Inspirational Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles in Major Media
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James Doty is not a subject under study at the altruism research center that he founded at Stanford in 2008, but he could be. In 2000, after building a fortune as a neurosurgeon and biotech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, he lost it all in the dotcom crash. His final asset was stock in a medical-device company he’d once run called Accuray. But it was stock he’d committed to a trust that would benefit the universities he’d attended and programs for AIDS, family, and global health. Doty was $3 million in the hole. Everyone told him to keep the stock for himself. He gave it away—all $30 million of it. In 2007, Accuray went public at a valuation of $1.3 billion. That generated hundreds of millions for Doty’s donees and zero for him. “I have no regrets,” he said. Doty [formed]—with a seed donation of $150,000 from the Dalai Lama, whom Doty had met in a chance encounter—the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, or CCARE, part of Stanford’s School of Medicine. Many of its core findings mirror Doty’s own life. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, a neuroscientist, the science director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and former associate director of CCARE, sees Doty as a remarkable embodiment of what researchers are learning about altruism. “He rose to absurd riches and found that having every possible need met isn’t better,” she said. “That kind of question motivates him. He’s gone to the extremes of the pendulum, and he’s trying to find the place in between that will bring him the most rich and authentic sense of purpose.”
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Catching a glimpse of the Food Runners bicycle courier pulling a trailer fully loaded with trays of food might become something of a downtown San Francisco rite of passage. Food Runners, established by Mary Risley in 1987, takes food that would otherwise be thrown away and delivers it to needy people at Community Awareness & Treatment Services, A Woman's Place, Cityteam Ministries and Door Clinic, among many others. With the amount of donated food now coming in, Risley hopes to expand deliveries to after-school programs as well. A year ago, Risley estimates that Food Runners was picking up 10 tons of food a week; today, that number is up 50 percent, to 15 tons. There are about 100 new donors, and nearly all of them are tech companies - familiar names like Twitter, Zynga, LinkedIn, Uber, Google, Adobe and Airbnb, just to name a few, plus caterers like Cater2Me and ZeroCater that service small startups. "Millennials have found us," says Risley. "Anything you say about the Millennials being out of it is not true. Well, maybe they are out of it, but not when it comes to generosity." ZeroCater, which caters to eBay and FourSquare, among others, estimates that a company usually orders about one pound of food per person. Since the head count varies from day to day and extra food is always ordered, a good amount is left over. That is where Food Runners comes in. The company - be it caterer or restaurant - calls Food Runners. The food gets picked up and delivered the same day. Food Runners' No. 1 message to the public should be clear, says Risley: Don't throw food away.
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Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, a research associate in the Centre for Neuropsychopharma-cology at Imperial College, is ... the first person in the UK to have legally administered doses of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) to human volunteers since the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971. Born in Durham 33 years ago and raised in Bournemouth, he ... is a careful and articulate speaker, but his enthusiasm for his work is evident. "We're at an early, but certainly promising, stage. It's really exciting," he says. The potential scientific benefits of psychedelics ... fall broadly into two categories. They look like being medicinally or therapeutically useful, and they offer an unconventional view of the workings of the human mind, such that the age-old, so-called "hard problem of consciousness" might be made a little easier. Uniquely potent in minute doses, and with what Carhart-Harris calls "a very favourable physiological safety profile" – which is to say, it is non-toxic – this newly synthesised psychedelic drug opened new doors, in more ways than one. "You could say the birth of the science of psychedelics occurred with the discovery of LSD," says Carhart-Harris. "It was only then that we started to study them systematically." Cary Grant famously used it during his therapy, as did the Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson. Between the 1950s and 1965, when Sandoz withdrew the drug, there were more than 1,000 clinical papers discussing 40,000 patients. A 2012 meta-analysis of six controlled trials from the era found its clinical efficiency for the treatment of alcohol addiction to be as effective as any treatment developed since.
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Marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin is undergoing a rebirth in a state at the forefront of efforts to reclaim it as a mainstream crop. Researchers and farmers are producing the first legal hemp crop in generations in Kentucky, where hemp has turned into a political cause decades after it was banned by the federal government. The comeback is strictly small scale. Experimental hemp plots more closely resemble the size of large family gardens. Statewide plantings totaled about 15 acres from the Appalachian foothills in eastern Kentucky to the broad stretches of farmland in the far west, said Adam Watson, the Kentucky Agriculture Department's hemp program coordinator. The crop's reintroduction was delayed in the spring when imported hemp seeds were detained by U.S. customs officials. The state's Agriculture Department sued the federal government, but dropped the case Friday after reaching an agreement on importing the seeds into Kentucky. The seeds were released after federal drug officials approved a permit. Since then, test plots have shown the crop to be hardy and fast growing — and a potential moneymaker with a remarkable range of traditional uses including clothing, mulch, hemp milk, cooking oil, soap and lotions. "What we've learned is it will grow well in Kentucky," Comer said. "It yields a lot per acre. All the things that we predicted." Hemp's roots in Kentucky date back to pioneer days and the towering stalks were once a staple at many farms. "We've got an excellent climate for it, excellent soils for it," Watson said. "It's a good fit for Kentucky producers."
Pope Francis urged Asia's Catholic youth to renounce the materialism that afflicts much of their society today and reject "inhuman" economic systems that disenfranchise the poor. Francis, who received a boisterous welcome from tens of thousands of young people as he celebrated his first public Mass in South Korea, pressed his economic agenda in one of Asia's powerhouses where financial gain is a key barometer of success. In his homily, Francis urged the young people to be a force of renewal and hope for society. "May they combat the allure of a materialism that stifles authentic spiritual and cultural values and the spirit of unbridled competition which generates selfishness and strife," he said. "May they also reject inhuman economic models which create new forms of poverty and marginalise workers." Many link success with ostentatious displays of status and wealth. Competition among the young, especially for places at elite schools, starts as early as pre-nursery and is fierce. The country has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Francis said that in such "outwardly affluent" societies, people often experience "inner sadness and emptiness. Upon how many of our young people has this despair taken its toll?". South Korean Catholics represent only about 10% of the country's 50 million people, but their numbers are growing. Once a country that welcomed missionaries, South Korea now sends homegrown priests and nuns abroad to help spread the faith.
What's more adorable than a puppy? A life-saving puppy, of course. That's especially true of the pup named Kyrachaan, who rescued Karina Chikitova, a 3-year-old girl from northeast Russia's Sakha Republic. Thanks to her dog, Chikitova is recovering safely after spending 11 days in the Siberian wilderness. Kyrachaan, meaning "little one," was with Chikitova when she got lost and is believed to have cuddled with the girl at night to keep her warm. After nine days, the dog went in search of help. The Siberian Times reports that the young girl ended up in the remote area after wandering away from home in search of her father, who had left for a nearby village. As a result, her mother -- believing Karina to have gone with her father -- didn't realize the girl was lost in the woods. Karina survived on wild berries and river water and seems to have escaped any run-ins with the bears and wolves inhabiting the area. According to the Toronto Sun, the girl "looked surprisingly well" when rescuers showed up, having followed the puppy to her hiding spot in a large tuft of grass. The girl was taken to a hospital to recover.
What started as a routine traffic stop on Saturday turned out to be a life-saving moment for one Michigan woman. At the time the unidentified driver was pulled over, she was choking. And the officer who stopped her saved her life in a scene caught on his dashcam, which you can see [on the webpage at the link] above. "For the first second or so I thought she might be trying to just get out of a ticket and then I realized she was in legitimate respiratory distress, so I tried to dislodge the item from her throat by just hitting her on the back," Officer Jason Gates said at a press conference, according to MLive.com. "When that didn't work, I got her out and I used the Heimlich for the first time in my nine-year police career and it worked," he said. With three hard abdominal thrusts, Gates dislodged a piece of sausage and bun, WOODTV reported. When she could breathe again, the grateful driver cried and hugged the officer. He did not give her a ticket. "Most of the times, traffic stops are a negative for people, but it's something we have to do," Gates was quoted as saying. "It does keep people safe, not only in slowing people down and keeping traffic safe, but in rare instances like this.
In 1959, Alva Earley ... attended a picnic at Lake Storey Park. Earley, who is black, went to the picnic with a group of friends. The group, which included other black and Hispanic people, decided to eat at a whites-only area of the park, despite having been told by a school counselor that doing so would result in serious repercussions. "We were just trying to send a message that we are people, too," Earley told NPR. "We just had lunch." After the gathering, Earley was notified by his school that he would not be allowed to graduate, nor would he receive his diploma. Last Friday, Earley, now 73, finally received that diploma. Though more than 50 years late, the graduation was made possible by a few of Earley's former high school classmates. Though the ceremony was a happy one, Earley says that he had been harboring pain over the incident. "The fact that I could not get a cap and gown on and march down the aisle with my classmates -- it meant the world to me. It hurt so bad," he told NPR. Because he was unable to receive a diploma, two colleges that had already accepted him withdrew their offers. He went to Knox College after a classmate persuaded his father and then-president of Knox College to allow Earley to enroll. Now, his other classmates are happy. "When people have been mistreated, we owe it to them to address the injustice," [said] former classmate Lowell Peterson. "This is just a little chance to make something right."
"People ask me: why hemp? I say, why not?" said Dr David Mitlin of Clarkson University, New York, who describes his device in the journal ACS Nano. "We're making graphene-like materials for a thousandth of the price - and we're doing it with waste. ... the leftover bast fibre - the inner bark - typically ends up as landfill. "You can do really interesting things with bio-waste. We've pretty much figured out the secret sauce of it," said Dr Mitlin. The trick is to tailor the right plant fibre to the right electrical device - according to their organic structure. "With banana peels, you can turn them into a dense block of carbon - we call it pseudo-graphite - and that's great for sodium ion batteries," he explained. "But if you look at hemp fibre its structure is the opposite - it makes sheets with high surface area - and that's very conducive to supercapacitors." Mitlin's peer-reviewed journal paper ranks the device "on par with or better than commercial graphene-based devices". "They work down to 0C and display some of the best power-energy combinations reported in the literature for any carbon. Fully assembled, their energy density is 12 Wh/kg, which can be achieved at a charge time less than six seconds. "Obviously hemp can't do all the things graphene can," Dr Mitlin concedes. "But for energy storage, it works just as well. And it costs a fraction of the price – $500-1,000 a tonne."
Note: For more about the amazing properties of graphene, read this CNN News Article.
Until Wednesday, Raudhatul Jannah's parents hadn't seen their daughter for 10 years. Jannah was just 4 years old when she and her brother were swept from their parents in the massive Indian Ocean tsunami which inundated Southeast Asia on Dec. 26, 2004, killing upwards of 230,000 people across 14 countries. In the immediate aftermath, Raudhatul's mother, Jamaliah, ... and her husband searched for their children in their area of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, for a month before giving up hope of finding them alive. In June of this year, however, Jamaliah's brother encountered a girl in a nearby village who bore a strong resemblance to Jannnah. After the tsunami a fisherman had rescued Jannnah from a group of remote islands; she had been living with the fisherman's mother ever since. Nearly a decade after they were ripped apart, Jannnah (now 14) was finally back in her mother's arms. "My heart beat so fast when I saw her," Jamaliah [said]. "I hugged her and she hugged me back and felt so comfortable in my arms." "My husband and I are very happy we have found her," Jamaliah [said].. "This is a miracle from God.” And the news gets better: Jannnah says her brother, who was 7 at the time of the tsunami, is likely alive as well, since the two were briefly stranded together on a nearby island. The family plans to mount a search for the boy.
This summer, [Raymond Burse,] the interim president at Kentucky State University, made a large gesture to his school's lowest-paid employees. Burse announced that he would take a 25 percent salary cut to boost their wages. The 24 school employees making less than $10.25 an hour, who mostly serve as custodial staff, groundskeepers and lower-end clerical workers, will see their pay rise to that new baseline. Some had been making as little as $7.25, the current federal minimum. Burse, who assumed the role of interim president in June, says he asked the school's chief financial officer how much such an increase would cost. The amount: $90,125. "I figured it was easier for me to forgo that amount, rather than adding an additional burden on the institution," Burse says. The school ratified his employment contract on the spot — decreasing it from $349,869 to $259,744. He has pledged to take further salary cuts any time new minimum-wage employees are hired on his watch, to bring their hourly rate to $10.25. Burse describes himself as someone who believes in raising wages, and who also has high expectations and demands for his staff. "I thought that if I'm going to ask them to really be committed and give this institution their all, I should be doing something in return," Burse says. "I didn’t have any examples of it having been done out there and I didn’t do it to be an example to anyone else," Burse says. "I did it to do right by the employees here."
The clean-power revolution is for real. Wind and solar have gotten much cheaper, less novel and more predictable. Green electricity is no longer avant-garde; it has produced more than half of new U.S. generating capacity this year. Wind has tripled since 2008, while solar is up 1,200%. This is terrific news–for homeowners who reduce their electric bills by going solar, ratepayers whose utilities save them money by buying wind power, and the planet. But there’s a deeper message. People assume the future of clean energy depends on gee-whiz technological innovations: better solar panels and wind turbines, cheaper batteries and biofuels. And we will need those advances in the long term to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050. But the biggest advances in the near term are likely to be boring financial innovations. The innovation that launched the sunshine revolution was the solar lease, which has helped homeowners and businesses install rooftop systems without having to plunk down tens of thousands of dollars up front. Now they can sign 20-year contracts with no money down to lease panels from installers like SolarCity or Sunrun, then make payments out of the savings on their electric bills. Now we’re moving into the next phase of the renewable revolution. Those 20-year leases look a lot like mortgages, auto loans or other financial instruments that Wall Street routinely packages into securities. And Wall Street has begun to package solar contracts into securities. The market for commercial solar securities has grown from less than $1 billion to $15 billion since 2008.
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Why pay good money to release an advertisement when a viral video will do the trick? It worked for Canada-based TD Bank, which has a viral hit on its hands after filming customers who were surprised when an ATM spit out gifts -- very personal ones. In an effort to tell the world that the bank really knows its customers it turned one of its ATMs into what it called an "automatic thanking machine." The promotional video went viral, with more than 3.8 million views after just a week on YouTube. One woman received airline tickets to Trinidad so she can visit her only daughter, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Another mom got $2,000 to start savings plans for her two children, as well as tickets to take them to Disney Land. The recipient was ecstatic. "I've never been able to take my kids anywhere," she said. TD Bank (TD) customer Mike Jobin, a big baseball fan, got a Blue Jays hat and tee and the chance to throw out the first pitch at one of the team's games. The special ATM was located at a branch in Canada, where employees helped design the personalized gifts, the bank said in a statement. TD also gave away $20 bills to some customers at other TD locations.
According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running five minutes per day can reduce an individual’s risk of premature death by about three years. Researchers found that people who ran less than an hour per week also saw an increase in lifespan, not just a decrease in risk of premature death. The study took place over the course of 15 years, testing participants ranging in age from 18-100. Separate research found that running more than 20 miles per week could take years off an individual’s life, providing further evidence that less can be more with regard to exercise. According to that research, individuals who exhibit consistent but moderate workout patterns are likely to live the longest.
The soda craze is going flat–at least, according to a new Gallup poll, which found that almost two-thirds of Americans actively avoid soda in their diet. While 41% percent of those polled in 2002 said that they try to steer clear of soda, that number has now jumped to 63%. Gallup’s poll shows that generally Americans are making more effort to have healthier diets. More than nine out of ten Americans try to include fruits and vegetables in their diets, and 52% said that they are trying to avoid sugars. Don’t start pouring one out for the dying soda business just yet, though. A 2012 Gallup poll also found that 48% of Americans drink at least one glass of soda a day.
When newborn babies come into the world at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, the first thing they hear is a song. The soothing melodies come not from a CD, an iPod or even their own parents, but from the very doctor who delivered them. “I’ve delivered about 8,000 babies and I must have sung ... to six or [seven thousand] of them,” Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja told ABC News. Dr. Andrew-Jaja began the practice of singing to the tiny humans he just delivered while he was a young resident and learning from a physician who did the same. “He was about to retire. He asked me to continue the tradition,” he said. “And I’ve done it ever since.” Dr. Andrew-Jaja’s repertoire of songs includes everything from the expected “Happy Birthday” to the more unexpected like “What a Wonderful World." “Sometimes the pregnancy has been difficult, the delivery has been complex and yet most of the time out comes this beautiful baby and it’s a moment when you forget that fear,” he [said]. Dr. Andrew-Jaja’s talent put him in the spotlight last year when his employer, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, posted a video on his singing tradition to YouTube. “When I'm singing to those babies I think that I'm singing to a future important person,” Dr. Andrew-Jaja says in the video. “That's the credit I give to all of them. So, to me, it's a wonderful thing in my hand, the miracle of life," he said. “You forget about all the crisis going on everywhere, for a moment, when you see that miracle of life in front of you.”
Ben & Jerry's has made a pledge to remove all GMO ingredients from its ice cream. The company has taken a vocal stand in recent years in support of states looking at legislation that would require manufacturers to disclose food that is made with genetic engineering. And Vermont recently passed a law that will require labeling starting in 2015. Ben & Jerry's co-founder Jerry Greenfield [then] launched a campaign to help fill the coffers of Vermont's crowd-sourced defense fund set up to combat lawsuits over its labeling law. Some other mainstream companies are carefully — and much more quietly — calibrating their non-GMO strategies. General Mills' original plain Cheerios are now GMO-free, but the only announcement was in a company blog post in January. Grape Nuts, another cereal aisle staple, made by Post, is also non-GMO. And Target has about 80 of its own brand items certified GMO-free. Megan Westgate runs the Non-GMO Project, which acts as an independent third-party verifier of GMO-free products, including Target's. She says her organization knows about "a lot of exciting cool things that are happening that for whatever strategic reasons get kept pretty quiet." The Non-GMO Project has certified more than 20,000 products since it launched in 2007, and Westgate says this is one of the fastest growing sectors of the natural food industry, representing $6 billion in annual sales.
The leaders of the five BRICS countries have signed a deal to create a new $100bn development bank and emergency reserve fund. The BRICS group is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The capital for the bank will be split equally among the five participating countries. The bank will have a headquarters in Shanghai, China and the first president for the bank will come from India. Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, announced the creation of the bank at a BRICS summit meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil on [July 15]. Despite their political and economic differences, the one thing these countries do agree upon is that rich countries have too much power in institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. Rousseff's comments made that feeling crystal clear - the BRICS countries, she said, have the power to introduce positive changes - ones that they think are more equal and fair. At first, the bank will start off with $50bn in initial capital. The emergency reserve fund - which was announced as a "Contingency Reserve Arrangement" - will also have $100bn, and will help developing nations avoid "short-term liquidity pressures, promote further BRICS cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements". The creation of the BRICS bank will almost surely create competition for both the World Bank and other similar regional funds.
Most everyone who has ever selected their fruits and vegetables from the "organic" section while grocery shopping probably thought they were doing something good for their bodies and the environment. Yet the question of whether organic foods are in fact more nutritious than their conventionally grown counterparts remains a topic of heated scientific debate. On [July 14], the British Journal of Nutrition published research that disputed the notion that organic foods are essentially no more healthful than conventional foods. After reviewing 343 studies on the topic, researchers in Europe and the United States concluded that organic crops and organic-crop-based foods contained higher concentrations of antioxidants on average than conventionally grown foods. At the same time, the researchers found that conventional foods contained greater concentrations of residual pesticides and the toxic metal cadmium. "This shows clearly that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains deliver tangible nutrition and food safety benefits," said study coauthor Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Note: Read more about this landmark study in this article.
Last week ... the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day. For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar. “Negative pricing” moves, as they are known, are not uncommon. But they are only supposed to happen at night, when most of the population is mostly asleep, [and] demand is down That's not supposed to happen at lunchtime. Daytime prices are supposed to reflect higher demand, when people are awake, office buildings are in use, factories are in production. That's when fossil fuel generators would normally be making most of their money. The influx of rooftop solar has turned this model on its head. The impact has been so profound, and wholesale prices pushed down so low, that few coal generators in Australia made a profit last year. Hardly any are making a profit this year. State-owned generators like Stanwell are specifically blaming rooftop solar. The problem for Australian consumers [comes] in the cost of delivery of [electricity] through the transmission and distribution networks, and from retail costs and taxes. This is the cost which is driving households to take up rooftop solar, in such proportions that the level of rooftop solar is forecast ... to rise sixfold over the next decade. Households are tipped to spend up to $30bn on rooftop modules. It is not clear how centralised, fossil-fuel generation can adapt. In an energy democracy, even free coal has no value.
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