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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.


Note: This comprehensive list of inspiring news stories is usually updated once a week. See also a full index to revealing excerpts of key news articles on several dozen engaging topics.

2 New Yorkers Erased $1.5 Million in Medical Debt for Hundreds of Strangers
2018-12-05, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/05/nyregion/medical-debt-charity-ny.html

If a slim, yellow envelope with a Rye, N.Y., return address lands in your mailbox this holiday season, don’t throw it out. It’s not junk. Some 1,300 such envelopes have been sent to New Yorkers around the state, containing the good news that R.I.P. Medical Debt, a New York-based nonprofit organization, has purchased their medical debt — and forgiven it. Last spring, Judith Jones and Carolyn Kenyon, both of Ithaca, N.Y., heard about R.I.P. Medical Debt, which purchases bundles of past-due medical bills and forgives them to help those in need. So the women decided to start a fund-raising campaign of their own to assist people with medical debt in New York. The women raised $12,500 and sent it to the debt-forgiveness charity, which then purchased a portfolio of $1.5 million of medical debts on their behalf, for about half a penny on the dollar. Many people take on extra jobs or hours to afford health care, and 11 percent of Americans have turned to charity for relief from medical debts, according to a 2016 poll. It has become increasingly easy for regular citizens to purchase bundles of past-due medical bills and forgive them because of the efforts of the debt-relief charity, which was founded in 2014 by two former debt collection industry executives, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton. After realizing the crushing impact medical debts were having on millions of Americans, the men decided to flip their mind-set. They began purchasing portfolios of old debts to clear them as a public service, rather than try to hound the debtors.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Microfragmentation: a breakthrough for coral reef restoration
2018-09-18, Medium.com
https://medium.com/@amykwilson/microfragmentation-a-breakthough-for-coral-ree...

The benefits coral reefs provide are endless. Not only are they the home of up to 9 million species but are a source of food, medicine, cosmetics and tourism. Unfortunately, coral reefs around the world are declining at a rapid rate due to ... human-related factors. In some areas of Florida and the Caribbean, coral cover has declined by 50–80 per cent in just the last three decades. Coral scientists are working hard to restore corals as fast as possible. At the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration they have managed to develop a micro-fragmentation and fusion method to speed the growth of ... important reef-building species [of coral], known for their slow growth in the wild. The fragmentation technique consists of breaking the corals into smaller pieces of 1 to 5 polyps, using a specialised saw. This stimulates the coral tissue to grow ... at 25 to 50 times the normal growth rate. The fragments are then placed in their shallow water tanks. Algal growth and debris are removed regularly. Clone fragments recognise each other so instead of fighting each other for resources [they] fuse together to form larger colonies. After 4- 12 months the fully grown corals are now ready to be planted back into the ocean or fragmented to restart the process. Labs are able to fragment, grow and recombine corals in under 2 years to a size which would normally take 100 years. They have now successfully planted more than 20,000 corals onto depleted reefs in the Florida Keys.

Note: Watch an inspiring three-minute video on this process.


For NFL Giving, Warrick Dunn Is a Model
2018-01-19, Sports Illustrated
https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/19/nfl-warrick-dunn-homes-holidays-habitiat-hu...

Warrick Dunn has been retired for nine years. It’s interesting that, even though he is one of 31 men to rush for more than 10,000 yards in NFL history. We remember him—at least I do—more for giving away houses than for running for touchdown, in part because he’s still doing it. Even in retirement, Dunn and his Warrick Dunn Charities are still partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for disadvantaged families across the United States. In December, Dunn and Habitat combined to build homes number 158 (in Detroit) and 159 (in Atlanta) and place two families in them before the holidays. Furnished, as Dunn like to say, “all the way down to the toothbrushes in the bathroom.” Recently I was with Dunn when he surprised Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson with a visit, a reminder that Dunn’s generosity made it possible for Watson and his single mom and family to move into a Habitat for Humanity home in Gainesville, Ga., 11 years ago. Watson made it clear that the home meant a new life and a shot at the American dream for his family. “I’ll never be able to thank him, and Habitat, and everyone who made it possible, enough,” Watson said. “I grew up in a situation where we needed a lot of support,” [said Dunn]. “I lost my mom at 18. Single mom, six kids, and a Baton Rouge police officer. She was gunned down by armed robbers at a bank. When she lost her life, the city of Baton Rouge started a fund for us. And that’s how we were able to survive. That really helped me understand what it means to care about your neighbor.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Can lefties and right-wingers find common ground? One site thinks so
2018-12-03, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Can-lefties-and-right-wingers-fi...

“Have you experienced being the target of intolerance? What causes you to be intolerant?” Sitting in his book-filled Berkeley living room, Lewis Brown Griggs chewed over those questions and others with six other people via the Zoom conferencing app last month. Ranging in age from early 20s to early 70s, and hailing from Colorado, Virginia, Utah, Maryland and California, the group was brought together by Mismatch.org, a site that aims to “mismatch” people who are politically and geographically diverse for group chats with others of varying viewpoints. It’s like a non-romantic dating service for civil discourse. “Our nation has so many problems with division,” said John Gable, Mismatch co-founder. “We need to learn how to talk to people who are different than we are, how to listen to them and understand them as people.” In an increasingly polarized country, Mismatch aims to help people across the political spectrum find common ground via structured conversations on topics like immigration, tax reform and climate change. Mismatch grew out of Living Room Conversations, another trans-partisan project that brings together folks of varying views to engage in discourse. But while Living Room Conversations hosts in-person groups ... Mismatch casts a wider net by seeking people nationwide to meet up via videoconferencing. “It is about understanding each other as humans,” [Gable] said. “We may or may not find common ground, but we always find common humanity.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


These Kids Are Learning How to Have Bipartisan Conversations
2018-12-04, Greater Good
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/these_kids_are_learning_how_to_...

Dozens of high schoolers and their teachers are flowing into the University of Southern California’s Galen Center, dressed in their debating best and bantering in various languages. All of these students are members of the Junior State of America (JSA), and they’re used to spirited exchanges about government. But they’re here today to practice a different diplomatic skill: having thoughtful conversations across political boundaries. “People say, ‘When I try to have these kinds of conversations, they go really badly,’” [workshop leader Brooke] Deterline says. Such verbal blowouts often breed simmering resentment and fracture relationships. Deterline wants to teach people how to cultivate compassion for others even when they don’t agree with them, which she sees as necessary for a divided country to find a shared vision for its future. From the start, Deterline makes clear that what she’s about to teach is the conversational equivalent of t’ai chi—a philosophy focused on holding back, not charging forward. “I used to think courage was giving somebody a piece of my mind,” she tells the students. “It’s acting with an open heart in the face of conflict. It is a choice, and it also is a muscle.” What often shuts down conversations across the political aisle, she explains, is when our brains go into what she calls “the red zone.” “When we’re stressed, our natural compassion is cut off,” she says. Deterline’s core message is that when you notice your brain heading into the “red zone,” you can take steps to divert its course.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Her Life's a Sprint, Legacy Long Running
1994-11-13, Chicago Tribune
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1994-11-13-9411130119-story.html

Wilma Rudolph outran poverty, polio, scarlet fever and the limits placed on black women by societal convention to win three gold medals in sprint events at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. By the time brain cancer caught Rudolph, leading to her death Saturday at age 54, she had achieved a stature that made her legend and her sport greater in the long run. The 20th of 22 children of a porter and a cleaning lady, Rudolph lost the use of her left leg after contracting polio and scarlet fever at age 4. Doctors told her parents she never would walk again without braces, but she refused to accept that prognosis and began to walk unassisted at age 9. It wasn't long before she was outrunning all the girls and boys in her neighborhood. At 16, already under the tutelage of Tennessee State University coach Ed Temple, Rudolph won a bronze medal on the 4 x 100-meter relay at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Four years later, when she was the mother of a 2-year-old, Rudolph won the three golds despite running all three events with a sprained ankle. After being voted Associated Press female athlete of the year in 1960 and 1961 and the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete in 1961, Rudolph retired at 21, a decision that reflects an era in which lack of financial incentives kept most Olympic careers short. She turned to a variety of humanitarian projects, including goodwill ambassador to West Africa, coaching at DePauw University and working for underprivileged children through the Wilma Rudolph Foundation.

Note: The remarkable woman once commented, "My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother."


The Remarkable Rise Of ESG
2018-07-11, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/georgkell/2018/07/11/the-remarkable-rise-of-esg/...

Responsible investing is widely understood as the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment processes and decision-making. ESG factors cover a wide spectrum of issues that traditionally are not part of financial analysis, yet may have financial relevance. This might include how corporations respond to climate change, how good they are with water management, how effective their health and safety policies are ... how they manage their supply chains, [and] how they treat their workers. The term ESG was first coined in 2005 in a landmark study entitled “Who Cares Wins.” Today, ESG investing is estimated at over $20 trillion in AUM or around a quarter of all professionally managed assets around the world, and its rapid growth builds on the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) movement that has been around much longer. Cynics may argue that responsible investing is just a fad. But a closer look at the forces that have driven the movement over the past 15 years suggests otherwise. The big challenge for most corporations is to adapt to a new environment that favors smarter, cleaner and healthier products and services, and to leave behind the dogmas of the industrial era when pollution was free, labor was just a cost factor and scale and scope was the dominant strategy. Today, ESG investing has matured to the point where it can greatly accelerate market transformation for the better.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Steven Pinker Thinks the Future Is Looking Bright
2018-11-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/science/steven-pinker-future-science.html

Steven Pinker, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard, has been known to take provocative positions. He has argued that women are intrinsically different from men, that we are more driven by our genes than academics like to acknowledge, and that society is getting less violent over time — despite the mass shootings and other atrocities we hear about daily. The thesis of his latest book, “Enlightenment Now,” is that life on Earth is improving. By every major measure of human well-being, from personal safety to longevity to economic security to happiness, people everywhere are far better off today than they were before the start of the Enlightenment in the 17th century. "I stumbled across data showing that violence had declined over the course of history. The homicide rate in England was 50 times higher in the 14th century than it is today," [said Pinker]. "Like any other news reader, I just assumed that there was as much mayhem as ever. It’s only when you plot it over time ... that you can see the trends. It’s not just in violence that one sees progress, but in poverty, in illiteracy, in access to small luxuries. The percentage of the world getting an education, in gender parity in education - girls are going to school all over the world. Even in ... the world’s most retrograde countries, the rate of female education has increased. It was an epiphany from seeing graphs of human improvement that changed my view of the overall course of history: that progress is a demonstrable fact.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Magic Happens When Bostonians Actually Make Eye Contact
2017-09-28, NBC (Boston affiliate)
https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/Magic-Happens-When-Bostonians-Actually-M...

The rule of thumb for folks walking around Boston is to not look anyone in the eyes. The World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment held on Saturday challenged people in the city and across the world to break down their walls and to actually make full eye contact with another human being for a full minute. It was a sunny day ... as participants invited others to have meaningful staring sessions. Sixty full seconds looking into a stranger’s eyes without conversation or facial expressions to hide behind. It sounds easy enough, but silently sharing eye contact with a stranger can be a foreign feeling for many people more used to being connected to technology than humans. Deborah Knight, who organized Boston’s event, said that eye contact is actually more important than most people think. When you actually look at someone’s eyes, you actually bypass everything and you get into their soul. It is an unspoken language of love. The global social experiment is organized each year by The Liberators International, an Australian-based group that aims to empower people with love and compassion through events and media. Boston was just one of the hundreds of locations participating this year. Dozens of people just sitting silently and staring, but most would talk and laugh right after the exercise. “People are really hesitant,” [said one participant]. “Maybe thirty seconds into it, people relax and their eyes just open up.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Signs That Institutional Investors May Be Reorienting Towards Sustainable Investing
2018-11-24, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/robday/2018/11/19/signs-that-institutional-inves...

For a long time entrepreneurs, investors and advocates of sustainable investing have spoken longingly about the $2 trillion of institutional investor dollars that have been reputed to be sitting skeptically on the sidelines, teasing everyone with the prospect of finally putting their sizeable investment muscle to work to scale the sector. Throughout this period, institutional investors have argued that they have withheld their dollars over sound investment concerns with the sector. For a number of years, innovative entrepreneurs in growth sectors like food, energy, water and waster have been doing the heavy lifting to demonstrate that some of these smaller-scale projects can provide attractive investment returns for those investors willing to step in and pioneer these structures. Institutional investors are taking notice. Now a new investor survey and report issued by Bright Harbor Advisors, a private fund advisor, provides some compelling evidence that institutional investors are warming to sustainable investing. 81% now have some type of sustainability, impact, or ESG [Environment, Social, and Governance] mandate as part of their formal investment policy. And an increasing number are allocating internal resources to implement these policies. About a third of respondents have someone on their team dedicated to the space and nearly 20% have sustainable private fund managers in a dedicated investment bucket.

Note: See this Forbes article for more on these inspiring shifts in investing. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


World's first solar panel road opens in Normandy village
2016-11-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/22/solar-panel-road-tourouvr...

France has opened what it claims to be the world’s first solar panel road, in a Normandy village. A 1km (0.6-mile) route in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche covered with 2,800 sq m of electricity-generating panels, was inaugurated on Thursday by the ecology minister, Ségolčne Royal. It cost €5m (Ł4.2m) to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during a two-year test period to establish if it can generate enough energy to power street lighting in the village of 3,400 residents. In 2014, a solar-powered cycle path opened in Krommenie in the Netherlands and ... has generated 3,000kWh of energy – enough to power an average family home for a year. The cost of building the cycle path, however, could have paid for 520,000kWh. Before the solar-powered road – called Wattway – was opened on the RD5 road, the panels were tested at four car parks across France. Normandy is not known for its surfeit of sunshine: Caen, the region’s political capital, enjoys just 44 days of strong sunshine a year compared with 170 in Marseilles. Royal has said she would like to see solar panels installed on one in every 1,000km of French highway – France has a total of 1m km of roads – but panels laid on flat surfaces have been found to be less efficient than those installed on sloping areas such as roofs. The company says it hopes to reduce the costs of producing the solar panels and has about 100 other projects for solar-panelled roads – half in France and half abroad.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


We Have to Save the Planet. So I’m Donating $1 Billion.
2018-10-31, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/31/opinion/earth-biodiversity-conservation-bi...

Some scientists, including the Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, have concluded that at least half the planet needs to be protected to save a large majority of plant and wildlife species from extinction. Indeed, the food, clean water and air we need to survive and prosper depends on our ability to protect the planet’s biological diversity. In other words, we have to protect half to save the whole. Every one of us - citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders - should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected. For my part, I have decided to donate $1 billion over the next decade to help accelerate land and ocean conservation efforts around the world, with the goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet’s surface by 2030. This money will support locally led conservation efforts around the world, push for increased global targets for land and ocean protection, seek to raise public awareness about the importance of this effort, and fund scientific studies to identify the best strategies to reach our target. I believe this ambitious goal is achievable because I’ve seen what can be accomplished. Indigenous peoples, local leaders and conservation groups around the world are already busy setting aside protected areas that reflect the conservation, economic and cultural values of nearby communities. Financial support from philanthropists and governments is critical to helping these leaders conserve places like the coral reefs of the Caribbean, the glaciers of Argentina and what is known as the “place of many elephants” in Zimbabwe.

Note: The above was written by philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Veterans using dogs to help with PTSD
2018-05-03, The Journal-Gazette/Washington Post
http://www.journalgazette.net/features/20180503/veterans-using-dogs-to-help-w...

Every month, a new cycle of training begins with yet another class of veterans in a program run by the northern Florida K9s for Warriors. The seven-year-old nonprofit is one of dozens of private organizations that offer “psychiatric service” dogs to address the military's mental health crisis. “The numbers are startling on veteran suicides, and this is working,” said Rory Diamond, a former federal prosecutor who quit to become chief executive of K9s for Warriors. A recent [Purdue University] study ... used standard questionnaires to assess PTSD symptoms and other aspects of mental health among 141 K9s for Warriors applicants, half teamed with a service dog and half on a wait list. Those with dogs showed significantly lower levels of post-traumatic stress, depression and social isolation, with higher levels of psychological well-being. Dogs have provided services to humans for millennia, often as hunting and herding partners. But not until World War I were they systematically trained to assist people with disabilities, as guides for the blind. Service dogs now prompt deaf people when a doorbell rings, retrieve pills for people in wheelchairs and alert people with diabetes to blood sugar spikes. Psychiatric service dogs [blend the missions of] of task-oriented service canines and animals seen as providing emotional support. While the dogs paired with veterans with PTSD are commonly trained to wake them from nightmares ... advocates also laud their ability to soothe a panicking vet and provide companionship.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Surprising New Study Confirms the 'Warm Glow' of Kindness Is Real
2018-11-14, Inc.com
https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/surprising-new-study-confirms-warm-glow-of-...

Psychologists at the University of Sussex, after analyzing the brain scans of over 1000 people who made kind decisions, are now able to say for sure that the warm glow of kindness is real. In fact, it exists in a particular place within your brain. For the first time, researchers were able to bring together previous studies that suggested generosity activates the brain's reward network. These scientists were able to differentiate between two types of kindness: altruistic (when there is nothing to be gained from being kind) and strategic (when an act of kindness can lead to something gained). The study's findings revealed ... something unique about altruistic acts of kindness. Being kind with no intent of personal gain not only activates the brain's reward areas, it also activates other brain regions (in the subgenal anterior cingulate cortex) as well. This means that when you act kind with no hope of gaining something in return, your brain will activate more and in different ways than when you are strategically kind. Acting strategically kind can even make you feel worse, and diminish your glow. Co-author of the study and PhD student Jo Cutler explains, "...if after a long day helping a friend move house, they hand you a fiver, you could end up feeling undervalued and less likely to help again. A hug and kind words however might spark a warm glow and make you feel appreciated." Ultimately, it does matter what the intent is behind kindness.

Note: The study described in the article above is available here. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Bologna: The City that Rewards You with Free Beer and Ice Cream for Riding Your Bike
2018-11-05, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/bologna-bike-riding-free...

If you’ve ever felt that your green credentials have gone unrewarded, it might be worth considering a move to the Italian city of Bologna. For six months a year, an initiative called Bella Mossa (“Good Job”) operates within the city, which rewards users of sustainable forms of transport with free beer, ice cream or film tickets. The programme ... aims to reduce pollution and offers residents and visitors an incentive to walk, cycle or take public transport, rather than travel by car. Participants simply download the Better Points app on their phone, where they can log up to four journeys per day. Over 100 businesses in Bologna have signed up to the scheme to offer benefits for points accrued. Points are awarded for the number of trips taken, rather than the distance covered. Whether you travel one kilometre or 10, the points will remain the same. To avoid any abuse of the system, a GPS tracker makes sure people are being honest about the journeys they log and the method of transport used. The app also tells users how much CO2 was saved on each journey. Urban planner Marco Amdori devised the scheme in 2017; it’s funded by the EU and Bologna’s local government. Last year, [Bella Mossa] recorded 3.7 million kilometres of sustainable journeys in the city. This isn’t the first time Bologna has led the way when it comes ethical living. In 2008, the Festival of Responsible Travel was established in the city and has continued to run annually ever since.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Night of Firsts: Sharice Davids, Ilhan Omar and More Make History in Midterm Elections
2018-11-07, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/07/us/politics/election-history-firsts-blackb...

There were historic firsts across the country on Tuesday night, as voters chose from a set of candidates that was among the most diverse ever to run in the United States. Native American, Muslim and African-American women, and L.G.B.T. candidates, were among those who broke barriers. In next year’s session of Congress, there will be at least 100 women in the House for the first time in history. Sharice Davids [is] the first lesbian Native American to be elected to the House and part of “a rainbow wave” of L.G.B.T. candidates in this year’s election. She has criticized the Republican tax bill and called for “a true tax cut for the middle class.” Ilhan Omar, a Democratic state legislator in Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic former state legislator in Michigan, became the first Muslim women elected to Congress after winning their House races. Ms. Omar will also be the first Somali-American to serve in Congress. Ms. Tlaib, a Palestinian-American attorney, has championed Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage and abolishing the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Ayanna Pressley will become the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress. She beat a 10-term incumbent in the Democratic primary and vowed to pursue “activist leadership” to advance a progressive agenda. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman elected to Congress. Like Ms. Pressley, she defeated a white male incumbent who had served 10 terms in a Democratic primary.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New CDC reports show meditation and yoga have grown significantly in popularity
2018-11-08, US News and World Report
https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2018-11-08/yoga-m...

Yoga and meditation have increased in use among both U.S. adults and children in recent years, two new reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, with the number of adults who had recently practiced yoga soaring by nearly 60 percent. In 2017, an estimated 35.2 million adults had put themselves in a downward-facing dog, lotus pose or other yoga position in the past 12 months, accounting for a 14.3 percent population share and up from 22.4 million (9.5 percent) in 2012. Women and adults between 18 and 44 were most likely to have recently practiced yoga in 2017. Meanwhile, a separate CDC report showed that the shares of children ages 4 to 17 who had practiced yoga or meditation each increased substantially. In 2012, an estimated 3.1 percent of children had done yoga in the past 12 months, compared with 8.4 percent in 2017. The estimated share of kids who had meditated recently increased nearly tenfold during that time frame, from 0.6 percent to 5.4 percent. "An increase in promoting yoga or promoting meditation in studios, gyms, et cetera, could play a role in ... more people using these approaches," says Tainya Clarke, an epidemiologist with the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. Outpacing meditation and use of a chiropractor, yoga remained the most commonly used of the three "complementary health approaches" that were assessed. Still, the share who had meditated in the last year more than tripled between 2012 and 2017, from 4.1 percent to 14.2 percent.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time
2018-11-06, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/06/uk-renewable-energy-capac...

The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago. In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels’ has fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic. The result is that between July and September, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants. Imperial College London, which compiled the figures, said the rate at which renewables had been built in the past few years was greater than the “dash for gas” in the 1990s. Dr Iain Staffell, who undertook the research, said: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and this quarter saw a major milestone on the journey.” In terms of installed capacity, wind is the biggest source of renewables at more than 20GW, followed by solar spread across nearly 1m rooftops and in fields. Biomass is third. In the past year, coal capacity has fallen by one-quarter, and there are only six coal-fired plants left in the UK. Coal operators have been affected by the UK’s carbon tax on electricity generation, as well as competition from gas.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Bionic Leaf Is 10 Times Better At Photosynthesis Than Real Plants
2016-06-07, Popular Science
https://www.popsci.com/scientists-debut-system-making-fuel-through-more-effic...

Plants take in carbon dioxide, water, and sunshine to create a sugary fuel. Now researchers have done the same, but even better. A recent study in Science describes the system, named Bionic Leaf 2.0. In the “leaf,” solar energy splits up a water molecule, and bacteria turn hydrogen and carbon dioxide into liquid fuel, mainly isopropanol. The fuel could possibly be used to power a car's engine or motor in the future. The researchers, led by Daniel Nocera and Pamela Silver from Harvard University, have made advancements on their original Bionic Leaf, released last year. The system had some problems, mainly with the metal catalyst that helped the reaction. In the first edition, the catalyst also set off a reaction that attacked the bacteria’s DNA. The new system has a new catalyst made of cobalt and phosphorus. This solves the bacteria-attacking problem and also increases the efficiency of the reaction to 10 percent efficiency. Normal photosynthesis in plants is one percent efficient at converting solar energy to biomass. This technology has the potential to bring another type of solar energy to users. Nocera said in a press release that they are continuing their research, chiefly on bringing this technology to the developing world.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Political rivals stun voters with unexpected duet
2018-10-19, CBS
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lucy-rogers-vermont-political-rivals-stun-voters...

In Lamoille County, Vermont ... everywhere you look, bursts of Lucy Rogers green, and Zac Mayo red, white and blue. "We don't need as much government," Zac said. He's the Republican. She's the Democrat. "I'm pretty centrally focused on healthcare," Lucy said. They're aggressively competing for a state House seat. Both have visited, or plan to visit, every single home in the district — all 2,000 plus. The locals say they've never seen anything like it. But this highly competitive race took a dramatic turn recently. During their debate ... the candidates asked for a few extra minutes at the end. They stood up from their tables and began moving the furniture. No one knew what was coming. Indeed, what happened at the local library that night was totally unexpected and unprecedented in modern American politics. Political rivals Lucy Rogers and Zac Mayo shocked voters by coming together for a duet." Because we asked them if we could have a few minutes at the end to play a duet," Lucy said. "It strikes a chord," Zac said. "To say to the world that this is a better way." With that, the Democrat and the Republican united in perfect harmony. There weren't enough tissues to go around. "It marked a turning point for us," one person said. "It gave me a lot of hope," said another. The song they played that night -- and for us after -- is about longing for a less competitive society. Their rendition so resonated with folks in northern Vermont, CBS News actually saw houses that had signs for both candidates -- a clear indication that the winner of this race has already been decided: A landslide victory for civility.

Note: The Washington Post also carried a touching article on this inspiring event. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Jewish hospital staff treated synagogue shooting suspect as he spewed hate, administrator says
2018-11-01, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/01/health/robert-bowers-jewish-hospital-staff/ind...

When the man charged with killing 11 people Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue arrived with injuries at Allegheny General Hospital, the staff - some of whom are Jewish - stepped up and did their jobs, even as he continued to spew hate, their boss said. "Isn't it ironic that somebody who's yelling in the ambulance and the hospital, 'I want to kill all the Jews,' is taken care of by a Jewish nurse," Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, the facility's top administrator, told CNN's Alex Marquardt a day after the massacre. Cohen is a member of the Tree of Life synagogue, where the shooting unfolded. He lives nearby and even heard the shootout between police and Robert Bowers. When Bowers arrived at the hospital to be treated for multiple gunshot wounds, he was still screaming that he wanted to kill Jews, Cohen [said]. "And the first three people who are taking care of him are Jewish," Cohen said. "I said, 'Well yeah, ain't that a kick in the pants?'" Cohen ... checked on Bowers like he might any other patient, he said. "I asked him, 'How are you feeling?' And he was sort of groggy. He said, 'I'm feeling OK.' And I introduced myself as Dr. Cohen, the president of Allegheny General. And I left," Cohen said. "The FBI agent in charge looked at me and says, 'I don't know how you did that 'cause I'm not sure I could have,'" Cohen recalled. Cohen acknowledged that some on his staff had "conflicting emotions" about Bowers but said ultimately Allegheny General has one mission: to take care of sick people, regardless of who they are or their circumstances.

Note: Read a USA Today article where Jeff Cohen states about the the shooter "He's some mother's son." May this kind of compassion spread far and wide in our world.


Libraries, Writ Small
2018-10-26, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/books/little-free-library-todd-bol.html

Todd Bol was simply paying homage to his mother, a schoolteacher and lover of books. He built a doll-sized schoolhouse, filled it with his mother’s books and put it out for his neighbors in Hudson, Wis., as a book exchange. Today, just nine years later, more than 75,000 such “Little Free Libraries” dot the globe, from San Diego to Minneapolis, and from Australia to Siberia. Why did they catch on? For starters, they promote a friendly, sharing economy. No one tracks who took what. There’s no due date. No fines. You might never return a book. You might leave another instead. And, they are inherently cute. As Mr. Bol recalled, his neighbors “talked to it like it was a little puppy.” This week, many bore a white ribbon in tribute to Mr. Bol, who died Oct. 18, in Minnesota at the age of 62.

Note: A photo-essay of “Little Free Libraries” is available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Heard the One About the Disabled Muslim Comic From Jersey?
2018-10-29, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/arts/television/maysoon-zayid-disabled-mus...

The stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid likes to joke that if there were a competition called the Oppression Olympics, she would win gold. “I’m Palestinian, Muslim, I’m a woman of color, I’m disabled,” Zayid, who has cerebral palsy, tells audiences, before pausing a beat to hang her head, her long dark hair curtaining her face, “and I live in New Jersey.” The joke lands laughs whether Zayid tells it in red states or blue. She told it near the beginning of her 2014 TED Talk, which drew nearly 15 million views. She now has a development deal with ABC to create a ... sitcom called “Can-Can,” starring her. If “Can-Can” makes it ... it may push two populations, one widely ignored, the other demonized, from the country’s margins into the mainstream. People with disabilities make up nearly 20 percent of the population yet account for about 2 percent of onscreen characters, some 95 percent of which are played by able-bodied stars. And it is hard to imagine a group more vilified in the United States than Muslims or Middle Easterners. Zayid is a vociferous part of a small, dedicated movement calling attention to disability rights in entertainment, which are consistently overlooked in the quote-unquote diversity conversation. Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a philanthropic and advocacy organization for disability rights ... said Zayid’s show could crush enduring stigmas disabled people face.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Muslim communities raise more than $200,000 in 4 days for synagogue shooting victims
2018-10-31, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/29/us/iyw-muslim-crowdfunding-for-synagogue-victi...

A gunman stormed the Tree of Life Synagogue, killing 11 people in what the ADL called the deadliest attack ever on Jews in the United States. The horrific, hate-filled minutes were a raw manifestation of anger, division and anti-Semitism. But the response has been the opposite as faiths and cultures came together in grief and solidarity. Crowdfunding campaign "Muslims Unite for Pittsburgh Synagogue" has raised more than $200,000 to help the shooting victims. "We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action," the donation page says. The campaign is organized by the Muslim-American non-profits CelebrateMercy and MPower Change. It's hosted by LaunchGood, an online crowdfunding platform for the Muslim community. The campaign page invites all faiths to contribute, and the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh will work directly with the Tree of Life Synagogue to distribute the funds to the injured victims and grieving families. "The Pittsburgh community is our family; what happens to one of us, is felt by us all," The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh said in a statement. Shay Khatiri, an Iranian immigrant studying in Washington DC, was also inspired to help. He launched the Tree of Life Synagogue Victims campaign on GoFundMe on Saturday with a goal of $50,000. Khatiri has been inspired by the outpouring of support. More than 10 thousand people have donated, raising over $800,000.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How babysitting money planted a seed to help Nepali kids blossom
2016-03-21, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2015/04/09/living/cnnheroes-doyne/index.html

Ten years ago, with her high school diploma and a backpack, Maggie Doyne left her New Jersey hometown. She ... went to India and worked with Nepalese refugees. There, she met a young girl who wanted to find her family in Nepal. Doyne went with her. That's when Doyne's life took an unexpected turn. A decade-long civil war had just ended in the country, and Doyne witnessed its effects firsthand. "It changed me," said Doyne. "There were children with mallets that would go into the riverbed, pick up a big stone and break it into little, little pieces (to sell). And they were doing that all day, every day." Doyne called her parents and asked them to wire her the $5,000 she had earned babysitting. In 2006, she purchased land in Surkhet, a district in western Nepal. She worked for two years with the local community to build the Kopila Valley Children's Home. Today, Kopila - which means "flower bud" in Nepali - is home to about 50 children, from infants to teenagers. Doyne started the BlinkNow Foundation to support and grow her efforts. In 2010, the group opened its Kopila Valley School, which today educates more than 350 students. "Every single year we'll get from 1,000 to 1,500 applicants. And we choose the ones who are the most needful and really won't be in school without us," [said Doyne]. "Most of them live in one room, a mud hut. A lot of them are just in survival mode. We try to relieve the burden from the family, so that the child has food, medical care, books, zero fees for education."

Note: Watch an inspiring five-minute video of this amazing woman.


Conquering Mt. Everest, Against All Odds
2018-10-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/travel/blind-climber-against-all-odds.html

Reaching the summit of Mount Everest is a triumph for any climber, but for Erik Weihenmayer, the accomplishment is even more impressive. That’s because he is blind. Born with a rare eye disease, Mr. Weihenmayer lost his sight at age 13 and later discovered a sense of freedom through climbing. Over the years, the 50-year-old has reached the highest peaks on seven continents and also kayaked the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. A former schoolteacher, Mr. Weihenmayer co-founded No Barriers, a nonprofit organization that teaches outdoor skills to those with physical challenges. "Growing up in Connecticut, my Dad would drive me three hours to Massachusetts once a month to this adventure program for the blind, [said Mr. Weihenmayer]. "They took us to New Hampshire and we rock climbed on these beautiful granite rock faces. It was very tactile. That’s what I really loved about it. You can feel all these little knobs and cracks and fissures and little dishes in the rock. So you’re problem-solving with your hands and feet as your eyes. You had to put your body in all these cool, acrobatic positions to get yourself from point A to point B and you’re trying to solve this puzzle that’s embedded in the rock. I loved the great adventure. I got to the top and I could hear the valley below me. I could hear the wind blowing through the trees. And I thought this is so stunning. This is what I want out of my life."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This machine can make gallons of fresh drinking water right out of thin air
2018-10-25, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/25/world/fresh-water-green-machine-trnd/index.html

Machines designed by a California-based team can produce, in some cases, up to 300 gallons of fresh drinking water a day by pulling it straight from the air. And the team just won a $1.5 million prize for it. Skywater machines, housed in big metal boxes, are atmospheric water generators that condense water vapor from the atmosphere and turn it into drinking water. The machines can be powered by solar energy or the burning of biofuels. They can be used for households, for farming or for emergency relief efforts. The prize, called the Water Abundance XPRIZE, was awarded Saturday by XPRIZE, a California nonprofit ... aimed at creating solutions for the world's problems. The Water Abundance XPRIZE was a two-year competition that sought to find answers to the global water crisis by facilitating the development of new technologies. David Hertz, one of leaders of the Skysource/Skywater Alliance, says he's excited about what the Skywater machines could do for people living in parts of the world where water is becoming more scarce. "I've just been very, very interested in ... the importance of fresh water to mankind," Hertz [said]. "And in being in California, the issues are fast approaching crisis proportions." Hertz says there's more than enough water vapor in the air from which the machines can extract to produce gallons of water every day. Hertz estimates there's about "37.5 million billion gallons of water" in the atmosphere at any given time, which Skysource says is more fresh water than in all the rivers on Earth.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Following Your Passions Is Good for You (and How to Get Started)
2018-10-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/smarter-living/follow-your-passion-hobbies...

A 2015 study published in The Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that pursuing your passion both lowers stress and contributes to greater happiness over all. Researchers found that participants who engaged in hobbies were 34 percent less stressed and 18 percent less sad during the activities, as well as for some time after. Laura Vanderkam, a productivity expert, advocates finding time for yourself as a means to greater happiness over all. “Life just feels better when you have things in your hours that you want to do,” Ms. Vanderkam said. “There’s moments where time almost has no meaning because we’re so happy about what we’re doing. The more time you can spend in that zone, the better life feels.” We’re all busy. Most of us feel as if we can’t cram anything more into our schedules. But Ms. Vanderkam wants to dispel that idea. “When you say you don’t have time, what you’re really saying is, it’s not a priority,” she said. To figure out where extra time lives in your schedule, she recommends thinking of time in weeks, rather than days. A week “is really the cycle of life as people actually live it,” she said. If you’re prone to procrastination, start small and specific. Procrastination often happens when we get overwhelmed and stall before we even start. “Taking very small steps is key,” Ms. Vanderkam said. “If you take small steps repeatedly, they really do add up. Say, I’m going to do just three things today. That’s 15 things per workweek; that’s 750 things in a year. If you do 750 important things in a year, that’s a pretty good year.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


23 charts and maps that show the world is getting much, much better
2018-10-17, Vox
https://www.vox.com/2014/11/24/7272929/global-poverty-health-crime-literacy-g...

For most Americans, these feel like bleak times. But ... under the radar, some aspects of life on Earth are getting dramatically better. Extreme poverty has fallen by half since 1990, and life expectancy is increasing in poor countries — and there are many more indices of improvement like that everywhere you turn. But many of us aren’t aware of ways the world is getting better because the press — and humans in general — have a strong negativity bias. Bad economic news gets more coverage than good news. Negative experiences affect people more, and for longer, than positive ones. Survey evidence consistently indicates that few people in rich countries have any clue that the world has taken a happier turn in recent decades — one poll in 2016 found that only 8 percent of US residents knew that global poverty had fallen since 1996. It’s worth paying some attention to this huge progress. Nothing’s permanent, and big challenges ... remain, but the world is getting much, much better on a variety of important, underappreciated dimensions. Probably the most important [is] a huge decline in the share of the world population living on less than $1.90 a day, from nearly 35 percent in 1987 to under 11 percent in 2013.

Note: Don't miss all the great graphics at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Danone Bets on Healthy Eating Business to Boost Growth
2018-10-22, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/10/22/business/22reuters-danone-forecast...

Danone is banking on its expansion into the lucrative healthy eating business to produce sales growth that will beat the French food company's rivals over the coming decade. The world's biggest yoghurt maker told an Investor Seminar in London on Monday that it was relying on its fast-growing food categories such as probiotics, organic food and water to deliver "superior sustainable profitable growth" by 2030. As more consumers opt for healthier diets they are prepared to pay a premium for trying to pursue a more socially responsible lifestyle. Danone - along with rivals such as Nestle - has been seeking to rebuild consumers' trust in big food companies. Last year, for example, Danone bought U.S. organic food producer WhiteWave in a $12.5 billion deal, to boost growth and bring the company closer to current healthier eating trends. Francisco Camacho, executive vice president for Danone's 'Essential Dairy and Plant Based' business told the investor meeting he expected to triple the size of the plant-based business to 5 billion euros ($5.75 billion) by 2025 from 1.7 billion euros in 2018. Danone has been stepping up efforts to attract young consumers with products featuring probiotics, protein and plant-based ingredients, all fast-growing product categories.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The World’s Oldest Barber Is 107 and Still Cutting Hair Full Time
2018-10-07, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/nyregion/worlds-oldest-barber-anthony-manc...

Anthony Mancinelli shook out a barber towel and welcomed the next customer to his chair in Fantastic Cuts, a cheery hair salon in a nondescript strip mall. “Hey, paisan - same as usual,” said John O’Rourke to Mr. Mancinelli, who began layering Mr. O’Rourke’s hair with his steady, snipping scissors. “I don’t let anyone else touch my hair,” said Mr. O’Rourke. “The guy’s been cutting hair for a century.” Mr. Mancinelli is 107 and still working full time, cutting hair five days a week from noon to 8 p.m. He has been working in barbershops since he was 11. In 2007, at a mere 96 years old, he was recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest working barber. Since then, the commendations have rolled in - from local civic groups, elected officials and barbering companies - all congratulating him: 100 years, 101, 102, and so on. Mr. Mancinelli just keeps outdating the awards. As hairstyles have changed over the decades, Mr. Mancinelli has adapted. “I cut them all,” he said, “long hair, short hair, whatever was in style - the shag, the Buster Brown, straight bangs, permanents.” Some customers have been coming to him for well over 50 years, having gotten hundreds of haircuts. “I have some customers, I cut their father, grandfather and great-grandfather - four generations,” said Mr. Mancinelli, who has six great-great-grandchildren. His son, Bob Mancinelli, said: “Some of his older customers, he helps them. He’ll say to an 80-year-old guy, ‘Listen, when you get to be my age. ...’ They love hearing that.”

Note: Explore a collection of concise summaries of news articles on amazing seniors.


Four Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Denmark's Work Culture
2016-01-25, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyguttman/2016/01/25/four-things-entrepreneurs-...

Denmark has consistently ranked high on Forbes’ and other lists of Best Countries for Business. Entrepreneurship may not seem obvious in a society with a generous social welfare system and one which places a high value on the notion of equality, and a single, rather than upper or lower class, but there are valuable lessons to be learned from Denmark’s work culture which can be applied ... anywhere. Danish work culture focuses on teamwork, rather than pitting employees against each other. Competition is not institutionalized in the same way it is in other countries. The absence of this cutthroat environment creates a less stressful workplace and more opportunities for collaboration. Management in Denmark often eat alongside teams, which is an extension of ... open plan office design. Open plan removes the hierarchy and that environment, naturally, makes the flow of information from top to bottom much more organic. Independent thinking and autonomy are just as highly valued in Danish business culture as teamwork. And yes, the two can co-exist. Rather than discouraging staff from identifying problems outside their area of expertise ... Danish businesses encourage employees to spot problems or ways the company can work better and provide solutions whether relevant to their direct tasks or not. This kind of inclusion makes every employee a stakeholder and essentially instills a sense that everyone’s voice is heard and is working for the good of the company.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Taking Time Off Is Good For Your Body, Your Mind, And Your Business
2014-07-21, Huffington Post
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/vacation-inspires-creativity_n_5600183

The average American employee only takes advantage of half of their earned vacation days, and 61 percent of workers admit to working during their supposed time off. However, science shows that taking a true vacation ... not only allows the body to physically repair itself, but can also leave you feeling inspired when you return. Designer Stefan Sagmeister embraced the necessity of time off and has come to rely on it to help produce his most meaningful artwork. Combining his passions for art and music, he is responsible for famous album covers for Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith, to name a few. He also co-founded Sagmeister & Walsh, Inc. with Jessica Walsh, where he now works as a graphic designer and typographer. And every seven years, he shuts down their New York City studio for a full year while he travels to a faraway place to rest, explore and seek inspiration. “Right now we spend the first 25 years of our lives learning, then there’s another 40 years that’s really reserved for working, and then tacked on at the end of it are about 15 years for retirement,” said Sagmeister. “And I thought it might be helpful to basically cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them between those working years. The work that comes out of these years flows back into the company and into society at large rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two.”

Note: Watch Stefan Sagmeister's TED Talk “The Power Of Time Off” for more on the value of vacationing. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How a nightmare childhood inspired his one-of-a-kind gifts
2018-06-14, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/14/us/cnnheroes-rob-scheer-comfort-cases/index.html

When Rob Scheer was 12 years old, he ended up in foster care after a childhood filled with violence and abuse. As he moved through the system, he carried his limited belongings in a trash bag. Yet he was determined to overcome the obstacles. He went on to join the US Navy and launch a successful corporate career, and he always knew he wanted to be a father. In 2008, Scheer and his husband, Reece Scheer, decided they would adopt children out of foster care. All the children showed up with their belongings in trash bags. "I couldn't believe it. The trash bag that I had carried so many years prior to that had found its way back into my life," Rob Scheer said. "It's just not acceptable that any child should carry their belongings in something that we all throw our trash in." The couple adopted the four children, and as a family, the Scheers began compiling supplies to donate to local foster children. Their nonprofit, Comfort Cases, was born. "We started building cases for kids that came into foster care, making sure that they had the basics," Scheer said. The backpacks are loaded with necessities like soap and toothbrushes, along with a book, journal, blanket, stuffed animal and other items. Since 2013, the group has assembled more than 20,000 Comfort Cases for children in foster care all over the country. "We want to make them feel loved," Scheer said. "I want them to know that even though they started their life in the system, the system still is not defining them. They deserve more."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Smiling in the Face of Adversity: The Paula Hickey Story
2016-05-09, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/smiling-in-the-face-of-ad_b_9866194.html

In the short time that I’ve gotten to know Paula Hickey, I’ve found her to be a revelation. Listening to her bright, cheerful voice and her words of optimism and wisdom, it seems impossible that she is speaking to me from a hospice bed. And I found myself wondering...how is it that a woman facing death seems so much more present, more alive, than many of the healthy, able-bodied people I’ve met over the years? While the other kids her age were busy with school, playdates, and after-school sports, Paula was forced to spend her childhood in and out of hospitals. And after a traumatic brain aneurysm burst in her head at age nineteen, Paula’s go-to joke became, “I need that like I need a hole in my head!” Instead of feeling sorry for herself, or self-conscious in front of her classmates, Paula took the remarkable approach of looking at life as a comedy. She was nobody’s victim; she was like the star of her own quirky sitcom. And that’s what drew people toward her. Paula made it to college—and when everyone doubted that she would graduate after her brain hemorrhage at age nineteen, which caused her to lose her math skills and regressed her reading level to that of a fifth grader, Paula was resolute in her desire to not be a statistic. “I was determined to make something of my life, so I picked myself up and graduated college within three-and-a-half years... I’ve never given up. I’ve always kicked my own butt.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In Italy, how one cooperative is trying to counter the Mafia’s influence
2018-06-20, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2018/0620/In-Italy-how-on...

The first time Simmaco Perillo arrived in the Italian hamlet of Maiano di Sessa Aurunca, everything around him was abandoned. It was 2005, and nobody wanted to cultivate former Mafia land. “We wanted to make a farm for the reintegration of disadvantaged people,” says Mr. Perillo. Today, the social cooperative Al di lŕ dei sogni, or Beyond the Dreams, is making pasta and growing organic vegetables on land that once belonged to the powerful Camorra Mafia. The cooperative [works] with ... those recovering from addiction, former prisoners, and people who were released from public mental hospitals, to provide sustainable livelihoods and combat the influence of the Mafia. Perillo and others in the cooperative ... were able to [acquire the land] thanks to national law 109/96, passed in 1996, which permits the social reuse of property confiscated from the criminal organizations. The cooperative was granted the land, but threats and attacks were not long in coming. “After the keys were handed to us, they [Mafia gangsters] arrived at night. They pulled down walls, broke through the windows, severed the electrical system, destroyed the plumbing. So we decided to sleep inside” to guard the property, Perillo recalls with a proud smile. Despite the setting of several intimidating fires, among other tactics, the cooperative was able to set up a sustainable business. Today 32 people are members of the cooperative, and more than half are disadvantaged people.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


From tear gas to tweets: 50 years in the evolution of US activism
2018-07-27, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2018/0727/From-tear-gas-to-tweets-50-ye...

On a cross-country drive from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., our quest was to find out how activism has evolved in the past 50 years. Hours of interviews with former and current activists showed us that while the blueprints for battle have changed, the issues many people are fighting for have not. In 1968, the goal was to raise public awareness about the struggle of marginalized communities. Activists then used music, art, and writing as well as protests to bring that struggle forward. “What drove those movements was a rather wild hope that it was time for the country to repair what had been broken in American history,” says sociologist Todd Gitlin, author of “The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage.” Across the country, we saw people waking up to causes – conservative and liberal – they can support and finding a way to fight for them, just as activists did in 1968. Back then it might have meant wearing a brown beret or a black jacket, taking photos for a magazine, or writing a song with a person whose skin was a different color. Today it would look more like donning a pink hat or waving a rainbow flag or running for office when everyone says you can’t or shouldn’t. “I’ve become more aware at all levels,” says Ms. Oakes, [an] English teacher in West Virginia [who helped organize a successful strike]. “We have a platform to build on that I don’t think we had a year ago. And it’s been inspiring to see how we’ve started something.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


81-year-old runner is breaking records but says 'the best is yet to come'
2018-07-31, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/31/health/jeanne-daprano-runner-80s-longevity/ind...

Jeanne Daprano wants the world to know something: She's not leaving anything behind. No regrets, no fear. At 81 years old, she's still pushing her body to the limit. She's still running competitive races, breaking world records and taking on new challenges. "The thing I'm learning about aging is, it's inevitable," Daprano said. "I'm not going to escape it. There are two ways to go: You can either press on or give up. Do I want to go back to 50, 40? No. Because I think the best is yet to come." As an elementary school teacher, she began running in order to keep up with her students. "I was known as the running teacher," she said. It might have started there, but Daprano's life as a runner took off in ways she never could have predicted. She began running competitively with 5K and 10K road races before moving to the track. She is now the world record holder in the women's 70-year-old age group mile and the women's 75-year-old age group 400 meters and 800 meters. And she's not done. In February, Daprano took on a new challenge: her first indoor rowing competition. In classic fashion, she broke the world record in the 80-to-84 age group, rowing 2,000 meters in 9:23.7. For those hoping to either start getting in shape or stay in shape for a long time, she offers this advice: "Listen to your body. What are you passionate about? Don't look ahead or compare yourself to somebody else. I'm still doing it, and I probably have a greater passion now than ever, because I'm understanding who I am."

Note: Read more on this amazing woman and her routine. Explore a collection of concise summaries of news articles on amazing seniors.


How Golf Digest and College Students Helped Free a Man Wrongly Convicted of Murder
2018-09-20, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/20/nyregion/Valentino-Dixon-golf-digest-exone...

There were dozens of witnesses when a gunfight broke out on a street corner in Buffalo on Aug. 10, 1991. Torriano Jackson, 17, was killed. Valentino Dixon, then 21, was at the scene. Hours later, he was arrested. And in 1992, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to almost 40 years to life in prison. For years, Mr. Dixon fought that conviction from behind bars, insisting on his innocence. No physical evidence had ever connected him to the murder, and another man had confessed to it more than once. His murder conviction was vacated on Wednesday, and Mr. Dixon, 48, walked free. As he struggled to get his conviction overturned, Mr. Dixon got help from ... Martin Tankleff, who was imprisoned for 17 years after being wrongly convicted of murdering his parents. In prison, [Dixon] liked to draw detailed landscapes in colored pencil. Golf courses were a frequent subject. That caught the interest of journalists at Golf Digest, and the magazine profiled Mr. Dixon. In 2017, a new district attorney, John Flynn, took office in Erie County. And in 2018, a course called the Prison Reform Project was offered for the first time at Georgetown University ... with Mr. Tankleff [serving] as an adjunct professor. Three students chose Mr. Dixon’s case and gathered evidence. Their work helped Donald M. Thompson, a lawyer for Mr. Dixon, make his case to the district attorney’s office. Mr. Flynn, the district attorney, said the newly discovered evidence from various witnesses attesting to Mr. Dixon’s innocence was deemed credible.

Note: Read the Golf Digest profile featuring Mr. Dixon's artwork which brought much-needed attention to his wrongful incarceration. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New Benchmark Will Rank Companies On Their SDG Success
2018-09-29, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/annefield/2018/09/29/new-benchmark-will-rank-com...

In the world of social enterprise and impact investing, perhaps the most universally accepted guide is the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals [SDG]. Introduced in 2015, the 17 inter-connected goals now form an organizing principle for many entrepreneurs, as well as investors. To monitor and track how successful all that activity is, you ... need consistent benchmarks for measuring and comparing just how all those companies are doing. That’s where the World Benchmarking Alliance comes in. Recently announced at the United Nations General Assembly, it will develop free, publicly available benchmarks which will rank companies on their contributions to achieving the SDGs. With that in hand, everyone from consumers and investors to governments will have a comprehensive tool for deciding where to spend their money. Ultimately, the goal is to clarify what society expects from business. Some examples of factors in various benchmarks: For the SDG category of food and agriculture, they would include whether companies are producing food in an environmentally friendly way and ensuring acceptable livelihoods for farmers. For climate and energy, they would show to what extent companies in high carbon-emitting industries are contributing to the Paris Agreement. The aim is to develop all the benchmarks by 2023 to assess the world’s largest 2,000 companies. The first crop, due to be published in 2020, will address food and agriculture, climate and energy digital inclusion and gender equality and empowerment.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Japan's Space Rovers Send Pictures Back After First Ever Successful Landing On Asteroid
2018-09-25, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/asteroid-japan-rove...

Two tiny robots have landed safely on an asteroid after a Japanese spacecraft dropped them there on Friday. The scientists behind the historic mission expressed their delight as the rovers sent back the first images from the surface of the space rock Ryugu. Dubbed MINERVA-II1, the robotic explorers are the first of their kind to be successfully landed on an asteroid. The Japanese space agency JAXA announced that both units were operational after a period of silence between the unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa-2 depositing them and connection being established with the team on Earth. “I cannot find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realise mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid,” said Hayabusa-2 project manager Dr Yuichi Tsuda. The rovers will use the low gravity conditions on Ryugu to hop across the asteroid’s surface, measuring temperatures and sending images back to Earth via Hayabusa-2. “I was so moved to see these small rovers successfully explore an asteroid surface because we could not achieve this at the time of Hayabusa, 13 years ago,” said project mission manager Dr Makoto Yoshikawa. The small rovers are the first component of Hayabusa-2’s mission to Ryugu. Next month the spacecraft will deploy an explosive device to blast a hole in the asteroid, allowing rock samples to be taken from its depths. Following that it will release a French-German landing vehicle known as the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) to explore the surface in greater detail.

Note: Check out the fascinating photos of an actual asteroid at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet The White Nationalist Who Walked Away From It All
2018-09-24, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rising-out-of-hatred-derek-black-white-n...

Derek Black was the heir apparent to America’s white nationalist movement. He was the son of Don Black, the founder of the hate site Stormfront and the godson of David Duke, a former grand wizard of the KKK. The kingdom was Derek Black’s for the taking. One day, seemingly out of nowhere, he walked away from it all. In the new book “Rising Out of Hatred” by Washington Post investigative reporter Eli Saslow, the story of how Black came to leave it all behind is told. Saslow dives deep into Black’s transformation, which took place at a small liberal arts college. When members of the student body discovered a white nationalist living in their midst, many of them publicly shamed him. But a handful of students did the opposite, practicing a form of extreme acceptance. "When I first found [Derek Black], he was unequivocal that he did not want to be written about," [said Saslow]. "He naively thought he could leave it all behind. Meanwhile, white nationalism was seeing a rise in the political space. There were ... phrases he had helped popularize becoming mainstream. Derek felt increasingly culpable. He was haunted by it. That’s when he decided he needed to start talking about it more openly." Derek was on a campus that was ... social justice minded. Students were smart enough to be able to explain concepts like systematic oppression and privilege. But coming from people he respected, those ideas suddenly had real merit to him. He took time to engage and really think about it."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Octopuses Get Strangely Cuddly On The Mood Drug Ecstasy
2018-09-20, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/09/20/648788149/octopuses-get-...

The psychoactive drug known as ecstasy can make people feel extra loving toward others. A study published Thursday suggests it has the same effect on octopuses. Octopuses are almost entirely antisocial, except when they're mating. Scientists who study them have to house them separately so they don't kill or eat each other. However, octopuses given the drug known as MDMA (or ecstasy, E, Molly or a number of other slang terms) wanted to spend more time close to other octopuses and even hugged them. Octopuses' ... brains have a host of strange structures that evolved on a completely different trajectory from the human path. "They have this huge complex brain that ... has absolutely no business acting like ours does — but here they show that it does," says [neuroscientist Judit] Pungor. "This ... gentle, cuddly behavior is really pretty fascinating." The idea to test the drug's effect in octopuses came from Gul Dolen, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University. "My lab has been studying MDMA for a long time, she says, "and we have worked out a lot of neural mechanisms that enable MDMA to have ... pro-social effects." Dolen got interested in octopuses a few years ago, when scientists sequenced the full genetic code of a ... California two-spot octopus. It turns out that octopuses and people have almost identical genes for a protein that binds the signaling molecule serotonin to brain cells. This protein is also the target of MDMA, so Dolen wondered how the drug would affect this usually unfriendly animal.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Startup Is Building the Techiest Indoor Farm in the World
2018-02-28, Fortune
http://fortune.com/2018/02/28/bowery-indoor-farm-technology/

Indoor vertical farming startup Bowery is in the process of building a second facility which it claims will be the most technologically sophisticated indoor farm in the world. The operation will be in Kearny, N.J., and grow 30 times more produce than its current indoor farm that’s located nearby, and supply 100 types of leafy greens and herbs. Bowery is applying robotics, machine learning, and predictive analytics to the agriculture sector, a segment of the economy that has been slow to adopt technology and digital advancements. “Software is the brains of the farm,” says Bowery CEO and founder Irving Fain. Small adjustments—water flow, light intensity, temperature, humidity—can then be made in response to data inputs to impact outcomes like taste and flavor, such as growing a mustard green that’s got a spicier pick. “These changes get pushed out automatically into our system,” says Fain. “The precision and level of control is unparalleled.” Fain says that Bowery is more than 100 times more efficient than a square foot of farmland, in large part because the startup can grow 365 days a year. Bowery doesn’t use any pesticides or agri-chemicals. Normally out in a field that would lead to reduction in yield, but Bowery has more crop cycles per year, grows twice as fast as a field, and has higher yield per crop cycle, says Fain. “It’s a better product for us and better way of growing and less destructive to the earth,” says Fain. “We’re using technology to grow the purest food possible.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A Dutch Teenager Had a Dream to Clean Up the World's Oceans. 7 Years On, It's Coming True
2018-09-07, Time
http://time.com/5389782/boyan-slat-plastic-ocean-cleanup/

Boyan Slat spends a lot of time thinking about the ocean. The Dutch inventor has designed the world’s first ocean plastic cleanup system. After five and a half years of hard work, the 23-year-old Slat will watch from dry land as System 001 — a floating barrier nearly 2,000ft long — snakes its way out under the Golden Gate Bridge into the Pacific. Its destination is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a gyre of plastic waste twice the size of Texas held in position by ocean currents between California and Hawaii. If all goes to plan ... an array of 60 systems could reduce the amount of plastic there by half by 2025. “I hope that this will be a turning point for the plastic pollution problem,” Slat [said]. “For sixty years it has only gotten worse and worse. Now hopefully we’re turning the tide.” The eradication of the garbage patch, and more broadly the salvation of our oceans, has been Slat’s single-minded goal ever since he was 16 years old, when a diving trip to Greece yielded more plastic bag sightings than fish. Struck by the idea for a floating barrier that could collect plastic using the power of ocean currents alone, he founded his company, The Ocean Cleanup, aged just 18. Because the system is solid rather than a net, Slat says sea life will be protected from becoming ensnared. The hope is that plastic will accumulate as if on a seashore, ready to be collected by boats and taken for recycling.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Damyanti Gupta: First female engineer with an advanced degree at Ford Motor Company
2018-06-01, Time
http://time.com/collection-post/5296993/damyanti-gupta-firsts/

I was born in a small town in British India. One of the bloodiest partitions in the history of the world took place in my country. In 1947, the British had finally left India, which led to a division of the country into India and Pakistan. There were riots everywhere, and, when I was 5, we had to flee in the middle of the night to the coastal town of Karachi. It wasn’t until I was 13 that I even heard the word engineer. The Prime Minister of India [Jawaharlal Nehru] visited my small city. He said, “after 200 years of British rule, India has no industry and that we need engineers. I was the first woman admitted to the engineering college that I attended in India. There wasn’t even a ladies’ room on the campus. At 19, I came across a biography of Henry Ford, and I started dreaming about one day working for the company he had built. After finishing college in India, my parents gave me their lifetime savings to help me fulfill my dream. I arrived in the Motor City, Detroit, Mich., in January of 1967 without snow boots, a warm jacket, or a car. The first time I applied to Ford, I wasn’t hired, but I didn’t give up. When I tried again a few months later, the HR person was confused. He looked at my resume and said, “You’re applying for an engineering job, but we have no females here.” I told him, “I’m here, and unless you hire me, you’ll never have any.” It worked. I became the first female with a Masters in Engineering ever hired by the Ford Motor Company.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


From fear of Islam to outreach: how 9/11 prompted interfaith efforts
2011-09-08, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2011/0908/From-fear-of-Islam-to-outreac...

After the deadly attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the first person Rabbi Ted Falcon called was his friend, Jamal Rahman, a Sufi imam. On the following Sabbath, the rabbi invited the imam to his Seattle synagogue to speak to the congregation. Soon after, the two spiritual leaders, along with Pastor Don Mackenzie, commenced a series of frank conversations about their beliefs. The talks eventually inspired a radio show, a pair of books, and worldwide speaking tours. The men’s willingness to ask and answer tough questions about faith in the wake of 9/11 had clearly struck a nerve with many Americans. Over the past 10 years, the percentage of US congregations involved in interfaith worship has doubled – from 7 to 14 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of congregations performing interfaith community service nearly tripled – from 8 to almost 21 percent – according to a new survey by Hartford Seminary’s Institute for Religion Research. In doing so, these congregations have joined the colorful, decades-old American interfaith movement. Since 9/11, the movement has gained new momentum and, more than ever before, has drawn Muslims into its ranks. “To think about 9/11 without thinking about the interfaith movement would almost be a travesty,” says Maureen Fiedler, host of “Interfaith Voices,” a ... radio program that was created in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks. “Islam was so misunderstood and so vilified by those events,” says Ms. Fiedler, “that a real interfaith understanding has to be brought to bear on the issue.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


To narrow toxic divides, students build bridges between faiths
2018-09-12, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/to-narrow-toxic-divides-students-build-brid...

As part of the Interfaith Youth Core, students and educators from colleges around the nation are coming together to find common ground while respecting differences. The nonprofit was founded on the notion that ... a 21st century democracy can thrive only if its citizens have the skills to successfully navigate divides of all kinds. Eboo Patel is the founder and president of the organization, the largest of its kind in North America. Patel is Muslim, born in Mumbai, India, and raised in middle-class suburban Chicago. There are chapters on nearly 500 campuses now, focusing on service in the community, pressing issues on campus, and making meaningful cooperation with others a normal part of the college experience in and outside the classroom. "I was a big part of both the diversity and the service learning movements in college," [said Patel]. "And part of the intersection of that movement was the idea that you bring people from different racial and class and geographic backgrounds together to do service. That doesn't mean we're going to agree on every election. That doesn't mean we're going to agree on economic policy, but we can start a baseball league together. We can help make the school play successful. We can participate in disaster relief efforts together. If we're not willing to do the work of citizens with other citizens, you can't have a healthy, diverse democracy."

Note: Eboo Patel recently released a book titled "Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise." Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Glenn Cunningham, 78, Premier Miler of 1930's
1988-03-11, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/1988/03/11/obituaries/glenn-cunningham-78-premier-mil...

Glenn Cunningham, a former world-record holder in the mile run who in 1979 was named the greatest track performer in the history of Madison Square Garden, died yesterday. He was 78 years old. That Mr. Cunningham could win 21 of 31 mile races on the indoor track at the Garden during his prime in the 1930's was impressive. More significantly, he did it after suffering life-threatening burns on both legs as a 7-year-old when a stove in a school classroom in Everetts, Kan., exploded, killing his older brother Floyd. After being told there was a strong possibility he would never walk again, he spent seven months in bed, and then received daily massages from his mother, who kneaded his damaged muscles and sped his way to walking, and then running. In high school, he played baseball and football and boxed and wrestled. At 13, he entered his first high school mile race and won easily. Using running as therapy for the burn injuries, he found that middle distances suited him. At a sophomore at the University of Kansas, Mr. Cunningham set an American record for the mile with a time of 4 minutes 11.1 seconds. He was selected as a member of the United States team for the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and finished fourth in the 1,500-meter run. In 1933 he won the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. In his competitions at Madison Square Garden, Mr. Cunningham set six world records in the mile and the 1,500 meters and another at 1,000 yards.

Note: For more on the incredibly inspiring story of this great man, read this engaging article. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of news articles on incredibly inspiring disabled persons.


Global demand for fossil fuels will peak in 2023, says thinktank
2018-09-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/sep/11/global-energy-demand-fossil-...

Global demand for fossil fuels will peak in 2023, an influential thinktank has predicted. Explosive growth in wind and solar will combine with action on climate change and slowing growth in energy needs to ensure that fossil fuel demand peaks in the 2020s, Carbon Tracker predicted. The projection is much more bullish than estimates by the global energy watchdog and oil and gas companies, which mostly expect demand to peak in the mid-2030s. Coal reached its peak in 2014. The group, which popularised the notion of a carbon bubble – where fossil fuel assets lose their value in the switch to a low-carbon economy – said the findings spelled disruption for energy firms. The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, has already warned that markets face a “huge hit” from the transition. The Carbon Tracker report warned incumbency and size would be no protection, and compared the fate of fossil fuel firms to the horse and cart at the start of the 20th century. “Demand for incumbents peaks early, and investors in incumbents lose money early,” it said. The first two decades of this century were the innovation period for renewables, the authors said, while the “endgame” for fossil fuels – when renewables overtake them – would come from 2050 onwards. Falling wind and solar costs would lead to some emerging countries “leapfrogging” fossil fuels and opting for renewables to meet most of their growing energy needs, the thinktank said.

Note: Ireland recently became the first country to fully divest from fossil fuels. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This breakthrough in a type of photosynthesis could provide the world with unlimited energy
2018-09-12, MarketWatch
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-breakthrough-in-a-type-of-photosynthes...

Imagine a new, potent generation of solar panels capable of producing unlimited amounts of energy, using only sunshine and algae. This could be possible, thanks to a breakthrough made by researchers from the University of Cambridge, documented in a Nature Energy 2018 article. They were able to split water into its components, oxygen and hydrogen, using what is known as semi-artificial photosynthesis. The procedure has ... never been used to generate large amounts of energy due to expensive and toxic catalysts necessary for the reaction. Photosynthesis [is] the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy. Oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis when water absorbed by plants is “split.” Most of the oxygen on Earth is here because of this photochemical reaction. Hydrogen ... is also produced this way. Now, by combining algae and man-made components, researchers have been able to bypass both natural inefficiency and the use of toxic reactants. This was achieved by enabling a dormant process in algae that uses a special enzyme (hydrogenase) to reduce water into hydrogen and oxygen. Katarzyna Sokol, a researcher on the project ... explains: "Hydrogenase is an enzyme present in algae that is capable of reducing protons into hydrogen. During evolution, this process has been deactivated because it wasn’t necessary for survival, but we successfully managed to bypass the inactivity to [split] water into hydrogen and oxygen."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Harriette Thompson, Oldest Woman to Finish a Marathon, Dies at 94
2017-10-16, Runners World
https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a20862554/harriette-thompson-oldest-woman-t...

Harriette Thompson, the irrepressible nonagenarian who in 2015 became the oldest woman to finish a marathon, died Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was 94. A two-time cancer survivor, Thompson was a regular at the San Diego Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, running with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She started running the marathon in San Diego in 1999, and ran the race every year through 2015, except for 2003, when she was undergoing treatment for cancer. She raised more than $115,000 for cancer research through her efforts. In 2015, at 92 years and 93 days, she finished the marathon in 7:24:36, breaking the record for oldest woman to run a marathon previously held by Gladys Burrill, who at 92 years and 19 days ran 9:53 at the Honolulu Marathon in 2010. Thompson was slowed by many admirers who sought pictures with her during races. “Since I’m so old, everybody wants to have their picture taken with me,” Thompson told Runner’s World in 2015. “Brenny says, ‘Don’t stop her, just take a selfie,’ rather than stop and take pictures all the time, because I’d never get to the end. But it’s funny, all you need to do is get to be 90-something and you get lots of attention.” In June, at age 94, Thompson completed the half marathon at San Diego in 3:42:56, also a record for oldest woman to complete the 13.1-mile distance. “I never thought of myself as an athlete, but I feel like running is just something we all do naturally,” Thompson said.

Note: Explore a collection of concise summaries of news articles on amazing seniors.


How This Fashion Brand Is Bringing Women From Israel And Palestine Together
2018-08-31, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/michellemartin/2018/08/31/how-fashion-is-bringin...

When retired American couple, Dr. Whitman Jones and his wife Paula created The Center for Emerging Futures, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing some of the most difficult situations that humans face, they didn’t realize they would also be launching an innovative fashion brand soon thereafter. After visiting Israel and seeing the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians firsthand, Jones began looking for ways to facilitate peaceful connections that could transcend the conflict. Given the skill sets of women in the region, Jones had the idea to bring Israeli seamstresses and designers together with Palestinian embroiderers to create a high-end fashion collection that could create jobs and highlight talents from both sides of the conflict. The result, Two Neighbors ... is dedicated to bringing today’s opposing cultures in Israel and Palestine together by providing jobs for women and a pathway to collaboration and peace in a very broken society. Many of the women producing the goods, both Palestinian and Israeli, are often undereducated, so the Two Neighbors team equips the women with the tools and training needed to make the business run efficiently. The ultimate goal is for the US partners to exit the company. At the end of the day, Two Neighbors is about creating peace at the ground level through individuals. Their mission is creating beautiful products through a shared humanity and their most significant achievement is the partnership created among team members in Israel and Palestine.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Britain's oldest tandem riders at combined age of 177
2017-11-13, Sunday Express (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/879046/Britain-oldest-tandem-riders-Betty-C...

Britain's’s oldest tandem riders are still pedalling their “bicycle made for two” even though they have a combined age of 177. Betty Cox, 91, and husband Graham, 86, have been riding together ever since they met 70 years ago. The cycling-mad duo have travelled in Scotland, Norway and even completed a 400 mile round trip to Cornwall in just one week. Now fitness fanatic Mrs Cox from South Wales is encouraging others to get active. She said: “We've always loved cycling - and we are always out together. “I've been cycling for 69 years and my husband for 76 years. We started on the tandem soon after we met and have loved it ever since. “In 1949 we cycled from our home to Cornwall and back in a week. We also got to Scotland in a few days. “Graham tends to go on the front and me on the back. We love going on it.” The couple have reached 1,000 miles on their new tandem - after only riding it for six months. Mr Cox said: “We were quite surprised at it. We've never really thought of how many miles we do. I suppose not many people manage to reach that amount at our age. We go out on the tandem four days a week and we must do a lot of miles. Regular exercise, like we do on the tandem, is the key to a long and happy life. Just look at us. By looking at our ages is proof that exercise really does benefit you in the long run.“

Note: Watch a fun two-minute video of this spunky duo. Then explore a collection of concise summaries of news articles on amazing seniors.


Supersized solar farms are sprouting around the world (and maybe in space, too)
2018-08-18, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/supersized-solar-farms-are-sprouting-aro...

Utilities around the world are supersizing their solar farms. Nowhere is that more apparent than in southern Egypt, where what will be the world’s largest solar farm — a vast collection of more than 5 million photovoltaic panels — is now taking shape. When it’s completed next year, the $4 billion Benban solar park near Aswan will cover an area 10 times bigger than New York’s Central Park and generate up to 1.8 gigawatts of electricity. But Benban probably won’t hold on to its title for long. China is planning to build a two-gigawatt solar farm in the northwestern province of Ningxia, and the state of Gujarat in western India recently gave the go-ahead for a five-gigawatt facility. Japan is even talking about putting a large-scale solar farm in space. “There are huge savings for larger projects,” says Benjamin Attia, a solar analyst. A 2017 report from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the cost of photovoltaic systems shrank by a factor of five from 2010 to 2017. Even the punitive tariffs on Chinese solar panels enacted earlier this year by the Trump administration are unlikely to slow the spread of large-scale solar, which in the U.S. is already cheaper and much cleaner than coal. “Governments have wised up,” says Attia. “They just want the cheapest, fastest way to add new electricity supplies. For nuclear, procurement can take a decade. For gas, it’s up to four years. If you’re talking solar and things go smoothly, you can build a reasonably large project in 18 months.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Scotland’s floating turbine smashes tidal renewable energy records
2018-08-22, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/scotland-floating-turbine-tidal-pow...

A floating tidal stream turbine off the coast of Orkney has produced more green energy in a year than Scotland’s entire wave and tidal sector produced in the 12 years before it came online. In 12 months of full-time operation, the SR2000 turbine supplied the equivalent annual power demand of about 830 households. It produced 3GWh of renewable electricity during its first year of testing. Over the 12 years before its launch ... wave and tidal energies across Scotland had collectively produced 2.983GWh. Andrew Scott, chief executive officer of developers Scotrenewables Tidal Power, said: “The SR2000’s phenomenal performance has set a new benchmark for the tidal industry. “Its first year of testing has delivered a performance level approaching that of widely deployed mature renewable technologies.” He added: “The ability to easily access the SR2000 for routine maintenance has been a significant factor in our ability to generate electricity at such levels over the past 12 months, including over winter.” The team ... said their success – combined with Meygen’s generation of more than 8GWh over the past year from four tidal turbines deployed in the Pentland Firth – is evidence that tidal power generation could be rolled out more widely.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A Former Neo-Nazi Explains Why Hate Drew Him In — And How He Got Out
2018-01-18, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2018/01/18/578745514/a-former-neo-nazi-explains-why-hate-...

Christian Picciolini was 14 years old when he attended the first gathering of what would become the Hammerskin Nation, a violent, white-power skinhead group. Picciolini embraced the white supremacist message he heard ... and went on to front a white-power punk band, White American Youth. But after eight years as a neo-Nazi, Picciolini began to question the hateful ideology he espoused. He remembers a specific incident in which he was beating a young black man. His eyes locked with his victim, and he felt a surprising empathy. It was a turning point. He withdrew from the movement and in 2011 co-founded Life After Hate, a nonprofit that counsels members of hate groups and helps them disengage. "Over the last 14 years I have actually helped over 100 people disengage from the same movement that I was a part of," he says. "[Neo-Nazis] know that I'm a danger to them because I understand what they understand — but I also understand the truth." Picciolini's new memoir is called White American Youth. "I started one of America's first white-power bands to both recruit young people, encourage them into acts of violence and speak to the vulnerabilities and the grievances they were feeling so that I could draw them in with promises of paradise," [said Picciolini]. "It brings back a lot of shame, because I know that I put words out into the world that still today are affecting people and hurting people."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This 84-Year-Old Grandmother Is Still Pole Vaulting. What’s Your Excuse?
2018-07-16, Runners World
https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a22160755/pole-vaulting-grandma/

Many people worry that they’ll end up slowing down as they get older. But that doesn’t seem to be concern for 84-year-old Flo Meiler. In fact, this grandmother is just hitting her stride. Meiler, of Shelburne, Vermont, is a regular at the state’s senior games each year. There, she competes in all of the events, from the hurdles to the pole vaulting. Meiler was a late bloomer to track and field. A sales rep for 30 years, she hit the track for the first time at age 60. Five years later, she tried pole vaulting. Why? It simply seemed like fun, she believed. So she bought herself a “How to pole vault” video and essentially taught herself the skills she needed to compete. With roughly 750 medals under her belt so far for her age group and senior games victories, Meiler has no plans of stopping. She wants to continue going after records, many of which she already owns. One notable one is her six-foot pole vaulting clearance when she was 80, a world record. So if you’re ever feeling insecure about your ability to start something new or reach a goal, just think about Meiler: That 84-year-old is still pole vaulting in Vermont. What’s your excuse?

Note: Watch an inspiring 4-minute BBC video on this amazing woman. Then explore a collection of concise summaries of news articles on amazing seniors.


World's 'poorest' ex-president Mujica turns down pension
2018-08-15, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-45195188

Former Uruguayan leader José Mujica, who was dubbed "the world's poorest president" for his modest lifestyle, says he does not want any pension from his time as a senator. Mr Mujica resigned on Tuesday from the post of senator, which he had held since 2015, when his five-year-term as president had ended. He said he would not serve out his term until 2020. The ex-president made his resignation official in a letter to the head of the Senate, Lucía Topolansky, who is also Uruguay's vice-president and Mr Mujica's wife of 13 years. In it he said "the motives [for resigning] are personal, I would call them 'tiredness after a long journey'." His down-to-earth lifestyle and refusal to live in the presidential palace during his time in office [made him] famous. Then and now, he and his wife, who was his life partner and fellow guerrilla fighter long before they married in 2005, live on a modest flower farm on the outskirts of Montevideo. He donated most of his salary as president to charity and the only possession he had when he took office in 2010 was his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle. The light-blue, beat-up Beetle became so famous he was offered $1m (Ł780,000) for it in 2014, but turned the offer down because he said he would have no way of transporting his three-legged dog without it.

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Global tree cover has increased 7% since 1982, finds biggest ever study
2018-08-10, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/tree-cover-increase-world-deforesta...

Amid growing urbanisation, deforestation and agricultural expansion, it’s long been thought the number of trees across the planet is being reduced. However, that belief is probably wrong, according to new figures. The biggest ever analysis of global land change has discovered there are more trees across the earth today than there were 36 years ago. The study, published in the journal Nature this month, shows trees now cover 7 per cent more of the earth’s surface – roughly 2.24 million square kilometres – than they did in 1982. “This overall net gain is the result of a net loss in the tropics being outweighed by a net gain in the extratropics,” the report states. The study, led by scientists from the University of Maryland, in the US, analysed 35 years’ worth of satellite data to provide the most comprehensive picture ever made of the changing use of land. Tree loss in the tropics is caused by agricultural expansion, while the new growth areas [are] in regions which were previously too cold to support such flourishing life, suggesting global warming is causing previously unidentified changes to the planet’s landscapes. The study ... states that 60 per cent of all change appears to be directly driven by human activity. Of the remaining 40 per cent, the study suggests, most of the change can be attributed to indirect results of human actions.

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Waiter's 104 a 'Medical Miracle'
1971-06-24, Ogden Standard-Examiner/UPI
https://newspaperarchive.com/ogden-standard-examiner-jun-24-1971-p-1/

Larry Lewis began his 105th year Wednesday with his usual morning regimen — a 6.7 mile run through [San Francisco's] Golden Gate Park. Then he ran an extra mile to the St. Francis Hotel, where he works as a waiter, for celebrating birthday No. 104. Lewis was followed by puffing newsmen, soma a quarter his age, as he trotted the last mile to show them "how to do it." Lewis, a waiter at the St. Francis for 24 years, was reared on the Navajo indian reservation. He said he joined the P.T. Barnum circus at 15, was an assistant to magician Harry Houdini for 33 years, and charged up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War — ahead of Theodore Roosevelt. Lewis, who doesn't have an ounce of fat in the 136 pounds he carries on his 5-foot-9 frame, still works up to 13 hours a day at the hotel. He is considered a medical miracle by this doctor – who pays Lewis to let him examine him. "He has more kinetic energy than most of us have ever known," the doctor said. "Larry did a lot of it himself," the physician said, "but he does not abuse his body by smoking, drinking, or keeping late and irregular hours. [He also] eats the right foods – foods low in low in fat, lots of fruit, and abstained from dessert." Lewis' wife of 19 years Bessie, 73, attended the party that featured what Lewis calls his "fountain of youth," an elixir of fresh mountain valley water. "I drink three gallons of it a day, he said." In addition to his daily runs through Golden Gate Park, Lewis said he also keeps fit with "a little boxing at the Olympic club and some hand ball."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of inspiring seniors news articles. Then explore the excellent resources provided in our Inspiration Center.


Looking for miracles? Here’s one for the ages
2017-09-22, Star-Telegram (A leading newspaper of Dallas-Fort Worth)
https://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/richard-greene/articl...

The real-life story of Dr. Charles Mully is beyond inspirational. This remarkable story unfolds on the big screen. It all happens in the East African country of Kenya. Mully was 6 when he was abandoned by his family. After somehow surviving into young adulthood, he finds his way to Nairobi and a job there. He finds remarkable success. Mully is set for a life of abundance. But he became somehow troubled that such was not his life’s purpose. After leaving his successful company behind, he moves his family back to the place from whence he came. They ... begin rescuing a few of the orphans who, like his own beginnings, spent their days drifting the dirt streets and trying to survive. Soon those few grew to more. When the confines of the villages limited the ongoing expansion of his mission, he moved into the wide-open spaces of the dry and barren East African tundra. There they built their own village but its future was limited by the lack of a water supply. While unable to sleep, Mully gets out of bed in the middle of the night and tells his wife that God is going to show him where water can be found. They proceed down a pathway then veer off ... and put a stake in the ground. Workers in the family start digging with shovels and picks and soon there is water so abundant a bridge is needed to cross the stream that results from the flow. Today they are growing crops in the desert and supplying food enough for the 10,000 members of the world’s largest family and beyond.

Note: Watch the inspiring trailer to the film on this great man.


Public bank that would boost pot shops, affordable housing could go before L.A. voters this fall
2018-06-26, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-public-bank-vote-20180626-story.html

The Los Angeles City Council is preparing to ask voters if they want to create a publicly owned bank, something no city or state in the United States has done in nearly a century. Council members voted Tuesday to start the process of putting a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot that would allow for the creation of such a bank by amending the city charter. The move is an early step in council President Herb Wesson’s plan to create a public bank, which he said could offer accounts to scores of city cannabis businesses that are shunned by commercial banks because of federal drug laws. It also could help finance affordable housing, he said. David Jette, legislative director of advocacy group Public Bank L.A., said putting the issue to a citywide vote could be a make-or-break moment for public banking, an idea that has gained steam since the financial crisis and lately seen an influx of support from the cannabis industry. Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and the state of California are all in the process of studying whether they can or should start public banks, in part to serve cannabis businesses. For now, though, the U.S. has just one public bank: the Bank of North Dakota, established in 1919. “We’re cautiously ecstatic,” Jette said after Tuesday’s vote. “This will be a referendum on the idea of public banking. I think this is an existential vote for our entire national movement.”

Note: The measure was approved and will be on the November ballot for LA voters. For more, see this excellent webpage. Read a revealing article on how the Bank of North Dakota allowed the state to sail through the 2008 financial crisis while all other 49 states suffered. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Organic solar cells set 'remarkable' energy record
2018-08-09, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45132427

Chinese researchers have taken what they say is a major step forward for the development of a new generation of solar cells. Manufacturers have long used silicon to make solar panels because the material was the most efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. But organic photovoltaics, made from carbon and plastic, promise a cheaper way of generating electricity. This new study shows that organics can now be just as efficient as silicon. Organic photovoltaics (OPV) can be made of compounds that are dissolved in ink so they can be printed on thin rolls of plastic, they can bend or curve around structures or even be incorporated into clothing. Commercial solar photovoltaics usually covert 15-22% of sunlight, with a world record for a silicon cell of 27.3% reached in this summer in the UK. Organics have long lingered at around half this rate. In April researchers were able to reach 15% in tests. Now this new study pushes that beyond 17% with the authors saying that up to 25% is possible. This is important because according to estimates, with a 15% efficiency and a 20 year lifetime, organic solar cells could produce electricity at a cost of less than 7 cents per kilowatt-hour. In 2017, the average cost of electricity in the US was 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Flexible, printed solar cells offer a wide range of possibilities. They can work indoors and they can be made semi-transparent, so they could be incorporated into windows and generate power during daylight.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Designing the Death of a Plastic
2018-08-06, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/06/science/plastics-polymers-pollution.html

Most synthetic polymers - Greek for “many parts,” because they are long chains of many identical molecules - were not designed to disintegrate. They were meant to last as long as possible. But synthetic polymers became so popular [that] they’re at the root of the global burden of billions of tons of plastic waste. The environmental effects of plastic buildup and the declining popularity of plastics have helped to spur chemists on a quest to make new materials with two conflicting requirements: They must be durable, but degradable on command. In short, scientists are in search of polymers or plastics with a built-in self-destruct mechanism. The starting point requires picking polymers that are inherently unstable. Dismantling these polymers is sometimes called unzipping them, because once the polymers encounter a trigger ... their units fall off one after another until the polymers have completely switched back to small molecules. “We can have a big change in properties or complete degradation of the polymer just from one event,” says Elizabeth Gillies, a polymer chemist. On-demand, rapid disintegration gives unzipping polymers an edge ... she says, as biodegradation is often slow and difficult to control. These next-generation polymers could help mitigate pollution problems associated with plastic products. If the units were collected after unzipping to make new polymers, that would lead to chemical recycling. Most recycling done today simply involves melting the plastic and remolding it.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


We’re drowning in trash. These Dutch scientists have a solution.
2018-08-02, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/08/02/biomass/?nored...

The sprawling, gated campus of the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) sits on a spit of land about an hour north of Amsterdam. In a nearby control room, engineers ... were working on one of clean energy’s intransigent problems: how to turn waste into electricity without producing more waste. Decades ago, scientists discovered that when heated to extreme temperatures, wood and agricultural leftovers, as well as plastic and textile waste, turn into a gas composed of underlying chemical components. The resulting synthetic gas, or “syngas,” can be harnessed as a power source, generating heat or electricity. But gasified waste has serious shortcomings: it contains tars, which clog engines and disrupt catalysts, breaking machinery, and in turn, lowering efficiency and raising costs. This is what the Dutch technology is designed to fix. The MILENA-OLGA system, as they call it, is a revolutionary carbon-neutral energy plant that turns waste into electricity with little or no harmful byproducts. The MILENA-OLGA process ... is 11 percent more efficient than most existing energy-from-waste plants and over 50 percent more efficient than incinerators of a comparable scale. The process also emits zero wastewater and produces no particulates or other pollutants. Just 4 percent of the original material is left over as inert white ash, which can be used to make cement.

Note: A similar technology was developed and implemented over 10 years ago, as detailed in this Popular Science article. Why wasn't this amazing invention widely reported and used? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Freshest Ideas Are in Small Grocery Stores
2018-07-31, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/31/dining/grocery-store.html

In New Prague, Minn., population around 7,600, Kendra and Paul Rasmusson [opened a grocery] store that is largely unstaffed. The couple’s young daughter has epilepsy, and they discovered early on that a healthy diet could help her feel better. They couldn’t find enough local, organic items at the big-box store close to town. So ... they opened Farmhouse Market. The numbers wouldn’t work if they were to run it in a traditional way. Inspired by a nearby 24-hour fitness center, they had an idea: Why not create a store that didn’t need staff, for shoppers who wanted organic [food] from local farmers? Members pay $99 a year and use a key card to open the door. They can shop anytime they want. Local farmers, beekeepers and other suppliers have cards, too, so they can restock their supplies at midnight if they want. In Baltimore, the Salvation Army market is tackling an urban version of the grocery-store drought. The DMG Foods was built in the front of a Salvation Army distribution center in a neighborhood where families in public housing mix with Johns Hopkins students and older people who grew up there. The cheery store, whose name is an abbreviation of the organization’s motto, Doing the Most Good, feels a little bit like what Amazon would ship if you typed “grocery store” into the search bar. And in a way, that’s what [founder Maj. Gene]. Hogg did. “We didn’t do this to make money selling groceries,” Mr. Hogg said. “We did this so people could have a neighborhood grocery store with fresh food.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Europe keeps setting clean-energy records
2018-07-14, Quartz
https://qz.com/1328344/renewable-energy-europe-keeps-setting-new-records-and-...

This week, two of the biggest economies in Europe set new records for clean energy. The UK’s electrical grid has not burned any coal for about 1,000 hours so far this year. Though it’s just a symbolic achievement, the pace at which the UK is reaching such figures shows the pace of the energy transition. In 2016 and 2017, the comparable figures for the full year stood at 210 hours and 624 hours, respectively. There are two reasons for the shift: a carbon tax on coal has made cleaner natural gas more attractive, and subsidies for solar and wind power have ensured wider deployment of new clean-energy technologies. Germany’s case has been slightly different. Though it began pushing for renewable energy much earlier than the UK, its gains have been slower. The coal lobby in Germany is a lot stronger than in the UK. But as the costs of renewable energy have come down, change is finally showing. In 2018 so far, coal generated about 35.1% of the country’s electricity. In comparison, renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and biomass, generated about 36.5%. At the half-year mark, it’s the first time in Germany’s history that renewables sources have generated more electricity than coal. Such records and falling renewable costs have made it easier for the EU to set more ambitious clean-energy goals. Last month, the bloc’s member nations agreed that each country must get 32% of all its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Sweden to reach its 2030 renewable energy target by the end of 2018
2018-08-01, ZMEscience
https://www.zmescience.com/ecology/renewable-energy-ecology/sweden-renewable-...

While most countries are struggling to reach their renewable energy targets, others are breezing past them. Thanks to both its geography and impactful policies, Sweden is set to achieve its 2030 goals in mere months. In 2012, years before the Paris Agreement, Norway and Sweden signed a joint agreement to increase production of electricity from renewables by 28.4 terawatt hours within eight years. It only took a few years for Sweden to realize it was ahead of schedule, and in 2017, it increased its target, aiming to add another 18 TWh by 2030. Lo and behold, once more, Sweden is moving much faster than anticipated and now there’s a good chance it will reach the 2030 goal in mere months — maybe even by the end of the year. Wind energy is one of the main drivers propelling Sweden’s renewable targets forward. According to the World Economic Forum ... there will be 3,681 turbines functioning in the country by the end of the year. But this is only the start of the road for Sweden. Sweden already has a cross-party agreement to achieve 100% renewable energy production by 2040, and the figure is already hovering around 57%. The country has also set a target of net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2045. According to the Paris Agreement, all EU countries have agreed to achieve 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dying Organs Restored to Life in Novel Experiments
2018-07-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/10/health/mitochondria-transplant-heart-attac...

Mitochondria are tiny organelles that fuel the operation of the cell. A series of experiments has found that fresh mitochondria can revive flagging cells and enable them to quickly recover. In animal studies ... mitochondrial transplants revived heart muscle that was stunned from a heart attack. Infusions of mitochondria also prolonged the time organs could be stored before they were used for transplants, and even ameliorated brain damage that occurred soon after a stroke. In ... human tests, mitochondrial transplants appear to revive and restore heart muscle in infants that was injured in operations to repair congenital heart defects. The idea for mitochondrial transplants was born of serendipity. Dr. Emani is a pediatric surgeon. Dr. McCully is a scientist who studies adult hearts. Both were wrestling with ... how to fix hearts that had been deprived of oxygen during surgery or a heart attack. One day, [Dr. McCully] decided simply to pull some mitochondria from healthy [pig] cells and inject them into the injured cells. To his surprise, the mitochondria moved like magnets to the proper places in the cells and began supplying energy. The pig hearts recovered. Meanwhile, Dr. Emani was struggling with the same heart injuries in his work with babies. [When] the two researchers met, “it was almost an ‘aha’ moment,” Dr. Emani said. The scientists have now treated 11 babies with mitochondria. All of the more recent patients survived and are doing well.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A 4-Day Workweek? A Test Run Shows a Surprising Result
2018-07-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/world/asia/four-day-workweek-new-zealand.html

A New Zealand firm that let its employees work four days a week while being paid for five says the experiment was so successful that it hoped to make the change permanent. The firm, Perpetual Guardian, which manages trusts, wills and estates, found the change actually boosted productivity among its 240 employees, who said they spent more time with their families, exercising, cooking, and working in their gardens. Similar experiments in other countries have tested the concept of reducing work hours as a way of improving individual productivity. In Sweden, a trial in the city of Gothenburg mandated a six-hour day, and officials found employees completed the same amount of work or even more. In Perpetual Guardian’s case, workers said the change motivated them to find ways of increasing their productivity while in the office. Meetings were reduced from two hours to 30 minutes, and employees created signals for their colleagues that they needed time to work without distraction. “They worked out where they were wasting time and worked smarter,” [Jarrod Haar, a human resources professor] said. Andrew Barnes, the company’s founder ... said he came up with the idea for a four-day workweek after reading a report that suggested people spent less than three hours of their work day productively employed, and another that said distractions at work could have effects on staff akin to losing a night’s sleep.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Africa might leapfrog straight to cheap renewable electricity and minigrids
2017-11-09, The Economist
http://discovery.economist.com/worldcup/africa-might-leapfrog-straight-to-che...

Of all the measures of the continent’s poverty, few are starker than that about two-thirds of its people have no access to reliable electricity. But thanks to a happy combination of innovation and falling costs for renewable energy, Africa may now be able to leapfrog ahead not once but twice, skipping both polluting fossil fuels and, often, the electricity grid itself. This is partly due to falling costs: the price of solar panels has come down by more than 80% since 2010, and that of wind turbines is also dropping fast. Yet generating power is useful only if it can be sent to where it is needed, and in many parts of Africa electricity grids seldom stretch beyond big cities. [A] set of innovations is offering to sidestep this problem with mini rooftop solar installations that can power a home, or slightly larger “micro-grids” that can light up a village. Rooftop solar systems usually consist of a small solar panel and a small rechargeable battery and controller which typically powers ... lights, a radio and a phone charger. Most systems have a built-in connection to the mobile-phone network that allows the provider to switch it on or off remotely. Instead of shelling out $250 or so upfront for an entire system, customers can buy electricity for the equivalent of 50 cents a day using mobile money. Thanks to this new “paygo” model, venture capital is pouring into an industry that now has at least half a dozen significant firms. The largest of them, M-Kopa, has electrified more than 500,000 homes and is adding almost 200,000 more a year.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


These college students moonlight as ‘grandkids’ for hire. Seniors love it.
2018-06-20, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2018/06/20/these-college...

When Andrew Parker’s grandfather began suffering from dementia three years ago, his grandmother had to start taking care of the house and caring for him. It was hard work, and one day, Parker got the idea to hire a college student to help out. His grandfather loved it. So did his grandmother. For a few hours, he said, “She got to go do her own thing.” It got Parker thinking. “There’s so many seniors and so many college students out there.” So in January, [he] launched a business called Papa, after his name for his grandfather. It connects students with seniors for light housekeeping or driving chores, but the company’s real goal is in its slogan: “Grandkids on-Demand.” “We are specifically a service that links two generations,” Parker said. “Our emphasis is this is a really fun day for a senior. Someone who might say, ‘I don’t want to bother my daughter or son but I want someone who can be with me for a day so I don’t have to annoy my kids.’” To date, the company has around 250 members who pay a monthly fee of $15 to $30 to belong, and then pay $15 per hour for visits by students, or Papa Pals. Pals must be enrolled in a 4-year college, or be working on a masters degree, a social work degree, or a nursing or medical degree. They must have a four-door car and pass a background check. “The biggest thing we’re focusing on is curing loneliness,” Parker said. The ... nature of the relationship – and the relative youth of the Pals – can also make them easier to work with than more traditional aides.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Two years after Philando Castile’s death, programs aim to transform relations between police, residents
2018-07-07, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/two-years-after-philando-castiles-dea...

An African American family of six sits inside the Nissan Quest in this first-ring suburb of St. Paul. The car tells a story of poverty: Plastic covers a broken window; rust lines the wheel wells. Officer Erin Reski pulled the vehicle over for a burned-out taillight, a problem similar to the one that led an officer to stop Philando Castile in the Twin Cities two years ago. That incident ... ended with Castile fatally shot. This situation ends very differently. Reski walks back to the minivan ... hands over a sheet of paper and offers a brief explanation. The response is swift and emphatic. “Oh, thank you!” the driver says. Scenes like this have been taking place across the Twin Cities thanks to the Lights On program, believed to be the first of its kind in the country. Instead of writing tickets for minor equipment problems, police officers are authorized to issue $50 coupons so motorists can have those problems fixed at area auto shops. Twenty participating police departments have given out approximately 660 coupons in a little more than a year. For motorists such as Sandy Patterson, another African American resident who was pulled over for a burned-out headlight in January, the small gesture of being offered a coupon makes a big difference. “I was relieved that I was getting a voucher to purchase a service that could’ve been quite expensive,” she said. “I had an overwhelming feeling of decreased anxiety because of the whole way the communication went, with somebody helping out versus giving a ticket.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Trying to Cut Crime in Public Housing by Making It More Livable
2018-07-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/10/opinion/new-york-crime-public-housing.html

New York City is the safest big city in the nation. The city is betting it can [get even safer]. The Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety is being employed in 15 of the most dangerous public housing complexes in the city. The idea is to lower crime by making these neighborhoods better - places where residents live in well-maintained buildings, have necessary services, are engaged in civic life and can collaborate to solve problems. Working elevators, summer jobs for teenagers, community centers open till midnight, residents who know what to do when the trash piles up - no one would doubt that these are good things. But it seems a stretch to call them crime prevention measures. Will people really commit fewer robberies and shootings if the trash gets picked up? Crime has dropped more in the 15 complexes involved in the plan than in other public housing. Why? It might be this: Crime is in part a function of trust. “Trust is the heartbeat of civic life,” said Elizabeth Glazer, head of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. “These neighborhoods feel completely estranged.” Perhaps more important ... is what social scientists call “collective efficacy” - achieved when neighbors feel that they can trust and rely on one another and work together to get things done. Collective efficacy is so important that the lack of it - common in disadvantaged neighborhoods - is most of the reason poor communities have more crime. When they build collective efficacy, even without other changes, crime drops.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Here's how patients say they reversed early Alzheimer's symptoms
2018-07-16, ABC News
http://abc7news.com/health/heres-how-patients-say-they-reversed-early-alzheim...

Two prominent California doctors, with bestselling books, insist we have the power to heal our own brains from diseases. They say it should start when we're young and begin with a look at the way we eat. Two women we spoke with who followed that advice say ... they reversed their early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease by making food and lifestyle changes based on research by neuroscientist Dr. Dale Bredesen. He wrote a book called "The End of Alzheimer's." "Two years ago, I scored mildly cognitively impaired on a cognitive assessment test," said Dr. Sally Weinrich. "Most recently, I scored perfect!" Weinrich, a former cancer researcher and grandmother, followed the Bredesen protocol for several months and is able to cook once again for her large family, pick up the grandkids from school and she's learning Spanish. Deborah, a very active mother of four and a lawyer, says, "Over a period of four to six months, the symptoms I was experiencing all reversed and I returned to my cognitive functioning that had been my norm when I was younger." She was able to recover her ability to sight-read notes when she plays the piano. Adda, an active 51-year-old grandmother, [said] that she improved her ability to think clearly and she lost almost 80 pounds after making dramatic food and lifestyle changes ... after she started working for cardiologist Dr. Steven Gundry nearly six years ago. He wrote a book called "The Plant Paradox."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


China reassigns 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in bid to fight pollution
2018-02-13, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-tree-plant-soldiers-reass...

China has reportedly reassigned over 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in a bid to combat pollution by increasing the country's forest coverage. A large regiment from the People's Liberation Army, along with some of the nation's armed police force, have been withdrawn from their posts on the northern border to work on non-military tasks inland. The majority will be dispatched to Hebei province, which encircles Beijing, according to the Asia Times. The area is known to be a major culprit for producing the notorious smog which blankets the capital city. The idea is believed to be popular among members of online military forums as long as they can keep their ranks and entitlements. It comes as part of China's plan to plant at least 84,000 square kilometres (32,400 square miles) of trees by the end of the year, which is roughly equivalent to the size of Ireland. The aim is to increase the country's forest coverage from 21 per cent of its total landmass to 23 per cent by 2020. Zhang Jianlong, head of China's State Forestry Administration, said by 2035 the figure could reach as high as 26 per cent."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Homegirl Cafe Offers 'Platos' by Ex-Gang Members With Hope
2018-07-17, US News and World Report/Associated Press
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/california/articles/2018-07-17/homegi...

Homegirl Cafe, a Los Angeles breakfast and lunch spot with a Latino twist, offers a unique dining experience prepared by former gang members. The popular cafe in the city's Chinatown allows visitors to relish carefully crafted meals while getting inspired by former inmates who willingly retell their stories about seeking a better life. The cafe is an offshoot of the Homeboy Industries social enterprises founded by Jesuit priest Greg Boyle to give former gang members job training and social services. Trainees learn all aspects of culinary arts while developing new social prowess that gives visitors a tender encounter. Plates like chilaquiles — fresh crisp tortilla chips tossed with warm tomatillo salsa, egg, crema fresca, and queso cotija — are made from ingredients that come straight from urban farms.

Note: Read more about Homeboy Industries' success in providing former gang members with a path to a better life. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Twelve-year-old launches teddy bear charity from his bedroom
2016-05-29, ABC (Australia's public broadcasting system)
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-30/campbell-project-365-sees-teddy-bears-m...

Campbell Remess is not like most 12-year-olds. For the last three years, Campbell has spent all of his free time sewing teddy bears for charity. "I do comfort bears, which are for parents if their kids are in hospital having a hard time," he said. "I do overseas bears, like for terrorists attacks. I sent one over to Paris when the people got hurt, and I'm sending some over to Brussels too." This charitable obsession started when Campbell decided he wanted to give Christmas presents to children in hospital. "He asked if we could buy presents for children in hospital and I said 'No way, dude'," Sonya Whittaker, Campbell's mum, said. She told Campbell that with nine children of their own, buying presents for sick kids would just cost too much. "He said 'No worries, I'll make them then'," she said. "He came down with this funky looking teddy bear that he'd made ... it was incredible," Ms Whittaker said. "He's just sewn and sewn since then." Campbell has pushed himself for the past two years to create a teddy bear a day. Ms Whittaker has since set up a Facebook group called Project 365 by Campbell to track her son's progress. One of the group's members, Kat, was recently inspired to help Campbell. "I sent his mum a message one night to ask if he needed fabric," Kat said. "She came back with a definite no, but [said] what he did need was storage space. "I set up a [online fundraiser, and] we reached $1,000 in 36 hours." Kat used the money to buy Campbell a work bench and storage space to hold all the donated fabric he has.

Note: Campbell expanded his caring work to kids who suffer bullying. For more inspiring young heroes, see this CNN article.


A third of start-ups aim for social good
2018-06-14, Financial Times
https://www.ft.com/content/d8b6d9fa-4eb8-11e8-ac41-759eee1efb74

Across the world, almost half as many people are creating ventures with a primarily social or environmental purpose as those with a solely commercial aim, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. The movement is driven mainly by younger entrepreneurs and its growth has taken place against a backdrop of corporate scandals in mainstream businesses ... that have brought capitalism’s values into question. “Social entrepreneurship has gone mainstream and global,” argues Peter Drobac, a doctor who created healthcare ventures in Rwanda. Dr Drobac ... was inspired to get into the field 20 years ago when HIV infection was running unchecked. “Younger generations in my experience are much more deeply connected to the world and to societal challenges. They want careers that allow them to create positive change,” he says. Other factors, Dr Drobac adds, include the changing nature of work, “which means that the prospect of spending one’s entire career in the same company is becoming vanishingly small”. At the same time, technology is creating opportunities for disruptive innovation in sectors such as education and healthcare. While research suggests the majority of social entrepreneurs worldwide are young, the movement has been inspired by figures such as Muhammad Yunus. The septuagenarian Bangladeshi founder of Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for pioneering microcredit — loans for entrepreneurs too poor to get traditional bank loans, many of them women.

Note: Read more about the microcredit movement mentioned in the article above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Ireland becomes first country in world to pull money from fossil fuels
2018-07-12, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ireland-stop-fossil-fuel-mone...

Ireland will become the first country in the world to fully divest from fossil fuels after politicians voted to withdraw all public funds from oil and gas companies. In an effort to meet the country's climate change commitments, as embodied in the Paris agreement, the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill will probably be brought into force after parliament's summer recess. First introduced by independent MP Thomas Pringle in 2016, the bill has since been backed by all opposition parties. Taking inspiration from universities and cities around the world that have withdrawn financial support from the fossil fuel industry, Mr Pringle began working on the idea after meeting Irish international development charity Trocaire. The passing of the bill will compel the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to sell off its fossil fuel investments, which stand at more than €300m (Ł265m) across 150 companies worldwide. Mr Pringle said the withdrawal of this money will not only remove funds from some of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, it will act as a gesture of Ireland’s commitment to tackling climate change. Eamonn Meehan, executive director of Trocaire, agreed that the bill made a “powerful statement” that would serve to improve the nation’s reputation as a “climate laggard”.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Inventing New Ways to Solve Old Problems
2018-05-24, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/24/business/inventing-new-ways-to-solve-old-p...

While many people wring their hands over the amount of plastic waste, Miranda Wang aims to reduce the mess. Ms. Wang, 24, is a co-founder and chief executive of BioCellection, a start-up that is tackling hard-to-recycle plastic packaging, focusing initially on plastic-film waste. Using a novel reaction system that employs a liquid chemical catalyst, BioCellection turns unrecyclable, contaminated film waste into chemicals that can be used by consumers and industry. Later this year, BioCellection will start a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area to build its first commercial machine, which can process five metric tons of waste a day. Many borrowers with poor credit scores ... can’t qualify for an affordable small loan. Jeff Zhou is offering an answer, in the form of Fig Loans. The lender’s goal is to offer an alternative to pricey payday loans that strapped consumers turn to when they have an unexpected financial emergency and have no other option. “We want to offer socially responsible financial products for people who are under banked,” he said. Customers can apply online for a loan from Fig, which makes lending decisions based on bank statements, taking into account expenses like rent, utilities and spending, Mr. Zhou said. Loans are $300 to $500 and, depending on the state, are repaid in four or six equal monthly installments — unlike payday loans, which typically must be repaid in two weeks.

Note: Read about more inventive solutions to common problems at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Parents' record-breaking Facebook fundraiser will help reunify migrant families
2018-06-21, NBC Today
https://www.today.com/parents/facebook-fundraiser-immigrant-kids-raises-9-mil...

A record-breaking fundraiser started by Dave and Charlotte Willner to help families separated at the border continues exceeding all expectations. While President Trump signed an executive order to halt his policy of breaking up families, the Willners said some of the $16 million raised will help a nonprofit to return children to their families. The additional money raised by the Willners will help Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) provide lawyers to immigrants as well as reunite families. The Willners said RAICES has unified three families already. The fundraiser first started after the Willners saw the photo of a 2-year-old Honduran girl crying at the border and they thought immediately of their own 2-year-old daughter. They felt they had to act so they started a fundraiser on Facebook, hoping to raise $1,500 for RAICES. It soon became clear this was no ordinary fundraiser. At one point, people were donating between $2,000 and $4,000 a minute, the family shared. The average donation is $38. As the fundraiser neared $5 million dollars, Facebook updated its platform so that the family could continue raising money. The Willners were among Facebook's first employees, and now both work at different tech companies in Silicon Valley. They raised more than $16 million in five days for the RAICES, and the Willners reset their goal to $20 million.

Note: The donations continue to pour in and now exceed $20 million. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A chemical breakthrough could eat the plastic pollution crisis
2018-07-01, Wired
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/plastic-pollution-environment-chemical-process

One single-use plastic bag takes at least 450 years to degrade. Give Miranda Wang three hours and she can reduce ten of them into liquid. Recycling plastic today is a mechanical process ... limited to only certain types of plastics: PET, used in water bottles, and HDPE, used in milk jugs. The five other types of commonly used plastics ... cannot be recycled. Adding to this is that most plastics thrown away are covered in food and grease and so are automatically rejected by markets with strict quality standards. These are the plastics Wang has her sights on. “Our technology can turn these dirty films that have food or dirt or any kind of grime or any kind of contamination on it and we turn this material into a combination of four different kinds of chemicals, called organic acids,” says Wang. One of these chemicals is adipic acid, a precursor for materials like nylon and polyamines used in fashion, for electronic parts and in the automotive industry for car parts. “Our vision is to transform a polyethylene, which right now does not have any downstream market value once its consumed and is used for one life cycle, and we turn it into a chemical that is of the same quality as what is immediately made from petroleum - adipic acid,” says Wang. “This first helps us not allow film plastics from becoming pollution and second ... displaces petroleum from being needed to be extracted to make new materials.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Google Bought Enough Clean Power for Whole Company and Then Some
2018-04-04, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-04/google-bought-enough-clean...

Google has more clean power than it needs. The Alphabet Inc. unit used about 7 terawatt-hours of electricity to run all of its global operations last year, and it sourced even more than that, according to Neha Palmer, its head of energy strategy. Corporate buyers are major purchasers of wind and solar power. While part of the motivation is to advance sustainability goals, they’re also finding that clean energy is often the cheapest electricity available. Big technology companies have been leading this trend, and Google has been the biggest of them all. “Our electric consumption is the largest part of our carbon footprint,” Palmer said in a phone interview. “The renewable-energy program we have is the best way to mitigate our carbon impact.” Companies signed long-term agreements for a record 5.4 gigawatts of clean capacity globally last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, up from 4.3 gigawatts in 2016. That’s enough to displace at least 10 coal-fired power plants. Google signed its first clean power-purchase agreement in 2010, and since then it’s arranged about 25 more, prompting more than $3 billion in new clean-power plants. Google has agreed to buy ... more than double that of Amazon.com Inc., the next biggest green consumer. “It’s a significant investment, leading to lots of new renewables projects,” Kyle Harrison, a New York-based analyst ... said. “It’s a long-term bet on clean energy, a hedge against wholesale prices.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Google cleared a path for companies to buy clean power
2018-07-02, Fast Company
https://www.fastcompany.com/40584636/how-google-is-clearing-a-path-for-compan...

In southeast Georgia, in an area filled with farms, construction will soon begin on a sprawling new 120-megawatt solar plant. It will be the first solar facility in the county, and it will exist in part because Google - which has a large data center in Georgia - is working to bring renewable electricity to every region in which it operates. The solar farm is one of two new projects in Georgia that will sell energy to Google via the local utility, and is also the latest example of the company’s work to open energy markets to corporations that want to support new sources of renewable electricity. The company pioneered the practice in 2010; now, companies from Nike to Starbucks and AT&T are doing the same thing. Traditionally, wind farms and solar farms sold wholesale power only to utilities, and regulations made it impossible for companies to buy that clean energy. But the company realized that it could apply to the federal government for the right to buy and sell wholesale power itself, and then create long-term contracts - called power purchase agreements - with the developers of renewable projects. The first project was a wind farm in Iowa. By 2017, with around 20 similar projects, Google met a longstanding goal to buy as much renewable energy as it uses globally, sourced from new wind and solar plants. Ultimately, the company wants to use clean energy everywhere it works, all the time. The next step in that process is to buy renewable energy on every local grid where Google works.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A Growing Drive to Get Homelessness to Zero
2018-06-05, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/05/opinion/homelessness-built-for-zero.html

Over the past three years, nine communities in the United States have reached a rigorous standard known as “functional zero” for either veteran or chronic homelessness - a standard that indicates that homelessness is rare and much briefer than in the past for their populations - and 37 others have accomplished measurable reductions toward that goal. What’s illuminating is how they’re doing it: by making whole systems smarter. They are linking in a national network ... to improve their performance. Rockford, Ill., was the first community in the United States to reach the functional zero level for veterans. “We get everybody in our community who works on the issue ... and we bring them into a room,” [said Jennifer Jaeger, the city’s community services director]. “So if we’re working on veterans, we’ll have the V.A., the local veteran agencies, mental health agencies and substance abuse agencies. We’ll sit down with the list and say: ‘O.K., John Smith is No. 1. Who’s working with him? How do we get him housed as fast as we can?’ And we go literally name by name. It makes a huge difference because they stop being ‘the homeless’ and become people we all know. And we become very vested in making sure John Smith is housed and safe and has the services he needs.” Successes get turned into mini case studies and are logged in Built for Zero’s menu of strategies. So if a community partner wants to know how to do effective street outreach or improve housing retention ... there’s an inventory of proven ideas to draw from.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Charitable giving is at a record high. Here’s where we’re donating our money
2018-06-12, USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2018/06/12/charity-charitable...

Charitable giving surged to a record high in 2017 as Americans gave more than $400 billion for the first time ever to a wide variety of organizations. Giving jumped 5.2% from last year to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, according to Giving USA 2018, the Giving USA Foundation’s annual report on philanthropy. The report, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, found that giving from all sources grew in 2017. Three of the four sources posted gains of more than 5%: Giving by corporations increased 8%, foundations 6% and individuals 5%. "The increase in giving in 2017 was generated in part by increases in the stock markets, as evidenced by the nearly 20% growth in the S&P 500," said Amir Pasic, dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Gifts to foundations saw the biggest increase in 2017, rising 15.5%, as large investment returns were the basis for several large gifts given by individual philanthropists to their foundations. The second-largest increase was an 8.7% jump in gifts to the arts, culture and humanities. Religious organizations, however, continue to receive the most charitable support, with contributions rising 2.9% to $127.37 billion. While the overall amount of giving by Americans has risen ... The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that from 2000 to 2014, the share of Americans donating to charity fell from 66.2% to 55.5%. Many nonprofits have turned their focus to attracting more big gifts.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language, has died
2018-06-21, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/21/health/koko-gorilla-death-trnd/index.html

Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language and showed the world what great apes can do, has died. She died Tuesday in her sleep at age 46. "Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy," the [The Gorilla Foundation] said. The western lowland gorilla was born at the San Francisco Zoo in 1971 and began to learn sign language early in life. Researchers moved her to Stanford in 1974 and established The Gorilla Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to preserve and protect gorillas. Koko and The Gorilla Foundation later moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains. She liked to read and be read to. She purred at parts of books she particularly enjoyed. She was very maternal toward kittens, and has had several throughout her lifetime. Her "tenderness" showed people how loving a gorilla can be, the foundation said. Koko made famous friends like Fred Rogers, who appeared on TV as Mr. Rogers, and Robin Williams. She used her sign language skills to communicate with them. She was said to have understood some 2,000 words of spoken English, and could usually keep up with conversations. Koko appeared in several documentaries and twice on the cover of National Geographic. The first cover featured a photo she'd taken of herself in a mirror. The foundation will continue its work on conservation and preservation of gorillas with continued projects, including a sign language application featuring Koko.

Note: Don't miss touching video of Koko the gorilla available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


From Many Corners, Journalism Seeking Solutions
2016-12-13, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/opinion/from-many-corners-journalism-seeki...

If you follow the news regularly - even if the stories you see are factual - you’re likely to overestimate the amount of violence in the world, underrate the performance of the government, and develop an unduly low opinion of the average American. For every problem you see reported in the news, there are almost always people responding - and some are doing pretty smart things. One encouraging pattern visible across the country is a gradual shift from reflexive punishment, which is usually counterproductive ... to harm reduction and treatment. This theme is explored in “Chasing Heroin,” a two-hour PBS Frontline documentary ... which illuminates the country’s heroin crisis. The film explains the public policies that shaped the crisis and reports on some alternatives to punishment, including drug courts, and a promising initiative in Seattle, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, which ... has been shown to markedly reduce criminality among addicts. The shift away from punishment can also be seen in schools, as they reduce the use of suspensions as the go-to discipline option, and turn to “restorative justice” practices, which have been shown to improve school cultures and improve graduation rates. The shift from punishment to treatment is supported by emerging insights from psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics. “The Crisis Within,” a four-part series ... explain how such “toxic stress” harms children, and explore ways that parents, educators and others can protect them.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The good news is … people like to read good news
2018-02-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/12/but-first-here-is-the-good-news-

Strange thing happens when you write about something going right. People take notice. They read to the end. They share it with their friends. They write to thank you. Eighteen months ago, the Guardian launched a pilot project to see how readers would respond if we deliberately sought out the good things happening in the world. More than 150 pieces of journalism later – in which we have examined the relative merits of everything from dog turds to ketamine, the blockchain to microhouses, and gardening to exoskeletons – we have proof of concept. Reader numbers for this kind of journalism have proven remarkably robust throughout the project. While audiences have always been riveted by bad news (it serves as both an early warning system and a reassurance about the comfort of their own lives), they are tired of the avalanche of awfulness. They are switching off. If people just shrug at news because they feel there is little they can do, nothing will change. Journalists in the US, Europe and the UK are waking up to this by publishing what is variously described as constructive journalism, solutions journalism or, somewhat misleadingly, positive news. Now the Guardian is deepening its commitment to this type of work. Our new series, The Upside, launched this week with [a] determination to show readers all of humanity, not just the bad bits. As our editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, promised in a speech ... recently, “we will develop ideas that help improve the world, not just critique it.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Marc Benioff of Salesforce: ‘Are We Not All Connected?’
2018-06-15, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/business/marc-benioff-salesforce-corner-of...

Salesforce may not be a household name like Facebook or Twitter, but the software company and its chief executive, Marc Benioff, are hugely influential. Salesforce is worth roughly $100 billion, and Mr. Benioff is a billionaire many times over. Success has emboldened him. A fan of Buddhism, Mr. Benioff has installed meditation rooms throughout Salesforce offices and emerged as an outspoken voice on social issues including L.G.B.T.Q. rights, the gender pay gap and the deleterious effects of social media. "There’s a shift going on," [said Benioff]. "When I went to U.S.C., it was all about maximizing value for shareholders. But we’re moving into a world of stakeholders. It’s not just about shareholders. Your employees are stakeholders, so are your customers, your partners, the communities that you’re in, the homeless that are nearby, your public schools. A company like ours can’t be successful in an unsuccessful economy or in an unsuccessful environment or where the school system doesn’t work. We have to take responsibility for all of those things." This idea that somebody put into our heads — that companies are somehow these kind of individuated units that are separate from society and don’t have to be paying attention to the communities they’re in — that is incorrect. We need to have a more enlightened view about the role of companies. This company is not somehow separate from everything else. Are we not all connected? Are we not all one? Isn’t that the point?"

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How big brands are trying to pull off a recycling revolution
2018-06-11, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/11/news/companies/recycling-revolution/

Coca-Cola said in January that by 2030, it will collect and recycle one bottle or can for each one it sells. Dunkin' Donuts said it will try to stop using foam cups by 2020. Several others, including McDonald's and Procter & Gamble, have made their own ambitious commitments to use sustainable packaging. Recycling can give companies better control over their supply chains, explained Bridget Croke, who leads external affairs for Closed Loop Partners, which invests in recycling technologies. Recycled materials aren't always cheaper than raw materials, she said, but their prices are consistent. There are other advantages to going green. Kevin Wilhelm, who runs a sustainability consulting firm, said that companies typically make recycling pledges because they've found that waste hurts their bottom line. The Closed Loop Fund and the Recycling Partnership, [a nonprofit group], count several major corporations as their funding partners, including Amazon, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Target, Walmart (WMT) and others. Croke said that at this stage, companies are better served by joining forces than by trying to work separately. "Smart companies," she said, are trying to figure out, "'What are the disruptive collective actions we can take to make the most out of our resources?'" Working together, companies can pour significant funds into development projects and create collective demand for sustainable products, like recyclable, compostable paper cups.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


McDonald's to scrap plastic straws in UK and Ireland
2018-06-15, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/15/news/mcdonalds-plastic-straws/index.html

McDonald's has joined the fight against plastic pollution by switching to paper straws at its restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The change, which will begin to take effect in September, follows trials of paper straws at select locations. The US fast food chain said a majority of its customers supported the move away from plastic. McDonald's ... uses 1.8 million straws each day at its 1,361 restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The company said the changeover would be complete in 2019. Plastic straws are the sixth most common type of litter globally. Only 1% are recycled. According to the UK government, 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die every year from eating or getting tangled in plastic waste. And research shows there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world's oceans by 2050. UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove called on other companies to follow the example of McDonald's. "McDonald's has made a significant investment in UK manufacturing to produce an alternative to plastic, showing British businesses are taking a global lead," he said in a statement. The flurry of commitments comes as efforts to eliminate single-use plastic intensify. The European Union moved last month to ban 10 items - including plastic cutlery, straws and cotton swabs - by 2030 in a bid to clean up the oceans.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


World's Oldest Yoga Teacher Shares Her Tips for a Long, Happy Life
2018-05-22, People
https://people.com/health/tao-porchon-lynch-oldest-yoga-teacher-shares-her-be...

Tao Porchon-Lynch is 99 years old, and she’s still practices – and teaches! – yoga regularly. So what’s her secret to staying happy and active? “Every morning I wake up and say this is going to be the best day of my life – and it is,” Porchon-Lynch tells Well and Good. “My life is my meditation.” Porchon-Lynch abides by three simple tips to stay upbeat. The first is to not get fixated on bad things that may or may not happen. “Your mind gets in the way. It plagues you with all of the things that can go wrong,” she says. “I don’t let it get in my way.” Secondly, she says to stop judging others. “Don’t look down on anyone,” she says. “Know that you can learn from everyone.” Finally, Porchon-Lynch says to begin each day feeling happy. “Wake up with a smile on your face!” Porchon-Lynch has been practicing yoga for over 70 years, and has been teaching it for 45. She encourages people of all ages to try yoga, and says it’s never too late to start. “Don’t give up and think, ‘I’ve done it. Now I can sit back,’ ” she [said]. “You haven’t seen enough of this earth and there is a lot more to see that is beautiful.“

Note: For more on this amazing woman, see this Newsweek article.


Shell's Starship Initiative semi truck looks crazy, is crazy efficient
2018-06-06, Cnet.com
https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/shell-starship-initiative-semi-truck-coast...

Would it sound weird if we told you that Shell (yes, the petrochemical company) is building a starship? Probably. It would probably be less weird if we said that the Starship was actually a hyper-efficient bespoke semi truck that just did a coast-to-coast run from San Diego, California, to Jacksonville, Florida. To build the Starship, Shell teamed up with the AirFlow truck company to ruthlessly apply all of the best aerodynamic tricks and materials science hacks to the design of the truck in search of something more important to big trucks than simple miles-per-gallon: ton-miles per gallon. A truck's ton-miles per gallon figure compares the vehicle's fuel efficiency with the amount of cargo being carried since that dramatically affects how hard a diesel engine has to work. A typical long-haul diesel truck will weigh around 57,000 pounds, including a cargo load of 22,500 pounds. The Starship gross vehicle weight was right around 73,000 pounds, 39,900 pounds of which was cargo, despite that, the Starship averaged 8.94 miles per gallon versus a typical truck's average of 6.4 miles per gallon. The Starship's best mileage was just over 10 miles per gallon. Over the course of a million miles, the Starship would save over 44,000 gallons of diesel fuel versus a standard truck. That's a little more than 4,000 barrels of oil or 168,000 gallons of crude saved by one truck.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Ali Banat: the man with the Gift of Cancer
2018-05-31, Daily Times
https://dailytimes.com.pk/247087/ali-banat-the-man-with-the-gift-of-cancer/

Ali Banat, an Australian based charity worker, social activist, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and founder of the MATW (Muslims Around The World) Project passed away on Tuesday, May 30, 2018. His story resonated with the millions of people who came to know of him after his ‘Gifted With Cancer’ video went viral. His diagnosis of fourth stage Testicular cancer ... completely changed his life, and he decided to donate all his wealth in charity to Muslims Around the World. As he showed off, in the viral video, his huge bedroom lined with Louis Vuitton shoes ... along with a bracelet that cost him $60,000, with one of his cars which included a Ferrari Spider worth $600,000, one could see that ever since he got sick, none of it meant anything to him. Banat was told by the doctors that he had seven months to live, but instead, he lived for another blessed three years. In all this time, he was only dedicated to doing good as he donated his wealth and money to thousands of people across a number of countries including Togo, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. To make sure that his organisation, MATW, was run in good hands, Ali visited ... to see that 100% of the donations would go into the project and not be divided with administrative fees. With the money collected, MATW aimed at building villages for over 200 widows, a mosque, a school that would house 600 orphans, a mini-hospital/medical centre, as well as businesses to support the local community.

Note: Watch a moving interview at the link above showing how his life was totally changed in a positive way by cancer. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Latina Bodybuilder Is 71: 'We Should Never Give Up on Ourselves'
2017-07-24, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/latina-bodybuilder-71-we-should-never-giv...

Josefina Monasterio, 71, is glad she didn't think about her age when she took up bodybuilding at age 59. "I would have missed out on the past 12 years of fun and success,” said the former educator, competitive athlete and author, who recently returned from the NPC Southern States Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “I took second place this year, and I´m not used to that. I'm used to winning!” said Monasterio, whose enthusiasm is contagious. Dr. Josefina, as she likes to be called, was inducted in the NPC Southern States Hall of Fame in 2005 and then [won] for three years in a row starting in 2014. The Vero Beach, Florida resident recently published a book, Vibrant at Any Age, based on her lifelong journey of self-improvement. She hopes to inspire people to achieve their goals just as she has. “I reinvent myself every ten years, and so I started my 60s as a bodybuilder and now I begin my 70s as a writer,” she said. “I don´t impose limitations on myself. People limit themselves by age, nationality, gender, it's very frustrating. Age is a mindset.” Dr. Josefina´s war on ageism has rubbed off on her two daughters, both in their early thirties. “They both take care of their bodies and minds. They´re very proud of me now and brag about me. If you give them a good foundation as a parent, know that they will always come back to their roots.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Google to drop Pentagon AI contract after employee objections to the ‘business of war’
2018-06-01, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/06/01/google-to-drop-p...

Google will not seek to extend its contract next year with the Defense Department for artificial intelligence used to analyze drone video, squashing a controversial alliance that had raised alarms over the technological buildup between Silicon Valley and the military. Google ... has faced widespread public backlash and employee resignations for helping develop technological tools that could aid in warfighting. Google will soon release new company principles related to the ethical uses of AI. Thousands of Google employees wrote chief executive Sundar Pichai an open letter urging the company to cancel the contract, and many others signed a petition saying the company’s assistance in developing combat-zone technology directly countered the company’s famous “Don’t be evil” motto. Several Google AI employees had told The Post they believed they wielded a powerful influence over the company’s decision-making. The advanced technology’s top researchers and developers are in heavy demand, and many had organized resistance campaigns or threatened to leave. The sudden announcement Friday was welcomed by several high-profile employees. Meredith Whittaker, an AI researcher and the founder of Google’s Open Research group, tweeted Friday: “I am incredibly happy about this decision, and have a deep respect for the many people who worked and risked to make it happen. Google should not be in the business of war.”

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California City Fights Poverty With Guaranteed Income
2018-06-04, New York Times/Reuters
https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/06/04/us/04reuters-california-income.html

Michael Tubbs, the 27-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, has a radical plan to combat poverty in his cash-strapped city: a "no strings" guaranteed basic income of $500 a month for its residents. Starting in early 2019, Tubbs plans to provide the monthly stipend to a select group of residents as part of a privately funded 18-month experiment to assess how people use the money. "And then, maybe, in two or three years, we can have a much more informed discussion about the social safety net, the income floor people deserve and the best way to do it, because we'll have more data and research," Tubbs told Reuters. The idea of governments providing a universal basic income to their citizens has been gaining traction globally. The Finnish government is running a two-year trial to provide 2,000 unemployed people with monthly payments of approximately $660. In Alaska, each resident has long received an annual dividend check from oil revenues from the Alaska Permanent Fund, which Tubbs said is a model for his approach. For 31-year-old Shay Holliman ... an extra $500 a month would just allow her to make ends meet. She ... works a 9-5 job at a local nonprofit then drives for Uber and Lyft in the evenings and at weekends. "I still can't pay all my bills," she said. Tubbs says he "felt almost a moral responsibility" to do something "a little bit out the box" for his city. "And I know, for me, I want to live in a community where people's basic needs are met," he said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Florida brewery introduces biodegradable, edible six-pack rings
2018-05-31, CBS (Local Utah affiliate)
http://kutv.com/news/nation-world/florida-brewery-introduces-biodegradable-ed...

A microbrewery in Delray Beach, Florida has devised a crafty solution to plastic six-pack rings that often wreak havoc on marine wildlife. After years of research and development, Saltwater Brewery has introduced six-pack rings made of wheat and barley. The brewery developed the rings with a start-up company called E6PR. Whereas plastic rings can become tangled in the wings of sea birds, warp the shells of growing sea turtles and choke seals, Saltwater Brewery's new rings are not only biodegradable but also perfectly edible. "E6PR hopes other breweries - both small and large - will buy into the new rings and help bring costs down," Nola.com reports. The Louisiana State University (LSU) reports that the Gulf of Mexico has one of the highest concentrations of marine plastic in the world. Every net that LSU dipped into the Gulf's water came up with some form of plastic. "We found it every time," LSU's Mark Benfield [said]. E6PR is testing the edible rings with "a select group of craft breweries," but the company is not yet ready to discuss specifics.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A debate over plant consciousness is forcing us to confront the limitations of the human mind
2018-06-03, Quartz
https://qz.com/1294941/a-debate-over-plant-consciousness-is-forcing-us-to-con...

A debate over plant consciousness and intelligence has raged in scientific circles for well over a century - at least since Charles Darwin observed in 1880 that stressed-out flora can’t rest. Biologists believe that plants communicate with one another, fungi, and animals by releasing chemicals via their roots, branches, and leaves. Plants also send seeds that supply information, working as data packets. They even sustain weak members of their own species by providing nutrients to their peers. They also have memories, and can learn from experience. But does any of this qualify as consciousness? The answer to that question seems to depend largely on ... how humans choose to define our conceptions of the self and intelligence. We believe that our experience of life is what defines consciousness. But there is some evidence that other modes of existence are equally complex, which suggests that other living things have arguably intelligent or conscious experiences. Evolutionary ecologist Monica Gagliano insists that plants are intelligent, and she’s not speaking metaphorically. “My work is not about metaphors at all,” Gagliano tells Forbes. Gagliano’s behavioral experiments on plants suggest that - while plants don’t have a central nervous system or a brain - they behave like intelligent beings. Expanding definitions of consciousness and intelligence could mean admitting we’ve been limited in our worldview. What if everything around us is intelligent in its own way, and we’re just not smart enough to see it?

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A Lesson in Kindness Finds New Life on Internet
1999-02-07, Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
http://articles.latimes.com/1999/feb/07/news/mn-5664

Sister Mrosla [taught] junior high. She and Mark met ... in eighth-grade math class. One Friday after a tough week of algebra, she sensed that her students were struggling. She told them [to] pull out a sheet of paper. On every other line, she said, write the name of each student in class and next to the name write a kind word - a sincere compliment. That weekend she compiled the lists for each student on yellow legal-size paper, adding her own compliment at the end. She handed the papers back during the next class. On Mark's paper, among other simple compliments, somebody had written, "A great friend." On Judy Holmes Swanson's list, someone noted that she "smiles all the time." "No one ever said anything about the exercise after that class period," Sister Mrosla wrote. "It didn't matter. The exercise accomplished what I hoped it would - the students were happy with themselves and one another again." Years passed. Mark was killed in Vietnam. At Mark's funeral, [his parents] were waiting for the nun. "We want to show you something. They found this on Mark when he was killed," [James Eklund] said, gently taking out a worn piece of paper that had been refolded many times. "I knew without looking at the writing," Sister Mrosla wrote, "that the papers were the ones I had listed all of the good things each of his classmates had said about Mark." A few of Mark's school friends who were gathered around also recognized the paper, and one by one they told her they still had theirs.

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Tiny turbine that fits on your DESK runs on carbon dioxide - and it can produce enough energy to power a small town
2016-04-12, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3535461/Tiny-turbine-fits-DESK...

Engineers have developed a turbine which has the potential to power a small town all the while being no bigger than your office desk. Designed by GE Global Research, the turbine could power 10,000 homes and according to researchers, could help to solve some of the world's growing energy challenges. But rather than steam, which is typically used to set turbines in motion, the new turbine uses carbon dioxide. 'This compact machine will allow us to do amazing things,' said Doug Hofer, lead engineer on the project. According to MIT Tech Review, the turbine is driven by 'supercritical carbon dioxide', which is kept under high pressure at temperatures of 700˚C. Under these conditions, the carbon dioxide enters a physical state between a gas and a liquid, enabling the turbine to harness its energy for super-efficient power generation - with the turbines transferring 50 per cent of the heat into electricity. It could help energy firms take waste gas and repurpose it for efficient and cleaner energy production. Waste heat produced from other power generation methods, such as solar or nuclear, could be used to melt salts, with the molten salts used to the carbon dioxide gas to a super-critical liquid - which may be much quicker than heating water for steam. Currently, the design of the turbine would enable up to 10,000 kilowatts of energy to be produced, but the turbines could be scaled up to generate 500 megawatts, enough to power a city.

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Why this Thai businessman was named a ‘biodiversity hero’
2018-04-04, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2018/0404/Why-this-Thai-b...

Now and again you can find Nonn Panitvong floating facedown in rivers and lakes. Peering intently into the murky waters through his snorkeling mask, the Thai taxonomist is there to observe the behaviors of various freshwater fish species. At other times you can find him in limestone caves. With a flashlight in hand or strapped to his helmet, he scouts around for rare species of karst-dwelling geckos. He looks ... like a businessman, which is what he is: Nonn runs his family’s sugar-cane mill conglomerate. Yet he’s also among Thailand’s most intrepid naturalists. Recognized as a “biodiversity hero” by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ... Nonn has been a relentless popularizer of his homeland’s rich biodiversity, partly through his Siamensis.org website. A comprehensive database with some 20,000 members, the site has nurtured a form of crowdsourced ecology. It allows Thai nature lovers from all walks of life to pool their knowledge about often overlooked species, from snakes to dragonflies. Via social media Nonn has been inviting lay nature lovers and trained biologists alike to act as volunteer nature-watchers for neglected areas. The members of his platforms are also keeping an eye on the spread of invasive species. “We want to generate and spread knowledge,” Nonn says. “One of our main themes is ‘If you don’t know it, you won’t love it.’ In the end, people will conserve only what they value and love.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Do We Find Meaning in Life?
2017-11-17, Time
http://time.com/3584646/find-meaning-in-life/

Your mind may require meaning. Studies show it’s one of the key factors underlying happiness and motivation. So what is meaning in life and what does research say about how we might be able to find it? Some research indicates that to have meaning in your life you must have a story. You need to reflect on how things could have been and why they turned out the way they did. Seeing that things had a direction and a purpose provides meaning. Fundamentally, our brains may not be able to tell the difference between the real and the story. What’s even more interesting is the truth may not matter. Feeling that you know yourself creates a strong sense of meaning in life — whether or not you actually know yourself doesn’t make a difference. That may seem depressing but it also means that you can craft the stories in your life to build meaning and fulfillment. Timothy Wilson, author of Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change, has talked about how the process of “story-editing” can help us improve our lives: The “do good, be good” method ... capitalizes on the tried-and-true psychological principle that our attitudes and beliefs often follow from our behaviors, rather than precede them. As Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.“ People who do volunteer work, for example, often change their narratives of who they are, coming to view themselves as caring, helpful people.

Note: Explore a concise, excellent guide to finding life purpose and intentions. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The amazing healing powers Charlie Goldsmith has kept secret for 17 years
2015-10-05, Daily Telegraph (One of the Australia's leading newspapers)
https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/sydney-confidential/charlie-g...

It is claimed Charlie Goldsmith has healed people with powers no one quite understands. That’s why he’s seeking help from medical researchers and scientists to investigate what has been described as his “healing gift”. Goldsmith ... doesn’t charge fees for his treatment that he can do over the phone, on the internet or in person. He earns a living running [a] communications agency. Goldsmith was the subject of a study at New York’s NYU Lutheran Hospital, the results of which recently appeared in [the] international Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine. Over three weeks, Goldsmith treated 50 different patients with a 76 per cent success rate of pain related conditions and 79 per cent of conditions other than pain with “marked improvement” and the results were often immediate. Patient illnesses varied from kidney stones to urinary tract infections and allergies. Goldsmith’s intention is to expose his work to multiple scientific studies, which will ultimately include a double blind controlled trial that directly tests outcomes. New York Lutheran Hospital doctor Ramsey Joudeh was involved in the first study and labelled Goldsmith’s healing as a “miracle”. “At first I thought his gift was something we could do at least to give patients a piece of mind and comfort,” [he said] “When I saw Charlie work, it really changed my belief and thoughts on the entire process from maybe something that could augment to something that could in and of itself heal.”

Note: See this miracle worker's website at https://www.charliegoldsmith.com.


After ninth ascent of Mount Everest, Lhakpa Sherpa wants to inspire other women
2018-05-23, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/ct-spt-lhakpa-sherpa-mount-ever...

The most successful female Everest climber said after finishing her ninth ascent of the world's highest mountain that she wants to inspire all women so they too can achieve their dreams. Lhakpa Sherpa was guiding some 50 climbers with her brother when she scaled the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak last week, breaking her own record for the most climbs of Mount Everest by a woman. "If an uneducated woman who is a single mother can climb Everest nine times, any woman can achieve their dreams," Sherpa said. "I want be an inspiration to all the women in the world that they too can achieve their goal," she said. The 44-year-old Sherpa never got a chance for formal education because she was already working carrying climbing gear and supplies for the trekkers. She plans to climb the mountain again next year. Her recent climb was the toughest of the nine, she said, adding there was a lot of wind and snow. This successful expedition is likely to help her brother Mingma's mountaineering company grow. It would also mean that Lhakpa can continue to climb Everest. She says she is also looking forward to seeing her three children back in Connecticut, where she works as a dishwasher at the Whole Foods Market in West Hartford. At [a] ceremony in Kathmandu, [the] tourism community honored her and and the overall record-holder for successful Everest climbs, Kami Rita, who has reached the summit 22 times, for their achievement.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Costa Rica to ban fossil fuels and become world's first decarbonised society
2018-05-10, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/costa-rica-fossil-fuels-ban-preside...

Costa Rica’s new president has announced a plan to ban fossil fuels and become the first fully decarbonised country in the world. Carlos Alvarado, a 38-year-old former journalist, made the announcement ... during his inauguration. "Decarbonisation is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first," Mr Alvarado said. Symbolically, the president arrived at the ceremony in San Jose aboard a hydrogen-fuelled bus. Last month, Mr Alvarado said the Central American country would begin to implement a plan to end fossil fuel use in transport by 2021 – the 200th year of Costa Rican independence. "When we reach 200 years of independent life we will take Costa Rica forward and celebrate ... that we've removed gasoline and diesel from our transportation,” he promised during a victory speech. Costa Rica already generates more than 99 per cent of its electricity using renewable energy sources. Costa Rica’s push towards clean energy faces no large-scale backlash, in part because the country has no significant oil or gas industry. But demand for cars is rising, as is use of other transport systems, and that may prove one of the biggest challenges in meeting the new goal. Transport is today the country’s main source of climate changing emissions.

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California becomes first state to require solar panels on new homes
2018-05-09, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/california-becomes-first-state-require-s...

Solar panels will be a required feature on virtually every new home built in California, under a policy advanced Wednesday by California regulators. The California Energy Commission voted unanimously, 5-0, to recommend energy efficiency standards that are set to be added to state building regulations later this year, effecting all construction after Jan. 1, 2020. The rules will make California the first state in the nation to require solar panels on new homes. "This will be nothing short of historic for our state and for our country," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar & Storage Association, an industry group. The requirement will apply to single-family homes and to apartment and condominium complexes of three stories or less. Solar installations have become so cost effective that they are included in more than 15,000 homes built each year in California, even without the directive from the state. In 2020 and beyond that number promises to increase to 80,000, the number of homes built each year in the Golden State. The average estimated cost of a solar system is $9,500, or $40 a month when amortized over a 30-year mortgage. But the systems are projected to save customers an average of $80 a month on their utility bills. Another part of the new regulation ... gives energy credit to homes that employ battery storage technology.

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Florida Set To Launch Country's First Private High-Speed Train Service
2017-12-07, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2017/12/07/569183423/florida-set-to-launch-countrys-first...

The country's first private high-speed rail service is opening this month in Florida, promising to transform congested South Florida highways by taking as many as 3 million cars off the road. The ambitious $3 billion Brightline express project will run along the state's densest population corridor with more than 6 million residents and a regular influx of tourists. The project, funded by All Aboard Florida, represents the first test into the long-awaited U.S. move into high-speed rail, says John Renne, director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions at Florida Atlantic University. All Aboard Florida secured state approval in October to sell bonds to fund the project. The company has said no public money will be used. Renne says the trip from West Palm to Miami, which can take up to five hours round trip in a car, will take about 60 minutes each way on the train. Brightline trains will have their own dedicated set of tracks, built alongside 19th century lines that still carry cargo trains. The return to passenger trains will revive a line that stopped running on those old tracks in the 1960s, with the arrival of the federal highway program. "The federal highway system expanded ... and everyone got off trains and into cars," John Guitar of All Aboard Florida [said]. "And we've done a full circle now that the traffic and congestion and gas prices are so bad, people are looking for alternatives to get out of their cars and find other ways to get around the state."

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Plants use underground communication to learn when neighbours are stressed
2018-05-02, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/plants-underground-communication-c...

Plants use an underground communication network to exchange chemical warnings, according to a new study. Work by a team of biologists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has provided new insights into the complex subterranean life of seemingly immobile corn plants. The work adds to a body of research exploring the chemical pathways that plants use to “talk” to each other. “Our study demonstrated that ... above ground mechanical contact between plants can affect below ground interactions, acting as cues in prediction of the future competitors,” said Dr Velemir Ninkovic, lead author of the study. [Plant] signaling both within their bodies and with neighbors consists of the relatively slow exchange of chemical messages. Some of this communication takes place via strands of underground fungi that plants use to share food, warning signals and even toxic chemicals – a phenomenon that some biologists have informally termed the “wood-wide web”. The study by Dr Ninkovic and his colleagues ... found that the fresh seedlings responded [to stresses] by growing more leaves and fewer roots than plants that had grown under normal conditions. [The Results] suggested that the corn seedlings, upon being exposed to the chemical signals of recently touched plants in the soil, were responding by preparing themselves for the trouble ahead posed by new neighbors or becoming something’s dinner.

Note: Read the New York Times review of a mind and heart expanding new novel about the secret life of trees. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


These Towns Are Trying Out A Basic-Income Scheme And It’s Already Changing Lives
2018-05-06, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ontario-basic-income_us_5aeac0e0e4b06748...

Sherry Mendowegan has accomplished a lot in the past six months. The mother of two bought her first car and graduated with her high school diploma. “Next is my college, post-secondary, and then hopefully I get some work,” she says. Going to college would have been out of reach for the 41-year-old just last year. But as a participant in the basic income pilot program launched by the Canadian province of Ontario, she and her husband, Dan, can now afford the tuition fees. “Our life has changed,” Mendowegan says. “We’re not struggling.” Ontario’s basic income program, launched in April 2017, is currently operating in three towns ― Thunder Bay, Lindsay and Hamilton. The scheme has enrolled more than 4,000 low-income people living on less than CA$34,000 ($29,500) individually. This includes those who are working, in school or living on financial assistance. For three years, single participants will receive up to CA$17,000 a year and couples will receive up to CA$24,000. Those earning any money will see their basic income amounts reduced by 50 cents for every dollar they make. Universal basic income, or the idea of giving people money without any conditions, is not new. But it is gaining fresh momentum globally as inequality worsens and swaths of jobs are at risk from automation and other factors. Ontario joins a handful of other places in the world to test out some sort of guaranteed basic income.

Note: In the US, Stockton, California recently announced plans to provide residents with a Universal Basic Income. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Want kids to listen more, fidget less? Try more recess... this school did
2016-08-24, Today.com
https://www.today.com/parents/want-kids-listen-more-fidget-less-try-more-rece...

Four times a day, the doors of Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas, fling open to let bouncy, bubbly, excited kindergarteners and first-graders pounce onto the playground. The youngest kids at this school now enjoy ... three more breaks than they used to get. Students are less fidgety and more focused. They listen more attentively, follow directions and try to solve problems on their own. There are fewer discipline issues. “We’re seeing really good results,” [noted Donna McBride, a first-grade teacher]. Eagle Mountain Elementary is ... trying out LiiNK, a new program that boosts the amount of recess for the youngest students. “It gives the platform for them to be able to function at their best level,” said Debbie Rhea, a kinesiology professor ... who created the project. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, calling recess “a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.” LiiNK was inspired by Finland’s education system, which produces students who get some of the best scores in the world for reading, math and science. Finnish kids [enjoy] 15 minutes of “unstructured outdoor play” every hour. Children in the U.S., on the other hand, might get one 15-minute recess a day. “That’s not enough for kids. They’re not built that way,” Rhea said. “[Recess] reboots the system so that when they go back in, they’re ready to learn.” They key is “unstructured play,” which Rhea described as kids being allowed to run, play and make up their own games.

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The Hemisphere's Biggest Solar Plant Is in Mexico, Not the U.S.
2018-05-06, TruthDig
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-hugest-solar-plant-in-the-new-world-is-...

Mexico wants to produce 43% of its electricity from renewables by 2024, in only 6 years. Toward that end, in December it opened the Villanueva solar farm in the desert, with 2.3 million solar panels, generating enough juice to power 1.3 million homes. It is the largest solar project in the Western hemisphere. That’s right. The largest solar installation in the New World is not in the United States. It is in Mexico. In the first quarter of 2018, India set a record with the addition of 4.6 gigawatts of solar! That’s the name plate capacity of four small nuclear reactors, added in just one quarter. By the end of January India had 20 gigawatts of installed solar power capacity. In contrast, France only has 8 gigawatts of installed solar capacity. Dubai will tender a bid before the end of this year for a 300 megawatt solar farm, as part of its plan to get 7% of its electricity from solar by 2020. Since Dubai is one of seven emirates making up the United Arab Emirates, a major oil exporter, this push for renewables may ... seem hard to explain. But look more closely. Dubai does not have its own hydrocarbons and is rather a service economy. So ... it is highly beneficial for Dubai to get its electricity from solar, the fuel of which is free down the line once installment costs are paid off. The UAE gets enormous amounts of sunshine and bids have been let there for as little as 2.5 cents a kilowatt hour, which is world-beating. Coal, one of the cheapest hydrocarbons, is typically 5 cents a kilowatt hour.

Note: Watch a promotional video for the massive Villanueva solar farm in Mexico.


Going to School for Empathy
2017-12-20, US News and World Report
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2017-12-20/canadian-class...

In a Toronto classroom, a group of 10-year-olds sit in a circle around a green felt blanket cheering on a baby as he tries to roll over. The baby's classroom visit is part of a program designed in Canada to foster empathy among children and, in the process, reduce aggression and bullying. Founded in 1996 by Canadian educator Mary Gordon, the program, Roots of Empathy, has found receptive audiences at home and abroad. In an age of polarized politics in many democracies, where social media often is seen more as a tool of cyberbullying than a bridge to increased understanding, Roots of Empathy has expanded to the U.S. and in Western Europe by using a 20th-century technique: face-to-face interactions. "The students learn that each person has a particular disposition, that there are differences between individuals - but that we all share the same menu of feelings," Gordon says. In 2001, the government of Manitoba commissioned a three-year follow-up study of Roots of Empathy, measuring positive social behavior, physical aggression, and indirect aggression. The results showed an improvement in all three areas immediately after the program and three years later. Studies commissioned by the University of Missouri and the University of Toronto had similar findings. The program has expanded from Canada, where it is delivered in English and French, to the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland ... Costa Rica, [and the] the U.S..

Note: Read an interview with the founder of this great program.


Tennessee makes community college free for all adults
2017-05-11, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/11/pf/college/tennessee-free-community-college/i...

Tennessee is about to become the first state in the nation to make community college free for all adults. Lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday that will expand the Tennessee Promise program that launched in 2014. It made tuition and fees free for recent high school graduates enrolled in a community college or technical school. Now, adults who don't already have an associate's or bachelor's degree can go for free, too, starting in the 2018 fall semester. Governor Bill Haslam is expected to sign the bill into law. He proposed the legislation in his State of the State address earlier this year. It's a cornerstone of his initiative to increase the number of residents with a college education to 55% by 2025. Last year, less than 39% of residents had gone to college. "If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans, we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs, and there is no smarter investment than increasing access to high-quality education," Haslam said in a statement. To be eligible, students must have been a state resident for at least a year before applying, maintain a 2.0 GPA, enroll in enough classes to be a part-time student, and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Expanding the free-tuition program will cost about $10 million. It will be funded by the state's lottery account. More than 33,000 students have benefited from the Tennessee Promise program in its first two years, raising enrollment among first-time freshmen by 30%.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


India says all villages have electricity
2018-04-30, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-43946049

All villages in India now have access to electricity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced. This was achieved on Saturday when a remote village in the north-eastern state of Manipur became the last to be connected to the grid. A village is considered electrified if 10% of its homes and all public buildings are connected to the grid. World Bank figures show around 200 million people in India still lack access to electricity. Mr Modi said all of nearly 600,000 villages in India have now been given electricity connection. In August 2015, Mr Modi launched a $2.5bn (Ł1.8bn) scheme to electrify all Indian households by December 2018. As part of this scheme, all 597,464 inhabited villages in the country and more than five million households have been connected to the grid. Remote and inaccessible villages have always proved to be a major challenge in the country's electrification drive. Though most Indian villages have some electrical connection today, connecting the last remote households in the surrounding areas can be expensive. Some people may also forgo accessing electricity by choice because of the monthly bills that come with it, especially if power supply is not reliable and blackouts are frequent.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Solar Power Investment Outstripped Coal, Gas And Nuclear Combined In 2017
2018-04-09, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikescott/2018/04/09/solar-power-investment-outs...

More money was invested in solar power in 2017 than in coal, gas and nuclear power combined, according to a new report for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report says that global investment in solar rose 18% to $160.8 billion, driven by the Chinese market, which was responsible for more than half of the world’s 98GW of new solar capacity. Solar power made up 57% of last year’s total for all renewables (excluding large hydro) of $279.8 billion, and it towered above new investment in coal and gas generation capacity, at an estimated $103 billion. Last year was the eighth in a row in which global investment in renewables, excluding large hydropower, exceeded $200 billion. The $2.7 trillion invested in clean energy from 2007 to 2017 have increased the proportion of electricity generated by wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, marine and small hydro globally to more than 12%, from 5.2% in 2007 ... and has avoided the emission of about 1.8 gigatonnes of CO2, about the same as is emitted by the entire US transportation system. UN Environment head Erik Solheim said that “the extraordinary surge in solar investment shows how the global energy map is changing and, more importantly, what the economic benefits are of such a shift. Investments in renewables bring more people into the economy, they deliver more jobs, better quality jobs and better paid jobs. Clean energy also means less pollution, which means healthier, happier development.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Autism Breakthrough: Girl's Writings Explain Her Behavior and Feelings
2008-02-19, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4311223&page=1

Carly Fleischmann has severe autism and is unable to speak a word. But ... this 13-year-old has made a remarkable breakthrough. Two years ago, working with pictures and symbols on a computer keyboard, she started typing and spelling out words. The computer became her voice. "All of a sudden these words started to pour out of her, and it was an exciting moment because we didn't realize she had all these words," said speech pathologist Barbara Nash. Then Carly began opening up, describing what it was like to have autism. Carly writes about her frustrations with her siblings, how she understands their jokes and asks when can she go on a date. "We were stunned," Carly's father Arthur Fleischmann said. "We realized inside was an articulate, intelligent, emotive person that we had never met. This ... opened up a whole new way of looking at her." This is what Carly wants people to know about autism. "It is hard to be autistic because no one understands me. People look at me and assume I am dumb because I can't talk or I act differently than them. I think people get scared with things that look or seem different than them." Carly had another message for people who don't understand autism. "Autism is hard because you want to act one way, but you can't always do that. It's sad that sometimes people don't know that sometimes I can't stop myself and they get mad at me. If I could tell people one thing about autism it would be that I don't want to be this way. But I am, so don't be mad. Be understanding."

Note: Read an excellent follow-up article in which Carly answers readers questions about autism. For more, see this webpage.


From ‘Dr. Evil’ to hero maker: Philip Zimbardo
2018-04-20, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/From-Dr-Evil-to-hero-maker-Philip...

Philip Zimbardo is understandably tired of being associated with the darker sides of human behavior. Yet the 85-year-old San Francisco psychologist, who taught at Stanford for 50 years ... knows that history has a way of flattening careers into one landmark accomplishment. For Zimbardo, that would be the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. Zimbardo devised a mock jail in the basement of Stanford’s Jordan Hall to study the psychology of imprisonment. All hell broke loose ... and Zimbardo, the “warden,” abruptly cut the study short. Ever since, his prison experiment has been cultural shorthand for proof [that] depersonalized circumstances [can turn] anyone temporarily into a tyrant. Embedded within Zimbardo’s findings on the “banality of evil” was the kernel of a vastly more positive and, he believes, more broadly consequential idea: heroism training. “If essentially good people are capable of evil, then can’t any of us also be inspired and trained to act heroically?” he asks. The Heroic Imagination Project was launched in 2010. “I worked with a team of academics to develop six three-hour-long lessons on transforming passive bystanders into active heroes,” [Zimbardo said]. The key to “awakening everyone’s heroic instincts,” Zimbardo said, is twofold: first, redefining who a hero is. “We must ... promote the idea that heroes are ordinary people who take extraordinary action.” Second, it’s about having a ... belief that our abilities and aptitudes aren’t static but can be developed over time.

Note: Watch a video of Zimbardo's talk titled, "What Makes a Hero?." Explore an excellent essay on moving beyond duality which talks about Zimbardo's experiments.


Harriet Tubman will be face of the $20
2016-04-21, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/20/news/10-bill-hamilton-20-tubman/index.html

Harriet Tubman will boot Andrew Jackson from the face of the $20. She'll become the first black woman ever to front a U.S. banknote. Tubman, who died in 1913 at the age of 91, escaped slavery in the south and eventually led hundreds of escaped slaves to freedom as a "conductor" of the Underground Railroad. After the slaves were freed, Tubman was a staunch supporter of a woman's right to vote. "What she did to free people on an individual basis and what she did afterward," [Treasury Secretary Jack] Lew said. "That's a legacy of what an individual can do in a democracy." The $5 bill will keep Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, on the front. The back of the bill will depict the Lincoln Memorial along with portraits of individuals involved in historic events that took place there. That includes Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt. The African-American opera singer and former first lady held a concert at the memorial in 1939 in an effort to move the civil rights movement forward. Martin Luther King Jr. will be added the back of the bill. The Lincoln Memorial was the site of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. It's not clear when the $20 or $5 will enter circulation. Updating currency can take more than a decade.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Utah’s Rainbow Bridge National Monument is now the world’s latest dark-sky sanctuary
2018-04-19, Salt Lake Tribune (One of Utah's leading newspapers)
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/04/19/utahs-rainbow-bridge-national-monument...

Southern Utah’s Rainbow Bridge National Monument has been selected as an international dark-sky sanctuary, a designation meant to recognize the area for its naturally dark skies and a cultural heritage revered by Native Americans. Encompassing 160 acres, Rainbow Bridge National Monument outside of Page, Ariz., is among the smallest areas managed by the National Park Service and is considered sacred by several regional tribes, including the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Utes and Paiutes. The dark-sky designation, made in conjunction with the International Dark-Sky Association, will be marked by a series of public astronomy events. The International Dark-Sky Association launched its dark-sky places program in 2001 to encourage protection of natural dark night skies worldwide through responsible lighting, public awareness and education. The association’s executive director J. Scott Feierabend said the group was pleased to honor Rainbow Bridge. “In the span of this remarkable natural bridge,” Feierabend said in a written statement, “we see symbolically represented the arch of the Milky Way across the night sky, a reminder of the long-held value of both Rainbow Bridge and the natural night sky to native peoples of the area.” The Utah monument joins three other certified dark-sky sanctuaries worldwide, including Cosmic Campground in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest; Aortea-Great Barrier Island in New Zealand; and Gabriela Mistal in Chile.

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The decades-long quest to end drought (and feed millions) by taking the salt out of seawater
2018-03-20, Wired
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/charlie-paton-seawater-greenhouse-desalination...

“The world isn’t short of water, it’s just in the wrong place, and too salty," says Charlie Paton – so he's spent the past 24 years building the technology to prove it. Paton is the founder of Seawater Greenhouse, a company that transforms two abundant resources – sunshine and seawater – into freshwater for growing crops in arid, coastal regions such as Africa’s horn. His latest project [is] in Somaliland (an autonomous but internationally unrecognised republic in Somalia). On a 25-hectare plot of desert land close to the coastline, he’s building the region’s first sustainable, drought-resistant greenhouse. Using solar power to pump in seawater from the coastline and desalinate it on site, Paton is generating freshwater to irrigate plants, and water vapour to cool and humidify the greenhouse interior. Less than a year after its launch, this improbable desert oasis produced its first harvest of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. This year he plans to build an on-site training centre to teach local farmers how to grow greenhouse vegetables. The structure’s modular design will enable farmers to adopt their own one- to five-hectare plots – the dream being a network of connected, drought-resistant farms running across the country. “One of the exciting things is that it can work all the way along our long Red Sea coastline, bringing new sources of income in arid, pastoral areas,” Shibeshi says. “If you have a greenhouse, you aren’t worried about whether there’s rain or no rain.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Energy healing: ‘I like things that I know — and what I know is, this works’
2018-03-18, News.com.au (a leading media outlet in Australia)
http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/energy-healing-i-like...

He can make a two-year-old who hasn’t spent a day of his life without pain sleep like a baby. He can banish 30 years of neck pain in 30 seconds. Mobilise paralysed limbs. Zap an allergy. All without laying a hand on anyone. Melbourne energy healer Charlie Goldsmith has a gift sceptics love to dismiss, but the people he’s helped begged to differ. He’s never charged any of them a cent. If it sounds like a Hollywood script, that’s because it sort of is. US TV producers gave him his own show. The Healer premiered ... late last year. He has a gift nobody can quite explain, so many distrust it. He believes what he sees, and knows: Like the studies he’s been involved in which show he “heals” 80 per cent of those he treats. The Healer is his chance to lend a credibility ... to energy healing. He believes there are plenty of others with his “gift”, they just need that talent spotted, and developed. “I work on old 80-year-olds and I’m their first experience of this stuff. And I think ‘wow you could spend your whole life on this planet and not know that humans have this ability that’s been misunderstood and probably misrepresented a lot’.” Goldsmith partnered with New York University’s Lutheran Hospital for the first study scrutinising his talent. He treated 50 people with a 76 per cent success rate of pain-related conditions with immediate “marked improvement” and 79 per cent of conditions other than pain.

Note: See this miracle worker's website at https://www.charliegoldsmith.com.


Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles
2018-04-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-c...

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles. The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug. The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process. Industrial enzymes are widely used in, for example, washing powders and biofuel production. They have been made to work up to 1,000 times faster in a few years, the same timescale [Prof John McGeehan, who led the research] envisages for the plastic-eating enzyme. Earlier work had shown that some fungi can break down PET plastic, which makes up about 20% of global plastic production. But bacteria are far easier to harness for industrial uses.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Hen-keeping – a cracking new therapy for older people
2015-07-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/28/hen-keeping-therapy-older-people

In the garden of a care home, gingernut ranger hen Ellen has just laid her second egg. Resident Ashok Patel, 64, has been pronounced “a natural” with the hens, someone who can coax them back into the henhouse when it is time for bed. “I like the hens, and the hens like me,” he says. Henpower, a project that brings hens to older people in care settings, has joined with Notting Hill Housing to introduce the hens into two of the housing association’s extra-care sites. The project is supporting some 700 residents, including those with dementia, in more than 20 care homes in north-east England. Henpower was set up by the charity Equal Arts in 2011. A 12-month study of the project by Northumbria University ... found that Henpower is improving the health and wellbeing of older people, and reducing depression, loneliness and the need for antipsychotic medication in care homes. [Northumbria University professor] Glenda Cook ... was the lead researcher on the Henpower evaluation. “Henpower is innovative because it is not just brief ‘petting’ of the hens, but also taking responsibility for them. There’s a huge range of roles with shared responsibilities, with diverse ways to interact with the project,” she says. Volunteer Jackie Copeland works with residents on “henspired” art projects. “People get a lot out of stroking [the hens]. You feel your stress levels go down. I get ‘chicken love’ – I almost expect them to start purring,” she laughs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet Zero Mass Water, Whose Solar Panels Pull Drinking Water From The Air
2017-11-15, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/miguelhelft/2017/11/15/meet-zero-mass-water-whos...

It’s often said you can’t make something out of nothing. Cody Friesen may have. To show me his technological sleight of hand, Friesen invites me to a hillside house. We each sample a cup of water that flows from a drinking fountain. The water is cool and delicious – and it was made out of thin air. Literally. The drinking fountain is fed by a flexible pipe that leads to the house’s roof. There sit two Friesen’s devices, called Source Hydropanels. Each looks like solar panel mounted atop a metal box. The system extracts moisture out of the air at a rate of as much as five liters per day. Friesen believes installations like this one could soon be providing clean, quality drinking water to homes, schools and businesses. Friesen ... has already installed the Source in eight countries, including Ecuador, Jordan, Mexico and the Philippines. In the U.S., his panels are collecting water at a Duke Energy facility in North Carolina, an office building in Santa Monica, Calif., some Bay Area residences, and a handful of homes and schools in Arizona, where despite the low humidity, Source produces roughly the same amount of water as in wetter climates. Source ... draws ambient air through a fan into its devices. There, special nano-materials ... absorb the water. The solar panel then helps separate the water from the material. After it is condensed, it flows ... through a mineral block that adds magnesium and calcium common in drinking water.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In March, Portugal Made More Than Enough Renewable Energy To Power The Whole Country
2018-04-05, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/05/599886059/in-march-portuga...

Last month, Portugal produced more than enough renewable energy to meet the country's entire electrical demand - a feat "unmatched in the last 40 years," according to the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association, or APREN. Renewable power produced in March was equal to 103.6 percent of electrical demand on mainland Portugal. Fifty-five percent of that energy was produced through hydro power, while 42 percent came from wind. The country still used fossil fuels to balance out supply and demand. "These periods were nevertheless fully compensated by others of greater renewable production," [APREN writes]. "It is expected that by 2040 the production of renewable electricity will be able to guarantee, in a cost-effective way, the total annual electricity consumption of Mainland Portugal." For most countries in the world, a fully renewable energy supply still seems like a challenging target. Portugal has made substantial investments in renewable energy sources, as has its neighbor Spain. Some of that spending was cut in 2012, amid austerity measures, and more were scaled back in 2016. But by that point, many renewable energy projects had already been paid off and were operating cost-efficiently. And this week, coincidentally, the Portuguese government put a stop to another energy subsidy - one "worth about 20 million euros a year, most of which goes to fossil fuel plants," Reuters writes.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Danone's North America business hits key social, environmental milestone
2018-04-12, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/12/danones-north-america-business-receives-b-cor...

DanoneWave has renamed itself and says it has been certified as a B Corporation. It is now called Danone North America. To be designated a B Corp, a for-profit company must pass a set of standards regarding its social and environmental performance and change its legal structure to become a public benefit company. Danone sought to achieve this certification by 2020, but it came out two years ahead of schedule. While some stakeholders may worry that big changes to become more environmentally friendly will increase costs, Danone North America's larger suppliers have seen the opposite happen. Dairy is one the company's main ingredients and its production can be harmful to the environment due to water usage and waste. The company's largest manufacturing facility has cut its usage. While the initial research involved in reducing water usage was costly, one of the owners of the facility has already seen a huge reduction in costs. Faber said that up to 250,000 gallons of water can be saved per day due to ... new technology. Danone North America sustainable development manager Catherine Queen [said] that there has been a movement to bring the sustainability effort to global suppliers. Global suppliers have been encouraged to move toward more plant-based packaging and pay their workers living wages. Sustainable manufacturing can lower costs significantly and create more room in budgets to increase wages. Costs on the higher executive level have also been cut.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet A Guy Who Has Devoted His Life To Freeing Slaves
2015-12-16, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/devinthorpe/2015/12/16/meet-a-guy-who-has-devote...

Tim Ballard's career with the CIA and Homeland Security may not be what you'd expect. With years of leading rescue efforts to free victims of human trafficking, especially those used as prostitutes, he founded Operation Underground Railroad to liberate captive slaves. Ballard explains the need for his work. "There are an estimated 27 million enslaved human beings in the world: more slaves than ever existed during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Many are sex slaves, as sex trafficking represents the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Many reputable organizations exist to disseminate information about this problem, and others function as aftercare organizations for victims. Very few, if any, dedicate themselves to the pro-active rescue and direct extraction of the victims, and to the capture and prosecution of their captors. Operation Underground Railroad fills this void." Operation Underground Railroad's work is already logging success. "In just our first two years, O.U.R. has already rescued over 350 victims of human trafficking," Ballard reports. "Foreign governments often seek out O.U.R. to assist in sting operations against child sex traffickers. We keep the respective U.S. Embassies informed of our activities, and have been fortunate to count on their support and participation in a number of our rescues.

Note: Don't miss an incredibly inspiring video interview of Tim Ballard with Tony Robbins.


Finland's homeless crisis nearly solved. How? By giving homes to all who need.
2018-03-21, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2018/0321/Finland-s-homeless-crisis-ne...

As anyone who has visited Europe recently can attest, the scourge of homelessness has reached epidemic proportions. The only exception to the trend is Finland. The number of homeless people in Finland has declined from a high of 18,000 30 years ago, to approximately 7,000: the latter figure includes some 5,000 persons who are temporarily lodging with friends or relatives. At the core of this was a move away from the so-called “staircase model,” whereby a homeless person moved from one social rehabilitation level to another, with an apartment waiting for him or her at the highest step. Instead, Finland opted to give housing to the homeless from the start. The concept behind the new approach was not original. What was different, and historic, about the Finnish Housing First model was a willingness to enact the model on a nationwide basis. In 2008 the Finnish National Program to reduce long-term homelessness was drafted and put into place. One [goal] was to cut the number of long-term homeless in half by producing ... supported housing units for tenants with their own leases. The extant network of homeless shelters was phased out. This also involved phasing out the “old way” of thinking about homelessness. The program pays for itself. A case study undertaken by the Tampere University of Technology in 2011 ... showed society saved $18,500 per homeless person per year who had received a rental apartment with support, due to the medical and emergency services no longer needed to assist and respond to them.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dad bikes 1,400 miles to hear deceased daughter's heartbeat on Father's Day
2017-06-21, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/dad-bikes-1400-miles-to-hear-deceased-daughters-...

Bill Conner suddenly lost his 20-year-old daughter, Abbey, and he felt like he had to do something to honor her short life. Conner hopped on a bike and ... decided to travel 2,600 miles - from his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida - to visit Broward Health Medical Center, the hospital that recovered Abbey's organs for donation back in January. At the age of 16, as soon as she got her license, Abbey made the decision to be an organ donor. Abbey donated four organs, allowing four males, ages 20 to 60, to live. When Conner informed the Florida donation center that handled Abbey's organs about his decision to ride on her behalf, the group sent letters to every recipient, asking if they'd be interested in meeting the woman's father. "The only person who has responded at this point is Jack Jr., the heart recipient," Conner said. Conner was given Jack's contact information. They arranged to meet in Baton Rouge on Father's Day - 1,400 miles into Conner's trip. When Conner met Jack Sunday afternoon he felt like he already knew him. The pair walked toward one another with their arms outstretched. "Knowing he's alive because of Abbey," Conner said. "I was happy for him and his family, and at the same time, I got to reunite with my daughter." After sharing a minute-long hug, Jack pulled out a stethoscope so Conner could hear his daughter's heartbeat for the first time since she died in January. The family made a recording of Jack's heart so Conner could listen to it as he rides.

Note: Watch moving video of the meeting between Connor and Jack on Father's day at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Khan Academy founder wins 2018 Visionary of the Year award
2018-03-27, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/visionsf/article/Khan-Academy-founder-wins-2018-V...

When Salman Khan began posting videos on YouTube more than a decade ago, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur had no idea of the celebrity he would gain, nor the impact he would have. His online tutorials in math ... were made for friends and family struggling in school. But his audience quickly grew. Before long, Khan had quit his day job in finance to carry out a goal of delivering free Internet instruction to the world. His educational website was called Khan Academy. On Tuesday night, Khan ... was presented the fourth annual Visionary of the Year Award, an honor announced by The San Francisco Chronicle. Khan Academy today has more than 62 million registered users in nearly 200 countries. His voice, which still narrates many of the tutorials, is widely recognized, and students and parents often stop him on the street to thank him for providing an assist at school or work. Since its launch in 2008, Khan Academy has broadened its online course load to include nearly every school subject from science to art and from the kindergarten to college levels. Khan’s Mountain View nonprofit has grown from just him to more than 150 employees. Perhaps most impressive is that the schooling has remained entirely free. With the admirable mission of providing a “world-class” education to anyone anywhere, Khan has attracted financial support from well-heeled donors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and Bank of America.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


UK sets new wind power record as turbines deliver 14 gigawatts for first time – 37 per cent of nation's electricity
2018-03-17, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/wind-power-record-electricity...

Wind power in the UK set a new record today by generating 14 gigawatts for the first time – nearly 37 per cent of the the country’s electricity. The National Grid control room confirmed that 13.9 gigawatts was the highest ever metered wind output. At 10am on Saturday Wind generated 13.9GW, or 36.9 per cent of the UK’s electricity, increasing to 14GW by 11am. The previous record was 13.6GW in January this year. By contrast gas generated only 8.5GW (23 per cent), nuclear 6.5GW (17.3 per cent), coal just 4.7GW (12.5 per cent) and both solar and biomass 1.5GW (4.1 per cent). Hydro came last with 0.3GW or 0.9 per cent. Wind farms produced a record 15 per cent of Britain’s electricity in 2017, up from 10 per cent in 2016. Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College said: “The dramatic increase comes from both higher wind speeds and a jump in installed capacity. Several large offshore farms came online and onshore wind had a record year for deployment.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


These newly discovered bacteria can eat plastic bottles
2016-03-10, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-bacteria-eat-plastic-2016...

A team of Japanese scientists has found a species of bacteria that eats the type of plastic found in most disposable water bottles. The discovery, published ... in the journal Science, could lead to new methods to manage the more than 50 million tons of this particular type of plastic produced globally each year. The plastic found in water bottles is known as polyethylene terephalate, or PET. It is also found in polyester clothing, frozen-dinner trays and blister packaging. Part of the appeal of PET is that it is lightweight, colorless and strong. However, it has also been notoriously resistant to being broken down by microbes - what experts call "biodegradation." Previous studies had found a few species of fungi can grow on PET, but until now, no one had found any microbes that can eat it. To find the plastic-eating bacterium described in the study, the Japanese research team ... collected 250 PET-contaminated samples including sediment, soil and wastewater from a plastic bottle recycling site. Next they screened the microbes living on the samples to see whether any of them were eating the PET and using it to grow. They eventually discovered [a] bacteria species [that] could break down a thin film of PET over the course of six weeks. The research could make it easier to identify other microbes that might have similar PET-degrading capabilities.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Butterfly Effect – Jonathan Pitre's brave fight inspiring others
2017-08-11, Ottawa Sun
http://ottawasun.com/2017/08/11/walker-butterfly-effect--jonathan-pitres-brav...

Most people in Ottawa have heard about our “Butterfly Child,” Jonathan Pitre, who is fighting one of the most horrific diseases anyone has ever heard of called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). It makes his skin extremely fragile, like butterfly wings. Recently, a second stem cell transplant was done. It is currently the only hope the 16-year-old has to lessen his excruciating pain. Jonathan’s story ... has inspired true change in others. That change is creating even more ripples after he threw his stone into the pond by bravely speaking out about his disease. You see, when he isn’t getting experimental treatment in the United States, Jonathan lives next door to singer-songwriter Tara Shannon. Tara ... wrote the song Butterfly Child that, together with TSN, helped propel Jonathan into the international spotlight. Across Canada and the United States, when being interviewed about her album, Tara now speaks about EB. She is doing what Jonathan wanted all along, to increase awareness about the disease and the need for research. Since releasing Butterfly Child, Tara joined the executive committee of Amazing People, which celebrates those doing great work in Ottawa while at the same time raising money for four charities. I think our Butterfly Child has created incredible change in our community simply by demonstrating what is possible when you don’t give up. Jonathan’s example has caused a ripple effect that is helping children he’s never even met, and he’s inspiring adults to do what needs to be done.

Note: Watch a touching video of this brave child and his conflicted life.


3D-printed homes turn sludge into shelter
2018-03-15, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43411581

More than a billion people in the world go to sleep each night without reliable shelter. But a pair of companies working on solving that believes their model of quickly 3D-printing a one-story house could not only provide merely a roof over the head, but a genuinely great place to live. I took a walk around a demonstration house ... built by Icon, a construction firm, and New Story, a non-profit that sets up housing in the developing world. Later this year, the project will head to El Salvador to build some test homes, with the view to begin work on a community of 100 houses in 2019. "If it does work it could literally change how shelter is created," said Brett Hagler, chief executive and co-founder of New Story. Like small-scale 3D-printing, the system works by slowly adding material, layer-by-layer. In this case, that material is mortar, similar to concrete. The El Salvador project will ... aim to build 100 homes, financed by mostly Silicon Valley-based donors. The houses will not be a hand-out, however. "The families agreed to a no-interest, no-profit mortgage that they will pay over about 10 years," explained Mr Hagler. That works out at about $30 a month. According to the country's economics ministry, the average monthly wage in rural El Salvador is around $360. "That money does not come back to us," he added. "It's kept in a community fund." The fund will go on to pay for more homes in future, or maintenance on existing structures. Mr Hagler said the mortgage model will foster "respect and dignity" within the community.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


China’s latest energy megaproject shows that coal really is on the way out
2018-03-19, San Francisco Chronicle/Business Insider
https://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/China-s-latest-ener...

According to a 2016 study, the top contributor of air pollution-related deaths in China is the burning of coal. To improve the country's air quality, the Chinese government vows to spend at least $360 billion on clean energy projects and create 13 million new renewable energy jobs by 2020. This year marks China's fourth anniversary since it started a "war on pollution," and there's reason to believe the country is making headway. Chinese cities have cut concentrations of fine particulates - often considered the deadliest type of pollution - by 32% on average since 2013. The city of Xingtai saw the largest pollution decline at 52.2%. China's latest energy megaproject - a giant floating solar farm on top of a former coal mine in Anhui - may get the country closer to that goal. The 166,000-panel array ... can generate 40 megawatts of power - enough to accommodate 15,000 homes. It's currently the world's largest floating solar project and will operate for up to 25 years. Local energy company Sungrow Power Supply developed the farm on a lake that was once the site of extensive coal mining. After an explosion caused the mine to collapse, a lake formed and flooded it. Building solar plants on top of lakes and reservoirs can protect agricultural land and wildlife on the ground. The water also cools the solar panels, helping them work more efficiently. Choosing to develop the Sungrow farm on an abandoned coal mine signals the slow decline of fossil fuels like coal in China and other countries around the world.

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Kyle Maynard: one man’s life with no excuses
2014-03-21, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/culture/noah-movie/10706053/kyle-maynar...

Kyle Maynard, 27, was born with a rare condition called congenital amputation that left him without the lower parts of his arms or legs. It’s a disability that would, understandably, all but end most people’s potential for a normal life. Yet for the determined Atlanta native, this end was only the beginning. At 11, he played American football. At high school, he switched to wrestling. Around the same time, he bench-pressed 240lbs 23 times, earning the title World’s Strongest Teen from sports supplement company GNC. Shortly after, US sports broadcaster ESPN awarded Maynard its 2004 Espy for Best Athlete With A Disability, and fame followed. He ... appeared on Oprah and Larry King Live, and took his first of many bookings as a motivational speaker, all of which drew from experiences described in his ... autobiography No Excuses. And yet, in a keynote speech published on his own website, Maynard reflects on once feeling like a fraud. He tells of how, during a speaking tour, he looked at himself ... and knew, for the first time, he had started to believe what others said about him. Perhaps that’s why, in 2011, Kyle Maynard decided to scale Mount Kilimanjaro. And why on January 15, 2012, he became the first quadruple amputee to reach the roof of Africa without assistance, crawling all 19,340 feet on specially made soles. “When we take on a big goal, it’s always going to be difficult at first,” says Maynard in his website’s Speaking Intro video. “We forget that just showing up, and continuing to try, is going to get us there.”

Note: Watch an engaging video of this inspiring man.


The Power of Your Suffering is in How You Tell Your Story
2018-03-19, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/the-power-of-your-suffering-is-in-how-you-t...

Trauma is a word we hear used to describe a range of experiences. Author and journalist Aminatta Forna thinks the word is overused, and, in her Humble Opinion, it is time to find a new way of talking about terrible events. "My family has seen what feels like more than our share of painful, you might say traumatic, events," [said Forna]. "The murder of my father who was a political activist when I was 11, followed by 25 years of political oppression, 10 years of civil war and even an Ebola outbreak. "I’m often asked whether I was traumatized by events, and I have to answer, truthfully, no. Over the years, I have written a great deal about people who have managed to endure events with the power to ruin lives, and this is what I have learned. The more a society tells you that you are irrevocably damaged by what has taken place, the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The ability to shape your own narrative, rather than having others shape it for you, is ultimately what matters most. Almost any experience can be reshaped, any destiny re-imagined, if those who have lived it tell their own stories. People who frame their experience within a wider context are often most capable of withstanding painful events. They rarely ask, why me. But rather see the world for the capricious and unfair place it can be, and they have a vision of their role in it. Individual temperament matters, but societal attitudes play a considerable role in shaping our responses. The suffering is real, but it may yet be withstood."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Heated floors and pillow-top mattresses... in prison
2018-03-08, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/08/us/prison-reform-north-dakota-norway/index.html

Norway's prison system is designed with three core values in mind: normality, humanity and rehabilitation. The point of incarceration in Norway, they say, is to make inmates "better neighbors" once they are released - and they take that mission very seriously. In the US, prison is generally seen as punishment for crimes committed. But Norway might change that. In 2015, prison directors and lawmakers from North Dakota traveled to see Norway's prisons for themselves. The trip was part of a program that takes state officials to visit the country, which has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world. When the leaders returned, North Dakota slowly began making changes to its prison system. The move has been controversial with some prison staff. The changes called for different dynamics between inmates and corrections officers, causing one of them to leave over what he believed was a fundamental shift in their training. North Dakota's prison directors say the benefit in the long run - reducing the state's recidivism rate - is worth giving this new approach a chance. If the goal is to make them better neighbors, North Dakota inmate Jonathan McKinney says it's working. He spent more than two years in and out of solitary confinement during part of his 17-year sentence for murder and other serious charges. Because of Norway's influence, prison officials allowed him to transfer to medium security when he showed good behavior - a move that he would not have been able to make as easily before.

Note: Watch an incredible nine-minute video on the mind-boggling success of Norway's prison system.


Does Energy Healing Work? Watch 'Healer' Charlie Goldsmith And Decide For Yourself
2017-11-13, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/courtneyporkolab/2017/11/13/does-energy-healing-...

Does energy healing work? Charlie Goldsmith knows it does. The Australian energy healer, who reluctantly discovered his talent at the ripe age of 18, is now on a mission to take energy medicine mainstream. To date, Goldsmith has volunteered his time - and talents - to two scientific studies. In the first study, published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2015, he treated 50 reports of pain at a 76% success rate and 29 reports of non-pain problems at a 79% success rate. The study, conducted at NYU's Lutheran Hospital ... landed him a TV deal. The second is still underway. Prior to the studies done in the public eye, Goldsmith spent years healing as many as he could, often those who had been failed by countless doctors and traditional medicine. He has never once charged for his work. Dr. Ramsey Joudeh, from NYU's Lutheran Medical Center, attests to Goldsmith's miraculous healing powers: "Most of our narcotics decrease a patient's pain by three to five points. If you go from a 10, meaning the worst pain you can imagine, to five, that's significant. In some cases Charlie reduced a patient's pain from 10 to zero. He also treated people with infections where antibiotics were not effective. You could see the shift in a patient's status from stagnant to a rapid healing resolution. I can't quantify it, but I would say Charlie cuts off patients' hospital stays. Watching him work has been humbling in the most extreme way."

Note: See this miracle worker's website at https://www.charliegoldsmith.com.


California sun produces so much power that electricity prices turn negative
2017-04-11, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/california-sun-solar-power-e...

Electricity prices in [California] have begun turning negative on the main power exchange, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has revealed. Solar made up a record figure of nearly 40 per cent of the electricity sent to the grid in the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO’s) territory for a few hours on 11 March, after utility-scale solar farms grew by almost 50 per cent in 2016, the EIA said. Solar capacity in the state has grown rapidly in the last few years. There was less than one gigawatt in 2007, but nearly 14GW by the end of last year. At this time of year, the large amounts of sunlight and the relatively low demand can produce too much electricity around the middle of the day. “Electricity demand in California tends to peak during the summer months,” the EIA said. “However, in late winter and early spring, demand is at its annual minimum, but solar output, while not at its highest, is increasing as the days grow longer and the sun gets higher in the sky. “Consequently, power prices ... were substantially lower in March compared with other times of the year or even March of last year. System average hourly prices were frequently at or below $0 per megawatthour. In contrast, average hourly prices in March 2013–15 during this time of day ranged from $14/MWh to $45/MWh.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Psychedelic Psychotherapy Works
2018-03-01, Optimist Daily
https://www.optimistdaily.com/2018/03/why-psychedelic-psychotherapy-works/

In recent years, rigorous research has been conducted on entheogens, such as ayahuasca, LSD, mescaline and psilocybin, and on the empathogen Ecstasy. The goal is to evaluate their effects on addiction, cluster headaches, depression, trauma, cancer, epilepsy, death and dying, as well as to explore their value in the study of consciousness. Psilocybin - or magic mushrooms - have been used in traditional healing rituals for thousands of years. However, for more than 40 years it has been illegal in the U.S. But recent findings are tearing down the barriers surrounding psychedelic research, as it has been clinically shown that they have the ability to ease depression and soothe anxiety in patients dealing with serious illness and impending death. Two separate studies discovered that a single, moderate-to-large dose of psilocybin was able to help alleviate profound distress among cancer patients. Researchers know “how,” but they do not know “why,” psilocybin has worked in these settings. One theory is that psilocybin interrupts the circuitry of self-absorbed thinking that is so pronounced in depressed people, making way for a mystical experience. Neuro-imaging studies ... suggest that the positive effects of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy are explained by changes in something in the brain called “the default mode network.” It turns out that this network is hyperactive in depression. Interestingly, in both meditation and also with psilocybin this network becomes quiescent.

Note: See an article in the UK's Independent showing remarkable results from these studies. Learn more about the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs now being explored by the scientific community.


San Diego pays homeless people to pick up trash in new program
2018-02-27, Fox News
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/02/27/san-diego-pays-homeless-people-to-pick-u...

San Diego officials are putting homeless people back on the street - but this time to pay them to pick up trash as part of a new program that launched Monday. The homeless people, who are staying at the city’s tented shelters, will be cleaning up trash and clearing brush in downtown San Diego for five hours a day. The program, called Alpha’s Project’s “Wheels of Change,” will pay participants $11.50 an hour. [They are] expected to hold cleaning shifts three days a week. “This is all about creating more opportunities for homeless individuals to lift themselves out of extreme poverty,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “‘Wheels for Change’ will help restore dignity by allowing people to earn a paycheck and begin to get back on their feet. For many, this may be just the chance they need to begin turning their lives around.” Program participants will also receive access to housing resources. Homeless people [said] they liked the work. “It’s better than sitting in a tent all day,” Edwin Fisk ... said. “It gives us something to do, you know? And you make money. Who wouldn’t want to do that?” Nichole Hill, who has been homeless for 18 months, also said: “I get to give back to the community and have some extra money to get around.” The new program follows similar ones that were launched in Chicago, Denver and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where it was first implemented.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Holding hands can sync brainwaves, ease pain, study shows
2018-03-01, Science Daily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180301094822.htm

Reach for the hand of a loved one in pain and not only will your breathing and heart rate synchronize with theirs, your brain wave patterns will couple up too, according to a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study ... also found that the more empathy a comforting partner feels for a partner in pain, the more their brainwaves fall into sync. And the more those brain waves sync, the more the pain goes away. "We have developed a lot of ways to communicate in the modern world and we have fewer physical interactions," said lead author Pavel Goldstein. "This paper illustrates the power and importance of human touch." The study is the latest in a growing body of research exploring a phenomenon known as "interpersonal synchronization," in which people physiologically mirror the people they are with. It is the first to look at brain wave synchronization in the context of pain, and offers new insight into the role brain-to-brain coupling may play in touch-induced analgesia, or healing touch. Goldstein came up with the experiment after, during the delivery of his daughter, he discovered that when he held his wife's hand, it eased her pain. How exactly could coupling of brain activity with an empathetic partner kill pain? More studies are needed to find out, stressed Goldstein. But he and his co-authors offer a few possible explanations. Empathetic touch can make a person feel understood, which in turn -- according to previous studies -- could activate pain-killing reward mechanisms in the brain.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Can altruism exist without empathy? Lessons from the ant world
2018-02-20, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2018/0220/Can-altruism-exist-without-empath...

Named for a famed group of Bantu warriors, the Matabele ant is renowned as a fierce fighter. But the sub-Saharan termite-hunter also shows a caring side. Researchers have found that Megaponera analis, as scientists call it, will tend to the wounds of nest-mates. The only other animals that have been observed systematically treating others’ injuries are humans and some of our primate relatives. In other words, ants and humans share what biologists call a convergent trait: caring for another in need. The finding also informs a growing body of research aimed at fitting what we experience as moral sentiments into a larger pattern in nature. That such precisely directed helping behavior, as it is known, pops up in as distant a relative as the ant belies some popular notions of Darwinian evolution, which characterize natural selection as promoting only selfish behavior. While it’s true that competition both among and within species plays a major role in shaping the evolution of biological traits, it’s not nature’s only driving force. “If you bring people together, the first thing they want to do is cooperate,” says Dr. de Waal, the author of several books on morality and empathy in nonhuman animals. “Now we know from all sorts of studies ... that actually all of the mammals are a bit like that. The first tendency is to help.” People, being the intelligent, social mammals that we are, like to frame helping in terms of morality. But ants appear to demonstrate “helping behavior without morality,” says [biologist] Erik Frank.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How one US state saved $240 million in health care spending
2018-03-01, Quartz
https://qz.com/1218748/how-one-us-state-saved-240-million-in-health-care-spen...

Investment in primary care results in savings in overall health care spending. This has been empirically proven in the state of Oregon. Health care spending in the United States in 2016 was $3.4 trillion, or 17.8% of GDP. By the year 2025, spending in the US is expected to reach 19.9% of GDP. What are we getting in return for spending more money on health care than any other developed nation in the world? Not much. Our health outcomes leave much to be desired. Why? Health care spending in the US generally promotes utilization of services - apart from outcomes - as opposed to effective, proactive, whole-person care. There is a better way. In 2009, the Oregon legislature established the Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH) program. As of the writing of this article, there are over 600 clinics in Oregon with PCPCH recognition. The foundation of the PCPCH model consists of 6 Core Attributes that promote care which is: accessible, accountable, comprehensive, continuous, coordinated, and patient- and family-centered. What has been achieved since implementation of the PCPCH program in Oregon? A multi-year study from Portland State University [found] $240 million in savings in the first three years of the program. Every $1 increase in spending in primary care resulted in $13 in savings in overall spending.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Sweden’s recycling is so revolutionary, the country has run out of rubbish
2016-12-08, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/sweden-s-recycling-is-so-revolutiona...

Sweden is so good at recycling that, for several years, it has imported rubbish from other countries to keep its recycling plants going. Less than 1 per cent of Swedish household waste was sent to landfill last year or any year since 2011. “We worked on communications for a long time to make people aware not to throw things outdoors so that we can recycle and reuse,” says Anna-Carin Gripwall, director of communications for Avfall Sverige, the Swedish Waste Management’s recycling association. Over time, Sweden has implemented a cohesive national recycling policy so that even though private companies undertake most of the business of importing and burning waste, the energy goes into a national heating network to heat homes through the freezing Swedish winter. “That’s a key reason that we have this district network, so we can make use of the heating from the waste plants. In the southern part of Europe they don’t make use of the heating from the waste, it just goes out the chimney. Here we use it as a substitute for fossil fuel,” Ms Gripwell says. She describes Sweden’s policy of importing waste to recycle from other countries as a temporary situation. “There’s a ban on landfill in EU countries, so instead of paying the fine they send it to us as a service. They should and will build their own plants, to reduce their own waste, as we are working hard to do in Sweden,” Ms Gripwall says.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Incredible device that generates electricity out of thin air by harvesting energy from changes in temperature
2018-02-27, Daily Mail
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5440613/Incredible-device-gene...

A miraculous device that can generate electricity seemingly out of thin air has been developed by engineers. Called a thermal resonator, it relies on fluctuations in temperature between day and night to produce electricity. It can be used without the need for sunlight, batteries or wind, making it ideal for situations where these resources can't be relied upon. The technology has the potential to power sensors and communications devices for years without the need for batteries. Experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) department of chemical engineering are behind the find. Their gadget is a twist on a thermoelectric generator, which creates power when one side of the device is a different temperature from the other. Researchers say that the power levels generated by the new system so far are modest. However, it outperformed a commercially available pyroelectric material - an existing method for converting temperature fluctuations to electricity - by 300 per cent. Professor Michael Strano, who led the study, said: 'We basically invented this concept out of whole cloth. 'It's something that can sit on a desk and generate energy out of what seems like nothing. 'We are surrounded by temperature fluctuations of all different frequencies all of the time. These are an untapped source of energy.' Such systems could provide low-power but long-lasting energy sources for landers or rovers exploring remote locations, including other moons and planets, says Volodymyr Koman, an MIT postdoc and co-author of the new study.

Note: For more, see this article on the MIT website.


Urban farmers grow veggies in freight containers
2017-03-21, USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2017/03/21/urban-farming-growin...

The future of urban agriculture might require farmers to think inside the box. Farmers ... are growing vegetables here in converted freight shipping containers equipped with the latest hydroponics and automated systems equipment. They are provided by a Boston-based firm, Freight Farm. Freight Farms started in 2010 with the goal of bringing viable, space-efficient farming techniques to all climates and skill levels year-round. It recently expanded to Arizona. [Mark] Norton of Picked Fresh Farms isn’t what most people would picture as a farmer. The closest anyone has come to farming in his family was his grandfather, who farmed as a child, but that didn’t deter Norton. “If I can get a better environment, better food, help people with their food, and still help people with their health, that’s where it all fits,” Norton said. “It aligns with my core values.” He recently had one of his first successful harvests of lettuce, but he’s already looking to the future, with a 10-year goal to expand to 10 containers. In a year, [each] 320-square-foot container can produce the equivalent of a three-acre farm. It also saves water, using ... 95% less than traditional farms. The water is delivered in a nutrient-rich system based on hydroponics, a method to grow plants without soil. Norton prides himself in using no GMOs, no pesticides and no herbicides. The environment is controlled, so there’s no reason for it. The container can put out 50 to 100 pounds of lettuce a week.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


These Are The World’s Greenest Cities
2018-02-27, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-renewable-cities/

Cities around the globe are going green. Over 100 cities from Addis Ababa to Auckland use more than 70 percent renewables in their energy mix, according to CDP research. The places where populations are at their most dense and pollution is at its highest are doing their bit to battle rising global temperatures by turning to hydro, geothermal, solar and wind to keep the lights on. Since the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees, city leaders have improved their environmental reporting and set firm emissions reductions targets, CDP said. In the U.S. 58 cities and towns, including Atlanta and San Diego, have committed to move to 100 percent clean energy. Meanwhile Burlington, Vermont, claims to be the first city in the country to get its energy from entirely renewable sources. Only a handful of the more than 100 North American cities that reported their energy mix to CDP use at least 70 percent renewable energy, while a majority of Latin American cities that reported passed that threshold. “Many cities in the developing world have capitalized on their local natural resources. This pioneering activity has largely been driven by local economic needs and political will,” said Kyra Appleby, director of cities at CDP.

Note: An interactive map of the world's greenest cities is available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A carbon tax killed coal in the UK. Natural gas is next.
2018-02-01, Quartz
https://qz.com/1192753/a-carbon-tax-killed-coal-in-the-uk-natural-gas-is-next/

In 2012, the UK ranked 20th out of a list of 33 rich countries in terms of low-carbon electricity use. In 2017, it jumped to 7th. No other country has ever climbed up the rankings so quickly. How did the UK manage it? It imposed a carbon tax. The carbon tax, or the carbon floor price as policymakers refer to it, was introduced in 2013. It stands at Ł18 ($25) per ton of carbon dioxide emitted in producing electricity. As a member of the EU’s emissions trading scheme (for now), UK electricity providers also pay a market-based price for carbon credits, which is about Ł5 per ton of CO2. After the tax was introduced, it became much more expensive to burn coal, which produces about twice the emissions per unit of energy as natural gas. The carbon floor price only applies at the point of generation. That means, only UK producers are required to pay it. In normal conditions, this would mean that the interconnectors would have been able to include bids from cheaper dirty fossil fuel generation outside the UK. As it happens, however, France, Norway, and Belgium generate a very high proportion of electricity from low-carbon sources. Even the Netherlands, which only gets 15% of its electricity from renewable sources, can provide a lot of low-carbon electricity on windier days. With the carbon floor price probably set to increase after 2020, the clear direction the UK’s electricity market is headed is away from fossil fuels.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Computer Uses Light—Not Electricity—To Train AI Algorithms
2018-02-20, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/this-computer-uses-lightnot-electricityto-train-a...

William Andregg ushers me into the cluttered workshop of his startup Fathom Computing. Inside [a bulky black box is] a prototype computer that processes data using light, not electricity, and it’s learning to recognize handwritten digits. In other experiments the device learned to generate sentences in text. Andregg claims this is the first time such complex machine-learning software has been trained using circuits that pulse with laser light, not electricity. The company is working to shrink its [prototype], which covers a few square feet of workbench, to fit into a standard cloud server. Fathom hopes the technology will become one of the shovels of the artificial-intelligence gold rush. Tech companies, particularly large cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft, spend heavily on computer chips to power machine-learning algorithms. Fathom’s founders are betting this hunger for more powerful machine learning will outstrip the capabilities of purely electronic computers. “Optics has fundamental advantages over electronics,” says William Andregg. You’re already reaping the benefits of using light instead of electricity to work with data. Telecommunications companies move our web pages and selfies over long distances by shooting lasers down optical fiber. Optical computers aren’t likely to power your laptop or smartphone any time soon. Fathom’s prototype is still too bulky, for one thing. But the technology does look to be a decent match for the main work that chips perform in AI projects based on artificial neural networks.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Homeboy Humility: Growing Stronger And Better By Listening
2017-12-21, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbaldoni/2017/12/21/homeboy-humility-growing-...

If you want to help, you first need to listen. That is a philosophy that Father Greg Boyle, S.J., founder of Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles, employs. “If you're humble, you'll ask the poor, what would help you? But if you're led by hubris, then you tell the poor, here's what your problem is; here's how you fix yourself.” Homeboy Industries was founded more than 30 years ago as a means of providing employment to gang members in East LA. Few businesses would hire ex-gang members so Fr. Greg, Jesuit pastor of the Dolores Mission the poorest mission in the LA archdiocese, created a business to provide those jobs. Today Homeboy serves not just the neighborhood but all of Los Angeles County with its restaurants, coffee shops, bakery and even a tattoo removal clinic. “Homeboy has ... listened to the formerly gang-involved.” It asks the question: “what can we do that is concretely helpful?” Fr. Greg [said] on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” No one likes to be told how to get better; they want to participate in the process. That begins with conversation, a discovery of what the other is feeling and how he or she can help in his own improvement. Often the best answers come from the people you serve, as it does with Homeboy Industries. Its tattoo removal clinic came about because ex-gang members wanted to remove tattoos no longer relevant to their current lives, and which in some instances may prevent them from getting hired. Removing a tattoo is a long and painful process but it can serve as a kind of rebirth.

Note: Watch an inspiring video on this program which has transformed the lives of thousands of gang members. Readers interested in learning more about Father Greg Boyle and his work can check out his new memoir, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship.


Homeboy Industries' business model: A way out of gang life
2013-09-05, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/us/gang-rehabilitation-program/index.html

There are few people who can say their job saved them, but former gang member Rafael Jimenez says he's one of them. "If I wasn't working here I'd be on the streets looking for problems or, even worse, selling drugs," Jimenez told CNN en Espańol. The 44-year-old works as a baker at Homeboy Bakery, part of Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles, the largest gang rehabilitation program in the country. The program was founded in 1992 by Father Greg Boyle, who has counseled and mentored thousands of gang members. This month marks Jimenez's one-year anniversary of getting off of drugs and out of the 4th Street Flats gang in East L.A. "I knew if I kept going at it, I would be dead or in jail. I can't believe I wasted all that time," Jimenez said. "And, now I'm baking pastries with rivals that I would've never spoken to just last year." Homeboy Industries' program has been so successful that other gang rehabilitation programs around the country are now looking to them as a model. Ex-gang member Mario Lundes, weary of being in and out of jail, decided to make a positive change and seek out a regular job. But extensive tattoo removal from his forehead, cheeks and neck -- a service Homeboy Industries offers -- would be a vital part of the process. Homeboy Industries has helped thousands of high-risk youths with a variety of free programs: mental health counseling, GED classes, job training and legal services. The program's motto: "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."

Note: Watch an inspiring video on this program which has transformed the lives of thousands of gang members.


'Calls From Home': How one Kentucky radio station connects inmates and families
2018-02-09, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2018/0209/Calls-From-Home-How-one-Kentu...

Tom Sexton leans forward into a microphone. “Coming up by request,” he says in a softened-for-radio Appalachian drawl, “going out to Sporty Black from his wife, this is Kendrick Lamar with ‘LOVE.’ ” The melodic R&B track then begins to emanate from the heart of this small eastern Kentucky town. Tonight’s shows are targeted for a very specific audience. People like “Sporty Black.” More than 5,000 men are incarcerated in the six federal and state prisons in the broadcasting range of WMMT. Every week, for almost 20 years, the station has produced a show called “Calls From Home” that broadcasts recorded messages from the inmates’ friends and family members. WMMT bills itself as “a 24 hour voice of mountain people,” and as far as the station is concerned, if the inmates can tune in, then they are mountain people too. “They’re here and part of our communities,” says Elizabeth Sanders, WMMT’s co-general manager. “Anything we can do to help make the barriers between them and their families a little bit less, then we’re fulfilling part of our mission as the radio station here,” she adds. The show has become something of a national phenomenon. Every Monday night calls flood in to the station. Some of the calls come with children discussing a report card, a “happy birthday” rendition, or more somber family news. The costs of calling prisons directly ... have been rising for years, reaching in excess of $10 a minute. “Having a toll-free number can help families keep in touch a little bit more,” says Sanders.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Patagonia Steps Up Environmental Activism With 'Dating Site' For Grassroots Projects
2018-02-07, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/melissaanders/2018/02/07/patagonia-steps-up-envi...

Things are so bad for the planet right now that it’s easy to get depressed about it, says Patagonia Inc. founder Yvon Chouinard. The cure for that depression, he says, is action. So he launched Patagonia Action Works, which ... connects individuals with opportunities to support and get involved with grassroots environmental groups. It matches people with events and volunteering opportunities in their area as well as petitions they can sign and ways to donate money. Participating organizations cover issues of land, water, climate, communities and biodiversity. The Ventura, Calif.-based outdoor clothing retailer is no stranger to activism. It has given $89 million in cash and in-kind donations to environmental groups since 1985 as part of a pledge to donate at least 1% of sales to preserve and restore nature. “Patagonia’s reason for existence is to force government and corporations to take action in solving our environmental problems,” Chouinard said in a video promoting the new program. The company made headlines recently for taking a stand against President Donald Trump’s action to reduce the size of two national monuments. Patagonia’s latest move comes as a number of other companies delve into the politically charged realm of activism, including Tiffany and Co., which urged Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate Agreement, and REI, which also spoke out against the shrinking of public lands.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Safe, happy and free: does Finland have all the answers?
2018-02-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/12/safe-happy-and-free-does-finlan...

Western Europe’s last naturally caused famine ended 150 years ago. In ... Finland, more than a quarter of a million people – nearly 10% of the population – starved to death. Last year ... Finland was ranked, by assorted international indices, the most stable, the safest and the best-governed country in the world. It was also the third wealthiest, the third least corrupt, the second most socially progressive and the third most socially just. Finland’s judicial system is the most independent in the world, its police the most trusted, its banks the soundest, its companies the second most ethical, its elections the second freest, and its citizens enjoy the highest levels of personal freedom, choice and wellbeing. The Nordic country’s 5.5 million inhabitants are also the third most gender-equal in the world and have the fifth lowest income inequality. Their babies are the least underweight, their kids feel the most secure, and their teens perform the second best at reading (only third at science, though). In a century and a half, they seem to have done rather well. The magic sauce ... seems based mainly on basic virtues: self-confidence, cooperation, equality, respect for education, trust. At bottom and in practice, says [Finnish journalist] Anu Partanen ... it boils down to a different quality of relationship. She calls it ... the Nordic theory of love. “In a society, it means policy choices aimed at ensuring the greatest possible degree of independence, freedom and opportunity for everyone.”

Note: Watch this 10-minute video about how Finland completely turned around it's education system to become #1 in the world, largely by cutting out homework. The above article is part of an inspiring new Guardian series investigating the things that are going right in the world.


Orcas can imitate human speech, research reveals
2018-01-30, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jan/31/orcas-killer-whales-can-imita...

New research reveals that orcas are able to imitate human speech, in some cases at the first attempt, saying words such as “hello”, “one, two” and “bye bye”. The creatures are already known for their ability to copy the movements of other orcas, with some reports suggesting they can also mimic the sounds of bottlenose dolphins and sea lions. “We wanted to see how flexible a killer whale can be in copying sounds,” said [study co-author] Josep Call. “We thought what would be really convincing is to present them with something that is not in their repertoire – and in this case ‘hello’ [is] not what a killer whale would say.” Only a fraction of the animal kingdom can mimic human speech, with brain pathways and vocal apparatus both thought to determine whether it is possible. “That is what makes it even more impressive – even though the morphology [of orcas] is so different, they can still produce a sound that comes close to what another species, in this case us, can produce,” said Call. Wikie, a 14-year-old female orca ... had previously been trained to copy actions performed by another orca when given a human gesture. After first brushing up Wikie’s grasp of the “copy” command, she was ... exposed to five orca sounds she had never heard before. Finally, Wikie was exposed to a human making three of the orca sounds, as well as six human sounds. Wikie was often quickly able to copy the sounds, whether from an orca or a human, with all of the novel noises mimicked within 17 trials.

Note: Learn more about the amazing world of marine mammals.


Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious?
2018-02-02, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/science/plants-consciousness-anesthesia.html

Your houseplant salutes the sun each morning. At night, it returns to center. You probably don’t think much of it. But what about all the signs of plant intelligence that have been observed? Under poor soil conditions, the pea seems to be able to assess risk. The sensitive plant can make memories and learn. And plants can communicate with one another and with caterpillars. Now, a study published recently in Annals of Botany has shown that plants can be frozen in place with a range of anesthetics, including the types that are used when you undergo surgery. Insights gleaned from the study may help doctors better understand the variety of anesthetics used in surgeries. But the research also highlights that plants are ... perhaps less different from animals than is often assumed. “Plants are not just robotic, stimulus-response devices,” said [study co-author] Frantisek Baluska, a plant cell biologist. Plants ... take in information from their environment and produce their own anesthetics like menthol, ethanol and cocaine, similar to how humans release chemicals that dull pain during trauma. Our anesthetics work on plants too, the study confirmed, although what exactly they’re working on is unclear. The electrical activity that moves across neurons is thought by some scientists to contribute to human consciousness. If electrical activity is being disrupted by anesthetic in plants, too, causing them to “lose consciousness,” does that mean, in some way, that they are conscious?

Note: Don't miss a time-lapse video of a pea plant responding to an anesthetic at the link above. And check out a fascinating video of plants making music. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Iceland’s new PM is a 41-year-old anti-war feminist and environmentalist
2017-02-02, Metro.co.uk
http://metro.co.uk/2017/12/02/icelands-new-pm-is-a-41-year-old-anti-war-femin...

Iceland’s new prime minister is a 41-year-old anti-war feminist, democratic socialist, who is also an expert on crime literature. Katrin Jakobsdottir plans to make the small island nation a world-leader in fighting climate change. Her Left-Green Movement will lead a coalition government with two parties across the political spectrum in the hope it gives Iceland some ‘stability’. The country has been rocked by a cycle of scandals that have triggered three elections in the past four years. A snap election was called by former PM Bjarni Benediktsson in September over a furore caused by his father suggesting a paedophile who repeatedly raped his stepdaughter for 12 years should have his ‘honour restored’. Less than a year earlier, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped aside as prime minister amid public fury over the Panama Papers revealing his family had sheltered money in offshore tax havens. In an attempt to break with the past, Jakobsdottir campaigned on a platform of restoring trust in government and leveraged a boom in tourism to increase public spending. She is now among the world’s youngest leaders. Jakobsdottir’s cabinet will be comprised of three members of her Left-Green party, five from the right-wing Independence Party and three from the Progressive Party. ‘In the new government, parties spanning the political spectrum from left to right intend to establish a new tone,’ a statement issued by the new prime minister’s office said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Doctors in Denmark want to stop circumcision for under-18s
2016-12-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/denmark-considering-banning-ci...

Boys should not be circumcised until they are old enough to choose for themselves, doctors in Denmark have said. The Danish Medical Association said it had considered suggesting a legal ban on the procedure for children under the age of 18, because it believed circumcision should be “an informed, personal choice” that young men make for themselves. When parents have their sons circumcised, it robs boys of the ability to make decisions about their own bodies ... the organisation said. Lise Mřller, chair of the Doctors' Association Ethics Board, said it was wrong to deny an individual the right to choose whether or not they wanted to be circumcised. The organisation said that because male circumcision is not without risk it should only be performed on children when there is a documented medical need. The doctors stopped short of calling for an all-out legal ban on the procedure, which is currently allowed but remains relatively rare in Denmark, because it said the move could have too many negative consequences. “We have discussed it thoroughly, also in our ethics committee," Ms Mřller said. "We came to the conclusion that it is difficult to predict the consequences of a ban – both for the involved boys, who could for example face bullying or unauthorised procedures with complications – and for the cultural and religious groups they belong to." The Danish Health and Medicines Authority estimates that somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 circumcisions are performed in Denmark each year.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness
2018-01-26, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/nyregion/at-yale-class-on-happiness-draws-...

A few days after registration opened at Yale for Psyc 157, Psychology and the Good Life, roughly 300 people had signed up. Within [six] more days, about 1,200 students, or nearly one-fourth of Yale undergraduates, were enrolled. The course, taught by Laurie Santos ... tries to teach students how to lead a happier, more satisfying life in twice-weekly lectures. “Students want to change, to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus,” Dr. Santos said in an interview. “If we see good habits, things like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections, we’re actually seeding change in the school’s culture.” A 2013 report by the Yale College Council found that more than half of undergraduates sought mental health care from the university during their time there. “A lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb,” said Alannah Maynez, 19, a freshman taking the course. “The fact that a class like this has such large interest speaks to how tired students are of numbing their emotions - both positive and negative - so they can focus on their work.” Psychology and the Good Life ... stands as the most popular course in Yale’s 316-year history. Dr. Santos has encouraged all students to enroll in the course on a pass-fail basis, tying into her argument that the things Yale undergraduates often connect with life satisfaction - a high grade, a prestigious internship, a good-paying job - do not increase happiness at all.

Note: Harvard, Stanford and other colleges are getting in on the action, too, as reported in this article.


Free cash for everyone? Stockton, Calif.'s mayor plans to see if it works
2017-10-27, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/27/news/economy/stockton-universal-basic-income/...

Growing up in Stockton, California, a little extra money would've meant the world to Michael Tubbs' family. Tubbs' mother worked long hours ... and still had to borrow from check cashing places to get by. "If we had $300 a month, life would be less stressful," Tubbs says. Today, Tubbs is Stockton's 27-year-old mayor. Last week, he announced the launch of an experimental program that will give people like his mom about $500 a month, with no strings attached. Stockton will likely become the first city in the nation to test out a version of universal basic income, an economic system that would regularly provide all residents enough money to cover basic expenses, with no conditions or restrictions. The concept of universal basic income - or UBI - has been around for decades. Martin Luther King advocated for it in 1967 to create a minimum standard of living. Up until recently, it has mostly been a subject of discussion among academics. But universal basic income has started to gain traction as poverty has grown and fears of automation killing jobs have mounted. Large-scale trials began this year in Finland and Canada to test whether the program improves outcomes like health and employment. A ... non-profit called the Economic Security Project has committed $1 million to the Stockton effort, with funding from donors that include Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Backers hope larger cities and states will eventually adopt universal basic income programs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Chile creates national parks from donated land
2018-01-30, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-42868690

Chile has officially designated a national park network including land privately donated by a US couple. The government signed a deal with Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, who worked with late husband Doug for decades to protect areas of Patagonia. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet called the signing an "unprecedented preservation effort". Tompkins Conservation, the not-for-profit organisation set up by the couple, said the area being protected was roughly the size of Switzerland. Their donation is thought to be the largest of land by private owners to a country. The move will create five new national parks, and expand three others. In total it adds about 10 million acres of land, about one tenth of which was donated by the Tompkins. The Chilean government wants the string of national parks to span a tourist route of more than 1,500 miles (2,400km) across the country. Mrs Tompkins was formerly the CEO of outdoor brand Patagonia, and her husband was one of the founders of outdoor brands The North Face and Espirit. They relocated to Chile in 1994 to work on conservation, buying up land to ecologically preserve as wilderness. Kristine Tompkins signed an agreement with the national government in March 2017, following her husband's accidental death. Monday's designation was the latest act of natural protection by the outgoing Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. In 2017 an area off the coast of Easter Island was designated as one of the world's largest marine protection zones.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


What it's like to live in a well-governed country
2018-01-08, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180107-what-its-like-to-live-in-a-well-gove...

What makes a country well-run? Whether minimising corruption or spearheading educational and medical initiatives, governments around the world use different policies to facilitate a high-functioning society. To quantify the effectiveness of these policies, indexes like the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, the World Bank’s Governance Index and the Social Progress Index survey residents, compile publicly available statistics and rank countries based on their performance across different categories. Certain patterns emerge across all three, with the same countries consistently at the top for their progressive social policies, trust in government and effective justice system. Denmark inches out its neighbours (and blows away the rest of the world) with near-perfect scores on the ‘Basic Human Needs’ ranking in the 2017 Social Progress Index, which includes meeting the nutritional and medical needs of its citizens and giving access to basic knowledge and communication. These benefits are offered to more than just native-born residents. “The general health and social system is well-developed and accessible to anyone living in Denmark, and as a student you can get financial assistance and free language classes,” explained German native Anne Steinbach. The social system also relies on a sense of trust, rather than paperwork. While life in Denmark can be expensive compared to other European countries, with the highest collective taxes in the EU to pay for these services, the benefits outweigh the costs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Pineapple Fund: why is an anonymous bitcoin millionaire giving away $86m?
2017-12-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/24/pineapple-fund-anonymous-b...

What would you do if you had $86m? It’s a welcome dilemma for some of bitcoin’s early adopters thanks to the cryptocurrency’s meteoric rise. One generous bitcoiner has decided to follow the lead of Bill Gates and establish a philanthropic purse, the Pineapple Fund. The founder, known only as Pine, declared in mid December “I’m donating 5,057 BTC to charitable causes!” and since then has given away $7,550,000 in bitcoin to charities and causes around the world, with a view to dispersing the remaining bitcoin over the next several months. “I’m happy that I can help change the world for the better,” Pine says in a phone conversation on condition of anonymity. The nine recipients of the largest bitcoin charitable donations are a collection of nonprofits including medical researchers, those providing poverty-stricken communities with basic necessities, and technology-related causes. “The $1m donation will support the work we do standing up for user privacy and free expression, and defending civil rights in the digital world,” [says a spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation]. The collection of charities also includes Watsi, a platform committed to taking the US towards universal healthcare, the SENS Research Foundation that works to develop cures for degenerative diseases, and the Water Project which helps to establish safe water sources in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another $1m gift will help fund advanced clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Note: For more on this awesome donor, see this CNBC article and this one from Newsweek.


Some Things About Tech Were Good in 2017. No, Really.
2017-12-27, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/27/technology/tech-roundup-2017.html

For much of Silicon Valley, 2017 felt like a nonstop parade of scandal. As many of Silicon Valley’s largest companies were wreaking havoc, numerous people and organizations used technology to advance important causes and address large-scale problems. These projects do not always make headlines, but they show what’s possible when technologists use their powers for good. So I’m presenting the first-ever Actually Good Tech Awards, to highlight a handful of tech efforts that produced real societal benefits this year. ESight and Aira ... are taking advantage of recent advances in mobile and imaging technology to help visually impaired people navigate the world. These technologies do not yet allow blind people to drive vehicles or perform other complicated tasks, but they can make their everyday life much easier. Tiffani Ashley Bell ... learned that thousands of low-income residents of Detroit were having their running water shut off because of unpaid bills. So she [set up] an online platform that matched willing donors with Detroit households with unpaid water bills. In 2017, the [nonprofit organization, now known as the Human Utility] paid more than $120,000 toward water bills for nearly 300 families. Bail Bloc ... is an app that uses your computer’s spare processing power to produce a cryptocurrency called Monero, which is [then] donated to the Bronx Freedom Fund, an organization that helps pay bail fees for low-income New Yorkers who have been charged with misdemeanors, so that they can get out of jail while they await trial.

Note: Don't miss the complete list of "Actually Good Tech Awards" recipients at the link above.


New Jersey’s New Governor Outlines Plans, Signs Executive Order Promoting Equal Pay For Women
2018-01-16, CBS (Philadelphia affiliate)
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2018/01/16/phil-murphy-to-take-oath/

One-time Wall Street financier Phil Murphy became New Jersey’s 56th governor in a ceremony at the Trenton War Memorial, complete with a traditional 21-gun salute. The new governor wasted little time in getting to work. Murphy’s first act? Signing an executive order promoting equal pay for women. It’s just part of the change Murphy promised to the people of the state. “They voted to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for every New Jersey family,” the governor said, “and they elected a governor and a lieutenant governor and a legislature with a duty to carry out this promise.” Murphy’s half-hour address hit on all the major themes of the campaign that led him to this moment, providing a better break for all of New Jersey’s 9 million people. That includes everything from requiring the wealthy to pay more in taxes to improving jobs and education, and, yes, legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The governor also noted the diversity of his administration, from the first black woman to serve as lieutenant governor in Sheila Oliver to the first Sikh to be appointed attorney general anywhere in America.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Half of all new cars in Norway are now electric or hybrid
2017-03-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/norway-half-new-cars-electric...

Norway said that electric or hybrid cars represented half of new registrations in the country so far in 2017, as Norway continues its trend towards becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries in the world. According to figures from the Road Traffic Information Council (OFV) ... sales of electric cars accounted for 17.6 per cent of new vehicle registrations in January and hybrid cars accounted for 33.8 per cent, for a combined 51.4 per cent. Norway already has the highest per capita number of all-electric cars in the world. The milestone is also particularly significant as a large proportion of Norway’s funds rely on the country’s petroleum industry. "This is a milestone on Norway's road to an electric car fleet," Climate and Environment minister Vidar Helgesen [said]. “The transport sector is the biggest challenge for climate policy in the decade ahead. We need to reduce (CO2) emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030," he added. Last year, the government agreed on a proposal to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered car starting in 2025. It also aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of new cars to 85 grams per kilometre by 2020 - a goal it has almost achieved: : the figure stood at 88 grams in February compared to 133 grams when the decision was taken five years ago. In December, Norway registered its 100,000th electric car. Norway has also become the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The EU Targets Plastic Waste as it Aims to Make All Packaging Recyclable by 2030
2018-01-17, Fortune
http://fortune.com/2018/01/17/eu-pushes-plastic-recycling/

European Union regulators declared a new policy agenda Tuesday starting with the goal that all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable or reusable by 2030. The European Commission appears to be scrambling to curb plastic usage and increase recycling after China announced it would no longer accept imports of “foreign garbage” starting in 2018. The urgent goal is part of a plan to develop a new, sustainable “plastic economy,” which could potentially involve levying taxes and modernizing plastics production to kickstart a behavior change, the European Commission said. Europeans produce 25 million tons of plastic waste annually, but less than 30% of it is currently recycled. “If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans” Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for sustainable development, said. Brussels is zeroing in on single-use plastics in particular, hoping to reduce if not eliminate items like straws, bottles that do not degrade, coffee cups, lids and stirrers, cutlery and takeaway containers. “Single-use plastics ... take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again,” Timmermans said. In addition to promoting consumer education, the commission said it will facilitate easy access to tap water throughout Europe in order to reduce the demand for bottled water.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Iceland becomes first supermarket to go 'plastic-free' for own brand products in landmark announcement
2018-01-15, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/iceland-plastic-free-packagin...

Iceland has become the first major retailer to commit to eliminating plastic packaging for all its own brand products. The retailer said it would be replacing plastic with packaging including paper and pulp trays and paper bags. Iceland said it ... aimed to complete the move by the end of 2023. It has already removed plastic disposable straws from its own label range and new food ranges set to hit the shelves in early 2018 will use paper-based rather than plastic food trays. A survey for Iceland revealed overwhelming public support for a shift away from plastic by retailers, with 80% of 5,000 people polled saying they would endorse a supermarket's move to go plastic-free. Iceland managing director, Richard Walker, said: "The world has woken up to the scourge of plastics. "A truckload is entering our oceans every minute causing untold damage to our marine environment and ultimately humanity - since we all depend on the oceans for our survival. The onus is on retailers, as leading contributors to plastic packaging pollution and waste, to take a stand and deliver meaningful change." As it was technologically and practically possible to create less environmentally harmful alternatives, "there really is no excuse any more for excessive packaging that creates needless waste and damages our environment", he added. Last week, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years as part of the government's environmental strategy, with calls for supermarkets to introduce "plastic-free" aisles.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why incoming asteroids shouldn't keep you up at night
2017-12-11, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2017/1211/Why-incoming-asteroids-shouldn-t-...

Every once in awhile, as we Earthlings strive to explore the cosmos, we’re reminded that bits of the cosmos occasionally visit Earth, too. One such reminder came in the form of a blazing green fireball streaking across the predawn New Jersey sky earlier this month. Police dashcam footage ... shows a meteor plunging into the Earth's atmosphere and exploding in a brilliant flash. On Nov. 9 ... an asteroid designated 2017 VL2 came within 75,000 miles of Earth. Despite news reports that the asteroid ... carried enough energy to obliterate New York City, the asteroid – the 48th known one to pass within the moon's orbit this year so far – would have actually burned up in the atmosphere, causing little, if any, damage. “The most important message to get across is that asteroid impacts are extremely unlikely,” Paul Chodas, manager for the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. In 1998, Congress mandated that NASA find 90 percent of asteroids more than 1 kilometer wide. NASA met this goal in 2011, but in the meantime, Congress expanded its mission to include include 90 percent of asteroids 450 feet or larger. Scientists say they have detected about a third of these so far. The bigger the asteroid, the lower the chance of impact: The odds of an asteroid 1 kilometer wide hitting Earth in any given year are 1 in about 500,000, and even an object 450 feet wide has just a 1-in-30,000 chance of impact.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New York City records fewest murders, lowest crime rate in decades
2018-01-05, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/US/york-city-records-fewest-murders-lowest-crime-rate/s...

New York City ended the year with the fewest murders and the lowest crime figures in decades, the mayor and the NYPD said Friday. There were 290 murders in the nation's largest city in 2017, compared to 335 killings the previous year, said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a news conference. “No one believed it was possible to get under 300 murders,” de Blasio said. The murder rate is a far cry from 1990, when 2,245 people were killed in the city. The numbers of other crimes - shootings, robberies, burglaries and grand larcenies auto - also dropped, officials said. “To see crime levels as low as we have today, you’d have to go back to 1951, when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn and a slice was 15 cents,” de Blasio added. Overall, 2017 was the fourth straight year of declines in crime in New York City. According to NYPD records there were 96,517 crimes reported last year, compared with 102,052 in 2016, a drop of 5.4 percent.

Note: Major media consistently under-reports the remarkable drop in crime in the US. In 1990, there were nearly twice as many reported violent crimes as there were in 2016.


Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History
2018-01-06, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/06/opinion/sunday/2017-progress-illiteracy-po...

2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity. A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before. The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell. We journalists focus on bad news - we cover planes that crash, not those that take off - but the backdrop of global progress may be the most important development in our lifetime. Every day, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by 217,000, according to ... Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs a website called Our World in Data. Every day, 325,000 more people gain access to electricity. And 300,000 more gain access to clean drinking water. As recently as the 1960s, a majority of humans had always been illiterate and lived in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 15 percent are illiterate, and fewer than 10 percent live in extreme poverty. In another 15 years, illiteracy and extreme poverty will be mostly gone. After thousands of generations, they are pretty much disappearing on our watch. Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychology professor, explores the gains in a terrific book due out next month, “Enlightenment Now,” in which he recounts the progress across a broad array of metrics, from health to wars, the environment to happiness, equal rights to quality of life.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


It's Now Illegal to Pay Men More Than Women in Iceland
2018-01-02, Fortune
http://fortune.com/2018/01/02/illegal-to-pay-men-more-than-women-iceland/

Iceland is the first country to make it illegal to pay men more than women. Equal pay policies is now mandatory for companies with 25 or more employees. Those that cannot show that they provide equal pay will be subject to fines. The law, which was passed last year, went into effect on Jan. 1. Iceland is already a leader in gender parity. The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Iceland as the top country for gender quality for the last nine years based on criteria involving economics, education, health, and politics. For example, Icelandic women make up 48% of the country’s parliament - without a quota system. Despite this, wage inequality has persisted. In 2016, thousands of women in Iceland left work at 2:38 p.m., to protest pay disparity. The time was symbolic of when woman stop receiving pay during their 9 to 5 work day compared to men. The wage gap in Iceland was 72 cents to every man’s dollar. On International Women’s Day in 2017, the country moved to change that. The tiny country, pop. 323,000, aims to completely eliminate the wage gap by 2020.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


China, Moving to Cut Emissions, Halts Production of 500 Car Models
2018-01-02, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/climate/china-cars-pollution.html

China is suspending the production of more than 500 car models and model versions that do not meet its fuel economy standards, several automakers confirmed Tuesday, the latest move by Beijing to reduce emissions in the world’s largest auto market and take the lead in battling climate change. The suspension, effective Jan. 1, would affect both domestic carmakers and foreign joint ventures ... in China, where 28 million vehicles were produced in 2016. China has dozens of small-scale automakers - some producing just a few hundred cars a year. Cui Dongshu, the secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, said that the ban would affect at most 1 percent of the Chinese market. But the government’s decision to cite fuel economy in the deregistration of so many versions at the same time is nonetheless a signal of the government’s commitment to fuel economy. The country, which for years prioritized economic growth over environmental protection ... has emerged as an unlikely bastion of climate action. “They’re sending a signal to everybody,” said Michael Dunne, president of ... a Hong Kong-based consultancy on China’s clean car market. “This shows their emissions standards have teeth.” The Chinese government has already become the world’s biggest supporter of electric cars, offering automakers numerous incentives for producing so-called new energy vehicles. Those incentives are set to decrease by 2020, to be replaced by quotas for the number of clean cars automakers must sell.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Low-carbon sources produce majority of UK electricity supply for first time ever
2018-01-03, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-energy-production-electric...

More than half of the electricity generated in the UK in 2017 came from low-carbon sources for the first time ever. Renewables and nuclear provided more electricity than all fossil fuels combined, with wind generation alone supplying twice as much energy as coal, according to analysis by Carbon Brief, a website that tracks climate change and energy policy. Wind made a greater contribution to the country’s electricity needs than coal in every month apart from January. The share from low-carbon sources doubled between 2008 and 2017, Carbon Brief said. The UK has also added wind and solar power generation rapidly, as costs have fallen. Future development will increasingly be possible without the Government subsidies that have aided the industry’s development until now. The UK also passed a series of other milestones last year, including its first day without coal power since 1882, the most electricity produced from solar power at any one moment and the most wind power produced in a day. Wind saw the biggest increase of any energy source, with supply up 31 per cent for the whole of 2017 on 2016’s level. The electricity sector has been the primary focus of renewable power generation as that power can then be used to revolutionise the other sectors, for example through the electrification of transport. Britain’s power system is the fourth cleanest in Europe and the seventh cleanest in the world.

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Where There Is Gravity, Let There Be Light
2017-10-31, National Geographic
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/10/sponsor-content-where-there-is-gr...

British designers are using the power of gravity to generate electricity, bringing safe and affordable light to people living off-grid. The kerosene that fuels most off-grid lamps is very expensive. Kerosene is also dirty and dangerous. In 2009 ... designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves were challenged to create a safe, affordable, and sustainable lamps for low-income families living off-grid. Looking beyond solar and battery power, they had a lightbulb moment about gravity. Lifting a weight creates a potential energy store which is turned into kinetic energy as the weight descends. Through the GravityLight’s innovative gear train, this kinetic energy spins a generator that produces enough electrical energy to power an LED bulb. When the light goes out, the weight is simply hoisted back up to begin again. GravityLight has been piloted in Kenya where kerosene lamps are used extensively, especially in rural areas. A 50-night roadshow, supported by International celebrities, saw GravityLight engage with communities and organizations across the country. The results were impressive, with 90% of people saying they were happy to switch from kerosene. Little wonder, as the benefits quickly stack up. The GravityLight pays for itself in just seven weeks, and delivers an immediate improvement in the air quality of the home. It is clean, robust, renewable, reliable, and safe—as well as being better for the environment, giving off no CO2 or black carbon emissions.

Note: Watch a great two-minute video on this ingenious invention.


Power Prices Go Negative in Germany, a Positive for Energy Users
2017-12-25, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/25/business/energy-environment/germany-electr...

Germany has spent $200 billion over the past two decades to promote cleaner sources of electricity. That enormous investment is now having an unexpected impact - consumers are now actually paid to use power on occasion, as was the case over the weekend. Power prices plunged below zero for much of Sunday and the early hours of Christmas Day on ... a large European power trading exchange, the result of low demand, unseasonably warm weather and strong breezes that provided an abundance of wind power on the grid. Such “negative prices” are not the norm in Germany, but they are far from rare, thanks to the country’s effort to encourage investment in greener forms of power generation. Prices for electricity in Germany have dipped below zero ... more than 100 times this year alone. Several countries in Europe have experienced negative power prices, including Belgium, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. But Germany’s forays into negative pricing are the most frequent. At times, Germany is able to export its surplus electricity to its neighbors, helping to balance the market. Still, its experiences of negative prices are often longer, and deeper, than they are in other countries. In one recent example, power prices spent 31 hours below zero during the last weekend of October. At one point, they dipped as low as minus €83, or minus $98, per megawatt-hour, a wholesale measure. Anyone who was able to hook up for a large blast of electricity at that time was paid €83 per unit for the trouble.

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'We Can Take Them Apart.' ICAN Chief Beatrice Fihn Accepts Nobel Peace Prize for Group's Work to Ban Nuclear Weapons
2017-12-10, Time
http://time.com/5056523/beatrice-fihn-nobel-peace-prize/

When Beatrice Fihn received a call on Oct. 6 informing the 35-year-old Swede that her group, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she suspected a possible prank. Not that you should blame her - ICAN is just 10 years old, and the group’s aims can seem positively fanciful: the complete elimination of the world’s roughly 15,000 nuclear warheads. But that call from the Norwegian Nobel Committee was real, and so is Fihn’s goal. ICAN, a global coalition of 440 partner organizations in 98 countries, was honored for its efforts to advance the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was successfully finalized by two-thirds of the United Nations’ 192 members this summer. The treaty—which would outlaw nuclear weapons’ use, production and possession—is now open for ratification, and will become international law after 50 countries sign on. Those countries almost certainly won’t include the members of the nuclear club: The U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain, France, Pakistan, India and North Korea. Fihn is realistic that nuclear weapons won’t be abolished overnight. But just as earlier treaties banning biological weapons and land mines eventually led to such munitions being phased out, she believes a nuclear arms ban could help turn the public against these truly horrific weapons of mass destruction.

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Tesco: No edible food will go to waste by February 2018
2017-12-23, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42464912

No food fit for human consumption will be wasted by Tesco's UK stores by the end of February, the retail giant says. Chief executive Dave Lewis told the Daily Telegraph food waste had been "talked about for years" as he unveiled the plans for all 2,654 stores. Urging other chains to follow suit, he said edible food should be used for people, not go to waste. Tesco, with all major UK supermarkets, has signed a commitment to cut food waste by one-fifth within a decade. The voluntary agreement is known as the Courtauld Commitment 2025. Mr Lewis ... said the contrast between the amount of wasted food in the UK and the situation in countries suffering food shortages was "really stark". He said: "Last year we sold 10 million tons [10.2 million tonnes] of food to the British public. But even if our waste is just 0.7% of the food, that's still 70,000 tons [71,100 tonnes] of food. Tesco says it cuts waste by selling surplus groceries with "reduced to clear" stickers and [by using] an app, FoodCloud, to scan and upload surplus food that stores have at the end of the day, which is shared with registered charities that collect the food. "That goes a long way in reducing charities' bill burdens, so they can spend the money on ... providing much more needed services," Mr Lewis said. "Food waste has been talked about for years but if Tesco can make this work, with all of our different stores across the country, then why can't everybody," he added.

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Quebec to offer basic income for 84,000 people unable to work
2017-12-10, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-proposes-basic-income-poverty-e...

Quebecers who have a severely limited capacity to work will gradually be able to access a guaranteed minimum income beginning next year, Premier Philippe Couillard's government announced. The measure is part of a $3-billion action plan to fight poverty and promote "economic inclusion," but falls short of offering a basic income for all Quebecers, a demand of many anti-poverty groups. An estimated 84,000 Quebecers would qualify for the minimum income measure, largely those with physical and intellectual disabilities. Of the 84,000, the vast majority are single people, long a neglected demographic when it comes to poverty reduction programs in Quebec. By next year, they will see their government assistance increased by at least $73 per month. That figure will reach $440 per month by 2023, bringing their annual guaranteed minimum to $18,029. Many of the measures announced Sunday either encourage low-income Quebecers to enter the job market or help them stay employed. This includes $1.8 million in funding to improve the digital skills of those living in poverty and nearly $34 million for Quebecers who receive social assistance and want to learn more skills. The measures also come one year after the Couillard government introduced controversial new rules that penalized social assistance recipients who failed to take steps to find a job. The $3 billion in spending will be spread out over several years, with the goal of helping 100,000 Quebecers out of poverty by 2023.

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A little hope for a homeless solution: Tiny housing units sprout in the Bay Area
2017-12-26, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/A-little-hope-for-a-homeless-solut...

Nearly two years after a smattering of tiny homes popped up in the Bay Area as a peculiar new way of housing homeless people, the technique is exploding from one end of the region to the other. Nearly 1,000 tiny homes or their close cousins - stackable modular housing units, typically with less than 200 square feet of living space - are being planned in San Francisco, San Jose, Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland and Santa Rosa. Tiny units can be built in a fraction of the time it takes to construct typical affordable housing, at a sliver of the cost, and that means a lot of homeless people can be housed quickly. In one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, with tent-camp problems everywhere, that prospect sounds like a game-changer to officials. Contra Costa has a $750,000 federal homelessness grant to pay for 50 stackable micro-units of supportive housing, and Richmond Mayor Tom Butt would like to see them in his city. Developer Patrick Kennedy brought a prototype of his MicroPad unit to Richmond in November, and county and city leaders say they are leaning toward choosing it. Tiny homes have also caught on in San Jose, where the City Council this month approved plans for a village of 40 of them for homeless people. “You really have two options,” said [city Councilman Raul] Peralez, who said he wants the village in his downtown district. “You can allow the homeless to live on the streets, or you can provide ... shelter [and] services. In my mind, that’s a way better option for managing this community in an organized way.”

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Star Trek's secret weapon: a scientist with a mushroom fetish bent on saving the planet
2017-12-24, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/paul-stamets-star-trek-mushroo...

On Star Trek: Discovery, the character Lieutenant Paul Stamets is an "astromycologist" - a mushroom expert in outer space who is passionate about the power of fungi. Stamets is actually named after a real U.S. scientist who ... looks nothing like his blond-haired TV counterpart, but he's just as enamoured with fungi. Over 40 years, Stamets has pioneered methods for using mushrooms to do everything from clean up oil spills to save disappearing bees by boosting their immune systems. But he's just as excited about Star Trek's potential to inspire people to create some of the science they see presented in screen - even if it does seem a bit fantastic. So were flip phones when people first saw Spock's, he said. "What I love about Star Trek is that we can actually set the stage for science fact," said Stamets. In a 2008 TED Talk, Stamets explained how fungi can be used to "save the world" by cleaning polluted soil, replacing toxic insecticides and even treating viruses. "I'm just a messenger for the mycelium," he said, referring to the network of fungal filaments under the soil that form the largest organism on earth. Mycelium can be found in every forest, but the biggest one he knows of is a massive, 970-hectare mass - bigger than 1,600 football fields - in an Oregon forest. Stamets believes this network "communicates," not unlike a fungal internet. The filaments transfer nutrients and information, and even sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxins.

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Microbrewery's edible six-pack rings create eco-friendly alternative to plastic
2016-05-25, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/food/la-dd-edible-six-pack-rings-20160524-snap-story.html

Saltwater Brewery, along with New York City-based ad agency We Believers, developed edible six-pack rings made of the wheat and barley remnants left over from making beer. We Believers co-founders Marco Vega and Gustavo Lauria were working on a production shoot. After the crew ate lunch, Lauria looked around and realized how much plastic trash they'd managed to produce. They decided to create a product that would take the responsibility off the consumer by not using any plastic in the first place. They set their sights on six-pack rings. Vega and Lauria connected with Chris Gove ... of Saltwater Brewery. Originally, Lauria had envisioned six-pack rings made of dried seaweed, but the potential environmental impact made that idea untenable. So the trio turned to something Gove had in abundance: wheat and barley remnants. Two months after that fateful ... lunch, they manufactured 500 working prototypes using a 3-D printer and produced and published a video showing off their creation. The next step for the team is to build a hydraulic mold that can handle making 200,000 units a month. At that point, Saltwater Brewery will be able to use the rings on all of the beers they make. "We feel truthful about finding a solution to use ways to reduce the carbon footprint, and that's to use byproducts of the beer processing as it exists right now," he said.

Note: A video on these pollution reducing six-pack rings is available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Once US murder capital, NYC close to record low in homicides
2017-12-21, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/killings-hit-record-low-york-terror-attack...

Even after two terror attacks and a driver's deadly rampage through Times Square, New York City is on track to smash its modern-era low for homicides in a year. Through Dec. 17, the city of 8.5 million people, once America's murder capital, had recorded 278 killings. That puts it on pace to end this year with killings down 14 percent from last year, and well below the 333 in 2014, which was the year with the fewest homicides since the city began keeping accurate crime statistics. Those numbers mean a person's odds of getting killed by homicide in tightly packed, diverse New York City this year were about the same as they were last year in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. Crime has been dropping for many years in New York, but 2017 saw substantial drops even in places like Brooklyn's 75th Police Precinct, once among the nation's most violent places. There were 126 killings in the precinct in 1993. This year ... there have been 11. A move away from heavy-handed policing may have helped drive crime lower. Arrests are down about 7 percent this year. Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan said there were other tactical changes. The department ditched specialized units within precincts and made most officers general assignment. "We're not going to arrest our way out of the problems here," said Sgt. Timothy Cecchini on a recent patrol through the 75th Precinct. "But now, we are getting the space to think about how to do our jobs and really address issues for people and talk to them."

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Companies that do good things have higher returns
2017-12-13, CNBC
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/13/dan-hesse-good-deeds-give-companies-roughly-3...

Companies that enforce employee-centric and customer-centric cultures are likely to see better financial gains than their competitors, Just Capital's Dan Hesse told CNBC on Wednesday. "What we've seen from a financial performance point of view is that you have [a] higher return on equity of these companies that do good things," Hesse, the former CEO of Sprint, told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer. Just Capital, a private, non-profit research firm, recently conducted a survey of 72,000 individuals across the United States. On Tuesday, Just Capital and Forbes released a ranking of the top 100 most "just" U.S. companies based on the results. Many leading technology companies landed high in the ranks, with Intel, Texas Instruments and Nvidia taking the top three spots. But one of the most sweeping commonalities was how consumers felt about tax reform, Hesse said. While investors might get excited about the potential for share buybacks and dividend increases if corporate tax reform is passed, consumers couldn't be less thrilled about it, Hesse said. "If there's one overall theme in the data, it's that they believe companies are focused too much on just shareholders versus all the other stakeholders," he told Cramer. "They'll say shareholders, yes, important, but your employees are No. 1 and your customers are No. 2," Hesse continued. "So are the communities, the environment, a lot of other stakeholders. So they will want to see companies take this money and invest in their employees and in some of these other areas."

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World Bank Group pledges to stop investing in oil and gas exploration
2017-12-12, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/12/12/world-bank-group-pledges-stop-...

One of the world’s most important financial and development institutions, the World Bank Group (WBG), is to stop financing oil and gas exploration, in a bid to help combat climate change. After 2019, the WBG – which includes the World Bank and three other institutions – will stop investing in upstream oil and gas, it announced at the One Planet Summit in Paris on Wednesday. The summit was hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron, with 164 world leaders, government members, business leaders and prominent figures joining him. This move marks a major change in strategy for the the WBG, which has historically sought to support extraction of natural resources. The World Bank currently holds $961m (Ł722m) of guarantee operations, set up to support private sector investments in gas and oil explorations. Upstream oil and gas constitute 2pc of the WBG portfolio. Across the World Bank Group institutions, the total portfolio is worth around $280bn. This comes as the WBG signed a $1.15bn loan with the Government of Egypt aimed at reducing fossil fuel subsidies and encouraging low-carbon energy investment. “Everyday, climate change becomes a more urgent economic, social, and existential threat to all countries and all people,” WBG president, Jim Yong Kim, said. This change in approach was to ensure “alignment of our support to countries to meet their Paris goals,” he added.

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Twenty companies join nations planning coal phase out
2017-12-12, CNBC/Reuters
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/12/reuters-america-twenty-companies-join-nations...

About 20 companies including Unilever, EDF and Iberdrola joined an international alliance of 26 nations on Tuesday pledging to phase out coal to combat global warming. At a climate summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, new members of the "Powering Past Coal Alliance" agreed that traditional coal power should be phased out by 2030 in rich nations and by 2050 in other parts of the world. Nations including Sweden, Ethiopia and Latvia, as well as the U.S. state of California, also joined the alliance as part of commitments under the 195-nation Paris climate agreement reached on December 12 two years ago. The coal phase-out plan, launched last month by about 20 governments, widened on Tuesday to companies also including BT, Engie, Kering, Diageo, Marks & Spencer, Orsted, Storebrand and Virgin Group. The companies committed to setting targets to end the use of traditional coal from the power sector, both for consumption and in generating electricity. Founder members of the alliance, launched at U.N. climate negotiations in Germany, include Britain, France, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica and the Marshall Islands. A declaration said that coal-fired power plants produce almost 40 percent of global electricity. Most of the countries in the alliance are already cutting their use of coal.

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Livia Firth’s Eco-Age – Time to End Our Fast-Fashion Binge
2017-11-23, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/livia-firths-eco-age-time-to-end-our-fa...

Thursday 16th November marked the 7th Annual Lovie Awards. This year, Livia Firth was the winner of the Emerging Entrepreneur Award for her fight for sustainable fashion as the founder and creative director of Eco-Age. Livia founded Eco-Age in 2009 as a brand consultancy providing sustainability strategies and communication tools to fashion brands. Their modus operandi is to demystify the supply chain so that brands can be sure they are working with suppliers and manufacturers that guarantee responsible sourcing and production of materials and ethical labour practices. She and her team work with several brands to help them become sustainable and conscious as part of their core operations and values – not as a token ‘project’ seeking to gain sustainability credentials. Livia points to a tactic of some large, fast-fashion brands, of producing a product or small number of products ‘sustainably’, that are then heavily promoted in an attempt to create a cleaner, greener brand image, which she dismisses as “bullshit green-washing”, to divert attention from the dirty fashion practices continuing throughout the supply chain in those brands. Eco-Age refuses to conduct business with fast-fashion businesses due to the ethical crimes being committed and their failure to provide a living wage. She comments that being awarded a Lovie is recognition of her engagement with the public ... to inform, educate and enlighten consumers.

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7,500 Strangers Just Bought A Crumbling French Chateau Together
2017-12-05, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/05/568594889/7-500-strangers-...

Crowdfunding has been used to finance films, board games, classical music, scientific research and infertility treatments. Add this to the list of things bought with collective purchasing power: A chateau in the French countryside, complete with moat. The platform used to raise the funds announced on Friday that the castle had been purchased by milliers d'internautes – that is, thousands of Internet users, who each paid at least 50 euros (about $60) to "adopt" the chateau and help restore it. In just 40 days, the site raised the 500,000 euros it needed to buy it. "It's done, it's historic!" [the announcement] said. "The Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers now belongs to thousands of Internet users. Through this collective purchase, we believe in the preservation and development of the heritage of tomorrow and prove that civic strength is always the greatest." The chateau dates to the 13th century, and it was looted and abandoned during the French Revolution. In 1809, a rich Parisian entrepreneur bought and restored it. In March 1932, a fire broke out, destroying the roof and causing the chateau to be abandoned once more. Sadly, a suite at the castle is not part of the deal for the thousands of donors, though a gift of at least 60 euros (about $71) gives each patron a membership card and "access to part of the castle." The real gift, the campaign explains, is that patrons can become investors in a company that will own the castle, and "collectively decide its future."

Note: Don't miss video of this amazing abandoned castle at the link above.


The world's greenest cruise ship will have sails
2017-12-11, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/11/technology/green-cruise-ship-ecoship

Cruise ships have a bad rap with environmentalists. One cruise operator is hoping to change that. Peace Boat, a Japanese non-governmental organization ... is working on an ambitious project to build the most sustainable vessel in the booming industry. Now in the last stages of planning, the "Ecoship" will be built by Finland's Arctech. It will cost about $500 million, financed in part by impact investors - funds, rich families and individuals who want to use their cash to improve the world as well as make a profit. A conventional cruise ship can burn hundreds of tons of heavy fuel oil a day and emit as much particulate matter as a million cars. The "Ecoship" will be fueled by a much cleaner combination of solar panels, wind power and liquid natural gas, and should produce 40% less carbon dioxide than a traditional cruise ship. "We will have 10 sails, so it will use the wind like traditional sailing ships," [Peace Boat founder Yoshioka] Tatsuya explained. The "Ecoship" is designed to mimic the shape of a whale. While smaller than many cruise ships currently being built, it will accommodate 2,000 passengers, and host conferences and events while docked. Peace Boat hopes it will set sail on its maiden voyage in 2020, and that it will quickly become a showcase for the future of the industry. "There's potential with a very green cruise ship to get a lot of attention at each port of call and that can make an impact," Tatsuya said. And he doesn't plan to stop at one ship. Demand for cruises, and green tourism is booming.

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Buy Nothing Project: free clothes, toys, food - even a wedding
2017-10-03, Seattle Times/Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sns-tns-bc-hby-buy-nothing-20171003-...

When Erika Dudra moved to Beacon Hill two years ago, she didn't know any of her neighbors. Dudra soon discovered a Facebook group called Buy Nothing Beacon Hill North. The premise of the group was simple: Offer up something that you don't need, or ask for something you do need. She joined to get rid of a couch, but then started asking for baby things. As a result, "I have a 2-year-old now who basically cost me nothing," she said. When Dudra remarried ... she threw a "Buy Nothing wedding" with a donated dress, cake, decor, flowers, an American Sign Language interpreter for deaf relatives and a wedding photographer. To participants, Buy Nothing is about more than just fighting consumer culture, though. Today, all of Dudra's best friends are people she met on Buy Nothing. Since this network was started in 2013 ... members and volunteers have spread the Buy Nothing gospel to more than half a million people in 20 countries. Buy Nothing co-founder Liesl Clark likes to say the project is one-half internet giveaway group and one-half prehistoric Himalayan economics. Inspiration comes from high up in the Himalayas, where Clark has filmed archaeology documentaries for National Geographic and the PBS series "NOVA." In 2007, Clark visited a village in the Upper Mustang area of Nepal that didn't operate on currency. Instead, the village of Samdzong operated on a "gift economy" when a villager needed something, she or he would simply ask. Residents kept communal goats and sheep and took turns watching each other's fields.

Note: Watch an inspiring video on this great project.


High schooler spreads the message that nobody should have to dine alone
2017-11-24, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/spreading-the-message-that-nobody-should-have-to...

When the lunch bell rings at Boca Raton High School in Florida, 3,400 kids spill into the courtyard and split into their social groups. But not everyone gets included. Someone always sits alone. "It's not a good feeling, like you're by yourself. And that's something that I don't want anybody to go through," said Denis Estimon. Denis is a Haitian immigrant. When he came here in first grade, he says he felt isolated - especially at lunch. So with some friends, Denis started a club called "We Dine Together." Their mission is to go into the courtyard at lunchtime to make sure no one is starving for company. For new kids especially, the club is a godsend. Since it started last year, hundreds of friendships have formed - some very unlikely. Jean Max Meradieu said he met kids he would never "ever" meet on the football team. Jean actually quit the football team - gave up all perks that come with it - just so he could spend more time with this club. "I don't mind not getting a football scholarship," Jean said. "This is what I really want to do." Just imagine how different your teenage years would have been, if the coolest kids in school all of a sudden decided you mattered. Since we first told this story, Denis has graduated from high school - but not from this mission. He's now travelling the country, opening "We Dine Together" chapters at other schools - 15 so far, with more than 100 slated for the new year. And if we're lucky, when he's done showing kids how to make outsiders feel accepted, he can teach the rest of us.

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The craze for ethical investment has reached Japan
2017-11-23, The Economist
https://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21731630-it-led-top-down...

Japan is prone to fads. One has hit finance: investing in assets screened for ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors. In 2014-16 funds invested in ESG assets grew faster in Japan than anywhere else. Today Japan’s sustainable-investment balance is $474bn, or some 3.4% of the country’s total managed assets - low compared with Europe or America, but high for Asia. The shift is driven from the top down, rather than, as elsewhere, by ethically minded individual investors. The big boost for ethical investing in Japan came from the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the world’s biggest public-sector investor, with $1.3trn of assets under management. In 2015 GPIF signed the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment. This year it invested 3% of its holdings in socially responsible assets, using three ESG indices. Smaller investors have started to follow suit. Hiromichi Mizuno, GPIF’s chief investment officer, says the decision to invest in three ESG indices is for the long-term future, rather than with an eye on short-term returns or to support government policy: “The more companies pay attention to the sustainability of the environment, society and governance, the more likely investors are to find investment opportunities in them.” Analysts say GPIF is setting a trend for sustainable investing not just in Japan but globally. It has said it wants to increase its allocations in ESG funds to 10% of its assets.

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Discover the World
2017-11-28, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/opinion/forget-trump-and-discover-the-worl...

China has been busy creating a cashless society, where people can pay for so many things now with just a swipe of their cellphones - including donations to beggars - or even buy stuff at vending machines with just facial recognition, and India is trying to follow suit. These are big trends, and in a world where data is the new oil, China and India are each creating giant pools of digitized data that their innovators are using to write all kinds of interoperable applications — for cheap new forms of education, medical insurance, entertainment, banking and finance. “It’s transforming the lives of ordinary people,” explained Alok Kshirsagar, a McKinsey partner based in Mumbai. Now any Indian farmer can just go to one of 250,000 government community centers - each with a computer, Wi-Fi and a local entrepreneur who manages it - log into a government digital services website with the farmer’s unique ID and instantly print out a birth certificate or land records needed for transactions. Similar innovations are going on in energy, explained Mahesh Kolli, president of Greenko, India’s largest renewable power provider. Greenko just built the largest solar project in the world - a 3,000-acre field of Chinese-made solar panels generating 800 megawatts powering over 600,000 homes in Andhra Pradesh. Two more such fields are on the way up. “No new coal or gas power plants are being built in India today,” he added, “not because of regulations, but because solar, wind, hydro are all now able to compete with coal plants without subsidies.”

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Painting allows blind artist to see a world of color
2016-08-12, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/12/health/turning-points-blind-artist-john-brambli...

John Bramblitt believes he could draw before he could walk. Art was also his way of coping with spending much of his childhood in the hospital. After experiencing his first seizure at age 2, Bramblitt was diagnosed with severe epilepsy. After each seizure, his vision would remain blurry for a while, but then it would clear up. What neither he nor his doctors realized was that his vision was decreasing each time. In his mid-20s, while attending college for the second time at the University of North Texas in 2001, he received the news that he would lose the rest of his vision. There was nothing doctors could do to stop it. He was completely blind by the time fall semester began. When he was alone, he felt like he was losing his mind. That's when he remembered the joy he used to gain from creating art. He began by trying to draw simple shapes, but would feel his pencil run off the paper. Bramblitt realized he needed to create a structure to follow. Fabric paint, which would create raised lines as it dried, became his new pencil, and he used oil paints to bring the paintings to life. He used [touch] to "see" what he wanted to paint and to distinguish between oil paints, because each color had a different viscosity and texture. Encouraged by the way it made him feel, he would paint for hours every day. Over the years, Bramblitt has connected with charities and started a series of workshops for artists with and without sight, young and old. He believes art should be something everyone can connect with. After all, art changed his life.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A billionaire wages war on poverty in Oklahoma
2017-11-20, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2017/1120/A-billionaire-wages-war-on-po...

Across the United States, millionaires and billionaires are increasingly stepping in with private money to try to solve problems that were once largely or exclusively the purview of government. In Detroit, philanthropic dollars helped build a streetcar system. In Kalamazoo, Mich., donors are underwriting college tuition programs. Elsewhere, philanthropists are funding the mapping of all cells in the human body to try to stamp out disease and pouring money into preventing obesity. Yet few if any of today’s megadonors are involved in as many programs targeting the poor in one city as [George] Kaiser. The oil and gas industrialist believes that every child deserves a chance to succeed and that effectively spent charitable dollars ... can unlock their potential. His foundation has given away more than $1 billion over the past decade, almost all of it in Tulsa, [Okla.]. Over the next decade, his foundation wants to target every poor child born in Tulsa, from birth until third grade, so that a patchwork of public programs – prenatal care, parenting classes, child care – becomes a seamless quilt. “They’re making a very big bet in one community on a comprehensive strategy that can be truly transformative,” says Nancy Roob, chief executive officer of the New York-based Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. The idea behind all these efforts – fighting poverty with philanthropic wealth – is one that holds great promise in an era of dazzling private fortunes, yawning economic inequality, and public-sector austerity.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Paralyzed woman hikes the Appalachian Trail
2016-07-15, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/15/health/turning-points-paralyzed-woman-hikes-app...

The 2,190-mile long Appalachian Trail is daunting even to those who have no trouble walking. That hasn't stopped Stacey Kozel. Her paralyzed body hasn't stopped her, either. The 41-year-old ... was always active until lupus stole her muscles and strength. Since her diagnosis at 19, she ... had always managed to get back on her feet - until a flare-up in March 2014. "I walked into a hospital, came out in a wheelchair," recalled Stacey Kozel. Although Kozel was able to walk stiffly with an old pair of braces, they wouldn't help her walk comfortably enough to embrace the outdoors. The chance finally came when she came across the Ottobock C-Brace. The brace functions essentially as the muscles and bones of a leg. The price tag for the technology was steep: $75,000 each. Kozel's doctors and therapists knew that getting these braces covered by insurance would be an uphill climb. When her claim was finally approved after 12 months, she was "in shock." Three days after Kozel got her braces, Joey Pollak, Kozel's orthopedist, got a call saying Kozel was in a 5K race. "To say Stacey is an overachiever is an understatement," said Pollak. What Pollak did not know was an idea forming in Kozel's head. She wanted to show insurance companies how useful the braces can be for those who have lost their mobility. She set her mind on the Appalachian Trail, just two months after she received her braces. Now, with support from her orthopedist, her mother and strangers along the way, she is slowly approaching her destination.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Triple amputee doctor: Disability doesn't define you
2016-06-22, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/22/health/turning-points-kellie-lim/index.html

If you had asked me 20 years ago where I would be, I never would have imagined I would be a physician working at UCLA Health, one of the best medical centers in the country. For over 25 years, my physical disability threatened to define who I was and what others thought I could become. I contracted meningococcal disease at 8 years of age. The infection overwhelmed my body's defenses, and I became a triple amputee. The disease left me with just enough to survive and carry on: two full fingers of the left hand, the thumb and ring finger. The first few years were physically and emotionally grueling; I was in and out of the hospital for surgical procedures to make my lower limbs fit better into prosthetic legs. I couldn't walk for nearly three years. I grew so quickly, my prosthetic legs could not keep up. My father would give me piggyback rides from the car to our house. My mother, who became blind as a teen, learned how to help me dress and put on my prosthetic legs every morning for school. My younger brother, Tarring, would help bring things to me since my mobility was limited. And my older sister, Nellie, was and is my inspiration and role model. I have been extremely lucky to have a strong and resilient family. I was lucky to be in a place where I had great medical care and where I had a community of friends and schools that supported my recovery and believed in my ability to succeed despite my disability. But luck is only part of my success; it takes courage, determination, honesty and integrity to pursue your dreams.

Note: Dr. Kellie Lim, author of this article received her medical training from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. After getting her medical degree, she completed her residency in pediatrics before pursuing fellowship training in allergy & immunology and pharmacology. Today, she works as an allergist-immunologist at UCLA Health. Explore a treasure trove of summaries of news articles on incredibly inspiring disabled persons.


The first New Yorkers go to college tuition-free
2017-09-08, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/07/pf/college/new-york-excelsior-scholarship-fre...

New York's Excelsior Scholarship is the first of its kind. It covers the cost of tuition for qualifying students who are enrolled in a two- or four-year degree program at any of the state's 88 public colleges and university campuses. Plans for the scholarship were announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January. At first, students planning to attend college this fall didn't know whether it would become reality in time. It was officially approved by the legislature in April. When Governor Cuomo announced the program he said that college, like high school, "should always be an option even if you can't afford it." While similar programs in other states have made tuition free for community college students, the Excelsior Scholarship is the first to include those pursuing a four-year degree. The scholarship could save students as much as $27,000 over four years by cutting out tuition costs. The award doesn't cover fees charged by the school, or room and board. Students must also agree to live in state after college for the same number of years they received the scholarship, or it will be converted to a loan. Bonnie Tang, [a] Stony Brook freshman, is commuting from her home in Brooklyn, saving her about $13,000 in room and board costs. She'll have to buy a monthly train pass [and] pay about $2,560 in fees this year. But everything else is free. "My tuition is paid for and that saves me a lot of money," she said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The ‘Medicine Baba’ Goes Door to Door
2012-04-25, New York Times
https://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/the-medicine-baba-goes-door-to-door/

The “Medicine Baba,” Omkar Nath Sharma, 75, spends his days knocking on doors in Delhi’s upper and middle class neighborhoods, collecting their leftover medicines and giving them to the poor. Mr. Sharma, a former medical technician ... starts his day at 6 a.m., when he leaves his rented home in Manglapuri, a southern Delhi suburb, and travels by buses on his senior citizen pass to wealthier parts of the city. He has built up a pool of regular contributors in neighborhoods like Green Park, who he calls on when they have medicines they no longer need. Wearing an orange shirt that says “Mobile medicine bank for poor patients,” he picks up medicines that he estimates are worth 200,000 rupees, about $3,860, a month, and then distributes them to individuals and charitable clinics for no charge. Mr. Sharma knows that loosely distributing medicine brings real risks, so he said he will only give them out if a patient has a prescription from a doctor. Vimla Rani, a 47-year-old maid, said she is alive because of Sharma’s medicines, which help to control her asthma. “I keep on getting inhalers and other medicines from Medicine Baba,” she said. “Thousands of poor people die as they can’t afford expensive medicines, while at the same time unused medicines worth millions get wasted,” Mr. Sharma said. He also distributes medicine to more than a dozen nongovernmental organizations.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Evidence of Abundance: Curing Addiction and Disease
2014-08-27, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-diamandis/evidence-of-abundance-9-c_b_57...

Below are two powerful graphs in “Health Abundance” I wanted to share this week. First is the massive reduction in smoking from 45 percent in the 1960s to 25 percent today. The bad news is that smoking is still the #1 preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is about one in five deaths. Smoking causes more deaths each year than all of these combined: HIV, alcohol, car accidents and guns. Second, is a look at the reduction of global malaria deaths, and the increase in funding allocated for research and development to cure malaria. As medical research continues and technology enables new breakthroughs, there will be a day when Malaria and most all major deadly diseases are eradicated on Earth. I hope you enjoyed this week’s Evidence of Abundance.

Note: See a great booklet filled with inspiring graphs showing how our world is gradually becoming ever more abundant.


Ozone hole over Antarctica shrinks to smallest peak since 1988
2017-11-03, CBS News/Associated Press
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ozone-hole-antarctica-shrivels-smallest-peak/

The ozone hole over Antarctica shrank to its smallest peak since 1988, NASA said Thursday. The huge hole in Earth's protective ozone layer reached its maximum this year in September, and this year NASA said it was 7.6 million square miles wide. The hole size shrinks after mid-September. "In the past, we've always seen ozone at some stratospheric altitudes go to zero by the end of September," said Bryan Johnson, NOAA atmospheric chemist. "This year our balloon measurements showed the ozone loss rate stalled by the middle of September and ozone levels never reached zero." This year's maximum hole is more than twice as big as the United States, but it's 1.3 million square miles less than last year and 3.3 million square miles smaller than 2015. Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said stormy conditions in the upper atmosphere warmed the air and kept chemicals chlorine and bromine from eating ozone. He said scientists haven't quite figured out why some years are stormier - and have smaller ozone holes - than others. "It's really small this year. That's a good thing," Newman said. Newman said this year's drop is mostly natural but is on top of a trend of smaller steady improvements likely from the banning of ozone-eating chemicals in a 1987 international treaty. The ozone hole hit its highest in 2000 at 11.5 million square miles.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


101-Year-Old Credits Vegan Diet For His Longevity
2015-10-15, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/101-year-old-credits-vegan-diet-for-his-...

A 101-year-old California heart surgeon who retired just five years ago may be the epitome of “you are what you eat.” Dr. Ellsworth Wareham credits his vegan lifestyle with being his fountain of youth. He says it’s why he is still sharp-minded, enjoys good balance and drives. “I don’t have any trouble with my joints, my hands are steady, my balance is good, I don’t have to walk with a cane,” he [said]. Wareham lives in Loma Linda, California, which is one of five so-called Blue Zones, so named by longevity researcher Dan Buettner because people tend to live longer, healthier lives within them. Residents of Loma Linda, many of whom like Wareham are Seventh Day Adventists, have a life expectancy that’s nine to 11 years greater than that of other Americans. Seventh Day Adventists avoid smoking and alcohol, include exercise in their lifestyle and follow a vegetarian diet. The city of Loma Linda ... has several community programs in place that support its older residents. Loma Linda men in particular live six to seven years longer than the average American man. As for Dr. Wareham, he said he has “never cared for animal products,” so maintaining a vegan lifestyle was “a very easy thing” for him to do. But while what you eat certainly impacts your health, even Buettner has noted that the Blue Zones have other longevity-increasing factors.

Note: Watch a short video interview with this amazing man.


In NYC, A Teenager Crawls Over High Beams To Gently Talk To, Hold And Comfort A Suicidal Stranger
2017-08-29, Daily Kos
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/8/29/1694399/-In-NYC-A-Teenager-Crawls-...

At a subway station [in New York City] a despondent young woman climbed over a railing and crawled over open girders that were 25 feet above the ground and over 5 feet apart. And began sobbing. According to a witness, Michal Klein, "The only thing I overheard was the young girl saying nobody cares about her." Then a young man on the first level saw her, and ran up to the second floor. He climbed and crawled over the beams to where she was sitting. He began talking to her quietly. Then he put his arm around her. After a minute, she put her head on his shoulder. They were up there for almost ten minutes before the fire department arrived. They both crawled back over the ledge ... holding hands the entire time. She was then taken away by ambulance to the hospital. And this young man picked up his backpack, got on a subway, and left. "It was just like a random person who went over to keep her calm," [said Klein]. "He actually cared enough, whoever he was, to help her. A lot of people seemed to be like, ‘Oh, it’s New York,’ and kept walking. I don’t think I would’ve climbed over to do that." Another witness noted that most people didn’t even break stride as they quickly glanced up. Said another, "Angels come in many forms."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Companies are realizing that renewable energy is good for business
2017-11-16, Popular Science
https://www.popsci.com/renewable-energy-business-climate-change

The conservative city of Georgetown, Texas, runs on renewable energy. After all, wind and solar power are more predictable and easier to budget than oil and gas. Clean power pushes may be associated with more left-leaning cities, but Republican mayor Dale Ross called the switch to renewables a no-brainer. In 2017, at least 15 weather events cost the government more than a billion dollars each. The most expensive events we have in the U.S. are floods. The money spent preparing for and preventing these events ... pays itself back double, triple, and even quadruple times over. But companies and private citizens often fail to prepare properly because the money spent on prevention is private, whereas costs after the fact are often allotted through government organizations. Many fail to connect the cost of switching to renewable energy with the eventual savings of avoiding natural disasters. On an even larger scale, the costs of switching to renewable energy are larger up front, though they save money in the future. For example, Denmark struggled to store its wind power in a way that allowed them to save it for times of high electricity demand. Then they encouraged residents to buy electric cars. Now these vehicles act like moving batteries, and people can sell the energy back to the grid when the cars are parked.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


One step beyond organic or free-range: Dutch farmer’s chickens lay carbon-neutral eggs
2017-11-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/05/carbon-neutral-eggs-dutch...

There’s the much-criticised battery hen egg, and then the pricier organic and free-range varieties. But for the truly ethically committed, how about the carbon-neutral egg, laid in what has been billed as the world’s most environmentally friendly farm? Dutch stores are now selling so-called “Kipster eggs” laid at a shiny new farm. The intention is to rethink the place of animals in the food chain, according to Ruud Zanders, the poultry farmer and university lecturer behind the farm. Mass-producing farms, even those that have moved on from cages, produce extremely cheap eggs at a heavy cost to the environment and the welfare of the animals laying them. The cost-cutting model is blamed by many for the regular food scares in northern Europe, including the recent enforced destruction of millions of eggs due to contamination by the toxic insecticide fipronil. The organic and free-range varieties, where farmers prioritise the welfare of the chickens, often sell at a higher price – but again at a cost to the wider environment, feeding the chickens expensive imported corn that could be better used to feed people. “It makes no sense for us to be competing with animals for food,” Zanders said. “And 70% of the carbon footprint in eggs is accounted for by the feed for the chickens.” Zanders’s selling point is that his farm has the highest welfare standards – as endorsed by Dutch animal activist group Animals Awake – matched with the lowest possible environmental cost. By using waste food as feed, the farm is ... cutting deeply into its carbon footprint.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The fasting diet CAN keep you young: Harvard study explains how plans like the 5:2 protect your cells from aging
2017-11-06, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5055701/Fasting-extend-life-aging.html

Intermittent fasting can keep the body ‘young’ at a cellular level. Researchers at Harvard found that temporarily restricting diet keeps the mitochondria – an important part of the cell to health aging – in homeostasis, which in turn helps to improve lifespan. Last year, Newcastle University research confirmed the crucial role of the mitochondria in human cell aging, and therefore, the aging of our bodies. Mitochondria break down carbohydrates and fatty acids, giving energy to the cell. For this reason, they are often referred to as the ‘powerhouses’ of our cells. The Newcastle University researchers found that without their aged mitochondria, cells appeared younger. Mitochondria exist in two states, and when they are alternating appropriately between these two states, they are in homeostasis. The Harvard researchers found that mitochondria stay in homeostasis better when an organism – in their study, a nematode worm – has an intermittently restricted diet. At the same time, being able to swing as they’re supposed to from one state to the other is key to the longevity-enhancing effects of intermittent fasting. The researchers also found that intermittent fasting helped to coordinate the activities of the mitochondria with peroxisomes, other cell parts that have an antioxidant effect and contribute to longevity. This newfound understanding of how fasting works at a cellular level could be a key to discovering therapies that could be beneficial to extending life expectancies and keeping the body younger.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


China shuts down 40% of factories in sharp pollution crackdown
2017-10-25, MSN News
https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/china-shuts-down-40percent-of-factories-...

Pollution kills more than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. 16% of all the deaths in the world, as a matter of fact. And many of these are in China, where in 2015 it was estimated that the dense air pollution contributes to between 700,000 and 2.2 million deaths every year. What happens when a regime on the more ... authoritarian [end] of the spectrum decides to take the environment seriously? We’re finding out in China, which has temporarily shut down 40% of its factories in the past year, and charged staff from over 80,000 of them with criminal offences for breaking emission limits. "[B]asically, you're seeing these inspectors go into factories for surprise inspections," Gary Huang from 80/20 Sourcing told NPR. "They're instituting daily fines, and sometimes – in the real severe cases – criminal enforcement. People are getting put in jail." “For those areas that have suffered ecological damage, their leaders and cadres will be held responsible for life,” said Yang Weimin, the deputy director of the Communist Party’s office of the central leading group on financial and economic affairs. “Our people will be able to see stars at night and hear birds chirp.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Could banana plants solve India's sanitary pad problem?
2017-03-08, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/08/health/india-banana-pads-menstruation/index.html

Kristin Kagetsu left the United States in 2014 with an idea: to bring sanitary pads to India. The 27-year-old MIT graduate co-founded Saathi Pads - a health care startup that produces biodegradable sanitary pads made of banana fibers. According to a 2011 study ... only 12% of Indian women use sanitary pads during menstruation. Tampons, menstrual cups and reusable pads are practically unheard of, except in elite circles. Affordability is the key factor preventing many women from using sanitary pads. For lower income families, they can be a luxury. Saathi Pads said it plans to sell its product ... online and in urban areas but will distribute them for free in rural areas, or at heavily subsidized rates. The lack of proper feminine hygiene and sanitation facilities can affect women's productivity at work and in school. More than 30% of girls interviewed in northern India dropped out of school after they started menstruation. Kagetsu and her co-founders ... decided to manufacture their own compostable sanitary pads using banana fibers, a byproduct of fruit production. The pads Saathi produces are biodegradable and can be upcycled to compost or biogas after use. The company claims its production process is completely chemical and plastic free. The company's purchase of agri-waste material also helps provide banana growers with additional income.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Gross National Happiness: Bhutan's Unique Measurement
2016-02-21, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2016/02/21/467582508/gross-national-happiness-bhutan-s-uni...

The tiny nation of Bhutan [is] wedged in the Himalayas between China and India. The country has been in the international spotlight mainly for ... its unique approach to calculating economic growth by taking the pulse of its people's gross national happiness. The nation is among one of just a handful of so-called carbon negative countries in the world, meaning it soaks up more carbon than it produces thanks to vast forests. Amidst all this, it's also developing a new economic engine in the form of hydropower while expanding economic and political ties to neighboring India and China. "We need to strengthen our economy, but equally important are other aspects of human development, which include social development, environment sustainability, culture," [said Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay]. "And this whole idea of balancing material growth - which is important on the one hand - with social development, this is what the sense of gross national happiness is all about." We're already carbon negative. Our entire country, we generate 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. However, our forests sequester more than 6 million tons. So the idea is to keep that track record - in fact, to add to it. What we're trying to do is raise money to invest in our protected areas. More than half our country is protected as national parks and nature reserves."

Note: Watch Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay deliver a TED Talk on the important connection between happiness and environmental sustainability.


Visit the World's Only Carbon-Negative Country
2017-10-17, National Geographic
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/bhutan/carbon-neg...

Bhutan is arguably the world’s happiest country. It’s also one of the greenest. That’s no coincidence. In fact, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck developed his signature Gross National Happiness index based on four pillars: sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance. Other countries have taken note, since the Himalayan kingdom is not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative. Also noteworthy: This is happening despite increasing tourism. As a travel destination Bhutan remains unique, sandwiched between its heavily industrialized neighbors China and India. The isolated nation only opened up to foreign visits in 1974 and allowed TVs in 1999. Bhutan has built sustainability into its national identity. In fact, the constitution mandates that 60 percent of its landmass be maintained and protected as forest. “The health facilities in Bhutan are free and education up to high school is also free. For those who advance, the education is free until the [college] degree,” a representative of the Bhutan Tourism Council wrote in an email. There are many reasons Bhutan is carbon negative. Aside from its protected forests, it has won world records for planting the most trees per hour, says Erin Levi, the author of the forthcoming Bradt Travel Guide to Bhutan. “The ratio of people to land mass—it's about the same size as Switzerland with just one tenth the population. Its slow path to development—the first road was only built in the 1960s, which also means people were very slow to get cars,” Levi said.

Note: Watch Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay deliver a TED Talk on the important connection between happiness and environmental sustainability.


Seawater desalination will quench the thirst of a parched plane
2017-10-27, Yahoo News
https://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/seawater-desalination-quench-thirst-parched...

Roughly forty percent of the world's population - 2.3 billion people - lives in water-stressed areas. Seawater desalination offers the potential for an abundant and steady source of fresh water. Large-scale desalination efforts began in the 1930s, though they relied on [an energy intensive] process known as multi-stage flash distillation (MSF). It wasn't until the late 1950s that the modern, membrane-based reverse osmosis (RO) technology came into existence. Currently, state of the art research is exploring the use of water-channeling proteins called aquaporins (AQPs), which the human body uses to ferry water across cellular membranes, as well as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for incorporation into RO applications. As of 2015, roughly 18,000 desalination plants were in operation worldwide. Today, RO is the most efficient and widely accessible means of desalination at our disposal. Modern RO systems consume around a third of the power required by older MSF plants. These two distillation technologies are not mutually exclusive and have been combined into hybrid MSF/RO systems. Take the soon-to-be-completed Al Khafji desalination plant in the UAE, for example. It will produce 60,000 cubic meters of water per day while drawing power from a grid-connected solar power plant spanning more than 119 hectares and generating up to 45.7MW of power. Not only do these hybrid systems reduce the plant's carbon footprint but up to 40 percent, they drastically reduce fuel costs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Train Which Runs on Virtual Railway Track Unveiled in China
2017-06-03, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/train-virtual-transport-t...

A train that runs on virtual rails has been unveiled in China. The Autonomous Rapid Transit (Art), which was unveiled in the city of Zhuzhou on 2 June, is around 30metres long and is fitted with sensors that detect the dimensions of the road. This enables the vehicle to follow routes without the need for metal rails. Each vehicle can hold up to 307 passengers, and is said to navigate the streets easier than a bus while being more adaptable than a train. It has a top speed of 70kmph. The technology behind the Art was developed by Chinese railmaker CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive which also designs parts for the country’s high-speed railway. Instead of having steel wheels like a train, Art is fitted with rubber wheels attached to a plastic core which are linked to its especially designed guiding technology. Its creators say that Art is significantly cheaper than a metro service, which costs between 400 to 700millon yuan (Ł46 to Ł80million) per km to build. In contrast, Art costs between 15million yuan (Ł2million). The virtual train was unveiled as engineers across the world attempt to modernise transport infrastructure. In the US, Tesla and SpaceX owner Elon Musk is developing the Hyperloop, which is proposed to run at at top speed of 760mph using pod-like vehicles in a tube with reduced pressure.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


‘Magical Wheelchair’ Offers Unforgettable Halloween for Disabled Kids
2015-10-27, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/making-a-difference/magical-wheelchair-offers...

Most children want to dress up for Halloween, but for those confined to wheelchairs, it isn’t always that simple. Ryan Weimer understands that concept better than most. When his oldest son, Keaton, was 3 years old, he told his dad he wanted to be a pirate for Halloween. Instead of simply dressing him up, Weimer spent months building Keaton - who lives with muscular dystrophy - a pirate ship made of wood, tablecloth sails and specially-crafted cannons, all fitted to his wheelchair. Keaton was ecstatic - and his dad never forgot the feeling. "When you know that you have few memories to make with your kids, you want to make priceless ones," Weimer told NBC News, "and epic ones." His second son, Bryce, also lives with muscular dystrophy. Over the years, their wheelchair costumes have gotten more elaborate and attracted more attention. And this year, the Weimer family project became a hugely successful non-profit, called Magic Wheelchair. Volunteers from around the country donated their time, talents and resources to create dream costumes for eight lucky children — six from Weimer’s home state of Oregon and two from Georgia. "When we have challenges and trials and hard times, those are the things that define us," Weimer said. "It doesn’t' matter your circumstances, you can still make beautiful things ... and it's great to see other people get behind that."

Note: Don't miss this very touching video on Magic Wheelchairs.


The Puzzling Role Of Biophotons In The Brain
2010-12-17, MIT Technology Review
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/422069/the-puzzling-role-of-biophotons-in-...

Photons play an important role in the basic functioning of cells. In fact, it looks very much as if many cells use light to communicate. There’s ... evidence that bacteria, plants and even kidney cells communicate in this way. Various groups have even shown that rats brains are literally alight thanks to the photons produced by neurons as they work, [and] evidence is beginning to emerge that light may well play an important role in neuronal function. For example, earlier this year, one group showed that spinal neurons in rats can actually conduct light. Today, Majid Rahnama at Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman in Iran and a group of pals, suggest how this might work. Rhanama and co hypothesise that microtubules can act as wave guides, channeling light from one part of a cell to another. Microtubules are the internal scaffolding inside cells, providing structural support but also creating highways along which molecular machines transport freight around the cell. They’re extraordinary things. Could it be that they also work like optical fibres? Maybe. They go on to suggest that the light channelled by microtubules can help to co-ordinate activities in different parts of the brain. Electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained. Electrical signals travel too slowly to do this job, so something else must be at work. It’s a big jump to assume that photons do this job. But science is built on leaps of imagination like this.

Note: Explore a great article taking this further to suggest that these biophotons play a key role in consciousness and the expansion of consciousness.


26 years later, mom helps free man who shot her during robbery
2016-11-28, Today.com
https://www.today.com/kindness/mom-helps-get-man-who-shot-her-face-freed-pris...

The last time Ian Manuel came face to face with Debbie Baigrie, he shot her in the mouth during a robbery. More than 26 years later, they met again in a Florida gas station parking lot, just hours after Manuel’s release from prison. “Ian and I got out of the cars and we hugged for two minutes,” Baigrie, 54, told TODAY. In 1990, Manuel was 13 and living in Tampa in one of the poorest, most violent housing projects in the state. One July evening, he ... approached Baigrie, who was out with friends. Manuel pulled a gun and told her to “give it up.” Then he started shooting. One of his bullets went into Baigrie’s mouth and out her jaw. Manuel was arrested. Although he was barely a teen, a judge noted his prior arrests and sentenced Manuel to life without parole. Manuel first reached out as he approached his second Christmas behind bars. He gathered his courage and placed a collect call. Shortly afterward came the letters, which Baigrie initially thought somebody else had written. “His letters were so articulate and he was so young,” she said. “I thought, wow,” Baigrie said. So she wrote him back, [and] began attending his court hearings. In 2010, the Supreme Court threw out life sentences for juveniles, and Baigrie began advocating for Manuel's early release. On Nov. 10, based on time already served, Manuel, now 39, was freed from prison. Baigrie ... hopes her friendship with Manuel will inspire others to forgive. “We all make mistakes, we all try our best, and life is so short,” she said. “We have to forgive, because it helps us heal.”

Note: Don't miss the touching video of this amazing act of forgiveness which created profound rehabilitation and a deep friendship. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Israeli, Palestinian women join peace march through desert
2017-10-09, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/09/middleeast/israeli-palestinian-women-peace-marc...

Under a white tent on the shores of the Dead Sea, Huda Abuarquob's frustration melted away. Dancing arm-in-arm with thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women, she felt hope surround her. The women, who came together Sunday morning in the "Peace Tent," had marched through the desert to the lowest point on earth, to demand an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The march was the culmination of two weeks of events, attended by more than 30,000 women, throughout Israel and the West Bank, organized by Women Wage Peace, a grassroots organization calling for a "bilaterally acceptable political agreement." The last round of [peace] negotiations ... fell apart in April 2014, with the two sides blaming each other. A few months later, Israel and Gaza were at war. Women Wage Peace was founded in the aftermath of the Gaza war, when organizers felt there was a need for a different approach. "Something happened in 2014," said Yael Triedel, an Israeli who participated in the march. "The recognition that this is it. We have to do it. The leaders didn't manage to do it so far, and it's our responsibility to make it happen." On Sunday evening, tens of thousands of women gathered ... for the conclusion of the peace march. Former Knesset member Shakib Shanan, whose son was one of two border police officers killed near Jerusalem's holiest site in mid-July, spoke at the park. "We are allowed to say this out loud - we are lovers of peace.

Note: Don't miss pictures of this beautiful and powerful event at the link above.


This Incredible Power Plant Produces Nothing But Electricity And Stone
2017-10-16, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/hellisheidi-power-plant-produces-nothin...

The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant situated on the mid-Atlantic ridge, is the newest and largest geothermal plant in Iceland - a country that heats 90% of its homes using geothermal water. The plant has now become the first in history to capture carbon dioxide from ambient air, using a system of fans and filters, and then store it in bedrock 700 metres down. There the gas reacts with basaltic rock and forms solid minerals, creating a permanent storage solution, and turning Hellisheidi into a negative emissions site. The EU-funded project [is] capable of capturing 50 metric tons of CO2 each year. Christoph Gebald, Founder and CEO at Climeworks, said: “The potential of scaling-up our technology in combination with CO2 storage, is enormous. Our plan is to offer carbon removal to individuals, corporates and organizations as a means to reverse their non-avoidable carbon emissions.′ It also costs $600 per ton of carbon dioxide, a figure they are hoping to reduce to $100 per ton. Iceland currently runs 100% of it’s electricity from renewable sources.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This is what America's eco city of the future looks like
2017-10-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/16/texas-town-georgetown-ene...

[Dale] Ross is the mayor of Georgetown, population 65,000, and he has become a minor celebrity in environmental circles as a result of a pioneering decision in 2015 to get all the city’s electricity from renewable sources. Georgetown’s location in oil-and-gas-centric Texas and Ross’s politics add to the strangeness of the tale. The mayor is a staunch Republican. “You should see the fan mail that I get, especially with the movies,” Ross grinned. The 58-year-old said the decision to follow the lead of Burlington, Vermont – the first US city to run solely on renewable energy – was not the product of liberal do-gooder vapours wafting up Interstate 35 from nearby Austin. It was based on cold-eyed pragmatism, the fruit of the kind of careful numerical analysis he performs in his day job as a certified public accountant. “The revolution is here,” he said. “And I’m a good little Republican, a rightwing fiscal conservative. When it comes to making decisions based on facts, that’s what we do.” The facts, Ross said, are that when Georgetown negotiated power supply deals the cost was about the same between natural gas and wind and solar, but the natural gas option would provide only a seven-year guaranteed contract whereas 20-25 year proposals were on the table from renewable providers. Georgetown officials decided to lock in a long-term rate to eliminate price volatility. [Energy] prices in the city, Ross said, have declined from 11.4˘ per kilowatt hour in 2008 to 8.5˘ this year.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The US government keeps spectacularly underestimating solar energy installation
2017-10-19, Quartz
https://qz.com/1103874/the-us-government-underestimated-solar-energy-installa...

Every two years, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), America’s official source for energy statistics, issues 10-year projections about how much solar, wind and conventional energy the future holds for the US. Every two years, since the mid-1990s, the EIA’s projections turn out to be wrong. Last year, they proved spectacularly wrong. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, and Statista recently teamed up to analyze the EIA’s predictions for energy usage and production. They found that the EIA’s 10-year estimates between 2006 to 2016 systematically understated the share of wind, solar and gas. Solar capacity, in particular, was a whopping 4,813% [or 48 times] more in 2016 than the EIA had predicted in 2006 it would be. The EIA regularly underestimates the growth in renewables but overestimates US fossil-fuel consumption. These estimates matter because they form the basis for actions by the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. The agency’s “projections bear little resemblance to market realities” because they ignore publicly available evidence, argues the clean-energy non-profit Advanced Energy Economy. Michael Grunwald at Politico reports the EIA seems to base its projections on the assumption that renewable energy costs won’t fall much, when in fact they keep plunging.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Genius inventor, 43, is helping scores of children by making state-of-the-art Spider-Man and Harry Potter-themed prosthetic arms in his garden shed
2017-05-20, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4525834/Inventor-Stephen-Davies-creat...

Inventor Stephen Davies was himself born without a left lower arm and never forgot the stigma of the NHS-issue prosthetic he wore as a child. After several years of not using one, [Davies] began looking at designs available on the NHS – only to discover they had barely improved in three decades. More sophisticated bionic arms ... can cost upwards of Ł30,000. However, having learned how far lighter limbs could be created on a 3D printer, he began to experiment in his garden shed. He has now set up Team UnLimbited, which creates customised ‘cool’ limbs for children, featuring their choice of colour and pattern. The father of three said, "We’ve done Iron Man designs, Harry Potter, Lego and Spider-Man. The key is making something the child actually wants to wear and feels is cool enough to show their friends. Sometimes children with prosthetics get bullied at school and something like this can make a huge difference to their confidence." The limbs work for children born without a lower arm. When the wearer moves their elbow, the fist closes, enabling objects to be grasped. Each arm costs about Ł30 to make, and takes a few days to print and assemble. All are made in the shed. Mr Davies – along with his partner ... Drew Murray – never charge the children for the cost of the limbs, and have instead raised their costs through crowdfunding.

Note: Watch a great video of smiling kids using their new hands.


Italy's high-rise forests take root around the world
2017-10-08, News 24/AFP
http://www.news24.com/Green/News/italys-high-rise-forests-take-root-around-th...

As balconies bristle with tree branches and sunshine dapples the leaves of thousands of plants, two apartment buildings in the heart of Milan have almost disappeared under lush forest. The brainchild of Milanese architect Stefano Boeri, the Bosco Verticale ... uses more than 20,000 trees and plants to adorn the high-rise buildings from top to bottom - a project now being exported all over the world. Cherry, apple and olive trees spill over balconies alongside beeches and larches, selected and positioned according to their resistance to wind and preference for sunlight or humidity. Boeri said the idea came from his obsession with trees and determination to make them "an essential component of architecture," particularly as a weapon to combat climate change. Boeri worked closely with botanists to create a nursery of a thousand trees that have been trained to grow under specific conditions. The team faced numerous challenges, from how the balconies should be structured to take the weight of the plants, to ... what needed to go into the soil. They even carried out resistance tests at a hurricane centre in Miami. "For every human being living in the building, there are about two trees, 10 shrubs and 40 plants," Boeri said. The vegetation soon transformed into a veritable wildlife park: 9,000 ladybirds brought over from Germany to eat parasites - to leave the plants pesticide free - multiplied over the space of a few weeks. "We did not expect ... the incredible amount of birds that nested here," Boeri said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Oil giant Shell bets on electric cars
2017-10-12, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/12/investing/shell-oil-buys-electric-car-charging/

One of the world's largest fossil fuel companies is betting on electric cars. Royal Dutch Shell revealed a deal on Thursday to acquire NewMotion, one of Europe's largest electric vehicle charging providers. NewMotion specializes in converting parking spots into electric charging stations. The Dutch firm has more than 30,000 electric charge points in Europe, [and] says its founding mission was to "contribute to a cleaner world by eradicating fossil fuels." Now, it will be owned by one of the world's largest fossil fuel companies, albeit one that is investing more on renewable energy. That makes sense because European investors and governments have been cracking down on oil's most reliable customer: the internal combustion engine. Norway, France, Germany and the U.K. have all announced efforts to phase out vehicles powered solely by fossil fuels. Shell is based in The Netherlands, where electric cars are popular and the government has set a target to boost sales even further. Barclays warned in a recent report that by 2025 oil demand could be lowered by 3.5 million barrels per day due to electric vehicles and increased fuel efficiency on conventional autos. If electric vehicles become one-third of the car market by 2040, oil demand could drop by 9 million barrels per day from today's levels, Barclays estimates.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


China Hastens the World Toward an Electric-Car Future
2017-10-09, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/09/business/china-hastens-the-world-toward-an...

There is a powerful reason that automakers worldwide are speeding up their efforts to develop electric vehicles - and that reason is China. Propelled by vast amounts of government money and visions of dominating next-generation technologies, China has become the world’s biggest supporter of electric cars. That is forcing automakers from Detroit to Yokohama and Seoul to Stuttgart to pick up the pace of transformation. Beijing has already called for one out of every five cars sold in China to run on alternative fuel by 2025. Last month, China issued new rules that would require the world’s carmakers to sell more alternative-energy cars here if they wanted to continue selling regular ones. China has reshaped industries before. This, however, would be on a different scale. If China succeeds - and there is no guarantee - Beijing’s policy makers will be front and center reimagining the global auto industry. Already, China is the world’s largest maker and seller of electric cars. Chinese buyers are on track to snap up almost 300,000 of them this year, three times the number expected to be sold in the United States and more than the rest of the world combined. The country’s market heft is considerable. China buys more General Motors-branded cars than Americans do. Even for Tesla, the still-small American maker of luxury electric sedans, China has become the second-largest market, even though China’s taxes on imported cars are 10 times as high as those in the United States.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Man removes Nazi swastika tattoos after unlikely friendship
2017-09-25, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/US/man-removes-nazi-swastika-tattoos-friendship/story?i...

Colorado resident Michael Kent recently sat down at a tattoo parlor in Colorado Springs to have his swastikas covered up. Kent, a former neo-Nazi, credits an African-American parole officer named Tiffany Whittier with helping him to see beyond skin color and changing his views about white supremacy. “If it wasn’t for her I would have seeped back into it,” said Kent. “I look at her as family.” Whittier, 45, even inspired Kent, 38, to take down the Nazi flags he had hanging in his living room and replace them with smiley faces. “I’m not here to judge him. That’s not my job to judge. My job is to be that positive person in someone’s life,” Whittier said. Redemption Ink, a national non-profit that offers free removals of hate-related tattoos, helped connect Kent with Fallen Heroes Tattoo in Colorado to begin the 15-hour process of covering his swastikas. The sterile environment is new to Kent who had his previous ink work done in prison. “I’ve never, never, never been inside of a tattoo shop getting a professional tattoo,” he said. Kent believes the painful process will help him move forward after spending years as a member of a violent skinhead group based in Arizona. As a father of two young children, Kent also hopes his children will see the world differently. “I don’t want my kids to live the life I lived and live with hate,” said Kent. “I want my kids to know me for who I am now—a good father, a hard worker, and a good provider.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Love Little Free Libraries? These People Didn’t Stop at Books
2017-09-27, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/just-transition/love-little-free-libraries-...

From seed banks to free food pantries, the little library movement is taking off in neighborhoods across the country. Audrey Barbakoff ... wanted a place for people to share and donate vegetable, flower, and herb seeds. Barbakoff, who works as a librarian on Bainbridge Island, Washington, thought that the public library was the perfect place to house a seed library. In 2014, the group and the library staff teamed up to build a seed shed right behind the Bainbridge branch. Residents bring their seeds to the library and the staff organize, label, and store them in the shed where people are free to take what they need. In March, Holly Dyck ... decided to host a clothes swap on campus. Her idea caught on with more than 50 students who gathered in a student lounge to swap clothes that had rarely or never been worn. Darla Bradish ... heard about the Little Free Library movement and imagined a similar concept, but with food. “I see the need for little free food pantries in my community,” Bradish says. “It’s hard for some people ... to get to the local food bank, so I thought why not place little food pantries in the neighborhoods.” Bradish got her program, Kitsap Neighborhood Little Free Pantries, approved by her county’s public health district and set up the first two little pantries. The success of her project led to the local corrections department offering to build her more pantry boxes. “One guy got his paycheck, but couldn’t cash it until the next day,” she says. “So, he came to one of the pantries to find out what he was going to eat for dinner.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New Marine Parks Protect 290,000 Square Miles of Ocean
2017-10-04, National Geographic
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/10/niue-chile-marine-parks-ocean-cons...

The countries of Chile and Niue just made a huge splash in the world of ocean conservation. Niue, a tiny South Pacific island nation with a population of roughly 1,600, has turned 40 percent of its exclusive economic zone into a marine park, and Chile added two new marine parks where fishing and all other extractive activities are banned. Together, the three new parks protect some 290,000 square miles of ocean - an area more than twice the size of Germany. The two countries will announce their new marine protected areas (MPAs) at the Our Ocean conference. The Niue reserve ... protects 49,000 square miles of ocean - more than 30 square miles for each man, woman, and child living on the island today. Like the similarly small Cook Islands, which have protected more than 700,000 square miles of ocean, Niue currently lacks representation in the UN. “It is no small feat for a small-island developing state to make such a tremendous and tangible contribution to ocean conservation,” says Brendon Pasisi, director of the Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) project. On the other side of the Pacific, Chile has unveiled two new reserves that protect 240,000 square miles of ocean from fishing and all other extractive activities - a combined area nearly the size of France. “Chile is a fishing country, and most fisheries there are fully exploited ... but this government has realized that there is no future of fisheries without significant protection,” says National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Google shows off wireless headphones that it says can translate languages on the fly
2017-10-04, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/04/google-translation-earbuds-google-pixel-buds-...

Google released a line of new products on Wednesday, including its first pair of premium wireless headphones, which can support live translation between languages. When the Google Pixel Buds are paired with a new handset, the Google Pixel 2, the earbuds can tap into Google Assistant, Google's artificially intelligent voice-activated product. In addition to the translation of 40 languages, Google Assistant can also alert users to notifications, send texts and give directions. The translation feature can be conjured by saying "help me speak French," or any other language. "It's an incredible application of Google Translate powered by machine learning - it's like having a personal translator by your side," [Google product manager Juston] Payne said. Payne and another Google employee demonstrated a conversation between someone speaking Swedish and another person responding in English. During the demonstration, one employee, speaking Swedish, had Pixel Buds and the Pixel phone. When the phone was addressed in English, the earbuds translated the phrase into Swedish in her ear. The Swedish speaker then spoke back in Swedish through the earbuds by pressing on the right bud to summon Google Assistant. Google Assistant translated that Swedish reply back into an English phrase, which was played through the phone's speakers so the English speaker could hear.

Note: Watch a demonstration of this new translation assistant in action at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'The man who saved the world' died and the world didn't notice — Who was Stanislav Petrov?
2017-09-18, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
http://www.ajc.com/news/world/the-man-who-saved-the-world-died-and-the-world-...

One September morning in 1983, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, a 44-year-old commanding officer with the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces, saved the world from erupting into nuclear war. Petrov died on May 19 ... at his home in the Moscow suburb of Fryazino. According to the New York Times, he lived at his Fryazino home alone on a pension. How did Petrov “save the world?” On Sept. 26, 1983, Oko (the Soviet Union’s early-warning satellite system for nuclear attack) detected that the United States had launched five ballistic missiles, all headed toward the USSR. But as the alarms went off and screens flashing the word “LAUNCH” lit up, Petrov, who was just a few hours into his shift as duty officer at command center Serpukhov-15, remained calm. “For 15 seconds, we were in a state of shock,” he told The Washington Post in 1999. Petrov’s gut feeling ... led him to believe the launch reports were probably false. “When people start a war, they don't start it with only five missiles,” he remembered thinking. He said his decision to stand down ... was “at best, a ‘50-50’ guess.” And, as Wired Magazine put it in 2007, “he hoped to hell he was right.” That gut feeling and Petrov’s calm, common-sense analysis saved the world from potential catastrophe. The satellite that signaled the false alarm had picked up the sun’s reflection atop the clouds, mistaking it for a missile launch. After the classified incident became public ... Petrov went on to earn the German Media Prize in 2012 (other GMP winners include Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama and Kofi Anan).

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Reading, writing and empathy: How Denmark is a leader in teaching social skills
2017-09-15, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2017/0915/Reading-writing-and-empathy-...

The importance of empathy as a character trait is garnering increased attention in an age of rapid technological change. In Denmark, empathy has long been a part of the zeitgeist of the nation, taught and valued everywhere, from preschools to corporate suites. By many measures, Denmark ... excels at instilling emotional well-being. Still, Denmark is facing challenges that would sound familiar to American educators. At the Hedegĺrdenes school ... one-third of the 400 students, from the first year of school through the ninth year, come from immigrant backgrounds, and another third from what administrators call troubled homes. As a result, says Thomas Brinch, vice principal, “the work with empathy is more important than ever. The kids need to treat each other with respect no matter where they are from, what their religion is.” Schools see empathy as a way to deal with another challenge as well: the saturation of social media. In the classroom of Ida Nielsen, a fifth-year teacher at the Hedegĺrdenes school ... the class has drawn up social media user guidelines together and is now discussing what they mean in practice. One of the first rules sounds simple enough: Don’t say anything mean. But it leads one boy to question if that just applies to people, or whether they may make negative statements about not liking longer school hours. Such discussions are crucial, says Ms. Nielsen, when asked about the pressures to devote time to academic learning during the day. “This is their lives,” she says.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


You don't usually hear this word at a rally
2017-09-23, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/23/opinions/you-dont-hear-this-at-a-rally-costello...

All you need is love. Love is all you need. I'm singing that old Beatles song in my head and trying to wrap my mind around a beautiful love-fueled relationship between members of Black Lives Matter and the most passionate Trump supporters. That word - love - came up in a conversation with Hawk Newsome, who represents Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. "At some point, we're going to have to talk to the other side," he told me. And realize, he added, sometimes the situation calls for "words, for love, for compassion, as opposed to words of anger." He realized that smack in the middle of hundreds of pro-Trumpers at the Mother of All Rallies event ... in Washington, DC. As Newsome and his fellow activists waded through the mostly white crowd, ready to do battle, something totally radical happened. A Trump supporter, speaking from a makeshift stage, invited him to speak. "We're going to give you two minutes of our platform to put your message out," the Trump supporter told Newsome. "Whether they disagree or agree with your message is irrelevant. It's the fact you have a right to have the message." "This was a first-time occurrence," [Newsome said]. "It was hostile before we were invited on that stage." But, when he took the stage and started shouting his beliefs and found that some in the crowd actually listened, that word popped into his head - love. It's a small thing, which shines the light on what we already know - love and compassion go a long way. We just have to listen to that song in our heads.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Wind power is now cheaper than nuclear – the energy revolution is happening
2017-09-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/26/offshore-wind-power-ene...

In March I went to see Henrik Poulsen, the boss of Dong Energy, in Copenhagen. Dong stands for Danish oil and natural gas. It was, like Shell and BP, involved in fossil fuel exploration and production. But in less than a decade it has become an 85% offshore wind company, and is divesting its coal, oil and gas interests. By 2023, Dong Energy will be very close to zero carbon. That is a pretty staggering transformation in a very short space of time. Talking to Poulsen made me realise that we were on the cusp of a quiet revolution. From being the most expensive form of renewable energy, offshore wind was fast becoming the cheapest form of large-scale, low-carbon generation bar none. As Poulsen said: “When you go 10 years into the future and you look back, I think we will look at these years, 2016, 2017, 2018, as the inflection point. I think we’ll look back and say wow ... Something happened for wind and solar energy during those years that completely changed the dynamic.” But he also said that “without the UK government and what they have done for the past five or six years, we wouldn’t have been where we are today. I’m glad to see that it’s paying off.” There’s a pleasing symmetry in fighting climate change, a truly enormous problem that remains invisible to most people in the UK, with offshore wind, an equivalently huge and equally invisible solution.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The man who sews with his toes: Indian tailor creates bespoke garments… despite not having any ARMS
2017-07-20, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4713808/Armless-Indian-tailor-creates-garments-feet.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4713808/Armless-Indian-tailor-creates...

Madan Lal, 45, from Haryana in India was born without arms but learnt to adapt to the demands of everyday life by using his feet. Now he uses his talented toes to stitch beautiful garments from a shop in his village. He said: 'All the stitching work I do with my feet. From cutting the cloth to measurement, I have to use my feet.' He said: 'When I was young almost every school denied me admission because of my disability. My family couldn't afford to educate me, and I thought ... I'll have to do something to survive in this life.' At the age of 23, Mr Lal decided to take up tailoring, but found it very difficult to get any training. A determined Mr Lal decided to travel to Fatehabad and search for a tailor who was willing to train him. He said: 'I went to Fatehabad to learn stitching from a tailor. He initially refused to teach me. He said, "You don't have any arms, how would you do stitching?" 'I said, "Just give me one chance". He said okay and within 10 to 15 days my teacher started saying, "You will become successful". And I became very happy.' Within a year, Mr Lal had learned the art of tailoring and had opened a shop in his village. The impact on his life was immediate. 'That day I forgot all the sufferings. It was the best day of my life. I saw people coming to my shop to greet me. The whole village was happy, as if they were part of my family.' And now Madan's talent has overcome even the most sceptical of his villagers, and his exploits have made him something of a local hero. He said: 'Now everyone at our village comes to my shop.'

Note: Don't miss the inspiring 3-minute video of this very capable man.


Forget getting rich - sex and sleep are the real keys to happiness
2017-09-19, MSN/The Telegraph
http://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/mindandbody/forget-getting-rich-sex-and-sleep...

It is often said that money doesn’t bring happiness, but researchers may have found the two things that do – sex and sleep. The Living Well Index, developed by researchers Oxford Economics, found that spending time in the bedroom is a lot more significant than quadrupling your income. A poll carried out by the National Centre for Social Research found that the most rested people score 15 points higher on the index than those who struggled with their sleep. People who are deeply dissatisfied with their sex lives score seven points lower on average than those who say they were very satisfied. By the same metric, increasing household income from Ł12,500 to Ł50,000 results in an increase of just two points. The report ... said: “For the typical Brit, improving their sleep to the level of someone at the top of the index would be equivalent to them having over four times as much disposable income,” adding that sleep was the “strongest indicator of a broader sense of well-being”. Other factors include living in a strong community, job security and the health of close relatives. The analysis also found ... a strong association between happiness and having a young child at home. “Baby boomers” who were still in work were the second-happiest group because of good job security and a high standard of living. The survey of 8,250 adults also found that older people are objectively happier than younger ones – even when other factors, such as wealth and lifestyle, are controlled.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Survival of the Friendliest
2014-09-29, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/survival...

The Compassion Games is an annual international competition or ‘coopetition’ as they like to call it, which ran from 9-21 September where teams and individuals around the world compete to be the most compassionate. The games have grown to include teams of all kinds from all over the world including schools, families, community groups and even prisons (last year a prison in California entered and had its first ever 11-day period without a single act of violence). For individuals, like myself, there is the ‘secret agent of compassion’ option which is a series of 11 missions emailed to you daily over the course of the games. The missions include doing random acts of kindness, caring for the environment or the local neighbourhood, supporting charitable organisations and even just fully appreciating an everyday activity like brushing your teeth. My own 11 days of compassion involved ... making a tangible act of appreciation for the environment (I planted some seeds in our communal garden) and engaging in an activity that made someone smile (I joined in with my girlfriend’s fitness workout – boy did that one work!). How did I get into all this? A newsletter in my inbox. Karen Armstrong, the former nun turned religious writer ... had won the TED Prize. Granted one wish by TED to change the world, she had chosen to set up a Charter for Compassion to implement the Golden Rule ... across the globe. I hit ‘subscribe’ to the newsletters and one day received an email about the Compassion Games.

Note: Watch a short, inspiring video on how the compassion games changed a woman's prison from a culture of violence to one of caring. For more, see this inspiring article and this one.


Can 10 Minutes of Meditation Make You More Creative?
2017-08-29, Harvard Business Review
https://hbr.org/2017/08/can-10-minutes-of-meditation-make-you-more-creative

What do you do when you run out of good ideas? One increasingly popular solution is mindfulness meditation. Google, Goldman Sachs, and Medtronic are among the many leading firms that have introduced meditation and other mindfulness practices to their employees. Meditation is not only useful as a stress-reduction tool but can also enhance creativity, opening doors where once there seemed to be only a wall. To further verify that creativity is among the early benefits of mindfulness meditation ... we set up an experiment. One hundred twenty-nine participants (all of them students) were divided into three groups and assigned a creative task: Generate as many business ideas as possible for using drones. Before the individual brainstorming began, one group participated in a 10-minute audio-guided mindfulness meditation, and a second group participated in a 10-minute fake meditation exercise (they were instructed to think freely by letting their minds wander). A third group started to brainstorm immediately. Each of the three groups generated roughly the same number of ideas. The main difference was that meditators ... demonstrated a 22% wider range of ideas than the two non-meditating groups. We also found that a short meditation, similar to physical exercise, often put people in a more positive and relaxed frame of mind. In the group that had meditated, most people felt less negative. In particular, meditation decreased participants’ feeling of restlessness (by 23%), nervousness (by 17%), and irritation (by 24%).

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Finland has the best schools
2016-03-18, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0318-doyle-finnish-schools-2016031...

Finland has a history of producing the highest global test scores in the Western world, as well as a trophy case full of other recent No. 1 global rankings, including most literate nation. In Finland, children don't receive formal academic training until the age of 7. Until then, many are in day care and learn through play, songs, games and conversation. Most children walk or bike to school, even the youngest. School hours are short and homework is generally light. Unlike in the United States, where many schools are slashing recess, schoolchildren in Finland have a mandatory 15-minute outdoor free-play break every hour of every day. Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning. One evening, I asked my son what he did for gym that day. “They sent us into the woods with a map and compass and we had to find our way out,” he said. In Finland teachers are the most trusted and admired professionals next to doctors. “Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians,” one Finnish childhood education professor told me. “We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell businesspeople to stay out of our building.” Skeptics might claim that the Finnish model would never work in America's inner-city schools. But what if the opposite is true? What if high-poverty students are the children most urgently in need of the benefits that, for example, American parents of means obtain for their children in private schools, things that Finland delivers on a national public scale.

Note: For more, read this informative article.


This Pen Can Diagnose Cancer in 10 Seconds
2017-09-06, Time
http://time.com/4928010/diagnose-cancer-pen/

When it comes to treating cancer, surgeons want to get rid of as much cancerous tissue as possible during tumor removal. Now a new technology - the size of a pen - is attempting to make that easier by distinguishing between tumors and healthy tissue in just 10 seconds. The MasSpec Pen is a real-time diagnostic tool created by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers report that their handheld device (which is not yet FDA-approved) uses tiny droplets of water to analyze human tissue samples for cancer. “It’s a gentle, simple chemical process,” says study author Livia Schiavinato Eberlin. “It’s highly specific and highly sensitive. The fact that it’s non-destructive brings a new approach to cancer diagnosis.” Getting rid of all cancerous tissue while also preventing any harm to healthy tissue is a delicate process. Other tools available to surgeons for tissue diagnosis ... use gases or solvents that can be harmful for the human body [and] are slower than the MasSpec Pen. In the study, the researchers tested 253 human tissue samples from lung, ovary, thyroid and breast cancer tumors and compared them to samples of healthy tissues. The device was 96% accurate at identifying cancerous tissues. The researchers also tested the MasSpec Pen in live mice with tumors and found that the device was able to identify the presence of cancer without harming healthy surrounding tissues.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Nuclear plans 'should be rethought after fall in offshore windfarm costs'
2017-09-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/11/huge-boost-renewable-powe...

The government is under pressure to reconsider its commitment to a new generation of nuclear power stations after the cost of offshore wind power reached a record low. Experts said green energy had reached a tipping point in the UK after two windfarms secured a state-backed price for their output that was nearly half the level awarded last year to Britain’s first new nuclear power site in a generation, Hinkley Point C. Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the breakthrough should prompt a rethink of the government’s energy plans, which have pencilled in atomic plants at Wylffa in Wales, Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex. “The spectacular drop in the cost of offshore wind is extremely encouraging and shows the need for a radical reappraisal by government of the UK’s energy provision,” he said. The government spending watchdog this year described Hinkley as a “risky and expensive” project that generations of British consumers will have to pay for through electricity bills. The auction results are unlikely to halt the Hinkley project. But they pose a serious dilemma for ... new nuclear power plants around the UK and are likely to feed into a flagship government review of energy costs out next month. Most industry watchers had expected future nuclear projects to cost Ł80-Ł90 per MWh, a long way from the Ł62.14 average awarded to offshore windfarms. The price of building offshore windfarms has fallen by nearly a third since 2012 as the technology matured.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Idaho town that stared down hate – and won
2017-08-31, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2017/0831/The-Idaho-town-that-stared-do...

From his self-proclaimed Aryan Nations church, a retired engineer named Richard Butler preached hate to his followers. [The Idaho town of] Coeur d’Alene became code for white supremacists. But what happened here offers an antidote of hope. The community came together, rejecting the vision of Mr. Butler’s small band, and organizing a tenacious effort to drive them out. [Norman] Gissel and others involved in that campaign ... embraced some old-fashioned phrases – freedom, equality, and justice – and decided on a way to challenge the Aryan Nations. When the Aryan Nations marched, the group sponsored counter protests as far away as Spokane to draw the crowds down. For one event, [organizer Tony] Stewart enlisted local businesses and individuals to pledge money to human rights groups for every minute of a planned Aryan Nations march, and then publicly urged Butler to march slowly to raise more money for his opponents. “They marched for 27 minutes and we got $34,000,” Stewart chuckled. It was the group’s violence that finally brought it down ... in 1998. The compound’s guards ... terrorized [an American Indian woman and her son] at gunpoint. The Southern Poverty Law Center pounced on the incident, bringing lawsuits on behalf of the victims. They won a $6.3 million judgment in 2000 against Butler, and two of his bodyguards served prison time for assault. Butler’s compound was seized in the judgment, used as a training exercise by the fire department and burned to the ground.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


One Man Single-Handedly Plants Forest Bigger Than Central Park
2014-10-28, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/10/28/jadav-payeng-forest-man-majuli_n_6026...

In the middle of a braided river tucked in a remote northeastern region of India, one man planted a forest that has now outgrown the size of New York City’s Central Park. As a teenager in the 1970s, Jadav Payeng noticed a rush of snakes washing ashore, dead. Erosion had scrubbed away vegetation from Majuli island sandbars, stripping away grassy cover and ultimately forcing many native species to flee. Floodwaters transformed some parts into barren landscapes. Its shorelines receded with every monsoon rain. The island, Payeng’s birthplace, was rapidly shrinking. Rather than sitting idly by, waiting for strong river waters to destroy his home and push his family inland, Payeng planted trees. He started in 1979, scattering seeds and stabbing the bare earth repeatedly with a stick to forge holes deep enough for the delicate roots of young saplings. The goal was to grow a forest to stave off erosion in the area. But as his trees grew bigger, Payeng says it dawned on him they were going to be increasingly difficult to protect. “The biggest threat was from men. They would have destroyed the forest for economic gain and the animals would be vulnerable again," he said in a documentary about his forest. He quietly continued planting trees on Majuli for 30 years. Today, Payeng’s forest measures 1,400 acres, a remarkable accomplishment that dwarfs Central Park’s 843 acres. Rhinoceroses, deer, tigers, and as many as 115 elephants have moved in to the dense forest.

Note: Watch the award-winning 16-minute documentary about this amazing man at the link above. If one man can do this, imagine what might be achieved if the government put some money and labor into this kind of project.


Discipline With Dignity: Oakland Classrooms Try Healing Instead of Punishment
2014-09-14, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/820/discipline-with-dignity-oakland-classrooms...

Nelson Mandela’s adage, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends,” captures the profoundly inclusive nature of restorative justice (RJ). The hallmark of RJ is intentionally bringing together people ... who have harmed with people who have been harmed in a carefully prepared face-to-face encounter where everyone listens and speaks with respect and from the heart. The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the alarming national trend of punishing and criminalizing our youth instead of educating and nurturing them. Exclusionary discipline policies such as suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests are increasingly being used to address even the most minor infractions. Use of suspensions has almost doubled since the 1970’s. A UC Berkeley Law study found [Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth]’s 2007 middle school pilot eliminated violence and expulsions, while reducing school suspension rates by 87 percent. In 2010, the Oakland, Calif. school board passed a resolution adopting RJ as a system-wide alternative to zero-tolerance discipline and as a way of creating stronger and healthier school communities. Young high school students in Oakland with failing grades and multiple incarcerations who were not expected to graduate not only graduate but achieve 3.0-plus GPAs. Today hundreds of Oakland students are ... empowered to engage in restorative processes ... in a safe and respectful space, promoting dialogue, accountability, a deeper sense of community, and healing.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Pollution levels in Bolivia plummet on nationwide car-free day
2017-09-03, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/sep/03/bolivia-car-free-day-pollution

Air pollution levels have plunged in cities across Bolivia as the country marked a nationwide car-free day in which all non-emergency vehicles were banned from city streets. As Bolivia’s middle-class population has increased over the past 10 years so has the number of cars clogging city streets. The car-free event started 18 years ago in Cochabamba, one of Latin America’s five most polluted cities, and has gradually taken root across the country. By 2011, it had become so popular that Bolivia’s legislature declared a yearly “Day of the Pedestrian and Cyclist in Defence of Mother Earth”. Families love it. Jesus Romero, who lives on the northern edge of Cochabamba, said: “We really enjoy that it is so quiet and peaceful without any cars around, and that’s there’s space in the streets for the kids to play.” Deyanira López, 14, highlighted another benefit. “Our city is very beautiful but you just don’t see it because of all the cars,” she said. Andres Clares, 16, agreed, saying: “I really like walking at least one day without cars. It’s quieter and the air is so much fresher.” In a typically noisy city, the sudden silence is striking. This year the event’s catchphrase is “leave your green footprint in Cochabamba”. Six eco-stations are focused on different themes in coordination with local businesses and charities. “These educate about the air, animals, water, recycling, protected areas and trees,” said Gaviota Borda, head of the municipal department of environmental protection.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Probiotic Bacteria Could Protect Newborns From Deadly Infection
2017-08-16, NPR
http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/08/16/543920822/probiotic-bacte...

Scientists in the U.S. and India have found an inexpensive treatment that could possibly save hundreds of thousands of newborns each year. And it turns out, the secret weapon was sitting in Asian kitchens all along: probiotic bacteria that are common in kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables. Feeding babies the microbes dramatically reduces the risk newborns will develop sepsis, scientists report ... in the journal Nature. Sepsis is a top killer of newborns worldwide. Each year more than 600,000 babies die of the blood infections. "All the sudden the baby stops being active. It stops crying and breastfeeding," says Dr. Pinaki Panigrahi, a pediatrician ... who led the study. For the past 20 years, Panigrahi has been working on a way to prevent sepsis. The tricky part, Panigrahi says, was figuring out the best strain of bacteria to protect against sepsis. "We screened more than 280 strains," Panigrahi says. "So it was a very methodical process." In the end, the one that seemed the most promising was a strain of lactobacillus plantarum. So Panigrahi and his team decided to move forward with a large-scale study. They were shocked by how well the bacteria worked. Babies who ate the microbes for a week ... had a dramatic reduction in their risk of death and sepsis. They dropped by 40 percent, from 9 percent to 5.4 percent. But that's not all. The probiotic also warded off several other types of infections, including those in the lungs. Respiratory infections dropped by about 30 percent. A course of the probiotic costs about $1 per baby.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, psychologists find
2017-08-10, Science Daily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170810141729.htm

Pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat, while embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, according to new UC Berkeley research. "We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health," said study senior author Iris Mauss. "Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you're not giving them as much attention," Mauss said. "And perhaps, if you're constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up." The study ... tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults. People who commonly resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or judge them harshly, can end up feeling more psychologically stressed. By contrast, those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment and resentment to run their course reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months. "It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being," said study lead author Brett Ford. "People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Hints of Trigonometry on a 3,700-Year-Old Babylonian Tablet
2017-08-29, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/science/trigonometry-babylonian-tablet.html

Two Australian mathematicians assert that an ancient clay tablet was a tool for working out trigonometry problems, possibly adding to the many techniques that Babylonian mathematicians had mastered. “It’s a trigonometric table, which is 3,000 years ahead of its time,” said Daniel F. Mansfield of the University of New South Wales. Dr. Mansfield and his colleague Norman J. Wildberger reported their findings last week in the journal Historia Mathematica. The tablet, known as Plimpton 322, was discovered in the early 1900s in southern Iraq and ... contains 60 numbers organized into 15 rows and four columns. With all the publicity, the tablet has been put on display at [Columbia] University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Plimpton 322 has been dated to between 1822 and 1762 B.C. One of the columns on Plimpton 322 is just a numbering of the rows from 1 to 15. The other three columns are ... Pythagorean triples - sets of integers, or whole numbers, that satisfy the equation a2 + b2 = c2. That by itself was remarkable given that the Greek mathematician Pythagoras, for whom the triples were named, would not be born for another thousand years. “You don’t make a trigonometric table by accident,” Dr. Mansfield said. “Just having a list of Pythagorean triples doesn’t help you much. That’s just a list of numbers. But when you arrange it in such a way so that you can use any known ratio of a triangle to find the other sides of a triangle, then it becomes trigonometry. That’s what we can use this fragment for.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Kenya brings in world's toughest plastic bag ban: four years jail or $40,000 fine
2017-08-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/28/kenya-brings-in-worlds-to...

Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000 (Ł31,000) from Monday, as the world’s toughest law aimed at reducing plastic pollution came into effect. The east African nation joins more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda, and Italy. Many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation. “If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish,” said Habib El-Habr, an expert on marine litter working with the UN environment programme in Kenya. Plastic bags, which El-Habr says take between 500 to 1,000 years to break down, also enter the human food chain through fish and other animals. In Nairobi’s slaughterhouses, some cows destined for human consumption had 20 bags removed from their stomachs. “This is something we didn’t get 10 years ago but now it’s almost on a daily basis,” said county vet Mbuthi Kinyanjui as he watched men in bloodied white uniforms scoop sodden plastic bags from the stomachs of cow carcasses. Kenya’s law allows police to go after anyone even carrying a plastic bag. But Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s environment minister, said enforcement would initially be directed at manufacturers and suppliers. It took Kenya three attempts over 10 years to finally pass the ban.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Sowing seeds of hope in Harlem's children
2017-08-10, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/10/health/cnn-hero-tony-hillery-harlem-grown/index...

Six years ago, Tony Hillery was volunteering at a New York City public school in Harlem. In the lunchroom one day, he met a kindergartner who told him that tomatoes grew in the supermarket. "It was a real conversation, and she was adamant," he recalled. "And then I did an informal poll with the other students, and they agreed. They had no idea what is healthy food or where it comes from." Many students lived at or below the poverty line, he said, and lacked affordable, fresh food. But Hillery was shocked to find that many children couldn't properly identify vegetables. Across the street from the school was an abandoned community garden, and Hillery had an idea. He made a few calls, registered it with the city and turned it into what has become a thriving urban farm. "I got this big patch of dirt in the middle of Harlem, and I had never planted anything prior to then," he said. Today, his nonprofit, Harlem Grown, has 10 urban farms throughout the neighborhood. Hillery and his staff teach children how to grow food from seed to harvest and cook healthy meals using the fruits of their labor. Yet Hillery insists that urban farming is the hook to engage the youth. Then his group further enriches their lives through mentoring and exposure to higher education and possible career paths. "The whole world can come through this little farm," said Hillery, whose programs reach more than 4,000 young people a year. "Poverty is just lack of access. We bring that access and that opportunity here to them."

Note: Don't miss the video of this incredible project at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Once Shot For Advocating For Girls' Education, Malala Is Going To Oxford
2017-08-17, NPR
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/17/544191839/once-shot-for-adv...

Malala Yousafzai was only 15 when she was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan for campaigning for the education of girls. Now, she has been accepted to Oxford, one of the world's elite universities. She is also the youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She was co-laureate in 2014 with Kailish Satyarthi, an advocate for the rights of children in India. The Nobel committee cited their "struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education." A little more than a month ago, Malala posted this on her last day of secondary school: "I enjoyed my school years and I am excited for my future. But I can't help thinking of the millions of girls around the world who won't complete their education. I was almost one of those girls." Her father, an educator, was determined she would go to school. But in 2007 Taliban militants took control of Swat and banned the education of girls. It was then that Malala began blogging for the BBC about life under Taliban domination. In 2011, Malala returned to school and began publicly advocating for girls' education. While she was going home from classes one day in 2012, a masked gunman boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, then shot her. She survived but was flown in critical condition to London for treatment. After multiple surgeries, she relocated with her family to Birmingham, England. In a speech before the United Nations on her 16th birthday, Malala urged other young women to take action. "If you want to see your future bright, you have to start working now and not wait for anyone else," she said.

Note: Learn more about this inspiring girl's fight for equal education on the Malala Fund website. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


What Humpback Whales Can Teach Us About Compassion
2017-08-18, Smithsonian.com
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-humpback-whales-teach-us-co...

[Humpbacks whales] deliberately interfere with attacking killer whales to help others in distress. They don’t just defend their own babies or close relatives. They intervene on behalf of other species - a gray whale calf with its mother, a seal hauled out on an ice floe, even an ocean sunfish. Humpbacks act to improve the welfare of others; the classic definition of altruism. Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist ... describes a pivotal encounter he witnessed in Antarctica in 2009. A group of killer whales washed a Weddell seal they were attacking off an ice floe. A pair of humpbacks ... inserted themselves into the action. One of the huge humpbacks rolled over on its back and the 180-kilogram seal was swept up onto its chest between the whale’s massive flippers. And when the seal started slipping off, the humpback, according to Pitman, “gave the seal a gentle nudge with its flipper, back to the middle of its chest. Moments later, the seal scrambled off and swam to the safety of a nearby ice floe.” Pitman started asking people to send him similar accounts. Soon he was poring through observations of 115 encounters between humpbacks and killer whales, recorded over 62 years. So are humpbacks compassionate? When I pose the ... question to Pitman he [responds], “When a human protects an imperiled individual of another species, we call it compassion. If a humpback whale does so, we call it instinct. But sometimes the distinction isn’t all that clear.”

Note: Learn more about the amazing world of marine mammals.


China's Clean Energy Ambition Floats on Abandoned Coal Mine
2017-06-08, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-08/china-s-clean-energy-ambit...

China’s ambitions to dominate new energy technologies are unfolding at the site of an abandoned coal mine about 300 miles (483 kilometers) northwest of Shanghai. There, in Anhui province, Sungrow Power Supply Co. has built the world’s largest floating solar farm with 166,000 panels on a lake created when a nearby mine collapsed. While not an entirely unique idea - similar facilities are working in Japan, the U.K. and Israel - the project’s scale represents a step forward for China in shaping the future of energy. With plans to spend $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020, China is seeking to appear as a global leader on the environment, marking a contrast with U.S. President Donald Trump’s rebuke of the Paris Agreement on climate change. “The Chinese are really investing in the research and development side of innovation,” said Helen Clarkson, chief executive officer of The Climate Group, a non-governmental organization that works to promote clean energy technologies and policy. While Trump has said repeatedly he wants to stimulate fossil fuels and especially coal, China is funding a series of ground-breaking projects that generate power without pollution. Whether with massive floating solar farms like the one in Anhui, sprawling wind farms or ambitious plans to develop geothermal reserves, the world’s most-populous nation is asserting itself as a powerhouse of clean-energy technology.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


88-year-old Saskatoon man makes thousands of socks for shelters
2017-01-05, CBC News (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/88-year-old-saskatoon-man-socks-1.392...

It started as a dare. Bob Rutherford's friend didn't believe the Saskatoon man could make a cheap knitting machine that worked really, really fast. That's when Rutherford got to work. The now 88-year-old used sewer tubing to put together two super-powered machines. "It could be knitting at 90 stitches a second," he proudly said. And the octogenarian has now finished making 10,000 pairs of socks with the machines for shelters in Saskatoon and across the country. How on earth did he do it? He puts it rather simply: "The wool comes in the door and I knit it." Rutherford started making the socks seven years ago. "When my wife passed away in 2010, I felt the loss that everybody feels and had nothing to do," said Rutherford. "[My son] said to me, 'If you want to help yourself, help somebody else.'" He made the knitting machines years earlier, but had never really put them into action. And so he got to work, knitting every week. He calls the living room operation "Socks by Bob." Rutherford emphasizes the socks aren't only his doing — he also has help of a few friends. The group includes 92-year-old Glynn Sully, 85-year-old George Slater and "youngster" Barney Sullivan. "He's a really young guy, 65 maybe," said Rutherford. "Very good company." Just in the last year, they've made more than 2,000 pairs of socks. It's the connection with the group that keeps Rutherford knitting. "I think everybody has to have this. I think people have to reach out and touch other people. And I can do this by touching the socks," said Rutherford.

Note: Don't miss the video of this creative and compassionate man's workshop in action at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


All slaughterhouses in England to have compulsory CCTV
2017-08-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/11/all-slaughterhouses-in-en...

All slaughterhouses in England will be fitted with compulsory CCTV under plans to be unveiled on Friday by environment secretary Michael Gove, as part of a series of measures to bolster welfare standards and enforce laws against animal cruelty. The government will also raise standards for farm animals and domestic pets by modernising statutory animal welfare codes to reflect enhancements in medicines, technological advances and the latest research and advice from vets. The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat. Animal welfare groups have been calling for compulsory cameras – backed by an independent monitoring system for years, while the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, British Veterinary Association, Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the RSPCA have also all backed slaughterhouse CCTV. Between 2009 and 2016, the animal welfare group Animal Aid secretly filmed inside 11 randomly chosen UK slaughterhouses. Their undercover researchers found clear evidence of cruelty and law-breaking in 10 of those 11. UK supermarkets have also backed compulsory CCTV, with the vast majority now insisting that their suppliers have it.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The World's Biggest For-Profit College Company, Laureate Education, Raises $490 Million In Public Debut
2017-02-01, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurengensler/2017/02/01/laureate-education-init...

The largest for-profit college company on the planet raised $490 million in its public debut on Wednesday. Laureate Education, an education juggernaut that is backed by big-name investors like Henry Kravis and Steve Cohen and counts Bill Clinton as its former honorary chancellor, listed its stock on the Nasdaq. The company, which operates colleges primarily outside the United States, is notable for being the first public benefit corporation to go public. That means it incorporated as a new type of company that seeks to balance an appetite for profits with the desire to positively impact society. This is in addition to its certification as a B Corp by the non-profit B Lab, along with 2,000 other companies like Patagonia and Warby Parker, most of whom have opted to stay private. By casting itself as part of the do-gooder crowd and having such a small presence in the U.S., Laureate has managed to distance itself from the nation's for-profit college sector, which received increased scrutiny under the Obama Administration. Corinthian College, for instance, declared bankruptcy and closed its campuses after regulators zeroed on its marketing practices and high loan default rates among students. Laureate and its proponents portray the company as one that is focused on expanding access to higher education in emerging markets to support a rapidly-growing middle class.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


GM is selling a $5,000 electric car in China
2017-08-08, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/07/autos/gm-china-electric-car/?sr=twCNN080717gm...

General Motors will start selling a tiny electric car in China this week that will cost about $5,300 after national and local electric vehicle incentives. For that sort of price, the Baojun E100 is no Cadillac, of course. The two-seat car's wheelbase - the distance from the center of the front wheels to the center of the rear wheels - is just 63 inches. Prices for the car start at RMB 93,900, or about $14,000, before incentives. The E100, which is Baojun's first electric car, is powered by a single 39-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of 62 miles an hour. The E100 can drive about 96 miles on a fully charged battery. Baojun is a mass-market car brand from General Motors' SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture in China. It's China's eighth most popular car brand. More than 5,000 people have already registered to buy the first 200 vehicles, according to GM. Another 500 vehicles will be made available this week, and buyers will be chosen on a first-come-first-served basis, a GM spokesperson said. Sales will initially be limited to the Guanxi region of southern China, but GM plans to sell the car more widely in China. A GM spokesperson declined to say exactly how many it expects to sell. China is the largest automotive market in the world, and its government is making a big push for electric cars. Already, China accounts for 40% of all electric cars sold worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.

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Renowned Psychic Medium Matt Fraser
2016-04-26, CBS News (Tampa, Florida affiliate)
http://www.wtsp.com/entertainment/television/studio10/renowned-psychic-medium...

Matthew Fraser is an Internationally renowned psychic/medium and author of “The Secrets to Unlocking Your Psychic Ability”. He has conducted thousands of readings around the world, reconnecting friends & family with the spirits of those who are no longer with us. His messages of hope, comfort and reassurance have touched the lives of all who meet him, making Matt one of the most gifted and genuine psychics living today. He was no different than any other child although he was born with “The Sight”. As a child this extraordinary gift frightened him. He had kept his gift a secret for years, fearing that he would not be accepted. It wasn’t until Matt looked deeper into his abilities, that he understood being a medium was his calling and life’s mission. In the years that followed, Matt would become one of the world’s most respected Psychics. Now, as an adult, Matt is doing just that. Through his sold out live events, to the his one-on-one sessions and books, Matt is on a personal mission to reconnect as many people as possible with their loved ones in Heaven. He has answered questions for thousands of people with his incredible psychic gift and has been a highly sought after guest appearing on major media outlets across the nation ... due to his uncanny abilities. Today Matt continues his mission not only to share his gift with others, but also to provide assistance within the community through various fundraisers and benefits.

Note: Don't miss the incredibly touching video at the link above of Matt convincing two CBS News anchors that what he is doing is quite real.


New device can heal with a single touch, and even repair brain injuries
2017-08-07, USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/08/07/miracle-device-can-...

A new device developed at The Ohio State University can start healing organs in a "fraction of a second," researchers say. The technology, known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), has the potential to save the lives of car crash victims and even deployed soldiers injured on site. It's a dime-sized silicone chip that "injects genetic code into skin cells, turning those skin cells into other types of cells required for treating diseased conditions," according to a release. And, it not only works on skin cells, it can restore any type of tissue, Chandan Sen, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, said. For example, the technology restored brain function in a mouse who suffered a stroke by growing brain cells on its skin. This is a breakthrough technology, because it's the first time cells have been reprogrammed in a live body. “This technology does not require a laboratory or hospital and can actually be executed in the field," Sen said. "It’s less than 100 grams to carry and will have a long shelf life.” It is awaiting FDA approval, but Sen, who has been working on this for four years, expects TNT will be tested on humans within the year. He says he's talking with Walter Reed National Medical Center now. "We are proposing the use of skin as an agricultural land where you can essentially grow any cell of interest," Sen said.

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Mayor Ben McAdams posed as a homeless person for 3 days and 2 nights. Here’s what he saw
2017-08-06, Salt Lake Tribune (One of Utah's leading newspapers)
http://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2017/08/06/sl-co-mayor-ben-mcadams-posed-...

The first piece of advice he got was “Don’t take off your shoes.” The second, “Don’t go to the bathroom after dark.” Though Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams heeded both, it didn’t make him feel any less vulnerable ... as he settled in for a night at the downtown Road Home homeless shelter. He’d visited the grim neighborhood before. He’d read about ... the homeless people unable to access welfare services. Experiencing it firsthand was different. “That was shocking to me.” McAdams’ stay at The Road Home - what he describes as a fact-finding mission - was part of three days and two nights he spent posing as a homeless person to gather information before recommending a new shelter location. During his three days experiencing life on the streets, McAdams said his time was consumed by solving two pressing needs: Where am I going to sleep? And where am I going to get food? “You have to plan your day around that,” he said, realizing that leaves little energy left to search for jobs or housing. As he spoke with homeless people, listening to their stories and getting their input, McAdams bumped into a small family — a mom, dad and daughter — as they were leaving The Road Home. The little girl, nine years old, kept asking where they were going to sleep and what they were going to eat. The parents didn’t know. The encounter reaffirmed for McAdams his top priority: moving families out of the shelter’s harsh environment. That was accomplished July 15.

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Yoga can help improve symptoms of depression, study finds
2017-08-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/yoga-depression-symptoms-help-improve...

Scientists say that there is one form of exercise that could help improve low mood, anxiety and reduce stress - beating depression in some cases. At the 125th Annual Convention of the America Psychological Association, six presentations looked at studies which found yoga could have healing effects on people with depression of differing severities. One of the studies, conducted the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, found that male veterans who took twice-weekly yoga glasses for eight weeks had fewer symptoms. Another study, by Alliant University in San Francisco, found women aged 25 to 45 who took part in twice-weekly Bikram aka hot yoga sessions over a period of eight weeks also had significantly reduced depression symptoms compared to those on a waiting list for classes. The studies, which covered a wide range of ages, occupations and genders all found that there was a positive correlation between practising yoga and lessening symptoms or feelings of depression. The researchers add that while this form of exercise is proven to help, it shouldn’t replace traditional therapy completely. “We can only recommend yoga as a complementary approach, likely most effective in conjunction with standard approaches delivered by a licensed therapist,” explains Hopkins. “There seems to be a lot of potential.”

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The U.S. Military Believes People Have a Sixth Sense
2017-04-03, Time Magazine
http://time.com/4721715/phenomena-annie-jacobsen/

In 2014, the Office of Naval Research embarked on a four-year, $3.85 million research program to explore the phenomena it calls premonition and intuition. “We have to understand what gives rise to this so-called ‘sixth sense,’ says Peter Squire, a program officer in ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism department. Today’s Navy scientists place less emphasis on trying to understand the phenomena theoretically and more on using technology to examine the mysterious process, which Navy scientists assure the public is not based on superstition. “If the researchers understand the process, there may be ways to accelerate it — and possibly spread the powers of intuition throughout military units,” says Dr. Squire. Because of the stigma of ESP and PK, the nomenclature has changed, allowing the Defense Department to distance itself from its remote-viewing past. Under the Perceptual Training Systems and Tools banner, extrasensory perception has a new name in the modern era: “sensemaking.” Since 1972, CIA and DoD research indicates that premonition, or precognition, appears to be weak in some, strong in others, and extraordinary in a rare few. Will the Navy’s contemporary work on “sensemaking,” the continuous effort to understand the connections among people, places, and events, finally unlock the mystery of ESP? Might technology available to today’s defense scientists reveal hypotheses not available to scientists in an earlier age?

Note: The above was written by Annie Jacobson, journalist and author of the bestselling book, "Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government's Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis." Learn more about government-sponsored research and work with ESP and remote viewing on this excellent web page.


Jordanian parliament moves to end 'marry the rapist' clause
2017-08-01, Christian Science Monitor/Associated Press
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2017/0801/Jordanian-parliament-mo...

The lower house of Jordan's parliament on Tuesday scrapped a provision in the kingdom's penal code that allowed a rapist to escape punishment if he married his victim. Cheers and applause erupted from a packed spectators' gallery as legislators voted for repeal, following an emotional debate in which some of the lawmakers jumped up and yelled at each other. The vote was hailed as a major step forward for women in the conservative kingdom. Many areas of Jordan remain socially conservative, with entrenched notions of "family honor." This includes the belief that having a rape victim in the family is shameful, and that such "shame" can be expunged through marriage. In Tuesday's debate, some lawmakers had argued that an amended version of Article 308 was needed to protect rape victims against social stigma by giving them the marriage option. In the end, lawmakers voted in line with the recommendations of the government and a royal committee on legal reforms. The decision must still be approved by parliament's appointed upper house, or Senate, and by King Abdullah II. After the expected final approval, Jordan would join Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt which have canceled their "marry the rapist" clauses over the years. The international rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Lebanon's parliament is also considering repealing such a provision. The clause remains on the books in several other countries in the Middle East and Latin America, as well as in the Philippines and Tajikistan, HRW said.

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U.S. Nuclear Comeback Stalls as Two Reactors Are Abandoned
2017-07-31, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/climate/nuclear-power-project-canceled-in-...

In a major blow to the future of nuclear power in the United States, two South Carolina utilities said on Monday that they would abandon two unfinished nuclear reactors in the state, putting an end to a project that was ... plagued by delays and cost overruns. The two reactors, which have cost the utilities roughly $9 billion, remain less than 40 percent built. The cancellation means there are just two new nuclear units being built in the country - both in Georgia - while more than a dozen older nuclear plants are being retired in the face of low natural gas prices. Originally scheduled to come online by 2018, the V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina had been plagued by disputes with regulators and numerous construction problems. Under South Carolina law, the utilities were allowed to charge ratepayers for construction costs before the reactors were finished. The nuclear project now accounts for 18 percent of the electric bills of South Carolina Electric & Gas’s residential customers. Santee Cooper, a state-owned utility, has increased rates five times to pay for the reactors. Some environmental groups are now urging state regulators to refund those charges, arguing that the companies misled their customers. “It was evident from the start that cost overruns, schedule delays and problems with an untested construction method” would doom the project, said Tom Clements, a senior adviser at Friends of the Earth. State regulators have set a hearing on the issue for October.

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Driving Tesla’s Model 3 Changes Everything
2017-07-31, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-31/driving-tesla-s-model-3-ch...

If you’ve ever driven Tesla’s flagship vehicle - the $140,000 Model S P100D - you’ve experienced an unparalleled version of driving power. Zero to 60 in 2.3 seconds punches you back in the seat. Some people live for that feeling. I’m not one of them. After taking one of the first drives of Tesla’s new Model 3 last week, I came away thinking that CEO Elon Musk has finally delivered an electric car for the everyday road tripper like me. The Model 3 still has plenty of pickup, [and] gets a stunning 310 miles on a charge. The fact that this car still looks, drives, and feels like a Tesla - at a starting price of $35,000 - shows how far the Silicon Valley automaker has come. At current battery prices, Tesla is setting a new standard for value in an electric car. Since Musk handed over keys to the first 30 cars on Friday, I’ve heard a lot of people trying to compare the Model 3 to GM’s all-electric Chevy Bolt. Although they’re similarly priced and both run on batteries, the parallel ends there. The Bolt is basically an economy gasoline car that’s been electrified; the Model 3 is, well, something altogether different. Tesla aims to sell 500,000 electric cars next year. The bigger battery is a gamechanger. Only one other electric car in the world has broken the 300-mile range barrier: the most expensive version of Tesla’s Model S, an ultra-luxury car that starts at $97,500. The new Model 3 has won Tesla the trophy for cheapest range for the money, defeating the $37,500 Bolt, which is outclassed by the Model 3 in virtually every category.

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Vets Are Using Transcendental Meditation to Treat PTSD—With the Pentagon’s Support
2017-07-22, Mother Jones
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/07/vets-are-using-transcendental-med...

Mary-Ann Rich rises at precisely 4:45 every morning. After feeding her cat, she ... sits for 20 minutes, motionless, her mind drifting far from the images of burned and blown up bodies that have haunted her for a decade. For the past four years, Rich has repeated this daily ritual to help heal her emotional scars from the 18 months she spent as an Army nurse in Iraq. After being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she bounced from one treatment to another without much effect. Then she was introduced to Transcendental Meditation, or TM. She says that TM, more than any kind of therapy or pharmaceutical, has kept [the] horrors [of PTSD] at bay. Thousands of veterans ... have turned to TM to treat their PTSD - with blessing of the Pentagon and the Veterans Administration, which are struggling to treat the epidemic levels of PTSD and suicide among Iraq and Afghanistan vets. Aided by $30 million in grants from the Pentagon and the National Institutes of Health, [the nonprofit David Lynch Foundation] has worked ... to bring TM to vets and active-duty soldiers. TM practitioners receive a secret mantra - a meaningless word-sound - and repeat it to trigger a free-flowing 20-minute meditation twice a day. Colonel Brian Rees ... served as a doctor in Iraq and Afghanistan. TM’s simplicity, Rees says, is uniquely suited to the job of treating PTSD. In 2011, he researched 33 different meditation techniques and found that TM had the greatest potential to bolster soldiers’ resilience.

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Inspired by nature: the thrilling new science that could transform medicine
2016-10-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/oct/25/bioinspiration-thrilling-new-...

In the summer of 2005, Jeffrey Karp, a bioengineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital [read an] article [detailing] how a group of researchers had created a new synthetic material by mimicking the properties of gecko feet – whose tiny, hair-like pillars allow the lizard to stick to and detach from apparently sheer surfaces with ease. His first thought was to use the material to create a new type of medical tape that could replace sutures and staples, which can damage sensitive tissue surrounding wounds. In 2008, MIT’s Technology Review magazine named Karp one of the top innovators in the world under the age of 35. Karp, who is now 40 and runs his own lab ... is what is known in the business as a bioinspirationalist – a person who looks to nature for solutions to scientific problems. The gecko tape was Karp’s first bioinspired invention. Karp’s current projects include surgical staples inspired by porcupine quills, which create smaller punctures in the skin and prevent bacteria from entering wounds, and a new kind of surgical glue inspired by ... marine worms, which is strong enough to bind moving tissue inside major organs. This last invention has helped to cement Karp’s reputation as a rising star in the world of bioengineering. Because he doesn’t just invent cool stuff – he turns his creations into actual products. “When we look to solve problems, it’s not so we can publish papers,” said Nick Sherman, a research technician at Karp Lab. “It’s more like, ‘Is this work going to help patients?’”

Note: Don't miss pictures and detailed descriptions of some of Karp's nature-inspired inventions at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Mushroom protein is just as filling as meat
2017-07-21, International Business Times
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/mushroom-protein-just-filling-meat-1631429

The World Health Organization and the United Nations have been advocating vegetarian and vegan diets for years, to protect against obesity and encourage less energy-intensive farming. For those ... concerned about whether they could stomach a vegan or even just a vegetarian diet, a recent small study has found that mushroom protein can do the job perfectly well. A total of 32 people were given two servings of mushrooms or of meat to eat every day for ten days. On the first day they were given a mushroom or meat breakfast, and rated how full they felt several times in the following hours. Then after three hours, they were given a help-yourself lunch where the scientists recorded how much they ate. Then they were sent home and given either mushrooms or meat to work into their diet for the next nine days. At the all-you-can-eat lunch there was no immediate difference between the mushroom eaters and the meat eaters. But over the following days, people on the mushroom regime reported being less hungry, fuller for longer and found themselves planning smaller meals. But overall, the mushroom eaters didn't eat more or less food than the people on the meat regime, the researchers found. So it seems that eating mushroom protein is at least as good as eating meat protein.

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Life after death? Largest-ever study provides evidence that 'out of body' and 'near-death' experiences may be real
2014-10-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/life-after-death-largest-ever-study...

There is scientific evidence to suggest that life can continue after death, according to the largest ever medical study carried out on the subject. A team based in the UK has spent the last four years seeking out cardiac arrest patients to analyse their experiences, and found that almost 40 per cent of survivors described having some form of “awareness” at a time when they were declared clinically dead. Dr Sam Parnia ... who led the research, said that he previously [believed] that patients who described near-death experiences were only relating hallucinatory events. One man, however, gave a “very credible” account of what was going on while doctors and nurses tried to bring him back to life – and says that he felt he was observing his resuscitation from the corner of the room. About the evidence provided by a 57-year-old social worker ... Dr Parnia said: “We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating. “But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes. “The man described everything that had happened in the room.” Dr Parnia’s study involved 2,060 patients from 15 hospitals ... and has been published in the journal Resuscitation. Of those who survived, 46 per cent experienced a broad range of mental recollections, nine per cent had experiences compatible with traditional definitions of a near-death experience and two per cent exhibited full awareness with explicit recall of “seeing” and “hearing” events – or out-of-body experiences.

Note: See our near-death experience resource center for lots more fascinating, reliable information on this vital topic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about near-death experiences.


This Self-Fuelling Boat Just Set Off on an Epic 6-Year Global Voyage
2017-07-17, Science Alert
http://www.sciencealert.com/this-self-fuelling-boat-just-embarked-on-an-epic-...

An amazing hydrogen-powered round-the-world ocean voyage has just gotten underway, with the US$5.25-million Energy Observer setting sail from Paris. The French vessel, which is set to make 101 stopovers in 50 countries across the globe during its epic 6-year undertaking, runs on wind and solar power, plus hydrogen generated from seawater. The trip, which will self-sufficiently circumnavigate the globe with zero greenhouse gas emissions, has been described as the 'Solar Impulse of the Seas', in reference to the pioneering solar-powered aircraft that flew around the world in 2016. The Energy Observer runs on solar power harnessed from extensive panelling ... in addition to two large wind turbines at the rear of the 30.5-metre (100-foot) long catamaran. When it's night time or when there's no wind to spin the turbines, the vessel relies on its chief innovation: an electrolysis system that extracts hydrogen from sea water and stores it in an onboard tank. While it all sounds very high tech, the Energy Observer ... is actually a 34-year-old former racing vessel [modified] to now serve as a model for emissions-free transport. That new mission is also why the vessel is expected to take some six years to complete its worldwide tour. Unlike previous renewable-powered sea voyages around the world, the Energy Observer's crew is taking their time ... hoping that each stopover in ports throughout 50 countries along the way will help demonstrate that there's a viable alternative to using environment-destroying fossil fuels.

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Using gravity to light up homes
2016-09-27, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/27/using-gravity-to-light-up-homes.html

According to the International Energy Agency, 1.2 billion people around the world do not have access to electricity, while over 2.7 billion people live without clean cooking facilities. In Africa, the lives of many people are made harder by a lack of access to reliable sources of power. Many people living off-grid use kerosene lamps for cooking and lighting. While this can be cheap, the environmental and health hazards are considerable. One piece of kit looking to push kerosene out of people's homes is the GravityLight. "GravityLight was invented by two designers looking for a safe alternative to kerosene lamps, which are used by over a billion people without electricity," Caroline Angus, co-founder of the GravityLight Foundation, said. In Kenya, [GravityLight] will cost roughly 2,500 shillings ($24.70). Once a user has set it up, it costs nothing to run. "Gravity Light is an off-grid light. It's powered by just lifting a weight, so you fill a bag with rocks or sand and winch up the weight, and as it gradually falls, it will turn a gear box which generates power," Angus added. For one villager, the Gravity Light has the potential to be life-changing. "This light will benefit me and my children, they will be able to read well, food will be cooked well in the evening, and the whole house will be well lit," they said. "The need for light is universal," Angus said. "Given there are solutions out there that can replace a kerosene lamp ... we need to urgently get those out there," she added.

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Is lunchtime meditation the latest craze?
2017-03-17, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/is-lunchtime-meditation-the...

Although the practice of meditation dates to ancient times, sleek, boutique for-profit mindfulness centers - outfitted with Instagram-worthy interiors, complimentary tea stations and soothing Spotify playlists - have spread like Starbucks in Los Angeles and New York. So, when three new meditation centers popped up in Washington, D.C., in a four-month span, I became intrigued. It’s not surprising that the District, filled as it is with overworked, sleep-deprived, stressed-out Type A personalities, is seeking out meditation as a form of self-care. Researchers have found that mindfulness-based programming not only helps individuals manage stress, depression and anxiety but also enhances productivity, creativity and concentration. Meditation-related physical benefits include lowered blood pressure, improved sleep and chronic pain management. Fortune 500 companies, elementary schools and sports teams are also following the trend, offering free guided sessions in an effort to boost efficiency and quality of output; basketball star Kobe Bryant, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and Oprah Winfrey are outspoken practitioners. The meditation buzz in Washington began with Just Meditate in Bethesda, which opened in November, and in December was quickly followed by recharj, a meditation and power-nap center within a block of the White House. Take Five, which opened its doors in Dupont Circle on Feb. 24, prides itself on being the city’s first meditation-only studio.

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More than 120 nations adopt treaty to ban nuclear weapons at UN meeting
2017-07-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/g20-summit-120-countries-ado...

More than 120 countries approved the first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons Friday at a UN meeting boycotted by all nuclear-armed nations. To loud applause, Elayne Whyte Gomez, president of the UN conference that has been negotiating the legally binding treaty, announced the results of the “historic” vote — 122 nations in favour, the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. “We have managed to sow the first seeds of a world free of nuclear weapons,” Whyte Gomez said. “We (are) ... saying to our children that, yes, it is possible to inherit a world free from nuclear weapons. The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years,” since atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 at the end of World War II, she said. None of the nine countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — is supporting the treaty. The treaty will be opened for signatures in September and come into force when 50 countries have ratified it, [Whyte Gomez] said, and its language leaves the door open for nuclear weapon states to become parties to the agreement. The treaty requires of all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances to develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices - and the threat to use such weapons.

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Thom Bond: Changing the Conversation with NVC
2017-07-09, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1664/thom-bond-changing-the-conversation-with-...

In 2002 Thom Bond was a successful environmental engineer, passionate about designing smart buildings that used alternative energy. Then he chanced upon Marshall Rosenberg's landmark book Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life. "I think Marshall Rosenberg's work may be the single most important discovery of the 20th century," [said Thom]. "His discovery that when we bring our attention to our universal human needs, it changes what we focus on, it changes how we think, and we naturally become more compassionate." Two short years after being introduced to Marshall Rosenberg's work ... Bond opened NYCNVC. His work over the past fifteen years has brought the benefits of NVC to tens of thousands of people across the world from diverse backgrounds, including the military, corporate leaders, educators, peace workers and more. "It's about changing the conversation we are having," says Bond succinctly, "The one we are in right now in most spheres is: 'Who is right and who is wrong?' And ... if we change the subject to, 'How can we meet more needs and make this situation work better?' That is the new conversation." This approach isn't about changing people - it's about seeing them in a different way. There is a difference between what I am observing and what I am telling myself about what I am observing. This is judging and it keeps us from being present and connected. When we tune into our feelings and tap into our needs -- our own or someone else's then compassion arises spontaneously.

Note: Watch an excellent 10-minute video of NVC founder Marshall Rosenberg describing this profound process. See also a great, concise guide to NVC which can help you be a more effective and compassionate communicator. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


As Colombia's FARC disarms, rebels enlisted to fight deforestation
2017-06-09, Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-colombia-deforestation-peace-idUSKBN19102V

Muddy rivers snake through rolling forested hills stretching to the horizon in Colombia's southern province of Caqueta that for decades were rebel lairs and an epicentre of the civil war. A peace deal signed last year between the government and the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ended half a century of conflict. The accord has seen about 7,000 FARC fighters leave their strongholds and gather in 26 demobilization zones where so far rebels have surrendered about a third of their weapons to the United Nations. But now a new battle is on: to preserve Colombia's forests that are under threat from farmers seeking grazing land and criminal gangs cutting down trees for illegal gold mining. Colombia - in partnership with Norway - is focusing efforts to halt forest loss with a scheme that offers former fighters training and jobs as forest guardians. Norway is donating about $3.5 million over two years to the pilot project it hopes will stem deforestation by offering paid jobs to ex-FARC fighters and communities to safeguard forests. About 1,100 ex-FARC fighters ... will be trained in how to track and report illegal logging, along with sustainable farming methods and eco-tourism projects - a way of helping them integrate back into civilian society. Many former fighters have spent most of their lives fighting in the jungle and have few other skills and little education. By providing skills training and jobs, rebels are less likely to pick up a weapon again and join other criminal groups.

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A year after slayings, Dallas police train in 'mindfulness'
2017-07-06, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/year-slayings-dallas-police-train-mindfuln...

Only hours after the ambush that killed five Dallas law enforcement officers, mental health experts began thinking ahead, searching for ways to ease the long-term effects of the attack on the men and women who patrol the nation's ninth-largest city. As she watched the July 7, 2016, assault unfold on the news, Dallas philanthropist Lyda Hill immediately thought of research she had funded to help returning combat veterans. Maybe it could help police too. A year later, Dallas officers are still grieving, but scores of them have received or are on track to receive specialized training in "mindfulness" and other stress-management techniques that aim to teach police how to better understand and control their emotions, both on and off the job. "One of the most powerful things you can do is teach people that it's OK to be human," said Richard Goerling, a police lieutenant in Hillsboro, Oregon, who teaches the mindfulness training. Goerling, who has been a leader in mindfulness training for the last decade, said traditional stress management often does not work for police. "You aren't going to stop the stress, but you are able to change how you respond to it," he said. The training has been done on a smaller scale in Seattle; Madison, Wisconsin; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and smaller California departments, among others. It aims to help officers recalibrate their responses to emotions so when in stressful situations, they can respond instead of react, Goerling said.

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'Amazing change' for Montreal homeless men taking part in urban beekeeping program
2017-06-12, CBC News (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/accueil-bonneau-bee-homeless-program-1...

Helping homeless people in Montreal reintegrate into society by teaching them to care for bees may seem like an unusual approach, but organizers of the Accueil Bonneau honey program say it's been a real success story. "When they get to be hands on, they see that it's all about being confident and being at peace with the bees," said Genevičve Kieffer Després, director of communications and special projects. Accueil Bonneau, a local group that offers a drop-in day centre and variety of services for homeless men, partnered with Montreal urban beekeeping company Alvéole four years ago. Now the program, whose aim is to teach job skills and encourage social interaction, has 60 hives in seven locations across the city. "The most important thing is that it's not just a job. It's learning to do something you love and getting rewarded for it. That is something we want to teach," she said. The honey harvested from the hives is sold at various locations in the city, the proceeds of which help fund the program and provide a small fee for participants. Kieffer Després says that working with the bees teaches participants, homeless men aged 25 and up, to be calm, gentle and more comfortable with socializing. She recalls one example of a man who started out very shy interacting with the public at one of points of sale and eventually was able to come out of his shell. "We started selling honey at the beginning of October, and by November, he was the guy going up to people telling them, 'come see the stand, come try the honey.' Amazing change."

Note: Don't miss the pictures and video of this incredible program available at the link above.


Half of all new cars in Norway are now electric or hybrid
2017-07-15, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/norway-half-new-cars-electric...

Norway said that electric or hybrid cars represented half of new registrations in the country so far in 2017, as Norway continues its trend towards becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries in the world. According to figures from the Road Traffic Information Council (OFV) ... sales of electric cars accounted for 17.6 per cent of new vehicle registrations in January and hybrid cars accounted for 33.8 per cent, for a combined 51.4 per cent. Norway already has the highest per capita number of all-electric cars in the world. The milestone is also particularly significant as a large proportion of Norway’s funds rely on the country’s petroleum industry "This is a milestone on Norway's road to an electric car fleet," Climate and Environment minister Vidar Helgesen [said]. Last year, the government agreed on a proposal to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered car starting in 2025. It also aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of new cars to 85 grams per kilometre by 2020 - a goal it has almost achieved: the figure stood at 88 grams in February compared to 133 grams when the decision was taken five years ago. In December, Norway registered its 100,000th electric car. Norway has also become the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Strong Progress for Paralyzed Patients After Stem Cell Therapy, Company Says
2017-03-23, NPR (San Francisco affiliate)
https://ww2.kqed.org/futureofyou/2017/03/23/strong-stem-cell-therapy-results-...

A small stem cell trial in which patients with severe spinal injuries appeared to make remarkable progress is still showing excellent results. One of the patients in the trial is 21-year-old Kris Boesen ... whose story we reported on last year. A car crash had left the Bakersfield, California native with three crushed vertebrae, almost no feeling below his neck, and a grim prognosis. Doctors believed he would live the rest of his life as a paraplegic. Enter stem cell therapy. Most treatments for serious spinal injuries concentrate on physical therapy to expand the range of the patient’s remaining motor skills and to limit further injury, not to reverse the actual damage. But last April ... researchers injected Boesen with 10 million stem cells. By July, he had recovered use of his hands to the point where he could use a wheelchair, a computer and a cellphone, and could take care of most of his daily living needs. Boesen is not the only patient to have improved in the trial, according to Asterias Biotherapeutics, which is conducting the research. Six patients who were experiencing various levels of paralysis and were injected with the 10 million stem cell dose. In a Jan. 24 update, the company said five of those patients had improved. On Tuesday, Asterias issued a new update, announcing that the sixth patient in the cohort has experienced a similar improvement. Last week, at 11 months post-injection, the elder Boesen said Kris has continued to improve.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Swiss Re shifts $130 bln investments to track ethical indices
2017-07-06, CNBC/Reuters
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/06/reuters-america-swiss-re-shifts-130-bln-invest...

Swiss Re is switching the entire $130 billion it holds in liquid assets to track ethical indices, the latest move towards principled investments by the insurance industry. The world's second-largest reinsurer ... said taking social and governance (ESG) criteria into account reduced the risk of losses especially for long term investors. "This is not only about doing good, we have done it because it makes economic sense," Swiss Re Chief Investment Officer Guido Fuerer told Reuters. Institutional investors are increasingly looking at how companies perform on environmental, social and governance-related issues, given the potential for poor behaviour to lead to a share price hit. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch Equity and Quant Strategy team last month said ESG-based investing reduced bankruptcy risks for U.S. stocks, while companies with the widest credit default swap spreads are the ones with the weakest ESG credentials, according to research by Hermes Investment Management. "The ultimate point is to put incentives to companies to become more sustainable," said Swiss Re's Fuerer. He said Swiss Re is the first insurer to base its whole portfolio on ethical principles, with portfolio managers being told to use MSCI's environmental, governance and social indices when making investment decisions. MSCI rates companies according to various ethical criteria, with the score combined with market capitalisation weight to create an index. Companies with a more ethical performance have a greater weight in the index.

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Stunning Photos Bust Stereotypes Of What ‘Everyday Africa’ Looks Like
2017-06-14, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/everyday-africa-instagram-photos_us_59404...

An Instagram account seeks to counter misconceptions about people and countries in Africa by sharing gorgeous photos of everyday life on the continent. Everyday Africa, which started five years ago and now has about 340,000 followers, regularly publishes pictures from more than 30 photographers, most of whom are African themselves. Their work reflects a range of experiences on the continent: kids playing in a pool, young women taking selfies, people selling food at a street market. The project, largely directed at an American audience, aims to use photography to upend stereotypes about Africa ― namely that it is mainly a region of war, poverty and safaris ― and instead celebrate its rich diversity. “The way news functions is to focus on the extremes ― often it’s the very negative,” co-founder Peter DiCampo [said]. “The war and poverty parts are certainly present, but there’s so much else.” The project just released a book. Since 2013, DiCampo and others have visited more than 2,500 students in classrooms, mainly in Chicago and Washington, D.C., to teach kids about the Everyday Africa project and stereotypes in the media. Teachers then use their curriculum ― free to the public ― over several weeks to teach students about media and photography, and to have students do their own “everyday” projects. Everyday Africa is just one of many efforts ... to push back against stereotypes of the continent. The Twitter hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou ... also sought to break [these] stereotypes.

Note: Don't miss the beautiful photos at the link above.


A former exec at Trader Joe’s grows another kind of grocery store
2017-06-23, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2017/0623/A-former-exec-a...

[Dave] Rauch worked for 31 years at Trader Joe’s, the last 14 as a president. He helped grow the small retail chain in California into a grocery store with a national presence. He retired in 2008. But Rauch wasn’t really ready to call it quits. He started growing another food store – Daily Table, located in a low-income neighborhood of Boston. “I failed retirement,” says Rauch, his eyes crinkling when he smiles. Since it opened two years ago, Daily Table has been a pioneer in its approach to food waste, food deserts, hunger, and obesity. It’s a nonprofit grocery store, selling healthy food at bargain prices. The food that Daily Table sells is excess food – either donated by various organizations or bought at steep discounts from big-name companies looking to unload items that are close to their expiration dates. The items are resold at a fraction of retail prices – and yes, they still haven’t reached their expiration dates. Daily Table looks like a Trader Joe’s. [The store is filled with] stacks of organic cereal, produce piled high on display tables, and in a refrigerated section, precooked meals and fresh salads made on-site. As many as 49 million Americans are food insecure, says Rauch, citing a common statistic. The data have frustrated him. “We’re one of the richest nations in the history of food production,” he says. “It just seemed so incongruous to me.” To get excess healthy food into the hands of those in need, Rauch searched for “inefficiencies in the system.” He found them and channeled what he learned into Daily Table.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Organic Food Company Doesn’t Discriminate Against Ex-Offenders—It Seeks Them Out
2016-11-25, Yes!
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/this-organic-food-company-doesnt-disc...

Mike Miles hadn’t had a stable job in years. This wasn’t due to a poor work ethic. Because Miles had a criminal record, he was always cut loose when it came time to let staff go. “It was like walking on eggshells. You just never knew when you’d be gone,” he recounted. After his release from prison in 2007, Miles struggled to find stability. It wasn’t until October 2015 ... that a cousin told Miles about Lancaster Food Company, a local business that ... focuses on hiring formerly incarcerated people. Miles submitted an application. He got an interview. And, soon after that, he began a new job, encompassing everything from food production to maintenance, not to mention a livable wage of $15 an hour. He says it’s the best job he’s ever had. Miles’ scenario is rare in Lancaster, where the poverty rate holds steady at 30 percent. This figure riled Charlie Crystle, Lancaster’s co-founder and CEO. He believes that food production is a key way to “meet people where they are,” referring to former offenders who may lack a high school or college degree. Lancaster produces products like bread and maple syrup, all of it USDA certified organic. Crystle says he wants to inspire other companies and entrepreneurs to rethink their current practices and ignite conversations around minimum wage and employment opportunities for everyone, including ex-offenders. Not one employee has quit. According to Mike Miles, having a steady job has given him new courage.

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Audacious sacrifice with incredible payoff: the purpose journey of REI
2017-06-28, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1636/audacious-sacrifice-with-incredible-payof...

On Friday 27th November 2015, REI did a remarkable thing. It closed the doors of all 143 of its retail stores, its headquarters and its two distribution centres. On this day, REI paid every one of its 12,000 employees to #OptOutside – to enjoy the great outdoors with friends and family – and invited all its customers and the entire American nation to join them. The most astonishing fact about the #OptOutside store closure was that it took place on Black Friday: the biggest shopping day of the year. Turning its back on millions of dollars’ worth of sales, REI went ... against a cardinal rule of traditional business. Instead of cashing in on a one-day opportunity for inflated profits, it chose to act in a way that would best support its purpose – that of ‘inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship’. Here’s how Jerry Stritzke, REI’s president and CEO, explained the decision: “As a member-owned co-op, our definition of success goes beyond money. We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand and so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles.” It was a risk for sure, but the payoff has been sensational. More than 1.4 million people responded to REI’s invitation to #OptOutside, and 175 organisations – companies as well as non-profits – joined the movement. It was a response that showed not just tremendous levels of engagement, but engagement of the highest order.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


World’s Top Religious Leaders Issue Rare Joint Appeal
2017-06-15, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/worlds-top-religious-leaders-issue-rare-j...

In a rare move, major religious leaders ― from Pope Francis to the Dalai Lama ― issued a joint appeal Wednesday asking people to follow a simple bit of advice: Make friends with people of other faiths. “Our advice is to make friends to followers of all religions,” Ayatollah Sayyid Fadhel Al-Milani, one of the U.K.’s most senior Shia Muslim clerics, said in a video recording. “Personal contact, personal friendship, then we can exchange a deeper level of experience,” the Dalai Lama said. Pope Francis chose to speak about his long friendship with the Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who also appeared in the video. “Make Friends” is an initiative of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, an interfaith organization with offices in Israel and the United States. In a press release, organizers said the project’s mission is to counter the idea that people view each others’ religions with distrust or disdain - and to potentially even reduce violence conducted in the name of religion. Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein, the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s director, said that this project ... affirms the need for friendship between faiths. The 22 leaders involved in the appeal represent a wide spectrum of religious beliefs. Each leader contributed a personal statement specifically for the purposes of this project.

Note: How strange that very few major media picked up on this important and inspiring article.


World Coal Production Just Had Its Biggest Drop on Record
2017-06-13, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-13/coal-s-era-starts-to-wane-...

It’s the end of an era for coal. Production of the fossil fuel dropped by a record amount in 2016, according to BP Plc’s annual review of global energy trends. China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, burned the least coal in six years and use dropped in the U.S to a level last seen in the 1970s, the company’s data show. Coal, the most polluting fuel that was once the world’s fastest growing energy source, has been a target of countries and companies alike as the world begins to work toward the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Consumption is falling as the world’s biggest energy companies promote cleaner-burning natural gas, China’s economy evolves to focus more on services than heavy manufacturing and renewable energy like wind and solar becomes cheaper. U.S. demand for coal fell by 33.4 million tons of oil equivalent last year to 358.4 million, the biggest decline in the world in absolute terms, BP data show. Global consumption dropped 1.7 percent last year compared with an average 1.9 percent yearly increase from 2005 to 2015, according to BP. Consumption of coal fell in every continent except Africa, the BP data show. Germany, Europe’s biggest user, consumed 4.3 percent less coal. U.K. demand fell 52.5 percent, the biggest percentage decline among the world’s major economies, according to BP’s data.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'Seductive names' make vegetables more appealing
2017-06-13, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-40245922

How do you get more people to eat their greens? Give vegetables seductive names, say US researchers. A team at Stanford tried it out on students in the university cafeteria and found veggie sales went up by 25% when indulgent labels were used. "Sizzlin' beans", "dynamite beets" and "twisted citrus-glazed carrots" tempted diners to fill their plates. Healthy labels, such as "wholesome", were a turn-off, even though the dishes were identical in every other way. The indulgent labels came out top and included "twisted garlic-ginger butternut squash wedges" and "dynamite chilli and tangy lime-seasoned beets". The researchers, Brad Turnwald and colleagues, say the findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, make sense when you consider the psychology behind food choices. "When most people are making a dining decision, they are motivated by taste. And studies show that people tend to think of healthier options as less tasty for some reason. "Labels really can influence our sensory experience, affecting how tasty and filling we think food will be. So we wanted to reframe how people view vegetables, using indulgent labels." Although most of us know that we should eat plenty of veg, too few of us do it. People are advised to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Roughly a quarter of UK adults actually achieve this, however.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In Beijing, Two Wheels Are Only a Smartphone Away
2017-03-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/19/world/asia/beijing-bike-sharing.html

Beijing was once a city of bikes, the capital of a country known as the Bicycle Kingdom for the millions of two-wheelers that dominated urban transport in a state-planned economy where cars were reserved for official business and the politically powerful. Decades of remarkable economic growth, beginning in the 1990s, led to a huge influx of cars in cities like Beijing. As the economy roared, autos pushed bikes off the roads, creating heavy pollution and miserable traffic. Now, Beijing may be returning to its roots. Thanks to about two dozen technology start-ups, brightly colored shared bikes have flooded Beijing since last year, dotting a normally drab cityscape with flashes of bumblebee yellow, kingfisher blue and tangerine. Commuters pick up the bikes and then ride and drop them off anywhere they like, locking the back wheel, with no need to find a stand or retether them. Costing as little as 7 cents a half-hour and designed to take people the last leg from public transport to their places of work or entertainment, the bikes have the potential to transform urban living and even shape people’s decisions about where to live and work. Those are vital issues in this sprawl of about 20 million people, many of whom spend hours a day commuting. “Having a bike like this might allow me to choose, say, to live a bit further out, or take another job in a place that isn’t as easy to get to,” said Ms. Cao, [an] employee at [an] advertising agency.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Weight Training Is Ridiculously Good For You
2017-06-06, Time
http://time.com/4803697/bodybuilding-strength-training/

Modern exercise science shows that working with weights - whether that weight is a light dumbbell or your own body - may be the best exercise for lifelong physical function and fitness. Brad Schoenfeld, an assistant professor of exercise science at New York City’s Lehman College ... has published more than 30 academic papers on every aspect of resistance training - from the biomechanics of the push-up to the body’s nutrient needs following a hard lift. Later in life, bone tissue losses accelerate and outpace the creation of new bone. This loss of bone tissue leads to the weakness and postural problems that plague many older adults. “Resistance training counteracts all those bone losses and postural deficits,” he says. For anyone at risk for metabolic conditions - type-2 diabetes, but also high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome - strength training is among the most-effective remedies. Strength training also seems to be a potent antidote to inflammation, a major risk factor for heart disease and other conditions. More research has linked strength training to improved focus and cognitive function, better balance, less anxiety and greater well-being. If all that isn’t convincing enough ... perhaps this is: maintaining strength later in life “seems to be one of the best predictors of survival," says [University of Michigan professor Mark] Peterson. “When we add strength ... almost every health outcome improves.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Hypnosis, grounded in science
2017-06-12, The Globe and Mail (One of Canada's leading newspapers)
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/science-hypnos...

Hypnosis isn’t just for hucksters and Hollywood villains any more. Clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating anxiety, phobias, skin rashes, irritable-bowel syndrome and acute and chronic pain. In North America, medical centres such as the Mayo Clinic have added hypnosis to their pain-management tools. As with mindfulness meditation, hypnosis harnesses the brain’s natural abilities to regulate the body and control the random thoughts that ricochet through our minds, says Dr. David Patterson, a University of Washington psychologist. But, he adds, meditation can take weeks or months of practice before it helps patients. With hypnosis, “the relief is just a lot quicker and more dramatic.” About 10 per cent to 15 per cent of adults are “highly hypnotizable,” meaning they can easily slip into a trance and act on hypnotic suggestions. The same percentage of adults do not respond to hypnosis at all, while the rest are somewhere in between. In hypnosis circles, the word “powerful” comes up a lot. But it’s hardly an overstatement when you consider the work of Dr. Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville, director of the pain clinic ... at the University Hospital of Ličge, Belgium. Hypnosis allows patients to avoid general anesthesia in surgeries ranging from mastectomies to heart-valve replacements, Faymonville says. Since 1992, she has treated more than 9,500 surgery patients with “hypno-sedation,” combining hypnosis with small amounts of local anesthesia. Of those patients, just 18 had to switch to general anesthesia.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


World's biggest floating solar power plant in China can power 15,000 homes
2017-06-02, International Business Times
http://www.ibtimes.co.in/worlds-biggest-floating-solar-power-plant-china-can-...

China has activated the world's biggest floating solar power plant, which is situated in the city of Huainan, in the central Anhui province. According to Sungrow Power Supply, the firm that built the facility, the new plant can generate 40 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power as many as 15,000 homes. The new solar farm, which was connected to Huainan's power grid in May, is constructed on an area that was used for rigorous coal mining for years. Gradual sinking of the area and heavy rain thereafter created a lake, where Sungrow now have installed floating solar panels, ranging in depth from four to 10 metres. China is currently considered to be the world's largest solar energy producer with a capacity of 77.42 gigawatts by the end of 2016. According to reports, solar power accounts for only one percent of China's energy output. However, this could soon change as the country has shifted its attention towards clean energy. Currently, renewables represent only 11 percent of China's energy use, but that number could go up to 20 percent by 2030. China also unveiled the world's biggest solar farm in a far-off region of the Tibetan plateau, in western Qinghai province earlier this year. The facility, named Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, covers nearly 27 square kilometres, with an ability to generate energy to power 200,000 homes.

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'Spectacular' drop in renewable energy costs leads to record global boost
2017-06-06, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/06/spectacular-drop-in-renew...

Renewable energy capacity around the world was boosted by a record amount in 2016 and delivered at a markedly lower cost, according to new global data – although the total financial investment in renewables actually fell. Plummeting prices for solar and wind power ... led to new power deals in countries including Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates all being priced well below fossil fuel or nuclear options. The new renewable energy capacity installed worldwide in 2016 was 161GW, a 10% rise on 2015 and a new record, according to REN21, a network of public and private sector groups covering 155 nations and 96% of the world’s population. New solar power provided the biggest boost – half of all new capacity – followed by wind power at a third and hydropower at 15%. It is the first year that the new solar capacity added has been greater than any other electricity-producing technology. Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who delivered the Paris agreement and is now convenor of Mission 2020, said: “The economic case for renewables as the backbone of our global energy system is increasingly clear and proven. Offering ever greater bang-for-buck, renewables are quite simply the cheapest way to generate energy in an ever-growing number of countries.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Jeroo Billimoria Is Turning Poor Kids Into Savers
2013-03-07, Daily Beast
http://www.thedailybeast.com/how-jeroo-billimoria-is-turning-poor-kids-into-s...

Jeroo Billimoria is addressing the people at the bottom of the world’s economic pyramid: children in the developing world. “If you want to break poverty, don’t start with the adults. Start with the young people,” she says. Billimoria, 47, is a Mumbai-born serial social entrepreneur whose latest project is ... to bring hundreds of millions of children into the world’s financial system. Billimoria started working with street kids in India 20 years ago, which led her to found ... Child Helpline International, which now operates in 153 countries. “These street kids - 12 to 14 years old - would earn 100 rupees a day ($1.50). And then at the end of the day ... they had nowhere to put the money and feared it would be stolen if they didn’t spend it.” That led to her next effort, Aflatoun, which encourages financial literacy and savings among children. With her latest launch, Child & Youth Finance International ... Billimoria is aiming to scale up such efforts by enlisting banks and governments. “Currently, it is easier for a child to get a credit card than it is to get a savings account,” she says. Products like a simple passbook savings account, or a mobile version thereof ... are difficult to find, even in some of the most heavily banked countries in the world. After consulting with more than two dozen central banks, C&YFI has spelled out child-friendly criteria - no (or very small) minimum deposit, communication in clear language, minimal fees. Then it encourages banks to roll out the products that make sense for them.

Note: For more, read this inspiring article written by Ms. Billimoria.


The anti-terror ad going viral in the Middle East
2017-05-29, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/29/media/ramadan-advertisement-terror-zain/index...

A hard-hitting video advertisement of a suicide bomber being challenged by victims of terrorism has gone viral in the Middle East. Kuwaiti telecom company Zain launched the TV ad on Saturday at the start of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Muslim calendar, in an effort to counter terrorism. Since then, the three minute music video has been viewed nearly 2.4 million times on YouTube. The message of the company's ad is unmistakeable. "Worship your God with love, with love not terror," sings Hussain Al Jassmi, an Emirati star famous in the region. "Be tender in your faith, gentle not harsh. Confront your enemy, with peace not war." Ramadan is typically a huge month for TV audiences as families gather to break their dawn-to-dusk fast and watch TV shows together. Advertisers spend a large proportion of their budget during the month. Zain has struck a chord before with its creative ads. Its spot last year carrying a message of peace was viewed 13 million times while its Eid holiday ad, which marked the end of Ramadan, had more than 24 million views. This latest project recreates the aftermath of a bus bombing as the suicide bomber walks through the carnage. The terrorist recites Islamic phrases but he is corrected by those sitting in front of him. The ad also features survivors of previous attacks including a man from the blast at a Kuwaiti mosque in 2015 and a bride from an attack on a wedding in Amman, Jordan, in 2005.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Eyes of the highways: Raising a 'trucker army' for trafficking fight
2017-04-12, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/12/world/truckers-human-trafficking-freedom-project/

There was a time when truck driver Kevin Kimmel knew little about the scourge of human trafficking. That all changed when he pulled into a gas station [and] a "kind of unusual" family recreational vehicle parked nearby caught his eye. Kimmel ... saw what he thought was a "minor female" appear from behind [a] curtain before abruptly disappearing. He immediately [called] the local sheriff. Police cars were soon on the scene. He later saw on the news that the woman he spotted was a 20-year-old sex trafficking victim. She had been lured away from her home in Iowa, held against her will and subjected to ... forced prostitution. Yet without the concern or quick thinking of Kimmel, she may never have been found. Truckers ... are increasingly seen as operating on the front line in the fight against human trafficking. Kimmel, who still drives a truck and speaks about his experiences at anti-trafficking events around the country, says that truckers tend to spend a lot of time in the places that victims pass through given the transient nature of their job. "[Traffickers] are constantly moving these people," he explains. "But when you're moving them, then you come into my world. If we know the signs and are vigilant then we can make a big piece of this problem go away." This is a point echoed by Kendis Paris of anti-trafficking charity Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). Her organization seeks to educate truckers about what to look out for, how to report suspected incidences of trafficking and why it is important to do so.

Note: Learn about the inspiring Truckers Against Trafficking movement and watch the excellent video there.


'Extraordinary' month for Scottish renewable energy
2017-06-05, BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-40149604

Scotland had "another extraordinary month" for renewable energy in May, according to environmental groups. Wind turbines alone provided enough electricity to supply 95% of Scottish homes. WWF Scotland analysed renewables data, [and] found that in several parts of Scotland, homes fitted with solar PV panels had enough sunshine to generate more than 100% of the electricity needs of an average household. Wind turbines provided 863,495 MWh of electricity to the National Grid during May, an increase of almost 20% compared to May 2016 when wind energy provided 692,896 MWh. Overall the data showed that wind generated enough output to supply 100% or more of Scottish homes on 11 of the 31 days in May. Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: "The global energy revolution is unstoppable and continues at pace here in Scotland. "On one day in particular, 15 May, output from turbines generated enough electricity to power 190% of homes or 99% of Scotland's total electricity demand. Month after month, renewables play a vital role in cutting carbon emissions and powering the Scottish economy." Homes with solar PV (photovoltaic) panels generated over 100% of average household electricity needs in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Lerwick. Dr Gardner added: "Thanks to a super sunny month, solar was on sizzling form and could have met more than 100% of household electricity demand in towns and cities across Scotland."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


School District Switches to Local and Organic Meals, Cuts Carbon Footprint—and Saves Money
2017-05-22, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/school-district-switches-to-local-and-organ...

When her eldest son was in elementary school in the Oakland Unified School District, Ruth Woodruff became alarmed by the meals he was being served at school. A lot of it was frozen, processed foods, packed with preservatives. So in late 2008, she and a group of parents got together to urge the school district to reconsider how and where it was buying the food it served students. Now, five years after the district responded by overhauling the menus at its 100-plus schools - serving less meat and adding more fruits and vegetables - a new report has revealed some surprising results. The study by the environmental nonprofit, Friends of the Earth (FOE), found that the district’s Farm to School initiative not only provided its 48,000 or so students with access to healthier foods, but that between 2012 and 2015 its overall food costs declined and its carbon footprint shrank. The [Farm to School] program saves the district money because cooks prepare school meals from scratch. The lunch menu in OUSD schools transformed from a smorgasbord of processed foods to local, organic options. School cooks season and roast antibiotic-free chicken in-house, instead of heating up pre-cooked drumsticks. They also substitute frozen vegetables with fresh sides, like carrot salads made from scratch. In addition to a healthier menu, students get to go on field trips to local farms and take cooking classes through the program.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Saudi billionaire pledges entire fortune to charity
2015-01-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/01/saudi-billionaire-pledges-ent...

A Saudi billionaire has announced one of the biggest philanthropic gestures in history, promising to donate all his $32bn (Ł20bn) wealth to charity over the coming years. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a 60-year-old magnate who is a nephew of the late King Abdullah, said he would channel the money through his own Alwaleed Philanthropies organisation. The money will go to programmes promoting health, eradicating disease, modernisation, intercultural understanding and empowering women, he said. “This donation will be allocated according to a well-devised plan throughout the coming years,” the prince said in a statement. “Philanthropy is a personal responsibility, which I embarked upon more than three decades ago and is an intrinsic part of my Islamic faith. With this pledge, I am honouring my life-long commitment to what matters most – helping to build a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world for generations to come.” The prince’s move will be modelled on the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, which last year donated $4bn to various causes. Gates said Alwaleed’s decision “is an inspiration to all of us working in philanthropy around the world.” Gates, who set up his foundation in 2000, has signed up more than 100 billionaires, including Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson and George Lucas, to giving away half their fortunes to charity.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


US army veterans find peace in protecting rhinos from poaching
2017-05-30, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/30/us-army-veterans-find-pea...

In northern South Africa, former soldiers are fighting both the illegal wildlife trade and the twin scourges of unemployment and PTSD. The job of [Ryan] Tate, a 32-year-old former US Marine, and the group of US military veterans he has assembled in a remote private reserve in the far north of South Africa is simple: keep the rhinos and the rest of the game in the bush around their remote base alive. The men are not mercenaries, or park rangers – they work for Tate’s Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife (Vetpaw), a US-based nonprofit organisation funded by private donations. All have seen combat, often with elite military units, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The scale of the challenge of protecting South Africa’s rhinos is clear to everyone, with a rise in poaching in recent years threatening to reverse conservation gains made over decades. Patchy law enforcement, corruption and poverty combine to exacerbate the problem. Tate founded Vetpaw after seeing a documentary about poaching and the deaths of park rangers in Africa. His team now work on a dozen private game reserves covering a total of around 200,000 hectares in Limpopo, the country’s northernmost province. But if one aim of Vetpaw is to counter poaching, another is to help combat veterans in the US, where former servicemen suffer high levels of unemployment and mental illness. “Everyone gets PTSD when they come back from war … I saw a need in two places and just put them together,” says Tate.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Struck by Uganda's Water Problem, One Student Did Something About It
2017-05-19, National Geographic
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/05/kathy-ku-spouts-uganda-water-filte...

While teaching in Uganda in 2010, American college student Kathy Ku noticed that both she and her host family were getting sick a lot from drinking the water. She kept thinking about the problem even after she was back in school at Harvard University, designing a ceramic water filter and getting other students involved. She [then] took a year off to pursue the idea in earnest. Ku wasn’t aiming just to bring water filters into Uganda. She wanted to actually make them there, sourcing the needed clay and sawdust locally. Now, five years after that exploratory visit during her year off, Ku and co-founder John Kye have a full-fledged water filter factory near Kampala. Their organization, Spouts, has grown to more than 40 staffers and distributed about 14,000 ceramic filters, which remove 99.9 percent of bacteria. "There’s this method of cleaning your drinking water by leaving it out in clear plastic bottles in the sun. So I figured, OK, let me try that. I took a swig of the water and essentially spit it back out because it tasted like burnt plastic, and it was really warm," [said Kathy]. "I thought there had to be a better solution that people would actually like to use." Our [new] factory has the capacity to make 10,000 filters a month. We’re closer to 1,500 to 2,000 filters a month now, but ... it has the machinery and the capacity to do a lot more."

Note: Don't miss the National Geographic footage of this amazing project at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


‘James Bond of Philanthropy’ Gives Away the Last of His Fortune
2017-01-05, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/nyregion/james-bond-of-philanthropy-gives-...

Nearly five years ago, Charles F. Feeney sat in a cushy armchair in an apartment on the east side of Manhattan, grandchildren’s artwork taped to the walls, and said that by the end of 2016, he was going to hand out the last of a great fortune that he had made. It was a race: Mr. Feeney was then 81, and Atlantic Philanthropies, a collection of private foundations he had started and funded, still had about $1.5 billion left. Writing checks willy-nilly was not Mr. Feeney’s way. Last month, Mr. Feeney and Atlantic completed the sprint and made a final grant, $7 million to Cornell University, to support students doing community service work. He had officially emptied his pockets, meeting his aspiration of “giving while living.” Altogether, he had contributed $8 billion to his philanthropies, which have supported higher education, public health, human rights and scientific research. None of the major American philanthropists have given away a greater proportion of their wealth, and starting in 1982, Mr. Feeney did most of this in complete secrecy, leading Forbes magazine to call him the “James Bond of philanthropy.” For years, Atlantic’s support came with a requirement that the beneficiaries not publicize its involvement. Beyond Mr. Feeney’s reticence about blowing his own horn, “it was also a way to leverage more donations - some other individual might contribute to get the naming rights,” said Christopher G. Oechsli, the president and chief executive officer of Atlantic.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Former child soldier wins prize for risking his life to protect Congo's wildlife
2017-04-24, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/23/africa/goldman-prize-rodrigue-katembo/

He has been beaten, threatened and imprisoned. But the former child soldier and winner of this year's Goldman Environmental Prize says he will not stop until those wanting to destroy the Democratic Republic of Congo's protected wildlife "are held responsible for their actions." "Even if I or others are not able to (make this happen)," says Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo, "then the future generations will have this information and will do it." Katembo ... has been awarded the top environmental prize in recognition of the heroism he showed in preventing oil exploration inside Virunga - Africa's oldest national park. His dangerous undercover investigations exposed bribery and corruption among officials. The park is home to a quarter of the world's last remaining mountain gorillas, there are less than 900 left globally. Covering the size of a small country, Virunga is more than 3,000 square miles packed with volcanoes, lush forests and mountain glaciers that tear through the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. As a park ranger, Katembo has one of the most dangerous jobs in the region. Amidst political instability, armed poachers and rebels - who have been warring in the park for the past 20 years - outnumber park rangers ten to one. Protecting Virunga hasn't been easy. In 2013, Katembo was arrested and held for 17 days [after attempting] to stop construction of an oil communication device within the park. Local chiefs have [also] offered him bribes, "to help them get oil exploration going in the park," he says.

Note: A Netflix documentary called "Virunga" follows Katembo, colleagues André Bauma, Emmanuel du Merode and French investigative journalist Mélanie Gouby, as they battle oil exploration and armed conflict in the park.


Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here
2016-07-29, Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/israel-proves-the-desalination-era...

Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants. Desal works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. Breakthroughs in membrane technology ... have made desalination much more efficient. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination. Water stress has been a major factor in the turmoil tearing apart the Middle East, but [Edo] Bar-Zeev [with the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research] believes that Israel’s solutions can help its parched neighbors, too - and in the process, bring together old enemies in common cause. Bar-Zeev acknowledges that water will likely be a source of conflict in the Middle East in the future. “But I believe water can be a bridge,” he says. Bar-Zeev has ambitious plans for a Water Knows No Boundaries conference in 2018, which will bring together water scientists from Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza for a meeting of the minds.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


India cancels plans for huge coal power stations as solar energy prices hit record low
2017-05-24, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/india-solar-power-electricity-cancel...

India has cancelled plans to build nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations – about the same as the total amount in the UK – with the price for solar electricity “free falling” to levels once considered impossible. Analyst Tim Buckley said the shift away from the dirtiest fossil fuel and towards solar in India would have “profound” implications on global energy markets. According to his article on the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis’s website, 13.7GW of planned coal power projects have been cancelled so far this month – in a stark indication of the pace of change. In January last year, Finnish company Fortum agreed to generate electricity in Rajasthan with a record low tariff, or guaranteed price, of 4.34 rupees per kilowatt-hour. At the time analysts said this price was so low would never be repeated. But, 16 months later, an auction for a 500-megawatt solar facility resulted in a tariff of just 2.44 rupees – compared to the wholesale price charged by a major coal-power utility of 3.2 rupees (about 31 per cent higher). “For the first time solar is cheaper than coal in India,” Mr Buckley said. “Measures taken by the Indian Government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable ... because of the prohibitively high cost of imported coal relative to the long-term electricity supply contracts”.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In 5 Minutes, He Lets the Blind See
2015-11-07, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/08/opinion/sunday/in-5-minutes-he-lets-the-bl...

He has restored eyesight to more than 100,000 people, perhaps more than any doctor in history. His patients ... stagger and grope their way to him along mountain trails from remote villages, hoping to go under his scalpel. A day after he operates to remove cataracts, he pulls off the bandages - and, lo! They can see clearly. At first tentatively, then jubilantly, they gaze about. A few hours later, they walk home, radiating an ineffable bliss. Dr. Sanduk Ruit, a Nepali ophthalmologist ... has pioneered a simple cataract microsurgery technique that costs only $25 per patient and is virtually always successful. Indeed, his “Nepal method” is now taught in United States medical schools. In the United States, cataract surgery is typically performed with complex machines. But these are unaffordable in poor countries, so Dr. Ruit [pioneered a] small-incision microsurgery to remove cataracts without sutures. At first, skeptics denounced or mocked his innovations. But then the American Journal of Ophthalmology published a study of a randomized trial finding that Dr. Ruit’s technique had exactly the same outcome (98 percent success at a six-month follow-up) as the Western machines. One difference was that Dr. Ruit’s method was much faster and cheaper. He founded the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, which ... conducts eye surgery on 30,000 patients annually, [as well as] manufactures 450,000 tiny lenses a year for use in cataract surgery, keeping costs to $3 a lens compared to $200 in the West.

Note: Your direct donation to help this man can cure blindness for many people. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


From Addiction to Academy Founder: Dr Teri DeLane Teaches Kids to Trust
2017-05-15, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1590/from-addiction-to-academy-founder-dr-teri...

Founder and principal of San Francisco’s Life Learning Academy, Dr. Teri Delane says that the success of the school that serves the city’s highest-risk, highest-need students can be replicated. The school tracks a 99% graduation rate with 85% of the students going on to college. The kids that do so well here [have] histories of school failure, truancy, arrest and substance abuse. The ones that traditional school settings can’t provide for. [Life Learning Academy] has it roots in the Delancey Street Foundation, a well-known San Francisco-based self-help program for drug addicts and ex-offenders. Delane ... has first hand experience of the Delancey Street program - entering the program as an addict herself. Delane incorporated practices of the program that would could be integrated into a school environment: creating community, engagement, leadership, dress code and working toward rewards. And woven through it all is Delane’s philosophy. “What we do at the school is a circle around the kids with a number of things that have to be included in their lives in order for them to have a full life: education, a job, having money and ... learning how to give back,” she said. “I teach that the way you get is by giving. Not by sitting around talking about your problems. We don’t stay stuck in our past.” All the students know Delane’s background, see what she has accomplished and witness her giving back every day.

Note: Listen to an interview with this amazing school's founder. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Tiny houses approved for the City of Atlanta
2017-05-09, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (A leading newspaper of Atlanta, Georgia)
http://www.ajc.com/lifestyles/home/tiny-houses-approved-for-the-city-atlanta/...

Tiny houses are closer than ever to being a reality in Atlanta. Last week, the Atlanta City Council voted on and approved an amendment to city zoning laws allowing “accessory dwelling units.” Local advocacy group Tiny House Atlanta called it “a great step in the right direction.” The language in the amendment ... carves out space for accessory dwelling units of larger main structures. A tiny house counts as one of these secondary units if it is less than 750 square feet and has its own kitchen. The amendment also allows “accessory dwelling units without off-street parking on parcels without a curbcut or parcels without off-street parking,” making the affected areas more attractive to car-less Atlantans. While the change sets out possibilities for tiny houses that are satellites of existing homes, it does not allow for standalone tiny homes on their own lots. The new language specifically prohibits subdividing accessory units from the primary house. It also says nothing about tiny homes on wheels. Many tiny home owners make their homes into RVs, which subject them to a whole separate set of rules. Still, tiny house advocates said they are happy with the changes. “The sky’s the limit to what’s possible,” Atlanta city councilman Kwanza Hall, the bill’s sponsor, [said]. “It’s just up to us as a community to figure out what we want to do, what we envision in the future, and opening up as many possibilities as we can dream up.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Teenager Is on Track to Plant a Trillion Trees
2017-03-07, National Geographic
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/felix-finkbeiner-plant-for-the-pla...

Children are not often invited to speak to the United Nations General Assembly. But there stood Felix Finkbeiner ... with a somber question about climate change. “We children know adults know the challenges and they know the solutions,” he said. “We don’t know why there is so little action.” At the time ... Finkbeiner was four years into leading a remarkable environmental cause that has since expanded into a global network of children activists working [to reforest] the planet. Today, Finkbeiner is 19 - and Plant-for-the-Planet, the environmental group he founded, together with the UN’s Billion Tree campaign, has planted more than 14 billion trees in more than 130 nations. The group has also pushed the planting goal upward to one trillion trees - 150 for every person on the Earth. The organization also prompted the first scientific, full-scale global tree count, which is now aiding NASA in an ongoing study of forests’ abilities to store carbon dioxide. In many ways, Finkbeiner has done more than any other activist to recruit youth to the climate change movement. Plant-for-the-Planet now has an army of 55,000 “climate justice ambassadors,” who have ... become climate activists in their home communities. Most of them are between the ages nine and 12. Meanwhile, he’ll keep giving speeches. “It is in our own self-interest to get children to act,” he says. “At the same time, I don’t think we can give up on this generation of adults. All we can do is push them in the right direction.”

Note: Watch this incredible young leader boldly address the United Nations.


College courses without textbooks? These schools are giving it a shot
2016-06-15, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/06/15/college-courses...

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.


Upworthy’s Quest to Engineer Optimism for an Anxious Age
2017-05-01, Wired
https://www.wired.com/2017/05/upworthys-quest-engineer-optimism-anxious-age/

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.


Full tilt: giant offshore wind farm opens in North Sea
2017-05-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/09/full-tilt-giant-offshore-...

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.


The Canadian businessman who sponsored 200 refugees
2017-01-09, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38473532

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.


Iceland is beating teenage substance abuse
2017-03-03, CBC News (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/iceland-teenage-substance-abus...

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].

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Giving thanks
2016-11-22, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/11/22/giving-thanks/?...

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.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Placebo Effect Can Mend Your Broken Heart, Study Suggests
2017-04-26, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-get-over-a-breakup-according-to-sc...

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Prisoners give back, train puppies to guide blind, deaf
2016-09-05, The Detroit News (Detroit's leading newspaper)
http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/macomb-county/2016/09/05/prisoner...

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.


Cycling to work can cut cancer and heart disease, says study
2017-04-20, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39641122

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."

Note: This study was published in the British Medical Journal. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Ontario to try giving poor a basic income
2017-04-24, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39675442

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


U.S. meeting on ocean conservation nets $5.3 billion in pledges
2016-09-16, Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-environment-oceans-pledges-idUSKCN11M24T

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New York approves free tuition. Here are 10 more states with cheap college costs
2017-04-10, CNBC News
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/10/new-york-approves-free-tuition-heres-10-more-s...

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


After Finding $40,000 In Thrift-Store Couch, Roommates Return Money
2014-05-16, NPR
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/05/16/313118337/thrift-store-couc...

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].

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Earthing: How Walking Barefoot Could Cure Your Insomnia & More
2017-04-05, Goop.com
http://goop.com/earthing-how-walking-barefoot-could-cure-your-insomnia-more/

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Big Business Pushes Coal-Friendly Kentucky To Embrace Renewables
2017-04-17, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2017/04/17/523763826/big-business-pushes-coal-friendly-ken...

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


She found a way to make plastic waste useful
2017-03-30, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2017/0330/She-found-a-way-...

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.


Dare To Be 100: Ecstasy Then Agony
2016-06-28, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/walter-m-bortz-ii-md/dare-to-be-100-ws-100-ecs_...

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!!!


Study reveals plants 'listen' to find sources of water
2017-04-11, Phys Org
https://phys.org/news/2017-04-reveals-sources.html

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Deep Breathing May Keep Us Calm
2017-04-05, New York Times
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/well/move/what-chill-mice-can-teach-us-...

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.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Truckers Take The Wheel In Effort To Halt Sex Trafficking
2016-07-13, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2016/07/13/484801054/truckers-take-the-wheel-in-effort-to-...

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.


Historic deal to protect Canada rainforest from logging
2016-02-01, Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-environment-rainforest-idUSKCN0VA2NC

British Columbia on Monday unveiled a historic agreement to protect a massive swath of rainforest along its coastline, having reached a deal that marries the interests of First Nations, the logging industry and environmentalists after a decade of often-tense negotiations. Under the agreement, about 85 percent of forest within the Great Bear Rainforest would be protected. The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the world's largest temperate rainforests and the habitat of the Spirit Bear, a rare subspecies of the black bear with white fur and claws. It is also home to 26 Aboriginal groups, known as First Nations. The Great Bear rainforest ... covers 6.4 million hectares of the province's coast. More than half its surface is forest, including 2.3 million hectares of old growth. In the 1990s, frustrated over what they saw as destructive forestry practices ... First Nations partnered with environmentalists to fight back against logging companies, blockading roads and protesting. By the early 2000s, environmental groups and industry players ... had started talks. At the same time, the government began negotiating with the Coastal First Nations. The final agreements [come] nearly two years after a landmark Supreme Court decision that granted title to a vast swath of British Columbia's interior to the Tsilhqot'in First Nations, who had gone to court to stop logging in their traditional lands. That decision has bolstered First Nations across the province, who now have a legal precedent for fighting development.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Tony Robbins says this daily habit makes him successful
2017-03-30, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/30/tony-robbins-says-this-daily-habit-makes-him-s...

Tony Robbins won't be jumping on the meditation craze any time soon. Instead, the energetic entrepreneur ... engages in a series of mindfulness and breathing exercises that he says "prime" him to be more grateful throughout the day. Simply put, "priming" is the concept that experiences, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, impact our perceptions of the world around us. If it's so easy to change the ways we see the world around us, Robbins wondered, why not prime ourselves to more readily experience gratitude? Robbins achieves this with a simple daily routine that he breaks into three three-minute segments: 1. He focuses on something very simple that makes him feel grateful, like the wind in his face or a child's smile. 2. He devotes three minutes to prayer. During this time he "sends energy" to his family, coworkers and others. 3. He completes "three to thrive," taking the final three minutes of his routine to identify three results he's committed to achieving. While he sometimes repeats a step or continues the routine for a longer period of time, the whole circuit takes less than 10 minutes - something, he says, that should be manageable for anyone in any phase of life or career. In addition to preparing him for the day, Robbins says setting aside a few minutes to focus on gratitude has long-term results as well. The two emotions that cause individuals to make poor investing or life choices are anger and fear. Gratitude can help alleviate the effects of both.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet the Boy Who Believes He Was Lou Gehrig in a Past Life (His Mom Is Convinced, Too)
2017-03-21, People Magazine
http://people.com/books/meet-the-boy-who-believes-he-was-lou-gehrig-in-a-past...

Cathy Byrd’s 2-year-old son, Christian Haupt, was a baseball prodigy who spent countless hours pitching and hitting balls. In her new memoir, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, Byrd shares an ... improbable story that even she had trouble believing at first: She claims that Christian was the reincarnation of baseball legend Lou Gehrig, who played for the Yankees nearly a century ago. Byrd had not believed in reincarnation. But she says she began to explore it based on the statements Christian makes about Gehrig’s life. Still too young to read, and not exposed to any baseball lore from his non-baseball-fan family, Byrd writes that Christian shared baseball history he could not possibly have known. When Christian sees a photo of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Byrd says that her son declared: “they didn’t talk to each other.” Byrd discovers it was true. “There was no reasonable explanation ... I found myself straddling the great divide between logic and intuition,” writes Byrd, a practicing Catholic. “The concept of reincarnation was diametrically opposed to my rational thoughts and my religious beliefs, yet my heart was telling me not to ignore what Christian was ... trying to tell me.” Byrd also seeks help along the way from [professor] Jim B. Tucker, M.D., author of Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives. It was during a meeting with Tucker that Christian delivers the ... news that he chose Byrd to be his mother when she was born. When Tucker asks Christian when he picked Byrd, [he replied], “In the sky.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


All-black orchestra aims to widen music choices of African-Americans
2017-03-19, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (A leading newspaper of Atlanta, Georgia)
http://www.ajc.com/lifestyles/all-black-orchestra-aims-widen-music-choices-af...

Orchestra Noir is an all-black orchestra founded by Atlanta resident Jason Ikeem Rodgers less than a year ago. Rodgers has worked with various orchestras in North America and Europe for years, receiving several awards. But the idea for Orchestra Noir didn’t come while he was on a stage. It came ... while attending an Emerging 100 of Atlanta event with his now-fiancée. Rodgers began to reflect on the black middle class in Atlanta. “I was really shocked because being from the projects [in North Philly] and growing up rough, there was a different demographic here,” he said. “At that moment ... I said we need an orchestra here in Atlanta that reflects that demographic.” The group’s website emphasizes they aren’t striving to be a traditional orchestra. Instead Orchestra Noir strives to raise “the invisible curtain and [bring] classical music to diverse, younger audiences that is relevant and respectful of their community.” “In orchestral music, sometimes we forget the heritage that goes into it. We forget that you can play R&B [and] hip-hop with an orchestra,” Rodgers said. The orchestra has come a long way since launching with 25 musicians last March during a performance at Studio No. 7, now nearly double in size. A 44-piece orchestra will perform in concert alongside ... Bryan-Michael Cox on March 31. Cox, who has nine Grammys ... said he was looking for a way to blend his work as a songwriter, producer and DJ when the orchestra approached him with the idea to collaborate.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


UK breaks solar energy record on sunny March weekend
2017-03-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/28/uk-solar-energy-march-ele...

Last weekend’s sunny weather was not only good for beers, barbecues and bees, but also drove solar power to break a new UK record. For the first time ever, the amount of electricity demanded by homes and businesses in the afternoon on Saturday was lower than it was in the night, because solar panels on rooftops and in fields cut demand so much. National Grid, which runs the transmission network, described the moment as a “huge milestone”. The company sees the solar power generated on the distribution networks – or local roads of the system – as reduced electricity demand. The sunshine meant that solar power produced six times more electricity than the country’s coal-fired power stations on Saturday. Duncan Burt, who manages daily operations at National Grid, said: “Demand being lower in the afternoon than overnight really is turning the hard and fast rules of the past upside down.” Electricity demand usually peaks around 4pm to 6pm at this time of year. The solar industry hailed the landmark. A spokeswoman for the Solar Trade Association said: “This milestone shows the balance of power is shifting, quite literally, away from the old centralised ‘coal-by-wire’ model into the hands of householders, businesses and communities all over the UK who want their own clean solar power.” Solar power installations grew dramatically in 2014 and 2015. An independent report, commissioned by the STA, found the UK’s power network could handle four times more solar capacity than there was today.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Fair Trade Matters Even More in An Unequal World
2017-03-30, Triple Pundit
http://www.triplepundit.com/2017/03/fair-trade-matters-even-unequal-world/

We live in a time of massive, unprecedented trade: Goods, information and money all flow across borders almost seamlessly (people, of course, are another matter). While this new era of trade has brought immense prosperity to many ... this transfer of commodities tends to benefit only a tiny sliver of the global population, and the trade system has yet to address this. Those who farm cocoa, palm oil, or soy profit little from global commodity prices or access to new markets – instead, they are often forced to sell for less or be forced out of the market. This applies to workers as well, such as the hundreds of thousands working on palm oil plantations in Indonesia, the majority of whom are contract laborers who see few benefits from the multibillion-dollar palm oil trade. The Fair Trade movement started as a response to this global trade paradigm that focused too much on profits and not people. Their goal was to tilt the balance toward farmers and workers, if even just a bit, ensuring they got a decent living. The Fair Trade model proved successful, but it still only operates at the margins. Those of us living in well-off communities can afford the higher premiums of Fair Trade coffee, chocolate and tea, but the vast majority of people ... cannot. This means that, despite the growth of Fair Trade, inequality is getting worse overall. Fair Trade needs to become more than a niche – it needs to grow into the norm, a true alternative. And all of us – the media, companies, and, yes, the 1 percent, all need to play our role.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In an extraordinary new book, a top scientist reveals... the amazing anti-ageing power of kindness
2017-03-19, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4329810/The-amazing-anti-ageing-pow...

We’re all wired for kindness. We act kindly because we know instinctively it’s the right thing to do, and believe the world could do with more kindness. A network of relationships sustained by kindness can benefit us all, both physically and psychologically. It can slow the effects of ageing too. People under stress tend to be more prone to infections and disease. As we get older, the immune system weakens. But studies have shown that both giving and receiving kindness boosts the immune system. A positive attitude to life’s stressors helps us recover faster from illness and strengthens our ability to fight off disease. Kindness can even slow the formation of wrinkles. Groups of unstable molecules called free radicals produce something called oxidative stress in the body, which causes nasty physiological reactions, including hardening of the arteries and memory loss. It also leads to visible signs of ageing. But being kind produces a substance called oxytocin, often known as the ‘love hormone’, as we make more of it when we feel love, share positive contact and have sex. The less oxytocin we have, the more free radicals we get. A study at the University of California, Riverside, [asked] volunteers ... to perform five acts of kindness a week for six weeks. These included donating blood, paying for someone’s parking or visiting an elderly relative. Using established measurements of happiness, psychologists found those who performed the kind acts became happier, while a control group who didn’t, well, didn’t.

Note: The above article was adapted by Alison Roberts from the book "The Five Side Effects Of Kindness" by Dr David Hamilton. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Man Who Planted Trees: A Conversation with David Milarch
2017-03-23, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1549/the-man-who-planted-trees-a-conversation-...

Twenty some years ago David Milarch hovered above the bed, looking down at his motionless body. Years of alcoholism had booted him out of his life. An inexplicable cosmic commandment would return him to it. His improbable charge? To clone the world's champion trees - the giants that had survived millennia and would be unvanquished by climate change. Experts said it couldn't be done. Fast-forward to today, and Milarch is now the keeper of a Noah's Ark filled with the genetics for repopulating the world's most ancient trees. Founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive he is on a mission to restore the lungs of the planet. "Spend a couple of days in an old-growth forest, you'll come out different from when you went in. Those trees affect our physical, mental and especially our spiritual bodies. And I do believe that anyone, everyone can learn to communicate with them," [said Milarch]. "98% of the old-growth forests in the US are gone. We didn't even study those trees. We didn't know what they did for the quality of life on earth - the water, air, shade. In Jim Robbins’ book, "The Man Who Planted Trees," he writes about the new science of trees and what roles they play for all living things on earth. #1. Trees talk to all the other trees, not only in the forest, but also over great distances. #2. Trees feel and register pain, and they express that pain, and other trees pick it up #3. There are critically important aerosols that come out of the needles and leaves of trees that prevent endemic diseases from spreading over the planet.

Note: Read or listen to the full version of this amazing interview with Milarch here. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of inspiring news articles on near-death experiences.


Texas woman helps homeless man build a new life
2017-03-13, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-woman-uses-facebook-to-change-homeless-mans...

For three years, Victor Hubbard stood on a street corner - rain or shine - waiting for his mom to come back and get him. Every day, residents of Kemah, Texas, passed the man. Ginger Sprouse ... was admittedly one of those people. She probably saw Hubbard at least four times a day. Each time, she wondered why he was there. One day, in late December, she finally decided to roll down her window and ask. Hubbard began to talk about his history, explaining that his mom left him, he’s been battling mental illness and he doesn’t have a place to live. Sprouse felt for the man, and decided to share his story with the world - on a Facebook page called “This is Victor.” Slowly but surely, the page started to take off. Dozens of people volunteered to help the man, and Sprouse led the charge. She cooked meals, washed clothes, helped him set up appointments with a mental health professional and welcomed him into her home. “I’m so overwhelmed by the compassion by people,” said Sprouse, as others volunteered to help. A few days later, she created a GoFundMe page, encouraging people to donate to help the “sweet, gentle man” get back on his feet. Within two months, Hubbard received more than $14,700 in donations. Fast forward three months later, nearly 9,000 people now follow “This is Victor” on Facebook to receive updates on his progress. He recently landed a job as a cook in Sprouse’s [food service company]. He can’t help but wear a big smile on his face. “She came around and she kind of saved me,” Hubbard [said].

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet 'Sesame Street's' muppet with autism
2017-03-20, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/20/entertainment/sesame-street-julia-autism/

The newest resident of "Sesame Street" has orange hair and a fondness for her toy rabbit. She also has autism. Julia has been a part of the "Sesame Street" family via its storybooks and was so popular that the decision was made to add the character to the TV series. "I think the big discussion right at the start was, 'How do we do this? How do we talk about autism?,'" one of the show's writers, Christine Ferraro, told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl. Over the almost five decades "Sesame Street" has been on the air, it has established a reputation for inclusion with its characters. Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the founders of the Children's Television Workshop which developed "Sesame Street," said it has also not been afraid to deal with real life issues. Julia's debut episode will deal with what autism can look like. The brain disorder can make it difficult for people with autism to communicate with and relate to others. The character of Big Bird talked to Stahl about his first interaction with Julia in which she ignored him. "I thought that maybe she didn't like me," he said. "Yeah, but you know, we had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird," the Elmo character added. "It's just that Julia has autism. So sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things." Ferraro hopes that along with educating viewers about autism the new character will settle in as a part of the neighborhood. "I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on Sesame Street who has autism," the writer said. "I would like her to be just Julia."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


University of the People offers MBA with no tuition charge
2016-03-15, Financial Times
https://www.ft.com/content/157edd72-ea0e-11e5-888e-2eadd5fbc4a4

In a world of rising tuition fees and mounting student debt, California’s University of the People has started offering an ultra low-cost MBA, it said on Tuesday. The online programme - open to 100 applicants in its first term this September, with capacity expected to expand subsequently - will carry a $200 end of course assessment fee for each of the 12 courses. This would take the total cost to about $2,400 for the qualification, about one-thirtieth of what an average MBA might cost in the US. There are no tuition fees or textbook costs. Developing what UoPeople’s founder Shai Reshef called the “the world’s most cost-effective MBA” was a natural progression for the Pasadena-based institution. Students can expect to complete the course in 15 months on a full-time basis but part-time students have to finish within five years. The MBA is accredited by the Distance Education and Accreditation Commission, a private non-profit organisation. UoPeople has offered undergraduate degrees in business administration or computer science, without tuition fees, to 3,000 students from 180 countries around the world. Its online programmes have a $100 charge for each course exam, taking the total a student can expect to pay for a bachelors degree to about $4,000. The university runs with the support of 4,000 volunteers from other universities and makes use of open-source technology. It has a programme in place that is supported by global foundations and corporations ... to help students who are unable to meet its charges.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


She Lost a Daughter, Today She Shelters 800 Girls
2017-03-17, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1542/she-lost-a-daughter-today-she-shelters-80...

A cradle outside a home in Lucknow may look strange for passersby but for orphaned and abandoned girls, it ensures love, warmth and motherly care. Dr Sarojini Agarwal, now 80 years old, is ‘Maa’ to the scores of girls and young women who live at Manisha Mandir (as the destitute home is called) ... where she raises her adopted daughters. Her [own] eight-year-old daughter Manisha died in a road accident in 1978. “I was lamenting the loss of one when there were so many other Manishas, homeless and unloved, looking for a mother. Perhaps I could give them a loving home,” she recalls. Manisha Mandir was set up in 1985. The first girl she adopted was a deaf and mute child whose mother, a divorcee, had died while giving birth. Other girls followed – some who were found abandoned, others given up as unwanted while some others were picked up from the streets by Agarwal. A few also found their way out of brothels. Dr Agarwal also began hanging a crib ... near the gate of her home. Here, people could leave abandoned newborns, instead of leaving them on the streets. Over the years, Manisha Mandir has changed addresses a few times and is now housed in a sprawling, three-storey home. The abandoned and orphaned girls taken in by Manisha Mandir stay at the home till the age of 17-18 and are then encouraged to take up a job. Till date, close to 800 girls have stayed at the home and many of them have made their mark as bank managers, teachers and principals, while others have married into good families.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'Acquired savant' Derek Amato becomes musical prodigy after hitting his head hard diving into shallow end of pool
2012-06-07, New York Daily News
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/acquired-savant-derek-amato-musical-...

Derek Amato is one of just 30 “acquired savants” worldwide. Each discovered an inexplicable ability that was unleashed after an incident. Amato was 40 years old [when he hit his head hard after diving into the shallow end of a pool]. “I remember the impact being really loud. I knew I was hurt badly,” he described in a Science Channel documentary. He was taken to the hospital with a serious concussion, and suffered some memory loss and hearing loss. After the accident, Amato visited a friend who had a keyboard and felt inexplicably drawn to the instrument. He sat down to play and beautiful, fully structured, original music flowed from his hands. He played until 2 a.m. “I could not only play and compose, but I would later discover that I could recall a prior played piece of music as if it had been etched in my minds eye,” [Amato said]. Though he had dabbled in the guitar before, he’d never touched a piano. Rare cases like this open up a whole new realm of scientific exploration, as scientists investigate how this can happen. The big question is: do we all have this superhuman ability built in, if we could just tap into it and release it? Amato [reported] that though he still gets painful migraines and has lost 35% of his hearing, it’s well worth it. Amato left his corporate job and became a professional musician.

Note: Watch a fascinating video of Derek's story.


In world first, Iceland to require firms to prove equal pay
2017-03-08, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-iceland-equal-pay-20170308-...

Iceland will be the first country in the world to make employers prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality. The government said it will introduce legislation to parliament this month, requiring all employers with more than 25 staff to obtain certification to prove they give equal pay for work of equal value. While other countries, and the U.S. state of Minnesota, have equal-salary certificate policies, Iceland is thought to be the first to make it mandatory for both private and public firms. The North Atlantic island nation, which has a population of about 330,000, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022. Equality and Social Affairs Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson said "the time is right to do something radical about this issue. Equal rights are human rights. We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace. It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that." Iceland has been ranked the best country in the world for gender equality by the World Economic Forum, but Icelandic women still earn, on average, 14 to 18 percent less than men. In October thousands of Icelandic women left work at 2:38 p.m. and demonstrated outside parliament to protest the gender pay gap. Women's rights groups calculate that after that time each day, women are working for free. The new legislation is expected to be approved by Iceland's parliament. The government hopes to implement it by 2020.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The people who refuse to grow old
2015-01-26, BBC
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150126-the-people-who-refuse-to-grow-old

Russian photojournalist [Vladimir Yakovlev] started his Age of Happiness project in 2011, documenting people around the world who defy our expectations of ageing. Yakovlev has just published a book based on his project. Called How I Would Like To Be When I Am 70?, it features 30 people who refuse to age appropriately, including a 75-year-old surfer, a 103-year-old marathon runner and a 79-year-old porn star. “It started as a very personal project,” says Yakovlev. “I was over fifty, I wanted to find out what can I expect in the future and most importantly to what extent I can affect whatever will be happening to me.” Duan Tzinfu changed the way he lived when he spotted a group of people exercising in a Beijing park. “These were people much older than him who did the splits with ease. Duan couldn't even bend over without a big sigh,” says Yakovlev, who photographed him in July 2011, at the age of 73. “After 50 years of working at a glass factory ... Duan could barely walk.” But Duan joined the group, practising stretching and breathing exercises ... and now, aged 76, can perform moves that would challenge much younger people. Yakovlev has travelled to nine countries for his project, including France, Italy and India. Yakovlev describes the attitude that seems to link many of his subjects. “Pat Moorehead, a skydiver, celebrated his 80th birthday by making 80 skydives in a row, non-stop. He says: ‘Happiness is just a choice, a life-style. I think that is true – about happiness ... and about staying young as well.”

Note: Don't miss the beautiful photos from this incredible project at the link above. These elders will astonish and inspire you.


Denmark reduces food waste by 25% in five years with the help of one woman
2017-02-28, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/denmark-reduce-food-waste-25-...

Never underestimate the power of one dedicated individual. A woman has been credited by the Danish Government for single-handedly helping the country reduce its food waste by 25 per cent in just five years. Selina Juul, who moved from Russian to Denmark when she was 13 years old, was shocked by the amount of food available and wasted at supermarkets. She told the BBC: “I come from a country where there were food shortages, we had the collapse of infrastructure, communism collapsed, we were not sure we could get food on the table”. Her organisation, Stop Spild Af Mad – which translates as Stop Wasting Food – made all the difference and is recognised as one of the key drivers behind the government’s focus to tackle food waste. Ms Juul convinced Rema 1000, the country’s biggest low-cost supermarket chain, to replace all its quantity discounts with single item discounts to minimise food waste. The retailer wasted about 80 to 100 bananas every day. However, after the supermarket put up a sign saying "take me I’m single", it reduced the waste on bananas by 90 per cent. In the past five years Denmark has become one of the leading European countries in the fight against food waste. Last year, a charity in Copenhagen opened Denmark’s first ever food surplus supermarket, which sells products at prices 30 to 50 per cent cheaper than usual retailers. Wefood is hoping to help reduce the 700,000 tonnes of food waste Denmark produces every year.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


UK carbon emissions drop to lowest level since 19th century, study finds
2017-03-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/06/uk-carbon-emissions-drop-...

The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions have fallen to their lowest level since the 19th century as coal use continues to plummet, analysis suggests. Emissions of the major greenhouse gas fell almost 6% year on year in 2016, after the use of coal for electricity more than halved to record lows, according to the Carbon Brief website, which reports on climate science and energy policy. The assessment suggests carbon emissions in 2016 were about 381m tonnes, putting the UK’s carbon pollution at its lowest level ... since 1894. Carbon emissions in 2016 are about 36% below the reference year of 1990, against which legal targets to cut climate pollution are measured. Emissions of carbon dioxide from coal fell 50% in 2016 as use of the fossil fuel dropped by 52%, contributing to an overall drop in carbon output of 5.8% last year compared with 2015, Carbon Brief said. The assessment reveals that coal use has fallen by 74% in just a decade. UK coal demand is falling rapidly because of cheaper gas, a hike in carbon taxes on the highly polluting fuel, expansion of renewables, dropping demand for energy overall and the closure of Redcar steelworks in late 2015. While emissions from coal fell in 2016, carbon output from gas rose 12.5% because of increased use of the fuel to generate electricity – although use of gas remains well below highs seen in the 2000s. Gas use for home and business heating has been falling for a decade, thanks to more insulation and efficient boilers.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Coal Production Plummets to Lowest Level in 35 Years
2016-06-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/11/business/energy-environment/coal-productio...

Coal production in the United States is plummeting to levels not seen since a crippling coal strike 35 years ago, according to a report released by the Energy Department on Friday. The coal industry in recent years has been plagued by bankruptcies as power utilities increasingly moved to replace coal with cheap natural gas and renewable sources, like solar and wind energy. Coal was once the dominant source of the nation’s electricity generation, but consumption of the fossil fuel has declined by nearly a third since its peak in 2007. Once gradual, the decline in coal mining appears to be picking up momentum. Coal production in the United States of 173 million tons for January through March was the lowest in any quarter since 1981. The Energy Department noted [broad] forces at play in its brief report. “Coal production has declined because of increasingly challenging market conditions for coal producers,” the report said. “In addition to complying with environmental regulations and adapting to slower growth in electricity demand, coal-fired generators also are competing with renewables and with natural gas-fired electricity generation during a time of historically low natural gas prices.” As recently as early 2008, coal was the source of roughly half the electricity generated in the United States; this year, that figure has fallen to roughly 30 percent.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The staggering bravery of a Muslim immigrant foster father who has devoted the past two decades to caring for dozens of terminally ill children
2017-02-09, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4206590/Libyan-Muslim-immigrant-cares...

To foster any child takes an extraordinary amount of selfless love and devotion. But one man in Los Angeles has taken on an even more monumental role: caring for the city's dying children. Mohamed Bzeek is ... a devout Libyan-born Muslim who has spent the last 20 years giving hope and comfort to children no other person would touch - ten of whom have died. 'The key is, you have to love them like your own,' Bzeek told the Los Angeles Times. 'I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.' Bzeek, 62, moved to the US ... in 1978. He began fostering children in 1989, and in 1991 he experienced his first death. The girl had been affected in the womb by pesticides sprayed on her farm-worker mother, and her spine was so deformed that she had to wear a full body cast. She was in his home for just a year when she passed away. Bzeek still has a photograph of the girl. Now, Bzeek is caring for a girl who was born with encephalocele, which left her mentally and physically underdeveloped. She is blind and deaf, paralyzed in her arms and legs, and suffers seizures every day. But Bzeek keeps a vigil, day and night, over her tiny body, to make sure she has as much comfort as he can give her. 'I know she can’t hear, can't see, but I always talk to her,' he said. 'I'm always holding her, playing with her, touching her. … She has feelings. She has a soul. She's a human being.' Doctors gave up hope on the girl ... when she was two years old. She is now six.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Town Adopted Trauma-Informed Care—And Saw a Decrease in Crime and Suspension Rates
2017-02-22, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/this-town-adopted-trauma-informed-car...

There was a time at Lincoln, a school once known as a last resort for those who were expelled from the area’s other high schools, when fights often ended in out-of-school suspensions or arrests. But Principal Jim Sporleder ... created an environment built on empathy and redemption through a framework called trauma-informed care, which acknowledges the presence of childhood trauma in addressing behavioral issues. The practices ... begin with the understanding that childhood trauma can cause adulthood struggles like lack of focus, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide. At Lincoln ... the graduation rate increased by about 30 percent and suspensions decreased by almost 85 percent a year after implementing the framework. Sporleder first arrived at the school in April 2007. The building was in a constant state of chaos. Sporleder took a hard line by handing out ... three-day out-of-school suspensions. Then, in the spring of 2010, he attended a workshop ... on the impacts of stressful childhood experiences. Keynote speaker John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, explained how toxic stress overfills the brain with cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Sporleder suddenly understood that his students’ behavior wasn’t completely in their control; their brains were affected by toxic stress. “It just hit me like a bolt of lightning that my discipline was punitive and it was not teaching kids,” he said. So he set out on a mission to bring trauma-informed care to his students.

Note: In the article above, students and educators share many personal success stories made possible by Lincoln's adoption of trauma-informed care. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Sweden’s recycling is so revolutionary, the country has run out of rubbish
2016-02-08, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/sweden-s-recycling-is-so-revolutiona...

Sweden is so good at recycling that, for several years, it has imported rubbish from other countries to keep its recycling plants going. Less than 1 per cent of Swedish household waste was sent to landfill last year or any year since 2011. Sweden was one of the first countries to implement a heavy tax on fossil fuels in 1991 and now sources almost half its electricity from renewables. Over time, Sweden has implemented a cohesive national recycling policy so that even though private companies undertake most of the business of importing and burning waste, the energy goes into a national heating network to heat homes through the freezing Swedish winter. “That’s a key reason that we have this district network, so we can make use of the heating from the waste plants. We use [the waste] as a substitute for fossil fuel,” ... says Anna-Carin Gripwall, director of communications for the Swedish Waste Management’s recycling association. The aim in Sweden is still to stop people sending waste to recycling in the first place. A national campaign ... has for several years promoted the notion that there is much to be gained through repairing, sharing and reusing. She describes Sweden’s policy of importing waste to recycle from other countries as a temporary situation. “There’s a ban on landfill in EU countries, so instead of paying the fine they send it to us as a service. They should and will build their own plants, to reduce their own waste, as we are working hard to do in Sweden,” Ms Gripwall says.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Muslim activists raise over $70,000 to aid vandalized Jewish cemetery
2017-02-22, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/US/muslim-activists-raise-60000-aid-vandalized-jewish-c...

As of early Wednesday morning, a crowdfunding campaign started by Muslim activists had raised over $70,000 in an effort to help repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery. "Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration against the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery," read the crowdfunding campaign's website, which was spearheaded by Muslim-American activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi. The effort comes after more than 170 headstones were damaged late Sunday or early Monday at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, located in the St. Louis suburb of University City. The incident at the cemetery comes amid a spate of threats directed at Jewish centers across the nation this year. The FBI and the Justice Department announced earlier this week that they would investigate the multiple bomb threats directed toward at least 60 Jewish centers, including 11 threats made on Monday alone. The fundraisers for the "Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery" campaign said they launched the campaign in an effort to "send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities" and to condemn "hate, desecration, and violence." The campaign said the proceeds would go directly to the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, and that any additional funds leftover after the cost of restoration would "assist other vandalized Jewish centers nationwide.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The “Indivisible” Movement’s Key Strategy: Focus on Your Own Members of Congress
2017-02-11, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/how-the-indivisible-movement-is-fueli...

The Indivisible Guide was put online by former congressional staffers to give both Republicans and Democrats an effective way to resist Trump policies. So far, 6,000 local groups have registered. Created by a group of former congressional staffers, the guide, now a website [takes] a page from the tea party’s playbook. “After the election ... we saw an uptick in the number of Facebook groups and online activists who were very well-meaning but were giving very bad advice,” said Sarah Dohl, a co-author of the Indivisible Guide. People were being urged to do things like call House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) or to sign an online petition. As former congressional staffers, Dohl and her Indivisible colleagues knew that unless you “live in the 1st District of Wisconsin, Paul Ryan doesn’t work for you,” she said. These ex-staffers witnessed firsthand how the tea party rose to power and convinced their own members of Congress to reject President Obama’s agenda. There are Indivisible groups in Arizona and Missouri — and many more are sprouting up all around the country. They are planning actions, showing up at their local representatives’ offices to voice complaints, demanding meetings and calling Congress. Beyond “demystifying Congress,” their goal is to support local groups that are “putting the Indivisible Guide into action.” Through the Indivisible site people can find local groups, plan local actions, and access organizing resources.

Note: The Indivisible movement is growing rapidly in the US. Find a group near you on this webpage. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Chicago-based organization helps people leave hate groups
2017-02-21, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-based-organizati...

The tattoo on Shannon Martinez's leg gives away her past. By 16, she was a skinhead spouting white supremacist rhetoric, giving stiff-armed Nazi salutes and tagging public property with swastikas. Fortified by the love of an adopted family, Martinez left the skinheads behind. Today she's helping others do the same as part of an emerging U.S. movement that helps people quit hate organizations. Modeled loosely upon organizations that formed in Europe years ago to combat extremism, groups and individuals are offering counseling, education and understanding to extremists seeking a way out. Now a 42-year-old mom who homeschools her kids at their house in Georgia, Martinez volunteers with Life After Hate, a leading organization dedicated to helping people leave white supremacy. On Facebook, she shares her story with others who've left or are looking to leave extremism. Founded in 2009, Life After Hate was awarded a $400,000 Justice Department grant in the closing days of the Obama administration. While several other grant recipients are dedicated to countering radical Muslim ideology, Life After Hate concentrates specifically on showing white extremists there's another way. The group operates a website where people who want to explore leaving white extremism can submit contact information. It also conducts educational and counseling programs including the Facebook group where members sometimes chat with extremists trying to change their lives.

Note: The Life after Hate website provides inspiring stories and great resources for healing extremism with loving community.


Silicon Valley's largest tech accelerator is funding an experiment in crowdfunded healthcare
2017-02-08, Business Insider
http://www.businessinsider.com/y-combinator-experiment-universal-healthcare-2...

Crowdfunding gets a lot of attention when it gives rise to oddball games. But Silicon Valley's largest startup accelerator believes the real bet is on crowdfunded healthcare. Y Combinator, the company responsible for launching Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit, has announced that it will invest in Watsi - a nonprofit that has brought healthcare to more than 11,000 people in 24 countries through nearly 22,000 online donations. Sam Altman, president of YC, explains that Watsi's approach to healthcare avoids a huge number of operational inefficiencies. A recent report from the World Health Organization calculated that 20-40% of all health spending worldwide gets wasted. But Watsi's crowdfunding model makes transparency a top priority - each patient's received donations and healthcare provider are logged in a master spreadsheet available on Watsi's website. "Funding individual patients encourages more people to donate, but it also results in patient-level data that makes it easier to identify fraud, evaluate the quality of care, measure health outcomes, etc.," Watsi co-founder Chase Adam [said]. When a family visits a hospital that has partnered with Watsi, but the patient can't afford to pay for the necessary care, a staff member will ask if they want to put their case on the site. If he or she agrees, the site's donors will then have the opportunity to make online donations straight to the patient. The company has also created a general fund that people ... can donate to if all patients on Watsi have already been funded.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


What Iceland knows about preventing teen drug abuse that the rest of the world doesn’t
2017-02-09, Quartz
https://qz.com/905322/what-iceland-knows-about-preventing-teen-drug-abuse-tha...

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes ... or in clubs for music, dance, or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents. Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42% in 1998 to 5% in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17% to 7%. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23% to just 3%. The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based. If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of kids. State funding was increased for organized sport, music, art, dance, and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance ... a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona ($310) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Jimmy Carter Makes a Stand for Solar
2017-02-11, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/11/us/jimmy-carter-solar-energy-plains-ga.htm...

The solar panels - 3,852 of them - shimmered above 10 acres of Jimmy Carter’s soil where peanuts and soybeans used to grow. 38 years after Mr. Carter installed solar panels at the White House, only to see them removed during Ronald Reagan’s administration, the former president is leasing part of his family’s farmland for [the] project. It is, Mr. Carter and energy experts said, a small-scale effort that could hold lessons for other pockets of pastoral America in an age of climate change and political rancor. “I hope that we’ll see a realization on the part of the new administration that one of the best ways to provide new jobs - good-paying and productive and innovative jobs - is through the search for renewable sources of energy,” Mr. Carter, 92, said in an interview. Although Mr. Carter, now decades removed from the night in February 1977 when he donned a cardigan sweater and spoke of the country’s “energy problem,” remains a keen student of energy policy, the solar project is also an extension of his legacy. The project on Mr. Carter’s land, which feeds into Georgia Power’s grid and earns the former first family less than $7,000 annually, did not need to be large to serve much of Plains, population 683 or so. It began when a solar firm, SolAmerica, approached Mr. Carter’s grandson Jason Carter about the possibility of installing panels here. The former president, who was 11 when his boyhood home got running water after his father installed a windmill, did not need convincing and became deeply involved with the project, writing notes in the margins of the lease agreement and visiting the site regularly.

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World's Largest Marine Reserve Created Off Antarctica
2016-10-22, National Geographic
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/ross-sea-marine-protected-area-ant...

A remote and largely pristine stretch of ocean off Antarctica received international protection on Friday, becoming the world's largest marine reserve as a broad coalition of countries came together to protect 598,000 square miles of water. The new marine protected area in the Ross Sea was created by a unanimous decision of the international body that oversees the waters around Antarctica - the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources - and was announced at the commission's annual meeting in Tasmania. The commission comprises 24 countries, including the United States, and the European Union. South of New Zealand and deep in the Southern (or Antarctic) Ocean, the 1.9 million square-mile Ross Sea is sometimes called the "Last Ocean" because it is largely untouched by humans. Its nutrient-rich waters are the most productive in the Antarctic, leading to huge plankton and krill blooms that support vast numbers of fish, seals, penguins, and whales.Some 16,000 species are thought to call the Ross Sea home, many of them uniquely adapted to the cold environment. A 2011 study in the journal Biological Conservation called the Ross Sea “the least altered marine ecosystem on Earth,” citing intact communities of emperor and Adelie penguins, crabeater seals, orcas, and minke whales. Environmental groups and several countries had pushed for protections for the Ross Sea for decades.

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Vitamin D pills 'could stop colds or flu'
2017-02-16, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38988982

Vitamin D supplements could spare more than three million people from colds or flu in the UK each year, researchers claim. The sunshine vitamin is vital for healthy bones, but also has a role in the immune system. The analysis, published in the British Medical Journal, argues food should be fortified with the vitamin. The immune system uses vitamin D to make antimicrobial weapons that puncture holes in bacteria and viruses. But as vitamin D is made in the skin while out in the sun, many people have low levels during winter. The researchers pooled data on 11,321 people from 25 separate trials to try to get a definitive answer. The team at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) looked at respiratory tract infections - which covers a wide range of illnesses from a sniffle to flu to pneumonia. Overall, the study said one person would be spared infection for every 33 taking vitamin D supplements. That is more effective than flu vaccination, which needs to treat 40 to prevent one case. There were greater benefits for those taking pills daily or weekly - rather than in monthly super-doses - and in people who were deficient in the first place. One of the researchers, Prof Adrian Martineau, said: "Assuming a UK population of 65 million, and that 70% have at least one acute respiratory infection each year, then daily or weekly vitamin D supplements will mean 3.25 million fewer people would get at least one acute respiratory infection a year."

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The rise of urban farming
2011-09-21, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/2011/0921/The-rise-of-urban-farming

Greg Peterson's 1950s tract home looks like any other house on his block in Phoenix, with one notable difference: Practically everything in his yard is edible. Mr. Peterson calls his oasis of bounty on one-third of an acre "The Urban Farm." Once an anomaly among the manicured lawns in his neighborhood, Peterson's place has been so convincing an example over the past decade that scores of other suburban dwellers have traded decorative bushes for raised vegetable beds and straw-filled chicken coops. Slowly, across the past decade, more Americans like Peterson have been proving that growing and preserving food is possible in all kinds of populated settings. Whether it is a tilapia farm in garden tubs in Kansas City, Mo., beekeeping in Chicago, or jars of homemade pickles in an apartment pantry in Austin, Texas, urban homesteaders are rebelling against the industrial food system by shouldering more of the responsibility for producing their own food. "There is a population and culture that is finally saying that all this processed stuff is not good and the only way we can guarantee that food we use is safe is to grow it ourselves," says Joyce Miles, a family and consumer science expert. These advances come in the midst of a struggling economy, a changing climate, a global food system in peril, rising food prices, concern over lax food safety, and dwindling resources. For homesteaders, cultivating a corner of the yard ... into a tangle of edible things has become one small way to regain purpose and control in an unpredictable time.

Note: Watch this inspiring video of an urban farm helping to break the cycle of violence and poverty in Kansas city.


Jews hand Muslims keys to synagogue after Texas mosque burns
2017-02-02, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/02/us/mosque-burns-synagogue-keys-trnd/

The congregation of the Victoria Islamic Center in Texas was devastated. Its mosque was destroyed over the weekend in a fire, the cause of which is unknown. Then an act of kindness revived their spirits - the leaders of the local Jewish congregation gave them the keys to their synagogue so they could continue to worship. The leader of the mosque said he wasn't surprised by the gesture. "I never doubted the support that we were going to get" after the fire, Dr. Shahid Hashmi, a surgeon and president of Victoria Islamic Center, told CNN. "We've always had a good relationship with the community here." Hashmi said Dr. Gary Branfman - a member of Temple B'nai Israel in Victoria, as well as a fellow surgeon and friend - just came by his house and gave him the keys. And that wasn't the only offer of a temporary worship space that was extended. Hashmi said three local churches said his congregation could use their buildings. Also offered up was an empty office building, which the congregation used for three days before moving into a mobile home on the mosque property. Though Hashmi always knew his own east Texas community would support the mosque, he was stunned by the outpouring of support from people outside Victoria. So far, a GoFundMe page set up to help raise money for the mosque's reconstruction has taken in more than $1 million. Thanks to all of the financial contributions, he expects they'll be able to rebuild it in less than a year.

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105-year-old cyclist breaks an hour-long distance record
2017-01-05, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/01/05/105-year-old-cy...

Ninety-two times the Frenchman raced around the velodrome, a curved indoor bicyclist track, at an average speed of 14 mph. That speed would be impressive for just about anyone on two wheels, but it was probably particularly satisfying for Robert Marchand. Mostly because, when he was young, one of his coaches told him to give up the sport. It’s even more impressive when one considers Marchand is 105 years old. As the clock signaled that he’d been riding for one hour, the crowd of hundreds in Le Vélodrome National de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, near Paris, chanted his name, but it’s likely no one wondered whether he had captured a new world record. Of course he had — the category was created by the International Cycling Union specifically for him. And now it has been set: the record for longest official distance ridden in an hour in the newly minted older-than-105 class is 22.5 kilometers (14 miles). “I’m now waiting for a rival,” Marchand told the AP. Still, he said he could have gone faster, if he had not run into a little trouble on the track. “I did not see the sign warning me I had 10 minutes left,” he told the Guardian. “Otherwise I would have gone faster, I would have posted a better time.”

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Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
2015-03-20, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/finland-schools-subjects-are-o...

For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy. Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”. Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills. More academic pupils would be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union - which would merge elements of economics, history (of the countries involved), languages and geography. There are other changes too, not least to the traditional format that sees rows of pupils sitting passively in front of their teacher, listening to lessons or waiting to be questioned. Instead there will be a more collaborative approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems. The reforms reflect growing calls ... for education to promote character, resilience and communication skills, rather than just pushing children through “exam factories”.

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Groups begin bailing out strangers to free poor from jail
2017-01-30, Seattle Times (One of Seattle, WA's leading newspapers)
http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/groups-begin-bailing-out-strangers-t...

Activists who say too many poor people are unfairly languishing in U.S. jails because they can’t afford to post cash bail are increasingly deploying a new tactic: Bailing out strangers. Community groups are collecting donations from individuals, churches, cities and other organizations in more than a dozen cities, including New York, Chicago, Seattle and Nashville, to bail out indigent prisoners. They’ve freed several thousand people in the last few years, and the number is growing. The overwhelming majority of defendants still show up for court. Once free, the defendants are better able to fight their case, often leading to charges being dropped or reduced. “Many, many people are having their lives ruined pre-trial because they can’t afford to get out of jail,” said Max Suchan, who co-founded the Chicago Community Bond Fund, which had bailed out 50 people as of December. The bail funds are a step toward a larger goal for some legal reform activists: abolishing the cash bail system. Advocates say it creates two unequal tiers of justice: one for people who can afford bail and one for people who can’t. In Chicago the anti-cash bail movement has a seemingly unlikely ally in Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. He argues the cash system should be abolished and replaced with more thorough background checks; if a person is considered dangerous, they stay in jail and if they’re not, they go free, with access to services such as drug-addiction counseling if needed.

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Man holding 'You belong' sign outside North Texas Islamic Center identifies himself
2016-11-21, Houston Chronicle
http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/texas/article/Man-holding-You-belong-...

On Saturday, a white-bearded man in a cowboy hat held a sign outside of a Texas mosque. His sign read "You belong. Stay strong. Be blessed. We are one America" and he - as well as his message - quickly went viral. America, meet Justin Normand. He reveals that he had the sign made in the sign shop he manages and stood outside of the [Irving, Texas] mosque as a practice of his own Presbyterian religion. "This was about binding up the wounded. About showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us," Normand writes. "Or, in some Christian traditions, this was about washing my brother's feet." He continues to write, while citing scriptures from the Bible, about the human call to be generous and kind to our neighbors - no matter their background. "Lastly, it worked. I felt better for the impact it had on my neighbors. They genuinely needed this encouragement," Normand concludes [in a] Facebook post. "They need us. They need all of us. They need you. We ARE one America." Normand's actions come at a crucial time as hate crimes against Muslims have spiked in America by 67 percent from 2014 to 2015 and 6 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to the New York Times. The Islamic Center of Irving is where a group of armed protesters gathered outside last year in order to "Stop the Islamization of America," according to the Dallas Morning News.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Oregon cowboy lassoes attempted bike thief
2016-09-30, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hero-oregon-cowboy-lassoes-attempted-bike-thief/

Twenty-eight-year-old Robert Borba is one of the last of a kind; A real, honest-to-goodness, cow roping cowboy. Robert works at a ranch outside Eagle Point, Oregon. But he recently gained notoriety ... because of what he did among the cart corrals of a Walmart parking lot. This past June, Robert says he moseyed over to the Walmart for some dog food, and on the way out he heard a woman screaming. “’Stop him! Stop him! He stole my bike! He stole my bike!’ And I kind of look around and all of a sudden this guy goes whizzing by me on a bicycle,” Robert said. As security cameras show, there was no way to catch him on foot. So the cowboy did what cowboys do. He saddled up to save the day, armed with little more than a lasso. “A couple swings and then I threw it at him, just like I would a steer,” Robert said. Robert called 911 himself, describing to the incredulous operator how he was able to detain the suspect. “We got a guy who just stole a bike here at Walmart. I got him roped and tied to a tree,” he said on the call. “What!?” the operator said. “I got him roped from a horse and he’s tied to a tree.” The cavalry arrived moments later, led by Eagle Point police officer Chris Adams. “I looked up and from the horse there was a rope connected to the ankle of a gentleman on the ground holding onto a tree,” Adams said. John Wayne couldn’t have it done better. “I’d take him by my side any day,” Adams said. “I told the cop, I said, ‘Man, you guys ought to pick up a rope and throw that gun away’,” Robert said.

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'Rumi's Secret' offers an expanded view of the 13th-century poet and mystic
2017-01-25, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2017/0125/Rumi-s-Secret-offers-an...

The name Rumi is synonymous with love poetry. But [many readers] don’t know much about the life of the beloved 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic. The new biography Rumi’s Secret, by Brad Gooch ... provides important insights. The idea of Rumi’s secret came from a conversation Gooch had with a merchant named Sebastian, [who] compared Rumi to the American Walt Whitman – another poet revered for the universality of his writing – who “never tells his secret!” Gooch follows that fascinating statement with one of his own: “Rumi did have secrets – personal, poetic, and theological – that he was always both revealing and concealing.” The book’s first section ... opens with Rumi, at five years old, seeing angels. His father, an esteemed Muslim preacher and teacher, explained that the beings had come to bring him favor and invisible gifts. The Rumi we know today might never have emerged if not for three profound friendships. The first and most impactful was with Shams of Tabriz, a mystic. Shams urged Rumi ... to be honest and heartfelt, rather than refined, and to ... use music, sung poetry, and whirling to “literally spin loose of language and logic, while opening and warming his heart.” Rumi had two other cherished friends: a goldsmith named Salah, who had studied with Rumi’s tutor from childhood, and Hosam, one of Rumi’s loyal followers. Each man helped the poet learn about love (both human and divine), the process of giving up the self to make room for something purer and higher, and transcendence.

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'I crossed over': Survivors of near-death experiences share 'afterlife' stories
2016-06-15, Today.com
http://www.today.com/health/i-crossed-over-survivors-near-death-experiences-s...

The question of what happens when we die is a mysterious one. But for some who have been through near-death experiences, the question has a clear answer. Anita Moorjani ... shared her story. "I crossed over into the afterlife and back," said Moorjani. Diagnosed with lymphoma in 2002, Moorjani ... was losing her cancer battle, withering down to just 85 pounds and battling tumors. She slipped into a coma in February 2006. She said that’s when she died and crossed over to an afterlife. “I felt as though I was above my body,” she said. “It was like I had 360-degree peripheral vision of the whole area.” According to [her] book "Dying To Be Me", she was reunited in that state with her late father, who told her to turn back. “But I felt I didn't want to turn back, because it was so beautiful. It was just incredible, because, for the first time, all the pain had gone. And I felt as though I was enveloped in this feeling of just love. Unconditional love.” Citing an “incredible clarity,” she said she decided to return to her body because she believed “it would heal very, very quickly.” It did. “Within four days, my tumors shrunk by 70 percent, and the doctors were shocked,” she said. “And I kept telling everyone that, ‘I know I'm going to be okay. I know it’s not my time to die.’” Moorjani isn’t alone in connecting a "crossing over" experience to healing.

Note: Read an awesomely inspiring essay on Anita's incredible journey through death. The above article also introduces the healing of 8-year-old Annabel Beam after a near-death experience. Annabel's story is detailed in the book “Miracles from Heaven”. For more, explore concise summaries of NDE news articles and other fascinating resources on this incredible topic.


The Robin Hood Army: fighting food waste in India and Pakistan
2015-06-02, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jun...

Last August, a group of six young Indians took to the streets of Delhi with one simple aim: to feed the homeless. Overnight, they drove to restaurants, collected unsold food, re-packaged it and gave it to around 100 people sleeping rough in the capital. Friends, colleagues and strangers soon joined them on drives and their numbers began to swell. In less than a few months, a nationwide volunteer movement known as the Robin Hood Army (RHA) had emerged, on a mission to curb food waste and stamp out hunger. Founders Ghose and Anand Sinha, also 27, were inspired by Refood International, an organisation based in Portugal. “Using a hyperlocal model, they collect excess food and give it to those who need it. But every community has their own Refood chapter,” explains Ghose. “I realised it was something that can be very easily done in India, where the need would be much more.” The movement gained huge momentum after the launch of its social media campaign, and now boasts a 500-strong volunteer base spread out across 13 cities. In April, the group also began operations in neighbouring Pakistan. The Robin Hood Army’s ideology revolves around decentralisation. Small teams, mostly young professionals, become responsible for specific areas; they scout for local restaurants, convince them to donate surplus food, identify clusters of people in need - such as the homeless and orphanages - and carry out weekly distributions.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn dedicates MBE to people 'marginalised' from society
2016-12-30, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/new-years-honours-social-bite-...

An entrepreneur who set up a successful sandwich chain which helps the homeless said he is "honoured" to receive an MBE as he dedicated the award to people "marginalised" from society. Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, receives the honour. The chain he helped found offers "suspended coffee and food", which means customers can pay in advance for a coffee or any item of food from the menu and a local homeless person can go into the shop to claim it. About a quarter of its staff have experienced homelessness. Mr Littlejohn said: "I'm honoured to receive this award in recognition for my work with Social Bite. "I would like to dedicate it to the hundreds of homeless people Social Bite works with in Scotland who are marginalised from society and have no stake in the economic system. "I'm relatively young but I hope to dedicate the rest of my working life to helping people who have been excluded from the system. "By working alongside the amazing Social Bite team - and other charities - I hope I can play my part in eradicating homelessness from Scotland and spread the social enterprise business model further afield." Social Bite also plans to provide a low-cost, supervised and safe living environment for up to 20 homeless people with 10 purpose-built homes in Granton, Edinburgh. Earlier this month, Olympic cycling veteran Sir Chris Hoy and around 300 of the most influential people in Scotland slept rough in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square to raise funds for the project.

Note: Watch a touching, two-minute video of this beautiful organization. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Solar Employs More Workers Than Coal, Oil and Natural Gas Combined
2017-01-17, EcoWatch
http://www.ecowatch.com/solar-job-growth-2197574131.html

U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report. 6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation's job growth. Overall, the U.S. solar workforce increased 25 percent in 2016. Solar ... employed almost 374,000 workers in 2016, or 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation workforce. This is followed by fossil fuels, which accounts for 22 percent of total Electric Power Generation employment, or 187,117 workers across coal, oil and natural gas generation technologies. Wind generation is seeing growth in employment with a 32 percent increase since 2015. The wind industry provides the third largest share of Electric Power Generation employment with 102,000 workers at wind firms across the nation. Construction and installation projects represented the largest share of solar jobs, with almost four in ten workers doing this kind of work, followed by workers in solar wholesale trade, manufacturing and professional services. Solar employers reported that they expect to increase employment by 7 percent this year.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Veteran Homelessness Has Dropped By Nearly 50% Since 2010: Report
2016-08-01, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/veteran-homelessness-has-dropped-by-nearl...

Veteran homelessness has dropped nearly in half since 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced. On a given night in January, there were fewer than 40,000 homeless veterans, according to the country’s annual Point-in-Time count. That marked a 47 percent decrease since the same count was conducted six years prior. The success was due to the White House’s first-ever strategic plan to end veteran homelessness and a unique partnership between HUD and the Department of Veteran Affairs. Through the collaboration, HUD provides rental assistance to homeless veterans and the VA complements it with case management and clinical services. Since 2010, more than 360,000 veterans and their families have been permanently housed, rapidly rehoused or were spared from becoming homeless through HUD and VA programs. “The dramatic decline in veteran homelessness reflects the power of partnerships in solving complex national problems on behalf of those who have served our nation,” Robert A. McDonald, VA secretary, said in a statement. “The men and women who have fought for this nation should not have to fight to keep a roof over their head.” Numerous studies over the years have found that the concept of housing first, which touts providing housing to homeless people in need before addressing their health or economic issues, is effective and cost efficient.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Obama names five new national monuments, including Southern civil rights sites
2017-01-12, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/obama-names-five-new-n...

President Obama declared five new national monuments Thursday. Three new monuments in the South, all of which have bipartisan support, exemplify Obama’s push to expand America’s shared national identity through the narrative it tells with its public lands. Two of them, in Birmingham and Anniston, Ala., were sites of violent acts perpetrated against African American children and an interracial group of civil rights activists. The third, in Beaufort, S.C., commemorates the period between the Civil War and the push for segregation in the 1890s when freed slaves worked to establish schools and communities of their own. Obama noted that the monuments “preserve critical chapters of our country’s history” and reflect his long-standing effort to “ensure that our national parks, monuments and public lands are fully reflective of our nation’s diverse history and culture.” By invoking the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate the sites, Obama has now used the act more than any other president. While ... civil rights proponents had long expected the Alabama sites to be designated as national monuments, Obama’s decision to establish one to Reconstruction was more surprising. Northwestern University history professor Kate Masur, who pushed for designation, [said] that the [Penn Center site in South Carolina] will illuminate “one of the most important and most misunderstood eras of our past. The Reconstruction era was the nation’s first effort to grapple with slavery’s lasting impact, when millions of former slaves began forging lives in freedom.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'Standing man' inspires silent protests in Turkey
2013-06-18, Reuters
http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-turkey-protests-standingman-idUKBRE95H04N201...

A Turkish man has staged an eight-hour silent vigil on Istanbul's Taksim Square, scene of violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters in recent weeks, inspiring hundreds of others to follow his lead. Erdem Gunduz said he wanted to take a stand against police stopping demonstrations near the square, Dogan news agency reported. He stood silently, facing the Ataturk Cultural Centre which was draped in Turkish flags and a portrait of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, from 6 p.m. ... on Monday. By 2 a.m. ... when the police moved in, about 300 people had joined him. Ten people, who refused to be moved on by police, were detained. Gunduz, swiftly dubbed "standing man" on social media in Turkey, inspired similar protests elsewhere in Istanbul as well as in the capital Ankara and the city of Izmir on the Aegean coast. The silent protests were in stark contrast to demonstrations at the weekend, which saw some of the fiercest clashes so far when police fired teargas and water cannon to clear thousands from Taksim Square. What began in May as a protest by environmentalists upset over plans to build on a park adjoining Taksim has grown into a movement against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, presenting the greatest public challenge to his 10-year leadership.

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Costa Rica's electricity was produced almost entirely from renewable sources in 2016
2017-01-02, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/costa-rica-renewable-energy-electric...

Almost all Costa Rica's electricity was produced by renewable energy in 2016. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said that around 98.1 per cent of the country’s electricity came from green sources. These included large hydropower facilities, fed by a myriad of rivers and heavy seasonal rains, geothermal plants, wind turbines, solar panels and biomass plants. The country used carbon-free electricity for more than 250 days last year with a continuous 110-day stretch from 17 June until 6 October. Science and environment journalist Maria Gallucci described the tropical country as "a verdant gem amid a pile of black coal rocks". In comparison, less than 15 per cent of the US electricity supply for January to October 2016 was renewable. Coal and natural gas together made up nearly two-thirds of the US electricity generation over that period and nuclear power provided the remaining 19 per cent. ICE president Carlos Manuel Obregón said he expected renewable power generation to stay “stable” in Costa Rica in 2017. The country, which hosts more than five per cent of the world’s species biodiversity despite a landmass that covers 0.03 per cent of the planet, has recently set up four new wind farms. Costa Rican clean development adviser Dr Monica Araya has said the extent of Costa Rica's renewable electricity generation is a “fantastic achievement".

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Antarctic ozone layer is gradually healing, researchers find
2016-07-02, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/01/health/antarctic-ozone-layer-healing/

The Antarctic ozone layer, which shields the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays, shows encouraging signs that it's beginning to heal, according to research published in the journal Science. Scientists credit the healing to an international policy set nearly three decades ago that cut the production of ozone-destroying chemicals. That agreement - the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer - called for the phase-out of substances including chlorofluorocarbons and halons, once present in refrigerators, aerosol cans and dry cleaning chemicals. "The ozone layer is expected to recover in response, albeit very slowly," wrote the researchers in the study. The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects animal and plant life on Earth from powerful UV rays. When the ozone layer is weakened, more UV rays can get through and affect humans, making them prone to skin cancer, cataracts and other diseases. There also may be consequences for plant life, including lower crop yields and disruptions in the ocean's food chain. The ozone hole was discovered in 1985, which led to the Montreal Protocol two years later. Researchers ... found that the hole in the ozone layer had shrunk by 1.5 million square miles, based on their measurements every September since 2000 to 2015. This area is equivalent to 4 million square kilometers, which is bigger than India. Since the Montreal Protocol went into effect, the amount of harmful chemicals has also decreased.

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This App Connects Surplus Food To People In Need
2016-04-07, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/app-copia-food-for-hungry_us_57068b32e4b0...

In a country where billions of pounds of food get wasted every year, one app is connecting the dots between those who have excess food and those who need it. Copia, a food recovery app, collects surplus food from companies and distributes it to organizations that serve people in need. Companies can use the app to order a food pickup after an event, for instance, and Copia will come retrieve the fare and drop it off at a local pantry, shelter or soup kitchen. “Hunger is the world’s dumbest problem, especially in the world’s wealthiest country,” Komal Ahmad, the app’s founder, said. “It’s a distribution problem. We get food from those who have it to those who need it.” Food waste is a huge issue in the United States: 31 percent of the available food supply, or 133 billion pounds, went uneaten in 2010. This is in a country in which almost 50 million Americans ... live in food insecure households. “Hunger is pervasive,” said Margarette Purvis, President of Food Bank of NYC. “It’s a horrible thing that is hidden in every city.” So far Copia has collected more than eight hundred thousand pounds of food, connecting it to seven hundred thousand people. Ahmad is hoping ... to potentially use the technology to distribute other much-needed items like medicine. “Next, we want to use the platform to redistribute food to Syrian migrants in our country,” Ahmad said. If you want to help, you can get businesses you work with to use the app. But Purvis suggested something more: go volunteer at a local food pantry.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Woman’s Little Free Pantry Offers Food, Personal Hygiene Items to Those in Need
2016-08-01, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/womans-free-pantry-offers-food-personal-hygie...

Jessica McClard, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, had always been intrigued by the recent trend of Little Free Libraries, which she’d notice popping up quite frequently in her neighborhood. But then she thought about how she could expand the idea into something more. That’s how The Little Free Pantry was born. She built what she believes to be is the first Little Free Pantry, stocked with canned goods, toiletries and paper goods. Her idea has taken off with huge success. “I check on it about once every day because it’s at the church,” McClard told ABC News of the small structure located in front of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. The items that fly off the shelves the fastest are simple goods that can make a world of difference to someone in need. “Personal hygiene items for sure,” she explained. “Deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, diapers, feminine hygiene products, paper goods are great too, paper towels and toilet paper. I get asked about high temperatures and whether food could really spoil, but the turnover rate is so high it’s never been a problem.” The Little Free Pantry isn’t just used for the normal, everyday items. She’s noticed people stocking it with school supplies for children, and even was delighted to find it decorated for Memorial Day. “I feel like there’s some community ownership over it, and that’s exciting.” More than anything, McClard hopes that her Little Free Pantry “helps someone who may be in a tight spot and to let them know they’re not alone.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Faces Of China's New Philanthropy
2016-01-27, Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/katiasavchuk/2016/01/27/the-faces-of-chinas-new-p...

Five months before Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba's went public in September 2014, cofounders Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai created charitable trusts and seeded them with a combined 50 million in share options. Today those trusts are worth nearly $3.5 billion. It's one sign of a new age of large-scale philanthropy in China. Three decades after economic reforms paved the way for 400 billionaires to emerge ... extremely wealthy Chinese have started giving their money away in large sums ... according to research on China's top 100 philanthropists released Wednesday by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School. "It's important to look at the trends in how rich people are giving back to society. We wanted to create healthy competition among donors and shift the national debate from wealth creation to philanthropy," said Peiran Wei, who led the research. Among the 100 philanthropists, the average donation was around $8 million. They gave most often to education. "If you're a businessman in China, it's probably easier for you to make money than to give it away. It's not a free market for philanthropy," Wei said. More than half of the philanthropists gave to charities affiliated with the government. Wei speculates this is ... because these are some of the few entities today that can handle giving at a large scale. However, 19 donors on the list have created private foundations, which Wei says signals a shift toward more professionalized philanthropy.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Platform Cooperatives Like Stocksy Have A Purpose Uber And Airbnb Never Will
2016-10-01, Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/danpontefract/2016/10/01/platform-cooperatives-li...

You are undoubtedly familiar with so-called “sharing economy” titans such as Uber and Airbnb. Both companies are wreaking havoc on existing business models. But there is a problem. These are not truly “sharing economy” companies. For the record, I’m with Harvard Business Review authors Giana M. Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi who made a strong case against using the term “sharing economy” when it comes to firms like Uber and Airbnb. The authors suggested these sorts of businesses - where products and services are traded on the basis of access rather than ownership, when trade is done temporarily and not permanently - ought to be referred to as the “access economy.” While there isn’t anything fundamentally wrong with companies like Uber or Airbnb ... they are not examples of organizations who are truly “sharing”. [Each company] extracts money from its “partners” and reinvests the profit in itself, not those who are its laborers. Which brings me to ... the business model of a “Platform Cooperative.” In its simplest form, a Platform Cooperative is defined as “worker–owned cooperatives designing their own apps-based platforms, fostering truly peer-to-peer ways of providing services and things”. Put differently, those doing the work are owners and are both compensated for such effort and regarded as members of the greater team. A Platform Cooperative is not in it to extract money from its labourers through the rental of talent, service or even capital. Its business model is not about renting access.

Note: Read a great article describing 11 "platform cooperatives" which create a real sharing economy.


Solar and wind power cheaper than fossil fuels for the first time
2017-01-05, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/solar-and-wind-power-cheaper-than-fo...

Solar energy is now cheaper than traditional fossil fuels. Solar and wind is now either the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum. The influential foundation has described the change as a "tipping point" that could make fighting climate change into a profitable form of business for energy companies. But investors and energy firms are still failing to put money into such green solutions despite the fact that they are cheaper than more traditional forms of electricity generation. “Renewable energy has reached a tipping point – it now constitutes the best chance to reverse global warming,” said Michael Drexler, Head of Long Term Investing, Infrastructure and Development at the World Economic Forum. Just ten years ago, generating electricity through solar cost about $600 per MWh, and it cost only $100 to generate the same amount of power through coal and natural gas. But ... today it only costs around $100 the generate the same amount of electricity through solar and $50 through wind. The cheap price of solar and wind energy is already encouraging companies to build more plants to harvest it. The US is adding about 125 solar panels every minute ... and investment in renewables in 2015 rose to $286 billion, up 5 per cent from the year before. Even despite that cheap price ... the worldwide investment is only 25 per cent of the $1 trillion goal set in the landmark Paris climate change accord.

Note: Why are most of the media in the US hardly reporting this inspiring news at all? Read more on this great news in this informative essay.


Is the Era of Great Famines Over?
2016-05-08, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/09/opinion/is-the-era-of-great-famines-over.ht...

The worst drought in three decades has left almost 20 million Ethiopians - one-fifth of the population - desperately short of food. And yet the country’s mortality rate isn’t expected to increase: In other words, Ethiopians aren’t starving to death. I’ve studied famine and humanitarian relief for more than 30 years, and I wasn’t prepared for what I saw during a visit to Ethiopia last month. I saw imported wheat being brought to the smallest and most remote villages. Water was delivered to places where wells had run dry. Malnourished children were being treated in properly staffed clinics. Compare that to the aftermath of the 1984 drought, which killed at least 600,000 people, [and] caused the economy to shrink by nearly 14 percent. How did Ethiopia go from being the world’s symbol of mass famines to fending off starvation? Peace, greater transparency and prudent planning. Ethiopia’s success in averting another disaster is confirmation that famine is elective because, at its core, it is an artifact and a tool of political repression. After countries have passed a certain threshold of prosperity and development, peace, political liberalization and greater government accountability are the best safeguards against famine. So is the era of great famines finally over? Let’s just say it could be. Famine isn’t caused by overpopulation, and as Ethiopia’s experience shows, it’s not a necessary consequence of drought. Politics creates famine, and politics can stop it.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Acidity in atmosphere minimized to preindustrial levels
2016-09-24, Science Daily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160924223232.htm

New research shows that human pollution of the atmosphere with acid is now almost back to the level that it was before the pollution started with industrialisation in the 1930s. The results come from studies of the Greenland ice sheet and are published in the scientific journal, Environmental Science and Technology. By drilling ice cores down through the kilometre-thick ice sheet, the researchers can analyse every single annual layer, which can tell us about ... pollutants in the atmosphere. Acid in the atmosphere can come from large volcanic eruptions and human-made emissions from industry. For many years, there has been a quest to solve the problem of measuring acidity in the porous annual layers of the ice and now scientists from the Niels Bohr Institute have succeeded [by employing] a Continuous Flow Analyses or CFA method. The CFA system can ... distinguish whether the emissions come from volcanic eruptions, large forest fires or industry. The researchers can therefore filter out both volcanic eruptions and forest fires in the assessment of industrial pollution and the new results are revolutionary. "We can see that the acid pollution in the atmosphere from industry has fallen dramatically since humanmade acid pollution took off in the 1930s and peaked in the 1960s and 70s. In the 1970s, both Europe and the United States adopted the 'The clean air act amendments', which required filters in factories, thus reducing acid emissions," explains [researcher] Helle Astrid Kjćr.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Teen birthrate reaches all-time low, CDC report says
2016-04-30, PBS
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/teen-birthrate-reaches-all-time-low-cdc-report...

The teenage birth rate in the United States has hit an all-time low, according to a report this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says during the last 25 years, the teen birth rate has fallen from 62 births for every 1,000 teenage women to 24 per 1,000. The drop is steepest among minorities in the past decade, with pregnancies down 44 percent for black teens and down 51 percent among Hispanics. Dr. Wanda Barfield, the CDC’s director of the Division of Reproductive Health [explains this dramatic] decrease: "What we’re seeing is that community-based interventions appear to be effective in preventing teen births. We’re seeing declines in sexual activity among teens, as well as increases in the use of the most effective contraceptive methods available. Sexual health education plays an important role in the prevention of teen pregnancy. Even states that may have low rates of teen pregnancy may have areas where we’re seeing high rates of teen pregnancy within specific communities. So, as a result, it’s really important that we look locally, that we engage communities in teen pregnancy prevention."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dutch justice? Falling crime rates and prison closures
2016-10-17, DutchNews.nl
http://www.dutchnews.nl/features/2016/10/falling-crime-rates-and-prison-closu...

The closure of five prisons in as many years against the background of a falling crime rate, is the kind of news many governments would give their eye teeth for. The impact could have been even more dramatic if the government had adopted the recommendations of a prison service report published in July, which concluded that eight jails and three youth detention centres will be surplus to requirements by the year 2021. The official figures indicate that recorded crime has been falling for around a decade. Between 2014 and 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, recorded crime was down by nearly 5%, according to national statistics office CBS. In total, recorded crime has shrunk by 25% over the past eight years. Crime figures [have] been falling in nearly all western nations this century, but the decline in the Dutch prison population has been spectacular. In 2006 the Netherlands had the second highest number of inmates in Europe with 125 prisoners per 100,000 population. Only the UK, with 145, had a larger share. But by last year the Dutch were down to Scandinavian levels, with 69 out of every 100,000 citizens behind bars. The government says prison closures are inevitable because it costs too much to keep empty cells open. Official forecasts predict that the downward trend in crime will continue, though how far the fall reflects an actual drop in criminal behaviour remains a hotly contested issue.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That's Cheaper Than Wind
2016-12-15, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-15/world-energy-hits-a-turnin...

A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity. This has happened in isolated projects in the past. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects. While solar was bound to fall below wind eventually, given its steeper price declines, few predicted it would happen this soon. “Solar investment has gone from nothing ... five years ago to quite a lot,” said Ethan Zindler, head of U.S. policy analysis at BNEF. “A huge part of this story is China, which has been rapidly deploying solar” and helping other countries finance their own projects. The world recently passed a turning point and is adding more capacity for clean energy each year than for coal and natural gas combined. Peak fossil-fuel use for electricity may be reached within the next decade. Thursday’s BNEF report, called Climatescope, ranks and profiles emerging markets for their ability to attract capital for low-carbon energy projects. The top-scoring markets were China, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, and India. For populations still relying on expensive kerosene generators, or who have no electricity at all, and for those living in the dangerous smog of thickly populated cities, the shift to renewables and increasingly to solar can’t come soon enough.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A stone ignites a community: Billings stood up to white supremacists
2013-12-02, Billings Gazette (One of Montana's leading newspapers)
http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/a-stone-ignites-a-community-billings-st...

In its simplest form, the story of “Not in Our Town” is of a city that stood up for its Jewish residents against the bullying tactics of white supremacists. Hate group activity in Billings, [Montana] was brewing in the fall of 1992. Then in January 1993, the Montana Association of Churches held an ecumenical service ... to boost interfaith unity and celebrate the work of Martin Luther King Jr., said Margie MacDonald, now a Montana legislator who was then MAC’s executive director. When people returned to their cars, they found on their windshields fliers targeting minorities, homosexuals ... and human rights organizations. MacDonald remembered eating cookies and drinking coffee inside First United Methodist Church when people came back in, shaking, holding the fliers in their hands. “This is what kind of opened our eyes to the magnitude of it,” she said. The ad hoc group, which called itself Community Coalition to Oppose Hate Groups, continued holding community conversations and circulated a resolution to counter bigotry. “Our philosophy and our effort was to create an opportunity for the community to stand beside those people being targeted and make it clear that we would not sit back and let it happen,” MacDonald said. Word of the town’s actions started to spread. Patrice O’Neill, CEO ... of the nonprofit media company The Working Group, read about what happened. She ... came to Billings, interviewed key players and produced [the film “Not in Our Town,” which] was aired on PBS in 1995.

Note: Watch a beautiful, five-minute video presenting this and other shining examples of what the citizens of Billings have done to curb hate in their town.


This 13-year-old formed a charity that has helped provide 500,000-plus meals
2016-12-21, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2016/1221/Thi...

Since the tender age of 7, Will has been focused on feeding the hungry. It all started when he saw a man on a street corner begging for food, and he decided he wanted to do something about it. With the help of his parents – Julie, a teacher, and Bill, a financial adviser – he established the charity Friends Reaching Our Goals, or FROGs. He named the organization himself ... and designed FROGs with a dual purpose: to inspire youths to carry out service work in their communities and to feed those at risk of going hungry. That was October 2010. Since then, he has helped provide more than 500,000 meals to those in need. He raises funds, he plans, he ropes in friends, and more. Tonight he is serving Asian-themed dishes as part of the monthly FROGs Dinner Club, a central event. Each time, Will and his fellow volunteers aim to serve a free, fresh meal with the twist that the recipients be introduced to new foods and healthier options. This go-round, honey-seared chicken is dished up with brown or white rice alongside Vietnamese chicken salad rolls. And edamame. “When I was 7, I was riding home from a Little League baseball game when I saw a man on a street corner who held a sign that said, ‘Need Meal,’ ” Will elaborates. “And it made me sad to realize that there are people in my community who didn’t have enough food to eat. So I started FROGs. Our motto is to have fun while helping others.” Will’s efforts have helped amass $852,000 worth of food items for hunger-fighting charities.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Singularity University focuses on tech transforming society
2016-12-27, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Singularity-University-focuses-on...

Most pop culture depictions of the future, from “The Hunger Games” to the zombie apocalypse, feature dystopia. Singularity University wants to help people — particularly corporate chiefs, global entrepreneurs, government officials, academics, creative types and nonprofit leaders — envision and create more upbeat prospects. “I have a sense of urgency about the need to tell positive stories about a future of abundance, so we have an alternative,” said CEO Rob Nail. “We’re creating a new lens of how to look at the world and create a long-term future we want to live in.” Singularity isn’t a university in the traditional sense. It combines a think tank, business incubator, worldwide conferences and short-duration on-site education programs. Founded in 2009, Singularity changed from a nonprofit to a benefit corporation, a form of for-profit business, four years ago. As such, it can consider its vision of solving big problems alongside ordinary corporate goals of profit-making. Singularity aims big. Its pitch to applicants to its accelerator and students at its intensive 40-day summer program called Global Solutions is this: Come up with an idea to positively impact the lives of a billion people. Think clean water, renewable energy, health, hunger, poverty. “We get thousands of applicants, and look for people ... who have the mind-set and talent to be a game changer and are dedicated to applying technology to address the world’s biggest problems,” said Brad Templeton ... chairman of computing at Singularity.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Giving back: Nine-year-old builds homeless shelters and other selfless acts
2015-06-03, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2015/0603/Giv...

A nine-year old girl from Bremerton, Wash. is making a difference in her local community. In a report with KING 5 News, Hailey Ford is shown using a power tool to drive nails into the roof what looks like a miniature house. The structure is the first of 11 planned shelters she [is] building for the homeless in her area. She tells the reporter that her friend Edward is homeless and needs a dry place to sleep at night. When she realized that she could do something about it, she began piecing together a plan to build "mobile sleeping" shelters, as she calls them. The shelters come complete with insulation, tar paper, and windows, barriers that will keep out the elements and lock in the warmth. Hailey isn't the only kid acting with compassion. Five-year old Josiah Duncan had a similar reaction when he saw a hungry-looking homeless man outside of a Waffle House in Prattville, Ala., last month. The little boy began asking his mother about the man's appearance, clearly troubled. She explained that the man was homeless and Josiah requested that they buy him a meal. His mother obliged. Before the man could eat, Josiah insisted on saying a blessing. "The man cried. I cried. Everybody cried," his mother told WFSA. Other children have taken Hailey and Josiah's kindness a few steps further. Hannah Taylor, a Canadian from Winnipeg, Manitoba, founded the Ladybug Foundation when she was only eight years old. In her mission statement Hannah says, "I believe that if people know about homelessness – that there are people living without a home – they will want to help.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'Hidden Figures,' 'The Glass Universe,' And Why Science Needs History
2016-12-18, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2016/12/18/505592663/hidden-figures-the-glass-universe-and...

The history of science is, like so much else, a human history. But history tends to get simplified; a map becomes a single road leading from point to point. It's not surprising that some scientists who contributed invaluably to the field have been kept out of the dominant narrative because they were women. But in the last days of the 19th century and the early days of the 20th, Henrietta Swan Leavitt - one of the many woman "computers" at the Harvard Observatory - used the measurements of variable stars to determine fixed distances across space. And fifty years later, Katherine Johnson - a black woman working at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia when the state was still deeply segregated - would map John Glenn's space flight, and America's trip to the moon. Women are indelible contributors to the field, and two of this year's best histories - Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures, and Dava Sobel's The Glass Universe - are out to prove it. There's deep value to these stories in the here and now. Women fought prejudice (twice over, in the case of Hidden Figures) and did crucial work that shaped our understanding and exploration of the universe. From a glass-plate storage room in the Observatory, Williamina Fleming could look at a far-off star and map it in a sea of numbers; in a segregated Virginia, Katherine Johnson could look at a sea of numbers and map out a path to the Moon. Taken together, these books make a case not just for acknowledging women's contributions to the field, but for the value of science itself.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


America’s First Commercial Offshore Wind Farm Goes Live
2016-12-09, Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/america-rsquo-s-first-commercial-o...

In a few days, the water-bound wind turbines off of Rhode Island’s Block Island are expected to generate electricity commercially for the first time, and New Englanders are set to become the first in U.S. history to use electric power generated from an offshore wind turbine. The Block Island Wind Project is the first commercial offshore wind farm ever built in the U.S., and the start of its operation marks the the beginning of a brand new clean energy industry in the United States. Offshore wind is one of America’s largest untapped energy sources. As part of its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global warming from exceeding 2°C (3.6°F), the Obama administration unveiled a plan in September to build wind farms off of nearly every U.S. coastline by 2050 - enough turbines to generate zero-carbon electricity for more than 23 million homes. In 2009, the Obama administration began ... leasing large swaths of the East Coast’s continental shelf to offshore wind developers. Since then, federal government lease sales have been held for areas off the coasts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware. New York is next in line for a lease sale this month. Once it is operational, the success of the Block Island Wind Project will prove that offshore wind power can be done in the U.S., said Steve Pike, CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a publicly funded state agency that conducts offshore wind technology research.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Forgiveness Ceremony Unites Veterans And Natives At Standing Rock
2016-12-05, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/forgiveness-ceremony-unites-veterans-and-...

Native Americans conducted a forgiveness ceremony with U.S. veterans at the Standing Rock casino, giving the veterans an opportunity to atone for military actions conducted against Natives throughout history. In celebration of Standing Rock protesters’ victory [towards] halting construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, Leonard Crow Dog formally forgave Wes Clark Jr., the son of retired U.S. Army general and former supreme commander at NATO, Wesley Clark Sr.. Salon published Clark’s apology to the Natives, which read as follows: "Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. When we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness." This was a historically symbolic gesture forgiving centuries of oppression against Natives and honoring their partnership in defending the land from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Chief Leonard Crow Dog offered forgiveness and urged for world peace, responding that “we do not own the land, the land owns us.”

Note: A beautiful, two-minute video shows these U.S. veterans apologizing to Native Americans for stealing and pillaging their land demonstrates how our times are changing. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The man who bought a forest
2006-04-03, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2006/apr/04/partyfunding.environment

Johan Eliasch is finding himself in the news a lot these days. Just over a week ago it emerged that this Swedish-born tycoon ... had bought 400,000 acres of the Amazonian rainforest, an area the size of Greater London. He bought it, he said, to save it, to preserve its plants and wildlife - and, by preserving old-growth forest, to do his bit towards counteracting rising CO2 levels. Eliasch's response to the issue of global warming and the devastation of habitats is unusual, but it is not isolated. Paul van Klissingen, owner of Calor gas, has spent Ł15m on land in Africa. Kris McDivitt, former head of Patagonia clothing, and her husband Doug Tompkins, co-founder of the North Face, own 2m acres in Chile and Argentina. George Soros and Luciano Benetton own 1m and 2m acres of South America respectively. The idea is to step in where local governments, for whatever reason, have failed, or have more pressing issues to deal with, to buy up the land and lock it down by banning logging, sometimes establishing wildlife parks. Eliasch has been thinking about environmental issues for a long time, he says. When he was growing up in Stockholm he used to be able to walk out of his front door and ski from late October until April. "Today in Stockholm, you can't ski at all." I ask what [it feels] like to own so much rainforest? A slight laugh. "It's something very precious. It's a responsibility, at the same time." A pause. "It's not really a personal possession."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Man Who Was Paralyzed Receives Experimental Treatment, Can Now Use Hands
2016-09-27, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/paralyzed-man-neck-down-can-use-arms-hand...

A man who was paralyzed from the neck down can now operate his wheelchair and hug his family. Kristopher Boesen, who became paralyzed after a car crash, has become the first person in California to receive an experimental treatment made from stem cells. It has allowed him to use his arms and hands once again. The treatment is an injection that consists of 10 million AST-OPC1 cells, which are derived from embryonic stem cells. AST-OPC1 helps support the healthy functioning of nerve cells. In early April, a team at Keck Medical Center injected the treatment into Boesen’s damaged cervical spine. Three months later, he was able to do tasks like write his name. “I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t feed myself. I couldn’t text or, pretty much, do anything. I was basically just existing ... I wasn’t really living my life” Boesen [said]. “And now, after the stem cell surgery, I’m able to live my life.” Boesen’s success stems from strength. Just before his twenty-first birthday, Boesen lost control of his car [and] hit a tree ... leaving him with severe injuries to his spine. His parents were told he’d be paralyzed from the neck down, but they were also told that he qualified for a clinical study that could help. To participate, Boesen had to give voice confirmation that he wanted to be part of the study. The problem was that at the time, Boesen was using a ventilator to breath, and was unable to speak. Through sheer desire ... Boesen weaned himself off the ventilator in five days - a process that usually takes patients three weeks to complete.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A black man's quixotic quest to quell the racism of the KKK, one robe at a time
2016-12-08, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-ca-film-accidental-courtesy-20...

"Who’s this black guy trying to make friends with the Ku Klux Klan?” A raised eyebrow, a shake of the head. Such were the sentiments of Scott Shepherd, a former Klan grand dragon, when he first saw Daryl Davis, a piano-playing bluesman who travels the nation attempting to dispel racism from those who hate him most. It doesn’t often work, but over the decades Davis, like a man on a quixotic pilgrimage, has collected more than two dozen Klan robes from those who have disavowed white supremacy. His unlikely story unfolds in “Accidental Courtesy,” a documentary by Matt Ornstein that follows Davis on an odd and lively quest to Confederate monuments, Klansmen houses, boogie joints, churches and a hot dog stand. “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” Davis asks in the film, which opens in Los Angeles on Friday. “Throughout my life I have been looking for an answer to that.” The son of a foreign service officer, Davis spent part of his childhood overseas, far from the racism many African Americans learn early. His first encounter with bigotry came when he was a 10-year-old Cub Scout. Bottles and rocks were thrown at him as he marched in a parade. The bewildering incident was the seed of a mission that years later found him ... starting a conversation with Klan Imperial Wizard Roger Kelly. The two became close. When Kelly quit the Klan, he gave Davis his robe. Talking to Klansmen “has worked for me,” said Davis. “I don’t seek to convert them but if they spend time with me, they can’t hate me.”

Note: Watch an awesome video about this brave black man who all but ended the KKK in Maryland by making friends with their leaders. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Texas death row killer forgiven by shooting victim
2011-07-19, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-14199078

In the nine years Mark Stroman has been on death row in Texas, he says he has watched 208 people walk past him on the way to be executed. This week it is his turn. Following 11 September, 2001, Stroman attacked three people, killing two of them. He was targeting anyone he considered an "Arab", calling it revenge for 9/11. "What Mark Stroman did was a hate crime, and hate crimes come from ignorance," said Rais Bhuiyan, 37, the only man to survive the shooting[s]. "His execution will not eradicate hate crimes from this world, we will just simply lose another human life." [Bhuiyan] needed many operations, has lost the sight in his right eye and still carries shotgun pellets in his face, but is now campaigning hard to prevent his attacker from being put to death. "This campaign is all about passion, forgiveness, tolerance and healing. We should not stay in the past," he said. "If I can forgive my offender who tried to take my life, we can all work together to forgive each other and move forward and take a new narrative on the 10th anniversary of 11 September." He had been in touch with Stroman, who he would like to see as "a spokesperson, an educator, teaching a lot of people as ignorant as him what is wrong". Stroman says he has asked himself the question a thousand times - would he be able to forgive the man who shot him in the face? He said he would find it very hard. "I tried to kill this man, and this man is now trying to save my life. This man is inspiring to me."

Note: Watch a moving five-minute video of this beautiful story of compassion and transformation. See also this New York Times interview with Rais Bhuiyan.


A Dose of a Hallucinogen From a ‘Magic Mushroom,’ and Then Lasting Peace
2016-12-01, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/health/hallucinogenic-mushrooms-psilocybin-...

On a summer morning in 2013, Octavian Mihai entered a softly lit room. He swallowed a capsule of psilocybin, an ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. Then he put on an eye mask and headphones and lay down on a couch. Mr. Mihai, who had just finished treatment for Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was participating in a study looking at whether the drug can reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Throughout that eight-hour session, a psychiatrist and a social worker ... stayed by his side. The results from that study, and a similar small, controlled trial, were striking. About 80 percent of cancer patients showed clinically significant reductions in both psychological disorders, a response sustained some seven months after the single dose. Side effects were minimal. In both trials, the intensity of the mystical experience described by patients correlated with the degree to which their depression and anxiety decreased. Although cancer patients will not have access to therapeutically administered psilocybin anytime soon, the findings add vigor to applications to expand research in a multicenter trial with hundreds of participants. Psilocybin trials are underway in the United States and Europe for alcoholism, tobacco addiction and treatment-resistant depression. Other hallucinogens are also being studied for clinical application. This week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a large-scale trial investigating MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy, for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Note: See another article in the UK's Independent showing remarkable results from these studies. Learn more about the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs now being explored by the scientific community.


Releasing confidence: prison entrepreneurship programs offer path
2015-12-20, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Releasing-confidence-prison-entre...

Nearly 50 Bay Area executives and professionals packed into a gymnasium last week at the state prison in Solano County and lined up, toe to toe, with a row of convicted criminals. For most entrepreneurs, it was a ... a place they had never been. But it was all too familiar for Kenyatta Leal, [who] left San Quentin in 2013 after 19 years behind bars. He was among the first to graduate from the Last Mile Program - a prison initiative [run by Defy Ventures, which is] intended to turn offenders into entrepreneurs. In one exercise, inmates and volunteers were given a prompt and told to step forward or backward depending on whether it applied to them. “I have been incarcerated,” read Brian Moll, Defy Ventures’ executive director for the Bay Area. Every inmate stepped forward. So did a handful of entrepreneurs. One by one, the professionals fell back - all but Leal, who stood alone in his beige suit. “No. No way,” said Oakland native Leonard Halfin, 46, who has been incarcerated for 25 years on a second-degree-murder charge. “I can’t believe that. I would have never thought he was one of us.” This, said Defy founder and chief executive Catherine Hoke, is the most important takeaway: It allows felons to realize that they have potential. Hoke’s hope is that participating in programs like Defy’s will help inmates formulate plans and sharpen professional skills that can help them become successful.

Note: Watch a great, short video on this impressive program. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Black female physicist pioneers technology that kills cancer cells with lasers
2016-09-01, New York Times
http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/01/09/black-female-physicist-...

Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green is one of fewer than 100 black female physicists in the country, and the recent winner of $1.1 million grant to further develop a technology she’s pioneered that uses laser-activated nanoparticles to treat cancer. Green, who lost her parents young, was raised by her aunt and uncle. While still at school, her aunt died from cancer, and three months later her uncle was diagnosed with cancer, too. Green went on to earn her degree in physics at Alabama A&M University, being crowned Homecoming Queen while she was at it, before going on full scholarship to University of Alabama in Birmingham to earn her Masters and Ph.D. There Green would become the first to work out how to deliver nanoparticles into cancer cells exclusively, so that a laser could be used to remove them, and then successfully carry out her treatment on living animals. As she takes on her growing responsibilities, Green still makes time to speak at schools, Boys & Girls Clubs and other youth events. “Young black girls don’t see those role models (scientists) as often as they see Beyonce or Nicki Minaj,” says Green. “It’s important to know that our brains are capable of more.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A Psychiatrist Who Survived The Holocaust Explains Why Meaningfulness Matters More Than Happiness
2014-10-22, Business Insider
http://www.businessinsider.com/a-lesson-about-happiness-from-a-holocaust-surv...

In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp. Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his pregnant wife, had perished. In his bestselling 1946 book, Man's Search for Meaning ... Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning. Those who found meaning even in the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not. "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing," Frankl wrote in Man's Search for Meaning, "the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. On top of that, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to recent research. "It is the very pursuit of happiness," Frankl knew, "that thwarts happiness." The pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves ... we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Barbershop gives special discount to kids who read aloud
2016-10-27, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/barbershop-gives-special-discount-to-kids-who-rea...

In this small barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, kids pick out a book and head to the chair. It’s like clockwork. That’s because children 12 and under who visit The Fuller Cut can get a $2 discount on their $11 haircut for doing a simple task: reading to the barber. It’s a program owner Alexander Fuller and barber Ryan Griffin started more than a year ago. And parents can’t get enough of it. The pair can’t take credit for the idea. They just happened to hear about other shops around the country taking part in a “read to your barber program,” and they decided to get on board. Fuller and his wife started ordering some books and Griffin brought in a shelf. Customers even joined the cause by donating old and used books. Before the pair knew it, kids were grabbing books off the shelf and hopping into the chair to start reading. Roughly 90 percent of kids grab a book that’s already on the shelf, Fuller says, but occasionally kids bring in books from home or school as well. “It gives them confidence in reading and helps us understand their comprehension of reading,” Fuller said. “The kids love it. It’s one of the best things that has come along for them.” Another bonus, Fuller added, is that it helps kids socialize. Not only does it improve their reading skills, but their manners as well. Whether you can read well or can’t read well, the barbers will help you along the way, Fuller reminds his customers. “It’s been a great experience so far, Fuller said.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Yogic breathing helps fight major depression, study shows
2016-11-22, Science Daily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161122182357.htm

A breathing-based meditation practice known as Sudarshan Kriya yoga helped alleviate severe depression in people who did not fully respond to antidepressant treatments, reports a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Researchers found significant improvement in symptoms of depression and anxiety in medicated patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who participated in the breathing technique compared to medicated patients who did not partake. More than half of the 41 million Americans who take antidepressants do not fully respond. Add-on therapies are often prescribed to enhance the effects of the drugs in these patients, but they typically offer limited additional benefits and come with side effects that can [prolong] the depressive episode. The meditation technique ... includes a series of sequential, rhythm-specific breathing exercises that bring people into a deep, restful, and meditative state: slow and calm breaths alternated with fast and stimulating breaths. In past studies, the practice has demonstrated a positive response in patients with milder forms of depression, depression due to alcohol dependence, and in patients with MDD; however, there are no clinical studies investigating its use for depression in an outpatient setting. Past studies suggest that yoga and other controlled breathing techniques can potentially adjust the nervous system to reduce stress hormones.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Running Program That's Pulled 13,000 Out of Homelessness
2016-11-30, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1451/the-running-program-that-s-pulled-13-000-...

On a recent Friday morning, a group of about 20 homeless guys warmed up in a parking lot across the street from three shelters in East Harlem. In a circle, they did jumping jacks, twisted their torsos and touched their toes. Fifteen minutes later, they huddled up, chanted the Serenity Prayer ... and took off running. Ryan ... began jogging with the group, known as Back on My Feet, seven months ago. Never a runner, he always wondered what the big deal about it was. Ask him today, however, and he’ll tell you it’s “so natural, almost spiritual.” Back on My Feet is a program that uses running to help the homeless get their lives back on track. In addition to connecting participants with housing and jobs, Back on My Feet is founded on the notion that running can change a person’s self-image. Early morning exercise, three days a week, provides an outlet for pent-up emotions and starts to change the way someone thinks about hard work. If the concept seems hokey or contrived, the program’s numbers show that’s not the case. Back on My Feet’s program has reached 5,200 homeless individuals. More than 1,900 have obtained employment, and 1,300 have moved into independent housing. Waking up so early every morning - whether the thermometer’s bubbling over or when it’s frozen solid - instills discipline and responsibility in the participants. They’re two valuable concepts, but both are hard to teach in the abstract. They need to be lived to be experienced.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?
2014-10-22, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magazine/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a-mind-...

[Psychologist Ellen] Langer gave houseplants to two groups of nursing-home residents. She told one group that they were responsible for keeping the plant alive and that they could also make choices about their schedules. She told the other group that the staff would care for the plants, and they were not given any choice in their schedules. Eighteen months later, twice as many subjects in the plant-caring, decision-making group were still alive than in the control group. To Langer, this was evidence that the biomedical model of the day ... was wrongheaded. She came to think that what people needed to heal themselves was a psychological “prime” - something that triggered the body to take curative measures all by itself. Gathering [a group of] older men together in New Hampshire [in 1981] for what she would later refer to as a counterclockwise study would be a way to test this premise. The men in the experimental group were told ... to “attempt to be the person they were 22 years ago.” At the end of their stay, the men were tested, [and] outperformed a control group. They ... showed greater manual dexterity and sat taller. Their sight improved. The experimental subjects, Langer told me, had “put their mind in an earlier time,” and their bodies went along for the ride. Traditionally minded health researchers acknowledge the role of placebo effects and account for them in their experiments. But Langer goes well beyond that. She thinks ... that in many cases they may actually be the main factor producing the results.

Note: If you are open to being surprised at just how powerful the mind is, don't miss this entire article. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


He nearly died in a shooting. Now he’s a doctor at the hospital that saved his life
2016-05-24, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/05/24/this-man-near...

At his graduation from medical school, Kevin Morton Jr. sat beside the woman who saved his life. It was nearly a decade since he was shot in an Arby’s parking lot, sustaining injuries so severe that the early prognosis gave him only a 10 percent chance of survival. But Dr. Dharti Sheth-Zelmanski, the surgeon on call in the trauma unit that night, didn’t let that happen. The care he received over many surgeries and his long recovery inspired Morton to evaluate what he would do with his second chance. The answer came naturally: He’d pay it forward by becoming a doctor himself. In 2012, he ... was accepted to Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. He chose to specialize in general surgery, the same as Sheth-Zelmanski. He did his student rotations at St. John’s Hospital in Detroit ... where he was once a patient. He’ll start his residency there in July — almost nine years to the day he was brought there as a shooting victim. On his graduation day earlier this month, Morton asked Sheth-Zelmanski to hood him, an honor given to a close family member or mentor when receiving an advanced degree. “There’s no greater joy than to realize what I do on a day-to-day basis can create such a change in somebody for the better,” she said. “I feel like I know that if anything is ever wrong with me, I know where I can go.” And that’s Morton’s goal: to be the kind of compassionate and engaged doctor that she was for him.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Human Library Lets You ‘Check Out’ People From All Walks Of Life For A Chat
2016-03-15, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/human-library-copenhagen_us_56e34408e4b08...

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to other people, sometimes we do. Ronni Abergel a 42-year-old from Copenhagen, Denmark, is trying to change that with the Human Library, a place where individuals can “check out” people, or “human books,” for a 30-minute conversation. Abergel opened the alternative library in Copenhagen in 2000, and has since brought the idea to 70 countries. Human books vary from people who are blind and deaf, bipolar, homeless and, in the case of a Rochester, New York, event, a white woman who grew up in apartheid-era South Africa. That woman, 41-year-old Deb Duguid-May shared her experiences, saying, “What I became so aware of was how fear was used to control people and how fear was used to bond people. Everything I had been taught by my culture was a lie.” In 1993, [Abergel] and a few friends started a successful youth group called “Stop the Violence” after a mutual friend was stabbed. Thankfully the friend survived, but the incident inspired Abergel to help people start open conversations about their differences. When Stop the Violence was asked to develop an activity for a festival in 2000, the group came up with the idea for The Human Library. Abergel hopes to bring his novel concept to all 50 states soon, telling Today: “I figured that if we could make people sit down with a group attached to a certain stigma they don’t like or even know about for that matter, we could diminish violence.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Rwanda's Catholic Church says sorry for its role in 1994 genocide
2016-11-21, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/21/africa/rwanda-catholic-church-apology/

The Catholic Church in Rwanda has apologized for its members' role in the genocide that saw hundreds of thousands of Rwandans killed in 1994. Rwandan bishops asked for "forgiveness for sins of hatred and disagreement that happened in the country to the point of hating our own countrymen because of their origin," in a statement read after mass in parishes across the country Sunday. In 1994, Hutu extremists in Rwanda targeted minority ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a three-month killing spree that left an estimated 800,000 people dead. Hutu attackers burned down churches with hundreds or thousands of Tutsis inside. Although the church states it did not send anyone to participate in the killings, it acknowledges that its members were active, apologizing for "Christian leaders who caused divisions among people and planted seeds of hate." Four Catholic priests were indicted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for their role in the genocide in 2001. Among them was Rwandan Catholic Priest Athanse Seromba who was sentenced to ... life imprisonment for actively participating in the massacre of around 2,000 Tutsis who sought protection in his church. The United Nations has criticized the Catholic Church in the past for its failure to apologize for its complicity in the killings.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Hero rats sniff (and snuff) out landmines and TB
2014-09-26, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/26/world/africa/hero-rats-sniff-out-landmines-and-tb/

Traditionally, you wouldn't gift someone a rat. Tanzania-based NGO Apopo, however, thinks rats make excellent gifts. So much so that they've launched an adopt-a-rat program, which allows participants to sponsor the animal. Despite the creatures' reputation for thieving and spreading disease, [Apopo's founder Bart] Weetjens has proven that rats can ... save lives. Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands. They are highly trained to sniff out land mines and detect tuberculosis - two scourges that have had a tremendously negative impact across the African continent. And his rats are fast. A single rat can clear 200 square feet in an hour (done manually, the same area would take 50 hours to clear). A TB-detection rat can evaluate 50 samples in eight minutes (almost a day's work for a lab technician). In 2006, Weetjens started testing his "hero rats," as he dubs them, on the mine fields in Mozambique, a country that at that time was one of the worst affected by landmines, thanks mainly to a civil war that ended in 1992. Since then, Apopo has cleared the country of 6,693 landmines, 29,934 small arms and ammunition, and 1,087 bombs. Mozambique is on track to be free of landmines by the year's end. In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a TB crisis in Africa. It's a problem Weetjens realized he could address with his sniffer rats. So far, they've analyzed over 260,000 samples from health clinics in Dar es Salaam. They are cheap to train, cheaper to procure, and plentiful.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Motorcycle Club Rallies Around Boy Targeted By Hate Crimes
2016-11-10, CBS News (Boston affiliate)
http://boston.cbslocal.com/2016/11/10/motorcycle-club-rallies-around-boy-targ...

Earlier this month we brought you the story of a New Hampshire boy who was targeted because of the color of his skin. On Thursday, some special people were rallying around the child, healing the hate with love, and some fun. Horns were honking and engines roaring as seven year old Eze headed for 20 bikers waiting outside his school. Even though he doesn’t know any of them, their kindness means everything. “The best part of today is riding a motorcycle,” Eze says. Police say Eze, who is biracial, was targeted by a series of hate crimes recently. First a racial slur was scratched on his mother’s car, and then another on a saw horse tossed into the yard, and the third when fried chicken and watermelon were thrown onto the car. One of their neighbors is in the Manchester Motorcycle Club. He was horrified when he heard what happened. “Nothing’s ever happened on our road like that and it’s just wrong, and I don’t like it,” says Steve Vachon. The club decided to let the family know they were not alone. So today they made Eze an honorary club member. “We just want to share something with the kid, that he has people who care about him,” Vachon says. They also gave him a helmet, a jacket of his own and the ride of a lifetime. “I think it means the world to him. He knows the town supports him and no one hates him, and that he can walk with pride and he doesn’t have to be scared,” says Jaci Stimson, Eze’s mother.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Please Stop Thinking You’re Better Than Trump Supporters
2016-11-18, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/please-stop-thinking-youre-better-tha...

We’ve got to stop acting out hate. There is no less of it in the liberal media than there is in the right-wing media. It is just better disguised. We are entering a time of great uncertainty. Institutions so enduring as to seem identical to reality itself may lose their legitimacy and dissolve. For many, that process started on election night, when Trump’s victory provoked incredulity. At such moments, it is a normal response to find someone to blame, as if identifying fault could restore the lost normality, and to lash out in anger. Hate and blame are convenient ways of making meaning out of a bewildering situation. If you are appalled at the election outcome and feel the call of hate, perhaps try asking yourself, “What is it like to be a Trump supporter?” Ask it not with a patronizing condescension, but for real, looking underneath the caricature of misogynist and bigot to find the real person. Even if the person you face is a misogynist or bigot, ask, “Is this who they are, really?” Ask what confluence of circumstances, social, economic, and biographical, may have brought them there. You may still not know how to engage them, but at least you will not be on the warpath automatically. We hate what we fear, and we fear what we do not know. So let’s stop making our opponents invisible behind a caricature of evil. This does not mean to withdraw from political conversation, but to rewrite its vocabulary, [and] speak hard truths with love. It is to offer acute political analysis that doesn’t carry the implicit message of, “Aren’t those people horrible?”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Something to Celebrate: 6 Women Who Won Historic Firsts
2016-11-09, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/something-to-celebrate-6-women-who-wo...

We were preparing to celebrate the historic election of the nation’s first female president. Despite the upset, one loss does not devalue another victory. Across the country, women of various backgrounds ... ran on platforms of equality and progressive reform. And they won. Kate Brown has been serving as Oregon’s governor since her [predecessor] resigned. Yesterday, she was elected by the state to serve the next two years of what would