Inspirational News StoriesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Stories in Major Media
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Sister Madonna Buder stood on the shore of People’s Pond at Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park on Saturday morning. She made the sign of the cross and said a small prayer just before diving in head first. Her journey sent her through one mile of water, 24 miles on a bike and six miles on foot. But this was not new to her. The Ellensburg Olympic Triathlon was not her first race. Buder ... did not develop a passion for running until she was 48 years old. By then she was heavily involved in the Catholic church after becoming a nun at the age of 23. Since she started training, she has competed in many events including the 1982 Boston Marathon and her first triathlon in Banbridge, Ireland. In 2006 she was the oldest woman ever to complete the Hawaiian Ironman and in 2014 was inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame. Having raced more than 325 triathlons, people are still amazed at her accomplishments. “She is an extraordinary accomplished person in general fitness,” said fellow Olympic Triathlon participant Vince Nethery. “She finished and was able to take care of business.” Buder has not only seen victories but also had to climb over some obstacles during her career. Over her 39 years of competing she has fractured her pelvis, torn her meniscus and broke her femur. Buder just celebrated her birthday on Sunday, and although she completed one more triathlon, she still wonders how she is still completing triathlons. “I don’t know,” Buder said. “You’ll have to ask God.”
The incurable Alzheimer’s disease may now have a cure. New research by the University of Manchester shows that the most common form of dementia can be fully cured with an anti-inflammatory drug, commonly used for period pain. Almost 7.5 million new cases of Alzheimer’s - a disease that causes acute problems with memory, thinking ability and behavior - diagnosed around the world every year. The [research] team, led by Dr. David Brough, worked with mice to find that a common Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) routinely used to relieve menstrual pain - mefenamic acid - completely reversed the inflammation of the brain and lost memory in the specimen. Mefenamic acid is available as a generic drug and is sold under a variety of brand names. For the study, 20 mice were genetically altered to exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Ten of these were treated with mefenamic acid by using a mini-pump under their skin for one month, while the other 10 mice were treated in the same way with a placebo. Researchers found that the mice treated with mefenamic acid saw a complete reversal of memory loss, while the placebo group’s condition remained unchanged. “There is experimental evidence now to strongly suggest that inflammation in the brain makes Alzheimer’s disease worse,” Brough said in a statement. However, trials on animals are not the same as human trials and may yield different results. If the proposed human trials prove to be promising, it won’t be long before the treatment reaches patients.
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When Anna Pesce was visiting her children in Wagener, SC, in November 2014, the then-85-year-old Orangeburg, NY, native almost collapsed trying to climb a set of stairs. “I had this horrible pain shooting up my back,” Pesce [said]. “I had to be carried up the stairs and put into a wheelchair for the rest of my stay.” For the past few decades, Pesce suffered from hunchbacklike posture - the result of a herniated disc, scoliosis and osteoporosis, which weakens the bones and can lead to curvature of the spine. Three months after her South Carolina visit, she began working with certified yoga instructor Rachel Jesien, [who] visited Pesce in her home once a week, teaching her restorative poses and stretches. After one month of sessions, Pesce was able to walk again. Yoga, done with the guidance of a back-care specialist, can strengthen bone density and muscles and alleviate back pain caused by osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and other conditions that affect the elderly. Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai Hospital, agrees that doing yoga poses can help some people manage painful back conditions. While Danesh recommends that people go to a physical therapist first for a proper diagnosis, he stresses that one-on-one care with a specialist is key. While older people may feel intimidated by yoga, Jesien says it’s worth seeking out a certified back-care instructor, and Pesce agrees. “I feel wonderful now because I can drive by myself and do the things I wasn’t able to do before,” Pesce says.
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Costco and organics seem increasingly intertwined these days. The Issaquah-based warehouse giant in recent years has become a dominant seller of organic produce. And now Costco’s co-founder and a top executive are investing in a planned restaurant chain ... that bills itself as the first fast-food restaurant to qualify as Certified Organic under U.S. Department of Agriculture rules. Costco co-founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal, along with Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti, are among the investors in The Organic Coup, which opened its first restaurant in November and has two locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Organic Coup ... was founded by former Costco execs Erica Welton and Dennis Hoover. The investment, as noted by Business Insider, will allow the chain to expand. Hoover said the plan is to open up to 10 locations this year, then decide how many to open next year. A location in the Seattle area is “on our target,” he said. The USDA itself does not certify restaurants as organic. But restaurants may apply to private or public certification agents to become USDA Organic-certified “handlers,” as Organic Coup is. Such handler certification means products sold as organic must have at least 95 percent certified organic content, and that the restaurant must prevent the mingling of organic with nonorganic products, and protect organic products from contact with prohibited substances.
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Buried beneath a bomb-damaged building [is] a secret library that provides learning, hope and inspiration to many in the besieged Damascus suburb of Darayya. "We saw that it was vital to create a new library so that we could continue our education. We put it in the basement to help stop it being destroyed by shells and bombs like so many other buildings here," says Anas Ahmad, a former civil engineering student who was one of the founders. The siege of Darayya by government and pro-Assad forces began nearly four years ago. Since then Anas and other volunteers, many of them also former students whose studies were brought to a halt by the war, have collected more than 14,000 books on just about every subject imaginable. Over the same period more than 2,000 people ... have been killed. But that has not stopped Anas and his friends scouring the devastated streets for more material to fill the library's shelves. The location of the library is secret because Anas and other users fear it would be targeted by Darayya's attackers if they knew where it was. "The library holds a special place in all our hearts. And every time there's shelling near the library we pray for it," says Omar Abu Anas, a former engineering student. "Books motivate us to keep on going. We read how in the past everyone turned their backs on a particular nation, yet they still made it. So we can be like that too." [Update] Within days of the publication of this story, Omar was killed on the front line during an attack by pro-Assad forces.
"Welcome to the Blockchain! Your voice is worth something," states a webpage of Steemit, the social network built on a blockchain that's now exploding with popularity. Steemit ... supports community building and social interaction through cryptocurrency rewards and a reputation or influence-based system, known as Steem Dollars and Steem Power. Ned Scott, CEO and co-founder of Steemit, told IBTimes: "If you think about the existing models - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - these are platforms that invite people to come and do all this work so that their shareholders, who are not necessarily contributors make all this money. "Our platform is a cooperative version of a social network which is more intuitive, and a more shared, community-driven approach, and that's why our early user base is growing. We are completely open source." Steemit grew out of a long process set in motion by gifted developer and co-founder, Daniel Larimer. It evolved from the idea of a decentralised exchange ... to a later exploration of blockchain-based mutual aid and micro-insurance, with a forum added for users to interact and compare notes. It does away with traditional cryptocurrency barriers to entry, like having to go and buy coins at an exchange. Scott said everyone is rewarded one way or another. People who post content actually get rewarded [with Steem, a currency whose value] is split between tradability and reputation. Steem is currently the third most valuable cryptocurrency in the world.
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It's a dirty little secret in the food industry that plenty of goods wind up in the trash. As the world's population grows, so does the pressure to tackle the problem. This week, Italy passed new measures to curb food waste. It will now be easier for businesses to donate surplus food and easier for customers to request a "doggy bag" in restaurants - currently not a widespread practice in Italy. There's also an emerging business model that can help take a bite out of food waste. It involves rescuing leftovers and peddling them to consumers at a discount. In 2014, consulting firm Value Chain Management calculated that more than $31 billion worth of food is wasted every year in Canada. Josh Domingues in Toronto ... recently quit his six-figure finance job on Bay Street to create an app called Flashfood. It will connect Toronto food vendors selling leftover food at a discount with customers. Domingues felt he had little choice but to switch careers after his sister, who works as a chef, complained about an epic food waste incident. He did his research and discovered that along with restaurants tossing food, grocers sometimes throw out goods days before they hit their "best before" date. "There's no easy way to connect these food companies directly to the [consumer]," says Domingues. His app, he explains, will help bridge that gap. None of the food sold on Flashfood will have actually passed its "best before" date. Domingues wants to make Flashfood available across Canada and eventually expand to other countries.
This week's Invisibilia podcast [explores] what happens when people flip the script, responding to situations in ways that are completely unexpected. We tend to respond to aggression with aggression, kindness with kindness. Usually that works just fine. But sometimes turning 180 degrees can change the world. Think Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. In this Invisibilia excerpt on NPR's Morning Edition, we tell the tale of a mellow Washington, D.C., dinner party that was suddenly interrupted by a man with a gun. "Give me your money," the man said. Or he would start shooting. The diners tried to persuade him to back off, but the situation was getting increasingly tense. Then a woman named Christina did something simple yet extraordinary. And that changed everything.
Note: Don't miss the profound video simulation of this most amazing event at the link above. You will be very surprised at how this potentially terrifying event completely turned around. This is how we change the world!
After seeing his wife tear up watching someone on television use a flash mob to propose, Carl Gilbertson made a mental note to do something similar for their 10th anniversary. He pulled off the feat and a video of the accomplishment is now making viewers around the world tear up along with Gilbertson's wife, Laura, who has multiple sclerosis. Gilbertson ... recruited students from a local performing arts college to serenade Laura as part of a flash mob that sang "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars. "When we met, although having MS, she was fully able bodied, worked as a children's nurse and we'd been together for a little while before she even told me, because it no [was] big deal," Gilbertson, 38, explained. "So the song was important only in the sense that I wanted her to know that no matter what may change, I love her just as she is and that to me she's perfect." The couple met 15 years ago. Although Laura experienced occasional MS relapses back then, "she always bounced back," Gilbertson said. Shortly after the Gilbertsons returned from their honeymoon, Laura experienced a serious relapse that was more difficult to recover from. A few months later, she retired from work and began using a wheelchair. "I guess I wanted to make a fuss of our 10th anniversary because she's been so brave in fighting back," he said. The video shows her getting overcome by emotion, particularly by the end of the song when the group unrolls a banner that says, "Happy Anniversary Laura."
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It’s often smarter to borrow from nature than reinvent the wheel. That was the approach of researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and convert it into an efficient, inexpensive fuel. The result: an artificial leaf that turns CO2 into fuel, "at a cost comparable to a gallon of gasoline" could render fossil fuel obsolete, according to the researchers. The “leaf” is one of a growing number of inventions that mimic photosynthesis to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere, and convert it into new, sustainable forms of energy to power our world. “The new solar cell is not photovoltaic - it’s photosynthetic,” said [the study’s lead author] Amin Salehi-Khojin. “Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight." The concept of reduction reaction - converting CO2 into a burnable form of carbon - isn’t new. But scientists previously relied on silver and other expensive precious metals to break gas into storable energy. UIC researchers took a different approach. When light strikes the "leaf," hydrogen and carbon monoxide bubble from the cathode, while free oxygen and hydrogen ions are released from the anode. Leafs could be spread throughout a solar farm, or used in smaller applications, the researchers said.
With more than 1 million apps in the Apple and Android stores, it would be easy to assume we are nearing the limit of developers to come up with new creations. That would be a mistake. The latest example: Apps aimed at fighting human trafficking. Yes, they exist and more are emerging as social entrepreneurs attempt to use technology to battle what they see as the forces of evil. A group of government agencies and private foundations calling themselves Partnership for Freedom has set up a competition with the not-so-catchy name “Rethink Supply Chains” challenge. What is grabbing attention is $500,000 in prize money that will be awarded for the best technology solutions to combat the use of slave labor. Rising awareness among global companies of labor abuses and new laws requiring steps to ensure fair labor practices across supply chains are spurring a new industry for technologies that help them enforce supplier rules. Existing apps already help consumers get an idea of the scope of human trafficking. Made in a Free World, for example, created the Slavery Footprint app that generates estimates of an individual’s reliance on slave labor from data on trafficked humans and labor-abuse rates at manufacturers and suppliers. Justin Dillon, chief executive officer of Made in a Free World, is not shy about telling people that for all his efforts, his lifestyle still requires 47 slave laborers - a number he’s determined to get to zero. “That’s what drives me,” he says.
Do you think a 13-year-old could change the world? Max Loughan could be the one to do it. When we interviewed him, Max was wearing his lab coat ... in his parent's old boiler room, which has been converted into a lab. He ponders the future often. "The future that I imagine is the future, frankly we all imagine." He wants to make the world a better place, and to do that, Max believes you need one single thing: "If you got energy, you have power, you have everything." So to solve this problem, a few months ago, Max took the matter into his own hands. He created an electromagnetic harvester out of a coffee can, some wire, two coils, and a spoon. "This cost me 14 bucks," Max said. The harvester conducts radio waves, thermal, and static energy, and turns it into electricity. "This wire takes energy from the air." And the inside the coffee can, "We turn it from AC to DC." We took the device outside, and wrapped Max's twin brother, Jack, in a string of L.E.D. lights. Max connects the lights to the harvester, and sure enough, they turned on. His device clearly works. A $14.00 invention was able to do that. So imagine this same harvester on a scale 20 times larger. "As cheesy as this sounds, from day one, on this planet that I knew I was put here for a reason," said Max. "And that reason is to invent, to bring the future."
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The Chicago-based program Becoming A Man is the type that allows rival gang members to sit together, just days after one group killed a member of the other, and calmly talk about their issues, according to John Wolf, senior manager of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab. “They were talking through ways of finding peace and ways of making sure it didn’t escalate further,” [Wolf said]. For the past few years, Wolf and his colleagues have been studying the impact of the Becoming A Man program, which targets at-risk male students in Chicago public schools. The program, run by the non-profit organization Youth Guidance, allows students to participate in weekly group sessions that teach them how to be more conscious of their decision-making processes. A recent two-year evaluation of the program showed that between 2013 and 2015, there was a 50 percent decline in violent crime arrests for the 2,000 participants as compared to a control group. The program does not tell students how to behave, or instruct them as to the “right” thing to do, instead [emphasizing] only that the students carefully consider their decisions instead of rushing to act. BAM says its approach is cost-effective: Every dollar invested in the program is projected to return up to $30 in societal gains as a result of crime reduction. Also, because the program increases graduation rates of participants by 19 percent, it will likely produce additional long-term economic gains.
David Wheeler is trying to build a business based on honesty, including the fact that his business isn't exactly booming. Wheeler ... launched a dating site in 2014 that encourages users to post both flattering and unflattering photos of themselves and to list their flaws alongside their assets. "We're trying to build a community of honesty, so people can be themselves," Wheeler, 31, told me. But business is a bit slow. "What we're hearing from a lot of people is they love the concept, but they might log on ... and only have 10 members nearby, where Match has a million in every single city." A slight exaggeration, but Match.com does have 2.4 million paid subscribers. A record number of Americans are single after all, and the percentage of those singles using dating websites continues to grow, especially among young people. Wheeler has tried plenty of them himself. "I've been on Match, OK Cupid, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony," he said. "And I met some really good people. I just feel like the honesty in the relationships came out a lot later on those sites. I always wished you were more encouraged to be yourself." So he and his business partner, Jacob Thompson, launched Settle For Love, which just recently became available as an app for Apple and Android. The site and app are both free. Users are encouraged to list their "imperfections" alongside their "perfections" in their profiles. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So why not put the real you out there from the beginning and see whom you attract?
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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Dozens of American restaurant chains, supermarket chains and dining service companies have committed in the last two years to ending their use or sales of eggs laid by caged hens. On Monday, one of the world’s largest food service suppliers, Paris-based Sodexo, upped the ante, saying it would switch to cage-free eggs in all its global operations by 2025. The announcement by a major international company is a sign that the rapid shift in the United States to cage-free eggs, led by consumers but long championed by animal rights activists, is going more global. It came after talks with animal rights groups, as well as an international animal rights coalition recently formed by The Humane League, a small American farm animal rights organization that has driven several U.S. companies’ pledges to swear off eggs from caged hens. In February 2015, Sodexo became one of the first large companies to commit to a totally cage-free egg future. [The announcement] was followed by a string of other similar corporate pledges. In the United States, increasing consumer concern about how animals are raised for food has driven demand for meat and poultry that is free-range, antibiotics-free, grass-fed and otherwise perceived as healthier or more humane. Last month, Perdue, the country’s third-largest chicken producer, announced that it would change the way it raises and slaughters chickens, including by giving them more exposure to natural light, in response to customers’ animal welfare concerns.
North Dakotans on Tuesday soundly rejected a law enacted last year that changed decades of family-farming rules in the state by allowing corporations to own and operate dairy and hog farms. Some 75 percent of North Dakotans who went to the ballot box voted to repeal Senate Bill 2351. The law ... exempted dairy and swine production from the state's Depression-era corporate farming prohibition. The North Dakota Farmers Union and other groups that collected signatures to put the referendum on the ballot said family farmers cannot compete with large agricultural firms with no ties to the communities where they operate. Corporate and foreign control of U.S. farmland has been a hot-button issue in several major agricultural states in recent years. State laws prohibiting corporations and foreign entities from owning U.S. farmland complicated a $4.7 billion acquisition in 2013 of U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods by China's Shuanghui International. The deal ultimately closed. This February, a U.S. district judge issued an injunction barring Nebraska officials from enforcing the state's ban on farmland ownership by corporations. North Dakota, with about 740,000 residents, has a heavily agricultural economy. It is one of nine states that have laws limiting corporate farming, according to the National Agricultural Law Center. The North Dakota law says farming or ranching companies must have no more than 15 shareholders or members who must belong to the same family, to a distance of first cousins.
Our area is considered a food desert by the USDA: local residents can’t buy healthy food within walking distance, and four in ten don’t own cars. You could buy all the junk food and fried fish you wanted, but you couldn’t buy an apple, orange or banana. I found myself giving people rides to the grocery store, and I started thinking, ‘This would be a lot easier if people could grow their own food.’ We started gardening with one bed, 16 feet by 16 feet, and 10 kids, growing tomatoes and potatoes. The children were so excited. It was like magic for them. And sometimes, it was magic for me, too. The garden began as the project of an urban studies grad student and continued under the leadership of University of Illinois Master Gardeners. But in 2006, the garden faced foreclosure. No one wanted to continue. I knew what it meant, so I became the volunteer steward, and the Randolph Street Community Garden was born. To fund the garden, I took a part-time job at FedEx. We have 65 beds now. When people come to church for food assistance, their eyes light up at the sight of fresh tomatoes, beans and potatoes. I recruit them to become gardeners and offer them a bed of their own to plant. Now we have families growing their own vegetables, and community members purchasing affordable food at our marketplace. More than 1,800 people received fresh produce, and we gave away more than 4,000 pounds of surplus prepared foods. We have a lot of divisions in our community, but in the garden everyone is the same.
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the U.S. Navy was wrongly allowed to use sonar that could harm whales and other marine life. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision upholding approval granted in 2012 for the Navy to use low-frequency sonar for training, testing and routine operations. The five-year approval covered peacetime operations in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. Sonar, used to detect submarines, can injure whales, seals, dolphins and walruses and disrupt their feeding and mating. The 2012 rules adopted by the National Marine Fisheries Service permitted Navy sonar use to affect about 30 whales and two dozen pinnipeds, marine mammals with front and rear flippers such as seals and sea lions, each year. The Navy was required to shut down or delay sonar use if a marine mammal was detected near the ship. Loud sonar pulses also were banned near coastlines and in certain protected waters. Environmental groups, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, filed a lawsuit in San Francisco in 2012, arguing that the approval violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The appellate court ruled 3-0 that the approval rules failed to meet a section of the protection act requiring peacetime oceanic programs to have "the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammals." The panel concluded that the fisheries service "did not give adequate protection to ... the world's oceans."
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Leave it to Germany to build a bicycle autobahn that connects 10 cities within its borders. The goal? To take some 50,000 vehicles off the actual highways and make commuting by bike a much easier - and safer - proposition. The idea was sparked six years ago when a cultural project caused the one-day closure of the road between Duisburg and Dortmund and more than three million people flooded the road on bikes, skates, and feet. Last December, Germany’s first stretch of bike highway opened for business between Mülheim an der Ruhr and Essen. Eventually, the Radschnellweg will link 10 cities and four universities with 62 miles of bike highway. The bikeways - and parallel pedestrian paths - are completely separated from the vehicle lanes, with a 13-foot width, tunnels, lights, and snow clearing because safety and accessibility issues are two of the biggest obstacles to biking. Coupled with Europe’s blossoming affection for electric bikes and Germany’s proximity between cities, the Radschnellweg stands to attract a new wave of pedal-powered commuters. Of course, the Germans are only the latest to enter the bike highway fray. The Netherlands started building its network of bikeways 10 years ago and continue to expand it, while Denmark focused its efforts on Copenhagen. Norway will soon be getting in on the action too with bikeways connecting nine cities.
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