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Batman’s Newest Battle: Cheering Up Refugee Children

Sherry Rucherman

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Life in refugee camps can be terribly boring. For many refugees coming from war-torn and disaster-stricken areas, boredom can actually be a relief. Still, boredom is boredom and the days can drag by even if basic security and shelter are secured in the camp. Fortunately for refugees in one Lebanese camp, a new hero is on the job, cheering people up: Batman!

The Caped Crusader recently went viral on Reddit and other social media platforms after photos and videos emerged of his efforts inside a refugee camp. The legendary superhero was spotted playing with children and otherwise cheering the camp residents up. Batman’s best friend at the camp was a young boy by the name of Kadar.

The Caped Crusader has earned a reputation for being a tough-as-nails superhero who always gives his all. That’s true both in Gotham and refugee camps. Batman put in a lot more effort than smiles and handshakes. Clips of Batman giving Kadar a ride on his shoulders and playing soccer with children have emerged. And no offense to the man in black, while he might be good at fighting crime, he needs to brush up on his soccer skills.

Another clip emerged of Batman losing an arm-wrestling match to Kadar. Let’s assume he tossed the match or Gotham might be in trouble the next time the Joker makes an appearance. If Batman’s so out of shape that a child can overpower him, that bodes ill for future battles between good and evil. Still, no one will doubt that Batman brought a lot of joy to the kids in the camp.

Batman also showed off some surprising skills. Did you know he’s one heck of a guitar player and a good singer to boot? Campfire clips of the Caped Crusader strumming away made their rounds. As for taking to the skies, Batman left the Batcopter home but he did manage to fly some kites.

Of course, Batman is a character of fiction, but real-world heroes will rise up none-the-less. In this case, the Caped Crusader was actually Kadar’s dad. The family has been struggling with conditions in the refugee camp and upheaval in their lives, so dad decided to cheer his son up. And at the end of the day, a real-world hero is worth far more than a fictional one.

The story also highlights the struggle that refugees go through. It is estimated that some 250 million children will grow up in conflict-torn areas. Many of them will struggle to secure an education or otherwise live a normal life. All of these children need heroes, both real and fictional.

Every day, families are being torn apart and forced to flee their homes. The United Nations estimates that in Syria alone that some 6.5 million people have been displaced. Over a million refugees from Syria have fled to Lebanon, itself a war-stricken country where millions struggle just to get buy. With an on-going civil war in Yemen, instability in Iraq, and countless other geopolitical issues, the Middle East and North Africa have seen millions of people displaced.

While a lucky few refugees will be resettled in the United States, Europe, and other highly developed areas, many will be trapped in refugee camps. Their only hope of returning home is often the end of the war. Yet modern wars can drag on for decades, seeming to never end. For Kadar and his dad, the years ahead might be tough. Hopefully, however, they can create some good memories along the way.

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Life

Could There Be Answers to the Famed Peanut Allergy on the Horizon?

Mackenzie Freeman

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Peanuts are incredibly delicious as they permeate candy, condiments, snacks, and numerous other parts of the food industry. At the same time, peanuts also contribute to one of the most common food allergies on the face of the Earth. Those who are allergic to peanuts often have deadly allergies, known as anaphylaxis. This reaction can cause someone to stop breathing if they even simply inhale some of the dust associated with peanuts. As a result, many kids have to carry around an EpiPen that might be needed to save their life. Therefore, peanuts, peanut oil, peanut butter, peanut chocolate, and more can pose a serious health risk. Indeed, some kids will never know the delicious taste of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Some people might even be shocked to hear that peanuts can be found in potato chips, icing, and more! It is hard for people who have severe food allergies to have a normal life. Furthermore, peanut allergies have actually been becoming more common. Many schools have even banned peanuts to protect their students from harm. This is a drastic, but necessary, measure in the eyes of many people.

Now, there might be an answer for those who have been waiting for what seems like forever. Scientists from Australia have recently announced that they might have found an answer to this common problem. A team of researchers have been using a novel treatment method called immunotherapy to help children get over their allergies to peanuts. In this treatment option, patients are intentionally exposed to something that they have a serious reaction to. In this case, that item would be peanuts. Of course, this exposure takes place in a controlled setting to minimize the potential health risks that might come with an intentional allergic reaction.

When children in this experiment are exposed to peanuts, the immune system reacts. After all, this is the basis of an allergic reaction. Over time, the body is exposed to doses in higher and higher amounts. With the right treatment, the body learns to handle the reaction and the allergic reaction gradually subsides. This is called tolerance. Essentially, the body “gets used” to the peanuts. In this clinical trial, which lasted for 18 months, about four out of every five children who were involved in the trial had developed a tolerance to peanuts. Now, five years later, most of the kids who devleoped a tolerance are still eating peanuts to this day. This represents a breakthrough in the field of medicine that has the potential to help children all over the world who suffer from severe peanut allergies.

It can be exhausting for parents and children to go around constantly wondering if they are going to be exposed to peanuts that might lead to an allergic reaction. It can be hard to carry around an EpiPen every day. Now, there might be a way to get around this problem. At the same time, this is only one study. There is still a long way to go and parents should not go around giving their peanut-allergic children allergens to force a reaction. The next step is to try to replicate the results of this study on a larger scale. Then, this therapy needs to reach the open market to be distributed. At the same time, this study still represents a tremendous hope for those who suffer from allergies. If the results of this study can be replicated on a larger scale, it might provide a way to help people who suffer from food allergies.

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Life

Does Freezing the Earth Lead to the First Animals?

Mackenzie Freeman

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The Earth is the only planet we have. While we think of this blue giant as our home, life is actually challenging. For example, descending too far into the ocean can expose the body to pressures that it can’t possibly resist. On the other hand, travel too high and oxygen runs out. People essentially suffocate. Don’t forget about the boiling waters found in some parts of the Earth along with the arctic temperatures found in some corners of the globe. 

On the other hand, despite all of these hazards, life finds a way to persist. In some ways, that defines who we are as Earthlings. We have the ability to resist all of these things and survive. In order to understand just how this is done, people need to turn back the clock to when Earth was just another snowball hurtling around the sun at lightning speeds.

This time period was referred to as the Cryogenian period. Earth, at this time, was a solid ball of ice. Living on Earth at this time would have been challenging. For tens of millions of years, Earth was undergoing a cycle of freezing and thawing. Simply wash, rinse, and repeat. This is far from the ski resort that most people associate with cold temperatures. During this time, there were even glaciers at the equator. This is very different from the Greenhouse gas conditions during other time periods of prehistoric Earth that led to tremendous volcanic eruptions. 

This time period would have been tough for anyone to survive. Yet, during this time, life didn’t simply survive. It actually thrived. There were some great moments during this time. Life made the jump from simple, single cells to the organs, tissues, and multicellular organisms that we see today. Every living thing that people encounter today can be traced back to the dark days of the prehistoric period. That makes this time period one of the most miraculous on Earth. At the same time, in a letter that was published in a well-respected scientific journal, this is not a coincidence. To triumph in the face of adversity is something that defines Earth as a planet. 

Indeed, life might have actually required these conditions in order to grow and develop into the beauty that people see today. To back up this statement, the authors of the letter have pointed to algae. While some people might associate this word with the slippery substance found on rocks, life billions of years ago needed to find nutrients wherever it could. As glaciers continued to travel across the planet’s surface, they ground the mountains into a fine powder. This powder was filled with plenty of minerals such as phosphates. Eventually, the cycle of cooling started to flip. The glaciers then melted and released all of these minerals into the Earth’s water supplies. 

This made these minerals accessible to plants such as algae. The algae were able to absorb these minerals and put them to use. Then, algae started to grow and develop. They spread across the entire planet. This provided food for everything else that needed nutrients to survive. In the end, this led to the evolution of multicellular life. Therefore, every living thing has algae to thank for its growth and development. Algae, in turn, needs to thank the rough conditions that were around during this time period. It turns out that living things on Earth are incredibly resilient. We will find a way to survive and thrive in the future as well. We always have and we always will, as people.

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Life

Shoppers in the Midwest can now enjoy non-browning apples

Mackenzie Freeman

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Apples make for a convenient and healthy snack. However, some consumers are put off consuming apples once they have turned brown. It doesn’t take very long for sliced apples to start turning brown. It can be hard for consumers to finish snacking on apples before they start to lose their fresh appearance. 

Most consumers agree that apples don’t look quite as appetizing when they’ve started to brown. In fact, a lot of consumers throw apples away when they start to go brown even though the apple flesh is still edible. A company that distributes apples in the Midwest has addressed this issue by recently developing an apple variety that is genetically modified so that it doesn’t go brown as quickly when exposed to oxygen. This was done using a gene editing tool known as CRISPR. The tool has modified apples by reducing the effectiveness of an enzyme in apples that’s responsible for the tendency in apples to go brown. 

The new apples were developed from regular Golden Delicious apples. They are set to hit the selves at around 400 stores located in different parts of the Midwest. The produce will be made available in bags offering 10 ounces of the new apple variety . This is a big event in the world of genetically modified foods. While genetic modification has frequently been used on crops such as soybeans and corn, using the technology to manipulate the genetic makeup of fruits is relatively new.

In fact, there had previously been only one other genetically modified fruit commonly sold on shelves in the United States. This was a papaya that was genetically modified to resist viruses. The company that has produced this new non-browning apple is hoping to encourage consumers to eat more healthy fruit by making fruit more appealing.

The president of this company was recently interviewed by the Chicago Tribune. In this interview, he expressed that this new apple variety- named the Arctic apple- could help to increase healthy eating while also minimizing the waste of good food.

While this may be the first time that such a product is available on such a large scale, it is not the first time that genetically modified apples have been sold. There were previously apples modified to show reduced browning tendencies that were sold in the United States. These were Opal apples that were modified to show reduced browning. In fact, these apples are still available for sale in some parts of the country and are still available for Americans to eat.  

To some consumers, the issue of genetically modified food is controversial. There has been an effort to protest the increased development, production, and sale of genetically modified foods all across the company. However, scientists have yet to find any evidence that genetically modified foods pose any risk to human health. 

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