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.
Bees may soon be able to take some of the sting out of cancer by detecting it early and getting patients into treatment sooner. Honeybees are known for their exquisitely sensitive sense of smell. They don't have noses, but their feet, tongues and antennae are packed with olfactory glands. They can also be quickly trained to do their "waggle dance" when they associate a specific smell with a food source. Taking advantage of these facts, Portuguese scientist Susana Soares has invented a two-chambered glass dome that uses bees to snuff out cancer. "The glass objects have two enclosures: a smaller chamber that serves as the diagnostic space and a bigger chamber where previously trained bees are kept for the short period of time necessary for them to detect general health," Soares wrote on her website. "People exhale into the smaller chamber, and the bees rush into it if they detect on the breath the odor that they were trained to target." Soares said she could train bees in 10 minutes to identify cancer and other diseases, such as tuberculosis and diabetes in their early stages. By exposing the insects to the odor molecules produced by an illness and then feeding them sugar, they learn to associate the smell with a food reward. Soares said that her bee chamber was an inexpensive, sustainable and highly accurate diagnostic tool. And, she points out, bees, as well as wasps, are already used regularly to sniff out land mines and illegal drugs.
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About 70 companies are taking part in what is thought to be the world's biggest pilot scheme into the working pattern over the next six months. The experiment has been organised by a group campaigning for a shorter working week, but for no loss in wages. During the trial, employees will get 100% pay for 80% of the hours they would usually work, with the aim of being more productive. Academics from Oxford and Cambridge universities, as well experts at Boston College in the US, will manage the experiment in partnership with the think tank Autonomy. Companies ranging from office-based software developers and recruitment firms to charities and a local fish and chip shop are taking part. "The UK trial is historic", said Juliet Schor, the lead researcher on the Global 4-day week project. "The basis of this movement is that there's activity going on in many workplaces, particularly white collar workplaces, that's low-productivity and that you can cut without harming the business." She said the trouble with the five-day week is that work can simply expand to fit the time available. "Sticking to a rigid, centuries-old, time-based system doesn't make sense," Ms Schor added. "You can be 100% productive in 80% of the time in many workplaces, and companies adopting this around the world have shown that." Even if workers are just 10% more productive the economics can still stack up, she argued, if it leads to lower sickness rates, fewer staff leaving and making it easier to attract new recruits.
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Celebrity investor Mark Cuban is receiving praise on social media after he launched a new company that provides patients access to affordable medications. Cuban launched the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company (MCCPDC), a direct-to-consumer online company that offers more than 100 generic medications at discounted prices. The investor said â€‹â€‹he aims to "be the low-cost provider of medications to patients." He continued: "If you don't have insurance or have a high deductible plan, you know that even the most basic medications can cost a fortune. Many people are spending crazy amounts of money each month just to stay healthy. No American should have to suffer or worse–because they can't afford basic prescription medications." The company's low costs are achieved by working directly with partners, which "allows us to only markup our costs by 15 percent," Cuban explained. Explaining the business model, Cuban cited the drug prescribed for hookworm, Albendazole, which can cost as much as $500 per course. "Our cost for Albendazole is $26.08 per course. We mark that price up by 15 percent so we can continue to run the company and invest in disrupting the pricing of as many drugs as we possibly can," he explained. "That makes the base price of the drug $30. Then we add on the actual cost, $3.00, that our pharmacy partners charge us to prepare and provide your prescription to you. "That makes the sales price on this website $33. Far, far lower than the pricing available in the marketplace."
Note: As big Pharma rakes in the huge profits, Marc Cuban has created a new company called CostPlus which brings many expensive drugs to you at a fraction of the price. Sadly, very few of the major media are reporting on this. Cuban says, "Everyone should have safe, affordable medicines with transparent prices."
The Kindness Test involved over 60,000 people from 144 different countries around the world, making it the largest public study of kindness ever carried out. You can listen to the full rundown of the results in the three-part BBC Radio 4 documentary, The Anatomy of Kindness, airing this month. The research will also soon be submitted for publication so their findings can be used to forward research in the future. Here are a few interesting findings from the test. Kinder people, or simply people who are more aware of kindness experience higher levels of life satisfaction and wellbeing. Two-thirds of participants believe the pandemic has made people kinder, perhaps by giving us a collective struggle that increased our empathy for each other. The study also found that nearly 60 percent of the people who partook in the research claimed to have received an act of kindness within the previous day. "It is a big part of human nature, to be kind – because it's such a big part of how we connect with people and how we have relationships," says Claudia Hammond, study collaborator. "It's a win-win situation, because we like receiving kindness, but we also like being kind." The overarching trend from the data is that your personality determines how kind you are to others and also how kind they are to you. People who are open to new experiences, agreeable, like talking to strangers, or are extraverted all reported higher levels of kindness in their lives.
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San Francisco and Sioux Falls might seem to share little beyond an abbreviation, but the cities wrestle with a common problem: homelessness. Now the two regions are set to test a new approach to controlling homelessness by targeting the link between housing instability and incarceration. The Just Home Project, devised and funded by the MacArthur Foundation, and coordinated by the Urban Institute, will provide resources and technical assistance to four jurisdictions across the U.S. that struggle with different variations on the jail-to-homelessness cycle: South Carolina's Charleston County, Oklahoma's Tulsa County, South Dakota's Minnehaha County, and the city and county of San Francisco. The broader goal is to get counties to address the specific barriers that recently incarcerated individuals face when trying to access existing housing. "Homelessness, housing insecurity and participation in the criminal justice system are just simply deeply intertwined, in part because of the criminalization of homelessness itself," said Kelly Walsh, a principal policy associate at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center. Laurie Garduque, the director of criminal justice at the MacArthur Foundation, stresses that the initiative is designed specifically to support the jail population. Garduque hopes that learning from these local projects could help secure national-level solutions. "We think that if the barriers to housing can be addressed, the footprint of the criminal justice system will shrink," she said.
The underwater world at Laughing Bird Caye National Park off the coast of Belize looked nothing like the vibrant and colourful place that had thrived with life before Hurricane Iris swept across it in 2001. [Lisa] Carne immediately wanted to start replenishing the reefs by planting corals, but it took many years to convince any funders that her idea was viable. People argued, and still do, that without solving the problems that cause corals to die, putting them back on the reef made no sense. Carne began pitching her restoration ideas in 2002, but for several years had no luck. Then in 2006, the US listed Caribbean acroporid corals (the fastest growing type of branching coral in the Caribbean, and the main reef-building one) as endangered, and a local funder approved Carne's proposal to restore the reef. Carne began with transplanting 19 elkhorn coral fragments from the main barrier reef around 19 miles (31km) away in a trial. Because the initial 2006 transplants' survival was high (more than 80% still alive today) she continued to identify surviving corals and started reseeding the reefs with them in 2010. In 2009, Illiana Baums, professor of molecular ecology at Penn State University, advised on the appropriate distance to plant different individuals of each coral species apart to encourage spawning. So far over 85,000 corals have been planted in the Laughing Bird Caye National Park. Long-term monitoring shows 89% survived after 14 years – much higher than typical survivorship after restoration.
Don't you remember having an imaginary friend? That friend was not imaginary–you were talking to Spirit," said Patricia Bell. Bell, seventy years old with sinewy arms, aqua eyes, and straw-colored hair, is the director of Children's Week at the Lily Dale Assembly, a hamlet in upstate New York that serves as the headquarters of Spiritualism, an American religion based on communication with the dead. Approximately twenty-two thousand pilgrims pass through Lily Dale's guarded gate each summer. In July, when many American children go to soccer camp, or horse-riding camp, or coding camp, the Spiritualists of Lily Dale welcome kids for a week of animal communication, dream interpretation, body tapping, qigong, and contact with deceased ancestors. Founded in 2003, Bell's camp is the only Spiritualist camp in the nation dedicated to teaching young mediums and psychics. Bell ... believes that the otherworldly abilities she's nurturing in herself as well as the children aren't rare gifts, but innate skills, as reflexive as breastfeeding. These skills are typically educated out of people as they age. She formed the camp to let kids exercise their craft and to make it less daunting for them to talk to those on the "spirit plane." Kylie ... has been coming to camp for nine years. "They teach us how to focus," she said. "We go into our heart and take a few breaths, and, like, you talk to God for a few seconds and say thank you. My hands start tingling a lot and that's when I know where the pain of the other person is."
What if someone told you that you could dramatically reduce the crime rate without resorting to coercive policing or incarceration? it sounds too good to be true. But it's been borne out by the research of Chris Blattman, Margaret Sheridan, Julian Jamison, and Sebastian Chaskel. Their new study provides experimental evidence that offering at-risk men a few weeks of behavioral therapy plus a bit of cash reduces the future risk of crime and violence, even 10 years after the intervention. Sustainable Transformation of Youth in Liberia ... offered men who were at high risk for violent crime eight weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy. [Economist Chris] Blattman wanted to formally study just how effective this kind of program could be. He decided to run a big randomized controlled trial with 999 of the most dangerous men in Monrovia, recruited on the street. The 999 Liberian men were split into four groups. Some received CBT, while others got $200 in cash. Another group got the CBT plus the cash, and finally, there was a control group that got neither. A year after the intervention, the positive effects on those who got therapy alone had faded a bit, but those who got therapy plus cash were still showing huge impacts: crime and violence were down about 50 percent. 10 years later ... crime and violence were still down by about 50 percent in the therapy-plus-cash group. Blattman estimates that there were 338 fewer crimes per participant over 10 years. [The program] cost just $530 per participant. That works out to $1.50 per crime avoided.
Even though the Biden administration's plan to make community college tuition-free for two years was stripped from the federal Build Back Better bill, the push for free college is alive and well in many parts of the country. While the White House has turned its focus to extending the student loan payment pause, states have been quietly moving forward with plans to pass legislation of their own to make some college tuition-free. Most recently, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, signed the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship Act, establishing the most extensive tuition-free scholarship program in the country. Like New York's Excelsior Scholarship, it covers four years of tuition, including career training certificates, associate and bachelor's degrees. But New Mexico's Opportunity Scholarship goes a step further by opening up access to returning adult learners, part-time students and immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, in addition to recent high school graduates. Maine's Gov. Janet Mills ... has proposed a plan to make two years of community college free for recent high school graduates. If passed, that would bring the total number of statewide free-college programs to 30, which means 60% of states would have free tuition opportunities. "If we get to 50, it's mission accomplished," said Morley Winograd ... of the Campaign for Free College Tuition. Most are "last-dollar" scholarships, meaning students receive a scholarship for the amount of tuition that is not covered by existing state or federal aid.
Beneath our feet is an ecosystem so astonishing that it tests the limits of our imagination. It's as diverse as a rainforest or a coral reef. We depend on it for 99% of our food, yet we scarcely know it. Soil. Under one square metre of undisturbed ground in the Earth's mid-latitudes ... there might live several hundred thousand small animals. One gram of this soil – less than a teaspoonful – contains around a kilometre of fungal filaments. But even more arresting than soil's diversity and abundance is the question of what it actually is. Most people see it as a dull mass of ground-up rock and dead plants. But it turns out to be a biological structure, built by living creatures to secure their survival, like a wasps' nest or a beaver dam. Microbes make cements out of carbon, with which they stick mineral particles together, creating pores and passages through which water, oxygen and nutrients pass. The tiny clumps they build become the blocks the animals in the soil use to construct bigger labyrinths. Plants release into the soil between 11% and 40% of all the sugars they make through photosynthesis. They don't leak them accidentally. They deliberately pump them into the ground. These complex chemicals are pumped into the zone immediately surrounding the plant's roots, which is called the rhizosphere. They are released to create and manage its relationships. The rhizosphere lies outside the plant, but it functions as if it were part of the whole. It could be seen as the plant's external gut.
Clean energy powered 100 per cent of California's electricity demand on Saturday – a first for the state, according to an environmental group. Much of the renewable power came from vast solar farms, south of Los Angeles. The milestone, set on 30 April, was celebrated by environmental groups. "California busts past 100% on this historic day for clean energy!" tweeted Dan Jacobson, co-founder of the activist thinktank EcoEquity. Daniel M Kammen, a professor of energy at UC Berkeley, also wrote: "California achieved 100% renewable energy today. Very clear we can achieve clean energy everyday before 2030 if we cut the fossil fuel subsidies and political inertia." According to the tracker app from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which oversees the state's power grid, energy demand reached 18,672 megawatts(MW) mid-afternoon on Saturday, with 37,172 MW available. The record was held for nearly 15 minutes, then dropped to 97 per cent of clean energy output. Solar power makes up the majority of California's renewables followed by wind energy then to a lesser extent, geothermal, biomass, biogas and small hydro. The state of California, the world's fifth largest economy, produces more renewable energy than any other US state, helped along by its near year-round sunshine. Governor Gavin Newsom's budget proposal for next year includes around $2bn to boost the transition to 100 per cent electricity. California has set a goal of achieving 100 per cent clean electricity by 2045.
Amid a crush of heavy news from around the world, who couldn't use some sage advice right now? Call a new hotline, and you'll get just that – encouraging words from a resilient group of kindergartners. Kids' voices will prompt you with a menu of options: If you're feeling mad, frustrated or nervous, press 1. If you need words of encouragement and life advice, press 2. If you need a pep talk from kindergartners, press 3. If you need to hear kids laughing with delight, press 4. For encouragement in Spanish, press 5. Pressing 3 leads to a chorus of kids sounding off a series of uplifting mantras: "Be grateful for yourself," offers one student. "If you're feeling up high and unbalanced, think of groundhogs," another chimes in. Peptoc, as the free hotline is called, is a project from the students of West Side Elementary, a small school in the town of Healdsburg, Calif. It was put together with the help of teachers Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss. Martin, who teaches the arts program at the school, says she was inspired by her students' positive attitudes, despite all they've been through – the pandemic, wildfires in the region and just the everyday challenges of being a kid. "I thought, you know, with this world being as it is, we all really needed to hear from them – their extraordinary advice and their continual joy," she said. Martin says she hopes the hotline will give callers a little respite from whatever it is they're going through, which – judging from the thousands of calls the hotline gets each day – is quite a lot. So the next time you need a little boost, dial Peptoc at 707-998-8410.
It's a common misconception that most hearing-impaired people can easily read lips. But while many are indeed practiced lip readers, only 30 to 40 percent of English can be understood through watching the mouth. Much of spoken English occurs without lip movement. This leaves many hearing-impaired people at a loss when communicating with the hearing. Now, a company is hoping to help the hearing-impaired in a more seamless way. The Live-Time Closed Captioning System (LTCCS) instantly turns speech into scrolling text displaying on a tiny screen clipped to a pair of glasses. LTCCS's founders say it "restores the user's ability to engage in a naturally flowing conversation." LTCCS creator Daniil Frants was inspired to design the device when his guitar teacher asked him if he thought Google Glass might be able to somehow help him communicate with his hearing-impaired father. "I started messing around with Google Glass, seeing if it could do some closed captioning function," he says. "But after six months it became obvious that there was no way to do that effectively using Glass." So Frants decided to do it himself. He created a system built from existing or modified parts–a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, a voice recognition system and a display. The user wears a microphone, which is connected to the microcomputer. The microcomputer picks up sounds and translates them to text using the voice recognition software, then sends them up to the display in a pair of glasses.
Note: Two other versions of glasses allowing voice to text for the deaf can be found on this webpage and this one. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Between vast almond orchards and dairy pastures in the heart of California's farm country sits a property being redesigned to look like it did 150 years ago, before levees restricted the flow of rivers that weave across the landscape. The 2,100 acres (1,100 hectares) at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers in the state's Central Valley are being reverted to a floodplain. That means when heavy rains cause the rivers to go over their banks, water will run onto the land, allowing traditional ecosystems to flourish and lowering flood risk downstream. The Dos Rios Ranch Preserve is California's largest single floodplain restoration project, part of the nation's broadest effort to rethink how rivers flow as climate change alters the environment. The land it covers used to be a farm, but the owners sold it to the nonprofit River Partners to use for restoring wildlife habitat. The state wants to fund and prioritize similar projects that lower risks to homes and property while providing other benefits, like boosting habitats, improving water quality and potentially recharging depleted groundwater supplies. By notching or removing levees, swelling rivers can flow onto land that no longer needs to be kept dry. For projects like Dos Rios, land that farmers no longer want to manage is being turned into space where rivers can breathe. Farther north, barriers on the Feather River have been altered to allow more water to flow into an existing wildlife area.
Kindness is great to give, and especially nice to receive. But isn't something you can see, or touch. So how can science research it? There is a way, and it's concerned with how our brains are behaving when we're doing a good deed for someone else - behaviour that can be recorded and analysed. Have you ever done a selfless act for someone and felt great about it afterwards? That's because part of ... something called the reward pathway. Dr Dan Campbell-Meiklejohn, a senior psychology lecturer ... described that reaction as: "At the moment when you help someone, you donate to charity, etc, the processes that happen in your brain are quite similar to other positive experiences. It activates the reward processing areas of the brain." The brain rewards us for being kind - in the nucleus accumbens - but there is another part where we can learn to be good to others. In 2016, [Dr Patricia Lockwood] led a study at University of Oxford that uncovered a part of the brain which lights up when we help others, compared to when we help ourselves. In the experiment, volunteers made use of a series of symbols. One symbol rewarded them, while another only benefited others. The part of the brain that activated when people deliberately chose to help others is called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex. When the study was published, it became known as the 'generosity centre'. Dr Lockwood said: "Put another way, the subgenual anterior cingulate seems to be especially tuned to benefiting other people."
Kindness might once have been considered something of a soft topic, but it has begun to be taken seriously within academic research. When developmental psychologist Robin Banerjee ... surveyed past research, he found just 35 papers on kindness in psychology journals in the whole of the 1980s. In the past decade, there were more than 1,000. But there is still plenty to discover. One morning, people walking down a street in the Canadian city of Vancouver were asked to take part in an experiment. They were given an envelope containing either a $5 or $20 note. Half the people were instructed to spend the money on themselves. The other half were instructed to use the money to buy a present for someone else or to donate the money to charity. Whether they had $5 or $20 made no difference. The people who had spent it on someone else felt significantly happier than those who treated themselves. This is just one of many studies which has found that acting kindly can improve your wellbeing. In a meta-analysis, Oliver Scott Curry ... found that behaving kindly can have a small to medium effect on our wellbeing. On the BBC radio programme The Kindness Test ... neuroscientist Dan Campbell-Meiklejohn told me that this can seem counterintuitive. "Kindness can cost us, yet we experience a sense of reward in parts of our brain when we are kind to others, just as we do when eat yummy food or have a pleasant surprise. These parts of the brain become active and motivate us to do them again and again."
MIT researchers have developed a portable desalination unit, weighing less than 10 kilograms, that can remove particles and salts to generate drinking water. The suitcase-sized device, which requires less power to operate than a cell phone charger, can also be driven by a small, portable solar panel, which can be purchased online for around $50. It automatically generates drinking water that exceeds World Health Organization quality standards. The technology is packaged into a user-friendly device that runs with the push of one button. Unlike other portable desalination units that require water to pass through filters, this device utilizes electrical power to remove particles from drinking water. Eliminating the need for replacement filters greatly reduces the long-term maintenance requirements. This could enable the unit to be deployed in remote and severely resource-limited areas, such as communities on small islands or aboard seafaring cargo ships. It could also be used to aid refugees fleeing natural disasters or by soldiers carrying out long-term military operations. "This is really the culmination of a 10-year journey that I and my group have been on. We worked for years on the physics behind individual desalination processes, but pushing all those advances into a box, building a system, and demonstrating it in the ocean, that was a really meaningful and rewarding experience for me," says senior author Jongyoon Han, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of biological engineering.
Kenton Lee was working at an orphanage in Kenya when he noticed a little girl with the ends of her shoes cut off and her toes sticking out. It was then that he came up with the idea for The Shoe That Grows. "For years the idea of these growing shoes wouldn't leave my mind," he told BuzzFeed News. Lee and his team at first tried to give the idea to companies like Nike, Crocs, and Toms, to no avail. Eventually they found a "shoe development company" called Proof of Concept who agreed to help them with the design. The shoe is made out of a high quality soft leather on top, and extremely durable rubber soles similar material to a tire, Lee said. They expand through a simple system of buckles, snaps, and pegs. The shoes are predicted to last a minimum of five years, and expand five sizes in that time. The small size will fit preschoolers through fifth graders, while the large will fit fifth through ninth graders. "I had no idea how important shoes were before I went to Kenya," Lee said. "But kids, especially in urban areas, can get infections from cuts and scrapes on their feet from going barefoot, and contract diseases that cause them to miss school." The 30-year-old ... said he wanted to put these kids in the best possible position to succeed in their lives. "If I can provide a kid with protection so they stay healthy and keep going to school, I'll have done my part." Donors can either buy shoes to distribute themselves, or buy a pair of shoes and choose one of five American nonprofit organizations to distribute them.
We've all heard stories about extraordinary climbers. These are people who defy the stakes in an attempt to beat the odds every time they summit a mountain that others have only seen in photos. Whereas the average hiker has seen upwards of only 10,000 feet, extreme athletes and professional alpinists have explored the summits of mountains towering well over 18,000 feet. For some, the ultimate summit sits at a harrowing height of 29,032 feet. It's unimaginable: A temperature so cold that few living organisms can survive its inhospitable conditions. A lack of oxygen at its highest peak, where not even a helicopter can reach those who might be stranded. Despite all of those dangers, one woman holds the world record for surviving this not once, but nine times. That remarkable woman is Lhakpa Sherpa, a Nepali native born in the small Himalayan village of Balakharka who is about to reset her own record this year. Lhakpa Sherpa currently holds the Guinness World Record for the female climber with the most successful ascents of Everest to date. This is a record that she has held consistently for more than two decades now. Lhakpa is one of 11 children, five of whom have summited Everest. It was here that her love began, and it would become a lifelong affair with the mountains that she grew up admiring every single day. As an adult, Lhakpa is a single parent of three children, with whom she also shares her love for mountain climbing and hiking.
In Rambouillet, a small French town around 30 miles (50km) south-west of Paris, a soft blue light emanated from a row of cylindrical tubes. Members of the public ... were invited to bathe in the glow for a few minutes. Soon, the same azure glow will illuminate the nearby, tree-lined Place AndrĂ© ThomĂ© et Jacqueline ThomĂ©-PatenĂ´tre, located just across from the aptly named La Lanterne performance hall, at night. These ethereal experiments are also underway across France. But unlike standard streetlamps, which often emit a harsh glare and need to be hooked up to the electricity grid, these otherworldly lights are powered by living organisms through a process known as bioluminescence. This phenomenon – where chemical reactions inside an organism's body produce light – can be observed in many places in nature. Organisms as diverse as fireflies, fungi and fish have the ability to glow through bioluminescence. The turquoise blue glow bathing the waiting room in Rambouillet ... comes from a marine bacterium gathered off the coast of France called Aliivibrio fischeri. The bacteria are stored inside saltwater-filled tubes, allowing them to circulate in a kind of luminous aquarium. Since the light is generated through internal biochemical processes that are part of the organism's normal metabolism, running it requires almost no energy. "Our goal is to change the way in which cities use light," says Sandra Rey, founder of the French start-up Glowee, which is behind the project in Rambouillet.