Inspirational Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles in Major Media
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North Dakotans on Tuesday soundly rejected a law enacted last year that changed decades of family-farming rules in the state by allowing corporations to own and operate dairy and hog farms. Some 75 percent of North Dakotans who went to the ballot box voted to repeal Senate Bill 2351. The law ... exempted dairy and swine production from the state's Depression-era corporate farming prohibition. The North Dakota Farmers Union and other groups that collected signatures to put the referendum on the ballot said family farmers cannot compete with large agricultural firms with no ties to the communities where they operate. Corporate and foreign control of U.S. farmland has been a hot-button issue in several major agricultural states in recent years. State laws prohibiting corporations and foreign entities from owning U.S. farmland complicated a $4.7 billion acquisition in 2013 of U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods by China's Shuanghui International. The deal ultimately closed. This February, a U.S. district judge issued an injunction barring Nebraska officials from enforcing the state's ban on farmland ownership by corporations. North Dakota, with about 740,000 residents, has a heavily agricultural economy. It is one of nine states that have laws limiting corporate farming, according to the National Agricultural Law Center. The North Dakota law says farming or ranching companies must have no more than 15 shareholders or members who must belong to the same family, to a distance of first cousins.
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ZubaBox is a shipping container converted into a solar-powered internet café or classroom for people in need living in remote areas - including refugee camps. The interior of the box can accommodate up to 11 individuals at a time and gives people in traditionally marginalized communities a sense of inclusion while widening their opportunities. “The ZubaBox ... gives [people] a space that they deserve to improve their learning experience and achieve their goals,” Rajeh Shaikh, marketing and PC donations manager at Computer Aid International - the nonprofit organization that created and builds the boxes - told The Huffington Post. “We also enable educators to provide valuable 21st century digital skills.” The refurbished PCs located inside of a Zubabox are powered by solar panels located on the shipping container’s roof. Since 2010, 11 Zubaboxes have been placed in neighborhoods throughout Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe. On May 26, Computer Aid built its 12th Zubabox ... in Cazuca, a suburb of Bogota, Colombia, where many displaced people settle. Since the Lab arrived in the South American neighborhood, the little box has had a huge impact. “The younger generation has naturally been curious and excited. But the emotion that this [Lab] has stirred in the elders has been really moving,” [said] William Jimenez, a native to Cazucá and regional coordinator at Tiempo de Juego, a nonprofit that works to provide the youth of Colombia with more constructive uses for their free time.
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The “bunker” houses the Torolab project known as La Granja Transfronteriza, or La Granja (The Farm) for short – a place brimming with the arts and more that draws community members of all ages. As Tijuana garnered a reputation as one of the most violent places in the world, Camino Verde held the inglorious title of the most dangerous neighborhood in the city. But today, Camino Verde’s story is changing. And La Granja, founded in 2010, has been no small factor. On weekday afternoons, the bunker is bustling with young kids screeching out notes on their violins under the guidance of instructors. Families gather on the weekend to grow vegetables in the nascent community garden. There’s a computer lab upstairs, and parents can pursue their GED certificates. Most strikingly, however, violence in Camino Verde has plunged, falling by 85 percent since 2010. “This was one of the most violent places in the world, where you weren’t expected to make it out,” [Torolab founder Raúl] Cárdenas says. “Now it’s common to see governments and arts schools from around the globe coming to the neighborhood to learn.” When, in 2010, a group of local leaders came together to talk about what they could do to change Tijuana’s violent trajectory, Cárdenas took charge of pinpointing where they could make the biggest difference. “What people want and what people need is to have a livable space,” he says. Already, the project has received multiple prizes and global recognition.
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Some 9,000 people stuck with delinquent medical bills had their debts forgiven courtesy of HBO host John Oliver. Oliver, on his "Last Week Tonight" program Sunday, took the action to illustrate a story about the practices of companies that purchase the records of debtors and attempt to collect on them. The show set up its own company to acquire $15 million worth of debt owed to hospitals in Texas, paying $60,000. Oliver said it was "disturbingly easy" for his show to set up a company, which it called Central Asset Recovery Professionals, and incorporate it in Mississippi to make the purchase. Oliver's show engages in a form of investigative comedy, this week examining [how] institutions often sell their debt for pennies on the dollar to companies who then attempt to collect on the bills. These companies operate with little regulation, and sometimes employ shady and abusive collectors who try to intimidate people into paying, he said. RIPMedicaldebt.org, a nonprofit that raises money to buy debt and forgive the bills owed by people who can least afford to pay them, welcomed the attention. "It's absolutely fabulous," said Craig Antico, CEO of RIPMedicaldebt.org. "It puts a light on a problem that few people know exists. If people paid attention to (Oliver's show) and it got them upset, they should realize that we can eradicate much of this debt if we all banded together to help each other," Antico said. "People can make a donation of $50 and wipe out a $10,000 debt."
Teen pregnancies fell again last year, to another historic low, a government report shows. “The continued decline is really quite amazing,” said Brady Hamilton, the lead author of the new report released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, the birth rate for U.S. teens dropped 8 percent. Rates have been falling since 1991, and this marks yet another new low. Experts cite a range of factors, including less sex, positive peer influence, and more consistent use of birth control. “The credit here goes to the teens themselves,” said Bill Albert, spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. The new report is based on a review of most of the birth certificates filed last year. There were nearly 4 million births. That’s down slightly from the 2014 total, by about 4,300. Other key figures from the CDC report [include that] the birth rate was 22 live births per 1,000 females ages 15 through 19, [whereas] the rate was 24 per 1,000 the year before. Unmarried moms accounted for about 40 percent of births.
Costco and organics seem increasingly intertwined these days. The Issaquah-based warehouse giant in recent years has become a dominant seller of organic produce. And now Costco’s co-founder and a top executive are investing in a planned restaurant chain ... that bills itself as the first fast-food restaurant to qualify as Certified Organic under U.S. Department of Agriculture rules. Costco co-founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal, along with Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti, are among the investors in The Organic Coup, which opened its first restaurant in November and has two locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Organic Coup ... was founded by former Costco execs Erica Welton and Dennis Hoover. The investment, as noted by Business Insider, will allow the chain to expand. Hoover said the plan is to open up to 10 locations this year, then decide how many to open next year. A location in the Seattle area is “on our target,” he said. The USDA itself does not certify restaurants as organic. But restaurants may apply to private or public certification agents to become USDA Organic-certified “handlers,” as Organic Coup is. Such handler certification means products sold as organic must have at least 95 percent certified organic content, and that the restaurant must prevent the mingling of organic with nonorganic products, and protect organic products from contact with prohibited substances.
As more states legalize the use of marijuana, the number of teens with cannabis-related problems is declining, new research suggests. Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the study revealed a 24% decline in marijuana-related problems—such as becoming dependent on the drug or having trouble in school and in relationships—among teenagers. The researchers additionally found an association between drops in problems related to cannabis and reductions in behavioral issues, such as fighting, property crimes and selling drugs. The report also showed that marijuana use rates in young people have been dropping over the years. When asked whether they had used marijuana in the previous 12 months, study participants reported fewer instances of pot use in 2013 than their peers had reported in 2002, a 10% decline overall. Additional research on how the decrease in rates of conduct problems relates to other behaviors is needed. “For example, adolescent crime rates have been declining for about 20 years. Teenage pregnancy rates are at an all time low. Binge drinking among high school students is dropping. (Though you wouldn’t know any of this from news coverage),” [study author Richard A. Grucza] said. “I think it is likely that all of these changes are connected to each other, and to the drop in marijuana use disorder. It’s really important to figure out why this is happening so that we can extend these trends into the future.”
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Plastic six-pack rings are the bane of conservationists - images of sea birds and turtles entangled in them serve as constant reminders that consumer culture and the environment don’t get along. But thanks to an innovation from a Florida-based brewery, we can feel a little better about enjoying a six-pack. Saltwater Brewery has partnered with the ad agency We Believers to create what they say is the first fully edible beer can packaging. Made from byproducts of the brewing process such as wheat and barley, their six-pack holders are fully biodegradable and completely digestible. Rather than ensnaring curious animals in a corset of litter, the company’s six-pack rings could serve as a satisfying snack. And if nothing is biting, the rings quickly decompose. Plus, the drink holders are just as strong as the plastic variety, which should keep those Screamin’ Reels safe, as well. The company 3-D printed a test batch of 500 holders in April, according to AdvertisingAge, and it plans to scale up production to meet its current output of 400,000 cans of beer a month. While the edible holders are more expensive to make, Saltwater Brewery wants set an example for other beer producers and encourage them to adopt the idea. They say if their edible holders become commonplace, they could potentially be as cheap as the regular plastic rings.
A solar project funded and operated by both Jews and Muslims is shining some light on Auja, a small Palestinian town located in one of the most controversial territories on Earth. The $100,000 project is harnessing solar energy to power the drawing of water from deep underground to irrigate a grove of palms growing the prized Medjool dates. It is the first large project to be funded by both Jews and Muslims in the United States – including former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg – and to be operated by Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims on the ground. The solar array is providing an economic boost to 45 farming families in this town of 5,000 Palestinians on the eastern flank of the West Bank who struggle with scarce water and unreliable and expensive electricity. Ben Jablonski ... is leading the project through a nonprofit he founded called Build Israel Palestine. Mr. Jablonski, who is Jewish, started the organization in 2014 with Tarek Elgawhary, an Egyptian Muslim religious scholar in Washington, D.C. who also runs Coexist, an educational nonprofit. Jablonski gave up his board seat with the Jewish National Fund, a nonprofit infrastructure developer that has limited but controversial involvement in West Bank settlements, in order to meet the demands from the Auja community, which insisted that donors and engineers involved in the project have no connections to Israeli settlements. Build Israel Palestine’s work focuses on providing Palestinians access to water, and doing so by bringing Muslims and Jews together.
Chris Castro has an obsession - turning the perfectly manicured lawns in his Orlando neighborhood into mini-farms. "The amount of interest in Orlando is incredibly surprising," Castro says. Surprising because he's asking Floridians to hand over a good chunk of their precious yards to volunteers who plant gardens full of produce. His program is called Fleet Farming, and it's starting off small, with 10 of these yard farms. Most of them sit smack in the middle of the front yard. Lawns are a thing here. Urban farms? Not so much. But so far, no neighbors have complained. Castro makes sure every garden is meticulously maintained - including homeowner Gary Henderson's. "I just think that the whole idea of lawns, especially in a place like Florida, is absurd," says Henderson, standing amid rows of tomatoes, sweet lettuce, carrots and arugula growing smack in the middle of his front yard. All of Fleet Farming's volunteers only ride bikes, going from garden to garden to harvest the produce. Because the program is bike-powered, Castro keeps the yard gardens within a mile of the local farmers market, where Fleet Farming sells most of the produce. Henderson offers this advice to anyone thinking about replacing their lawn with a garden: "Give it a try ... and once you get to the point where you realize that you can eat your lawn, I think it makes a whole lot of sense." And so do 300 other residents of central Florida. That's how many people are on Fleet Farming's waiting list, ready to eat their lawns instead of having to mow them.
A shorter work day increases productivity and makes people happier. The Svartedalens retirement home in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, conducted an experiment to determine whether cutting hours improved patient care and boosted employees' morale. Nurses who worked six-hour days for the past year were found to be 20 per cent happier and had more energy at work and in their spare time. The 68 nurses also took half as much sick time as those in the control group and were able to do 64 per cent more activities with elderly residents. They were also 2.8 times less likely to take any time off work in a two-week period, Bengt Lorentzon, a researcher on the project, told Bloomberg. "If the nurses are at work more time and are more healthy, this means that the continuity at the residence has increased," Mr Lorentzon said. "That means higher quality [care]." Sweden made headlines in 2015 when it was reported the country was moving towards a six-hour work day. A Toyota centre in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, implemented shorter working hours over a decade ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate and an increase in profits. Their results prompted a number of other Swedish companies to trial shorter hours. Longer working hours have been linked with heart disease and stroke, according to a medical study published in The Lancet.
We live in a time when people are less optimistic, more cynical and have lower expectations, in part because they see government and other institutions as ineffective and unresponsive. Of course the challenges we face today are as solvable as any problems we have confronted in the past. We as individuals still can make a difference. How? Well, one way is through our investments. We don’t have to wait for governments to take action. We can actually increase our influence over world events, and potentially have a greater impact (and feel a little less powerless) not just through civic participation, or voting, or supporting non-profits - all of which remain vitally important - but through our role as investors. Rather than investing in fossil fuel companies, you can invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy; clean water and pollution control; sustainable food and agriculture. The bottom line: As investors, we have more power than we realize. We can prod and pressure and cajole companies into doing the right thing. Unfortunately, too many of us fail to leverage this power. Investors are not powerless. We can move the needle. And ... it is both a moral imperative and an economic imperative that the needle be moved.
A woman who stood up to 300 neo-Nazis in Sweden hopes her gesture will draw attention to the fight against racism in the Scandinavian country. Tess Asplund tried to block the path of the Nordic Resistance Movement as the right-wing extremist group marched in the town of Borlange on May 1. An image of Ms Asplund facing the neo-Nazis up close with a clenched fist has been shared thousands of times on social media in Sweden and internationally. The 42-year-old anti-racism activist told Swedish Radio her defiant gesture was inspired by the late Nelson Mandela, who fought against apartheid in South Africa. "I felt when they arrived that they shouldn't be here and spread their hate," Ms Asplund said. "I don't think I was even thinking. I just jumped out. Things happened quite quickly. Then a police officer pulled me away." A video of the incident from the Dala-Demokraten newspaper shows Ms Asplund walking backward as she faces men with shaved heads at the front of the procession. One of them tries to shove her aside while another counter-demonstrator is forcefully pushed out of the path of the parade.
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Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy's highest court of appeal has ruled. Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 (Ł3; $4.50) from a supermarket. Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment", the court of cassation decided. Therefore it was not a crime, it said. A fellow customer informed the store's security in 2011, when Mr Ostriakov attempted to leave a Genoa supermarket with two pieces of cheese and a packet of sausages in his pocket but paid only for breadsticks. In 2015, Mr Ostriakov was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in jail and a €100 fine. The "historic" ruling is "right and pertinent", said Italiaglobale.it - and derives from a concept that "informed the Western world for centuries - it is called humanity". Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, which reviews only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, on Monday made a final and definitive ruling overturning the conviction entirely. Stealing small quantities of food to satisfy a vital need for food did not constitute a crime, the court wrote. "The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the seizure of merchandise took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity," wrote the court.
48.1 million Americans have insecure access to food, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. Several restaurants ... are trying to win the war against hunger. For example, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, has a “pay-it-forward” concept allowing customers to feed local homeless people a slice of pizza for one dollar. Even Stevens, a new restaurant based in Salt Lake City, gives a sandwich to a local hungry person with every sandwich sold. According to their website, Even Stevens has donated 444,022 sandwiches so far. The founder of Even Stevens, Steve Down, is a serial entrepreneur. As the father of millennials who care deeply about social consciousness and giving, Down saw the opportunity to use his skills ... to turn the food service industry into a force for social good. The result is “a sandwich shop with a cause.” Even Stevens is growing rapidly, with ... seven current locations since the first opened in Salt Lake City in June, 2014. Down plans to have 20+ locations open by the end of 2016. The 10 year plan is to have 4,000 locations feeding over 1,000,000 people per day. To put these numbers in perspective, Subway has approximately 34,000 locations and Chipotle has approximately 2,000. Anyone inside the restaurant industry would consider the objectives of Even Stevens to be ludicrous. Yet, Down ... believes the results of Even Stevens speak for themselves, with each location currently opened achieving profitability within the first 30-60 days.
For many of us, the most pressing question about exercise is: How little can I get away with? The answer, according to a sophisticated new study of interval training, may be very, very little. In this new experiment, in fact, 60 seconds of strenuous exertion proved to be as successful at improving health and fitness as three-quarters of an hour of moderate exercise. Scientists at McMaster University ... began by recruiting 25 out-of-shape young men and measuring their current aerobic fitness. Then the researchers randomly divided the men into three groups. One group was asked to change nothing; they would be the controls. A second group began a typical endurance-workout routine. The final group was assigned to interval training, using [a] workout [that] lasted 10 minutes, with only one minute of that time being strenuous. Both groups of exercising volunteers completed three sessions each week for 12 weeks. By the end of the study ... the endurance group had [exercised] for 27 hours, while the interval group had [exercised] for six hours, with only 36 minutes of that time being strenuous. The scientists ... found that the exercisers showed virtually identical gains. In both groups, endurance had increased by nearly 20 percent, insulin resistance likewise had improved significantly, and there were significant [improvements in] certain microscopic structures in the men’s muscles. Neither approach to exercise was, however, superior to the other, except that one was shorter - much, much shorter.
A man in Whittier has gone the distance for a tiny hummingbird his once-feral dog helped rescue. As Ed Gernon explains, last year he adopted a German shepherd mix named Rex, that at the time “fought other dogs and killed cats.” “He was dangerous,” said Gernon of Rex. “He was an animal that had learned to live on the streets and to survive on his own.” One afternoon just a month after Rex’s adoption, the dog became the rescuer, saving a very tiny and sick hummingbird. “And he suddenly stopped and he would not move,” he recalls. “I mean it’s tiny and it’s dead as far as I’m concerned. It’s covered in ants. It’s got no feathers.” But that’s not where the story ends. Hummer as she is called is now living in Gernon’s home a year later. But it’s been a long road. In fact, Gernon had to nurse Hummer back to health (quite literally). He feeds her a special formula every 15 minutes from sun up to sun down and even taught her how to fly using a hair dryer. “You find yourself doing stuff you never thought in a million years you would do,” he said. And even Rex is willing to share his water bowl with Hummer. “It was this little creature. This fragile creature that the whole world wanted to kill and he was trying to protect her so I thought I’d go the distance,” said Gernon. It’s been more than a year since Hummer arrived and Gernon knows eventually she will spread her wings. “It’s time for her to start mating and I keep leaving the doors and windows open thinking she’ll leave,” he said. But while she’s here, he says her little wings have made a big impact.
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Brooklyn Andracke is a big fan of her garbage man, who always honks the truck’s horn and waves. Delvar Dopson is essentially her hero. “He is our favorite awesome smiley garbage man,” her mother, Traci Andracke, [said]. Brooklyn’s fascination with Dopson started because his truck would drive by their house, [and she] noticed Dopson driving the massive vehicle. “It became all about him after that,” Andracke said. “It wasn’t the ‘garbage truck’ anymore, but it was the ‘garbage man’ that she wanted to see.” When Brooklyn turned 3, the tot decided she wanted to share part of her big day with him. She patiently waited outside her home until Dopson pulled onto their street. When Andracke motioned for Dopson to stop the garbage truck, Brooklyn presented him with one of her birthday cupcakes. Dopson was “instantly speechless,” Andracke said. “I explained to him that he makes our day every Thursday,” she added. “After he left ... Brooklyn was unusually quiet. I asked her if she was okay, and she said, ‘Mommy, I’m so happy.’” The following week, Dopson returned for his refuse-collecting round and gave Brooklyn a belated birthday present: toys from her favorite movie, “Frozen.” In return, Brooklyn made him a thank you note, which he’s since displayed with pride in his truck. “I’d love for people to remember that a small gesture - a honk, wave, smile - doesn’t take much effort. Just do it,” the mom told HuffPost. “You never know who is on the receiving end of that smile and how it can really brighten their day.”
A pair of middle school classmates who met decades later on opposite sides of a courtroom reunited once again under happier circumstances. Miami-Dade Judge Mindy Glazer recognized Arthur Booth after he was arrested for burglary charges and appeared before her in bond court last summer. “Did you go to Nautilus for middle school?” the judge asks, leading her former schoolmate, now 49, to burst into tears. “This was the nicest kid in middle school, he was the best kid in middle school. I used to play football with him, all the kids, and look what has happened,” she said, according to NBC Miami. Video of the encounter went viral, and Booth spent 10 months in jail before a guilty plea for burglary and grand theft led to his release into a drug treatment program on Tuesday. He hugged his family after coming out of court before embracing Glazer, who was waiting for him and encouraged him to stay on the right side of the law. “She’s an inspiration and a motivation to me right now. Mindy is incredible,” Booth told CBS Miami. “Cause I know where I could’ve been, but I’m not giving up on life.”
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San Francisco passed legislation this week that will require all new buildings under 10 stories tall to be outfitted with solar panels. The California city will become the largest municipality in the U.S. with such a mandate. “By increasing our use of solar power, San Francisco is once again leading the nation in the fight against climate change and the reduction of our reliance on fossil fuels,” Scott Wiener, the city supervisor who introduced the legislation, said. The legislation makes explicit references to combating climate change and expresses concern about the city’s future. Smaller California cities already have similar laws in place. Beginning in 2017, all new San Francisco buildings with 10 or fewer floors must have either solar photovoltaic or solar water panels. The measure builds on a California law that mandates new buildings have at least 15 percent of their roof space exposed to sunshine for solar panel use in the future.
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.