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.
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.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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.
Life -- indeed, survival -- was always difficult for 8-year-old Justus Uwayesu. During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Justus' father was executed for being born into a family whose identity cards had the Tutsi box arbitrarily checked. His mother vanished shortly thereafter. By the time Justus was 8, he [was living] in the garbage dump for Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. One Sunday ... a taxi [rattled down the dusty road] transporting Clare Effiong, a visitor from the U.S. She was on a mission, "letting the Spirit lead" in a way that causes many to feel very uncomfortable and even suspicious. Through an interpreter Clare ... asked little Justus [what he wanted]. He said, "I want to go to school." Clare drove Justus to a friend's home in Gikondo and told him, "Educate this boy and I will send money to pay for school fees, school materials, uniform, shoes -- whatever." From his first day of school, Justus' most distinctive attribute has been (and remains) his ever-present conviction that it is a precious privilege to learn. Justus obsessively studied, [and received] guidance in applying to colleges and universities in the United States. On [college admissions] "decision day," at 11 PM Rwandan time (5 PM EST), Justus ... fumbled and struggled at first to get into the secure admissions site. Then the letter began to load, and Justus read the first word: "CONGRATULATIONS!" Justus screamed with joy and fell to the floor. When he composed himself, he borrowed my phone to call Clare in the U.S. "Mom, MOM!" he yelled. "I'm going to Harvard!"
The holidays are a time which put a lot of people in the spirit of giving and helping others, and one YouTube video, which is currently trending on social media, encompasses just that. In the video, uploaded by an organization called Memory Bridge, the selfless and caring spirit of one woman is displayed as she forms a very personal interaction using gospel music with someone who has longed for that connection while in the late and deteriorating stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. According to her biography, Naomi Feil, the founder of Validation Therapy and someone who has worked with the elderly for over 40 years, has long believed traditional methods of working with severely disoriented elderly people needed to change. That belief led her to write several books on the subject, and develop alternative therapies.
Note: What a beautiful way to connect with those who have late stage Alzheimers disease. Don't miss this most touching video with a beautiful surprise at the end.
Fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as "remarkable". Although fasting diets have been criticised by nutritionists for being unhealthy, new research suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection. Scientists at the University of Southern California say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems. It could also help the elderly whose immune system becomes less effective as they age, making it harder for them to fight off even common diseases. The researchers say fasting "flips a regenerative switch" which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system. Fasting for 72 hours also protected cancer patients against the toxic impact of chemotherapy. "While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy," said co-author Tanya Dorff, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital. "More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.”
In a recent experiment, a person in India said “hola” and “ciao” to three other people in France. Today, the Web, smartphones and international calling might make that not seem like an impressive feat, but it was. The greetings were not spoken, typed or texted. The communication in question happened between the brains of a set of study subjects, marking one of the first instances of brain-to-brain communication on record. The team, whose members come from Barcelona-based research institute Starlab, French firm Axilum Robotics and Harvard Medical School, published its findings earlier this month in the journal PLOS One. Study co-author Alvaro Pascual-Leone ... hopes this and forthcoming research in the field will one day provide a new communication pathway for patients who might not be able to speak. “We want to improve the ways people can communicate in the face of limitations — those who might not be able to speak or have sensory impairments,” he says. “Can we work around those limitations and communicate with another person or a computer?” Pascual-Leone’s experiment was successful — the correspondents neither spoke, nor typed, nor even looked at one another. But he freely concedes that the test was more a proof of concept than anything else, and the technique still has a long way to go. Brain-to-brain communication could find applications across many disciplines. At the same time, Pascual-Leone cautions that scientists must also keep in mind the ethics of telepathy.
The Doe Fund’s 400 fulltime employees (some 70% of them graduates of the program) operate four programs to help homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals achieve permanent self-sufficiency. Ready, Willing & Able does this through a 9-to-12-month transitional work program. The second program is an intensive non-residential work and education program for recent parolees, and the third a veterans program which offers homeless vets transitional work and housing, counseling and benefits advocacy, life skills, educational assistance, occupational training, job readiness, and graduate services. The fourth program is built around affordable housing for low-income individuals and families as well as supportive housing for individuals and families who face a variety of complex challenges. The Doe Fund has succeeded in offering less fortunate citizens of the world we all share a path to self-respect. Nazerine Griffin was an armed robber, stealing for his drug habit. He came to RWA from a homeless shelter. "We were a bunch of warehoused human beings with no way out," he says. He’s now the director of the Fund’s Harlem Center for Opportunity.
Ethical consumers in the United States are increasingly concerned with the seeds used in the production of their food. However, this has been an issue in Europe for many years. In fact, there are several transnational seed-saver networks, like Arche Noah, whose members have become experts on heritage seeds. One of the most famous groups within Arche Noah’s 8,000-member network is the “live” seed bank Peliti, which has been raising awareness about endangered varieties of heritage seeds since 1995. Once tiny, now Peliti is an NGO that receives thousands of visitors for its annual seed swap where you can get a mind-boggling number of seed varieties for free. It’s the biggest event of its kind in the world. They call themselves a “live seed bank” because traditional seed banks store seeds under refrigeration, sometimes for up 15 years, which is “more like a seed museum than a seed bank,” according to volunteer Vasso Kanellopoulou. Peliti concentrates on keeping their seeds reproducing [to prevent] genetic erosion. It is [part of] the larger global seed-saver network. Their organization has given birth to many satellite communities that are linked with one another via a Google Group. Panagiotis Sainatoudis, Peliti’s founder, says that one of the organization’s basic principles is “to support man’s freedom to keep his own seed so he won’t depend every year on seed purchase, commerce, not even on the seeds supplied by Peliti.”
Note: In the United States, industrial agriculture companies are using the USDA to antagonize local community seed sharing groups. Find out more here.
HipHopForChange aims to combat images of violence, sexism, materialism, drugs and homophobia by educating young people about the spiritual pillars that first inspired hip-hop as a vehicle for social change — peace, love, unity and the spirit of fun. [Founder Khafre] Jay has developed an interactive workshop that he and his staff have taken to [several] schools, as well as community organizations like Youth Spirit Artworks. Sessions not only detail the early rise of hip-hop, but also teach students ... how to MC, the techniques of writing rap, and the finer points of graffiti lettering. Jay wants students to be able to talk about their lives and experiences without the superficial attitudes of mainstream hip-hop. “[Our] rappers talk about their real lives, not some made up fictionalized, money, materialist, misogynist narrative that you’re used to,” Jay says. “They talk about putting food on their tables, their aspirations, their hopes and their problems with society. Their views are just not congruent with the industry [stereotypes]. HipHopForChange also spends several days a week canvassing throughout the Bay Area. That grassroots approach [is] how Serenity Krieger, a teacher at El Cerrito High School, came to hire HipHopForChange to teach four classes for her geography students last year. “She says, “I want them to know about not just the oppression, but ways they can constructively do something about it.”
Since 1985, U.S. college costs have surged by about 500 percent, and tuition fees keep rising. In Germany, they've done the opposite. The country's universities have been tuition-free since the beginning of October. Tuition rates were always low in Germany, but now the German government fully funds the education of its citizens -- and even of foreigners. Explaining the change, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator in the northern city of Hamburg, said tuition fees "discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study." Germany's higher education landscape primarily consists of internationally well-ranked public universities, some of which receive special funding because the government deems them "excellent institutions." What's more, Americans can earn a German undergraduate or graduate degree without speaking a word of German and without having to pay a single dollar of tuition fees: About 900 undergraduate or graduate degrees are offered exclusively in English, with courses ranging from engineering to social sciences. For some German degrees, you don't even have to formally apply. The vast degree offerings in English are intended to prepare German students to communicate in a foreign language, but also to attract foreign students, because the country needs more skilled workers.
Note: This clearly shows which countries place a high priority on the education of their citizens. Along with Germany, the article discusses Finland, France, Sweden, Norway, Slovenia, and Brazil.
15-year-old Patrick Otema, from Kampala in Uganda, found his voice for the very first time. Patrick, who was born deaf, was unable to even express himself to his family and, had things not changed, would have been condemned to a life of silence. But thanks to a pioneering new programme, he has finally been taught to communicate using sign language. But Patrick has been lucky. His teacher is Raymond Okkelo who is deaf himself - and who is one of the few Ugandans to use sign language. 'In the past I was also like him,' he explains. 'I couldn’t use sign language, the only thing I could do was hide in fear.' Raymond became deaf as a child after a bout of malaria. Six months ago, he travelled to the Ugandan capital Kampala for intensive training in sign language. Now able to communicate with the outside world, Raymond is determined to change the lives deaf people in sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom have never been taught sign language. Raymond ... has also opened the very first sign language school in the country - which Patrick now attends. But nothing is as heart-warming as the moment that Patrick finally realises he can communicate, with joy spreading across his face as he grasps the significance of what he has learned. Patrick's transformation is nothing short of breathtaking. But Patrick won't be the only deaf child to benefit. Buoyed by the success of his first cohort of students, Raymond hopes to take his school on tour and help many more children on the way.
2014 has probably been the best year in history. Take war, for example – our lives now are more peaceful than at any time known to the human species. Archaeologists believe that 15 per cent of early mankind met a violent death, a ratio not even matched by the last two world wars. Since they ended, wars have become rarer and less deadly. We have recently been celebrating a quarter-century since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, which kicked off a period of global calm. The Canadian academic Steven Pinker has called this era the “New Peace”, noting that conflicts of all kinds – genocide, autocracy and even terrorism – went on to decline sharply the world over. Global life expectancy now stands at a new high of 71.5 years, up six years since 1990. In India, life expectancy is up seven years for men, and 10 for women. It’s rising faster in the impoverished east of Africa than anywhere else on the planet. In Rwanda and Ethiopia, life expectancy has risen by 15 years. The Ebola crisis has led to 7,000 deaths, each one a tragedy. But far more lives have been saved by the progress against malaria, HIV and diarrhoea. The World Bank’s rate of extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 a day) has more than halved since 1990, mainly thanks to China. We still have a lamentably long list of problems to solve. But in the round, there’s no denying it: we are living in the Golden Era.
Onlookers at a train station in northern India watched in awe as a monkey came to the rescue of an injured friend — resuscitating another monkey that had been electrocuted and knocked unconscious. The injured monkey had fallen between the tracks, apparently after touching high-tension wires at the train station in the north Indian city of Kanpur. His companion came to the rescue and was captured on camera lifting the friend's motionless body, shaking it, dipping it into a mud puddle and biting its head and skin — working until the hurt monkey regained consciousness. The first monkey, completely covered in mud, opened its eyes and began moving again. Crowds of travelers watched the Sunday scene in amazement, filming and snapping pictures.
Note: Watch a one-minute video of this most unusual heroic act.
For decades, American high school teacher Bruce Farrer has been asking his students to write letters to their future selves. 20 years later, he tracks down the students and posts their letters to them. Speaking in a video for US airline West Jet, Farrer says that the letters have become more valuable because we now communicate far less by letters than we did 20 years ago. He created the assignment because he wanted his students to do an exercise "that was different, that would be interesting and one that they would value". An old pupil of Farrer says when he was asked to write a 10 page letter to his future self, he thought it was "a lesson just to pass the time, to keep us busy for a few hours while he did other things". He now understands what a dedicated teacher Farrer was. Of course, tracking down your students 20 years after teaching them is a challenging task. Farrer describes it as "a lot of detective work" but he is excited to find out the different paths his ex-pupils have taken. The video shows the reactions of some of Farrer's old students upon opening their letters. One describes it as an "emotional roller-coaster" as she reads about the passing of her grandmother and aunt, experienced through the eyes of her younger self. Despite the profound effect that receiving the letters has on its recipients, Farrer remains modest about his diligence and commitment. "I'm just a regular teacher who happened to assign a rather different assignment", he says.