Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
Today a tidal wave of aging boomers want income, but traditional sources are lacking. But there’s [a] source of high yield that relatively few consider. Peer-to-peer lending, or making personal loans via the Internet using websites like LendingClub.com and Prosper.com. After six years of experience and some bumps, including a financial crisis and ensuing recession, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending has finally earned its place on an income investor’s menu. The basic premise of these bank disintermediaries is that they harness the networking power of the Web to match people who have excess cash with people in need of it or those who simply want to refinance credit card debt. The key to its success has been how the sites have managed the inherent riskiness of unsecured personal loans. Believe it or not, it is now possible to earn yields of 6% or more, making relatively safe loans to complete strangers. San Francisco’s Lending Club is the largest P2P lender, followed by its crosstown rival Prosper. Lending Club and Prosper have loaned a total of more than $1 billion since inception, in 112,000 loans. Lending Club currently issues about $45 million in loans a month versus Prosper’s $13 million per month. Of course defaults happen. Lending Club’s top-rated three-year loans expect a default rate of around 1.4%, and the riskiest loans, offering rates as high as 25%, have a 9.8% default rate.
Note: A 1.4 default rate is much lower than that of the average bank. For those who want to borrow or loan money free of the banks with excellent rates, check out www.lendingclub.com and www.prosper.com.
Johanna Quaas performed an impressive parallel bar and floor demonstration after finals concluded at Germany's Cottbus Challenger Cup. Displaying balance, strength and flexibility that would be the envy of someone a quarter her age, Quaas's floor routine included a handstand forward roll, cartwheel, backward roll and headstand while on the bars she performed a full planche, holding her body taught and parallel to the ground. A multiple time senior champion of artistic gymnastics in Germany, Quaas, from Halle in Saxony only took up gymnastics when she was 30, putting paid to the belief that the sport is the preserve of the young.
Note: Don't miss the amazing video of this highly inspiring woman at the link above.
As diplomats and journalists dissect every word spoken by top Israeli, Iranian and American officials for signs of a potential Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear program, an online campaign to prevent just that has gained steam in Israel. The “Israel Loves Iran” campaign [was launched last week by] Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry and his wife, Michal Tamir. “For there to be a war between us, we must first be afraid of one another, we must hate,” Edry says. “I’m not afraid of you. I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you. No Iranian ever did me … harm.” The site and its accompanying Facebook page are filled with photos of Israelis from all walks of life and the “Iranians, We Love You” slogan, with the subheader: “We will never bomb you.” On Friday evening, the page had almost 28,000 “likes,” and the campaign has raised more than $16,000 to print posters and “keep the movement grow[ing].” Organizers say responses from Iranians around the world have poured in. ”Unfortunately, the stupid politicians in both countries are trying to separate these two rich cultures!” wrote one responder. One of the more popular posts ricocheting around Facebook is of a man and woman kissing, with him holding up his Israeli passport as she flaunts her Iranian passport. ”Persian girls are sexy and adorable,” the boyfriend wrote. “Our cultures and backgrounds have never got in the way. We actually share the same ideals.” According to a recent poll, [only] 19 percent of Israelis support a unilateral strike on Iran. Participant Talia Gorodess [commented], “the more people join this campaign, the more, I hope, my government will think twice before doing anything foolish.”
Note: To see the inspiring website of this campaign, click here. For the facebook page, click here. For a highly inspiring two-minute video of the campaign, click here. For the beautiful response from Iranians, click here. This is how we transform our world! To understand how the politicians and military leaders manage to manipulate us into war after war, read what a highly decorated general had to say at this link.
Grace Brown was sick of hearing about sexual assault. Having spoken with so many survivors over the years, she grew increasingly frustrated by her inability to help. Then, one night last October, another friend confessed that she too had been abused and it turned out to be the final straw. Brown went to bed determined to act and in the morning Project Unbreakable was born. The project uses photography to help survivors of sexual assault take back the power of the words used against them by their attacker/s and aid in the healing process. Participants write these phrases on a piece of cardboard and Brown, a 19-year-old freshman at The School of Visual Arts in New York City, takes their picture and uploads it on the project's website. Just as powerful are the images she creates. Amassing a tremendous amount of followers from around the world in just five short months, women and men as far as Australia, Europe and the Middle East have submitted their own photos to the site. What's especially striking is the number of people willing to show their faces, essentially outing themselves as survivors of sexual assault. "In the beginning most people didn't show their faces. It wasn't until maybe a month in. People are getting braver and it's been really amazing to watch it grow." Taking part in the project doesn't resolve the problem but it enables the healing to begin. For some, knowing they're not alone or confiding in someone can help kick-start the process and exposing the words used against you can release the hold that they have.
Note: To see powerful photos from Project Unbreakable, click here and here. For the moving website of Project Unbreakable, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
A World Bank report shows a broad-based reduction in extreme poverty - and indicates that the global recession, contrary to economists' expectations, did not increase poverty in the developing world. The report shows that for the first time the proportion of people living in extreme poverty - on less than $1.25 a day - fell in every developing region between 2005 and 2008. And the biggest recession since the Great Depression seems not to have thrown that trend off course, preliminary data from 2010 indicate. The progress is so dramatic that the world has met the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half five years before its 2015 deadline. That is contrary to the World Bank's own expectations. In a year-end 2008 report, the Washington-based development institution warned: "Unemployment is on the rise in industrial countries and poverty is set to increase across low- and middle income countries, bringing with it a substantial deterioration in conditions for the world's most vulnerable." But that did not happen. Surveys for 2010 show that the proportion of people in the developing world living in extreme poverty fell. That is because of strong growth in countries like Brazil, India and especially China, growth that helped buoy economies in Africa and South America.
Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger. Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association. “You could safely say that Iceland holds the world record in household debt relief,” said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets economist at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “Iceland followed the textbook example of what is required in a crisis. Any economist would agree with that.” Most polls now show Icelanders don’t want to join the European Union, where the debt crisis is in its third year. The island’s households were helped by an agreement between the government and the banks, which are still partly controlled by the state, to forgive debt exceeding 110 percent of home values. On top of that, a Supreme Court ruling in June 2010 found loans indexed to foreign currencies were illegal, meaning households no longer need to cover krona losses.
Note: The amazing story of the Icelandic people demanding bank reform is one of the most underreported stories in recent years. Why isn't this all over the news? To see what top journalists say about news censorship, click here. For blatant manipulations of the big banks reported in the major media, click here.
Taylor Wilson always dreamed of creating a star. Now he [has] become one. For the past three years, Taylor has dominated the international science fair, walking away with nine awards ... and more than $100,000 in prizes. At 14, [he was] the youngest individual on Earth to achieve nuclear fusion. [He attends] Davidson Academy ... a subsidized public school for the nation’s smartest and most motivated students. When he began at Davidson, he found the two advocates he needed ... to build a fusion reactor. Atomic physicist Ronald Phaneuf ... introduced him to technician Bill Brinsmead. With Brinsmead and Phaneuf’s help, Taylor stretched himself, applying knowledge from more than 20 technical fields. Shortly after his 14th birthday, Taylor and Brinsmead loaded deuterium fuel into the machine [Taylor had created], brought up the power, and confirmed the presence of neutrons. With that, Taylor became the 32nd individual on the planet to achieve a nuclear-fusion reaction. When I meet Taylor Wilson, he is 16 and busy. Taylor’s reactor ... dominates the far corner of Phaneuf’s lab. Peering through the small window into the reaction chamber, I can see the golf-ball-size grid of tungsten fingers that will cradle the plasma. Taylor nudges the power up to 50,000 volts, bringing the temperature of the plasma inside the core to an incomprehensible 580 million degrees. “There it is,” Taylor says, his eyes locked on the machine. “The birth of a star.”
Note: The full article about this amazing genius will boggle your mind. Could Taylor be one of the many indigo children talked about in the New York Times article available at this link?
The United Nations has named 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, and indeed, co-ops seem poised to become a dominant business model around the world. Today, nearly one billion people worldwide are cooperative member-owners. In Ethiopia, cooperation helps women and men rise above poverty. In Germany, half of renewable energy is owned by citizens. In America, 93 million credit union member-owners control $920 billion in assets. And in Basque Country, a 50-year-old worker co-op has grown to become a multinational, cooperative corporation. Founded in 1956 ... Mondragón is the world’s largest cooperative, and Spain’s seventh largest business. Mondragón has operations in 19 countries and employs 83,000 worker-owners. Yet for every international job the company creates, it employs two people in Spain. The UN ... in 2012 will dedicate its efforts to raising awareness of co-ops, helping them grow and influencing governments to support them legislatively. Thirty percent of Americans belong to cooperatively-owned credit unions, the largest of which serves 3.4 million Department of Defense employees and has $45 billion in assets. “Cooperatives ... promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people. [They] are becoming a major factor of economic and social development and contribute to the eradication of poverty.” - UN Resolution 64/136, 2010. The cooperative model is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing business model by 2025. UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon [says] “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.”
Note: How sad that we've heard hardly a peep out of the major media about this inspiring trend towards cooperatives. For an abundance of other inspiring major media articles, click here.
Born to Chinese immigrants, 17-year-old Angela Zhang of Cupertino, California is a typical American teenager. She's really into shoes and is just learning how to drive. But there is one thing that separates her from every other student at Monta Vista High School, something she first shared with her chemistry teacher, Kavita Gupta. It's a research paper Angela wrote in her spare time -- and it is advanced, to say the least. "Cure for cancer -- a high school student," said Gupta. "It's just so mind-boggling. I just cannot even begin to comprehend how she even thought about it or did this." When she was a freshman, she started reading doctorate level papers on bio-engineering. By sophomore year she'd talked her way into the lab at Stanford, and by junior year was doing her own research. Angela's idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles -- nanoparticles that would then attach to cancer cells and show up on an MRI, so doctors could see exactly where the tumors are. Then she thought [of aiming] an infrared light at the tumors to melt the polymer and release the medicine, thus killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells completely unharmed. It'll take years to know if it works in humans -- but in mice -- the tumors almost completely disappeared. Angela recently entered her project in the national Siemens science contest. It was no contest. She got a check for $100,000.
Note: If this technique has already melted tumors in mice, why is CBS saying it will take years to know if it works in humans? Why wouldn't millions be poured in to fast track research on this exciting technology?
For every Two Degrees energy bar purchased, the company provides a peanut-paste packet to a starving child in Malawi through its partnership with Valid Nutrition. The idea of feeding starving children through business came from a pairing of two entrepreneurs at opposite ends of their career. Will Hauser, a 2008 graduate of Harvard University, did a yearlong stint at Goldman Sachs before settling on his true passion - entrepreneurship. His business partner, Lauren Walters, is a seasoned entrepreneur. But both are fairly new to tackling some of the world's most serious problems like famine and hunger. A decade ago, Walters became involved with Boston nonprofit group Partners in Health, and six years ago he had his first encounter with malnourished children. During a trip with the organization in Rwanda, he was struck by the severity of the situation and the lack of ready-to-use therapeutic foods being made locally. The therapeutic foods are packets of a nutrition paste fortified with vitamins and minerals designed to reverse malnutrition. Four years later, Walters met Steve Collins, a doctor who had worked in famine relief for two decades, at the Oxford Skoll Forum. There, Walters' business acumen combined with Collins' humanitarian ambitions. Collins and his business partner, Paul Murphy, had started Valid Nutrition, which produces the packets of nutrition paste in Africa, relying on local farmers, labor and suppliers.
Note: For many other highly inspiring articles reported in the major media, click here.
It was a slow-moving Occupy Wall Street protest, but it was an effective one. A dozen senior citizens calling themselves “the wild old women” succeeded in closing a Bank of America branch in Bernal Heights Thursday. The women, aged 69 to 82, who live at the senior home up Mission street from the Bernal Heights Bank of America branch, decided to hold their own protest by doing what they called a “run on the bank.” Tita Caldwell, 80, who led the charge of women with walkers and wheelchairs, said that they’re demanding the bank lower fees, pay higher taxes, and stop foreclosing on, and evicting, homeowners. ”We’re upset about what the banks are doing, particularly in our neighborhood and neighboring areas, in evicting people and foreclosing on their homes,” said Caldwell. “We’re upset because the banks are raising their rates because it really affects seniors who are on a fixed income.” As they arrived, Bank of America closed and locked its doors, to the surprise and delight of the elderly protestors, who said that they had no intention of storming the bank. The women waved signs, but didn’t march or chant, with one woman on supplemental oxygen adding that the group was too old for that.
This is your moment of zen today. Two adventurers set out in a canoe and happened upon a [flock of] starlings (collectively known as a murmuration) doing their amazing collective dance in the sky. Watch the video. Just take it in. The starlings' coordinated movements do not seem possible, but then, there they are, doing it. Scientists have been similarly fascinated by starling movement. Those synchronized dips and waves seem to hold secrets about perception and group dynamics. Last year, Italian theoretical physicist Giorgio Parisi took on the challenge of explaining the [phenomenon]. What he found ... is that the math equations that best describe starling movement are borrowed "from the literature of 'criticality,' of crystal formation and avalanches -- systems poised on the brink, capable of near-instantaneous transformation." They call it "scale-free correlation," and it means that no matter how big the flock, "If any one bird turned and changed speed, so would all the others." It's a beautiful phenomenon to behold. And neither biologists nor anyone else can yet explain how starlings seem to process information and act on it so quickly. It's precisely the lack of lag between the birds' movements that make the flocks so astonishing.
“Democracy Now!,” the 15-year-old public radio and television program ... distinguishes itself by documenting social movements, struggles for justice and the effects of American foreign policy, along with the rest of the day’s developments. Operated as a nonprofit organization and distributed on a patchwork of stations, channels and Web sites, “Democracy Now!” is proudly independent, in that way appealing to hundreds of thousands of people who are skeptical of the news organizations that are owned by major media companies. Though it has long had a loyal audience, “Democracy Now!” has gained more attention recently for methodical coverage of two news events — the execution of the Georgia inmate Troy Davis and the occupation of Wall Street and other symbolic sites across the country. [Host Amy] Goodman broadcast live from Georgia for six hours on Sept. 21, the evening of the execution, and “Democracy Now!” reporters were fanned out in Manhattan from the first day of the protests against corporate greed. The media, Ms. Goodman said in an interview last week, can be “the greatest force for peace on earth” for “it is how we come to understand each other.” But she asserted that the views of a majority of Americans had been “silenced by the corporate media.” “Which is why we have to take it back,” she said.
Note: Up until now, there has been a virtual ban on mentioning the important work of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now. Could this be a signal of some real change?
Dr. Jim Withers has been caring exclusively for [Pittsburgh, PA's] homeless since 1992. Night after night, he and his team make their rounds at homeless camps. They treat everything, head to toe -- from mental illness to frostbitten feet. What little money Withers makes comes mostly from grants and teaching at a medical school. But he doesn't think about money. In fact, he doesn't think at all like a typical doctor. "The essence of healthcare is going to where people are. Either physically or even more importantly spiritually, emotionally," he said. "When they're shown that they matter," Withers said, ... "then hope grows. And amazing things happen. That's why we've been able to house well over 700 people. You know, if I could I'd write a prescription for a house for all the street people because it is immensely important for health." Jim Ellis, 49, was on the streets for eight years until he met Withers, who first treated his back pain and then helped cure his homelessness. Through a non-profit Withers started called Operation Safety Net, he and his staff have been remarkably successful at finding apartments for people like Jim. Over the years, Operation Safety Net has been able to help so many that today homelessness in Pittsburgh is literally half the problem it used to be - half as many people on the streets. About a dozen cites in America are now trying to copy the program, in firm belief that this doctor definitely knows best.
The number of violent crimes fell by a surprising 12 percent in the United States last year, a far bigger drop than the nation has been averaging since 2001, the Justice Department said. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported there were 3.8 million violent crimes last year, down from 4.3 million in 2009. Experts aren't sure why. The expectation had been that crime would increase in a weak economy with high unemployment like that seen in 2010. The big drop dwarfs the 3 percent yearly decline in violent crimes the nation averaged from 2001 through 2009. More than 80 percent of the decline in violent crime was attributed to a plunge in simple assaults, by 15 percent. Those assaults accounted for nearly two-thirds of all violent crimes in 2010. The combined total of property crimes and violent crimes was down 6.6 percent last year, from 20 million to 18.7 million. From 1993 through 2010, the rate of violent crime has declined by a whopping 70 percent: from 49.9 violent crimes per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to only 14.9 per 1,000 in 2010.
Note: A 70 percent drop in violent crime in the last 20 years - that's amazing! Why isn't this inspiring news making top headlines? For excellent FBI graphs and more showing this dramatic decrease in crime, click here.
Santosh Devi is [a] 19-year-old, semi-literate woman from the backwaters of Rajasthan [who] has broken through India's rigid caste system to become the country's first Dalit solar engineer. While differences of caste have begun to blur in the cities, in rural India Dalits – also known as "untouchables" – are still impoverished and widely discriminated against. Santosh trained to be a solar engineer at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, 100km from Jaipur. The college was set up in 1972 by Sanjit "Bunker" Roy to teach rural people skills with which they could transform their villages, regardless of gender, caste, ethnicity, age or schooling. The college claims to have trained 15,000 women in skills including solar engineering, healthcare and water testing. Roy, 65, says his approach – low cost, decentralised and community driven – works by "capitalising on the resources already present in the villages". The college, spread over eight acres, runs entirely on solar energy, maintained by the Barefoot solar engineers. Since the solar course was launched in 2005, more than 300 Barefoot engineers have brought power to more than 13,000 homes across India. A further 6,000 households, in more than 120 villages in 24 countries from Afghanistan to Uganda, have been powered on the same model. Only villages that are inaccessible, remote and non-electrified are considered for solar power. A drop in the ocean, perhaps – 44% of rural households in India have no electricity – but these women are making an important contribution to the nation's power needs.
Note: For a very inspiring TED talk filled with great stories by the founder of this college, click here.
The Iceman's students look wary as they watch him dump bag after bag of ice into the tub of water where they will soon be taking a dip. Under the direction of "Iceman" Wim Hof, the group of athletes is going to stay in the water for minutes practising his meditation techniques. Hof, 52, earned his nickname from feats such as remaining in a tank of ice in Hong Kong for almost 2 hours [and] swimming half the length of a football field under a sheet of ice in the Arctic. Hof tells his students meditation in the cold strengthens mind and body. For most people, hypothermia begins shortly after exposure to freezing temperatures without adequate clothing, and it can quickly lead to death. Hof says he can endure cold so well because he has learned to activate parts of his mind beyond the reach of most people's conscious control, and crank up what he calls his "inner thermostat." "I never had a teacher, and I never had lessons, other than hard Nature itself," he says in an interview at his apartment in Amsterdam. "If you do it wrong, it hurts and you take some knocks, and if you do it right, then you really learn." Hof may be able to exercise some influence over other body functions considered involuntary, [and] tells his students at the Rotterdam workshop that viewing mental and physical training as separate may hinder their performance. Hof describes the three main elements in his method as controlled breathing, paying close mental attention to signals coming from the body, and crucially, keeping an open mind.
The mob was already waiting for James Zwerg by the time the Greyhound bus eased into the station in Montgomery, Alabama. Looking out the window, Zwerg could see men gripping baseball bats, chains and clubs. They had sealed off the streets leading to the bus station and chased away news photographers. They didn't want anyone to witness what they were about to do. Zwerg accepted his worst fear: He was going to die today. Only the night before, Zwerg had prayed for the strength to not strike back in anger. He was among the 18 white and black college students from Nashville who had decided to take the bus trip through the segregated South in 1961. They called themselves Freedom Riders. Their goal was to desegregate public transportation. Zwerg had not planned to go, but the night before, some students had asked him to join them. To summon his courage, Zwerg stayed up late, reading Psalm 27, the scripture that the students had picked to read during a group prayer before their trip. "The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I fear?" the Psalm began. But there was another passage at the end that touched Zwerg in a place the other students didn't know about: "Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me." Zwerg's parents had forsaken him for joining the civil rights movement.
Note: For another amazingly inspiring story of a man in the civil rights movement who faced death by hatred with compassion, click here. And for a powerfully inspiring New York Times article on the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders, click here. We have clearly come a long way in building more harmony between races.
Marc Gold spends most of his time on the road. One month he may be in India or Afghanistan; the next he's in Cambodia or Vietnam, both of which he's visited numerous times. But he doesn't travel to see the sights. The retired community-college professor from San Francisco pursues his own brand of tourism: philanthropic travel. "I go where the poor people are," Mr. Gold says. Everywhere he goes, Gold performs acts of kindness, both random and preplanned. He rarely spends more than a few hundred dollars. "For people who live on a dollar or less a day, $50 can make a big difference," says Gold, who has been dubbed "the shoestring philanthropist." [Traveling to India in 1989] led to an epiphany. "I'd thought you had to be rich to do such things," he recalls. "I realized I had the power to help change people's lives." Back home, he asked a hundred friends for small donations and was soon back in India with $2,200. He then set up a nonprofit charity and called it 100 Friends. Two decades later, 100 Friends has some 4,000 members worldwide, and last year Gold raised $200,000. He continues fundraising via his portable office: a laptop, a digital camera, and a cellphone. "This is 80 percent of what I own," Gold says during a stopover in Bangkok, pointing at two duffel bags stuffed with his clothes, dog-eared paperbacks, and his large collection of wacky rubber masks. The latter he uses for clowning around with children from Tibet to Thailand. "I don't need much, and I'm free."
Before the Second World War, the Ministry of War confidently predicted what would happen when London was bombed from the air by Nazi planes. There would be, they warned, "a mass outbreak of hysterical neurosis among the civilian population". The same predictions are made about every disaster – that once the lid of a tightly policed civilization is knocked off for a second, humans will become beasts. But the opposite is the case. It sounds grotesque to say we should see reasons for hope as we watch in real time while the earth is shaken six inches on its axis, tsunamis roar, and nuclear power stations teeter on meltdown. But it is true. From this disaster, we can learn something fundamental about our species. The evidence gathered over centuries of disasters, natural and man-made, is overwhelming. The vast majority of people, when a disaster hits, behave in the aftermath as altruists. They organise spontaneously to save their fellow human beings, to share what they have, and to show kindness. They reveal themselves to be better people than they ever expected. When the social scientist Enrico Quarantelli tried to write a thesis on how people descend into chaos and panic after disasters, he concluded: "My God! I can't find any instances of it." On the contrary, he wrote, in disasters "the social order does not break down... Co-operative rather than selfish behaviour predominates".
Note: For a beautiful example of how people come together to help and support each other in the face of a major crisis, read the inspiring "Letter from Sendai" which has gone viral on the Internet at this link.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.