Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Major Media
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.
By salary standards, Bob Paeglow may be the least-successful doctor in America. He's got thousands of patients, but not one country club membership. His family lives in the worst neighborhood in Albany, N.Y. Fortunately, Paeglow didn't go into medicine for the money. He went into it — pretty late in life — because he kept having a vision of himself in old age he didn't like: "That the world was no better because I was a part of it than if I'd never been born." At the age of 36, Bob gave up his career as a quality control technician, went to medical school and set out to improve the quality of the planet. He opened his office in a neighborhood where most doctors wouldn't open their car door, and welcomed in all the people mainstream medicine would rather ignore. Paeglow takes absolutely no salary and survives mostly on donations. But even when people give him money, he usually plugs it right back into the practice. Every penny he makes goes back to his patients in one way or another. Does that make him the least-successful doctor in America? Or the most? If you would like to donate ... go to [Dr. Bob's website].
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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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 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.
Ryan’s stories were truly legendary. His mother Cyndi said [that] when he was 5 years old, he confided in her one evening before bed. He said, "mom, I have something I need to tell you. I used to be somebody else.” The preschooler would then talk about “going home” to Hollywood. “His stories were so detailed and they were so extensive, that it just wasn’t like a child could have made it up,” she said. Cyndi said she ... had never really thought about reincarnation. She checked out books about Hollywood from the local library, hoping something inside would help her son make sense of his strange memories. “Then we found the picture,” she said. That photo ... was a publicity shot from the 1932 movie. “She turns to the page in the book, and I say ‘that’s me, that’s who I was,’" Ryan remembers. Finally she had a face to match to her son’s strange “memories,” giving her the courage to ask someone for help. That someone was Dr. Jim Tucker ... at the University of Virginia. [Tucker] has spent more than a decade studying the cases of children ... who say they remember a past life. [His] office contains the files of more than 2,500 children— cases accumulated from all over the world by his predecessor, Ian Stevenson. Tucker has [discovered some] intriguing patterns. For instance, 70 percent of the children say they died violent or unexpected deaths in their previous lives, and males account for 73 percent of those deaths— mirroring the statistics of those who die of unnatural causes in the general population. “There’d be no way to orchestrate that statistic with over 2,000 cases,” Tucker said.
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All parents want their kids to have the skills they need to thrive in the world. But, while most parents feel comfortable talking about the importance of safety, health, schoolwork, and relationships, when it comes to the importance of money, many fall silent. Perhaps that’s because money can bring up extremely strong emotions. How much we have or don’t have, and how our income compares to that of others, can be a source of shame—whether we perceive ourselves as having too much or too little. Parents often find themselves fighting over finances, leaving the impression on kids that money causes conflict. In my role as the personal finance columnist for The New York Times, parents often ask me for advice. Here are some tips: 1. Talk about money and your values around money. 2. Give children money to manage on their own. 3. Teach kids to spend wisely. 4. Put kids to work. 5. Teach kids the importance of giving. 6. Practice gratitude. While these tips aren’t foolproof, parents who follow them have a better chance of raising children with a wise relationship to money. It’s up to all of us to make sure our children understand our values and know how to save, spend, or give away money in a way that is consistent with those values. If we all approached the topic with more honesty and openness, we might avoid a future where children end up either crippled by debt or thinking that everything should come to them on a silver platter.
Note: The above was written by Ron Lieber, whose new book, The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money, is about how parents can do a better job of teaching their kids about money. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In two separate research findings, scientists have used bacteria in processes that can deliver substantial power when scaled up in the future. While a Sintef team in Norway has a method to deliver purified water, a Missouri researcher has discovered a bacterium that produces hydrogen, the fuel of the future. The Sintef researchers converted waste water into power using bacteria in an entirely natural process that delivers purified water. As the bacteria feed on waste water, they produce electrons and protons and the resulting voltage generates electricity. While the electricity generated is small, it ... is an environmentally friendly process where the end product is purified water. The team plans to scale up the process to generate the power needed for the water purification. "In simple terms, this type of fuel cell works because the bacteria consume the waste materials found in the water," explains Sintef researcher Luis Cesar Colmenares. The challenge was in finding the bacteria most suited for the job and the right mechanism. The researcher at Missouri University of Science and Technology has stumbled upon a bacterium that could help mass-produce hydrogen for fuel cells in the future. The "Halanaerobium hydrogeninformans" bacterium can produce hydrogen under saline and alkaline conditions, better than modified organisms and could be valuable industrially when the process is scaled up. Another end product of the hydrogen process ... finds application in products including composites, adhesives, laminates and coatings.
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Parkinson’s [is] a movement disorder that causes tremors, stiffness and balance problems. A 2008 meta-analysis found that placebos used in clinical trials of Parkinson’s treatments improved symptoms by an average of 16%. [A] team from the University of Cincinnati ... had a hunch that patients would be more responsive to a fake drug they thought was real if it came with a heftier price tag. So they recruited 12 patients with “moderately advanced” Parkinson’s and asked them to participate in a clinical trial. The study volunteers were told that there were two versions of the experimental drug and that both were believed to work equally well, [but] one version cost 15 times more than the other. In reality, both placebos were composed of the exact same saline solution. And yet, the patients perceived the expensive version to be more effective than the cheaper one, according to results published Wednesday in the journal Neurology. Both of the placebos improved motor function compared with a base line test. But when patients got the $1,500-per-dose placebo, their improvement was 9% greater than when they got the $100-per-dose placebo, the researchers reported. In another test, 67% of the patients were judged “very good” or having “marked improvement” after they took the expensive placebo, compared with 58% of patients after they took the purportedly cheap placebo.
Note: Even 58% experiencing "marked improvement" on the cheaper placebo is quite impressive! Why aren't more studies being done on the amazing and powerful affects of the placebo? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Findings from a new study published in Cancer by a Canadian group suggest that our mental state has measurable physical influence on ... our DNA. Dr. Linda E. Carlson and her colleagues found that in breast cancer patients, support group involvement and mindfulness meditation – an adapted form of Buddhist meditation in which practitioners focus on present thoughts and actions in a non-judgmental way ... are associated with preserved telomere length. Telomeres are stretches of DNA that cap our chromosomes and help prevent chromosomal deterioration. We want our telomeres intact. In Carlson’s study distressed breast cancer survivors were divided into three groups. The first group was randomly assigned to ... mindfulness meditation and yoga; the second to 12-weeks of group therapy; and the third was a control group, receiving just a 6-hour stress management course. Telomeres were maintained in both treatment groups but shortened in controls. Previous work hinted at this. More recent work looking at meditation reported similar findings. The biologic benefits of meditation in particular extend well beyond telomere preservation. Earlier work by Carlson found that ... mindfulness is associated with healthier levels of the stress hormone cortisol and a decrease in compounds that promote inflammation.
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There's a growing movement in America to train people to get around the stresses of daily life. It's a practice called "mindfulness" and it basically means being aware. Jon Kabat-Zinn is an MIT-trained scientist who's been practicing mindfulness for 47 years. Back in 1979, he started teaching mindfulness through meditation to people suffering from chronic pain and illness. That program is now used in more than 700 hospitals worldwide. Jon Kabat-Zinn: When your alarm goes off and you jump out of bed, what is the nature of the mind in that moment? Are you already like, "oh my God," your calendar pops into your mind and you're driven already, or can you take a moment and just lie in bed and just feel your body breathing. And remember, "oh yeah, brand new day and I'm still alive." So, I get out of bed with awareness, brush my teeth with awareness. When you're in the shower next time check and see if you're in the shower. You may not be. You may be in your first meeting at work. You may have 50 people in the shower with you. If you look at people out on the street, if you look at people at restaurants, nobody's having conversations anymore. They're sitting at dinner looking at their phone, because their brain is so addicted to it. So all of this is leading to a societal exhaustion. But if you're starting to think mindfulness is something you should start practicing, he says you may be missing the point.
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This month more than 300 LED lights were illuminated by the Dutch company Plant-e in a new energy project called “Starry Sky.” Although the bulbs were ordinary, the electricity running through them derived from a new process that harnesses the power of living plants. “Starry Sky” and a similar project an hour’s drive away, near Plant-e’s Wageningen headquarters, are the two first commercial installations of the company’s emerging technology ... fueled by the byproducts of living plants. Plant-e’s co-founder and CEO, Marjolein Helder, believes that this technology could be revolutionary. For decades, middle schoolers have been engineering clocks made from potatoes, which run on a similar principle. Plant-e’s technology is the first to produce electricity from plants without damaging them. Both projects that lit up the Netherlands this month involved native aquatic plants that were supplied by local greenhouses. The process involves plants growing in modules—two-square-foot plastic containers connected to other modules—where they undergo the process of photosynthesis and convert sunlight, air, and water into sugars. The plants use some of the sugars to grow, but they also discharge a lot of it back into the soil as waste. As the waste breaks down, it releases protons and electrons. Plant-e conducts electricity by placing electrodes into the soil.
A southern Alberta city got a little brighter today after hundreds of neon Post-it notes with inspiring hand-written messages started popping up at homes, shops and offices in Airdrie. The movement was started by a local high school student trying to fight off a bully. Caitlin Prater-Haacke had been sent a message on Facebook telling her to kill herself. Instead of replying to the message, Prater-Haacke took out a marker and some small pads of paper. She decided to fight back by posting positive messages on every locker in her school. "Little simple messages like, 'You're beautiful' [and] 'You shine bright like a diamond,'" she said. But officials at George McDougall High School didn't like the idea and told her it was littering, which didn't sit well with the community. City council then declared Oct. 9 as Positive Post-it Day. "What's come out of it is 100 times better," said Prater-Haacke, adding she can't believe the support she has received. The school is now filled with the sticky notes, and this time the school says the colourful messages can stay. But it wasn't just among students, as other Airdrie residents also embraced the movement. "I think it put a smile on everyone's face this morning and I think it gave them that little bit of extra oomph for the morning to get them going," said resident David Jones. The campaign has taken off online.
Of all the developed nations, few have pushed harder than Germany to find a solution to global warming. And towering symbols of that drive are appearing in the middle of the North Sea. They are wind turbines, standing as far as 60 miles from the mainland, stretching as high as 60-story buildings and costing up to $30 million apiece. On some of these giant machines, a single blade roughly equals the wingspan of the largest airliner in the sky, the Airbus A380. By year’s end, scores of new turbines will be sending low-emission electricity to German cities hundreds of miles to the south. It will be another milestone in Germany’s costly attempt to remake its electricity system, an ambitious project that has already produced striking results: Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources. Germany’s relentless push into renewable energy has implications far beyond its shores. By creating huge demand for wind turbines and especially for solar panels, it has helped lure big Chinese manufacturers into the market, and that combination is driving down costs faster than almost anyone thought possible just a few years ago. The changes have devastated its utility companies, whose profits from power generation have collapsed. The word the Germans use for their plan is starting to make its way into conversations elsewhere: energiewende, the energy transition. Worldwide, Germany is being held up as a model, cited by environmental activists as proof that a transformation of the global energy system is possible.”
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