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Inspiring News Stories
Excerpts of Highly Inspiring News Stories in Major Media



Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news stories reported in the major media. Links are provided to the original stories on their major media websites. If any link fails to function, click here. These inspiring news stories are listed with the stories most recently posted to the website listed first. For the same list with the most inspiring stories listed first, click here. For a concise list providing headlines and links to a number of highly inspiring articles and stories, click here. 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.


Note: This comprehensive list of inspiring news stories is usually updated once a week. For an index to revealing excerpts of news stories on several dozen engaging topics, click here.

'The Loving Couple' review: interracial pioneers
2012-02-14, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2012-02-21 11:16:14
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/02/13/DDB21N64OU.DTL

It took until 2000 for Alabama to repeal the last remaining law in the country banning "mixed marriages" despite a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1967 declaring all such legislation unconstitutional. At the time of that ruling, 16 states banned interracial marriage. The landmark decision, Loving vs. Virginia, came about because a young couple in Virginia's rural Caroline County decided to get married. In Nancy Buirski's stunning documentary "The Loving Couple," ... the love of two people and their steadfast refusal to bow to a 1924 law they ... believed was unfair brought an end to one of the most heinous holdovers of the Jim Crow era in American history. Richard Loving was a taciturn guy with a crew cut whom one of his lawyers would uncritically describe as a "redneck." In June 1958, he and Mildred Jeter, a sweet-faced young woman of African American and American Indian ancestry, traveled to Washington, D.C., to get married. After they got married, the local Virginia sheriff arrested them for breaking the commonwealth's 1924 Racial Integrity Act. The couple's yearlong sentence was suspended on the condition that they leave the state and never return. In 1963 - the same year as the historic civil rights march on Washington - two young American Civil Liberties Union attorneys appealed the Lovings' conviction in Virginia state court. Eventually, the case wound up at the Supreme Court and, in a unanimous 1967 decision authored by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the court ruled in the Lovings' favor.

Note: Remember that 200 years ago most people still supported slavery. 100 years ago most men believed women did not deserve the right to vote. 50 years ago interracial marriage was considered by many a sin. Over the long term, humanity is growing ever more tolerant and compassionate.




After Recess: Change the World
2012-02-05, New York Times
Posted: 2012-02-14 15:35:23
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/kristof-after-recess-change-...

A battle between a class of fourth graders and a major movie studio would seem an unequal fight. So it proved to be: the studio buckled. And therein lies a story of how new Internet tools are allowing very ordinary people to defeat some of the most powerful corporate and political interests around — by threatening the titans with the online equivalent of a tarring and feathering. Take Ted Wells’s fourth-grade class in Brookline, Mass. The kids read the Dr. Seuss story “The Lorax” and admired its emphasis on protecting nature, so they were delighted to hear that Universal Studios would be releasing a movie version in March. But when the kids went to the movie’s Web site, they were crushed that the site seemed to ignore the environmental themes. So last month they started a petition on Change.org, the go-to site for Web uprisings. They demanded that Universal Studios “let the Lorax speak for the trees.” The petition went viral, quickly gathering more than 57,000 signatures, and the studio updated the movie site with the environmental message that the kids had dictated. “It was exactly what the kids asked for — the kids were through the roof,” Wells [said], recalling the celebratory party that the children held during their snack break. “These kids are really feeling the glow of making the world a better place. They’re feeling that power.” Change.org has grown from 20 employees a year ago to 100 now, in offices on four continents.

Note: Never doubt that a small group of committed people can make a big difference. For lots more inspiring new articles like this, click here.




Every sunrise a painting: Brain-tumor survivor’s daily ritual
2012-02-01, MSNBC Today
Posted: 2012-02-14 15:33:38
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/46155422/ns/today-today_people

No two sunrises are ever the same. Each day’s spectacle in the sky is altered by particles in the atmosphere, the tilt of the Earth, the lengths of different waves of light. Debbie Wagner knows this better than almost anyone else. With earnest devotion, she has risen in the darkness more than 2,200 times so she could observe and paint the sunrise. She’s rarely missed a morning since December 2005. “As a brain-tumor survivor, I lost so many of the loves I had, like reading and writing and mathematics,” said Wagner, 56, who had two cancerous, pear-sized tumors removed from her brain in separate surgeries in 2002. “My visual journal became essential to my attitude for the day. When I look at a sunrise, it represents a new beginning. I’m just so happy to be here another day and see my kids do different things and go to dinner with my husband. I suppose that’s the addiction of it — it puts me in a state of mind focused on gratitude. You go through this mourning-type period of sadness, and then you realize that you’re a different person and you have to redefine,” Wagner said. “My husband jokes, ‘Well, I’ve gotten to be married to two different women without having to get divorced!’ ” Her brain tumors and surgeries may have robbed Wagner of much, but they also gave in unexpected ways: She said she wound up experiencing a heightened visual perceptiveness and an irresistible pull toward art. “I started painting pretty much right away, maybe five or six months after my surgeries,” she said. “It just happened. I had to express myself.”

Note: To learn more about artist Debbie Wagner and see additional examples of her sunrise paintings, visit her website. And for lots more inspiring new articles like this, click here.




Could A Club Drug Offer 'Almost Immediate' Relief From Depression?
2012-01-30, NPR blog
Posted: 2012-02-07 16:54:36
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/01/30/145992588/could-a-club-drug-offer-...

Traditional antidepressants like Prozac work on a group of chemical messengers in the brain called the serotonin system. Researchers once thought that a lack of serotonin was the cause of depression, and that these drugs worked simply by boosting serotonin levels. Recent research suggests a more complicated explanation. Serotonin drugs work by stimulating the birth of new neurons, which eventually form new connections in the brain. Ketamine, in contrast, activates a different chemical system in the brain – the glutamate system. Researcher Ron Duman at Yale thinks ketamine rapidly increases the communication among existing neurons by creating new connections. This is a quicker process than waiting for new neurons to form and accomplishes the same goal of enhancing brain circuit activity. Ketamine has been used for decades as an anesthetic. It also has become a wildly popular but illegal club drug known as "Special K." Mental health researchers got interested in ketamine because of reports that it could make depression vanish almost instantly. Carlos Zarate ... does ketamine research at the NIH. Zarate says patients typically say, "'I feel that something's lifted or feel that I've never been depressed in my life. I feel I can work. I feel I can contribute to society.' And it was a different experience from feeling high. This was feeling that something has been removed."

Note: For many inspiring potential treatment breakthroughs in health issues, click here.




I believe in Tim Tebow
2012-01-13, ESPN
Posted: 2012-01-31 15:19:24
http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/7455943/believing-tim-tebow

I've come to believe in [NFL star] Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am. Who among us is this selfless? Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts. Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat. This whole thing makes no football sense, of course. Most NFL players hardly talk to teammates before a game, much less visit with the sick and dying. Isn't that a huge distraction? "Just the opposite," Tebow says. "It's by far the best thing I do to get myself ready. Here you are, about to play a game that the world says is the most important thing in the world. Win and they praise you. Lose and they crush you. And here I have a chance to talk to the coolest, most courageous people. It puts it all into perspective. The game doesn't really matter. I mean, I'll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it's to invest in people's lives, to make a difference."




Homicide Drops off US List of Top Causes of Death
2012-01-11, ABC News/Associated Press
Posted: 2012-01-17 15:33:43
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/murder-top-death-45-yrs-15339670#.TxMN...

For the first time in almost half a century, homicide has fallen off the list of the nation's top 15 causes of death. The 2010 list, released by the government [on January 11], reflects at least two major trends: Murders are down, and deaths from certain diseases are on the rise as the population ages, health authorities said. This is the first time since 1965 that homicide failed to make the list, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The government has been keeping a list of the top causes of death since 1949. Homicide has historically ranked fairly low. It was as high as 10th in 1989 and in 1991 through 1993, when the nation saw a surge in youth homicides related to the crack epidemic. In the past decade, homicide's highest ranking was 13th. That was in 2001 and was due in part to the 9/11 attacks. Murders have been declining nationally since 2006, according to FBI statistics. Criminologists have debated the reasons but believe several factors may be at work. Among them: Abusive relationships don't end in murder as often as they once did, thanks to increased incarcerations and better, earlier support for victims. "We've taken the home out of homicide," said James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminologist who studies murder data.

Note: For lots more inspiring, yet little-reported news on the major drop in violent crimes (over 60%) in the last two decades, click here.




Travelwise: Bike sharing around the world
2011-09-09, BBC
Posted: 2012-01-17 15:24:28
http://www.bbc.com/travel/blog/20110909-travelwise-bike-sharing-around-the-world

Bike sharing is on the verge of becoming an integral part of public transportation in cities across the globe. This system of impromptu bike renting is helping urban areas reduce automotive traffic and pollution while providing locals and tourists with a convenient, cheap and healthy means of transport. Currently, there are nearly 300 organized bike sharing programs worldwide. That number is growing – and not just in the West. In India, for example, the Ministry of Urban Development is preparing to launch a 10-city public bike scheme as part of its “Mission for Sustainable Habitat”. So how does bike sharing work? In most cities, visitors can purchase short-term subscriptions at bike stations themselves. Just walk up to a station’s electronic kiosk, choose the duration for which you need access to the service, and swipe your credit card. With more than 50,000 bikes and 2,050 bike stations, the Chinese city of Hangzhou is home to the world’s largest bike sharing program. Bike sharing is well integrated with other forms of public transport, with bike stations available near bus and water taxi stops.

Note: For more on this encouraging development, click here.




Two Degrees energy bars support famine relief
2012-01-13, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2012-01-17 15:16:31
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/13/BUPV1MN09D.DTL

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.




Street Farmer
2009-07-05, New York Times
Posted: 2012-01-17 15:15:01
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/05/magazine/05allen-t.html?pagewanted=all

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)
Posted: 2012-01-10 13:02:48
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/01/05/wild-old-women-close-san-francisc...

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.




'Mother Robin' delivers for poor women in Indonesia
2011-03-10, CNN
Posted: 2012-01-10 12:50:42
http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/10/cnnheroes.lim.midwife/index.html

Two women ... waited all night for a chance to see their newborn babies, whom the hospital is holding until the medical bills are paid in full. "Holding babies until payment is common in Indonesia," said Robin Lim, a midwife who founded birthing clinics in Aceh and the island of Bali. "Mother Robin," or "Ibu Robin" as she is called by the locals, is working to change that with her Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth Foundation) health clinics. These birthing sanctuaries offer free prenatal care, birthing services and medical aid to anyone who needs it. And the needs are vast in Indonesia. The average family earns the equivalent of $8 a day, according to the International Monetary Fund, but a normal hospital delivery without complications costs around $70. Working as a midwife in Indonesia was not something Lim, a U.S. citizen and author of many books related to infant and maternal health, planned for her life. But after several personal tragedies, her life shifted in a new direction. "In the span of a year, I lost my best friend and one of the midwives who delivered my child," said Lim, who has eight children. "My sister also died as a complication of her third pregnancy, and so did her baby. I was crushed, just crushed. But I decided not to get angry. I decided to become part of the solution. If I could help even one family prevent the loss of a mother or a child, I would do that. I would dedicate my life to it."

Note: Check out the Bumi Sehat Foundation website at www.bumisehatbali.org and see how to help.




60 Years After Leaving, Porpoises Again Play In SF Bay
2011-12-28, NPR
Posted: 2012-01-03 18:02:19
http://www.npr.org/2011/12/28/143857342/60-years-after-leaving-porpoises-agai...

Something that has been missing from San Francisco Bay since World War II appears to be making a comeback: Harbor porpoises are showing up in growing numbers, and researchers are trying to understand why they're returning. Bill Keener ... is with Golden Gate Cetacean Research, a nonprofit group focused on studying local porpoises, whales and dolphins. Harbor porpoises, ... feeding in the middle of a busy shipping lane, spin as they go after schools of herring and anchovies. Seeing this behavior is huge for Keener because harbor porpoises are notoriously shy in the open ocean. But the fact that they're here at all is what's most remarkable. Keener and his colleagues have identified 250 porpoises with their photos by looking for unique scars on the animals. The big question, though, is why harbor porpoises disappeared in the first place. Keener says the bay has always been porpoise habitat. Sightings were common until the 1930s. "There were a lot of things going on during World War II that could have caused [the decline]," he says. Water quality has dramatically improved since the 1970s, which may be bringing the porpoises back.

Note: For fascinating reports from major media sources on the amazing capacities of marine mammals, as well as threats to their well-being from human activities, click here.




Sentenced to Serving the Good Life in Norway
2010-07-12, Time Magazine
Posted: 2012-01-03 17:52:38
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2000920,00.html

On Bastoy, an island 46 miles south of Oslo, [125] residents live in brightly colored wooden chalets, spread over one square mile of forest and gently sloping hills. They go horseback riding and throw barbecues, and have access to a movie theater, tanning bed and, during winter, two ski jumps. Despite all its trappings, Bastoy island isn't an exclusive resort: it's a prison. Bastoy's governor ... describes it as the world's first human-ecological prison — a place where inmates learn to take responsibility for their actions by caring for the environment. Prisoners grow their own organic vegetables, turn their garbage into compost and tend to chickens, cows, horses and sheep. The prison generally emphasizes trust and self-regulation: Bastoy has no fences, the windows have no bars, and only five guards remain on the island after 3 p.m. In an age when countries from Britain to the U.S. cope with exploding prison populations by building ever larger — and, many would say, ever harsher — prisons, Bastoy seems like an unorthodox, even bizarre, departure. But Norwegians see the island as the embodiment of their country's long-standing penal philosophy: that traditional, repressive prisons do not work, and that treating prisoners humanely boosts their chances of reintegrating into society. Norway's system produces overwhelmingly positive results. Within two years of their release, 20% of Norway's prisoners end up back in jail. In the U.K. and the U.S., the figure hovers between 50% and 60%. Of course, Norway's ... prison roll lists a mere 3,300 inmates, a rate of 70 per 100,000 people, compared with 2.3 million in the U.S., or 753 per 100,000 — the highest rate in the world.

Note: Why aren't other countries taking heed of Norway's excellent example? Part of the reason is that some companies make massive profits from the prison system. For more on this, click here.




Japanese mothers rise up against nuclear power
2011-12-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2011-12-27 11:21:48
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/dec/22/japanese-mothers-rise-nucle...

Japan's nuclear power industry, which once ignored opposition, now finds its existence threatened by women angered by official [secrecy] on radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. More than 100 anti-nuclear demonstrators, most of them women, met with officials of the Nuclear Safety Commission this week and handed over a statement calling for a transparent investigation into the accident and a permanent shutdown of all nuclear power plants. Groups of women, braving a cold winter, have been setting up tents since last week preparing for a new sit-in campaign in front of the ministry of economic affairs. The women have pledged to continue their demonstration for 10 months and 10 days, traditionally reckoned in Japan as a full term that covers a pregnancy. "Our protests are aimed at achieving a rebirth in Japanese society," said Chieko Shina, a participant, and a grandmother from Fukushima. "The ongoing demonstrations symbolise the determination of ordinary people who do not want nuclear power because it is dangerous. There is also the bigger message that we do not trust the government any more," said Takanobu Kobayashi, who manages the Matsudo network of citizens' movements. Distrust stems primarily from the fact that the meltdown of the Fukushima reactors was not reported to the public immediately, causing huge health risks to the local population from radiation leaks.

Note: For lots more on corporate and government corruption from reliable sources, click here and here.




Meet Salt Lake City’s young secret Santa
2011-12-20, Salt Lake City Tribune
Posted: 2011-12-27 10:59:34
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/neighborhoodcity/53132506-135/jocelyn-lake-salt-...

For the second straight Christmas, a philanthropist from Utah’s Capitol Hill has been warming the hearts of the homeless and brightening the smiles of hundreds of their children. The [benefactress] works year-round raising money, networking with businesses, buying and wrapping gifts, and encouraging random residents to pitch in with presents the underprivileged kids otherwise would never see. Jocelyn Hanrath, an adopted girl too humble to take any credit, is 13. Jocelyn, with help from her mother, April Hanrath, and donations from the community, will deliver Christmas to 138 people this holiday. Most are children and single mothers. “I just think about Christmas Day, when all the kids open their presents and see that they actually got something,” Jocelyn says. “I just feel that I was happy to help. When the moms get what they want, I just feel really happy inside.” Jocelyn stockpiles used bicycles and then has them repaired. She works odd jobs from baby-sitting to cleaning houses and pulling weeds to earn cash for toy shopping. All this while soaring on the honor roll at the Salt Lake Arts Academy and as goalkeeper for the traveling La Roca Premier soccer team, an Olympic developmental club. “I always thought that, if we didn’t do it, who will?” she says about the charitable work.




Three women jointly receive Nobel Peace Prize
2011-12-10, CNN
Posted: 2011-12-20 17:30:01
http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/10/world/europe/norway-nobel-peace-prize/index.html

Women's rights took center stage Saturday at the Nobel ceremonies as three women recognized for their struggles against the backdrops of the Arab Spring and democratic progress in Africa accepted this year's peace prize. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Leymah Gbowee, a social worker and peace campaigner from the same country, shared the prize with Tawakkul Karman, an activist and journalist who this year played a key opposition role in Yemen. The three were chosen for their non-violent struggle against injustice, sexual violence and repression. All three women dedicated their remarks to women struggling for equal rights around the world. Crediting women with ending the conflict and challenging the dictatorship of former President Charles Taylor, [Sirleaf] declared a zero-tolerance policy against corruption and made education compulsory and free for all primary-age children. Gbowee, 39, led a women's movement that protested the use of rape and child soldiers in Liberia's civil war. She mobilized hundreds of women to force delegates at 2003 peace talks to sign a treaty -- at one point calling for a "sex strike" until demands were met. Karman, 32, ... founded the rights group Women Journalists without Chains, and emerged as a key figure in protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime.




Santa gets help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers’ layaway accounts
2011-12-15, Washington Post/Associated Press
Posted: 2011-12-20 17:28:46
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/at-kmart-stores-santa-gets-help-anonym...

The young father stood in line at the Kmart layaway counter, wearing dirty clothes and worn-out boots. With him were three small children. He asked to pay something on his bill because he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford it all before Christmas. Then a mysterious woman stepped up to the counter. “She told him, ‘No, I’m paying for it,’” recalled Edna Deppe, assistant manager at the store in Indianapolis. “He just stood there and looked at her and then looked at me and asked if it was a joke. I told him it wasn’t, and that she was going to pay for him. And he just busted out in tears.” At Kmart stores across the country, Santa seems to be getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers’ layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn’t afford, especially toys and children’s clothes set aside by impoverished parents. Before she left the store Tuesday evening, the Indianapolis woman in her mid-40s had paid the layaway orders for as many as 50 people. On the way out, she handed out $50 bills and paid for two carts of toys for a woman in line at the cash register. “She was doing it in the memory of her husband who had just died, and she ... wanted to make people happy with it,” Deppe said. The woman did not identify herself and only asked people to “remember Ben,” an apparent reference to her husband.




India Eye Care Center Finds Middle Way To Capitalism
2011-11-29, NPR
Posted: 2011-12-13 09:54:56
http://www.npr.org/2011/11/29/142526263/india-eye-care-center-finds-middle-wa...

[Aravind Eye Care System] began modestly in 1976 with an 11-bed hospital. [It] now has 4,000 beds in seven hospitals, most in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It was late founder Dr. G. Venkataswamy's goal to eliminate needless blindness. About 45 million people in the world are blind. About 80 percent of them could be cured through surgery. Dr. "V," as he is known, founded the organization on a deep belief in the spirituality of service. R.D. Thulasiraj, a top Aravind official, says that early on the organization embraced the simple idea that if it wanted to have a real impact in reducing blindness, its surgeons needed to work as efficiently as possible. That attention to process has made Aravind surgeons quite possibly the most productive in the world. In total, the number of sight-restoring eye surgeries that Aravind Eye Care System conducts each year is 300,000 — and about half, or nearly half, are free. The push for more efficiency forces down the average cost of a surgery for Aravind. But that doesn't mean quality is sacrificed. Aravind surgeons have just half the number of complications that the British health system has for the same procedure. That high quality allows Aravind to attract patients who are willing to pay market rates. Then it takes the large profit made on those surgeries to fund free and subsidized surgeries for poor people.

Note: For the inspiring review of an excellent book written on this amazing service to humankind, click here.




Are We Getting Nicer?
2011-11-24, New York Times
Posted: 2011-12-06 11:35:52
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/opinion/kristof-are-we-getting-nicer.html

It's pretty easy to conclude that the world is spinning down the toilet. Despite the gloomy mood, the historical backdrop is stunning progress in human decency over recent centuries. War is declining, and humanity is becoming less violent, less racist and less sexist — and this moral progress has accelerated in recent decades. To put it bluntly, we humans seem to be getting nicer. That's the central theme of an astonishingly good book just published by Steven Pinker, a psychology professor at Harvard. It's called The Better Angels of Our Nature. [Pinker] acknowledges, "In a century that began with 9/11, Iraq and Darfur, the claim that we are living in an unusually peaceful time may strike you as somewhere between hallucinatory and obscene." Still, even in a 20th century notorious for world war and genocide, only around 3% of humans died from such manmade catastrophes. In the 17th century, the Thirty Years' War reduced Germany's population by as much as one-third. Wars make headlines, but there are fewer conflicts today, and they typically don't kill as many people. Many scholars have made that point, most notably Joshua S Goldstein in his recent book, Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide. Look also at homicide rates, which are now far lower than in previous centuries.

Note: For more great research showing that long-term, we are becoming nicer and more civilized, click here.




Homeless man's decision to return $3,300 changed his life
2011-11-30, USA Today
Posted: 2011-12-06 11:34:32
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/11/life-turns-ar...

About a year ago, a homeless man in Arizona found a bag full of cash and made a fateful decision: He returned it. 49-year-old Dave Tally of Tempe ... was in debt, unemployed and had lost his driver's license for DUI violations. Homeless, he was sleeping on a mat in a church-based homeless shelter when he found $3,300 in a backpack at a local light-rail station. That could have gotten Tally out of his hole, but he decided that was the wrong thing to do. Instead, he tracked down the owner of the cash, a college kid named Bryan Berlanger who had planned to use the money to buy a car to replace one he'd lost in an accident. When word got out that Tally had turned in the cash instead of keeping it, the national media came looking for him. Donations poured in, and Tally suddenly found himself with $10,000. But he was determined not to fritter it away. He began paying off his bills, clearing up his driving record, and taking the long road back. He even moved into a no-frills apartment across from the shelter as "a reminder of where I've been and where I'm not going back again." One year later, Tally has landed his "dream job," managing a community garden. Recently ... Tally started overseeing an internship program that allows people who are homeless to volunteer in the garden. But he doesn't preach to anyone. "I let them know that when they're ready to make changes, it's possible," he says.





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