The Piano Guys, Peter Hollens, David Archuleta, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir get together to sing "Angels We Have Heard On High".
Over A Thousand People Came Together To Break a Record And Bring This Moving Christmas Hymn To Life.
The Piano Guys, Peter Hollens, David Archuleta, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir get together to sing "Angels We Have Heard On High".
A SMILE costs nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.
A SMILE creates happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in business, and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and it is nature's best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a SMILE. Give them one of yours, as none needs a SMILE so much as he who has no more to give.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
- John F. Kennedy
Souvik Ray : India Times
Saalumarada Thimmakka lives in the Hulikal village of Karnataka. At 103, she still lives on to tell the story of her life which was filled with hardship but bore fruit in a different kind of way. As a young girl, she was married off to a farmer who made a meagre income and was looked down upon by his fellow villagers for not fathering a child with his new wife. Instead of following social protocol, they decided to plant tree saplings and tend to them as their own children.
Nurturing the 10 grafted saplings on a bare stretch of land four kilometres from their village (between the villages of Hulikal and Kudoor, about 80 km away of Bangalore) they endured the hardships of tending to the plants despite their limited economic resources. The following years, they planted more saplings, in the hope that they would grow and beautify the land. Today, the fully grown banyan trees are at an economic value of Rs. 15 Lakh and are managed by the Government of Karnataka.
Despite being felicitated and awarded by several state and national organisations, Thimmakka still lives below the poverty line. Her home cannot accommodate the certificates and medals while her bills still remain unpaid. Her only means of income is a government pension of Rs. 500. She is still a staunch supporter of afforestation and does all she can to spread awareness. Her belief is that every person should leave behind an asset that benefits all humanity.
After adopting a son, whom she inspired to be passionate about the environment, Thimmakka still dreams of starting a hospital. She hasn't given up on her hopes and aspirations yet.
This story, with more photographs, can be found here.
Frances D'Emilio : The Big Story : 29 Apr 2016
© AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino : Volunteers clean the banks of the Tiber river, Rome, as part of the Retake Rome gathering, Sunday April 17, 2016. Tired of waiting years for the city to replace diseased trees and do other work, Romans are starting to take back their city.
Armed with shovels and sacks of cold asphalt, Rome's residents fill potholes. Defying rats, they yank weeds and bag trash along the Tiber's banks and in urban parks. Tired of waiting years for the city to replace diseased trees, neighbors dig into their own pockets to pay for new ones for their block.
Romans are starting to take back their city, which for years was plundered and neglected by City Hall officials and cronies so conniving that some of them are on trial as alleged mobsters. In doing the work, Romans are experimenting with what for many Italians is a novel and alien concept: a sense of civic duty.
One windy recent Sunday morning, Manuela Di Santo slathered paint over graffiti defacing a wall on Via Ludovico di Monreale, a residential block in Rome's middle-class Monteverde neighborhood. Men, perched on ladders, used mechanical sanders to erase graffiti on another palazzo. Women and children swept up litter, filling black plastic trash bags provided by the city's sanitation service, which is only too glad to have someone do the job for free.
"Either I help the city, or we're all brought to our knees," said Di Santo.
Splotches of paint stained a blue bib identifying her as a volunteer for Retake Roma, a pioneer in an expanding array of citizen-created organizations in the past few years aimed at encouraging Romans to take the initiative in cleaning and repairing their city.
© AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia : Volunteers clean a sidewalk as part of the Retake Rome gathering in Rome,
Sunday, April 10, 2016. Tired of waiting years for the city to replace diseased trees and do other work,
Romans are starting to take back their city
Local politicians had been in cahoots with gangsters, shady go-betweens and corrupt city hall bureaucrats, prosecutors allege in investigations that have led to dozens of arrests since 2014. Some defendants are accused of using Mafia-like methods of intimidation to get their hands on lucrative public-works contracts.
Rome's last mayor, who failed in the Herculean task of cleaning up Rome literally and morally, was virtually forced to quit halfway through his term in 2015. Until mayoral elections this June, the Italian capital is being administered by a government-appointed commissioner, under a formula similar to what happens when Italian City Halls are under the grip of organized-crime syndicates.
Retake Roma, which does cleanup projects all over the city, has been enjoying a surge of citizen support, especially since the explosion of the scandal in 2014 led Romans to realize that much-maligned city services like transport and sanitation had been used for patronage jobs for years.
With prosecutors still combing through hundreds of municipal contracts to expose even more alleged kickbacks, payoffs and other corruption, and processes to award contracts are scrutinized under tightened City Hall anti-corruption measures, services for the public have been deteriorating further. Trash piles up. Potholes sprout like weeds, tripping up pedestrians and sending motor-scooter drivers into nasty spins.
Gaetano Capone, who serves on a local district council, joined some 30 neighbors one spring Saturday to rake up broken beer bottles, soda cans and cigarette butts from outside a commuter train station. Volunteers at the local Monteverde Vecchio 4Venti Neighborhood Committee paid a gardener to cut down waist-high weeds.
Romans "understand that the city machinery doesn't work anymore," said Capone.
Calls and text messages pour into Cristiano Davoli's cellphone from citizens alerting him to ominously widening potholes on their block or routes to work. On weekends, Davoli and four helpers — an off-duty doorman, a graphic artist, a government worker and a retiree — who call themselves "Tappami" (Fill Me Up) load their car trunks with donated bags of cold asphalt and fan out. "Sometimes it's the municipal traffic police who call me," said Davoli, a shopkeeper.
After the first anti-corruption arrests, Sicilian anti-Mafia magistrate Alfonso Sabella was summoned to Rome for the hastily created post of city legality commissioner to get a handle on just how badly corruption, favoritism and ineptitude infected City Hall. "It was worse than I thought," said Sabella, who was frustrated that his office wasn't assigned more personnel.
Starting with the run-up to the 2000 Holy Year, when government funds flooded the Italian capital to prepare for millions of extra pilgrims, "big projects became popular" with politicians, recalled Sabella. "If you do maintenance on city buses, nobody notices; if you make a new metro station, yes."
Rome's mass transit system is roundly scorned. Not infrequently, passengers have to yank shut doors after drivers pull away from bus stops as malfunctioning doors fail to close, with riders perilously close to falling out of the bus.
American architect Tom Rankin organizes river bank cleanups by Tevereterno, a volunteer group dedicated to making the Tiber, which winds through the heart of Rome, more pleasant for strollers and cyclists. He noted that Retake Roma was inspired by an American who cleaned up the Rome building where she lived, exposing Romans to a deeply rooted American tradition of working together for one's community.
Sweeping sidewalks on Via Ludovico di Monreale, Brunella Fraleoni, who is married to an American and previously lived in the United States, pondered a moment when asked why pitching in with neighbors to clean streets is only just catching on in Rome. "The idea of fixing up something is very poorly rooted in Italy. Maybe it's because we're used to ruins," she said with a wry laugh. Then she turned serious. She and her neighbors were out there, she said, to "inspire public opinion. Not just cleaning to clean."
RT : 28 Apr 2016
The new Russian law on impounding unused agricultural land could be amended with a clause allowing such plots to be given free to families with three or more children, the head of State Duma Committee for Agriculture has said.
"It is possible that we will write in this bill that land not used today could be used by families with many children. Plots of land confiscated because of improper use could be handed over to families of Russian citizens with three or more children who permanently reside in rural areas. Such families could then use the land for family farms of up to 50 hectares (123.5 acres)," MP Nikolai Pankov (United Russia) said in an interview with Izvestia daily.
The existing draft of the bill also stipulates that businessmen willing to launch their own agricultural enterprises can buy land from the state at prices fixed in state land registries. They would then be under an obligation to use it. If regional supervising bodies discover that the purchased land remains unused for a year, the owner would be fined (the proposed fines vary from 0.3 to 1.5 percent of the plot's registry price). If the situation continues for a second year, the land would be confiscated and passed to different owners either through an auction or by some other scheme.
"The essence of our proposal is not in confiscating and selling this land, but in developing mechanisms that would stimulate people into cultivating this land. We will hold auctions inviting as many people as possible, prioritizing those who already owns land and successfully cultivates it," MP Pankov told reporters.
The deadline for submitting amendments to the draft law on impounding non-used agricultural lands expires on May 15. Sources in the State Duma have told Izvestia that the second reading of the bill will be held before the end of June.
Currently Russia has about 198 million hectares of agricultural land and at least 28 million of these are state owned and unused.
The State Duma is also discussing a bill on free handover of land to Russians and foreigners who want to build homes or develop agriculture or tourism in the region. The scheme will only be applicable in the Far East Federal Region. Foreigners will only be allowed to use the land and enjoy full property rights after becoming naturalized citizens
Collective Evolution : 26 Nov 2015
It is difficult to fathom the kind of hardships he must have faced in recent years, which is what makes this story so powerful. If you can bless another while going through your own storms, no matter how intense those storms are, that really says something about you as a person and the human heart in general.
His story is making its rounds across the internet after a picture of him serving food was posted on social media. Apparently, he spends his own money doing this selfless work, despite being unable to find a steady job. He is currently living off of the German government, which is providing Syrian refugees 359 euros a month.
The Invisible Borders That We Create
The conceits of mankind are strange indeed. We seem to have this inbuilt need to draw invisible borders and imaginary lines in order to separate 'us' from 'them.' We have become a species numb to the pain, hurt, and suffering of others. I wish I lived in a world where kindness and generosity were foremost in our hearts — a world where, if someone were suffering, there would always be someone there to help. What bothers me even more is that we already have the resources and potential to provide food, clothing, and shelter to every human being on the planet. It doesn't have to be this way. The money spent on war alone could solve these issues in such a short period of time, yet we've become so wrapped up in the system, in politics, and in our own greed, that we are unwilling to drop these experiences in order to thrive.
The story above is a great example of what makes human beings so special. All of us have that light within our hearts; we are born with it. No child is born racist or with hate in their heart — these attitudes develop from our experiences in this life. Our minds can be shaped and moulded to think a certain way, and negative experiences or influencers can leave their mark. That being said, all of us, including those who have done what we call the 'worst' of acts, have love in their hearts. We all have that spark within us; some of us have just become disconnected from it, and that's because we've forgotten how to live together on this big beautiful planet of ours.
Service to others provides the greatest nourishment to the soul. It is a spiritual food which nothing material can replace, and it represents the true meaning of wealth, so I hope these words inspire you to do something good, to help a fellow human being. Because the truth is, you may be the only one who ever does. Next time the universe presents you with an opportunity to help another being, take it, or go out and create that opportunity for yourself.
The rest of this story can be found here.
Judy Legum : Think Progress : 01 Feb 2016
Due to the inaction of state and federal officials, thousands of people in Flint have been exposed to unsafe levels of lead in their water. Now a group of union plumber are taking matters into their own hands. On Saturday, 300 plumbers from unions across the country descended on Flint to install new faucets and water filters for free. Many Flint residents needed new faucets because their existing faucets were so old they could not accommodate water filters provided by the state.
The effort was co-ordinated by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry, known as the United Association. The fixtures were donated by the Plumbing Manufacturers International.
For some in Flint, however, even new faucets with modern water filters won't be enough to fully abate the lead contamination. New tests released recently revealed that, in some Flint homes, the levels of lead "exceed the ability of filtration systems handed." The filters can safely remove up to 150 parts per billion of lead. Some Flint homes were found to have lead levels of more than 4,000 parts per billion. Residents of Flint, however, are still encouraged to use the filters. For most homes, they will work.
Steven Maxwell : Activist Post : 04 Jan 2016
Every activist has read the increasing number of stories where homelessness is being criminalized, as if simply being homeless isn't punishment enough. However, there is a rising tide among all walks of life that is beginning to view homelessness in a very different light.
As a sinking economy and the criminal actions of the banking elite are leading many middle class, stable families into abject poverty, it is becoming much easier to identify with the less fortunate the closer their plight appears to be. Defenders of the homeless are becoming much more vocal now. We have seen some amazing examples recently of people moved to help those in need through programs such as an artist who paints and sells portraits of the homeless and gives them the profits; a former homeless man who gives back to the homeless by selling book reviews and buying food to share; or the inspiring story of a community organizer who used his own faith to connect with those from other faiths in a common cause of feeding those in need.
We are even seeing people of conscience openly defying oppressive laws to draw a line in the sand that says: if it becomes illegal to help one another on our own terms, we simply have no freedom left to celebrate.
Feeding the homeless has also gone from the concept of a "handout" of money to allow people to buy whatever meager sustenance they can find, to realizing that if people are going to have any chance of turning their financial situation around, they must be physically and mentally fit to do so. A key cornerstone to building oneself back up again is nutrition ... and if it's "free" nutrition, then all the better!
An organization in Atlanta is calling themselves Task Force For the Homeless and should be highlighted for their message and their tactics to restore dignity and prosperity to those who have fallen on hard times. They have chosen to combine two essential approaches to reverse the conditions which afflict the homeless the most: not having access to healthy food, and not being able to connect with others who are working in structured way to engage in practical solutions.
Enter the organic community rooftop garden.
The rest of this article can be read here.
Are you aware that in the United States, nearly 40% of the food produced is tossed into the trash? As it makes its way to the landfill, 795 million people in the world wonder where their next meal will come from.
It’s ridiculous – as well as disheartening - which is why activists around the planet are doing their part to help reduce food waste and feed others with the discarded scraps. This is exactly what Adam Smith, founder of The Real Junk Food Project, is doing in Armley, Leeds. The social entrepreneur has created an empire of ‘social cafes’ through which to cook up stews, casseroles, soups and cakes with the unwanted products from supermarkets, independent grocers, and food banks.
The most unique aspect of the business model is that it has a “pay as you feel” rule. This policy encourages patrons to pay what they feel they can pay. If that amounts to nothing, then they can work for their meal.The Independent reports that in only 10 months, Smith has helped feed 10,000 people on 20 tons of unwanted food. In addition, he’s raised over 30,000 pounds (UK).
Since its success, forty-seven other similar style cafes have popped up in Manchester, Bristol, Saltaire, Los Angeles, Brazil, Warsaw, and Zurich. In the United States, a similar grocery store called The Daily Table transforms unwanted or ‘expired’ leftovers into perfectly nourishing and tasty food for customers. The founder of that endeavor is Doug Rauch, the former president of Trader Joe’s.
It’s difficult for entrepreneurs inspired to repurpose food to carry out their vision, as in many areas of the world, retailers can be prosecuted if they sell food after the use-by date. The ‘best-before’ date is allowed, which is why Smith’s organization wants the law to be changed to prevent supermarkets from disposing of so much food at the fear of prosecution.
Thankfully, progress is being made. Earlier this year, France made it illegal for supermarkets to purposely waste food. Stores must now donate unsold food to charity, for animal feed, or for farming compost.
Unfortunately, groups like Smith’s are often looked down upon because they seek food others deem not optimal for consumption. With a change of perspective, however, everyone might come to understand that a good share of food thrown into dumpsters is perfectly edible. Recognizing this sooner rather than later would benefit everyone on the planet.
In Britain, food prices have risen 47% since 2003, which is quite high compared to the United States’ 30.4%, reports The Independent. Germany’s food inflation is 22.1% and France’s is 16.7%. When people struggle to afford the basic necessities in life, you can be certain there’s a fault – if not many – with ‘the system’. The Real Junk Food Project is an amazing concept and business model which will, hopefully, inspire other social cafes to sprout and blossom, as well.
This article (In 10 Months, This Cafe Has Fed 10,000 People With 20 Tons Of Unwanted Food ) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com
Jen Mills : Metro UK : 28 Nov 2015
© CEN : Nina feeds Shavi
A dog injured in a hit-and-run accident is believed to have walked almost 200 miles to find the Russian woman who nursed her back to health.
Shavi was left to die by the side of the road after the crash, in southern Russia's Rostov Oblast region last winter. She had been living on the streets as a stray when the driver hit her and then just drove away, Russian media reported. He left Shavi to die in agony with two broken legs by the side of the road, where she was shivering and freezing, but luckily, two passersby saw the animal and took her to the vet, before appealing online for someone who could care for her as she recovered.
26-year-old Nina Baranovskaya was the only person who replied to the appeal, it was reported.She picked up Shavi as soon as she'd had an operation on her hind legs and took her back to her small flat in Rostov-on-Don where she lives with her young daughter and several other pets. Then she helped the dog learn to walk again, teaching her basic commands and playing with her every day. Shavi needed a lot of care and attention because of the lasting trauma from the crash, and Nina had to buy nappies for her and comfort her whenever she saw cars in the street or a stranger.
But Nina couldn't look after Shavi in the long term because she has a small flat and family commitments so she found her pet a loving home with friends 185 miles away. However, just a few days later the dog went missing and Nina had a phone call from her friends in a panic. Two weeks later, Shavi still hadn't reappeared and Nina was pretty worried.
But then, Shavi turned up in an unexpected place. As Nina walked down the road last week she felt something brush her leg.
It turns out Shavi had walked almost 200 miles back to Rostov across unfamiliar terrain to be reunited with Nina, who burst into tears when she realised what had happened. Experts think it must have taken more than a week to make the trek, the Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.
Nina isn't going to let Shavi go again, and she's now looking for a bigger flat so they can stay together.
_This section is for interesting items which are brought to my attention but which do not merit a separate article.
I welcome your comments, questions or suggestions on any topics you wish to contribute to this section.