The week's good news: July 15, 2021
It wasn't all bad!
Brooklyn restaurant aims to 'empower refugees through culinary education'
They come with culinary traditions from their home countries — refugees from all corners of the world ready to learn new skills inside a Brooklyn kitchen. Emma's Torch — named in honor of Emma Lazarus, whose poem is on the Statue of Liberty — is a restaurant that provides job training for asylum-seekers as they wait for their hearings. During each 10-week program, the refugees earn $15 an hour, receiving up to 400 hours of training. Founder Kerry Brodie told CBS News she opened the restaurant five years ago as a way to "empower refugees through culinary education." So far, 120 refugees have finished the program, representing 40 countries, including Russia, Zimbabwe, and Vietnam. Nearly every graduate has been able to find work, including Naseema Bachsi. She left Afghanistan to escape the Taliban, and after completing the program at Emma's Torch, was hired at the award-winning Sahadi's grocery store in Brooklyn. Today, she is their head chef.
China takes giant pandas off its endangered species list
China announced last week that it has removed the giant panda from its list of endangered species, celebrating the status change as a success of China's long-term conservation efforts, including the creation of a giant national park for the iconic animals. "The panda population in the wild has risen to about 1,800, which reflects their improved living conditions and China's efforts in keeping their habitats integrated," Cui Shuhong, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment's Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, said. China will still classify the giant panda, considered a national treasure, as vulnerable and protected under conservation laws. That puts China's status for pandas in line with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which switched the animals from endangered to vulnerable in 2016.
To show his appreciation, Ohio pizzeria owner gave a full day of sales to employees
On July 5, Heavenly Pizza in Findlay, Ohio, fulfilled 220 orders, but the restaurant didn't see a dime of its sales. Instead, all $6,300, plus $1,200 in tips, went directly to employees. Owner Josh Elchert decided to hold an Employee Appreciation Day to show his gratitude for his team and how hard they've been working during the pandemic. "You can have the best pizza in the world," he told WTOL. "If you have no one here to make it, it doesn't matter." On a typical Monday, the restaurant fills about 100 orders, but on Employee Appreciation Day, customers came out in full force to show their support, ordering extra pies and dropping big tips. Each employee ended up earning $78 per hour for their shift. Timmy Lemire, 20, has worked at Heavenly Pizza for five years, and told WTOL, "I've never experienced anything like this before. It's a big gift."
Man finds 2 megalodon teeth in 3 weeks
Over the last year, art curator Jacob Danner has been waking at sunrise to walk along Fernandina Beach in Florida, on the lookout for interesting items that have washed ashore. Three weeks ago, he finally found something: a megalodon tooth measuring three inches long and in good condition. He was thrilled by his discovery, and then last Thursday, he stumbled upon another megalodon tooth, this time one that was four inches long. "It makes you want to spend your whole day hunting, thinking that more must be out there," he told CNN. The extinct megalodon was the largest shark that ever lived, and could reach up to 60 feet. Amateur collectors enjoy trying to find the biggest megalodon teeth in the best possible condition, and Danner said when he holds his new treasures, he imagines "the millions of years of history" in his hands.
After 24 years of searching, parents are reunited with abducted son
Guo Gangtang and Zhang Wenge never gave up hope that they would be reunited with their missing son, Guo Xinzhen — and after 24 years, their family is back together. When Xinzhen was two years old, he was abducted from outside his family's home south of Beijing. Gangtang did everything possible to bring awareness to his son's case, and ended up riding 300,000 miles across China by motorcycle so he could visit every province and pass out flyers showing a picture of Xinzhen. While he didn't track down Xinzhen, Gangtang did find other children who had been kidnapped, and reunited them with their families, China's state-run Xinhua News reports. DNA testing conducted earlier this year by China's Ministry of Public Service found a potential match to Xinzhen in the province next to where his parents live, and further testing revealed it was him. Xinzhen, now 26 and a teacher, had a tearful reunion with his parents on Sunday.