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Inspirational News Articles

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Why a game in which you look for a real, live pink elephant could help save the world
2023-07-09, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2023/07/09/1185014763/why-a-game-in...

Edgard Gouveia Jr., 58, says the key to solving the world's problems is games. "I use games and narrative to mobilize crowds," says the Brazilian game inventor and co-founder of Livelab. He's worked with schools, companies, government offices and slums. "Games that can make a whole town, a whole city or even a whole country play together." And now he's developing a global game called "Jornada X" whose goal is to get kids and teenagers to save nothing less than all life on the planet. Through games and playful activities, we create a field of trust. When you create abundance of connection, abundance of possibility, people sense it right away. It doesn't matter if for 30 or 40 years they were living in scarcity. By belonging to a group that we love and that's doing good in the world – these are ways of energizing our collective power, our collective meaning. When you do some good, you feel like you have an identity. [Jornada X] starts with young people. They receive a call that's like a Matrix video that says, "Humanity isn't doing well. Society is violent and nature is dying. But you are one of a group of special kids with superpowers – things like love, helping others, strength, and friendship. As soon as they sign up, the team starts to receive missions. We might say, "Look at your neighborhood. What's wrong?" By the end of seven weeks, they have to find a solution ... Kids play war games all the time. They collaborate to kill people. It's not that they like death, but they want to have this kind of adrenaline. What could be more exciting? My answer is saving the planet in a way that adults haven't been able to."

Note: The latest US Air Force recruitment tool is a video game that allows players to receive in-game medals and achievements for drone bombing Iraqis and Afghans. What world do we want our youth to live in? Explore more positive stories like this in our inspiring news articles archive, which aims to inspire each of us to make a difference.


After The Genocide, Author Witnessed How Rwandans Defined Forgiveness
2019-04-09, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2019/04/09/711314421/after-the-genocide-author-witnessed-...

It happened 25 years ago - up to 800,000 people in Rwanda killed - mostly from the minority Tutsi community, all of that over the course of just a hundred days. Today the hundreds of thousands of people who carried out those killings live among their victims. Journalist and author Philip Gourevitch has witnessed the unique way Rwandans have defined and navigated forgiveness after the massacre. There was a lot of agency in the local level. And the experience of the genocide was extremely localized. People were killed by neighbors. It was intimate. They knew each other. And to simply ignore that wouldn't work. In order to navigate the aftermath of the genocide, the Rwandan government set up this nationwide reconciliation process. So they set up a system of community courts - without lawyers - to sort of repurpose a system that really had only been used for small claims mitigation in traditional Rwanda, called gacaca, and have open, communal - what we might call a town hall - format for trials. And then the idea was to hold people accountable and have a system of punishment. And this system banked very heavily on encouraging confession and rewarding it. But the confessions were supposed to be also verified by the community. The motto of the gacaca courts was, truth heals. Forgiveness doesn't require trust. Forgiveness simply means letting go of the idea of getting even, forgoing the idea of revenge. Right? Now, even that's a big ask. But it means accepting coexistence. There's never been as comprehensive a reckoning with such communal violence or mass atrocity. It was an ongoing, multi-year confrontation with the past in the communities.

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


How Taiwan's 'civic hackers' helped find a new way to run the country
2020-09-21, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/27/taiwan-civic-hackers-polis-cons...

It came to be known as the Sunflower movement, a sudden three-week stand-off in 2014 between the government and Taiwanese protesters. Months later, government officials arrived at a ... university campus to ask for the help of a group that few knew even existed: the civic hackers. Taiwan's civic hackers were organized around a leaderless collective called g0v (pronounced "gov zero.") Many believed in radical transparency ... and in the idea that everyone who is affected by a decision should have a say in it. They preferred establishing consensus to running lots of majority-rule votes. These were all principles, incidentally, that parallel thinking about how software should be designed – a philosophy that g0v had begun to apply to the arena of domestic politics. As g0v saw it, the problem of politics was essentially one of information. They needed a way not to measure division, but construct consensus. The hackers' answer was called vTaiwan. The platform invites citizens into an online space for debate that politicians listen to and take into account when casting their votes. As people expressed their views, rather than serving up the comments that were the most divisive, it gave the most visibility to those finding consensus. Soon, vTaiwan was being rolled out on issue after issue, especially those related to technology, and each time a hidden consensus was revealed. The system's potential to heal divisions, to reconnect people to politics, is a solution made for the problems of our age.

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. [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." 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 an incredibly moving 15-minute clip from an Emmy-award winning documentary on Challenge day. Learn more about this amazing program on the Challenge Day website.


'He's my angel. He gave me life': the breathtaking story of two enemy soldiers saving each other's lives
2021-09-10, CBC (Canada's Public Broadcasting System)
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/he-s-my-angel-he-gave-me-life-the-breathtaking...

The story of two enemies cuts through the darkness. It begins on a battlefield in the Iran-Iraq war, and ends 20 years later in a waiting room in Vancouver. The Iran-Iraq war began in 1980, and ended eight years later. It was the longest conventional war of the 20th century, claiming at least a million casualties. Najah Aboud was nearly one of them. Najah was severely wounded. He crawled off to a bunker, where he saw corpses from both sides and prepared himself to die. Zahed Haftlang ... was assigned as a medic. After the Iranians recaptured Khorramshahr in May 1982, Zahed was ordered to go into the bunkers and treat wounded countrymen. It was then that he ... spotted Najah near the back. Both men were suspicious of each other. Zahed thought Najah's body might be booby-trapped. Najah thought Zahed might kill him. Then Zahed reached into Najah's breast pocket and pulled out a photograph. It showed Najah, with a beautiful woman, and infant son. It was at that very moment that Zahed decided to save Najah's life, even though it meant risking his own. Najah was taken to a prisoner of war camp, where he'd remain in unspeakable conditions for the next 17 years. While reading magazines in [a Vancouver] waiting room, Zahed noticed the door open as another man entered the room. The two men erupted into shouts, hugs, kisses and tears. Their spectacular reunion happened two decades years after the battle of Khorramshahr and on the other side of the world. "Najah is like my family … he really is my angel, because he gave me life. After he got a new chance at life, he gave me a new chance at life. He is the dearest and most precious thing in the entire world to me."

Note: Don’t miss the powerful 16-min documentary about Zahed and Najah. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


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 webpage.


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.


Penguin travels every year to visit man who rescued him
2016-03-11, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/dindim-o-lindo-pinguim-1.3487668

Ever since a 71-year-old Brazilian man rescued a struggling penguin, he's been receiving regular visits from his feathered friend. Joao Pereira de Souza, a retired bricklayer, lives ... just off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. In 2011, he spotted a starving Magellanic penguin drenched in oil on the beach near his house. Naming the penguin Dindim, Pereira de Souza fed him every day until he was strong enough to leave, according to a video from the University of Rio de Janeiro. But the penguin refused to go. Pereira de Souza decided to row a boat out into the water and drop Dindim off to encourage him to swim home. But when he rowed back to shore, he found the penguin waiting for him. "He stayed with me for 11 months and then, just after he changed his coat with new feathers, he disappeared," Pereira de Souza told TV Globo, a Brazilian TV network. Magellanic penguins regularly swim thousands of kilometres a year to breeding spots on the coast of Argentina and Chile. From time to time, penguins show up in warmer Brazilian waters. Many of Pereira de Souza's friends thought that when Dindim finally left, that was it for the human-bird friendship. But a few months later, Dindim returned and found Pereira de Souza. He visits for about four months, a ritual kept for the last five years. "He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February, and every year he becomes more affectionate," Pereira de Souza told TV Globo. De Souza appears to be the only person who can get near Dindim. If others try, he pecks them or waddles away.

Note: Don't miss a video on this incredible friendship. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


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. Ruits technique had exactly the same outcome (98 percent success at a six-month follow-up) as the Western machines. One difference was that Dr. Ruits 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 didnt 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 todays energy needs. By Kurzweils 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. Their friends, family members 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 wastefrom dirty diapers to chemical weaponsby 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 its self-sustaining. Once the cycle is under way, the 2,200F 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 youd 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 isnt the only company using plasma to turn waste into a source of clean energy. A handful of start-upsGeoplasma, Recovered Energy, PyroGenesis, EnviroArc and Plasco Energy, among othershave entered the market in the past decade.

Note: Why hasn't this amazing, proven machine and technology made front page headlines? Read the exciting article at the link above to find how it is already being used. For why you don't know about it, read this excellent article on how such inventions are suppressed.


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. The visions to me [are] like he's explaining himself to me and what he does. " 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. 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
https://abcnews.go.com/amp/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: Watch an engaging ABC News video clip of this incredible story. Then enjoy an even better Fox News clip. Read an excellent online lesson presenting powerful evidence of past lives and more.


Strongest Dad in the World
2005-06-20, Canadian Runner/Sports Illustrated
https://web.archive.org/web/20060523211016/http://www.canadianrunner.com/cont...

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 on this webpage.


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. Read some of the most amazing of these cases and explore other excellent resources on the topic.


The '3.5% rule': How a small minority can change the world
2019-05-13, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190513-it-only-takes-35-of-people-to-cha...

In 1986, millions of Filipinos took to the streets of Manila in peaceful protest and prayer in the People Power movement. The Marcos regime folded on the fourth day. In 2003, the people of Georgia ousted Eduard Shevardnadze through the bloodless Rose Revolution, in which protestors stormed the parliament building holding the flowers in their hands. Earlier this year, the presidents of Sudan and Algeria both announced they would step aside after decades in office, thanks to peaceful campaigns of resistance. In each case, civil resistance by ordinary members of the public trumped the political elite to achieve radical change. There are, of course, many ethical reasons to use nonviolent strategies. But compelling research by Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, confirms that civil disobedience is not only the moral choice; it is also the most powerful way of shaping world politics. Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that ... it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change. Overall, nonviolent campaigns were twice as likely to succeed as violent campaigns: they led to political change 53% of the time compared to 26% for the violent protests. Of the 25 largest campaigns that they studied, 20 were nonviolent, and 14 of these were outright successes. Overall, the nonviolent campaigns attracted around four times as many participants (200,000) as the average violent campaign (50,000).

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Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet
2019-02-12, Common Dreams
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/02/12/study-shows-toxic-pesticide-leve...

A new peer-reviewed study shows that eating a completely organic diet - even for just one week - can dramatically reduce the presence of pesticide levels in people, a finding that was characterized as "groundbreaking" by critics of an industrial food system that relies heavily on synthetic toxins and chemicals to grow crops and raise livestock. The study ... found that switching to an organic diet significantly reduced the levels of synthetic pesticides found in all participants. "This study shows that organic works," said study co-author Kendra Klein, PhD. The study tested the urine of four diverse American families ... after eating their typical diet of conventional food for six days and then after a controlled diet of all organic food for six days. The pesticide and pesticide metabolite levels detected in participants dropped by an average 60.5 percent after just six days of eating the all-organic diet. Specifically, the testing showed significant reductions in pesticides associated in the past with increased risk of autism, cancers, autoimmune disorders, infertility, hormone disruption, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease. "This important study shows how quickly we can rid our bodies of toxic pesticides by choosing organic," said [study co-author] Sharyle Patton. "Congratulations to the families who participated in the study and their willingness to tell their stories in support of creating a food system where organic is available to all."

Note: Watch an engaging video on this study at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The City with no Homeless on its Streets
2019-01-31, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-46891392

Emerging from Helsinki's grandiose central railway station on a bitterly cold evening, it does not take long before you notice something unusual. There are no rough sleepers and no-one is begging. For the past 30 years, tackling homelessness has been a focus for successive governments in Finland. In 1987, there were more than 18,000 homeless people there. The latest figures from the end of 2017 show there were about 6,600 people classified as without a home. The vast majority are living with friends or family, or are housed in temporary accommodation. So how have the Finns managed it? Since 2007, their government has built homeless policies on the foundations of the "Housing First" principle. Put simply, it gives rough sleepers or people who become homeless a stable and permanent home of their own as soon as possible. It then provides them with the help and support they need. That may be supporting someone trying to tackle an addiction, assisting them to learn new skills, or helping them get into training, education or work. Under Housing First, the offer of a home is unconditional. Even if someone is still taking drugs or abusing alcohol they still get to stay in the house or flat, so long as they are interacting with support workers. In Helsinki, deputy mayor Ms Vesikansa believes tackling homelessness and ending rough sleeping is not only a moral obligation but may also save money in the long-run. "We know already that it pays back because we have expenses elsewhere if people are homeless," [she said].

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


Political rivals stun voters with unexpected duet
2018-10-19, CBS
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lucy-rogers-vermont-political-rivals-stun-voters...

In Lamoille County, Vermont ... everywhere you look, bursts of Lucy Rogers green, and Zac Mayo red, white and blue. "We don't need as much government," Zac said. He's the Republican. She's the Democrat. "I'm pretty centrally focused on healthcare," Lucy said. They're aggressively competing for a state House seat. Both have visited, or plan to visit, every single home in the district all 2,000 plus. The locals say they've never seen anything like it. But this highly competitive race took a dramatic turn recently. During their debate ... the candidates asked for a few extra minutes at the end. They stood up from their tables and began moving the furniture. No one knew what was coming. Indeed, what happened at the local library that night was totally unexpected and unprecedented in modern American politics. Political rivals Lucy Rogers and Zac Mayo shocked voters by coming together for a duet." Because we asked them if we could have a few minutes at the end to play a duet," Lucy said. "It strikes a chord," Zac said. "To say to the world that this is a better way." With that, the Democrat and the Republican united in perfect harmony. There weren't enough tissues to go around. "It marked a turning point for us," one person said. "It gave me a lot of hope," said another. The song they played that night -- and for us after -- is about longing for a less competitive society. Their rendition so resonated with folks in northern Vermont, CBS News actually saw houses that had signs for both candidates -- a clear indication that the winner of this race has already been decided: A landslide victory for civility.

Note: The Washington Post also carried a touching article on this inspiring event. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Banking the Most Valuable Currency: Time
2024-01-12, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/time-banks-valuable-currency-aging-communit...

A time bank does with time what other banks do with money: It stores and trades it. “Time banking means that for every hour you give to your community, you receive an hour credit,” explains Krista Wyatt, executive director of the DC-based nonprofit TimeBanks.Org, which helps volunteers establish local time banks all over the world. Thousands of time banks with several hundred thousand members have been established in at least 37 countries, including China, Malaysia, Japan, Senegal, Argentina, Brazil and in Europe, with over 3.2 million exchanges. There are probably more than 40,000 members in over 500 time banks in the US. Many time banks are volunteer community projects, but the one in Sebastopol, [CA] is funded by the city. “Every volunteer hour is valued around $29,” Wyatt calculates. “Now think about the thousands of dollars a city saves when hundreds of citizens serve their community for free.” The Sebastopol time bank has banked more than 8,000 hours since its launch in 2016. Five core principles ... guide time banks to this day: First, everyone has something to contribute. Second, valuing volunteering as “work.” Third, reciprocity or a “pay-it-forward” ethos. Fourth, community building, and fifth, mutual accountability and respect. “What captured me is that people are doing things out of their own good heart,” Wyatt says. “Many years ago, a woman ... said to [civil rights lawyer] Edgar Cahn, ‘I have nothing to give.’ Edgar Cahn listened and finally responded, ‘You have love to give.’ And the whole room just went silent.” Every hour of service is valued the same, no matter how much skill and expertise a task takes, whether it’s an hour keeping someone company, helping them file their taxes or repair a roof. Through a simple online platform, every member can offer and request services and then register the hours they served or received. Especially during and since the Covid pandemic, the bank has also been an antidote to the epidemic of loneliness.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Want Safer Streets? Cover Them in Art
2022-08-22, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/safer-streets-painted-intersections-crosswa...

Crosswalks don’t work. According to various studies, only between five and fifteen percent of drivers slow down at pedestrian crossings. The vast majority of drivers simply don’t pay attention to them. America’s deadly streetscape is the subject of The Street Project, a new PBS documentary about citizen-led efforts to make streets safer. When filmmaker Jennifer Boyd started making it, she assumed distracted driving must be behind the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths. But as she soon learned, digital screens are less of a culprit than most people realize. “Less than one percent of pedestrian deaths involved portable electronic devices,” she found. Instead, she discovered that two of the biggest factors are speeding and bigger cars. If speeding and visibility are the problem and crosswalks can’t stop it, color might. The Asphalt Art Initiative, a program funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, provides grants to create art to modify dangerous streets. One of these projects is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where artists and residents transformed a high-traffic commercial thoroughfare with a block-long asphalt mural, while students marked safe walking paths in the area with stencils and wheat paste. Overall, according to the Initiative, “the data showed a 50 percent drop in crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists and a 37 percent drop in crashes leading to injuries. Intersections with asphalt art saw a 17 percent reduction in total accidents.”

Note: Don't miss the great pictures and video of public art available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Press 3 for a pep talk from kindergartners. A new hotline gives you options for joy
2022-03-06, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2022/03/06/1084800784/peptoc-hotline-kindergarteners

Amid a crush of heavy news from around the world, who couldn't use some sage advice right now? Call a new hotline, and you'll get just that — encouraging words from a resilient group of kindergartners. Kids' voices will prompt you with a menu of options: If you're feeling mad, frustrated or nervous, press 1. If you need words of encouragement and life advice, press 2. If you need a pep talk from kindergartners, press 3. If you need to hear kids laughing with delight, press 4. For encouragement in Spanish, press 5. Pressing 3 leads to a chorus of kids sounding off a series of uplifting mantras: "Be grateful for yourself," offers one student. "If you're feeling up high and unbalanced, think of groundhogs," another chimes in. Peptoc, as the free hotline is called, is a project from the students of West Side Elementary, a small school in the town of Healdsburg, Calif. It was put together with the help of teachers Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss. Martin, who teaches the arts program at the school, says she was inspired by her students' positive attitudes, despite all they've been through — the pandemic, wildfires in the region and just the everyday challenges of being a kid. "I thought, you know, with this world being as it is, we all really needed to hear from them — their extraordinary advice and their continual joy," she said. Martin says she hopes the hotline will give callers a little respite from whatever it is they're going through, which — judging from the thousands of calls the hotline gets each day — is quite a lot. So the next time you need a little boost, dial Peptoc at 707-998-8410.

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


Digital Justice: Internet Co-ops Resist Net Neutrality Rollbacks
2018-10-02, Project Censored
https://www.projectcensored.org/15-digital-justice-internet-co-ops-resist-net...

More than 300 electric cooperatives across the United States are building their own Internet with high-speed fiber networks. These locally-owned networks are poised to do what federal and state governments and the marketplace have not accomplished. First, they are protecting open Internet access from the Internet service providers (ISPs) that stand to pocket the profits from the rollbacks of net neutrality the Trump administration announced. Second, they are making affordable and fast Internet accessible to anyone. In Detroit, for example, 40 percent of the population has no access of any kind to the Internet. Detroit residents started a grassroots movement called the Equitable Internet Initiative, through which locals have begun to build their own high-speed Internet. The initiative started by enlisting digital stewards—locals who were interested in working for the nonprofit coalition. They aim to build shared tools, like a forum and a secured emergency communication network—and to educate their communities on digital literacy. Just 30 of the more than 300 tribal reservations in the United States have Internet access. Seventeen tribal reservation communities in San Diego County have secured wireless Internet access under the Tribal Digital Village initiative. Another local effort, Co-Mo Electric Cooperative ... has organized to crowdfund the necessary resources to establish its own network. The biggest dilemma for cities is the erosion of the capacity for communities to solve their own problems. As a result, local Internet service providers are bringing the power back to their people.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


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 citys poorest residents told him they didnt want to be on the streets begging for money, but they didnt 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 Albuquerques Theres 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. Berrys 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.


Artist Transforms Guns To Make Music - Literally
2014-01-25, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2014/01/25/265794611/artist-transforms-guns-to-make-music-...

Pedro Reyes says being Mexican is like living in an apartment where an upstairs neighbor has a leaking swimming pool. "Just what is leaking," says Reyes, "is hundreds of thousands of guns." Reyes believes art should address social issues like gun violence, even when they're difficult and controversial. "We have to be allowed to ask questions," he says. "If you are not allowed to ask questions, you are not free." Reyes also addresses the issue of gun violence in another way, by using guns themselves. His first project began in 2007 in the Mexican city of Culiacan. As part of a campaign to curb shootings, the city collected 1,527 guns. He used them to create art. "Those 1,527 guns were melted and made into the same number of shovels," he says. "So for every gun now, there's a shovel. And with every shovel, we planted a tree." Now Reyes is working on a new project. It is one that transforms guns into something more musical. An exhibition of the work is on display at the University of South Florida's Contemporary Art Museum. It's called "Disarm," and consists of guns that have been turned into musical instruments." To me at least," Pedigo says, "the concept is about taking weapons that are destructive in nature and chaotic and trying to make them for something else. So, instead of objects of destruction, they become objects of creation." That's exactly Reyes' point. Art, he says, is about transformation. "It's the same metal," he says, "but it is no longer a gun. It's now a flute or a guitar."

Note: Don't miss the pictures of Reyes' latest inspiring project at the link above.


New study of tribal societies reveals conflict is an alien concept
2013-07-18, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/is-it-natural-for-humans-to-make-wa...

Is it natural for humans to make war? Is organised violence between rival political groups an inevitable outcome of the human condition? New research suggests not. A study of tribal societies that live by hunting and foraging has found that war is an alien concept and not, as some academics have suggested, an innate feature of so-called primitive people. Douglas Fry and Patrik Sderberg of Abo Akademi University in Vasa, Finland, studied 148 violently lethal incidents documented by anthropologists working among 21 mobile bands of hunter-gatherer societies, which some scholars have suggested as a template for studying how humans lived for more than 99.9 per cent of human history, before the invention of agriculture about 10,000 years ago. They found that only a tiny minority of violent deaths come close to being defined as acts of war. Most the violence was perpetrated by one individual against another and usually involved personal grudges involving women or stealing. Only a tiny minority of cases involved more organised killing between rival bands of people, which could fall into the definition of war-like behaviour. Most of these involved only one of the 21 groups included in the study. In short they found that some of the most primitive peoples on Earth were actually quite peaceful compared to modern, developed nations. These findings imply that warfare was probably not very common before the advent of agriculture, when most if not all humans lived as nomadic foragers, Kirk Endicott, an anthropologist at Dartmouth College told the journal Science, where the study is published.

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Braver Angels: Seeking to de-polarize America
2022-10-16, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/braver-angels-seeking-to-de-polarize-america/

Michigan is a battleground state, in every sense of the word. Here, purple doesn't mean moderate; it means the 50-50, Red/Blue split is a chasm. On a recent Saturday in Traverse City, Mich., people gathered – half of them Red, the other half Blue – brought together by Braver Angels, a not-for-profit attempting to narrow the divide. "I'm here out of concern for our country, and our democracy," said one attendee, Jane. Started in 2016, Braver Angels now holds sessions nationwide. It was shaped by Bill Doherty, who teaches relationships at the University of Minnesota. He's also a marriage counselor. Correspondent Martha Teichner asked Doherty, "Is it a proper analogy: Reds and Blues in America, and couples on the brink of divorce?" "There is an analogy to couples on the brink," Doherty replied. "A big difference is that divorce is not possible in America." In Traverse City, participants arrived uneasy at first, defensive. Task #1 at a Red/Blue workshop: stereotypes. Reds and Blues, seated in separate rooms, are asked to list what "they" call "you." Facilitators then ask each side if there's is a kernel of truth in those stereotypes. Tim said, "The passion for the pro-life cause sometimes seems not to hear women." And so it goes, for three hours, peeling back the onion of opinion, looking for common ground. No trying to change anybody's mind. Divided they were, but they showed up, because they wanted to know each other not by label, but by name. Braver Angels has held more than 2,000 workshops and is growing.

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


Meet the Black Musician Unraveling Generations of Hate
2020-07-21, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2020/07/21/addressing-white-suprem...

As a kid growing up in 1960s Chicago, Daryl Davis was shocked when his parents explained that White children were throwing rocks at him during a Cub Scouts parade because he was Black. This ... left a burning question in Davis’ mind: “How can you hate me if you do not know me?” A blues pianist, whose energetic style led him to perform with the likes of Chuck Berry, B.B. King, and Jerry Lee Lewis, Davis would commit his life to seeking out answers to that question, often with his music and his Christian faith as equalizers. But a performance ... in 1983 would leave its mark. He had been approached, after a set, by a member of the audience who told him he had never seen a Black man who could play like Jerry Lee Lewis. That began a conversation that would reveal a surprising truth: The man making the comment was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. This revelation sparked the beginning of a 30-year journey that for Davis involved sitting down with members of the Klan and other White supremacists, attending their rallies and cross burnings—all in a search for answers. By tackling prejudices head-on, Davis believes he succeeded in persuading more than 200 KKK members and other white supremacists to disavow their allegiances. Many became friends, including Scott Shepherd, a former Grand Dragon of the KKK in Tennessee. The two regularly travel together to help shine a light on white supremacy and address the spread of racism through dialogue and education.

Note: Davis' work reforming white supremacists is the subject of an inspiring documentary. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The world is doing much better than the bad news makes us think
2019-12-02, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-world-is-doing-much-better-than-t...

There is a natural human bias toward bad news. The title of a 1998 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology sums it up: Negative Information Weighs More Heavily on the Brain. Negative stimuli get our attention much more than positive stimuli which makes evolutionary sense for survival. Nice things are enjoyable; bad things can be deadly, so focus on them. And given that, in the news media, attention equals money, we can see the commercial reason for a lack of headlines such as Millions not going to bed hungry tonight. Frequently, however, the bad-news bias gives us a highly inaccurate picture of the world. For example, according to a 2013 survey, 67% of Americans think global poverty is on the rise, and 68% believe it is impossible to solve extreme poverty in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, starvation-level poverty has decreased by 80% since 1970, according to economists at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The truth is that while there is plenty to worry about on any given day, the world is generally getting better. Fresh, comprehensive evidence of progress comes in the new Legatum Prosperity Index, based on data from 167 countries ... on 300 social and economic indicators of well-being. Across those dimensions, from 2009 to 2019, 148 of the 167 countries have seen net progress much of it dramatic, and especially so among the poorest countries in the world.

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


17 Impossible Success Stories That Prove Were Making Progress
2019-01-23, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/17-impossible-success-stories-that-...

It takes discipline in the current media environment to find good news. But in the midst of government shutdowns, injustice at the border, and continuing climate chaos, quite a few victories for goodness and progress occurred. 1. The hole in the ozone layer could be fully closed over the Arctic by 2030 and the rest of the world by 2060. 2. Niger reported that, in the last three decades, it has seen the growth of 200 million trees, setting the record for the largest positive impact on the environment in African history. 3. Canada signed a treaty with the Tall Cree First Nation to create the largest protected coniferous forest in the world. 4. China, likely the worlds largest ivory consumer, banned ivory trade in 2017. 5. New York and Virginia became the first two U.S. states to enact laws requiring mental health education in schools. 6. South Africa, the country with the worlds largest population of people living with AIDS, announced a 44 percent decline in new HIV infections since 2012. 7. Paraguay has eliminated malaria, becoming the first country in the Americas to do so since Cuba in 1973. 8. Morocco passed landmark legislation criminalizing violence against women. 9. Tunisia passed a bill to give men and women equal inheritance rights. Its the first Arab nation to take such a step. 10. The majority of humanity is no longer poor or vulnerable to poverty. September marked a tipping point, where half the world can be classified as middle class.

Note: Don't miss more on these and other great success stories at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Was a World War II pilot reincarnated in a body of a little boy?
2009-12-22, CNN Larry King Live
https://web.archive.org/web/20101021224312/https://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPT...

[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. Watch an excellent, intriguing four-minute Fox News clip on this fascinating case.


Mystery Behind the Damanhur Temples
2008-01-31, ABC News
https://abcnews.go.com/amp/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: Learn the intriguing story and see breathtaking photos of the stunning beauty of these temples. Damanhur's visionary Falco died of cancer on June 23, 2013. Explore more on this great visionary. Watch an awesome video tour of Damanhur and the Temples of Humankind. And don't miss an intriguing 15-minute video of experiments done at Damanhur attaching plants to synthesizers to make angelic music.


Fertility rate: 'Jaw-dropping' global crash in children being born
2020-07-14, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/health-53409521

Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. And 23 nations - including Spain and Japan - are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born. The fertility rate - the average number of children a woman gives birth to - is falling. If the number falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. Researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 - and their study, published in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100. As a result, the researchers expect the number of people on the planet to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century. "That's a pretty big thing; most of the world is transitioning into natural population decline," researcher Prof Christopher Murray told the BBC. "I think it's incredibly hard to think this through and recognise how big a thing this is; it's extraordinary, we'll have to reorganise societies." It is being driven by more women in education and work, as well as greater access to contraception, leading to women choosing to have fewer children. In many ways, falling fertility rates are a success story.

Note: For more on this inspiring news, see this hopeful information. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New Zealands Next Liberal Milestone: A Budget Guided by Well-Being
2019-05-22, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/world/asia/new-zealand-wellbeing-budget.html

Its being called the next big move by a New Zealand government seen by progressives around the world as a beacon in increasingly populist times: a national budget whose spending is dictated by what best encourages the well-being of citizens. That means that as the center-left government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sets its priorities in the budget that will be unveiled on May 30, it is moving away from more traditional bottom-line measures like productivity and economic growth and instead focusing on goals like community and cultural connection and equity in well-being across generations. This budget is a game-changing event, said Richard Layard, a professor at the London School of Economics. As a major example of what that new framework will produce, Ms. Ardern unveiled on Sunday the biggest spending proposal to date in her coming budget: more than $200 million to bolster services for victims of domestic and sexual violence. It is the biggest single investment ever by a New Zealand government on the issue, Ms. Ardern said at an event showcasing the initiative, and will tackle one of the nations most disturbing, most shameful problems. Under New Zealands revised policy, all new spending must advance one of five government priorities: improving mental health, reducing child poverty, addressing the inequalities faced by indigenous Maori and Pacific islands people, thriving in a digital age, and transitioning to a low-emission, sustainable economy.

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 Hodgkins 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.


Can a Big Village Full of Tiny Homes Ease Homelessness in Austin?
2024-01-08, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/08/headway/homelessness-tiny-home-austin.html

On the outskirts of Austin, Texas, what began as a fringe experiment has quickly become central to the city’s efforts to reduce homelessness. To Justin Tyler Jr., it is home. Mr. Tyler, 41, lives in Community First! Village, which aims to be a model of permanent affordable housing for people who are chronically homeless. In the fall of 2022, he joined nearly 400 residents of the village, moving into one of its typical digs: a 200-square-foot, one-room tiny house furnished with a kitchenette, a bed and a recliner. Eclectic tiny homes are clustered around shared outdoor kitchens, and neat rows of recreational vehicles and manufactured homes line looping cul-de-sacs. There are chicken coops, two vegetable gardens, a convenience store ... art and jewelry studios, a medical clinic and a chapel. In the next few years, Community First is poised to grow to nearly 2,000 homes across three locations, which would make it by far the nation’s largest project of this kind, big enough to permanently house about half of Austin’s chronically homeless population. Many residents have jobs in the village, created to offer residents flexible opportunities to earn some income. Last year, they earned a combined $1.5 million working as gardeners, landscapers, custodians, artists, jewelry makers and more. Ute Dittemer, 66, faced a daily struggle for survival during a decade on the streets before moving into Community First five years ago with her husband. Now she supports herself by painting and molding figures out of clay at the village art house. A few years ago, a clay chess set she made sold for $10,000 at an auction. She used the money to buy her first car.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


‘You can walk around in a T-shirt’: how Norway brought heat pumps in from the cold
2023-11-23, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/nov/23/norway-heat-pumps-cold-he...

In most of Europe, fitting a heat pump is one of the most powerful actions a person can take to reduce their carbon footprint. But in Norway, where clean-yet-inefficient electrical resistance heaters have long been common, upgrading to a heat pump is often a purely financial decision. Two-thirds of households in this Nordic country of 5 million people have a heat pump, more than anywhere else in the world. For many years, Norwegians and their neighbours heated their homes with fossil fuels. But during the 1973 oil crisis, when prices shot up, the country’s political leaders made a conscious choice to promote alternatives. “Norway ensured early on that fossil-fuel heating was the most expensive option, making heat pumps cost competitive,” said Dr Jan Rosenow from the Regulatory Assistance Project, a thinktank that works to decarbonise buildings. “They did this by taxing carbon emissions from fossil heating fuels. That’s been the key to incentivise heat pump adoption.” Norway also trained up a workforce to install them. Heat pumps’ efficiency has been increased over decades, partly because of the early adopters in Nordic countries who tinkered away to the point where a modern version can deliver three to five units of heat for every unit of electricity used to power it. An efficient gas boiler, on the other hand, can only produce as much heat as the energy contained in the fuel being burned. A heat pump will have a smaller carbon footprint than a gas boiler even when plugged into an electricity grid.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The Theory That Men Evolved to Hunt and Women Evolved to Gather Is Wrong
2023-11-01, Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-theory-that-men-evolved-to-hun...

The influential idea that in the past men were hunters and women were not isn’t supported by the available evidence. Women are physiologically better suited than men to endurance efforts such as running marathons. This advantage bears on questions about hunting because a prominent hypothesis contends that early humans are thought to have pursued prey on foot over long distances until the animals were exhausted. Furthermore, the fossil and archaeological records, as well as ethnographic studies of modern-day hunter-gatherers, indicate that women have a long history of hunting game. Females are ... dominating ultraendurance events such as the more than 260-mile Montane Spine foot race through England and Scotland, the 21-mile swim across the English Channel and the 4,300-mile Trans Am cycling race. In 2018 English runner Sophie Power ran the 105-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc race in the Alps while still breastfeeding her three-month-old at rest stations. Observations of recent and contemporary foraging societies provide direct evidence of women participating in hunting. The most cited examples come from the Agta people of the Philippines. Agta women hunt while menstruating, pregnant and breastfeeding, and they have the same hunting success as Agta men. They are hardly alone. A recent study of ethnographic data spanning the past 100 years ... found that women from a wide range of cultures hunt animals for food.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


California becomes the first state to ban 4 food additives linked to disease
2023-10-10, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2023/10/10/1204839281/california-ban-food-additives-red-d...

California has become the first U.S. state to outlaw the use of four potentially harmful food and drink additives that have been linked to an array of diseases, including cancer, and are already banned in dozens of countries. The California Food Safety Act prohibits the manufacturing, distribution and sale of food and beverages that contain brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye 3 — which can be found in candy, fruit juices, cookies and more. The Food and Drug Administration banned the use of red dye 3 in cosmetics in 1990 after evidence showed it caused cancer in lab animals. But the government hasn't prohibited its use in food, and it's an ingredient in candies. Brominated vegetable oil and potassium bromate have also been associated with harmful effects on the respiratory and nervous systems, while propylparaben may negatively impact reproductive health. The proposal has been the target of a false claim that California is attempting to ban Skittles. In fact, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, has said that Skittles are sold with alternative ingredients in the European Union, where the four additives are already banned. "It's unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to food safety," Gabriel said in a statement. In addition to the EU, countries that have banned the four additives in food include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The power of contact in the rehumanization process
2023-09-12, Waging Nonviolence
https://wagingnonviolence.org/metta/podcast/the-power-of-contact-theory-rehum...

‘Contact theory’ has been shown to lead to harmony and an enlarged sense of a common good, even when there are limited resources and competing interests. It's a theory that suggests that the more contact that people have, the more willing they are to rehumanize and understand each other, even across their personal differences. It originated in the 50s with the work of Gordon Allport. After World War II, he asked himself, how can we reduce conflict in society? He put forward that, under the right conditions, having positive experiences with people of another social, ethnic, cultural, religious backgrounds could improve our tolerance and reduce our prejudice against them. 50 years later, the vast majority of studies show that it does work. If you talk about moving beyond past violence and having a harmonious society, one of the biggest things that could hamper having these contact experiences [is] the homophilia principle, where you go with your own group. It's easy to avoid having experiences with other groups. But once we do, they're very beneficial. We spoke with someone named Ali Abu Awad [who] is a Palestinian activist. He said he never had contact with an Israeli ... until he was in his 30s. And they were brought together into a group. This Israeli woman was crying, and he was crying. They were both grieving the loss of family members of the conflict. That moment of contact actually changed the whole direction of his life because he realized that this Israeli woman was human like he was. He ended up becoming an activist working toward a solution that humanizes Israelis and humanizes Palestinians at the same time.

Note: This summary is a transcript of an interview with Jasper Van Assche, professor at the University of Ghent in Belgium. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


A Canadian study gave $7,500 to homeless people. Here’s how they spent it.
2023-09-02, Vox
https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21528569/homeless-poverty-cash-transfer-ca...

Ray, a man in his 50s, used to live in an emergency homeless shelter in Vancouver, Canada. Then he participated in a study that changed his life. The newly published, peer reviewed PNAS study, conducted by the charity Foundations for Social Change in partnership with the University of British Columbia, was fairly simple. It identified 50 people in the Vancouver area who had become homeless in the past two years. In spring 2018, it gave them each one lump sum of $7,500 (in Canadian dollars). And it told them to do whatever they wanted with the cash. Over the next year, the study followed up with the recipients periodically, asking how they were spending the money and what was happening in their lives. The recipients of the cash transfers did not increase spending on drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, but did increase spending on food, clothes, and rent. What’s more, they moved into stable housing faster and saved enough money to maintain financial security over the year of follow-up. “Counter to really harmful stereotypes, we saw that people made wise financial choices,” Claire Williams, the CEO of Foundations for Social Change, [said]. What’s more ... giving out the cash transfers in the Vancouver area actually saved the broader society money. Enabling 50 people to move into housing faster saved the shelter system $8,277 per person over the year, for a total savings of $413,850. That’s more than the value of the cash transfers, which means the transfers pay for themselves.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


How rhythm shapes our lives
2023-05-26, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230526-how-rhythm-shapes-our-lives

Why do we care about rhythm? It connects us to the world. It plays a role in listening, in language, in understanding speech in noisy places, in walking, and even in our feelings toward one another. Rhythm is much more than a component of music. We experience the rhythmic changes of the seasons. Some of us have menstrual cycles. We have circadian rhythms – daily cycles of mental and physical peaks and troughs. Tides, 17-year cicadas, lunar phases, perigees, and apogees are other naturally occurring rhythms. Human-made rhythms include the built world – street grids, traffic lights, crop fields, mowed designs in baseball diamond outfields, the backsplash behind the kitchen counter, spatial patterns in geometric visual artforms. Rhythms in the brain have been called out as a basis for consciousness itself. Even in very young children, being (literally) "in sync" with another person engenders positive feelings toward them. Music in general, and rhythm in particular, does an uncommonly good job fostering a sense of community. Indeed, music being played at negotiation sessions helps to smooth the conversations and leads to breakthroughs and compromisesMusicians Without Borders is used to form relationships in troubled regions around the world, to bring hope, comfort, and healing to diverse populations. The Resonance Project and the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, which are forming bonds between Israeli and Palestinian children, are other examples of using musical rhythm to overcome differences.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The secret to why exercise is so good for mental health? 'Hope molecules'
2023-05-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/may/04/exercise-mental-health-...

One of the most interesting health research projects of the past decade or so has looked at how exactly exercise makes us feel good. Research shows that there appears to be a clear scientific reason, that we can see at a cellular level. When muscles contract, they secrete chemicals into the bloodstream. Among these chemicals are myokines, which have been referred to as "hope molecules". These small proteins travel to the brain, cross the blood-brain barrier, and act as an antidepressant. They do this by improving our mood, our ability to learn, our capacity for locomotor activity, and protect the brain from the negative effects of ageing. This has been referred to as "muscle-brain cross-talk". They're also responsible for improved metabolism, reduced inflammation, and increased muscle strength. Myokines are not solely responsible for feeling good: exercise also releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin that have a positive impact on our brains. So when you're feeling low, it's tempting to do a Netflix binge, or spend hours scrolling on social media comparing others' lives to yours, and feeling increasingly sad. This is especially true for teenagers. The antidote we know clearly from epidemiology and biology is to just get moving: whether it's joining a team, going for a long walk, or finding a community gym or yoga class. You'll certainly feel more hopeful afterwards.

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


This joint Memorial Day ceremony for fallen Israelis and Palestinians overcame hate
2023-04-28, Philadelphia Inquirer
https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/israel-memorial-day-palestinians-independenc...

Memorial Day used to be Israel’s most sacred secular holiday because it honored those who died in wars or terrorist attacks. I attended one memorial service in Tel Aviv that rose above these tensions and penetrated to the heart of the issues troubling the country: a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian families who had lost relatives to the conflict and gathered together to share their grief. What was most astonishing about the event was to see the Palestinians fall into the arms of their Israeli hosts and hold on tightly. Why astonishing? Because these days, Palestinians and Israelis almost never come into contact, except at Israeli military checkpoints on the West Bank, or when violent Israeli settlers attack their fields — or when Palestinian workers come to Israel to work in construction or in agriculture. It was moving in the extreme to see Palestinians and Israelis who had experienced heartbreak at the hands of the other side embrace each other tightly and talk about family. It was also moving to watch thousands of Israelis file into the fenced-off area of the ceremony and fill endless rows of plastic chairs (the organizers say that 300,000 watched online). They listened in total silence as Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims told their personal stories on the stage. Yuval Sapir, whose sister Tamar was murdered in Tel Aviv in 1994 by a Palestinian suicide bomber ... choked out these words: “It is easy and natural to hate ... I chose to try to break the chain of revenge and hatred.”

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Private Banks Are In Crisis. What If They Were Public Banks?
2023-03-20, Vice
https://www.vice.com/en/article/3akzbb/private-banks-are-in-crisis-what-if-th...

Public banks are typically operated by government or tribal authorities and, in theory, would be chartered to achieve social good and invest in communities. Only two public banks currently operate in the United States: the Bank of North Dakota, founded in 1919, and the Territorial Bank of American Samoa, founded in 2018. Organizations pushing for a public banking option exist in 37 states, according to the Public Banking Institute. In contrast to private banks, which are responsible to their shareholders, public banks are responsible to their boards and are chartered to invest in public needs. The Bank of North Dakota, for instance, is chartered to offer a “revolving loan fund” to farmers, and profits from loans are directed back into the fund to keep interest rates low. The modern movement to invest in public banks grew out of the 2008 financial crisis and was galvanized during the pandemic, fueled by a populist distrust of the banking and finance sectors. In October 2020, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib introduced the federal Public Banking Act, which would allow state and local governments across the country to create public banks. In the first two months of 2021 there were sixteen bills across the country designed to pave the way for public banks. Supporters of public banks are hoping that any deposits from state and local governments can be used to fund community-based projects that have trouble getting funded by private banks.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


‘Dead’ Electric Car Batteries Find a Second Life Powering Cities
2023-03-13, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/electric-vehicle-batteries-reused-power-sta...

Last month, a small warehouse in the English city of Nottingham received the crucial final components for a project that leverages the power of used EV batteries to create a new kind of circular economy. Inside, city authorities have installed 40 two-way electric vehicle chargers that are connected to solar panels and a pioneering battery energy storage system, which will together power a number of on-site facilities and a fleet of 200 municipal vehicles. Each day Nottingham will send a combination of solar-generated energy — and whatever is left in the vehicles after the day’s use — from its storage devices into the national grid. What makes the project truly circular is the battery technology itself. Funded by the European Union’s Interreg North-West Europe Programme, the energy storage system, E-STOR, is made out of used EV batteries by the British company Connected Energy. After around a decade, an EV battery no longer provides sufficient performance for car journeys. However, they still can retain up to 80 percent of their original capacity, and with this great remaining power comes great reusability. “As the batteries degrade, they lose their usefulness for vehicles,” says Matthew Lumsden, chairman of Connected Energy. “But batteries can be used for so many other things, and to not do so results in waste and more mining of natural resources.” One study ... calculated that a second life battery system saved 450 tons of CO2 per MWh over its lifetime.

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


Rats with backpacks could help rescue earthquake survivors
2022-10-24, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/24/world/search-and-rescue-rats-apopo-hnk-spc-int...

Natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes can level entire towns, and for the search and rescue teams trying to find survivors, it’s a painstaking task. But an unlikely savior is being trained up to help out: rats. The project, conceived of by Belgian non-profit APOPO, is kitting out rodents with tiny, high-tech backpacks to help first responders search for survivors among rubble in disaster zones. “Rats are typically quite curious and like to explore – and that is key for search and rescue,” says Donna Kean, a behavioral research scientist and leader of the project. In addition to their adventurous spirit, their small size and excellent sense of smell make rats perfect for locating things in tight spaces, says Kean. The rats are currently being trained to find survivors in a simulated disaster zone. They must first locate the target person in an empty room, pull a switch on their vest that triggers a beeper, and then return to base, where they are rewarded with a treat. While the rodents are still in the early stages of training, APOPO is collaborating with the Eindhoven University of Technology to develop a backpack, which is equipped with a video camera, two-way microphone, and location transmitter to help first responders communicate with survivors. APOPO has been training dogs and rats at its base in Tanzania in the scent detection of landmines and tuberculosis for over a decade. Its programs use African Giant Pouched Rats, which have a longer lifespan in captivity of around eight years.

Note: Don't miss the images of these adorable and heroic rats at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


If we can farm metal from plants, what else can we learn from life on Earth?
2022-04-15, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/apr/15/farm-metal-from-plants-...

For the past couple of years, I’ve been working with researchers in northern Greece who are farming metal. They are experimenting with a trio of shrubs known to scientists as “hyperaccumulators”: plants which have evolved the capacity to thrive in naturally metal-rich soils that are toxic to most other kinds of life. They do this by drawing the metal out of the ground and storing it in their leaves and stems, where it can be harvested like any other crop. As well as providing a source for rare metals – in this case nickel, although hyperaccumulators have been found for zinc, aluminium, cadmium and many other metals, including gold – these plants actively benefit the earth by remediating the soil, making it suitable for growing other crops, and by sequestering carbon in their roots. Hyperaccumulators are far from being the only non-humans that we might learn from. Physarum polycephalum, a particularly lively slime mould, can solve the “travelling salesman” problem – a test for finding the shortest route between multiple cities – faster and more efficiently than any supercomputer humans have devised. Spiders store information in their webs, using them as a kind of extended cognition: a mind outside the body entirely. A new conception of intelligence is emerging from scientific research: rather than human intelligence being unique or the peak of some graduated curve, there appear to be many different kinds of intelligence with their own strengths, competencies and suitabilities.

Note: This was written by James Bridle, an artist and technologist who was able to paralyze a self-driving car using salt and road markers. For more on his work, check out his fascinating perspective on how artificial intelligence technologies could be designed based on cooperation and relationships naturally reflected in living systems, as opposed to competition and domination.


Myrtle Beach homeowner, appliance technician share eye-opening discussion about racism
2020-06-03, MSN News
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/myrtle-beach-homeowner-appliance-technician...

An inspiring discussion about racism between a white woman and black man ... has captured the attention of [millions]. Caroline Brock and Ernest Skelton share a special relationship. It all started with Skelton coming over to fix one of her appliances. People judge me before I even come in the door, so thats the reason why I ask, Is it OK for me to come in? said Skelton. The question caught Brock completely off guard. Over the weekend, Skelton went back over to Brocks home for second appliance repair appointment. Thats when Brock asked him a question that was a little more personal. How are you doing right now given the current climate? Brock wanted to know what the day-to-day life of a black man is like. Skelton opened up and told her some stories about how racism has affected him. He gets pulled over in his work vehicle at least half a dozen times a year. I dont even remember the last time I was pulled over, Brock said. Sometimes I have customers that need me after 5 oclock and I have to reschedule for another day. Im afraid that Ill wind up getting pulled over, and this time, I wont make it home," Skelton said. Brock asked Ernest if she could post their interaction on Facebook. He thought it would be a great idea. A few days later, they had more than 100,000 shares. In the comments ... a lot of white people say, Id love to have these conversations, but Im scared ... Im going to offend someone," Brock explained. But Skelton said he wasnt offended. If we want to change the world and make our country stronger, we have to be willing to step into the uncomfortableness," Brock said. The two hope that their interaction can inspire others to open up the conversation.

Note: Don't miss this highly inspiring and educational facebook post. This is how we change the world for the better. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The ozone layer is healing, new study finds
2020-03-27, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/ozone-layer-healing-coronav...

The ozone layer is continuing to heal and has the potential to fully recover, according to a new study. A scientific paper, published in Nature, heralds a rare success in the reversal of environmental damage and shows that orchestrated global action can make a difference. The ozone layer is a protective shield in the Earth’s stratosphere which absorbs most of the ultraviolet radiation reaching us from the sun. Antara Banerjee ... is lead author of the study. She told The Independent: “We found signs of climate changes in the southern hemisphere, specifically in the air circulation patterns. The challenge was showing that these changing air circulation patterns were due to the shrinking ozone hole following the implementation of the Montreal Protocol. The jet stream in the southern hemisphere was gradually shifting towards the south pole in the last decades of the 20th century due to ozone depletion. Our study found that movement has stopped since 2000 and might even be reversing. The pause in movement began around the same time that the ozone hole started to recover. The emissions of ozone-depleting substances that were responsible for the ozone hole - the CFCs from spray cans and refrigerants – started to decline around 2000, thanks to the Montreal Protocol.” Overall, it is good news for the fight against climate change. She added: “It shows that this international treaty has worked and we can reverse the damage that we’ve already done to our planet. That’s a lesson to us all.”

Note: The Nature study referenced above is available here. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How giant African rats are helping uncover deadly land mines in Cambodia
2019-09-10, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-giant-african-rats-are-helping-uncover-...

How giant African rats are helping uncover deadly land mines in Cambodia
September 10, 2019, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-giant-african-rats-are-helping-uncover...

From Angola to the former Yugoslavia, land mines are a lethal legacy of wars over long ago. Cambodia is among the most affected countries, with millions of buried explosives that kill and maim people each year. Now, an organization is deploying an unexpected ally to find mines: the giant pouch rat, whose sharp sense of smell can detect explosives. Mark Shukuru is head rat trainer in Cambodia for the Belgian non-profit APOPO. He is from Tanzania, where this species is also native, and he learned early that they have some of the most sensitive noses in the animal kingdom. Each comes out of a rigorous program in Tanzania that trains them to distinguish explosives from other scents. Each time they sniff out TNT buried in this test field, a trainer uses a clicker to make a distinct sound, and they get a treat. Since 2016, APOPO's hero rats have found roughly 500 anti-personnel mines and more than 350 unexploded bombs in Cambodia. They're the second animal to be deployed in mine clearance. Dogs were first. Animals can work much faster than humans, although, when the land is densely mined, metal detectors are considered more efficient. APOPO plans to bring in some 40 more rats to expand the force and replace retirees. Each animal works about eight years, and then lives out the rest of its days alongside fellow heroes, all working toward the day when they can broadcast to the world that Cambodia has destroyed the last unexploded bomb.

Note: Don't miss the cute video of these hero rats at work, available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Good news at last: the world isnt as horrific as you think
2018-04-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2018/apr/11/good-news-at-last...

While it is easy to be aware of all the bad things happening in the world, its harder to know about the good things. The silent miracle of human progress is too slow and too fragmented to ever qualify as news. Over the past 20 years, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has almost halved. But in online polls, in most countries, fewer than 10% of people knew this. Our instinct to notice the bad more than the good is related to three things: the misremembering of the past; selective reporting by journalists and activists; and the feeling that as long as things are bad, its heartless to say they are getting better. Stories about gradual improvements rarely make the front page even when they occur on a dramatic scale and affect millions of people. And thanks to increasing press freedom and improving technology, we hear about more disasters than ever before. This improved reporting is itself a sign of human progress, but it creates the impression of the exact opposite. How can we help our brains to realise that things are getting better? Think of the world as a very sick premature baby in an incubator. After a week, she is improving, but ... her health is still critical. Does it make sense to say that the infants situation is improving? Yes. Does it make sense to say it is bad? Yes, absolutely. Does saying things are improving imply that everything is fine, and we should all not worry? Not at all: its both bad and better. That is how we must think about the current state of the world.

Note: Don't miss this awesome 5-minute video by author Hans Rosling showing the detailed statistics in a most entertaining way. For more see the many TED talks he gave.


Khan Academy founder wins 2018 Visionary of the Year award
2018-03-27, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/visionsf/article/Khan-Academy-founder-wins-2018-V...

When Salman Khan began posting videos on YouTube more than a decade ago, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur had no idea of the celebrity he would gain, nor the impact he would have. His online tutorials in math ... were made for friends and family struggling in school. But his audience quickly grew. Before long, Khan had quit his day job in finance to carry out a goal of delivering free Internet instruction to the world. His educational website was called Khan Academy. On Tuesday night, Khan ... was presented the fourth annual Visionary of the Year Award, an honor announced by The San Francisco Chronicle. Khan Academy today has more than 62 million registered users in nearly 200 countries. His voice, which still narrates many of the tutorials, is widely recognized, and students and parents often stop him on the street to thank him for providing an assist at school or work. Since its launch in 2008, Khan Academy has broadened its online course load to include nearly every school subject from science to art and from the kindergarten to college levels. Khans Mountain View nonprofit has grown from just him to more than 150 employees. Perhaps most impressive is that the schooling has remained entirely free. With the admirable mission of providing a world-class education to anyone anywhere, Khan has attracted financial support from well-heeled donors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and Bank of America.

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


Yales 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, were actually seeding change in the schools 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 Yales 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)
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/iceland-teenage-substance-abu...

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...

"Whos 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 doesnt 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 dont 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 dont seek to convert them but if they spend time with me, they cant 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. 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.


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.


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 doesnt 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.


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 Armys 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.


Bhutan's dark secret to happiness
2015-04-08, BBC
http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150408-bhutans-dark-secret-to-happiness

Citizens of one of the happiest countries on Earth are surprisingly comfortable contemplating a topic many prefer to avoid. Is that the key to joy? On a visit to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, I found myself sitting across from a man named Karma Ura, [confessing] something very personal. Not that long before, seemingly out of the blue, I had experienced some disturbing symptoms: shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness in my hands and feet. I feared I was having a heart attack. So I went to the doctor, who ran a series of tests and found... Nothing, said Ura. Even before I could complete my sentence, he knew that my fears were unfounded. I was not dying. I was having a panic attack. You need to think about death for five minutes every day, Ura replied. It will cure you. How? I said, dumbfounded. It is this thing, this fear of death ... is what is troubling you. But why would I want to think about something so depressing? Rich people in the West, they have not touched dead bodies, fresh wounds, rotten things. This is a problem. This is the human condition. We have to be ready for the moment we cease to exist. In Bhutanese culture, one is expected to think about death five times a day. The Bhutanese may be on to something. In a 2007 study, University of Kentucky psychologists [concluded] that death is a psychologically threatening fact, but when people contemplate it, apparently the automatic system begins to search for happy thoughts. Death is a part of life, whether we like it or not. Ignoring this essential truth comes with a ... cost.

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


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.


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 individuals 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 individuals 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
https://web.archive.org/web/20180421002455/https://blog.nationalgeographic.or...

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.


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 informative 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 Clevelands 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, Lincolns 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 firms 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: Explore an abstract of this intriguing study. 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
2013-05-19, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/16-year-old-finds-a-new-way-to-detect-cancer/

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.


Heaven Is Real: A Doctors Experience With the Afterlife
2012-10-08, Daily Beast/Newsweek
https://www.newsweek.com/proof-heaven-doctors-experience-afterlife-65327

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 realwas 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, see this webpage. And explore other highly inspiring resources and stories related to near-death experiences.


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 Wellss 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 movies 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. Theyre 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) masters program for schoolteachers. Its more difficult getting into teacher education than law or medicine, he said. Dr. Sahlberg puts high-quality teachers at the heart of Finlands 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 masters 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 childrens 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.


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.


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.


Sentenced to Serving the Good Life in Norway
2010-07-12, Time Magazine
http://content.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.


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.


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.


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 many millions who have by watching it on this webpage. The free hugs movement spread rapidly around the world! See this fun video and this inspiring one for great examples. Then check out several other short, deeply inspiring videos.


Injected Cells Cure Tumors in Mice
2006-05-09, Los Angeles Times
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2006-may-09-sci-cancer9-story.html

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
https://web.archive.org/web/20110713070438/http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/24/...

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 Bogot. Mockus turned Bogot 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 Bogot, 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 Bogot'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.


Steven Pinker Thinks the Future Is Looking Bright
2018-11-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/science/steven-pinker-future-science.html

Steven Pinker, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard, has been known to take provocative positions. He has argued that women are intrinsically different from men, that we are more driven by our genes than academics like to acknowledge, and that society is getting less violent over time despite the mass shootings and other atrocities we hear about daily. The thesis of his latest book, Enlightenment Now, is that life on Earth is improving. By every major measure of human well-being, from personal safety to longevity to economic security to happiness, people everywhere are far better off today than they were before the start of the Enlightenment in the 17th century. "I stumbled across data showing that violence had declined over the course of history. The homicide rate in England was 50 times higher in the 14th century than it is today," [said Pinker]. "Like any other news reader, I just assumed that there was as much mayhem as ever. Its only when you plot it over time ... that you can see the trends. Its not just in violence that one sees progress, but in poverty, in illiteracy, in access to small luxuries. The percentage of the world getting an education, in gender parity in education - girls are going to school all over the world. Even in ... the worlds most retrograde countries, the rate of female education has increased. It was an epiphany from seeing graphs of human improvement that changed my view of the overall course of history: that progress is a demonstrable fact.

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


Kailash Satyarthi plans to end child labor in his lifetime
2019-02-21, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/19/world/kailash-satyarthi-child-labor/index.html

Since 1980, [former engineer Kailash Satyarthi] has spent his life campaigning against child labor, ultimately winning the Nobel Peace Prize ... in 2014. Satyarthi launched the 100 Million campaign in late 2016. The initiative ... seeks to engage 100 million young people around the world to speak out for the world's more than 100 million child workers. The International Labor Organization charts the total of child laborers globally at 152 million, with 73 million of those in hazardous labor conditions. 10 million children are victims of abject slavery. The number of children working has fallen sharply in the last two decades, from as many as 246 million in the year 2000. With more global awareness and effort, it could fall further. Satyarthi's organization and Participant Media collaborated on a letter-writing campaign, in which ... people wrote letters to the top 100 US retailers asking them to take steps to ensure the products they sell are not connected with child labor. So far more than a million letters have been sent. "The world is capable to end child labor," Satyarthi said. "We have the technology. We have the resources. We have laws and international treaties. We have everything. The only thing is that we have to feel compassion for others. "My struggle is for the globalization of compassion." Satyarthi's ambitions have long been focused on global policy, but the root of it all still remains back home in India. The original organization he founded [has] directly rescued more than 88,000 children.

Note: Why have so few ever heard of this most amazing, courageous man who has risked his life countless times to rescue tens of thousands of children from slave labor? After surviving numerous beatings and the murder of two of his colleagues, Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for creating a global network focused on fighting for the rights of over 100 million child workers worldwide and rescuing the many millions still held as slave labor in almost every country in the world. Don't miss the moving documentary on Satyarthi and his work titled "The Price of Free."


20 million Americans still don’t have enough to eat. A grass-roots movement of free fridges aims to help.
2021-06-28, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/06/28/hunger-philadelphia-free-f...

Darrell Brokenborough opened the bright yellow refrigerator that stood on the sidewalk outside a row home at 308 N. 39th St., smiled and said, “It’s full.” He balanced on his cane so he could take a closer look at the apples, yogurt, greens, pasta, cheese and chicken inside. On the front of the fridge was written: “Free food” and “Take what you need. Leave what you don’t.” Philadelphia now has more than 20 of these refrigerators sitting outside homes and restaurants, offering free food to anyone passing by. Volunteers keep the fridges clean and stocked with food donated from grocery stores, restaurants, local farmers and anyone with extra to share. The concept of the community fridge sometimes called a “freedge” has been around for more than a decade, but it exploded during the pandemic as hunger spiked in the United States and worldwide. There are now about 200 of these community fridges in the United States, up from about 15 before the pandemic. “What we’re learning is when you do something like this, people will support it. People do have goodness and kindness, and they will bring food,” said Michelle Nelson, founder of Mama-Tee.com, which now runs 18 bright yellow fridges in Philadelphia and has been inundated with requests to put more in place throughout the country. Nelson said the effort is part of the movement known as “mutual aid,” where people, even those struggling, want to help one another and have a stake in the project.

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


It's Official: Solar Is the Cheapest Electricity in History
2020-10-22, Popular Mechanics
https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a34372005/solar-cheapest-energy-ever/

In a new report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says solar is now the cheapest form of electricity for utility companies to build. That's thanks to risk-reducing financial policies around the world, the agency says, and it applies to locations with both the most favorable policies and the easiest access to financing. The report underlines how important these policies are to encouraging development of renewables and other environmentally forward technologies. Carbon Brief (CB) summarizes the annual report with a lot of key details. The World Energy Outlook 2020 "offers four 'pathways' to 2040, all of which see a major rise in renewables," CB says. "The IEA's main scenario has 43 [percent] more solar output by 2040 than it expected in 2018, partly due to detailed new analysis showing that solar power is 20 [to] 50 [percent] cheaper than thought." The calculation depends on financing figures compared with the amount of output for solar projects. That means that at the same time panel technology gets more efficient and prices for basic panels continue to fall, investors are getting better and better financing deals. So the statistic "20 to 50 percent cheaper" is based on a calculus of companies building solar projects, not something that has throughput for consumers or even solar homeowners. But it's still a big deal, because the cost to build power plants is a major part of why so much of the world has stuck with coal and gas power.


Vatican urges Catholics to drop investments in fossil fuels, arms
2020-06-18, NBC News/Reuters
https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/vatican-urges-catholics-drop-inve...

The Vatican urged Catholics on Thursday to disinvest from the armaments and fossil fuel industries and to closely monitor companies in sectors such as mining to check if they are damaging the environment. The calls were contained in a 225-page manual for church leaders and workers to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis landmark encyclical Laudato Si (Praised Be) on the need to protect nature, life and defenseless people. The compendium suggests practical steps to achieve the goals of the encyclical, which strongly supported agreements to contain global warming and warned against the dangers of climate change. The manuals section on finance said people could favor positive changes ... by excluding from their investments companies that do not satisfy certain parameters. It listed these as respect for human rights, bans on child labor and protection of the environment. Called Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home, one action point called on Catholics to shun companies that are harmful to human or social ecology. Another section called for the stringent monitoring of extraction industries in areas with fragile ecosystems to prevent air, soil and water contamination. Last month, more that 40 faith organizations from around the world, more than half of them Catholic, pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies. The Vatican bank has said it does not invest in fossil fuels and many Catholic dioceses and educational institutions around the world have taken similar positions.

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


Don't Panic - The Truth About Population
2013-11-07, BBC News
https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2013/45/this-world-hans-rosling

With the world’s population at 7 billion and still growing we often look at the future with dread. In Don’t Panic - The Truth About Population, world famous Swedish statistical showman Professor Hans Rosling presents a different view. We face huge challenges in terms of food, resources and climate change but at the heart of Rosling’s statistical tour-de-force is the message that the world of tomorrow is a much better place than we might imagine. Professor Rosling reveals that the global challenge of rapid population growth, the so-called population explosion, has already been overcome. In just 50 years the average number of children born per woman has plummeted from 5 to just 2.5 and is still falling fast. This means that in a few generations’ time, world population growth will level off completely. In Bangladesh ... families of two children are now the norm. We meet Taslima Khan who travels through rural villages dispensing contraceptives and advice on how to deal with difficult husbands. Deep in rural Mozambique – one of the poorest countries in the world – we meet subsistence farmers Andre and Olivia who’ve been saving for two years to buy a piece of life-transforming technology – a bicycle. Even in these countries, economic growth, investment in healthcare and infrastructure are paving the way to huge improvements in living standards. Globally, the proportion of people in extreme poverty is at its lowest ever, and now the United Nations is setting itself the goal of eradicating extreme poverty completely.

Note: Don't miss this awesome 5-minute video by author Hans Rosling showing the detailed statistics in a most entertaining way. For more see the many TED talks he gave.


The consciousness of bees
2022-07-29, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/07/29/bee-cognition-insect-intell...

We are learning just how smart insects can be. As I show in my new book, “The Mind of a Bee,” the latest research indicates that even tiny-brained bees are profoundly intelligent creatures that can memorize not only flowers but also human faces, solve problems by thinking rather than by trial and error, and learn to use tools by observing skilled bees. They even appear to experience basic emotions, or at least something like optimism and pessimism. Bees have a “dance language” by which they can inform others in the hive of the precise location of a rewarding flower patch. The symbolic language involves repeating the motor patterns (“dances”) of a knowledgeable bee on the vertical honeycomb. The movements make reference to gravity and the direction of the sun; since it’s dark in the hive, bees that want to learn from the dancer need to touch its abdomen with their antennae. Sometimes, such dances are displayed at night, when no foraging takes place: The dancer appears to think about locations visited on the previous day, without an obvious need to do so at the time. The observation that bees are most likely sentient beings has important ethical implications. Many species of bees are threatened by pesticides and wide-scale habitat loss, and that this spells trouble because we need these insects to pollinate our crops. But is the utility of bees the only reason they should be protected? I don’t think so. Bees have a rich inner world and unique perception, and, like humans, are able to think, enjoy and suffer.

Note: Watch an amazing, highly educational PBS documentary on the life of bees. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Largest Distributed Peer-To-Peer Grid On The Planet Laying Foundation For A Decentralized Internet
2020-06-20, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2020/06/20/largest-distributed-peer...

A project to decentralize the internet that youve never heard of has more capacity than all other blockchain projects put together: 5-10X more, according to its founder. The project is called ThreeFold, and its not your typical blockchain startup. Instead, its a long-term project to rewire the internet in the image of its first incarnation: decentralized, unowned, accessible, free. We have 18,000 CPU cores and 90 million gigabytes, which is a lot of capacity, founder Kristof de Spiegeleer [said]. Less than 20 companies actually own more than 80% of the internet capacity, which is the storage and the compute. It really needs to be something like electricity. It needs to be everywhere and everyone needs to have access to it. It needs to be cost effective, it needs to be reliable, it needs to be independent. That would be a fundamentally different kind of internet: one we all collectively own rather than just one we all just use. It requires a lot of different technology for backups and storage, for which ThreeFold is building a variety of related technologies: peer-to-peer technology to create the grid in the first place; storage, compute, and network technologies to enable distributed applications; and a self-healing layer bridging people and applications. Oh, and yes. There is a blockchain component: smart contracts for utilizing the grid and keeping a record of activities. So ... you have people providing actual tangible services for others in exchange for some degree of cryptocurrency reward.

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


"Literally a miracle": Violent rival gangs in South Africa call truce to help people during pandemic
2020-04-18, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-cape-town-violent-rival-gangs-south-...

Warring gangs in South Africa are working together in an unprecedented truce to deliver much-needed food to people under lockdown. The country has seen a 75% decrease in violent crime since it imposed strict restrictions over the coronavirus pandemic, and normally dangerous streets in Cape Town now see sworn enemies meeting up to collect essential goods to distribute throughout hungry communities. "What we're seeing happen here is literally a miracle," Pastor Andie Steele-Smith said. Steel-Smith works with gang members in his community, many of whom are convicted killers. "They are the best distributors in the country," he said. "They are used to distributing other white powders, but still they are distributing things and then, they know everybody." Preston Jacobs, a member of the "Americans" gang, told CBS News' Debora Patta it "feels nice" to take on a new role and communicate with those in need. "Now I see there are nice people also, and people want to love what we're doing now," Jacobs said. Sansi Hassan of the "Clever Kids" gang expressed hope that this current ceasefire in gang violence could be permanent in the post-lockdown future. "If it can stay like this, then there will be no gang fight," he said. "And every gang will agree with us." Pastor Steel-Smith remains optimistic for his community. "I am proud of you guys," he said to two gang members working to distribute essential goods. "If I died today and went to heaven, I would die a happy man."

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A Surprising Way to Stop Bullying
2024-01-08, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/a-surprising-way-to-stop-bullying/

When Ben was 11 years old, his parents noticed that his grades dropped. He stopped talking about school. “These are all typical signs there might be a bullying problem,” says Bettina Dénervaud, co-founder of the Swiss initiative Hilfe bei Mobbing, which translates as “Help with Bullying.” She and her two colleagues use a 30-point checklist to evaluate if there is an underlying issue of mental, emotional and physical bullying or something else — maybe a conflict, which might require conflict resolution. Instead of being punished, the bullies are invited to help the bullied student. In a 2008 study that looked at 220 bullying cases, the No-Blame Approach was successful in 192, or 87 percent, of the cases. In most schools that were evaluated, it only took two or three weeks for the bullying to stop. The second step is the core of the No-Blame Approach. It includes calling six to eight children that the teacher chooses into a meeting that is set up as a social get together: in Ben’s case, three of the bullies, three students Ben felt he could count on and two “neutral” tag-alongs. The children are not told the meeting is about Ben. “I have a problem,” the teacher might start the discussion. “I noticed some students don’t feel supported in class. What can we do to help them, for instance, Ben?” The third step includes follow-ups with all students, including Ben, within the next few weeks. If necessary, the intervention might be repeated or tweaked. "The goal is to change the social dynamic," Dénervaud says. Younger children often start crying in these meetings, Dénervaud has observed, “because they realize for the first time what has been happening and how unhappy the bullying victim has been."

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


One unexpected way to reduce violent crime? Create green spaces.
2023-12-14, National Geographic
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/urban-greening-violent...

In 2012, according to FBI data, 2,774 violent crimes were reported to the Flint Police Department. In 2022, 985 were reported. Like other “legacy cities” that have experienced significant economic decline and population loss, Flint, [Michigan] is still struggling. But now, through the Genesee County Land Bank’s Clean & Green program, Ishmel and hundreds of other residents have been mowing vacant lots. Greening projects like these maintain abandoned spaces, either by mowing them or converting them into gardens and parks. But these projects don’t just make the neighborhood feel safer. Researchers who have been studying the effects of greening in Flint; Philadelphia; Youngstown, Ohio; and other legacy cities have shown repeatedly that it actually reduces violent crime. “It is one of the most consistent findings I’ve ever had in my 34-year career of doing research,” says Marc A. Zimmerman, professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. A review of 45 papers found that the presence of green spaces, including parks and trees, reduces crime in urban areas. In Flint, Zimmerman and his colleagues compared streets where community members maintained vacant lots through Clean & Green with streets where vacant lots were left alone, over five years. The maintained ones had almost 40 percent fewer assaults and violent crimes. One study found that while simply maintaining vacant lots reduced burglaries, turning them into gardens reduced assaults.

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Rich Folks Import This Building Material. A Minnesota Tribe Makes Its Own.
2023-12-04, Mother Jones
https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2023/12/minnesota-tribe-mdewakanton-b...

For now, it’s only a gaping hole in the ground. But when construction is complete next April, the Lower Sioux—also known as part of the Mdewakanton Band of Dakota—will have a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing campus that will allow them to pioneer a green experiment, the first of its kind in the United States. They will have an integrated vertical operation to grow hemp, process it into insulation called hempcrete, and then build healthy homes with it. Right now, no one in the US does all three. Once the tribe makes this low-carbon material, they can begin to address a severe shortage of housing and jobs. Recapturing a slice of sovereignty would be a win for the Lower Sioux. They lost most of their lands in the 19th century, and the territory finally allotted to them two hours south of Minneapolis consists of just 1,743 acres of poor soil. That stands in contrast to the fertile black earth of the surrounding white-owned farmlands. Nearly half of the 1,124 enrolled members of the tribe need homes. “The idea of making homes that would last and be healthy was a no-brainer,” said Robert “Deuce” Larsen, the tribal council president. Leading the national charge on an integrated hempcrete operation is no mean feat, seeing that virtually no one in the community had experience with either farming or construction before the five-person team was assembled. Hemp can grow in a variety of climates. What’s more, hemp regenerates soil, sequesters carbon, and doesn’t require fertilizers.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Lessons from brain science — and history's peacemakers — for resolving conflicts
2023-11-04, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/11/04/1209395551/argument-us-i...

Tim Phillips, a veteran conflict-resolution expert, helped negotiate some of the most fraught conflicts in modern history — ceasefires of religious clashes in Northern Ireland and the establishment of what became South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission after apartheid. Defusing an escalating situation ... first requires releasing a brain hijacked by defensive emotion. Phillips says it means saying to your opponent, for example: "I understand how important this is to you; I understand this is core to your identity and your community, and I respect your sacred values." It means reflecting your opponent's humanity back to them. A similar approach, he says, can help reduce toxic polarization. It's effective because in the heat of argument, people tend to demonize one another; counteracting that can neutralize assumptions of negative intent. Phillips says he's seen people emotionally disarm the opposition in a disagreement simply by recognizing their humanity. It can bring together fierce adversaries, and change history. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black congresswoman in the U.S., was battling for the Democratic presidential nomination with political rival ... George Wallace, a fierce segregationist. After he was shot in an attempted assassination, Chisholm visited him in the hospital and prayed at his bedside. "Wallace's daughter later said that that gesture of compassion completely changed her father," Phillips says. Wallace reportedly wept openly, and shifted his stance on racial segregation.

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What survivors of trauma have taught this eminent psychiatrist about hope
2023-10-08, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2023/10/08/1203975027/what-survivor...

In 1968, at the age of 42, psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton sat down to write Death in Life, a book about his experiences interviewing survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over the course of his career, Lifton studied not only survivors of the atomic bombings but Auschwitz survivors, Vietnam war veterans and people who'd been subjected to repression by the Chinese government. The COVID pandemic prompted him to reflect on what he'd learned about mass trauma and resilience – that telling stories about trauma, and even trying to influence policy, can often help people recover. Now 97, Lifton has just published his 13th book, Surviving Our Catastrophes: Resilience and Renewal from Hiroshima to the Covid-19 Pandemic. "I interviewed people who had undergone the most extreme kind of trauma and victimization," [said Lifton]. "And yet some of the very same people who had so suffered from trauma have shown what I call "survivor wisdom" — they transformed themselves from helpless victims to agents of survival. If ... storytelling can include the transformation from the helpless victim to the life-enhancing survivor, then the storytelling is crucial. The storytelling we most encourage is that kind that enables the formerly helpless victim to be transformed in the story, to transform himself or herself, collectively transform themselves into life-affirming survivors. That's the key transformation, and that's the story we [listeners] seek to help them achieve."

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The Norwegian secret: how friluftsliv boosts health and happiness
2023-09-27, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/sep/27/the-norwegian-secret-how...

Friluftsliv [is] a way of being that is part of the Norwegian national identity. The term was coined by the playwright Henrik Ibsen in his 1859 poem On the Heights, although the concept is much older. Its literal translation is “free-air life”, but Ibsen used it to convey a spiritual connection with nature. To modern Norwegians, it means participating in outdoor activities, but also has a deeper sense of de-stressing in nature and sharing in a common culture. An astonishingly high percentage of Norwegians report spending time outdoors. A survey in June by the market research company Kantar TNS found that 83% are interested in friluftsliv, 77% spend time in nature on a weekly basis and 25% do so most days. At many nurseries, toddlers spend 80% of their time outside; at school, there are special days throughout the year when children go out in nature and build campfires. Studies show that being in green spaces helps reduce anxiety and improve cognition. In a 2020 survey, 90% of Norwegians said they felt less stressed and in a better mood when they spent time in nature. Helga Synnevåg Løvoll, a professor of friluftsliv at Volda University College, says the five documented ways to wellbeing can be achieved through friluftsliv (they are “connect”, “be active”, “take notice”, “keep learning” and “give”). This nature-induced wellbeing could be one reason why Norway ranks among the happiest countries in the world. It came seventh in the UN’s World Happiness report in 2023.

Note: Read about the rise of "green prescription" programs in different healthcare systems around the world. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Microplastic pollution: Plants could be the answer
2023-08-16, University of British Columbia
https://news.ubc.ca/2023/08/16/microplastic-pollution-plants-could-be-the-ans...

Could plants be the answer to the looming threat of microplastic pollution? Scientists at UBC’s BioProducts Institute found that if you add tannins—natural plant compounds that make your mouth pucker if you bite into an unripe fruit—to a layer of wood dust, you can create a filter that traps virtually all microplastic particles present in water. While the experiment remains a lab set-up at this stage, the team is convinced that the solution can be scaled up easily and inexpensively. For their study, the team analyzed microparticles released from popular tea bags made of polypropylene. They found that their method (they’re calling it “bioCap”) trapped from 95.2 per cent to as much as 99.9 per cent of plastic particles in a column of water, depending on plastic type. When tested in mouse models, the process was proved to prevent the accumulation of microplastics in the organs. Dr. Rojas, a professor in the departments of wood science, chemical and biological engineering, and chemistry at UBC, adds that it’s difficult to capture all the different kinds of microplastics in a solution, as they come in different sizes, shapes and electrical charges. “There are microfibres from clothing, microbeads from cleansers and soaps, and foams and pellets from utensils, containers and packaging. By taking advantage of the different molecular interactions around tannic acids, our bioCap solution was able to remove virtually all of these different microplastic types.”

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How a dose of MDMA transformed a white supremacist
2023-06-14, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230614-how-a-dose-of-mdma-transformed-a-...

Harriet de Wit, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural science at the University of Chicago, was running an experiment on whether the drug MDMA increased the pleasantness of social touch in healthy volunteers. Mike Bremmer, de Wit's research assistant, appeared at her office door with a concerned look on his face. A man named Brendan had filled out a standard questionnaire at the end. Strangely, at the very bottom of the form, Brendan had written in bold letters: "This experience has helped me sort out a debilitating personal issue. Google my name. I now know what I need to do." Brendan had been the leader of ... a notorious white nationalist group. "Go ask him what he means by 'I now know what I need to do,'" [de Wit] instructed Bremmer. As he clarified to Bremmer, love is what he had just realised he had to do. "Love is the most important thing," he told the baffled research assistant. "I conceived of my relationships with other people not as distinct boundaries with distinct entities, but more as we-are-all-one. I realised I'd been fixated on stuff that doesn't really matter. There are moments when I have racist or antisemitic thoughts ... But now I can recognise that those kinds of thought patterns are harming me more than anyone else." While MDMA cannot fix societal-level drivers of prejudice and disconnection, on an individual basis it can make a difference. In certain cases, the drug may even be able to help people see through the fog of discrimination and fear that divides so many of us.

Note: A case study about Brendan was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. Read more on the healing potentials of psychedelic medicine, including science journalist Rachel Nuwer's new book, I Feel Love: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Walking and yoga 'can cut risk of cancer spreading or returning'
2023-06-06, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jun/06/walking-and-yoga-can-cut-risk...

Walking for 30 minutes a day and practising yoga can help reduce fatigue in cancer patients and cut the risk of the disease spreading, coming back or resulting in death, research suggests. Globally, more than 18 million people develop cancer every year. It is well known that being inactive raises your risk of various forms of the disease. For decades, many oncologists and health professionals have remained reluctant to push patients to exercise in the wake of sometimes gruelling treatment regimes. But the tide appears to be turning. Three studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the world's largest cancer conference, add weight to growing evidence that physical activity can help, not hinder, patients. The first study [examined] the impact of yoga's effect on inflammation. The research ... found those who took up yoga had "significantly lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers" compared with patients in the other group. In the second study, [participants] attended 75-minute yoga or health education classes twice a week for four weeks. Yoga was found to be better at helping relieve fatigue and maintain quality of life, the research found. A third study found cancer patients who are active can reduce their risk of dying by almost a fifth. Patients were ranked by their activity levels, with "active" classed as going for at least one 30-minute walk five days a week. After 180 days, 90% of people in the active group were still alive, compared with 74% in the sedentary group.

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


What does cancer smell like? These animals can sniff it out
2023-02-27, National Geographic
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/these-animals-detect-disea...

Next time you’re irritated that ants have gotten into your kitchen, you might take a moment to consider their extraordinary powers of perception. These tiny animals can detect markers of illness, such as cancer. In fact, ants are just one of many creatures whose senses can register signs of human disease: dogs, rats, bees, and even tiny worms can as well. The silky ant, Formica fusca, a common species found throughout Europe, can be taught to identify the scent of breast cancer in urine. Research from the University Sorbonne Paris Nord in France published this year in Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows ants can learn to distinguish between the scent of urine derived from mice carrying human breast cancer tumors from that of healthy mice. Ants and other animals pick up signs of disease by perceiving various volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These chemicals are produced in a variety of ways and can be found in exhaled breath, and in sweat, urine, and blood. Diseases can change the VOCs we emit, resulting in giving off a different odor. By placing a sugar reward near the cancer sample the ants learned to seek out that scent, a process called operant conditioning. Dogs can be trained to smell several types of cancers, including melanoma, breast and gastrointestinal cancers and some infectious diseases in humans, including malaria and Parkinson’s disease. They can also smell infectious disease in other animals, including chronic wasting disease, which affects the brains of deer and can be fatal.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Your Brain Could Be Controlling How Sick You Get—And How You Recover
2023-02-27, Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/your-brain-could-be-controlling-ho...

Mental states can have a profound impact on how ill we get — and how well we recover. Understanding this could help to boost the placebo effect, destroy cancers, enhance responses to vaccination and even re-evaluate illnesses that, for centuries, have been dismissed as being psychologically driven. Neuroscientist Catherine Dulac and her team at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have pinpointed neurons in an area called the hypothalamus that control symptoms including fever, warmth-seeking and loss of appetite in response to infection. “Most people probably assume that when you feel sick, it’s because the bacteria or viruses are messing up your body,” she says. But her team demonstrated that activating these neurons could generate symptoms of sickness even in the absence of a pathogen. An open question, Dulac adds, is whether these hypothalamic neurons can be activated by triggers other than pathogens, such as chronic inflammation. The insula ... is involved in processing emotion and bodily sensations. A 2021 study ... found that neurons in the insula store memories of past bouts of gut inflammation — and that stimulating those brain cells reactivated the immune response. Such a reaction might prime the body to fight potential threats. But these reactions could also backfire. This could be the case for certain conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, that can be exacerbated by negative psychological states.

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


Dad Wakes From Coma to Discover Artistic Skills He Never Had Before
2022-11-07, Yahoo News
https://uk.news.yahoo.com/dad-wakes-month-long-coma-092327320.html?guccounter=1

A dad has left medics baffled after waking from a coma with extraordinary artistic talents he never had before - and he's now a professional carpenter and model maker. Moe Hunter, 38, spent more than a month in a coma where his heart even stopped after being diagnosed with a rare form of bacterial meningitis and tuberculosis in his brain. He awoke from brain surgery with no memory but soon left his friends and family gobsmacked when he started to display a special gift he didn't possess before. Moe suddenly discovered he had a newfound creative flair and an inexplicable talent for drawing, painting and model building - despite being 'rubbish' at art at school. He used his new skills to embark on a career as a self-employed carpenter and began building intricate life-size model replicas from the world of TV and film. Married dad-of-one Moe has since sold pieces of his artwork and has displayed his amazing creations at Comic-Con events. Moe said: "I really wasn't creative before in the slightest, in fact people used to laugh at my drawings. “Even to this day some of my family can’t believe it. When I spoke to the neurologist he just said 'enjoy it' and said there's so much about the brain they still can't decipher and this is just a phenomenon. I look at all of my stuff now and I'm like 'never in a trillion years could I do this stuff'. I have no idea how it happened. “My doctor said that I was a walking miracle to be able to recover as quickly as I did - but when I started displaying these new artistic talents they were just stumped."

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Calling In: Loretta J. Ross's Antidote to Cancel Culture
2022-10-24, Atmos
https://atmos.earth/calling-in-macarthur-fellow-loretta-j-ross-cancel-culture/

What does it take to have a challenging conversation in the era of cancel culture? For MacArthur Fellow Loretta J. Ross, the answer lies in calling in: a communicative strategy rooted in compassion, accountability, and restorative justice. Cancel culture [is] a phenomenon whereby people deemed to be moral transgressors are publicly discredited on social media platforms, and in some instances, punished through cultural, social, and professional ostracism. Professor Ross thinks this readiness to cancel a person on the basis of their beliefs is toxic. Instead, she espouses empathy and stresses the importance of context in challenging conversations. Calling in is not what you do for other people–it's what you do for yourself. It gives you a chance to offer love, grace, and respect, and to showcase one's own integrity and one's own ability to hold nuance and depth. People mistakenly think that you're doing it because you're trying to change somebody else. That's not possible. And since we don't have the power to control and change others, the only power we're left with is self-empowerment. In this sense, calling in is a conscious decision to not make the world crueler than it needs to be. We're all capable of using a technique I call "the mental parking lot" where you temporarily put aside any visceral reactions you have to what others are saying. It's a technique that requires you not to pay attention to your reaction but rather to devote your focus and respect to the person you're talking to.

Note: Smith College Professor and civil rights activist Loretta Ross worked with Ku Klux Klan members and practiced restorative justice with incarcerated men convicted or raping and murdering women. Watch Loretta Ross's powerful Ted Talk on simple tools to help shift our culture from fighting each other to working together in the face of polarizing social issues.


How mud boosts your immune system
2022-10-10, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220929-how-outdoor-play-boosts-kids-immu...

"Don't get dirty!" was once a constant family refrain, as parents despairingly watched their children spoil their best clothes. Today, many parents may secretly wish their children had the chance to pick up a bit of grime. According to recent research, the dirt outside is teaming with friendly microorganisms that can train the immune system and build resilience to a range of illnesses, including allergies, asthma and even depression and anxiety. Certain natural materials, such as soil and mud ... contain surprisingly powerful microorganisms whose positive impact on children's health we are only beginning to fully understand. Our brains evolved in natural landscapes, and our perceptual systems are particularly well suited to wild outdoor spaces. Supporting this theory, one study from 2009 found that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were better able to concentrate following a 20-minute walk in the park, compared to a 20-minute walk on the streets of a well-kept urban area. People who grow up on farms are generally less likely to develop asthma, allergies, or auto-immune disorders like Crohn's disease [due to] their childhood exposure to a more diverse range of organisms in the rural environment. Michele Antonelli, a doctor from Italy ... has researched the ways that mud therapies can influence health. People with [skin] disorders ... seem to have an impoverished community of organisms. "These microorganisms can play a major role in many major chronic diseases," he says.

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


'It's a beautiful thing': how one Paris district rediscovered conviviality
2022-07-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/14/its-a-beautiful-thing-how-one-p...

A 215-metre-long banquet table, lined with 648 chairs and laden with a home cooked produce, was set up along the Rue de l'Aude and those in attendance were urged to openly utter the most subversive of words: bonjour. For some, that greeting led to the first meaningful exchange between neighbours. "I'd never seen anything like it before," says Benjamin Zhong who runs a cafe in the area. "It felt like the street belonged to me, to all of us." The revolutionaries pledged their allegiance that September day in 2017 to the self-styled R©publique des Hyper Voisins, or Republic of Super Neighbours, a stretch of the 14th arrondissement on the Left Bank, encompassing roughly 50 streets and 15,000 residents. In the five years since, the republic – a "laboratory for social experimentation" – has attempted to address the shortcomings of modern city living, which can be transactional, fast-paced, and lonely. The experiment encourages people ... to interact daily through mutual aid schemes, voluntary skills-sharing and organised meet ups. A recent event at the Place des Droits de l'Enfant allowed neighbours to celebrate reclaiming the public space. A lifeless road junction ... no longer performed its role as an "urban square" – a place for life, interaction and meetings. But after residents were consulted about what they thought the square should become, it was cleaned, pedestrianised, planted and had street clutter removed with a grant of nearly 200,000 euros from the City of Paris.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The French town where the lighting is alive
2022-04-10, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220407-the-living-lights-that-could-redu...

In Rambouillet, a small French town around 30 miles (50km) south-west of Paris, a soft blue light emanated from a row of cylindrical tubes. Members of the public ... were invited to bathe in the glow for a few minutes. Soon, the same azure glow will illuminate the nearby, tree-lined Place André Thomé et Jacqueline Thomé-Patenôtre, located just across from the aptly named La Lanterne performance hall, at night. These ethereal experiments are also underway across France. But unlike standard streetlamps, which often emit a harsh glare and need to be hooked up to the electricity grid, these otherworldly lights are powered by living organisms through a process known as bioluminescence. This phenomenon – where chemical reactions inside an organism's body produce light – can be observed in many places in nature. Organisms as diverse as fireflies, fungi and fish have the ability to glow through bioluminescence. The turquoise blue glow bathing the waiting room in Rambouillet ... comes from a marine bacterium gathered off the coast of France called Aliivibrio fischeri. The bacteria are stored inside saltwater-filled tubes, allowing them to circulate in a kind of luminous aquarium. Since the light is generated through internal biochemical processes that are part of the organism's normal metabolism, running it requires almost no energy. "Our goal is to change the way in which cities use light," says Sandra Rey, founder of the French start-up Glowee, which is behind the project in Rambouillet.

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This Minecraft library is making censored journalism accessible all over the world
2020-03-18, The Verge
https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/18/21184041/minecraft-library-censored-journa...

Minecraft has established itself as a cultural phenomenon for many reasons: it’s creative, collaborative, and sufficiently facile as to be considered accessible to almost anybody. These benefits ... form the perfect vehicle for Reporters Without Borders’ Uncensored Library, a virtual hub housing a collection of otherwise inaccessible journalism from all over the world, with specific sections devoted to Russia, Egypt, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. “In Egypt there’s no free information,” Reporters Without Borders media and public relations officer Kristin Bässe tells me. Mexico is the country where journalists are most at risk, she adds, with governmental and cartel interference often culminating in the death of those voices deemed dissident. “It’s a different form of censorship,” Bässe explains. “People don’t want to publish because they’re scared.” “In the Mexico room we built memorials to 12 Mexican journalists who have been murdered,” [said Blockworks managing director James] Delaney. Delaney tells me that the forms of censorship in Egypt are more blatant. “The articles you see in this room are actually banned,” he explains. “If you live in Egypt you’re unable to access them unless you come to our Minecraft server.” This is the case for the Russian, Vietnamese, and Saudi Arabian sections, too. “The content you find in these rooms is illegal, but we can see from the server logins that we’ve already had people from all five of these countries join and read up on this information,” he says.

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


Blue Planet 'shark dancer' reveals how she's able to relax the predators simply by rubbing an area around their mouths
2019-03-27, Daily Mail (One of the UK's popular newspapers)
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6855429/Blue-Planet-star-turns-sha...

A professional diver has revealed how she uses a little known technique to placate sharks so she can remove hooks from their mouths. Italian-born Cristina Zenato, 47, who is known as 'the shark dancer' is often filmed on the ocean floor with 8ft sharks playing around her and nestling into her knees. The conservationist, who lives on Grand Bahama, has perfected the technique of relaxing the sharks, which is part of her efforts to save them by removing hooks that are caught in their fins. She induces the 'tonic' state in the shark using a little-known technique of rubbing the ampullae of Lorenzini - the name given to hundreds of jelly-filled pores around the animal's nose and mouth. A 'tonic' state is where a shark enters a natural state of paralysis, often by being turned upside down, for up to 15 minutes. The pores act as electroreceptors detecting prey moving in the electromagnetic field around the shark - but also for some reason rubbing them turns 'Jaws' into a sleeping baby. This gives Cristina the time she needs to remove the hooks. 'The first time I put a shark to sleep was my second dive with them,' Cristina [said]. 'This big female swam straight into my lap. The most amazing thing was this 8ft shark just swimming into me and resting her head on me. 'I started crying into my mask because it was so amazing, so unique.' Over the years Cristina has collected more than 200 hooks that have been caught in sharks, and has built up so much trust she's been able to put her whole arm into a shark's mouth to pull out a hook.

Note: Don’t miss this awesome 3-minute video of Cristina removing hooks from the sharks who then snuggle her. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Can lefties and right-wingers find common ground? One site thinks so
2018-12-03, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Can-lefties-and-right-wingers-fi...

Have you experienced being the target of intolerance? What causes you to be intolerant? Sitting in his book-filled Berkeley living room, Lewis Brown Griggs chewed over those questions and others with six other people via the Zoom conferencing app last month. Ranging in age from early 20s to early 70s, and hailing from Colorado, Virginia, Utah, Maryland and California, the group was brought together by Mismatch.org, a site that aims to mismatch people who are politically and geographically diverse for group chats with others of varying viewpoints. Its like a non-romantic dating service for civil discourse. Our nation has so many problems with division, said John Gable, Mismatch co-founder. We need to learn how to talk to people who are different than we are, how to listen to them and understand them as people. In an increasingly polarized country, Mismatch aims to help people across the political spectrum find common ground via structured conversations on topics like immigration, tax reform and climate change. Mismatch grew out of Living Room Conversations, another trans-partisan project that brings together folks of varying views to engage in discourse. But while Living Room Conversations hosts in-person groups ... Mismatch casts a wider net by seeking people nationwide to meet up via videoconferencing. It is about understanding each other as humans, [Gable] said. We may or may not find common ground, but we always find common humanity.

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The Married, Lesbian Palestinian-Jewish Couple Using Comedy to Smash Stereotypes
2018-11-28, Haaretz (One of the Israel's leading newspapers)
https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/the-married-lesbian-palestinian-jewish-couple...

Eman El-Husseini and Jess Salomon have a few people to thank for their marriage, including a drunk Italian guy at a comedy club and Saddam Hussein. Salomon is a Jew from Canada, El-Husseini from a Palestinian family that fled Kuwait in 1991, after the Iraqi invasion. Not many two-person comedy acts can credibly say they are a lesbian Palestinian-Jewish married couple. Its the only conflict you can bring up where everyone knows the reference, Salomon said. Even if youre in the middle of nowhere America, if I say Im Jewish and my wife is Palestinian, people are like Ooooh. The couple took different paths to comedy and have different styles: El-Husseini is louder, Salomon drier. But they are parlaying their marriage into a joint career. They have appeared together several times and are collaborating on a webcomic about their relationship. In one cartoon, El-Husseini encounters Christian missionaries and scares them away just by describing herself: Im Muslim ... and gay ... and my wife is Jewish, she says. Have a nice day, the missionaries respond. Stand-up was a natural fit for El-Husseini, who lived in Canada from 1991 until 2015. She was never interested in school, and couldnt sing or dance, but could tell jokes. She sees comedy as a great way to give Palestinian and Muslim women more representation. Salomon began her career as a lawyer at the Canadian Justice Ministry. She decided to take off a couple years and return to Montreal for a shot at stand-up. That was nearly a decade ago.

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


Meet The White Nationalist Who Walked Away From It All
2018-09-24, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rising-out-of-hatred-derek-black-white-n...

Derek Black was the heir apparent to Americas white nationalist movement. He was the son of Don Black, the founder of the hate site Stormfront and the godson of David Duke, a former grand wizard of the KKK. The kingdom was Derek Blacks for the taking. One day, seemingly out of nowhere, he walked away from it all. In the new book Rising Out of Hatred by Washington Post investigative reporter Eli Saslow, the story of how Black came to leave it all behind is told. Saslow dives deep into Blacks transformation, which took place at a small liberal arts college. When members of the student body discovered a white nationalist living in their midst, many of them publicly shamed him. But a handful of students did the opposite, practicing a form of extreme acceptance. "When I first found [Derek Black], he was unequivocal that he did not want to be written about," [said Saslow]. "He naively thought he could leave it all behind. Meanwhile, white nationalism was seeing a rise in the political space. There were ... phrases he had helped popularize becoming mainstream. Derek felt increasingly culpable. He was haunted by it. Thats when he decided he needed to start talking about it more openly." Derek was on a campus that was ... social justice minded. Students were smart enough to be able to explain concepts like systematic oppression and privilege. But coming from people he respected, those ideas suddenly had real merit to him. He took time to engage and really think about it."

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


Could yoga save prisoners from a life of crime?
2018-09-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/11/yoga-prisons-crime-cut-reoffe...

New research shows the meditative exercise improves mental health, reduces stress and can prevent reoffending. The power of yoga to change [a prisoner's] life is backed by two Swedish studies that found it may reduce reoffending. The new study, led by Professor Nra Kerekes at University West, Trollhtten, in Sweden, and published last week in Frontiers in Psychiatry, found that 10 weeks of regular yoga can lead to a significant reduction in obsessive-compulsive and paranoid thinking, which in turn, say researchers, can make reoffending less likely. This effect is specific to yoga, and not to exercise in general, they found. It can also lead to a decrease in somaticisation (mental distress leading to physical symptoms such as breathing problems, heart pains and stomach upsets). The study of 152 volunteers in nine medium- and high-security prisons in Sweden builds on a 2017 study of the same volunteers that showed that yoga improved stress levels, concentration, sleep quality, psychological and emotional wellbeing, as well as reducing aggression and antisocial behaviour. A Prison Service spokeswoman says: Research shows activities like this can make prisoners less likely to reoffend, keeping the public safer. She was unable to explain why, given this evidence, it wasnt government policy to make yoga available to all prisoners, but said it was up to individual prison governors to decide which activities to offer.

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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 hell tell you its 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 persons 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 programs numbers show thats not the case. Back on My Feets 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 thermometers bubbling over or when its frozen solid - instills discipline and responsibility in the participants. Theyre two valuable concepts, but both are hard to teach in the abstract. They need to be lived to be experienced.

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

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: dumping, graffiti, drug dealing, prostitution, robberies, aggravated assault and burglaries. 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. I asked police to check their crime statistics for the block radius around the statue, and here's what they found: 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.

Note: Watch an inspiring 3-minute video of this transformation. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


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.


Alan Turing, code-breaker castrated for homosexuality, receives royal pardon
2013-12-24, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/24/world/europe/alan-turing-royal-pardon

Alan Turing, a British code-breaker during World War II who was later subjected to chemical castration for homosexual activity, has received a royal pardon nearly 60 years after he committed suicide. Turing was best known for developing the Bombe, a code-breaking machine that deciphered messages encoded by German machines. His work is considered by many to have saved thousands of lives and helped change the course of the war. "Dr. Turing deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science," British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said. "A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man." Turing's castration in 1952 -- after he was convicted of homosexual activity, which was illegal at the time -- is "a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed," Grayling said. Two years after the castration, which Turing chose to avoid a custodial sentence, he ended his life at the age of 41 by eating an apple laced with cyanide. Supporters have long campaigned for Turing to receive greater recognition for his work and official acknowledgment that his punishment was wrong. An online petition in 2009 that drew tens of thousands of signatures succeeded in getting an apology from then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown for Turing's treatment by the justice system in the 1950s. Brown described the Turing sentence as "appalling." The German messages that Turing cracked at the British government's code-breaking headquarters in Bletchley Park provided the Allies with crucial information. Turing was considered a mathematical genius.

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Dick Hoyt, 'heart and soul of the Boston Marathon,' dies at 80
2021-03-17, Boston Globe
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/03/18/metro/dick-hoyt-heart-soul-boston-mara...

By his own assessment, Dick Hoyt wasn't in racing shape the first time his teenage son Rick, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, asked if they could participate in a 5-mile fund-raising race – father pushing son in a wheelchair. "I said, 'Yeah, let's go down there and try it.' I had no idea what would happen, and nobody else did, either," Mr. Hoyt later recalled. "Most people expected us to go down to the corner and come back, but we ended up doing the whole thing." From those first racing steps, the two became legends in running circles and inspirational worldwide as they participated in more than 1,000 competitions, including dozens of marathons and multiple triathlons. Mr. Hoyt ... was 80 when he died of heart failure Wednesday. Though Mr. Hoyt and Rick posted a best time of 2:40:47 in the Marine Corps Marathon – a pace many marathoners will never touch running alone – the teaming of father and son was, for both, more important than all else. "When we're out there," Mr. Hoyt told the Globe in 1990, "there's nothing I feel I can't do with Rick." "Dick started this whole movement of duos, and Team Hoyt inspired thousands of people around the world," said longtime Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray. "He helped open the door to people believing in themselves, and the walls of intimidation crumbled." Most runners would be too intimidated to even try what Mr. Hoyt did over and over again – push a wheelchair carrying a boy, who became a grown man, up and down hills for 26.2 miles.

Note: Don't miss the profoundly inspiring and beautiful story and video of this dynamic duo available on this webpage. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles.


A new social movement is helping connect those who need help with those who can help
2020-05-24, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/24/us/iyw-pandemic-of-love-organization-trnd/inde...

The coronavirus pandemic has inspired a grassroots movement that is connecting people who need help with donors who can offer financial assistance. So far, contributors have passed $13 million through more than 100,000 matches. Shelly Tygielski came up with the idea that she named Pandemic of Love. The mindfulness teacher in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was looking for simple ways people in her community could take care of each other. "I posted the original video and the two links to signup forms on my social media feeds on March 14 and woke up the next morning and there were already 400 requests to get help and 500 to give help," Tygielski said. Tygielski shares her Pandemic of Love organization model with volunteers in other cities. These volunteers build teams to match applicants in their community and reach out to other communities when they need assistance. Maurico Martinez ... filled out the form to get help and received a text from an unknown number from California. "I got a text message from a lady named Simone in San Francisco, and she was willing to help me out, and 'what did I need, groceries, gasoline?' and could she send me some money?" Martinez told CNN. "She sent me a couple hundred dollars and I was so thankful and I wanted to pay her back. She said, 'No, this was Pandemic of Love,' and so then we started talking," Martinez recalled. "We started becoming friends ... and it was wonderful."

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


How Finland Solved Homelessness
2019-01-30, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/homelessness-finland-housing-first_us_5c...

Finlands much-lauded housing first approach ... has been in place for more than a decade. The idea is simple. To solve homelessness you start by giving someone a home, a permanent one with no strings attached. If they want to drink, they can; if they want to take drugs, thats fine too. Support services are made available to treat addiction, mental health and other problems, and to help people get back on their feet, from assisting with welfare paperwork to securing a job. The housing in Finland is a mix of designated standard apartments sprinkled through the community, and supported housing: apartment blocks with on-site services, built or renovated specifically for chronically homeless people. Formerly homeless residents ... pay rent from their own pockets or through the benefits afforded by Finlands relatively generous welfare state. The approach is working. As homelessness rises across Europe, Finlands numbers are falling. In 1987, there were around 18,000 homeless people. In 2017, there were 7,112 homeless people, of which only 415 were living on the streets or in emergency shelters. The vast majority (84 percent) were staying temporarily with friends or relatives. Between 2008 and 2015, the number of people experiencing long-term homelessness dropped by 35 percent. While its expensive to build, buy and rent housing for homeless people, as well as provide the vital support services, the architects of the policy say it pays for itself. Studies have found housing one long-term homeless person saves society around 15,000 ($17,000) a year ... due to a reduction in their use of services such as hospital emergency rooms, police and the criminal justice system.

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


'The Price of Free' star Kailash Satyarthi says consumers have the power to end child slavery
2018-11-29, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-price-of-free-star-kailash-satyarthi-says-co...

Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi wants consumers to ask more questions. Satyarthi stars in the new documentary, "The Price of Free," in which he rescues child slaves in India who work in factories, some of which supply U.S. stores. He told CBS News, "For every product, consumers can ask this question to the brand or shopkeepers, 'How can you guarantee that they are truly made without child labor?' That can be the starting point ... When consumers start asking questions, then [stores] have to find answers." Satyarthi said consumers have the power to hold businesses accountable for their practices. "It would not be too difficult to write to president of a company and ask, 'How will you ensure that your products are made without child labor?'" he said. "This is their moral and legal responsibility to ensure that no child exploit or labor is engaged. Brands cannot just escape." Satyarthi began his work freeing child slaves in India in 1981 and says he has saved more than 85,000 children since then. He has expanded his work to reach children around the world who are touched by not just slavery, but also trafficking, sexual abuse and other types of violence. The children come from poor families who are told they will be paid and taken care of; instead, they become enslaved under poor working conditions. He said that beyond the rescues, his organizations make sure the children have the social and educational support they need through government services before they are released.

Note: Why have so few ever heard of this most amazing, courageous man who has risked his life countless times to rescue tens of thousands of children from slave labor? After surviving numerous beatings and the murder of two of his colleagues, Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for creating a global network focused on fighting for the rights of over 100 million child workers worldwide and rescuing the many millions still held as slave labor in almost every country in the world. Don't miss the moving documentary on Sartyarthi and his work titled "The Price of Free."


In Sweden, Trash Heats Homes, Powers Buses and Fuels Taxi Fleets
2018-09-21, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/21/climate/sweden-garbage-used-for-fuel.html

In a cavernous room filled with garbage, a giant mechanical claw reaches down and grabs five tons of trash. As a technician in a control room maneuvers the spiderlike crane, the claw drops its moldering harvest down a 10-story shaft into a boiler that is hotter than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The process continues 24 hours a day to help fuel this power plant run by Tekniska Verken, a municipal government company in Linköping, a city 125 miles south of Stockholm. It is one of Sweden’s 34 “waste-to-energy” power plants. Instead of burning coal or gas, this power plant burns trash. Sweden is known for strikingly reducing the trash sent to its landfills. Less than 1 percent of household waste in this Scandinavian country finds it way to landfills, according to Avfall Sverige, the Swedish Waste Management and Recycling association. Trash accounts for a small portion of Sweden’s overall power supply; hydro and nuclear energy generate about 83 percent of Sweden’s electricity, and wind generates another 7 percent. But garbage supplies much of the heat during cold months for the country’s nearly 10 million residents. Energy from trash equals the heating demand of 1.25 million apartments and electricity for 680,000 homes, according to Avfall Sverige. Along with heat and electricity, Tekniska Verken produces methane biogas from 100,000 tons of food and organic waste each year. This biogas runs more than 200 city buses in the county, as well as fleets of garbage collection trucks, and some taxis and private cars.

Note: Why aren't other countries racing to embrace this amazing technology which remediates the huge trash problem? 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 caf. 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.


This City Makes Sure No One Goes Hungry–Even During COVID
2020-11-09, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2020/11/09/covid-brazil-food-secur...

Nestled on a wide plateau surrounded by the Espinhaco Mountains in southeastern Brazil is the city of Belo Horizonte. The city of 2.5 million is an industrial and technological hub, which had historically led to stark socioeconomic divisions, including high rates of poverty. But while other similarly situated cities around the globe struggle to meet the basic needs of their residents, Belo Horizonte pioneered a food security system that has effectively eliminated hunger in the city. The entire program requires less than 2% of the city's annual budget. Building off Brazil's grassroots Movement for Ethics in Politics, in 1993 Belo Horizonte enacted a municipal law that established a citizen's right to food. Today, Belo Horizonte's food security system comprises 20 interconnected programs that approach food security in sustainable ways. When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit Brazil in February, Belo Horizonte was well-positioned to address at least one attendant issue of the pandemic: The city already had a substantial infrastructure for distributing fresh, healthy food at low or no-cost to the vast majority of its residents. As Brazil's COVID-19 cases skyrocketed and the need became greater, businesses, nonprofits, and individuals offered financial and distribution support to expand the existing food security network, including increasing the number of open-air markets and restaurants available to distribute food to those in need.

Note: Why hasn't this most inspiring news been reported widely in the major media? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


We Could All Be in the Circle
2020-04-17, PsychCentral
https://web.archive.org/web/20200423215619/https://psychcentral.com/lib/we-co...

When we think about people who are behind bars for crimes simple or heinous, our minds take us to a place of judgment. We may view inmates as less than: less intelligent, less successful, less worthy of love and support. We may see them as “other.” The reality is, we may all be a few experiences away from potentially committing a crime. A video that poignantly highlights the dynamics that could lead to incarceration is called Step Inside the Circle. It begins with a group of 235 men in blue uniforms in a yard of a maximum-security prison. Barbed wire and guards surround them. They tower over a petite blond woman wearing a black and white t-shirt that says There Is No Shame. She carries a megaphone through which she invites them to step inside the circle if they have experienced verbal or physical abuse and neglect, if they lived in a home without feeling loved, if they had given up on themselves. One by one and then in multitudes, they join Fritzi Horstman as together they chant “There is no shame,” over and over. A group of them move indoors and sit in a circle of chairs with Horstman admitting her own wounds that led to criminal activity. That opened the door for the participants to describe the wounds they have carried for much of their lives. [The] men were visibly moved, some wiping their eyes, some providing brotherly support and admitted that they were breaking the code by being vulnerable. They discovered that it was a unifying experience and they felt less isolated as a result.

Note: Two short, incredibly inspiring documentaries show how these inmates' lives have been transformed. Don't miss "Step Inside the Circle" (7 min) and "Honor Yard" (8 min).


Her Life's a Sprint, Legacy Long Running
1994-11-13, Chicago Tribune
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1994-11-13-9411130119-story.html

Wilma Rudolph outran poverty, polio, scarlet fever and the limits placed on black women by societal convention to win three gold medals in sprint events at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. By the time brain cancer caught Rudolph, leading to her death Saturday at age 54, she had achieved a stature that made her legend and her sport greater in the long run. The 20th of 22 children of a porter and a cleaning lady, Rudolph lost the use of her left leg after contracting polio and scarlet fever at age 4. Doctors told her parents she never would walk again without braces, but she refused to accept that prognosis and began to walk unassisted at age 9. It wasn't long before she was outrunning all the girls and boys in her neighborhood. At 16, already under the tutelage of Tennessee State University coach Ed Temple, Rudolph won a bronze medal on the 4 x 100-meter relay at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Four years later, when she was the mother of a 2-year-old, Rudolph won the three golds despite running all three events with a sprained ankle. After being voted Associated Press female athlete of the year in 1960 and 1961 and the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete in 1961, Rudolph retired at 21, a decision that reflects an era in which lack of financial incentives kept most Olympic careers short. She turned to a variety of humanitarian projects, including goodwill ambassador to West Africa, coaching at DePauw University and working for underprivileged children through the Wilma Rudolph Foundation.

Note: The remarkable woman once commented, "My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother."


The best Yale classes you can take online for free including the most popular course in the university's history
2020-08-31, Business Insider
https://www.businessinsider.com/yale-free-online-courses

Thanks to the internet and MOOC (massive open online courses) culture, it's not hard to find courses from prestigious universities such as Yale online for free or cheap. Counter to the Ivy League's legacy of exclusivity, MOOCs are designed to remove traditional education barriers: price and location. In fact, Yale offers access to a handful of recorded in-person courses such as African American History: From Emancipation to the Present via Open Yale Courses, a platform where anyone can access the lectures. However, lecture-listeners won't earn course credit, degrees, or a certificate of completion. If you're looking for a classroom-like educational experience with more structure, feedback, and peers, you'll want to turn to Coursera. The online learning platform features more than a dozen Yale courses that range in topic from economics to parenting to happiness. Coursera classes typically include video lectures, resources, community discussions, and quizzes. They're free to enroll in, but you'll have to pay a low fee (starting at $49) for features like graded homework assignments or certificates of completion, which can be added to a LinkedIn page. Based on the most popular course in Yale's history, [The Science of Well-Being] combines positive psychology with the real-life applications of behavioral science to increase your own happiness using concrete, productive habits. Read our full review of The Science of Well-Being course here.

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


Dr Abhay Bang: the revolutionary paediatrician
2011-03-19, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2011/mar/20/dr-abhay-bang-revo...

Dr Abhay Bang does not look like a pioneer. And yet ... this is the man who has revolutionised healthcare for the poorest people in India and who has overseen a programme that has sent infant mortality rates plummeting in one of the most poverty-stricken areas of the world. Medical experts now believe that Dr Bang's radical beliefs hold the key to tackling the myriad endemic health problems that blight the developing word. Instead of accepting the traditional hospital-based treatment model, Dr Bang has spent the last 26 years training up local volunteers in Gadchiroli, one of the most deprived districts in the Indian state of Maharashtra, to treat simple maladies at home. The World Health Organisation and Unicef have recently endorsed his approach to treating newborn babies and the programme is currently being rolled out to parts of Africa. In 1988, 121 newborn babies were dying out of every 1,000 births in the area. The newborn death rate in Gadchiroli has now fallen to 30 per 1,000 live births. Dr Bang's solution was simple: he trained a group of local women in the basics of neonatal care. They were taught how to diagnose pneumonia (using an abacus to count breaths), how to resuscitate children and how to administer some basic antibiotics. Instead of villagers having to walk for miles to get to the nearest hospital, these health visitors (called arogyadoots, which means "health messengers") went to where they were most needed.

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


New Mark Cuban Company Slashes High Drug Prices: 'Life Changing'
2022-06-07, Newsweek
https://www.newsweek.com/mark-cuban-company-slashes-high-drug-prices-praise-s...

Celebrity investor Mark Cuban is receiving praise on social media after he launched a new company that provides patients access to affordable medications. Cuban launched the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company (MCCPDC), a direct-to-consumer online company that offers more than 100 generic medications at discounted prices. The investor said he aims to "be the low-cost provider of medications to patients." He continued: "If you don't have insurance or have a high deductible plan, you know that even the most basic medications can cost a fortune. Many people are spending crazy amounts of money each month just to stay healthy. No American should have to suffer or worse—because they can't afford basic prescription medications." The company's low costs are achieved by working directly with partners, which "allows us to only markup our costs by 15 percent," Cuban explained. Explaining the business model, Cuban cited the drug prescribed for hookworm, Albendazole, which can cost as much as $500 per course. "Our cost for Albendazole is $26.08 per course. We mark that price up by 15 percent so we can continue to run the company and invest in disrupting the pricing of as many drugs as we possibly can," he explained. "That makes the base price of the drug $30. Then we add on the actual cost, $3.00, that our pharmacy partners charge us to prepare and provide your prescription to you. "That makes the sales price on this website $33. Far, far lower than the pricing available in the marketplace."

Note: As big Pharma rakes in the huge profits, Marc Cuban has created a new company called CostPlus which brings many expensive drugs to you at a fraction of the price. Sadly, very few of the major media are reporting on this. Cuban says, “Everyone should have safe, affordable medicines with transparent prices.”


A Cancer Trial’s Unexpected Result: Remission in Every Patient
2022-06-05, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/05/health/rectal-cancer-checkpoint-inhibitor....

It was a small trial, just 18 rectal cancer patients, every one of whom took the same drug. But the results were astonishing. The cancer vanished in every single patient, undetectable by physical exam, endoscopy, PET scans or M.R.I. scans. Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr. of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, an author of a paper published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine describing the results ... said he knew of no other study in which a treatment completely obliterated a cancer in every patient. “I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,” Dr. Diaz said. Dr. Alan P. Venook, a colorectal cancer specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved with the study, said he also thought this was a first. A complete remission in every single patient is “unheard-of,” he said. These rectal cancer patients had faced grueling treatments — chemotherapy, radiation and, most likely, life-altering surgery that could result in bowel, urinary and sexual dysfunction. Some would need colostomy bags. They entered the study thinking that, when it was over, they would have to undergo those procedures because no one really expected their tumors to disappear. But they got a surprise: No further treatment was necessary. “There were a lot of happy tears,” said Dr. Andrea Cercek, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a co-author of the paper. Another surprise, Dr. Venook added, was that none of the patients had clinically significant complications.

Note: Will this amazing treatment be suppressed, like so many others before it? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'Light responsive' technology turns seawater into clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes
2020-08-10, Daily Mail
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8612107/Seawater-clean-drinki...

Scientists have developed new technology that can turn seawater into clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes. Researchers based in Australia used a metal-organic framework (MOF), a type of lattice-like crystal, to desalinate water. The hollow framework of pores separates the salty solute within the brackish water or even saltier seawater, in a process known as molecular sieving. Under dark conditions, the framework absorbs salts and other impurities in the water in 30 minutes. The MOF itself is then regenerated for reuse in just four minutes, using sunlight to remove the adsorbed salts. The light-responsive MOF was used to filter harmful particles from water and generate 139.5 litres of clean water per kilogram of MOF per day. Scientists say their technology is more energy-efficient than current desalination practices, including reverse osmosis, and could provide potable water for millions globally. Water scarcity is one of the largest global risks in the upcoming years, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). Thermal desalination processes by evaporation using solar energy are widely used to produce fresh water, but can be highly energy intensive. 'Sunlight is the most abundant and renewable source of energy on Earth,' said Professor Huanting Wang ... at Monash University in Australia. 'Our development of a new adsorbent-based desalination process through the use of sunlight for regeneration provides an energy-efficient and environmentally-sustainable solution for desalination.'

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


Not So Random Acts: Science Finds That Being Kind Pays Off
2020-07-02, New York Times/Associated Press
https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/07/02/us/ap-virus-outbreak-science-of-k...

Research shows that acts of kindness make us feel better and healthier. Kindness is also key to how we evolved and survived as a species, scientists say. We are hard-wired to be kind. Psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky has put that concept to the test in numerous experiments over 20 years and repeatedly found that people feel better when they are kind to others, even more than when they are kind to themselves. Acts of kindness are very powerful, Lyubomirsky said. In one experiment, she asked subjects to do an extra three acts of kindness for other people a week and asked a different group to do three acts of self-kindness. The people who were kind to others became happier and felt more connected to the world. The same occurred with money, using it to help others versus helping yourself. Lyubomirsky said she thinks it is because people spend too much time thinking and worrying about themselves and when they think of others while doing acts of kindness, it redirects them away from their own problems. Oxfords [Oliver] Curry analyzed peer-reviewed research like Lyubomirskys and found at least 27 studies showing the same thing: Being kind makes people feel better emotionally. But its not just emotional. Its physical. Lyubomirsky said a study of people with multiple sclerosis ... found they felt better physically when helping others. She also found that in people doing more acts of kindness that the genes that trigger inflammation were turned down more than in people who dont.

Note: If the above link fails, this article is also available here. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dogs Can Detect Malaria. How Useful Is That?
2018-11-05, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/05/health/dogs-malaria-mosquitos.html

Dogs have such exquisitely sensitive noses that they can detect bombs, drugs, citrus and other contraband in luggage or pockets. Is it possible that they can sniff out even malaria? And when might that be useful? A small pilot study has shown that dogs can accurately identify socks worn overnight by children infected with malaria parasites even when the children had cases so mild that they were not feverish. In itself, such canine prowess is not surprising. Since 2004, dogs have shown that they can detect bladder cancer in urine samples, lung cancer in breath samples and ovarian cancer in blood samples. Trained dogs now warn owners with diabetes when their blood sugar has dropped dangerously low and owners with epilepsy when they are on the verge of a seizure. Other dogs are being taught to detect Parkinsons disease years before symptoms appear. The new study ... does not mean that dogs will replace laboratories. But for sorting through crowds, malaria-sniffing dogs could potentially be very useful. Some countries and regions that have eliminated the disease share heavily trafficked borders with others that have not. For example, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the island of Zanzibar have no cases but get streams of visitors from Mozambique, India and mainland Tanzania. And when a region is close to eliminating malaria, dogs could sweep through villages, nosing out silent carriers people who are not ill but have parasites in their blood that mosquitoes could pass on to others.

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


World's Oldest Yoga Teacher Shares Her Tips for a Long, Happy Life
2018-05-22, People
https://people.com/health/tao-porchon-lynch-oldest-yoga-teacher-shares-her-be...

Tao Porchon-Lynch is 99 years old, and shes still practices and teaches! yoga regularly. So whats her secret to staying happy and active? Every morning I wake up and say this is going to be the best day of my life and it is, Porchon-Lynch tells Well and Good. My life is my meditation. Porchon-Lynch abides by three simple tips to stay upbeat. The first is to not get fixated on bad things that may or may not happen. Your mind gets in the way. It plagues you with all of the things that can go wrong, she says. I dont let it get in my way. Secondly, she says to stop judging others. Dont look down on anyone, she says. Know that you can learn from everyone. Finally, Porchon-Lynch says to begin each day feeling happy. Wake up with a smile on your face! Porchon-Lynch has been practicing yoga for over 70 years, and has been teaching it for 45. She encourages people of all ages to try yoga, and says its never too late to start. Dont give up and think, Ive done it. Now I can sit back, she [said]. You havent seen enough of this earth and there is a lot more to see that is beautiful.

Note: For more on this amazing woman, see this Newsweek article.


Getting On the Dance Floor Will Shred Pounds in Overweight People, Improve Blood Pressure and Mental Health
2024-01-23, Good News Network
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/getting-on-dance-floor-will-shred-pounds-in-o...

Boogying the night away produces meaningful improvements in one's body mass and waist circumference in people who are overweight or obese, a new study found. Dancing was also seen to improve blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, physical fitness, cognitive disorders, hypertension, cardiovascular ailments, diabetes, and mental health—in other words, all the root causes of the non-communicable diseases that kill most people in the West. The researchers believed that dance would be a more ideal form of exercise because it is sustainable—it's a sociable, entertaining way of exercising that participants will enjoy, rather than a drudgery they have to push themselves through. “Dance is effective on fat loss in people overweight and obese and has a significant improvement on body composition and morphology,” said Zhang Yaya, a Ph.D. student at Hunan University, China. To get their results, published in the journal PLoS ONE, the team studied data from 646 participants who were overweight and obese across ten different studies. They found that dance is very effective for improving body composition and showed that more creative dance types had the most pronounced body composition improvement when compared with traditional dance. Improvements were also found in overweight children and patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


What We Learned From Creating the Largest Guaranteed Income Program in America
2024-01-01, Newsweek
https://www.newsweek.com/what-we-learned-creating-largest-guaranteed-income-p...

Direct cash programs are growing across America, offering a path out of poverty through economic mobility. During a two-week period in 2022, nearly a quarter of a million people in the Chicago area applied for the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot, the nation's largest direct cash pilot, and ultimately 3,250 families were randomly selected to get $500 a month for two years. Similar direct cash initiatives have changed the physical, emotional, and economic lives of families that participate. Children are better cared for, and they excel in school. Adults experience improved health and stronger familial relationships. And crucially, when recipients have economic stability, they can plan and invest in their futures—many, for the first time in their lives. The Stockton SEED project, which gave $500 a month for two years to 130 people, saw results that mirrored prior direct cash research. The study ... found that the expansion of finances and the predictable, stable source of income brought by the program created "self-determination and capacity for risk-taking not present prior," meaning that when participants could predictably afford child care, transportation, and training programs they had the financial freedom to invest in their own futures. People have big ambitions, no matter the size of their bank account. For most Americans facing economic struggles, their chief problem is a lack of cash, and not a lack of character.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


For the first time, US prisoners graduate from top university
2023-11-16, Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/world/us/first-time-us-prisoners-graduate-top-univers...

Northwestern University's Prison Education Program welcomed its inaugural graduating class of incarcerated students on Wednesday, marking the first time a top-ranked U.S. university has awarded degrees to students in prison. Evanston, Illinois-based Northwestern ... runs the program in partnership with Oakton College and the Illinois Department of Corrections. It was a moving commencement ceremony for the 16 graduating men and their loved ones at the Stateville correctional facility in Crest Hill. "I have no words for this, (it's) otherworldly. Coming from where I came from, the things that I've been through and to be here is indescribable," said graduate Michael Broadway after the ceremony. Broadway attained his degree despite several setbacks, including battling stage 4 prostate cancer. "I'm just so proud of him," said his mother Elizabeth. "I really am. He looks so good in that gown." Due to ill health, she had not seen Broadway since ... 2005. Professor Jennifer Lackey is the program's founding director. "Twenty years ago, some of these guys were in rival gangs, and here they are swapping poetry with each other and giving critical engagements on sociology assignments," said Lackey. "The love and growth that we see in the community is really unlike anything I've experienced at the on-campus commencements." Around 100 students are enrolled in the Northwestern program across Stateville and the Logan Correctional Center, a women's prison.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Building bridges in the midst of conflict: 12 organizations working for Israel-Palestine peace
2023-10-25, Optimist Daily
https://www.optimistdaily.com/2023/10/building-bridges-in-the-midst-of-confli...

While the sad reality of violence and division dominates the media, countless grassroots organizations are working tirelessly to bring peace and reconciliation to the Israel-Palestine conflict. As the region continues to be ravaged by violence, Standing Together, Israel’s largest Arab-Jewish grassroots organization, brings together Jewish and Palestinian volunteers. They labor relentlessly to assist victims of continuous violence while also campaigning for peace, equality, social justice, and climate justice. Their message is clear: the future they envision is one of peace, Israeli and Palestinian independence, full equality, and environmental justice. The Parents Circle – Families Forum, which includes over 600 families who have lost loved ones in the conflict, is a symbol of reconciliation. This joint Israeli-Palestinian organization encourages conversation and reconciliation through education, public gatherings, and media participation, presenting a ray of hope for a future of coexistence. Integrated schools in Israel, where Jewish and Palestinian children attend classes together, serve as an example of a more inclusive future. Hand in Hand promotes understanding by bringing parents together for debate and shared study of Hebrew and Arabic. They are sowing seeds of oneness. Jerusalem Peacebuilders brings together Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans with the goal of developing tomorrow’s leaders. Their work highlights the futility of violent war and the critical need for nonviolence.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The Backyard Farmers Who Grow Food With Fog
2023-09-18, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/lima-fog-catchers-water-scarcity-irrigation/

At the highest point of Los Tres Miradores, a terrifyingly steep urban settlement with soaring views across Peru’s capital, Lima, there is a curious set of large structures that resemble a fleet of ships in the sky. They are so-called “fog catchers.” About 40 of these netted devices, made of high density Raschel polyethylene and spanning several meters wide, are lined up atop a misty mound and linked by a network of tubes that lead to storage containers. Home to a population of more than 10 million, Lima is one of the driest cities in the world. [The nonprofit] El Movimiento Peruanos sin Agua has helped install 600 fog catchers across Lima and a total of 2,000 across Peru, including in the regions of Arequipa, Iquitos and Cuzco. According to [founder Abel] Cruz, one man he supported is even able to raise 1,000 chickens thanks to fog catchers. In June, the project received a significant boost when it signed an agreement with the Mayor of Lima to install 10,000 more fog catchers in the hills surrounding the city in the next four years. The municipality ... said the project has the potential to “reforest, create ecological lungs, ecotourism and at the same time provide water for human consumption, for bio-orchards, botanical gardens, washing clothes, utensils and more.” In Los Tres Miradores, the 40 fog catchers — which were installed in 2021 — provide enough water for 180 families, whether to bathe, clean, drink (after being filtered at home) or to irrigate crops on small garden patches.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Getting the Soil Right: How Carbon Farming Combats Climate Change
2023-09-15, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/carbon-farming-climate-change-regenerative-...

The solution to stopping climate change might be buried on 10 acres in the Pauma Valley of California. “The idea is not just to produce food but to improve the soil,” says Alvarez, Solidarity Farm’s Climate Resilience Specialist. “We stopped using the plow to turn the soil, and we do a lot of composting and mulching to improve our soil health.” Solidarity Farm had used organic principles in the 10 years since its inception, but it pivoted to carbon farming after the extreme heat in the summer of 2017. Carbon farmers cultivate plants and trees in a way that maximizes carbon sequestration in the soil. Among the most important practices for carbon farmers are minimizing soil erosion by planting perennials and ground cover, which also lowers soil temperatures, and only working the land by hand or with low-tech solutions. “The soil has the capacity to store more carbon than all plants on the planet together,” Alvarez says. Solidarity Farms produces a diverse range of about 60 different fruits and vegetables, at least 70 percent of them perennial crops such as plums and pomegranates. Stacks of organic chicken manure in front of the vegetable beds wait to be distributed. The farmers enrich the soil with compost and mulch, while deterring pests with diverse crop rotation. According to soil tests, the Solidarity farmers have tripled the amount of carbon in the ground since 2018. “This equates to a drawdown of nearly 600 metric tons of CO2 per year, offsetting the emissions of 80 American households,” Alvarez says.

Note: Have you seen the groundbreaking and inspiring movie Kiss the Ground? In a time where we're told hopeless and divisive narratives about our current environmental challenges, people all over the world are reversing the damage from destroyed ecosystems, regenerating the world's soils, and creating abundant food supplies. Don't miss this powerful film on the growing regenerative agriculture movement and its power to revive global community and our connection to the natural world.


Psychedelic drug MDMA moves closer to US approval following success in PTSD trial
2023-09-14, Nature
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-02886-x

The psychedelic drug MDMA, also known as ecstasy or molly, has passed another key hurdle on its way to regulatory approval as a treatment for mental illness. A second large clinical trial has found that the drug — in combination with psychotherapy — is effective at treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In June, Australia became the first country to allow physicians to prescribe MDMA for treating psychiatric conditions. MDMA is illegal in the United States and other countries because of the potential for its misuse. But the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) ... has long been developing a proprietary protocol for using MDMA as a treatment for PTSD and other disorders. MAPS has been campaigning for its legalization. In 2021, researchers sponsored by MAPS reported the results of a study in which 90 people received a form of psychotherapy developed by the organization alongside either MDMA or a placebo. After three treatment sessions, 67% of those who received MDMA with therapy no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis, compared with 32% of those who received therapy and a placebo. The results of a second trial ... were similar: 71% of people who received MDMA alongside therapy lost their PTSD diagnosis. A MAPS spokesperson says that the organization plans to seek formal FDA approval before the end of this year, and that because the agency has already designated MDMA as a ‘breakthrough therapy’ ... it will be evaluated quickly.

Note: Read more about the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


‘This way of farming is really sexy’: the rise of regenerative agriculture
2023-08-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/aug/14/this-way-of-farming-is-re...

Hollie Fallick looks over Brading on the Isle of Wight, at a patchwork of fields bordered by ancient oaks. She farms with her best friend, Francesca Cooper. The friends ... are part of a growing global movement practising regenerative agriculture – or regen ag for short. “Regenerative agriculture is nature-friendly farming,” says Fallick. “It’s thinking about the health of soil, animals, humans and how they all link together.” On Nunwell home farm, which sits alongside land the pair manage for the Wildlife Trust and produces meat and eggs for their direct-to-consumer business, chickens peck away alongside belted Galloway cows, nomadic pigs graze on grass as well as kale and bean “cover crops” sown to boost nutrients in the soil. The idea is that by following the basic principles of regen ag – not disturbing the soil, keeping it covered, maintaining living roots, growing a diverse range of crops and the use of grazing animals – they can regenerate tired and depleted soil and produce nutritious food.  The work, they argue, is urgent. Up to 40% of the world's land is now degraded by industrial and harmful farming methods, according to the UN. Barnes Edwards, co-director of the Garlic Farm ... argues that regen ag farmers recognise the “hideously negative impact” of badly managed livestock farming. But they also argue “it’s the how, not the cow”, and say that cows pooing and trampling in diversely planted fields boosts soil health, micronutrients and attracts insects, birds and butterflies.

Note: Don't miss Kiss the Ground, a powerful documentary on the growing regenerative agriculture movement and its power to build global community, reverse the many environmental crises we face, and revive our connection to the natural world. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Beyond Banking Scandals: The Blockchain Promise of Transparency and Trust
2023-08-10, The Street
https://www.thestreet.com/cryptocurrency/beyond-banking-scandals-the-blockcha...

In a recent discussion on the implications of blockchain technology and its democratization of finance, Roundtable anchor, Rob Nelson and Jordan Fried, CEO of Immutable Holdings explored the depth and magnitude of the possible changes ahead. Jordan Fried ... discussed the roots of Bitcoin, stating it was a direct protest against institutions like BlackRock and the financial systems that seemed to work only for the wealthy. Recalling the 2008 financial crisis, Fried expressed the sentiments of many who wondered why banks were bailed out while average individuals suffered. Bitcoin arose from this frustration, offering a transparent financial system unlike anything before. Expanding on this, Fried emphasized the transparency of Bitcoin in comparison to traditional currencies. In Bitcoin's blockchain, every transaction is traceable, unlike the ambiguous dealings within the current banking system. Contrary to common misconceptions ... only a fraction of crime occurs in crypto, as compared to the US dollar. Most financial crimes, including money laundering, are committed in US dollars. Rob Nelson humorously highlighted the recurring financial scandals of banks like Wells Fargo, suggesting that these financial giants often factor in their fines as just another "cost of doing business." In this evolving era of blockchain and cryptocurrency, one thing is clear: the potential impact on the financial world is vast. The very essence of how we view and interact with money is on the cusp of profound change.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Mangrove forest thrives around what was once Latin America's largest landfill
2023-07-26, CBS/Associated Press
https://www.cbs42.com/news/international/ap-mangrove-forest-thrives-around-wh...

It was once Latin America's largest landfill. Now, a decade after Rio de Janeiro shut it down and redoubled efforts to recover the surrounding expanse of highly polluted swamp, crabs, snails, fish and birds are once again populating the mangrove forest. "If we didn't say this used to be a landfill, people would think it's a farm. The only thing missing is cattle," jokes Elias Gouveia, an engineer with Comlurb, the city's garbage collection agency that is shepherding the plantation project. "This is an environmental lesson that we must learn from: nature is remarkable. If we don't pollute nature, it heals itself." The former landfill is located right by the 148 square miles (383 square kilometers) Guanabara Bay. Between the landfill's inauguration in 1968 and 1996, some 80 million tons of garbage were dumped in the area, polluting the bay and surrounding rivers with trash and runoff. In 1996, the city began implementing measures to limit the levels of pollution in the landfill, starting with treating some of the leachate, the toxic byproduct of mountains of rotting trash. But garbage continued to pile up until 2012, when the city finally shut it down. Mangroves are of particular interest for environmental restoration for their capacity to capture and store large amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide, Gouveia explained. Experts say mangroves can bury even more carbon in the sediment than a tropical rainforest, making it a great tool to fight climate change. Comlurb and its private partner, Statled Brasil, have successfully recovered some 60 hectares.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Still nurturing love and vines: the centenarian who built Barcelona's first roof garden
2023-06-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jun/26/barcelona-centenarian-org...

When Joan Carulla Figueres turned the roof terrace of his Barcelona apartment into a garden, it was out of nostalgia for his rural origins. Sixty-five years later, the ecological concepts he has long followed have become commonplace, and he is acclaimed as a pioneer of organic farming. Carulla, who celebrated his 100th birthday this year, is credited with creating the city's first roof garden. However, his "allotment in the sky" boasts far more than the usual tomato plants and pots of geraniums. It is home to more than 40 fruit trees, vines that produce 100kg (220lbs) of grapes a year, olives, peaches, figs, garlic, aubergines and even potatoes. He is passionate about potatoes. His approach to agriculture is what today we call organic, but Carulla insists he is not doing anything new and that poor farmers have always practised organic farming out of necessity. "My grandparents had little land and no money for fertiliser," he says. "They used animal and vegetable waste and straw. We lived a frugal life. We didn't go hungry, we just lived." Like his forebears, Carulla makes compost from everything, including old magazines and thin wooden fruit boxes. "There's almost nothing we don't use, everything decomposes eventually." If the war made him a vegetarian, it also made him a pacifist. He was 15 when Juneda was bombed and strafed by fascist warplanes. Carulla speaks with sorrow of the 117 people killed in the village and how the reprisals carried out by both sides at the end of the war broke his father’s spirit and drove his mother to an early grave. “She was one of the war’s silent victims,” he says. “I think she died from pain and suffering.” He also talks about how at the age of 10 he had an epiphany when he vowed to become un generador de amor (someone who generates love). "I don't know where this phrase came from, but I decided that what I had to do was to create love in everyone, universal love."

Note: Don't miss a great video on Figueres and his garden. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


‘Life-changing impacts’: can a guaranteed income program work?
2023-06-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2023/jun/13/its-basic-documentary-guaranteed...

Michael Tubbs had just been elected the youngest and first Black mayor of Stockton, California, when he announced his intention to launch what would be the country’s first universal basic income program in decades. The year was 2017, and the plan was to pay some residents $500 a month, no strings attached. In the years since his announcement ... the 125 participants of the Stockton program showed that they used that extra $500 a month not for luxuries or frivolities, but to pay off debt, obtain full-time jobs and get medical treatment like dental work that they had put off for years because they could not afford it. Now, more than 100 cities and jurisdictions around the country have launched their own guaranteed income programs. The basis of guaranteed income is simple: poverty, a problem at the crux of so many societal woes, can be solved with money and it is the government’s job to solve it. It’s a guaranteed monthly income without the requirements that come with a welfare program – requirements that often keep recipients in poverty when the program benefits outweigh any job or income advancement they could make. “We’re talking about like life-changing impacts for a very small amount of dollars, in the grand scheme of things,” Tubbs said. The Stockton program was originally funded by a grant from the Economic Security Project, but some programs today are drawing directly from their governmental budgets.

Note: A documentary about the Stockton program titled "It's Basic" was recently featured at the Tribeca Film Festival. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Woodworking and Hugs: Inside the Mental Health Movement for Men
2023-06-12, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/mens-sheds-mental-health-woodworking-therapy/

In 2002, Chris Morgan lost his wife to cancer. A British army veteran who had put in 24 years of service as a gunner in the Royal Artillery, he was already struggling with PTSD when she passed away, and the grief from the loss triggered a breakdown. In despair, Morgan contemplated taking his own life. Instead, Morgan retreated to his shed. "It was my woodworking shed that was my safe place. And although I may not have done too much woodworking, it was just being in there that I knew helped," Morgan shared. "In fact, it saved my life." In 2008, he held an impromptu spoon carving class for a group of visiting wounded soldiers. The spontaneous seminar became a weekly workshop, and ultimately evolved into a dedicated permanent woodworking seminar that has been known as Veterans Woodcraft since 2016. Veterans Woodcraft is one of 3,000 so-called Men's Sheds scattered across the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, the US, Kenya and South Africa. The concept began in Australia in the 1990s to help tackle isolation and loneliness in predominantly older men. Men's Sheds UK chief officer Charlie Bethel ... says that of all the impacts he's seen from Men's Sheds in his five-year tenure, suicide prevention is the one that stands out the most. In a recent survey of 178 of the UK's 600 Men's Sheds, 25 percent of respondents said they had definitely saved a member's life, and 14 percent felt confident they had. Bethel hopes to set up a further 1,900 Men's Sheds across the UK over the next 10 years.

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


Finland is the world's happiest country, but Finns say we're confusing happiness for something else
2023-06-10, Business Insider
https://www.businessinsider.com/finland-happiest-country-in-world-happiness-r...

Finland's high levels of social trust could be one reason the country has been ranked as the world's happiest for six years in a row. As the World Happiness Report, which does the ranking, notes, most Finns expect their wallet to be returned to them if they lose it. Finns have liberated children, trust their neighbors, commune with nature, and leave work on time. But ask them what they think of the happiness report, and you'll get a surprising answer. "We're always surprised that we are still the first," Meri Larivaara, a mental-health advocate, told me in [a] Helsinki coffee shop. "Every year there is a debate like, 'How is this possible?'" In fact, locals I talked to were exasperated by the survey and even annoyed by the global perception of them as happy. Finnish people are often stereotyped as introverted and keeping to themselves. But it's also true that Finns are very content with what they have. "They call us up and just ask if we like our lives. We just say there's nothing wrong right now, maybe call back tomorrow," one local said of the survey. Maybe it's not so much that Finns are happy but that they don't have some of the intense fears you might find in other places. Finland's government sponsors one of the most robust welfare systems in the world. In 2021, the Nordic country spent 24% of its gross domestic product on social protection — the highest of any other OECD country that year. Healthcare and education are free for all residents — all the way through to the Ph.D. level.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Revolutionary Music Therapy Helps Paralyzed Man Walk and Talk Again – It 'Unlocked the Brain'
2023-04-30, Good News Network
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/music-therapy-helps-paralyzed-man-walk-and-ta...

A patient who was left almost completely paralyzed from a rare disease is now walking and talking again, after a music therapist prescribed mindful listening to his favorite song every night–in this case, a tune by The Carpenters. 71 year-old Ian Palmer was struck down with Guillain-Barr© syndrome last June, forcing him to spend seven months in a hospital where he was unable to walk or speak properly. The rare condition happens when a person's own immune system attacks their body's motor nerves, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. But when Ian was transferred to Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre, a state-of-the-art care unit in Lancashire, England, clinicians used music therapy techniques to overcome 'near total paralysis of his body'. His specialist, Clare, taught him mindfulness techniques using his favorite records–and he began listening to The Carpenters each night. Ian was admittedly skeptical, but he can now walk 2 miles a day (3k) and have conversations with his family after the exercises "opened up" his brain. He's never been very musical, so when Sue Ryder first suggested music therapy he said, 'What good is that going to do?' "I'm a typical Northern man, and I thought, 'What's a girl with a guitar going to do for me–get me to the gym.'" "But it really worked. Clare sat me down and explained the process. I learned that music is very unlike other therapies, as it opens up all of the brain."

Note: Watch a profoundly touching documentary about a man who takes on the broken healthcare system to demonstrate music's ability to heal, combat memory loss, and awaken the soul and the deepest parts of humanity. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


I was every woman’s worst nightmare. Restorative justice changed me.
2023-04-26, Waging Nonviolence
https://wagingnonviolence.org/2023/04/restorative-justice-changed-me-every-wo...

There are over 4,100 private companies in the U.S. profiting off of mass incarceration, which is a multi-billion-dollar business. With an incarcerated population of 2.2 million, the U.S. does not have a system premised on reform or creating model citizens. Most return to public life worse than when they began their prison sentences, only to be overshadowed by a national recidivism rate that’s staggering — as high as 70 percent within the first five years out and 80 percent for prisoners with juvenile records. In the restorative justice theory of change, prisoners self-identify with new, positive identities, replacing old negative self-identities. As a result, they develop healthy social support that reinforces these new identities. The concept: If you think you are scum, you will act like scum. However, if you think you are gifted, with talents, abilities and a positive identity, that’s how you will more likely act on a regular basis. Restorative justice views crime not simply as the breaking of a law, but as damage to individuals, property, relationships and the community. It represents a holistic approach to addressing criminal behavior. And it becomes a great tool toward healing the communities harmed. When we build relationships, we humanize each other and rather than simply being faceless people, we become friends, family members, students and mentors. It then becomes easier for participants to understand the harm they caused and to take responsibility. It’s a chance for the offenders to examine themselves, and understand why they made the choices they did, how they harmed the victim, family and community, and what they can do differently in the future.

Note: We've summarized many articles about the power of restorative justice. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Mindfulness better than CBT for treating depression, study finds
2023-03-27, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/mar/27/mindfulness-better-than-cbt-f...

Practising mindfulness is much better than taking part in talking therapies at helping people recover from depression, a British study has found. People who used a mindfulness self-help book for eight weeks and had six sessions with a counsellor experienced a 17.5% greater improvement in recovery from depressive symptoms than those who underwent cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) while being supported by a mental health practitioner. Their results have been published in JAMA Psychiatry. The NHS says mindfulness involves people paying attention to “what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment” and “the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment” as well as being aware of their thoughts and feelings as they happen. People using mindfulness in the LIGHTMind 2 trial spent eight weeks following the advice in The Mindful Way Workbook, which helps them build up their mindfulness skills by guiding them on what they should do every day in order to be aware of their thoughts, feelings and physical sensations in a non-judgmental way. Doing that helps people address some of the behaviours that can maintain feelings of depression. They also had six one-to-one half-hour “support sessions” on the telephone with a therapist discussing their progress, experience of practising mindfulness and asking questions. Mindfulness-based treatment is also a cheaper way of tackling depression because people using it needed on average £526 less of subsequent treatment.

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


Local communities are buying medical debt for pennies on the dollar–and freeing American families from the threat of bankruptcy
2023-03-10, Fortune
https://fortune.com/2023/03/10/local-communities-are-buying-medical-debt-for-...

No one chooses medical debt. Many Americans who fall ill have no choice but to rack up debt in order to stay healthy or, in some cases, stay alive. For the underinsured and uninsured, incurring debt is inevitable. In a June 2022 survey, 40% percent of adults said they were burdened with medical debt. But progress on this issue is already underway. A recent report found that medical debt has fallen by almost 18% since 2020. This change is no coincidence, rather it points to the real impact that relief programs ... have had on everyday Americans. One such program comes out of my city of Toledo, Ohio. In November, Toledo City Council passed a community-scale medical debt relief initiative in partnership with Lucas County. We partnered with the national charity RIP Medical Debt and devoted $800,000 of Toledo’s ARPA funds (and $800,000 of the matched commitment from Lucas county) to medical debt relief. The way it works is simple: RIP Medical Debt purchases debt for pennies on the dollar and then relieves the debt. Our groundbreaking program will wipe out as much as $240 million in medical debt for as many as 41,000 people at a cost of only $1.6 million. There are no administrative hurdles for community members to overcome. Instead, relief recipients are simply sent a letter informing them their debt has been canceled. Two-thirds of Americans (67%) would support the Toledo model for medical debt relief being adopted in their community, including strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. 

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


How Nelson Mandela’s former prison guard is keeping his legacy alive
2023-01-22, The Independent (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/nelson-mandela-christo-brand-...

“Nelson Mandela – I’d never heard the name before in my life,” a former prison guard to the South African icon recalls. Christo Brand casts his mind back to 1978, and his first night guarding one of the most influential people of the past century. He was just 19 years old. A sergeant informed him the ageing man sleeping uncomfortably on the floor of the Robben Island jail cell was “a terrorist trying to overthrow your country”. Mr Brand ... soon became close with Mandela. He began to spend days and nights with Mandela, who he says remained charming even after some 16 years as prisoner 466/64. In time he saw virtue in the older man’s crimes. Reflecting after years at Mandela’s side, years in which he saw his friend slowly but surely topple the old order, Mr Brand says: “Mandela was fighting for the freedom of the country, he was prepared to go to the gallows for freedom for his people”. “When Mandela was in prison,” Mr Brand says, “he studied Martin Luther King and Gandhi, he tried to follow their footsteps and try to bring a change.” In his memoir Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela hints at why he kept his prison officer at his side even after being freed. Mr Brand, he writes, “reinforced my belief in the essential humanity even of those who had kept me behind bars”. Mandela emerged from prison in 1990 already negotiating with South Africa’s leadership for the changes that would see the country’s first democratic election a few years later.

Note: Read more on Nelson Mandela's powerful capacity for empathy, and how he served as a striking role model for addressing the hearts, not minds, of people we deem as opponents or oppressors.


How social media platforms can reduce polarization
2022-12-21, Brookings Institute
https://www.brookings.edu/articles/how-social-media-platforms-can-reduce-pola...

Polarization is widely recognized as one of the most pressing issues now facing the United States. Even as polarization has increased in recent years, survey research has consistently shown that many Americans think the nation is more divided than it truly is. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans think they dislike each other more than they actually do. Social media companies are often blamed for driving greater polarization by virtue of the way they segment political audiences and personalize recommendations in line with their users' existing beliefs and preferences. Given their scale and reach, however, they are also uniquely positioned to help reduce polarization. Jamie Settle's work demonstrates, through a combination of surveys and experiments, that affective polarization is likely to rise when social media users encounter content with partisan cues, even if the content is not explicitly political. A 2020 study by Hunt Allcott and colleagues echoes these concerns. The authors asked some participants to refrain from using Facebook for four weeks. Afterward, these participants reported holding less polarized political views than those who had not been asked to refrain from using Facebook. Deactivating Facebook also made people less hostile toward "the other party." When people interact with someone from their social "outgroup," they often come to view that outgroup in a more favorable light. Spreading more examples of positive intergroup contact ... could go a long way.

Note: Read the full article to explore what social media platforms can do to reduce polarization. For more, read how the people of Taiwan created an online space for debate where politicians can interact with citizens in ways that foreground consensus, and not division.


Norway helped remake a US prison. Here’s what happened.
2022-11-02, Freethink
https://www.freethink.com/society/norway-helped-remake-a-us-prison-heres-what...

Correctional systems throughout much of Scandinavia are guided by a general set of philosophical principles. In Norway, core values of safety, transparency and innovation are considered fundamental to the idea of creating normality in prison, the feeling that life as part of a community continues. Incarcerated people can wear their own clothes, work in jobs that prepare them for employment and cook their own meals. Cells in Norway are also for a single person – not multiple people, as in most cases in the U.S. Importantly, correctional officers have at least a two-year, university-level education and are directly involved in rehabilitation and planning for the incarcerated person’s re-entry into the world outside of prison. In the U.S., most officers receive just a few weeks of training. Recidivism rates in Scandinavia are low. In Norway ... less than half of people released from prison are rearrested after three years. In Pennsylvania, that figure is closer to 70%. In State Correctional Institution Chester, known as SCI Chester, a medium-security prison located just outside of Philadelphia, a correctional officer-guided team has worked since 2018 to incorporate Scandinavian penal principles into its own institution. Six men in SCI Chester – each sentenced to life in prison – were selected to participate. They then moved on to the new housing unit, which had come to be known as “Little Scandinavia.” SCI Chester shows that it is, in fact, possible to adapt Scandinavian-style penal philosophies.

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


What Everyone Should Know About the Brain’s Ability to Heal
2022-10-25, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/25/opinion/brain-stroke-recovery-fetterman.html

Our brains are made up of billions of cells that work together to create our every ability. Wipe out those cells, through a stroke or other brain trauma, and you may no longer be able to read, but you might still be able to speak, sing or write. It’s all about where the brain is damaged — which systems of cells are traumatized and which are not. The three-pound mass of neurological tissue that we call the brain has the power not only to create every ability we have but also to manifest our perception of reality. Our brains have a two-pronged defense mechanism that kicks in when brain trauma occurs. Not only are we able to grow some new neurons — a process called neurogenesis — especially in the sites where physical trauma has occurred, our brain cells are capable of neuroplasticity, which means they can rearrange which other neurons they are in communication with. That’s why, whenever I meet someone who has experienced a brain trauma of any sort, I don’t focus on what abilities that person has lost, but rather I marvel at what insights that person might have gained because of the experience. Few things have greater impact on how people choose to live their lives than neurological trauma or near-death experiences. And when we find ourselves to be neurologically impaired, we become vulnerable and need others to support us rather than criticize or judge us. I became a much more compassionate and empathetic person following my stroke and recovery. Perhaps I am not the only one.

Note: The above was written by Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroscientist and the author of "My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey." Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Peace Activists Are Beating the U.S. Military at its Own (Video) Game
2022-09-10, The Progressive
https://progressive.org/latest/peace-video-games-military-recruitment-gallagh...

In 2018, the military, struggling to meet enlistment goals, began invading gaming communities as part of a larger, digital-first strategy. Recruiters who had once stalked school assemblies and shopping malls began streaming games on social media and competing in tournaments to court new enlistees online. Since then, the military’s online recruiting strategy has expanded to the Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch, which attracts 140 million active users per month. The Army, Navy, and Air Force churn out hours of Twitch content per week, including streams of popular first-person-shooter games. The Armed Forces claim their gamers ... aren’t technically recruiters. But anti-war advocates say they might as well be. To counter this, [Marine veteran Chris] Velazquez became a community developer for Gamers for Peace (GFP), the first peace organization formed to mirror the military’s online recruiting practices: While streaming popular games like Halo and Rocket League, its members—many of them veterans—offer career advice and mentorship to teens, talk politics, and discuss the realities of war. They also share information about online military recruitment tactics at in-person gaming conventions such as PAX Unplugged. These initiatives, members say, give prospective recruits the tools and knowledge to see other options and reconsider enlisting. The group has already accrued nearly 600 Twitch followers as well as 400 members on the popular messaging service Discord.

Note: The latest US Air Force recruitment tool is a video game that allows players to receive in-game medals and achievements for drone bombing Iraqis and Afghans. For more on this topic, read an article we've summarized about how one of the best-selling video games, Call of Duty, is a carefully constructed piece of military propaganda.


The Library Where the ‘Books’ Are Human Beings
2021-11-29, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/human-library-borrow-person-locations/

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is the kind of advice most people forget when they meet Joel Hartgrove. Maori tattoos cover his neck, ears and his shaved skull. Hartgrove is an open book. You can borrow him for 20 minutes, talk to him about his time in the Australian army, his Indigenous roots, his tattoos, anything you’d like. You’ll find you’re speaking with a deep thinker who answers nosy questions with humor and heart — a common trait among the “books” available for loan in Ronni Abergel’s library. “They are stigmatized,” Abergel says of his collection, “maybe because of their weight, their looks, their profession, their religious, sexual or political orientation, or because they survived abuse and traumas. We can’t just judge someone on face value.” Abergel, 48, is the director of the biggest and most beautiful library in the world: the Human Library, where you borrow people instead of books and speak with them about their lives. His library rules are simple: Treat the books respectfully; bring them back on time and in the same shape you borrowed them; don’t take them home. “They will answer any question you have the courage to ask,” Abergel promises. The Human Library is now active in 80 countries, with branches in Texas and Tokyo, Bangladesh and Berlin. Every reader who visits, virtually or in-person, chooses two or three topics that interest them: rugby, depression, refugees, sex work, cancer, grief. “There is a great book hidden in all of us, and most of us would be bestsellers,” Abergel believes.

Note: Don't miss a deeply moving series called HUMAN by filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand, who spent three years collecting real-life stories from thousands of people in 60 countries. Their stories, although unique to them, speak to the human condition and the parts of life that unite us all: love, happiness, poverty, war, and the future of our planet.


Psychedelics as Antidepressants
2021-01-30, Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychedelics-as-antidepressants/

As of 2018, nearly one in eight Americans use antidepressants. Unfortunately, more than a third of patients are resistant to the mood-improving benefits of medicine’s best antidepressant drugs. These people are not completely out of options. There are chemicals already out there that can restore their mood balance, and in some cases, even save their lives. Chemicals such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and dimethyltryptamine (DMT) are more accurately called “serotonergic psychedelics” among the neuroscience community. At the correct doses, psychedelics are well tolerated, producing only minor side effects such as transient fear, perception of illusions, nausea/vomiting or headaches. These fleeting side effects pale in comparison to the severity of commonly prescribed antidepressants, which include dangerous changes in heart rate and blood pressure, paradoxical increases in suicidality, and withdrawal symptoms. As far as outcomes go, psychedelics in combination with psychotherapy are remarkably efficient at treating depression. Compared to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, the current gold standard in antidepressant medication, psychedelics have a faster effect on patients, sometimes effective with only a single therapy session. Psychedelics also have a longer-lasting effect than an SSRI regimen. A 2015 study ... demonstrated that past history of psychedelic use decreases the odds of suicidal thoughts or actions over the course of a lifetime.

Note: Read more about the healing potentials of psychedelic medicine. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The Social Life of Forests
2020-12-02, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/12/02/magazine/tree-communication-my...

As a child, Suzanne Simard often roamed Canada’s old-growth forests. Simard noticed that up to 10 percent of newly planted Douglas fir were likely to get sick and die whenever nearby aspen, paper birch and cottonwood were removed. The reasons were unclear. The planted saplings had plenty of space, and they received more light and water than trees in old, dense forests. So why were they so frail? Simard suspected that the answer was buried in the soil. Underground, trees and fungi form partnerships known as mycorrhizas: Threadlike fungi envelop and fuse with tree roots, helping them extract water and nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen in exchange for some of the carbon-rich sugars the trees make through photosynthesis. Research had demonstrated that mycorrhizas also connected plants to one another and that these associations might be ecologically important. By analyzing the DNA in root tips and tracing the movement of molecules through underground conduits, Simard has discovered that fungal threads link nearly every tree in a forest — even trees of different species. Carbon, water, nutrients, alarm signals and hormones can pass from tree to tree through these subterranean circuits. Before Simard and other ecologists revealed the extent and significance of mycorrhizal networks, foresters typically regarded trees as solitary individuals that competed for space and resources. This framework is far too simplistic. An old-growth forest is ... a vast, ancient and intricate society.

Note: If you are interested in cutting edge work on tree and plant consciousness, this long article is worth reading in full. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


What if Instead of Calling People Out, We Called Them In?
2020-11-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/19/style/loretta-ross-smith-college-cancel-cu...

Loretta J. Ross [identifies] the characteristics, and limits, of call-out culture: the act of publicly shaming another person for behavior deemed unacceptable. Civil conversation between parties who disagree has also been part of activism, including her own, for quite some time. “I am challenging the call-out culture,” Ross said. “I think you can understand how calling out is toxic. It really does alienate people, and makes them fearful of speaking up.” The antidote to that ... Professor Ross believes, is “calling in.” Calling in is like calling out, but done privately and with respect. “It’s a call out done with love,” she said. That may mean simply sending someone a private message, or even ringing them on the telephone to discuss the matter, or simply taking a breath before commenting, screen-shotting or demanding one “do better” without explaining how. Calling out assumes the worst. Calling in involves conversation, compassion and context. “I think we overuse that word ‘trigger’ when really we mean discomfort,” she said. “And we should be able to have uncomfortable conversations.” Ross told the students ... “I think we actually sabotage our own happiness with this unrestrained anger. And I have to honestly ask: Why are you making choices to make the world crueler than it needs to be and calling that being woke?" She thought of what her organization’s founder, the Rev. C.T. Vivian ... told her: “When you ask people to give up hate, you have to be there for them when they do.”

Note: Watch Ross's powerful Ted Talk on simple, yet deeply inspiring tools for calling people in instead of calling people out.


How a Bronx Community Is Winning the Census
2020-06-01, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/bronx-co-op-city-winning-census-participation/

Co-Op City is amazing. A massive housing development on the eastern edge of the Bronx, it has its own schools, power plant, newspaper, even a planetarium. It was built by a clothing workers union and the United Housing Federation in the 1960s to provide affordable middle-class housing in New York City. From the beginning, it embraced a social justice mandate that included participatory self-government, ethnic diversity and a sharing of resources. Just 49 percent of New York City households have responded to the 2020 Census so far — well behind the national average of nearly 60 percent. At stake are potentially billions of dollars in desperately needed federal funds as well as seats in the House of Representatives. But not all Census tracts are created equal. In Co-Op City, the world’s largest co-operative housing complex, with more than 15,000 apartments, residents are not only well ahead of the rest of the Bronx and of New York City — they also outpace much of the nation. Among Co-Op City’s seven tracts, five exceed 70 percent in participating, and the others are not far behind — making “the city in a city” an outlier in the Bronx, where fewer than 40 percent in many tracts have responded to Census Bureau mailings. Noel Ellison, 67, general manager for Co-Op City’s property management company, Riverbay Corporation, said the coronavirus crisis has galvanized residents, bringing an already tight community even closer. So did Co-Op City’s unusual inclusiveness, he suggested.

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


Future Healers of Tomorrow
2020-01-15, Harper's Magazine
https://harpers.org/2020/01/future-healers-of-tomorrow-lily-dale-assembly-chi...

Don’t you remember having an imaginary friend? That friend was not imaginary—you were talking to Spirit,” said Patricia Bell. Bell, seventy years old with sinewy arms, aqua eyes, and straw-colored hair, is the director of Children’s Week at the Lily Dale Assembly, a hamlet in upstate New York that serves as the headquarters of Spiritualism, an American religion based on communication with the dead. Approximately twenty-two thousand pilgrims pass through Lily Dale’s guarded gate each summer. In July, when many American children go to soccer camp, or horse-riding camp, or coding camp, the Spiritualists of Lily Dale welcome kids for a week of animal communication, dream interpretation, body tapping, qigong, and contact with deceased ancestors. Founded in 2003, Bell’s camp is the only Spiritualist camp in the nation dedicated to teaching young mediums and psychics. Bell ... believes that the otherworldly abilities she’s nurturing in herself as well as the children aren’t rare gifts, but innate skills, as reflexive as breastfeeding. These skills are typically educated out of people as they age. She formed the camp to let kids exercise their craft and to make it less daunting for them to talk to those on the “spirit plane.” Kylie ... has been coming to camp for nine years. “They teach us how to focus,” she said. “We go into our heart and take a few breaths, and, like, you talk to God for a few seconds and say thank you. My hands start tingling a lot and that’s when I know where the pain of the other person is.”

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


New UCLA institute will study and spread kindness
2019-09-24, Los Angeles Times
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-24/ucla-bedari-kindness-inst...

A friendly smile. A food pantry donation. Such acts of kindness have a self-serving upside ... as science has conclusively shown they also make you healthier. UCLA is poised to advance that science with the ... launch of the worlds first interdisciplinary research institute on kindness, which will explore, for instance, how and why being nice to others reduces depression and the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Research by UCLA scientists already has shown that mindfulness and kindness actually alter the behavior of genes, turning down those that promote inflammation, which can lead to heart disease or certain cancers, and turning up the activity of genes that protect against infections. But the ultimate goal of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute is to spread kindness and promote a more humane world. It will develop training tools to help practice kindness and spread them through online programs, public lectures, media outreach and a free app called UCLA Mindful. When it comes to kindness, the intention, rather than the outcome, is key. In other words, its the thought that counts, as the adage goes. Cultivating kind thoughts increases the frequency of kind actions, and both the thoughts and the experience of engaging in the actions have positive effects on the well-being of the individual, said Daniel Fessler ... the institutes inaugural director. The institutes work ... will focus on three themes: the roots of kindness, how to promote it, and how to use it as a therapeutic intervention to improve mental and physical health.

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


'It has transformed my life': the restaurant where all staff have a disability
2019-06-10, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/10/universo-santi-spanish-restaura...

There is something different, and a little special, about Universo Santi, a restaurant in the southern Spanish city of Jerez. People dont come here because the staff are disabled but because its the best restaurant in the area. Whatever reason they came for, the talking is about the food, says Antonio Vila. Vila is the president of the Fundacin Universo Accesible, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to helping people with disabilities join the mainstream workforce. He has also been the driving force behind Universo Santi, the haute cuisine restaurant whose 20 employees all have some form of disability. I always wanted to show what people with disabilities, given the right training, were capable of, says Vila. I feel really lucky to be part of this, says Gloria Bazn, head of human resources, who has cerebral palsy. Its difficult to work when society just sees you as someone with a handicap. This has given me the opportunity to be independent and to participate like any other human being. Alejandro Gimnez, 23, has Downs syndrome and is a commis chef. Its given me the chance to become independent doing something Ive loved since I was a kid, says Gimnez, who lived with his mother until he was recruited. Working here has transformed my life. So many things I used to ask my mother to do, I do myself. I didnt even know how to take a train by myself because Id just miss my stop. Since it opened in October 2017, Universo Santi continues to win plaudits for its cuisine.

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


A sense of purpose could prolong your life
2019-05-25, Quartz
https://qz.com/1628452/a-sense-of-purpose-could-prolong-your-life/

Increasingly, scientists are finding that having a sense of purpose, whatever yours may be, is key to well-being. Now, a study published on May 24 in JAMA Current Open adds to the growing body of knowledge on the link between health and a driving force, finding that purposefulness is tied to longer lives. Researchers ... analyzed data from nearly 7,000 individuals over 50 years old and concluded that stronger purpose in life was associated with decreased mortality. They believe that purposeful living may have health benefits. The new analysis found that those whose psychological questionnaires reflected a lack of purpose were more likely to die than those who had a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals. In fact, people without a purpose were more than twice as likely to die than those with an aim and goals. Purpose proved to be more indicative of longevity than gender, race, or education levels, and more important for decreasing risk of death than drinking, smoking, or exercising regularly. Notably, the research indicates that any purpose is better than none, as the reason people felt purposeful didnt figure into the analysis. So it doesnt seem to matter what it is that drives an individual, whether its a passion for growing peonies, say, or wanting to see their children develop, or loving the work they do. The important thing is simply having something that makes them excited about life and drives them. But those who feel no sense of purpose now shouldnt despair because that drive can be cultivated.

Note: Read an excellent, short essay on how to find and develop your life purpose. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Yoga and Veterans: A Different Kind of Warrior
2019-01-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/19/us/yoga-veterans.html

To casual observers of either military service or the practice of yoga, the path from Oorah to Om may not seem obvious. But the intersection of yogi and veteran is natural if unexpected. Many members of the military now often include yoga ... as an element of their workout routine, and veterans turn to the practice for therapeutic applications. The Department of Veterans Affairs has successfully used yoga to help treat opioid addiction and post-traumatic stress. A lot of vets have post-traumatic stress, said Thierry Chiapello, who served in the Marines and now teaches yoga at the National Defense University in Washington. By lengthening the exhalation of breath, this gets people out of those fight-or-flight instincts that drain you, he continued, putting them in a mode of rest and recovery that definitely is associated with less aggressive behaviors. Christian Allaire experiences the service-driven life of yoga through his work for the Veterans Yoga Project, which provides yoga to roughly 1,000 veterans and their families per week as well as trains prospective teachers. We will have four or five people in a conference room at a V.A., he said. There might be an Iraq war vet in his 20s, a Korean War vet in his 80s, some can barely move, some may be missing limbs and the teachers job is to create space. Maybe all they can do is raise their hands above their heads, but we are creating a ritual.

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'Remarkable' decline in fertility rates
2018-11-09, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46118103

There has been a remarkable global decline in the number of children women are having, say researchers. Their report found fertility rate falls meant nearly half of countries were now facing a "baby bust" - meaning there are insufficient children to maintain their population size. The researchers said ... there would be profound consequences for societies with "more grandparents than grandchildren". The study, published in the Lancet, followed trends in every country from 1950 to 2017. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. The fertility rate all but halved to 2.4 children per woman by last year. But that masks huge variation between nations. The fertility rate in Niger, west Africa, is 7.1, but in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus women are having one child, on average. In the UK, the rate is 1.7, similar to most Western European countries. The total fertility rate is the average number of children a woman gives birth to in their lifetime. It's different to the birth rate which is the number of children born per thousand people each year. Whenever a country's rate drops below approximately 2.1 then populations will eventually start to shrink. At the start of the study, in 1950, there were zero nations in this position.

Note: World overpopulation is no longer considered a serious threat. For more on this and other inspiring stats, see this summary. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Ozone layer hole will ‘totally heal within 50 years’
2018-11-06, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/06/health/ozone-healing-scli-intl/index.html

The hole in the Earth’s ozone layer is expected to fully heal within 50 years, climate change experts predict in a new UN report. A fragile shield of gas around the planet, the ozone layer protects animal and plant life from the powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. When the ozone layer is weakened, more UV rays can get through, making humans more prone to skin cancer, cataracts and other diseases. Scientists discovered huge damage to the layer in the 1980s and identified chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, as the main culprit. CFCs used to be common in refrigerators, aerosol cans and dry-cleaning chemicals, but they were banned globally under the Montreal Protocol of 1987. The decline in CFCs in our atmosphere as a result of those measures now mean the ozone layer is expected to have fully recovered sometime in the 2060s, according to the report by the UN Environment Programme, World Meteorological Organization, European Commission and other bodies. In parts of the stratosphere, where most of the ozone is found, the layer has recovered at a rate of 1-3% per decade since 2000, the authors state. At the recovery rates projected by the UN report, the northern hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone is scheduled to heal completely by the 2030s, followed by the southern hemisphere in the 2050s and polar regions by 2060. Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, described the Montreal Protocol as “one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history.”

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23 charts and maps that show the world is getting much, much better
2018-10-17, Vox
https://www.vox.com/2014/11/24/7272929/global-poverty-health-crime-literacy-g...

For most Americans, these feel like bleak times. But ... under the radar, some aspects of life on Earth are getting dramatically better. Extreme poverty has fallen by half since 1990, and life expectancy is increasing in poor countries and there are many more indices of improvement like that everywhere you turn. But many of us arent aware of ways the world is getting better because the press and humans in general have a strongnegativity bias. Bad economic news gets more coverage than good news. Negative experiences affect people more, and for longer, than positive ones.Survey evidenceconsistently indicates that few people in rich countries have any clue that the world has taken a happier turn in recent decades one poll in 2016 found thatonly 8 percentof US residents knew that global poverty had fallen since 1996. Its worth paying some attention to this huge progress. Nothings permanent, and big challenges ... remain, but the world is getting much, much better on a variety of important, underappreciated dimensions. Probably the most important [is] ahuge declinein the share of the world population living on less than $1.90 a day, from nearly 35 percent in 1987 to under 11 percent in 2013.

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


Two years after Philando Castiles death, programs aim to transform relations between police, residents
2018-07-07, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/two-years-after-philando-castiles-dea...

An African American family of six sits inside the Nissan Quest in this first-ring suburb of St. Paul. The car tells a story of poverty: Plastic covers a broken window; rust lines the wheel wells. Officer Erin Reski pulled the vehicle over for a burned-out taillight, a problem similar to the one that led an officer to stop Philando Castile in the Twin Cities two years ago. That incident ... ended with Castile fatally shot. This situation ends very differently. Reski walks back to the minivan ... hands over a sheet of paper and offers a brief explanation. The response is swift and emphatic. Oh, thank you! the driver says. Scenes like this have been taking place across the Twin Cities thanks to the Lights On program, believed to be the first of its kind in the country. Instead of writing tickets for minor equipment problems, police officers are authorized to issue $50 coupons so motorists can have those problems fixed at area auto shops. Twenty participating police departments have given out approximately 660 coupons in a little more than a year. For motorists such as Sandy Patterson, another African American resident who was pulled over for a burned-out headlight in January, the small gesture of being offered a coupon makes a big difference. I was relieved that I was getting a voucher to purchase a service that couldve been quite expensive, she said. I had an overwhelming feeling of decreased anxiety because of the whole way the communication went, with somebody helping out versus giving a ticket.

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Finland's homeless crisis nearly solved. How? By giving homes to all who need.
2018-03-21, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2018/0321/Finland-s-homeless-crisis-ne...

As anyone who has visited Europe recently can attest, the scourge of homelessness has reached epidemic proportions. The only exception to the trend is Finland. The number of homeless people in Finland has declined from a high of 18,000 30 years ago, to approximately 7,000: the latter figure includes some 5,000 persons who are temporarily lodging with friends or relatives. At the core of this was a move away from the so-called staircase model, whereby a homeless person moved from one social rehabilitation level to another, with an apartment waiting for him or her at the highest step. Instead, Finland opted to give housing to the homeless from the start. The concept behind the new approach was not original. What was different, and historic, about the Finnish Housing First model was a willingness to enact the model on a nationwide basis. In 2008 the Finnish National Program to reduce long-term homelessness was drafted and put into place. One [goal] was to cut the number of long-term homeless in half by producing ... supported housing units for tenants with their own leases. The extant network of homeless shelters was phased out. This also involved phasing out the old way of thinking about homelessness. The program pays for itself. A case study undertaken by the Tampere University of Technology in 2011 ... showed society saved $18,500 per homeless person per year who had received a rental apartment with support, due to the medical and emergency services no longer needed to assist and respond to them.

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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 dont 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 theyre 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.


A Former Neo-Nazi Explains Why Hate Drew Him In And How He Got Out
2018-01-18, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2018/01/18/578745514/a-former-neo-nazi-explains-why-hate-...

Christian Picciolini was 14 years old when he attended the first gathering of what would become the Hammerskin Nation, a violent, white-power skinhead group. Picciolini embraced the white supremacist message he heard ... and went on to front a white-power punk band, White American Youth. But after eight years as a neo-Nazi, Picciolini began to question the hateful ideology he espoused. He remembers a specific incident in which he was beating a young black man. His eyes locked with his victim, and he felt a surprising empathy. It was a turning point. He withdrew from the movement and in 2011 co-founded Life After Hate, a nonprofit that counsels members of hate groups and helps them disengage. "Over the last 14 years I have actually helped over 100 people disengage from the same movement that I was a part of," he says. "[Neo-Nazis] know that I'm a danger to them because I understand what they understand but I also understand the truth." Picciolini's new memoir is called White American Youth. "I started one of America's first white-power bands to both recruit young people, encourage them into acts of violence and speak to the vulnerabilities and the grievances they were feeling so that I could draw them in with promises of paradise," [said Picciolini]. "It brings back a lot of shame, because I know that I put words out into the world that still today are affecting people and hurting people."

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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 GravityLights 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 safeas 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), Americas 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 EIAs 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 EIAs predictions for energy usage and production. They found that the EIAs 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 agencys 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 wont fall much, when in fact they keep plunging.

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Buy Nothing Project: free clothes, toys, food - even a wedding
2017-10-03, Seattle Times
https://www.seattletimes.com/business/local-business/buy-nothing-project-free...

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.

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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.

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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 ONRs Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism department. Todays 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 Navys 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 todays 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.


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 areas 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 wasnt 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."

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Where Citizens Can Run for Office Without Big Moneyand 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 dont need to spend time courting wealthy donors - in fact, theyre 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 doesnt 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] McCreights first campaign, in 2014, the state gave her nearly $5,000 once shed collected 60 contributions. She won, and by the end of her first term, shed 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. McCreights 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: Few are aware that violent crime rates in the U.S. have dropped to 1/3 of what they were in 1993, yet prison spending continues to skyrocket. 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 Kjr.

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 countrys 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 Houses 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.


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 Chicagos Crime Lab. They were talking through ways of finding peace and ways of making sure it didnt 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.


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: Dr. Kellie Lim, author of this article received her medical training from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. After getting her medical degree, she completed her residency in pediatrics before pursuing fellowship training in allergy & immunology and pharmacology. Today, she works as an allergist-immunologist at UCLA Health. Explore a treasure trove of summaries of news articles on incredibly inspiring disabled persons.


Tiny turbine that fits on your DESK runs on carbon dioxide - and it can produce enough energy to power a small town
2016-04-12, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3535461/Tiny-turbine-fits-DESK...

Engineers have developed a turbine which has the potential to power a small town all the while being no bigger than your office desk. Designed by GE Global Research, the turbine could power 10,000 homes and according to researchers, could help to solve some of the world's growing energy challenges. But rather than steam, which is typically used to set turbines in motion, the new turbine uses carbon dioxide. 'This compact machine will allow us to do amazing things,' said Doug Hofer, lead engineer on the project. According to MIT Tech Review, the turbine is driven by 'supercritical carbon dioxide', which is kept under high pressure at temperatures of 700˚C. Under these conditions, the carbon dioxide enters a physical state between a gas and a liquid, enabling the turbine to harness its energy for super-efficient power generation - with the turbines transferring 50 per cent of the heat into electricity. It could help energy firms take waste gas and repurpose it for efficient and cleaner energy production. Waste heat produced from other power generation methods, such as solar or nuclear, could be used to melt salts, with the molten salts used to the carbon dioxide gas to a super-critical liquid - which may be much quicker than heating water for steam. Currently, the design of the turbine would enable up to 10,000 kilowatts of energy to be produced, but the turbines could be scaled up to generate 500 megawatts, enough to power a city.

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


Cattle rancher's wife goes vegan:
2016-03-04, CBS
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cattle-ranchers-vegan-wife-turns-ranch-into-anima...

Shortly after they got married six years ago, Tommy's wife Renee just started hanging out with the livestock. Tommy warned her ... "Renee, don't name those cows." But she didn't listen. Then she started singing to them, too. And before long, the rancher's wife had turned into a rancher's worst nightmare - a vegan, who couldn't stomach so much as living with a cattle rancher anymore. "He was just going to get out of the business or our marriage was going to be over," Renee explained. Tommy agreed. "It wasn't working. And I said, 'I'm going to sell the whole herd.' She goes, 'Well, if you're going to sell the whole herd anyway, why don't you just sell 'em to me?' What Tommy didn't know was that Renee had been secretly posting a blog called "Vegan Journal of a Rancher's Wife." She attracted thousands of followers. Through those contacts, Renee was able to raise $30,000 - enough for a hostile takeover. And here's where this story gets good. After his wife raised the money, Tommy did something rare for a rancher, or any man for that matter - he put aside his ego and reconsidered a core belief. He stopped eating meat, liked how he felt, and now works for his wife and the Rowdy Girl Vegan Farm Animal Sanctuary. As best we can tell, it's the only cattle ranch conversion in the country. So now that he's changed for Renee, is there anything Tommy would change about his wife? "I can't think of a thing," he said. And there is everything you need to know, to stay married forever.

Note: Watch the touching video of this at the link above. 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 its Possible to Hear an Animals 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 friends 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. Heres 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 doesnt 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 doesnt 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.


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 arent 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.


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, were 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.


Whats Next for the Worlds 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 were a business, so we need to remain competitive. If we dont 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.


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.


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 communiqu 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 didnt 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 thats 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. Its 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. Weve saved millions on this, Walker said. And now, the chronic homeless are no longer tallied in numbers. Theyre 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. Its not you. Its 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 isnt [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.


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.


Survival of the Friendliest
2014-09-29, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/survival...

The Compassion Games is an annual international competition or coopetition as they like to call it, which ran from 9-21 September where teams and individuals around the world compete to be the most compassionate. The games have grown to include teams of all kinds from all over the world including schools, families, community groups and even prisons (last year a prison in California entered and had its first ever 11-day period without a single act of violence). For individuals, like myself, there is the secret agent of compassion option which is a series of 11 missions emailed to you daily over the course of the games. The missions include doing random acts of kindness, caring for the environment or the local neighbourhood, supporting charitable organisations and even just fully appreciating an everyday activity like brushing your teeth. My own 11 days of compassion involved ... making a tangible act of appreciation for the environment (I planted some seeds in our communal garden) and engaging in an activity that made someone smile (I joined in with my girlfriends fitness workout boy did that one work!). How did I get into all this? A newsletter in my inbox. Karen Armstrong, the former nun turned religious writer ... had won the TED Prize. Granted one wish by TED to change the world, she had chosen to set up a Charter for Compassion to implement the Golden Rule ... across the globe. I hit subscribe to the newsletters and one day received an email about the Compassion Games.

Note: Watch a short, inspiring video on how the compassion games changed a woman's prison from a culture of violence to one of caring. For more, see this inspiring article and this one.


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 Berks frequent collaborator and Deakin colleague Felice Jacka, suggests a link between a mothers 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 werent deaf at all. They say 95 percent of the worlds 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 industrys 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. Its 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 fields 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 fiance 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 Jos 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 Jos 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 Foundations 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 worlds poorest. A monkey passes Exels [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 wont 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 Audettes, 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 universes 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 companys logging operations. Under the new Delaware law, the purpose of a public benefit corporation is to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner. Directors cant 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.


Teslas 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 Trends 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 its 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 isnt 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.


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.


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?


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...

Uruguays [president] Jos Mujica ... has shunned the countrys Residencia de Surez for the cozy but modest quarters of his small home on the outskirts of the capital, Montevideo. Dubbed by many media organizations as the worlds 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 wifes assets of land, tractors and a house which still pales in comparison to Vice-President Danilo Astori's declared wealth and former President Tabare Vasquezs 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 mostabout $1.3 trillion a yearyet the U.S. ranks 25th out of the 34 OECD countries in mathematics, 17th in science and 14th in reading. Its those latter statistics that motivate Khan. The site covers a staggering array of topicsfrom 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 Khans 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.


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 worlds electricity. But theyre 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 worlds 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 worlds 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 IEAs 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.


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.


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.


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?


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 relativesonly 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 girls home had been converted into a rebel camp. Most children couldnt 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 couldnt 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 girls 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 Childrens 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.


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, thats 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 cant figure out why everybody wouldnt 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.


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, Brazils 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 Ananiasnow leader of the federal anti-hunger effortbegan 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 resourcesthe participatory budgeting that started in the 1970s and has since spread across Brazil. During the first six years of Belos food-as-a-right policy, perhaps in response to the new emphasis on food security, the number of citizens engaging in the citys 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] Schrdinger 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 himselfhe just looks damned happy to be wherever he isand 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 doesnt 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 doesnt 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. Its 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 isnt 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 circulation daily 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://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2047596-1,00.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. And check out an awesome video highlighting many of Erik's wild adventures.


'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.


A Lesson in Kindness Finds New Life on Internet
1999-02-07, Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
http://articles.latimes.com/1999/feb/07/news/mn-5664

Sister Mrosla [taught] junior high. She and Mark met ... in eighth-grade math class. One Friday after a tough week of algebra, she sensed that her students were struggling. She told them [to] pull out a sheet of paper. On every other line, she said, write the name of each student in class and next to the name write a kind word - a sincere compliment. That weekend she compiled the lists for each student on yellow legal-size paper, adding her own compliment at the end. She handed the papers back during the next class. On Mark's paper, among other simple compliments, somebody had written, "A great friend." On Judy Holmes Swanson's list, someone noted that she "smiles all the time." "No one ever said anything about the exercise after that class period," Sister Mrosla wrote. "It didn't matter. The exercise accomplished what I hoped it would - the students were happy with themselves and one another again." Years passed. Mark was killed in Vietnam. At Mark's funeral, [his parents] were waiting for the nun. "We want to show you something. They found this on Mark when he was killed," [James Eklund] said, gently taking out a worn piece of paper that had been refolded many times. "I knew without looking at the writing," Sister Mrosla wrote, "that the papers were the ones I had listed all of the good things each of his classmates had said about Mark." A few of Mark's school friends who were gathered around also recognized the paper, and one by one they told her they still had theirs.

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


Magnetic Crystals, Guides for Animals, Found in Humans
1992-05-12, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/12/science/magnetic-crystals-guides-for-anima...

An intriguing claim that human brain cells possess crystals of a highly magnetic mineral known as magnetite was described today by Dr. Joseph Kirschvink, a professor at the California Institute of Technology. The 38-year-old geobiologist said he believed that magnetite crystals enabled animals from bees to whales to navigate by using the earth's magnetic field. He said he doubted that they supported any sensory capability in humans, although he suspected that they might account for the possible influence of strong electromagnetic fields on human health. That magnetite, one of the hardest metals on earth, is synthesized by the human brain "is sure to astound most scientists," Dr. Kirschvink said, but what it is doing there is a "total mystery." It might be a vestige from evolution and serve no purpose, he said. Or it could play a role in biology, explaining why electromagnetic fields have been associated with brain cancer and leukemia and why certain odd blips, called spin echoes, show up on magnetic resonance images of the brain. Each human brain on average contains seven billion particles of magnetite, weighing a total of one-millionth of an ounce. Magnetite interacts over a million times more strongly with external magnetic fields than any other biological material, Dr. Kirschvink said, including the iron in red blood cells. If only one cell in a million contains magnetite, he said, magnetic fields could exert an effect on the tissue.

Note: Robert O. Becker’s classic book “The Body Electric” presents amazing scientific experiments showing the importance of electrical fields and magnetic crystals in the human body. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Waiter's 104 a 'Medical Miracle'
1971-06-24, Ogden Standard-Examiner/UPI
https://newspaperarchive.com/ogden-standard-examiner-jun-24-1971-p-1/

Larry Lewis began his 105th year Wednesday with his usual morning regimen a 6.7 mile run through [San Francisco's] Golden Gate Park. Then he ran an extra mile to the St. Francis Hotel, where he works as a waiter, for celebrating birthday No. 104. Lewis was followed by puffing newsmen, soma a quarter his age, as he trotted the last mile to show them "how to do it." Lewis, a waiter at the St. Francis for 24 years, was reared on the Navajo indian reservation. He said he joined the P.T. Barnum circus at 15, was an assistant to magician Harry Houdini for 33 years, and charged up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War ahead of Theodore Roosevelt. Lewis, who doesn't have an ounce of fat in the 136 pounds he carries on his 5-foot-9 frame, still works up to 13 hours a day at the hotel. He is considered a medical miracle by this doctor who pays Lewis to let him examine him. "He has more kinetic energy than most of us have ever known," the doctor said. "Larry did a lot of it himself," the physician said, "but he does not abuse his body by smoking, drinking, or keeping late and irregular hours. [He also] eats the right foods foods low in low in fat, lots of fruit, and abstained from dessert." Lewis' wife of 19 years Bessie, 73, attended the party that featured what Lewis calls his "fountain of youth," an elixir of fresh mountain valley water. "I drink three gallons of it a day, he said." In addition to his daily runs through Golden Gate Park, Lewis said he also keeps fit with "a little boxing at the Olympic club and some hand ball."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of inspiring seniors news articles. Then explore the excellent resources provided in our Inspiration Center.


This group's wiped out $6.7 billion in medical debt, and it's just getting started
2022-08-15, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/08/15/1093769295/this-groups-w...

Soon after giving birth to a daughter two months premature, Terri Logan received a bill from the hospital. She recoiled from the string of numbers separated by commas. Then a few months ago Logan received some bright yellow envelopes in the mail. They were from a nonprofit group [RIP Medical Debt] telling her it had bought and then forgiven all those past medical bills. The nonprofit has boomed during the pandemic, freeing patients of medical debt, thousands of people at a time. Its novel approach involves buying bundles of delinquent hospital bills – debts incurred by low-income patients like Logan – and then simply erasing the obligation to repay them. It's a model developed by two former debt collectors, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton, who built their careers chasing down patients who couldn't afford their bills. RIP buys the debts just like any other collection company would – except instead of trying to profit, they send out notices to consumers saying that their debt has been cleared. A surge in recent donations – from college students to philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who gave $50 million in late 2020 – is fueling RIP's expansion. To date, RIP has purchased $6.7 billion in unpaid debt and relieved 3.6 million people of debt. RIP is one of the only ways patients can get immediate relief from such debt, says Jim Branscome, a major donor. "As a bill collector collecting millions of dollars in medical-associated bills in my career, now all of a sudden I'm reformed: I'm a predatory giver," Ashton said.

Note: To understand the corruption in healthcare that results in expensive medical bills, read this revealing 10-page summary of medical doctor Marcia Angell's book The Truth About Drug Companies. To further explore stories that help create the world we want to live in, check out our inspiring news articles collection and our Inspiration Center.


A study gave cash and therapy to men at risk of criminal behavior. 10 years later, the results are in.
2022-05-31, Vox
https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/23141405/violence-crime-cbt-therapy-cash-s...

What if someone told you that you could dramatically reduce the crime rate without resorting to coercive policing or incarceration? it sounds too good to be true. But it’s been borne out by the research of Chris Blattman, Margaret Sheridan, Julian Jamison, and Sebastian Chaskel. Their new study provides experimental evidence that offering at-risk men a few weeks of behavioral therapy plus a bit of cash reduces the future risk of crime and violence, even 10 years after the intervention. Sustainable Transformation of Youth in Liberia ... offered men who were at high risk for violent crime eight weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy. [Economist Chris] Blattman wanted to formally study just how effective this kind of program could be. He decided to run a big randomized controlled trial with 999 of the most dangerous men in Monrovia, recruited on the street. The 999 Liberian men were split into four groups. Some received CBT, while others got $200 in cash. Another group got the CBT plus the cash, and finally, there was a control group that got neither. A year after the intervention, the positive effects on those who got therapy alone had faded a bit, but those who got therapy plus cash were still showing huge impacts: crime and violence were down about 50 percent. 10 years later ... crime and violence were still down by about 50 percent in the therapy-plus-cash group. Blattman estimates that there were 338 fewer crimes per participant over 10 years. [The program] cost just $530 per participant. That works out to $1.50 per crime avoided.

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


Biden, other G-20 world leaders formally endorse groundbreaking global corporate minimum tax
2021-10-30, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/10/30/biden-g20-global-minimum-...

President Biden and the other national leaders gathered for the Group of 20 summit formally endorsed a new global minimum tax on Saturday, capping months of negotiations over the groundbreaking tax accord. The new global minimum tax of 15 percent aims to reverse the decades-long decline in tax rates on corporations across the world, a trend experts say has deprived governments of revenue to fund social spending programs. The deal is a key achievement for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who made an international floor on corporate taxes among the top priorities of her tenure and pushed forcefully for swift action on a deal. Nearly 140 countries representing more than 90 percent of total global economic output have endorsed the deal. The minimum tax will be coupled with a broader change to global taxation intended to prevent countries and companies from undercutting the new floor. Under the pact, corporations trying to evade taxation by shifting profits to low-tax countries will face a “top-up” tax, which would require them to pay the difference between the tax haven’s tax rate and the 15 percent minimum tax rate of the companies where they are headquartered. Supporters of the deal are also optimistic companies will not move to relocate their headquarters abroad, in part because so much of the world has committed to the new minimum. Treasury officials have said new “enforcement provisions” will impose tax penalties based in countries refusing to join the deal.

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


CEO on why giving all employees minimum salary of $70,000 still "works" six years later: "Our turnover rate was cut in half"
2021-09-16, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/dan-price-gravity-payments-ceo-70000-employee-mi...

It was six years ago when CEO Dan Price raised the salary of everyone at his Seattle-based credit card processing company Gravity Payments to at least $70,000 a year. Price slashed his own salary by $1 million to be able to give his employees a pay raise. He was hailed a hero by some and met with predictions of bankruptcy from his critics. But that has not happened; instead, the company is thriving. "So you've almost doubled the number of employees?" CBS News' Carter Evans asked. "Yeah," Price replied. He said his company has tripled and he is still paying his employees $70,000 a year. "How much do you make?" asked Evans. "I make $70,000 a year," Price replied. To pay his own bills, Price downsized his life, sold a second home he owned, and tapped into his savings. According to the Economic Policy Institute, average CEO compensation is 320 times more than the salaries of their typical workers. "This shows that isn't the only way for a company to be successful and profitable," Hafenbrack said. "Do you pay what you can get away with? Or do you pay what you think is ideal, or reasonable, or fair?" Price said despite the success his company has had with the policy, he wishes other companies would follow suit. Bigger paychecks have lead to fiercely loyal employees. "Our turnover rate was cut in half, so when you have employees staying twice as long, their knowledge of how to help our customers skyrocketed over time and that's really what paid for the raise more so than my pay cut," said Price.

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


California launches largest free school lunch program in U.S.
2021-07-19, PBS News
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/california-launches-largest-free-schoo...

When classrooms in California reopen for the fall term, all 6.2 million public school students will have the option to eat school meals for free, regardless of their family’s income. The undertaking ... will be the largest free student lunch program in the country. School officials, lawmakers, anti-hunger organizations and parents are applauding it as a pioneering way to prevent the stigma of accepting free lunches and feed more hungry children. “This is so historic. It’s beyond life-changing,” said Erin Primer, director of food services for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District on California’s central coast. Several U.S. cities including New York, Boston and Chicago already offer free school meals for all. But until recently, statewide universal meal programs were considered too costly and unrealistic. California became the first state to adopt a universal program late last month, and Maine followed shortly after with a similar plan. Like school officials statewide, Primer has countless tales of children who struggled to pay for school meals or were too ashamed to eat for free. There was the child whose mother called Primer, distraught because she made a few hundred dollars too much to qualify; the father who is in the country illegally and feared that filling out the free meal application could get him deported; and constant cases of high schoolers not wanting friends to know they need free food, so they skip eating.

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


5 ex-Japan PMs call for country to end nuclear power use on Fukushima 10th anniversary
2021-03-12, MSN News
https://www.msn.com/en-xl/news/other/5-ex-japan-pms-call-for-country-to-end-n...

Five former Japanese prime ministers issued declarations that Japan should break with nuclear power generation on March 11, the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture. The "3.11 Declarations" were issued at the "Global Conference for a Nuclear Free, Renewable Energy Future: 10 Years Since Fukushima" held by the Federation of Promotion of Zero-Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy. Former prime ministers Morihiro Hosokawa, Tomiichi Murayama, Junichiro Koizumi, Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan signed and released their declarations during the conference. In his declaration titled "Don't hold back on reversing a mistake: A zero-carbon emission society can be achieved without nuclear power plants," Koizumi said, "When it comes to the nuclear power plant issue, there is no ruling party or opposition party. Nuclear power plants expose many people's lives to danger, bring financial ruin, and cause impossible-to-solve nuclear waste problems. We have no choice but to abolish them." Before issuing his declaration, Koizumi reflected on his days as prime minister in a keynote speech, and said: "Japanese nuclear plants are safe and on budget; they offer clean energy that doesn't emit CO2, and are necessary for economic development. I was told all of this, and I believed it. But as I've gone about reading books on nuclear plants, I've realized I was wrong."

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


Three Cities Switching To Life-Affirming Economies
2021-02-16, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/issue/ecological-civilization/2021/02/16/cities-l...

Portland joined Philadelphia and Amsterdam as the first cities to pilot the Thriving Cities Initiative. The Initiative is a collaboration between C40, the Amsterdam-based Circle Economy, which seeks to create zero-waste urban economies that support their residents, and the Doughnut Economics Action Lab, an organization mostly comprising volunteers working to implement systemic, society-wide economic change. At its most basic level, doughnut economics is a way of describing an economic system that extends beyond strictly financial measures, like gross domestic product, to include environmental sustainability and healthy, thriving communities. The Thriving Cities Initiative’s model - and the expertise and resources it provided - dovetailed with Portland’s existing momentum in tracking and reducing emissions that accounted for spending by government, businesses, and households. The model also pointed to ways to address the city’s social issues, including more than 4,000 people in the metro area without stable housing. The pandemic ... forced Portland to scale back its Thriving Cities program. A five-year program that could have formed the basis for city council action was scaled back to a two-year in-house plan that the city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability could follow on its own. Still, some existing programs already were in line with the goals of the Thriving Cities Initiative. In Amsterdam, the Doughnut Coalition and the city government are already looking toward next steps.

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


Man who was serving 90-year sentence for marijuana released
2020-12-10, ABC News/Associated Press
https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/man-serving-90-year-sentence-marijuana-re...

While serving a 90-year prison sentence for selling marijuana, Richard DeLisi's wife died, as did his 23-year-old son and both his parents. Yet, 71-year-old DeLisi walked out of a Florida prison Tuesday morning grateful and unresentful as he hugged his tearful family. After serving 31 years, he said he's just eager to restore the lost time. DeLisi was believed to be the longest-serving nonviolent cannabis prisoner, according to the The Last Prisoner Project which championed his release. DeLisi was sentenced to 90 years for marijuana trafficking in 1989 at the age of 40 even though the typical sentence was only 12 to 17 years. Now, he wants “to make the best of every bit of my time” fighting for the release of other inmates through his organization FreeDeLisi.com. “The system needs to change and I’m going to try my best to be an activist,” he said. Chiara Juster, a former Florida prosecutor who handled the case pro bono for the The Last Prisoner Project, criticized DeLisi's lengthy sentence as "a sick indictment of our nation." The family has spent over $250,000 on attorneys' fees and over $80,000 on long-distance international collect calls over the past few decades. Rick DeLisi was only 11-years-old when he sat in the courtroom and said goodbye to his father. Now, he's a successful business owner with a wife and three children living in Amsterdam. “I can't believe they did this to my father,” the grieving son said. His voice cracks and his eyes well up with tears as he talks about how grateful he is to finally see his dad.

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


36 Questions To Help You Live Longer
2020-07-13, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianatsai/2020/07/13/36-questions-to-help-you-li...

2020 marks the 82nd year that researchers at Harvard University began following 724 college age men as part of the longest running study in history on human development. Their objective? To determine what factors lead to healthy and happy lives. Key results suggest that happiness and health do not result from fame and fortune. Instead, as the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development Robert Waldinger put it, the clearest message to emerge is, Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period. Close relationships ... are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes. Research from University College London found that people with a greater sense of purpose in life lived longer than those with the lowest sense of purpose. A study conducted with the elderly showed those who helped others lived longer lives. Researchers from Norway found that women who rated high for humor had a 48 percent lower risk of death from all causes. Research from University College London showed people who felt younger had a lower death rate than those who felt their own age or older. A Harvard study found the most optimistic people had a 16 percent lower risk of death from cancer, a 38 percent lower risk of death from heart disease and respiratory disease, and a 39 percent lower risk of dying from stroke. Research from UC Berkeley shows that experiencing awe can actually impact health by reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimers.

Note: The above article contains a great list of questions designed to help improve wellbeing. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Finland comes out on top on happiness and more
2019-04-07, Los Angeles Times
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-ollila-finland-happiness-20190407...

When the U.N.s 2019 World Happiness Report came out last month, Finland ranked on top for the second year in a row. Small Finland about 75% the size of California with just 5.5 million people consistently trounces the United States and other developed nations on ratings of life satisfaction, health, safety, governance, community and social progress. The underlying reason Finns are faring so well is because we have a different mindset about success one thats based on equity and community. In the United States, happiness and success are perceived as individual pursuits, indeed, even competitive ones. In Finland, success is a team sport. While Finland is by no means struggling financially, its GDP per capita is lower than those of its neighboring Nordic countries, and much lower than that of the U.S. The difference is, in the words of Meik Wiking of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark, the Finns are good at converting wealth into well-being. The more equal a society is, the happier its citizens are. Finland is ranked among the most equal of all the 36 OECD countries. This ... helps support overall high levels of trust. Finns trust one another and, perhaps more impressively, they trust their government. And although Finns pay some of the highest taxes worldwide, there is a transparency to the Finnish system that many other countries lack. Every year the government makes public the tax data of all its citizens and corporations on what has come to be called National Envy Day.

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


Alive Inside documentary shows the healing power of music
2012-04-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/us-news-blog/2012/apr/12/alive-inside-docum...

Henry Dryer, 92, is one of seven patients profiled in the documentary Alive Inside, a look at the power of music to help those with Alzheimer's. A clip of Dryer, who suffers from dementia, appears in an extraordinarily moving rough cut of the documentary that went up online this week. In the clip, which has been viewed 3 million times already, Dryer is largely mute and slumped over. He does not recognize his own daughter. But when a caregiver places a pair [of] headphones on him, he undergoes an astonishing transformation. His face, formerly slack and inert, lights up. His eyes beam, and he sways in his chair, keening along to the music of his youth. The effect lasts even after the headphones are removed. "I'm crazy about music," Dryer says. "I guess Cab Calloway was my number one band guy." Music "gives me the feeling of love", Dryer says. Author and neurologist Oliver Sacks, who has written extensively about the effects of music on the human brain, watches Dryer. "In some sense, Henry is restored to himself. He remembers who he is. He has reaquired his identity for a while through the power of music," Sacks says in the Alive Inside clip. "There are a million and a half people in nursing homes in this country," Alive Inside director Michael Rossato-Bennett told ABC News. "When I saw what happened to Henry, whenever you see a human being awaken like that, it touches something deep inside you."

Note: Don’t miss this profoundly touching and inspiring documentary available here. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Finland’s schools are great (by doing what we don’t)
2011-10-13, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/ravitch-why-finlands-s...

For the past decade, 15-year-old Finnish students have consistently been at or near the top of all the nations tested in reading, mathematics, and science. And just as consistently, the variance in quality among Finnish schools is the least of all nations tested, meaning that Finnish students can get a good education in virtually any school in the nation. That’s equality of educational opportunity, a good public school in every neighborhood. What makes the Finnish school system so amazing is that Finnish students never take a standardized test until their last year of high school, when they take a matriculation examination for college admission. There is a national curriculum — broad guidelines to assure that all students have a full education — but it is not prescriptive. Teachers have extensive responsibility for designing curriculum and pedagogy in their school. Teachers are prepared for all eventualities, including students with disabilities, students with language difficulties, and students with other kinds of learning issues. The schools I visited reminded me of our best private progressive schools. They are rich in the arts, in play, and in activity. Finland has one other significant advantage over the United States. The child-poverty rate in Finland is under 4 percent. Here it is 22 percent and rising. It’s a well-known fact that family income is the most reliable predictor of academic performance. Finland has a strong social welfare system; we don’t. It is not a “Socialist” nation, by the way. It is egalitarian and capitalist.

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


The 3D-Printed Affordable Housing of the Future Will Be Recyclable
2024-01-26, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/future-affordable-housing-3d-printed-recycl...

When you imagine a 3D-printed home, you probably picture a boxy concrete structure. As 3D printing’s popularity has grown in the construction industry — thanks to its efficiency when it comes to time, energy and cost — carbon-intensive concrete has become the go-to building material. But a project in Maine has set its sights on something different: a neighborhood of 600-square-foot, 3D-printed, bio-based houses crafted from materials like wood fibers and bioresins. The aim: a complex of 100-percent recyclable buildings that will provide homes to those experiencing houselessness. In late 2022, an initiative between the University of Maine and local nonprofit Penquis unveiled its prototype — BioHome3D, the first 100-percent recyclable house. Now, the pioneering project is working toward completing its first livable housing complex. It will be fully bio-based, meaning all materials will be derived from living organisms such as plants and other renewable agricultural, marine and forestry materials. As the materials are all 100-percent recyclable, so become the buildings. The materials are also all renewable. And thanks to its natural composition, the home acts as a carbon sink, sequestering 46 tons of carbon dioxide per 600-square-foot unit. The materials for this project will mainly come from wood left over by local mills. “The wood fiber material that’s used in the mix is essentially waste wood here in Maine,” says Jason Bird, director of housing development for Penquis.

Note: Don't miss pictures of beautiful homes built by this process at the link above. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Come for the Free Meals, Stay for the Company
2023-11-24, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/foodcycle-pop-up-cafes-hunger-food-waste-lo...

Brandon, Jackie and Julie meet for dinner every Thursday, sitting at their regular table. As they leave, there’s no check to pay for this generous meal. The pop-up cafe at a church hall in Chelmsford, England is one of 80 held across the country throughout the week. They’re an initiative of FoodCycle, the UK’s largest community dining organization, which turns produce that supermarkets would otherwise throw out into a free meal for anyone who wants to attend. In 2022, FoodCycle’s pop-up cafes served nearly 500,000 meals to 62 communities across the UK, saving 209 tonnes of food from going to waste. Forty-three percent of people who attend FoodCycle meals, like Jackie and Julie, live on their own, with 68 percent of them feeling lonely, according to a survey of 910 FoodCycle guests in 2022. Loneliness is considered to be a significant mental and public health issue in the country, affecting over half the population, with the Mental Health Foundation linking it to depression and declining physical health. Sixty-eight percent of FoodCycle guests worry about affording food, and 92 percent are concerned about the increasing price of food, to the extent that 75 percent regularly skip meals. “These issues are intertwined and interlinked. We know there’s a correlation between people who are facing food poverty, and feeling isolated and disconnected from their communities,” says Sophie Tebbetts, FoodCycle’s head of programs and incoming CEO.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Study finds yet another potential use for aloe plants—Natural insecticide
2023-08-24, Optimist Daily
https://www.optimistdaily.com/2023/08/study-finds-yet-another-potential-use-f...

Aloe vera unveiled a new weapon in its arsenal: its discarded peels. Previously discarded as agricultural trash, these peels are now set to become nature’s response to crop-munching pests. Scientists at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley developed a mechanism for converting this underutilized resource into a powerful natural insecticide, presenting a novel approach to pest management. Humans have already used aloe vera for a plethora of reasons. However, none of these applications takes advantage of the peel. “Millions of tons of aloe peels are likely discarded globally each year,” the driving force behind this botanical discovery, Dr. Debasish Bandyopadhyay, stated. The idea came to Bandyopadhyay after he noticed bugs biting plants at an aloe manufacturing center but leaving the aloe vera leaves alone. Based on this discovery, the team embarked on an adventure to unearth the hidden potential of aloe peels. Bandyopadhyay emphasizes the dual benefit of inventing a pesticide that avoids dangerous synthetic chemicals, which not only maintains agricultural output but also saves public health. The researchers ... extracted a number of compounds, each with its own set of properties. Octacosane stood out among these for its ability to repel mosquitos. In terms of insecticidal activity, DCM, a separate molecule, outperformed hexane extract. During this procedure, more than 20 compounds were isolated from aloe vera peels, six showing considerable insecticidal activity.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


With Green Prescriptions, Getting Healthier Is a Walk in the Park
2023-05-29, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/green-prescriptions-health-nature-parks/

Scientific research has long established the healing powers of the outdoors, but now programs promoting regular visits to nature – known as green or nature prescriptions – are nourishing the health of people and parks across the globe. Green prescriptions were pioneered decades ago. In 1982, doctors in Japan began encouraging therapeutic so-called "forest bathing," or Shinrin-yoku, which is now available in 62 certified forest-therapy bases. In New Zealand, green prescriptions ... have become a formal part of the health care system. Canada last year launched its first nationwide green prescription program. Today, 4,000 green prescriptions have been written by over 10,000 physicians ... in all 10 provinces. The benefits of spending time in nature are as established as a centuries-old oak trunk, and include reduced stress and improved sleep, happiness, attention, memory and creativity. In one 2015 study, researchers in Canada found that adding 10 more trees to a city block improved perceived health and well-being as much as increasing people's income by $10,000 or making them seven years younger. Time in nature even impacts the very functioning of our bodies: a study by a professor at University College London found that contact with microbes in the environment strengthens our immune systems, improving the resilience of our skin, airways and guts. 

Note: Read more about the fascinating "hope molecules" that get released when we exercise, which can act as a powerful antidepressant for improved mental health.


Scientists Detect Brain Activity in Dying People Linked to Dreams, Hallucinations
2023-05-01, Vice
https://www.vice.com/en/article/dy3p3w/scientists-detect-brain-activity-in-dy...

Scientists have observed a surge of energetic activity in the brains of dying patients, a discovery that reveals that our brains can be active even as our hearts stop beating, reports a new study. The results challenge a longstanding assumption that brains become nonfunctional as they lose oxygen during cardiac arrest, and could eventually open a new window into the weird phenomena associated with near-death experiences (NDE). Jimo Borjigin, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan, has been interested in these questions since she first observed surges of activity in the brains of dying rats. The surges consisted of gamma waves, the fastest oscillations in the brain, which are associated with conscious perceptions, lucid dreams, and hallucinations. Now, Borjigin and her colleagues have discovered similar gamma activity in the brains of patients who died in the hospital while they were monitored by electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors, which record neural activity. The findings could ... help explain near-death experiences, which the study described as "a biological paradox that challenges our fundamental understanding of the dying brain, which is widely believed to be nonfunctioning" during death. "The dying brain was thought to be inactive; our study showed otherwise," said Borjigin, the senior author of the study. "As far as I am concerned, our study may be as good as it will ever get for finding neural signatures of near-death consciousness."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles on near-death experiences.


Minnesota’s Prison-to-Grilled-Cheese Pipeline Is Changing Lives
2023-04-27, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/minnesota-all-square-prison-entrepreneurs/

All Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota ... with its bright pink neon sign buzzing in the window on Minnehaha Avenue, is serving up much more than gooey sandwiches. Launched in September 2018 by a civil rights lawyer, All Square is a social enterprise that uses its restaurant (and a food truck) to right the wrongs of the American criminal justice system. The staff of All Square “fellows” is a rotating cohort of formerly incarcerated people. During the nine-month fellowship, employees receive not only a living wage, but also wraparound services like therapy sessions, professional development support and access to funding opportunities. To date, All Square has provided 48 fellowships, $2.8 million in wages ($1.6 million of which has gone directly to formerly incarcerated Minnesotans), 400 therapy sessions, and more than $60,000 in micro-grants for seed capital and debt alleviation. The overarching goal of All Square is to offer a true second chance at life post-incarceration that is otherwise systematically denied through near insurmountable restrictions to necessities like housing and jobs. Leveraging entrepreneurship to sidestep the inability to access traditional employment is just what Onika Goodluck, one of the original 14 fellows, did. Turned onto the program by her probation officer, Goodluck applied and after two interviews, landed the gig. After 10 years of on-and-off incarceration ... she says that therapy has made the biggest difference.

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


New research illuminates how the human brain creates its own psychedelic drugs
2023-02-20, Salon
https://www.salon.com/2023/02/20/new-research-illuminates-how-the-human-brain...

The World Health Organization estimates that ... depression and anxiety rose by more than 25 percent in the first year of the COVID pandemic, adding to the nearly one billion people who were already living with a mental disorder. One of the principal ways mental health disorders are thought to manifest is through severed connections between neurons — the winding, spindly cells in our brain and throughout our body essential for interpreting info from the external environment. Certain antidepressant drugs seem to work by increasing serotonin levels, an important neurotransmitter that the brain uses to send signals between neurons. They can help regrow neuronal connections ... only the effect seems to be slower, less dramatic [and] can come with significant drawbacks. In contrast, psychedelics can promote this kind of regrowth in as little as 24 hours, often less. Many experts believe psychedelic drugs ... act like Miracle Grow for neurons, helping them flourish like a dense forest. Pretty much the only reason drugs have a psychoactive effect on us at all is because they closely resemble chemicals our body already produces. Most psychedelic drugs like LSD, DMT and psilocybin are structurally similar to serotonin, so they can act on serotonin receptors, but in a slightly different way. You can think of it like clumsily-made lockpicks that still work in a lock designed for a specific key. But even the slight differences can have profound effects, specifically, altered perception of time and space and intensified colors and sounds.

Note: Read more on the healing potentials of psychedelic medicine. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How worker ownership builds community wealth and a more just society
2023-02-03, Waging Nonviolence
https://wagingnonviolence.org/2023/02/how-worker-ownership-builds-community-w...

Community wealth building initiatives are taking hold in cities across the world, strengthening worker pay, local economies and democracy. A recent help-wanted ad for a laundry worker in Cleveland contained some unusual language, asking prospective candidates: “Have you ever wanted to work for a company that is 90 percent employee-owned?” The ad went on to identify Evergreen Cooperative Laundry as the only employee-owned commercial laundry firm in the country, citing a commitment to building the wealth and careers of its employees. The cooperative movement in the Rust Belt city of Cleveland has deep roots in community struggle for shared wealth. Its earliest origins are in the Mondragon co-op movement of the Basque Country in northern Spain, where tens of thousands of workers are organized into a vast co-op network that has flourished since the 1950s. Here in the U.S., when steel companies were closing down throughout the Ohio Valley in the 1970s ... a small band of activists promoted the idea of worker ownership. The model is a simple one: First, identify anchor institutions — hospitals, universities, seats of government — that are not going to relocate in search of higher profits and incentivize them to do their procurement of supplies and services locally, so that those dollars stay at home. Then, make regulatory, financing and policy changes that support the growth of cooperatives to supply their needs, so that the business profits stay with the workers.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


In Holland People With Dementia Can Work on a Farm
2022-03-07, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/netherlands-care-farms-aging-dementia-work/

On Dutch ‘care farms,' aging folks tend to livestock, harvest vegetables and make their own decisions. Boerderij Op Aarde is one of hundreds of Dutch “care farms” operated by people facing an array of illnesses or challenges, either physical or mental. Today, there are roughly 1,350 care farms in the Netherlands. They provide meaningful work in agricultural settings with a simple philosophy: rather than design care around what people are no longer able to do, design it to leverage and emphasize what they can accomplish. Studies in Norway and the Netherlands found that people with dementia at care farms tended to move more and participate in higher-intensity activities than those in traditional care, which can help with mobility in daily life and have a positive impact on cognition. Dementia is often linked to social isolation, and care farms were found to boost social involvement. In traditional dementia care settings ... the focus tends to be on preventing risk. There’s often a fixed schedule of simple activities, like games or movies, and the only choice attendees are given is whether to participate or not. In the course of his research, [Jan] Hassink has spoken to countless people with dementia. Common to many of them is a desire to not only participate in society, but contribute to it. “We don’t focus on what’s missing, but what is still left,” says Arjan Monteny, cofounder of Boerderij Op Aarde, “what is still possible to develop in everybody.”

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The dancer aged 106 who bans the word 'old'
2021-06-01, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-57250509

At 106, Eileen Kramer seems more productive than ever. She writes a story a day from her Sydney aged-care facility, publishes books and has entered Australia's most prestigious painting competition. After decades living abroad, Ms Kramer returned to her home city of Sydney aged 99. Since then, she's collaborated with artists to create several videos that showcase her primary talent and lifelong passion: dancing. Ms Kramer still dances - graceful, dramatic movements mostly using the top half of her body. She has also choreographed. "Since returning to Sydney I've ... performed three big dance pieces at NIDA [the National Institute for Dramatic Art] and independent theatres. "I've participated in two big dance festivals ... I've been in a film, given many smaller performances, written three books, and today I'm having a free day!" she says. Something she often gets asked is where all her energy comes from - and whether there's a secret to dancing into old age. Her response is that she banishes the words "old" and "age" from her vocabulary. "I say: I'm not old, I've just been here a long time. I don't feel how people say you should feel when you're old. My attitude to creating things is identical to when I was a child." Ms Kramer trained as a dancer then toured Australia with the Bodenwieser Ballet for a decade. She travelled to India, and later settled in Paris and then New York - where she lived until she was 99. Her dance career spans four continents and one century, and it has always been her first love.

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Looking for something to do while quarantined? You can take Yale's most popular class ever for free online
2020-03-20, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-quarantine-yale-university-classes-f...

People around the world are learning to cope with quarantines in an attempt to stop the further spread of the new coronavirus. As city lockdowns force people to self-quarantine, everyone is searching for ways to keep busy and Yale University has a solution. "Psychology and the Good Life," a course first introduced by Professor Laurie Santos in spring 2018, teaches stressed-out students how to be happier. The university said it quickly became the most popular course in the school's 317-year history. Given its success, Yale decided to release the course online with the title, "The Science of Well Being." It features lectures by Santos "on things people think will make them happy but don't and, more importantly, things that do bring lasting life satisfaction." Anyone with an internet connection can sign up for the class for free. The course involves a series of challenges "designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits." The course is fully online and takes about 20 hours to complete. It includes videos, readings, quizzes and "retirement" activities to build happier habits. "The Science of Well Being" isn't the only course that could keep you busy during the coronavirus outbreak. Coursera offers other free courses from the nation's top schools, including "Greek and Roman Mythology" from the University of Pennsylvania, "Imagining other Earths" from Princeton, and "Child Nutrition and Cooking" from Stanford.

Note: Don't miss the incredibly popular course (4.9 stars out of 5) offered free on this webpage. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Two 20-Somethings Extend 'Invisible Hands' in Virus Outbreak
2020-03-18, US News & World Report/Associated Press
https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2020-03-18/two-20-somethings-extend-i...

Liam Elkind's big heart and his break from college was a highlight of 83-year-old Carol Sterling's week. The retired arts administrator has been sheltering at home during the coronavirus outbreak, unable to shop for herself. Yearning for some fresh food, she found the 20-year-old through their synagogue, and soon he showed up at her door with a bag full of salad fixings and oranges. Elkind, a junior at Yale, and a friend, Simone Policano, amassed 1,300 volunteers in 72 hours to deliver groceries and medicine to older New Yorkers and other vulnerable people. They call themselves Invisible Hands, and they do something else in the process provide human contact and comfort, at a safe distance, of course. Elkind and his fellow volunteers take the name of their project from their vigilance in maintaining social distance from the people they serve, and their meticulous care while shopping and delivering. Grocery and pharmacy orders are placed on the Invisible Hands website. It's gone from extremely casual to extremely operational very quickly, Elkind said. This is one of those times when I remember that New York is such a small town, and people are willing to look out for one another and have each other's back. Now, Elkind said, volunteers have offered to extend Invisible Hands to Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and London. It's been really exciting just to see that amount of interest and how many people there are in this world who want to do good and are looking for ways to do that," he said.

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


Vanishing Violence: Youth crime continues historic drop across US
2019-10-03, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Vanishing-Violence-Youth-crime-cont...

Youth crime continues to plummet across the country, with arrests of people under age 18 falling for the 13th straight year and reaching lows not seen in at least six decades, new FBI figures show. The number of juveniles arrested nationwide declined 11% from 2017 to 2018 alone, compared to a 2% drop for adults. Arrests of young people for violent crimes rape, robbery, assault and murder fell 5%, while they actually increased slightly for those 18 and older. The 2018 arrest rate among juveniles 21.3 per 1,000 youths is half of what it was in the 1960s and less than one-quarter of what it was in the mid-1990s, at the peak of a youth crime spike, according to an analysis of the FBI data provided to The Chronicle by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco. Its not just historic lows, its a historic chasm, said Mike Males, a senior research fellow with the center. Its not even leveling out. The data show that the trend of juveniles committing less crime has crept up into young adults, with arrests among those 18 to 24 also declining significantly in recent years. The changes could have profound implications on communities and the criminal justice system in years ahead. That may be the result of the low-crime juvenile generation aging into their 20s, Males said. Hopefully this generation is beginning to impact older generations. The plunge in teen crime extended to urban, suburban and rural counties, according to the FBI statistics.

Note: Sadly, this inspiring news has gotten very little media coverage other than in San Francisco. Why won't the media report this incredibly encouraging trend? Read more on this very hopeful trend on this webpage filled with hopeful and inspiring news.


A high school government class wanted to help solve civil rights crimes. So they drafted a bill that is now law
2019-02-26, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/26/us/new-jersey-students-civil-rights-bill-trnd/...

A high school class in Hightstown, New Jersey, has found an impressive way to shed light on unsolved civil rights crimes from the 1950s and '60s. The AP class, studying US government, drafted a bill that would create a board to review, declassify, and release documents related to such cases. The students ... went to Washington, walked the halls of Senate office buildings and passed out folders with policy research and information about their bill, said former student Joshua Fayer. Their efforts caught the attention of Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, who introduced the bill - modeled after the JFK Assassination Records Act - in March 2017. Later Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Ted Cruz of Texas signed on. The House and Senate versions ... passed late last year, and President Trump signed the bill into law on January 8. Former student Jay Vainganker said the class was initially trying to solve unresolved hate crimes from the [civil rights] era. They filed public records requests for information from the FBI and Department of Justice, and they got back redacted responses from the government. In some cases, entire pages were redacted. That's when their focus changed, Vaingankar said. They decided to draft a bill that would make the government "a little bit more transparent." The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act creates "a board that would be authorized to look at these documents and see what should be redacted, what isn't relevant, what should be released," he said.

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


Suicide is declining almost everywhere
2018-11-24, The Economist
https://www.economist.com/international/2018/11/24/suicide-is-declining-almos...

Zozh Is A Russian neologism, born of an acronym for a healthy lifestyle. It is part of a social transformation that has helped banish Russias demons. As exercise and smoothies have replaced despair and alcohol, the suicide rate in Russia has crashed. And this trend is not unique to Russia. Globally, the rate has fallen by 38% from its peak in 1994. As a result, over 4m lives have been savedmore than four times as many people as were killed in combat over the period. The decline has happened at different rates and different times in different parts of the world. America is the big exception. Until the turn of the century the rate there dropped along with those in other rich countries. But since then, it has risen by 18% to 12.8. The declines in those other big countries, however, far outweigh the rise in America. One big reason seems to be an improvement in the lot of Asian women. Among Chinese women in their 20s, the rate has dropped by nine-tenths since the mid-1990s; that group accounts for around half a million of those 4m lives saved. Greater social freedom is one of the reasons, suggests Jing Jun, a professor at Tsinghua University. There may be something similar going on in India. Young women face particularly challenging gender norms in India, says Vikram Patel of the Harvard Medical School. That is changing. Rates among young women have fallen faster than among any other group since 1990; Mr Patel believes they will continue to improve as social liberalisation continues.

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They Were Addicted to Opioids. Now Theyre Running the New York Marathon.
2018-11-01, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/01/nyregion/marathon-opioid-recovery-odyssey-...

Ryan Stevens sat on the edge of a concrete balustrade in Central Park after finishing three laps around the reservoir. She and her fellow runners [are] from Odyssey House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Ms. Stevens, who is 36 and lives in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx, was prepping for Sundays New York City Marathon her fourth, she said as a member of a unique group of competitors: former drug users who turned to running as part of their recovery from opioid addiction. Ms. Stevens said she grew up in Rhode Island and became addicted to her mothers prescription opioids at 22. That opened the door to ecstasy, cocaine and crystal meth. She completed an inpatient residential program at Odyssey House in June. Running, she said, has been central to her recovery. The 45 runners on the Odyssey House team who are planning to run New Yorks 26.2-mile trek include 19 current clients. The rest are supporters and alumni. John Tavolacci, Odyssey Houses chief operating officer, said he has run 22 marathons. He started the running group in 2001 as a supplement to treatment, based on a strong belief that running can be effective in helping overcome addiction. He has watched the Odyssey House team build self-esteem among participants, create a cooperative environment, and fill time for runners that otherwise might have been spent on negative pursuits.

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


Muslim communities raise more than $200,000 in 4 days for synagogue shooting victims
2018-10-31, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/29/us/iyw-muslim-crowdfunding-for-synagogue-victi...

A gunman stormed the Tree of Life Synagogue, killing 11 people in what the ADL called the deadliest attack ever on Jews in the United States. The horrific, hate-filled minutes were a raw manifestation of anger, division and anti-Semitism. But the response has been the opposite as faiths and cultures came together in grief and solidarity. Crowdfunding campaign "Muslims Unite for Pittsburgh Synagogue" has raised more than $200,000 to help the shooting victims. "We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action," the donation page says. The campaign is organized by the Muslim-American non-profits CelebrateMercy and MPower Change. It's hosted by LaunchGood, an online crowdfunding platform for the Muslim community. The campaign page invites all faiths to contribute, and the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh will work directly with the Tree of Life Synagogue to distribute the funds to the injured victims and grieving families. "The Pittsburgh community is our family; what happens to one of us, is felt by us all," The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh said in a statement. Shay Khatiri, an Iranian immigrant studying in Washington DC, was also inspired to help. He launched the Tree of Life Synagogue Victims campaign on GoFundMe on Saturday with a goal of $50,000. Khatiri has been inspired by the outpouring of support. More than 10 thousand people have donated, raising over $800,000.

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


The man with no memory: Navy vet wakes up, speaks only Swedish
2017-01-27, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/16/health/amnesia-swedish/

When police found the unconscious man in a Southern California Motel 6, the IDs on him said he was Michael Thomas Boatwright from Florida. But when the man awoke at Desert Regional Medical Center a few days later, he said he'd never heard of Boatwright. He didn't recall serving in the U.S. Navy. Or of being born in Florida. And he didn't speak a word of English. The man said his name was Johan Ek. And he said it in Swedish. Today, the 61-year-old man says he has come to terms with the name "Michael Boatwright," but only because doctors told him he should. He still feels like Johan Ek from Sweden. And he can't explain why. Everything Boatwright knows about his life before February 28 he knows because his social worker [Lisa Hunt-Vasquez] told him or because he read it on websites. He told CNN he learned that in 1987 he operated a consulting company called Kultur Konsult Nykoping. That is somewhat of a Swedish connection. He doesn't have any independent knowledge of his life before he woke up in the hospital. He still feels isolated in the hospital, so Hunt-Vasquez encouraged him to reach out to members of the local Swedish-American community. "They said he was getting depressed because he wasn't able to communicate," said Linda Kosvic, chairman of the Vasa Order of America chapter in San Jacinto, California. "We've been trying to provide him support and make him feel more comfortable." Members visit him in the hospital, bringing him Swedish foods.

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


The Radical Humaneness of Norways Halden Prison
2015-03-26, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/29/magazine/the-radical-humaneness-of-norways...

The turnoff to Norways newest prison was marked by a modest sign. There were no signs warning against picking up hitchhikers, no visible fences. Halden Fengsel ... is often called the worlds most humane maximum-security prison. To anyone familiar with the American correctional system, Halden seems alien. Its modern, cheerful and well-appointed facilities, the relative freedom of movement it offers, its quiet and peaceful atmosphere these qualities are so out of sync with the forms of imprisonment found in the United States that you could be forgiven for doubting whether Halden is a prison at all. It is, of course, but it is also ... the physical expression of an entire national philosophy about the relative merits of punishment and forgiveness. The treatment of inmates at Halden is wholly focused on helping to prepare them for a life after they get out. Not only is there no death penalty in Norway; there are no life sentences. Norwegian Correctional Service ... works with other government agencies to secure a home, a job and access to a supportive social network for each inmate before release; Norways social safety net also provides health care, education and a pension to all citizens. If inmates are having problems with one another, an officer or prison chaplain brings them together for a mediation session that continues until they have agreed to maintain peace and have shaken hands. Even members of rival gangs agree not to fight inside.

Note: Watch a great, short video on this model prison.


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?


Autism Breakthrough: Girl's Writings Explain Her Behavior and Feelings
2008-02-19, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4311223&page=1

Carly Fleischmann has severe autism and is unable to speak a word. But ... this 13-year-old has made a remarkable breakthrough. Two years ago, working with pictures and symbols on a computer keyboard, she started typing and spelling out words. The computer became her voice. "All of a sudden these words started to pour out of her, and it was an exciting moment because we didn't realize she had all these words," said speech pathologist Barbara Nash. Then Carly began opening up, describing what it was like to have autism. Carly writes about her frustrations with her siblings, how she understands their jokes and asks when can she go on a date. "We were stunned," Carly's father Arthur Fleischmann said. "We realized inside was an articulate, intelligent, emotive person that we had never met. This ... opened up a whole new way of looking at her." This is what Carly wants people to know about autism. "It is hard to be autistic because no one understands me. People look at me and assume I am dumb because I can't talk or I act differently than them. I think people get scared with things that look or seem different than them." Carly had another message for people who don't understand autism. "Autism is hard because you want to act one way, but you can't always do that. It's sad that sometimes people don't know that sometimes I can't stop myself and they get mad at me. If I could tell people one thing about autism it would be that I don't want to be this way. But I am, so don't be mad. Be understanding."

Note: Read an excellent follow-up article in which Carly answers readers questions about autism. For more, see this webpage.


Thousands of calls later, Denver’s acclaimed program that provides an alternative to police response is expanding
2022-02-20, Denver Post
https://www.denverpost.com/2022/02/20/denver-star-program-expansion/

Since June 2020, the mental health clinicians and paramedics working for Denver’s Support Team Assisted Response program have covered hundreds of miles in their white vans responding to 911 calls instead of police officers. They’ve responded to reports of people experiencing psychotic breaks. They’ve helped a woman experiencing homelessness who couldn’t find a place to change, so she undressed in an alley. They’ve helped suicidal people, schizophrenic people, people using drugs. They’ve handed out water and socks. They’ve helped connect people to shelter, food and resources. The program, known as STAR, began 20 months ago with a single van and a two-person team. More than 2,700 calls later, STAR is getting ready to expand to six vans and more than a dozen workers — growth the program’s leaders hope will allow the teams to respond to more than 10,000 calls a year. The Denver City Council last week voted unanimously to approve a $1.4 million contract with the Mental Health Center of Denver for the program’s continuation and expansion. The contract means the program that aims to send unarmed health experts instead of police officers to certain emergency calls will soon have broader reach and more operational hours. “STAR is an example of a program that has worked for those it has had contact with,” Councilwoman Robin Kniech said. “It is minimizing unnecessary arrests and unnecessary costs — whether that be jail costs or emergency room costs.”

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‘I wanted less than a minute’: 105-year-old unsatisfied after 100m world record
2021-11-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/nov/11/julia-hurricane-hawkins-100m-sp...

Like all elite athletes, Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins has a ruthless streak. So, despite setting a 100m world record on Sunday at the Louisiana Senior Games, she still wants to go faster. “It was wonderful to see so many family members and friends. But I wanted to do it in less than a minute,” the 105 year-old said after the race, where she recorded a time of 1:02.95, a record for women in the 105+ age category. When someone pointed out that 102 is less than her age and asked if that made her feel better, Hawkins answered: “No”. The retired teacher is no stranger to athletic excellence. She started competing at the National Senior Games when she was 80, specialising in cycling time trials. She eventually ended her cycling career saying that “there wasn’t anyone left my age to compete with”. When she turned 100 she took up sprinting. In 2017 she set the 100m world record for women over the age of 100 with a time of 39.62. When her record was broken in September by Diane Friedman, Hawkins decided to compete in a new age category. “I love to run, and I love being an inspiration to others,” Hawkins said. “I want to keep running as long as I can. My message to others is that you have to stay active if you want to be healthy and happy as you age.” Several age records for the 100m have tumbled this year. In August, Hiroo Tanaka of Japan blazed home in 16.69 to set the male record in the 90 and over category. In women’s competition Australia’s Julie Brims broke the 55+ record in a time of 12.24.

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


Why whales in Alaska have been so happy
2021-08-05, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58032702

During a normal summer, Glacier Bay and the surrounding area buzzes with traffic, as vessels of all sizes, from massive, 150,000-tonne cruise liners to smaller whale-watching boats, ply the waters as part of Southern Alaska's massive tourism industry. The Covid-19 pandemic brought all of that to a sudden halt. Overall marine traffic in Glacier Bay declined roughly 40%. According to research by [Christine] Gabriele and Cornell University researcher Michelle Fournet, the level of manmade sound in Glacier Bay last year dropped sharply from 2018 levels, particularly at the lower frequencies generated by the massive cruise ship engines. Peak sound levels were down nearly half. All this afforded researchers an unprecedented opportunity to study whale behaviour in the kind of quiet environment that hasn't existed in the area for more than century. Gabriele has already noted changes. She compared whale activity in pre-pandemic times to human behaviour in a crowded bar. They talk louder, they stay closer together, and they keep the conversation simple. Now, the humpbacks seem to be spreading out across larger swathes of the bay. Whales can hear each other over about 2.3km (1.4 miles), compared with pre-pandemic distances closer to 200m (650ft). That has allowed mothers to leave their calves to play while they swim out to feed. Some have been observed taking naps. And whale songs - the ghostly whoops and pops by which the creatures communicate - have become more varied.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring marine mammals news articles.


In emotional reunion, Jewish victim of Arab mob thanks Arab nurse who saved him
2021-05-25, Times of Israel
https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-emotional-reunion-jewish-victim-of-arab-mob-...

A Jewish man who was badly injured when he was beaten by an Arab mob has told of his joy at reuniting with the Arab nurse who saved him. Fadi Kasem, a nurse at the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, went to a riot scene in Acre two weeks ago, during a spike in Arab-Jewish violence, accompanying a sheikh who was appealing for calm. An 11-day conflict between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip, which ended Friday, sparked violent riots in Jewish-Arab cities within Israel, including communities long seen as models of coexistence. When Kasem arrived at the scene in Acre he was shocked to see a Jewish man lying on the ground after he had been surrounded in his car and then attacked outside the vehicle by a mob wielding stones, sticks and knives. “I was scared he was going to die,” said Kasem. “There was lots of blood and a head injury.” Kasem administered first aid to the victim, Mor Janashvili, 29, and saw him taken to the hospital. Janashvili ... is back home in Haifa, still in a wheelchair and in significant pain, but recovering and convinced that Kasem’s intervention made all the difference. Just before Janashvili was discharged from the hospital, Kasem paid a visit to his room. Janashvili said to him: “You saved my life. I don’t know what I would have done without you.” Kasem replied modestly: “I did what had to be done.” “It was a very moving meeting,” Janashvili recalled. “After all, in a place where people weren’t showing humanity, he showed such great humanity.”

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


‘Blind date’ for political rivals? TV show is breaking down barriers.
2021-05-05, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2021/0505/Blind-date-for-political-r...

It’s called “Political Blind Date.” And far from being a hokey reality show for the political set, the popular Canadian series aims to break down walls around contentious issues from gun rights to climate change. At a time when political exchanges are often caustic and unyielding, a Canadian TV show is modeling a different approach. It creates space for rival politicians to share views and experiences respectfully – and viewers love it. With filming of a fifth season underway, about 50 politicians have participated, spending two days together with each other’s constituents. The show has been optioned to the United Kingdom, France, Israel, and South Africa, and is being shopped in the United States. “It’s a moment,” says director Mark Johnston, “where people are trying to heal and listen to each other.” Getting beyond the media scrum, the yelling during parliamentary question periods, the sound bites on nightly news, and the callous swipes over social media, producers set the stage for participants to engage one another with the time and respect that complex problems require. “Respect is at the heart of it. Not only are politicians, in the way they are using political rhetoric, not respecting each other; they’re disrespecting their citizenry,” says Mark Johnston, showrunner of “Political Blind Date.” The goal is not to get the two politicians to reverse their positions, something that rarely happens. It’s to slow down and study policies in all their complexity, and to hear the human concerns and perspectives that lie behind their support.

Note: Enjoy a wonderful compilation of inspiring stories from the pandemic times on this webpage. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Study: Regular gardening improves mental and physical wellbeing
2021-04-29, Optimist Daily
https://www.optimistdaily.com/2021/04/study-regular-gardening-can-help-improv...

Whether you took up gardening during the pandemic or have been a lifelong cultivator, we have good news for you — a recent study found that the outdoor hobby may do wonders for your wellbeing, mental health, and overall life satisfaction. According to the study, conducted by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), people who garden daily have wellbeing scores 6.6 percent higher and stress levels 4.2 percent lower than those who do not garden at all. It takes only two to three gardening sessions per week to reap these healthy benefits. “This is the first time the ‘dose response’ to gardening has been tested and the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the more frequently you garden — the greater the health benefits,” said study lead author Dr. Lauriane Chalmin-Pui. “In fact gardening every day has the same positive impact on wellbeing than undertaking regular, vigorous exercise like cycling or running.” As part of the study, the scientists researched why residents engaged in gardening. They monitored 5,766 gardeners and 259 non-gardeners through an electronic survey distributed within the UK. The results revealed that six in ten people garden because of the pleasure and enjoyment they get from it. Just under a third of the participants claimed they garden for the health benefits. The findings also indicated that gardening may boost mental health, with those with health issues stating that the outdoor hobby reduced feelings of depression, boosted energy levels, and reduced stress.

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This boat makes its own hydrogen fuel from seawater
2020-07-17, CNET
https://www.cnet.com/news/this-boat-makes-its-own-hydrogen-fuel-from-seawater/

Somewhere in the vast ocean, a little boat covered in solar panels is doing something extraordinary: making its own hydrogen fuel from the seawater underneath it. The Energy Observer uses a patchwork of different cutting-edge technologies to generate enough energy to power nine homes each day. During the day, 200 square meters of solar panels charge up the boat's lithium ion batteries. Any extra energy is stored as hydrogen, thanks to a special fuel cell that goes by the name Rex H2 (short for Range Extender H2). The Rex H2 was made by Toyota, using components from Toyota's hydrogen-powered Mirai vehicle line. The fuel cell brings in seawater, removes the salt and then separates the H from the pure H20 with electricity. When the Energy Observer began its journey in 2017, it could only produce hydrogen while stopped. That changed in a big way with the addition of the Oceanwings, 12-meter sails that improved the efficiency of the Energy Observer from 18% to 42%, to the point where it can now produce hydrogen even while sailing. One of the main benefits of hydrogen is its ability to store more more electricity by weight than its lithium ion competition. This benefit is especially useful at sea. Because fossil fuels have had more than a century's head start, we now find ourselves far beyond the point of any one technology being a silver bullet for our growing energy needs. A sustainable future will require a patchwork of new technologies, like the one powering the Energy Observer.

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Fertility rate: 'Jaw-dropping' global crash in children being born
2020-07-15, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/health-53409521

Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. And 23 nations - including Spain and Japan - are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born. What is going on? The fertility rate - the average number of children a woman gives birth to - is falling. If the number falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. Researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 - and their study, published in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100. As a result, the researchers expect the number of people on the planet to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century. It is being driven by more women in education and work, as well as greater access to contraception, leading to women choosing to have fewer children. In many ways, falling fertility rates are a success story. A smaller population would reduce carbon emissions as well as deforestation for farmland. Says Prof [Christopher] Murray ... "It will create enormous social change."

Note: The full article at the link above largely paints decreasing population as a problem. One of the greatest fears for many years was that global overpopulation would destroy our planet. Why is the news that global population will decline being spun here as a problem? Why not celebrate this good news? Could it be that the media profits from selling fear? For more on this great shift, see this inspiring information.


Humpback Whales Have Made a Remarkable Recovery, Giving Us Hope for the Planet
2020-05-16, Time Magazine
https://time.com/5837350/humpback-whales-recovery-hope-planet/

In the depths of the ocean, and out of sight for most of us, there’s a quiet miracle happening. Many humpback whale populations, previously devastated by commercial whaling, are making a comeback. A recent study on humpbacks that breed off the coast of Brazil and call Antarctic waters home during the summer has shown that these whales can now be found in the sort of numbers seen before the days of whaling. Records suggest that in the 1830s there were around 27,000 whales but, after heavy hunting, by the mid-1950s only 450 remained. It is reassuring to see what happens when we leave nature to follow its course. The ban of commercial whaling in 1986 led to a strong recovery and now this population is thought to be around 93% of its original size. By taking away the threat of hunting, and having safe spaces to survive and thrive, humpback numbers in many areas have recovered. This is great news for the whales, of course, but also for the climate. Keeping carbon out of the atmosphere is key to tackling the climate crisis and the contribution that a single whale can make is something we need to take seriously. On average a single whale stores around 33 tonnes of CO2. If we consider only the Antarctic humpback whales that breed in Brazil, protecting this population alone has resulted in 813,780 tonnes of CO2 being stored in the deep sea. That’s around twice the yearly CO2 emissions of a small country like Bermuda or Belize, according to 2018 emissions data.

Note: Blue whales are also showing a remarkable recovery, as reported in this BBC News article. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles on marine mammals.


Why CEOs are giving up their salaries during the coronavirus crisis
2020-03-26, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/26/investing/ceo-giving-up-pay-coronavirus/index....

Coronavirus has hit companies hard and fast over the past several weeks prompting calls for industry bailouts and dramatic measures to cut costs. Among the steps some major corporations are taking to mitigate the consequences of the outbreak are pay cuts to CEOs and other top executives. Executive pay cuts alone aren't likely to have a significant impact on companies' bottom lines or provide a boost to lower-paid employees further down the org chart. But they send an important message. Airlines and travel companies, one of the industries hit hardest by the outbreak early on, were among the first to take such a step, including Delta (DAL), Alaska (ALK), United Airlines (UAL) and others, which all announced CEO pay cuts, and other executive compensation reductions. Marriott (MAR), the world's largest hotel chain, said last week that CEO Arne Sorenson will not take home any salary for the rest of the year, and the rest of the executive team will take a 50% pay cut. The announcement came at the same time that the company said it would begin furloughing what could be tens of thousands of hotel workers, from housekeepers to general managers. On Wednesday, Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) also announced its CEO Ed Stack and President Lauren Hobart will forgo their salaries, except for an amount covering company-provided benefits. The company's other named executive officers will take a 50% reduction in base salary. Other companies, including Ford (F), GE (GESLX) and Lyft (LYFT) have taken similar steps.

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


The Antarctic ozone hole is the smallest since it was discovered
2019-10-21, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/21/world/antarctic-ozone-hole-shrinks-scn-trnd/in...

While the ozone hole over Antarctica typically grows in September and October, scientists observed the smallest ozone hole since they first began observing it in 1982, according to a joint release by NASA and NOAA. Unusual weather patterns in the upper atmosphere limited depletion of ozone, the layer in our atmosphere that acts like sunscreen and protects us from ultraviolet radiation. On September 8, the ozone hole reached a peak of 6.3 million square miles and then shrank to less than 3.9 million square miles, according to the report. Usually, the hole would grow to reach 8 million square miles. The annual ozone hole forms when rays from the sun interact with the ozone and man-made compounds such as chlorine and bromine to deplete the ozone. This occurs during late winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Cloud particles in the cold stratosphere lead to reactions that destroy ozone molecules, which are made of three oxygen atoms. But when temperatures are warmer, these clouds don't form, which limits ozone destruction. This is only the third time in 40 years when warm temperatures caused by weather systems have actually helped limit the ozone hole. This also occurred in 1988 and 2002. But the scientists say there is no connection they've identified to link the patterns with climate change. The ozone layer over the Antarctic is expected to recover by 2070 as compounds used as coolants, called chlorofluorocarbons, decline. They were regulated 32 years ago by the Montreal Protocol.

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This charity is feeding the hungry and helping the planet by rescuing millions of pounds of leftover food
2019-09-25, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/25/health/iyw-forgotten-harvest-food-waste-trnd/i...

According to FDA estimates, the United States wastes 30 to 40% of its food. That's hard to swallow when you consider that one in 10 US households faced food insecurity in 2018. That means roughly 14 million families are struggling to put meals on the table while approximately 30 million tons of food are trashed. For 29 years Forgotten Harvest, a nonprofit in Detroit, has been rescuing food destined for landfills and redirecting it to the hungry. Forgotten Harvest CEO Kirk Mayes says it's taken that long to develop the logistics for his program, which now rescues and delivers 130,000 pounds of food a day. "This operation is set up so that our fleet of about 27 trucks and our drivers can leave our warehouse in the morning and go to about 12 to 14 different stops ... for our donations." Mayes says. Drivers collect food from local bakers and butchers and national chains, he says. "And then these drivers redistribute the food to three to four community partners on a daily basis." A rotating army of 16,000 volunteers makes this daily event happen. "At our warehouse, our volunteers are working with commodities that are coming off of our farm and from other commodity partners like the food manufacturers and other farms and donations," Mayes says. "All this (food) is inspected, sorted and set to go out." The result? Last year Forgotten Harvest redistributed 41 million pounds of food, Mayes says. That's 41 million pounds that filled stomachs instead of landfills.

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


How Thorn Is Fighting To Eliminate Child Sexual Abuse From The Internet
2019-08-14, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/meimeifox/2019/08/14/how-thorn-is-fighting-to-el...

Child sexual abuse material has exploded since the dawn of the internet era, while child sex trafficking also has increased as a result of being made easier for traffickers. The number of child sexual abuse files exchanged online grew from 450,000 in 2004 to 25 million in 2015, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore cofounded Thorn to combat this problem. The non-profits mission is to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse online by eliminating all child sexual abuse material from the internet. Thorn partners across the tech industry, government and NGOs and leverages technology to combat predatory behavior, rescue victims, and protect vulnerable children. The non-profits products are used today in 35 countries and have helped identify more than 30,000 victims of abuse, 10,000 of whom were children. Recently, Thorn was one of eight recipients to share in an over $280 million grant from The Audacious Project by TED. As CEO of Thorn, Julie Cordua manages the Thorn Technology Task Force, the largest organization of its kind, uniting technology companies committed to fighting child exploitation. We saw how technology was being used to exploit our children through child sex trafficking, the spread of child sexual abuse material, and online grooming and coercion. Yet there was no concentrated effort to use technology to fight back and stop this abuse, Cordua says.

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


Man born with no limbs is now a talented break dancer
2019-01-30, Metro.co.uk (One of the UK's most popular websites)
https://metro.co.uk/2019/01/30/man-born-with-no-limbs-is-now-a-talented-break...

19-year-old Gabe Adams was born with Hanhart syndrome, a rare medical condition characterised by underdeveloped limbs, mouth and jaw. In Gabes case, none of his limbs grew at all. At school Gabe tried out for the dance team as a way of making friends discovering he could use his limbless body to his advantage in the art of break dancing. After graduating from high school he has continued to prove his independence, moving out of the family home and embarking on a career as a motivational speaker. From a young age Gabe started using a wheelchair but his parents were determined that their son would be as independent as possible. At school Gabe would wedge a pencil or pen between his shoulder and cheek to write in class. The day of the dance tryouts they called us all in a line and they said, okay dancer remember to full out extensions and point your toes. What am I gonna point? My nose!? I am just standing there in front of the judges and then I see girls do the spins and I am like, I can do that, so I do the spins. The next day at school and I hear two girls talking behind me and they say: They are only gonna put him on the stage because he is handicappedand that crushed me. I ran to the dance coach and I said please do not put me on the team because you feel sorry for me, and she said: I would not put you or anybody else on the team because I felt sorry for them, you get a spot on this team because you deserved it. And that was just a huge opening moment for me.

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


How 'Buddy Benches' are making playtime less lonely
2018-12-04, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-45958313

One day, during her usual chat with her eight-year-old son about school, Tracey Cooney got an answer she didn't expect. "There was nobody to play with. Everyone was playing in their own little groups," he confided. She was surprised because he was usually outgoing and confident. Cooney felt a little upset, but remembered something she had seen on social media and wondered if it could help children in his situation. It's called a Buddy Bench. The idea is simple - if a child feels lonely, they can go to the bench as a signal that they need someone to play with. Another child will see them, go and talk to them and include them in their games. So Cooney asked other parents and the head teacher at Castlemartyr National School in Cork, Ireland, whether they would be interested in getting one - their answer was, "Yes." "We use the bench as a reminder for children of things like communication, mutual support and opening up about feelings," says Judith Ashton, a psychotherapist and co-founder of ... Buddy Bench Ireland. Apart from reducing social isolation and improving mental wellbeing, the hope is that the benches can tackle another problem: bullying. But do children actually use the bench? "They don't see it as stigmatised," says Sinead McGilloway ... who led a study of 117 pupils at three schools which have benches. Forty per cent of the children she questioned said they had used the bench, and 90% said if they saw someone else sitting on it they would talk to them.

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


'Our time is now': world youth poll reveals unexpected optimism
2018-09-24, The Guardian (one of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/ng-interactive/2018/sep/24/our...

Teenagers in Kenya and Mexico are more optimistic about their future than those in France and Sweden, according to polling across 15 countries, which found young people in developing nations have more positive outlooks. The survey, conducted by Ipsos ... found young people across all countries were more optimistic than adults, though there was widespread dissatisfaction with politicians. More than nine in 10 teenagers in Kenya, Mexico, China, Nigeria and India reported feeling positive about their future. Their responses contrasted with those of young people in France and Sweden, the most pessimistic of countries surveyed. Dr Alex Awiti, from Aga Khan University, who has researched youth attitudes across east Africa, said young people in the region are optimistic because they know that their voices count. If young people want to mobilise, all the governments in east Africa could be toppled within a matter of days, he said. What is impressive is young people across east Africa really know what they want. Awiti pointed to the large numbers of youth-led organisations in countries such as Kenya, where under-35s make up about 80% of the population. Young people are still, however, under-represented in politics.

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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...

Whats good news for those concerned with climate change, and bad news for electric utilities? Thats 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 hasnt 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 societys big problems.

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.


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...

Gymnast Johanna Quaas, 86, displays a grace and agility that belies her years as she takes to the parallel bars in a pre-Olympics German gymnastics event. 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. And this Washington Post article shows she's still going at age 91.


Blind Jazz Sax Teacher Inspires Students to ‘Feel’ Their Instruments, Uses His Disability as Teaching Tool
2024-02-09, Good News Network
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/blind-jazz-sax-teacher-inspires-students-to-f...

From a Tampa performing arts conservatory comes the story of a blind jazz saxophonist who uses his disability as a teaching tool. He encourages his students to act on instinct; to feel the music through their instruments, and not let the waking world deceive them. “Welcome to every day of my life,” says Matthew Weihmuller in his jazz improvisation class after turning the lights off. “Then we have a big laugh,” he adds. When Weihmuller started playing, he needed braille sheet music, and pieces would take months; even years to learn. As if that weren’t difficult enough, few people in the country were capable of providing braille music, so he started “brailling” his own, with the help of his mom. “They can’t look at their instrument. Now, they have to feel their instrument with their fingers and hands, right?” Weihmuller told Fox 13. “Now, we’ve got to listen to the music. We can’t read it. It forces the students to use their other senses.” During improvisational sessions, a musician has to be ready for sudden changes in time signature or key. This is nearly impossible to express through sheet music. At least in this regard, the children are learning in the best way for this unorthodox, yet traditional form of jazz music. As an educator with blindness, Weihmuller stresses turning any disadvantage into an advantage, a teaching philosophy that has led some students to tell the man that he has changed the way they look at life.

Note: Read more inspiring news articles on the power of art. For more, explore our uplifting Inspiration Center, which focuses on solutions and the best of humanity and life.


Revolutionary Civic Social Media Is On the Horizon
2023-10-10, LA Progressive
https://www.laprogressive.com/techie-tips/revolutionary-civic-social-media

Social media platforms have become an integral part of our lives, but they also pose significant challenges for our society. From spreading misinformation and hate speech to undermining democracy and privacy, social media can have negative impacts on the public good. How can we harness the power of social media for positive purposes, such as civic engagement, social justice, and education? One possible solution is to create a new kind of social media platform that is designed to serve the public interest, not the profit motive. This platform would be owned and governed by its users, who would have a say in how it operates and what content it promotes. Such a platform may sound utopian, but it is not impossible. In fact, there are already some examples of social media platforms that are trying to achieve these goals, such as Mastodon, Diaspora, and Aether. These platforms are based on the principles of decentralization, federation, and peer-to-peer communication, which allow users to have more control and autonomy over their online interactions. Civic Works ... is an emerging social networking platform that provides a more democratic, inclusive, and responsible online space for everyone. It is built on the idea that social media can be a force for good when the objective is not subverted by advertisers, marketers, or shadowy political operatives. It is a platform that inspires people to become active citizens, through civic, political, economic, and/or educational actions.

Note: The social media platform PeakD is censorship-proof and is governed by network operators who are elected by the community. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Can cooking and gardening at school inspire better nutrition? Ask these kids
2023-10-09, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/10/09/1204077086/can-cooking-a...

After a decline in nutrition education in U.S. schools in recent decades, there's new momentum to weave food and cooking into the curriculum again. Remember the hands-on cooking in home economics class, which was a staple in U.S. schools for decades? "I'd love to see it brought back and have the science around healthy eating integrated," says Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dean told me she was inspired by a visit to Watkins Elementary, in Washington, D.C., where this idea is germinating. Students grow vegetables in their school garden. They also roll up their sleeves in the school's kitchen to participate in a FRESHFARM FoodPrints class, which integrates cooking and nutrition education. Evaluations show participation in FRESHFARM programs is associated with increased preference for fruits and vegetables. And, the CDC points to evidence that nutrition education may help students maintain a healthy weight and can also help students recognize the connection between food and emotional wellbeing. Given the key role diet plays in preventing chronic disease, the agency says it would be ideal to offer more nutrition education. Programs like FRESHFARM can help kids expand their palettes by introducing them to new tastes. At first, many kids are turned off by the bitter taste of greens. But through the alchemy of cooking, caramelizing the onions, and blending in fresh ginger, kids can be inspired.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Why Is the Moneyless Economy Thriving in America?
2023-08-29, LA Progressive
https://www.laprogressive.com/economic-equality/moneyless-economy

The free, moneyless economy is flourishing in America. Roughly 250 million people were still visiting Craigslist worldwide each month in 2022, 27 years after the site was launched in 1995—and many of those Craigslist users are posting and sharing goods under the site’s popular “free stuff” section. About eight years after Craigslist was launched, Freecycle Network came online in 2003. More than 9 million Americans were still using Freecycle as of 2020, which I detailed in an article that year. And then there’s the relatively young Buy Nothing Project, which turned 10 years old in July of 2023. In addition to providing a digital space where people can request things they need, post things they’re giving away, and share gratitude, one of the B corp’s social benefit model goals is to encourage people to organize community and local events around buying nothing. Over the years, Buy Nothing has been gaining popularity—not through any marketing on the part of the organization but through word-of-mouth and organic growth. The Buy Nothing app, which has only been around for about two years, is ... zeroing in on 1 million users. Buy Nothing’s model varies from that of Craigslist’s “free stuff” and Freecycle in that it is focused on community groups, gatherings, and events organized by and for local communities. The idea is that a global reuse economy will emerge community by community. Buy Nothing exists ... “to build resilient communities where our true wealth is the connections forged between neighbors.”

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The sports movement spreading positivity in war-torn Yemen
2023-08-16, Positive News
https://www.positive.news/society/yemen-best-team-sports-club/

By the time the sun casts its first beams on war-ravaged Yemen, hundreds of men will have taken their positions across the park, and the workout begins. Enthusiastic chants of “Ahsan Fareek”, or “Best Team”, boom across the park as members of this daily, free, open-to-all sports club begin a set of 33 exercises designed to work the whole body. For the next hour, they temporarily put aside the stressors they’ve accumulated from the devastating eight-year civil war that has claimed 377,000 lives, touching their toes, standing on one leg and reaching for the sky. By 6.30am the crowd disperses, and everyone goes about their day, rejuvenated and energized, ready to meet again the following morning. “It is a sports club for everyone, but it’s particularly vital for the elderly, who suffer from illnesses and anxiety and for whom treatment is unaffordable,” says Najy Abu Hatem, co-founder of the initiative. “Being part of Best Team lifts their morale and gives them free exercise classes in a healthy and social setting.” In a country of 33 million people, there are only 59 psychiatrists – one psychiatrist per 500,000 people – and the total number of mental health workers is just 304. Although Best Team can hardly tackle this huge, ongoing mental health crisis, the twin benefits it provides of camaraderie and physical exercise – under the guise of a more socially acceptable men’s sports club – is nonetheless quietly improving people’s mental wellbeing across the capital and beyond.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Japan can teach the world a better way to age
2023-08-15, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/08/15/japan-elderly-care-dignity...

If you want a glimpse of the future, go to Japan. What lies ahead for many other countries, including the United States, is in rural areas and regional cities outside greater Tokyo: lots of people aging and dying, and relatively few giving birth and raising kids. In today’s Japan, the young and middle-aged are consumed by caring for the old, and small-town resources are overstretched. Japanese innovators are already demonstrating what’s possible — and, in many cases, not with high-tech fixes but by showcasing design thinking, dignity and respect. Instead, they would be invited to share their wisdom and skills to help them stay active, sharp and socially engaged. Old people at the center cook for one another and teach young people how to grow vegetables and make art. The city [of Toyama] repurposed old train and tram lines into a sleek light-rail system, with platforms placed at the level of the train cars so that people would not need to climb or descend stairs. Public transit ridership among people in their 60s and 70s has since more than tripled, and this has helped seniors maintain active and social lifestyles. Other social entrepreneurs in Japan have focused on food — for instance, bringing children and the elderly together in cafeterias that serve traditional dishes. One Tokyo pop-up eatery, dubbed the Restaurant of Mistaken Orders, has employed people with dementia as its waitstaff. [Japanese innovators have] yielded ideas that prioritize helping old people flourish, not just managing their illnesses, disabilities and deaths.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Brain Waves Synchronize when People Interact
2023-07-01, Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/brain-waves-synchronize-when-peopl...

Collective neuroscience, as some practitioners call it, is a rapidly growing field of research. An early, consistent finding is that when people converse or share an experience, their brain waves synchronize. Neurons in corresponding locations of the different brains fire at the same time, creating matching patterns, like dancers moving together. Auditory and visual areas respond to shape, sound and movement in similar ways, whereas higher-order brain areas seem to behave similarly during more challenging tasks such as making meaning out of something seen or heard. The experience of "being on the same wavelength" as another person is real, and it is visible in the activity of the brain. Interbrain synchrony prepares people for interaction and beginning to understand it as a marker of relationships. Given that synchronized experiences are often enjoyable, researchers suspect this phenomenon is beneficial: it helps us interact and may have facilitated the evolution of sociality. This new kind of brain research might also illuminate why we don't always "click" with someone or why social isolation is so harmful to physical and mental health. Preliminary evidence ... shows synchrony between interacting brains and, more intriguingly, that correlations in some brain regions are greater between people while they are telling a joint story than during the independent stories, particularly in the parietal cortex. "That area is active for memory and narrative construction," [neuroscientist Thalia] Wheatley says. "It seems to fit."

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


Faced with a violent killing, a family chooses forgiveness over prison
2023-06-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/26/restorative-justice-murder-ch...

Alex Fields had not spoken to his nephew in four years. Not since the killing. But when his nephew Donald Fields Jr finally appeared over Zoom from the county jail, Alex Fields was consumed by the moment. Don Jr was charged with the murder of his father, Donald Fields Sr, in 2016. Today was the first step in a long journey that would see a tragedy transformed into a pioneering case of compassion in America's punitive criminal justice system. It marked the first time that restorative justice – the act of resolving crimes through community reconciliation and accountability over traditional punishment – had been used in a homicide case in the state of North Carolina. And probably the first case of its kind in the US. The DA's office forged a new plea deal, which offered Don Jr the opportunity to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter, which could see him sentenced to "time served". The family worked on a new repair agreement, which was 13 points long and had conditions facilitating Don Jr's release. There is increasing evidence that use of restorative justice lowers rates of recidivism. Those who are victims of violence are far more likely to become perpetrators of violent acts later on. "Just as we cannot incarcerate our way out of violence, we cannot reform our way out of mass incarceration without taking on the question of violence," [Danielle Sered] writes. "The context in which violence happens matters, as do the identities and experiences of those involved.”

Note: Danielle Sered is the founder of a Brooklyn-based restorative justice organization Common Justice, which is the first alternative-to-incarceration and victim-service program in the United States that focuses on violent felonies in the adult courts. For further reading, explore her book, Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair.


The trauma doctor: Gabor Maté on happiness, hope and how to heal our deepest wounds
2023-04-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/apr/12/the-trauma-doctor-gabor-...

[Gabor] Maté was born in January 1944; in May of that year, the deportation of Hungary’s Jews to Auschwitz began. By the end of the Holocaust, 565,000 Hungarian Jews had been murdered, Maté’s maternal grandparents among them. When he was 11 months old, his mother sent him with a stranger to be cared for by his aunt. Maté says trauma, from the Greek for “wound”, “is not what happens to you; it is what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you. It is not the blow on the head, but the concussion I get.” That, he says, is the good news. “If my trauma was that my mother gave me to a stranger ... that will never not have happened. But if the wound was that I decided as a result that I wasn’t worthwhile as a human being, I wasn’t lovable, that’s a wound that can heal at any time.” There can be two types of wound, he says. “There’s the capital-T traumatic events,” which include things like being abused as a child and the loss of a parent. Then there are “small-T traumas”. “You can wound a kid not only by doing bad things to them, but by also not meeting their needs,” he says. Maté has a heightened level of compassion. For him, the real villain is our culture. Many of the plights of modern society are, he says, natural responses to an unhealthy culture. Take addiction. His view is that there is no such thing as an “addictive personality”. Nor is addiction a disease. His mantra is: “Don’t ask why the addiction, ask why the pain. Addiction is a normal response to trauma.”

Note: The Wisdom of Trauma is a powerful film that travels alongside Dr. Gabor Maté in his quest to discover the connection between illness, addiction, trauma, and society. Deeply touching and captivating in its diverse portrayal of real human stories, the film also provides a new vision of a trauma-informed society that seeks to “understand the sources from which troubling behaviors and diseases spring in the wounded human soul.” Anyone can watch this donation-optional film at the above link.


'Bees are sentient': inside the stunning brains of nature’s hardest workers
2023-04-02, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/apr/02/bees-intelligence-minds-p...

When Stephen Buchmann finds a wayward bee on a window inside his Tucson, Arizona, home, he goes to great lengths to capture and release it unharmed. This March, Buchmann released a book that unpacks just how varied and powerful a bee’s mind really is. The book, What a Bee Knows: Exploring the Thoughts, Memories and Personalities of Bees, draws from his own research and dozens of other studies to paint a remarkable picture of bee behavior and psychology. It argues that bees can demonstrate sophisticated emotions resembling optimism, frustration, playfulness and fear, traits more commonly associated with mammals. Experiments have shown bees can experience PTSD-like symptoms, recognize different human faces, process long-term memories while sleeping, and maybe even dream. Approximately one-third of the American diet, including many fruits, vegetables and nuts, relies on bees for pollination. In the past, bee research has focused on their role in crop pollination, but the work being pioneered by Buchmann and his contemporaries could force an ethical reckoning with how the animals are treated. Can large-scale agriculture and scientific research continue without causing bees to suffer, and is the dominant western culture even capable of accepting that the tiniest of creatures have feelings, too? Buchmann hopes an ethical shift will happen as details about the emotional lives of invertebrates – especially bees – are shared with the public.

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‘This feels more like spin-the-bottle than science’: my mission to find a proper diagnosis – and treatment – for my son’s psychosis
2023-02-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/feb/25/this-feels-more-like-spin-the...

Psychosis is often thought to be genetic, or a symptom of brain chemistry gone awry, which is what I was led to believe for much of my journey through the traditional mental health system. [My son] Zach’s first diagnosis was psychosis NOS (Not Otherwise Specified). Later ... he was classified with either schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia, depression with psychotic symptoms or, more recently, schizoaffective disorder. I craved solutions, and the more I searched the more confused I became. First, I discovered that no disease markers show up in brain scans or blood tests for any of these so-called disorders. Nobody seems to know for sure what is really going on, which feels more like a spin-the-bottle game than science. The effects of the antipsychotic drugs were intolerable for Zach, far worse than the symptoms that they were meant to alleviate. In Finland, a more radical understanding of extreme distress led to a programme called Open Dialogue which aims to avoid hospitalisation and medication with therapy that revolves around families and other networks, and involves contact, preferably in the person’s home. It has contributed to lowering the suicide rate in Finland; one of the highest in the world in the 1990s, it has dropped by 50% since Open Dialogue began. Despite a quarter of a trillion pounds spent on mental health in Britain since the 1980s, it is the only area of medicine where outcomes have stalled, and by some measures are even going backwards.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Plastic-Eating Mushrooms: Species, Benefits, Impact
2022-12-14, Treehugger
https://www.treehugger.com/mushroom-that-eats-plastic-5121023

Certain mushroom species have the ability to consume polyurethane, one of the main ingredients in plastic products. Some scientists believe that these natural composters could be the key to cleaning up our planet. Mycoremediation is the natural process that fungi use to degrade or isolate contaminants in the environment. A 2020 study published in Biotechnology Reports found that mycoremediation applied to agricultural wastes like pesticides, herbicides, and cyanotoxins is more cost-effective, eco-friendly, and effective. A project using the mycelium (the vegetative part of the mushroom similar to a plant’s root system) of two common mushrooms made headlines in 2014. Using Pleurotus ostreatus, also known as the oyster mushroom, and Schizophyllum commune, aka the split gill mushroom, the team was able to turn plastic into human-grade food. The mushrooms were cultivated on circular pods made of seaweed-derived gelatin filled with UV-treated plastics. As the fungus digests the plastic, it grows around the edible base pods to create a mycelium-rich snack after just a few months. According to a study by the University of Rajasthan in India, plastic-eating mushrooms can sometimes absorb too much of the pollutant in their mycelium, and therefore cannot be consumed. If more research is performed regarding the safety aspects, however, mycoremediation through mushroom cultivation could perhaps address two of the world’s greatest problems: waste and food scarcity.

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First ever EU-wide limits for underwater noise
2022-11-29, European Commission
https://environment.ec.europa.eu/news/zero-pollution-and-biodiversity-first-e...

Underwater noise due to human activities at sea can harm marine biodiversity, leading for example to hearing impairment and behavioural disturbances. EU experts have adopted recommendations on maximum acceptable levels for impulsive (for example from oil and gas exploration and extraction) and continuous (such as from shipping) underwater noise. The new limits mean, that to be in tolerable status, no more than 20% of a given marine area, can be exposed to continuous underwater noise over a year Similarly, no more than 20% of a marine habitat can be exposed to impulsive noise over a given day, and no more than 10% over a year. These underwater noise pollution limits deliver on the Zero Pollution Action Plan and are the first of this kind at global level. The threshold values will contribute to set limits on where and for how long marine habitats can be exposed to underwater noise. Impulsive underwater noise, such as from oil and gas exploration, occurs in about 8 % of the EU’s seas: it is particularly present in large areas of the Baltic, North and Celtic Seas, and the Mediterranean area. Maritime traffic is the main source of continuous underwater noise. With 27% of its area subject to shipping, the Mediterranean Sea sees the highest shipping traffic in the EU. This is followed by the Baltic Sea (19 % of the area). Overall, only 9% of the EU’s sea area has no shipping traffic. EU Member States will now need to take these threshold values into account when they update their marine strategies.

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How the Korean Concept of “Han” Teaches Solidarity
2022-08-04, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/opinion/2022/08/04/korean-concept-han-solidarity-...

At the heart of the Korean spirit is a concept called “Han.” I define Han as “irreparable sorrow.” A more accurate definition might be achieved by describing how Han expresses itself—through storytelling, song, poetry, prayer. It is the language of humanity. Suh Nam-Dong, one of the founders of Korean minjung liberation theology, described Han as “a feeling of unresolved resentment against injustices suffered, a sense of helplessness because of the overwhelming odds against one, a feeling of acute pain in one’s guts and bowels, making the whole body writhe and squirm, and an obstinate urge to take revenge and to right the wrong—all these combined.” What is omitted from such definitions, though, is the very quality that makes Han transcendent; that is, the poeticization of these profound feelings of grief and loss. It gives us a common song. That is why the African American tradition of blues serves as a great model for resilience—joy, even—in the face of unimaginable adversity. It is all the sorrows of the world experienced in communion with others. Communion and fellowship are what will get us through, no matter what the bastards do. I also think of my Quaker grandmother, Elinor Ashkenazy, who helped organize the peace boat, the Golden Rule, in the 1950s. The tiny ketch first set sail across the Pacific in 1958 with the intention of stopping the U.S. from dropping atomic bombs on the Marshall Islands. Its story was another kind of prayer, another kind of poetry—and the inspiration for the founding of Greenpeace and many other peace projects.

Note: This article was written by respected journalist and environmental activist Koohan Paik-Mander. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


India’s ‘Open Prisons’ Are a Marvel of Trust-Based Incarceration
2022-05-12, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/india-open-prisons-escape-trust/

Though the people held at Sanganer open prison are technically incarcerated, they can leave the facility during the day and travel within the city limits. Almost immediately upon his arrival, Arjiram’s sense of self-worth grew. “It didn’t feel like I was in a prison,” he says. “I could go out and work and come back, and the best thing was they trusted me.” After being faceless and nameless for over a decade, he felt like a person again. According to the country’s National Crime Records Bureau, there are about 88 open prisons in India, the largest share of which are in the state of Rajasthan, where the model is being pioneered. India’s open prisons are defined by minimal security. They are run and maintained by the state, and those incarcerated within them are free to come and go as they please. At Sanganer, the prison is open for up to 12 hours each day. Every evening, prisoners must return to be counted at an end-of-day roll call. Designed to foster reform as opposed to punishment, the system is based on the premise that trust is contagious. It assumes — and encourages — self-discipline on the part of the prisoners. Letting incarcerated folks go to work also allows them to earn money for themselves and their families, build skills, and maintain contacts in the outside world that can help them once they’re released. In addition to allowing inmates to support themselves, open prisons require far less staff, and their operating costs are a fraction of those in closed prisons.

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Rwanda genocide: 'I forgave my husband's killer - our children married'
2022-04-23, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-61105532

To heal you must love - so believes a woman who not only forgave the man who killed her husband 28 years ago during Rwanda's genocide, but allowed his daughter to marry her son. Bernadette Mukakabera has been telling her story as part of continuing efforts by the Catholic Church to bring reconciliation to a society torn apart in 1994 when some 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days. "Our children had nothing to do with what happened. They just fell in love and nothing should stop people from loving each other," Bernadette told the BBC. [In 1994] thousands of Hutus ... began well organised killings - turning on their Tutsi neighbours. One of these was Gratien Nyaminani, whose family lived next to Bernadette's. After the massacres ended, with a Tutsi rebel group taking power, hundreds of thousands of people accused of involvement in the killings were detained. Gratien was taken into custody and eventually tried by one of the community courts, known as gacaca, set up to deal with genocide suspects. At these weekly hearings, communities were given a chance to face the accused and both hear and give evidence about what really happened - and how it happened. The final reconciliation happens in public where the accused and the victim stand together. The victim stretches their hands towards the accused as a sign of forgiveness. In 2004, Gratien told Bernadette how he had killed her husband and apologised - and at the same hearing she chose to forgive him. This meant that he did not have to serve a 19-year jail term, but a two-year community service sentence instead.

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Mushrooms communicate with each other using up to 50 ‘words’, scientist claims
2022-04-05, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/apr/06/fungi-electrical-impulses-hum...

Mathematical analysis of the electrical signals fungi seemingly send to one another has identified patterns that bear a striking structural similarity to human speech. Previous research has suggested that fungi conduct electrical impulses through long, underground filamentous structures called hyphae – similar to how nerve cells transmit information in humans. It has even shown that the firing rate of these impulses increases when the hyphae of wood-digesting fungi come into contact with wooden blocks, raising the possibility that fungi use this electrical “language” to share information about food or injury with distant parts of themselves, or with hyphae-connected partners such as trees. Prof Andrew Adamatzky at the University of the West of England’s unconventional computing laboratory in Bristol analysed the patterns of electrical spikes generated by four species of fungi – enoki, split gill, ghost and caterpillar fungi. The research, published in Royal Society Open Science, found that these spikes often clustered into trains of activity, resembling vocabularies of up to 50 words, and that the distribution of these “fungal word lengths” closely matched those of human languages. The most likely reasons for these waves of electrical activity are to maintain the fungi’s integrity – analogous to wolves howling to maintain the integrity of the pack – or to report newly discovered sources of attractants and repellants to other parts of their mycelia, Adamtzky suggested.

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A Monthly Ritual of Selflessness Has Transformed Rwanda
2021-12-06, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/umuganda-rwanda-community-improvement-proje...

Luc, along with just about every able-bodied Rwandan aged 18 to 65, participates in the monthly activity known as “Umuganda,” a Kinyarwanda word that means “coming together in common purpose.” On the last Saturday of every month, from 8 to 11 a.m., Rwandans across the country gather together to partake in community improvement projects. In Luc’s neighborhood, this has meant trimming back bushes that attract malaria-spreading mosquitoes, and making sure roads are clear. According to Luc, these monthly gatherings have helped his community recover from a long, devastating period of genocide, making it clean, innovative, loving and self-reliant. Across the country ... the tradition of Umuganda has unfolded in similar fashion, helping Rwanda to piece itself back together and recover from ruin. Though Umuganda is a national phenomenon, the mobilization of it takes place at the community level — specifically, in “cells” of at least 50 households called Umudugudu. Spearheaded by a community leader, members of a cell often use the mobile messaging service WhatsApp to work out the logistics. This small-scale organizational structure is key to making Umuganda work. Luc thinks Umuganda has value beyond the projects themselves, promoting self-reliance among Rwandans. “When you see something wrong within your surroundings, you do not wait for someone else to come and do it for you, you just go for it and do it,” he says. “Do Umuganda. Solve the problem yourselves.”

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From Bayanihan to Talkoot: Communal work practices from around the world
2021-05-18, Shareable
https://www.shareable.net/from-bayanihan-to-talkoot-communal-work-practices-f...

Communal work refers to a collaborative effort where members of a community come together to achieve a common goal or objective. Different cultures have different names for it, such as Talkoot (Finland), Gotong-royong (Indonesia), Nachbarschaftshilfe (Germany), and Bayanihan in the Philippines. During the eruption of the Taal volcano in the Philippines, the traditional support networks known as Bayanihan came into effect not as a temporary solution to the disaster but as an innate response that Filipinos have in both good times and bad. A response that may have its root in their concept of the “shared self” or Kapwa. Unlike the English word ‘Other’, Kapwa is not used in opposition to the self and does not recognize the self as a separate identity. Rather, Kapwa is the unity of self and others and hence implies a shared identity or inner self. From this arises the sense of fellow being that underlies Filipino social interaction. Not only is it socially beneficial, but also the act of completing the task with others is infinitely rewarding. In the book “Shop Class as Soulcraft,” Matthew Crawford writes: “The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on.”

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Developer Of Aluminum-Ion Battery Claims It Charges 60 Times Faster Than Lithium-Ion, Offering EV Range Breakthrough
2021-05-13, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltaylor/2021/05/13/ev-range-breakthrough-a...

Range anxiety, recycling and fast-charging fears could all be consigned to electric-vehicle history with a nanotech-driven Australian battery invention. The graphene aluminum-ion battery cells from the Brisbane-based Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) are claimed to charge up to 60 times faster than the best lithium-ion cells and hold three times the energy of the best aluminum-based cells. They are also safer, with no upper Ampere limit to cause spontaneous overheating, more sustainable and easier to recycle, thanks to their stable base materials. Testing also shows the coin-cell validation batteries also last three times longer than lithium-ion versions. GMG plans to bring graphene aluminum-ion coin cells to market late this year or early next year. Based on breakthrough technology from the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the battery cells use nanotechnology to insert aluminum atoms inside tiny perforations in graphene planes. GMG Managing Director Craig Nicol insisted that while his company’s cells were not the only graphene aluminum-ion cells under development, they were easily the strongest, most reliable and fastest charging. “It charges so fast it’s basically a super capacitor,” Nicol claimed. “It charges a coin cell in less than 10 seconds.” The new battery cells are claimed to deliver far more power density than current lithium-ion batteries, without the cooling, heating or rare-earth problems they face.

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‘It’s like a place of healing’: the growth of America’s food forests
2021-05-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/08/its-like-a-place-of-heali...

America’s biggest “food forest” is just a short drive from the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson. When the Guardian visits the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill there are around a dozen volunteers working. Food forests are part of the broader food justice and urban agriculture movement and are distinct from community gardens in various ways. They are typically backed by grants rather than renting plots, usually rely on volunteers and incorporate a land management approach that has a focus on growing perennials. The schemes vary in how they operate in allocating food ... but they are all aimed at boosting food access. Organizers in Atlanta stress that they properly distribute the food to the neighborhoods that the food forest is intended to support and it’s not open to the public beyond volunteer workers. Other schemes have areas where the public is free to take what they want. Celeste Lomax, who manages community engagement at the Brown Mills forest and lives in the neighborhood, believes education is key to the forest’s success and beams like sunlight when sharing her vision for the fertile soil she tends. “We’re using this space for more than just growing food. We have composting, beehives, bat boxes, and this beautiful herb garden where we’re teaching people how to heal themselves with the foods we eat. We’ll be doing walkthrough retreats and outside yoga. This is a health and wellness place. It’s so much more than just free food.”

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These Kids Are Learning How to Have Bipartisan Conversations
2018-12-04, Greater Good
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/these_kids_are_learning_how_to_...

Dozens of high schoolers and their teachers are flowing into the University of Southern Californias Galen Center, dressed in their debating best and bantering in various languages. All of these students are members of the Junior State of America (JSA), and theyre used to spirited exchanges about government. But theyre here today to practice a different diplomatic skill: having thoughtful conversations across political boundaries. People say, When I try to have these kinds of conversations, they go really badly, [workshop leader Brooke] Deterline says. Such verbal blowouts often breed simmering resentment and fracture relationships. Deterline wants to teach people how to cultivate compassion for others even when they dont agree with them, which she sees as necessary for a divided country to find a shared vision for its future. From the start, Deterline makes clear that what shes about to teach is the conversational equivalent of tai chia philosophy focused on holding back, not charging forward. I used to think courage was giving somebody a piece of my mind, she tells the students. Its acting with an open heart in the face of conflict. It is a choice, and it also is a muscle. What often shuts down conversations across the political aisle, she explains, is when our brains go into what she calls the red zone. When were stressed, our natural compassion is cut off, she says. Deterlines core message is that when you notice your brain heading into the red zone, you can take steps to divert its course.

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In Italy, how one cooperative is trying to counter the Mafias influence
2018-06-20, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2018/0620/In-Italy-how-on...

The first time Simmaco Perillo arrived in the Italian hamlet of Maiano di Sessa Aurunca, everything around him was abandoned. It was 2005, and nobody wanted to cultivate former Mafia land. We wanted to make a farm for the reintegration of disadvantaged people, says Mr. Perillo. Today, the social cooperative Al di l dei sogni, or Beyond the Dreams, is making pasta and growing organic vegetables on land that once belonged to the powerful Camorra Mafia. The cooperative [works] with ... those recovering from addiction, former prisoners, and people who were released from public mental hospitals, to provide sustainable livelihoods and combat the influence of the Mafia. Perillo and others in the cooperative ... were able to [acquire the land] thanks to national law 109/96, passed in 1996, which permits the social reuse of property confiscated from the criminal organizations. The cooperative was granted the land, but threats and attacks were not long in coming. After the keys were handed to us, they [Mafia gangsters] arrived at night. They pulled down walls, broke through the windows, severed the electrical system, destroyed the plumbing. So we decided to sleep inside to guard the property, Perillo recalls with a proud smile. Despite the setting of several intimidating fires, among other tactics, the cooperative was able to set up a sustainable business. Today 32 people are members of the cooperative, and more than half are disadvantaged people.

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Homeboy Humility: Growing Stronger And Better By Listening
2017-12-21, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbaldoni/2017/12/21/homeboy-humility-growing-...

If you want to help, you first need to listen. That is a philosophy that Father Greg Boyle, S.J., founder of Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles, employs. If you're humble, you'll ask the poor, what would help you? But if you're led by hubris, then you tell the poor, here's what your problem is; here's how you fix yourself. Homeboy Industries was founded more than 30 years ago as a means of providing employment to gang members in East LA. Few businesses would hire ex-gang members so Fr. Greg, Jesuit pastor of the Dolores Mission the poorest mission in the LA archdiocese, created a business to provide those jobs. Today Homeboy serves not just the neighborhood but all of Los Angeles County with its restaurants, coffee shops, bakery and even a tattoo removal clinic. Homeboy has ... listened to the formerly gang-involved. It asks the question: what can we do that is concretely helpful? Fr. Greg [said] on NPRs Fresh Air. No one likes to be told how to get better; they want to participate in the process. That begins with conversation, a discovery of what the other is feeling and how he or she can help in his own improvement. Often the best answers come from the people you serve, as it does with Homeboy Industries. Its tattoo removal clinic came about because ex-gang members wanted to remove tattoos no longer relevant to their current lives, and which in some instances may prevent them from getting hired. Removing a tattoo is a long and painful process but it can serve as a kind of rebirth.

Note: Watch an inspiring video on this program which has transformed the lives of thousands of gang members. Readers interested in learning more about Father Greg Boyle and his work can check out his new memoir, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship.


Former enemies share samba in Colombia's 'Dancing with the Stars'
2016-01-15, Christian Science Monitor/Reuters
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2016/0115/For...

Colombia's version of the hit TV contest "Dancing with the Stars" hopes to show millions of viewers that former battlefield enemies can live side by side. John Pinchao, a policeman held captive in a jungle camp, often in chains, by rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) until he escaped in 2007, is now sharing the dance floor with ex-FARC child soldier Ana Pacheco, who joined the rebel group aged 14. The prime-time show comes at a time when the three-year-old peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC are approaching the goal the two sides have set of signing an accord by March 23. If successful, this would end half a century of war that has killed 220,000 people and displaced 6.5 million, and would lead to some 7,000 FARC fighters handing in their weapons. As the March deadline for signing a peace deal looms, Colombians are considering to what extent they are ready to forgive FARC and accept former combatants back into society. For Pacheco, who left the rebel ranks when she was 16, the TV show is an opportunity to show the human face of former fighters. The producers of the TV show ... hope the unexpected line-up can foster empathy among Colombians with people who suffered during the years of conflict. "We want the show to awaken solidarity. We weren't just looking for great dancers and celebrities, what inspired us was to show the reality that faces Colombia, it's about living together," said Fox Colombia executive producer Oscar Guarin.

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Germany is turning 62 military bases into wildlife sanctuaries
2015-06-19, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/germany-is-turning-62-militar...

The German government has announced plans to convert 62 disused military bases just west of the Iron Curtain into nature reserves for eagles, woodpeckers, bats, and beetles. Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said: "We are seizing a historic opportunity with this conversion many areas that were once no-go zones are no longer needed for military purposes. We are fortunate that we can now give these places back to nature." Together the bases are 31,000 hectares that's equivalent to 40,000 football pitches. The conversion will see Germany's total area of protected wildlife increase by a quarter. After toying with the idea of selling the land off as real estate, the government opted instead to make a grand environmental gesture. It will become another addition to what is now known as the European Green Belt. A spokesperson from The European Green Belt told The Independent: "In the remoteness of the inhuman border fortifications of the Iron Curtain nature was able to develop nearly undisturbed. "Today the European Green Belt is an ecological network and memorial landscape running from the Barents to the Black Sea."

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We need regenerative farming, not geoengineering
2015-03-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/mar/09/we-need-regenera...

Geoengineering is a technological fix that leaves the economic and industrial system causing climate change untouched. The mindset behind geoengineering stands in sharp contrast to an emerging ecological, systems approach taking shape in the form of regenerative agriculture. More than a mere alternative strategy, regenerative agriculture represents a fundamental shift in our culture’s relationship to nature. Regenerative agriculture comprises an array of techniques that rebuild soil and, in the process, sequester carbon. Typically, it uses cover crops and perennials so that bare soil is never exposed, and grazes animals in ways that mimic animals in nature. It also offers ecological benefits far beyond carbon storage: it stops soil erosion, remineralises soil, protects the purity of groundwater and reduces damaging pesticide and fertiliser runoff. Yields from regenerative methods often exceed conventional yields. Likewise, since these methods build soil, crowd out weeds and retain moisture, fertiliser and herbicide inputs can be reduced or eliminated entirely, resulting in higher profits for farmers. No-till methods can sequester as much as a ton of carbon per acre annually. In the US alone, that could amount to nearly a quarter of current emissions. Ultimately, climate change challenges us to rethink our long-standing separation from nature. It is time to fall in love with the land, the soil, and the trees, to halt their destruction and to serve their restoration.

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Homeboy Industries' business model: A way out of gang life
2013-09-05, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/us/gang-rehabilitation-program/index.html

There are few people who can say their job saved them, but former gang member Rafael Jimenez says he's one of them. "If I wasn't working here I'd be on the streets looking for problems or, even worse, selling drugs," Jimenez told CNN en Espaol. The 44-year-old works as a baker at Homeboy Bakery, part of Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles, the largest gang rehabilitation program in the country. The program was founded in 1992 by Father Greg Boyle, who has counseled and mentored thousands of gang members. This month marks Jimenez's one-year anniversary of getting off of drugs and out of the 4th Street Flats gang in East L.A. "I knew if I kept going at it, I would be dead or in jail. I can't believe I wasted all that time," Jimenez said. "And, now I'm baking pastries with rivals that I would've never spoken to just last year." Homeboy Industries' program has been so successful that other gang rehabilitation programs around the country are now looking to them as a model. Ex-gang member Mario Lundes, weary of being in and out of jail, decided to make a positive change and seek out a regular job. But extensive tattoo removal from his forehead, cheeks and neck -- a service Homeboy Industries offers -- would be a vital part of the process. Homeboy Industries has helped thousands of high-risk youths with a variety of free programs: mental health counseling, GED classes, job training and legal services. The program's motto: "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."

Note: Watch an inspiring video on this program which has transformed the lives of thousands of gang members.


The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker review
2012-11-19, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/nov/19/better-angels-nature-steven-p...

The Better Angels of Our Nature takes a thesis I would love to believe; indeed, have casually believed for most of my life. It is that humans have grown less horrible with time. The 20th century, the century of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot, of Mao in China and Mobutu in the Congo, was appalling, but the number of deaths by violence as a proportion of the total population remained modest compared with the ferocious cruelties of the wars of religion in the 17th century. The modern nation state the Leviathan of the philosopher Hobbes has had a civilising effect almost everywhere. Education has helped, as has the empowerment of women, and the idea, too, of human rights. Within the epic sweep of history from ice age hunter gatherers to modern suburban householders, [author Steven] Pinker examines both the big picture and the fine detail, with surprises on every page. Overall ... he finds examples of falling murder rates everywhere (including among male English aristocrats 1330-1829). Murder rates as a percentage of population were far higher among the supposedly peace-loving and cooperative hunter-gatherer communities the Inuit of the Arctic, for instance, the !Kung of the Kalahari and the Semai of Malaysia than in the trigger-happy US in its most violent decade. Unexpectedly, deaths in warfare, once again as a percentage of total population, were far higher among the Gran Valley Dani of New Guinea, or in Fiji in the 1860s, than in Germany in the whole of the 20th century.

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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 Irans 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. Im not afraid of you. I dont hate you. I dont 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.


Violence Vanquished
2011-09-24, Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424053111904106704576583203589408180

Evidence of our bloody history is not hard to find. Consider the genocides in the Old Testament and the crucifictions in the New, the gory mutilations in Shakespeare's tragedies and Grimm's fairy tales, the British monarchs who beheaded their relatives and the American founders who dueled with their rivals. Today, the decline in these brutal practices can be quantified. A look at the numbers shows that over the course of our history, humanity has been blessed with ... major declines of violence. The first was a process of pacification: the transition from the anarchy of the hunting, gathering, and horticultural societies in which our species spent most of its evolutionary history to the first agricultural civilizations, with cities and governments, starting about 5,000 years ago. On average, about 15% of people in prestate eras died violently, compared to about 3% of the citizens of the earliest states. Centuries ago, the great powers were almost always at war, and until quite recently. Western European countries tended to initiate two or three new wars every year. The cliche that the 20th century was "the most violent in history" ignores the second half of the century. Though it's tempting to attribute the Long Peace to nuclear deterrence, non-nuclear developed states have stopped fighting each other as well. Political scientists point instead to the growth of democracy, trade and international organizations - all of which, the statistical evidence shows, reduce the liklihood of conflict.

Note: The WSJ requires a subscription to read this article. You can find it free on the website of the author, Steven Pinker. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Croatian teenager wakes from coma speaking fluent German
2010-04-12, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/croatia/7583971/Croatian-tee...

A 13-year-old Croatian girl who fell into a coma woke up speaking fluent German. The girl, from the southern town of Knin, had only just started studying German at school and had been reading German books and watching German TV to become better, but was by no means fluent, according to her parents. Since waking up from her 24-hour coma however, she has been unable to speak Croatian, but is able to communicate perfectly in German. Doctors at Split's KB Hospital claim that the case is so unusual, various experts have examined the girl as they try to find out what triggered the change. Hospital director Dujomir Marasovic said: "You never know when recovering from such a trauma how the brain will react." Psychiatric expert Dr Mijo Milas added: "In earlier times this would have been referred to as a miracle, we prefer to think that there must be a logical explanation its just that we haven't found it yet. There are references to cases where people who have been seriously ill and perhaps in a coma have woken up being able to speak other languages sometimes even the Biblical languages such as that spoken in old Babylon or Egypt at the moment though any speculation would remain just that speculation so it's better to continue tests until we actually know something."


Rapper Logic's
2021-12-15, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/logic-1-800-273-8255-song-suicide-prevention/

Four years ago, rapper Logic released his hit song "1-800-273-8255" — a reference to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — in hopes of helping others. A new study released this week found it did just that: researchers say the song potentially helped saved hundreds of lives. The study, published Monday in the BMJ, found almost 10,000 calls went to the Lifeline — a 6.9% increase over the expected number — during 34 days in 2017 and 2018 when the song was receiving heightened public attention. And an estimated 245 fewer suicides took place in that same time period — 5.5% below the expected number. The study authors' looked at the days immediately following the song's release, Logic's performance at the 2017 MTV Awards with singers Alessia Cara and Khalid, and their act at the 2018 Grammys. According to the research, those events were also linked to a surge of activity connected to the song on Twitter. "To know that my music was actually affecting people's lives, truly, that's what inspired me to make the song," Logic said in a statement to CNN. "We did it from a really warm place in our hearts to try to help people. And the fact that it actually did, that blows my mind." The song centers around a high school student struggling with his sexuality and contemplating suicide. However, after a call to a hotline, he realizes he wants to live. The song went quintuple platinum and remained Logic's best performing song on Spotify.

Note: Watch this inspiring song which has been viewed over 400 million times at this link. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Secrets of a tree whisperer: ‘They get along, they listen – they’re attuned’
2021-04-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/24/suzanne-simard-finding-th...

When Suzanne Simard made her extraordinary discovery – that trees could communicate and cooperate through subterranean networks of fungi – the scientific establishment underreacted. Even though her doctoral research was published in the Nature journal in 1997 ... the finding that trees are more altruistic than competitive was dismissed by many. Today, at 60, she is professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia and her research of more than three decades as a “forest detective” is recognised worldwide. In her new book, Finding the Mother Tree – a scientific memoir as gripping as any HBO drama series – she wants it understood that her work has been no brief encounter: “I want people to know that what I’ve discovered has been about my whole life.” Would she go as far as to suggest a tree can feel pain or grief? “I don’t know. Trees don’t have a brain, but the network in the soil is a neural network and the chemicals that move through it are the same as our neural transmitters.” She is currently collaborating on research to see whether trees can distinguish us as humans. She laments our lack of vocabulary for communication between trees and adds: “Western Canada’s aboriginal people have known about the connection between trees for a long time.” But she believes we can learn from the way trees interact: “Some trees have lived for thousands of years. They get along, develop sophisticated relationships and listen – they’re attuned. Attunement is something we all need too.”

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Baltimore will no longer prosecute drug possession, prostitution and other low-level offenses
2021-03-27, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/27/us/baltimore-prosecute-prostitution-drug-posse...

Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby says the city will no longer prosecute for prostitution, drug possession and other low-level offenses. Mosby made the announcement on Friday following her office's one-year experiment in not prosecuting minor offenses to decrease the spread of Covid-19 behind bars. "Today, America's war on drug users is over in the city of Baltimore. We leave behind the era of tough-on-crime prosecution and zero tolerance policing and no longer default to the status quo to criminalize mostly people of color for addiction, said Mosby. The experiment, known as The Covid Criminal Justice Policies, is an approach to crime developed with public health authorities. Instead of prosecuting people arrested for minor crimes ... the program dealt with those crimes as public health issues and work with community partners to help find solutions. The program has led to decreases in the overall incarcerated Baltimore population by 18%. Violent and property crimes are down 20% and 36% respectively. Mosby said her office will no longer prosecute the following offenses: drug and drug paraphernalia possession, prostitution, trespassing, minor traffic offense, open container violations, and urinating and defecating in public. The state's attorney's office is also working with the Baltimore Police Department and Baltimore Crisis Response Inc. (BCRI), a crisis center dealing with mental health and substance abuse issue, to offer services instead of arresting individuals.

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


US report: Bald eagle populations soar in lower 48 states
2021-03-24, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated press
https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/US-report-Bald-eagle-populations-soar-in-...

The number of American bald eagles has quadrupled since 2009, with more than 300,000 birds soaring over the lower 48 states, government scientists said in a report Wednesday. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said bald eagles, the national symbol that once teetered on the brink of extinction, have flourished in recent years, growing to more than 71,400 nesting pairs and an estimated 316,700 individual birds. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, in her first public appearance since being sworn in last week, hailed the eagle's recovery. “The strong return of this treasured bird reminds us of our nation’s shared resilience and the importance of being responsible stewards of our lands and waters that bind us together,'' said Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet secretary. Bald eagles reached an all-time low of 417 known nesting pairs in 1963 in the lower 48 states. But after decades of protection, including banning the pesticide DDT and placement of the eagle on the endangered species list in more than 40 states, the bald eagle population has continued to grow. The bald eagle was removed from the list of threatened or endangered species in 2007. The celebration of the bald eagle “is also a moment to reflect on the importance of the Endangered Species Act, a vital tool in the efforts to protect America’s wildlife,'' Haaland said, calling the landmark 1973 law crucial to preventing the extinction of species such as the bald eagle or American bison.

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The civil rights leader almost nobody knows about gets a statue in the U.S. Capitol
2019-09-20, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/09/20/civil-rights-leader-almost-...

Standing Bear was born sometime between 1829 and 1834 in the Ponca tribes native lands in northern Nebraska. In 1876 ... Congress declared that the Poncas would be moved to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. More than a third of the Poncas died of starvation and disease including Standing Bears sister and his beloved son. Standing Bear and his burial party evaded capture while they traveled home but were caught and detained after visiting relatives at the Omaha reservation. The man who caught them, Brig. Gen. George Crook ... was moved by Standing Bears reasons for leaving the Indian Territory and promised to help him. The civil rights case that resulted was called Standing Bear v. Crook. The U.S. attorney argued that Standing Bear was neither a citizen nor a person. On the second day, Chief Standing Bear was called to testify, becoming the first Native American to do so. He raised his right hand and, through an interpreter, said: My hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. The same god made us both. I am a man. The judge agreed, ruling for the first time in U.S. history that the Indian is a person and has all the rights and freedoms promised in the Constitution. The judge also ordered Crook to free Standing Bear and his people immediately. Standing Bear ... buried his son alongside his ancestors. When he died there in 1908, he was buried alongside them, too.

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16 years ago a judge gave a young trafficker a second chance. Today he returned to court to become a lawyer
2021-06-01, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfgate.com/business/article/16-years-ago-a-judge-gave-a-young-tra...

When Edward Martell went to court in 2005 to plead guilty to selling and manufacturing crack, he thought his life was over. However, Bruce Morrow, a Michigan judge decided to give him a second chance. Martell, then 27, had had several run-ins with the law until he was arrested in a counternarcotics operation. When he pleaded guilty to selling and manufacturing crack, he knew he could face 20 years in jail. Judge Morrow saw young Martell and understood the circumstances that had led the young man to life in crime. So he gave him a three-year probation sentence and a challenge: to return to that same court with an achievement. Last week ... Edward returned to the same courthouse as Bruce Morrow, but this time to fulfill his promise: to be sworn in as a lawyer in the same courtroom where he pleaded guilty. "It was kind of a joke, but [Edward] understood that I believed he could be whatever he wanted," Judge Morrow [said]. After his first meeting with the magistrate, Edward earned a high school degree and then a scholarship to study law. He always kept in touch with the judge who had inspired him. Martell underwent a strict background check in order to join the Michigan Bar Association, but the board determined that his past should not determine his future. That's how Martell, now 43, returned to court to become a lawyer. That is the power of mentoring.

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


U.S. cancer death rate sees largest-ever single-year drop
2020-01-08, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cancer-death-rate-sees-largest-ever-single-year-...

The death rate from cancer in the United States saw the largest ever single-year decline between 2016 and 2017 since rates began declining in 1992, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society. [A] deceleration in lung cancer deaths spurred an overall drop in cancer mortality of 2.2% from 2016 to 2017, according to the report. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, accounting for about 27% of all cancer deaths more than breast, prostate, colorectal, and brain cancers combined. Lung cancer is also the most common cause of death due to cancer among men age 40 and older and women age 60 and older. The decline in mortality from melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, was also dramatic. Dr. William Cance, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, attributed [decreased] mortality from lung cancer and melanoma to treatment advances made in the past 10 years. "They are a profound reminder of how rapidly this area of research is expanding, and now leading to real hope for cancer patients," Cance said. As of 2017, cancer deaths have dropped 29% from 1992 numbers meaning an estimated 2,902,200 fewer cancer deaths, according to the ACS report. "This steady progress is largely due to reductions in smoking and subsequent declines in lung cancer mortality, which have accelerated in recent years," reads the report.

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


Cells of people living in greener areas age more slowly, research finds
2023-12-02, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/dec/02/green-space-ageing-neighborhood

Many studies have shown that people living in greener neighborhoods have several health benefits, including lower levels of stress and cardiovascular disease. But new research indicates that exposure to parks, trees and other green spaces can slow the rates at which our cells age. The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that people who lived in neighborhoods with more green space had longer telomeres, which are associated with longer lives and slower ageing. Telomeres are structures that sit on the ends of each cell’s 46 chromosomes, like the plastic caps on shoelaces, and keep DNA from unraveling. The longer a cell’s telomeres, the more times it can replicate. When telomeres become so short that cells can’t divide, the cells die. [Study co-author Aaron] Hipp and his colleagues looked at the medical records (that included measures of telomere lengths from biological samples) and survey responses from more than 7,800 people who participated in a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey conducted between 1999 and 2002. The researchers connected that information with census data to estimate the amount of green space in each person’s neighborhood. They found that a 5% increase in a neighborhood’s green space was associated with a 1% reduction in the ageing of cells. “The more green the area, the slower the cell ageing,” said Hipp.

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‘A treasure beneath our feet’: How the Dutch went down the toilet looking for heat
2023-11-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/nov/08/how-the-dutch-went-down-t...

Dutch sewage waste is being seen as a reliable heat source for millions of homes that the government wants to be unhooked from the country’s gas system by 2050. Lieven de Key, a housing corporation in Amsterdam, is planning what is believed to be the first sewer warmth project that will tap into a main district sewage pipe to warm 1,600 existing social and student homes. “We have a photo of the street covered with snow, and the manhole covers all without snow,” says Jeroen Rademaker, the project leader. “Even when there’s snow in the winter, the sewer is warm. Warm sewage water flows 24 hours a day and we should capture it. This can happen wherever there is a big sewage pipe.” “The warmth comes from showers, the toilet, wastewater from washing, from the dishwasher, from the washing machine,” says Postuma. “Together it all gives, throughout the year, a temperature between 15 and 18 degrees. And we are going to make a bypass around the main sewer, put a heat exchanger around it and bring it to the houses in insulated pipes. We place it in an electric heat pump, and the water is heated up to 60 or 70C – medium temperature.” The heat exchanger transfers that source heat from the drain to a working fluid that can be transported to the buildings without needing to circulate the actual sewage waste. Then the blocks’ heat pumps, fired by solar energy, can amplify that heat in the opposite way to the workings of a refrigerator.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The Prison-to-Hollywood Pipeline Is the Stuff of Cinematic Dreams
2023-10-26, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/hollywood-jobs-film-tv-manifestworks/

ManifestWorks [is] a unique program that guides people from homelessness, incarceration and foster care directly into entry-level jobs in film and TV. “When I started the ManifestWorks program, it was more than just learning the steps. It was really therapeutic for me,” says Leslie. “It was uplifting during a time when I was really not in a good place.” By the third week of classes, Leslie had secured her first gig as a production assistant. The same person who hired her brought her back for the next two years and seeded additional relationships that led to more work. Today, Leslie works in a sound department as a union member, has consistent work at a living wage and has been able to upgrade both her housing and her car. The nonprofit ManifestWorks has more than 270 alumni currently working in the film industry, and purposely recruits its students from populations that face barriers to success. According to ManifestWorks, 25 percent of foster care youth end up incarcerated within two years of turning 18, and unemployment impacts the formerly incarcerated at a rate 12 times higher than the national average. Some 71 percent of ManifestWorks’ trainees are on welfare when they start the program — after a year, that number drops to seven percent on average. And 92 percent of ManifestWorks alumni are employed full time with an average annual income of $62,000, up from the average of $12,500 when trainees first start.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The scientists coaxing back nature with sound
2023-05-19, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230519-the-sound-recordings-used-to-coax...

Beyond human hearing, a cacophony of natural clicks, whistles and hums pass all around us, linking billions of living beings in networks of sound. Mother whales whisper to their young so predators can't hear them. Bees emit unique buzzing signals to distinguish threats from specific predators. Turtle embryos synchronise their collective moment of birth by making sounds through their shells. And unknown fish species buzz to one another in the depths – their very identities one of nature's countless sonic mysteries. What if tapping into these sounds could allow us to not only to learn more about the natural world, but actually help to begin healing it? An emerging appreciation for the biological importance of sound has led to new strategies for environmental conservation. From microscopic larvae lost at sea to birds that travel hundreds of miles from home, conservationists are now starting to use the sounds of nature to guide them back to where they belong. "Sound is so important," says Cheryl Tipp, curator of wildlife and environmental sound at the British Library. "In the natural world, it's used in mating displays, in territorial disputes, as alarm signals." For humans trying to support nature, meanwhile, sound can be used to identify new species, monitor populations and assess the health of ecosystems, she says. There is now a growing interest in the use of sound to accelerate habitat restoration itself, by coaxing certain species to certain locations using their very own sounds.

Note: Listen to a fascinating interview with biologist and innovation consultant Janine Benyus, who explores the power of biomimicry, a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies used by natural systems and species alive today. Benyus proposes that biomimicry can solve some of the gravest of societal and environmental problems by discovering how nature has already solved some of these challenges.


The Surprising Role of Blind Women in India's Health Care System
2023-05-18, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/blind-women-detect-breast-cancer-india/

On a sunny March morning in Bengaluru, Ayesha Banu and Noorunnisa walk up to the stage of Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology. Their white canes folded and held aside, they speak to a packed hall of students and teachers about their work as Medical Tactile Examiners (MTEs). "We assist doctors in detecting the early signs of breast cancer in women," Banu speaks into the mic. "Using the first two fingers of both hands, we examine women's breasts for abnormalities." She explains that blind women like herself and Noorunnisa are especially well-suited to this profession because of the "high tactile sense in our fingertips, which helps us find tiny lumps in the breast." Tactile breast examinations, or TBEs, are clinical breast examinations specially designed for blind women trained as MTEs. Employing MTEs for routine breast cancer screening – and reaching women in their communities and workplaces – could help in the early detection of cancer and save lives, says Dr. Poovamma CU, the breast specialist under whom Banu and Noorunnisa work. Studies prove that in the absence of sight, blind people's brains can develop a heightened sense of touch, as well as hearing. Through the MTE training, a woman with vision impairment is able to empower another woman, by offering her preventive health care. In a recent Indian study where two MTEs conducted TBEs on 1,338 women, their success rate of detecting malignant cancers was over 78 percent, and the miss rate, only one percent.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles.


Pope Francis gives women right to vote in bishops’ meeting for first time
2023-04-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/27/pope-francis-gives-women-right-...

Pope Francis has decided to give women the right to vote at an upcoming meeting of bishops, an unprecedented change that reflects his hopes to give women greater decision-making responsibilities. Francis approved changes to the norms governing the Synod of Bishops, a Vatican body that gathers the world’s bishops together for periodic meetings, following decades of demands by women to have the right to vote. The Vatican on Wednesday published the modifications he approved, which emphasise his vision for the lay faithful taking on a greater role in church affairs that have long been left to clerics, bishops and cardinals. Ever since the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that modernized the church, popes have summoned the world’s bishops to Rome for a few weeks at a time to debate particular topics. At the end of the meetings, the bishops vote on specific proposals and put them to the pope, who then produces a document taking their views into account. Until now, the only people who could vote were men. But under the new changes, five religious sisters will join five priests as voting representatives for religious orders. In addition, Francis has decided to appoint 70 non-bishop members of the synod and has asked that half of them be women. They too will have a vote. The aim is also to include young people among these 70 non-bishop members, who will be proposed to the pope by regional blocs, with Francis making a final decision.

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These Black and White churches began worshiping together during the pandemic and haven’t stopped
2023-02-11, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2023/02/11/maryland-deal-island-churc...

Since 2020, three pastors who lead a combined seven churches on the Deal Island Peninsula have been worshiping together at a small beach on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore. The pastors, two White and one Black, are part of the United Methodist Church. A spur-of-the-moment idea to bring the faithful together during the pandemic has become a once-a-month gathering where hundreds of worshipers honk along to a boisterous service that offers a mix of polemics, politics and preaching. “There isn’t a better church than this one right here,” said Cathy Sikos, a retired Walmart worker who lives in nearby Dames Quarter. “It’s a true depiction of what a church should be. No fancy building. Just pure worship. It’s God’s place. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.” Martin Luther King Jr. famously called 11 o’clock on Sunday morning “America’s most segregated hour.” In many places, it still is. The three Church by the Bay pastors say they never set out to be an example of integration. They simply wanted to offer Communion to parishioners starved of that opportunity. After three months of virtual worships, the trio decided to offer a joint Communion at the beach for 30 minutes. The joint worship has introduced the parishioners to different styles and messages. The three pastors have no plans to stop the once-a-month service, showing unity even as the United Methodist Church is splitting over the national organization’s decision to allow same-sex marriages and ordain gay and lesbian clergy.

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Medical Debt Is Being Erased in Ohio and Illinois. Is Your Town Next?
2022-12-29, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/29/us/toledo-medical-debt-relief.html

In the next few weeks, tens of thousands of people in Cook County, Ill., will open their mailboxes to find a letter from the county government explaining that their medical debt has been paid off. Officials in New Orleans and Toledo, Ohio, are finalizing contracts so that tens of thousands of residents can receive a similar letter. In Pittsburgh on Dec. 19, the City Council approved a budget that would include $1 million for medical debt relief. More local governments are likely to follow as county executives and city councils embrace a new strategy to address the high cost of health care. They are partnering with RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that aims to abolish medical debt by buying it from hospitals, health systems and collections agencies at a steep discount. About 18 percent of Americans have medical debt that has been turned over to a third party for collection. Cook County plans to spend $12 million on medical debt relief and expects to erase debt for the first batch of beneficiaries by early January. In Lucas County, Ohio, and its largest city, Toledo, up to $240 million in medical debt could be paid off at a cost of $1.6 million. New Orleans is looking to spend $1.3 million to clear $130 million in medical debt. The $1 million in Pittsburgh's budget could wipe out $115 million in debt, officials said. These initiatives are all being funded by President Biden's trillion-dollar American Rescue Plan, which infused local governments with cash to spend on infrastructure, public services and economic relief programs.

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Can Listening to the Beatles Improve Your Memory? New Research Says Music Just Might Stir the Brain
2022-07-18, Northeastern University
https://news.northeastern.edu/2022/07/18/music-impact-memory-brain-pathways/

When Paul McCartney wrote “Get Back,” he never would have predicted how useful or relevant the song would become for music therapists. In new research, Psyche Loui, an associate professor of music ... found that for older adults who listened to some of their favorite music, including The Beatles, connectivity in the brain increased. Specifically, Loui—and her multi-disciplinary team ... discovered that music bridged the gap between the brain’s auditory system and reward system, the area that governs motivation. “There’s something about music that is this functional connectivity between the auditory and reward system, and that’s why music is so special and able to tap into these seemingly very general cognitive functions that are suddenly very engaged in folks with dementia who are hearing music,” said Loui. The original idea for this research came out of Loui’s own experiences playing music in nursing homes. She recalled how people who couldn’t finish a sentence or thought would suddenly harmonize and sing along to a song she was playing. “[Music] seems to engage the brain in this way that’s different than everything else,” Loui said. What the researchers found was striking: Music was essentially creating an auditory channel directly to the medial prefrontal cortex, the brain’s reward center. Music that was both familiar and well-liked tended to activate the auditory and reward areas more. The music that participants selected themselves provided an even stronger connection.

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From seawater to drinking water, with the push of a button
2022-04-28, MIT News
https://news.mit.edu/2022/portable-desalination-drinking-water-0428

MIT researchers have developed a portable desalination unit, weighing less than 10 kilograms, that can remove particles and salts to generate drinking water. The suitcase-sized device, which requires less power to operate than a cell phone charger, can also be driven by a small, portable solar panel, which can be purchased online for around $50. It automatically generates drinking water that exceeds World Health Organization quality standards. The technology is packaged into a user-friendly device that runs with the push of one button. Unlike other portable desalination units that require water to pass through filters, this device utilizes electrical power to remove particles from drinking water. Eliminating the need for replacement filters greatly reduces the long-term maintenance requirements. This could enable the unit to be deployed in remote and severely resource-limited areas, such as communities on small islands or aboard seafaring cargo ships. It could also be used to aid refugees fleeing natural disasters or by soldiers carrying out long-term military operations. “This is really the culmination of a 10-year journey that I and my group have been on. We worked for years on the physics behind individual desalination processes, but pushing all those advances into a box, building a system, and demonstrating it in the ocean, that was a really meaningful and rewarding experience for me,” says senior author Jongyoon Han, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of biological engineering.

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Magic Mushrooms May Be the Biggest Advance in Treating Depression Since Prozac
2021-09-22, Newsweek
https://www.newsweek.com/2021/10/01/magic-mushrooms-may-biggest-advance-treat...

For most of his adult life, Aaron Presley, age 34, felt like a husk of a person, a piece of "garbage." Then, all at once, the soul-crushing, depressive fog started to lift, and the most meaningful experience of his life began. The turning point for Presley came as he lay on a psychiatrist's couch at Johns Hopkins University. He had consumed a large dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient in what's more commonly known as magic mushrooms, and entered a state that could best be described as lucid dreaming. Visions of family and childhood triggered overwhelming and long-lost feelings of love, he says. Presley was one of 24 volunteers taking part in a small study aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of a combination of psychotherapy and this powerful mind-altering drug to treat depression—an approach that, should it win approval, could be the biggest advance in mental health since Prozac in the 1990s. Depression ... affects 320 million people around the world. Roughly one-third of those who seek treatment won't respond to verbal or conventional drug therapies. Magic-mushroom therapy is offering some hope for these hopeless cases. In the Hopkins study, published last year in JAMA Psychiatry, the therapy was four times more effective than traditional antidepressants. Two-thirds of participants showed a more-than 50-percent reduction in depression symptoms after one week; a month later, more than half were considered in remission, meaning they no longer qualified as being depressed.

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At an extraordinary Olympics, acts of kindness abound
2021-08-02, ABC News
https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/wireStory/extraordinary-olympics-acts-kindne...

A surfer jumping in to translate for the rival who’d just beaten him. High-jumping friends agreeing to share a gold medal rather than move to a tiebreaker. Two runners falling in a tangle of legs, then helping each other to the finish line. In an extraordinary Olympic Games where mental health has been front and center, acts of kindness are everywhere. The world’s most competitive athletes have been captured showing gentleness and warmth to one another — celebrating, pep-talking, wiping away one another’s tears of disappointment. Kanoa Igarashi of Japan was disappointed when he lost to Brazilian Italo Ferreira in their sport’s Olympic debut. Not only did he blow his shot at gold on the beach he grew up surfing, he was also being taunted online by racist Brazilian trolls. The Japanese-American surfer could have stewed in silence, but he instead deployed his knowledge of Portuguese, helping to translate a press conference question for Ferreira on the world stage. The crowd giggled hearing the cross-rival translation and an official thanked the silver medalist for the assist. “Yes, thank you, Kanoa,” said a beaming Ferreira, who is learning English. Days later, at the Olympic Stadium, Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar found themselves in a situation they'd talked about but never experienced — they were tied. Both high jumpers ... could have gone to a jump-off, but instead decided to share the gold. After they decided, Tamberi slapped Barshim’s hand and jumped into his arms.

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Two women chatted in a bathroom. They soon realized they were each a match for the other’s husband, who needed a kidney
2021-06-28, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/06/29/kidney-donate-transplant-...

Tia Wimbush and Susan Ellis have been co-workers for a decade, and while they didn’t know each other well, they learned two years ago that their spouses each needed a kidney transplant. Then ... something remarkable happened. The women saw each other in a restroom at work and started chatting as they washed their hands. They had a lot in common, both working in information technology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and dealing with the same medical stress at home. Neither was a match to be an organ donor for her own husband, and the transplant waiting lists are impossibly long. Wimbush casually asked Ellis what her husband’s blood type was. He’s type O, Ellis replied. Wimbush said her husband was type AB. The women paused for a moment and looked at each other. Then Wimbush realized they might have stumbled upon something that might help save both of their husbands’ lives. Wimbush thought she might be a match for Ellis’s husband, and — incredibly — she thought Ellis could be a match for her husband. Antibody tests revealed that each woman was an excellent match for the other’s spouse. So in March, seven months after that chance conversation, Wimbush donated one of her kidneys to Lance Ellis, 41, and Susan Ellis donated one of hers to Rodney Wimbush, 45. Both transplants done at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital went so well that the men have almost fully recovered and are going on weekend hikes with friends and family, Tia Wimbush said.

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Bunny, the dog that can "talk," starts asking existential questions
2021-05-09, Salon
https://www.salon.com/2021/05/09/are-dogs-becoming-self-aware-bunny-existenti...

When Bunny, TikTok's beloved talking Sheepadoodle, stared at herself in a mirror and asked "who this?" using her augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device's buttons, many believed she was having an existential crisis. Since then, the Internet-famous dog has seemingly only become more interested in her own — dare we say — sense of self. The canine Bunny, who has 6.5 million followers on TikTok, is one of nearly 2,600 dogs and 300 cats enrolled in a project called "They Can Talk." The study's aim is to understand if animals can communicate with humans through AAC systems. AAC systems, such as Bunny's giant labeled buttons that speak a single word when pressed, were originally designed to help humans with communication disorders. Yet they have been adapted to be used in language experiments with animals, such as the study Bunny is enrolled in, which is led by Federico Rossano, director of the Comparative Cognition Lab at the University of California–San Diego. In Rossano's study, participants receive instructions on how to set up their AAC buttons for their pets; generally, pets begin with easy words like "outside" and "play." Pet parents set up cameras to constantly monitor the animals when they are in front of their boards, data which is sent to the lab so that researchers examine what they say. Now, Bunny's followers have become obsessed with the notion that her language-learning is making her develop some kind of self-awareness.

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Don’t Underestimate the Power of Kindness at Work
2021-05-07, Harvard Business Review
https://hbr.org/2021/05/dont-underestimate-the-power-of-kindness-at-work

This past year, most management advice has focused on how to sustain productivity during the pandemic, yet the power of kindness has been largely overlooked. Practicing kindness by giving compliments and recognition has the power to transform our remote workplace. A commitment to be kind can bring many important benefits. First, and perhaps most obviously, practicing kindness will be immensely helpful to our colleagues. Being recognized at work helps reduce employee burnout and absenteeism, and improves employee well-being, Gallup finds year after year. Second, practicing kindness helps life feel more meaningful. For example, spending money on others and volunteering our time improves wellbeing, bringing happiness and a sense of meaning to life. Third, as we found in a new set of studies, giving compliments can make us even happier than receiving them. We paired up participants and asked them to write about themselves and then talk about themselves with each other. Next, we asked one of them to give an honest compliment about something they liked or respected about the other participant after listening to them. Consistently, we found that giving compliments actually made people happier than receiving them. When people receive an act of kindness, they pay it back, research shows — and not just to the same person, but often to someone entirely new. This leads to a culture of generosity. Simply knowing that one is appreciated can trigger the psychological benefits of kindness.

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How Food May Improve Your Mood
2021-05-06, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/well/eat/mental-health-food.html

As people across the globe grappled with higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety this past year, many turned to their favorite comfort foods. But ... the sugar-laden and high-fat foods we often crave when we are stressed or depressed, as comforting as they may seem, are the least likely to benefit our mental health. Instead, whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes and fermented foods like yogurt may be a better bet. Historically, nutrition research has focused largely on how the foods we eat affect our physical health, rather than our mental health. But ... a growing body of research has provided intriguing hints about the ways in which foods may affect our moods. A healthy diet promotes a healthy gut, which communicates with the brain through what is known as the gut-brain axis. Microbes in the gut produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate our mood and emotions, and the gut microbiome has been implicated in mental health outcomes. “The gut microbiome plays a shaping role in a variety of psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder,” a team of scientists wrote in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. “Mental health is complex,” said Dr. Jacka ... at Deakin University in Australia. “Eating a salad is not going to cure depression. But there’s a lot you can do to lift your mood and improve your mental health, and it can be as simple as increasing your intake of plants and healthy foods.”

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5% have had a near-death experience — and they say it made life worth living
2021-02-20, New York Post
https://nypost.com/article/five-percent-have-had-near-death-experiences-resea...

About fifty years ago, Dr. Bruce Greyson was eating pasta in the hospital cafeteria when his beeper went off. Greyson, a psychiatrist, was urgently needed in the ER to treat a college student who had overdosed. He called her name — “Holly” — and tried to rouse her. But she didn’t stir. The next morning, Greyson returned to work at the hospital. Holly stirred. “I remember you from last night,” she mumbled. “I saw you talking with Susan, sitting on the couch.” Suddenly Holly opened her eyes, looked Greyson in the face and added, “You were wearing a striped tie that had a red stain on it.” Greyson began studying these so-called near-death experiences (NDEs) from a scientific standpoint, collecting hundreds of stories from those who’ve had them. He discovered that ... many people who survive the jaws of death report strange out-of-body experiences. Since meeting Holly, Greyson has published hundreds of academic papers. His search for answers is chronicled in his new book “After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond.” Near-death experiences are fairly common. Some 10 percent to 20 percent of people who come close to death report them — about 5 percent of the population. So what is going on? Greyson, who grew up in a scientific household and is not religious, says he doesn’t know. “But I think the evidence overwhelmingly points to the physical body not being all that we are,” he says. “There seems to be something that is able to continue after the body dies.”

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An experiment in unity: Jews, Christians and Muslims mingle on shared campus
2020-10-20, Today
https://www.today.com/news/tri-faith-unites-jewish-muslims-christians-same-ca...

At a time when the nation feels more divided than ever, one unlikely group in Omaha, Nebraska, is trying to bring people together. The Tri-Faith Initiative is a unique experiment in unity, sprawling across 38 acres on the edge of the city, almost smack in the center of America. There's a synagogue, a mosque and a church — and on Saturday, Tri-Faith introduced a new interfaith center, the final piece of a plan that was years in the making. "Sometimes people assume that the fact that we've come together and that we're so connected means that we're trying to create a blended, homogeneous faith, and that is absolutely not what Tri-Faith is about," said Rabbi A. Brian Stoller. "It's like a neighborhood. And each neighborhood lives in its own house and has its own values and belief system." Their goal? To learn about the "religious other," and in turn, become more tolerant and less fearful. It's also not lost on ... any of the faith leaders that the opening of their interfaith center coincides with a time in history marked by shocking division. "What I perceive as an inability to see others' world views and respect their way of thinking and believing is a crisis in America, and reflects a spiritual illness in our society," Stoller said, adding that he thinks what he and the other faith leaders are doing is part of the "antidote to that illness." That mutual respect, they believe, begins with relationship building. "It is friendship, what we created here," said Imam Mohamad Jamal Daoudi.

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Could bartering become the new buying in a changed world?
2020-08-26, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200821-the-rise-of-bartering-in-a-chan...

Around the world, people have been turning to swapping, trading and bartering during the coronavirus pandemic, whether to do their bit for the local community, save money or simply source hard-to-find baking ingredients. With economic uncertainty looming and anxiety levels soaring, barter is becoming an emerging alternative solution to getting by – and staying busy. The increase in bartering is nowhere better exemplified than in Fiji. The country has a long tradition of barter, known as ‘veisa’ ... and Fijians have harnessed modern technology to connect even more people. “I knew that money would be tight to stretch out and even harder to come by. I asked myself what happens when there’s no more money? Barter was a natural solution to that,” says Marlene Dutta, who started the Barter for a Better Fiji group on 21 April. Its membership is just under 190,000 – more than 20% of Fiji’s population. Items changing hands have run the gamut – pigs for kayaks, a violin for a leather satchel and doughnuts for building bricks – but the most commonly requested items have been groceries and food. Bartering isn’t just for individuals looking for baking items or help with grocery shopping, however. Businesses are increasingly interested in joining barter exchanges, which have “doctors, lawyers, service companies, retailers – you name it”, says Ron Whitney, President of the US-based International Reciprocal Trade Association, a non-profit organisation founded in 1979 that promotes and advances modern trade and barter systems.

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The Rig is made for wheelchair users who wanna rough it
2020-08-17, New Atlas
https://newatlas.com/outdoors/the-rig-off-road-wheelchair/

Just because someone has limited mobility, does that mean they should be limited to traversing smooth pavement? Not according to husband-and-wife team Zack and Cambry Nelson, who are now marketing their off-road motorized "wheelchair." Known as The Rig and made mainly from bicycle parts, the vehicle was initially developed by Zack to help Cambry take part in their outdoor adventures. It features an aluminum frame with detachable bumpers, a padded adjustable seat, a 1,000-watt ebike motor linked to the rear axle by a chain drive, dual steering handles, front hydraulic disc brakes, plus 4-inch-wide fatbike tires on each of its four wheels. Front and rear independent suspension is an optional extra, as is a second lithium battery for added range. The whole thing measures 5 ft long by 32 inches wide by 41 in tall (1,524 by 812 by 1,041 mm), and tips the scales at a claimed 120 lb (54 kg) that's with the suspension package, and a single battery. One charge of that battery should reportedly be good for a range of 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 km), depending on usage and rider weight. And while it can't accommodate a second passenger in the back, it does have a cargo-mounting system that allows gear such as camping supplies, a cooler or a conventional wheelchair to be brought along for the ride. The Rig is now available for pre-order in a choice of seven frame colors, with prices starting at US$4,750. For reference, some other electric off-road wheelchairs we've seen are priced at $10,000 or more.

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'CAHOOTS': How Social Workers And Police Share Responsibilities In Eugene, Oregon
2020-06-10, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2020/06/10/874339977/cahoots-how-social-workers-and-polic...

You call 911, you generally get the police. It's a one-size-fits-all solution to a broad spectrum of problems from homelessness to mental illness to addiction. Protesters are urging cities to redirect some of their police budget to groups that specialize in treating those kinds of problems. Now we're going to look at one model that's been around for more than 30 years. In Eugene, Ore., a program called CAHOOTS is a collaboration between local police and a community service called the White Bird Clinic. Ben Brubaker is the clinic coordinator, and Ebony Morgan is a crisis worker. "The calls that come in to the police non-emergency number and/or through the 911 system, if they have a strong behavioral health component, if there are calls that do not seem to require law enforcement because they don't involve a legal issue or some kind of extreme threat of violence or risk to the person, the individual or others, then they will route those to our team - comprised of a medic and a crisis worker - that can go out and respond to the call," [said Brubaker]. "I think policing may have a place within this system, but I also think that it's over-utilized as an immediate response because it just comes with a risk," [said Morgan]. "It's a risk that crisis response teams that are unarmed don't come with. In 30 years, we've never had a serious injury or a death that our team was responsible for. Models like this can help people have support in their community and feel safer within their community."

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Why some police officers stood with protesters outraged over George Floyd's death
2020-06-01, ABC News
https://abcnews.go.com/US/police-officers-stood-protesters-outraged-george-fl...

As images of police officers in riot gear clashing with protesters in response to the death of George Floyd proliferated from across the country, a very different theme emerged from several cities. Instead of lining up in opposition to the protesters, some police officers joined them. "I never thought of anything else, to be honest," Camden County Police Chief Joseph Wysocki told ABC News. For Camden, New Jersey, a city that had long been known for high crime rates, the police demonstrating alongside protesters in an ultimately peaceful event was not just a one-day phenomenon, but the continuation of years of efforts to bridge ties with residents since 2013, when the county police department took over public safety from the city's police agency. "We were basically able to start a new beginning," Dan Keashen, communications director for Camden County, told ABC News. That new beginning included an emphasis on everyday community policing. "It's a community, and we're part of the community. It's not us policing the city; it's us, together," Wysocki said. When officials in Camden learned plans for a demonstration were coming together, the police were able to get involved and join in because of the community ties they had made. Following the protests on Saturday, images of Wysocki walking with demonstrators, holding a banner reading, "standing in solidarity," spread across social media. So, too, did images of police officers in Santa Cruz, California, Norfolk, Virginia, and other cities.

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In Italy, 'Suspended Shopping' Helps Those Facing Economic Hardship During Pandemic
2020-04-24, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/24/842891052/in...

In Italy, where the coronavirus has shuttered more than 2 million businesses and left 1 in every 2 workers without income, some Italians are putting a new twist on an old custom to help the needy and restart the economy. In Rome, the Piazza San Giovanni della Malva used to echo with the noise of crowded cafes and restaurants. Now, the only business open is a grocery shop, Er Cimotto. It's so small that social distancing forces customers to order through the window. On a recent morning, a shopper asks that 10 euros ($10.83) be added to her bill for what's called la spesa sospesa, "suspended shopping." The concept derives from the century-old Neapolitan tradition of "suspended coffee" when a customer in a cafe pays in advance for someone who can't afford it. Shop owner Michela Buccilli says suspended coffee has been replaced with suspended grocery shopping. "The customer who has something leaves something for those who don't," she says. The store usually doubles the amount donated and provides food that does not spoil fast such as pasta and canned goods to a local aid group, the Sant'Egidio Community, that distributes it to the needy. Buccilli says one customer wanted specifically to donate a kilo of oranges to a needy family, so Buccilli sent the aid group a crate of oranges. Suspended shopping is an act of charity in which the donor doesn't show off and the recipient doesn't have to show gratitude. With Italy's economy in suspension, the custom is being broadened.

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Landlord waives April rent for 200 tenants amid pandemic, wants everybody 'healthy'
2020-04-04, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/landlord-waives-april-rent-200-tenants-a...

A New York City landlord is giving his 200 tenants one less thing to worry about amid the coronavirus pandemic as he waived rent for the month of April. "I want everybody to be healthy. That's the whole thing," Mario Salerno told NBC New York. Salerno, 59, owns roughly 80 apartments across Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He said after some of his tenants told him that they were worried about paying rent because they lost their jobs due to the pandemic, he decided to take action. On March 30, he posted a notice on the front doors of all of his buildings announcing, "Due to the recent pandemic of Coronavirus COVID-19 affecting all of us, please note I am waiving rent for the month for April." One of his tenants said she's been out of work since she was ordered to shut down her hair salon. "He's Superman. He's a wonderful man," Kaitlyn Guteski told NBC New York. "It's a game-changer." Salerno said he knows he will take a big hit this month, but isn't worried. "For me, it was more important for people's health and worrying about who could put food on whose table," he told the outlet. "I say don't worry about paying me, worry about your neighbor and worry about your family." He said he hopes other landlords will do the same, and some have. Nathan Nichols, who owns two units in Portland, Maine, told his tenants ... that they don't have to worry about paying the rent for April. In San Diego, California, Jeff Larabee's 18 tenants were told that they would not have to pay rent for the next three months.

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2019 wasn't ALL bad. Here are all the good things that happened
2019-12-25, CNN News