Inspirational News Articles
Excerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Major Media
Below are many highly engaging excerpts of key inspirational news articles reported in the mainstream media.
Links are provided to the original news articles on their major media websites. If any link should fail to function, click here
. These inspirational articles are listed by order of importance. For the same list by date posted to this website, click here
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. Enjoy your reading!
For an index to revealing excerpts of news articles on several dozen engaging topics, click here
Small houses challenge our notions of need as well as minimum-size standards
2007-04-27, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
This dream house is the love child of artist-builder Jay Shafer, who lovingly hand-crafted it. The stainless-steel kitchen, gleaming next to the natural wood interior, is outfitted with customized storage and built-ins. But in an era when bigger is taken as a synonym for better, calling Shafer's home a dream house might strike some as an oxymoron. Why? The entire house, including sleeping loft, measures only 96 square feet -- smaller than many people's bathrooms. Shafer ... began his love affair with diminutive dwellings about 10 years ago. "I was living in an average-sized apartment and I realized I just didn't need so much space," he said. After a friend asked him to build a house for him to live in, Shafer launched Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. in 2000. The friend went on to become the president of the Small House Society -- and thus was written one more episode of the small-is-beautiful movement. Shafer began building and designing little houses for people who wanted them as backyard retreats, second homes or primary residences. Over the years, he has built and sold 10 homes and dozens of house plans, which cost about $1,000. But the real story is that he's become a poster boy for simple living, with interviews or mentions in ... the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and, last February, even on "Oprah." "Our society's been based on excess for so long, it's still a somewhat novel idea to live simply," he said. His next dream is to create a little community of small houses, with a half-dozen or more connected by walking paths on a small piece of land.
Note: For lots more on the fascinating tiny house movement, click here. For an abundance of other inspiring major media articles, click here.
Web entrepreneurs have an eye on social need -- not personal greed
2007-04-15, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Ryan Mickle's life was the stuff young bourgeois dreams are made of. Then a year ago ... Mickle began to take stock of his life. He was earning a lot of money but was giving very little of himself. So Mickle ditched his high-paying job to brainstorm a new venture with friend Rod Ebrahimi. The result was Dotherightthing.com, a San Francisco startup that allows users to rank companies based on their social impact on the world. Their site [allows] consumers to influence corporate behavior. The sentiment is summed up in Dotherightthing.com's T-shirt slogan: "It's cool to care." Mickle, 26, and Ebrahimi, 25, are among a growing number of entrepreneurs betting they can build ventures that deliver both financial and social returns. EBay founder Pierre Omidyar has dedicated much of his fortune to helping for-profits and nonprofits alike discover their power to do good. At www.freepledge.com, shoppers buy the same products from the same merchants for the same price, but a percentage is donated to the nonprofit of their choice. Darian Hickman, 28, is designing an online strategy game that turns the players into entrepreneurs who help bring prosperity to impoverished villages in underdeveloped countries. [He was] inspired by Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel prize-winning micro-finance pioneer. Premal Shah [is a] former PayPal executive who is president of online micro-lender Kiva.org. Brian Johnson, 32 ... said he felt uncomfortable with capitalism until he hit on the concept of "using economics as a force for good. How do we live our spiritual ideals and make money?" Now Johnson tries to have it both ways with Zaadz.com, which he describes as MySpace for people who want to change the world.
Note: We encourage you to take some time to explore some of these exciting new adventures which are transforming the face of business and building a brighter future for us all. For more on micro-finance, micro-lending, and how you can help end poverty without donating a penny, click here. And for the profile of website founder Fred Burks on Zaadz.com, click here.
Unsung fortune: A rich man's secret
2007-03-26, Philadelphia Inquirer
Hal Taussig wears baggy jeans and fraying work shirts that Goodwill might reject. His shoes have been resoled three times. At age 81, he doesn't own a car. He performs errands and commutes to the office by bicycle. And he has given away millions. Given the fortune that Taussig has made through Untours, his unique travel business, and has given away through the Untours Foundation, you could call him the Un-millionaire. If he so chose, he could be living in a Main Line mansion and driving a Mercedes. But he considers money and what he calls "stuff," beyond what he needs to survive, a burden, an embarrassment. In many respects, he's a 21st-century Thoreau. "Let your capital be simplicity and contentment," the sage of Walden Pond wrote. "Those are my sentiments precisely," says Taussig, who has three children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He directs the Untours Foundation, into which he pours all his profits - $5 million since 1992. The money is used to make low-interest loans to ventures and projects that help the needy and jobless - from a craft store in Hanoi to a home-health-care cooperative in Philadelphia. "I invest in entrepreneurial efforts to help poor people leverage themselves out of poverty." "In America, we worship success," he says. "It's a shoddy ethic that leads us to value who we are by what we are." The motto of the Untours Foundation is "a hand up, not a handout." It provides low-interest loans, here and abroad, to create jobs, build low-income housing, and support fair-trade products: goods such as coffee that are sold at a price that guarantees producers and workers a fair wage and decent livelihood.
Note: For an easy way you can use your investments to help families pull out of poverty, click here.
8 technologies for a green future
The planet's most pressing environmental problems ... may seem just too big to be solved with today's technology. But don't despair: A lot of bright minds are working on futuristic projects that promise to make the world greener. It's save-the-world stuff like toxic-waste-eating trees, smart electricity grids, oceangoing robots, and floating environmental sensors. This technology may seem far out - but it will probably be here a lot sooner than you think. 1. Try a solar-powered hydrogen fueling station in your garage. It's about the size of a filing cabinet and runs on electricity generated by standard-issue rooftop solar panels. The first version of the home fueling station is expected to produce enough hydrogen to give your runabout a range of some 100 miles without emitting a molecule of planet-warming greenhouse gas. 2. Environmental sensor networks [provide] real-time data on a variety of phenomena that affect the economy and society - climate change, hurricanes, air and water pollution. 3. Toxin-eating trees ... a technology that uses vegetation to absorb hazardous waste from industrial plants and other polluters. 4. Nuclear waste neutralizer ... a chemical technology called Urex+ that extracts reusable uranium and separates out cesium, allowing four times as much waste to be packed into nuclear burial grounds. 5. Autonomous ocean robots. 6. Sonic water purifier ... a sci-fi solution for an age-old problem that leaves 1.1 billion people without access to clean water: 7. Endangered-species tracker. 8. The interactive, renewable smart power grid ... the electricity grid of the future ... will look more like the Internet - distributed, interactive, open-source - than the dumb, one-way network of today.
Note: For many other exciting discoveries of new energy sources, click here.
Researchers Seek Routes to Happier Life
2006-11-26, Washington Post/Associated Press
As a motivational speaker and executive coach, Caroline Adams Miller knows a few things about using mental exercises to achieve goals. But last year, one exercise she was asked to try took her by surprise. Every night, she was to think of three good things that happened that day and analyze why they occurred. That was supposed to increase her overall happiness. "I thought it was too simple to be effective," said Miller. "I went to Harvard. I'm used to things being complicated." Miller was assigned the task as homework in a master's degree program. "The quality of my dreams has changed, I never have trouble falling asleep and I do feel happier." Miller said the exercise made her notice more good things in her day, and that now she routinely lists 10 or 20 of them rather than just three. That exercise is one of several that have shown preliminary promise in recent research into how people can make themselves happier — not just for a day or two, but long-term. There has been very little research in how people become happier. The big reason ... is that many researchers have considered that quest to be futile. But recent long-term studies have revealed that the happiness thermostat is more malleable than the popular theory maintained. One new study ... followed thousands of Germans for 17 years. About a quarter changed significantly over that time in their basic level of satisfaction with life. Another approach under study now is having people work on savoring the pleasing things in their lives like a warm shower or a good breakfast. [Yet] another promising approach is having people write down what they want to be remembered for, to help them bring their daily activities in line with what's really important to them.
Daring rescue of whale: Humpback nuzzled her saviors in thanks
2005-12-14, San Francisco Chronicle
A humpback whale freed by divers from a tangle of crab trap lines near the Farallon Islands nudged its rescuers and flapped around in what marine experts said was a rare and remarkable encounter. "It felt to me like it was thanking us, knowing that it was free and that we had helped it," James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, said Tuesday. "It stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a little bit and had some fun." Sunday's daring rescue was the first successful attempt on the West Coast to free an entangled humpback. It was a very risky maneuver...because the mere flip of a humpback's massive tail can kill a man. "I was the first diver in the water, and my heart sank when I saw all the lines wrapped around it," said [James] Moskito. "I really didn't think we were going to be able to save it." Moskito said about 20 crab-pot ropes, which are 240 feet long with weights every 60 feet, were wrapped around the animal. Rope was wrapped at least four times around the tail, the back and the left front flipper, and there was a line in the whale's mouth. Moskito and three other divers spent about an hour cutting the ropes with a special curved knife. The whale floated passively in the water the whole time, he said, giving off a strange kind of vibration. "When I was cutting the line going through the mouth, its eye was there winking at me, watching me," Moskito said. "It was an epic moment of my life." When the whale realized it was free, it began swimming around in circles, according to the rescuers. Moskito said it swam to each diver, nuzzled him and then swam to the next one.
The world champ of poverty fighters
2005-07-00, Ode Magazine, July 2005 Issue
Poverty can be solved, declares Muhammad Yunus. A former economics professor, who holds honorary doctorates from 22 universities in 11 countries, Yunus has seen for himself what works and what doesn’t work
in Bangladesh, just about the poorest country in the world. "Charity
is not the way to help people in need. If you want to solve poverty, you have to put people in a position to build their own life. Unfortunately, this is not how the aid industry
works. Western governments and development organizations think they need to
offer permanent charity. As a result, they keep entire economies in poverty
and families in an inhuman situation." As founder of the Grameen
Bank, he is the creator of a concept that now represents an emerging force
in the financial world: microcredit, small loans for poor people.
Grameen has become a model for banks in nearly 100 countries. "I still think we can cut poverty in half within 10 years and can eradicate it within a human lifetime. Credit is one of the barriers we must eliminate so that the poor can clamber out of poverty. Thanks to the mobile telephone, farmers in Bangladesh can negotiate
directly with their customers. Via internet, farmers find out the actual market
value of their goods, enabling them to strengthen their negotiating position.
They are no longer forced to rely on the clever middleman who kept the farmers
in ignorance and took off with their money." Yunus has demonstrated that combating poverty starts with action. And that these actions can sometimes even make a profit.
Note: Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his empowering work. For lots more on this inspiring movement and what you can do to help pull families out of poverty, click here.
This Magic Moment
It was like many Maui mornings, the sun rising over Haleakala as we greeted our divers for the day's charter... Near the last level of the dive ... three of us caught the current and drifted along the outside of the reef, slowly beginning our ascent until, far below, something caught my eye. I made out the white shoulder patches of a manta ray in about one hundred and twenty feet of water. So I started calling through my regulator, "Hey, come up and see me!" I had tried this before to attract the attention of whales and dolphins, who ... will come sometimes just to see what the noise is about. Once my brain clicked in and I was able to concentrate, I saw deep V-shaped marks of her flesh missing from her backside. She had fishing hooks embedded in her head by her eye, with very thick fishing line running to her tail. She had rolled with the line and was wrapped head to tail about five or six times. The line had torn into her body at the back, and those were the V-shaped chunks that were missing. Forgetting about my air, my divers and where I was, I went to the manta. I moved very slowly and talked to her the whole time, like she was one of the horses I had grown up with. When she had steadied, I took out the knife that I carry on my inflator hose. I cut through one line and into the next until she had all she could take of me and would move away, only to return in a moment or two. I could have stayed there forever! ... I was totally oblivious to everything but that moment. I loved this manta. I was so moved that she would allow me to do this to her. But reality came screaming down on me. With my air running out, I reluctantly came to my senses and pushed myself away...
Note: Don't miss the entire moving story at the link above.
Obama: I have a deep faith
2004-04-05, Chicago Sun-Times
Barack Obama is alone on this Saturday afternoon in the city, his press secretary nowhere in sight. He's not carrying anything with him. Not even notes. Yet he appears confident as he answers questions about his spiritual life, a subject that would make many politicians -- on or off the campaign trail -- more skittish than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. If an hourlong conversation about his faith unnerves him, Obama's not letting on. The first question he fields without hesitation: What does he believe? "I am a Christian," the 42-year-old ... says. "So, I have a deep faith," Obama continues. "I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.
That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived." It's perhaps an unlikely theological position for someone who places his faith squarely at the feet of Jesus to take, saying essentially that all people of faith -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone -- know the same God. That depends, Obama says, on how a particular verse from the Gospel of John, where Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me," is heard. "Alongside my own deep personal faith, I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion," he says. "I am a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure."
Note: For those who want to understand the spiritual beliefs of Barack Obama, the full article at the link above is highly recommended. Even better, for the powerful transcript of this interview between the religion columnist of the Sun-Times and Obama, click here.
How letters from strangers saved a teen's life
2013-03-08, CBS News
"There are a lot of kids out there that suffer depression and anxiety," said seventh-grader Noah Brocklebank. And not many are willing to talk about it on national television. Noah is okay with people calling him depressed -- mainly because, over the past couple years, he's been called worse. "Like 'fat,' 'ugly,' 'annoying,' 'loser,'" he recalled. Noah's mother Karen says the bullying, combined with his underlying depression, ultimately led to the night of January 26. That night, her son posted a clear warning on the Internet -- a picture of his arm all cut up and a note that read: "Day of scheduled suicide, February 8th, 2013, my birthday." It was to be his 13th birthday. "I just felt like everything was worthless," said Noah. "My life was terrible. I had no one." After that, Noah ended up in the hospital for eight days. And while he was in there, as his doctors assessed his mental health, his mother came up with a plan to improve his vision --- a plan for Noah to see more clearly how much he matters, how much he's loved, and that there really is life beyond seventh grade. So she asked some friends on Facebook to put all that in a letter. What happened next is a remarkable testament to both the power of social media and the kindness of strangers. Noah has received thousands of letters from every continent on the planet, including Antarctica. The sheer volume alone has brightened up his home a million watts. As for how this changed him, Noah said: "I was focused on the bad side of the people, like the bullies. Then I realized there are caring people out there that can be my friends."
Note: For a deeply moving four-minute video clip from an Emmy-award-winning documentary on bullying, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
'Bank of Bob' finances $25 startups
2013-02-07, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
For years, writer Bob Harris enjoyed a unique opportunity - traveling to some of the most luxurious hotels in the world on behalf of ForbesTraveler.com. But, as he bounced from one five-star palace to another, he felt uneasy about the inequality of the industry: The people who build these places don't get to see or experience them. He decided he would somehow give back his salary from the decadent escapes he'd had. That's when he discovered Kiva, the San Francisco crowdfunding site that enables individuals to offer $25 loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world. Harris began lending via Kiva.org. Then, some friends joined in, building a community of lenders they called, aptly, Friends of Bob Harris. Over the last three years, they've collectively lent more than $3 million. In 2011, Harris decided to go meet some of the entrepreneurs and write about his travels, microfinance and Kiva's impact. That took him to a dozen countries - Bosnia, Nepal, Cambodia, Kenya and more - and resulted in a book: The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Loan at a Time. Recently, he spoke with The Chronicle about his travels and what he learned. Q: Did you ask the entrepreneurs point blank about ... what did they think of the lending criteria? A: I did get feedback on what ... changes they wanted. They wanted longer grace periods; a longer length of time between getting the loan and their first payment so that they could think more about long-term investments; they wanted a version of "revolving credit." I never once heard [complaints] about the interest rate.
Conscious Capitalism ready for spotlight
2013-01-26, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Conscious Capitalism Inc. [is] an organization that came to public attention ... with the publication of a book with the same title and the controversial comments made by its author, Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey. Not the capitalism that's been "hijacked by the 'story-of-me,' " explained the organization's CEO, Doug Rauch. "It should be the story of us. "Us" as in employees, customers, investors, surrounding communities, the environment - also known as "stakeholders" - to whom business leaders owe an obligation over and above the bottom line and mere shareholder value. These are not new ideas - they've been expressed by a number of business leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus, founder of the microlending Grameen Bank ... and pushed by organizations like San Francisco's Business for Social Responsibility. Still, Conscious Capitalism - registered trademark - has rounded up a number of corporate chieftains in addition to Mackey, including those running Patagonia, The Container Store, Southwest Airlines, Motley Fool, Zappos, Herman Miller, Gibson Guitars and Nordstrom. POSCO, the giant South Korean steel company, is a major financial contributor. Up to now, the 6-year-old nonprofit has been operating mostly under the radar, but with a $1 million annual budget - funded by individual and corporate contributions and revenue from conferences - Conscious Capitalism appears ready to spread its wings.
The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz
2013-01-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Aaron Swartz, the computer programmer and internet freedom activist, committed suicide on [January 11] in New York at the age of 26. Much of Swartz's tragically short life was filled with acts that are genuinely and, in the most literal and noble sense, heroic. He became something of a legend in the internet and programming world before he was 18. His path to internet mogul status and the great riches it entails was clear, easy and virtually guaranteed: a path which so many other young internet entrepreneurs have found irresistible, monomaniacally devoting themselves to making more and more money long after they have more than they could ever hope to spend. Swartz had little interest in devoting his life to his own material enrichment, despite how easy it would have been for him. He committed himself to the causes in which he so passionately believed: internet freedom, civil liberties, making information and knowledge as available as possible. Critically, Swartz didn't commit himself to these causes merely by talking about them or advocating for them. He repeatedly sacrificed his own interests, even his liberty, in order to defend these values and challenge and subvert the most powerful factions that were their enemies. Nobody knows for sure why federal prosecutors decided to pursue Swartz so vindictively. I believe it ... was waged as part of ... the war over how the internet is used and who controls the information that flows on it - and that was his real crime in the eyes of the US government: challenging its authority and those of corporate factions to maintain a stranglehold on that information.
Note: For a video showing the inspiring activism of this young man, click here. This video shows why this courageous man was likely targeted to stop him from empowering others. Please spread the word.
Readers Join Doctor’s Journey to the Afterworld’s Gates
2012-11-26, New York Times
For years Dr. Eben Alexander III had dismissed near-death revelations of God and heaven as explainable by the hard wiring of the human brain. He was, after all, a neurosurgeon with sophisticated medical training. But then in 2008 Dr. Alexander contracted bacterial meningitis. The deadly infection soaked his brain and sent him into a deep coma. During that week, as life slipped away, he now says, he was living intensely in his mind. He was ... guided by “a beautiful girl with high cheekbones and deep blue eyes” on the wings of a butterfly to an “immense void” that is both “pitch black” and “brimming with light” coming from an “orb” that interprets for an all-loving God. Dr. Alexander, 58, was so changed by the experience that he felt compelled to write a book, Proof of Heaven, that recounts his experience. He knew full well that he was gambling his professional reputation by writing it, but his hope is that his expertise will be enough to persuade skeptics, particularly medical skeptics, as he used to be, to open their minds to an afterworld. Having trained at Duke University and taught and practiced as a surgeon at Harvard, he knows brain science as well as anyone. And science, he said, cannot explain his experience. “During my coma my brain wasn’t working improperly,” he writes in his book. “It wasn’t working at all.” [Proof of Heaven] rose instantly to No. 1 on The New York Times’s paperback best-seller list and is there again for next week. The publisher has printed nearly one million copies, combined hardcover and paperback, to be snapped up at airports and as stocking stuffers at big retailers like Target. Another 78,000 digital copes have been sold.
Note: As of now, Dr. Alexander's book has been the New York Times #1 bestseller for 23 weeks. For an inspiring online lesson which dives deep into near-death experiences (and the possibility of reincarnation) using solid, reliable sources, click here. For other inspiring articles on near-death experiences, click here.
The Science of Heaven
2012-11-18, The Daily Beast/Newsweek
On the morning of Nov. 10, 2008, I awoke with the early symptoms of what proved to be an extremely severe case of bacterial meningitis. As I wrote here three weeks ago, and as I narrate in my book Proof of Heaven, over the next several hours my entire cerebral cortex shut down. Yet in spite of the complete absence of neural activity in all but the deepest, most primitive portions of my brain, my identity—my sense of self—did not go dark. Instead, I underwent the most staggering experience of my life, my consciousness traveling to another level, or dimension, or world. Brain activity and consciousness are indeed profoundly tied up with one another. But that does not mean that those bonds can’t be loosened, or even cut completely. Modern physics is pushing us [to believe] that it is consciousness that is primary and matter secondary. Totally objective observation remains a simple impossibility. And while in our ordinary earthly life we miss this fact completely, it becomes much more apparent in near-death experiences, when the body and brain cease to mediate our encounter with the larger reality and we encounter it directly. Make no mistake: consciousness is a total mystery. We simply do not know what it is. My seven-day odyssey beyond my physical body and brain convinced me that when the filter of the brain is removed, we see the universe clearly for the first time. And the multidimensional universe revealed by this trans-physical vision is not a cold, dead one, but alive with the force that, as the poet Dante wrote some 600 years ago, “moves the sun and other stars.”
Note: The author of this article, Dr. Eben Alexander, has been a neurosurgeon for the past 25 years. His engaging, best-selling book on this life-changing experience is Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. For video interviews and other information on Dr. Alexander, click here. For other highly inspiring resources and stories related to near-death experiences, click here.
Pee power! African teens create urine-fueled generator
Four teenage African girls have come up with a urine-powered generator ... which they claim generates one hour of electricity from one liter (about a quart) of urine. The pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria. Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen. The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas. This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator. The girls will probably be famous chemists one day, in any case, but they aren't the first to propose urine (or more solid human and animal waste) as a possible alternative fuel. Last year, in one example, researchers from Ohio University came up with their own technology for extracting hydrogen from urine. Doing so, they say, requires less power than plucking it from water, as hydrogen can be separated more easily from the ammonia and urea chemical compounds present in pee. The four African teens likely are the youngest researchers yet to dabble in pee as power. Skepticism aside, can we all just agree that the foursome should be lauded for their efforts to find alternative power sources on a continent that could really use them?
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Bodybuilder, 93, with winning muscles
2012-10-28, BBC News
At 93, Dr Charles Eugster cuts a dapper figure in his navy suit and matching silk handkerchief and tie. But he looks just as good in the Lycra gym suit he has on underneath, ready to spring into action like a nonagenarian superhero. This former dentist took up bodybuilding just six years ago, aged 87, yet looks very at home surrounded by the whirring fitness machines. His reasons for picking up weights in his 80s are simple. "The idea is to turn the heads of the sexy young 70-year-old girls on the beach," he says. He now works out three to four times a week, often for two hours at a time, with his regime varying depending on his goals. Sometimes this involves a "heavy session of muscle building or rowing on the lake". And his vigorous training has clearly paid off. At a recent championship he achieved 57 dips, 61 chin-ups, 50 push-ups and 48 abdominal crunches, each in 45 seconds. Dr Eugster is no stranger to competitions. Since starting his bodybuilding training he has won several world titles for fitness and picked up many rowing medals. For 30 years while working long hours as a dentist he didn't manage to exercise regularly and began to realise his body wasn't what he wished it to be. "I'm extremely vain and I noticed I was getting fat," he said. "In my opinion anybody can do it. But obviously it is like trading in your old car for a new one. Ageing has become something for me, an enormous pleasure, a delight, a joy."
Note: For two amazing one-minute videos of a highly inspiring 86-year-old gymnast, click here.
Child Prodigy Writes Opera at Age 7
2012-10-23, ABC News
Alma Deutscher is already an accomplished musician; she’s mastered the piano and the violin. Now she can add composing her own opera to the list — and she’s only seven years old. Like so many other child prodigies, she plays beautifully. But what sets her apart is her ability to write, and improvise, classical music. Deutscher can sit at the piano and create music that sounds as if it had been written for her. Robert Gjerdingen, professor of music theory and cognition at Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music, ... has been helping the Deutscher family teach Alma in a classic style that encourages her ability to improvise. “Usually prodigies excel in reproducing music, not in creating it.” The young musician hails from the country town of Surrey, England, and has always showed a passion for the arts. “It was striking that when she was about three, she heard a lullaby by Richard Straus,” says her mother, Janie Deutscher. “And she came to us and said, ‘How can music be so beautiful?’ She was so struck by the beauty of it.” For her most recent project, Alma composed a seven-minute opera called ‘The Sweeper of Dreams.” She woke up one morning with a musical theme in her head and with the help of her father, who is also an amateur musician, she recorded the theme on the piano. She later fashioned the theme she recorded into a seven-minute “mini-opera” for a competition held by the English National Opera, which praised her work. “Normally when I try to think of ideas, it doesn’t come,” she said. But “when I’m improvising, then I have lots of ideas.”
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
Detroit’s Good Food Cure
2012-09-06, Yes! Magazine
Weekend mornings are the busiest days of the week at D-Town Farm. That’s when up to 30 volunteers from across Detroit come out to till the earth and tend the crops at the seven-acre mini-farm on the city’s west side. “One of our goals is to present healthy eating to people,” says Malik Yakini, Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), which runs D-Town. “We think that healthy eating optimizes a good life generally. A diet close to nature allows the human body to function the way it is supposed to function.” D-Town is set in one of the city’s greenest areas, a former tree nursery in the 1,184-acre River Rouge Park. It’s ... about a mile upriver from the Brightmoor, a formerly devastated neighborhood that boasts no fewer than 22 community gardens. The Detroit City Council granted use of the land to DBCFSN in 2008. Nowhere in the United States has urban agriculture taken root as prolifically as in Detroit. This gardening renaissance has been growing for over two decades since the Gardening Angels, a group of southern-born African-Americans, began growing food and passing their agricultural knowledge on to another generation. There are more than 1,200 community gardens in Detroit—more per square mile and more per capita than in any other American city. DBCFSN’s goals include empowering African-Americans within the food system and providing fresh, healthy foods in an area where access is not a given. Detroit was among the communities declared food deserts by researcher Mari Gallagher in 2007.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
FBI says violent crime fell 4 percent last year; but has long downward trend hit bottom?
2012-06-11, Washington Post/Associated Press
The number of crimes reported to police dropped again last year compared with 2010. Last year marked the fifth straight year of year-to-year improvement for the number of violent crimes reported to authorities. It was the ninth consecutive year of declines for property crimes, according to preliminary FBI data for 2011. The FBI says murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault all went down in 2011. Violent crime decreased in all four regions: 4.9 percent in the Midwest; 4.7 percent in the West; 4.5 percent in the South and 0.8 percent in the Northeast. There was, however, an increase in murder in the Midwest — 0.6 percent — and an 18.3 percent jump in murder in cities with populations of less than 10,000. In the property crime category, motor vehicle theft dropped 3.3 percent, and larceny-theft decreased 0.9 percent. However, burglary offenses increased 0.3 percent, rising 3.2 percent in the Northeast, 1.3 percent in the Midwest and 0.7 percent in the West. The preliminary data is based on information the FBI gathered from 14,009 law enforcement agencies around the United States.
Note: This article is a great example of how the media consistently downplay any good news about the massive drop in crimes over the past 20 years. The entire article fails to mention the inspiring news that violent crime rates are now less than 1/3 what they were in 1994. That's awesome! For lots more on this inspiring news and the media's penchant for playing it down, click here.