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.
Wind and solar power appear set for a record-breaking year in 2016 as a clean-energy construction boom gains momentum in spite of a global glut of cheap fossil fuels. Installations of wind turbines and solar panels soared in 2015 as utility companies went on a worldwide building binge, taking advantage of falling prices for clean technology as well as an improving regulatory and investment climate. Both industries have seen stock prices jump since Congress approved an extension of tax credits for renewables as part of last month’s $1.14 trillion budget deal. Orders for 2016 solar and wind installations are up sharply, from the United States to China to the developing economies of Africa and Latin America, all in defiance of stubbornly low prices for coal and natural gas, the industry’s chief competitors. “The policy base for renewables has strengthened, both on the incentives side and through mandates,” [former Energy Department assistant secretary Dan] Reicher said. “At the same time, the financing of renewable-energy projects has become a mainstream business for Wall Street. The early-stage investments from Silicon Valley for clean energy were small potatoes compared to the massive investments Wall Street is making. It truly is a global business.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Good news. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a cancelled hydro dam that spares 20,000 people from the burden of displacement. Other times, it takes the shape of a simple court admission that Indigenous Peoples do actually make the best conservationists. Indigenous rights victories give us all pause to celebrate, to reflect and to rejuvenate our own quests for justice. In a landmark decision last week, the Dutch Court of Appeals ruled that four Ogoni farmers from Nigeria can take their case against [oil company] Shell to a judge in the Netherlands. Alali Efanga, one of the Ogoni farmers who ... said the ruling "offers hope that Shell will finally begin to restore the soil around my village so that I will once again be able to take up farming and fishing on my own land." The Wampis nation ... took an unprecedented step forward by establishing the first Autonomous Indigenous Government in Peru's history. Spanning a 1.3 million hectare territory - a region the size of the State of Connecticut - the newly created democratically-elected government brings together 100 Wampis communities representing some 10,613 people. Monsanto ... took another big hit after Mexico's Supreme Court suspended a permit to grow genetically modified soybeans across 250,000 hectares on the Yucatán peninsula. The judgment stemmed from a constitutional law in Mexico that requires the consideration of indigenous communities. The judge commented in the ruling that co-existence between honey production and GM soybeans is simply not possible.
Note: Don't miss the details of these and many other recent indigenous community victories at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Abdel Gawad Ellabbad knows exactly how he was infected with hepatitis C. As a schoolboy in this Nile Delta rice-farming village, his class marched to the local clinic every month for injections against schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease spread by water snails. Six million Egyptians were infected with hepatitis C by unsterile needles during the country’s decades-long fight against schistosomiasis. The virus spread insidiously; today, at least 10 percent of Egyptians, nearly nine million people, are chronically infected, the highest rate in the world. But a grand experiment unfolding across the country may change all that. Pharmaceutical companies are testing ... a complicated deal to sell hepatitis drugs at a fraction of their usual cost. If [successful] the arrangement in Egypt may serve as a blueprint not just for curing hepatitis around the world, but also for providing other cutting-edge medicines to citizens in poor countries who could never afford them. The experiment here is about a year old and, while still fragile, appears to be headed for success. Mr. Ellabbad, for one, was finally cured of hepatitis this spring. An air-conditioning repairman, he took a three-month regimen that included sofosbuvir, first of the new generation of miracle drugs. The pills would have cost more than $84,000 in the United States. He got them free from the Egyptian government, which paid about $900. “Before, I felt like I was dying,” he said. “Now I feel like I’ve never felt before. Like I’m 35 again.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In the classroom, subjects are often presented as settled and complete. But our collective understanding of any given subject is never complete, according to Jamie Holmes, who has just written a book on the hidden benefits of uncertainty. In “Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing,” Holmes explores how the discomforting notions of ambiguity and uncertainty affect the way we think and behave. Confronting what we don’t know sometimes triggers curiosity. Teachers who hope to inspire curiosity in their students, and to encourage tolerance for ambiguity, can take steps to introduce uncertainty into the classroom. “The emotions of learning are surprise, awe, interest and confusion,” Holmes said. But because confusion provokes discomfort, it should be discussed by teachers to help students handle the inevitable disquiet. “The best assignments should make students make mistakes, be confused and feel uncertain,” he said. Teachers who instruct with a sense of humanity, curiosity and an appreciation for mystery are more apt to engage students in learning, Holmes explained. “Those with an outlook of authority and certainty don’t invite students in,” he said. Also, when teachers present themselves as experts imparting wisdom, students get the mistaken idea that subjects are closed. “Teachers should help students find ways to think and learn,” he said. “The best teachers are in awe of their subjects.” The process of discovery is often messy and non-linear.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Kaiser Permanente ... plans to open its own medical school in Southern California in 2019. The nonprofit, national provider of managed health care says it plans to train students in its own style of integrated diagnosis and treatment - focusing on research, the use of new technologies, and teaching doctors to work as part of a collaborative caregiving team. Their new school will be about more than just primary care. "We need to prepare physicians for the way health care is delivered in the future," says Dr. Edward Ellison, executive medical director for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. Students need to learn not just medicine, he says, but about integrated systems of care and how to work in a much different medical environment. "Our advantage is we can start from scratch," he says. Another advantage is the HMO's deep pockets. "They've got huge resources," says Dr. George Thibault, president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, which focuses on medical education. "This is a grand experiment, but if anybody can do it, Kaiser can."
What if helping others is an innate part of being human? What if it just makes us feel good to give? Those questions have inspired a series of ground-breaking neuroscience studies ... by researchers Jamil Zaki, an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University, and Jason Mitchell, an associate professor of the social sciences at Harvard University. Zaki and Mitchell’s research has gone head-to-head with standard economic models of decision making, which assume that when people exhibit kind, helpful (or “pro-social”) behavior, they are doing so to protect their reputation, avoid retribution, or benefit when their kindness is reciprocated. But in a study published in 2011 in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Zaki and Mitchell tested an alternate theory: that we feel good when helping others ... because behaviors like fairness, cooperation, and reciprocity are intrinsically rewarding. They found that acting equitably ... is rewarding, even when it means putting someone else’s interests before our own. On the other hand, making inequitable choices activated ... a brain area that has been associated with negative emotional states like pain and disgust. “Our model flips the traditional model on its head,” says Zaki. “Instead of people wanting to be selfish and then forcing themselves through control to be generous, we’re getting a picture where people enjoy being generous.”
Last Friday, 6-year-old Landon Johnson went to the RiverTown Crossings Mall in Grandville with his family. While there, the boy and his cousins took turns chatting with Santa. After telling the man in red he wanted a Wii, a toy dinosaur and a remote control car, Landon hopped off Santa’s lap to rejoin his family. But a few moments later, he raced back to Santa’s side: he’d forgotten to tell him something important. “He wanted to tell [Santa] that he has autism,” Landon’s mom, Naomi Johnson, said in a moving Facebook post about the encounter this week. Specifically, Landon shared his worry with Santa that his autism would land him on the “naughty list.” His mom explained ... that Landon is often told he’s “naughty” by people who mistake his autism [for] bad behavior. He’s been told by other people before, "You don’t need to be so naughty," or, "Why are you naughty?" Santa took the time to listen to Landon's worries, and held the boy's hands soothingly all the while. “Santa sat him next to him and took L's hands in his and started rubbing them, calming them down. Santa asked L if it bothered him, having Autism? L said yes, sometimes. Then Santa told him it shouldn't. It shouldn't bother him to be who he is,” Johnson wrote. Landon told Santa that he sometimes “gets in trouble at school and it's hard for people to understand that he has autism,” but that he's “not a naughty boy.” “You know I love you and the reindeer love you and it’s OK. You’re a good boy,” Santa told WOOD-TV.
Skills like kindness, cooperation, and empathy are sometimes dismissed as “soft” skills in education. Developing “hard” skills like math and reading can seem far more practical and important - hence our education system’s rigorous focus on teaching and testing them. But [a] recent study, published last month in the American Journal of Public Health, turns that thinking on its head. After following hundreds of students from kindergarten through early adulthood, the study suggests that possessing those “soft” skills is key to doing well in school and avoiding some major problems afterwards. Neglecting these skills could pose a threat to public health and safety. Importantly, these findings held true regardless of the student’s gender, race, or socioeconomic status, the quality of their neighborhood, their early academic skills, or several other factors. Those who were rated as more pro-social in kindergarten were more likely to succeed. In some cases, kids’ kindness was more strongly related to certain outcomes later in life than were other factors that might seem more relevant. For example, surprisingly to the researchers, the level of aggression that a student showed in kindergarten couldn’t predict whether the student would have a run-in with the law later in life - but his level of pro-social behavior could. The results make a convincing case for investing more in nurturing students’ social and emotional skills - which, according to prior research, are malleable and can be improved, with lasting and meaningful results.
Alex Lyngaas says his mother, Eva, had given up on finding love after raising two boys and seeing her second marriage come to an end. But he and his and older brother, Chris, believe their mom, who lives in Norway, is a "total catch." The brothers encouraged Eva to date again, even buying her a subscription to an online dating service. But all their efforts were for naught until Alex got the idea to create a video highlighting all of his mom's best qualities, in hopes of connecting her with the man of her dreams. The video, "Looking for Adam," is a play on Eva's nickname, Eve. It's garnered nearly 1.5 million views since it was posted to YouTube less than a week ago. Alex kept the project a secret from his mother until it was completed, and her reaction is part of the video, which begins with mother and sons watching it together on her computer. "My mom is ... always making sacrifices and putting her children first. Now I feel it's my turn to put her first and help her fill a void in her life, finding her someone to love her like she deserves to be loved," Alex told TODAY. As the video comes to a close, Eva asks her son, "My gosh, Alex, what do you want to do with this?" When Alex suggests putting it on YouTube, she responds, "The Internet?" "After discussing whether to put it online for days on end, she finally said, 'I realize I have nothing to lose. You can do as you like,'" Alex told TODAY. "A few days later, here we are with a video that has seemingly captured the hearts and imaginations of people all over the world."
Note: Don't miss this fun, touching video which now has over 10 million views.
What unites us as human beings? French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand filmed interviews with more than 2,000 people in 60 countries to answer that ambitious question for his latest project, "Human." "For the past 40 years, I have been photographing our planet and its human diversity, and I have the feeling that humanity is not making any progress," Mr. Arthus-Bertrand writes. For more than two years, his crew ... traveled the world, seeking answers. Without any disclosure of location or identity, each subject answers the same 40 questions, including: What is the toughest trial you have had to face, and what did you learn from it? Why are our differences so great? What is your message for the inhabitants of the planet? When is the last time you said "I love you" to your parents? And so on. The result ... is a riveting portrait of life, love, anger, and desire, as told by real-life characters ranging from a laborer in Bangladesh to a death-row inmate in the United States to the former president of Uruguay. Arthus-Bertrand released a web-adapted version of the project on YouTube ... with subtitles available in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. "The film speaks to ... the difficulties we each encounter in relation to our own lives, in maintaining valuable connections with our families and those around us and coming to terms with our personal ethics," Arthus-Bertrand says. "The older I get, the more I understand how difficult those objectives are to achieve. But the answer is always love. Love is the answer."
Note: Watch a profound three-minute segment of the conversion of a murderer taken from this beautiful, sometimes disturbing documentary. That will likely convince you to watch the entire engaging documentary "Human."
Sweden said it’s targeting to become one of the first nations in the world to be free of fossil fuels and that it will invest 4.5 billion kronor ($546 million) in climate-protection measures next year as a step toward that goal. The government will increase support for solar, wind, energy storage, smart grids and clean transport. Investment in photovoltaics will rise nearly eightfold. Sweden got about two-thirds of its electricity generation capacity from clean and low-carbon sources last year. It plans to significantly reduce its emissions by 2020. It didn’t set a target date for the nation becoming fossil free, though Stockholm may reach that goal by 2050. Sweden will also spend 50 million kronor annually on electricity storage research, 10 million kronor on smart grids and 1 billion kronor to renovate residential buildings and make them more energy efficient. The Scandinavian country will also increase its funding of climate-related projects in developing countries, raising its budget to 500 million kronor. The government hopes it will send an “important signal” before the United Nations conference in Paris in December.
Finalizing the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that alleged overuse of solitary confinement, New York will change the way it handles such confinement in its prison system. The 79-page agreement ends a lawsuit filed by New York's ACLU chapter, which accused one of the largest prison systems in the country of using inhumane and torturous methods in dealing with prisoners. New York state will immediately move roughly 1,100 inmates into alternative programs. They will also develop training programs for corrections officers designed to encourage the use of forms of discipline and security other than isolation. Prisoners still held in solitary for more than 180 days will receive additional counseling, social time, and access to telephones. Today's change comes months after California changed how it handles solitary confinement, settling a lawsuit that said the practice of putting people in long-term isolation violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The New York settlement also includes a change in diet, requiring the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision "to replace the Loaf ... with a nutritious, calorie-sufficient, and palatable alternative meal composed of regular food items." Providing an example, the settlement says "a sack lunch consisting of fruit, cheese, cold cuts, sandwich bread, and coleslaw would meet the requirements of this subsection." That would be a step up from the notorious "Loaf," which The New York Times describes as "a foul-tasting brick."
A man from Canada has broken the world record for the furthest hoverboard flight. Catalin Alexandru Duru's propeller-based prototype managed to travel a total distance of 275.9m (905ft 2in) along the edge of Lake Ouareau in Quebec. The inventor claims the machine, which he built and designed over 12 months, can be used anywhere and can reach "scary heights" which he says he'd like to explore in the future. Catalin had to travel more than 50m to set a new Guinness World Records title, but smashed that by travelling more than five times the target. He said: "I wanted to showcase that a stable flight can be achieved on a hoverboard and a human could stand and control with their feet." A Guinness World Records spokesperson said: "This is a truly mesmerising and incredible feat in the world of engineering and transportation."
Note: Don't miss an exciting video of this new invention. Way cool!
Trained as a lawyer, Van Ngoc Ta never imagined that he would spend his evenings posing as a gang lord in brothels. Over the past 10 years, Van Ta has played an active role in ... Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, [a charity] that rescues Vietnamese women and girls trafficked to China for the sex trade as well as victims of forced labor. Undercover operations [are] part of the job. In the past decade he has rescued more than 480 women and girls sold into prostitution or sexually abused as well as victims of forced labor working in Vietnam. Some Vietnamese women go abroad for brokered marriages, mostly to China and Malaysia, but find themselves in domestic servitude or prostitution. Others are duped in online relationships and end up in the sex trade. Others are sold to traffickers by friends or neighbors. "We put the safety and interests of the victims first. What you want to do more than anything else is to bring them home. I have to be careful as there is a lot of money involved," said Van Ta, adding that girls can earn as much as $250 a day for their pimps and traffickers. "If you think of the number of girls I have rescued, this probably means I have taken about $2-3 million of earnings from the traffickers and brothels." Van Ta ... said the rewards of the job outweighed the risks. "When you bring a victim home, there are tears of happiness, and you would accept any price to bring them home," said Van Ta. Blue Dragon ... now has 72 staff and cares for more than 1,500 children in Vietnam [in addition to] its rescue work.
Whether it involves help with cat sitting or learning a new language, moving a sofa or lending a hand at a charity event, helpfulpeeps has seen the need requested – and fulfilled by a kind stranger. In a matter of months, helpfulpeeps – a social network based on the idea of the gift economy and paying it forward – has amassed more than 2,000 users throughout the world. The initiative, which originated in Britain, is premised on a simple idea: Ask for help whenever you want; help others whenever you can. “We noticed the ongoing disconnect in society and our over-reliance on money to solve our problems,” says Simon Hills, a cofounder. “We were also amazed to find that there are 12 million people in the UK who used to volunteer and would love to get back into it.” Without the requirement of an ongoing commitment, and with the flexibility of being able to offer support in person or even remotely ... the objective is to offer a more fulfilling relationship between users. Mr. Hills says, “Ultimately, it aims to save people money and develop a network of like-minded, helpful people, willing to lend a hand within the local and global community.” “Quite possibly the 'best' story was one of our very first posts – it was from an Australian lady who wanted to be reunited with her long lost friend of 15 years from when she used to live in Telford, [England]” Hills says. “The community rallied together, and we are pleased to announce that they have since been reunited.”
On a snowy afternoon in February 2004, an FBI agent came to Nick Merrill’s door, bearing a letter that would change his life. At the time, Merrill was running a small internet service provider. The envelope that the agent carried contained what is known as a “national security letter”, or NSL. It demanded details on one of his company’s clients; including cellphone tower location data, email details and screen-names. It also imposed a non-disclosure agreement which was only lifted this week, when – after an 11-year legal battle by Merrill and the American Civil Liberties Union, he was finally allowed to reveal the contents of the letter to the world. The NSL which Merrill was given was a new use for what was a relatively old tool. The FBI had long – if sparingly – used them, [but] the Patriot Act vastly expanded the scope of what an NSL could be applied to. The FBI greatly increased the number issued; according to a 2007 inspector general’s report, the NSL that Merrill was handed by the agent was one of nearly 57,000 issued that year. All of those thousands of NSLs were accompanied by a non-disclosure agreement, or “gag order” – which barred recipients were ever disclosing that they had received an NSL – even to the person whose records were being sought. With the ACLU, Merrill went to court to challenge the constitutionality of the letter, especially of the gag order. In 2014, Merrill sued again, helped by ... the Yale Law Clinic. Finally, [a] judge ... ruled that the gag order be completely lifted. It had taken Merrill almost 12 years.
Note: A 2007 Washington Post article summary sheds more light on Merrill's long struggle.
Last July, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced the launch of a bold $100 million project "to reinvigorate the search for life in the universe." The amplified SETI initiative is "the most powerful, comprehensive and intensive scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth," according to the project's website. Now, for the first time, a new group of scientists and other professionals [has] formed a non-profit ... called UFO Detection and TrAcking (UFODATA for short), which includes an international team of scientists and engineers with an interest in UFOs. The organization has one goal and one goal only: to design, build and deploy a global network of automated surveillance stations that will monitor the skies full time looking for UFOs. UFODATA has no interest in alleged government conspiracies or adding more witness reports or FOIA documents to the thousands already on file. The idea here is that only a complete change of methodology toward a purely scientific approach to the UFO issue will enable us to move forward. The monitoring stations ... will record numerous physical characteristics of any UFOs that appear in their range. They will all send their data back to a central location. Current projections are that the stations will cost about $10-20,000 each, thanks to the unprecedented convergence of high resolution digital camera technologies, off-the shelf scientific instrumentation, powerful low-cost computing platforms and far-reaching high-speed internet access.
Scott Macaulay ... fixes vacuum cleaners for a living. This is the 28th year that Macaulay, 52, is hosting Thanksgiving at a Baptist Church in Melrose for people who have no other place to go. They might be widows, or new arrivals to this country, or poor. Some are simply lonely, like the elderly woman with Parkinson’s who arrived one year in an ambulance from a nursing home. Every year, Macaulay fashions a living room-dining room tableau inside the First Baptist Church fellowship hall. Except for the occasional small donation, Macaulay finances this all himself, and even though he’s frugal, it still costs him more than $1,000. As soon as one Thanksgiving dinner is over, he starts saving for the next, despite his own financial struggles. Still, he’s never skipped a dinner, not the year with the ice storm, not the year he passed out while driving, had a car accident, and was rushed to the hospital, where he got a pacemaker. He didn’t even cancel it this year, after getting word last Friday that the church ovens were broken and wouldn’t be fixed on time. He simply arranged a late switch to the Green Street Baptist Church. The largest crowd he’s had was 89 people. He’s refined and expanded the menu over the years; it now includes frozen meatballs as the hors d’oeuvres and canned fruit cocktail with a daub of pink sherbet. “It’s fabulous,” said an 88-year-woman, a widow “many, many, many years,” who ... goes to Macaulay’s meal every year.
The Power Pallet ... generates electricity from corn cobs, wood chips, coconut shells and other kinds of cheap, dense biomass. Although it costs $24,000 to $34,000, the Pallet can churn out electricity for less money than the diesel generators that power businesses across the developing world, while coughing up less pollution. And when used properly, the Pallet is “carbon negative,” pulling more heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere than it pumps back in. Its very existence is almost an accident. Years ago, the tinkerers who would eventually found All Power were ... building flame-throwing robots for Burning Man. Berkeley officials objected and convinced Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to cut the power [to their property]. As a result, Jim Mason, All Power’s CEO, developed a keen interest in generating electricity off the grid. “We got shut off and decided to hack climate change,” Price said. Now All Power has morphed into one of the Bay Area’s unlikeliest exporters, installing 700 machines in more than 30 countries worldwide. Its 30 employees assemble one or two Pallets each week, all in Berkeley. And All Power is one of a handful of American companies displaying their products at this week’s international climate conference in Paris. The Pallet uses gasification, a process more than a century old, that subjects carbon-rich organic material to high heat. What’s left of the original material becomes biochar, which can be mixed into soil as fertilizer. That waste product - biochar - is how the Pallet achieves carbon-negative status.
Today, more companies are moving beyond traditional philanthropy to forge important changes in how their businesses support and promote social change. Take Patagonia, which recently ... began encouraging customers to repair their gear rather than contribute to global waste. To help make that happen, Patagonia staff hit the road to offer free repairs on busted zippers, rips, tears, buttons and more - whether the product was made by Patagonia or not - and showed people how to fix their own gear. Another example is Salesforce.com. The San Francisco cloud computing company ... has been offering discounts on its software of as much as 75 percent so that nonprofits can better connect clients, donors and volunteers, and effectively build resources. At Levi Strauss, 4,000 employees completed 230 volunteer projects during their Community Day in June, including collecting nearly 80 pounds of trash from the Kallang River in Singapore, distributing HIV/AIDS education kits in Belgium and installing playground equipment in Kentucky. So what’s in it for the company? First, it creates a prouder, more engaged and more cohesive workforce. External relationships can benefit, too. Looking ahead, volunteerism and strategic engagement will be increasingly relevant. According to research compiled in “The Millennial Impact Report,” a company’s involvement with causes was the third most important factor to Millennials when applying for a job.