Inspirational Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles in Major Media
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In May, India's Supreme Court ruled that sex work is a legitimate profession. Now, its older practitioners are finding ways to start their life anew. 47-year-old [Jyoti] is a former sex worker from the brothels of Delhi's biggest red light district ... who has left her previous life behind. "I was sold to a brothel by an aunt when I was only 12 years old, so there never was any time to learn anything else," she says. Now, Jyoti not only has a job, she is earning enough to give her children a promising future: $250 a month through Savhera, a women-led organization that connects and provides retired sex workers with jobs. As a result of the capacity building training by Savhera, the workers have successfully launched their own collective, WePower, with technical support from Shakti Vahini, an anti-trafficking NGO. The collective aims to manufacture handmade goods that provide ongoing employment and empowerment to the women. Savhera and similar organizations are helping aging and retired Indian sex workers transition into their new lives with jobs, bank accounts and ID cards. Now, as one of the core members of WePower, Jyoti makes handmade goods like candles, bags, and jewelry. She intends to use the money she earns to build a fund for her daughter's future education. Like Savhera, the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), a group of 67,000 sex workers in West Bengal, helps aging sex workers ... and even runs its own bank, USHA co-operative, for sex workers without ID cards.
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Voters in four states approved ballot measures that will change their state constitutions to prohibit slavery and forcing someone to work against their will as punishment for crime. The initiatives won't force immediate changes in the states' prisons, but they may invite legal challenges over the practice of pressuring prisoners to work under threat of punishment or loss of privileges if they refuse the work. The results were celebrated among anti-slavery advocates, including those pushing to further amend the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits enslavement and forced work except as a form of criminal punishment. Nearly 160 years after enslaved Africans and their descendants were released from bondage through ratification of the 13th Amendment, the slavery exception continues to allow jails and prisons to use inmates for low-cost labor. U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Representative Nikema Williams of Georgia, both Democrats, reintroduced legislation to revise the 13th Amendment to end the slavery exception. If it wins approval in Congress, the constitutional amendment must be ratified (approved) by three-fourths of the states. After Tuesday's vote, more than a dozen states still have constitutions that include language permitting slavery and forced labor for prisoners. Prison labor is a multibillion-dollar practice. Workers usually make less than $1 per hour, sometimes only pennies. Prisoners who refuse to work can be denied privileges such as phone calls and visits with family.
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Joost Bakker believes a house can be more than a place to live: it can be a self-sustaining weapon against the climate crisis. A new Australian documentary explores his bold blueprint. Bakker – a multi-disciplinary designer, no-waste advocate and the film's eponymous protagonist – has long been something of a provocateur. In 2020, the Dutch-born, Australian-raised designer's two decades of high-concept sustainability projects came to a head when he hit go on the construction of Future Food System. Erected in one of the busiest areas of Melbourne, the off-grid, three-storey house and urban farm produced all of its own power and food. Even the cooking gas was generated from human and food waste. "We can have it all," Bakker [says]. "We can have houses covered with biology, plants, ecosystems and waterfalls. It's not necessary for us to be destroying the planet or killing each other with materials that are making us sick. The infrastructure is already there. It's just about reimagining our suburbs and reimagining our buildings." Shadowing Bakker throughout the project from set-up to pack-down, was film-maker Nick Batzias ... who squeezes plenty of action into the pacy 90-minute documentary. The bulk of the film focuses on the building's green-thinking initiatives. Steam from the showers is used to grow mushrooms; the foundation-less building is anchored by self-watering garden beds filled with 35 tonnes of soil.
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A new rooftop wind harvesting device is capable of generating 50 percent more electricity than solar panels for the same cost, according to its inventors, a Texas-based startup called Aeromine Technologies. The new technology replaced the blades found in traditional wind turbines with an aerodynamic system that harvests energy from the airflow that's created above a building, which makes it silent and safe for birds and other wildlife. These units produce the same amount of power as up to 16 solar panels. As their company website states: "Aeromine's patented aerodynamic design captures and amplifies building airflow in wind speeds as low as 5 m.p.h., similar to the airfoils on a race car. Unlike turbines that require rotating rotor blades and many moving parts, making them prone to maintenance issues, the motionless and durable Aeromine solution generates more energy in less space." This is a game-changer ... helping corporations meet their resilience and sustainability goals with an untapped distributed renewable energy source. The Aeromine system can utilize a small footprint on a building's roof, leaving ample space for existing solar and utility infrastructure. It provides commercial property owners, who are facing increased energy costs and rising demand for features such as electric vehicle charging stations, with an effective new tool. Aeromine's patented technology was validated through joint research with Sandia National Laboratories and Texas Tech University.
When floods devastated Bangkok more than a decade ago, Thai landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom became determined to help her sinking hometown fight this deadly climate threat. The floods "changed my life," said Voraakhom. "I started using the tools of landscape architecture (to tackle) climate change." The 2011 floods killed hundreds and displaced millions. "For us, climate change is primarily a water crisis," she said. "Our people can feel its impacts in their daily lives, each year through worsening floods, rising sea levels, and severe drought." In many sinking cities, including Bangkok, the current urban infrastructure is not fit for purpose and is "reducing our ability to adapt," said Voraakhom, noting that many of Bangkok's waterways and canals have been destroyed or have fallen into disrepair. "For us, as a city of water, the only way is to go back to our amphibious culture and reclaim the relationship with water." The architect said she integrates nature and water into her designs to create landscapes that help alleviate flooding and add greenery to densely populated cities. Voraakhom also created Asia's largest rooftop farm, Siam Green Sky, transforming 22,400 square meters (241,000 square feet) into a lush haven. The farm, which recycles food waste from restaurants in the building below and uses it as plant fertilizer, also slows down, soaks up and stores large amounts of rainwater. It is then used to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit, as well as rice.
[Pamela] McGhee and her neighbors are participating in a pilot program to build zero-waste systems for Detroit. It's something they say the city sorely needs. For decades, Detroit was home to one of the country's largest waste incinerators. East Side residents formed Breathe Free Detroit, one of several groups behind a successful campaign to shut down the incinerator; the plant closed in 2019. Now, that same group is working with the city to develop a composting system. Many ... see a direct line between composting and recycling and improving their community health. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste is the most common material found in landfills and sent to incinerators in the U.S., comprising 24% of landfill materials and 22% of combusted municipal solid waste. But Detroit organizers didn't have much experience with communitywide composting, so when they began developing a program, they turned to an unlikely mentor more than 8,000 miles away: the Mother Earth Foundation in the Philippines. Over the past 20 years, the organization has earned a reputation for training low-income communities, government agencies, civic organizations, and businesses in zero-waste practices. The two groups organized monthly calls, in which Mother Earth Foundation organizers offered advice based on their experiences setting up community composting systems. Members of Mother Earth Foundation and community organizers in Detroit plan to visit each other's cities early next year.
Suicides across the active duty U.S. military decreased over the past 18 months, driven by sharp drops in the Air Force and Marine Corps last year and a similar decline among Army soldiers during the first six months of this year, according to a new Pentagon report. The numbers show a dramatic reversal of what has been a fairly steady increase in recent years. The shift follows increased attention by senior military leaders and an array of new programs aimed at addressing what has been a persistent problem in all the services. The numbers provide a glimmer of hope that some of the recent changes – which range from required counseling visits to stress relief education and recreational outings – may be working. According to the data, the number of suicides in the Air Force and Marine Corp dropped by more than 30 percent in 2021 compared with 2020, and the Navy saw a 10 percent decline. The Army saw a similar 30 percent decrease during the first six months of this year, compared with the same time period last year. The National Guard and the Reserves both saw a small dip in suicides, from 121 in 2020 to 119 in 2021. And there were also fewer Guard deaths in the first half of 2022, compared with last year. The Guard has worked over the last year to reduce suicides through outreach and other changes, including policies to destigmatize getting mental health help and a program that provides firearms locks for service members who keep weapons at home.
For the first time, adults with mild to moderate hearing loss in the US will be able to buy over-the-counter hearing aids. Those who are under 18 or who have severe hearing loss will still need a prescription. In July, President Joe Biden signed an executive order meant to promote competition; it encouraged the US Food and Drug Administration allow over-the-counter, prescription-free hearing aids, and the FDA announced the long-awaited rule change in August. The move ushers in options that should be cheaper and possibly even better. Now, instead of getting a prescription and having a custom fitting with a hearing health professional, adults can buy hearing aids directly from a store or online. Some doctors estimate that 90% of the population with hearing loss could benefit from these over-the-counter devices. Experts say the move is a "game-changer." The number of people with hearing loss is substantial. About 1 in 8 people in the US ages 12 and older has hearing loss in both ears. About a quarter of people 65 to 74 have hearing loss. On average, people spend at least $4,000 out of pocket for devices for both ears, according to a 2020 study published in the medical journal JAMA. Prices can vary: Large retailers may offer a pair for about $1,400, but some can cost as much as $6,000 per ear. Until now, five companies have controlled 90% of the global marketplace for hearing aids. That kind of consolidation meant there was little price competition.
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Michigan is a battleground state, in every sense of the word. Here, purple doesn't mean moderate; it means the 50-50, Red/Blue split is a chasm. On a recent Saturday in Traverse City, Mich., people gathered – half of them Red, the other half Blue – brought together by Braver Angels, a not-for-profit attempting to narrow the divide. "I'm here out of concern for our country, and our democracy," said one attendee, Jane. Started in 2016, Braver Angels now holds sessions nationwide. It was shaped by Bill Doherty, who teaches relationships at the University of Minnesota. He's also a marriage counselor. Correspondent Martha Teichner asked Doherty, "Is it a proper analogy: Reds and Blues in America, and couples on the brink of divorce?" "There is an analogy to couples on the brink," Doherty replied. "A big difference is that divorce is not possible in America." In Traverse City, participants arrived uneasy at first, defensive. Task #1 at a Red/Blue workshop: stereotypes. Reds and Blues, seated in separate rooms, are asked to list what "they" call "you." Facilitators then ask each side if there's is a kernel of truth in those stereotypes. Tim said, "The passion for the pro-life cause sometimes seems not to hear women." And so it goes, for three hours, peeling back the onion of opinion, looking for common ground. No trying to change anybody's mind. Divided they were, but they showed up, because they wanted to know each other not by label, but by name. Braver Angels has held more than 2,000 workshops and is growing.
For only the second time, a U.S. president has officially recognized Indigenous Peoples' Day. President Biden issued a proclamation on Friday to observe this Oct. 10 as a day to honor Native Americans, their resilience and their contributions to American society throughout history, even as they faced assimilation, discrimination and genocide spanning generations. The move shifts focus from Columbus Day, the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus, which shares the same date as Indigenous Peoples' Day this year. The idea was first proposed by Indigenous peoples at a United Nations conference in 1977 held to address discrimination against Natives. But South Dakota became the first state to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples day in 1989. Ten states and Washington, D.C., now recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day via proclamation. More than 100 cities celebrate the day, with many of them having altogether dropped the holiday honoring Columbus to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day. Oregon marked its first statewide recognition of Indigenous Peoples' Day, in place of Columbus Day, in 2021 after its legislature passed a bill brought by its Indigenous lawmakers. Rep. Tawna Sanchez, one of those lawmakers, said the movement to recognize the day is an ideal time to capitalize on the momentum of political recognition. "History is always written by the conqueror," said Sanchez. "How do we actually tell the truth about what happened?"
Australia will set aside at least 30% of its land mass for conservation in a bid to protect plants and animals in the island continent famed for species found nowhere else in the world, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said. Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent and has one of the worst rates of species decline among the world's richest countries, a five-yearly environmental report card released in July by the government showed. That report showed the number of species added to the list of threatened species or in a higher category of risk grew on average by 8% from the previous report in 2016. "The need for action to protect our plants, animals and ecosystems from extinction has never been greater," Plibersek said in a statement. By prioritising 110 species and 20 places, Plibersek said the areas managed for conservation will be increased by 50 million hectares. Australia ... is home to unique animals like koalas and platypus although their numbers have been dwindling due to extreme weather events and human encroachment into their habitats. Koalas along much of the east coast were listed as endangered in February. Australia has been battered recently by frequent extreme weather events including the devastating bushfires in 2019 and 2020 in the east that killed ... billions of animals and burned an area nearly half the size of Germany.
Enzymes that rapidly break down plastic bags have been discovered in the saliva of wax worms, which are moth larvae that infest beehives. The enzymes are the first reported to break down polyethylene within hours at room temperature. The discovery came after one scientist, an amateur beekeeper, cleaned out an infested hive and found the larvae started eating holes in a plastic refuse bag. The researchers said the study showed insect saliva may be "a depository of degrading enzymes which could revolutionise [the cleanup of polluting waste]". Polyethylene makes up 30% of all plastic production and is used in bags and other packaging that make up a significant part of worldwide plastic pollution. The only recycling at scale today uses mechanical processes and creates lower-value products. Chemical breakdown could create valuable chemicals or, with some further processing, new plastic, thereby avoiding the need for new virgin plastic made from oil. The enzymes can be easily synthesised and overcome a bottleneck in plastic degradation, the researchers said, which is the initial breaking of the polymer chains. That usually requires a lot of heating, but the enzymes work at normal temperatures, in water and at neutral pH. Previous discoveries of useful enzymes have been in microbes, with a 2021 study indicating that bacteria in oceans and soils across the globe are evolving to eat plastic. It found 30,000 different enzymes that might degrade 10 different types of plastic.
Note: This research was published in the journal Nature Communications. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Recent research suggests that plants are far from the stationary automatons that most of us think of them as. And though they don't have brains in the same way most animals do, plants seem to possess a different set of evolutionary tools that suggest they may experience consciousness, albeit in a radically different way from us. Dr. Paco Calvo has an upcoming book, co-authored with Natalie Lawrence, called "Planta Sapiens: Unmasking Plant Intelligence." Calvo works at the MINT Lab (Minimal Intelligence Lab) at the University of Murcia in Spain. "Sentience, we may say, makes sense for life, as an essential underpinning to the business of living," Calvo explained. "And it is very unlikely that plants are not far more aware than we intuitively assume." To the "skeptics" who insist that consciousness must be tied to a central nervous system, and that plants would not need to evolve consciousness in the first place, "even if 'consciousness', as understood in vertebrates, is generated by complex neuronal systems, there is no objective way of knowing that subjective experience has not evolved with entirely different kinds of hardware in other organisms," Calvo argued. "We have no evidence to conclude that no brain means no awareness. It is certainly true that we cannot yet know if plants are conscious. But we also cannot assume that they are not." Calvo added, "Plants ... might well have significant conscious experience, although there is no way for us to intuit it nor for them to communicate it to us."
An experimental drug has slowed the rate of decline in memory and thinking in people with early Alzheimer's disease. The cognition of Alzheimer's patients given the drug, developed by Eisai and Biogen, declined by 27% less than those on a placebo treatment after 18 months. This is a modest change in clinical outcome but it is the first time any drug has been clearly shown to alter the disease's trajectory. "This is a historic moment for dementia research, as this is the first phase 3 trial of an Alzheimer's drug in a generation to successfully slow cognitive decline," said Dr Susan Kohlhaas, the director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK. "Many people feel Alzheimer's is an inevitable part of ageing. This spells it out: if you intervene early you can make an impact on how people progress." In the study, which enrolled roughly 1,800 patients with early stage Alzheimer's, patients were given twice-weekly infusions of the drug, called lecanemab. It was also shown to reduce toxic plaques in the brain and slow patients' memory decline and ability to perform day-to-day tasks. The results offer a boost to the "amyloid hypothesis", which assumes that sticky plaques seen in the brains of dementia patients play a role in damaging brain cells and causing cognitive decline. A series of previous drug candidates had been shown to successfully reduce levels of amyloid in the brain, but without any improvement in clinical outcomes, leading some to question whether the research field had been on the wrong track.
Most of the companies participating in a four-day workweek pilot program in Britain said they had seen no loss of productivity during the experiment, and in some cases had seen a significant improvement, according to a survey of participants. Nearly halfway into the six-month trial, in which employees at 73 companies get a paid day off weekly, 35 of the 41 companies that responded to a survey said they were "likely" or "extremely likely" to consider continuing the four-day workweek beyond the end of the trial in late November. All but two of the 41 companies said productivity was either the same or had improved. Remarkably, six companies said productivity had significantly improved. Talk of a four-day workweek has been around for decades. In 1956, then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon said he foresaw it in the "not too distant future," though it has not materialized on any large scale. But changes in the workplace over the coronavirus pandemic around remote and hybrid work have given momentum to questions about other aspects of work. Are we working five days a week just because we have done it that way for more than a century, or is it really the best way? More than 3,300 workers in banks, marketing, health care, financial services, retail, hospitality and other industries in Britain are taking part in the pilot, which is one of the largest studies to date. Experiments similar to the one conducted in Britain are being conducted ... in the United States, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, his spouse and two adult children are giving away their ownership in the apparel maker he started some 50 years ago, dedicating all profits from the company to projects and organizations that will protect wild land and biodiversity and fight the climate crisis. The company is worth about $3 billion. In a letter about the decision, published on the Patagonia website on Wednesday, Choiunard wrote of "reimagining capitalism," and said: "While we're doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it's not enough. We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company's values intact. One option was to sell Patagonia and donate all the money. But we couldn't be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed. Another path was to take the company public. What a disaster that would have been. Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility. Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own." The privately held company's stock will now be owned by a climate-focused trust and group of nonprofit organizations, called the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective respectively, the company said in a statement, noting "every dollar that is not reinvested back into Patagonia will be distributed as dividends to protect the planet."
The environmental benefits of using electricity rather than fossil fuels to power our world goes without saying– however, the process of electrifying everything has its obstacles. Many in the tech world are excited about the new A1-S battery ... declaring that "MIT has produced yet another breakthrough technology that is set to change the world for the better." Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently innovated batteries that are made of cost-effective and abundant materials. Instead of using lithium, [MIT Professor Donald] Sadoway and the team ... selected aluminum for one electrode, which he asserted is "the most abundant metal on Earthâ€¦ no different from the foil at the supermarket." He combined the aluminum with ... sulfur, which he said is "often a waste product from processes such as petroleum refining." Both the charging and discharging cycles generate enough heat that the battery can heat itself and doesn't require an external source. On top of being a fraction of the price of conventional batteries, they can also be charged very quickly with no risk of forming dendrites. It's important to note that this new battery isn't without problems. For instance, the process of extracting alumina out of bauxite is not the easiest or cleanest, and ... researchers are concerned that we may one day run out of [sulfur]. That said, Sadoway made it clear that these issues don't compare to the problems that come with sourcing ingredients for lithium-ion batteries.
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Imagine you're eating dinner on a ceramic plate and drinking water from a plastic cup while sitting in a brick house – a seemingly ordinary scenario except that your plate, cup, and your home are all fashioned in part from recycled feces. In my upcoming book, "Flush: The Remarkable Science of an Unlikely Treasure," I describe how the misunderstood byproduct of our daily living is a vastly undervalued natural resource. Try to reimagine wastewater treatment plants ... doubling as multipurpose resource recovery facilities. As an alternative to plastics made from fossil fuels, for example, researchers are making headway in producing safe and biodegradable bioplastics from existing waste streams. Creating planet-friendly bottles, containers, and other bioplastic products from what we leave behind is still a work in progress, said Zeynep Cetecioglu Gurol ... at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Developing an efficient and affordable method for recovering new products from wastewater could help offset the money, time, and effort spent by treatment plants to meet pollution limits in discharged water. "It's a win-win," she said. Engineers ... have focused on relieving the environmental problem of excavating clay soil for brick production, in part by exploring how to incorporate treated sewage solids, or biosolids, into fired bricks. Bricks with varying amounts of treated biosolids from Melbourne residents weren't quite as strong as traditional counterparts. But they were lighter and better insulators.
Psychedelic therapy is the use of psychedelic substances, often alongside traditional talk therapy (psychotherapy), as a treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, suicidality and PTSD. Michael Mithoefer, M.D. ... at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), likens psychedelic therapy to applying a cast to a broken bone. "[Psychedelic]-assisted therapy engages the mind's innate power to heal itself–the participants' â€inner healing intelligence,'" claims Dr. Mithoefer, going on to explain that "the source of the healing process is the person themselves–the psychedelic and therapists are catalysts." In the U.S., psychedelics continue to undergo medical trials, with some being granted a "breakthrough therapy" designation by the FDA, indicating that preliminary clinical evidence has shown the drug can demonstrate substantial improvement over currently available therapy. COMPASS Pathways, a mental health treatment company, received the designation for its psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression in 2018. In 2019, Usona Institute ... received the designation to continue its testing of psilocybin as a treatment for major depressive disorder. Psilocybin-assisted therapy is also being tested as a treatment for various addictions ... as well as certain conditions such as anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), cluster headaches, migraines and chronic pain.
In late August, Erin Alexander, 57, sat in the parking lot of a Target store in Fairfield, Calif., and wept. Her sister-in-law had recently died, and Ms. Alexander was having a hard day. A barista working at the Starbucks inside the Target was too. The espresso machine had broken down and she was clearly stressed. Ms. Alexander – who'd stopped crying and gone inside for some caffeine – smiled, ordered an iced green tea, and told her to hang in there. After picking up her order, she noticed a message on the cup: "Erin," the barista had scrawled next to a heart, "your soul is golden." The warmth of that small and unexpected gesture, from a stranger ... moved her deeply. New findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology in August, corroborate just how powerful experiences like Ms. Alexander's can be. Researchers found that people who perform a random act of kindness tend to underestimate how much the recipient will appreciate it. And they believe that miscalculation could hold many of us back from doing nice things for others more often. "People tend to think that what they are giving is kind of little, maybe it's relatively inconsequential," [study co-author Amit] Kumar said. "But recipients are less likely to think along those lines. They consider the gesture to be significantly more meaningful because they are also thinking about the fact that someone did something nice for them." What skills and talents do you already have? And how can you turn that into an offering for other people?"
Important Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.