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, read this webpage. These inspiring news stories are listed with the stories most recently posted to the website 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.


Note: This comprehensive list of inspiring news stories is usually updated once a week. See also a full index to revealing excerpts of key news articles on several dozen engaging topics.

Alan Turing, code-breaker castrated for homosexuality, receives royal pardon
2013-12-24, CNN
Posted: 2013-12-30 16:10:38
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/24/world/europe/alan-turing-royal-pardon

Alan Turing, a British code-breaker during World War II who was later subjected to chemical castration for homosexual activity, has received a royal pardon nearly 60 years after he committed suicide. Turing was best known for developing the Bombe, a code-breaking machine that deciphered messages encoded by German machines. His work is considered by many to have saved thousands of lives and helped change the course of the war. "Dr. Turing deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science," British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said. "A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man." Turing's castration in 1952 -- after he was convicted of homosexual activity, which was illegal at the time -- is "a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed," Grayling said. Two years after the castration, which Turing chose to avoid a custodial sentence, he ended his life at the age of 41 by eating an apple laced with cyanide. Supporters have long campaigned for Turing to receive greater recognition for his work and official acknowledgment that his punishment was wrong. An online petition in 2009 that drew tens of thousands of signatures succeeded in getting an apology from then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown for Turing's treatment by the justice system in the 1950s. Brown described the Turing sentence as "appalling." The German messages that Turing cracked at the British government's code-breaking headquarters in Bletchley Park provided the Allies with crucial information. Turing was considered a mathematical genius.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




High Flyer
2013-10-28, Daily Good
Posted: 2013-12-30 16:09:30
http://www.dailygood.org/story/543/high-flyer-david-leser

[ISIS Foundation’s Audette Exel] built a career on making millions for the rich, but her true achievement has been using her legal and financial [prowess] to make money for the world’s poorest. A monkey passes Exel’s [Katmandu, Nepal] hotel room as she works via email on a half-billion-dollar sale of a European banking group. The negotiations are crucial. If successful, they will represent one of the biggest European financial transactions of 2012. This is just before breakfast. After breakfast, Exel visits some of the children she and her organisation, the ISIS Foundation, have rescued from child traffickers in the remotest part of the country, children taken from their homes under false pretences and imprisoned in appalling conditions. The children are hugging her, squeezing her, holding her hand. An 11-year-old boy who almost died from a hole in the heart before being saved by Exel and her team won’t let her go. Later that afternoon, Exel works on forging ties between her Nepalese staff and her manager in Uganda, the other country where her organisation has saved the lives of thousands of mothers and their children. This is the woman who, ... leading international finance lawyer James Watkins says, gave up millions of her own income to help some of the most impoverished people in the world. The same woman again who high-flying lawyer John Atkinson believes puts him and other bankers and lawyers to shame. “When I examine my life and I compare it to Audette’s, you can quickly feel pretty humbled, even quite selfish. I guess in the scheme of things I look quite normal and Audette looks pretty extraordinary.”

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Marijuana stops child's severe seizures
2013-08-07, CNN
Posted: 2013-12-30 16:08:20
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/07/health/charlotte-child-medical-marijuana/in...

Charlotte and Chase were born October 18, 2006. They were healthy. Everything was normal. The twins were 3 months old when the Figis' lives changed forever. [Charlotte had a] seizure [which] lasted about 30 minutes. Her parents rushed her to the hospital. They did a million-dollar work-up ... and found nothing. A week later, Charlotte had another seizure. Over the next few months, Charlotte ... had frequent seizures lasting two to four hours, and she was hospitalized repeatedly. She was [put] on seven drugs -- some of them heavy-duty, addictive ones such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines. They'd work for a while, but the seizures always came back with a vengeance. At 2, she really started to decline cognitively. In November 2000, Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, which required the state to set up a medical marijuana registry program. [Then Charlotte's father Matt] found a video online of a California boy whose [seizures were] being successfully treated with cannabis. [Her parents started] Charlotte out on a small dose. By then Charlotte had lost the ability to walk, talk and eat. She was having 300 grand mal seizures a week. The results were stunning. The seizures stopped for ... seven days. [Now] Charlotte gets a dose of the cannabis oil twice a day. [It has] stopped the seizures. Today, Charlotte, 6, is thriving. Not only is she walking, she can ride her bicycle.

Note: There have been plentiful stories of miraculous healing from marijuana, but this may be the first time the major media is reporting it (see links at the bottom of this article for more). That's exciting! We may be seeing a major change here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Mysterious ingredients vanish from food labels
2013-12-18, Boston Globe/Associated Press
Posted: 2013-12-23 16:02:10
http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/12/18/food-labels-get-closer-look-in...

Take another look at that food label. An ingredient or two may have vanished. As Americans pay closer attention to what they eat, food and beverage companies are learning that unfamiliar ingredients can invite criticism from online petitions and bloggers. The risk of damaging publicity has proven serious enough that some manufacturers have reformulated top-selling products to remove mysterious, unpronounceable components that could draw suspicion. Earlier this year, for example, PepsiCo Inc. said it would stop using brominated vegetable oil in Gatorade and find a another way to evenly distribute color in the sports drink. Last year, Starbucks said it would stop using a red dye made of crushed bugs based on comments it received “through a variety of means,” including an online petition, and switch to a tomato-based extract. Kraft Foods plans to replace artificial dyes with colors derived from natural spices in select varieties of its macaroni and cheese, a nod to the feedback it’s hearing from parents. Ali Dibadj, a Bernstein analyst who covers the packaged food and beverage industry, says the changes reflect a shift from “democratization to activism” by consumers. “It used to be that people would just decide not to buy the product. Now they’re actually agitating for change,” Dibadj said. “There’s a bullhorn — which is the Internet — so you can get a lot of people involved very quickly.” In the past, a customer complaint about an ingredient may have been addressed with a boilerplate letter from corporate headquarters. But now people can go online to share their concerns with thousands of like-minded individuals.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




'Afterlife' feels 'even more real than real,' researcher says
2013-04-09, CNN
Posted: 2013-12-23 16:00:38
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/09/health/belgium-near-death-experiences

If your hospital is in Belgium, Dr. Steven Laureys may pay you a visit, interested to hear what you remember from your NDE, or near-death experience. Laureys heads the Coma Science Group at the university hospital in the city of Liege. NDEs feel "even more real than real," Laureys said. Laureys and his team studied the near-death memories of people who survived -- in particular those of coma patients -- with the help of a psychological examination. The Memory Characteristics Questionnaire tests for sensory and emotional details of recollections and how people relive them in space and time. In other words, it gauges how present, intense and real a memory is. They compared NDEs with other memories of intense real-life events like marriages and births, but also with memories of dreams and thoughts. Memories of important real-life events are more intense than those of dreams or thoughts, Laureys said. "If you use this questionnaire ... if the memory is real, it's richer, and if the memory is recent, it's richer," he said. "To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors," Laureys reported. The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. "The difference was so vast," he said with a sense of astonishment. Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich "as though it was yesterday," Laureys said. "Sometimes, it is hard for them (the patients) to find words to explain it."

Note: For lots more on NDEs, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Microlending: Do Good, Make Money?
2009-02-17, CBS News
Posted: 2013-12-23 15:59:17
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/microlending-do-good-make-money/

I've long been a fan of microfinance or microlending where a small loan can make a big difference. To date, I've made several small investments via both Microplace.com and Kiva.org. And, in addition to doing good, I'm doing well. The money is loaned to poor people--mostly women--in various parts of the world. Microlending, like other uninsured investments, is subject to all sorts of risks. But, based on past performance, the odds of seeing your money again are pretty high. Historically, 97 percent of low-income borrowers have paid back their microfinance loans. Kiva.org is a not-for-profit organization. From a user perspective, one of the big differences between the two organizations is that Kiva doesn't pay interest. Also, Kiva is a bit more "peer to peer" in that its Web site shows you information about the specific entrepreneur who will be receiving your loan. One feature I like about Kiva is that you can purchase gift certificates for as little as $25. That's what I'm now doing for the children in my life. By giving them a Kiva gift certificate they and their parents get to chose who to loan it to and, eventually, the child gets the $25 back. It's a good long-term investment in social consciousness. And, yes, I've put my money where my words are. After a couple of years investing in both Kiva and Microplace, I have nothing but happy (albeit small) returns.

Note: For lots more on microlending, click here and here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




The Science Of Conquering Your Fears -- And Living A More Courageous Life
2013-09-15, Huffington Post
Posted: 2013-12-23 15:56:47
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/15/conquering-fear_n_3909020.html

Aristotle believed courage to be the most important quality in a man. “Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible," he wrote. Recent research has begun to move toward an understanding of what courage is and how we might be able to cultivate the ability to face our fear and make decisions with greater fortitude. Neuroscientists recently determined just how courage works in the brain, finding that a region called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) is the driving force behind courageous acts -- a conclusion which could one day prove useful in treating anxiety disorders. So how can we train our minds to act more courageously in everyday life? Other recent research on courage [has] shown that's it's not just about facing fear, but also about coping with risk and uncertainty (as Ernest Hemingway put it, courage is "grace under pressure.") And, it seems, we can make ourselves more courageous with practice and effort. Six tried-and-true ways to loosen the grip of fear on your life -- and become more courageous than you ever imagined: Be vulnerable. Acknowledge your fears. Expose yourself to what you fear. Think positive. Manage stress [with exercise and meditation]. Practice courageous acts.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Uruguay's president José Mujica: no palace, no motorcade, no frills
2013-12-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-12-17 10:15:09
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/13/uruguay-president-jose-mujica

If anyone could claim to be leading by example in an age of austerity, it is José Mujica, Uruguay's president, who has forsworn a state palace in favour of a farmhouse, donates the vast bulk of his salary to social projects, flies economy class and drives an old Volkswagen Beetle. But the former guerrilla fighter is clearly disgruntled by those who tag him "the world's poorest president" and – much as he would like others to adopt a more sober lifestyle – the 78-year-old has been in politics long enough to recognise the folly of claiming to be a model for anyone. "If I asked people to live as I live, they would kill me," Mujica said during an interview in his small but cosy one-bedroom home set amid chrysanthemum fields outside Montevideo. The president is a former member of the Tupamaros guerrilla group, which was notorious in the early 1970s for bank robberies, kidnappings and distributing stolen food and money among the poor. He was shot by police six times and spent 14 years in a military prison, much of it in dungeon-like conditions. Since becoming leader of Uruguay in 2010, however, he has won plaudits worldwide for living within his means, decrying excessive consumption and pushing ahead with policies on same-sex marriage, abortion and cannabis legalisation that have reaffirmed Uruguay as the most socially liberal country in Latin America. But the man who is best known as Pepe says those who consider him poor fail to understand the meaning of wealth. "I'm not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live," he said. "My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I'm the son of my history."

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Small-house movement: Living in 120 square feet
2013-12-12, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2013-12-17 10:13:57
http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Small-house-movement-Living-in-120-s...

Jay Shafer sweats the small stuff. Hopping into a waist-high metal bathtub smaller than a shower stall, Shafer swung a faucet over his head to demonstrate how one bathes in the combination tub/shower/sink. Gesturing at the composting toilet a foot away, he added: "This bathroom is the part of this house I'm proudest of. It was inspired by the Japanese model of being very compact and very efficient. The whole room is 11 square feet, smaller than a standard closet." Thinking small, targeting simplicity and paying meticulous attention to detail exemplify Shafer's craft: designing tiny houses. The Sonoma County resident is considered a father of the tiny house movement, a burgeoning trend to live more efficiently in less space. "Jay articulated and popularized a philosophy of live small, live debt free, and have more time and freedom to pursue your life's passions," said Ryan Mitchell, editor of TheTinyLife.com, a website dedicated to living in small-scale structures. "He backed it up with some really attractive designs." From a 119-square-foot house in Graton, Shafer, 49, writes books about small dwellings; whips up blueprints for Craftsman-style houses ranging from 98 to 288 square feet; plans weekend workshops for DIYers; and sketches out his latest brainstorm: an entire village with dozens of tiny dwellings, each less than 400 square feet, plus a larger common house and other shared amenities, to be erected in Sonoma County. In fact, the county is a hotbed of the small-house movement, with an annual exhibit at the Sonoma County Fair, several small-house companies and at least 100 tiny dwellings.

Note: For more on tiny houses, click here and here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




This Bullying Social Experiment Is Incredibly Eye-Opening
2013-12-02, Huffington Post
Posted: 2013-12-17 10:12:23
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/bullying-experiment_n_4372734.html

No one is immune from bullying. Whether you are the oppressor, the victim or the witness, you are part of a cycle that needs to end. A new video shows just how much power a bystander has. "By watching an act of bullying with the thought of, 'I was going to step in if it kept going,' you may be too late," says a description for [the] video. This video highlights that passive bystanders are as much to blame as the actual bully because they have the capacity to do something. This doesn't necessarily mean directly intervening, the video points out. It could mean getting a more able-bodied person to step in, filming or calling for help. At the end of the video, a group of people ignore the violence -- perhaps because of a diffusion of responsibility, a phenomenon that psychologists say happens when a task is placed before a group of people, but each assumes the other will take action. When everyone has this same thought, however, no one does anything. The hope is that videos like these will help to educate and empower bystanders to help end bullying.

Note: Don't miss the powerful video at the link above. And for an inspiring four-minute video featuring Challenge Day, which was the main force in promoting the movement to stop bullying, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Why is Sweden closing its prisons?
2013-12-01, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-12-17 09:53:45
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/01/why-sweden-closing-prisons

Swedish prisons have long had a reputation around the world as being liberal and progressive. The head of Sweden's prison and probation service, Nils Oberg, announced in November that four Swedish prisons are to be closed due to an "out of the ordinary" decline in prisoner numbers. Although there has been no fall in crime rates, between 2011 and 2012 there was a 6% drop in Sweden's prisoner population, now a little over 4,500. A similar decrease is expected this year and the next. The Swedes [have] managed to maintain a broadly humane approach to sentencing, even of the most serious offenders: jail terms rarely exceed 10 years; those who receive life imprisonment can still apply to the courts after a decade to have the sentence commuted to a fixed term, usually in the region of 18 to 25 years. Sweden was the first country in Europe to introduce the electronic tagging of convicted criminals and continues to strive to minimise short-term prison sentences wherever possible by using community-based measures – proven to be more effective at reducing reoffending. The overall reoffending rate in Sweden stands at between 30 and 40% over three years – around half that in the UK. One likely factor that has kept reoffending down and the rate of incarceration in Sweden below 70 per 100,000 head of population – less than half the figure for England and Wales – is that the age of criminal responsibility is set at 15. Unlike the UK, where a life sentence can be handed down to a 10-year-old, in Sweden no young person under the age of 21 can be sentenced to life and every effort is made to ensure that as few juvenile offenders as possible end up in prison.

Note: For a Time magazine article showing how Norway's prisons actually rehabilitate prisoners so that they can more easily fit back in society, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




US bishop dresses up as homeless man to expose congregation's lack of compassion
2013-11-29, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-12-10 10:42:35
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10483026/US-bishop...

An American bishop who disguised himself as a homeless man to give a sermon about compassion was asked to leave his church by unknowing congregants. David Musselman, a Mormon cleric near Salt Lake City, Utah, said he wanted to teach members of his church to be kind to all people. “To be Christ-like, just acknowledge them,” he said. Mr Musselman recruited a professional makeup artist to transform his face and wore a wooly hat, thick spectacles, a false beard and a fake scar. Even his own family did not recognise him. “The main thing I was trying to get across was we don't need to be so quick to judge,” Mr Musselman told his local television news station. “Many actually went out of their way to purposefully ignore me, and they wouldn't even make eye contact,” he said. “I'd approach them and say, 'Happy Thanksgiving'.” After being asked to leave by five people, Mr Musselman walked to the pulpit during a service and disclosed his true identity by taking off his wig, fake beard and glasses. “It had a shock value that I did not anticipate,” he said. “I really did not have any idea that the members of my ward would gasp as big as they did.” Mr Musselman said he was touched by the reaction of younger members of the church. “I was impressed by the children,” he said. “I could see in their eyes they wanted to do more”. Mr Musselman, whose stunt came just before the Thanksgiving holiday, said that he did not intend to embarrass the members of his church or make them feel ashamed. Instead, he said, he wanted them to remember to be kind all year long to people from all walks of life.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




'Before I Die' walls turn dreams into words
2013-11-29, CNN
Posted: 2013-12-10 10:41:03
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/29/living/before-i-die-walls-book/index.html

After losing a close friend to liver failure, Candy Chang spent a lot of time thinking about how she wanted to live out her days. Contemplating death brought clarity to her life, but she struggled to maintain perspective amid the daily grind. She wondered whether other people went through the same struggle, and what mattered to them. She decided to invite others to share those thoughts by painting a chalkboard on the side of an abandoned house in New Orleans stenciled with the sentence "Before I die I want to ________." What began as an experiment in making a public space into a shared space has become a global art project, with more than 400 "Before I die" walls in 60 countries and 25 languages. It's been quite the journey for Chang, who did not launch the project with plans to expand beyond New Orleans. But it resonated among pockets of passionate people around the globe. "Our public spaces are our shared spaces, and they have a lot of potential to offer us a more valuable and meaningful kind of life. I think about why we came together in the first place. Some of the earliest gathering places were graves and sacred groves. We gathered so we could grieve together and worship together and console one another and be alone together." We asked Chang to [share] the most common themes expressed in the walls. "Abandon all insecurities" "Come to terms with who I am" "Slow down for a moment and maybe even stop" "Find serenity" "Stop being afraid".

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Stories of life, death and faith: 'To Heaven and Back' - Mary Neal
2013-11-29, CNN
Posted: 2013-12-10 10:39:44
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/29/us/to-heaven-and-back

It was January 14, 1999, and Mary Neal ... crested at the top of the first big drop in the river. She looked down into what she later described as a bottomless pit. Then she went over. The front end of her boat got pinned in the rocks, submerging her in the water. Pinned in the boat and out of air, Neal started to give up. "I really gave it all over to God, and I really said, 'Your will be done,'" she said. [She] was sucked out of the bottom of the boat by the current -- with her legs bending back over her knees. "I could feel the bones breaking. I could feel the ligaments and the tissue tearing. I felt my spirit peeling away from my body, sort of like peeling two pieces of tape," Neal recounted. As one of her friends grabbed her wrist to try to pull her out of the water, Neal realized she was outside her body watching the rescue effort. "I could see them pull my body to the shore. I could see them start CPR," she said. "I had no pulse, and I wasn't breathing. One fellow was yelling at me to come back. ...My body was purple and bloated. My pupils were fixed and dilated." She watched people work on her, but she felt none of it. "When I saw my body, I actually thought 'Well, I guess I am dead. I guess I really did die,'" Neal said. As she watched, she said she was met by "these people or these spirits" who started to guide her toward a brightly lit path toward what appeared to be a domed structure. "It was exploding, not just with light and brilliance and color but with love," she said. There, she spoke with the spirits. They told her it was not her time to die, that she still had a job to finish, Neal said. Then she was back in her body, breathing again. Those involved estimate that Neal had been without oxygen for 30 minutes.

Note: Don't miss the highly inspiring four-minute interview with Mary Neal at the link above. Another CNN interview of seven minutes is available here. For more, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles on near-death experiences, click here.




Stories of life, death and faith: 'To Heaven and Back' - Anita Moorjani
2013-11-29, CNN
Posted: 2013-12-10 10:38:20
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/29/us/to-heaven-and-back

On February 2, 2006, Anita Moorjani was in a coma. With her body riddled with cancer, doctors told her husband that her organs were shutting down and she likely would not make it beyond the next 36 hours. "I was just so tired of fighting to try to stay alive," she said. So she said she let go. The next morning, she didn't wake up. Her husband rushed her to the hospital, where the family was told the bad news: Moorjani was in a coma and not expected to wake again. Moorjani can't put her finger on the exact minute that she says she left her body. She saw her husband standing next to her hospital bed. Moorjani could also hear conversations that took place between her husband and her doctors, far from her hospital room. She heard them, she said, discuss her pending death. "Your wife's heart might be beating, but she's not really in there," a doctor told her husband -- a conversation, she said, he would later confirm to her after she asked. Hovering between life and death, she said she was surrounded by people who loved her. Her [deceased] best friend, Soni, was there. So was her father, who had died years earlier from heart failure. There were others there, too. She knew they loved her and cared for her. It was a feeling unlike anything she says she had ever felt. "At first, I did not want to come back. Why would I want to come back into this sick body?" she said. About 30 hours after being hospitalized, Moorjani awoke. Within days, she said, her organs began to function again. Within weeks, doctors could find no evidence of cancer in her body, she said.

Note: For more on Anita's incredible journey through death, click here. For a treasure trove of inspiring news articles on near-death experiences, click here.




Peaceable Kingdom's games emphasize cooperation
2013-11-27, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2013-12-02 09:23:47
http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Peaceable-Kingdom-s-games-emphasize-co...

"Feed the Woozle" and "Hoot Owl Hoot!" are the top-selling titles from Berkeley's Peaceable Kingdom, which is making a name for itself with games for toddlers and families that emphasize cooperation over competition. The small, family-owned business tries to promote the value and fun of everyone working together. Its line of games is staunchly nondigital, encouraging face-to-face interactions instead of "screen time." "Cooperative games are a microcosm of how children can play differently," said company president Donna Jaffe. Child-development experts say the community-focused games can play a valuable role, teaching shared decision-making and problem-solving. "They have a lot of merit for classroom and family use," said Berkeley's Stevanne Auerbach, who reviews playthings at www.drtoy.com. "Kids can cut out the one-upmanship and learn to develop strategies and friendly connections. Many parents want their children to have the experience of playing games without feeling as if they have to win or lose." "Their games are in my therapy bag all the time," said Sherry Artemenko, a Connecticut speech pathologist who reviews games at www.playonwords.com. "Kids learn to help each other and work as a team. There's a lot of learning involved: You talk to each other, take different actions. There are visual skills as well as math and language." With slightly more than $5 million in sales, Peaceable Kingdom is minute compared with giants like Hasbro and Mattel. It has eschewed mass-market retailers like Target and Toys R Us, instead sticking to smaller local toy stores and some chains like Barnes & Noble and Pottery Barn.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




The Pope’s bold new vision
2013-11-26, CNN blog
Posted: 2013-12-02 09:22:18
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/26/the-popes-bold-new-vision/

Pope Francis on [November 26] issued a bold new document – in Vatican parlance an “apostolic exhortation” – called Evangelii Gaudium or “The Joy of the Gospel.” In this document, he sets out an exciting new vision of how to be a church. It is to be a joyful community of believers completely unafraid of the modern world, completely unafraid of change and completely unafraid of challenges. The exhortation [expresses] an overriding concern for the poor in the world. Francis champions an idea that has lately been out of favor: the church’s “preferential option” for the poor. “God’s heart has a special place for the poor,” the Pope says. But it is not enough simply to say that God loves the poor in a special way and leave it at that. We must be also vigilant in our care and advocacy for them. Everyone must do this, says the Pope. “None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice.” And in case anyone misses the point, after a critique of the “idolatry of money” and an “economy of exclusion,” the Pope says: “The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings.” This does not mean simply caring for the poor, it means addressing the structures that keep them poor: “The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed.”

Note: For how you can help to end poverty through microlending, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Police Arrest Aerialist for Performing Above the Williamsburg Bridge
2011-11-21, The Atlantic
Posted: 2013-12-02 09:20:55
http://www.theatlantic.com/video/archive/2011/11/police-arrest-aerialist-for-...

In July, 24-year-old Seanna Sharpe scaled the Williamsburg Bridge to perform a jaw-dropping, and totally illegal, acrobatics show. Shortly thereafter, she was arrested and handcuffed. According to this short documentary, she was charged with a felony, which was later reduced to a misdemeanor. Fans raised her bail in under an hour, via Twitter. Filmmaker and artist Ronen V captures the whole amazing story in this video, incorporating footage shot by the crowd on cell phones and cameras.

Note: You can watch the fun, death-defying video at the link above. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




A Murmuration of Starlings
2011-11-03, The Atlantic
Posted: 2013-12-02 09:15:37
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/11/video-a-murmuration-of-...

This is your moment of zen today. Two adventurers set out in a canoe and happened upon a [flock of] starlings (collectively known as a murmuration) doing their amazing collective dance in the sky. Watch the video. Just take it in. The starlings' coordinated movements do not seem possible, but then, there they are, doing it. Scientists have been similarly fascinated by starling movement. Those synchronized dips and waves seem to hold secrets about perception and group dynamics. Last year, Italian theoretical physicist Giorgio Parisi took on the challenge of explaining the [phenomenon]. What he found ... is that the math equations that best describe starling movement are borrowed "from the literature of 'criticality,' of crystal formation and avalanches -- systems poised on the brink, capable of near-instantaneous transformation." They call it "scale-free correlation," and it means that no matter how big the flock, "If any one bird turned and changed speed, so would all the others." It's a beautiful phenomenon to behold. And neither biologists nor anyone else can yet explain how starlings seem to process information and act on it so quickly. It's precisely the lack of lag between the birds' movements that make the flocks so astonishing.

Note: Don't miss the hauntingly beautiful video at the link above. For more, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Are we all psychic? Scientists believe that animals - including humans - have a collective consciousness
2013-11-19, Daily Mail (One of the UK's largest-circulation newspapers)
Posted: 2013-11-26 07:59:57
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2509971/Are-PSYCHIC-Scientists...

Why do people think about someone right before they call, for example, or ‘have a feeling’ something is about to happen before it does? It may be due to something called collective consciousness - a term used by certain scientists to describe the practice of humans, and animals, sharing behaviours and ideas with each other telepathically. The "Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon", for example, was an idea put forward by South African zoologist and ethologist Lyall Watson and his scientific author colleague Lawrence Blair in 1975. During the 1950s, macaques on the island of Koshima learned to wash sweet potatoes and explicitly passed this skill onto younger members of the group. This behaviour then spread and was observed on neighbouring islands among groups of macaques who had never [come] into contact with each other. [Watson and Blair] chalked this up to the monkeys sharing a collective consciousness, often referred to as a ‘shared mind’ or ‘hive mind’, in which the practices were shared telepathically. More recently ... blue tits ... taught themselves [to] break into milk bottles and drink the cream from the top. Similar groups of the same [non-migratory] species [later] exhibited the same skills in other countries throughout Europe and Asia. A science journal in 2010 published [the results of experiments] by Professor Daryl Bem, a physicist from Cornell University, that [indicated] humans have similar psychic abilities supposedly seen in the birds and monkeys. Professor Bem carried out nine different experiments involving more than 1,000 volunteers and all but one came down on the side of these so-called psychic theories.

Note: For a most astounding and moving documentary on a woman named Anna Breytenbach who communicates directly with animals, click here, or watch the three-minute trailer at this link. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.





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