“If we wanted to do a Beetle, electrically it would be much better than today’s model, much closer to history, because it could be rear-wheel drive,” said [VW chairman Herbert] Diess.

It may still be in the talks, but VW already has its hands full with an electric version of its classic microbus. Despite their overflowing to-do list, it seems fans of the Bug are on their toes. Thrilled prospective customers have been pleading with the chairman to follow through via letters and e-mails.

VW is aiming for a massive revamp of its vehicles by 2030. While that may seem a long ways away, its $24 billion budget speaks volumes about the group’s potential.

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Sri Lanka To Wipe Gas Vehicles By 2025

When improper waste disposal procedures are producing islands of trash, it may be time to consider the weight of environmental issues. One by one, communities are diverting themselves from fossil fuels to pursue more environmentally friendly energy options. For state-owned vehicles in Sri Lanka, electric and hybrid cars will be stepping in as replacements as early as 2025.

Private owners have until 2040 to replace their cars, tuk-tuks and motorcycles, when the country plans to no longer allow any fossil fuel-burning vehicles on its roads… said [Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera].

Home to roughly 6.8 million vehicles, Sri Lanka’s transition into electric will benefit the country immensely. To encourage a hassle-free switch, the government is encouraging consumers by cutting taxes on electric cars.

“The tax on electric cars will be reduced by over a million rupees (S$8,851) to encourage motorists to switch to clean energy,” Mr. Samaraweera told parliament.

On the other hand, Samaraweera is also hiking carbon and import taxes to discourage keeping gas vehicles. With inflation on the rise, Sri Lanka’s bumpy ride will hopefully segue into smoother (and sustainable) sailing.

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Cult TV Show Helps Raise $400,000 For Museum

Rarely does anyone outdo Bill Gates when it comes to charitable acts — but one can surely try. Popular TV show “Stranger Things” recently set its own record, helping raise $400,000 for the Science Museum of Minnesota. And it was all thanks to a dinosaur hoodie.

Dustin, who is played by Gaten Matarazzo, was seen in the premiere episode of Stranger Things 2 wearing a purple hoodie with a Brontosaurus “Thunder Lizard” logo emblazoned on the front, along with the tagline ‘The Science Museum of Minnesota’.

Selling since the 1980’s, the popular hoodie was so in-demand that fans crashed the museum website for well over a day. Number of hoodies sold? Over 10,000. The proceeds will go to future research, which I’m sure the kids of Stranger Things are all about.

“For us, we’re just relishing this opportunity to be connected to the popular show, especially one that has characters that are interested in science,” [museum public relations officer Kim] Ramsden said.

See, kids? Science is a lot cooler than you think.

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Italy Bans Using Animals In Traveling Circus Shows

Animal activists like Peter Lang don’t fight off wildfires for an entire sanctuary only to see its animals sold to circuses. To ensure that no wild or domesticated animal experiences abuse, Italy is banning wildlife shows in circus acts.

Jan Creamer, ADI (Animal Defenders International) President, said: “Traveling from place to place, week after week, using temporary collapsible cages and pens, circuses simply cannot provide for the needs of the animals.”

With over 2,000 animals forced to perform in 100 circuses, the aftermath of the ban will see a huge sigh of relief. Italy hopes to phase out elephants, bears, tigers, and lions (among others) within a year.

“The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a traveling circus – in terms of housing or being able to express normal behavior.”

Italy joins 40 other countries that have prohibited the use of animals in circuses. Perhaps I may be running out on a limb here, but just maybe will we see a vast improvement in wildlife communities.

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eHighway Electrifies Trucks With Cables

With a rising number of electric buses and taxis headed for the streets, roads are having to undergo adjustments, too. Los Angeles is home to an excess of both trucks and smog. To revamp the deadly duo into something more eco-friendly, Siemens has installed its first electric highway where trucks can charge on-the-go.

“To have the road electrified and have these heavy trucks electrified is just far more efficient from the perspective that you don’t waste fuel, you save energy because the electric motor is far more efficient than the gas motor, and you have no emissions at all,” says Andreas Thon, the head of turnkey projects and electrification in North America.

The trucks are rigged onto overhead wires that run the entire length of the highway. The trucks themselves are cost-efficient, requiring significantly less maintenance than diesel motors. The highway also alleviates battery problems, as they don’t generate enough energy for heavy loads.

Thon says, “With this technology, you permanently feed energy into the truck.”

Siemens also hopes to install charging technology beneath road surfaces — but that will have to wait. After all, it does require a lot more science and a lot more money.

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U.S. District Officials Ban Poison Traps In Colorado

Since the Chilean government snubbed a billion-dollar mining project to save endangered penguins, other executives have been following suit. To prevent accidental deaths, district officials in Colorado have placed a ban on cyanide traps.

“Today’s agreement is the latest step in ensuring the federal government and the state of Colorado follow the law and the best science in managing wildlife,”

The M-44 device is spring activated, shooting poison at potential farming predators. Though meant primarily for coyotes, the M-44 has injured an Idaho teen, also subsequently killing his dog. Known for its leniency with hunting measures, Colorado isn’t making an impression on activists. The ban marks its first steps towards respecting endangered wildlife populations.

“This agreement represents a sign of good faith moving forward to do the right thing when it comes to Colorado’s wildlife and ecosystems,” [said] Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center.

In just 15 states, over 16,500 traps have been deployed. Since raccoon corpses aren’t really my thing (nor do I think they’re anyone else’s) the ban is doing us and nature a favor.

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