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.
India's two political giants were defeated Tuesday by an anti-corruption party led by a former tax inspector. Arvind Kejriwal, a youthful-looking former tax inspector and winner of Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, has pulled off a stunning near-sweep in New Delhi's local elections on Tuesday. The Aam Aadmi, or "Common Man," party won 67 of 70 seats in New Delhi, the largest single victory ever in India's capital. The party's victory also marks the first major loss for the Hindu nationalist BJP party since its own sweep of India last spring, [and] the first time that Congress, the venerable party associated with the liberation movement of Mohandas Gandhi, failed to win a single seat in Delhi. The success of the Common Man party stems from its sustained campaign against corruption combined with a dedicated army of volunteers. Analysts say Kejriwal also benefited from the perceived arrogance or overconfidence of the BJP. Kejriwal existed for years under the political radar in India, surfacing from time to time to take up “transparency” issues like clarifying the Right to Information Act. He was born in 1968 in a middle class family from Haryana state in the north and graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering, moving then to work for the Tata group and then the Indian public tax service. Kejriwal entered politics in 2012 and championed transparency and anti-corruption. He launched a party that brought together activists, youth, and poor people, and his anti-graft ideas caused a stir nationwide. His party’s symbol is a broom, a reference to its origins as an anti-graft campaign group.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The Southern California desert is now home to the world's largest solar power plant. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined state officials on Monday to open the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar project in the town of Desert Center, Calif., near Joshua Tree National Park. Built by First Solar, the project generates enough electricity to power 160,000 average California homes. Desert Sunlight received a federal loan of nearly $1.5 billion. Money provided by the project's owners ... is also being used to fund $400,000 in improvements to the community center in nearby Desert Center. Desert Sunlight is the world's largest solar power plant, although only by a hair. The Topaz solar project in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. — which, like Desert Sunlight, was built by Arizona-based First Solar — also has a capacity of 550 megawatts. But the desert has more abundant sunlight than San Luis Obispo County, so Desert Sunlight will actually generate more electricity than Topaz, said Georges Antoun, First Solar's chief operating officer. California as a whole has installed more renewable energy than any other state, noted David Hochschild, a member of the California Energy Commission. "There were a lot of skeptics who actually didn't believe that renewables could scale, that this cost reduction could happen, that we could introduce it to the grid," Hochschild said. "They've been proven wrong."
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
America is a nation of pavement. According to research conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, most cities’ surfaces are 35 to 50 percent composed of the stuff. And 40 percent of that pavement is parking lots. That has a large effect: Asphalt and concrete absorb the sun’s energy, retaining heat — and contributing to the “urban heat island effect,” in which cities are hotter than the surrounding areas. So what if there were a way to cut down on that heat, cool down the cars that park in these lots, power up those parked cars that are electric vehicles, and generate a lot of energy to boot? There is actually a technology that does all of this — solar carports. It’s just what it sounds like — covering up a parking lot with solar panels, which are elevated above the ground so that cars park in the shade beneath a canopy of photovoltaics. Depending of course on the size of the array, you can generate a lot of power. For instance, one vast solar carport installation at Rutgers University is 28 acres in size and produces 8 megawatts of power, or about enough energy to power 1,000 homes. So what’s the downside here? And why aren’t solar parking lots to be found pretty much everywhere you turn? In a word, the problem is cost. They are mainly springing up in Arizona, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York and most of all California. That’s because these states offer an array of state financial incentives to support their development.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In 2005 Jennifer Pluznick hypothesised that a gene known to play a role in a common form of kidney disease did so by acting as a master switch for other genes. Lab tests supported her theory; however, when she looked at which genes it acted on, she did a double take. Among them were several that encode scent receptors, the chemical sensors that allow us to identify smells. Pluznick has spent the last eight years trying to understand why. Our noses contain hundreds of different scent receptors that allow us to distinguish between odours. These receptors, as well as similar ones usually found on taste buds, crop up all over our bodies. In 2003, bitter taste receptors were found in sperm. The same year Pluznick came across scent receptors in the kidney, biologists at the University of California, San Diego identified sour receptors in the spine. A smattering of papers over the following few years reported sweet taste receptors in the bladder and the gut, bitter taste receptors in the sinuses, airways, pancreas and brain, and scent receptors in muscle tissue. As these findings became public, researchers poured over genomic data and reported that low levels of these receptors occurred in almost every tissue in the body. Their findings suggest that our bodies are “smelling” and “tasting” things deep inside of us, and that these abilities are crucial to our health. What's emerging is a picture of these receptors as a kind of general-purpose chemical sensor. We just happened to come across the receptors in the nose and the mouth first.
Note: The article above provides a detailed look at this revolutionary new area of biological research. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In two separate research findings, scientists have used bacteria in processes that can deliver substantial power when scaled up in the future. While a Sintef team in Norway has a method to deliver purified water, a Missouri researcher has discovered a bacterium that produces hydrogen, the fuel of the future. The Sintef researchers converted waste water into power using bacteria in an entirely natural process that delivers purified water. As the bacteria feed on waste water, they produce electrons and protons and the resulting voltage generates electricity. While the electricity generated is small, it ... is an environmentally friendly process where the end product is purified water. The team plans to scale up the process to generate the power needed for the water purification. "In simple terms, this type of fuel cell works because the bacteria consume the waste materials found in the water," explains Sintef researcher Luis Cesar Colmenares. The challenge was in finding the bacteria most suited for the job and the right mechanism. The researcher at Missouri University of Science and Technology has stumbled upon a bacterium that could help mass-produce hydrogen for fuel cells in the future. The "Halanaerobium hydrogeninformans" bacterium can produce hydrogen under saline and alkaline conditions, better than modified organisms and could be valuable industrially when the process is scaled up. Another end product of the hydrogen process ... finds application in products including composites, adhesives, laminates and coatings.
Bullying is a serious problem. According to Family First Aid, nearly 30 percent of teens in the U.S. are estimated to be in school bullying, whether they're being bullied or doing the bullying. Josh Yandt, who lives in London, Ontario, was no exception. After being bullied for years, he decided to make one simple tweak when he transferred schools: He started opening doors for his classmates. "Not many people hold doors, right? But after that, people started to open up to me. Opening a door is more than a physical act, it’s about putting yourself out there, getting to know people, making them feel comfortable, making them feel welcome. Opening doors gives people hope that people care.” Holding the door for his classmates changed everything for Yandt, and now he has more friends than he can count. “People just love what I do. Every day people always say ‘thank you,’ people smile, and it’s really great,” he told Canada's CBC news as classmates clapped him on the back, said thanks, or gave a hello as they passed by in the hallway. The story doesn't end there. Yandt was crowned prom king, and he's taken on speaking engagements, sharing his story with younger students.
Note: Watch a video of Yandt's inspiring story, and see for yourself how a small change in his habits invited Yandt's peers to open up and treat him with kindness and respect.
At the pinnacle of a dizzying career, Indian-American rapper Nimesh “Nimo” Patel was haunted by an unshakeable sense of emptiness. In his mid-twenties, he abandoned the limelight and found himself meditating. An inner voice nudged him to radically simplify his life and find his purpose in service to others. He moved to the Gandhi Ashram in India and dedicated himself to the children in the surrounding slums. Seven years into his musical hiatus, something inside nudged Nimo to begin writing music again, but this time in a different spirit. Inspired by a global 21-Day Kindness Challenge, Nimo wrote and produced Being Kind. Together with a labor-of-love crew of volunteers, he co-created a zero-budget music video in one week as an offering of gratitude for the 5.9K participants across 98 countries who simultaneously committed to doing a unique act of kindness every day for 21 days in the spirit of “being the change” they wish to see in the world. A month and a half later, he did it again with Grateful, a musical offering inspired by the 11.5K participants and their small acts throughout the 21-Day Gratitude Challenge. Nimo has most recently embarked on a pilgrimage to bridge music, love and selfless service, through Empty Hands Music. As 14-year-old [Empty Hands volunteer] Priyanka puts it, “We are so, so busy behind getting money, behind getting power, that we forget why we are here. But that joy of spreading kindness, of spreading gratitude, is something that we will keep in our mind and heart until the time we die.”
Note: Watch the inspiring music video by Nimo titled "Keep Loving: A Universal Love Song."
Sometimes people laugh when Zac Bookman tells them what his company, OpenGov does. Not out of mockery. Out of disbelief that a website — or, really, anything — can make it easier to track how the government spends trillions of dollars of their tax money. Users [of OpenGov] can easily share what they find with friends — or push back on government officials to question their spending. Still, Bookman hears doubters. Cynicism runs deep, especially when it involves government becoming more transparent. Bookman ... understands their skepticism. People have lost faith in government officials to improve their lives. “People don’t think of (government) as an industry, but it is,” said Bookman, whom Ronnie Lott nominated for the first Chronicle and St. Mary’s College Visionary of the Year award. “Our software allows you to see where the money goes.” $7 trillion in public dollars ... flows through federal, state and local government entities, from big cities to mosquito abatement districts. Much of it is hidden in plain sight, virtually inaccessible to the public because of user-unfriendly tech interfaces. But now more than 250 government organizations are using [OpenGov], including the city of Los Angeles. There is a bipartisan appeal to this sort of transparency. Conservatives like it because it helps to highlight where to cut government fat, while liberals buy into it because this sort of tool can quantify the value of government services. OpenGov is attempting to ... make this very complex data usable by people who are not financial experts.
Thousands of Croats will see their debts written-off on Monday as part of an attempt to boost the economy by helping households to regain access to basic facilities including bank accounts. The scheme, which has been dubbed "fresh start", will see the debts of around 60,000 citizens erased by banks, telecoms and utilities operators as part of a deal with the government. Around 2.1bn kuna (Ł20m) worth of bad debts are expected to be written off by creditors who have signed up to the scheme. None will be refunded for their losses. Qualifying households must have debts lower than 35,000 kuna (Ł3,500), and their monthly income should not be higher than 1,250 kuna. Croats who own property or have any savings will not benefit from the deal. "Some 60,000 citizens ... will be given a chance for a new start without a burden of debt," said Milanka Opacic, Croatia's deputy prime minister. The program will give 20pc of the 317,000 Croatians whose accounts were frozen in July last year due to bad debts access to their accounts again. "This is the first time that any (Croatian) government tries to solve this difficult problem and we are proud of it," Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told a cabinet session. The deal will be noted in Greece, where the new Syriza government is trying to renegotiate the terms of its multi billion euro bail-out.
The Vatican will offer homeless people in Rome not only showers but also haircuts and shaves when new facilities open next month, the head of Pope Francis' charity office said. The Vatican announced last year that it would provide shower facilities in St Peter's Square for homeless people. Bishop Konrad Krajewski told the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire on Thursday that it would also offer haircuts and shaves when the services start on Feb. 16 in an area under the colonnade of the square. Krajewski, whose official title is the pope's almoner, said barbers and hairdressers would volunteer their services on Mondays, the day their shops are traditionally closed in Italy. They had already donated chairs, hair-cutting instruments, and mirrors, the newspaper's website said. Krajewski came up with the idea of building showers in St. Peter's Square last year after a homeless person told him that while it was relatively easy to find places to eat at Rome charities, it was difficult to find places to wash. He immediately received the pope's backing for the shower project and then expanded it to include haircuts and shaves.
In the United States, there is one state, and only one state, where every single resident and business receives electricity from a community-owned institution rather than a for-profit corporation. Nebraska ... has embraced the complete socialization of energy distribution. The Nebraska Power Association proudly proclaims, “Our electric prices do not include a profit. That means Nebraska’s utilities can focus exclusively on keeping electric rates low and customer service high. Our customers, not big investors in New York and Chicago, own Nebraska’s utilities.” Nebraska has a long history of publicly owned power systems. However, in the post-World War I era, large corporate electric holding companies backed by Wall Street banks entered the market and began taking over. Tired of abusive corporate practices, in 1930 residents and advocates of publicly owned utilities took a revenue bond financing proposal straight to the voters, bypassing the corporate-influenced legislature which had previously failed to pass similar legislation. It was approved overwhelmingly. By 1949, Nebraska had solidified its status as the first and only all-public power state. Nebraska’s nearly 100-year-old experience with a completely public and community-owned electricity system demonstrates that ... the principles of subsidiarity and local control can, in fact, be preserved through a networked mix of publicly owned institutions at various scales without sacrificing efficiency or service quality.
Narayanan Krishnan was a bright, young, award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. But a quick family visit home [to the south Indian city of Madurai] before heading to Europe changed everything. "I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food," Krishnan said. "After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime." Krishnan quit his job within the week and returned home for good, convinced of his new destiny. "That spark and that inspiration is a driving force still inside me as a flame -- to serve all the mentally ill destitutes and people who cannot take care of themselves." Krishnan founded his nonprofit Akshaya Trust in 2003. Now 29, he has served more than 1.2 million meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- to India's homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people abandoned by their families and often abused. The hot meals he delivers are simple, tasty vegetarian fare he personally prepares, packs and often hand-feeds to nearly 400 clients each day. The group's operations cost about $327 a day, but sponsored donations only cover 22 days a month. Krishnan subsidizes the shortfall with $88 he receives in monthly rent from a home his grandfather gave him. Krishnan sleeps in Akshaya's modest kitchen with his few co-workers.
By Tanzanian standards, Nosim Noah is not poor. A tall, handsome woman with the angular features of her fellow Masai tribe members, Ms. Noah makes a good living selling women’s and children’s clothes. But despite their relative prosperity, up until late 2013, the family had no electricity. Now, however, [they have power because] a new solar energy movement is bringing kilowatts to previously unlit areas of Africa – and changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The idea behind the latest effort isn’t to tap the power of the sun to electrify every appliance in a household. Instead, it is to install a small solar panel not much bigger than an iPad to power a few lights, a cellphone charger, and other basic necessities that can still significantly alter people’s lives. People use the money they normally would spend on kerosene to finance their solar systems, allowing them to pay in small, affordable installments and not rely on government help. The concept is called pay-as-you-go solar. When [Noah] and her late husband moved into their house in 2004, they paid about a $200 connection fee to TANESCO, the Tanzanian national utility, to extend a power line to their home. After a six-month wait, workers finally erected a utility pole outside their home. But the power never came. “I have no idea why it didn’t work,” Noah says. “All I know is that the lights never came on.” They have power now, though, with the help of the sun.
You might have heard probiotic bacteria help keep your gut healthy, but could they be good for your brain, too? A study out this week suggests the answer is yes, at least for mice, because mice on a probiotic diet for a couple of weeks were more relaxed than their counterparts who were not. They showed fewer visible signs of anxiety, lower levels of stress hormones, even chemical changes in the brain. Sounds a little like valium, doesn't it? Other than signals telling you when you're hungry or full, what connection is there between the intestinal tract and the brain? And why would it be there? It's been long known that the brain and the gut communicate. What's becoming clearer over the last while is that this brain-gut communication [is] bidirectional, [and that the microbial] flora within the gut can actually also play an important part in regulating this. So we can now describe what we call the microbial gut-brain axis, and this is coming across in a whole variety of studies in [many new and] different ways. We've known for a long time that if you're feeling sick, or you've got a bad bacteria, like a food poisoning, the [vagus] nerve will signal to the brain to allow you express the sickness behavior. So it's kind of like the good side of what we've already known. We were able to get such a pronounced effect, and similar effects as if the animals had been given some pharmaceutical agents that are used to treat anxiety and depression.
Note: The above is a summary of an NPR interview with John Cryan, discussing findings published in PNAS by his research team. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Parkinson’s [is] a movement disorder that causes tremors, stiffness and balance problems. A 2008 meta-analysis found that placebos used in clinical trials of Parkinson’s treatments improved symptoms by an average of 16%. [A] team from the University of Cincinnati ... had a hunch that patients would be more responsive to a fake drug they thought was real if it came with a heftier price tag. So they recruited 12 patients with “moderately advanced” Parkinson’s and asked them to participate in a clinical trial. The study volunteers were told that there were two versions of the experimental drug and that both were believed to work equally well, [but] one version cost 15 times more than the other. In reality, both placebos were composed of the exact same saline solution. And yet, the patients perceived the expensive version to be more effective than the cheaper one, according to results published Wednesday in the journal Neurology. Both of the placebos improved motor function compared with a base line test. But when patients got the $1,500-per-dose placebo, their improvement was 9% greater than when they got the $100-per-dose placebo, the researchers reported. In another test, 67% of the patients were judged “very good” or having “marked improvement” after they took the expensive placebo, compared with 58% of patients after they took the purportedly cheap placebo.
Note: Even 58% experiencing "marked improvement" on the cheaper placebo is quite impressive! Why aren't more studies being done on the amazing and powerful affects of the placebo? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
At Seeds of Peace, we bring kids from conflict zones together to learn to see each other and their differences in a new light. Now, our first generation of alumni are emerging as leaders. Case studies of conflict areas, including Northern Ireland and South Africa, have shown that progress toward peace does not typically result from one action or initiative; rather it is many activities on many levels that ultimately bring about change. In each case, strong leaders working across sectors have helped take incremental steps toward change even during the most difficult times. Our 5,061 graduates are positioned to play just that role. A team of our graduates in Pakistan and India has set out to change the way that people living in conflict learn history. During their Seeds of Peace dialogue encounters, they realized that they were being taught wildly different versions of the same shared historical events. This inspired them to create a textbook that, for the first time, juxtaposes their countriesâ€™ competing historical narratives. They have since led workshops for more than 600 Indian and Pakistani students, and their online curriculum has received more than 1 million views. Young leaders like these directly link what they do in their personal and professional lives to their experiences with Seeds of Peace: engaging with the â€śOther,â€ť recognizing their leadership potential, and gaining a commitment to peace at a young age.
Note: The complete article above contains several inspiring stories about Seeds of Peace's incredible programs.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using [a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing] to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges. The program has enabled local and state police to make seizures and then have them â€śadoptedâ€ť by federal agencies, which share in the proceeds. It allowed police ... to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of adopted seizures. Since 2001, about 7,600 of the nationâ€™s 18,000 police departments and task forces have participated in Equitable Sharing. For hundreds of police departments and sheriffâ€™s offices, the seizure proceeds accounted for 20 percent or more of their annual budgets in recent years. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security paid private firms millions to train local and state officers in the techniques of an aggressive brand of policing [that] emphasized the importance of targeting cash. Most of the money and property taken under Equitable Sharing since 2008 â€” $3 billion out of $5.3 billion â€” was not seized in collaboration with federal authorities. The Treasury Department is also changing its asset forfeiture program to follow the same guideline included in Holderâ€™s order, the statement said.
Note: While civil asset forfeiture may remain common in some U.S. states, Holder's announcement means that police can no longer pad their departmental budgets with this federal program. A Washington Post investigation and an Institute for Justice Study were instrumental in exposing this program's corrupting influence.
A local cafe [in Oakland, CA] serves up cappuccinos, teas and lattes alongside a variety of pastry delights. And there in this comfortable and sprawling space filled with armchairs and rugs are the cats. There are all sorts of cats â€” orange, black, gray, shorthairs, longhairs, big and small. And what they all have in common is that theyâ€™re available for adoption. The Cat Town Cafe is the first permanent cat cafe to open in the United States. Patrons ... adopted 32 cats in [the first] 15 days. Other cities are following suit. Temporary, pop-up cat cafes have appeared in Los Angeles and New York, and efforts are under way to establish permanent businesses in San Francisco, San Diego and Denver. Cat Town has become so popular so quickly that reservations are required just to get in the door on weekends. [Co-founder Ann] Dunn, a former volunteer at the Oakland Animal Shelter, ran a private cat rescue operation for three years before starting the business. During that time, she saved more than 650 cats, she said. All the animals at the cafe are brought from the cityâ€™s animal shelter â€” and for them, itâ€™s a second chance at life. Dunn and Myatt started the cafe as a way to save more cats because a trip to the animal shelter to adopt a pet can be a downright depressing experience. The cat cafe has created an instant buzz among Bay Area cat lovers. â€śWeâ€™re creating a cat community, and itâ€™s exciting to watch it unfold.â€ť
What's more adorable than a puppy? A life-saving puppy, of course. That's especially true of the pup named Kyrachaan, who rescued Karina Chikitova, a 3-year-old girl from northeast Russia's Sakha Republic. Thanks to her dog, Chikitova is recovering safely after spending 11 days in the Siberian wilderness. Kyrachaan, meaning "little one," was with Chikitova when she got lost and is believed to have cuddled with the girl at night to keep her warm. After nine days, the dog went in search of help. The Siberian Times reports that the young girl ended up in the remote area after wandering away from home in search of her father, who had left for a nearby village. As a result, her mother -- believing Karina to have gone with her father -- didn't realize the girl was lost in the woods. Karina survived on wild berries and river water and seems to have escaped any run-ins with the bears and wolves inhabiting the area. According to the Toronto Sun, the girl "looked surprisingly well" when rescuers showed up, having followed the puppy to her hiding spot in a large tuft of grass. The girl was taken to a hospital to recover.
The Empowerment Plan began in 2010 as an idea to fulfill Veronika Scott’s assignment for her product-design class at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. “We had to design something that could actually happen,” Scott, 22, of Detroit said. Scott’s product was a coat that transformed into a sleeping bag for the homeless population of Detroit. The latest design ... can be rolled up and turned into a shoulder bag for the warmer months. After her class ended, Scott [continued to work] with the homeless at the shelter Neighborhood Service Organization in Detroit to develop the first prototype. Scott said the coat was initially meant to offer comfort and pride for the homeless, but one homeless woman’s words changed that. “She said, ‘Your coats don’t matter, jobs matter. We need jobs, not coats,’” Scott said. “It was then about who I could employ.” The Empowerment Plan [now] employs 13 former and current homeless people to manufacture its coats, [and] only hires homeless single parents without a violent crime record. Employees are paid well above the minimum wage in Michigan and are given microloans. The coats are not only ordered by nonprofit organizations for free distribution to the homeless, but are also used by the Red Cross for disaster relief. With the help of donations ... the Empowerment Plan plans to create 4,000 coats this year. Scott said that she wants the Empowerment Plan to be a model for U.S. humane manufacturing.
Note: Don't miss the inspiring three-minute video of this courageous woman which shows how one person can make a big change.