The week's good news: June 2, 2022
Pakistani man repays a city's kindness by inviting every resident to his wedding
He was welcomed with open arms by the people of Birmingham, Alabama, and when it came time to invite guests to his wedding, Shahzeb Anwer wanted to return the favor. Before traveling to Birmingham, Anwer, 31, had never left Pakistan. He has hyperparathyroidism, and since the surgery he needed isn't available there, he decided to get it done at UAB Hospital in Birmingham. Anwer posted on Birmingham Facebook and Reddit groups, asking questions about everything from what clothes he should bring to the culture. Tips and information came flooding in, and Anwer told CBS 42 "people responded in a way that I wouldn't even expect from my own people in Pakistan." One person who stepped up was Andrew Harris, who helped Anwer get to medical appointments and go shopping. "I've gained such a friend — a best friend for life," Harris said. Anwer's surgery was successful, and when he returned home, he showed his appreciation for Birmingham's residents by posting online an open invitation to his wedding on May 22. "Birmingham treated me as their favored son," he told CBS 42, adding, "Birmingham has now become a part of my life."
101-year-old surprised with the high school diploma he always wanted
On display in Merrill Pittman Cooper's New Jersey home is something he never thought he'd see: his high school diploma. Cooper, 101, grew up in the segregated South, and his single mom worked as a live-in housekeeper to afford tuition at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. When Cooper realized his mom didn't have enough money to pay for his final year of high school, he suggested they move to Philadelphia, and he started working at a clothing store. Cooper broke down barriers as one of Philadelphia's first Black trolley car drivers, and went on to become a bus driver and vice president of the International Transport Workers Union. Even with his success, Cooper always wished he had graduated from high school. "As time went on, I thought it was probably too late, so I put it behind me and made the best of the situation," Cooper told The Washington Post. His son-in-law decided to do something about it, working with the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park and Jefferson School District to secure Cooper an honorary high school diploma. It was presented to him during a surprise ceremony in March. "I never imagined that anything like this could happen," Cooper told the Post, adding, "I can't think of a happier day."
Goats are giving firefighters in Northern California an assist
Firefighters in West Sacramento, California, have a not-so-secret weapon in their arsenal: goats. Lots and lots of goats. The city regularly uses hundreds of goats to clear out weeds, high grass, and other dry brush that could easily go up in flames. The goats happily gobble everything up, creating environmentally-friendly fire breaks. Paul Hosely, the public information officer for West Sacramento, told CBS 13 that goats have been helping prevent fires in town for the last 10 years. "About 400 goats can clear two acres a day and get in places mowers can't reach," he said. It's a program that's good for the goats and good for the firefighters, and it clearly works — CBS 13 reports that the goats recently cleared underbrush near a housing complex, and when a blaze started in the area, their fire breaks kept the flames from going near homes.
For her next chapter, retired teacher drives mobile bookstore across the U.S.
Rita Collins always wanted to open a bookstore after retiring, but because she lives in a tiny Montana town with a population of just 1,517, she knew there wouldn't be enough customers to sustain it. That's when Collins decided her bookstore didn't need to be brick and mortar — it could be on wheels. She converted the back of a Sprinter van into a used bookstore — called St. Rita's Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary — and spends May to October driving around the United States, stopping at festivals and farmer's markets and coffee shops. Since 2015, she's been to 30 states. "I can't imagine a better way of spending time than the traveling bookstore," Collins told Today. "It's so special." There are 600 books lining the shelves — which are angled so the tomes don't go flying while Collins drives — and Collins put a rug on the floor so kids can sprawl out. She named her bookstore after the patron saint of lost causes, and while it originally did seem like her dream was out of reach, Collins has proven wishes can come true.
The world's largest living plant has been found in Australia
Scientists say they've found the largest living plant on Earth off the coast of Western Australia in Shark Bay, stretching more than 112 miles. The plant, the Posidonia australis, is a species of seagrass. Researchers wanting to know about the genetic diversity of seagrasses took samples from 10 locations across the seagrass meadow, and after sequencing DNA from each sample, discovered that the Posidonia australis clones itself by creating new, genetically identical offshoots. Elizabeth Sinclair, a senior research fellow at the School of Biological Sciences and Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia, led the research team, and told CNN they were stunned by the results. The seagrass is about 4,500 years old, and covers an area larger than Brooklyn, Sinclair said. A study on the plant was published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.