| Good News Stories from around the World
Friday July 31st 2015

Welcome to Good News Stories

Here at Good News Stories we bring you upbeat news stories from around the World.

BBC to cut jobs with enforced cutbacks

After years of sending their staff on jollies at the expense of the British tax payer through the stealth tax that is the BBC TV Licence, finally the technological age has caught up with Auntie.

After showing complete left wing bias during the 2015 General Election the BBC is facing the fact that there is a £150m shortfall in funding and the gravy train is going to be soon hitting the buffers.

Looking for travel insurance over age of 85 then visit the various comparison sites.

Various BBC stories from around the web.

From CITYAM

The BBC will cut over 1,000 jobs due to a £150m shortfall in its licence fee income, director Lord Tony Hall has confirmed.

With the number of households owning television sets falling as audience’s consumption practices change, the broadcaster’s income from license fee subscriptions has diminished.

The BBC said the financial challenges “means additional savings must now be found” and that it aims to save £50m from the slim down.

Hall said creating a “simpler, leaner, BBC is the right thing to do and it can also help us meet the financial challenges we face.

“We’ve already significantly cut the costs of running the BBC,” he explained, “but in times of very tough choices we need to focus on what really matters – delivering outstanding programmes and content for all our audiences.”

Professional and support areas will be most affected by the cuts, management layers will be removed and the number of its overall divisions reduced as part of Hall’s wide-ranging attempts to improve efficiency and make savings at the broadcaster.

Wage restraints, pay-off caps and a reduction in senior managers have already been implemented as part of his remodelling plan. Properties have also been vacated and sold off in order to cut costs – last month its Media Village site in White City was sold and sublet for £87m.

The £145.5 annual licence fee has been an issue of much contention in recent weeks, after culture secretary John Whittingdale called it “regressive” and argued it hit the poor the hardest.

However, Hall has said the licence hee has got “10 years life in it”.

From the Press Gazette

he BBC is to cut more than 1,000 jobs, including many managerial roles, the corporation has announced.

The cuts come as the corporation seeks to become “simpler, leaner and more effective for the future”.

They were announced by director general Tony Hall in a speech to staff this morning from the BBC’s Media Cafe. It was streamed on the corporation’s intranet.

The cuts announcement comes after reports the BBC discovered a £150m shortfall in funding from licence fee in 2016/17.

The cuts would amount to around one in 20 BBC staff going.

The BBC said it could deliver £50m in savings from “merging divisions, cutting down management layers, reducing managers and improving processes”. It said that more than 1,000 jobs would be lost as a result.

Asked where the other £100m – making up the rest of the shortfall – would come from, a BBC spokesperson said this would be announced “in due course”.

The BBC said it would reduce the number of divisions by “joining up technology teams across Digital, Engineering and Worldwide”, and said: “Further changes are also possible.”

It has also pledged to “reduce the number of layers from the top to the bottom of the organisation. In some places there are currently ten layers of people and management and this will be cut to a maximum of seven in the future.”

The statement also said that the BBC will “reduce management roles in all areas of the BBC. A simpler organisation will inevitably require fewer managers, especially at senior levels.”

And it will also bid to “simplify and standardise procedures across the BBC particularly looking at how professional and support areas such as marketing and communication, finance, HR, IT support and legal are structured and can be simplified.”

In a statement this morning, the corporation said: “Over recent years the BBC has built an impressive savings record that will deliver over £1.5bn of savings a year by 2017. Much of this has been done through cutting administration and property costs, pay and headcount restraint, plus tough decisions like more daytime repeats and shared sports rights.

“A new independent study by PwC being published today ranks the BBC amongst the most efficient organisations in the public and regulated private sectors. Overhead costs are approximately 8 per cent of total costs and will fall to 7 per cent – well below both the public sector average of 11.2 per cent and the regulated industry average of 8.8 per cent.

“Despite the progress already made, and the realities of the licence fee being frozen for seven years, a new financial challenge means additional savings must now be found.

“The licence fee income in 2016/17 is now forecast to be £150m less than it was expected to be in 2011. This is because as more people use iPlayer, mobiles and online catch-up, the number of households owning televisions is falling. It also provides further evidence of the need for the licence fee to be modernised to cover digital services.”

Director General Tony Hall said: “A simpler, leaner, BBC is the right thing to do and it can also help us meet the financial challenges we face.

“We’ve already significantly cut the costs of running the BBC, but in times of very tough choices we need to focus on what really matters – delivering outstanding programmes and content for all our audiences.”

Big UK supermarket Tescos makes a record loss

Every little doesn’t always help!

Tesco’s is the UK’s largest supermarket and is famous for squeezing farmers and food producers. It’s also famous for poor quality food and ruining small local retailers, therefore the group’s latest loss figures is very much a good news story.

Here is what some of the other media outlets are saying…

From the UK Telegraph…

Here is some of the reaction from analysts:

Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital, said: “To say that Tesco had a nightmare year in FY2015 would be an under-statement, an out-turn that would simply have been unfathomable in days gone by. The whys and wherefores of how Tesco reached this somewhat unedifying position have been well documented to our minds, and so perhaps the key take-away for investors from CEO, Dave Lewis’, first set of preliminary results should be what of the future.”
Bruno Monteyne at Bernstein: “The press headlines will be dominated by the loss, we instead focus on the pension deficit, which has not expanded as much as some had feared, the lack of any hidden surprises and the solid trading performance coming through in the UK.”

From the UK Guardian…

The annual result was worse than the City’s most dire predictions that the group would fall £5bn into the red. Chief executive Dave Lewis said he had tried to make a break with Tesco’s recent history by accounting for all likely events.

But Lewis warned that the food retail market remained “challenging” and that, despite signs of improving sales, Tesco’s performance would be volatile for some time to come.

Lewis, who joined Tesco in September, said: “We’ve got a long, long way to go and I don’t think it will be smooth as we move through the changes we want to make. We have sought to draw a line under the past and to rebuild from here. Everything we know [about] we have dealt with.”

The former Unilever executive was drafted in to turn around the fortunes of Britain’s biggest retailer following a series of profit warnings amid a ferocious price war with rivals.

So what is the future for big supermarkets in the UK? Well other big players such as Sainsburys, Morrison and Wal Mart’s ASDA are all struggling.

Could this mean the end of the supermarket in Britain and restoring of the small independent shops.

 

Across Britain, the high street is in decline. The effects ripple through our communities. A major factor in this decline is the relentless rise of large supermarkets.

From Local Works – Supermarkets lead to local shops closing

Over 80% of independent shops on our high streets have closed.[1] Our local butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and bakeries are shutting down. Meanwhile, hundreds of new supermarkets are opening, and supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s are increasing the number of local convenience stores they own.

There is a devastating lack of choice for local people buying groceries because of the rise of the supermarkets: nowadays, supermarkets control a whopping 97% of the grocery market.[2]

Supermarkets take money out of local communities

Half of the turnover of an independent local retailer goes back into the local community, while just 5% of the turnover of a supermarket does.[3] They take money out of communities and put into the hands of profit-hungry supermarket bosses.

Supermarkets lead to fewer local jobs

Every time a new supermarket opens, 276 jobs are lost locally.[4] Between 2008 and 2010, the big supermarkets Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, pledged to create 67,000 new jobs. They fell far short of this target, creating just 28, 217 jobs.[5]

In 2011, supermarket giants expanded their floorspace by 2,750,000 square feet. You might expect this to lead to more jobs. The opposite happened: the total number of people employed by these companies fell by over 400.[6]

Supermarkets harm the environment

A staggering 17 billion portions of fruit and vegetables are left to rot by supermarkets, rejected because they are not considered “uniform”. To reach the standards supermarkets demand, intensive farming techniques are necessary, with a limited variety of food grown and use of chemicals to keep the fruit looking perfect.[7]

Up to 30% of the UK’s vegetable crop is never even harvested because the perfectly edible vegetables fail look how supermarkets want them to[7]. Supermarkets also demand that the food travels well, because food sold in supermarkets travels a lot further…

Most of the year, English apples are available, but only 25% of apples consumed in the UK are grown here. In fact, 90% of apples sold in our supermarkets are grown in France. The largest retailers have centralised distribution, meaning there is an enormous distance between producer, packager, distributor and ultimate retail outlet[8]. In order to supply food at short notice delivery lorries are often half-empty.[8]

Also travel insurance for the over 75 age group is also sold by most supermarkets now including Sainsburys for instance.

Supermarkets also produce vast quantities of waste that cannot be recycled. Items are overpackaged, and a total of 6.4 billion non-recyclable carrier bags were given to supermarket customers in 2010.[9]

Some of the happiest places, nations and states

There are many reports out there that list the happiest places in the World and we thought we’d list some of the most popular ones. From nations to cities and states, there are certain places in the world that just seem happier. Why is this and what makes a happy place? Well maybe our listings can throw some light on that!

cornish beach

happy beach, happy days!

HAPPIEST NATIONS, TOP FIVE

What’s the secret to these happy countries – is it the location, environment, politics, culture, or just something in the water?

While we may never know the precise reasons, after compiling data from various resources like the Happy Planet Index, the World Happiness report, and Forbes’ list of happiest countries,

we can at least let you know what the 10 happiest countries in the world are.

Then, all that’s left for you to do is pack your bags, pick a country, and make your move.

COSTA RICA

Not only does Costa Rica abound with natural beauty, from the sandy beaches and ocean waters to the volcanoes and lush rainforests, but the people of this army-free country also report having one of the highest life satisfactions in the world. With a high life expectancy of 79.3 years, locals get to enjoy the pleasant living for years and years. It’s no wonder that their local saying, “pura vida”, loosely translates to “life is good”.

NORWAY

It’s not surprising that Norway tends to rank very high on world happiness reports – it’s one of the most prosperous countries in the world, has the 2nd highest level of satisfaction with standards of living, and three quarters of its residents report that they have more positive than negative experiences each day. The country is also one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth, with an abundance of fjords, glaciers, and mountains.

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland is simply stunning, with its towering snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes, and environments that range from lush to frozen. Its people are also some of the happiest, with higher than average life expectancies, strong health rankings, plenty of community involvement, and great safety. Plus, in a place that’s known for its abundance of delectable chocolate, how could you ever be sad?

VIETNAM

According to several reports, Vietnam is the happiest country in all of Asia. Residents have a very high level of satisfaction with their life, enjoying the gorgeous beaches, green mountains, dramatic scenery, and mouthwatering regional cuisine.

AUSTRALIA

Don’t let all the sharks, snakes, and venomous spiders fool you – Australians are some of the happiest in the world. Not only do they live in one of the most adored spots on earth (who wouldn’t like sunny skies, coral reefs, and white sand beaches?), but they also rank high in many life-happiness categories; they have some of the highest scores for community engagement, health, environmental care, and employment.

Other countries that could have easily made our list include New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Austria and Germany.

 

HAPPIEST U.S. STATES

Here is a list of the happiest U.S. states by most measures. It is interesting how the top two are not part of the 48!

Alaska
Hawaii
South Dakota
Wyoming
Montana

Why is Hawaii so popular when it is actually quites expensive?

Living in Hawaii and Housing Cost

To rent a place in Hawaii is significantly more expensive than in most places on the U.S. mainland. A studio on Oahu, for example, costs anywhere from $700-$1,200+ per month, depending on the location. A two-bedroom apartment or a house typically starts from $1,500 per month and up. Luxurious newly-built one-bedroom condos typically rent for $2,500 and up.

When looking at the average wage people make in Hawaii, it is clear that it falls far short of the average wage required to rent a two-bedroom apartment, according to 2013 data made available by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Hawaii is currently $1,671. To be able to afford this rent without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household has to earn $5,571 per month or $66,853 per year.

On the other hand Alaska seems more affordable…

The cost of living in many cities throughout Alaska is affordable and is significantly less expensive than San Francisco, Honolulu, Manhattan and a handful of other U.S. cities.

The state’s best offerings are free

And that’s not all. Places like Anchorage and Fairbanks provide all the conveniences of large cities, but without the congestion and hassles. Commutes can be shorter, so you don’t need to burn a lot of gas. There are greenbelts and parks everywhere with access to dozens of activities for families: world-class fishing, skiing, snow machining, ice skating, sledding, hiking, biking and rafting are just a stone’s throw away. And taking advantage of them doesn’t require money for a plane ticket and hotel. Open spaces are right out your front door. In other words, the best parts of Alaska are completely free!

HAPPIEST CITIES ON EARTH – YOUR TOP FIVE

Copenhagen, Denmark

There’s something annoyingly amazing about the Danes. Just 5.5 million people live in a country half the size of Ireland, and yet they’ve managed to create some of the best welfare models, restaurants and TV shows on earth.

Florianopolis, Brazil

Where? Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be the first to ask. But readers of ‘Conde Nast Traveller’ recently voted Florianapolis the world’s friendliest city. Happy days: Brazil is enjoying a big couple of years, hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne retains the crown of “most liveable” city in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Livability Report for 2014. In plain English, that puts the Australian city top of the pile when it comes to stability, healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna occupies the No.1 spot on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, ranking for several years now as global consulting companies’ top city (Zurich and Auckland followed as second and third)

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver may have more Starbucks than soul, but it’s rarely absent from lists of the world’s happiest, most livable and beautiful cities. Most recently, it finished third behind Melbourne and Vienna on The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2014 Global Livability Report.

Uplifting news for a new year

Here at Good News Stories we like to bring the latest good news from around the World, here is a selection of uplifting news stories that we have come across in the last month. With help from Reddit’s Uplifting News.

DOG FINDS NEW HOME

A dog that was overlooked by 14,000 potential owners has found a home in County Durham, the Dogs Trust has said.

Jed, a seven-year-old lurcher, had been with the trust in Sadberge, Darlington, on-and-off since he was four months old.

After they saw an appeal on the BBC website, Jed was given a new home by Ian Woodcock and Elizabeth Marsh.

The couple said he was settling in “really well” with the family and they “absolutely adore him”.

The trust said he had been taken in by several families in the past but in each case, due to their circumstances changing, he had to be returned.

Jed now enjoys long walks on the moors, snoozing by the fire and helping Mr Woodcock with the gardening.

ANOTHER DOGGIE STORY FROM SEATTLE 

A black Labrador named Eclipse just wants to get to the dog park. So if her owner takes too long finishing his cigarette, and their bus arrives, she climbs aboard solo and rides to her stop – to the delight of fellow Seattle bus passengers.

KOMO-TV reports that local radio host Miles Montgomery was amazed to see the pooch get off the bus, without an owner, at a dog park last week.

The dog and her owner, Jeff Young, live right near a bus stop.

In Young’s words, “She’s a bus-riding, sidewalk-walking dog.” Young says his dog sometimes gets on the bus without him, and he catches up with her at the dog park three or four stops away.

Bus riders report she hops onto seats next to strangers, and watches out the window for her stop. Says commuter Tiona Rainwater, “All the bus drivers know her … she makes everybody happy.”

A Metro Transit spokesman says the agency loves that a dog appreciates public transit.

HARRY POTTER FANS HELP WITH CHILD SLAVERY FIGHT

Right before Christmas, Warner Bros. quietly gave “Harry Potter” fans what was, for some of them, a long-wished-for gift. In a letter to Andrew Slack, the founder of the Harry Potter Alliance, Joshua Berger, the company’s president for Harry Potter Global Franchise Development, announced, “By the end of 2015, and sooner when possible, all Harry Potter chocolate products sold at Warner Bros. outlets and through our licensed partners will be 100-percent UTZ or Fair Trade certified.”

It’s the sort of victory that, in the past, might have been the result of a pressure campaign by trade advocates or union groups, employing the language of globalization and living wages. But Warner Bros.’ commitment to new standards for cocoa production grew out of pressure from and dialogue with “Harry Potter” devotees who wanted to see the franchise live up to the ideals their fictional hero fought for. The win comes after four years of organizing. And it’s a fascinating symbol of what activism might look like when it’s animated by fiction rather than political parties and when fans form coalitions with devoted advocates.

When Slack and his co-creators founded the Harry Potter Alliance in 2005, they were animated by the idea that J.K. Rowling’s novels, inspired both by her own experiences with poverty and her work at Amnesty International, could be a powerful source of moral precepts and ideas about how to build a more just world. They made videos about Walmart, comparing the corporation to Voldemort, the “Harry Potter” novels’ totalitarian villain, and started a large book drive. But over time their ambitions grew, applying a similar approach to Suzanne Collins’s dystopian exploration of inequality, “The Hunger Games,” and considering how alliance members might be convinced to move from what Slack refers to as “charity and acts of service” to more direct advocacy.

“It’s all well and good to send the silver parachutes,” Slack told me in an interview last week, referring to the care packages that “Hunger Games” characters can send participants during televised fights to the death, “But the Games are still the Games.”

ARRESTED TEEN HELPS POLICE

Teenager Jamal Rutledge was being booked after his arrest when the officer processing him collapsed and clenched his chest in pain. Apparently, there were no hard feelings on Rutledge’s part, because he immediately did all he could to alert officers nearby.

He kicked the facility’s security fence to make noise and yelled out for help. Officers quickly responded by cutting off officer Franklin Foulks’ vest, performing CPR and using a defibrilator to stimulate Foulks’ heart.

Rutldege’s actions, back in September, helped save Foulks’ life. Now the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is honoring him and the other officers for their actions.

15Ways to being a happier person

Good News Stories is all about making you feel positive and we’d like to share some of that good energy with a few ways to be a happier person!

cornish beach

Go to the beach!

Don’t Worry, Choose Happy

The first step, however, is to make a conscious choice to boost your happiness. In his book, The Conquest of Happiness, published in 1930, the philosopher Bertrand Russell had this to say: “Happiness is not, except in very rare cases, something that drops into the mouth, like a ripe fruit. … Happiness must be, for most men and women, an achievement rather than a gift of the gods, and in this achievement, effort, both inward and outward, must play a great part.”

Today, psychologists who study happiness heartily agree. The intention to be happy is the first of The 9 Choices of Happy People listed by authors Rick Foster and Greg Hicks in their book of the same name.

“Intention is the active desire and commitment to be happy,” they write. “It’s the decision to consciously choose attitudes and behaviors that lead to happiness over unhappiness.”

Change and adapt.

Society is a changeable commodity. We need to change and adapt. If you sit too tightly on your chair, you will not be happy.

Not many things are certain in life, but two things are: We all will die; and more importantly, things will change. Your job won’t last forever, your kids will grow up, your house will age, and your spouse will change.

We all need to change and adapt. Take the opportunity to have fun with it. See it as a positive.

Foster Forgiveness

Holding a grudge and nursing grievances can affect physical as well as mental health, according to a rapidly growing body of research. One way to curtail these kinds of feelings is to foster forgiveness. This reduces the power of bad events to create bitterness and resentment, say Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons, happiness researchers who edited The Psychology of Happiness.

In his book, Five Steps to Forgiveness, clinical psychologist Everett Worthington Jr. offers a 5-step process he calls REACH. First, recall the hurt. Then empathize and try to understand the act from the perpetrator’s point of view. Be altruistic by recalling a time in your life when you were forgiven. Commit to putting your forgiveness into words. You can do this either in a letter to the person you’re forgiving or in your journal. Finally, try to hold on to the forgiveness. Don’t dwell on your anger, hurt, and desire for vengeance.

 

Do things for others

Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them; it’s good for us too. It makes us happier and can help to improve our health. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. It’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good.

Cultivate Gratitude

In his book, Authentic Happiness, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman encourages readers to perform a daily “gratitude exercise.” It involves listing a few things that make them grateful. This shifts people away from bitterness and despair, he says, and promotes happiness.

Take care of your body

Our body and mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as healthier. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of depression. We don’t all have to run marathons – there are simple things we can do to be more active each day. We can also boost our wellbeing by spending time outdoors, eating healthily, unplugging from technology and getting enough sleep. Ensure you have good medical and travel insurance over 85 too if you are holidaying abroad.

Counteract Negative Thoughts and Feelings

As Jon Haidt puts it, improve your mental hygiene. In The Happiness Hypothesis, Haidt compares the mind to a man riding an elephant. The elephant represents the powerful thoughts and feelings — mostly unconscious — that drive your behavior. The man, although much weaker, can exert control over the elephant, just as you can exert control over negative thoughts and feelings.

“The key is a commitment to doing the things necessary to retrain the elephant,” Haidt says. “And the evidence suggests there’s a lot you can do. It just takes work.”

For example, you can practice meditation, rhythmic breathing, yoga, or relaxation techniques to quell anxiety and promote serenity. You can learn to recognize and challenge thoughts you have about being inadequate and helpless.

Follow your dreams

I’m not talking about “a good job,” “a fine house” or “an okay life,” or, for that matter, taking up knitting, which you’ve dreamed about for years. I mean truly and utterly opening the channel to your inner core and seeing what you find. I mean doing what you really want to do with the rest of your life.

Impossible, you say? Well, I don’t mean quitting your job and jumping into the unknown. I mean, setting up a plan and some goals to start doing what you’ve always dreamed about, step-by-step if you like. And when you do, (wo)man will you glow.

Keep learning

Learning affects our wellbeing in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things throughout our lives, not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.

Think positively.

Our thoughts are so powerful that it rocks my soul at the core when I think about it. And yes, we’ve heard it all before. But we humans think so many negative thoughts every day, and it’s in this negative sphere that we live and breathe.

Can you sense the contaminated thought-air? I can. Well then, change it!

Foster Friendship

There are few better antidotes to unhappiness than close friendships with people who care about you, says David G. Myers, author of The Pursuit of Happiness. One Australian study found that people over 70 who had the strongest network of friends lived much longer.

“Sadly, our increasingly individualistic society suffers from impoverished social connections, which some psychologists believe is a cause of today’s epidemic levels of depression,” Myers writes. “The social ties that bind also provide support in difficult times.”

Find ways to bounce back

All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. How we respond to these events has a big impact on our wellbeing. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.

Be comfortable with who you are

Nobody’s perfect. But so often we compare a negative view of ourselves with an unrealistic view of other people. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our wellbeing. It also helps us accept others as they are.

Engage in Meaningful Activities

People are seldom happier, says psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, than when they’re in the “flow.” This is a state in which your mind becomes thoroughly absorbed in a meaningful task that challenges your abilities. Yet, he has found that the most common leisure time activity — watching TV — produces some of the lowest levels of happiness.

To get more out of life, we need to put more into it, says Csikszentmihalyi. “Active leisure that helps a person grow does not come easily,” he writes in Finding Flow. “Each of the flow-producing activities requires an initial investment of attention before it begins to be enjoyable.”

Be part of something bigger

People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find meaning and purpose? It might come from doing a job that makes a difference, our religious or spiritual beliefs, or our family. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.

British Doctors could be on brink of a cure for paralysis

This news could be the biggest of the good news site for many years.

cancer-research

In the UK doctors have maybe made a huge breakthrough in the treatment of paralysis that could give hope to millions around the globe who are confined to wheelchairs.

Here is some video news of the findings…

 

How some of the news papers and agencies are reporting this around the world…

LONDON, United Kingdom – A parayzed Bulgarian man can walk again after receiving revolutionary treatment in Poland in a breakthrough hailed by one of the British scientists responsible as “more impressive than a man walking on the Moon”.

Darek Fidyka was paralyzed from the chest down following a knife attack in 2010, but can now walk using a frame after receiving treatment in which nerve cells from his nose were transplanted into his severed spinal column, according to research published in the journal Cell Transplantation on Tuesday.

 

“When there’s nothing, you can’t feel almost half of your body. You’re helpless, lost,” the patient, who is now recovering at the Akron Neuro-Rehabilitation Center in Wroclaw, told BBC’s Panorama programme.

“When it begins to come back, you feel you’ve started your life all over again, as if you are reborn. It’s an incredible feeling, difficult to describe,” the 40-year-old said.

Specialist olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), which form part of the sense of smell, were used in the treatment as they are pathway cells, enabling nearby nerve fibers to be continually regenerated.

The treatment involved two operations.

Pawel Tabakow, consultant neurosurgeon at Wroclaw University, led a team of surgeons in removing one of the patient’s olfactory bulbs before transplanting cultured cells into the spinal cord.

Scientists think that the cells, implanted above and below the injury, enabled damaged fibres to reconnect.

“What we’ve done is establish a principle, nerve fibres can grow back and restore function, provided we give them a bridge,” said Geoff Raisman, chair of neural regeneration at University College London’s Institute of Neurology, who led the British research team working on the joint project.

“To me, this is more impressive than a man walking on the Moon. I believe this is the moment when paralysis can be reversed.”

Tabakow said it was “amazing to see how regeneration of the spinal cord, something that was thought impossible for many years, is becoming a reality”.

‘Door will open in life’

For two years after sustaining the injury, Fidyka showed no sign of recovery despite intensive five-hour physiotherapy sessions.

The first signs of improvement came three months after the surgery, when his left thigh began putting on muscle.

Three months later, Fidyka was able to take his first steps with the aid of parallel bars and leg braces. He can now walk outside using a frame and has also recovered some feeling in his bladder and bowel.

“I think it’s realistic that one day I will become independent,” said the patient.

“What I have learned is that you must never give up but keep fighting, because some door will open in life.”

The research was funded by the UK Stem Cell Foundation and the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation (NSIF), set up by chef David Nicholls after his son Daniel was paralysed in a 2003 swimming accident.

NSIF has given £1 million ($1.6 million, 1.26 million euros) to researchers in London and £240,000 to the team in Poland. Both camps say they will not seek to profit from the research.

“It would be my proudest boast if I could say that no patient had had to pay one penny for any of the information we have found,” said Raisman.

NSIF said it would acquire any patents and make them freely available.

“When Dan had his accident I made him a promise that, one day, he would walk again,” Nicholls told the BBC.

“I set up the charity to raise funds purely for research into repairing the spinal cord. The results with Darek show we are making significant progress towards that goal.”

The UK Stem Cell Foundation said the team was now searching for the best source of olfactory ensheathing cells and developing prototype nanofibre biomaterials on which transplanted OECs could grow.

They hope to raise enough money to hold clinical trials on 10 patients in Britain and Poland.

 

More on this story…

The 38-year-old Bulgarian man is believed to be the first person in the world to recover from complete severing of the spinal nerves, with sensation now returned to his lower limbs.
Darek Fidyka, who suffered his injury four years ago, can now walk with a frame and has been able to resume an independent life, even to the extent of driving a car.
Surgeons used nerve-supporting cells from his nose to provide pathways along which the broken tissue was able to grow.
Despite success in the laboratory, it is the first time the procedure has been shown to work in a human patient.

Researchers said the man was “not dancing but absolutely delighted” by the breakthrough.
Professor Geoffrey Raisman, whose team at University College London’s Institute of Neurology discovered the technique, said: “We believe that this procedure is the breakthrough which, as it is further developed, will result in a historic change in the currently hopeless outlook for people disabled by spinal cord injury.”
A Polish team led by one of the world’s top spinal repair experts, Dr Pawel Tabakow, from Wroclaw Medical University, performed the surgery.
The procedure involved transplanting olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) from the nose to the spinal cord.

OECs assist the repair of damaged nerves that transmit smell messages by opening up pathways for them to the olfactory bulbs in the forebrain.
Re-located to the spinal cord, they appear to enable the ends of severed nerve fibres to grow and join together – something that was previously thought to be impossible.

So could this be the cure for paraylsis?

cure for the first time after a new technique pioneered by British doctors allowed a man with a severed spinal cord to recover the ability to walk.

A revolutionary implant of regenerative cells has knitted back together the spinal cord of a wheelchair-bound firefighter paralysed from the chest down in a knife attack, restoring sensation and muscle control to his legs.

The astonishing breakthrough by an Anglo-Polish medical team is the first ever instance where a complete spinal paralysis has been reversed and represents the potential conquering of one of the greatest challenges in medical science. If validated, it offers hope of a life-changing therapy to the 2.5m people paralysed by spinal injury in Britain and across the world.

The technique, developed by researchers at University College London and put into practice by surgeons in the Polish city of Wroclaw, uses specialist human cells which repair damage to nasal nerves to enable spinal nerve fibres to re-grow and bridge a severed cord.

 

Julie Weiss Completes 52 Marathons!

Julie Weiss is the Energizer Bunny of marathon runners. For 52 weeks, she kept on going and going and going.
On Sunday, she finally stopped. As she crossed the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon, she reached her goal of running a marathon every week for a year to raise awareness for the disease that killed her father.

“Pancreatic cancer is my only competition out there and I intend to beat it,” she told TODAY.
The 42-year-old California mother of two started her year-long journey after her father passed away in November 2010, only a month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The experience stunned her.
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“People don’t know what we’re dealing with here,” she said. “It’s almost like a death sentence.”
She started her mission with a marathon in Rome and followed with a race every weekend throughout the United States and Canada. She would work her 9-to-5 job during the week and then immediately hop on a plane. She finished each race with a huge smile and arms raised — and then head back home Sunday.
“We have never had anybody do what Julie Weiss has done,” said Pam Marquardt, founder of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Weiss and her dad, who died a month after his diagnosis.
So far, Weiss has raised $177, 378 for the charity, according to her website www.MarathonGoddess.com, a play off the nickname she’s been dubbed by fans.
David Levine, her fiancé, acknowledged it has been a hard journey.
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“Psychologically, it was taxing, difficult, tiring,” he said.

Completing 52 marathons in 52 weeks means that Weiss has run 1,362.4 miles. That’s roughly the distance between St. Louis to Boston.
Although Weiss runs each race in memory of her father, she dedicates each marathon to a cancer victim.
“In memory of Lydia Jack, she passed at only 52, so Lydia 52 is also for YOU!” she wrote on her blog.

Weiss now plans to take a break, but she said she plans to pick up her race pace again soon. Her next goal is to run another 52 marathons in 52 weeks by 2020 to reach her ultimate goal of raising $1 million dollars for pancreatic cancer research and awareness.

The Doctor is back – and he means business!

Most science fiction enthusiasts had a really long summer, waiting for the eighth season of the revived TV series Doctor Who to hit the screens this August. There was a bit of anxiety mixed into their anticipation, as the Doctor has taken a brand new persona this summer – played by Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, known for his roles in The Thick of It and The Musketeers (he plays Cardinal Richelieu).

The bad news is that the Doctor has changed into a person completely different from his predecessor. If Matt Smith was a Doctor with much humor, clumsiness, energy and fun, Capaldi’s Doctor looks like a much darker, much more serious character. Sometimes he seems to show his age – he is over 1,200 years old by this time. His long age shows in his grey hair and old eyes, too.

This episode had a bit of surprise for real fans – the moment when he left Clara, his long time companion, behind in the (spoilers!) chamber with the dormant clockwork droids. Some were surely shocked by this action – just to be relieved when Clara had put her faith in the Doctor and was not mistaken to do so. I won’t say more, for the sake of those who haven’t had the chance to see the latest episode yet.

All in all, the new Doctor has shown that he means business. After a few clumsy moments in the beginning, with his mind not being “rebooted” yet, he found himself and got things done, showing that he means business. As usual.

Peter Capaldi is the fifth actor to be cast in the title role of the revived Doctor Who TV series (or the fourth, if we don’t count John Hurt’s single episode presence) and the twelfth (thirteenth) actor to be playing the beloved character since the series premiere in 1963. An interesting fact – the Scottish actor was 55 years old when he was cast for his role as the Doctor, the same age as William Hartnell when he was cast as the first Doctor. Capaldi has appeared in the series before – he played Caecilius in a Pompeii-themed episode in season four of the revived series, and John Frobisher in the third season of the spin-off series Torchwood.

Again, the good news: the Doctor is finally back, and he means business. The bad news, in turn, is that we will have to wait a week for the next episode. This is the hardest part – when you finally get a few bits of good stuff, and have to wait patiently for more. I think I’ll play our vast selection of table games each day until the day comes when I get to see some more of the Twelfth Doctor…

Amputee Hits The Right Note

Richard Mangino from Massachusetts suffered from a serious bloodstream infection in 2002 and lost his lower arms and legs. This left him unable to do some of his favorite activities such as drawing, playing piano, and tossing the football around with his grandkids.

In 2011, Mangino underwent a double hand transplant and the surgery was successful. A team of over 40 surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, residents, radiologists and physician assistants operated for more than 12 hours to perform his surgery.

His wife told journalists

“One day in July, Mangino told his family, “I’m going to try to swim, go get the    camera,” he recalled. Carole Mangino said she held her breath as he took his strokes. “I said, ‘Oh, my God, he’s going all the way to the end!’ ” Her husband easily swam the length of the pool and then held up his arms in victory.

“It was like watching someone taking his first steps,’’ said Carole, who was so moved she cried. Mangino did drive before the transplant, using a device on the steering wheel his prostheses fit into, enabling him to turn. Playing football with    grandsons Trevor, 6, and Nicholas, 4, is new, and that is when the boys, who had not known their grandfather with his original hands, finally realized the transplant had changed him, Carole said.

Her husband, she said, “is on a cloud,’’ and the bumps in the road have been relatively minor.

Mangino takes medication for nerve pain in his arms, which bothers him especially at night. Pomahac said doctors do not have a good explanation for this type of pain. “The nerves are regrowing, and they not only provide sensations but       provide some random pain stimulus,” he said. “It will eventually go away.’’

Sports Direct Lose out on England Football Flop

England’s laughable and inevitable early exit from the World Cup cost Sports Direct up to £20m in lost profits, the group said, as disappointed football fans failed to buy replica shirts.

Dave Forsey, chief executive, said Roy Hodgson boys’ lacklustre performance was much more significant to the business than a dispute with Adidas which meant Sports Direct could not stock replicas of the on-field strips of key teams, including the winner Germany and runners-up Argentina. The brand has pulled stock from a number of different retailers, because it was unhappy at the presentation of goods or customer service.

“England’s early exit meant a £10m to £20m swing to [underlying profits],” he said. “It’s all about England for the World Cup for our stores. What affects sales primarily will always be how long England lasts in the tournament.”

While Sports Direct revealed a healthy 15.6% rise in pretax profits to £239.5m on sales of £2.7bn, up 23.8% in the year to 27 April, driven by strong sales of sportswear as well as the acquisition of fashion chain Republic, Forsey said performance would have been better if the national team had hit the back of the net more often.

However, Forsey said Sports Direct was hopeful of stocking the key Adidas football strips it wants, including Premier League team Chelsea’s after “encouraging discussions” with the sports brand which stopped supplying certain strips to Sports Direct earlier this year. Forsey was not able to confirm if and when Adidas might begin supply but he said:”Top-level engagement has been encouraging for the last couple of weeks and both teams see opportunities for their side.”

Sports Direct is also seeking a rapprochement with shareholders after a bruising battle over the bonus scheme which would have significantly benefited the chain’s founder, Mike Ashley. On Wednesday, the company said Ashley had chosen to withdraw from the scheme, just two weeks after it had been approved. The move was widely welcomed by major institutional shareholders who felt the bonus arrangements were inappropriately structured.

They want Ashley, who owns a 58% stake in the company but does not receive any pay for his role as executive deputy chairman, to be rewarded by a salary or a dividend that would benefit all investors. Shareholders had threatened to vote against the re-election of the chairman Keith Hellawell and some non-executive directors, but Forsey said their protests had not affected Ashley’s decision.

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