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.
A solar project funded and operated by both Jews and Muslims is shining some light on Auja, a small Palestinian town located in one of the most controversial territories on Earth. The $100,000 project is harnessing solar energy to power the drawing of water from deep underground to irrigate a grove of palms growing the prized Medjool dates. It is the first large project to be funded by both Jews and Muslims in the United States – including former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg – and to be operated by Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims on the ground. The solar array is providing an economic boost to 45 farming families in this town of 5,000 Palestinians on the eastern flank of the West Bank who struggle with scarce water and unreliable and expensive electricity. Ben Jablonski ... is leading the project through a nonprofit he founded called Build Israel Palestine. Mr. Jablonski, who is Jewish, started the organization in 2014 with Tarek Elgawhary, an Egyptian Muslim religious scholar in Washington, D.C. who also runs Coexist, an educational nonprofit. Jablonski gave up his board seat with the Jewish National Fund, a nonprofit infrastructure developer that has limited but controversial involvement in West Bank settlements, in order to meet the demands from the Auja community, which insisted that donors and engineers involved in the project have no connections to Israeli settlements. Build Israel Palestine’s work focuses on providing Palestinians access to water, and doing so by bringing Muslims and Jews together.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
We live in a time when people are less optimistic, more cynical and have lower expectations, in part because they see government and other institutions as ineffective and unresponsive. Of course the challenges we face today are as solvable as any problems we have confronted in the past. We as individuals still can make a difference. How? Well, one way is through our investments. We don’t have to wait for governments to take action. We can actually increase our influence over world events, and potentially have a greater impact (and feel a little less powerless) not just through civic participation, or voting, or supporting non-profits - all of which remain vitally important - but through our role as investors. Rather than investing in fossil fuel companies, you can invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy; clean water and pollution control; sustainable food and agriculture. The bottom line: As investors, we have more power than we realize. We can prod and pressure and cajole companies into doing the right thing. Unfortunately, too many of us fail to leverage this power. Investors are not powerless. We can move the needle. And ... it is both a moral imperative and an economic imperative that the needle be moved.
Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy's highest court of appeal has ruled. Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 (Ł3; $4.50) from a supermarket. Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment", the court of cassation decided. Therefore it was not a crime, it said. A fellow customer informed the store's security in 2011, when Mr Ostriakov attempted to leave a Genoa supermarket with two pieces of cheese and a packet of sausages in his pocket but paid only for breadsticks. In 2015, Mr Ostriakov was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in jail and a €100 fine. The "historic" ruling is "right and pertinent", said Italiaglobale.it - and derives from a concept that "informed the Western world for centuries - it is called humanity". Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, which reviews only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, on Monday made a final and definitive ruling overturning the conviction entirely. Stealing small quantities of food to satisfy a vital need for food did not constitute a crime, the court wrote. "The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the seizure of merchandise took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity," wrote the court.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is sometimes referred to as “sustainable”, “socially conscious”, “mission,” “green” or “ethical” investing. Socially responsible investors are looking to promote concepts and ideals that they feel strongly about. They accomplish this in 3 ways: 1-Investment in companies and governments that the investor believes best hold to values of importance to the investor. These include the environment, consumer protection, religious beliefs, employees’ rights as well as human rights, among others. 2-Shareholder advocacy; socially responsible investors proactively influencing corporate decisions that could otherwise have a large detrimental impact on society ... through various means including dialogue, filing resolutions for shareholders’ vote, educating the public and attracting media attention to the issue. 3-Community investing has become the fastest growing segment within SRI, with some $61.4 billion in managed assets. With community investing, investors’ capital is directed to those communities, in the U.S. and abroad, which are under served by more traditional financial lending institutions and gives recipients of low-interest loans access to not just investment capital and income but provides valuable community services that include healthcare, housing, education and child care. Over the last two years, SRI investing has grown by more than 22% to $3.74 trillion in total managed assets, suggesting that investors are investing with their heart, as well as their head.
Note: Interested in investing to reduce inequality? Check out the inspiring microcredit movement.
A woman who stood up to 300 neo-Nazis in Sweden hopes her gesture will draw attention to the fight against racism in the Scandinavian country. Tess Asplund tried to block the path of the Nordic Resistance Movement as the right-wing extremist group marched in the town of Borlange on May 1. An image of Ms Asplund facing the neo-Nazis up close with a clenched fist has been shared thousands of times on social media in Sweden and internationally. The 42-year-old anti-racism activist told Swedish Radio her defiant gesture was inspired by the late Nelson Mandela, who fought against apartheid in South Africa. "I felt when they arrived that they shouldn't be here and spread their hate," Ms Asplund said. "I don't think I was even thinking. I just jumped out. Things happened quite quickly. Then a police officer pulled me away." A video of the incident from the Dala-Demokraten newspaper shows Ms Asplund walking backward as she faces men with shaved heads at the front of the procession. One of them tries to shove her aside while another counter-demonstrator is forcefully pushed out of the path of the parade.
Note: Don't miss the powerful image of this brave woman's action available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
For many of us, the most pressing question about exercise is: How little can I get away with? The answer, according to a sophisticated new study of interval training, may be very, very little. In this new experiment, in fact, 60 seconds of strenuous exertion proved to be as successful at improving health and fitness as three-quarters of an hour of moderate exercise. Scientists at McMaster University ... began by recruiting 25 out-of-shape young men and measuring their current aerobic fitness. Then the researchers randomly divided the men into three groups. One group was asked to change nothing; they would be the controls. A second group began a typical endurance-workout routine. The final group was assigned to interval training, using [a] workout [that] lasted 10 minutes, with only one minute of that time being strenuous. Both groups of exercising volunteers completed three sessions each week for 12 weeks. By the end of the study ... the endurance group had [exercised] for 27 hours, while the interval group had [exercised] for six hours, with only 36 minutes of that time being strenuous. The scientists ... found that the exercisers showed virtually identical gains. In both groups, endurance had increased by nearly 20 percent, insulin resistance likewise had improved significantly, and there were significant [improvements in] certain microscopic structures in the men’s muscles. Neither approach to exercise was, however, superior to the other, except that one was shorter - much, much shorter.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
48.1 million Americans have insecure access to food, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. Several restaurants ... are trying to win the war against hunger. For example, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, has a “pay-it-forward” concept allowing customers to feed local homeless people a slice of pizza for one dollar. Even Stevens, a new restaurant based in Salt Lake City, gives a sandwich to a local hungry person with every sandwich sold. According to their website, Even Stevens has donated 444,022 sandwiches so far. The founder of Even Stevens, Steve Down, is a serial entrepreneur. As the father of millennials who care deeply about social consciousness and giving, Down saw the opportunity to use his skills ... to turn the food service industry into a force for social good. The result is “a sandwich shop with a cause.” Even Stevens is growing rapidly, with ... seven current locations since the first opened in Salt Lake City in June, 2014. Down plans to have 20+ locations open by the end of 2016. The 10 year plan is to have 4,000 locations feeding over 1,000,000 people per day. To put these numbers in perspective, Subway has approximately 34,000 locations and Chipotle has approximately 2,000. Anyone inside the restaurant industry would consider the objectives of Even Stevens to be ludicrous. Yet, Down ... believes the results of Even Stevens speak for themselves, with each location currently opened achieving profitability within the first 30-60 days.
A Palestinian woman who grew up as a refugee and who now teaches refugee children has been awarded with a $1million (Ł707,000) global prize for reaching excellence. Hanan al-Hroub, who teaches primary school children in the West Bank city of al-Bireh, just outside of Ramallah, was handed the second annual Global Teacher Prize which recognises an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the profession. The Pope announced Ms al-Hroub – who teaches about non-violence - as the winner in a video message while Prince William also sent his congratulations. "I feel amazing and I still can't believe that the Pope said my name," al-Hroub told The Associated Press. "For an Arab, Palestinian teacher to talk to the world today and to reach the highest peak in teaching could be an example for teachers around the world." In her acceptance speech, Ms al-Hroub repeated her mantra of “No to violence” and spoke of the importance of having dialogue. She said: “I am proud to be a Palestinian female teacher standing on this stage,” the BBC reported, and has promised to spend the prize money on creating scholarships for students who excel to encourage them to become teachers. Ms al-Hroub grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem. She went into teaching after her children witnessed a shooting on her way home from school, which made her think about how teachers can help children who experience trauma. She educates children about non-violence and has written a book called “We Play and Learn,” which focusses on the importance of playing, trust, respect, honesty and literacy.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, aren't just ice cream makers. They are also advocates of social change – even if that means getting arrested. The two were among the 300 people arrested and soon released at the US Capitol on Monday, as part of "Democracy Spring" protests that have been ... campaigning for finance reform and voting rights. Many protesters are staunch supporters of Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, whom the famous ice cream duo has publicly backed with a variety of initiatives from ice cream itself to illuminated road signs. Democracy "looks great from the outside, but inside it’s a disappointing mess," reads a statement on Ben & Jerry's website. "With corporations and billionaires pouring unlimited, unchecked dollars into politicians' pockets and new voter restrictions popping up across the country, this is no longer a government of the people and for the people; this is a government of the rich, and for the rich." On Tuesday, the [website] featured a blog detailing the arrests of the co founders, including pictures of the two as they were participating the protests. It's not the first time Ben & Jerry's has brought its political views to the table. "You could say that our passion for social justice has been baked right into everything we’ve ever done," the owners wrote. They've been vocal supporters of Senator Sanders, too.
Note: The media's reluctance to cover "Democracy Spring" has not stopped Ben & Jerry from speaking up to fix the US political process. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
San Francisco passed legislation this week that will require all new buildings under 10 stories tall to be outfitted with solar panels. The California city will become the largest municipality in the U.S. with such a mandate. “By increasing our use of solar power, San Francisco is once again leading the nation in the fight against climate change and the reduction of our reliance on fossil fuels,” Scott Wiener, the city supervisor who introduced the legislation, said. The legislation makes explicit references to combating climate change and expresses concern about the city’s future. Smaller California cities already have similar laws in place. Beginning in 2017, all new San Francisco buildings with 10 or fewer floors must have either solar photovoltaic or solar water panels. The measure builds on a California law that mandates new buildings have at least 15 percent of their roof space exposed to sunshine for solar panel use in the future.
Dr. Jim Withers used to dress like a homeless person. On purpose. Two to three nights a week, he rubbed dirt in his hair and muddied up his jeans and shirt before walking the dark streets of Pittsburgh. Withers wanted to connect with those who had been excluded from his care. "I was actually really shocked how ill people were on the street," he said. "Young, old, people with mental illness, runaway kids, women (who) fled domestic violence, veterans. And they all have their own story." Homelessness costs the medical system a lot of money. Individuals often end up in emergency rooms, and stay there longer, because their illnesses go untreated and can lead to complications. For 23 years, Withers has been treating the homeless - under bridges, in alleys and along riverbanks. "We realized that ... we could make 'house calls,'" he said. It's something that Withers' father, a rural doctor, often did. Withers' one-man mission became a citywide program called Operation Safety Net. Since 1992, the group has reached more than 10,000 individuals and helped more than 1,200 of them transition into housing. In addition to street rounds, the program has a mobile van, drop-in centers and a primary health clinic, all where the homeless can access medical care. In the way I'd like to see things, every person who is still on the streets will have medical care that comes directly to them and says, "You matter." Having street medicine in [the] community transforms us. We begin to see that we're all in this together.
Note: Don't miss the video of Withers' inspiring "street medicine" in action at the CNN link above.
What is happiness inequality? It’s the psychological parallel to income inequality: how much individuals in a society differ in their self-reported happiness levels. Since 2012, the World Happiness Report has championed the idea that happiness is a better measure of human welfare than standard indicators like wealth, education, health, or good government. And if that’s the case, it has implications for our conversations about equality, privilege, and fairness in the world. We know that income inequality can be detrimental to happiness: According to a 2011 study, for example, the American population as a whole was less happy over the past several decades in years with greater inequality. The authors of a companion study to the World Happiness Report ... found that countries with greater inequality of well-being also tend to have lower average well-being, even after controlling for factors like GDP per capita, life expectancy, and individuals’ reports of social support and freedom to make decisions. In other words, the more happiness equality a country has, the happier it tends to be as a whole. On an individual level, the same link exists; in fact, individuals’ happiness levels were more closely tied to the level of happiness equality in their country than to its income equality. Happiness equality was also a stronger predictor of social trust than income equality - and social trust, a belief in the integrity of other people and institutions, is crucial to personal and societal well-being.
Brooklyn Andracke is a big fan of her garbage man, who always honks the truck’s horn and waves. Delvar Dopson is essentially her hero. “He is our favorite awesome smiley garbage man,” her mother, Traci Andracke, [said]. Brooklyn’s fascination with Dopson started because his truck would drive by their house, [and she] noticed Dopson driving the massive vehicle. “It became all about him after that,” Andracke said. “It wasn’t the ‘garbage truck’ anymore, but it was the ‘garbage man’ that she wanted to see.” When Brooklyn turned 3, the tot decided she wanted to share part of her big day with him. She patiently waited outside her home until Dopson pulled onto their street. When Andracke motioned for Dopson to stop the garbage truck, Brooklyn presented him with one of her birthday cupcakes. Dopson was “instantly speechless,” Andracke said. “I explained to him that he makes our day every Thursday,” she added. “After he left ... Brooklyn was unusually quiet. I asked her if she was okay, and she said, ‘Mommy, I’m so happy.’” The following week, Dopson returned for his refuse-collecting round and gave Brooklyn a belated birthday present: toys from her favorite movie, “Frozen.” In return, Brooklyn made him a thank you note, which he’s since displayed with pride in his truck. “I’d love for people to remember that a small gesture - a honk, wave, smile - doesn’t take much effort. Just do it,” the mom told HuffPost. “You never know who is on the receiving end of that smile and how it can really brighten their day.”
Power plant turbines might be getting smaller. The tech is still in its early stages but GE Global Research is developing a turbine that - though only the size of the average desk - could someday power entire towns. The principle behind it could have a big effect on the future of turbine power. Instead of being pushed by steam, like most power plant turbines, the "minirotor" as [steam turbine specialist at GE Global Research Doug] Hofer calls it is pushed by CO2. Not gaseous CO2, or liquid CO2, but CO2 so hot and pressurized that it forms what is called a supercritical fluid, a state of heat and pressure so extreme that the distinctions between liquid and gas basically cease to exist. The tiny turbine's design is intended to harness the power of this specific (and weird) state of matter which could make the turbines as much as 50 percent efficient at turning heat to electricity, a significant improvement over ~45 percent efficient steam turbines. On top of that, these turbines should be relatively easy to spin up or down as demand shifts allowing power plants to more accurately tweak supply on the fly. The prototype design is a 10 MW turbine, though GE hopes to be able to scale the tech to enough to power a city, somewhere in the 500 megawatt range. The first physical tests are scheduled for later this year.
Back in 2005, Jameel McGee says he was minding his own business when a police officer accused him of - and arrested him for - dealing drugs. "It was all made up," said McGee. Of course, a lot of accused men make that claim, but not many arresting officers agree. "I falsified the report," former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins admitted. "Basically, at the start of that day, I was going to make sure I had another drug arrest." And in the end, he put an innocent guy in jail. "I lost everything," McGee said. "My only goal was to seek him when I got home and to hurt him." Eventually, that crooked cop was caught, and served a year and a half for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing. Of course McGee was exonerated, but he still spent four years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Today both men are back in Benton Harbor, which is a small town. Last year, by sheer coincidence, they both ended up at faith-based employment agency Mosaic, where they now work side by side in the same café. And it was in those cramped quarters that the bad cop and the wrongfully accused had no choice but to have it out." I said, 'Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I'm sorry,'" Collins explained. McGee says that was all it took. "That was pretty much what I needed to hear." Today they're not only cordial, they're friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him. "And I just started weeping because he doesn't owe me that. I don't deserve that," Collins said.
Note: Don't miss the beautiful video of this story at the link above.
After Bob Nevins, a medevac pilot for the 101st Airborne during the Vietnam War, returned home to the U.S., he found that working with horses was the thing that soothed him best. "I realized then that there was some kind of deep emotional connection that actually opened people up," said Nevins. For the last three years, Nevins has been giving veterans and victims of trauma a chance to connect with world-class racehorses - and themselves - through the Saratoga Warhorse Foundation. "We're creating an experience for the veterans that creates a very deep, emotional bond with the thoroughbred. That's a catalyst for a very traumatic transformation, healing-wise, for the veteran," Nevins said. "We teach them the horse's language. What they're able to do then is communicate in this silent language. That experience is so emotionally powerful that the walls just tumble for the veterans." Spc. TJ Hawkins, a former National Guardsman, said he'd completely shut down after watching his best friend die in action. "He meant a lot. The best brother anybody could ask for," he said. "[I] didn't want anybody to ask me about any good experiences in Iraq, any bad experiences." He said his time in the corral with a horse felt "amazing." "I'm on the top of the world," Hawkins said. "It brought back the happiness I had lost from going to Iraq. This is the first time I've truly been happy since I've been home." Nevins said his program was about helping veterans, not just talking about it.
The air quality in many cities has improved markedly thanks to improved technology in fuel-burning mechanisms, although problem areas remain, the American Lung Association announced Wednesday. The biggest improvement came as counties studied across the United States lowered the levels of particle pollution in the air. Although weather patterns change air quality, 16 US cities hit their lowest levels of particle pollution ever for the entire year. This included Los Angeles, although it remains the nation's most polluted city for ozone pollution, while Bakersfield topped the list for particle pollution. Many cities benefited from both new practices at power plants fueled by coal and better emissions and engine technology in cars and larger vehicles. Improvement came across the United States, and many areas are seeing the effects of the 1970 federal Clean Air Act. Although some still have dirty air, many of the nation's most polluted cities were slightly cleaner than last year. In Ohio, for example, particle pollution readings improved in Cleveland, making it among 16 cities that reported their lowest levels of particle pollution on record. The American Lung Association lauded the federal Clean Air Act, currently on hold by the Supreme Court, but urged states to individually evaluate their air quality to determine paths to improvement. As scientific information has become more available, cities have been able to make specific plans because they know their targets for clean air.
Note: Our older readers may remember when smog alerts in large cities were commonplace in the 1960s and many lakes that were practically devoid of life have now returned to life. We are definitely making progress in some areas.
Bay Area shoppers will soon be able to get a new kind of local produce at Whole Foods stores. Affectionately known as ugly produce, the fruits and vegetables are perfectly healthy and safe yet are usually left to rot because they don’t meet typical supermarket cosmetic standards. Bags of the aesthetically challenged produce will arrive at Northern California Whole Foods outposts later this month ... thanks to Emeryville’s Imperfect, one of several new Bay Area companies taking advantage of crops that are usually wasted in California fields. Of the estimated 62.5 million tons of food Americans waste annually, much more is generated in homes, stores and restaurants than farms, but the loss at farms is more suitable for reuse, [and is] responsible for almost 20 percent of American food waste. For some specialty California crops, such as greens, 50 percent is left in the field because it’s not worth harvesting, said Christine Moseley, founder and chief executive officer of Full Harvest, a San Francisco startup that aggregates ugly produce from Salinas Valley growers for Bay Area food and beverage companies. “I found out that there’s this massive problem with food waste, and I saw that as an opportunity,” said Moseley. She has projects in the works with larger national companies and has contracts in place to deliver 1 million pounds of imperfect and surplus produce this year. Since it launched last year, Full Harvest has rescued 15,000 pounds of previously worthless produce.
It's a case an attorney called "one of the most significant in our nation's history." Twenty-one young people (ages 8 to 19) are suing President Barack Obama and the federal government over making a mess of the planet for future generations. The government and fossil fuel groups had asked the court to toss out the federal case, but Judge Thomas Coffin on Friday denied those requests. "The nascent nature of these proceedings dictate further development of the record before the court can adjudicate whether any claims or parties should not survive for trial," Coffin wrote in the decision. "Accordingly, the court should deny the motions to dismiss." The climate kids' argument is multifaceted and nuanced, bringing in concepts of public trust doctrine as well as constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. But one of the oh-wow points they're making is this: Young people and unborn generations are being discriminated against when it comes to the U.S. propagation of climate change. They will live through an era of rising seas, heat waves, droughts, floods and extinctions that are without precedent. Yet they have little or no voice in the political system that, despite some bold steps in the right direction, continues to lease federal property for fossil fuel extraction and continues to subsidize pollution. Officials have continued to pursue harmful practices while knowing their actions would have dire future consequences. The youth plaintiffs want the feds to come up with a wholesale plan to fight climate change.
From an environmental perspective, plastic cutlery is pretty disastrous. It's often used just once before being thrown in the bin, and every year vast quantities of plastic knives, forks and spoons end up in landfill, where they release harmful substances into the soil as they decompose. However, one enterprising inventor is now hoping to make plastic cutlery obsolete by providing a viable, environmentally-friendly alternative: edible cutlery. Narayana Peesapaty is from India, where 120 billion pieces of disposable plastic cutlery are thrown away each year. His edible cutlery, branded as Bakeys, is made from millet, rice and wheat, and is available in a variety of flavours. Bakeys, founded in Hyderabad in 2011, says its products are "highly nutritious," with a shelf life of three years. If you use a Bakeys spoon and don't eat it, it'll decompose in less than a week. A video showcasing Narayana's invention has gone viral this week after it was shared online by the website The Better India, where it's been viewed more than 2.5 million times in less than a day. It isn't quite as sturdy as its metal or plastic counterparts - Bakeys suggests not using too much force if you use its cutlery to cut into hard foods, saying: "after all these are made of flours" - but its spoons are firm enough to get you through a cup of hot soup without it wilting. But could they ever become popular enough to replace plastic cutlery the world over? We'll have to wait and see.