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Giraffe Heroes

We are reaching out to the Director of Giraffe Heroes/Nepal, Dr. Sushil Koirala, but have no word from or about him as yet. We can see by maps of the earthquake that his home village is near the epicenter. Dr. Koirala now lives in Kathmandu. We'll let you know when we hear from him. Meanwhile, here's one way to help the survivors of the quake: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/nepal-earthquake-relief-fund/

Giraffe Heroes/Nepal has not been heard from since the quake. We are hoping Dr. Sushil Koirala is alive and uninjured.

2014 Final Conference on Aging for youtube


Part Two Senior Conference On Aging. Held at the First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena. Keynote Speaker Fritz Coleman NBC4's weathercaster is a Southern C...

As I move through my last days of being a mere 81, I came upon this riff on old age and laughed till tears ran down my face. This guy is hilarious, and keeps topping himself. Well worth a watch, especially if you're experiencing senior-ness. And if you haven't, watch anyway. It's instructional.

Giraffe Heroes

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD ~ BRAD KATSUYAMA When you blow the whistle on your own profession, bad things may happen. Canadian Brad Katsuyama blew the whistle on not only his fellow financial traders, but also on the entire system of buying and selling stocks. He's been pilloried by some of his former colleagues, but he persists—not to make money, not to gain fame, but to right what he perceived as a serious wrong. Katsuyama worked on Wall Street for the Royal Bank of Canada, trading stocks and eventually running the bank's equity-trading group. He was an up-and-comer, highly valued and commensurately paid by his employer. But he was seeing something that troubled him: When anyone on his team placed a large stock order, it wouldn’t be completely filled right away; when it was filled, he’d have to pay a higher price than he had been offered moments before. Katsuyama investigated and discovered the reason for the higher price: Traders operating on computers far faster than his bank’s would intercept the transaction, buy the shares he was trying to order, and then re-sell them to his team at higher prices. It was all done in milliseconds, but it was costing his clients a bundle. Katsuyama knew that this wasn’t fair to investors, but a great deal of money was being made by the traders who had rigged the system. They were powerful and crossing them could sink his rising career. The safest thing to do would be to just keep quiet about what he’d discovered. The profitable thing would be to get in on the system and join them in ripping off investors. Or he could stand up for what he knew was right. He told his wife: “It feels like I’m an expert in something that badly needs to be changed. I think there’s only a few people in the world who can do anything about this.” So Katsuyama blew the whistle, making sure people knew about the rigging of the current system. Then he set about devising a new one that would treat everyone fairly. “I had spent my career trading on behalf of clients,” said Katsuyama, “and it just seemed natural to take this information to them. . . . The system has let down the investor.” He gave up his high-paying job, pooled his savings with a colleague who had joined him, and started a new stock trading system, the IEX Exchange. IEX guarantees that all orders arrive at all the exchanges at the same time; the high-speed operators cannot get that millisecond advantage they’ve been using to make vast fortunes. The publicity was overwhelming. Katsuyama appeared on 60 Minutes and was the central figure of a best-selling book, Flash Boys, which details what Katsuyama discovered about high-frequency stock trading. Both the FBI and the Justice Department began investigating these trades. And threatened traders tossed a lot of mud at Katsuyama. The president of one exchange accused him on live television of scare-mongering in order to create publicity for IEX. Katsuyama looked at him and said, “I believe the markets are rigged, and I also think that you’re a part of the rigging.” Others have come to his defense. IEX is processing trades for companies and private investors who want a fair shake. And IEX has received hundreds of resumes from people who want to work in an ethical company. It’s also received whistleblower accounts from inside other trading companies. As for the guy who figured out what was going on, Katsuyama would like to downplay all the personal publicity and he doesn’t agree with critics who say computer trades should be stopped. “We’re not against computerized trading,” he says. But he does want transparency, and that level playing field for all investors. “Changing the way the market operates is better for everyone,” says Brad Katsuyama. Age when commended: adult (20-64) Year commended: 2014 Occupation: Business person

Yes, there are heroes on Wall Street. Well, at least there's this one...

It's Thursday, right? OK here's a pix from the past, David Medlock, Court Crawford, me, and Cynthia Medlock "back east" in 1981.


Today, Mayor Eric Garcetti hosted different environmental organizations and their volunteers to join him for an #EarthDay breakfast at the Getty House and we had the pleasure to join! Go, team! Pictured here with the Mayor and our Founder and President Andy Lipkis are some of our amazing volunteers: Merrill Koss, Vahagn Karapetyan, Abir Hossain and Stephanie Nelson!

Another young Giraffe Hero all grown up. Andy Lipkis, second from the right, was commended for starting TreePeople, back in his student days.

Giraffe Heroes

YOUNG CHAMPION OF THE OLD ACCEPTED AT HARVARD MED SCHOOL A Giraffe since he was 13, Max Wallack has just been admitted to Harvard Medical School, where he will continue his lifelong interest in curing Alzheimer's. Here's his original Giraffe profile: “If you have the ability to help people,” Max Wallack says, “then you have the responsibility to help people.” Max is a teenager, and has been living his motto since he was six years old. Max is also an inventor, and everything he invents helps people. When he was just 6 he noticed his grandmother had a hard time getting into her minivan. Using a wooden box and a removable handle, like a crutch, Max created the “Great Training Booster Step” to make her life easier. “Oh, she loved it,” he said. He was 7 when he made the “Walk Away Cane”—“basically a cane with an unfoldable seat attached to it,” Max says. It allows the elderly to sit at times when they might otherwise be stuck standing—like in lines or when watching a parade. Max’s next invention was the “Carpal Cushion,” which straps to the hand and wrist and protects the often over-taxed carpal tunnel in the wrist with a cushion of air. These inventions brought Max a number of science awards. He went to Chicago to receive one of them and there he saw lots of “people living out bags and boxes,” says Max. He started wondering what he could do to help the homeless, and his next invention did just that. The “Home Dome” is a small, portable house made from Styrofoam packing peanuts, polyethylene wrap, and aluminum rods. The Home Dome brought Max the Trash to Treasure Award, and he used his prize money from that to start his next endeavor: the non-profit Puzzles to Remember, inspired by his great grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s. The organization collects jigsaw puzzles and distributes them to facilities that care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Puzzles to Remember has distributed more than twelve thousand puzzles to over twelve hundred care-giving facilities in all fifty states. “It’s been great to help so many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Max said. Inventing is a quiet thing Max does alone, devoting hours to the work. He’s also stepped way out of his comfort zone to give public talks to students and to service groups, sometimes talking to as many as 600 people about ways they can help others. “I just try to identify a need and find a solution to that need,” says Max Wallack, inventor and humanitarian.

It's grand seeing very young Giraffe Heroes grow up, becoming excellent adults.

Xplicit Nation

Class Warfare: This Will Make You Hate Entitled Assholes! FouseyTUBE

Fascinating role-reversal experiment. What would you do if a seemingly homeless person offered you money?

Giraffe Heroes

SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER ~ REEYOT ALEMU In January 2012, Reeyot Alemu was sentenced to 14 years in prison. The sentence was reduced to five years, of which she has served two. The reason that Alemu was imprisoned is that she’s a journalist in Ethiopia who speaks out against the government. In Ethiopia, the government routinely silences journalists by accusing them of terrorism, interrogating them without benefit of legal counsel, and holding a trial that inevitably convicts them. Only one other government in Africa, Eritrea, detains more journalists. Alemu had been arrested seven months before—in the high-school English class she taught; her house was then searched. She’d been teaching, writing columns for a local newspaper, and planning her wedding. Her students and colleagues were shocked, to say the least. Since her arrest and assignment to the notorious Kaliti prison in Addis Ababa, Alemu has at times been punished with solitary confinement, denied medical care, and allowed no visitors. She has gone on a hunger strike to protest not being able to see her fiancé and her sister. All these restrictions are forbidden in the Ethiopian Constitution, but that appears to be a mere technicality. Much of this started when the Ethiopian government began to raise funds to construct a giant hydroelectric dam and started diverting the waters of the Blue Nile, prompting angry protests from its neighbor, Egypt. Alemu had already criticized the government for a variety of policies, including its “growth and transformation plan,” but this time she raised questions about the particulars of the funding campaign as well as the project in general. In Ethiopia, that was described as the planning and promotion of terrorist acts. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) disagrees: “Writing critical columns about the government is not a criminal offense,” wrote CPJ’s East Africa Coordinator Tom Rhodes, “and is certainly not a terrorist act. Reeyot should be released immediately.” And from Mohamed Keita, another CPJ official: “The Ethiopian government has a longstanding practice of using umbrella charges of terrorism to silence critical voices. These acts are part of a pattern to punish the Ethiopian press for their journalistic work.” Alemu was offered clemency in exchange for providing information on other journalists. She refused. Alemu’s father was asked if he’d advise Reeyot to apologize to the government. Courage and principle clearly run in the family. His response, in part: “We try as much as humanly possible to keep (our children) from harm . . . Whether or not to beg for clemency is her right and her decision. I would honor and respect whatever decision she makes. . . . I would rather have her not plead for clemency, for she has not committed any crime.” Reeyot Alemu herself echoes that sentiment: “I knew that I would pay the price for my courage, and I was ready to accept that price.” #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes.

Today's #GiraffeHero, encouraging you to #StickYourNeckOut.


Meet Etta Irene Davis. Born April 16, 2015 at 9:10 am. So worth the wait. Caroline Davis

Etta Irene Davis makes her online debut. Thanks for the photos, New Dad Aaron.

Giraffe Heroes

PROTECTING THE LAND ~ RANDY THOMPSON It’s a classic confrontation: the little guy versus the big corporation. In this case, the little guy is 6-foot Nebraskan farmer and rancher Randy Thompson, and the big corporation is Canada oil giant TransCanada. And on the giant TransCanada’s side: officials in the Nebraska statehouse and legislature who are choosing to advocate for the company, not for protecting the state’s ranch- and farmlands. What TransCanada wants is to run the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta down through the Plains States—including Nebraska—to refineries in Texas, to be sold to the highest world bidders. Never mind that another TransCanada pipeline has had 12 confirmed leaks in less than a year, one of which spewed 20,000 gallons of tar into the air. The pipeline will bring construction jobs to Nebraska, says the governor, and that’s what’s important. What’s important to Thompson is that his family conquered deep poverty—no indoor plumbing or electricity when he was growing up—to buy the 400 acres of land he now owns. When a TransCanada representative came by to ask if the company could run its pipeline through that land, Thompson gave him a noncommittal answer and then went on his computer to do some research. What he found stunned him. He told TransCanada “No.” Actually, he told them “Go to hell.” That’s when the threatening letters began, as well as the phone calls, and they continued for seven years: If Thompson didn’t give TransCanada what it wanted—and it eventually offered to pay him serious cash for the route through his land—they would seize the land under eminent domain. It didn’t matter that TransCanada is a private, Canadian corporation, not a US or Nebraska governmental agency. Thompson wrote to Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman about his concerns and in return got a form letter thanking him for his input. Thompson was infuriated: “Our families have invested too much blood, sweat, and tears to simply sit back and let a foreign corporation take a portion of our hard-earned land through eminent domain for their private use and gain. . . . I’ve never seen any asterisk in the Constitution that says this property is only yours until a big corporation wants it.” Randy Thompson decided it was more important to fight TransCanada than to continue his full-time ranching and farming. He stepped away often enough to become the face and the voice of the anti-pipeline movement in Nebraska, testifying before the state legislature, before the U.S. Congress, and before the State Department. With the help of the nonprofit organization, Bold Nebraska, he began appearing on local and national media. And he is the actual face on t-shirts that feature the slogan, “I stand with Randy.” TransCanada changed its proposed route to one that skirts Thompson’s land, but Thompson didn’t stop speaking out; a lot of other people’s land was still endangered. Finally, in 2014, a possibly temporary victory: Despite the TransCanada/State of Nebraska partnership, a district judge declared unconstitutional the law that gave the governor and state environmental regulators the authority to approve oil pipeline routes. At this writing, the Nebraska Attorney General is appealing the ruling. Thompson is an unlikely activist. Until that visit from TransCanada, he was a quiet conservative and tended to stay out of public matters, preferring to tend to his farm and ranch. But that all changed. “I guess I’m kind of an accidental activist,” he says. “I did it because it needed to be done. The people who were supposed to be looking out for us? They were looking out for them.”

You gotta love this rancher, rallying his fellow Nebraskans to protect their precious farmland.

Giraffe Heroes

Giraffe Hero Eric Greitens was on the Daily Show last night. Watch him at http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/cxoxkr/eric-greitens You can read his Giraffe profile here: http://giraffeheroes.org/storybank-of-real-heroes?sobi2Task=sobi2Details&catid=0&sobi2Id=1295

Here's a former Navy Seal who's organized fellow vets to keep serving--as community volunteers.

Giraffe Heroes

Next up in our banner here, a teen who's a veteran activist. SAVING THE EARTH FOR HIS GENERATION Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez loves the outdoors. Maybe it’s the Aztec genes passed on through his father’s side of the family; maybe it’s the environmental activism modeled by his mother. Or maybe it’s just that the forest around Boulder, Colorado, is stunning, and Xiuhtezcatl has grown up loving it. Whatever the reasons, when he was only six years old, Xiuhtezcatl realized that something was happening to his forest, and that something wasn’t good. It was getting warmer, the trees were dying, the logs were feeding huge fires, plant growth was disappearing, and species of animals were becoming endangered. The changes are so real and so serious that 6-year-old Xiuhtezcatl gave a speech at a rally that was organized to make people aware of the human causes of climate change. It's not abstract for him, and his up-close and personal familiarity with the forest holds him in good stead with climate change-deniers, as well as others who may deride him for being overly concerned. “The proof,” he says, “is right in front of us. This is happening now, this is happening here, and this is real.” Xiuhtezcatl has been working for the environment ever since that first speech, particularly as the voice of the Earth Guardians, a nonprofit environmental group for youth. Before he was even a teenager, Xiuhtezcatl had persuaded the Boulder City Council to remove pesticides from parks, to require companies to contain coal ash, to implement a fee on plastic bags, and to end a 20-year contract with a gas and electric energy company (in favor of renewable energy). He accomplished the pesticide action by organizing a press conference of over 50 youth and over 200 attendees. He accomplished the coal ash action by speaking at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing. He accomplished the plastic bags action by creating a multimedia presentation using “plastic bag monsters” and showing it to youth and city representatives. And he accomplished the gas and electric energy company action by going door-to-door and by speaking at Council meetings. He has helped to organize dozens of rallies, marches, presentations, and other events. He's worked with officials from the city, county, state, and U.S. government, and he’s collaborated with over 50 environmental organizations. He started and performs with a music group called Voice of Youth, for which he writes original music and lyrics to educate people about environmental issues. Imagine the guts it must take for a boy of 12 to deliver an address to a mayor, or a U.S. Senator, or a throng of hundreds. But Xiuhtezcatl is motivated: “I am on a mission to bring the awareness of our environmental and climate crisis to my generation.” Xiuhtezcatl’s message is simple: “We deserve to have a say in the kind of world we are going to inherit. Youth are innovative and have a clear understanding of the environmental crisis and what it will take to turn things around. We have a powerful voice, and people are listening.” It’s more than education, of course: It’s getting people to take action. Xiuhtezcatl is only too aware that he’s too young to vote and that he has to depend on adults to make substantive changes: “It’s really important,” he points out, “to let people know that instead of just knowing what the problem is and feeling terrible about it, you know what to do about it.” And that could be a good working definition of an activist. www.earthguardians.org. Age when commended: teen (13-19) Year commended: 2013 Occupation: Student

How's this for an amazing young person?

Just got word--I've been a great-grandmother for a little less than an hour. Wahoo!


Look at the center of this image for 30sec Then watch Van Gogh's *Starry Night* come to life

Spirals--moving ones. Watch Van Gogh's sky spin.

Outing the Mermaid: A Novel of Love, Fear & Misogyny


“The prose is poetry, yet completely unselfconscious, and that ain’t easy.” –Robert Page Jones, Screenwriter & Novelist From the Jane Austen room at The Sylvia Beach Hotel: “Outing the Mermaid is Jane Austen with sex.” –Goody Cable, Hotel Proprieto...

Only 11 reviews so far--10 are 5-star, so that's good. But if you downloaded the freebie of Outing the Mermaid, please read it and go say something about it, OK? 'Preciate it.

Giraffe Heroes

As more women in the military refuse to keep quiet about assaults by their fellow personnel, we think of one of the first women to break the silence. BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON MILITARY MISOGYNY ~ PAULA COUGHLIN It’s one thing for a whistle-blower to stand up to a company; it’s quite another for a whistle-blower to stand up to the United States Navy. And when that whistle-blower is a woman—well, that takes real courage. In September 1991, when Paula Coughlin was a helicopter pilot and a Lieutenant in the United States Navy, she attended a Navy-sponsored conference called “Tailhook” in Las Vegas. Officially, the point of the conference is for officers to learn about advances in aviation technology. Unofficially, it was a wanton free-for-all that plays to the libidos of male officers. At the 1991 conference, hundreds of Navy personnel indecently assaulted the attending females. Emerging from an elevator, Coughlin herself was forced to “run the gauntlet”—passing along a line of officers who pawed and groped her, grabbing her breasts and trying to undress her. As she later told the WashingtonPost, “It was the most frightened I’ve ever been in my life. I thought, ‘I have no control over these guys. I’m going to be gang-raped.’” She was not alone. It turned out that at least 80 women were assaulted at Tailhook that year by these “officers and gentlemen." Coughlin dutifully reported what had happened to her superiors. Her complaints were treated casually or dismissed outright. She filed a formal complaint and was reassigned to desk duty. After more efforts, Coughlin succeeded in obtaining an investigation by the Naval Investigative Service. None of the more than 1,000 Tailhook attendees who were interviewed were willing to testify that anything was amiss at the conference. Nobody saw anything; nobody heard anything. Coughlin went public, and as a result some heads finally rolled. President George H.W. Bush saw the report on television and called Coughlin into his office and to the office of Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. Bush appeared emotional, saying that he could just imagine how Coughlin’s father—a former Navy pilot, like Bush himself—must have felt. On the other hand, a much less sympathetic Cheney told her, “Because of your complaint, I have had to remove the Secretary of the Navy.” Several other officers were subsequently disciplined, if lightly, but the damage to Coughlin’s career was done. She was ostracized at work and reviled in public; in February 1994 she resigned from the Navy. She sued both the Tailhook Association and the Las Vegas Hilton, settling out of court for with the former and getting a favorable jury determination from the latter. After the trial, though, it was no longer possible for her to associate with anyone in the Navy population. “I was in a café just after the trial,” says Coughlin, “and an irate woman came up to me and said, ‘God forgive me, because I’m a Christian, but you got what you deserved.’” The woman was referring to the groping, not the jury award. So Coughlin married a childhood friend—becoming Paula Puopolo—moved away, and took up both practicing and teaching yoga. All these decisions calmed her, drained her of her anger, and gave her some hope for the future. As she points out, “The philosophy [of yoga] opened me up to the idea that I could really stop hating . . ..” Women are still treated harshly in the U.S. armed forces, with thousands of reports of sexual abuse filed against military personnel each year. But Coughlin hopes that her incident—with all the negative publicity—helped to start the changes that must happen, but she’s concerned: “The climate for women in the military is probably better than it was just by the sheer number of females now entering. If a woman is lucky enough to work for a woman, she might get good support during a sexual-assault crisis—otherwise, it is completely up to the chain of command to informally or formally make the incident go away.” With more Paula Coughlins speaking out, the incidents will not go away. Update: As women members of the armed service follow her lead in refusing to keep quiet, Coughlin-Piopolo continues to speak in the media in defense of women’s right to serve without attacks from their fellow service members. Year commended: 1992

Good to see more women in the military speaking out, as Lt. Coughlin did.

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