Inspirational News StoriesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Stories in Major Media
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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.
She didn't say a word – and that only made her message resonate more powerfully. Valedictorian Elizabeth Bonker recently delivered the commencement speech at Rollins College in Florida, urging her classmates to serve others and embrace the power of sharing. Bonker, who is affected by nonspeaking autism, hasn't spoken since she was 15 months old. But thanks to an accepting attitude from her peers and teachers and help from technology, she has overcome many challenges and graduated at the top of her class at the Orlando-area school. Bonker used text-to-speech software to deliver the commencement address – an honor for which she was chosen by her fellow valedictorians. "I have typed this speech with one finger with a communication partner holding a keyboard," she said. "I am one of the lucky few nonspeaking autistics who have been taught to type. That one critical intervention unlocked my mind from its silent cage, enabling me to communicate and to be educated like my hero Helen Keller." In her speech, Bonker also evoked another hero: Fred Rogers, the Florida college's most famous alumnus. Last year, the school unveiled a statue of the man widely known as Mister Rogers. And it has long embraced his lessons. "When he died, a handwritten note was found in his wallet," Bonker said. "It said, 'Life is for service.'" She urged her classmates to rip off a piece of paper from their program, write those words down, and tuck the message away in a safe place.
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An Israeli orchestra has performed in Egypt for the first time in 40 years, surprising locals by playing Egyptian classics from the 50s and 60s. The event took place as part of Israel's 74th Independence Day celebrations at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, according to a Tuesday report by public broadcaster Kan. Ariel Cohen, the conductor and co-founder of the Firqat Alnoor orchestra, described the excitement of being able to perform in the Arab country, which signed a peace deal with Israel in 1979, but has seen relations remain frosty. "I couldn't believe it," Cohen said during an interview with the Kan public broadcaster. "I couldn't hold in my tears," he added, noting the warm welcome the group received wherever they went. "Egyptian music has always been a big part of my artistic life. Personally, performing there for me was a dream come true," Cohen said. "The Egyptian audience that attended the event were astonished to see an [Israeli] orchestra performing Egyptian music, and not pop or fusion, but the DNA of Egyptian musicâ€¦ and to play it as it was played in Egypt in the 50s or the 60s – they really appreciated it and complimented us. It was a great pleasure to perform in front of such an audience," he said. And while Cohen said he wasn't sure if music alone could create a warm relationship between Egyptians and Israelis, he said that "music, when it's done properly, can bring people together, and that's what we saw when we performed there."
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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.
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Bees may soon be able to take some of the sting out of cancer by detecting it early and getting patients into treatment sooner. Honeybees are known for their exquisitely sensitive sense of smell. They don't have noses, but their feet, tongues and antennae are packed with olfactory glands. They can also be quickly trained to do their "waggle dance" when they associate a specific smell with a food source. Taking advantage of these facts, Portuguese scientist Susana Soares has invented a two-chambered glass dome that uses bees to snuff out cancer. "The glass objects have two enclosures: a smaller chamber that serves as the diagnostic space and a bigger chamber where previously trained bees are kept for the short period of time necessary for them to detect general health," Soares wrote on her website. "People exhale into the smaller chamber, and the bees rush into it if they detect on the breath the odor that they were trained to target." Soares said she could train bees in 10 minutes to identify cancer and other diseases, such as tuberculosis and diabetes in their early stages. By exposing the insects to the odor molecules produced by an illness and then feeding them sugar, they learn to associate the smell with a food reward. Soares said that her bee chamber was an inexpensive, sustainable and highly accurate diagnostic tool. And, she points out, bees, as well as wasps, are already used regularly to sniff out land mines and illegal drugs.
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About 70 companies are taking part in what is thought to be the world's biggest pilot scheme into the working pattern over the next six months. The experiment has been organised by a group campaigning for a shorter working week, but for no loss in wages. During the trial, employees will get 100% pay for 80% of the hours they would usually work, with the aim of being more productive. Academics from Oxford and Cambridge universities, as well experts at Boston College in the US, will manage the experiment in partnership with the think tank Autonomy. Companies ranging from office-based software developers and recruitment firms to charities and a local fish and chip shop are taking part. "The UK trial is historic", said Juliet Schor, the lead researcher on the Global 4-day week project. "The basis of this movement is that there's activity going on in many workplaces, particularly white collar workplaces, that's low-productivity and that you can cut without harming the business." She said the trouble with the five-day week is that work can simply expand to fit the time available. "Sticking to a rigid, centuries-old, time-based system doesn't make sense," Ms Schor added. "You can be 100% productive in 80% of the time in many workplaces, and companies adopting this around the world have shown that." Even if workers are just 10% more productive the economics can still stack up, she argued, if it leads to lower sickness rates, fewer staff leaving and making it easier to attract new recruits.
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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 â€‹â€‹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."
The Kindness Test involved over 60,000 people from 144 different countries around the world, making it the largest public study of kindness ever carried out. You can listen to the full rundown of the results in the three-part BBC Radio 4 documentary, The Anatomy of Kindness, airing this month. The research will also soon be submitted for publication so their findings can be used to forward research in the future. Here are a few interesting findings from the test. Kinder people, or simply people who are more aware of kindness experience higher levels of life satisfaction and wellbeing. Two-thirds of participants believe the pandemic has made people kinder, perhaps by giving us a collective struggle that increased our empathy for each other. The study also found that nearly 60 percent of the people who partook in the research claimed to have received an act of kindness within the previous day. "It is a big part of human nature, to be kind – because it's such a big part of how we connect with people and how we have relationships," says Claudia Hammond, study collaborator. "It's a win-win situation, because we like receiving kindness, but we also like being kind." The overarching trend from the data is that your personality determines how kind you are to others and also how kind they are to you. People who are open to new experiences, agreeable, like talking to strangers, or are extraverted all reported higher levels of kindness in their lives.
San Francisco and Sioux Falls might seem to share little beyond an abbreviation, but the cities wrestle with a common problem: homelessness. Now the two regions are set to test a new approach to controlling homelessness by targeting the link between housing instability and incarceration. The Just Home Project, devised and funded by the MacArthur Foundation, and coordinated by the Urban Institute, will provide resources and technical assistance to four jurisdictions across the U.S. that struggle with different variations on the jail-to-homelessness cycle: South Carolina's Charleston County, Oklahoma's Tulsa County, South Dakota's Minnehaha County, and the city and county of San Francisco. The broader goal is to get counties to address the specific barriers that recently incarcerated individuals face when trying to access existing housing. "Homelessness, housing insecurity and participation in the criminal justice system are just simply deeply intertwined, in part because of the criminalization of homelessness itself," said Kelly Walsh, a principal policy associate at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center. Laurie Garduque, the director of criminal justice at the MacArthur Foundation, stresses that the initiative is designed specifically to support the jail population. Garduque hopes that learning from these local projects could help secure national-level solutions. "We think that if the barriers to housing can be addressed, the footprint of the criminal justice system will shrink," she said.
The underwater world at Laughing Bird Caye National Park off the coast of Belize looked nothing like the vibrant and colourful place that had thrived with life before Hurricane Iris swept across it in 2001. [Lisa] Carne immediately wanted to start replenishing the reefs by planting corals, but it took many years to convince any funders that her idea was viable. People argued, and still do, that without solving the problems that cause corals to die, putting them back on the reef made no sense. Carne began pitching her restoration ideas in 2002, but for several years had no luck. Then in 2006, the US listed Caribbean acroporid corals (the fastest growing type of branching coral in the Caribbean, and the main reef-building one) as endangered, and a local funder approved Carne's proposal to restore the reef. Carne began with transplanting 19 elkhorn coral fragments from the main barrier reef around 19 miles (31km) away in a trial. Because the initial 2006 transplants' survival was high (more than 80% still alive today) she continued to identify surviving corals and started reseeding the reefs with them in 2010. In 2009, Illiana Baums, professor of molecular ecology at Penn State University, advised on the appropriate distance to plant different individuals of each coral species apart to encourage spawning. So far over 85,000 corals have been planted in the Laughing Bird Caye National Park. Long-term monitoring shows 89% survived after 14 years – much higher than typical survivorship after restoration.
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."
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.
Even though the Biden administration's plan to make community college tuition-free for two years was stripped from the federal Build Back Better bill, the push for free college is alive and well in many parts of the country. While the White House has turned its focus to extending the student loan payment pause, states have been quietly moving forward with plans to pass legislation of their own to make some college tuition-free. Most recently, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, signed the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship Act, establishing the most extensive tuition-free scholarship program in the country. Like New York's Excelsior Scholarship, it covers four years of tuition, including career training certificates, associate and bachelor's degrees. But New Mexico's Opportunity Scholarship goes a step further by opening up access to returning adult learners, part-time students and immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, in addition to recent high school graduates. Maine's Gov. Janet Mills ... has proposed a plan to make two years of community college free for recent high school graduates. If passed, that would bring the total number of statewide free-college programs to 30, which means 60% of states would have free tuition opportunities. "If we get to 50, it's mission accomplished," said Morley Winograd ... of the Campaign for Free College Tuition. Most are "last-dollar" scholarships, meaning students receive a scholarship for the amount of tuition that is not covered by existing state or federal aid.
Beneath our feet is an ecosystem so astonishing that it tests the limits of our imagination. It's as diverse as a rainforest or a coral reef. We depend on it for 99% of our food, yet we scarcely know it. Soil. Under one square metre of undisturbed ground in the Earth's mid-latitudes ... there might live several hundred thousand small animals. One gram of this soil – less than a teaspoonful – contains around a kilometre of fungal filaments. But even more arresting than soil's diversity and abundance is the question of what it actually is. Most people see it as a dull mass of ground-up rock and dead plants. But it turns out to be a biological structure, built by living creatures to secure their survival, like a wasps' nest or a beaver dam. Microbes make cements out of carbon, with which they stick mineral particles together, creating pores and passages through which water, oxygen and nutrients pass. The tiny clumps they build become the blocks the animals in the soil use to construct bigger labyrinths. Plants release into the soil between 11% and 40% of all the sugars they make through photosynthesis. They don't leak them accidentally. They deliberately pump them into the ground. These complex chemicals are pumped into the zone immediately surrounding the plant's roots, which is called the rhizosphere. They are released to create and manage its relationships. The rhizosphere lies outside the plant, but it functions as if it were part of the whole. It could be seen as the plant's external gut.
Clean energy powered 100 per cent of California's electricity demand on Saturday – a first for the state, according to an environmental group. Much of the renewable power came from vast solar farms, south of Los Angeles. The milestone, set on 30 April, was celebrated by environmental groups. "California busts past 100% on this historic day for clean energy!" tweeted Dan Jacobson, co-founder of the activist thinktank EcoEquity. Daniel M Kammen, a professor of energy at UC Berkeley, also wrote: "California achieved 100% renewable energy today. Very clear we can achieve clean energy everyday before 2030 if we cut the fossil fuel subsidies and political inertia." According to the tracker app from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which oversees the state's power grid, energy demand reached 18,672 megawatts(MW) mid-afternoon on Saturday, with 37,172 MW available. The record was held for nearly 15 minutes, then dropped to 97 per cent of clean energy output. Solar power makes up the majority of California's renewables followed by wind energy then to a lesser extent, geothermal, biomass, biogas and small hydro. The state of California, the world's fifth largest economy, produces more renewable energy than any other US state, helped along by its near year-round sunshine. Governor Gavin Newsom's budget proposal for next year includes around $2bn to boost the transition to 100 per cent electricity. California has set a goal of achieving 100 per cent clean electricity by 2045.
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.
It's a common misconception that most hearing-impaired people can easily read lips. But while many are indeed practiced lip readers, only 30 to 40 percent of English can be understood through watching the mouth. Much of spoken English occurs without lip movement. This leaves many hearing-impaired people at a loss when communicating with the hearing. Now, a company is hoping to help the hearing-impaired in a more seamless way. The Live-Time Closed Captioning System (LTCCS) instantly turns speech into scrolling text displaying on a tiny screen clipped to a pair of glasses. LTCCS's founders say it "restores the user's ability to engage in a naturally flowing conversation." LTCCS creator Daniil Frants was inspired to design the device when his guitar teacher asked him if he thought Google Glass might be able to somehow help him communicate with his hearing-impaired father. "I started messing around with Google Glass, seeing if it could do some closed captioning function," he says. "But after six months it became obvious that there was no way to do that effectively using Glass." So Frants decided to do it himself. He created a system built from existing or modified parts–a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, a voice recognition system and a display. The user wears a microphone, which is connected to the microcomputer. The microcomputer picks up sounds and translates them to text using the voice recognition software, then sends them up to the display in a pair of glasses.
Note: Two other versions of glasses allowing voice to text for the deaf can be found on this webpage and this one. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Between vast almond orchards and dairy pastures in the heart of California's farm country sits a property being redesigned to look like it did 150 years ago, before levees restricted the flow of rivers that weave across the landscape. The 2,100 acres (1,100 hectares) at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers in the state's Central Valley are being reverted to a floodplain. That means when heavy rains cause the rivers to go over their banks, water will run onto the land, allowing traditional ecosystems to flourish and lowering flood risk downstream. The Dos Rios Ranch Preserve is California's largest single floodplain restoration project, part of the nation's broadest effort to rethink how rivers flow as climate change alters the environment. The land it covers used to be a farm, but the owners sold it to the nonprofit River Partners to use for restoring wildlife habitat. The state wants to fund and prioritize similar projects that lower risks to homes and property while providing other benefits, like boosting habitats, improving water quality and potentially recharging depleted groundwater supplies. By notching or removing levees, swelling rivers can flow onto land that no longer needs to be kept dry. For projects like Dos Rios, land that farmers no longer want to manage is being turned into space where rivers can breathe. Farther north, barriers on the Feather River have been altered to allow more water to flow into an existing wildlife area.
Kindness is great to give, and especially nice to receive. But isn't something you can see, or touch. So how can science research it? There is a way, and it's concerned with how our brains are behaving when we're doing a good deed for someone else - behaviour that can be recorded and analysed. Have you ever done a selfless act for someone and felt great about it afterwards? That's because part of ... something called the reward pathway. Dr Dan Campbell-Meiklejohn, a senior psychology lecturer ... described that reaction as: "At the moment when you help someone, you donate to charity, etc, the processes that happen in your brain are quite similar to other positive experiences. It activates the reward processing areas of the brain." The brain rewards us for being kind - in the nucleus accumbens - but there is another part where we can learn to be good to others. In 2016, [Dr Patricia Lockwood] led a study at University of Oxford that uncovered a part of the brain which lights up when we help others, compared to when we help ourselves. In the experiment, volunteers made use of a series of symbols. One symbol rewarded them, while another only benefited others. The part of the brain that activated when people deliberately chose to help others is called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex. When the study was published, it became known as the 'generosity centre'. Dr Lockwood said: "Put another way, the subgenual anterior cingulate seems to be especially tuned to benefiting other people."
Kindness might once have been considered something of a soft topic, but it has begun to be taken seriously within academic research. When developmental psychologist Robin Banerjee ... surveyed past research, he found just 35 papers on kindness in psychology journals in the whole of the 1980s. In the past decade, there were more than 1,000. But there is still plenty to discover. One morning, people walking down a street in the Canadian city of Vancouver were asked to take part in an experiment. They were given an envelope containing either a $5 or $20 note. Half the people were instructed to spend the money on themselves. The other half were instructed to use the money to buy a present for someone else or to donate the money to charity. Whether they had $5 or $20 made no difference. The people who had spent it on someone else felt significantly happier than those who treated themselves. This is just one of many studies which has found that acting kindly can improve your wellbeing. In a meta-analysis, Oliver Scott Curry ... found that behaving kindly can have a small to medium effect on our wellbeing. On the BBC radio programme The Kindness Test ... neuroscientist Dan Campbell-Meiklejohn told me that this can seem counterintuitive. "Kindness can cost us, yet we experience a sense of reward in parts of our brain when we are kind to others, just as we do when eat yummy food or have a pleasant surprise. These parts of the brain become active and motivate us to do them again and again."
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.