Inspiring News Stories
Excerpts of Highly Inspiring News Stories in Major Media
Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news stories from the major media. Links are provided to the original stories on their media websites. If any link fails to function, click here. The inspiring news story summaries most recently posted here are listed first. You can explore the same list with the most inspiring stories listed first. See also a concise list providing headlines and links to a number of highly inspiring stories. May these 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.
At Rosa's Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, the shop is adorned with Post-it notes and letters. The messages are from customers who gave $1 so homeless members in the community could get a slice, which costs $1. The pay-it-forward pizza program started about a year ago, [owner Mason] Wartman says, when one paying customer asked if he could buy a slice for a homeless person. "I said, 'Sure.' I took his dollar and ran out and got some Post-it notes and put one up to signify that a slice was purchased," he recalls. Pay-it-forward pizza was born. Over the past nine months, Wartman says, clients have bought 8,400 slices of pizza for their homeless neighbors. He kept track of the prepaid slices with Post-it notes on the walls until he hit about 500 free slices. He now keeps track at the register. Wartman says the customer who started it all was inspired by a practice in Italy called "suspended coffee" where customers purchase an extra cup for someone who can't afford it. Pay-it-forward generosity isn't limited to Italian cafes or one Philly pizza shop. Even mega-chains, including the bakery and sandwich chain Panera, have gotten into the giving act. Other chains' pay-it-forward systems have grown organically. Starbucks Coffee Co. spokeswoman Sanja Gould says some people just offer to pay for the person behind them in line, while others "might load a certain dollar amount onto a Starbucks card and the store partners have it on hand and they keep adding to it as the line goes on." Wartman says ... people want to help but aren't sure what to do. "This is a super-easy way, a super-efficient way and a super-transparent way to help the homeless."
Note: Watch a great video on this inspiring pizza shop.
The City-County Council on Monday voted largely along party lines to create a "Homeless Bill of Rights," making Indianapolis one of the first cities in the country to do so. The ordinance, modelled after similar laws in Rhode Island and Illinois, establishes specific protections for the homeless, a vulnerable population that advocates say face pervasive discrimination in their daily lives. Among the protections: the right to "move freely in public spaces," such as sidewalks and public buildings; the right to equal treatment by city agencies; the right to emergency medical care; and the right to a "reasonable expectation of privacy" for their personal property, just as someone would have inside a home. Notably, it ... requires the city to give a homeless person 15 days notice before displacing him or her from a camp. The city also would have to store displaced people's belongings for 60 days and connect them with nonprofits that would provide them with transitional housing and "wrap-around services," such as medical care and employment assistance. [City Councilman LeRoy] Robinson said such services are vital — and less costly than arresting people for minor offenses to get them off the streets. "It is much more cost-effective to provide support services and assistance to those experiencing homelessness in our city, than to arrest them," Robinson wrote in an email to The Star.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Burlington recently announced that it now produces or gets more power than its citizens use. And it’s all coming from renewable sources of energy like wind and solar and hydroelectric. Ken Nolan helps run Burlington Electric, the local utility company that supplies power to the city’s 42,000 residents. Some might say, of course this is happening in Burlington — the town that’s often cast as a liberal, progressive haven. But Burlington — and Vermont at large — has plenty of economic reasons to try and do their part to tackle climate change: Vermont’s iconic, multi-million dollar industries — skiing and maple syrup — are as dependent on the climate as any industry in the U.S. And the state suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in damage from Hurricane Irene — the type of storm scientists say will grow in frequency unless we reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. Nolan says that switching from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy will likely save the city about $20 million dollars over the next two decades. What’s more, consumers haven’t been hit with a big price increase: while residential customers across the US have seen small but gradual increases in their utility bills over the years, Burlington’s rates haven’t increased since 2009. There’s nothing magic about Burlington in terms of where it sits. It was just a bunch of decisions made over ten years or more, to get towards renewable energy.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
John Emerson Moss is an unheralded giant in the capital of California. Moss [represented] Sacramento in Congress for 25 years – a career marked by one of the most noteworthy legislative records of the second half of the 20th century. Moss was the author and champion of the federal Freedom of Information Act, which gave any American the right to access federal records once routinely sealed by the most powerful forces in the American government. Because of Moss, there is the Consumer Product Safety Commission. He played a major role in enacting the Toy Safety Act, the Poison Package Control Act, the Federal Privacy Act. He was chief sponsor of the Clean Air Act. Moss was one of the first voices in government to come out against the Vietnam War, a position that put him squarely at odds with President Lyndon Johnson – one of the most politically powerful and vindictive men to occupy the Oval Office. A Democrat like Johnson, Moss’ opposition to Vietnam and his dogged pursuit of FOIA cost him what many politicians crave most – power. President Johnson was against the idea of opening federal records to the public and he fought Moss behind closed doors. Moss prevailed when Johnson bowed to pressure from newspaper editors and a growing mistrust of government. He signed FOIA into law the week of July 4, 1966. It was a momentous event. But there is no film of Moss standing behind Johnson as he signed FOIA into law because a grudging Johnson refused to have a public signing ceremony to mark the event.
Note: Moss’ 100th birthday falls on April 13, 2015. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
With Stage 4 metastasized breast cancer, Patti ... wanted to know how to live life with no regrets. Out of Patti’s vision and sense of urgency, the No Regrets Project was born. Between radiation treatments, spinal surgery and a bucket list trip to Alaska, Patti wrote essays, talked with anyone who would listen, dreamed and created. In the end, she developed five simple, personal practices to help herself live life more fully: be grateful every day, trust – take the risk, courage to be me, choose joy, and love myself & share it. While the phrases may be simple, accomplishing them is not. The development of the No Regrets Project is Patti Pansa’s legacy to all of us. Each day, Patti wrote in her gratitude journal. The simplest things caught her attention. “I am grateful for a little bird sitting on a branch outside of my bedroom window,” “I love to feel the warmth in the sunlight crossing my bed,” and more. This practice of gratitude helped her to focus on the things that she appreciated most, rather than on her declining health and the difficult medical procedures that she endured. Patti learned that trust requires an element of surrender. With diminishing energy, she simply followed the flow of suggestions and referrals to find the resources that were needed in a short period of time. Patti spent the last five months of her life celebrating, sharing, creating, loving, and living. On October 23, 2013, under hospice care, Patti died at home with her family. She died with no regrets.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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.
Good Samaritans are working to make sure that the homeless and others in need are prepared for the winter weather. Hats and scarves have been spotted around several areas that are experiencing frigid temperatures this winter. The apparel -- which has shown up in cities including Edmonton and Winnipeg in Canada, and Wilmington, North Carolina -- comes with messages urging those in need to take the winter wear. "I am not lost!" a message attached to a scarf in Wilmington reads. "If you are stuck out in the cold, please take this to keep warm!" The group responsible for that particular item, Scarves in the Port City, says that their aim is to account for those who need a helping hand during the winter months in a simple and effective way. "We collect and distribute scarves for the homeless during inclement weather," the group ... wrote on their Facebook page. "We hope to help create awareness of the difference kindness can make to people's attitudes, feelings and actions towards themselves and others when it's embraced as a way of life." The do-gooders, who often place the clothing in locations that are easily accessible for people in need, like libraries where people may seek refuge from the chill or homeless shelters, say they hope their efforts can provide some much-needed comfort to those who need it most over the winter months.
Note: See the complete article for pictures of this generous practice showing up in the U.S. and Canada. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The Division III basketball game between Mount St. Joseph's and Hiriam College ... was special because of one freshman forward, number 22, Lauren Hill, who made her college basketball debut while battling an inoperable brain tumor that has given her just months left to live. Hill had long dreamed of playing college basketball, of fulfilling a hope she had had since middle school. The freshman forward made an uncontested left-handed layup for the opening basket. Her shot brought a standing ovation from a sellout crowd at Xavier University's 10,000-seat arena. Her coach said normally 50 people attend their games. Hill has a brain tumor the size of a lemon, and it is growing daily. She was diagnosed last fall after suffering from vertigo and dizziness while playing for her high school team. Despite her condition, she committed this year to playing basketball, a game she first fell in love with in the 6th grade. "She's chasing a dream," her father, Brent Hill, told CBS News' Steve Hartman. "And she wants people to see that - that they can do that." Her parents said she actually asked the doctor: "Can I at least still play basketball?" Her attitude is remarkable -- the only tears a CBS News crew ever saw when interviewing her were of joy when she read about all the people who were supporting her charity called the "The Cure Starts Now." Curing pediatric brain cancer is one of her two top priorities. The other [was] simply to live long enough to play in her first college game.
A millionaire Chinese businessman has bulldozed the wooden huts and muddy roads where he grew up - and built luxury homes for the people who lived there. Xiong Shuihua was born in Xiongkeng village in the city of Xinyu, southern China and said that his family had always been well looked after and supported by residents in his childhood. So when the 54-year-old ended up making millions in the steel industry he decided to repay the favour. The business tycoon decided to return to the village and give everybody a place of their own to live - for free. Five years ago, the area was run down and many lived in basic homes. But the area has been transformed in recent years and now 72 families are enjoying life in luxury new flats. Meanwhile, 18 families, who were particularly kind to the businessman, were given villas of their own in a project costing close to Ł4 million. After moving in, he even promised three meals a day to the older residents and people on a low income to make sure they could get by. The multimillionaire made his money first of all in the construction industry and later by getting involved in the steel trade. He said: 'I earned more money than I knew what to do with, and I didn't want to forget my roots. 'I always pay my debts, and wanted to make sure the people who helped me when I was younger and my family were paid back.' Elderly local Qiong Chu, 75, said: 'I remember his parents. They were kind-hearted people who cared very much for others, and it's great that their son has inherited that kindness.'
Note: See pictures of the neighborhood Shuihua built at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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.
The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself. But in the 1970s ... Bruce Alexander noticed [that] the rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends. The rats with good lives ... mostly shunned [the drugged water]. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did. Professor Alexander argues [that] addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage. This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection. This isn’t [just] theoretical. 15 years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with one percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The results? Since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent.
Note: The complete article tells the story of internationally renown journalist Johann Hari's profound shift in thinking about addiction as he personally investigated Portugal's inspiring success.
India's two political giants were defeated Tuesday by an anti-corruption party led by a former tax inspector. Arvind Kejriwal, a youthful-looking former tax inspector and winner of Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, has pulled off a stunning near-sweep in New Delhi's local elections on Tuesday. The Aam Aadmi, or "Common Man," party won 67 of 70 seats in New Delhi, the largest single victory ever in India's capital. The party's victory also marks the first major loss for the Hindu nationalist BJP party since its own sweep of India last spring, [and] the first time that Congress, the venerable party associated with the liberation movement of Mohandas Gandhi, failed to win a single seat in Delhi. The success of the Common Man party stems from its sustained campaign against corruption combined with a dedicated army of volunteers. Analysts say Kejriwal also benefited from the perceived arrogance or overconfidence of the BJP. Kejriwal existed for years under the political radar in India, surfacing from time to time to take up “transparency” issues like clarifying the Right to Information Act. He was born in 1968 in a middle class family from Haryana state in the north and graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering, moving then to work for the Tata group and then the Indian public tax service. Kejriwal entered politics in 2012 and championed transparency and anti-corruption. He launched a party that brought together activists, youth, and poor people, and his anti-graft ideas caused a stir nationwide. His party’s symbol is a broom, a reference to its origins as an anti-graft campaign group.
The Southern California desert is now home to the world's largest solar power plant. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined state officials on Monday to open the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar project in the town of Desert Center, Calif., near Joshua Tree National Park. Built by First Solar, the project generates enough electricity to power 160,000 average California homes. Desert Sunlight received a federal loan of nearly $1.5 billion. Money provided by the project's owners ... is also being used to fund $400,000 in improvements to the community center in nearby Desert Center. Desert Sunlight is the world's largest solar power plant, although only by a hair. The Topaz solar project in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. — which, like Desert Sunlight, was built by Arizona-based First Solar — also has a capacity of 550 megawatts. But the desert has more abundant sunlight than San Luis Obispo County, so Desert Sunlight will actually generate more electricity than Topaz, said Georges Antoun, First Solar's chief operating officer. California as a whole has installed more renewable energy than any other state, noted David Hochschild, a member of the California Energy Commission. "There were a lot of skeptics who actually didn't believe that renewables could scale, that this cost reduction could happen, that we could introduce it to the grid," Hochschild said. "They've been proven wrong."
America is a nation of pavement. According to research conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, most cities’ surfaces are 35 to 50 percent composed of the stuff. And 40 percent of that pavement is parking lots. That has a large effect: Asphalt and concrete absorb the sun’s energy, retaining heat — and contributing to the “urban heat island effect,” in which cities are hotter than the surrounding areas. So what if there were a way to cut down on that heat, cool down the cars that park in these lots, power up those parked cars that are electric vehicles, and generate a lot of energy to boot? There is actually a technology that does all of this — solar carports. It’s just what it sounds like — covering up a parking lot with solar panels, which are elevated above the ground so that cars park in the shade beneath a canopy of photovoltaics. Depending of course on the size of the array, you can generate a lot of power. For instance, one vast solar carport installation at Rutgers University is 28 acres in size and produces 8 megawatts of power, or about enough energy to power 1,000 homes. So what’s the downside here? And why aren’t solar parking lots to be found pretty much everywhere you turn? In a word, the problem is cost. They are mainly springing up in Arizona, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York and most of all California. That’s because these states offer an array of state financial incentives to support their development.
In 2005 Jennifer Pluznick hypothesised that a gene known to play a role in a common form of kidney disease did so by acting as a master switch for other genes. Lab tests supported her theory; however, when she looked at which genes it acted on, she did a double take. Among them were several that encode scent receptors, the chemical sensors that allow us to identify smells. Pluznick has spent the last eight years trying to understand why. Our noses contain hundreds of different scent receptors that allow us to distinguish between odours. These receptors, as well as similar ones usually found on taste buds, crop up all over our bodies. In 2003, bitter taste receptors were found in sperm. The same year Pluznick came across scent receptors in the kidney, biologists at the University of California, San Diego identified sour receptors in the spine. A smattering of papers over the following few years reported sweet taste receptors in the bladder and the gut, bitter taste receptors in the sinuses, airways, pancreas and brain, and scent receptors in muscle tissue. As these findings became public, researchers poured over genomic data and reported that low levels of these receptors occurred in almost every tissue in the body. Their findings suggest that our bodies are “smelling” and “tasting” things deep inside of us, and that these abilities are crucial to our health. What's emerging is a picture of these receptors as a kind of general-purpose chemical sensor. We just happened to come across the receptors in the nose and the mouth first.
Note: The article above provides a detailed look at this revolutionary new area of biological research. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In two separate research findings, scientists have used bacteria in processes that can deliver substantial power when scaled up in the future. While a Sintef team in Norway has a method to deliver purified water, a Missouri researcher has discovered a bacterium that produces hydrogen, the fuel of the future. The Sintef researchers converted waste water into power using bacteria in an entirely natural process that delivers purified water. As the bacteria feed on waste water, they produce electrons and protons and the resulting voltage generates electricity. While the electricity generated is small, it ... is an environmentally friendly process where the end product is purified water. The team plans to scale up the process to generate the power needed for the water purification. "In simple terms, this type of fuel cell works because the bacteria consume the waste materials found in the water," explains Sintef researcher Luis Cesar Colmenares. The challenge was in finding the bacteria most suited for the job and the right mechanism. The researcher at Missouri University of Science and Technology has stumbled upon a bacterium that could help mass-produce hydrogen for fuel cells in the future. The "Halanaerobium hydrogeninformans" bacterium can produce hydrogen under saline and alkaline conditions, better than modified organisms and could be valuable industrially when the process is scaled up. Another end product of the hydrogen process ... finds application in products including composites, adhesives, laminates and coatings.
Bullying is a serious problem. According to Family First Aid, nearly 30 percent of teens in the U.S. are estimated to be in school bullying, whether they're being bullied or doing the bullying. Josh Yandt, who lives in London, Ontario, was no exception. After being bullied for years, he decided to make one simple tweak when he transferred schools: He started opening doors for his classmates. "Not many people hold doors, right? But after that, people started to open up to me. Opening a door is more than a physical act, it’s about putting yourself out there, getting to know people, making them feel comfortable, making them feel welcome. Opening doors gives people hope that people care.” Holding the door for his classmates changed everything for Yandt, and now he has more friends than he can count. “People just love what I do. Every day people always say ‘thank you,’ people smile, and it’s really great,” he told Canada's CBC news as classmates clapped him on the back, said thanks, or gave a hello as they passed by in the hallway. The story doesn't end there. Yandt was crowned prom king, and he's taken on speaking engagements, sharing his story with younger students.
Note: Watch a video of Yandt's inspiring story, and see for yourself how a small change in his habits invited Yandt's peers to open up and treat him with kindness and respect.
At the pinnacle of a dizzying career, Indian-American rapper Nimesh “Nimo” Patel was haunted by an unshakeable sense of emptiness. In his mid-twenties, he abandoned the limelight and found himself meditating. An inner voice nudged him to radically simplify his life and find his purpose in service to others. He moved to the Gandhi Ashram in India and dedicated himself to the children in the surrounding slums. Seven years into his musical hiatus, something inside nudged Nimo to begin writing music again, but this time in a different spirit. Inspired by a global 21-Day Kindness Challenge, Nimo wrote and produced Being Kind. Together with a labor-of-love crew of volunteers, he co-created a zero-budget music video in one week as an offering of gratitude for the 5.9K participants across 98 countries who simultaneously committed to doing a unique act of kindness every day for 21 days in the spirit of “being the change” they wish to see in the world. A month and a half later, he did it again with Grateful, a musical offering inspired by the 11.5K participants and their small acts throughout the 21-Day Gratitude Challenge. Nimo has most recently embarked on a pilgrimage to bridge music, love and selfless service, through Empty Hands Music. As 14-year-old [Empty Hands volunteer] Priyanka puts it, “We are so, so busy behind getting money, behind getting power, that we forget why we are here. But that joy of spreading kindness, of spreading gratitude, is something that we will keep in our mind and heart until the time we die.”
Note: Watch the inspiring music video by Nimo titled "Keep Loving: A Universal Love Song."
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.
Thousands of Croats will see their debts written-off on Monday as part of an attempt to boost the economy by helping households to regain access to basic facilities including bank accounts. The scheme, which has been dubbed "fresh start", will see the debts of around 60,000 citizens erased by banks, telecoms and utilities operators as part of a deal with the government. Around 2.1bn kuna (Ł20m) worth of bad debts are expected to be written off by creditors who have signed up to the scheme. None will be refunded for their losses. Qualifying households must have debts lower than 35,000 kuna (Ł3,500), and their monthly income should not be higher than 1,250 kuna. Croats who own property or have any savings will not benefit from the deal. "Some 60,000 citizens ... will be given a chance for a new start without a burden of debt," said Milanka Opacic, Croatia's deputy prime minister. The program will give 20pc of the 317,000 Croatians whose accounts were frozen in July last year due to bad debts access to their accounts again. "This is the first time that any (Croatian) government tries to solve this difficult problem and we are proud of it," Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told a cabinet session. The deal will be noted in Greece, where the new Syriza government is trying to renegotiate the terms of its multi billion euro bail-out.