A biker group’s kindness, a great Disney idea and a very lucky monkey

A biker group's kindness

(CNN)Hey morning people, I have a question: Um, how do you do it? How do you start the day with smiles and birdsong and a piping hot cup of coffee and not, you know, curse words and five alarm snoozes? My theory is, morning people are born and not made. However, experts say there are some things you can do to kickstart your mushy morning brain: Splash some cold water on your face, caffeinate slowly, make sure to get a little sunshine as soon as possible and, if you can, try to get outside for a brisk walk. My suggestion? Wake up at noon and avoid mornings altogether! Oh, if only.

Get going with some of our most popular good news stories of the week
a great Disney idea and a very lucky monkey - CNN
What goes around comes around
    Buckle up, because this one’s a great ride: In September 2018, Daryn Sturch and her daughter Bryanne came across a bad accident involving several motorcyclists with the Milwaukee Iron Biker Group. Sturch is a nurse in Chili, Indiana, and obviously felt compelled to stop and treat them. Some of the bikers were critically injured, and after she left the scene Sturch reached out to the group on Facebook to check up on them. To her relief, all of the injured bikers survived. The unfortunate incident kicked off a nice little friendship. Sturch says some of the bikers would check in occasionally on Facebook and offer her support or a kind word. Fast forward to this month: Sturch’s daughter Bryanne had planned a lemonade stand, but it got rained out. Some of Sturch’s biker friends suggested she reschedule for the next week, when the group would be in town. When the day of the lemonade stand came, Sturch and her family were overwhelmed: 30 bikers showed up to support Bryanne, including some Sturch had treated at the accident. Needless to say, it was definitely a waterproof mascara kind of day. “I think it’s a perfect example of how just because you don’t look the same way or dress the same way or have the same hobbies or interests doesn’t mean we don’t have the same core values inside us,” Sturch said. “We shouldn’t make assumptions about people, we should just love each other.”
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    A once-in-a-Millennium moment
    When a group of special-needs adults in Louisville, Kentucky, made a video of themselves lip-syncing to a Backstreet Boys song, their infectious joy captured the hearts of the internet. That alone is Good Stuff worthy, but then something even cooler happened: The Backstreet Boys saw the video, too, and arranged to meet the group before a tour stop in Louisville. When the big day came, 12 members of the group attended the concert and spent time with the boy band singing, taking photos and rocking out to a BSB dance party. Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson even recorded a heartfelt video message for the performers. “The passion, the joy, the soul that you put in that video was inspiring,” he said.
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    I’m gonna stop talking now and just show you another amazing photo from their meet and greet, because that’s where the real story is.
    A biker group's kindness
    This takes the cake
    An officer with a cake baking hobby helped put together a magical birthday for a 13-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. Now that’s multi-talented! Lt. Brandy Forman of the Smyrna Police Department volunteers with a nonprofit, Icing Smiles, that provides custom cakes for families with ill children. The Clinner family had requested a cake for their son, Tye, who was turning 13 and was about to embark on a special trip to Disney World. Tye has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk or sit up on his own, but his mom says he lights up any time someone mentions anything Disney. After hearing his story, Forman told CNN she knew she could help with “way more than a cake.” Her department coordinated a surprise party for Tye complete with pizza, wings and his own officer shirt. They even invited the community to join in, and a few other Atlanta-area police departments brought some police cars around for local children to check out during the celebration. Oh, and of course, the cake was gorgeous. “If you have the opportunity to do something good for someone else, do it,” Forman said.

    Raise a glass to…

    a great Disney idea and a very lucky monkey - CNN
    Kodi Lee, the newly-crowned winner of Season 14 of America’s Got Talent! Lee, 22, is a gifted singer and pianist who blew the judges away from the very start with his rendition of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You.” He’s blind and has autism, and his mom says being able to express himself musically has helped him deal with a world that is often hard on people with disabilities. “Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world,” she said. “Because when you’re autistic, it’s really hard to do what everyone else does. It actually has saved his life, playing music.”

    A bright idea

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    We have a double dose of Disney this week! The big Mouse has rolled out the Disney Bedtime Hotline again for a limited time. The phone service allows kids to receive a special bedtime message from their favorite Disney character (with help from their parents, of course). It goes like this: The characters detail their day, talk about how ready they are for bedtime, then playfully suggest the child on the phone get ready for bed, too. So, if your best Serious Parent voice can’t get them under the covers, maybe Anna and Elsa can give a much-needed assist. No long-distance fees to Arendelle required!

    You gotta see this

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    A lost toy monkey got the royal treatment at Buckingham Palace recently, and there are photos to prove it! Savannah Hart, a 5-year-old student at Woodside Preschool in south Australia, accidentally forgot Harriet, one of her school’s traveling stuffed monkeys, during a tour of the palace. (Harriet is an excellent monkey name, by the way.) Once she was back home, Savannah and her preschool classmates sent a letter asking for Harriet’s safe return. Sure enough, the preschool heard via email that Buckingham Palace staff had found the toy monkey. They said she had been busy eating scones and promised to send her back after photographing her at work around the palace. Okay, Harriet HAS to be the most interesting stuffed monkey in the world now.

    Heroes among us

    A biker group's kindness
    “No charge for this lady under any circumstances.” That was a note left by plumber James Anderson on a bill for a 91-year-old woman with leukemia who needed her boiler replaced. Anderson says the woman, who is receiving palliative care, will have round-the-clock plumbing help if she needs it, and free services for life. Anderson of Burnley, Lancashire turned his plumbing business, DEPHER, into a community project for vulnerable people after he saw an elderly man being “manipulated” by another engineer in the area. Since then, he’s helped thousands of people with their plumbing needs at a reduced or waived cost — even when the work leaves him with a loss. “We need to do something more to help the people who need it most,” Anderson said. The daughter of the 91-year-old woman he helped described Anderson as an “angel dressed as a plumber,” which is just another way of saying he’s a straight-up hero.

    Wanna get away?

    a great Disney idea and a very lucky monkey - CNN
    Looking for your next big trip in 2020? Why not Africa? CNN Travel has put together 30 of the continent’s most breathtaking destinations, any of which could easily reach trip-of-a-lifetime status. Of all the scenic views, this one from the Lekki Conservation Centre in Lagos, Nigeria, really speaks to me. What’s just beyond this lush, curving boardwalk path? Probably more lush, curving boardwalk path, and we’re totally okay with that.

    Tell us something good

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    Macon, GA
    After seeing the destruction Hurricane Dorian wrought on the Bahamas, Rikki Kahley turned her bachelorette party to Nassau into a relief trip. Originally, the 24-year-old was going to cancel and even offered to donate the group’s hotel rooms to local families in need but was moved when the resort’s receptionist got emotional about how much tourism business the area was losing. So Kahley and her sister Chloe put out a call for donations and started collecting donated baby wipes, diapers, food, clothes, toys, books and water filtration tools. By the time they boarded the flight to the Bahamas, they had 37 suitcases full of supplies. (Delta Air Lines waived the extra baggage fees.) “Our experience was great. We enjoyed all the Bahamian people we encountered, heard lots of stories about their families and how the hurricane impacted them,” Kahley said.

    Impact your world

    Today is World Gratitude Day! I am grateful for every single person in our Good Stuff family, and for all of the wonderfully kind and insightful notes you send week after week. You are appreciated more than you know. If you want to up the gratitude in your life, here are three easy rituals that can have you feeling more thankful and ready to take on life’s, well, less gratitude-inspiring tasks.

    Shameless animal video

      There’s always time for cute animal videos. That time is now.
      All animals deserve to be petted! Unless they really don’t want to be, of course. But you’d be surprised at how many un-cuddly species are actually just lovebugs in disguise. This baby croc is so happy to get chin scratches he’s making little laser sounds of gratitude. Who could ever say no to that? (Click here to view)

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      Climate change and the US south for a year

      I crisscrossed a region my own that is mired in a culture of denial and delay. The conversation on the climate crisis has not changed fast enough

      atmosphere

      Its 96 degrees in downtown Beaufort, North Carolina, a place where I spent much of my childhood. The sidewalk is too hot for dogs to walk on. The iconic wild horses, visible on Shackleford Banks, wade in the marsh, munching cordgrass. Ive been watching the horses since I was in elementary school, and now Im sharing them with my elementary school-aged daughters on summer vacation.

      My girls love them, as I did. The legend is that the horses swam to safety from an old Spanish shipwreck. Its moving to watch the small, strong horses grazing on the dunes. For now, theyve survived the latest big hurricane, and theyre free.

      The 100 or so wild horses have one square kilometer of high ground on which to weather hurricanes and sea level rise, and a shortage of fresh water endangered by encroaching salt water and storm surge. Some scientists recommend that the Shackleford horses be relocated, although they have been there for centuries.

      The story is a familiar one that will be told in a thousand different ways as the atmosphere warms in the years to come: we must think creatively and quickly to save the things we love.

      I wrote my Climate Changed column between hurricane seasons, in the wake of Hurricane Florence and before the start of Hurricane Barry. I close the column from Beaufort, a place where Florence brought a record storm surge; it caused $17bn in damage to the state. As my daughters and I drive over the bridge into Morehead City, I see bulldozers still clearing the last of the Channel Marker restaurant, a fixture of Atlantic Beach flooded during Florence.

      I thought that Hurricane Florence might serve as a turning point in the conversation about the realities of climate change in a region still mired in a culture of denial and delay. After a year of research and reporting, I am not convinced that the conversation has changed fast enough, if much at all. Here in Beaufort, like Miami and Charleston, I encounter deniers, continued waterfront development, hurricane damage and blistering temperatures.

      A
      A great blue heron is silhouetted by the reflection of the rising sun at Lake Johnson Park in Raleigh. Photograph: Alamy

       

      If there is any part of the south where technology, tax dollars and public opinion are aligning to make changes, its Miami, even though new waterfront real estate is still being built. But for the most part, climate change discussions continue to fall along party lines in a divided nation. To many rural southerners, the bigger, well-funded environmental movements seem to be rooted in California and New England. The conversations appear to be taking place in the echo chamber of privileged believers.

      I saw more of the south while reporting for this column than I ever saw in my 30 years of living there. My travel reinforced what I already knew: there is no one south. In 2019 it is multitudinous, diverse and still reckoning with its plantation economy and cruel social history. It has PhDs, evangelicals, Trump enthusiasts, environmentalists, artists and activists. Its this very tension that has often made the south the genesis of social movements; one hopes it might happen again, and soon.

      Social and environmental racism, income inequality and poverty are as present as they have ever been, and are only weaponized by climate change, as I reported from Virginia and Natchez, Mississippi.

      I found that in places like eastern North Carolina, the river parishes of Louisiana, Miami, and Mississippis Gulf coast, chronic exposure to natural disasters has resulted in psychological resilience, and created a desire in some to go down with the ship. In places like New Orleans, trauma strengthens the sense of community. As Tropical Storm Barry moved in to New Orleans, I emailed with former interviewees who shared forecasts and concerns. Im gritting my teeth, one wrote. But Im not evacuating. Home is sometimes more an emotional than a rational commitment.

      In eastern North Carolina, where I grew up and write from, climate change was never a polite topic of conversation. I was told the same in a coffee shop in Mississippi, and by a minister in Georgia. Too many southerners are still dancing around the reality of climate change, and the cost of avoiding the conversation is going to be steep.

      What does a better and more inclusive conversation look like? Non-traditional environmentalists can be critical allies in addressing the culture of climate change denial below the Mason-Dixon Line, like hunters in Arkansas and evangelical Christians in places like St Simons, Georgia. But too often, the perspectives and interests of frontline communities are ignored, further exacerbating the environmental racism so pervasive in the south.

      When it comes to climate change preparedness in this region, part of the continued challenge is that the power structures of the old south remain in place. A Pew survey indicated that white evangelical protestants are the least likely to profess a belief in climate change. Power companies, developers and conservative politicians have a vested interest in deregulation and maintaining the environmental status quo, and many paint environmental concerns as nothing but liberal pagan ideas.

      When I began this column, I felt more of a duty to listen to all sides, but frankly I do not believe that climate change is an issue of which one can pretend, or afford, to hear both sides. I believe that to deny climate change and delay productive action in 2019 is malicious and akin to governmental malpractice. A government that is not actively protecting its citizens from the future challenges of climate change (property loss, food system collapse, increased intensity of storms, flooded infrastructure, extreme heat, economic disruption) is not acting in the interests of its citizens. A politician who delays climate action is not acting in his or her constituents best interests, and may be going so far as to actually cause harm.

      We do not need to hear another word from deniers, or cater to their anti-science position. Something the progressive south has always struggled to do: take the megaphone away from the people who want to live in the past.

      Now that Ive seen more of the south, I cant help but feel losses and concerns in a specific way. As I began to write this final column, a fire raged through the Everglades, which I had driven through just months before. Storms threatened to challenge the already saturated Mississippi and its river control structures. I thought about the gators in the marsh, the last wild panthers darting to safety in the Everglades, the bartender who was kind to me in an ancient pub on Natchez-under-the-hill. The loss of life and landscape in climate change scenarios has always troubled me, but now it is real and urgent in a way it has never been before.

      When the wild horses of Shackleford Banks weather storms, the dominant male gathers his harem on high ground or in the deep parts of the maritime forest, and they turn their backs to the wind and rain. A researcher observed that while wild herds are typically divided into harems, the divisions break down in extreme weather. The horses gave up their internal political dynamics, he said, staying together on the relatively highest ground of that site. That is how they survive.

      To navigate the decades ahead, and save the places we love and call home, southerners will need to dismantle old political dynamics and build new, inclusive alliances.

       

       

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      American Crime Story drama

      Latest series of the US hit show will recount the former White House interns affair with the then president that led to his impeachment in 1998

      America

      Monica Lewinsky is among the producers on a new series of American Crime Story focusing on the Bill Clinton sex scandal.

      Titled Impeachment: American Crime Story, the Ryan Murphy-helmed anthology drama will recount the notorious affair between the then US president Clinton and former White House intern Lewinsky, and the subsequent impeachment proceedings called against him by the US House of Representatives.

      Booksmart star Beanie Feldstein will star as Lewinsky, with Sarah Paulson playing Linda Tripp, the civil servant who secretly recorded phone calls the 22-year-old made about her affair with Clinton, who was 27 years her senior.

      The series will premiere in September 2020 in the US, and is expected to air in the UK soon after. The previous two series of American Crime Story have been shown on BBC Two in the UK, as part of the broadcasters syndication deal with the US.

      Impeachment has been adapted by Murphy from Jeffrey Toobins book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. Murphy originally optioned the book in 2017, but shelved plans to bring it to TV last year as he felt that such a project would be gross without the contribution of Lewinsky.

      However, with Lewinskys involvement, Impeachment is now going ahead. In a statement to Vanity Fair, she said that she had been hesitant to sign on to the series, but was swayed by the opportunity to reclaim my narrative.

      People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades, Lewinsky said. In fact, it wasnt until the past few years that Ive been able to fully reclaim my narrative, almost 20 years later.

      This isnt just a me problem. Powerful people, often men, take advantage of those subordinate to them in myriad ways all the time. Many people will see this as such a story and for that reason, this narrative is one that is, regretfully, evergreen.

      FX chairman John Landgraf said that the network would not be reaching out to Bill and Hillary Clinton for their input.

      The Clinton scandal has been the subject of renewed public interest in recent years, following the rise of the #MeToo movement and calls for the impeachment of current US president Donald Trump. Last year, Lewinsky contributed to docuseries The Clinton Affair, while the subject also formed the basis of the second season of popular current affairs podcast Slow Burn.

      American Crime Story has attracted critical acclaim and high ratings for its retellings of landmark events in recent US history. Its first season, 2016s The People Vs OJ Simpson, won a total of nine Emmy awards for its account of the 1994 murder case against former American Football player and actor OJ Simpson.

      The drama went on to win a further three Emmys in 2018 for its second season, which recalled the 1997 murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace. A further series, about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, had been in production but was scrapped by FX last year.

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