Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
As more states legalize the use of marijuana, the number of teens with cannabis-related problems is declining, new research suggests. Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the study revealed a 24% decline in marijuana-related problems—such as becoming dependent on the drug or having trouble in school and in relationships—among teenagers. The researchers additionally found an association between drops in problems related to cannabis and reductions in behavioral issues, such as fighting, property crimes and selling drugs. The report also showed that marijuana use rates in young people have been dropping over the years. When asked whether they had used marijuana in the previous 12 months, study participants reported fewer instances of pot use in 2013 than their peers had reported in 2002, a 10% decline overall. Additional research on how the decrease in rates of conduct problems relates to other behaviors is needed. “For example, adolescent crime rates have been declining for about 20 years. Teenage pregnancy rates are at an all time low. Binge drinking among high school students is dropping. (Though you wouldn’t know any of this from news coverage),” [study author Richard A. Grucza] said. “I think it is likely that all of these changes are connected to each other, and to the drop in marijuana use disorder. It’s really important to figure out why this is happening so that we can extend these trends into the future.”
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A solar project funded and operated by both Jews and Muslims is shining some light on Auja, a small Palestinian town located in one of the most controversial territories on Earth. The $100,000 project is harnessing solar energy to power the drawing of water from deep underground to irrigate a grove of palms growing the prized Medjool dates. It is the first large project to be funded by both Jews and Muslims in the United States – including former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg – and to be operated by Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims on the ground. The solar array is providing an economic boost to 45 farming families in this town of 5,000 Palestinians on the eastern flank of the West Bank who struggle with scarce water and unreliable and expensive electricity. Ben Jablonski ... is leading the project through a nonprofit he founded called Build Israel Palestine. Mr. Jablonski, who is Jewish, started the organization in 2014 with Tarek Elgawhary, an Egyptian Muslim religious scholar in Washington, D.C. who also runs Coexist, an educational nonprofit. Jablonski gave up his board seat with the Jewish National Fund, a nonprofit infrastructure developer that has limited but controversial involvement in West Bank settlements, in order to meet the demands from the Auja community, which insisted that donors and engineers involved in the project have no connections to Israeli settlements. Build Israel Palestine’s work focuses on providing Palestinians access to water, and doing so by bringing Muslims and Jews together.
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A shorter work day increases productivity and makes people happier. The Svartedalens retirement home in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, conducted an experiment to determine whether cutting hours improved patient care and boosted employees' morale. Nurses who worked six-hour days for the past year were found to be 20 per cent happier and had more energy at work and in their spare time. The 68 nurses also took half as much sick time as those in the control group and were able to do 64 per cent more activities with elderly residents. They were also 2.8 times less likely to take any time off work in a two-week period, Bengt Lorentzon, a researcher on the project, told Bloomberg. "If the nurses are at work more time and are more healthy, this means that the continuity at the residence has increased," Mr Lorentzon said. "That means higher quality [care]." Sweden made headlines in 2015 when it was reported the country was moving towards a six-hour work day. A Toyota centre in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, implemented shorter working hours over a decade ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate and an increase in profits. Their results prompted a number of other Swedish companies to trial shorter hours. Longer working hours have been linked with heart disease and stroke, according to a medical study published in The Lancet.
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Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy's highest court of appeal has ruled. Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 (Ł3; $4.50) from a supermarket. Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment", the court of cassation decided. Therefore it was not a crime, it said. A fellow customer informed the store's security in 2011, when Mr Ostriakov attempted to leave a Genoa supermarket with two pieces of cheese and a packet of sausages in his pocket but paid only for breadsticks. In 2015, Mr Ostriakov was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in jail and a €100 fine. The "historic" ruling is "right and pertinent", said Italiaglobale.it - and derives from a concept that "informed the Western world for centuries - it is called humanity". Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, which reviews only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, on Monday made a final and definitive ruling overturning the conviction entirely. Stealing small quantities of food to satisfy a vital need for food did not constitute a crime, the court wrote. "The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the seizure of merchandise took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity," wrote the court.
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A man in Whittier has gone the distance for a tiny hummingbird his once-feral dog helped rescue. As Ed Gernon explains, last year he adopted a German shepherd mix named Rex, that at the time “fought other dogs and killed cats.” “He was dangerous,” said Gernon of Rex. “He was an animal that had learned to live on the streets and to survive on his own.” One afternoon just a month after Rex’s adoption, the dog became the rescuer, saving a very tiny and sick hummingbird. “And he suddenly stopped and he would not move,” he recalls. “I mean it’s tiny and it’s dead as far as I’m concerned. It’s covered in ants. It’s got no feathers.” But that’s not where the story ends. Hummer as she is called is now living in Gernon’s home a year later. But it’s been a long road. In fact, Gernon had to nurse Hummer back to health (quite literally). He feeds her a special formula every 15 minutes from sun up to sun down and even taught her how to fly using a hair dryer. “You find yourself doing stuff you never thought in a million years you would do,” he said. And even Rex is willing to share his water bowl with Hummer. “It was this little creature. This fragile creature that the whole world wanted to kill and he was trying to protect her so I thought I’d go the distance,” said Gernon. It’s been more than a year since Hummer arrived and Gernon knows eventually she will spread her wings. “It’s time for her to start mating and I keep leaving the doors and windows open thinking she’ll leave,” he said. But while she’s here, he says her little wings have made a big impact.
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Jenny Colgan is one of Britain’s most prolific writers. Last year she wrote five books and this year eight are scheduled to come out. To produce this volume of work you might think Colgan, 44, wrote into the small hours every night. She doesn’t. She works for no more than three hours every day, from 11am to 1pm. “Like a marathon runner building up resistance I started to push how much I could get into every day. And every time I stretched it a hundred or so here and there, I found that I could, even though the time I have for working stayed about the same. “Weirdly, the work started getting better. I'm now finishing my novels more quickly, immersing myself more, focusing better. The arcs of the books, the reviews and the sales all improved massively.” This will come as no surprise to Colin McKenzie and his team at Keio University in Japan, who has just published a paper suggesting that part-time workers over the age of 40 – especially those who work about 25 hours a week – have the sharpest brains. Part-time work, the report has concluded, is the perfect balance between brain stimulation and stress. The findings echo those of a celebrated study that has followed 10,000 middle-aged civil servants in Whitehall since 1985. In short, working too hard is bad for you. The report’s title is “Use it too much and lose it?” It has been welcomed by a host of people who have called for Britain to end its culture of hamster-wheel offices.
Power plant turbines might be getting smaller. The tech is still in its early stages but GE Global Research is developing a turbine that - though only the size of the average desk - could someday power entire towns. The principle behind it could have a big effect on the future of turbine power. Instead of being pushed by steam, like most power plant turbines, the "minirotor" as [steam turbine specialist at GE Global Research Doug] Hofer calls it is pushed by CO2. Not gaseous CO2, or liquid CO2, but CO2 so hot and pressurized that it forms what is called a supercritical fluid, a state of heat and pressure so extreme that the distinctions between liquid and gas basically cease to exist. The tiny turbine's design is intended to harness the power of this specific (and weird) state of matter which could make the turbines as much as 50 percent efficient at turning heat to electricity, a significant improvement over ~45 percent efficient steam turbines. On top of that, these turbines should be relatively easy to spin up or down as demand shifts allowing power plants to more accurately tweak supply on the fly. The prototype design is a 10 MW turbine, though GE hopes to be able to scale the tech to enough to power a city, somewhere in the 500 megawatt range. The first physical tests are scheduled for later this year.
It's a case an attorney called "one of the most significant in our nation's history." Twenty-one young people (ages 8 to 19) are suing President Barack Obama and the federal government over making a mess of the planet for future generations. The government and fossil fuel groups had asked the court to toss out the federal case, but Judge Thomas Coffin on Friday denied those requests. "The nascent nature of these proceedings dictate further development of the record before the court can adjudicate whether any claims or parties should not survive for trial," Coffin wrote in the decision. "Accordingly, the court should deny the motions to dismiss." The climate kids' argument is multifaceted and nuanced, bringing in concepts of public trust doctrine as well as constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. But one of the oh-wow points they're making is this: Young people and unborn generations are being discriminated against when it comes to the U.S. propagation of climate change. They will live through an era of rising seas, heat waves, droughts, floods and extinctions that are without precedent. Yet they have little or no voice in the political system that, despite some bold steps in the right direction, continues to lease federal property for fossil fuel extraction and continues to subsidize pollution. Officials have continued to pursue harmful practices while knowing their actions would have dire future consequences. The youth plaintiffs want the feds to come up with a wholesale plan to fight climate change.
In a country where billions of pounds of food get wasted every year, one app is connecting the dots between those who have excess food and those who need it. Copia, a food recovery app, collects surplus food from companies and distributes it to organizations that serve people in need. Companies can use the app to order a food pickup after an event, for instance, and Copia will come retrieve the fare and drop it off at a local pantry, shelter or soup kitchen. “Hunger is the world’s dumbest problem, especially in the world’s wealthiest country,” Komal Ahmad, the app’s founder, said. “It’s a distribution problem. We get food from those who have it to those who need it.” Food waste is a huge issue in the United States: 31 percent of the available food supply, or 133 billion pounds, went uneaten in 2010. This is in a country in which almost 50 million Americans ... live in food insecure households. “Hunger is pervasive,” said Margarette Purvis, President of Food Bank of NYC. “It’s a horrible thing that is hidden in every city.” So far Copia has collected more than eight hundred thousand pounds of food, connecting it to seven hundred thousand people. Ahmad is hoping ... to potentially use the technology to distribute other much-needed items like medicine. “Next, we want to use the platform to redistribute food to Syrian migrants in our country,” Ahmad said. If you want to help, you can get businesses you work with to use the app. But Purvis suggested something more: go volunteer at a local food pantry.
What is happiness inequality? It’s the psychological parallel to income inequality: how much individuals in a society differ in their self-reported happiness levels. Since 2012, the World Happiness Report has championed the idea that happiness is a better measure of human welfare than standard indicators like wealth, education, health, or good government. And if that’s the case, it has implications for our conversations about equality, privilege, and fairness in the world. We know that income inequality can be detrimental to happiness: According to a 2011 study, for example, the American population as a whole was less happy over the past several decades in years with greater inequality. The authors of a companion study to the World Happiness Report ... found that countries with greater inequality of well-being also tend to have lower average well-being, even after controlling for factors like GDP per capita, life expectancy, and individuals’ reports of social support and freedom to make decisions. In other words, the more happiness equality a country has, the happier it tends to be as a whole. On an individual level, the same link exists; in fact, individuals’ happiness levels were more closely tied to the level of happiness equality in their country than to its income equality. Happiness equality was also a stronger predictor of social trust than income equality - and social trust, a belief in the integrity of other people and institutions, is crucial to personal and societal well-being.
When David Lee Windecher comes to court, he cuts a striking figure. Once known as “Red,” a notorious North Miami gangster, Windecher has come a long way. The drug dealer and larcenist who had been arrested 13 times by his 20th birthday ... has morphed into one of Atlanta’s hottest young lawyers. Only four years into his law career, [he] uses his own gripping memoir – “The American Dream: HisStory in the Making” – to give troubled kids a road map to putting their adolescent mistakes in the rearview mirror. His message: Too many Americans – prosecutors, citizens, and even gangsters themselves – buy into a myth that youths are a lost cause. Those sentiments were cemented into law in the 1980s and ’90s. “Second chances come hard,” he says. “The problem is that everyone, even the gangsters, looks at the worst, not the potential in other people. But the fact is, you are not a victim of circumstance. You have a choice.” It took watching his brother and two sisters turning to gang life, finding faith in a higher power, and meeting an aspiring FBI agent ... for Windecher to see that there was a way out. He was also shaken by a poem titled “The Monument,” about how God gives each person a unique set of problems to resolve. It says, “no one else may have the blessings that these problems will bring you.” In 2011, Windecher secured an internship with the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, [where] in the juvenile division ... he began to strengthen the county’s diversion programs aimed at keeping first-time offenders out of long-term detention.
From an environmental perspective, plastic cutlery is pretty disastrous. It's often used just once before being thrown in the bin, and every year vast quantities of plastic knives, forks and spoons end up in landfill, where they release harmful substances into the soil as they decompose. However, one enterprising inventor is now hoping to make plastic cutlery obsolete by providing a viable, environmentally-friendly alternative: edible cutlery. Narayana Peesapaty is from India, where 120 billion pieces of disposable plastic cutlery are thrown away each year. His edible cutlery, branded as Bakeys, is made from millet, rice and wheat, and is available in a variety of flavours. Bakeys, founded in Hyderabad in 2011, says its products are "highly nutritious," with a shelf life of three years. If you use a Bakeys spoon and don't eat it, it'll decompose in less than a week. A video showcasing Narayana's invention has gone viral this week after it was shared online by the website The Better India, where it's been viewed more than 2.5 million times in less than a day. It isn't quite as sturdy as its metal or plastic counterparts - Bakeys suggests not using too much force if you use its cutlery to cut into hard foods, saying: "after all these are made of flours" - but its spoons are firm enough to get you through a cup of hot soup without it wilting. But could they ever become popular enough to replace plastic cutlery the world over? We'll have to wait and see.
Yuval Roth woke at the crack of dawn to drive his large, white van from his home on Israel’s Mediterranean coast to Checkpoint 300, the main passageway leading from Palestiniancontrolled Bethlehem to Israeli-controlled Jerusalem. Over the past decade, Roth has made it his daily business to transport Palestinians needing medical treatment from army checkpoints to Israeli hospitals. “These encounters break down barriers,” Roth says. “Everything the Palestinians knew about us, and everything we knew about them, simply disintegrates.” [In 1993] Roth’s brother, Ehud, was kidnapped [and killed] by a Hamas cell in the Gaza Strip. Roth decided to mobilize his pain in the cause of education. He joined ... a nonprofit group comprising bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families. He began sharing his personal story with Israeli high school students, alongside a Palestinian counterpart. In late 2005, a Palestinian member of the group asked Roth for a favor: Could Roth drive his sick brother from a checkpoint on the Palestinian-occupied West Bank to Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel. Soon, another Palestinian approached Roth, requesting a ride ... for a Palestinian seeking a bone marrow transplant. “Things began to snowball,” Roth says. “I sent out a call for help online, and that’s how a group of volunteers started to form.” In late 2009, [a $10,000] donation forced Roth to register The Road to Recovery as a nonprofit group. Today it has some 400 active Israeli volunteers.
In the mid 1970s, psychologist Merrill Elias began tracking the cognitive abilities of more than a thousand people. The goal: to observe the relationship between people's blood pressure and brain performance. There was never an inkling that his research would lead to any sort of discovery about chocolate. And yet, 40 years later, it seems to have done just that. The questionnaire gathered all sorts of information about the dietary habits of the participants, [which] revealed an interesting pattern. "We found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively," said Elias. "It's significant - it touches a number of cognitive domains." The findings ... come largely thanks to the interest of Georgina Crichton, a nutrition researcher. What's going on? Crichton can't say with absolute certainty. Nor can Elias, who says he expected to observe the opposite effect - that chocolate, given its sugar content, would be correlated with stunted rather than enhanced cognitive abilities. But they have a few ideas. Nutrients called cocoa flavanols, which are found naturally in cocoa, and thus chocolate, seem to have a positive effect on people's brains. Chocolate, like both coffee and tea, also has methylxanthines, plant-produced compounds that enhance various bodily functions. A lot of previous research has shown that there are, or at least could be, immediate cognitive benefits from eating chocolate. But rarely, if ever, have researchers been able to observe the impact of habitual chocolate eating on the brain.
Just two days after Norma’s husband of 67 years passed away, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Doctors gave her the options of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. She decided she would forgo any treatment, telling the doctors, “I’m 90 years old, I’m hitting the road.” Norma’s son, Tim, and daughter-in-law, Ramie, are full-time RVers. Since Norma couldn’t live at home alone without her husband, they invited her to join them on the road. Six months later, the three of them, along with their poodle Ringo, are enjoying the trip of a lifetime. Ramie, who spoke for the family, said that Norma is a set of fresh eyes on this indefinite road trip. “She’s very quiet and humble, and then she has this streak of adventure that surprises us.” Adventure is right. After leaving Northern Michigan in August, their first big stop was Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. From there, they traveled to Yellowstone National Park and then onto the Rocky Mountains. All the while, they've been documenting their adventure on the Driving Miss Norma Facebook page. Norma’s favorite activity was riding in a hot air balloon in Florida, a Christmas gift from Tim and Ramie. Ramie told ABC News that Norma is feeling better than ever. “She continues to surprise us on this trip," she said. "She’s getting healthier, I think, from eating well and being outside a lot. She’s breathing fresh air and getting to see new things all the time. The trio hopes that Norma’s story will help other families to start conversations about end-of-life plans.
Federal officials are preparing to enforce an 86-year-old ban on importing goods made by children or slaves under new provisions of a law signed by President Barack Obama. "This law slams shut an unconscionable and archaic loophole that forced America to accept products made by children or slave labor," said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who worked on the legislation. The Tariff Act of 1930, which gave Customs and Border Protection the authority to seize shipments where forced labor was suspected and block further imports, was last used in 2000, and has been used only 39 times all together largely because of two words: "consumptive demand" - if there was not sufficient supply to meet domestic demand, imports were allowed regardless of how they were produced. The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act signed by Obama on Wednesday eliminated that language, allowing stiffer enforcement. To start an investigation, Customs needs to receive a petition from anyone - a business, an agency, even a non-citizen - showing "reasonably but not conclusively" that imports were made at least in part with forced labor. A Labor Department list of more than 350 goods produced by child labor or forced labor provides a detailed breakdown that human rights groups plan to use as they petition the government to take action.
Komal Ahmad ... is the founder and CEO of Copia, an online platform that connects businesses with leftover food to local organizations that can distribute that food to people in need. While an undergraduate ... Ahmad was walking down the street when she was approached by a homeless man who asked her for money to buy food. Instead of giving him a few bucks, Ahmad decided to take him out to lunch and discovered that he was an Iraq war veteran. “That hit me like a ton of bricks,” she said, noting that she’d just gotten back from summer training for the U.S. Navy. “It was almost like a glimpse of my future. This was a perfectly educated guy, came from a good family. He was just a person who was down on his luck.” Across the street from where Ahmad and the man had eaten lunch, the university’s cafeteria was throwing out thousands of pounds of leftover food. Right then, the dual problems of hunger and food waste struck her. “Those who have and are wasting and those who need and are starving - and they’re both living quite literally right across the street from each other,” she said. “That’s just ridiculous.” Ahmad launched Feeding Forward, a local service that began ... in 2011 and has since grown into the tech startup Copia, which has now distributed some 600,000 pounds of food to 720,000 people in need. As Copia expands, Ahmad said that she hopes her phone app will set the stage for new platforms that can redistribute a wider array of necessities, like medicine and medical supplies.
The lobby of TerraCycle’s global headquarters is far from what might be expected for a company that reported $18.7 million in revenue in 2014. the company’s core mission: reducing waste. “Everything around us will become waste,” says Tom Szaky, TerraCycle’s chief executive officer. “Our focus is on anything that you cannot recycle today, and that is 75 percent of all objects in the world.” Mr. Szaky founded TerraCycle in 2001 while a freshman at Princeton University. He and another student fed dining hall leftovers to worms and liquefied the worm compost, creating an organic and highly effective fertilizer. Lacking the money to package their product, the duo used soda bottles they retrieved from recycling bins as containers to peddle the worm poop. “That was the inspirational moment,” says Szaky, who decided to drop out of Princeton to pursue TerraCycle as a full-time endeavor. “What got me very excited was ... waste as a business idea.” Today, TerraCycle is an international leader in “recycling the unrecyclable,” building off the worm compost idea and using other waste materials to craft new products. TerraCycle runs recycling programs in more than 350,000 locations in 22 countries. [They] devise a plan to deal with each type of waste, and then process the waste through refurbishing it into something useful or through reprocessing it for recycling.
Only a fraction of the Earth's water is drinkable - an estimate from the U.S. Geological Survey puts all of the world's freshwater at just 2.5 percent of the total global water. What if we could diversify and pull water from the air, instead? Now, a new invention does just that. Fontus is a water bottle that pulls moisture from the air, and in ideal conditions, can fills itself up in under an hour. The water bottle comes from Austrian industrial designer Kristof Retezár, who wanted to make a simple, portable tool to help people where drinkable water isn't easy to get. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs reports that 1.2 billion people, around a fifth of the world's population, live in areas where water is physically scarce. Another 1.6 live in countries where water infrastructure and storage is lacking. The Fontus uses solar energy to power a small cooler or condenser that works by the so-called Peltier effect. Air passing through the cold chamber rapidly condenses like droplets on the outside of a cold glass. In "really good" conditions, or temperatures between 86 and 104 degrees with humidity between 80 and 90 percent, the Fontus can generate half a liter of water in an hour. In the future, Retezár says the company hopes to improve that so the bottle can work in more conditions. The project was shortlisted for the 2014 James Dyson Award. Next the company hopes to launch a crowdfunding campaign and get the price of the water bottle under $100.
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It took a bloody Civil War and the passage of a Constitutional amendment to eliminate slavery in the United States. Today, the tools to combat slavery have become decidedly more high-tech (and nonviolent). Made in a Free World in San Francisco, for example, has developed software that helps companies determine whether products they sell or make depend on global slave labor. At least 20 million people across the world are being forced to work for no pay. These workers are either directly or indirectly producing the goods sold by major corporations and small businesses alike, including those in the United States. “At the level of global brands, forced labor and human trafficking can often be hidden from view, the result of complex and frequently outsourced recruitment and hiring practices,” according to a United Nations report. Made in a Free World is a nonprofit that grew out of work that founder and CEO Justin Dillon did for the State Department in 2011. Dillon helped create an algorithm that allows consumers to determine the probability that companies were using slave labor, especially in raw material production, to make 400 popular products like beds, cars and cell phones. “We wanted to start a conversation,” Dillon told me. “No one wants to go out and buy things from slavery.” But Dillon realized that consumers were just one half the equation. To create real change, Made in a Free World needed to help companies - not just shame them - to rid slave labor from supply chains.
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