Inspiring News Articles
Excerpts of Highly Inspiring News Articles in Major Media
Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news articles from the major media. Links are provided to the original inspiring news articles on their media websites. If any link fails, read this webpage. The most inspiring news articles are listed first. You can also explore the news articles listed by order of the date posted. For an abundance of other highly inspiring material, see our Inspiring Resources page. May these inspiring news articles inspire us to find ever more ways to love and support each other and all around us to be the very best we can be.
Maybe it's the 17 freezers he keeps running in his apartment, or his nodding eyes from lack of sleep. Spend a few hours with Allan Law and you start to realize a little crazy comes with his kindness. "It's stupid," Law agrees. "Last night I got no sleep out in the streets, but I slept two hours today." Next week, the Minnesotan known as the "Sandwich Man" will be honored by Minneapolis Rotary for his efforts on behalf of homeless people. Law started serving disadvantaged Minnesotans while still a teacher for Minneapolis Public Schools. His efforts hit high gear when he retired 16 years ago. Working out of the van he drives through the night, last year Law handed out more than 700,000 sandwiches, 7,000 pair of socks and 75,000 bus tokens. Some of his work is funded by his teaching pension, the rest is covered by donations to his non-profit organization, Minneapolis Recreation Development. Those 17 freezers in his apartment store sandwiches made by 800 church, business, and civic groups each year. Law delivers some of the sandwiches for distribution by shelters, others he hands out by himself. "I bring sandwiches so not only will they have something to eat, but when they leave in the morning they can take a couple sandwiches with them." He also makes the rounds to gas stations during the night, collecting food that would otherwise go into dumpsters, for quick distribution to the homeless. "Sometimes I get emotional," Law says. "Somebody has to care."
Note: Watch a great, five-minute video on this caring man who makes a big difference.
A shorter work day increases productivity and makes people happier. The Svartedalens retirement home in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, conducted an experiment to determine whether cutting hours improved patient care and boosted employees' morale. Nurses who worked six-hour days for the past year were found to be 20 per cent happier and had more energy at work and in their spare time. The 68 nurses also took half as much sick time as those in the control group and were able to do 64 per cent more activities with elderly residents. They were also 2.8 times less likely to take any time off work in a two-week period, Bengt Lorentzon, a researcher on the project, told Bloomberg. "If the nurses are at work more time and are more healthy, this means that the continuity at the residence has increased," Mr Lorentzon said. "That means higher quality [care]." Sweden made headlines in 2015 when it was reported the country was moving towards a six-hour work day. A Toyota centre in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, implemented shorter working hours over a decade ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate and an increase in profits. Their results prompted a number of other Swedish companies to trial shorter hours. Longer working hours have been linked with heart disease and stroke, according to a medical study published in The Lancet.
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Komal Ahmad ... is the founder and CEO of Copia, an online platform that connects businesses with leftover food to local organizations that can distribute that food to people in need. While an undergraduate ... Ahmad was walking down the street when she was approached by a homeless man who asked her for money to buy food. Instead of giving him a few bucks, Ahmad decided to take him out to lunch and discovered that he was an Iraq war veteran. “That hit me like a ton of bricks,” she said, noting that she’d just gotten back from summer training for the U.S. Navy. “It was almost like a glimpse of my future. This was a perfectly educated guy, came from a good family. He was just a person who was down on his luck.” Across the street from where Ahmad and the man had eaten lunch, the university’s cafeteria was throwing out thousands of pounds of leftover food. Right then, the dual problems of hunger and food waste struck her. “Those who have and are wasting and those who need and are starving - and they’re both living quite literally right across the street from each other,” she said. “That’s just ridiculous.” Ahmad launched Feeding Forward, a local service that began ... in 2011 and has since grown into the tech startup Copia, which has now distributed some 600,000 pounds of food to 720,000 people in need. As Copia expands, Ahmad said that she hopes her phone app will set the stage for new platforms that can redistribute a wider array of necessities, like medicine and medical supplies.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Only a fraction of the Earth's water is drinkable - an estimate from the U.S. Geological Survey puts all of the world's freshwater at just 2.5 percent of the total global water. What if we could diversify and pull water from the air, instead? Now, a new invention does just that. Fontus is a water bottle that pulls moisture from the air, and in ideal conditions, can fills itself up in under an hour. The water bottle comes from Austrian industrial designer Kristof Retezár, who wanted to make a simple, portable tool to help people where drinkable water isn't easy to get. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs reports that 1.2 billion people, around a fifth of the world's population, live in areas where water is physically scarce. Another 1.6 live in countries where water infrastructure and storage is lacking. The Fontus uses solar energy to power a small cooler or condenser that works by the so-called Peltier effect. Air passing through the cold chamber rapidly condenses like droplets on the outside of a cold glass. In "really good" conditions, or temperatures between 86 and 104 degrees with humidity between 80 and 90 percent, the Fontus can generate half a liter of water in an hour. In the future, Retezár says the company hopes to improve that so the bottle can work in more conditions. The project was shortlisted for the 2014 James Dyson Award. Next the company hopes to launch a crowdfunding campaign and get the price of the water bottle under $100.
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“People always say to me, ‘Anyone who runs as much as you do deserves to be skinny.’ Of course, what they're really saying: ‘If you do all this running, why are you still so fat?’” Early that morning [Mirna] Valerio had led a three-mile group run around the campus of Rabun Gap-Na-coochee School in the nearby town of Rabun Gap, where she serves as Spanish teacher, choir director, and head coach of the cross-country team. She's about to start her second run of the day. Every run, every race, every traverse of a mountain trail, every gym workout, Valerio begins by taking a photo. “To prove that I was out here,” she explains. Later, she will post the photos on ... her blog, Fat Girl Running, in which she both writes of the joys of the running life and thoughtfully, humorously, and sometimes angrily rebuts her doubters, who can't believe that a self-described fat person might discover - or deserve - this kind of joy. With a BMI ... above the National Institutes of Health-established line defining obesity, Valerio, a marathoner, ultramarathoner, and trail runner, has emerged as ... a living argument that it's possible to be both fit and fat. “I'm pretty much in love with my body,” she writes. “Sometimes I get disappointed or angry with it, but like any long-term, committed relationship, it usually comes right back to love and respect.” By making peace with her obesity - or, more accurately, by fighting her disease to a kind of enduring, vigorously active truce - Valerio draws kudos from a formerly skeptical medical community.
Note: Read another great piece on this inspiring woman.
Homelessness isn’t backpacking. It’s not military marching. But there are aspects of those things that can make a big difference to a penniless drifter. [Philanthropist Ron Kaplan] had a backpack designed specifically for the homeless. He brought 400 of them to hand out for free in San Francisco ... at the the city's one-stop-aid Navigation Center on Mission Street. Earlier in the week they handed out 600 backpacks in Hayward, Oakland and Berkeley. This was the 44th city they’ve come to since the pack - called Citypak - was invented with High Sierra Sport Co. in 2012. This sturdy, waterproof, multi-pocketed and security-conscious contraption is ... dignity, acknowledgment, freedom and engagement all rolled into one black bag. “I had found that every shelter in America gives out food, clothing, toiletries and the rest, but then homeless people put them in big black trash bags and say goodbye,” Kaplan said. “So I thought, why not create something that gives them more dignity, that helps them as they try to get their lives together?” Fitting tight to the back, with well-padded straps, the pack is made for hours of comfortable carrying. In a bottom pocket is a waterproof, military-style poncho that covers the entire person and backpack. “We’re always getting suggestions to make adjustments, so it’s changed as we go,” Kaplan said. “When I first started doing this, I thought I would just make about 200 and walk around Chicago handing them out,” he said. “Now, by the end of this year we will have given out 22,500 all over the country.”
When David Lee Windecher comes to court, he cuts a striking figure. Once known as “Red,” a notorious North Miami gangster, Windecher has come a long way. The drug dealer and larcenist who had been arrested 13 times by his 20th birthday ... has morphed into one of Atlanta’s hottest young lawyers. Only four years into his law career, [he] uses his own gripping memoir – “The American Dream: HisStory in the Making” – to give troubled kids a road map to putting their adolescent mistakes in the rearview mirror. His message: Too many Americans – prosecutors, citizens, and even gangsters themselves – buy into a myth that youths are a lost cause. Those sentiments were cemented into law in the 1980s and ’90s. “Second chances come hard,” he says. “The problem is that everyone, even the gangsters, looks at the worst, not the potential in other people. But the fact is, you are not a victim of circumstance. You have a choice.” It took watching his brother and two sisters turning to gang life, finding faith in a higher power, and meeting an aspiring FBI agent ... for Windecher to see that there was a way out. He was also shaken by a poem titled “The Monument,” about how God gives each person a unique set of problems to resolve. It says, “no one else may have the blessings that these problems will bring you.” In 2011, Windecher secured an internship with the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, [where] in the juvenile division ... he began to strengthen the county’s diversion programs aimed at keeping first-time offenders out of long-term detention.
In the mid 1970s, psychologist Merrill Elias began tracking the cognitive abilities of more than a thousand people. The goal: to observe the relationship between people's blood pressure and brain performance. There was never an inkling that his research would lead to any sort of discovery about chocolate. And yet, 40 years later, it seems to have done just that. The questionnaire gathered all sorts of information about the dietary habits of the participants, [which] revealed an interesting pattern. "We found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively," said Elias. "It's significant - it touches a number of cognitive domains." The findings ... come largely thanks to the interest of Georgina Crichton, a nutrition researcher. What's going on? Crichton can't say with absolute certainty. Nor can Elias, who says he expected to observe the opposite effect - that chocolate, given its sugar content, would be correlated with stunted rather than enhanced cognitive abilities. But they have a few ideas. Nutrients called cocoa flavanols, which are found naturally in cocoa, and thus chocolate, seem to have a positive effect on people's brains. Chocolate, like both coffee and tea, also has methylxanthines, plant-produced compounds that enhance various bodily functions. A lot of previous research has shown that there are, or at least could be, immediate cognitive benefits from eating chocolate. But rarely, if ever, have researchers been able to observe the impact of habitual chocolate eating on the brain.
Yuval Roth woke at the crack of dawn to drive his large, white van from his home on Israel’s Mediterranean coast to Checkpoint 300, the main passageway leading from Palestiniancontrolled Bethlehem to Israeli-controlled Jerusalem. Over the past decade, Roth has made it his daily business to transport Palestinians needing medical treatment from army checkpoints to Israeli hospitals. “These encounters break down barriers,” Roth says. “Everything the Palestinians knew about us, and everything we knew about them, simply disintegrates.” [In 1993] Roth’s brother, Ehud, was kidnapped [and killed] by a Hamas cell in the Gaza Strip. Roth decided to mobilize his pain in the cause of education. He joined ... a nonprofit group comprising bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families. He began sharing his personal story with Israeli high school students, alongside a Palestinian counterpart. In late 2005, a Palestinian member of the group asked Roth for a favor: Could Roth drive his sick brother from a checkpoint on the Palestinian-occupied West Bank to Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel. Soon, another Palestinian approached Roth, requesting a ride ... for a Palestinian seeking a bone marrow transplant. “Things began to snowball,” Roth says. “I sent out a call for help online, and that’s how a group of volunteers started to form.” In late 2009, [a $10,000] donation forced Roth to register The Road to Recovery as a nonprofit group. Today it has some 400 active Israeli volunteers.
Citizens of one of the happiest countries on Earth are surprisingly comfortable contemplating a topic many prefer to avoid. Is that the key to joy? On a visit to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, I found myself sitting across from a man named Karma Ura, [confessing] something very personal. Not that long before, seemingly out of the blue, I had experienced some disturbing symptoms: shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness in my hands and feet. I feared I was having a heart attack. So I went to the doctor, who ran a series of tests and found... “Nothing,” said Ura. Even before I could complete my sentence, he knew that my fears were unfounded. I was not dying. I was having a panic attack. “You need to think about death for five minutes every day,” Ura replied. “It will cure you.” “How?” I said, dumbfounded. “It is this thing, this fear of death ... is what is troubling you.” “But why would I want to think about something so depressing?” “Rich people in the West, they have not touched dead bodies, fresh wounds, rotten things. This is a problem. This is the human condition. We have to be ready for the moment we cease to exist.” In Bhutanese culture, one is expected to think about death five times a day. The Bhutanese may be on to something. In a 2007 study, University of Kentucky psychologists [concluded] that “death is a psychologically threatening fact, but when people contemplate it, apparently the automatic system begins to search for happy thoughts”. Death is a part of life, whether we like it or not. Ignoring this essential truth comes with a ... cost.
Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiment has garnered a lot of attention since it first begun in 1999 and won a TED prize in 2013. It demonstrated that a group of students working together, motivated by a deep question and with access to a computer, could produce amazing results. Cleveland is a world away from Delhi, but Dora Bechtel says many of her students at Campus International School remind her of the Indian children she observed in videos about the Hole in the Wall experiment. Recently, Bechtel has been experimenting with Self-Organized Learning Environments, or SOLEs, in her elementary school classes. In a classroom SOLE, Bechtel asks her students a “messy question,” something that doesn’t have just one right answer, then sets them loose to research the question in small groups. Students choose who they work with, find their own information, draw their own conclusions and present their findings to the whole class. It can be a bit chaotic, but Bechtel says that’s often good. The method has students asking questions and taking ownership in a whole new way. As any teacher knows, finding challenging work for such a varied class of learners is extremely difficult. But because the SOLE is so open-ended, more advanced students are helping struggling students and kids access information in whatever way they can. The SOLE Cleveland website ... has question suggestions for teachers just getting started, arranged by grade level and subject.
Federal officials are preparing to enforce an 86-year-old ban on importing goods made by children or slaves under new provisions of a law signed by President Barack Obama. "This law slams shut an unconscionable and archaic loophole that forced America to accept products made by children or slave labor," said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who worked on the legislation. The Tariff Act of 1930, which gave Customs and Border Protection the authority to seize shipments where forced labor was suspected and block further imports, was last used in 2000, and has been used only 39 times all together largely because of two words: "consumptive demand" - if there was not sufficient supply to meet domestic demand, imports were allowed regardless of how they were produced. The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act signed by Obama on Wednesday eliminated that language, allowing stiffer enforcement. To start an investigation, Customs needs to receive a petition from anyone - a business, an agency, even a non-citizen - showing "reasonably but not conclusively" that imports were made at least in part with forced labor. A Labor Department list of more than 350 goods produced by child labor or forced labor provides a detailed breakdown that human rights groups plan to use as they petition the government to take action.
An episode of CBS’ “Undercover Boss” that turned out to be a life-changing experience for sporting goods mogul Mitchell Modell first aired last November. Mitchell Modell, the CEO of the 153-store chain Modell’s, shaved his head, donned an oversized walrus mustache and transformed into “Joey Glick,” a worker inside the company’s warehouse and at Modell’s Sporting Goods locations in Washington, D.C., and Connecticut. In disguise, he drove forklifts in the warehouse, ran a cash register, and was a stock boy, sales associate and shipping clerk. The eye-opening experience of working on the front lines alongside some of his lowest paid associates changed the chain - and Modell himself - forever. “As CEO, one of the things you always wonder about is what your associates (employees) are really thinking and what their days are like. It was a great education,” he said. Among the episode’s most moving moments is when he gifted one of his associates with a $250,000 check when he learned she had been living in a homeless shelter with her two kids. He also suffered greatly from the physicality of the job and vowed to lose weight. On the professional side he adjusted the company’s entire approach to customer service and implemented dozens of changes to increase profitability and cut red tape. “I tell everybody if you’re fortunate enough to be on ‘Undercover Boss’ to do it in a heartbeat,” he said. “If you’re not fortunate enough, then go work on the front lines. It’s an eye-opening experience.”
Note: Watch the inspiring video of how Modell gives one employee a huge, unexpected gift.
The lobby of TerraCycle’s global headquarters is far from what might be expected for a company that reported $18.7 million in revenue in 2014. the company’s core mission: reducing waste. “Everything around us will become waste,” says Tom Szaky, TerraCycle’s chief executive officer. “Our focus is on anything that you cannot recycle today, and that is 75 percent of all objects in the world.” Mr. Szaky founded TerraCycle in 2001 while a freshman at Princeton University. He and another student fed dining hall leftovers to worms and liquefied the worm compost, creating an organic and highly effective fertilizer. Lacking the money to package their product, the duo used soda bottles they retrieved from recycling bins as containers to peddle the worm poop. “That was the inspirational moment,” says Szaky, who decided to drop out of Princeton to pursue TerraCycle as a full-time endeavor. “What got me very excited was ... waste as a business idea.” Today, TerraCycle is an international leader in “recycling the unrecyclable,” building off the worm compost idea and using other waste materials to craft new products. TerraCycle runs recycling programs in more than 350,000 locations in 22 countries. [They] devise a plan to deal with each type of waste, and then process the waste through refurbishing it into something useful or through reprocessing it for recycling.