Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on inspiration
It came to be known as the Sunflower movement, a sudden three-week stand-off in 2014 between the government and Taiwanese protesters. Months later, government officials arrived at a ... university campus to ask for the help of a group that few knew even existed: the civic hackers. Taiwan's civic hackers were organized around a leaderless collective called g0v (pronounced "gov zero.") Many believed in radical transparency ... and in the idea that everyone who is affected by a decision should have a say in it. They preferred establishing consensus to running lots of majority-rule votes. These were all principles, incidentally, that parallel thinking about how software should be designed – a philosophy that g0v had begun to apply to the arena of domestic politics. As g0v saw it, the problem of politics was essentially one of information. They needed a way not to measure division, but construct consensus. The hackers' answer was called vTaiwan. The platform invites citizens into an online space for debate that politicians listen to and take into account when casting their votes. As people expressed their views, rather than serving up the comments that were the most divisive, it gave the most visibility to those finding consensus. Soon, vTaiwan was being rolled out on issue after issue, especially those related to technology, and each time a hidden consensus was revealed. The system's potential to heal divisions, to reconnect people to politics, is a solution made for the problems of our age.
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An inspiring discussion about racism between a white woman and black man ... has captured the attention of [millions]. Caroline Brock and Ernest Skelton share a special relationship. It all started with Skelton coming over to fix one of her appliances. “People judge me before I even come in the door, so that’s the reason why I ask, ‘Is it OK for me to come in?’” said Skelton. The question caught Brock completely off guard. Over the weekend, Skelton went back over to Brock’s home for second appliance repair appointment. That’s when Brock asked him a question that was a little more personal. “How are you doing right now given the current climate?” Brock wanted to know what the day-to-day life of a black man is like. Skelton opened up and told her some stories about how racism has affected him. He gets pulled over in his work vehicle at least half a dozen times a year. “I don’t even remember the last time I was pulled over,” Brock said. “Sometimes I have customers that need me after 5 o’clock and I have to reschedule for another day. I’m afraid that I’ll wind up getting pulled over, and this time, I won’t make it home," Skelton said. Brock asked Ernest if she could post their interaction on Facebook. He thought it would be a great idea. A few days later, they had more than 100,000 shares. “In the comments ... a lot of white people say, ‘I’d love to have these conversations, but I’m scared ... I’m going to offend someone,’" Brock explained. But Skelton said he wasn’t offended. “If we want to change the world and make our country stronger, we have to be willing to step into the uncomfortableness," Brock said. The two hope that their interaction can inspire others to open up the conversation.
Note: Don't miss this highly inspiring and educational facebook post. This is how we change the world for the better. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The ozone layer is continuing to heal and has the potential to fully recover, according to a new study. A scientific paper, published in Nature, heralds a rare success in the reversal of environmental damage and shows that orchestrated global action can make a difference. The ozone layer is a protective shield in the Earth's stratosphere which absorbs most of the ultraviolet radiation reaching us from the sun. Antara Banerjee ... is lead author of the study. She told The Independent: "We found signs of climate changes in the southern hemisphere, specifically in the air circulation patterns. The challenge was showing that these changing air circulation patterns were due to the shrinking ozone hole following the implementation of the Montreal Protocol. The jet stream in the southern hemisphere was gradually shifting towards the south pole in the last decades of the 20th century due to ozone depletion. Our study found that movement has stopped since 2000 and might even be reversing. The pause in movement began around the same time that the ozone hole started to recover. The emissions of ozone-depleting substances that were responsible for the ozone hole - the CFCs from spray cans and refrigerants – started to decline around 2000, thanks to the Montreal Protocol." Overall, it is good news for the fight against climate change. She added: "It shows that this international treaty has worked and we can reverse the damage that we've already done to our planet. That's a lesson to us all."
How giant African rats are helping uncover deadly land mines in Cambodia
September 10, 2019, PBS
From Angola to the former Yugoslavia, land mines are a lethal legacy of wars over long ago. Cambodia is among the most affected countries, with millions of buried explosives that kill and maim people each year. Now, an organization is deploying an unexpected ally to find mines: the giant pouch rat, whose sharp sense of smell can detect explosives. Mark Shukuru is head rat trainer in Cambodia for the Belgian non-profit APOPO. He is from Tanzania, where this species is also native, and he learned early that they have some of the most sensitive noses in the animal kingdom. Each comes out of a rigorous program in Tanzania that trains them to distinguish explosives from other scents. Each time they sniff out TNT buried in this test field, a trainer uses a clicker to make a distinct sound, and they get a treat. Since 2016, APOPO's hero rats have found roughly 500 anti-personnel mines and more than 350 unexploded bombs in Cambodia. They're the second animal to be deployed in mine clearance. Dogs were first. Animals can work much faster than humans, although, when the land is densely mined, metal detectors are considered more efficient. APOPO plans to bring in some 40 more rats to expand the force and replace retirees. Each animal works about eight years, and then lives out the rest of its days alongside fellow heroes, all working toward the day when they can broadcast to the world that Cambodia has destroyed the last unexploded bomb.
Note: Don't miss the cute video of these hero rats at work, 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.
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.
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.
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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.
Icelandic teenagers are saying no to drugs by getting high on life. For the last 20 years, the island country has seen a dramatic decrease in adolescent drug and alcohol abuse after the federal government made a concerted effort to offer teens a more natural high. The multifaceted approach includes state-sponsored recreational activities and after-school programs meant to enhance family ties and community bonds. [Dr. Harvey Milkman, the psychologist behind Iceland's strategy], says the results have been exceptional. Since 1998, for example, the number of 15- to 16-year-olds that self-reported to have been drunk within the last 30 days dropped from 43 to 5 per cent. In 1992, Milkman and his team opened up their laboratory, Project Self-Discovery, in Denver. The program used art, music, dance, poetry, and nature activities to reduce stress in lieu of drugs and alcohol. Once teens embraced these natural highs, their risk of drug use decreased dramatically. At the same time, rates of teenage substance use were exceptionally high in Iceland. Following Milkman's success in Denver, the Icelandic government reached out to him to put his research into practice on a national scale. Over the last 20 years, Milkman's research has helped inform what's now known as the Iceland approach. "The whole country of Iceland kind of bought into that idea of creating opportunities for the kids to feel good without taking drugs," [said Milkman].
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"Who’s this black guy trying to make friends with the Ku Klux Klan?” A raised eyebrow, a shake of the head. Such were the sentiments of Scott Shepherd, a former Klan grand dragon, when he first saw Daryl Davis, a piano-playing bluesman who travels the nation attempting to dispel racism from those who hate him most. It doesn’t often work, but over the decades Davis, like a man on a quixotic pilgrimage, has collected more than two dozen Klan robes from those who have disavowed white supremacy. His unlikely story unfolds in “Accidental Courtesy,” a documentary by Matt Ornstein that follows Davis on an odd and lively quest to Confederate monuments, Klansmen houses, boogie joints, churches and a hot dog stand. “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” Davis asks in the film, which opens in Los Angeles on Friday. “Throughout my life I have been looking for an answer to that.” The son of a foreign service officer, Davis spent part of his childhood overseas, far from the racism many African Americans learn early. His first encounter with bigotry came when he was a 10-year-old Cub Scout. Bottles and rocks were thrown at him as he marched in a parade. The bewildering incident was the seed of a mission that years later found him ... starting a conversation with Klan Imperial Wizard Roger Kelly. The two became close. When Kelly quit the Klan, he gave Davis his robe. Talking to Klansmen “has worked for me,” said Davis. “I don’t seek to convert them but if they spend time with me, they can’t hate me.”
Note: Watch an awesome video about this brave black man who all but ended the KKK in Maryland by making friends with their leaders. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Life's been full of uncertainties for Reuben Nsemoh lately. Ever since he suffered a concussion in a soccer game, the suburban Atlanta teen's worried about why it's so hard for him to concentrate. He's fretted over whether he'll ever get to play his favorite sport. But the biggest stumper of all: how is it that he's suddenly speaking fluent Spanish? Nsemoh, a 16-year-old high school sophomore, ended up in [a] coma last month after another player kicked him in the head during a game. When he woke up, he did something he'd never done before: speak Spanish like a native. His parents said he could already speak some Spanish, but he was never fluent in it until his concussion. Slowly, his English is coming back, and he's starting to lose his Spanish fluency. Foreign accent syndrome is an extremely rare condition in which brain injuries change a person's speech patterns, giving them a different accent. The first known case was reported in 1941. Since then there have been a few dozen reported cases. Three years ago, police found a Navy vet unconscious in a Southern California motel. When he woke up, he had no memory of his previous life, and spoke only Swedish. In Australia, a former bus driver got in a serious car crash that left her with a broken back and jaw. When she woke up, she was left with something completely unexpected: a French accent. And earlier this year, a Texas woman who had surgery on her jaw, has sported a British accent ever since.
Two dolphins have been recorded having a conversation for the first time after scientists developed an underwater microphone which could distinguish the animals' different "voices". Researchers have known for decades that the mammals had an advanced form of communication. But scientists have now shown that dolphins alter the volume and frequency of pulsed clicks to form individual "words" which they string together into sentences in much the same way that humans speak. Researchers at the Karadag Nature Reserve, in Feodosia, Ukraine, recorded two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, called Yasha and Yana, talking to each other in a pool. Each dolphin would listen to a sentence of pulses without interruption, before replying. Lead researcher Dr Vyacheslav Ryabov, said: "Essentially, this exchange resembles a conversation between two people. "Each pulse represents a phoneme or a word of the dolphin's spoken language. "The analysis of numerous pulses registered in our experiments showed that the dolphins took turns in producing [sentences] and did not interrupt each other, which gives reason to believe that each of the dolphins listened to the other's pulses before producing its own. "This language exhibits all the design features present in the human spoken language. This indicates a high level of intelligence and consciousness in dolphins. Their language can be ostensibly considered a highly developed spoken language, akin to the human language."
Note: Learn more about the amazing world of marine mammals.
Republican Mayor Richard Berry was driving around Albuquerque last year when he saw a man on a street corner holding a sign that read: “Want a Job. Anything Helps.” Throughout his administration, as part of a push to connect the homeless population to services, Berry had taken to driving through the city to talk to panhandlers about their lives. His city’s poorest residents told him they didn’t want to be on the streets begging for money, but they didn’t know where else to go. Seeing that sign gave Berry an idea. The city could bring the work to them. Next month will be the first anniversary of Albuquerque’s There’s a Better Way program, which hires panhandlers for day jobs beautifying the city. The job pays $9 an hour, which is above minimum wage, and provides a lunch. At the end of the shift, the participants are offered overnight shelter as needed. In less than a year since its start, the program has given out 932 jobs clearing 69,601 pounds of litter and weeds from 196 city blocks. And more than 100 people have been connected to permanent employment. Berry’s effort is a shift from the movement across the country to criminalize panhandling. A recent National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty report found a noticeable increase, with 24 percent of cities banning it altogether and 76 percent banning it in particular areas. When panhandlers have been approached in Albuquerque with the offer of work, most have been eager for the opportunity to earn money, Berry said. They just needed a lift.
Note: Watch an inspiring video on this great program.
Every school teaches math and reading, but what about mindfulness and kindness? Twice a week for 20 minutes, pre-kindergarten kids were introduced to stories and practices for paying attention, regulating their emotions, and cultivating kindness. The initial results of our research ... suggest that this program can improve kids’ grades, cognitive abilities, and relationship skills. Having classrooms full of mindful, kind kids completely changes the school environment. Imagine entire schools - entire districts - where kindness is emphasized. That would be truly powerful. Teaching kindness is a way to bubble up widespread transformation that doesn’t require big policy changes or extensive administrative involvement. If you had visited one of our classrooms during the 12-week program, you might have seen a poster on the wall called “Kindness Garden.” When kids performed an act of kindness or benefitted from one, they added a sticker to the poster. The idea is that friendship is like a seed - it needs to be nurtured and taken care of in order to grow. Through that exercise, we got students talking about ... how we might grow more friendship in the classroom. Students who went through the curriculum showed more empathy and kindness and a greater ability to calm themselves down when they felt upset, according to teachers’ ratings. They earned higher grades at the end of the year in certain areas (notably for social and emotional development), and they showed improvement in the ability to think flexibly and delay gratification, skills that have been linked to health and success later in life.
A nine-year old girl from Bremerton, Wash. is making a difference in her local community. In a report with KING 5 News, Hailey Ford is shown using a power tool to drive nails into the roof what looks like a miniature house. The structure is the first of 11 planned shelters she [is] building for the homeless in her area. She tells the reporter that her friend Edward is homeless and needs a dry place to sleep at night. When she realized that she could do something about it, she began piecing together a plan to build "mobile sleeping" shelters, as she calls them. The shelters come complete with insulation, tar paper, and windows, barriers that will keep out the elements and lock in the warmth. Hailey isn't the only kid acting with compassion. Five-year old Josiah Duncan had a similar reaction when he saw a hungry-looking homeless man outside of a Waffle House in Prattville, Ala., last month. The little boy began asking his mother about the man's appearance, clearly troubled. She explained that the man was homeless and Josiah requested that they buy him a meal. His mother obliged. Before the man could eat, Josiah insisted on saying a blessing. "The man cried. I cried. Everybody cried," his mother told WFSA. Other children have taken Hailey and Josiah's kindness a few steps further. Hannah Taylor, a Canadian from Winnipeg, Manitoba, founded the Ladybug Foundation when she was only eight years old. In her mission statement Hannah says, "I believe that if people know about homelessness – that there are people living without a home – they will want to help.”
Last August, a group of six young Indians took to the streets of Delhi with one simple aim: to feed the homeless. Overnight, they drove to restaurants, collected unsold food, re-packaged it and gave it to around 100 people sleeping rough in the capital. Friends, colleagues and strangers soon joined them on drives and their numbers began to swell. In less than a few months, a nationwide volunteer movement known as the Robin Hood Army (RHA) had emerged, on a mission to curb food waste and stamp out hunger. Founders Ghose and Anand Sinha, also 27, were inspired by Refood International, an organisation based in Portugal. “Using a hyperlocal model, they collect excess food and give it to those who need it. But every community has their own Refood chapter,” explains Ghose. “I realised it was something that can be very easily done in India, where the need would be much more.” The movement gained huge momentum after the launch of its social media campaign, and now boasts a 500-strong volunteer base spread out across 13 cities. In April, the group also began operations in neighbouring Pakistan. The Robin Hood Army’s ideology revolves around decentralisation. Small teams, mostly young professionals, become responsible for specific areas; they scout for local restaurants, convince them to donate surplus food, identify clusters of people in need - such as the homeless and orphanages - and carry out weekly distributions.
U.S. violent crimes including murders fell 4.4 percent in 2013 to their lowest number since the 1970s, continuing a decades-long downturn, the FBI said on Monday. The law enforcement agency's annual Crime in the United States report showed the country had an estimated 1.16 million violent crimes last year, the lowest number since 1.09 million were recorded in 1978. All types of violent crimes were lower, with murder and non-negligent manslaughter off 4.4 percent to 14,196, the lowest figure since 1968. Rape was down 6.3 percent and robbery fell 2.8 percent, the Federal Bureau of Investigation data showed. The violent crime rate last year was 367.9 for each 100,000 in population, down 5.1 percent from 2012. The rate has fallen every year since at least 1994, the earliest year for readily accessible FBI data, and the 2013 figure was about half the 1994 rate. Property crimes fell 4.1 percent ... the 11th straight yearly decline. In an analysis, the non-profit Pew Charitable Trusts said the drop in crime coincided with a decline in the prison population, with the number of U.S. prisoners down 6 percent in 2013 from its peak in 2008. Thirty-two of the 50 states have seen a drop in crime rates as the rate of imprisonment fell, Pew said. California notched the largest drop in imprisonment rate over the five-year period, at 15 percent, and crime was down 11 percent. The state has been under court order to reduce prison overcrowding, and voters last week approved an initiative that reduced sentences for some crimes.
Note: Why isn't this inspiring news being broadcast widely by the media? And why hasn't the FBI website updated their data on this since 2010? The police and media appear to consistently downplay the huge drop in violent crime since 1994. According to the FBI's own statistics, violent crime has currently dropped to 1/3 or less what it was in 1994. See the revealing FBI graphs and charts here, here, and here. Yet some of these charts have now been removed and mention of this huge decrease downplayed. The obvious reason is that a large decrease in crime might cause people to want to decrease police and FBI budgets. More here.
August 9, 2014, was one of the most memorable days of my life. On that day I entered a maximum-security prison in Lancaster, Calif. to witness an extraordinary event connecting the lives of some of its inmates with a pack of rescued shelter dogs. Five lucky dogs ... were pulled from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles and entered this Level 4 prison for a chance at a better life. Earlier this year, Karma Rescue, a nonprofit that saves at-risk dogs from high-kill shelters across Southern California, partnered with the California State Prison Los Angeles County in Lancaster to create "Paws for Life," a program that matches rescued dogs with inmates who train them to boost their odds of adoption. Fourteen inmates were ... selected to train five shelter dogs who stayed at the prison this summer for a 12-week program. From the very beginning, the program struck a chord with everyone involved. Karma Rescue's founder Rande Levine wrote, "Men who had not seen an animal in decades were openly emotional at the sight of the beautiful creatures before them. Just petting our dogs brought many to happy tears. It was a day I will never, ever forget." Several times a week, professional dog trainer Mark Tipton and several dedicated Karma Rescue volunteers drove out to the prison to instruct the inmates on how to train their assigned dogs for 'Canine Good Citizen' certification, a designation that increases the chance that a dog will be successfully adopted.
Note: Don't miss the moving pictures of this inspiring program at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running five minutes per day can reduce an individual’s risk of premature death by about three years. Researchers found that people who ran less than an hour per week also saw an increase in lifespan, not just a decrease in risk of premature death. The study took place over the course of 15 years, testing participants ranging in age from 18-100. Separate research found that running more than 20 miles per week could take years off an individual’s life, providing further evidence that less can be more with regard to exercise. According to that research, individuals who exhibit consistent but moderate workout patterns are likely to live the longest.
My research team and I were following a school of bottlenose dolphins near shore ... off Los Angeles, California. The dolphins were still feeding in circle near shore, when suddenly, one individual changed direction heading out toward deeper water. A minute later, the rest of the school turned to follow. Seeing them abruptly leave a foraging ground and change direction came as a surprise to the research team. I decided to follow them. The dolphins increased their speed. Somewhere near three miles offshore the dolphin group stopped, forming a sort of ring around a dark object in the water. "Someone's in the water!" yelled my assistant, standing up and pointing at the seemingly lifeless body of a girl. As the boat neared, she feebly turned her head toward us, half-raising her hand as a weak sign for help. If we didn't act immediately, the girl would die. We [pulled] the frail and hypothermic body on board. "She is cyanotic," said one of my researchers, also a lifeguard, after a cursory examination. "She has severe hypothermia. We need to get her warm!" We managed to get some of her wet garments off and wrap her in a blanket. We took turns keeping her warm by huddling with her under the blanket. A couple of hours later, we were all waiting outside the emergency room at the Marina del Rey hospital. The ER doctor came out to talk with us. The girl, it seems, would pull through, and he thanked us for our quick action. He tells us the girl was vacationing in L.A. from Germany and, as the letter found in her plastic bag explained, she was attempting suicide. If we hadn't found her, if the dolphins hadn't led us offshore when they did, to that specific place, she would have died.
Note: This article has been adapted from the book Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist. For more on the amazing capacities of dolphins and other marine mammals, as well as the threats they face from human activities, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
In a new study, researchers found that breast-cancer patients who had high levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to survive [as] women with low levels. They reviewed five studies that observed more than 4,440 women. "The study has implications for including vitamin D as an adjuvant to conventional breast cancer therapy," study co-author Dr. Heather Hofflich, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego, said in a press release. The researchers recommend that vitamin D should be added to the various treatments given to women fighting breast cancer. The body naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but milk, fatty fish and other foods can also boost production. Patients could also take vitamin D supplements.
Note: This is huge news! Why isn't this exciting development getting more press coverage? Read numerous major media articles revealing potential cancer cures which have received little attention. And see an informative article with more on the Vitamin D connection.
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