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
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For an index to revealing excerpts of news articles on several dozen engaging topics, click here
Peer-to-Peer Lending: No Longer Just a Curiosity
2013-01-20, Bloomberg Businessweek
Peer-to-peer lending most immediately brings to mind the largely feel-good act of extending small-time money to small businesses and individuals with quirky projects—a curiosity at best and no threat to the lending hegemony of big banks. What’s less appreciated is how successful peer-to-peer lending platforms such as Prosper and Lending Club have been in connecting wholesale numbers of individual lenders and borrowers. Renaud Laplanche is the founder and chief executive officer of Lending Club, which has been at least doubling its loan originations every year since it started in June 2007 at the onset of the financial crisis. He says he came up with the idea when he realized he was paying 18 percent on his credit-card debt while the issuing bank was paying out 2 percent to depositors. Lending Club mitigates risk—its default rate has remained in the low single digits throughout the financial crisis—by serving prime and superprime borrowers and turning down 90 percent of loan applications. Prosper, perhaps Lending Club’s main rival, has similarly posted nice risk-adjusted returns across its loan portfolio. Its management and board are studded with venture capitalists and Wall Street names. The value proposition to borrowers, obviously, is access not just to capital that the banks aren’t willing to lend them, but capital at a lower cost should they make the grade.
MoveOn founder, Tea Party figure meet
2013-01-17, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
It was a mind-blowing political tableau: a co-founder of liberal bulwark MoveOn sitting in her Berkeley living room, laughing, sharing homemade blueberry scones and occasionally agreeing with a national Tea Party figure. MoveOn's Joan Blades ... and Mark Meckler, ... have been talking online and over the phone for a few years now. Quietly, until now. "Transpartisanship" is the genteel word for what they're doing. Blades has been involved in similar types of projects for about a decade, but this is a fairly new school of political thought, which posits that people can come together to find some common ground without abandoning their core beliefs. The occasion was the latest installment of Living Room Conversations, Blades' latest national transpartisan project that she co-founded with former GOP operative Amanda Kathryn Roman [of] New Jersey. It involves one or two co-hosts pulling together an intimate gathering of folks who might believe they agree on little politically - until they sit down together to listen to one another's perspective. Civilly. Eventually, they find places they agree. That's what happened between Blades and Meckler, and it should give hope to a nation locked in scrums over guns and immigration and taxes. The day's assigned topic was "crony capitalism." It was conservative commentator Ralph Benko who introduced Meckler and Blades online. As Meckler recalled Benko saying, "If MoveOn and the Tea Party ever agree on anything, all politicians should watch out."
Note: What would happen if we focus less on what separates us and more on what brings us together?
Saudi Arabia’s King Allows Women to Join National Advisory Council
2013-01-11, New York Times
Women are not allowed to drive and cannot yet vote in Saudi Arabia, but on [January 11] they were given a voice in an advisory council that debates the kingdom’s legislation. The Saudi king, Abdullah, issued a decree that for the first time gave women seats on the Shura council, an assembly whose members are appointed to discuss laws and other issues and advise the king, but that has no legislative power. The decree ... gave women 30 of the 150 seats on the council with all the duties of their male counterparts. The decision was met with a mixture of optimism that the country was inching forward with reforms and skepticism from activists who are pushing for greater freedom for women in the conservative kingdom, one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies. In a decree in 2011, King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections scheduled for 2015, the biggest change in a decade for women in the puritanical kingdom. He also promised to name women to the Shura council at that time. But Saudi women still cannot make ordinary decisions, like marrying or traveling abroad, without written permission from a legal male guardian, “effectively treating her as a minor all her life,” [a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia, Manal al-Sharif,] wrote in a separate statement on the Web site of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. Women also continued to be arrested for driving. In one case in 2011, a woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for violating the ban. The king later revoked the sentence.
Note: Why is there so little national or international pressure on Saudi Arabia to promote gender equality, or democracy for that matter? Could it be that their huge wealth buys sways the political will of nations around the world? How sad.
Berkeley center funds gratitude research
2012-12-04, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
At UC Berkeley ... a group of researchers thinks about gratitude year-round. Formed in 2001, the Greater Good Science Center is dedicated to unpacking the neuroscience and sociology behind traits such as altruism, compassion and empathy. The goal is not only to understand how gratitude works, but also to build a healthier, kinder society, said Dacher Keltner, the center's faculty director and a UC Berkeley psychology professor. "The U.S. underperforms in terms of the well-being of children, the well-being of adults and the physical health of children and adults," he said. "We also have one of the most individualistic, self-focused societies in human history. And I put those two facts together." Thanks to a $3.1 million grant recently awarded by the center, 14 researchers nationwide are studying various aspects of gratitude, from its role in initiating friendships to its effects on children's socializing. The grant is part of a three-year project, Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, in collaboration with UC Davis. And last month, the center launched Thnx4.org, an online journal where visitors explain what they're thankful for and researchers analyze their responses to understand gratitude's influence.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
Folks Who Are Fighting Hunger at Home
2012-12-02, Parade Magazine
When Joshua Williams was 5 years old, his grandmother gave him $20 to spend on whatever he wanted. "My mom and I were in the car on the way to church, and I was thinking about all the fun things I could buy," he says. But then, while waiting at a red light, he looked out the window and saw a homeless man begging for money. Joshua leaned forward and said he wanted to give the man the $20 so he could get a meal. "I suggested that we go buy the man some food," says his mom, Claudia McLean. "But Joshua pointed out, 'What if he doesn't like what we get him?' From that moment on, he was pestering me about how we could help more people." Soon, the family began cooking meals every Saturday to distribute to the homeless. Still, says Joshua, 11, "we only had so much food, and I knew people were still hungry." In 2007, Joshua and his mom established Joshua's Heart Foundation, which has since given away 400,000 pounds of food through a variety of initiatives. But the foundation's backpack program, which discreetly issues food-filled packs to needy schoolchildren before weekends, is closest to the seventh grader's heart. "When kids don't have to worry whether they'll have dinner that night, they can concentrate better, do better in school," he says. The program benefits 50 kids in two Miami-area schools, but Joshua hopes to expand it via corporate donations (Walmart has given $20,000). The foundation now has 700 volunteers, plus a Junior Advisory Board over which he presides. "When I look at the faces of the people we're helping and see how happy they are, that's my favorite moment," he says.
Note: For an inspiring article on how Howard Buffett (son of billionaire Warren Buffett) is doing incredible work to end hunger worldwide, click here. For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here
NYPD Officer's Kindness Sparks Online Sensation
2012-11-29, ABC News/Associated Press
A tourist's snapshot of a New York City police officer giving new boots to a barefoot homeless man in Times Square has created an online sensation. Jennifer Foster, of Florence, Ariz., was visiting New York with her boyfriend on Nov. 14, when she came across the shoeless man asking for change in Times Square. As she was about to approach him, she said the officer — identified as Larry DePrimo — came up to the man with a pair of all-weather boots and thermal socks on the frigid night. She recorded his generosity on her cellphone. DePrimo ... remembered the night clearly, that even with two pairs of socks on, his feet were freezing. The homeless man "didn't even have a pair of socks on and I could only imagine how cold that pavement was," the 25-year-old said. The photo shows the officer kneeling beside the man with the boots at his feet. "I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let's put them on and take care of you," Foster quoted DePrimo as saying to the man. She wrote: "The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching." DePrimo said buying the boots "was something I had to do." He tried to persuade the man to get something to eat, but he declined and left. "When I brought out the shoes, it was just a smile from ear to ear," he said. "It was a great moment for both of us."
Note: You can see the inspiring photo at the link above. For lots of deeply inspiring stories from major media sources, click here.
DIY Africa: Empowering a new Sierra Leone
2012-11-14, CNN blog
When Kelvin Doe, a then-13-year-old from Sierra Leone, saw that off-the-shelf batteries were too expensive for the inventions he was working on, he made his own at home. Kelvin did not have the privilege to do his project in a school environment. Rather, he was compelled to act by necessity and for the joy of solving practical problems. Kelvin combined acid, soda, and metal, dumped those ingredients in a tin cup, waited for the mixture to dry and wrapped tape around the cup to make his first battery. He hasn’t purchased a battery since. Next up: A generator. Kelvin made one of those by hacking an old rusty voltage stabilizer he found in a dustbin. In addition to providing electricity to his home, where neighbors come to charge their mobile phone batteries, the generator powers Kelvin’s homemade FM radio station, fully equipped with a custom music mixer, recycled CD player and antenna that allow his whole neighborhood to tune in. Now 16, Kelvin has expanded operations: he employs his friends as reporters and station managers, tasking them to interview spectators at local soccer games and keep the calendar of requests for his DJ services at parties and events. The average age of his crew is 12. Kelvin ... was at the 2012 World Maker Faire held in New York at the end of September. He was invited to participate in a “Meet the Young Makers” panel with four other amazing young makers from America. He is the youngest person in history to be invited to the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” at MIT, and he presented his inventions to undergraduate students at Harvard College and MIT.
Note: For a popular video on this amazing, young genius from Africa, click here.
Cross in the Closet: Straight Christian Lives a Year as Gay Man
2012-10-11, ABC News
In his Nashville Christian church, Timothy Kurek was taught the lesson of God's wrath in the Biblical story of "Sodom and Gomorrah," and he believed that homosexuality was a sin. But about four years ago, when a lesbian he knew from karaoke night confided to him that her parents had disowned her when she came out, Kurek felt that he failed her. He wondered what it felt like to be gay and so alone. So even though Kurek identifies as straight, he embarked on what one religious writer called "spiritual espionage." He would live like a gay man for a year. Now 26 and no longer homophobic, Kurek writes about his journey -- one that included hanging out in gay bars and facing the disappointment of his family and rejection of his friends -- in his memoir, The Cross in the Closet. Only three people knew the truth, and he needed them to carry out his audacious project: his closest friend, an aunt and Shawn, a gay friend whom Kurek also met at karaoke night. Kind-hearted Shawn, whom Kurek described as "a big black burly teddy bear," became his "pretend boyfriend." But most of all, Shawn was the "first gay person that I let into my heart," said Kurek. "He was totally there for me through emotional turmoil ... I trusted him." Rev. Connie Waters, a protestant minister and LGBT ally from Memphis ... said she was "proud" of him. "The transformation in him was life-changing," she said. "It's what you hope for -- the goal of the Christian walk of faith. It's enough for me that he transformed, but if others learn from him, what an extra blessing that is."
Note: For more on this amazing story, click here.
The mind business
2012-08-24, Financial Times
For seven years now, a growing number of General Mills workers have been practising meditation, yoga and so-called “mindfulness” in the workplace. And what began as a side project by one executive has transformed the culture of a Fortune 200 multinational. “It’s about training our minds to be more focused, to see with clarity, to have spaciousness for creativity and to feel connected,” says Janice Marturano, General Mills’ deputy general counsel, who founded the programme. “That compassion to ourselves, to everyone around us – our colleagues, customers – that’s what the training of mindfulness is really about.” The General Mills initiative is at the vanguard of a movement that is quietly reshaping certain corners of the corporate world. With meditation, yoga and “mindfulness”, the foundational tenets of Buddhism, Hinduism and other pan-Asian philosophies have infiltrated the upper echelons of some of the biggest companies on earth. William George, a current Goldman Sachs board member and a former chief executive of the healthcare giant Medtronic, ... is one of the main advocates for bringing meditation into corporate life. “The main business case for meditation is that if you’re fully present on the job, you will be more effective as a leader, you will make better decisions and you will work better with other people,” he [says]. Though the combination of mysticism and capitalism may seem incongruous, this interplay has found fertile ground at some of the best-known companies in the US and Europe. It is happening at Target, Google and First Direct, among others. Today, in organisations large and small, eastern wisdom is changing western business.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Scott Neeson left Hollywood to save children rooting in Cambodia's garbage dumps
2012-08-10, Christian Science Monitor
Scott Neeson's final epiphany came one day in June 2004. The high-powered Hollywood executive stood, ankle deep in trash, at the sprawling landfill of Stung Meanchey, a poor shantytown in Cambodia's capital. Neeson, a former head of 20th Century Fox International, [now] cares for more than 1,000 Cambodian children and their families. Doing the right thing meant turning his back on a successful career in the movie business, with his $1 million salary. Instead, he would dedicate himself full time to a new mission: to save hundreds of the poorest children in one of the world's poorest countries. Much to everyone's surprise, within months the Australian native, who as president of 20th Century Fox International had overseen the global success of block-busters like "Titanic," "Braveheart," and "Die Another Day," quit Hollywood. He sold his mansion in Los Angeles and held a garage sale for "all the useless stuff I owned." He sold off his Porsche and yacht, too. His sole focus would now be his charity, the Cambodian Children's Fund. "The perks in Hollywood were good – limos, private jets, gorgeous girlfriends, going to the Academy Awards," says Neeson. "You've got to take the ego out of it," he says. "One person's self-indulgence versus the needs of hundreds of children, that's the moral equation." On the walls of his office, next to movie posters signed by Hollywood stars, are before-and-after pictures of Cambodian children. Each pair tells a Cinderella story: A little ragamuffin, standing or squatting in rubbish, transforms in a later shot into a beaming, healthy child in a crisp school uniform.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
Bhutan Bets Organic Agriculture Is The Road To Happiness
The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan drew international attention a few years back for saying gross national happiness should trump gross domestic product when measuring a nation's progress. But Bhutan, which has only 700,000 people — most of whom are farmers — has another shot at international fame if it can make good on a recent pledge to become the first country in the world to convert to a 100 percent organic agricultural system. [In June] at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley said his government is developing a National Organic Policy because the country's farmers are increasingly convinced that "by working in harmony with nature, they can help sustain the flow of nature's bounties." Andre Leu, an Australian adviser to the Bhutanese government and the president of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, says it's very doable. "I don't think it's going to be that difficult given that the majority of the agricultural land is already organic by default," Leu [said]. The Ministry of Agriculture says the organic program, launched in 2007, is not just about protecting the environment. It will also train farmers in new methods that will help them grow more food and move the country closer to self-sufficiency. The ministry is now training extension workers in organic methods and giving farmers who go organic priority for government assistance.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from reliable sources, click here.
Unleashing the power of real girls
2012-07-17, Washington Post
A 14-year-old Maine girl named Julia Bluhm [has] mobilized more than 80,000 supporters to lobby Seventeen [magazine] to commit to [a] modest goal: printing one photo spread per issue without an unaltered image. Bluhm’s efforts are part of Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge or SPARK, a girl-fueled activist movement that is demanding an end to the sexualization of women and girls in media. In the magazine’s August issue, Seventeen editor Ann Shoket responded to the campaign with a carefully worded statement that vowed that the magazine will “never change girls’ body or face shapes” and will publish only images of “real girls and models who are healthy.” [This] represents a meaningful victory for young women seeking reality-based images in a seemingly unwinnable war against big publishing, big advertising and big fashion. Images of blemish-free cover models displaying skeletal arms, enhanced chests and disappearing waistlines are a time-honored magazine tradition. The breakthrough success of Bluhm’s campaign represents ... the beginning of a new era of female empowerment. Bluhm started her movement on the online organizing site Change.org, which allows users to share electronic petitions with their social networks. When petitions like Bluhm’s rally significant support, the site offers the additional assistance of its expert organizing staff and broad activist network. Now, with the momentum of a successful campaign, Bluhm and her peers have turned their attention to transforming the policies of other magazines, including Teen Vogue and Cosmo Girl.
Note: For a treasure trove of inspirational reports from major media sources, click here.
India to give free generic drugs to hundreds of millions
2012-07-05, Fox News
India has put in place a $5.4 billion policy to provide free medicine to its people, a decision that could change the lives of hundreds of millions, but a ban on branded drugs stands to cut Big Pharma out of the windfall. From city hospitals to tiny rural clinics, India's public doctors will soon be able to prescribe free generic drugs to all comers, vastly expanding access to medicine in a country where public spending on health was just $4.50 per person last year. Under the plan, doctors will be limited to a generics-only drug list and face punishment for prescribing branded medicines, a major disadvantage for pharmaceutical giants in one of the world's fastest-growing drug markets. The initiative would overhaul a system where healthcare is often a luxury and private clinics account for four times as much spending as state hospitals, despite 40 percent of the people living below the poverty line, or $1.25 a day or less. Within five years, up to half of India's 1.2 billion people are likely to take advantage of the scheme, the government says. "The policy of the government is to promote greater and rational use of generic medicines that are of standard quality," said L.C. Goyal, additional secretary at India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and a key proponent of the policy. "They are much, much cheaper than the branded ones."
Plum Organics offers healthy food for kids
2012-07-02, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Some might call Neil Grimmer and his wife Tana Johnson picky eaters. For more than a decade, Grimmer, a triathlete, didn't eat meat or dairy while Johnson followed a macrobiotic diet, made up mostly of whole grains and vegetables. So when the couple became parents about nine years ago, they sought to feed their children healthy foods. Trouble was, they couldn't find snacks that were healthy, yet easy to pack and appealing to their kids. That's how the Nest Collective, now known as Plum Organics, was born. [The] startup makes baby food and toddler and kids' snacks such as pouches of pureed blueberry oats and quinoa for babies and squeezable oatmeal for older children. Plum Organics is also addressing increasing concerns about childhood obesity and parents looking for alternative, easy-to-pack snacks. In what turned out to be a momentous decision, the company moved away from the traditional plastic or glass jar and began offering baby food in the form of the squeezable pouch already popular with older children. The company took off from there. The benefit of the pouch is that it allows the food to be cooked more gently so that the flavors are richer, said Grimmer. The packaging also takes up less space in landfills and is easier to transport.
Suu Kyi says Nobel Peace Prize shattered her isolation, ensured Burmese would not be forgotten
2012-06-16, Washington Post/Associated Press
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi declared Saturday that the Nobel Peace Prize she won while under house arrest 21 years ago helped to shatter her sense of isolation and ensured that the world would demand democracy in her military-controlled homeland.
Suu Kyi received two standing ovations inside Oslo’s city hall as she gave her long-delayed acceptance speech to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The 66-year-old champion of political freedom praised the power of her 1991 Nobel honor both for saving her from the depths of personal despair and shining an enduring spotlight on injustices in distant Myanmar. “Often during my days of house arrest, it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world,” she said. “What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings, outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me. ... And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma." Suu Kyi, who since winning freedom in 2010 has led her National League for Democracy party into opposition in Myanmar’s parliament, offered cautious support for the first tentative steps toward democratic reform in her country. But she said progress depended on continued foreign pressure on the army-backed government.
Note: It is inspiring to see the positive effect that the Nobel Peace Prize may have on the state of the world. Unfortunately it does not always do so, as is evident with the prizes given to strategists of global war such as Henry Kissinger.
Champion Gymnast's Hidden Life: Dominique Moceanu on Secret Sister
2012-06-08, ABC News
Dominique Moceanu was the youngest member of the celebrated "Magnificent 7" gymnasts who won team gold at the 1996 Olympic Games. But behind the broad smile and shining medals she hid heartache and pain inflicted by some of the people she trusted the most. Moceanu would ultimately file for emancipation from her parents when she was 17, and got a restraining order against her father. After an injury quashed her bid for the 2000 Olympics, she went to college and was married in 2006 to a fellow gymnast named Mike Canales. She became pregnant with her first child soon after her marriage to Canales. But two weeks before giving birth, Moceanu learned some shocking news. She received a package containing a letter and photos of a young woman who looked surprisingly similar to her younger sister Christina. Reading the letter, she learned that the 20-year-old woman, named Jen Bricker, had been adopted and had recently learned that her birth name was Moceanu. "It was the biggest bombshell of my life," Dominique Moceanu remembered. "I had this sister that was born who was given up for adoption, and I never knew it." When Moceanu reached out to her new sister, Bricker [told her] "Oh by the way. I have no legs. But people forget that within minutes of meeting me." Five years later, they have met many times and have developed a friendship and bond that only sisters could have. They're athletic, do gymnastics -- Bricker even competed in the Junior Olympics -- and have discovered other striking similarities.
Note: For a touching video on this showing the amazing gymnastic abilities and inspiring can-do attitude of this woman with no legs, click here.
Do Plants Think?
2012-06-05, Scientific American
How aware are plants? This is the central question behind a fascinating new book, What a Plant Knows, by Daniel Chamovitz, director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University. Chamovitz unveils the surprising world of plants that see, feel, smell—and remember. Just because we don’t see plants moving doesn’t mean that there’s not a very rich and dynamic world going on inside the plant. People have to realize that plants are complex organisms that live rich, sensual lives. Plants had to develop incredibly sensitive and complex sensory mechanisms that would let them survive in ever changing environments. [A plant] can mount a defense when under siege, and warn its neighbors of trouble on the way. A plant can even be said to have a memory. If a maple tree is attacked by bugs, it releases a pheromone into the air that is picked up by the neighboring trees. This induces the receiving trees to start making chemicals that will help it fight off the impending bug attack. So on the face of it, this is definitely communication.
Note: This article only touches the surface of a rich world of research suggesting that plant life is much more complex and miraculous than we might imagine. For more, explore the landmark book The Secret Life of Plants or the work of researcher Cleve Backster.
US firms put social values before big profits
2012-05-20, BBC News
In the next few weeks, half a dozen US states are expected to pass legislation that will for the first time protect companies which value their social impact as much as the bottom line. Whether it's buying locally, protecting the environment or launching community projects, the new "benefit corporations" have a common mission - to do well by doing good. "It's becoming a national movement," says Penny Jones-Napier, owner of the Big Bad Woof pet store in Hyattsville, Maryland, the first business in the US to adopt the new benefit corporation designation. "What started with small businesses is moving into the mainstream." As a benefit corporation, Big Bad Woof is protected from legal action if it makes decisions that aren't in the financial interests of its shareholders. The company can support local suppliers for instance, even though that might not be the cheapest option and could reduce the profit margin. Seven states, including New York and California, have already adopted the new business class. These seven states combined produce a third of America's annual economic output, which makes their support for benefit corporations significant.
Note: Many are not aware that corporations legally are not allowed to do make socially responsible choices if those choices don't benefit shareholders. Isn't it time to put more pressure on companies to make socially responsible choices more important than big profits?
The honeymoon effect
2012-05-16, Ode Magazine
"I want people to understand that we are creating this world. That we are creating our own lives. That our realities and experiences are not accidents.” At the end of a long conversation about cell membranes, evolution and (sub)consciousness, I ask Bruce Lipton what his most important message is. Bruce Lipton is a stem-cell biologist who ... performed pioneering research at Stanford University before writing his bestselling book, The Biology of Belief, in 2005. His message does not come from quick pop interpretations of quantum mechanics but from work with cell cultures in a lab. These experiments showed that environments and circumstances, not genetic makeup, dictate how cells behave. Despite all the pharmaceutical claims of individually based genetic medicine, genetic determinism may have had its day. Lipton’s research shows a different perspective. Identical cells developed in different directions when the environment was changed. Different information led genes to evolve in different ways. So genes don’t control life; they respond to information. “It’s the environment, stupid.” Lipton’s discoveries are part of an emerging new biological paradigm that presents a radically different view of the evolution of life: epigenetics. The implications are profound. Change your environment, and you can change how you think. “We are not locked into our fate, because we have the freedom to change the way we respond to the world,” he explains.
Highway deaths per mile fall to record low
2012-05-07, Boston Globe/Associated Press
Highway deaths declined again last year, reaching their lowest rate when compared to miles driven since such record-keeping began in 1921. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's early estimate of 2011 traffic fatalities ... said there were 32,310 deaths in motor vehicle crashes last year, a drop of 1.7 percent from the previous year. That's the lowest number of deaths in more than 60 years. Safety experts have attributed the historic decline to a variety of factors, including less driving due to a weak economy, more people wearing seat belts, better safety equipment in cars and efforts to curb drunken driving. The number of miles driven on America's roadways declined last year by 35.7 billion miles, or 1.2 percent, the safety administration said. There were 1.09 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, down slightly from 1.11 deaths in 2010. That's the lowest rate on record, NHTSA says. Overall, traffic fatalities have plummeted 26 percent since 2005. There were significant regional differences in the fatality reductions last year, with the sharpest drop -- 7.2 percent -- in the six New England states.