Ernestine Shepherd: The 75-year-old bodybuilding grandma
2012-06-10, BBC News
The world's oldest female bodybuilder wakes up every day at 02:30 to fit in a 10 mile (16km) run before hitting the gym. But 75-year-old Ernestine Shepherd insists that "age is nothing but a number". "Miss Ernie", as she is known in the world of competitive bodybuilding, began training at the tender age of 71. She says her true calling in life, however, is helping others to follow a more healthy lifestyle. The BBC caught up with her at an exercise class at her church in the US city of Baltimore, Maryland, to find out why she started bodybuilding.
Note: Click on the link above to watch an amazing three-minute video with this inspiring grandmother.
The women of India's Barefoot College bring light to remote villages
2011-06-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Santosh Devi is [a] 19-year-old, semi-literate woman from the backwaters of Rajasthan [who] has broken through India's rigid caste system to become the country's first Dalit solar engineer. While differences of caste have begun to blur in the cities, in rural India Dalits – also known as "untouchables" – are still impoverished and widely discriminated against. Santosh trained to be a solar engineer at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, 100km from Jaipur. The college was set up in 1972 by Sanjit "Bunker" Roy to teach rural people skills with which they could transform their villages, regardless of gender, caste, ethnicity, age or schooling. The college claims to have trained 15,000 women in skills including solar engineering, healthcare and water testing. Roy, 65, says his approach – low cost, decentralised and community driven – works by "capitalising on the resources already present in the villages". The college, spread over eight acres, runs entirely on solar energy, maintained by the Barefoot solar engineers. Since the solar course was launched in 2005, more than 300 Barefoot engineers have brought power to more than 13,000 homes across India. A further 6,000 households, in more than 120 villages in 24 countries from Afghanistan to Uganda, have been powered on the same model. Only villages that are inaccessible, remote and non-electrified are considered for solar power. A drop in the ocean, perhaps – 44% of rural households in India have no electricity – but these women are making an important contribution to the nation's power needs.
Note: For a very inspiring TED talk filled with great stories by the founder of this college, click here.
Looking For 10% Yields? Go Online For Peer To Peer Lending
2012-06-06, Forbes Magazine
Today a tidal wave of aging boomers want income, but traditional sources are lacking. But there’s [a] source of high yield that relatively few consider. Peer-to-peer lending, or making personal loans via the Internet using websites like LendingClub.com and Prosper.com. After six years of experience and some bumps, including a financial crisis and ensuing recession, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending has finally earned its place on an income investor’s menu. The basic premise of these bank disintermediaries is that they harness the networking power of the Web to match people who have excess cash with people in need of it or those who simply want to refinance credit card debt. The key to its success has been how the sites have managed the inherent riskiness of unsecured personal loans. Believe it or not, it is now possible to earn yields of 6% or more, making relatively safe loans to complete strangers. San Francisco’s Lending Club is the largest P2P lender, followed by its crosstown rival Prosper. Lending Club and Prosper have loaned a total of more than $1 billion since inception, in 112,000 loans. Lending Club currently issues about $45 million in loans a month versus Prosper’s $13 million per month. Of course defaults happen. Lending Club’s top-rated three-year loans expect a default rate of around 1.4%, and the riskiest loans, offering rates as high as 25%, have a 9.8% default rate.
Note: A 1.4 default rate is much lower than that of the average bank. For those who want to borrow or loan money free of the banks with excellent rates, check out www.lendingclub.com and www.prosper.com.
Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way
2012-06-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Capitalism's recurring tendencies toward extreme and deepening inequalities of income, wealth, and political and cultural power require resignation and acceptance. [It] entails and reproduces a highly undemocratic organization of production inside enterprises. Believers insist that no alternatives to ... capitalist organizations of production exist or could work nearly so well. Of course, alternatives exist. The city of Arrasate-Mondragon, in the Basque region of Spain ... is the headquarters of the Mondragon Corporation (MC). MC is composed of many co-operative enterprises grouped into four areas: industry, finance, retail and knowledge. In each enterprise, the co-op members (averaging 80-85% of all workers per enterprise) collectively own and direct the enterprise. The largest corporation in the Basque region, MC is also one of Spain's top ten biggest corporations (in terms of sales or employment). And MC has expanded internationally, now operating over 77 businesses outside Spain. MC has proven itself able to grow and prosper as an alternative to – and competitor of – capitalist organizations of enterprise. MC worker-members collectively choose, hire and fire the directors, whereas in capitalist enterprises the reverse occurs. One of the co-operatively and democratically adopted rules governing the MC limits top-paid worker/members to earning 6.5 times the lowest-paid workers. In US corporations, CEOs can expect to be paid 400 times an average worker's salary – a rate that has increased 20-fold since 1965.
The Boy Who Played With Fusion
2012-02-14, Popular Science
Taylor Wilson always dreamed of creating a star. Now he [has] become one. For the past three years, Taylor has dominated the international science fair, walking away with nine awards ... and more than $100,000 in prizes. At 14, [he was] the youngest individual on Earth to achieve nuclear fusion. [He attends] Davidson Academy ... a subsidized public school for the nation’s smartest and most motivated students. When he began at Davidson, he found the two advocates he needed ... to build a fusion reactor. Atomic physicist Ronald Phaneuf ... introduced him to technician Bill Brinsmead. With Brinsmead and Phaneuf’s help, Taylor stretched himself, applying knowledge from more than 20 technical fields. Shortly after his 14th birthday, Taylor and Brinsmead loaded deuterium fuel into the machine [Taylor had created], brought up the power, and confirmed the presence of neutrons. With that, Taylor became the 32nd individual on the planet to achieve a nuclear-fusion reaction. When I meet Taylor Wilson, he is 16 and busy. Taylor’s reactor ... dominates the far corner of Phaneuf’s lab. Peering through the small window into the reaction chamber, I can see the golf-ball-size grid of tungsten fingers that will cradle the plasma. Taylor nudges the power up to 50,000 volts, bringing the temperature of the plasma inside the core to an incomprehensible 580 million degrees. “There it is,” Taylor says, his eyes locked on the machine. “The birth of a star.”
Note: The full article about this amazing genius will boggle your mind. Could Taylor be one of the many indigo children talked about in the New York Times article available at this link?
Can Positive Thoughts Help Heal Another Person?
For the past decade, [Sheri] Kaplan has been coming every few months to see Gail Ironson, a professor at the University of Miami. Ironson, an AIDS researcher, runs down a battery of questions. Kaplan has never taken medicine, yet the disease has not progressed to AIDS (and she is not part of the population that has a mutation in the CCR5 gene that prevents progression of HIV to AIDS). In the mid-1990s, when having HIV was akin to a death sentence, Ironson noticed that a number of patients like Kaplan never got sick. Ironson wanted to know why. And she found something surprising. "If you ask people what's kept you going so long, what keeps you healthy, often people would say spirituality," she says. "It was something that just kept coming up in the interviews, and that's why I decided to look at it." Ironson began to zero in on a patient's relationship with God in an attempt to predict how fast the disease would progress. Ironson says over time, those who turned to God after their diagnosis had a much lower viral load and maintained those powerful immune cells at a much higher rate than those who turned away from God. "In fact, people who felt abandoned by God and who decreased in spirituality lost their CD4 cells 4.5 times faster than people who increased in spirituality," Ironson says. "That was actually our most powerful psychological predictor to date."
‘Israel Loves Iran’ Campaign Gains Force
2012-03-23, ABC News
As diplomats and journalists dissect every word spoken by top Israeli, Iranian and American officials for signs of a potential Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear program, an online campaign to prevent just that has gained steam in Israel. The “Israel Loves Iran” campaign [was launched last week by] Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry and his wife, Michal Tamir. “For there to be a war between us, we must first be afraid of one another, we must hate,” Edry says. “I’m not afraid of you. I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you. No Iranian ever did me … harm.” The site and its accompanying Facebook page are filled with photos of Israelis from all walks of life and the “Iranians, We Love You” slogan, with the subheader: “We will never bomb you.” On Friday evening, the page had almost 28,000 “likes,” and the campaign has raised more than $16,000 to print posters and “keep the movement grow[ing].” Organizers say responses from Iranians around the world have poured in. ”Unfortunately, the stupid politicians in both countries are trying to separate these two rich cultures!” wrote one responder. One of the more popular posts ricocheting around Facebook is of a man and woman kissing, with him holding up his Israeli passport as she flaunts her Iranian passport. ”Persian girls are sexy and adorable,” the boyfriend wrote. “Our cultures and backgrounds have never got in the way. We actually share the same ideals.” According to a recent poll, [only] 19 percent of Israelis support a unilateral strike on Iran. Participant Talia Gorodess [commented], “the more people join this campaign, the more, I hope, my government will think twice before doing anything foolish.”
Note: To see the inspiring website of this campaign, click here. For the facebook page, click here. For a highly inspiring two-minute video of the campaign, click here. For the beautiful response from Iranians, click here. This is how we transform our world! To understand how the politicians and military leaders manage to manipulate us into war after war, read what a highly decorated general had to say at this link.
2012: The Year of the Cooperative
2012-02-01, Yes! Magazine
The United Nations has named 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, and indeed, co-ops seem poised to become a dominant business model around the world. Today, nearly one billion people worldwide are cooperative member-owners. In Ethiopia, cooperation helps women and men rise above poverty. In Germany, half of renewable energy is owned by citizens. In America, 93 million credit union member-owners control $920 billion in assets. And in Basque Country, a 50-year-old worker co-op has grown to become a multinational, cooperative corporation. Founded in 1956 ... Mondragón is the world’s largest cooperative, and Spain’s seventh largest business. Mondragón has operations in 19 countries and employs 83,000 worker-owners. Yet for every international job the company creates, it employs two people in Spain. The UN ... in 2012 will dedicate its efforts to raising awareness of co-ops, helping them grow and influencing governments to support them legislatively. Thirty percent of Americans belong to cooperatively-owned credit unions, the largest of which serves 3.4 million Department of Defense employees and has $45 billion in assets. “Cooperatives ... promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people. [They] are becoming a major factor of economic and social development and contribute to the eradication of poverty.” - UN Resolution 64/136, 2010. The cooperative model is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing business model by 2025. UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon [says] “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.”
Note: How sad that we've heard hardly a peep out of the major media about this inspiring trend towards cooperatives. For an abundance of other inspiring major media articles, click here.
Icelandic Anger Brings Debt Forgiveness in Best Recovery Story
Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger. Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association. “You could safely say that Iceland holds the world record in household debt relief,” said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets economist at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “Iceland followed the textbook example of what is required in a crisis. Any economist would agree with that.” Most polls now show Icelanders don’t want to join the European Union, where the debt crisis is in its third year. The island’s households were helped by an agreement between the government and the banks, which are still partly controlled by the state, to forgive debt exceeding 110 percent of home values. On top of that, a Supreme Court ruling in June 2010 found loans indexed to foreign currencies were illegal, meaning households no longer need to cover krona losses.
Note: The amazing story of the Icelandic people demanding bank reform is one of the most underreported stories in recent years. Why isn't this all over the news? To see what top journalists say about news censorship, click here. For blatant manipulations of the big banks reported in the major media, click here.
Dire Poverty Falls Despite Global Slump, Report Finds
2012-03-07, New York Times
A World Bank report shows a broad-based reduction in extreme poverty - and indicates that the global recession, contrary to economists' expectations, did not increase poverty in the developing world. The report shows that for the first time the proportion of people living in extreme poverty - on less than $1.25 a day - fell in every developing region between 2005 and 2008. And the biggest recession since the Great Depression seems not to have thrown that trend off course, preliminary data from 2010 indicate. The progress is so dramatic that the world has met the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half five years before its 2015 deadline. That is contrary to the World Bank's own expectations. In a year-end 2008 report, the Washington-based development institution warned: "Unemployment is on the rise in industrial countries and poverty is set to increase across low- and middle income countries, bringing with it a substantial deterioration in conditions for the world's most vulnerable." But that did not
happen. Surveys for 2010 show that the proportion of people in the developing world living in extreme poverty fell. That is because of strong growth in countries like Brazil, India and especially China, growth that helped buoy economies in Africa and South America.
Calif. HS student devises possible cancer cure
2012-01-13, CBS News
Born to Chinese immigrants, 17-year-old Angela Zhang of Cupertino, California is a typical American teenager. She's really into shoes and is just learning how to drive. But there is one thing that separates her from every other student at Monta Vista High School, something she first shared with her chemistry teacher, Kavita Gupta. It's a research paper Angela wrote in her spare time -- and it is advanced, to say the least. "Cure for cancer -- a high school student," said Gupta. "It's just so mind-boggling. I just cannot even begin to comprehend how she even thought about it or did this." When she was a freshman, she started reading doctorate level papers on bio-engineering. By sophomore year she'd talked her way into the lab at Stanford, and by junior year was doing her own research. Angela's idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles -- nanoparticles that would then attach to cancer cells and show up on an MRI, so doctors could see exactly where the tumors are. Then she thought [of aiming] an infrared light at the tumors to melt the polymer and release the medicine, thus killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells completely unharmed. It'll take years to know if it works in humans -- but in mice -- the tumors almost completely disappeared. Angela recently entered her project in the national Siemens science contest. It was no contest. She got a check for $100,000.
Note: If this technique has already melted tumors in mice, why is CBS saying it will take years to know if it works in humans? Why wouldn't millions be poured in to fast track research on this exciting technology?
Two Degrees energy bars support famine relief
2012-01-13, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
For every Two Degrees energy bar purchased, the company provides a peanut-paste packet to a starving child in Malawi through its partnership with Valid Nutrition. The idea of feeding starving children through business came from a pairing of two entrepreneurs at opposite ends of their career. Will Hauser, a 2008 graduate of Harvard University, did a yearlong stint at Goldman Sachs before settling on his true passion - entrepreneurship. His business partner, Lauren Walters, is a seasoned entrepreneur. But both are fairly new to tackling some of the world's most serious problems like famine and hunger. A decade ago, Walters became involved with Boston nonprofit group Partners in Health, and six years ago he had his first encounter with malnourished children. During a trip with the organization in Rwanda, he was struck by the severity of the situation and the lack of ready-to-use therapeutic foods being made locally. The therapeutic foods are packets of a nutrition paste fortified with vitamins and minerals designed to reverse malnutrition. Four years later, Walters met Steve Collins, a doctor who had worked in famine relief for two decades, at the Oxford Skoll Forum. There, Walters' business acumen combined with Collins' humanitarian ambitions. Collins and his business partner, Paul Murphy, had started Valid Nutrition, which produces the packets of nutrition paste in Africa, relying on local farmers, labor and suppliers.
Note: For many other highly inspiring articles reported in the major media, click here.
2009-07-05, New York Times
Like others in the so-called good-food movement, [Will] Allen, who is 60, asserts that our industrial food system is depleting soil, poisoning water, gobbling fossil fuels and stuffing us with bad calories. Like others, he advocates eating locally grown food. But to Allen, local doesn't mean a rolling pasture or even a suburban garden: it means 14 greenhouses crammed onto two acres in a working-class neighborhood on Milwaukee's northwest side, less than half a mile from the city's largest public-housing project. And this is why Allen is so fond of his worms. When you're producing a quarter of a million dollars' worth of food in such a small space, soil fertility is everything. Without microbe- and nutrient-rich worm castings (poop, that is), Allen's Growing Power farm couldn't provide healthful food to 10,000 urbanites — through his on-farm retail store, in schools and restaurants, at farmers' markets and in low-cost market baskets delivered to neighborhood pickup points. He couldn't employ scores of people, some from the nearby housing project; continually train farmers in intensive polyculture; or convert millions of pounds of food waste into a version of black gold. With seeds planted at quadruple density and nearly every inch of space maximized to generate exceptional bounty, Growing Power is an agricultural Mumbai, a supercity of upward-thrusting tendrils and duct-taped infrastructure.
Note: For another excellent article on this most amazing man and the urban farming movement, click here.
‘Wild Old Women’ Close San Francisco Bank Of America Branch
2012-01-05, KCBS (CBS News San Francisco Affiliate)
It was a slow-moving Occupy Wall Street protest, but it was an effective one. A dozen senior citizens calling themselves “the wild old women” succeeded in closing a Bank of America branch in Bernal Heights Thursday. The women, aged 69 to 82, who live at the senior home up Mission street from the Bernal Heights Bank of America branch, decided to hold their own protest by doing what they called a “run on the bank.” Tita Caldwell, 80, who led the charge of women with walkers and wheelchairs, said that they’re demanding the bank lower fees, pay higher taxes, and stop foreclosing on, and evicting, homeowners. ”We’re upset about what the banks are doing, particularly in our neighborhood and neighboring areas, in evicting people and foreclosing on their homes,” said Caldwell. “We’re upset because the banks are raising their rates because it really affects seniors who are on a fixed income.” As they arrived, Bank of America closed and locked its doors, to the surprise and delight of the elderly protestors, who said that they had no intention of storming the bank. The women waved signs, but didn’t march or chant, with one woman on supplemental oxygen adding that the group was too old for that.
A Grass-Roots Newscast Gives a Voice to Struggles
2011-10-24, New York Times
“Democracy Now!,” the 15-year-old public radio and television program ... distinguishes itself by documenting social movements, struggles for justice and the effects of American foreign policy, along with the rest of the day’s developments. Operated as a nonprofit organization and distributed on a patchwork of stations, channels and Web sites, “Democracy Now!” is proudly independent, in that way appealing to hundreds of thousands of people who are skeptical of the news organizations that are owned by major media companies. Though it has long had a loyal audience, “Democracy Now!” has gained more attention recently for methodical coverage of two news events — the execution of the Georgia inmate Troy Davis and the occupation of Wall Street and other symbolic sites across the country. [Host Amy] Goodman broadcast live from Georgia for six hours on Sept. 21, the evening of the execution, and “Democracy Now!” reporters were fanned out in Manhattan from the first day of the protests against corporate greed. The media, Ms. Goodman said in an interview last week, can be “the greatest force for peace on earth” for “it is how we come to understand each other.” But she asserted that the views of a majority of Americans had been “silenced by the corporate media.” “Which is why we have to take it back,” she said.
Note: Up until now, there has been a virtual ban on mentioning the important work of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now. Could this be a signal of some real change?
US sees big drop in violence despite economic woes
2011-09-17, MSNBC/Associated Press
The number of violent crimes fell by a surprising 12 percent in the United States last year, a far bigger drop than the nation has been averaging since 2001, the Justice Department said. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported there were 3.8 million violent crimes last year, down from 4.3 million in 2009. Experts aren't sure why. The expectation had been that crime would increase in a weak economy with high unemployment like that seen in 2010. The big drop dwarfs the 3 percent yearly decline in violent crimes the nation averaged from 2001 through 2009. More than 80 percent of the decline in violent crime was attributed to a plunge in simple assaults, by 15 percent. Those assaults accounted for nearly two-thirds of all violent crimes in 2010. The combined total of property crimes and violent crimes was down 6.6 percent last year, from 20 million to 18.7 million. From 1993 through 2010, the rate of violent crime has declined by a whopping 70 percent: from 49.9 violent crimes per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to only 14.9 per 1,000 in 2010.
Note: A 70 percent drop in violent crime in the last 20 years - that's amazing! Why isn't this inspiring news making top headlines? For excellent FBI graphs and more showing this dramatic decrease in crime, click here.
Shocking photo created a hero, but not to his family
2011-05-16, CNN News
The mob was already waiting for James Zwerg by the time the Greyhound bus eased into the station in Montgomery, Alabama. Looking out the window, Zwerg could see men gripping baseball bats, chains and clubs. They had sealed off the streets leading to the bus station and chased away news photographers. They didn't want anyone to witness what they were about to do. Zwerg accepted his worst fear: He was going to die today. Only the night before, Zwerg had prayed for the strength to not strike back in anger. He was among the 18 white and black college students from Nashville who had decided to take the bus trip through the segregated South in 1961. They called themselves Freedom Riders. Their goal was to desegregate public transportation. Zwerg had not planned to go, but the night before, some students had asked him to join them. To summon his courage, Zwerg stayed up late, reading Psalm 27, the scripture that the students had picked to read during a group prayer before their trip. "The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I fear?" the Psalm began. But there was another passage at the end that touched Zwerg in a place the other students didn't know about: "Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me." Zwerg's parents had forsaken him for joining the civil rights movement.
Note: For another amazingly inspiring story of a man in the civil rights movement who faced death by hatred with compassion, click here. And for a powerfully inspiring New York Times article on the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders, click here. We have clearly come a long way in building more harmony between races.
Marc Gold travels Asia paying it forward through little acts of kindness
2011-04-04, Christian Science Monitor
Marc Gold spends most of his time on the road. One month he may be in India or Afghanistan; the next he's in Cambodia or Vietnam, both of which he's visited numerous times. But he doesn't travel to see the sights. The retired community-college professor from San Francisco pursues his own brand of tourism: philanthropic travel. "I go where the poor people are," Mr. Gold says. Everywhere he goes, Gold performs acts of kindness, both random and preplanned. He rarely spends more than a few hundred dollars. "For people who live on a dollar or less a day, $50 can make a big difference," says Gold, who has been dubbed "the shoestring philanthropist." [Traveling to India in 1989] led to an epiphany. "I'd thought you had to be rich to do such things," he recalls. "I realized I had the power to help change people's lives." Back home, he asked a hundred friends for small donations and was soon back in India with $2,200. He then set up a nonprofit charity and called it 100 Friends. Two decades later, 100 Friends has some 4,000 members worldwide, and last year Gold raised $200,000. He continues fundraising via his portable office: a laptop, a digital camera, and a cellphone. "This is 80 percent of what I own," Gold says during a stopover in Bangkok, pointing at two duffel bags stuffed with his clothes, dog-eared paperbacks, and his large collection of wacky rubber masks. The latter he uses for clowning around with children from Tibet to Thailand. "I don't need much, and I'm free."
Note: For a great collection of highly inspiring news articles, click here. For a treasure trove of inspiring resources calling us all to our greatness, click here.
The myth of the panicking disaster victim
2011-03-18, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Before the Second World War, the Ministry of War confidently predicted what would happen when London was bombed from the air by Nazi planes. There would be, they warned, "a mass outbreak of hysterical neurosis among the civilian population". The same predictions are made about every disaster – that once the lid of a tightly policed civilization is knocked off for a second, humans will become beasts. But the opposite is the case. It sounds grotesque to say we should see reasons for hope as we watch in real time while the earth is shaken six inches on its axis, tsunamis roar, and nuclear power stations teeter on meltdown. But it is true. From this disaster, we can learn something fundamental about our species. The evidence gathered over centuries of disasters, natural and man-made, is overwhelming. The vast majority of people, when a disaster hits, behave in the aftermath as altruists. They organise spontaneously to save their fellow human beings, to share what they have, and to show kindness. They reveal themselves to be better people than they ever expected. When the social scientist Enrico Quarantelli tried to write a thesis on how people descend into chaos and panic after disasters, he concluded: "My God! I can't find any instances of it." On the contrary, he wrote, in disasters "the social order does not break down... Co-operative rather than selfish behaviour predominates".
Note: For a beautiful example of how people come together to help and support each other in the face of a major crisis, read the inspiring "Letter from Sendai" which has gone viral on the Internet at this link.
Equal Rights Takes to the Barricades
2011-02-01, New York Times
CAIRO — People here are not afraid anymore — and it just may be that a woman helped break that barrier of fear. Asmaa Mahfouz was celebrating her 26th birthday on Tuesday among tens of thousands of Egyptians as they took to the streets, parting with old fears in a bid to end President Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of authoritarian, single-party rule. “As long as you say there is no hope, then there will be no hope, but if you go down and take a stance, then there will be hope.” That was what Ms. Mahfouz had to say in a video she posted online more than two weeks ago. She spoke straight to the camera and held a sign saying she would go out and protest to try to bring down Mr. Mubarak’s regime. It was a woman who dared put a face to the message, unfazed by the possibility of arrest for her defiance. “Do not be afraid,” she said. To her surprise, dozens of other people picked up on the spirit of her message and started to post their own pictures, holding similar signs to their chests that declared their intent to take to the streets. Ms. Mahfouz is one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement, a group of young, Internet-savvy activists who have been credited with a leading role in organizing the mass protests. She uses Facebook and Twitter as convenient methods for organizing and disseminating messages but finds that talking to people face to face is the best way to motivate them. Although it is still overwhelmingly men demonstrating, there is a new quality to the way Egyptians walk the streets now. “Everyone used to say there is no hope, that no one will turn up on the street, that the people are passive,” Ms. Mahfouz said. “But the barrier of fear was broken!”
Note: Watch this video and learn how without this one woman, Mubarak might still be in power. One person can make a huge difference. For powerful and inspiring information on the military/industrial complex and what we can do to make a difference, click here.