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.
As the year draws to a close, there are reasons to feel cautiously optimistic about areas in which the environment scored victories in 2021. Delayed by a year as a result of COVID-19, November's COP26 - the United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Glasgow - welcomed the world's second-largest fossil-fuel emitter, the United States, back to the negotiating table after four years of inaction on climate change. By the summit's end, the U.S. and China had made a surprise joint declaration to work together on meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. The biggest news in forest conservation was the pledge at the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow to end deforestation by 2030; the commitment includes a pledge to provide $12 billion in funding to "help unleash the potential of forests and sustainable land use." The Biden administration spent part of its first year restoring habitat protections that had been rolled back by its predecessor. Perhaps the most prominent was the re-establishment of full protection for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments in southern Utah, as well as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument off New England. Populations of some of the world's most iconic species are showing some improvement as a result of protective measures. Humpback whales, whose haunting songs helped build support for the "Save the Whales" campaign that ushered in the modern environmental movement, are increasing in number in many parts of their range.
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Tropical forests can bounce back with surprising rapidity, a new study published today suggests. An international group of researchers looking at a number of aspects of tropical forests has found that the potential for regrowth is substantial if they are left untouched by humans for about 20 years. For example, soil takes an average of 10 years to recover its previous status, plant community and animal biodiversity take 60 years, and overall biomass takes a total of 120, according to their calculations." This is due in part to a multidimensional mechanism whereby old forest flora and fauna help a new generation of forest grow – a natural process known as "secondary succession". These new findings ... suggest that it is not too late to undo the damage that humanity has done through catastrophic climate change over the last few decades. "That's good news, because the implication is that, 20 years ... that's a realistic time that I can think of, and that my daughter can think of, and that the policymakers can think of," said Lourens Poorter ... lead author of the paper. This idea of natural regeneration is frequently disregarded in favour of tree plantations, but according to Poorter, the former yields better results than restoration plantings. "Compared to planting new trees, it performs way better in terms of biodiversity, climate change mitigation and recovering nutrients." The takeaway message is that we don't necessarily need to plant more trees when nature is doing it by itself, Poorter said.
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The sweetest Thanksgiving tradition this side of candied yams is back! Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench will once again get together for the holiday, six years after she accidentally sent him a text inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner, believing she had texted her own grandson. "We are all set for year 6!" Hinton posted Sunday on Twitter, acknowledging that it will be the sixth straight year they have spent Thanksgiving together. He also posted a text message Dench shared inviting him, his girlfriend and his family to dinner. "It would bring my great joy if you, Mikaela and your family would come to my house on Thanksgiving day to share good food and great conversation. Your friend always, Wanda." Hinton, who accepted the invitation, also posted a selfie featuring him and Dench. Hinton and Dench went viral in 2016 after she texted him, saying she's hosting Thanksgiving dinner and would love it if he could attend, thinking she was texting her grandson. They then swapped photos. "You not my grandma," he wrote. "Can I still get a plate tho" Dench didn't miss a beat. "Of course you can," she replied. "That's what grandma's do ...feed every one." Last year, Dench and Hinton (along with Mikaela) met up prior to Thanksgiving, along with a small group of her family, including "the grandson that originally started all of this by changing his phone number and not telling me he changed it," [she said]. "He's changed my life a lot, I know that."
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Swastikas on the wall become giant cupcakes with purple icing, and the words "my Hitler" are transformed into "my muffins". All in a day's work for the Italian street artist who fights racism by turning nasty graffiti into food. "I take care of my city by replacing symbols of hate with delicious things to eat," says the 39-year-old artist, whose real name is Pier Paolo Spinazze and whose professional name, Cibo, is the Italian word for food. On a recent sunny morning he had been alerted by one of his 363,000 Instagram followers that there were swastikas and racial slurs in a small tunnel on the outskirts of Verona. Up he turned, wearing his signature straw hat and necklace of stuffed sausages. He took out his bag of spray paints and set to work, while cars drove by beeping. He covered up the slurs with a bright slice of margherita pizza and a caprese salad - mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. A swastika was transformed into a huge red tomato. As he has become a local celebrity in Verona, he has also made enemies: "Cibo sleep with the lights on!" someone spray painted on a wall. He turned the threat into the ingredients of a gnocchi recipe. "Dealing with extremists is never good, because they are violent people, they are used to violence, but they are also cowards and very stupid," Spinazze said. "The important thing is to rediscover values that we may have forgotten, especially anti-fascism and the fight against totalitarian regimes that stem from the Second World War," he said.
Scientists have developed a novel therapy that promotes recovery from spinal cord injury and reverses paralysis in mice. In the research published in the journal Science ... scientists administered a single injection to tissues surrounding the spinal cords of paralysed mice. Just four weeks later, the rodents could walk again. The therapy, administered in the form of a gel, works by organising molecules at the injury site into a complex network of nanofibers mimicking the natural matrix found in all tissues that play a major role in wound healing and cell to cell communication, the study noted. This gel tunes the motion of molecules at the injury sites, enabling them to find and properly engage with constantly moving receptors on cells, said the researchers. "The key innovation in our research, which has never been done before, is to control the collective motion of more than 100,000 molecules within our nanofibers," study co-author Samuel I Stupp from Northwestern University said. One of the challenges in administering wound healing drugs, the scientists said, is that the receptors sticking out of nerve cells and other types of cells constantly moves around. The novel gel fine-tunes the motion of molecules which "move, â€dance' or even leap temporarily out of these structures", enabling them to connect more effectively with receptors, Dr Stupp explained. With further studies and clinical trials, the scientists believe that the new therapy could be used to prevent paralysis after major trauma.
The San Francisco Unified School District has introduced mindfulness meditation as part of its curriculum this year. Susi Brennan instructed first graders on Wednesday at Daniel Webster Elementary School in Potrero Hill. Mindfulness focuses on slow and deliberate breathing, and Brennan's students sat on the floor as they listened to her calming voice. "When we're focusing on our breath, we can use it as an anchor," Brennan told the students. "So if our mind starts to wander away, we just gently bring it right back and notice our breathing." Over 57,000 students attend school in the district, and each of them will learn about mindfulness this year. The district said it introduced the technique into every grades' curriculum for the 2021-22 school year. Dr. Vincent Matthews, the district's superintendent, joined in on Wednesday's lesson. He took deep breaths alongside a class of 6-year-olds, participating in a social and emotional learning technique Matthews said is focused on the whole student. Brennan said teachers and staff also benefit from this calming technique. "It's an opportunity for them to also sit with their thoughts, and also for them to notice sounds and their breath," she told KCBS Radio. "It's a moment of pause for the teachers as well." You can learn more about the mindfulness meditations practiced in the San Francisco Unified School district by clicking here.
By mimicking how a spider spins silk at room temperature, an Oxford University venture has created a high performance, biodegradable textile that is 1,000 times more efficient than current methods for making man-made fabrics, which emit tons of carbon. Over the course of millions of years, spiders have evolved the ability to create one of the world's strongest and most adaptable materials–silk. The secret to a spider's ability to create silk lies within their spinnerets, a specialized organ that turns the liquid silk gel within the spider's abdomen into a solid thread. After years of research into this unique mechanism, Spintex has managed to mimic the spider's amazing ability: The company has created a process to spin textile fibers from a liquid gel, at room temperature, with water and biodegradable textile fibers as the only outputs. Last week, the nonprofit Biomimicry Institute awarded $100,000 to the English researchers, naming Spintex the winner of this year's Ray of Hope Prize, which honors the world's top nature-inspired startups. More than 50% of silk's environmental footprint lies in the raw material processing, which uses thousands of liters of water that must be boiled every day, so it's very energy intensive. Currently, there are no sustainable alternatives to traditional silk. "Spintex provides the only truly sustainable option for silk production that can produce ďŹbers with the quality, performance and luster of traditional silk," says the company website.
Last year, 13-year-old Abraham Olagbegi found out he was born with a rare blood disorder and needed a bone marrow transplant. About a year later, he found out better news: His transplant was successful, and he qualified for Make-A-Wish, an organization that grants wishes to children will serious illnesses. Abraham wanted a long-lasting wish, and he had an idea that he shared with his mom. "I remember we were coming home from one of his doctor appointments and he said, 'Mom, I thought about it, and I really want to feed the homeless,'" Abraham's mom, Miriam Olagbegi, told CBS News. "I said, 'Are you sure Abraham? You could do a lot ... You sure you don't want a PlayStation?'" Unlike many teenage boys, the PlayStation did not entice Abraham. He was sure of his wish to feed the homeless. Abraham's dad thought it was an awesome idea, too, Miriam said. "So, of course, we weren't going to miss an opportunity like that because we always tried to instill giving into our children." In September, Make-A-Wish helped Abraham organize a day to hand out free food in Jackson, Mississippi, with food and supplies donated from local businesses. Abraham said they ended up feeding about 80 people that day. "When the homeless people get the plate, some of them would come back and sing to us and thank us," he said. "And it just really feels good, it warms our hearts. And my parents always taught us that it's a blessing to be a blessing." Make-A-Wish will help Abraham feed the homeless every month for a year.
Maine voters approved an amendment Tuesday that enshrines the "right to food" – the first of its kind in the United States. The amendment to the state's constitution declares that all people have a "natural, inherent and unalienable right" to grow, raise, produce and consume food of their own choosing as long as they do so within legal parameters. Maine, a state with a bustling agricultural industry, has been at the forefront of the food sovereignty movement, which envisions a food system where producers also have control over how their goods are sold and distributed. The referendum was meant to ensure local communities have more agency over their food supply. "Power over our food supply is concentrated in a few individuals and corporations," [livestock farmer and advocate Heather] Retberg said. "Global companies dominate our food system and policy at the expense of our food self-sufficiency. This concentration of power threatens Mainers' individual rights to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume the food of our choosing now and in the future." Maine state Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, a Republican legislator who sponsored the legislation, has called it the "Second Amendment of food," empowering people to fight hunger and regain command over the food supply in an era of corporate domination. The nonprofit WhyHunger called the vote "a transformative step in ensuring the protection of food as an unequivocal basic human right."
Growing up poor in Jamaica, Keishia Thorpe never thought she would graduate college, let alone become a visionary high school English teacher and win a $1 million prize. The Maryland educator and track coach, who works with immigrant and refugee students, just won the Global Teacher Prize, beating out 8,000 others from 121 countries. "Because I am an immigrant and because I understand their story, I do not ever lower my expectations for my students," she said. "I let them rise to my expectation. And they do." And through her foundation, the former Howard University track star has helped hundreds of students get college scholarships, including senior Isatu Bah. "I know she's always going to be here for me, and I will make her proud," Bah said. Thorpe said, "Teaching just is not something that happens in the classroom – be their coaches, be their mentor, be that safe space for them." She says she'll use her winnings to help even more students. She says the award is "just the beginning."
Like all elite athletes, Julia "Hurricane" Hawkins has a ruthless streak. So, despite setting a 100m world record on Sunday at the Louisiana Senior Games, she still wants to go faster. "It was wonderful to see so many family members and friends. But I wanted to do it in less than a minute," the 105 year-old said after the race, where she recorded a time of 1:02.95, a record for women in the 105+ age category. When someone pointed out that 102 is less than her age and asked if that made her feel better, Hawkins answered: "No". The retired teacher is no stranger to athletic excellence. She started competing at the National Senior Games when she was 80, specialising in cycling time trials. She eventually ended her cycling career saying that "there wasn't anyone left my age to compete with". When she turned 100 she took up sprinting. In 2017 she set the 100m world record for women over the age of 100 with a time of 39.62. When her record was broken in September by Diane Friedman, Hawkins decided to compete in a new age category. "I love to run, and I love being an inspiration to others," Hawkins said. "I want to keep running as long as I can. My message to others is that you have to stay active if you want to be healthy and happy as you age." Several age records for the 100m have tumbled this year. In August, Hiroo Tanaka of Japan blazed home in 16.69 to set the male record in the 90 and over category. In women's competition Australia's Julie Brims broke the 55+ record in a time of 12.24.
With close to two billion dollars devoted to renewable power in the newly passed infrastructure bill, the solar industry is poised for a win. But there have long been some tensions between renewable developers and some farmers. According to NREL, upwards of two million acres of American farmland could be converted to solar in the next decade. But what if it didn't have to be an either or proposition? What if solar panels and farming could literally co-exist, if not even help one another. That was what piqued [Byron] Kominek's interest, especially with so many family farms barely hanging on. Kominek installed the solar panels on one of his pastures. They're spaced far enough apart from one another so he could drive his tractor between them. Still, when it came time to plant earlier this year, Kominek was initially skeptical. But he soon discovered that the shade from the towering panels above the soil actually helped the plants thrive. That intermittent shade also meant a lot less evaporation of coveted irrigation water. And in turn the evaporation actually helped keep the sun-baked solar panels cooler, making them more efficient. By summer, Kominek was a believer. Walking the intricately lined rows of veggies beneath the panels, he beams pointing out where the peppers, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, lettuces, beets, turnips, carrots were all recently harvested. The farm is still bursting with chard and kale even in November. "Oh yeah, kale never dies," Kominek says, chuckling.
The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Charles "Chuck" Sams III as the next director of the National Park Service on Thursday. He will be the first Native American to lead the agency in its 105-year history. Sams, who is Cayuse and Walla Walla, is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The Oregon-based Confederated Tribes is comprised of individuals from the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes. Sams told the Confederated Tribes' newspaper, the Confederated Umatilla Journal, on Friday that he's "deeply honored" to serve as the 19th director of NPS. "I am also very deeply appreciative of the support, guidance and counsel of my Tribal elders and friends throughout my professional career," Sams told the newspaper. "I look forward to carrying on the responsibility of being a good steward of our natural resources and in joining the dedicated and dynamic staff of the National Park Service." Sams' confirmation marks the first time in nearly five years that the department will have an official director. The position has been filled with various people serving as acting heads since January 2017. Sams has worked in state and tribal governments, as well as in natural resource and conservation management, for more than 25 years. In a press release on Friday, tribal leaders commended the confirmation, with Confederated Tribes trustee member Kat Brigham saying that Sams "knows the outdoors." "He understands the importance of helping families develop a relationship with the land," Brigham said.
The sooner most cancers are discovered, the better the odds they can be successfully treated. Mayo Clinic participated in research on a test that can detect more than 50 cancers. "My dad, he was a healthy guy. He didn't have any known risk factors for cancer," Dr. Julia Feygin said. Feygin lost her 40-year-old father to pancreatic cancer when she was 13. Diagnosed at stage three, he lived for nine more months. "I strongly believe that purpose can be found in everything that happens," Feygin said. She's now part of a team at a Menlo Park, California-based company called GRAIL that's introducing the blood test, called Galleri. She says can it catch hard-to-detect, aggressive and often deadly cancers like pancreatic, ovarian and esophageal. "If cancers can be detected early, we can dramatically improve patient outcomes," Feygin said. Feygin explains that our blood contains a DNA signature. The blood test tracks the DNA a cancer cell sheds. Two tubes of blood are drawn and sent to GRAIL's lab for analysis. "We can find and sequence these tiny bits of tumor-derived DNA in the blood and, based on the patterns we see, we can reveal if there is a signal for cancer present. We can predict with very high accuracy where in the body this cancer signal is coming from," Feygin said. An interventional study that included Mayo Clinic with 6,600 participants returned 29 signals that were followed by a cancer diagnosis. Another study found a less than 1% false positive rate.
At least $1.7bn of funding will be given directly to indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in recognition of their key role in protecting the planet's lands and forests, it will be announced at Cop26 today. The governments of the UK, US, Germany, Norway and the Netherlands are leading the $1.7bn (Ł1.25bn) funding pledge, which is being announced as part of ambitious global efforts to reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030, with campaigners cautiously hopeful that this conference of the parties (Cop) could be the first to properly champion indigenous peoples' rights. Tuntiak Katan, a leader of Ecuador's indigenous Shuar people who serves as general coordinator of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, said: "We are happy with the financing announcement, but we will be watching for concrete measures that will reveal whether the intent is to transform a system that has directed less than 1% of climate funding to indigenous and local communities. What matters is what happens next." Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, said the aim was to give IPLCs more of a voice in policymaking and discourse. It is hoped more funding will follow. Walker said: "It's a first step, it's a down payment." The money will support IPLCs' capacity to govern themselves collectively, assist with mapping and registration work, back national land reform and help resolve conflict over territories. It will continue until 2025.
"Little Amal," a 9-year-old Syrian refugee girl, has big, expressive eyes and loves jumping in puddles as she travels on foot to the UK in search of a new home. But Amal isn't just any girl – she's a giant puppet more than 11 ft. tall. She's the centerpiece of The Walk, a traveling arts festival. It's the latest project by London-based theater company Good Chance, in collaboration with Handspring Puppet Company. For the past three months, Amal and the crew have travelled from the Syrian-Turkish border to the UK in an effort to bring hope to the plight of refugees. Today, they reached Manchester, England, completing a 5,000-mile journey through more than 65 cities, towns and villages. Through accompanying events along the route, like installations and performances, it was important that the walk recognize the range of Amal's experiences – not just one of hardship, but resilience too, Zuabi says. "I don't want anybody to feel sad for refugees. I want people to see themselves when they see a refugee. And that's why puppets are gorgeous. Because a puppet doesn't exist until you give it life. You need to go 'she is a refugee' and the minute you treat a refugee like this, you go 'he is me. They are us.'" Even Amal's size at 11 ft. – or 3.5 meters – is deliberate. To Zuabi, visibility is the first step towards empathy. He says "to see that people are moved by a small gesture she does in the middle of a street, and suddenly you look around and people are wiping their tears – that's very, very beautiful to see," Zuabi says.
For eight-year-old Toby, who is deaf, watching films or TV on streaming platforms can sometimes be a bit pointless - because so many of them don't have sign language versions. "We have captions but they don't really do anything for him because it goes quite fast. He would just watch and not get much from it," his dad Jarod Mills [said]. But now, Toby has some help thanks to an app developed by a 17-year-old A-level student. Mariella Satow, who has dual UK-US citizenship, lives in the UK but has been stuck in New York since summer 2020 because of Covid travel restrictions. In that do-something-new phase of lockdown, Mariella created a signing app called SignUp. She got the idea when she was teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL) - one of hundreds of sign languages used across the world. Mariella wanted to watch TV shows to help her learn, so was disappointed to discover how few had signed versions. It's taken a year for Mariella to develop the technology, with lots of help from ASL teachers and the deaf community. The app is available in the US as a Google Chrome extension - with an interpreter appearing in a box once the film starts playing. It only works on Disney Plus films at the moment, because that's where Mariella thought she could help the most children. Jarod, who works in Kentucky at a school for deaf children, says it was "exciting" watching Toby use Mariella's invention. "The app creates a level playing field," he says. "Kids are getting that understanding and information like any hearing child does."
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Bystanders will intervene in nine-out-of-ten public fights to help victims of aggression and violence say researchers, in the largest ever study of real-life conflicts captured by CCTV. The findings overturn the impression of the "walk on by society" where victims are ignored by bystanders. Instead, the international research team of social scientists found that at least one bystander - but typically several - did something to help. And with increasing numbers of bystanders there is a greater likelihood that at least someone will intervene to help. A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen, the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement and Lancaster University examined unique video recordings of 219 arguments and assaults in inner cities of Amsterdam (Netherlands), Lancaster (UK) and Cape Town (South-Africa). Lead author Dr Richard Philpot ... said: "According to conventional wisdom, non-involvement is the default response of bystanders during public emergencies. Challenging this view, the current cross-national study of video data shows that intervention is the norm in actual aggressive conflicts. The fact that bystanders are much more active than we think is a positive and reassuring story for potential victims of violence and the public as a whole." The research further showed that a victim was more likely to receive help when a larger number of bystanders was present.
As the days get darker and colder in much of the northern hemisphere, it's easy to indulge in gloom. The gloom leads to a common question: What can I do to cope with the dark and cold? Changing your mindset can do more than distracting yourself from the weather. That's the takeaway from research done by Kari Leibowitz ... who spent August 2014 to June 2015 on a Fulbright scholarship in TromsĂ¸ in northern Norway. Leibowitz went to study the residents' overall mental health, because rates of seasonal depression were lower than one might expect. It turns out that in northern Norway, "people view winter as something to be enjoyed, not something to be endured," says Leibowitz, and that makes all the difference. First, Norwegians celebrate the things one can only do in winter. Norwegians also have a word, koselig, that means a sense of coziness. It's like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. There's a community aspect to it. Leibowitz reports that TromsĂ¸ had plenty of festivals and community activities creating the sense that everyone was in it together. And finally, people are enamored with the sheer beauty of the season. Leibowitz grew up near the Jersey shore, and "I just took it as a fact that everyone likes summer the best." But deep in the winter in Norway ... the sun doesn't rise above the horizon. Against the snow, "the colors are incredibly beautiful," she says.
President Biden and the other national leaders gathered for the Group of 20 summit formally endorsed a new global minimum tax on Saturday, capping months of negotiations over the groundbreaking tax accord. The new global minimum tax of 15 percent aims to reverse the decades-long decline in tax rates on corporations across the world, a trend experts say has deprived governments of revenue to fund social spending programs. The deal is a key achievement for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who made an international floor on corporate taxes among the top priorities of her tenure and pushed forcefully for swift action on a deal. Nearly 140 countries representing more than 90 percent of total global economic output have endorsed the deal. The minimum tax will be coupled with a broader change to global taxation intended to prevent countries and companies from undercutting the new floor. Under the pact, corporations trying to evade taxation by shifting profits to low-tax countries will face a "top-up" tax, which would require them to pay the difference between the tax haven's tax rate and the 15 percent minimum tax rate of the companies where they are headquartered. Supporters of the deal are also optimistic companies will not move to relocate their headquarters abroad, in part because so much of the world has committed to the new minimum. Treasury officials have said new "enforcement provisions" will impose tax penalties based in countries refusing to join the deal.