Inspirational News StoriesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Stories in Major Media
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With New York poised to start offering a tuition-free college education for some students, public colleges may be worth a closer look. New York lawmakers approved the tuition initiative this weekend as part of the state budget. Under the plan - which New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed in January - the state will supplement aid for in-state residents whose families earn $125,000 or less, providing tuition-free education at all state public two- and four-year colleges. "College ... should always be an option even if you can't afford it," Gov. Cuomo said in a statement on the program's inclusion in the state budget. "The Excelsior Scholarship will make college accessible to thousands of working and middle class students and shows the difference that government can make." The program will phase in over three years, starting in the fall of 2017 for New Yorkers earning up to $100,000 and increasing to $110,000 in 2018. The state expects it to benefit an estimated 940,000 families. Eligible New Yorkers will still be on the hook for room and board and other expenses. Among other scholarship requirements, students must also agree to live and work in New York for the same number of years after graduation as they received the scholarship.
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It all started when roommates Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo realized that the lumps in their couch's pillows were actually envelopes stuffed with money. They'd bought the couch for $20 at a Salvation Army store. "It had these bubble wrap envelopes," Werkhoven [said]. "We ripped them out and [found] like an inch and a half of $100 bills." The discovery was like a dream for the three friends. As they counted the money, they talked about what they might do with it; Werkhoven says he wanted to buy his mom a new car. But then they spotted a name among the envelopes, and realized they were faced with an ethical puzzle. "We had a lot of moral discussions about the money," Russo [said]. "We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to. A phone number led them to the family that had donated the couch - and to answers about why it was full of money. It turned out that the money was socked away out of [a] woman's late husband's concerns that he wouldn't always be there for his wife (she has chosen to remain anonymous). It represented decades of savings, including wages from the woman's job as a florist. For years, she also slept on the couch. But recent back problems led her daughter and son-in-law to replace it with a bed, meaning that the couch had to go. "This was her life savings and she actually said something really beautiful, like 'This is my husband looking down on me and this was supposed to happen,' " Guasti [said].
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Several people in our community swear by earthing - also called grounding - for everything from inflammation and arthritis to insomnia and depression. Longtime earthing-movement leader Clint Ober explains: "The simplest and most natural method of grounding is to go outdoors and place your bare feet and hands directly on the earth—many people choose to go for a barefoot walk in the park or on the beach. For people who don’t have safe access to a place to walk barefoot (or for whom it’s inconvenient to do so for long periods of time), there are grounded mats that allow people to work grounded, with their bare feet placed on the mat. When I started grounding myself, the first noticeable effect was that I slept much better. Eventually I met Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a New York-based cardiologist, who wanted to look into the effect of grounding on inflammation. Since then, we’ve found that grounding improves sleep, reduces chronic pain, and speeds healing. In fact, many professional athletes sleep grounded, as it reduces pain and facilitates quicker recovery for sore muscles. Grounding greatly reduces blood viscosity, particularly after exercise, in part helping to counteract exercise-induced inflammation. As of today, there are twenty-one ... published studies examining the health benefits of earthing. We currently have [another] study underway at the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, which is designed to measure the effects of body-workers’ inflammation and health as a result of being grounded during work.
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Kevin Butt's job is to find cleaner ways to power Toyota. One of the hardest places to do that is at the automaker's sprawling plant in central Kentucky, a state where nearly 90 percent of electricity still comes from coal. A few years ago, Toyota decided that by 2050 all of its operations, all around the world, should be zero-carbon. It's part of a larger business shift. In Kentucky, General Motors, Ford, Walmart, L'Oreal and others also have big goals to reduce emissions. "There's not enough renewable energy being manufactured right now for all of us to do what we say we want to do," Butt says. "The future is renewables and the large corporations that want renewables," says Jim Gardner, who used to regulate power companies as a member of Kentucky's Public Service Commission. Two years ago, Gardner was struck by an encounter with a local man who worked remotely for Facebook. He told Gardner that big corporations were actually deciding where to expand based on where they could get renewable energy. "He made it seem like there was ... a list with a lot of states with big X's marked in," says Gardner, "so that Facebook and others were not looking because [some states] were not going to be open to renewables." The Public Service Commission worried the state was missing out. It quietly issued an official statement — "a clear signal to people outside of the state," says Gardner - that if a big customer wanted renewable energy, Kentucky's utilities could cut a special deal to provide it.
In 60 cities in India, 16,876 tons of plastic waste are generated each day. More than 6 million tons of plastic ... end up in landfills a year. Such figures were keeping Medha Tadpatrikar awake at night. She was also deeply troubled by an incident she had witnessed on a safari in India – a deer choking on a plastic packet that it had swallowed. “I realized how big this plastic problem is and how every creature on this earth is affected by it,” she says of the incident. So Dr. Tadpatrikar resolved to find a way to make plastic waste useful. She and Shirish Phadtare started experimenting in Tadpatrikar’s kitchen. “Plastic is made of crude oil, and we wanted to reverse the process to get usable oil,” Tadpatrikar explains. This experimenting duo has come up with an operation in the Pune, India, area that benefits the environment in several ways. They are indeed producing fuel, using a process that doesn’t emit toxic gases. And by pressing plastic waste into service, they’re reducing the amount of plastic headed toward landfills. Moreover, the oil itself is eco-friendly – a better choice than some of the other fuels that villagers living near Pune use. “Much cheaper than any other fuel in the market, this one is used in cooking stoves, in generators, and even to run tractors,” explains Tadpatrikar. The fuel ... is carefully collected in bottles, and it’s sold to people in 122 villages around Pune at a subsidized rate of 38 rupees (53 cents) per liter.
Note: Similar technology has been developed numerous times around the world, yet somehow the technology is not widely embraced. Could it be that big money doesn't want this to happen? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The last weekend of June every year for 37 years has been given over to the running of the Western States 100 Mile Trail Run, the premier endurance running race in the world. It starts [in] Squaw Valley and ends ... in Auburn, California, 100 miles distant with a cumulative altitude gain of 15,000 feet and a 22,000 foot descent. The lead runners take about 16 hours to finish. In comparison running a marathon is trivial. Thirty seven years ago my wife Ruth Anne and I created prizes for the oldest male and female finishers as a celebration of the human potential. 3500 masochists apply, 350 gain a lottery start, 280 finish, the ultimate goal is to finish under 24 hours which is rewarded by a silver buckle, the second prize is finishing under 30 hours and a bronze buckle. Last year, 2015, was Ruth Anne’s last hurrah. Her Alzheimer’s disease was brutal, she scarcely knew what was going. She died three weeks later, but she was there to join in the ecstasy as Gunhild Swanson became the first woman over 70 years of age to win a buckle. This year the joint was jumping as 72-year-old Wally Hesseltine hoped to be the oldest ever finisher. He made the finish in thirty hours and one minute. I presented our awards to the oldest female and male as usual. But I gave an extra shout out to Bruce Labelle, 60 years of age who finished nobly just as he had 35 years before. Any youngster can do the 100 mile race and keep it up once or twice, but for a 60-year-old to keep it up for 35 years should be celebrated and emulated.
Note: Watch a 12-minute video of 72-year-old Wally Hesseltine's attempt to complete 100 miles in 30 hours. Wow!!!
A study led by The University of Western Australia has found plants have far more complex and developed senses than we thought with the ability to detect and respond to sounds to find water, and ultimately survive. In the study "Tuned in: plant roots use sound to locate water" ... UWA researchers found that plants can sense sound vibrations from running water moving through pipes or in the soil, to help their roots move towards the source of water. The study also revealed that plants do not like certain noises and will move away from particular sounds. Lead researcher Dr Monica Gagliano ... said water was a basic need for a plant's survival, and the study showed that sound plays a significant role in helping plants cater to this need. "We used the common garden pea plant ... as the model for our study and [gave] it a choice of two directions for the growth of its roots. "We then exposed the plant to a series of sounds, including white noise, running water and then a recording of running water under each tube, and observed its behaviour. The plants could tell where the source of the water was and their root systems grew towards that source. "The plant could actually tell when the sound of running water was a recording and when it was real and that the plant did not like the recorded sound." When moisture was readily available in the soil, the plant did not respond to the sound of running water. "From this we begin to see the complexity of plant interactions with sound in using it to make behavioural decisions," Dr Gagliano said.
The mind and body regulate breathing and vice versa at the cellular level. More than 25 years ago, researchers ... discovered a small bundle of about 3,000 interlinked neurons inside the brainstems of animals, including people, that seem to control most aspects of breathing. They dubbed these neurons the breathing pacemaker. Recently, a group of scientists ... began using sophisticated new genetics techniques to study individual neurons in the pacemaker. They eventually identified about 65 different types of neurons ... with a unique responsibility for regulating some aspect of breathing. For the newest study... researchers carefully disabled [a] type of breathing-related neuron in mice. Afterward, the animals at first seemed unchanged. But when the mice were placed in unfamiliar cages, which normally would incite jittery exploring and lots of nervous sniffing - a form of rapid breathing - the animals instead sat serenely grooming themselves. “They were, for mice, remarkably chill,” says Dr. Mark Krasnow, a professor of biochemistry at Stanford who oversaw the research. It turned out that the particular neurons in question showed direct biological links to a portion of the brain that is known to be involved in arousal. This area sends [directs] us to wake up, be alert and, sometimes, become anxious or frantic. In the mellow mice, this area of the brain remained quiet. The implication of this work ... is that taking deep breaths is calming because it does not activate the neurons that communicate with the brain’s arousal center.
Sex trafficking wasn't a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice. Jacobs thought that too ... until [a] violent pimp forced [her] to work as a sex slave. The awareness of sex trafficking has changed a lot since then. Just last year, an old motor home parked at a truck stop caught the eye of trucker Kevin Kimmel. "I saw a guy go in it," Kimmel says. "And then I saw what I thought was a young girl peek out and be abruptly pulled back from the window." Kimmel called the police - and ended weeks of ... forced prostitution for the victim. Kylla Lanier says that Kimmel's actions "epitomizes the mission" of her group, Truckers Against Trafficking. She founded the group with her mother and three sisters a few years ago. "Trafficking happens everywhere," Lanier says. "It's happening in homes, in conference centers, at schools, casinos, truck stops, hotels, motels, everywhere. You know, it's an everywhere problem, but truckers happen to be everywhere." And these days TAT stickers, wallet cards and posters - showing a phone number for a sex trafficking hotline - are becoming ubiquitous in the trucking industry. TAT teaches drivers to try to spot sullen, hopeless-looking children, teens and young adults. Jacobs managed to escape her life of forced prostitution. Now she counsels other survivors and works with TAT. Calls to the hotline [promoted by TAT] have freed hundreds of trafficking victims.
Note: Watch this inspiring video to see how these truckers are saving lives.
British Columbia on Monday unveiled a historic agreement to protect a massive swath of rainforest along its coastline, having reached a deal that marries the interests of First Nations, the logging industry and environmentalists after a decade of often-tense negotiations. Under the agreement, about 85 percent of forest within the Great Bear Rainforest would be protected. The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the world's largest temperate rainforests and the habitat of the Spirit Bear, a rare subspecies of the black bear with white fur and claws. It is also home to 26 Aboriginal groups, known as First Nations. The Great Bear rainforest ... covers 6.4 million hectares of the province's coast. More than half its surface is forest, including 2.3 million hectares of old growth. In the 1990s, frustrated over what they saw as destructive forestry practices ... First Nations partnered with environmentalists to fight back against logging companies, blockading roads and protesting. By the early 2000s, environmental groups and industry players ... had started talks. At the same time, the government began negotiating with the Coastal First Nations. The final agreements [come] nearly two years after a landmark Supreme Court decision that granted title to a vast swath of British Columbia's interior to the Tsilhqot'in First Nations, who had gone to court to stop logging in their traditional lands. That decision has bolstered First Nations across the province, who now have a legal precedent for fighting development.
Tony Robbins won't be jumping on the meditation craze any time soon. Instead, the energetic entrepreneur ... engages in a series of mindfulness and breathing exercises that he says "prime" him to be more grateful throughout the day. Simply put, "priming" is the concept that experiences, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, impact our perceptions of the world around us. If it's so easy to change the ways we see the world around us, Robbins wondered, why not prime ourselves to more readily experience gratitude? Robbins achieves this with a simple daily routine that he breaks into three three-minute segments: 1. He focuses on something very simple that makes him feel grateful, like the wind in his face or a child's smile. 2. He devotes three minutes to prayer. During this time he "sends energy" to his family, coworkers and others. 3. He completes "three to thrive," taking the final three minutes of his routine to identify three results he's committed to achieving. While he sometimes repeats a step or continues the routine for a longer period of time, the whole circuit takes less than 10 minutes - something, he says, that should be manageable for anyone in any phase of life or career. In addition to preparing him for the day, Robbins says setting aside a few minutes to focus on gratitude has long-term results as well. The two emotions that cause individuals to make poor investing or life choices are anger and fear. Gratitude can help alleviate the effects of both.
Cathy Byrd’s 2-year-old son, Christian Haupt, was a baseball prodigy who spent countless hours pitching and hitting balls. In her new memoir, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, Byrd shares an ... improbable story that even she had trouble believing at first: She claims that Christian was the reincarnation of baseball legend Lou Gehrig, who played for the Yankees nearly a century ago. Byrd had not believed in reincarnation. But she says she began to explore it based on the statements Christian makes about Gehrig’s life. Still too young to read, and not exposed to any baseball lore from his non-baseball-fan family, Byrd writes that Christian shared baseball history he could not possibly have known. When Christian sees a photo of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Byrd says that her son declared: “they didn’t talk to each other.” Byrd discovers it was true. “There was no reasonable explanation ... I found myself straddling the great divide between logic and intuition,” writes Byrd, a practicing Catholic. “The concept of reincarnation was diametrically opposed to my rational thoughts and my religious beliefs, yet my heart was telling me not to ignore what Christian was ... trying to tell me.” Byrd also seeks help along the way from [professor] Jim B. Tucker, M.D., author of Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives. It was during a meeting with Tucker that Christian delivers the ... news that he chose Byrd to be his mother when she was born. When Tucker asks Christian when he picked Byrd, [he replied], “In the sky.”
Orchestra Noir is an all-black orchestra founded by Atlanta resident Jason Ikeem Rodgers less than a year ago. Rodgers has worked with various orchestras in North America and Europe for years, receiving several awards. But the idea for Orchestra Noir didn’t come while he was on a stage. It came ... while attending an Emerging 100 of Atlanta event with his now-fiancée. Rodgers began to reflect on the black middle class in Atlanta. “I was really shocked because being from the projects [in North Philly] and growing up rough, there was a different demographic here,” he said. “At that moment ... I said we need an orchestra here in Atlanta that reflects that demographic.” The group’s website emphasizes they aren’t striving to be a traditional orchestra. Instead Orchestra Noir strives to raise “the invisible curtain and [bring] classical music to diverse, younger audiences that is relevant and respectful of their community.” “In orchestral music, sometimes we forget the heritage that goes into it. We forget that you can play R&B [and] hip-hop with an orchestra,” Rodgers said. The orchestra has come a long way since launching with 25 musicians last March during a performance at Studio No. 7, now nearly double in size. A 44-piece orchestra will perform in concert alongside ... Bryan-Michael Cox on March 31. Cox, who has nine Grammys ... said he was looking for a way to blend his work as a songwriter, producer and DJ when the orchestra approached him with the idea to collaborate.
Last weekend’s sunny weather was not only good for beers, barbecues and bees, but also drove solar power to break a new UK record. For the first time ever, the amount of electricity demanded by homes and businesses in the afternoon on Saturday was lower than it was in the night, because solar panels on rooftops and in fields cut demand so much. National Grid, which runs the transmission network, described the moment as a “huge milestone”. The company sees the solar power generated on the distribution networks – or local roads of the system – as reduced electricity demand. The sunshine meant that solar power produced six times more electricity than the country’s coal-fired power stations on Saturday. Duncan Burt, who manages daily operations at National Grid, said: “Demand being lower in the afternoon than overnight really is turning the hard and fast rules of the past upside down.” Electricity demand usually peaks around 4pm to 6pm at this time of year. The solar industry hailed the landmark. A spokeswoman for the Solar Trade Association said: “This milestone shows the balance of power is shifting, quite literally, away from the old centralised ‘coal-by-wire’ model into the hands of householders, businesses and communities all over the UK who want their own clean solar power.” Solar power installations grew dramatically in 2014 and 2015. An independent report, commissioned by the STA, found the UK’s power network could handle four times more solar capacity than there was today.
We live in a time of massive, unprecedented trade: Goods, information and money all flow across borders almost seamlessly (people, of course, are another matter). While this new era of trade has brought immense prosperity to many ... this transfer of commodities tends to benefit only a tiny sliver of the global population, and the trade system has yet to address this. Those who farm cocoa, palm oil, or soy profit little from global commodity prices or access to new markets – instead, they are often forced to sell for less or be forced out of the market. This applies to workers as well, such as the hundreds of thousands working on palm oil plantations in Indonesia, the majority of whom are contract laborers who see few benefits from the multibillion-dollar palm oil trade. The Fair Trade movement started as a response to this global trade paradigm that focused too much on profits and not people. Their goal was to tilt the balance toward farmers and workers, if even just a bit, ensuring they got a decent living. The Fair Trade model proved successful, but it still only operates at the margins. Those of us living in well-off communities can afford the higher premiums of Fair Trade coffee, chocolate and tea, but the vast majority of people ... cannot. This means that, despite the growth of Fair Trade, inequality is getting worse overall. Fair Trade needs to become more than a niche – it needs to grow into the norm, a true alternative. And all of us – the media, companies, and, yes, the 1 percent, all need to play our role.
We’re all wired for kindness. We act kindly because we know instinctively it’s the right thing to do, and believe the world could do with more kindness. A network of relationships sustained by kindness can benefit us all, both physically and psychologically. It can slow the effects of ageing too. People under stress tend to be more prone to infections and disease. As we get older, the immune system weakens. But studies have shown that both giving and receiving kindness boosts the immune system. A positive attitude to life’s stressors helps us recover faster from illness and strengthens our ability to fight off disease. Kindness can even slow the formation of wrinkles. Groups of unstable molecules called free radicals produce something called oxidative stress in the body, which causes nasty physiological reactions, including hardening of the arteries and memory loss. It also leads to visible signs of ageing. But being kind produces a substance called oxytocin, often known as the ‘love hormone’, as we make more of it when we feel love, share positive contact and have sex. The less oxytocin we have, the more free radicals we get. A study at the University of California, Riverside, [asked] volunteers ... to perform five acts of kindness a week for six weeks. These included donating blood, paying for someone’s parking or visiting an elderly relative. Using established measurements of happiness, psychologists found those who performed the kind acts became happier, while a control group who didn’t, well, didn’t.
Note: The above article was adapted by Alison Roberts from the book "The Five Side Effects Of Kindness" by Dr David Hamilton. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Twenty some years ago David Milarch hovered above the bed, looking down at his motionless body. Years of alcoholism had booted him out of his life. An inexplicable cosmic commandment would return him to it. His improbable charge? To clone the world's champion trees - the giants that had survived millennia and would be unvanquished by climate change. Experts said it couldn't be done. Fast-forward to today, and Milarch is now the keeper of a Noah's Ark filled with the genetics for repopulating the world's most ancient trees. Founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive he is on a mission to restore the lungs of the planet. "Spend a couple of days in an old-growth forest, you'll come out different from when you went in. Those trees affect our physical, mental and especially our spiritual bodies. And I do believe that anyone, everyone can learn to communicate with them," [said Milarch]. "98% of the old-growth forests in the US are gone. We didn't even study those trees. We didn't know what they did for the quality of life on earth - the water, air, shade. In Jim Robbins’ book, "The Man Who Planted Trees," he writes about the new science of trees and what roles they play for all living things on earth. #1. Trees talk to all the other trees, not only in the forest, but also over great distances. #2. Trees feel and register pain, and they express that pain, and other trees pick it up #3. There are critically important aerosols that come out of the needles and leaves of trees that prevent endemic diseases from spreading over the planet.
For three years, Victor Hubbard stood on a street corner - rain or shine - waiting for his mom to come back and get him. Every day, residents of Kemah, Texas, passed the man. Ginger Sprouse ... was admittedly one of those people. She probably saw Hubbard at least four times a day. Each time, she wondered why he was there. One day, in late December, she finally decided to roll down her window and ask. Hubbard began to talk about his history, explaining that his mom left him, he’s been battling mental illness and he doesn’t have a place to live. Sprouse felt for the man, and decided to share his story with the world - on a Facebook page called “This is Victor.” Slowly but surely, the page started to take off. Dozens of people volunteered to help the man, and Sprouse led the charge. She cooked meals, washed clothes, helped him set up appointments with a mental health professional and welcomed him into her home. “I’m so overwhelmed by the compassion by people,” said Sprouse, as others volunteered to help. A few days later, she created a GoFundMe page, encouraging people to donate to help the “sweet, gentle man” get back on his feet. Within two months, Hubbard received more than $14,700 in donations. Fast forward three months later, nearly 9,000 people now follow “This is Victor” on Facebook to receive updates on his progress. He recently landed a job as a cook in Sprouse’s [food service company]. He can’t help but wear a big smile on his face. “She came around and she kind of saved me,” Hubbard [said].
The newest resident of "Sesame Street" has orange hair and a fondness for her toy rabbit. She also has autism. Julia has been a part of the "Sesame Street" family via its storybooks and was so popular that the decision was made to add the character to the TV series. "I think the big discussion right at the start was, 'How do we do this? How do we talk about autism?,'" one of the show's writers, Christine Ferraro, told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl. Over the almost five decades "Sesame Street" has been on the air, it has established a reputation for inclusion with its characters. Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the founders of the Children's Television Workshop which developed "Sesame Street," said it has also not been afraid to deal with real life issues. Julia's debut episode will deal with what autism can look like. The brain disorder can make it difficult for people with autism to communicate with and relate to others. The character of Big Bird talked to Stahl about his first interaction with Julia in which she ignored him. "I thought that maybe she didn't like me," he said. "Yeah, but you know, we had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird," the Elmo character added. "It's just that Julia has autism. So sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things." Ferraro hopes that along with educating viewers about autism the new character will settle in as a part of the neighborhood. "I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on Sesame Street who has autism," the writer said. "I would like her to be just Julia."
In a world of rising tuition fees and mounting student debt, California’s University of the People has started offering an ultra low-cost MBA, it said on Tuesday. The online programme - open to 100 applicants in its first term this September, with capacity expected to expand subsequently - will carry a $200 end of course assessment fee for each of the 12 courses. This would take the total cost to about $2,400 for the qualification, about one-thirtieth of what an average MBA might cost in the US. There are no tuition fees or textbook costs. Developing what UoPeople’s founder Shai Reshef called the “the world’s most cost-effective MBA” was a natural progression for the Pasadena-based institution. Students can expect to complete the course in 15 months on a full-time basis but part-time students have to finish within five years. The MBA is accredited by the Distance Education and Accreditation Commission, a private non-profit organisation. UoPeople has offered undergraduate degrees in business administration or computer science, without tuition fees, to 3,000 students from 180 countries around the world. Its online programmes have a $100 charge for each course exam, taking the total a student can expect to pay for a bachelors degree to about $4,000. The university runs with the support of 4,000 volunteers from other universities and makes use of open-source technology. It has a programme in place that is supported by global foundations and corporations ... to help students who are unable to meet its charges.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.