Inspirational Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles in Major Media
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.
The Southern California desert is now home to the world's largest solar power plant. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined state officials on Monday to open the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar project in the town of Desert Center, Calif., near Joshua Tree National Park. Built by First Solar, the project generates enough electricity to power 160,000 average California homes. Desert Sunlight received a federal loan of nearly $1.5 billion. Money provided by the project's owners ... is also being used to fund $400,000 in improvements to the community center in nearby Desert Center. Desert Sunlight is the world's largest solar power plant, although only by a hair. The Topaz solar project in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. — which, like Desert Sunlight, was built by Arizona-based First Solar — also has a capacity of 550 megawatts. But the desert has more abundant sunlight than San Luis Obispo County, so Desert Sunlight will actually generate more electricity than Topaz, said Georges Antoun, First Solar's chief operating officer. California as a whole has installed more renewable energy than any other state, noted David Hochschild, a member of the California Energy Commission. "There were a lot of skeptics who actually didn't believe that renewables could scale, that this cost reduction could happen, that we could introduce it to the grid," Hochschild said. "They've been proven wrong."
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All parents want their kids to have the skills they need to thrive in the world. But, while most parents feel comfortable talking about the importance of safety, health, schoolwork, and relationships, when it comes to the importance of money, many fall silent. Perhaps that’s because money can bring up extremely strong emotions. How much we have or don’t have, and how our income compares to that of others, can be a source of shame—whether we perceive ourselves as having too much or too little. Parents often find themselves fighting over finances, leaving the impression on kids that money causes conflict. In my role as the personal finance columnist for The New York Times, parents often ask me for advice. Here are some tips: 1. Talk about money and your values around money. 2. Give children money to manage on their own. 3. Teach kids to spend wisely. 4. Put kids to work. 5. Teach kids the importance of giving. 6. Practice gratitude. While these tips aren’t foolproof, parents who follow them have a better chance of raising children with a wise relationship to money. It’s up to all of us to make sure our children understand our values and know how to save, spend, or give away money in a way that is consistent with those values. If we all approached the topic with more honesty and openness, we might avoid a future where children end up either crippled by debt or thinking that everything should come to them on a silver platter.
Note: The above was written by Ron Lieber, whose new book, The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money, is about how parents can do a better job of teaching their kids about money. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Sometimes people laugh when Zac Bookman tells them what his company, OpenGov does. Not out of mockery. Out of disbelief that a website — or, really, anything — can make it easier to track how the government spends trillions of dollars of their tax money. Users [of OpenGov] can easily share what they find with friends — or push back on government officials to question their spending. Still, Bookman hears doubters. Cynicism runs deep, especially when it involves government becoming more transparent. Bookman ... understands their skepticism. People have lost faith in government officials to improve their lives. “People don’t think of (government) as an industry, but it is,” said Bookman, whom Ronnie Lott nominated for the first Chronicle and St. Mary’s College Visionary of the Year award. “Our software allows you to see where the money goes.” $7 trillion in public dollars ... flows through federal, state and local government entities, from big cities to mosquito abatement districts. Much of it is hidden in plain sight, virtually inaccessible to the public because of user-unfriendly tech interfaces. But now more than 250 government organizations are using [OpenGov], including the city of Los Angeles. There is a bipartisan appeal to this sort of transparency. Conservatives like it because it helps to highlight where to cut government fat, while liberals buy into it because this sort of tool can quantify the value of government services. OpenGov is attempting to ... make this very complex data usable by people who are not financial experts.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In two separate research findings, scientists have used bacteria in processes that can deliver substantial power when scaled up in the future. While a Sintef team in Norway has a method to deliver purified water, a Missouri researcher has discovered a bacterium that produces hydrogen, the fuel of the future. The Sintef researchers converted waste water into power using bacteria in an entirely natural process that delivers purified water. As the bacteria feed on waste water, they produce electrons and protons and the resulting voltage generates electricity. While the electricity generated is small, it ... is an environmentally friendly process where the end product is purified water. The team plans to scale up the process to generate the power needed for the water purification. "In simple terms, this type of fuel cell works because the bacteria consume the waste materials found in the water," explains Sintef researcher Luis Cesar Colmenares. The challenge was in finding the bacteria most suited for the job and the right mechanism. The researcher at Missouri University of Science and Technology has stumbled upon a bacterium that could help mass-produce hydrogen for fuel cells in the future. The "Halanaerobium hydrogeninformans" bacterium can produce hydrogen under saline and alkaline conditions, better than modified organisms and could be valuable industrially when the process is scaled up. Another end product of the hydrogen process ... finds application in products including composites, adhesives, laminates and coatings.
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Thousands of Croats will see their debts written-off on Monday as part of an attempt to boost the economy by helping households to regain access to basic facilities including bank accounts. The scheme, which has been dubbed "fresh start", will see the debts of around 60,000 citizens erased by banks, telecoms and utilities operators as part of a deal with the government. Around 2.1bn kuna (Ł20m) worth of bad debts are expected to be written off by creditors who have signed up to the scheme. None will be refunded for their losses. Qualifying households must have debts lower than 35,000 kuna (Ł3,500), and their monthly income should not be higher than 1,250 kuna. Croats who own property or have any savings will not benefit from the deal. "Some 60,000 citizens ... will be given a chance for a new start without a burden of debt," said Milanka Opacic, Croatia's deputy prime minister. The program will give 20pc of the 317,000 Croatians whose accounts were frozen in July last year due to bad debts access to their accounts again. "This is the first time that any (Croatian) government tries to solve this difficult problem and we are proud of it," Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told a cabinet session. The deal will be noted in Greece, where the new Syriza government is trying to renegotiate the terms of its multi billion euro bail-out.
In the United States, there is one state, and only one state, where every single resident and business receives electricity from a community-owned institution rather than a for-profit corporation. Nebraska ... has embraced the complete socialization of energy distribution. The Nebraska Power Association proudly proclaims, “Our electric prices do not include a profit. That means Nebraska’s utilities can focus exclusively on keeping electric rates low and customer service high. Our customers, not big investors in New York and Chicago, own Nebraska’s utilities.” Nebraska has a long history of publicly owned power systems. However, in the post-World War I era, large corporate electric holding companies backed by Wall Street banks entered the market and began taking over. Tired of abusive corporate practices, in 1930 residents and advocates of publicly owned utilities took a revenue bond financing proposal straight to the voters, bypassing the corporate-influenced legislature which had previously failed to pass similar legislation. It was approved overwhelmingly. By 1949, Nebraska had solidified its status as the first and only all-public power state. Nebraska’s nearly 100-year-old experience with a completely public and community-owned electricity system demonstrates that ... the principles of subsidiarity and local control can, in fact, be preserved through a networked mix of publicly owned institutions at various scales without sacrificing efficiency or service quality.
The Vatican will offer homeless people in Rome not only showers but also haircuts and shaves when new facilities open next month, the head of Pope Francis' charity office said. The Vatican announced last year that it would provide shower facilities in St Peter's Square for homeless people. Bishop Konrad Krajewski told the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire on Thursday that it would also offer haircuts and shaves when the services start on Feb. 16 in an area under the colonnade of the square. Krajewski, whose official title is the pope's almoner, said barbers and hairdressers would volunteer their services on Mondays, the day their shops are traditionally closed in Italy. They had already donated chairs, hair-cutting instruments, and mirrors, the newspaper's website said. Krajewski came up with the idea of building showers in St. Peter's Square last year after a homeless person told him that while it was relatively easy to find places to eat at Rome charities, it was difficult to find places to wash. He immediately received the pope's backing for the shower project and then expanded it to include haircuts and shaves.
Parkinson’s [is] a movement disorder that causes tremors, stiffness and balance problems. A 2008 meta-analysis found that placebos used in clinical trials of Parkinson’s treatments improved symptoms by an average of 16%. [A] team from the University of Cincinnati ... had a hunch that patients would be more responsive to a fake drug they thought was real if it came with a heftier price tag. So they recruited 12 patients with “moderately advanced” Parkinson’s and asked them to participate in a clinical trial. The study volunteers were told that there were two versions of the experimental drug and that both were believed to work equally well, [but] one version cost 15 times more than the other. In reality, both placebos were composed of the exact same saline solution. And yet, the patients perceived the expensive version to be more effective than the cheaper one, according to results published Wednesday in the journal Neurology. Both of the placebos improved motor function compared with a base line test. But when patients got the $1,500-per-dose placebo, their improvement was 9% greater than when they got the $100-per-dose placebo, the researchers reported. In another test, 67% of the patients were judged “very good” or having “marked improvement” after they took the expensive placebo, compared with 58% of patients after they took the purportedly cheap placebo.
Note: Even 58% experiencing "marked improvement" on the cheaper placebo is quite impressive! Why aren't more studies being done on the amazing and powerful affects of the placebo? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
America is a nation of pavement. According to research conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, most cities’ surfaces are 35 to 50 percent composed of the stuff. And 40 percent of that pavement is parking lots. That has a large effect: Asphalt and concrete absorb the sun’s energy, retaining heat — and contributing to the “urban heat island effect,” in which cities are hotter than the surrounding areas. So what if there were a way to cut down on that heat, cool down the cars that park in these lots, power up those parked cars that are electric vehicles, and generate a lot of energy to boot? There is actually a technology that does all of this — solar carports. It’s just what it sounds like — covering up a parking lot with solar panels, which are elevated above the ground so that cars park in the shade beneath a canopy of photovoltaics. Depending of course on the size of the array, you can generate a lot of power. For instance, one vast solar carport installation at Rutgers University is 28 acres in size and produces 8 megawatts of power, or about enough energy to power 1,000 homes. So what’s the downside here? And why aren’t solar parking lots to be found pretty much everywhere you turn? In a word, the problem is cost. They are mainly springing up in Arizona, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York and most of all California. That’s because these states offer an array of state financial incentives to support their development.
By Tanzanian standards, Nosim Noah is not poor. A tall, handsome woman with the angular features of her fellow Masai tribe members, Ms. Noah makes a good living selling women’s and children’s clothes. But despite their relative prosperity, up until late 2013, the family had no electricity. Now, however, [they have power because] a new solar energy movement is bringing kilowatts to previously unlit areas of Africa – and changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The idea behind the latest effort isn’t to tap the power of the sun to electrify every appliance in a household. Instead, it is to install a small solar panel not much bigger than an iPad to power a few lights, a cellphone charger, and other basic necessities that can still significantly alter people’s lives. People use the money they normally would spend on kerosene to finance their solar systems, allowing them to pay in small, affordable installments and not rely on government help. The concept is called pay-as-you-go solar. When [Noah] and her late husband moved into their house in 2004, they paid about a $200 connection fee to TANESCO, the Tanzanian national utility, to extend a power line to their home. After a six-month wait, workers finally erected a utility pole outside their home. But the power never came. “I have no idea why it didn’t work,” Noah says. “All I know is that the lights never came on.” They have power now, though, with the help of the sun.
Good Samaritans are working to make sure that the homeless and others in need are prepared for the winter weather. Hats and scarves have been spotted around several areas that are experiencing frigid temperatures this winter. The apparel -- which has shown up in cities including Edmonton and Winnipeg in Canada, and Wilmington, North Carolina -- comes with messages urging those in need to take the winter wear. "I am not lost!" a message attached to a scarf in Wilmington reads. "If you are stuck out in the cold, please take this to keep warm!" The group responsible for that particular item, Scarves in the Port City, says that their aim is to account for those who need a helping hand during the winter months in a simple and effective way. "We collect and distribute scarves for the homeless during inclement weather," the group ... wrote on their Facebook page. "We hope to help create awareness of the difference kindness can make to people's attitudes, feelings and actions towards themselves and others when it's embraced as a way of life." The do-gooders, who often place the clothing in locations that are easily accessible for people in need, like libraries where people may seek refuge from the chill or homeless shelters, say they hope their efforts can provide some much-needed comfort to those who need it most over the winter months.
Note: See the complete article for pictures of this generous practice showing up in the U.S. and Canada. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using [a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing] to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges. The program has enabled local and state police to make seizures and then have them â€śadoptedâ€ť by federal agencies, which share in the proceeds. It allowed police ... to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of adopted seizures. Since 2001, about 7,600 of the nationâ€™s 18,000 police departments and task forces have participated in Equitable Sharing. For hundreds of police departments and sheriffâ€™s offices, the seizure proceeds accounted for 20 percent or more of their annual budgets in recent years. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security paid private firms millions to train local and state officers in the techniques of an aggressive brand of policing [that] emphasized the importance of targeting cash. Most of the money and property taken under Equitable Sharing since 2008 â€” $3 billion out of $5.3 billion â€” was not seized in collaboration with federal authorities. The Treasury Department is also changing its asset forfeiture program to follow the same guideline included in Holderâ€™s order, the statement said.
Note: While civil asset forfeiture may remain common in some U.S. states, Holder's announcement means that police can no longer pad their departmental budgets with this federal program. A Washington Post investigation and an Institute for Justice Study were instrumental in exposing this program's corrupting influence.
At Rosa's Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, the shop is adorned with Post-it notes and letters. The messages are from customers who gave $1 so homeless members in the community could get a slice, which costs $1. The pay-it-forward pizza program started about a year ago, [owner Mason] Wartman says, when one paying customer asked if he could buy a slice for a homeless person. "I said, 'Sure.' I took his dollar and ran out and got some Post-it notes and put one up to signify that a slice was purchased," he recalls. Pay-it-forward pizza was born. Over the past nine months, Wartman says, clients have bought 8,400 slices of pizza for their homeless neighbors. He kept track of the prepaid slices with Post-it notes on the walls until he hit about 500 free slices. He now keeps track at the register. Wartman says the customer who started it all was inspired by a practice in Italy called "suspended coffee" where customers purchase an extra cup for someone who can't afford it. Pay-it-forward generosity isn't limited to Italian cafes or one Philly pizza shop. Even mega-chains, including the bakery and sandwich chain Panera, have gotten into the giving act. Other chains' pay-it-forward systems have grown organically. Starbucks Coffee Co. spokeswoman Sanja Gould says some people just offer to pay for the person behind them in line, while others "might load a certain dollar amount onto a Starbucks card and the store partners have it on hand and they keep adding to it as the line goes on." Wartman says ... people want to help but aren't sure what to do. "This is a super-easy way, a super-efficient way and a super-transparent way to help the homeless."
Note: Watch a great video on this inspiring pizza shop.
In Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” she refers to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one. The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” 1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? 2. Would you like to be famous? In what way? 3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? 10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? 14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it? 17. What is your most treasured memory? 18. What is your most terrible memory? 31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already. 32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about? 36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it.
Note: Read all the questions from this fun and revealing exercise at the link above. And you can find there a free app to download these great questions for your cell phone, too.
Material things are unlikely to boost our happiness in a sustained or meaningful way. In fact, research suggests that materialistic people are less happy than their peers. They experience fewer positive emotions, are less satisfied with life, and suffer higher levels of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. How can we avoid falling into the unhappiness trap of materialism? One answer has been emerging from social science: Cultivate a mindset of gratitude. In the early 1990s, researchers Marsha Richins and Scott Dawson developed the first scale to measure materialism rigorously. People who score high on Drs. Richins and Dawson’s scale score lower on just about every major scale that scientists use to measure happiness. Earlier this year, Jo-Ann Tsang of Baylor University and her colleagues surveyed 246 undergraduate students to measure their levels of materialism, life satisfaction and gratitude. Their results ... show that as materialism increased, feelings of gratitude and life satisfaction decreased. The relationship between materialism and gratitude can run in the opposite direction. A 2009 study led by Nathaniel Lambert, now of Brigham Young University, found that inducing gratitude in people caused a decrease in materialism. Dr. Lambert and his colleagues were able to increase gratitude in their participants by instructing them to focus on appreciating the good things they had been given in life, then write about what came to mind.
Note: The complete article presents several approaches to cultivating gratitude in everyday life. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The Doe Fund’s 400 fulltime employees (some 70% of them graduates of the program) operate four programs to help homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals achieve permanent self-sufficiency. Ready, Willing & Able does this through a 9-to-12-month transitional work program. The second program is an intensive non-residential work and education program for recent parolees, and the third a veterans program which offers homeless vets transitional work and housing, counseling and benefits advocacy, life skills, educational assistance, occupational training, job readiness, and graduate services. The fourth program is built around affordable housing for low-income individuals and families as well as supportive housing for individuals and families who face a variety of complex challenges. The Doe Fund has succeeded in offering less fortunate citizens of the world we all share a path to self-respect. Nazerine Griffin was an armed robber, stealing for his drug habit. He came to RWA from a homeless shelter. "We were a bunch of warehoused human beings with no way out," he says. He’s now the director of the Fund’s Harlem Center for Opportunity.
HipHopForChange aims to combat images of violence, sexism, materialism, drugs and homophobia by educating young people about the spiritual pillars that first inspired hip-hop as a vehicle for social change — peace, love, unity and the spirit of fun. [Founder Khafre] Jay has developed an interactive workshop that he and his staff have taken to [several] schools, as well as community organizations like Youth Spirit Artworks. Sessions not only detail the early rise of hip-hop, but also teach students ... how to MC, the techniques of writing rap, and the finer points of graffiti lettering. Jay wants students to be able to talk about their lives and experiences without the superficial attitudes of mainstream hip-hop. “[Our] rappers talk about their real lives, not some made up fictionalized, money, materialist, misogynist narrative that you’re used to,” Jay says. “They talk about putting food on their tables, their aspirations, their hopes and their problems with society. Their views are just not congruent with the industry [stereotypes]. HipHopForChange also spends several days a week canvassing throughout the Bay Area. That grassroots approach [is] how Serenity Krieger, a teacher at El Cerrito High School, came to hire HipHopForChange to teach four classes for her geography students last year. “She says, “I want them to know about not just the oppression, but ways they can constructively do something about it.”
Bullying is a serious problem. According to Family First Aid, nearly 30 percent of teens in the U.S. are estimated to be in school bullying, whether they're being bullied or doing the bullying. Josh Yandt, who lives in London, Ontario, was no exception. After being bullied for years, he decided to make one simple tweak when he transferred schools: He started opening doors for his classmates. "Not many people hold doors, right? But after that, people started to open up to me. Opening a door is more than a physical act, it’s about putting yourself out there, getting to know people, making them feel comfortable, making them feel welcome. Opening doors gives people hope that people care.” Holding the door for his classmates changed everything for Yandt, and now he has more friends than he can count. “People just love what I do. Every day people always say ‘thank you,’ people smile, and it’s really great,” he told Canada's CBC news as classmates clapped him on the back, said thanks, or gave a hello as they passed by in the hallway. The story doesn't end there. Yandt was crowned prom king, and he's taken on speaking engagements, sharing his story with younger students.
Note: Watch a video of Yandt's inspiring story, and see for yourself how a small change in his habits invited Yandt's peers to open up and treat him with kindness and respect.
Ethical consumers in the United States are increasingly concerned with the seeds used in the production of their food. However, this has been an issue in Europe for many years. In fact, there are several transnational seed-saver networks, like Arche Noah, whose members have become experts on heritage seeds. One of the most famous groups within Arche Noah’s 8,000-member network is the “live” seed bank Peliti, which has been raising awareness about endangered varieties of heritage seeds since 1995. Once tiny, now Peliti is an NGO that receives thousands of visitors for its annual seed swap where you can get a mind-boggling number of seed varieties for free. It’s the biggest event of its kind in the world. They call themselves a “live seed bank” because traditional seed banks store seeds under refrigeration, sometimes for up 15 years, which is “more like a seed museum than a seed bank,” according to volunteer Vasso Kanellopoulou. Peliti concentrates on keeping their seeds reproducing [to prevent] genetic erosion. It is [part of] the larger global seed-saver network. Their organization has given birth to many satellite communities that are linked with one another via a Google Group. Panagiotis Sainatoudis, Peliti’s founder, says that one of the organization’s basic principles is “to support man’s freedom to keep his own seed so he won’t depend every year on seed purchase, commerce, not even on the seeds supplied by Peliti.”
Note: In the United States, industrial agriculture companies are using the USDA to antagonize local community seed sharing groups. Find out more here.
2014 has probably been the best year in history. Take war, for example – our lives now are more peaceful than at any time known to the human species. Archaeologists believe that 15 per cent of early mankind met a violent death, a ratio not even matched by the last two world wars. Since they ended, wars have become rarer and less deadly. We have recently been celebrating a quarter-century since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, which kicked off a period of global calm. The Canadian academic Steven Pinker has called this era the “New Peace”, noting that conflicts of all kinds – genocide, autocracy and even terrorism – went on to decline sharply the world over. Global life expectancy now stands at a new high of 71.5 years, up six years since 1990. In India, life expectancy is up seven years for men, and 10 for women. It’s rising faster in the impoverished east of Africa than anywhere else on the planet. In Rwanda and Ethiopia, life expectancy has risen by 15 years. The Ebola crisis has led to 7,000 deaths, each one a tragedy. But far more lives have been saved by the progress against malaria, HIV and diarrhoea. The World Bank’s rate of extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 a day) has more than halved since 1990, mainly thanks to China. We still have a lamentably long list of problems to solve. But in the round, there’s no denying it: we are living in the Golden Era.
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.