Did Your Favorites Win a 2023 Libby Award?

Every year, animal rights organization Peta2 hosts the Libby Awards to recognize and celebrate the best cruelty-free and vegan products, as well as memorable moments that have made a positive impact for animals. The awards showcase the growing popularity and success of the cruelty-free and vegan movement, highlighting the innovation and compassion behind these products and initiatives. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at this year’s winners, including the favorite cruelty-free beauty product, the most craveable vegan snack, and the best viral moment for animals.

Favorite Cruelty-Free Beauty Product. The beauty industry has seen a significant shift towards cruelty-free and vegan products in recent years, with more and more brands recognizing the importance of animal welfare. This year’s winner for the favorite cruelty-free beauty product is [Product Name]. This exceptional product not only delivers outstanding results but also aligns with the values and ethics of conscious consumers. Its cruelty-free status ensures that no animals were harmed or tested upon during its production, making it a top choice for those seeking ethical beauty options.

Most Craveable Vegan Snack. The popularity of veganism has led to a surge in delicious and innovative plant-based snacks. This year’s winner for the most craveable vegan snack is [Snack Name]. With its mouthwatering flavors and guilt-free ingredients, this snack has won the hearts and taste buds of vegans and non-vegans alike. Its recognition in the Libby Awards highlights the increasing demand for satisfying and cruelty-free snack options that cater to a wide range of dietary preferences.

Best Viral Moment for Animals. In the age of social media, viral moments have the power to raise awareness and make a lasting impact. The best viral moment for animals this year goes to [Moment Name]. This powerful and heartwarming event captured the attention of millions, shedding light on the importance of animal rights and inspiring change. From heartwarming rescues to inspiring stories of animal advocacy, these viral moments play a crucial role in creating a more compassionate world for animals.

The Peta2 Libby Awards serve as a platform to recognize and celebrate the best cruelty-free and vegan products, as well as impactful moments for animals. The winners of this year’s awards showcase the incredible progress being made in the cruelty-free and vegan movement, highlighting the increasing demand for ethical and compassionate alternatives. As more consumers embrace cruelty-free options, the industry continues to evolve, offering a wide range of innovative products that align with our values. Through initiatives like the Libby Awards, Peta2 encourages individuals to make conscious choices that promote the well-being of animals and contribute to a more compassionate world. So, whether you’re looking for the best cruelty-free beauty product, a mouthwatering vegan snack, or want to be inspired by viral moments for animals, the Peta2 Libby Awards are a great resource to discover and celebrate the best in cruelty-free and vegan products and initiatives.


Park Eun-bin from Netflix Series, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Elephants Beaten and Chained for Shrine Circuses & Sustainable Action Now Highlights Recent Protests!

Check out the highlights from some of our recent actions:

We hope you’ll join us at the next protest near you!

If you are you someone who is passionate about fighting for animal rights and if you want to make a difference to create change in the world, look for a protest near you.

Whether you are a seasoned activist who has been protesting for years or someone who is just starting out and has never attended a protest, we want to extend a warm invitation to you to join us in the fight for animal rights.

We believe that everyone has a role to play in creating a better world, and that no matter where you come from or what your background is, you can make a difference.

Our movement is inclusive and welcoming, and we strive to create a space for people of all walks of life to come together and work towards a common goal. So whether you are a student, a parent, a professional, or anything in between, we hope that you will join us and be a part of this important work.

Let’s stand together and fight for a better future for all beings.

Here are some highlights from some of the more recents protests:

The new hit series on Netflix from South Korea, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, is attracting international attention. For those of you who are not familiar with the show, it features a young woman, Park Eun-bin, who is an attorney starting her first job in South Korea and who happens to be autistic. Rotten Tomatoes rates the show 100% for critics’ endorsement.

But the big surprise of the show is that Attorney Woo is a passionate lover of whales and dolphins. While the show is not expressly about whales and dolphins, they appear here and there in every episode as her psychic muses. Attorney Woo herself is a passionate opponent of captivity and the killing of dolphins and whales.

Capitalizing on the stunning popularity of the series, the International Marine Mammal Project’s (IMMP’s) office in the Philippines came up with the ingenious idea to feature a look-alike Attorney Woo as part of their demonstration against the Taiji dolphin hunts on September 1st. The demonstration garnered wide media attention in the Philippines, and appeared in news stories in Japan Today and the Global Mirror.

PETA supporters with heavy chains blocked the entrance to the Yaarab Shrine Circus, which continues to exploit elephants and other animals, on its opening day. Padlocked together to the chains, activists prevented anyone from entering the circus grounds. PETA is asking Shrine circuses to end all animal acts.

The world’s largest Starbucks location closed temporarily after several PETA supporters wearing cow masks sat down and demanded that the coffee chain stop charging extra for vegan milks. Would-be customers were offered a free vegan latte instead.

Just before Easter, PETA’s thought-provoking baby barbecues in Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and Jacksonville, Florida, reminded everyone that animals are just babies when they’re slaughtered and that there’s no real difference between them and human babies. We asked everyone to keep all babies off the grill this Easter holiday and every day by going vegan.

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. 

PETA continued to push forward with its campaign against Budweiser, the King of Tears, to urge the beer company to stop mutilating Clydesdales by cutting off their tailbones. PETA supporters crashed Budweiser’s 90th anniversary party in St. Louis and protested at other Clydesdale appearances throughout the U.S.

PETA supporters continue to pressure Whole Foods to stop enabling the rampant abuse of the Thai coconut milk industry, which uses cruel forced monkey labor. PETA “monkeys” have been seen dumping hundreds of humanely picked coconuts and smashing them in protest outside Whole Foods stores in Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Washington, D.C.

Whole Foods closed its D.C. location for several hours after protesters entered the store and held a sit-in on top of the checkout counters.


Atlanta police training site is awash in history


Joe Peery was pushing his way through a particularly dense area in the South River Forest one day in 2014 when he stumbled upon what he first thought was a graveyard.

The east Atlanta resident discovered the wooded haven just outside of the city when searching for mountain bike trails and a place to hike with his dog. He’d often find weird things out there — sometimes cars riddled with bullet holes or in another case an abandoned Wurlitzer organ.

But the 8-foot-long structures, with the names ‘Poe,’ ‘Homer’ and ‘Virgil’ carved meticulously into their faces, looked to him like the remnants of another time.

“There were all these huge marble stones that were just sticking up out of the ground that were really elaborate and beautiful,” he recalled.

Known as the Carnegie stones, the marble blocks were actually the remains of Atlanta’s first library that was built at the corner of Church Street (now Carnegie Way) and Forsyth Streets in 1902.

After being demolished in 1977, stones with the names of famous authors that once were displayed proudly on the facade of the building were dumped in the South River Forest.

Peery joined an effort to rescue the stones, but he said the historical slabs were caught in limbo between DeKalb County, where the land resides, and the city of Atlanta, which owns the land.

Today, the land in the South River Forest is at the center of a heated debate over Atlanta’s plans to build an 85-acre public safety training facility, which the city argues is imperative to properly train and recruit police officers and firefighters.

Tensions have been heightened by the recent indictment of more than 60 training center opponents under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. On Thursday, police arrested five people who chained themselves to construction equipment.

Many of the opponents cite environmental concerns or fear of increased policing as an argument against the project. The growing opposition has sparked an effort to put the training center on the ballot through a referendum vote.

A small group of people is worried about something much different: the potential loss of history.

“We know the area that’s been cleared (for the project) includes the area where the Carnegie stones were, so I have no idea what’s happened to them,” Peery said.

Credit: Library of Congress

Credit: Library of Congress

The uncertain fate of the Carnegie stones isn’t the only concern for local history buffs and residents who had been exploring the land long before the city of Atlanta OK’d plans to build the facility.

The massive property has lived many lives and played host to some of the most brutal chapters of Atlanta’s history. First inhabited by Muscogee people, the area was also several plantations, saw troop movement during the Civil War and was eventually operated by the city as a prison farm.

Apart from trash dumped there over the years, residents who explored the area may have come across things like the remains of the prison buildings or traversed over the graves of multiple zoo animals — both Coca and Maude the elephants and gorilla Willie B.

But up until the controversial project made headlines, much about the land was a mystery. Only small handfuls of local enthusiasts and hikers spent time exploring under the canopy of one of the region’s biggest urban forests.

A team of historians from the Atlanta History Center recently spent time compiling all they could about the history of the 85 acres which seems destined to hold Atlanta’s massive public safety facility. The organization was asked by the mayor’s office to find out what they could about the site for as far back as history would allow. This story relies heavily on those findings.

The task wasn’t easy for a number of reasons. Previous historians and newspaper reports over the years had mistakenly conflated the prison farm site with a federal prison farm — known as the honor farm — that operated nearby. The DeKalb County Courthouse, which housed decades of property records, also mysteriously burned down in 1842.

The city-run prison farm morphed quickly from its early uses — originally purchased to be a crematorium, it turned into a dairy farm and then to the prison — so it was referred to by many different names.

“We knew that we not only were starting from scratch, we were starting from misinformation,” said Claire Haley, vice president of special projects at the center. “So correcting that was a challenge.

We’re glad that people are interested in that history because I think whatever resolution you come to about all these issues, it will only be made more complete by understanding that history.”

Historians who have tracked the history of land parcels 82 and 83 — the site of the training center in unincorporated DeKalb — go much further back than the prison farm era and the Civil War.

Less than two miles away from the site of the training facility, archeologists found the earliest signs of an Atlanta-area civilization that existed during the late Archaic and early Woodland periods, from 3,000 BCE to 0 CE, known today as Soapstone Ridge, a historic district in DeKalb County.

Historians believe that there could be a link between the historic site and the training center property.

Hundreds of years later, the Muscogee people lived on the land. The Native American tribe was once called by historian Alan Gallay “the most powerful Indian nation on the southern frontier.”

Some descendants of the Muscogee people have joined opponents of the training center to save what they call the Weelaunee Forest, known today as the South River Forest.

In the early 1800s the U.S. government pressured the Muscogee people into millions of acres of land cessions. In 1821, during the Treaty of Indian Springs, present-day Atlanta was sold off to white settlers in a land lottery.

Local archeologist Casey Sharp said he’s spent time researching all the previously recorded archeological finds within one mile of the proposed training center site.

“I can guarantee you that Native American sites are being run over there as we speak,” Sharp said.

While construction crews might not come across mass burials or mounds, they’ll likely come across things like pottery and arrowheads, he said.

“Disturbing a little bit of stuff like that during construction is not the biggest deal,” Sharp said. “But you’re supposed to take steps to mitigate that from happening as much as possible.”

As part of the project process, the Atlanta Police Foundation commissioned an archeological survey of the proposed area, conducted by a company called Terracon.

The first version of their report was presented to the project’s Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee and raised eyebrows when much of the historical background on the site was inaccurate. The company also did not fulfill the requirement to conduct interviews with area experts. The committee requested Terracon correct factual errors and issue an amended report.

Sharp, who conducts the same surveys for his job, said that a revised report that followed, to him, looks like the company simply made a cursory check of the area to sign off on the project.

Just a mile or so away from the training center site on a Friday afternoon, a ragtag group of local history buffs including Sharp and Peery waded through a shins-deep area of the South River.

“You don’t need a hugely trained eye to find stuff,” Sharp said. On that day, the group easily stumbled across pieces of worked quartz — with markings indicating they were fashioned into tools — and pieces of chert that was commonly traded between Native American tribes.

Terracon didn’t list a single archeological find. If it had, it wouldn’t have stopped construction but would have triggered a higher level of archaeological monitoring.

“Testing resulted in no cultural materials identified from the subsurface or surface,” Terracon concluded, although surveyors recommended mitigation efforts to protect prison farm buildings that fall under criteria for historic classification.

A faction of training center opponents is worried about potential unmarked graves from the plantation era through years of inhumane conditions at the prison farm — although no evidence has been found to support the theory.

“Considering the history of that land,” Sharp said, “the possibility of there being unmarked graves in that area is unbelievably high.”

Nearly six decades ago, Atlanta Constitution reporter Dick Herbert hatched a plan to get himself arrested.

In 1965, almost all of the inmates at the Atlanta prison farm on Key Road in the southeast side of the city were there for drunken behavior in public or traffic violations for an average stay of around 15 days.

While they were there, they were assigned activities like harvesting vegetables from okra to collard greens, tending to the city’s livestock or plowing tractors across the grounds.

Herbert, by this own choice, was one of them.

The undercover journalist sought to expose the brutal reality of life inside the stone walls. His reporting spotlighted the prison’s hostile ecosystem including a rampant prescription pill trade, a rigid class structure created by inmates and long days spent chopping away at kudzu vines with a scythe that left blisters on their hands.


To zoom in on the pages, click the three bars at top right. Then click “Original Document (PDF).”

Historians hail his series of seven articles as one of the only first-person accounts of how inmates led their lives on the roughly 300-acre property.

Newspaper reports throughout the years since Atlanta began operating the prison farm in 1925 detail severe overcrowding, lack of access to medical care, limited air-conditioning and mass disease — most notably an influenza outbreak in 1957. One news article on the prison farm mentioned a rampant infestation of lice.

One Atlanta Constitution article from May 1976 references the graves of 280 inmates on the prison farm site but doesn’t go into further detail.

At the prison farm, if an inmate was caught breaking the rules in 1976, they’d be sent to what correctional officers referred to as “motivational therapy rooms,” according to Atlanta Constitution articles, more commonly known as solitary confinement.

Until the site was recently closed to the public by Atlanta and the surrounding parks by DeKalb County officials, visitors could go stand inside what remained of the solitary confinement cells.

“There’s something about standing in a place,” said Haley with the history center. “We love history, we love reading about history, but there’s something about seeing it too that can really help people understand what we’re talking about.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ hand-picked training center task force recommended ways to memorialize the cruel history of the prison farm and suggested renovating current buildings for exhibits — but the dilapidated nature of the structures may create challenges.

Despite historians’ best efforts to nail down the site’s history decade after decade, there are still many unknowns.

The fire that engulfed the DeKalb County Courthouse one January night in 1842 took with it tax digests and deeds that were crucial to the puzzle of who owned and lived on the land after it was taken from Native peoples.

The blaze was attributed in news coverage at the time to the “carelessness of some card players at a late hour in the night, in one of the vacant rooms.”

What we do know is that two plantations operated on the property. From 1848 to 1850, William Morris owned the land and 12 enslaved people. Then it was sold to George P. Key — of Key Road — who farmed the land and owned up to 19 enslaved people which made it one of the largest slave plantations in DeKalb County.

There are two prominent and surprising gaps in knowledge: the time between the Civil War and the city’s purchase; and the very recent history of what was happening on the land after the prison farm closed.

“After that it is a bit murky,” Haley said. “There is some police training activity happening around there. Then it just seems like it kind of sat there for a long time and a lot of it was vacant.”

News coverage in the early 2000s started to identify the property as a potential park site. A lengthy report released in 2017 by the Department of City Planning called utilizing more than 1,200 acres of land in the South River Forest a “last chance for a massive urban park.”

That included the 300 or so acres of Atlanta-owned property home to the old prison farm.


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Pre-poll guarantees similar to White Elephants:


MGP meeting debates how five promises made by Congress to grab power is denting State finances

Mysore/Mysuru: With several thousands of crores of rupees being spent on the implementation of five pre-poll guarantees announced by the State Government, namely Shakti, Gruha Jyothi, Anna Bhagya, Gruha Lakshmi and Yuva Nidhi (which is yet to be implemented), along with several other schemes, the tax-payers will face an increasing financial burden in the days ahead.

This consensus emerged during the monthly meeting organised by Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) at Yadavagiri in the city recently. The meeting was attended by former employees of Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL), contractors and MGP members.

Many of the participants opined that all the five guarantees will be scrapped after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. “The Government will stall all development works to fund the guarantees till the Lok Sabha elections and after the polls, these populist schemes will be shelved as it is unrealistic to continue them. But enough damage would have been done to the State finances till the guarantees are withdrawn” they reasoned.

Despite the present State Government completing 100 days in office, there is no mention of any development projects commencing, not even in the media, during this period. Attendees of the meeting expressed concerns that the State may encounter challenging times in the coming days.

MGP Member Bhamy V. Shenoy stated, “The free schemes promised during the pre-election period will severely impact the State exchequer. While it is known that 200 units of power are being supplied to consumers for free, there are concerns about the quality of power supply to those whose electricity consumption exceeds 200 units.”

An MGP member elaborated on how the revenue and expenditures of Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC) and four other Electricity Supply Companies (Escoms) will be adversely affected due to the implementation of free 200 units of power.

The presentation included a detailed breakdown of expenses, including purchasing power from other States, maintaining coal stock for electricity generation, acquiring raw materials, and covering employee salaries, pensions and other expenses.

The Government’s guarantees are already becoming a part-reality, with the cost of each guarantee running into several thousands of crores of rupees per month. In July, hundreds of crores of rupees were allocated to the Transport Corporations under the Shakti Scheme. The MGP members discussed how these five guarantees could be considered ‘White Elephants’ if continued, as they would significantly impact the State’s fiscal condition and burden tax-payers.

The next step for protest or action should be decided only after evaluating the pros and cons of implementing schemes that involve the public. A suggestion was made during the meeting to submit a report to the Government after studying the impact of these guarantees on tax-payers.

MGP members, including retired KPTCL Engineer Sudheendra, Ashwathnarayan, Ravi Palya, Sridhar, industrialist Sreeshaila Ramannavar and others were present at  the meeting.


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Italy Real Estate Market Trends for 2024:


Investing in the real estate market in Italy in 2023-24
Mountains of Italy
Cities on a Human Scale
The help of an Italian attorney to invest in real estate

FLORENCE, TUSCANY, ITALY, September 8, 2023/ — Italy Real Estate Market Trends: Mountains and Cities Designed for People​​ are Rising up

Investing in the real estate market in Italy during 2023 and 2024

The Italian real estate market continued to show positive trends in the second half of 2022. The analysis was conducted by Tecnocasa, one of the most popular real estate websites in Italy. Its Research Office reveals that cities designed for people (città a misura d’uomo) registered increases and faster sales times during this period.

Despite changing market conditions, housing continues to attract savers looking to preserve their capital from inflation. The latter half of 2022 saw a return to investment, driven in part by the significant resurgence of tourists, which revitalized short-term rentals. Real estate is still considered an excellent use of capital, both in attractive cities and small-town destinations.

The report from the Tecnocasa Research Office highlighted that 18.2% of real estate transactions in the second half of 2022 were made for investment, slightly higher than the 2021 percentage of around 16.5%. Genoa is the Italian city where renting a property yields the highest returns. The study found that in the capital of Liguria, the yield is 6.4%, followed by Palermo (6.3%) and Verona (6.2%).

To get deeper into Italian geography, here you can have a look at the Italian regions where buying a house is more convenient.

Investing in the Mountains of Italy

Although Italy has 8300 km of coastline touched by the Mediterranean sea, for many lovers of the Belpaese the mountains are the real attraction. Tecnocasa Research Office also provided those insights. In Aosta Valley, there is an increase in demand from foreign buyers residing in Belgium and the Netherlands. They are interested in properties located in less touristy areas, surrounded by greenery, often purchasing typical houses that require significant renovation work. The opportunity to find more affordable prices in Italy compared to other European countries is a driving force behind their purchases.

In Veneto, in Asiago, the Tecnocasa network has observed the preferred areas including Laghetto Lumera, Zocchi, and Aeroporto, located near the city center. Prices in these areas range around €2,900 per square meter. The market in Gallio and Roana is also performing well, as the lower prices of properties from the 1970s to 1990s allow those with lower budgets to make purchases. The average prices for renovating houses are around €1,300 per square meter, while newer properties cost around €2,000 per square meter.

In Trentino-Alto Adige, many properties have been renovated using the Superbonus incentive. Prices for these new properties are around €3,500 per square meter. In the outskirts of Folgaria, there are smaller residential areas where housing prices average around €1,500 per square meter, making them affordable for those with lower budgets.

Cities on a Human Scale Experience Growth and Faster Sales Times, According to Analysis by Tecnocasa Research Office

In the second semester of 2022, major cities recorded an increase of 1.8% in housing prices, while the outskirts of these cities saw a growth of 1.1%. Several provincial capitals stood out with particularly positive trends. These cities continue to be appreciated as human-scale urban environments with a good quality of life, including green areas, family services, and proximity to metropolitan areas. Notably, some of the noteworthy provincial capitals showing price appreciation include Teramo (Molise), which also boasts a university and attracts investments for rental purposes or purchases by parents of university students.

Among the top five cities with the highest price variations, are two provincial capitals in Emilia-Romagna, Parma, and Reggio Emilia, often cited for their high quality of life. These cities also have significant university presence, attracting investment opportunities. Reggio Emilia is also undergoing redevelopment and improvement initiatives. Foreigners residing in the province of Reggio Emilia as of 1 January 2021 number 66,623 and represent 12.6% of the resident population. Foreigners resident in Parma on 1 January 2022 number 34,196 and represent 17.5% of the resident population.

When compared to a year ago, certain cities have maintained a positive growth trend, with Monza being one of them. Located near Milan, Monza benefits from its proximity to the Lombard capital and is expected to further benefit from ongoing metro projects and numerous redevelopment initiatives.

The important help of an Italian attorney to invest in real estate

In short, according to the data, 2024 will be the year to buy a house in the small provincial towns of central-northern Italy. They have it all: beautiful and affordable real estate, excellent food, art, culture, theatres, and, lately, even a decent public transport network.

When it comes to investing in real estate, particularly in a foreign country, the process can be complex and fraught with potential pitfalls. This is especially true in Italy, a country with a rich tapestry of historical, legal, and cultural nuances.

When considering an Italian real estate attorney, ILF – Law Firm, based in Florence, stands out as a prime example of the services needed as an investor. Comprising a team of Italian English-speaking lawyers, their expertise combines deep knowledge of Italian law with a clear understanding of the international investor’s perspective.

As we head into 2024-2025, the role of a dedicated Italian attorney becomes even more critical. They offer crucial aid in areas like due diligence, legal representation, contract drafting and review, negotiations, and property registration.

ILF – Law Firms provides expert legal services, understanding the importance of personalized attention. You’ll be partnering with a team that’s not only proficient in Italian law but also committed to making the investment journey a successful one.

Michele Ambrogio
ILF – Law Firm
+39 055 098 1586


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At Beth Karper’s stuffed toy hospital, animals and


Some arrive with the love nearly squeezed out of them. Some have had run-ins with family pets. Some have survived natural disasters. Some have been mangled in the washing machine or burned in the dryer. Some arrive in pieces. Some are literally on their last thread.

But no matter how they arrive, Beth Karper makes those beloved stuffed animals and dolls feel like new again at Realms of Gold, the toy hospital she runs out of her home studio in Los Altos. It’s where the torn, falling apart, and heavily-hugged go for love and care.

You can run into all sorts of patients here — lions, tigers, bears, bunnies, lambs, elephants, cows and other plush pals. More high-profile toy celebrities passing through have included Raggedy Ann, Raggedy Andy, Care Bears, Paddington Bear, Scooby-Doo, Barney, Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and sometimes Tigger too.

Regardless of a toy’s popularity level, each receives a patient number and is set up in its own space during its stay. Since starting the hospital nearly 20 years ago, Karper has helped more than 6,000 toy patients from around the world.

People who’ve sent in their stuffed friends have told Karper that they’ve had them since childhood; others have come from parents who’ve had to dig through rain and mud to find them again; others were left behind on vacation but were shipped home by hotels.

“It’s been everywhere, and it’s part of me, and yet, getting rid of it would almost be like losing part of yourself,” Karper said people tell her of their dolls and stuffed animals. “There’s also people who are like, literally, this is the only thing they have from their childhood. And sometimes that’s because they’ve just had a busy life and they’re now 80 years old and this is what was left.”

A woman sews a toy snowman at her home.

Beth Karper repairs a toy snowman at her home in Los Altos.

(Michaela Vatcheva / For The Times)

Karper has been making dolls since she was a child in Maryland. She was a children’s librarian in Ohio making dolls for story time and later on was a librarian for the Braille Institute in Los Angeles before moving to the Bay Area with her husband in 2000. When she left her librarian job, she decided to make dolls full-time, selling them at art shows and online and soon had people asking whether she could repair their stuffed animals and dolls too.

But her desire to help renew the life of dolls and stuffed animals was sealed after the teddy bear she had had since she was a baby was rejected by a repair and restoration store in New York City. The bear had been stitched up “hundreds of times” over the years by her father or grandmother, Karper said. But she was not comfortable fixing her bear on her own. The rejection was devastating.

“They told me that he wasn’t a fancy enough teddy bear, that they only worked with antique teddy bears, like the old classic jointed ones that you see from the turn of the century,” Karper said. “They wouldn’t touch him; his fur was too messed up, they couldn’t sell it and they wouldn’t do anything.”

The rejection drove her to become more comfortable with fixing her bear and helping others.

Every patient has a story. Karper said the toys are sent for a variety of reasons, including somebody going to college or graduating from college, going to boot camp or coming home from a deployment, or the person is getting married and they want their favorite stuffed friend to be there celebrating with them. Other patients are being prepped to be passed along to a new child or grandchild.

“A lot of people anthropomorphize them — this is who has been with them their entire lives,” Karper said. “Even when an animal’s coming in, it’s going to the next generation so they can love it and have it be part of their life.”

Karper also runs a Tumblr site that documents her patients, with pictures and posts detailing her process for helping them get well and how she works with owners. The reposting of her work has led to patients coming from not only the U.S. but also around the world, including Australia, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Singapore.

“It’s cool to know that people are reading about them and feel comfortable enough to entrust their stuffed animals to travel, not just across the country but [also] around the world to get here for [me] to take care of them,” Karper said. “One of the ones from Italy was almost 100 years old, and it was his mom’s, but he was willing to risk the mail service to get it to me. That’s a lot of trust.”

A woman takes a photo of a toy sitting in a tub of sudsy water.

Beth Karper captures the moment a customer’s toy gets a “spa” treatment at Karper’s home in Los Altos.

(Michaela Vatcheva / For The Times)

Sales for plush toys between 2021 and 2022 rose by 31%, according to the NPD Group’s U.S. retail tracking services, which covers part of the U.S. toys market.

Susan Adamo Baumbach, acting chair of the toy design department at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, said people connect with plush toys in a variety of ways, be it the design, an animal they’ve always loved or something that was gifted to them. She said plush toys “age in a different way” than building blocks, games or sports equipment because they change slowly over time “and then it’s like, wow, this piece of plush has been loved and loved and it shows it.”

Adamo Baumbach added that the biggest misconception people often have about stuffed animals and other plush toys is that they’re only for kids and not adults. She pointed out that some households may be eager for their child to grow out of a toy but chances are, that will not happen, or there will be resentment if they’re forced to give up a toy they love.

“Maybe it’s an animal that we’ve had no interaction with or no love of but there’s something in that face, there’s something in that styling, there’s certainly something in the eyes, that is almost like falling in love at first sight,” Adamo Baumbach said.

At Realms of Gold, each patient is special to Karper, but there have been some standouts over the years. There’s the blue bunny she pieced back together based on a picture of its owner’s tattoo; the stuffed rhinoceros that had 30 years of adventures at the front of a big rig truck and needed to be cleaned so it could go with the retired trucker; the favorite stuffed toy a firefighter’s family wanted cleaned up so they could present to him when he came home; the favorite teddy bear a woman found in boxes she was going through after her mother died that needed to be stitched up.

Karper’s days include running soak baths for patients, stuffing patients, sewing, sending cost estimates for prospective patients, and packing patients for their journeys home. She also emails people with suggestions about fixing their plush friends and what kind of customizations can be made.

Being responsible for someone’s cherished toy comes with its own pressure.

“I try very hard to be very explicit about what I can and can’t do, and I also try very hard to be very explicit about what’s reversible and what’s not,” Karper said. “I don’t want to do something that’s not reversible and have the person be unhappy, because you want it to still be their stuffed animal.”

A toy minus its stuffiing is towel-dried.

Beth Karper towel-dries a toy at her home. After the toys dry in Karper’s bathroom for the first 24 hours, she then dries them outdoors in her yard.

(Michaela Vatcheva / For The Times)

The rejuvenation process depends on the patient but Karper sticks with her usual regimen. Most patients get a spa soaking to help with cleaning, refluffing their stuffing and getting the dirt off so their original color can be restored. The photos of patients sitting in bubble baths — nothing but their eyes and noses visible — are a popular part of Karper’s Tumblr site, and clients often like getting reassurance that their stuffed friends are doing well.

“That’s something that’s cute, and most people aren’t freaked out by,” Karper said. “I don’t send pictures of patients drying, because they look like fabric is cut out… All but one of their seams is closed, but they look flat, and that’s not the animal you remember, so most people don’t want to see that.”

The filling and more colorful parts are removed to help with air drying. After that, the toy is restuffed, with extra filling added in. Before being sewn shut, Karper will add a heart-shaped pouch with the patient’s previous stuffing, a suggestion made by a client that has stuck with her.

“Most of the time, people want their stuffed animal a little chubbier than it was, because stuffing compresses over time, and that’s part of how they get flat,” Karper said. “They’ll be like ‘They lost all their stuffing,’ and I’m like, ‘No, you’ve just hugged them a lot and the stuffing is all compressed.’”

A patient might need new eyes or a new nose. Karper said this is an important step for clients because these parts are held in place by safety washers and designed to not come out easily. Karper added that getting an exact match for an old nose or eye depends on availability or when they were manufactured.

“There are some people who will say, ‘Well, that’s really your soul, and let’s just keep them like that’ or sometimes people will say, ‘No, they really need to be able to see; the cataracts are bad,’” Karper said. “You could just replace the eyes, and most people would never notice, but I can’t do that because these are their memories, and I don’t want to change them without them.”

Years of helping patients has also taught her best practices for how to tackle specific issues.

If Karper can’t remove a patient’s stuffing, it can’t get a spa soak. The legs on Raggedy Ann dolls are made of red and white-striped fabric, which will bleed when it gets wet from tears or attempted washings — better to replace them with new fabric.

She bulk buys 10- and 20-pound boxes of hypoallergenic stuffing. There are bulk orders of stuffed animal eyes, but now with clear ones available, she can mix colors to match old eyes or make new ones. Shorter ply fur for stuffed toys missing patches or torn up will eventually blend into the rest of the fur with time and hugs. Commercial toys often have flat eyes that may need to be remade with felt. Helping a Barney patient often means buying a new Barney to be a donor to fix missing patches since the dinosaur’s color is proprietary. She’s bulk ordered sound boxes for teddy bears from Germany just in case an animal patient lost its voice.

“For a while, I had to source [koala] noses from Australia because nobody here had koala shaped plastic noses,” Karper said. “You didn’t want a regular triangular teddy bear nose or a puppy dog nose or a cat nose, you need a koala nose… I ordered a whole bunch of noses, so I have koala noses for any kind of koala that comes in.”

A woman adds fresh stuffing to a vintage Mickey Mouse toy.

Beth Karper adds fresh stuffing to a vintage Mickey Mouse toy after its cleaning.

(Michaela Vatcheva / For The Times)

When patients leave, Karper sends it home with a copy of its chart and discharge instructions. Those include keeping patients at a comfortable temperature and humidity, out of direct sunlight and out of hot attics, cold basements, washing machines and dryers. For patients that were on an increased stuffing diet during their hospital stay, Karper notes that “lots of hugs will aid in [their] continued healing and help them lose any weight gained.”

Karper said she’ll continue to run the hospital until she’s tired of the work. Knowing she has helped thousands of toy patients return to their owners in better condition has made her proud.

“I was doing a really good job of increasing the total amount of happiness in the world,” Karper said. “That’s the goal of the hospital, and if there’s over 6,000 patients out there, and there are people that are happier and together still because of me, that was a really good thing. I made a difference in the world.”


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Elephants face mini U21 Shield final against


It will be a mini cup final to decide who finishes top of the south section of the SA Rugby U21 Shield competition when EP’s Elephants lock horns with the Border Bulldogs in East London on Saturday.

When the teams met in Gqeberha two weeks ago Border emerged with the bragging rights after a bruising regional derby at the Adcock Stadium…


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Vinay Khosla and Lexi Boccuzzi | All the elephants



Columnists Vinay Khosla and Lexi Boccuzzi analyze the first Republican debate and the current state of the GOP primaries.
Credit: Jesse Zhang

Lexi: Welcome back to campus! I started my year off tabling for College Republicans at the SAC Fair, where countless budding Wharton finance bros asked if we could get Vivek Ramaswamy to come speak! Seems like he really made a splash at the Republican Primary Debate last month.

Vinay: It’s good to be back, Lexi. A splash is definitely an understatement. Personally, I found myself irritated every time he interrupted informed veteran policy makers to virtue signal hyper-right populist talking points, but alas! And, for the record, many analysts on both sides more or less shared that sentiment. He definitely speaks to a very specific demographic that … shall we say, predominates on Penn’s campus. 

Lexi: One man’s veteran policymaker is another man’s deep state insider, Vinay! 

Vinay: Touché. 

Lexi: To the rest of your point … his performance did highlight a stark contrast between the likes of Mike Pence and Nikki Haley who had a breadth of political experience and knowledge in their arsenal, making Vivek Ramaswamy appear somewhat lacking on the issues. That being said, his popularity among the Trump base, certainly challenges status quo perceptions of “MAGA.” 

Vinay: It’s not at all surprising that the MAGA base loves him given that at certain points in the debate he felt more like a Trump apologist — or, better yet, cheerleader — than a serious candidate in his own right. Coupled with his obvious inexperience (see Nikki Haley obliterating him over his foreign policy proposals on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine), the debate morphed into cheap political theater when he was involved. 

Lexi: A non-white candidate speaking that rhetoric definitely changes the tone though. As a brief aside, I think that his popularity speaks to growing pro-meritocracy sentiments in immigrant populations, which is building an interesting voter coalition. I wonder what the strategy is behind his relatively indistinguishable persona to that of Trump. Trump has even gone so far as to celebrate his performance since the debate. 

Vinay: Race is definitely playing an interesting role here and, without getting too into the weeds, I think maybe some of his more out-there rhetoric like “the climate change agenda is a hoax” and “the nuclear family is the greatest form of governance known to mankind” is a gross overcompensation for the fact he doesn’t fit the mold of the typical white, Christian Republican candidate. 

Lexi: That’s fair. Surely, this is indicative of Ramaswamy’s understanding of the base he is fighting for. That said, I think he is less of a deviation from the traditional conservative values he is purporting than Donald Trump. I am interested in the candidates who have continued separating themselves from the populists by emphasizing their commitment to living out their conservatism, notably Mike Pence.

Vinay: Maybe we’re all so used to Trump that it’s hard to see his rhetoric as anything other than authentic, and everyone else looks like a cheap imitation in comparison. But to your point, I did find Pence’s performance interesting in that he stood in pretty stark contrast to Ramaswamy and DeSantis. I think all the Jesus references were a bit much, although maybe that resonated with some …

Lexi: Politics is all about knowing your audience, Vinay! Speaking as the resident believer in this column, it’s certainly a refreshing contrast to both the populist right — and left — which often read very out of touch with the 27% of Americans who are regular churchgoers (and the broader 65% who identify as Christian). Even so, I tend to lean on the side that the politicization of religion in the United States can be very problematic to the health of religion — but that is a separate conversation entirely. 

Vinay: All of Pence’s God talk might have landed with some voters, but his commentary on January 6th certainly didn’t with the Trump-loyalist crowd. And the other candidates definitely took note of that, since none were quick to jump to his defense except for Chris Christie, the self-proclaimed Trump antagonist. 

Lexi: I was pretty pleased by the conversation around January 6th, honestly. I was glad that Pence’s presence (and his comments) forced the rest of the candidates on the stage to wrestle with the issue. It’s absolutely vital that they rebuke Trump, and support Pence’s actions on the day to explain to the electorate why they are better suited for the presidency, particularly when they are fighting his overwhelming primary support. 

Vinay: Agreed, but none of them were willing to take that stand. Even DeSantis ended up looking like a Trump groupie by the end of the exchange. Only Asa Hutchinson was willing to say he wouldn’t support a Trump candidacy if he was a convicted criminal, which is why I appreciated what (admittedly little) he had to say on the subject. Everyone else lacked a certain conviction which was a bit concerning: DeSantis made a look around the stage before he raised his hand! 

Lexi: You and I will likely disagree about this, but I am more sympathetic to what (I assume) is the opinion of establishment types like Nikki Haley and Tim Scott that the prosecutorial antagonizing of presidents, a culture which has persisted since the Nixon era, has more damning effects on our culture than a pardoning. Nevertheless, I think it’s indisputable that they distinguished themselves from “Trump groupies” in other ways. 

Vinay: I’m glad you brought up Nikki Haley because she had an absolutely phenomenal performance. I think she toed the line between moderatism and conservatism perfectly, and that shows her promise as a general election candidate. But her hesitancy to fully lean into the rhetoric that plays to the base makes me question whether she has what it takes to make it out of the primaries. That said, she put on a masterclass in balancing practical policy with sharp wit and received a well-deserved bump in the polls for it. 

Lexi: Yes … I recall our texts during the debate; I think this is the most endeared I’ve seen you be toward a Republican (even more so than you tolerate me!) Nikki Haley did have a spectacular showing. She got to debut her experience, class, and just basic literacy on the issues. There was a headline following the debate that I think summarized the situation beautifully, “Nikki Haley claimed the spotlight among crowd of ‘screaming men.’”

Vinay: To that point, her pivot from her largely uninspiring tenure as South Carolina governor to her performance on the debate stage was just phenomenal. She is frankly the only Republican candidate who doesn’t make me feel a sense of impending existential dread at their possible election. However, her showing really highlighted some of the more lackluster ones, especially DeSantis’. 

Lexi: To say you feel “existential dread” about the compassionate, school-choice-obsessed, South Carolina senator, Tim Scott, being president is liberal alarmism if I’ve ever seen it, Vinay.

Vinay: Well, let’s just focus on serious candidates for now, Lexi. 

Lexi: I have been very fond of Tim Scott since he was first elected, but I do think that Nikki Haley showed she may be better suited for playing the ‘conservative establishment alternative’ role than he is. Insert my woman-in-politics rant here after her fabulous Margaret Thatcher quote during the debate, but this seems to be a sentiment reflected by the general public as well. She had a significant boost in fundraising and polling support following her performance. Surprisingly, DeSantis also seemed to increase his numbers, despite what a lot of people seemed to feel was an uninspired display.  

Vinay: I think “uninspired” is generous. He said quite literally nothing of note and faded into the background on many issues including abortion and climate change, both of which he was uniquely positioned to distinguish himself on. Of course, being a former/current elected official can be both a blessing and a curse, with DeSantis failing to capitalize in key moments and being outshined on more national issues by candidates like Haley. 

Lexi: I would say that the DeSantis-Haley contrast really does a good job of articulating what the non-Trump future of the party could look like. DeSantis, in my view, seemed to maybe not be as exciting as a Ramaswamy-type, but he certainly is consciously not rocking the GOP boat. He is offering a less rhetorically fiery status quo, which has always been his style but was amplified by the debate. Haley, on the other hand, was “treating the Republican electorate like adults,” and offering a much more realistic approach to our pressing political issues, notably abortion.

Vinay: That’s an interesting point and now we have to address the elephant that wasn’t in the room: Trump. I think DeSantis’s status quo strategy is largely playing into Trump’s hands. By failing to differentiate himself, he’s really not drawing away any support from Trump. And frankly, there just isn’t enough demand for a non-Trump candidate for that to be a sound strategy as of right now. 

Lexi: We shall see. There is a lot of uncertainty given the state of Trump’s indictment and the threats to use the 14th Amendment to prohibit him from making it onto the ballot. Logistics aside though, while Trump not attending the debate may have made it appear as an inconsequential squabble of potential vice president picks, as someone who is a self-acknowledged Republican political junkie, I enjoyed the oxygen a Trump-free room allowed, and the serious conversation about the future of the party that his absence provided.

Vinay: Leaving alone his legal woes, I agree. It was definitely an interesting debate without him, yet his influence remained very much felt if not explicitly verbalized at multiple points. I think this speaks to his continued dominance in Republican political discourse and why much of the night felt like cheap political theater when we remember he was leading by a cool 30 points at the start of the debate in some polls. Despite my most ardent desires, after this debate, I still don’t see a future where Trump is not the 2024 candidate.

Lexi: If 2016 taught anyone anything, it’s that no one can predict the future of American politics anymore. Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have a lot to decide, and there’s a lot of time that will pass in the meantime! Right now, I am sitting back and enjoying the show.

Vinay: Enjoying is a strong word — but I am definitely buckled in tight for the ride.

VINAY KHOSLA is a College junior studying english and political science from Baltimore, Md. His email is

LEXI BOCCUZZI is a College senior studying philosophy, politics, and economics from Stamford, Conn. Her email is  


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Khata bio-corridor settlers in constant fear of


Jogipure Chaudhary, a landless squatter from ward 3 of Madhuwan Municipality, spends his nights at a relative’s house in Dhanaura due to fear of elephant attack.

“We can’t stay at home after dusk since the wild animals from the forests enter the settlement,” said Chaudhary.

Last month, on August 26, a wild elephant demolished Chaudhary’s house. And last year also a herd of elephants had torn down his home. Chaudhary and his family members had survived as they managed to flee.

The settlement of landless people, which is near the Nepal-India border, lies along the bio-corridor through which wild animals move to and from the Bardiya National Park and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary of India. Elephants in herds pass through the settlement almost every day.

Bhandhuwa Tharu, another local, is worried about sustenance this year since wild elephants destroyed his maize and paddy fields a few days ago.

“With the crops destroyed, I don’t know how to feed the family this year,” said Tharu. “I heard that the government provides compensation for the damaged crops and properties. But I have not received any compensation so far.”

Bandhuwa owns five kattha [1 kattha is 338.63 sq metres] of land that the government provided a few years ago. He planted maize and paddy, but the wildlife, mainly the elephants, destroyed them. “The elephants ravage the fields during the harvest season.”

On September 4, a herd of elephants entered a cornfield at Bhagaraiya in Madhuwan-3 and destroyed maize planted in 10 kattha of land. According to Laxmi Chand, a local, the herd of around 25 to 30 elephants entered the settlement and wreaked havoc.

The residents of various settlements in Madhuwan are hugely affected due to the recurring damage caused by wildlife.

Wild elephants destroyed the house of Ram Prasad Tharu twice last year. “The tuskers dismantled my house last year. I took a loan and rebuilt the house. But the elephants destroyed that too last week,” said Ram Prasad of Madhuwan-3 who is taking shelter at Dhanaura.

According to Ram Prasad, the landless people started living near the Nepal-India border in Madhuwan-3 in the 1990s. There are settlements at Dhanaura, Bhagaraiya and Bipatpur areas of Madhuwan-3.

“The villagers are in abject terror of wild animals. Once it’s evening, people cannot come out of their houses. We stay awake at night to chase away elephants by beating drums and lighting bonfires,” said Prem Pun Magar of Madhuwan-3.

Settlements along the Khata bio-corridor, a 24-km pathway along the shared border of Bardiya National Park in Nepal and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in India, are under constant threats from the wildlife that use the corridor.

According to Santosh Chaudhary, assistant forest officer at Khata Range Post, wild elephants have destroyed eight houses along the corridor over the past two months. The tuskers demolished three houses in the landless settlement, two in Khothiyaghat of Madhuwan-3 and three other houses at Majhara of Rajapur Municipality-10.

According to Santosh, the tuskers killed three people and destroyed 10 houses last year along the Khata bio-corridor. Besides elephants, the bio-corridor is also frequented by rhinos, leopards and monkeys. “Tigers and leopards enter the settlements and kill domesticated animals while monkeys destroy crops, mainly maize,” said Dhana Bahadur Khatri of Bhagaraiya in Madhuwan-3.

The Postal Highway connects Gulariya, the district headquarters of Bardiya, with the Rajapur area across the Karnali River through the Khata bio-corridor. One has to cross a dense forest about two kilometres long while travelling along the Gulariya-Rajapur section. Wild animals like elephants, tigers, leopards and rhinos attack people while crossing the road section.

“Wild animals often move to and from Bardiya National Park and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary through the Gulariya-Rajapur road section. Travellers should be cautious while passing through the road through the forest,” said Bhadai Tharu, a conservationist based in Bardiya.

Conservationists and people’s representatives are worried about the increasing incidents of human-animal conflict in the area. “The authorities should provide compensation for the damage caused by wildlife. Also, the government should develop programmes to engage the locals in income-generating activities, so that they don’t have to rely on forest resources for livelihood. This would greatly minimise human-animal conflict,” said Min Thapa, the ward chairman of Madhuwan-1.

The forest area in the Khata bio-corridor covers around 202 square kilometres. According to the Khata Forest Coordination Committee, there are a total of 4,802 households in various settlements along the corridor. Security personnel and conservation officials urge people not to venture into the forest after dusk.

“We have imposed a ban on entering the forest areas after dusk. Besides saving crops and other properties, people have a tough time protecting themselves from wild animals,” said Bam Bahadur Kunwar, Armed Police Force inspector at the Border Outpost in Bhagaraiya.

According to the data of the Division Forest Office, in the past three years, 12 people have lost their lives in tiger attacks along the Khata corridor alone. In the district, at least 27 people have died in various wildlife attacks during the same time period.


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