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.
Ireland will become the first country in the world to fully divest from fossil fuels after politicians voted to withdraw all public funds from oil and gas companies. In an effort to meet the country's climate change commitments, as embodied in the Paris agreement, the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill will probably be brought into force after parliament's summer recess. First introduced by independent MP Thomas Pringle in 2016, the bill has since been backed by all opposition parties. Taking inspiration from universities and cities around the world that have withdrawn financial support from the fossil fuel industry, Mr Pringle began working on the idea after meeting Irish international development charity Trocaire. The passing of the bill will compel the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to sell off its fossil fuel investments, which stand at more than €300m (Ł265m) across 150 companies worldwide. Mr Pringle said the withdrawal of this money will not only remove funds from some of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, it will act as a gesture of Ireland’s commitment to tackling climate change. Eamonn Meehan, executive director of Trocaire, agreed that the bill made a “powerful statement” that would serve to improve the nation’s reputation as a “climate laggard”.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
While many people wring their hands over the amount of plastic waste, Miranda Wang aims to reduce the mess. Ms. Wang, 24, is a co-founder and chief executive of BioCellection, a start-up that is tackling hard-to-recycle plastic packaging, focusing initially on plastic-film waste. Using a novel reaction system that employs a liquid chemical catalyst, BioCellection turns unrecyclable, contaminated film waste into chemicals that can be used by consumers and industry. Later this year, BioCellection will start a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area to build its first commercial machine, which can process five metric tons of waste a day. Many borrowers with poor credit scores ... can’t qualify for an affordable small loan. Jeff Zhou is offering an answer, in the form of Fig Loans. The lender’s goal is to offer an alternative to pricey payday loans that strapped consumers turn to when they have an unexpected financial emergency and have no other option. “We want to offer socially responsible financial products for people who are under banked,” he said. Customers can apply online for a loan from Fig, which makes lending decisions based on bank statements, taking into account expenses like rent, utilities and spending, Mr. Zhou said. Loans are $300 to $500 and, depending on the state, are repaid in four or six equal monthly installments — unlike payday loans, which typically must be repaid in two weeks.
Note: Read about more inventive solutions to common problems at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A record-breaking fundraiser started by Dave and Charlotte Willner to help families separated at the border continues exceeding all expectations. While President Trump signed an executive order to halt his policy of breaking up families, the Willners said some of the $16 million raised will help a nonprofit to return children to their families. The additional money raised by the Willners will help Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) provide lawyers to immigrants as well as reunite families. The Willners said RAICES has unified three families already. The fundraiser first started after the Willners saw the photo of a 2-year-old Honduran girl crying at the border and they thought immediately of their own 2-year-old daughter. They felt they had to act so they started a fundraiser on Facebook, hoping to raise $1,500 for RAICES. It soon became clear this was no ordinary fundraiser. At one point, people were donating between $2,000 and $4,000 a minute, the family shared. The average donation is $38. As the fundraiser neared $5 million dollars, Facebook updated its platform so that the family could continue raising money. The Willners were among Facebook's first employees, and now both work at different tech companies in Silicon Valley. They raised more than $16 million in five days for the RAICES, and the Willners reset their goal to $20 million.
Note: The donations continue to pour in and now exceed $20 million. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
One single-use plastic bag takes at least 450 years to degrade. Give Miranda Wang three hours and she can reduce ten of them into liquid. Recycling plastic today is a mechanical process ... limited to only certain types of plastics: PET, used in water bottles, and HDPE, used in milk jugs. The five other types of commonly used plastics ... cannot be recycled. Adding to this is that most plastics thrown away are covered in food and grease and so are automatically rejected by markets with strict quality standards. These are the plastics Wang has her sights on. “Our technology can turn these dirty films that have food or dirt or any kind of grime or any kind of contamination on it and we turn this material into a combination of four different kinds of chemicals, called organic acids,” says Wang. One of these chemicals is adipic acid, a precursor for materials like nylon and polyamines used in fashion, for electronic parts and in the automotive industry for car parts. “Our vision is to transform a polyethylene, which right now does not have any downstream market value once its consumed and is used for one life cycle, and we turn it into a chemical that is of the same quality as what is immediately made from petroleum - adipic acid,” says Wang. “This first helps us not allow film plastics from becoming pollution and second ... displaces petroleum from being needed to be extracted to make new materials.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Google has more clean power than it needs. The Alphabet Inc. unit used about 7 terawatt-hours of electricity to run all of its global operations last year, and it sourced even more than that, according to Neha Palmer, its head of energy strategy. Corporate buyers are major purchasers of wind and solar power. While part of the motivation is to advance sustainability goals, they’re also finding that clean energy is often the cheapest electricity available. Big technology companies have been leading this trend, and Google has been the biggest of them all. “Our electric consumption is the largest part of our carbon footprint,” Palmer said in a phone interview. “The renewable-energy program we have is the best way to mitigate our carbon impact.” Companies signed long-term agreements for a record 5.4 gigawatts of clean capacity globally last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, up from 4.3 gigawatts in 2016. That’s enough to displace at least 10 coal-fired power plants. Google signed its first clean power-purchase agreement in 2010, and since then it’s arranged about 25 more, prompting more than $3 billion in new clean-power plants. Google has agreed to buy ... more than double that of Amazon.com Inc., the next biggest green consumer. “It’s a significant investment, leading to lots of new renewables projects,” Kyle Harrison, a New York-based analyst ... said. “It’s a long-term bet on clean energy, a hedge against wholesale prices.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In southeast Georgia, in an area filled with farms, construction will soon begin on a sprawling new 120-megawatt solar plant. It will be the first solar facility in the county, and it will exist in part because Google - which has a large data center in Georgia - is working to bring renewable electricity to every region in which it operates. The solar farm is one of two new projects in Georgia that will sell energy to Google via the local utility, and is also the latest example of the company’s work to open energy markets to corporations that want to support new sources of renewable electricity. The company pioneered the practice in 2010; now, companies from Nike to Starbucks and AT&T are doing the same thing. Traditionally, wind farms and solar farms sold wholesale power only to utilities, and regulations made it impossible for companies to buy that clean energy. But the company realized that it could apply to the federal government for the right to buy and sell wholesale power itself, and then create long-term contracts - called power purchase agreements - with the developers of renewable projects. The first project was a wind farm in Iowa. By 2017, with around 20 similar projects, Google met a longstanding goal to buy as much renewable energy as it uses globally, sourced from new wind and solar plants. Ultimately, the company wants to use clean energy everywhere it works, all the time. The next step in that process is to buy renewable energy on every local grid where Google works.
Over the past three years, nine communities in the United States have reached a rigorous standard known as “functional zero” for either veteran or chronic homelessness - a standard that indicates that homelessness is rare and much briefer than in the past for their populations - and 37 others have accomplished measurable reductions toward that goal. What’s illuminating is how they’re doing it: by making whole systems smarter. They are linking in a national network ... to improve their performance. Rockford, Ill., was the first community in the United States to reach the functional zero level for veterans. “We get everybody in our community who works on the issue ... and we bring them into a room,” [said Jennifer Jaeger, the city’s community services director]. “So if we’re working on veterans, we’ll have the V.A., the local veteran agencies, mental health agencies and substance abuse agencies. We’ll sit down with the list and say: ‘O.K., John Smith is No. 1. Who’s working with him? How do we get him housed as fast as we can?’ And we go literally name by name. It makes a huge difference because they stop being ‘the homeless’ and become people we all know. And we become very vested in making sure John Smith is housed and safe and has the services he needs.” Successes get turned into mini case studies and are logged in Built for Zero’s menu of strategies. So if a community partner wants to know how to do effective street outreach or improve housing retention ... there’s an inventory of proven ideas to draw from.
Charitable giving surged to a record high in 2017 as Americans gave more than $400 billion for the first time ever to a wide variety of organizations. Giving jumped 5.2% from last year to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, according to Giving USA 2018, the Giving USA Foundation’s annual report on philanthropy. The report, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, found that giving from all sources grew in 2017. Three of the four sources posted gains of more than 5%: Giving by corporations increased 8%, foundations 6% and individuals 5%. "The increase in giving in 2017 was generated in part by increases in the stock markets, as evidenced by the nearly 20% growth in the S&P 500," said Amir Pasic, dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Gifts to foundations saw the biggest increase in 2017, rising 15.5%, as large investment returns were the basis for several large gifts given by individual philanthropists to their foundations. The second-largest increase was an 8.7% jump in gifts to the arts, culture and humanities. Religious organizations, however, continue to receive the most charitable support, with contributions rising 2.9% to $127.37 billion. While the overall amount of giving by Americans has risen ... The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that from 2000 to 2014, the share of Americans donating to charity fell from 66.2% to 55.5%. Many nonprofits have turned their focus to attracting more big gifts.
Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language and showed the world what great apes can do, has died. She died Tuesday in her sleep at age 46. "Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy," the [The Gorilla Foundation] said. The western lowland gorilla was born at the San Francisco Zoo in 1971 and began to learn sign language early in life. Researchers moved her to Stanford in 1974 and established The Gorilla Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to preserve and protect gorillas. Koko and The Gorilla Foundation later moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains. She liked to read and be read to. She purred at parts of books she particularly enjoyed. She was very maternal toward kittens, and has had several throughout her lifetime. Her "tenderness" showed people how loving a gorilla can be, the foundation said. Koko made famous friends like Fred Rogers, who appeared on TV as Mr. Rogers, and Robin Williams. She used her sign language skills to communicate with them. She was said to have understood some 2,000 words of spoken English, and could usually keep up with conversations. Koko appeared in several documentaries and twice on the cover of National Geographic. The first cover featured a photo she'd taken of herself in a mirror. The foundation will continue its work on conservation and preservation of gorillas with continued projects, including a sign language application featuring Koko.
Note: Don't miss touching video of Koko the gorilla available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
If you follow the news regularly - even if the stories you see are factual - you’re likely to overestimate the amount of violence in the world, underrate the performance of the government, and develop an unduly low opinion of the average American. For every problem you see reported in the news, there are almost always people responding - and some are doing pretty smart things. One encouraging pattern visible across the country is a gradual shift from reflexive punishment, which is usually counterproductive ... to harm reduction and treatment. This theme is explored in “Chasing Heroin,” a two-hour PBS Frontline documentary ... which illuminates the country’s heroin crisis. The film explains the public policies that shaped the crisis and reports on some alternatives to punishment, including drug courts, and a promising initiative in Seattle, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, which ... has been shown to markedly reduce criminality among addicts. The shift away from punishment can also be seen in schools, as they reduce the use of suspensions as the go-to discipline option, and turn to “restorative justice” practices, which have been shown to improve school cultures and improve graduation rates. The shift from punishment to treatment is supported by emerging insights from psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics. “The Crisis Within,” a four-part series ... explain how such “toxic stress” harms children, and explore ways that parents, educators and others can protect them.
Strange thing happens when you write about something going right. People take notice. They read to the end. They share it with their friends. They write to thank you. Eighteen months ago, the Guardian launched a pilot project to see how readers would respond if we deliberately sought out the good things happening in the world. More than 150 pieces of journalism later – in which we have examined the relative merits of everything from dog turds to ketamine, the blockchain to microhouses, and gardening to exoskeletons – we have proof of concept. Reader numbers for this kind of journalism have proven remarkably robust throughout the project. While audiences have always been riveted by bad news (it serves as both an early warning system and a reassurance about the comfort of their own lives), they are tired of the avalanche of awfulness. They are switching off. If people just shrug at news because they feel there is little they can do, nothing will change. Journalists in the US, Europe and the UK are waking up to this by publishing what is variously described as constructive journalism, solutions journalism or, somewhat misleadingly, positive news. Now the Guardian is deepening its commitment to this type of work. Our new series, The Upside, launched this week with [a] determination to show readers all of humanity, not just the bad bits. As our editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, promised in a speech ... recently, “we will develop ideas that help improve the world, not just critique it.”
Salesforce may not be a household name like Facebook or Twitter, but the software company and its chief executive, Marc Benioff, are hugely influential. Salesforce is worth roughly $100 billion, and Mr. Benioff is a billionaire many times over. Success has emboldened him. A fan of Buddhism, Mr. Benioff has installed meditation rooms throughout Salesforce offices and emerged as an outspoken voice on social issues including L.G.B.T.Q. rights, the gender pay gap and the deleterious effects of social media. "There’s a shift going on," [said Benioff]. "When I went to U.S.C., it was all about maximizing value for shareholders. But we’re moving into a world of stakeholders. It’s not just about shareholders. Your employees are stakeholders, so are your customers, your partners, the communities that you’re in, the homeless that are nearby, your public schools. A company like ours can’t be successful in an unsuccessful economy or in an unsuccessful environment or where the school system doesn’t work. We have to take responsibility for all of those things." This idea that somebody put into our heads — that companies are somehow these kind of individuated units that are separate from society and don’t have to be paying attention to the communities they’re in — that is incorrect. We need to have a more enlightened view about the role of companies. This company is not somehow separate from everything else. Are we not all connected? Are we not all one? Isn’t that the point?"
Coca-Cola said in January that by 2030, it will collect and recycle one bottle or can for each one it sells. Dunkin' Donuts said it will try to stop using foam cups by 2020. Several others, including McDonald's and Procter & Gamble, have made their own ambitious commitments to use sustainable packaging. Recycling can give companies better control over their supply chains, explained Bridget Croke, who leads external affairs for Closed Loop Partners, which invests in recycling technologies. Recycled materials aren't always cheaper than raw materials, she said, but their prices are consistent. There are other advantages to going green. Kevin Wilhelm, who runs a sustainability consulting firm, said that companies typically make recycling pledges because they've found that waste hurts their bottom line. The Closed Loop Fund and the Recycling Partnership, [a nonprofit group], count several major corporations as their funding partners, including Amazon, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Target, Walmart (WMT) and others. Croke said that at this stage, companies are better served by joining forces than by trying to work separately. "Smart companies," she said, are trying to figure out, "'What are the disruptive collective actions we can take to make the most out of our resources?'" Working together, companies can pour significant funds into development projects and create collective demand for sustainable products, like recyclable, compostable paper cups.
McDonald's has joined the fight against plastic pollution by switching to paper straws at its restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The change, which will begin to take effect in September, follows trials of paper straws at select locations. The US fast food chain said a majority of its customers supported the move away from plastic. McDonald's ... uses 1.8 million straws each day at its 1,361 restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The company said the changeover would be complete in 2019. Plastic straws are the sixth most common type of litter globally. Only 1% are recycled. According to the UK government, 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die every year from eating or getting tangled in plastic waste. And research shows there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world's oceans by 2050. UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove called on other companies to follow the example of McDonald's. "McDonald's has made a significant investment in UK manufacturing to produce an alternative to plastic, showing British businesses are taking a global lead," he said in a statement. The flurry of commitments comes as efforts to eliminate single-use plastic intensify. The European Union moved last month to ban 10 items - including plastic cutlery, straws and cotton swabs - by 2030 in a bid to clean up the oceans.
Tao Porchon-Lynch is 99 years old, and she’s still practices – and teaches! – yoga regularly. So what’s her secret to staying happy and active? “Every morning I wake up and say this is going to be the best day of my life – and it is,” Porchon-Lynch tells Well and Good. “My life is my meditation.” Porchon-Lynch abides by three simple tips to stay upbeat. The first is to not get fixated on bad things that may or may not happen. “Your mind gets in the way. It plagues you with all of the things that can go wrong,” she says. “I don’t let it get in my way.” Secondly, she says to stop judging others. “Don’t look down on anyone,” she says. “Know that you can learn from everyone.” Finally, Porchon-Lynch says to begin each day feeling happy. “Wake up with a smile on your face!” Porchon-Lynch has been practicing yoga for over 70 years, and has been teaching it for 45. She encourages people of all ages to try yoga, and says it’s never too late to start. “Don’t give up and think, ‘I’ve done it. Now I can sit back,’ ” she [said]. “You haven’t seen enough of this earth and there is a lot more to see that is beautiful.“
Note: For more on this amazing woman, see this Newsweek article.
Would it sound weird if we told you that Shell (yes, the petrochemical company) is building a starship? Probably. It would probably be less weird if we said that the Starship was actually a hyper-efficient bespoke semi truck that just did a coast-to-coast run from San Diego, California, to Jacksonville, Florida. To build the Starship, Shell teamed up with the AirFlow truck company to ruthlessly apply all of the best aerodynamic tricks and materials science hacks to the design of the truck in search of something more important to big trucks than simple miles-per-gallon: ton-miles per gallon. A truck's ton-miles per gallon figure compares the vehicle's fuel efficiency with the amount of cargo being carried since that dramatically affects how hard a diesel engine has to work. A typical long-haul diesel truck will weigh around 57,000 pounds, including a cargo load of 22,500 pounds. The Starship gross vehicle weight was right around 73,000 pounds, 39,900 pounds of which was cargo, despite that, the Starship averaged 8.94 miles per gallon versus a typical truck's average of 6.4 miles per gallon. The Starship's best mileage was just over 10 miles per gallon. Over the course of a million miles, the Starship would save over 44,000 gallons of diesel fuel versus a standard truck. That's a little more than 4,000 barrels of oil or 168,000 gallons of crude saved by one truck.
Ali Banat, an Australian based charity worker, social activist, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and founder of the MATW (Muslims Around The World) Project passed away on Tuesday, May 30, 2018. His story resonated with the millions of people who came to know of him after his ‘Gifted With Cancer’ video went viral. His diagnosis of fourth stage Testicular cancer ... completely changed his life, and he decided to donate all his wealth in charity to Muslims Around the World. As he showed off, in the viral video, his huge bedroom lined with Louis Vuitton shoes ... along with a bracelet that cost him $60,000, with one of his cars which included a Ferrari Spider worth $600,000, one could see that ever since he got sick, none of it meant anything to him. Banat was told by the doctors that he had seven months to live, but instead, he lived for another blessed three years. In all this time, he was only dedicated to doing good as he donated his wealth and money to thousands of people across a number of countries including Togo, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. To make sure that his organisation, MATW, was run in good hands, Ali visited ... to see that 100% of the donations would go into the project and not be divided with administrative fees. With the money collected, MATW aimed at building villages for over 200 widows, a mosque, a school that would house 600 orphans, a mini-hospital/medical centre, as well as businesses to support the local community.
Note: Watch a moving interview at the link above showing how his life was totally changed in a positive way by cancer. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Josefina Monasterio, 71, is glad she didn't think about her age when she took up bodybuilding at age 59. "I would have missed out on the past 12 years of fun and success,” said the former educator, competitive athlete and author, who recently returned from the NPC Southern States Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “I took second place this year, and I´m not used to that. I'm used to winning!” said Monasterio, whose enthusiasm is contagious. Dr. Josefina, as she likes to be called, was inducted in the NPC Southern States Hall of Fame in 2005 and then [won] for three years in a row starting in 2014. The Vero Beach, Florida resident recently published a book, Vibrant at Any Age, based on her lifelong journey of self-improvement. She hopes to inspire people to achieve their goals just as she has. “I reinvent myself every ten years, and so I started my 60s as a bodybuilder and now I begin my 70s as a writer,” she said. “I don´t impose limitations on myself. People limit themselves by age, nationality, gender, it's very frustrating. Age is a mindset.” Dr. Josefina´s war on ageism has rubbed off on her two daughters, both in their early thirties. “They both take care of their bodies and minds. They´re very proud of me now and brag about me. If you give them a good foundation as a parent, know that they will always come back to their roots.”
Google will not seek to extend its contract next year with the Defense Department for artificial intelligence used to analyze drone video, squashing a controversial alliance that had raised alarms over the technological buildup between Silicon Valley and the military. Google ... has faced widespread public backlash and employee resignations for helping develop technological tools that could aid in warfighting. Google will soon release new company principles related to the ethical uses of AI. Thousands of Google employees wrote chief executive Sundar Pichai an open letter urging the company to cancel the contract, and many others signed a petition saying the company’s assistance in developing combat-zone technology directly countered the company’s famous “Don’t be evil” motto. Several Google AI employees had told The Post they believed they wielded a powerful influence over the company’s decision-making. The advanced technology’s top researchers and developers are in heavy demand, and many had organized resistance campaigns or threatened to leave. The sudden announcement Friday was welcomed by several high-profile employees. Meredith Whittaker, an AI researcher and the founder of Google’s Open Research group, tweeted Friday: “I am incredibly happy about this decision, and have a deep respect for the many people who worked and risked to make it happen. Google should not be in the business of war.”
Michael Tubbs, the 27-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, has a radical plan to combat poverty in his cash-strapped city: a "no strings" guaranteed basic income of $500 a month for its residents. Starting in early 2019, Tubbs plans to provide the monthly stipend to a select group of residents as part of a privately funded 18-month experiment to assess how people use the money. "And then, maybe, in two or three years, we can have a much more informed discussion about the social safety net, the income floor people deserve and the best way to do it, because we'll have more data and research," Tubbs told Reuters. The idea of governments providing a universal basic income to their citizens has been gaining traction globally. The Finnish government is running a two-year trial to provide 2,000 unemployed people with monthly payments of approximately $660. In Alaska, each resident has long received an annual dividend check from oil revenues from the Alaska Permanent Fund, which Tubbs said is a model for his approach. For 31-year-old Shay Holliman ... an extra $500 a month would just allow her to make ends meet. She ... works a 9-5 job at a local nonprofit then drives for Uber and Lyft in the evenings and at weekends. "I still can't pay all my bills," she said. Tubbs says he "felt almost a moral responsibility" to do something "a little bit out the box" for his city. "And I know, for me, I want to live in a community where people's basic needs are met," he said.