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.

Torture tests say battery power's hardly nerdy
2009-03-30, Boston Globe
http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2009/03/30/torture_tests_s...

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)
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4717864.ece

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
http://www.uwo.ca/kings/ccjl/docs/catholic_docs/assisi/assisi.html

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
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/5203120.stm

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
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/articles/2008/04/13/in_rwanda_visionary_docto...

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
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/29/AR20071229018...

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
http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Story?id=2643340

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
http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2007/07/29/for_this_club_life_b...

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)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,1409903,00.html

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
http://select.nytimes.com/2007/01/30/opinion/30kristof.html

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)
http://www.thestar.com/News/article/171898

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.




Chocolate consumption and Nobel Prizes: A bizarre juxtaposition if there ever was one
2012-11-20, Scientific American Blog
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2012/11/20/choco...

What makes a Nobel Prize winner? There's several suggested factors: Perseverance? Good luck? Good mentors and students? Here’s one possible factor that I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams; chocolate consumption. Chocolate consumption tracks well with the number of Nobel Laureates produced by a country. At least that's what a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine - one of the world’s premier journals of medical research - claims. The paper starts by assuming ... that winning a Nobel Prize must somehow be related to cognitive ability. It then goes on to describe a link between flavanols - organic molecules found among other foods in chocolate, green tea and red wine - and cognitive ability. From this idea the author basically jumps to the dubious and frankly bizarre question of whether chocolate consumption could possibly account for Nobel Prize winning ability. The hypothesis is testable, so the author decides to simply plot the number of Nobel prize winners per 10 million people in different countries counted from 1900-2011 vs the chocolate consumption in those countries. A plot of chocolate consumption vs number of Nobel Prizes reveals a strong correlation of 0.79. The most likely explanation for that correlation is that it's caused by a third factor.

Note: Check out the fascinating chart mentioned above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




American Wins International Children's Peace Prize
2014-11-18, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/american-teen-makes-history-wins-international...

Neha Gupta became the first ever American today to be awarded the Children’s International Peace Prize in The Hague, Netherlands. The prize is awarded annually to a child, anywhere in the world, for his or her dedication to children’s rights. Gupta began her astounding work when she was just a child herself, visiting her parents' native India nine years ago. Carrying out a family tradition of celebrating birthdays by delivering gifts to orphans, she was struck by the condition these children were living in. "The place was just really in shambles," Gupta told Saulny. "I didn't want to accept these things. These are things I wanted to fix." She moved to fix them quickly, any way that she could. Back home in Pennsylvania, she made a bold move, deciding to sell all of her toys to raise money for the orphans she had met in India. "We just put it out on our driveway and people came, bought things and it turned out to be such a successful event,” Gupta said. “From that one event we raised $700 and I’ve wanted to keep going.” Gupta kept going, selling crafts door to door and collecting corporate donations in her dad’s SUV. Nine years later, now an 18-year-old college student, she runs Empower Orphans, a global charity that has raised $1.3 million. The organization reaches orphans in the U.S. and abroad, helping to build classrooms, buy books, equip computer labs, pay for health exams, supply water and buy sewing machines to empower other young women to start their own businesses. Despite all of her extraordinary successes, Gupta describes herself as just an ordinary teenager who found her calling early in life. That bit of serendipity has touched the lives of more than 25,000 children so far.

Note: Don't miss an inspiring video on this beautiful woman and the way she is changing the world.




McDonald’s to use chicken without human antibiotics
2015-03-04, Boston Globe
http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/03/04/mcdonalds/xkNOfhlMQAE65D7KgwYd...

McDonald’s said on Wednesday that its 14,000 US restaurants will stop serving chicken raised with antibiotics "important to human medicine," a significant change in food policy for the world’s largest fast-food chain. McDonald’s said the decision is an attempt to adapt to diners’ desire for healthier food.‘‘Our customers want food that they feel great about eating — all the way from the farm to the restaurant — and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations,’’ McDonald’s US president, Mike Andres, said in a statement. McDonald’s said the new policy will be implemented across its US supply chain within two years. Also, McDonald’s said that this year it will begin offering milk jugs in its Happy Meals that contain milk from cows that have not been treated with the growth hormone rbST. Public health advocates cheered the move, and some groups, including Keep Antibiotics Working, said they had been in ‘‘close dialogue’’ with McDonald’s about the policy change.

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




Top US academic: 'Let me be lashed instead of Saudi blogger'
2015-02-28, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/11362384/Top...

A group of top American intellectuals have volunteered to "take" the 1,000 lash sentence imposed by the Saudi government on a prominent liberal blogger. Raif Badawi ... received the sentence for insulting his country's hardline Islamic clerics. The move, which follows widespread international outrage at the sentence, is being led by Robert P. George, a leading professor at Princeton University. Professor George said: "Together with six colleagues on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, I sent a letter to the Saudi Ambassador to the US calling on the Saudi government to stop the horrific torture of Raif Badawi — an advocate of religious freedom and freedom of expression in the Saudi Kingdom. If the Saudi government refuses, we each asked to take 100 of Mr. Badawi's lashes so that we could suffer with him. The seven of us include Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, Christians, Jews, and a Muslim." Mr Badawi, 31, who set up a liberal website to discuss Saudi politics in which he criticised the country’s hardline religious establishment, has been sentenced to ten years in prison as well as 1,000 lashes. So harsh is the flogging that it has to be administered in individual sessions of 50 lashes a time in order to stop the recipient dying or suffering serious injury during the process. The first bout of 50 lashes was dished out to Mr Badawi on January 9, before hundreds of spectators in a public square in front of a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The date for a second set of lashes has so far been postponed as doctors have said that Mr Badawi's injuries from the first flogging have not yet healed.

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




OpenGov co-founder Zac Bookman lets taxpayers see where cash goes
2015-02-02, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/visionaryoftheyear/article/OpenGov-co-founder-Zac-Bookm...

Sometimes people laugh when Zac Bookman tells them what his company, OpenGov does. Not out of mockery. Out of disbelief that a website — or, really, anything — can make it easier to track how the government spends trillions of dollars of their tax money. Users [of OpenGov] can easily share what they find with friends — or push back on government officials to question their spending. Still, Bookman hears doubters. Cynicism runs deep, especially when it involves government becoming more transparent. Bookman ... understands their skepticism. People have lost faith in government officials to improve their lives. “People don’t think of (government) as an industry, but it is,” said Bookman, whom Ronnie Lott nominated for the first Chronicle and St. Mary’s College Visionary of the Year award. “Our software allows you to see where the money goes.” $7 trillion in public dollars ... flows through federal, state and local government entities, from big cities to mosquito abatement districts. Much of it is hidden in plain sight, virtually inaccessible to the public because of user-unfriendly tech interfaces. But now more than 250 government organizations are using [OpenGov], including the city of Los Angeles. There is a bipartisan appeal to this sort of transparency. Conservatives like it because it helps to highlight where to cut government fat, while liberals buy into it because this sort of tool can quantify the value of government services. OpenGov is attempting to ... make this very complex data usable by people who are not financial experts.

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




Teacher Has Students Write Letters To Their Future Selves, Then Posts Them 20 Years Later
2014-12-15, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/12/15/teacher-has-students-write-letter-...

For decades, American high school teacher Bruce Farrer has been asking his students to write letters to their future selves. 20 years later, he tracks down the students and posts their letters to them. Speaking in a video for US airline West Jet, Farrer says that the letters have become more valuable because we now communicate far less by letters than we did 20 years ago. He created the assignment because he wanted his students to do an exercise "that was different, that would be interesting and one that they would value". An old pupil of Farrer says when he was asked to write a 10 page letter to his future self, he thought it was "a lesson just to pass the time, to keep us busy for a few hours while he did other things". He now understands what a dedicated teacher Farrer was. Of course, tracking down your students 20 years after teaching them is a challenging task. Farrer describes it as "a lot of detective work" but he is excited to find out the different paths his ex-pupils have taken. The video shows the reactions of some of Farrer's old students upon opening their letters. One describes it as an "emotional roller-coaster" as she reads about the passing of her grandmother and aunt, experienced through the eyes of her younger self. Despite the profound effect that receiving the letters has on its recipients, Farrer remains modest about his diligence and commitment. "I'm just a regular teacher who happened to assign a rather different assignment", he says.

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




Can life in a nursing home be made uplifting and purposeful?
2014-10-04, The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/11139446/Can-life-in-a-nursing-home-...

In 1991, in the tiny town of New Berlin, in upstate New York, a young physician named Bill Thomas ... had just taken a new job as medical director of Chase Memorial Nursing Home. More farmer than doctor, [Thomas] had a Paul Bunyan beard and was more apt to wear overalls beneath his white coat than a tie. From the first day on the job, he felt the stark contrast between the giddy, thriving abundance of life that he experienced on his farm and the confined, institutionalised absence of life that he encountered every time he went to work. So, acting on little more than instinct, he decided to try to put some life into the nursing home. They moved in ... one hundred parakeets, four dogs, two cats, plus a colony of rabbits and a flock of laying hens. [They also planted] hundreds of indoor plants and a thriving vegetable and flower garden, [and introduced] on-site child care for the staff. Researchers studied the effects of this programme over two years, comparing a variety of measures for Chase’s residents with those of residents at another nursing home nearby. Their study found that the number of prescriptions required per resident fell to half that of the control nursing home. The total drug costs fell to only 38 per cent of the comparison facility. Deaths fell 15 per cent. The study couldn’t say why. But Thomas thought he could.

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




Laws of Physics Can’t Trump the Bonds of Love
2012-12-24, New York Times
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com//2012/12/24/laws-of-physics-cant-trump-the-bond...

Jeffrey Wright is well known around his high school in Louisville, Ky., for his antics as a physics teacher. But it is a simple lecture — one without props or fireballs — that leaves the greatest impression on his students each year. The talk is about Mr. Wright’s son and the meaning of life, love and family. Each year, Mr. Wright gives a lecture on his experiences as a parent of a child with special needs. His son, Adam, now 12, has a rare disorder called Joubert syndrome, in which the part of the brain related to balance and movement fails to develop properly. Visually impaired and unable to control his movements, Adam breathes rapidly and doesn’t speak. Mr. Wright ... recalls the day Adam was born, and the sadness he felt when he learned of his condition. “The whole thing about where the universe came from? I didn’t care. I started asking myself, what was the point of it?” All that changed one day when Mr. Wright ... realized that his son could see and play — that the little boy had an inner life. He and his wife, Nancy, began teaching Adam simple sign language. One day, his son signed “I love you.” “There is something a lot greater than energy. There’s something a lot greater than entropy. What’s the greatest thing?” “Love,” his students whisper. “That’s what makes the ‘why’ we exist,” Mr. Wright tells the spellbound students.

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Pledge 1% Program wants to help companies become more charitable
2014-12-02, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Pledge-1-Program-want-to-help-companie...

A campaign launching Tuesday aims to get growing businesses to do what San Francisco’s Salesforce.com did in its infancy 15 years ago: Promise to donate 1 percent of its equity, 1 percent of its employees’ time and 1 percent of the firm’s products to charity. Called the Pledge 1% Program — and led by Salesforce and others — it aims to get 500 other corporations to do the same over the next year. Those who have bought into the idea have seen other benefits. “It’s good for business, too,” said Bradley Heinz, program manager at Optimizely.org. The San Francisco company — which includes several top execs who used to work at Salesforce — is participating in the program. If a younger company can make philanthropy part of its DNA when it is smaller, it will become a way of life as it grows. It is somewhat easier to convince a young firm to volunteer time and offer its product at a deeply discounted rate. San Francisco’s income inequality divide — the fastest-growing in the country — is inspiring other growing companies to look at what they can do to help. Employees at Practice Fusion, a cloud medical records company in San Francisco, decided that they would take $50,000 that would have been used for their holiday gift and give it to the poor. “People were not that into the gifts and schwag,” said Practice Fusion CEO Ryan Howard. “They wanted to give back.”

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