Inspirational Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles in Major Media
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Sunshine and seawater. That’s all a new, futuristic-looking greenhouse needs to produce 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes per year in the South Australian desert. It’s the first agricultural system of its kind in the world and uses no soil, pesticides, fossil fuels or groundwater. As the demand for fresh water and energy continues to rise, this might be the face of farming in the future. An international team of scientists have spent the last six years fine-tuning the design – first with a pilot greenhouse built in 2010; then with a commercial-scale facility that began construction in 2014 and was officially launched today. Seawater is piped ... to Sundrop Farm. A solar-powered desalination plant removes the salt, creating enough fresh water to irrigate 180,000 tomato plants inside the greenhouse. Scorching summer temperatures and dry conditions make the region unsuitable for conventional farming, but the greenhouse is lined with seawater-soaked cardboard to keep the plants cool enough to stay healthy. In winter, solar heating keeps the greenhouse warm. There is no need for pesticides as seawater cleans and sterilises the air, and plants grow in coconut husks instead of soil. The farm’s solar power is generated by 23,000 mirrors that reflect sunlight towards a 127-metre high receiver tower. On a sunny day, up to 39 megawatts of energy can be produced – enough to power the desalination plant and supply the greenhouse’s electricity needs. Tomatoes produced by the greenhouse have already started being sold in Australian supermarkets.
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Photographer Niki Boon and her husband, Rob, decided to home-school their four children when they moved to a rural region of New Zealand. Instead of following a fixed and rigid curriculum, each child explores his or her curiosities on the family's 10-acre property in Blenheim, surrounded by waters and bushes and hills. Boon began studying photography so she could represent her children's lives better. Her photo series "Wild and Free" is a dreamy black-and-white glimpse into a childhood spent among nature and the environment. The ... decision to raise her children this way actually stems from a form of education named after Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher. Boon's eldest son, Kurt, is now 13 years old and spent a year at a Rudolf Steiner school. The school did not have computers and encouraged families not to have TVs, Boon says. "We embraced this completely and fully and we loved the idea so much," she said. "We got rid of our TV, and we haven't had one since." Kurt, Rebecca, Anton and Arwen not only don't watch TV, but they don't use any kind of modern electronic devices, either - no computers, no smartphones. Boon ... says her children haven't shown interest in using any kind of technologies yet - but if any of them were to start developing an interest, she and her husband would look into it at that stage. "They live in the minute," Boon said. "They don't want to know what happened yesterday or what happened even that morning. They just want to know what's happening now."
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As the Syrian peace accord has crumbled - even threatening to reignite the Cold War - and barrel bombs continue to fall on the rebel-held city of Aleppo, many are fleeing the death and destruction. But one group of residents has vowed to stay behind and help. They are the "White Helmets," a volunteer team of first responders who plunge head-first into crumbling buildings to save civilians trapped in the rubble of Syria's brutal civil war. Named after their iconic protective headgear, the group of about 3,000 rescue workers have reportedly saved more than 60,000 lives since the civil war began. In August, their courage garnered international attention when they rescued 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, the stunned little boy covered in dust and blood whose photo shocked the world. They have since been nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. The heroism of these ordinary citizens - former doctors, shopkeepers, and teachers - is profiled in a 40-minute Netflix documentary. "These are very normal, ordinary people who now do one of the most extraordinary jobs on this planet," said the film's director, Orlando von Einsiedel. "They represent the best of what humanity can be," he said. "It has given us faith in humanity and has made us want to be better people."
Note: When the media seems to want us to hate Muslims, it's so important to read about the beautiful examples of these heroes. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Thinking about aging conjures unpleasant imagery of becoming weak and frail, losing our autonomy, and being placed in a nursing home to live out the remainder of our days alone. Self-described “Nursing Home Abolitionist” Dr. Bill Thomas has been working on changing that, and his ideas and philosophy are reforming the traditional long-term care model. After graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1986, Dr. Thomas worked in emergency care. He went on to become the medical director of [a] nursing home in upstate New York. The institutionalized and depressing atmosphere of the facility prompted him to take action. Even though animals in nursing homes were illegal at the time, Dr. Thomas brought in two dogs, four cats, hens, rabbits, 100 parakeets, a multitude of plants, a flower garden, and vegetable patch. The Washington Post reported that the illegal act was a resounding success. There was a 50% drop in medical prescriptions along with a dramatic decrease in death rates – but most importantly, the residents were simply happier. It inspired Dr. Thomas to create The Green House Project, a national non-profit organization that creates alternative living environments to traditional nursing home care facilities. Traditional nursing homes are torn down and replaced with small, home-like environments where people can live a full and interactive life. In 2005, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded ... a five-year $10 million grant to help the organization create Green House projects in all fifty states.
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For the past 288 days, Spain has plodded along without an elected national government. For some Spaniards, this is a wonderful thing. “No government, no thieves,” said Félix Pastor, a language teacher who, like many voters, is fed up with the corruption and scandals that tarnished the two previous governing parties. Mr. Pastor, a wiry, animated 59-year-old, said Spain could last without a government “until hell freezes over” because politicians were in no position to do more harm. More than anything, the crisis seems to have offered a glimpse of life if politicians simply stepped out of the way. For many here, it has not been all that bad. “Spain would be just fine if we got rid of most of the politicians,” Rafael Navarro, 71, said inside his tiny storefront pharmacy in Madrid. Too little government is better than too much, he said. Budget money is still flowing. Government ministries are functioning. Social service recipients and civil servants are being paid. Even if no new government has been formed when the 2016 national budget expires this fall, the old budget will simply become the new budget for 2017. But ... nobody is proposing legislation, debating international affairs or even rotating Spain’s ambassadors. Growth is forecast to be 2.9 percent this year, almost twice the 1.6 percent eurozone average. Interest and energy rates are at historic lows. Spain, a tourism superpower, expects 74 million visitors this year. But after trudging to the polls twice already in the last year, weary voters are in no mood to vote again.
You are undoubtedly familiar with so-called “sharing economy” titans such as Uber and Airbnb. Both companies are wreaking havoc on existing business models. But there is a problem. These are not truly “sharing economy” companies. For the record, I’m with Harvard Business Review authors Giana M. Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi who made a strong case against using the term “sharing economy” when it comes to firms like Uber and Airbnb. The authors suggested these sorts of businesses - where products and services are traded on the basis of access rather than ownership, when trade is done temporarily and not permanently - ought to be referred to as the “access economy.” While there isn’t anything fundamentally wrong with companies like Uber or Airbnb ... they are not examples of organizations who are truly “sharing”. [Each company] extracts money from its “partners” and reinvests the profit in itself, not those who are its laborers. Which brings me to ... the business model of a “Platform Cooperative.” In its simplest form, a Platform Cooperative is defined as “worker–owned cooperatives designing their own apps-based platforms, fostering truly peer-to-peer ways of providing services and things”. Put differently, those doing the work are owners and are both compensated for such effort and regarded as members of the greater team. A Platform Cooperative is not in it to extract money from its labourers through the rental of talent, service or even capital. Its business model is not about renting access.
Note: Read a great article describing 11 "platform cooperatives" which create a real sharing economy.
Twenty-eight-year-old Robert Borba is one of the last of a kind; A real, honest-to-goodness, cow roping cowboy. Robert works at a ranch outside Eagle Point, Oregon. But he recently gained notoriety ... because of what he did among the cart corrals of a Walmart parking lot. This past June, Robert says he moseyed over to the Walmart for some dog food, and on the way out he heard a woman screaming. “’Stop him! Stop him! He stole my bike! He stole my bike!’ And I kind of look around and all of a sudden this guy goes whizzing by me on a bicycle,” Robert said. As security cameras show, there was no way to catch him on foot. So the cowboy did what cowboys do. He saddled up to save the day, armed with little more than a lasso. “A couple swings and then I threw it at him, just like I would a steer,” Robert said. Robert called 911 himself, describing to the incredulous operator how he was able to detain the suspect. “We got a guy who just stole a bike here at Walmart. I got him roped and tied to a tree,” he said on the call. “What!?” the operator said. “I got him roped from a horse and he’s tied to a tree.” The cavalry arrived moments later, led by Eagle Point police officer Chris Adams. “I looked up and from the horse there was a rope connected to the ankle of a gentleman on the ground holding onto a tree,” Adams said. John Wayne couldn’t have it done better. “I’d take him by my side any day,” Adams said. “I told the cop, I said, ‘Man, you guys ought to pick up a rope and throw that gun away’,” Robert said.
In the face of a changing climate and the challenges that come with it, companies the world over have been attempting to pull solutions out of thin air - literally. There are firms turning air into fuel and others transforming it into stone. Some are even extracting clean drinking water from it. Israel’s Water-Gen has built devices that create and store drinking water by harvesting condensation from the air. It was among a group of Israeli firms that presented their technological innovations at the United Nations General Assembly last week. “Put simply, [our technology] leverages the same process as a dehumidifier, but instead captures and cleans the moisture,” said Arye Kohavi, Water-Gen’s CEO. “This ‘plug-and-drink’ technology is fully independent of existing water infrastructure. All we require is an electrical outlet and the humidity found in the air.” Water-Gen isn’t the only company to market such a technology, but it says its machines ... are far more energy-efficient than any other water production device. “Our technology takes one-fifth of the amount of energy used by other methods,” Kohavi said. Water-Gen estimates the water its machines generates would cost less than 10 cents per gallon. The smallest device can yield up to 5 gallons daily, while the largest can produce more than 800 gallons a day. “We think it’s possible to bring drinking water to all countries,” Maxim Pasik, Water-Gen’s chairman, [said] in an interview. “What’s important for us is to bring water to the people. This is a basic human right.”
Natalie Hampton doesn't just have memories of being bullied in middle school; she has actual scars. Now 16 and a high-school junior ... Natalie said, "Apart from the horrific attacks, the worst thing was being treated as an outcast and having to eat lunch alone every day. I believe that being isolated branded me as a target." After switching schools ... Natalie found a supportive new friend group, but she never forgot how it felt to be the outcast. "Whenever I saw someone eating alone, I would ask that person to join our table, because I knew exactly how they felt. I saw the look of relief wash over their faces," she said. Her experiences inspired Natalie to create a new app called Sit With Us. The app allows students to reach out to others and let them know they are welcome to join them at their tables in the school cafeteria. Kids can look at the list of "open lunches" in the app and know that they have an open invitation to join with no chance of rejection. "Sit With Us ambassadors take a pledge that they will welcome anyone who joins and include them in the conversation. To me, that is far better than sitting alone," said Natalie. "Even though just about every school has bullies, I believe each school has a larger number of upstanders who want to make their schools more inclusive and kind," she said.
A man who was paralyzed from the neck down can now operate his wheelchair and hug his family. Kristopher Boesen, who became paralyzed after a car crash, has become the first person in California to receive an experimental treatment made from stem cells. It has allowed him to use his arms and hands once again. The treatment is an injection that consists of 10 million AST-OPC1 cells, which are derived from embryonic stem cells. AST-OPC1 helps support the healthy functioning of nerve cells. In early April, a team at Keck Medical Center injected the treatment into Boesen’s damaged cervical spine. Three months later, he was able to do tasks like write his name. “I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t feed myself. I couldn’t text or, pretty much, do anything. I was basically just existing ... I wasn’t really living my life” Boesen [said]. “And now, after the stem cell surgery, I’m able to live my life.” Boesen’s success stems from strength. Just before his twenty-first birthday, Boesen lost control of his car [and] hit a tree ... leaving him with severe injuries to his spine. His parents were told he’d be paralyzed from the neck down, but they were also told that he qualified for a clinical study that could help. To participate, Boesen had to give voice confirmation that he wanted to be part of the study. The problem was that at the time, Boesen was using a ventilator to breath, and was unable to speak. Through sheer desire ... Boesen weaned himself off the ventilator in five days - a process that usually takes patients three weeks to complete.
Not many 25-year-olds can claim to get up at 4am and work weekends to save the world from an impending Armageddon that could cost tens of millions of lives. But for the past three years, Shu Lam, a Malaysian PhD student at the University of Melbourne, has confined herself to a scientific laboratory to figure out how to kill superbugs that can no longer be treated with antibiotics. She believes that she has found the key to averting a health crisis so severe that last week the United Nations convened its first ever general assembly meeting on drug-resistant bacteria. The overuse and incorrect use of antibiotics has rendered some strains of bacteria untreatable, allowing so-called “superbugs” to mutate. Last Wednesday, the problem was described by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a “fundamental threat” to global health and safety. [Lam] believes her method of killing bacteria using tiny star-shaped molecules, built with chains of protein units called peptide polymers, is a ground-breaking alternative to failing antibiotics. Her research, published this month in the prestigious journal, Nature Microbiology, has already been hailed by scientists as a breakthrough that could change the face of modern medicine. Lam successfully tested the polymer treatment on six different superbugs in the laboratory, and against one strain of bacteria in mice. Even after multiple generations of mutations, the superbugs have proven incapable of fighting back.
Andrew Short lives with spastic cerebral palsy, which he contracted during birth. Cerebral palsy is a disorder that effects muscle tone, movement and motor skills, but despite impaired speech Andrew’s disability doesn’t impair his mind, and he learned to read early. “I speak three languages,” said Andy. “English, German, and spastic. Spastic is my mother tongue." Andrew is currently completing a Masters Degree in Disability Studies, but his most impressive achievement has been walking the Kokoda Trail, which he describes as “the toughest physical challenge of [his] life”. In Andy’s late twenties, his motor function appeared to begin deteriorating. “We were told to accept that that's what it would be,” said [Andrew's father] David. Instead, David and Andrew began researching the emerging field of neuroplasticity ... inspired by the seminal [book], “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science”. Andrew’s physical condition is due in part to his trainer, Lee Campbell, a former army trainer and Sydney Swans team member. The two have been training together for five and a half years, and in that time Lee estimates that his physical condition has risen from 2.5 to a 7 or 8. “You watch Andy pull a sled with 20 or 30 kilos of weights in it, he stands up, his posture is corrected,” said Lee. “His finer motor skills now are getting refined. He can hold things, he can cook, he can do his buttons up.” Right now, they’re training together for Andy’s next endeavour, walking the Great Wall of China.
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New research shows that human pollution of the atmosphere with acid is now almost back to the level that it was before the pollution started with industrialisation in the 1930s. The results come from studies of the Greenland ice sheet and are published in the scientific journal, Environmental Science and Technology. By drilling ice cores down through the kilometre-thick ice sheet, the researchers can analyse every single annual layer, which can tell us about ... pollutants in the atmosphere. Acid in the atmosphere can come from large volcanic eruptions and human-made emissions from industry. For many years, there has been a quest to solve the problem of measuring acidity in the porous annual layers of the ice and now scientists from the Niels Bohr Institute have succeeded [by employing] a Continuous Flow Analyses or CFA method. The CFA system can ... distinguish whether the emissions come from volcanic eruptions, large forest fires or industry. The researchers can therefore filter out both volcanic eruptions and forest fires in the assessment of industrial pollution and the new results are revolutionary. "We can see that the acid pollution in the atmosphere from industry has fallen dramatically since humanmade acid pollution took off in the 1930s and peaked in the 1960s and 70s. In the 1970s, both Europe and the United States adopted the 'The clean air act amendments', which required filters in factories, thus reducing acid emissions," explains [researcher] Helle Astrid Kjćr.
Students who are misbehaving are usually taken out of class and sent to the principal, who punishes the child by revoking privileges, calling home or sometimes suspending them. But students in some Baltimore schools are sent somewhere different when they are acting out: a designated meditation room where they can calm down and decompress. The Mindful Moment room is equipped with bean bags and dim lighting, and students go through calming exercises with trained staff. At Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, teachers and staff can refer students to the room for an emotional “reset” when they are worked up. The student is led through breathing exercises and is encouraged to discuss the emotions that led to an outburst. They work with the adult to come up with a plan to use mindfulness in a similar situation in the future, to prevent an outburst. After about 20 minutes in the room, they rejoin classmates. Students usually show “visible signs of relaxation and emotional de-escalation after guided practices” in the room. The program also includes a “Mindful Moment” twice a day, which leads students in breathing exercises for 15 minutes over the PA system. Students can also participate in yoga classes. It has drastically reduced suspensions, with zero reported in the 2013-14 school year. The program has also been implemented with older students, including those at Patterson High School, [which] has also seen a decrease in suspensions both in the hallways and in class.
In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. Four other states have passed similar laws and more than half have considered doing so this year - more than two decades after the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 directed states to make it easier for citizens to register to vote at offices that provide public assistance, including motor vehicle agencies. In Oregon, DMV customers ... who show up in the department’s computer system as eligible but unregistered, are added by default to voter rolls without party affiliation; they later select a political party or opt out using a form sent to them in the mail. That subtle difference - requiring people to take an extra step to opt out if they don’t want to be registered - is producing results. “So far, it’s working,” said Jonathan Brater, of the Brennan Center of Justice at the New York University School of Law, an advocate for the modernization of voter registration. Just two years ago, barely a handful of states were considering this form of voter registration. But technology has made it easier to seamlessly transfer data between agencies, and states increasingly are taking advantage of it. Legislatures in three other states have passed automatic voter registration laws: West Virginia, Vermont, and California.
For the second year in a row, Natural Resources Defense Council and several other organizations rated the 25 largest American fast-food and fast-casual restaurants on their policies toward antibiotics use. While the majority got failing grades in the “Chain Reaction” report, many chain restaurants have made progress, especially when sourcing antibiotic-free chicken - though Chipotle, Panera and now Subway also have strong policies on beef and pork. “We were really encouraged to see that twice as many restaurant chains had adopted new policies,” said Kari Hamerschlag ... one of the report’s authors. An estimated 70 percent of medically important antibiotics are used in livestock production, often given routinely to healthy animals to prevent illness or stimulate growth rather than to cure disease. Between 2009 and 2014, livestock and poultry farms increased their use of these antimicrobial drugs by 23 percent, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA discourages producers from using antibiotics routinely in feed to promote growth, but does not prohibit the practice. McDonald’s grade improved from a C last year to a C-plus because it announced it had fully switched over to antibiotic-free chicken in its U.S. stores. Subway, based in Milford, Conn., which leapt from an "F" grade last year to a "B" grade this year, was listed as the only chain to adopt policies that apply to all types of meat sold. The report said now roughly 67 percent of its chicken is now raised without antibiotics, with turkey to follow.
Creating the Atlantic Ocean's first marine national monument is a needed response to dangerous climate change, oceanic dead zones and unsustainable fishing practices, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument consists of nearly 5,000 square miles of underwater canyons and mountains off the New England coast. "If we're going to leave our children with oceans like the ones that were left to us, then we're going to have to act and we're going to have to act boldly," Obama said at a ... conference. More than 20 countries represented at the meeting were also announcing the creation of their own marine protected areas. Monument designations come with restrictions on certain activities. The designation will lead to a ban on commercial fishing, mining and drilling, though a seven-year exception will occur for the lobster and red crab industries. Others, such as whiting and squid harvesters, have 60 days to transition out. Recreational fishing will be allowed. The ... monument will include three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon and four underwater mountains. It is home to such protected species as the sperm, fin and sei whales, and Kemp's ridley turtles. Expeditions also have found species of coral found nowhere else on earth. Supporters of the new monument say protecting large swaths of ocean from human stresses can sustain important species and reduce the toll of climate change.
A recent report by the communities and local government committee on homelessness pointed out that the “housing first” model “appears to have had a positive impact in Finland”. The ... model is quite simple: when people are homeless, you give them housing. The idea stems from the belief that people who are homeless need a home, and other issues that may cause them to be at risk of homelessness can be addressed once they are in stable housing. Homeless people aren’t told they must conquer their addictions or secure a job before being given a home: instead it is accepted that having a home can make solving health and social problems much easier. Finland is the only European country where homelessness has decreased in recent years. At the end of 2015 the number of single homeless people was for the first time under 7,000 and this number includes people living temporarily with friends and relatives, who constitute 80% of all homeless people. This development is mainly due to a national programme to reduce long-term homelessness. The main explanation for this success is quite simple: when the national programme started housing first was adopted as a mainstream national homelessness policy. This costs money, but there is ample evidence from many countries that shows it is always more cost-effective to aim to end homelessness instead of simply trying to manage it. Investment in ending homelessness always pays back, to say nothing of the human and ethical reasons.
Two dolphins have been recorded having a conversation for the first time after scientists developed an underwater microphone which could distinguish the animals' different "voices". Researchers have known for decades that the mammals had an advanced form of communication. But scientists have now shown that dolphins alter the volume and frequency of pulsed clicks to form individual "words" which they string together into sentences in much the same way that humans speak. Researchers at the Karadag Nature Reserve, in Feodosia, Ukraine, recorded two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, called Yasha and Yana, talking to each other in a pool. Each dolphin would listen to a sentence of pulses without interruption, before replying. Lead researcher Dr Vyacheslav Ryabov, said: “Essentially, this exchange resembles a conversation between two people. “Each pulse represents a phoneme or a word of the dolphin's spoken language. “The analysis of numerous pulses registered in our experiments showed that the dolphins took turns in producing [sentences] and did not interrupt each other, which gives reason to believe that each of the dolphins listened to the other's pulses before producing its own. “This language exhibits all the design features present in the human spoken language, this indicates a high level of intelligence and consciousness in dolphins, and their language can be ostensibly considered a highly developed spoken language, akin to the human language.”
Note: Learn more about the amazing world of marine mammals.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that US has an "obligation" to help Laos recover from a brutal secret bombing campaign that destroyed parts of the Southeast Asian nation. During an address to the Lao people in the country's capital, Obama pledged $90 million in a joint three-year project with the country's government to clear ... some 80 million unexploded cluster bombs dropped during a secret US bombing campaign as part of the Vietnam War 40 years ago. "The remnants of war continue to shatter lives here in Laos," Obama said. "That's why I've dramatically increased or funding to remove these unexploded bombs." The move was welcomed by Laos President Bounnhang Vorachit as a way of strengthening mutual trust after the devastating campaign, that still maims or kills 50 people who stumble upon unexploded mines each year. Efforts to find the bombs will be aided the Pentagon, who will supply records of where they were dropped. To this day, less than 1% of the bombs have been cleared, according to US-based non-government organization Legacies of War. US funding for clearance of unexploded ordnance and victims' assistance has steadily grown since 2010. This year, Congress allotted $19.5 million, but now, for the first time, an American president has publicly recognized that the US has a responsibility to do more. "That conflict was another reminder that whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts terrible toll, especially on innocent men, women and children," Obama said.
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.