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.
Two weeks ago, a small group of Israeli women set off on a protest march to Jerusalem from northern Israel to demand that the Israeli government restart a peace process with the Palestinians. After reaching the Palestinian city of Jericho ... the core group of 20 women were joined by more than 3,000 others, including about 1,000 Palestinian women. Although most of the Palestinians could not proceed beyond the barrier that separates the West Bank from Israel, the Israeli women headed for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s formal residence, where they held an emotional rally. The group, which calls itself Women Wage Peace, is made up of women from across the political spectrum and the religious divide. At the rally, many held banners reading, “Right, Center and Left are all calling for an agreement, Women Wage Peace.” The movement was founded two years ago after the Gaza war, when many Israeli mothers had to send their sons to fight. More than 10,000 women have registered with the group. “I came because I want to see a peace agreement with the Palestinians,” said Tanya Harkavi ... a mother and a grandmother. [Harkavi] said that women are better positioned to solve disputes because of their roles within the family and that it was time they become involved in the dispute with the Palestinians, too. “Two years ago, my son was in the army; he fought in the Gaza war. I decided then that I did not want to launder army uniforms anymore. I want peace,” said [group member] Miki Rom.
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Four Australian Catholic organisations have announced they are completely divesting from coal, oil and gas in what they say is the first joint Catholic divestment anywhere in the world. The move comes as prominent Jewish rabbis, Muslim clerics, Anglican bishops and other religious leaders call on the Australian government to protect the Great Barrier Reef, stop approving coalmines and remove subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, in an open letter published by the Guardian. The divestment announcement ... and letter were coordinated by the multi-faith group the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, in partnership with the environmental group 350.org. It comes a year after Pope Francis, in his second encyclical, Laudato Si’, called on all people – not just Catholics – to take “swift and unified global action” to protect the environment and stop global warming. At the time the papal intervention was labelled “explosive” and “the most astonishing and perhaps the most ambitious papal document of the past 100 years”. The multi-faith open letter ... reads: “So far, the election debates have failed to assign due priority to global warming. Neither of the major parties currently plan to wind back coal and gas mining.”
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Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Department of Energy lab in Tennessee, have discovered a mechanism for converting carbon dioxide into ethanol. Their method takes advantage of nanotechnology, creating a catalyst that produces ethanol from a solution of carbon dioxide in water. “We discovered somewhat by accident that this material worked,” said Adam Rondinone, the lead author of a new study in the journal ChemistrySelect. “We were trying to study the first step of a proposed reaction when we realized that the catalyst was doing the entire reaction on its own.” The discovery may change the way we think about carbon dioxide. If it could be captured and turned into a fuel, then carbon dioxide – the earth-polluting byproduct of global dependence on fossil fuels – could help high-energy societies work toward energy independence. Repurposing carbon dioxide could be invaluable for the environment, the researchers say. Converting it into ethanol can turn a greenhouse gas into a gasoline-like fuel source. Ethanol contains one-third less energy than gasoline but produces far fewer byproducts when burned in engines, which can limit further carbon emissions. “Closing the carbon cycle by utilizing CO2 as a feedstock for currently used commodities, in order to displace a fossil feedstock, is an appropriate intermediate step towards a carbon-free future,” the researchers wrote in the study.
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Life's been full of uncertainties for Reuben Nsemoh lately. Ever since he suffered a concussion in a soccer game, the suburban Atlanta teen's worried about why it's so hard for him to concentrate. He's fretted over whether he'll ever get to play his favorite sport. But the biggest stumper of all: how is it that he's suddenly speaking fluent Spanish? Nsemoh, a 16-year-old high school sophomore, ended up in [a] coma last month after another player kicked him in the head during a game. When he woke up, he did something he'd never done before: speak Spanish like a native. His parents said he could already speak some Spanish, but he was never fluent in it until his concussion. Slowly, his English is coming back, and he's starting to lose his Spanish fluency. Foreign accent syndrome is an extremely rare condition in which brain injuries change a person's speech patterns, giving them a different accent. The first known case was reported in 1941. Since then there have been a few dozen reported cases. Three years ago, police found a Navy vet unconscious in a Southern California motel. When he woke up, he had no memory of his previous life, and spoke only Swedish. In Australia, a former bus driver got in a serious car crash that left her with a broken back and jaw. When she woke up, she was left with something completely unexpected: a French accent. And earlier this year, a Texas woman who had surgery on her jaw, has sported a British accent ever since.
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The president of America’s largest police management organization on Monday issued a formal apology to the nation’s minority population “for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.” Terrence M. Cunningham, the chief of police in Wellesley, Mass., delivered his remarks at the convention in San Diego of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, whose membership includes 23,000 police officials in the United States. The statement ... comes as police executives continue to grapple with tense relationships between officers and minority groups in the wake of high-profile civilian deaths in New York, South Carolina, Minnesota and elsewhere, the sometimes violent citizen protests which have ensued as well as the ambush killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Cunningham continued, “While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future ... For our part, the first step is for law enforcement and the IACP to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.” He concluded, “It is my hope that, by working together, we can break this historic cycle of mistrust and build a better and safer future for us all.” Jeffery Robinson, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, applauded Cunningham’s statement. “It seems to me that this is a very significant admission,” Robinson said.
More than a decade of research has been investigating how different types of purchases affect our well-being, and it can help us turn spending into a happiness practice in its own right. The key, it seems, is to spend money in ways that bring you closer to other people. In 2003, researchers found that buying experiences - like seeing a Broadway play or going for coffee with a friend - improves our well-being more than buying possessions. Not all experiences are created equal, though. In a 2013 study, when researchers separated out experiential purchases into social ones and solitary ones - going out to dinner with friends or alone, for example - participants reported that the solitary experiences brought just as little happiness as the material things. If you want to bond with other people, you could buy experiences to have with them - or you could spend money on them directly. In a 2008 study, researchers gave each participant up to $20 to spend on themselves or on others that same day, then called after 5 p.m. to see how they were feeling. In the end, contrary to expectations, participants reported being happier after treating others rather than treating themselves. In the end, though, the best way to cultivate happiness through spending may be not to focus on spending so much in the first place. It’s certainly misguided to stake all our hopes of happiness on our purchases.
Natalie Hampton doesn't just have memories of being bullied in middle school; she has actual scars. Now 16 and a high-school junior ... Natalie said, "Apart from the horrific attacks, the worst thing was being treated as an outcast and having to eat lunch alone every day. I believe that being isolated branded me as a target." After switching schools ... Natalie found a supportive new friend group, but she never forgot how it felt to be the outcast. "Whenever I saw someone eating alone, I would ask that person to join our table, because I knew exactly how they felt. I saw the look of relief wash over their faces," she said. Her experiences inspired Natalie to create a new app called Sit With Us. The app allows students to reach out to others and let them know they are welcome to join them at their tables in the school cafeteria. Kids can look at the list of "open lunches" in the app and know that they have an open invitation to join with no chance of rejection. "Sit With Us ambassadors take a pledge that they will welcome anyone who joins and include them in the conversation. To me, that is far better than sitting alone," said Natalie. "Even though just about every school has bullies, I believe each school has a larger number of upstanders who want to make their schools more inclusive and kind," she said.
For the past 288 days, Spain has plodded along without an elected national government. For some Spaniards, this is a wonderful thing. “No government, no thieves,” said Félix Pastor, a language teacher who, like many voters, is fed up with the corruption and scandals that tarnished the two previous governing parties. Mr. Pastor, a wiry, animated 59-year-old, said Spain could last without a government “until hell freezes over” because politicians were in no position to do more harm. More than anything, the crisis seems to have offered a glimpse of life if politicians simply stepped out of the way. For many here, it has not been all that bad. “Spain would be just fine if we got rid of most of the politicians,” Rafael Navarro, 71, said inside his tiny storefront pharmacy in Madrid. Too little government is better than too much, he said. Budget money is still flowing. Government ministries are functioning. Social service recipients and civil servants are being paid. Even if no new government has been formed when the 2016 national budget expires this fall, the old budget will simply become the new budget for 2017. But ... nobody is proposing legislation, debating international affairs or even rotating Spain’s ambassadors. Growth is forecast to be 2.9 percent this year, almost twice the 1.6 percent eurozone average. Interest and energy rates are at historic lows. Spain, a tourism superpower, expects 74 million visitors this year. But after trudging to the polls twice already in the last year, weary voters are in no mood to vote again.
Andrew Short lives with spastic cerebral palsy, which he contracted during birth. Cerebral palsy is a disorder that effects muscle tone, movement and motor skills, but despite impaired speech Andrew’s disability doesn’t impair his mind, and he learned to read early. “I speak three languages,” said Andy. “English, German, and spastic. Spastic is my mother tongue." Andrew is currently completing a Masters Degree in Disability Studies, but his most impressive achievement has been walking the Kokoda Trail, which he describes as “the toughest physical challenge of [his] life”. In Andy’s late twenties, his motor function appeared to begin deteriorating. “We were told to accept that that's what it would be,” said [Andrew's father] David. Instead, David and Andrew began researching the emerging field of neuroplasticity ... inspired by the seminal [book], “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science”. Andrew’s physical condition is due in part to his trainer, Lee Campbell, a former army trainer and Sydney Swans team member. The two have been training together for five and a half years, and in that time Lee estimates that his physical condition has risen from 2.5 to a 7 or 8. “You watch Andy pull a sled with 20 or 30 kilos of weights in it, he stands up, his posture is corrected,” said Lee. “His finer motor skills now are getting refined. He can hold things, he can cook, he can do his buttons up.” Right now, they’re training together for Andy’s next endeavour, walking the Great Wall of China.
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A Facebook post written by a white police officer who had recently pulled over a black man for texting while driving has gone viral. Garden City Lieutenant Tim McMillan writes he pulled over the man and, when he approached his vehicle, the man was visibly shaken and seemed terrified. The man asked McMillan what he wanted him to do. McMillan told the man he just didn’t want him to get hurt. The man asked if McMillan wanted him to exit the vehicle, and McMillan told him no and he didn’t want him to text and drive. He continued, saying he wanted his mother to “always have her baby boy.” McMillan also writes in the post he doesn’t care who is at fault for young black men being afraid of police officers but he wishes somebody would fix it. The post has over 1,500 likes and has been shared over 1,000 times. Many people have sounded off around the world, including Girlie Waaka in New Zealand, who commented “I live in New Zealand and your heart warming story has given me a little more faith in humanity. We only hear all of the bad things that are going on in the world, I wish there were more people like you out there Lt. Tim McMillan, you are truly a hero ... God Bless you & your family.”
Sunshine and seawater. That’s all a new, futuristic-looking greenhouse needs to produce 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes per year in the South Australian desert. It’s the first agricultural system of its kind in the world and uses no soil, pesticides, fossil fuels or groundwater. As the demand for fresh water and energy continues to rise, this might be the face of farming in the future. An international team of scientists have spent the last six years fine-tuning the design – first with a pilot greenhouse built in 2010; then with a commercial-scale facility that began construction in 2014 and was officially launched today. Seawater is piped ... to Sundrop Farm. A solar-powered desalination plant removes the salt, creating enough fresh water to irrigate 180,000 tomato plants inside the greenhouse. Scorching summer temperatures and dry conditions make the region unsuitable for conventional farming, but the greenhouse is lined with seawater-soaked cardboard to keep the plants cool enough to stay healthy. In winter, solar heating keeps the greenhouse warm. There is no need for pesticides as seawater cleans and sterilises the air, and plants grow in coconut husks instead of soil. The farm’s solar power is generated by 23,000 mirrors that reflect sunlight towards a 127-metre high receiver tower. On a sunny day, up to 39 megawatts of energy can be produced – enough to power the desalination plant and supply the greenhouse’s electricity needs. Tomatoes produced by the greenhouse have already started being sold in Australian supermarkets.
Two undergraduate students at the University of Washington have worked to invent a new way to communicate. Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor won a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize - a nationwide search for the most inventive ... students - for their invention, SignAloud gloves, which can translate American Sign Language into speech or text. “Our purpose for developing these gloves was to provide an easy-to-use bridge between native speakers of American Sign Language and the rest of the world,” Azodi told UW Today. “The idea initially came out of our shared interest in invention and problem solving. But coupling it with our belief that communication is a fundamental human right, we set out to make it more accessible to a larger audience.” Each of the SignAloud gloves has sensors that record movement and gestures then transmit the info wirelessly to a central computer. The computer then looks at the data, and if it matches a gesture, then the associated word or phrase is spoken through a speaker. “The sign language translation devices already out there are not practical for everyday use. Some use video input, while others have sensors that cover the user’s entire arm or body,” Pryor [said]. “Our gloves are lightweight, compact and worn on the hands, but ergonomic enough to use as an everyday accessory, similar to hearing aids or contact lenses.”
As the Syrian peace accord has crumbled - even threatening to reignite the Cold War - and barrel bombs continue to fall on the rebel-held city of Aleppo, many are fleeing the death and destruction. But one group of residents has vowed to stay behind and help. They are the "White Helmets," a volunteer team of first responders who plunge head-first into crumbling buildings to save civilians trapped in the rubble of Syria's brutal civil war. Named after their iconic protective headgear, the group of about 3,000 rescue workers have reportedly saved more than 60,000 lives since the civil war began. In August, their courage garnered international attention when they rescued 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, the stunned little boy covered in dust and blood whose photo shocked the world. They have since been nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. The heroism of these ordinary citizens - former doctors, shopkeepers, and teachers - is profiled in a 40-minute Netflix documentary. "These are very normal, ordinary people who now do one of the most extraordinary jobs on this planet," said the film's director, Orlando von Einsiedel. "They represent the best of what humanity can be," he said. "It has given us faith in humanity and has made us want to be better people."
Note: When the media seems to want us to hate Muslims, it's so important to read about the beautiful examples of these heroes. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
There's increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other. More than that, trees can learn. When you discover how trees talk to each other, feel pain, nurture each other, even care for their close relatives and organise themselves into communities, it's hard to be sceptical. The support they give each other is not random. Research by Professor Massimo Maffei at the University of Turin shows trees can distinguish the roots of their own species from other plants, and even pick out their own relations from other trees. Some are so tightly connected at the roots that they even die together, like a devoted married couple. Diseased or hungry individuals can be identified, supported and nourished until they recover. They can also send warnings using chemical signals and electrical impulses through the fungal networks that stretch under the soil between sets of roots. These fungi operate like fibre-optic internet cables. Their thin filaments penetrate the earth, weaving through it in almost unbelievable density. One teaspoon of forest soil contains many miles of these tendrils. Over centuries, if left undisturbed, a single fungus can cover many square miles and create a network throughout an entire forest. Through these links, trees can send signals about insects, drought and other dangers. News bulletins are transmitted by chemical compounds and also by electricity. Most of us see trees as practically inanimate. But the truth is very different. They are just as intensely alive as we are ... and for much, much longer.
Note: The above article was adapted from Peter Wohlleben's book, "The Hidden Life Of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate - Discoveries From A Secret World." Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In the face of a changing climate and the challenges that come with it, companies the world over have been attempting to pull solutions out of thin air - literally. There are firms turning air into fuel and others transforming it into stone. Some are even extracting clean drinking water from it. Israel’s Water-Gen has built devices that create and store drinking water by harvesting condensation from the air. It was among a group of Israeli firms that presented their technological innovations at the United Nations General Assembly last week. “Put simply, [our technology] leverages the same process as a dehumidifier, but instead captures and cleans the moisture,” said Arye Kohavi, Water-Gen’s CEO. “This ‘plug-and-drink’ technology is fully independent of existing water infrastructure. All we require is an electrical outlet and the humidity found in the air.” Water-Gen isn’t the only company to market such a technology, but it says its machines ... are far more energy-efficient than any other water production device. “Our technology takes one-fifth of the amount of energy used by other methods,” Kohavi said. Water-Gen estimates the water its machines generates would cost less than 10 cents per gallon. The smallest device can yield up to 5 gallons daily, while the largest can produce more than 800 gallons a day. “We think it’s possible to bring drinking water to all countries,” Maxim Pasik, Water-Gen’s chairman, [said] in an interview. “What’s important for us is to bring water to the people. This is a basic human right.”
Thinking about aging conjures unpleasant imagery of becoming weak and frail, losing our autonomy, and being placed in a nursing home to live out the remainder of our days alone. Self-described “Nursing Home Abolitionist” Dr. Bill Thomas has been working on changing that, and his ideas and philosophy are reforming the traditional long-term care model. After graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1986, Dr. Thomas worked in emergency care. He went on to become the medical director of [a] nursing home in upstate New York. The institutionalized and depressing atmosphere of the facility prompted him to take action. Even though animals in nursing homes were illegal at the time, Dr. Thomas brought in two dogs, four cats, hens, rabbits, 100 parakeets, a multitude of plants, a flower garden, and vegetable patch. The Washington Post reported that the illegal act was a resounding success. There was a 50% drop in medical prescriptions along with a dramatic decrease in death rates – but most importantly, the residents were simply happier. It inspired Dr. Thomas to create The Green House Project, a national non-profit organization that creates alternative living environments to traditional nursing home care facilities. Traditional nursing homes are torn down and replaced with small, home-like environments where people can live a full and interactive life. In 2005, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded ... a five-year $10 million grant to help the organization create Green House projects in all fifty states.
Students who are misbehaving are usually taken out of class and sent to the principal, who punishes the child by revoking privileges, calling home or sometimes suspending them. But students in some Baltimore schools are sent somewhere different when they are acting out: a designated meditation room where they can calm down and decompress. The Mindful Moment room is equipped with bean bags and dim lighting, and students go through calming exercises with trained staff. At Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, teachers and staff can refer students to the room for an emotional “reset” when they are worked up. The student is led through breathing exercises and is encouraged to discuss the emotions that led to an outburst. They work with the adult to come up with a plan to use mindfulness in a similar situation in the future, to prevent an outburst. After about 20 minutes in the room, they rejoin classmates. Students usually show “visible signs of relaxation and emotional de-escalation after guided practices” in the room. The program also includes a “Mindful Moment” twice a day, which leads students in breathing exercises for 15 minutes over the PA system. Students can also participate in yoga classes. It has drastically reduced suspensions, with zero reported in the 2013-14 school year. The program has also been implemented with older students, including those at Patterson High School, [which] has also seen a decrease in suspensions both in the hallways and in class.
In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. Four other states have passed similar laws and more than half have considered doing so this year - more than two decades after the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 directed states to make it easier for citizens to register to vote at offices that provide public assistance, including motor vehicle agencies. In Oregon, DMV customers ... who show up in the department’s computer system as eligible but unregistered, are added by default to voter rolls without party affiliation; they later select a political party or opt out using a form sent to them in the mail. That subtle difference - requiring people to take an extra step to opt out if they don’t want to be registered - is producing results. “So far, it’s working,” said Jonathan Brater, of the Brennan Center of Justice at the New York University School of Law, an advocate for the modernization of voter registration. Just two years ago, barely a handful of states were considering this form of voter registration. But technology has made it easier to seamlessly transfer data between agencies, and states increasingly are taking advantage of it. Legislatures in three other states have passed automatic voter registration laws: West Virginia, Vermont, and California.
Not many 25-year-olds can claim to get up at 4am and work weekends to save the world from an impending Armageddon that could cost tens of millions of lives. But for the past three years, Shu Lam, a Malaysian PhD student at the University of Melbourne, has confined herself to a scientific laboratory to figure out how to kill superbugs that can no longer be treated with antibiotics. She believes that she has found the key to averting a health crisis so severe that last week the United Nations convened its first ever general assembly meeting on drug-resistant bacteria. The overuse and incorrect use of antibiotics has rendered some strains of bacteria untreatable, allowing so-called “superbugs” to mutate. Last Wednesday, the problem was described by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a “fundamental threat” to global health and safety. [Lam] believes her method of killing bacteria using tiny star-shaped molecules, built with chains of protein units called peptide polymers, is a ground-breaking alternative to failing antibiotics. Her research, published this month in the prestigious journal, Nature Microbiology, has already been hailed by scientists as a breakthrough that could change the face of modern medicine. Lam successfully tested the polymer treatment on six different superbugs in the laboratory, and against one strain of bacteria in mice. Even after multiple generations of mutations, the superbugs have proven incapable of fighting back.
For the second year in a row, Natural Resources Defense Council and several other organizations rated the 25 largest American fast-food and fast-casual restaurants on their policies toward antibiotics use. While the majority got failing grades in the “Chain Reaction” report, many chain restaurants have made progress, especially when sourcing antibiotic-free chicken - though Chipotle, Panera and now Subway also have strong policies on beef and pork. “We were really encouraged to see that twice as many restaurant chains had adopted new policies,” said Kari Hamerschlag ... one of the report’s authors. An estimated 70 percent of medically important antibiotics are used in livestock production, often given routinely to healthy animals to prevent illness or stimulate growth rather than to cure disease. Between 2009 and 2014, livestock and poultry farms increased their use of these antimicrobial drugs by 23 percent, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA discourages producers from using antibiotics routinely in feed to promote growth, but does not prohibit the practice. McDonald’s grade improved from a C last year to a C-plus because it announced it had fully switched over to antibiotic-free chicken in its U.S. stores. Subway, based in Milford, Conn., which leapt from an "F" grade last year to a "B" grade this year, was listed as the only chain to adopt policies that apply to all types of meat sold. The report said now roughly 67 percent of its chicken is now raised without antibiotics, with turkey to follow.