Inspirational Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles in Major Media
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Twenty some years ago David Milarch hovered above the bed, looking down at his motionless body. Years of alcoholism had booted him out of his life. An inexplicable cosmic commandment would return him to it. His improbable charge? To clone the world's champion trees - the giants that had survived millennia and would be unvanquished by climate change. Experts said it couldn't be done. Fast-forward to today, and Milarch is now the keeper of a Noah's Ark filled with the genetics for repopulating the world's most ancient trees. Founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive he is on a mission to restore the lungs of the planet. "Spend a couple of days in an old-growth forest, you'll come out different from when you went in. Those trees affect our physical, mental and especially our spiritual bodies. And I do believe that anyone, everyone can learn to communicate with them," [said Milarch]. "98% of the old-growth forests in the US are gone. We didn't even study those trees. We didn't know what they did for the quality of life on earth - the water, air, shade. In Jim Robbins’ book, "The Man Who Planted Trees," he writes about the new science of trees and what roles they play for all living things on earth. #1. Trees talk to all the other trees, not only in the forest, but also over great distances. #2. Trees feel and register pain, and they express that pain, and other trees pick it up #3. There are critically important aerosols that come out of the needles and leaves of trees that prevent endemic diseases from spreading over the planet.
The newest resident of "Sesame Street" has orange hair and a fondness for her toy rabbit. She also has autism. Julia has been a part of the "Sesame Street" family via its storybooks and was so popular that the decision was made to add the character to the TV series. "I think the big discussion right at the start was, 'How do we do this? How do we talk about autism?,'" one of the show's writers, Christine Ferraro, told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl. Over the almost five decades "Sesame Street" has been on the air, it has established a reputation for inclusion with its characters. Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the founders of the Children's Television Workshop which developed "Sesame Street," said it has also not been afraid to deal with real life issues. Julia's debut episode will deal with what autism can look like. The brain disorder can make it difficult for people with autism to communicate with and relate to others. The character of Big Bird talked to Stahl about his first interaction with Julia in which she ignored him. "I thought that maybe she didn't like me," he said. "Yeah, but you know, we had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird," the Elmo character added. "It's just that Julia has autism. So sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things." Ferraro hopes that along with educating viewers about autism the new character will settle in as a part of the neighborhood. "I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on Sesame Street who has autism," the writer said. "I would like her to be just Julia."
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We’re all wired for kindness. We act kindly because we know instinctively it’s the right thing to do, and believe the world could do with more kindness. A network of relationships sustained by kindness can benefit us all, both physically and psychologically. It can slow the effects of ageing too. People under stress tend to be more prone to infections and disease. As we get older, the immune system weakens. But studies have shown that both giving and receiving kindness boosts the immune system. A positive attitude to life’s stressors helps us recover faster from illness and strengthens our ability to fight off disease. Kindness can even slow the formation of wrinkles. Groups of unstable molecules called free radicals produce something called oxidative stress in the body, which causes nasty physiological reactions, including hardening of the arteries and memory loss. It also leads to visible signs of ageing. But being kind produces a substance called oxytocin, often known as the ‘love hormone’, as we make more of it when we feel love, share positive contact and have sex. The less oxytocin we have, the more free radicals we get. A study at the University of California, Riverside, [asked] volunteers ... to perform five acts of kindness a week for six weeks. These included donating blood, paying for someone’s parking or visiting an elderly relative. Using established measurements of happiness, psychologists found those who performed the kind acts became happier, while a control group who didn’t, well, didn’t.
Note: The above article was adapted by Alison Roberts from the book "The Five Side Effects Of Kindness" by Dr David Hamilton. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A cradle outside a home in Lucknow may look strange for passersby but for orphaned and abandoned girls, it ensures love, warmth and motherly care. Dr Sarojini Agarwal, now 80 years old, is ‘Maa’ to the scores of girls and young women who live at Manisha Mandir (as the destitute home is called) ... where she raises her adopted daughters. Her [own] eight-year-old daughter Manisha died in a road accident in 1978. “I was lamenting the loss of one when there were so many other Manishas, homeless and unloved, looking for a mother. Perhaps I could give them a loving home,” she recalls. Manisha Mandir was set up in 1985. The first girl she adopted was a deaf and mute child whose mother, a divorcee, had died while giving birth. Other girls followed – some who were found abandoned, others given up as unwanted while some others were picked up from the streets by Agarwal. A few also found their way out of brothels. Dr Agarwal also began hanging a crib ... near the gate of her home. Here, people could leave abandoned newborns, instead of leaving them on the streets. Over the years, Manisha Mandir has changed addresses a few times and is now housed in a sprawling, three-storey home. The abandoned and orphaned girls taken in by Manisha Mandir stay at the home till the age of 17-18 and are then encouraged to take up a job. Till date, close to 800 girls have stayed at the home and many of them have made their mark as bank managers, teachers and principals, while others have married into good families.
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For three years, Victor Hubbard stood on a street corner - rain or shine - waiting for his mom to come back and get him. Every day, residents of Kemah, Texas, passed the man. Ginger Sprouse ... was admittedly one of those people. She probably saw Hubbard at least four times a day. Each time, she wondered why he was there. One day, in late December, she finally decided to roll down her window and ask. Hubbard began to talk about his history, explaining that his mom left him, he’s been battling mental illness and he doesn’t have a place to live. Sprouse felt for the man, and decided to share his story with the world - on a Facebook page called “This is Victor.” Slowly but surely, the page started to take off. Dozens of people volunteered to help the man, and Sprouse led the charge. She cooked meals, washed clothes, helped him set up appointments with a mental health professional and welcomed him into her home. “I’m so overwhelmed by the compassion by people,” said Sprouse, as others volunteered to help. A few days later, she created a GoFundMe page, encouraging people to donate to help the “sweet, gentle man” get back on his feet. Within two months, Hubbard received more than $14,700 in donations. Fast forward three months later, nearly 9,000 people now follow “This is Victor” on Facebook to receive updates on his progress. He recently landed a job as a cook in Sprouse’s [food service company]. He can’t help but wear a big smile on his face. “She came around and she kind of saved me,” Hubbard [said].
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Iceland will be the first country in the world to make employers prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality. The government said it will introduce legislation to parliament this month, requiring all employers with more than 25 staff to obtain certification to prove they give equal pay for work of equal value. While other countries, and the U.S. state of Minnesota, have equal-salary certificate policies, Iceland is thought to be the first to make it mandatory for both private and public firms. The North Atlantic island nation, which has a population of about 330,000, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022. Equality and Social Affairs Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson said "the time is right to do something radical about this issue. Equal rights are human rights. We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace. It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that." Iceland has been ranked the best country in the world for gender equality by the World Economic Forum, but Icelandic women still earn, on average, 14 to 18 percent less than men. In October thousands of Icelandic women left work at 2:38 p.m. and demonstrated outside parliament to protest the gender pay gap. Women's rights groups calculate that after that time each day, women are working for free. The new legislation is expected to be approved by Iceland's parliament. The government hopes to implement it by 2020.
The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions have fallen to their lowest level since the 19th century as coal use continues to plummet, analysis suggests. Emissions of the major greenhouse gas fell almost 6% year on year in 2016, after the use of coal for electricity more than halved to record lows, according to the Carbon Brief website, which reports on climate science and energy policy. The assessment suggests carbon emissions in 2016 were about 381m tonnes, putting the UK’s carbon pollution at its lowest level ... since 1894. Carbon emissions in 2016 are about 36% below the reference year of 1990, against which legal targets to cut climate pollution are measured. Emissions of carbon dioxide from coal fell 50% in 2016 as use of the fossil fuel dropped by 52%, contributing to an overall drop in carbon output of 5.8% last year compared with 2015, Carbon Brief said. The assessment reveals that coal use has fallen by 74% in just a decade. UK coal demand is falling rapidly because of cheaper gas, a hike in carbon taxes on the highly polluting fuel, expansion of renewables, dropping demand for energy overall and the closure of Redcar steelworks in late 2015. While emissions from coal fell in 2016, carbon output from gas rose 12.5% because of increased use of the fuel to generate electricity – although use of gas remains well below highs seen in the 2000s. Gas use for home and business heating has been falling for a decade, thanks to more insulation and efficient boilers.
Never underestimate the power of one dedicated individual. A woman has been credited by the Danish Government for single-handedly helping the country reduce its food waste by 25 per cent in just five years. Selina Juul, who moved from Russian to Denmark when she was 13 years old, was shocked by the amount of food available and wasted at supermarkets. She told the BBC: “I come from a country where there were food shortages, we had the collapse of infrastructure, communism collapsed, we were not sure we could get food on the table”. Her organisation, Stop Spild Af Mad – which translates as Stop Wasting Food – made all the difference and is recognised as one of the key drivers behind the government’s focus to tackle food waste. Ms Juul convinced Rema 1000, the country’s biggest low-cost supermarket chain, to replace all its quantity discounts with single item discounts to minimise food waste. The retailer wasted about 80 to 100 bananas every day. However, after the supermarket put up a sign saying "take me I’m single", it reduced the waste on bananas by 90 per cent. In the past five years Denmark has become one of the leading European countries in the fight against food waste. Last year, a charity in Copenhagen opened Denmark’s first ever food surplus supermarket, which sells products at prices 30 to 50 per cent cheaper than usual retailers. Wefood is hoping to help reduce the 700,000 tonnes of food waste Denmark produces every year.
There was a time at Lincoln, a school once known as a last resort for those who were expelled from the area’s other high schools, when fights often ended in out-of-school suspensions or arrests. But Principal Jim Sporleder ... created an environment built on empathy and redemption through a framework called trauma-informed care, which acknowledges the presence of childhood trauma in addressing behavioral issues. The practices ... begin with the understanding that childhood trauma can cause adulthood struggles like lack of focus, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide. At Lincoln ... the graduation rate increased by about 30 percent and suspensions decreased by almost 85 percent a year after implementing the framework. Sporleder first arrived at the school in April 2007. The building was in a constant state of chaos. Sporleder took a hard line by handing out ... three-day out-of-school suspensions. Then, in the spring of 2010, he attended a workshop ... on the impacts of stressful childhood experiences. Keynote speaker John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, explained how toxic stress overfills the brain with cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Sporleder suddenly understood that his students’ behavior wasn’t completely in their control; their brains were affected by toxic stress. “It just hit me like a bolt of lightning that my discipline was punitive and it was not teaching kids,” he said. So he set out on a mission to bring trauma-informed care to his students.
Note: In the article above, students and educators share many personal success stories made possible by Lincoln's adoption of trauma-informed care. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
As of early Wednesday morning, a crowdfunding campaign started by Muslim activists had raised over $70,000 in an effort to help repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery. "Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration against the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery," read the crowdfunding campaign's website, which was spearheaded by Muslim-American activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi. The effort comes after more than 170 headstones were damaged late Sunday or early Monday at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, located in the St. Louis suburb of University City. The incident at the cemetery comes amid a spate of threats directed at Jewish centers across the nation this year. The FBI and the Justice Department announced earlier this week that they would investigate the multiple bomb threats directed toward at least 60 Jewish centers, including 11 threats made on Monday alone. The fundraisers for the "Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery" campaign said they launched the campaign in an effort to "send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities" and to condemn "hate, desecration, and violence." The campaign said the proceeds would go directly to the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, and that any additional funds leftover after the cost of restoration would "assist other vandalized Jewish centers nationwide.”
The tattoo on Shannon Martinez's leg gives away her past. By 16, she was a skinhead spouting white supremacist rhetoric, giving stiff-armed Nazi salutes and tagging public property with swastikas. Fortified by the love of an adopted family, Martinez left the skinheads behind. Today she's helping others do the same as part of an emerging U.S. movement that helps people quit hate organizations. Modeled loosely upon organizations that formed in Europe years ago to combat extremism, groups and individuals are offering counseling, education and understanding to extremists seeking a way out. Now a 42-year-old mom who homeschools her kids at their house in Georgia, Martinez volunteers with Life After Hate, a leading organization dedicated to helping people leave white supremacy. On Facebook, she shares her story with others who've left or are looking to leave extremism. Founded in 2009, Life After Hate was awarded a $400,000 Justice Department grant in the closing days of the Obama administration. While several other grant recipients are dedicated to countering radical Muslim ideology, Life After Hate concentrates specifically on showing white extremists there's another way. The group operates a website where people who want to explore leaving white extremism can submit contact information. It also conducts educational and counseling programs including the Facebook group where members sometimes chat with extremists trying to change their lives.
Note: The Life after Hate website provides inspiring stories and great resources for healing extremism with loving community.
Vitamin D supplements could spare more than three million people from colds or flu in the UK each year, researchers claim. The sunshine vitamin is vital for healthy bones, but also has a role in the immune system. The analysis, published in the British Medical Journal, argues food should be fortified with the vitamin. The immune system uses vitamin D to make antimicrobial weapons that puncture holes in bacteria and viruses. But as vitamin D is made in the skin while out in the sun, many people have low levels during winter. The researchers pooled data on 11,321 people from 25 separate trials to try to get a definitive answer. The team at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) looked at respiratory tract infections - which covers a wide range of illnesses from a sniffle to flu to pneumonia. Overall, the study said one person would be spared infection for every 33 taking vitamin D supplements. That is more effective than flu vaccination, which needs to treat 40 to prevent one case. There were greater benefits for those taking pills daily or weekly - rather than in monthly super-doses - and in people who were deficient in the first place. One of the researchers, Prof Adrian Martineau, said: "Assuming a UK population of 65 million, and that 70% have at least one acute respiratory infection each year, then daily or weekly vitamin D supplements will mean 3.25 million fewer people would get at least one acute respiratory infection a year."
The Indivisible Guide was put online by former congressional staffers to give both Republicans and Democrats an effective way to resist Trump policies. So far, 6,000 local groups have registered. Created by a group of former congressional staffers, the guide, now a website [takes] a page from the tea party’s playbook. “After the election ... we saw an uptick in the number of Facebook groups and online activists who were very well-meaning but were giving very bad advice,” said Sarah Dohl, a co-author of the Indivisible Guide. People were being urged to do things like call House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) or to sign an online petition. As former congressional staffers, Dohl and her Indivisible colleagues knew that unless you “live in the 1st District of Wisconsin, Paul Ryan doesn’t work for you,” she said. These ex-staffers witnessed firsthand how the tea party rose to power and convinced their own members of Congress to reject President Obama’s agenda. There are Indivisible groups in Arizona and Missouri — and many more are sprouting up all around the country. They are planning actions, showing up at their local representatives’ offices to voice complaints, demanding meetings and calling Congress. Beyond “demystifying Congress,” their goal is to support local groups that are “putting the Indivisible Guide into action.” Through the Indivisible site people can find local groups, plan local actions, and access organizing resources.
Note: The Indivisible movement is growing rapidly in the US. Find a group near you on this webpage. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The solar panels - 3,852 of them - shimmered above 10 acres of Jimmy Carter’s soil where peanuts and soybeans used to grow. 38 years after Mr. Carter installed solar panels at the White House, only to see them removed during Ronald Reagan’s administration, the former president is leasing part of his family’s farmland for [the] project. It is, Mr. Carter and energy experts said, a small-scale effort that could hold lessons for other pockets of pastoral America in an age of climate change and political rancor. “I hope that we’ll see a realization on the part of the new administration that one of the best ways to provide new jobs - good-paying and productive and innovative jobs - is through the search for renewable sources of energy,” Mr. Carter, 92, said in an interview. Although Mr. Carter, now decades removed from the night in February 1977 when he donned a cardigan sweater and spoke of the country’s “energy problem,” remains a keen student of energy policy, the solar project is also an extension of his legacy. The project on Mr. Carter’s land, which feeds into Georgia Power’s grid and earns the former first family less than $7,000 annually, did not need to be large to serve much of Plains, population 683 or so. It began when a solar firm, SolAmerica, approached Mr. Carter’s grandson Jason Carter about the possibility of installing panels here. The former president, who was 11 when his boyhood home got running water after his father installed a windmill, did not need convincing and became deeply involved with the project, writing notes in the margins of the lease agreement and visiting the site regularly.
Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes ... or in clubs for music, dance, or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents. Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42% in 1998 to 5% in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17% to 7%. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23% to just 3%. The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based. If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of kids. State funding was increased for organized sport, music, art, dance, and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance ... a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona ($310) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.
To foster any child takes an extraordinary amount of selfless love and devotion. But one man in Los Angeles has taken on an even more monumental role: caring for the city's dying children. Mohamed Bzeek is ... a devout Libyan-born Muslim who has spent the last 20 years giving hope and comfort to children no other person would touch - ten of whom have died. 'The key is, you have to love them like your own,' Bzeek told the Los Angeles Times. 'I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.' Bzeek, 62, moved to the US ... in 1978. He began fostering children in 1989, and in 1991 he experienced his first death. The girl had been affected in the womb by pesticides sprayed on her farm-worker mother, and her spine was so deformed that she had to wear a full body cast. She was in his home for just a year when she passed away. Bzeek still has a photograph of the girl. Now, Bzeek is caring for a girl who was born with encephalocele, which left her mentally and physically underdeveloped. She is blind and deaf, paralyzed in her arms and legs, and suffers seizures every day. But Bzeek keeps a vigil, day and night, over her tiny body, to make sure she has as much comfort as he can give her. 'I know she can’t hear, can't see, but I always talk to her,' he said. 'I'm always holding her, playing with her, touching her. … She has feelings. She has a soul. She's a human being.' Doctors gave up hope on the girl ... when she was two years old. She is now six.
Crowdfunding gets a lot of attention when it gives rise to oddball games. But Silicon Valley's largest startup accelerator believes the real bet is on crowdfunded healthcare. Y Combinator, the company responsible for launching Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit, has announced that it will invest in Watsi - a nonprofit that has brought healthcare to more than 11,000 people in 24 countries through nearly 22,000 online donations. Sam Altman, president of YC, explains that Watsi's approach to healthcare avoids a huge number of operational inefficiencies. A recent report from the World Health Organization calculated that 20-40% of all health spending worldwide gets wasted. But Watsi's crowdfunding model makes transparency a top priority - each patient's received donations and healthcare provider are logged in a master spreadsheet available on Watsi's website. "Funding individual patients encourages more people to donate, but it also results in patient-level data that makes it easier to identify fraud, evaluate the quality of care, measure health outcomes, etc.," Watsi co-founder Chase Adam [said]. When a family visits a hospital that has partnered with Watsi, but the patient can't afford to pay for the necessary care, a staff member will ask if they want to put their case on the site. If he or she agrees, the site's donors will then have the opportunity to make online donations straight to the patient. The company has also created a general fund that people ... can donate to if all patients on Watsi have already been funded.
The congregation of the Victoria Islamic Center in Texas was devastated. Its mosque was destroyed over the weekend in a fire, the cause of which is unknown. Then an act of kindness revived their spirits - the leaders of the local Jewish congregation gave them the keys to their synagogue so they could continue to worship. The leader of the mosque said he wasn't surprised by the gesture. "I never doubted the support that we were going to get" after the fire, Dr. Shahid Hashmi, a surgeon and president of Victoria Islamic Center, told CNN. "We've always had a good relationship with the community here." Hashmi said Dr. Gary Branfman - a member of Temple B'nai Israel in Victoria, as well as a fellow surgeon and friend - just came by his house and gave him the keys. And that wasn't the only offer of a temporary worship space that was extended. Hashmi said three local churches said his congregation could use their buildings. Also offered up was an empty office building, which the congregation used for three days before moving into a mobile home on the mosque property. Though Hashmi always knew his own east Texas community would support the mosque, he was stunned by the outpouring of support from people outside Victoria. So far, a GoFundMe page set up to help raise money for the mosque's reconstruction has taken in more than $1 million. Thanks to all of the financial contributions, he expects they'll be able to rebuild it in less than a year.
Activists who say too many poor people are unfairly languishing in U.S. jails because they can’t afford to post cash bail are increasingly deploying a new tactic: Bailing out strangers. Community groups are collecting donations from individuals, churches, cities and other organizations in more than a dozen cities, including New York, Chicago, Seattle and Nashville, to bail out indigent prisoners. They’ve freed several thousand people in the last few years, and the number is growing. The overwhelming majority of defendants still show up for court. Once free, the defendants are better able to fight their case, often leading to charges being dropped or reduced. “Many, many people are having their lives ruined pre-trial because they can’t afford to get out of jail,” said Max Suchan, who co-founded the Chicago Community Bond Fund, which had bailed out 50 people as of December. The bail funds are a step toward a larger goal for some legal reform activists: abolishing the cash bail system. Advocates say it creates two unequal tiers of justice: one for people who can afford bail and one for people who can’t. In Chicago the anti-cash bail movement has a seemingly unlikely ally in Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. He argues the cash system should be abolished and replaced with more thorough background checks; if a person is considered dangerous, they stay in jail and if they’re not, they go free, with access to services such as drug-addiction counseling if needed.
The name Rumi is synonymous with love poetry. But [many readers] don’t know much about the life of the beloved 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic. The new biography Rumi’s Secret, by Brad Gooch ... provides important insights. The idea of Rumi’s secret came from a conversation Gooch had with a merchant named Sebastian, [who] compared Rumi to the American Walt Whitman – another poet revered for the universality of his writing – who “never tells his secret!” Gooch follows that fascinating statement with one of his own: “Rumi did have secrets – personal, poetic, and theological – that he was always both revealing and concealing.” The book’s first section ... opens with Rumi, at five years old, seeing angels. His father, an esteemed Muslim preacher and teacher, explained that the beings had come to bring him favor and invisible gifts. The Rumi we know today might never have emerged if not for three profound friendships. The first and most impactful was with Shams of Tabriz, a mystic. Shams urged Rumi ... to be honest and heartfelt, rather than refined, and to ... use music, sung poetry, and whirling to “literally spin loose of language and logic, while opening and warming his heart.” Rumi had two other cherished friends: a goldsmith named Salah, who had studied with Rumi’s tutor from childhood, and Hosam, one of Rumi’s loyal followers. Each man helped the poet learn about love (both human and divine), the process of giving up the self to make room for something purer and higher, and transcendence.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.