Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
A group of top American intellectuals have volunteered to "take" the 1,000 lash sentence imposed by the Saudi government on a prominent liberal blogger. Raif Badawi ... received the sentence for insulting his country's hardline Islamic clerics. The move, which follows widespread international outrage at the sentence, is being led by Robert P. George, a leading professor at Princeton University. Professor George said: "Together with six colleagues on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, I sent a letter to the Saudi Ambassador to the US calling on the Saudi government to stop the horrific torture of Raif Badawi — an advocate of religious freedom and freedom of expression in the Saudi Kingdom. If the Saudi government refuses, we each asked to take 100 of Mr. Badawi's lashes so that we could suffer with him. The seven of us include Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, Christians, Jews, and a Muslim." Mr Badawi, 31, who set up a liberal website to discuss Saudi politics in which he criticised the country’s hardline religious establishment, has been sentenced to ten years in prison as well as 1,000 lashes. So harsh is the flogging that it has to be administered in individual sessions of 50 lashes a time in order to stop the recipient dying or suffering serious injury during the process. The first bout of 50 lashes was dished out to Mr Badawi on January 9, before hundreds of spectators in a public square in front of a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The date for a second set of lashes has so far been postponed as doctors have said that Mr Badawi's injuries from the first flogging have not yet healed.
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David Korten began his professional life as a professor at the Harvard Business School on a mission to lift struggling people in Third World nations out of poverty by sharing the secrets of U.S. business success. Yet, after a couple of decades in which he applied his organizational development strategies in places as far-flung as Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and the Philippines, Korten underwent a change of heart. In 1995, he wrote the bestseller When Corporations Rule the World, followed by a series of books that helped birth the movement known as the New Economy, a call to replace transnational corporate domination with local economies, control, ownership, and self-reliance. This month, Korten, who is also the co-founder and board chair of YES!, publishes a new book challenging readers to rethink their relationship with Earth—indeed, with all creation, from the smallest quantum particle to the whole of the universe. The world needs “a new story,” he says. Buying into the “Sacred Money and Markets” story that money is wealth and the key to happiness locks us into indentured servitude to corporate rule. It’s the traditional development model, or transnational capitalism, that damages Earth as a living community, including not just humans but all life forms. Control of money is the ultimate mechanism of social control in a society in which most every person depends on money for the basic means of living. The only legitimate purpose of the economy is to serve life, is to serve us as living beings making our living in co-productive partnership with living Earth.
Note: David Korten's new book is titled: Change the Story, Change the Future. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Sometimes people laugh when Zac Bookman tells them what his company, OpenGov does. Not out of mockery. Out of disbelief that a website — or, really, anything — can make it easier to track how the government spends trillions of dollars of their tax money. Users [of OpenGov] can easily share what they find with friends — or push back on government officials to question their spending. Still, Bookman hears doubters. Cynicism runs deep, especially when it involves government becoming more transparent. Bookman ... understands their skepticism. People have lost faith in government officials to improve their lives. “People don’t think of (government) as an industry, but it is,” said Bookman, whom Ronnie Lott nominated for the first Chronicle and St. Mary’s College Visionary of the Year award. “Our software allows you to see where the money goes.” $7 trillion in public dollars ... flows through federal, state and local government entities, from big cities to mosquito abatement districts. Much of it is hidden in plain sight, virtually inaccessible to the public because of user-unfriendly tech interfaces. But now more than 250 government organizations are using [OpenGov], including the city of Los Angeles. There is a bipartisan appeal to this sort of transparency. Conservatives like it because it helps to highlight where to cut government fat, while liberals buy into it because this sort of tool can quantify the value of government services. OpenGov is attempting to ... make this very complex data usable by people who are not financial experts.
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For decades, American high school teacher Bruce Farrer has been asking his students to write letters to their future selves. 20 years later, he tracks down the students and posts their letters to them. Speaking in a video for US airline West Jet, Farrer says that the letters have become more valuable because we now communicate far less by letters than we did 20 years ago. He created the assignment because he wanted his students to do an exercise "that was different, that would be interesting and one that they would value". An old pupil of Farrer says when he was asked to write a 10 page letter to his future self, he thought it was "a lesson just to pass the time, to keep us busy for a few hours while he did other things". He now understands what a dedicated teacher Farrer was. Of course, tracking down your students 20 years after teaching them is a challenging task. Farrer describes it as "a lot of detective work" but he is excited to find out the different paths his ex-pupils have taken. The video shows the reactions of some of Farrer's old students upon opening their letters. One describes it as an "emotional roller-coaster" as she reads about the passing of her grandmother and aunt, experienced through the eyes of her younger self. Despite the profound effect that receiving the letters has on its recipients, Farrer remains modest about his diligence and commitment. "I'm just a regular teacher who happened to assign a rather different assignment", he says.
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A campaign launching Tuesday aims to get growing businesses to do what San Francisco’s Salesforce.com did in its infancy 15 years ago: Promise to donate 1 percent of its equity, 1 percent of its employees’ time and 1 percent of the firm’s products to charity. Called the Pledge 1% Program — and led by Salesforce and others — it aims to get 500 other corporations to do the same over the next year. Those who have bought into the idea have seen other benefits. “It’s good for business, too,” said Bradley Heinz, program manager at Optimizely.org. The San Francisco company — which includes several top execs who used to work at Salesforce — is participating in the program. If a younger company can make philanthropy part of its DNA when it is smaller, it will become a way of life as it grows. It is somewhat easier to convince a young firm to volunteer time and offer its product at a deeply discounted rate. San Francisco’s income inequality divide — the fastest-growing in the country — is inspiring other growing companies to look at what they can do to help. Employees at Practice Fusion, a cloud medical records company in San Francisco, decided that they would take $50,000 that would have been used for their holiday gift and give it to the poor. “People were not that into the gifts and schwag,” said Practice Fusion CEO Ryan Howard. “They wanted to give back.”
In the wake of a grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, Americans have grown accustomed to images of police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. One such image is now going viral, but not for the reason one might think. The photo ... shows 12-year-old Devonte Hart and Portland Police Sgt. Bret Barnum embraced in a hug outside of a Ferguson rally on Tuesday. Hart’s mother ... explained that she and Hart went to downtown Portland “with the intention of spreading love and kindness.” Hart brandished a “Free Hugs” sign as he stood alone in front of a police barricade. His mother says he started to get emotional during the rally: “He wonders if someday when he no longer wears a ‘Free Hugs’ sign around his neck, when he’s a full-grown black male, if his life will be in danger for simply being.” That’s when Sgt. Barnum noticed Hart crying and called the boy over to him. Barnum ... asked why he was crying. Hart’s mother says his response was “about his concerns regarding the level of police brutality towards young black kids was met with an unexpected: “Yes. I know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Next, Sgt Barnum asked if he could have one of the “Free Hugs” advertised on his sign. Barnum [said] “it’s a blessing for me that I didn’t miss an opportunity to impact this child.” The image has now been shared widely across social media. Hart’s mother called the tearful hug “one of the most emotionally charged experiences I’ve had as a mother.”
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Denmark, a tiny country on the northern fringe of Europe, is pursuing the world’s most ambitious policy against climate change. It aims to end the burning of fossil fuels in any form by 2050 — not just in electricity production, as some other countries hope to do, but in transportation as well. Lest anyone consider such a sweeping transition to be impossible in principle, the Danes beg to differ. They essentially invented the modern wind-power industry, and have pursued it more avidly than any country. They are above 40 percent renewable power on their electric grid, aiming toward 50 percent by 2020. The political consensus here to keep pushing is all but unanimous. The trouble, if it can be called that, is that renewable power sources like wind and solar cost nothing to run, once installed. That is potentially a huge benefit in the long run. But [it] can render conventional power plants, operating on gas or coal or uranium, uneconomical to run. Yet those plants are needed to supply backup power for times when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. So the trick now is to get the market redesign right. If Denmark can figure out a proper design for the electric market, it has another big task to meet its 2050 goal: squeezing the fossil fuels out of transportation.
Note: Denmark is consistently setting world records for wind power, which is now cheaper than fossil fuels there.
Neha Gupta became the first ever American today to be awarded the Children’s International Peace Prize in The Hague, Netherlands. The prize is awarded annually to a child, anywhere in the world, for his or her dedication to children’s rights. Gupta began her astounding work when she was just a child herself, visiting her parents' native India nine years ago. Carrying out a family tradition of celebrating birthdays by delivering gifts to orphans, she was struck by the condition these children were living in. "The place was just really in shambles," Gupta told Saulny. "I didn't want to accept these things. These are things I wanted to fix." She moved to fix them quickly, any way that she could. Back home in Pennsylvania, she made a bold move, deciding to sell all of her toys to raise money for the orphans she had met in India. "We just put it out on our driveway and people came, bought things and it turned out to be such a successful event,” Gupta said. “From that one event we raised $700 and I’ve wanted to keep going.” Gupta kept going, selling crafts door to door and collecting corporate donations in her dad’s SUV. Nine years later, now an 18-year-old college student, she runs Empower Orphans, a global charity that has raised $1.3 million. The organization reaches orphans in the U.S. and abroad, helping to build classrooms, buy books, equip computer labs, pay for health exams, supply water and buy sewing machines to empower other young women to start their own businesses. Despite all of her extraordinary successes, Gupta describes herself as just an ordinary teenager who found her calling early in life. That bit of serendipity has touched the lives of more than 25,000 children so far.
Note: Don't miss an inspiring video on this beautiful woman and the way she is changing the world.
These 16 individuals under 20 have all invented solutions that have somehow eluded those who can legally drink. Many of these kids were inspired by simple necessity. Others were driven by compassion. Some of them were just doing science fair projects. Eesha Khare: This 18-year-old from Saratoga, California, was still in high school when she invented a battery that can be charged in 20 seconds. It also lasts 10 times as long as a standard battery. Ryan Patterson: The inability to communicate with most hearing people makes life difficult for deaf persons. Knowing this, Colorado-born Ryan invented a glove that translates sign language. It’s simply a golf glove that uses sensors, a radio frequency transmitter, and a microcontroller to interpret hand movements. He was 17. Why didn’t anyone else think of this? Raquel Redshirt: Growing up in New Mexico’s Navajo Nation, Raquel experienced poverty so extreme that her family and neighbors often couldn’t afford electricity, making it near impossible to cook anything. So at 16, she discovered a way to make solar-powered ovens using the simple materials collected around the area. Working with old tires, aluminum foil, shredded paper, and dirt, she made these usually expensive ovens for the people in her community. Have you built any ovens for your neighbors lately?
Note: Why aren't some of these inventions being hailed and promoted widely in the media? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A cure for diabetes could be imminent after scientists discovered how to make huge quantities of insulin-producing cells, in a breakthrough hailed as significant as antibiotics. Harvard University has, for the first time, managed to manufacture the millions of beta cells required for transplantation. It could mean the end of daily insulin injections for the 400,000 people in Britain living with Type 1 diabetes. And it marks the culmination of 23-years of research for Harvard professor Doug Melton who has been trying to find a cure for the disease since his son Sam was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a baby. “We are now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line,” said Prof Melton. The stem cell-derived beta cells are presently undergoing trials in animal models, including non-human primates, where they are still producing insulin after several months, Prof Melton said. The team at Harvard used embryonic stem cells to produce human insulin-producing cells equivalent in almost every way to normally functioning cells in vast quantities. A report on the work is published in the journal Cell.
The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely. Scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria. And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted. One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room. Despite being unconscious and ‘dead’ for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines. “We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating,” said Dr Sam Parnia, a former research fellow at Southampton University ... who led the study. “But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped. The man described everything that had happened in the room." Of 2060 cardiac arrest patients studied, 330 survived and of 140 surveyed, 39 per cent said they had experienced some kind of awareness while being resuscitated. One in five said they had felt an unusual sense of peacefulness. Some recalled seeing a bright light. 13 per cent said they had felt separated from their bodies.
In 1991, in the tiny town of New Berlin, in upstate New York, a young physician named Bill Thomas ... had just taken a new job as medical director of Chase Memorial Nursing Home. More farmer than doctor, [Thomas] had a Paul Bunyan beard and was more apt to wear overalls beneath his white coat than a tie. From the first day on the job, he felt the stark contrast between the giddy, thriving abundance of life that he experienced on his farm and the confined, institutionalised absence of life that he encountered every time he went to work. So, acting on little more than instinct, he decided to try to put some life into the nursing home. They moved in ... one hundred parakeets, four dogs, two cats, plus a colony of rabbits and a flock of laying hens. [They also planted] hundreds of indoor plants and a thriving vegetable and flower garden, [and introduced] on-site child care for the staff. Researchers studied the effects of this programme over two years, comparing a variety of measures for Chase’s residents with those of residents at another nursing home nearby. Their study found that the number of prescriptions required per resident fell to half that of the control nursing home. The total drug costs fell to only 38 per cent of the comparison facility. Deaths fell 15 per cent. The study couldn’t say why. But Thomas thought he could.
If you've ever volunteered in a soup kitchen, you know the feeling of having served others. But what about those on the other side of the food line? Are they getting what they need most? Robert Egger, the founder of DC Central Kitchen, didn't think so. He set out to train homeless people on the streets of Washington, D.C. — many of whom were drug addicts cycling in and out of a life of crime — how to cook and earn a food handler's license. The goal was to help them trade addiction and crime for stable employment in restaurants and other food enterprises. Egger's kitchen got its start turning surplus and donated food into meals that are provided to homeless shelters and other nonprofits. Later, DC Central Kitchen opened an arm that operates much like a private company, selling high-quality meals to schools and 60 corner stores in low-income neighborhoods of the city. Today ... it delivers 5,000 meals each day to local nonprofit organizations and another 5,000 meals to schools. It operates a culinary job-training program that trains 80 people each year, and gets many of its supplies from small, local farms. Sixty percent of its funding is revenue that it earns from sales. "This idea of everyone side by side — it's a powerful image," says Egger. "The president of the United States, someone from the shelter, a kid from Wilson High School — we're Washingtonians, side by side. This is the power of community!"
Note: The DC Kitchen model has been adopted by organizations around the country, and inspired The Campus Kitchens Project, where students help recover food that might be wasted and prepare meals for people in need in their communities.
Sonia and Anita, two sisters living in rural India, were both born blind. A simple surgery, costing about $300, could have restored their sight long ago; but their parents, who earn 17 cents an hour planting and harvesting rice by hand, could barely make ends meet. Thanks to the efforts of 20/20/20, a nonprofit working to restore vision to blind children and adults in some of the world’s poorest countries, Sonia and Anita were able to undergo that simple surgery on their eyes. When the bandages came off, they saw the world around them for the very first time, and it was captured in a video detailing the sisters’ story. Sonia, 12, is said to have gasped as she opened her eyes and blinked into the sunlight for the first time. Her 6-year-old sister, holding her mother close, reportedly declared, “I can see, Mommy.” According to 20/20/20, the 15-minute “miracle” surgery, which the sisters both underwent, involves a surgeon removing the defective lens that causes blindness and replacing it with an artificial lens. The procedure could restore the eyesight of half the blind children and adults in the world, the nonprofit says. “The only problem is, for the poorest people in the world, who live on $1 a day, they could never afford to pay for a $300 surgery. So they will remain blind for the rest of their lives –- unless someone helps them,” 20/20/20 writes on its website.
Food Forward: Urban Agriculture Across America is a half-hour, character-driven survey of urban farming across the country. John Mooney has a hydroponic rooftop farm on top of a ... building in the West Village of Manhattan. Next, Andrew Coté, President of the New York City Beekeepers Association hawks his honey at the Tomkin’s Square Farmer’s Market in lower Manhattan. Coté explains how urban beekeeping helps to pollinate the urban farms and community gardens scattered throughout the city. Leaving New York, we head to Milwaukee where ... Will Allen inspires a new generation of innovators. Will motivated the folks at Sweetwater Aquaponics into action, scaling up his Telapia farm to more of a commercial operation. We follow the flow of fish from 8,000 gallon tanks in an abandoned warehouse to plate at La Merenda restaurant. Moving on to West Oakland, we get an in-depth look at urban farmer Abeni Ramsey who came from the mean streets of West Oakland but is now running her own crew at City Girl Farms. Finally, we finish in the food deserts, Detroit, MI, where we spend time with eighteen-year-old Travis Roberts, who grew up in Detroit, watching the city watching the city struggle with increasing urban blight. In trouble and more than 100 pounds overweight, he was headed in the wrong direction. But since then, he’s discovered the city’s urban agriculture movement and found a new purpose in life and is out to become an urban chicken rancher.
Note: Don't miss the inspiring video on this exciting development at the link above.
The leaders of the five BRICS countries have signed a deal to create a new $100bn development bank and emergency reserve fund. The BRICS group is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The capital for the bank will be split equally among the five participating countries. The bank will have a headquarters in Shanghai, China and the first president for the bank will come from India. Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, announced the creation of the bank at a BRICS summit meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil on [July 15]. Despite their political and economic differences, the one thing these countries do agree upon is that rich countries have too much power in institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. Rousseff's comments made that feeling crystal clear - the BRICS countries, she said, have the power to introduce positive changes - ones that they think are more equal and fair. At first, the bank will start off with $50bn in initial capital. The emergency reserve fund - which was announced as a "Contingency Reserve Arrangement" - will also have $100bn, and will help developing nations avoid "short-term liquidity pressures, promote further BRICS cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements". The creation of the BRICS bank will almost surely create competition for both the World Bank and other similar regional funds.
Last week ... the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day. For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar. “Negative pricing” moves, as they are known, are not uncommon. But they are only supposed to happen at night, when most of the population is mostly asleep, [and] demand is down That's not supposed to happen at lunchtime. Daytime prices are supposed to reflect higher demand, when people are awake, office buildings are in use, factories are in production. That's when fossil fuel generators would normally be making most of their money. The influx of rooftop solar has turned this model on its head. The impact has been so profound, and wholesale prices pushed down so low, that few coal generators in Australia made a profit last year. Hardly any are making a profit this year. State-owned generators like Stanwell are specifically blaming rooftop solar. The problem for Australian consumers [comes] in the cost of delivery of [electricity] through the transmission and distribution networks, and from retail costs and taxes. This is the cost which is driving households to take up rooftop solar, in such proportions that the level of rooftop solar is forecast ... to rise sixfold over the next decade. Households are tipped to spend up to $30bn on rooftop modules. It is not clear how centralised, fossil-fuel generation can adapt. In an energy democracy, even free coal has no value.
Meditating can have an almost instant effect on reducing stress, researchers have found. They say three consecutive days of 25 minute sessions can have a dramatic effect. Researchers studied 'mindful[ness] meditation' - a technique developed in the 1970s. Inspired by ancient Buddhist meditation, mindfulness courses were developed in the late 1970s by US doctors to combat stress. The guiding principle is to live more ‘in the moment’, spending less time going over past stresses and worrying about future problems. Techniques include moving the focus of attention around the body and observing sensations that arise – the so-called ‘body scan’. A secular practice, it is said to help people recognise and overcome negative thoughts while noticing small pleasures. 'More and more people report using meditation practices for stress reduction, but we know very little about how much you need to do for stress reduction and health benefits,' said lead author J. David Creswell. For the study, Creswell and his research team had 66 healthy individuals aged 18-30 years old participate in a three-day experiment. Some participants went through a brief mindfulness meditation training program; for 25 minutes for three consecutive days, the individuals were given breathing exercises to help them monitor their breath and pay attention to their present moment experiences. The participants who received the brief mindfulness meditation training reported reduced stress perceptions to ... speech and math tasks, indicating that the mindfulness meditation fostered psychological stress resilience.
“Us versus them” is not a paradigm that Jacques Verduin buys into. As the founder and director of the prison program Insight-Out, he believes that prison serves a purpose for people who cannot contain themselves when they act dangerously, but he has also learned that none of us is much different from the incarcerated. Thankfully Jacques has shown that the empowerment and transformation of prisoners is a big part of what prison reform looks like, and San Quentin State Prison has become a successful social experiment that is one of the best-kept secrets around. His programs, the Insight Prison Project and Insight-Out, are teaching prisoners to transform rage and pain into a positive force in the prison community as well as their own neighborhoods. In a year-long program participants make bonds with each other that transcend age [and] racial, economic, and gang differences. It takes time, but as group members get comfortable with the concept, they practice “sitting in the fire.” As Jacques explains, “By sitting with their own primary pain—the pain that initiated them into a suppression of their feelings—and their secondary pain—the pain associated with hurting others—they find strength in the midst of their overwhelming emotions. They need a support system to share their struggle of living up to these expectations. Shame runs deep in all of us. We all need a support system to help us connect with our wounded but more authentic self. Rather than fix ourselves, which assumes something is wrong with us, let’s accept and talk about our warts. By being vulnerable we take the power out of shame. That’s where authenticity lies.”
New York City’s budget for the 2015 fiscal year includes a new item that supporters of a fairer economy will want to celebrate: $1.2 million set aside for the development of worker-owned cooperative businesses. The spending is a small fraction of the $75 billion budget, which the City Council approved on June 26. But, according to a statement by U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, it's the largest investment in the sector ever made by a city government in the United States. Cooperative businesses are both owned and operated by employees. They focus on maximizing value for all their members as well as creating fair and quality jobs. “This is a great step forward for worker cooperatives,” Melissa Hoover, executive director of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, said in a press release. According to Hoover the co-op funding received widespread support from city council members, which “shows that they understand cooperatives can be a viable tool for economic development that creates real opportunity." Here’s how the city’s newly adopted budget describes the program: "Funding will support the creation of 234 jobs in worker cooperative businesses by coordinating education and training resources and by providing technical, legal and financial assistance. The initiative will fund a comprehensive citywide effort to reach 920 cooperative entrepreneurs, provide for the start-up of 28 new worker cooperative small businesses and assists another 20 existing cooperatives."
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