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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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 extend 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."