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.
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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.
Internet Access Is Only Prerequisite For College Classes
2007-12-31, Washington Post
Berkeley's on YouTube. American University's hoping to get on iTunes. George Mason professors have created an online research tool, a virtual filing cabinet for scholars. And with a few clicks on Yale's Web site, anyone can watch one of the school's most popular philosophy professors sitting cross-legged on his desk, talking about death. Studying on YouTube won't get you a college degree, but many universities are using technology to offer online classes and open up archives. Sure, some schools have been charging for distance-learning classes for a long time, but this is different: These classes are free. At a time when many top schools are expensive and difficult to get into, some say it's a return to the broader mission of higher education: to offer knowledge to everyone. And tens of millions are reaching for it. For schools, the courses can bring benefits, luring applicants, spreading the university's name, impressing donors, keeping alumni engaged. As the technology evolves, the classes are becoming far more engaging to a broader public. With better, faster technology such as video, what once was bare-bones and hard-core -- lecture notes aimed at grad students and colleagues -- is now more ambitious and far more accessible. Some professors try this on their own, on a small scale. Schools are feeling their way, experimenting with different technologies; some use Utah State University's eduCommons on the Web; some post to free sites such as YouTube and the Apple university site iTunes U. Other schools have plunged right in: MIT has 1,800 classes online, virtually the entire curriculum free and open to all. "The idea was to have a broad impact on education worldwide and make a statement at a time when many schools were launching for-profit distance-learning ventures," Steve Carson of MIT OpenCourseWare said, "trying to redefine the role of the institution in the digital age."
Exclusive Club Has One Rule: Just Give
2007-12-23, ABC News
Americans set a new record for generosity last year. We gave a total of nearly $300 billion. But few of us could match the generosity of Richard Semmler. Semmler is a 61-year-old math professor at Northern Virginia Community College. He's also a maintenance man, and a book editor. His hard work earns him more than $100,000 per year, but he lives very modestly. Even with three jobs, Semmler lives in a tiny apartment. He's not working so hard to get more -- he's working to give more. Semmler has donated nearly $1 million -- between 50 percent and 60 percent of his income each year -- to six charities, and his money helps to feed the homeless and build houses for families in need. Semmler's not just writing checks -- he's getting his hands dirty, building those homes with Habitat for Humanity, and handing out food in soup kitchens. "I prefer to live in a small apartment. I prefer to drive an old car," he said. "I get a lot of satisfaction out of that. I get a chance to see my dollars at work. For me, it's a personal satisfaction in seeing the house built, but more important, it's personal satisfaction in seeing a family that truly needs this," said Semmler. [He] belongs to a very exclusive club that anyone can join. It's called the Fifty Percent League. Members give away at least half their income to charity. Not all of the donors have big incomes. One woman earned just $16,000 dollars last year, and gave half of it away to help newly arrived immigrants. The group is made up of about 100 people and growing. Collectively, they have given away more than $1 billion over the past decade. Millionaire David Ludlow is a fifty-percenter, who funds an after-school program in Boston's inner city. "This has made me a truly happy man, being able to do this. It's been magnificent. It's totally turned my life around," Ludlow said.
Note: One of the wonderful people featured in this article, David Ludlow, is a major supporter of our work in the form of a large monthly donation (http://www.peerservice.org/donations#monthly). This is a powerful example of how one inspired individual can make a big difference in the world. Let us all do our best to use our money in support of personal and global transformation to the best of our ability. We invite you also to make a difference by donating to support our empowering work at http://www.peerservice.org/donations. For two inspiring media clips of David and this great organization, click here and here.
Secret Santa's Legacy Lives On
2007-12-21, CBS News/Associated Press
Susan Dahl had spent four months homeless in Colorado and just been on a harrowing 10-hour bus trip through sleet and snow. Hungry and broke, all she wanted to do was get back to family in Minnesota. That's when a tall man in a red coat and red hat sat next to her at the downtown bus station, talked to her quietly and then slipped her $100 on that recent December afternoon. The man was doing the work of Larry Stewart, Kansas City's original Secret Santa who anonymously wandered city streets doling out $100 bills to anyone who looked like they needed it. Stewart died of cancer at age 58 earlier this year, but his legacy lives on. "He said 'Here's a $100 bill ... and this is in memory of Larry Stewart,'" said Dahl, 56. During about a quarter century, Stewart quietly gave out more than $1.3 million to people in laundromats, diners, bus stations, shelters and thrift stores, saying it was his way of giving back at Christmas for all the wealth and generosity he had received in his lifetime. For years, Stewart did not want his name known or want thanks or applause, but last December he acknowledged who he was and used his last few months while battling cancer to press his message of kindness toward others. He even trained some friends in the ways of Secret Santa. This Christmas, a friend who told Stewart in the hospital that he would carry on for him is out on the streets, handing out $100 bills, each one stamped with "Larry Stewart, Secret Santa." Between Kansas City and several other cities this Christmas, the new Secret Santa will give away $75,000 of his own money, mostly in $100 bills. "I didn't want to be a Secret Santa," said the man, a business consultant who lives in the Kansas City area. "I wanted to give Larry money. But last year, he said I had to hand it out myself. So I did, and I got hooked. Anyone can be a Secret Santa," he says. "You don't have to give away $100. You can give away kindness. Help someone."
A Beloved Professor Delivers the Lecture of a Lifetime
2007-09-20, Wall Street Journal
Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues. They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture." This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture ... turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life. Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you." While displaying photos of his bosses and students over the years, he said that helping others fulfill their dreams is even more fun than achieving your own. He also saluted his parents, who let him make his childhood bedroom his domain, even if his wall etchings hurt the home's resale value. "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it." Considered one of the nation's foremost teachers of videogame and virtual-reality technology, he helped develop "Alice," a Carnegie Mellon software project that allows people to easily create 3-D animations. "Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don't get to step foot in it," Dr. Pausch said. "That's OK. I will live on in Alice." Many people have given last speeches without realizing it. The day before he was killed, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke prophetically: "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place." He talked of how he had seen the Promised Land, even though "I may not get there with you."
Note: For more on this amazing lecture and links to view it, see the New York Times blog available here.
The Final Days
2007-07-01, New York Times
“Coast to Coast AM” is an overnight radio show devoted to what its weekday host, George Noory, calls “the unusual mysteries of the world and the universe.” “Coast to Coast AM” is by far the highest-rated radio program in the country once the lights go out. “My motto tonight,” Noory intoned at the beginning of [a] program, “is be prepared, not scared.” What followed was a graphic recitation of disaster scenarios for 2012, including hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions caused by solar storms, ... and mass extinctions brought on by nuclear winter. For Christians awaiting rapture or Shiites counting the days until the Twelfth Imam appears, the trials and injustices of the known world are a prelude for the paradise that we can imagine but can’t yet achieve. Judging by the sheer number of predicted end dates that have come and gone without the trumpets blowing and angels rushing in, we are a people impatient to see our world redeemed through catastrophe. Gnostics predicted the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom as early as the first century; Christians in Europe [were prepared] for the end of the world at the first millennium; the Shakers believed the world would end in 1792. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been especially prodigious with prophetic end dates: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994. End dates are not the stuff of fantasy, after all; each and every one of us has a terminal appointment inscribed in our calendars. Perhaps that is why we need to imagine a supernatural force with one eye on a ticking clock, waiting to make everything new again.
Note: Could the desire for apocalypse represent a deep dissatisfaction with both ourselves and the world around us? Don't be surprised if after 2012 a new date of apocalypse eventually comes in vogue again. Could it be that when we open to accepting things as they are, we begin to experience more of paradise in our lives here and now? Coast to Coast tends to focus on the sensational, yet it is one of the few programs reporting deep cover-ups that no other media will touch.
Executive on a Mission: Saving the Planet
2007-05-22, New York Times
What Ray Anderson calls his “conversion experience” occurred in the summer of 1994, when he was asked to give the sales force at Interface, the carpet tile company he founded, some talking points about the company’s approach to the environment. So he started reading about environmental issues, and thinking about them, until pretty soon it hit him: “I was running a company that was plundering the earth,” he realized. “I thought, ‘Damn, some day people like me will be put in jail!’” He devoted his speech to his newfound vision of polluted air, overflowing landfills, depleted aquifers and used-up resources. Only one institution was powerful enough and pervasive enough to turn these problems around, he told his colleagues, and it was the institution that was causing them in the first place: “Business. Industry. People like us. Us!" He challenged his colleagues to set a deadline for Interface to become a “restorative enterprise,” a sustainable operation that takes nothing out of the earth that cannot be recycled or quickly regenerated, and that does no harm to the biosphere. The deadline they ultimately set is 2020, and the idea has taken hold throughout the company. Mr. Anderson said that through waste reduction, recycling, energy efficiency and other steps, Interface was “about 45 percent from where we were to where we want to be.” Use of fossil fuels is down 45 percent ... he said, while sales are up 49 percent. Globally, the company’s carpet-making uses one-third the water it used to. The company’s worldwide contribution to landfills has been cut by 80 percent. And in the process, Mr. Anderson has turned into perhaps the leading corporate evangelist for sustainability.
Small houses challenge our notions of need as well as minimum-size standards
2007-04-27, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
This dream house is the love child of artist-builder Jay Shafer, who lovingly hand-crafted it. The stainless-steel kitchen, gleaming next to the natural wood interior, is outfitted with customized storage and built-ins. But in an era when bigger is taken as a synonym for better, calling Shafer's home a dream house might strike some as an oxymoron. Why? The entire house, including sleeping loft, measures only 96 square feet -- smaller than many people's bathrooms. Shafer ... began his love affair with diminutive dwellings about 10 years ago. "I was living in an average-sized apartment and I realized I just didn't need so much space," he said. After a friend asked him to build a house for him to live in, Shafer launched Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. in 2000. The friend went on to become the president of the Small House Society -- and thus was written one more episode of the small-is-beautiful movement. Shafer began building and designing little houses for people who wanted them as backyard retreats, second homes or primary residences. Over the years, he has built and sold 10 homes and dozens of house plans, which cost about $1,000. But the real story is that he's become a poster boy for simple living, with interviews or mentions in ... the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and, last February, even on "Oprah." "Our society's been based on excess for so long, it's still a somewhat novel idea to live simply," he said. His next dream is to create a little community of small houses, with a half-dozen or more connected by walking paths on a small piece of land.
Note: For lots more on the fascinating tiny house movement, click here. For an abundance of other inspiring major media articles, click here.
Web entrepreneurs have an eye on social need -- not personal greed
2007-04-15, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Ryan Mickle's life was the stuff young bourgeois dreams are made of. Then a year ago ... Mickle began to take stock of his life. He was earning a lot of money but was giving very little of himself. So Mickle ditched his high-paying job to brainstorm a new venture with friend Rod Ebrahimi. The result was Dotherightthing.com, a San Francisco startup that allows users to rank companies based on their social impact on the world. Their site [allows] consumers to influence corporate behavior. The sentiment is summed up in Dotherightthing.com's T-shirt slogan: "It's cool to care." Mickle, 26, and Ebrahimi, 25, are among a growing number of entrepreneurs betting they can build ventures that deliver both financial and social returns. EBay founder Pierre Omidyar has dedicated much of his fortune to helping for-profits and nonprofits alike discover their power to do good. At www.freepledge.com, shoppers buy the same products from the same merchants for the same price, but a percentage is donated to the nonprofit of their choice. Darian Hickman, 28, is designing an online strategy game that turns the players into entrepreneurs who help bring prosperity to impoverished villages in underdeveloped countries. [He was] inspired by Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel prize-winning micro-finance pioneer. Premal Shah [is a] former PayPal executive who is president of online micro-lender Kiva.org. Brian Johnson, 32 ... said he felt uncomfortable with capitalism until he hit on the concept of "using economics as a force for good. How do we live our spiritual ideals and make money?" Now Johnson tries to have it both ways with Zaadz.com, which he describes as MySpace for people who want to change the world.
Note: We encourage you to take some time to explore some of these exciting new adventures which are transforming the face of business and building a brighter future for us all. For more on micro-finance, micro-lending, and how you can help end poverty without donating a penny, click here. And for the profile of website founder Fred Burks on Zaadz.com, click here.
Unsung fortune: A rich man's secret
2007-03-26, Philadelphia Inquirer
Hal Taussig wears baggy jeans and fraying work shirts that Goodwill might reject. His shoes have been resoled three times. At age 81, he doesn't own a car. He performs errands and commutes to the office by bicycle. And he has given away millions. Given the fortune that Taussig has made through Untours, his unique travel business, and has given away through the Untours Foundation, you could call him the Un-millionaire. If he so chose, he could be living in a Main Line mansion and driving a Mercedes. But he considers money and what he calls "stuff," beyond what he needs to survive, a burden, an embarrassment. In many respects, he's a 21st-century Thoreau. "Let your capital be simplicity and contentment," the sage of Walden Pond wrote. "Those are my sentiments precisely," says Taussig, who has three children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He directs the Untours Foundation, into which he pours all his profits - $5 million since 1992. The money is used to make low-interest loans to ventures and projects that help the needy and jobless - from a craft store in Hanoi to a home-health-care cooperative in Philadelphia. "I invest in entrepreneurial efforts to help poor people leverage themselves out of poverty." "In America, we worship success," he says. "It's a shoddy ethic that leads us to value who we are by what we are." The motto of the Untours Foundation is "a hand up, not a handout." It provides low-interest loans, here and abroad, to create jobs, build low-income housing, and support fair-trade products: goods such as coffee that are sold at a price that guarantees producers and workers a fair wage and decent livelihood.
Note: For an easy way you can use your investments to help families pull out of poverty, click here.
8 technologies for a green future
The planet's most pressing environmental problems ... may seem just too big to be solved with today's technology. But don't despair: A lot of bright minds are working on futuristic projects that promise to make the world greener. It's save-the-world stuff like toxic-waste-eating trees, smart electricity grids, oceangoing robots, and floating environmental sensors. This technology may seem far out - but it will probably be here a lot sooner than you think. 1. Try a solar-powered hydrogen fueling station in your garage. It's about the size of a filing cabinet and runs on electricity generated by standard-issue rooftop solar panels. The first version of the home fueling station is expected to produce enough hydrogen to give your runabout a range of some 100 miles without emitting a molecule of planet-warming greenhouse gas. 2. Environmental sensor networks [provide] real-time data on a variety of phenomena that affect the economy and society - climate change, hurricanes, air and water pollution. 3. Toxin-eating trees ... a technology that uses vegetation to absorb hazardous waste from industrial plants and other polluters. 4. Nuclear waste neutralizer ... a chemical technology called Urex+ that extracts reusable uranium and separates out cesium, allowing four times as much waste to be packed into nuclear burial grounds. 5. Autonomous ocean robots. 6. Sonic water purifier ... a sci-fi solution for an age-old problem that leaves 1.1 billion people without access to clean water: 7. Endangered-species tracker. 8. The interactive, renewable smart power grid ... the electricity grid of the future ... will look more like the Internet - distributed, interactive, open-source - than the dumb, one-way network of today.
Note: For many other exciting discoveries of new energy sources, click here.
Researchers Seek Routes to Happier Life
2006-11-26, Washington Post/Associated Press
As a motivational speaker and executive coach, Caroline Adams Miller knows a few things about using mental exercises to achieve goals. But last year, one exercise she was asked to try took her by surprise. Every night, she was to think of three good things that happened that day and analyze why they occurred. That was supposed to increase her overall happiness. "I thought it was too simple to be effective," said Miller. "I went to Harvard. I'm used to things being complicated." Miller was assigned the task as homework in a master's degree program. "The quality of my dreams has changed, I never have trouble falling asleep and I do feel happier." Miller said the exercise made her notice more good things in her day, and that now she routinely lists 10 or 20 of them rather than just three. That exercise is one of several that have shown preliminary promise in recent research into how people can make themselves happier — not just for a day or two, but long-term. There has been very little research in how people become happier. The big reason ... is that many researchers have considered that quest to be futile. But recent long-term studies have revealed that the happiness thermostat is more malleable than the popular theory maintained. One new study ... followed thousands of Germans for 17 years. About a quarter changed significantly over that time in their basic level of satisfaction with life. Another approach under study now is having people work on savoring the pleasing things in their lives like a warm shower or a good breakfast. [Yet] another promising approach is having people write down what they want to be remembered for, to help them bring their daily activities in line with what's really important to them.
Two in a Million: Danny and Annie Perasa
The story of Danny and Annie Perasa — how they met, and how they've stayed in love — inspires many who hear it. Their joy in life, and in one another, was celebrated recently in New York, where a crowd gathered to honor Danny and Annie. The Perasas are a memorable couple. In person, they come off like a pair of favorite grandparents, with thoughtful wisecracks and stories that take unpredictable turns. They say their affinity for one another was always obvious. Their enthusiasm has now been honored in a tangible way. The StoryCorps oral history project has dedicated its booth in Grand Central Terminal to the Perasas. On Friday, Feb. 10, a plaque was unveiled that dedicated the booth to the Perasas. The plaque reads: "This booth is dedicated to Danny and Annie Perasa, who recorded their story here on January 6, 2004. Their humor, heart, eloquence and love will never be forgotten." The couple made the trip to the ceremony despite Danny's illness: suffering from pancreatic cancer, he is currently in hospice care. Their visit was a treat for those present, as the Perasas revisited the conversation they had that day in 2004, and the life they've shared since 1978.
Note: For a very touching six-minute NPR video on this true story of beautiful marriage, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Daring rescue of whale: Humpback nuzzled her saviors in thanks
2005-12-14, San Francisco Chronicle
A humpback whale freed by divers from a tangle of crab trap lines near the Farallon Islands nudged its rescuers and flapped around in what marine experts said was a rare and remarkable encounter. "It felt to me like it was thanking us, knowing that it was free and that we had helped it," James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, said Tuesday. "It stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a little bit and had some fun." Sunday's daring rescue was the first successful attempt on the West Coast to free an entangled humpback. It was a very risky maneuver...because the mere flip of a humpback's massive tail can kill a man. "I was the first diver in the water, and my heart sank when I saw all the lines wrapped around it," said [James] Moskito. "I really didn't think we were going to be able to save it." Moskito said about 20 crab-pot ropes, which are 240 feet long with weights every 60 feet, were wrapped around the animal. Rope was wrapped at least four times around the tail, the back and the left front flipper, and there was a line in the whale's mouth. Moskito and three other divers spent about an hour cutting the ropes with a special curved knife. The whale floated passively in the water the whole time, he said, giving off a strange kind of vibration. "When I was cutting the line going through the mouth, its eye was there winking at me, watching me," Moskito said. "It was an epic moment of my life." When the whale realized it was free, it began swimming around in circles, according to the rescuers. Moskito said it swam to each diver, nuzzled him and then swam to the next one.
Meet the New Heroes: Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus has had phenomenal success helping people lift themselves out of poverty in rural Bangladesh by providing them with credit without requiring collateral. Yunus developed his revolutionary micro-credit system with the belief that it would be a cost effective and scalable weapon to fight poverty. Yunus told his story and that of the bank in the book Banker to the Poor, co-authored [with] Alan Jolis. In the book, Yunus recalls that in 1974 he was teaching economics at Chittagong University in southern Bangladesh, when the country experienced a terrible famine in which thousands starved to death. As the famine worsened he began to dread his own lectures. "Nothing in the economic theories I taught reflected the life around me. How could I go on telling my students make believe stories in the name of economics? I needed to run away from these theories and from my textbooks and discover the real-life economics of a poor person's existence." Yunus went to the nearby village of Jobra where he learned the economic realities of the poor. Grameen Bank was born and an economic revolution had begun. The bank has provided $4.7 billion dollars to 4.4 million families in rural Bangladesh. With 1,417 branches, Grameen provides services in 51,000 villages, covering three quarters of all the villages in Bangladesh. Today, more than 250 institutions in nearly 100 countries operate micro-credit programs based on the Grameen Bank model, while thousands of other micro-credit programs have emulated, adapted or been inspired by the Grameen Bank.
Note: For lots more on this courageous pioneer and his great work, click here and here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
The world champ of poverty fighters
2005-07-00, Ode Magazine, July 2005 Issue
Poverty can be solved, declares Muhammad Yunus. A former economics professor, who holds honorary doctorates from 22 universities in 11 countries, Yunus has seen for himself what works and what doesn’t work
in Bangladesh, just about the poorest country in the world. "Charity
is not the way to help people in need. If you want to solve poverty, you have to put people in a position to build their own life. Unfortunately, this is not how the aid industry
works. Western governments and development organizations think they need to
offer permanent charity. As a result, they keep entire economies in poverty
and families in an inhuman situation." As founder of the Grameen
Bank, he is the creator of a concept that now represents an emerging force
in the financial world: microcredit, small loans for poor people.
Grameen has become a model for banks in nearly 100 countries. "I still think we can cut poverty in half within 10 years and can eradicate it within a human lifetime. Credit is one of the barriers we must eliminate so that the poor can clamber out of poverty. Thanks to the mobile telephone, farmers in Bangladesh can negotiate
directly with their customers. Via internet, farmers find out the actual market
value of their goods, enabling them to strengthen their negotiating position.
They are no longer forced to rely on the clever middleman who kept the farmers
in ignorance and took off with their money." Yunus has demonstrated that combating poverty starts with action. And that these actions can sometimes even make a profit.
Note: Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his empowering work. For lots more on this inspiring movement and what you can do to help pull families out of poverty, click here.
This Magic Moment
It was like many Maui mornings, the sun rising over Haleakala as we greeted our divers for the day's charter... Near the last level of the dive ... three of us caught the current and drifted along the outside of the reef, slowly beginning our ascent until, far below, something caught my eye. I made out the white shoulder patches of a manta ray in about one hundred and twenty feet of water. So I started calling through my regulator, "Hey, come up and see me!" I had tried this before to attract the attention of whales and dolphins, who ... will come sometimes just to see what the noise is about. Once my brain clicked in and I was able to concentrate, I saw deep V-shaped marks of her flesh missing from her backside. She had fishing hooks embedded in her head by her eye, with very thick fishing line running to her tail. She had rolled with the line and was wrapped head to tail about five or six times. The line had torn into her body at the back, and those were the V-shaped chunks that were missing. Forgetting about my air, my divers and where I was, I went to the manta. I moved very slowly and talked to her the whole time, like she was one of the horses I had grown up with. When she had steadied, I took out the knife that I carry on my inflator hose. I cut through one line and into the next until she had all she could take of me and would move away, only to return in a moment or two. I could have stayed there forever! ... I was totally oblivious to everything but that moment. I loved this manta. I was so moved that she would allow me to do this to her. But reality came screaming down on me. With my air running out, I reluctantly came to my senses and pushed myself away...
Note: Don't miss the entire moving story at the link above.
Obama: I have a deep faith
2004-04-05, Chicago Sun-Times
Barack Obama is alone on this Saturday afternoon in the city, his press secretary nowhere in sight. He's not carrying anything with him. Not even notes. Yet he appears confident as he answers questions about his spiritual life, a subject that would make many politicians -- on or off the campaign trail -- more skittish than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. If an hourlong conversation about his faith unnerves him, Obama's not letting on. The first question he fields without hesitation: What does he believe? "I am a Christian," the 42-year-old ... says. "So, I have a deep faith," Obama continues. "I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.
That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived." It's perhaps an unlikely theological position for someone who places his faith squarely at the feet of Jesus to take, saying essentially that all people of faith -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone -- know the same God. That depends, Obama says, on how a particular verse from the Gospel of John, where Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me," is heard. "Alongside my own deep personal faith, I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion," he says. "I am a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure."
Note: For those who want to understand the spiritual beliefs of Barack Obama, the full article at the link above is highly recommended. Even better, for the powerful transcript of this interview between the religion columnist of the Sun-Times and Obama, click here.
The Monk in the Lab
2003-04-26, New York Times
The neuroscience laboratory of Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin [has been] using imaging devices that show what occurs in the brain during meditation. Dr. Davidson has been able to study the effects of Buddhist practices for cultivating compassion, equanimity or mindfulness. Experiments have [shown] some practitioners can achieve a state of inner peace, even when facing extremely disturbing circumstances. Dr. Paul Ekman of the University of California at San Francisco [found] that jarring noises (one as loud as a gunshot) failed to startle the Buddhist monk he was testing. Dr. Davidson [conducted] research with people working in highly stressful jobs. These people ... were taught mindfulness, a state of alertness in which the mind does not get caught up in thoughts or sensations, but lets them come and go, much like watching a river flow by. After eight weeks, Dr. Davidson found that in these people, the parts of their brains that help to form positive emotions became increasingly active. The implications of all this are clear: the world today needs citizens and leaders who can work toward ensuring stability and engage in dialogue with the "enemy." It's worth noting that these methods are not just useful, but inexpensive. Everybody has the potential to lead a peaceful, meaningful life. Modern technology and human intelligence guided by hatred can lead to immense destruction. To respond wisely and effectively ... we would do well to remember that the war against hatred and terror can be waged on this, the internal front, too. If humanity is to survive, happiness and inner balance are crucial. We cannot neglect our inner development.
Electric car with massive range in demo by Phinergy, Alcoa
2014-06-04, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Imagine making the 19-hour, 1,800-kilometre drive from Toronto to Halifax in an electric car without having to stop for a recharge. That's theoretically possible with a special kind of battery being demonstrated this week in Montreal. The battery ... consists of panels made mostly of aluminum. The battery can extend the range of an electric car by 1,600 kilometres when used in conjunction with the vehicle's regular lithium-ion battery. "We hope that this will increase the penetration of electric cars with zero emissions," said Aviv Tzidon, CEO of Phinergy, ... adding that it should put an end to "range anxiety." That kind of anxiety about how far an electric car can go before needing a recharge has often been cited as a reason the market for electric cars is still relatively small. The regular battery range of electric cars now on the market is a few hundred kilometres at most — 135 kilometres for the Nissan Leaf and 480 kilometres for the more expensive version of the Tesla Model S. That makes those cars unsuitable for extended road trips, unless high-voltage fast-charging stations, which are still relatively uncommon, are available along the way.
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Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds'
A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign to change the rules that govern seeds. They are releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new "open source pledge" that is intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely. The new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including carrots, kale, broccoli and quinoa. Anyone receiving the seeds must pledge not to restrict their use by means of patents, licenses or any other kind of intellectual property. Any future plant that is derived from these open source seeds also has to remain freely available as well. Irwin Goldman, a vegetable breeder at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, ... doesn't like the consequences of restricting access to plant genes — what he calls germplasm. "If we don't share germplasm and freely exchange it, then we will limit our ability to improve the crop," he says. Sociologist Jack Kloppenburg, also at the University of Wisconsin, has been campaigning against seed patents for 30 years. His reasons go beyond Goldman's. He says turning seeds into private property has contributed to the rise of big seed companies that in turn promote ever-bigger, more specialized farms. "The problem is concentration, and the narrow set of uses to which the technology and the breeding are being put," he says.
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