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 community college reform group has selected a handful of schools in Virginia and Maryland to develop degree programs using open-source materials in place of textbooks, an initiative that could save students as much as $1,300 a year. Such open educational resources - created using open licenses that let students download or print materials for free - have gained popularity as the price of print textbooks have skyrocketed, but courses that use the materials remain a novelty in higher education. Achieving the Dream, an education advocacy group based in Silver Spring, Md., aims to change that by offering $9.8 million in grants to support the development of open-source degree programs at 38 colleges in 13 states. Officials at Achieving the Dream say there are enough open-source materials to replace textbooks in all required courses for degrees in business administration, general education, computer science and social science. The initiative will [benefit] at least 76,000 students. The schools will turn the material into a digital library for public consumption. Print textbook prices have climbed 82 percent in the past decade, [and] can account for a third of the costs community college students encounter.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The world finds itself in an age saturated with anxiety - at least, that’s the sense created by the daily deluge of news portraying a grim present of economic hardship, global tensions, terrorism, and political upheaval. The five-year-old site Upworthy doesn’t want you to see the world that way. In March of 2012, Eli Pariser - one of the leaders of the activist group MoveOn - and Peter Koechley - also of MoveOn and an editor at The Onion - launched Upworthy with several million dollars of seed money and a surfeit of hope. It was and is a bold attempt at reframing what constitutes news. Fear and anger are the currency of the media realm. Upworthy seeks to upend that formula and focus instead not on what is going wrong but on what might go right. Upworthy ... insists that stories “can make the world a better place” and engage people in a way that makes them want to do something instead of tuning out. On the numbers, Upworthy has 11 million subscribers, 20 million unique visitors to its website, and more important, substantial community engagement through its main distribution platform, Facebook. For those of you who think Upworthy has faded, Facebook’s own research ... demonstrates that the site and its stories have some of the highest community engagement of any Facebook page, behind Fox News but ahead of CNN. The site’s audience is surprisingly diverse in terms of politics and geography. Its experiment seems to be more one of tone: positive encouragement rather than inflammatory antagonism.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Dutch officials have opened what is being billed as one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, with 150 turbines spinning far out in the North Sea. Over the next 15 years the Gemini windpark ... will meet the energy needs of about 1.5 million people. At full tilt the windpark has a generating capacity of 600 megawatts and will help supply 785,000 Dutch households with renewable energy, according to the company. “We are now officially in the operational stage,” the company’s managing director Matthias Haag said, celebrating the completion of a project first conceived in 2010. The €2.8bn ($3bn) project is a collaboration between the Canadian independent renewable energy company Northland Power, wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Wind Power, Dutch maritime contractor Van Oord and waste processing company HVC. Gemini would contribute about 13% of the country’s total renewable energy supply and about 25% of its wind power. The Netherlands remains dependant on fossil fuels which still make up about 95% of its energy supply, according to a 2016 report from the ministry of economics affairs. The Dutch government has committed to ensuring 14% of its energy comes from renewable sources such as wind and solar power by 2020, and 16% by 2023, with the aim of being carbon neutral by 2050. Gemini “is seen as a stepping stone” in the Netherlands and has “shown that a very large project can be built on time, and in a very safe environment”, Haag said.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Jim Estill was growing frustrated. Over the summer of 2015, the business executive from the ... Ontario town of Guelph watched the Syrian refugee crisis unfold. "I didn't think people were doing enough things fast enough," he says. So Estill ... devised a plan. He would put up CA$1.5m (US$1.1m/Ł910,000) of his own money to bring over 50 refugee families to Canada, and co-ordinate a community-wide effort to help settle them into their new life. Canada allows private citizens ... to directly sponsor refugees by providing newcomers with basic material needs. But Estill was looking to make a big impact, quickly. So he brought together 10 different faith-based organisations that were already looking at ways to help those affected by the Syrian civil war. Sara Sayyed remembers the night her husband, president of the Muslim Society of Guelph, came back from that meeting and told her about Estill's plan. "I was completely floored. I said: 'Let's get involved in this.'" In November 2015, the local Guelph paper published an article about the plan. It was translated into Arabic and spread around the Middle East. "People started emailing us directly from Turkey, from Lebanon, from within Syria, saying: 'Can you help us?'" says Sayyed. By December 2016, 47 of 58 families had arrived in Guelph. Many newcomers were having difficulty finding work because they lacked experience or English language skills. So [Estill] launched a program that provides Syrian refugees with jobs ... along with regular English lessons.
Note: Watch an inspiring two-minute video on this most generous man.
Icelandic teenagers are saying no to drugs by getting high on life. For the last 20 years, the island country has seen a dramatic decrease in adolescent drug and alcohol abuse after the federal government made a concerted effort to offer teens a more natural high. The multifaceted approach includes state-sponsored recreational activities and after-school programs meant to enhance family ties and community bonds. [Dr. Harvey Milkman, the psychologist behind Iceland's strategy], says the results have been exceptional. Since 1998, for example, the number of 15- to 16-year-olds that self-reported to have been drunk within the last 30 days dropped from 43 to 5 per cent. In 1992, Milkman and his team opened up their laboratory, Project Self-Discovery, in Denver. The program used art, music, dance, poetry, and nature activities to reduce stress in lieu of drugs and alcohol. Once teens embraced these natural highs, their risk of drug use decreased dramatically. At the same time, rates of teenage substance use were exceptionally high in Iceland. Following Milkman's success in Denver, the Icelandic government reached out to him to put his research into practice on a national scale. Over the last 20 years, Milkman's research has helped inform what's now known as the Iceland approach. "The whole country of Iceland kind of bought into that idea of creating opportunities for the kids to feel good without taking drugs," [said Milkman].
Global poverty is in decline. Jim Pethokoukis writes, “Over the past 30 years, the share of our fellow humans living in extreme poverty has decreased to 21% from 52%. That’s a billion fewer people in extreme poverty. An extraordinary achievement.” People are living longer. The World Health Organization reports, “Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s. Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s. The 2000-2015 increase was greatest in the WHO African Region, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years.” Americans are extraordinarily charitable. The National Center for Charitable Statistics found, “Giving by individuals makes up the vast majority of contributions received by nonprofit organizations. Individual giving amounted to $258.51 billion in 2014, an increase of 7.1 percent in current dollars from 2013. This accounts for 72 percent of all contributions received in 2014.” We are becoming less violent. You’d never know it from listening to politicians or the media, but it is provably true. Psychologist Steven Pinker, author of “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” in an interview this year explained: “I looked at homicide, looked at war, looked at genocide, looked at terrorism. And in all cases, the long-term historical trend, though there are ups and downs ... is absolutely downward. The rate of violent crime in United States has fallen by more than half in just a decade. The rate of death in war fell by a factor of 100 over a span of 25 years.”
A new study suggests the best way to get over a breakup is to fake it until you make it. Simply believing you’re doing something positive to get over your ex can influence brain regions associated with emotional regulation and lessen the pain you’re feeling. Remaining open to the possibility that what you’re doing could potentially make you feel better works like a placebo. [Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder] studied 40 young people who’d experienced an unwanted breakup in the past six months. The participants were asked to bring in two photos: one of their ex and one of a close friend. Inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, the heartbroken parties were shown images of their exes and asked to reflect on the breakup. Then they saw the images of their friend (the control variable). They were also given a jolt of physical pain (a hot stimulus on their left forearm). As these stimuli were alternately repeated ... the fMRI machine tracked activity in the brain. Similar areas of the brain lit up during both emotional pain ... and physical pain - suggesting that the heartache you feel after a breakup is very real. The subjects were [then] given a nasal spray. Half were told the spray was a “powerful analgesic effective in reducing emotional pain,” while the rest were told it was merely a saline solution. [After experiencing] the same painful stimuli as before ... the placebo group felt less physical and emotional pain, [and] there was reduced activity in the areas of the brain associated with social rejection.
Nico is one of 11 puppies in the Leader Dogs for the Blind Prison Puppies program, trained by 23 inmates at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven. At the ... all-male prison, it’s common to see inmates toting puppies on leashes through the grounds, eating in the Chow Hall with a lab or golden retriever by their side and passing time with a four-legged cellmate, who takes up a share of the 8-foot-by-11-foot space. “He’s with us 24/7,” said [Mario] Carines, who’s raising Nico with teammate James Fuson. “The puppy is a blessing,” he said, explaining that since the dogs arrived last summer, the morale of both the inmates and staff has improved. “Seeing animals around when the program first began, guys couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t seen a dog in 22 years,” he said. Prison Puppies started in 2002. Leader Dog coordinators noticed a difference in the success rate. Up to 60 percent of puppies raised in prisons become leader dogs, assisting the blind or deaf; the graduation rate of puppies outside prisons is about 45 percent. “Many of our dogs raised in correctional facilities go on to ... have long-term successful working careers as guide dogs,” said [program coordinator] Melissa Spooner. Prison Puppies is a “win-win-win,” Spooner said, since it benefits the recipient, Leader Dog and 108 inmates in the voluntary year-long program. In fact, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found only 17 percent of inmates in Prison Puppies return to prison after being released. The national recidivism rate is about 50 percent.
Note: Watch an inspiring short video of this inspiring program.
Want to live longer? Reduce your risk of cancer? And heart disease? Then cycle to work, say scientists. The biggest study into the issue linked using two wheels with a halving of the risk of cancer and heart disease. The five-year study of 250,000 UK commuters also showed walking had some benefits over sitting on public transport or taking the car. The ... study compared people who had an "active" commute with those who were mostly stationary. Overall, 2,430 of those studied died, 3,748 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,110 had heart problems. But, during the course of the study, regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%. The cyclists clocked an average of 30 miles per week, but the further they cycled the greater the health boon. Walking cut the odds of developing heart disease but the benefit was mostly for people walking more than six miles per week. "This is really clear evidence that people who commute in an active way, particularly by cycling, were at lower risk," Dr Jason Gill, from the University of Glasgow, told the BBC News website. People who combined cycling and public transport in their commute also showed health benefits. Clare Hyde from Cancer Research UK said: "This study helps to highlight the potential benefits of building activity into your everyday life. "You don't need to join a gym or run the marathon. "Anything that gets you a bit hot and out of breath ... can help make a difference."
Canada's largest province is experimenting with giving poor people a basic income with no strings attached. The three-year study will test whether this basic income is better than current social welfare programmes. Randomly selected participants living in three communities in Ontario will be given at least C$16,989 ($12,600, Ł9,850) a year to live on. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said it is time to be "bold" in figuring out how to help society's most vulnerable. Ontario is not the only one trying this policy out. Finland recently launched its own trial in January, and the Scottish government has expressed interest. The idea is popular with both progressives and libertarians alike because it has the potential to reduce poverty and cut out red tape. Ontario's pilot project will roll out in Hamilton and Thunder Bay this spring, and Lindsay this fall. The program will cost C$50m a year, and will include 4,000 households from across those three communities. Participants must have lived in one of the areas for over a year, be between 18-64 and be living on a lower income. Single adults will be given a yearly income of C$16,989, while couples will earn C$24,027, minus 50% of any income earned from a job. By allowing people to keep part of their earnings, the government hopes people will be encouraged to work and not rely solely on assistance. "It's not an extravagant sum by any means," Wynne said, noting that many people who are struggling in the province are employed part-time and need additional assistance to make ends meet.
International participants at a high-level conference on the world's oceans pledged more than $5.3 billion for conservation and designated vast areas as protected waters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday. More than 90 countries took part in the two-day conference, the third of its kind, in an effort to galvanize attention to the dangers that pollution, climate change and over-fishing may pose to the world's oceans. More than 1.3 million square miles (3.4 million square km) gained protected designation. The United States and more than 20 countries joined on Thursday at the conference to create 40 marine sanctuaries around the world to protect the oceans. They limit commercial fishing, oil exploration and other activities that affect ocean ecosystems. President Barack Obama also designated the first U.S. marine reserve in the Atlantic Ocean: 4,913 square miles (12,724 square km) known for underwater mountains and canyons off the coast of New England. The announcement was part of more than 136 new initiatives unveiled during the event. Kerry, speaking to a Georgetown University audience on Friday as part of the conference, stressed the health of the world's oceans for national security and global stability. "This is life and death. This is national security. It is international security," he said, saying nearly 50 percent of the world depends on food from the ocean and 12 percent of the world's work force relies on the ocean for their livelihood.
With New York poised to start offering a tuition-free college education for some students, public colleges may be worth a closer look. New York lawmakers approved the tuition initiative this weekend as part of the state budget. Under the plan - which New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed in January - the state will supplement aid for in-state residents whose families earn $125,000 or less, providing tuition-free education at all state public two- and four-year colleges. "College ... should always be an option even if you can't afford it," Gov. Cuomo said in a statement on the program's inclusion in the state budget. "The Excelsior Scholarship will make college accessible to thousands of working and middle class students and shows the difference that government can make." The program will phase in over three years, starting in the fall of 2017 for New Yorkers earning up to $100,000 and increasing to $110,000 in 2018. The state expects it to benefit an estimated 940,000 families. Eligible New Yorkers will still be on the hook for room and board and other expenses. Among other scholarship requirements, students must also agree to live and work in New York for the same number of years after graduation as they received the scholarship.
It all started when roommates Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo realized that the lumps in their couch's pillows were actually envelopes stuffed with money. They'd bought the couch for $20 at a Salvation Army store. "It had these bubble wrap envelopes," Werkhoven [said]. "We ripped them out and [found] like an inch and a half of $100 bills." The discovery was like a dream for the three friends. As they counted the money, they talked about what they might do with it; Werkhoven says he wanted to buy his mom a new car. But then they spotted a name among the envelopes, and realized they were faced with an ethical puzzle. "We had a lot of moral discussions about the money," Russo [said]. "We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to. A phone number led them to the family that had donated the couch - and to answers about why it was full of money. It turned out that the money was socked away out of [a] woman's late husband's concerns that he wouldn't always be there for his wife (she has chosen to remain anonymous). It represented decades of savings, including wages from the woman's job as a florist. For years, she also slept on the couch. But recent back problems led her daughter and son-in-law to replace it with a bed, meaning that the couch had to go. "This was her life savings and she actually said something really beautiful, like 'This is my husband looking down on me and this was supposed to happen,' " Guasti [said].
Several people in our community swear by earthing - also called grounding - for everything from inflammation and arthritis to insomnia and depression. Longtime earthing-movement leader Clint Ober explains: "The simplest and most natural method of grounding is to go outdoors and place your bare feet and hands directly on the earth—many people choose to go for a barefoot walk in the park or on the beach. For people who don’t have safe access to a place to walk barefoot (or for whom it’s inconvenient to do so for long periods of time), there are grounded mats that allow people to work grounded, with their bare feet placed on the mat. When I started grounding myself, the first noticeable effect was that I slept much better. Eventually I met Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a New York-based cardiologist, who wanted to look into the effect of grounding on inflammation. Since then, we’ve found that grounding improves sleep, reduces chronic pain, and speeds healing. In fact, many professional athletes sleep grounded, as it reduces pain and facilitates quicker recovery for sore muscles. Grounding greatly reduces blood viscosity, particularly after exercise, in part helping to counteract exercise-induced inflammation. As of today, there are twenty-one ... published studies examining the health benefits of earthing. We currently have [another] study underway at the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, which is designed to measure the effects of body-workers’ inflammation and health as a result of being grounded during work.
Kevin Butt's job is to find cleaner ways to power Toyota. One of the hardest places to do that is at the automaker's sprawling plant in central Kentucky, a state where nearly 90 percent of electricity still comes from coal. A few years ago, Toyota decided that by 2050 all of its operations, all around the world, should be zero-carbon. It's part of a larger business shift. In Kentucky, General Motors, Ford, Walmart, L'Oreal and others also have big goals to reduce emissions. "There's not enough renewable energy being manufactured right now for all of us to do what we say we want to do," Butt says. "The future is renewables and the large corporations that want renewables," says Jim Gardner, who used to regulate power companies as a member of Kentucky's Public Service Commission. Two years ago, Gardner was struck by an encounter with a local man who worked remotely for Facebook. He told Gardner that big corporations were actually deciding where to expand based on where they could get renewable energy. "He made it seem like there was ... a list with a lot of states with big X's marked in," says Gardner, "so that Facebook and others were not looking because [some states] were not going to be open to renewables." The Public Service Commission worried the state was missing out. It quietly issued an official statement — "a clear signal to people outside of the state," says Gardner - that if a big customer wanted renewable energy, Kentucky's utilities could cut a special deal to provide it.
In 60 cities in India, 16,876 tons of plastic waste are generated each day. More than 6 million tons of plastic ... end up in landfills a year. Such figures were keeping Medha Tadpatrikar awake at night. She was also deeply troubled by an incident she had witnessed on a safari in India – a deer choking on a plastic packet that it had swallowed. “I realized how big this plastic problem is and how every creature on this earth is affected by it,” she says of the incident. So Dr. Tadpatrikar resolved to find a way to make plastic waste useful. She and Shirish Phadtare started experimenting in Tadpatrikar’s kitchen. “Plastic is made of crude oil, and we wanted to reverse the process to get usable oil,” Tadpatrikar explains. This experimenting duo has come up with an operation in the Pune, India, area that benefits the environment in several ways. They are indeed producing fuel, using a process that doesn’t emit toxic gases. And by pressing plastic waste into service, they’re reducing the amount of plastic headed toward landfills. Moreover, the oil itself is eco-friendly – a better choice than some of the other fuels that villagers living near Pune use. “Much cheaper than any other fuel in the market, this one is used in cooking stoves, in generators, and even to run tractors,” explains Tadpatrikar. The fuel ... is carefully collected in bottles, and it’s sold to people in 122 villages around Pune at a subsidized rate of 38 rupees (53 cents) per liter.
Note: Similar technology has been developed numerous times around the world, yet somehow the technology is not widely embraced. Could it be that big money doesn't want this to happen? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The last weekend of June every year for 37 years has been given over to the running of the Western States 100 Mile Trail Run, the premier endurance running race in the world. It starts [in] Squaw Valley and ends ... in Auburn, California, 100 miles distant with a cumulative altitude gain of 15,000 feet and a 22,000 foot descent. The lead runners take about 16 hours to finish. In comparison running a marathon is trivial. Thirty seven years ago my wife Ruth Anne and I created prizes for the oldest male and female finishers as a celebration of the human potential. 3500 masochists apply, 350 gain a lottery start, 280 finish, the ultimate goal is to finish under 24 hours which is rewarded by a silver buckle, the second prize is finishing under 30 hours and a bronze buckle. Last year, 2015, was Ruth Anne’s last hurrah. Her Alzheimer’s disease was brutal, she scarcely knew what was going. She died three weeks later, but she was there to join in the ecstasy as Gunhild Swanson became the first woman over 70 years of age to win a buckle. This year the joint was jumping as 72-year-old Wally Hesseltine hoped to be the oldest ever finisher. He made the finish in thirty hours and one minute. I presented our awards to the oldest female and male as usual. But I gave an extra shout out to Bruce Labelle, 60 years of age who finished nobly just as he had 35 years before. Any youngster can do the 100 mile race and keep it up once or twice, but for a 60-year-old to keep it up for 35 years should be celebrated and emulated.
Note: Watch a 12-minute video of 72-year-old Wally Hesseltine's attempt to complete 100 miles in 30 hours. Wow!!!
A study led by The University of Western Australia has found plants have far more complex and developed senses than we thought with the ability to detect and respond to sounds to find water, and ultimately survive. In the study "Tuned in: plant roots use sound to locate water" ... UWA researchers found that plants can sense sound vibrations from running water moving through pipes or in the soil, to help their roots move towards the source of water. The study also revealed that plants do not like certain noises and will move away from particular sounds. Lead researcher Dr Monica Gagliano ... said water was a basic need for a plant's survival, and the study showed that sound plays a significant role in helping plants cater to this need. "We used the common garden pea plant ... as the model for our study and [gave] it a choice of two directions for the growth of its roots. "We then exposed the plant to a series of sounds, including white noise, running water and then a recording of running water under each tube, and observed its behaviour. The plants could tell where the source of the water was and their root systems grew towards that source. "The plant could actually tell when the sound of running water was a recording and when it was real and that the plant did not like the recorded sound." When moisture was readily available in the soil, the plant did not respond to the sound of running water. "From this we begin to see the complexity of plant interactions with sound in using it to make behavioural decisions," Dr Gagliano said.
The mind and body regulate breathing and vice versa at the cellular level. More than 25 years ago, researchers ... discovered a small bundle of about 3,000 interlinked neurons inside the brainstems of animals, including people, that seem to control most aspects of breathing. They dubbed these neurons the breathing pacemaker. Recently, a group of scientists ... began using sophisticated new genetics techniques to study individual neurons in the pacemaker. They eventually identified about 65 different types of neurons ... with a unique responsibility for regulating some aspect of breathing. For the newest study... researchers carefully disabled [a] type of breathing-related neuron in mice. Afterward, the animals at first seemed unchanged. But when the mice were placed in unfamiliar cages, which normally would incite jittery exploring and lots of nervous sniffing - a form of rapid breathing - the animals instead sat serenely grooming themselves. “They were, for mice, remarkably chill,” says Dr. Mark Krasnow, a professor of biochemistry at Stanford who oversaw the research. It turned out that the particular neurons in question showed direct biological links to a portion of the brain that is known to be involved in arousal. This area sends [directs] us to wake up, be alert and, sometimes, become anxious or frantic. In the mellow mice, this area of the brain remained quiet. The implication of this work ... is that taking deep breaths is calming because it does not activate the neurons that communicate with the brain’s arousal center.
Sex trafficking wasn't a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice. Jacobs thought that too ... until [a] violent pimp forced [her] to work as a sex slave. The awareness of sex trafficking has changed a lot since then. Just last year, an old motor home parked at a truck stop caught the eye of trucker Kevin Kimmel. "I saw a guy go in it," Kimmel says. "And then I saw what I thought was a young girl peek out and be abruptly pulled back from the window." Kimmel called the police - and ended weeks of ... forced prostitution for the victim. Kylla Lanier says that Kimmel's actions "epitomizes the mission" of her group, Truckers Against Trafficking. She founded the group with her mother and three sisters a few years ago. "Trafficking happens everywhere," Lanier says. "It's happening in homes, in conference centers, at schools, casinos, truck stops, hotels, motels, everywhere. You know, it's an everywhere problem, but truckers happen to be everywhere." And these days TAT stickers, wallet cards and posters - showing a phone number for a sex trafficking hotline - are becoming ubiquitous in the trucking industry. TAT teaches drivers to try to spot sullen, hopeless-looking children, teens and young adults. Jacobs managed to escape her life of forced prostitution. Now she counsels other survivors and works with TAT. Calls to the hotline [promoted by TAT] have freed hundreds of trafficking victims.
Note: Watch this inspiring video to see how these truckers are saving lives.