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Inspirational News Articles
Excerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media


Below are highly engaging excerpts of key inspirational news articles reported in the mainstream media. Links are provided to the full, original news articles. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These inspirational articles are listed by order of importance. You can also explore the news articles listed by order of the date of the article or by the date posted. Enjoy the rich inspiration!

Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on dozens of engaging topics. And read excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


Free-hug man speaks out
2006-09-28, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia's leading newspaper)
http://www.smh.com.au/news/music/freehug-man-speaks-out/2006/09/28/1159337257...

The man behind the latest YouTube sensation has spoken out for the first time about his global cuddling controversy. Serial hugger Juan Mann describes the free hugs he hands out...as fast-food emotion. His cuddling campaign received an international dose of publicity today, after a clip showing his public displays of affection won a coveted front page spot on the video sharing website. An American television audience of millions also watched him at work, when the video was broadcast on the prime-time breakfast program Good Morning America yesterday. Today, the hugger was at it again, brandishing his "free hugs" sign in the busy pedestrian thoroughfare, and having quite a few people take him up on his offer. "It's a way to make people smile," Mann said. "For every person who gets a hug, you see five walk past with a smile on their face." But his efforts to spread the love became a little too popular for some people's liking, according to a blurb on the YouTube video, which said: "As this symbol of human hope spread across the city, police and officials ordered the Free Hugs campaign BANNED." Undeterred, Mann collected more than 10,000 signatures on a petition he presented to the City of Sydney council. Demands for a halt to the hugs petered out shortly after, and the end of the clip shows Mann hugging an official. City worker Elly Mitchell, who handed out a few free hugs on her lunch break today, said she was inspired to organise [an] event after seeing the video online. "We're going to hug the city," Ms Mitchell said.

Note: If you haven't seen this powerfully inspiring four-minute video clip, join the over 10 million who have by clicking here. The free hugs movement is rapidly spreading around the world! Click here and here to see more. For several other short, deeply inspiring videos, click here.


Barbershop gives special discount to kids who read aloud
2016-10-27, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/barbershop-gives-special-discount-to-kids-who-rea...

In this small barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, kids pick out a book and head to the chair. It’s like clockwork. That’s because children 12 and under who visit The Fuller Cut can get a $2 discount on their $11 haircut for doing a simple task: reading to the barber. It’s a program owner Alexander Fuller and barber Ryan Griffin started more than a year ago. And parents can’t get enough of it. The pair can’t take credit for the idea. They just happened to hear about other shops around the country taking part in a “read to your barber program,” and they decided to get on board. Fuller and his wife started ordering some books and Griffin brought in a shelf. Customers even joined the cause by donating old and used books. Before the pair knew it, kids were grabbing books off the shelf and hopping into the chair to start reading. Roughly 90 percent of kids grab a book that’s already on the shelf, Fuller says, but occasionally kids bring in books from home or school as well. “It gives them confidence in reading and helps us understand their comprehension of reading,” Fuller said. “The kids love it. It’s one of the best things that has come along for them.” Another bonus, Fuller added, is that it helps kids socialize. Not only does it improve their reading skills, but their manners as well. Whether you can read well or can’t read well, the barbers will help you along the way, Fuller reminds his customers. “It’s been a great experience so far, Fuller said.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Challenge Day
2007-08-31, Denver Post (Denver's leading newspaper)
http://www.denverpost.com/ci_6764621

Wadded-up tissues littered Rishel Middle School's gym floor as tough teenagers sobbed, hugged their peers and told gut-wrenching stories about their lives during an all-day session intended to break down barriers. One 13-year-old said he was abandoned by his parents and that he lies awake at night scared by sounds of gunshots outside his window. A 15-year-old girl talked about attempting suicide and urged anyone with similar thoughts to reach out for help. And a teacher tearfully warned students about their actions by revealing he was a bully when he was younger – until the person he tormented tried to kill himself. The confessions were shared ... as part of "Challenge Day," a nationally recognized anti-bullying program that travels to schools around the country. Challenge Day promotes self respect and acceptance, and inspires students to become positive leaders in their schools and communities. [The] 20-year-old program [was] designed by Yvonne and Rich St. John-Dutra. "We want to create a world where every child feels safe," said Rich St. John-Dutra. The program, which was featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," was brought to Denver Public Schools ... as part of the district's mission to change cultures inside the schools. The events combined ice-breaking routines to get students to drop their guards with soul-searching exercises designed to reveal their true selves. Students wept as their troubles tumbled out - from worries about their parents, medical problems within the family, troubles with gangs, and battles with alcohol and drugs. Students later apologized to others who they had put down or teased over the years. "This is going to change people," said Eddie Castillo, 13. "I never knew people had problems with their families and their brothers and drugs. I never saw that sensitive side until now."

Note: For one of the most inspiring video clips ever, watch the incredibly moving 15-minute clip from an Emmy-award winning documentary on Challenge day available here.


Schools replace punishment with meditation and see drastic results
2016-09-23, Miami Herald
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article103688417.html

Students who are misbehaving are usually taken out of class and sent to the principal, who punishes the child by revoking privileges, calling home or sometimes suspending them. But students in some Baltimore schools are sent somewhere different when they are acting out: a designated meditation room where they can calm down and decompress. The Mindful Moment room is equipped with bean bags and dim lighting, and students go through calming exercises with trained staff. At Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, teachers and staff can refer students to the room for an emotional “reset” when they are worked up. The student is led through breathing exercises and is encouraged to discuss the emotions that led to an outburst. They work with the adult to come up with a plan to use mindfulness in a similar situation in the future, to prevent an outburst. After about 20 minutes in the room, they rejoin classmates. Students usually show “visible signs of relaxation and emotional de-escalation after guided practices” in the room. The program also includes a “Mindful Moment” twice a day, which leads students in breathing exercises for 15 minutes over the PA system. Students can also participate in yoga classes. It has drastically reduced suspensions, with zero reported in the 2013-14 school year. The program has also been implemented with older students, including those at Patterson High School, [which] has also seen a decrease in suspensions both in the hallways and in class.

Note: For more, see this photo essay and these testimonials.


Why Finland has the best schools
2016-03-18, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0318-doyle-finnish-schools-2016031...

Finland has a history of producing the highest global test scores in the Western world, as well as a trophy case full of other recent No. 1 global rankings, including most literate nation. In Finland, children don't receive formal academic training until the age of 7. Until then, many are in day care and learn through play, songs, games and conversation. Most children walk or bike to school, even the youngest. School hours are short and homework is generally light. Unlike in the United States, where many schools are slashing recess, schoolchildren in Finland have a mandatory 15-minute outdoor free-play break every hour of every day. Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning. One evening, I asked my son what he did for gym that day. “They sent us into the woods with a map and compass and we had to find our way out,” he said. In Finland teachers are the most trusted and admired professionals next to doctors. “Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians,” one Finnish childhood education professor told me. “We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell businesspeople to stay out of our building.” Skeptics might claim that the Finnish model would never work in America's inner-city schools. But what if the opposite is true? What if high-poverty students are the children most urgently in need of the benefits that, for example, American parents of means obtain for their children in private schools, things that Finland delivers on a national public scale.

Note: For more, read this informative article.


In 5 Minutes, He Lets the Blind See
2015-11-07, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/08/opinion/sunday/in-5-minutes-he-lets-the-bl...

He has restored eyesight to more than 100,000 people, perhaps more than any doctor in history. His patients ... stagger and grope their way to him along mountain trails from remote villages, hoping to go under his scalpel. A day after he operates to remove cataracts, he pulls off the bandages - and, lo! They can see clearly. At first tentatively, then jubilantly, they gaze about. A few hours later, they walk home, radiating an ineffable bliss. Dr. Sanduk Ruit, a Nepali ophthalmologist ... has pioneered a simple cataract microsurgery technique that costs only $25 per patient and is virtually always successful. Indeed, his “Nepal method” is now taught in United States medical schools. In the United States, cataract surgery is typically performed with complex machines. But these are unaffordable in poor countries, so Dr. Ruit [pioneered a] small-incision microsurgery to remove cataracts without sutures. At first, skeptics denounced or mocked his innovations. But then the American Journal of Ophthalmology published a study of a randomized trial finding that Dr. Ruit’s technique had exactly the same outcome (98 percent success at a six-month follow-up) as the Western machines. One difference was that Dr. Ruit’s method was much faster and cheaper. He founded the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, which ... conducts eye surgery on 30,000 patients annually, [as well as] manufactures 450,000 tiny lenses a year for use in cataract surgery, keeping costs to $3 a lens compared to $200 in the West.

Note: Your direct donation to help this man can cure blindness for many people. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet the outsider who accidentally solved chronic homelessness
2015-05-06, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/06/meet-the-outsi...

Meet Sam Tsemberis. He's all but solved chronic homelessness. His research, which commands the support of most scholars, has inspired policies across the nation. The results have been staggering. Late last month, Utah, the latest laboratory for Tsemberis's models, reported it has nearly eradicated chronic homelessness. Phoenix, an earlier test case, eliminated chronic homelessness among veterans. Then New Orleans housed every homeless veteran. Homelessness has long seemed one of the most intractable of social problems. For decades, the number of homeless from New York City to San Francisco surged – and so did the costs. At one point around the turn of the millennium, New York was spending an annual $40,500 on every homeless person with mental issues. Tsemberis ...unfurled a model so simple children could grasp it, so cost-effective fiscal hawks loved it, so socially progressive liberals praised it. Give homes for the homeless, and you will solve chronic homelessness. Success begat success. The federal government tested the model on 734 homeless across 11 cities, finding the model dramatically reduced levels of addiction as well as shrank health related costs by half. "Adults who have experienced chronic homelessness may be successfully housed and can maintain their housing," the report declared. Utah's Gordon Walker, explain[s] how his state succeeded at eliminating homelessness – and saved millions, "It was costing us in state services, health-care costs, jail time, police time, about $20,000 per person. Now, we spend $12,000 per person."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Hero rats sniff (and snuff) out landmines and TB
2014-09-26, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/26/world/africa/hero-rats-sniff-out-landmines-and-tb/

Traditionally, you wouldn't gift someone a rat. Tanzania-based NGO Apopo, however, thinks rats make excellent gifts. So much so that they've launched an adopt-a-rat program, which allows participants to sponsor the animal. Despite the creatures' reputation for thieving and spreading disease, [Apopo's founder Bart] Weetjens has proven that rats can ... save lives. Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands. They are highly trained to sniff out land mines and detect tuberculosis - two scourges that have had a tremendously negative impact across the African continent. And his rats are fast. A single rat can clear 200 square feet in an hour (done manually, the same area would take 50 hours to clear). A TB-detection rat can evaluate 50 samples in eight minutes (almost a day's work for a lab technician). In 2006, Weetjens started testing his "hero rats," as he dubs them, on the mine fields in Mozambique, a country that at that time was one of the worst affected by landmines, thanks mainly to a civil war that ended in 1992. Since then, Apopo has cleared the country of 6,693 landmines, 29,934 small arms and ammunition, and 1,087 bombs. Mozambique is on track to be free of landmines by the year's end. In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a TB crisis in Africa. It's a problem Weetjens realized he could address with his sniffer rats. So far, they've analyzed over 260,000 samples from health clinics in Dar es Salaam. They are cheap to train, cheaper to procure, and plentiful.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy
2014-09-19, Washington Post blog
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/09/19/the-coming-era-...

In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones. The handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant. The experts are saying the same about solar energy now. They say that solar is inefficient, too expensive to install, and unreliable, and will fail without government subsidies. They too are wrong. Solar will be as ubiquitous as cellular phones are. Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. By Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years. In places such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and the Southwest United States, residential-scale solar production has already reached “grid parity” with average residential electricity prices. In other words, it costs no more in the long term to install solar panels than to buy electricity from utility companies. The prices of solar panels have fallen 75 percent in the past five years alone and will fall much further as the technologies to create them improve and scale of production increases. By 2020, solar energy will be price-competitive with energy generated from fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis in most parts of the world. Within the next decade, it will cost a fraction of what fossil fuel-based alternatives do. Despite the skepticism of experts and criticism by naysayers, there is little doubt that we are heading into an era of unlimited and almost free clean energy.

Note: This article also points out how some big energy companies and the Koch brothers are lobbying to stop alternative technologies from flowering. Read through a rich collection of energy news articles with inspiring and revealing news on energy developments. And explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'Magic Mushrooms' Can Improve Psychological Health Long Term
2011-06-16, Time Magazine
http://healthland.time.com/2011/06/16/magic-mushrooms-can-improve-psychologic...

The psychedelic drug in magic mushrooms may have lasting medical and spiritual benefits, according to new research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The mushroom-derived hallucinogen, called psilocybin, is known to trigger transformative spiritual states, but at high doses it can also result in "bad trips" marked by terror and panic. "The important point here is that we found the sweet spot where we can optimize the positive persistent effects and avoid some of the fear and anxiety that can occur and can be quite disruptive," says lead author Roland Griffiths, professor of behavioral biology at Hopkins. Giffiths' study involved 18 healthy adults, average age 46. Nearly all the volunteers were college graduates and 78% participated regularly in religious activities; all were interested in spiritual experience. Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience. The participants themselves were not the only ones who saw the benefit from the insights they gained: their friends, family member and colleagues also reported that the psilocybin experience had made the participants calmer, happier and kinder.


The Prophet of Garbage
2007-03-01, Popular Science - March 2007 Issue
http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2007-03/prophet-garbage

The Plasma Converter ... can consume nearly any type of waste—from dirty diapers to chemical weapons—by annihilating toxic materials in a process ... called plasma gasification. A 650-volt current passing between two electrodes rips electrons from the air, converting the gas into plasma. The plasma arc is so powerful, it disintegrates trash into its constituent elements by tearing apart molecular bonds. The system is capable of breaking down pretty much anything except nuclear waste. The only by-products are an obsidian-like glass [and] a mixture of primarily hydrogen and carbon monoxide that can be converted into a variety of marketable fuels, including ethanol, natural gas and hydrogen. Perhaps the most amazing part of the process is that it’s self-sustaining. Once the cycle is under way, the 2,200°F syngas is fed into a cooling system, generating steam that drives turbines to produce electricity. About two thirds of the power is siphoned off to run the converter; the rest can be used on-site for heating or electricity, or sold back to the utility grid. Even a blackout would not stop the operation of the facility. New York City is already paying an astronomical $90 a ton to get rid of its trash. According to Startech, a few 2,000-ton-per-day plasma-gasification plants could do it for $36. Sell the syngas and surplus electricity, and you’d actually net $15 a ton. But the decision-making bureaucracy can be slow, and it is hamstrung by the politically well-connected waste-disposal industry. Startech isn’t the only company using plasma to turn waste into a source of clean energy. A handful of start-ups—Geoplasma, Recovered Energy, PyroGenesis, EnviroArc and Plasco Energy, among others—have entered the market in the past decade.

Note: Why isn't this amazing, proven machine and technology making front page headlines? Read this exciting article to find how it is already being used. For why you don't know about it, click here. And for another amazing new energy source not yet reported in the major media, click here.


12-Year-Old Spiritual Prodigy Akiane
2006-12-14, CNN Video Clip
http://edition.cnn.com/video/bestoftv/2006/12/14/beck.akiane.child.prodigy.cn...

A self taught artist who says her inspiration comes from above.... [These] Paintings ... are spiritual, emotional, and created by a 12-year-old prodigy. Her name is Akiane. She picked up the brush when she was just six years old, but the visions -- what she calls inspiration from God -- started when she was just four. She began to describe to her mother in great detail her visits to heaven. "All the colors were out of this world. There are hundreds and millions of more colors that we don't know yet." Her mother remarkably was an atheist. The concept of God [was] never discussed in their home. [Akiane:] "I explained to her you have to believe me. This is a different way ... a way that's so mysterious that God wants me to go through." To four-year-old Akiane, God quickly became a part of her daily life, and eventually became a part of her family's life, too. Her talent doesn't stop at her art work. Only a few months ago she decided to learn the piano and is now already composing her own music. But it is her painting that truly captures the incredible spirituality of this young girl. The visions to me [are] like he's explaining himself to me and what he does. She is a self taught painter, and as she grows older her paintings grow more expressive, more colorful, [and] more complex. A girl -- who armed only with a brush and some paints -- is determined to capture the essence of her faith, and hopefully along the way inspire others to feel the same way. [Akiane:] "It's just so beautiful! The most important things in this world is faith, because without faith you cannot communicate with God."

Note: The above CNN link takes you to a three-minute video (after commercial) showing the incredible talents of this amazingly gifted girl. If the link fails, click here. For her website, click here. For a collection of videos showing Akiane and her inspiration as she gets older, click here.


Child Psychiatrist Says Past-Life Memories Not So Uncommon in Kids
2006-07-25, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=2232830

From the ages of 2 to 6, James Leininger seemed to recall in striking detail a "past life" he had as a World War II Navy pilot who was shot down and killed over the Pacific. The boy knew details about airplanes and about pilot James Huston Jr. that he couldn't have known. James' parents say he also had terrible nightmares about a plane crashing and a "little man" unable to get out. James, now 8, stills loves airplanes, but he is free of those haunting images of the pilot's death. Jim Tucker, a child psychiatrist and medical director of the Child and Family Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Virginia, is one of the few researchers to extensively study the phenomenon of children who seem to have memories of past lives. He says James' case is very much like others he has studied. "At the University of Virginia, we've studied over 2,500 cases of children who seem to talk about previous lives when they're little," Tucker said. "They start at 2 or 3, and by the time they're 6 or 7 they forget all about it and go on to live the rest of their lives." Tucker -- the author of Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives -- has seen cases like James' where children make statements that can be verified and seem to match with a particular person. "It means that this is a phenomenon that really needs to be explored," Tucker said. "James is one of many, many kids who have said things like this." While about three-fourths of Americans say they believe in paranormal activity, 20 percent believe in reincarnation, according to a 2005 Gallup poll.

Note: To watch the engaging ABC News video clip of this incredible story, click here. For an even better Fox News clip, click here. For an excellent survey of powerful evidence of life and death, click here. For a collection of news articles with other powerful evidence of past-lives, click here.


Strongest Dad in the World
2005-09-17, Canadian Runner/Sports Illustrated
http://www.canadianrunner.com/content/view/4258/32

Eighty-five times [Dick Hoyt has] pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars -- all in the same day. Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. And what has Rick done for his father? Not much -- except save his life. This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs. "He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life," Dick says doctors told him. But the Hoyts weren't buying it. [Eventually,] rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was...able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!" And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do that." Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. "Then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks." That day changed Rick's life. "Dad," he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

Note: Don't miss the entire incredibly moving story with links to the Hoyt's beautiful website, inspiring photos, a deeply touching video clip, and lots more at www.weboflove.org/050917dadtrulycares.


Kenneth Ring: 'You Never Recover Your Original Self'
1988-08-28, New York Times
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE1DB1E38F93BA1575BC0A96E94...

Probably the oldest mystery to vex mankind is what, if anything, occurs after death. For a decade, Kenneth Ring, a psychology professor and researcher at the University of Connecticut, has looked into the question through the near-death experiences of others. Mr. Ring ... talked with hundreds of people between the ages of 18 and 84 who have come close to physical death. [His books] Life at Death [and] Heading Toward Omega both deal with near-death experiences and how they change people's lives. A near-death experience ... often happens to individuals who find themselves on the verge of imminent biological death. It involves ... a sense of the most profound peace and well-being that is possible to imagine. It's a sense of being separate from the physical body and sometimes being able to see it as though a spectator off to one side or from up above. These people have a sense of moving through a dark space or tunnel toward a radiantly beautiful white or golden light. They are absorbed in that light, having in some cases a panoramic life review in which virtually everything that they've ever done in their life they're able to see; perhaps meeting the spirits of deceased love ones or friends. And in some cases, they are asked to make a decision as to whether they would like to continue or go back to their body. The most powerful antidote to the fear of death is coming close to death ... and remembering one of these experiences. After having a near-death experience, people believe the end of life isn't [the end]; they believe in some sort of life after death. [Those] who have a near-death experience almost totally lose their fear of death.

Note: The documented experiences of those who have been declared clinically dead and come back to life are some of the most mind-boggling and inspiring cases to have ever surfaced. To read some of the most amazing of these cases and explore other excellent resources on the topic, click here.


Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness
2018-01-26, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/nyregion/at-yale-class-on-happiness-draws-...

A few days after registration opened at Yale for Psyc 157, Psychology and the Good Life, roughly 300 people had signed up. Within [six] more days, about 1,200 students, or nearly one-fourth of Yale undergraduates, were enrolled. The course, taught by Laurie Santos ... tries to teach students how to lead a happier, more satisfying life in twice-weekly lectures. “Students want to change, to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus,” Dr. Santos said in an interview. “If we see good habits, things like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections, we’re actually seeding change in the school’s culture.” A 2013 report by the Yale College Council found that more than half of undergraduates sought mental health care from the university during their time there. “A lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb,” said Alannah Maynez, 19, a freshman taking the course. “The fact that a class like this has such large interest speaks to how tired students are of numbing their emotions - both positive and negative - so they can focus on their work.” Psychology and the Good Life ... stands as the most popular course in Yale’s 316-year history. Dr. Santos has encouraged all students to enroll in the course on a pass-fail basis, tying into her argument that the things Yale undergraduates often connect with life satisfaction - a high grade, a prestigious internship, a good-paying job - do not increase happiness at all.

Note: Harvard, Stanford and other colleges are getting in on the action, too, as reported in this article.


Iceland is beating teenage substance abuse
2017-03-03, CBC News (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/iceland-teenage-substance-abus...

Icelandic teenagers are saying no to drugs by getting high on life. For the last 20 years, the island country has seen a dramatic decrease in adolescent drug and alcohol abuse after the federal government made a concerted effort to offer teens a more natural high. The multifaceted approach includes state-sponsored recreational activities and after-school programs meant to enhance family ties and community bonds. [Dr. Harvey Milkman, the psychologist behind Iceland's strategy], says the results have been exceptional. Since 1998, for example, the number of 15- to 16-year-olds that self-reported to have been drunk within the last 30 days dropped from 43 to 5 per cent. In 1992, Milkman and his team opened up their laboratory, Project Self-Discovery, in Denver. The program used art, music, dance, poetry, and nature activities to reduce stress in lieu of drugs and alcohol. Once teens embraced these natural highs, their risk of drug use decreased dramatically. At the same time, rates of teenage substance use were exceptionally high in Iceland. Following Milkman's success in Denver, the Icelandic government reached out to him to put his research into practice on a national scale. Over the last 20 years, Milkman's research has helped inform what's now known as the Iceland approach. "The whole country of Iceland kind of bought into that idea of creating opportunities for the kids to feel good without taking drugs," [said Milkman].

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A black man's quixotic quest to quell the racism of the KKK, one robe at a time
2016-12-08, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-ca-film-accidental-courtesy-20...

"Who’s this black guy trying to make friends with the Ku Klux Klan?” A raised eyebrow, a shake of the head. Such were the sentiments of Scott Shepherd, a former Klan grand dragon, when he first saw Daryl Davis, a piano-playing bluesman who travels the nation attempting to dispel racism from those who hate him most. It doesn’t often work, but over the decades Davis, like a man on a quixotic pilgrimage, has collected more than two dozen Klan robes from those who have disavowed white supremacy. His unlikely story unfolds in “Accidental Courtesy,” a documentary by Matt Ornstein that follows Davis on an odd and lively quest to Confederate monuments, Klansmen houses, boogie joints, churches and a hot dog stand. “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” Davis asks in the film, which opens in Los Angeles on Friday. “Throughout my life I have been looking for an answer to that.” The son of a foreign service officer, Davis spent part of his childhood overseas, far from the racism many African Americans learn early. His first encounter with bigotry came when he was a 10-year-old Cub Scout. Bottles and rocks were thrown at him as he marched in a parade. The bewildering incident was the seed of a mission that years later found him ... starting a conversation with Klan Imperial Wizard Roger Kelly. The two became close. When Kelly quit the Klan, he gave Davis his robe. Talking to Klansmen “has worked for me,” said Davis. “I don’t seek to convert them but if they spend time with me, they can’t hate me.”

Note: Watch an awesome video about this brave black man who all but ended the KKK in Maryland by making friends with their leaders. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Before his coma he spoke English; after waking up he's fluent in Spanish
2016-10-25, CNN News
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/24/health/teen-spanish-new-language-trnd/index...

Life's been full of uncertainties for Reuben Nsemoh lately. Ever since he suffered a concussion in a soccer game, the suburban Atlanta teen's worried about why it's so hard for him to concentrate. He's fretted over whether he'll ever get to play his favorite sport. But the biggest stumper of all: how is it that he's suddenly speaking fluent Spanish? Nsemoh, a 16-year-old high school sophomore, ended up in [a] coma last month after another player kicked him in the head during a game. When he woke up, he did something he'd never done before: speak Spanish like a native. His parents said he could already speak some Spanish, but he was never fluent in it until his concussion. Slowly, his English is coming back, and he's starting to lose his Spanish fluency. Foreign accent syndrome is an extremely rare condition in which brain injuries change a person's speech patterns, giving them a different accent. The first known case was reported in 1941. Since then there have been a few dozen reported cases. Three years ago, police found a Navy vet unconscious in a Southern California motel. When he woke up, he had no memory of his previous life, and spoke only Swedish. In Australia, a former bus driver got in a serious car crash that left her with a broken back and jaw. When she woke up, she was left with something completely unexpected: a French accent. And earlier this year, a Texas woman who had surgery on her jaw, has sported a British accent ever since.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dolphins recorded having a conversation 'just like two people' for first time
2016-09-11, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/09/11/dolphins-recorded-having-a-conv...

Two dolphins have been recorded having a conversation for the first time after scientists developed an underwater microphone which could distinguish the animals' different "voices". Researchers have known for decades that the mammals had an advanced form of communication. But scientists have now shown that dolphins alter the volume and frequency of pulsed clicks to form individual "words" which they string together into sentences in much the same way that humans speak. Researchers at the Karadag Nature Reserve, in Feodosia, Ukraine, recorded two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, called Yasha and Yana, talking to each other in a pool. Each dolphin would listen to a sentence of pulses without interruption, before replying. Lead researcher Dr Vyacheslav Ryabov, said: “Essentially, this exchange resembles a conversation between two people. “Each pulse represents a phoneme or a word of the dolphin's spoken language. “The analysis of numerous pulses registered in our experiments showed that the dolphins took turns in producing [sentences] and did not interrupt each other, which gives reason to believe that each of the dolphins listened to the other's pulses before producing its own. “This language exhibits all the design features present in the human spoken language, this indicates a high level of intelligence and consciousness in dolphins, and their language can be ostensibly considered a highly developed spoken language, akin to the human language.”

Note: Learn more about the amazing world of marine mammals.


This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working.
2016-08-11, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/08/11/this-republic...

Republican Mayor Richard Berry was driving around Albuquerque last year when he saw a man on a street corner holding a sign that read: “Want a Job. Anything Helps.” Throughout his administration, as part of a push to connect the homeless population to services, Berry had taken to driving through the city to talk to panhandlers about their lives. His city’s poorest residents told him they didn’t want to be on the streets begging for money, but they didn’t know where else to go. Seeing that sign gave Berry an idea. The city could bring the work to them. Next month will be the first anniversary of Albuquerque’s There’s a Better Way program, which hires panhandlers for day jobs beautifying the city. The job pays $9 an hour, which is above minimum wage, and provides a lunch. At the end of the shift, the participants are offered overnight shelter as needed. In less than a year since its start, the program has given out 932 jobs clearing 69,601 pounds of litter and weeds from 196 city blocks. And more than 100 people have been connected to permanent employment. Berry’s effort is a shift from the movement across the country to criminalize panhandling. A recent National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty report found a noticeable increase, with 24 percent of cities banning it altogether and 76 percent banning it in particular areas. When panhandlers have been approached in Albuquerque with the offer of work, most have been eager for the opportunity to earn money, Berry said. They just needed a lift.

Note: Watch an inspiring video on this great program.


What if Schools Taught Kindness?
2016-02-01, Greater Good
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_if_schools_taught_kindness

Every school teaches math and reading, but what about mindfulness and kindness? Twice a week for 20 minutes, pre-kindergarten kids were introduced to stories and practices for paying attention, regulating their emotions, and cultivating kindness. The initial results of our research ... suggest that this program can improve kids’ grades, cognitive abilities, and relationship skills. Having classrooms full of mindful, kind kids completely changes the school environment. Imagine entire schools - entire districts - where kindness is emphasized. That would be truly powerful. Teaching kindness is a way to bubble up widespread transformation that doesn’t require big policy changes or extensive administrative involvement. If you had visited one of our classrooms during the 12-week program, you might have seen a poster on the wall called “Kindness Garden.” When kids performed an act of kindness or benefitted from one, they added a sticker to the poster. The idea is that friendship is like a seed - it needs to be nurtured and taken care of in order to grow. Through that exercise, we got students talking about ... how we might grow more friendship in the classroom. Students who went through the curriculum showed more empathy and kindness and a greater ability to calm themselves down when they felt upset, according to teachers’ ratings. They earned higher grades at the end of the year in certain areas (notably for social and emotional development), and they showed improvement in the ability to think flexibly and delay gratification, skills that have been linked to health and success later in life.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Giving back: Nine-year-old builds homeless shelters and other selfless acts
2015-06-03, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2015/0603/Giv...

A nine-year old girl from Bremerton, Wash. is making a difference in her local community. In a report with KING 5 News, Hailey Ford is shown using a power tool to drive nails into the roof what looks like a miniature house. The structure is the first of 11 planned shelters she [is] building for the homeless in her area. She tells the reporter that her friend Edward is homeless and needs a dry place to sleep at night. When she realized that she could do something about it, she began piecing together a plan to build "mobile sleeping" shelters, as she calls them. The shelters come complete with insulation, tar paper, and windows, barriers that will keep out the elements and lock in the warmth. Hailey isn't the only kid acting with compassion. Five-year old Josiah Duncan had a similar reaction when he saw a hungry-looking homeless man outside of a Waffle House in Prattville, Ala., last month. The little boy began asking his mother about the man's appearance, clearly troubled. She explained that the man was homeless and Josiah requested that they buy him a meal. His mother obliged. Before the man could eat, Josiah insisted on saying a blessing. "The man cried. I cried. Everybody cried," his mother told WFSA. Other children have taken Hailey and Josiah's kindness a few steps further. Hannah Taylor, a Canadian from Winnipeg, Manitoba, founded the Ladybug Foundation when she was only eight years old. In her mission statement Hannah says, "I believe that if people know about homelessness – that there are people living without a home – they will want to help.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Robin Hood Army: fighting food waste in India and Pakistan
2015-06-02, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jun...

Last August, a group of six young Indians took to the streets of Delhi with one simple aim: to feed the homeless. Overnight, they drove to restaurants, collected unsold food, re-packaged it and gave it to around 100 people sleeping rough in the capital. Friends, colleagues and strangers soon joined them on drives and their numbers began to swell. In less than a few months, a nationwide volunteer movement known as the Robin Hood Army (RHA) had emerged, on a mission to curb food waste and stamp out hunger. Founders Ghose and Anand Sinha, also 27, were inspired by Refood International, an organisation based in Portugal. “Using a hyperlocal model, they collect excess food and give it to those who need it. But every community has their own Refood chapter,” explains Ghose. “I realised it was something that can be very easily done in India, where the need would be much more.” The movement gained huge momentum after the launch of its social media campaign, and now boasts a 500-strong volunteer base spread out across 13 cities. In April, the group also began operations in neighbouring Pakistan. The Robin Hood Army’s ideology revolves around decentralisation. Small teams, mostly young professionals, become responsible for specific areas; they scout for local restaurants, convince them to donate surplus food, identify clusters of people in need - such as the homeless and orphanages - and carry out weekly distributions.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Shelter Dogs and Prison Inmates Give Each Other a New 'Leash' on Life
2014-09-03, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-patricia-fitzgerald/who-rescued-who-shelter-...

August 9, 2014, was one of the most memorable days of my life. On that day I entered a maximum-security prison in Lancaster, Calif. to witness an extraordinary event connecting the lives of some of its inmates with a pack of rescued shelter dogs. Five lucky dogs ... were pulled from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles and entered this Level 4 prison for a chance at a better life. Earlier this year, Karma Rescue, a nonprofit that saves at-risk dogs from high-kill shelters across Southern California, partnered with the California State Prison Los Angeles County in Lancaster to create "Paws for Life," a program that matches rescued dogs with inmates who train them to boost their odds of adoption. Fourteen inmates were ... selected to train five shelter dogs who stayed at the prison this summer for a 12-week program. From the very beginning, the program struck a chord with everyone involved. Karma Rescue's founder Rande Levine wrote, "Men who had not seen an animal in decades were openly emotional at the sight of the beautiful creatures before them. Just petting our dogs brought many to happy tears. It was a day I will never, ever forget." Several times a week, professional dog trainer Mark Tipton and several dedicated Karma Rescue volunteers drove out to the prison to instruct the inmates on how to train their assigned dogs for 'Canine Good Citizen' certification, a designation that increases the chance that a dog will be successfully adopted.

Note: Don't miss the moving pictures of this inspiring program at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Study: Running 5 Minutes a Day Could Add Years to Your Life
2014-07-29, Time Magazine
http://time.com/3053081/running-daily/

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running five minutes per day can reduce an individual’s risk of premature death by about three years. Researchers found that people who ran less than an hour per week also saw an increase in lifespan, not just a decrease in risk of premature death. The study took place over the course of 15 years, testing participants ranging in age from 18-100. Separate research found that running more than 20 miles per week could take years off an individual’s life, providing further evidence that less can be more with regard to exercise. According to that research, individuals who exhibit consistent but moderate workout patterns are likely to live the longest.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dolphins Guide Scientists to Rescue Suicidal Girl
2014-05-29, National Geographic
http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/29/dolphins-guide-scientists-...

My research team and I were following a school of bottlenose dolphins near shore ... off Los Angeles, California. The dolphins were still feeding in circle near shore, when suddenly, one individual changed direction heading out toward deeper water. A minute later, the rest of the school turned to follow. Seeing them abruptly leave a foraging ground and change direction came as a surprise to the research team. I decided to follow them. The dolphins increased their speed. Somewhere near three miles offshore the dolphin group stopped, forming a sort of ring around a dark object in the water. “Someone’s in the water!” yelled my assistant, standing up and pointing at the seemingly lifeless body of a girl. As the boat neared, she feebly turned her head toward us, half-raising her hand as a weak sign for help. If we didn’t act immediately, the girl would die. We [pulled] the frail and hypothermic body on board. “She is cyanotic,” said one of my researchers, also a lifeguard, after a cursory examination. “She has severe hypothermia. We need to get her warm!” We managed to get some of her wet garments off and wrap her in a blanket. We took turns keeping her warm by huddling with her under the blanket. A couple of hours later, we were all waiting outside the emergency room at the Marina del Rey hospital. The ER doctor came out to talk with us. The girl, it seems, would pull through, and he thanked us for our quick action. He tells us the girl was vacationing in L.A. from Germany and, as the letter found in her plastic bag explained, she was attempting suicide. If we hadn’t found her, if the dolphins hadn’t led us offshore when they did, to that specific place, she would have died.

Note: This article has been adapted from the book Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist. For more on the amazing capacities of dolphins and other marine mammals, as well as the threats they face from human activities, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Grid parity: Why electric utilities should struggle to sleep at night
2014-03-25, Washington Post blog
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/03/25/grid-parity-why...

What’s good news for those concerned with climate change, and bad news for electric utilities? That’s grid parity. It exists when an alternative energy source generates electricity at a cost matching the price of power from the electric grid. As grid parity becomes increasingly common, renewable energy could transform our world and slow the effects of climate change. Advances in solar panels and battery storage will make it more realistic for consumers to dump their electric utility, and power their homes through solar energy. A 2013 Deutsche Bank report said that 10 states are currently at grid parity: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Vermont. Germany, Spain, Portugal and Australia have reached grid parity. This shift has benefited from a dramatic drop in the price of solar panels, which dropped 97.2 percent from 1975 to 2012. As solar energy gets cheaper, traditional electric utilities are doing the opposite. The cost of maintaining the electric grid has gotten more expensive, but reliability hasn’t improved. If customers leave electric utilities, it starts a downward spiral. Fewer customers will mean higher rates, which encourages remaining customers to jump ship for a solar-battery system. Energy upstarts are led by forward thinkers with disruptive track records and eyes on society’s big problems. NRG Energy chief executive David Crane ... highlighted the climate change concerns in a recent letter to shareholders: “The day is coming when our children sit us down ... look us straight in the eye, with an acute sense of betrayal and disappointment in theirs, and whisper to us, ‘You knew… and you didn’t do anything about it. Why?’”

Note: Read through a rich collection of energy news articles with inspiring and revealing news on energy developments. Then explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Vitamin D May Double Chances of Surviving Breast Cancer
2014-03-07, TIME Magazine
http://time.com/16148/vitamin-d-may-double-chances-of-surviving-breast-cancer/

In a new study, researchers found that breast-cancer patients who had high levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to survive [as] women with low levels. They reviewed five studies that observed more than 4,440 women. “The study has implications for including vitamin D as an adjuvant to conventional breast cancer therapy,” study co-author Dr. Heather Hofflich, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego, said in a press release. The researchers recommend that vitamin D should be added to the various treatments given to women fighting breast cancer. The body naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but milk, fatty fish and other foods can also boost production. Patients could also take vitamin D supplements.

Note: This is huge news! Why isn't this exciting development getting more press coverage? Read numerous major media articles revealing potential cancer cures which have received little attention. And see an excellent article with more on the Vitamin D connection.


The miracle of profit-sharing: Year 65 and still no layoffs
2013-12-15, PBS
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/the-miracle-of-profit-sharing-year-65-and...

When Canadian journalist ... Frank Koller published his book Spark: How Old-Fashioned Values Drive a Twenty-First-Century Corporation: Lessons from Lincoln Electric's U, about the profit-sharing model pioneered at Cleveland’s Lincoln Electric, it encouraged Making Sense to return to the manufacturer after first reporting on them back in 1992. Two years later, Koller now updates us on yet another profitable year for Lincoln. Frank Koller: Here are the latest numbers for the Ohio-based multinational welding manufacturer, now 118 years old. 80: uninterrupted years of paying an employee bonus (i.e. profitable every year since 1934). $33,029: average 2013 bonus per U.S. employee (roughly 3,000 employees). $81,366: average 2013 total earnings per U.S. employee (wages or salary + bonus). $100.7 million: total pre-tax profit shared with employees, Lincoln’s largest bonus pool ever. 0: number of layoffs in 2013 (that makes 65 years without any layoffs) #1: Lincoln Electric remains number one in the global marketplace in its industry. These figures once again provide convincing and reassuring evidence that with an unwavering commitment to respecting employees by offering the opportunity to significantly share in the profits of the firm, while demanding their very best, it is possible to run a very profitable, very large, technologically superior multinational business based in North America while also honoring a firm’s obligations to its customers, investors and society at large.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Marijuana stops child's severe seizures
2013-08-07, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/07/health/charlotte-child-medical-marijuana/in...

Charlotte and Chase were born October 18, 2006. They were healthy. Everything was normal. The twins were 3 months old when the Figis' lives changed forever. [Charlotte had a] seizure [which] lasted about 30 minutes. Her parents rushed her to the hospital. They did a million-dollar work-up ... and found nothing. A week later, Charlotte had another seizure. Over the next few months, Charlotte ... had frequent seizures lasting two to four hours, and she was hospitalized repeatedly. She was [put] on seven drugs -- some of them heavy-duty, addictive ones such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines. They'd work for a while, but the seizures always came back with a vengeance. At 2, she really started to decline cognitively. In November 2000, Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, which required the state to set up a medical marijuana registry program. [Then Charlotte's father Matt] found a video online of a California boy whose [seizures were] being successfully treated with cannabis. [Her parents started] Charlotte out on a small dose. By then Charlotte had lost the ability to walk, talk and eat. She was having 300 grand mal seizures a week. The results were stunning. The seizures stopped for ... seven days. [Now] Charlotte gets a dose of the cannabis oil twice a day. [It has] stopped the seizures. Today, Charlotte, 6, is thriving. Not only is she walking, she can ride her bicycle.

Note: There have been plentiful stories of miraculous healing from marijuana, but this may be the first time the major media is reporting it (see links at the bottom of this article for more). That's exciting! We may be seeing a major change here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Dolphins Use Names for Each Other
2013-07-24, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/dolphins-names/story?id=19751193

They escape from aquarium tanks. They locate underwater mines. Now, a new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science claims that dolphins recognized their own name when called. Vincent Janik, one of the authors of the study and a biology researcher at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said that the name is actually a specific type of dolphin vocalization that the animals respond to. "They're these high pitched whistles that have a little bit of a melody," he told ABC News. These sounds are referred to as "signature whistles." Janik and his colleague, Stephanie King, cruised along the east coast of Scotland looking for bottlenose dolphins. After spotting and identifying a dolphin in the wild, the researchers would play one of three different sounds: a modified sound clip of that dolphin's signature whistle, a signature whistle of one of its podmates, or the signature whistle of a completely foreign dolphin. They played the dolphin's own signature whistle and the animal would come up and approach the boat and whistle back. However, the dolphin didn't respond to the other two types of whistles and mostly kept about its business. It may seem odd that the dolphins don't react much to the whistles of their fellow herdmates, but Janik says that copying a dolphin's signature whistle just right is part of their social group. "This copying only occurs between closely associated animals, like between mothers and their calves," he said. Dolphins only need to respond to their own signature whistles, since any socially relevant animal will have learned how to copy it. "It says to them, 'I know that this [whistle] is a friend.'"

Note: For an abstract of this intriguing study, click here. For more on the fascinating capabilities of marine mammals, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


16-year-old finds a new way to detect cancer
2013-05-18, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57585179/16-year-old-finds-a-new-way-to...

Sixteen-year-old Jack Andraka's innovative mind led him to create a new way to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer. "I created a new way to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer that costs three cents and takes five minutes to run," he said. After a close friend died from pancreatic cancer, this 16-year-old from Crownsville, Maryland, unleashed his hyper-drive intellect on preventing more cancer deaths. "It's 168 times faster, over 26,000 times less expensive, and over 400 times more sensitive than our current methods of diagnosis," he said. Tinkering in his room and using information readily available online, he came up with a new way to detect cancer. "85 percent of all pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late, when someone has less than a two percent chance of survival. And our current test costs $800 per test and misses 30 percent of all pancreatic cancers," he said. He won last year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The sweet validation came with $100,000 in scholarships, but Jack Andraka's got his eye on even bigger things. "The name of the competition is called the Tricorder XPRIZE," he said. "It's a $10 million prize. Essentially what you have to do is develop something the size of a smartphone that you scan over your skin and it will diagnose any disease instantly." Jack is fielding a team of other high-schoolers to compete against 300 teams of adult scientists and corporations in the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition. He says youth is an advantage -- that new eyes are more likely to solve old problems.

Note: Let's hope this invention gets fast tracked and makes it to market. Notice how little attention this exciting development received. To read about many potential cancer cures reported in major media which have not made it to market for financial reasons, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


After Years in Solitary, an Austere Life as Uruguay’s President
2013-01-05, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/05/world/americas/after-years-in-solitary-an-a...

Some world leaders live in palaces. Some enjoy perks like having a discreet butler, a fleet of yachts or a wine cellar with vintage Champagnes. Then there is José Mujica, the former guerrilla who is Uruguay’s president. He lives in a run-down house on Montevideo’s outskirts with no servants at all. His security detail: two plainclothes officers parked on a dirt road. In a deliberate statement to this cattle-exporting nation of 3.3 million people, Mr. Mujica, 77, shunned the opulent Suárez y Reyes presidential mansion, with its staff of 42, remaining instead in the home where he and his wife have lived for years, on a plot of land where they grow chrysanthemums for sale in local markets. His net worth upon taking office in 2010 amounted to about $1,800 — the value of the 1987 Volkswagen Beetle parked in his garage. He never wears a tie and donates about 90 percent of his salary, largely to a program for expanding housing for the poor. His current brand of low-key radicalism ... exemplifies Uruguay’s emergence as arguably Latin America’s most socially liberal country. Under Mr. Mujica, who took office in 2010, Uruguay has drawn attention for seeking to legalize marijuana and same-sex marriage, while also enacting one of the region’s most sweeping abortion rights laws and sharply boosting the use of renewable energy sources like wind and biomass. For democracy to function properly, [Mujica] argues, elected leaders should be taken down a notch. “We have done everything possible to make the presidency less venerated,” Mr. Mujica said in an interview one recent morning, after preparing a serving in his kitchen of mate.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


After Recess: Change the World
2012-02-05, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/kristof-after-recess-change-...

A battle between a class of fourth graders and a major movie studio would seem an unequal fight. So it proved to be: the studio buckled. And therein lies a story of how new Internet tools are allowing very ordinary people to defeat some of the most powerful corporate and political interests around — by threatening the titans with the online equivalent of a tarring and feathering. Take Ted Wells’s fourth-grade class in Brookline, Mass. The kids read the Dr. Seuss story “The Lorax” and admired its emphasis on protecting nature, so they were delighted to hear that Universal Studios would be releasing a movie version in March. But when the kids went to the movie’s Web site, they were crushed that the site seemed to ignore the environmental themes. So last month they started a petition on Change.org, the go-to site for Web uprisings. They demanded that Universal Studios “let the Lorax speak for the trees.” The petition went viral, quickly gathering more than 57,000 signatures, and the studio updated the movie site with the environmental message that the kids had dictated. “It was exactly what the kids asked for — the kids were through the roof,” Wells [said], recalling the celebratory party that the children held during their snack break. “These kids are really feeling the glow of making the world a better place. They’re feeling that power.” Change.org has grown from 20 employees a year ago to 100 now, in offices on four continents.

Note: Never doubt that a small group of committed people can make a big difference. For lots more inspiring new articles like this, click here.


From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model
2011-12-12, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/education/from-finland-an-intriguing-school...

Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educator and author, [said that in] his country, ... teachers typically spend about four hours a day in the classroom, and are paid to spend two hours a week on professional development. At the University of Helsinki, where he teaches, 2,400 people competed last year for 120 slots in the (fully subsidized) master’s program for schoolteachers. “It’s more difficult getting into teacher education than law or medicine,” he said. Dr. Sahlberg puts high-quality teachers at the heart of Finland’s education success story. Ever since Finland, a nation of about 5.5 million that does not start formal education until age 7 and scorns homework and testing until well into the teenage years, scored at the top of a well-respected international test in 2001 in math, science and reading, it has been an object of fascination among American educators and policy makers. Finlandophilia only picked up when the nation placed close to the top again in 2009, while the United States ranked 15th in reading, 19th in math and 27th in science. In Helsinki, the Education Ministry has had 100 official delegations from 40 to 45 countries visit each year since 2005. Dr. Sahlberg said a turning point was a government decision in the 1970s to require all teachers to have master’s degrees — and to pay for their acquisition. Finland scorns almost all standardized testing before age 16 and discourages homework, and it is seen as a violation of children’s right to be children for them to start school any sooner than 7, Dr. Sahlberg said.

Note: The US continues to push for more testing, while Finland shows that less testing and homework gives better results. For an excellent article on this in the Washington Post, click here. For more astounding facts on Finland's education success, click here.


Steady Decline in Major Crime Baffles Experts
2011-05-24, CNBC/New York Times
http://www.cnbc.com/id/43151654

The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years, a development that was considered puzzling partly because it ran counter to the prevailing expectation that crime would increase during a recession. In all regions, the country appears to be safer. The odds of being murdered or robbed are now less than half of what they were in the early 1990s, when violent crime peaked in the United States. Small towns, especially, are seeing far fewer murders: In cities with populations under 10,000, the number plunged by more than 25 percent last year. Criminology experts said they were surprised and impressed by the national numbers, issued ... by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and based on data from more than 13,000 law-enforcement agencies. There was no immediate consensus to explain the drop. But some experts said the figures collided with theories about correlations between crime, unemployment and the number of people in prison. Take robbery: The nation has endured a devastating economic crisis, but robberies fell 9.5 percent last year, after dropping 8 percent the year before.

Note: See the U.S. Department of Justice statistics at this link for verification. Why isn't this exciting news making front page headlines? Could it be that the media and powers that be want us to be afraid?


Shy U.S. Intellectual Created Playbook Used in a Revolution
2011-02-16, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/world/middleeast/17sharp.html

Stoop-shouldered and white-haired at 83, [Gene Sharp] grows orchids, has yet to master the Internet and hardly seems like a dangerous man. But for the world’s despots, his ideas can be fatal. For decades, his practical writings on nonviolent revolution — most notably “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” a 93-page guide to toppling autocrats, available for download in 24 languages — have inspired dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt. When Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement was struggling ... its leaders tossed around “crazy ideas” about bringing down the government. They stumbled on Mr. Sharp. When the nonpartisan International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, which trains democracy activists, slipped into Cairo several years ago ... among the papers it distributed was Mr. Sharp’s “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action,” a list of tactics that range from hunger strikes to “protest disrobing.” Dalia Ziada, an Egyptian blogger and activist who attended the workshop ... said trainees were active in both the Tunisia and Egypt revolts. She said that some activists translated excerpts of Mr. Sharp’s work into Arabic, and that his message of “attacking weaknesses of dictators” stuck with them. He has concluded that advancing freedom takes careful strategy and meticulous planning, advice that ... resonated among youth leaders in Egypt. Peaceful protest is best, he says — not for any moral reason, but because violence provokes autocrats to crack down. “If you fight with violence,” Mr. Sharp said, “you are fighting with your enemy’s best weapon, and you may be a brave but dead hero.” He was struck by the Egyptian protesters’ discipline in remaining peaceful, and especially by their lack of fear. “If people are not afraid of the dictatorship, that dictatorship is in big trouble.”

Note: For powerful and inspiring information on the military/industrial complex and what we can do to make a difference, click here.


Meet Jasmine, the dog who has become a surrogate mother for the 50th time
2008-12-31, Daily Mail (One of the UK's largest-circulation newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1103645/Meet-Jasmine-rescue-dog-surro...

When Jasmine the abandoned greyhound arrived at a wildlife sanctuary shivering and desperate for food, she needed all the love in the world to nurse her back to full health. Now it appears the kindness and patience shown to her has rubbed off – for the ... dog has become a surrogate mother for the 50th time. Seven-year-old Jasmine is currently caring for tiny Bramble, an 11-week-old roe deer fawn found semi-conscious in a nearby field. She cuddles up to her to keep her warm, showers her with affection and makes sure nothing is matted in her fur. She has had plenty of practice, having cared for five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and even 15 rabbits. Jasmine was brought to the Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary by the police in 2003, having been found dumped in a garden shed. She was cold, filthy and malnourished. It took a few weeks for her to fully trust staff at the centre but with tender loving care she was nursed back to full fitness. Five years on, Jasmine is now the one looking after stray waifs. Geoff Grewcock, who runs the sanctuary, said: "She simply dotes on the animals as if they were her own, it's incredible to see. She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings. As soon as an animal is brought in, she walks over takes a sniff or two and then licks and cuddles them. It is quite amazing."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Mystery Behind the Damanhur Temples
2008-01-21, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=4216350

Hidden away in a country renowned for its architectural beauty lies a massive hand-built place of worship many tourists never see. An entrance that looks like a mineshaft opens up to a maze carved inside the mountain holding the Damanhur Temples of Humankind in the Valchiusella Valley, about 30 miles north of Turin, [Italy]. Damanhur narrates the history of human potential through art. With at least nine rooms — some with 25-foot high ceilings — it looks as if the secret doors and passageways were built centuries ago. In truth, the unlikely temple is no ancient wonder and was built piecemeal by 150 people over a 15-year period beginning in 1978. The work was so secret, the Italian government never knew it was going on and never gave permission for it. The handcrafted structure is full of dramatic beauty, and each apparent dead end really leads into another mysterious hall. "You have to think that we did that without any engineer or architect," Ananas said. "Everything has been excavated by hand." At least as mysterious as the temple itself is the utopian society to which it belongs, The Federation of Damanhur. Damanhur, which means city of light, comprises 800 people who live in communal homes. Founded in 1975, the Federation of Damanhur thinks of itself as the builders of a new civilization that stands for peace and human potential. It prides itself on being an eco-society based on ethical and spiritual values. Falco, as the group's founder is known, said that he always dreamed of the elaborate temples. The group wanted the temple to be "a gift to humanity" once it was completed. Visitors to the halls of the temple have expressed awe, delight and intrigue.

Note: To see photos of the stunning beauty of these temples, click here. Damanhur's visionary Falco died of cancer on June 23, 2013. For more on this great visionary, click here. To watch a one-minute ABC News video giving a glimpse of the beauty of these temples, click here. Watch an awesome video tour of Damanhur and the Temples of Humankind available here. And for an intriguing 15-minute video of experiments done at Damanhur attaching plants to synthesizers to make angelic music, click here.


The New Dawn of Solar
2007-12-01, Popular Science magazine
http://www.popsci.com/popsci/flat/bown/2007/green/item_59.html

Imagine a solar panel without the panel. Just a coating, thin as a layer of paint, that takes light and converts it to electricity. From there, you can picture roof shingles with solar cells built inside and window coatings that seem to suck power from the air. Consider solar-powered buildings stretching not just across sunny Southern California, but through China and India and Kenya as well, because even in those countries, going solar will be cheaper than burning coal. That’s the promise of thin-film solar cells: solar power that’s ubiquitous because it’s cheap. The basic technology has been around for decades, but this year, Silicon Valley–based Nanosolar created the manufacturing technology that could make that promise a reality. The company produces its PowerSheet solar cells with printing-press-style machines that set down a layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil, so the panels can be made for about a tenth of what current panels cost and at a rate of several hundred feet per minute. Nanosolar’s first commercial cells rolled off the presses this year. Cost has always been one of solar’s biggest problems. Traditional solar cells require silicon, and silicon is an expensive commodity. That means even the cheapest solar panels cost about $3 per watt of energy they go on to produce. To compete with coal, that figure has to shrink to just $1 per watt. Nanosolar’s cells use no silicon, and the company’s manufacturing process allows it to create cells that are as efficient as most commercial cells for as little as 30 cents a watt. "It really is quite a big deal in terms of altering the way we think about solar and in inherently altering the economics of solar," says Dan Kammen, founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley.

Note: For exciting reports of other new energy technologies, click here.


Microcredit pioneers win Nobel Peace Prize
2006-10-13, USA Today/Associated Press
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-10-13-norway-nobel_x.htm

Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their pioneering use of tiny, seemingly insignificant loans — microcredit — to lift millions out of poverty. "Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty," the Nobel Committee said in its citation. "Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights." Grameen Bank was the first lender to hand out microcredit, giving very small loans to poor Bangladeshis who did not qualify for loans from conventional banks. No collateral is needed and repayment is based on an honor system. Anyone can qualify for a loan — the average is about $200 — but recipients are put in groups of five. Once two members of the group have borrowed money, the other three must wait for the funds to be repaid before they get a loan. The method encourages social responsibility. The results are hard to argue with — the bank says it has a 99% repayment rate. Since Yunus gave out his first loans in 1974, microcredit schemes have spread throughout the developing world and are now considered a key to alleviating poverty and spurring development. Worldwide, microcredit financing is estimated to have helped some 17 million people. "Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development," the Nobel citation said. Today, the bank claims to have 6.6 million borrowers, 97% of whom are women, and provides services in more than 70,000 villages in Bangladesh. Its model of micro-financing has inspired similar efforts around the world.

Note: Why not reduce involvement in the stock market and invest instead in ending poverty? You still get a return on your investment while knowing that your money is helping to pull entire families out of poverty. To make a real difference in helping to reduce poverty in a dramatic way, see our empowering microcredit summary, which describes how you can easily participate this inspiring worldwide movement.


Injected Cells Cure Tumors in Mice
2006-05-09, Los Angeles Times
http://articles.latimes.com/2006/may/09/science/sci-cancer9

White blood cells from mice that are naturally immune to cancer cured tumors in other mice and provided them with lifelong immunity to the disease, researchers reported Monday. The finding indicates the existence of a biological pathway previously unsuspected in any species. A small team of researchers is working to understand the genetic and immunological basis of the surprising phenomenon. Preliminary studies hint at the existence of a similar resistance in humans. Researchers hope that harnessing the biological process could lead to a new approach to treating cancer. But Dr. Zhen Cui of Wake Forest, whose team published the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, said he expected rapid replication of the results because the findings were so clear-cut and easily observed. "This is a truly remarkable phenomenon -- and it really needs confirmation from other institutions," he said. The team took white blood cells from the immune mice ... and injected them into mice already carrying a variety of tumors, some of which were extremely aggressive. In every case, the cancers were destroyed, even if the cells were injected at a point distant from the tumor. Healthy tissues were not affected. The mice that received the cells, furthermore, were protected from new tumors for the rest of their lives. The researchers have no idea how the immunity continues.

Note: Why was this not in the headlines and not given a title like "Cancer Cure Found for Mice"? Most major papers didn't even report the story, and an article in the New York Times was titled simply "A Strain of Mice Appears Able to Resist Cancer Cells." Could it be that the power brokers in the medical industry know that a cancer cure would cause huge financial losses for them? For what happened to an incredible scientist in the past who discovered a cancer cure for humans, click here.


A change of heart changes everything
2005-06-01, Ode Magazine, June 2005 Issue
http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/24/a_change_of_heart_changes_everything

A California institute demonstrates how people can actually make their heart beat in a healthier way. HeartMath’s research shows that emotions work much faster, and are more powerful, than thoughts. And that—when it comes to the human body—the heart is much more important than the brain to overall health and well-being. Briefly re-experiencing a cherished memory creates synchronization in your heart rhythm in mere seconds. Using a simple prescription that consists of a number of exercises that anyone can do anywhere in a few minutes ... HeartMath is successfully battling the greatest threat to health, happiness and peace in this world: stress. A successful anti-stress strategy provides results precisely at the moment the stress is experienced. This is what HeartMath does, which is why its client list now includes such leading companies as Hewlett Packard, Shell, Unilever, Cisco Systems, and Boeing. HeartMath ... has published a large body of scientific research in established and respected publications such as the Harvard Business Review and the American Journal of Cardiology. You can learn the techniques in five minutes and get positive results if you do them a few times a day for 30 seconds. Feelings of compassion, love, care and appreciation produce a smoothly rolling ... heart rhythm, while feelings of anger, frustration, fear and danger emit a jagged ... image. When people experience love, they not only feel happy and joyful, but they also produce ... the hormone that prevents aging and gives us feelings of youthful vitality. HeartMath’s slogan – a change of heart changes everything – pretty much sums it up. We can change the world, starting with ourselves.

Note: To visit the inspiring website of the Institute of HeartMath, see http://www.heartmath.org.


Academic turns city into a social experiment
2004-03-11, Harvard University Gazette
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2004/03.11/01-mockus.html

Antanas Mockus had just resigned from the top job of Colombian National University. A mathematician and philosopher, Mockus looked around for another big challenge. Mockus, who had no political experience, ran for mayor of Bogotá. Mockus turned Bogotá into a social experiment just as the city was choked with violence, lawless traffic, [and] corruption. People were desperate for a change. The eccentric Mockus, who communicates through symbols, humor, and metaphors, filled the role. When many hated the disordered and disorderly city of Bogotá, he wore a Superman costume and acted as a superhero called "Supercitizen." People laughed at Mockus' antics, but the laughter began to break the ice. Mockus ... finished his second term as mayor this past January. The fact that he was seen as an unusual leader gave the new mayor the opportunity to try extraordinary things, such as hiring 420 mimes to control traffic in Bogotá's chaotic and dangerous streets. He launched a "Night for Women" and asked the city's men to stay home in the evening and care for the children; 700,000 women went out on the first of three nights. Mockus sees the reduction of homicides from 80 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1993 to 22 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2003 as a major achievement. Yet Mockus doesn't like to be called a leader. "To me, it is important to develop collective leadership." Most important to Mockus was his campaign about the importance and sacredness of life. "In a society where human life has lost value," he said, "there cannot be a higher priority than re-establishing respect for life as the main right and duty of citizens."

Note: Don't miss the entire, highly inspiring story of political transformation with great photos at the link above, or for a shorter version, click here.


Who's in charge here? No one
2003-04-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2003/apr/27/theobserver.observerbusiness7

Semco, Brazil's most famous company ... made its name by standing the conventional corporate rulebook on its head. Semco doesn't have a mission statement, its own rulebook or any written policies. It doesn't have an organisation chart, a human resources department or even, these days, a headquarters. Subordinates choose their managers, decide how much they are paid and when they work. Meetings are voluntary, and two seats at board meetings are open to the first employees who turn up. Salaries are made public, and so is all the company's financial information. Six months is the farthest ahead the group ever looks. Its units each half-year decide how many people they require for the next period. Naturally it doesn't plan which businesses to enter. Instead it 'rambles' into new areas by trial, error and argument. Its current portfolio is an odd mixture of machinery, property, professional services and fledgling hi-tech spin-offs. That's right, Semco is the epitome of managerial incorrectness. Sounds like a recipe for chaos, eh? Yet Semco has surfed Brazil's rough economic and political currents with panache, often growing at between 30 and 40 per cent a year. It turns over $160 million, up from $4m when [company founder Ricardo] Semler joined the family business two decades ago, and it employs 3,000 [people]. $100,000 invested in this barmy firm 20 years ago would now be worth $5m. But conventional control attitudes are deeply programmed. Even now, laments Semler, 'we're only 50 or 60 per cent where we'd like to be'.

Note: Ricardo Semler's wonderfully subversive book, The Seven Day Weekend is available on amazon.com. Don't miss the inspiring TedTalk of this highly innovative man.


Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious?
2018-02-02, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/science/plants-consciousness-anesthesia.html

Your houseplant salutes the sun each morning. At night, it returns to center. You probably don’t think much of it. But what about all the signs of plant intelligence that have been observed? Under poor soil conditions, the pea seems to be able to assess risk. The sensitive plant can make memories and learn. And plants can communicate with one another and with caterpillars. Now, a study published recently in Annals of Botany has shown that plants can be frozen in place with a range of anesthetics, including the types that are used when you undergo surgery. Insights gleaned from the study may help doctors better understand the variety of anesthetics used in surgeries. But the research also highlights that plants are ... perhaps less different from animals than is often assumed. “Plants are not just robotic, stimulus-response devices,” said [study co-author] Frantisek Baluska, a plant cell biologist. Plants ... take in information from their environment and produce their own anesthetics like menthol, ethanol and cocaine, similar to how humans release chemicals that dull pain during trauma. Our anesthetics work on plants too, the study confirmed, although what exactly they’re working on is unclear. The electrical activity that moves across neurons is thought by some scientists to contribute to human consciousness. If electrical activity is being disrupted by anesthetic in plants, too, causing them to “lose consciousness,” does that mean, in some way, that they are conscious?

Note: Don't miss a time-lapse video of a pea plant responding to an anesthetic at the link above. And check out a fascinating video of plants making music. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Where There Is Gravity, Let There Be Light
2017-10-31, National Geographic
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/10/sponsor-content-where-there-is-gr...

British designers are using the power of gravity to generate electricity, bringing safe and affordable light to people living off-grid. The kerosene that fuels most off-grid lamps is very expensive. Kerosene is also dirty and dangerous. In 2009 ... designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves were challenged to create a safe, affordable, and sustainable lamps for low-income families living off-grid. Looking beyond solar and battery power, they had a lightbulb moment about gravity. Lifting a weight creates a potential energy store which is turned into kinetic energy as the weight descends. Through the GravityLight’s innovative gear train, this kinetic energy spins a generator that produces enough electrical energy to power an LED bulb. When the light goes out, the weight is simply hoisted back up to begin again. GravityLight has been piloted in Kenya where kerosene lamps are used extensively, especially in rural areas. A 50-night roadshow, supported by International celebrities, saw GravityLight engage with communities and organizations across the country. The results were impressive, with 90% of people saying they were happy to switch from kerosene. Little wonder, as the benefits quickly stack up. The GravityLight pays for itself in just seven weeks, and delivers an immediate improvement in the air quality of the home. It is clean, robust, renewable, reliable, and safe—as well as being better for the environment, giving off no CO2 or black carbon emissions.

Note: Watch a great two-minute video on this ingenious invention.


The US government keeps spectacularly underestimating solar energy installation
2017-10-19, Quartz
https://qz.com/1103874/the-us-government-underestimated-solar-energy-installa...

Every two years, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), America’s official source for energy statistics, issues 10-year projections about how much solar, wind and conventional energy the future holds for the US. Every two years, since the mid-1990s, the EIA’s projections turn out to be wrong. Last year, they proved spectacularly wrong. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, and Statista recently teamed up to analyze the EIA’s predictions for energy usage and production. They found that the EIA’s 10-year estimates between 2006 to 2016 systematically understated the share of wind, solar and gas. Solar capacity, in particular, was a whopping 4,813% [or 48 times] more in 2016 than the EIA had predicted in 2006 it would be. The EIA regularly underestimates the growth in renewables but overestimates US fossil-fuel consumption. These estimates matter because they form the basis for actions by the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. The agency’s “projections bear little resemblance to market realities” because they ignore publicly available evidence, argues the clean-energy non-profit Advanced Energy Economy. Michael Grunwald at Politico reports the EIA seems to base its projections on the assumption that renewable energy costs won’t fall much, when in fact they keep plunging.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Buy Nothing Project: free clothes, toys, food - even a wedding
2017-10-03, Seattle Times/Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sns-tns-bc-hby-buy-nothing-20171003-...

When Erika Dudra moved to Beacon Hill two years ago, she didn't know any of her neighbors. Dudra soon discovered a Facebook group called Buy Nothing Beacon Hill North. The premise of the group was simple: Offer up something that you don't need, or ask for something you do need. She joined to get rid of a couch, but then started asking for baby things. As a result, "I have a 2-year-old now who basically cost me nothing," she said. When Dudra remarried ... she threw a "Buy Nothing wedding" with a donated dress, cake, decor, flowers, an American Sign Language interpreter for deaf relatives and a wedding photographer. To participants, Buy Nothing is about more than just fighting consumer culture, though. Today, all of Dudra's best friends are people she met on Buy Nothing. Since this network was started in 2013 ... members and volunteers have spread the Buy Nothing gospel to more than half a million people in 20 countries. Buy Nothing co-founder Liesl Clark likes to say the project is one-half internet giveaway group and one-half prehistoric Himalayan economics. Inspiration comes from high up in the Himalayas, where Clark has filmed archaeology documentaries for National Geographic and the PBS series "NOVA." In 2007, Clark visited a village in the Upper Mustang area of Nepal that didn't operate on currency. Instead, the village of Samdzong operated on a "gift economy" when a villager needed something, she or he would simply ask. Residents kept communal goats and sheep and took turns watching each other's fields.

Note: Watch an inspiring video on this great project.


Probiotic Bacteria Could Protect Newborns From Deadly Infection
2017-08-16, NPR
http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/08/16/543920822/probiotic-bacte...

Scientists in the U.S. and India have found an inexpensive treatment that could possibly save hundreds of thousands of newborns each year. And it turns out, the secret weapon was sitting in Asian kitchens all along: probiotic bacteria that are common in kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables. Feeding babies the microbes dramatically reduces the risk newborns will develop sepsis, scientists report ... in the journal Nature. Sepsis is a top killer of newborns worldwide. Each year more than 600,000 babies die of the blood infections. "All the sudden the baby stops being active. It stops crying and breastfeeding," says Dr. Pinaki Panigrahi, a pediatrician ... who led the study. For the past 20 years, Panigrahi has been working on a way to prevent sepsis. The tricky part, Panigrahi says, was figuring out the best strain of bacteria to protect against sepsis. "We screened more than 280 strains," Panigrahi says. "So it was a very methodical process." In the end, the one that seemed the most promising was a strain of lactobacillus plantarum. So Panigrahi and his team decided to move forward with a large-scale study. They were shocked by how well the bacteria worked. Babies who ate the microbes for a week ... had a dramatic reduction in their risk of death and sepsis. They dropped by 40 percent, from 9 percent to 5.4 percent. But that's not all. The probiotic also warded off several other types of infections, including those in the lungs. Respiratory infections dropped by about 30 percent. A course of the probiotic costs about $1 per baby.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


More than 120 nations adopt treaty to ban nuclear weapons at UN meeting
2017-07-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/g20-summit-120-countries-ado...

More than 120 countries approved the first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons Friday at a UN meeting boycotted by all nuclear-armed nations. To loud applause, Elayne Whyte Gomez, president of the UN conference that has been negotiating the legally binding treaty, announced the results of the “historic” vote — 122 nations in favour, the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. “We have managed to sow the first seeds of a world free of nuclear weapons,” Whyte Gomez said. “We (are) ... saying to our children that, yes, it is possible to inherit a world free from nuclear weapons. The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years,” since atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 at the end of World War II, she said. None of the nine countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — is supporting the treaty. The treaty will be opened for signatures in September and come into force when 50 countries have ratified it, [Whyte Gomez] said, and its language leaves the door open for nuclear weapon states to become parties to the agreement. The treaty requires of all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances to develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices - and the threat to use such weapons.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Town Adopted Trauma-Informed Care—And Saw a Decrease in Crime and Suspension Rates
2017-02-22, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/this-town-adopted-trauma-informed-car...

There was a time at Lincoln, a school once known as a last resort for those who were expelled from the area’s other high schools, when fights often ended in out-of-school suspensions or arrests. But Principal Jim Sporleder ... created an environment built on empathy and redemption through a framework called trauma-informed care, which acknowledges the presence of childhood trauma in addressing behavioral issues. The practices ... begin with the understanding that childhood trauma can cause adulthood struggles like lack of focus, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide. At Lincoln ... the graduation rate increased by about 30 percent and suspensions decreased by almost 85 percent a year after implementing the framework. Sporleder first arrived at the school in April 2007. The building was in a constant state of chaos. Sporleder took a hard line by handing out ... three-day out-of-school suspensions. Then, in the spring of 2010, he attended a workshop ... on the impacts of stressful childhood experiences. Keynote speaker John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, explained how toxic stress overfills the brain with cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Sporleder suddenly understood that his students’ behavior wasn’t completely in their control; their brains were affected by toxic stress. “It just hit me like a bolt of lightning that my discipline was punitive and it was not teaching kids,” he said. So he set out on a mission to bring trauma-informed care to his students.

Note: In the article above, students and educators share many personal success stories made possible by Lincoln's adoption of trauma-informed care. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Vitamin D pills 'could stop colds or flu'
2017-02-16, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38988982

Vitamin D supplements could spare more than three million people from colds or flu in the UK each year, researchers claim. The sunshine vitamin is vital for healthy bones, but also has a role in the immune system. The analysis, published in the British Medical Journal, argues food should be fortified with the vitamin. The immune system uses vitamin D to make antimicrobial weapons that puncture holes in bacteria and viruses. But as vitamin D is made in the skin while out in the sun, many people have low levels during winter. The researchers pooled data on 11,321 people from 25 separate trials to try to get a definitive answer. The team at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) looked at respiratory tract infections - which covers a wide range of illnesses from a sniffle to flu to pneumonia. Overall, the study said one person would be spared infection for every 33 taking vitamin D supplements. That is more effective than flu vaccination, which needs to treat 40 to prevent one case. There were greater benefits for those taking pills daily or weekly - rather than in monthly super-doses - and in people who were deficient in the first place. One of the researchers, Prof Adrian Martineau, said: "Assuming a UK population of 65 million, and that 70% have at least one acute respiratory infection each year, then daily or weekly vitamin D supplements will mean 3.25 million fewer people would get at least one acute respiratory infection a year."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A Dose of a Hallucinogen From a ‘Magic Mushroom,’ and Then Lasting Peace
2016-12-01, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/health/hallucinogenic-mushrooms-psilocybin-...

On a summer morning in 2013, Octavian Mihai entered a softly lit room. He swallowed a capsule of psilocybin, an ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. Then he put on an eye mask and headphones and lay down on a couch. Mr. Mihai, who had just finished treatment for Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was participating in a study looking at whether the drug can reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Throughout that eight-hour session, a psychiatrist and a social worker ... stayed by his side. The results from that study, and a similar small, controlled trial, were striking. About 80 percent of cancer patients showed clinically significant reductions in both psychological disorders, a response sustained some seven months after the single dose. Side effects were minimal. In both trials, the intensity of the mystical experience described by patients correlated with the degree to which their depression and anxiety decreased. Although cancer patients will not have access to therapeutically administered psilocybin anytime soon, the findings add vigor to applications to expand research in a multicenter trial with hundreds of participants. Psilocybin trials are underway in the United States and Europe for alcoholism, tobacco addiction and treatment-resistant depression. Other hallucinogens are also being studied for clinical application. This week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a large-scale trial investigating MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy, for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Note: See another article in the UK's Independent showing remarkable results from these studies. Learn more about the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs now being explored by the scientific community.


Giving thanks
2016-11-22, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/11/22/giving-thanks/?...

Global poverty is in decline. Jim Pethokoukis writes, “Over the past 30 years, the share of our fellow humans living in extreme poverty has decreased to 21% from 52%. That’s a billion fewer people in extreme poverty. An extraordinary achievement.” People are living longer. The World Health Organization reports, “Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s. Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s. The 2000-2015 increase was greatest in the WHO African Region, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years.” Americans are extraordinarily charitable. The National Center for Charitable Statistics found, “Giving by individuals makes up the vast majority of contributions received by nonprofit organizations. Individual giving amounted to $258.51 billion in 2014, an increase of 7.1 percent in current dollars from 2013. This accounts for 72 percent of all contributions received in 2014.” We are becoming less violent. You’d never know it from listening to politicians or the media, but it is provably true. Psychologist Steven Pinker, author of “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” in an interview this year explained: “I looked at homicide, looked at war, looked at genocide, looked at terrorism. And in all cases, the long-term historical trend, though there are ups and downs ... is absolutely downward. The rate of violent crime in United States has fallen by more than half in just a decade. The rate of death in war fell by a factor of 100 over a span of 25 years.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Where Citizens Can Run for Office Without Big Money—and Win
2016-11-04, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/50-solutions/where-citizens-can-run-for-off...

The Maine Clean Elections Act, originally passed in 1996 and strengthened in 2015, gives candidates the option to finance campaigns with taxpayer dollars. Candidates who choose to run a publicly financed campaign don’t need to spend time courting wealthy donors - in fact, they’re prohibited from raising private money. Instead, constituents show their support through $5 contributions to the Maine Clean Elections Fund made on behalf of a candidate. But that money doesn’t go to the candidate - instead, it shows support and helps fund the public-financing program. Once candidates have raised the required number of donations, they receive a flat fee from the state, which can vary depending on the office being sought. During [State representative Joyce] McCreight’s first campaign, in 2014, the state gave her nearly $5,000 once she’d collected 60 contributions. She won, and by the end of her first term, she’d helped to write a bill that makes it easy for low-income people without insurance to get reproductive health [services]. The bill passed, and McCreight expects it to save the state $2.5 million a year. McCreight’s story ... was made possible by a network of activists who came together in 1995 to draft and support the Maine Clean Elections Act. The Clean Elections system has given Maine the most economically diverse legislature in the nation. About 14 percent of Maine legislators are working class: waitresses, cashiers, machinists. Only 2 percent of the U.S. Congress comes from similar backgrounds.

Note: Why is the major media not reporting this important and inspiring news? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dutch justice? Falling crime rates and prison closures
2016-10-17, DutchNews.nl
http://www.dutchnews.nl/features/2016/10/falling-crime-rates-and-prison-closu...

The closure of five prisons in as many years against the background of a falling crime rate, is the kind of news many governments would give their eye teeth for. The impact could have been even more dramatic if the government had adopted the recommendations of a prison service report published in July, which concluded that eight jails and three youth detention centres will be surplus to requirements by the year 2021. The official figures indicate that recorded crime has been falling for around a decade. Between 2014 and 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, recorded crime was down by nearly 5%, according to national statistics office CBS. In total, recorded crime has shrunk by 25% over the past eight years. Crime figures [have] been falling in nearly all western nations this century, but the decline in the Dutch prison population has been spectacular. In 2006 the Netherlands had the second highest number of inmates in Europe with 125 prisoners per 100,000 population. Only the UK, with 145, had a larger share. But by last year the Dutch were down to Scandinavian levels, with 69 out of every 100,000 citizens behind bars. The government says prison closures are inevitable because it costs too much to keep empty cells open. Official forecasts predict that the downward trend in crime will continue, though how far the fall reflects an actual drop in criminal behaviour remains a hotly contested issue.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Acidity in atmosphere minimized to preindustrial levels
2016-09-24, Science Daily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160924223232.htm

New research shows that human pollution of the atmosphere with acid is now almost back to the level that it was before the pollution started with industrialisation in the 1930s. The results come from studies of the Greenland ice sheet and are published in the scientific journal, Environmental Science and Technology. By drilling ice cores down through the kilometre-thick ice sheet, the researchers can analyse every single annual layer, which can tell us about ... pollutants in the atmosphere. Acid in the atmosphere can come from large volcanic eruptions and human-made emissions from industry. For many years, there has been a quest to solve the problem of measuring acidity in the porous annual layers of the ice and now scientists from the Niels Bohr Institute have succeeded [by employing] a Continuous Flow Analyses or CFA method. The CFA system can ... distinguish whether the emissions come from volcanic eruptions, large forest fires or industry. The researchers can therefore filter out both volcanic eruptions and forest fires in the assessment of industrial pollution and the new results are revolutionary. "We can see that the acid pollution in the atmosphere from industry has fallen dramatically since humanmade acid pollution took off in the 1930s and peaked in the 1960s and 70s. In the 1970s, both Europe and the United States adopted the 'The clean air act amendments', which required filters in factories, thus reducing acid emissions," explains [researcher] Helle Astrid Kjćr.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Veteran Homelessness Has Dropped By Nearly 50% Since 2010: Report
2016-08-01, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/veteran-homelessness-has-dropped-by-nearl...

Veteran homelessness has dropped nearly in half since 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced. On a given night in January, there were fewer than 40,000 homeless veterans, according to the country’s annual Point-in-Time count. That marked a 47 percent decrease since the same count was conducted six years prior. The success was due to the White House’s first-ever strategic plan to end veteran homelessness and a unique partnership between HUD and the Department of Veteran Affairs. Through the collaboration, HUD provides rental assistance to homeless veterans and the VA complements it with case management and clinical services. Since 2010, more than 360,000 veterans and their families have been permanently housed, rapidly rehoused or were spared from becoming homeless through HUD and VA programs. “The dramatic decline in veteran homelessness reflects the power of partnerships in solving complex national problems on behalf of those who have served our nation,” Robert A. McDonald, VA secretary, said in a statement. “The men and women who have fought for this nation should not have to fight to keep a roof over their head.” Numerous studies over the years have found that the concept of housing first, which touts providing housing to homeless people in need before addressing their health or economic issues, is effective and cost efficient.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Steemit: Get on the blockchain social media juggernaut and earn cryptocurrency for posting content
2016-07-15, International Business Times
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/steemit-get-blockchain-social-media-juggernaut-earn-...

"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.

Note: Unlike other social media platforms such as Facebook, Steemit is technically impossible to censor and is owned by everyone that uses it. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A Medical Mystery of the Best Kind: Major Diseases Are in Decline
2016-07-08, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/10/upshot/a-medical-mystery-of-the-best-kind-m...

Something strange is going on in medicine. Major diseases, like colon cancer, dementia and heart disease, are waning in wealthy countries, and improved diagnosis and treatment cannot fully explain it. Scientists marvel at this good news, a medical mystery of the best sort. The leading killers are still the leading killers - cancer, heart disease, stroke - but they are occurring later in life, and people in general are living longer in good health. Colon cancer is the latest conundrum. While the overall cancer death rate has been declining since the early 1990s, the plunge in colon cancer deaths is especially perplexing: The rate has fallen by nearly 50 percent since its peak in the 1980s. [Dr. Steven R. Cummings of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute], intrigued by the waning of disease, has a provocative idea for further investigation. He starts with two observations: Rates of disease after disease are dropping. Even the rate of “all-cause mortality,” which lumps together chronic diseases, is falling. And every one of those diseases at issue is linked to aging. Perhaps, he said, all these degenerative diseases share something in common, something inside aging cells themselves. The cellular process of aging may be changing, in humans’ favor. For too long, he said, researchers have looked under the lamppost at things they can measure. “I want to look inside cells,” Dr. Cummings said. Inside, there could be more clues to this happy mystery.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Inside The Chicago Program That Is Slashing Youth Crime Rates
2016-06-27, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/chicago-becoming-a-man-program_us_576ee54...

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


13-Year-Old Creates Energy Harvesting Device
2016-02-18, KTVN News (A leading news channel of Reno, Nevada)
http://www.ktvn.com/story/31260413/13-year-old-creates-energy-harvesting-device

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."

Note: Don't miss this video of the most amazing 13-year-old who just may have solved the energy problems of our world!!! For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing new energy technology news articles from reliable major media sources.


Animal Communicators Prove it’s Possible to Hear an Animal’s Thoughts
2016-01-19, Waking Times
http://www.wakingtimes.com/2016/01/19/animal-communicators-prove-its-possible...

Animal communicators are people who can fully communicate with an animal just as they would with a normal human person. The communication is telepathic and 2-way. Animal communicators have most likely existed for a long time, probably in every single culture in the world. Anna Breytenbach is a professional animal communicator. Anna was summoned in the case of the black leopard who had been moved to a South African wild cat park. He was given the name Diabolo (similar to the Spanish word for devil) and ... snarled at anyone who went near. The owners of the park were afraid of approaching him. They summoned an animal communicator (Anna) for help. After communicating with the leopard, she learnt that one of the reasons for him being upset was that he thought something was expected of him. The other reason was that he was worried about what had happened to 2 young cubs at the last place he was being kept. When Anna relayed this to the park owner, [he] broke down and cried. He confirmed that they were indeed 2 young cubs at the previous place. He told Anna to reassure the black leopard that nothing would be expected of him here - and that the 2 young cubs were safe. This relieved the leopard to the point where he opened up and became friendly. His name was subsequently changed to something more fitting – Spirit. There is no way Anna could possibly have known this information beforehand. She learnt it telepathically. She was told this by an animal!

Note: Watch videos of several animal communicators in action at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Science Helps Us Find the Good
2015-10-24, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1153/how-science-helps-us-find-the-good-jeremy...

In a study published in the January edition of the journal Mindfulness, psychologists ... asked 313 adults if they had helped anyone during the previous week. Eighty-five percent said they had — by, say, listening to a friend’s problems, babysitting, donating to charity, or volunteering. This small study reveals a truth that is consistently demonstrated in many domains of research: We care deeply for one other, and ... would rather help our fellow beings than not. Even more, the science shows that refusing to help others can have debilitating, long-term mental and physical consequences for ourselves. Isolation hurts, physically; so does aggression. Every angry word we utter fries neurons and wears out our hearts. Here’s an experiment you can perform right now: Think about something stressful that happened to you during the past week. Now scan your body: How does your chest, stomach, or neck feel? Then think about something good that happened during the same period, however small. Now what happens in your body? Did you feel any difference? The research predicts that the stressful memory caused you physical discomfort. Your tight chest and clenched stomach doesn’t make the world a better place. So what can you do? Science has an answer, and it starts with counting ... the good things in life. That doesn’t mean we ignore the bad. But all too often our negativity bias leads us to see only the bad, in other people as well as in ourselves. By counting the good things, we see reality more clearly.

Note: The new site Greater Good in Action offers concrete, research-tested practices for individuals to cultivate strengths like awe, gratitude, empathy, and compassion.


Muslim and Jewish groups at forefront of efforts to rebuild black churches
2015-07-10, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/10/muslim-jewish-groups-fundraising...

More than a half-dozen black churches have burnt to the ground in the American south since the killing of nine black people inside a historic African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month. Since the shooting, authorities have ruled at least three of the church fires to be arson. In the wake of those arsons, dozens of religious institutions and nonprofits have raised cash for those churches. To the surprise of some pastors, the recovery effort is being partially led by Jewish and Muslim leaders, who understand both the sanctity of houses of worship and the seriousness of attacks against them. Faatimah Knight, a 23-year-old black Muslim student, has helped organize a group of Muslim nonprofits including Ummah Wide, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, and the Arab American Association of New York. With one week left, the crowd-funded campaign has raised more than $58,000 from over 1,300 donors. Rabbi Susan Talve, who heads the Central Reform Congregation in St Louis, Missouri, says a broad coalition of more 150 religious institutions has raised more than $150,000 toward its $250,000 goal to help rebuild black churches. She says the groups involved with the Rebuild the Churches Fund began working together after the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson. “We believe the church is the heart and soul of a community,” Talve says. “So we wanted to help them out. If you burn them down with hate, we’re going to build them back with love ... better and stronger.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


What’s Next for the World’s Largest Federation of Worker-Owned Co-Ops?
2015-06-12, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/world-s-largest-federation-of-worker-o...

What if there were an alternative corporate model ... that was still globally competitive but empowered local workers and addresses income inequality? Mondragon Corporation [is] a federation of 103 worker-owned cooperatives based in the Basque region of Spain. The corporation employs more than 74,000 people around the world. About 60,000 are worker-owners. Managers at Mondragon cannot make more than six times the salary of their lowest paid workers. YES! talked with Josu Ugarte, the president of Mondragon International. UGARTE: We combine economic issues with social ones. Apart from sharing profits, ownership, and management, we have three key values: solidarity, inter-cooperation, and social transformation. Our solidarity in terms of salaries changes the distribution of wealth in society. If the Basque region in Spain were a country, it would have the second-lowest income inequality in the world. This is social transformation. One thing I want to point out is that we’re a business, so we need to remain competitive. If we don’t do that, then we cannot create and share value. There are differences in the profitability of different companies within Mondragon. For example, if one company is turning a profit every year, then they are giving 30 percent of that profit to Mondragon. [If] another company gives nothing because they are not making a profit, [then] that can seem unfair. But the company that is successful today may have needed help 20 years ago. That is ... one of the keys of our success.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Belgian Muslim Community Reminds Us That Peacefully 'Living Together' Is the Under-reported Norm
2015-06-03, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-raushenbush/belgium-synagogue-muslim-commu...

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.


The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions
2015-04-17, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/04/17/the-surprisin...

The story of how Utah solved chronic homelessness begins in 2003. The number of chronic homeless had surged since the early 1970s. And related costs were soaring. In 2005, Utah had nearly 1,932 chronically homeless. By 2014, that number had dropped 72 percent to 539. Today, explained Gordon Walker, the director of the state Housing and Community Development Division, the state is “approaching a functional zero.” How Utah accomplished this didn’t require complex theorems or statistical models. For years, the thought of simply giving the homeless homes seemed absurd, constituting the height of government waste. But that’s exactly what Utah did. “If you want to end homelessness, you put people in housing,” Walker said in an interview. “This is relatively simple.” The state started setting up each chronically homeless person with his or her own house. Then it got them counseling to help with their demons. Such services, the thinking went, would afford them with safety and security that experts say is necessary to re-acclimate to modern life. Homelessness is stressful. It’s nearly impossible, most experts agree, to get off drugs or battle mental illness while undergoing such travails. These days, Walker says the state saves $8,000 per homeless person in annual expenses. “We’ve saved millions on this,” Walker said. And now, the chronic homeless are no longer tallied in numbers. They’re tallied by name. The last few are awaiting their houses.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The key to our happiness is connection, not competition
2015-03-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/mar/20/key-to-happiness-...

Charles Darwin is normally associated with the "survival of the fittest" theory. He also ... wrote that the communities most likely to flourish were "those with the most sympathetic members", an observation backed up by research that we are wired to care about each other. But we have such a strong cultural narrative about the selfish side of humanity that we adopt systems and behaviours that undermine our natural co-operative tendencies. This starts in schools, where the relentless focus on exams and attainment instills in young people the idea that success is about doing better than others. It continues in our marketing culture, which encourages conspicuous displays of consumption and rivalry. It's found at the heart of our workplaces, where employees compete with each other for performance-related rewards. This "get ahead or lose out" ethos [is] deeply flawed. In schools, helping young people to develop social and emotional skills [has] been shown to boost their performance. In workplaces, research ... shows that "givers" - people who help others without seeking anything in return - are more successful in the long term than "takers" - who try to maximise benefits for themselves, rather than others. For society as a whole, the World Happiness Report 2013, a major global study, found that two of the strongest explanatory factors for national wellbeing are levels of social support and generosity.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Portugal Cut Addiction Rates in Half by Connecting Drug Users With Communities Instead of Jailing Them
2015-02-12, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/portugal-cut-drug-addiction-rates-in...

The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself. But in the 1970s ... Bruce Alexander noticed [that] the rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends. The rats with good lives ... mostly shunned [the drugged water]. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did. Professor Alexander argues [that] addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage. This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection. This isn’t [just] theoretical. 15 years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with one percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The results? Since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent.

Note: The complete article tells the story of internationally renown journalist Johann Hari's profound shift in thinking about addiction as he personally investigated Portugal's inspiring success.


The people who refuse to grow old
2015-01-26, BBC
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150126-the-people-who-refuse-to-grow-old

Russian photojournalist [Vladimir Yakovlev] started his Age of Happiness project in 2011, documenting people around the world who defy our expectations of ageing. Yakovlev has just published a book based on his project. Called How I Would Like To Be When I Am 70?, it features 30 people who refuse to age appropriately, including a 75-year-old surfer, a 103-year-old marathon runner and a 79-year-old porn star. “It started as a very personal project,” says Yakovlev. “I was over fifty, I wanted to find out what can I expect in the future and most importantly to what extend I can affect whatever will be happening to me.” Duan Tzinfu changed the way he lived when he spotted a group of people exercising in a Beijing park. “These were people much older than him who did the splits with ease. Duan couldn't even bend over without a big sigh,” says Yakovlev, who photographed him in July 2011, at the age of 73. “After 50 years of working at a glass factory ... Duan could barely walk.” But Duan joined the group, practising stretching and breathing exercises ... and now, aged 76, can perform moves that would challenge much younger people. Yakovlev has travelled to nine countries for his project, including France, Italy and India. Yakovlev describes the attitude that seems to link many of his subjects. “Pat Moorehead, a skydiver, celebrated his 80th birthday by making 80 skydives in a row, non-stop. He says: ‘Happiness is just a choice, a life-style. I think that is true – about happiness ... and about staying young as well.”

Note: Don't miss the beautiful photos from this incredible project at the link above. These elders will astonish and inspire you.


FBI: Violent crime drops, reaches 1970s level
2014-11-10, Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-violent-crime-1970s-level-...

U.S. violent crimes including murders fell 4.4 percent in 2013 to their lowest number since the 1970s, continuing a decades-long downturn, the FBI said on Monday. The law enforcement agency's annual Crime in the United States report showed the country had an estimated 1.16 million violent crimes last year, the lowest number since 1.09 million were recorded in 1978. All types of violent crimes were lower, with murder and non-negligent manslaughter off 4.4 percent to 14,196, the lowest figure since 1968. Rape was down 6.3 percent and robbery fell 2.8 percent, the Federal Bureau of Investigation data showed. The violent crime rate last year was 367.9 for each 100,000 in population, down 5.1 percent from 2012. The rate has fallen every year since at least 1994, the earliest year for readily accessible FBI data, and the 2013 figure was about half the 1994 rate. Property crimes fell 4.1 percent ... the 11th straight yearly decline. In an analysis, the non-profit Pew Charitable Trusts said the drop in crime coincided with a decline in the prison population, with the number of U.S. prisoners down 6 percent in 2013 from its peak in 2008. Thirty-two of the 50 states have seen a drop in crime rates as the rate of imprisonment fell, Pew said. California notched the largest drop in imprisonment rate over the five-year period, at 15 percent, and crime was down 11 percent. The state has been under court order to reduce prison overcrowding, and voters last week approved an initiative that reduced sentences for some crimes.

Note: Why isn't this inspiring news being broadcast widely by the media? And why hasn't the FBI website updated their data on this since 2010? The police and media appear to consistently downplay the huge drop in violent crime since 1994. According to the FBI's own statistics, violent crime has currently dropped to 1/3 or less what it was in 1994. See the revealing FBI graphs and charts here, here, and here. Yet some of these charts have now been removed and mention of this huge decrease downplayed. The obvious reason is that a large decrease in crime might cause people to want to decrease police and FBI budgets. More here.


7 countries where Americans can study at universities, in English, for free (or almost free)
2014-10-29, Washington Post Blog
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/10/29/7-countries-wher...

Since 1985, U.S. college costs have surged by about 500 percent, and tuition fees keep rising. In Germany, they've done the opposite. The country's universities have been tuition-free since the beginning of October. Tuition rates were always low in Germany, but now the German government fully funds the education of its citizens -- and even of foreigners. Explaining the change, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator in the northern city of Hamburg, said tuition fees "discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study." Germany's higher education landscape primarily consists of internationally well-ranked public universities, some of which receive special funding because the government deems them "excellent institutions." What's more, Americans can earn a German undergraduate or graduate degree without speaking a word of German and without having to pay a single dollar of tuition fees: About 900 undergraduate or graduate degrees are offered exclusively in English, with courses ranging from engineering to social sciences. For some German degrees, you don't even have to formally apply. The vast degree offerings in English are intended to prepare German students to communicate in a foreign language, but also to attract foreign students, because the country needs more skilled workers.

Note: This clearly shows which countries place a high priority on the education of their citizens. Along with Germany, the article discusses Finland, France, Sweden, Norway, Slovenia, and Brazil.


What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?
2014-10-22, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magazine/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a-mind-...

[Psychologist Ellen] Langer gave houseplants to two groups of nursing-home residents. She told one group that they were responsible for keeping the plant alive and that they could also make choices about their schedules. She told the other group that the staff would care for the plants, and they were not given any choice in their schedules. Eighteen months later, twice as many subjects in the plant-caring, decision-making group were still alive than in the control group. To Langer, this was evidence that the biomedical model of the day ... was wrongheaded. She came to think that what people needed to heal themselves was a psychological “prime” - something that triggered the body to take curative measures all by itself. Gathering [a group of] older men together in New Hampshire [in 1981] for what she would later refer to as a counterclockwise study would be a way to test this premise. The men in the experimental group were told ... to “attempt to be the person they were 22 years ago.” At the end of their stay, the men were tested, [and] outperformed a control group. They ... showed greater manual dexterity and sat taller. Their sight improved. The experimental subjects, Langer told me, had “put their mind in an earlier time,” and their bodies went along for the ride. Traditionally minded health researchers acknowledge the role of placebo effects and account for them in their experiments. But Langer goes well beyond that. She thinks ... that in many cases they may actually be the main factor producing the results.

Note: If you are open to being surprised at just how powerful the mind is, don't miss this entire article. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The sports car that runs on saltwater
2014-09-01, Daily Mail (U.K.)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2739768/The-sports-car-runs-SA...

Sports cars may not have the best reputation for being environmentally-friendly, but this sleek machine has been designed to reach 217.5 mph (350 km/h) – using nothing but saltwater. Its radical drive system allows the 5,070lbs (2,300kg) Quant e-Sportlimousine to reach 0-60 mph (100 km/h) in 2.8 seconds, making it as fast as the McLaren P1. After making its debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show in March, the saltwater technology has now been certified for use on European roads. The 920 horsepower (680 kW) Quant e-Sportlimousine uses something known as an electrolyte flow cell power system to power four electric motors within the car. It works in a similar way to a hydrogen fuel cell, however, the liquid used for storing energy is saltwater. The liquid passes through a membrane in between the two tanks, creating an electric charge. This electricity is then stored and distributed by super capacitors. The car carries the water in two 200-litre tanks, which in one sitting will allow drivers to travel up to 373 miles (600km). NanoFlowcell AG, a Lichtenstein-based company behind the drive, is now planning to test the car on public roads in Germany and elsewhere in Europe as the company prepares for series production. It claims the technology offers five times the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries of the same weight. 'We've got major plans, and not just within the automobile industry,' says NanoFlowcell AG Chairman of the Board Professor Jens-Peter Ellermann. 'The potential of the NanoFlowcell is much greater, especially in terms of domestic energy supplies as well as in maritime, rail and aviation technology.'

Note: See the link above for photos and videos of this sleek masterpiece. Why isn't this car and it's unique technology getting more press? For more on this amazing car, see its website and read a gizmag article with more on how the car has received approval to run on European roads. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Organic foods are more nutritious, according to review of 343 studies
2014-07-14, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-organic-foods-20140715-story.html

Most everyone who has ever selected their fruits and vegetables from the "organic" section while grocery shopping probably thought they were doing something good for their bodies and the environment. Yet the question of whether organic foods are in fact more nutritious than their conventionally grown counterparts remains a topic of heated scientific debate. On [July 14], the British Journal of Nutrition published research that disputed the notion that organic foods are essentially no more healthful than conventional foods. After reviewing 343 studies on the topic, researchers in Europe and the United States concluded that organic crops and organic-crop-based foods contained higher concentrations of antioxidants on average than conventionally grown foods. At the same time, the researchers found that conventional foods contained greater concentrations of residual pesticides and the toxic metal cadmium. "This shows clearly that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains deliver tangible nutrition and food safety benefits," said study coauthor Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Note: Read more about this landmark study in this article.


Can what you eat affect your mental health? New research links diet and the mind
2014-03-24, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/can-what-you-eat-affect...

Scientists have recently begun to investigate [whether] food can have as powerful an impact on the mind as it does on the body. Research exploring the link between diet and mental health “is a very new field; the first papers only came out a few years ago,” said Michael Berk, a professor of psychiatry at the Deakin University School of Medicine in Australia. “But the results are unusually consistent, and they show a link between diet quality and mental health.” “Diet quality” refers to the kinds of foods that people eat, how often they eat them and how much of them they eat. In several studies ... Berk and his collaborators have found lower rates of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder among those who consumed a traditional diet of meat and vegetables than among people who followed a modern Western diet heavy with processed and fast foods or even a health-food diet of tofu and salads. “Traditional diets — the kinds of foods your grandmother would have recognized — have been associated with a lower risk of mental health issues,” Berk said. The association between diet and mental well-being may start even before birth. A 2013 study of more than 23,000 mothers and their children, led by Berk’s frequent collaborator and Deakin colleague Felice Jacka, suggests a link between a mother’s consumption of sweets and processed foods during pregnancy and behavioral and mental health issues in her child at age 5.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


The Mindful Revolution
2014-02-03, Time Magazine
http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,2163560,00.html

We're in the midst of a popular obsession with mindfulness as the secret to health and happiness. And a growing body of evidence suggests it has clear benefits. A curriculum called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT-educated scientist. The techniques ... are intended to help practitioners quiet a busy mind, becoming more aware of the present moment and less caught up in what happened earlier or what's to come. Many cognitive therapists commend it to patients as a way to help cope with anxiety and depression. Its strength lies in its universality. It is gaining acceptance with ... Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, FORTUNE 500 titans, Pentagon chiefs and more. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said his meditation practice was directly responsible for his ability to concentrate and ignore distractions. Though meditation is considered an essential means to achieving mindfulness, the ultimate goal is simply to give your attention fully to what you're doing. One can work mindfully, parent mindfully and learn mindfully. Think of your attention as a muscle. As with any muscle, it makes sense to exercise it ... and like any muscle, it will strengthen from that exercise. There are hundreds of mindfulness and meditation apps available from iTunes. Scientists have been able to prove that meditation and rigorous mindfulness training can lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, increase immune response and possibly even affect gene expression. Scientific study is also showing that meditation can have an impact on the structure of the brain itself.

Note: If the above link to the full article fails, click here. For another great article on mindfulness, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Couple Brings Gift of Hearing to Impaired Across the Globe
2014-01-21, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/01/21/couple-brings-gift-of-hearing-t...

In the shadow of Angkor Wat, Cambodia, a place that houses some of the oldest temples on Earth, people, young and old and considered deaf, came by the hundreds looking for a miracle. Bill and Tani Austin of Eden Prairie, Minn., were there in November to prove that most weren’t deaf at all. They say 95 percent of the world’s so-called deaf are merely hearing impaired but can do nothing about it. For 10 months a year, the couple travel around the world to fit the hearing impaired with hearing aids. Last year, the Austins’ Starkey Hearing Foundation fit 165,000 free hearing aids for people in India and the Bronx, from New Orleans to New Guinea. During the visit to Angkor Wat, Tani Austin fit Sarien, 12, with powerful hearing aids to see whether she could get her to respond. Her mother said she was completely deaf. With the hearing aids on, though, Sarien could hear sounds and tried desperately to make sounds for the first time in her life. After Bill Austin got rich running the hearing aid company Starkey — the industry’s only US owned and operated one since 1967 – he made it his mission to spend the money by giving back. He started the foundation in 1984 with wife Tani. Starkey supplies the hearing aids. Their goal: help 1 million people to hear by 2020. So far, nearly 500,000 hearing aids have been distributed around the globe. “For me a day here is better than any day on any beach anywhere in the world. It’s better than any fine meal in Paris. I would stay here and not eat at all and work for these kids and go home tired and say I had a good day,” Bill Austin said.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


The Intelligent Plant
2013-12-23, The New Yorker
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/12/23/the-intelligent-plant

In 1973, a book claiming that plants were sentient beings that feel emotions, prefer classical music to rock and roll, and can respond to the unspoken thoughts of humans hundreds of miles away landed on the New York Times best-seller list. “The Secret Life of Plants,” ... described the experiments of a former C.I.A. polygraph expert named Cleve Backster, who ... found that simply by imagining [a houseplant] being set on fire he could make it rouse the needle of the polygraph machine. Much of the research on plant intelligence has been inspired by ... the ways in which remarkably brainy behavior can emerge in the absence of actual brains. “If you are a plant, having a brain is not an advantage,” Stefano Mancuso points out. Mancuso is perhaps the field’s most impassioned spokesman for the plant point of view. His somewhat grandly named International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, a few miles outside Florence, occupies a modest suite of labs and offices. Giving a tour of the labs, he showed me maize plants, grown under lights, that were being taught to ignore shadows; a poplar sapling hooked up to a galvanometer to measure its response to air pollution; and a chamber in which ... an advanced kind of mass spectrometer continuously read all the volatiles emitted by a succession of plants. “We are making a dictionary of each species’ entire chemical vocabulary,” he explained. He estimates that a plant has three thousand chemicals in its vocabulary, while, he said with a smile, “the average student has only seven hundred words.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Woman's Christmas Letters Reach Husband and New Family Two Years After Her Death
2013-12-22, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/US/womans-christmas-letters-reach-husband-family-years-...

A mother of four has surprised her children, husband and his new fiancée with heartbreaking Christmas letters two years after her death from ovarian cancer. Brenda Schmitz was 46 when she passed away in September 2011. As a parting gift, she entrusted a letter to a friend, who remains anonymous, to deliver when the time was right. A month before she lost her battle to the disease, Schmitz wrote the letter to KSTZ Star 102.5, which runs a Christmas wishes program each year. Listeners send in their Christmas wish letters, and the station elicits the help of sponsors to grant a select few. Brenda's wishes were finally revealed two years later when the station brought her husband, David, into the studio and read the note to him on air last week. "When you are in receipt of this letter, I will have already lost my battle to ovarian cancer," the letter from Brenda began. "I told [my friend] once my loving husband David had moved on in his life and had met someone to share his life with again, to mail this letter to all of you at the station." David had recently become engaged again and Brenda's first wish was a request for the station to give his "new lifelong partner," Jane, a pampering session. "She deserves it, being a stepmother to all those boys," the letter read. "Make her smile and know her efforts are truly appreciated from me. "Thank you," Brenda added. "I love you, whoever you are."

Note: You simply must watch the profound video about this at this link. Incredibly moving! For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Uruguay's president José Mujica: no palace, no motorcade, no frills
2013-12-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/13/uruguay-president-jose-mujica

If anyone could claim to be leading by example in an age of austerity, it is José Mujica, Uruguay's president, who has forsworn a state palace in favour of a farmhouse, donates the vast bulk of his salary to social projects, flies economy class and drives an old Volkswagen Beetle. But the former guerrilla fighter is clearly disgruntled by those who tag him "the world's poorest president" and – much as he would like others to adopt a more sober lifestyle – the 78-year-old has been in politics long enough to recognise the folly of claiming to be a model for anyone. "If I asked people to live as I live, they would kill me," Mujica said during an interview in his small but cosy one-bedroom home set amid chrysanthemum fields outside Montevideo. The president is a former member of the Tupamaros guerrilla group, which was notorious in the early 1970s for bank robberies, kidnappings and distributing stolen food and money among the poor. He was shot by police six times and spent 14 years in a military prison, much of it in dungeon-like conditions. Since becoming leader of Uruguay in 2010, however, he has won plaudits worldwide for living within his means, decrying excessive consumption and pushing ahead with policies on same-sex marriage, abortion and cannabis legalisation that have reaffirmed Uruguay as the most socially liberal country in Latin America. But the man who is best known as Pepe says those who consider him poor fail to understand the meaning of wealth. "I'm not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live," he said. "My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I'm the son of my history."

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Unique traffic stops in Missouri bring drivers to tears
2013-12-12, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sheriffs-deputies-kindness-brings-drivers-to-tears/

Earlier this month, in Kansas City, Missouri, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department was out looking for people. What made this operation especially unusual was the man behind it: a fellow in a red hat -- known to these men only as "Secret Santa." Every year this anonymous, wealthy businessman gives out about a hundred thousand dollars worth of hundred dollar bills to random strangers. But this year, instead of doing it all himself, he deputized these deputies to give away much of it. And so, armed to the teeth with Benjamins, the officers went out to do Santa's bidding. They specifically went after people they thought would appreciate it most. "Merry Christmas," a deputy said while handing money to a driver. "You're kidding. Oh my God, no," answered the driver in disbelief. Most people weren't just blown away -- most people were moved to tears. Their reactions were a combination of really needing the money and being caught off guard. This year "Secret Santa" also had a secret agenda. "What do you want the officers to get out of this?" I asked him. "Joy," he answered. "You know, as tough as they are they have hearts that are bigger than the world." Let's face it, it hasn't been a good year for law enforcement -- but for the vast majority of decent officers who will never make headlines -- Secret Santa offered this gift.

Note: Don't miss the incredibly beautiful three-minute video on this.


Why is Sweden closing its prisons?
2013-12-01, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/01/why-sweden-closing-prisons

Swedish prisons have long had a reputation around the world as being liberal and progressive. The head of Sweden's prison and probation service, Nils Oberg, announced in November that four Swedish prisons are to be closed due to an "out of the ordinary" decline in prisoner numbers. Although there has been no fall in crime rates, between 2011 and 2012 there was a 6% drop in Sweden's prisoner population, now a little over 4,500. A similar decrease is expected this year and the next. The Swedes [have] managed to maintain a broadly humane approach to sentencing, even of the most serious offenders: jail terms rarely exceed 10 years; those who receive life imprisonment can still apply to the courts after a decade to have the sentence commuted to a fixed term, usually in the region of 18 to 25 years. Sweden was the first country in Europe to introduce the electronic tagging of convicted criminals and continues to strive to minimise short-term prison sentences wherever possible by using community-based measures – proven to be more effective at reducing reoffending. The overall reoffending rate in Sweden stands at between 30 and 40% over three years – around half that in the UK. One likely factor that has kept reoffending down and the rate of incarceration in Sweden below 70 per 100,000 head of population – less than half the figure for England and Wales – is that the age of criminal responsibility is set at 15. Unlike the UK, where a life sentence can be handed down to a 10-year-old, in Sweden no young person under the age of 21 can be sentenced to life and every effort is made to ensure that as few juvenile offenders as possible end up in prison.

Note: For a Time magazine article showing how Norway's prisons actually rehabilitate prisoners so that they can more easily fit back in society, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


US bishop dresses up as homeless man to expose congregation's lack of compassion
2013-11-29, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10483026/US-bishop...

An American bishop who disguised himself as a homeless man to give a sermon about compassion was asked to leave his church by unknowing congregants. David Musselman, a Mormon cleric near Salt Lake City, Utah, said he wanted to teach members of his church to be kind to all people. “To be Christ-like, just acknowledge them,” he said. Mr Musselman recruited a professional makeup artist to transform his face and wore a wooly hat, thick spectacles, a false beard and a fake scar. Even his own family did not recognise him. “The main thing I was trying to get across was we don't need to be so quick to judge,” Mr Musselman told his local television news station. “Many actually went out of their way to purposefully ignore me, and they wouldn't even make eye contact,” he said. “I'd approach them and say, 'Happy Thanksgiving'.” After being asked to leave by five people, Mr Musselman walked to the pulpit during a service and disclosed his true identity by taking off his wig, fake beard and glasses. “It had a shock value that I did not anticipate,” he said. “I really did not have any idea that the members of my ward would gasp as big as they did.” Mr Musselman said he was touched by the reaction of younger members of the church. “I was impressed by the children,” he said. “I could see in their eyes they wanted to do more”. Mr Musselman, whose stunt came just before the Thanksgiving holiday, said that he did not intend to embarrass the members of his church or make them feel ashamed. Instead, he said, he wanted them to remember to be kind all year long to people from all walks of life.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier
2013-10-30, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/578/the-neuroscience-of-why-gratitude-makes-us...

Gratitude ... makes you happier and healthier. If you can find any authentic reason to give thanks, anything that is going right with the world or your life, and put your attention there, then statistics say you're going to be better off. Does this mean to live in a state of constant denial and put your head in the sand? Of course not. Gratitude works when you're grateful for something real. What are you actually grateful for? It's a question that could change your life. Recent studies have concluded that the expression of gratitude can have profound and positive effects on our health, our moods and even the survival of our marriages. Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington has been researching marriages for two decades. The conclusion of all that research, he states, is that unless a couple is able to maintain a high ratio of positive to negative encounters (5:1 or greater), it is likely the marriage will end. With 90 percent accuracy, Gottman says he can predict, often after only three minutes of observation, which marriages are likely to flourish and which are likely to flounder. The formula is that for every negative expression (a complaint, frown, put-down, expression of anger) there needs to be about five positive ones (smiles, compliments, laughter, expressions of appreciation and gratitude). Keep a daily journal of three things you are thankful for. This works well first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed. Make it a practice to tell a spouse, partner or friend something you appreciate about them every day. To practice it further, join thousands of others in a transformative 21-Day Gratitude Challenge starting November 7th leading up to Thanksgiving.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


High Flyer
2013-10-28, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/543/high-flyer-david-leser

[ISIS Foundation’s Audette Exel] built a career on making millions for the rich, but her true achievement has been using her legal and financial [prowess] to make money for the world’s poorest. A monkey passes Exel’s [Katmandu, Nepal] hotel room as she works via email on a half-billion-dollar sale of a European banking group. The negotiations are crucial. If successful, they will represent one of the biggest European financial transactions of 2012. This is just before breakfast. After breakfast, Exel visits some of the children she and her organisation, the ISIS Foundation, have rescued from child traffickers in the remotest part of the country, children taken from their homes under false pretences and imprisoned in appalling conditions. The children are hugging her, squeezing her, holding her hand. An 11-year-old boy who almost died from a hole in the heart before being saved by Exel and her team won’t let her go. Later that afternoon, Exel works on forging ties between her Nepalese staff and her manager in Uganda, the other country where her organisation has saved the lives of thousands of mothers and their children. This is the woman who, ... leading international finance lawyer James Watkins says, gave up millions of her own income to help some of the most impoverished people in the world. The same woman again who high-flying lawyer John Atkinson believes puts him and other bankers and lawyers to shame. “When I examine my life and I compare it to Audette’s, you can quickly feel pretty humbled, even quite selfish. I guess in the scheme of things I look quite normal and Audette looks pretty extraordinary.”

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Georgia school employee hailed as 'real hero' for talking gunman into giving up
2013-08-21, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/21/us/georgia-school-gunshots/index.html

A man slips behind someone else into a packed elementary school with an AK-47-type weapon. He goes into the office and shoots at the ground, then darts between there and outside to fire at approaching police. So what do you do? If you're Antoinette Tuff, who works in the front office at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy just outside Atlanta, you don't run. You talk. You divulge your personal struggles to the gunman, you tell him you love him, you even proactively offer to walk outside with him to surrender so police won't shoot. And then the nightmare ends with the suspect, later identified as Michael Brandon Hill, taken into custody and no one inside or outside the Decatur school even hurt, despite the gunfire. By the end -- with police themselves having never directly talked to him -- Tuff and the gunman were talking about where he would put his weapon, how he'd empty his pockets and where he'd lie down before authorities could get him. "It's going to be all right, sweetie," she tells Hill at one point [audible in the 911 call]. "I just want you to know I love you, though, OK? And I'm proud of you. That's a good thing that you're just giving up and don't worry about it. We all go through something in life." Tuff then let the gunman know that she'd been down before herself, but she'd picked herself up. He could, too. "I thought the same thing, you know, I tried to commit suicide last year after my husband left me," she said. "But look at me now. I'm still working and everything is OK." That day, for everyone at that school, everything did turn out OK. Shots were fired, but no one got hurt. The gunman never made it to the classroom area, deciding instead to give up and lay down.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Kaiser study yields big progress for hypertension
2013-08-21, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Kaiser-study-yields-big-progress-for-hyp...

In just a decade, and using a deceptively simple approach, Kaiser Permanente doubled the percentage of Northern California patients whose blood pressures were brought down to healthy levels. The Kaiser program relied on close monitoring by a team of health care workers and the use of cheaper, more efficient drugs to treat high blood pressure. Over the course of an eight-year study, the percentage of patients with high blood pressure who had it under control increased from 44 percent in 2001 to 80 percent in 2009. The rate continued to climb after the study ended, and as of 2011, 87 percent of patients had lowered their high blood pressure to a healthy level. The results are intriguing because high blood pressure ... is treatable with medication and lifestyle changes, but has remained stubbornly difficult to control in most patients, Kaiser doctors said. During the years of the Kaiser study, the number of heart attacks and strokes fell substantially. Dr. Don Conkling, a 63-year-old Kaiser member who was part of the study, managed to get his blood pressure into a normal, healthy range for the first time since his early 40s. He lost about 60 pounds, cut out sugar and meat from his diet, and started walking several times a day, often for miles at a time, with his dog Sophie. Conkling, a veterinarian in San Bruno, also meditates every day for 45 minutes or longer to help reduce stress from his job. Not all patients have to make such drastic lifestyle changes to lower their blood pressure, Conkling said.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


A Universe Full of Planets
2013-07-26, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/opinion/global/a-universe-full-of-planets.h...

Using techniques of exquisite sensitivity and technological finesse, astronomers have spent the past two decades on an astonishing voyage of cosmic discovery. They have found that the universe is full of planets: cold, small, and dark next to their large and glaring suns, these worlds have previously been hidden from us. To spot them represents a challenge that has been compared to looking across thousands of miles to see a firefly buzzing around a brilliant searchlight. They exert a gravitational pull, tugging their parent stars into a gently wobbling motion that we can now detect. We now have firm evidence for thousands of planets, around thousands of stars. We also know something about these worlds, their sizes, their orbits, often their ages. In a handful of cases ... we have even measured the temperature of their upper atmospheres and [determined] their gaseous chemistry, finding substances like sodium, methane and water. No matter how conservative or optimistic we are, the statistics tell us that something like an astonishing one out of every seven stars must harbor a planet similar in size to the Earth, and at roughly the right orbital distance to allow for the possibility of a temperate surface environment. In other words, roughly 15 percent of all suns could, in principle, be hosting a place suitable for life as we know it. Since our galaxy contains at least 200 billion stars, this implies a vast arena for the universe’s ubiquitous carbon chemistry to play in — a process that, as here on Earth, might lead to the complex machinery of life. Indeed, there is a 95-percent confidence — give or take a few percent — that one of these worlds could be within a mere 16 light years of us.

Note: For fascinating testimony from top military and government officials revealing a major cover-up of the existence of UFOs and ETs, click here. For more on the nature of reality, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Delaware 'Public Benefit Corporation' Lets Directors Serve Three Masters Instead Of One
2013-07-16, Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2013/07/16/delaware-public-benefit-c...

[On July 17 Delaware] Gov. Jack Markell is scheduled to sign a law creating a new “public benefit corporation” where directors must balance the interests of the owners with those of employees, the general public and the environment. Delaware becomes the 19th state to pass such a law, but it may be the most important one since it is home to half of all publicly traded U.S. companies. Not that Ford Motor Co. or Intel are likely to avail themselves of this new corporate structure. Under the Delaware law, 90% of shareholders must approve a shift to benefit status. The law will likely be more popular with closely held firms like Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade products with more than $500 million a year in sales. It gives them a chance to declare a broader set of objectives than profit alone, and a legal structure to pursue them without risking lawsuits by disgruntled shareholders who might prefer a fatter dividend, say, than the comfort of knowing no endangered species were wiped out by their company’s logging operations. Under the new Delaware law, the purpose of a public benefit corporation is to operate in a “responsible and sustainable manner.” Directors can’t be sued for pursuing objectives that advance “artistic, charitable, cultural …scientific or technological” goals. The benefit corporation movement has even formed the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board to come up with the equivalent of GAAP for the Birkenstock-wearing set.

Note: For more on this exciting development, see the Huffington Post article written by Delaware's governor at this link.


Facebook rejects rape culture. Can you?
2013-05-31, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/30/opinion/chemaly-facebook/index.html

After I wrote an article about misogyny found on Facebook, people began to send me links to content that they had tried and failed to have removed by the site. Among these was a seven-minute video depicting a gang-rape of a girl by the side of the road. I began looking more deeply into the subject. I came across "humor" pages with names like "Raping Your Girlfriend." There were easily accessed pictures and videos of girls and women frightened, humiliated, bruised, beaten, raped, [and] bathed in blood. In one instance, Facebook declined to remove an image of a woman, mouth covered in tape, in which the caption read, "Don't tap her and rap her. Tape her and rape her." The photo went viral. Facebook's response ... "the photo ... did not violate our community standards." I joined [others] to launch a global campaign to confront institutionalized sexism in media. We wrote an open letter to Facebook, co-signed by more than 100 organizations, asking the company ... to train people to recognize violence against women as hateful. We encouraged users of Facebook to send messages to its advertisers encouraging them to boycott the social media network. Over seven days, men and women around the world sent more than 60,000 tweets ... and 5,000 e-mails to targeted advertisers, 16 of whom withdrew their advertising. Facebook responded, noting that its "systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively" as they would like. We are in the midst of a shifting cultural tide in which gender based violence -- historically kept private -- is better understood as a pandemic problem. Facebook's action represents an open acknowledgment that violence against women is a serious issue [that] deserves serious attention.

Note: How sad that it took facebook advertisers withdrawing their support to make this change. And how awesome that the writer of this article, Soraya Chemaly, had to the courage to stand up and do something about it by initiating this sexism campaign against facebook, and to inspire others to join her. Working together, we can make a difference.


Tesla’s Model S receives top rating from Consumer Reports
2013-05-09, Washington Post/Bloomberg
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/tesla-electric-model-s-sedan-grabs-con...

Tesla Motors Inc.’s electric Model S, Motor Trend’s 2013 “Car of the Year,” received the highest rating from Consumer Reports in an evaluation of the luxury sedan that led first-quarter North American plug-in car sales. The Model S from Palo Alto, California-based Tesla scored 99 out of 100 points, the non-profit magazine said in an e-mailed statement. The $89,650 car bought by Consumer Reports “performed better, or just as well overall” as any vehicle it’s ever tested, the ... magazine said. “It accelerates, handles and brakes like a sports car, it has the ride and quietness of a luxury car and is far more energy efficient than the best hybrid cars,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing. No rechargeable car has won a score as high as the Model S. The magazine last gave a vehicle 99 points in 2007, when Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus LS460L ranked that high. Model S shortcomings include limited range, long charge times and “coupe-like styling that impairs rear visibility and impedes access,” Consumer Reports said. Along with reliability that isn’t yet determined, Tesla still has a limited service network, the magazine said. The test vehicle had an 85-kilowatt/hour lithium-ion battery pack and averaged about 200 miles (322 kilometers) per charge in real-world driving, the magazine said. The Tesla “is easily the most practical electric car that has been tested to date,” Consumer Reports said.

Note: After undeniable suppression of the electric car by car manufacturers, independent upstart Tesla Motors has done it! Expect to see more breakthroughs from this great new company. For more on the company's amazing namesake and how his inventions were suppressed, click here.


Profile: Global campaign group Avaaz
2013-02-28, BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17199253

Avaaz - meaning "voice" in Farsi as well as several other European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages - describes itself as "a global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere". According to the group's website, it was launched in 2007 with a mission to "organise citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want". It campaigns in 15 languages and is served by a small core team of 52 full-time staff worldwide and thousands of volunteers in all 192 UN member states, including Iran and China, where its website is illegal. "Our model of internet organising allows thousands of individual efforts, however small, to be rapidly combined into a powerful collective force," it says. Avaaz's founder and executive director, Ricken Patel, told the Times newspaper earlier this month: "There are two types of fatalism. The belief the world can't change, and the belief you can't play a role in changing it." The group employs a wide variety of tactics in its campaigns, including collating petitions with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of signatures; organising demonstrations and phone-ins; fundraising, and paying for advertising. It says its successes range from helping to uphold the EU ban on GM crops to helping to circumventing the Burmese government's ban on international aid after Cyclone Nargis.

Note: The membership of this great organization has rapidly grown to over 20 million worldwide. Consider joining them and making your voice heard at avaaz.org. You can start a petition there which just might draw millions of supporters and make a real difference in building a better world. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?
2013-01-06, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/magazine/can-forgiveness-play-a-role-in-cri...

Most modern justice systems focus on a crime, a lawbreaker and a punishment. But a concept called “restorative justice” considers harm done and strives for agreement from all concerned — the victims, the offender and the community — on making amends. And it allows victims, who often feel shut out of the prosecutorial process, a way to be heard and participate. In this country, restorative justice takes a number of forms, but perhaps the most prominent is restorative-justice diversion. There are not many of these programs — a few exist on the margins of the justice system in communities like Baltimore, Minneapolis and Oakland, Calif. — but, according to a University of Pennsylvania study in 2007, they have been effective at reducing recidivism. Typically, a facilitator meets separately with the accused and the victim, and if both are willing to meet face to face without animosity and the offender is deemed willing and able to complete restitution, then the case shifts out of the adversarial legal system and into a parallel restorative-justice process. All parties — the offender, victim, facilitator and law enforcement — come together in a forum sometimes called a restorative-community conference. Each person speaks, one at a time and without interruption, about the crime and its effects, and the participants come to a consensus about how to repair the harm done. The methods are mostly applied in less serious crimes, like property offenses in which the wrong can be clearly righted. The processes are designed to be flexible enough to handle violent crime like assault, but they are rarely used in those situations.

Note: This deeply moving and highly educational piece from the New York Times Magazine about the power of restorative justice is well worth reading in its entirety at the link above.


Uruguay's President Mujica Shuns Wealth for Small Farm and VW Beetle
2012-11-15, Fox News
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/11/15/uruguay-president-mujica...

Uruguay’s [president] José Mujica ... has shunned the country’s Residencia de Suárez for the cozy but modest quarters of his small home on the outskirts of the capital, Montevideo. Dubbed by many media organizations as the world’s “poorest” president, Mujica and his wife keep house on a small farm surrounded by other tiny homes and guarded by only two police officers and his three-legged dog, Manuela. "I've lived like this most of my life," Mujica told the BBC. "I can live well with what I have." Unlike his forebears and counterparts around the world who live in comfort and are chauffeured around in limousines, Mujica donates 90 percent of his $12,000 monthly salary to charity organizations benefiting the poor and small businesses, and his means of transport is a beat-up 1987 Volkswagon Beetle worth about $1,800 – or the equivalent of his annual personal wealth declaration. This year he bumped his wealth declaration up to $215,000 – only after declaring his wife’s assets of land, tractors and a house – which still pales in comparison to Vice-President Danilo Astori's declared wealth and former President Tabare Vasquez’s bank account. “I'm called 'the poorest president,' but I don't feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle, and always want more and more," Mujica said. "This is a matter of freedom. If you don't have many possessions then you don't need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself."

Note: For more on this unusual and inspiring president, click here.


One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Reinventing Education
2012-11-02, Forbes Magazine
http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelnoer/2012/11/02/one-man-one-computer-10-mi...

The headquarters of what has rapidly become the largest school in the world, at 10 million students strong, is stuffed into a few large communal rooms in a decaying 1960s office building hard by the commuter rail tracks in Mountain View, Calif. The Khan Academy, which features 3,400 short instructional videos along with interactive quizzes and tools for teachers to chart student progress, is a nonprofit, boasting a mission of “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” There will be no IPO; funding comes from philanthropists, not venture capitalists. The next half-century of education innovation is being shaped right now. Global spending on education is $3.9 trillion, or 5.6% of planetary GDP. America spends the most–about $1.3 trillion a year–yet the U.S. ranks 25th out of the 34 OECD countries in mathematics, 17th in science and 14th in reading. It’s those latter statistics that motivate Khan. The site covers a staggering array of topics–from basic arithmetic and algebra to the electoral college and the French Revolution. The videos are quirky affairs where you never see the instructor (usually Salman Khan himself, who personally has created nearly 3,000 of them). Instead, students are confronted with a blank digital blackboard, which, over the course of a ten-minute lesson narrated in Khan’s soothing baritone, is gradually filled up with neon-colored scrawls illustrating key concepts. Over the past two years Khan Academy videos have been viewed more than 200 million times. The site is used by 6 million unique students each month.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


A Simple Fix for Farming
2012-10-19, New York Times blog
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/a-simple-fix-for-food

It's becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use - if it wants to. What may be the most important agricultural study this year ... was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer. The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn't reduce profits by a single cent. In short, there was only upside - and no downside at all - associated with the longer rotations. There was an increase in labor costs, but remember that profits were stable. So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons. And it's a high-stakes game; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, about five billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States.


Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife
2012-10-08, Daily Beast/Newsweek
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/10/07/proof-of-heaven-a-doctor-s-e...

As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. In the fall of 2008, however, after seven days in a coma during which the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was inactivated, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death. I had somehow contracted a very rare bacterial meningitis that mostly attacks newborns. E. coli bacteria had penetrated my cerebrospinal fluid and were eating my brain. For seven days I lay in a deep coma, my body unresponsive, my higher-order brain functions totally offline. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: the same one described by countless subjects of near-death experiences and other mystical states. What I saw and learned there has placed me quite literally in a new world: a world where we are much more than our brains and bodies, and where death is not the end of consciousness but rather a chapter in a vast, and incalculably positive, journey. For most of my journey, someone else was with me. A woman. Without using any words, she spoke to me. The message went through me like a wind, and I instantly understood that it was true. I knew so in the same way that I knew that the world around us was real—was not some fantasy, passing and insubstantial. “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.” “You have nothing to fear.” “There is nothing you can do wrong.”

Note: The author of this stirring account, Dr. Eben Alexander, was a neurosurgeon for 25 years. His engaging book on this life-changing experience is Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. For video interviews and other information on Dr. Alexander, click here. For other highly inspiring resources and stories related to near-death experiences, click here.


Are we wildly underestimating solar and wind power?
2012-06-19, Washington Post blog
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/06/19/are-we-wildly-un...

Right now, renewable energy sources like solar and wind still provide just a small fraction of the world’s electricity. But they’re growing fast. Solar is growing exponentially. Across the globe, 55 terawatt-hours of solar power had been installed by the end of 2011. That may not seem like much in itself — the United States by itself, after all, needed about one hundred times that much power in 2011. But solar has been growing at a stunning rate, as panels keep getting dramatically cheaper. If these exponential growth rates [continue] solar could provide nearly 10 percent of the world’s electricity by 2018. Official agencies keep underestimating the growth rate of renewables. The International Energy Agency is forecasting that solar will catch on much more slowly — providing a mere 4.5 percent of the world’s electricity by 2035. But [t]he IEA has almost always underestimated how quickly wind and solar can grow. Forecasters have consistently been too pessimistic. For instance, back in 2000, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook predicted that non-hydro sources of renewable energy would make up 3 percent of global energy by the year 2020. The world reached that point in 2008, well ahead of schedule. Using only current technology, renewables could technically provide the vast bulk of U.S. electricity by mid-century.

Note: The media has consistently underplayed the promising potential for alternative energy sources. The fact that the above is a blog and not a regular article in the Post is yet another example of this. For more on promising developments on energy technologies, click here.


Studying the art of gratitude
2012-06-18, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/06/18/DDSP1OUJST.DTL

Are we in the middle of a gratitude movement? Evidence suggests so. Publishers can't seem to print enough books with the words "gratitude" or "gratefulness" in the title. Scientists rake in millions of dollars in grants to study how feelings of gratitude might improve physical health and psychological well-being. And this weekend, hundreds are expected to attend a Pathways to Gratefulness conference [in San Francisco] to talk about cultivating gratefulness in their lives. Among the participants is Brother David Steindl-Rast, an 85-year-old Benedictine monk, considered the spiritual leader of the gratitude movement. The author of Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer ... and A Listening Heart ..., Steindl-Rast will be joined by an eclectic collection of writers, poets, spiritual teachers and scientists involved in the fast-growing field of gratitude research. One of those scientists, Emiliana Simon-Thomas, is director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, which controls a $5.9 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to fund a project called Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. Simon-Thomas ... said the Berkeley center is considering 60 research proposals, including many from the leading brain science laboratories in the United States. Some of the research would build on studies already conducted by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, who cites "scientific proof that when people regularly work on cultivating gratitude they experience a variety of measurable benefits - psychological, physical and social."

Note: For a profound, five-minute video on gratefulness that will brighten your day, click here. And for an excellent essay on gratitude, click here.


At 93, world's oldest yoga teacher still going strong
2012-05-10, NBC News
http://www.today.com/id/47378120#.UUzebzcTSSo

Tao Porchon-Lynch considers her hundreds of yoga students to be her own children. The 93-year-old has been practicing yoga since she was 8 years old, and was just named the world's oldest yoga teacher by Guinness World Records. Based in New York, Porchon-Lynch has taught hundreds of students around the globe for over 45 years, and has followers in India, France and the U.S. It wasn’t until the age of 73 that Porchon-Lynch decided to concentrate on teaching yoga, founding the Westchester Institute of Yoga in New York. Porchon-Lynch teaches yoga four days a week and also keeps busy ballroom dancing and guiding wine tours in New York State. And she certainly knows how to overcome a challenge. At 87, she had hip surgery but a month later she took to the dance floor, starting lessons. “I believe that we can always reach just a little bit further," said Porchon-Lynch. "I’m inspired to bring yoga into others’ lives along with helping people unearth new talents.”

Note: For an awesome, two-minute video showing this amazing woman's strength and flexibility, click here. For an inspiring article and video of an incredible 86-year-old gymnast performing unbelievable feats, click here. For an article and video of a 75-year-old grandmother who is a champion body builder and runs 10 miles a day, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


I believe in Tim Tebow
2012-01-13, ESPN
http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/7455943/believing-tim-tebow

I've come to believe in [NFL star] Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am. Who among us is this selfless? Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts. Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat. This whole thing makes no football sense, of course. Most NFL players hardly talk to teammates before a game, much less visit with the sick and dying. Isn't that a huge distraction? "Just the opposite," Tebow says. "It's by far the best thing I do to get myself ready. Here you are, about to play a game that the world says is the most important thing in the world. Win and they praise you. Lose and they crush you. And here I have a chance to talk to the coolest, most courageous people. It puts it all into perspective. The game doesn't really matter. I mean, I'll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it's to invest in people's lives, to make a difference."


Group of moms defies U.S. law in raw milk protest
2011-11-02, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/01/MNRG1LP5LU.DTL

A self-described "caravan of criminal mothers" defied federal law [on November 1] by transporting raw milk across state lines from a Pennsylvania farm and drinking it in front of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in Maryland. "It's totally natural for me as a parent to want to feed my children good food that makes them healthy," said Liz Reitzig, 31, a mother of five in Bowie, Md., who organized the protest. "In this case that is fresh, clean, raw milk from farmers we know and trust. The idea that we become criminals for engaging in that transaction is what is so appalling." The protesters, numbering about 100, ... drove in from as far away as Illinois and Kentucky to denounce government tyranny, corporate cabals and the "agricultural-industrial complex," promising more protests and civil disobedience. The FDA considers it "perfectly safe to feed your kids Mountain Dew, Twinkies and Cocoa Puffs, but it's unsafe to feed them raw milk, compost-grown tomatoes and Aunt Matilda's pickles," said Joel Salatin, the Virginia farmer made famous by the documentary "Food, Inc.," who joined the protesters. The protest sprang from an FDA sting operation on Amish farmer Dan Allgyer's tiny dairy of three dozen cows in Kinzer, Pa., that culminated in a predawn raid on the farm last year. Allgyer had been selling milk to consumers in Maryland who had formed a buying club. None of Allgyer's milk was contaminated. His alleged crime was selling it across state lines.

Note: For a great video of the raw milk freedom riders, click here. For key reports from reliable sources on government attacks on civil liberties, click here.


100-Year-Old Man Completes Marathon
2011-10-17, NBC New York (New York City NBC affiliate)
http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/weird/100-Year-Old-Man-Completes-Marathon-1319...

The most impressive performance at a Toronto marathon Sunday was turned in by the man who came in last place - and is 100 years old. Fauja Singh completed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in approximately eight hours, making him the oldest person ever to finish one of the 26.2-mile races. It was the eighth marathon for Singh, who was born India in 1911 and did not start running marathons until he was 89, after he moved to England following the death of his wife and son. He says not smoking or drinking alcohol throughout his life, combined with a vegetarian diet and up to 10 miles of walking or running per day are the secrets to his health. The Association of Road Racing Statistician already had Singh as the oldest person to complete a marathon, for one he ran seven years ago. But the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Dimitrion Yordanidis, 98, who ran in Athens in 1976. Singh recently set eight world records for his age group in one day at a special invitational meet in Toronto. He ran the 100 meters in 23.14, 200 meters in 52.23, the 400 meters in 2:13.48, the 800 meters in 5:32.18, the 1500 meters in 11:27.81, the mile in 11:53.45, the 3000 meters in 24:52.47 and the 5000 meters in 49:57.39. "I have said it before: that I will carry on running, as it is keeping me alive," Singh told the marathon website.

Note: Does anyone still believe vegetarianism can't be healthy?


Tenn. church, Islamic center embrace post 9/11
2011-09-08, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tenn-church-islamic-center-embrace-post-9-11/

Following 9/11, reports of hate crimes against Arab-Americans, or those perceived to be, went up 1,700 percent. While distrust and ignorance toward American Muslims remains a reality today, we found the opposite in one Tennessee community. On one recent Sunday morning in Cordova, Pastor Steve Stone was rocking along with his congregation, clapping and singing along with the choir. Heartsong Church, just outside Memphis, sits on a rural road - directly across the street from a Muslim worship center. When Dr. Bashar Shala, co-founder of the Memphis Islamic Center, or MIC, began construction two years ago, at best, he hoped to be ignored. Instead, Stone welcomed the Muslims with a surprise - a sign welcoming MIC to the neighborhood. When they saw the sign, Shala said, "We knew that we have good neighbors." Acting on the biblical phrase "love thy neighbor," the two sides forged a friendship that's now expanded to plans for building a park with land from both sides of the road, connected by a bridge or a tunnel, and to interfaith events, such as a joint Labor Day party. One church member, Lee Raines, looking at tables with Muslims and Christians together, called it "awesome." Stone and Shala say they hope others will practice being good neighbors as they do. Not only have they fed the homeless and organized food drives together, this Sunday, on the 9/11 anniversary, they're hosting a joint blood drive.

Note: Watch a wonderfully inspiring, three-minute video on this unusual friendship.


Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience?
2011-08-03, ABC News Nightline
http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/beyondbelief/experts-death-experience/story?i...

What does a NDE look and feel like? There are thousands upon thousands of descriptions, all of which show striking similarities between different people's experiences -- the white light, a tunnel, a life review and sense of peace -- so there does seem to exist a unifying thread throughout. Caroline Myss, a best-selling author and a speaker on spirituality and health, focuses on the first explanation. "A near-death experience is a phenomenon in which a person's physical body ceases to have any signs of life, and the soul detaches from the body and begins what could be called the journey into the afterlife. ... A long tunnel of light begins to appear. ... What's so phenomenal is that the descriptions [people] give, no matter what culture, no matter what background, match the ancient descriptions ... from various cultures. So if these experiences were in fact made up or hallucinatory, somebody did a very good job of getting that information out to multiple cultures at the same time." Dr. Jeffrey Long runs the Near Death Experience Research Foundation. He defines the physical conditions of someone having a NDE as "unconscious ... or actually clinically dead, with absent heartbeat and no spontaneous respiration. ... And yet when they shouldn't have any conscious remembering at this time, they do. ... While no two NDEs are the same, if you study large numbers of NDEs you see that very consistent pattern of elements."

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on NDE's, click here. And watch a profound BBC documentary on near-death experiences which raises many questions.


Seeking Proof in Near-Death Claims
2010-10-25, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304248704575574193494074922.html

At least 15 million American adults say they have had a near-death experience, according to a 1997 survey -— and the number is thought to be rising with increasingly sophisticated resuscitation techniques. In addition to floating above their bodies, people often describe moving down a dark tunnel toward a bright light, feeling intense peace and joy, reviewing life events and seeing long-deceased relatives—only to be told that it's not time yet and land abruptly back in an ailing body. "There are always skeptics, but there are millions of 'experiencers' who know what happened to them, and they don't care what anybody else says," says Diane Corcoran, president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, a nonprofit group in Durham, N.C. The organization publishes the Journal of Near-Death Studies and maintains support groups in 47 states. In his new book, Evidence of the Afterlife, Jeffrey Long, a radiation oncologist in Louisiana, analyzes 613 cases reported on the website of his Near Death Research Foundation and concludes there is only one plausible explanation: "that people have survived death and traveled to another [mode of existence]." "The self, the soul, the psyche—throughout history, we've never managed to figure out what it is and how it relates to the body," [said Sam Parnia, a critical-care physician]. "This is a very important for science and fascinating for humankind."

Note: For two of the most amazing near-death experiences ever told, click here and here.


When A Child Moves to Nepal
2010-10-22, New York Times
http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/22/when-a-child-moves-to-nepal

It was a gorgeous Himalayan village, with a river running through it. But it was also ravaged by the war. Temples had been burned down, and the girl’s home had been converted into a rebel camp. Most children couldn’t afford school. In the cities, [Maggie Doyne] had seen them working with hammers, breaking rocks into gravel to sell. “The first little girl I met was Hema,” Doyne remembers. Then 6 or 7 years old (few children know their precise age), Hema spent her time breaking rocks and scavenging garbage and had no chance to go to school. But she was radiant and adorable and always greeted Doyne in Nepali with a warm, “Good morning, Sister!” “Maybe I saw a piece of myself in her,” said Doyne, who decided to take Hema under her wing and pay for her education: “I knew I couldn’t do anything about a million orphans, but what if I started with this girl?” So she took Hema to school and paid $7 for the girl’s school fees and another $8 for a uniform so that she could enter kindergarten. “It became addictive,” Doyne said. “I said, if I can help one girl, why not 5? Why not 10?" Doyne found a ramshackle telephone “booth” — actually, a mud hut — where she could place an international call and telephoned her parents with a strange and urgent request: Can you wire me the money in my savings account? Her parents sent her the money. Doyne has since raised hundreds of thousands more. With it she has built the Kopila Valley Children’s Home.

Note: For a slide show of Maggie's great work on the New York Times website, click here. For Maggie's inspiring website, click here.


Fort Worth City Council member Joel Burns' message to gay teens is heartfelt, resonating
2010-10-15, Dallas Morning News (One of Dallas' leading newspapers)
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/columnists/jacquielynn-floyd/20101014-Fort-Wor...

If the now-viral video of Fort Worth City Council member Joel Burns' extraordinary address during an otherwise routine meeting ... does not move you to tears, you surely have a tough, leathery little peanut for a heart. Burns, who is gay, spoke directly to young victims of anti-gay bullying. He shared his own teenage experience of ugly, mindless victimization, and he made the promise to kids enduring similar torment: "It gets better." That's "It Gets Better" - with caps - since it's the name for an informal online video project of adults sharing their coming-out stories to teens who are struggling with their sexual orientation and especially vulnerable to harassment. Burns' statement ... could save somebody's life. It might already have [done so]. Burns first showed photos and told stories of a half-dozen teens whose recent suicides have been linked to ridicule they received for being - or being thought to be - gay. As cruel as these stories are, they are the most poignant evidence there is against the absurd notion that sexual orientation is a "lifestyle choice" instead of a biological reality. Burns deliberately sought the attention of scared, isolated kids who fear their misery is permanent. "I know that life can seem unbearable … but I want you to know that it gets better," he said. "You will get out of the household that doesn't accept you. You will get out of that high school, and you don't ever have to deal with those jerks again, if you don't want to."

Note: For the beautiful, touching 12-minute video where this courageous city council member talks about stopping school bullying which is killing innocent children, click here. And watch a touching seven-minute video about a very tough decision made by a caring couple about the gender of their child. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Impact investing seeks to make money, do good
2010-10-06, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/10/05/BU7M1FOIA6.DTL

Most investors, when sizing up a company, ask a simple question: "Will this company make me money?" But John Grafer, a principal with Satori Capital, likes to ask a question most traditional investors never think of: "Does your receptionist have an equity stake in your company?" Grafer is one of a growing breed of investors who look beyond the bottom line and ask what a company is doing to help society. It's called impact investing, and its supporters say it combines the shrewdness of the for-profit marketplace with an earnest desire to do good. "It's the opposite of a quick flip," Grafer said. "While there might not be a short-term return, you get a larger long-term return." The companies that make up Satori's $175 million fund all have to meet strict financial and social benchmarks. Grafer said he focuses on ownership, the environment, civic involvement and respectful relationships with customers. A report by Hope Consulting indicates that investors were willing to spend as much as $120 billion on companies that promise social and financial return, if the right product were available. Four social market funds are well on their way to reaching $100 million. And attendance at this year's conference was double what it was when the conference began just three years ago. Organizers say the trend toward socially conscious investing has been spurred by the downturn in the economy. "The traditional market failed," said Kevin Jones, of San Francisco's Good Capital and a conference organizer. "This kind of stuff works without creating a bubble."

Note: For an excellent example of investing for social good while still make a return on your investing, check out our excellent piece on microlending at this link.


Sentenced to Serving the Good Life in Norway
2010-07-12, Time Magazine
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2000920,00.html

On Bastoy, an island 46 miles south of Oslo, [125] residents live in brightly colored wooden chalets, spread over one square mile of forest and gently sloping hills. They go horseback riding and throw barbecues, and have access to a movie theater, tanning bed and, during winter, two ski jumps. Despite all its trappings, Bastoy island isn't an exclusive resort: it's a prison. Bastoy's governor ... describes it as the world's first human-ecological prison — a place where inmates learn to take responsibility for their actions by caring for the environment. Prisoners grow their own organic vegetables, turn their garbage into compost and tend to chickens, cows, horses and sheep. The prison generally emphasizes trust and self-regulation: Bastoy has no fences, the windows have no bars, and only five guards remain on the island after 3 p.m. In an age when countries from Britain to the U.S. cope with exploding prison populations by building ever larger — and, many would say, ever harsher — prisons, Bastoy seems like an unorthodox, even bizarre, departure. But Norwegians see the island as the embodiment of their country's long-standing penal philosophy: that traditional, repressive prisons do not work, and that treating prisoners humanely boosts their chances of reintegrating into society. Norway's system produces overwhelmingly positive results. Within two years of their release, 20% of Norway's prisoners end up back in jail. In the U.K. and the U.S., the figure hovers between 50% and 60%. Of course, Norway's ... prison roll lists a mere 3,300 inmates, a rate of 70 per 100,000 people, compared with 2.3 million in the U.S., or 753 per 100,000 — the highest rate in the world.

Note: Why aren't other countries taking heed of Norway's excellent example? Part of the reason is that some companies make massive profits from the prison system. For more on this, click here.


Man claims to have had no food or drink for 70 years
2010-04-28, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/7645857/Man-claims-to-ha...

Indian military scientists are studying an 82-year-old who claims he has not had any food or drink for 70 years. Prahlad Jani is being held in isolation in a hospital in Ahmedabad, Gurjarat, where he is being closely monitored by India's defence research organization, who believe he may have a genuine quality which could help save lives. He has now spent six days without food or water under strict observation and doctors say his body has not yet shown any adverse effects from hunger or dehydration. Mr Jani ... is regarded as a 'breatharian' who can live on a 'spiritual life-force' alone. He believes he is sustained by a goddess who pours an 'elixir' through a hole in his palate. His claims have been supported by an Indian doctor who specializes in studies of people who claim supernatural abilities. So far, Mr Prahlad appears to be standing up to scrutiny. He has not eaten or drunk any fluids in six days, and similarly has not passed urine or a stool in that time. He remains fit and healthy and shows no sign of lethargy. According to Dr Sudhir Shah, who examined him in 2003, he went without food or water for ten days in which urine appeared to be reabsorbed by his body after forming in his bladder. Doubts were expressed about his claim after his weight fell slightly at the end of the trial.

Note: To read an intriguing BBC News article about the 2003 study of this remarkable man, click here.


What Could You Live Without?
2010-01-24, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/opinion/24kristof.html

It all began with a stop at a red light. Kevin Salwen, a writer ... in Atlanta, was driving his 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, back from a sleepover in 2006. While waiting at a traffic light, they saw a black Mercedes coupe on one side and a homeless man begging for food on the other. “Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal,” Hannah protested. [Hannah] pestered her parents about inequity, insisting that she wanted to do something. “What do you want to do?” her mom responded. “Sell our house?” Warning! Never suggest a grand gesture to an idealistic teenager. Hannah seized upon the idea of selling the luxurious family home and donating half the proceeds to charity, while using the other half to buy a more modest replacement home. Eventually, that’s what the family did. The project — crazy, impetuous and utterly inspiring — is chronicled in a book by father and daughter: The Power of Half. Mr. Salwen and his wife, Joan, had always assumed that their kids would be better off in a bigger house. But after they downsized, there was much less space to retreat to, so the family members spent more time around each other. A smaller house unexpectedly turned out to be a more family-friendly house.“We essentially traded stuff for togetherness and connectedness,” Mr. Salwen [said], adding, “I can’t figure out why everybody wouldn’t want that deal.”

Note: For a treasure trove of other inspiring stories reported in the major media, click here.


Guantanamo guard reunited with ex-inmates
2010-01-12, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8452937.stm

Why would a former Guantanamo Bay prison guard track down two of his former captives - two British men - and agree to fly to London to meet them? The last time Ruhal Ahmed met Brandon Neely, he was "behind bars, behind a cage and [Brandon] was on the other side". The location had been Camp X-Ray - the high-security detention camp run by the US in Guantanamo Bay. Mr Ahmed, originally from Tipton in the West Midlands, was among several hundred foreign terror suspects held at the centre. Mr Neely was one of his guards. The scene of this current exchange of pleasantries couldn't be more different from where they last met - a television studio in London. Also here is Shafiq Rasul, a fellow ex-Guantanamo prisoner, without whose Facebook page the reunion would never have happened. Mr Neely, 29, ... left the US military in 2005 to become a police officer and was still struggling to come to terms with his time as a guard at Guantanamo. He felt anger at a number of incidents of abuse he says he witnessed, and guilt over one in particular. "The news would always try to make Guantanamo into this great place," he says, "like 'they [prisoners] were treated so great'. No it wasn't. You know here I was basically just putting innocent people in cages."

Note: The video of this reunion at the BBC link above is quite extraordinary for what it represents. How did these innocent men end up suffering so much? For a possible answer and wake-up call, click here.


Norway conquers infections by cutting use of antibiotics
2010-01-11, Miami Herald/Associated Press
http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/01/11/1420165/norway-conquers-infections-by.html

At a microscopic level [Aker University Hospital] is pristine. There is no sign of a dangerous and contagious staph infection that killed tens of thousands of patients in the most sophisticated hospitals of Europe, North America and Asia last year, soaring virtually unchecked. The reason: Norwegians stopped taking so many drugs. Twenty-five years ago, Norwegians were also losing their lives to this bacteria. But Norway's public health system fought back with an aggressive program that made it the most infection-free country in the world. A key part of that program was cutting back severely on the use of antibiotics. Now a spate of new studies from around the world prove that Norway's model can be replicated with extraordinary success, and public health experts are saying these deaths -- 19,000 in the U.S. each year alone, more than from AIDS -- are unnecessary. The World Health Organization says antibiotic resistance is one of the leading public health threats on the planet. A six-month investigation by The Associated Press found overuse and misuse of medicines has led to mutations in once curable diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, making them harder and in some cases impossible to treat. Now, in Norway's simple solution, there's a glimmer of hope.'

Note: For many key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.


Was a World War II pilot reincarnated in a body of a little boy?
2009-12-22, CNN Larry King Live
http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0912/22/lkl.01.html

[Guest Host Jeff Probst]: Was a World War II fighter pilot reincarnated in a little boy's body? Bruce [and Andrea] Leininger say yes. They are authors of Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot. Their book describes how their son James had memories of a WWII pilot who was killed in battle more than 60 years ago. James is now 11 years old. Andrea, when did you first realize that ... James was having ideas or stories that he wanted to share about this? Andrea Leininger: [It] started about two weeks after James' second birthday. He had a -- a night terror, which he had never had before. And this first nightmare began a series of nightmares that started occurring every other night, every night. And after several months of this, he was having a nightmare and ... I was able to finally determine what he was saying. And he was saying, "airplane crash on fire, little man can't get out." Probst: Bruce, even at three, he was -- James was drawing pictures of an airplane crashing. Bruce Leininger: By the time he started drawing those pictures, he'd been talking about this ... for several months. And he essentially gave us three items of information over about a three month period. One, he gave us the name of the ship, which I verified through research on the Internet. "Natoma Bay." He gave us a name Natoma. About a month later, he gave us [the] name of a guy he said he flew with. When we asked him if there was anyone else in his ... dream that he could remember. Jack -- Jack Larson.

Note: Jack Larson was confirmed to be a member of the crew of the Natoma Bay, who when contacted, remembered the incident of the crash described by this boy. For an excellent, intriguing four-minute Fox News clip on this fascinating case, click here.


Triumph of a Dreamer
2009-11-15, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/opinion/15kristof.html

Any time anyone tells you that a dream is impossible, any time you’re discouraged by impossible challenges, just mutter this mantra: Tererai Trent. Of all the people earning university degrees this year, perhaps the most remarkable story belongs to Tererai, a middle-aged woman. When you hear that foreign-aid groups just squander money or build dependency, remember [her story]. Tererai was born in a village in rural Zimbabwe, probably sometime in 1965, and attended elementary school for less than one year. Her father married her off when she was about 11 to a man who beat her regularly. A dozen years passed. Jo Luck, the head of an aid group called Heifer International, passed through the village and told the women there that they should stand up, nurture dreams, change their lives. Inspired, Tererai ... wrote that she wanted to study abroad, and to earn a B.A., a master’s and a doctorate. In 1998 she was accepted to Oklahoma State University. Heifer helped with the plane tickets, Tererai’s mother sold a cow, and neighbors sold goats to help raise money. With $4,000 in cash wrapped in a stocking and tied around her waist, Tererai set off for Oklahoma. At one point the university tried to expel Tererai for falling behind on tuition payments. A university official, Ron Beer, intervened on her behalf and rallied the faculty and community behind her with donations and support. “I saw that she had enormous talent,” Dr. Beer said. Tererai excelled at school, pursuing a Ph.D at Western Michigan University and writing a dissertation on AIDS prevention in Africa even as she began working for Heifer as a program evaluator.


FBI: Murder, Violent Crime Dropped in 2008
2009-09-14, New York Times/Associated Press
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/09/14/us/politics/AP-US-Crime.html

Murder and manslaughter dropped almost 4 percent last year, as reported crime overall fell around the country, according to new data released ... by the FBI. The 3.9 percent decline in killings reported to police was part of a nationwide drop in violent crime of 1.9 percent from 2007 to 2008. Rapes declined 1.6 percent, to the lowest national number in 20 years -- about 89,000. The statistics are based on crimes reported to police, who then forward the information to the FBI. There were 14,180 murder victims in the United States last year. ''What has been impressive has been how flat all the violent crime rates have been since 2000. To a large degree that's still the case, but the striking change this year has been murder,'' said Alfred Blumstein, a professor of criminal justice at Carnegie-Mellon University. The figures show that crime has come way down since its peak in the early 1990's. ''These are rates we haven't seen since the 1960's, even though the change from year to year has been rather small,'' said Blumstein. Property crimes declined overall, by 0.8 percent, but that was driven mostly by a 12.7 percent drop in car thefts. The other major categories of property crime -- burglaries and larceny-thefts -- both rose. Typically, crime is expected to rise during economic hard times, but Blumstein said last year's data was too early in the economic cycle to reflect that, because the most serious economic impacts came toward the end of 2008, and may not have affected teenagers -- the group most likely to turn to crime as their job prospects dwindle.

Note: What this report completely fails to report is that violent crime is down over 50% since 1994! Why does the major media consistently fail to report this awesome news? For verifiable information on this, click here.


The City that Ended Hunger
2009-03-20, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=3330

A city in Brazil recruited local farmers to help do something U.S. cities have yet to do: end hunger. More than 10 years ago, Brazil’s fourth-largest city, Belo Horizonte, declared that food was a right of citizenship and started working to make good food available to all. One of its programs puts local farm produce into school meals. This and other projects cost the city less than 2 percent of its budget. Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship. The new mayor, Patrus Ananias—now leader of the federal anti-hunger effort—began by creating a city agency, which included assembling a 20-member council of citizen, labor, business, and church representatives to advise in the design and implementation of a new food system. The city already involved regular citizens directly in allocating municipal resources—the “participatory budgeting” that started in the 1970s and has since spread across Brazil. During the first six years of Belo’s food-as-a-right policy, perhaps in response to the new emphasis on food security, the number of citizens engaging in the city’s participatory budgeting process doubled to more than 31,000. The city agency developed dozens of innovations to assure everyone the right to food, especially by weaving together the interests of farmers and consumers.

Note: Why not take this movement to each of our states and provinces? Are you willing to make a difference? To contact your local and national media and political representatives, click here.


Quantum weirdness: What we call 'reality' is just a state of mind
2009-03-17, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2009/mar/17/templeton-quantum-entangl...

What quantum mechanics tells us ... is surprising to say the least. It tells us that the basic components of objects – the particles, electrons, quarks etc. – cannot be thought of as "self-existent". The reality that they, and hence all objects, are components of is merely "empirical reality". This reality is something that, while not a purely mind-made construct as radical idealism would have it, can be but the picture our mind forces us to form of [a] mysterious, non-conceptualisable "ultimate reality", not embedded in space and (presumably) not in time either. The quantum mechanical formalism ... compels us to consider that two particles that have once interacted always remain bound in a very strange, hardly understandable way even when they are far apart, the connection being independent of distance. Even though this connection-at-a-distance does not permit us to transmit messages, clearly it is real. In other words space, so essential in classical physics, seems to play a considerably less basic role in quantum physics. [Erwin] Schrödinger had even given [this reality] a name: entanglement, and had claimed entanglement is essential. A real breakthrough took place [when John Bell] published his famous inequalities, which - for the first time - opened a possibility of testing whether or not entanglement-at-a-distance had experimentally testable consequences. Entanglement-at-a-distance does physically exist, in the sense that it has physically verifiable (and verified) consequences. Which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that some of our most engrained notions about space and causality should be reconsidered.

Note: For lots more intriguing scientific information suggesting reality is much more fluid and miraculous than most might suspect, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Heroes of the Environment - Annie Leonard
2008-09-24, Time Magazine
http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1841778_184178...

Annie Leonard [has] been relentlessly explaining the absurdity of our throwaway culture [for] decades. While her mastery of detail is impressive, it's her passionate style that transforms bleak facts into emotive stories that compel you to take action. Leonard knew her story needed to reach as many people as possible to make a real difference. So, in 2007, she made it viral through an infectious online film called "The Story of Stuff". Within six months, more than 3 million viewers from around the world watched the film. "The Story of Stuff" effectively and often humorously explains where all our stuff comes from, what resources are used to create it, whose lives are affected during its production, and where it goes when we discard it. While this all sounds familiar enough, it's Leonard's poignant questions and provocative truth-telling that help us see the profound stupidity of this system. Leonard has spent the last 20 years raising awareness of environmental health and justice issues, working with organizations such as the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance, Health Care Without Harm, Greenpeace International and the Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption, which brings together grant makers committed to building a more sustainable future. She has spent nearly half of her life traveling to more than 30 countries to witness the environmental impact of casual consumerism and the travails of those who make what we consume; and she has spent countless hours working to right these injustices. Which is why when Leonard talks trash, people cannot help but listen.

Note: For Annie's excellent website filled with inspiring ideas on how you can make a difference, click here. For a longer article in Yes! Magazine written by Annie, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Video star can't stop dancing
2008-06-29, Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/chi-dancing-matt-0629jun29,...

The new Web video from Matt Harding, accidental professional dancer, is up, and it is spectacular, a cry of life and brotherhood and joy. As Harding toured the world ... filming the third installment in his "Where the Hell Is Matt?" video series, you might have thought that the trick would have played itself out. An ordinary guy doing a kind of running-in-place dance at 69 earthly locales with an ethereal song as soundtrack shouldn't be endlessly endearing and deeply inspiring. But this music-video-length wonder works in surprising ways, especially amid the predominantly crass environment of YouTube. Part of the charm of the video (also at Harding's own wherethehellismatt.com) is his new twist for it. At each stop on his latest set of travels, Harding invited locals to come dance with him. In Chicago, that meant more than 100 people bobbed up and down in front of The Bean sculpture. In Poria, Papua New Guinea, it was a handful of people in full tribal garb accompanying Harding. The collection of disparate peoples doing essentially the same pointless yet joyful thing is a reminder of what's universal in humankind. The teasing glimpse of so many gorgeous spots is a goad to renew your own passport and get moving. Part of the charm comes from the unadorned simplicity of Harding himself—he just looks damned happy to be wherever he is—and the delight that is his story. A video game designer disaffected by the industry's trend toward violence, he quit his job in early 2003 and began traveling. At the suggestion of a friend, he used the video function of a point-and-shoot digital camera and taped himself dancing at all his stops.

Note: Don't miss Matt's inspiring five-minute video available here. For a New York Times article on this fun piece, click here.


Superfast internet may replace world wide web
2008-04-09, The Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/06/ninternet106.xml

The internet could soon be made obsolete by a new "grid" system which is 10,000 times faster than broadband connections. Scientists in Switzerland have developed a lightning-fast replacement to the internet that would allow feature films and music catalogues to be downloaded within seconds. The latest spin-off from CERN, the particle physics centre that created the internet, the grid could also provide the power needed to send sophisticated images; allow instant online gaming with hundreds of thousands of players; and offer high-definition video telephony for the price of a local call. David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University and a leading figure in the grid project, believes grid technology could change society. He said: "With this kind of computing power, future generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine." The power of the grid will be unlocked this summer with the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a new particle accelerator designed to investigate how the universe began. The grid will be turned on at the same time to store the information it generates, after scientists at CERN, based near Geneva, realised the internet would not have the capacity to capture such huge volumes of data. The grid has been built with fibre optic cables and modern routing centres, meaning there are no outdated components to slow the deluge of data, unlike the internet. There are 55,000 grid servers already installed, a figure which is expected to rise to 200,000 within the next two years. Britain has 8,000 servers on the grid system, meaning access could be available to universities as early as this autumn.


The Language of Autism
2008-02-28, New York Times
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/the-language-of-autism

Are people with autism trapped in their own world? Or are the rest of us just trapped in ours? After seeing 27-year-old Amanda Baggs ... you may rethink your views of the so-called "normal" world. Ms. Baggs, who lives in Burlington, Vt., is autistic and doesn’t speak. But she has become an Internet sensation as a result of an unusual video she created called "In My Language." For the first three minutes of the video, she rocks, flaps her hands, waves a piece of paper, buries her face in a book and runs her fingers repeatedly across a computer keyboard, all while humming a haunting two-note tune. Then, the words "A Translation" appear on the screen. Although Ms. Baggs doesn’t speak, she types 120 words a minute. Using a synthesized voice generated by a software application, Ms. Baggs types out what is going on inside her head. The movement, the noise, the repetitive behaviors are all part of Ms. Baggs’ own "native" language, she says via her computerized voice. It’s a language that allows her to have a "constant conversation" with her surroundings. "My language is not about designing words or even visual symbols for people to interpret. It is about being in a constant conversation with every aspect of my environment, reacting physically to all parts of my surroundings. Far from being purposeless, the way that I move is an ongoing response to what is around me. The way I naturally think and respond to things looks and feels so different from standard concepts or even visualization that some people do not consider it thought at all. But it is a way of thinking in its own right." [Ms. Baggs'] video is a clarion call on behalf of people with cognitive disabilities whose way of communicating isn’t understood by the rest of the world.

Note: If you want to expand your understanding of people and our world, don't miss the most amazing eight-minute video clip at the link above, or click here to view it now.


Eighth wonder of the world?
2007-11-22, Daily Mail (Britain's second largest circulationdaily newspaper)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article...

Nestling in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy ... lies the valley of Valchiusella. Weaving their way underneath the hillside are nine ornate temples, on five levels, whose scale and opulence take the breath away. They are linked by hundreds of metres of richly decorated tunnels. The 'Temples of Damanhur' are ... the work of ... 57-year-old [Oberto Airaudi] who, inspired by a childhood vision, began digging into the rock. From an early age, he claims to have experienced visions of what he believed to be a past life, in which there were amazing temples. Around these he [saw] there lived a highly evolved community who enjoyed an idyllic existence in which all the people worked for the common good. Oberto appeared to have ... the gift of "remote viewing" - the ability to travel in his mind's eye. Oberto - who prefers to use the name 'Falco' ... selected a remote hillside where he felt the hard rock would sustain the structures he had in mind. A house was built on the hillside and Falco moved in with several friends who shared his vision. Using hammers and picks, they began their dig to create the temples of Damanhur ... in August 1978. Volunteers, who flocked from around the world, worked ... for the next 16 years with no formal plans other than Falco's sketches and visions. By 1991, several of the nine chambers were almost complete with stunning murals, mosaics, statues, secret doors and stained glass windows. Esperide Ananas ... has written a new book called Damanhur, Temples Of Humankind. Today the 'Damanhurians' even have their own university, schools, organic supermarkets, vineyards, farms, bakeries and award-winning eco homes. They do not worship a spiritual leader, though their temples have become the focus for group meditation. 'They are to remind people that we are all capable of much more than we realise and that hidden treasures can be found within every one of us once you know how to access them,' says Falco.

Note: Click on the article link above to see many exquisite color photos of the amazing interiors of the Damanhur temples.


Cheap solar power poised to undercut oil and gas by half
2007-02-18, The Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2007/02/19/ccview19.xml

Within five years, solar power will be cheap enough to compete with carbon-generated electricity. In a decade, the cost may have fallen so dramatically that solar cells could undercut oil, gas, coal and nuclear power by up to half. Anil Sethi, the chief executive of the Swiss start-up company Flisom, says he looks forward to the day - not so far off - when entire cities in America and Europe generate their heating, lighting and air-conditioning needs from solar films on buildings with enough left over to feed a surplus back into the grid. The secret? A piece of dark polymer foil, as thin a sheet of paper. It is so light it can be stuck to the sides of buildings. It can be mass-produced in cheap rolls like packaging - in any colour. The "tipping point" will arrive when the capital cost of solar power falls below $1 (51p) per watt, roughly the cost of carbon power. The best options today vary from $3 to $4 per watt - down from $100 in the late 1970s. Mr Sethi believes his product will cut the cost to 80 cents per watt within five years, and 50 cents in a decade. "We don't need subsidies, we just need governments to get out of the way and do no harm," he said. Solar use [has] increased dramatically in Japan and above all Germany, where Berlin's green energy law passed in 2004 forces the grid to buy surplus electricity from households at a fat premium. The tipping point in Germany and Japan came once households [understood] that they could undercut their unloved utilities. Credit Lyonnais believes the rest of the world will soon join the stampede. Needless to say, electricity utilities are watching the solar revolution with horror.

Note: Why is this inspiring, important news getting so little press coverage? And why not more solar subsidies? For a possible answer, click here. And for an amazing new energy source not yet reported in the major media which could make even solar energy obsolete, click here.


Nobel Winner Urges Defeat Of Poverty
2006-12-10, CBS News/Associated Press
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/12/10/world/main2244007.shtml

Economist Muhammad Yunus ... received the Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday for his efforts to relieve poverty as a cornerstone for building peace. Yunus, 66, often called the banker to the poor, shared the coveted award with his creation, Grameen Bank, for helping people, even beggars, rise above poverty by giving them microcredit — small, usually unsecured loans. The Bangladeshi economist is the developer and founder of the concept of microcredit. In his Nobel lecture Yunus said the world must overcome poverty if it ever wants to achieve peace. "We must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time to come. I believe that putting resources into improving the lives of the poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns," he said. Grameen Bank, set up in 1983, was the first lender to provide microcredit, giving very small loans to poor Bangladeshis who did not qualify for loans from conventional banks. No collateral is needed, and repayment is based on an honour system, with nearly a 100 percent repayment rate. Yunus said the idea has spread around the world, with similar programmes in almost every country. "Grameen Bank gives loans to nearly seven million poor people, 97 per cent of them are women, in 73,000 villages in Bangladesh," said Yunus. Villagers, many of whom have benefited from Grameen Bank's small-loan programs [watched the Nobel ceremony] in groups at local shops. "We are so happy, wish we could all have gone there," said Samida Begum, talking by telephone from Kelia village. Begum runs a phone call shop started with a Grameen Bank loan almost 18 years ago. Her family also owns a poultry shop started with a loan from Grameen.

Note: If you are interested in a wonderful, empowering, secure vehicle in which to place your investments that helps to directly pull families out of poverty in a big way through microcredit and microloans, click here.


The Power of Positive Thinking
2006-11-16, CNN Larry King Live
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0611/16/lkl.01.html

Want to find true love, make more money, have the life of your dreams? Then think about it. The power of your thoughts can improve your life. [JAMES] RAY: Science tells us that every single thing that appears to be solid is actually energy. You put it under a high-powered microscope [and] it's nothing more than a field of energy and a rate of vibration. Like vibrations are attracted to each other and dissimilar vibrations repel. JOE VITALE: Whatever you focus on you get more of. If you're focusing on lack, you're going to get more lack. If you focus on abundance, you ... get more abundance. RAY: If you want to create [something], your thoughts, your feelings, and your actions all need to be firing simultaneously. VITALE: You see yourself experiencing it as if it's right now. You feel it. You live it. When you do that you accelerate the manifestation process. RAY: The whole concept of soul mate is often inherently flawed because it says that your completion or your better half resides outside yourself. Intellectually we know better than that. Your completion resides inside yourself. KING: Why ... is maintaining a happy relationship [so hard]? [JACK] CANFIELD: Because we tend to project ... the unaccepted parts of ourself out onto the other person. We keep trying to get them to change so that we'll be happy. RAY: How can you ever expect anyone else to enjoy your company if you don't enjoy your own? Most people are in love with their misery. They're attending to it all the time. It's like a roaring bonfire and they're throwing another log on it every day. VITALE: Find things to be grateful for right now. Out of that gratitude you will find more things to be grateful for. And out of that gratitude you will find happiness right now.

Note: To watch this highly inspiring, 45-minute program online, click here and scroll down to "Beyond the Power of Positive Thinking 2" on the right side. Read the entire transcript at the link above and you may very well find tools to make your life richer and fuller all the time. For empowering ideas and suggestions on how to find and develop your life purpose, click here.


Vitamin C: Cancer cure?
2006-06-18, Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia's leading newspaper)
http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/health/14842932.htm

Government nutrition researcher [Dr. Mark Levine] has published new evidence that suggests vitamin C can work like chemotherapy - only better. But so far, he hasn't been able to interest cancer experts in conducting the kind of conclusive studies that, one way or the other, would advance treatment. "If vitamin C is useful in cancer treatment, that's wonderful. If it's not, or if it's harmful, that's fine, too," said Levine, a Harvard-educated physician at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The distinction between oral and intravenous is crucial. The body automatically gets rid of extra C through urine. Levine's lab has shown that, at high concentrations, the vitamin is toxic to many types of cancer cells in lab dishes. But to get that much C into the body before it's eliminated, it must be put directly into the blood. Five out of nine types of cancer cells that were put in simulated body-cavity fluid died when concentrated ascorbate or peroxide was added to the dish. And the best part: This same lethal marinade had no effect on healthy cells. "Interest is definitely growing," said Kenneth Bock, physician and president of the American College for Advancement in Medicine, an alternative-medicine society that teaches ascorbate infusion protocols. The American Cancer Society and the American Association of Clinical Oncologists warn patients against high-dose C, as do leading cancer centers such as the University of Pennsylvania's and Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

Note: If the above link does not work, the article is also available on the website of the San Diego Union-Tribune. For why this is not making major headlines in the news, click here and here.


Are They Here to Save the World?
2005-01-12, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/12/fashion/thursdaystyles/12INDIGO.html?ex=129...

If you have not been in an alternative bookstore lately, it is possible that you have missed the news about indigo children. They represent "perhaps the most exciting, albeit odd, change in basic human nature that has ever been observed and documented," Lee Carroll and Jan Tober write in "The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived." The book has sold 250,000 copies since 1999 and has spawned a cottage industry of books about indigo children. In "The Indigo Children," Mr. Carroll and Ms. Tober define the phenomenon. Indigos, they write, share traits like high I.Q., acute intuition, self-confidence, resistance to authority and disruptive tendencies, which are often diagnosed as attention-deficit disorder, known as A.D.D., or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D. "These children are the answers to the prayers we all have for peace," said Doreen Virtue, a former psychotherapist for adolescents who now writes books and lectures on indigo children. She calls the indigos a leap in human evolution. "They're vigilant about cleaning the earth of social ills and corruption, and increasing integrity." Marjorie Jackson, a tai chi and yoga teacher....said that schools should treat children more like adults, rather than placing them in "fear-based, constrictive, no-choice environments, where they explode."

Note: ABC has a six-minute news clip on these special children available here. For another amazingly inspiring video clip of one of these unusual children, click here. For a website dedicated to indigo children, click here


Blind To Failure
2001-06-18, Time Magazine (Cover story)
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1000120.html

Scaling Everest requires the enthusiasm and boosterism of a physical-education teacher combined with the survival instinct of a Green Beret. You have to want that summit. Erik Weihenmayer, 33, wasn't just another yuppie trekker. Blind since he was 13 ... he began attacking mountains in his early 20s. For Erik ... excelling as an athlete was the result of accepting his disability rather than denying it." Climbing with Erik isn't that different from climbing with a sighted mountaineer. You wear a bell on your pack, and he follows the sound ... using his custom-made climbing poles to feel his way along the trail. His climbing partners shout out helpful descriptions: "Death fall 2 ft. to your right!" Almost 90% of Everest climbers fail to reach the summit. Many--at least 165 since 1953--never come home at all. When Erik and the team began the final ascent from Camp 4 ... they had been on the mountain for two months ... getting used to the altitude and socking away enough equipment [before they made the final, successful] summit push. "He was the heart and soul of our team," says Eric Alexander. "The guy's spirit won't let you quit." It could be called the most successful Everest expedition ever, and not just because of Erik's participation. A record 19 climbers from the N.F.B. team summited, including the oldest man ever to climb Everest--64-year-old Sherman Bull. Perhaps the point is really that there is no way to put what Erik has done in perspective because no one has ever done anything like it. It is a unique achievement, one that in the truest sense pushes the limits of what man is capable of.

Note: Don't miss the entire inspiring blind to failure story at the link above. For an inspiring video of Erik in Peru, click here.


'Psychic' parrot expected to ruffle scientific feathers
2001-02-12, USA Today
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/2001-02-12-parrot.htm

N'Kisi may look like an ordinary Congo African gray parrot, but she's the subject of a series of telepathy experiments by a former Cambridge University researcher who says the results are "astounding." "The parrot seems to be able to pick up her owner's thoughts with an amazing degree of accuracy," says Rupert Sheldrake, a former Royal Society researcher at Cambridge and author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals. N'Kisi's owner, Aimee Morgana of Manhattan, ... says she first noticed N'Kisi's psychic abilities when she saw an explicit picture in the Village Voice personals. "I was thinking, 'Wow, that's a pretty naturalistic work.' " Then, she says, N'Kisi spoke from the parrot's cage across the room: "Oh, look at the pretty naked body." Sheldrake was interested. He explored N'Kisi's psychic abilities using a double-blind test. He asked Morgana to look at photographs in one room while the parrot was in a cage in another. One camera videotaped Morgana looking at photographs, another camera about 55 feet away videotaped the parrot, who made comments that seemed to correspond to many of the photos Morgana was looking at. N'Kisi made 123 comments during the test sessions, and 32 of those were "direct hits" corresponding to the images Morgana was looking at. The chances of that occurring, Sheldrake says, are less than 1 in a billion. Telepathy is made possible, he says, by the emotional bonds between people and animals. "In the case of N'Kisi, there's a very strong connection between her and Aimee."

Note: For a nine-minute video of this fascinating experiment, click here. For a sample of N'Kisi talking, click here. For a brilliant lecture by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, the above-mentioned researcher, questioning the rigid dogmas of the current scientific paradigm, click here.


Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History
2018-01-06, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/06/opinion/sunday/2017-progress-illiteracy-po...

2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity. A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before. The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell. We journalists focus on bad news - we cover planes that crash, not those that take off - but the backdrop of global progress may be the most important development in our lifetime. Every day, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by 217,000, according to ... Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs a website called Our World in Data. Every day, 325,000 more people gain access to electricity. And 300,000 more gain access to clean drinking water. As recently as the 1960s, a majority of humans had always been illiterate and lived in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 15 percent are illiterate, and fewer than 10 percent live in extreme poverty. In another 15 years, illiteracy and extreme poverty will be mostly gone. After thousands of generations, they are pretty much disappearing on our watch. Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychology professor, explores the gains in a terrific book due out next month, “Enlightenment Now,” in which he recounts the progress across a broad array of metrics, from health to wars, the environment to happiness, equal rights to quality of life.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


It's Now Illegal to Pay Men More Than Women in Iceland
2018-01-02, Fortune
http://fortune.com/2018/01/02/illegal-to-pay-men-more-than-women-iceland/

Iceland is the first country to make it illegal to pay men more than women. Equal pay policies is now mandatory for companies with 25 or more employees. Those that cannot show that they provide equal pay will be subject to fines. The law, which was passed last year, went into effect on Jan. 1. Iceland is already a leader in gender parity. The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Iceland as the top country for gender quality for the last nine years based on criteria involving economics, education, health, and politics. For example, Icelandic women make up 48% of the country’s parliament - without a quota system. Despite this, wage inequality has persisted. In 2016, thousands of women in Iceland left work at 2:38 p.m., to protest pay disparity. The time was symbolic of when woman stop receiving pay during their 9 to 5 work day compared to men. The wage gap in Iceland was 72 cents to every man’s dollar. On International Women’s Day in 2017, the country moved to change that. The tiny country, pop. 323,000, aims to completely eliminate the wage gap by 2020.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Power Prices Go Negative in Germany, a Positive for Energy Users
2017-12-25, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/25/business/energy-environment/germany-electr...

Germany has spent $200 billion over the past two decades to promote cleaner sources of electricity. That enormous investment is now having an unexpected impact - consumers are now actually paid to use power on occasion, as was the case over the weekend. Power prices plunged below zero for much of Sunday and the early hours of Christmas Day on ... a large European power trading exchange, the result of low demand, unseasonably warm weather and strong breezes that provided an abundance of wind power on the grid. Such “negative prices” are not the norm in Germany, but they are far from rare, thanks to the country’s effort to encourage investment in greener forms of power generation. Prices for electricity in Germany have dipped below zero ... more than 100 times this year alone. Several countries in Europe have experienced negative power prices, including Belgium, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. But Germany’s forays into negative pricing are the most frequent. At times, Germany is able to export its surplus electricity to its neighbors, helping to balance the market. Still, its experiences of negative prices are often longer, and deeper, than they are in other countries. In one recent example, power prices spent 31 hours below zero during the last weekend of October. At one point, they dipped as low as minus €83, or minus $98, per megawatt-hour, a wholesale measure. Anyone who was able to hook up for a large blast of electricity at that time was paid €83 per unit for the trouble.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Tesco: No edible food will go to waste by February 2018
2017-12-23, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42464912

No food fit for human consumption will be wasted by Tesco's UK stores by the end of February, the retail giant says. Chief executive Dave Lewis told the Daily Telegraph food waste had been "talked about for years" as he unveiled the plans for all 2,654 stores. Urging other chains to follow suit, he said edible food should be used for people, not go to waste. Tesco, with all major UK supermarkets, has signed a commitment to cut food waste by one-fifth within a decade. The voluntary agreement is known as the Courtauld Commitment 2025. Mr Lewis ... said the contrast between the amount of wasted food in the UK and the situation in countries suffering food shortages was "really stark". He said: "Last year we sold 10 million tons [10.2 million tonnes] of food to the British public. But even if our waste is just 0.7% of the food, that's still 70,000 tons [71,100 tonnes] of food. Tesco says it cuts waste by selling surplus groceries with "reduced to clear" stickers and [by using] an app, FoodCloud, to scan and upload surplus food that stores have at the end of the day, which is shared with registered charities that collect the food. "That goes a long way in reducing charities' bill burdens, so they can spend the money on ... providing much more needed services," Mr Lewis said. "Food waste has been talked about for years but if Tesco can make this work, with all of our different stores across the country, then why can't everybody," he added.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Once US murder capital, NYC close to record low in homicides
2017-12-21, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/killings-hit-record-low-york-terror-attack...

Even after two terror attacks and a driver's deadly rampage through Times Square, New York City is on track to smash its modern-era low for homicides in a year. Through Dec. 17, the city of 8.5 million people, once America's murder capital, had recorded 278 killings. That puts it on pace to end this year with killings down 14 percent from last year, and well below the 333 in 2014, which was the year with the fewest homicides since the city began keeping accurate crime statistics. Those numbers mean a person's odds of getting killed by homicide in tightly packed, diverse New York City this year were about the same as they were last year in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. Crime has been dropping for many years in New York, but 2017 saw substantial drops even in places like Brooklyn's 75th Police Precinct, once among the nation's most violent places. There were 126 killings in the precinct in 1993. This year ... there have been 11. A move away from heavy-handed policing may have helped drive crime lower. Arrests are down about 7 percent this year. Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan said there were other tactical changes. The department ditched specialized units within precincts and made most officers general assignment. "We're not going to arrest our way out of the problems here," said Sgt. Timothy Cecchini on a recent patrol through the 75th Precinct. "But now, we are getting the space to think about how to do our jobs and really address issues for people and talk to them."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Companies that do good things have higher returns
2017-12-13, CNBC
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/13/dan-hesse-good-deeds-give-companies-roughly-3...

Companies that enforce employee-centric and customer-centric cultures are likely to see better financial gains than their competitors, Just Capital's Dan Hesse told CNBC on Wednesday. "What we've seen from a financial performance point of view is that you have [a] higher return on equity of these companies that do good things," Hesse, the former CEO of Sprint, told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer. Just Capital, a private, non-profit research firm, recently conducted a survey of 72,000 individuals across the United States. On Tuesday, Just Capital and Forbes released a ranking of the top 100 most "just" U.S. companies based on the results. Many leading technology companies landed high in the ranks, with Intel, Texas Instruments and Nvidia taking the top three spots. But one of the most sweeping commonalities was how consumers felt about tax reform, Hesse said. While investors might get excited about the potential for share buybacks and dividend increases if corporate tax reform is passed, consumers couldn't be less thrilled about it, Hesse said. "If there's one overall theme in the data, it's that they believe companies are focused too much on just shareholders versus all the other stakeholders," he told Cramer. "They'll say shareholders, yes, important, but your employees are No. 1 and your customers are No. 2," Hesse continued. "So are the communities, the environment, a lot of other stakeholders. So they will want to see companies take this money and invest in their employees and in some of these other areas."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


High schooler spreads the message that nobody should have to dine alone
2017-11-24, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/spreading-the-message-that-nobody-should-have-to...

When the lunch bell rings at Boca Raton High School in Florida, 3,400 kids spill into the courtyard and split into their social groups. But not everyone gets included. Someone always sits alone. "It's not a good feeling, like you're by yourself. And that's something that I don't want anybody to go through," said Denis Estimon. Denis is a Haitian immigrant. When he came here in first grade, he says he felt isolated - especially at lunch. So with some friends, Denis started a club called "We Dine Together." Their mission is to go into the courtyard at lunchtime to make sure no one is starving for company. For new kids especially, the club is a godsend. Since it started last year, hundreds of friendships have formed - some very unlikely. Jean Max Meradieu said he met kids he would never "ever" meet on the football team. Jean actually quit the football team - gave up all perks that come with it - just so he could spend more time with this club. "I don't mind not getting a football scholarship," Jean said. "This is what I really want to do." Just imagine how different your teenage years would have been, if the coolest kids in school all of a sudden decided you mattered. Since we first told this story, Denis has graduated from high school - but not from this mission. He's now travelling the country, opening "We Dine Together" chapters at other schools - 15 so far, with more than 100 slated for the new year. And if we're lucky, when he's done showing kids how to make outsiders feel accepted, he can teach the rest of us.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Incredible Power Plant Produces Nothing But Electricity And Stone
2017-10-16, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/hellisheidi-power-plant-produces-nothin...

The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant situated on the mid-Atlantic ridge, is the newest and largest geothermal plant in Iceland - a country that heats 90% of its homes using geothermal water. The plant has now become the first in history to capture carbon dioxide from ambient air, using a system of fans and filters, and then store it in bedrock 700 metres down. There the gas reacts with basaltic rock and forms solid minerals, creating a permanent storage solution, and turning Hellisheidi into a negative emissions site. The EU-funded project [is] capable of capturing 50 metric tons of CO2 each year. Christoph Gebald, Founder and CEO at Climeworks, said: “The potential of scaling-up our technology in combination with CO2 storage, is enormous. Our plan is to offer carbon removal to individuals, corporates and organizations as a means to reverse their non-avoidable carbon emissions.′ It also costs $600 per ton of carbon dioxide, a figure they are hoping to reduce to $100 per ton. Iceland currently runs 100% of it’s electricity from renewable sources.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Forget getting rich - sex and sleep are the real keys to happiness
2017-09-19, MSN/The Telegraph
http://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/mindandbody/forget-getting-rich-sex-and-sleep...

It is often said that money doesn’t bring happiness, but researchers may have found the two things that do – sex and sleep. The Living Well Index, developed by researchers Oxford Economics, found that spending time in the bedroom is a lot more significant than quadrupling your income. A poll carried out by the National Centre for Social Research found that the most rested people score 15 points higher on the index than those who struggled with their sleep. People who are deeply dissatisfied with their sex lives score seven points lower on average than those who say they were very satisfied. By the same metric, increasing household income from Ł12,500 to Ł50,000 results in an increase of just two points. The report ... said: “For the typical Brit, improving their sleep to the level of someone at the top of the index would be equivalent to them having over four times as much disposable income,” adding that sleep was the “strongest indicator of a broader sense of well-being”. Other factors include living in a strong community, job security and the health of close relatives. The analysis also found ... a strong association between happiness and having a young child at home. “Baby boomers” who were still in work were the second-happiest group because of good job security and a high standard of living. The survey of 8,250 adults also found that older people are objectively happier than younger ones – even when other factors, such as wealth and lifestyle, are controlled.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, psychologists find
2017-08-10, Science Daily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170810141729.htm

Pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat, while embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, according to new UC Berkeley research. "We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health," said study senior author Iris Mauss. "Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you're not giving them as much attention," Mauss said. "And perhaps, if you're constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up." The study ... tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults. People who commonly resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or judge them harshly, can end up feeling more psychologically stressed. By contrast, those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment and resentment to run their course reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months. "It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being," said study lead author Brett Ford. "People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


GM is selling a $5,000 electric car in China
2017-08-08, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/07/autos/gm-china-electric-car/?sr=twCNN080717gm...

General Motors will start selling a tiny electric car in China this week that will cost about $5,300 after national and local electric vehicle incentives. For that sort of price, the Baojun E100 is no Cadillac, of course. The two-seat car's wheelbase - the distance from the center of the front wheels to the center of the rear wheels - is just 63 inches. Prices for the car start at RMB 93,900, or about $14,000, before incentives. The E100, which is Baojun's first electric car, is powered by a single 39-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of 62 miles an hour. The E100 can drive about 96 miles on a fully charged battery. Baojun is a mass-market car brand from General Motors' SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture in China. It's China's eighth most popular car brand. More than 5,000 people have already registered to buy the first 200 vehicles, according to GM. Another 500 vehicles will be made available this week, and buyers will be chosen on a first-come-first-served basis, a GM spokesperson said. Sales will initially be limited to the Guanxi region of southern China, but GM plans to sell the car more widely in China. A GM spokesperson declined to say exactly how many it expects to sell. China is the largest automotive market in the world, and its government is making a big push for electric cars. Already, China accounts for 40% of all electric cars sold worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The man who sews with his toes: Indian tailor creates bespoke garments… despite not having any ARMS
2017-07-20, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4713808/Armless-Indian-tailor-creates-garments-feet.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4713808/Armless-Indian-tailor-creates...

Madan Lal, 45, from Haryana in India was born without arms but learnt to adapt to the demands of everyday life by using his feet. Now he uses his talented toes to stitch beautiful garments from a shop in his village. He said: 'All the stitching work I do with my feet. From cutting the cloth to measurement, I have to use my feet.' He said: 'When I was young almost every school denied me admission because of my disability. My family couldn't afford to educate me, and I thought ... I'll have to do something to survive in this life.' At the age of 23, Mr Lal decided to take up tailoring, but found it very difficult to get any training. A determined Mr Lal decided to travel to Fatehabad and search for a tailor who was willing to train him. He said: 'I went to Fatehabad to learn stitching from a tailor. He initially refused to teach me. He said, "You don't have any arms, how would you do stitching?" 'I said, "Just give me one chance". He said okay and within 10 to 15 days my teacher started saying, "You will become successful". And I became very happy.' Within a year, Mr Lal had learned the art of tailoring and had opened a shop in his village. The impact on his life was immediate. 'That day I forgot all the sufferings. It was the best day of my life. I saw people coming to my shop to greet me. The whole village was happy, as if they were part of my family.' And now Madan's talent has overcome even the most sceptical of his villagers, and his exploits have made him something of a local hero. He said: 'Now everyone at our village comes to my shop.'

Note: Don't miss the inspiring 3-minute video of this very capable man.


Thom Bond: Changing the Conversation with NVC
2017-07-09, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1664/thom-bond-changing-the-conversation-with-...

In 2002 Thom Bond was a successful environmental engineer, passionate about designing smart buildings that used alternative energy. Then he chanced upon Marshall Rosenberg's landmark book Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life. "I think Marshall Rosenberg's work may be the single most important discovery of the 20th century," [said Thom]. "His discovery that when we bring our attention to our universal human needs, it changes what we focus on, it changes how we think, and we naturally become more compassionate." Two short years after being introduced to Marshall Rosenberg's work ... Bond opened NYCNVC. His work over the past fifteen years has brought the benefits of NVC to tens of thousands of people across the world from diverse backgrounds, including the military, corporate leaders, educators, peace workers and more. "It's about changing the conversation we are having," says Bond succinctly, "The one we are in right now in most spheres is: 'Who is right and who is wrong?' And ... if we change the subject to, 'How can we meet more needs and make this situation work better?' That is the new conversation." This approach isn't about changing people - it's about seeing them in a different way. There is a difference between what I am observing and what I am telling myself about what I am observing. This is judging and it keeps us from being present and connected. When we tune into our feelings and tap into our needs -- our own or someone else's then compassion arises spontaneously.

Note: Watch an excellent 10-minute video of NVC founder Marshall Rosenberg describing this profound process. See also a great, concise guide to NVC which can help you be a more effective and compassionate communicator. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


World’s Top Religious Leaders Issue Rare Joint Appeal
2017-06-15, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/worlds-top-religious-leaders-issue-rare-j...

In a rare move, major religious leaders ― from Pope Francis to the Dalai Lama ― issued a joint appeal Wednesday asking people to follow a simple bit of advice: Make friends with people of other faiths. “Our advice is to make friends to followers of all religions,” Ayatollah Sayyid Fadhel Al-Milani, one of the U.K.’s most senior Shia Muslim clerics, said in a video recording. “Personal contact, personal friendship, then we can exchange a deeper level of experience,” the Dalai Lama said. Pope Francis chose to speak about his long friendship with the Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who also appeared in the video. “Make Friends” is an initiative of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, an interfaith organization with offices in Israel and the United States. In a press release, organizers said the project’s mission is to counter the idea that people view each others’ religions with distrust or disdain - and to potentially even reduce violence conducted in the name of religion. Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein, the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s director, said that this project ... affirms the need for friendship between faiths. The 22 leaders involved in the appeal represent a wide spectrum of religious beliefs. Each leader contributed a personal statement specifically for the purposes of this project.

Note: How strange that very few major media picked up on this important and inspiring article.


Stunning Photos Bust Stereotypes Of What ‘Everyday Africa’ Looks Like
2017-06-14, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/everyday-africa-instagram-photos_us_59404...

An Instagram account seeks to counter misconceptions about people and countries in Africa by sharing gorgeous photos of everyday life on the continent. Everyday Africa, which started five years ago and now has about 340,000 followers, regularly publishes pictures from more than 30 photographers, most of whom are African themselves. Their work reflects a range of experiences on the continent: kids playing in a pool, young women taking selfies, people selling food at a street market. The project, largely directed at an American audience, aims to use photography to upend stereotypes about Africa ― namely that it is mainly a region of war, poverty and safaris ― and instead celebrate its rich diversity. “The way news functions is to focus on the extremes ― often it’s the very negative,” co-founder Peter DiCampo [said]. “The war and poverty parts are certainly present, but there’s so much else.” The project just released a book. Since 2013, DiCampo and others have visited more than 2,500 students in classrooms, mainly in Chicago and Washington, D.C., to teach kids about the Everyday Africa project and stereotypes in the media. Teachers then use their curriculum ― free to the public ― over several weeks to teach students about media and photography, and to have students do their own “everyday” projects. Everyday Africa is just one of many efforts ... to push back against stereotypes of the continent. The Twitter hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou ... also sought to break [these] stereotypes.

Note: Don't miss the beautiful photos at the link above.


Hypnosis, grounded in science
2017-06-12, The Globe and Mail (One of Canada's leading newspapers)
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/science-hypnos...

Hypnosis isn’t just for hucksters and Hollywood villains any more. Clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating anxiety, phobias, skin rashes, irritable-bowel syndrome and acute and chronic pain. In North America, medical centres such as the Mayo Clinic have added hypnosis to their pain-management tools. As with mindfulness meditation, hypnosis harnesses the brain’s natural abilities to regulate the body and control the random thoughts that ricochet through our minds, says Dr. David Patterson, a University of Washington psychologist. But, he adds, meditation can take weeks or months of practice before it helps patients. With hypnosis, “the relief is just a lot quicker and more dramatic.” About 10 per cent to 15 per cent of adults are “highly hypnotizable,” meaning they can easily slip into a trance and act on hypnotic suggestions. The same percentage of adults do not respond to hypnosis at all, while the rest are somewhere in between. In hypnosis circles, the word “powerful” comes up a lot. But it’s hardly an overstatement when you consider the work of Dr. Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville, director of the pain clinic ... at the University Hospital of Ličge, Belgium. Hypnosis allows patients to avoid general anesthesia in surgeries ranging from mastectomies to heart-valve replacements, Faymonville says. Since 1992, she has treated more than 9,500 surgery patients with “hypno-sedation,” combining hypnosis with small amounts of local anesthesia. Of those patients, just 18 had to switch to general anesthesia.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Genius inventor, 43, is helping scores of children by making state-of-the-art Spider-Man and Harry Potter-themed prosthetic arms in his garden shed
2017-05-20, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4525834/Inventor-Stephen-Davies-creat...

Inventor Stephen Davies was himself born without a left lower arm and never forgot the stigma of the NHS-issue prosthetic he wore as a child. After several years of not using one, [Davies] began looking at designs available on the NHS – only to discover they had barely improved in three decades. More sophisticated bionic arms ... can cost upwards of Ł30,000. However, having learned how far lighter limbs could be created on a 3D printer, he began to experiment in his garden shed. He has now set up Team UnLimbited, which creates customised ‘cool’ limbs for children, featuring their choice of colour and pattern. The father of three said, "We’ve done Iron Man designs, Harry Potter, Lego and Spider-Man. The key is making something the child actually wants to wear and feels is cool enough to show their friends. Sometimes children with prosthetics get bullied at school and something like this can make a huge difference to their confidence." The limbs work for children born without a lower arm. When the wearer moves their elbow, the fist closes, enabling objects to be grasped. Each arm costs about Ł30 to make, and takes a few days to print and assemble. All are made in the shed. Mr Davies – along with his partner ... Drew Murray – never charge the children for the cost of the limbs, and have instead raised their costs through crowdfunding.

Note: Watch a great video of smiling kids using their new hands.


Upworthy’s Quest to Engineer Optimism for an Anxious Age
2017-05-01, Wired
https://www.wired.com/2017/05/upworthys-quest-engineer-optimism-anxious-age/

The world finds itself in an age saturated with anxiety - at least, that’s the sense created by the daily deluge of news portraying a grim present of economic hardship, global tensions, terrorism, and political upheaval. The five-year-old site Upworthy doesn’t want you to see the world that way. In March of 2012, Eli Pariser - one of the leaders of the activist group MoveOn - and Peter Koechley - also of MoveOn and an editor at The Onion - launched Upworthy with several million dollars of seed money and a surfeit of hope. It was and is a bold attempt at reframing what constitutes news. Fear and anger are the currency of the media realm. Upworthy seeks to upend that formula and focus instead not on what is going wrong but on what might go right. Upworthy ... insists that stories “can make the world a better place” and engage people in a way that makes them want to do something instead of tuning out. On the numbers, Upworthy has 11 million subscribers, 20 million unique visitors to its website, and more important, substantial community engagement through its main distribution platform, Facebook. For those of you who think Upworthy has faded, Facebook’s own research ... demonstrates that the site and its stories have some of the highest community engagement of any Facebook page, behind Fox News but ahead of CNN. The site’s audience is surprisingly diverse in terms of politics and geography. Its experiment seems to be more one of tone: positive encouragement rather than inflammatory antagonism.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Former child soldier wins prize for risking his life to protect Congo's wildlife
2017-04-24, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/23/africa/goldman-prize-rodrigue-katembo/

He has been beaten, threatened and imprisoned. But the former child soldier and winner of this year's Goldman Environmental Prize says he will not stop until those wanting to destroy the Democratic Republic of Congo's protected wildlife "are held responsible for their actions." "Even if I or others are not able to (make this happen)," says Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo, "then the future generations will have this information and will do it." Katembo ... has been awarded the top environmental prize in recognition of the heroism he showed in preventing oil exploration inside Virunga - Africa's oldest national park. His dangerous undercover investigations exposed bribery and corruption among officials. The park is home to a quarter of the world's last remaining mountain gorillas, there are less than 900 left globally. Covering the size of a small country, Virunga is more than 3,000 square miles packed with volcanoes, lush forests and mountain glaciers that tear through the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. As a park ranger, Katembo has one of the most dangerous jobs in the region. Amidst political instability, armed poachers and rebels - who have been warring in the park for the past 20 years - outnumber park rangers ten to one. Protecting Virunga hasn't been easy. In 2013, Katembo was arrested and held for 17 days [after attempting] to stop construction of an oil communication device within the park. Local chiefs have [also] offered him bribes, "to help them get oil exploration going in the park," he says.

Note: A Netflix documentary called "Virunga" follows Katembo, colleagues André Bauma, Emmanuel du Merode and French investigative journalist Mélanie Gouby, as they battle oil exploration and armed conflict in the park.


Tony Robbins says this daily habit makes him successful
2017-03-30, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/30/tony-robbins-says-this-daily-habit-makes-him-s...

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Man Who Planted Trees: A Conversation with David Milarch
2017-03-23, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1549/the-man-who-planted-trees-a-conversation-...

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.

Note: Read or listen to the full version of this amazing interview with Milarch here. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of inspiring news articles on near-death experiences.


In an extraordinary new book, a top scientist reveals... the amazing anti-ageing power of kindness
2017-03-19, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4329810/The-amazing-anti-ageing-pow...

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.


UK carbon emissions drop to lowest level since 19th century, study finds
2017-03-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/06/uk-carbon-emissions-drop-...

The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions have fallen to their lowest level since the 19th century as coal use continues to plummet, analysis suggests. Emissions of the major greenhouse gas fell almost 6% year on year in 2016, after the use of coal for electricity more than halved to record lows, according to the Carbon Brief website, which reports on climate science and energy policy. The assessment suggests carbon emissions in 2016 were about 381m tonnes, putting the UK’s carbon pollution at its lowest level ... since 1894. Carbon emissions in 2016 are about 36% below the reference year of 1990, against which legal targets to cut climate pollution are measured. Emissions of carbon dioxide from coal fell 50% in 2016 as use of the fossil fuel dropped by 52%, contributing to an overall drop in carbon output of 5.8% last year compared with 2015, Carbon Brief said. The assessment reveals that coal use has fallen by 74% in just a decade. UK coal demand is falling rapidly because of cheaper gas, a hike in carbon taxes on the highly polluting fuel, expansion of renewables, dropping demand for energy overall and the closure of Redcar steelworks in late 2015. While emissions from coal fell in 2016, carbon output from gas rose 12.5% because of increased use of the fuel to generate electricity – although use of gas remains well below highs seen in the 2000s. Gas use for home and business heating has been falling for a decade, thanks to more insulation and efficient boilers.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The “Indivisible” Movement’s Key Strategy: Focus on Your Own Members of Congress
2017-02-11, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/how-the-indivisible-movement-is-fueli...

The Indivisible Guide was put online by former congressional staffers to give both Republicans and Democrats an effective way to resist Trump policies. So far, 6,000 local groups have registered. Created by a group of former congressional staffers, the guide, now a website [takes] a page from the tea party’s playbook. “After the election ... we saw an uptick in the number of Facebook groups and online activists who were very well-meaning but were giving very bad advice,” said Sarah Dohl, a co-author of the Indivisible Guide. People were being urged to do things like call House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) or to sign an online petition. As former congressional staffers, Dohl and her Indivisible colleagues knew that unless you “live in the 1st District of Wisconsin, Paul Ryan doesn’t work for you,” she said. These ex-staffers witnessed firsthand how the tea party rose to power and convinced their own members of Congress to reject President Obama’s agenda. There are Indivisible groups in Arizona and Missouri — and many more are sprouting up all around the country. They are planning actions, showing up at their local representatives’ offices to voice complaints, demanding meetings and calling Congress. Beyond “demystifying Congress,” their goal is to support local groups that are “putting the Indivisible Guide into action.” Through the Indivisible site people can find local groups, plan local actions, and access organizing resources.

Note: The Indivisible movement is growing rapidly in the US. Find a group near you on this webpage. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


What Iceland knows about preventing teen drug abuse that the rest of the world doesn’t
2017-02-09, Quartz
https://qz.com/905322/what-iceland-knows-about-preventing-teen-drug-abuse-tha...

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes ... or in clubs for music, dance, or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents. Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42% in 1998 to 5% in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17% to 7%. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23% to just 3%. The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based. If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of kids. State funding was increased for organized sport, music, art, dance, and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance ... a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona ($310) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Jews hand Muslims keys to synagogue after Texas mosque burns
2017-02-02, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/02/us/mosque-burns-synagogue-keys-trnd/

The congregation of the Victoria Islamic Center in Texas was devastated. Its mosque was destroyed over the weekend in a fire, the cause of which is unknown. Then an act of kindness revived their spirits - the leaders of the local Jewish congregation gave them the keys to their synagogue so they could continue to worship. The leader of the mosque said he wasn't surprised by the gesture. "I never doubted the support that we were going to get" after the fire, Dr. Shahid Hashmi, a surgeon and president of Victoria Islamic Center, told CNN. "We've always had a good relationship with the community here." Hashmi said Dr. Gary Branfman - a member of Temple B'nai Israel in Victoria, as well as a fellow surgeon and friend - just came by his house and gave him the keys. And that wasn't the only offer of a temporary worship space that was extended. Hashmi said three local churches said his congregation could use their buildings. Also offered up was an empty office building, which the congregation used for three days before moving into a mobile home on the mosque property. Though Hashmi always knew his own east Texas community would support the mosque, he was stunned by the outpouring of support from people outside Victoria. So far, a GoFundMe page set up to help raise money for the mosque's reconstruction has taken in more than $1 million. Thanks to all of the financial contributions, he expects they'll be able to rebuild it in less than a year.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


105-year-old cyclist breaks an hour-long distance record
2017-01-05, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/01/05/105-year-old-cy...

Ninety-two times the Frenchman raced around the velodrome, a curved indoor bicyclist track, at an average speed of 14 mph. That speed would be impressive for just about anyone on two wheels, but it was probably particularly satisfying for Robert Marchand. Mostly because, when he was young, one of his coaches told him to give up the sport. It’s even more impressive when one considers Marchand is 105 years old. As the clock signaled that he’d been riding for one hour, the crowd of hundreds in Le Vélodrome National de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, near Paris, chanted his name, but it’s likely no one wondered whether he had captured a new world record. Of course he had — the category was created by the International Cycling Union specifically for him. And now it has been set: the record for longest official distance ridden in an hour in the newly minted older-than-105 class is 22.5 kilometers (14 miles). “I’m now waiting for a rival,” Marchand told the AP. Still, he said he could have gone faster, if he had not run into a little trouble on the track. “I did not see the sign warning me I had 10 minutes left,” he told the Guardian. “Otherwise I would have gone faster, I would have posted a better time.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Running Program That's Pulled 13,000 Out of Homelessness
2016-11-30, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1451/the-running-program-that-s-pulled-13-000-...

On a recent Friday morning, a group of about 20 homeless guys warmed up in a parking lot across the street from three shelters in East Harlem. In a circle, they did jumping jacks, twisted their torsos and touched their toes. Fifteen minutes later, they huddled up, chanted the Serenity Prayer ... and took off running. Ryan ... began jogging with the group, known as Back on My Feet, seven months ago. Never a runner, he always wondered what the big deal about it was. Ask him today, however, and he’ll tell you it’s “so natural, almost spiritual.” Back on My Feet is a program that uses running to help the homeless get their lives back on track. In addition to connecting participants with housing and jobs, Back on My Feet is founded on the notion that running can change a person’s self-image. Early morning exercise, three days a week, provides an outlet for pent-up emotions and starts to change the way someone thinks about hard work. If the concept seems hokey or contrived, the program’s numbers show that’s not the case. Back on My Feet’s program has reached 5,200 homeless individuals. More than 1,900 have obtained employment, and 1,300 have moved into independent housing. Waking up so early every morning - whether the thermometer’s bubbling over or when it’s frozen solid - instills discipline and responsibility in the participants. They’re two valuable concepts, but both are hard to teach in the abstract. They need to be lived to be experienced.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Organic Food Company Doesn’t Discriminate Against Ex-Offenders—It Seeks Them Out
2016-11-25, Yes!
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/this-organic-food-company-doesnt-disc...

Mike Miles hadn’t had a stable job in years. This wasn’t due to a poor work ethic. Because Miles had a criminal record, he was always cut loose when it came time to let staff go. “It was like walking on eggshells. You just never knew when you’d be gone,” he recounted. After his release from prison in 2007, Miles struggled to find stability. It wasn’t until October 2015 ... that a cousin told Miles about Lancaster Food Company, a local business that ... focuses on hiring formerly incarcerated people. Miles submitted an application. He got an interview. And, soon after that, he began a new job, encompassing everything from food production to maintenance, not to mention a livable wage of $15 an hour. He says it’s the best job he’s ever had. Miles’ scenario is rare in Lancaster, where the poverty rate holds steady at 30 percent. This figure riled Charlie Crystle, Lancaster’s co-founder and CEO. He believes that food production is a key way to “meet people where they are,” referring to former offenders who may lack a high school or college degree. Lancaster produces products like bread and maple syrup, all of it USDA certified organic. Crystle says he wants to inspire other companies and entrepreneurs to rethink their current practices and ignite conversations around minimum wage and employment opportunities for everyone, including ex-offenders. Not one employee has quit. According to Mike Miles, having a steady job has given him new courage.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Motorcycle Club Rallies Around Boy Targeted By Hate Crimes
2016-11-10, CBS News (Boston affiliate)
http://boston.cbslocal.com/2016/11/10/motorcycle-club-rallies-around-boy-targ...

Earlier this month we brought you the story of a New Hampshire boy who was targeted because of the color of his skin. On Thursday, some special people were rallying around the child, healing the hate with love, and some fun. Horns were honking and engines roaring as seven year old Eze headed for 20 bikers waiting outside his school. Even though he doesn’t know any of them, their kindness means everything. “The best part of today is riding a motorcycle,” Eze says. Police say Eze, who is biracial, was targeted by a series of hate crimes recently. First a racial slur was scratched on his mother’s car, and then another on a saw horse tossed into the yard, and the third when fried chicken and watermelon were thrown onto the car. One of their neighbors is in the Manchester Motorcycle Club. He was horrified when he heard what happened. “Nothing’s ever happened on our road like that and it’s just wrong, and I don’t like it,” says Steve Vachon. The club decided to let the family know they were not alone. So today they made Eze an honorary club member. “We just want to share something with the kid, that he has people who care about him,” Vachon says. They also gave him a helmet, a jacket of his own and the ride of a lifetime. “I think it means the world to him. He knows the town supports him and no one hates him, and that he can walk with pride and he doesn’t have to be scared,” says Jaci Stimson, Eze’s mother.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Inspired by nature: the thrilling new science that could transform medicine
2016-10-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/oct/25/bioinspiration-thrilling-new-...

In the summer of 2005, Jeffrey Karp, a bioengineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital [read an] article [detailing] how a group of researchers had created a new synthetic material by mimicking the properties of gecko feet – whose tiny, hair-like pillars allow the lizard to stick to and detach from apparently sheer surfaces with ease. His first thought was to use the material to create a new type of medical tape that could replace sutures and staples, which can damage sensitive tissue surrounding wounds. In 2008, MIT’s Technology Review magazine named Karp one of the top innovators in the world under the age of 35. Karp, who is now 40 and runs his own lab ... is what is known in the business as a bioinspirationalist – a person who looks to nature for solutions to scientific problems. The gecko tape was Karp’s first bioinspired invention. Karp’s current projects include surgical staples inspired by porcupine quills, which create smaller punctures in the skin and prevent bacteria from entering wounds, and a new kind of surgical glue inspired by ... marine worms, which is strong enough to bind moving tissue inside major organs. This last invention has helped to cement Karp’s reputation as a rising star in the world of bioengineering. Because he doesn’t just invent cool stuff – he turns his creations into actual products. “When we look to solve problems, it’s not so we can publish papers,” said Nick Sherman, a research technician at Karp Lab. “It’s more like, ‘Is this work going to help patients?’”

Note: Don't miss pictures and detailed descriptions of some of Karp's nature-inspired inventions at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Oregon cowboy lassoes attempted bike thief
2016-09-30, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hero-oregon-cowboy-lassoes-attempted-bike-thief/

Twenty-eight-year-old Robert Borba is one of the last of a kind; A real, honest-to-goodness, cow roping cowboy. Robert works at a ranch outside Eagle Point, Oregon. But he recently gained notoriety ... because of what he did among the cart corrals of a Walmart parking lot. This past June, Robert says he moseyed over to the Walmart for some dog food, and on the way out he heard a woman screaming. “’Stop him! Stop him! He stole my bike! He stole my bike!’ And I kind of look around and all of a sudden this guy goes whizzing by me on a bicycle,” Robert said. As security cameras show, there was no way to catch him on foot. So the cowboy did what cowboys do. He saddled up to save the day, armed with little more than a lasso. “A couple swings and then I threw it at him, just like I would a steer,” Robert said. Robert called 911 himself, describing to the incredulous operator how he was able to detain the suspect. “We got a guy who just stole a bike here at Walmart. I got him roped and tied to a tree,” he said on the call. “What!?” the operator said. “I got him roped from a horse and he’s tied to a tree.” The cavalry arrived moments later, led by Eagle Point police officer Chris Adams. “I looked up and from the horse there was a rope connected to the ankle of a gentleman on the ground holding onto a tree,” Adams said. John Wayne couldn’t have it done better. “I’d take him by my side any day,” Adams said. “I told the cop, I said, ‘Man, you guys ought to pick up a rope and throw that gun away’,” Robert said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why An Israeli Company Is Sucking Water From The Sky
2016-09-30, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/water-gen-atmospheric-water-generator_us_...

In the face of a changing climate and the challenges that come with it, companies the world over have been attempting to pull solutions out of thin air - literally. There are firms turning air into fuel and others transforming it into stone. Some are even extracting clean drinking water from it. Israel’s Water-Gen has built devices that create and store drinking water by harvesting condensation from the air. It was among a group of Israeli firms that presented their technological innovations at the United Nations General Assembly last week. “Put simply, [our technology] leverages the same process as a dehumidifier, but instead captures and cleans the moisture,” said Arye Kohavi, Water-Gen’s CEO. “This ‘plug-and-drink’ technology is fully independent of existing water infrastructure. All we require is an electrical outlet and the humidity found in the air.” Water-Gen isn’t the only company to market such a technology, but it says its machines ... are far more energy-efficient than any other water production device. “Our technology takes one-fifth of the amount of energy used by other methods,” Kohavi said. Water-Gen estimates the water its machines generates would cost less than 10 cents per gallon. The smallest device can yield up to 5 gallons daily, while the largest can produce more than 800 gallons a day. “We think it’s possible to bring drinking water to all countries,” Maxim Pasik, Water-Gen’s chairman, [said] in an interview. “What’s important for us is to bring water to the people. This is a basic human right.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Does this 25 year-old hold the key to winning the war against superbugs?
2016-09-25, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/health/does-this-25-year-old-hold-the-key-to...

Not many 25-year-olds can claim to get up at 4am and work weekends to save the world from an impending Armageddon that could cost tens of millions of lives. But for the past three years, Shu Lam, a Malaysian PhD student at the University of Melbourne, has confined herself to a scientific laboratory to figure out how to kill superbugs that can no longer be treated with antibiotics. She believes that she has found the key to averting a health crisis so severe that last week the United Nations convened its first ever general assembly meeting on drug-resistant bacteria. The overuse and incorrect use of antibiotics has rendered some strains of bacteria untreatable, allowing so-called “superbugs” to mutate. Last Wednesday, the problem was described by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a “fundamental threat” to global health and safety. [Lam] believes her method of killing bacteria using tiny star-shaped molecules, built with chains of protein units called peptide polymers, is a ground-breaking alternative to failing antibiotics. Her research, published this month in the prestigious journal, Nature Microbiology, has already been hailed by scientists as a breakthrough that could change the face of modern medicine. Lam successfully tested the polymer treatment on six different superbugs in the laboratory, and against one strain of bacteria in mice. Even after multiple generations of mutations, the superbugs have proven incapable of fighting back.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in America
2016-09-21, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/how-oregon-became-the-easiest-place-t...

In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. Four other states have passed similar laws and more than half have considered doing so this year - more than two decades after the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 directed states to make it easier for citizens to register to vote at offices that provide public assistance, including motor vehicle agencies. In Oregon, DMV customers ... who show up in the department’s computer system as eligible but unregistered, are added by default to voter rolls without party affiliation; they later select a political party or opt out using a form sent to them in the mail. That subtle difference - requiring people to take an extra step to opt out if they don’t want to be registered - is producing results. “So far, it’s working,” said Jonathan Brater, of the Brennan Center of Justice at the New York University School of Law, an advocate for the modernization of voter registration. Just two years ago, barely a handful of states were considering this form of voter registration. But technology has made it easier to seamlessly transfer data between agencies, and states increasingly are taking advantage of it. Legislatures in three other states have passed automatic voter registration laws: West Virginia, Vermont, and California.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why More Americans Are Becoming Activists
2016-08-18, Time Magazine
http://time.com/4450461/necessary-trouble/

This election cycle has been more dramatic than most. But the real political drama this year has taken place in the streets of cities like Oakland, New York, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and St. Paul. The anger on display in the presidential race built on the outrage expressed in protest movements from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street, in places like Manhattan, where activists occupied City Hall Park for fairer policing practices; in North Carolina, where they challenged voting rights restrictions; and in Chicago, where teachers went on strike for the schools Chicago students deserve. Americans have rediscovered the fine art of direct action, making what Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis calls “good trouble, necessary trouble” to bring about the change that they want to see. This new wave began of activism began in 2008. Although inequality in the U.S. had been expanding for decades, the financial crisis - which caused people to lose their jobs, evaporated retirement savings and evicted families from their homes - raised its profile. It’s not just inequality of income that has driven people to the streets, though. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown, Jr., John Crawford III, Eric Garner and other black men sent protesters to the streets declaring “Black Lives Matter.” People were angry at the way it seemed that a police officer could shoot or choke a black man to death and walk away with a few weeks of desk leave while the man who videotaped the killing could lose his job or end up in jail himself. The movements that have shaken the country in recent years ... have fed one another, overlapped and intersected. As the streets ring with protest again this year, we should remember this country’s long history of making trouble to make change.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Scientists flip energy equation with solar leaf that converts CO2 into fuel
2016-08-01, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/0801/Scientists-flip-energy-equation-wi...

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here
2016-07-29, Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/israel-proves-the-desalination-era...

Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants. Desal works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. Breakthroughs in membrane technology ... have made desalination much more efficient. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination. Water stress has been a major factor in the turmoil tearing apart the Middle East, but [Edo] Bar-Zeev [with the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research] believes that Israel’s solutions can help its parched neighbors, too - and in the process, bring together old enemies in common cause. Bar-Zeev acknowledges that water will likely be a source of conflict in the Middle East in the future. “But I believe water can be a bridge,” he says. Bar-Zeev has ambitious plans for a Water Knows No Boundaries conference in 2018, which will bring together water scientists from Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza for a meeting of the minds.

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An 87-year old nun completes Ellensburg Olympic Triathlon
2016-07-25, Daily Record (A local Washington state newspaper)
http://www.dailyrecordnews.com/members/an--year-old-nun-completes-ellensburg-...

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.”

Note: Watch a great, one-minute video on this amazing woman. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The movement to free hens from cages may be going global
2016-07-25, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2016/07/25/the-movement-to-fr...

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


U.S. Navy banned from using sonar that could harm whales and other marine life
2016-07-16, New York Daily News/Associated Press
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/u-s-navy-banned-sonar-harm-whales-ar...

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."

Note: Explore concise summaries of news articles about marine mammals and how amazing they are.


Do trees have brains and talk to each other? They are intelligent, express emotions and make friends, claims a new book.
2016-07-15, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3792036/Do-trees-brains.html

There's increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other. More than that, trees can learn. When you discover how trees talk to each other, feel pain, nurture each other, even care for their close relatives and organise themselves into communities, it's hard to be sceptical. The support they give each other is not random. Research by Professor Massimo Maffei at the University of Turin shows trees can distinguish the roots of their own species from other plants, and even pick out their own relations from other trees. Some are so tightly connected at the roots that they even die together, like a devoted married couple. Diseased or hungry individuals can be identified, supported and nourished until they recover. They can also send warnings using chemical signals and electrical impulses through the fungal networks that stretch under the soil between sets of roots. These fungi operate like fibre-optic internet cables. Their thin filaments penetrate the earth, weaving through it in almost unbelievable density. One teaspoon of forest soil contains many miles of these tendrils. Over centuries, if left undisturbed, a single fungus can cover many square miles and create a network throughout an entire forest. Through these links, trees can send signals about insects, drought and other dangers. News bulletins are transmitted by chemical compounds and also by electricity. Most of us see trees as practically inanimate. But the truth is very different. They are just as intensely alive as we are ... and for much, much longer.

Note: The above article was adapted from Peter Wohlleben's book, "The Hidden Life Of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate - Discoveries From A Secret World." Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Paying Farmers to Go Organic, Even Before the Crops Come In
2016-07-14, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/15/business/paying-farmers-to-go-organic-even-...

Companies can’t get enough organic ingredients to satisfy consumer desire for organic and nongenetically modified foods. The demand for those crops outstrips the supply, leaving farmers like [Wendell] Naraghi racing to convert their land to organic production, an arduous and expensive process. “Customers are asking for it,” said Mr. Naraghi, who is in the process of transitioning 300 of his 3,000 acres of orchards this year. “And we listen to our customers.” The clamor for organic crops is so intense that major food brands, like General Mills, Kellogg and Ardent Mills, are helping to underwrite the switch. General Mills, for instance, recently signed a deal to help convert about 3,000 acres to organic production of alfalfa and other animal feeds. Ardent offers farmers a premium for crops grown on land while a farm transitions to organic. In the most recent government tally, in 2011, organic farmland, including that used for grazing, was less than 1 percent of crop land in the United States. But the consumer demand is accelerating the conversion process. Sales of organic products grew 11 percent last year to $43.3 billion, or roughly four times the growth in sales of food products over all. Sales would have been even higher had supply, particularly in organic dairy and grains, kept up with demand. As much as 20 percent of cropland in America could be organic in the next decade or so, but land suitable for transition is getting harder to come by.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Truckers Take The Wheel In Effort To Halt Sex Trafficking
2016-07-13, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2016/07/13/484801054/truckers-take-the-wheel-in-effort-to-...

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.


Last US Medical School That Used Live Animals In Teaching Surgery Ends Practice
2016-07-06, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/live-animals-pigs-will-not-be-used-in-med...

Cats, dogs and pigs will no longer be guinea pigs. Late last month, the last medical school in the U.S. and Canada to use live animals to teach surgical skills to students - the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga - announced it would cease the practice. In an email sent to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which has fought the practice for years, Robert C. Fore, the interim dean for the medical school at UT, wrote that “effective immediately” the college will no longer use live pigs to teach surgical skills to students. Instead they will use simulators of human bodies that can bleed, breathe, blink and have lifelike organs and skin. “It’s a watershed moment,” John Pippin, a retired cardiologist and director of academic affairs for PCRM, told Washington Post. “For anyone who went to medical school in years past it was a rite of passage, often a disturbing rite of passage to use a dog or cat or another animal in medical courses.” Students were instructed to use the animals to practice surgical procedures or inject them with various drugs to monitor responses. After being used for such training procedures, the animals were killed. UT’s ban of using live animals follows Johns Hopkins’ May 18 announcement that they would stop the practice because “almost all medical schools have stopped using live animals” and “that the experience is not essential.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Helpless to Prevent Cancer? Actually, Quite a Bit Is in Your Control
2016-07-05, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/06/upshot/helpless-to-prevent-cancer-actually-...

As a physician, I have encountered many people who believe that heart disease, which is the single biggest cause of death among Americans, is largely controllable. After all, if people ate better, were physically active and stopped smoking, then lots of them would get better. This ignores the fact that people can’t change many risk factors of heart disease like age, race and family genetics. People don’t often seem to feel the same way about cancer. They think it’s out of their control. A ... recent study published in Nature argues that there is a lot we can do. Many studies have shown that environmental risk factors and exposures contribute greatly to many cancers. Diet is related to colorectal cancer. Alcohol and tobacco are related to esophageal cancer. HPV is related to cervical cancer, and hepatitis C is related to liver cancer. And you’d have to be living under a rock not to know that smoking causes lung cancer and that too much sun can lead to skin cancer. Using sophisticated modeling techniques, the researchers argued that less than 30 percent of the lifetime risk of getting many common cancers was because of intrinsic risk factors, or the “bad luck.” The rest were things you can change. [More] recently, in JAMA Oncology, researchers sought to quantify how a healthful lifestyle might actually alter the risk of cancer. They [found that] about 25 percent of cancer in women and 33 percent in men was potentially preventable.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Triple amputee doctor: Disability doesn't define you
2016-06-22, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/22/health/turning-points-kellie-lim/index.html

If you had asked me 20 years ago where I would be, I never would have imagined I would be a physician working at UCLA Health, one of the best medical centers in the country. For over 25 years, my physical disability threatened to define who I was and what others thought I could become. I contracted meningococcal disease at 8 years of age. The infection overwhelmed my body's defenses, and I became a triple amputee. The disease left me with just enough to survive and carry on: two full fingers of the left hand, the thumb and ring finger. The first few years were physically and emotionally grueling; I was in and out of the hospital for surgical procedures to make my lower limbs fit better into prosthetic legs. I couldn't walk for nearly three years. I grew so quickly, my prosthetic legs could not keep up. My father would give me piggyback rides from the car to our house. My mother, who became blind as a teen, learned how to help me dress and put on my prosthetic legs every morning for school. My younger brother, Tarring, would help bring things to me since my mobility was limited. And my older sister, Nellie, was and is my inspiration and role model. I have been extremely lucky to have a strong and resilient family. I was lucky to be in a place where I had great medical care and where I had a community of friends and schools that supported my recovery and believed in my ability to succeed despite my disability. But luck is only part of my success; it takes courage, determination, honesty and integrity to pursue your dreams.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Organic Agriculture Boosts Local Economies
2016-06-20, Alternet
http://www.alternet.org/food/organic-agriculture-boosts-local-economies

New research links county-level economic health to agriculture, and finds that organic food and crop production, along with the business activities accompanying organic agriculture, creates real and long-lasting regional economic opportunities. The recently completed White Paper, U.S. Organic Hotspots and their Benefit to Local Economies ... finds organic hotspots - counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity whose neighboring counties also have high organic activity - boost median household incomes by an average of $2,000 and reduce poverty levels by an average of 1.3 percentage points. It identifies 225 counties across the United States as organic hotspots, then looks at how these organic hotspots impact two key county-level economic indicators: the county poverty rate and median household income. Organic activity was found to have a greater beneficial economic effect than that of general agriculture activity, such as chemically-intensive, conventional agriculture, and even more of a positive impact than some major anti-poverty programs at the county level. Interest in organic at the production level has grown as the demand for organic has risen. Organic food is not only better for the economy, but for human health and the environment. A comprehensive review of 97 published studies comparing the nutritional quality of organic and conventional foods show that organic plant-based foods contain higher levels of eight of 11 nutrients. Organic foods have [also] been shown to reduce dietary pesticide exposure.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


John Oliver Buys and Forgives $15 Million in Debt
2016-06-06, ABC/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/john-oliver-buys-forgives-15-mi...

Some 9,000 people stuck with delinquent medical bills had their debts forgiven courtesy of HBO host John Oliver. Oliver, on his "Last Week Tonight" program Sunday, took the action to illustrate a story about the practices of companies that purchase the records of debtors and attempt to collect on them. The show set up its own company to acquire $15 million worth of debt owed to hospitals in Texas, paying $60,000. Oliver said it was "disturbingly easy" for his show to set up a company, which it called Central Asset Recovery Professionals, and incorporate it in Mississippi to make the purchase. Oliver's show engages in a form of investigative comedy, this week examining [how] institutions often sell their debt for pennies on the dollar to companies who then attempt to collect on the bills. These companies operate with little regulation, and sometimes employ shady and abusive collectors who try to intimidate people into paying, he said. RIPMedicaldebt.org, a nonprofit that raises money to buy debt and forgive the bills owed by people who can least afford to pay them, welcomed the attention. "It's absolutely fabulous," said Craig Antico, CEO of RIPMedicaldebt.org. "It puts a light on a problem that few people know exists. If people paid attention to (Oliver's show) and it got them upset, they should realize that we can eradicate much of this debt if we all banded together to help each other," Antico said. "People can make a donation of $50 and wipe out a $10,000 debt."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


He nearly died in a shooting. Now he’s a doctor at the hospital that saved his life
2016-05-24, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/05/24/this-man-near...

At his graduation from medical school, Kevin Morton Jr. sat beside the woman who saved his life. It was nearly a decade since he was shot in an Arby’s parking lot, sustaining injuries so severe that the early prognosis gave him only a 10 percent chance of survival. But Dr. Dharti Sheth-Zelmanski, the surgeon on call in the trauma unit that night, didn’t let that happen. The care he received over many surgeries and his long recovery inspired Morton to evaluate what he would do with his second chance. The answer came naturally: He’d pay it forward by becoming a doctor himself. In 2012, he ... was accepted to Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. He chose to specialize in general surgery, the same as Sheth-Zelmanski. He did his student rotations at St. John’s Hospital in Detroit ... where he was once a patient. He’ll start his residency there in July — almost nine years to the day he was brought there as a shooting victim. On his graduation day earlier this month, Morton asked Sheth-Zelmanski to hood him, an honor given to a close family member or mentor when receiving an advanced degree. “There’s no greater joy than to realize what I do on a day-to-day basis can create such a change in somebody for the better,” she said. “I feel like I know that if anything is ever wrong with me, I know where I can go.” And that’s Morton’s goal: to be the kind of compassionate and engaged doctor that she was for him.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Is the Era of Great Famines Over?
2016-05-08, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/09/opinion/is-the-era-of-great-famines-over.ht...

The worst drought in three decades has left almost 20 million Ethiopians - one-fifth of the population - desperately short of food. And yet the country’s mortality rate isn’t expected to increase: In other words, Ethiopians aren’t starving to death. I’ve studied famine and humanitarian relief for more than 30 years, and I wasn’t prepared for what I saw during a visit to Ethiopia last month. I saw imported wheat being brought to the smallest and most remote villages. Water was delivered to places where wells had run dry. Malnourished children were being treated in properly staffed clinics. Compare that to the aftermath of the 1984 drought, which killed at least 600,000 people, [and] caused the economy to shrink by nearly 14 percent. How did Ethiopia go from being the world’s symbol of mass famines to fending off starvation? Peace, greater transparency and prudent planning. Ethiopia’s success in averting another disaster is confirmation that famine is elective because, at its core, it is an artifact and a tool of political repression. After countries have passed a certain threshold of prosperity and development, peace, political liberalization and greater government accountability are the best safeguards against famine. So is the era of great famines finally over? Let’s just say it could be. Famine isn’t caused by overpopulation, and as Ethiopia’s experience shows, it’s not a necessary consequence of drought. Politics creates famine, and politics can stop it.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Teen birthrate reaches all-time low, CDC report says
2016-04-30, PBS
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/teen-birthrate-reaches-all-time-low-cdc-report...

The teenage birth rate in the United States has hit an all-time low, according to a report this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says during the last 25 years, the teen birth rate has fallen from 62 births for every 1,000 teenage women to 24 per 1,000. The drop is steepest among minorities in the past decade, with pregnancies down 44 percent for black teens and down 51 percent among Hispanics. Dr. Wanda Barfield, the CDC’s director of the Division of Reproductive Health [explains this dramatic] decrease: "What we’re seeing is that community-based interventions appear to be effective in preventing teen births. We’re seeing declines in sexual activity among teens, as well as increases in the use of the most effective contraceptive methods available. Sexual health education plays an important role in the prevention of teen pregnancy. Even states that may have low rates of teen pregnancy may have areas where we’re seeing high rates of teen pregnancy within specific communities. So, as a result, it’s really important that we look locally, that we engage communities in teen pregnancy prevention."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This New Restaurant Feeds Thousands of Hungry People Every Day
2016-04-29, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/benjamin-hardy/this-new-restaurant-feeds_b_9802...

48.1 million Americans have insecure access to food, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. Several restaurants ... are trying to win the war against hunger. For example, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, has a “pay-it-forward” concept allowing customers to feed local homeless people a slice of pizza for one dollar. Even Stevens, a new restaurant based in Salt Lake City, gives a sandwich to a local hungry person with every sandwich sold. According to their website, Even Stevens has donated 444,022 sandwiches so far. The founder of Even Stevens, Steve Down, is a serial entrepreneur. As the father of millennials who care deeply about social consciousness and giving, Down saw the opportunity to use his skills ... to turn the food service industry into a force for social good. The result is “a sandwich shop with a cause.” Even Stevens is growing rapidly, with ... seven current locations since the first opened in Salt Lake City in June, 2014. Down plans to have 20+ locations open by the end of 2016. The 10 year plan is to have 4,000 locations feeding over 1,000,000 people per day. To put these numbers in perspective, Subway has approximately 34,000 locations and Chipotle has approximately 2,000. Anyone inside the restaurant industry would consider the objectives of Even Stevens to be ludicrous. Yet, Down ... believes the results of Even Stevens speak for themselves, with each location currently opened achieving profitability within the first 30-60 days.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Innocent man ends up pals with crooked cop that framed him
2016-04-15, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/on-the-road-innocent-michigan-man-ends-up-working...

Back in 2005, Jameel McGee says he was minding his own business when a police officer accused him of - and arrested him for - dealing drugs. "It was all made up," said McGee. Of course, a lot of accused men make that claim, but not many arresting officers agree. "I falsified the report," former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins admitted. "Basically, at the start of that day, I was going to make sure I had another drug arrest." And in the end, he put an innocent guy in jail. "I lost everything," McGee said. "My only goal was to seek him when I got home and to hurt him." Eventually, that crooked cop was caught, and served a year and a half for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing. Of course McGee was exonerated, but he still spent four years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Today both men are back in Benton Harbor, which is a small town. Last year, by sheer coincidence, they both ended up at faith-based employment agency Mosaic, where they now work side by side in the same café. And it was in those cramped quarters that the bad cop and the wrongfully accused had no choice but to have it out." I said, 'Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I'm sorry,'" Collins explained. McGee says that was all it took. "That was pretty much what I needed to hear." Today they're not only cordial, they're friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him. "And I just started weeping because he doesn't owe me that. I don't deserve that," Collins said.

Note: Don't miss the beautiful video of this story at the link above.


Forget Nutraloaf—Prisoners Are Growing Their Own Food
2016-03-24, Yes!
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/forget-nutraloaf-prisoners-are-growin...

Scanning a prison menu is a bleak task. Common food items range from nutraloaf - a mishmash of ingredients baked into a tasteless beige block - to, rumor has it, road kill. The substandard quality of food at some correctional facilities has led to protests and hunger strikes. But some states, along with correctional authorities and prison activists, are discovering the value of feeding prisoners nutrient-rich food grown with their own hands. Prison vegetable gardens, where inmates plant and harvest fresh produce to feed the larger prison population, are on the rise in correctional facilities from New York to Oregon. In addition to being a cost-effective food source, the gardens are seen as a way to save money on healthcare for prisoners struggling with diabetes, hypertension, and other ailments. But the gardening itself provides opportunities for personal growth, as inmates learn how to plant, raise, and harvest crops. It also functions as a method of rehabilitation in what is often a deeply stressful environment. “Inmates are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment,” says Tonya Gushard, public information officer for the Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI) in Salem. The OSCI has run a garden program at its facility since 2008. Between 2012 and 2015, Oregon state prisoner-gardeners raised more than 600,000 pounds of produce for nearly 14,000 inmates. The potential savings for taxpayers in health costs from providing inmates with high-quality food cannot be overstated.

Note: Watch an inspiring video on how meditation has become a path of freedom to many imprisoned for violent offenses. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet the doctor who treats the homeless
2016-03-21, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/07/us/cnn-heroes-homeless-doctor-jim-withers/

Dr. Jim Withers used to dress like a homeless person. On purpose. Two to three nights a week, he rubbed dirt in his hair and muddied up his jeans and shirt before walking the dark streets of Pittsburgh. Withers wanted to connect with those who had been excluded from his care. "I was actually really shocked how ill people were on the street," he said. "Young, old, people with mental illness, runaway kids, women (who) fled domestic violence, veterans. And they all have their own story." Homelessness costs the medical system a lot of money. Individuals often end up in emergency rooms, and stay there longer, because their illnesses go untreated and can lead to complications. For 23 years, Withers has been treating the homeless - under bridges, in alleys and along riverbanks. "We realized that ... we could make 'house calls,'" he said. It's something that Withers' father, a rural doctor, often did. Withers' one-man mission became a citywide program called Operation Safety Net. Since 1992, the group has reached more than 10,000 individuals and helped more than 1,200 of them transition into housing. In addition to street rounds, the program has a mobile van, drop-in centers and a primary health clinic, all where the homeless can access medical care. In the way I'd like to see things, every person who is still on the streets will have medical care that comes directly to them and says, "You matter." Having street medicine in [the] community transforms us. We begin to see that we're all in this together.

Note: Don't miss the video of Withers' inspiring "street medicine" in action at the CNN link above.


Gross National Happiness: Bhutan's Unique Measurement
2016-02-21, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2016/02/21/467582508/gross-national-happiness-bhutan-s-uni...

The tiny nation of Bhutan [is] wedged in the Himalayas between China and India. The country has been in the international spotlight mainly for ... its unique approach to calculating economic growth by taking the pulse of its people's gross national happiness. The nation is among one of just a handful of so-called carbon negative countries in the world, meaning it soaks up more carbon than it produces thanks to vast forests. Amidst all this, it's also developing a new economic engine in the form of hydropower while expanding economic and political ties to neighboring India and China. "We need to strengthen our economy, but equally important are other aspects of human development, which include social development, environment sustainability, culture," [said Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay]. "And this whole idea of balancing material growth - which is important on the one hand - with social development, this is what the sense of gross national happiness is all about." We're already carbon negative. Our entire country, we generate 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. However, our forests sequester more than 6 million tons. So the idea is to keep that track record - in fact, to add to it. What we're trying to do is raise money to invest in our protected areas. More than half our country is protected as national parks and nature reserves."

Note: Watch Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay deliver a TED Talk on the important connection between happiness and environmental sustainability.


Sweden’s recycling is so revolutionary, the country has run out of rubbish
2016-02-08, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/sweden-s-recycling-is-so-revolutiona...

Sweden is so good at recycling that, for several years, it has imported rubbish from other countries to keep its recycling plants going. Less than 1 per cent of Swedish household waste was sent to landfill last year or any year since 2011. Sweden was one of the first countries to implement a heavy tax on fossil fuels in 1991 and now sources almost half its electricity from renewables. Over time, Sweden has implemented a cohesive national recycling policy so that even though private companies undertake most of the business of importing and burning waste, the energy goes into a national heating network to heat homes through the freezing Swedish winter. “That’s a key reason that we have this district network, so we can make use of the heating from the waste plants. We use [the waste] as a substitute for fossil fuel,” ... says Anna-Carin Gripwall, director of communications for the Swedish Waste Management’s recycling association. The aim in Sweden is still to stop people sending waste to recycling in the first place. A national campaign ... has for several years promoted the notion that there is much to be gained through repairing, sharing and reusing. She describes Sweden’s policy of importing waste to recycle from other countries as a temporary situation. “There’s a ban on landfill in EU countries, so instead of paying the fine they send it to us as a service. They should and will build their own plants, to reduce their own waste, as we are working hard to do in Sweden,” Ms Gripwall says.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How a Disappointing Restaurant Experience Turned Into an Effort That Now Feeds 1200 Kids
2016-02-06, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1215/how-a-disappointing-restaurant-experience...

What started as a small gesture, of feeding underprivileged children, by 31-year-old Darshan and his friends has turned into a full-blown movement. An email he shot off to a restaurant, after being deeply disappointed with the service he got there, just changed the course of Darshan’s life. When the restaurant management apologised for the poor service and offered to give him free food, Darshan refused the offer and asked them to feed underprivileged children instead. The restaurant went ahead with his suggestion, and after feeding the children, sent pictures to Darshan. “This is the moment that changed me forever. The smile on the faces of those children left me touched. And that is when I decided to do something about it,” he says. Thus, the BhookMitao campaign was born. On June 7, 2015, Darshan and his friends went and fed a couple of children in a slum in Vadodara, Gujarat. Today, the BhookMitao movement provides nutritious lunch to as many as 1,200 children in Vadodara. As the volunteer network grows, Darshan has divided it into groups. Each group takes up a particular spot in the city. They coordinate with those who want to donate, procure the raw materials, and cook the meals in their own kitchens. The programme usually begins ... with some fun activities for the kids. They screen movies on education or make them do some craft work etc., and then ... volunteers and children eat the same food together. The movement ... has spread, [and] the number of volunteers has grown from six to over 600.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


French law forbids food waste by supermarkets
2016-02-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by...

France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks. Under a law passed unanimously by the French senate, as of Wednesday large shops will no longer bin good quality food approaching its best-before date. Charities will be able to give out millions more free meals each year to people struggling to afford to eat. The law follows a grassroots campaign in France by shoppers, anti-poverty campaigners and those opposed to food waste. Campaigners now hope to persuade the EU to adopt similar legislation across member states. Supermarkets will also be barred from deliberately spoiling food in order to stop it being eaten by people foraging in stores’ bins. In recent years, growing numbers of families, students, unemployed and homeless people in France have been foraging in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves. People have been finding edible products thrown out just as their best-before dates approached. Some supermarkets doused binned food in bleach, [or] deliberately binned food in locked warehouses for collection by refuse trucks. Now bosses of supermarkets with a footprint of 400 sq metres (4,305 sq ft) or more will have to sign donation contracts with charities or face a penalty of €3,750 (Ł2,900).

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In a Tiny House Village, Portland's Homeless Find Dignity
2016-01-28, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/-in-a-tiny-house-village-portlands-h...

Located in northeast Portland, Dignity Village is a self-governed gated community, which currently serves 60 people on any given night - the city limits the number - and provides shelter in the form of tiny houses built mainly from donated and recycled materials. The village emerged in the winter of 2000 as a tent city called Camp Dignity. Now officially a nonprofit, Dignity Village is governed by a democratically elected council of nine residents, who are responsible for day-to-day decisions; all residents can vote on big decisions, like whether to remove a resident or enter into contracts with service providers, in town-hall-style meetings. On a typical night, it provides food, housing, bathrooms, and a mailing address for nearly 60 adults, who pay $35 a month in rent and would otherwise be taking their chances alone sleeping on park benches or city streets. Community may be Dignity Village’s most essential offering. “It’s really what sets people apart from other homeless shelters and encampments, above all else,” says Katie Mays, who works as a social worker at Dignity Village three days a week. Elsewhere, cities are trying out the model. In Eugene, Oregon, Opportunity Village has lifted the concept wholesale. Dignity Village’s influence also has spread to Nashville, where a micro-housing community called Sanctuary has cropped up. What the residents of these communities hold in common are the bonds forged from shared experience - of finally finding a welcome environment after being discarded and stigmatized by larger society.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Utah teen with no arms or legs inspiring classmates on high school dance team
2016-01-08, Fox News (Salt Lake City affiliate)
http://fox13now.com/2016/01/08/utah-teen-with-no-arms-or-legs-makes-davis-hig...

Seventeen-year-old Gabe Adams was born without arms and legs and suffers from a rare disease called hanhart syndrome, but that doesn't stop him from dancing. After spending most of his life in a wheelchair, he decided to join the dance team at Davis High School. During halftime at a basketball game Friday night, he performed in front of the whole school. Cheers rang out as Gabe put the word disability to shame. "I wanted to prove to myself and to others that there’s more to myself than just a kid in a wheelchair," Adams said. With practices three days a week, which last for more than three hours, dance team is no easy commitment. However, teammate Alexis Delahunty says Gabe makes it seem easy. "I can’t even imagine doing this without my arms and legs. It's so inspiring. He’s just amazing," Delahunty said. His dance teacher, Kim King, says Gabe has brought so much joy to the team and has pushed them all to work harder. "When they see him, they don’t realize how hard it is to get dressed, how hard it is to get in and out of his chair, but Gabe does everything by himself," King said. Gabe's father, Ron Adams, said Gabe is always pushing himself and taking each challenge in stride. "I don’t think everyone understands what it takes, the muscle coordination and development to balance when he doesn’t have limbs," Ron Adams said. He may not realize it, but Gabe is constantly inspiring the people around him.

Note: Note: Don't miss the amazing video at the link above. For more on this most impressive teenager, see this story. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Kind Kids Lead to Healthier Communities
2015-12-16, Greater Good
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/kind_kids_lead_to_healthier_comm...

Skills like kindness, cooperation, and empathy are sometimes dismissed as “soft” skills in education. Developing “hard” skills like math and reading can seem far more practical and important - hence our education system’s rigorous focus on teaching and testing them. But [a] recent study, published last month in the American Journal of Public Health, turns that thinking on its head. After following hundreds of students from kindergarten through early adulthood, the study suggests that possessing those “soft” skills is key to doing well in school and avoiding some major problems afterwards. Neglecting these skills could pose a threat to public health and safety. Importantly, these findings held true regardless of the student’s gender, race, or socioeconomic status, the quality of their neighborhood, their early academic skills, or several other factors. Those who were rated as more pro-social in kindergarten were more likely to succeed. In some cases, kids’ kindness was more strongly related to certain outcomes later in life than were other factors that might seem more relevant. For example, surprisingly to the researchers, the level of aggression that a student showed in kindergarten couldn’t predict whether the student would have a run-in with the law later in life - but his level of pro-social behavior could. The results make a convincing case for investing more in nurturing students’ social and emotional skills - which, according to prior research, are malleable and can be improved, with lasting and meaningful results.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A lawyer leads a life on the wild side – rescuing those sold into slavery
2015-12-04, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2015/1204/A-l...

Trained as a lawyer, Van Ngoc Ta never imagined that he would spend his evenings posing as a gang lord in brothels. Over the past 10 years, Van Ta has played an active role in ... Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, [a charity] that rescues Vietnamese women and girls trafficked to China for the sex trade as well as victims of forced labor. Undercover operations [are] part of the job. In the past decade he has rescued more than 480 women and girls sold into prostitution or sexually abused as well as victims of forced labor working in Vietnam. Some Vietnamese women go abroad for brokered marriages, mostly to China and Malaysia, but find themselves in domestic servitude or prostitution. Others are duped in online relationships and end up in the sex trade. Others are sold to traffickers by friends or neighbors. "We put the safety and interests of the victims first. What you want to do more than anything else is to bring them home. I have to be careful as there is a lot of money involved," said Van Ta, adding that girls can earn as much as $250 a day for their pimps and traffickers. "If you think of the number of girls I have rescued, this probably means I have taken about $2-3 million of earnings from the traffickers and brothels." Van Ta ... said the rewards of the job outweighed the risks. "When you bring a victim home, there are tears of happiness, and you would accept any price to bring them home," said Van Ta. Blue Dragon ... now has 72 staff and cares for more than 1,500 children in Vietnam [in addition to] its rescue work.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


‘Magical Wheelchair’ Offers Unforgettable Halloween for Disabled Kids
2015-10-27, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/making-a-difference/magical-wheelchair-offers...

Most children want to dress up for Halloween, but for those confined to wheelchairs, it isn’t always that simple. Ryan Weimer understands that concept better than most. When his oldest son, Keaton, was 3 years old, he told his dad he wanted to be a pirate for Halloween. Instead of simply dressing him up, Weimer spent months building Keaton - who lives with muscular dystrophy - a pirate ship made of wood, tablecloth sails and specially-crafted cannons, all fitted to his wheelchair. Keaton was ecstatic - and his dad never forgot the feeling. "When you know that you have few memories to make with your kids, you want to make priceless ones," Weimer told NBC News, "and epic ones." His second son, Bryce, also lives with muscular dystrophy. Over the years, their wheelchair costumes have gotten more elaborate and attracted more attention. And this year, the Weimer family project became a hugely successful non-profit, called Magic Wheelchair. Volunteers from around the country donated their time, talents and resources to create dream costumes for eight lucky children — six from Weimer’s home state of Oregon and two from Georgia. "When we have challenges and trials and hard times, those are the things that define us," Weimer said. "It doesn’t' matter your circumstances, you can still make beautiful things ... and it's great to see other people get behind that."

Note: Don't miss this very touching video on Magic Wheelchairs.


What are the Secrets to a Happy Life?
2015-10-25, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1154/what-are-the-secrets-to-a-happy-life-geor...

The Grant Study ... is now the longest longitudinal study of biosocial human development ever undertaken, and is still on-going. The study’s goal was to identify the key factors to a happy and healthy life. In 2009, I delved into the Grant Study data to establish a Decathlon of Flourishing - a set of ten accomplishments that covered many different facets of success. Two of the items in the Decathlon had to do with economic success, four with mental and physical health, and four with social supports and relationships. Then I set out to see how these accomplishments correlated, or didn’t, with three gifts of nature and nurture - physical constitution, social and economic advantage, and a loving childhood. The results were as clear-cut as they were startling. In contrast with the weak and scattershot correlations among the biological and socioeconomic variables, a loving childhood - and other factors like empathic capacity and warm relationships as a young adult - predicted later success in all ten categories of the Decathlon. What’s more, success in relationships was very highly correlated with both economic success and strong mental and physical health. In short, it was a history of warm intimate relationships ... that predicted flourishing. The Grant Study finds that nurture trumps nature. And by far the most important influence on a flourishing life is love. Not early love exclusively, and not necessarily romantic love. But love early in life facilitates not only love later on, but also the other trappings of success, such as high income and prestige.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


101-Year-Old Credits Vegan Diet For His Longevity
2015-10-15, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/101-year-old-credits-vegan-diet-for-his-...

A 101-year-old California heart surgeon who retired just five years ago may be the epitome of “you are what you eat.” Dr. Ellsworth Wareham credits his vegan lifestyle with being his fountain of youth. He says it’s why he is still sharp-minded, enjoys good balance and drives. “I don’t have any trouble with my joints, my hands are steady, my balance is good, I don’t have to walk with a cane,” he [said]. Wareham lives in Loma Linda, California, which is one of five so-called Blue Zones, so named by longevity researcher Dan Buettner because people tend to live longer, healthier lives within them. Residents of Loma Linda, many of whom like Wareham are Seventh Day Adventists, have a life expectancy that’s nine to 11 years greater than that of other Americans. Seventh Day Adventists avoid smoking and alcohol, include exercise in their lifestyle and follow a vegetarian diet. The city of Loma Linda ... has several community programs in place that support its older residents. Loma Linda men in particular live six to seven years longer than the average American man. As for Dr. Wareham, he said he has “never cared for animal products,” so maintaining a vegan lifestyle was “a very easy thing” for him to do. But while what you eat certainly impacts your health, even Buettner has noted that the Blue Zones have other longevity-increasing factors.

Note: Watch a short video interview with this amazing man.


SOCAP conference teaches doing well by doing good
2015-10-09, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's Leading Newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/SOCAP-conference-teaches-doing-we...

After decades on the fringes, impact investing is going mainstream. Though the phrase isn’t yet commonplace, the concept is familiar enough to have spawned several monikers: values-based investing, green investing, mission-driven investing, sustainable investing, socially responsible investing, principled investing. Some 3,000 investors and entrepreneurs convened at Fort Mason this week to discuss the idea at SOCAP, the leading conference for people who want to support social innovation with their money. “Social-impact investors want to make sure they are doing good in the world but as a genuine investment, not philanthropy,” said Eryc Branham, CEO of MissionHub, which produces the conference. The rapidly growing field measures returns not just in dollars and cents but in social and environmental change. On the financial side, some investors accept lower returns as a trade-off for doing good. But they don’t necessarily have to. A new report from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that pursuing a social agenda doesn’t come at a financial price. After studying 53 funds with 557 investments, Wharton found that their rate of return from 2000 to 2014 was in line with benchmarks like the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. While impact investing amounts are still small compared with the multitrillion-dollar financial market, the potential for making a difference is immense.

Note: Learn how the microcredit movement is providing investors with financial returns while empowering small business owners and lifting people out of poverty.


Sweden introduces six hour work day
2015-10-01, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sweden-introduces-six-hour-wor...

Sweden is moving to a six-hour working day in a bid to increase productivity and make people happier. Employers across the country have already made the change, according to the Science Alert website, which said the aim was to get more done in a shorter amount of time and ensure people had the energy to enjoy their private lives. Toyota centres in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, made the switch 13 years ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits in that time. Filimundus, an app developer based in the capital Stockholm, introduced the six-hour day last year. “The eight-hour work day is not as effective as one would think," Linus Feldt, the company’s CEO told Fast Company. Mr Feldt has said staff members are not allowed on social media, meetings are kept to a minimum, and that other distractions during the day are eliminated - but the aim is that staff will be more motivated to work more intensely while in the office. He said the new work day would ensure people have enough energy to pursue their private lives when they leave work – something which can be difficult with eight-hour days.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Styrofoam-eating mealworms might help reduce plastic waste, study finds
2015-09-30, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/30/us/styrofoam-eating-mealworms-plastic-waste/ind...

Plastic, long considered nonbiodegradable and one of the biggest contributors to global pollution, might have met its match: The small, brownish, squirmy mealworm. Researchers have learned that the mealworm can live on a diet of Styrofoam and other types of plastic. Inside the mealworm's gut are microorganisms that are able to biodegrade polyethylene, a common form of plastic, according to new studies published in Environmental Science and Technology. The findings could help solve the plastic pollution problem affecting the world. The research documented 100 mealworms that consumed 34 to 39 milligrams of Styrofoam, which is about the weight of a pill, every day. Scientists also paid attention to the mealworms' overall health and saw larvae that ate a diet subsisting strictly of Styrofoam were as healthy as mealworms eating a normal diet of bran, [and] transformed the plastic they ate into carbon dioxide, worm biomass and biodegradable waste. This waste seemed safe to use in soil for plants and even crops, the studies said. Being able to find insects that can safely degrade plastic is critical to potential pollution management because other insects such as cockroaches can also consume plastic, but they have not shown biodegradation.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


FBI report: Violent crime down in U.S.
2015-09-28, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/28/politics/fbi-crime-statistics-report-2014/

The FBI says crime rates, including murder, were down last year. The report is in contrast to headlines this year. In 2014 the U.S. recorded the fewest murders since 2009. Most other violent crimes, such as robbery, burglary, theft and arson have declined, while aggravated assaults and rapes, which now includes a broader definition, were on the rise in 2014. The 2014 numbers do not reflect an increase this year in murders and other violent crimes reported in some cities. Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates highlighted progress made for cities compared to decades past. "We have witnessed a remarkable drop in crime since the 1980's - both violent crime and crime overall. Entire cities have been transformed, unlocking tremendous potential and releasing a wave of prosperity," Yates said, adding that "even though crime is trending downward in most places, we are seeing pockets of rising violence in various locations across the country." While the FBI has expanded the report to include new statistics such as hate crimes and human trafficking arrests, it addressed concerns of transparency in the reporting of potential violent crimes committed by law enforcement officers on civilians.

Note: This article, like almost all media articles on the topic, fails to report the incredible news that violent crime rates have dropped to 1/3 of what they were just 20 years ago. Why are they not highlighting this incredibly inspiring news? For details on this awesome development, see this excellent webpage. See also an excellent graph on this.


These Public Libraries Are for Snowshoes and Ukuleles
2015-09-14, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/15/us/these-public-libraries-are-for-snowshoes...

Libraries aren’t just for books, or even e-books, anymore. In Sacramento, where people can check out sewing machines, ukuleles, GoPro cameras and board games, the new service is called the Library of Things. Services like the Library of Things and the “Stuff-brary” in Mesa, outside Phoenix, are part of a broad cultural shift in which libraries increasingly view themselves as hands-on creative hubs, places where people can learn new crafts and experiment with technology like 3-D printers. Last year, the Free Library of Philadelphia pulled together city, state and private funds to open a teaching kitchen, which is meant to teach math and literacy through recipes and to address childhood obesity. It has a 36-seat classroom and a flat-screen TV for close-ups of chefs preparing healthy dishes. “Libraries are looking for ways to become more active places,” said Kate McCaffrey of the Northern Onondaga Public Library, outside Syracuse, which lends out its garden plots and offers classes on horticulture. “People are looking for places to learn, to do and to be with other people.” The Ann Arbor District Library has been adding to its voluminous collection of circulating science equipment. It offers telescopes, portable digital microscopes and backyard bird cameras, among other things - items that many patrons cannot afford to buy. In Sacramento, each item in the Library of Things bears a bar code, since the Dewey Decimal System was not intended for sewing machines or ukuleles.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dutch city of Utrecht to experiment with a universal, unconditional 'basic income'
2015-06-26, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/dutch-city-of-utrecht-to-exper...

The Dutch city of Utrecht ... has paired up with the local university to establish whether the concept of 'basic income' can work in real life, and plans to begin the experiment at the end of the summer holidays. Basic income is a universal, unconditional form of payment to individuals, which covers their living costs. The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study. University College Utrecht has paired with the city to place people on welfare on a living income, to see if a system of welfare without requirements will be successful. The Netherlands as a country is no stranger to less traditional work environments - it has the highest proportion of part time workers in the EU, 46.1 per cent. However, Utrecht's experiment with welfare is expected to be the first of its kind in the country. Alderman for Work and Income Victor Everhardt: "One group ... will have compensation and consideration for an allowance, another group with a basic income without rules and of course a control group which adhere to the current rules. Our data shows that less than 1.5 percent abuse the welfare. What happens if someone gets a monthly amount without rules and controls? Will someone sitting passively at home or do people develop themselves and provide a meaningful contribution to our society?"

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


No More Plastic: Lego Pledges $150 Million to Go Green
2015-06-25, Yahoo! News
https://www.yahoo.com/makers/lego-pledges-150-million-to-go-green-12244194943...

Lego just announced a bold 10-year plan to makes its goods more environmentally friendly. This comes after a 2013 partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to develop a plan in reducing its overall carbon emissions, as well as those of its supply chain. Lego pledged to invest $150 million to find a replacement for the plastic used in its blocks as well as to reduce the size of its packaging. A commitment for this kind of strategy includes using recycled or renewed materials and improving the recyclability of its products. Hasbro and Mattel, producers of such iconic toys as Play-Doh and Hot Wheels, respectively, have also vowed to invest in this global issue. By 2020, Hasbro plans to reduce its waste, water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions. It is also overhauling the packaging for most of its brands. These strides have led to Hasbro being named a winner of the EPA's 2014 Climate Leadership Award. After caving to mounting pressure from Greenpeace, Mattel committed to source new materials for its packaging, setting a goal of 85 percent recycled materials by the end of 2015. "The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit," said Lego Group owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. Words we should all try to live by.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why hardly anyone dies from a drug overdose in Portugal
2015-06-05, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/05/why-hardly-anyone-...

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.


U.N. Reports About 200 Million Fewer Hungry People Than in 1990
2015-05-27, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/28/world/united-nations-reports-global-hunger-...

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.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Audi creates green 'e-diesel fuel of the future' using just carbon dioxide and water
2015-04-27, International Business Times
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/audi-creates-green-e-diesel-fuel-future-using-just-c...

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.


The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life
2015-04-15, New York Times Blog

Exercise has had a Goldilocks problem, with experts debating just how much exercise is too little, too much or just the right amount to improve health and longevity. Two new, impressively large-scale studies provide some clarity. In the broader of the two studies, researchers ... found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death. But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent. The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised. At that point, the benefits plateaued, the researchers found, but they never significantly declined. The other new study of exercise and mortality reached a somewhat similar conclusion, [and found that] if someone engaged in even occasional vigorous exercise, he or she gained a small but not unimportant additional reduction in mortality.

Note: For some great ideas on healthy exercises, see this article by WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks.


Hogwarts-inspired middle school in the heart of Atlanta
2015-03-15, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ron-clark-academy-atlanta-sets-success-confidence...

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.


Before I Go: A Stanford neurosurgeon’s parting wisdom about life and time
2015-03-12, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/03/12/before-i-go-a-...

In neurosurgical training ... six years passed in a flash. Then, heading into chief residency, I developed a classic constellation of symptoms — weight loss, fevers, night sweats, unremitting back pain, cough — indicating a diagnosis quickly confirmed: metastatic lung cancer. The gears of time ground down. Now unable to work, I was left at home to convalesce. A full day’s activity might be a medical appointment, or a visit from a friend. The rest of the time was rest. Yet there is dynamism in our house. Our daughter was born days after I was released from the hospital. Week to week, she blossoms: a first grasp, a first smile, a first laugh. My daughter, Cady. I hope I’ll live long enough that she has some memory of me. Words have a longevity I do not. I had thought I could leave her a series of letters — but what would they really say? I don’t know what this girl will be like when she is 15; I don’t even know if she’ll take to the nickname we’ve given her. There is perhaps only one thing to say to this infant, who is all future, overlapping briefly with me, whose life, barring the improbable, is all but past. That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Billionaire Governor Taxed the Rich and Increased the Minimum Wage -- Now, His State's Economy Is One of the Best in the Country
2015-02-24, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-gibson/mark-dayton-minnesota-economy_b_673...

When he took office in January of 2011, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate from his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty. During his first four years in office, Gov. Dayton raised the state income tax from 7.85 to 9.85 percent on individuals earning over $150,000, and on couples earning over $250,000 when filing jointly - a tax increase of $2.1 billion. He's also agreed to raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women. Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to Minnesota's economy - that's 165,800 more jobs in Dayton's first term than Pawlenty added in both of his terms combined. Even though Minnesota's top income tax rate is the fourth highest in the country, it has the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. As of January 2015, Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, and Gov. Dayton has pledged to reinvest more than one third of that money into public schools. The reason Gov. Dayton was able to radically transform Minnesota's economy into one of the best in the nation is simple arithmetic. Raising taxes on those who can afford to pay more will turn a deficit into a surplus. Raising the minimum wage will increase the median income. And in a state where education is a budget priority and economic growth is one of the highest in the nation, it only makes sense that more businesses would stay.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Delhi election: Why an idealistic 'Common Man' beat PM Modi's party
2015-02-10, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2015/0210/Delhi-election-Wh...

India's two political giants were defeated Tuesday by an anti-corruption party led by a former tax inspector. Arvind Kejriwal, a youthful-looking former tax inspector and winner of Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, has pulled off a stunning near-sweep in New Delhi's local elections on Tuesday. The Aam Aadmi, or "Common Man," party won 67 of 70 seats in New Delhi, the largest single victory ever in India's capital. The party's victory also marks the first major loss for the Hindu nationalist BJP party since its own sweep of India last spring, [and] the first time that Congress, the venerable party associated with the liberation movement of Mohandas Gandhi, failed to win a single seat in Delhi. The success of the Common Man party stems from its sustained campaign against corruption combined with a dedicated army of volunteers. Analysts say Kejriwal also benefited from the perceived arrogance or overconfidence of the BJP. Kejriwal existed for years under the political radar in India, surfacing from time to time to take up “transparency” issues like clarifying the Right to Information Act. He was born in 1968 in a middle class family from Haryana state in the north and graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering, moving then to work for the Tata group and then the Indian public tax service. Kejriwal entered politics in 2012 and championed transparency and anti-corruption. He launched a party that brought together activists, youth, and poor people, and his anti-graft ideas caused a stir nationwide. His party’s symbol is a broom, a reference to its origins as an anti-graft campaign group.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Philadelphia Pizza Lovers Pay It Forward One Slice At A Time
2015-01-14, NPR
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/01/14/377033772/philadelphia-pizza-love...

At Rosa's Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, the shop is adorned with Post-it notes and letters. The messages are from customers who gave $1 so homeless members in the community could get a slice, which costs $1. The pay-it-forward pizza program started about a year ago, [owner Mason] Wartman says, when one paying customer asked if he could buy a slice for a homeless person. "I said, 'Sure.' I took his dollar and ran out and got some Post-it notes and put one up to signify that a slice was purchased," he recalls. Pay-it-forward pizza was born. Over the past nine months, Wartman says, clients have bought 8,400 slices of pizza for their homeless neighbors. He kept track of the prepaid slices with Post-it notes on the walls until he hit about 500 free slices. He now keeps track at the register. Wartman says the customer who started it all was inspired by a practice in Italy called "suspended coffee" where customers purchase an extra cup for someone who can't afford it. Pay-it-forward generosity isn't limited to Italian cafes or one Philly pizza shop. Even mega-chains, including the bakery and sandwich chain Panera, have gotten into the giving act. Other chains' pay-it-forward systems have grown organically. Starbucks Coffee Co. spokeswoman Sanja Gould says some people just offer to pay for the person behind them in line, while others "might load a certain dollar amount onto a Starbucks card and the store partners have it on hand and they keep adding to it as the line goes on." Wartman says ... people want to help but aren't sure what to do. "This is a super-easy way, a super-efficient way and a super-transparent way to help the homeless."

Note: Watch a great video on this inspiring pizza shop.


Quiz: The 36 Questions That Lead to Love
2015-01-09, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html?_r=0

In Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” she refers to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one. The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” 1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? 2. Would you like to be famous? In what way? 3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? 10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? 14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it? 17. What is your most treasured memory? 18. What is your most terrible memory? 31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already. 32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about? 36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it.

Note: Read all the questions from this fun and revealing exercise at the link above. And you can find there a free app to download these great questions for your cell phone, too.


Saudi billionaire pledges entire fortune to charity
2015-01-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/01/saudi-billionaire-pledges-ent...

A Saudi billionaire has announced one of the biggest philanthropic gestures in history, promising to donate all his $32bn (Ł20bn) wealth to charity over the coming years. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a 60-year-old magnate who is a nephew of the late King Abdullah, said he would channel the money through his own Alwaleed Philanthropies organisation. The money will go to programmes promoting health, eradicating disease, modernisation, intercultural understanding and empowering women, he said. “This donation will be allocated according to a well-devised plan throughout the coming years,” the prince said in a statement. “Philanthropy is a personal responsibility, which I embarked upon more than three decades ago and is an intrinsic part of my Islamic faith. With this pledge, I am honouring my life-long commitment to what matters most – helping to build a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world for generations to come.” The prince’s move will be modelled on the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, which last year donated $4bn to various causes. Gates said Alwaleed’s decision “is an inspiration to all of us working in philanthropy around the world.” Gates, who set up his foundation in 2000, has signed up more than 100 billionaires, including Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson and George Lucas, to giving away half their fortunes to charity.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Disabled Ugandan teenager beams as he overcomes the odds and finds his voice for the very first time
2014-11-21, Daily Mail (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2844368/The-heart-warming-moment-br...

15-year-old Patrick Otema, from Kampala in Uganda, found his voice for the very first time. Patrick, who was born deaf, was unable to even express himself to his family and, had things not changed, would have been condemned to a life of silence. But thanks to a pioneering new programme, he has finally been taught to communicate using sign language. But Patrick has been lucky. His teacher is Raymond Okkelo who is deaf himself - and who is one of the few Ugandans to use sign language. 'In the past I was also like him,' he explains. 'I couldn’t use sign language, the only thing I could do was hide in fear.' Raymond became deaf as a child after a bout of malaria. Six months ago, he travelled to the Ugandan capital Kampala for intensive training in sign language. Now able to communicate with the outside world, Raymond is determined to change the lives deaf people in sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom have never been taught sign language. Raymond ... has also opened the very first sign language school in the country - which Patrick now attends. But nothing is as heart-warming as the moment that Patrick finally realises he can communicate, with joy spreading across his face as he grasps the significance of what he has learned. Patrick's transformation is nothing short of breathtaking. But Patrick won't be the only deaf child to benefit. Buoyed by the success of his first cohort of students, Raymond hopes to take his school on tour and help many more children on the way.

Note: Don't miss the incredibly moving video of his first words and a great follow-up video about this inspiring story.


Calgary bullied teen's loving response earns her love in return
2014-10-16, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthood/2014/1016/Calga...

Caitlin Prater-Haacke of Alberta, Canada was urged by bullies to kill herself, via Facebook post. Instead of sinking into negativity she turned the situation into a positive lesson. Lee Hirsch, director of the documentary “Bully,” which aired Monday on PBS Monday, is among those lending their support to Caitlin, who was reprimanded by her school for her “Positive Post-It Day” approach to bullies. In late September, someone broke into Caitlin’s locker at George McDougall High School in Airdrie, a community just north of Calgary, and wrote a Facebook status using Caitlin’s iPad that encouraged her to die. Rather than letting the bully win, the 11th grader wrote inspiring, positive, encouraging messages on 800 Post-It notes and left them around her school - with messages like "You're beautiful," "Love yourself," and "You're awesome.” Now her campaign has also taken to Twitter with the tag #PositivePostItDay. "Bullying is not necessarily addressed, and people get really down about it, I wanted to do something positive - it was about due time," Caitlin told the Toronto Sun. Caitlin’s town, led by a mayoral proclamation, banded together to launch a new anti-bullying campaign called “Positive Post-it Day” which encourages residents to leave anonymous notes of kindness for one another each year on Oct. 9. “What I really got out of this story is the way this student chose not to be derailed by this negative experience,” said Hirsch. “She became a role model to her classmates, teachers, her mayor and her town.”

Note: Watch a short video on this inspiring news story.


Life after death? Largest-ever study provides evidence that 'out of body' and 'near-death' experiences may be real
2014-10-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/life-after-death-largest-ever-study...

There is scientific evidence to suggest that life can continue after death, according to the largest ever medical study carried out on the subject. A team based in the UK has spent the last four years seeking out cardiac arrest patients to analyse their experiences, and found that almost 40 per cent of survivors described having some form of “awareness” at a time when they were declared clinically dead. Dr Sam Parnia ... who led the research, said that he previously [believed] that patients who described near-death experiences were only relating hallucinatory events. One man, however, gave a “very credible” account of what was going on while doctors and nurses tried to bring him back to life – and says that he felt he was observing his resuscitation from the corner of the room. About the evidence provided by a 57-year-old social worker ... Dr Parnia said: “We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating. “But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes. “The man described everything that had happened in the room.” Dr Parnia’s study involved 2,060 patients from 15 hospitals ... and has been published in the journal Resuscitation. Of those who survived, 46 per cent experienced a broad range of mental recollections, nine per cent had experiences compatible with traditional definitions of a near-death experience and two per cent exhibited full awareness with explicit recall of “seeing” and “hearing” events – or out-of-body experiences.

Note: See our near-death experience resource center for lots more fascinating, reliable information on this vital topic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about near-death experiences.


Moral Courage & The Story of Sister Megan Rice
2014-10-01, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/857/moral-courage-and-the-story-of-sister-mega...

The Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oakridge, Tennessee, is supposed to be impregnable. But on July 28th 2012, an 84 year-old nun called Sister Megan Rice broke through a series of high-security fences surrounding the plant and reached a uranium storage bunker at the center of the complex. She was accompanied by Greg Boertje-Obed (57) and Michael Walli (63). The trio ... sat down for a picnic. When the security guards arrived they offered them some bread. Two years later, Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed were sentenced to federal prison terms of between three and five years, plus restitution in the amount of $53,000 for damage done to the plant - far in excess of the estimates produced at their trial. When questioned about her actions at her trial by Judge Amul Thapar, Rice told him that her actions were intended to draw attention to the US stockpile of nuclear weapons that she and her co-defendants felt was illegal and immoral. They also wanted to expose the ineffectiveness of the security systems that were supposed to protect these weapons from theft or damage. “We were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear weapons have already caused,” wrote Rice afterwards in a letter to her supporters, “and we realize that all life on earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental or technical error. Our action exposed the storage of weapons-making materials deliberately hidden from the general public.” All three defendants were found guilty of “sabotage of the national defense.” Just before they were sentenced, Rice made a statement to the court which ended like this: “We have to speak, and we’re happy to die for that. To remain in prison for the rest of my life is the greatest honor that you could give me. Please don’t be lenient with me. It would be an honor for that to happen.”

Note: If you would like to receive copies of Sister Rice’s letters to her supporters, please email [email protected] Mailing addresses for Sister Rice and her co-defendants can be found here and here. You can also sign a petition requesting their pardon.


Buddha seems to bring tranquility to Oakland neighborhood
2014-09-15, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/johnson/article/Buddha-seems-to-bring-tranquill...

Dan Stevenson is neither a Buddhist nor a follower of any organized religion. The 11th Avenue resident in Oakland's Eastlake neighborhood was simply feeling hopeful in 2009 when he went to an Ace hardware store, purchased a 2-foot-high stone Buddha and installed it on a median strip in a residential area at 11th Avenue and 19th Street. He hoped that just maybe his small gesture would bring tranquility to a neighborhood marred by crime. What happened next was nothing short of stunning. Area residents began to leave offerings at the base of the Buddha: flowers, food, candles. A group of Vietnamese women in prayer robes began to gather at the statue to pray. And the neighborhood changed. People stopped dumping garbage. They stopped vandalizing walls with graffiti. And the drug dealers stopped using that area to deal. The prostitutes went away. Since 2012, when worshipers began showing up for daily prayers, overall year-to-date crime has dropped by 82 percent. Robbery reports went from 14 to three, aggravated assaults from five to zero, burglaries from eight to four, narcotics from three to none, and prostitution from three to none. To this day, every morning at 7, worshipers ring a chime, clang a bell and play soft music as they chant morning prayers. The original statue is now part of an elaborate shrine that includes a wooden structure standing 10 feet tall and holding religious statues, portraits, food and fruit offerings surrounded by incense-scented air. On weekends, the worshipers include more than a dozen people: black folks, white folks, all folks, said Andy Blackwood, a neighborhood resident.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Discipline With Dignity: Oakland Classrooms Try Healing Instead of Punishment
2014-09-14, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/820/discipline-with-dignity-oakland-classrooms...

Nelson Mandela’s adage, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends,” captures the profoundly inclusive nature of restorative justice (RJ). The hallmark of RJ is intentionally bringing together people ... who have harmed with people who have been harmed in a carefully prepared face-to-face encounter where everyone listens and speaks with respect and from the heart. The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the alarming national trend of punishing and criminalizing our youth instead of educating and nurturing them. Exclusionary discipline policies such as suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests are increasingly being used to address even the most minor infractions. Use of suspensions has almost doubled since the 1970’s. A UC Berkeley Law study found [Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth]’s 2007 middle school pilot eliminated violence and expulsions, while reducing school suspension rates by 87 percent. In 2010, the Oakland, Calif. school board passed a resolution adopting RJ as a system-wide alternative to zero-tolerance discipline and as a way of creating stronger and healthier school communities. Young high school students in Oakland with failing grades and multiple incarcerations who were not expected to graduate not only graduate but achieve 3.0-plus GPAs. Today hundreds of Oakland students are ... empowered to engage in restorative processes ... in a safe and respectful space, promoting dialogue, accountability, a deeper sense of community, and healing.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Scientists Say the Ozone Layer Is Recovering
2014-09-10, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/scientists-ozone-layer-recovering-...

Earth's protective ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported [on September 10] in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet. For the first time in 35 years, scientists were able to confirm a statistically significant and sustained increase in stratospheric ozone, which shields the planet from solar radiation that causes skin cancer, crop damage and other problems. From 2000 to 2013, ozone levels climbed 4 percent in the key mid-northern latitudes at about 30 miles up, said NASA scientist Paul A. Newman. He co-chaired the every-four-years ozone assessment by 300 scientists, released at the United Nations. "It's a victory for diplomacy and for science and for the fact that we were able to work together," said chemist Mario Molina. In 1974, Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland wrote a scientific study forecasting the ozone depletion problem. They won the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work. The ozone layer had been thinning since the late 1970s. Man-made chlorofluorocarbons, called CFCs, released chlorine and bromine, which destroyed ozone molecules high in the air. After scientists raised the alarm, countries around the world agreed to a treaty in 1987 that phased out CFCs.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing global warming news articles from reliable major media sources.


Tales of the Dead Come Back: How Modern Medicine Is Reinventing Death
2014-09-03, National Geographic
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/09/140903-near-death-experiences...

They can fly through walls or circle the planets, turn into pure light or meet long-dead relatives. Many have blissful experiences of universal love. Most do not want to return to the living. When they do, they're often endowed with special powers: They can predict the future or intuit people's thoughts. These are the testimonies of people who have had near death experiences (NDEs) and returned from the other side to tell the tale. Journalist Judy Bachrach decided to listen to their stories. [National Geographic:] Your book, Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death, [describes] one scientist [who] suggests that NDEs may simply result from the brain shutting down, ... that, for instance, the brilliant light often perceived at the end of a tunnel is caused by loss of blood or hypoxia, lack of oxygen. How do you counter these arguments? [Bachrach:] The problem with the lack of oxygen explanation is that when there is a lack of oxygen, our recollections are fuzzy and sometimes non-existent. The less oxygen you have, the less you remember. But the people who have died, and recall their death travels, describe things in a very clear, concise, and structured way. Lack of oxygen would mean you barely remember anything. [NG:] You suggest there is a difference between brain function and consciousness. Can you talk about that idea? [Bachrach:] The brain is possibly ... not the only area of consciousness. Even when the brain is shut down, on certain occasions consciousness endures. One of the doctors I interviewed, a cardiologist in Holland, believes that consciousness may go on forever. So the postulate among some scientists is that the brain is not the only locus of thought.

Note: Watch a profound BBC documentary on near-death experiences. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing NDE news articles from reliable major media sources. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Kentucky State president to share his salary with school’s lowest-paid workers
2014-08-05, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-leadership/wp/2014/08/05/kentucky-stat...

This summer, [Raymond Burse,] the interim president at Kentucky State University, made a large gesture to his school's lowest-paid employees. Burse announced that he would take a 25 percent salary cut to boost their wages. The 24 school employees making less than $10.25 an hour, who mostly serve as custodial staff, groundskeepers and lower-end clerical workers, will see their pay rise to that new baseline. Some had been making as little as $7.25, the current federal minimum. Burse, who assumed the role of interim president in June, says he asked the school's chief financial officer how much such an increase would cost. The amount: $90,125. "I figured it was easier for me to forgo that amount, rather than adding an additional burden on the institution," Burse says. The school ratified his employment contract on the spot — decreasing it from $349,869 to $259,744. He has pledged to take further salary cuts any time new minimum-wage employees are hired on his watch, to bring their hourly rate to $10.25. Burse describes himself as someone who believes in raising wages, and who also has high expectations and demands for his staff. "I thought that if I'm going to ask them to really be committed and give this institution their all, I should be doing something in return," Burse says. "I didn’t have any examples of it having been done out there and I didn’t do it to be an example to anyone else," Burse says. "I did it to do right by the employees here."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Did This City Bring Down Its Murder Rate by Paying People Not to Kill?
2014-08-01, Mother Jones
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/richmond-california-murder-rate-g...

It was a crazy idea, but Richmond, California, wouldn't have signed off on DeVone Boggan's plan if it had been suffering from an abundance of sanity. For years, the Bay Area city had been battling one of the nation's worst homicide rates and spending millions of dollars on anti-crime programs to no avail. Boggan, who'd been working to keep teen offenders out of prison ... wondered: What if we identified the most likely perpetrators and paid them to stay out of trouble? In late 2007, Boggan launched the Office of Neighborhood Safety, an experimental public-private partnership that's introduced the "Richmond model" for rolling back street violence. It has done it with a mix of data mining and mentoring, and by crossing lines that other anti-crime initiatives have only tiptoed around. The program's street team sifts through police records and its own intelligence to determine, with actuarial detachment, the 50 people in Richmond most likely to shoot someone and to be shot themselves. ONS tracks them and approaches the most lethal (and vulnerable) on the list, offering them a spot in a program that includes a stipend to turn their lives around. So far, the results have been promising. In 2007, when Boggan's program began, Richmond was America's ninth most dangerous city, with 47 killings among its 106,000 residents. In 2013, it saw its lowest number of homicides in 33 years, and its homicide rate fell to 15. In exchange for shunning dangerous behavior, ONS fellows receive anywhere from $300 to $1,000 per month.

Note: For more on this amazing crime-reduction program, read this article. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'The Singing Doctor' Croons to Newborns in the Delivery Room
2014-07-22, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/US/singing-doctor-croons-newborns-delivery-room/story?i...

When newborn babies come into the world at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, the first thing they hear is a song. The soothing melodies come not from a CD, an iPod or even their own parents, but from the very doctor who delivered them. “I’ve delivered about 8,000 babies and I must have sung ... to six or [seven thousand] of them,” Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja told ABC News. Dr. Andrew-Jaja began the practice of singing to the tiny humans he just delivered while he was a young resident and learning from a physician who did the same. “He was about to retire. He asked me to continue the tradition,” he said. “And I’ve done it ever since.” Dr. Andrew-Jaja’s repertoire of songs includes everything from the expected “Happy Birthday” to the more unexpected like “What a Wonderful World." “Sometimes the pregnancy has been difficult, the delivery has been complex and yet most of the time out comes this beautiful baby and it’s a moment when you forget that fear,” he [said]. Dr. Andrew-Jaja’s talent put him in the spotlight last year when his employer, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, posted a video on his singing tradition to YouTube. “When I'm singing to those babies I think that I'm singing to a future important person,” Dr. Andrew-Jaja says in the video. “That's the credit I give to all of them. So, to me, it's a wonderful thing in my hand, the miracle of life," he said. “You forget about all the crisis going on everywhere, for a moment, when you see that miracle of life in front of you.”

Note: Watch the beautiful video of this amazing doctor. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Nonprofit pay-what-you-can cafes let diners pay it forward
2014-06-18, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/pay-what-you-can-cafes-let-di...

I first encountered the concept of pay-what-you-can cafes last summer in Boone, N.C., where I ate at F.A.R.M. (Feed All Regardless of Means) Cafe. You can volunteer to earn your meal, pay the suggested price ($10) or less, or you can overpay [towards] a future patron’s meal. As Healthy World Cafe opened in York in April, I signed up for a volunteer shift and planned my visit. F.A.R.M and Healthy World are part of a growing trend of community cafes. Denise Cerreta ... runs the One World Everybody Eats Foundation, helping others replicate her pay-what-you-can model. Most of the nonprofit, volunteer-run cafes are started by individuals or groups, but Panera Bread and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation also have opened cafes with Cerreta’s guidance. To date, nearly 60 have opened across the country, and another 20 are in the planning stages. Generally, 80 percent of customers pay the suggested price or more, and the remainder pay less or volunteer for meals. “I think the community cafe is truly a hand up, not a handout,” Cerreta said. “Everyone eats there, no one needs to know whether you volunteered, underpaid or overpaid. You can maintain your dignity and eat organic, healthy, local food.” The successful cafes not only address hunger and food insecurity but also become integral parts of their neighborhoods- whether it’s a place to learn skills or hear live music. Some enlist culinary school students as volunteers, some teach cooking to seniors, some offer free used books.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Pope Francis hosts Israeli, Palestinian leaders at ‘prayer summit’
2014-06-08, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-francis-hosts-israeli-palestinian-le...

Pope Francis brought together the presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority ... at the Vatican to join in prayer and promise to seek peace — though their governments are officially not talking. Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas concluded the two-hour ceremony by kissing each other on the cheek and then planting an olive tree, gestures intended to signal a commitment to trying to end one of the longest-running, most intractable conflicts in the world. “Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare,” Pope Francis said during the gathering, dubbed a prayer summit. “Instill in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.” The meeting was historic. The prayer summit was a remarkable show of the new pope’s intention to mix spiritual matters and real-world diplomacy. Francis was visiting the Holy Land just two weeks ago when he invited the two leaders to come to the Vatican. “No one is presumptuous enough to think peace will break out on Monday,” the Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, a church official in charge of Catholic sites in the Holy Land, [said]. “The intention of this initiative is to reopen a road that has been closed for some time; to re-create a desire, a possibility; to make people dream,” he said. During the service, Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayers were recited in English, Italian, Arabic and Hebrew. The words were intended to thank God for His creation, to seek forgiveness for the failure to act as brothers and sisters, and to ask for peace in the Holy Land.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system, study finds
2014-06-05, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10878625/Fasting-for-three-days-can-re...

Fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough. Although fasting diets have been criticised by nutritionists for being unhealthy, new research suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection. Scientists at the University of Southern California say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy. It could also help the elderly whose immune system becomes less effective as they age, making it harder for them to fight off even common diseases. The researchers say fasting "flips a regenerative switch" which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system. "It gives the 'OK' for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system," said Prof Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California. "And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system." Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


The Power of Ambition: Homeless Valedictorian to Attend FSU
2014-06-04, NBC News
http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/power-ambition-homeless-valedictorian-att...

Griffin Furlong is a Florida teenager who knows something about heartaches and joy. The 18-year-old is homeless, but he graduated at the top of his class from Florida Coast High School. Furlong managed to achieve a 4.65 grade point average ... making him the valedictorian. He’ll attend Florida State University in the fall. “Everyone thinks I try to make good grades because I’m smart. Not true,” he told his fellow graduates. “I perform the way that I do in the classroom because I have everything to lose.” Furlong’s mother died of leukemia when he was just 6 years old. Soon afterward, Furlong, his father, and older brother lost their home and ended up in homeless shelters. Furlong said he often went to bed hungry and there were times when he wanted to give up. He sought temporary shelter with his girlfriend’s parents then moved in with an aunt and uncle, who said Furlong had laser-like focus on his school work. “He had nothing else but to study," said his aunt, Nancy Nancarrow. “He didn’t have the things that most children have. He would go to his room when he was home and he studied. That is his entertainment. We’re proud of him.” Now, [Furlong] says he hopes his story inspires other kids who are also facing hardships. “Despite the obstacles I faced, I know that I can actually do something with education.” His only wish, he said, is that his mother could see him deliver his speech. “Don’t dwell on the past, use it as motivation for your future,” he told the graduates. “It’s amazing what you can do with your life when you have motivation, ambition and most importantly, a purpose.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


From Rwandan Garbage Dump To Harvard
2014-05-24, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tp-allen/rwanda-orphans_b_5357352.html

Life -- indeed, survival -- was always difficult for 8-year-old Justus Uwayesu. During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Justus' father was executed for being born into a family whose identity cards had the Tutsi box arbitrarily checked. His mother vanished shortly thereafter. By the time Justus was 8, he [was living] in the garbage dump for Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. One Sunday ... a taxi [rattled down the dusty road] transporting Clare Effiong, a visitor from the U.S. She was on a mission, "letting the Spirit lead" in a way that causes many to feel very uncomfortable and even suspicious. Through an interpreter Clare ... asked little Justus [what he wanted]. He said, "I want to go to school." Clare drove Justus to a friend's home in Gikondo and told him, "Educate this boy and I will send money to pay for school fees, school materials, uniform, shoes -- whatever." From his first day of school, Justus' most distinctive attribute has been (and remains) his ever-present conviction that it is a precious privilege to learn. Justus obsessively studied, [and received] guidance in applying to colleges and universities in the United States. On [college admissions] "decision day," at 11 PM Rwandan time (5 PM EST), Justus ... fumbled and struggled at first to get into the secure admissions site. Then the letter began to load, and Justus read the first word: "CONGRATULATIONS!" Justus screamed with joy and fell to the floor. When he composed himself, he borrowed my phone to call Clare in the U.S. "Mom, MOM!" he yelled. "I'm going to Harvard!"

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


After Finding $40,000 In Thrift-Store Couch, Roommates Return Money
2014-05-16, NPR
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/05/16/313118337/thrift-store-couc...

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].

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Vermont Ups the Ante on Genetically Modified Foods
2014-04-25, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/vermont-ups-ante-genetically-modified-...

Vermont has raised the stakes in the debate over genetically modified foods by becoming the first state to pass a bill requiring that they be labeled as such in the grocery aisle, making the move despite the opposition of the powerful U.S. food industry. The Vermont bill says genetically modified foods "potentially pose risks to health, safety, agriculture, and the environment" and includes $1.5 million for implementation and defense against lawsuits expected from the food and biotech industries. It's unclear how GMO labeling might affect consumers' wallets or food companies' bottom line if shoppers reject labeled foods. The labels will say "produced with genetic engineering" for packaged raw foods, or "partially produced with genetic engineering" or "may be produced with genetic engineering" for processed food that contains products of genetic engineering. Meat and dairy would be exempt. A national New York Times poll in January 2013 found that 93 percent of respondents said foods containing GMOs should be labeled. Twenty-nine other states have proposed bills recently to require GMO labeling, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than 60 countries require such labeling, according to the Vermont Right to Know campaign. Some farmers in Vermont, known for its organic food operations, see the bill's passage as a David-vs.-Goliath victory. "This vote is a reflection of years of work from a strong grass-roots base of Vermonters who take their food and food sovereignty seriously and do not take kindly to corporate bullies," Will Allen, manager of Cedar Circle Farm in Thetford, said.

Note: For more on the good reasons to require GMO labels on foods, see the excellent summary of the risks from GMOs available here.


Goodbye, Oil: US Navy Cracks New Renewable Energy Technology To Turn Seawater Into Fuel, Allowing Ships To Stay At Sea Longer
2014-04-08, International Business Times
http://www.ibtimes.com/goodbye-oil-us-navy-cracks-new-renewable-energy-techno...

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel. The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could one day relieve the military’s dependence on oil-based fuels and is being heralded as a “game changer” because it could allow military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea. The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it. The Navy’s 289 vessels all rely on oil-based fuel, with the exception of some aircraft carriers and 72 submarines that rely on nuclear propulsion. The breakthrough came after scientists developed a way to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas from seawater. The gasses are then turned into a fuel by a gas-to-liquids process with the help of catalytic converters. The next challenge for the Navy is to produce the fuel in industrial quantities. It will also partner with universities to maximize the amount of CO2 and carbon they can recapture. ”For the first time we've been able to develop a technology to get CO2 and hydrogen from seawater simultaneously. That's a big breakthrough," said Dr. Heather Willauer, a research chemist who has spent nearly a decade on the project, adding that the fuel "doesn't look or smell very different."

Note: Strangely, the major media networks appear to be largely silent on this important breakthrough, except for Forbes, which downplays the whole thing, as you can see at this link. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Seems like the whole world is 'Happy'
2014-03-20, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/20/showbiz/music/happy-pharrell-williams-song/inde...

There are happy songs -- and then there is "Happy." The bouncy tune by singer/composer/producer/rapper Pharrell Williams has occupied the No. 1 spot on the charts for more than a month. It's spurred countless covers -- including one by Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, reprising her guest star role in the 100th episode of "Glee." There is even a YouTube version of "Happy" that has gone completely to the dogs. It has managed to seemingly capture the rush of happiness in its lyrics and melody. Not a bad trick for a tune that slowly grew from a single on last summer's "Despicable Me 2" soundtrack to such popularity that Robert Morast, a writer for the Virginian-Pilot, recently entered into a debate of whether it should be considered for the official state song of Virginia. "Pharrell's hit track is a jolt of mood-lifting music," wrote Morast. "And while it's fine to be happy, the best art is crafted with a range of emotional perspectives." Even with its slow build, "Happy" caught ears from the beginning. Upon release it was quickly dubbed "an instant contender for 2013's Song of the Summer" by Rolling Stone. Since then, it's topped the charts in more than a dozen countries besides the United States, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Poland. Williams has partnered with the United Nations Foundation in celebration of Thursday's International Day of Happiness, encouraging fans to donate to the organization and submit content to his 24Hoursof Happiness.com site.

Note: To watch this awesome four-minute happy video which has had over 100 million views, click here. To see the website which has great videos of people in happy dance 24 hours a day based on this song, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Use of Public Transit in U.S. Reaches Highest Level Since 1956, Advocates Report
2014-03-10, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/us/use-of-public-transit-in-us-reaches-high...

More Americans used buses, trains and subways in 2013 than in any year since 1956 as service improved, local economies grew and travelers increasingly sought alternatives to the automobile for trips within metropolitan areas, the American Public Transportation Association said in a report. 10.65 billion passenger trips were taken on transit systems during the year, surpassing the post-1950s peak of 10.59 billion in 2008, when gas prices rose to $4 to $5 a gallon. The ridership in 2013, when gas prices were lower than in 2008, undermines the conventional wisdom that transit use rises when those prices exceed a certain threshold, and suggests that other forces are bolstering enthusiasm for public transportation, said Michael Melaniphy, the president of the association. "People are riding transit in record numbers,” Mr. Melaniphy said in an interview. “We’re seeing a fundamental shift in how people are moving about their communities.” From 1995 to 2013, transit ridership rose 37 percent, well ahead of a 20 percent growth in population and a 23 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled, according to the association’s data. Overall public transit ridership increased by 1.1 percent from 2012, with the biggest gains in rail service and in bus service for smaller cities. In New York, where use of all modes of transit in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority increased 3.6 percent last year. Todd Litman, an analyst at the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in Victoria, British Columbia, [said] “A lot of people would prefer to drive less and rely more on walking, cycling and public transit, provided that those are high-quality options.”

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Discipline With Dignity: Oakland Classrooms Try Healing Instead of Punishment
2014-02-19, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/where-dignity-is-part-of...

Tommy, an agitated 14-year-old high school student in Oakland, Calif., was in the hallway cursing out his teacher at the top of his lungs. A few minutes earlier, in the classroom, he’d called her a “b___” after she twice told him to lift his head from the desk. Eric Butler, the school coordinator for Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) heard the ruckus and rushed to the scene. They walked together to the restorative justice room. Slowly, the boy began to open up and share what was weighing on him. His mom, who had been successfully doing drug rehabilitation, had relapsed. She’d been out for three days. The 14-year-old was going home every night to a motherless household and two younger siblings. He had been holding it together as best he could, even getting his brother and sister breakfast and getting them off to school. He had his head down on the desk in class that day because he was exhausted from sleepless nights and worry. Eric ... facilitated a restorative justice circle with [Tommy's mom], Tommy, the teacher, and the principal. Punitive justice asks only what rule of law was broken, who did it, and how they should be punished. It responds to the original harm with more harm. Restorative justice asks who was harmed, what are the needs and obligations of all affected, and how does everyone affected figure out how to heal the harm. Tommy ... told his story. On the day of the incident, he had not slept, and he was hungry and scared. He felt the teacher was nagging him. He’d lost it. Tommy apologized.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Bikers wage war against child abuse
2014-02-02, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/biker-gang-wages-war-against-child-abuse/

For years, Karen and her 9-year-old daughter, whose identity CBS News is choosing not to share, were abused by Karen's husband. Fearing for their lives, Karen found help from an unlikely group of people: a 3,000-member organization committed to protecting children around the world. They call themselves BACA - Bikers Against Child Abuse. “One thing we try and do as an organization is to help that child feel empowered so they can enjoy their childhood and grow up as an adult knowing that there’s always going to be somebody there and not all adults are bad,” said Happy Dodson, President of the Connecticut chapter, which is currently helping eight families across the state. BACA helps by stepping into the void left by an overwhelmed court system - and by forming a cocoon of support around the abused child, pledging 24-7 protection. Each member goes through an extensive Federal background check and adopts child-friendly road names like Scooter, Shaggy and Pooh Bear. “If the child has problems sleeping or getting on the bus or is afraid to go to school, we’ll take you to school. When the bus drops you off, we’ll be there. We’ll take you home and if need be we’ll stay in that yard until you feel comfortable,” Dodson said. The group also shows up to court appearances to let the abuser know that the child is a part of the BACA family. BACA's motto is "no child deserves to live in fear." Because of them, this young girl no longer does. For some of the members, the cause is personal; they too were abused.

Note: For more on this most inspiring group, see this article and this great video.


For Foster Kids, 'One Simple Wish' Makes Big Impact
2013-12-30, NBC News
http://dailynightly.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/30/22113537-for-foster-kids-one...

She doesn't wear a fairy costume or carry a magic wand, but for many children who don't have a lot to begin with, she might just be their fairy godmother. Danielle Gletow is the founder and executive director of One Simple Wish, a Trenton, N.J., charity that fulfills wishes for foster children in 44 states. The wishes can be big, like horseback riding lessons, or small and simple like a backpack or shampoo. The children are asking for things like bicycles, skateboards, prom tickets, and gymnastic lessons, things that most would consider normal childhood requests and activities, yet they have no one to provide them. That’s where One Simple Wish fills the void, matching wishes from children, caseworkers and foster parents with donations from individuals and corporate donors. For 14-year-old Blessing Williams, who has been in the foster care system for more than a decade, the wish was dance lessons. On a recent Friday afternoon, her wish was fulfilled. With the beat of hip-hop music in the background and a grin on her face, Blessing glided across the floor as part of a class at the Watson-Johnson Dance Theatre. Her wish was donated by 15-year-old Cassidy Mack, who was also a foster child before finding a forever family. “As much as we’ve been growing, and our reach has been expanding, the core of our mission hasn’t changed, it’s about one child. I love that that’s resonated with people. They can come to our site, www.onesimplewish.org and they can make change for one individual and that’s what it's all about.”

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Meditation Has the Power to Influence Your Genes
2013-12-09, Psychology Today
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/meditation-has-th...

In a groundbreaking discovery, a collaborative team of researchers from Wisconsin, Spain, and France reported in December 2013 the first evidence of specific molecular changes at a genetic level following a period of mindfulness meditation. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice," says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. The study compared the effects of a single day of intensive mindfulness practice between a group of experienced meditators and a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After an intensive day of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a dramatic range of genetic and molecular differences. Meditation was found to alter levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation. "Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs," says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona in Spain, where the molecular analyses were conducted. In past studies, mindfulness-based training has been shown to have beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders. Meditation is endorsed by the American Heart Association as an effective way to lower [the] risk for heart disease. Another study from April 2011 found that meditation produces powerful pain-relieving effects in the brain.

Note: For an excellent and inspiring book on how your thinking and feeling can change your genes, check out Bruce Lipton's Biology of Belief, available here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Stories of life, death and faith: 'To Heaven and Back' - Anita Moorjani
2013-11-29, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/29/us/to-heaven-and-back

On February 2, 2006, Anita Moorjani was in a coma. With her body riddled with cancer, doctors told her husband that her organs were shutting down and she likely would not make it beyond the next 36 hours. "I was just so tired of fighting to try to stay alive," she said. So she said she let go. The next morning, she didn't wake up. Her husband rushed her to the hospital, where the family was told the bad news: Moorjani was in a coma and not expected to wake again. Moorjani can't put her finger on the exact minute that she says she left her body. She saw her husband standing next to her hospital bed. Moorjani could also hear conversations that took place between her husband and her doctors, far from her hospital room. She heard them, she said, discuss her pending death. "Your wife's heart might be beating, but she's not really in there," a doctor told her husband -- a conversation, she said, he would later confirm to her after she asked. Hovering between life and death, she said she was surrounded by people who loved her. Her [deceased] best friend, Soni, was there. So was her father, who had died years earlier from heart failure. There were others there, too. She knew they loved her and cared for her. It was a feeling unlike anything she says she had ever felt. "At first, I did not want to come back. Why would I want to come back into this sick body?" she said. About 30 hours after being hospitalized, Moorjani awoke. Within days, she said, her organs began to function again. Within weeks, doctors could find no evidence of cancer in her body, she said.

Note: For more on Anita's incredible journey through death, click here. For a treasure trove of inspiring news articles on near-death experiences, click here.


Inside Avaaz – can online activism really change the world?
2013-11-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/17/avaaz-online-activism-can-i...

Avaaz – which means "voice" in various languages – has become a global pressure group to be reckoned with. It's a new kind of activism that isn't issue-led, it's issues-led. It's human rights abuses in Burma, or it's the Syrian civil war, or it's threats against the Great Barrier Reef or it's homophobia in Costa Rica. It's whatever its supporters, guided by the Avaaz team, choose to click on most this month. If it launches a campaign, it throws its resources at it – and a chunk of its $12m budget a year, all donated from individuals – and there's a fair chance it will have an impact. Avaaz is both global and globalised and its approach is less bleeding-heart liberal than hard-headed pragmatist. Its growth is exponential: they've gone from nine employees in year one to 100 now. In September, I interviewed its softly spoken Canadian founder, Ricken Patel, and noted in the transcript that [Avaaz] now had 26 million [members]. By the time this piece appears in print in November, that number will be hovering around the 30 million mark. "Liking" a Facebook page isn't going to save the world. But five times as many people in Britain are members of Avaaz than they are of the Labour Party. And 30,000 people donate money to it every month. To save the world, click here.

Note: Read and inspiring article on the founder of Avaaz, Ricken Patel. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Hans Rosling: the man who makes statistics sing
2013-11-07, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10431350/Hans-Rosling-the-man-w...

The concept of a “celebrity statistician” might sound as though it must be - and should forever remain - an oxymoron. But watch Prof Hans Rosling ... and you may change your mind. After showcasing his unique approach at a conference organised by TED, [he] garnered a reputation as the “Jedi master of data visualisation” and “the man in whose hands data sings”. What Rosling does, in a nutshell, is animate graphs. One dot showing, for example, life expectancy in Britain, is quite unremarkable, but apply Rosling’s software, and, at the click of a mouse, that dot will move, showing ... how it has changed every year. Add other dots, representing other countries, from France to China, and suddenly you have a moving stream ... that puts each country’s life expectancy into perspective and shows how the figures have changed over the last 65 years. Combine all this with the professor’s hyperactive presentation style ... and a potentially dry subject suddenly has a [compelling] narrative. Not that Rosling would ever describe statistics as “dry”. “No!” he says. “Statistics take up four pages in most daily newspapers. People don’t find these boring at all, but they don’t think of them as ‘statistics’. If you support Man United or Arsenal, or if your stock falling means you can’t go on holiday, you are interested. It’s only boring if you get data you didn’t ask for, or if you don’t realise its link with the real world.”

Note: Rosling has some incredibly hopeful and inspiring data, including that the global population of humans is leveling off. Don't miss his incredibly inspiring TED talk titled "The Best Stats You've Ever Seen."


Learning is something we do together
2013-11-01, The Intelligent Optimist Magazine
http://theoptimist.com/learning-we-do-together

Guest teacher Toshiro Kanamori captivates the students at the Amstelveen College high school in the Netherlands. Though he is almost a head shorter than most of the students, he holds their attention as he speaks passionately with the help of a translator. But that's almost unnecessary; as someone says later, with his hand gestures, you could almost understand him without the translator. Kanamori speaks with his face, his hands, his whole body. Kanamori is no ordinary teacher. In his vision of education, school is not so much a preparation for life; he believes children should be participating in life. Life itself forms the foundation for learning. Thanks to the heartwarming documentary "Children Full of Life", Kanamori, 67, is known all over Japan and the world. The documentary follows Kanamori and an elementary school class for a year as he teaches his students how to talk about feelings, be compassionate and be happy. That last lesson, according to Kanamori, should be the reason kids go to school. Kanamori teaches elementary school children at the Hokuriku Gaikun University in the Japanese city of Kanazawa, and in the 38 years he's been -- as he puts it -- in, not in front of, the class, he's brought the outside world into the curriculum. For instance, for a sex education lesson, he invited a pregnant woman to class and let the kids ask any questions they might have. He also brought in a terminal cancer patient to talk about her feelings about dying and death. Lessons about death? According to Kanamori, death is not too heavy a subject for kids around ages 9 and 10.

Note: For a profoundly moving video of Mr. Kanamori working his magic with a group of Japanese children, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Prison Gardens Grow New Lives for Inmates
2013-10-23, ABC News blog
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/lifestyle/2013/10/prison-gardens-grow-new-lives-f...

From Enfield, Conn., to New York City and the San Francisco Bay, lush gardens filled with ripe fruits, vegetables and flowers are growing in unexpected places — prison yards. Prisons use them to rehabilitate inmates and to teach them basic landscaping skills that they can use to get jobs. For the last three years, all 18 state prisons in Connecticut have had garden programs. None cost taxpayers money. Last year, Connecticut prisons produced more than 35,000 pounds of produce – saving taxpayers $20,000 a year by putting produce back into the prison system. “We believe that everybody has a heart and everybody has a chance for transformation,” said Beth Waitkus, the director of the Insight Garden Program that started 10 years ago at San Quentin prison. “What happens with gardening is … they reconnect to themselves. They reconnect to their feelings. They reconnect to each other as a community, a small community in the prison, and they really reconnect to nature. And, I think that offers a huge opportunity for transformation when we reconnect to ourselves and to the natural world. While Waitkus spends her time in San Quentin teaching inmates how to plant flowers, take care of soil and prune plants, she also keeps the connection strong once they leave prison. Nationally, the recidivism rate is more than 60 percent, according to the 2011 Annual Recidivism Report. For garden prisoners at San Quentin, Waitkus said the return rate is less than 10 percent, and most other prison gardens report return rates in the single digits. In Connecticut, officials say not one of the garden graduates has returned.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Google searching for new ways to give back
2013-10-07, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Google-searching-for-new-ways-to-give-back...

Google's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, made giving back a company priority from the beginning. Their hope was that "someday this institution (under the rubric of 'Google.org') may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world's problems." Google has firmly established itself as a powerful and innovative player on the corporate philanthropy scene. Google's philanthropic entity was initially formed with a pledge of 3 million shares to make grants in several broad areas, including global poverty, disease and renewable energy. In 2009, Google announced a major strategic shift: to not only fund traditional nonprofits through cash grants, but also to concentrate on using Google's strengths in data-driven technologies and information aggregation to address the world's problems - to, in effect, engineer for social benefit. Google gave away $105 million in grants during 2012, plus $1 billion more in product donations, principally productivity apps and advertising grants for nonprofits. The company was the 12th-largest U.S. corporate cash donor in 2011 and 2012, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Between $45 million and $50 million of that 2012 total [was] directed toward disaster relief, university research and community organizations in Silicon Valley - with $23 million dedicated to Google's Global Impact Awards. Last year's Impact Awardees include Charity: Water, which Google granted $5 million to install remote sensors at 4,000 water points across Africa by 2015. The low-cost sensors will monitor and record actual water flow rate to ensure better maintenance of and access to clean water for more than 1 million people.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Malala Yousafzai: The Bravest Girl in the World
2013-10-05, Parade Magazine
http://www.parade.com/170557/parade/malala-yousafzai-the-bravest-girl-in-the-...

In this exclusive excerpt from her autobiography, I Am Malala, young activist Malala Yousafzai recounts the day she was shot by the Taliban. "Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, wasn’t the best of days to start with, as it was the middle of exams. We had been getting threats all year. Some were in the newspapers, and some were messages passed on by people. I was more concerned the Taliban would target my father, as he was always speaking out against them. His friend and fellow campaigner Zahid Khan had been shot in the face in August on his way to prayers. When our bus was called, we ran down the school steps. Inside the bus it was hot and sticky. Then we suddenly stopped. A young bearded man had stepped into the road. The man was wearing a peaked cap and had a handkerchief over his nose and mouth. Then he swung himself onto the tailboard and leaned in over us. “Who is Malala?” he demanded. No one said anything, but several of the girls looked at me. I was the only girl with my face uncovered. That’s when he lifted up a black pistol. My friends say he fired three shots. The first went through my left eye socket and out under my left shoulder. I slumped forward, blood coming from my left ear, so the other two bullets hit the girls next to me." Malala has undergone a recovery that is nothing short of miraculous. The bullet narrowly missed her brain [and she] suffered no major permanent neurological damage. The ordeal did, however, solidify her will: “It feels like this life is not my life. It’s a second life. People have prayed to God to spare me and I was spared for a reason—to use my life for helping people.”

Note: Malala was only 11 when she took on the Taliban, demanding that girls be given full access to school. Her campaign led to a blog for the BBC, a New York Times documentary, and a Pakistani peace prize. But all that was only a prelude to even more extraordinary events, the Taliban's assassination attempt and her miraculous recovery. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


A Philadelphia School's Big Bet on Nonviolence
2013-07-18, The Atlantic
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/a-philadelphia-schools-bi...

Last year when American Paradigm Schools took over Philadelphia's infamous, failing John Paul Jones Middle School, they did something a lot of people would find inconceivable. The school was known as "Jones Jail" for its reputation of violence and disorder, and because the building physically resembled a youth correctional facility. Situated in the Kensington section of the city, it drew students from the heart of a desperately poor hub of injection drug users and street level prostitution where gun violence rates are off the charts. But rather than beef up the already heavy security to ensure safety and restore order, American Paradigm stripped it away. During renovations, they removed the metal detectors and barred windows. The police predicted chaos. But instead, new numbers seem to show that in a single year, the number of serious incidents fell by 90%. The school says it wasn't just the humanizing physical makeover of the facility that helped. Memphis Street Academy also credits the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), a noncoercive, nonviolent conflict resolution regimen originally used in prison settings that was later adapted to violent schools. AVP, when tailored to school settings, emphasizes student empowerment, relationship building and anger management over institutional control and surveillance. There are no aggressive security guards in schools using the AVP model; instead they have engagement coaches, who provide support, encouragement, and a sense of safety.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


The world is a better place than you think
2013-06-06, The Intelligent Optimist (Formerly Ode Magazine)
http://www.theoptimist.com/stories/society/the-world-is-a-better-place-than-y...

Since the end of the Cold War, the number of armed conflicts in the world has fallen by 40 percent, according to Simon Fraser University’s Human Security Report. And those conflicts have resulted in strikingly low numbers of fatalities. While that statement may sound odd ... the numbers are nonetheless telling. Since 1988, the number of wars killing more than 1,000 people a year has gone down by 78 percent. What explains this spectacular reduction in violence? In The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Harvard professor Steven Pinker cites a number of reasons. Nation-forming curbed people’s inclination to steal their neighbors’ land and reduced the threat of enemy invasion, allowing geopolitical stability to take root. The emergence of democracy curbed tyrannical government excesses. International trade turned countries into business partners, and peace became economically attractive. A general process of civilization brought about more and more self-control. Not every indicator shows a steadily falling line, but enough measurements do register a continuous drop in brutality. It’s human to remember grisly periods like world wars and senseless outbreaks of savagery and forget how many people died violently in past centuries. It’s a fact, though, that we experience considerably less violence today than our forebears did. You’re more likely to drown in a swimming pool than to die a brutal death. That’s a luxury no one knew in generations past. We do, indeed, live in history’s most peaceful era.

Note: One of the most under-reported positive stories is that global violent crime has dropped dramatically in the last two decades. For FBI statistics showing violent crime in the U.S. dropped to 1/3 the rate of 1993, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Look for more cooperation as Millennials gain power
2013-05-20, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Millennials-may-break-political-g...

Baby Boomers - the protest-loving generation that didn't trust anyone over 30 - are approaching retirement by the millions, an evolution that many say could be the last best hope for a hopelessly gridlocked Washington. Replacing the Boomers are the Millennials, a get-it-done group born roughly between the early 1980s and 2000s, who make up the largest and most diverse generation in history. It's a generation that proudly rises above party loyalty and is driving the surge in the number of decline-to-state voters, who now make up 1 in 5 Californians, experts say. They are less divided, and they have a much greater "unity of belief" on social issues such as same-sex marriage, which 70 percent of them support, said author Morley Winograd, a former White House policy adviser under President Bill Clinton and a demographics expert. Their political mind-set ... is: "We want to change the world - what can we do together?" The legacy they are beginning to inherit, and fundamentally change, is a political culture that is rabidly partisan and all but frozen in animosity. The politics of an unpopular Congress suggest that lasting solutions will come not from the once-influential Boomers, but instead from their kids. "American politics will never be the same - because it is the end of the Boomer-dominated era," said Winograd. Winograd, co-author of a new book with Michael Hais called Millennial Majority: How a New Coalition Is Remaking American Politics, said, "The new Millennial-driven majority coalition in the United States will change almost everything."

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Teen's invention could charge your phone in 20 seconds
2013-05-18, NBC News
http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/innovation/teens-invention-could-charge-your-phon...

Waiting hours for a cellphone to charge may become a thing of the past, thanks to an 18-year-old high-school student's invention. She won a $50,000 prize ... at an international science fair for creating an energy storage device that can be fully juiced in 20 to 30 seconds. The fast-charging device is a [type of] so-called supercapacitor, a gizmo that can pack a lot of energy into a tiny space, charges quickly and holds its charge for a long time. What's more, it can last for 10,000 charge-recharge cycles, compared with 1,000 cycles for conventional rechargeable batteries, according to [the inventor] Eesha Khare of Saratoga, Calif. Supercapacitors also allowed her to focus on her interest in nanochemistry — "really working at the nanoscale to make significant advances in many different fields." To date, she has used [her] supercapacitor to power a light-emitting diode, or LED. The invention's future is even brighter. She sees it fitting inside cellphones and the other portable electronic devices that are proliferating in today's world, freeing people and their gadgets for a longer time from reliance on electrical outlets. "It is also flexible, so it can be used in rollup displays and clothing and fabric," Khare added. "It has a lot of different applications and advantages over batteries in that sense." Khare's invention won her the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, conducted ... in Phoenix, Ariz.

Note: Now let's see if it actually makes it to market or is blocked by the companies that profit from selling many chargers. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


The Soul of Teamwork
2013-05-13, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/view.php?sid=430

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson—by percentage (.738) the winningest coach in NBA history—is renowned for his ability to turn megastars into team players. And his secret is spiritual. “The most effective way to forge a winning team,” he writes in Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, “is to call on the players' need to connect with something larger than themselves.” Before Jackson arrived, both the Bulls and the Lakers were teams that, despite the presence of breathtaking talent, had failed to achieve the harmony needed to win championships. Yet under his guidance, schooled in his characteristically unselfish, team-oriented style, they went on to record-breaking success. So what does this remarkable head coach have to say about the heightened group consciousness that can awaken when teams come together beyond the divisive forces of the ego? [Q.] In Sacred Hoops you write about “the energy that's unleashed when players put their egos aside and work toward a common goal.” You also refer to “a powerful group intelligence [that] emerges that is greater than the coach's ideas or those of any individual on the team.” What is that powerful energy and intelligence that emerges in a collective when the ego is set aside? PHIL JACKSON: When a player surrenders his self-interest for the greater good, his fullest gifts as an athlete are manifested. It's funny—by playing within his natural abilities, he activates a higher potential beyond his abilities, a higher potential for the team. It changes things for everybody.

Note: DailyGood is an inspiring website that also offers a daily inspiration email. To learn more and subscribe, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Socially Responsible Investing: What You Need To Know
2013-04-24, Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/feeonlyplanner/2013/04/24/socially-responsible-in...

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is sometimes referred to as “sustainable”, “socially conscious”, “mission,” “green” or “ethical” investing. Socially responsible investors are looking to promote concepts and ideals that they feel strongly about. They accomplish this in 3 ways: 1-Investment in companies and governments that the investor believes best hold to values of importance to the investor. These include the environment, consumer protection, religious beliefs, employees’ rights as well as human rights, among others. 2-Shareholder advocacy; socially responsible investors proactively influencing corporate decisions that could otherwise have a large detrimental impact on society ... through various means including dialogue, filing resolutions for shareholders’ vote, educating the public and attracting media attention to the issue. 3-Community investing has become the fastest growing segment within SRI, with some $61.4 billion in managed assets. With community investing, investors’ capital is directed to those communities, in the U.S. and abroad, which are under served by more traditional financial lending institutions and gives recipients of low-interest loans access to not just investment capital and income but provides valuable community services that include healthcare, housing, education and child care. Over the last two years, SRI investing has grown by more than 22% to $3.74 trillion in total managed assets, suggesting that investors are investing with their heart, as well as their head.

Note: Interested in investing to reduce inequality? Check out the inspiring microcredit movement.


Evian's dancing babies are back!
2013-04-24, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2013/04/24/evian-dancing-babies-are...

Remember the Roller Babies craze in 2009? That Evian video has been viewed more than 65 million times. Now, Evian Natural Spring Water has just launched a follow-up video, Baby & Me, and it's already got nearly 30 million views on YouTube. The new video, which features adults walking on a busy street when they suddenly see their "inner babies" in a storefront window reflection, launched simultaneously in 14 countries on Friday. The adult characters interact with their baby selves, mostly through dance. "You can't not smile watching this," said GMA anchor Lara Spencer this morning during a piece on the video. "This type of commercial is about happiness and energy," the ad's director, Remi Babinet, told GMA. Produced by creative agency BETC, and directed by We are from LA, the Baby & Me video is remixed by electronic music producer, Yuksek, notes Evian in a release about the ad. And the music? The '90s dance hit Here comes the Hotstepper serves as the soundtrack.

Note: Click on the link above to watch the video. For a video diving deeper into this by ABC, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Waste picker wins Goldman prize
2013-04-15, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Waste-picker-wins-Goldman-prize-44...

Fourteen years ago, Blanca Cecilia Lopez began combing the streets of [Bogota, Colombia] in search of sellable articles to feed her family. She typically earned only a few dollars a day scavenging bottles, cans, paper and any other reusable items that she could find. Two years ago, however, her life changed dramatically thanks to a grassroots organization that found her a position at a city recycling center with a monthly salary and health benefits. The 50-year-old mother of seven owes her new life to Nohra Padilla, who began organizing waste pickers like Lopez in 1990 into the Bogota Recyclers' Association. For her work, Padilla is one of six recipients of the [2013] Goldman Environmental Prize. Over the years, the association, which has 2,000 members, has battled city officials and private sanitation companies vying to monopolize trash collection from Bogota's 8 million inhabitants. In the 1980s and 1990s, Padilla and other organizers were threatened by right-wing paramilitaries who regarded organizing the poor as subversive. Several waste pickers were murdered in what the militias called "social cleansing." A talent for organizing and motivating others emerged, turning Padilla into a leader of an estimated 17,000 waste pickers who are a common sight on Bogota streets pushing hand carts or riding on horse carts piled high with scavenged trash. "If she (Padilla) weren't around, the recyclers would have to compete with the big trash companies," said Federico Parra, regional coordinator for a global nonprofit that helps improve conditions for the working poor.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


10 things you might not know about love
2013-01-24, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/24/health/love-psychology-book/index.html

In writing the book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become, here are 10 lessons I have learned: 1. It can be hard to talk about love in scientific terms because people have strong pre-existing ideas about it. Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another. 2. Love is not exclusive. In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone -- whether your soul mate or a stranger. 3. Love doesn't belong to one person. Love is a biological wave of good feeling and mutual care that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once. 4. Making eye contact is a key gateway for love. Meeting eyes is a key gatekeeper to neural synchrony. 5. Love fortifies the connection between your brain and your heart, making you healthier. When we ... learn ways to create more micro-moments of love in daily life, we lastingly improve the function of the vagus nerve, a key conduit that connects your brain to your heart. 6. Your immune cells reflect your past experiences of love. People who build more micro-moments of love in daily life also build healthier immune cells. 7. Small emotional moments can have disproportionately large biological effects. Little by little, love begets love by improving your health. 8. Don't take a loving marriage for granted. Love is something we should re-cultivate every single day. 9. Love and compassion can be one and the same. Compassion is the form love takes when suffering occurs. 10. Simply upgrading your view of love changes your capacity for it. When people take just a minute or so each day to think about whether they felt connected and attuned to others, they initiate a cascade of benefits.

Note: Barbara Fredrickson is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Urban Homesteading Video: Growing What You Eat
2013-01-21, Urban Gardening Digest
http://urbangardeningdigest.com/5272/urban-homesteading-video-growing-what-yo...

Urban homesteading differs from urban gardening in that it is a way of living that endeavors to be as self reliant as is possible in our modern age. The video [available at the above link] shows one family’s commitment to urban homesteading and how they have freed themselves from the urban rat race, grow their own food, and much, much more. In Pasadena, California, is a 4,000 sq. ft. urban homestead, owned by the Dervaes family. This homestead feeds a family of four, producing about 6,000 lbs. of food annually, on just 1/10th acre [1/25th hectare]. 63 year old Jules Dervaes, started this backyard urban farm 10 years ago. It is a deliberate throw back to the story days of self reliant rural America. Jules and his children grow almost all of the food they need and everyone pitches in. At the time of this video, they were also raising eight chickens, four ducks, and two goats. The ducks and chickens lay thousands of eggs a year and keep the bugs in check. Over 400 varieties of vegetables, fruits, and edible flowers are grown in this compact space. Enough [is grown] to feed themselves with plenty left over for local chefs looking for organic, pesticide-free produce. Front porch sales net the family about $20,000 a year, which they use to purchase things that they can not grow on their urban homestead, such as wheat, rice, and oats. In addition to growing their own food, Dervaes family has gone off the grid. Their ‘gizmos’ are all hand powered. What little electricity that they do use is generated by solar panels.

Note: Watch the full, nine-minute video at the link above to get a closer look at this urban homesteading lifestyle. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


A Hospital Network With a Vision
2013-01-16, New York Times blog
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/in-india-leading-a-hospital-f...

In 1976, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy — known as Dr. V — retired. He decided to devote his remaining years to eliminating needless blindness among India’s poor. Twelve million people are blind in India, the vast majority of them from cataracts, which tend to strike people in India before 60. Blindness robs a poor person of his livelihood and with it, his sense of self-worth; it is often a fatal disease. Dr. V started by establishing an 11-bed hospital with six beds reserved for patients who could not pay and five for those who would pay modest rates. He persuaded his siblings to join him in mortgaging their houses, pooling their savings and pawning their jewels to build it. Today, the Aravind Eye Care System is a network of hospitals, clinics, community outreach efforts, factories, and research and training institutes in south India that has treated more than 32 million patients and has performed 4 million surgeries. Aravind’s story is well-told in depth in a new book, Infinite Vision: How Aravind Became the World's Greatest Business Case for Compassion. Aravind is not just a health success, it is a financial success. Aravind’s core services are sustainable: patient care and the construction of new hospitals are funded by fees from paying patients. And at Aravind, patients pay only if they want to. The majority of Aravind’s patients pay only a symbolic amount, or nothing at all. Dr V was guided by the teachings of the radical Indian nationalist[, philosopher] and mystic Sri Aurobindo ... who located man’s search for his divine nature not in turning away from the world, but by engaging with it.

Note: For lots more on this most inspiring business model, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


The Story Of Frank 'Bopsy' Salazar, Make-A-Wish's First Wish Kid, Will Stay With You Forever
2013-01-11, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/bopsy-fireman-make-a-wish_n_4181841....

In 1978, 5-year-old Frank "Bopsy" Salazar was diagnosed with leukemia. A woman named Linda Pauling ... had lost her 7-year-old son, Chris, to leukemia that spring. But before Chris passed, the Arizona Department of Public Safety had fulfilled the little boy's dream of becoming a police officer. DPS officers Jim Eaves and Frank Shankwitz had met Chris with a patrol car and motorcycle and made him the only honorary Arizona Highway Patrol Officer in the department's history. The incredible effort inspired Pauling and Shankwitz to start the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "[Pauling] told me that instead of letting the kids just feel sorry for themselves, they wanted to grant wishes, to do something every kid would benefit from, to fulfill their dream while they're still a part of this world," Trujillo said. Shankwitz took over from there, and he went to visit Bopsy to find out more about the boy's dreams. After learning that he'd be granted a wish, the 7-year-old mulled it over. "I want to ride in a hot air balloon," he told Shankwitz. Then he thought about it some more. "No, I want to go to Disneyland." He paused again. "No, I want to be a fireman." But Shankwitz didn't make him pick. All of Bopsy's wishes would be granted. He got his balloon ride and his trip to Disneyland. Fireman Bob - whose real name is Bob Walp - did more than was asked of him to help the sick boy. "We didn't want to just give him a tour," Walp [recalled]. "We decided to give him a badge and a jacket. We let him use the hose. We took him in the truck."

Note: For more on this inspiring story, see this webpage.


Global Campaign ONE BILLION RISING To Stop Violence Against Women and Girls
2013-01-07, 11alive.com (Atlanta's NBC affiliate)
http://www.11alive.com/news/article/271399/25/-ATLANTA-JOINS-GLOBAL-CAMPAIGN-...

On February 14, 2013 ... activists around the world [will join] ONE BILLION RISING, the largest day of action in the history of V-Day, the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Valentine's Day 2013 will be an official ONE BILLION RISING DAY OF ACTION for the City of Atlanta, declaring Atlanta a Rape and Violence Free Zone. ONE BILLION RISING began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls. V-Day Atlanta will bring together a coalition of organizations, businesses, schools, entertainers, and elected representatives to work to end violence and empower women. At 12:00 noon, thousands of Atlantans will dance down Peachtree Street in a flash mob choreographed by the legendary Debbie Allen to the One Billion Rising anthem "Break the Chain." V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $90 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, reopened shelters, and funded over 14,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq.

Note: For a powerful three-minute video on women breaking free, click here. To join the "One Billion Rising" movement, see their inspiring website here. Another article on this in the UK's Guardian is available here.


414 Homicides in ’12 Is a Record Low for New York City
2012-12-29, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/nyregion/414-homicides-is-a-record-low-for-...

Murders in New York have dropped to their lowest level in over 40 years, city officials announced on [December 28]. There were 414 recorded homicides so far in 2012, compared with 515 for the same period in 2011, city officials said. That is a striking decline from murder totals in the low-2,000s that were common in the early 1990s, and is also below the record low: 471, set in 2009. Shootings are also down for the year so far. The number of murders is the lowest since 1963, when improvements in the recording of data were made. In the last two decades, trumpeting declines in crime trends has become an annual end-of-the-year event, even when the numbers inched up. There were also several anomalies in the 2012 homicide tally, including a serial killer who murdered three shopkeepers in Brooklyn. But overall killings have dropped to such a low level that more New Yorkers now commit suicide than are the victims of homicides. About 475 New Yorkers kill themselves each year, according to the city’s health department. Nearly 70 percent of the victims had prior criminal arrests, the police said. Domestic-related homicides dropped to 68, from 94 in 2011. The likelihood of being killed by a stranger was slight. The vast majority of the homicides ... grew out of “disputes” between a victim and killer who knew each other.

Note: Though most American believe murder and violent crime rates are increasing, these rates in fact have decreased dramatically in the last 20 years, by over 2/3 in many cases. For more great information on this trend, click here. For other inspiring reasons for hope and optimism in the new year, click here.


Iceland president: Letting banks fail helped recovery
2012-12-13, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/13/business/iceland-recovery

Four years after the country let its debt-ridden banks fail, and as the country's growth looks set to far outpace the eurozone, [Iceland's president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson] said the decision not to save the banks was "the most difficult I ever had to make," but maintained it was the right one. "Allowing the banks to fail is one of the fundamental reasons Iceland is now in a strong recovery with respect to other European countries," he said. Now, according to Grimsson, "Iceland is better placed to benefit by maintaining our present position, rather than to let the EU speak on our behalf." The 69-year-old president pointed to Norway and Greenland -- two other Arctic economies and non-European Union members -- as role models. However, Grimsson said he was not sure whether Iceland's strategy with its banks could have been replicated by other countries with similar problems, such as Ireland. "Being part of the eurozone, they couldn't devalue their currency. But they could have adopted our policy with respect to the banks," he said. The Icelandic krona fell sharply as a result of the financial collapse, helping the country recover by increasing demand for exports. "There are still scars," Grimsson said, "but on the whole, the will of the Icelandic people has enabled us to recover and move confidently towards the future."

Note: Watch a great video interview of Iceland's president discussing this matter. Iceland has gone through tremendous transformation that has greatly supported both the people and the economy of this nation. Why is this getting so little press coverage?


Child Abuse Drops for Fifth Straight Year
2012-12-12, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/child-abuse-drops-straight-year-179453...

Reports of child abuse and neglect have dropped nationwide for the fifth consecutive year, and abuse-related child fatalities also are at a five-year low. The latest annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services, released [on December 12], estimates that there were 681,000 cases of child abuse or neglect across the nation in the 2011 fiscal year. That's down from 695,000 in 2010 and from 723,000 in 2007. The number of abuse-related fatalities was estimated at 1,570 — down from 1,580 in 2010 and from 1,720 in 2007. About four fifths of those killed were younger than 4, and parents were deemed responsible for nearly four fifths of the deaths. Regarding types of maltreatment, 78.5 percent of the victims suffered neglect, nearly 18 percent were physically abused and 9.1 percent were sexually abused. The report tallied 61,472 children who were sexually abused in 2011 — down dramatically from the peak of about 150,000 in 1992. The report, formally known as the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, is based on input from child protection agencies in every state. Sociologist David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center, says he finds the annual reports frustrating because of the lack of analysis of the trends. "But at the same time, it does appear remarkable that overall child maltreatment has declined given that unemployment has been so high, the housing and mortgage crisis has continued, and state and local budgets for family and child services have been cut," he wrote.

Note: For more details on this inspiring news, see a government article at this link. Just 50 years ago, child sexual abuse was virtually a taboo topic. There was nowhere to report such things. Now that there is a protective net and awareness has skyrocketed, far fewer children are being abused. This has powerful, positive implications as more children grow up healthy and knowing that they are protected. For many other great reasons for hope and optimism in these uncertain times, click here.


Malala Fund launched to help girls go to school
2012-12-10, KGO-TV Channel 7 (San Francisco ABC affiliate)
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/south_bay&id=8915510

A plan to motivate girls around the world to enroll in school was launched ... by the United Nations and Pakistan. The fund is named for Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani activist who was shot by the Taliban. One of Malala's quotes is, "Education is our basic right." The Pakistani Government donated $10 million to the Malala Fund for girls' right to education. That will help the UN with its goal, to ensure that all girls have access to schools by the end of 2015. "The idea that a girl, simply for going to school or wanting to go to school, was shot by the Taliban is just so unspeakable," said Gordon Brown, the UN special envoy for global education. Her cause to educate all girls got the attention of Washington-based Vital Voices, which promotes extraordinary women and girls around the world. An estimated 32 million girls around the world don't have access to an education. Malala has certainly inspired many young people. "I have a right to sing, I have the right to talk, I have the right to go to market, I have the right to speak," said Malala. The song "Richochet" was written by 12-year-old Lafayette resident Samantha Martin in honor of Malala. Two days ago Malala's father emailed Samantha saying, "I and Malala watched the song and I could not control my tears."

Note: Samantha Martin emailed WantToKnow.info with her truly amazing song, which you can listen to at this link. To sign the petition supporting Malala, click here. For more on the Malala fund, click here. For an inspiring 30-minute New York Times documentary on Malala, click here.


Watch "Peter the Elephant" try to play a piano duet
2012-11-28, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/watch-peter-the-elephant-try-to-play-a-piano-duet/

[An] utterly adorable, caught-on-tape performance was posted by YouTube user PaulBartonPiano who writes about it: "I was actually playing [the piano] for Soi, a 5 year elephant, when [another elephant named] Peter came by with his mahout on his regular evening trip to the river for a bath. Peter heard the music and [deviated] from the mud road (behind the tree) to the piano. I suddenly felt something strange sucking the back of my head and had an unexpected duet partner. In another video he plays piano and my back as a drum. The mahout you can hear occasionally isn't giving commands in any way to Peter, rather voicing a tiny bit [of] concern for the piano's survival. Okay, so admittedly Peter might not be the best partner to have on a piano duet. But he definitely makes up for his lack of training by giving it his all and being just so darn cute!

Note: To watch this amazing, two-minute video of a piano duet with an elephant, click here. To see Peter try his trunk at another instrument, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


A worldwide mission of kids helping kids
2012-11-25, CBS News 60 Minutes
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57553738/a-worldwide-mission-of-kids-he...

Craig Kielburger ... was in seventh grade when the death of a boy changed his life. It was a change so profound that, through Kielburger, it has now saved and transformed lives around the globe. He read about the murder of a boy his age in Pakistan. Iqbal Masih was a slave in a carpet factory. Masih escaped to lead a campaign against servitude. But within two years he was silenced. Kielburger ... made Iqbal Masih's fight his own. He talked to classmates, to Congress, to Parliament. Kielburger wanted to free children from slavery. So he went to Asia recruiting activists and government authorities to bust child sweatshops and sex traffickers. There were early successes, [but] kids he freed were being pulled back into servitude, years later, by centuries old culture and traditions shaped by poverty and illiteracy. Today, Free The Children is in 45 countries. A $30 million a year charity building schools, providing clean water, and connecting local craftsmen to world markets where their traditions bring in good money. There are two million volunteers nearly all of them under the age of 18. Free the Children today is the world's largest network of children helping children. "What that means in practice is we inspire kids. Then we give them all the tools they need to learn about these issues: speaking tours, summer leadership camps, curriculum every week. Our bet that we're making is if you give kids the inspiration and the tools to change the world, it'll change their own lives also in the process," [Kielburger said].

Note: This is a powerful example of how the younger generation is making a big difference in our world. Kielburger's charity is now in 45 countries and takes in $30 million per year. It's the largest organization of children helping children in the world. For the highly inspiring, 12-minute video of this segment, click here.


Whiz kid from Sierra Leone built own battery, radio transmitter
2012-11-20, NBC News
http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/whiz-kid-sierra-leone-built-own-battery-rad...

Kelvin Doe’s neighborhood in Sierra Leone has power lines, but they seldom deliver electricity. So, the 16-year-old whiz kid built his own battery out of acid, soda, and metal parts scavenged from trash bins that he now uses to light up area homes and help him work on his own inventions. Among other gadgets to his credit are a homemade radio transmitter, plus a generator to power it, that he uses to run his own community radio station under the handle DJ Focus. “People normally call me DJ Focus in my community because I believe if you focus you can do invention perfectly,” he said in a video. Doe’s engineering prowess was noticed by David Monina Sengeh, a graduate student MIT Media Lab, during a summer innovation camp called Innovate Salone that he runs in Sierra Leone. Sengeh arranged for Doe to visit the top-flight engineering school this fall. “It’s an opportunity for him to create the future that he wants to live in,” Sengeh said in the video. Check it out below to learn more about Doe’s inspirational story and his inventions.

Note: Don't miss the awesome video of Kelvin at this link. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Chuck Feeney: The Billionaire Who Is Trying To Go Broke
2012-09-18, Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2012/09/18/chuck-feeney-the-billion...

Chuck Feeney is the James Bond of philanthropy. Over the last 30 years he’s crisscrossed the globe conducting a clandestine operation to give away a $7.5 billion fortune derived from hawking cognac, perfume and cigarettes in his empire of duty-free shops. His foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, has funneled $6.2 billion into education, science, health care, aging and civil rights in the U.S., Australia, Vietnam, Bermuda, South Africa and Ireland. Few living people have given away more, and no one at his wealth level has ever given their fortune away so completely during their lifetime. The remaining $1.3 billion will be spent by 2016, and the foundation will be shuttered in 2020. While the business world’s titans obsess over piling up as many riches as possible, Feeney is working double time to die broke. Feeney embarked on this mission in 1984, in the middle of a decade marked by wealth creation–and conspicuous consumption–when he slyly transferred his entire 38.75% ownership stake in Duty Free Shoppers to what became the Atlantic Philanthropies. “I concluded that if you hung on to a piece of the action for yourself you’d always be worrying about that piece,” says Feeney, who estimates his current net worth at $2 million (with an “m”). “People used to ask me how I got my jollies, and I guess I’m happy when what I’m doing is helping people and unhappy when what I’m doing isn’t helping people.” He’s not waiting to grant gifts after he’s gone nor to set up a legacy fund that annually tosses pennies at a $10 problem. He hunts for causes where he can have dramatic impact and goes all-in.

Note: For lots more on this great philanthropist, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Pot compound seen as tool against cancer
2012-09-18, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Pot-compound-seen-as-tool-against-cancer...

Marijuana, already shown to reduce pain and nausea in cancer patients, may be promising as a cancer-fighting agent against some of the most aggressive forms of the disease. A growing body of early research shows a compound found in marijuana - one that does not produce the plant's psychotropic high - seems to have the ability to "turn off" the activity of a gene responsible for metastasis in breast and other types of cancers. Two scientists at San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute first released data five years ago that showed how this compound - called cannabidiol - reduced the aggressiveness of human breast cancer cells in the lab. "The preclinical trial data is very strong, and there's no toxicity. There's really a lot of research to move ahead with and to get people excited," said Sean McAllister, who along with scientist Pierre Desprez, has been studying the active molecules in marijuana - called cannabinoids - as potent inhibitors of metastatic disease for the past decade. Martin Lee, director of Project CBD, [a] group that works to raise awareness of the scientific promise of the compound, described the cannabidiol research as potent both as a medicine and a myth buster. "It debunks the idea that medicinal marijuana is really about people wanting to get stoned," said Lee, author of Smoke Signals, a book published last month about the medical and social history of marijuana. "Why do they want it when it doesn't even get them high?"

Note: For an educational, 45-minute documentary on this topic titled "What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?," click here. For an informative 15-minute documentary on the health benefits of juicing raw cannabis, click here. For deeply inspiring reports from reliable sources, click here.


Lessons from the 'World's Ugliest Woman': 'Stop Staring and Start Learning'
2012-09-13, Yahoo
http://shine.yahoo.com/beauty/lessons-worlds-ugliest-woman-stop-staring-start...

When she was in high school, Lizzie Velasquez was dubbed "The World's Ugliest Woman" in an 8-second-long YouTube video. Born with a medical condition so rare that just two other people in the world are thought to have it, Velasquez has no adipose tissue and cannot create muscle, store energy, or gain weight. She has zero percent body fat and weighs just 60 pounds. In the comments on YouTube, viewers called her "it" and "monster" and encouraged her to kill herself. Instead, Velasquez set four goals: To become a motivational speaker, to publish a book, to graduate college, and to build a family and a career for herself. Now 23 years old, she's been a motivational speaker for seven years and has given more than 200 workshops on embracing uniqueness, dealing with bullies, and overcoming obstacles. She's a senior majoring in Communications at Texas State University in San Marcos, where she lives with her best friend. Her first book, Lizzie Beautiful, came out in 2010 and her second, Be Beautiful, Be You, was published earlier this month. She's even reclaimed YouTube, video blogging about everything from bullying to hair-styling tips to staying positive. Of course, the horrible comments left on that old YouTube video stung. "I'm human, and of course these things are going to hurt," she said. "Their judgments of me isn't who I am, and I'm not going to let these things define me. I didn't sink down to their level," she said in a follow-up video on YouTube last year. "Instead, I got my revenge through my accomplishments and determination. In the battle between the 'World's Ugliest Woman' video vs. me, I think I won."

Note: Though looking at this woman can be disturbing for some, consider that you can see beneath the surface to the beauty within. Watch Lizzie share some of her wisdom in a three-minute video at this link.


Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way
2012-06-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/24/alternative-capitalism-mo...

Capitalism's recurring tendencies toward extreme and deepening inequalities of income, wealth, and political and cultural power require resignation and acceptance. [It] entails and reproduces a highly undemocratic organization of production inside enterprises. Believers insist that no alternatives to ... capitalist organizations of production exist or could work nearly so well. Of course, alternatives exist. The city of Arrasate-Mondragon, in the Basque region of Spain ... is the headquarters of the Mondragon Corporation (MC). MC is composed of many co-operative enterprises grouped into four areas: industry, finance, retail and knowledge. In each enterprise, the co-op members (averaging 80-85% of all workers per enterprise) collectively own and direct the enterprise. The largest corporation in the Basque region, MC is also one of Spain's top ten biggest corporations (in terms of sales or employment). And MC has expanded internationally, now operating over 77 businesses outside Spain. MC has proven itself able to grow and prosper as an alternative to – and competitor of – capitalist organizations of enterprise. MC worker-members collectively choose, hire and fire the directors, whereas in capitalist enterprises the reverse occurs. One of the co-operatively and democratically adopted rules governing the MC limits top-paid worker/members to earning 6.5 times the lowest-paid workers. In US corporations, CEOs can expect to be paid 400 times an average worker's salary – a rate that has increased 20-fold since 1965.


Ernestine Shepherd: The 75-year-old bodybuilding grandma
2012-06-10, BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18346128

The world's oldest female bodybuilder wakes up every day at 02:30 to fit in a 10 mile (16km) run before hitting the gym. But 75-year-old Ernestine Shepherd insists that "age is nothing but a number". "Miss Ernie", as she is known in the world of competitive bodybuilding, began training at the tender age of 71. She says her true calling in life, however, is helping others to follow a more healthy lifestyle. The BBC caught up with her at an exercise class at her church in the US city of Baltimore, Maryland, to find out why she started bodybuilding.

Note: Click on the link above to watch an amazing three-minute video with this inspiring grandmother.


Looking For 10% Yields? Go Online For Peer To Peer Lending
2012-06-06, Forbes Magazine
http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisbarth/2012/06/06/looking-for-10-yields-go-on...

Today a tidal wave of aging boomers want income, but traditional sources are lacking. But there’s [a] source of high yield that relatively few consider. Peer-to-peer lending, or making personal loans via the Internet using websites like LendingClub.com and Prosper.com. After six years of experience and some bumps, including a financial crisis and ensuing recession, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending has finally earned its place on an income investor’s menu. The basic premise of these bank disintermediaries is that they harness the networking power of the Web to match people who have excess cash with people in need of it or those who simply want to refinance credit card debt. The key to its success has been how the sites have managed the inherent riskiness of unsecured personal loans. Believe it or not, it is now possible to earn yields of 6% or more, making relatively safe loans to complete strangers. San Francisco’s Lending Club is the largest P2P lender, followed by its crosstown rival Prosper. Lending Club and Prosper have loaned a total of more than $1 billion since inception, in 112,000 loans. Lending Club currently issues about $45 million in loans a month versus Prosper’s $13 million per month. Of course defaults happen. Lending Club’s top-rated three-year loans expect a default rate of around 1.4%, and the riskiest loans, offering rates as high as 25%, have a 9.8% default rate.

Note: A 1.4 default rate is much lower than that of the average bank. For those who want to borrow or loan money free of the banks with excellent rates, check out www.lendingclub.com and www.prosper.com.


Geriatric gymnast impresses crowd at German competition
2012-03-30, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/gymnastics/9175746/Geriatric-gymnas...

Johanna Quaas performed an impressive parallel bar and floor demonstration after finals concluded at Germany's Cottbus Challenger Cup. Displaying balance, strength and flexibility that would be the envy of someone a quarter her age, Quaas's floor routine included a handstand forward roll, cartwheel, backward roll and headstand while on the bars she performed a full planche, holding her body taught and parallel to the ground. A multiple time senior champion of artistic gymnastics in Germany, Quaas, from Halle in Saxony only took up gymnastics when she was 30, putting paid to the belief that the sport is the preserve of the young.

Note: Don't miss the amazing video of this highly inspiring woman at the link above.


‘Israel Loves Iran’ Campaign Gains Force
2012-03-23, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/israel-loves-iran-campaign-gain...

As diplomats and journalists dissect every word spoken by top Israeli, Iranian and American officials for signs of a potential Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear program, an online campaign to prevent just that has gained steam in Israel. The “Israel Loves Iran” campaign [was launched last week by] Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry and his wife, Michal Tamir. “For there to be a war between us, we must first be afraid of one another, we must hate,” Edry says. “I’m not afraid of you. I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you. No Iranian ever did me … harm.” The site and its accompanying Facebook page are filled with photos of Israelis from all walks of life and the “Iranians, We Love You” slogan, with the subheader: “We will never bomb you.” On Friday evening, the page had almost 28,000 “likes,” and the campaign has raised more than $16,000 to print posters and “keep the movement grow[ing].” Organizers say responses from Iranians around the world have poured in. ”Unfortunately, the stupid politicians in both countries are trying to separate these two rich cultures!” wrote one responder. One of the more popular posts ricocheting around Facebook is of a man and woman kissing, with him holding up his Israeli passport as she flaunts her Iranian passport. ”Persian girls are sexy and adorable,” the boyfriend wrote. “Our cultures and backgrounds have never got in the way. We actually share the same ideals.” According to a recent poll, [only] 19 percent of Israelis support a unilateral strike on Iran. Participant Talia Gorodess [commented], “the more people join this campaign, the more, I hope, my government will think twice before doing anything foolish.”

Note: To see the inspiring website of this campaign, click here. For the facebook page, click here. For a highly inspiring two-minute video of the campaign, click here. For the beautiful response from Iranians, click here. This is how we transform our world! To understand how the politicians and military leaders manage to manipulate us into war after war, read what a highly decorated general had to say at this link.


Project Unbreakable: from victim to victor
2012-03-13, Sydney Morning Herald (One of Australia's leading newspapers)
http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/project-unbreakable-from-victim-to-victo...

Grace Brown was sick of hearing about sexual assault. Having spoken with so many survivors over the years, she grew increasingly frustrated by her inability to help. Then, one night last October, another friend confessed that she too had been abused and it turned out to be the final straw. Brown went to bed determined to act and in the morning Project Unbreakable was born. The project uses photography to help survivors of sexual assault take back the power of the words used against them by their attacker/s and aid in the healing process. Participants write these phrases on a piece of cardboard and Brown, a 19-year-old freshman at The School of Visual Arts in New York City, takes their picture and uploads it on the project's website. Just as powerful are the images she creates. Amassing a tremendous amount of followers from around the world in just five short months, women and men as far as Australia, Europe and the Middle East have submitted their own photos to the site. What's especially striking is the number of people willing to show their faces, essentially outing themselves as survivors of sexual assault. "In the beginning most people didn't show their faces. It wasn't until maybe a month in. People are getting braver and it's been really amazing to watch it grow." Taking part in the project doesn't resolve the problem but it enables the healing to begin. For some, knowing they're not alone or confiding in someone can help kick-start the process and exposing the words used against you can release the hold that they have.

Note: To see powerful photos from Project Unbreakable, click here and here. For the moving website of Project Unbreakable, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Dire Poverty Falls Despite Global Slump, Report Finds
2012-03-07, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/07/world/extreme-poverty-down-despite-recessio...

A World Bank report shows a broad-based reduction in extreme poverty - and indicates that the global recession, contrary to economists' expectations, did not increase poverty in the developing world. The report shows that for the first time the proportion of people living in extreme poverty - on less than $1.25 a day - fell in every developing region between 2005 and 2008. And the biggest recession since the Great Depression seems not to have thrown that trend off course, preliminary data from 2010 indicate. The progress is so dramatic that the world has met the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half five years before its 2015 deadline. That is contrary to the World Bank's own expectations. In a year-end 2008 report, the Washington-based development institution warned: "Unemployment is on the rise in industrial countries and poverty is set to increase across low- and middle income countries, bringing with it a substantial deterioration in conditions for the world's most vulnerable." But that did not happen. Surveys for 2010 show that the proportion of people in the developing world living in extreme poverty fell. That is because of strong growth in countries like Brazil, India and especially China, growth that helped buoy economies in Africa and South America.


Icelandic Anger Brings Debt Forgiveness in Best Recovery Story
2012-02-28, Bloomberg/Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-28/icelandic-anger-brings-debt-forgi...

Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger. Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association. “You could safely say that Iceland holds the world record in household debt relief,” said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets economist at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “Iceland followed the textbook example of what is required in a crisis. Any economist would agree with that.” Most polls now show Icelanders don’t want to join the European Union, where the debt crisis is in its third year. The island’s households were helped by an agreement between the government and the banks, which are still partly controlled by the state, to forgive debt exceeding 110 percent of home values. On top of that, a Supreme Court ruling in June 2010 found loans indexed to foreign currencies were illegal, meaning households no longer need to cover krona losses.

Note: The amazing story of the Icelandic people demanding bank reform is one of the most underreported stories in recent years. Why isn't this all over the news? To see what top journalists say about news censorship, click here. For blatant manipulations of the big banks reported in the major media, click here.


The Boy Who Played With Fusion
2012-02-14, Popular Science
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-02/boy-who-played-fusion?page=all

Taylor Wilson always dreamed of creating a star. Now he [has] become one. For the past three years, Taylor has dominated the international science fair, walking away with nine awards ... and more than $100,000 in prizes. At 14, [he was] the youngest individual on Earth to achieve nuclear fusion. [He attends] Davidson Academy ... a subsidized public school for the nation’s smartest and most motivated students. When he began at Davidson, he found the two advocates he needed ... to build a fusion reactor. Atomic physicist Ronald Phaneuf ... introduced him to technician Bill Brinsmead. With Brinsmead and Phaneuf’s help, Taylor stretched himself, applying knowledge from more than 20 technical fields. Shortly after his 14th birthday, Taylor and Brinsmead loaded deuterium fuel into the machine [Taylor had created], brought up the power, and confirmed the presence of neutrons. With that, Taylor became the 32nd individual on the planet to achieve a nuclear-fusion reaction. When I meet Taylor Wilson, he is 16 and busy. Taylor’s reactor ... dominates the far corner of Phaneuf’s lab. Peering through the small window into the reaction chamber, I can see the golf-ball-size grid of tungsten fingers that will cradle the plasma. Taylor nudges the power up to 50,000 volts, bringing the temperature of the plasma inside the core to an incomprehensible 580 million degrees. “There it is,” Taylor says, his eyes locked on the machine. “The birth of a star.”

Note: The full article about this amazing genius will boggle your mind. Could Taylor be one of the many indigo children talked about in the New York Times article available at this link?


2012: The Year of the Cooperative
2012-02-01, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/2012-the-year-of-the-cooperative

The United Nations has named 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, and indeed, co-ops seem poised to become a dominant business model around the world. Today, nearly one billion people worldwide are cooperative member-owners. In Ethiopia, cooperation helps women and men rise above poverty. In Germany, half of renewable energy is owned by citizens. In America, 93 million credit union member-owners control $920 billion in assets. And in Basque Country, a 50-year-old worker co-op has grown to become a multinational, cooperative corporation. Founded in 1956 ... Mondragón is the world’s largest cooperative, and Spain’s seventh largest business. Mondragón has operations in 19 countries and employs 83,000 worker-owners. Yet for every international job the company creates, it employs two people in Spain. The UN ... in 2012 will dedicate its efforts to raising awareness of co-ops, helping them grow and influencing governments to support them legislatively. Thirty percent of Americans belong to cooperatively-owned credit unions, the largest of which serves 3.4 million Department of Defense employees and has $45 billion in assets. “Cooperatives ... promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people. [They] are becoming a major factor of economic and social development and contribute to the eradication of poverty.” - UN Resolution 64/136, 2010. The cooperative model is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing business model by 2025. UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon [says] “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.”

Note: How sad that we've heard hardly a peep out of the major media about this inspiring trend towards cooperatives. For an abundance of other inspiring major media articles, click here.


Calif. HS student devises possible cancer cure
2012-01-13, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57358994/calif-hs-student-devises-possi...

Born to Chinese immigrants, 17-year-old Angela Zhang of Cupertino, California is a typical American teenager. She's really into shoes and is just learning how to drive. But there is one thing that separates her from every other student at Monta Vista High School, something she first shared with her chemistry teacher, Kavita Gupta. It's a research paper Angela wrote in her spare time -- and it is advanced, to say the least. "Cure for cancer -- a high school student," said Gupta. "It's just so mind-boggling. I just cannot even begin to comprehend how she even thought about it or did this." When she was a freshman, she started reading doctorate level papers on bio-engineering. By sophomore year she'd talked her way into the lab at Stanford, and by junior year was doing her own research. Angela's idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles -- nanoparticles that would then attach to cancer cells and show up on an MRI, so doctors could see exactly where the tumors are. Then she thought [of aiming] an infrared light at the tumors to melt the polymer and release the medicine, thus killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells completely unharmed. It'll take years to know if it works in humans -- but in mice -- the tumors almost completely disappeared. Angela recently entered her project in the national Siemens science contest. It was no contest. She got a check for $100,000.

Note: If this technique has already melted tumors in mice, why is CBS saying it will take years to know if it works in humans? Why wouldn't millions be poured in to fast track research on this exciting technology?


Two Degrees energy bars support famine relief
2012-01-13, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/13/BUPV1MN09D.DTL

For every Two Degrees energy bar purchased, the company provides a peanut-paste packet to a starving child in Malawi through its partnership with Valid Nutrition. The idea of feeding starving children through business came from a pairing of two entrepreneurs at opposite ends of their career. Will Hauser, a 2008 graduate of Harvard University, did a yearlong stint at Goldman Sachs before settling on his true passion - entrepreneurship. His business partner, Lauren Walters, is a seasoned entrepreneur. But both are fairly new to tackling some of the world's most serious problems like famine and hunger. A decade ago, Walters became involved with Boston nonprofit group Partners in Health, and six years ago he had his first encounter with malnourished children. During a trip with the organization in Rwanda, he was struck by the severity of the situation and the lack of ready-to-use therapeutic foods being made locally. The therapeutic foods are packets of a nutrition paste fortified with vitamins and minerals designed to reverse malnutrition. Four years later, Walters met Steve Collins, a doctor who had worked in famine relief for two decades, at the Oxford Skoll Forum. There, Walters' business acumen combined with Collins' humanitarian ambitions. Collins and his business partner, Paul Murphy, had started Valid Nutrition, which produces the packets of nutrition paste in Africa, relying on local farmers, labor and suppliers.

Note: For many other highly inspiring articles reported in the major media, click here.


‘Wild Old Women’ Close San Francisco Bank Of America Branch
2012-01-05, KCBS (CBS News San Francisco Affiliate)
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/01/05/wild-old-women-close-san-francisc...

It was a slow-moving Occupy Wall Street protest, but it was an effective one. A dozen senior citizens calling themselves “the wild old women” succeeded in closing a Bank of America branch in Bernal Heights Thursday. The women, aged 69 to 82, who live at the senior home up Mission street from the Bernal Heights Bank of America branch, decided to hold their own protest by doing what they called a “run on the bank.” Tita Caldwell, 80, who led the charge of women with walkers and wheelchairs, said that they’re demanding the bank lower fees, pay higher taxes, and stop foreclosing on, and evicting, homeowners. ”We’re upset about what the banks are doing, particularly in our neighborhood and neighboring areas, in evicting people and foreclosing on their homes,” said Caldwell. “We’re upset because the banks are raising their rates because it really affects seniors who are on a fixed income.” As they arrived, Bank of America closed and locked its doors, to the surprise and delight of the elderly protestors, who said that they had no intention of storming the bank. The women waved signs, but didn’t march or chant, with one woman on supplemental oxygen adding that the group was too old for that.


A Murmuration of Starlings
2011-11-03, The Atlantic
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/11/video-a-murmuration-of-...

This is your moment of zen today. Two adventurers set out in a canoe and happened upon a [flock of] starlings (collectively known as a murmuration) doing their amazing collective dance in the sky. Watch the video. Just take it in. The starlings' coordinated movements do not seem possible, but then, there they are, doing it. Scientists have been similarly fascinated by starling movement. Those synchronized dips and waves seem to hold secrets about perception and group dynamics. Last year, Italian theoretical physicist Giorgio Parisi took on the challenge of explaining the [phenomenon]. What he found ... is that the math equations that best describe starling movement are borrowed "from the literature of 'criticality,' of crystal formation and avalanches -- systems poised on the brink, capable of near-instantaneous transformation." They call it "scale-free correlation," and it means that no matter how big the flock, "If any one bird turned and changed speed, so would all the others." It's a beautiful phenomenon to behold. And neither biologists nor anyone else can yet explain how starlings seem to process information and act on it so quickly. It's precisely the lack of lag between the birds' movements that make the flocks so astonishing.

Note: Don't miss the hauntingly beautiful video at the link above. For more, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


A Grass-Roots Newscast Gives a Voice to Struggles
2011-10-24, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/business/media/a-grass-roots-newscast-gives...

Democracy Now!,” the 15-year-old public radio and television program ... distinguishes itself by documenting social movements, struggles for justice and the effects of American foreign policy, along with the rest of the day’s developments. Operated as a nonprofit organization and distributed on a patchwork of stations, channels and Web sites, “Democracy Now!” is proudly independent, in that way appealing to hundreds of thousands of people who are skeptical of the news organizations that are owned by major media companies. Though it has long had a loyal audience, “Democracy Now!” has gained more attention recently for methodical coverage of two news events — the execution of the Georgia inmate Troy Davis and the occupation of Wall Street and other symbolic sites across the country. [Host Amy] Goodman broadcast live from Georgia for six hours on Sept. 21, the evening of the execution, and “Democracy Now!” reporters were fanned out in Manhattan from the first day of the protests against corporate greed. The media, Ms. Goodman said in an interview last week, can be “the greatest force for peace on earth” for “it is how we come to understand each other.” But she asserted that the views of a majority of Americans had been “silenced by the corporate media.” “Which is why we have to take it back,” she said.

Note: Up until now, there has been a virtual ban on mentioning the important work of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now. Could this be a signal of some real change?


Doctor's street medicine helps cure homelessness
2011-10-21, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/doctors-street-medicine-helps-cure-homelessness/

Dr. Jim Withers has been caring exclusively for [Pittsburgh, PA's] homeless since 1992. Night after night, he and his team make their rounds at homeless camps. They treat everything, head to toe -- from mental illness to frostbitten feet. What little money Withers makes comes mostly from grants and teaching at a medical school. But he doesn't think about money. In fact, he doesn't think at all like a typical doctor. "The essence of healthcare is going to where people are. Either physically or even more importantly spiritually, emotionally," he said. "When they're shown that they matter," Withers said, ... "then hope grows. And amazing things happen. That's why we've been able to house well over 700 people. You know, if I could I'd write a prescription for a house for all the street people because it is immensely important for health." Jim Ellis, 49, was on the streets for eight years until he met Withers, who first treated his back pain and then helped cure his homelessness. Through a non-profit Withers started called Operation Safety Net, he and his staff have been remarkably successful at finding apartments for people like Jim. Over the years, Operation Safety Net has been able to help so many that today homelessness in Pittsburgh is literally half the problem it used to be - half as many people on the streets. About a dozen cites in America are now trying to copy the program, in firm belief that this doctor definitely knows best.

Note: For a great video on this man and his inspiring work, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


US sees big drop in violence despite economic woes
2011-09-17, MSNBC/Associated Press
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44559363/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts

The number of violent crimes fell by a surprising 12 percent in the United States last year, a far bigger drop than the nation has been averaging since 2001, the Justice Department said. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported there were 3.8 million violent crimes last year, down from 4.3 million in 2009. Experts aren't sure why. The expectation had been that crime would increase in a weak economy with high unemployment like that seen in 2010. The big drop dwarfs the 3 percent yearly decline in violent crimes the nation averaged from 2001 through 2009. More than 80 percent of the decline in violent crime was attributed to a plunge in simple assaults, by 15 percent. Those assaults accounted for nearly two-thirds of all violent crimes in 2010. The combined total of property crimes and violent crimes was down 6.6 percent last year, from 20 million to 18.7 million. From 1993 through 2010, the rate of violent crime has declined by a whopping 70 percent: from 49.9 violent crimes per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to only 14.9 per 1,000 in 2010.

Note: A 70 percent drop in violent crime in the last 20 years - that's amazing! Why isn't this inspiring news making top headlines? For excellent FBI graphs and more showing this dramatic decrease in crime, click here.


The women of India's Barefoot College bring light to remote villages
2011-06-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/jun/24/india-barefoot-colle...

Santosh Devi is [a] 19-year-old, semi-literate woman from the backwaters of Rajasthan [who] has broken through India's rigid caste system to become the country's first Dalit solar engineer. While differences of caste have begun to blur in the cities, in rural India Dalits – also known as "untouchables" – are still impoverished and widely discriminated against. Santosh trained to be a solar engineer at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, 100km from Jaipur. The college was set up in 1972 by Sanjit "Bunker" Roy to teach rural people skills with which they could transform their villages, regardless of gender, caste, ethnicity, age or schooling. The college claims to have trained 15,000 women in skills including solar engineering, healthcare and water testing. Roy, 65, says his approach – low cost, decentralised and community driven – works by "capitalising on the resources already present in the villages". The college, spread over eight acres, runs entirely on solar energy, maintained by the Barefoot solar engineers. Since the solar course was launched in 2005, more than 300 Barefoot engineers have brought power to more than 13,000 homes across India. A further 6,000 households, in more than 120 villages in 24 countries from Afghanistan to Uganda, have been powered on the same model. Only villages that are inaccessible, remote and non-electrified are considered for solar power. A drop in the ocean, perhaps – 44% of rural households in India have no electricity – but these women are making an important contribution to the nation's power needs.

Note: For a very inspiring TED talk filled with great stories by the founder of this college, click here.


Wim Hof, Dutch 'Iceman,' Controls Body Through Meditation
2011-05-22, Huffington Post/Associated Press
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/22/wim-hof-dutch-iceman-cont_n_865203.html

The Iceman's students look wary as they watch him dump bag after bag of ice into the tub of water where they will soon be taking a dip. Under the direction of "Iceman" Wim Hof, the group of athletes is going to stay in the water for minutes practising his meditation techniques. Hof, 52, earned his nickname from feats such as remaining in a tank of ice in Hong Kong for almost 2 hours [and] swimming half the length of a football field under a sheet of ice in the Arctic. Hof tells his students meditation in the cold strengthens mind and body. For most people, hypothermia begins shortly after exposure to freezing temperatures without adequate clothing, and it can quickly lead to death. Hof says he can endure cold so well because he has learned to activate parts of his mind beyond the reach of most people's conscious control, and crank up what he calls his "inner thermostat." "I never had a teacher, and I never had lessons, other than hard Nature itself," he says in an interview at his apartment in Amsterdam. "If you do it wrong, it hurts and you take some knocks, and if you do it right, then you really learn." Hof may be able to exercise some influence over other body functions considered involuntary, [and] tells his students at the Rotterdam workshop that viewing mental and physical training as separate may hinder their performance. Hof describes the three main elements in his method as controlled breathing, paying close mental attention to signals coming from the body, and crucially, keeping an open mind.

Note: Watch an incredible video of this most inspiring man, who says all of us are capable of these feats if we have the courage and an open mind. For more, see this article.


Shocking photo created a hero, but not to his family
2011-05-16, CNN News
http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-16/us/Zwerg.freedom.rides_1_greyhound-bus-bus...

The mob was already waiting for James Zwerg by the time the Greyhound bus eased into the station in Montgomery, Alabama. Looking out the window, Zwerg could see men gripping baseball bats, chains and clubs. They had sealed off the streets leading to the bus station and chased away news photographers. They didn't want anyone to witness what they were about to do. Zwerg accepted his worst fear: He was going to die today. Only the night before, Zwerg had prayed for the strength to not strike back in anger. He was among the 18 white and black college students from Nashville who had decided to take the bus trip through the segregated South in 1961. They called themselves Freedom Riders. Their goal was to desegregate public transportation. Zwerg had not planned to go, but the night before, some students had asked him to join them. To summon his courage, Zwerg stayed up late, reading Psalm 27, the scripture that the students had picked to read during a group prayer before their trip. "The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I fear?" the Psalm began. But there was another passage at the end that touched Zwerg in a place the other students didn't know about: "Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me." Zwerg's parents had forsaken him for joining the civil rights movement.

Note: For another amazingly inspiring story of a man in the civil rights movement who faced death by hatred with compassion, click here. And for a powerfully inspiring New York Times article on the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders, click here. We have clearly come a long way in building more harmony between races.


Marc Gold travels Asia paying it forward through little acts of kindness
2011-04-04, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2011/0404/Marc-Gold-travel...

Marc Gold spends most of his time on the road. One month he may be in India or Afghanistan; the next he's in Cambodia or Vietnam, both of which he's visited numerous times. But he doesn't travel to see the sights. The retired community-college professor from San Francisco pursues his own brand of tourism: philanthropic travel. "I go where the poor people are," Mr. Gold says. Everywhere he goes, Gold performs acts of kindness, both random and preplanned. He rarely spends more than a few hundred dollars. "For people who live on a dollar or less a day, $50 can make a big difference," says Gold, who has been dubbed "the shoestring philanthropist." [Traveling to India in 1989] led to an epiphany. "I'd thought you had to be rich to do such things," he recalls. "I realized I had the power to help change people's lives." Back home, he asked a hundred friends for small donations and was soon back in India with $2,200. He then set up a nonprofit charity and called it 100 Friends. Two decades later, 100 Friends has some 4,000 members worldwide, and last year Gold raised $200,000. He continues fundraising via his portable office: a laptop, a digital camera, and a cellphone. "This is 80 percent of what I own," Gold says during a stopover in Bangkok, pointing at two duffel bags stuffed with his clothes, dog-eared paperbacks, and his large collection of wacky rubber masks. The latter he uses for clowning around with children from Tibet to Thailand. "I don't need much, and I'm free."

Note: For a great collection of highly inspiring news articles, click here. For a treasure trove of inspiring resources calling us all to our greatness, click here.


The myth of the panicking disaster victim
2011-03-18, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-the...

Before the Second World War, the Ministry of War confidently predicted what would happen when London was bombed from the air by Nazi planes. There would be, they warned, "a mass outbreak of hysterical neurosis among the civilian population". The same predictions are made about every disaster – that once the lid of a tightly policed civilization is knocked off for a second, humans will become beasts. But the opposite is the case. It sounds grotesque to say we should see reasons for hope as we watch in real time while the earth is shaken six inches on its axis, tsunamis roar, and nuclear power stations teeter on meltdown. But it is true. From this disaster, we can learn something fundamental about our species. The evidence gathered over centuries of disasters, natural and man-made, is overwhelming. The vast majority of people, when a disaster hits, behave in the aftermath as altruists. They organise spontaneously to save their fellow human beings, to share what they have, and to show kindness. They reveal themselves to be better people than they ever expected. When the social scientist Enrico Quarantelli tried to write a thesis on how people descend into chaos and panic after disasters, he concluded: "My God! I can't find any instances of it." On the contrary, he wrote, in disasters "the social order does not break down... Co-operative rather than selfish behaviour predominates".

Note: For a beautiful example of how people come together to help and support each other in the face of a major crisis, read the inspiring "Letter from Sendai" which has gone viral on the Internet at this link.


Equal Rights Takes to the Barricades
2011-02-01, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/world/middleeast/02iht-letter02.html

CAIRO — People here are not afraid anymore — and it just may be that a woman helped break that barrier of fear. Asmaa Mahfouz was celebrating her 26th birthday on Tuesday among tens of thousands of Egyptians as they took to the streets, parting with old fears in a bid to end President Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of authoritarian, single-party rule. “As long as you say there is no hope, then there will be no hope, but if you go down and take a stance, then there will be hope.” That was what Ms. Mahfouz had to say in a video she posted online more than two weeks ago. She spoke straight to the camera and held a sign saying she would go out and protest to try to bring down Mr. Mubarak’s regime. It was a woman who dared put a face to the message, unfazed by the possibility of arrest for her defiance. “Do not be afraid,” she said. To her surprise, dozens of other people picked up on the spirit of her message and started to post their own pictures, holding similar signs to their chests that declared their intent to take to the streets. Ms. Mahfouz is one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement, a group of young, Internet-savvy activists who have been credited with a leading role in organizing the mass protests. She uses Facebook and Twitter as convenient methods for organizing and disseminating messages but finds that talking to people face to face is the best way to motivate them. Although it is still overwhelmingly men demonstrating, there is a new quality to the way Egyptians walk the streets now. “Everyone used to say there is no hope, that no one will turn up on the street, that the people are passive,” Ms. Mahfouz said. “But the barrier of fear was broken!”

Note: Watch this video and learn how without this one woman, Mubarak might still be in power. One person can make a huge difference. For powerful and inspiring information on the military/industrial complex and what we can do to make a difference, click here.


Children who lend a helping hand show they can make a difference and change the world
2010-12-27, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/making-a-difference/2010/1227/Children-who-len...

Parents want their kids and teens to care about others. The good news is that children "are sort of hard-wired" to want to help others, says Michael Ungar, author of "The We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Kids." While adults do wonderful things to help others, even more amazing is the number of children and teens who are "making a difference". Danielle Gram spent her childhood in Maryland in the years following the 9/11 attacks. "I really didn't understand why people from different cultures wanted to kill each other," says Ms. Gram, now 21 years old and a senior at Harvard University. In 2006, together with Jill McManigal ... Gram, then 16, founded Kids for Peace, a nonprofit, child-led group that inspires kids to work together toward a more peaceful world. Today Kids for Peace has more than 75 chapters. In August, its Great Kindness Challenge, where children try to see how many acts of kindness they can perform in a single day, drew thousands of participants in 50 countries. In November, she was named a winner of the World of Children award. "The passion to create a less violent world has really followed me throughout my life," Gram says. But a family tragedy last year brought it closer to home. Her only brother was murdered while on vacation. "It's certainly been a struggle. But every single one of my immediate family members has a deeper conviction that nonviolence is the way to respond." After graduation next spring, Gram hopes to work on peace issues in Bangladesh or at a refugee camp in Africa. Either way, she'll carry on with Kids for Peace, too.

Note: For a great collection of other inspiring news articles, click here.


Ballard man recalls pulling girl from fiery car and a vision days later
2010-10-27, Seattle Times
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013277039_rescue28m.html

It would take an unusual man to decide, in a split second after witnessing a car crash, to crawl into the Subaru that had erupted into flames 8 feet high to try to save a little girl and her dad. Early Thursday evening in Ballard, that is what Kenny Johnson did. He remembers talking to himself as he went into the Subaru: "Oh, my God, this car is gonna blow up and I'm going to be in it. Well, if does blow up, I guess I'm going straight to heaven because I'm trying to save that little girl." He did save the 3-year-old, Anna Kotowicz, who suffered a broken arm and some bruising. Her dad, Andy Kotowicz, 37, who had just picked up his daughter at day care, died at Harborview Medical Center three days later. Amid the crackling and popping of the car on fire, Johnson says he heard the cries of the 3-year-old, "a beautiful princess with blonde hair and blue eyes. I go to the passenger side. I don't remember this, but people afterward told me that when I couldn't open the door, I ripped it off the hinges. I jump into the car. For a few seconds, it's like there is no sound, no smell, everything is in slow motion. I can't explain it any other way." Days passed, and Johnson went back to his routine. That is, until Tuesday morning around 6, he says. "Then there is this man standing right by the bed. He says he needs help with a few things. He says he wants me to give a message to his wife and to his daughter. He also tells me to talk to the people at Sub Pop [his workplace], he wants to let them know not to be mad at the driver that caused the accident. That's his message." Johnson says that later that day, he went to the Sub Pop website, and there it was, a memorial photo of the man who had stood by his bed: Kotowicz.


A town crier in the global village
2010-09-02, The Economist magazine
http://www.economist.com/node/16943875?story_id=16943875

Nearly four years ago, a web-based political movement set itself the modest task of “closing the gap between the world we have and world most people everywhere want”. Calling their group Avaaz, which means “voice” in several languages, ... the movement, using 14 languages and engaged in a mind-boggling list of causes, has had some spectacular successes. Within the next few months, membership will top 6m. The number of individual actions taken (from bombarding a politician with a well-aimed message, or funding a poster campaign, to helping provide satellite phones to Burmese monks) is estimated at over 23m. Among the recent developments Avaaz claims to have influenced are a new anti-corruption law in Brazil; a move by Britain to create a marine-conservation zone in the Indian Ocean; and the spiking of a proposal to allow more hunting of whales. Avaaz’s campaign against the death sentence for adultery imposed on an Iranian woman asks members to phone Iranian embassies (and provides numbers); members are also being urged to put pressure on the leaders of Brazil and Turkey to intercede with Iran. Avaaz is collecting funds for a campaign in the Brazilian and Turkish press, too. Avaaz’s other demands range from the simple -— close Guantánamo -— to the very broad: fight climate change, avoid a clash of civilisations. Despite the risk of blurred signals, the variety of causes is also a strength.

Note: Consider signing up at Avaaz.org to join in the powerful advocacy work they are doing.


The Giving Pledge: Billionaires Promise to Donate at Least Half Their Fortunes to Charity
2010-08-04, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/WN/bill-gates-warren-buffett-organize-billionaire-givin...

At the urging of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, forty of the world's richest families have promised to give at least half of their fortunes to philanthropy. By taking the "Giving Pledge," the forty families or individuals, most of whom are billionaires, are promising a collective sum of at least $125 billion to charitable causes, based on Forbes' current estimates of their net worth and other data sources. According to the pledge, the giving can occur either during donors' lifetimes or after their passing. Each has committed at least 50 percent of their net worth, but many have committed to larger percentages, Buffett said. The men and women taking the pledge are free to direct their money to causes of their choice, and the organization is not pooling any money or dictating areas of need. In fact, the pledge is non-binding, though the organizers say the billionaires are making a "moral commitment," publicly signing their names to letters posted on a website, GivingPledge.org. Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates reached out to some 80 members of the Forbes billionaires list, asking them to sign on. Buffett wrote that by spending any more than one percent of his fortune on his own family, "neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99 percent can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others."

Note: For one of the great organizations behind this cause, click here.


Norway Builds the World's Most Humane Prison
2010-05-10, Time magazine
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1986002,00.html

Ten years and 1.5 billion Norwegian kroner ($252 million) in the making, [Halden Fengsel, Norway's newest prison,] is spread over 75 acres (30 hectares) of gently sloping forest in southeastern Norway. The facility boasts amenities like a sound studio, jogging trails and a freestanding two-bedroom house where inmates can host their families during overnight visits. The scent of orange sorbet emanates from the "kitchen laboratory" where inmates take cooking courses. "In the Norwegian prison system, there's a focus on human rights and respect," says Are Hoidal, the prison's governor. "We don't see any of this as unusual." Halden ... embodies the guiding principles of the country's penal system: that repressive prisons do not work and that treating prisoners humanely boosts their chances of reintegrating into society. "When they arrive, many of them are in bad shape," Hoidal says, noting that Halden houses drug dealers, murderers and rapists, among others. "We want to build them up, give them confidence through education and work and have them leave as better people." Within two years of their release, 20% of Norway's prisoners end up back in jail. In the U.K. and the U.S., the figure hovers between 50% and 60%.


DNA referees
2010-05-03, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/health/la-he-epigenetics-20100503,0,5900529.story

Scientists are just beginning to understand the effect lifestyle choices and other environmental factors have on altering gene behavior, a rapidly emerging field called epigenetics. Your life story depends upon a combination of the DNA you're stuck with plus your environment, including all the little choices and events that happen over that lifetime. But in recent years, researchers have discovered that, while DNA lays out the options, many of those life experiences — the foods you eat, the stresses you endure, the toxins you're exposed to — physically affect the DNA and tell it more precisely what to do. The cause: a kind of secondary code carried along with the DNA. Called the "epigenome," this code is a set of chemical marks, attached to genes, that act like DNA referees. They turn off some genes and let others do their thing. And although the epigenome is pretty stable, it can change — meaning lifestyle choices such as diet and drug use could have lasting effects on how the body works. "The thing I love about epigenetics is that you have the potential to alter your destiny," says Randy Jirtle, who studies epigenetics at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Jirtle compares the system to a computer: The DNA is the hardware — set and unchanging — and the epigenome is the software that tells it when, where and how to work.

Note: For a fascinating article by DNA researcher Bruce Lipton delving into the intriguing finding that our DNA can be altered by our life choices, click here.


Once a rising star, chef now feeds hungry
2010-04-02, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/04/01/cnnheroes.krishnan.hunger/

Narayanan Krishnan was a bright, young, award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. But a quick family visit home [to the south Indian city of Madurai] before heading to Europe changed everything. "I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food," Krishnan said. "After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime." Krishnan quit his job within the week and returned home for good, convinced of his new destiny. "That spark and that inspiration is a driving force still inside me as a flame -- to serve all the mentally ill destitutes and people who cannot take care of themselves." Krishnan founded his nonprofit Akshaya Trust in 2003. Now 29, he has served more than 1.2 million meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- to India's homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people abandoned by their families and often abused. The hot meals he delivers are simple, tasty vegetarian fare he personally prepares, packs and often hand-feeds to nearly 400 clients each day. The group's operations cost about $327 a day, but sponsored donations only cover 22 days a month. Krishnan subsidizes the shortfall with $88 he receives in monthly rent from a home his grandfather gave him. Krishnan sleeps in Akshaya's modest kitchen with his few co-workers.

Note: Don't miss the beautiful three-minute video of this great hero. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Once a rising star, chef now feeds hungry
2010-04-02, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/04/01/cnnheroes.krishnan.hunger/

Narayanan Krishnan was a bright, young, award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. But a quick family visit home before heading to Europe changed everything. "I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food," Krishnan said. "It really hurt me so much. I was literally shocked. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime." Haunted by the image, Krishnan quit his job within the week and returned home for good, convinced of his new destiny. "That spark and that inspiration is a driving force still inside me as a flame -- to serve all the mentally ill destitutes and people who cannot take care of themselves," Krishnan said. Krishnan founded his nonprofit Akshaya Trust in 2003. Now 29, he has served more than 1.2 million meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- to India's homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people abandoned by their families and often abused. Krishnan said the name Akshaya is Sanskrit for "undecaying" or "imperishable," and was chosen "to signify [that] human compassion should never decay or perish. The spirit of helping others must prevail for ever." He seeks out the homeless under bridges and in the nooks and crannies between the city's temples. The hot meals he delivers are simple, tasty vegetarian fare he personally prepares, packs and often hand-feeds to nearly 400 clients each day. Krishnan carries a comb, scissors and razor and is trained in eight haircut styles that, along with a fresh shave, provide extra dignity to those he serves.

Note: For other inspiring stories of everyday heroes like this, click here.


Nepalese doc is ‘God of Sight’ to nation’s poor
2010-03-21, MSNBC/Associated Press
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35935864

For nearly a year, cataracts have clouded out all sight from the 70-year-old grandmother's world. With no money, she assumed she'd die alone in darkness. But now she waits quietly outside the operating room for her turn to meet Nepal's God of Sight. More than 500 others — most of whom have never seen a doctor before — have traveled for days by bicycle, motorbike, bus and even on their relatives' backs to reach Dr. Sanduk Ruit's mobile eye camp. Each hopes for the miracle promised in radio ads by the Nepalese master surgeon: He is able to poke, slice and pull the grape-like jelly masses out of an eye, then refill it with a tiny artificial lens, in about five minutes. It's an assembly-line approach to curing blindness that's possible thanks to a simple surgical technique Ruit pioneered, allowing cataracts to be removed safely without stitches through two small incisions. Once condemned by the international medical community as unthinkable and reckless, this mass surgery "in the bush" started spreading from Nepal to poor countries worldwide nearly two decades ago. Thousands of doctors — from North Korea to Nicaragua to Nigeria — have since been trained to train others, with the hope of slowly lessening the leading cause of blindness that affects 18 million people worldwide. No one pays for anything, and the entire cost is about $25 per surgery. That's $12,750 for all 510 patients, equal to only about three or four surgeries in the U.S.


Doctor claims he has evidence of the afterlife
2010-01-20, MSNBC
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/34953759/ns/today-today_people?gt1=43001/from

A clinical psychologist, [Mary Jo] Rapini had long worked with terminal cancer patients. When they told her of their near-death experiences, she would often chalk their stories up as a reaction to their pain medication. But in April 2003, she faced her own mortality. She suffered an aneurysm while working out [in] a gym and was rushed to the hospital. She was in an intensive care unit for three days when she took a turn for the worse. “All of a sudden [doctors] were rushing around me and inserting things into me, and they called my husband,” she [said]. “I looked up and I saw this light; it wasn’t a normal light, it was different. It was luminescent. And it grew. I kept looking at it like, ‘What is that?’ Then it grew large and I went into it. I went into this tunnel, and I came into this room that was just beautiful. God held me, he called me by name, and he told me, ‘Mary Jo, you can’t stay.’ And he said, ‘Let me ask you one thing — have you ever loved another the way you’ve been loved here?’ And I said, ‘No, it’s impossible. I’m a human.’ And then he just held me and said, ‘You can do better.’ ” While Rapini’s account may seem far-fetched, [Dr. Jeffrey] Long [in his book Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences] says her recollections mirror nearly all stories of near-death experiences.

Note: For a powerfully inspiring online lesson focused on near-death experiences, click here. For intriguing investigations into the nature of reality from reliable sources, click here.


Five-year-old's 911 call saves dad's life
2010-01-06, WTHR-TV (Indianapolis NBC affiliate)
http://www.wthr.com/story/11780155/five-year-olds-911-call-saves-dads-life

It took a five-year-old girl to save her father's life. She talked to 911 dispatchers when she thought her father was having a heart attack. About 9:30 Monday night, Hancock county dispatcher Jason Bonham got a call. At first, he couldn't understand the person who was on the line. A man was in distress and unable to speak. That's when Savannah, the man's five-year-old daughter, picked up the phone. "My dad can't hardly breathe," she told Bonham. The call to 911 came from a cell phone, so dispatchers didn't automatically have an address. With her father's help, the little voice clearly repeated their street address, and with time of the essence, gave dispatchers all the information they needed. "Is your Daddy still awake?" "Yeah." "Most people when you talk to them, they're hysterical," said Bonham. Her calm was not nearly as surprising as her tender age. "How old are you?" "I'm five years old." For nearly ten minutes she stayed on the line, handling a scary situation with courage and grace. "He looks like he's real shaky," Savannah said. "You're doing a good job, all right, Savannah? They should be there in a few minutes." "How many minutes?" "Okay, you have to stay awake they'll be here in a couple minutes." "It's okay, Dad." Savannah is now credited for saving her father's life. The girl's father was back at work Wednesday as doctors try to figure out what happened.

Note: For an awesome four-minute video of this inspiring event, click here.


Fewer Law Enforcement Officers Died on Job in 2009
2009-12-28, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/12/28/us/politics/AP-US-Police-Fatalitie...

Law enforcement deaths this year dropped to their lowest level since 1959, while the decade of the 2000s was among the safest for officers -- despite the deadliest single day for police on Sept. 11, 2001. Through Dec. 27, the report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found [the following]. 124 officers were killed this year, compared to 133 in 2008. The 2009 total represents the fewest line-of-duty deaths since 108 a half-century ago. Firearms deaths rose to 48, nine more than in 2008. However, the 39 fatalities in 2008 represented the lowest annual figure in more than five decades. One female officer was killed in 2009, compared with 13 the previous year. There was no explanation for the decline. An average of 162 officers a year died in the 2000s, compared with 160 in the 1990s, 190 in the 1980s and 228 in the 1970s -- the deadliest decade for U.S. law enforcement. Seventy-two officers died on Sept. 11.

Note: Why wasn't this article titled something like "Law Enforcement Deaths Lowest in 50 Years"? Why is this inspiring news given so little attention? Did you know that violent crime nationwide in the US has decreased by 50% in the last 15 years? Click here to read about this. Why is news that inspires fear given such prominence while inspiring news gets so little notice? For a possible answer, click here.


Peanut Butter Plan to feed the homeless spreads
2009-09-15, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/15/DD1Q19MDQO.DTL

The world is getting better, one peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a time. It's called the Peanut Butter Plan. Like many of the best plans, it's simple: Strangers get together, make peanut butter sandwiches and immediately pass them out to homeless people. No federal subsidy, no foundation, no vouchers. No official sanction from anybody. Just strangers, good will and peanut butter. Jory John, a San Francisco children's book writer, got the idea for the PBJ stealth campaign this spring. John put forth the idea on Facebook and, over the past few months, PBJ handouts have taken place in Los Angeles; Berkeley; Phoenix; Little Rock, Ark.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Austin, Texas; and London. "People are joining from all over the place," John said. "I thought it was about time to use a social networking site to do some good." The monthly gathering took place the other evening around a conference table inside a publishing house that had donated its office for the cause. Some sandwich-laden volunteers [went] to the Tenderloin and some others to the Haight and South of Market.There was no shortage of people who found the idea of a complimentary peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich to be just the thing. Outside the BART station at 16th and Mission streets, a dozen folks accepted sandwiches. When the sandwiches were gone, [the] sandwich makers retired to a nearby tavern for a beer. The camaraderie of doing something nice, along with the beers, made everyone feel pretty good and some of the strangers exchanged phone numbers. "The smallest actions make the biggest difference," [John] said. "There are some cynics who say it's not really curing hunger, and it isn't curing hunger. But it's curing one person's hunger. There's nothing wrong with that."

Note: Information on the Peanut Butter Plan and its operations in various cities around the U.S. is available at www.peanutbutterplan.org.


Watching Whales Watching Us
2009-07-12, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/12/magazine/12whales-t.html?partner=rss&emc=rs...

Scientists have now documented behaviors like tool use and cooperative hunting strategies among whales. Orcas, or killer whales, have been found to mourn their own dead. Just three years ago, researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York discovered, in the brains of a number of whale species, highly specialized neurons that are linked to, among other things, the use of language and were once thought to be the exclusive property of humans and a few other primates. Indeed, marine biologists are now revealing not only the dizzying variety of vocalizations among a number of whale species but also complex societal structures and cultures. Whales, we now know, teach and learn. They scheme. They cooperate, and they grieve. They recognize themselves and their friends. They know and fight back against their enemies. And perhaps most stunningly, given all of our transgressions against them, they may even, in certain circumstances, have learned to trust us. For all of their inherent elusiveness, the gray whales of Baja baffle scientists for the opposite reason: They can’t seem to get enough of us humans. The question of why present-day gray-whale mothers, some of whom still bear harpoon scars, would take to seeking us out and gently shepherding their young into our arms is a mystery that now captivates whale researchers and watchers alike. There may be something far more compelling going on in the lagoons of Baja each winter and spring. Something, let’s say, along the lines of that time-worn plot conceit behind many a film, in which the peaceable greetings of alien visitors are tragically rebuffed by human fear and ignorance. Except that in this particular rendition, the aliens keep coming back, trying, perhaps, to give us another chance.

Note: For many important reports from reliable sources on the amazing capabilities of marine mammals, as well as serious threats to their well-being and survival from human activities, click here.


Street Farmer
2009-07-05, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/05/magazine/05allen-t.html?pagewanted=all

Like others in the so-called good-food movement, [Will] Allen, who is 60, asserts that our industrial food system is depleting soil, poisoning water, gobbling fossil fuels and stuffing us with bad calories. Like others, he advocates eating locally grown food. But to Allen, local doesn't mean a rolling pasture or even a suburban garden: it means 14 greenhouses crammed onto two acres in a working-class neighborhood on Milwaukee's northwest side, less than half a mile from the city's largest public-housing project. And this is why Allen is so fond of his worms. When you're producing a quarter of a million dollars' worth of food in such a small space, soil fertility is everything. Without microbe- and nutrient-rich worm castings (poop, that is), Allen's Growing Power farm couldn't provide healthful food to 10,000 urbanites — through his on-farm retail store, in schools and restaurants, at farmers' markets and in low-cost market baskets delivered to neighborhood pickup points. He couldn't employ scores of people, some from the nearby housing project; continually train farmers in intensive polyculture; or convert millions of pounds of food waste into a version of black gold. With seeds planted at quadruple density and nearly every inch of space maximized to generate exceptional bounty, Growing Power is an agricultural Mumbai, a supercity of upward-thrusting tendrils and duct-taped infrastructure.

Note: For another excellent article on this most amazing man and the urban farming movement, click here.


Can Positive Thoughts Help Heal Another Person?
2009-05-21, NPR
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104351710

For the past decade, [Sheri] Kaplan has been coming every few months to see Gail Ironson, a professor at the University of Miami. Ironson, an AIDS researcher, runs down a battery of questions. Kaplan has never taken medicine, yet the disease has not progressed to AIDS (and she is not part of the population that has a mutation in the CCR5 gene that prevents progression of HIV to AIDS). In the mid-1990s, when having HIV was akin to a death sentence, Ironson noticed that a number of patients like Kaplan never got sick. Ironson wanted to know why. And she found something surprising. "If you ask people what's kept you going so long, what keeps you healthy, often people would say spirituality," she says. "It was something that just kept coming up in the interviews, and that's why I decided to look at it." Ironson began to zero in on a patient's relationship with God in an attempt to predict how fast the disease would progress. Ironson says over time, those who turned to God after their diagnosis had a much lower viral load and maintained those powerful immune cells at a much higher rate than those who turned away from God. "In fact, people who felt abandoned by God and who decreased in spirituality lost their CD4 cells 4.5 times faster than people who increased in spirituality," Ironson says. "That was actually our most powerful psychological predictor to date."


Modern Pied Piper Cheats Death
2009-05-01, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/modern-pied-piper-cheats-death/

Every time 70-year-old Andy Mackie draws a breath, it's music to his ears - whether there's a harmonica there or not. Mackie's just glad to be alive. Mackie jokes, "I guess they don't need a harmonica player in heaven yet." Mackie, a Scottish-born retired horse trainer, lives in a camper in northwest Washington state - he lives there, even though technically -- medically -- he should have died long ago. After his ninth heart surgery, Mackie's doctors had him on 15 different medicines. But the side effects made life miserable. So one day he quit taking all 15 and decided to spend his final days doing something he always wanted to do. He used the money he would have spent on the prescriptions to give away 300 harmonicas, with lessons included. "I really thought it was the last thing I could ever do," he says. And when he didn't die the next month, he bought a few hundred more. Harmonicas in hand, he explains, "I just started going from school to school." It's now 11 years and 13,000 harmonicas later. Today there's nary a kid in the county who hasn't gotten a free harmonica from Mackie, or played one of his strum sticks. To keep the kids interested in music as they get older, Mackie now spends the bulk of his Social Security check making them beginner string instruments. He also buys store-made instruments for kids that show a special interest. He provides free lessons to everyone by getting the older kids to teach the younger kids. Mackie says, "I tell them music is a gift, you give it away - you give it away and you get to keep it forever." The end result is something truly unique to his corner of Washington. It seems everywhere you look, everyplace you go, every kid you meet has the same genuine passion for fiddle music.

Note: Don't miss the inspiring video of this story at the link above. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Torture tests say battery power's hardly nerdy
2009-03-30, Boston Globe
http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2009/03/30/torture_tests_s...

Bill Dubé gets giddy when he talks about batteries and speed. After all, his 500-horsepower Killacycle electric motorcycle goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under a second. He claims it is the fastest electric vehicle on the planet. In October, the Killacycle traveled a quarter mile in 7.89 seconds, topping out at 174 mph, a record. Dubé, 56, an engineer and Rhode Island native whose day job is designing air chemistry instruments at the University of Colorado, is the bike's designer, owner, and builder. He is out to prove that electric vehicles do not have to be "nerd-mobiles." At the heart of electric vehicles like the Killacycle are the batteries. A123 Systems Inc., based in Watertown, sponsors the Killacycle and provides its battery. Dubé read about A123's lithium-ion battery technology in 2003 and decided to approach company officials. He thought drag racing was a great way to torture-test the company's innovative battery cells. "I told them I'll take the battery cells out to the drag strip and set a world record," he said. Electric-vehicle racing hit the start line about 15 years ago, when pioneers like Dubé began building the machines. "Bill is quite amazing and does pretty good promoting electric-vehicle racing in general," said Mike Willmon, president of the National Electric Drag Racing Association, based in Santa Rosa, Calif. The mission of the group, whose membership stands at 100, is to increase public awareness about the performance side of electric vehicles.

Note: Why such a weak title for this amazing bike? Why not a title like "Electric motorcycle goes 0 to 60 in one second"? Could it be the media doesn't want us to know things like this? For lots more suggesting this may be the case, click here. And for more on this amazing motorcyle and an unassuming electric car that does the quarter mile in under 12 seconds, click here.


Microlending: Do Good, Make Money?
2009-02-17, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/microlending-do-good-make-money/

I've long been a fan of microfinance or microlending where a small loan can make a big difference. To date, I've made several small investments via both Microplace.com and Kiva.org. And, in addition to doing good, I'm doing well. The money is loaned to poor people--mostly women--in various parts of the world. Microlending, like other uninsured investments, is subject to all sorts of risks. But, based on past performance, the odds of seeing your money again are pretty high. Historically, 97 percent of low-income borrowers have paid back their microfinance loans. Kiva.org is a not-for-profit organization. From a user perspective, one of the big differences between the two organizations is that Kiva doesn't pay interest. Also, Kiva is a bit more "peer to peer" in that its Web site shows you information about the specific entrepreneur who will be receiving your loan. One feature I like about Kiva is that you can purchase gift certificates for as little as $25. That's what I'm now doing for the children in my life. By giving them a Kiva gift certificate they and their parents get to chose who to loan it to and, eventually, the child gets the $25 back. It's a good long-term investment in social consciousness. And, yes, I've put my money where my words are. After a couple of years investing in both Kiva and Microplace, I have nothing but happy (albeit small) returns.

Note: For lots more on microlending, click here and here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Apocalypse now? 30 days when the world didn't end
2008-09-09, Times of London (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4717864.ece

The beginning of the first serious experiments using CERN’s Large Hadron Collider this week has given rise to a welter of fanciful scare stories about the obliteration of the Earth by a pocket black hole or a cascade reaction of exotic particles. Similar predictions have been made around the launch of several other particle physics experiments and even the first atomic weapons tests. Predictions of the world’s end are nothing new though. We’ve picked out 30 of the most memorable apocalypses that never, for one reason or another, quite happened. 1: 2,800BC: The oldest surviving prediction of the world’s imminent demise was found inscribed upon an Assyrian clay tablet which stated: "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common." 4: Mar 25, 970 AD. The Lotharingian computists believed they had found evidence in the Bible that a conjunction of certain feast days prefigured the end times. They were just one of a wide scattering of millennial cults springing up in advance of that first Millennium. The millennial panic endured for at least 30 years after the fateful date had come and gone, with some adjustment made to allow 1,000 years after the crucifixion, rather than the nativity. 8: 1648: Having made close study of the kabbalah, theTurkish rabbi Sabbatai Zevi predicted that the Messiah would make a miraculous return in 1648, and that his name would be Sabbatai Zevi. 9: 1666: A year packed with apocalyptic portent. With a date containing the figures commonly accepted as the biblical Number of the Beast and following a protracted period of plague in England, it was little surprise that many should believe the Great Fire of London to be a herald of the Last Days.


Canadian teen's process decomposes plastic bags
2008-06-05, Reuters News
http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSN0535499620080605

As countries and cities around the world move to ban plastic bags, a Canadian teenager is tackling the problem of what to do with them. High school student Daniel Burd successfully isolated microorganisms from soil and used them to help degrade 43 percent of his polyethylene sample within a few weeks in a science project that recently won him the C$10,000 ($9,800) top prize at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. "The purpose of my project was to first of all prove that it's possible to do the degradation, and I just wanted to develop a beginning procedure that could be used," said the 17-year-old Grade 11 student, who also walked away with nearly C$35,000 in university scholarship offers. "We know that after 40 to 100,000 years, the plastic bags will be degraded naturally. Some type of microbe must be responsible for this. So the first step was to isolate this microbe and that's what I did," said Burd, who began his research in December 2006. To isolate the microorganism, he turned the plastic bags into a powder -- an important step, Burd said, because it increases the surface area and helps the microorganisms that can use the plastic to grow. Once he had the powder, he collected soil samples from a landfill, and combined the two with a home-made solution that would encourage microorganism growth. After months of experimenting, he isolated two microbial strains from the genuses sphingomonas and pseudomonas. Burd worked with the microbes to find the combination that would degrade strips of plastic bags best, and optimized the process by factoring in elements such as temperature and concentration of microbes. "In the end I was able to find that after six weeks incubation 43 percent of my plastic bag is degraded."

Note: Why wasn't this all over the news? Very few media outlets covered this highly inspiring story. For a more recent article on this fascinating topic, click here.


In Rwanda, visionary doctor is moving mountains again
2008-04-13, Boston Globe
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/articles/2008/04/13/in_rwanda_visionary_docto...

It was November 2004, and Dr. Paul Farmer had agreed to bring his world-renowned Partners in Health model to Rwanda, which was still reeling from the aftershocks of the genocide a decade earlier. Now here he was, with Rwandan health officials, to scout out a location for a hospital to serve the poorest of the poor. Farmer, who teaches at Harvard, was taken to Ruhengeri, in the country's northwest corner. But there was already a clean hospital there, with employees and even an X-ray machine. "No, no, no. You don't understand," Farmer recalls saying. "Find me the worst possible place in the country." So they took him to Rwinkwavu, a remote area two hours east of Kigali. Even Farmer - who works in the world's worst regions - was taken aback. There were no beds, no patients, no staff, no medical equipment. "It was abandoned, dirty and scary," Farmer says. There were 200,000 people in the district and not a single doctor. It was the perfect place for Farmer. In the summer of 2005, the doors opened at Rwinkwavu Hospital, which now sees 250 patients a day, some of them walking hours to get there. Farmer, [Dr. Michael Rich, who is Rwanda country director for Partners in Health], and their Rwandan counterparts have built a second hospital in an equally remote area of 200,000 - also without a single doctor - and built or renovated 19 health centers that feed patients to them. A third hospital is on the drawing board, designed by Harvard architecture students. Ultimately, they plan to expand rural medical services to the entire country. Now 20 years old, Partners in Health, with its emphasis on treating poverty as well as disease, has expanded to nine countries.

Note: Five years ago, Farmer became reluctantly famous with the publication of Tracy Kidder's best-selling book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, which told the story of the brash Harvard Medical School graduate who changed the face of healthcare in rural Haiti.


Jenny McCarthy: My son's recovery from autism
2008-04-02, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/02/mccarthy.autsimtreatment/

We've met some of the most amazing moms and dads who are forging their own path to prevention and recovery. When our son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism we were lucky enough to benefit from their knowledge and experience. Evan has been healed to a great extent by many breakthroughs that, while perhaps not scientifically proven, have definitely helped Evan and many other children who are recovering from autism. We believe what helped Evan recover was starting a gluten-free, casein-free diet, vitamin supplementation, detox of metals, and anti-fungals for yeast overgrowth that plagued his intestines. Once Evan's neurological function was recovered through these medical treatments, speech therapy and applied behavior analysis helped him quickly learn the skills he could not learn while he was frozen in autism. After we implemented these therapies for one year, the state re-evaluated Evan for further services. They spent five minutes with Evan and said, "What happened? We've never seen a recovery like this." Evan is now 5 years old and what might surprise a lot of you is that we've never been contacted by a single member of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or any other health authority to evaluate and understand how Evan recovered from autism. When Evan meets doctors and neurologists, to this day they tell us he was misdiagnosed -- that he never had autism to begin with. It's as if they are wired to believe that children can't recover from autism.

Note: This article is written by Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, actors and parents actively involved in autism-related causes. McCarthy is the author of the book Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism. Don't miss a great three-minute video of McCarthy on CNN talking about her experience with vaccines and autism. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Man Is Rescued by Stranger on Subway Tracks
2008-01-03, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/03/nyregion/03life.html?_r=0

It was every subway rider’s nightmare. Wesley Autrey, a 50-year-old construction worker and Navy veteran ... was waiting for the downtown local at 137th Street and Broadway in Manhattan around 12:45 p.m. He was taking his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, home before work. Nearby, a man collapsed, his body convulsing. Mr. Autrey and two women rushed to help, he said. The man, Cameron Hollopeter ... stumbled to the platform edge and fell to the tracks, between the two rails. The headlights of the No. 1 train appeared. “I had to make a split decision,” Mr. Autrey said. So he made one, and leapt. Mr. Autrey lay on Mr. Hollopeter, his heart pounding, pressing him down in a space roughly a foot deep. The train’s brakes screeched, but it could not stop in time. Five cars rolled overhead before the train stopped, the cars passing inches from his head, smudging his blue knit cap with grease. Mr. Autrey heard onlookers’ screams. “We’re O.K. down here,” he yelled, “but I’ve got two daughters up there. Let them know their father’s O.K.” He heard cries of wonder, and applause. Power was cut, and workers got them out. Mr. Hollopeter ... had only bumps and bruises. The police said it appeared that Mr. Hollopeter had suffered a seizure. Mr. Autrey refused medical help, because, he said, nothing was wrong. He did visit Mr. Hollopeter in the hospital before heading to his night shift. “I don’t feel like I did something spectacular; I just saw someone who needed help,” Mr. Autrey said. “I did what I felt was right.”

Note: Don't miss the inspiring two-minute video of this act of courage.


For Modern Kids, 'Philanthropy' Is No Grown-Up Word
2007-12-30, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/29/AR20071229018...

In lieu of presents at her 12th birthday party this year, Maddie Freed of Potomac asked her friends to bring money, and she raised $800 for Children's Hospital. Eight-year-old Jenny Hoekman saves a third of what she makes walking dogs, and this month the Takoma Park girl donated it to help her Brownie troop sponsor an immigrant family. And in Club Penguin, a popular online game club for the elementary school set, more than 2.5 million kids gave their virtual earnings to charities in a contest this month. In response, the site's founders are giving $1 million to charities based on the children's preferences. Young children and teenagers across the nation are getting involved in philanthropy more than ever, according to research and nonprofit experts, who credit new technologies with the rise of the trend. As young people increasingly become exposed to and connected with the problems of the world via the Internet and television, experts said, parents are finding new ways to instill in their children the value of giving. At the same time, technology is democratizing philanthropy so giving is not only easier for people of all ages and means, but also trendier. And children are starting to organize at the grass-roots level to give. "We've globalized technology, we've globalized commerce, but we haven't globalized compassion," said Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, a nonprofit network of kids helping kids. "But we're seeing a generation of kids, ages 10 to 15, who are aware of global problems, and they're really searching to help. The next step is to help kids move from that awareness to action." Eileen Barber, 10, of Charlottesville said she gave her Club Penguin coins to the World Wildlife Fund to help animals. "It sort of seemed like they have a lot more needs than us," Barber said. "With global warming and stuff, I figured it would be nicer to look beyond just myself."


For this club, life begins at 50 (%)
2007-07-29, Boston Globe
http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2007/07/29/for_this_club_life_b...

When David Ludlow's wife died in a climbing accident 11 years ago, her death transformed him into a multimillionaire: He inherited Vanda Sendzimir's share of her family fortune, a $5 million trust that generates an annual interest of about $300,000. Then a freelance photographer with a passion for social justice issues, the Jamaica Plain man was plunged into a swirl of shock, guilt, and confusion. "I've always been very left-wing politically and all of a sudden I was living incredible inequality," said Ludlow, 64. "Suddenly I was in the upper 1 percent of the population in terms of wealth, and I felt terrible about that for a long time." So he did something radical, and something that many people might consider insane: He decided to give away half his annual income. In doing so, Ludlow joined a small, unusual, and growing community: The 50% League, an Arlington-based group of people who contribute at least half their income, business profits, or net worth to charity. Members from across the country have been welcomed into an elite circle of givers and asked to share their stories publicly, even if anonymously, to inspire other givers. Their motivations are manifold: Some give out of a sense of fairness, personal satisfaction or a desire for simplicity; others are driven by religious faith or dedication to a cause. Many are anonymous philanthropists, and not all of them have great wealth: Some are members of the middle class, but have chosen to survive on less so they can give more. Above all, they aim to stand as role models, and to encourage others of all income levels to think about their giving potential. "I feel incredibly privileged, and I still feel guilty about that," said Ludlow, who has used much of the money he inherited from his late wife ... to fund grass-roots groups led by low-income people of color. "But it's given me tremendous meaning in my life to give as much as I can away."

Note: The wonderful man featured in this article, David Ludlow, is a major supporter of our work in the form of a large monthly donation (http://www.peerservice.org/donations#monthly). This is a powerful example of how one inspired individual can make a big difference in the world. Let us all do our best to use our money in support of personal and global transformation to the best of our ability. We also invite you to make a difference by donating to support our empowering work at http://www.peerservice.org/donations. For two inspiring media clips of David and this great organization, click here and here.


A genius explains
2007-02-12, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,1409903,00.html

Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant. He can perform mind-boggling mathematical calculations at breakneck speeds. But unlike other savants, who can perform similar feats, Tammet can describe how he does it. He speaks seven languages and is even devising his own language. Now scientists are asking whether his exceptional abilities are the key to unlock the secrets of autism. Ever since the age of three, when he suffered an epileptic fit, Tammet has been obsessed with counting. Now he is 26, and a mathematical genius who can figure out cube roots quicker than a calculator and recall pi to 22,514 decimal places. He also happens to be autistic, which is why he can't drive a car, wire a plug, or tell right from left. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. An estimated 10% of the autistic population - and an estimated 1% of the non-autistic population - have savant abilities, but no one knows exactly why. A number of scientists now hope that Tammet might help us to understand better. The blind American savant Leslie Lemke played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No1, after he heard it for the first time, and he never had so much as a piano lesson. And the British savant Stephen Wiltshire was able to draw a highly accurate map of the London skyline from memory after a single helicopter trip over the city. Even so, Tammet could still turn out to be the more significant.

Note: Could the human mind be much more powerful than even science is willing to admit? For an astounding documentary showing how this unusual man managed to become conversant in a difficult language in one week and lots more, click here.


Do-Gooders With Spreadsheets
2007-01-30, New York Times
http://select.nytimes.com/2007/01/30/opinion/30kristof.html

The World Economic Forum here in Davos is the kind of place where if you let yourself get distracted while walking by a European prime minister on your left, you could end up tripping over a famous gazillionaire. But perhaps the most remarkable people to attend ... are the social entrepreneurs. Nic Frances runs a group that aims to cut carbon emissions in 70 percent of Australian households over 10 years. His group, Easy Being Green, gives out low-energy light bulbs and low-flow shower heads after the household signs over the rights to the carbon emissions the equipment will save. The group then sells those carbon credits to industry to finance its activities. In the U.S., Gillian Caldwell and her group, Witness, train people around the world to use video cameras to document human rights abuses. The resulting videos have drawn public attention to issues like child soldiers and the treatment of the mentally ill. Now Ms. Caldwell aims to create sort of YouTube for human rights video clips. Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, demonstrated with Grameen Bank the power of microfinancing. His bank has helped raise incomes, secure property rights for women, lower population growth and raise education standards across Bangladesh — and now the success is rippling around the globe. “Politics is failing to solve all the big issues,” said Jim Wallis, who wrote “God’s Politics” and runs Sojourners. “So when that happens, social movements rise up.” A growing number of the best and brightest university graduates in the U.S. and abroad are moving into this area (many clutching the book “How to Change the World,” a bible in the field).


Molecule offers cancer hope
2007-01-17, Toronto Star (One of Canada's leading newspapers)
http://www.thestar.com/News/article/171898

In results that "astounded" scientists, an inexpensive molecule known as DCA was shown to shrink lung, breast and brain tumours in both animal and human tissue experiments. The study was published yesterday in the journal Cancer Cell. "I think DCA can be selective for cancer because it attacks a fundamental process of cancer that is unique to cancer cells," said Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a professor at the Edmonton university's medical school and one of the study's key authors. The molecule appears to repair damaged mitochondria in cancer cells. "When a cell is getting too old or doesn't function properly, the mitochondria are going to induce the cell death," lead study author Sebastien Bonnet said yesterday. Bonnet says DCA – or dichloroacetate – appears to reverse the mitochondrial changes in a wide range of cancers. "One of the really exciting things about this compound is that it might be able to treat many different forms of cancer because all forms of cancer suppress mitochondrial function," Michelakis said. Bonnet says DCA may also provide an effective cancer treatment because its small size allows easy absorption into the body, ensuring it can reach areas that other drugs cannot, such as brain tumours. Because it's been used to combat other ailments ... DCA has been shown to have few toxic effects on the body. Its previous use means it can be immediately tested on humans. Unlike other cancer drugs, DCA did not appear to have any negative effect on normal cells. It could provide an extremely inexpensive cancer therapy because it's not patented. But ... the lack of a patent could lead to an unwillingness on the part of pharmaceutical companies to fund expensive clinical trials.

Note: Even these scientists realize that though this discovery could be a huge benefit to mankind, because the drug companies will lose profits, they almost certainly will not fund studies. Expensive AIDS drugs with promising results, on the other hand, are rushed through the studies to market. For more reliable, verifiable information on how hugely beneficial health advances are shut down to keep profits high, click here and here.


Blind, Wheelchair-Bound Student Doesn't Fail to Inspire
2006-11-10, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Story?id=2643340

When I met 18-year old Patrick Henry Hughes, I knew he was musically talented. I had been told so, had read that he was very able for someone his age and who had been blind and crippled since birth. Patrick's eyes are not functional; his body and legs are stunted. He is in a wheelchair. When we first shook hands, his fingers seemed entirely too thick to be nimble. So when he offered to play the piano for me and his father rolled his wheelchair up to the baby grand, I confess that I thought to myself, "Well, this will be sweet. He has overcome so much. How nice that he can play piano." But then Patrick put his hands to the keyboard, and his fingers began to race across it -- the entire span of it, his fingers moving up and back and over and across the keys so quickly and intricately that my fully-functional eyesight couldn't keep up with them. I was stunned. The music his hands drew from that piano was so lovely and lyrical and haunting, so rich and complex and beyond anything I had imagined he would play that there was nothing I could say. All I could do was listen. "God made me blind and didn't give me the ability to walk. I mean, big deal." Patrick said, smiling. "He gave me the talent to play piano and trumpet and all that good stuff." This is Patrick's philosophy in life, and he wants people to know it. "I'm the kind of person that's always going to fight till I win," he said. Patrick also attends the University of Louisville and plays trumpet in the marching band. The band director suggested it, and Patrick and his father, Patrick John Hughes, who have faced tougher challenges together, decided "Why not?" "Don't tell us we can't do something," Patrick's father added, with a chuckle. He looks at Patrick with a mixture of love and loyalty and admiration, something not always seen in the eyes of a father when he gazes at his son. "I've told him before. He's my hero."

Note: For amazingly inspiring seven-minute video clips of this unusual young musician on both Oprah and ESPN, click here and here.


Elephant 'self-portrait' on show
2006-07-21, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/5203120.stm

Art graduate Victoria Khunapramot, 26, has brought [remarkable] paintings from Thailand, [including] "self-portraits" by Paya, who is said to be the only elephant to have mastered his own likeness. Paya is one of six elephants whose keepers have taught them how to hold a paintbrush in their trunks. They drop the brush when they want a new colour. Mrs Khunapramot, from Newington, said: "Many people cannot believe that an elephant is capable of producing any kind of artwork, never mind a self-portrait. But they are very intelligent animals and create the entire paintings with great gusto and concentration within just five or 10 minutes - the only thing they cannot do on their own is pick up a paintbrush, so it gets handed to them. They are trained by artists who fine-tune their skills, and they paint in front of an audience in their conservation village, leaving no one in any doubt that they are authentic elephant creations." Mrs Khunapramot, who set up the Thai Fine Art company after studying the history of art in St Andrews and business management at Edinburgh's Napier University, said it took about a month to train the animals to paint.

Note: For an amazing video clip of one of these elephants at work, click here. For more on this fascinating topic, click here and here.


Children Full of Life
2004-09-27, CBC News (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)
http://www.cbc.ca/passionateeyemonday/feature_270904.html

In the award-winning documentary "Children Full of Life," a fourth-grade class in a primary school in Kanazawa, northwest of Tokyo, learn lessons about compassion from their homeroom teacher, Toshiro Kanamori. He instructs each to write their true inner feelings in a letter, and read it aloud in front of the class. By sharing their lives, the children begin to realize the importance of caring for their classmates. Capturing the intimate moments of the students' laughter and tears, the film explores one teacher's approach to allowing children the opportunity to discover the value of sharing powerful emotions. Classroom discussions include difficult issues such as the death of a parent or being the victim of bullying. In this "school of life," the simple message is learning to look after one another. Following Mr. Kanamori's class for a whole school year, the cameras were kept at the children's eye-level, giving their view of the world as they cope with troubled relationships and the loss of loved ones. Through their daily experiences, viewers see how they develop together a spirit of co-operation and compassion. Children Full of Life was awarded the Global Television Grand Prize at this year's 25th Anniversary Banff Television Festival, the festival's highest honour.

Note: Don't miss this, one of the most inspiring videos on the Internet, available at this link. If you watch nothing but the first five minutes of this touching 40-minute video, you will almost certainly be thankful you did.


Baltimore Artist's Art, Spirit Triumph Over Disability
2002-02-03, NPR
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=966641

Dan Keplinger was born with severe cerebral palsy. But at 30, he's already a successful artist, the subject of an Oscar-winning film called "King Gimp," and he's finishing his second college degree. Keplinger insists on doing everything for himself. To paint, Keplinger wiggles into headgear, then kneels over a canvas, hugging himself tightly to keep his arms from flailing. Many of Keplinger's works are self-portraits or reference his disability. "King Gimp" charts Keplinger's experience in a regular public school, his discovery of art and his entry into college. The 40-minute film won an Oscar in 1999 for best short subject documentary. His art continues to garner fans and critical acclaim. "Many of Keplinger's paintings are in some way autobiographical," [NPR reporter Neda] Ulaby says. "His bearded face flickers from the canvas, the eyes empty hollows. He looks both vulnerable and blank. It isn't easy to separate Keplinger's story from his art." Keplinger explains it simply: "Art... is... my... life."

Note: For one of the most inspiring one-minute videos ever made, watch the clip featuring Dan at this link.


The Assisi Decalogue For Peace
2002-02-01, King's University College, University of Western Ontario
http://www.uwo.ca/kings/ccjl/docs/catholic_docs/assisi/assisi.html

What if leaders of the world’s major religions got together one day and denounced all religious violence? What if they unanimously agreed to make this plain, clear and bold statement to the world? “Violence and terrorism are opposed to all true religious spirit and we condemn all recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion.” It could change the world. More than 200 leaders of the world’s dozen major religions did get together January 24 in Assisi, Italy. Pope John Paul II and a number of cardinals were at the meeting. So was Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians. So were a dozen Jewish rabbis, including some from Israel. So were 30 Muslim imams from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan. So were dozens of ministers representing Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Disciples of Christ, Mennonites, Quakers, Moravians, The Salvation Army and the World Council of Churches. So were dozens of monks, gurus and others representing Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Zoroastrians and native African religions. They unanimously agreed to condemn “every recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion.” They also said, “No religious goal can possibly justify the use of violence by man against man.” And that “Whoever uses religion to foment violence contradicts religion’s deepest and truest inspiration.” They called their statement the Assisi Decalogue for Peace. Maybe you missed the story. It didn’t even make the newspapers the next day, hidden inside or not. What if leaders of the world’s major religions got together one and denounced all religious violence - and no one cared?

Note: Why is it that news about war and terrorism so frequently makes headlines, but the amazing news that leaders of religions from around the world got together to denounce all violence in the name of God and religion did not even warrant an article or story in any major media?


New Jersey’s New Governor Outlines Plans, Signs Executive Order Promoting Equal Pay For Women
2018-01-16, CBS (Philadelphia affiliate)
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2018/01/16/phil-murphy-to-take-oath/

One-time Wall Street financier Phil Murphy became New Jersey’s 56th governor in a ceremony at the Trenton War Memorial, complete with a traditional 21-gun salute. The new governor wasted little time in getting to work. Murphy’s first act? Signing an executive order promoting equal pay for women. It’s just part of the change Murphy promised to the people of the state. “They voted to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for every New Jersey family,” the governor said, “and they elected a governor and a lieutenant governor and a legislature with a duty to carry out this promise.” Murphy’s half-hour address hit on all the major themes of the campaign that led him to this moment, providing a better break for all of New Jersey’s 9 million people. That includes everything from requiring the wealthy to pay more in taxes to improving jobs and education, and, yes, legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The governor also noted the diversity of his administration, from the first black woman to serve as lieutenant governor in Sheila Oliver to the first Sikh to be appointed attorney general anywhere in America.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


What it's like to live in a well-governed country
2018-01-08, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180107-what-its-like-to-live-in-a-well-gove...

What makes a country well-run? Whether minimising corruption or spearheading educational and medical initiatives, governments around the world use different policies to facilitate a high-functioning society. To quantify the effectiveness of these policies, indexes like the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, the World Bank’s Governance Index and the Social Progress Index survey residents, compile publicly available statistics and rank countries based on their performance across different categories. Certain patterns emerge across all three, with the same countries consistently at the top for their progressive social policies, trust in government and effective justice system. Denmark inches out its neighbours (and blows away the rest of the world) with near-perfect scores on the ‘Basic Human Needs’ ranking in the 2017 Social Progress Index, which includes meeting the nutritional and medical needs of its citizens and giving access to basic knowledge and communication. These benefits are offered to more than just native-born residents. “The general health and social system is well-developed and accessible to anyone living in Denmark, and as a student you can get financial assistance and free language classes,” explained German native Anne Steinbach. The social system also relies on a sense of trust, rather than paperwork. While life in Denmark can be expensive compared to other European countries, with the highest collective taxes in the EU to pay for these services, the benefits outweigh the costs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New York City records fewest murders, lowest crime rate in decades
2018-01-05, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/US/york-city-records-fewest-murders-lowest-crime-rate/s...

New York City ended the year with the fewest murders and the lowest crime figures in decades, the mayor and the NYPD said Friday. There were 290 murders in the nation's largest city in 2017, compared to 335 killings the previous year, said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a news conference. “No one believed it was possible to get under 300 murders,” de Blasio said. The murder rate is a far cry from 1990, when 2,245 people were killed in the city. The numbers of other crimes - shootings, robberies, burglaries and grand larcenies auto - also dropped, officials said. “To see crime levels as low as we have today, you’d have to go back to 1951, when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn and a slice was 15 cents,” de Blasio added. Overall, 2017 was the fourth straight year of declines in crime in New York City. According to NYPD records there were 96,517 crimes reported last year, compared with 102,052 in 2016, a drop of 5.4 percent.

Note: Major media consistently under-reports the remarkable drop in crime in the US. In 1990, there were nearly twice as many reported violent crimes as there were in 2016.


Low-carbon sources produce majority of UK electricity supply for first time ever
2018-01-03, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-energy-production-electric...

More than half of the electricity generated in the UK in 2017 came from low-carbon sources for the first time ever. Renewables and nuclear provided more electricity than all fossil fuels combined, with wind generation alone supplying twice as much energy as coal, according to analysis by Carbon Brief, a website that tracks climate change and energy policy. Wind made a greater contribution to the country’s electricity needs than coal in every month apart from January. The share from low-carbon sources doubled between 2008 and 2017, Carbon Brief said. The UK has also added wind and solar power generation rapidly, as costs have fallen. Future development will increasingly be possible without the Government subsidies that have aided the industry’s development until now. The UK also passed a series of other milestones last year, including its first day without coal power since 1882, the most electricity produced from solar power at any one moment and the most wind power produced in a day. Wind saw the biggest increase of any energy source, with supply up 31 per cent for the whole of 2017 on 2016’s level. The electricity sector has been the primary focus of renewable power generation as that power can then be used to revolutionise the other sectors, for example through the electrification of transport. Britain’s power system is the fourth cleanest in Europe and the seventh cleanest in the world.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Pineapple Fund: why is an anonymous bitcoin millionaire giving away $86m?
2017-12-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/24/pineapple-fund-anonymous-b...

What would you do if you had $86m? It’s a welcome dilemma for some of bitcoin’s early adopters thanks to the cryptocurrency’s meteoric rise. One generous bitcoiner has decided to follow the lead of Bill Gates and establish a philanthropic purse, the Pineapple Fund. The founder, known only as Pine, declared in mid December “I’m donating 5,057 BTC to charitable causes!” and since then has given away $7,550,000 in bitcoin to charities and causes around the world, with a view to dispersing the remaining bitcoin over the next several months. “I’m happy that I can help change the world for the better,” Pine says in a phone conversation on condition of anonymity. The nine recipients of the largest bitcoin charitable donations are a collection of nonprofits including medical researchers, those providing poverty-stricken communities with basic necessities, and technology-related causes. “The $1m donation will support the work we do standing up for user privacy and free expression, and defending civil rights in the digital world,” [says a spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation]. The collection of charities also includes Watsi, a platform committed to taking the US towards universal healthcare, the SENS Research Foundation that works to develop cures for degenerative diseases, and the Water Project which helps to establish safe water sources in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another $1m gift will help fund advanced clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Note: For more on this awesome donor, see this CNBC article and this one from Newsweek.


'We Can Take Them Apart.' ICAN Chief Beatrice Fihn Accepts Nobel Peace Prize for Group's Work to Ban Nuclear Weapons
2017-12-10, Time
http://time.com/5056523/beatrice-fihn-nobel-peace-prize/

When Beatrice Fihn received a call on Oct. 6 informing the 35-year-old Swede that her group, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she suspected a possible prank. Not that you should blame her - ICAN is just 10 years old, and the group’s aims can seem positively fanciful: the complete elimination of the world’s roughly 15,000 nuclear warheads. But that call from the Norwegian Nobel Committee was real, and so is Fihn’s goal. ICAN, a global coalition of 440 partner organizations in 98 countries, was honored for its efforts to advance the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was successfully finalized by two-thirds of the United Nations’ 192 members this summer. The treaty—which would outlaw nuclear weapons’ use, production and possession—is now open for ratification, and will become international law after 50 countries sign on. Those countries almost certainly won’t include the members of the nuclear club: The U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain, France, Pakistan, India and North Korea. Fihn is realistic that nuclear weapons won’t be abolished overnight. But just as earlier treaties banning biological weapons and land mines eventually led to such munitions being phased out, she believes a nuclear arms ban could help turn the public against these truly horrific weapons of mass destruction.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Quebec to offer basic income for 84,000 people unable to work
2017-12-10, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-proposes-basic-income-poverty-e...

Quebecers who have a severely limited capacity to work will gradually be able to access a guaranteed minimum income beginning next year, Premier Philippe Couillard's government announced. The measure is part of a $3-billion action plan to fight poverty and promote "economic inclusion," but falls short of offering a basic income for all Quebecers, a demand of many anti-poverty groups. An estimated 84,000 Quebecers would qualify for the minimum income measure, largely those with physical and intellectual disabilities. Of the 84,000, the vast majority are single people, long a neglected demographic when it comes to poverty reduction programs in Quebec. By next year, they will see their government assistance increased by at least $73 per month. That figure will reach $440 per month by 2023, bringing their annual guaranteed minimum to $18,029. Many of the measures announced Sunday either encourage low-income Quebecers to enter the job market or help them stay employed. This includes $1.8 million in funding to improve the digital skills of those living in poverty and nearly $34 million for Quebecers who receive social assistance and want to learn more skills. The measures also come one year after the Couillard government introduced controversial new rules that penalized social assistance recipients who failed to take steps to find a job. The $3 billion in spending will be spread out over several years, with the goal of helping 100,000 Quebecers out of poverty by 2023.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


7,500 Strangers Just Bought A Crumbling French Chateau Together
2017-12-05, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/05/568594889/7-500-strangers-...

Crowdfunding has been used to finance films, board games, classical music, scientific research and infertility treatments. Add this to the list of things bought with collective purchasing power: A chateau in the French countryside, complete with moat. The platform used to raise the funds announced on Friday that the castle had been purchased by milliers d'internautes – that is, thousands of Internet users, who each paid at least 50 euros (about $60) to "adopt" the chateau and help restore it. In just 40 days, the site raised the 500,000 euros it needed to buy it. "It's done, it's historic!" [the announcement] said. "The Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers now belongs to thousands of Internet users. Through this collective purchase, we believe in the preservation and development of the heritage of tomorrow and prove that civic strength is always the greatest." The chateau dates to the 13th century, and it was looted and abandoned during the French Revolution. In 1809, a rich Parisian entrepreneur bought and restored it. In March 1932, a fire broke out, destroying the roof and causing the chateau to be abandoned once more. Sadly, a suite at the castle is not part of the deal for the thousands of donors, though a gift of at least 60 euros (about $71) gives each patron a membership card and "access to part of the castle." The real gift, the campaign explains, is that patrons can become investors in a company that will own the castle, and "collectively decide its future."

Note: Don't miss video of this amazing abandoned castle at the link above.


One step beyond organic or free-range: Dutch farmer’s chickens lay carbon-neutral eggs
2017-11-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/05/carbon-neutral-eggs-dutch...

There’s the much-criticised battery hen egg, and then the pricier organic and free-range varieties. But for the truly ethically committed, how about the carbon-neutral egg, laid in what has been billed as the world’s most environmentally friendly farm? Dutch stores are now selling so-called “Kipster eggs” laid at a shiny new farm. The intention is to rethink the place of animals in the food chain, according to Ruud Zanders, the poultry farmer and university lecturer behind the farm. Mass-producing farms, even those that have moved on from cages, produce extremely cheap eggs at a heavy cost to the environment and the welfare of the animals laying them. The cost-cutting model is blamed by many for the regular food scares in northern Europe, including the recent enforced destruction of millions of eggs due to contamination by the toxic insecticide fipronil. The organic and free-range varieties, where farmers prioritise the welfare of the chickens, often sell at a higher price – but again at a cost to the wider environment, feeding the chickens expensive imported corn that could be better used to feed people. “It makes no sense for us to be competing with animals for food,” Zanders said. “And 70% of the carbon footprint in eggs is accounted for by the feed for the chickens.” Zanders’s selling point is that his farm has the highest welfare standards – as endorsed by Dutch animal activist group Animals Awake – matched with the lowest possible environmental cost. By using waste food as feed, the farm is ... cutting deeply into its carbon footprint.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Ozone hole over Antarctica shrinks to smallest peak since 1988
2017-11-03, CBS News/Associated Press
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ozone-hole-antarctica-shrivels-smallest-peak/

The ozone hole over Antarctica shrank to its smallest peak since 1988, NASA said Thursday. The huge hole in Earth's protective ozone layer reached its maximum this year in September, and this year NASA said it was 7.6 million square miles wide. The hole size shrinks after mid-September. "In the past, we've always seen ozone at some stratospheric altitudes go to zero by the end of September," said Bryan Johnson, NOAA atmospheric chemist. "This year our balloon measurements showed the ozone loss rate stalled by the middle of September and ozone levels never reached zero." This year's maximum hole is more than twice as big as the United States, but it's 1.3 million square miles less than last year and 3.3 million square miles smaller than 2015. Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said stormy conditions in the upper atmosphere warmed the air and kept chemicals chlorine and bromine from eating ozone. He said scientists haven't quite figured out why some years are stormier - and have smaller ozone holes - than others. "It's really small this year. That's a good thing," Newman said. Newman said this year's drop is mostly natural but is on top of a trend of smaller steady improvements likely from the banning of ozone-eating chemicals in a 1987 international treaty. The ozone hole hit its highest in 2000 at 11.5 million square miles.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Visit the World's Only Carbon-Negative Country
2017-10-17, National Geographic
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/bhutan/carbon-neg...

Bhutan is arguably the world’s happiest country. It’s also one of the greenest. That’s no coincidence. In fact, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck developed his signature Gross National Happiness index based on four pillars: sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance. Other countries have taken note, since the Himalayan kingdom is not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative. Also noteworthy: This is happening despite increasing tourism. As a travel destination Bhutan remains unique, sandwiched between its heavily industrialized neighbors China and India. The isolated nation only opened up to foreign visits in 1974 and allowed TVs in 1999. Bhutan has built sustainability into its national identity. In fact, the constitution mandates that 60 percent of its landmass be maintained and protected as forest. “The health facilities in Bhutan are free and education up to high school is also free. For those who advance, the education is free until the [college] degree,” a representative of the Bhutan Tourism Council wrote in an email. There are many reasons Bhutan is carbon negative. Aside from its protected forests, it has won world records for planting the most trees per hour, says Erin Levi, the author of the forthcoming Bradt Travel Guide to Bhutan. “The ratio of people to land mass—it's about the same size as Switzerland with just one tenth the population. Its slow path to development—the first road was only built in the 1960s, which also means people were very slow to get cars,” Levi said.

Note: Watch Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay deliver a TED Talk on the important connection between happiness and environmental sustainability.


Oil giant Shell bets on electric cars
2017-10-12, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/12/investing/shell-oil-buys-electric-car-charging/

One of the world's largest fossil fuel companies is betting on electric cars. Royal Dutch Shell revealed a deal on Thursday to acquire NewMotion, one of Europe's largest electric vehicle charging providers. NewMotion specializes in converting parking spots into electric charging stations. The Dutch firm has more than 30,000 electric charge points in Europe, [and] says its founding mission was to "contribute to a cleaner world by eradicating fossil fuels." Now, it will be owned by one of the world's largest fossil fuel companies, albeit one that is investing more on renewable energy. That makes sense because European investors and governments have been cracking down on oil's most reliable customer: the internal combustion engine. Norway, France, Germany and the U.K. have all announced efforts to phase out vehicles powered solely by fossil fuels. Shell is based in The Netherlands, where electric cars are popular and the government has set a target to boost sales even further. Barclays warned in a recent report that by 2025 oil demand could be lowered by 3.5 million barrels per day due to electric vehicles and increased fuel efficiency on conventional autos. If electric vehicles become one-third of the car market by 2040, oil demand could drop by 9 million barrels per day from today's levels, Barclays estimates.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Israeli, Palestinian women join peace march through desert
2017-10-09, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/09/middleeast/israeli-palestinian-women-peace-marc...

Under a white tent on the shores of the Dead Sea, Huda Abuarquob's frustration melted away. Dancing arm-in-arm with thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women, she felt hope surround her. The women, who came together Sunday morning in the "Peace Tent," had marched through the desert to the lowest point on earth, to demand an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The march was the culmination of two weeks of events, attended by more than 30,000 women, throughout Israel and the West Bank, organized by Women Wage Peace, a grassroots organization calling for a "bilaterally acceptable political agreement." The last round of [peace] negotiations ... fell apart in April 2014, with the two sides blaming each other. A few months later, Israel and Gaza were at war. Women Wage Peace was founded in the aftermath of the Gaza war, when organizers felt there was a need for a different approach. "Something happened in 2014," said Yael Triedel, an Israeli who participated in the march. "The recognition that this is it. We have to do it. The leaders didn't manage to do it so far, and it's our responsibility to make it happen." On Sunday evening, tens of thousands of women gathered ... for the conclusion of the peace march. Former Knesset member Shakib Shanan, whose son was one of two border police officers killed near Jerusalem's holiest site in mid-July, spoke at the park. "We are allowed to say this out loud - we are lovers of peace.

Note: Don't miss pictures of this beautiful and powerful event at the link above.


Italy's high-rise forests take root around the world
2017-10-08, News 24/AFP
http://www.news24.com/Green/News/italys-high-rise-forests-take-root-around-th...

As balconies bristle with tree branches and sunshine dapples the leaves of thousands of plants, two apartment buildings in the heart of Milan have almost disappeared under lush forest. The brainchild of Milanese architect Stefano Boeri, the Bosco Verticale ... uses more than 20,000 trees and plants to adorn the high-rise buildings from top to bottom - a project now being exported all over the world. Cherry, apple and olive trees spill over balconies alongside beeches and larches, selected and positioned according to their resistance to wind and preference for sunlight or humidity. Boeri said the idea came from his obsession with trees and determination to make them "an essential component of architecture," particularly as a weapon to combat climate change. Boeri worked closely with botanists to create a nursery of a thousand trees that have been trained to grow under specific conditions. The team faced numerous challenges, from how the balconies should be structured to take the weight of the plants, to ... what needed to go into the soil. They even carried out resistance tests at a hurricane centre in Miami. "For every human being living in the building, there are about two trees, 10 shrubs and 40 plants," Boeri said. The vegetation soon transformed into a veritable wildlife park: 9,000 ladybirds brought over from Germany to eat parasites - to leave the plants pesticide free - multiplied over the space of a few weeks. "We did not expect ... the incredible amount of birds that nested here," Boeri said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Love Little Free Libraries? These People Didn’t Stop at Books
2017-09-27, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/just-transition/love-little-free-libraries-...

From seed banks to free food pantries, the little library movement is taking off in neighborhoods across the country. Audrey Barbakoff ... wanted a place for people to share and donate vegetable, flower, and herb seeds. Barbakoff, who works as a librarian on Bainbridge Island, Washington, thought that the public library was the perfect place to house a seed library. In 2014, the group and the library staff teamed up to build a seed shed right behind the Bainbridge branch. Residents bring their seeds to the library and the staff organize, label, and store them in the shed where people are free to take what they need. In March, Holly Dyck ... decided to host a clothes swap on campus. Her idea caught on with more than 50 students who gathered in a student lounge to swap clothes that had rarely or never been worn. Darla Bradish ... heard about the Little Free Library movement and imagined a similar concept, but with food. “I see the need for little free food pantries in my community,” Bradish says. “It’s hard for some people ... to get to the local food bank, so I thought why not place little food pantries in the neighborhoods.” Bradish got her program, Kitsap Neighborhood Little Free Pantries, approved by her county’s public health district and set up the first two little pantries. The success of her project led to the local corrections department offering to build her more pantry boxes. “One guy got his paycheck, but couldn’t cash it until the next day,” she says. “So, he came to one of the pantries to find out what he was going to eat for dinner.”

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Man removes Nazi swastika tattoos after unlikely friendship
2017-09-25, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/US/man-removes-nazi-swastika-tattoos-friendship/story?i...

Colorado resident Michael Kent recently sat down at a tattoo parlor in Colorado Springs to have his swastikas covered up. Kent, a former neo-Nazi, credits an African-American parole officer named Tiffany Whittier with helping him to see beyond skin color and changing his views about white supremacy. “If it wasn’t for her I would have seeped back into it,” said Kent. “I look at her as family.” Whittier, 45, even inspired Kent, 38, to take down the Nazi flags he had hanging in his living room and replace them with smiley faces. “I’m not here to judge him. That’s not my job to judge. My job is to be that positive person in someone’s life,” Whittier said. Redemption Ink, a national non-profit that offers free removals of hate-related tattoos, helped connect Kent with Fallen Heroes Tattoo in Colorado to begin the 15-hour process of covering his swastikas. The sterile environment is new to Kent who had his previous ink work done in prison. “I’ve never, never, never been inside of a tattoo shop getting a professional tattoo,” he said. Kent believes the painful process will help him move forward after spending years as a member of a violent skinhead group based in Arizona. As a father of two young children, Kent also hopes his children will see the world differently. “I don’t want my kids to live the life I lived and live with hate,” said Kent. “I want my kids to know me for who I am now—a good father, a hard worker, and a good provider.”

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The first New Yorkers go to college tuition-free
2017-09-08, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/07/pf/college/new-york-excelsior-scholarship-fre...

New York's Excelsior Scholarship is the first of its kind. It covers the cost of tuition for qualifying students who are enrolled in a two- or four-year degree program at any of the state's 88 public colleges and university campuses. Plans for the scholarship were announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January. At first, students planning to attend college this fall didn't know whether it would become reality in time. It was officially approved by the legislature in April. When Governor Cuomo announced the program he said that college, like high school, "should always be an option even if you can't afford it." While similar programs in other states have made tuition free for community college students, the Excelsior Scholarship is the first to include those pursuing a four-year degree. The scholarship could save students as much as $27,000 over four years by cutting out tuition costs. The award doesn't cover fees charged by the school, or room and board. Students must also agree to live in state after college for the same number of years they received the scholarship, or it will be converted to a loan. Bonnie Tang, [a] Stony Brook freshman, is commuting from her home in Brooklyn, saving her about $13,000 in room and board costs. She'll have to buy a monthly train pass [and] pay about $2,560 in fees this year. But everything else is free. "My tuition is paid for and that saves me a lot of money," she said.

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This Pen Can Diagnose Cancer in 10 Seconds
2017-09-06, Time
http://time.com/4928010/diagnose-cancer-pen/

When it comes to treating cancer, surgeons want to get rid of as much cancerous tissue as possible during tumor removal. Now a new technology - the size of a pen - is attempting to make that easier by distinguishing between tumors and healthy tissue in just 10 seconds. The MasSpec Pen is a real-time diagnostic tool created by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers report that their handheld device (which is not yet FDA-approved) uses tiny droplets of water to analyze human tissue samples for cancer. “It’s a gentle, simple chemical process,” says study author Livia Schiavinato Eberlin. “It’s highly specific and highly sensitive. The fact that it’s non-destructive brings a new approach to cancer diagnosis.” Getting rid of all cancerous tissue while also preventing any harm to healthy tissue is a delicate process. Other tools available to surgeons for tissue diagnosis ... use gases or solvents that can be harmful for the human body [and] are slower than the MasSpec Pen. In the study, the researchers tested 253 human tissue samples from lung, ovary, thyroid and breast cancer tumors and compared them to samples of healthy tissues. The device was 96% accurate at identifying cancerous tissues. The researchers also tested the MasSpec Pen in live mice with tumors and found that the device was able to identify the presence of cancer without harming healthy surrounding tissues.

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Pollution levels in Bolivia plummet on nationwide car-free day
2017-09-03, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/sep/03/bolivia-car-free-day-pollution

Air pollution levels have plunged in cities across Bolivia as the country marked a nationwide car-free day in which all non-emergency vehicles were banned from city streets. As Bolivia’s middle-class population has increased over the past 10 years so has the number of cars clogging city streets. The car-free event started 18 years ago in Cochabamba, one of Latin America’s five most polluted cities, and has gradually taken root across the country. By 2011, it had become so popular that Bolivia’s legislature declared a yearly “Day of the Pedestrian and Cyclist in Defence of Mother Earth”. Families love it. Jesus Romero, who lives on the northern edge of Cochabamba, said: “We really enjoy that it is so quiet and peaceful without any cars around, and that’s there’s space in the streets for the kids to play.” Deyanira López, 14, highlighted another benefit. “Our city is very beautiful but you just don’t see it because of all the cars,” she said. Andres Clares, 16, agreed, saying: “I really like walking at least one day without cars. It’s quieter and the air is so much fresher.” In a typically noisy city, the sudden silence is striking. This year the event’s catchphrase is “leave your green footprint in Cochabamba”. Six eco-stations are focused on different themes in coordination with local businesses and charities. “These educate about the air, animals, water, recycling, protected areas and trees,” said Gaviota Borda, head of the municipal department of environmental protection.

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The Idaho town that stared down hate – and won
2017-08-31, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2017/0831/The-Idaho-town-that-stared-do...

From his self-proclaimed Aryan Nations church, a retired engineer named Richard Butler preached hate to his followers. [The Idaho town of] Coeur d’Alene became code for white supremacists. But what happened here offers an antidote of hope. The community came together, rejecting the vision of Mr. Butler’s small band, and organizing a tenacious effort to drive them out. [Norman] Gissel and others involved in that campaign ... embraced some old-fashioned phrases – freedom, equality, and justice – and decided on a way to challenge the Aryan Nations. When the Aryan Nations marched, the group sponsored counter protests as far away as Spokane to draw the crowds down. For one event, [organizer Tony] Stewart enlisted local businesses and individuals to pledge money to human rights groups for every minute of a planned Aryan Nations march, and then publicly urged Butler to march slowly to raise more money for his opponents. “They marched for 27 minutes and we got $34,000,” Stewart chuckled. It was the group’s violence that finally brought it down ... in 1998. The compound’s guards ... terrorized [an American Indian woman and her son] at gunpoint. The Southern Poverty Law Center pounced on the incident, bringing lawsuits on behalf of the victims. They won a $6.3 million judgment in 2000 against Butler, and two of his bodyguards served prison time for assault. Butler’s compound was seized in the judgment, used as a training exercise by the fire department and burned to the ground.

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Hints of Trigonometry on a 3,700-Year-Old Babylonian Tablet
2017-08-29, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/science/trigonometry-babylonian-tablet.html

Two Australian mathematicians assert that an ancient clay tablet was a tool for working out trigonometry problems, possibly adding to the many techniques that Babylonian mathematicians had mastered. “It’s a trigonometric table, which is 3,000 years ahead of its time,” said Daniel F. Mansfield of the University of New South Wales. Dr. Mansfield and his colleague Norman J. Wildberger reported their findings last week in the journal Historia Mathematica. The tablet, known as Plimpton 322, was discovered in the early 1900s in southern Iraq and ... contains 60 numbers organized into 15 rows and four columns. With all the publicity, the tablet has been put on display at [Columbia] University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Plimpton 322 has been dated to between 1822 and 1762 B.C. One of the columns on Plimpton 322 is just a numbering of the rows from 1 to 15. The other three columns are ... Pythagorean triples - sets of integers, or whole numbers, that satisfy the equation a2 + b2 = c2. That by itself was remarkable given that the Greek mathematician Pythagoras, for whom the triples were named, would not be born for another thousand years. “You don’t make a trigonometric table by accident,” Dr. Mansfield said. “Just having a list of Pythagorean triples doesn’t help you much. That’s just a list of numbers. But when you arrange it in such a way so that you can use any known ratio of a triangle to find the other sides of a triangle, then it becomes trigonometry. That’s what we can use this fragment for.”

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What Humpback Whales Can Teach Us About Compassion
2017-08-18, Smithsonian.com
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-humpback-whales-teach-us-co...

[Humpbacks whales] deliberately interfere with attacking killer whales to help others in distress. They don’t just defend their own babies or close relatives. They intervene on behalf of other species - a gray whale calf with its mother, a seal hauled out on an ice floe, even an ocean sunfish. Humpbacks act to improve the welfare of others; the classic definition of altruism. Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist ... describes a pivotal encounter he witnessed in Antarctica in 2009. A group of killer whales washed a Weddell seal they were attacking off an ice floe. A pair of humpbacks ... inserted themselves into the action. One of the huge humpbacks rolled over on its back and the 180-kilogram seal was swept up onto its chest between the whale’s massive flippers. And when the seal started slipping off, the humpback, according to Pitman, “gave the seal a gentle nudge with its flipper, back to the middle of its chest. Moments later, the seal scrambled off and swam to the safety of a nearby ice floe.” Pitman started asking people to send him similar accounts. Soon he was poring through observations of 115 encounters between humpbacks and killer whales, recorded over 62 years. So are humpbacks compassionate? When I pose the ... question to Pitman he [responds], “When a human protects an imperiled individual of another species, we call it compassion. If a humpback whale does so, we call it instinct. But sometimes the distinction isn’t all that clear.”

Note: Learn more about the amazing world of marine mammals.


All slaughterhouses in England to have compulsory CCTV
2017-08-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/11/all-slaughterhouses-in-en...

All slaughterhouses in England will be fitted with compulsory CCTV under plans to be unveiled on Friday by environment secretary Michael Gove, as part of a series of measures to bolster welfare standards and enforce laws against animal cruelty. The government will also raise standards for farm animals and domestic pets by modernising statutory animal welfare codes to reflect enhancements in medicines, technological advances and the latest research and advice from vets. The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat. Animal welfare groups have been calling for compulsory cameras – backed by an independent monitoring system for years, while the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, British Veterinary Association, Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the RSPCA have also all backed slaughterhouse CCTV. Between 2009 and 2016, the animal welfare group Animal Aid secretly filmed inside 11 randomly chosen UK slaughterhouses. Their undercover researchers found clear evidence of cruelty and law-breaking in 10 of those 11. UK supermarkets have also backed compulsory CCTV, with the vast majority now insisting that their suppliers have it.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Sowing seeds of hope in Harlem's children
2017-08-10, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/10/health/cnn-hero-tony-hillery-harlem-grown/index...

Six years ago, Tony Hillery was volunteering at a New York City public school in Harlem. In the lunchroom one day, he met a kindergartner who told him that tomatoes grew in the supermarket. "It was a real conversation, and she was adamant," he recalled. "And then I did an informal poll with the other students, and they agreed. They had no idea what is healthy food or where it comes from." Many students lived at or below the poverty line, he said, and lacked affordable, fresh food. But Hillery was shocked to find that many children couldn't properly identify vegetables. Across the street from the school was an abandoned community garden, and Hillery had an idea. He made a few calls, registered it with the city and turned it into what has become a thriving urban farm. "I got this big patch of dirt in the middle of Harlem, and I had never planted anything prior to then," he said. Today, his nonprofit, Harlem Grown, has 10 urban farms throughout the neighborhood. Hillery and his staff teach children how to grow food from seed to harvest and cook healthy meals using the fruits of their labor. Yet Hillery insists that urban farming is the hook to engage the youth. Then his group further enriches their lives through mentoring and exposure to higher education and possible career paths. "The whole world can come through this little farm," said Hillery, whose programs reach more than 4,000 young people a year. "Poverty is just lack of access. We bring that access and that opportunity here to them."

Note: Don't miss the video of this incredible project at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New device can heal with a single touch, and even repair brain injuries
2017-08-07, USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/08/07/miracle-device-can-...

A new device developed at The Ohio State University can start healing organs in a "fraction of a second," researchers say. The technology, known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), has the potential to save the lives of car crash victims and even deployed soldiers injured on site. It's a dime-sized silicone chip that "injects genetic code into skin cells, turning those skin cells into other types of cells required for treating diseased conditions," according to a release. And, it not only works on skin cells, it can restore any type of tissue, Chandan Sen, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, said. For example, the technology restored brain function in a mouse who suffered a stroke by growing brain cells on its skin. This is a breakthrough technology, because it's the first time cells have been reprogrammed in a live body. “This technology does not require a laboratory or hospital and can actually be executed in the field," Sen said. "It’s less than 100 grams to carry and will have a long shelf life.” It is awaiting FDA approval, but Sen, who has been working on this for four years, expects TNT will be tested on humans within the year. He says he's talking with Walter Reed National Medical Center now. "We are proposing the use of skin as an agricultural land where you can essentially grow any cell of interest," Sen said.

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U.S. Nuclear Comeback Stalls as Two Reactors Are Abandoned
2017-07-31, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/climate/nuclear-power-project-canceled-in-...

In a major blow to the future of nuclear power in the United States, two South Carolina utilities said on Monday that they would abandon two unfinished nuclear reactors in the state, putting an end to a project that was ... plagued by delays and cost overruns. The two reactors, which have cost the utilities roughly $9 billion, remain less than 40 percent built. The cancellation means there are just two new nuclear units being built in the country - both in Georgia - while more than a dozen older nuclear plants are being retired in the face of low natural gas prices. Originally scheduled to come online by 2018, the V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina had been plagued by disputes with regulators and numerous construction problems. Under South Carolina law, the utilities were allowed to charge ratepayers for construction costs before the reactors were finished. The nuclear project now accounts for 18 percent of the electric bills of South Carolina Electric & Gas’s residential customers. Santee Cooper, a state-owned utility, has increased rates five times to pay for the reactors. Some environmental groups are now urging state regulators to refund those charges, arguing that the companies misled their customers. “It was evident from the start that cost overruns, schedule delays and problems with an untested construction method” would doom the project, said Tom Clements, a senior adviser at Friends of the Earth. State regulators have set a hearing on the issue for October.

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Driving Tesla’s Model 3 Changes Everything
2017-07-31, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-31/driving-tesla-s-model-3-ch...

If you’ve ever driven Tesla’s flagship vehicle - the $140,000 Model S P100D - you’ve experienced an unparalleled version of driving power. Zero to 60 in 2.3 seconds punches you back in the seat. Some people live for that feeling. I’m not one of them. After taking one of the first drives of Tesla’s new Model 3 last week, I came away thinking that CEO Elon Musk has finally delivered an electric car for the everyday road tripper like me. The Model 3 still has plenty of pickup, [and] gets a stunning 310 miles on a charge. The fact that this car still looks, drives, and feels like a Tesla - at a starting price of $35,000 - shows how far the Silicon Valley automaker has come. At current battery prices, Tesla is setting a new standard for value in an electric car. Since Musk handed over keys to the first 30 cars on Friday, I’ve heard a lot of people trying to compare the Model 3 to GM’s all-electric Chevy Bolt. Although they’re similarly priced and both run on batteries, the parallel ends there. The Bolt is basically an economy gasoline car that’s been electrified; the Model 3 is, well, something altogether different. Tesla aims to sell 500,000 electric cars next year. The bigger battery is a gamechanger. Only one other electric car in the world has broken the 300-mile range barrier: the most expensive version of Tesla’s Model S, an ultra-luxury car that starts at $97,500. The new Model 3 has won Tesla the trophy for cheapest range for the money, defeating the $37,500 Bolt, which is outclassed by the Model 3 in virtually every category.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A former exec at Trader Joe’s grows another kind of grocery store
2017-06-23, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2017/0623/A-former-exec-a...

[Dave] Rauch worked for 31 years at Trader Joe’s, the last 14 as a president. He helped grow the small retail chain in California into a grocery store with a national presence. He retired in 2008. But Rauch wasn’t really ready to call it quits. He started growing another food store – Daily Table, located in a low-income neighborhood of Boston. “I failed retirement,” says Rauch, his eyes crinkling when he smiles. Since it opened two years ago, Daily Table has been a pioneer in its approach to food waste, food deserts, hunger, and obesity. It’s a nonprofit grocery store, selling healthy food at bargain prices. The food that Daily Table sells is excess food – either donated by various organizations or bought at steep discounts from big-name companies looking to unload items that are close to their expiration dates. The items are resold at a fraction of retail prices – and yes, they still haven’t reached their expiration dates. Daily Table looks like a Trader Joe’s. [The store is filled with] stacks of organic cereal, produce piled high on display tables, and in a refrigerated section, precooked meals and fresh salads made on-site. As many as 49 million Americans are food insecure, says Rauch, citing a common statistic. The data have frustrated him. “We’re one of the richest nations in the history of food production,” he says. “It just seemed so incongruous to me.” To get excess healthy food into the hands of those in need, Rauch searched for “inefficiencies in the system.” He found them and channeled what he learned into Daily Table.

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Why Weight Training Is Ridiculously Good For You
2017-06-06, Time
http://time.com/4803697/bodybuilding-strength-training/

Modern exercise science shows that working with weights - whether that weight is a light dumbbell or your own body - may be the best exercise for lifelong physical function and fitness. Brad Schoenfeld, an assistant professor of exercise science at New York City’s Lehman College ... has published more than 30 academic papers on every aspect of resistance training - from the biomechanics of the push-up to the body’s nutrient needs following a hard lift. Later in life, bone tissue losses accelerate and outpace the creation of new bone. This loss of bone tissue leads to the weakness and postural problems that plague many older adults. “Resistance training counteracts all those bone losses and postural deficits,” he says. For anyone at risk for metabolic conditions - type-2 diabetes, but also high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome - strength training is among the most-effective remedies. Strength training also seems to be a potent antidote to inflammation, a major risk factor for heart disease and other conditions. More research has linked strength training to improved focus and cognitive function, better balance, less anxiety and greater well-being. If all that isn’t convincing enough ... perhaps this is: maintaining strength later in life “seems to be one of the best predictors of survival," says [University of Michigan professor Mark] Peterson. “When we add strength ... almost every health outcome improves.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


From Addiction to Academy Founder: Dr Teri DeLane Teaches Kids to Trust
2017-05-15, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1590/from-addiction-to-academy-founder-dr-teri...

Founder and principal of San Francisco’s Life Learning Academy, Dr. Teri Delane says that the success of the school that serves the city’s highest-risk, highest-need students can be replicated. The school tracks a 99% graduation rate with 85% of the students going on to college. The kids that do so well here [have] histories of school failure, truancy, arrest and substance abuse. The ones that traditional school settings can’t provide for. [Life Learning Academy] has it roots in the Delancey Street Foundation, a well-known San Francisco-based self-help program for drug addicts and ex-offenders. Delane ... has first hand experience of the Delancey Street program - entering the program as an addict herself. Delane incorporated practices of the program that would could be integrated into a school environment: creating community, engagement, leadership, dress code and working toward rewards. And woven through it all is Delane’s philosophy. “What we do at the school is a circle around the kids with a number of things that have to be included in their lives in order for them to have a full life: education, a job, having money and ... learning how to give back,” she said. “I teach that the way you get is by giving. Not by sitting around talking about your problems. We don’t stay stuck in our past.” All the students know Delane’s background, see what she has accomplished and witness her giving back every day.

Note: Listen to an interview with this amazing school's founder. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Cycling to work can cut cancer and heart disease, says study
2017-04-20, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39641122

Want to live longer? Reduce your risk of cancer? And heart disease? Then cycle to work, say scientists. The biggest study into the issue linked using two wheels with a halving of the risk of cancer and heart disease. The five-year study of 250,000 UK commuters also showed walking had some benefits over sitting on public transport or taking the car. The ... study compared people who had an "active" commute with those who were mostly stationary. Overall, 2,430 of those studied died, 3,748 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,110 had heart problems. But, during the course of the study, regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%. The cyclists clocked an average of 30 miles per week, but the further they cycled the greater the health boon. Walking cut the odds of developing heart disease but the benefit was mostly for people walking more than six miles per week. "This is really clear evidence that people who commute in an active way, particularly by cycling, were at lower risk," Dr Jason Gill, from the University of Glasgow, told the BBC News website. People who combined cycling and public transport in their commute also showed health benefits. Clare Hyde from Cancer Research UK said: "This study helps to highlight the potential benefits of building activity into your everyday life. "You don't need to join a gym or run the marathon. "Anything that gets you a bit hot and out of breath ... can help make a difference."

Note: This study was published in the British Medical Journal. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New York approves free tuition. Here are 10 more states with cheap college costs
2017-04-10, CNBC News
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/10/new-york-approves-free-tuition-heres-10-more-s...

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Earthing: How Walking Barefoot Could Cure Your Insomnia & More
2017-04-05, Goop.com
http://goop.com/earthing-how-walking-barefoot-could-cure-your-insomnia-more/

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The U.S. Military Believes People Have a Sixth Sense
2017-04-03, Time Magazine
http://time.com/4721715/phenomena-annie-jacobsen/

In 2014, the Office of Naval Research embarked on a four-year, $3.85 million research program to explore the phenomena it calls premonition and intuition. “We have to understand what gives rise to this so-called ‘sixth sense,’ says Peter Squire, a program officer in ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism department. Today’s Navy scientists place less emphasis on trying to understand the phenomena theoretically and more on using technology to examine the mysterious process, which Navy scientists assure the public is not based on superstition. “If the researchers understand the process, there may be ways to accelerate it — and possibly spread the powers of intuition throughout military units,” says Dr. Squire. Because of the stigma of ESP and PK, the nomenclature has changed, allowing the Defense Department to distance itself from its remote-viewing past. Under the Perceptual Training Systems and Tools banner, extrasensory perception has a new name in the modern era: “sensemaking.” Since 1972, CIA and DoD research indicates that premonition, or precognition, appears to be weak in some, strong in others, and extraordinary in a rare few. Will the Navy’s contemporary work on “sensemaking,” the continuous effort to understand the connections among people, places, and events, finally unlock the mystery of ESP? Might technology available to today’s defense scientists reveal hypotheses not available to scientists in an earlier age?

Note: The above was written by Annie Jacobson, journalist and author of the bestselling book, "Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government's Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis." Learn more about government-sponsored research and work with ESP and remote viewing on this excellent web page.


Meet the Boy Who Believes He Was Lou Gehrig in a Past Life (His Mom Is Convinced, Too)
2017-03-21, People Magazine
http://people.com/books/meet-the-boy-who-believes-he-was-lou-gehrig-in-a-past...

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.”

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Meet 'Sesame Street's' muppet with autism
2017-03-20, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/20/entertainment/sesame-street-julia-autism/

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."

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In world first, Iceland to require firms to prove equal pay
2017-03-08, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-iceland-equal-pay-20170308-...

Iceland will be the first country in the world to make employers prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality. The government said it will introduce legislation to parliament this month, requiring all employers with more than 25 staff to obtain certification to prove they give equal pay for work of equal value. While other countries, and the U.S. state of Minnesota, have equal-salary certificate policies, Iceland is thought to be the first to make it mandatory for both private and public firms. The North Atlantic island nation, which has a population of about 330,000, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022. Equality and Social Affairs Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson said "the time is right to do something radical about this issue. Equal rights are human rights. We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace. It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that." Iceland has been ranked the best country in the world for gender equality by the World Economic Forum, but Icelandic women still earn, on average, 14 to 18 percent less than men. In October thousands of Icelandic women left work at 2:38 p.m. and demonstrated outside parliament to protest the gender pay gap. Women's rights groups calculate that after that time each day, women are working for free. The new legislation is expected to be approved by Iceland's parliament. The government hopes to implement it by 2020.

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Half of all new cars in Norway are now electric or hybrid
2017-03-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/norway-half-new-cars-electric...

Norway said that electric or hybrid cars represented half of new registrations in the country so far in 2017, as Norway continues its trend towards becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries in the world. According to figures from the Road Traffic Information Council (OFV) ... sales of electric cars accounted for 17.6 per cent of new vehicle registrations in January and hybrid cars accounted for 33.8 per cent, for a combined 51.4 per cent. Norway already has the highest per capita number of all-electric cars in the world. The milestone is also particularly significant as a large proportion of Norway’s funds rely on the country’s petroleum industry. "This is a milestone on Norway's road to an electric car fleet," Climate and Environment minister Vidar Helgesen [said]. “The transport sector is the biggest challenge for climate policy in the decade ahead. We need to reduce (CO2) emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030," he added. Last year, the government agreed on a proposal to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered car starting in 2025. It also aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of new cars to 85 grams per kilometre by 2020 - a goal it has almost achieved: : the figure stood at 88 grams in February compared to 133 grams when the decision was taken five years ago. In December, Norway registered its 100,000th electric car. Norway has also become the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation.

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Denmark reduces food waste by 25% in five years with the help of one woman
2017-02-28, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/denmark-reduce-food-waste-25-...

Never underestimate the power of one dedicated individual. A woman has been credited by the Danish Government for single-handedly helping the country reduce its food waste by 25 per cent in just five years. Selina Juul, who moved from Russian to Denmark when she was 13 years old, was shocked by the amount of food available and wasted at supermarkets. She told the BBC: “I come from a country where there were food shortages, we had the collapse of infrastructure, communism collapsed, we were not sure we could get food on the table”. Her organisation, Stop Spild Af Mad – which translates as Stop Wasting Food – made all the difference and is recognised as one of the key drivers behind the government’s focus to tackle food waste. Ms Juul convinced Rema 1000, the country’s biggest low-cost supermarket chain, to replace all its quantity discounts with single item discounts to minimise food waste. The retailer wasted about 80 to 100 bananas every day. However, after the supermarket put up a sign saying "take me I’m single", it reduced the waste on bananas by 90 per cent. In the past five years Denmark has become one of the leading European countries in the fight against food waste. Last year, a charity in Copenhagen opened Denmark’s first ever food surplus supermarket, which sells products at prices 30 to 50 per cent cheaper than usual retailers. Wefood is hoping to help reduce the 700,000 tonnes of food waste Denmark produces every year.

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Muslim activists raise over $70,000 to aid vandalized Jewish cemetery
2017-02-22, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/US/muslim-activists-raise-60000-aid-vandalized-jewish-c...

As of early Wednesday morning, a crowdfunding campaign started by Muslim activists had raised over $70,000 in an effort to help repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery. "Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration against the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery," read the crowdfunding campaign's website, which was spearheaded by Muslim-American activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi. The effort comes after more than 170 headstones were damaged late Sunday or early Monday at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, located in the St. Louis suburb of University City. The incident at the cemetery comes amid a spate of threats directed at Jewish centers across the nation this year. The FBI and the Justice Department announced earlier this week that they would investigate the multiple bomb threats directed toward at least 60 Jewish centers, including 11 threats made on Monday alone. The fundraisers for the "Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery" campaign said they launched the campaign in an effort to "send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities" and to condemn "hate, desecration, and violence." The campaign said the proceeds would go directly to the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, and that any additional funds leftover after the cost of restoration would "assist other vandalized Jewish centers nationwide.”

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Chicago-based organization helps people leave hate groups
2017-02-21, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-based-organizati...

The tattoo on Shannon Martinez's leg gives away her past. By 16, she was a skinhead spouting white supremacist rhetoric, giving stiff-armed Nazi salutes and tagging public property with swastikas. Fortified by the love of an adopted family, Martinez left the skinheads behind. Today she's helping others do the same as part of an emerging U.S. movement that helps people quit hate organizations. Modeled loosely upon organizations that formed in Europe years ago to combat extremism, groups and individuals are offering counseling, education and understanding to extremists seeking a way out. Now a 42-year-old mom who homeschools her kids at their house in Georgia, Martinez volunteers with Life After Hate, a leading organization dedicated to helping people leave white supremacy. On Facebook, she shares her story with others who've left or are looking to leave extremism. Founded in 2009, Life After Hate was awarded a $400,000 Justice Department grant in the closing days of the Obama administration. While several other grant recipients are dedicated to countering radical Muslim ideology, Life After Hate concentrates specifically on showing white extremists there's another way. The group operates a website where people who want to explore leaving white extremism can submit contact information. It also conducts educational and counseling programs including the Facebook group where members sometimes chat with extremists trying to change their lives.

Note: The Life after Hate website provides inspiring stories and great resources for healing extremism with loving community.


Jimmy Carter Makes a Stand for Solar
2017-02-11, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/11/us/jimmy-carter-solar-energy-plains-ga.htm...

The solar panels - 3,852 of them - shimmered above 10 acres of Jimmy Carter’s soil where peanuts and soybeans used to grow. 38 years after Mr. Carter installed solar panels at the White House, only to see them removed during Ronald Reagan’s administration, the former president is leasing part of his family’s farmland for [the] project. It is, Mr. Carter and energy experts said, a small-scale effort that could hold lessons for other pockets of pastoral America in an age of climate change and political rancor. “I hope that we’ll see a realization on the part of the new administration that one of the best ways to provide new jobs - good-paying and productive and innovative jobs - is through the search for renewable sources of energy,” Mr. Carter, 92, said in an interview. Although Mr. Carter, now decades removed from the night in February 1977 when he donned a cardigan sweater and spoke of the country’s “energy problem,” remains a keen student of energy policy, the solar project is also an extension of his legacy. The project on Mr. Carter’s land, which feeds into Georgia Power’s grid and earns the former first family less than $7,000 annually, did not need to be large to serve much of Plains, population 683 or so. It began when a solar firm, SolAmerica, approached Mr. Carter’s grandson Jason Carter about the possibility of installing panels here. The former president, who was 11 when his boyhood home got running water after his father installed a windmill, did not need convincing and became deeply involved with the project, writing notes in the margins of the lease agreement and visiting the site regularly.

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The staggering bravery of a Muslim immigrant foster father who has devoted the past two decades to caring for dozens of terminally ill children
2017-02-09, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4206590/Libyan-Muslim-immigrant-cares...

To foster any child takes an extraordinary amount of selfless love and devotion. But one man in Los Angeles has taken on an even more monumental role: caring for the city's dying children. Mohamed Bzeek is ... a devout Libyan-born Muslim who has spent the last 20 years giving hope and comfort to children no other person would touch - ten of whom have died. 'The key is, you have to love them like your own,' Bzeek told the Los Angeles Times. 'I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.' Bzeek, 62, moved to the US ... in 1978. He began fostering children in 1989, and in 1991 he experienced his first death. The girl had been affected in the womb by pesticides sprayed on her farm-worker mother, and her spine was so deformed that she had to wear a full body cast. She was in his home for just a year when she passed away. Bzeek still has a photograph of the girl. Now, Bzeek is caring for a girl who was born with encephalocele, which left her mentally and physically underdeveloped. She is blind and deaf, paralyzed in her arms and legs, and suffers seizures every day. But Bzeek keeps a vigil, day and night, over her tiny body, to make sure she has as much comfort as he can give her. 'I know she can’t hear, can't see, but I always talk to her,' he said. 'I'm always holding her, playing with her, touching her. … She has feelings. She has a soul. She's a human being.' Doctors gave up hope on the girl ... when she was two years old. She is now six.

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Silicon Valley's largest tech accelerator is funding an experiment in crowdfunded healthcare
2017-02-08, Business Insider
http://www.businessinsider.com/y-combinator-experiment-universal-healthcare-2...

Crowdfunding gets a lot of attention when it gives rise to oddball games. But Silicon Valley's largest startup accelerator believes the real bet is on crowdfunded healthcare. Y Combinator, the company responsible for launching Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit, has announced that it will invest in Watsi - a nonprofit that has brought healthcare to more than 11,000 people in 24 countries through nearly 22,000 online donations. Sam Altman, president of YC, explains that Watsi's approach to healthcare avoids a huge number of operational inefficiencies. A recent report from the World Health Organization calculated that 20-40% of all health spending worldwide gets wasted. But Watsi's crowdfunding model makes transparency a top priority - each patient's received donations and healthcare provider are logged in a master spreadsheet available on Watsi's website. "Funding individual patients encourages more people to donate, but it also results in patient-level data that makes it easier to identify fraud, evaluate the quality of care, measure health outcomes, etc.," Watsi co-founder Chase Adam [said]. When a family visits a hospital that has partnered with Watsi, but the patient can't afford to pay for the necessary care, a staff member will ask if they want to put their case on the site. If he or she agrees, the site's donors will then have the opportunity to make online donations straight to the patient. The company has also created a general fund that people ... can donate to if all patients on Watsi have already been funded.

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Iceland’s new PM is a 41-year-old anti-war feminist and environmentalist
2017-02-02, Metro.co.uk
http://metro.co.uk/2017/12/02/icelands-new-pm-is-a-41-year-old-anti-war-femin...

Iceland’s new prime minister is a 41-year-old anti-war feminist, democratic socialist, who is also an expert on crime literature. Katrin Jakobsdottir plans to make the small island nation a world-leader in fighting climate change. Her Left-Green Movement will lead a coalition government with two parties across the political spectrum in the hope it gives Iceland some ‘stability’. The country has been rocked by a cycle of scandals that have triggered three elections in the past four years. A snap election was called by former PM Bjarni Benediktsson in September over a furore caused by his father suggesting a paedophile who repeatedly raped his stepdaughter for 12 years should have his ‘honour restored’. Less than a year earlier, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped aside as prime minister amid public fury over the Panama Papers revealing his family had sheltered money in offshore tax havens. In an attempt to break with the past, Jakobsdottir campaigned on a platform of restoring trust in government and leveraged a boom in tourism to increase public spending. She is now among the world’s youngest leaders. Jakobsdottir’s cabinet will be comprised of three members of her Left-Green party, five from the right-wing Independence Party and three from the Progressive Party. ‘In the new government, parties spanning the political spectrum from left to right intend to establish a new tone,’ a statement issued by the new prime minister’s office said.

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Groups begin bailing out strangers to free poor from jail
2017-01-30, Seattle Times (One of Seattle, WA's leading newspapers)
http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/groups-begin-bailing-out-strangers-t...

Activists who say too many poor people are unfairly languishing in U.S. jails because they can’t afford to post cash bail are increasingly deploying a new tactic: Bailing out strangers. Community groups are collecting donations from individuals, churches, cities and other organizations in more than a dozen cities, including New York, Chicago, Seattle and Nashville, to bail out indigent prisoners. They’ve freed several thousand people in the last few years, and the number is growing. The overwhelming majority of defendants still show up for court. Once free, the defendants are better able to fight their case, often leading to charges being dropped or reduced. “Many, many people are having their lives ruined pre-trial because they can’t afford to get out of jail,” said Max Suchan, who co-founded the Chicago Community Bond Fund, which had bailed out 50 people as of December. The bail funds are a step toward a larger goal for some legal reform activists: abolishing the cash bail system. Advocates say it creates two unequal tiers of justice: one for people who can afford bail and one for people who can’t. In Chicago the anti-cash bail movement has a seemingly unlikely ally in Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. He argues the cash system should be abolished and replaced with more thorough background checks; if a person is considered dangerous, they stay in jail and if they’re not, they go free, with access to services such as drug-addiction counseling if needed.

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‘James Bond of Philanthropy’ Gives Away the Last of His Fortune
2017-01-05, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/nyregion/james-bond-of-philanthropy-gives-...

Nearly five years ago, Charles F. Feeney sat in a cushy armchair in an apartment on the east side of Manhattan, grandchildren’s artwork taped to the walls, and said that by the end of 2016, he was going to hand out the last of a great fortune that he had made. It was a race: Mr. Feeney was then 81, and Atlantic Philanthropies, a collection of private foundations he had started and funded, still had about $1.5 billion left. Writing checks willy-nilly was not Mr. Feeney’s way. Last month, Mr. Feeney and Atlantic completed the sprint and made a final grant, $7 million to Cornell University, to support students doing community service work. He had officially emptied his pockets, meeting his aspiration of “giving while living.” Altogether, he had contributed $8 billion to his philanthropies, which have supported higher education, public health, human rights and scientific research. None of the major American philanthropists have given away a greater proportion of their wealth, and starting in 1982, Mr. Feeney did most of this in complete secrecy, leading Forbes magazine to call him the “James Bond of philanthropy.” For years, Atlantic’s support came with a requirement that the beneficiaries not publicize its involvement. Beyond Mr. Feeney’s reticence about blowing his own horn, “it was also a way to leverage more donations - some other individual might contribute to get the naming rights,” said Christopher G. Oechsli, the president and chief executive officer of Atlantic.

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Solar and wind power cheaper than fossil fuels for the first time
2017-01-05, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/solar-and-wind-power-cheaper-than-fo...

Solar energy is now cheaper than traditional fossil fuels. Solar and wind is now either the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum. The influential foundation has described the change as a "tipping point" that could make fighting climate change into a profitable form of business for energy companies. But investors and energy firms are still failing to put money into such green solutions despite the fact that they are cheaper than more traditional forms of electricity generation. “Renewable energy has reached a tipping point – it now constitutes the best chance to reverse global warming,” said Michael Drexler, Head of Long Term Investing, Infrastructure and Development at the World Economic Forum. Just ten years ago, generating electricity through solar cost about $600 per MWh, and it cost only $100 to generate the same amount of power through coal and natural gas. But ... today it only costs around $100 the generate the same amount of electricity through solar and $50 through wind. The cheap price of solar and wind energy is already encouraging companies to build more plants to harvest it. The US is adding about 125 solar panels every minute ... and investment in renewables in 2015 rose to $286 billion, up 5 per cent from the year before. Even despite that cheap price ... the worldwide investment is only 25 per cent of the $1 trillion goal set in the landmark Paris climate change accord.

Note: Why are most of the media in the US hardly reporting this inspiring news at all? Read more on this great news in this informative essay.


Costa Rica's electricity was produced almost entirely from renewable sources in 2016
2017-01-02, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/costa-rica-renewable-energy-electric...

Almost all Costa Rica's electricity was produced by renewable energy in 2016. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said that around 98.1 per cent of the country’s electricity came from green sources. These included large hydropower facilities, fed by a myriad of rivers and heavy seasonal rains, geothermal plants, wind turbines, solar panels and biomass plants. The country used carbon-free electricity for more than 250 days last year with a continuous 110-day stretch from 17 June until 6 October. Science and environment journalist Maria Gallucci described the tropical country as "a verdant gem amid a pile of black coal rocks". In comparison, less than 15 per cent of the US electricity supply for January to October 2016 was renewable. Coal and natural gas together made up nearly two-thirds of the US electricity generation over that period and nuclear power provided the remaining 19 per cent. ICE president Carlos Manuel Obregón said he expected renewable power generation to stay “stable” in Costa Rica in 2017. The country, which hosts more than five per cent of the world’s species biodiversity despite a landmass that covers 0.03 per cent of the planet, has recently set up four new wind farms. Costa Rican clean development adviser Dr Monica Araya has said the extent of Costa Rica's renewable electricity generation is a “fantastic achievement".

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This 13-year-old formed a charity that has helped provide 500,000-plus meals
2016-12-21, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2016/1221/Thi...

Since the tender age of 7, Will has been focused on feeding the hungry. It all started when he saw a man on a street corner begging for food, and he decided he wanted to do something about it. With the help of his parents – Julie, a teacher, and Bill, a financial adviser – he established the charity Friends Reaching Our Goals, or FROGs. He named the organization himself ... and designed FROGs with a dual purpose: to inspire youths to carry out service work in their communities and to feed those at risk of going hungry. That was October 2010. Since then, he has helped provide more than 500,000 meals to those in need. He raises funds, he plans, he ropes in friends, and more. Tonight he is serving Asian-themed dishes as part of the monthly FROGs Dinner Club, a central event. Each time, Will and his fellow volunteers aim to serve a free, fresh meal with the twist that the recipients be introduced to new foods and healthier options. This go-round, honey-seared chicken is dished up with brown or white rice alongside Vietnamese chicken salad rolls. And edamame. “When I was 7, I was riding home from a Little League baseball game when I saw a man on a street corner who held a sign that said, ‘Need Meal,’ ” Will elaborates. “And it made me sad to realize that there are people in my community who didn’t have enough food to eat. So I started FROGs. Our motto is to have fun while helping others.” Will’s efforts have helped amass $852,000 worth of food items for hunger-fighting charities.

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World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That's Cheaper Than Wind
2016-12-15, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-15/world-energy-hits-a-turnin...

A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity. This has happened in isolated projects in the past. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects. While solar was bound to fall below wind eventually, given its steeper price declines, few predicted it would happen this soon. “Solar investment has gone from nothing ... five years ago to quite a lot,” said Ethan Zindler, head of U.S. policy analysis at BNEF. “A huge part of this story is China, which has been rapidly deploying solar” and helping other countries finance their own projects. The world recently passed a turning point and is adding more capacity for clean energy each year than for coal and natural gas combined. Peak fossil-fuel use for electricity may be reached within the next decade. Thursday’s BNEF report, called Climatescope, ranks and profiles emerging markets for their ability to attract capital for low-carbon energy projects. The top-scoring markets were China, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, and India. For populations still relying on expensive kerosene generators, or who have no electricity at all, and for those living in the dangerous smog of thickly populated cities, the shift to renewables and increasingly to solar can’t come soon enough.

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Forgiveness Ceremony Unites Veterans And Natives At Standing Rock
2016-12-05, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/forgiveness-ceremony-unites-veterans-and-...

Native Americans conducted a forgiveness ceremony with U.S. veterans at the Standing Rock casino, giving the veterans an opportunity to atone for military actions conducted against Natives throughout history. In celebration of Standing Rock protesters’ victory [towards] halting construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, Leonard Crow Dog formally forgave Wes Clark Jr., the son of retired U.S. Army general and former supreme commander at NATO, Wesley Clark Sr.. Salon published Clark’s apology to the Natives, which read as follows: "Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. When we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness." This was a historically symbolic gesture forgiving centuries of oppression against Natives and honoring their partnership in defending the land from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Chief Leonard Crow Dog offered forgiveness and urged for world peace, responding that “we do not own the land, the land owns us.”

Note: A beautiful, two-minute video shows these U.S. veterans apologizing to Native Americans for stealing and pillaging their land demonstrates how our times are changing. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


26 years later, mom helps free man who shot her during robbery
2016-11-28, Today.com
https://www.today.com/kindness/mom-helps-get-man-who-shot-her-face-freed-pris...

The last time Ian Manuel came face to face with Debbie Baigrie, he shot her in the mouth during a robbery. More than 26 years later, they met again in a Florida gas station parking lot, just hours after Manuel’s release from prison. “Ian and I got out of the cars and we hugged for two minutes,” Baigrie, 54, told TODAY. In 1990, Manuel was 13 and living in Tampa in one of the poorest, most violent housing projects in the state. One July evening, he ... approached Baigrie, who was out with friends. Manuel pulled a gun and told her to “give it up.” Then he started shooting. One of his bullets went into Baigrie’s mouth and out her jaw. Manuel was arrested. Although he was barely a teen, a judge noted his prior arrests and sentenced Manuel to life without parole. Manuel first reached out as he approached his second Christmas behind bar