Torture tests say battery power's hardly nerdy
2009-03-30, Boston Globe
Bill Dubé gets giddy when he talks about batteries and speed. After all, his 500-horsepower Killacycle electric motorcycle goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under a second. He claims it is the fastest electric vehicle on the planet. In October, the Killacycle traveled a quarter mile in 7.89 seconds, topping out at 174 mph, a record. Dubé, 56, an engineer and Rhode Island native whose day job is designing air chemistry instruments at the University of Colorado, is the bike's designer, owner, and builder. He is out to prove that electric vehicles do not have to be "nerd-mobiles." At the heart of electric vehicles like the Killacycle are the batteries. A123 Systems Inc., based in Watertown, sponsors the Killacycle and provides its battery. Dubé read about A123's lithium-ion battery technology in 2003 and decided to approach company officials. He thought drag racing was a great way to torture-test the company's innovative battery cells. "I told them I'll take the battery cells out to the drag strip and set a world record," he said. Electric-vehicle racing hit the start line about 15 years ago, when pioneers like Dubé began building the machines. "Bill is quite amazing and does pretty good promoting electric-vehicle racing in general," said Mike Willmon, president of the National Electric Drag Racing Association, based in Santa Rosa, Calif. The mission of the group, whose membership stands at 100, is to increase public awareness about the performance side of electric vehicles.
Note: Why such a weak title for this amazing bike? Why not a title like "Electric motorcycle goes 0 to 60 in one second"? Could it be the media doesn't want us to know things like this? For lots more suggesting this may be the case, click here. And for more on this amazing motorcyle and an unassuming electric car that does the quarter mile in under 12 seconds, click here.
Apocalypse now? 30 days when the world didn't end
2008-09-09, Times of London (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
The beginning of the first serious experiments using CERN’s Large Hadron Collider this week has given rise to a welter of fanciful scare stories about the obliteration of the Earth by a pocket black hole or a cascade reaction of exotic particles. Similar predictions have been made around the launch of several other particle physics experiments and even the first atomic weapons tests. Predictions of the world’s end are nothing new though. We’ve picked out 30 of the most memorable apocalypses that never, for one reason or another, quite happened. 1: 2,800BC: The oldest surviving prediction of the world’s imminent demise was found inscribed upon an Assyrian clay tablet which stated: "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common." 4: Mar 25, 970 AD. The Lotharingian computists believed they had found evidence in the Bible that a conjunction of certain feast days prefigured the end times. They were just one of a wide scattering of millennial cults springing up in advance of that first Millennium. The millennial panic endured for at least 30 years after the fateful date had come and gone, with some adjustment made to allow 1,000 years after the crucifixion, rather than the nativity. 8: 1648: Having made close study of the kabbalah, theTurkish rabbi Sabbatai Zevi predicted that the Messiah would make a miraculous return in 1648, and that his name would be Sabbatai Zevi. 9: 1666: A year packed with apocalyptic portent. With a date containing the figures commonly accepted as the biblical Number of the Beast and following a protracted period of plague in England, it was little surprise that many should believe the Great Fire of London to be a herald of the Last Days.
The Assisi Decalogue For Peace
2002-02-01, King's University College, University of Western Ontario
What if leaders of the world’s major religions got together one day and denounced all religious violence? What if they unanimously agreed to make this plain, clear and bold statement to the world? “Violence and terrorism are opposed to all true religious spirit and we condemn all recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion.” It could change the world. More than 200 leaders of the world’s dozen major religions did get together January 24 in Assisi, Italy. Pope John Paul II and a number of cardinals were at the meeting. So was Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians. So were a dozen Jewish rabbis, including some from Israel. So were 30 Muslim imams from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan. So were dozens of ministers representing Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Disciples of Christ, Mennonites, Quakers, Moravians, The Salvation Army and the World Council of Churches. So were dozens of monks, gurus and others representing Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Zoroastrians and native African religions. They unanimously agreed to condemn “every recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion.” They also said, “No religious goal can possibly justify the use of violence by man against man.” And that “Whoever uses religion to foment violence contradicts religion’s deepest and truest inspiration.” They called their statement the Assisi Decalogue for Peace. Maybe you missed the story. It didn’t even make the newspapers the next day, hidden inside or not. What if leaders of the world’s major religions got together one and denounced all religious violence - and no one cared?
Note: Why is it that news about war and terrorism so frequently makes headlines, but the amazing news that leaders of religions from around the world got together to denounce all violence in the name of God and religion did not even warrant an article or story in any major media?
Elephant 'self-portrait' on show
2006-07-21, BBC News
Art graduate Victoria Khunapramot, 26, has brought [remarkable] paintings from Thailand, [including] "self-portraits" by Paya, who is said to be the only elephant to have mastered his own likeness. Paya is one of six elephants whose keepers have taught them how to hold a paintbrush in their trunks. They drop the brush when they want a new colour. Mrs Khunapramot, from Newington, said: "Many people cannot believe that an elephant is capable of producing any kind of artwork, never mind a self-portrait. But they are very intelligent animals and create the entire paintings with great gusto and concentration within just five or 10 minutes - the only thing they cannot do on their own is pick up a paintbrush, so it gets handed to them. They are trained by artists who fine-tune their skills, and they paint in front of an audience in their conservation village, leaving no one in any doubt that they are authentic elephant creations." Mrs Khunapramot, who set up the Thai Fine Art company after studying the history of art in St Andrews and business management at Edinburgh's Napier University, said it took about a month to train the animals to paint.
Note: For an amazing video clip of one of these elephants at work, click here. For more on this fascinating topic, click here and here.
In Rwanda, visionary doctor is moving mountains again
2008-04-13, Boston Globe
It was November 2004, and Dr. Paul Farmer had agreed to bring his world-renowned Partners in Health model to Rwanda, which was still reeling from the aftershocks of the genocide a decade earlier. Now here he was, with Rwandan health officials, to scout out a location for a hospital to serve the poorest of the poor. Farmer, who teaches at Harvard, was taken to Ruhengeri, in the country's northwest corner. But there was already a clean hospital there, with employees and even an X-ray machine. "No, no, no. You don't understand," Farmer recalls saying. "Find me the worst possible place in the country." So they took him to Rwinkwavu, a remote area two hours east of Kigali. Even Farmer - who works in the world's worst regions - was taken aback. There were no beds, no patients, no staff, no medical equipment. "It was abandoned, dirty and scary," Farmer says. There were 200,000 people in the district and not a single doctor. It was the perfect place for Farmer. In the summer of 2005, the doors opened at Rwinkwavu Hospital, which now sees 250 patients a day, some of them walking hours to get there. Farmer, [Dr. Michael Rich, who is Rwanda country director for Partners in Health], and their Rwandan counterparts have built a second hospital in an equally remote area of 200,000 - also without a single doctor - and built or renovated 19 health centers that feed patients to them. A third hospital is on the drawing board, designed by Harvard architecture students. Ultimately, they plan to expand rural medical services to the entire country. Now 20 years old, Partners in Health, with its emphasis on treating poverty as well as disease, has expanded to nine countries.
Note: Five years ago, Farmer became reluctantly famous with the publication of Tracy Kidder's best-selling book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, which told the story of the brash Harvard Medical School graduate who changed the face of healthcare in rural Haiti.
For Modern Kids, 'Philanthropy' Is No Grown-Up Word
2007-12-30, Washington Post
In lieu of presents at her 12th birthday party this year, Maddie Freed of Potomac asked her friends to bring money, and she raised $800 for Children's Hospital. Eight-year-old Jenny Hoekman saves a third of what she makes walking dogs, and this month the Takoma Park girl donated it to help her Brownie troop sponsor an immigrant family. And in Club Penguin, a popular online game club for the elementary school set, more than 2.5 million kids gave their virtual earnings to charities in a contest this month. In response, the site's founders are giving $1 million to charities based on the children's preferences. Young children and teenagers across the nation are getting involved in philanthropy more than ever, according to research and nonprofit experts, who credit new technologies with the rise of the trend. As young people increasingly become exposed to and connected with the problems of the world via the Internet and television, experts said, parents are finding new ways to instill in their children the value of giving. At the same time, technology is democratizing philanthropy so giving is not only easier for people of all ages and means, but also trendier. And children are starting to organize at the grass-roots level to give. "We've globalized technology, we've globalized commerce, but we haven't globalized compassion," said Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, a nonprofit network of kids helping kids. "But we're seeing a generation of kids, ages 10 to 15, who are aware of global problems, and they're really searching to help. The next step is to help kids move from that awareness to action." Eileen Barber, 10, of Charlottesville said she gave her Club Penguin coins to the World Wildlife Fund to help animals. "It sort of seemed like they have a lot more needs than us," Barber said. "With global warming and stuff, I figured it would be nicer to look beyond just myself."
Blind, Wheelchair-Bound Student Doesn't Fail to Inspire
2006-11-10, ABC News
When I met 18-year old Patrick Henry Hughes, I knew he was musically talented. I had been told so, had read that he was very able for someone his age and who had been blind and crippled since birth. Patrick's eyes are not functional; his body and legs are stunted. He is in a wheelchair. When we first shook hands, his fingers seemed entirely too thick to be nimble. So when he offered to play the piano for me and his father rolled his wheelchair up to the baby grand, I confess that I thought to myself, "Well, this will be sweet. He has overcome so much. How nice that he can play piano." But then Patrick put his hands to the keyboard, and his fingers began to race across it -- the entire span of it, his fingers moving up and back and over and across the keys so quickly and intricately that my fully-functional eyesight couldn't keep up with them. I was stunned. The music his hands drew from that piano was so lovely and lyrical and haunting, so rich and complex and beyond anything I had imagined he would play that there was nothing I could say. All I could do was listen. "God made me blind and didn't give me the ability to walk. I mean, big deal." Patrick said, smiling. "He gave me the talent to play piano and trumpet and all that good stuff." This is Patrick's philosophy in life, and he wants people to know it. "I'm the kind of person that's always going to fight till I win," he said. Patrick also attends the University of Louisville and plays trumpet in the marching band. The band director suggested it, and Patrick and his father, Patrick John Hughes, who have faced tougher challenges together, decided "Why not?" "Don't tell us we can't do something," Patrick's father added, with a chuckle. He looks at Patrick with a mixture of love and loyalty and admiration, something not always seen in the eyes of a father when he gazes at his son. "I've told him before. He's my hero."
Note: For amazingly inspiring seven-minute video clips of this unusual young musician on both Oprah and ESPN, click here and here.
For this club, life begins at 50 (%)
2007-07-29, Boston Globe
When David Ludlow's wife died in a climbing accident 11 years ago, her death transformed him into a multimillionaire: He inherited Vanda Sendzimir's share of her family fortune, a $5 million trust that generates an annual interest of about $300,000. Then a freelance photographer with a passion for social justice issues, the Jamaica Plain man was plunged into a swirl of shock, guilt, and confusion.
"I've always been very left-wing politically and all of a sudden I was living incredible inequality," said Ludlow, 64. "Suddenly I was in the upper 1 percent of the population in terms of wealth, and I felt terrible about that for a long time." So he did something radical, and something that many people might consider insane: He decided to give away half his annual income. In doing so, Ludlow joined a small, unusual, and growing community: The 50% League, an Arlington-based group of people who contribute at least half their income, business profits, or net worth to charity. Members from across the country have been welcomed into an elite circle of givers and asked to share their stories publicly, even if anonymously, to inspire other givers. Their motivations are manifold: Some give out of a sense of fairness, personal satisfaction or a desire for simplicity; others are driven by religious faith or dedication to a cause. Many are anonymous philanthropists, and not all of them have great wealth: Some are members of the middle class, but have chosen to survive on less so they can give more. Above all, they aim to stand as role models, and to encourage others of all income levels to think about their giving potential. "I feel incredibly privileged, and I still feel guilty about that," said Ludlow, who has used much of the money he inherited from his late wife ... to fund grass-roots groups led by low-income people of color. "But it's given me tremendous meaning in my life to give as much as I can away."
Note: The wonderful man featured in this article, David Ludlow, is a major supporter of our work in the form of a large monthly donation (http://www.peerservice.org/donations#monthly). This is a powerful example of how one inspired individual can make a big difference in the world. Let us all do our best to use our money in support of personal and global transformation to the best of our ability. We also invite you to make a difference by donating to support our empowering work at http://www.peerservice.org/donations. For two inspiring media clips of David and this great organization, click here and here.
A genius explains
2007-02-12, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant. He can perform mind-boggling mathematical calculations at breakneck speeds. But unlike other savants, who can perform similar feats, Tammet can describe how he does it. He speaks seven languages and is even devising his own language. Now scientists are asking whether his exceptional abilities are the key to unlock the secrets of autism. Ever since the age of three, when he suffered an epileptic fit, Tammet has been obsessed with counting. Now he is 26, and a mathematical genius who can figure out cube roots quicker than a calculator and recall pi to 22,514 decimal places. He also happens to be autistic, which is why he can't drive a car, wire a plug, or tell right from left. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. An estimated 10% of the autistic population - and an estimated 1% of the non-autistic population - have savant abilities, but no one knows exactly why. A number of scientists now hope that Tammet might help us to understand better. The blind American savant Leslie Lemke played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No1, after he heard it for the first time, and he never had so much as a piano lesson. And the British savant Stephen Wiltshire was able to draw a highly accurate map of the London skyline from memory after a single helicopter trip over the city. Even so, Tammet could still turn out to be the more significant.
Note: Could the human mind be much more powerful than even science is willing to admit? For an astounding documentary showing how this unusual man managed to become conversant in a difficult language in one week and lots more, click here.
Do-Gooders With Spreadsheets
2007-01-30, New York Times
The World Economic Forum here in Davos is the kind of place where if you let yourself get distracted while walking by a European prime minister on your left, you could end up tripping over a famous gazillionaire. But perhaps the most remarkable people to attend ... are the social entrepreneurs. Nic Frances runs a group that aims to cut carbon emissions in 70 percent of Australian households over 10 years. His group, Easy Being Green, gives out low-energy light bulbs and low-flow shower heads after the household signs over the rights to the carbon emissions the equipment will save. The group then sells those carbon credits to industry to finance its activities. In the U.S., Gillian Caldwell and her group, Witness, train people around the world to use video cameras to document human rights abuses. The resulting videos have drawn public attention to issues like child soldiers and the treatment of the mentally ill. Now Ms. Caldwell aims to create sort of YouTube for human rights video clips. Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, demonstrated with Grameen Bank the power of microfinancing. His bank has helped raise incomes, secure property rights for women, lower population growth and raise education standards across Bangladesh — and now the success is rippling around the globe. “Politics is failing to solve all the big issues,” said Jim Wallis, who wrote “God’s Politics” and runs Sojourners. “So when that happens, social movements rise up.” A growing number of the best and brightest university graduates in the U.S. and abroad are moving into this area (many clutching the book “How to Change the World,” a bible in the field).
Molecule offers cancer hope
2007-01-17, Toronto Star (One of Canada's leading newspapers)
In results that "astounded" scientists, an inexpensive molecule known as DCA was shown to shrink lung, breast and brain tumours in both animal and human tissue experiments. The study was published yesterday in the journal Cancer Cell. "I think DCA can be selective for cancer because it attacks a fundamental process of cancer that is unique to cancer cells," said Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a professor at the Edmonton university's medical school and one of the study's key authors. The molecule appears to repair damaged mitochondria in cancer cells. "When a cell is getting too old or doesn't function properly, the mitochondria are going to induce the cell death," lead study author Sebastien Bonnet said yesterday. Bonnet says DCA – or dichloroacetate – appears to reverse the mitochondrial changes in a wide range of cancers. "One of the really exciting things about this compound is that it might be able to treat many different forms of cancer because all forms of cancer suppress mitochondrial function," Michelakis said. Bonnet says DCA may also provide an effective cancer treatment because its small size allows easy absorption into the body, ensuring it can reach areas that other drugs cannot, such as brain tumours. Because it's been used to combat other ailments ... DCA has been shown to have few toxic effects on the body. Its previous use means it can be immediately tested on humans. Unlike other cancer drugs, DCA did not appear to have any negative effect on normal cells. It could provide an extremely inexpensive cancer therapy because it's not patented. But ... the lack of a patent could lead to an unwillingness on the part of pharmaceutical companies to fund expensive clinical trials.
Note: Even these scientists realize that though this discovery could be a huge benefit to mankind, because the drug companies will lose profits, they almost certainly will not fund studies. Expensive AIDS drugs with promising results, on the other hand, are rushed through the studies to market. For more reliable, verifiable information on how hugely beneficial health advances are shut down to keep profits high, click here and here.
Meet the College Student Who's Turning Campus Leftovers Into Meals for Thousands of Hungry Neighbors
2014-02-07, People Magazine
How much food could be rescued if college dining halls saved their leftovers? Turns out more than 200,000 pounds in three years – according to the Food Recovery Network, which has mobilized college students across the nation to feed hungry people in the most commonsense way possible. At the University of Maryland’s 251 North dining hall, ... the dining hall staff began placing stainless-steel trays filled with unused food on an island countertop near the end of a spacious industrial kitchen. One by one, steaming trays were stacked on top of the other as several college students snapped on latex gloves and discussed their game plan. Their objective was simple, really: to intercept the food before it’s thrown away and deliver it to hungry people in need. The ever-expanding Food Recovery Network ... was founded on Maryland’s campus in September 2011 by Ben Simon, the nonprofit’s executive director. Food is thrown out at 75 percent of college campuses across the United States. That’s roughly 22 million meals per year, trashed. Overall, Americans waste 36 million tons of food annually. But since the founding of the Food Recovery Network at the University of Maryland ... in January 2012, the organization has expanded to 49 campuses nationwide.
Note: For an inspiring, four-minute video on this, click here. For the Food Recovery Network website, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
School ditches rules and loses bullies
2014-01-26, TVNZ (New Zealand's national broadcasting company)
Ripping up the playground rulebook is having incredible effects on children at an Auckland school. Chaos may reign at Swanson Primary School with children climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush during playtime, but surprisingly the students don't cause bedlam, the principal says. The school is actually seeing a drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism, while concentration levels in class are increasing. Principal Bruce McLachlan rid the school of playtime rules as part of a successful university experiment. "We want kids to be safe and to look after them, but we end up wrapping them in cotton wool when in fact they should be able to fall over." Letting children test themselves on a scooter during playtime could make them more aware of the dangers when getting behind the wheel of a car in high school, he said. "When you look at our playground it looks chaotic. From an adult's perspective, it looks like kids might get hurt, but they don't." Swanson School signed up to the study by AUT and Otago University just over two years ago, with the aim of encouraging active play. However, the school took the experiment a step further by abandoning the rules completely, much to the horror of some teachers at the time. When the university study wrapped up at the end of last year the school and researchers were amazed by the results. Mudslides, skateboarding, bullrush and tree climbing kept the children so occupied the school no longer needed a timeout area or as many teachers on patrol. "The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It's during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school."
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Researchers developing communication app for children with autism
2013-08-01, CBS News/Associated Press
University of Kansas researchers have received a $1.2 million grant to test whether an iPad voice output application can help children with autism. Similar apps have previously been developed for adults with autism. In June 2012, 60 Minutes interviewed a 27-year-old man with autism who uses the keypad on the iPad to type out letters, words and phrases. A robotic voice then reads the words on the screen, giving a voice to an intelligent young man who previously struggled to communicate. Other researchers have developed apps to test vocabulary and math skills of autistic children. They are finding that the apps reveal a greater level of intelligence than previously expected in many of the children. Lead researcher Kathy Thiemann-Bourque says many young children with autism have complex communication needs but do not develop functional speech. In previous research, she has examined both peer training and direct teaching strategies to increase social communication between children with autism and their classmates without disabilities.
Note: For an amazing eight-minute clip showing how a non-verbal autistic woman uses her computer to eloquently invite people into her world, click here. The amazing writing starts at 3:15. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Explosive growth for state's surviving solar firms
2014-01-19, San Francisco Chronicle SF's leading newspaper)
Many California and Bay Area [solar] companies are in a period of explosive growth. Companies such as SolarCity, Sungevity, SunPower and Sunrun are installing panels at a heady pace, and adding jobs along the way. Their expansion has been fueled by ... a worldwide plunge in the price of solar cells. Companies that design and install solar systems for homes, businesses or utilities have seen their sales rise. "They're not just survivors - they're strong survivors," said Lyndon Rive, chief executive officer of SolarCity in San Mateo. "And it's not just us. It's the industry. ... The notion that it's a failure is so outrageous." The number of solar installations - both large and small-scale - is booming. In 2013, the United States added enough new photovoltaic panels to generate a maximum of 4.2 gigawatts of electricity, roughly the output of four nuclear reactors. Over the past five years, the number of residential installations has grown at an average annual rate of 70 percent, according to the NPD Solarbuzz market information firm. "The demand today is coming from the fact that someone can put solar on their house and save money," said Paul Nahi, CEO of Enphase Energy, a Petaluma company that makes microinverters for solar arrays. "It is true that they may also be saving the planet. But that's not their main consideration." The drop in prices isn't their only reason for growth. Companies including SolarCity, SunEdison and Sunrun began offering solar leases or power purchase agreements to homeowners and businesses. Rather than buy the panels, customers could just buy the energy. That financial innovation revolutionized the industry.
Note: For more on exciting new developments in alternative energy technologies, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Zach Sobiech, 17, Inspires Millions in Cancer Fight With Farewell Song
2013-03-07, People Magazine
After doctors told cancer patient Zach Sobiech, 17, he only had a year to live, the Minnesota high school senior turned to music – and inspired millions. His emotional farewell song, "Clouds" was posted on YouTube ... and went viral with over [nine] million views and climbing, [and] created interest from music industry insiders. "I didn't make 'Clouds' to get famous," says Zach, who now has a songwriting contract from BMI, performed two concerts and just completed a new album titled Fix Me Up with his duo group A Firm Handshake, with singer and best friend Sammy Brown. "It's pretty crazy now … but it's worth it." Back in 2009, then-14-year-old Zach, the third of four children, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a kind of bone cancer. Despite countless surgeries and rounds of radiation, the cancer continued to spread. Last May, doctors gave a grim prognosis: Zach had up to a year to live. "We're approaching that year mark," says Zach, whose high school class graduates in June. "It's scary to think about, but the key is to not feel bad for yourself." Zach is using his remaining time and newfound fame to raise awareness and money for kids suffering from his rare form of cancer, teaming with the Children's Cancer Research Fund to launch the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund. He's already raised almost $80,000 to help fund research into a cure. "My [type of] cancer hardly gets any funding," says Zach. "Our goal is to give other kids with osteosarcoma a chance." Though Zach has good days and bad, his mother says he's doing his best to live each day to its fullest.
Note: For a most beautiful and touching 22 minute video showing how Zach Sobiech faced his impending death by living life to its absolute fullest, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
2013: Fewest Police Deaths by Firearms Since 1887
2013-12-30, ABC News/Associated Press
The number of law-enforcement officers killed by firearms in 2013 fell to levels not seen since the 19th century, according to a [new] report. The annual report from the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund also found that deaths in the line of duty generally fell by 8 percent and were the fewest since 1959. According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide this past year, compared to 121 in 2012. Forty-six officers were killed in traffic related accidents, and 33 were killed by firearms. The number of firearms deaths fell 33 percent in 2013 and was the lowest since 1887. The report credits an increased culture of safety among law-enforcement agencies, including increased use of bulletproof vests, that followed a spike in law-enforcement deaths in 2011. Since 2011, officer fatalities across all categories have decreased by 34 percent, and firearms deaths have dropped by 54 percent. Fourteen officers died from heart attacks that occurred while performing their duties.
Note: Violent crime rates have dropped dramatically in the last 20 years, which is one of the least reported good news stories. For more on this, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
What Would You Do? Interracial Couple Faces Criticism
2013-12-10, ABC News
It was a simple idea, an interracial couple ridiculed at a barber shop ... in the heart of Harlem. It resonated throughout the internet with millions of hits and comments like, "there may be hope for us yet" and "everyone should watch this!" Rachel is an actor playing a hairdresser who has her eye on a new customer. Gabriel [also an actor] has a girlfriend and when she shows up, it's a rude awakening for Rachel. "Wait, what? You're with a white girl?" If you saw this woman berating an interracial couple, what would you do? [Unsuspecting customer] Denise is so upset there is nothing holding her back. "She's ignorant. I'm letting you know, black girl to another black girl. You sound stupid. As much criticism we went through as a people you're going to do it to the next person. Who gives you that right?" But nothing prepared us for this last woman. Marcia, an HR executive and diversity trainer cannot believe what she's hearing. She tries to get to the bottom of Rachel's intolerance. "Where is your caring and loving heart. If she was laying in the street bleeding would you help her? Let's try to rise together. She wants Rachel to apologize. "Yes, you should, while it's still on your spirit so you can sleep better tonight. Come on. Go up to her. ... That's what works for us. HUGS, Helping Us Grow Spiritually." Why did [Marcia] get involved? "Sometimes you have to step up so that you don't fall back. It hurt me because that's not what I'm about." So many people stepped forward against hatred and bigotry, a sermon at the barber shop now ringing through the streets of harlem and beyond.
Note: Don't miss the great video of this awesomely inspiring episode of "What Would You Do?" which restores hope in human nature. You can find it at the link above. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Alan Turing, code-breaker castrated for homosexuality, receives 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.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Mysterious ingredients vanish from food labels
2013-12-18, Boston Globe/Associated Press
Take another look at that food label. An ingredient or two may have vanished. As Americans pay closer attention to what they eat, food and beverage companies are learning that unfamiliar ingredients can invite criticism from online petitions and bloggers. The risk of damaging publicity has proven serious enough that some manufacturers have reformulated top-selling products to remove mysterious, unpronounceable components that could draw suspicion. Earlier this year, for example, PepsiCo Inc. said it would stop using brominated vegetable oil in Gatorade and find a another way to evenly distribute color in the sports drink. Last year, Starbucks said it would stop using a red dye made of crushed bugs based on comments it received “through a variety of means,” including an online petition, and switch to a tomato-based extract. Kraft Foods plans to replace artificial dyes with colors derived from natural spices in select varieties of its macaroni and cheese, a nod to the feedback it’s hearing from parents. Ali Dibadj, a Bernstein analyst who covers the packaged food and beverage industry, says the changes reflect a shift from “democratization to activism” by consumers. “It used to be that people would just decide not to buy the product. Now they’re actually agitating for change,” Dibadj said. “There’s a bullhorn — which is the Internet — so you can get a lot of people involved very quickly.” In the past, a customer complaint about an ingredient may have been addressed with a boilerplate letter from corporate headquarters. But now people can go online to share their concerns with thousands of like-minded individuals.
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