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.
In every corner of the world, there are people who are flagrantly ill, people who mutter to invisible others and box at the air. In India ... Madhu’s relatives dealt with her illness by abandoning her at a healing shrine. She wandered the country [until] the outreach team from an organization called the Banyan found her ... on the street. Since the Banyan was started in 1993, it has rescued over 1,500 women from the street. The group’s members wash, feed and medicate the women, and then they teach them to sew, cook and do other tasks. Families are more likely to take the women back if they come with medication and domestic skills. Over half the women have since been reunited with their kin. When I visited the Banyan, I was struck by how happy and grateful the women were. The atmosphere seemed so different from the palpable anger and fear in the shelters that catered to women with serious mental illness that I knew from working in Chicago. The challenge for the Banyan is to enable women to be useful to families who may not accept them back if they cannot work. In our country, it’s different. Because of our underfunded and fragmented mental health system, it is commonplace for people with psychosis to become periodically homeless. They often end up living in a street culture that teaches them that they become crazy only if they are weak. They distrust help, and they have learned that they should never admit to being ill. To reach the people who need our help we need to understand what it means to be crazy in their world.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The Iceman's students look wary as they watch him dump bag after bag of ice into the tub of water where they will soon be taking a dip. Under the direction of "Iceman" Wim Hof, the group of athletes is going to stay in the water for minutes practising his meditation techniques. Hof, 52, earned his nickname from feats such as remaining in a tank of ice in Hong Kong for almost 2 hours [and] swimming half the length of a football field under a sheet of ice in the Arctic. Hof tells his students meditation in the cold strengthens mind and body. For most people, hypothermia begins shortly after exposure to freezing temperatures without adequate clothing, and it can quickly lead to death. Hof says he can endure cold so well because he has learned to activate parts of his mind beyond the reach of most people's conscious control, and crank up what he calls his "inner thermostat." "I never had a teacher, and I never had lessons, other than hard Nature itself," he says in an interview at his apartment in Amsterdam. "If you do it wrong, it hurts and you take some knocks, and if you do it right, then you really learn." Hof may be able to exercise some influence over other body functions considered involuntary, [and] tells his students at the Rotterdam workshop that viewing mental and physical training as separate may hinder their performance. Hof describes the three main elements in his method as controlled breathing, paying close mental attention to signals coming from the body, and crucially, keeping an open mind.
President Barack Obama announced new measures to smooth the integration of former criminals into society. "We've got to make sure Americans who have paid their debt to society can earn their second chance," Obama said in a speech at Rutgers University in Newark, a city of about 280,000 that has grappled for decades with poverty and high rates of violent crime. Obama said he was banning "the box" that applicants had to check about their criminal histories when applying for certain federal jobs. He praised companies such as Wal-Mart, Target, Koch Industries, and Home Depot for taking similar measures in the private sector. The president noted that Congress was considering similar measures. The new steps unveiled by the White House included up to $8 million in federal education grants over three years for former inmates as well as new guidance on the use of arrest records in determining eligibility for public and federally assisted housing. Obama in July became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. He has called on Congress to pass legislation to change sentencing laws to help reduce the number of people serving long sentences for non-violent drug crimes. With only 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States accounts for about 25 percent of the world’s prison population, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Note: Read another rich article on ABC News where Obama shares vulnerably about his history and concerns with the justice system.
During the past few months, young Iraqis met each evening in a sparsely furnished building in Baghdad’s Karada neighborhood to ... rebrand their city from one of war to one of peace. Baghdad [is] the heart and soul of Iraq’s culture; cosmopolitan, diverse, and dynamic. The annual Baghdad City of Peace Carnival ... attended this year by more than 15,000 people, provided opportunities for some 500 young people to volunteer, collaborating across political, ethnic, and religious lines in an effort to show the positive side of Baghdad that they see. This year’s carnival included displays of paintings and handicrafts from local artists, readings of traditional poetry, performances by Iraqi and Western-style musicians, a book fair, free health checkups from medical students, and fundraising by local organizations. For Caesar Alwardii, the carnival is a second job. “I work from 8 to 4 every day, and then I come here,” he explains. “I spend more time on this than my actual job because this ... reminds people that there are things to be proud of and happy about in Baghdad.” Now the idea of the carnival may be spreading. “Our goal is that next year every province in Iraq, on one day, will have a Day of Peace,” he says. This year, the carnival took place on the heels of protests in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. Noof Assi, one of the organizers of the carnival and a leader in the demonstrations ... sees [these events] as a sign of hope for a better future, especially as struggling Iraqis continue to flee to Europe.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is taking on an unlikely opponent: junk food. Brady got heated during an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI about Coca-Cola. "The fact that they can sell that, you know, to kids, that's, I mean that's poison for kids, but they keep doing it," Brady said. Brady, a father to two sons and one daughter, also took a shot at breakfast cereals, specifically the cereal represented in advertisements by the character Tony the Tiger. "That's just America and that's what we've been conditioned to so, you know, we believe that Frosted Flakes are actually, is a food," he said. The 38-year-old, four-time Super Bowl champion credited a healthy diet as a big part of his on-field success. He also accused certain large food and beverage companies of false advertising. "All those companies make lots of money selling those things," Brady told WEEI. "They have lots of money to advertise, you know? When you go to the Super Bowl, it's you know, that's who are the sponsors. That's the education that we get. That's what we get brainwashed to believe."
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The European Parliament voted Thursday in support of a resolution that calls on member states to protect Edward Snowden from extradition. The vote ... has no legal force. The resolution urges nations to drop criminal charges and "consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender." Snowden called Thursday's vote a "game-changer." "This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward," he wrote.The Justice Department has said Snowden would face criminal prosecution if he returns to the United States. He's been charged with three felony counts, including violations of the U.S. Espionage Act. Snowden told the BBC this month that he has offered "many times" to go to prison in the United States as part of a deal to return from exile in Russia, but is still waiting for an answer from the American government. In response to Thursday's vote, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. policy on Snowden has not changed. "He needs to come back to the United States and face the due process and the judicial process here in the United States.
In a study published in the January edition of the journal Mindfulness, psychologists ... asked 313 adults if they had helped anyone during the previous week. Eighty-five percent said they had — by, say, listening to a friend’s problems, babysitting, donating to charity, or volunteering. This small study reveals a truth that is consistently demonstrated in many domains of research: We care deeply for one other, and ... would rather help our fellow beings than not. Even more, the science shows that refusing to help others can have debilitating, long-term mental and physical consequences for ourselves. Isolation hurts, physically; so does aggression. Every angry word we utter fries neurons and wears out our hearts. Here’s an experiment you can perform right now: Think about something stressful that happened to you during the past week. Now scan your body: How does your chest, stomach, or neck feel? Then think about something good that happened during the same period, however small. Now what happens in your body? Did you feel any difference? The research predicts that the stressful memory caused you physical discomfort. Your tight chest and clenched stomach doesn’t make the world a better place. So what can you do? Science has an answer, and it starts with counting ... the good things in life. That doesn’t mean we ignore the bad. But all too often our negativity bias leads us to see only the bad, in other people as well as in ourselves. By counting the good things, we see reality more clearly.
Note: The new site Greater Good in Action offers concrete, research-tested practices for individuals to cultivate strengths like awe, gratitude, empathy, and compassion.
It may seem straight out of "Star Trek," but it's real: Scientists have created a sonic "tractor beam" that can pull, push and pirouette objects that levitate in thin air. The sonic tractor beam relies on a precisely timed sequence of sound waves that create a region of low pressure that traps tiny objects that can then be manipulated solely by sound waves. Though the new demonstration was just a proof of concept, the same technique could be adapted to remotely manipulate cells inside the human body or target the release of medicine locked in acoustically activated drug capsules, said study co-author Bruce Drinkwater. The principle behind the new system is simple: Sound waves, which are waves of high and low pressure that travel through a medium such as air, produce force. "We've all experienced the force of sound," Drinkwater told Live Science. "It's a question of harnessing that force." By tightly orchestrating the release of these sound waves, it should be possible to create a region with low pressure that effectively counteracts gravity. Drinkwater, his Ph.D. student Asier Marzo and other colleagues ... found three different acoustic force fields. One works like tweezers and seems to grab the particles in thin air. Another traps the object in a high-pressure cage. The third type of force field acts a bit like a swirling tornado, with a rotating high-pressure field surrounding a low-pressure, quiet "eye" that holds the object in place.
Note: Watch a video of this incredible tractor beam in action.
The Grant Study ... is now the longest longitudinal study of biosocial human development ever undertaken, and is still on-going. The study’s goal was to identify the key factors to a happy and healthy life. In 2009, I delved into the Grant Study data to establish a Decathlon of Flourishing - a set of ten accomplishments that covered many different facets of success. Two of the items in the Decathlon had to do with economic success, four with mental and physical health, and four with social supports and relationships. Then I set out to see how these accomplishments correlated, or didn’t, with three gifts of nature and nurture - physical constitution, social and economic advantage, and a loving childhood. The results were as clear-cut as they were startling. In contrast with the weak and scattershot correlations among the biological and socioeconomic variables, a loving childhood - and other factors like empathic capacity and warm relationships as a young adult - predicted later success in all ten categories of the Decathlon. What’s more, success in relationships was very highly correlated with both economic success and strong mental and physical health. In short, it was a history of warm intimate relationships ... that predicted flourishing. The Grant Study finds that nurture trumps nature. And by far the most important influence on a flourishing life is love. Not early love exclusively, and not necessarily romantic love. But love early in life facilitates not only love later on, but also the other trappings of success, such as high income and prestige.
School lunches are undergoing a big change in Marin County [CA]. In fact, one school might be making food history. This is school lunch as a fine dining experience, with fresh flowers on each table and the chef sitting down to personally explain his menu; one he's made from scratch. And everything is 100 percent organic and non-genetically modified. The Marin City School District is said to be the first in the nation to offer that. "It's literally the best we can get, that's the starting point," said Judi Shils, director of Turning Green. "That's how we can begin to start making bodies healthy and minds healthy." Turning Green is a nonprofit that launched the Conscious Kitchen at Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy in 2013 and this year added a second site. Some of the produce comes from the school's own garden. Because many of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, the federal government picks up the tab for the meals. But the Conscious Kitchen also has an influential local partner. Justin Everett, the acclaimed Executive Chef at Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, consults on menus and mentors some of the students. "Food speaks to everybody and that's this great way that we can connect with kids," said Everett. For some, it's a learning process. "I didn't like everything," said one student. But most like the switch from pre-packaged foods. "It's fresh, doesn't have pesticides in it," said another student. A healthy breakfast and a snack are also served and educators say they've seen improvement in behavior and grades.
Note: This article neglected to mention that teachers at the school have reported that as a result of the dietary change, they have seen increased leadership qualities exhibited by students, improved academic performance, and a huge 67% decrease in disciplinary cases.
Free Money Day, being celebrated today, is an annual event where people hand out money to strangers, two notes or coins at a time, asking them to pass half on to someone else. Using fun and intrigue, the day encourages conversations about our broken financial system and how its very design increases inequality. The Free Money Day project began in 2011 when a number of researchers at the Post Growth Institute were looking for a way to engage the broader population in a conversation on financial reform. Four years later, more than 200 Free Money Day events spanning 41 countries have been held, and more than US$10,000 (Ł6,500) has been distributed. In Moerewa, New Zealand, for example, buskers Emma and Derek handed out money to people listening to their music. In Mexico City, Axel gave his money to people living on the streets with a request that they in turn pass half on to strangers. In Utah, Roger handed out two $1 bills to each of his restaurant co-workers. Others have taken the experiment beyond money. In 2012, Gonçalo’s video store in Lisbon, Portugal, for example, offered free movie rentals. In the same year, Layne and Patcharin in Chiang Mai, Thailand, were so inspired by the Free Money Day concept that they gave away half of their 14-acre land holding to begin a land trust for permaculture farmers. By exploring the real value of money, Free Money Day encourages people to consider how they can put it to better use.
Ra Paulette ... has been scraping and shaping New Mexico's sandstone into man-made caves of art. He calls them his wilderness shrines - massive in scale, poetic in their design. "I see this as an environmental project; I'm trying to open up people's feelings," he said. He has no degree in sculpting. He's not a structural engineer, and he's not an architect. He is simply a man who found his passion. "Most of the wonder that I feel is in the actual making of the caves," he said. "Once they're made, I move on, if I want fresh wonder." He's found that fresh wonder digging about a dozen caves so far, most commissioned by nearby residents who want a piece of livable art. One cave along the Rio Grande River even has power, a wood floor, and a colorful bathtub with running water. It took Paulette two years to dig. He charged a mere $12 an hour in labor. "You don't do this for the money, you're not getting rich off making these beautiful places," said Cowan. "No, it's the process, you know? I'm having the time of my life." Recently ... documentary filmmaker heard of the caves, and spent three years following Paulette as he dug. The result was a film so unique it was nominated for an Academy Award. Suddenly, Ra Paulette was a caveman with a following. Showing us his latest project, [he said], "This is the largest thing I've ever done." At 67, he'll be well into his 70s before he shares this cave with the world. He hopes those who come here will find in its solitude what Ra Paulette already has: a sense of peace, and purpose.
Note: These caves bear some similarity to the intriguing carved caves in New Mexico allegedly created by a group called the WingMakers.
Two movies on similar missions are opening within weeks of each other this season, “Racing Extinction” and “This Changes Everything,” both exploring the devastation humanity has wrought on the natural world. Yet rather than focusing only on what is dying and lost, both films offer messages of hope, profiling people who have helped stop ... the pillaging of wildlife and land. Naomi Klein, who adapted “This Changes Everything,” based on her book of the same name, said a film salesman ... told her that he would market the movie only if there was no reference to climate change in the marketing. If you beat people over the head with shame, guilt and despair ... people turn away and try to forget about it. Cognizant of such aversion, the teams behind each film ... developed similar plans: target the people most passionate about what’s at stake, and bank on them to draw in others. “We want to make sure we approach the core audience directly,” said Richard Abramowitz, whose company, Abramorama, is distributing both films. “Racing Extinction” got a head start with its message this summer when the director and his collaborators projected images of endangered animals onto the Empire State Building. “This Changes Everything”... focuses on grass-roots movements that thwarted oil companies and communities that embraced renewable energy. It’s all part of the effort to get people to see the movie and then take an action.
Medicine Hat, a city in southern Alberta, pledged in 2009 to put an end to homelessness. Now they say they've fulfilled their promise. No one in the city spends more than 10 days in an emergency shelter or on the streets. If you've got no place to go, they'll simply provide you with housing. "We're pretty much able to meet that standard today. Even quicker, actually, sometimes," [said] Mayor Ted Clugston. Clugston admits that when the project began in 2009, when he was an alderman, he was an active opponent of the plan. "I even said some dumb things like, 'Why should they have granite countertops when I don't,'" he says. "However, I've come around to realize that this makes financial sense." Clugston says that it costs about $20,000 a year to house someone. If they're on the street, it can cost up to $100,000 a year. "This is the cheapest and the most humane way to treat people," he says. "Housing First puts everything on its head. It used to be, 'You want a home, get off the drugs or deal with your mental health issues,'" Clugston says. "If you're addicted to drugs, it's going to be pretty hard to get off them, if you're sleeping under a park bench." And the strategy has worked. In Medicine Hat, emergency room visits and interactions with police have dropped. But there was one change that initially surprised Clugston — court appearances went up. "They end up dealing with their past, atoning for their sins," he says. Clugston believes that no one on the streets is unreachable.
After decades on the fringes, impact investing is going mainstream. Though the phrase isn’t yet commonplace, the concept is familiar enough to have spawned several monikers: values-based investing, green investing, mission-driven investing, sustainable investing, socially responsible investing, principled investing. Some 3,000 investors and entrepreneurs convened at Fort Mason this week to discuss the idea at SOCAP, the leading conference for people who want to support social innovation with their money. “Social-impact investors want to make sure they are doing good in the world but as a genuine investment, not philanthropy,” said Eryc Branham, CEO of MissionHub, which produces the conference. The rapidly growing field measures returns not just in dollars and cents but in social and environmental change. On the financial side, some investors accept lower returns as a trade-off for doing good. But they don’t necessarily have to. A new report from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that pursuing a social agenda doesn’t come at a financial price. After studying 53 funds with 557 investments, Wharton found that their rate of return from 2000 to 2014 was in line with benchmarks like the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. While impact investing amounts are still small compared with the multitrillion-dollar financial market, the potential for making a difference is immense.
Note: Learn how the microcredit movement is providing investors with financial returns while empowering small business owners and lifting people out of poverty.
Caitlin Prater-Haacke of Alberta, Canada was urged by bullies to kill herself, via Facebook post. Instead of sinking into negativity she turned the situation into a positive lesson. Lee Hirsch, director of the documentary “Bully,” which aired Monday on PBS Monday, is among those lending their support to Caitlin, who was reprimanded by her school for her “Positive Post-It Day” approach to bullies. In late September, someone broke into Caitlin’s locker at George McDougall High School in Airdrie, a community just north of Calgary, and wrote a Facebook status using Caitlin’s iPad that encouraged her to die. Rather than letting the bully win, the 11th grader wrote inspiring, positive, encouraging messages on 800 Post-It notes and left them around her school - with messages like "You're beautiful," "Love yourself," and "You're awesome.” Now her campaign has also taken to Twitter with the tag #PositivePostItDay. "Bullying is not necessarily addressed, and people get really down about it, I wanted to do something positive - it was about due time," Caitlin told the Toronto Sun. Caitlin’s town, led by a mayoral proclamation, banded together to launch a new anti-bullying campaign called “Positive Post-it Day” which encourages residents to leave anonymous notes of kindness for one another each year on Oct. 9. “What I really got out of this story is the way this student chose not to be derailed by this negative experience,” said Hirsch. “She became a role model to her classmates, teachers, her mayor and her town.”
Note: Watch a short video on this inspiring news story.
The FBI says crime rates, including murder, were down last year. The report is in contrast to headlines this year. In 2014 the U.S. recorded the fewest murders since 2009. Most other violent crimes, such as robbery, burglary, theft and arson have declined, while aggravated assaults and rapes, which now includes a broader definition, were on the rise in 2014. The 2014 numbers do not reflect an increase this year in murders and other violent crimes reported in some cities. Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates highlighted progress made for cities compared to decades past. "We have witnessed a remarkable drop in crime since the 1980's - both violent crime and crime overall. Entire cities have been transformed, unlocking tremendous potential and releasing a wave of prosperity," Yates said, adding that "even though crime is trending downward in most places, we are seeing pockets of rising violence in various locations across the country." While the FBI has expanded the report to include new statistics such as hate crimes and human trafficking arrests, it addressed concerns of transparency in the reporting of potential violent crimes committed by law enforcement officers on civilians.
Note: This article, like almost all media articles on the topic, fails to report the incredible news that violent crime rates have dropped to 1/3 of what they were just 20 years ago. Why are they not highlighting this incredibly inspiring news? For details on this awesome development, see this excellent webpage. See also an excellent graph on this.
Sixteen countries have alerted the European Union that they want to opt out of E.U.-approved GM crops. Members of the economic bloc have until Oct. 3 to let the E.U. know if they were requesting to opt out of growing GMO produce from major companies like Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and Pioneer, and according to the Food Navigator, a food trade publication, countries including Germany, Italy, Denmark, Bulgaria and Cyprus recently filed their requests and applications, increasing the number to 16. In August, Scotland publicly said it would prohibit GMO crops out of concern that they could damage the country’s “clean and green” brand. “Scotland is known around the world for our beautiful natural environment – and banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status,” Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said in a statement at the time. “A growing number of governments are rejecting the commission’s drive for GM crop approvals,” Greenpeace’s E.U. food policy director Franziska Achterberg told the Guardian. “They don’t trust the E.U. safety assessments and are rightly taking action to protect their agriculture and food. The only way to restore trust in the E.U. system now is for the commission to hit the pause button on GM crop approvals and to urgently reform safety testing and the approval system.”
Note: Read also an article on how the American Academy of Pediatrics has cut ties with Monsanto. To understand the serious risks and dangers of GMOs, see this excellent summary of the acclaimed book "Seeds of Deception."
Plastic, long considered nonbiodegradable and one of the biggest contributors to global pollution, might have met its match: The small, brownish, squirmy mealworm. Researchers have learned that the mealworm can live on a diet of Styrofoam and other types of plastic. Inside the mealworm's gut are microorganisms that are able to biodegrade polyethylene, a common form of plastic, according to new studies published in Environmental Science and Technology. The findings could help solve the plastic pollution problem affecting the world. The research documented 100 mealworms that consumed 34 to 39 milligrams of Styrofoam, which is about the weight of a pill, every day. Scientists also paid attention to the mealworms' overall health and saw larvae that ate a diet subsisting strictly of Styrofoam were as healthy as mealworms eating a normal diet of bran, [and] transformed the plastic they ate into carbon dioxide, worm biomass and biodegradable waste. This waste seemed safe to use in soil for plants and even crops, the studies said. Being able to find insects that can safely degrade plastic is critical to potential pollution management because other insects such as cockroaches can also consume plastic, but they have not shown biodegradation.
The sleek race car dubbed 'Blade' didn't come off an assembly line - but out of a 3D printer. Kevin Czinger of Divergent Microfactories has spent most of his career in the automotive industry. One day he realized that no matter how fuel-efficient or how few tailpipe emissions the modern car has, the business of car manufacturing is destroying the environment. "3D printing of metal radically changes that," said Czinger. Currently cars are pieced together on long assembly lines inside large factories that use massive amounts of energy. Even the most fuel-efficient car has a large carbon footprint before ever leaving the plant. Czinger and his team's approach was to take the large plant out of the equation. To accomplish this they printed the modular pieces that are used to connect carbon rods that make up the Blade's chassis. The 3D printed chassis is only 102 pounds and has the same strength and safety protection as a frame made out of steel. By using carbon fiber instead of steel or aluminum for the body, the entire vehicle only weighs 1400 pounds (635kg). The Blade ... runs on natural gas, reducing its carbon footprint even further. The core enabling technology, the ability to print out car components that can be easily assembled, is what Kevin Czinger hopes will revolutionize car manufacturing. He says electric cars are a step in the right direction, but alone they won't be enough to curb greenhouse emissions given the projected rise in demand for cars globally unless the way they are manufactured changes.
Note: Watch a five-minute video showing this exciting process.