Potty-trained cows, McDonald’s ends plastic toys | 5 STORIES
"5 STORIES'' serves up five stories that you may have missed. On this week’s episode: McDonand’s will end fossil-fuel-based plastic in Happy Meal toys, a Kansas boy sparks a federal investigation into invasive spotted lanternflies, advocates successfully extend protections of Amazonian tribe, researchers teach cows to use the potty and a new app helps treat spider phobias using augmented reality.
Hey, everyone I'm Deema Zein.
Here are five stories you may have
missed, starting with:.
I'm loving it.
McDonald's Happy Meals are getting a
little happier - by going green.
On Tuesday, the company announced
they will drastically cut its use of
plastic by the end of 2025.
One way to do that is by replacing
the 1 billion children's toys it
sells each year with cardboard or
recycled or plant based plastics.
The move will help to cut the
company's use of virgin fossil
fuel-based plastic for Happy Meals
by 90 percent.
And the switch is already underway
in some countries, like France,
where kids can choose between a
green toy or a book.
By 2025, McDonald's also
hopes to source 100 percent of gas
packaging from renewable, recycled
or certified sources and recycle
all the packaging guests use in its
I guess this kind of makes up for
their constantly broken McFlurry
Imagine showcasing a bug collection
at your state fair and suddenly
triggering a federal investigation.
Well, according to The Washington
Post, that's what happened to one
boy at a Kansas state fair earlier
this month. Among his specimens: a
rare and dangerous insect known as
the Spotted Lanternfly.
He found it dead on his home patio
in Thomas County, Kansas in May.
Spotted lanternflies are an invasive
species from China and are thought
to have snuck into the U.S.
Via Pennsylvania in 2014.
They've also been spotted in New
York, Maryland, New Jersey and
Virginia, but haven't made it
further west than southern Indiana
- until now.
So why are spotted lanternflies
The hitchhiking pest is known to
feed on at least 70 tree and crop
species - including grapes, apples
and hops. But it's their poop that's
the problem. It promotes a fungal
growth called "Sooty Mold" that
block sunlight from reaching the
leaves, ultimately killing the
plant. And that could mean major
trouble for agriculture and logging
industries. So if you see any of the
little buggers, experts say, to kill
them right away and double back any
egg masses before throwing them in
The Piripkura tribe in Brazil has
barely had any contact with the
For the record this footage is of a
different Amazon tribe.
Piripkura live in isolation on
the ancestral lands in central
Brazil. And get this, only
two male members of the tribe have
ever had brief encounters with
anyone outside their own community
- before disappearing back into the
So, that's super interesting but
why am I talking about it?
Well, Brazil's indigenous affairs
agency renewed a protection order
earlier this month for the tribe's
nearly 600,000 acres of ancestral
lands, but only for six
months. Indigenous rights advocates
have been pushing for a three year
expansion of the order that's been
in place since 2008.
Like other Amazonian tribes,
Piripkura members live off the land.
But Brazil doesn't officially
recognize tribal land ownership, and
that means they must continuously
resist encroaching poachers, farmers
and miners. Those threats have
increased since the 2018 election of
President Jair Bolsonaro.
So the 6-month order is helpful, but
that's not stopping Bolsonaro from
backing legislation that would open
up tribal reservations for
commercial mining and crop
When you got to go, you got to go.
It's true for humans and for cows.
And just like us, cows can
apparently be potty-trained.
Yes, you heard that right!
In a recent study, German-led
researchers showed cows can be
trained to "use the toilet" or
"Moo-Loo" as they called it.
But one might ask, why?
Well, by collecting and treating cow
urine, farmers could reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Guardian, when
ammonia in cow urine soaks into the
soil, microbes convert it into
nitrous oxide, also known as
And nitrous oxide has nearly 300
times the global warming potential
of carbon dioxide.
So how did they potty train the
cows? They use a reward-and mild
If a calf urinated in the Moo Loo,
they got a treat like a sweet drink
or mashed barley.
If they went anywhere else, they
received a quick three second
shower. That'll wake you up!
According to the Current Biology
study, within a few weeks the
research team successfully trained
11 out of 16 calves.
The others, they thought, just
needed more time.
Nitrous oxide emissions from human
activities, including cattle
farming, have increased 30 percent
in the past four decades.
And that's no laughing matter.
Augmented Reality "Therapy."
How many of you are scared of
spiders? Like, really, really
scary? Well, fear spiders is a
pretty common phobia. And it can
really disrupt someone's life in
severe cases - think avoiding
outdoor gatherings or excessively
checking rooms for signs of
But what if they could seek treatment
with an app?
University of Basel researchers have
created the "Phobys" app, which uses
augmented reality as a kind of
Essentially, it lets participants
interact with a spider virtually to
slowly overcome their fear.
In the small study of about 60
participants, those who did six
sessions with the app had a reduced
fear of spiders and were able to get
closer to a real life specimen than
those who didn't use it at all.
It's a small preliminary study, but
the app, which is available for
purchase, does show promise.
Just be sure to use it under
For the PBS NewsHour and until next
week, this is 5 STORIES.
Have a great weekend.
One more thing, don't forget to
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