Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on inspiration
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.”
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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."
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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