has passed, I note that I have neglected this site. Today marks a new beginning. I’ll try, from time to time, tofind an item of note, the news that offers at least one pleasant detail.
•Airbus •Annenberg Foundation •Arctic 30 •Arline Bronzaft •Ban on Stop and Frisk •John Bilotti •Chimps in Retirement •James Davis •Bronx Defenders •Baba Lawal Ja’faar •Electric Car Coalition •Earthlings •Montserrat Garibay •Kirsten Gillibrand •Haratins of Mauritania •Hawaii, and Same Sex Marriage •Patricia Ann Kettles •Kumi Naido •Leo Grillo •Leona Lewis •Navajo‘s Ban Horse Slaughter •Monarch Watch •Mt. Sinai Surgeons Treat Holli the Gorilla •Ntozake Shange •Dr. Thomas Rees •Obama’s Green Initiative Pope Francis •Voters of New Jersey •Phineas the Dog •Joachin Phoenix •Solana •Zephyr Teachout •Tim Walsh
•Owain Yeoman •Minimum Wage Referendum •Susan Boyle’s Autism •TaterTot •Vera Institute •Craig Steven Wilder
Kudos to Zephyr Teachout for challenging entrenched political interests
In a display of hard-ball politics, the Worker’s Family Party in New York bowed to union pressure and dropped its gubernatorial candidate in favor of Andrew Cuomo. In return, Cuomo agreed to a modification of past governing practices. Among the practices abandoned would be the muzzling of the Democrat-dominated state assembly. For years Cuomo has been able to avoid making politically risky decisions because of an alliance forged between a group of assembly Democrats and the minority Republican members. Together this coalition thwarted passage of progressive legislation and spared Cuomo the hard choice of alienting his liberal base or infuriating conservative constituents. The Workers Family Party wrested from him a promise to no longer enable the Democrat/Republican alliance.Voters will have to see if Cuomo fulfills the spirit of his promise.Meanwhile, Zephyr Teachout is offering New Yorkers the option of voting for a true progressive. Ms. Teachout is throwing her hat in the ring;
she’s hoping to gain enough petition signatures to launch a challenge to Cuomo in the upcoming Democratic primary.Ms. Teachout is a longshot candidate. That’s exactly what every district, every electorate deserves. Longshots don’t have party backing. Longshots aren’t financed by lobbyists. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a candidate like that actually prevailed?
Kudos to Zephyr Teachout.12/13/2013
Kudos to news about Susan Boyle’s AutismSusan Boyle, the Scottish mezzo-soprano who shot to fame with one performance on the television show, Britain’s Got Talent, announced this week that she has Asperger’s Syndrome. In describing her life with Asperger’s, Ms. Boyle spoke of many painful experiences. She recalled a childhood of poor academic achievement. She recalled being bullied by her peers, who mocked her with the nickname “Simple Susie”. Many people would have been hardened by this history. Ms. Boyle was not. She seems to lack the bitterness that might be the harvest of a lifetime lived on the fringes of society.Kudos to Ms. Boyle for presenting to the world an aspect that is forgiving and accepting. Kudos to this lovely lady for sharing with us the fact that she has Asperger’s Syndrome. This is a disorder that is little understood by people who do not have direct knowledge of it. Asperger’s can isolate an individual, particularly if diagnosis is not forthcoming. With increased awareness of Asperger’s will come increased recognition of its symptoms. This can only be a good thing.Ms. Boyle has given the world not only the benefit of her remarkable talent, but she has given us the gift of awareness. Kudos to Susan Boyle for this most important contribution.
Kudos to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
The New York Times ran an article today that described irritation some of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s colleagues sometimes feel toward her. Seems the Senator presses an agenda when others in her party think she ought to be quiet. This inclination to speak up and advocate for issues has been especially noted in her ambition to combat sexual assault in the military. Senator Gillibrand has put more than a few noses out of joint in her push to advance her legislation. Some of the words used to describe Ms. Gillibrand in the Times’ article are: unfaltering, relentless, ubiquitous, unwilling to knuckle under.When Ms. Gillibrand describes her view of her mission in the Senate she states, “I see myself as a voice for the voiceless.” And in speaking of her tireless promotion of sexual assault legislation she explains, “When I hear these stories, they outrage me.”
I am heartened by a Senator who can feel outrage. And if that Senator is relentless, ubiquitous and unfaltering in her efforts to address the wrong that has outraged her, well then, I am absolutely uplifted.
Kudos to Senator Gillibrand and to the commitment she brings to her work
Kudos to Montserrat Garibay
The immigrant, in any land, at any time, has a hard road to travel. The proverbial outsider, an immigrant has to invest years and effort in trying to gain acceptance. Montserrat Garibay knows all too well the challenging path an immigrant has to follow. She moved from Mexico to the U.S as a child, undocumented. As she reached adulthood, she went back to Mexico and pursued a more secure status in the U.S. Today she is a citizen, with a clear memory of what it was like to live a life in fear of discovery, to live a life without the papers that bestow legal residency. Ms. Garibay has taken her memory and used it to help others. She holds conferences in which the intricacies of navigating the immigration system are explored. She gives those who live in the shadows, and in fear, an opportunity to ask questions and to learn how they might help themselves and, by extension, their children.Kudos to Montserrat Garibay for taking concrete measures to improve the lives of others. Kudos to Ms. Garibay for remembering her own history and for using that memory as an inspiration to help others.
Kudos to Chimps in Retirement
President Obama signed a bill yesterday that increased funds available to care for retired chimps. These animal never volunteered for their “jobs” in research labs. They never asked to be subjects in scientific experiments. The chimps have served. They have earned the right to enjoy peace and comfort in their final years. Kudos to the chimps and kudos to the bill that allows them to be afforded this comfort.11/24/2013
Kudos to Dr. Thomas Rees
In 1956 Dr. Thomas Rees took a trip to Africa to see some animals. What he didn’t plan on seeing was a man who was trying to prevent his intestines from falling out by holding his hand to his abdomen. Dr. Rees operated on the man, without antibiotics or anesthesia. The choice was to do that or let the man die. Having made this hard decision, Dr. Rees made another, which seemed for him to be much easier. He decided to begin an organization, with the help of some associates, that would fly doctors into Eastern Africa to bring medical care to those who had none.Dr. Rees spent one month every year after in Africa. He brought comfort and health to people who had no other way to receive these services.
Dr. Rees died this week. He was 86 years old. Kudos to this compassionate man and to the work he accomplished on earth
Kudos to the Vera Institute
to the Vera Institute for helping the New York City Public Housing Authority design a program that will enable former prisoners to rejoin their families. Previously, released prisoners were generally prohibited from living with their families if those families resided in public housing. In the new program, former prisoners, in certain cases, may return home as long as they seek employment and are counseled about issues such as substance abuse. This approach toward prisoner reentry is more enlightened, and compassionate, than condemning individuals to homelessness or shelter living.
Kudos to the Vera Institute for giving redemption, and families, a chance.
Kudos to the haratins of Mauritania
Slavery has likely been part of social hierarchies since the first human tribes were organized. So the practice of slavery in Mauritania is not unique in history; it is, though, becoming anachronistic. And for this welcome development the world owes a debt to former slaves, the haratins in Mauritania, who risk punishment for protesting the lots of those still bound by slavery. Kudos to that. Kudos to the haratins for fighting, for not just walking away when doing that would surely be the easier course. Kudos to the courage of these people. And Kudos to their effort, which can only succeed—because the alternative is not acceptable. 11/9/2013
Kudos to Hawaii for recognizing that it is not the government’s business to decide who can love and how they love
Hawaii is poised to join several other states in extending to its homosexual residents the same right to marriage enjoyed
by its heterosexual residents. Kudos to Hawaii for understanding that as long as two adults have decided, voluntarily, to be in a committed relationship, the government has no moral right to withhold legitimacy from their union.11/6/2013
Kudos to the voters of New Jersey
Yesterday the voters of New Jersey voted to give low-wage employees a better shot at a living wage. 61% of state voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that would raise the current minimum to $8.25 an hour and would mandate a yearly increase of $1.00 per hour. The programmed increases are designed to help the lowest-paid New Jersey residents to have incomes that reflect the effects of inflation. Kudos to the voters of New Jersey who showed a measure of compassion to their fellow residents.
Kudos to Airbus for giving an inch
In an age when air travel has become more endurance test than pleasure, Airbus tries to insert a little comfort into the flying experience. With the modest suggestion that seat width be increased to a minimum of 18, rather than the current 17 inches, Airbus has caused a stir. Kudos to that. Even those of us who can easily accommodate a 17 inch space feel oppressed when asked to do so. So Kudos to Airbus for recognizing that most of us do fly by the seat of our pants and we need a little room to do that.10/31/2013
Kudos to Joachin Phoenix for narrating Earthlings
The award-winning feature length film about animal mistreatment across industries, Earthlings is narrated by actor Joachin Phoenix. The actor states that of all the films he has ever participated in, this one has provoked the most interest. Due to be shown, free, on November 1, 2013 at http://earthlings.com/
Kudos to Joachin Phoenix and to the makers of Earthling for their animal advocacy.
Kudos to the Obama Administration for refusing to fund international coal-fired plants
Although the gesture is more symbolic than effective, at least the Obama Administration is moving toward a greener environmental policy. By refusing to fund international coal-fired plants, the U.S. is joining other nations that have pledged to work against climate change. There are people who would say, too little too late. But kudostothat is about praise and I do believe in encouraging positive goals. So, kudos to the greener hue that has been cast upon Obama’s international energy policy. Baby steps in the right direction are better than no steps at all.
Kudos to the anonymous stranger who saved Phineas.
There was an accusation, since disproved, of a vicious dog attack. Phineas the dog was named, tried, and sentenced to death. 180,000 Facebook likes later, and the anonymous stranger with the fake mustache appears. He takes Phineas to safety–away from the executioner’s justice. He claims for Phineas a precious bit of time that allows a judge to revoke the death sentence. Phineas is returned to his family and everyone lives –sometimes fairy tales do happen. Maybe the godmother turns out to be a man with a fake mustache, but the magic works all the same.
Kudos to the anonymous stranger with the fake mustache who kept Phineas the dog safe until he could be reunited with his family.
Kudos to Ntozake Shange Most people begin life with the expectation of good health. As years go by and the wheel of fate works its will, this expectation is often disappointed. Such is the case with Ntozake Shange, a New York poet whose use of the vernacular brought her celebrity in her youth. Ms. Shange is 65 now; the capricious wheel of fate has stolen from her much of the physical vigor she once enjoyed. Today, beset by a neurological disorder and struggling with the consequences of several strokes, Ms. Shange still endeavors to express her art. Kudos to Ntozake Shange for showing courage in the face of adversity. Kudos to Ntozake Shange for persevering when submitting would appear to be the easier course. And Kudos to Ms. Shange’s distinct voice, one that may be altered by physical circumstances, but which will nonetheless display the quality of artistry which is this poet’s unique gift to all of us.
Kudos to an eight-state coalition that will advance electric car use.
New York, California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Oregon, Connecticut and Maryland have formed a multistate coalition that will increase accessibility to electric car charging stations. The goal is to make ownership of electric cars more feasible. With the successful implementation of this joint effort, it is hoped that more states will be inspired to follow suit.
Kudos to the enlightened officials who have taken a bold step forward into a cleaner and more sustainable future.
Kudos to James Davis .
Every now and then I read a story that makes me smile. That’s what happened this morning when I read about Mr. James Davis, who was featured on the front page of the New York Times. There’s not a lot on that front page, most days, that can lighten the heart, but Mr. Davis’ devotion to his deceased wife did just that for me. It seems Mrs. Davis asked her husband, before she died, to promise that she would be buried in the front yard. As Mr. Davis explains it, theirs was a lifelong love affair and his wife’s wishes became a mission. The town council tried to stop him from carrying out his wife’s will; the courts backed up the council’s decision. Despite this bureaucratic interference, Mrs. Davis rests today in a front yard plot. Her grave is located very near the porch; it is decorated with floral displays and other tokens of her husband’s affection.
Kudos to Mr. Davis. Kudos to love that lasts a lifetime, and even after.
Kudos to Baba Lawal Ja’faar .
Sometimes, when I look for a bright spot in the day’s news, I find it shining obstinately, with shadows all around. This is the case with Mr. Ja’faar, who stands conspicuously in opposition to those who would destroy the fabric of his community. Mr. Ja’faar lives in Maiduguri, Nigeria– a community until recently beset by fear. Boko Haram, an organization with roots in the community, used to sweep through the streets with mayhem as the agenda. Mr. Ja’faar fought back. He enlisted others to identify members of Boko Haram. A bounty was put on the heads of those identified. Because of Mr. Ja’faar’s efforts, the community is now coming out of the shadows. I admire Mr. Ja’faar for his courage and for his ability to inspire others to join in his mission.
Kudos to Baba Lawal Ja’faar for defending his community with extraordinary courage.
Kudos to Craig Steven Wilder who wrote Ebony and Ivy
Ebony and Ivy is the result of a decade of painstaking research by MIT history professor, Craig Steven Wilder. The fact that slavery is woven into the history of the U.S. is undeniable; what is not well-documented is the role slavery played in the accummulation of wealth enjoyed by some of the nation’s oldest and most respected educational institutions. Dr. Wilder outlines the involvement of these institutions in the slave trade. In order to understand and address the issues of the 21st century, it’s important to know the origin of these issues. Culture is an aggregate of everything that exists and has come before in a society. Slavery and its aftermath were formative elements in the nation’s sense of itself. Dr. Wilder does the country a service by shining light on this essential aspect of U.S. history.
Kudos to Dr. Craig Steven Wilder.
Kudos to Solana and to the California Public Utilities Commission
Solana is an Arizona utilities company that uses molten salt to store solar energy. And the California Public Utilities Commission has committed California’s utility providers to installing solar storage facilities by 2024. People may argue about the time frame for when fossil fuels will be exhausted; but it is certain that one day they will no longer be available. And people may argue about the burden on the environment imposed by use of fossil fuels; what is not in question is that there is a burden. So Kudos to Solana and California for having a vision for the future and the will to see that vision realized.
Kudos to Tim Walsh and Monarch Watch
The Monarch Butterfly has a migratory pattern that rivals the behavior of birds. The Monarch is valued as an important pollinator and a conspicuous indicator of environmental depredation. As the Monarchs make their remarkable journey from Canada to Mexico, they travel different corridors, utilizing specific varieties of plant life along the way. Influences, such as genetically modified plants and pesticides, have depressed Monarch populations. Monarch Watch exists to document the flux of this population; Tim Walsh is one link in a chain of human observers who make this documentation possible. Mr. Walsh explains the satisfaction he derives from his work: “I used to be an avid fisherman,” he explains, “but I get much more satisfaction out of this work.”
Kudos to Mr. Walsh for this change of heart.
Kudos to Patricia Ann Kettles , Manager of the Port Richmond Library, Staten Island, New York.
What a wonderful thing it is too look for something bright to liven the Kudos page and to come across this inspiring woman’s story. Patricia Ann Kettles helps children to see the possibilities in a book. Ms. Kettles comes by her inspiring ways through a bit of personal hardship; reading was not a skill she acquired easily. As she has explained to many challenged child, she herself did not mange to complete a book until she was ten years old. By that time, most of her teachers had given up hope that she ever would. Then she met the one teacher who did not give up and with his encouragement, she mastered this critical skill.
Kudos to Patricia Kettle, for sharing her story and her gift so that others may learn. And Kudos to that 4th grade teacher, Mr. John Bilotti, who built a bridge for her to literacy.
Kudos to the staff at the Bronx Zoo and to Mt. Sinai surgeons for treating Holli, an ailing Gorilla who needed a physician’s skill and plenty of TLC.
When Holli, a 180 lb gorilla at the Bronx Zoo, lost weight and became lethargic, the veterinary staff examined her. They found an abdominal abscess–but it turns out that veterinarians do not have a lot of experience operating on great apes. And so surgeons from NY’s Mt. Sinai Hospital were called in. The Mt. Sinai surgeons donated their time and their skill. As one of them explained, “Once we got inside, it was all the same.” Apes, it turns out, are anatomically a lot more like humans than they are like dogs or cats. Holli was not a cooperative patient during convalescence, but she did recover. Today she is healthy and living once again among her gorilla troop at the Zoo.
Kudos to the Mt. Sinai surgeons.
Kudos to Seatac, Washington for having a referendum that would raise the minimum wage to the highest in the nation.
In November of this year, citizens of Seatac, Washington will get the chance to vote on raising the local minimum wage to
$15 an hour. Home to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Seatac currently is bound by the Washington State minimum wage of $9.19. Proposition 1, if it passes, will apply only to large companies and thus will benefit employees of the airport and the many hotels that surround the airport.
Kudos to the people of Seatac for trying to give their citizens a living wage.
Kudos to Leona Lewis and Owain Yeoman for joining the Humane Society’s cruelty-free campaign.
Celebrity is not always a gift to those on whom it is bestowed, but some who receive the gift put celebrity to good use. Such was the case with Leona Lewis and Owain Yeoman, who decided on September 28, 2013–International Rabbit Day–to lend their support to the Humane Society’s cruelty-free campaign. Ms. Lewis and Mr. Yeoman posed with bunnies so their images could be used on posters that will promote a cruelty-free agenda. Kudos to those who protect innocent bunnies. I add my modest voice to theirs. Stop animal testing.
Kudos to the Bronx Defenders
How many ways are there to applaud an organization that exerts such a positive influence on a community? Started in 1967 by a group of individuals who wanted to give truth to the principle of equal justice, the Bronx Defenders offers hope to those who become enmeshed in the criminal justice system. Although many people who are arrested may never be convicted, mere contact with the criminal justice system can have a devastating impact. The Bronx Defenders works to secure freedom for clients, and to address issues in the clients’ lives that may lead to other difficulties.
Kudos to this group of dedicated individuals.
Kudos to Leo Grillo and Delta Rescue
This may not be news to a lot of people, but it was to me when I heard about the Delta Rescue Shelter run by Leo Grillo in Los Angeles. Grillo has been running this refuge for abandoned animals for thirty years and he doesn’t discriminate by species. The only requirement for entry into this shelter is need. Once adopted by Grillo, the animals have a home for life. I heard this story just before I was about the turn in for the night. The day had not been rich with good news but this one item was rich enough to make up for all the rest.
Kudos to Kumi Naido .
Some days I scour the newspaper–three of them land on my doorstep each morning–and look for a glimmer of cheer I might include on my Kudos blog. This is not an easy challenge; today I wax creative in reporting good news. I applaud a selfless gesture, though the events surrounding the act may not be of the kind that uplift the spirit. Kumi Naido, the head of Greenpeace International, has offered to exchange his own freedom for that of 30 people who have been detained by Russian authorities since September 20, 2013. The “Arctic 30” were 28 activists and 2 journalists who had boarded a Gazprom oil platform in a protest of the company’s Arctic drilling. Kudos to Greenpeace for trying to protect planet earth. And Kudos to Mr. Naidoo for having the courage to stand up and put his own freedom on the line.
Kudos to Christi Smith for rescuing TaterTotUnrecognized Guid format., a pit bull who was about to be euthanized at a local shelter. And Kudos to TaterTot for recognizing that young Payton Anderson, Ms. Smith’s son, was going into a hypoglycemic crisis. TaterTot alerted the family to the problem and the child was taken to the emergency room for treatment. Sometimes a good deed is its own reward–and sometimes the reward is more tangible. I’m glad that was the case here.
Kudos to the the Navajo Nation for banning horse slaughter on its lands. Kudos to former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for helping to negotiate this humane decision with Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly. As Mr. Shelly explains, horses are sacred to the Navajo people; this decision honors Navajo tradition just as it respects the inherent right to life of feral horses.
Kudos to Arline L. Bronzaft , an environmental psychologist who has expended a lot of energy trying to make New York City a quieter place to live. Ms. Bronzaft describes improving reading scores in one school by reducing noise from passing subway cars. She describes counseling a musician who has trouble accommodating the decibel tolerance of his neighbors. So, Kudos to Arline Bronzaft for helping to make New York a healthier, more peaceful place to live.
Kudos to Girls Court
The term ‘juvenile justice’ is something of an oxymoron. It reflects society’s attempt to wrest from the immature some measure of retribution. But immature brains do not function in the same way that mature brains do. Adolescents are still formative; what happens to them in the critical teen years affects who they will be for the rest of their lives. And that affects all of us. Tossing someone into a penal institution because they have run afoul of the law may feel like justice, but it’s really just punishment. And from this kind of punishment there is rarely a good outcome. Girls Court acknowledges the reality of adolescence. Instead of tossing young people it strives to mold them. It gives them alternatives to incarceration that include peer counseling and professional guidance.Kudos to Girls Court for attempting to promote the development of healthy, productive citizens.
Kudos to the Annenberg Foundation for returning Hopi spirits homeProvenance is a term much used in art circles. Tracing the history of an article is an important part of its value. That is, unless the story told goes back too far, unless it goes back to a time when plunder was considered legitimate.The Hopi people have a history in the Americas that stretches back at least a thousand years. When the Conquistadors arrived in what is today southwest USA, the Hopi had a long-established culture. When Euopean settlers moved West centuries later, they found the Hopi and appropriated Hopi lands. These intruders plundered the cultural heritage of the Hopi. Much of the plunder was lost over the years, but some remains.Last week, in Paris, an auction was held in which Hopi religious artifacts were sold. These religious items, though clearly of Hopi provenance, were handled as private merchandise by people who had somehow come to possess them. The Hopi tried to claim these pieces of sacred heritage, but non-Hopi courts denied them this right. It seemed to observers that Hopi spirits would not rest with their descendants. But then the Annenberg Foundation stepped in and quietly bid on the Hopi items. Nearly all were secured. The final barrier to their homecoming was transportation. When this issue is resolved, precious pieces of tribal legacy will be returned to the Hopi people. Kudos to the Annenberg Foundation. Kudos to the Foundation for demonstrating decency and for recognizing that though an historic wrong could not be righted, it did not have to be perpetuated. 11/21/2013
Kudos to all those who have worked for release of the Arctic 30
As of this writing, Russia has released on bail 20 of the 30 people arrested in a Greenpeace protest. Greenpeace sympathizers from around the world–along with others concerned about the harsh treatment the activists suffered— have been working for the release of these prisoners since their arrest in September.
That the prisoners would be granted bail was never a certainty. And their fate, as the case works its way through the Russian courts, is still not secure. But the world did come together and millions of people work today for the freedom of the Arctic 30. To this I say Kudos, and keep it up. Kudos to those who work for the freedom of the Arctic 30.
Kudos to the Court of Appeals for the Second District Court in New York
Last month I was discouraged when the Court of Appeals removed Judge Scheindlin from New York’s stop and frisk case. But today the court redeemed itself by refusing to reverse the Judge’s stop and frisk ban. Stop and frisk has been a blunt crime fighting instrument and as such has been racially divisive. Kudos to the ban on stop and frisk. And Kudos to the Appeals Court of the Second District for allowing Judge Scheindlin’s righteous decision to stand.