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