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.

Mysterious ingredients vanish from food labels
2013-12-18, Boston Globe/Associated Press
http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/12/18/food-labels-get-closer-look-in...

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.

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




'Afterlife' feels 'even more real than real,' researcher says
2013-04-09, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/09/health/belgium-near-death-experiences

If your hospital is in Belgium, Dr. Steven Laureys may pay you a visit, interested to hear what you remember from your NDE, or near-death experience. Laureys heads the Coma Science Group at the university hospital in the city of Liege. NDEs feel "even more real than real," Laureys said. Laureys and his team studied the near-death memories of people who survived -- in particular those of coma patients -- with the help of a psychological examination. The Memory Characteristics Questionnaire tests for sensory and emotional details of recollections and how people relive them in space and time. In other words, it gauges how present, intense and real a memory is. They compared NDEs with other memories of intense real-life events like marriages and births, but also with memories of dreams and thoughts. Memories of important real-life events are more intense than those of dreams or thoughts, Laureys said. "If you use this questionnaire ... if the memory is real, it's richer, and if the memory is recent, it's richer," he said. "To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors," Laureys reported. The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. "The difference was so vast," he said with a sense of astonishment. Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich "as though it was yesterday," Laureys said. "Sometimes, it is hard for them (the patients) to find words to explain it."

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




The Science Of Conquering Your Fears -- And Living A More Courageous Life
2013-09-15, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/15/conquering-fear_n_3909020.html

Aristotle believed courage to be the most important quality in a man. “Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible," he wrote. Recent research has begun to move toward an understanding of what courage is and how we might be able to cultivate the ability to face our fear and make decisions with greater fortitude. Neuroscientists recently determined just how courage works in the brain, finding that a region called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) is the driving force behind courageous acts -- a conclusion which could one day prove useful in treating anxiety disorders. So how can we train our minds to act more courageously in everyday life? Other recent research on courage [has] shown that's it's not just about facing fear, but also about coping with risk and uncertainty (as Ernest Hemingway put it, courage is "grace under pressure.") And, it seems, we can make ourselves more courageous with practice and effort. Six tried-and-true ways to loosen the grip of fear on your life -- and become more courageous than you ever imagined: Be vulnerable. Acknowledge your fears. Expose yourself to what you fear. Think positive. Manage stress [with exercise and meditation]. Practice courageous acts.

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




Small-house movement: Living in 120 square feet
2013-12-12, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Small-house-movement-Living-in-120-s...

Jay Shafer sweats the small stuff. Hopping into a waist-high metal bathtub smaller than a shower stall, Shafer swung a faucet over his head to demonstrate how one bathes in the combination tub/shower/sink. Gesturing at the composting toilet a foot away, he added: "This bathroom is the part of this house I'm proudest of. It was inspired by the Japanese model of being very compact and very efficient. The whole room is 11 square feet, smaller than a standard closet." Thinking small, targeting simplicity and paying meticulous attention to detail exemplify Shafer's craft: designing tiny houses. The Sonoma County resident is considered a father of the tiny house movement, a burgeoning trend to live more efficiently in less space. "Jay articulated and popularized a philosophy of live small, live debt free, and have more time and freedom to pursue your life's passions," said Ryan Mitchell, editor of TheTinyLife.com, a website dedicated to living in small-scale structures. "He backed it up with some really attractive designs." From a 119-square-foot house in Graton, Shafer, 49, writes books about small dwellings; whips up blueprints for Craftsman-style houses ranging from 98 to 288 square feet; plans weekend workshops for DIYers; and sketches out his latest brainstorm: an entire village with dozens of tiny dwellings, each less than 400 square feet, plus a larger common house and other shared amenities, to be erected in Sonoma County. In fact, the county is a hotbed of the small-house movement, with an annual exhibit at the Sonoma County Fair, several small-house companies and at least 100 tiny dwellings.

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




Stories of life, death and faith: 'To Heaven and Back' - Mary Neal
2013-11-29, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/29/us/to-heaven-and-back

It was January 14, 1999, and Mary Neal ... crested at the top of the first big drop in the river. She looked down into what she later described as a bottomless pit. Then she went over. The front end of her boat got pinned in the rocks, submerging her in the water. Pinned in the boat and out of air, Neal started to give up. "I really gave it all over to God, and I really said, 'Your will be done,'" she said. [She] was sucked out of the bottom of the boat by the current -- with her legs bending back over her knees. "I could feel the bones breaking. I could feel the ligaments and the tissue tearing. I felt my spirit peeling away from my body, sort of like peeling two pieces of tape," Neal recounted. As one of her friends grabbed her wrist to try to pull her out of the water, Neal realized she was outside her body watching the rescue effort. "I could see them pull my body to the shore. I could see them start CPR," she said. "I had no pulse, and I wasn't breathing. One fellow was yelling at me to come back. ...My body was purple and bloated. My pupils were fixed and dilated." She watched people work on her, but she felt none of it. "When I saw my body, I actually thought 'Well, I guess I am dead. I guess I really did die,'" Neal said. As she watched, she said she was met by "these people or these spirits" who started to guide her toward a brightly lit path toward what appeared to be a domed structure. "It was exploding, not just with light and brilliance and color but with love," she said. There, she spoke with the spirits. They told her it was not her time to die, that she still had a job to finish, Neal said. Then she was back in her body, breathing again. Those involved estimate that Neal had been without oxygen for 30 minutes.

Note: Don't miss the highly inspiring four-minute interview with Mary Neal at the link above. Another CNN interview of seven minutes is available here. For more, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles on near-death experiences, click here.




Peaceable Kingdom's games emphasize cooperation
2013-11-27, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Peaceable-Kingdom-s-games-emphasize-co...

"Feed the Woozle" and "Hoot Owl Hoot!" are the top-selling titles from Berkeley's Peaceable Kingdom, which is making a name for itself with games for toddlers and families that emphasize cooperation over competition. The small, family-owned business tries to promote the value and fun of everyone working together. Its line of games is staunchly nondigital, encouraging face-to-face interactions instead of "screen time." "Cooperative games are a microcosm of how children can play differently," said company president Donna Jaffe. Child-development experts say the community-focused games can play a valuable role, teaching shared decision-making and problem-solving. "They have a lot of merit for classroom and family use," said Berkeley's Stevanne Auerbach, who reviews playthings at www.drtoy.com. "Kids can cut out the one-upmanship and learn to develop strategies and friendly connections. Many parents want their children to have the experience of playing games without feeling as if they have to win or lose." "Their games are in my therapy bag all the time," said Sherry Artemenko, a Connecticut speech pathologist who reviews games at www.playonwords.com. "Kids learn to help each other and work as a team. There's a lot of learning involved: You talk to each other, take different actions. There are visual skills as well as math and language." With slightly more than $5 million in sales, Peaceable Kingdom is minute compared with giants like Hasbro and Mattel. It has eschewed mass-market retailers like Target and Toys R Us, instead sticking to smaller local toy stores and some chains like Barnes & Noble and Pottery Barn.

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




The Pope’s bold new vision
2013-11-26, CNN blog
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/26/the-popes-bold-new-vision/

Pope Francis on [November 26] issued a bold new document – in Vatican parlance an “apostolic exhortation” – called Evangelii Gaudium or “The Joy of the Gospel.” In this document, he sets out an exciting new vision of how to be a church. It is to be a joyful community of believers completely unafraid of the modern world, completely unafraid of change and completely unafraid of challenges. The exhortation [expresses] an overriding concern for the poor in the world. Francis champions an idea that has lately been out of favor: the church’s “preferential option” for the poor. “God’s heart has a special place for the poor,” the Pope says. But it is not enough simply to say that God loves the poor in a special way and leave it at that. We must be also vigilant in our care and advocacy for them. Everyone must do this, says the Pope. “None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice.” And in case anyone misses the point, after a critique of the “idolatry of money” and an “economy of exclusion,” the Pope says: “The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings.” This does not mean simply caring for the poor, it means addressing the structures that keep them poor: “The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed.”

Note: For how you can help to end poverty through microlending, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Occupy Wall Street activists buy $15m of Americans' personal debt
2013-11-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/12/occupy-wall-street-activists-15m...

A group of Occupy Wall Street activists has bought almost $15m of Americans' personal debt over the last year as part of the Rolling Jubilee project to help people pay off their outstanding credit. Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy's Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012. The group purchases personal debt cheaply from banks before "abolishing" it, freeing individuals from their bills. By purchasing the debt at knockdown prices the group has managed to free $14,734,569.87 of personal debt, mainly medical debt, spending only $400,000. "We thought that the ratio would be about 20 to 1," said Andrew Ross, a member of Strike Debt and professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University. "In fact we've been able to buy debt a lot more cheaply than that." The Rolling Jubilee project was mostly conceived as a "public education project", Ross said. "Our purpose in doing this, aside from helping some people along the way – there's certainly many, many people who are very thankful that their debts are abolished – our primary purpose was to spread information about the workings of this secondary debt market." The group has ... acquired the $14.7m in three separate purchases, most recently purchasing the value of $13.5m on medical debt owed by 2,693 people across 45 states and Puerto Rico, Rolling Jubilee said in a press release. “No one should have to go into debt or bankruptcy because they get sick,” said Laura Hanna, an organiser with the group. Hanna said 62% of all personal bankruptcies have medical debt as a contributing factor.

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




Richie Parker, Star NASCAR Engineer At Hendrick Motorsports, Doesn't Have Arms
2013-07-23, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/23/richie-parker-nascar-engineer-withou...

The fact that Richie Parker can ride a bike doesn't sound impressive -- until you see him do it. Same goes for the car repairs he makes using power tools. Parker was born without arms, a disability he's overcome time and time again, ultimately leading him to his job engineering chassis and body components for Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR's most winning organization. "Based on his resume, I knew he could do the things that I needed him to do, it was more a question of how,” Rex Stump, engineering manager at Hendrick, said of Parker. Just like every other hurdle in his life, Parker found a way, placing the keyboard and mouse on the floor, then operating both with his feet to build custom high-performance automotive parts. His story has also inspired countless others, not the least of [whom] is Magic Johnson. After watching [an] ESPN segment [on Parker], the retired NBA star tweeted, "Richie Parker's story proves that you can do anything you set your mind to. We should all stop complaining and giving excuses." Or, as Parker says, "I don't know there's a lot in life ... that I'd say I can't do. Just things I haven't done yet."

Note: Don't miss the most awesome video of Richie at the link above. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Piano inspires 17-year-old to invent land-mine detector
2012-04-03, NBC News
http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/piano-inspires-17-year-old-invent-land-mine...

17-year-old Marian Bechtel might live in Pennsylvania, where land mines are not a common occurrence, but she has still managed to invent the prototype for a brand-new minesweeper. The device, [with a] cost far lower than current technology, uses sound waves to figure out where the deadly devices are. The combination of sensitive microphones and a seismic vibrator connected to a standard metal detector was tested, successfully, on mock plastic and metal land mines. It was a finalist in the recently concluded 2012 Intel Science Talent Search. The project was inspired by family connections and a lucky flash of inspiration. "My parents are both geologists," she says. "Years ago they got connected with an international group of scientists working on a project called RASCAN, developing a holographic radar device for detecting land mines. During the summer before eighth grade, I met all of these scientists and talked with them about their work and the land mine issue. I was really touched and inspired by what they had to say, and wanted to get involved in science and possibly land mine detection. I noticed that when I played certain chords or notes on the piano, the strings on a nearby banjo would resonate," says Bechtel. "I heard this, and it was almost like the story of the apple falling on Newton’s head -- I thought that maybe I could use the same principle to find landmines. So, I began doing research and talking with scientists in humanitarian de-mining and acoustics; three years later I had built a prototype."

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




Malala Yousafzai wows 'The Daily Show'
2013-10-10, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/10/10/malala-jon-stewart-daily-...

Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai ... is a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize for her courage in the face of death threats in her home country of Pakistan over her advocacy of education for girls. On Thursday, she won the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Malala was shot in the head and neck one year ago on her school bus by a gunman who was sent by the Taliban, the Muslim clerical group that believes in adherence to a strict version of Islamic law. Where it can, the Taliban has imposed rules forbidding girls from going to school, listening to music or taking most jobs. Malala, who lives in England now, told Stewart that she was stunned when she was told as a 14-year-old girl that the Taliban had issued a death threat against her for her activism and for her blog on the BBC, in which she wrote about how hard it was to live under strict Muslim rule as a girl. "I just could not believe it, I said no, it's not true," she said, saying she thought the Taliban would instead come after her father, who operates a school and opened up his classes to girls. "We thought the Taliban were not that much cruel that they would kill a child." After she was shot, she was allowed to go to Britain for brain surgery. She now lives outside London with her family. Though the Taliban has threatened her life again, she says striking back at them would not help. "If you hit a Talib, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib," she said. "You must not treat others with cruelty. … You must fight others through peace and through dialogue and through education."

Note: You can watch portions of this inspiring show at the link above and at this link. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




New Yorkers 'pay it forward' after 9/11
2013-09-10, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/10/us/cnnheroes-parness-sandy/index.html

Some New Yorkers mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks by going to a memorial service or observing a moment of silence. For the past 10 years, Jeff Parness has been helping others. Every September, Parness brings hundreds of volunteers from New York to help another disaster-stricken community in the United States. "It was our way of saying, you know, New Yorkers will never forget what people from around the country and the world did for us in our time of need after 9/11," said Parness. "So that's how the mission started. It was just to pay forward the kindness that we experienced." Over the past decade, Parness' nonprofit, New York Says Thank You, has assisted victims of wildfires in San Diego, tornadoes in the Midwest and Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Many of those who receive help are so inspired that they travel across the country the next year -- often at their own expense -- to volunteer with Parness' group and help someone else. The result is a unique disaster-response organization. "All of our volunteers are survivors. They survived, whether it was 9/11 or Katrina or tornadoes. So they all share that common bond," said Parness, who quit his job as a venture capitalist to work on his nonprofit full-time. This year, Parness' mission has come full circle. Last weekend, more than 300 volunteers -- at least half of whom were from outside the New York area -- helped rebuild 13 homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy in October. For Parness, a native New Yorker, the work carried extra significance.

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




Two in a Million: Danny and Annie Perasa
2006-02-24, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2006/02/24/5230164/two-in-a-million-danny-and-annie-perasa

The story of Danny and Annie Perasa — how they met, and how they've stayed in love — inspires many who hear it. Their joy in life, and in one another, was celebrated recently in New York, where a crowd gathered to honor Danny and Annie. The Perasas are a memorable couple. In person, they come off like a pair of favorite grandparents, with thoughtful wisecracks and stories that take unpredictable turns. They say their affinity for one another was always obvious. Their enthusiasm has now been honored in a tangible way. The StoryCorps oral history project has dedicated its booth in Grand Central Terminal to the Perasas. On Friday, Feb. 10, a plaque was unveiled that dedicated the booth to the Perasas. The plaque reads: "This booth is dedicated to Danny and Annie Perasa, who recorded their story here on January 6, 2004. Their humor, heart, eloquence and love will never be forgotten." The couple made the trip to the ceremony despite Danny's illness: suffering from pancreatic cancer, he is currently in hospice care. Their visit was a treat for those present, as the Perasas revisited the conversation they had that day in 2004, and the life they've shared since 1978.

Note: For a very touching six-minute NPR video on this true story of beautiful marriage, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution
2010-10-24, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/magazine/24volunteerism-t.html?pagewanted=all

It’s striking that the most innovative activists aren’t necessarily the ones with the most resources, or the best tools. Maggie Doyne epitomizes this truth, for she began her philanthropic work as an 19-year-old financed by her baby-sitting savings. Yet she has somehow figured out how to run a sophisticated aid project in a remote area of Nepal. She took a “gap year” after high-school graduation and ended up in northern India, working with needy children. “The first little girl I met was Hema,” Doyne remembers. Then 6 or 7 years old (few children know their precise age), Hema spent her time breaking rocks and scavenging garbage and had no chance to go to school. Doyne, who decided to take Hema under her wing and pay for her education: “I knew I couldn’t do anything about a million orphans, but what if I started with this girl?” So she took Hema to school and paid $7 for the girl’s school fees and another $8 for a uniform so that she could enter kindergarten. “It became addictive,” Doyne said. “I said, if I can help one girl, why not 5? Why not 10? And along with scholarships, they needed the most basic things: food, shelter, clothing.” Doyne ... telephoned her parents with a strange and urgent request: Can you wire me the money in my savings account? Doyne returned to New Jersey and began to take odd jobs and proselytize for her shelter. People in her hometown thought that she was nuts, but in a benign way — and they wrote checks. After a few months, when Doyne had raised $25,000, she moved back to Nepal to oversee construction of the shelter, called the Kopila Valley Children’s Home.

Note: For a beautiful slide show of Maggie's work, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Public Displays of Meditation
2011-07-29, Utne Reader Magazine
http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/public-displays-of-meditation.aspx#axzz2fAO...

It was the om heard ’round the world. Yesterday in 108 cities—from London to Los Angeles, Hong Kong to Houston, Barcelona to Birmingham, and more—“MedMob” groups participated in large-scale displays of meditation. Playing off of the flash mob concept, in which strangers organize online, arrange to meet at a specific time and place, and then perform an unexpected public act, MedMob members delight in presenting meditation in a surprising, inclusive way, says Shambhala Sun. MedMob’s goals: 1. To create an environment for people from all walks of life to come together in meditation. 2. To expose the world to meditation through public display of meditation. 3. To come together as a global community to send positive intentions out into the world. 4. To show that leading by example is the best way to lead. Simple acts can stimulate major paradigm shifts in thinking. The MedMob movement, which began in Austin early this year, is for everyone, reports David Telfer McConaghay for elephant journal. Telfer assures us that passers-by do not need to believe in “hippy-dippy feel-goodery” to participate in meditation, whether in a group or alone. “The goal is not to attain some state of illusory bliss, then wander around all day in a disconnected daze with a silly grin,” he writes. “The goal (if meditation can be said to have a goal) is to allow the naturally arising chaos and distractions of the mind to settle and fade so that we can act and make choices with greater intention and clarity.”

Note: For more on this inspiring movement, see http://www.medmob.org. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Food best source of vitamins, study finds
2013-09-10, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Food-best-source-of-vitamins-study-finds...

About half of all Americans take a daily multivitamin as a way to improve their health and cut their risk of diseases. But experts now say that - in almost all cases - the best way to get a full dose of vitamins is from nutritious foods rather than from pills. There is a lot of scientific evidence showing diets rich in produce, nuts, whole grains and fish promote health and decrease risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, according to a new "Vitamins and Minerals" report from Harvard Medical School. On the other hand, studies involving vitamin supplements - and there have been many - show mixed results. In fact, after reviewing a large body of research in 2006, the National Institutes of Health decided not to definitively rule for or against multivitamins' ability to prevent diseases. So what are the quickest ways to boost the vitamin content in your meals? The report identifies about three dozen foods that have the most nutrients per calorie, including avocados, berries, cantaloupe, dark leafy greens, eggs, yogurt, lentils, beans, almonds, fish, chicken and turkey. And although most people think of citrus as the best source of vitamin C, a red pepper has twice as much as an orange. Similarly, potatoes and white beans have more potassium than bananas. The final advice from Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the report's editor: "Spend your time and money improving your diet, which is far more likely to pay off in the long run than popping a pill."

Note: The Harvard report can be found here: http://hvrd.me/9Uixox. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Jacob Barnett, 14-Year-Old With Asperger's Syndrome, May Be Smarter Than Einstein
2013-05-11, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/11/jacob-barnett-autistic-14-year-old-n...

When Jacob Barnett was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. Doctors told his parents that the boy would likely never talk or read and would probably be forever unable to independently manage basic daily activities like tying his shoe laces. But they were sorely, extraordinarily mistaken. Today, Barnett -- now 14 -- is a Master's student, on his way to earning a PhD in quantum physics. The teen, who boasts an IQ of 170, has already been tipped to one day win the Nobel Prize. Since enrolling at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) at the age of 10, Barnett has flourished -- astounding his professors, peers and family with his spectacular intelligence. The teen tutors other college students in subjects like calculus and is a published scientific researcher, with an IQ that is believed to be higher than that of Albert Einstein. In fact, according to a 2011 TIME report, Barnett, who frequently tops his college classes, has asserted that he may one day disprove Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Outside of his rigorous university commitments, Barnett, who has Asperger's Syndrome, is also an entrepreneur and aspiring author. The teen, who, with his family, runs a charity called Jacob's Place for kids on the spectrum, has used his story to raise awareness and dispel myths about autism. In April, [his mother] Kristine Barnett's memoir about her family's experience with autism, The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius, was released. A movie deal is said to be in the works.

Note: For the CBS 60 Minutes piece on this child genius, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Communities print their own currency to keep cash flowing
2009-04-10, USA Today
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/economy/2009-04-05-scrip_N.htm

A small but growing number of cash-strapped communities are printing their own money. Borrowing from a Depression-era idea, they are aiming to help consumers make ends meet and support struggling local businesses. Businesses and individuals form a network to print currency. Shoppers buy it at a discount — say, 95 cents for $1 value — and spend the full value at stores that accept the currency. Workers with dwindling wages are paying for groceries, yoga classes and fuel with Detroit Cheers, Ithaca Hours in New York, Plenty in North Carolina or BerkShares in Massachusetts. Ed Collom, a University of Southern Maine sociologist who has studied local currencies, says they encourage people to buy locally. Merchants, hurting because customers have cut back on spending, benefit as consumers spend the local cash. Jackie Smith of South Bend, Ind., who is working to launch a local currency, [said] "It reinforces the message that having more control of the economy in local hands can help you cushion yourself from the blows of the marketplace." During the Depression, local governments, businesses and individuals issued currency, known as scrip, to keep commerce flowing when bank closings led to a cash shortage. Pittsboro, N.C., is reviving the Plenty, a defunct local currency created in 2002. It is being printed in denominations of $1, $5, $20 and $50. A local bank will exchange $9 for $10 worth of Plenty. "We're a wiped-out small town in America," says Lyle Estill, president of Piedmont Biofuels, which accepts the Plenty. "This will strengthen the local economy. ... The nice thing about the Plenty is that it can't leave here."

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




Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz launch the B Team challenge
2013-06-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/richard-branson-jochen-z...

In a sign that the corporate sustainability movement may be entering a new dynamic phase, Sir Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz, former chief executive of Puma and current director of Kering, today launched a new global collaboration to drive transformational change in the business sector. The B Team brings together an initial 14 leaders from major corporations around the world, including Unilever, Natura, Celtel, Tata and Kering, in an attempt to enlarge projects that demonstrate that long-term business success can be built only by prioritising people and planet alongside profit. The collective ... has issued a declaration that places much of the blame for the world's problems directly on the doorstep of companies. Recognising that their views will be seen by many competitors as an "affront", the declaration states: "Business is now waking up to the reality that if we carry on using the natural resources of the world unsustainably, they'll quite simply run out. With a burgeoning population, more people are still living in poverty than ever before and inequalities are increasing in many parts of the world. Unemployment rates are at frightening levels. Non-Profits alone cannot solve the tasks at hand, while many governments are unwilling or unable to act. While there are myriad reasons we've arrived at this juncture, much of the blame rests with the principles and practices of business as usual." Rather than go it alone, the B Team is forging partnerships with other organisations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Ashoka, a leading light in the social enterprise movement.

Note: For more on the inspiring B Team, see the great three-minute video here and click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Bhutan set to plough lone furrow as world's first wholly organic country
2013-02-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/feb/11/bhu...

Bhutan plans to become the first country in the world to turn its agriculture completely organic, banning the sales of pesticides and herbicides and relying on its own animals and farm waste for fertilisers. But rather than accept that this will mean farmers of the small Himalayan kingdom of around 1.2m people ... will be able to grow less food, the government expects them to be able to grow more – and to export increasing amounts of high quality niche foods to neighbouring India, China and other countries. The decision to go organic was both practical and philosophical, said [Pema Gyamtsho, Bhutan's minister of agriculture and forests]. "Ours is a mountainous terrain. When we use chemicals they don't stay where we use them, they impact the water and plants. We say that we need to consider all the environment. Most of our farm practices are traditional farming, so we are largely organic anyway. But we are Buddhists, too, and we believe in living in harmony with nature. Animals have the right to live, we like to to see plants happy and insects happy," he said. Gyamtsho, like most members of the cabinet, is a farmer himself, coming from Bumthang in central Bhutan but studying western farming methods in New Zealand and Switzerland. "Going organic will take time," he said. "We have set no deadline. We cannot do it tomorrow. Instead we will achieve it region by region and crop by crop." Gyamtsho [says] Bhutan's future depends largely on how it responds to interlinked development challenges like climate change, and food and energy security.

Note: Bhutan is also the country which has pioneered Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a more appropriate measure of economic growth than GNP. For more on this, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.





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