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.
Natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes can level entire towns, and for the search and rescue teams trying to find survivors, it's a painstaking task. But an unlikely savior is being trained up to help out: rats. The project, conceived of by Belgian non-profit APOPO, is kitting out rodents with tiny, high-tech backpacks to help first responders search for survivors among rubble in disaster zones. "Rats are typically quite curious and like to explore – and that is key for search and rescue," says Donna Kean, a behavioral research scientist and leader of the project. In addition to their adventurous spirit, their small size and excellent sense of smell make rats perfect for locating things in tight spaces, says Kean. The rats are currently being trained to find survivors in a simulated disaster zone. They must first locate the target person in an empty room, pull a switch on their vest that triggers a beeper, and then return to base, where they are rewarded with a treat. While the rodents are still in the early stages of training, APOPO is collaborating with the Eindhoven University of Technology to develop a backpack, which is equipped with a video camera, two-way microphone, and location transmitter to help first responders communicate with survivors. APOPO has been training dogs and rats at its base in Tanzania in the scent detection of landmines and tuberculosis for over a decade. Its programs use African Giant Pouched Rats, which have a longer lifespan in captivity of around eight years.
Note: Don't miss the images of these adorable and heroic rats at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Some of the women are wearing papier-mache headdresses shaped like long-necked birds. As they sing, one of them gets to her feet and starts dancing. They are part of the "hargila army", a group of rural women in the Indian state of Assam who work to protect one of the world's rarest storks: the greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) – or hargila (meaning "bone swallower" in Assamese) as the scavenger bird is known locally. They are celebrating the recent UN Environment Programme's Champions of the Earth award, conferred on the group's biologist founder, Dr Purnima Devi Barman. Barman won the award for her achievement in mobilising more than 10,000 women to help save the stork. "They are the protectors of the birds and of their nesting trees," says Barman. The birds were not just reviled, they were seen as a bad omen and carriers of disease. Villagers attacked them with stones, cut down trees where they roosted communally and burned their nests. Today the greater adjutant is endangered, with fewer than 1,200 adult birds in its last strongholds. Most of the global population is found in Assam, making Barman and the hargila army's work critical to its survival. Today, the once-maligned bird is now a cultural symbol, appearing on everything from towels to road-safety campaigns. In the villages of Dadara, Pacharia and Singimari (all in Kamrup district), greater adjutants' nests have increased from 28 in 2010 to more than 250 according to Barman's last count, making the area the world's largest breeding colony.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Minecraft has established itself as a cultural phenomenon for many reasons: it's creative, collaborative, and sufficiently facile as to be considered accessible to almost anybody. These benefits ... form the perfect vehicle for Reporters Without Borders' Uncensored Library, a virtual hub housing a collection of otherwise inaccessible journalism from all over the world, with specific sections devoted to Russia, Egypt, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. "In Egypt there's no free information," Reporters Without Borders media and public relations officer Kristin BĂ¤sse tells me. Mexico is the country where journalists are most at risk, she adds, with governmental and cartel interference often culminating in the death of those voices deemed dissident. "It's a different form of censorship," BĂ¤sse explains. "People don't want to publish because they're scared." "In the Mexico room we built memorials to 12 Mexican journalists who have been murdered," [said Blockworks managing director James] Delaney. Delaney tells me that the forms of censorship in Egypt are more blatant. "The articles you see in this room are actually banned," he explains. "If you live in Egypt you're unable to access them unless you come to our Minecraft server." This is the case for the Russian, Vietnamese, and Saudi Arabian sections, too. "The content you find in these rooms is illegal, but we can see from the server logins that we've already had people from all five of these countries join and read up on this information," he says.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Those debating the future of Twitter and other social-media platforms have largely fallen into two opposing camps. One supports individuals' absolute freedom of speech; the other holds that speech must be modulated through content moderation, and by tweaking the ways in which information spreads. Both sides are peddling an equally dismal vision. My purpose here is to point out a logical third option. In this approach, a platform would require users to form groups through free association, and then to post only through those groups. This simple, powerful notion could help us escape the dilemma of supporting online speech. Platforms like Facebook and Reddit have similar structures–groups and subreddits–but those are for people who share notifications and invitations to view and post in certain places. The groups I'm talking about, sometimes called "mediators of individual data" or "data trusts," are different: Members would share both good and bad consequences with one another, just like a group shares the benefits and responsibilities of a loan in microlending. This mechanism has emerged naturally ... on the software-development platform GitHub. Whatever its size, each group will be self-governing. Some will have a process in place for reviewing items before they are posted. Others will let members post as they see fit. It will be a repeat of the old story of people building societal institutions and dealing with unavoidable trade-offs, but people will be doing this on their own terms.
Note: This was written by Jaron Lanier, who is widely considered to be the "Father of Virtual Reality." Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Avery Smith ... and LaToya, a podiatrist, tied the knot in 2008. A year and a half into their marriage ... she was diagnosed with Stage 2A Melanoma. A minor surgical procedure is usually enough to cure it. But the following 18 months were revealing for Smith; on December 9th, 2011, LaToya died. He was left scarred by the experience: "I learned about going through illness while being Black," he says. Today, over a decade later, Smith is putting his skills as a software developer to work in an effort to end the racial bias and inequity in skin care that contributed to his wife's death. In 2021, he launched Melalogic, a Baltimore-based startup that provides skin health resources to people with dark skin. A 2016 study shows that the five-year survival rate of Black people with skin cancer is 65 percent, compared to 92 percent for white people. The problem is rooted in racial inequities and biases in medical research and technology. In skin cancers, for instance, AI systems have been used to drastically improve diagnosis. However, these are mostly helpful to white people because diagnostic AI datasets are trained with images of white skin. Smith teamed up with dermatologist Dr. Adewole Adamson to conduct a research project, endorsed by the American Medical Association, on machine learning and health care disparities in dermatology. It was from the research's findings that Smith conceived Melalogic, an app ... dedicated to providing Black people with skin health resources.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Certain mushroom species have the ability to consume polyurethane, one of the main ingredients in plastic products. Some scientists believe that these natural composters could be the key to cleaning up our planet. Mycoremediation is the natural process that fungi use to degrade or isolate contaminants in the environment. A 2020 study published in Biotechnology Reports found that mycoremediation applied to agricultural wastes like pesticides, herbicides, and cyanotoxins is more cost-effective, eco-friendly, and effective. A project using the mycelium (the vegetative part of the mushroom similar to a plant's root system) of two common mushrooms made headlines in 2014. Using Pleurotus ostreatus, also known as the oyster mushroom, and Schizophyllum commune, aka the split gill mushroom, the team was able to turn plastic into human-grade food. The mushrooms were cultivated on circular pods made of seaweed-derived gelatin filled with UV-treated plastics. As the fungus digests the plastic, it grows around the edible base pods to create a mycelium-rich snack after just a few months. According to a study by the University of Rajasthan in India, plastic-eating mushrooms can sometimes absorb too much of the pollutant in their mycelium, and therefore cannot be consumed. If more research is performed regarding the safety aspects, however, mycoremediation through mushroom cultivation could perhaps address two of the world's greatest problems: waste and food scarcity.
Huge amounts of plastic ends up rivers and oceans every year, harming the environment and potentially also human health. But what if we could pull it out of water with the power of magnets? [Chemistry student] Ferreira became determined to find a solution to remove microplastics from water. He started by designing his own spectrometer, a scientific instrument that uses ultraviolet light to measure the density of microplastics in solutions. "I could see there were a lot of microplastics in the water and they weren't just coming from big plastic breaking down in the sea," he says. It was on his local beach that Ferreira came up with a solution that could extract microplastics from water. "I found some oil spill residue with loads of plastic attached to it," he says. "I realised that oil could be used to attract plastic." Ferreira mixed vegetable oil with iron oxide powder to create a magnetic liquid, also known as ferrofluid. He then blended in microplastics from a wide range of everyday items, including plastic bottles, paint and car tyres, and water from the washing machine. After the microplastics attached themselves to the ferrofluid, Ferreira used a magnet to remove the solution and leave behind only water. Following 5,000 tests, Ferreira's method was 87% effective at extracting microplastics from water. Ferreira is currently in the process of designing a device which uses the magnetic extraction method to capture microplastics as water flows past it. The device will be small enough to fit inside waterpipes to continuously extract plastic fragments.
Note: Researchers from Australia are also finding innovative ways to rapidly remove hazardous microplastics from water using magnets. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
At Radical Family Farms, Leslie Wiser recently planted bitter melons, what she refers to as "one of our most beloved crops", a staple in many types of Asian cuisine that grows on a vine and is related to zucchini, squash and cucumber. Women like Wiser are increasingly the face of farming in California, and nationally as well. Experts say the growing presence of women in agriculture is having an impact on how the industry operates, especially in the face of generational challenges like pandemics and climate change, with research showing that women-led businesses are more likely to take a community-minded approach to how they operate and fill in gaps during crises. During the pandemic, for example ... women farmers filled the gaps in local communities for food access. Radical Family Farm stepped in to feed food-insecure seniors throughout the Bay Area when it was not safe for them to go to the grocery store or farmers' market. "A lot of this was driven by the attacks on our Asian elders during the pandemic," Wiser said. "It's still happening, with seniors afraid to walk on the streets." Her long-term goal is to dedicate one-third of the produce from her farm to seniors in the Bay Area. "It is part of my cultural heritage to honor our elders," she said, adding that her grandparents on both sides took care of her growing up, so delivering "culturally relevant produce" to seniors is meaningful. "Instead of getting bags of potatoes, they can get vegetables, produce and herbs that are familiar to them."
Crosswalks don't work. According to various studies, only between five and fifteen percent of drivers slow down at pedestrian crossings. The vast majority of drivers simply don't pay attention to them. America's deadly streetscape is the subject of The Street Project, a new PBS documentary about citizen-led efforts to make streets safer. When filmmaker Jennifer Boyd started making it, she assumed distracted driving must be behind the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths. But as she soon learned, digital screens are less of a culprit than most people realize. "Less than one percent of pedestrian deaths involved portable electronic devices," she found. Instead, she discovered that two of the biggest factors are speeding and bigger cars. If speeding and visibility are the problem and crosswalks can't stop it, color might. The Asphalt Art Initiative, a program funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, provides grants to create art to modify dangerous streets. One of these projects is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where artists and residents transformed a high-traffic commercial thoroughfare with a block-long asphalt mural, while students marked safe walking paths in the area with stencils and wheat paste. Overall, according to the Initiative, "the data showed a 50 percent drop in crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists and a 37 percent drop in crashes leading to injuries. Intersections with asphalt art saw a 17 percent reduction in total accidents."
Note: Don't miss the great pictures and video of public art 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.
An animal sanctuary in rebel-held Syria rescued a cat trapped inside its human's shop for three days, a chicken stuck in the middle of a flooding river and a dog bleeding profusely from its leg. But it couldn't save them all. "Just like humans, we had to do triage," said Mohamad Youssef, one of two veterinarians with Ernesto's Sanctuary for Cats in Syria. "But we saved a lot, and we are still searching." As hopes for rescuing earthquake survivors in northwest Syria dwindled, roughly a dozen of Ernesto's workers continued pulling out dogs, cats, goats and chickens from underneath the rubble. In a region devastated by tragedy upon tragedy, returning lost pets to owners can bring emotional comfort, and gathering up displaced farm animals ensures a steady source of food for a people largely cut off from international trade. "Humans cannot exist without dogs, without cats, without goats, without chickens," Youssef said in Arabic. "They are part of our families, like a mom or a dad. They give us food, they give us happiness, they give us comfort. We would not be without them." After a traumatic event such as an earthquake, Youssef added, pets provide a love that few humans can match, a psychological support that can be a lifeline following so much loss. They ... now have roughly 2,000 cats, 30 dogs, five monkeys, three donkeys, a horse, a fox, a chicken and a goat. Ernesto's hopes to change the culture of violence toward animals that roam the region in part by going out to villages to sterilize ownerless dogs.
Since 2020, three pastors who lead a combined seven churches on the Deal Island Peninsula have been worshiping together at a small beach on Maryland's lower Eastern Shore. The pastors, two White and one Black, are part of the United Methodist Church. A spur-of-the-moment idea to bring the faithful together during the pandemic has become a once-a-month gathering where hundreds of worshipers honk along to a boisterous service that offers a mix of polemics, politics and preaching. "There isn't a better church than this one right here," said Cathy Sikos, a retired Walmart worker who lives in nearby Dames Quarter. "It's a true depiction of what a church should be. No fancy building. Just pure worship. It's God's place. I wouldn't want to go anywhere else." Martin Luther King Jr. famously called 11 o'clock on Sunday morning "America's most segregated hour." In many places, it still is. The three Church by the Bay pastors say they never set out to be an example of integration. They simply wanted to offer Communion to parishioners starved of that opportunity. After three months of virtual worships, the trio decided to offer a joint Communion at the beach for 30 minutes. The joint worship has introduced the parishioners to different styles and messages. The three pastors have no plans to stop the once-a-month service, showing unity even as the United Methodist Church is splitting over the national organization's decision to allow same-sex marriages and ordain gay and lesbian clergy.
How giant African rats are helping uncover deadly land mines in Cambodia
September 10, 2019, PBS
From Angola to the former Yugoslavia, land mines are a lethal legacy of wars over long ago. Cambodia is among the most affected countries, with millions of buried explosives that kill and maim people each year. Now, an organization is deploying an unexpected ally to find mines: the giant pouch rat, whose sharp sense of smell can detect explosives. Mark Shukuru is head rat trainer in Cambodia for the Belgian non-profit APOPO. He is from Tanzania, where this species is also native, and he learned early that they have some of the most sensitive noses in the animal kingdom. Each comes out of a rigorous program in Tanzania that trains them to distinguish explosives from other scents. Each time they sniff out TNT buried in this test field, a trainer uses a clicker to make a distinct sound, and they get a treat. Since 2016, APOPO's hero rats have found roughly 500 anti-personnel mines and more than 350 unexploded bombs in Cambodia. They're the second animal to be deployed in mine clearance. Dogs were first. Animals can work much faster than humans, although, when the land is densely mined, metal detectors are considered more efficient. APOPO plans to bring in some 40 more rats to expand the force and replace retirees. Each animal works about eight years, and then lives out the rest of its days alongside fellow heroes, all working toward the day when they can broadcast to the world that Cambodia has destroyed the last unexploded bomb.
Note: Don't miss the cute video of these hero rats at work, 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.
The odds are against former prisoners in the U.S. when it comes to staying out of incarceration. About eight in 10 who were released from prison in 2005 were arrested again at least once by 2014, according to the most recent study by the U.S. Department of Justice. And the risk of former prisoners recidivism is highest the first year after release – about 44 percent of state prisoners were arrested again within a year of release. Formerly incarcerated people are nearly 10 times as likely to be homeless as the average American. Weld Seattle, a nonprofit based in Washington state, aims to reduce homelessness by using vacant buildings as temporary housing until development officially begins. In total, Weld Seattle has housed 125 people and has seen 43 residents move on to independent permanent housing. In 2018, formerly incarcerated people faced an unemployment rate of 27 percent. That's higher than the unemployment rate was for all Americans during the peak of the Great Depression. Having proper business attire may not solve the unemployment problem, but it can help former inmates get a foot in the door with potential employers. The New York nonprofit 100 Suits for 100 Men is committed to giving recently released men, women and gender non-conforming people a "boutique experience." Founded by Kevin Livingston, the organization has given out more than 13,200 suits since 2011, and more than 800 since the start of this year.
Ants can be more effective than pesticides at helping farmers produce food, according to new research. They are better at killing pests, reducing plant damage and increasing crop yields, according to the first systematic review of ants' contributions to crop production. Ants are generalist predators and hunt pests that damage fruits, seeds and leaves, leading to a drop in crop yields. A greater diversity of ants generally provides more protection against a wider range of pests, the study found. The analysis looked at 17 crops, including citrus, mango, apple and soya bean in countries including the US, Australia, the UK and Brazil. "In general, with proper management, ants can be useful pest controls and increase crop yield over time. Some ant species have similar or higher efficacy than pesticides, at lower costs," researchers wrote in the paper published in Proceedings of Royal Society B. There are more ants than any other insect, making up half of the planet's insect biomass. There are at least 14,000 known species of ant, with many more likely to remain unknown. Citrus growers in China have used ants in farming for centuries, and the insects have also been used to help control forest pests in Canada, cocoa pests in Ghana and crop pests in Nigeria. Dr Patrick Milligan, from the University of Nevada Pringle Lab ... said the findings were "both heartening and not at all surprising". He added: "They offer a neat and tidy description of ant-derived benefits that are ubiquitous across ecological and agricultural systems.
Schools and nonprofits are trying to address what they see as a growing problem, as more children need eyeglasses but can't afford them. "Kids are getting nearsighted from close work and machines, electronic devices," [Dr. Robert Abel] said. The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates half of the world’s population will be nearsighted, or myopic, by 2049, with children being the most at risk. In Maryland's Kent County Public Schools, a mobile vision clinic has helped to ensure more children have access to free eye exams, glasses. The national organization works with local funding partners, states and ophthalmologists to offer free eye care to school children in need. Last November, the nonprofit Vision to Learn made a stop at Galena Elementary. One by one, students boarded a converted 151-square-foot Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, where an optometrist and optician conducted eye exams inside. Children who needed glasses then selected from a choice of 30 frames. A few weeks later, the Vision to Learn van returned to hand out the glasses at a school assembly. The glasses were given out like awards. That way, educators and health providers hoped to combat any stigma of wearing glasses. Vision to Learn has expanded to 14 states, each with their own corresponding mobile clinic van. Other organizations, like OnSight's "Vision Van" in New York and VSP Global's "Eyes of Hope" mobile clinic, headquartered in California, have taken up the same cause in an effort to improve student outcomes.
As a teenager, Phil Miller dreamt of becoming a CIA field officer. But incarceration derailed that dream. Miller became a jailhouse lawyer – an incarcerated person who informally helps others challenge their convictions while in prison. This year, he's finishing his first year of law school at the City University of New York. But, he says, he wouldn't be where he is without support: at CUNY Law that came from the Formerly Incarcerated Law Students Advocacy Association (FILSAA). FILSAA is part of a growing movement of organizations working to change the overwhelming scrutiny that discourages – and often disqualifies – people with records from pursuing a law degree. The National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction catalogues around 40,000 official restrictions limiting or excluding people with convictions from accessing employment, education and more in the United States. While other organizations work to tackle the barriers to the Bar on a political level, FILSAA works on a deceptively simple level, offering free LSAT training, mentorship and a needed supportive space at school for people with records. FILSAA's impact has been small in numbers but deep in value. Thanks to what Williams calls "mythbusting" YouTube videos, they've heard this year from 12 currently or formerly incarcerated people expressing interest. "Hope is a necessity. It's like food and air," [Miller] says. "Finding out there's something that other people value you for, that can help you take yourself seriously."
Just as we don't pay much attention to the critical infrastructure that powers our digital world and exists just out of sight – from the Automated Clearing House (ACH), which undergirds our financial system, to the undersea cables that enable the Internet to be globally useful, blockchain is likely to change our lives in ways that will eventually be invisible. In the sharing economy, we have traditionally just used existing infrastructure and built platforms and services on top of it. Considering that those undersea cables are owned by private companies with their own motives and that the locations of ACH data centers are heavily classified, there is a lot to be desired in terms of transparency, resilience, and independence from self-interested third parties. That's where open-source, decentralized infrastructure of the blockchain for the sharing economy offers much promise and potential. Origin ... is working to reduce the cost, difficulty, and barriers to entry for building marketplaces, enabling people to build truly peer-to-peer marketplaces on the blockchain. In creating this kind of decentralized underpinning, blockchains offer communities alternatives to one-size-fits all solutions and economies of scale. Another crucial part of the sharing economy infrastructure is financial infrastructure. Consider the two billion unbanked and underbanked adults around the world. Can blockchain benefit them as well? WeTrust is one of the blockchain startups working to do this, and has already put out a lending circle product.
The food served at the suburban San Francisco school system, Mount Diablo Unified, reflects a trend away from mass-produced, reheated meals. Its lunch menus are filled with California-grown fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats and recipes that defy the stereotype of inedible school food. Among American schoolchildren, these students are in the lucky minority. Making fresh meals requires significant investment and, in many areas, an overhaul of how school kitchens have operated for decades. What's more, federal money to boost lunch budgets has declined. The government last year ended a pandemic-era program offering free school meals to everyone. A few states, such as California, have been paying to keep meals free for all students, but most states went back to charging all but the neediest kids for meals. Increases in money from California's state government have made it possible for Mount Diablo to buy fresher local ingredients and hire the chef, Josh Gjersand, a veteran of Michelin-starred restaurants. Local farms, bakers, creameries and fishermen now supply most ingredients to the district, which serves 30,000 students from wealthy and low-income communities east of San Francisco. Making food from scratch isn't just healthier, it's cheaper, many school nutrition directors say. In 2021, California committed to spending $650 million annually to supplement federal meal reimbursements – money for food, staff, new equipment and other upgrades.
Jacque Fresco is an inspiration to many, with his innovative ideas and blue prints for a sustainable society and planet that reject the current models of mass consumerism and self-destruction. His latest venture, called The Venus Project, advocates what Fresco has coined as a "resource-based economy", a society which runs on socio-cooperation and which utilizes the methodology of science and the advancements in technology in one of the cleanest and most energy efficient systems ever conceptualized. Located in Venus, Florida, The Venus Project is a research center which develops innovations in the fields of freelance inventing, industrial engineering, and conventional architectural modeling. The Venus Project aims to answer the question, how can we utilize technology wisely so that there is more than enough for everyone on our planet? To make this happen, Fresco proposes that a planning process must first occur, where the entire infrastructure of the planet is re-worked. This means the planet working together as one, eliminating the false borders that separate continents and countries and looking at our planet as an open trading highway system. The Venus Project works to showcase the amazing and inspiring potential of computers and technology, and to help people understand that it is not technology that is responsible for the deterioration of the planet and society, but rather it is the abuse and misuse of machines and automated technology for selfish benefits that we should be weary of.
Fifty years ago, Congress voted to override President Richard Nixon's veto of the Clean Water Act. It has proved to be one of the most transformative environmental laws ever enacted. At the time of the law's passage, hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage was dumped by New York City into the Hudson River every day. This filth was compounded by industrial contaminants emptied into the river along much of its length. The catch basin for all of this was New York Harbor, which resembled an open sewer. At its worst, 10 feet of raw human waste blanketed portions of the harbor bottom. Health advisories against eating fish from the Hudson remain, but its ecology has largely recovered, thanks to the law, which imposed strict regulations on what could be discharged into the water by sewage treatment plants, factories and other sources of pollution. Today people swim in organized events in New York Harbor, which would have been unthinkable in 1972 when the law was passed. Across the country, billions of dollars were also spent to construct and improve sewage treatment plants, leading to recoveries of other urban waterways. Cleaner water has made the harbor far more hospitable, and other steps have helped to rebuild life there, like fishing restrictions and the removal of some dams on tributaries in the Hudson River watershed. The bald eagle has made a strong comeback, taking advantage of the harbor's resurgent fish life. In December 2020 a humpback whale was seen in the Hudson just one mile from Times Square.