Category Archives: Inspirational

90 Year old Proves You Are Never To Old To Chase Your Dream

Compliments of ABC

A 92-year-old woman from South Carolina proves you are never too old to reach your goals.

Annie Dillard is donning her cap and gown, ready to graduate from Midlands Technical College with an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts.

Dillard is a widow, a mother of one, and the owner of her own hair salon.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in the 1960s.

Then, five years ago, she started searching for something more, and decided to enroll at Midlands Tech.

“My advice is you can make it if you try, but you have to start somewhere,” Dillard said.

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March For Our Lives Protest Extends Across The U.S

By: The Washington Post

In a historic groundswell of youth activism, hundreds of thousands of teenagers and their supporters rallied across the United States against gun violence Saturday, vowing to transform fear and grief into a “vote-them-out” movement and tougher laws against weapons.

They took to the streets of Washington and cities across the country, including New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; and Los Angeles, California. The numbers were like those seen in protests during the Vietnam era, about 50 years ago.

They were called to action by a brand-new corps of leaders: student survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead February 14.

“If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking,” Parkland survivor David Hogg said to roars from the protesters packing Pennsylvania Avenue from the stage near the Capitol many blocks toward the White House. “We’re going to take this to every election, to every state and every city. We’re going to make sure the best people get in our elections to run, not as politicians but as Americans.

“Because this,” he said, pointing behind him to the Capitol dome, “this is not cutting it.”

Some of the young voices were very young.

Yolanda Renee King, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s 9-year-old granddaughter, drew from the civil rights leader’s most famous words in declaring from the stage: “I have a dream that enough is enough. That this should be a gun-free world. Period.”

By all appearances — there were no official numbers — Washington’s March for Our Lives rally was as big as the women’s march last year that drew far more than the predicted 300,000.

The National Rifle Association went silent on Twitter as the protests unfolded, in contrast to its reaction to the nationwide school walkouts against gun violence March 14, when it tweeted a photo of an assault rifle and the message “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”

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Bournemouth Council Labeled Shameful for Putting Metal Bars on Benches to Deter Transients From Sleeping

By: Chris Baynes of The Independent

A council has been criticised as “inhumane” after installing metal bars on benches to stop homeless people sleeping on them.

Bournemouth Borough Council has adapted seats across the town centre to deter rough sleepers.

The Conservative authority said it installed the bars “following numerous complaints by members of the public and local traders” about people lying on the benches.

But charities condemned the “hostile” move and called for the local authority to focus on helping homeless people.

Photos of the benches have also provoked anger on social media, with Facebook users branding the council ”shameful” and “heartless”.

The council’s strategy first came to wider attention after Bournemouth artist Stuart Semple posted a picture of one of the benches on Facebook. He said between 20 and 30 seats had been “retrofitted”.

“The second I saw it I knew exactly what it meant and I was really shocked and quite angry to see it in my home town,” Mr Semple told The Independent.

He added: “This kind of hostile design is really wrong. Most people will just take these things for granted and walk past them but for a homeless person I think it would be deeply upsetting to see something like that.

“I really don’t think we should be making those kind of statements in our towns and cities, we should be making inclusive places. Everybody is welcome.”

The founder of a charity which hands out food to Bournemouth’s homeless said the measure was “an utter waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Claire Matthews, whose organisation Hope For Food runs a soup kitchen in the seaside resort four nights a week, told The Independent: “All it is doing is putting a sticking plaster over the wound. If [the council] stop and think and look at what they are doing and help the homeless off the streets, they would not need all this.

“Why can’t they actually put the money into helping the homeless?”

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Denver Employs Homeless To Day Labor Jobs & Many Shortly After Find Long Term Employment

By: Jon Murray of Denver Post

Jeffrey Maes didn’t expect to live on the streets in his 50s. He had started several businesses, but he says the last one, a remodeling company, went south just as he was stretched thin on four properties.

He lost them all, he said, and ended up without a home — along with the realization that he was considered unemployable. But last year, he heard about a Denver-sponsored day-labor program that had helped friends get back on their feet.

After nearly four years of homelessness, Maes gave it a shot.

And on Tuesday, he spoke about how the Denver Day Works program has helped restore his pride — and helped him find a full-time job retrofitting lights at the city’s Central Library —  as city officials announced the expansion of the program in the coming year. During a news conference at the library, Mayor Michael Hancock and others said the first-year numbers exceeded most of their goals.

In the first year after the program’s launch in November 2016, Denver Human Services says 284 people worked at least a day — with all but 10 sticking around longer — performing landscaping duties in parks, helping out at the Denver Elections Division, aiding public-works crews and other job assignments.

Of those participants, Maes was among 110 who found full-time work, with 15 landing permanent or project-based city jobs and the rest finding work with dozens of outside private and public employers.

“When you take a good person (who’s) down, broken, discouraged, and you give them an opportunity to be proud of their self — to stand up and do something for their self — that’s one of the greatest gifts anybody can give to anybody,” said Maes, 57. “And for that, I’d like to say thank you.”

Denver Day Works, run by contractor Bayaud Enterprises, has organized work crews three days a week. Next month, it will add a fourth day, with a fifth shift planned later in the year.

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Women’s March Speech Echos Globally

By: AJ Willingham of CNN

One of the most moving moments from the Women’s Marches that took over the country this weekend came when 23-year-old singer Halsey delivered a free-verse poem to a New York City crowd recounting her experiences with assault and feelings of powerlessness.

Her poem closed with strong words of hope and encouragement that triggered an outpouring of support and gratitude from around the world.

In her nearly five-minute performance, titled “A Story Like Mine,” the Grammy-nominated singer recalled several moments when her life was changed by assault or abuse. The full transcript of the poem is below.

It’s 2009 and I’m 14 and I’m crying

Not really sure where I am but I’m holding the hand of my best friend Sam

In the waiting room of a Planned Parenthood

The air is sterile and clean, and the walls are that not gray, but green

And the lights are so bright they could burn a hole through the seam of my jeans

My phone is buzzing in the pocket

My mom is asking me if I remembered my keys ’cause she’s closing the door and she needs to lock it

But I can’t tell my mom where I’ve gone

I can’t tell anyone at all

You see, my best friend Sam was raped by a man that we knew ’cause he worked in the after-school program

And he held her down with her textbook beside her

And he covered her mouth and he came inside her

So now I’m with Sam, at the place with a plan, waiting for the results of a medical exam

And she’s praying she doesn’t need an abortion, she couldn’t afford it

And her parents would, like, totally kill her

It’s 2002 and my family just moved and the only people I know are my mom’s friends, too, and her son

He’s got a case of Matchbox cars and he says that he’ll teach me to play the guitar if I just keep quiet

And the stairwell beside apartment 1245 will haunt me in my sleep for as long as I am alive

And I’m too young to know why it aches in my thighs, but I must lie, I must lie

It’s 2012 and I’m dating a guy and I sleep in his bed and I just learned how to drive

And he’s older than me and he drinks whiskey neat and he’s paying for everything

This adult thing is not cheap

We’ve been fighting a lot, almost 10 times a week

And he wants to have sex, and I just want to sleep

He says I can’t say no to him

This much I owe to him

He buys my dinner, so I have to blow him

He’s taken to forcing me down on my knees

And I’m confused ’cause he’s hurting me while he says please

And he’s only a man, and these things he just needs

He’s my boyfriend, so why am I filled with unease?

It’s 2017 and I live like a queen

And I’ve followed damn near every one of my dreams

I’m invincible and I’m so f***ing naive

I believe I’m protected ’cause I live on a screen

Nobody would dare act that way around me

I’ve earned my protection, eternally clean

Until a man that I trust gets his hands in my pants

But I don’t want none of that, I just wanted to dance

And I wake up the next morning like I’m in a trance and there’s blood

Is that my blood?

Hold on a minute

You see I’ve worked every day since I was 18

I’ve toured everywhere from Japan to Mar-a-Lago

I even went on stage that night in Chicago when I was having a miscarriage

I mean, I pied the piper, I put on a diaper

And sang out my spleen to a room full of teens

What do you mean this happened to me?

You can’t put your hands on me

You don’t know what my body has been through

I’m supposed to be safe now

I earned it

It’s 2018 and I’ve realized nobody is safe long as she is alive

And every friend that I know has a story like mine

And the world tells me we should take it as a compliment

But then heroes like Ashley and Simone and Gabby, McKayla and Gaga, Rosario, Aly

Remind me this is the beginning, it is not the finale

And that’s why we’re here

And that’s why we rally

It’s Olympians and a medical resident and not one f***ing word from the man who is President

It’s about closed doors and secrets and legs and stilettos from the Hollywood hills to the projects in ghettos

When babies are ripped from the arms of teen mothers and child brides cry globally under the covers

Who don’t have a voice on the magazine covers

They tell us take cover

But we are not free until all of us are free

So love your neighbor, please treat her kindly

Ask her story and then shut up and listen

Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian

Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs

Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues

For the people who had to grow up way too young

There is work to be done

There are songs to be sung

Lord knows there’s a war to be won

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Research Shows Correlation Between Cannabis Use And Creativity

By: Eric W. Dolan of Psypost

A new study suggests that differences in personality traits account for the link between marijuana use and enhanced creativity.

“I became interested in this topic upon the realization that a number of my favorite musicians and artists were well known for their cannabis use, and that this cannabis use was commonly thought to have been a cause of the creative success of many artists,” explained study author Emily LaFrance, a graduate student at Washington State University.

“I began to wonder about this commonly held idea – are cannabis users really more creative than non-users? And if so, is this because cannabis use makes them more creative, or is something else causing differences in creativity between users and non-users?”

For their study, which was published in Consciousness and Cognition, the researchers had 412 cannabis users and 309 non-users complete a series of psychological tests.

They found that cannabis users tended to be more extraverted and also tended to be more open to new experiences.

Cannabis users self-reported higher levels of artistic creativity than non-users, but they did not report a higher number of creative works or achievements.

Cannabis users also performed better than non-users on a test of convergent thinking — meaning the creative process of narrowing down potential solutions to find one correct answer.

But the statistical relationship between cannabis use and creativity disappeared when the researchers accounted for the effect of openness to experience. The results suggest that cannabis users’ higher levels of openness to experience are responsible for their enhanced creativity.

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Tokyo Firm Grants 6 Day Additional Holiday To Non-Smoking Employees 

By: Chloe Farand if The Independent 

A Japanese company is granting its non-smoking staff an additional six days of holiday a year to make up for the time off smokers take for cigarette breaks. 

Marketing firm Piala Inc introduced the new paid leave allowance in September after non-smokers complained they were working more than their colleagues who smoked. 

Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company, told The Telegraph: “One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems.”

Following the suggestion, the company’s CEO Takao Asuka decided to give non-smoking employees extra time off to compensate, Mr Matsushima added. 

The matter has been taken seriously by the Tokyo-based company which is reportedly based on the 29th floor of an office block — making any cigarette break last at least 15 minutes, according to staff. 
Mr Asuka hopes the scheme will create an incentive for the company’s staff to quit smoking. 

Efforts to reduce the number of smokers and impose tougher anti-smoking regulations have been seen across Japan in recent months. 

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Puerto Rico Receives 300m recovery Contract 

By: Ken Klippenstein of The Daily Beast

Puerto Rico has agreed to pay a reported $300 million for the restoration of its power grid to a tiny utility company that is primarily financed by a private-equity firm founded and run by a man who contributed large sums of money to President Trump, an investigation conducted by The Daily Beast has found.

Whitefish Energy Holdings, which had a reported staff of only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria touched down, appears ill-equipped to handle the daunting task of restoring electricity to Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million residents.

Much larger utilities are more commonly used following natural disasters on the scale of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last month.

The private-equity firm that finances Whitefish, HBC Investments, was founded by Joe Colonnetta, who serves as its general partner.

Federal Elections Commission data compiled by The Daily Beast shows Colonnetta contributed $20,000 to the Trump Victory PAC during the general election, $2,700 to Trump’s primary election campaign (then the maximum amount permitted), $2,700 to Trump’s general election campaign (also the maximum), and a total of $30,700 to the Republican National Committee in 2016 alone.

Colonnetta’s wife, Kimberly, is no stranger to Republican politics either; shortly after Trump’s victory, she gave $33,400 to the Republican National Committee, the maximum contribution permitted for party committees in 2016.

Joe Colonnetta is not the only Republican connection to the controversial Whitefish contract. On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Whitefish Chief Executive Officer Andy Techmanski is friends with Trump administration Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Moreover, Whitefish is located in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Monatana.

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Chile and Niue Vow To Protect Ocean With Various Marine Parks 

By: Amir Dawood 

The world of ocean conservation is still in shock today after they were sent reeling by some truly incredible news. The fight to protect the world’s seas and oceans is a slow and steady one, full of minor victories and large defeats. But recent news from Chile and the small island state of Niue have buoyed the environmental community.

Niue is only a tiny little island in the South Pacific, with a population of approximately 1,600 people. Yet it’s decided to turn a full 40% of what’s known as its ‘exclusive economic zone’ into a marine park. While the South American country of Chile has decided to add two brand new marine parks off its coasts. Parks that have strict rules and law about fishing. In other words, fishing is totally banned.

In total, the three new marine parks account for some 290,000 square miles of ocean. An incredible amount. To put that into some kind of size perspective, that’s double the size of Germany.
The Director of the Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) project, which is a public/private sustainability initiative in Niue is a man called Brendon Pasisi. He says this about the amazing work of the small island nation: “It is no small feat for a small-island developing state to make such a tremendous and tangible contribution to ocean conservation.”
University of Hawaii biologist Alan Friedlander is the chief scientist for Pristine Seas. Here are his thoughts on it all:
“We found some of the highest densities of reef sharks anywhere on Earth. Shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent globally, so this new MPA (marine protected area) is an important spot for these highly threatened species. We were amazed by what we found at Beveridge Reef — there were more sharks recorded by my BRUVS underwater video system at Beveridge Reef than had been recorded anywhere in the world to date.”

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Teenager Rescues Over Dozen Victims Of Hurricane Irma On Air Mattress 

Compliments of ABC

Imagine it’s 2 in the morning, flood water is up to your eyes and you’re pushing an air mattress behind an apartment building. You’re pushing through water and debris, staying calm, trying to rescue families screaming for help and also you’re 13 years old.

13-year-old Virgil Smith rescued 17 of his neighbors during Hurricane Harvey.

When flood waters poured into his apartment complex in Dickinson, he and his mom, Lisa Wallace, took shelter at a stranger’s second floor apartment.

Virgil says he got a call from his friend in another building.

“He was like, VJ, can you come help us because you know that we can’t swim,” says Smith.

Smith says he swam back to his apartment, pulled out the air mattress his family uses for guests, and went to work, rescuing his friends.

“I put him, his two sisters, one baby and his brother, and I had my other friend by the hand right here, and I set his momma and his step-dad on the air mattress,” said Smith.

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