Inspirational News StoriesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of inspirational news stories is usually updated once a week. 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.
For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates. It's a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it's designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they're from, an equal start in life. The maternity package - a gift from the government - is available to all expectant mothers. It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress. With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby's first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box's four cardboard walls. Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it's worth much more. The tradition dates back to 1938. In the 1930s Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high - 65 out of 1,000 babies died. But the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed. Mika Gissler, a professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, gives several reasons for this - the maternity box and pre-natal care for all women in the 1940s, followed in the 60s by a national health insurance system and the central hospital network. At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women. For some families, the contents of the box would be unaffordable if they were not free of charge.
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Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001. Weed, cocaine, heroin, you name it -- Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal one. Whenever we debate similar measures in the U.S. - marijuana decriminalization, for instance - many drug-policy makers predict dire consequences. But in Portugal, the ... prevalence of past-year and past-month drug use among young adults has fallen since 2001. Overall adult use is down slightly too. And new HIV cases among drug users are way down. Now, numbers just released from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction paint an even more vivid picture of life under decriminalization: drug overdose deaths in Portugal are the second-lowest in the European Union. Among Portuguese adults, there are 3 drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens. Comparable numbers in other countries range from 10.2 per million in the Netherlands to 44.6 per million in the U.K., all the way up to 126.8 per million in Estonia. The E.U. average is 17.3 per million. Perhaps more significantly, the report notes that the use of ... so-called "synthetic" marijuana, "bath salts" and the like is lower in Portugal than in any of the other countries for which reliable data exists. This is arguably a positive development for public health in the sense that many of the designer drugs that people develop to skirt existing drug laws have terrible and often deadly side effects.
Note: Portugal's inspiring approach has contributed to public health outcomes that starkly contrast U.S. trends.
Pope Francis has created a church tribunal to judge bishops who fail to protect children from sexually abusive priests, the Vatican announced Wednesday, a move long sought by abuse victims and their advocates. The new court will be part of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Church's chief watchdog. Since 2001, the congregation has judged priests accused of sexual abuse, but there has been no Vatican office with a similar role to judge bishops. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said the Pope will appoint a secretary and permanent staff for the tribunal. Longtime critics of the Vatican called Wednesday's move a "sea change" within the Catholic Church. "Priests abuse children, and so do bishops," said Terence McKiernan, president of the watchdog group BishopAccountability.org. "Bishops who offend are inevitable enablers, and the commission's plan must confront that sad fact." Advocates for sexual abuse victims gave the new tribunal qualified approval. "Time will tell whether these moves actually result in holding bishops accountable for cover-ups of crimes," Boston-based church reform group Voice of the Faithful said. "But these steps are the most promising the Vatican has yet taken." The new court was advocated by Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who has long pushed the Vatican to discipline bishops who failed to protect children.
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Have you heard the story about the Muslim community in Belgium that raised money to restore a local synagogue? Probably not. But it is really important that you do. The oldest Jewish house of worship in Belgium, Synagogue d'Arlon, had been forced to close its doors because of structural problems with the building. The Jewish congregation was short of the funds needed to re-open, [so] a local Muslim community took it upon themselves to call for donations at Friday prayer - even though they themselves do not have a permanent mosque and pray in a converted house. The movement ... spread to Muslims across Belgium who contributed to the fund. In a communiqué released by the Association of Muslims of Arlon (AMA), Hajib el-Hajjaji urged fellow Muslims to contribute. The Muslim community ended up raising 2,400 Euro (about 2,600 dollars), which they presented to Rabbi Jacobs at an emotional roundtable discussion on the theme of "Living Together". Ultimately it was not about the money, but about "a much larger project," [General Secretary of AMA] Bouezmarni explained: "Jews and Muslims have lived together for centuries. Do you know that the first hydraulic clock was invented by a Jew so that Muslims can observe prayer times? Imams in France protected Jews during war. It is regrettable that religions are used for political purposes and sow discord between men." This intentional peacemaking is happening all around the globe.
Note: How sad that the media focuses so little on the many inspiring stories of people of differing faiths working together and supporting each other. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Welcome to “Spring Fever” week in primary schools across the Netherlands, the week of focused sex ed classes. In the Netherlands, the approach, known as “comprehensive sex education,” starts as early as age 4. You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class. In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education. All primary school students in the Netherlands must receive some form of sexuality education. The system allows for flexibility in how it’s taught. But it must address certain core principles — among them, sexual diversity and sexual assertiveness. That means encouraging respect for all sexual preferences and helping students develop skills to protect against sexual coercion, intimidation and abuse. The underlying principle is straightforward: Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject. “There were societal concerns that sexualization in the media could be having a negative impact on kids,” [health promotion official Robert] van der Vlugt said. “We wanted to show that sexuality also has to do with respect, intimacy, and safety.” The Dutch approach to sex ed has garnered international attention, largely because the Netherlands boasts some of the best outcomes. The teen pregnancy rate in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in the world, five times lower than the U.S. Rates of HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases are also low.
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Peter Sharp of Liberators International ... has created impromptu dance parties in the Perth CBD, he’s shocked shoppers by dancing through aisles at the supermarket and, most recently, he challenged notions of racism by staging an act in which a blindfolded Aboriginal girl stood on the beach with a sign asking for free hugs – and received them. In Spain, Pete would wander the streets of Barcelona. "Spain [had] just been smashed by the economic crisis. There’s so much negativity, uncertainty for the future. I thought what we could do is create positive actions in a public space that prove to people that we don’t need to feel this despair." Pete grabbed a bunch of his mates ... and welcomed a busload of tourists arriving in Barcelona as if they were celebrities. Next ... they started approaching people with biscuits and saying “How could you pay for this cookie without money?” At first confused, people soon started getting creative. Someone started singing opera for a cookie, others danced in the street. “It’s just astounding how much creativity is out there – every single moment of every single day if you create the platform for that to be expressed,” Pete says. If people were so willing to connect, to share love and joy when given the opportunity, perhaps there was no need for the distrust that permeates modern society. Perhaps, Pete pondered, we could rewire our brains to trust others, to connect with strangers, to spread love and kindness.
Note: Watch videos of Sharp's playful, inspiring work in action at the link above.
The number of hungry people globally has declined from about one billion 25 years ago to about 795 million today, or about one person out of every nine, despite a surge in population growth, the United Nations reported Wednesday. In developing regions, the number of hungry people has fallen to 780 million today, or 12.9 percent of the population, from 991 million 25 years ago, or 23.3 percent of the population at the time. Despite the finding that nearly 800 million people in the world remain hungry, the report described the progress made as a significant achievement. It said that 72 of the 129 nations monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organization had achieved the target under the so-called Millennium Development Goals of halving the percentages of hungry people in their populations and that developing regions had missed the target by only a small margin. The Millennium Development Goals are a set of eight international objectives, including hunger eradication, established by the United Nations in 2000. “The near-achievement of the M.D.G. hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime,” said José Graziano da Silva, the director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization. Progress was most pronounced in East Asia, Southeast and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. But the report also illustrated failures, especially in parts of Africa, where ... “extreme weather events, natural disasters, political instability and civil strife have all impeded progress.”
Kay Eva was travelling through rural Cambodia ... with a group handing out supplies to those in need when they approached a devastatingly poor family. They were there to deliver powdered milk for the family’s new baby. But the baby was missing. It had been sold the day before for $20 – a desperate act to raise money to feed the rest of the family. The news hit Kay like a punch to the stomach. Horrified, this mother of three knew she had to act. Fast forward 11 years and Kay has launched a thriving charity, Stitches of Hope, which operates a sewing centre to train women and help them find work, a children’s home for under-privileged kids, a community centre and a school. “It wasn’t even about helping with basics like education and health,” Kay says. “Basically, [getting some income] meant they didn’t have to sell their children into sex trafficking, or [to be] cleaners for the wealthy. It enabled women to obtain the skills to get a job. The Stitches of Hope Sewing Centre [is] a permanent institution that teaches women to sew, accommodates and feeds them, pays them a wage to fulfill factory orders, and encourages them to set up their own sewing businesses. In 2008, Stitches of Hope launched a children’s home which today houses 24 children cared for by live-in Cambodian couples. Those entrenched in poverty are too busy surviving the day to ponder how to escape its cruel clutches. With this in mind ... Stitches of Hope launched a community centre and school which now teaches more than 80 children.
Denmark, a tiny country on the northern fringe of Europe, is pursuing the world’s most ambitious policy against climate change. It aims to end the burning of fossil fuels in any form by 2050 — not just in electricity production, as some other countries hope to do, but in transportation as well. Lest anyone consider such a sweeping transition to be impossible in principle, the Danes beg to differ. They essentially invented the modern wind-power industry, and have pursued it more avidly than any country. They are above 40 percent renewable power on their electric grid, aiming toward 50 percent by 2020. The political consensus here to keep pushing is all but unanimous. The trouble, if it can be called that, is that renewable power sources like wind and solar cost nothing to run, once installed. That is potentially a huge benefit in the long run. But [it] can render conventional power plants, operating on gas or coal or uranium, uneconomical to run. Yet those plants are needed to supply backup power for times when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. So the trick now is to get the market redesign right. If Denmark can figure out a proper design for the electric market, it has another big task to meet its 2050 goal: squeezing the fossil fuels out of transportation.
Note: Denmark is consistently setting world records for wind power, which is now cheaper than fossil fuels there.
Math and history are just some of the subjects at the Ron Clark Academy. The Atlanta middle school teaches everything from eye contact to the value of friendly competition - a method that makes kids want to attend class. "It is a place that's about passion, energy," co-founder Ron Clark said. "I wanted to create a school where you could feel the spirit, wanted kids to walk into this school and say, 'I love coming here.'" The building is a 50,000 square foot warehouse ... transformed into the sort of place J.K. Rowling dreamed up for "Harry Potter." Every classroom has an elaborate theme - there's a dragon and a two-story bungee jump and all 112 kids have to be "slide-certified" - a symbol they've signed on for something different. "I love Hogwarts and 'Harry Potter' and the kids do too and so we wanted to bring that book to life and that feeling to life for these kids," Clark said. But there's a rigor to the magic, a drive to thrive. Clark has 55 rules, a code of conduct that covers shaking hands, maintaining eye contact and answering questions in complete sentences. Clark sets the bar high and holds his kids accountable. For Clark, his aim is for his students to walk into the world without any sense of fear. "I want them to go out into this world and to know, 'I am confident because I have the ability, I can achieve this.' I want kids to leave here and go for it and make an impact," he said. At the Ron Clark Academy, they go for it every day, like no other school in America.
Note: Watch this amazing clip of this most untraditional, yet successful school.
Pope Francis did not mince words when he told a group of children gathered at the Vatican that some people will never want peace because they profit off of war. "Some powerful people earn their living off making weapons," the pope said, in a translation provided by Rome Reports. "For this reason, many people do not want peace." He also called the weapons business an "industry of death," according to Catholic Herald. The pontiff spoke in front of roughly 7,000 children at the Vatican on Monday, in a visit sponsored by the Fabbrica della pace (“Peace Factory”), a non-governmental organization that operates educational programming in primary schools with the purpose of promoting cross-cultural understanding. “Whenever we do something together, something good, something beautiful, everyone changes," he said. "This does us good." The pope's strong words against the weapons industry echo the pontiff's earlier anti-war statements. On December 7, 2014 Pope Francis sent a letter to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, stating, "Nuclear weapons are a global problem, affecting all nations, and impacting future generations and the planet that is our home." "Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations," he continued. "To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty."
Note: Go Pope Francis! Watch the beautiful video of this event at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The Vatican has long opposed nuclear weapons, but Pope Francis is making the cause one of the top diplomatic priorities of his two-year-old papacy. In December, the Vatican submitted a paper calling for total nuclear disarmament to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. In January, Pope Francis touted nuclear disarmament as a major goal alongside climate change. “Pope Francis has recently pushed the moral argument against nuclear weapons to a new level, not only against their use but also against their possession,” Archbishop Bernedito Auza, the Holy See’s Ambassador to the U.N., says. “Today there is no more argument, not even the argument of deterrence used during the Cold War, that could ‘minimally morally justify’ the possession of nuclear weapons. The ‘peace of a sort’ that is supposed to justify nuclear deterrence is specious and illusory.” For Francis ... inequality and nuclear power are interwoven. “Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations,” Pope Francis wrote to the Vienna Humanitarian Conference in December. “To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price.”
Christopher Catrambone and his wife have spent $7.5 million of their own money rescuing migrants. In the summer of 2014, Catrambone and his wife Regina channelled [their] empathy – and $7.5m of the family’s personal wealth – into an extraordinary mission to launch the world’s first private search and rescue operation. The aim of the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) was to locate the flimsy vessels overloaded with men, woman and children [in the Mediterranean Sea] trying to reach sanctuary in Europe, and save the lives of the passengers if they were in danger. “We’re not here to save the world, we’re here to help people who are in desperate need,” says Catrambone. “We leveraged nearly 50% of our savings on this project because it was that important to us.” Now they are appealing for the public’s help to keep the operation going. Global conflicts have forced record numbers of people on perilous voyages to Europe, but rich nations have scaled back operations to save them – a situation Catrambone finds astonishing. During their [first] 60 days in international waters, MOAS assisted nearly 3,000 people in jeopardy at sea. While an impressive figure, that’s still just a small proportion of the 207,000 people the U.N. refugee agency estimates set sail on clandestine voyages in the Mediterranean this year. That figure dwarfs the previous record of 70,000 people who attempted the voyage in 2011, after the Arab Spring sent the first wave of asylum-seekers towards Europe.
There's now a new way you can report and recover from identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission is unveiling a new website to keep your identity safe. It tells victims what steps to take in the moments after identity theft happens. You can see detailed advice and checklists at www.identitytheft.gov. The site also helps you check to see if you've been a victim of identity theft without knowing it. Federal officials said they created the site after receiving more than 300,000 complaints from id theft victims in 2014. A Spanish version of the site is also available at RobodeIdentidad.gov. The new website provides an interactive checklist that walks people through the recovery process and helps them understand which recovery steps should be taken upon learning their identity has been stolen. It also provides sample letters and other helpful resources. In addition, the site offers specialized tips for specific forms of identity theft, including tax-related and medical identity theft. The site also has advice for people who have been notified that their personal information was exposed in a data breach. Identity theft has been the top consumer complaint reported to the FTC for the past 15 years, and in 2014, the Commission received more than 330,000 complaints from consumers who were victims of identity theft.
Monty Roberts is taking his message of nonviolent communication and developing trust to military veterans, military police, and incarcerated youths with post-traumatic stress disorder. “The key is to speak the horse’s language, which is gesture,” he says. He has demonstrated an uncanny ability to “speak” this language, eliminating the centuries-long practice of “breaking a horse” with traditional methods. Roberts is considered the original horse whisperer ... spending a lifetime refining his system, teaching it globally through books, videos, TV shows, demonstration tours, and his own Equestrian Academy. At an evening at his ranch titled “Night of Inspiration,” Roberts told of overcoming an abusive father and the prickly resistance of the traditional equestrian community to become arguably the top horse trainer in the world. Now he is morphing into the role of advocate for the healing power of horses. Henry Schleiff, president and general manager of the Military Channel, summed up the results after about 400 people attended a clinic: “The impressive, unique work that Monty Roberts has pioneered, using untrained horses as a therapeutic tool for veterans who are trying to work through anger and depression, is absolutely inspiring.” Brigitte von Rechenberg, a professor of veterinary medicine, [said] “There is trust and respect; there is no winner and no loser. Monty’s methods leave the horse his dignity. These concepts cause happiness to reach your soul.”
"It's tough growing up here," said Wright of his low-income neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut. "I was walking around with a lot on my shoulders," he said. "I couldn't handle it. I didn't care about life anymore." But all that started to change when Wright met Patricia Kelly. A former U.S. Marine and an equestrian, [she] took Wright under her wing and helped him find hope in an unlikely place: on a horse. For the last 30 years, Kelly has helped children in Hartford stay on the right track through her nonprofit, Ebony Horsewomen. The program offers horseback riding lessons and teaches animal science to more than 300 young people a year. "We use horses as a hook to create pride, esteem and healing," said Kelly, 66. Connecticut ... has one of the nation's largest income gaps between rich and poor. Kelly ... witnessed the effects of that inequality. "It is a divided city; the children in the poorer neighborhoods have less resources," Kelly said. "When you teach a child to ride a horse, they learn they are the center of their environment," said Kelly, whose program reaches children from age 5 to 19. "Once they make that connection, they can change what happens in school, at home and in the community." In the case of young men like Wright, the nonprofit has been a critical part of their development. "I can't tell you where I would be without this program. It changed my life. It's helped me set goals for myself," said Wright, who has dreams of becoming an equine blacksmith and dentist.
An 85-year-old nun and two fellow Catholic peace activists who splashed blood on the walls of a bunker holding weapons-grade uranium — exposing vulnerabilities in the nation's nuclear security — were wrongly convicted of sabotage, an appeals court ruled Friday. At issue was whether Sister Megan Rice, 66-year-old Michael Walli and 59-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed injured national security when they cut through several fences to break into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge in July 2012. A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that they did not. Once there, the trio had hung banners, prayed and hammered on the outside wall of the bunker to symbolize a Bible passage that refers to the end of war: "They will beat their swords into ploughshares." "If a defendant blew up a building used to manufacture components for nuclear weapons ... the government surely could demonstrate an adverse effect on the nation's ability to attack or defend," the opinion says. "But vague platitudes about a facility's 'crucial role in the national defense' are not enough to convict a defendant of sabotage." Rice wrote in a letter to The Associated Press in March that "the important message of the appeal is the illegality of nuclear weapons, which are sabotaging the planet."
Sonia and Anita, two sisters living in rural India, were both born blind. A simple surgery, costing about $300, could have restored their sight long ago; but their parents, who earn 17 cents an hour planting and harvesting rice by hand, could barely make ends meet. Thanks to the efforts of 20/20/20, a nonprofit working to restore vision to blind children and adults in some of the world’s poorest countries, Sonia and Anita were able to undergo that simple surgery on their eyes. When the bandages came off, they saw the world around them for the very first time, and it was captured in a video detailing the sisters’ story. Sonia, 12, is said to have gasped as she opened her eyes and blinked into the sunlight for the first time. Her 6-year-old sister, holding her mother close, reportedly declared, “I can see, Mommy.” According to 20/20/20, the 15-minute “miracle” surgery, which the sisters both underwent, involves a surgeon removing the defective lens that causes blindness and replacing it with an artificial lens. The procedure could restore the eyesight of half the blind children and adults in the world, the nonprofit says. “The only problem is, for the poorest people in the world, who live on $1 a day, they could never afford to pay for a $300 surgery. So they will remain blind for the rest of their lives –- unless someone helps them,” 20/20/20 writes on its website.
Eva Kerner, 71, a former secretary, has been retired since 2006 and goes to the gym twice a week ... attends concerts, visits museums, travels extensively, sings in a choir and is a prolific seamstress. “It’s a nice life,” Kerner tells me. “Being so active keeps you young. I’m very happy.” She’s not alone. A study claims that retired Danish women are the most content in Europe, with those aged 65-74 scoring 8.6 out of 10 on the happiness scale – something experts suggest is partly down to the perspective that comes with age. But it’s not just being over 65, female and busy that guarantees you a retirement of pure revelry. There’s something about the experience of “living Danishly” that also helps. “Denmark is a country that takes care of its citizens,” says retired associate professor Jette Eiberg, 71, from Copenhagen. “I feel very lucky to be here and I’m really grateful” – something else that has been proven to boost happiness levels. Sky-high taxes ... have the happy side effect of making Danes more content. Denmark has the lowest income inequality among all the OECD countries and studies show that living in neighbourhoods where most people earn about the same can make you happier. And because Denmark has one of the shortest working weeks at just 37 hours, Danes have plenty of time to foster friendships and extracurricular interests throughout their careers to see them through retirement.
German car manufacturer Audi says it has created the "fuel of the future" made solely from water, carbon dioxide and renewable sources. The synthetic "e-diesel" was made following a commissioning phase of just four months at a plant in Dresden, Germany. Unlike regular diesel, the clear fuel does not contain any sulphur or fossil oil, while it has an overall energy efficiency of around 70%. Creation of the fuel, which Audi and Sunfire are calling blue crude, first requires heating water to 800C (1,472F) to trigger a high temperature electrolysis to break down the steam to hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen then reacts with the CO2 in synthesis reactors, again under pressure and at a high temperature. The reaction product is a ... synthetic fuel, which is free from sulphur and aromatic hydrocarbons, [that] is suitable for mixing with fossil diesel or being used as a fuel in its own right. Reiner Mangold, head of sustainable product development at Audi, said: "In developing Audi e-diesel we are promoting another fuel based on CO2 that will allow long-distance mobility with virtually no impact on the climate."
Note: Read exciting news from major media sources on other amazing new energy breakthroughs. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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.