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


Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news stories 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.


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.

Giving Machines Expand 2019 Footprint, Raise Millions For Global Charities
2019-12-03, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisstrub/2019/12/03/givingmachines/

Pedestrians in 10 cities worldwide this holiday season have a chance to give in a whole new way, thanks to a set of innovative “Giving Machines” placed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The rollout of the machines has been staggered since mid-November, with the final two machines set to be revealed today in New York City (Manhattan New York Temple) and London (Hyde Park Visitors’ Center). ‘Items’ in the machine range from $2 to $320, and include food, clothing, medicine, hygiene supplies, sporting equipment and livestock. According to a press release from the church, items will be supplied through partner charities such as UNICEF, Church World Service, WaterAid, Water For People, and International Medical Corps. This is the third year for the giving machines; in 2018, they raised more than $2.3 million for local and global charities. The church’s website includes a live running total of donations, which have already exceeded $650,000 at press time. The machines are the focus of the church’s #LightTheWorld social media campaign, “encouraging people to perform instant acts of service that make a difference in others’ lives.” The machines do not take any fees—all donations go directly to partner charities for the purchased item, or for items or services of greater need based on their discretion. “These Giving Machines are an example of the big things that can happen when many people give just a little,” [said] Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Good news at last: the world isn’t as horrific as you think
2018-04-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2018/apr/11/good-news-at-last...

While it is easy to be aware of all the bad things happening in the world, it’s harder to know about the good things. The silent miracle of human progress is too slow and too fragmented to ever qualify as news. Over the past 20 years, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has almost halved. But in online polls, in most countries, fewer than 10% of people knew this. Our instinct to notice the bad more than the good is related to three things: the misremembering of the past; selective reporting by journalists and activists; and the feeling that as long as things are bad, it’s heartless to say they are getting better. Stories about gradual improvements rarely make the front page even when they occur on a dramatic scale and affect millions of people. And thanks to increasing press freedom and improving technology, we hear about more disasters than ever before. This improved reporting is itself a sign of human progress, but it creates the impression of the exact opposite. How can we help our brains to realise that things are getting better? Think of the world as a very sick premature baby in an incubator. After a week, she is improving, but ... her health is still critical. Does it make sense to say that the infant’s situation is improving? Yes. Does it make sense to say it is bad? Yes, absolutely. Does saying “things are improving” imply that everything is fine, and we should all not worry? Not at all: it’s both bad and better. That is how we must think about the current state of the world.

Note: Don't miss this awesome 5-minute video by author Hans Rosling showing the detailed statistics in a most entertaining way. For more see the many TED talks he gave.


The world is doing much better than the bad news makes us think
2019-12-02, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-world-is-doing-much-better-than-t...

There is a natural human bias toward bad news. The title of a 1998 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology sums it up: “Negative Information Weighs More Heavily on the Brain.” Negative stimuli get our attention much more than positive stimuli — which makes evolutionary sense for survival. Nice things are enjoyable; bad things can be deadly, so focus on them. And given that, in the news media, attention equals money, we can see the commercial reason for a lack of headlines such as “Millions not going to bed hungry tonight.” Frequently, however, the bad-news bias gives us a highly inaccurate picture of the world. For example, according to a 2013 survey, 67% of Americans think global poverty is on the rise, and 68% believe it is impossible to solve extreme poverty in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, starvation-level poverty has decreased by 80% since 1970, according to economists at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The truth is that while there is plenty to worry about on any given day, the world is generally getting better. Fresh, comprehensive evidence of progress comes in the new Legatum Prosperity Index, based on data from 167 countries ... on 300 social and economic indicators of well-being. Across those dimensions, from 2009 to 2019, 148 of the 167 countries have seen net progress — much of it dramatic, and especially so among the poorest countries in the world.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New technique uses ultrasound to kill prostate cancer with no surgery and 80% success rate
2019-12-02, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/prostate-cancer-surgery-ultrasound-...

Doctors have used ultrasound to successfully treat prostate cancer in a new study promising a new alternative to surgery. Prostate is the second most deadly type of cancer in men, with lung cancer the only variant to claim more lives. Treatment is challenging because surgery and radiation can leave men incontinent or impotent. However, a pioneering new technique avoids the risks by using a rod-shaped device inserted into the urethra while guided by magnetic resonance to administer precise bursts of ultrasound. The sound waves heat and destroy the tumour, leaving surrounding areas unharmed. The new study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America and involved 115 men with localised prostate cancer. After treatment with ultrasound, clinically significant cancer was eliminated in 80 per cent of the group, with 65 per cent having no signs of cancer after one year. Most of the men also saw reduced blood-antigen markers for prostate cancer, and overall no bowel complications were reported. Study co-author Steven Raman, professor of radiology and urology at the University of California at Los Angeles, said: “It’s an outpatient procedure with minimal recovery time. “We saw very good results in the patients, with a dramatic reduction of over 90 per cent in prostate volume and low rates of impotence with almost no incontinence.” The process, called Tulsa-Pro, has been approved for clinical use in Europe.

Note: Why isn't this exciting new development approved or even reported in the US? And learn about a man who developed a similar treatment almost a century ago only to have it quashed by the medical establishment.


Better Angels group puts Democrats and Republicans, Trump supporters and immigrants, in the same room to listen to each other
2018-07-25, ABC News
https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/angels-group-puts-democrats-republicans-trump...

Greg Smith and Kouhyar Mostashfi are perhaps two of the strangest political bedfellows imaginable. Smith, a retired police chief and construction worker from rural southwest Ohio, is a devout evangelical Christian and ardent Trump supporter. Mostashfi, on the other hand, is an Iranian immigrant who works as a computer engineer in suburban Dayton and is an active member of the local Democratic Party. And yet, these two men with seemingly irreconcilable differences became friends through a group called Better Angels, which brings Republicans, Democrats and independents together with the goal of depolarizing America. The group got its name from President Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address. Delivered in the middle of the Civil War, Lincoln told his fellow Americans: "We are not enemies but friends" and appealed to the "better angels of our nature." That appeal for national unity resonated with Smith and Mostashfi when they met at their first Better Angels gathering. "When you get past the stereotype part of everything, you've got it beat," Smith said. "It was nice to also see this other side [and] that he wants to listen to me and learn about my background," Mostashfi said. The founder of Better Angels said the group was growing faster than he'd anticipated. In the 18 months since it started, the group says it has 3,100 members nationwide and is adding more.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Better-Angels.org bridging the political divide
2019-04-10, CBS (Charlottesville affiliate)
https://www.cbs19news.com/content/news/Better-Angelsorg-bridging-the-politica...

Better Angels is a citizens' organization that aims to unite red and blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America. We try to understand the other side's point of view, even if we don't agree with it. We engage those we disagree with, looking for common ground and ways to work together. We support principles that bring us together rather than divide us. Meetings frequently include five to eight Republican-leaning citizens ("Reds") and five to eight Democratic-leaning citizens ("Blues") who gather together for a half-day or full-day of structured conversations. Independents are also welcome to attend. We only ask that for the purposes of the workshop they identify as leaning either Red or Blue or attend as observers. There are two types of Red/Blue workshops: three-hour workshops that cover two exercises, and six-hour plus lunch workshops that cover all four exercises. Two moderators, trained by Better Angels, lead the workshop, ensuring that ground rules are followed and that everyone is treated respectfully. The stereotypes exercise has red and blue groups generate, discuss, and report back on the most common false stereotypes or misconceptions of their side, why these stereotypes are wrong, what is true instead, and whether there is a kernel of truth in the stereotype. Red/Blue workshops [are held] so that citizens of different political beliefs and different backgrounds can get to know each other as individuals and begin to heal the divisions that are endangering our country.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Violence Vanquished
2011-09-24, Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424053111904106704576583203589408180

Evidence of our bloody history is not hard to find. Consider the genocides in the Old Testament and the crucifictions in the New, the gory mutilations in Shakespeare's tragedies and Grimm's fairy tales, the British monarchs who beheaded their relatives and the American founders who dueled with their rivals. Today, the decline in these brutal practices can be quantified. A look at the numbers shows that over the course of our history, humanity has been blessed with ... major declines of violence. The first was a process of pacification: the transition from the anarchy of the hunting, gathering, and horticultural societies in which our species spent most of its evolutionary history to the first agricultural civilizations, with cities and governments, starting about 5,000 years ago. On average, about 15% of people in prestate eras died violently, compared to about 3% of the citizens of the earliest states. Centuries ago, the great powers were almost always at war, and until quite recently. Western European countries tended to initiate two or three new wars every year. The cliche that the 20th century was "the most violent in history" ignores the second half of the century. Though it's tempting to attribute the Long Peace to nuclear deterrence, non-nuclear developed states have stopped fighting each other as well. Political scientists point instead to the growth of democracy, trade and international organizations - all of which, the statistical evidence shows, reduce the liklihood of conflict.

Note: The WSJ requires a subscription to read this article. You can find it free on the website of the author, Steven Pinker. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker – review
2012-11-19, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/nov/19/better-angels-nature-steven-p...

The Better Angels of Our Nature takes a thesis I would love to believe; indeed, have casually believed for most of my life. It is that humans have grown less horrible with time. The 20th century, the century of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot, of Mao in China and Mobutu in the Congo, was appalling, but the number of deaths by violence as a proportion of the total population remained modest compared with the ferocious cruelties of the wars of religion in the 17th century. The modern nation state – the Leviathan of the philosopher Hobbes – has had a civilising effect almost everywhere. Education has helped, as has the empowerment of women, and the idea, too, of human rights. Within the epic sweep of history from ice age hunter gatherers to modern suburban householders, [author Steven] Pinker examines both the big picture and the fine detail, with surprises on every page. Overall ... he finds examples of falling murder rates everywhere (including among male English aristocrats 1330-1829). Murder rates as a percentage of population were far higher among the supposedly peace-loving and cooperative hunter-gatherer communities – the Inuit of the Arctic, for instance, the !Kung of the Kalahari and the Semai of Malaysia – than in the trigger-happy US in its most violent decade. Unexpectedly, deaths in warfare, once again as a percentage of total population, were far higher among the Gran Valley Dani of New Guinea, or in Fiji in the 1860s, than in Germany in the whole of the 20th century.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How to Get Trump Voters and Liberals to Talk: Don’t Make Anyone Sit in a Circle
2019-11-03, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/03/us/trump-voters-liberals.html

When four Republicans and five Democrats got together at a high-end condominium complex to talk for seven hours in San Francisco this fall it was such a curiosity that a crowd of more than a dozen gathered just to watch. The host was a nonprofit called Better Angels, which is putting on half a dozen events around the country every week through the election. The polarized were at a square table supervised by two moderators, a therapist and a retired psychiatrist. They were mostly in their 50s and 60s, and wore red and blue name tags to correspond with their political leanings. The moderators referred to them as the reds and the blues. The conservatives were surprised the liberals thought at all about religion. The liberals were surprised the conservatives were so anxious about being seen as racist. Over a lunch break ... the two groups stayed largely separate. Many of the blue side said they came just for the opportunity to meet and question someone who disagreed with them politically. “Outside of this group, I’ve got no Republican friends,” said Monty Worth. People on the red side said they came to the workshop to be in a safe space where they could be open about their politics and argue their case. After the 2016 election, [David Blankenhorn] and two friends got together and led the first Better Angels workshop in Ohio. Now more than 15,000 people have gone through one of their programs (8,000 have joined as dues-paying members), and the group has trained more than 620 volunteer workshop moderators.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why You Should Move Into An "Agrihood"
2016-11-08, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2016/11/08/why-you-should-move-into-an-ag...

When Stephanie Walsh and her husband were looking to buy a home in Atlanta, GA, they had a pretty unusual set of qualifications for their new home: They wanted to have access to local, organic produce (and not just from the grocery store); they wanted a neighborhood that was easily walkable; and they wanted to be true friends — not just smile and nod acquaintances — with their neighbors. On a whim, she searched the internet for “ecofriendly neighborhoods near Atlanta” and happened upon the website for Serenbe, a community of 270 “green” homes and 30 retailers planned around a 25-acre organic working farm and 15 miles of trails. “I fell in love immediately,” she says. They’ve now lived in Serenbe for over four years, and Walsh says they hardly ever leave. Serenbe is what’s known as an “agrihood,” a community that is usually planned around a farm and offers access to unblemished landscapes, locally grown food, and homes built to environmentally friendly standards. The planning of agrihoods is done in a way that fosters community and interaction between the people who live there. In Arizona’s Agritopia, fences aren’t any higher than 5 feet, making it very easy to have a conversation with the family next door when you see them in their backyard. “Every house has a front porch, and the houses are closer to the street,” says resident Katie Critchley. “You can be sitting on your porch and be able to have a normal-decibel-level conversation with someone walking their dog. It forces you to say hello.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In Detroit, A New Type of Agricultural Neighborhood Has Emerged
2019-11-04, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/food-community-detroit-garden-agric...

Another trend has entered the urban agricultural scene: agrihoods, short for agricultural neighborhoods. The Urban Land Institute defines agrihoods as master-planned housing communities with working farms as their focus. Overwhelmingly, they have large swaths of green space, orchards, hoop houses and greenhouses, and some with barns, outdoor community kitchens, and environmentally sustainable homes decked with solar panels and composting. Agrihoods, which number about 90 nationwide, are typically in rural and suburban areas. Within the city of Detroit, home to nearly 1,400 community gardens and farms, there is one officially designated agrihood, Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. The Michigan initiative is a 3-acre farm focusing on food insecurity in one of Detroit’s historic communities that was once home to a thriving Black middle class. Now the median home value is under $25,000, and about 35% of the residents are homeowners. The Detroit agrihood model plans to provide a Community Resource Center with educational programs and meeting space across from the garden, a café, and two commercial kitchens. “For us, food insecurity is the biggest issue,” says, Quan Blunt, the Michigan initiative’s farm manager. “The closest [fresh] produce store to this neighborhood is Whole Foods [4 miles away in Midtown], and you know how expensive they can be.” At MUFI, produce is free to all. The farm is open for harvesting on Saturday mornings.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Federal Court: First Amendment Protects Sharing Food With Homeless People
2018-08-27, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicksibilla/2018/08/27/federal-court-first-amend...

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that feeding the homeless is “expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.” The decision revives a challenge brought by a local chapter of Food Not Bombs, which sued Fort Lauderdale, Florida for requiring a permit to share food in public parks. Originally started in the early 1980s by anti-nuclear activists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Food Not Bombs protests war and poverty. Today, this network of social justice pacifists claims over 5,000 chapters worldwide. Writing for the court, Judge Adalberto Jordan explained that for the Fort Lauderdale chapter, “providing food in a visible public space” is “an act of political solidarity meant to convey the organization’s message.” But in October 2014, Fort Lauderdale enacted an ordinance that bans sharing food in public parks, unless the hosts obtain a “conditional use permit” from the city. In February 2015, Food Not Bombs sued the city. Having ruled that Food Not Bombs does have a First Amendment right to share food, the 11th Circuit sent the case back down to the lower court. “The court’s opinion recognized sharing food with another human being is one of the oldest forms of human expression,” said Kirsten Anderson, litigation director at the Southern Legal Counsel and lead attorney on the case. “This decision strengthens our message to cities across the country that they need to invest in constructive solutions to homelessness instead of ... punishing people who seek to offer aid.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dog Learning to Talk By Using a Custom Soundboard to Speak
2019-11-04, MSN News
https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/lifestyle-buzz/dog-learning-to-talk-by-us...

Many dog parents already know their pets communicate with them, but what EXACTLY are they trying to say? A speech-language pathologist with an 18-month-old dog is working to find out, and she’s already discovered that her dog Stella can literally tell her things — like she’s tired after playing and now would like a nap, or that instead of playing at this moment she would prefer to eat, and that she would like to go outside, specifically to the park. It’s all possible through the use of an adaptive device Christina Hunger, 26, devised to help Stella communicate not only words but her thoughts and feelings too. When the Catahoula/Blue Heeler mix wants to “talk,” she steps on buttons corresponding with words Hunger recorded and programmed into the device. And Stella is already putting her language skills to work. One day, the pup was whining at the front door and started pacing back and forth. Hunger assumed that she needed to go outside. Instead, Stella walked to her device and tapped out, “Want,” “Jake” “Come” then stood in front of the door until Hunger’s fiancé, Jake, came home a few minutes later and then Stella immediately pressed “Happy” and rolled over for a belly rub. Hunger, who works in San Diego with 1- and 2-year-old children, many of whom also use adaptive devices that help them communicate, began teaching Stella words when the canine was about 8 weeks old. The 50-pound dog now knows at least 29 words and can combine up to five words to make a phrase or sentence.

Note: Watch a video of this amazing feat at the link above and an CNN interview with the owner.


The civil rights leader ‘almost nobody knows about’ gets a statue in the U.S. Capitol
2019-09-20, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/09/20/civil-rights-leader-almost-...

Standing Bear was born sometime between 1829 and 1834 in the Ponca tribe’s native lands in northern Nebraska. In 1876 ... Congress declared that the Poncas would be moved to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. More than a third of the Poncas died of starvation and disease — including Standing Bear’s sister and his beloved son. Standing Bear and his burial party evaded capture while they traveled home but were caught and detained after visiting relatives at the Omaha reservation. The man who caught them, Brig. Gen. George Crook ... was moved by Standing Bear’s reasons for leaving the Indian Territory and promised to help him. The civil rights case that resulted was called Standing Bear v. Crook. The U.S. attorney argued that Standing Bear was neither a citizen nor a person. On the second day, Chief Standing Bear was called to testify, becoming the first Native American to do so. He raised his right hand and, through an interpreter, said: “My hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. The same god made us both. I am a man.” The judge agreed, ruling for the first time in U.S. history that “the Indian is a ‘person’ ” and has all the rights and freedoms promised in the Constitution. The judge also ordered Crook to free Standing Bear and his people immediately. Standing Bear ... buried his son alongside his ancestors. When he died there in 1908, he was buried alongside them, too.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Netherlands is paying people to cycle
2018-12-21, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/netherlands-cycling/index.html

With 17 million residents and 23 million bicycles, the Netherlands already has more bikes than people. Now, it wants to get even more cyclists on the roads - and will pay people to do it. The Dutch government recently announced that it will invest $390 million (€345 million) in cycling infrastructure to get 200,000 more people commuting by bike in three years' time. Fifteen routes will be developed into "cyclist freeways" (highways that cater to those on bikes), 25,000 bike parking spaces will be created and more than 60 bike storage facilities will be upgraded, according to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. "My ambition is to ensure that people can easily get to work or school, or visit family and friends," says Stientje van Veldhoven, state secretary for that department, who is spearheading the project. To get people to ditch their cars, money is being laid on the table. The Netherlands currently rewards commuting cyclists with tax credits of $0.22 (€0.19) per kilometer. Companies and employees would agree on the distance of a person's cycling route. However, this is currently a little-known benefit not supported by many employers, according to the infrastructure ministry. That's something the government is hoping to change by better promoting the scheme and getting more companies on board. There are already 11 major employers in the Netherlands committing to measures such as financing employees' bikes.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Kindness Quotient
2019-11-01, Foreign Policy
https://foreignpolicy.com/gt-essay/the-kindness-quotient-jacinda-ardern-new-z...

Jacinda Ardern’s sudden, spectacular rise to the position of New Zealand’s prime minister in 2017 propelled her into headlines around the world. Deservedly so. In an era defined by the emergence of populist leaders who are often authoritarian, reactionary, and male, Ardern stands out as progressive, collaborative, and female. In New Zealand, Ardern’s commitment to fighting child poverty and homelessness has come as a relief after years of relentless increases in both. Whereas the world’s right-wing populists stigmatize and stereotype marginalized people, Ardern has established kindness as a key principle for government policy and has worked to promote inclusion and social cohesion. A family tax package that took effect last July is forecast to reduce the number of children living in poverty by 41 percent by 2021. She has extended her values-based approach to foreign policy as well—most dramatically by offering New Zealand as a home for 150 of the refugees currently stranded in camps run by Australia in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Ardern has also identified climate change as the defining issue for her generation. On April 12, a little more than five months into her term, her government declared an end to new permits for oil and gas exploration in New Zealand’s waters, making it clear that the country was prepared to lead the way in this critical struggle.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Could Be The Most Progressive Country On Earth
2018-10-24, Huffington Post
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/new-zealand-progressive-paid-leave-environment...

When 6-year-old Eddie Writes decided the world needed a little more kindness, he did the only thing he thought would work ― he wrote to his city’s mayor and asked for help putting on an annual “Kindness Day.” Much to Eddie’s surprise, Wellington Mayor Justin Lester wrote back. On Nov. 16, New Zealand’s capital city will be holding its first Manaaki Day (manaaki being the Maori word for kindness), taking Eddie’s ideas of how to encourage and celebrate charitable acts ― “We can buy toys for children that don’t have any,” for example ― to improve the social well-being of citizens. The mayor’s support for the new holiday is part of a new wave of progressive, child-centred politics sweeping New Zealand, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, herself a new parent. Ardern was met with thunderous applause at the United Nations last month for her speech calling for kindness and cooperation from world leaders. Watched by her partner and their then 4-month-old daughter, Ardern pledged New Zealand would be “a kind and equitable nation where children thrive, and success is measured not only by the nation’s GDP but by better lives lived by its people.” Ardern also has her sights on New Zealand’s growing housing affordability problems. The country’s housing market is heated, with home prices rising more than 60 percent in a decade. Ardern blamed speculation from overseas buyers. The government responded with a law that took effect Monday banning foreign buyers from purchasing existing properties.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Microsoft tried a 4-day workweek in Japan. Productivity jumped 40%
2019-11-04, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/04/tech/microsoft-japan-workweek-productivity/ind...

A growing number of smaller companies are adopting a four-day workweek. Now the results of a recent trial at Microsoft (MSFT) suggest it could work even for the biggest businesses. The company introduced a program this summer in Japan called the "Work Life Choice Challenge," which shut down its offices every Friday in August and gave all employees an extra day off each week. The results were promising: While the amount of time spent at work was cut dramatically, productivity — measured by sales per employee — went up by almost 40% compared to the same period the previous year, the company said in a statement. In addition to reducing working hours, managers urged staff to cut down on the time they spent in meetings and responding to emails. They suggested that meetings should last no longer than 30 minutes. Employees were also encouraged to cut down on meetings altogether by using an online messaging app. The effects were widespread. More than 90% of Microsoft's 2,280 employees in Japan later said they were impacted by the new measures, according to the company. By shutting down earlier each week, the company was also able to save on other resources, such as electricity. Microsoft ... says it will conduct another experiment in Japan later this year. It plans to ask employees to come up with new measures to improve work-life balance and efficiency, and will also ask other companies to join the initiative.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Once he was a refugee. Now he’s a CEO making video games for peace.
2019-10-14, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2019/10/14/once-he-was-refugee-now...

Lual Mayen sits in a modern office space, set in a trendy Washington, D.C., neighborhood. As a newborn in his parents’ arms, Mayen endured a 225-mile trek from his war-torn home in South Sudan to a refugee camp in Northern Uganda. Mayen was born into war, but his mission is peace. Now 24 years old, he is a video game developer residing in the United States, leading his own company and using the experiences from his past to inform his products: games aimed at peace-building and conflict resolution. He created the first version of Salaam, which means “peace” in Arabic, while still living as a refugee. In the game’s new version, players adopt the role of a refugee who must flee falling bombs, find water and gain energy points to ensure the character’s survival as the player’s country journeys from a war-torn present into a peaceful existence. If the player’s character runs out of energy, the player is prompted to purchase more food, water, and medicine for their character with real-world money. The funds go beyond the game to benefit a living refugee through Junub’s partnerships with various NGOs. Mayen is aiming to have Salaam ready to launch in December, determined to grow the category of social impact gaming to give back to his community. “Peace is something that is built over time,” Mayen said. “It’s not about people coming together and signing cease-fires and so on. It’s a generation of change. It’s a change of mindset. It’s a change of attitude toward each other."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Country Winning The Battle On Food Waste
2019-04-08, Huffington Post
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/food-waste-south-korea-seoul_n_5ca48bf7e4b0ed0...

Chung Sun-hee finely crushes eggshells, dries and saves her coffee grounds, and separates large vegetable offcuts into smaller pieces. Later, the 55-year-old professional translator will bury them in her backyard, in rotating plots. Chung is one of a growing number of city dwellers who are getting into urban farming, not just to grow their own vegetables, but also as an exercise in waste reduction. Her new habits reflect a larger change underway in South Korea’s densely populated capital. Once a city where unsightly and foul-smelling landfills loomed over entire neighborhoods, Seoul now operates one of the most rigorous food waste recycling programs in the world. The South Korean government banned sending food to landfills in 2005 and, in 2013, also prohibited the dumping of garbage juice (leftover water squeezed from food waste) into the sea. Today, a staggering 95 percent of food waste is recycled ― a remarkable leap from less than 2 percent in 1995. On Chung’s street, residents emerge at dusk to deposit small yellow bags into designated waste collection buckets. Since 2013, South Koreans have been required by law to discard food waste in these biodegradable bags, priced according to volume and costing the average four-person family about $6 a month. This tax pays for roughly 60 percent of the cost of collecting and processing the city’s food waste, according to government data.

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Why Chile’s Route of Parks will be a ‘game changer for tourism’
2019-09-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/sep/26/patagonia-chile-routes-parks-n...

The pioneering conservationist behind the world’s most ambitious rewilding project has revealed “game-changing” plans that could transform tourism in Chilean Patagonia. After 25 years of strategic land acquisition by Kristine Tompkins and her late husband Douglas – which led to the creation last year of five new national parks in southern Chile – Tompkins said the next challenge was to encourage 60 communities across the region to develop tourism ventures that will help protect the biodiversity on their doorstep. Speaking in London at the European launch of the 1,700-mile Route of Parks, a marketing initiative encompassing 17 national parks throughout Patagonia, Tompkins said: “We want local people to have a sense of ownership and pride. They will become the first line of defence in conservation.” The launch of the route ... follows the creation of five new national parks and the expansion of three others, all in Chilean Patagonia after the Tompkins Foundation handed over a million acres to the Chilean state – the largest private donation of land ever. The handover was ... aimed at returning farmed land to its natural state and creating wildlife corridors. The Foundation also owns land in Argentina, where its flagship rewilding project is seeing species being reintroduced to the newly created Iberá national park in the north-west. In total the Tompkins’ philanthropic work amounts to $345m. To date the Foundation has helped protect 5.75 million hectares across Chile and Argentina.

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Thinking About Having a ‘Green’ Funeral? Here’s What to Know
2018-03-22, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/smarter-living/green-funeral-burial-enviro...

A typical American funeral usually involves a few hallmarks we’ve come to expect: an expensive coffin, lots of flowers, an embalming for the deceased and a number of other add-ons. But how necessary are those embellishments? Enter the “green burial.” The specifics of a green burial vary widely, but typically they require far fewer resources for the care of the body and skip a number of the traditional steps, making them better for the environment. Plus, they can save families on funeral costs. Interest in these pared-down, eco-friendly options has grown as people look for ways to cut their carbon footprint. 72 percent of cemeteries are reporting an increased demand. The Green Burial Council’s steps for minimizing negative environmental effects include forgoing embalming, skipping concrete vaults, rethinking burial containers and maintaining and protecting natural habitat. Choices can be made at each step of the death care process to limit waste, reduce the carbon footprint and even nourish the local ecosystem. Embalming, vaults and coffins can be expensive. Replacing them with other options or scrapping them altogether can save money as well as the environment. The extent of how “green” a burial can be is up to the individual; the service can be as simple as wrapping the deceased in a cotton shroud before lowering them into the ground. The services can also [involve] a memorial ceremony and burial in a conservation park like Washington’s Greenacres.

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How Kenya Got To Be No. 3 On A Survey Of Most Generous Nations
2017-11-27, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/11/27/554289229/how-kenya-got-...

Each year, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) compiles a World Giving Index, and the 2017 rankings list Kenya as the third most generous nation behind Myanmar and Indonesia. The rankings are based on three data points from Gallup's World Poll: the percent of respondents who have donated, volunteered and helped a stranger in the previous month. Overall, the survey found that global giving was down, led by a decline in developed countries. The United States dropped from 2nd to 5th but still gives the largest percentage of its gross domestic product — 2.1 percent. But as reflected by Kenya's rise from 40th five years ago to number 3, there is a bright spot in the new rankings. And it's not just a Kenyan trend. "The big story this year is the amazing rise in giving across Africa," says Sir John Low, CAF's chief executive. Kenyan Caroline Teti is the external relations director of GiveDirectly, which gives direct cash transfers in impoverished communities in Kenya. There's only one word on the Kenyan coat of arms — "harambee" — she says. It's Swahili, meaning: "all pull together." "I think the harambee spirit has inculcated in Kenyans a strong sense of giving," Teti wrote by email, "[P]eople traditionally view individual pressure as a matter that should concern the whole community. In many communities in Kenya, people gave materially to other community members under distress. This took [on] a totally new dimension as people looked to improve the education of their clansmen and the larger community."

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Washington State is First in the Nation to License Outdoor Preschools
2019-10-02, Newsweek
https://www.newsweek.com/washington-state-first-nation-license-outdoor-presch...

As nationwide interest in outdoor preschool programs increases, Washington is now the first state in the nation to officially license them. Washington's Department of Children, Youth and Families began to establish the pilot licensing standards in 2017 for outdoor preschools, nature-based early learning and child care programs. Outdoor preschools have been around for decades in places like Germany, Norway and Denmark. These programs were designed as a response to the trend of children spending very little time outdoors. "There's a beauty in being able to see kids run outdoors and look at slugs and take care of plants and animals," Hannah Kinney, outdoor preschool educator, told The Seattle Times. "You do see students that need that space to move their bodies and feel like they have that choice and ownership of their learning." Most outdoor preschool children spend the majority of their time outside, though many of the schools have an indoor option for a place to convene or emergencies. The children are outfitted at the beginning of the year with appropriate gear for every kind of weather. Activities can include daily hikes, identifying plants and animals, exploration and community-building. "They are learning all kinds of valuable principles about gravity, and texture, and shapes and colors and all the things you might expect to see in a preschool curriculum," the late Erin Kenny, founder of Cedarsong Nature School, [said]. "They are just doing it outdoors and at their own pace."

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Banks worth $47 trillion adopt new UN-backed climate principle
2019-09-23, CNBC/Reuters
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/23/banks-worth-47-trillion-adopt-new-un-backed-c...

Banks with more than $47 trillion in assets, or a third of the global industry, adopted new U.N.-backed “responsible banking” principles to fight climate change on Sunday that would shift their loan books away from fossil fuels. Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, and Barclays were among 130 banks to join the new framework on the eve of a United Nations summit in New York aimed at pushing companies and governments to act quickly to avert catastrophic global warming. “These principles mean banks have to consider the impact of their loans on society not just on their portfolio,” Simone Dettling, banking team lead for the Geneva-based United Nations Environment Finance Initiative, told Reuters. Financing for oil, gas and coal projects has come under particular scrutiny as climate scientists step up calls to change the global economy’s deep reliance on fossil-fuels. The principles, drawn up jointly by U.N. officials and banks, require lenders to: Align their strategies with the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb global warming and U.N.-backed targets to fight poverty called the Sustainable Development Goals, set targets to increase “positive impacts” and reduce “negative impacts” on people and the environment, work with clients and customers to encourage sustainable practices, [and] be transparent and accountable about their progress. The principles’ main backers say the norms will encourage banks to pivot their loan portfolios away from carbon-intensive assets and redirect capital to greener industries.

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Main IKEA retailer expects to exceed renewable energy goal by year's end
2019-09-19, Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ikea-renewable-energy/main-ikea-retailer-e...

Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA stores, will by year’s end exceed its 2020 target to produce as much renewable energy as the energy it consumes, Ingka Chief Executive Jesper Brodin said. Ingka Group has spent 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 bln) over the past decade on wind farms, rooftop solar panels on its stores and warehouses and, most recently, on its first-ever off-site solar parks. It announced this week the acquisition of a 49% stake in two U.S. solar parks due to come into operation in coming months. Ikea is the world’s biggest furniture group; Ingka Group owns most of its retail operations. Brodin told Reuters that Ingka plans to go on investing in wind farms and solar parks. “Being climate smart is not an added cost. It’s actually smart business and what the business model of the future will look like ... Everything around fossil fuels and daft use of resources will be expensive,” he said. Brodin urged companies and government leaders at Monday’s United Nations-hosted Climate Action Summit in New York to commit to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit), as called for by scientists. More than 400 firms including IKEA, H & M, Coca-Cola and Sony have committed to a U.N.-backed initiative to help limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. Ingka said its renewable energy power now equals more than 1.7 gigawatts (GW)of power - spread over 920,000 solar modules on its sites, 534 wind turbines in 14 countries and the 700,000 solar panels under construction in the United States.

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'Rampant Consumerism Is Not Attractive.' Patagonia Is Climbing to the Top — and Reimagining Capitalism Along the Way
2019-09-23, Time
https://time.com/5684011/patagonia/

Patagonia has long been at the forefront of what is now emerging as an increasingly popular new flavor of capitalism. Today’s customers want their dollars to go to companies that will use their money to make the world a better place. Patagonia donates 1 percent of sales to environmental nonprofits, and in 2016 gave 100 percent of Black Friday sales—about $10 million—to environmental groups. Late last year, it changed its mission statement to “We’re in business to save our home planet.” And on Sept. 20, Patagonia shut down its stores and offices so that employees ... could strike alongside youth climate activists. Environmental activism has been part of Patagonia’s DNA since it was founded. It has donated $100 million since 1985 to environmental groups, including the Conservation Alliance, which it helped found in 1989 and which works to protect nature in America. It has been repairing customer’s clothes since the 1970s, and it operates one of the largest apparel repair centers in North America. In 2013, it launched a venture capital fund that invests in start-ups that work on environmental issues, such as Wild Idea Buffalo, which raises buffalo while restoring grasslands to the Great Plains, and Bureo, which converts discarded fishing nets into consumer products like sunglasses. Patagonia “really walks the walk and talks the talk,” said Richard Jaffe, an independent retail consultant. “They invest a lot of time and energy into being a catalyst for change.”

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Vanishing Violence: Youth crime continues historic drop across US
2019-10-03, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Vanishing-Violence-Youth-crime-cont...

Youth crime continues to plummet across the country, with arrests of people under age 18 falling for the 13th straight year and reaching lows not seen in at least six decades, new FBI figures show. The number of juveniles arrested nationwide declined 11% from 2017 to 2018 alone, compared to a 2% drop for adults. Arrests of young people for violent crimes — rape, robbery, assault and murder — fell 5%, while they actually increased slightly for those 18 and older. The 2018 arrest rate among juveniles — 21.3 per 1,000 youths — is half of what it was in the 1960s and less than one-quarter of what it was in the mid-1990s, at the peak of a youth crime spike, according to an analysis of the FBI data provided to The Chronicle by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco. “It’s not just historic lows, it’s a historic chasm,” said Mike Males, a senior research fellow with the center. “It’s not even leveling out.” The data show that the trend of juveniles committing less crime has crept up into young adults, with arrests among those 18 to 24 also declining significantly in recent years. The changes could have profound implications on communities and the criminal justice system in years ahead. “That may be the result of the low-crime juvenile generation aging into their 20s,” Males said. “Hopefully this generation is beginning to impact older generations.” The plunge in teen crime extended to urban, suburban and rural counties, according to the FBI statistics.

Note: Sadly, this inspiring news has gotten very little media coverage other than in San Francisco. Why won't the media report this incredibly encouraging trend? Read more on this very hopeful trend on this webpage filled with hopeful and inspiring news.


California Just Legalized Public Banks. Will the Rest of the Nation Follow Suit?
2019-10-03, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/california-public-banking-law-20191003

The Standing Rock movement in 2016 brought together Indigenous activists from across the nation to fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. One of the demands of this movement included divestment from Wells Fargo, a bank that was funding development of the pipeline. This brought into the spotlight ... big for-profit banks that the government uses to invest public money into Wall Street, rather than local communities. Some of those investments include the fossil fuel industry, private prisons, immigrant detention centers, and more. The divestment movement is mostly about getting those government investments ... out of the big banks. The question then becomes where to put them. Some ... say the answer is public banking. In September, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 857, a law that would allow a regulatory framework for public banking in the state. This would allow the establishment of banks that hold the government’s money and include socially responsible charters. Debbie Notkin, who works with the California Public Banking Alliance, says that by law, all corporations, which includes private banks, are legally obligated to maximize profit. Public banks are not held to this expectation, however, and are instead mandated to serve their communities. Community investments have unlimited possibilities, including affordable housing, saving people from foreclosure, making student loans more affordable, and creating more infrastructure to defend against the effects of climate change.

Note: Ellen Brown is a dedicated researcher who has promoted public banks for years. Check out her excellent work on her website at https://ellenbrown.com. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This charity is feeding the hungry and helping the planet by rescuing millions of pounds of leftover food
2019-09-25, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/25/health/iyw-forgotten-harvest-food-waste-trnd/i...

According to FDA estimates, the United States wastes 30 to 40% of its food. That's hard to swallow when you consider that one in 10 US households faced food insecurity in 2018. That means roughly 14 million families are struggling to put meals on the table while approximately 30 million tons of food are trashed. For 29 years Forgotten Harvest, a nonprofit in Detroit, has been rescuing food destined for landfills and redirecting it to the hungry. Forgotten Harvest CEO Kirk Mayes says it's taken that long to develop the logistics for his program, which now rescues and delivers 130,000 pounds of food a day. "This operation is set up so that our fleet of about 27 trucks and our drivers can leave our warehouse in the morning and go to about 12 to 14 different stops ... for our donations." Mayes says. Drivers collect food from local bakers and butchers and national chains, he says. "And then these drivers redistribute the food to three to four community partners on a daily basis." A rotating army of 16,000 volunteers makes this daily event happen. "At our warehouse, our volunteers are working with commodities that are coming off of our farm and from other commodity partners like the food manufacturers and other farms and donations," Mayes says. "All this (food) is inspected, sorted and set to go out." The result? Last year Forgotten Harvest redistributed 41 million pounds of food, Mayes says. That's 41 million pounds that filled stomachs instead of landfills.

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New UCLA institute will study — and spread — kindness
2019-09-24, Los Angeles Times
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-24/ucla-bedari-kindness-inst...

A friendly smile. A food pantry donation. Such acts of kindness have a self-serving upside ... as science has conclusively shown they also make you healthier. UCLA is poised to advance that science with the ... launch of the world’s first interdisciplinary research institute on kindness, which will explore, for instance, how and why being nice to others reduces depression and the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Research by UCLA scientists already has shown that mindfulness and kindness actually alter the behavior of genes, turning down those that promote inflammation, which can lead to heart disease or certain cancers, and turning up the activity of genes that protect against infections. But the ultimate goal of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute is to spread kindness and promote a more humane world. It will develop training tools to help practice kindness and spread them through online programs, public lectures, media outreach and a free app called UCLA Mindful. When it comes to kindness, the intention, rather than the outcome, is key. In other words, it’s the thought that counts, as the adage goes. “Cultivating kind thoughts increases the frequency of kind actions, and both the thoughts and the experience of engaging in the actions have positive effects on the well-being of the individual,” said Daniel Fessler ... the institute’s inaugural director. The institute’s work ... will focus on three themes: the roots of kindness, how to promote it, and how to use it as a therapeutic intervention to improve mental and physical health.

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The University of California Is Dumping Fossil Fuel Investments
2019-09-17, Time/Associated Press
https://time.com/5679965/university-of-california-fossil-fuel-investments/

The University of California is dumping fossil fuel investments from its nearly $84 billion pension and endowment funds because they are a financial risk, its top financial officers announced. “Our job is to make money for the University of California, and we’re betting we can do that without fossil fuels investments,” said an opinion article in the Los Angeles Times written by Jagdeep Singh Bachher, UC’s chief investment officer and treasurer, and Richard Sherman, chair of the Board of Regents Investments Committee. UC’s $13.4 billion endowment fund will be “fossil free” by the end of the month and its $70 billion pension fund “will soon be that way,” the article said. The article appeared the same day that UC announced its president and chancellors had signed a letter declaring a “climate emergency,” joining more than 7,000 colleges and universities around the world. The UC leaders agreed to increase climate research and environmental education and to achieve climate neutrality by 2025. “We have a moral responsibility to take swift action on climate change,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. The 10-campus system has been shedding fossil fuel investments for several years. It previously dumped several hundred million dollars’ worth of investments in coal, tar sands and companies building a Dakota-to-Illinois oil pipeline.

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First gas station in America to ditch oil for 100% electric vehicle charging opens in Maryland
2019-09-26, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/26/first-gas-station-to-ditch-oil-for-electric-v...

The first gas station in the U.S. that has been completely transitioned from a petroleum station to exclusively charging EVs opened Thursday in Takoma Park, Maryland. RS Automotives, the local gas station, has been around since 1958. Depeswar Doley, owner of the station since 1997, said he was already unhappy with the way oil and gasoline companies structure contracts — such as limiting the use of multiple suppliers, including clauses that extend contracts when a certain volume of sales is not met and limiting maintenance support. These business factors already were pushing him to consider other options. A nudge from his daughter was the final step in convincing Doley to make the switch to EV charging. “My daughter, who is 17, she is the one who convinced me after I told her that I was going to talk to the [Electric Vehicle Institute] guys,” Doley said. There are more than 20,700 registered EVs in Maryland, and the area also has an electric taxi service in need of more chargers for their business. The gas station conversion was jointly funded by the Electric Vehicle Institute and the Maryland Energy Administration, which provided a grant of $786,000. The station will feature four dispensers that connect to a high-powered, 200kW system. The system will allow four vehicles to charge simultaneously and reach 80% battery charge in 20 to 30 minutes. Drivers can go inside and sit in an automated convenience store with screens that allow drivers to track their vehicle’s charging progress.

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She started helping Detroit's impoverished community in her house. Now, her nonprofit has reached 250,000 people
2019-09-12, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/12/us/cnnheroes-najah-bazzy-zaman-international/i...

Najah Bazzy can pinpoint the moment her life changed. In 1996, she was working as a nurse when she visited an Iraqi refugee family to help care for their dying infant. She knew the situation would be difficult, but she wasn't prepared for what she encountered. "There, at the house, I got my first glimpse of poverty," she said. That day, Bazzy and her family gathered all the furniture and household items that they could - including a crib - and delivered everything to the family. She hasn't stopped since. For years, Bazzy ran her goodwill effort from her home, transporting donated goods in her family's minivan. Eventually, her efforts grew into Zaman International, a nonprofit that now supports impoverished women and children of all backgrounds in the Detroit area. The group has helped more than 250,000 people. Today, Zaman operates from a 40,000-square-foot facility in the suburb of Inkster. The group's warehouse offers aisles of food, rows of clothes and vast arrays of furniture free to those in need. The group's case managers help clients access housing and other services. "We work to stabilize them as quickly as we can," Bazzy said. "Women walk in and they are in desperate need, and they walk out with their basic needs met." The group's donated clothing and furniture are also available to the public through its Good Deeds Resale Shop. "Our mothers are able to come. They get a voucher and have the same dignified shopping experience as somebody else, but (do) not have to pay for it," she said.

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This 15-year-old biker took on a men's world of Motocross and left them in the dust
2019-09-09, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/09/africa/zimbabwes-15-year-old-motocross-star-in...

Tanyaradzwa 'Tanya' Muzinda is not your average teenager. At 15, she is already one of Zimbabwe's Motocross champions. Held on off-road circuits, Motocross is a form of motorbike racing that is dangerous, expensive and requires a lot of training. But these challenges have not stopped Tanya from competing. She came in third place at the 2017 HL Racing British Master Kids Championships at the Motoland track in England, which she says is still her most memorable race. In 2018, Muzinda was named Junior Sportswoman of the year in South Africa by the Africa Union Sports Council Region Five Annual Sports Awards. Her father, Tawanda Muzinda, says his daughter faces substantial challenges in her chosen field because it is an expensive sport. Muzinda often misses championships because of a lack of funds. The financial difficulties she faces [have] not stopped Muzinda from giving back to people in her community. In August, she paid tuition for 45 students to attend school in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, and hopes to pay for at least 500 more students by the end of 2020. "There have been many times I didn't race for months because of financial difficulties. I thought of the children who also don't have a chance to go to school because of money and decided to do something about it," she said. Muzinda uses donations and her Motocross prize money to support children from poorer families, especially girls who are often kept home from school. Muzinda also helps fundraise for an orphanage.

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Billionaire Robert Smith is erasing student loan debt from Morehouse grads – and their parents
2019-09-20, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/robert-smith-morehouse-college-billionaire-vista...

Billionaire Robert Smith is extending his goodwill months after he pledged to erase college loan debt for Morehouse College's 2019 graduating class. The technology investor and philanthropist is also paying off loan debt amassed by parents to send their children to the college, the school said on Friday. Morehouse College announced ... that Smith and his family donated $34 million to a fund that wipes away student debt for parents whose children attend the university. "This liberation gift from Robert Smith — the first of its kind to be announced at a graduation in higher education — will be life-changing for our new Morehouse Men and their families," said Morehouse College president David A. Thomas. Known as the Morehouse Student Success Program, the initiative was established as a national investment strategy to curb student loan debt and help graduates prosper faster, according to the release. Under the new plan, Morehouse will solicit and accept donations made specifically to reduce or eliminate the loan debt of students and their parents or guardians. More than 400 students, parents and guardians of the Class of 2019 will receive the inaugural gift under the initiative. The fund will cover education loan balances as of August 28. According to the release, six types of loans will be repaid: federal subsidized loans, federal unsubsidized loans, Georgia Student Access Loans, Perkins Loans, Parent Plus Loans and certain private student loans processed through Morehouse College.

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The World Wastes Tons of Food. A Grocery ‘Happy Hour’ Is One Answer.
2019-09-08, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/08/business/food-waste-climate-change.html

“Happy hour” at the S-market store in the working-class neighborhood of Vallila happens far from the liquor aisles and isn’t exactly convivial. Nobody is here for drinks or a good time. They’re looking for a steep discount on a slab of pork. Or a chicken, or a salmon fillet, or any of a few hundred items that are hours from their midnight expiration date. Food that is nearly unsellable goes on sale at every one of S-market’s 900 stores in Finland, with prices that are already reduced by 30 percent slashed to 60 percent off at exactly 9 p.m. It’s part of a two-year campaign to reduce food waste that company executives in this famously bibulous country decided to call “happy hour” in the hopes of drawing in regulars, like any decent bar. About one-third of the food produced and packaged for human consumption is lost or wasted, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. That equals 1.3 billion tons a year, worth nearly $680 billion. The figures represent more than just a disastrous misallocation of need and want, given that 10 percent of people in the world are chronically undernourished. All that excess food, scientists say, contributes to climate change. Mika Lyytikainen, an S-market vice president, explained that the program simply reduces its losses. “When we sell at 60 percent off, we don’t earn any money, but we earn more than if the food was given to charity,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s now possible for every Finn to buy very cheap food in our stores.”

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Why industry is going green on the quiet
2019-09-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/sep/08/producers-keep-sustainable-pr...

There’s a factory in Asia that uses only a single litre of water to make a pair of jeans. That’s 346 litres less than Levi-Strauss estimated it took to make a pair of its jeans in 2015. The manufacturer in question does not want to tell anyone about its groundbreaking water-conserving techniques – not even the companies it supplies. It is one of many practicing “secret sustainability”, whereby innovations are silently enacted and kept from the rest of the industry. This phenomenon is not limited to the clothing industry. Why would firms spearheading sustainable practices not publicise their good work? It’s a question that puzzles Professor Steve Evans ... at Cambridge University’s Institute for Manufacturing, who suggests that such examples are widespread. He believes this stems from a common perception that there must be some kind of downside to the introduction of sustainable practices: either a reduction in product quality, or an increase in the price of manufacturing, or both. Companies and consumers seem unable to accept that sustainability does not have to cost more to create an equally good product. This is despite an increase in evidence that actively investing in sustainable practices helps business thrive. An example is provided by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, a series of benchmarks assessing the sustainability of companies around the world. Research has repeatedly shown that those at the top end of the benchmark outperform those at the bottom.

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California bans private prisons – including Ice detention centers
2019-09-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/sep/12/california-private-prison-ban...

The private prison industry is set to be upended after California lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday banning the facilities from operating in the state. The move will probably also close down four large immigration detention facilities that can hold up to 4,500 people at a time. The legislation is being hailed as a major victory for criminal justice reform because it removes the profit motive from incarceration. It also marks a dramatic departure from California’s past, when private prisons were relied on to reduce crowding in state-run facilities. Private prison companies used to view California as one of their fastest-growing markets. As recently as 2016, private prisons locked up approximately 7,000 Californians, about 5% of the state’s total prison population, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. But in recent years, thousands of inmates have been transferred from private prisons back into state-run facilities. As of June, private prisons held 2,222 of California’s total inmate population. The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, must still sign AB32, but last year he signaled support for the ban and said during his inaugural speech in January that the state should “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all”. The bill’s author, the assemblymember Rob Bonta, originally wrote it only to apply to contracts between the state’s prison authority and private, for-profit prison companies. But in June, Bonta amended the bill to apply to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s four major California detention centers.

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Runaway teens don't qualify for foster care. So she created a solution.
2019-04-11, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/11/us/cnnheroes-vicki-sokolik-starting-right-now/...

Jahiem Morgan knew he was too young to be living on his own at 15 years old, but he didn't have much of a choice. Morgan found himself among the nearly 1.3 million young people across the United States who are classified as "unaccompanied youths" and can't get foster care because they chose to leave a situation rather than be removed by social services. Some of these young people are runaways; others leave abusive homes; and many identify as LGBTQ. They're out on their own, and many end up in dangerous situations -- living on the streets or in abandoned buildings. "Most people don't even know these kids exist," said Vicki Sokolik, who helps these teens in Tampa, Florida. Sokolik was first introduced to this population in 2006, when her then-teenage son told her about a classmate who was in danger of becoming homeless. Sokolik helped the girl, securing her a place to live and providing the resources she needed. The experience inspired Sokolik to do more. In 2007, she founded "Starting Right, Now," a nonprofit that helps unaccompanied youth ages 15 to 19 get permanent housing, graduate from high school and move on to their next goal. At-risk students in two Florida counties are referred to the program by their school guidance counselors. The program provides two homes where the students can live until they go to college or start their career. They also have access to tutoring, therapy and life skills classes. The organization has helped more than 200 young people, and 97% have graduated high school.

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A decade of renewable energy investment, led by solar, tops USD 2.5 trillion
2019-09-05, United Nations Environment Programme
https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/decade-renewable...

Global investment in new renewable energy capacity over this decade — 2010 to 2019 inclusive — is on course to hit USD 2.6 trillion, with more gigawatts of solar power capacity installed than any other generation technology. This investment is set to have roughly quadrupled renewable energy capacity (excluding large hydro) from 414 GW at the end of 2009 to just over 1,650 GW when the decade closes at the end of this year. Solar power will have drawn half — USD 1.3 trillion — of the USD 2.6 trillion in renewable energy capacity investments made over the decade. Solar alone will have grown from 25 GW at the beginning of 2010 to an expected 663 GW by the close of 2019 — enough to produce all the electricity needed each year by about 100 million average homes in the USA. The global share of electricity generation accounted for by renewables reached 12.9 per cent, in 2018, up from 11.6 per cent in 2017. This avoided an estimated 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions last year alone — a substantial saving given global power sector emissions of 13.7 billion tonnes in 2018. Including all major generating technologies (fossil and zero-carbon), the decade is set to see a net 2,366 GW of power capacity installed, with solar accounting for the largest single share (638 GW), coal second (529 GW), and wind and gas in third and fourth places (487 GW and 438 GW respectively).

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Examples Of Self-Interested Pursuits That Benefited All Of Humanity
2019-09-06, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/semyondukach/2019/09/06/3-examples-of-self-inter...

The following achievements stand as examples for what humanity is capable of when the end result benefits both the self and the other. In other words, they are examples of when nations decided to cooperate with each other for self-interested reasons, yet still produced results that benefited the rest of humanity. In 1985, a group of British scientists warned the world that the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) was wreaking havoc on the ozone layer. A treaty known as the Montreal Protocol was drawn up, and for the first time in history, it was universally ratified (197 countries have signed on to date). As a result, the world successfully phased out 99% of ozone-depleting chemicals. If this hadn’t been created, the Earth’s ozone layer would have collapsed by 2050. The Human Genome Project was an international effort to map out the DNA sequence of the entire human genome. The knowledge gained from the project has led to better treatment, detection and prevention of human disease. It has opened doors to a greater understanding of the code that determines so much of our lives, and has provided key clues for further unraveling the human mystery. The International Space Station is, of course, a classic example of global collaboration in pursuit of knowledge and discovery. Research at the ISS has resulted in everything from the creation of advanced water filtration systems, to developing drugs for muscular dystrophy, to robotics used in surgery, to the development of better vaccines.

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People with higher optimism more likely to live 'exceptionally long lives'
2019-08-27, Medical News Today
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326163.php

New research finds that individuals with higher optimism tend to live longer and also have greater odds of living 85 years and more. A recent PNAS paper describes how the researchers assessed the link between higher optimism and longer lifespan, with a particular focus on the chances of reaching "exceptional longevity." The team carried out the study because most research on exceptional longevity has tended to focus on the effect of "biomedical factors." More recently, however, scientists have become interested in the role of nonbiological factors. "While research has identified many risk factors for diseases and premature death," says first and corresponding author Lewina O. Lee, Ph.D., "we know relatively less about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging." She and her colleagues defined optimism as the "general expectation that good things will happen or the belief that the future will be favorable because one can control important outcomes." For the analysis, the team brought together data on 69,744 females ... and 1,429 males. The questionnaires that they completed ... included items on optimism. When the researchers analyzed the data, they found that the females and males with the highest levels of optimism ... lived on average 11–15% longer than those with the lowest levels of optimism. In addition, [those] with the highest levels of optimism had a 50–70% greater likelihood of living until their 85th birthday and beyond.

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This southern city is fighting food deserts with a forest of free produce
2019-05-24, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/24/us/atlanta-food-forest-fighting-food-desert/in...

Among the heavily trafficked streets of Atlanta, a massive urban food forest is growing to provide fresh produce for the public. But what exactly is a food forest? In the fight against food deserts - low income areas that lack access to fresh, whole foods - a food forest is a public space in the city where fresh produce will grow in trees, bushes, plants, and community garden beds for the community to enjoy. And at 7.1 acres, the site in Atlanta will become the city's first and the nation's largest. In the Lakewood-Browns Mill community, which will house the Urban Food Forest, more than a third of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the USDA, who has assisted in the project. "Residents still talk about the land's former owners, who left excess produce from their farm on fence posts for neighbors to claim and enjoy," the USDA said. "Now this land will celebrate that history and make new memories for the community." A city ordinance passed in the beginning of the month grants money for the city to purchase the plot from the Conservation Fund, which currently owns and has helped develop the land. In addition to community outreach and education, the forest is meant to make strides in the city's goal of putting 85% of residents within a half mile of fresh food by 2021.

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Cutting-edge experiments show an electrical zap improves memory in older adults
2019-05-10, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/may-11-2019-zapping-the-brain-to-improve-memo...

Two complementary studies recently found that noninvasive and extremely mild brain stimulation could be used to improve episodic and working memory in older adults. "We can make these 60 and 70-year-olds look strikingly like our 20-year-old participants," researcher Robert Reinhart [said]. The first study used a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to induce mild neural firing in the brain. The research team stimulated the participants' brains for half an hour a day for five days. They then measured the adults' memory ability 24 hours after the final day of stimulation and found their recall ability on a memory test had improved 31 per cent. The second study, led by Robert Reinhart from ... Boston University, used a different technology, and stimulated different regions of the brain. Using electroencephalography, or EEG, which records the electrical activity of the brain, Reinhart found evidence that older adults' brain waves were out-of-sync in critical brain regions used by working memory or short-term memory. Reinhart then tried to ameliorate the problem by using a precise and customizable electrical stimulation technology called "high definition transcranial alternating current stimulation," or HD-tACS for short. The team applied current for 25 minutes to 42 older participants' brains, and saw improvements during this time on a memory test that they did before they received stimulation. As in Voss' study, the subjects' performance increased to the point that it was equal to that of 20-year-olds.

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Do Plants Have Something to Say?
2019-08-26, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/26/style/can-plants-talk.html

Monica Gagliano says that she has received Yoda-like advice from trees and shrubbery. She recalls being rocked like a baby by the spirit of a fern. She has ridden on the back of an invisible bear conjured by an osha root. These interactions have taken place in dreams, visions, songs and telekinetic interactions, sometimes with the help of shamans or ayahuasca. Dr. Gagliano’s scientific research ... has broken boundaries in the field of plant behavior and signaling. Currently at the University of Sydney in Australia, she has published a number of studies that support the view that plants are, to some extent, intelligent. Her experiments suggest that they can learn behaviors and remember them. Her work also suggests that plants can “hear” running water and even produce clicking noises, perhaps to communicate. She believes, like many scientists and environmentalists do, that in order to save the planet we have to understand ourselves as part of the natural world. It’s just that she also believes the plants themselves can speak to this point. “I want people to realize that the world is full of magic, but not as something only some people can do, or something that is outside of this world,” she said. “No, it’s all here.” At the [world science] festival, a young woman asked Dr. Gagliano how her scientific work had changed her understanding of the world. “The main difference is that I used to live in a world of objects, and now I live in a world of subjects,” she said. There were murmurs of approval. “And so, I am never alone.”

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Women break barriers in engineering and computer science at some top colleges
2016-09-16, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/women-break-barriers-in-engine...

Women are making major gains in enrollment in engineering and computer science at some of the nation’s most prominent colleges and universities. While men still far outnumber women nationally — 4 to 1 in engineering, 5 to 1 in computer science — female students are gaining ground slowly at many schools and rapidly at others. The federal government and industry leaders acknowledge that more should be done to bring women into science, technology, engineering and math, known as the STEM fields, and they have pushed programs such as Girls Who Code to boost interest among girls at a young age. Samantha Horry, 18, from the suburbs of Philadelphia, is one of 80 young women among 165 new computer science students this fall at Carnegie Mellon. She fell for the subject in high school, taking eight classes. Almost always, she was the only girl. “Just me and some guys,” she recalled. That didn’t deter her from winning admission to one of the country’s most prestigious programs to pursue her interests in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Now Horry is startled at how many young women on campus are following her path in a field where the stereotype of the male teenage computer geek, obsessed with gaming and programming, looms large. She looks around in class and sees, for the first time, gender balance. “It’s crazy and awesome,” Horry said. “I don’t feel out of place.”

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The World's Largest Electric Vehicle Is a Dump Truck
2019-08-21, Popular Mechanics
https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/infrastructure/a28748306/worlds-l...

While electric vehicles are quickly proliferating throughout the world, most electric engines are still relegated to smaller vehicles. But then there's the Elekto Dumper - the world's largest EV - which flouts the rule that EVs can't handle serious work. The truck is used to haul lime and marlstone, which contains clay and silt, from the sides of mountains in Switzerland. Then, the material is transported directly to a cement factory. But here's the really impressive piece of engineering—this heavy dump truck never needs to be charged. Here's how it works: The dump truck, itself, weighs 45 tons and ascends a hill at a 13 percent grade, in one scenario. On the way back down, it's more than twice as heavy, carrying 65 tons of ore. To rectify that scenario, the truck's "regenerative braking system" actually recaptures the energy created by going downhill, refilling the battery's charge for the next time the truck travels uphill. The dump truck is officially called the Elektro Dumper, but the German manufacturer, Kuhn Schweitz, made life a lot easier by naming it eDumper for short. The eDumper was modeled on a Komatsu HB 605-7, a massive dump truck: It's 30 feet long, 14 feet wide, and 14 feet tall. Kuhn Schweitz said that making the trip from quarry to cement factory 20 times in one day produces a surplus of 200 kilowatt-hours of energy (or 77 megawatt-hours per year). Your average dump truck, by contrast, uses between 11,000 and 22,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year.

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He teaches incarcerated kids to honor his mom who was denied education. Now, he's National Teacher of the Year.
2019-04-26, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/24/us/rodney-robinson-2019-teacher-of-the-year-tr...

[Rodney] Robinson, who teaches at Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center in Virginia, was just named the National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers. "He creates a positive school culture by empowering his students - many of whom have experienced trauma - to become civically minded social advocates who use their skills and voices to affect physical and policy changes at their school and in their communities," the council said in a statement. After seeing his mom "transform" while pursuing her GED, Robinson decided to become a history and social studies teacher. He has been teaching for 19 years. In 2015, Robinson moved to teaching at the juvenile detention center because he wanted to understand the school-to-prison pipeline, which refers to strict school policies that can push students from disadvantaged backgrounds to leave school and become incarcerated. Many of the students at Virgie Binford come from impoverished backgrounds, live in high-crime areas and have had negative contact with schools and the judicial system, Principal Ta'Neisha Ford said. The educators' goal is to help these students fall back in love with school. "(Robinson) allows students to really shine and he gives them the tools to succeed," Ford said. Robinson said he's honored to have won the teacher of the year title. He is working on programs to lower high school dropout rates.

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Judge's running club helps Skid Row's homeless rebuild their lives
2019-04-12, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/04/us/cnnheroes-judge-craig-mitchell-skid-row-run...

Twice a week, before the sun comes up, Judge Craig Mitchell runs the mile from his office at the county courthouse to The Midnight Mission, a social services organization centered in Downtown's Skid Row - the notorious area where the city's largest homeless population resides. At the mission, he meets a group of 30 to 40 people, and together they run through East L.A. The group includes runners from all walks of life and all levels of athleticism. Some members are homeless or in recovery, and others are lawyers, social workers, students or off-duty LAPD officers. Mitchell developed the program in 2012 after a man he'd once sentenced to prison returned to thank him. "He was paroled to The Midnight Mission and decided to come back and say, 'Thank you, Judge Mitchell, for treating me like a human being.' "The president of the mission at the time asked me if there was something that I could do to contribute to the mission's program, and I thought of starting a running club. That was the inception," Mitchell said. Between 300 and 500 people have since run with the group, now an official nonprofit. Every year, Mitchell takes his most dedicated Skid Row runners on a free trip to participate in an international marathon. In recent years, Mitchell and club members have participated in marathons in Ghana, Rome, Vietnam and Jerusalem. Mitchell says he's seen participants turn their lives around, attending college, securing full-time employment and maintaining sobriety.

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Who’s the boss? In worker-owned cooperatives, everyone is.
2019-08-02, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2019/0802/Who-s-the-boss-In-worker-owned-c...

The chain of command at PV Squared, a solar panel installation company in Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley, is admittedly convoluted. “Technically, I’m Kim’s boss,” says general manager Jonathan Gregory of bookkeeper Kim Pinkham. But “Kim’s on the board, and the board oversees my position, so technically she’s my boss.” As members of a worker-owned cooperative, the 40-plus employees elect their own board of directors and make decisions based not on majority rule, but by consensus. When they’re not holding the microphone, members at meetings express themselves with hand signals: a flat palm for a question or statement, a raised index finger for direct response, and a hand cupped in a “C” for a clarification. Currently, worker-owned entities employ about 17 million people, or 12% of the U.S. workforce. Such business can take a variety of forms, from equity-sharing plans like those found at Publix super markets, Land O’Lakes, and King Arthur Flour, to more radical models, like at PV Squared. By far the most common are employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs. On the other end of the spectrum are workers collectives ... where there is no hierarchy. Collective Copies, a copy shop with 11 workers and locations in Amherst and Florence, Massachusetts, operates according to this model. After a trial period of six months, new hires are invited to become owners. “Everyone’s on the board of directors,” says Matt Grillo, a worker-owner who has been with Collective Copies for 20 years.

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Danish bank launches world’s first negative interest rate mortgage
2019-08-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/aug/13/danish-bank-launches-worlds-fir...

A Danish bank has launched the world’s first negative interest rate mortgage – handing out loans to homeowners where the charge is minus 0.5% a year. Negative interest rates effectively mean that a bank pays a borrower to take money off their hands, so they pay back less than they have been loaned. Jyske Bank, Denmark’s third largest, has begun offering borrowers a 10-year deal at -0.5%, while another Danish bank, Nordea, says it will begin offering 20-year fixed-rate deals at 0% and a 30-year mortgage at 0.5%. Under its negative mortgage, Jyske said borrowers will make a monthly repayment as usual – but the amount still outstanding will be reduced each month by more than the borrower has paid. The mortgage is possible because Denmark, as well as Sweden and Switzerland, has seen rates in money markets drop to levels that turn banking upside-down. Hřegh said Jyske Bank is able to go into money markets and borrow from institutional investors at a negative rate, and is simply passing this on to its customers. In Denmark, interest rates on savings deposited in Jyske ... have already fallen to zero. In reality, the Jyske mortgage borrower in Denmark is likely to end up paying back a little more than they borrowed, as there are still fees and charges to pay to compensate the bank for arranging the deal, even when the nominal rate is negative.

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Amazon to Sellers: Use Eco-Friendly Packaging or Pay a Fine
2019-08-01, Fortune
https://fortune.com/2019/08/01/amazon-eco-friendly-packaging-fine/

Amazon is threatening third-party sellers with fines for using excessive packaging for large items, in an effort to reduce waste, minimize shipping costs and ensure that customers can open boxes more easily. Third-party sellers who violate the rules can be fined $1.99 per order. The new fines, announced in a letter to sellers in September, were supposed to take effect on Aug. 1, giving sellers nearly one year to become compliant. However, Amazon is delaying implementing the rules until Sept. 3 because some sellers want Amazon to first certify their packaging as being acceptable. In the ramp up to the new rules, Amazon has been giving sellers a $1 per order credit to get them on board with the new shipping guidelines. The new rules in September only apply to items that are larger than 18 x 14 x 8 inches, or over 20 pounds. It's all part of Amazon's broader environmental push. Amazon revamped its own packaging in 2010 with its so-called Frustration-Free Packaging initiative, which aims to cut down on waste and ensure that customers can open packages without box cutters and scissors. It has also cleared some products to be shipped without extra packaging. Also as part of its environmental efforts, Amazon says it has avoided using 244,000 tons of packing materials over the past decade, or as many as 500 million boxes.

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Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness Through Music
2019-01-29, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/29/well/mind/fighting-the-stigma-of-mental-il...

When Ronald Braunstein conducts an orchestra, there’s no sign of his bipolar disorder. He’s confident and happy. Music isn’t his only medicine, but its healing power is potent. Scientific research has shown that music helps fight depression, lower blood pressure and reduce pain. The National Institutes of Health has a partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts called Sound Health: Music and the Mind, to expand on the links between music and mental health. It explores how listening to, performing or creating music involves brain circuitry that can be harnessed to improve health and well-being. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said: “We’re bringing neuroscientists together with musicians to speak each other’s language. Mental health conditions are among those areas we’d like to see studied.” Mr. Braunstein, 63, has experienced the benefits of music for his own mental health and set out to bring them to others. Mr. Braunstein reached out to [Caroline Whiddon] about creating an orchestra that welcomed musicians with mental illnesses and family members and friends who support them. Mr. Braunstein called his new venture the Me2/Orchestra, because when he told other musicians about his mental health diagnosis, they’d often respond, “Me too.” In 2014, a second orchestra, Me2/Boston, was created. At each performance, a few musicians briefly talk about their mental illnesses and take questions from the audience.

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FGM rates in east Africa drop from 71% to 8% in 20 years, study shows
2018-11-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/nov/07/fgm-rates-in-east-...

The number of girls undergoing female genital mutilation has fallen dramatically in east Africa over the past two decades, according to a study published in BMJ Global Health. The study, which looked at rates of FGM among girls aged 14 and under, suggests that prevalence in east Africa has dropped from 71.4% in 1995, to 8% in 2016. The reported falls in the rates of FGM are far greater than previous studies have suggested. The rates of FGM practised on children have fallen in north Africa, from 57.7% in 1990 to 14.1% in 2015. In west Africa, prevalence is also reported to have decreased from 73.6% in 1996 to 25.4% in 2017. The study aimed to assess if FGM awareness campaigns targeted at mothers had been successful. Unlike many other studies, older teenagers and adult women – who tend to have higher rates of FGM – were not included. The research developed estimates by pooling and comparing FGM data by proportion across countries and regions. The report did not examine the reasons why FGM rates had fallen, but said it was likely to have been driven by policy changes, national and international investment. National laws banning FGM have been introduced in 22 out of 28 practising African countries, according to the campaign group 28 Too Many. The report concluded that if the goal of eliminating FGM was to be reached, further efforts were urgently needed, including working with religious and community leaders, youth and health workers.

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Bus driver buys homeless rider dinner, lets him stay on warm bus all night
2018-11-28, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bus-driver-buys-homeless-rider-dinner-let-him-st...

www.cbsnews.com/news/bus-driver-buys-homeless-rider-dinner-let-him-stay...

On a recent chilly night in Wisconsin, a Milwaukee bus driver extended an act of kindness to a homeless rider. Natalie Barnes was driving her usual route when a man named Richard ... got on and told her that he had just lost his home. Natalie offered to buy him dinner, but when the proud man refused, she pivoted — offering, instead, a place where Richard could stay safe and warm for the night. "Well, I'm on this bus 'til 2:44," she [said]. "You want to stay with me then?" "OK," he responds. So, for hours, as she drove and picked up passengers throughout the city, Richard sat quietly in the first row. And finally, when it was time for Natalie's break, the two spent some time talking. Then he let the kind bus driver buy him dinner. She also reached out to a community organization that was able to help Richard find temporary housing and supportive services. "The community really needs to help with the homeless people that are outside," Natalie Barnes later said. "There are a lot of people who are looking in garbages for food. They're underdressed. They don't have anywhere to go... They still should have basic necessities, like food and like clothing, just to survive." So, on that chilly night in October, that's what she gave a man in need. And since then, she's given him something even better — a friend. "Richard has become a friend of mine," she said, breaking into a huge smile. "We talk every couple of days. And he thanks me every time he talks to me for helping him. He calls me his little guardian angel."

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Teenagers are better than you in California
2018-04-26, Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California's leading newspaper)
https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article209791339.html

Social trends among California youth have been spectacular. Over the last generation, rates of arrests of Californians under age 20 have fallen by 80 percent, murder arrest by 85 percent, gun killings by 75 percent, imprisonments by 88 percent, births by teen mothers by 75 percent, and school dropout by more than half while college enrollments have risen 45 percent. Back in 1980, teenagers comprised 27 percent of California’s criminal arrests. Today, 9 percent. Anecdotes of kids gone wrong remain, but they’re rarer than ever. Modern youth trends challenge traditional theories of what makes teenagers act better. Family stability and adult behaviors have not improved; in fact, epidemics of drug abuse, criminal arrest, and incarceration plague middle ages (the parents of adolescents). High levels of poverty among youth remain. Recurring panics over video games, smartphones, and other made-up teenage dangers need to yield to efforts to improve education and reduce poverty. Today’s more education-oriented, activist youth deserve to contribute to political decisions and leadership. By their behavior changes and survey evidence, young people are better adapted to today’s rapidly changing world than their elders.

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This $20 ice cream is made with dairy grown in lab—and it sold out immediately
2019-07-16, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/16/perfect-day-foods-made-ice-cream-from-real-da...

Agri-tech start-up, Perfect Day, released a line of real ice cream made with lab-grown dairy that costs $20 a pint on Thursday — and it sold out in hours. Perfect Day’s cultured dairy is created by taking cow’s milk DNA and adding it to a micro-organism like yeast to create dairy proteins, whey and casein, via fermentation. Those dairy proteins are then combined with water and plant-based ingredients to create a dairy substitute that can be used to make ice cream, cheese, yogurt and a slew of other dairy products. [Co-founder Perumal] Gandhi ... says the dairy substitute is nutritionally identical to cow’s milk and tastes just like it. In fact, while Perfect Day Foods at least considers its product “vegan” and lactose-free (since lactose is a sugar found only in mammals’ milk), federal law actually requires them to put “contains milk” on any labeling because its protein is identical to cow’s milk on a molecular level and could cause allergies. Co-founder Rayan Pandya, 27, says the process to make the dairy is similar to what plant-based “meat” start-up Impossible Foods is doing using heme, a molecule in soy plants that’s identical to the heme molecule found in meat. Using heme, Impossible Foods is able to make its vegetarian meat substitute taste and feel like beef without using animals. The limited edition run of 1,000 three-packs of Perfect Day ice cream ... was the first and only product released by Perfect Day Foods (which has been working with the Food and Drug Administration since 2014) to drum up buzz.

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Flowers can hear buzzing bees—and it makes their nectar sweeter
2019-01-15, National Geographic
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/01/flowers-can-hear-bees-and-...

Sound is so elemental to life and survival that it prompted Tel Aviv University researcher Lilach Hadany to ask: What if it wasn’t just animals that could sense sound - what if plants could, too? The first experiments to test this hypothesis ... suggest that in at least one case, plants can hear, and it confers a real evolutionary advantage. Hadany’s team looked at evening primroses (Oenothera drummondii) and found that within minutes of sensing vibrations from pollinators’ wings, the plants temporarily increased the concentration of sugar in their flowers’ nectar. In effect, the flowers themselves served as ears, picking up the specific frequencies of bees’ wings while tuning out irrelevant sounds like wind. A sweeter treat for pollinators, their theory goes, may draw in more insects, potentially increasing the chances of successful cross-pollination. Indeed, in field observations, researchers found that pollinators were more than nine times more common around plants another pollinator had visited within the previous six minutes. As the team thought about how sound works, via the transmission and interpretation of vibrations, the role of the flowers became even more intriguing. Though blossoms vary widely in shape and size, a good many are concave or bowl-shaped. This makes them perfect for receiving and amplifying sound waves, much like a satellite dish. This single study has cracked open an entirely new field of scientific research, which Hadany calls phytoacoustics.

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The Women Who Brought Us the Moon
2019-06-03, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/chasing-moon-women-who-b...

In 1965, Poppy Northcutt was the only female engineer at NASA’s Houston Mission Control. As she gazed at the men around her she thought to herself, I’m as smart as they are. Although she belonged among them, it was undeniably difficult to be the only woman in what sometimes felt like the domain of men. As isolated as Northcutt felt in the historic control center, she was one of thousands of women who began their careers at NASA as computers. It was a job created before the advent of electronic machines, when human aptitude was required to perform all the mathematical calculations needed for experiments. Women have historically filled these positions, as exemplified by the groups of female computers who worked at the Harvard Observatory and the Royal Observatory Greenwich in the late 1800s. At NASA, these women came from all over the world, working at centers across the United States, and comprising a diverse and potent force in space exploration. Their calculations would ultimately be responsible for sending astronauts to the moon. Unlike Northcutt, Sue Finley noticed the ubiquitous presence of female employees when she started work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Not only was her supervisor a woman, but all of her coworkers in the computing section were as well. Finley, who started in 1958, before NASA’s formation, is still working for the space agency today. At age 83 and with a career spanning six decades, she is NASA’s longest serving female employee.

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Scotland just produced enough wind energy to power all its homes twice over
2019-07-15, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/15/scotland-has-produced-enough-wind-energy-to-p...

Wind turbines in Scotland generated 9,831,320 megawatt hours between January and June 2019, WWF Scotland said Monday. The numbers, which were supplied by WeatherEnergy, mean that Scottish wind generated enough electricity to power the equivalent of 4.47 million homes for six months. That is almost double the number of homes in Scotland. “Up and down the country, we are all benefiting from cleaner energy and so is the climate,” Robin Parker, climate and energy policy manager at WWF Scotland, said in a statement Monday. “These figures show harnessing Scotland’s plentiful onshore wind potential can provide clean, green electricity for millions of homes across not only Scotland, but England as well,” Parker added. By 2030, the Scottish government says it wants to produce half of the country’s energy consumption from renewables. It is also targeting an “almost completely” decarbonized energy system by 2050. As a whole, Europe is home to some of the world’s most ambitious wind energy projects. September 2018 saw the official opening of the Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea. With a total capacity of 659 MW, it’s currently the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm and capable of powering nearly 600,000 homes in the U.K..

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Wave-Powered Desalination Promises To Deliver Clean Water To Developing Countries And Island Nations
2019-07-10, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/natalieparletta/2019/07/10/wave-powered-desalina...

Using the power of ocean waves, innovators from Boston, U.S., have developed a technology that can produce fresh water off-grid and without the costly infrastructure of desalination plants. This invention could help many of the 2.1 billion people around the world who struggle to access safe drinking water, most of those in low-income countries. The technology, Wave2O, was developed by start-up company Resolute Marine Energy. Chief Operating Officer Olivier Ceberio says it “targets ‘off-grid’ coastal communities in developing nations where a solution to persistent water shortages is urgently needed”. Importantly, it fills a gaping hole between industrial-scale utilities that are costly and time-consuming to build, and micro-scale solutions for individual households. The only technology currently offered in between involves diesel-powered desalination systems. And Wave2O can be delivered competitively because it uses “free energy from a consistent and inexhaustible renewable energy resource: ocean waves,” says Ceberio. By eliminating the need for diesel generators, the invention not only saves money but reduces carbon dioxide emissions. “Each 4,000 [cubic meter per] day plant that displaces an equivalently sized diesel-powered plant will cut CO2 emissions by 4,300 tons per year,” explains Ceberio, “the equivalent of taking 936 cars off the road or of the carbon sequestered by 2,070 hectares of forest.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


U.S. Renewable Power Capacity Surpasses Coal For The First Time
2019-06-10, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2019/06/10/u-s-renewable-power-capacity-...

The revolution in renewable power hit a new milestone in April. Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released it's latest Energy Infrastructure Update (EIU), with data through April 2019. According to ... the non-profit SUN DAY Campaign, which analyzed the data, "that was enough to push renewable energy's share of total available installed U.S. generating capacity up to 21.56%. By comparison, coal's share dropped to 21.55% (down from 23.04% a year ago)." Of course it's important to note that capacity doesn't equal generation. Coal still generates more electricity than renewables. But, the trends indicate it's just a matter of time before that picture changes as well. But it is natural gas that is still the king of generation. Although renewable capacity additions are forecast to be well ahead of natural gas additions through 2022, it is likely that natural gas will continue to be the top source of U.S. power for quite some time. The EIU indicates that natural gas now represents 44.44% of total installed capacity. Because of the higher capacity factors for natural gas-fired generation, Energy Information Administration data show that natural gas provided 36% of U.S. power over the past 12 months, well ahead of coal's 27%. Further, the share for natural gas has grown in recent years, while that of coal continues to decline. But given the current trends, it won't be long before renewables supply the largest share of U.S. power.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why are Norwegians so happy? In a word: 'koselig'
2019-07-01, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/30/health/norway-koselig-hygge-cozy-nature-chasin...

Go to your happy place. Take a deep breath and hold it in your mind's eye for a long, joyful moment. My happy place looks and feels ... like a cabin in the woods. Family and friends are there. I have everything I need to be fully connected. The kind of experience I'm describing is something of a national pastime in Norway. They even have a word that snugly wraps all these ideas up: "koselig." You could roughly translate koselig (pronounced "koosh-lee"), as "coziness," but that leaves out crucial components of it, like enjoying the company of others and a connection with nature. There's no direct English translation, but there are regional equivalents such as the Swedish "mys," the Dutch "gezelligheid" and the most well-known of these, the Danish "hygge." Hygge (pronounced "hoo-gah") [is] defined as "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being." It's that well-being part that gives us reason to replicate koselig ... even as the research slowly confirms what those cold, northern happiest countries have known for a long time: Darkness and isolation can be celebrated because they provide the need for their relief. The act of creating our own light and warmth produces peace and contentment. The case for koselig as a health practice seems obvious. You already know how it feels to be cozy, or in nature, or with friends. Social connections give our life purpose, and ... anything that decrease stress ... has numerous mental and physical health benefits.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


8-year-old living in homeless shelter wins New York chess championship
2019-03-18, USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/03/18/homeless-boy-nigerian-r...

An 8-year-old living in a homeless shelter has won the New York State chess championship for his age bracket. “I want to be the youngest grandmaster,” Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a Nigerian refugee who goes by Tani, [said]. Tanitoluwa placed first in the New York State Scholastic Championships tournament for kindergarten through third grade — a remarkable win for anyone. “It’s unheard of for any kid, let alone one in a homeless shelter,” [said] Russell Makofsky, who oversees Manhattan's P.S. 116 chess program. Tanitoluwa hasn't had an easy life. His family left northern Nigeria in 2017 fearing attacks on Christians, The New York Times reports, and moved to New York City over a year ago where the boy learned how to play chess at school. He and his family live in a homeless shelter. School chess coach Shawn Martinez saw Tanitoluwa's potential after observing him excel in the game a few weeks after first learning it early last year. He reached out to Tanitoluwa's family about joining the school's chess program, and learned they were unable to pay costs associated with membership. Makofsky decided to waive Tanitoluwa's fees, which can easily exceed thousands with travel and chess camp admissions. Seven trophies later, the elementary school boy is one of the top players in the country for his age group. Makofsky, who set up a GoFundMe for Tanitoluwa, said the family has received offers for a car, legal services, jobs and even housing.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The unlikely, eccentric inventor turning inedible plant life into fuel
2019-06-23, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/marshall-medoff-the-unlikely-eccentric-inventor-...

A breakthrough can come from the least expected - perhaps like an 81-year-old eccentric from Massachusetts who toiled in isolation with no financial support for more than a decade. His focus? A challenge that has stumped scientists for many years: how to transform inedible plant life into environmentally friendly transportation fuels in a clean and cost-effective way. 25 years ago, [Marshall Medoff] became obsessed with the environment and decided to abandon his business career and become an amateur scientist. "What I thought was, the reason people were failing is they were trying to overcome nature instead of working with it," [said Medoff]. He knew that there's a lot of energy in plant life. It's in the form of sugar molecules that once accessed can be converted into transportation fuel. The key word is "access." This sugar is nearly impossible to extract cheaply and cleanly since it is locked tightly inside the plant's cellulose. What's so tantalizing is that sugar-rich cellulose is the most abundant biological material on earth. Medoff's novel idea [was to use] machines called electron accelerators to break apart nature's chokehold on the valuable sugars inside plant life - or biomass. Machines like these are typically used to strengthen materials. Medoff's invention was to use the accelerator the opposite way - to break biomass apart. This process, Medoff's remarkable invention, releases plant sugars that he's now using to make products he claims will solve some of the world's most intractable problems.

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Instead of arresting a woman accused of shoplifting, these NYPD cops paid for her groceries
2019-07-05, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nypd-officers-shoplifting-instead-of-arresting-a...

Three New York City police officers were working on the Fourth of July when they decided to stop by a Manhattan Whole Foods supermarket. The cops — now identified as Lt. Louis Sojo and Officers Esnaidy Cuevas and Michael Rivera — were on the way to grab a snack and cold drink in the store when security guards told them a woman was stealing food. The cops approached her to assess the situation. "I asked her, 'What's going on?' She told me she was hungry," said Sojo."So, I looked in her bag. I decided — we decided — to say 'We'll pay for her food.'" Sojo said the security guard was shocked by the kind response, but brought the officers over to the cashier to pay for the woman's food. "At that moment, she was extremely emotional," said Sojo. "She did thank us, but she was pretty much speechless at what happened." Sojo said the officers did not expect the good deed to receive so much positive attention and that they were "extremely humbled" by the response. He added that it isn't uncommon for officers to pay for someone's food. "You know, I've been doing this for 22 years. This is not the first time I've paid for food. This is not the first time they've paid for someone's food," he said referring to the two other cops."We don't go out and do it all the time, but, you know, when you look at someone's face and you notice that they need you, and they're actually hungry. It's pretty difficult as a human being to walk away from something like that. We weren't raised like that. So, it's the right thing to do."

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At the Monroe Institute, a spiritual experience could just be a beat away
2012-02-24, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/an-out-of-body-experience-c...

The Monroe Institute [is] a cluster of buildings perched on more than 300 acres in the Virginia foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The institute uses audio technology to help induce different states of consciousness. The technology is touted as creating optimal conditions for the brain, leading to “peak human performance.” A successful radio-broadcasting executive whose company produced 28 shows a month, [founder Robert] Monroe dedicated an arm of his firm to research and development. Monroe and his team ultimately developed Hemi-Sync, an audio technology based on the premise that certain tones can encourage the two hemispheres of the brain to synchronize and move into different states of consciousness. Monroe made numerous recordings that, when used with headphones, send slightly different tones through each ear, helping the brain to create a third “binaural” beat. The result: a collection of compact discs that purportedly can be used for everything from inducing sleep to increasing memory retention to, as the institute entices on its Web site, reaching “extraordinary” states. Over the years, Hemi-Sync has garnered three patents and been the subject of research both at the institute and by independent medical professionals, scientists and academics. University studies have discovered that the audio technology can improve the focus of children with developmental disabilities. By the institute’s estimates, 30,000 people from around the world have attended its programs, and millions have purchased Hemi-Sync compact discs. For many, the experience is “life changing."

Note: Founder Robert Monroe wrote two fascinating, popular books, “Far Journeys” and “Ultimate Journey,” which describe his amazing journeys out of body. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Family brought to tears after store employee aids young man with autism to stock shelves
2018-07-31, WAFB/CBS Affiliate, Louisiana
https://www.wafb.com/story/38771463/heartwarming-family-brought-to-tears-afte...

A Louisiana woman was brought to tears after her father captured a heartwarming moment between a store employee and her little brother while shopping at a Rouse's grocery store. In a video post shared to Facebook, Delaney Alwosaibi says her father was at a Baton Rouge area Rouses with family when her little brother, Jack Ryan Edwards, 17, who she affectionately calls Ziggy, expressed an interest in stocking the shelves. Jack, who is on the autism spectrum, was aided by a store employee, who helped him stock shelves for over 30 minutes, encouraging him as he finished each task. Within hours, the Facebook post was shared over 1,500 times and had amassed nearly 4,000 likes. Alwosaibi says she's overwhelmed by the response. "I've just been crying happy tears for hours and I'm in shock at the response the video has gotten. There's so much ugly in this world we live in, but today gave me a swift kick and reminder that there are still great people out there. Humble people, kind people, patient people, accepting people." In the video, the employee, Jordan Taylor, 20, can be heard discussing plans to re-enroll in school. An outpouring of support from Facebook users wishing to support Taylor both emotionally and financially continues to grow. After the incredible encounter, Alwosaibi started a GoFundMe to help send Jordan to school after he expressed interest in doing so. In the first nine hours, the community raised more than $6,000 [over $100,000 as of July 2019].

Note: See the beautiful video of this encounter at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Renewable Energy Is Now The Cheapest Option - Even Without Subsidies
2019-06-15, Forbes Magazine
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesellsmoor/2019/06/15/renewable-energy-is-now...

According to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), unsubsidized renewable energy is now most frequently the cheapest source of energy generation. The report finds that the cost of installation and maintenance of renewables, which was an important stumbling block to mass adoption, continues on a downward trajectory. These new statistics demonstrate that using renewable energy is increasingly cost-effective compared to other sources, even when renewables must compete with the heavily-subsidized fossil fuel industry. These lower costs are expected to propel the mass adoption of renewables even further. Among other findings the IRENA report highlights that: Onshore wind and solar PV [photovoltaic] power are now, frequently, less expensive than any fossil-fuel option, without financial assistance. New solar and wind installations will increasingly undercut even the operating-only costs of existing coal-fired plants. Cost forecasts for solar PV and onshore wind continue to be revised as new data emerges, with renewables consistently beating earlier expectations. Further data from REN21's Renewable Global Status Report show that over one fifth of global electrical power production is now generated from renewables. Promising signs in the IRENA report show that ... an increasing number of corporates are entering the renewable energy industry ... meanwhile more than 10 million people are now employed in the global renewable energy industry.

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How 'Buddy Benches' are making playtime less lonely
2018-12-04, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-45958313

One day, during her usual chat with her eight-year-old son about school, Tracey Cooney got an answer she didn't expect. "There was nobody to play with. Everyone was playing in their own little groups," he confided. She was surprised because he was usually outgoing and confident. Cooney felt a little upset, but remembered something she had seen on social media and wondered if it could help children in his situation. It's called a Buddy Bench. The idea is simple - if a child feels lonely, they can go to the bench as a signal that they need someone to play with. Another child will see them, go and talk to them and include them in their games. So Cooney asked other parents and the head teacher at Castlemartyr National School in Cork, Ireland, whether they would be interested in getting one - their answer was, "Yes." "We use the bench as a reminder for children of things like communication, mutual support and opening up about feelings," says Judith Ashton, a psychotherapist and co-founder of ... Buddy Bench Ireland. Apart from reducing social isolation and improving mental wellbeing, the hope is that the benches can tackle another problem: bullying. But do children actually use the bench? "They don't see it as stigmatised," says Sinead McGilloway ... who led a study of 117 pupils at three schools which have benches. Forty per cent of the children she questioned said they had used the bench, and 90% said if they saw someone else sitting on it they would talk to them.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


‘Forest Bathing’ Is Great for Your Health. Here’s How to Do It
2018-05-01, Time
https://time.com/5259602/japanese-forest-bathing/

We all know how good being in nature can make us feel. In Japan, we practice something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world. Numerous studies I’ve conducted have shown that shinrin-yoku has real health benefits. So how does one go about forest bathing? First, find a spot. Make sure you have left your phone and camera behind. You are going to be walking aimlessly and slowly. You don’t need any devices. Let your body be your guide. Listen to where it wants to take you. The key to unlocking the power of the forest is in the five senses. Let nature enter through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet. Listen to the birds singing and the breeze rustling in the leaves of the trees. Look at the different greens of the trees and the sunlight filtering through the branches. Smell the fragrance of the forest. Taste the freshness of the air as you take deep breaths. You can forest-bathe anywhere in the world – wherever there are trees ... in rain, sunshine or snow. You don’t even need a forest. Once you have learned how to do it, you can do shinrin-yoku anywhere – in a nearby park or in your garden.

Note: The above is excerpted from the book "Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness" by Dr. Qing Li. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Where “Homework” Means Building Affordable Houses
2018-11-01, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/where-homework-means-building-affor...

Each year, beginning in the fall, a group of third-year architecture students from Auburn University take up residence in a small rural Alabama town to begin building a house. In the winter, when a new semester begins, they are replaced at the Newbern, Alabama, project site by another cohort of 16 students who finish up the job and prepare the house for its new occupants. The 20K Home Project began 13 years ago as a challenge to architecture students at Auburn to build a $20,000 house, with $12,000 in material and $8,000 for labor. The idea was to create “the perfect house” for needy families in rural areas where dwellings are often substandard and where affordable building can be a logistical challenge. To date, the student-led project has designed and built homes for nearly 30 households as part of Auburn’s Rural Studio, an off-campus, hands-on architecture program that has also constructed community centers, a library and other projects around Hale County, where Newbern is located. Created in 1993, Rural Studio partners with local nonprofits and uses cash and in-kind donations to cover the cost of the homes. It then makes a gift of the finished houses to low-income Newbern residents. Over the years, Rural Studio has developed design criteria for the homes, which are typically one- or two-bedroom single-family dwellings. In Newbern, a community of just under 200 people in the west-central part of Alabama, the median price of a home is about $65,000.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'Drag Syndrome': Performers with Down syndrome find outlet for their creativity
2018-10-13, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/drag-syndrome-performers-down-s-syndr...

[Otto] Baxter, 31, is part of an art collective called Culture Device — a group of approximately 12 performers that experiment with contemporary dance and theater, pushing the boundaries of the cultural arena by changing perceptions of what it means to be an artist today. This is because of the sheer talent radiating from the small troupe’s repertoire, one that has tackled the likes of haute couture photography and stage classics such as "Waiting for Godot," but also on account that all the performers share the genetic condition Down syndrome. “The starting point is the art,” Daniel Vais, Culture Device’s creative director and choreographer, told NBC News. “Before Down’s syndrome, before extra chromosome, before disability, before anything.” Culture Device has slowly built up a reputation for its high-quality work in a sector not known for its inclusivity. A 2018 report by Arts Council England, for instance, found that most art forms and institutions generally had less than 5 percent of disabled persons working in them. “I didn’t plan to work with artists with Down’s syndrome,” said Vais. “It found me.” While considered a disability that has varying levels of severity, Vais dismisses what he calls a bias-ridden label, preferring to uphold the notion that individuals with Down syndrome have a mindset akin to what’s needed for outstanding artistic creation. “I use improvisation in all of my choreography,” he said, “and artists with Down syndrome are the masters of improvisation.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Ali Stroker Makes History as First Wheelchair User to Win a Tony
2019-06-09, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/09/theater/ali-stroker-oklahoma-tony-awards.html

On Sunday night, Ali Stroker became the first person who uses a wheelchair to win a Tony Award. “This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena — you are,” Ms. Stroker said while accepting her statuette for her role as Ado Annie in the Broadway revival of the musical “Oklahoma!.” Ms. Stroker, a 31-year-old New Jersey native who lost the use of her legs in a car accident when she was 2 years old, also thanked her parents “for teaching me to use my gifts to help people.” Ms. Stroker accepted the award, for best featured actress, shortly after dazzling the audience with her saucy performance of the “Oklahoma!” song “I Cain’t Say No.” “I find it to be fascinating that often people don’t think I can dance,” she said. “Who says that dance isn’t turning on wheels? Who says dancing isn’t throwing your arms up in the air and grabbing someone else’s arms to be propelled across the stage?” She also spoke about what it is like to aspire to succeed in an industry where people with disabilities are not represented. “I’m very aware that when I was a little girl I wasn’t seeing anybody like me, and on days when I’m exhausted or discouraged about something, that lights a fire,” she said. “I hope that for young people in chairs who feel that this is too hard, that they see that being in a chair is like getting a secret key to an unknown door — that they ... are reassured that anything is possible.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Tiny Costa Rica Has a Green New Deal, Too. It Matters for the Whole Planet.
2019-03-12, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/climate/costa-rica-climate-change.html

Costa Rica, population 5 million, wants to wean itself from fossil fuels by 2050, and the chief evangelist of the idea is a 38-year-old urban planner named Claudia Dobles who also happens to be the first lady. Every country will have to aspire to something similar, scientists say, if the world is to avert the most dire consequences of global warming. And while Costa Rica’s carbon footprint is tiny compared to other countries, Ms. Dobles has a higher goal in mind: Getting rid of fossil fuels would show the world that a small country can be a leader on an awesome problem and improve the health and well-being of its citizens in the bargain. Costa Rica’s green bid, though fraught with challenges, has a head start. Electricity comes largely from renewable sources already — chiefly hydropower, but also wind, solar and geothermal energy. The country has doubled its forest cover in the last 30 years, after decades of deforestation. Now, if its decarbonization strategy succeeds, it could provide a road map to others, especially developing countries. For Ms. Dobles, the top priority is fixing transportation. It is the largest single source of Costa Rica’s greenhouse gas emissions. The National Decarbonization Plan, as it’s called, envisions electric passenger and freight trains in service by 2022. Under the plan, nearly a third of all buses would be electric by 2035, dozens of charging stations would be built, and nearly all cars and buses on the roads would be electric by 2050.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A sense of purpose could prolong your life
2019-05-25, Quartz
https://qz.com/1628452/a-sense-of-purpose-could-prolong-your-life/

Increasingly, scientists are finding that having a sense of purpose, whatever yours may be, is key to well-being. Now, a study published on May 24 in JAMA Current Open adds to the growing body of knowledge on the link between health and a driving force, finding that purposefulness is tied to longer lives. Researchers ... analyzed data from nearly 7,000 individuals over 50 years old and concluded that “stronger purpose in life was associated with decreased mortality.” They believe that “purposeful living may have health benefits.” The new analysis found that those whose psychological questionnaires reflected a lack of purpose were more likely to die than those who had “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals.” In fact, people without a purpose were more than twice as likely to die than those with an aim and goals. Purpose proved to be more indicative of longevity than gender, race, or education levels, and more important for decreasing risk of death than drinking, smoking, or exercising regularly. Notably, the research indicates that any purpose is better than none, as the reason people felt purposeful didn’t figure into the analysis. So it doesn’t seem to matter what it is that drives an individual, whether it’s a passion for growing peonies, say, or wanting to see their children develop, or loving the work they do. The important thing is simply having something that makes them excited about life and drives them. But those who feel no sense of purpose now shouldn’t despair because that drive can be cultivated.

Note: Read an excellent, short essay on how to find and develop your life purpose. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The transformational power of how you talk about your life
2019-05-07, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190523-the-way-you-tell-your-life-story-sha...

Imagine that, when you were 12 years old, your family moved to the other side of the country. In your new school, you were bullied for the first time. When you reflect upon this period of your life today, do you see this as just one of many episodes in which things were going great, and then turned sour? Or do you see it as another example of a tough experience that had a happy ending? It may not seem as if the way you tell this story, even just to yourself, would shape who you are. But it turns out that how you interpret your life, and tell its story, has profound effects on what kind of person you become. If you’re the kind of person who would remember the positives that came out of that (hypothetical) bullying episode at your new school, it’s also more likely that you enjoy a greater sense of wellbeing and satisfaction in life. Moreover, this raises the tantalising possibility that changing your self-authoring style and focus could be beneficial – indeed, helping people to re-interpret their personal stories in a more constructive light is the basis of what’s known as “narrative therapy”. Modify your story as you tell it, and perhaps you can change the kind of person you are. As philosophers have long argued, there is a sense in which we construct our own realities. Usually this liberating perspective is applied by psychotherapists to help people deal with specific fears and anxieties. Life story research suggests a similar principle may be applicable at a grander level, in the very way that we author our own lives, therefore shaping who we are.

Note: Check out a highly inspiring online lesson which beautifully shows that what happens to you is not nearly as important as how you interpret what happens.


Pope asks forgiveness for historical mistreatment of Roma people
2019-06-02, Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-romania/pope-asks-forgiveness-for-his...

Pope Francis on Sunday asked forgiveness in the name of the Catholic Church for the mistreatment of the Roma people. Francis made the comment during a meeting with Roma people at the last event of his three day trip to Romania, saying his heart was made “heavy” by the meeting. “It is weighed down by the many experiences of discrimination, segregation and mistreatment experienced by your communities. History tells us that Christians too, including Catholics, are not strangers to such evil,” he said. With an estimated population of 10-12 million, approximately six million of whom live in the European Union, Roma people are the biggest ethnic minority in Europe and rights groups say they are often the victims of prejudice and social exclusion. A Roma youth, Razaila Vasile Dorin, told reporters: “It’s an honor that a person like the pope comes to our community. We are proud. It’s important that the pope is asking forgiveness. There is racism in every country. When we go out everyone looks at us and we don’t like that. I am proud to be a gypsy.” Earlier on Sunday, the pope said a Mass for some 100,000 people during which he beatified seven Communist-era bishops of the Eastern Rite Catholic Church who died in prison or as a result of their harsh treatment during Romania’s communist era. “(The bishops) endured suffering and gave their lives to oppose an illiberal ideological system that oppressed the fundamental rights of the human person,” Francis said.

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19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote was passed 100 years ago today
2019-06-04, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-19th-amendment-passed-100-years-ago-today-gr...

The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, celebrates a big birthday on Tuesday, as it was passed by both chambers of Congress 100 years ago on June 4, 1919. According to the National Archives, the House of Representatives first passed the amendment on May 21, 1919, and two weeks later, on June 4, the Senate followed with a vote of 56 to 25. The next year, following approval by three-fourths of state legislatures, the amendment was ratified into the Constitution. The opening of the Amendment's text reads, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Since the 19th Amendment's passage, women have helped inaugurate a new era of American politics. In fact, many historians can point a clear line from the passage of the 19th amendment to the passage of Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s and the current movements seeking to offer greater federal protections for gay and transgender Americans. The 19th Amendment emerged out of the Progressive Era in American politics, a period of increased social activism and economic reform during the first two decades of the 20th century. Suffragists like Jeannette Rankin, the first female member of the House of Representatives, brought greater attention to the rights of women. Certain states like California, Washington and Arizona passed their own legislation granting women either full or partial suffrage in the early 1910s. Wyoming was the first to do so in 1869, when it was still a territory.

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New Zealand’s Next Liberal Milestone: A Budget Guided by ‘Well-Being’
2019-05-22, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/world/asia/new-zealand-wellbeing-budget.html

It’s being called the next big move by a New Zealand government seen by progressives around the world as a beacon in increasingly populist times: a national budget whose spending is dictated by what best encourages the “well-being” of citizens. That means that as the center-left government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sets its priorities in the budget that will be unveiled on May 30, it is moving away from more traditional bottom-line measures like productivity and economic growth and instead focusing on goals like community and cultural connection and equity in well-being across generations. “This budget is a game-changing event,” said Richard Layard, a professor at the London School of Economics. As a major example of what that new framework will produce, Ms. Ardern unveiled on Sunday the biggest spending proposal to date in her coming budget: more than $200 million to bolster services for victims of domestic and sexual violence. It is “the biggest single investment ever” by a New Zealand government on the issue, Ms. Ardern said at an event showcasing the initiative, and will tackle one of the nation’s “most disturbing, most shameful” problems. Under New Zealand’s revised policy, all new spending must advance one of five government priorities: improving mental health, reducing child poverty, addressing the inequalities faced by indigenous Maori and Pacific islands people, thriving in a digital age, and transitioning to a low-emission, sustainable economy.

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EPA blocks a dozen products containing pesticides thought harmful to bees
2019-05-22, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-energy-202/2019/05/2...

The Environmental Protection Agency is pulling from the market a dozen products containing pesticides known to be toxic to a linchpin of the U.S. food system — the honeybee. The agency announced Monday it has canceled the registrations of 12 pest-killing products with compounds belonging to a class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids, as part of a legal settlement. For years, beekeepers and wildlife conversationalists alike have voiced concern that the widespread use of neonics, as the chemicals are commonly called, is imperiling wild and domesticated bees crucial to pollinating commercial fruit, nut and vegetable crops. The decision follows five years of litigation in which the beekeepers and environmentalists pressed the agency to mount a response to the use of neonics as regulators in Europe and Canada have taken steps toward banning the chemicals. Finally, at the end of 2018, three agribusinesses - Bayer, Syngenta and Valent - agreed to let the EPA pull from shelves the 12 pesticide products used by growers ranging from large-scale agricultural businesses to home gardeners. The legal settlement also compels the EPA to analyze the impacts of the entire neonic class on endangered species. Rebecca Riley, legal director of the nature program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the agency has failed often in the past to adequately consider the potential impact of its pesticide approvals on endangered animals — something every federal agency is supposed to do.

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The Married, Lesbian Palestinian-Jewish Couple Using Comedy to Smash Stereotypes
2018-11-28, Haaretz (One of the Israel's leading newspapers)
https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/the-married-lesbian-palestinian-jewish-couple...

Eman El-Husseini and Jess Salomon have a few people to thank for their marriage, including a drunk Italian guy at a comedy club and Saddam Hussein. Salomon is a Jew from Canada, El-Husseini from a Palestinian family that fled Kuwait in 1991, after the Iraqi invasion. Not many two-person comedy acts can credibly say they are a lesbian Palestinian-Jewish married couple. “It’s the only conflict you can bring up where everyone knows the reference,” Salomon said. “Even if you’re in the middle of nowhere America, if I say I’m Jewish and my wife is Palestinian, people are like ‘Ooooh.’” The couple took different paths to comedy and have different styles: El-Husseini is louder, Salomon drier. But they are parlaying their marriage into a joint career. They have appeared together several times and are collaborating on a webcomic about their relationship. In one cartoon, El-Husseini encounters Christian missionaries and scares them away just by describing herself: “I’m Muslim ... and gay ... and my wife is Jewish,” she says. “Have a nice day,” the missionaries respond. Stand-up was a natural fit for El-Husseini, who lived in Canada from 1991 until 2015. She was never interested in school, and couldn’t sing or dance, but could tell jokes. She sees comedy as a great way to give Palestinian and Muslim women more representation. Salomon began her career as a lawyer at the Canadian Justice Ministry. She decided to take off a couple years and return to Montreal for a shot at stand-up. That was nearly a decade ago.

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Reef restored: How Belize saved its beloved coral
2019-05-15, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2019/0515/Reef-restored-How-Belize-save...

As the clock ticks for the world’s coral reefs, Belize offers a compelling example both of how a grassroots environmental movement can spur governments to enact tougher environmental laws and regulations and how, when properly applied, restorative processes can help coral recover from even the most severe damage. In Belize, reefs were being rapidly degraded by both changing environmental factors and human development. The devastation that Ms. Carne witnessed sparked an idea. What if she could help the reef recover by reseeding and replanting coral beds the same way landscapers replenish flower beds? She eventually founded Fragments of Hope to ... develop and maintain coral nurseries. These nurseries are in situ marine laboratories containing submerged grids of rebar (called tables) as well as rope lines that foster young coral until they are big and healthy enough to be transplanted onto coral reefs in need of restoration or replenishment. By 2012 environmental organizations had helped mount a public referendum in which 96% of voters supported the restoration and protection of reef systems. The government [developed] a plan to tighten regulations, preserve mangrove habitats, and enact more oversight of reef systems. In 2015 Belize’s government began to implement a long-term conservation plan, and in 2017 the government took the step, virtually unprecedented around the world, of putting a moratorium on all oil exploration.

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We Might Finally Be Able to Safely Drink Salt Water
2019-05-08, Popular Mechanics
https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/green-tech/a27406103/desalination-wa...

Being able to drink the waters of the ocean could solve countless problems across the globe. The only problem? Desalination has a dark side known as brine, an environmentally harmful byproduct. A new approach from Columbia University, however, could radically change the limits of desalination. They call it Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction (TSSE). TSSE can desalinate extremely salty brine up to seven times as salty as the ocean. For comparison, the current methods can only handle brine twice as salty. The TSSE solvent isn't dependent on the evaporation of water, meaning it doesn't need high temperatures to work. It can be activated by low-grade heat (less than 70 degrees celsius) that is easy to attain, sometimes to the point of it being natural. In a study, TSSE removed up to 98.4 percent of the salt in brine. “We think TSSE will be transformational for the water industry. It can displace the prevailing practice of costly distillation for desalination of high-salinity brines and tackle higher salinities that RO cannot handle,” [said Ngai Yin Yip, assistant professor of earth and environmental engineering at Columbia]. “This will radically improve the sustainability in the treatment of produced water, inland desalination concentrate, landfill leachate, and other hypersaline streams of emerging importance. We can eliminate the pollution problems from these brines and create cleaner, more useable water for our planet.”

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Solar Sister lights entrepreneurial spirit to improve women’s lives in Uganda
2016-07-15, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/jul/15/solar-sister-ugand...

Harriet Nabukwasi is saving up. So far, she’s saved up enough to pay surveyors 100,000 Uganda shillings (Ł21) “to continue the process of registering my land”, she says. “Now, I even pay school fees for my children. I am happy now.” Nabukwasi is able to save for her goal because of her work with Solar Sister, a not-for-profit social enterprise that has created a network of female entrepreneurs. The organisation recruits women (and some men) in the most impoverished and remote areas of Uganda to sell affordable solar lamps, mobile phone chargers and fuel-efficient stoves. As well as earning money, Nabukwasi now lights her house with a solar lamp, cooks on energy saving stoves, charges her mobile phone from home, and her children no longer have to rush to finish their homework before dusk. “Solar Sister has been a game changer,” she says. At least 877 Solar Sister entrepreneurs now work in Uganda, more than three-quarters of whom are female. The organisation has attracted more than 2,000 entrepreneurs in Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria since 2010. In Uganda, only 20% of the population has access to electricity while more than 50% of rural households rely on open kerosene lamps. But such lanterns are fire hazards, emit toxic fumes and strain family budgets. An entrepreneur needs initial capital of at least 200,000 shillings (Ł42) to become a Solar Sister. “We want [the entrepreneurs] to take this as their business,” says [Solar Sister Uganda country manager Clare] Achola.

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Forget overpopulation. The world could soon face a population bust
2019-02-24, Los Angeles Times
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-bricker-ibbitson-women-lower-birt...

An Indian woman coming of age in 1960 would have had, typically, six children, according to United Nations data. Today, Indian women have just over two children on average. It’s a shift with profound implications, and one that doesn’t fit most people’s expectations. The U.N. Population Division predicts that 11.2 billion people will burden the Earth at the end of the century. If it happens, it would trigger an overpopulation crisis. But a growing number of demographers and other authorities are beginning to doubt those predictions. They believe the future will be defined not by a population bomb, but by a population bust. To research the planet’s population future, we talked about family size with people on six continents — academics and statisticians and government officials, but also young women and men who agreed to sit down for a chat about their futures. In addition, Ipsos Public Affairs polled people in 26 countries — developed and developing — asking how many children they wanted. What we discovered is that almost everywhere women and men want about two children on average, a birth rate that will stabilize global population and may mean it will drop, rather than explode. Rapid urbanization appears to be what’s driving the trend. Fifty-five percent of the people on the globe now live in cities. As people in developing companies leave the countryside, women gain access to media, to education, to information from other urbanized women, and they choose to have small families.

Note: Explore an abundance of solid evidence suggesting world population will be declining by the end of the decade. Read a BBC News article titled "'Remarkable' decline in fertility rates" for more on this emerging trend. For more, see this summary.


A gift from a stranger tucked into a book sets off a chain of random acts of kindness
2019-05-09, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/09/us/iyw-money-falls-from-self-help-book-and-a-k...

Ashley Jost and her friends had just made a pledge to read more books. The 27-year-old bought the book, "Girl, Stop Apologizing," and began reading it when she got home. There was a surprise waiting for her inside. Five dollars fell out on the floor. She knew the cash wasn't hers because she doesn't carry any, she said. When the college administrator started thumbing through the pages, she found a neon pink Post-it note stuck inside with a handwritten message. The note read: "I was having a tough day. I thought maybe I could brighten someone else's with this little surprise. Go buy a coffee, a donut or a face mask. Practice some self-care today. Remember that you are loved. You are amazing. You are strong. Love, Lisa." Jost was deeply moved. She felt obligated to share the note. So she took a picture and posted it on her Twitter account. "It sort of caught fire," she said. A few of her friends shared it - and the local paper picked it up. Even the book's author, Rachel Hollis, encouraged her followers to pay it forward in their own ways. Jost's tweet has been liked more than 3,000 times and shared around the world after the BBC got wind of the story. People are pledging their own random acts of kindness -- including her. Once a day for a week, Jost hid surprise love notes and "lots of Starbucks gift cards" totaling five dollars a day in coffee shops, restaurants and libraries. Jost says she plans to do at least one kind thing every week from now on.

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‘The Redemption Project With Van Jones’ will make you cry — and that’s the point
2019-05-10, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/movies-tv/the-redemption-project-with-van-jo...

Jason Cohen has had a lot of practice trying to be as unobtrusive and emotionally impervious as possible during sensitive conversations and events in strangers’ lives. “I’d be lying if I told you that we weren’t huddled behind the monitors with tears in our eyes during this project,” Cohen, 47, said on a recent morning at his office in Berkeley’s Saul Zaentz Media Center. Cohen was discussing his gripping new CNN limited series, “The Redemption Project with Van Jones.” Filmed over the last 18 months in towns and prisons in California and four other states, the [show takes] viewers inside the powerful, yet little understood, restorative justice process. Each week, victims of a life-altering crime (or their surviving family members) are connected in person with their offender for a bracingly honest conversation, in the hope of taking steps toward healing on both sides. “There was a box of Kleenex at our video village where we watch, and Van had one as well,” Cohen said. He’s been friends with Jones - the superstar CNN commentator, former Obama adviser and criminal-justice-reform advocate - for almost 20 years. Jones has spent 25 years working in criminal justice and is well versed in the ways restorative justice techniques promote real accountability. Jones says what’s surprised him most working on “Redemption Project” is “how simple the questions asked by survivors are. We spend $80 billion a year on the incarceration industry and sometimes ... our system still hasn’t given people basic answers. There’s still so much healing to do.

Note: Don't miss this most profound series, which shows what true rehabilitation can look like. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The ‘holy grail’ of plastic? Scientists create material that can be recycled over and over again
2019-05-09, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-berkeley-holy-grail-of-...

The “holy grail” of plastic – a material that can be repeatedly recycled without any loss of quality – has been created by scientists. Placed in an acid bath, it can be fully broken down into its component parts. Like lego, these monomers can then be reassembled into different shapes, colours and textures, according to the scientists at California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who created it. Currently, less than a third of recyclable plastic is re-purposed to create new materials, leaving the majority of it to end up in landfill or the ocean. The new material called poly (diketoenamine) or PDK can, unlike normal plastics, have its monomers separated by dunking the material in a highly acidic solution. The acid breaks the bonds between monomers and separates them from additives that give the plastic its distinctive look and feel. These monomers can be recovered for reuse for as long as possible, or “upcycled” to make another product. “We’re interested in the chemistry that redirects plastic lifecycles from linear to circular. We see an opportunity to make a difference for where there are no recycling options,” said Brett Helms, a staff scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry. Dr Helms added: “With PDKs, the immutable bonds of conventional plastics are replaced with reversible bonds that allow the plastic to be recycled more effectively.” The research team believe their recyclable plastic could be an alternative to non-recyclable plastics in use today.

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Dogs Can Detect Malaria. How Useful Is That?
2018-11-05, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/05/health/dogs-malaria-mosquitos.html

Dogs have such exquisitely sensitive noses that they can detect bombs, drugs, citrus and other contraband in luggage or pockets. Is it possible that they can sniff out even malaria? And when might that be useful? A small pilot study has shown that dogs can accurately identify socks worn overnight by children infected with malaria parasites — even when the children had cases so mild that they were not feverish. In itself, such canine prowess is not surprising. Since 2004, dogs have shown that they can detect bladder cancer in urine samples, lung cancer in breath samples and ovarian cancer in blood samples. Trained dogs now warn owners with diabetes when their blood sugar has dropped dangerously low and owners with epilepsy when they are on the verge of a seizure. Other dogs are being taught to detect Parkinson’s disease years before symptoms appear. The new study ... does not mean that dogs will replace laboratories. But for sorting through crowds, malaria-sniffing dogs could potentially be very useful. Some countries and regions that have eliminated the disease share heavily trafficked borders with others that have not. For example, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the island of Zanzibar have no cases but get streams of visitors from Mozambique, India and mainland Tanzania. And when a region is close to eliminating malaria, dogs could sweep through villages, nosing out silent carriers — people who are not ill but have parasites in their blood that mosquitoes could pass on to others.

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How tech is bringing Israelis and Palestinians together
2019-04-30, BBC
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-48053200

Israel may be known as the Start-up Nation, famed for its tech start-ups that are supported by one of the largest venture-capital industries per capita in the world. But Israeli-Palestinian relations have been relentlessly grim. Initiatives like Tech2Peace are trying to bridge divides between the two communities. The student and volunteer-led programme brings Israeli and Palestinian youths together to learn tech skills - 3D and graphic design, website creation, app development - and to engage in conflict resolution dialogue. [Participant Zada] Haj says she had "zero knowledge" of animation or 3D modelling before, but by the end of the session she was able to turn her ideas into creation and develop skills that would help her get a job. Palestinian entrepreneur Adnan Awni Jaber also says Tech2Peace was the gateway for him to make Jewish friends in Israel. "I believe that technology can break walls between any two sides of the conflict because it's borderless," he tells the BBC. When [Tomer Cohen] and his Israeli and Palestinian co-founders were thinking of ways they could foster long-term partnerships between youngsters, they came up with the idea of giving them life skills that could enable them to continue working together. "We thought, OK, let's do this with technology and programming," says Mr Cohen. "When young people come to our seminar, they're not thinking, 'OK, you're Palestinian and I'm Israeli,' they're thinking, 'I want to improve my life and you want to, as well. We have something in common'."

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Over 500 Canadian doctors protest raises, say they're being paid too much (yes, too much)
2018-03-06, CNBC
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/06/canadian-doctor-protest-their-own-pay-raises....

In Canada, more than 500 doctors and residents, as well as over 150 medical students, have signed a public letter protesting their own pay raises. "We, Quebec doctors who believe in a strong public system, oppose the recent salary increases negotiated by our medical federations," the letter says. The group say they are offended that they would receive raises when nurses and patients are struggling. "These increases are all the more shocking because our nurses, clerks and other professionals face very difficult working conditions, while our patients live with the lack of access to required services because of the drastic cuts in recent years and the centralization of power in the Ministry of Health," reads the letter. Canada has a public health system which provides “universal coverage for medically necessary health care services provided on the basis of need, rather than the ability to pay,” the government’s website says. The 213 general practitioners, 184 specialists, 149 resident medical doctors and 162 medical students want the money used for their raises to be returned to the system instead. "We believe that there is a way to redistribute the resources of the Quebec health system to promote the health of the population and meet the needs of patients without pushing workers to the end," the letter says. "We, Quebec doctors, are asking that the salary increases granted to physicians be canceled and that the resources of the system be better distributed for the good of the health care workers and to provide health services."

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How art and golf freed innocent man from life sentence
2019-04-19, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/19/sport/valentino-dixon-art-golf-drawing-masters...

Caged for a murder he didn't commit, Valentino Dixon sought solace in art. He loved to draw as a child, and took up sketching again to escape the harsh realities of prison after being handed 39 years to life for the fatal shooting of a man in downtown Buffalo in 1991. Art became Dixon's salvation, and he drew for up to 10 hours a day. His reputation as an artist led the warden at the tough Attica Correctional Facility ... to ask him to draw Augusta National's famous 12th hole from a picture in Golf Digest. In 2012, he sent some of his art work to Golf Digest's editorial director Max Adler. Along with the pictures, he included details of his case. Adler was intrigued and dug deeper. Golf Channel got involved, too. Meanwhile, several appeals against his conviction had failed. But then in January 2018 three undergraduate students and their professors from Georgetown University thoroughly researched Dixon's case as part of their studies. The students re-interviewed witnesses and officials and unearthed new evidence. Another man, LaMarr Scott - already serving a life sentence for his part in an armed robbery in 1993 - confessed again to shooting Jackson, just as he had on the night it happened. Through the work of Adler, the students, his daughter Valentina ... and attorney Donald Thompson, paid for by Dixon's wife Louise - whom he married while in prison - the fresh evidence was presented to the new district attorney of Erie County, John Flynn. Dixon was exonerated on September 19, 2018.

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A new ride for Emmanuel Yeboah
2015-10-24, San Diego Tribune
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/lifestyle/people/sdut-emmanuel-yeboah-gh...

Two pedals, one leg - the bicycle and Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah weren’t exactly made for each other. He got on one anyway, and it changed his life. Changed other people’s lives, too. Now the San Diegan wants to do it all again. Yeboah, 38, was born in Ghana without a shinbone in his right leg. The deformity set him up for life as an outcast. His mother believed he could be more than that. Her dream became his dream. After she died, he decided to honor her hopes for him by cycling one-legged across Ghana. He wanted to raise awareness for the plight of the disabled while setting an example for what was possible. He rode a mountain bike almost 400 miles in 10 days, clad in a T-shirt with “The Pozo” - disabled person - printed on the front. “Pozo! Pozo!” people yelled as he rode by, but they weren’t making fun of him. They were cheering. By the time he was done, he’d gone from curiosity to national hero. Government officials, their eyes opened, eventually passed legislation giving the disabled greater rights. In 2005, he was the subject of a documentary, “Emmanuel’s Gift,” narrated by Oprah Winfrey. And then the public’s attention moved on, as it always does, to other dreams, to other dreamers. Except Yeboah isn’t finished with his. He wants to build a school in Ghana for the disabled. So he’s formed a nonprofit organization, Emmanuel’s Dream. But he also knows what got him noticed in the first place. He’s getting back on the bike. The plan is to ride from San Diego to Oregon, 1,082 miles in 21 days.

Note: Watch a great documentary on this most inspiring man. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Library of Congress Lets You Stream Hundreds of Free Films
2015-10-23, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/movies/library-of-congress-national-screen...

The Library of Congress has unveiled its new National Screening Room, a free collection of digitized historical films, commercials, newsreels and other clips. According to the library, most of the movies are in the public domain and are available for downloading; others are only available to stream. The National Screening Room is something of a time capsule: The videos cover the period from 1890 through 1999, capturing a broad range of American life. Notable films include home movies by the songwriters George and Ira Gershwin; issues of the “All-American News,” a newsreel intended for black audiences in the mid-20th century; and a selection of instructional films about mental health from the 1950s. New Yorkers might get a kick out of a short silent film shot in 1905 that shows a new subway chugging along from 14th Street to 42nd Street, months after the underground line had opened. And before the Stonewall riots shook Manhattan, protesters in Philadelphia were filmed during “Reminder Day Picket,” one of the earliest Gay Pride demonstrations. The project is meant to “enrich education, scholarship and lifelong learning,” said Mike Mashon, a curator who leads the library’s moving image section. The library says it has the largest archive of moving images in the world, amounting to more than 1.6 million materials. Nearly 300 videos are online, and new content will be added to the website on a monthly basis.

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A suburbia for the homeless exists and they can live there forever
2019-03-28, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/26/us/iyw-town-for-the-homeless-trnd/index.html

The world looks a little brighter from the front porch of your own home. It's a sight more than 200 formerly homeless people are waking up to each morning at the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas. And they can take their time getting used to it; residents are invited to stay for the rest of their lives. Community First! Village is built and run by the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes to lift the most chronically homeless off the streets and into a place they can call home. They live in about 100 RVs and 125 micro homes arranged on streets with names like "Peaceful Path" and "Goodness Way." Heavy machinery has broken ground on the neighboring 24 acres to add another 310 housing units. When complete, Mobile Loaves and Fishes believes it will be able to provide permanent homes for approximately 40% of the chronically homeless in Austin. The 51-acre planned village was designed to create a sense of community. The homes are "micro" on purpose, providing just enough comfort and privacy but small enough to encourage the owners to step outside. There they find front porches dotted along stone-paved paths that lead to community kitchens, laundry and wash rooms, meeting halls, playgrounds, a dog park, a barber shop, an outdoor movie theater, a medical facility and a community market. New residents might initially keep to themselves, but it is hard to resist the smell of Texas barbecue on the grill, or the sight of fresh vegetables grown on site and being sliced for the community potluck dinner.

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The Healing Power of Gardens
2019-04-18, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/18/opinion/sunday/oliver-sacks-gardens.html

All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or a timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and reinvigorated. The importance of these physiological states on individual and community health is fundamental and wide-ranging. In 40 years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical “therapy” to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens. I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication. My friend Lowell has moderately severe Tourette’s syndrome. In his usual busy, city environment, he has hundreds of tics and verbal ejaculations each day - grunting, jumping, touching things compulsively. I was therefore amazed one day when we were hiking in a desert to realize that his tics had completely disappeared. The remoteness and uncrowdedness of the scene, combined with some ineffable calming effect of nature, served to defuse his ticcing, to “normalize” his neurological state. The effects of nature’s qualities on health are not only spiritual and emotional but physical and neurological. I have no doubt that they reflect deep changes in the brain’s physiology, and perhaps even its structure.

Note: The above is excerpted from “Everything in Its Place,” a posthumous collection of writings by Dr. Oliver Sacks. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Shenzhen's silent revolution: world's first fully electric bus fleet quietens Chinese megacity
2018-12-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/dec/12/silence-shenzhen-world-first-e...

You have to keep your eyes peeled for the bus at the station in Shenzhen’s Futian central business district these days. The diesel behemoths that once signalled their arrival with a piercing hiss, a rattle of engine and a plume of fumes are no more, replaced with the world’s first and largest 100% electric bus fleet. Shenzhen now has 16,000 electric buses in total and is noticeably quieter for it. “We find that the buses are so quiet that people might not hear them coming,” says Joseph Ma, deputy general manager at Shenzhen Bus Group, the largest of the three main bus companies in the city. The benefits from the switch from diesel buses to electric are not confined to less noise pollution: this fast-growing megacity of 12 million... is also expected to achieve an estimated reduction in CO2 emissions of 48% and cuts in pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, non-methane hydrocarbons and particulate matter. Shenzhen Bus Group estimates it has been able to conserve 160,000 tonnes of coal per year and reduce annual CO2 emissions by 440,000 tonnes. Its fuel bill has halved. China’s drive to reduce the choking smog that envelops many of its major cities has propelled a huge investment in electric transport. Although it remains expensive for cities to introduce electric buses – one bus costs around 1.8 million yuan (Ł208,000) – Shenzhen was able to go all-electric thanks to generous subsidies from both central and local government. Typically, more than half of the cost of the bus is subsidised by government,” says Ma.

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Inventor Makes ‘Music Memory Box’ So Dementia Patients Can Reconnect With Their Loved Ones
2019-04-11, Good News Network
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/dementia-patients-reconnect-with-family-thank...

The Music Memory Box was created as a means of using photographs, objects, and music to help people with dementia to remember their past. The box is programmed to play certain songs that are associated with the various possessions and photos. When one of the objects is placed in the center of the box, a sensor triggers box’s speakers so that it plays the song that corresponds with the object. 28-year-old designer Chloe Meineck says that her great-grandmother’s experience with dementia served as the inspiration for the box. Whenever Meineck when to visit the senior at her nursing home, the woman always failed to recognize her. Upon hearing certain songs, however, Meineck’s great-grandmother would suddenly begin to recall heartfelt stories from her past. 74-year-old Monica Garrity [said] she and her husband Steve, who has dementia, began using the box in 2017 as a means of helping him to remember events from their marriage – and they’ve been regularly using the box ever since. “We have been able to connect again, it is wonderful,” says Monica. “He doesn’t usually communicate with me but when the music plays, he hums along and even holds out his hand to grab mine. It takes us back to when we got married.” In addition to receiving dozens of awards for her design, Meineck recently held a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund the manufacturing of the first batch of Music Memory Boxes. Within two weeks, she was able to raise the necessary funds.

Note: Don't miss a video of the Music Memory Box in action at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Radical Humaneness of Norway’s Halden Prison
2015-03-26, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/29/magazine/the-radical-humaneness-of-norways...

The turnoff to Norway’s newest prison was marked by a modest sign. There were no signs warning against picking up hitchhikers, no visible fences. Halden Fengsel ... is often called the world’s most humane maximum-security prison. To anyone familiar with the American correctional system, Halden seems alien. Its modern, cheerful and well-­appointed facilities, the relative freedom of movement it offers, its quiet and peaceful atmosphere — these qualities are so out of sync with the forms of imprisonment found in the United States that you could be forgiven for doubting whether Halden is a prison at all. It is, of course, but it is also ... the physical expression of an entire national philosophy about the relative merits of punishment and forgiveness. The treatment of inmates at Halden is wholly focused on helping to prepare them for a life after they get out. Not only is there no death penalty in Norway; there are no life sentences. Norwegian Correctional Service ... works with other government agencies to secure a home, a job and access to a supportive social network for each inmate before release; Norway’s social safety net also provides health care, education and a pension to all citizens. If inmates are having problems with one another, an officer or prison chaplain brings them together for a mediation session that continues until they have agreed to maintain peace and have shaken hands. Even members of rival gangs agree not to fight inside.

Note: Watch a great, short video on this model prison.


Why Finland comes out on top on happiness and more
2019-04-07, Los Angeles Times
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-ollila-finland-happiness-20190407...

When the U.N.’s 2019 World Happiness Report came out last month, Finland ranked on top for the second year in a row. Small Finland — about 75% the size of California with just 5.5 million people — consistently trounces the United States and other developed nations on ratings of life satisfaction, health, safety, governance, community and social progress. The underlying reason Finns are faring so well is because we have a different mindset about success — one that’s based on equity and community. In the United States, happiness and success are perceived as individual pursuits, indeed, even competitive ones. In Finland, success is a team sport. While Finland is by no means struggling financially, its GDP per capita is lower than those of its neighboring Nordic countries, and much lower than that of the U.S. The difference is, in the words of Meik Wiking of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark, “the Finns are good at converting wealth into well-being.” The more equal a society is, the happier its citizens are. Finland is ranked among the most equal of all the 36 OECD countries. This ... helps support overall high levels of trust. Finns trust one another and, perhaps more impressively, they trust their government. And although Finns pay some of the highest taxes worldwide, there is a transparency to the Finnish system that many other countries lack. Every year the government makes public the tax data of all its citizens and corporations on what has come to be called National Envy Day.

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Schools in England Introduce a New Subject: Mindfulness
2019-02-04, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/04/world/europe/uk-mindfulness-children-schoo...

Students in England already learn about mathematics, science and history, but hundreds of schools are preparing to expand the traditional curriculum with a new subject: mindfulness. In up to 370 English schools, students will start to practice mindfulness as part of a study to improve youth mental health. They will work with mental health experts to learn relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and other methods to “help them regulate their emotions,” the government said. The study, which will run until 2021, is one of the largest of its kind in the world. “As a society, we are much more open about our mental health than ever before, but the modern world has brought new pressures for children,” Damian Hinds, the British education secretary, said. “Children will start to be introduced gradually to issues around mental health, well-being and happiness right from the start of primary school,” he added. The initiative comes months after a survey commissioned by the National Health Service found that one in eight children in England between the ages of 5 and 19 suffered from at least one mental disorder at the time of their assessment in 2017. Dr. Jessica Deighton ... who is leading the government trials, said that the new initiative was intended to offer more than quick fixes. “There is a tendency to think that the solution is mental health intervention,” she said. “We will try to reduce the stigma against mental health problems, by making the school environment literate in mental health.”

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One-Third Of World's Power Plant Capacity Is Now Renewable
2019-04-03, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnparnell/2019/04/03/one-third-of-worlds-power...

One-third of the world's installed electricity generation capacity is from renewable sources, according to the latest industry statistics. The data compiled by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that two-thirds of the power capacity added around the world in 2018 was from renewables. Wind and solar accounted for 84% of that total. 2018 was characterized by a spate of solar and wind pricing breakthroughs. Falling interest rates for investors, ongoing technology improvements and regulatory frameworks that encourage competition among would-be developers have all played a part. The geographical distribution of the new plants includes developing and developed economies but it is the former leading the way. The three fastest growing regions were Oceania, Asia and Africa. Asia also became the first terrawatt region, just, with IRENA’s figures putting installed renewable capacity at 1,024GW. More than two-thirds of that is in China. Offshore wind capacity has doubled since 2015 but only represented around 4.4GW of the 171GW of renewable power plant deployed in 2018. The concentration of offshore wind remains firmly in Europe (~80%). Solar was the runaway leader of the pack adding 94GW in 2018 to 49GW of wind, on- and offshore. Half of the world’s total installed capacity is currently hydropower but China was the only nation to make substantial hydro additions last year. Bioenergy [added] 6GW.

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Toyota to give royalty-free access to hybrid-vehicle patents
2019-04-03, CNBC/Reuters
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/03/reuters-america-update-1-toyota-to-give-royal...

Toyota Motor Corp plans to offer royalty-free access to its hybrid-vehicle technology patents as early as this year, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Toyota, which holds roughly 20,000 active patents in the field, is expected to make accessible most of the latest ones covering motors, power converters and batteries. Since pioneering the Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car, in 1997, Toyota has sold more than 12 million cars featuring the technology, which twins a conventional gasoline engine and electric motor, saving fuel by capturing energy during coasting and breaking and using it to power the motor. Hybrid vehicles account for around 3 percent of all vehicles sold globally, eclipsing the roughly 1 percent share of all-battery EVs. Toyota vehicles account for more than 80 percent of the hybrid vehicle market. Global automakers have pledged to electrify their vehicle offerings in the coming years amid tightening global emissions regulations, but many acknowledge that shifting to all-battery EVs will take time due to the high cost of the required batteries. Toyota has long held to its belief that its hybrids, whose fuel efficiency is roughly double that of gasoline cars, are a cost-effective alternative to all-battery EVs, due to their lower cost, lack of need for charging infrastructure, and because they operate more or less like gasoline cars.

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"The Price of Free" star Kailash Satyarthi says consumers have the power to end child slavery
2018-11-29, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-price-of-free-star-kailash-satyarthi-says-co...

Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi wants consumers to ask more questions. Satyarthi stars in the new documentary, "The Price of Free," in which he rescues child slaves in India who work in factories, some of which supply U.S. stores. He told CBS News, "For every product, consumers can ask this question to the brand or shopkeepers, 'How can you guarantee that they are truly made without child labor?' That can be the starting point ... When consumers star asking questions, then [stores] have to find answers." Satyarthi said consumers have the power to hold businesses accountable for their practices. "It would not be too difficult to write to president of a company and ask, 'How will you ensure that your products are made without child labor?'" he said. "This is their moral and legal responsibility to ensure that no child exploit or labor is engaged. Brands cannot just escape." Satyarthi began his work freeing child slaves in India in 1981 and says he has saved more than 85,000 children since then. He has expanded his work to reach children around the world who are touched by not just slavery, but also trafficking, sexual abuse and other types of violence. The children come from poor families who are told they will be paid and taken care of; instead, they become enslaved under poor working conditions. He said that beyond the rescues, his organizations make sure the children have the social and educational support they need through government services before they are released.

Note: Why have so few ever heard of this most amazing, courageous man who has risked his life countless times to rescue tens of thousands of children from slave labor? After surviving numerous beatings and the murder of two of his colleagues, Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for creating a global network focused on fighting for the rights of over 100 million child workers worldwide and rescuing the many millions still held as slave labor in almost every country in the world. Don't miss the moving documentary on Sartyarthi and his work titled "The Price of Free."


They Were Addicted to Opioids. Now They’re Running the New York Marathon.
2018-11-01, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/01/nyregion/marathon-opioid-recovery-odyssey-...

Ryan Stevens sat on the edge of a concrete balustrade in Central Park after finishing three laps around the reservoir. She and her fellow runners [are] from Odyssey House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Ms. Stevens, who is 36 and lives in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx, was prepping for Sunday’s New York City Marathon — her fourth, she said — as a member of a unique group of competitors: former drug users who turned to running as part of their recovery from opioid addiction. Ms. Stevens said she grew up in Rhode Island and became addicted to her mother’s prescription opioids at 22. That opened the door to ecstasy, cocaine and crystal meth. She completed an inpatient residential program at Odyssey House in June. Running, she said, has been central to her recovery. The 45 runners on the Odyssey House team who are planning to run New York’s 26.2-mile trek include 19 current clients. The rest are supporters and alumni. John Tavolacci, Odyssey House’s chief operating officer, said he has run 22 marathons. He started the running group in 2001 as a supplement to treatment, based on a strong belief that running can be effective in helping overcome addiction. He has watched the Odyssey House team build self-esteem among participants, create a cooperative environment, and fill time for runners that otherwise might have been spent on negative pursuits.

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Tesla boom lifts Norway's electric car sales to record market share
2019-04-01, Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-norway-autos/tesla-boom-lifts-norways-elec...

Exempting battery engines from taxes imposed on diesel and petrol cars has upended Norway’s auto market, elevating brands like Tesla and Nissan, with its Leaf model, while hurting sales of Toyota, Daimler and others. In 2018, Norway’s fully electric car sales rose to a record 31.2 percent market share from 20.8 percent in 2017, far ahead of any other nation, and buyers had to wait as producers struggled to keep up with demand. The sales figures consolidate Norway’s global lead in electric car sales per capita, part of an attempt by Western Europe’s biggest producer of oil and gas to transform to a greener economy. The International Energy Agency (IEA), which includes plug-in hybrids when calculating electric car sales, measured Norway’s share of such cars at 39 percent in 2017, far ahead of second-placed Iceland on 12 percent and Sweden on 6 percent. In China, the market share was 2.2 percent in 2017, and in the United States just 1.2 percent, IEA data show. While the numbers will vary from month to month, half of all cars sold in 2019 in Norway will probably be fully electric, the head of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association (NEV) said. “We are pretty sure we are going to reach 50 percent market share in total this year. Maybe even pass it, which is pretty amazing,” NEV Secretary General Christina Bu told Reuters. Cars that rely solely on internal combustion engines with no hybrid electric unit had a market share of only 22.7 percent in March, the lowest on record.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Since 1990s, heart attacks have become less deadly, frequent for Americans
2019-03-15, Yale News
https://news.yale.edu/2019/03/15/1990s-heart-attacks-have-become-less-deadly-...

Heart attack prevention and outcomes have dramatically improved for American adults in the past two decades, according to a Yale study in JAMA Network Open. Compared to the mid-1990s, Americans today are less likely to have heart attacks and also less likely to die from them, said the researchers. Tracking more than four million Medicare patients between 1995 and 2014, this is the largest and most comprehensive study of heart attacks in the United States to date. Its two key findings are that hospitalizations for heart attacks have declined by 38%, and the 30-day mortality rate for heart attacks is at an all-time low of 12%, down by more than a third since 1995. In the words of Dr. Harlan Krumholz, lead author and Yale cardiologist, these gains are “remarkable.” The Yale cardiologist also believes these gains are no accident. Krumholz explained that the last 20 years have been marked by national efforts to prevent heart attacks and improve care for those who suffer them. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the American College of Cardiology, and the American Heart Association — along with other organizations and “legions of researchers and clinicians and public health experts” — have focused on reducing risk by promoting healthy lifestyles, addressing risk factors, and improving the quality of care, the researchers noted.

Note: It's interesting how little reporting this wonderful news has received in the press. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Kenyan science teacher Peter Tabichi wins $1m global award
2019-03-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/mar/24/kenyan-science-teacher-pete...

A science teacher from rural Kenya who donates most of his salary to help poorer students has been crowned the world’s best teacher and awarded a $1m prize, beating 10,000 nominations from 179 countries. Peter Tabichi, 36, a maths and physics teacher at Keriko secondary school in Pwani Village, in a remote part of Kenya’s Rift Valley, has won the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019. Tabichi, a member of the Franciscan religious order, received his prize at a ceremony in Dubai. Tabichi gives away 80% of his income to help the poorest students at the poorly-equipped and overcrowded school who could not otherwise not afford uniforms and books. More than 90% of his pupils are from poor families and almost a third are orphans or have only one parent. Despite only having one computer, a poor internet connection and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, Tabichi started a “talent nurturing club” and expanded the school’s science club, helping pupils design research projects of such quality that many now qualify for national competitions. His students have taken part in international science competitions and won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity. Tabichi and four colleagues also give struggling pupils one-to-one tuition in maths and science, visiting students’ homes and meeting their families to identify the challenges they face. Enrollment at the school has doubled to 400 over three years. Girls’ achievement in particular has been boosted.

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How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger
2019-03-13, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/03/13/685533353/a-playful-way-...

Traditional Inuit parenting is incredibly nurturing and tender. The culture views scolding - or even speaking to children in an angry voice - as inappropriate, says Lisa Ipeelie, a radio producer and mom who grew up with 12 siblings. "When they're little, it doesn't help to raise your voice," she says. Even if the child hits you or bites you, there's no raising your voice? "No," Ipeelie says with a giggle that seems to emphasize how silly my question is. "With little kids, you often think they're pushing your buttons, but that's not what's going on. They're upset about something, and you have to figure out what it is." Traditionally, the Inuit saw yelling at a small child as demeaning. It's as if the adult is having a tantrum; it's basically stooping to the level of the child. But if you don't scold or talk in an angry tone, how do you discipline? For thousands of years, the Inuit have relied on an ancient tool with an ingenious twist: "We use storytelling to discipline," [parenting teacher Goota] Jaw says. For example, how do you teach kids to stay away from the ocean, where they could easily drown? Instead of yelling, "Don't go near the water!" Jaw says Inuit parents take a pre-emptive approach and tell kids a special story about what's inside the water. "It's the sea monster," Jaw says, with a giant pouch on its back just for little kids. "If a child walks too close to the water, the monster will ... drag you down to the ocean and adopt you out to another family," Jaw says. "Then we don't need to yell at a child," Jaw says, "because she is already getting the message."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Norway's $1tn wealth fund to divest from oil and gas exploration
2019-03-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/08/norways-1tn-wealth-fund-to-dive...

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, which manages $1tn (Ł770bn) of Norway’s assets, is to dump investments in firms that explore for oil and gas, but will still hold stakes in firms such as BP and Shell that have renewable energy divisions. The Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), whose assets exceed those of rival sovereign wealth funds ... said it would phase out oil exploration from its “investment universe”. “The objective is to reduce the vulnerability of our common wealth to a permanent oil price decline,” said Norway’s finance minister, Siv Jensen. “Hence, it is more accurate to sell companies which explore and produce oil and gas, rather than selling a broadly diversified energy sector.” Greenpeace UK’s oil campaigner, Charlie Kronick, said: “This partial divestment from oil and gas [sends] a clear signal that companies betting on the expansion of their oil and gas businesses present an unacceptable risk, not only to the climate but also to investors. “While BP and Shell are excluded from the current divestment proposal, they must now recognise that if they continue to spend billions chasing new fossil fuels, they are doomed.” Tom Sanzillo, director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said: “These are very important statements from a big fund. They’re doing it because fossil fuel stocks are not producing the value that they have historically. He said GPFG’s investment strategy also “underscores that the fracking business model is unsustainable”.

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Searching for qi
2000-01-09, Deseret News
https://www.deseretnews.com/article/807580/Searching-for-qi.html

Dick Burgess [was on] a trip in search of qi, or as it's sometimes spelled in the West, chi - the invisible life force that, according to traditional Chinese medicine, flows through our bodies and through the universe. According to this belief, a person can learn to control his own qi energy to promote his health and the health of others. Burgess [drove] to visit a man named Arn, a kung fu master. Burgess is a neurophysiologist at the University of Utah. He is also president of the Society for Integrated Health, a group ... interested in what is usually loosely referred to as "holistic medicine." A dozen or so members of the group journeyed to Vernal that day. We watched Arn bring some of us to our knees by pressing lightly on our hands. When we were ready to leave, he "poured his qi" from his hands to ours and some of the people in our group said it felt like a waterfall. Later, on the way back from Vernal, Burgess was happy to see we were as perplexed as he was. He talked about the experiment he had conducted a few years before. He had Arn come to his laboratory at the U., where Arn directed his qi at bacteria growing in test tubes. Those bacteria that received qi grew at a greater rate than those bacteria not in the path's of Arn's qi. More than 100 [studies] published in China in the past decade that seem to prove that external qi can produce measurable results, says Burgess. Others, for example, show that qi transmitted from 1,000 kilometers away can change a substance's rate of radioactive decay. But for qi to be believed by Western scientists, he says, it would help if Western scientists conducted their own experiments.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Waste reduction law could force manufacturers to repair broken goods
2019-01-09, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/right-to-repair-laws-eu-directive-u...

Manufacturers could be legally required to repair certain goods when they break down under new laws under consideration in Europe and in some US states. The measures are intended to reduce volumes of waste and push manufacturers to make dependable products that are easier to maintain. They would also have to offer replacement parts, and in some cases repair the goods when they go wrong. Proposals under consideration by the European Union will examine electronics including televisions. In America, California has become the 18th state to propose what has become known as the “right to repair” law, which would require electronics companies like Apple to make their devices easier for users to repair ... when they break or go wrong. The move comes amid a growing backlash against impervious products, some of which are glued together and which cannot be accessed. As a result, innumerable products end up on the scrapheap for want of a simple repair. The plans for European law, under the ecodesign and energy labelling directive, note the “world-wide demand for more efficient products to reduce energy and resource consumption”. The British government is supporting the plans. Environment Minister Therese Coffey told The Independent: “We want manufacturers and producers to make products easier to reuse and repair, to make them last longer. We will consider mandatory extended warranties and clearer product labelling if necessary to achieve this.”

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Sustainable Investing Goes Mainstream
2019-02-21, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/company/announcements/sustainable-investing-goes-ma...

A majority of U.S. asset managers are now practicing sustainable investing. In a new survey entitled Sustainable Signals: Growth and Opportunity in Asset Management, from the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing and Bloomberg, 75% of respondents reported that their firms have adopted sustainable investing, up from 65% in 2016. “The survey results demonstrate that sustainable investment strategies are now a strategic imperative,” said Matthew Slovik, Head of Global Sustainable Finance at Morgan Stanley. “It is clear that asset managers will continue to invest new resources and expand their product portfolios in the coming years.” Respondents cited several key drivers of success in sustainable investing, including increased investment stability, high client satisfaction, product popularity and possible high financial returns. Despite the recognition of the strategy as a business imperative, almost all asset managers highlighted the need for increased expertise, better data and impact reporting to drive future success in the space. The survey polled 300 respondents at U.S. asset management firms with at least $50 million in client assets. Nearly all (89%) respondents report their firms will devote more resources to sustainable investing in the next two years.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Trader Joe's is removing more than 1 million pounds in plastic packaging annually
2019-03-01, NBC (Vermont affiliate)
https://www.mynbc5.com/article/trader-joes-is-removing-more-than-1-million-po...

As people become more conscious about reducing their plastic consumption, Trader Joe's was facing mounting criticism for an "overuse of packaging." The retailer said it's been listening to customers' feedback on the issue, and in response, has stopped offering single-use plastic carryout bags in stores nationwide (already banned in all large stores in California). In addition to that, Trader Joe's officials said it has replaced plastic produce bags with biodegradable and compostable options, which we've noticed recently at San Francisco and Oakland stores. Officials added the retailer has also replaced Styrofoam trays that used to be used in produce packaging with compostable trays. Other changes Trader Joe's is phasing in include: Selling more produce as loose items, instead of bagged in plastic; Eliminating plastic sleeves on greeting cards and replacing them with a compostable material; Eliminating plastic wrappers for flower bouquets and replacing them with a renewable material. Since China drastically cut the amount of American recycling waste it was purchasing, there has been an added emphasis on the "reduce" part of "reduce, reuse, recycle" when it comes to plastic. Much of the world's plastic waste never ends up getting recycled, instead finding its way to landfills or the ocean. San Francisco's "Zero Waste" initiative leads the country in this regard — the city diverts more than 80 percent of its waste away from landfills.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


India plants 66 million trees in 12 hours as part of record-breaking environmental campaign
2017-07-03, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-plant-66-million-trees-12...

Volunteers in India planted more than 66 million trees in just 12 hours in a record-breaking environmental drive. About 1.5 million people were involved in the huge plantation campaign, in which saplings were placed along the Narmada river in the state of Madhya Pradesh. India committed under the Paris Agreement to increasing its forests by five million hectares before 2030 to combat climate change. Last year volunteers in Uttar Pradesh state set a world record by planting more than 50 million trees in one day. Observers from Guinness World Records also monitored Sunday’s plantation and are expected to confirm in the coming weeks that the effort set a new high. The campaign was organised by the Madhya Pradesh government, with 24 distracts of the Narmada river basin chosen as planting sites to increase the saplings’ chances of survival. Volunteers planted more than 20 different species of trees. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the state’s chief minister, described the efforts as a “historic day”. He said volunteers including children and the elderly had planted 66.3 million saplings between 7am and 7pm, adding in a tweet: “By planting trees we are not only serving Madhya Pradesh but the world at large.” India is the world’s third largest generator of carbon emissions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the Paris climate accord after the US withdrew from the deal.

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Kailash Satyarthi plans to end child labor in his lifetime
2019-02-21, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/19/world/kailash-satyarthi-child-labor/index.html

Since 1980, [former engineer Kailash Satyarthi] has spent his life campaigning against child labor, ultimately winning the Nobel Peace Prize ... in 2014. Satyarthi launched the 100 Million campaign in late 2016. The initiative ... seeks to engage 100 million young people around the world to speak out for the world's more than 100 million child workers. The International Labor Organization charts the total of child laborers globally at 152 million, with 73 million of those in hazardous labor conditions. 10 million children are victims of abject slavery. The number of children working has fallen sharply in the last two decades, from as many as 246 million in the year 2000. With more global awareness and effort, it could fall further. Satyarthi's organization and Participant Media collaborated on a letter-writing campaign, in which ... people wrote letters to the top 100 US retailers asking them to take steps to ensure the products they sell are not connected with child labor. So far more than a million letters have been sent. "The world is capable to end child labor," Satyarthi said. "We have the technology. We have the resources. We have laws and international treaties. We have everything. The only thing is that we have to feel compassion for others. "My struggle is for the globalization of compassion." Satyarthi's ambitions have long been focused on global policy, but the root of it all still remains back home in India. The original organization he founded [has] directly rescued more than 88,000 children.

Note: Why have so few ever heard of this most amazing, courageous man who has risked his life countless times to rescue tens of thousands of children from slave labor? After surviving numerous beatings and the murder of two of his colleagues, Satyathi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for creating a global network focused on fighting for the rights of over 100 million child workers worldwide and rescuing the many millions still held as slave labor in almost every country in the world. Don't miss the moving documentary on Saryahi and his work titled "The Price of Free."


How This Female Chief Broke Up 850 Child Marriages In Malawi
2016-03-01, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/woman-chief-breaks-up-850-child-marriage...

One woman established a new law to prevent child marriage, and is enforcing it with serious gusto. Theresa Kachindamoto, senior chief in the Dedza District in Central Malawi, was tired of seeing 12-year-old girls walking around with babies on their hips. She decided to take a stand and made 50 of her sub-chiefs sign an agreement to end child marriage in her area of authority. “I told them: ‘Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated,’” Kachindamoto [said]. But she didn’t stop there: She made the leaders annul any existing underage unions, and send all of the children involved back to school. While marrying under age 18 in Malawi has been illegal since early 2015, children can still be married under so-called “customary law,” meaning with parental consent and overseen by traditional leaders. When four male chiefs continued to approve underage marriages, Kachindamoto suspended them as a warning to others, only hiring them back once they confirmed they had annulled the unions. “First it was difficult, but now people are understanding,” she said to the outlet. To ensure children are not being pulled out of school, Kachindamoto operates a secret network of parents to keep an eye on others. And when parents can’t afford to pay school fees, she’ll pay them herself or find someone else who can. In June alone, she annulled more than 300 child marriages, according to the organization. And over the past three years, the figure reaches close to 850.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A high school government class wanted to help solve civil rights crimes. So they drafted a bill that is now law
2019-02-26, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/26/us/new-jersey-students-civil-rights-bill-trnd/...

A high school class in Hightstown, New Jersey, has found an impressive way to shed light on unsolved civil rights crimes from the 1950s and '60s. The AP class, studying US government, drafted a bill that would create a board to review, declassify, and release documents related to such cases. The students ... went to Washington, walked the halls of Senate office buildings and passed out folders with policy research and information about their bill, said former student Joshua Fayer. Their efforts caught the attention of Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, who introduced the bill - modeled after the JFK Assassination Records Act - in March 2017. Later Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Ted Cruz of Texas signed on. The House and Senate versions ... passed late last year, and President Trump signed the bill into law on January 8. Former student Jay Vainganker said the class was initially trying to solve unresolved hate crimes from the [civil rights] era. They filed public records requests for information from the FBI and Department of Justice, and they got back redacted responses from the government. In some cases, entire pages were redacted. That's when their focus changed, Vaingankar said. They decided to draft a bill that would make the government "a little bit more transparent." The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act creates "a board that would be authorized to look at these documents and see what should be redacted, what isn't relevant, what should be released," he said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Can a Nice Doctor Make Treatments More Effective?
2019-01-22, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/well/live/can-a-nice-doctor-make-treatment...

Having a doctor who is warm and reassuring actually improves your health. The simple things a doctor says and does to connect with patients can make a difference for health outcomes. Even a brief reassurance to a patient from a doctor might relieve the patient’s symptoms faster. In a recent study ... our research group recruited 76 participants to receive a skin prick test, a common procedure used in assessing allergies. The provider in this study pricked participants’ forearms with histamine, which makes skin itchy and red. Then, the doctor examined the allergic reactions. For some patients, the doctor examined them without saying much. But for other patients, the doctor had some words of encouragement. He told them: “From this point forward, your allergic reaction will start to diminish, and your rash and irritation will go away.” It turns out that this one sentence of assurance from a provider led patients to report that their reactions were less itchy — even though the doctor didn’t give any medication or treatment along with his words. We often think the only parts of medical care that really matter are the “active” ingredients of medicine: the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. But focusing only on these ingredients leaves important components of care underappreciated and underutilized. To really help people flourish, health care works better when it includes caring.

Note: The above was written by Stanford University psychologists Lauren Howe and Kari Leibowitz. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A prison where the inmates have to go and find jobs
2019-02-04, BBC
https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-47093046

At Sanganer prison, in the Indian city of Jaipur, inmates get a roof over their head, but no money and no food. This prison has no bars or walls, no security guards at the gate, and prisoners are allowed - even encouraged - to go out into the city and work every day. This prison, which has been open since the 1950s, is home to 450 prisoners and is one of about 30 such institutions in the state of Rajasthan. I go to Sanganer with Smita Chakraburtty, the woman behind a campaign to make open prisons the norm across India. "The criminal justice system addresses an incident ... and doesn't know what to do with an individual," Chakraburtty argues. Her cause is gaining momentum: four other states in India established new open prisons last year. I sit on the floor in a children's nursery at the front of the prison grounds and talk with a group of men and women who are inmates. When I ask them why they're in prison, many simply say, "302," referring to Section 302 in India's Penal Code which dictates the punishment for murder. To get to Sanganer, they all have to have served at least two-thirds of their sentences in closed prisons. Every day, most of them leave the prison grounds to earn a living: men convicted of murder work as security guards, factory workers and daily labourers. I even meet one inmate who's a yoga instructor and another who's a supervisor in a nearby school. The only real rule, I'm told, is that prisoners must make roll call every evening.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Can Happiness Trickle Down from the Global Elite?
2019-02-22, Greater Good
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_happiness_trickle_down_from...

The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, is not what you’d call a “woo woo” gathering. It convenes chief executives from over 1,000 member-companies ... to discuss the big social, economic, and political issues of the day. We had accepted the invitation to present at WEF with some reservations - would all these businesspeople welcome the [Greater Good Science Center]’s science-backed insights for a more meaningful life? WEF has begun to incorporate well-being into their programs and outcomes over the last few years, and we were part of that objective. Providing accessible tools that people can use to cultivate skills of inner happiness is core to the GGSC’s mission. Many of these - like letting go of that searing inner critic or learning to watch what is happening in your own body - are ... adapted from the canon of traditional contemplative practices, and now validated by science. It turns out, plenty of people were looking for strategies for inner happiness at Davos. Participants were curious about how emotions fuel or fizzle stress and how to adopt a “challenge” mentality - the attitude of I can face this! - rather than a “threat” mentality that just makes you want to fight or run away. We suggested simple practices like supportively rooting for ourselves as we might encourage a friend, or adopting a different perspective during difficult times. Will global leaders’ ... moments of mindfulness, compassion, and gratitude trickle down for the benefit of entire workforces? We certainly hope so.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet
2019-02-12, Common Dreams
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/02/12/study-shows-toxic-pesticide-leve...

A new peer-reviewed study shows that eating a completely organic diet - even for just one week - can dramatically reduce the presence of pesticide levels in people, a finding that was characterized as "groundbreaking" by critics of an industrial food system that relies heavily on synthetic toxins and chemicals to grow crops and raise livestock. The study ... found that switching to an organic diet significantly reduced the levels of synthetic pesticides found in all participants. "This study shows that organic works," said study co-author Kendra Klein, PhD. The study tested the urine of four diverse American families ... after eating their typical diet of conventional food for six days and then after a controlled diet of all organic food for six days. The pesticide and pesticide metabolite levels detected in participants dropped by an average 60.5 percent after just six days of eating the all-organic diet. Specifically, the testing showed significant reductions in pesticides associated in the past with increased risk of autism, cancers, autoimmune disorders, infertility, hormone disruption, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease. "This important study shows how quickly we can rid our bodies of toxic pesticides by choosing organic," said [study co-author] Sharyle Patton. "Congratulations to the families who participated in the study and their willingness to tell their stories in support of creating a food system where organic is available to all."

Note: Watch an engaging video on this study at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


World is getting greener, India and China leading efforts: NASA study
2019-02-12, Business Standard/Press Trust of India
https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/india-china-leading-glo...

India and China are leading the global greening effort, which is quite contrary to the general perception worldwide, a latest NASA study said Monday, observing that the world is a greener place than it was 20 years ago. "China and India account for one-third of the greening but contain only 9 per cent of the planet's land area covered in vegetation," said lead author Chi Chen of Boston University. "That is a surprising finding, considering the general notion of land degradation in populous countries from over exploitation," he said. The study published ... in the journal Nature Sustainability said that recent satellite data reveal a greening pattern that is strikingly prominent in China and India and overlaps with croplands world-wide. China alone accounts for 25 per cent of the global net increase in leaf area with only 6.6 percent of global vegetated area. The greening in China is from forests (42 percent) and croplands (32 percent), but in India it is mostly from croplands (82 percent) with minor contribution from forests (4.4 per cent), the NASA study said. When the greening of the Earth was first observed, we thought it was due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, said Rama Nemani, a research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center and a co-author of the study. Now with the (new satellite) data, we see that humans are also contributing, she said.

Note: The study described above is available here. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


City of Joy: the powerful Netflix documentary where 'everything is about love'
2018-09-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/sep/04/city-of-joy-netflix-documentary-...

Madeleine Gavin’s documentary City of Joy, about a community built around women who have survived horrific violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), gives us a glimpse at both an incredible injustice still occurring today, and how Congolese women are combating it with their own grassroots movement. The documentary follows the beginnings of City of Joy, a center established in 2011 in the eastern region of the DRC to help women who have been victimized by the ongoing mining conflicts in the area. “Everything is about love at City of Joy,” [said center co-founder] Schuler Deschryver. She described how many of the women who first arrive at City of Joy associate being touched only with violence. “So when you hug her and tell her she’s beautiful, that you love her, that you will fight for her, suddenly she’s like: ‘Oh my God, I exist. I’m a human being.’ You see the joy that [the women] have and know what they’ve passed through. I think that’s one of the reasons I wake up every morning.” A large, gated community ... City of Joy serves as a type of boarding school: the women stay there for six months, and during that time they focus entirely on healing. Since its inception in 2011, City of Joy has graduated 1,117 women. “When women arrive ... many of them have been exiled because they’ve been raped,” said [co-founder Eve] Ensler. “And when you see them six months later you can’t even believe it’s the same people. They’re just these radiant, gorgeous flowers that have blossomed and who are secure and competent.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Man born with no limbs is now a talented break dancer
2019-01-30, Metro.co.uk (One of the UK's most popular websites)
https://metro.co.uk/2019/01/30/man-born-with-no-limbs-is-now-a-talented-break...

19-year-old Gabe Adams was born with Hanhart syndrome, a rare medical condition characterised by underdeveloped limbs, mouth and jaw. In Gabe’s case, none of his limbs grew at all. At school Gabe tried out for the dance team as a way of making friends – discovering he could use his limbless body to his advantage in the art of break dancing. After graduating from high school he has continued to prove his independence, moving out of the family home and embarking on a career as a motivational speaker. From a young age Gabe started using a wheelchair but his parents were determined that their son would be as independent as possible. At school Gabe would wedge a pencil or pen between his shoulder and cheek to write in class. ‘The day of the dance tryouts they called us all in a line and they said, “okay dancer remember to full out extensions and point your toes”. What am I gonna point? My nose!? ‘I am just standing there in front of the judges and then I see girls do the spins and I am like, “I can do that”, so I do the spins. ‘The next day at school and I hear two girls talking behind me and they say: “They are only gonna put him on the stage because he is handicapped’”and that crushed me. ‘I ran to the dance coach and I said “please do not put me on the team because you feel sorry for me”, and she said: “I would not put you or anybody else on the team because I felt sorry for them, you get a spot on this team because you deserved it”. ‘And that was just a huge opening moment for me.’

Note: Don't miss the incredibly inspiring video at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dance group of women in wheelchairs inspires young girls with disabilities
2019-01-17, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-rollettes-dance-group-of-women-in-wheelchair...

You've heard of the Rockettes, but have you heard of the Rollettes – a dance troupe of women in wheelchairs? The Los Angeles-based group was founded by Chelsie Hill, who always wanted to be a dancer, and wasn't going to let her paralysis stop her. "In high school, I got into a car with a friend who was drinking and we ended up hitting a tree head-on," Hill [said]. She decided that despite the tragedy, she was going to continue doing what she loved. She danced with her high school team in her wheelchair, and when she graduated, she was inspired to show other girls with disabilities they could dance, too. "I found this group of girls on social media who all had spinal cord injuries and I invited them to my hometown to dance with me. It was such an amazing experience," she said. The group put on a show in Monterey, California, where Hill grew up, and the Rollettes were born. Right now, there are six dancers on the team who perform competitively together. Not only does Hill coordinate this small group of dancers, but every year she holds a dance camp for women around the world. Girls of all ages attend the camp and learn how to dance in their chairs. For Hill, it's not just about teaching others the art of dance, it's about giving them a space where they feel like they belong. "I had a girl say it was the most empowering thing that she rolled into a room and everyone was at eye-level. I want people to come into that room feeling so normal, so empowered so that they can go out in the world and conquer anything," Hill said.

Note: Don't miss the inspiring video at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Yoga and Veterans: A Different Kind of Warrior
2019-01-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/19/us/yoga-veterans.html

To casual observers of either military service or the practice of yoga, the path from Oorah to Om may not seem obvious. But the intersection of yogi and veteran is natural if unexpected. Many members of the military now often include yoga ... as an element of their workout routine, and veterans turn to the practice for therapeutic applications. The Department of Veterans Affairs has successfully used yoga to help treat opioid addiction and post-traumatic stress. “A lot of vets have post-traumatic stress,” said Thierry Chiapello, who served in the Marines and now teaches yoga at the National Defense University in Washington. “By lengthening the exhalation of breath, this gets people out of those fight-or-flight instincts that drain you,” he continued, putting them in a mode of “rest and recovery that definitely is associated with less aggressive behaviors.” Christian Allaire experiences the service-driven life of yoga through his work for the Veterans Yoga Project, which provides yoga to roughly 1,000 veterans and their families per week as well as trains prospective teachers. “We will have four or five people in a conference room at a V.A.,” he said. “There might be an Iraq war vet in his 20s, a Korean War vet in his 80s, some can barely move, some may be missing limbs and the teacher’s job is to create space. Maybe all they can do is raise their hands above their heads, but we are creating a ritual.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


On one of the coldest days in Chicago history, someone put 70 homeless people up in a hotel
2019-01-31, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/31/us/chicago-good-samaritan-hotel-rooms-homeless...

When a fire forced dozens of homeless people to leave their tents in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood, Jackie Rachev at the local Salvation Army was ready to welcome them. Little did she know a Good Samaritan was paying to put them up in hotel rooms. It's been brutally cold in Chicago, with temperatures of 20-25 below zero on Wednesday. The homeless encampment near the Dan Ryan Expressway was heated by 150 to 200 portable propane tanks -- many of them donated by generous citizens. Shortly after noon, one of the tanks in the tent city exploded because it was too close to a space heater. That left city officials with no option but to close the encampment. Rachev said she received a call from the city asking her to help provide shelter for around 70 people. But later she got another call saying it was no longer necessary -- because a Good Samaritan had offered to pay for hotel rooms. "The Salvation Army was prepared to welcome approximately 70 individuals who were affected by the explosion, but was notified those services were not necessary as the individuals were already being taken of," Rachev told CNN. "We are thrilled that they are safe and warm." Rachev said she did not know the identity of the Good Samaritan or which hotel the homeless people were booked in.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Finland Solved Homelessness
2019-01-30, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/homelessness-finland-housing-first_us_5c...

Finland’s much-lauded “housing first” approach ... has been in place for more than a decade. The idea is simple. To solve homelessness you start by giving someone a home, a permanent one with no strings attached. If they want to drink, they can; if they want to take drugs, that’s fine too. Support services are made available to treat addiction, mental health and other problems, and to help people get back on their feet, from assisting with welfare paperwork to securing a job. The housing in Finland is a mix of designated standard apartments sprinkled through the community, and supported housing: apartment blocks with on-site services, built or renovated specifically for chronically homeless people. Formerly homeless residents ... pay rent from their own pockets or through the benefits afforded by Finland’s relatively generous welfare state. The approach is working. As homelessness rises across Europe, Finland’s numbers are falling. In 1987, there were around 18,000 homeless people. In 2017, there were 7,112 homeless people, of which only 415 were living on the streets or in emergency shelters. The vast majority (84 percent) were staying temporarily with friends or relatives. Between 2008 and 2015, the number of people experiencing long-term homelessness dropped by 35 percent. While it’s expensive to build, buy and rent housing for homeless people, as well as provide the vital support services, the architects of the policy say it pays for itself. Studies have found housing one long-term homeless person saves society around €15,000 ($17,000) a year ... due to a reduction in their use of services such as hospital emergency rooms, police and the criminal justice system.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The End Of Plastic Cutlery, Plates And Straws: EU Market Says Goodbye To Single-Use Plastic Products
2019-01-22, Forbes Magazine
https://www.forbes.com/sites/anagarciavaldivia/2019/01/22/the-end-of-plastic-...

Europe wants to lead the fight against plastic pollution. On January 18th EU member states confirmed the provisional agreement reached between the presidency of the Council and the European Parliament on a new directive to introduce restrictions on certain single-use plastic products. In 2021 European citizens will say goodbye to plastic cutlery, plastic plates and plastic straws among other products. The aim of the directive ... is to protect the environment and reduce marine litter by avoiding the emission of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2. The measures discussed are closely related to the latest estimates on marine litter. According to the European Commission, plastics make up 85% of beach litter, which is causing catastrophic consequences on the environment. The new rules aim to stop the use of throwaway plastic products and packaging for which alternatives exist and is focused on the most frequently found items polluting European seas: plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, and chopsticks), plastic plates, plastic straws, cotton bud sticks made of plastic, beverage and food containers made of expanded polystyrene (such as fast food and takeaway boxes), and products made from oxo-degradable plastic, which contributes to microplastic pollution. According to the European Commission, together these products constitute 70% of all marine litter items.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


17 “Impossible” Success Stories That Prove We’re Making Progress
2019-01-23, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/17-impossible-success-stories-that-...

It takes discipline in the current media environment to find good news. But in the midst of government shutdowns, injustice at the border, and continuing climate chaos, quite a few victories for goodness and progress occurred. 1. The hole in the ozone layer could be fully closed over the Arctic by 2030 and the rest of the world by 2060. 2. Niger reported that, in the last three decades, it has seen the growth of 200 million trees, setting the record for the largest positive impact on the environment in African history. 3. Canada signed a treaty with the Tall Cree First Nation to create the largest protected coniferous forest in the world. 4. China, likely the world’s largest ivory consumer, banned ivory trade in 2017. 5. New York and Virginia became the first two U.S. states to enact laws requiring mental health education in schools. 6. South Africa, the country with the world’s largest population of people living with AIDS, announced a 44 percent decline in new HIV infections since 2012. 7. Paraguay has eliminated malaria, becoming the first country in the Americas to do so since Cuba in 1973. 8. Morocco passed landmark legislation criminalizing violence against women. 9. Tunisia passed a bill to give men and women equal inheritance rights. It’s the first Arab nation to take such a step. 10. The majority of humanity is no longer poor or vulnerable to poverty. September marked a tipping point, where half the world can be classified as middle class.

Note: Don't miss more on these and other great success stories at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Cancer Deaths Have Fallen Drastically Over the Last 25 Years
2019-01-08, Time magazine
http://time.com/5495804/cancer-death-decline/

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among Americans, behind only heart disease. But there’s good news: the cancer death rate has drastically declined over the past 25 years, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society (ACS). Overall, the cancer death rate dropped by 27% between 1991 and 2016, according to the report’s data, which came from the National Center for Health Statistics. Steadily declining cancer mortality rates saved about 2.6 million lives between 1991 and 2016. Significant reductions in lung cancer mortality explain a large part of the overall trend. Smoking rates have fallen dramatically in recent years, corresponding to a significant dip in lung cancer deaths. And since smoking rates have traditionally been higher among men than women, male death rates have fallen especially far: by 48% between 1990 and 2016, compared to a 23% drop among women between 2002 and 2016. Racial gaps in cancer mortality are narrowing. But black Americans were still about 14% more likely to die from cancer than white Americans in 2016. That’s a sizable drop from 25 years ago, when the difference was 33%, but it still reflects the “inequalities in wealth that lead to differences in risk factor exposures and barriers to high-quality cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment,” the authors write.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Don't Just [Let It] Sit There; Do Something
2018-12-14, Forbes Magazine
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferpryce/2018/12/14/dont-just-let-it-sit-th...

At the end of 2017, U.S. corporations were sitting on a historic amount of cash: $2.1 trillion in total liquid assets ... up over 150% from a decade earlier. What are businesses doing with their new-found wealth? Many are buying back shares or snapping up other companies. And then there is Patagonia. Last month, Patagonia announced that they would donate the $10 million they are saving from a reduced tax obligation to grassroots environmental organizations protecting our natural resources and finding solutions to the climate crisis. “In this season of giving, we are giving away this tax cut to the planet, our only home, which needs it now more than ever,” CEO Rose Marcario wrote in a blog. Patagonia’s donation aligns with their unique activist ethos, but a growing number of corporations are joining them in recognizing that businesses not only can be part of the solution to challenges facing our planet, but that they must be; that their responsibilities extend beyond shareholders, to the environment and the communities they serve. Patagonia’s decision ... is a powerful statement and a demonstration of how to consider all a company’s assets in pursuit of better long-term business outcomes. Investing cash responsibly is not the solution to all of our problems. For starters, there’s a much larger conversation that needs to be had about the inability of companies to invest for long-term value creation. But for companies who are new to using their assets for impact while still achieving their corporate purpose, investing liquid assets is a good way to begin, and do so quickly. Don’t let your cash sit there; put it to work.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


An Alabama man walked almost 20 miles to his new job. When his boss found out, he gave him a car.
2018-07-18, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2018/07/18/an-alabama-ma...

Walter Carr sent his friends a flurry of increasingly pleading text messages. The college student’s car had broken down, and he was supposed to begin his new job as a mover the next morning — at a home 20 miles from his apartment near Birmingham, Ala. He struck out finding a ride, but he wasn’t about to miss his first day of work. Carr, 20, needed the work. He ... concluded there was only one option: He would walk it. As a former high school cross-country runner, he knew he could do it. When his legs began to burn, he stayed focused on his goal. Around 4 a.m. ... he still had hours more to walk to get to the house. He sat down in a bank parking lot. A police car pulled up and ... asked if Carr was all right. Carr said yes, and explained what he was doing. [Officer] Knighten offered to take him to get something [to eat] “I said, ‘I just paid my rent. I have no cash on me at all,’ ” Carr recalled. Knighten told him to get in the car, the meal was on him. At 6:30 a.m., [another officer] explained to homeowner Jenny Lamey what had happened. “The officer told me, ‘I’ve got this nice kid in my car. He’s been walking all night to get to your house,’ ” Lamey said. “That’s when the tears started coming.” Lamey offered him a bed to take a nap, and some food. Carr replied, “ ‘No, I’d rather get started,’ ” The following day, Lamey called Carr’s supervisor, and the two cried together on the phone about what Carr had done. Lamey posted the story on Facebook, and it took off. On Sunday, Carr’s boss, Bellhops chief executive Luke Marklin, called to thank him. When they met, Marklin gave him his own car, a 2014 Ford Escape. He said it would be in better hands with Carr than with him.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Norway sees boom in electric cars, fueled by the government
2018-12-19, Associated Press
https://www.apnews.com/7fdc039fee6c4c62bdc76054972a2e03

A silent revolution has transformed driving in Norway. Some 30 percent of all new cars sport plug-in cables rather than gasoline tanks, compared with 2 percent across Europe overall and 1-2 percent in the U.S. As countries around the world — including China, the world’s biggest auto market — try to encourage more people to buy electric cars to fight climate change, Norway’s success has one key driver: the government. It offered big subsidies and perks that it is now due to phase out, but only so long as electric cars remain attractive to buy compared with traditional ones. “It should always be cheaper to have a zero emissions car than a regular car,” says Climate and Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen, who helped push through a commitment to have only sell zero-emissions cars sold in Norway by 2025. To help sales, the Norwegian government waived hefty vehicle import duties and registration and sales taxes. Owners don’t have to pay road tolls, and get free use of ferries and bus lanes in congested city centers. These perks, which are costing the government almost $1 billion this year, are being phased out in 2021, though any road tolls and fees would be limited to half of what gasoline car owners must pay. Gradually, subsidies for electric cars will be replaced by higher taxes on traditional cars. Some 36 percent of all new cars sold are SUVs, which provide safety in the country’s tough winters. Tesla’s SUV, the Model X - the motor of choice for well-to-do environmentally-minded Norwegians.

Note: How strange that this AP article was posted and then removed from both the Washington Post website and ABC news website. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on energy corruption from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our New Energy Information Center.


'Remarkable' decline in fertility rates
2018-11-09, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46118103

There has been a remarkable global decline in the number of children women are having, say researchers. Their report found fertility rate falls meant nearly half of countries were now facing a "baby bust" - meaning there are insufficient children to maintain their population size. The researchers said ... there would be profound consequences for societies with "more grandparents than grandchildren". The study, published in the Lancet, followed trends in every country from 1950 to 2017. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. The fertility rate all but halved to 2.4 children per woman by last year. But that masks huge variation between nations. The fertility rate in Niger, west Africa, is 7.1, but in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus women are having one child, on average. In the UK, the rate is 1.7, similar to most Western European countries. The total fertility rate is the average number of children a woman gives birth to in their lifetime. It's different to the birth rate which is the number of children born per thousand people each year. Whenever a country's rate drops below approximately 2.1 then populations will eventually start to shrink. At the start of the study, in 1950, there were zero nations in this position.

Note: World overpopulation is no longer considered a serious threat. For more on this and other inspiring stats, see this summary. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'Our time is now': world youth poll reveals unexpected optimism
2018-09-24, The Guardian (one of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/ng-interactive/2018/sep/24/our...

Teenagers in Kenya and Mexico are more optimistic about their future than those in France and Sweden, according to polling across 15 countries, which found young people in developing nations have more positive outlooks. The survey, conducted by Ipsos ... found young people across all countries were more optimistic than adults, though there was widespread dissatisfaction with politicians. More than nine in 10 teenagers in Kenya, Mexico, China, Nigeria and India reported feeling positive about their future. Their responses contrasted with those of young people in France and Sweden, the most pessimistic of countries surveyed. Dr Alex Awiti, from Aga Khan University, who has researched youth attitudes across east Africa, said young people in the region are optimistic because they know that their voices count. “If young people want to mobilise, all the governments in east Africa could be toppled within a matter of days,” he said. “What is impressive is young people across east Africa really know what they want.” Awiti pointed to the large numbers of youth-led organisations in countries such as Kenya, where under-35s make up about 80% of the population. Young people are still, however, under-represented in politics.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Could yoga save prisoners from a life of crime?
2018-09-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/11/yoga-prisons-crime-cut-reoffe...

New research shows the meditative exercise improves mental health, reduces stress and can prevent reoffending. The power of yoga to change [a prisoner's] life is backed by two Swedish studies that found it may reduce reoffending. The new study, led by Professor Nóra Kerekes at University West, Trollhätten, in Sweden, and published last week in Frontiers in Psychiatry, found that 10 weeks of regular yoga can lead to a significant reduction in obsessive-compulsive and paranoid thinking, which in turn, say researchers, can make reoffending less likely. This effect is specific to yoga, and not to exercise in general, they found. It can also lead to a decrease in “somaticisation” (mental distress leading to physical symptoms such as breathing problems, heart pains and stomach upsets). The study of 152 volunteers in nine medium- and high-security prisons in Sweden builds on a 2017 study of the same volunteers that showed that yoga improved stress levels, concentration, sleep quality, psychological and emotional wellbeing, as well as reducing aggression and antisocial behaviour. A Prison Service spokeswoman says: “Research shows activities like this can make prisoners less likely to reoffend, keeping the public safer.” She was unable to explain why, given this evidence, it wasn’t government policy to make yoga available to all prisoners, but said it was up to individual prison governors to decide which activities to offer.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


More than half the world’s population is now middle class
2018-09-30, Financial Times
https://www.ft.com/content/e3fa475c-c2e9-11e8-95b1-d36dfef1b89a

More than half the world’s population is for the first time living in households earning enough to be considered middle or upper class, with five people joining their ranks every second. The rapid growth of the middle class, most of which is taking place in Asia, will have significant economic and political effects, as people become more demanding of businesses and governments, said Kristofer Hamel, chief operating officer of World Data Lab, the non-profit organisation that compiled the figures. “The milestone is important because the middle class is the engine of modern economies,” Mr Hamel said, adding that about half of global economic demand is generated by household consumption, with half of this coming from the middle class. The World Data Lab defines middle class as someone earning between $11 and $110 per day, on a 2011 purchasing power parity basis, a benchmark used by many organisations and governments, including India and Mexico. It concluded earlier this month that 3.59bn people make up the global middle class, and forecast that the group would grow to 5.3bn by 2030. Almost 90 per cent of the new middle class is expected to be found in Asia. By 2030, the spending power of the American middle class will remain the greatest in the world — at about $16tn on a 2011 PPP basis — with China ($14tn) and India ($12tn) not far behind.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Suicide is declining almost everywhere
2018-11-24, The Economist
https://www.economist.com/international/2018/11/24/suicide-is-declining-almos...

Zozh Is A Russian neologism, born of an acronym for a healthy lifestyle. It is part of a social transformation that has helped banish Russia’s demons. As exercise and smoothies have replaced despair and alcohol, the suicide rate in Russia has crashed. And this trend is not unique to Russia. Globally, the rate has fallen by 38% from its peak in 1994. As a result, over 4m lives have been saved—more than four times as many people as were killed in combat over the period. The decline has happened at different rates and different times in different parts of the world. America is the big exception. Until the turn of the century the rate there dropped along with those in other rich countries. But since then, it has risen by 18% to 12.8. The declines in those other big countries, however, far outweigh the rise in America. One big reason seems to be an improvement in the lot of Asian women. Among Chinese women in their 20s, the rate has dropped by nine-tenths since the mid-1990s; that group accounts for around half a million of those 4m lives saved. Greater social freedom is one of the reasons, suggests Jing Jun, a professor at Tsinghua University. There may be something similar going on in India. “Young women face particularly challenging gender norms in India,” says Vikram Patel of the Harvard Medical School. That is changing. Rates among young women have fallen faster than among any other group since 1990; Mr Patel believes they will continue to improve as social liberalisation continues.

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DNA Test Helps Mother Reunite With Daughter She Thought Died Nearly 70 Years Ago
2018-12-09, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/09/us/mother-reunited-daughter-dna.html

A DNA test has helped reunite a mother and daughter after nearly 70 years by uncovering a startling secret: A baby girl long thought to be dead was alive, and had been covertly adopted by a family in Southern California that lied about her origins. The girl, Connie Moultroup, who is now 69, met her birth mother for the first time this month. “I was absolutely floored,” she said, upon discovering that her mother, Genevieve Purinton, 88, was living in Tampa, Fla. Ms. Purinton was similarly shocked. After giving birth in 1949, she said, she was told her newborn had died. CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist and founder of The DNA Detectives, said the two women are “far from alone.” Ms. Purinton said she was alone when she gave birth on May 12, 1949. She never saw the baby. “I was told it was a girl, but she died,” Ms. Purinton said. The adoption documents, which Ms. Moultroup retrieved from the adoptions and abandonment unit at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Los Angeles County, showed that a doctor at the hospital had arranged for the adoption. Within the paperwork she found her mother’s signature. Ms. Purinton said that she recalled having signed papers at the hospital, but that she assumed they were meant to provide a directive in the event that she died or could no longer care for her daughter. “I had no idea what I signed,” she said. Before being reunited with her daughter, Ms. Purinton thought she was the last surviving member of her immediate family.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Luxembourg to Become the First Country to Offer Free Mass Transit for All
2018-12-06, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/06/world/europe/luxembourg-free-mass-transit....

Luxembourg is a small country with big traffic jams. When Prime Minister Xavier Bettel was sworn in for a second term ... his governing coalition promised free mass transit for all, which would make the country the first to offer such a benefit. Luxembourg is barely larger than a city-state, with a population of about 560,000. But more than 180,000 workers commute across the border from Belgium, France and Germany. Luxembourg already has the highest number of cars for its population in the European Union: 662 for 1,000 people, bringing it closest in the region to the United States, a world leader with more than 800 cars per 1,000 people. The number of international commuters has doubled in the past two decades, rising more quickly than the country anticipated. This has caused the kind of congestion that is familiar to those who commute into many big cities. Luxembourg’s highways are packed with cars, and overcrowded trains often suffer delays. Some cities in Europe and elsewhere already offer free mass transit at certain times and to people like retirees or the unemployed. Others are considering widening the circle to all users. This year, Luxembourg budgeted nearly €900 million in public money for its mass transit system. Free mass transit will be available from the beginning of 2020, said Dany Frank, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Mobility.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


2 New Yorkers Erased $1.5 Million in Medical Debt for Hundreds of Strangers
2018-12-05, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/05/nyregion/medical-debt-charity-ny.html

If a slim, yellow envelope with a Rye, N.Y., return address lands in your mailbox this holiday season, don’t throw it out. It’s not junk. Some 1,300 such envelopes have been sent to New Yorkers around the state, containing the good news that R.I.P. Medical Debt, a New York-based nonprofit organization, has purchased their medical debt — and forgiven it. Last spring, Judith Jones and Carolyn Kenyon, both of Ithaca, N.Y., heard about R.I.P. Medical Debt, which purchases bundles of past-due medical bills and forgives them to help those in need. So the women decided to start a fund-raising campaign of their own to assist people with medical debt in New York. The women raised $12,500 and sent it to the debt-forgiveness charity, which then purchased a portfolio of $1.5 million of medical debts on their behalf, for about half a penny on the dollar. Many people take on extra jobs or hours to afford health care, and 11 percent of Americans have turned to charity for relief from medical debts, according to a 2016 poll. It has become increasingly easy for regular citizens to purchase bundles of past-due medical bills and forgive them because of the efforts of the debt-relief charity, which was founded in 2014 by two former debt collection industry executives, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton. After realizing the crushing impact medical debts were having on millions of Americans, the men decided to flip their mind-set. They began purchasing portfolios of old debts to clear them as a public service, rather than try to hound the debtors.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Microfragmentation: a breakthrough for coral reef restoration
2018-09-18, Medium.com
https://medium.com/@amykwilson/microfragmentation-a-breakthough-for-coral-ree...

The benefits coral reefs provide are endless. Not only are they the home of up to 9 million species but are a source of food, medicine, cosmetics and tourism. Unfortunately, coral reefs around the world are declining at a rapid rate due to ... human-related factors. In some areas of Florida and the Caribbean, coral cover has declined by 50–80 per cent in just the last three decades. Coral scientists are working hard to restore corals as fast as possible. At the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration they have managed to develop a micro-fragmentation and fusion method to speed the growth of ... important reef-building species [of coral], known for their slow growth in the wild. The fragmentation technique consists of breaking the corals into smaller pieces of 1 to 5 polyps, using a specialised saw. This stimulates the coral tissue to grow ... at 25 to 50 times the normal growth rate. The fragments are then placed in their shallow water tanks. Algal growth and debris are removed regularly. Clone fragments recognise each other so instead of fighting each other for resources [they] fuse together to form larger colonies. After 4- 12 months the fully grown corals are now ready to be planted back into the ocean or fragmented to restart the process. Labs are able to fragment, grow and recombine corals in under 2 years to a size which would normally take 100 years. They have now successfully planted more than 20,000 corals onto depleted reefs in the Florida Keys.

Note: Watch an inspiring three-minute video on this process.


For NFL Giving, Warrick Dunn Is a Model
2018-01-19, Sports Illustrated
https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/19/nfl-warrick-dunn-homes-holidays-habitiat-hu...

Warrick Dunn has been retired for nine years. It’s interesting that, even though he is one of 31 men to rush for more than 10,000 yards in NFL history. We remember him—at least I do—more for giving away houses than for running for touchdown, in part because he’s still doing it. Even in retirement, Dunn and his Warrick Dunn Charities are still partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for disadvantaged families across the United States. In December, Dunn and Habitat combined to build homes number 158 (in Detroit) and 159 (in Atlanta) and place two families in them before the holidays. Furnished, as Dunn like to say, “all the way down to the toothbrushes in the bathroom.” Recently I was with Dunn when he surprised Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson with a visit, a reminder that Dunn’s generosity made it possible for Watson and his single mom and family to move into a Habitat for Humanity home in Gainesville, Ga., 11 years ago. Watson made it clear that the home meant a new life and a shot at the American dream for his family. “I’ll never be able to thank him, and Habitat, and everyone who made it possible, enough,” Watson said. “I grew up in a situation where we needed a lot of support,” [said Dunn]. “I lost my mom at 18. Single mom, six kids, and a Baton Rouge police officer. She was gunned down by armed robbers at a bank. When she lost her life, the city of Baton Rouge started a fund for us. And that’s how we were able to survive. That really helped me understand what it means to care about your neighbor.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Can lefties and right-wingers find common ground? One site thinks so
2018-12-03, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Can-lefties-and-right-wingers-fi...

“Have you experienced being the target of intolerance? What causes you to be intolerant?” Sitting in his book-filled Berkeley living room, Lewis Brown Griggs chewed over those questions and others with six other people via the Zoom conferencing app last month. Ranging in age from early 20s to early 70s, and hailing from Colorado, Virginia, Utah, Maryland and California, the group was brought together by Mismatch.org, a site that aims to “mismatch” people who are politically and geographically diverse for group chats with others of varying viewpoints. It’s like a non-romantic dating service for civil discourse. “Our nation has so many problems with division,” said John Gable, Mismatch co-founder. “We need to learn how to talk to people who are different than we are, how to listen to them and understand them as people.” In an increasingly polarized country, Mismatch aims to help people across the political spectrum find common ground via structured conversations on topics like immigration, tax reform and climate change. Mismatch grew out of Living Room Conversations, another trans-partisan project that brings together folks of varying views to engage in discourse. But while Living Room Conversations hosts in-person groups ... Mismatch casts a wider net by seeking people nationwide to meet up via videoconferencing. “It is about understanding each other as humans,” [Gable] said. “We may or may not find common ground, but we always find common humanity.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


These Kids Are Learning How to Have Bipartisan Conversations
2018-12-04, Greater Good
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/these_kids_are_learning_how_to_...

Dozens of high schoolers and their teachers are flowing into the University of Southern California’s Galen Center, dressed in their debating best and bantering in various languages. All of these students are members of the Junior State of America (JSA), and they’re used to spirited exchanges about government. But they’re here today to practice a different diplomatic skill: having thoughtful conversations across political boundaries. “People say, ‘When I try to have these kinds of conversations, they go really badly,’” [workshop leader Brooke] Deterline says. Such verbal blowouts often breed simmering resentment and fracture relationships. Deterline wants to teach people how to cultivate compassion for others even when they don’t agree with them, which she sees as necessary for a divided country to find a shared vision for its future. From the start, Deterline makes clear that what she’s about to teach is the conversational equivalent of t’ai chi—a philosophy focused on holding back, not charging forward. “I used to think courage was giving somebody a piece of my mind,” she tells the students. “It’s acting with an open heart in the face of conflict. It is a choice, and it also is a muscle.” What often shuts down conversations across the political aisle, she explains, is when our brains go into what she calls “the red zone.” “When we’re stressed, our natural compassion is cut off,” she says. Deterline’s core message is that when you notice your brain heading into the “red zone,” you can take steps to divert its course.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Her Life's a Sprint, Legacy Long Running
1994-11-13, Chicago Tribune
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1994-11-13-9411130119-story.html

Wilma Rudolph outran poverty, polio, scarlet fever and the limits placed on black women by societal convention to win three gold medals in sprint events at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. By the time brain cancer caught Rudolph, leading to her death Saturday at age 54, she had achieved a stature that made her legend and her sport greater in the long run. The 20th of 22 children of a porter and a cleaning lady, Rudolph lost the use of her left leg after contracting polio and scarlet fever at age 4. Doctors told her parents she never would walk again without braces, but she refused to accept that prognosis and began to walk unassisted at age 9. It wasn't long before she was outrunning all the girls and boys in her neighborhood. At 16, already under the tutelage of Tennessee State University coach Ed Temple, Rudolph won a bronze medal on the 4 x 100-meter relay at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Four years later, when she was the mother of a 2-year-old, Rudolph won the three golds despite running all three events with a sprained ankle. After being voted Associated Press female athlete of the year in 1960 and 1961 and the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete in 1961, Rudolph retired at 21, a decision that reflects an era in which lack of financial incentives kept most Olympic careers short. She turned to a variety of humanitarian projects, including goodwill ambassador to West Africa, coaching at DePauw University and working for underprivileged children through the Wilma Rudolph Foundation.

Note: The remarkable woman once commented, "My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother."


The Remarkable Rise Of ESG
2018-07-11, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/georgkell/2018/07/11/the-remarkable-rise-of-esg/...

Responsible investing is widely understood as the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment processes and decision-making. ESG factors cover a wide spectrum of issues that traditionally are not part of financial analysis, yet may have financial relevance. This might include how corporations respond to climate change, how good they are with water management, how effective their health and safety policies are ... how they manage their supply chains, [and] how they treat their workers. The term ESG was first coined in 2005 in a landmark study entitled “Who Cares Wins.” Today, ESG investing is estimated at over $20 trillion in AUM or around a quarter of all professionally managed assets around the world, and its rapid growth builds on the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) movement that has been around much longer. Cynics may argue that responsible investing is just a fad. But a closer look at the forces that have driven the movement over the past 15 years suggests otherwise. The big challenge for most corporations is to adapt to a new environment that favors smarter, cleaner and healthier products and services, and to leave behind the dogmas of the industrial era when pollution was free, labor was just a cost factor and scale and scope was the dominant strategy. Today, ESG investing has matured to the point where it can greatly accelerate market transformation for the better.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Steven Pinker Thinks the Future Is Looking Bright
2018-11-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/science/steven-pinker-future-science.html

Steven Pinker, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard, has been known to take provocative positions. He has argued that women are intrinsically different from men, that we are more driven by our genes than academics like to acknowledge, and that society is getting less violent over time — despite the mass shootings and other atrocities we hear about daily. The thesis of his latest book, “Enlightenment Now,” is that life on Earth is improving. By every major measure of human well-being, from personal safety to longevity to economic security to happiness, people everywhere are far better off today than they were before the start of the Enlightenment in the 17th century. "I stumbled across data showing that violence had declined over the course of history. The homicide rate in England was 50 times higher in the 14th century than it is today," [said Pinker]. "Like any other news reader, I just assumed that there was as much mayhem as ever. It’s only when you plot it over time ... that you can see the trends. It’s not just in violence that one sees progress, but in poverty, in illiteracy, in access to small luxuries. The percentage of the world getting an education, in gender parity in education - girls are going to school all over the world. Even in ... the world’s most retrograde countries, the rate of female education has increased. It was an epiphany from seeing graphs of human improvement that changed my view of the overall course of history: that progress is a demonstrable fact.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Magic Happens When Bostonians Actually Make Eye Contact
2017-09-28, NBC (Boston affiliate)
https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/Magic-Happens-When-Bostonians-Actually-M...

The rule of thumb for folks walking around Boston is to not look anyone in the eyes. The World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment held on Saturday challenged people in the city and across the world to break down their walls and to actually make full eye contact with another human being for a full minute. It was a sunny day ... as participants invited others to have meaningful staring sessions. Sixty full seconds looking into a stranger’s eyes without conversation or facial expressions to hide behind. It sounds easy enough, but silently sharing eye contact with a stranger can be a foreign feeling for many people more used to being connected to technology than humans. Deborah Knight, who organized Boston’s event, said that eye contact is actually more important than most people think. When you actually look at someone’s eyes, you actually bypass everything and you get into their soul. It is an unspoken language of love. The global social experiment is organized each year by The Liberators International, an Australian-based group that aims to empower people with love and compassion through events and media. Boston was just one of the hundreds of locations participating this year. Dozens of people just sitting silently and staring, but most would talk and laugh right after the exercise. “People are really hesitant,” [said one participant]. “Maybe thirty seconds into it, people relax and their eyes just open up.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Signs That Institutional Investors May Be Reorienting Towards Sustainable Investing
2018-11-24, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/robday/2018/11/19/signs-that-institutional-inves...

For a long time entrepreneurs, investors and advocates of sustainable investing have spoken longingly about the $2 trillion of institutional investor dollars that have been reputed to be sitting skeptically on the sidelines, teasing everyone with the prospect of finally putting their sizeable investment muscle to work to scale the sector. Throughout this period, institutional investors have argued that they have withheld their dollars over sound investment concerns with the sector. For a number of years, innovative entrepreneurs in growth sectors like food, energy, water and waster have been doing the heavy lifting to demonstrate that some of these smaller-scale projects can provide attractive investment returns for those investors willing to step in and pioneer these structures. Institutional investors are taking notice. Now a new investor survey and report issued by Bright Harbor Advisors, a private fund advisor, provides some compelling evidence that institutional investors are warming to sustainable investing. 81% now have some type of sustainability, impact, or ESG [Environment, Social, and Governance] mandate as part of their formal investment policy. And an increasing number are allocating internal resources to implement these policies. About a third of respondents have someone on their team dedicated to the space and nearly 20% have sustainable private fund managers in a dedicated investment bucket.

Note: See this Forbes article for more on these inspiring shifts in investing. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


World's first solar panel road opens in Normandy village
2016-11-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/22/solar-panel-road-tourouvr...

France has opened what it claims to be the world’s first solar panel road, in a Normandy village. A 1km (0.6-mile) route in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche covered with 2,800 sq m of electricity-generating panels, was inaugurated on Thursday by the ecology minister, Ségolčne Royal. It cost €5m (Ł4.2m) to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during a two-year test period to establish if it can generate enough energy to power street lighting in the village of 3,400 residents. In 2014, a solar-powered cycle path opened in Krommenie in the Netherlands and ... has generated 3,000kWh of energy – enough to power an average family home for a year. The cost of building the cycle path, however, could have paid for 520,000kWh. Before the solar-powered road – called Wattway – was opened on the RD5 road, the panels were tested at four car parks across France. Normandy is not known for its surfeit of sunshine: Caen, the region’s political capital, enjoys just 44 days of strong sunshine a year compared with 170 in Marseilles. Royal has said she would like to see solar panels installed on one in every 1,000km of French highway – France has a total of 1m km of roads – but panels laid on flat surfaces have been found to be less efficient than those installed on sloping areas such as roofs. The company says it hopes to reduce the costs of producing the solar panels and has about 100 other projects for solar-panelled roads – half in France and half abroad.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


We Have to Save the Planet. So I’m Donating $1 Billion.
2018-10-31, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/31/opinion/earth-biodiversity-conservation-bi...

Some scientists, including the Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, have concluded that at least half the planet needs to be protected to save a large majority of plant and wildlife species from extinction. Indeed, the food, clean water and air we need to survive and prosper depends on our ability to protect the planet’s biological diversity. In other words, we have to protect half to save the whole. Every one of us - citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders - should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected. For my part, I have decided to donate $1 billion over the next decade to help accelerate land and ocean conservation efforts around the world, with the goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet’s surface by 2030. This money will support locally led conservation efforts around the world, push for increased global targets for land and ocean protection, seek to raise public awareness about the importance of this effort, and fund scientific studies to identify the best strategies to reach our target. I believe this ambitious goal is achievable because I’ve seen what can be accomplished. Indigenous peoples, local leaders and conservation groups around the world are already busy setting aside protected areas that reflect the conservation, economic and cultural values of nearby communities. Financial support from philanthropists and governments is critical to helping these leaders conserve places like the coral reefs of the Caribbean, the glaciers of Argentina and what is known as the “place of many elephants” in Zimbabwe.

Note: The above was written by philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Veterans using dogs to help with PTSD
2018-05-03, The Journal-Gazette/Washington Post
http://www.journalgazette.net/features/20180503/veterans-using-dogs-to-help-w...

Every month, a new cycle of training begins with yet another class of veterans in a program run by the northern Florida K9s for Warriors. The seven-year-old nonprofit is one of dozens of private organizations that offer “psychiatric service” dogs to address the military's mental health crisis. “The numbers are startling on veteran suicides, and this is working,” said Rory Diamond, a former federal prosecutor who quit to become chief executive of K9s for Warriors. A recent [Purdue University] study ... used standard questionnaires to assess PTSD symptoms and other aspects of mental health among 141 K9s for Warriors applicants, half teamed with a service dog and half on a wait list. Those with dogs showed significantly lower levels of post-traumatic stress, depression and social isolation, with higher levels of psychological well-being. Dogs have provided services to humans for millennia, often as hunting and herding partners. But not until World War I were they systematically trained to assist people with disabilities, as guides for the blind. Service dogs now prompt deaf people when a doorbell rings, retrieve pills for people in wheelchairs and alert people with diabetes to blood sugar spikes. Psychiatric service dogs [blend the missions of] of task-oriented service canines and animals seen as providing emotional support. While the dogs paired with veterans with PTSD are commonly trained to wake them from nightmares ... advocates also laud their ability to soothe a panicking vet and provide companionship.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Surprising New Study Confirms the 'Warm Glow' of Kindness Is Real
2018-11-14, Inc.com
https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/surprising-new-study-confirms-warm-glow-of-...

Psychologists at the University of Sussex, after analyzing the brain scans of over 1000 people who made kind decisions, are now able to say for sure that the warm glow of kindness is real. In fact, it exists in a particular place within your brain. For the first time, researchers were able to bring together previous studies that suggested generosity activates the brain's reward network. These scientists were able to differentiate between two types of kindness: altruistic (when there is nothing to be gained from being kind) and strategic (when an act of kindness can lead to something gained). The study's findings revealed ... something unique about altruistic acts of kindness. Being kind with no intent of personal gain not only activates the brain's reward areas, it also activates other brain regions (in the subgenal anterior cingulate cortex) as well. This means that when you act kind with no hope of gaining something in return, your brain will activate more and in different ways than when you are strategically kind. Acting strategically kind can even make you feel worse, and diminish your glow. Co-author of the study and PhD student Jo Cutler explains, "...if after a long day helping a friend move house, they hand you a fiver, you could end up feeling undervalued and less likely to help again. A hug and kind words however might spark a warm glow and make you feel appreciated." Ultimately, it does matter what the intent is behind kindness.

Note: The study described in the article above is available here. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Bologna: The City that Rewards You with Free Beer and Ice Cream for Riding Your Bike
2018-11-05, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/bologna-bike-riding-free...

If you’ve ever felt that your green credentials have gone unrewarded, it might be worth considering a move to the Italian city of Bologna. For six months a year, an initiative called Bella Mossa (“Good Job”) operates within the city, which rewards users of sustainable forms of transport with free beer, ice cream or film tickets. The programme ... aims to reduce pollution and offers residents and visitors an incentive to walk, cycle or take public transport, rather than travel by car. Participants simply download the Better Points app on their phone, where they can log up to four journeys per day. Over 100 businesses in Bologna have signed up to the scheme to offer benefits for points accrued. Points are awarded for the number of trips taken, rather than the distance covered. Whether you travel one kilometre or 10, the points will remain the same. To avoid any abuse of the system, a GPS tracker makes sure people are being honest about the journeys they log and the method of transport used. The app also tells users how much CO2 was saved on each journey. Urban planner Marco Amdori devised the scheme in 2017; it’s funded by the EU and Bologna’s local government. Last year, [Bella Mossa] recorded 3.7 million kilometres of sustainable journeys in the city. This isn’t the first time Bologna has led the way when it comes ethical living. In 2008, the Festival of Responsible Travel was established in the city and has continued to run annually ever since.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Night of Firsts: Sharice Davids, Ilhan Omar and More Make History in Midterm Elections
2018-11-07, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/07/us/politics/election-history-firsts-blackb...

There were historic firsts across the country on Tuesday night, as voters chose from a set of candidates that was among the most diverse ever to run in the United States. Native American, Muslim and African-American women, and L.G.B.T. candidates, were among those who broke barriers. In next year’s session of Congress, there will be at least 100 women in the House for the first time in history. Sharice Davids [is] the first lesbian Native American to be elected to the House and part of “a rainbow wave” of L.G.B.T. candidates in this year’s election. She has criticized the Republican tax bill and called for “a true tax cut for the middle class.” Ilhan Omar, a Democratic state legislator in Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic former state legislator in Michigan, became the first Muslim women elected to Congress after winning their House races. Ms. Omar will also be the first Somali-American to serve in Congress. Ms. Tlaib, a Palestinian-American attorney, has championed Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage and abolishing the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Ayanna Pressley will become the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress. She beat a 10-term incumbent in the Democratic primary and vowed to pursue “activist leadership” to advance a progressive agenda. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman elected to Congress. Like Ms. Pressley, she defeated a white male incumbent who had served 10 terms in a Democratic primary.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New CDC reports show meditation and yoga have grown significantly in popularity
2018-11-08, US News and World Report
https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2018-11-08/yoga-m...

Yoga and meditation have increased in use among both U.S. adults and children in recent years, two new reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, with the number of adults who had recently practiced yoga soaring by nearly 60 percent. In 2017, an estimated 35.2 million adults had put themselves in a downward-facing dog, lotus pose or other yoga position in the past 12 months, accounting for a 14.3 percent population share and up from 22.4 million (9.5 percent) in 2012. Women and adults between 18 and 44 were most likely to have recently practiced yoga in 2017. Meanwhile, a separate CDC report showed that the shares of children ages 4 to 17 who had practiced yoga or meditation each increased substantially. In 2012, an estimated 3.1 percent of children had done yoga in the past 12 months, compared with 8.4 percent in 2017. The estimated share of kids who had meditated recently increased nearly tenfold during that time frame, from 0.6 percent to 5.4 percent. "An increase in promoting yoga or promoting meditation in studios, gyms, et cetera, could play a role in ... more people using these approaches," says Tainya Clarke, an epidemiologist with the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. Outpacing meditation and use of a chiropractor, yoga remained the most commonly used of the three "complementary health approaches" that were assessed. Still, the share who had meditated in the last year more than tripled between 2012 and 2017, from 4.1 percent to 14.2 percent.

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UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time
2018-11-06, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/06/uk-renewable-energy-capac...

The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago. In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels’ has fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic. The result is that between July and September, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants. Imperial College London, which compiled the figures, said the rate at which renewables had been built in the past few years was greater than the “dash for gas” in the 1990s. Dr Iain Staffell, who undertook the research, said: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and this quarter saw a major milestone on the journey.” In terms of installed capacity, wind is the biggest source of renewables at more than 20GW, followed by solar spread across nearly 1m rooftops and in fields. Biomass is third. In the past year, coal capacity has fallen by one-quarter, and there are only six coal-fired plants left in the UK. Coal operators have been affected by the UK’s carbon tax on electricity generation, as well as competition from gas.

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Bionic Leaf Is 10 Times Better At Photosynthesis Than Real Plants
2016-06-07, Popular Science
https://www.popsci.com/scientists-debut-system-making-fuel-through-more-effic...

Plants take in carbon dioxide, water, and sunshine to create a sugary fuel. Now researchers have done the same, but even better. A recent study in Science describes the system, named Bionic Leaf 2.0. In the “leaf,” solar energy splits up a water molecule, and bacteria turn hydrogen and carbon dioxide into liquid fuel, mainly isopropanol. The fuel could possibly be used to power a car's engine or motor in the future. The researchers, led by Daniel Nocera and Pamela Silver from Harvard University, have made advancements on their original Bionic Leaf, released last year. The system had some problems, mainly with the metal catalyst that helped the reaction. In the first edition, the catalyst also set off a reaction that attacked the bacteria’s DNA. The new system has a new catalyst made of cobalt and phosphorus. This solves the bacteria-attacking problem and also increases the efficiency of the reaction to 10 percent efficiency. Normal photosynthesis in plants is one percent efficient at converting solar energy to biomass. This technology has the potential to bring another type of solar energy to users. Nocera said in a press release that they are continuing their research, chiefly on bringing this technology to the developing world.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Political rivals stun voters with unexpected duet
2018-10-19, CBS
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lucy-rogers-vermont-political-rivals-stun-voters...

In Lamoille County, Vermont ... everywhere you look, bursts of Lucy Rogers green, and Zac Mayo red, white and blue. "We don't need as much government," Zac said. He's the Republican. She's the Democrat. "I'm pretty centrally focused on healthcare," Lucy said. They're aggressively competing for a state House seat. Both have visited, or plan to visit, every single home in the district — all 2,000 plus. The locals say they've never seen anything like it. But this highly competitive race took a dramatic turn recently. During their debate ... the candidates asked for a few extra minutes at the end. They stood up from their tables and began moving the furniture. No one knew what was coming. Indeed, what happened at the local library that night was totally unexpected and unprecedented in modern American politics. Political rivals Lucy Rogers and Zac Mayo shocked voters by coming together for a duet." Because we asked them if we could have a few minutes at the end to play a duet," Lucy said. "It strikes a chord," Zac said. "To say to the world that this is a better way." With that, the Democrat and the Republican united in perfect harmony. There weren't enough tissues to go around. "It marked a turning point for us," one person said. "It gave me a lot of hope," said another. The song they played that night -- and for us after -- is about longing for a less competitive society. Their rendition so resonated with folks in northern Vermont, CBS News actually saw houses that had signs for both candidates -- a clear indication that the winner of this race has already been decided: A landslide victory for civility.

Note: The Washington Post also carried a touching article on this inspiring event. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Jewish hospital staff treated synagogue shooting suspect as he spewed hate, administrator says
2018-11-01, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/01/health/robert-bowers-jewish-hospital-staff/ind...

When the man charged with killing 11 people Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue arrived with injuries at Allegheny General Hospital, the staff - some of whom are Jewish - stepped up and did their jobs, even as he continued to spew hate, their boss said. "Isn't it ironic that somebody who's yelling in the ambulance and the hospital, 'I want to kill all the Jews,' is taken care of by a Jewish nurse," Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, the facility's top administrator, told CNN's Alex Marquardt a day after the massacre. Cohen is a member of the Tree of Life synagogue, where the shooting unfolded. He lives nearby and even heard the shootout between police and Robert Bowers. When Bowers arrived at the hospital to be treated for multiple gunshot wounds, he was still screaming that he wanted to kill Jews, Cohen [said]. "And the first three people who are taking care of him are Jewish," Cohen said. "I said, 'Well yeah, ain't that a kick in the pants?'" Cohen ... checked on Bowers like he might any other patient, he said. "I asked him, 'How are you feeling?' And he was sort of groggy. He said, 'I'm feeling OK.' And I introduced myself as Dr. Cohen, the president of Allegheny General. And I left," Cohen said. "The FBI agent in charge looked at me and says, 'I don't know how you did that 'cause I'm not sure I could have,'" Cohen recalled. Cohen acknowledged that some on his staff had "conflicting emotions" about Bowers but said ultimately Allegheny General has one mission: to take care of sick people, regardless of who they are or their circumstances.

Note: Read a USA Today article where Jeff Cohen states about the the shooter "He's some mother's son." May this kind of compassion spread far and wide in our world.


Libraries, Writ Small
2018-10-26, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/books/little-free-library-todd-bol.html

Todd Bol was simply paying homage to his mother, a schoolteacher and lover of books. He built a doll-sized schoolhouse, filled it with his mother’s books and put it out for his neighbors in Hudson, Wis., as a book exchange. Today, just nine years later, more than 75,000 such “Little Free Libraries” dot the globe, from San Diego to Minneapolis, and from Australia to Siberia. Why did they catch on? For starters, they promote a friendly, sharing economy. No one tracks who took what. There’s no due date. No fines. You might never return a book. You might leave another instead. And, they are inherently cute. As Mr. Bol recalled, his neighbors “talked to it like it was a little puppy.” This week, many bore a white ribbon in tribute to Mr. Bol, who died Oct. 18, in Minnesota at the age of 62.

Note: A photo-essay of “Little Free Libraries” is available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Heard the One About the Disabled Muslim Comic From Jersey?
2018-10-29, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/arts/television/maysoon-zayid-disabled-mus...

The stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid likes to joke that if there were a competition called the Oppression Olympics, she would win gold. “I’m Palestinian, Muslim, I’m a woman of color, I’m disabled,” Zayid, who has cerebral palsy, tells audiences, before pausing a beat to hang her head, her long dark hair curtaining her face, “and I live in New Jersey.” The joke lands laughs whether Zayid tells it in red states or blue. She told it near the beginning of her 2014 TED Talk, which drew nearly 15 million views. She now has a development deal with ABC to create a ... sitcom called “Can-Can,” starring her. If “Can-Can” makes it ... it may push two populations, one widely ignored, the other demonized, from the country’s margins into the mainstream. People with disabilities make up nearly 20 percent of the population yet account for about 2 percent of onscreen characters, some 95 percent of which are played by able-bodied stars. And it is hard to imagine a group more vilified in the United States than Muslims or Middle Easterners. Zayid is a vociferous part of a small, dedicated movement calling attention to disability rights in entertainment, which are consistently overlooked in the quote-unquote diversity conversation. Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a philanthropic and advocacy organization for disability rights ... said Zayid’s show could crush enduring stigmas disabled people face.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Muslim communities raise more than $200,000 in 4 days for synagogue shooting victims
2018-10-31, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/29/us/iyw-muslim-crowdfunding-for-synagogue-victi...

A gunman stormed the Tree of Life Synagogue, killing 11 people in what the ADL called the deadliest attack ever on Jews in the United States. The horrific, hate-filled minutes were a raw manifestation of anger, division and anti-Semitism. But the response has been the opposite as faiths and cultures came together in grief and solidarity. Crowdfunding campaign "Muslims Unite for Pittsburgh Synagogue" has raised more than $200,000 to help the shooting victims. "We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action," the donation page says. The campaign is organized by the Muslim-American non-profits CelebrateMercy and MPower Change. It's hosted by LaunchGood, an online crowdfunding platform for the Muslim community. The campaign page invites all faiths to contribute, and the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh will work directly with the Tree of Life Synagogue to distribute the funds to the injured victims and grieving families. "The Pittsburgh community is our family; what happens to one of us, is felt by us all," The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh said in a statement. Shay Khatiri, an Iranian immigrant studying in Washington DC, was also inspired to help. He launched the Tree of Life Synagogue Victims campaign on GoFundMe on Saturday with a goal of $50,000. Khatiri has been inspired by the outpouring of support. More than 10 thousand people have donated, raising over $800,000.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How babysitting money planted a seed to help Nepali kids blossom
2016-03-21, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2015/04/09/living/cnnheroes-doyne/index.html

Ten years ago, with her high school diploma and a backpack, Maggie Doyne left her New Jersey hometown. She ... went to India and worked with Nepalese refugees. There, she met a young girl who wanted to find her family in Nepal. Doyne went with her. That's when Doyne's life took an unexpected turn. A decade-long civil war had just ended in the country, and Doyne witnessed its effects firsthand. "It changed me," said Doyne. "There were children with mallets that would go into the riverbed, pick up a big stone and break it into little, little pieces (to sell). And they were doing that all day, every day." Doyne called her parents and asked them to wire her the $5,000 she had earned babysitting. In 2006, she purchased land in Surkhet, a district in western Nepal. She worked for two years with the local community to build the Kopila Valley Children's Home. Today, Kopila - which means "flower bud" in Nepali - is home to about 50 children, from infants to teenagers. Doyne started the BlinkNow Foundation to support and grow her efforts. In 2010, the group opened its Kopila Valley School, which today educates more than 350 students. "Every single year we'll get from 1,000 to 1,500 applicants. And we choose the ones who are the most needful and really won't be in school without us," [said Doyne]. "Most of them live in one room, a mud hut. A lot of them are just in survival mode. We try to relieve the burden from the family, so that the child has food, medical care, books, zero fees for education."

Note: Watch an inspiring five-minute video of this amazing woman.


Conquering Mt. Everest, Against All Odds
2018-10-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/travel/blind-climber-against-all-odds.html

Reaching the summit of Mount Everest is a triumph for any climber, but for Erik Weihenmayer, the accomplishment is even more impressive. That’s because he is blind. Born with a rare eye disease, Mr. Weihenmayer lost his sight at age 13 and later discovered a sense of freedom through climbing. Over the years, the 50-year-old has reached the highest peaks on seven continents and also kayaked the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. A former schoolteacher, Mr. Weihenmayer co-founded No Barriers, a nonprofit organization that teaches outdoor skills to those with physical challenges. "Growing up in Connecticut, my Dad would drive me three hours to Massachusetts once a month to this adventure program for the blind, [said Mr. Weihenmayer]. "They took us to New Hampshire and we rock climbed on these beautiful granite rock faces. It was very tactile. That’s what I really loved about it. You can feel all these little knobs and cracks and fissures and little dishes in the rock. So you’re problem-solving with your hands and feet as your eyes. You had to put your body in all these cool, acrobatic positions to get yourself from point A to point B and you’re trying to solve this puzzle that’s embedded in the rock. I loved the great adventure. I got to the top and I could hear the valley below me. I could hear the wind blowing through the trees. And I thought this is so stunning. This is what I want out of my life."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This machine can make gallons of fresh drinking water right out of thin air
2018-10-25, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/25/world/fresh-water-green-machine-trnd/index.html

Machines designed by a California-based team can produce, in some cases, up to 300 gallons of fresh drinking water a day by pulling it straight from the air. And the team just won a $1.5 million prize for it. Skywater machines, housed in big metal boxes, are atmospheric water generators that condense water vapor from the atmosphere and turn it into drinking water. The machines can be powered by solar energy or the burning of biofuels. They can be used for households, for farming or for emergency relief efforts. The prize, called the Water Abundance XPRIZE, was awarded Saturday by XPRIZE, a California nonprofit ... aimed at creating solutions for the world's problems. The Water Abundance XPRIZE was a two-year competition that sought to find answers to the global water crisis by facilitating the development of new technologies. David Hertz, one of leaders of the Skysource/Skywater Alliance, says he's excited about what the Skywater machines could do for people living in parts of the world where water is becoming more scarce. "I've just been very, very interested in ... the importance of fresh water to mankind," Hertz [said]. "And in being in California, the issues are fast approaching crisis proportions." Hertz says there's more than enough water vapor in the air from which the machines can extract to produce gallons of water every day. Hertz estimates there's about "37.5 million billion gallons of water" in the atmosphere at any given time, which Skysource says is more fresh water than in all the rivers on Earth.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Following Your Passions Is Good for You (and How to Get Started)
2018-10-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/smarter-living/follow-your-passion-hobbies...

A 2015 study published in The Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that pursuing your passion both lowers stress and contributes to greater happiness over all. Researchers found that participants who engaged in hobbies were 34 percent less stressed and 18 percent less sad during the activities, as well as for some time after. Laura Vanderkam, a productivity expert, advocates finding time for yourself as a means to greater happiness over all. “Life just feels better when you have things in your hours that you want to do,” Ms. Vanderkam said. “There’s moments where time almost has no meaning because we’re so happy about what we’re doing. The more time you can spend in that zone, the better life feels.” We’re all busy. Most of us feel as if we can’t cram anything more into our schedules. But Ms. Vanderkam wants to dispel that idea. “When you say you don’t have time, what you’re really saying is, it’s not a priority,” she said. To figure out where extra time lives in your schedule, she recommends thinking of time in weeks, rather than days. A week “is really the cycle of life as people actually live it,” she said. If you’re prone to procrastination, start small and specific. Procrastination often happens when we get overwhelmed and stall before we even start. “Taking very small steps is key,” Ms. Vanderkam said. “If you take small steps repeatedly, they really do add up. Say, I’m going to do just three things today. That’s 15 things per workweek; that’s 750 things in a year. If you do 750 important things in a year, that’s a pretty good year.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


23 charts and maps that show the world is getting much, much better
2018-10-17, Vox
https://www.vox.com/2014/11/24/7272929/global-poverty-health-crime-literacy-g...

For most Americans, these feel like bleak times. But ... under the radar, some aspects of life on Earth are getting dramatically better. Extreme poverty has fallen by half since 1990, and life expectancy is increasing in poor countries — and there are many more indices of improvement like that everywhere you turn. But many of us aren’t aware of ways the world is getting better because the press — and humans in general — have a strong negativity bias. Bad economic news gets more coverage than good news. Negative experiences affect people more, and for longer, than positive ones. Survey evidence consistently indicates that few people in rich countries have any clue that the world has taken a happier turn in recent decades — one poll in 2016 found that only 8 percent of US residents knew that global poverty had fallen since 1996. It’s worth paying some attention to this huge progress. Nothing’s permanent, and big challenges ... remain, but the world is getting much, much better on a variety of important, underappreciated dimensions. Probably the most important [is] a huge decline in the share of the world population living on less than $1.90 a day, from nearly 35 percent in 1987 to under 11 percent in 2013.

Note: Don't miss all the great graphics at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Danone Bets on Healthy Eating Business to Boost Growth
2018-10-22, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/10/22/business/22reuters-danone-forecast...

Danone is banking on its expansion into the lucrative healthy eating business to produce sales growth that will beat the French food company's rivals over the coming decade. The world's biggest yoghurt maker told an Investor Seminar in London on Monday that it was relying on its fast-growing food categories such as probiotics, organic food and water to deliver "superior sustainable profitable growth" by 2030. As more consumers opt for healthier diets they are prepared to pay a premium for trying to pursue a more socially responsible lifestyle. Danone - along with rivals such as Nestle - has been seeking to rebuild consumers' trust in big food companies. Last year, for example, Danone bought U.S. organic food producer WhiteWave in a $12.5 billion deal, to boost growth and bring the company closer to current healthier eating trends. Francisco Camacho, executive vice president for Danone's 'Essential Dairy and Plant Based' business told the investor meeting he expected to triple the size of the plant-based business to 5 billion euros ($5.75 billion) by 2025 from 1.7 billion euros in 2018. Danone has been stepping up efforts to attract young consumers with products featuring probiotics, protein and plant-based ingredients, all fast-growing product categories.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The World’s Oldest Barber Is 107 and Still Cutting Hair Full Time
2018-10-07, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/nyregion/worlds-oldest-barber-anthony-manc...

Anthony Mancinelli shook out a barber towel and welcomed the next customer to his chair in Fantastic Cuts, a cheery hair salon in a nondescript strip mall. “Hey, paisan - same as usual,” said John O’Rourke to Mr. Mancinelli, who began layering Mr. O’Rourke’s hair with his steady, snipping scissors. “I don’t let anyone else touch my hair,” said Mr. O’Rourke. “The guy’s been cutting hair for a century.” Mr. Mancinelli is 107 and still working full time, cutting hair five days a week from noon to 8 p.m. He has been working in barbershops since he was 11. In 2007, at a mere 96 years old, he was recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest working barber. Since then, the commendations have rolled in - from local civic groups, elected officials and barbering companies - all congratulating him: 100 years, 101, 102, and so on. Mr. Mancinelli just keeps outdating the awards. As hairstyles have changed over the decades, Mr. Mancinelli has adapted. “I cut them all,” he said, “long hair, short hair, whatever was in style - the shag, the Buster Brown, straight bangs, permanents.” Some customers have been coming to him for well over 50 years, having gotten hundreds of haircuts. “I have some customers, I cut their father, grandfather and great-grandfather - four generations,” said Mr. Mancinelli, who has six great-great-grandchildren. His son, Bob Mancinelli, said: “Some of his older customers, he helps them. He’ll say to an 80-year-old guy, ‘Listen, when you get to be my age. ...’ They love hearing that.”

Note: Explore a collection of concise summaries of news articles on amazing seniors.


Four Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Denmark's Work Culture
2016-01-25, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyguttman/2016/01/25/four-things-entrepreneurs-...

Denmark has consistently ranked high on Forbes’ and other lists of Best Countries for Business. Entrepreneurship may not seem obvious in a society with a generous social welfare system and one which places a high value on the notion of equality, and a single, rather than upper or lower class, but there are valuable lessons to be learned from Denmark’s work culture which can be applied ... anywhere. Danish work culture focuses on teamwork, rather than pitting employees against each other. Competition is not institutionalized in the same way it is in other countries. The absence of this cutthroat environment creates a less stressful workplace and more opportunities for collaboration. Management in Denmark often eat alongside teams, which is an extension of ... open plan office design. Open plan removes the hierarchy and that environment, naturally, makes the flow of information from top to bottom much more organic. Independent thinking and autonomy are just as highly valued in Danish business culture as teamwork. And yes, the two can co-exist. Rather than discouraging staff from identifying problems outside their area of expertise ... Danish businesses encourage employees to spot problems or ways the company can work better and provide solutions whether relevant to their direct tasks or not. This kind of inclusion makes every employee a stakeholder and essentially instills a sense that everyone’s voice is heard and is working for the good of the company.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Taking Time Off Is Good For Your Body, Your Mind, And Your Business
2014-07-21, Huffington Post
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/vacation-inspires-creativity_n_5600183

The average American employee only takes advantage of half of their earned vacation days, and 61 percent of workers admit to working during their supposed time off. However, science shows that taking a true vacation ... not only allows the body to physically repair itself, but can also leave you feeling inspired when you return. Designer Stefan Sagmeister embraced the necessity of time off and has come to rely on it to help produce his most meaningful artwork. Combining his passions for art and music, he is responsible for famous album covers for Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith, to name a few. He also co-founded Sagmeister & Walsh, Inc. with Jessica Walsh, where he now works as a graphic designer and typographer. And every seven years, he shuts down their New York City studio for a full year while he travels to a faraway place to rest, explore and seek inspiration. “Right now we spend the first 25 years of our lives learning, then there’s another 40 years that’s really reserved for working, and then tacked on at the end of it are about 15 years for retirement,” said Sagmeister. “And I thought it might be helpful to basically cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them between those working years. The work that comes out of these years flows back into the company and into society at large rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two.”

Note: Watch Stefan Sagmeister's TED Talk “The Power Of Time Off” for more on the value of vacationing. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How a nightmare childhood inspired his one-of-a-kind gifts
2018-06-14, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/14/us/cnnheroes-rob-scheer-comfort-cases/index.html

When Rob Scheer was 12 years old, he ended up in foster care after a childhood filled with violence and abuse. As he moved through the system, he carried his limited belongings in a trash bag. Yet he was determined to overcome the obstacles. He went on to join the US Navy and launch a successful corporate career, and he always knew he wanted to be a father. In 2008, Scheer and his husband, Reece Scheer, decided they would adopt children out of foster care. All the children showed up with their belongings in trash bags. "I couldn't believe it. The trash bag that I had carried so many years prior to that had found its way back into my life," Rob Scheer said. "It's just not acceptable that any child should carry their belongings in something that we all throw our trash in." The couple adopted the four children, and as a family, the Scheers began compiling supplies to donate to local foster children. Their nonprofit, Comfort Cases, was born. "We started building cases for kids that came into foster care, making sure that they had the basics," Scheer said. The backpacks are loaded with necessities like soap and toothbrushes, along with a book, journal, blanket, stuffed animal and other items. Since 2013, the group has assembled more than 20,000 Comfort Cases for children in foster care all over the country. "We want to make them feel loved," Scheer said. "I want them to know that even though they started their life in the system, the system still is not defining them. They deserve more."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Smiling in the Face of Adversity: The Paula Hickey Story
2016-05-09, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/smiling-in-the-face-of-ad_b_9866194.html

In the short time that I’ve gotten to know Paula Hickey, I’ve found her to be a revelation. Listening to her bright, cheerful voice and her words of optimism and wisdom, it seems impossible that she is speaking to me from a hospice bed. And I found myself wondering...how is it that a woman facing death seems so much more present, more alive, than many of the healthy, able-bodied people I’ve met over the years? While the other kids her age were busy with school, playdates, and after-school sports, Paula was forced to spend her childhood in and out of hospitals. And after a traumatic brain aneurysm burst in her head at age nineteen, Paula’s go-to joke became, “I need that like I need a hole in my head!” Instead of feeling sorry for herself, or self-conscious in front of her classmates, Paula took the remarkable approach of looking at life as a comedy. She was nobody’s victim; she was like the star of her own quirky sitcom. And that’s what drew people toward her. Paula made it to college—and when everyone doubted that she would graduate after her brain hemorrhage at age nineteen, which caused her to lose her math skills and regressed her reading level to that of a fifth grader, Paula was resolute in her desire to not be a statistic. “I was determined to make something of my life, so I picked myself up and graduated college within three-and-a-half years... I’ve never given up. I’ve always kicked my own butt.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In Italy, how one cooperative is trying to counter the Mafia’s influence
2018-06-20, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2018/0620/In-Italy-how-on...

The first time Simmaco Perillo arrived in the Italian hamlet of Maiano di Sessa Aurunca, everything around him was abandoned. It was 2005, and nobody wanted to cultivate former Mafia land. “We wanted to make a farm for the reintegration of disadvantaged people,” says Mr. Perillo. Today, the social cooperative Al di lŕ dei sogni, or Beyond the Dreams, is making pasta and growing organic vegetables on land that once belonged to the powerful Camorra Mafia. The cooperative [works] with ... those recovering from addiction, former prisoners, and people who were released from public mental hospitals, to provide sustainable livelihoods and combat the influence of the Mafia. Perillo and others in the cooperative ... were able to [acquire the land] thanks to national law 109/96, passed in 1996, which permits the social reuse of property confiscated from the criminal organizations. The cooperative was granted the land, but threats and attacks were not long in coming. “After the keys were handed to us, they [Mafia gangsters] arrived at night. They pulled down walls, broke through the windows, severed the electrical system, destroyed the plumbing. So we decided to sleep inside” to guard the property, Perillo recalls with a proud smile. Despite the setting of several intimidating fires, among other tactics, the cooperative was able to set up a sustainable business. Today 32 people are members of the cooperative, and more than half are disadvantaged people.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


From tear gas to tweets: 50 years in the evolution of US activism
2018-07-27, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2018/0727/From-tear-gas-to-tweets-50-ye...

On a cross-country drive from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., our quest was to find out how activism has evolved in the past 50 years. Hours of interviews with former and current activists showed us that while the blueprints for battle have changed, the issues many people are fighting for have not. In 1968, the goal was to raise public awareness about the struggle of marginalized communities. Activists then used music, art, and writing as well as protests to bring that struggle forward. “What drove those movements was a rather wild hope that it was time for the country to repair what had been broken in American history,” says sociologist Todd Gitlin, author of “The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage.” Across the country, we saw people waking up to causes – conservative and liberal – they can support and finding a way to fight for them, just as activists did in 1968. Back then it might have meant wearing a brown beret or a black jacket, taking photos for a magazine, or writing a song with a person whose skin was a different color. Today it would look more like donning a pink hat or waving a rainbow flag or running for office when everyone says you can’t or shouldn’t. “I’ve become more aware at all levels,” says Ms. Oakes, [an] English teacher in West Virginia [who helped organize a successful strike]. “We have a platform to build on that I don’t think we had a year ago. And it’s been inspiring to see how we’ve started something.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


81-year-old runner is breaking records but says 'the best is yet to come'
2018-07-31, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/31/health/jeanne-daprano-runner-80s-longevity/ind...

Jeanne Daprano wants the world to know something: She's not leaving anything behind. No regrets, no fear. At 81 years old, she's still pushing her body to the limit. She's still running competitive races, breaking world records and taking on new challenges. "The thing I'm learning about aging is, it's inevitable," Daprano said. "I'm not going to escape it. There are two ways to go: You can either press on or give up. Do I want to go back to 50, 40? No. Because I think the best is yet to come." As an elementary school teacher, she began running in order to keep up with her students. "I was known as the running teacher," she said. It might have started there, but Daprano's life as a runner took off in ways she never could have predicted. She began running competitively with 5K and 10K road races before moving to the track. She is now the world record holder in the women's 70-year-old age group mile and the women's 75-year-old age group 400 meters and 800 meters. And she's not done. In February, Daprano took on a new challenge: her first indoor rowing competition. In classic fashion, she broke the world record in the 80-to-84 age group, rowing 2,000 meters in 9:23.7. For those hoping to either start getting in shape or stay in shape for a long time, she offers this advice: "Listen to your body. What are you passionate about? Don't look ahead or compare yourself to somebody else. I'm still doing it, and I probably have a greater passion now than ever, because I'm understanding who I am."

Note: Read more on this amazing woman and her routine. Explore a collection of concise summaries of news articles on amazing seniors.


How Golf Digest and College Students Helped Free a Man Wrongly Convicted of Murder
2018-09-20, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/20/nyregion/Valentino-Dixon-golf-digest-exone...

There were dozens of witnesses when a gunfight broke out on a street corner in Buffalo on Aug. 10, 1991. Torriano Jackson, 17, was killed. Valentino Dixon, then 21, was at the scene. Hours later, he was arrested. And in 1992, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to almost 40 years to life in prison. For years, Mr. Dixon fought that conviction from behind bars, insisting on his innocence. No physical evidence had ever connected him to the murder, and another man had confessed to it more than once. His murder conviction was vacated on Wednesday, and Mr. Dixon, 48, walked free. As he struggled to get his conviction overturned, Mr. Dixon got help from ... Martin Tankleff, who was imprisoned for 17 years after being wrongly convicted of murdering his parents. In prison, [Dixon] liked to draw detailed landscapes in colored pencil. Golf courses were a frequent subject. That caught the interest of journalists at Golf Digest, and the magazine profiled Mr. Dixon. In 2017, a new district attorney, John Flynn, took office in Erie County. And in 2018, a course called the Prison Reform Project was offered for the first time at Georgetown University ... with Mr. Tankleff [serving] as an adjunct professor. Three students chose Mr. Dixon’s case and gathered evidence. Their work helped Donald M. Thompson, a lawyer for Mr. Dixon, make his case to the district attorney’s office. Mr. Flynn, the district attorney, said the newly discovered evidence from various witnesses attesting to Mr. Dixon’s innocence was deemed credible.

Note: Read the Golf Digest profile featuring Mr. Dixon's artwork which brought much-needed attention to his wrongful incarceration. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New Benchmark Will Rank Companies On Their SDG Success
2018-09-29, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/annefield/2018/09/29/new-benchmark-will-rank-com...

In the world of social enterprise and impact investing, perhaps the most universally accepted guide is the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals [SDG]. Introduced in 2015, the 17 inter-connected goals now form an organizing principle for many entrepreneurs, as well as investors. To monitor and track how successful all that activity is, you ... need consistent benchmarks for measuring and comparing just how all those companies are doing. That’s where the World Benchmarking Alliance comes in. Recently announced at the United Nations General Assembly, it will develop free, publicly available benchmarks which will rank companies on their contributions to achieving the SDGs. With that in hand, everyone from consumers and investors to governments will have a comprehensive tool for deciding where to spend their money. Ultimately, the goal is to clarify what society expects from business. Some examples of factors in various benchmarks: For the SDG category of food and agriculture, they would include whether companies are producing food in an environmentally friendly way and ensuring acceptable livelihoods for farmers. For climate and energy, they would show to what extent companies in high carbon-emitting industries are contributing to the Paris Agreement. The aim is to develop all the benchmarks by 2023 to assess the world’s largest 2,000 companies. The first crop, due to be published in 2020, will address food and agriculture, climate and energy digital inclusion and gender equality and empowerment.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Japan's Space Rovers Send Pictures Back After First Ever Successful Landing On Asteroid
2018-09-25, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/asteroid-japan-rove...

Two tiny robots have landed safely on an asteroid after a Japanese spacecraft dropped them there on Friday. The scientists behind the historic mission expressed their delight as the rovers sent back the first images from the surface of the space rock Ryugu. Dubbed MINERVA-II1, the robotic explorers are the first of their kind to be successfully landed on an asteroid. The Japanese space agency JAXA announced that both units were operational after a period of silence between the unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa-2 depositing them and connection being established with the team on Earth. “I cannot find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realise mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid,” said Hayabusa-2 project manager Dr Yuichi Tsuda. The rovers will use the low gravity conditions on Ryugu to hop across the asteroid’s surface, measuring temperatures and sending images back to Earth via Hayabusa-2. “I was so moved to see these small rovers successfully explore an asteroid surface because we could not achieve this at the time of Hayabusa, 13 years ago,” said project mission manager Dr Makoto Yoshikawa. The small rovers are the first component of Hayabusa-2’s mission to Ryugu. Next month the spacecraft will deploy an explosive device to blast a hole in the asteroid, allowing rock samples to be taken from its depths. Following that it will release a French-German landing vehicle known as the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) to explore the surface in greater detail.

Note: Check out the fascinating photos of an actual asteroid at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet The White Nationalist Who Walked Away From It All
2018-09-24, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rising-out-of-hatred-derek-black-white-n...

Derek Black was the heir apparent to America’s white nationalist movement. He was the son of Don Black, the founder of the hate site Stormfront and the godson of David Duke, a former grand wizard of the KKK. The kingdom was Derek Black’s for the taking. One day, seemingly out of nowhere, he walked away from it all. In the new book “Rising Out of Hatred” by Washington Post investigative reporter Eli Saslow, the story of how Black came to leave it all behind is told. Saslow dives deep into Black’s transformation, which took place at a small liberal arts college. When members of the student body discovered a white nationalist living in their midst, many of them publicly shamed him. But a handful of students did the opposite, practicing a form of extreme acceptance. "When I first found [Derek Black], he was unequivocal that he did not want to be written about," [said Saslow]. "He naively thought he could leave it all behind. Meanwhile, white nationalism was seeing a rise in the political space. There were ... phrases he had helped popularize becoming mainstream. Derek felt increasingly culpable. He was haunted by it. That’s when he decided he needed to start talking about it more openly." Derek was on a campus that was ... social justice minded. Students were smart enough to be able to explain concepts like systematic oppression and privilege. But coming from people he respected, those ideas suddenly had real merit to him. He took time to engage and really think about it."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Octopuses Get Strangely Cuddly On The Mood Drug Ecstasy
2018-09-20, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/09/20/648788149/octopuses-get-...

The psychoactive drug known as ecstasy can make people feel extra loving toward others. A study published Thursday suggests it has the same effect on octopuses. Octopuses are almost entirely antisocial, except when they're mating. Scientists who study them have to house them separately so they don't kill or eat each other. However, octopuses given the drug known as MDMA (or ecstasy, E, Molly or a number of other slang terms) wanted to spend more time close to other octopuses and even hugged them. Octopuses' ... brains have a host of strange structures that evolved on a completely different trajectory from the human path. "They have this huge complex brain that ... has absolutely no business acting like ours does — but here they show that it does," says [neuroscientist Judit] Pungor. "This ... gentle, cuddly behavior is really pretty fascinating." The idea to test the drug's effect in octopuses came from Gul Dolen, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University. "My lab has been studying MDMA for a long time, she says, "and we have worked out a lot of neural mechanisms that enable MDMA to have ... pro-social effects." Dolen got interested in octopuses a few years ago, when scientists sequenced the full genetic code of a ... California two-spot octopus. It turns out that octopuses and people have almost identical genes for a protein that binds the signaling molecule serotonin to brain cells. This protein is also the target of MDMA, so Dolen wondered how the drug would affect this usually unfriendly animal.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Startup Is Building the Techiest Indoor Farm in the World
2018-02-28, Fortune
http://fortune.com/2018/02/28/bowery-indoor-farm-technology/

Indoor vertical farming startup Bowery is in the process of building a second facility which it claims will be the most technologically sophisticated indoor farm in the world. The operation will be in Kearny, N.J., and grow 30 times more produce than its current indoor farm that’s located nearby, and supply 100 types of leafy greens and herbs. Bowery is applying robotics, machine learning, and predictive analytics to the agriculture sector, a segment of the economy that has been slow to adopt technology and digital advancements. “Software is the brains of the farm,” says Bowery CEO and founder Irving Fain. Small adjustments—water flow, light intensity, temperature, humidity—can then be made in response to data inputs to impact outcomes like taste and flavor, such as growing a mustard green that’s got a spicier pick. “These changes get pushed out automatically into our system,” says Fain. “The precision and level of control is unparalleled.” Fain says that Bowery is more than 100 times more efficient than a square foot of farmland, in large part because the startup can grow 365 days a year. Bowery doesn’t use any pesticides or agri-chemicals. Normally out in a field that would lead to reduction in yield, but Bowery has more crop cycles per year, grows twice as fast as a field, and has higher yield per crop cycle, says Fain. “It’s a better product for us and better way of growing and less destructive to the earth,” says Fain. “We’re using technology to grow the purest food possible.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A Dutch Teenager Had a Dream to Clean Up the World's Oceans. 7 Years On, It's Coming True
2018-09-07, Time
http://time.com/5389782/boyan-slat-plastic-ocean-cleanup/

Boyan Slat spends a lot of time thinking about the ocean. The Dutch inventor has designed the world’s first ocean plastic cleanup system. After five and a half years of hard work, the 23-year-old Slat will watch from dry land as System 001 — a floating barrier nearly 2,000ft long — snakes its way out under the Golden Gate Bridge into the Pacific. Its destination is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a gyre of plastic waste twice the size of Texas held in position by ocean currents between California and Hawaii. If all goes to plan ... an array of 60 systems could reduce the amount of plastic there by half by 2025. “I hope that this will be a turning point for the plastic pollution problem,” Slat [said]. “For sixty years it has only gotten worse and worse. Now hopefully we’re turning the tide.” The eradication of the garbage patch, and more broadly the salvation of our oceans, has been Slat’s single-minded goal ever since he was 16 years old, when a diving trip to Greece yielded more plastic bag sightings than fish. Struck by the idea for a floating barrier that could collect plastic using the power of ocean currents alone, he founded his company, The Ocean Cleanup, aged just 18. Because the system is solid rather than a net, Slat says sea life will be protected from becoming ensnared. The hope is that plastic will accumulate as if on a seashore, ready to be collected by boats and taken for recycling.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Damyanti Gupta: First female engineer with an advanced degree at Ford Motor Company
2018-06-01, Time
http://time.com/collection-post/5296993/damyanti-gupta-firsts/

I was born in a small town in British India. One of the bloodiest partitions in the history of the world took place in my country. In 1947, the British had finally left India, which led to a division of the country into India and Pakistan. There were riots everywhere, and, when I was 5, we had to flee in the middle of the night to the coastal town of Karachi. It wasn’t until I was 13 that I even heard the word engineer. The Prime Minister of India [Jawaharlal Nehru] visited my small city. He said, “after 200 years of British rule, India has no industry and that we need engineers. I was the first woman admitted to the engineering college that I attended in India. There wasn’t even a ladies’ room on the campus. At 19, I came across a biography of Henry Ford, and I started dreaming about one day working for the company he had built. After finishing college in India, my parents gave me their lifetime savings to help me fulfill my dream. I arrived in the Motor City, Detroit, Mich., in January of 1967 without snow boots, a warm jacket, or a car. The first time I applied to Ford, I wasn’t hired, but I didn’t give up. When I tried again a few months later, the HR person was confused. He looked at my resume and said, “You’re applying for an engineering job, but we have no females here.” I told him, “I’m here, and unless you hire me, you’ll never have any.” It worked. I became the first female with a Masters in Engineering ever hired by the Ford Motor Company.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


From fear of Islam to outreach: how 9/11 prompted interfaith efforts
2011-09-08, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2011/0908/From-fear-of-Islam-to-outreac...

After the deadly attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the first person Rabbi Ted Falcon called was his friend, Jamal Rahman, a Sufi imam. On the following Sabbath, the rabbi invited the imam to his Seattle synagogue to speak to the congregation. Soon after, the two spiritual leaders, along with Pastor Don Mackenzie, commenced a series of frank conversations about their beliefs. The talks eventually inspired a radio show, a pair of books, and worldwide speaking tours. The men’s willingness to ask and answer tough questions about faith in the wake of 9/11 had clearly struck a nerve with many Americans. Over the past 10 years, the percentage of US congregations involved in interfaith worship has doubled – from 7 to 14 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of congregations performing interfaith community service nearly tripled – from 8 to almost 21 percent – according to a new survey by Hartford Seminary’s Institute for Religion Research. In doing so, these congregations have joined the colorful, decades-old American interfaith movement. Since 9/11, the movement has gained new momentum and, more than ever before, has drawn Muslims into its ranks. “To think about 9/11 without thinking about the interfaith movement would almost be a travesty,” says Maureen Fiedler, host of “Interfaith Voices,” a ... radio program that was created in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks. “Islam was so misunderstood and so vilified by those events,” says Ms. Fiedler, “that a real interfaith understanding has to be brought to bear on the issue.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


To narrow toxic divides, students build bridges between faiths
2018-09-12, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/to-narrow-toxic-divides-students-build-brid...

As part of the Interfaith Youth Core, students and educators from colleges around the nation are coming together to find common ground while respecting differences. The nonprofit was founded on the notion that ... a 21st century democracy can thrive only if its citizens have the skills to successfully navigate divides of all kinds. Eboo Patel is the founder and president of the organization, the largest of its kind in North America. Patel is Muslim, born in Mumbai, India, and raised in middle-class suburban Chicago. There are chapters on nearly 500 campuses now, focusing on service in the community, pressing issues on campus, and making meaningful cooperation with others a normal part of the college experience in and outside the classroom. "I was a big part of both the diversity and the service learning movements in college," [said Patel]. "And part of the intersection of that movement was the idea that you bring people from different racial and class and geographic backgrounds together to do service. That doesn't mean we're going to agree on every election. That doesn't mean we're going to agree on economic policy, but we can start a baseball league together. We can help make the school play successful. We can participate in disaster relief efforts together. If we're not willing to do the work of citizens with other citizens, you can't have a healthy, diverse democracy."

Note: Eboo Patel recently released a book titled "Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise." Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Glenn Cunningham, 78, Premier Miler of 1930's
1988-03-11, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/1988/03/11/obituaries/glenn-cunningham-78-premier-mil...

Glenn Cunningham, a former world-record holder in the mile run who in 1979 was named the greatest track performer in the history of Madison Square Garden, died yesterday. He was 78 years old. That Mr. Cunningham could win 21 of 31 mile races on the indoor track at the Garden during his prime in the 1930's was impressive. More significantly, he did it after suffering life-threatening burns on both legs as a 7-year-old when a stove in a school classroom in Everetts, Kan., exploded, killing his older brother Floyd. After being told there was a strong possibility he would never walk again, he spent seven months in bed, and then received daily massages from his mother, who kneaded his damaged muscles and sped his way to walking, and then running. In high school, he played baseball and football and boxed and wrestled. At 13, he entered his first high school mile race and won easily. Using running as therapy for the burn injuries, he found that middle distances suited him. At a sophomore at the University of Kansas, Mr. Cunningham set an American record for the mile with a time of 4 minutes 11.1 seconds. He was selected as a member of the United States team for the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and finished fourth in the 1,500-meter run. In 1933 he won the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. In his competitions at Madison Square Garden, Mr. Cunningham set six world records in the mile and the 1,500 meters and another at 1,000 yards.

Note: For more on the incredibly inspiring story of this great man, read this engaging article. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of news articles on incredibly inspiring disabled persons.


Global demand for fossil fuels will peak in 2023, says thinktank
2018-09-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/sep/11/global-energy-demand-fossil-...

Global demand for fossil fuels will peak in 2023, an influential thinktank has predicted. Explosive growth in wind and solar will combine with action on climate change and slowing growth in energy needs to ensure that fossil fuel demand peaks in the 2020s, Carbon Tracker predicted. The projection is much more bullish than estimates by the global energy watchdog and oil and gas companies, which mostly expect demand to peak in the mid-2030s. Coal reached its peak in 2014. The group, which popularised the notion of a carbon bubble – where fossil fuel assets lose their value in the switch to a low-carbon economy – said the findings spelled disruption for energy firms. The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, has already warned that markets face a “huge hit” from the transition. The Carbon Tracker report warned incumbency and size would be no protection, and compared the fate of fossil fuel firms to the horse and cart at the start of the 20th century. “Demand for incumbents peaks early, and investors in incumbents lose money early,” it said. The first two decades of this century were the innovation period for renewables, the authors said, while the “endgame” for fossil fuels – when renewables overtake them – would come from 2050 onwards. Falling wind and solar costs would lead to some emerging countries “leapfrogging” fossil fuels and opting for renewables to meet most of their growing energy needs, the thinktank said.

Note: Ireland recently became the first country to fully divest from fossil fuels. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This breakthrough in a type of photosynthesis could provide the world with unlimited energy
2018-09-12, MarketWatch
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-breakthrough-in-a-type-of-photosynthes...

Imagine a new, potent generation of solar panels capable of producing unlimited amounts of energy, using only sunshine and algae. This could be possible, thanks to a breakthrough made by researchers from the University of Cambridge, documented in a Nature Energy 2018 article. They were able to split water into its components, oxygen and hydrogen, using what is known as semi-artificial photosynthesis. The procedure has ... never been used to generate large amounts of energy due to expensive and toxic catalysts necessary for the reaction. Photosynthesis [is] the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy. Oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis when water absorbed by plants is “split.” Most of the oxygen on Earth is here because of this photochemical reaction. Hydrogen ... is also produced this way. Now, by combining algae and man-made components, researchers have been able to bypass both natural inefficiency and the use of toxic reactants. This was achieved by enabling a dormant process in algae that uses a special enzyme (hydrogenase) to reduce water into hydrogen and oxygen. Katarzyna Sokol, a researcher on the project ... explains: "Hydrogenase is an enzyme present in algae that is capable of reducing protons into hydrogen. During evolution, this process has been deactivated because it wasn’t necessary for survival, but we successfully managed to bypass the inactivity to [split] water into hydrogen and oxygen."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Harriette Thompson, Oldest Woman to Finish a Marathon, Dies at 94
2017-10-16, Runners World
https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a20862554/harriette-thompson-oldest-woman-t...

Harriette Thompson, the irrepressible nonagenarian who in 2015 became the oldest woman to finish a marathon, died Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was 94. A two-time cancer survivor, Thompson was a regular at the San Diego Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, running with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She started running the marathon in San Diego in 1999, and ran the race every year through 2015, except for 2003, when she was undergoing treatment for cancer. She raised more than $115,000 for cancer research through her efforts. In 2015, at 92 years and 93 days, she finished the marathon in 7:24:36, breaking the record for oldest woman to run a marathon previously held by Gladys Burrill, who at 92 years and 19 days ran 9:53 at the Honolulu Marathon in 2010. Thompson was slowed by many admirers who sought pictures with her during races. “Since I’m so old, everybody wants to have their picture taken with me,” Thompson told Runner’s World in 2015. “Brenny says, ‘Don’t stop her, just take a selfie,’ rather than stop and take pictures all the time, because I’d never get to the end. But it’s funny, all you need to do is get to be 90-something and you get lots of attention.” In June, at age 94, Thompson completed the half marathon at San Diego in 3:42:56, also a record for oldest woman to complete the 13.1-mile distance. “I never thought of myself as an athlete, but I feel like running is just something we all do naturally,” Thompson said.

Note: Explore a collection of concise summaries of news articles on amazing seniors.


How This Fashion Brand Is Bringing Women From Israel And Palestine Together
2018-08-31, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/michellemartin/2018/08/31/how-fashion-is-bringin...

When retired American couple, Dr. Whitman Jones and his wife Paula created The Center for Emerging Futures, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing some of the most difficult situations that humans face, they didn’t realize they would also be launching an innovative fashion brand soon thereafter. After visiting Israel and seeing the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians firsthand, Jones began looking for ways to facilitate peaceful connections that could transcend the conflict. Given the skill sets of women in the region, Jones had the idea to bring Israeli seamstresses and designers together with Palestinian embroiderers to create a high-end fashion collection that could create jobs and highlight talents from both sides of the conflict. The result, Two Neighbors ... is dedicated to bringing today’s opposing cultures in Israel and Palestine together by providing jobs for women and a pathway to collaboration and peace in a very broken society. Many of the women producing the goods, both Palestinian and Israeli, are often undereducated, so the Two Neighbors team equips the women with the tools and training needed to make the business run efficiently. The ultimate goal is for the US partners to exit the company. At the end of the day, Two Neighbors is about creating peace at the ground level through individuals. Their mission is creating beautiful products through a shared humanity and their most significant achievement is the partnership created among team members in Israel and Palestine.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Britain's oldest tandem riders at combined age of 177
2017-11-13, Sunday Express (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/879046/Britain-oldest-tandem-riders-Betty-C...

Britain's’s oldest tandem riders are still pedalling their “bicycle made for two” even though they have a combined age of 177. Betty Cox, 91, and husband Graham, 86, have been riding together ever since they met 70 years ago. The cycling-mad duo have travelled in Scotland, Norway and even completed a 400 mile round trip to Cornwall in just one week. Now fitness fanatic Mrs Cox from South Wales is encouraging others to get active. She said: “We've always loved cycling - and we are always out together. “I've been cycling for 69 years and my husband for 76 years. We started on the tandem soon after we met and have loved it ever since. “In 1949 we cycled from our home to Cornwall and back in a week. We also got to Scotland in a few days. “Graham tends to go on the front and me on the back. We love going on it.” The couple have reached 1,000 miles on their new tandem - after only riding it for six months. Mr Cox said: “We were quite surprised at it. We've never really thought of how many miles we do. I suppose not many people manage to reach that amount at our age. We go out on the tandem four days a week and we must do a lot of miles. Regular exercise, like we do on the tandem, is the key to a long and happy life. Just look at us. By looking at our ages is proof that exercise really does benefit you in the long run.“

Note: Watch a fun two-minute video of this spunky duo. Then explore a collection of concise summaries of news articles on amazing seniors.


Supersized solar farms are sprouting around the world (and maybe in space, too)
2018-08-18, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/supersized-solar-farms-are-sprouting-aro...

Utilities around the world are supersizing their solar farms. Nowhere is that more apparent than in southern Egypt, where what will be the world’s largest solar farm — a vast collection of more than 5 million photovoltaic panels — is now taking shape. When it’s completed next year, the $4 billion Benban solar park near Aswan will cover an area 10 times bigger than New York’s Central Park and generate up to 1.8 gigawatts of electricity. But Benban probably won’t hold on to its title for long. China is planning to build a two-gigawatt solar farm in the northwestern province of Ningxia, and the state of Gujarat in western India recently gave the go-ahead for a five-gigawatt facility. Japan is even talking about putting a large-scale solar farm in space. “There are huge savings for larger projects,” says Benjamin Attia, a solar analyst. A 2017 report from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the cost of photovoltaic systems shrank by a factor of five from 2010 to 2017. Even the punitive tariffs on Chinese solar panels enacted earlier this year by the Trump administration are unlikely to slow the spread of large-scale solar, which in the U.S. is already cheaper and much cleaner than coal. “Governments have wised up,” says Attia. “They just want the cheapest, fastest way to add new electricity supplies. For nuclear, procurement can take a decade. For gas, it’s up to four years. If you’re talking solar and things go smoothly, you can build a reasonably large project in 18 months.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Scotland’s floating turbine smashes tidal renewable energy records
2018-08-22, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/scotland-floating-turbine-tidal-pow...

A floating tidal stream turbine off the coast of Orkney has produced more green energy in a year than Scotland’s entire wave and tidal sector produced in the 12 years before it came online. In 12 months of full-time operation, the SR2000 turbine supplied the equivalent annual power demand of about 830 households. It produced 3GWh of renewable electricity during its first year of testing. Over the 12 years before its launch ... wave and tidal energies across Scotland had collectively produced 2.983GWh. Andrew Scott, chief executive officer of developers Scotrenewables Tidal Power, said: “The SR2000’s phenomenal performance has set a new benchmark for the tidal industry. “Its first year of testing has delivered a performance level approaching that of widely deployed mature renewable technologies.” He added: “The ability to easily access the SR2000 for routine maintenance has been a significant factor in our ability to generate electricity at such levels over the past 12 months, including over winter.” The team ... said their success – combined with Meygen’s generation of more than 8GWh over the past year from four tidal turbines deployed in the Pentland Firth – is evidence that tidal power generation could be rolled out more widely.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A Former Neo-Nazi Explains Why Hate Drew Him In — And How He Got Out
2018-01-18, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2018/01/18/578745514/a-former-neo-nazi-explains-why-hate-...

Christian Picciolini was 14 years old when he attended the first gathering of what would become the Hammerskin Nation, a violent, white-power skinhead group. Picciolini embraced the white supremacist message he heard ... and went on to front a white-power punk band, White American Youth. But after eight years as a neo-Nazi, Picciolini began to question the hateful ideology he espoused. He remembers a specific incident in which he was beating a young black man. His eyes locked with his victim, and he felt a surprising empathy. It was a turning point. He withdrew from the movement and in 2011 co-founded Life After Hate, a nonprofit that counsels members of hate groups and helps them disengage. "Over the last 14 years I have actually helped over 100 people disengage from the same movement that I was a part of," he says. "[Neo-Nazis] know that I'm a danger to them because I understand what they understand — but I also understand the truth." Picciolini's new memoir is called White American Youth. "I started one of America's first white-power bands to both recruit young people, encourage them into acts of violence and speak to the vulnerabilities and the grievances they were feeling so that I could draw them in with promises of paradise," [said Picciolini]. "It brings back a lot of shame, because I know that I put words out into the world that still today are affecting people and hurting people."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This 84-Year-Old Grandmother Is Still Pole Vaulting. What’s Your Excuse?
2018-07-16, Runners World
https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a22160755/pole-vaulting-grandma/

Many people worry that they’ll end up slowing down as they get older. But that doesn’t seem to be concern for 84-year-old Flo Meiler. In fact, this grandmother is just hitting her stride. Meiler, of Shelburne, Vermont, is a regular at the state’s senior games each year. There, she competes in all of the events, from the hurdles to the pole vaulting. Meiler was a late bloomer to track and field. A sales rep for 30 years, she hit the track for the first time at age 60. Five years later, she tried pole vaulting. Why? It simply seemed like fun, she believed. So she bought herself a “How to pole vault” video and essentially taught herself the skills she needed to compete. With roughly 750 medals under her belt so far for her age group and senior games victories, Meiler has no plans of stopping. She wants to continue going after records, many of which she already owns. One notable one is her six-foot pole vaulting clearance when she was 80, a world record. So if you’re ever feeling insecure about your ability to start something new or reach a goal, just think about Meiler: That 84-year-old is still pole vaulting in Vermont. What’s your excuse?

Note: Watch an inspiring 4-minute BBC video on this amazing woman. Then explore a collection of concise summaries of news articles on amazing seniors.


World's 'poorest' ex-president Mujica turns down pension
2018-08-15, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-45195188

Former Uruguayan leader José Mujica, who was dubbed "the world's poorest president" for his modest lifestyle, says he does not want any pension from his time as a senator. Mr Mujica resigned on Tuesday from the post of senator, which he had held since 2015, when his five-year-term as president had ended. He said he would not serve out his term until 2020. The ex-president made his resignation official in a letter to the head of the Senate, Lucía Topolansky, who is also Uruguay's vice-president and Mr Mujica's wife of 13 years. In it he said "the motives [for resigning] are personal, I would call them 'tiredness after a long journey'." His down-to-earth lifestyle and refusal to live in the presidential palace during his time in office [made him] famous. Then and now, he and his wife, who was his life partner and fellow guerrilla fighter long before they married in 2005, live on a modest flower farm on the outskirts of Montevideo. He donated most of his salary as president to charity and the only possession he had when he took office in 2010 was his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle. The light-blue, beat-up Beetle became so famous he was offered $1m (Ł780,000) for it in 2014, but turned the offer down because he said he would have no way of transporting his three-legged dog without it.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Global tree cover has increased 7% since 1982, finds biggest ever study
2018-08-10, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/tree-cover-increase-world-deforesta...

Amid growing urbanisation, deforestation and agricultural expansion, it’s long been thought the number of trees across the planet is being reduced. However, that belief is probably wrong, according to new figures. The biggest ever analysis of global land change has discovered there are more trees across the earth today than there were 36 years ago. The study, published in the journal Nature this month, shows trees now cover 7 per cent more of the earth’s surface – roughly 2.24 million square kilometres – than they did in 1982. “This overall net gain is the result of a net loss in the tropics being outweighed by a net gain in the extratropics,” the report states. The study, led by scientists from the University of Maryland, in the US, analysed 35 years’ worth of satellite data to provide the most comprehensive picture ever made of the changing use of land. Tree loss in the tropics is caused by agricultural expansion, while the new growth areas [are] in regions which were previously too cold to support such flourishing life, suggesting global warming is causing previously unidentified changes to the planet’s landscapes. The study ... states that 60 per cent of all change appears to be directly driven by human activity. Of the remaining 40 per cent, the study suggests, most of the change can be attributed to indirect results of human actions.

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Waiter's 104 a 'Medical Miracle'
1971-06-24, Ogden Standard-Examiner/UPI
https://newspaperarchive.com/ogden-standard-examiner-jun-24-1971-p-1/

Larry Lewis began his 105th year Wednesday with his usual morning regimen — a 6.7 mile run through [San Francisco's] Golden Gate Park. Then he ran an extra mile to the St. Francis Hotel, where he works as a waiter, for celebrating birthday No. 104. Lewis was followed by puffing newsmen, soma a quarter his age, as he trotted the last mile to show them "how to do it." Lewis, a waiter at the St. Francis for 24 years, was reared on the Navajo indian reservation. He said he joined the P.T. Barnum circus at 15, was an assistant to magician Harry Houdini for 33 years, and charged up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War — ahead of Theodore Roosevelt. Lewis, who doesn't have an ounce of fat in the 136 pounds he carries on his 5-foot-9 frame, still works up to 13 hours a day at the hotel. He is considered a medical miracle by this doctor – who pays Lewis to let him examine him. "He has more kinetic energy than most of us have ever known," the doctor said. "Larry did a lot of it himself," the physician said, "but he does not abuse his body by smoking, drinking, or keeping late and irregular hours. [He also] eats the right foods – foods low in low in fat, lots of fruit, and abstained from dessert." Lewis' wife of 19 years Bessie, 73, attended the party that featured what Lewis calls his "fountain of youth," an elixir of fresh mountain valley water. "I drink three gallons of it a day, he said." In addition to his daily runs through Golden Gate Park, Lewis said he also keeps fit with "a little boxing at the Olympic club and some hand ball."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of inspiring seniors news articles. Then explore the excellent resources provided in our Inspiration Center.


Looking for miracles? Here’s one for the ages
2017-09-22, Star-Telegram (A leading newspaper of Dallas-Fort Worth)
https://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/richard-greene/articl...

The real-life story of Dr. Charles Mully is beyond inspirational. This remarkable story unfolds on the big screen. It all happens in the East African country of Kenya. Mully was 6 when he was abandoned by his family. After somehow surviving into young adulthood, he finds his way to Nairobi and a job there. He finds remarkable success. Mully is set for a life of abundance. But he became somehow troubled that such was not his life’s purpose. After leaving his successful company behind, he moves his family back to the place from whence he came. They ... begin rescuing a few of the orphans who, like his own beginnings, spent their days drifting the dirt streets and trying to survive. Soon those few grew to more. When the confines of the villages limited the ongoing expansion of his mission, he moved into the wide-open spaces of the dry and barren East African tundra. There they built their own village but its future was limited by the lack of a water supply. While unable to sleep, Mully gets out of bed in the middle of the night and tells his wife that God is going to show him where water can be found. They proceed down a pathway then veer off ... and put a stake in the ground. Workers in the family start digging with shovels and picks and soon there is water so abundant a bridge is needed to cross the stream that results from the flow. Today they are growing crops in the desert and supplying food enough for the 10,000 members of the world’s largest family and beyond.

Note: Watch the inspiring trailer to the film on this great man.


Public bank that would boost pot shops, affordable housing could go before L.A. voters this fall
2018-06-26, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-public-bank-vote-20180626-story.html

The Los Angeles City Council is preparing to ask voters if they want to create a publicly owned bank, something no city or state in the United States has done in nearly a century. Council members voted Tuesday to start the process of putting a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot that would allow for the creation of such a bank by amending the city charter. The move is an early step in council President Herb Wesson’s plan to create a public bank, which he said could offer accounts to scores of city cannabis businesses that are shunned by commercial banks because of federal drug laws. It also could help finance affordable housing, he said. David Jette, legislative director of advocacy group Public Bank L.A., said putting the issue to a citywide vote could be a make-or-break moment for public banking, an idea that has gained steam since the financial crisis and lately seen an influx of support from the cannabis industry. Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and the state of California are all in the process of studying whether they can or should start public banks, in part to serve cannabis businesses. For now, though, the U.S. has just one public bank: the Bank of North Dakota, established in 1919. “We’re cautiously ecstatic,” Jette said after Tuesday’s vote. “This will be a referendum on the idea of public banking. I think this is an existential vote for our entire national movement.”

Note: The measure was approved and will be on the November ballot for LA voters. For more, see this excellent webpage. Read a revealing article on how the Bank of North Dakota allowed the state to sail through the 2008 financial crisis while all other 49 states suffered. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Organic solar cells set 'remarkable' energy record
2018-08-09, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45132427

Chinese researchers have taken what they say is a major step forward for the development of a new generation of solar cells. Manufacturers have long used silicon to make solar panels because the material was the most efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. But organic photovoltaics, made from carbon and plastic, promise a cheaper way of generating electricity. This new study shows that organics can now be just as efficient as silicon. Organic photovoltaics (OPV) can be made of compounds that are dissolved in ink so they can be printed on thin rolls of plastic, they can bend or curve around structures or even be incorporated into clothing. Commercial solar photovoltaics usually covert 15-22% of sunlight, with a world record for a silicon cell of 27.3% reached in this summer in the UK. Organics have long lingered at around half this rate. In April researchers were able to reach 15% in tests. Now this new study pushes that beyond 17% with the authors saying that up to 25% is possible. This is important because according to estimates, with a 15% efficiency and a 20 year lifetime, organic solar cells could produce electricity at a cost of less than 7 cents per kilowatt-hour. In 2017, the average cost of electricity in the US was 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Flexible, printed solar cells offer a wide range of possibilities. They can work indoors and they can be made semi-transparent, so they could be incorporated into windows and generate power during daylight.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Designing the Death of a Plastic
2018-08-06, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/06/science/plastics-polymers-pollution.html

Most synthetic polymers - Greek for “many parts,” because they are long chains of many identical molecules - were not designed to disintegrate. They were meant to last as long as possible. But synthetic polymers became so popular [that] they’re at the root of the global burden of billions of tons of plastic waste. The environmental effects of plastic buildup and the declining popularity of plastics have helped to spur chemists on a quest to make new materials with two conflicting requirements: They must be durable, but degradable on command. In short, scientists are in search of polymers or plastics with a built-in self-destruct mechanism. The starting point requires picking polymers that are inherently unstable. Dismantling these polymers is sometimes called unzipping them, because once the polymers encounter a trigger ... their units fall off one after another until the polymers have completely switched back to small molecules. “We can have a big change in properties or complete degradation of the polymer just from one event,” says Elizabeth Gillies, a polymer chemist. On-demand, rapid disintegration gives unzipping polymers an edge ... she says, as biodegradation is often slow and difficult to control. These next-generation polymers could help mitigate pollution problems associated with plastic products. If the units were collected after unzipping to make new polymers, that would lead to chemical recycling. Most recycling done today simply involves melting the plastic and remolding it.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


We’re drowning in trash. These Dutch scientists have a solution.
2018-08-02, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/08/02/biomass/?nored...

The sprawling, gated campus of the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) sits on a spit of land about an hour north of Amsterdam. In a nearby control room, engineers ... were working on one of clean energy’s intransigent problems: how to turn waste into electricity without producing more waste. Decades ago, scientists discovered that when heated to extreme temperatures, wood and agricultural leftovers, as well as plastic and textile waste, turn into a gas composed of underlying chemical components. The resulting synthetic gas, or “syngas,” can be harnessed as a power source, generating heat or electricity. But gasified waste has serious shortcomings: it contains tars, which clog engines and disrupt catalysts, breaking machinery, and in turn, lowering efficiency and raising costs. This is what the Dutch technology is designed to fix. The MILENA-OLGA system, as they call it, is a revolutionary carbon-neutral energy plant that turns waste into electricity with little or no harmful byproducts. The MILENA-OLGA process ... is 11 percent more efficient than most existing energy-from-waste plants and over 50 percent more efficient than incinerators of a comparable scale. The process also emits zero wastewater and produces no particulates or other pollutants. Just 4 percent of the original material is left over as inert white ash, which can be used to make cement.

Note: A similar technology was developed and implemented over 10 years ago, as detailed in this Popular Science article. Why wasn't this amazing invention widely reported and used? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Freshest Ideas Are in Small Grocery Stores
2018-07-31, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/31/dining/grocery-store.html

In New Prague, Minn., population around 7,600, Kendra and Paul Rasmusson [opened a grocery] store that is largely unstaffed. The couple’s young daughter has epilepsy, and they discovered early on that a healthy diet could help her feel better. They couldn’t find enough local, organic items at the big-box store close to town. So ... they opened Farmhouse Market. The numbers wouldn’t work if they were to run it in a traditional way. Inspired by a nearby 24-hour fitness center, they had an idea: Why not create a store that didn’t need staff, for shoppers who wanted organic [food] from local farmers? Members pay $99 a year and use a key card to open the door. They can shop anytime they want. Local farmers, beekeepers and other suppliers have cards, too, so they can restock their supplies at midnight if they want. In Baltimore, the Salvation Army market is tackling an urban version of the grocery-store drought. The DMG Foods was built in the front of a Salvation Army distribution center in a neighborhood where families in public housing mix with Johns Hopkins students and older people who grew up there. The cheery store, whose name is an abbreviation of the organization’s motto, Doing the Most Good, feels a little bit like what Amazon would ship if you typed “grocery store” into the search bar. And in a way, that’s what [founder Maj. Gene]. Hogg did. “We didn’t do this to make money selling groceries,” Mr. Hogg said. “We did this so people could have a neighborhood grocery store with fresh food.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Europe keeps setting clean-energy records
2018-07-14, Quartz
https://qz.com/1328344/renewable-energy-europe-keeps-setting-new-records-and-...

This week, two of the biggest economies in Europe set new records for clean energy. The UK’s electrical grid has not burned any coal for about 1,000 hours so far this year. Though it’s just a symbolic achievement, the pace at which the UK is reaching such figures shows the pace of the energy transition. In 2016 and 2017, the comparable figures for the full year stood at 210 hours and 624 hours, respectively. There are two reasons for the shift: a carbon tax on coal has made cleaner natural gas more attractive, and subsidies for solar and wind power have ensured wider deployment of new clean-energy technologies. Germany’s case has been slightly different. Though it began pushing for renewable energy much earlier than the UK, its gains have been slower. The coal lobby in Germany is a lot stronger than in the UK. But as the costs of renewable energy have come down, change is finally showing. In 2018 so far, coal generated about 35.1% of the country’s electricity. In comparison, renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and biomass, generated about 36.5%. At the half-year mark, it’s the first time in Germany’s history that renewables sources have generated more electricity than coal. Such records and falling renewable costs have made it easier for the EU to set more ambitious clean-energy goals. Last month, the bloc’s member nations agreed that each country must get 32% of all its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Sweden to reach its 2030 renewable energy target by the end of 2018
2018-08-01, ZMEscience
https://www.zmescience.com/ecology/renewable-energy-ecology/sweden-renewable-...

While most countries are struggling to reach their renewable energy targets, others are breezing past them. Thanks to both its geography and impactful policies, Sweden is set to achieve its 2030 goals in mere months. In 2012, years before the Paris Agreement, Norway and Sweden signed a joint agreement to increase production of electricity from renewables by 28.4 terawatt hours within eight years. It only took a few years for Sweden to realize it was ahead of schedule, and in 2017, it increased its target, aiming to add another 18 TWh by 2030. Lo and behold, once more, Sweden is moving much faster than anticipated and now there’s a good chance it will reach the 2030 goal in mere months — maybe even by the end of the year. Wind energy is one of the main drivers propelling Sweden’s renewable targets forward. According to the World Economic Forum ... there will be 3,681 turbines functioning in the country by the end of the year. But this is only the start of the road for Sweden. Sweden already has a cross-party agreement to achieve 100% renewable energy production by 2040, and the figure is already hovering around 57%. The country has also set a target of net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2045. According to the Paris Agreement, all EU countries have agreed to achieve 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dying Organs Restored to Life in Novel Experiments
2018-07-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/10/health/mitochondria-transplant-heart-attac...

Mitochondria are tiny organelles that fuel the operation of the cell. A series of experiments has found that fresh mitochondria can revive flagging cells and enable them to quickly recover. In animal studies ... mitochondrial transplants revived heart muscle that was stunned from a heart attack. Infusions of mitochondria also prolonged the time organs could be stored before they were used for transplants, and even ameliorated brain damage that occurred soon after a stroke. In ... human tests, mitochondrial transplants appear to revive and restore heart muscle in infants that was injured in operations to repair congenital heart defects. The idea for mitochondrial transplants was born of serendipity. Dr. Emani is a pediatric surgeon. Dr. McCully is a scientist who studies adult hearts. Both were wrestling with ... how to fix hearts that had been deprived of oxygen during surgery or a heart attack. One day, [Dr. McCully] decided simply to pull some mitochondria from healthy [pig] cells and inject them into the injured cells. To his surprise, the mitochondria moved like magnets to the proper places in the cells and began supplying energy. The pig hearts recovered. Meanwhile, Dr. Emani was struggling with the same heart injuries in his work with babies. [When] the two researchers met, “it was almost an ‘aha’ moment,” Dr. Emani said. The scientists have now treated 11 babies with mitochondria. All of the more recent patients survived and are doing well.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A 4-Day Workweek? A Test Run Shows a Surprising Result
2018-07-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/world/asia/four-day-workweek-new-zealand.html

A New Zealand firm that let its employees work four days a week while being paid for five says the experiment was so successful that it hoped to make the change permanent. The firm, Perpetual Guardian, which manages trusts, wills and estates, found the change actually boosted productivity among its 240 employees, who said they spent more time with their families, exercising, cooking, and working in their gardens. Similar experiments in other countries have tested the concept of reducing work hours as a way of improving individual productivity. In Sweden, a trial in the city of Gothenburg mandated a six-hour day, and officials found employees completed the same amount of work or even more. In Perpetual Guardian’s case, workers said the change motivated them to find ways of increasing their productivity while in the office. Meetings were reduced from two hours to 30 minutes, and employees created signals for their colleagues that they needed time to work without distraction. “They worked out where they were wasting time and worked smarter,” [Jarrod Haar, a human resources professor] said. Andrew Barnes, the company’s founder ... said he came up with the idea for a four-day workweek after reading a report that suggested people spent less than three hours of their work day productively employed, and another that said distractions at work could have effects on staff akin to losing a night’s sleep.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Africa might leapfrog straight to cheap renewable electricity and minigrids
2017-11-09, The Economist
http://discovery.economist.com/worldcup/africa-might-leapfrog-straight-to-che...

Of all the measures of the continent’s poverty, few are starker than that about two-thirds of its people have no access to reliable electricity. But thanks to a happy combination of innovation and falling costs for renewable energy, Africa may now be able to leapfrog ahead not once but twice, skipping both polluting fossil fuels and, often, the electricity grid itself. This is partly due to falling costs: the price of solar panels has come down by more than 80% since 2010, and that of wind turbines is also dropping fast. Yet generating power is useful only if it can be sent to where it is needed, and in many parts of Africa electricity grids seldom stretch beyond big cities. [A] set of innovations is offering to sidestep this problem with mini rooftop solar installations that can power a home, or slightly larger “micro-grids” that can light up a village. Rooftop solar systems usually consist of a small solar panel and a small rechargeable battery and controller which typically powers ... lights, a radio and a phone charger. Most systems have a built-in connection to the mobile-phone network that allows the provider to switch it on or off remotely. Instead of shelling out $250 or so upfront for an entire system, customers can buy electricity for the equivalent of 50 cents a day using mobile money. Thanks to this new “paygo” model, venture capital is pouring into an industry that now has at least half a dozen significant firms. The largest of them, M-Kopa, has electrified more than 500,000 homes and is adding almost 200,000 more a year.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


These college students moonlight as ‘grandkids’ for hire. Seniors love it.
2018-06-20, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2018/06/20/these-college...

When Andrew Parker’s grandfather began suffering from dementia three years ago, his grandmother had to start taking care of the house and caring for him. It was hard work, and one day, Parker got the idea to hire a college student to help out. His grandfather loved it. So did his grandmother. For a few hours, he said, “She got to go do her own thing.” It got Parker thinking. “There’s so many seniors and so many college students out there.” So in January, [he] launched a business called Papa, after his name for his grandfather. It connects students with seniors for light housekeeping or driving chores, but the company’s real goal is in its slogan: “Grandkids on-Demand.” “We are specifically a service that links two generations,” Parker said. “Our emphasis is this is a really fun day for a senior. Someone who might say, ‘I don’t want to bother my daughter or son but I want someone who can be with me for a day so I don’t have to annoy my kids.’” To date, the company has around 250 members who pay a monthly fee of $15 to $30 to belong, and then pay $15 per hour for visits by students, or Papa Pals. Pals must be enrolled in a 4-year college, or be working on a masters degree, a social work degree, or a nursing or medical degree. They must have a four-door car and pass a background check. “The biggest thing we’re focusing on is curing loneliness,” Parker said. The ... nature of the relationship – and the relative youth of the Pals – can also make them easier to work with than more traditional aides.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Two years after Philando Castile’s death, programs aim to transform relations between police, residents
2018-07-07, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/two-years-after-philando-castiles-dea...

An African American family of six sits inside the Nissan Quest in this first-ring suburb of St. Paul. The car tells a story of poverty: Plastic covers a broken window; rust lines the wheel wells. Officer Erin Reski pulled the vehicle over for a burned-out taillight, a problem similar to the one that led an officer to stop Philando Castile in the Twin Cities two years ago. That incident ... ended with Castile fatally shot. This situation ends very differently. Reski walks back to the minivan ... hands over a sheet of paper and offers a brief explanation. The response is swift and emphatic. “Oh, thank you!” the driver says. Scenes like this have been taking place across the Twin Cities thanks to the Lights On program, believed to be the first of its kind in the country. Instead of writing tickets for minor equipment problems, police officers are authorized to issue $50 coupons so motorists can have those problems fixed at area auto shops. Twenty participating police departments have given out approximately 660 coupons in a little more than a year. For motorists such as Sandy Patterson, another African American resident who was pulled over for a burned-out headlight in January, the small gesture of being offered a coupon makes a big difference. “I was relieved that I was getting a voucher to purchase a service that could’ve been quite expensive,” she said. “I had an overwhelming feeling of decreased anxiety because of the whole way the communication went, with somebody helping out versus giving a ticket.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Trying to Cut Crime in Public Housing by Making It More Livable
2018-07-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/10/opinion/new-york-crime-public-housing.html

New York City is the safest big city in the nation. The city is betting it can [get even safer]. The Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety is being employed in 15 of the most dangerous public housing complexes in the city. The idea is to lower crime by making these neighborhoods better - places where residents live in well-maintained buildings, have necessary services, are engaged in civic life and can collaborate to solve problems. Working elevators, summer jobs for teenagers, community centers open till midnight, residents who know what to do when the trash piles up - no one would doubt that these are good things. But it seems a stretch to call them crime prevention measures. Will people really commit fewer robberies and shootings if the trash gets picked up? Crime has dropped more in the 15 complexes involved in the plan than in other public housing. Why? It might be this: Crime is in part a function of trust. “Trust is the heartbeat of civic life,” said Elizabeth Glazer, head of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. “These neighborhoods feel completely estranged.” Perhaps more important ... is what social scientists call “collective efficacy” - achieved when neighbors feel that they can trust and rely on one another and work together to get things done. Collective efficacy is so important that the lack of it - common in disadvantaged neighborhoods - is most of the reason poor communities have more crime. When they build collective efficacy, even without other changes, crime drops.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Here's how patients say they reversed early Alzheimer's symptoms
2018-07-16, ABC News
http://abc7news.com/health/heres-how-patients-say-they-reversed-early-alzheim...

Two prominent California doctors, with bestselling books, insist we have the power to heal our own brains from diseases. They say it should start when we're young and begin with a look at the way we eat. Two women we spoke with who followed that advice say ... they reversed their early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease by making food and lifestyle changes based on research by neuroscientist Dr. Dale Bredesen. He wrote a book called "The End of Alzheimer's." "Two years ago, I scored mildly cognitively impaired on a cognitive assessment test," said Dr. Sally Weinrich. "Most recently, I scored perfect!" Weinrich, a former cancer researcher and grandmother, followed the Bredesen protocol for several months and is able to cook once again for her large family, pick up the grandkids from school and she's learning Spanish. Deborah, a very active mother of four and a lawyer, says, "Over a period of four to six months, the symptoms I was experiencing all reversed and I returned to my cognitive functioning that had been my norm when I was younger." She was able to recover her ability to sight-read notes when she plays the piano. Adda, an active 51-year-old grandmother, [said] that she improved her ability to think clearly and she lost almost 80 pounds after making dramatic food and lifestyle changes ... after she started working for cardiologist Dr. Steven Gundry nearly six years ago. He wrote a book called "The Plant Paradox."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


China reassigns 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in bid to fight pollution
2018-02-13, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-tree-plant-soldiers-reass...

China has reportedly reassigned over 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in a bid to combat pollution by increasing the country's forest coverage. A large regiment from the People's Liberation Army, along with some of the nation's armed police force, have been withdrawn from their posts on the northern border to work on non-military tasks inland. The majority will be dispatched to Hebei province, which encircles Beijing, according to the Asia Times. The area is known to be a major culprit for producing the notorious smog which blankets the capital city. The idea is believed to be popular among members of online military forums as long as they can keep their ranks and entitlements. It comes as part of China's plan to plant at least 84,000 square kilometres (32,400 square miles) of trees by the end of the year, which is roughly equivalent to the size of Ireland. The aim is to increase the country's forest coverage from 21 per cent of its total landmass to 23 per cent by 2020. Zhang Jianlong, head of China's State Forestry Administration, said by 2035 the figure could reach as high as 26 per cent."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Homegirl Cafe Offers 'Platos' by Ex-Gang Members With Hope
2018-07-17, US News and World Report/Associated Press
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/california/articles/2018-07-17/homegi...

Homegirl Cafe, a Los Angeles breakfast and lunch spot with a Latino twist, offers a unique dining experience prepared by former gang members. The popular cafe in the city's Chinatown allows visitors to relish carefully crafted meals while getting inspired by former inmates who willingly retell their stories about seeking a better life. The cafe is an offshoot of the Homeboy Industries social enterprises founded by Jesuit priest Greg Boyle to give former gang members job training and social services. Trainees learn all aspects of culinary arts while developing new social prowess that gives visitors a tender encounter. Plates like chilaquiles — fresh crisp tortilla chips tossed with warm tomatillo salsa, egg, crema fresca, and queso cotija — are made from ingredients that come straight from urban farms.

Note: Read more about Homeboy Industries' success in providing former gang members with a path to a better life. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Twelve-year-old launches teddy bear charity from his bedroom
2016-05-29, ABC (Australia's public broadcasting system)
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-30/campbell-project-365-sees-teddy-bears-m...

Campbell Remess is not like most 12-year-olds. For the last three years, Campbell has spent all of his free time sewing teddy bears for charity. "I do comfort bears, which are for parents if their kids are in hospital having a hard time," he said. "I do overseas bears, like for terrorists attacks. I sent one over to Paris when the people got hurt, and I'm sending some over to Brussels too." This charitable obsession started when Campbell decided he wanted to give Christmas presents to children in hospital. "He asked if we could buy presents for children in hospital and I said 'No way, dude'," Sonya Whittaker, Campbell's mum, said. She told Campbell that with nine children of their own, buying presents for sick kids would just cost too much. "He said 'No worries, I'll make them then'," she said. "He came down with this funky looking teddy bear that he'd made ... it was incredible," Ms Whittaker said. "He's just sewn and sewn since then." Campbell has pushed himself for the past two years to create a teddy bear a day. Ms Whittaker has since set up a Facebook group called Project 365 by Campbell to track her son's progress. One of the group's members, Kat, was recently inspired to help Campbell. "I sent his mum a message one night to ask if he needed fabric," Kat said. "She came back with a definite no, but [said] what he did need was storage space. "I set up a [online fundraiser, and] we reached $1,000 in 36 hours." Kat used the money to buy Campbell a work bench and storage space to hold all the donated fabric he has.

Note: Campbell expanded his caring work to kids who suffer bullying. For more inspiring young heroes, see this CNN article.


A third of start-ups aim for social good
2018-06-14, Financial Times
https://www.ft.com/content/d8b6d9fa-4eb8-11e8-ac41-759eee1efb74

Across the world, almost half as many people are creating ventures with a primarily social or environmental purpose as those with a solely commercial aim, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. The movement is driven mainly by younger entrepreneurs and its growth has taken place against a backdrop of corporate scandals in mainstream businesses ... that have brought capitalism’s values into question. “Social entrepreneurship has gone mainstream and global,” argues Peter Drobac, a doctor who created healthcare ventures in Rwanda. Dr Drobac ... was inspired to get into the field 20 years ago when HIV infection was running unchecked. “Younger generations in my experience are much more deeply connected to the world and to societal challenges. They want careers that allow them to create positive change,” he says. Other factors, Dr Drobac adds, include the changing nature of work, “which means that the prospect of spending one’s entire career in the same company is becoming vanishingly small”. At the same time, technology is creating opportunities for disruptive innovation in sectors such as education and healthcare. While research suggests the majority of social entrepreneurs worldwide are young, the movement has been inspired by figures such as Muhammad Yunus. The septuagenarian Bangladeshi founder of Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for pioneering microcredit — loans for entrepreneurs too poor to get traditional bank loans, many of them women.

Note: Read more about the microcredit movement mentioned in the article above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Ireland becomes first country in world to pull money from fossil fuels
2018-07-12, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ireland-stop-fossil-fuel-mone...

Ireland will become the first country in the world to fully divest from fossil fuels after politicians voted to withdraw all public funds from oil and gas companies. In an effort to meet the country's climate change commitments, as embodied in the Paris agreement, the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill will probably be brought into force after parliament's summer recess. First introduced by independent MP Thomas Pringle in 2016, the bill has since been backed by all opposition parties. Taking inspiration from universities and cities around the world that have withdrawn financial support from the fossil fuel industry, Mr Pringle began working on the idea after meeting Irish international development charity Trocaire. The passing of the bill will compel the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to sell off its fossil fuel investments, which stand at more than €300m (Ł265m) across 150 companies worldwide. Mr Pringle said the withdrawal of this money will not only remove funds from some of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, it will act as a gesture of Ireland’s commitment to tackling climate change. Eamonn Meehan, executive director of Trocaire, agreed that the bill made a “powerful statement” that would serve to improve the nation’s reputation as a “climate laggard”.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Inventing New Ways to Solve Old Problems
2018-05-24, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/24/business/inventing-new-ways-to-solve-old-p...

While many people wring their hands over the amount of plastic waste, Miranda Wang aims to reduce the mess. Ms. Wang, 24, is a co-founder and chief executive of BioCellection, a start-up that is tackling hard-to-recycle plastic packaging, focusing initially on plastic-film waste. Using a novel reaction system that employs a liquid chemical catalyst, BioCellection turns unrecyclable, contaminated film waste into chemicals that can be used by consumers and industry. Later this year, BioCellection will start a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area to build its first commercial machine, which can process five metric tons of waste a day. Many borrowers with poor credit scores ... can’t qualify for an affordable small loan. Jeff Zhou is offering an answer, in the form of Fig Loans. The lender’s goal is to offer an alternative to pricey payday loans that strapped consumers turn to when they have an unexpected financial emergency and have no other option. “We want to offer socially responsible financial products for people who are under banked,” he said. Customers can apply online for a loan from Fig, which makes lending decisions based on bank statements, taking into account expenses like rent, utilities and spending, Mr. Zhou said. Loans are $300 to $500 and, depending on the state, are repaid in four or six equal monthly installments — unlike payday loans, which typically must be repaid in two weeks.

Note: Read about more inventive solutions to common problems at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Parents' record-breaking Facebook fundraiser will help reunify migrant families
2018-06-21, NBC Today
https://www.today.com/parents/facebook-fundraiser-immigrant-kids-raises-9-mil...

A record-breaking fundraiser started by Dave and Charlotte Willner to help families separated at the border continues exceeding all expectations. While President Trump signed an executive order to halt his policy of breaking up families, the Willners said some of the $16 million raised will help a nonprofit to return children to their families. The additional money raised by the Willners will help Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) provide lawyers to immigrants as well as reunite families. The Willners said RAICES has unified three families already. The fundraiser first started after the Willners saw the photo of a 2-year-old Honduran girl crying at the border and they thought immediately of their own 2-year-old daughter. They felt they had to act so they started a fundraiser on Facebook, hoping to raise $1,500 for RAICES. It soon became clear this was no ordinary fundraiser. At one point, people were donating between $2,000 and $4,000 a minute, the family shared. The average donation is $38. As the fundraiser neared $5 million dollars, Facebook updated its platform so that the family could continue raising money. The Willners were among Facebook's first employees, and now both work at different tech companies in Silicon Valley. They raised more than $16 million in five days for the RAICES, and the Willners reset their goal to $20 million.

Note: The donations continue to pour in and now exceed $20 million. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A chemical breakthrough could eat the plastic pollution crisis
2018-07-01, Wired
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/plastic-pollution-environment-chemical-process

One single-use plastic bag takes at least 450 years to degrade. Give Miranda Wang three hours and she can reduce ten of them into liquid. Recycling plastic today is a mechanical process ... limited to only certain types of plastics: PET, used in water bottles, and HDPE, used in milk jugs. The five other types of commonly used plastics ... cannot be recycled. Adding to this is that most plastics thrown away are covered in food and grease and so are automatically rejected by markets with strict quality standards. These are the plastics Wang has her sights on. “Our technology can turn these dirty films that have food or dirt or any kind of grime or any kind of contamination on it and we turn this material into a combination of four different kinds of chemicals, called organic acids,” says Wang. One of these chemicals is adipic acid, a precursor for materials like nylon and polyamines used in fashion, for electronic parts and in the automotive industry for car parts. “Our vision is to transform a polyethylene, which right now does not have any downstream market value once its consumed and is used for one life cycle, and we turn it into a chemical that is of the same quality as what is immediately made from petroleum - adipic acid,” says Wang. “This first helps us not allow film plastics from becoming pollution and second ... displaces petroleum from being needed to be extracted to make new materials.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Google Bought Enough Clean Power for Whole Company and Then Some
2018-04-04, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-04/google-bought-enough-clean...

Google has more clean power than it needs. The Alphabet Inc. unit used about 7 terawatt-hours of electricity to run all of its global operations last year, and it sourced even more than that, according to Neha Palmer, its head of energy strategy. Corporate buyers are major purchasers of wind and solar power. While part of the motivation is to advance sustainability goals, they’re also finding that clean energy is often the cheapest electricity available. Big technology companies have been leading this trend, and Google has been the biggest of them all. “Our electric consumption is the largest part of our carbon footprint,” Palmer said in a phone interview. “The renewable-energy program we have is the best way to mitigate our carbon impact.” Companies signed long-term agreements for a record 5.4 gigawatts of clean capacity globally last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, up from 4.3 gigawatts in 2016. That’s enough to displace at least 10 coal-fired power plants. Google signed its first clean power-purchase agreement in 2010, and since then it’s arranged about 25 more, prompting more than $3 billion in new clean-power plants. Google has agreed to buy ... more than double that of Amazon.com Inc., the next biggest green consumer. “It’s a significant investment, leading to lots of new renewables projects,” Kyle Harrison, a New York-based analyst ... said. “It’s a long-term bet on clean energy, a hedge against wholesale prices.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Google cleared a path for companies to buy clean power
2018-07-02, Fast Company
https://www.fastcompany.com/40584636/how-google-is-clearing-a-path-for-compan...

In southeast Georgia, in an area filled with farms, construction will soon begin on a sprawling new 120-megawatt solar plant. It will be the first solar facility in the county, and it will exist in part because Google - which has a large data center in Georgia - is working to bring renewable electricity to every region in which it operates. The solar farm is one of two new projects in Georgia that will sell energy to Google via the local utility, and is also the latest example of the company’s work to open energy markets to corporations that want to support new sources of renewable electricity. The company pioneered the practice in 2010; now, companies from Nike to Starbucks and AT&T are doing the same thing. Traditionally, wind farms and solar farms sold wholesale power only to utilities, and regulations made it impossible for companies to buy that clean energy. But the company realized that it could apply to the federal government for the right to buy and sell wholesale power itself, and then create long-term contracts - called power purchase agreements - with the developers of renewable projects. The first project was a wind farm in Iowa. By 2017, with around 20 similar projects, Google met a longstanding goal to buy as much renewable energy as it uses globally, sourced from new wind and solar plants. Ultimately, the company wants to use clean energy everywhere it works, all the time. The next step in that process is to buy renewable energy on every local grid where Google works.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A Growing Drive to Get Homelessness to Zero
2018-06-05, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/05/opinion/homelessness-built-for-zero.html

Over the past three years, nine communities in the United States have reached a rigorous standard known as “functional zero” for either veteran or chronic homelessness - a standard that indicates that homelessness is rare and much briefer than in the past for their populations - and 37 others have accomplished measurable reductions toward that goal. What’s illuminating is how they’re doing it: by making whole systems smarter. They are linking in a national network ... to improve their performance. Rockford, Ill., was the first community in the United States to reach the functional zero level for veterans. “We get everybody in our community who works on the issue ... and we bring them into a room,” [said Jennifer Jaeger, the city’s community services director]. “So if we’re working on veterans, we’ll have the V.A., the local veteran agencies, mental health agencies and substance abuse agencies. We’ll sit down with the list and say: ‘O.K., John Smith is No. 1. Who’s working with him? How do we get him housed as fast as we can?’ And we go literally name by name. It makes a huge difference because they stop being ‘the homeless’ and become people we all know. And we become very vested in making sure John Smith is housed and safe and has the services he needs.” Successes get turned into mini case studies and are logged in Built for Zero’s menu of strategies. So if a community partner wants to know how to do effective street outreach or improve housing retention ... there’s an inventory of proven ideas to draw from.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Charitable giving is at a record high. Here’s where we’re donating our money
2018-06-12, USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2018/06/12/charity-charitable...

Charitable giving surged to a record high in 2017 as Americans gave more than $400 billion for the first time ever to a wide variety of organizations. Giving jumped 5.2% from last year to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, according to Giving USA 2018, the Giving USA Foundation’s annual report on philanthropy. The report, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, found that giving from all sources grew in 2017. Three of the four sources posted gains of more than 5%: Giving by corporations increased 8%, foundations 6% and individuals 5%. "The increase in giving in 2017 was generated in part by increases in the stock markets, as evidenced by the nearly 20% growth in the S&P 500," said Amir Pasic, dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Gifts to foundations saw the biggest increase in 2017, rising 15.5%, as large investment returns were the basis for several large gifts given by individual philanthropists to their foundations. The second-largest increase was an 8.7% jump in gifts to the arts, culture and humanities. Religious organizations, however, continue to receive the most charitable support, with contributions rising 2.9% to $127.37 billion. While the overall amount of giving by Americans has risen ... The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that from 2000 to 2014, the share of Americans donating to charity fell from 66.2% to 55.5%. Many nonprofits have turned their focus to attracting more big gifts.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language, has died
2018-06-21, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/21/health/koko-gorilla-death-trnd/index.html

Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language and showed the world what great apes can do, has died. She died Tuesday in her sleep at age 46. "Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy," the [The Gorilla Foundation] said. The western lowland gorilla was born at the San Francisco Zoo in 1971 and began to learn sign language early in life. Researchers moved her to Stanford in 1974 and established The Gorilla Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to preserve and protect gorillas. Koko and The Gorilla Foundation later moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains. She liked to read and be read to. She purred at parts of books she particularly enjoyed. She was very maternal toward kittens, and has had several throughout her lifetime. Her "tenderness" showed people how loving a gorilla can be, the foundation said. Koko made famous friends like Fred Rogers, who appeared on TV as Mr. Rogers, and Robin Williams. She used her sign language skills to communicate with them. She was said to have understood some 2,000 words of spoken English, and could usually keep up with conversations. Koko appeared in several documentaries and twice on the cover of National Geographic. The first cover featured a photo she'd taken of herself in a mirror. The foundation will continue its work on conservation and preservation of gorillas with continued projects, including a sign language application featuring Koko.

Note: Don't miss touching video of Koko the gorilla available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


From Many Corners, Journalism Seeking Solutions
2016-12-13, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/opinion/from-many-corners-journalism-seeki...

If you follow the news regularly - even if the stories you see are factual - you’re likely to overestimate the amount of violence in the world, underrate the performance of the government, and develop an unduly low opinion of the average American. For every problem you see reported in the news, there are almost always people responding - and some are doing pretty smart things. One encouraging pattern visible across the country is a gradual shift from reflexive punishment, which is usually counterproductive ... to harm reduction and treatment. This theme is explored in “Chasing Heroin,” a two-hour PBS Frontline documentary ... which illuminates the country’s heroin crisis. The film explains the public policies that shaped the crisis and reports on some alternatives to punishment, including drug courts, and a promising initiative in Seattle, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, which ... has been shown to markedly reduce criminality among addicts. The shift away from punishment can also be seen in schools, as they reduce the use of suspensions as the go-to discipline option, and turn to “restorative justice” practices, which have been shown to improve school cultures and improve graduation rates. The shift from punishment to treatment is supported by emerging insights from psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics. “The Crisis Within,” a four-part series ... explain how such “toxic stress” harms children, and explore ways that parents, educators and others can protect them.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The good news is … people like to read good news
2018-02-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/12/but-first-here-is-the-good-news-

Strange thing happens when you write about something going right. People take notice. They read to the end. They share it with their friends. They write to thank you. Eighteen months ago, the Guardian launched a pilot project to see how readers would respond if we deliberately sought out the good things happening in the world. More than 150 pieces of journalism later – in which we have examined the relative merits of everything from dog turds to ketamine, the blockchain to microhouses, and gardening to exoskeletons – we have proof of concept. Reader numbers for this kind of journalism have proven remarkably robust throughout the project. While audiences have always been riveted by bad news (it serves as both an early warning system and a reassurance about the comfort of their own lives), they are tired of the avalanche of awfulness. They are switching off. If people just shrug at news because they feel there is little they can do, nothing will change. Journalists in the US, Europe and the UK are waking up to this by publishing what is variously described as constructive journalism, solutions journalism or, somewhat misleadingly, positive news. Now the Guardian is deepening its commitment to this type of work. Our new series, The Upside, launched this week with [a] determination to show readers all of humanity, not just the bad bits. As our editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, promised in a speech ... recently, “we will develop ideas that help improve the world, not just critique it.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Marc Benioff of Salesforce: ‘Are We Not All Connected?’
2018-06-15, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/business/marc-benioff-salesforce-corner-of...

Salesforce may not be a household name like Facebook or Twitter, but the software company and its chief executive, Marc Benioff, are hugely influential. Salesforce is worth roughly $100 billion, and Mr. Benioff is a billionaire many times over. Success has emboldened him. A fan of Buddhism, Mr. Benioff has installed meditation rooms throughout Salesforce offices and emerged as an outspoken voice on social issues including L.G.B.T.Q. rights, the gender pay gap and the deleterious effects of social media. "There’s a shift going on," [said Benioff]. "When I went to U.S.C., it was all about maximizing value for shareholders. But we’re moving into a world of stakeholders. It’s not just about shareholders. Your employees are stakeholders, so are your customers, your partners, the communities that you’re in, the homeless that are nearby, your public schools. A company like ours can’t be successful in an unsuccessful economy or in an unsuccessful environment or where the school system doesn’t work. We have to take responsibility for all of those things." This idea that somebody put into our heads — that companies are somehow these kind of individuated units that are separate from society and don’t have to be paying attention to the communities they’re in — that is incorrect. We need to have a more enlightened view about the role of companies. This company is not somehow separate from everything else. Are we not all connected? Are we not all one? Isn’t that the point?"

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How big brands are trying to pull off a recycling revolution
2018-06-11, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/11/news/companies/recycling-revolution/

Coca-Cola said in January that by 2030, it will collect and recycle one bottle or can for each one it sells. Dunkin' Donuts said it will try to stop using foam cups by 2020. Several others, including McDonald's and Procter & Gamble, have made their own ambitious commitments to use sustainable packaging. Recycling can give companies better control over their supply chains, explained Bridget Croke, who leads external affairs for Closed Loop Partners, which invests in recycling technologies. Recycled materials aren't always cheaper than raw materials, she said, but their prices are consistent. There are other advantages to going green. Kevin Wilhelm, who runs a sustainability consulting firm, said that companies typically make recycling pledges because they've found that waste hurts their bottom line. The Closed Loop Fund and the Recycling Partnership, [a nonprofit group], count several major corporations as their funding partners, including Amazon, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Target, Walmart (WMT) and others. Croke said that at this stage, companies are better served by joining forces than by trying to work separately. "Smart companies," she said, are trying to figure out, "'What are the disruptive collective actions we can take to make the most out of our resources?'" Working together, companies can pour significant funds into development projects and create collective demand for sustainable products, like recyclable, compostable paper cups.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


McDonald's to scrap plastic straws in UK and Ireland
2018-06-15, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/15/news/mcdonalds-plastic-straws/index.html

McDonald's has joined the fight against plastic pollution by switching to paper straws at its restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The change, which will begin to take effect in September, follows trials of paper straws at select locations. The US fast food chain said a majority of its customers supported the move away from plastic. McDonald's ... uses 1.8 million straws each day at its 1,361 restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The company said the changeover would be complete in 2019. Plastic straws are the sixth most common type of litter globally. Only 1% are recycled. According to the UK government, 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die every year from eating or getting tangled in plastic waste. And research shows there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world's oceans by 2050. UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove called on other companies to follow the example of McDonald's. "McDonald's has made a significant investment in UK manufacturing to produce an alternative to plastic, showing British businesses are taking a global lead," he said in a statement. The flurry of commitments comes as efforts to eliminate single-use plastic intensify. The European Union moved last month to ban 10 items - including plastic cutlery, straws and cotton swabs - by 2030 in a bid to clean up the oceans.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


World's Oldest Yoga Teacher Shares Her Tips for a Long, Happy Life
2018-05-22, People
https://people.com/health/tao-porchon-lynch-oldest-yoga-teacher-shares-her-be...

Tao Porchon-Lynch is 99 years old, and she’s still practices – and teaches! – yoga regularly. So what’s her secret to staying happy and active? “Every morning I wake up and say this is going to be the best day of my life – and it is,” Porchon-Lynch tells Well and Good. “My life is my meditation.” Porchon-Lynch abides by three simple tips to stay upbeat. The first is to not get fixated on bad things that may or may not happen. “Your mind gets in the way. It plagues you with all of the things that can go wrong,” she says. “I don’t let it get in my way.” Secondly, she says to stop judging others. “Don’t look down on anyone,” she says. “Know that you can learn from everyone.” Finally, Porchon-Lynch says to begin each day feeling happy. “Wake up with a smile on your face!” Porchon-Lynch has been practicing yoga for over 70 years, and has been teaching it for 45. She encourages people of all ages to try yoga, and says it’s never too late to start. “Don’t give up and think, ‘I’ve done it. Now I can sit back,’ ” she [said]. “You haven’t seen enough of this earth and there is a lot more to see that is beautiful.“

Note: For more on this amazing woman, see this Newsweek article.


Shell's Starship Initiative semi truck looks crazy, is crazy efficient
2018-06-06, Cnet.com
https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/shell-starship-initiative-semi-truck-coast...

Would it sound weird if we told you that Shell (yes, the petrochemical company) is building a starship? Probably. It would probably be less weird if we said that the Starship was actually a hyper-efficient bespoke semi truck that just did a coast-to-coast run from San Diego, California, to Jacksonville, Florida. To build the Starship, Shell teamed up with the AirFlow truck company to ruthlessly apply all of the best aerodynamic tricks and materials science hacks to the design of the truck in search of something more important to big trucks than simple miles-per-gallon: ton-miles per gallon. A truck's ton-miles per gallon figure compares the vehicle's fuel efficiency with the amount of cargo being carried since that dramatically affects how hard a diesel engine has to work. A typical long-haul diesel truck will weigh around 57,000 pounds, including a cargo load of 22,500 pounds. The Starship gross vehicle weight was right around 73,000 pounds, 39,900 pounds of which was cargo, despite that, the Starship averaged 8.94 miles per gallon versus a typical truck's average of 6.4 miles per gallon. The Starship's best mileage was just over 10 miles per gallon. Over the course of a million miles, the Starship would save over 44,000 gallons of diesel fuel versus a standard truck. That's a little more than 4,000 barrels of oil or 168,000 gallons of crude saved by one truck.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Ali Banat: the man with the Gift of Cancer
2018-05-31, Daily Times
https://dailytimes.com.pk/247087/ali-banat-the-man-with-the-gift-of-cancer/

Ali Banat, an Australian based charity worker, social activist, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and founder of the MATW (Muslims Around The World) Project passed away on Tuesday, May 30, 2018. His story resonated with the millions of people who came to know of him after his ‘Gifted With Cancer’ video went viral. His diagnosis of fourth stage Testicular cancer ... completely changed his life, and he decided to donate all his wealth in charity to Muslims Around the World. As he showed off, in the viral video, his huge bedroom lined with Louis Vuitton shoes ... along with a bracelet that cost him $60,000, with one of his cars which included a Ferrari Spider worth $600,000, one could see that ever since he got sick, none of it meant anything to him. Banat was told by the doctors that he had seven months to live, but instead, he lived for another blessed three years. In all this time, he was only dedicated to doing good as he donated his wealth and money to thousands of people across a number of countries including Togo, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. To make sure that his organisation, MATW, was run in good hands, Ali visited ... to see that 100% of the donations would go into the project and not be divided with administrative fees. With the money collected, MATW aimed at building villages for over 200 widows, a mosque, a school that would house 600 orphans, a mini-hospital/medical centre, as well as businesses to support the local community.

Note: Watch a moving interview at the link above showing how his life was totally changed in a positive way by cancer. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Latina Bodybuilder Is 71: 'We Should Never Give Up on Ourselves'
2017-07-24, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/latina-bodybuilder-71-we-should-never-giv...

Josefina Monasterio, 71, is glad she didn't think about her age when she took up bodybuilding at age 59. "I would have missed out on the past 12 years of fun and success,” said the former educator, competitive athlete and author, who recently returned from the NPC Southern States Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “I took second place this year, and I´m not used to that. I'm used to winning!” said Monasterio, whose enthusiasm is contagious. Dr. Josefina, as she likes to be called, was inducted in the NPC Southern States Hall of Fame in 2005 and then [won] for three years in a row starting in 2014. The Vero Beach, Florida resident recently published a book, Vibrant at Any Age, based on her lifelong journey of self-improvement. She hopes to inspire people to achieve their goals just as she has. “I reinvent myself every ten years, and so I started my 60s as a bodybuilder and now I begin my 70s as a writer,” she said. “I don´t impose limitations on myself. People limit themselves by age, nationality, gender, it's very frustrating. Age is a mindset.” Dr. Josefina´s war on ageism has rubbed off on her two daughters, both in their early thirties. “They both take care of their bodies and minds. They´re very proud of me now and brag about me. If you give them a good foundation as a parent, know that they will always come back to their roots.”

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Google to drop Pentagon AI contract after employee objections to the ‘business of war’
2018-06-01, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/06/01/google-to-drop-p...

Google will not seek to extend its contract next year with the Defense Department for artificial intelligence used to analyze drone video, squashing a controversial alliance that had raised alarms over the technological buildup between Silicon Valley and the military. Google ... has faced widespread public backlash and employee resignations for helping develop technological tools that could aid in warfighting. Google will soon release new company principles related to the ethical uses of AI. Thousands of Google employees wrote chief executive Sundar Pichai an open letter urging the company to cancel the contract, and many others signed a petition saying the company’s assistance in developing combat-zone technology directly countered the company’s famous “Don’t be evil” motto. Several Google AI employees had told The Post they believed they wielded a powerful influence over the company’s decision-making. The advanced technology’s top researchers and developers are in heavy demand, and many had organized resistance campaigns or threatened to leave. The sudden announcement Friday was welcomed by several high-profile employees. Meredith Whittaker, an AI researcher and the founder of Google’s Open Research group, tweeted Friday: “I am incredibly happy about this decision, and have a deep respect for the many people who worked and risked to make it happen. Google should not be in the business of war.”

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California City Fights Poverty With Guaranteed Income
2018-06-04, New York Times/Reuters
https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/06/04/us/04reuters-california-income.html

Michael Tubbs, the 27-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, has a radical plan to combat poverty in his cash-strapped city: a "no strings" guaranteed basic income of $500 a month for its residents. Starting in early 2019, Tubbs plans to provide the monthly stipend to a select group of residents as part of a privately funded 18-month experiment to assess how people use the money. "And then, maybe, in two or three years, we can have a much more informed discussion about the social safety net, the income floor people deserve and the best way to do it, because we'll have more data and research," Tubbs told Reuters. The idea of governments providing a universal basic income to their citizens has been gaining traction globally. The Finnish government is running a two-year trial to provide 2,000 unemployed people with monthly payments of approximately $660. In Alaska, each resident has long received an annual dividend check from oil revenues from the Alaska Permanent Fund, which Tubbs said is a model for his approach. For 31-year-old Shay Holliman ... an extra $500 a month would just allow her to make ends meet. She ... works a 9-5 job at a local nonprofit then drives for Uber and Lyft in the evenings and at weekends. "I still can't pay all my bills," she said. Tubbs says he "felt almost a moral responsibility" to do something "a little bit out the box" for his city. "And I know, for me, I want to live in a community where people's basic needs are met," he said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Florida brewery introduces biodegradable, edible six-pack rings
2018-05-31, CBS (Local Utah affiliate)
http://kutv.com/news/nation-world/florida-brewery-introduces-biodegradable-ed...

A microbrewery in Delray Beach, Florida has devised a crafty solution to plastic six-pack rings that often wreak havoc on marine wildlife. After years of research and development, Saltwater Brewery has introduced six-pack rings made of wheat and barley. The brewery developed the rings with a start-up company called E6PR. Whereas plastic rings can become tangled in the wings of sea birds, warp the shells of growing sea turtles and choke seals, Saltwater Brewery's new rings are not only biodegradable but also perfectly edible. "E6PR hopes other breweries - both small and large - will buy into the new rings and help bring costs down," Nola.com reports. The Louisiana State University (LSU) reports that the Gulf of Mexico has one of the highest concentrations of marine plastic in the world. Every net that LSU dipped into the Gulf's water came up with some form of plastic. "We found it every time," LSU's Mark Benfield [said]. E6PR is testing the edible rings with "a select group of craft breweries," but the company is not yet ready to discuss specifics.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A debate over plant consciousness is forcing us to confront the limitations of the human mind
2018-06-03, Quartz
https://qz.com/1294941/a-debate-over-plant-consciousness-is-forcing-us-to-con...

A debate over plant consciousness and intelligence has raged in scientific circles for well over a century - at least since Charles Darwin observed in 1880 that stressed-out flora can’t rest. Biologists believe that plants communicate with one another, fungi, and animals by releasing chemicals via their roots, branches, and leaves. Plants also send seeds that supply information, working as data packets. They even sustain weak members of their own species by providing nutrients to their peers. They also have memories, and can learn from experience. But does any of this qualify as consciousness? The answer to that question seems to depend largely on ... how humans choose to define our conceptions of the self and intelligence. We believe that our experience of life is what defines consciousness. But there is some evidence that other modes of existence are equally complex, which suggests that other living things have arguably intelligent or conscious experiences. Evolutionary ecologist Monica Gagliano insists that plants are intelligent, and she’s not speaking metaphorically. “My work is not about metaphors at all,” Gagliano tells Forbes. Gagliano’s behavioral experiments on plants suggest that - while plants don’t have a central nervous system or a brain - they behave like intelligent beings. Expanding definitions of consciousness and intelligence could mean admitting we’ve been limited in our worldview. What if everything around us is intelligent in its own way, and we’re just not smart enough to see it?

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A Lesson in Kindness Finds New Life on Internet
1999-02-07, Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
http://articles.latimes.com/1999/feb/07/news/mn-5664

Sister Mrosla [taught] junior high. She and Mark met ... in eighth-grade math class. One Friday after a tough week of algebra, she sensed that her students were struggling. She told them [to] pull out a sheet of paper. On every other line, she said, write the name of each student in class and next to the name write a kind word - a sincere compliment. That weekend she compiled the lists for each student on yellow legal-size paper, adding her own compliment at the end. She handed the papers back during the next class. On Mark's paper, among other simple compliments, somebody had written, "A great friend." On Judy Holmes Swanson's list, someone noted that she "smiles all the time." "No one ever said anything about the exercise after that class period," Sister Mrosla wrote. "It didn't matter. The exercise accomplished what I hoped it would - the students were happy with themselves and one another again." Years passed. Mark was killed in Vietnam. At Mark's funeral, [his parents] were waiting for the nun. "We want to show you something. They found this on Mark when he was killed," [James Eklund] said, gently taking out a worn piece of paper that had been refolded many times. "I knew without looking at the writing," Sister Mrosla wrote, "that the papers were the ones I had listed all of the good things each of his classmates had said about Mark." A few of Mark's school friends who were gathered around also recognized the paper, and one by one they told her they still had theirs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Tiny turbine that fits on your DESK runs on carbon dioxide - and it can produce enough energy to power a small town
2016-04-12, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3535461/Tiny-turbine-fits-DESK...

Engineers have developed a turbine which has the potential to power a small town all the while being no bigger than your office desk. Designed by GE Global Research, the turbine could power 10,000 homes and according to researchers, could help to solve some of the world's growing energy challenges. But rather than steam, which is typically used to set turbines in motion, the new turbine uses carbon dioxide. 'This compact machine will allow us to do amazing things,' said Doug Hofer, lead engineer on the project. According to MIT Tech Review, the turbine is driven by 'supercritical carbon dioxide', which is kept under high pressure at temperatures of 700˚C. Under these conditions, the carbon dioxide enters a physical state between a gas and a liquid, enabling the turbine to harness its energy for super-efficient power generation - with the turbines transferring 50 per cent of the heat into electricity. It could help energy firms take waste gas and repurpose it for efficient and cleaner energy production. Waste heat produced from other power generation methods, such as solar or nuclear, could be used to melt salts, with the molten salts used to the carbon dioxide gas to a super-critical liquid - which may be much quicker than heating water for steam. Currently, the design of the turbine would enable up to 10,000 kilowatts of energy to be produced, but the turbines could be scaled up to generate 500 megawatts, enough to power a city.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why this Thai businessman was named a ‘biodiversity hero’
2018-04-04, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2018/0404/Why-this-Thai-b...

Now and again you can find Nonn Panitvong floating facedown in rivers and lakes. Peering intently into the murky waters through his snorkeling mask, the Thai taxonomist is there to observe the behaviors of various freshwater fish species. At other times you can find him in limestone caves. With a flashlight in hand or strapped to his helmet, he scouts around for rare species of karst-dwelling geckos. He looks ... like a businessman, which is what he is: Nonn runs his family’s sugar-cane mill conglomerate. Yet he’s also among Thailand’s most intrepid naturalists. Recognized as a “biodiversity hero” by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ... Nonn has been a relentless popularizer of his homeland’s rich biodiversity, partly through his Siamensis.org website. A comprehensive database with some 20,000 members, the site has nurtured a form of crowdsourced ecology. It allows Thai nature lovers from all walks of life to pool their knowledge about often overlooked species, from snakes to dragonflies. Via social media Nonn has been inviting lay nature lovers and trained biologists alike to act as volunteer nature-watchers for neglected areas. The members of his platforms are also keeping an eye on the spread of invasive species. “We want to generate and spread knowledge,” Nonn says. “One of our main themes is ‘If you don’t know it, you won’t love it.’ In the end, people will conserve only what they value and love.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Do We Find Meaning in Life?
2017-11-17, Time
http://time.com/3584646/find-meaning-in-life/

Your mind may require meaning. Studies show it’s one of the key factors underlying happiness and motivation. So what is meaning in life and what does research say about how we might be able to find it? Some research indicates that to have meaning in your life you must have a story. You need to reflect on how things could have been and why they turned out the way they did. Seeing that things had a direction and a purpose provides meaning. Fundamentally, our brains may not be able to tell the difference between the real and the story. What’s even more interesting is the truth may not matter. Feeling that you know yourself creates a strong sense of meaning in life — whether or not you actually know yourself doesn’t make a difference. That may seem depressing but it also means that you can craft the stories in your life to build meaning and fulfillment. Timothy Wilson, author of Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change, has talked about how the process of “story-editing” can help us improve our lives: The “do good, be good” method ... capitalizes on the tried-and-true psychological principle that our attitudes and beliefs often follow from our behaviors, rather than precede them. As Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.“ People who do volunteer work, for example, often change their narratives of who they are, coming to view themselves as caring, helpful people.

Note: Explore a concise, excellent guide to finding life purpose and intentions. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The amazing healing powers Charlie Goldsmith has kept secret for 17 years
2015-10-05, Daily Telegraph (One of the Australia's leading newspapers)
https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/sydney-confidential/charlie-g...

It is claimed Charlie Goldsmith has healed people with powers no one quite understands. That’s why he’s seeking help from medical researchers and scientists to investigate what has been described as his “healing gift”. Goldsmith ... doesn’t charge fees for his treatment that he can do over the phone, on the internet or in person. He earns a living running [a] communications agency. Goldsmith was the subject of a study at New York’s NYU Lutheran Hospital, the results of which recently appeared in [the] international Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine. Over three weeks, Goldsmith treated 50 different patients with a 76 per cent success rate of pain related conditions and 79 per cent of conditions other than pain with “marked improvement” and the results were often immediate. Patient illnesses varied from kidney stones to urinary tract infections and allergies. Goldsmith’s intention is to expose his work to multiple scientific studies, which will ultimately include a double blind controlled trial that directly tests outcomes. New York Lutheran Hospital doctor Ramsey Joudeh was involved in the first study and labelled Goldsmith’s healing as a “miracle”. “At first I thought his gift was something we could do at least to give patients a piece of mind and comfort,” [he said] “When I saw Charlie work, it really changed my belief and thoughts on the entire process from maybe something that could augment to something that could in and of itself heal.”

Note: See this miracle worker's website at https://www.charliegoldsmith.com.


After ninth ascent of Mount Everest, Lhakpa Sherpa wants to inspire other women
2018-05-23, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/ct-spt-lhakpa-sherpa-mount-ever...

The most successful female Everest climber said after finishing her ninth ascent of the world's highest mountain that she wants to inspire all women so they too can achieve their dreams. Lhakpa Sherpa was guiding some 50 climbers with her brother when she scaled the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak last week, breaking her own record for the most climbs of Mount Everest by a woman. "If an uneducated woman who is a single mother can climb Everest nine times, any woman can achieve their dreams," Sherpa said. "I want be an inspiration to all the women in the world that they too can achieve their goal," she said. The 44-year-old Sherpa never got a chance for formal education because she was already working carrying climbing gear and supplies for the trekkers. She plans to climb the mountain again next year. Her recent climb was the toughest of the nine, she said, adding there was a lot of wind and snow. This successful expedition is likely to help her brother Mingma's mountaineering company grow. It would also mean that Lhakpa can continue to climb Everest. She says she is also looking forward to seeing her three children back in Connecticut, where she works as a dishwasher at the Whole Foods Market in West Hartford. At [a] ceremony in Kathmandu, [the] tourism community honored her and and the overall record-holder for successful Everest climbs, Kami Rita, who has reached the summit 22 times, for their achievement.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Costa Rica to ban fossil fuels and become world's first decarbonised society
2018-05-10, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/costa-rica-fossil-fuels-ban-preside...

Costa Rica’s new president has announced a plan to ban fossil fuels and become the first fully decarbonised country in the world. Carlos Alvarado, a 38-year-old former journalist, made the announcement ... during his inauguration. "Decarbonisation is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first," Mr Alvarado said. Symbolically, the president arrived at the ceremony in San Jose aboard a hydrogen-fuelled bus. Last month, Mr Alvarado said the Central American country would begin to implement a plan to end fossil fuel use in transport by 2021 – the 200th year of Costa Rican independence. "When we reach 200 years of independent life we will take Costa Rica forward and celebrate ... that we've removed gasoline and diesel from our transportation,” he promised during a victory speech. Costa Rica already generates more than 99 per cent of its electricity using renewable energy sources. Costa Rica’s push towards clean energy faces no large-scale backlash, in part because the country has no significant oil or gas industry. But demand for cars is rising, as is use of other transport systems, and that may prove one of the biggest challenges in meeting the new goal. Transport is today the country’s main source of climate changing emissions.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


California becomes first state to require solar panels on new homes
2018-05-09, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/california-becomes-first-state-require-s...

Solar panels will be a required feature on virtually every new home built in California, under a policy advanced Wednesday by California regulators. The California Energy Commission voted unanimously, 5-0, to recommend energy efficiency standards that are set to be added to state building regulations later this year, effecting all construction after Jan. 1, 2020. The rules will make California the first state in the nation to require solar panels on new homes. "This will be nothing short of historic for our state and for our country," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar & Storage Association, an industry group. The requirement will apply to single-family homes and to apartment and condominium complexes of three stories or less. Solar installations have become so cost effective that they are included in more than 15,000 homes built each year in California, even without the directive from the state. In 2020 and beyond that number promises to increase to 80,000, the number of homes built each year in the Golden State. The average estimated cost of a solar system is $9,500, or $40 a month when amortized over a 30-year mortgage. But the systems are projected to save customers an average of $80 a month on their utility bills. Another part of the new regulation ... gives energy credit to homes that employ battery storage technology.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Florida Set To Launch Country's First Private High-Speed Train Service
2017-12-07, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2017/12/07/569183423/florida-set-to-launch-countrys-first...

The country's first private high-speed rail service is opening this month in Florida, promising to transform congested South Florida highways by taking as many as 3 million cars off the road. The ambitious $3 billion Brightline express project will run along the state's densest population corridor with more than 6 million residents and a regular influx of tourists. The project, funded by All Aboard Florida, represents the first test into the long-awaited U.S. move into high-speed rail, says John Renne, director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions at Florida Atlantic University. All Aboard Florida secured state approval in October to sell bonds to fund the project. The company has said no public money will be used. Renne says the trip from West Palm to Miami, which can take up to five hours round trip in a car, will take about 60 minutes each way on the train. Brightline trains will have their own dedicated set of tracks, built alongside 19th century lines that still carry cargo trains. The return to passenger trains will revive a line that stopped running on those old tracks in the 1960s, with the arrival of the federal highway program. "The federal highway system expanded ... and everyone got off trains and into cars," John Guitar of All Aboard Florida [said]. "And we've done a full circle now that the traffic and congestion and gas prices are so bad, people are looking for alternatives to get out of their cars and find other ways to get around the state."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Plants use underground communication to learn when neighbours are stressed
2018-05-02, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/plants-underground-communication-c...

Plants use an underground communication network to exchange chemical warnings, according to a new study. Work by a team of biologists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has provided new insights into the complex subterranean life of seemingly immobile corn plants. The work adds to a body of research exploring the chemical pathways that plants use to “talk” to each other. “Our study demonstrated that ... above ground mechanical contact between plants can affect below ground interactions, acting as cues in prediction of the future competitors,” said Dr Velemir Ninkovic, lead author of the study. [Plant] signaling both within their bodies and with neighbors consists of the relatively slow exchange of chemical messages. Some of this communication takes place via strands of underground fungi that plants use to share food, warning signals and even toxic chemicals – a phenomenon that some biologists have informally termed the “wood-wide web”. The study by Dr Ninkovic and his colleagues ... found that the fresh seedlings responded [to stresses] by growing more leaves and fewer roots than plants that had grown under normal conditions. [The Results] suggested that the corn seedlings, upon being exposed to the chemical signals of recently touched plants in the soil, were responding by preparing themselves for the trouble ahead posed by new neighbors or becoming something’s dinner.

Note: Read the New York Times review of a mind and heart expanding new novel about the secret life of trees. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


These Towns Are Trying Out A Basic-Income Scheme And It’s Already Changing Lives
2018-05-06, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ontario-basic-income_us_5aeac0e0e4b06748...

Sherry Mendowegan has accomplished a lot in the past six months. The mother of two bought her first car and graduated with her high school diploma. “Next is my college, post-secondary, and then hopefully I get some work,” she says. Going to college would have been out of reach for the 41-year-old just last year. But as a participant in the basic income pilot program launched by the Canadian province of Ontario, she and her husband, Dan, can now afford the tuition fees. “Our life has changed,” Mendowegan says. “We’re not struggling.” Ontario’s basic income program, launched in April 2017, is currently operating in three towns ― Thunder Bay, Lindsay and Hamilton. The scheme has enrolled more than 4,000 low-income people living on less than CA$34,000 ($29,500) individually. This includes those who are working, in school or living on financial assistance. For three years, single participants will receive up to CA$17,000 a year and couples will receive up to CA$24,000. Those earning any money will see their basic income amounts reduced by 50 cents for every dollar they make. Universal basic income, or the idea of giving people money without any conditions, is not new. But it is gaining fresh momentum globally as inequality worsens and swaths of jobs are at risk from automation and other factors. Ontario joins a handful of other places in the world to test out some sort of guaranteed basic income.

Note: In the US, Stockton, California recently announced plans to provide residents with a Universal Basic Income. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Want kids to listen more, fidget less? Try more recess... this school did
2016-08-24, Today.com
https://www.today.com/parents/want-kids-listen-more-fidget-less-try-more-rece...

Four times a day, the doors of Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas, fling open to let bouncy, bubbly, excited kindergarteners and first-graders pounce onto the playground. The youngest kids at this school now enjoy ... three more breaks than they used to get. Students are less fidgety and more focused. They listen more attentively, follow directions and try to solve problems on their own. There are fewer discipline issues. “We’re seeing really good results,” [noted Donna McBride, a first-grade teacher]. Eagle Mountain Elementary is ... trying out LiiNK, a new program that boosts the amount of recess for the youngest students. “It gives the platform for them to be able to function at their best level,” said Debbie Rhea, a kinesiology professor ... who created the project. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, calling recess “a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.” LiiNK was inspired by Finland’s education system, which produces students who get some of the best scores in the world for reading, math and science. Finnish kids [enjoy] 15 minutes of “unstructured outdoor play” every hour. Children in the U.S., on the other hand, might get one 15-minute recess a day. “That’s not enough for kids. They’re not built that way,” Rhea said. “[Recess] reboots the system so that when they go back in, they’re ready to learn.” They key is “unstructured play,” which Rhea described as kids being allowed to run, play and make up their own games.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Hemisphere's Biggest Solar Plant Is in Mexico, Not the U.S.
2018-05-06, TruthDig
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-hugest-solar-plant-in-the-new-world-is-...

Mexico wants to produce 43% of its electricity from renewables by 2024, in only 6 years. Toward that end, in December it opened the Villanueva solar farm in the desert, with 2.3 million solar panels, generating enough juice to power 1.3 million homes. It is the largest solar project in the Western hemisphere. That’s right. The largest solar installation in the New World is not in the United States. It is in Mexico. In the first quarter of 2018, India set a record with the addition of 4.6 gigawatts of solar! That’s the name plate capacity of four small nuclear reactors, added in just one quarter. By the end of January India had 20 gigawatts of installed solar power capacity. In contrast, France only has 8 gigawatts of installed solar capacity. Dubai will tender a bid before the end of this year for a 300 megawatt solar farm, as part of its plan to get 7% of its electricity from solar by 2020. Since Dubai is one of seven emirates making up the United Arab Emirates, a major oil exporter, this push for renewables may ... seem hard to explain. But look more closely. Dubai does not have its own hydrocarbons and is rather a service economy. So ... it is highly beneficial for Dubai to get its electricity from solar, the fuel of which is free down the line once installment costs are paid off. The UAE gets enormous amounts of sunshine and bids have been let there for as little as 2.5 cents a kilowatt hour, which is world-beating. Coal, one of the cheapest hydrocarbons, is typically 5 cents a kilowatt hour.

Note: Watch a promotional video for the massive Villanueva solar farm in Mexico.


Going to School for Empathy
2017-12-20, US News and World Report
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2017-12-20/canadian-class...

In a Toronto classroom, a group of 10-year-olds sit in a circle around a green felt blanket cheering on a baby as he tries to roll over. The baby's classroom visit is part of a program designed in Canada to foster empathy among children and, in the process, reduce aggression and bullying. Founded in 1996 by Canadian educator Mary Gordon, the program, Roots of Empathy, has found receptive audiences at home and abroad. In an age of polarized politics in many democracies, where social media often is seen more as a tool of cyberbullying than a bridge to increased understanding, Roots of Empathy has expanded to the U.S. and in Western Europe by using a 20th-century technique: face-to-face interactions. "The students learn that each person has a particular disposition, that there are differences between individuals - but that we all share the same menu of feelings," Gordon says. In 2001, the government of Manitoba commissioned a three-year follow-up study of Roots of Empathy, measuring positive social behavior, physical aggression, and indirect aggression. The results showed an improvement in all three areas immediately after the program and three years later. Studies commissioned by the University of Missouri and the University of Toronto had similar findings. The program has expanded from Canada, where it is delivered in English and French, to the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland ... Costa Rica, [and the] the U.S..

Note: Read an interview with the founder of this great program.


Tennessee makes community college free for all adults
2017-05-11, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/11/pf/college/tennessee-free-community-college/i...

Tennessee is about to become the first state in the nation to make community college free for all adults. Lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday that will expand the Tennessee Promise program that launched in 2014. It made tuition and fees free for recent high school graduates enrolled in a community college or technical school. Now, adults who don't already have an associate's or bachelor's degree can go for free, too, starting in the 2018 fall semester. Governor Bill Haslam is expected to sign the bill into law. He proposed the legislation in his State of the State address earlier this year. It's a cornerstone of his initiative to increase the number of residents with a college education to 55% by 2025. Last year, less than 39% of residents had gone to college. "If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans, we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs, and there is no smarter investment than increasing access to high-quality education," Haslam said in a statement. To be eligible, students must have been a state resident for at least a year before applying, maintain a 2.0 GPA, enroll in enough classes to be a part-time student, and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Expanding the free-tuition program will cost about $10 million. It will be funded by the state's lottery account. More than 33,000 students have benefited from the Tennessee Promise program in its first two years, raising enrollment among first-time freshmen by 30%.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


India says all villages have electricity
2018-04-30, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-43946049

All villages in India now have access to electricity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced. This was achieved on Saturday when a remote village in the north-eastern state of Manipur became the last to be connected to the grid. A village is considered electrified if 10% of its homes and all public buildings are connected to the grid. World Bank figures show around 200 million people in India still lack access to electricity. Mr Modi said all of nearly 600,000 villages in India have now been given electricity connection. In August 2015, Mr Modi launched a $2.5bn (Ł1.8bn) scheme to electrify all Indian households by December 2018. As part of this scheme, all 597,464 inhabited villages in the country and more than five million households have been connected to the grid. Remote and inaccessible villages have always proved to be a major challenge in the country's electrification drive. Though most Indian villages have some electrical connection today, connecting the last remote households in the surrounding areas can be expensive. Some people may also forgo accessing electricity by choice because of the monthly bills that come with it, especially if power supply is not reliable and blackouts are frequent.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Solar Power Investment Outstripped Coal, Gas And Nuclear Combined In 2017
2018-04-09, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikescott/2018/04/09/solar-power-investment-outs...

More money was invested in solar power in 2017 than in coal, gas and nuclear power combined, according to a new report for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report says that global investment in solar rose 18% to $160.8 billion, driven by the Chinese market, which was responsible for more than half of the world’s 98GW of new solar capacity. Solar power made up 57% of last year’s total for all renewables (excluding large hydro) of $279.8 billion, and it towered above new investment in coal and gas generation capacity, at an estimated $103 billion. Last year was the eighth in a row in which global investment in renewables, excluding large hydropower, exceeded $200 billion. The $2.7 trillion invested in clean energy from 2007 to 2017 have increased the proportion of electricity generated by wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, marine and small hydro globally to more than 12%, from 5.2% in 2007 ... and has avoided the emission of about 1.8 gigatonnes of CO2, about the same as is emitted by the entire US transportation system. UN Environment head Erik Solheim said that “the extraordinary surge in solar investment shows how the global energy map is changing and, more importantly, what the economic benefits are of such a shift. Investments in renewables bring more people into the economy, they deliver more jobs, better quality jobs and better paid jobs. Clean energy also means less pollution, which means healthier, happier development.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Autism Breakthrough: Girl's Writings Explain Her Behavior and Feelings
2008-02-19, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4311223&page=1

Carly Fleischmann has severe autism and is unable to speak a word. But ... this 13-year-old has made a remarkable breakthrough. Two years ago, working with pictures and symbols on a computer keyboard, she started typing and spelling out words. The computer became her voice. "All of a sudden these words started to pour out of her, and it was an exciting moment because we didn't realize she had all these words," said speech pathologist Barbara Nash. Then Carly began opening up, describing what it was like to have autism. Carly writes about her frustrations with her siblings, how she understands their jokes and asks when can she go on a date. "We were stunned," Carly's father Arthur Fleischmann said. "We realized inside was an articulate, intelligent, emotive person that we had never met. This ... opened up a whole new way of looking at her." This is what Carly wants people to know about autism. "It is hard to be autistic because no one understands me. People look at me and assume I am dumb because I can't talk or I act differently than them. I think people get scared with things that look or seem different than them." Carly had another message for people who don't understand autism. "Autism is hard because you want to act one way, but you can't always do that. It's sad that sometimes people don't know that sometimes I can't stop myself and they get mad at me. If I could tell people one thing about autism it would be that I don't want to be this way. But I am, so don't be mad. Be understanding."

Note: Read an excellent follow-up article in which Carly answers readers questions about autism. For more, see this webpage.


From ‘Dr. Evil’ to hero maker: Philip Zimbardo
2018-04-20, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/From-Dr-Evil-to-hero-maker-Philip...

Philip Zimbardo is understandably tired of being associated with the darker sides of human behavior. Yet the 85-year-old San Francisco psychologist, who taught at Stanford for 50 years ... knows that history has a way of flattening careers into one landmark accomplishment. For Zimbardo, that would be the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. Zimbardo devised a mock jail in the basement of Stanford’s Jordan Hall to study the psychology of imprisonment. All hell broke loose ... and Zimbardo, the “warden,” abruptly cut the study short. Ever since, his prison experiment has been cultural shorthand for proof [that] depersonalized circumstances [can turn] anyone temporarily into a tyrant. Embedded within Zimbardo’s findings on the “banality of evil” was the kernel of a vastly more positive and, he believes, more broadly consequential idea: heroism training. “If essentially good people are capable of evil, then can’t any of us also be inspired and trained to act heroically?” he asks. The Heroic Imagination Project was launched in 2010. “I worked with a team of academics to develop six three-hour-long lessons on transforming passive bystanders into active heroes,” [Zimbardo said]. The key to “awakening everyone’s heroic instincts,” Zimbardo said, is twofold: first, redefining who a hero is. “We must ... promote the idea that heroes are ordinary people who take extraordinary action.” Second, it’s about having a ... belief that our abilities and aptitudes aren’t static but can be developed over time.

Note: Watch a video of Zimbardo's talk titled, "What Makes a Hero?." Explore an excellent essay on moving beyond duality which talks about Zimbardo's experiments.


Harriet Tubman will be face of the $20
2016-04-21, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/20/news/10-bill-hamilton-20-tubman/index.html

Harriet Tubman will boot Andrew Jackson from the face of the $20. She'll become the first black woman ever to front a U.S. banknote. Tubman, who died in 1913 at the age of 91, escaped slavery in the south and eventually led hundreds of escaped slaves to freedom as a "conductor" of the Underground Railroad. After the slaves were freed, Tubman was a staunch supporter of a woman's right to vote. "What she did to free people on an individual basis and what she did afterward," [Treasury Secretary Jack] Lew said. "That's a legacy of what an individual can do in a democracy." The $5 bill will keep Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, on the front. The back of the bill will depict the Lincoln Memorial along with portraits of individuals involved in historic events that took place there. That includes Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt. The African-American opera singer and former first lady held a concert at the memorial in 1939 in an effort to move the civil rights movement forward. Martin Luther King Jr. will be added the back of the bill. The Lincoln Memorial was the site of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. It's not clear when the $20 or $5 will enter circulation. Updating currency can take more than a decade.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Utah’s Rainbow Bridge National Monument is now the world’s latest dark-sky sanctuary
2018-04-19, Salt Lake Tribune (One of Utah's leading newspapers)
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/04/19/utahs-rainbow-bridge-national-monument...

Southern Utah’s Rainbow Bridge National Monument has been selected as an international dark-sky sanctuary, a designation meant to recognize the area for its naturally dark skies and a cultural heritage revered by Native Americans. Encompassing 160 acres, Rainbow Bridge National Monument outside of Page, Ariz., is among the smallest areas managed by the National Park Service and is considered sacred by several regional tribes, including the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Utes and Paiutes. The dark-sky designation, made in conjunction with the International Dark-Sky Association, will be marked by a series of public astronomy events. The International Dark-Sky Association launched its dark-sky places program in 2001 to encourage protection of natural dark night skies worldwide through responsible lighting, public awareness and education. The association’s executive director J. Scott Feierabend said the group was pleased to honor Rainbow Bridge. “In the span of this remarkable natural bridge,” Feierabend said in a written statement, “we see symbolically represented the arch of the Milky Way across the night sky, a reminder of the long-held value of both Rainbow Bridge and the natural night sky to native peoples of the area.” The Utah monument joins three other certified dark-sky sanctuaries worldwide, including Cosmic Campground in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest; Aortea-Great Barrier Island in New Zealand; and Gabriela Mistal in Chile.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The decades-long quest to end drought (and feed millions) by taking the salt out of seawater
2018-03-20, Wired
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/charlie-paton-seawater-greenhouse-desalination...

“The world isn’t short of water, it’s just in the wrong place, and too salty," says Charlie Paton – so he's spent the past 24 years building the technology to prove it. Paton is the founder of Seawater Greenhouse, a company that transforms two abundant resources – sunshine and seawater – into freshwater for growing crops in arid, coastal regions such as Africa’s horn. His latest project [is] in Somaliland (an autonomous but internationally unrecognised republic in Somalia). On a 25-hectare plot of desert land close to the coastline, he’s building the region’s first sustainable, drought-resistant greenhouse. Using solar power to pump in seawater from the coastline and desalinate it on site, Paton is generating freshwater to irrigate plants, and water vapour to cool and humidify the greenhouse interior. Less than a year after its launch, this improbable desert oasis produced its first harvest of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. This year he plans to build an on-site training centre to teach local farmers how to grow greenhouse vegetables. The structure’s modular design will enable farmers to adopt their own one- to five-hectare plots – the dream being a network of connected, drought-resistant farms running across the country. “One of the exciting things is that it can work all the way along our long Red Sea coastline, bringing new sources of income in arid, pastoral areas,” Shibeshi says. “If you have a greenhouse, you aren’t worried about whether there’s rain or no rain.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Energy healing: ‘I like things that I know — and what I know is, this works’
2018-03-18, News.com.au (a leading media outlet in Australia)
http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/energy-healing-i-like...

He can make a two-year-old who hasn’t spent a day of his life without pain sleep like a baby. He can banish 30 years of neck pain in 30 seconds. Mobilise paralysed limbs. Zap an allergy. All without laying a hand on anyone. Melbourne energy healer Charlie Goldsmith has a gift sceptics love to dismiss, but the people he’s helped begged to differ. He’s never charged any of them a cent. If it sounds like a Hollywood script, that’s because it sort of is. US TV producers gave him his own show. The Healer premiered ... late last year. He has a gift nobody can quite explain, so many distrust it. He believes what he sees, and knows: Like the studies he’s been involved in which show he “heals” 80 per cent of those he treats. The Healer is his chance to lend a credibility ... to energy healing. He believes there are plenty of others with his “gift”, they just need that talent spotted, and developed. “I work on old 80-year-olds and I’m their first experience of this stuff. And I think ‘wow you could spend your whole life on this planet and not know that humans have this ability that’s been misunderstood and probably misrepresented a lot’.” Goldsmith partnered with New York University’s Lutheran Hospital for the first study scrutinising his talent. He treated 50 people with a 76 per cent success rate of pain-related conditions with immediate “marked improvement” and 79 per cent of conditions other than pain.

Note: See this miracle worker's website at https://www.charliegoldsmith.com.


Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles
2018-04-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-c...

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles. The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug. The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process. Industrial enzymes are widely used in, for example, washing powders and biofuel production. They have been made to work up to 1,000 times faster in a few years, the same timescale [Prof John McGeehan, who led the research] envisages for the plastic-eating enzyme. Earlier work had shown that some fungi can break down PET plastic, which makes up about 20% of global plastic production. But bacteria are far easier to harness for industrial uses.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Hen-keeping – a cracking new therapy for older people
2015-07-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/28/hen-keeping-therapy-older-people

In the garden of a care home, gingernut ranger hen Ellen has just laid her second egg. Resident Ashok Patel, 64, has been pronounced “a natural” with the hens, someone who can coax them back into the henhouse when it is time for bed. “I like the hens, and the hens like me,” he says. Henpower, a project that brings hens to older people in care settings, has joined with Notting Hill Housing to introduce the hens into two of the housing association’s extra-care sites. The project is supporting some 700 residents, including those with dementia, in more than 20 care homes in north-east England. Henpower was set up by the charity Equal Arts in 2011. A 12-month study of the project by Northumbria University ... found that Henpower is improving the health and wellbeing of older people, and reducing depression, loneliness and the need for antipsychotic medication in care homes. [Northumbria University professor] Glenda Cook ... was the lead researcher on the Henpower evaluation. “Henpower is innovative because it is not just brief ‘petting’ of the hens, but also taking responsibility for them. There’s a huge range of roles with shared responsibilities, with diverse ways to interact with the project,” she says. Volunteer Jackie Copeland works with residents on “henspired” art projects. “People get a lot out of stroking [the hens]. You feel your stress levels go down. I get ‘chicken love’ – I almost expect them to start purring,” she laughs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet Zero Mass Water, Whose Solar Panels Pull Drinking Water From The Air
2017-11-15, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/miguelhelft/2017/11/15/meet-zero-mass-water-whos...

It’s often said you can’t make something out of nothing. Cody Friesen may have. To show me his technological sleight of hand, Friesen invites me to a hillside house. We each sample a cup of water that flows from a drinking fountain. The water is cool and delicious – and it was made out of thin air. Literally. The drinking fountain is fed by a flexible pipe that leads to the house’s roof. There sit two Friesen’s devices, called Source Hydropanels. Each looks like solar panel mounted atop a metal box. The system extracts moisture out of the air at a rate of as much as five liters per day. Friesen believes installations like this one could soon be providing clean, quality drinking water to homes, schools and businesses. Friesen ... has already installed the Source in eight countries, including Ecuador, Jordan, Mexico and the Philippines. In the U.S., his panels are collecting water at a Duke Energy facility in North Carolina, an office building in Santa Monica, Calif., some Bay Area residences, and a handful of homes and schools in Arizona, where despite the low humidity, Source produces roughly the same amount of water as in wetter climates. Source ... draws ambient air through a fan into its devices. There, special nano-materials ... absorb the water. The solar panel then helps separate the water from the material. After it is condensed, it flows ... through a mineral block that adds magnesium and calcium common in drinking water.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In March, Portugal Made More Than Enough Renewable Energy To Power The Whole Country
2018-04-05, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/05/599886059/in-march-portuga...

Last month, Portugal produced more than enough renewable energy to meet the country's entire electrical demand - a feat "unmatched in the last 40 years," according to the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association, or APREN. Renewable power produced in March was equal to 103.6 percent of electrical demand on mainland Portugal. Fifty-five percent of that energy was produced through hydro power, while 42 percent came from wind. The country still used fossil fuels to balance out supply and demand. "These periods were nevertheless fully compensated by others of greater renewable production," [APREN writes]. "It is expected that by 2040 the production of renewable electricity will be able to guarantee, in a cost-effective way, the total annual electricity consumption of Mainland Portugal." For most countries in the world, a fully renewable energy supply still seems like a challenging target. Portugal has made substantial investments in renewable energy sources, as has its neighbor Spain. Some of that spending was cut in 2012, amid austerity measures, and more were scaled back in 2016. But by that point, many renewable energy projects had already been paid off and were operating cost-efficiently. And this week, coincidentally, the Portuguese government put a stop to another energy subsidy - one "worth about 20 million euros a year, most of which goes to fossil fuel plants," Reuters writes.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Danone's North America business hits key social, environmental milestone
2018-04-12, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/12/danones-north-america-business-receives-b-cor...

DanoneWave has renamed itself and says it has been certified as a B Corporation. It is now called Danone North America. To be designated a B Corp, a for-profit company must pass a set of standards regarding its social and environmental performance and change its legal structure to become a public benefit company. Danone sought to achieve this certification by 2020, but it came out two years ahead of schedule. While some stakeholders may worry that big changes to become more environmentally friendly will increase costs, Danone North America's larger suppliers have seen the opposite happen. Dairy is one the company's main ingredients and its production can be harmful to the environment due to water usage and waste. The company's largest manufacturing facility has cut its usage. While the initial research involved in reducing water usage was costly, one of the owners of the facility has already seen a huge reduction in costs. Faber said that up to 250,000 gallons of water can be saved per day due to ... new technology. Danone North America sustainable development manager Catherine Queen [said] that there has been a movement to bring the sustainability effort to global suppliers. Global suppliers have been encouraged to move toward more plant-based packaging and pay their workers living wages. Sustainable manufacturing can lower costs significantly and create more room in budgets to increase wages. Costs on the higher executive level have also been cut.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet A Guy Who Has Devoted His Life To Freeing Slaves
2015-12-16, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/devinthorpe/2015/12/16/meet-a-guy-who-has-devote...

Tim Ballard's career with the CIA and Homeland Security may not be what you'd expect. With years of leading rescue efforts to free victims of human trafficking, especially those used as prostitutes, he founded Operation Underground Railroad to liberate captive slaves. Ballard explains the need for his work. "There are an estimated 27 million enslaved human beings in the world: more slaves than ever existed during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Many are sex slaves, as sex trafficking represents the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Many reputable organizations exist to disseminate information about this problem, and others function as aftercare organizations for victims. Very few, if any, dedicate themselves to the pro-active rescue and direct extraction of the victims, and to the capture and prosecution of their captors. Operation Underground Railroad fills this void." Operation Underground Railroad's work is already logging success. "In just our first two years, O.U.R. has already rescued over 350 victims of human trafficking," Ballard reports. "Foreign governments often seek out O.U.R. to assist in sting operations against child sex traffickers. We keep the respective U.S. Embassies informed of our activities, and have been fortunate to count on their support and participation in a number of our rescues.

Note: Don't miss an incredibly inspiring video interview of Tim Ballard with Tony Robbins.


Finland's homeless crisis nearly solved. How? By giving homes to all who need.
2018-03-21, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2018/0321/Finland-s-homeless-crisis-ne...

As anyone who has visited Europe recently can attest, the scourge of homelessness has reached epidemic proportions. The only exception to the trend is Finland. The number of homeless people in Finland has declined from a high of 18,000 30 years ago, to approximately 7,000: the latter figure includes some 5,000 persons who are temporarily lodging with friends or relatives. At the core of this was a move away from the so-called “staircase model,” whereby a homeless person moved from one social rehabilitation level to another, with an apartment waiting for him or her at the highest step. Instead, Finland opted to give housing to the homeless from the start. The concept behind the new approach was not original. What was different, and historic, about the Finnish Housing First model was a willingness to enact the model on a nationwide basis. In 2008 the Finnish National Program to reduce long-term homelessness was drafted and put into place. One [goal] was to cut the number of long-term homeless in half by producing ... supported housing units for tenants with their own leases. The extant network of homeless shelters was phased out. This also involved phasing out the “old way” of thinking about homelessness. The program pays for itself. A case study undertaken by the Tampere University of Technology in 2011 ... showed society saved $18,500 per homeless person per year who had received a rental apartment with support, due to the medical and emergency services no longer needed to assist and respond to them.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dad bikes 1,400 miles to hear deceased daughter's heartbeat on Father's Day
2017-06-21, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/dad-bikes-1400-miles-to-hear-deceased-daughters-...

Bill Conner suddenly lost his 20-year-old daughter, Abbey, and he felt like he had to do something to honor her short life. Conner hopped on a bike and ... decided to travel 2,600 miles - from his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida - to visit Broward Health Medical Center, the hospital that recovered Abbey's organs for donation back in January. At the age of 16, as soon as she got her license, Abbey made the decision to be an organ donor. Abbey donated four organs, allowing four males, ages 20 to 60, to live. When Conner informed the Florida donation center that handled Abbey's organs about his decision to ride on her behalf, the group sent letters to every recipient, asking if they'd be interested in meeting the woman's father. "The only person who has responded at this point is Jack Jr., the heart recipient," Conner said. Conner was given Jack's contact information. They arranged to meet in Baton Rouge on Father's Day - 1,400 miles into Conner's trip. When Conner met Jack Sunday afternoon he felt like he already knew him. The pair walked toward one another with their arms outstretched. "Knowing he's alive because of Abbey," Conner said. "I was happy for him and his family, and at the same time, I got to reunite with my daughter." After sharing a minute-long hug, Jack pulled out a stethoscope so Conner could hear his daughter's heartbeat for the first time since she died in January. The family made a recording of Jack's heart so Conner could listen to it as he rides.

Note: Watch moving video of the meeting between Connor and Jack on Father's day at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Khan Academy founder wins 2018 Visionary of the Year award
2018-03-27, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/visionsf/article/Khan-Academy-founder-wins-2018-V...

When Salman Khan began posting videos on YouTube more than a decade ago, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur had no idea of the celebrity he would gain, nor the impact he would have. His online tutorials in math ... were made for friends and family struggling in school. But his audience quickly grew. Before long, Khan had quit his day job in finance to carry out a goal of delivering free Internet instruction to the world. His educational website was called Khan Academy. On Tuesday night, Khan ... was presented the fourth annual Visionary of the Year Award, an honor announced by The San Francisco Chronicle. Khan Academy today has more than 62 million registered users in nearly 200 countries. His voice, which still narrates many of the tutorials, is widely recognized, and students and parents often stop him on the street to thank him for providing an assist at school or work. Since its launch in 2008, Khan Academy has broadened its online course load to include nearly every school subject from science to art and from the kindergarten to college levels. Khan’s Mountain View nonprofit has grown from just him to more than 150 employees. Perhaps most impressive is that the schooling has remained entirely free. With the admirable mission of providing a “world-class” education to anyone anywhere, Khan has attracted financial support from well-heeled donors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and Bank of America.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


UK sets new wind power record as turbines deliver 14 gigawatts for first time – 37 per cent of nation's electricity
2018-03-17, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/wind-power-record-electricity...

Wind power in the UK set a new record today by generating 14 gigawatts for the first time – nearly 37 per cent of the the country’s electricity. The National Grid control room confirmed that 13.9 gigawatts was the highest ever metered wind output. At 10am on Saturday Wind generated 13.9GW, or 36.9 per cent of the UK’s electricity, increasing to 14GW by 11am. The previous record was 13.6GW in January this year. By contrast gas generated only 8.5GW (23 per cent), nuclear 6.5GW (17.3 per cent), coal just 4.7GW (12.5 per cent) and both solar and biomass 1.5GW (4.1 per cent). Hydro came last with 0.3GW or 0.9 per cent. Wind farms produced a record 15 per cent of Britain’s electricity in 2017, up from 10 per cent in 2016. Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College said: “The dramatic increase comes from both higher wind speeds and a jump in installed capacity. Several large offshore farms came online and onshore wind had a record year for deployment.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


These newly discovered bacteria can eat plastic bottles
2016-03-10, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-bacteria-eat-plastic-2016...

A team of Japanese scientists has found a species of bacteria that eats the type of plastic found in most disposable water bottles. The discovery, published ... in the journal Science, could lead to new methods to manage the more than 50 million tons of this particular type of plastic produced globally each year. The plastic found in water bottles is known as polyethylene terephalate, or PET. It is also found in polyester clothing, frozen-dinner trays and blister packaging. Part of the appeal of PET is that it is lightweight, colorless and strong. However, it has also been notoriously resistant to being broken down by microbes - what experts call "biodegradation." Previous studies had found a few species of fungi can grow on PET, but until now, no one had found any microbes that can eat it. To find the plastic-eating bacterium described in the study, the Japanese research team ... collected 250 PET-contaminated samples including sediment, soil and wastewater from a plastic bottle recycling site. Next they screened the microbes living on the samples to see whether any of them were eating the PET and using it to grow. They eventually discovered [a] bacteria species [that] could break down a thin film of PET over the course of six weeks. The research could make it easier to identify other microbes that might have similar PET-degrading capabilities.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Butterfly Effect – Jonathan Pitre's brave fight inspiring others
2017-08-11, Ottawa Sun
http://ottawasun.com/2017/08/11/walker-butterfly-effect--jonathan-pitres-brav...

Most people in Ottawa have heard about our “Butterfly Child,” Jonathan Pitre, who is fighting one of the most horrific diseases anyone has ever heard of called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). It makes his skin extremely fragile, like butterfly wings. Recently, a second stem cell transplant was done. It is currently the only hope the 16-year-old has to lessen his excruciating pain. Jonathan’s story ... has inspired true change in others. That change is creating even more ripples after he threw his stone into the pond by bravely speaking out about his disease. You see, when he isn’t getting experimental treatment in the United States, Jonathan lives next door to singer-songwriter Tara Shannon. Tara ... wrote the song Butterfly Child that, together with TSN, helped propel Jonathan into the international spotlight. Across Canada and the United States, when being interviewed about her album, Tara now speaks about EB. She is doing what Jonathan wanted all along, to increase awareness about the disease and the need for research. Since releasing Butterfly Child, Tara joined the executive committee of Amazing People, which celebrates those doing great work in Ottawa while at the same time raising money for four charities. I think our Butterfly Child has created incredible change in our community simply by demonstrating what is possible when you don’t give up. Jonathan’s example has caused a ripple effect that is helping children he’s never even met, and he’s inspiring adults to do what needs to be done.

Note: Watch a touching video of this brave child and his conflicted life.


3D-printed homes turn sludge into shelter
2018-03-15, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43411581

More than a billion people in the world go to sleep each night without reliable shelter. But a pair of companies working on solving that believes their model of quickly 3D-printing a one-story house could not only provide merely a roof over the head, but a genuinely great place to live. I took a walk around a demonstration house ... built by Icon, a construction firm, and New Story, a non-profit that sets up housing in the developing world. Later this year, the project will head to El Salvador to build some test homes, with the view to begin work on a community of 100 houses in 2019. "If it does work it could literally change how shelter is created," said Brett Hagler, chief executive and co-founder of New Story. Like small-scale 3D-printing, the system works by slowly adding material, layer-by-layer. In this case, that material is mortar, similar to concrete. The El Salvador project will ... aim to build 100 homes, financed by mostly Silicon Valley-based donors. The houses will not be a hand-out, however. "The families agreed to a no-interest, no-profit mortgage that they will pay over about 10 years," explained Mr Hagler. That works out at about $30 a month. According to the country's economics ministry, the average monthly wage in rural El Salvador is around $360. "That money does not come back to us," he added. "It's kept in a community fund." The fund will go on to pay for more homes in future, or maintenance on existing structures. Mr Hagler said the mortgage model will foster "respect and dignity" within the community.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


China’s latest energy megaproject shows that coal really is on the way out
2018-03-19, San Francisco Chronicle/Business Insider
https://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/China-s-latest-ener...

According to a 2016 study, the top contributor of air pollution-related deaths in China is the burning of coal. To improve the country's air quality, the Chinese government vows to spend at least $360 billion on clean energy projects and create 13 million new renewable energy jobs by 2020. This year marks China's fourth anniversary since it started a "war on pollution," and there's reason to believe the country is making headway. Chinese cities have cut concentrations of fine particulates - often considered the deadliest type of pollution - by 32% on average since 2013. The city of Xingtai saw the largest pollution decline at 52.2%. China's latest energy megaproject - a giant floating solar farm on top of a former coal mine in Anhui - may get the country closer to that goal. The 166,000-panel array ... can generate 40 megawatts of power - enough to accommodate 15,000 homes. It's currently the world's largest floating solar project and will operate for up to 25 years. Local energy company Sungrow Power Supply developed the farm on a lake that was once the site of extensive coal mining. After an explosion caused the mine to collapse, a lake formed and flooded it. Building solar plants on top of lakes and reservoirs can protect agricultural land and wildlife on the ground. The water also cools the solar panels, helping them work more efficiently. Choosing to develop the Sungrow farm on an abandoned coal mine signals the slow decline of fossil fuels like coal in China and other countries around the world.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Kyle Maynard: one man’s life with no excuses
2014-03-21, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/culture/noah-movie/10706053/kyle-maynar...

Kyle Maynard, 27, was born with a rare condition called congenital amputation that left him without the lower parts of his arms or legs. It’s a disability that would, understandably, all but end most people’s potential for a normal life. Yet for the determined Atlanta native, this end was only the beginning. At 11, he played American football. At high school, he switched to wrestling. Around the same time, he bench-pressed 240lbs 23 times, earning the title World’s Strongest Teen from sports supplement company GNC. Shortly after, US sports broadcaster ESPN awarded Maynard its 2004 Espy for Best Athlete With A Disability, and fame followed. He ... appeared on Oprah and Larry King Live, and took his first of many bookings as a motivational speaker, all of which drew from experiences described in his ... autobiography No Excuses. And yet, in a keynote speech published on his own website, Maynard reflects on once feeling like a fraud. He tells of how, during a speaking tour, he looked at himself ... and knew, for the first time, he had started to believe what others said about him. Perhaps that’s why, in 2011, Kyle Maynard decided to scale Mount Kilimanjaro. And why on January 15, 2012, he became the first quadruple amputee to reach the roof of Africa without assistance, crawling all 19,340 feet on specially made soles. “When we take on a big goal, it’s always going to be difficult at first,” says Maynard in his website’s Speaking Intro video. “We forget that just showing up, and continuing to try, is going to get us there.”

Note: Watch an engaging video of this inspiring man.


The Power of Your Suffering is in How You Tell Your Story
2018-03-19, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/the-power-of-your-suffering-is-in-how-you-t...

Trauma is a word we hear used to describe a range of experiences. Author and journalist Aminatta Forna thinks the word is overused, and, in her Humble Opinion, it is time to find a new way of talking about terrible events. "My family has seen what feels like more than our share of painful, you might say traumatic, events," [said Forna]. "The murder of my father who was a political activist when I was 11, followed by 25 years of political oppression, 10 years of civil war and even an Ebola outbreak. "I’m often asked whether I was traumatized by events, and I have to answer, truthfully, no. Over the years, I have written a great deal about people who have managed to endure events with the power to ruin lives, and this is what I have learned. The more a society tells you that you are irrevocably damaged by what has taken place, the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The ability to shape your own narrative, rather than having others shape it for you, is ultimately what matters most. Almost any experience can be reshaped, any destiny re-imagined, if those who have lived it tell their own stories. People who frame their experience within a wider context are often most capable of withstanding painful events. They rarely ask, why me. But rather see the world for the capricious and unfair place it can be, and they have a vision of their role in it. Individual temperament matters, but societal attitudes play a considerable role in shaping our responses. The suffering is real, but it may yet be withstood."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Heated floors and pillow-top mattresses... in prison
2018-03-08, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/08/us/prison-reform-north-dakota-norway/index.html

Norway's prison system is designed with three core values in mind: normality, humanity and rehabilitation. The point of incarceration in Norway, they say, is to make inmates "better neighbors" once they are released - and they take that mission very seriously. In the US, prison is generally seen as punishment for crimes committed. But Norway might change that. In 2015, prison directors and lawmakers from North Dakota traveled to see Norway's prisons for themselves. The trip was part of a program that takes state officials to visit the country, which has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world. When the leaders returned, North Dakota slowly began making changes to its prison system. The move has been controversial with some prison staff. The changes called for different dynamics between inmates and corrections officers, causing one of them to leave over what he believed was a fundamental shift in their training. North Dakota's prison directors say the benefit in the long run - reducing the state's recidivism rate - is worth giving this new approach a chance. If the goal is to make them better neighbors, North Dakota inmate Jonathan McKinney says it's working. He spent more than two years in and out of solitary confinement during part of his 17-year sentence for murder and other serious charges. Because of Norway's influence, prison officials allowed him to transfer to medium security when he showed good behavior - a move that he would not have been able to make as easily before.

Note: Watch an incredible nine-minute video on the mind-boggling success of Norway's prison system.


Does Energy Healing Work? Watch 'Healer' Charlie Goldsmith And Decide For Yourself
2017-11-13, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/courtneyporkolab/2017/11/13/does-energy-healing-...

Does energy healing work? Charlie Goldsmith knows it does. The Australian energy healer, who reluctantly discovered his talent at the ripe age of 18, is now on a mission to take energy medicine mainstream. To date, Goldsmith has volunteered his time - and talents - to two scientific studies. In the first study, published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2015, he treated 50 reports of pain at a 76% success rate and 29 reports of non-pain problems at a 79% success rate. The study, conducted at NYU's Lutheran Hospital ... landed him a TV deal. The second is still underway. Prior to the studies done in the public eye, Goldsmith spent years healing as many as he could, often those who had been failed by countless doctors and traditional medicine. He has never once charged for his work. Dr. Ramsey Joudeh, from NYU's Lutheran Medical Center, attests to Goldsmith's miraculous healing powers: "Most of our narcotics decrease a patient's pain by three to five points. If you go from a 10, meaning the worst pain you can imagine, to five, that's significant. In some cases Charlie reduced a patient's pain from 10 to zero. He also treated people with infections where antibiotics were not effective. You could see the shift in a patient's status from stagnant to a rapid healing resolution. I can't quantify it, but I would say Charlie cuts off patients' hospital stays. Watching him work has been humbling in the most extreme way."

Note: See this miracle worker's website at https://www.charliegoldsmith.com.


California sun produces so much power that electricity prices turn negative
2017-04-11, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/california-sun-solar-power-e...

Electricity prices in [California] have begun turning negative on the main power exchange, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has revealed. Solar made up a record figure of nearly 40 per cent of the electricity sent to the grid in the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO’s) territory for a few hours on 11 March, after utility-scale solar farms grew by almost 50 per cent in 2016, the EIA said. Solar capacity in the state has grown rapidly in the last few years. There was less than one gigawatt in 2007, but nearly 14GW by the end of last year. At this time of year, the large amounts of sunlight and the relatively low demand can produce too much electricity around the middle of the day. “Electricity demand in California tends to peak during the summer months,” the EIA said. “However, in late winter and early spring, demand is at its annual minimum, but solar output, while not at its highest, is increasing as the days grow longer and the sun gets higher in the sky. “Consequently, power prices ... were substantially lower in March compared with other times of the year or even March of last year. System average hourly prices were frequently at or below $0 per megawatthour. In contrast, average hourly prices in March 2013–15 during this time of day ranged from $14/MWh to $45/MWh.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Psychedelic Psychotherapy Works
2018-03-01, Optimist Daily
https://www.optimistdaily.com/2018/03/why-psychedelic-psychotherapy-works/

In recent years, rigorous research has been conducted on entheogens, such as ayahuasca, LSD, mescaline and psilocybin, and on the empathogen Ecstasy. The goal is to evaluate their effects on addiction, cluster headaches, depression, trauma, cancer, epilepsy, death and dying, as well as to explore their value in the study of consciousness. Psilocybin - or magic mushrooms - have been used in traditional healing rituals for thousands of years. However, for more than 40 years it has been illegal in the U.S. But recent findings are tearing down the barriers surrounding psychedelic research, as it has been clinically shown that they have the ability to ease depression and soothe anxiety in patients dealing with serious illness and impending death. Two separate studies discovered that a single, moderate-to-large dose of psilocybin was able to help alleviate profound distress among cancer patients. Researchers know “how,” but they do not know “why,” psilocybin has worked in these settings. One theory is that psilocybin interrupts the circuitry of self-absorbed thinking that is so pronounced in depressed people, making way for a mystical experience. Neuro-imaging studies ... suggest that the positive effects of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy are explained by changes in something in the brain called “the default mode network.” It turns out that this network is hyperactive in depression. Interestingly, in both meditation and also with psilocybin this network becomes quiescent.

Note: See an article in the UK's Independent showing remarkable results from these studies. Learn more about the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs now being explored by the scientific community.


San Diego pays homeless people to pick up trash in new program
2018-02-27, Fox News
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/02/27/san-diego-pays-homeless-people-to-pick-u...

San Diego officials are putting homeless people back on the street - but this time to pay them to pick up trash as part of a new program that launched Monday. The homeless people, who are staying at the city’s tented shelters, will be cleaning up trash and clearing brush in downtown San Diego for five hours a day. The program, called Alpha’s Project’s “Wheels of Change,” will pay participants $11.50 an hour. [They are] expected to hold cleaning shifts three days a week. “This is all about creating more opportunities for homeless individuals to lift themselves out of extreme poverty,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “‘Wheels for Change’ will help restore dignity by allowing people to earn a paycheck and begin to get back on their feet. For many, this may be just the chance they need to begin turning their lives around.” Program participants will also receive access to housing resources. Homeless people [said] they liked the work. “It’s better than sitting in a tent all day,” Edwin Fisk ... said. “It gives us something to do, you know? And you make money. Who wouldn’t want to do that?” Nichole Hill, who has been homeless for 18 months, also said: “I get to give back to the community and have some extra money to get around.” The new program follows similar ones that were launched in Chicago, Denver and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where it was first implemented.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Holding hands can sync brainwaves, ease pain, study shows
2018-03-01, Science Daily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180301094822.htm

Reach for the hand of a loved one in pain and not only will your breathing and heart rate synchronize with theirs, your brain wave patterns will couple up too, according to a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study ... also found that the more empathy a comforting partner feels for a partner in pain, the more their brainwaves fall into sync. And the more those brain waves sync, the more the pain goes away. "We have developed a lot of ways to communicate in the modern world and we have fewer physical interactions," said lead author Pavel Goldstein. "This paper illustrates the power and importance of human touch." The study is the latest in a growing body of research exploring a phenomenon known as "interpersonal synchronization," in which people physiologically mirror the people they are with. It is the first to look at brain wave synchronization in the context of pain, and offers new insight into the role brain-to-brain coupling may play in touch-induced analgesia, or healing touch. Goldstein came up with the experiment after, during the delivery of his daughter, he discovered that when he held his wife's hand, it eased her pain. How exactly could coupling of brain activity with an empathetic partner kill pain? More studies are needed to find out, stressed Goldstein. But he and his co-authors offer a few possible explanations. Empathetic touch can make a person feel understood, which in turn -- according to previous studies -- could activate pain-killing reward mechanisms in the brain.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Can altruism exist without empathy? Lessons from the ant world
2018-02-20, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2018/0220/Can-altruism-exist-without-empath...

Named for a famed group of Bantu warriors, the Matabele ant is renowned as a fierce fighter. But the sub-Saharan termite-hunter also shows a caring side. Researchers have found that Megaponera analis, as scientists call it, will tend to the wounds of nest-mates. The only other animals that have been observed systematically treating others’ injuries are humans and some of our primate relatives. In other words, ants and humans share what biologists call a convergent trait: caring for another in need. The finding also informs a growing body of research aimed at fitting what we experience as moral sentiments into a larger pattern in nature. That such precisely directed helping behavior, as it is known, pops up in as distant a relative as the ant belies some popular notions of Darwinian evolution, which characterize natural selection as promoting only selfish behavior. While it’s true that competition both among and within species plays a major role in shaping the evolution of biological traits, it’s not nature’s only driving force. “If you bring people together, the first thing they want to do is cooperate,” says Dr. de Waal, the author of several books on morality and empathy in nonhuman animals. “Now we know from all sorts of studies ... that actually all of the mammals are a bit like that. The first tendency is to help.” People, being the intelligent, social mammals that we are, like to frame helping in terms of morality. But ants appear to demonstrate “helping behavior without morality,” says [biologist] Erik Frank.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How one US state saved $240 million in health care spending
2018-03-01, Quartz
https://qz.com/1218748/how-one-us-state-saved-240-million-in-health-care-spen...

Investment in primary care results in savings in overall health care spending. This has been empirically proven in the state of Oregon. Health care spending in the United States in 2016 was $3.4 trillion, or 17.8% of GDP. By the year 2025, spending in the US is expected to reach 19.9% of GDP. What are we getting in return for spending more money on health care than any other developed nation in the world? Not much. Our health outcomes leave much to be desired. Why? Health care spending in the US generally promotes utilization of services - apart from outcomes - as opposed to effective, proactive, whole-person care. There is a better way. In 2009, the Oregon legislature established the Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH) program. As of the writing of this article, there are over 600 clinics in Oregon with PCPCH recognition. The foundation of the PCPCH model consists of 6 Core Attributes that promote care which is: accessible, accountable, comprehensive, continuous, coordinated, and patient- and family-centered. What has been achieved since implementation of the PCPCH program in Oregon? A multi-year study from Portland State University [found] $240 million in savings in the first three years of the program. Every $1 increase in spending in primary care resulted in $13 in savings in overall spending.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Sweden’s recycling is so revolutionary, the country has run out of rubbish
2016-12-08, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/sweden-s-recycling-is-so-revolutiona...

Sweden is so good at recycling that, for several years, it has imported rubbish from other countries to keep its recycling plants going. Less than 1 per cent of Swedish household waste was sent to landfill last year or any year since 2011. “We worked on communications for a long time to make people aware not to throw things outdoors so that we can recycle and reuse,” says Anna-Carin Gripwall, director of communications for Avfall Sverige, the Swedish Waste Management’s recycling association. Over time, Sweden has implemented a cohesive national recycling policy so that even though private companies undertake most of the business of importing and burning waste, the energy goes into a national heating network to heat homes through the freezing Swedish winter. “That’s a key reason that we have this district network, so we can make use of the heating from the waste plants. In the southern part of Europe they don’t make use of the heating from the waste, it just goes out the chimney. Here we use it as a substitute for fossil fuel,” Ms Gripwell says. She describes Sweden’s policy of importing waste to recycle from other countries as a temporary situation. “There’s a ban on landfill in EU countries, so instead of paying the fine they send it to us as a service. They should and will build their own plants, to reduce their own waste, as we are working hard to do in Sweden,” Ms Gripwall says.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Incredible device that generates electricity out of thin air by harvesting energy from changes in temperature
2018-02-27, Daily Mail
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5440613/Incredible-device-gene...

A miraculous device that can generate electricity seemingly out of thin air has been developed by engineers. Called a thermal resonator, it relies on fluctuations in temperature between day and night to produce electricity. It can be used without the need for sunlight, batteries or wind, making it ideal for situations where these resources can't be relied upon. The technology has the potential to power sensors and communications devices for years without the need for batteries. Experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) department of chemical engineering are behind the find. Their gadget is a twist on a thermoelectric generator, which creates power when one side of the device is a different temperature from the other. Researchers say that the power levels generated by the new system so far are modest. However, it outperformed a commercially available pyroelectric material - an existing method for converting temperature fluctuations to electricity - by 300 per cent. Professor Michael Strano, who led the study, said: 'We basically invented this concept out of whole cloth. 'It's something that can sit on a desk and generate energy out of what seems like nothing. 'We are surrounded by temperature fluctuations of all different frequencies all of the time. These are an untapped source of energy.' Such systems could provide low-power but long-lasting energy sources for landers or rovers exploring remote locations, including other moons and planets, says Volodymyr Koman, an MIT postdoc and co-author of the new study.

Note: For more, see this article on the MIT website.


Urban farmers grow veggies in freight containers
2017-03-21, USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2017/03/21/urban-farming-growin...

The future of urban agriculture might require farmers to think inside the box. Farmers ... are growing vegetables here in converted freight shipping containers equipped with the latest hydroponics and automated systems equipment. They are provided by a Boston-based firm, Freight Farm. Freight Farms started in 2010 with the goal of bringing viable, space-efficient farming techniques to all climates and skill levels year-round. It recently expanded to Arizona. [Mark] Norton of Picked Fresh Farms isn’t what most people would picture as a farmer. The closest anyone has come to farming in his family was his grandfather, who farmed as a child, but that didn’t deter Norton. “If I can get a better environment, better food, help people with their food, and still help people with their health, that’s where it all fits,” Norton said. “It aligns with my core values.” He recently had one of his first successful harvests of lettuce, but he’s already looking to the future, with a 10-year goal to expand to 10 containers. In a year, [each] 320-square-foot container can produce the equivalent of a three-acre farm. It also saves water, using ... 95% less than traditional farms. The water is delivered in a nutrient-rich system based on hydroponics, a method to grow plants without soil. Norton prides himself in using no GMOs, no pesticides and no herbicides. The environment is controlled, so there’s no reason for it. The container can put out 50 to 100 pounds of lettuce a week.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


These Are The World’s Greenest Cities
2018-02-27, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-renewable-cities/

Cities around the globe are going green. Over 100 cities from Addis Ababa to Auckland use more than 70 percent renewables in their energy mix, according to CDP research. The places where populations are at their most dense and pollution is at its highest are doing their bit to battle rising global temperatures by turning to hydro, geothermal, solar and wind to keep the lights on. Since the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees, city leaders have improved their environmental reporting and set firm emissions reductions targets, CDP said. In the U.S. 58 cities and towns, including Atlanta and San Diego, have committed to move to 100 percent clean energy. Meanwhile Burlington, Vermont, claims to be the first city in the country to get its energy from entirely renewable sources. Only a handful of the more than 100 North American cities that reported their energy mix to CDP use at least 70 percent renewable energy, while a majority of Latin American cities that reported passed that threshold. “Many cities in the developing world have capitalized on their local natural resources. This pioneering activity has largely been driven by local economic needs and political will,” said Kyra Appleby, director of cities at CDP.

Note: An interactive map of the world's greenest cities is available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A carbon tax killed coal in the UK. Natural gas is next.
2018-02-01, Quartz
https://qz.com/1192753/a-carbon-tax-killed-coal-in-the-uk-natural-gas-is-next/

In 2012, the UK ranked 20th out of a list of 33 rich countries in terms of low-carbon electricity use. In 2017, it jumped to 7th. No other country has ever climbed up the rankings so quickly. How did the UK manage it? It imposed a carbon tax. The carbon tax, or the carbon floor price as policymakers refer to it, was introduced in 2013. It stands at Ł18 ($25) per ton of carbon dioxide emitted in producing electricity. As a member of the EU’s emissions trading scheme (for now), UK electricity providers also pay a market-based price for carbon credits, which is about Ł5 per ton of CO2. After the tax was introduced, it became much more expensive to burn coal, which produces about twice the emissions per unit of energy as natural gas. The carbon floor price only applies at the point of generation. That means, only UK producers are required to pay it. In normal conditions, this would mean that the interconnectors would have been able to include bids from cheaper dirty fossil fuel generation outside the UK. As it happens, however, France, Norway, and Belgium generate a very high proportion of electricity from low-carbon sources. Even the Netherlands, which only gets 15% of its electricity from renewable sources, can provide a lot of low-carbon electricity on windier days. With the carbon floor price probably set to increase after 2020, the clear direction the UK’s electricity market is headed is away from fossil fuels.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Computer Uses Light—Not Electricity—To Train AI Algorithms
2018-02-20, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/this-computer-uses-lightnot-electricityto-train-a...

William Andregg ushers me into the cluttered workshop of his startup Fathom Computing. Inside [a bulky black box is] a prototype computer that processes data using light, not electricity, and it’s learning to recognize handwritten digits. In other experiments the device learned to generate sentences in text. Andregg claims this is the first time such complex machine-learning software has been trained using circuits that pulse with laser light, not electricity. The company is working to shrink its [prototype], which covers a few square feet of workbench, to fit into a standard cloud server. Fathom hopes the technology will become one of the shovels of the artificial-intelligence gold rush. Tech companies, particularly large cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft, spend heavily on computer chips to power machine-learning algorithms. Fathom’s founders are betting this hunger for more powerful machine learning will outstrip the capabilities of purely electronic computers. “Optics has fundamental advantages over electronics,” says William Andregg. You’re already reaping the benefits of using light instead of electricity to work with data. Telecommunications companies move our web pages and selfies over long distances by shooting lasers down optical fiber. Optical computers aren’t likely to power your laptop or smartphone any time soon. Fathom’s prototype is still too bulky, for one thing. But the technology does look to be a decent match for the main work that chips perform in AI projects based on artificial neural networks.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Homeboy Humility: Growing Stronger And Better By Listening
2017-12-21, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbaldoni/2017/12/21/homeboy-humility-growing-...

If you want to help, you first need to listen. That is a philosophy that Father Greg Boyle, S.J., founder of Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles, employs. “If you're humble, you'll ask the poor, what would help you? But if you're led by hubris, then you tell the poor, here's what your problem is; here's how you fix yourself.” Homeboy Industries was founded more than 30 years ago as a means of providing employment to gang members in East LA. Few businesses would hire ex-gang members so Fr. Greg, Jesuit pastor of the Dolores Mission the poorest mission in the LA archdiocese, created a business to provide those jobs. Today Homeboy serves not just the neighborhood but all of Los Angeles County with its restaurants, coffee shops, bakery and even a tattoo removal clinic. “Homeboy has ... listened to the formerly gang-involved.” It asks the question: “what can we do that is concretely helpful?” Fr. Greg [said] on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” No one likes to be told how to get better; they want to participate in the process. That begins with conversation, a discovery of what the other is feeling and how he or she can help in his own improvement. Often the best answers come from the people you serve, as it does with Homeboy Industries. Its tattoo removal clinic came about because ex-gang members wanted to remove tattoos no longer relevant to their current lives, and which in some instances may prevent them from getting hired. Removing a tattoo is a long and painful process but it can serve as a kind of rebirth.

Note: Watch an inspiring video on this program which has transformed the lives of thousands of gang members. Readers interested in learning more about Father Greg Boyle and his work can check out his new memoir, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship.


Homeboy Industries' business model: A way out of gang life
2013-09-05, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/us/gang-rehabilitation-program/index.html

There are few people who can say their job saved them, but former gang member Rafael Jimenez says he's one of them. "If I wasn't working here I'd be on the streets looking for problems or, even worse, selling drugs," Jimenez told CNN en Espańol. The 44-year-old works as a baker at Homeboy Bakery, part of Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles, the largest gang rehabilitation program in the country. The program was founded in 1992 by Father Greg Boyle, who has counseled and mentored thousands of gang members. This month marks Jimenez's one-year anniversary of getting off of drugs and out of the 4th Street Flats gang in East L.A. "I knew if I kept going at it, I would be dead or in jail. I can't believe I wasted all that time," Jimenez said. "And, now I'm baking pastries with rivals that I would've never spoken to just last year." Homeboy Industries' program has been so successful that other gang rehabilitation programs around the country are now looking to them as a model. Ex-gang member Mario Lundes, weary of being in and out of jail, decided to make a positive change and seek out a regular job. But extensive tattoo removal from his forehead, cheeks and neck -- a service Homeboy Industries offers -- would be a vital part of the process. Homeboy Industries has helped thousands of high-risk youths with a variety of free programs: mental health counseling, GED classes, job training and legal services. The program's motto: "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."

Note: Watch an inspiring video on this program which has transformed the lives of thousands of gang members.


'Calls From Home': How one Kentucky radio station connects inmates and families
2018-02-09, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2018/0209/Calls-From-Home-How-one-Kentu...

Tom Sexton leans forward into a microphone. “Coming up by request,” he says in a softened-for-radio Appalachian drawl, “going out to Sporty Black from his wife, this is Kendrick Lamar with ‘LOVE.’ ” The melodic R&B track then begins to emanate from the heart of this small eastern Kentucky town. Tonight’s shows are targeted for a very specific audience. People like “Sporty Black.” More than 5,000 men are incarcerated in the six federal and state prisons in the broadcasting range of WMMT. Every week, for almost 20 years, the station has produced a show called “Calls From Home” that broadcasts recorded messages from the inmates’ friends and family members. WMMT bills itself as “a 24 hour voice of mountain people,” and as far as the station is concerned, if the inmates can tune in, then they are mountain people too. “They’re here and part of our communities,” says Elizabeth Sanders, WMMT’s co-general manager. “Anything we can do to help make the barriers between them and their families a little bit less, then we’re fulfilling part of our mission as the radio station here,” she adds. The show has become something of a national phenomenon. Every Monday night calls flood in to the station. Some of the calls come with children discussing a report card, a “happy birthday” rendition, or more somber family news. The costs of calling prisons directly ... have been rising for years, reaching in excess of $10 a minute. “Having a toll-free number can help families keep in touch a little bit more,” says Sanders.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Patagonia Steps Up Environmental Activism With 'Dating Site' For Grassroots Projects
2018-02-07, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/melissaanders/2018/02/07/patagonia-steps-up-envi...

Things are so bad for the planet right now that it’s easy to get depressed about it, says Patagonia Inc. founder Yvon Chouinard. The cure for that depression, he says, is action. So he launched Patagonia Action Works, which ... connects individuals with opportunities to support and get involved with grassroots environmental groups. It matches people with events and volunteering opportunities in their area as well as petitions they can sign and ways to donate money. Participating organizations cover issues of land, water, climate, communities and biodiversity. The Ventura, Calif.-based outdoor clothing retailer is no stranger to activism. It has given $89 million in cash and in-kind donations to environmental groups since 1985 as part of a pledge to donate at least 1% of sales to preserve and restore nature. “Patagonia’s reason for existence is to force government and corporations to take action in solving our environmental problems,” Chouinard said in a video promoting the new program. The company made headlines recently for taking a stand against President Donald Trump’s action to reduce the size of two national monuments. Patagonia’s latest move comes as a number of other companies delve into the politically charged realm of activism, including Tiffany and Co., which urged Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate Agreement, and REI, which also spoke out against the shrinking of public lands.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Safe, happy and free: does Finland have all the answers?
2018-02-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/12/safe-happy-and-free-does-finlan...

Western Europe’s last naturally caused famine ended 150 years ago. In ... Finland, more than a quarter of a million people – nearly 10% of the population – starved to death. Last year ... Finland was ranked, by assorted international indices, the most stable, the safest and the best-governed country in the world. It was also the third wealthiest, the third least corrupt, the second most socially progressive and the third most socially just. Finland’s judicial system is the most independent in the world, its police the most trusted, its banks the soundest, its companies the second most ethical, its elections the second freest, and its citizens enjoy the highest levels of personal freedom, choice and wellbeing. The Nordic country’s 5.5 million inhabitants are also the third most gender-equal in the world and have the fifth lowest income inequality. Their babies are the least underweight, their kids feel the most secure, and their teens perform the second best at reading (only third at science, though). In a century and a half, they seem to have done rather well. The magic sauce ... seems based mainly on basic virtues: self-confidence, cooperation, equality, respect for education, trust. At bottom and in practice, says [Finnish journalist] Anu Partanen ... it boils down to a different quality of relationship. She calls it ... the Nordic theory of love. “In a society, it means policy choices aimed at ensuring the greatest possible degree of independence, freedom and opportunity for everyone.”

Note: Watch this 10-minute video about how Finland completely turned around it's education system to become #1 in the world, largely by cutting out homework. The above article is part of an inspiring new Guardian series investigating the things that are going right in the world.


Orcas can imitate human speech, research reveals
2018-01-30, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jan/31/orcas-killer-whales-can-imita...

New research reveals that orcas are able to imitate human speech, in some cases at the first attempt, saying words such as “hello”, “one, two” and “bye bye”. The creatures are already known for their ability to copy the movements of other orcas, with some reports suggesting they can also mimic the sounds of bottlenose dolphins and sea lions. “We wanted to see how flexible a killer whale can be in copying sounds,” said [study co-author] Josep Call. “We thought what would be really convincing is to present them with something that is not in their repertoire – and in this case ‘hello’ [is] not what a killer whale would say.” Only a fraction of the animal kingdom can mimic human speech, with brain pathways and vocal apparatus both thought to determine whether it is possible. “That is what makes it even more impressive – even though the morphology [of orcas] is so different, they can still produce a sound that comes close to what another species, in this case us, can produce,” said Call. Wikie, a 14-year-old female orca ... had previously been trained to copy actions performed by another orca when given a human gesture. After first brushing up Wikie’s grasp of the “copy” command, she was ... exposed to five orca sounds she had never heard before. Finally, Wikie was exposed to a human making three of the orca sounds, as well as six human sounds. Wikie was often quickly able to copy the sounds, whether from an orca or a human, with all of the novel noises mimicked within 17 trials.

Note: Learn more about the amazing world of marine mammals.


Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious?
2018-02-02, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/science/plants-consciousness-anesthesia.html

Your houseplant salutes the sun each morning. At night, it returns to center. You probably don’t think much of it. But what about all the signs of plant intelligence that have been observed? Under poor soil conditions, the pea seems to be able to assess risk. The sensitive plant can make memories and learn. And plants can communicate with one another and with caterpillars. Now, a study published recently in Annals of Botany has shown that plants can be frozen in place with a range of anesthetics, including the types that are used when you undergo surgery. Insights gleaned from the study may help doctors better understand the variety of anesthetics used in surgeries. But the research also highlights that plants are ... perhaps less different from animals than is often assumed. “Plants are not just robotic, stimulus-response devices,” said [study co-author] Frantisek Baluska, a plant cell biologist. Plants ... take in information from their environment and produce their own anesthetics like menthol, ethanol and cocaine, similar to how humans release chemicals that dull pain during trauma. Our anesthetics work on plants too, the study confirmed, although what exactly they’re working on is unclear. The electrical activity that moves across neurons is thought by some scientists to contribute to human consciousness. If electrical activity is being disrupted by anesthetic in plants, too, causing them to “lose consciousness,” does that mean, in some way, that they are conscious?

Note: Don't miss a time-lapse video of a pea plant responding to an anesthetic at the link above. And check out a fascinating video of plants making music. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Iceland’s new PM is a 41-year-old anti-war feminist and environmentalist
2017-02-02, Metro.co.uk
http://metro.co.uk/2017/12/02/icelands-new-pm-is-a-41-year-old-anti-war-femin...

Iceland’s new prime minister is a 41-year-old anti-war feminist, democratic socialist, who is also an expert on crime literature. Katrin Jakobsdottir plans to make the small island nation a world-leader in fighting climate change. Her Left-Green Movement will lead a coalition government with two parties across the political spectrum in the hope it gives Iceland some ‘stability’. The country has been rocked by a cycle of scandals that have triggered three elections in the past four years. A snap election was called by former PM Bjarni Benediktsson in September over a furore caused by his father suggesting a paedophile who repeatedly raped his stepdaughter for 12 years should have his ‘honour restored’. Less than a year earlier, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped aside as prime minister amid public fury over the Panama Papers revealing his family had sheltered money in offshore tax havens. In an attempt to break with the past, Jakobsdottir campaigned on a platform of restoring trust in government and leveraged a boom in tourism to increase public spending. She is now among the world’s youngest leaders. Jakobsdottir’s cabinet will be comprised of three members of her Left-Green party, five from the right-wing Independence Party and three from the Progressive Party. ‘In the new government, parties spanning the political spectrum from left to right intend to establish a new tone,’ a statement issued by the new prime minister’s office said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Doctors in Denmark want to stop circumcision for under-18s
2016-12-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/denmark-considering-banning-ci...

Boys should not be circumcised until they are old enough to choose for themselves, doctors in Denmark have said. The Danish Medical Association said it had considered suggesting a legal ban on the procedure for children under the age of 18, because it believed circumcision should be “an informed, personal choice” that young men make for themselves. When parents have their sons circumcised, it robs boys of the ability to make decisions about their own bodies ... the organisation said. Lise Mřller, chair of the Doctors' Association Ethics Board, said it was wrong to deny an individual the right to choose whether or not they wanted to be circumcised. The organisation said that because male circumcision is not without risk it should only be performed on children when there is a documented medical need. The doctors stopped short of calling for an all-out legal ban on the procedure, which is currently allowed but remains relatively rare in Denmark, because it said the move could have too many negative consequences. “We have discussed it thoroughly, also in our ethics committee," Ms Mřller said. "We came to the conclusion that it is difficult to predict the consequences of a ban – both for the involved boys, who could for example face bullying or unauthorised procedures with complications – and for the cultural and religious groups they belong to." The Danish Health and Medicines Authority estimates that somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 circumcisions are performed in Denmark each year.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness
2018-01-26, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/nyregion/at-yale-class-on-happiness-draws-...

A few days after registration opened at Yale for Psyc 157, Psychology and the Good Life, roughly 300 people had signed up. Within [six] more days, about 1,200 students, or nearly one-fourth of Yale undergraduates, were enrolled. The course, taught by Laurie Santos ... tries to teach students how to lead a happier, more satisfying life in twice-weekly lectures. “Students want to change, to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus,” Dr. Santos said in an interview. “If we see good habits, things like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections, we’re actually seeding change in the school’s culture.” A 2013 report by the Yale College Council found that more than half of undergraduates sought mental health care from the university during their time there. “A lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb,” said Alannah Maynez, 19, a freshman taking the course. “The fact that a class like this has such large interest speaks to how tired students are of numbing their emotions - both positive and negative - so they can focus on their work.” Psychology and the Good Life ... stands as the most popular course in Yale’s 316-year history. Dr. Santos has encouraged all students to enroll in the course on a pass-fail basis, tying into her argument that the things Yale undergraduates often connect with life satisfaction - a high grade, a prestigious internship, a good-paying job - do not increase happiness at all.

Note: Harvard, Stanford and other colleges are getting in on the action, too, as reported in this article.


Free cash for everyone? Stockton, Calif.'s mayor plans to see if it works
2017-10-27, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/27/news/economy/stockton-universal-basic-income/...

Growing up in Stockton, California, a little extra money would've meant the world to Michael Tubbs' family. Tubbs' mother worked long hours ... and still had to borrow from check cashing places to get by. "If we had $300 a month, life would be less stressful," Tubbs says. Today, Tubbs is Stockton's 27-year-old mayor. Last week, he announced the launch of an experimental program that will give people like his mom about $500 a month, with no strings attached. Stockton will likely become the first city in the nation to test out a version of universal basic income, an economic system that would regularly provide all residents enough money to cover basic expenses, with no conditions or restrictions. The concept of universal basic income - or UBI - has been around for decades. Martin Luther King advocated for it in 1967 to create a minimum standard of living. Up until recently, it has mostly been a subject of discussion among academics. But universal basic income has started to gain traction as poverty has grown and fears of automation killing jobs have mounted. Large-scale trials began this year in Finland and Canada to test whether the program improves outcomes like health and employment. A ... non-profit called the Economic Security Project has committed $1 million to the Stockton effort, with funding from donors that include Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Backers hope larger cities and states will eventually adopt universal basic income programs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Chile creates national parks from donated land
2018-01-30, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-42868690

Chile has officially designated a national park network including land privately donated by a US couple. The government signed a deal with Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, who worked with late husband Doug for decades to protect areas of Patagonia. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet called the signing an "unprecedented preservation effort". Tompkins Conservation, the not-for-profit organisation set up by the couple, said the area being protected was roughly the size of Switzerland. Their donation is thought to be the largest of land by private owners to a country. The move will create five new national parks, and expand three others. In total it adds about 10 million acres of land, about one tenth of which was donated by the Tompkins. The Chilean government wants the string of national parks to span a tourist route of more than 1,500 miles (2,400km) across the country. Mrs Tompkins was formerly the CEO of outdoor brand Patagonia, and her husband was one of the founders of outdoor brands The North Face and Espirit. They relocated to Chile in 1994 to work on conservation, buying up land to ecologically preserve as wilderness. Kristine Tompkins signed an agreement with the national government in March 2017, following her husband's accidental death. Monday's designation was the latest act of natural protection by the outgoing Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. In 2017 an area off the coast of Easter Island was designated as one of the world's largest marine protection zones.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


What it's like to live in a well-governed country
2018-01-08, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180107-what-its-like-to-live-in-a-well-gove...

What makes a country well-run? Whether minimising corruption or spearheading educational and medical initiatives, governments around the world use different policies to facilitate a high-functioning society. To quantify the effectiveness of these policies, indexes like the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, the World Bank’s Governance Index and the Social Progress Index survey residents, compile publicly available statistics and rank countries based on their performance across different categories. Certain patterns emerge across all three, with the same countries consistently at the top for their progressive social policies, trust in government and effective justice system. Denmark inches out its neighbours (and blows away the rest of the world) with near-perfect scores on the ‘Basic Human Needs’ ranking in the 2017 Social Progress Index, which includes meeting the nutritional and medical needs of its citizens and giving access to basic knowledge and communication. These benefits are offered to more than just native-born residents. “The general health and social system is well-developed and accessible to anyone living in Denmark, and as a student you can get financial assistance and free language classes,” explained German native Anne Steinbach. The social system also relies on a sense of trust, rather than paperwork. While life in Denmark can be expensive compared to other European countries, with the highest collective taxes in the EU to pay for these services, the benefits outweigh the costs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Pineapple Fund: why is an anonymous bitcoin millionaire giving away $86m?
2017-12-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/24/pineapple-fund-anonymous-b...

What would you do if you had $86m? It’s a welcome dilemma for some of bitcoin’s early adopters thanks to the cryptocurrency’s meteoric rise. One generous bitcoiner has decided to follow the lead of Bill Gates and establish a philanthropic purse, the Pineapple Fund. The founder, known only as Pine, declared in mid December “I’m donating 5,057 BTC to charitable causes!” and since then has given away $7,550,000 in bitcoin to charities and causes around the world, with a view to dispersing the remaining bitcoin over the next several months. “I’m happy that I can help change the world for the better,” Pine says in a phone conversation on condition of anonymity. The nine recipients of the largest bitcoin charitable donations are a collection of nonprofits including medical researchers, those providing poverty-stricken communities with basic necessities, and technology-related causes. “The $1m donation will support the work we do standing up for user privacy and free expression, and defending civil rights in the digital world,” [says a spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation]. The collection of charities also includes Watsi, a platform committed to taking the US towards universal healthcare, the SENS Research Foundation that works to develop cures for degenerative diseases, and the Water Project which helps to establish safe water sources in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another $1m gift will help fund advanced clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Note: For more on this awesome donor, see this CNBC article and this one from Newsweek.


Some Things About Tech Were Good in 2017. No, Really.
2017-12-27, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/27/technology/tech-roundup-2017.html

For much of Silicon Valley, 2017 felt like a nonstop parade of scandal. As many of Silicon Valley’s largest companies were wreaking havoc, numerous people and organizations used technology to advance important causes and address large-scale problems. These projects do not always make headlines, but they show what’s possible when technologists use their powers for good. So I’m presenting the first-ever Actually Good Tech Awards, to highlight a handful of tech efforts that produced real societal benefits this year. ESight and Aira ... are taking advantage of recent advances in mobile and imaging technology to help visually impaired people navigate the world. These technologies do not yet allow blind people to drive vehicles or perform other complicated tasks, but they can make their everyday life much easier. Tiffani Ashley Bell ... learned that thousands of low-income residents of Detroit were having their running water shut off because of unpaid bills. So she [set up] an online platform that matched willing donors with Detroit households with unpaid water bills. In 2017, the [nonprofit organization, now known as the Human Utility] paid more than $120,000 toward water bills for nearly 300 families. Bail Bloc ... is an app that uses your computer’s spare processing power to produce a cryptocurrency called Monero, which is [then] donated to the Bronx Freedom Fund, an organization that helps pay bail fees for low-income New Yorkers who have been charged with misdemeanors, so that they can get out of jail while they await trial.

Note: Don't miss the complete list of "Actually Good Tech Awards" recipients at the link above.


New Jersey’s New Governor Outlines Plans, Signs Executive Order Promoting Equal Pay For Women
2018-01-16, CBS (Philadelphia affiliate)
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2018/01/16/phil-murphy-to-take-oath/

One-time Wall Street financier Phil Murphy became New Jersey’s 56th governor in a ceremony at the Trenton War Memorial, complete with a traditional 21-gun salute. The new governor wasted little time in getting to work. Murphy’s first act? Signing an executive order promoting equal pay for women. It’s just part of the change Murphy promised to the people of the state. “They voted to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for every New Jersey family,” the governor said, “and they elected a governor and a lieutenant governor and a legislature with a duty to carry out this promise.” Murphy’s half-hour address hit on all the major themes of the campaign that led him to this moment, providing a better break for all of New Jersey’s 9 million people. That includes everything from requiring the wealthy to pay more in taxes to improving jobs and education, and, yes, legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The governor also noted the diversity of his administration, from the first black woman to serve as lieutenant governor in Sheila Oliver to the first Sikh to be appointed attorney general anywhere in America.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Half of all new cars in Norway are now electric or hybrid
2017-03-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/norway-half-new-cars-electric...

Norway said that electric or hybrid cars represented half of new registrations in the country so far in 2017, as Norway continues its trend towards becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries in the world. According to figures from the Road Traffic Information Council (OFV) ... sales of electric cars accounted for 17.6 per cent of new vehicle registrations in January and hybrid cars accounted for 33.8 per cent, for a combined 51.4 per cent. Norway already has the highest per capita number of all-electric cars in the world. The milestone is also particularly significant as a large proportion of Norway’s funds rely on the country’s petroleum industry. "This is a milestone on Norway's road to an electric car fleet," Climate and Environment minister Vidar Helgesen [said]. “The transport sector is the biggest challenge for climate policy in the decade ahead. We need to reduce (CO2) emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030," he added. Last year, the government agreed on a proposal to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered car starting in 2025. It also aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of new cars to 85 grams per kilometre by 2020 - a goal it has almost achieved: : the figure stood at 88 grams in February compared to 133 grams when the decision was taken five years ago. In December, Norway registered its 100,000th electric car. Norway has also become the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation.

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The EU Targets Plastic Waste as it Aims to Make All Packaging Recyclable by 2030
2018-01-17, Fortune
http://fortune.com/2018/01/17/eu-pushes-plastic-recycling/

European Union regulators declared a new policy agenda Tuesday starting with the goal that all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable or reusable by 2030. The European Commission appears to be scrambling to curb plastic usage and increase recycling after China announced it would no longer accept imports of “foreign garbage” starting in 2018. The urgent goal is part of a plan to develop a new, sustainable “plastic economy,” which could potentially involve levying taxes and modernizing plastics production to kickstart a behavior change, the European Commission said. Europeans produce 25 million tons of plastic waste annually, but less than 30% of it is currently recycled. “If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans” Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for sustainable development, said. Brussels is zeroing in on single-use plastics in particular, hoping to reduce if not eliminate items like straws, bottles that do not degrade, coffee cups, lids and stirrers, cutlery and takeaway containers. “Single-use plastics ... take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again,” Timmermans said. In addition to promoting consumer education, the commission said it will facilitate easy access to tap water throughout Europe in order to reduce the demand for bottled water.

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Iceland becomes first supermarket to go 'plastic-free' for own brand products in landmark announcement
2018-01-15, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/iceland-plastic-free-packagin...

Iceland has become the first major retailer to commit to eliminating plastic packaging for all its own brand products. The retailer said it would be replacing plastic with packaging including paper and pulp trays and paper bags. Iceland said it ... aimed to complete the move by the end of 2023. It has already removed plastic disposable straws from its own label range and new food ranges set to hit the shelves in early 2018 will use paper-based rather than plastic food trays. A survey for Iceland revealed overwhelming public support for a shift away from plastic by retailers, with 80% of 5,000 people polled saying they would endorse a supermarket's move to go plastic-free. Iceland managing director, Richard Walker, said: "The world has woken up to the scourge of plastics. "A truckload is entering our oceans every minute causing untold damage to our marine environment and ultimately humanity - since we all depend on the oceans for our survival. The onus is on retailers, as leading contributors to plastic packaging pollution and waste, to take a stand and deliver meaningful change." As it was technologically and practically possible to create less environmentally harmful alternatives, "there really is no excuse any more for excessive packaging that creates needless waste and damages our environment", he added. Last week, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years as part of the government's environmental strategy, with calls for supermarkets to introduce "plastic-free" aisles.

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Why incoming asteroids shouldn't keep you up at night
2017-12-11, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2017/1211/Why-incoming-asteroids-shouldn-t-...

Every once in awhile, as we Earthlings strive to explore the cosmos, we’re reminded that bits of the cosmos occasionally visit Earth, too. One such reminder came in the form of a blazing green fireball streaking across the predawn New Jersey sky earlier this month. Police dashcam footage ... shows a meteor plunging into the Earth's atmosphere and exploding in a brilliant flash. On Nov. 9 ... an asteroid designated 2017 VL2 came within 75,000 miles of Earth. Despite news reports that the asteroid ... carried enough energy to obliterate New York City, the asteroid – the 48th known one to pass within the moon's orbit this year so far – would have actually burned up in the atmosphere, causing little, if any, damage. “The most important message to get across is that asteroid impacts are extremely unlikely,” Paul Chodas, manager for the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. In 1998, Congress mandated that NASA find 90 percent of asteroids more than 1 kilometer wide. NASA met this goal in 2011, but in the meantime, Congress expanded its mission to include include 90 percent of asteroids 450 feet or larger. Scientists say they have detected about a third of these so far. The bigger the asteroid, the lower the chance of impact: The odds of an asteroid 1 kilometer wide hitting Earth in any given year are 1 in about 500,000, and even an object 450 feet wide has just a 1-in-30,000 chance of impact.

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New York City records fewest murders, lowest crime rate in decades
2018-01-05, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/US/york-city-records-fewest-murders-lowest-crime-rate/s...

New York City ended the year with the fewest murders and the lowest crime figures in decades, the mayor and the NYPD said Friday. There were 290 murders in the nation's largest city in 2017, compared to 335 killings the previous year, said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a news conference. “No one believed it was possible to get under 300 murders,” de Blasio said. The murder rate is a far cry from 1990, when 2,245 people were killed in the city. The numbers of other crimes - shootings, robberies, burglaries and grand larcenies auto - also dropped, officials said. “To see crime levels as low as we have today, you’d have to go back to 1951, when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn and a slice was 15 cents,” de Blasio added. Overall, 2017 was the fourth straight year of declines in crime in New York City. According to NYPD records there were 96,517 crimes reported last year, compared with 102,052 in 2016, a drop of 5.4 percent.

Note: Major media consistently under-reports the remarkable drop in crime in the US. In 1990, there were nearly twice as many reported violent crimes as there were in 2016.


Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History
2018-01-06, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/06/opinion/sunday/2017-progress-illiteracy-po...

2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity. A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before. The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell. We journalists focus on bad news - we cover planes that crash, not those that take off - but the backdrop of global progress may be the most important development in our lifetime. Every day, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by 217,000, according to ... Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs a website called Our World in Data. Every day, 325,000 more people gain access to electricity. And 300,000 more gain access to clean drinking water. As recently as the 1960s, a majority of humans had always been illiterate and lived in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 15 percent are illiterate, and fewer than 10 percent live in extreme poverty. In another 15 years, illiteracy and extreme poverty will be mostly gone. After thousands of generations, they are pretty much disappearing on our watch. Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychology professor, explores the gains in a terrific book due out next month, “Enlightenment Now,” in which he recounts the progress across a broad array of metrics, from health to wars, the environment to happiness, equal rights to quality of life.

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It's Now Illegal to Pay Men More Than Women in Iceland
2018-01-02, Fortune
http://fortune.com/2018/01/02/illegal-to-pay-men-more-than-women-iceland/

Iceland is the first country to make it illegal to pay men more than women. Equal pay policies is now mandatory for companies with 25 or more employees. Those that cannot show that they provide equal pay will be subject to fines. The law, which was passed last year, went into effect on Jan. 1. Iceland is already a leader in gender parity. The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Iceland as the top country for gender quality for the last nine years based on criteria involving economics, education, health, and politics. For example, Icelandic women make up 48% of the country’s parliament - without a quota system. Despite this, wage inequality has persisted. In 2016, thousands of women in Iceland left work at 2:38 p.m., to protest pay disparity. The time was symbolic of when woman stop receiving pay during their 9 to 5 work day compared to men. The wage gap in Iceland was 72 cents to every man’s dollar. On International Women’s Day in 2017, the country moved to change that. The tiny country, pop. 323,000, aims to completely eliminate the wage gap by 2020.

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China, Moving to Cut Emissions, Halts Production of 500 Car Models
2018-01-02, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/climate/china-cars-pollution.html

China is suspending the production of more than 500 car models and model versions that do not meet its fuel economy standards, several automakers confirmed Tuesday, the latest move by Beijing to reduce emissions in the world’s largest auto market and take the lead in battling climate change. The suspension, effective Jan. 1, would affect both domestic carmakers and foreign joint ventures ... in China, where 28 million vehicles were produced in 2016. China has dozens of small-scale automakers - some producing just a few hundred cars a year. Cui Dongshu, the secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, said that the ban would affect at most 1 percent of the Chinese market. But the government’s decision to cite fuel economy in the deregistration of so many versions at the same time is nonetheless a signal of the government’s commitment to fuel economy. The country, which for years prioritized economic growth over environmental protection ... has emerged as an unlikely bastion of climate action. “They’re sending a signal to everybody,” said Michael Dunne, president of ... a Hong Kong-based consultancy on China’s clean car market. “This shows their emissions standards have teeth.” The Chinese government has already become the world’s biggest supporter of electric cars, offering automakers numerous incentives for producing so-called new energy vehicles. Those incentives are set to decrease by 2020, to be replaced by quotas for the number of clean cars automakers must sell.

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Low-carbon sources produce majority of UK electricity supply for first time ever
2018-01-03, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-energy-production-electric...

More than half of the electricity generated in the UK in 2017 came from low-carbon sources for the first time ever. Renewables and nuclear provided more electricity than all fossil fuels combined, with wind generation alone supplying twice as much energy as coal, according to analysis by Carbon Brief, a website that tracks climate change and energy policy. Wind made a greater contribution to the country’s electricity needs than coal in every month apart from January. The share from low-carbon sources doubled between 2008 and 2017, Carbon Brief said. The UK has also added wind and solar power generation rapidly, as costs have fallen. Future development will increasingly be possible without the Government subsidies that have aided the industry’s development until now. The UK also passed a series of other milestones last year, including its first day without coal power since 1882, the most electricity produced from solar power at any one moment and the most wind power produced in a day. Wind saw the biggest increase of any energy source, with supply up 31 per cent for the whole of 2017 on 2016’s level. The electricity sector has been the primary focus of renewable power generation as that power can then be used to revolutionise the other sectors, for example through the electrification of transport. Britain’s power system is the fourth cleanest in Europe and the seventh cleanest in the world.

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Where There Is Gravity, Let There Be Light
2017-10-31, National Geographic
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/10/sponsor-content-where-there-is-gr...

British designers are using the power of gravity to generate electricity, bringing safe and affordable light to people living off-grid. The kerosene that fuels most off-grid lamps is very expensive. Kerosene is also dirty and dangerous. In 2009 ... designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves were challenged to create a safe, affordable, and sustainable lamps for low-income families living off-grid. Looking beyond solar and battery power, they had a lightbulb moment about gravity. Lifting a weight creates a potential energy store which is turned into kinetic energy as the weight descends. Through the GravityLight’s innovative gear train, this kinetic energy spins a generator that produces enough electrical energy to power an LED bulb. When the light goes out, the weight is simply hoisted back up to begin again. GravityLight has been piloted in Kenya where kerosene lamps are used extensively, especially in rural areas. A 50-night roadshow, supported by International celebrities, saw GravityLight engage with communities and organizations across the country. The results were impressive, with 90% of people saying they were happy to switch from kerosene. Little wonder, as the benefits quickly stack up. The GravityLight pays for itself in just seven weeks, and delivers an immediate improvement in the air quality of the home. It is clean, robust, renewable, reliable, and safe—as well as being better for the environment, giving off no CO2 or black carbon emissions.

Note: Watch a great two-minute video on this ingenious invention.


Power Prices Go Negative in Germany, a Positive for Energy Users
2017-12-25, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/25/business/energy-environment/germany-electr...

Germany has spent $200 billion over the past two decades to promote cleaner sources of electricity. That enormous investment is now having an unexpected impact - consumers are now actually paid to use power on occasion, as was the case over the weekend. Power prices plunged below zero for much of Sunday and the early hours of Christmas Day on ... a large European power trading exchange, the result of low demand, unseasonably warm weather and strong breezes that provided an abundance of wind power on the grid. Such “negative prices” are not the norm in Germany, but they are far from rare, thanks to the country’s effort to encourage investment in greener forms of power generation. Prices for electricity in Germany have dipped below zero ... more than 100 times this year alone. Several countries in Europe have experienced negative power prices, including Belgium, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. But Germany’s forays into negative pricing are the most frequent. At times, Germany is able to export its surplus electricity to its neighbors, helping to balance the market. Still, its experiences of negative prices are often longer, and deeper, than they are in other countries. In one recent example, power prices spent 31 hours below zero during the last weekend of October. At one point, they dipped as low as minus €83, or minus $98, per megawatt-hour, a wholesale measure. Anyone who was able to hook up for a large blast of electricity at that time was paid €83 per unit for the trouble.

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'We Can Take Them Apart.' ICAN Chief Beatrice Fihn Accepts Nobel Peace Prize for Group's Work to Ban Nuclear Weapons
2017-12-10, Time
http://time.com/5056523/beatrice-fihn-nobel-peace-prize/

When Beatrice Fihn received a call on Oct. 6 informing the 35-year-old Swede that her group, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she suspected a possible prank. Not that you should blame her - ICAN is just 10 years old, and the group’s aims can seem positively fanciful: the complete elimination of the world’s roughly 15,000 nuclear warheads. But that call from the Norwegian Nobel Committee was real, and so is Fihn’s goal. ICAN, a global coalition of 440 partner organizations in 98 countries, was honored for its efforts to advance the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was successfully finalized by two-thirds of the United Nations’ 192 members this summer. The treaty—which would outlaw nuclear weapons’ use, production and possession—is now open for ratification, and will become international law after 50 countries sign on. Those countries almost certainly won’t include the members of the nuclear club: The U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain, France, Pakistan, India and North Korea. Fihn is realistic that nuclear weapons won’t be abolished overnight. But just as earlier treaties banning biological weapons and land mines eventually led to such munitions being phased out, she believes a nuclear arms ban could help turn the public against these truly horrific weapons of mass destruction.

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Tesco: No edible food will go to waste by February 2018
2017-12-23, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42464912

No food fit for human consumption will be wasted by Tesco's UK stores by the end of February, the retail giant says. Chief executive Dave Lewis told the Daily Telegraph food waste had been "talked about for years" as he unveiled the plans for all 2,654 stores. Urging other chains to follow suit, he said edible food should be used for people, not go to waste. Tesco, with all major UK supermarkets, has signed a commitment to cut food waste by one-fifth within a decade. The voluntary agreement is known as the Courtauld Commitment 2025. Mr Lewis ... said the contrast between the amount of wasted food in the UK and the situation in countries suffering food shortages was "really stark". He said: "Last year we sold 10 million tons [10.2 million tonnes] of food to the British public. But even if our waste is just 0.7% of the food, that's still 70,000 tons [71,100 tonnes] of food. Tesco says it cuts waste by selling surplus groceries with "reduced to clear" stickers and [by using] an app, FoodCloud, to scan and upload surplus food that stores have at the end of the day, which is shared with registered charities that collect the food. "That goes a long way in reducing charities' bill burdens, so they can spend the money on ... providing much more needed services," Mr Lewis said. "Food waste has been talked about for years but if Tesco can make this work, with all of our different stores across the country, then why can't everybody," he added.

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Quebec to offer basic income for 84,000 people unable to work
2017-12-10, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-proposes-basic-income-poverty-e...

Quebecers who have a severely limited capacity to work will gradually be able to access a guaranteed minimum income beginning next year, Premier Philippe Couillard's government announced. The measure is part of a $3-billion action plan to fight poverty and promote "economic inclusion," but falls short of offering a basic income for all Quebecers, a demand of many anti-poverty groups. An estimated 84,000 Quebecers would qualify for the minimum income measure, largely those with physical and intellectual disabilities. Of the 84,000, the vast majority are single people, long a neglected demographic when it comes to poverty reduction programs in Quebec. By next year, they will see their government assistance increased by at least $73 per month. That figure will reach $440 per month by 2023, bringing their annual guaranteed minimum to $18,029. Many of the measures announced Sunday either encourage low-income Quebecers to enter the job market or help them stay employed. This includes $1.8 million in funding to improve the digital skills of those living in poverty and nearly $34 million for Quebecers who receive social assistance and want to learn more skills. The measures also come one year after the Couillard government introduced controversial new rules that penalized social assistance recipients who failed to take steps to find a job. The $3 billion in spending will be spread out over several years, with the goal of helping 100,000 Quebecers out of poverty by 2023.

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A little hope for a homeless solution: Tiny housing units sprout in the Bay Area
2017-12-26, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/A-little-hope-for-a-homeless-solut...

Nearly two years after a smattering of tiny homes popped up in the Bay Area as a peculiar new way of housing homeless people, the technique is exploding from one end of the region to the other. Nearly 1,000 tiny homes or their close cousins - stackable modular housing units, typically with less than 200 square feet of living space - are being planned in San Francisco, San Jose, Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland and Santa Rosa. Tiny units can be built in a fraction of the time it takes to construct typical affordable housing, at a sliver of the cost, and that means a lot of homeless people can be housed quickly. In one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, with tent-camp problems everywhere, that prospect sounds like a game-changer to officials. Contra Costa has a $750,000 federal homelessness grant to pay for 50 stackable micro-units of supportive housing, and Richmond Mayor Tom Butt would like to see them in his city. Developer Patrick Kennedy brought a prototype of his MicroPad unit to Richmond in November, and county and city leaders say they are leaning toward choosing it. Tiny homes have also caught on in San Jose, where the City Council this month approved plans for a village of 40 of them for homeless people. “You really have two options,” said [city Councilman Raul] Peralez, who said he wants the village in his downtown district. “You can allow the homeless to live on the streets, or you can provide ... shelter [and] services. In my mind, that’s a way better option for managing this community in an organized way.”

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Star Trek's secret weapon: a scientist with a mushroom fetish bent on saving the planet
2017-12-24, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/paul-stamets-star-trek-mushroo...

On Star Trek: Discovery, the character Lieutenant Paul Stamets is an "astromycologist" - a mushroom expert in outer space who is passionate about the power of fungi. Stamets is actually named after a real U.S. scientist who ... looks nothing like his blond-haired TV counterpart, but he's just as enamoured with fungi. Over 40 years, Stamets has pioneered methods for using mushrooms to do everything from clean up oil spills to save disappearing bees by boosting their immune systems. But he's just as excited about Star Trek's potential to inspire people to create some of the science they see presented in screen - even if it does seem a bit fantastic. So were flip phones when people first saw Spock's, he said. "What I love about Star Trek is that we can actually set the stage for science fact," said Stamets. In a 2008 TED Talk, Stamets explained how fungi can be used to "save the world" by cleaning polluted soil, replacing toxic insecticides and even treating viruses. "I'm just a messenger for the mycelium," he said, referring to the network of fungal filaments under the soil that form the largest organism on earth. Mycelium can be found in every forest, but the biggest one he knows of is a massive, 970-hectare mass - bigger than 1,600 football fields - in an Oregon forest. Stamets believes this network "communicates," not unlike a fungal internet. The filaments transfer nutrients and information, and even sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxins.

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Microbrewery's edible six-pack rings create eco-friendly alternative to plastic
2016-05-25, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/food/la-dd-edible-six-pack-rings-20160524-snap-story.html

Saltwater Brewery, along with New York City-based ad agency We Believers, developed edible six-pack rings made of the wheat and barley remnants left over from making beer. We Believers co-founders Marco Vega and Gustavo Lauria were working on a production shoot. After the crew ate lunch, Lauria looked around and realized how much plastic trash they'd managed to produce. They decided to create a product that would take the responsibility off the consumer by not using any plastic in the first place. They set their sights on six-pack rings. Vega and Lauria connected with Chris Gove ... of Saltwater Brewery. Originally, Lauria had envisioned six-pack rings made of dried seaweed, but the potential environmental impact made that idea untenable. So the trio turned to something Gove had in abundance: wheat and barley remnants. Two months after that fateful ... lunch, they manufactured 500 working prototypes using a 3-D printer and produced and published a video showing off their creation. The next step for the team is to build a hydraulic mold that can handle making 200,000 units a month. At that point, Saltwater Brewery will be able to use the rings on all of the beers they make. "We feel truthful about finding a solution to use ways to reduce the carbon footprint, and that's to use byproducts of the beer processing as it exists right now," he said.

Note: A video on these pollution reducing six-pack rings is available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Once US murder capital, NYC close to record low in homicides
2017-12-21, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/killings-hit-record-low-york-terror-attack...

Even after two terror attacks and a driver's deadly rampage through Times Square, New York City is on track to smash its modern-era low for homicides in a year. Through Dec. 17, the city of 8.5 million people, once America's murder capital, had recorded 278 killings. That puts it on pace to end this year with killings down 14 percent from last year, and well below the 333 in 2014, which was the year with the fewest homicides since the city began keeping accurate crime statistics. Those numbers mean a person's odds of getting killed by homicide in tightly packed, diverse New York City this year were about the same as they were last year in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. Crime has been dropping for many years in New York, but 2017 saw substantial drops even in places like Brooklyn's 75th Police Precinct, once among the nation's most violent places. There were 126 killings in the precinct in 1993. This year ... there have been 11. A move away from heavy-handed policing may have helped drive crime lower. Arrests are down about 7 percent this year. Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan said there were other tactical changes. The department ditched specialized units within precincts and made most officers general assignment. "We're not going to arrest our way out of the problems here," said Sgt. Timothy Cecchini on a recent patrol through the 75th Precinct. "But now, we are getting the space to think about how to do our jobs and really address issues for people and talk to them."

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Companies that do good things have higher returns
2017-12-13, CNBC
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/13/dan-hesse-good-deeds-give-companies-roughly-3...

Companies that enforce employee-centric and customer-centric cultures are likely to see better financial gains than their competitors, Just Capital's Dan Hesse told CNBC on Wednesday. "What we've seen from a financial performance point of view is that you have [a] higher return on equity of these companies that do good things," Hesse, the former CEO of Sprint, told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer. Just Capital, a private, non-profit research firm, recently conducted a survey of 72,000 individuals across the United States. On Tuesday, Just Capital and Forbes released a ranking of the top 100 most "just" U.S. companies based on the results. Many leading technology companies landed high in the ranks, with Intel, Texas Instruments and Nvidia taking the top three spots. But one of the most sweeping commonalities was how consumers felt about tax reform, Hesse said. While investors might get excited about the potential for share buybacks and dividend increases if corporate tax reform is passed, consumers couldn't be less thrilled about it, Hesse said. "If there's one overall theme in the data, it's that they believe companies are focused too much on just shareholders versus all the other stakeholders," he told Cramer. "They'll say shareholders, yes, important, but your employees are No. 1 and your customers are No. 2," Hesse continued. "So are the communities, the environment, a lot of other stakeholders. So they will want to see companies take this money and invest in their employees and in some of these other areas."

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World Bank Group pledges to stop investing in oil and gas exploration
2017-12-12, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/12/12/world-bank-group-pledges-stop-...

One of the world’s most important financial and development institutions, the World Bank Group (WBG), is to stop financing oil and gas exploration, in a bid to help combat climate change. After 2019, the WBG – which includes the World Bank and three other institutions – will stop investing in upstream oil and gas, it announced at the One Planet Summit in Paris on Wednesday. The summit was hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron, with 164 world leaders, government members, business leaders and prominent figures joining him. This move marks a major change in strategy for the the WBG, which has historically sought to support extraction of natural resources. The World Bank currently holds $961m (Ł722m) of guarantee operations, set up to support private sector investments in gas and oil explorations. Upstream oil and gas constitute 2pc of the WBG portfolio. Across the World Bank Group institutions, the total portfolio is worth around $280bn. This comes as the WBG signed a $1.15bn loan with the Government of Egypt aimed at reducing fossil fuel subsidies and encouraging low-carbon energy investment. “Everyday, climate change becomes a more urgent economic, social, and existential threat to all countries and all people,” WBG president, Jim Yong Kim, said. This change in approach was to ensure “alignment of our support to countries to meet their Paris goals,” he added.

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Twenty companies join nations planning coal phase out
2017-12-12, CNBC/Reuters
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/12/reuters-america-twenty-companies-join-nations...

About 20 companies including Unilever, EDF and Iberdrola joined an international alliance of 26 nations on Tuesday pledging to phase out coal to combat global warming. At a climate summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, new members of the "Powering Past Coal Alliance" agreed that traditional coal power should be phased out by 2030 in rich nations and by 2050 in other parts of the world. Nations including Sweden, Ethiopia and Latvia, as well as the U.S. state of California, also joined the alliance as part of commitments under the 195-nation Paris climate agreement reached on December 12 two years ago. The coal phase-out plan, launched last month by about 20 governments, widened on Tuesday to companies also including BT, Engie, Kering, Diageo, Marks & Spencer, Orsted, Storebrand and Virgin Group. The companies committed to setting targets to end the use of traditional coal from the power sector, both for consumption and in generating electricity. Founder members of the alliance, launched at U.N. climate negotiations in Germany, include Britain, France, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica and the Marshall Islands. A declaration said that coal-fired power plants produce almost 40 percent of global electricity. Most of the countries in the alliance are already cutting their use of coal.

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Livia Firth’s Eco-Age – Time to End Our Fast-Fashion Binge
2017-11-23, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/livia-firths-eco-age-time-to-end-our-fa...

Thursday 16th November marked the 7th Annual Lovie Awards. This year, Livia Firth was the winner of the Emerging Entrepreneur Award for her fight for sustainable fashion as the founder and creative director of Eco-Age. Livia founded Eco-Age in 2009 as a brand consultancy providing sustainability strategies and communication tools to fashion brands. Their modus operandi is to demystify the supply chain so that brands can be sure they are working with suppliers and manufacturers that guarantee responsible sourcing and production of materials and ethical labour practices. She and her team work with several brands to help them become sustainable and conscious as part of their core operations and values – not as a token ‘project’ seeking to gain sustainability credentials. Livia points to a tactic of some large, fast-fashion brands, of producing a product or small number of products ‘sustainably’, that are then heavily promoted in an attempt to create a cleaner, greener brand image, which she dismisses as “bullshit green-washing”, to divert attention from the dirty fashion practices continuing throughout the supply chain in those brands. Eco-Age refuses to conduct business with fast-fashion businesses due to the ethical crimes being committed and their failure to provide a living wage. She comments that being awarded a Lovie is recognition of her engagement with the public ... to inform, educate and enlighten consumers.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


7,500 Strangers Just Bought A Crumbling French Chateau Together
2017-12-05, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/05/568594889/7-500-strangers-...

Crowdfunding has been used to finance films, board games, classical music, scientific research and infertility treatments. Add this to the list of things bought with collective purchasing power: A chateau in the French countryside, complete with moat. The platform used to raise the funds announced on Friday that the castle had been purchased by milliers d'internautes – that is, thousands of Internet users, who each paid at least 50 euros (about $60) to "adopt" the chateau and help restore it. In just 40 days, the site raised the 500,000 euros it needed to buy it. "It's done, it's historic!" [the announcement] said. "The Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers now belongs to thousands of Internet users. Through this collective purchase, we believe in the preservation and development of the heritage of tomorrow and prove that civic strength is always the greatest." The chateau dates to the 13th century, and it was looted and abandoned during the French Revolution. In 1809, a rich Parisian entrepreneur bought and restored it. In March 1932, a fire broke out, destroying the roof and causing the chateau to be abandoned once more. Sadly, a suite at the castle is not part of the deal for the thousands of donors, though a gift of at least 60 euros (about $71) gives each patron a membership card and "access to part of the castle." The real gift, the campaign explains, is that patrons can become investors in a company that will own the castle, and "collectively decide its future."

Note: Don't miss video of this amazing abandoned castle at the link above.


The world's greenest cruise ship will have sails
2017-12-11, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/11/technology/green-cruise-ship-ecoship

Cruise ships have a bad rap with environmentalists. One cruise operator is hoping to change that. Peace Boat, a Japanese non-governmental organization ... is working on an ambitious project to build the most sustainable vessel in the booming industry. Now in the last stages of planning, the "Ecoship" will be built by Finland's Arctech. It will cost about $500 million, financed in part by impact investors - funds, rich families and individuals who want to use their cash to improve the world as well as make a profit. A conventional cruise ship can burn hundreds of tons of heavy fuel oil a day and emit as much particulate matter as a million cars. The "Ecoship" will be fueled by a much cleaner combination of solar panels, wind power and liquid natural gas, and should produce 40% less carbon dioxide than a traditional cruise ship. "We will have 10 sails, so it will use the wind like traditional sailing ships," [Peace Boat founder Yoshioka] Tatsuya explained. The "Ecoship" is designed to mimic the shape of a whale. While smaller than many cruise ships currently being built, it will accommodate 2,000 passengers, and host conferences and events while docked. Peace Boat hopes it will set sail on its maiden voyage in 2020, and that it will quickly become a showcase for the future of the industry. "There's potential with a very green cruise ship to get a lot of attention at each port of call and that can make an impact," Tatsuya said. And he doesn't plan to stop at one ship. Demand for cruises, and green tourism is booming.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Buy Nothing Project: free clothes, toys, food - even a wedding
2017-10-03, Seattle Times/Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sns-tns-bc-hby-buy-nothing-20171003-...

When Erika Dudra moved to Beacon Hill two years ago, she didn't know any of her neighbors. Dudra soon discovered a Facebook group called Buy Nothing Beacon Hill North. The premise of the group was simple: Offer up something that you don't need, or ask for something you do need. She joined to get rid of a couch, but then started asking for baby things. As a result, "I have a 2-year-old now who basically cost me nothing," she said. When Dudra remarried ... she threw a "Buy Nothing wedding" with a donated dress, cake, decor, flowers, an American Sign Language interpreter for deaf relatives and a wedding photographer. To participants, Buy Nothing is about more than just fighting consumer culture, though. Today, all of Dudra's best friends are people she met on Buy Nothing. Since this network was started in 2013 ... members and volunteers have spread the Buy Nothing gospel to more than half a million people in 20 countries. Buy Nothing co-founder Liesl Clark likes to say the project is one-half internet giveaway group and one-half prehistoric Himalayan economics. Inspiration comes from high up in the Himalayas, where Clark has filmed archaeology documentaries for National Geographic and the PBS series "NOVA." In 2007, Clark visited a village in the Upper Mustang area of Nepal that didn't operate on currency. Instead, the village of Samdzong operated on a "gift economy" when a villager needed something, she or he would simply ask. Residents kept communal goats and sheep and took turns watching each other's fields.

Note: Watch an inspiring video on this great project.


High schooler spreads the message that nobody should have to dine alone
2017-11-24, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/spreading-the-message-that-nobody-should-have-to...

When the lunch bell rings at Boca Raton High School in Florida, 3,400 kids spill into the courtyard and split into their social groups. But not everyone gets included. Someone always sits alone. "It's not a good feeling, like you're by yourself. And that's something that I don't want anybody to go through," said Denis Estimon. Denis is a Haitian immigrant. When he came here in first grade, he says he felt isolated - especially at lunch. So with some friends, Denis started a club called "We Dine Together." Their mission is to go into the courtyard at lunchtime to make sure no one is starving for company. For new kids especially, the club is a godsend. Since it started last year, hundreds of friendships have formed - some very unlikely. Jean Max Meradieu said he met kids he would never "ever" meet on the football team. Jean actually quit the football team - gave up all perks that come with it - just so he could spend more time with this club. "I don't mind not getting a football scholarship," Jean said. "This is what I really want to do." Just imagine how different your teenage years would have been, if the coolest kids in school all of a sudden decided you mattered. Since we first told this story, Denis has graduated from high school - but not from this mission. He's now travelling the country, opening "We Dine Together" chapters at other schools - 15 so far, with more than 100 slated for the new year. And if we're lucky, when he's done showing kids how to make outsiders feel accepted, he can teach the rest of us.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The craze for ethical investment has reached Japan
2017-11-23, The Economist
https://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21731630-it-led-top-down...

Japan is prone to fads. One has hit finance: investing in assets screened for ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors. In 2014-16 funds invested in ESG assets grew faster in Japan than anywhere else. Today Japan’s sustainable-investment balance is $474bn, or some 3.4% of the country’s total managed assets - low compared with Europe or America, but high for Asia. The shift is driven from the top down, rather than, as elsewhere, by ethically minded individual investors. The big boost for ethical investing in Japan came from the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the world’s biggest public-sector investor, with $1.3trn of assets under management. In 2015 GPIF signed the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment. This year it invested 3% of its holdings in socially responsible assets, using three ESG indices. Smaller investors have started to follow suit. Hiromichi Mizuno, GPIF’s chief investment officer, says the decision to invest in three ESG indices is for the long-term future, rather than with an eye on short-term returns or to support government policy: “The more companies pay attention to the sustainability of the environment, society and governance, the more likely investors are to find investment opportunities in them.” Analysts say GPIF is setting a trend for sustainable investing not just in Japan but globally. It has said it wants to increase its allocations in ESG funds to 10% of its assets.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Discover the World
2017-11-28, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/opinion/forget-trump-and-discover-the-worl...

China has been busy creating a cashless society, where people can pay for so many things now with just a swipe of their cellphones - including donations to beggars - or even buy stuff at vending machines with just facial recognition, and India is trying to follow suit. These are big trends, and in a world where data is the new oil, China and India are each creating giant pools of digitized data that their innovators are using to write all kinds of interoperable applications — for cheap new forms of education, medical insurance, entertainment, banking and finance. “It’s transforming the lives of ordinary people,” explained Alok Kshirsagar, a McKinsey partner based in Mumbai. Now any Indian farmer can just go to one of 250,000 government community centers - each with a computer, Wi-Fi and a local entrepreneur who manages it - log into a government digital services website with the farmer’s unique ID and instantly print out a birth certificate or land records needed for transactions. Similar innovations are going on in energy, explained Mahesh Kolli, president of Greenko, India’s largest renewable power provider. Greenko just built the largest solar project in the world - a 3,000-acre field of Chinese-made solar panels generating 800 megawatts powering over 600,000 homes in Andhra Pradesh. Two more such fields are on the way up. “No new coal or gas power plants are being built in India today,” he added, “not because of regulations, but because solar, wind, hydro are all now able to compete with coal plants without subsidies.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Painting allows blind artist to see a world of color
2016-08-12, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/12/health/turning-points-blind-artist-john-brambli...

John Bramblitt believes he could draw before he could walk. Art was also his way of coping with spending much of his childhood in the hospital. After experiencing his first seizure at age 2, Bramblitt was diagnosed with severe epilepsy. After each seizure, his vision would remain blurry for a while, but then it would clear up. What neither he nor his doctors realized was that his vision was decreasing each time. In his mid-20s, while attending college for the second time at the University of North Texas in 2001, he received the news that he would lose the rest of his vision. There was nothing doctors could do to stop it. He was completely blind by the time fall semester began. When he was alone, he felt like he was losing his mind. That's when he remembered the joy he used to gain from creating art. He began by trying to draw simple shapes, but would feel his pencil run off the paper. Bramblitt realized he needed to create a structure to follow. Fabric paint, which would create raised lines as it dried, became his new pencil, and he used oil paints to bring the paintings to life. He used [touch] to "see" what he wanted to paint and to distinguish between oil paints, because each color had a different viscosity and texture. Encouraged by the way it made him feel, he would paint for hours every day. Over the years, Bramblitt has connected with charities and started a series of workshops for artists with and without sight, young and old. He believes art should be something everyone can connect with. After all, art changed his life.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A billionaire wages war on poverty in Oklahoma
2017-11-20, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2017/1120/A-billionaire-wages-war-on-po...

Across the United States, millionaires and billionaires are increasingly stepping in with private money to try to solve problems that were once largely or exclusively the purview of government. In Detroit, philanthropic dollars helped build a streetcar system. In Kalamazoo, Mich., donors are underwriting college tuition programs. Elsewhere, philanthropists are funding the mapping of all cells in the human body to try to stamp out disease and pouring money into preventing obesity. Yet few if any of today’s megadonors are involved in as many programs targeting the poor in one city as [George] Kaiser. The oil and gas industrialist believes that every child deserves a chance to succeed and that effectively spent charitable dollars ... can unlock their potential. His foundation has given away more than $1 billion over the past decade, almost all of it in Tulsa, [Okla.]. Over the next decade, his foundation wants to target every poor child born in Tulsa, from birth until third grade, so that a patchwork of public programs – prenatal care, parenting classes, child care – becomes a seamless quilt. “They’re making a very big bet in one community on a comprehensive strategy that can be truly transformative,” says Nancy Roob, chief executive officer of the New York-based Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. The idea behind all these efforts – fighting poverty with philanthropic wealth – is one that holds great promise in an era of dazzling private fortunes, yawning economic inequality, and public-sector austerity.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Paralyzed woman hikes the Appalachian Trail
2016-07-15, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/15/health/turning-points-paralyzed-woman-hikes-app...

The 2,190-mile long Appalachian Trail is daunting even to those who have no trouble walking. That hasn't stopped Stacey Kozel. Her paralyzed body hasn't stopped her, either. The 41-year-old ... was always active until lupus stole her muscles and strength. Since her diagnosis at 19, she ... had always managed to get back on her feet - until a flare-up in March 2014. "I walked into a hospital, came out in a wheelchair," recalled Stacey Kozel. Although Kozel was able to walk stiffly with an old pair of braces, they wouldn't help her walk comfortably enough to embrace the outdoors. The chance finally came when she came across the Ottobock C-Brace. The brace functions essentially as the muscles and bones of a leg. The price tag for the technology was steep: $75,000 each. Kozel's doctors and therapists knew that getting these braces covered by insurance would be an uphill climb. When her claim was finally approved after 12 months, she was "in shock." Three days after Kozel got her braces, Joey Pollak, Kozel's orthopedist, got a call saying Kozel was in a 5K race. "To say Stacey is an overachiever is an understatement," said Pollak. What Pollak did not know was an idea forming in Kozel's head. She wanted to show insurance companies how useful the braces can be for those who have lost their mobility. She set her mind on the Appalachian Trail, just two months after she received her braces. Now, with support from her orthopedist, her mother and strangers along the way, she is slowly approaching her destination.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Triple amputee doctor: Disability doesn't define you
2016-06-22, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/22/health/turning-points-kellie-lim/index.html

If you had asked me 20 years ago where I would be, I never would have imagined I would be a physician working at UCLA Health, one of the best medical centers in the country. For over 25 years, my physical disability threatened to define who I was and what others thought I could become. I contracted meningococcal disease at 8 years of age. The infection overwhelmed my body's defenses, and I became a triple amputee. The disease left me with just enough to survive and carry on: two full fingers of the left hand, the thumb and ring finger. The first few years were physically and emotionally grueling; I was in and out of the hospital for surgical procedures to make my lower limbs fit better into prosthetic legs. I couldn't walk for nearly three years. I grew so quickly, my prosthetic legs could not keep up. My father would give me piggyback rides from the car to our house. My mother, who became blind as a teen, learned how to help me dress and put on my prosthetic legs every morning for school. My younger brother, Tarring, would help bring things to me since my mobility was limited. And my older sister, Nellie, was and is my inspiration and role model. I have been extremely lucky to have a strong and resilient family. I was lucky to be in a place where I had great medical care and where I had a community of friends and schools that supported my recovery and believed in my ability to succeed despite my disability. But luck is only part of my success; it takes courage, determination, honesty and integrity to pursue your dreams.

Note: Dr. Kellie Lim, author of this article received her medical training from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. After getting her medical degree, she completed her residency in pediatrics before pursuing fellowship training in allergy & immunology and pharmacology. Today, she works as an allergist-immunologist at UCLA Health. Explore a treasure trove of summaries of news articles on incredibly inspiring disabled persons.


The first New Yorkers go to college tuition-free
2017-09-08, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/07/pf/college/new-york-excelsior-scholarship-fre...

New York's Excelsior Scholarship is the first of its kind. It covers the cost of tuition for qualifying students who are enrolled in a two- or four-year degree program at any of the state's 88 public colleges and university campuses. Plans for the scholarship were announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January. At first, students planning to attend college this fall didn't know whether it would become reality in time. It was officially approved by the legislature in April. When Governor Cuomo announced the program he said that college, like high school, "should always be an option even if you can't afford it." While similar programs in other states have made tuition free for community college students, the Excelsior Scholarship is the first to include those pursuing a four-year degree. The scholarship could save students as much as $27,000 over four years by cutting out tuition costs. The award doesn't cover fees charged by the school, or room and board. Students must also agree to live in state after college for the same number of years they received the scholarship, or it will be converted to a loan. Bonnie Tang, [a] Stony Brook freshman, is commuting from her home in Brooklyn, saving her about $13,000 in room and board costs. She'll have to buy a monthly train pass [and] pay about $2,560 in fees this year. But everything else is free. "My tuition is paid for and that saves me a lot of money," she said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The ‘Medicine Baba’ Goes Door to Door
2012-04-25, New York Times
https://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/the-medicine-baba-goes-door-to-door/

The “Medicine Baba,” Omkar Nath Sharma, 75, spends his days knocking on doors in Delhi’s upper and middle class neighborhoods, collecting their leftover medicines and giving them to the poor. Mr. Sharma, a former medical technician ... starts his day at 6 a.m., when he leaves his rented home in Manglapuri, a southern Delhi suburb, and travels by buses on his senior citizen pass to wealthier parts of the city. He has built up a pool of regular contributors in neighborhoods like Green Park, who he calls on when they have medicines they no longer need. Wearing an orange shirt that says “Mobile medicine bank for poor patients,” he picks up medicines that he estimates are worth 200,000 rupees, about $3,860, a month, and then distributes them to individuals and charitable clinics for no charge. Mr. Sharma knows that loosely distributing medicine brings real risks, so he said he will only give them out if a patient has a prescription from a doctor. Vimla Rani, a 47-year-old maid, said she is alive because of Sharma’s medicines, which help to control her asthma. “I keep on getting inhalers and other medicines from Medicine Baba,” she said. “Thousands of poor people die as they can’t afford expensive medicines, while at the same time unused medicines worth millions get wasted,” Mr. Sharma said. He also distributes medicine to more than a dozen nongovernmental organizations.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Evidence of Abundance: Curing Addiction and Disease
2014-08-27, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-diamandis/evidence-of-abundance-9-c_b_57...

Below are two powerful graphs in “Health Abundance” I wanted to share this week. First is the massive reduction in smoking from 45 percent in the 1960s to 25 percent today. The bad news is that smoking is still the #1 preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is about one in five deaths. Smoking causes more deaths each year than all of these combined: HIV, alcohol, car accidents and guns. Second, is a look at the reduction of global malaria deaths, and the increase in funding allocated for research and development to cure malaria. As medical research continues and technology enables new breakthroughs, there will be a day when Malaria and most all major deadly diseases are eradicated on Earth. I hope you enjoyed this week’s Evidence of Abundance.

Note: See a great booklet filled with inspiring graphs showing how our world is gradually becoming ever more abundant.


Ozone hole over Antarctica shrinks to smallest peak since 1988
2017-11-03, CBS News/Associated Press
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ozone-hole-antarctica-shrivels-smallest-peak/

The ozone hole over Antarctica shrank to its smallest peak since 1988, NASA said Thursday. The huge hole in Earth's protective ozone layer reached its maximum this year in September, and this year NASA said it was 7.6 million square miles wide. The hole size shrinks after mid-September. "In the past, we've always seen ozone at some stratospheric altitudes go to zero by the end of September," said Bryan Johnson, NOAA atmospheric chemist. "This year our balloon measurements showed the ozone loss rate stalled by the middle of September and ozone levels never reached zero." This year's maximum hole is more than twice as big as the United States, but it's 1.3 million square miles less than last year and 3.3 million square miles smaller than 2015. Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said stormy conditions in the upper atmosphere warmed the air and kept chemicals chlorine and bromine from eating ozone. He said scientists haven't quite figured out why some years are stormier - and have smaller ozone holes - than others. "It's really small this year. That's a good thing," Newman said. Newman said this year's drop is mostly natural but is on top of a trend of smaller steady improvements likely from the banning of ozone-eating chemicals in a 1987 international treaty. The ozone hole hit its highest in 2000 at 11.5 million square miles.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


101-Year-Old Credits Vegan Diet For His Longevity
2015-10-15, Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/101-year-old-credits-vegan-diet-for-his-...

A 101-year-old California heart surgeon who retired just five years ago may be the epitome of “you are what you eat.” Dr. Ellsworth Wareham credits his vegan lifestyle with being his fountain of youth. He says it’s why he is still sharp-minded, enjoys good balance and drives. “I don’t have any trouble with my joints, my hands are steady, my balance is good, I don’t have to walk with a cane,” he [said]. Wareham lives in Loma Linda, California, which is one of five so-called Blue Zones, so named by longevity researcher Dan Buettner because people tend to live longer, healthier lives within them. Residents of Loma Linda, many of whom like Wareham are Seventh Day Adventists, have a life expectancy that’s nine to 11 years greater than that of other Americans. Seventh Day Adventists avoid smoking and alcohol, include exercise in their lifestyle and follow a vegetarian diet. The city of Loma Linda ... has several community programs in place that support its older residents. Loma Linda men in particular live six to seven years longer than the average American man. As for Dr. Wareham, he said he has “never cared for animal products,” so maintaining a vegan lifestyle was “a very easy thing” for him to do. But while what you eat certainly impacts your health, even Buettner has noted that the Blue Zones have other longevity-increasing factors.

Note: Watch a short video interview with this amazing man.


In NYC, A Teenager Crawls Over High Beams To Gently Talk To, Hold And Comfort A Suicidal Stranger
2017-08-29, Daily Kos
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/8/29/1694399/-In-NYC-A-Teenager-Crawls-...

At a subway station [in New York City] a despondent young woman climbed over a railing and crawled over open girders that were 25 feet above the ground and over 5 feet apart. And began sobbing. According to a witness, Michal Klein, "The only thing I overheard was the young girl saying nobody cares about her." Then a young man on the first level saw her, and ran up to the second floor. He climbed and crawled over the beams to where she was sitting. He began talking to her quietly. Then he put his arm around her. After a minute, she put her head on his shoulder. They were up there for almost ten minutes before the fire department arrived. They both crawled back over the ledge ... holding hands the entire time. She was then taken away by ambulance to the hospital. And this young man picked up his backpack, got on a subway, and left. "It was just like a random person who went over to keep her calm," [said Klein]. "He actually cared enough, whoever he was, to help her. A lot of people seemed to be like, ‘Oh, it’s New York,’ and kept walking. I don’t think I would’ve climbed over to do that." Another witness noted that most people didn’t even break stride as they quickly glanced up. Said another, "Angels come in many forms."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Companies are realizing that renewable energy is good for business
2017-11-16, Popular Science
https://www.popsci.com/renewable-energy-business-climate-change

The conservative city of Georgetown, Texas, runs on renewable energy. After all, wind and solar power are more predictable and easier to budget than oil and gas. Clean power pushes may be associated with more left-leaning cities, but Republican mayor Dale Ross called the switch to renewables a no-brainer. In 2017, at least 15 weather events cost the government more than a billion dollars each. The most expensive events we have in the U.S. are floods. The money spent preparing for and preventing these events ... pays itself back double, triple, and even quadruple times over. But companies and private citizens often fail to prepare properly because the money spent on prevention is private, whereas costs after the fact are often allotted through government organizations. Many fail to connect the cost of switching to renewable energy with the eventual savings of avoiding natural disasters. On an even larger scale, the costs of switching to renewable energy are larger up front, though they save money in the future. For example, Denmark struggled to store its wind power in a way that allowed them to save it for times of high electricity demand. Then they encouraged residents to buy electric cars. Now these vehicles act like moving batteries, and people can sell the energy back to the grid when the cars are parked.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


One step beyond organic or free-range: Dutch farmer’s chickens lay carbon-neutral eggs
2017-11-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/05/carbon-neutral-eggs-dutch...

There’s the much-criticised battery hen egg, and then the pricier organic and free-range varieties. But for the truly ethically committed, how about the carbon-neutral egg, laid in what has been billed as the world’s most environmentally friendly farm? Dutch stores are now selling so-called “Kipster eggs” laid at a shiny new farm. The intention is to rethink the place of animals in the food chain, according to Ruud Zanders, the poultry farmer and university lecturer behind the farm. Mass-producing farms, even those that have moved on from cages, produce extremely cheap eggs at a heavy cost to the environment and the welfare of the animals laying them. The cost-cutting model is blamed by many for the regular food scares in northern Europe, including the recent enforced destruction of millions of eggs due to contamination by the toxic insecticide fipronil. The organic and free-range varieties, where farmers prioritise the welfare of the chickens, often sell at a higher price – but again at a cost to the wider environment, feeding the chickens expensive imported corn that could be better used to feed people. “It makes no sense for us to be competing with animals for food,” Zanders said. “And 70% of the carbon footprint in eggs is accounted for by the feed for the chickens.” Zanders’s selling point is that his farm has the highest welfare standards – as endorsed by Dutch animal activist group Animals Awake – matched with the lowest possible environmental cost. By using waste food as feed, the farm is ... cutting deeply into its carbon footprint.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The fasting diet CAN keep you young: Harvard study explains how plans like the 5:2 protect your cells from aging
2017-11-06, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5055701/Fasting-extend-life-aging.html

Intermittent fasting can keep the body ‘young’ at a cellular level. Researchers at Harvard found that temporarily restricting diet keeps the mitochondria – an important part of the cell to health aging – in homeostasis, which in turn helps to improve lifespan. Last year, Newcastle University research confirmed the crucial role of the mitochondria in human cell aging, and therefore, the aging of our bodies. Mitochondria break down carbohydrates and fatty acids, giving energy to the cell. For this reason, they are often referred to as the ‘powerhouses’ of our cells. The Newcastle University researchers found that without their aged mitochondria, cells appeared younger. Mitochondria exist in two states, and when they are alternating appropriately between these two states, they are in homeostasis. The Harvard researchers found that mitochondria stay in homeostasis better when an organism – in their study, a nematode worm – has an intermittently restricted diet. At the same time, being able to swing as they’re supposed to from one state to the other is key to the longevity-enhancing effects of intermittent fasting. The researchers also found that intermittent fasting helped to coordinate the activities of the mitochondria with peroxisomes, other cell parts that have an antioxidant effect and contribute to longevity. This newfound understanding of how fasting works at a cellular level could be a key to discovering therapies that could be beneficial to extending life expectancies and keeping the body younger.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


China shuts down 40% of factories in sharp pollution crackdown
2017-10-25, MSN News
https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/china-shuts-down-40percent-of-factories-...

Pollution kills more than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. 16% of all the deaths in the world, as a matter of fact. And many of these are in China, where in 2015 it was estimated that the dense air pollution contributes to between 700,000 and 2.2 million deaths every year. What happens when a regime on the more ... authoritarian [end] of the spectrum decides to take the environment seriously? We’re finding out in China, which has temporarily shut down 40% of its factories in the past year, and charged staff from over 80,000 of them with criminal offences for breaking emission limits. "[B]asically, you're seeing these inspectors go into factories for surprise inspections," Gary Huang from 80/20 Sourcing told NPR. "They're instituting daily fines, and sometimes – in the real severe cases – criminal enforcement. People are getting put in jail." “For those areas that have suffered ecological damage, their leaders and cadres will be held responsible for life,” said Yang Weimin, the deputy director of the Communist Party’s office of the central leading group on financial and economic affairs. “Our people will be able to see stars at night and hear birds chirp.”

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Could banana plants solve India's sanitary pad problem?
2017-03-08, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/08/health/india-banana-pads-menstruation/index.html

Kristin Kagetsu left the United States in 2014 with an idea: to bring sanitary pads to India. The 27-year-old MIT graduate co-founded Saathi Pads - a health care startup that produces biodegradable sanitary pads made of banana fibers. According to a 2011 study ... only 12% of Indian women use sanitary pads during menstruation. Tampons, menstrual cups and reusable pads are practically unheard of, except in elite circles. Affordability is the key factor preventing many women from using sanitary pads. For lower income families, they can be a luxury. Saathi Pads said it plans to sell its product ... online and in urban areas but will distribute them for free in rural areas, or at heavily subsidized rates. The lack of proper feminine hygiene and sanitation facilities can affect women's productivity at work and in school. More than 30% of girls interviewed in northern India dropped out of school after they started menstruation. Kagetsu and her co-founders ... decided to manufacture their own compostable sanitary pads using banana fibers, a byproduct of fruit production. The pads Saathi produces are biodegradable and can be upcycled to compost or biogas after use. The company claims its production process is completely chemical and plastic free. The company's purchase of agri-waste material also helps provide banana growers with additional income.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Gross National Happiness: Bhutan's Unique Measurement
2016-02-21, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2016/02/21/467582508/gross-national-happiness-bhutan-s-uni...

The tiny nation of Bhutan [is] wedged in the Himalayas between China and India. The country has been in the international spotlight mainly for ... its unique approach to calculating economic growth by taking the pulse of its people's gross national happiness. The nation is among one of just a handful of so-called carbon negative countries in the world, meaning it soaks up more carbon than it produces thanks to vast forests. Amidst all this, it's also developing a new economic engine in the form of hydropower while expanding economic and political ties to neighboring India and China. "We need to strengthen our economy, but equally important are other aspects of human development, which include social development, environment sustainability, culture," [said Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay]. "And this whole idea of balancing material growth - which is important on the one hand - with social development, this is what the sense of gross national happiness is all about." We're already carbon negative. Our entire country, we generate 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. However, our forests sequester more than 6 million tons. So the idea is to keep that track record - in fact, to add to it. What we're trying to do is raise money to invest in our protected areas. More than half our country is protected as national parks and nature reserves."

Note: Watch Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay deliver a TED Talk on the important connection between happiness and environmental sustainability.


Visit the World's Only Carbon-Negative Country
2017-10-17, National Geographic
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/bhutan/carbon-neg...

Bhutan is arguably the world’s happiest country. It’s also one of the greenest. That’s no coincidence. In fact, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck developed his signature Gross National Happiness index based on four pillars: sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance. Other countries have taken note, since the Himalayan kingdom is not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative. Also noteworthy: This is happening despite increasing tourism. As a travel destination Bhutan remains unique, sandwiched between its heavily industrialized neighbors China and India. The isolated nation only opened up to foreign visits in 1974 and allowed TVs in 1999. Bhutan has built sustainability into its national identity. In fact, the constitution mandates that 60 percent of its landmass be maintained and protected as forest. “The health facilities in Bhutan are free and education up to high school is also free. For those who advance, the education is free until the [college] degree,” a representative of the Bhutan Tourism Council wrote in an email. There are many reasons Bhutan is carbon negative. Aside from its protected forests, it has won world records for planting the most trees per hour, says Erin Levi, the author of the forthcoming Bradt Travel Guide to Bhutan. “The ratio of people to land mass—it's about the same size as Switzerland with just one tenth the population. Its slow path to development—the first road was only built in the 1960s, which also means people were very slow to get cars,” Levi said.

Note: Watch Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay deliver a TED Talk on the important connection between happiness and environmental sustainability.


Seawater desalination will quench the thirst of a parched plane
2017-10-27, Yahoo News
https://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/seawater-desalination-quench-thirst-parched...

Roughly forty percent of the world's population - 2.3 billion people - lives in water-stressed areas. Seawater desalination offers the potential for an abundant and steady source of fresh water. Large-scale desalination efforts began in the 1930s, though they relied on [an energy intensive] process known as multi-stage flash distillation (MSF). It wasn't until the late 1950s that the modern, membrane-based reverse osmosis (RO) technology came into existence. Currently, state of the art research is exploring the use of water-channeling proteins called aquaporins (AQPs), which the human body uses to ferry water across cellular membranes, as well as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for incorporation into RO applications. As of 2015, roughly 18,000 desalination plants were in operation worldwide. Today, RO is the most efficient and widely accessible means of desalination at our disposal. Modern RO systems consume around a third of the power required by older MSF plants. These two distillation technologies are not mutually exclusive and have been combined into hybrid MSF/RO systems. Take the soon-to-be-completed Al Khafji desalination plant in the UAE, for example. It will produce 60,000 cubic meters of water per day while drawing power from a grid-connected solar power plant spanning more than 119 hectares and generating up to 45.7MW of power. Not only do these hybrid systems reduce the plant's carbon footprint but up to 40 percent, they drastically reduce fuel costs.

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Train Which Runs on Virtual Railway Track Unveiled in China
2017-06-03, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/train-virtual-transport-t...

A train that runs on virtual rails has been unveiled in China. The Autonomous Rapid Transit (Art), which was unveiled in the city of Zhuzhou on 2 June, is around 30metres long and is fitted with sensors that detect the dimensions of the road. This enables the vehicle to follow routes without the need for metal rails. Each vehicle can hold up to 307 passengers, and is said to navigate the streets easier than a bus while being more adaptable than a train. It has a top speed of 70kmph. The technology behind the Art was developed by Chinese railmaker CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive which also designs parts for the country’s high-speed railway. Instead of having steel wheels like a train, Art is fitted with rubber wheels attached to a plastic core which are linked to its especially designed guiding technology. Its creators say that Art is significantly cheaper than a metro service, which costs between 400 to 700millon yuan (Ł46 to Ł80million) per km to build. In contrast, Art costs between 15million yuan (Ł2million). The virtual train was unveiled as engineers across the world attempt to modernise transport infrastructure. In the US, Tesla and SpaceX owner Elon Musk is developing the Hyperloop, which is proposed to run at at top speed of 760mph using pod-like vehicles in a tube with reduced pressure.

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‘Magical Wheelchair’ Offers Unforgettable Halloween for Disabled Kids
2015-10-27, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/making-a-difference/magical-wheelchair-offers...

Most children want to dress up for Halloween, but for those confined to wheelchairs, it isn’t always that simple. Ryan Weimer understands that concept better than most. When his oldest son, Keaton, was 3 years old, he told his dad he wanted to be a pirate for Halloween. Instead of simply dressing him up, Weimer spent months building Keaton - who lives with muscular dystrophy - a pirate ship made of wood, tablecloth sails and specially-crafted cannons, all fitted to his wheelchair. Keaton was ecstatic - and his dad never forgot the feeling. "When you know that you have few memories to make with your kids, you want to make priceless ones," Weimer told NBC News, "and epic ones." His second son, Bryce, also lives with muscular dystrophy. Over the years, their wheelchair costumes have gotten more elaborate and attracted more attention. And this year, the Weimer family project became a hugely successful non-profit, called Magic Wheelchair. Volunteers from around the country donated their time, talents and resources to create dream costumes for eight lucky children — six from Weimer’s home state of Oregon and two from Georgia. "When we have challenges and trials and hard times, those are the things that define us," Weimer said. "It doesn’t' matter your circumstances, you can still make beautiful things ... and it's great to see other people get behind that."

Note: Don't miss this very touching video on Magic Wheelchairs.


The Puzzling Role Of Biophotons In The Brain
2010-12-17, MIT Technology Review
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/422069/the-puzzling-role-of-biophotons-in-...

Photons play an important role in the basic functioning of cells. In fact, it looks very much as if many cells use light to communicate. There’s ... evidence that bacteria, plants and even kidney cells communicate in this way. Various groups have even shown that rats brains are literally alight thanks to the photons produced by neurons as they work, [and] evidence is beginning to emerge that light may well play an important role in neuronal function. For example, earlier this year, one group showed that spinal neurons in rats can actually conduct light. Today, Majid Rahnama at Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman in Iran and a group of pals, suggest how this might work. Rhanama and co hypothesise that microtubules can act as wave guides, channeling light from one part of a cell to another. Microtubules are the internal scaffolding inside cells, providing structural support but also creating highways along which molecular machines transport freight around the cell. They’re extraordinary things. Could it be that they also work like optical fibres? Maybe. They go on to suggest that the light channelled by microtubules can help to co-ordinate activities in different parts of the brain. Electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained. Electrical signals travel too slowly to do this job, so something else must be at work. It’s a big jump to assume that photons do this job. But science is built on leaps of imagination like this.

Note: Explore a great article taking this further to suggest that these biophotons play a key role in consciousness and the expansion of consciousness.


26 years later, mom helps free man who shot her during robbery
2016-11-28, Today.com
https://www.today.com/kindness/mom-helps-get-man-who-shot-her-face-freed-pris...

The last time Ian Manuel came face to face with Debbie Baigrie, he shot her in the mouth during a robbery. More than 26 years later, they met again in a Florida gas station parking lot, just hours after Manuel’s release from prison. “Ian and I got out of the cars and we hugged for two minutes,” Baigrie, 54, told TODAY. In 1990, Manuel was 13 and living in Tampa in one of the poorest, most violent housing projects in the state. One July evening, he ... approached Baigrie, who was out with friends. Manuel pulled a gun and told her to “give it up.” Then he started shooting. One of his bullets went into Baigrie’s mouth and out her jaw. Manuel was arrested. Although he was barely a teen, a judge noted his prior arrests and sentenced Manuel to life without parole. Manuel first reached out as he approached his second Christmas behind bars. He gathered his courage and placed a collect call. Shortly afterward came the letters, which Baigrie initially thought somebody else had written. “His letters were so articulate and he was so young,” she said. “I thought, wow,” Baigrie said. So she wrote him back, [and] began attending his court hearings. In 2010, the Supreme Court threw out life sentences for juveniles, and Baigrie began advocating for Manuel's early release. On Nov. 10, based on time already served, Manuel, now 39, was freed from prison. Baigrie ... hopes her friendship with Manuel will inspire others to forgive. “We all make mistakes, we all try our best, and life is so short,” she said. “We have to forgive, because it helps us heal.”

Note: Don't miss the touching video of this amazing act of forgiveness which created profound rehabilitation and a deep friendship. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Israeli, Palestinian women join peace march through desert
2017-10-09, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/09/middleeast/israeli-palestinian-women-peace-marc...

Under a white tent on the shores of the Dead Sea, Huda Abuarquob's frustration melted away. Dancing arm-in-arm with thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women, she felt hope surround her. The women, who came together Sunday morning in the "Peace Tent," had marched through the desert to the lowest point on earth, to demand an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The march was the culmination of two weeks of events, attended by more than 30,000 women, throughout Israel and the West Bank, organized by Women Wage Peace, a grassroots organization calling for a "bilaterally acceptable political agreement." The last round of [peace] negotiations ... fell apart in April 2014, with the two sides blaming each other. A few months later, Israel and Gaza were at war. Women Wage Peace was founded in the aftermath of the Gaza war, when organizers felt there was a need for a different approach. "Something happened in 2014," said Yael Triedel, an Israeli who participated in the march. "The recognition that this is it. We have to do it. The leaders didn't manage to do it so far, and it's our responsibility to make it happen." On Sunday evening, tens of thousands of women gathered ... for the conclusion of the peace march. Former Knesset member Shakib Shanan, whose son was one of two border police officers killed near Jerusalem's holiest site in mid-July, spoke at the park. "We are allowed to say this out loud - we are lovers of peace.

Note: Don't miss pictures of this beautiful and powerful event at the link above.


This Incredible Power Plant Produces Nothing But Electricity And Stone
2017-10-16, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/hellisheidi-power-plant-produces-nothin...

The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant situated on the mid-Atlantic ridge, is the newest and largest geothermal plant in Iceland - a country that heats 90% of its homes using geothermal water. The plant has now become the first in history to capture carbon dioxide from ambient air, using a system of fans and filters, and then store it in bedrock 700 metres down. There the gas reacts with basaltic rock and forms solid minerals, creating a permanent storage solution, and turning Hellisheidi into a negative emissions site. The EU-funded project [is] capable of capturing 50 metric tons of CO2 each year. Christoph Gebald, Founder and CEO at Climeworks, said: “The potential of scaling-up our technology in combination with CO2 storage, is enormous. Our plan is to offer carbon removal to individuals, corporates and organizations as a means to reverse their non-avoidable carbon emissions.′ It also costs $600 per ton of carbon dioxide, a figure they are hoping to reduce to $100 per ton. Iceland currently runs 100% of it’s electricity from renewable sources.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This is what America's eco city of the future looks like
2017-10-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/16/texas-town-georgetown-ene...

[Dale] Ross is the mayor of Georgetown, population 65,000, and he has become a minor celebrity in environmental circles as a result of a pioneering decision in 2015 to get all the city’s electricity from renewable sources. Georgetown’s location in oil-and-gas-centric Texas and Ross’s politics add to the strangeness of the tale. The mayor is a staunch Republican. “You should see the fan mail that I get, especially with the movies,” Ross grinned. The 58-year-old said the decision to follow the lead of Burlington, Vermont – the first US city to run solely on renewable energy – was not the product of liberal do-gooder vapours wafting up Interstate 35 from nearby Austin. It was based on cold-eyed pragmatism, the fruit of the kind of careful numerical analysis he performs in his day job as a certified public accountant. “The revolution is here,” he said. “And I’m a good little Republican, a rightwing fiscal conservative. When it comes to making decisions based on facts, that’s what we do.” The facts, Ross said, are that when Georgetown negotiated power supply deals the cost was about the same between natural gas and wind and solar, but the natural gas option would provide only a seven-year guaranteed contract whereas 20-25 year proposals were on the table from renewable providers. Georgetown officials decided to lock in a long-term rate to eliminate price volatility. [Energy] prices in the city, Ross said, have declined from 11.4˘ per kilowatt hour in 2008 to 8.5˘ this year.

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The US government keeps spectacularly underestimating solar energy installation
2017-10-19, Quartz
https://qz.com/1103874/the-us-government-underestimated-solar-energy-installa...

Every two years, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), America’s official source for energy statistics, issues 10-year projections about how much solar, wind and conventional energy the future holds for the US. Every two years, since the mid-1990s, the EIA’s projections turn out to be wrong. Last year, they proved spectacularly wrong. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, and Statista recently teamed up to analyze the EIA’s predictions for energy usage and production. They found that the EIA’s 10-year estimates between 2006 to 2016 systematically understated the share of wind, solar and gas. Solar capacity, in particular, was a whopping 4,813% [or 48 times] more in 2016 than the EIA had predicted in 2006 it would be. The EIA regularly underestimates the growth in renewables but overestimates US fossil-fuel consumption. These estimates matter because they form the basis for actions by the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. The agency’s “projections bear little resemblance to market realities” because they ignore publicly available evidence, argues the clean-energy non-profit Advanced Energy Economy. Michael Grunwald at Politico reports the EIA seems to base its projections on the assumption that renewable energy costs won’t fall much, when in fact they keep plunging.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Genius inventor, 43, is helping scores of children by making state-of-the-art Spider-Man and Harry Potter-themed prosthetic arms in his garden shed
2017-05-20, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4525834/Inventor-Stephen-Davies-creat...

Inventor Stephen Davies was himself born without a left lower arm and never forgot the stigma of the NHS-issue prosthetic he wore as a child. After several years of not using one, [Davies] began looking at designs available on the NHS – only to discover they had barely improved in three decades. More sophisticated bionic arms ... can cost upwards of Ł30,000. However, having learned how far lighter limbs could be created on a 3D printer, he began to experiment in his garden shed. He has now set up Team UnLimbited, which creates customised ‘cool’ limbs for children, featuring their choice of colour and pattern. The father of three said, "We’ve done Iron Man designs, Harry Potter, Lego and Spider-Man. The key is making something the child actually wants to wear and feels is cool enough to show their friends. Sometimes children with prosthetics get bullied at school and something like this can make a huge difference to their confidence." The limbs work for children born without a lower arm. When the wearer moves their elbow, the fist closes, enabling objects to be grasped. Each arm costs about Ł30 to make, and takes a few days to print and assemble. All are made in the shed. Mr Davies – along with his partner ... Drew Murray – never charge the children for the cost of the limbs, and have instead raised their costs through crowdfunding.

Note: Watch a great video of smiling kids using their new hands.


Italy's high-rise forests take root around the world
2017-10-08, News 24/AFP
http://www.news24.com/Green/News/italys-high-rise-forests-take-root-around-th...

As balconies bristle with tree branches and sunshine dapples the leaves of thousands of plants, two apartment buildings in the heart of Milan have almost disappeared under lush forest. The brainchild of Milanese architect Stefano Boeri, the Bosco Verticale ... uses more than 20,000 trees and plants to adorn the high-rise buildings from top to bottom - a project now being exported all over the world. Cherry, apple and olive trees spill over balconies alongside beeches and larches, selected and positioned according to their resistance to wind and preference for sunlight or humidity. Boeri said the idea came from his obsession with trees and determination to make them "an essential component of architecture," particularly as a weapon to combat climate change. Boeri worked closely with botanists to create a nursery of a thousand trees that have been trained to grow under specific conditions. The team faced numerous challenges, from how the balconies should be structured to take the weight of the plants, to ... what needed to go into the soil. They even carried out resistance tests at a hurricane centre in Miami. "For every human being living in the building, there are about two trees, 10 shrubs and 40 plants," Boeri said. The vegetation soon transformed into a veritable wildlife park: 9,000 ladybirds brought over from Germany to eat parasites - to leave the plants pesticide free - multiplied over the space of a few weeks. "We did not expect ... the incredible amount of birds that nested here," Boeri said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Oil giant Shell bets on electric cars
2017-10-12, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/12/investing/shell-oil-buys-electric-car-charging/

One of the world's largest fossil fuel companies is betting on electric cars. Royal Dutch Shell revealed a deal on Thursday to acquire NewMotion, one of Europe's largest electric vehicle charging providers. NewMotion specializes in converting parking spots into electric charging stations. The Dutch firm has more than 30,000 electric charge points in Europe, [and] says its founding mission was to "contribute to a cleaner world by eradicating fossil fuels." Now, it will be owned by one of the world's largest fossil fuel companies, albeit one that is investing more on renewable energy. That makes sense because European investors and governments have been cracking down on oil's most reliable customer: the internal combustion engine. Norway, France, Germany and the U.K. have all announced efforts to phase out vehicles powered solely by fossil fuels. Shell is based in The Netherlands, where electric cars are popular and the government has set a target to boost sales even further. Barclays warned in a recent report that by 2025 oil demand could be lowered by 3.5 million barrels per day due to electric vehicles and increased fuel efficiency on conventional autos. If electric vehicles become one-third of the car market by 2040, oil demand could drop by 9 million barrels per day from today's levels, Barclays estimates.

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China Hastens the World Toward an Electric-Car Future
2017-10-09, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/09/business/china-hastens-the-world-toward-an...

There is a powerful reason that automakers worldwide are speeding up their efforts to develop electric vehicles - and that reason is China. Propelled by vast amounts of government money and visions of dominating next-generation technologies, China has become the world’s biggest supporter of electric cars. That is forcing automakers from Detroit to Yokohama and Seoul to Stuttgart to pick up the pace of transformation. Beijing has already called for one out of every five cars sold in China to run on alternative fuel by 2025. Last month, China issued new rules that would require the world’s carmakers to sell more alternative-energy cars here if they wanted to continue selling regular ones. China has reshaped industries before. This, however, would be on a different scale. If China succeeds - and there is no guarantee - Beijing’s policy makers will be front and center reimagining the global auto industry. Already, China is the world’s largest maker and seller of electric cars. Chinese buyers are on track to snap up almost 300,000 of them this year, three times the number expected to be sold in the United States and more than the rest of the world combined. The country’s market heft is considerable. China buys more General Motors-branded cars than Americans do. Even for Tesla, the still-small American maker of luxury electric sedans, China has become the second-largest market, even though China’s taxes on imported cars are 10 times as high as those in the United States.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Man removes Nazi swastika tattoos after unlikely friendship
2017-09-25, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/US/man-removes-nazi-swastika-tattoos-friendship/story?i...

Colorado resident Michael Kent recently sat down at a tattoo parlor in Colorado Springs to have his swastikas covered up. Kent, a former neo-Nazi, credits an African-American parole officer named Tiffany Whittier with helping him to see beyond skin color and changing his views about white supremacy. “If it wasn’t for her I would have seeped back into it,” said Kent. “I look at her as family.” Whittier, 45, even inspired Kent, 38, to take down the Nazi flags he had hanging in his living room and replace them with smiley faces. “I’m not here to judge him. That’s not my job to judge. My job is to be that positive person in someone’s life,” Whittier said. Redemption Ink, a national non-profit that offers free removals of hate-related tattoos, helped connect Kent with Fallen Heroes Tattoo in Colorado to begin the 15-hour process of covering his swastikas. The sterile environment is new to Kent who had his previous ink work done in prison. “I’ve never, never, never been inside of a tattoo shop getting a professional tattoo,” he said. Kent believes the painful process will help him move forward after spending years as a member of a violent skinhead group based in Arizona. As a father of two young children, Kent also hopes his children will see the world differently. “I don’t want my kids to live the life I lived and live with hate,” said Kent. “I want my kids to know me for who I am now—a good father, a hard worker, and a good provider.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Love Little Free Libraries? These People Didn’t Stop at Books
2017-09-27, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/just-transition/love-little-free-libraries-...

From seed banks to free food pantries, the little library movement is taking off in neighborhoods across the country. Audrey Barbakoff ... wanted a place for people to share and donate vegetable, flower, and herb seeds. Barbakoff, who works as a librarian on Bainbridge Island, Washington, thought that the public library was the perfect place to house a seed library. In 2014, the group and the library staff teamed up to build a seed shed right behind the Bainbridge branch. Residents bring their seeds to the library and the staff organize, label, and store them in the shed where people are free to take what they need. In March, Holly Dyck ... decided to host a clothes swap on campus. Her idea caught on with more than 50 students who gathered in a student lounge to swap clothes that had rarely or never been worn. Darla Bradish ... heard about the Little Free Library movement and imagined a similar concept, but with food. “I see the need for little free food pantries in my community,” Bradish says. “It’s hard for some people ... to get to the local food bank, so I thought why not place little food pantries in the neighborhoods.” Bradish got her program, Kitsap Neighborhood Little Free Pantries, approved by her county’s public health district and set up the first two little pantries. The success of her project led to the local corrections department offering to build her more pantry boxes. “One guy got his paycheck, but couldn’t cash it until the next day,” she says. “So, he came to one of the pantries to find out what he was going to eat for dinner.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


New Marine Parks Protect 290,000 Square Miles of Ocean
2017-10-04, National Geographic
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/10/niue-chile-marine-parks-ocean-cons...

The countries of Chile and Niue just made a huge splash in the world of ocean conservation. Niue, a tiny South Pacific island nation with a population of roughly 1,600, has turned 40 percent of its exclusive economic zone into a marine park, and Chile added two new marine parks where fishing and all other extractive activities are banned. Together, the three new parks protect some 290,000 square miles of ocean - an area more than twice the size of Germany. The two countries will announce their new marine protected areas (MPAs) at the Our Ocean conference. The Niue reserve ... protects 49,000 square miles of ocean - more than 30 square miles for each man, woman, and child living on the island today. Like the similarly small Cook Islands, which have protected more than 700,000 square miles of ocean, Niue currently lacks representation in the UN. “It is no small feat for a small-island developing state to make such a tremendous and tangible contribution to ocean conservation,” says Brendon Pasisi, director of the Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) project. On the other side of the Pacific, Chile has unveiled two new reserves that protect 240,000 square miles of ocean from fishing and all other extractive activities - a combined area nearly the size of France. “Chile is a fishing country, and most fisheries there are fully exploited ... but this government has realized that there is no future of fisheries without significant protection,” says National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Google shows off wireless headphones that it says can translate languages on the fly
2017-10-04, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/04/google-translation-earbuds-google-pixel-buds-...

Google released a line of new products on Wednesday, including its first pair of premium wireless headphones, which can support live translation between languages. When the Google Pixel Buds are paired with a new handset, the Google Pixel 2, the earbuds can tap into Google Assistant, Google's artificially intelligent voice-activated product. In addition to the translation of 40 languages, Google Assistant can also alert users to notifications, send texts and give directions. The translation feature can be conjured by saying "help me speak French," or any other language. "It's an incredible application of Google Translate powered by machine learning - it's like having a personal translator by your side," [Google product manager Juston] Payne said. Payne and another Google employee demonstrated a conversation between someone speaking Swedish and another person responding in English. During the demonstration, one employee, speaking Swedish, had Pixel Buds and the Pixel phone. When the phone was addressed in English, the earbuds translated the phrase into Swedish in her ear. The Swedish speaker then spoke back in Swedish through the earbuds by pressing on the right bud to summon Google Assistant. Google Assistant translated that Swedish reply back into an English phrase, which was played through the phone's speakers so the English speaker could hear.

Note: Watch a demonstration of this new translation assistant in action at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'The man who saved the world' died and the world didn't notice — Who was Stanislav Petrov?
2017-09-18, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
http://www.ajc.com/news/world/the-man-who-saved-the-world-died-and-the-world-...

One September morning in 1983, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, a 44-year-old commanding officer with the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces, saved the world from erupting into nuclear war. Petrov died on May 19 ... at his home in the Moscow suburb of Fryazino. According to the New York Times, he lived at his Fryazino home alone on a pension. How did Petrov “save the world?” On Sept. 26, 1983, Oko (the Soviet Union’s early-warning satellite system for nuclear attack) detected that the United States had launched five ballistic missiles, all headed toward the USSR. But as the alarms went off and screens flashing the word “LAUNCH” lit up, Petrov, who was just a few hours into his shift as duty officer at command center Serpukhov-15, remained calm. “For 15 seconds, we were in a state of shock,” he told The Washington Post in 1999. Petrov’s gut feeling ... led him to believe the launch reports were probably false. “When people start a war, they don't start it with only five missiles,” he remembered thinking. He said his decision to stand down ... was “at best, a ‘50-50’ guess.” And, as Wired Magazine put it in 2007, “he hoped to hell he was right.” That gut feeling and Petrov’s calm, common-sense analysis saved the world from potential catastrophe. The satellite that signaled the false alarm had picked up the sun’s reflection atop the clouds, mistaking it for a missile launch. After the classified incident became public ... Petrov went on to earn the German Media Prize in 2012 (other GMP winners include Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama and Kofi Anan).

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Reading, writing and empathy: How Denmark is a leader in teaching social skills
2017-09-15, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2017/0915/Reading-writing-and-empathy-...

The importance of empathy as a character trait is garnering increased attention in an age of rapid technological change. In Denmark, empathy has long been a part of the zeitgeist of the nation, taught and valued everywhere, from preschools to corporate suites. By many measures, Denmark ... excels at instilling emotional well-being. Still, Denmark is facing challenges that would sound familiar to American educators. At the Hedegĺrdenes school ... one-third of the 400 students, from the first year of school through the ninth year, come from immigrant backgrounds, and another third from what administrators call troubled homes. As a result, says Thomas Brinch, vice principal, “the work with empathy is more important than ever. The kids need to treat each other with respect no matter where they are from, what their religion is.” Schools see empathy as a way to deal with another challenge as well: the saturation of social media. In the classroom of Ida Nielsen, a fifth-year teacher at the Hedegĺrdenes school ... the class has drawn up social media user guidelines together and is now discussing what they mean in practice. One of the first rules sounds simple enough: Don’t say anything mean. But it leads one boy to question if that just applies to people, or whether they may make negative statements about not liking longer school hours. Such discussions are crucial, says Ms. Nielsen, when asked about the pressures to devote time to academic learning during the day. “This is their lives,” she says.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


You don't usually hear this word at a rally
2017-09-23, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/23/opinions/you-dont-hear-this-at-a-rally-costello...

All you need is love. Love is all you need. I'm singing that old Beatles song in my head and trying to wrap my mind around a beautiful love-fueled relationship between members of Black Lives Matter and the most passionate Trump supporters. That word - love - came up in a conversation with Hawk Newsome, who represents Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. "At some point, we're going to have to talk to the other side," he told me. And realize, he added, sometimes the situation calls for "words, for love, for compassion, as opposed to words of anger." He realized that smack in the middle of hundreds of pro-Trumpers at the Mother of All Rallies event ... in Washington, DC. As Newsome and his fellow activists waded through the mostly white crowd, ready to do battle, something totally radical happened. A Trump supporter, speaking from a makeshift stage, invited him to speak. "We're going to give you two minutes of our platform to put your message out," the Trump supporter told Newsome. "Whether they disagree or agree with your message is irrelevant. It's the fact you have a right to have the message." "This was a first-time occurrence," [Newsome said]. "It was hostile before we were invited on that stage." But, when he took the stage and started shouting his beliefs and found that some in the crowd actually listened, that word popped into his head - love. It's a small thing, which shines the light on what we already know - love and compassion go a long way. We just have to listen to that song in our heads.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Wind power is now cheaper than nuclear – the energy revolution is happening
2017-09-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/26/offshore-wind-power-ene...

In March I went to see Henrik Poulsen, the boss of Dong Energy, in Copenhagen. Dong stands for Danish oil and natural gas. It was, like Shell and BP, involved in fossil fuel exploration and production. But in less than a decade it has become an 85% offshore wind company, and is divesting its coal, oil and gas interests. By 2023, Dong Energy will be very close to zero carbon. That is a pretty staggering transformation in a very short space of time. Talking to Poulsen made me realise that we were on the cusp of a quiet revolution. From being the most expensive form of renewable energy, offshore wind was fast becoming the cheapest form of large-scale, low-carbon generation bar none. As Poulsen said: “When you go 10 years into the future and you look back, I think we will look at these years, 2016, 2017, 2018, as the inflection point. I think we’ll look back and say wow ... Something happened for wind and solar energy during those years that completely changed the dynamic.” But he also said that “without the UK government and what they have done for the past five or six years, we wouldn’t have been where we are today. I’m glad to see that it’s paying off.” There’s a pleasing symmetry in fighting climate change, a truly enormous problem that remains invisible to most people in the UK, with offshore wind, an equivalently huge and equally invisible solution.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The man who sews with his toes: Indian tailor creates bespoke garments… despite not having any ARMS
2017-07-20, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4713808/Armless-Indian-tailor-creates-garments-feet.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4713808/Armless-Indian-tailor-creates...

Madan Lal, 45, from Haryana in India was born without arms but learnt to adapt to the demands of everyday life by using his feet. Now he uses his talented toes to stitch beautiful garments from a shop in his village. He said: 'All the stitching work I do with my feet. From cutting the cloth to measurement, I have to use my feet.' He said: 'When I was young almost every school denied me admission because of my disability. My family couldn't afford to educate me, and I thought ... I'll have to do something to survive in this life.' At the age of 23, Mr Lal decided to take up tailoring, but found it very difficult to get any training. A determined Mr Lal decided to travel to Fatehabad and search for a tailor who was willing to train him. He said: 'I went to Fatehabad to learn stitching from a tailor. He initially refused to teach me. He said, "You don't have any arms, how would you do stitching?" 'I said, "Just give me one chance". He said okay and within 10 to 15 days my teacher started saying, "You will become successful". And I became very happy.' Within a year, Mr Lal had learned the art of tailoring and had opened a shop in his village. The impact on his life was immediate. 'That day I forgot all the sufferings. It was the best day of my life. I saw people coming to my shop to greet me. The whole village was happy, as if they were part of my family.' And now Madan's talent has overcome even the most sceptical of his villagers, and his exploits have made him something of a local hero. He said: 'Now everyone at our village comes to my shop.'

Note: Don't miss the inspiring 3-minute video of this very capable man.


Forget getting rich - sex and sleep are the real keys to happiness
2017-09-19, MSN/The Telegraph
http://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/mindandbody/forget-getting-rich-sex-and-sleep...

It is often said that money doesn’t bring happiness, but researchers may have found the two things that do – sex and sleep. The Living Well Index, developed by researchers Oxford Economics, found that spending time in the bedroom is a lot more significant than quadrupling your income. A poll carried out by the National Centre for Social Research found that the most rested people score 15 points higher on the index than those who struggled with their sleep. People who are deeply dissatisfied with their sex lives score seven points lower on average than those who say they were very satisfied. By the same metric, increasing household income from Ł12,500 to Ł50,000 results in an increase of just two points. The report ... said: “For the typical Brit, improving their sleep to the level of someone at the top of the index would be equivalent to them having over four times as much disposable income,” adding that sleep was the “strongest indicator of a broader sense of well-being”. Other factors include living in a strong community, job security and the health of close relatives. The analysis also found ... a strong association between happiness and having a young child at home. “Baby boomers” who were still in work were the second-happiest group because of good job security and a high standard of living. The survey of 8,250 adults also found that older people are objectively happier than younger ones – even when other factors, such as wealth and lifestyle, are controlled.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Survival of the Friendliest
2014-09-29, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/survival...

The Compassion Games is an annual international competition or ‘coopetition’ as they like to call it, which ran from 9-21 September where teams and individuals around the world compete to be the most compassionate. The games have grown to include teams of all kinds from all over the world including schools, families, community groups and even prisons (last year a prison in California entered and had its first ever 11-day period without a single act of violence). For individuals, like myself, there is the ‘secret agent of compassion’ option which is a series of 11 missions emailed to you daily over the course of the games. The missions include doing random acts of kindness, caring for the environment or the local neighbourhood, supporting charitable organisations and even just fully appreciating an everyday activity like brushing your teeth. My own 11 days of compassion involved ... making a tangible act of appreciation for the environment (I planted some seeds in our communal garden) and engaging in an activity that made someone smile (I joined in with my girlfriend’s fitness workout – boy did that one work!). How did I get into all this? A newsletter in my inbox. Karen Armstrong, the former nun turned religious writer ... had won the TED Prize. Granted one wish by TED to change the world, she had chosen to set up a Charter for Compassion to implement the Golden Rule ... across the globe. I hit ‘subscribe’ to the newsletters and one day received an email about the Compassion Games.

Note: Watch a short, inspiring video on how the compassion games changed a woman's prison from a culture of violence to one of caring. For more, see this inspiring article and this one.


Can 10 Minutes of Meditation Make You More Creative?
2017-08-29, Harvard Business Review
https://hbr.org/2017/08/can-10-minutes-of-meditation-make-you-more-creative

What do you do when you run out of good ideas? One increasingly popular solution is mindfulness meditation. Google, Goldman Sachs, and Medtronic are among the many leading firms that have introduced meditation and other mindfulness practices to their employees. Meditation is not only useful as a stress-reduction tool but can also enhance creativity, opening doors where once there seemed to be only a wall. To further verify that creativity is among the early benefits of mindfulness meditation ... we set up an experiment. One hundred twenty-nine participants (all of them students) were divided into three groups and assigned a creative task: Generate as many business ideas as possible for using drones. Before the individual brainstorming began, one group participated in a 10-minute audio-guided mindfulness meditation, and a second group participated in a 10-minute fake meditation exercise (they were instructed to think freely by letting their minds wander). A third group started to brainstorm immediately. Each of the three groups generated roughly the same number of ideas. The main difference was that meditators ... demonstrated a 22% wider range of ideas than the two non-meditating groups. We also found that a short meditation, similar to physical exercise, often put people in a more positive and relaxed frame of mind. In the group that had meditated, most people felt less negative. In particular, meditation decreased participants’ feeling of restlessness (by 23%), nervousness (by 17%), and irritation (by 24%).

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why Finland has the best schools
2016-03-18, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0318-doyle-finnish-schools-2016031...

Finland has a history of producing the highest global test scores in the Western world, as well as a trophy case full of other recent No. 1 global rankings, including most literate nation. In Finland, children don't receive formal academic training until the age of 7. Until then, many are in day care and learn through play, songs, games and conversation. Most children walk or bike to school, even the youngest. School hours are short and homework is generally light. Unlike in the United States, where many schools are slashing recess, schoolchildren in Finland have a mandatory 15-minute outdoor free-play break every hour of every day. Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning. One evening, I asked my son what he did for gym that day. “They sent us into the woods with a map and compass and we had to find our way out,” he said. In Finland teachers are the most trusted and admired professionals next to doctors. “Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians,” one Finnish childhood education professor told me. “We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell businesspeople to stay out of our building.” Skeptics might claim that the Finnish model would never work in America's inner-city schools. But what if the opposite is true? What if high-poverty students are the children most urgently in need of the benefits that, for example, American parents of means obtain for their children in private schools, things that Finland delivers on a national public scale.

Note: For more, read this informative article.


This Pen Can Diagnose Cancer in 10 Seconds
2017-09-06, Time
http://time.com/4928010/diagnose-cancer-pen/

When it comes to treating cancer, surgeons want to get rid of as much cancerous tissue as possible during tumor removal. Now a new technology - the size of a pen - is attempting to make that easier by distinguishing between tumors and healthy tissue in just 10 seconds. The MasSpec Pen is a real-time diagnostic tool created by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers report that their handheld device (which is not yet FDA-approved) uses tiny droplets of water to analyze human tissue samples for cancer. “It’s a gentle, simple chemical process,” says study author Livia Schiavinato Eberlin. “It’s highly specific and highly sensitive. The fact that it’s non-destructive brings a new approach to cancer diagnosis.” Getting rid of all cancerous tissue while also preventing any harm to healthy tissue is a delicate process. Other tools available to surgeons for tissue diagnosis ... use gases or solvents that can be harmful for the human body [and] are slower than the MasSpec Pen. In the study, the researchers tested 253 human tissue samples from lung, ovary, thyroid and breast cancer tumors and compared them to samples of healthy tissues. The device was 96% accurate at identifying cancerous tissues. The researchers also tested the MasSpec Pen in live mice with tumors and found that the device was able to identify the presence of cancer without harming healthy surrounding tissues.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Nuclear plans 'should be rethought after fall in offshore windfarm costs'
2017-09-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/11/huge-boost-renewable-powe...

The government is under pressure to reconsider its commitment to a new generation of nuclear power stations after the cost of offshore wind power reached a record low. Experts said green energy had reached a tipping point in the UK after two windfarms secured a state-backed price for their output that was nearly half the level awarded last year to Britain’s first new nuclear power site in a generation, Hinkley Point C. Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the breakthrough should prompt a rethink of the government’s energy plans, which have pencilled in atomic plants at Wylffa in Wales, Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex. “The spectacular drop in the cost of offshore wind is extremely encouraging and shows the need for a radical reappraisal by government of the UK’s energy provision,” he said. The government spending watchdog this year described Hinkley as a “risky and expensive” project that generations of British consumers will have to pay for through electricity bills. The auction results are unlikely to halt the Hinkley project. But they pose a serious dilemma for ... new nuclear power plants around the UK and are likely to feed into a flagship government review of energy costs out next month. Most industry watchers had expected future nuclear projects to cost Ł80-Ł90 per MWh, a long way from the Ł62.14 average awarded to offshore windfarms. The price of building offshore windfarms has fallen by nearly a third since 2012 as the technology matured.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Idaho town that stared down hate – and won
2017-08-31, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2017/0831/The-Idaho-town-that-stared-do...

From his self-proclaimed Aryan Nations church, a retired engineer named Richard Butler preached hate to his followers. [The Idaho town of] Coeur d’Alene became code for white supremacists. But what happened here offers an antidote of hope. The community came together, rejecting the vision of Mr. Butler’s small band, and organizing a tenacious effort to drive them out. [Norman] Gissel and others involved in that campaign ... embraced some old-fashioned phrases – freedom, equality, and justice – and decided on a way to challenge the Aryan Nations. When the Aryan Nations marched, the group sponsored counter protests as far away as Spokane to draw the crowds down. For one event, [organizer Tony] Stewart enlisted local businesses and individuals to pledge money to human rights groups for every minute of a planned Aryan Nations march, and then publicly urged Butler to march slowly to raise more money for his opponents. “They marched for 27 minutes and we got $34,000,” Stewart chuckled. It was the group’s violence that finally brought it down ... in 1998. The compound’s guards ... terrorized [an American Indian woman and her son] at gunpoint. The Southern Poverty Law Center pounced on the incident, bringing lawsuits on behalf of the victims. They won a $6.3 million judgment in 2000 against Butler, and two of his bodyguards served prison time for assault. Butler’s compound was seized in the judgment, used as a training exercise by the fire department and burned to the ground.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


One Man Single-Handedly Plants Forest Bigger Than Central Park
2014-10-28, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/10/28/jadav-payeng-forest-man-majuli_n_6026...

In the middle of a braided river tucked in a remote northeastern region of India, one man planted a forest that has now outgrown the size of New York City’s Central Park. As a teenager in the 1970s, Jadav Payeng noticed a rush of snakes washing ashore, dead. Erosion had scrubbed away vegetation from Majuli island sandbars, stripping away grassy cover and ultimately forcing many native species to flee. Floodwaters transformed some parts into barren landscapes. Its shorelines receded with every monsoon rain. The island, Payeng’s birthplace, was rapidly shrinking. Rather than sitting idly by, waiting for strong river waters to destroy his home and push his family inland, Payeng planted trees. He started in 1979, scattering seeds and stabbing the bare earth repeatedly with a stick to forge holes deep enough for the delicate roots of young saplings. The goal was to grow a forest to stave off erosion in the area. But as his trees grew bigger, Payeng says it dawned on him they were going to be increasingly difficult to protect. “The biggest threat was from men. They would have destroyed the forest for economic gain and the animals would be vulnerable again," he said in a documentary about his forest. He quietly continued planting trees on Majuli for 30 years. Today, Payeng’s forest measures 1,400 acres, a remarkable accomplishment that dwarfs Central Park’s 843 acres. Rhinoceroses, deer, tigers, and as many as 115 elephants have moved in to the dense forest.

Note: Watch the award-winning 16-minute documentary about this amazing man at the link above. If one man can do this, imagine what might be achieved if the government put some money and labor into this kind of project.


Discipline With Dignity: Oakland Classrooms Try Healing Instead of Punishment
2014-09-14, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/820/discipline-with-dignity-oakland-classrooms...

Nelson Mandela’s adage, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends,” captures the profoundly inclusive nature of restorative justice (RJ). The hallmark of RJ is intentionally bringing together people ... who have harmed with people who have been harmed in a carefully prepared face-to-face encounter where everyone listens and speaks with respect and from the heart. The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the alarming national trend of punishing and criminalizing our youth instead of educating and nurturing them. Exclusionary discipline policies such as suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests are increasingly being used to address even the most minor infractions. Use of suspensions has almost doubled since the 1970’s. A UC Berkeley Law study found [Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth]’s 2007 middle school pilot eliminated violence and expulsions, while reducing school suspension rates by 87 percent. In 2010, the Oakland, Calif. school board passed a resolution adopting RJ as a system-wide alternative to zero-tolerance discipline and as a way of creating stronger and healthier school communities. Young high school students in Oakland with failing grades and multiple incarcerations who were not expected to graduate not only graduate but achieve 3.0-plus GPAs. Today hundreds of Oakland students are ... empowered to engage in restorative processes ... in a safe and respectful space, promoting dialogue, accountability, a deeper sense of community, and healing.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Pollution levels in Bolivia plummet on nationwide car-free day
2017-09-03, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/sep/03/bolivia-car-free-day-pollution

Air pollution levels have plunged in cities across Bolivia as the country marked a nationwide car-free day in which all non-emergency vehicles were banned from city streets. As Bolivia’s middle-class population has increased over the past 10 years so has the number of cars clogging city streets. The car-free event started 18 years ago in Cochabamba, one of Latin America’s five most polluted cities, and has gradually taken root across the country. By 2011, it had become so popular that Bolivia’s legislature declared a yearly “Day of the Pedestrian and Cyclist in Defence of Mother Earth”. Families love it. Jesus Romero, who lives on the northern edge of Cochabamba, said: “We really enjoy that it is so quiet and peaceful without any cars around, and that’s there’s space in the streets for the kids to play.” Deyanira López, 14, highlighted another benefit. “Our city is very beautiful but you just don’t see it because of all the cars,” she said. Andres Clares, 16, agreed, saying: “I really like walking at least one day without cars. It’s quieter and the air is so much fresher.” In a typically noisy city, the sudden silence is striking. This year the event’s catchphrase is “leave your green footprint in Cochabamba”. Six eco-stations are focused on different themes in coordination with local businesses and charities. “These educate about the air, animals, water, recycling, protected areas and trees,” said Gaviota Borda, head of the municipal department of environmental protection.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Probiotic Bacteria Could Protect Newborns From Deadly Infection
2017-08-16, NPR
http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/08/16/543920822/probiotic-bacte...

Scientists in the U.S. and India have found an inexpensive treatment that could possibly save hundreds of thousands of newborns each year. And it turns out, the secret weapon was sitting in Asian kitchens all along: probiotic bacteria that are common in kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables. Feeding babies the microbes dramatically reduces the risk newborns will develop sepsis, scientists report ... in the journal Nature. Sepsis is a top killer of newborns worldwide. Each year more than 600,000 babies die of the blood infections. "All the sudden the baby stops being active. It stops crying and breastfeeding," says Dr. Pinaki Panigrahi, a pediatrician ... who led the study. For the past 20 years, Panigrahi has been working on a way to prevent sepsis. The tricky part, Panigrahi says, was figuring out the best strain of bacteria to protect against sepsis. "We screened more than 280 strains," Panigrahi says. "So it was a very methodical process." In the end, the one that seemed the most promising was a strain of lactobacillus plantarum. So Panigrahi and his team decided to move forward with a large-scale study. They were shocked by how well the bacteria worked. Babies who ate the microbes for a week ... had a dramatic reduction in their risk of death and sepsis. They dropped by 40 percent, from 9 percent to 5.4 percent. But that's not all. The probiotic also warded off several other types of infections, including those in the lungs. Respiratory infections dropped by about 30 percent. A course of the probiotic costs about $1 per baby.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, psychologists find
2017-08-10, Science Daily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170810141729.htm

Pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat, while embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, according to new UC Berkeley research. "We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health," said study senior author Iris Mauss. "Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you're not giving them as much attention," Mauss said. "And perhaps, if you're constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up." The study ... tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults. People who commonly resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or judge them harshly, can end up feeling more psychologically stressed. By contrast, those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment and resentment to run their course reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months. "It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being," said study lead author Brett Ford. "People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Hints of Trigonometry on a 3,700-Year-Old Babylonian Tablet
2017-08-29, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/science/trigonometry-babylonian-tablet.html

Two Australian mathematicians assert that an ancient clay tablet was a tool for working out trigonometry problems, possibly adding to the many techniques that Babylonian mathematicians had mastered. “It’s a trigonometric table, which is 3,000 years ahead of its time,” said Daniel F. Mansfield of the University of New South Wales. Dr. Mansfield and his colleague Norman J. Wildberger reported their findings last week in the journal Historia Mathematica. The tablet, known as Plimpton 322, was discovered in the early 1900s in southern Iraq and ... contains 60 numbers organized into 15 rows and four columns. With all the publicity, the tablet has been put on display at [Columbia] University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Plimpton 322 has been dated to between 1822 and 1762 B.C. One of the columns on Plimpton 322 is just a numbering of the rows from 1 to 15. The other three columns are ... Pythagorean triples - sets of integers, or whole numbers, that satisfy the equation a2 + b2 = c2. That by itself was remarkable given that the Greek mathematician Pythagoras, for whom the triples were named, would not be born for another thousand years. “You don’t make a trigonometric table by accident,” Dr. Mansfield said. “Just having a list of Pythagorean triples doesn’t help you much. That’s just a list of numbers. But when you arrange it in such a way so that you can use any known ratio of a triangle to find the other sides of a triangle, then it becomes trigonometry. That’s what we can use this fragment for.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Kenya brings in world's toughest plastic bag ban: four years jail or $40,000 fine
2017-08-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/28/kenya-brings-in-worlds-to...

Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000 (Ł31,000) from Monday, as the world’s toughest law aimed at reducing plastic pollution came into effect. The east African nation joins more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda, and Italy. Many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation. “If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish,” said Habib El-Habr, an expert on marine litter working with the UN environment programme in Kenya. Plastic bags, which El-Habr says take between 500 to 1,000 years to break down, also enter the human food chain through fish and other animals. In Nairobi’s slaughterhouses, some cows destined for human consumption had 20 bags removed from their stomachs. “This is something we didn’t get 10 years ago but now it’s almost on a daily basis,” said county vet Mbuthi Kinyanjui as he watched men in bloodied white uniforms scoop sodden plastic bags from the stomachs of cow carcasses. Kenya’s law allows police to go after anyone even carrying a plastic bag. But Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s environment minister, said enforcement would initially be directed at manufacturers and suppliers. It took Kenya three attempts over 10 years to finally pass the ban.

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Sowing seeds of hope in Harlem's children
2017-08-10, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/10/health/cnn-hero-tony-hillery-harlem-grown/index...

Six years ago, Tony Hillery was volunteering at a New York City public school in Harlem. In the lunchroom one day, he met a kindergartner who told him that tomatoes grew in the supermarket. "It was a real conversation, and she was adamant," he recalled. "And then I did an informal poll with the other students, and they agreed. They had no idea what is healthy food or where it comes from." Many students lived at or below the poverty line, he said, and lacked affordable, fresh food. But Hillery was shocked to find that many children couldn't properly identify vegetables. Across the street from the school was an abandoned community garden, and Hillery had an idea. He made a few calls, registered it with the city and turned it into what has become a thriving urban farm. "I got this big patch of dirt in the middle of Harlem, and I had never planted anything prior to then," he said. Today, his nonprofit, Harlem Grown, has 10 urban farms throughout the neighborhood. Hillery and his staff teach children how to grow food from seed to harvest and cook healthy meals using the fruits of their labor. Yet Hillery insists that urban farming is the hook to engage the youth. Then his group further enriches their lives through mentoring and exposure to higher education and possible career paths. "The whole world can come through this little farm," said Hillery, whose programs reach more than 4,000 young people a year. "Poverty is just lack of access. We bring that access and that opportunity here to them."

Note: Don't miss the video of this incredible project at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Once Shot For Advocating For Girls' Education, Malala Is Going To Oxford
2017-08-17, NPR
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/17/544191839/once-shot-for-adv...

Malala Yousafzai was only 15 when she was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan for campaigning for the education of girls. Now, she has been accepted to Oxford, one of the world's elite universities. She is also the youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She was co-laureate in 2014 with Kailish Satyarthi, an advocate for the rights of children in India. The Nobel committee cited their "struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education." A little more than a month ago, Malala posted this on her last day of secondary school: "I enjoyed my school years and I am excited for my future. But I can't help thinking of the millions of girls around the world who won't complete their education. I was almost one of those girls." Her father, an educator, was determined she would go to school. But in 2007 Taliban militants took control of Swat and banned the education of girls. It was then that Malala began blogging for the BBC about life under Taliban domination. In 2011, Malala returned to school and began publicly advocating for girls' education. While she was going home from classes one day in 2012, a masked gunman boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, then shot her. She survived but was flown in critical condition to London for treatment. After multiple surgeries, she relocated with her family to Birmingham, England. In a speech before the United Nations on her 16th birthday, Malala urged other young women to take action. "If you want to see your future bright, you have to start working now and not wait for anyone else," she said.

Note: Learn more about this inspiring girl's fight for equal education on the Malala Fund website. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


What Humpback Whales Can Teach Us About Compassion
2017-08-18, Smithsonian.com
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-humpback-whales-teach-us-co...

[Humpbacks whales] deliberately interfere with attacking killer whales to help others in distress. They don’t just defend their own babies or close relatives. They intervene on behalf of other species - a gray whale calf with its mother, a seal hauled out on an ice floe, even an ocean sunfish. Humpbacks act to improve the welfare of others; the classic definition of altruism. Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist ... describes a pivotal encounter he witnessed in Antarctica in 2009. A group of killer whales washed a Weddell seal they were attacking off an ice floe. A pair of humpbacks ... inserted themselves into the action. One of the huge humpbacks rolled over on its back and the 180-kilogram seal was swept up onto its chest between the whale’s massive flippers. And when the seal started slipping off, the humpback, according to Pitman, “gave the seal a gentle nudge with its flipper, back to the middle of its chest. Moments later, the seal scrambled off and swam to the safety of a nearby ice floe.” Pitman started asking people to send him similar accounts. Soon he was poring through observations of 115 encounters between humpbacks and killer whales, recorded over 62 years. So are humpbacks compassionate? When I pose the ... question to Pitman he [responds], “When a human protects an imperiled individual of another species, we call it compassion. If a humpback whale does so, we call it instinct. But sometimes the distinction isn’t all that clear.”

Note: Learn more about the amazing world of marine mammals.


China's Clean Energy Ambition Floats on Abandoned Coal Mine
2017-06-08, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-08/china-s-clean-energy-ambit...

China’s ambitions to dominate new energy technologies are unfolding at the site of an abandoned coal mine about 300 miles (483 kilometers) northwest of Shanghai. There, in Anhui province, Sungrow Power Supply Co. has built the world’s largest floating solar farm with 166,000 panels on a lake created when a nearby mine collapsed. While not an entirely unique idea - similar facilities are working in Japan, the U.K. and Israel - the project’s scale represents a step forward for China in shaping the future of energy. With plans to spend $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020, China is seeking to appear as a global leader on the environment, marking a contrast with U.S. President Donald Trump’s rebuke of the Paris Agreement on climate change. “The Chinese are really investing in the research and development side of innovation,” said Helen Clarkson, chief executive officer of The Climate Group, a non-governmental organization that works to promote clean energy technologies and policy. While Trump has said repeatedly he wants to stimulate fossil fuels and especially coal, China is funding a series of ground-breaking projects that generate power without pollution. Whether with massive floating solar farms like the one in Anhui, sprawling wind farms or ambitious plans to develop geothermal reserves, the world’s most-populous nation is asserting itself as a powerhouse of clean-energy technology.

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88-year-old Saskatoon man makes thousands of socks for shelters
2017-01-05, CBC News (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/88-year-old-saskatoon-man-socks-1.392...

It started as a dare. Bob Rutherford's friend didn't believe the Saskatoon man could make a cheap knitting machine that worked really, really fast. That's when Rutherford got to work. The now 88-year-old used sewer tubing to put together two super-powered machines. "It could be knitting at 90 stitches a second," he proudly said. And the octogenarian has now finished making 10,000 pairs of socks with the machines for shelters in Saskatoon and across the country. How on earth did he do it? He puts it rather simply: "The wool comes in the door and I knit it." Rutherford started making the socks seven years ago. "When my wife passed away in 2010, I felt the loss that everybody feels and had nothing to do," said Rutherford. "[My son] said to me, 'If you want to help yourself, help somebody else.'" He made the knitting machines years earlier, but had never really put them into action. And so he got to work, knitting every week. He calls the living room operation "Socks by Bob." Rutherford emphasizes the socks aren't only his doing — he also has help of a few friends. The group includes 92-year-old Glynn Sully, 85-year-old George Slater and "youngster" Barney Sullivan. "He's a really young guy, 65 maybe," said Rutherford. "Very good company." Just in the last year, they've made more than 2,000 pairs of socks. It's the connection with the group that keeps Rutherford knitting. "I think everybody has to have this. I think people have to reach out and touch other people. And I can do this by touching the socks," said Rutherford.

Note: Don't miss the video of this creative and compassionate man's workshop in action at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


All slaughterhouses in England to have compulsory CCTV
2017-08-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/11/all-slaughterhouses-in-en...

All slaughterhouses in England will be fitted with compulsory CCTV under plans to be unveiled on Friday by environment secretary Michael Gove, as part of a series of measures to bolster welfare standards and enforce laws against animal cruelty. The government will also raise standards for farm animals and domestic pets by modernising statutory animal welfare codes to reflect enhancements in medicines, technological advances and the latest research and advice from vets. The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat. Animal welfare groups have been calling for compulsory cameras – backed by an independent monitoring system for years, while the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, British Veterinary Association, Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the RSPCA have also all backed slaughterhouse CCTV. Between 2009 and 2016, the animal welfare group Animal Aid secretly filmed inside 11 randomly chosen UK slaughterhouses. Their undercover researchers found clear evidence of cruelty and law-breaking in 10 of those 11. UK supermarkets have also backed compulsory CCTV, with the vast majority now insisting that their suppliers have it.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The World's Biggest For-Profit College Company, Laureate Education, Raises $490 Million In Public Debut
2017-02-01, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurengensler/2017/02/01/laureate-education-init...

The largest for-profit college company on the planet raised $490 million in its public debut on Wednesday. Laureate Education, an education juggernaut that is backed by big-name investors like Henry Kravis and Steve Cohen and counts Bill Clinton as its former honorary chancellor, listed its stock on the Nasdaq. The company, which operates colleges primarily outside the United States, is notable for being the first public benefit corporation to go public. That means it incorporated as a new type of company that seeks to balance an appetite for profits with the desire to positively impact society. This is in addition to its certification as a B Corp by the non-profit B Lab, along with 2,000 other companies like Patagonia and Warby Parker, most of whom have opted to stay private. By casting itself as part of the do-gooder crowd and having such a small presence in the U.S., Laureate has managed to distance itself from the nation's for-profit college sector, which received increased scrutiny under the Obama Administration. Corinthian College, for instance, declared bankruptcy and closed its campuses after regulators zeroed on its marketing practices and high loan default rates among students. Laureate and its proponents portray the company as one that is focused on expanding access to higher education in emerging markets to support a rapidly-growing middle class.

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GM is selling a $5,000 electric car in China
2017-08-08, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/07/autos/gm-china-electric-car/?sr=twCNN080717gm...

General Motors will start selling a tiny electric car in China this week that will cost about $5,300 after national and local electric vehicle incentives. For that sort of price, the Baojun E100 is no Cadillac, of course. The two-seat car's wheelbase - the distance from the center of the front wheels to the center of the rear wheels - is just 63 inches. Prices for the car start at RMB 93,900, or about $14,000, before incentives. The E100, which is Baojun's first electric car, is powered by a single 39-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of 62 miles an hour. The E100 can drive about 96 miles on a fully charged battery. Baojun is a mass-market car brand from General Motors' SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture in China. It's China's eighth most popular car brand. More than 5,000 people have already registered to buy the first 200 vehicles, according to GM. Another 500 vehicles will be made available this week, and buyers will be chosen on a first-come-first-served basis, a GM spokesperson said. Sales will initially be limited to the Guanxi region of southern China, but GM plans to sell the car more widely in China. A GM spokesperson declined to say exactly how many it expects to sell. China is the largest automotive market in the world, and its government is making a big push for electric cars. Already, China accounts for 40% of all electric cars sold worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.

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Renowned Psychic Medium Matt Fraser
2016-04-26, CBS News (Tampa, Florida affiliate)
http://www.wtsp.com/entertainment/television/studio10/renowned-psychic-medium...

Matthew Fraser is an Internationally renowned psychic/medium and author of “The Secrets to Unlocking Your Psychic Ability”. He has conducted thousands of readings around the world, reconnecting friends & family with the spirits of those who are no longer with us. His messages of hope, comfort and reassurance have touched the lives of all who meet him, making Matt one of the most gifted and genuine psychics living today. He was no different than any other child although he was born with “The Sight”. As a child this extraordinary gift frightened him. He had kept his gift a secret for years, fearing that he would not be accepted. It wasn’t until Matt looked deeper into his abilities, that he understood being a medium was his calling and life’s mission. In the years that followed, Matt would become one of the world’s most respected Psychics. Now, as an adult, Matt is doing just that. Through his sold out live events, to the his one-on-one sessions and books, Matt is on a personal mission to reconnect as many people as possible with their loved ones in Heaven. He has answered questions for thousands of people with his incredible psychic gift and has been a highly sought after guest appearing on major media outlets across the nation ... due to his uncanny abilities. Today Matt continues his mission not only to share his gift with others, but also to provide assistance within the community through various fundraisers and benefits.

Note: Don't miss the incredibly touching video at the link above of Matt convincing two CBS News anchors that what he is doing is quite real.


New device can heal with a single touch, and even repair brain injuries
2017-08-07, USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/08/07/miracle-device-can-...

A new device developed at The Ohio State University can start healing organs in a "fraction of a second," researchers say. The technology, known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), has the potential to save the lives of car crash victims and even deployed soldiers injured on site. It's a dime-sized silicone chip that "injects genetic code into skin cells, turning those skin cells into other types of cells required for treating diseased conditions," according to a release. And, it not only works on skin cells, it can restore any type of tissue, Chandan Sen, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, said. For example, the technology restored brain function in a mouse who suffered a stroke by growing brain cells on its skin. This is a breakthrough technology, because it's the first time cells have been reprogrammed in a live body. “This technology does not require a laboratory or hospital and can actually be executed in the field," Sen said. "It’s less than 100 grams to carry and will have a long shelf life.” It is awaiting FDA approval, but Sen, who has been working on this for four years, expects TNT will be tested on humans within the year. He says he's talking with Walter Reed National Medical Center now. "We are proposing the use of skin as an agricultural land where you can essentially grow any cell of interest," Sen said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Mayor Ben McAdams posed as a homeless person for 3 days and 2 nights. Here’s what he saw
2017-08-06, Salt Lake Tribune (One of Utah's leading newspapers)
http://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2017/08/06/sl-co-mayor-ben-mcadams-posed-...

The first piece of advice he got was “Don’t take off your shoes.” The second, “Don’t go to the bathroom after dark.” Though Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams heeded both, it didn’t make him feel any less vulnerable ... as he settled in for a night at the downtown Road Home homeless shelter. He’d visited the grim neighborhood before. He’d read about ... the homeless people unable to access welfare services. Experiencing it firsthand was different. “That was shocking to me.” McAdams’ stay at The Road Home - what he describes as a fact-finding mission - was part of three days and two nights he spent posing as a homeless person to gather information before recommending a new shelter location. During his three days experiencing life on the streets, McAdams said his time was consumed by solving two pressing needs: Where am I going to sleep? And where am I going to get food? “You have to plan your day around that,” he said, realizing that leaves little energy left to search for jobs or housing. As he spoke with homeless people, listening to their stories and getting their input, McAdams bumped into a small family — a mom, dad and daughter — as they were leaving The Road Home. The little girl, nine years old, kept asking where they were going to sleep and what they were going to eat. The parents didn’t know. The encounter reaffirmed for McAdams his top priority: moving families out of the shelter’s harsh environment. That was accomplished July 15.

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Yoga can help improve symptoms of depression, study finds
2017-08-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/yoga-depression-symptoms-help-improve...

Scientists say that there is one form of exercise that could help improve low mood, anxiety and reduce stress - beating depression in some cases. At the 125th Annual Convention of the America Psychological Association, six presentations looked at studies which found yoga could have healing effects on people with depression of differing severities. One of the studies, conducted the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, found that male veterans who took twice-weekly yoga glasses for eight weeks had fewer symptoms. Another study, by Alliant University in San Francisco, found women aged 25 to 45 who took part in twice-weekly Bikram aka hot yoga sessions over a period of eight weeks also had significantly reduced depression symptoms compared to those on a waiting list for classes. The studies, which covered a wide range of ages, occupations and genders all found that there was a positive correlation between practising yoga and lessening symptoms or feelings of depression. The researchers add that while this form of exercise is proven to help, it shouldn’t replace traditional therapy completely. “We can only recommend yoga as a complementary approach, likely most effective in conjunction with standard approaches delivered by a licensed therapist,” explains Hopkins. “There seems to be a lot of potential.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The U.S. Military Believes People Have a Sixth Sense
2017-04-03, Time Magazine
http://time.com/4721715/phenomena-annie-jacobsen/

In 2014, the Office of Naval Research embarked on a four-year, $3.85 million research program to explore the phenomena it calls premonition and intuition. “We have to understand what gives rise to this so-called ‘sixth sense,’ says Peter Squire, a program officer in ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism department. Today’s Navy scientists place less emphasis on trying to understand the phenomena theoretically and more on using technology to examine the mysterious process, which Navy scientists assure the public is not based on superstition. “If the researchers understand the process, there may be ways to accelerate it — and possibly spread the powers of intuition throughout military units,” says Dr. Squire. Because of the stigma of ESP and PK, the nomenclature has changed, allowing the Defense Department to distance itself from its remote-viewing past. Under the Perceptual Training Systems and Tools banner, extrasensory perception has a new name in the modern era: “sensemaking.” Since 1972, CIA and DoD research indicates that premonition, or precognition, appears to be weak in some, strong in others, and extraordinary in a rare few. Will the Navy’s contemporary work on “sensemaking,” the continuous effort to understand the connections among people, places, and events, finally unlock the mystery of ESP? Might technology available to today’s defense scientists reveal hypotheses not available to scientists in an earlier age?

Note: The above was written by Annie Jacobson, journalist and author of the bestselling book, "Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government's Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis." Learn more about government-sponsored research and work with ESP and remote viewing on this excellent web page.


Jordanian parliament moves to end 'marry the rapist' clause
2017-08-01, Christian Science Monitor/Associated Press
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2017/0801/Jordanian-parliament-mo...

The lower house of Jordan's parliament on Tuesday scrapped a provision in the kingdom's penal code that allowed a rapist to escape punishment if he married his victim. Cheers and applause erupted from a packed spectators' gallery as legislators voted for repeal, following an emotional debate in which some of the lawmakers jumped up and yelled at each other. The vote was hailed as a major step forward for women in the conservative kingdom. Many areas of Jordan remain socially conservative, with entrenched notions of "family honor." This includes the belief that having a rape victim in the family is shameful, and that such "shame" can be expunged through marriage. In Tuesday's debate, some lawmakers had argued that an amended version of Article 308 was needed to protect rape victims against social stigma by giving them the marriage option. In the end, lawmakers voted in line with the recommendations of the government and a royal committee on legal reforms. The decision must still be approved by parliament's appointed upper house, or Senate, and by King Abdullah II. After the expected final approval, Jordan would join Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt which have canceled their "marry the rapist" clauses over the years. The international rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Lebanon's parliament is also considering repealing such a provision. The clause remains on the books in several other countries in the Middle East and Latin America, as well as in the Philippines and Tajikistan, HRW said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


U.S. Nuclear Comeback Stalls as Two Reactors Are Abandoned
2017-07-31, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/climate/nuclear-power-project-canceled-in-...

In a major blow to the future of nuclear power in the United States, two South Carolina utilities said on Monday that they would abandon two unfinished nuclear reactors in the state, putting an end to a project that was ... plagued by delays and cost overruns. The two reactors, which have cost the utilities roughly $9 billion, remain less than 40 percent built. The cancellation means there are just two new nuclear units being built in the country - both in Georgia - while more than a dozen older nuclear plants are being retired in the face of low natural gas prices. Originally scheduled to come online by 2018, the V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina had been plagued by disputes with regulators and numerous construction problems. Under South Carolina law, the utilities were allowed to charge ratepayers for construction costs before the reactors were finished. The nuclear project now accounts for 18 percent of the electric bills of South Carolina Electric & Gas’s residential customers. Santee Cooper, a state-owned utility, has increased rates five times to pay for the reactors. Some environmental groups are now urging state regulators to refund those charges, arguing that the companies misled their customers. “It was evident from the start that cost overruns, schedule delays and problems with an untested construction method” would doom the project, said Tom Clements, a senior adviser at Friends of the Earth. State regulators have set a hearing on the issue for October.

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Driving Tesla’s Model 3 Changes Everything
2017-07-31, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-31/driving-tesla-s-model-3-ch...

If you’ve ever driven Tesla’s flagship vehicle - the $140,000 Model S P100D - you’ve experienced an unparalleled version of driving power. Zero to 60 in 2.3 seconds punches you back in the seat. Some people live for that feeling. I’m not one of them. After taking one of the first drives of Tesla’s new Model 3 last week, I came away thinking that CEO Elon Musk has finally delivered an electric car for the everyday road tripper like me. The Model 3 still has plenty of pickup, [and] gets a stunning 310 miles on a charge. The fact that this car still looks, drives, and feels like a Tesla - at a starting price of $35,000 - shows how far the Silicon Valley automaker has come. At current battery prices, Tesla is setting a new standard for value in an electric car. Since Musk handed over keys to the first 30 cars on Friday, I’ve heard a lot of people trying to compare the Model 3 to GM’s all-electric Chevy Bolt. Although they’re similarly priced and both run on batteries, the parallel ends there. The Bolt is basically an economy gasoline car that’s been electrified; the Model 3 is, well, something altogether different. Tesla aims to sell 500,000 electric cars next year. The bigger battery is a gamechanger. Only one other electric car in the world has broken the 300-mile range barrier: the most expensive version of Tesla’s Model S, an ultra-luxury car that starts at $97,500. The new Model 3 has won Tesla the trophy for cheapest range for the money, defeating the $37,500 Bolt, which is outclassed by the Model 3 in virtually every category.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Vets Are Using Transcendental Meditation to Treat PTSD—With the Pentagon’s Support
2017-07-22, Mother Jones
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/07/vets-are-using-transcendental-med...

Mary-Ann Rich rises at precisely 4:45 every morning. After feeding her cat, she ... sits for 20 minutes, motionless, her mind drifting far from the images of burned and blown up bodies that have haunted her for a decade. For the past four years, Rich has repeated this daily ritual to help heal her emotional scars from the 18 months she spent as an Army nurse in Iraq. After being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she bounced from one treatment to another without much effect. Then she was introduced to Transcendental Meditation, or TM. She says that TM, more than any kind of therapy or pharmaceutical, has kept [the] horrors [of PTSD] at bay. Thousands of veterans ... have turned to TM to treat their PTSD - with blessing of the Pentagon and the Veterans Administration, which are struggling to treat the epidemic levels of PTSD and suicide among Iraq and Afghanistan vets. Aided by $30 million in grants from the Pentagon and the National Institutes of Health, [the nonprofit David Lynch Foundation] has worked ... to bring TM to vets and active-duty soldiers. TM practitioners receive a secret mantra - a meaningless word-sound - and repeat it to trigger a free-flowing 20-minute meditation twice a day. Colonel Brian Rees ... served as a doctor in Iraq and Afghanistan. TM’s simplicity, Rees says, is uniquely suited to the job of treating PTSD. In 2011, he researched 33 different meditation techniques and found that TM had the greatest potential to bolster soldiers’ resilience.

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Inspired by nature: the thrilling new science that could transform medicine
2016-10-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/oct/25/bioinspiration-thrilling-new-...

In the summer of 2005, Jeffrey Karp, a bioengineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital [read an] article [detailing] how a group of researchers had created a new synthetic material by mimicking the properties of gecko feet – whose tiny, hair-like pillars allow the lizard to stick to and detach from apparently sheer surfaces with ease. His first thought was to use the material to create a new type of medical tape that could replace sutures and staples, which can damage sensitive tissue surrounding wounds. In 2008, MIT’s Technology Review magazine named Karp one of the top innovators in the world under the age of 35. Karp, who is now 40 and runs his own lab ... is what is known in the business as a bioinspirationalist – a person who looks to nature for solutions to scientific problems. The gecko tape was Karp’s first bioinspired invention. Karp’s current projects include surgical staples inspired by porcupine quills, which create smaller punctures in the skin and prevent bacteria from entering wounds, and a new kind of surgical glue inspired by ... marine worms, which is strong enough to bind moving tissue inside major organs. This last invention has helped to cement Karp’s reputation as a rising star in the world of bioengineering. Because he doesn’t just invent cool stuff – he turns his creations into actual products. “When we look to solve problems, it’s not so we can publish papers,” said Nick Sherman, a research technician at Karp Lab. “It’s more like, ‘Is this work going to help patients?’”

Note: Don't miss pictures and detailed descriptions of some of Karp's nature-inspired inventions at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


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