Inspiring News
Excerpts of Highly Inspiring News Articles in Major Media



Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news articles reported in the major media. Links are provided to the original inspiring news articles on their major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These wonderfully inspiring excerpts are listed with the most inspiring news articles first. You can also explore the news articles listed by order of the date posted. For an abundance of other highly inspiring material, see our Inspiring Resources page. May these inspiring news articles inspire us to find ever more ways to love and support each other and all around us to be the very best we can be.

High Court: Whistleblowers' Testimony Is Protected
2014-06-19, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/high-court-whistleblower-testimony-p...

The First Amendment protects public employees from job retaliation when they are called to testify in court about official corruption, the Supreme Court ruled [on June 19]. The unanimous decision cheered whistleblower advocates, who said it could encourage more government workers to cooperate with prosecutors in public fraud cases without fear of losing their livelihoods. The justices decided in favor of Edward Lane, a former Alabama community college official who says he was fired after testifying at the criminal fraud trial of a state lawmaker. Lower courts had ruled against Lane, finding that he was testifying as a college employee, not as a citizen. Writing for the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Lane's testimony was constitutionally protected because he was speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern, even if it covered facts he learned at work. In past cases, the court has said that public employees generally do not have free-speech rights when they discuss matters learned at their jobs. "This ruling gives a green light to all public employees who have information concerning official corruption and fraud and want to expose these crimes," said Stephen Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center. He predicted the decision [will] have a "wide impact" on investigations of securities, banking and tax fraud. Lane was director of a college youth program at Central Alabama Community College in 2006 when he discovered that a state lawmaker, Sue Schmitz, was on the payroll but not showing up for work. Lane fired Schmitz despite warnings that doing so could jeopardize his own job.

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




The open source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1% - ex CIA spy
2014-06-19, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/19/open-source-...

Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it's a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core. Last month, Steele presented a startling paper at the Libtech conference in New York, sponsored by the Internet Society and Reclaim. Drawing on principles set out in his latest book, The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth and Trust, he told the audience that all the major preconditions for revolution ... were now present in the United States and Britain. His interdisciplinary 'whole systems' approach dramatically connects up the increasing corruption, inefficiency and unaccountability of the intelligence system and its political and financial masters with escalating inequalities and environmental crises. But he also offers a comprehensive vision of hope that activist networks like Reclaim are implementing today. Today's capitalism, he argues, is inherently predatory and destructive: "Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditised without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditised by the Industrial Era." Open source everything, in this context, offers us the chance to build on what we've learned through industrialisation, to learn from our mistakes, and catalyse the re-opening of the commons, in the process breaking the grip of defunct power structures and enabling the possibility of prosperity for all.

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




This CEO is out for blood
2014-06-12, Fortune
http://fortune.com/2014/06/12/theranos-blood-holmes/

Elizabeth Holmes founded her revolutionary blood diagnostics company, Theranos, when she was 19. It’s now worth more than $9 billion, and poised to change health care. In the fall of 2003, Elizabeth Holmes, a 19-year-old sophomore at Stanford, plopped herself down in the office of her chemical engineering professor, Channing Robertson, and said, “Let’s start a company.” As a freshman, Holmes had taken Robertson’s seminar on advanced drug-delivery devices–things like patches, pills, and even a contact-lens-like film that secreted glaucoma medication–but now she had invented one the likes of which Robertson had never conceived. It was a wearable patch that, in addition to administering a drug, would monitor variables in the patient’s blood to see if the therapy was having the desired effect, and adjust the dosage accordingly. With Robertson’s blessing, Holmes started her company and, a semester later, dropped out to pursue it full-time. Now she’s 30, and her private, Palo Alto-based corporation, called Theranos–the name is an amalgam of the words “therapy” and “diagnosis”–has 500 employees. Theranos today is a potentially highly disruptive upstart in America’s $73 billion diagnostic-lab industry. It currently offers more than 200–and is ramping up to offer more than 1,000–of the most commonly ordered blood diagnostic tests, all without the need for a syringe. Theranos’s tests can be performed on just a few drops of blood, or about 1/100th to 1/1,000th of the amount that would ordinarily be required–an extraordinary potential boon to frequently tested hospital patients or cancer victims, the elderly, infants, [and] children.

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




Elon Musk Takes on Carbon With Solar, Battery Bets
2014-06-17, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/elon-musk-takes-carbon-solar-battery...

The energy world is not keeping up with Elon Musk, so he's trying to take matters into his own hands. Musk, chairman of the solar installer SolarCity, announced [on June 17] that the company would acquire a solar panel maker and build factories "an order of magnitude" bigger than the plants that currently churn out panels. Musk is also a founder and the CEO of the electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors, which is planning what it calls a "gigafactory" to supply batteries for its cars. In both cases, Musk's goal is to make sure that the components critical to his vision of the future — electric cars and solar energy — are available and cheap enough to beat fossil fuels. Musk's future customer could ignore traditional energy companies completely. They'd have SolarCity panels on their roof that would generate enough power [to] charge up a Tesla [car] in the garage. A Tesla battery could then power the home at night with stored solar power. Musk has made a career of thinking far into the future. He is also the CEO of SpaceX, the rocket company with an ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. SolarCity says it won't try to turn out more of the garden-variety panels now clogging the market. Instead, it wants to make panels that are more efficient, and make them at a low cost in huge factories in order to reduce the overall cost of solar electricity. Just as he drew customers to electric vehicles by making sleek, fast sports cars, Musk wants to attract homeowners to solar with pretty panels. "We want to have a cool-looking aesthetically pleasing solar system on your roof," he said.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing new energy development news articles from reliable major media sources. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




Silicon Valley embraces open source as a moneymaker
2014-06-14, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Silicon-Valley-embraces-open-source-as-a-5...

Open source is going commercial. Once an esoteric philosophy that called for people around the world to collectively create and give away software, Silicon Valley is increasingly embracing the open source ethos as a way to make money. To expand the small market for electric cars, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk this week said he would share the company's technology with competitors. He follows industry leaders like Google, which has long allowed outside companies to customize its mobile operating system at no charge. Even Facebook is extolling the virtues of open source, which enables outside programmers to spot security flaws and helps preserve a spirit of innovation. As defined by the Open Source Initiative, the phrase ... means people not only can access and modify software code but redistribute it for free. The valley is starting to sense that enforcing patents doesn't always make sense. "Patents are so incompatible with the open source software philosophy," said Daniel Nazer, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. That's Musk's mantra. The Tesla CEO didn't decide to give away his company's technology because he is a nice guy. Instead, Musk realized that electric cars won't gain mass acceptance if he is the only one making them. "Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport," Musk said this week. "If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property land mines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal."

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




Tesla: 'All our patents belong to you'
2014-06-13, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/tesla-all-our-patent...

Electric car manufacturer Tesla has confirmed that it will be opening up its patents to other manufacturers in order to boost the adoption and technological development of electric cars. Tesla’s billionaire founder Elon Musk said that the decision had been made “in the spirit of the open source movement” and “for the advancement of electric vehicle technology”. “If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal,” wrote Musk in a blog post announcing the move. Tesla's first electric car has been launched this month in the UK. The Tesla Model S, a luxury saloon car priced between £50,000 and £100,000, has a range of 300 miles and will be supported by a fledgling network of Tesla's 'supercharger' stations. Musk notes that there is a global fleet of some 2 billion cars with 100 million new vehicles added to this every year, and that if electric cars are to help address the carbon crisis they must be produced in far greater volumes than they are currently. In comparison Tesla only sold 22,500 Model S cars in 2013 and even the best-selling all-electric vehicle (the Nissan Leaf) has only sold 100,00 units. “Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day,” wrote Musk. “We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.”

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




Meet the New Heroes: Muhammad Yunus
2005-07-01, PBS
http://www.pbs.org/opb/thenewheroes/meet/yunus.html

Muhammad Yunus has had phenomenal success helping people lift themselves out of poverty in rural Bangladesh by providing them with credit without requiring collateral. Yunus developed his revolutionary micro-credit system with the belief that it would be a cost effective and scalable weapon to fight poverty. Yunus told his story and that of the bank in the book Banker to the Poor, co-authored [with] Alan Jolis. In the book, Yunus recalls that in 1974 he was teaching economics at Chittagong University in southern Bangladesh, when the country experienced a terrible famine in which thousands starved to death. As the famine worsened he began to dread his own lectures. "Nothing in the economic theories I taught reflected the life around me. How could I go on telling my students make believe stories in the name of economics? I needed to run away from these theories and from my textbooks and discover the real-life economics of a poor person's existence." Yunus went to the nearby village of Jobra where he learned the economic realities of the poor. Grameen Bank was born and an economic revolution had begun. The bank has provided $4.7 billion dollars to 4.4 million families in rural Bangladesh. With 1,417 branches, Grameen provides services in 51,000 villages, covering three quarters of all the villages in Bangladesh. Today, more than 250 institutions in nearly 100 countries operate micro-credit programs based on the Grameen Bank model, while thousands of other micro-credit programs have emulated, adapted or been inspired by the Grameen Bank.

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




Forget roofs, are solar roads the next big thing?
2014-05-20, Washington Post blog
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/05/20/forget-roofs-ar...

While the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that installing solar panels on every home in America would produce 3.75 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity a year, ... photovoltaics still account for no more than 1.13 percent of America’s power production. [What] can municipalities do? It’s not like they can pave the streets with solar panels. That’s where the husband and wife team of Scott and Julie Brusaw would beg to differ. Since the mid-2000's, Scott, an electrical engineer, and Julie, a psychotherapist, have been developing special solar cells encased in rugged, hexagonal-shaped glass. Lay enough of these mechanical cobblestones together and you’ve built yourself a kind of hybrid driveway/solar array. For the Brusaws, the prototype, while impressive, makes up but a tiny chunk of a much more ambitious vision. According to their calculations, covering the nation’s nearly 28,000 square miles worth of roads, highways and parking spaces with these special panels would produce three times the nation’s total energy consumption. [In their vision], the panels would serve as the foundation for a do-it-all “smart” roadway system that’s capable of not only harvesting energy, but also making roads safer by using heat to remove surface ice and lighting up dark pathways with embedded LEDs. The “Solar Roadway” project, which the Brusaws proposed, was promising enough that, in 2009, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration awarded them a series of contracts to further their concept.

Note: To watch the fun video about these solar roads, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Colorado River reaches gulf
2014-05-16, Washington Post/Associated Press
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/energy-environment/colorado-river-reac...

She wasn’t necessarily popping champagne Thursday, but conservationist Jennifer Pitt was certainly celebrating the arrival of water from the Colorado River into the Sea of Cortez. It was a monumental moment for conservationists, who said that water hasn’t flowed regularly from the Colorado River to the sea in more than 50 years. It temporarily reached the sea twice in the 1980s and last in 1993. “The pulse flow meeting the sea marks completion of a journey that the Colorado River has not made in a long time, and I take it as a sign of hope not only for our efforts to restore the Colorado River Delta, but also rivers and watersheds everywhere in the world where climate change promises an uncertain future,” said Pitt, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Colorado River Project. The water ... traveled nearly 100 miles from a previously barren delta at the Morelos Dam just south of where California, Arizona and Mexico meet. It was a result of a bi-national agreement that came together after years of negotiations. Enough water to supply over 200,000 homes for a year was released on March 23 in an effort to revive trees, wildlife and aquatic life that have perished since the delta dried up decades ago. Conservationists say it will be years before they see the environmental effects of the water streaming through, but residents in the town of San Luis Rio Colorado in the Mexican state of Sonora have been frolicking in the water and gathering at the river ever since the flow started.




EnerVault unveils 'flow battery' for solar energy storage
2014-05-22, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/EnerVault-unveils-flow-battery-for-sol...

In an almond orchard outside Turlock in the Central Valley, two large tanks hold water, minerals - and more importantly, energy. The tanks ... are part of a "flow battery" that stores energy from nearby solar panels. It's the largest battery of its kind in the world. And it could play a role in California's push to develop bigger and better ways to store large quantities of energy. This particular flow battery ... was built by EnerVault of Sunnyvale, part of the Bay Area's fast growing energy-storage industry. Like most of its competitors, EnerVault is young, founded in 2008, with about $30 million in venture funding to date. Some companies try to perfect the lithium-ion batteries found in laptops and electric cars. Others, including EnerVault and Primus Power of Hayward, specialize in flow batteries, which store energy in tanks of electrolytes. The fluid is then pumped through the battery's cells when power is needed. In contrast, the batteries found at a grocery store contain the electrolyte, cathode and anode all in one package. "Flow batteries are batteries turned inside out," said Jim Pape, EnerVault's chief executive officer. His company's flow batteries use iron and chromium, blended into the water inside its tanks. Both materials are safe to handle. Iron and chromium also have the benefit of being cheap. "That's our special sauce," Pape said. "Iron and chromium are very, very abundant, and abundance equals low cost."

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on exciting new energy developments, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Why teenagers aren't drinking and smoking like they used to
2013-12-26, The Week Magazine
https://theweek.com/article/index/254568/why-teenagers-arent-drinking-and-smo...

Teenage alcohol and tobacco use is at a historic low, according to a recent survey by the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The study, which surveyed teenagers from 1975 to 2012, revealed that young people are drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes less frequently than previous generations. The survey also showed that teens are less likely to experiment with unpredictable synthetic drugs ... but use cannabis more frequently. In the past year, high school students who reported smoking cigarettes in the previous 30 days declined from 10.6 percent to 9.6 percent — a statistically significant reduction. Teenage smoking peaked between 1996-1997 and the numbers have been steadily declining since, according to the survey. The use of synthetic marijuana (known as K-2 or Spice) and "bath salts" also sharply decreased among teens in the past year. Marijuana use, however, has been on the rise in recent years. The percentage of eighth grade students who have used marijuana in the previous 12 months rose from 11.4 to 12.7 and 10th grade students saw an increase from 28 to 29.8 percent. The survey seems to suggest that the increase is driven by students' perceived lack of risk in using marijuana. Most other individual illicit drugs did not see significant change. Alcohol use also saw a dramatic decline, particularly among younger teens. Alcohol use and binge drinking among the grades surveyed is at the lowest it has been since the 1990s.

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




The Kids Are More Than All Right
2012-02-02, New York Times blog
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/the-kids-are-more-than-all-right/

Every few years, parents find new reasons to worry about their teenagers. And while there is no question that some kids continue to experiment with sex and substance abuse, the latest data point to something perhaps more surprising: the current generation is, well, a bit boring when it comes to bad behavior. While marijuana use has recently had an uptick, teenagers are smoking far less pot than their parents did at the same age. In 1980, about 60 percent of high-school seniors had tried marijuana and 9 percent smoked it daily. Among seniors today, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, which has tracked teenage risk behaviors since 1975, 45.5 percent have tried the drug and 6.6 percent are smoking it frequently. Adolescent use of alcohol, tobacco and most illegal drugs is also far lower than it was 30 years ago. Today’s teenagers are also far less likely to have sex or get pregnant compared with their parent’s generation. In 1988, half of boys 15 to 17 had experienced sex; by 2010 that number fell to just 28 percent. The percentage of teenage girls having sex dropped to 27 percent from 37.2 percent, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What about TV shows like “Teen Mom” and “Gossip Girl” that suggest adolescence is dominated by sex and booze? “There is a lot more media hype around the kids who are raising hell,” says Dr. John Santelli, president-elect for the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. “There are a lot of kids who are pretty responsible.”

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




Farm-to-Table Living Takes Root
2014-03-11, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/dining/farm-to-table-living-takes-root.html

In ... this bedroom community outside Phoenix, amid precision-cut lawns and Craftsman-style homes, lambs caper in common green areas, chickens scratch in a citrus grove and residents roam rows of heirloom vegetables to see what might be good for dinner. The neighborhood is called Agritopia, and it’s one of a growing number of so-called agrihoods, residential developments where a working farm is the central feature, in the same way that other communities may cluster around a golf course, pool or fitness center. The real estate bust in 2008 halted new construction, but with the recovery, developers are again breaking ground on farm-focused tracts. At least a dozen projects across the country are thriving, enlisting thousands of home buyers who crave access to open space, verdant fields and fresh food. “I hear from developers all the time about this,” said Ed McMahon, a senior fellow for sustainable development at the Urban Land Institute. Sixteen of Agritopia’s 160 acres are certified organic farmland, with row crops (artichokes to zucchini), fruit trees (citrus, nectarine, peach, apple, olive and date) and livestock (chickens and sheep). Fences gripped by grapevines and blackberry bushes separate the farm from the community’s 452 single-family homes, each with a wide front porch and sidewalks close enough to encourage conversation. The hub of neighborhood life is a small square overlooking the farm, with a coffeehouse, farm-to-table restaurant and honor-system farm stand. The square is also where residents line up on Wednesday evenings to claim their bulging boxes of just-harvested produce, eggs and honey.

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




The brain injury that made me a math genius
2014-04-20, Salon
http://www.salon.com/2014/04/20/the_brain_injury_that_made_me_a_math_genius/

If you could see the world through my eyes, you would know how perfect it is, how much order runs through it, and how much structure is hidden in its tiniest parts. The universe itself and everything we can touch and all that we are is made of the most beautiful geometric patterns imaginable. I know because they’re right in front of me. Because of a traumatic brain injury, the result of a brutal physical attack, I’ve been able to see these patterns for over a decade. This change in my perception was really a change in my brain function, the result of the injury and the extraordinary and mostly positive way my brain healed. All of a sudden, the patterns were just . . . there, and I realize now that my injury was a rare gift. I’m lucky to have survived, but for me, the real miracle—what really saved me—was being introduced to and almost overwhelmed by the mathematical grace of the universe. Doctors tell me that nothing in my brain was newly created or added when I was injured. Rather, innate but dormant skills were released. This theory comes from psychiatrist Darold Treffert, who is considered the world’s leading authority on savants and acquired savants. He ... suggested that all of us have extraordinary skills just beneath the surface, much as birds innately know how to fly in a V-formation and fish know how to swim in a school. Why the brain suppresses these remarkable abilities is still a mystery, but sometimes, when the brain is diseased or damaged, it relents and unleashes the inner genius. This isn’t just my story. It’s the story of the potential secreted away in all of us.

Note: Excerpted from Struck By Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel by Jason Padgett and Maureen Seaberg. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Rivers' garbageman named CNN Hero of the Year
2013-11-19, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/19/world/hero-of-the-year/index.html

Chad Pregracke, an Illinois man who has dedicated his life to cleaning the Mississippi River and other U.S. waterways, is the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year. Pregracke organizes community cleanups across the country through his nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters. About 70,000 volunteers have pitched in, helping Pregracke collect more than 7 million pounds of trash in the past 15 years. "The garbage got into the water one piece at a time," Pregracke said earlier this year. "And that's the only way it's going to come out." "I'll just keep on cleaning up America's rivers and loving every minute of it," said Pregracke when he accepted the award. During the show, Pregracke pledged to spread some of his Hero of the Year money to the rest of the top 10 Heroes: "I've met so many great people today, the other Heroes, and I'm really moved by all their stories and all the things they do around the world. ... I'm going to give 10 grand to each of them, because they're awesome." Pregracke, 38, grew up in East Moline, Illinois, where the Mississippi River was in his backyard. As a teenager, he worked as a commercial shell diver and began to notice the heaps of debris in the fabled waterway, which supplies drinking water to 18 million people in more than 50 U.S. cities. "I saw thousands of barrels, thousands of tires, cars, trucks and tops of school buses. ... I got sick of seeing it and just wanted to do something about it," said Pregracke. For nine months out of the year, Pregracke lives on a barge with members of his 12-person crew. They go around the country with a fleet of boats, and they try to make cleanup fun for the volunteers who show up in each city.

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




10 ways to keep your diet GMO-free
2014-03-25, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/25/health/upwave-gmo-free-diet/index.html

Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods and founding executive director of The Institute for Responsible Technology, a leading source of GMO-health-risk information, says several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. In fact, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has asked physicians to advise all patients to avoid genetically modified foods altogether. Ready to go GMO free? Here are 10 ways to shop smarter: 1. Go organic. The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit GMOs, so shopping organic is a great way to avoid them. 2. Load up on fruits and veggies. Most fresh produce is non-GMO, says Smith, but zucchini, yellow summer squash, edamame, sweet corn and papaya from Hawaii or China are considered high risk and are best avoided. Only buy those high-risk fruits and vegetables if they are labeled "organic" or "non-GMO," he advises. 3. Look for the non-GMO-verified seal. Since GMOs require no labeling, this seal is one of the best ways to tell when foods are free of genetic modification. 4. Join the Tipping Point Campaign. This network of local activists is working to educate communities on the dangers of GMOs. 5. Beware of additives. The five most common GMOs -- corn, canola, soy, cotton and sugar beets -- often end up as additives (in the form of corn syrup, oil, sugar, flavoring agents or thickeners) in packaged foods.

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




Netherlands face prison undercrowding crisis
2014-04-11, CBS News/Associated Press
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/netherlands-face-prison-undercrowding-crisis/

The Dutch government is facing an unusual crisis: Prison undercrowding. There are now more guards and other prison staff than there are prisoners in the Netherlands for the first time, according to data released by the Justice Ministry. In 2008, there were around 15,000 inmates, in a country of 17 million. As of March of this year, there were just 9,710 inmates remaining, compared with 9,914 guards. And the number of inmates included 650 Belgian criminals the Netherlands is housing as part of a temporary deal. In the U.S., the figure is more like one guard or staff member per five prisoners. The overall U.S. incarceration rate is more than 10 times higher. Justice Ministry spokesman Jochgem van Opstal said "we're studying what the reason for the decline is." The ministry is already in the process of closing prisons and cutting 3,500 staff. Last week, labor union Abvakabo FNV slammed the cuts, saying they were leading to "staffing shortages." "At this moment you can't say there is any safety in Dutch prisons," union leader Corrie van Brenk said in an interview with Dutch broadcaster NOS. "It's an explosive situation." The government has rejected the criticism, saying violent incidents at prisons have been declining. One change politicians are considering is ending a practice of granting probation to criminals once they have served two-thirds of their sentences.

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




GoldieBlox Helping to Build a Generation of Female Engineers
2013-09-04, ABC News blog
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/lifestyle/2013/09/goldieblox-helping-to-build-a-g...

Debbie Sterling is on a mission to build up girls by breaking down a few barriers. Fed up with the lack of women in her engineering field (the latest studies from the National Science Foundation show that 11 percent of engineers of women), Sterling, a graduate of Stanford University, came up with an idea after coming across research that kids’ toys could have a huge impact on their career choices. She set her sights on building a construction toy for girls after visiting a toy store. “I was so disappointed that there weren’t things that would inspire girls to [use] their brains,” Sterling, 30, said. "I wanted to put something in there that girls can see that they too could find a passion in engineering and that they too could find these subjects fun.” And so the idea for GoldieBlox, toys that encourage girls to not just play with dollhouses but build them, was born. “In creating the GoldieBlox character, I wanted to make a character that girls could relate to,” Sterling said. “She’s feminine and she loves building.” To fund the dream, to the tune of $150,000, Sterling made a plea, complete with a video, on Kickstarter. The money started flooding in. “We reached our goal in four days,” she said, “and ended up almost doubling it by the end.” GoldieBlox is now sold in about 500 independent stores in the United States and Canada, and even at Toys R Us. Sterling said her toys had been consistently in the Top 20 best-selling toys on Amazon. "I firmly believe that in my own lifetime I’m going to see a huge shift,” Sterling said. “I’m going to see an enormous shift of more girls entering these fields, inventing amazing things, with men.”

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




California drought: Solar desalination plant shows promise
2014-03-18, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/California-drought-Solar-desalination-p...

Quietly whirring away in a dusty field in the Central Valley is a shiny solar energy machine that may someday solve many of California's water problems. It's called the WaterFX solar thermal desalination plant, and it has been turning salty, contaminated irrigation runoff into ultra-pure liquid for nearly a year for the Panoche Water and Drainage District. It's the only solar-driven desalination plant of its kind in the country. Right now its efforts produce just 14,000 gallons a day. But within a year, WaterFX intends to begin expanding that one small startup plant into a sprawling collection of 36 machines that together can pump out 2 million gallons of purified water daily. Within about five years, WaterFX company co-founder Aaron Mandell hopes to be processing 10 times that amount throughout the San Joaquin Valley. And here's the part that gets the farmers who buy his water most excited: His solar desalination plant produces water that costs about a quarter of what more conventionally desalinated water costs: $450 an acre-foot versus $2,000 an acre-foot. That brings Mandell's water cost close to what farmers are paying, in wet years, for water from the Panoche and other valley districts - about $300 an acre-foot. And that makes it a more economically attractive option than any of the 17 conventional desalination plants planned throughout California. If Mandell can pull it off, the tiny farming town where he is starting his enterprise could be known as ground zero for one of the most revolutionary water innovations in the state's history.

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




Catholics, Anglicans, and Muslims join to fight world slavery
2014-03-17, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0317/Catholics-Anglican...

Christians and Muslims have joined to try to help free millions of men, women and children held in modern-day slavery, forced to work as maids, prostitutes, child soldiers and manual laborers. The Global Freedom Network, launched [on March 17] at the Vatican, aims to eradicate slavery by encouraging governments, businesses, educational and faith institutions to rid their supply chains of slave labor. The initiative is the brainchild of billionaire Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, who founded the Walk Free Foundation in 2012 to mobilize a grass-roots movement to end slavery. Forrest, ranked 270th on Forbes' list of the world's richest people, used personal contacts to bring the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church, 85-million strong Anglican Communion, and al-Azhar university in Cairo, the world's foremost seat of Sunni learning, on board with the initiative. Representatives from all three gathered ... at the Vatican to sign an agreement to launch the project, which will be based at the Vatican and have a chief executive responsible for implementing a five-year business plan. Objectives include getting the G20 to condemn modern-day slavery, persuading 50 major corporations to commit to slavery-proofing their supply chains, and convincing 160 governments to endorse a seven-year, $100 million fundraising effort to implement anti-slavery programs globally.

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