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Why Are There Suddenly So Many Corpse Flowers in Bloom?

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In late July we told you about the super-rare, foul-smelling corpse flower in bloom at the New York Botanical Garden. But that's far from the only one emitting its magnificent stench in America right now. Maybe you've heard about the one in Florida. Or Chicago. Or Washington D.C. Or maybe that one in Denver last summer? Amorphophallus titanum has been in bloom all across the country during the past year, which is pretty uncharacteristic for a flower that can take up to 15 years to show its flower. Stranger still, botanists don't understand why.

As Atlas Obscura reports, the University of Wisconsin tracked 157 corpse flower blooms between 1889 and 2008, which makes this sudden burst particularly notable. While it might seem logical for the same species of plant to be in sync, the corpse flower is a bit of a different beast. It’s rare in the wild, and doesn’t operate on a set timeline the way other perennials might.

Biology professor Daniel Janzen told The Wall Street Journal that the simultaneous blooms might have something to do with the flowers being from the same seed distribution, making the flora “cousins,” but that theory is impossible to prove.

Another hypothesis is that we’re seeing more blooms simply because there are more high-profile corpse flowers. Their popularity is good for botanical gardens, so many have given residence to the putrid plant in recent years and more overall logically leads to more blooms. But again, that doesn’t necessarily explain why all these corpse flowers are opening up at this particular moment.

The mystery continues—and the evidence is fading fast. Once in bloom, corpse flowers only last for about 36 hours.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Paris is Selling Its Love Locks, and Donating the Proceeds to Refugee Organizations
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Paris officials have turned an urban problem into a public service: They’re selling the city’s “love locks” as souvenirs and donating the proceeds to refugee groups. The Guardian first reported the news back in December, and now—beginning on Saturday, May 13—the locks will be auctioned off online.

For traveling couples, the padlocks they affixed to the iron grills of the French city’s bridges, initials scrawled on the surface, were a symbol of romance. But to Parisian officials, they were a civil danger. Fearing that the locks would weaken overpasses like the Pont des Arts, the city began dismantling the metal trinkets in 2015.

Left with 1 million padlocks (which totaled 65 metric tons of scrap metal), authorities needed a creative way to repurpose the waste. So they decided to sell 10 metric tons of locks to members of the public, marketing them as relics of the city’s bygone history.

“Members of the public can buy five or 10 locks, or even clusters of them, all at an affordable price,” Bruno Julliard, first deputy mayor of Paris, said in a statement quoted by The Guardian in 2016. “All of the proceeds will be given to those who work in support and in solidarity of the refugees in Paris.”

The locks will be sold in a variety of lots, some of them just as a single souvenir, others in groups. Smaller lots are expected to sell for anywhere from $100 to $200, while pieces of the padlocked railings could go for as much as $5000 to $9000 apiece. Proceeds will benefit the Salvation Army, Emmaus Solidarity, and Solipam.

99-Year-Old Woman Checks "Spending Time in Jail" Off Her Bucket List

When a senior looks back on his or her life to assess their triumphs and regrets, “not getting arrested” typically falls into the former category. But according to the BBC, a 99-year-old woman in the Netherlands wished she had spent time in the slammer. To help her achieve this unconventional bucket list dream, law officers let the woman, named Annie, hang out in a jail cell—with handcuffs on—at the police station in the eastern Dutch town of Nijmegen-Zuid.

Annie has her family to thank for the experience. "Her niece came to us with this request," a police officer told the BBC. "When she was reporting a crime, she told the police officer about Annie's 'bucket list.'"

"You get many unusual requests with this profession," he added. "We thought it would be nice to do something special for Annie."

Politie Nijmegen-Zuid/Facebook

As you can see in the photos above, Annie’s brush with the law was a blast. However, she isn’t the only senior who has wondered what life is like behind bars. Last year, a 102-year-old woman named Edie Simms from St. Louis, Missouri was faux-arrested per her own bucket list request. Police teamed up with a local senior center to make Simms’s dream come true. "She was so excited that she can ride in a police car and she said, 'Do you think you could put those handcuffs on me?'" Michael Howard, executive director of Five Star Senior Center, told KPLR. Talk about centenarians gone wild!

[h/t BBC]

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