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  • WELCOME

This nonprofit honors compassionate risk-takers, people who are largely unknown, people who have the courage to stick their necks out for the common good, in the US and around the world.

We offer you here a free database of those real heroes ~ A way to nominate a hero you've spotted ~ Materials for classrooms from kindergarten through high school ~ Speakers for events ~ Coaching tips to help you move into action yourself on problems that concern you ~ News of Giraffe Heroes around the world ~ Stories of courageous compassion that little kids can listen to ~ Annnd some cool "giraffenalia"—T shirts, mugs, and such.

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If you need to know more, check out Giraffe info.

Recent Facebook Highlights

STOPPING A PREDATOR #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes We all know how difficult it is for whistle blowers to challenge their employers on a matter of business ethics. But think of how difficult it is for whistle blowers to challenge their employers on a matter of morality, especially when the employer is a respected minister. That’s what confronted Mary Trainor. She was hired to be the assistant minister in two Massachusetts churches and to provide “pastoral care” to the congregants. Right from the start, Trainor saw there were problems. The 57-year-old senior minister, an admired member of the community, made inappropriate sexual advances toward her; Trainor, a former therapist at a religious retreat, sensed warning signs, and she quietly began collecting more information. At a visit to the minister’s house, she saw him interacting oddly—including more than a hint of sexuality—with the two high school girls who lived in the house; they were refugees from Tibetan camps whom he had “rescued." Trainor then talked with other people from the church; they, too, had misgivings that they couldn’t quite articulate. But Trainor could articulate her misgivings: “I know a sick minister when I see one.” Finally, she confronted him and offered to help him seek treatment; he denied doing anything wrong. In fact, he lectured Trainor about women who complain too much: “He told me it would be a dangerous world if women started to press charges on every attempted rape. He also said that if it weren’t for therapists teaching women how to behave, they’d accept rape as a normal part of life and get on with it.” Trainor urged church officials to investigate, but all the way up the chain of command she was told to ignore the minister’s behavior; furthermore, said the officials, if she didn’t ignore it, her job would be in jeopardy. Trainor didn’t ignore anything—there was a predator at-large and he had to be stopped. With help from a few leaders of the congregation, she continued her own informal investigation. That year, the minister went on another trip out of the US. While he was away, the two Tibetan girls and their older cousin—who had been in his home several years earlier—went to the police and accused him of rape. The police removed the girls from the minister’s home and arrested him when he landed at the Boston airport. He was indicted on 23 counts of rape and on other charges. Far from contrite, he fought back, denying the charges, even claiming that one of the girls was his wife. Out on bail and with Trainor present, he preached a sermon to the children of the congregation entitled, “The Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs.” He told his young audience that the wolf had to eat the pigs because that was the wolf’s nature. Trainor was being harassed. Her car’s tires were slashed several times, once on the day before she was due in court to testify. She received calls at 3:00 in the morning with only silence on the other end. She was removed from her church duties and forbidden to talk to the congregation. She was slandered in the press. The congregation was split. Some of the church-goers said that what happened behind closed doors was the minister’s business, rape or not. One said that having sex with the minister was akin to the girls’ paying for room and board. The minister was convicted on six charges, including rape. He was sentenced to 2-4 years in prison. Trainor and her main allies left the congregation. She had succeeded in stopping a predator. Update: Reverend Trainor is now pastor to another Episcopal congregation.

SAVING MARINES' LIVES & YOUR TAX DOLLARS~FRANZ GAYLE #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes From 2003 to early 2008 more than 60 percent of U.S. troop deaths in Iraq were caused by homemade roadside bombs. Field commanders’ reports made it clear that military transport vehicles were insufficiently fortified; they were urgently requesting tougher vehicles. Franz Gayle heard them loud and clear. He pressed within the Pentagon to get the vehicles replaced. He got nowhere going through the proper channels, while every day Marines and soldiers were dying and being maimed in the faulty transports. Gayle blew the whistle. It wasn’t an easy thing for him to do. He had enlisted in the Marines the day after his 17th birthday. After retiring as a major, he was hired as a science advisor to the Marines at the Pentagon. Gayl saw himself as Marine Corps to the core. In his Pentagon job he came upon reports on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs). MRAPs were proven to be ten times more effective in protecting troops from mines and homemade bombs than were armored Humvees, the protective vehicle in service at the time. In fact, the Humvee design had proved to be a death trap in the field. Gayl wrote a strongly worded report to that effect, backing up the reports from field commanders. Nothing happened. On a trip to Iraq, Gayle was at Camp Fallujah, some 14 months after his first report, witnessing firsthand what happened to troops in the Humvees. “I’d see the helicopters coming in daily with these busted-up blown-up kids being flown in to the field hospital,” he said. He sent report after report on the need for MRAPs; he developed proposals and researched contractors who could fulfill them. Still nothing was done by his Marine supervisors. When he asked if he could present his concerns to the Defense Department. His request was not only turned down by the Marine brass, he was warned to delete all drafts of his proposed report. It looked like a dead end, but Gayl is a fighter in more ways than one. He conducted an MRAP study, identifying a number of specific ways the Marines weren’t responding to urgent requests from commanders in Iraq to provide blast-resistant vehicles. Then Gayl went public with his unclassified study, testifying before Congress and appearing on PBS’s NewsHour. The Marine Corps described Gayl’s study as personal opinion, at odds with the facts. A later audit by the Pentagon inspector affirmed Gayl’s conclusions, but that didn’t stop the Marines from vilifying their critic. Before his whistle-blowing, Gayle had a sterling job record; immediately after, he was ranked in the bottom 3 percent in job performance, was given a letter of reprimand, had his job description pared down, had his security clearance revoked, and was pressured to resign. Gayl says that his professional life became “a nightmare.” Even as Marine Corps brass was retaliating against him, the MRAPs were indeed being shipped to the troops. Shortly before Gayle left the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense said publicly that sending MRAPs to Iraq saved “thousands of lives.” With steady support from the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Gayl pressed for reinstatement. When a review board overturned the Marine Corps’ stripping of his security clearance, he was able to return to his job. Franz Gayl looked back at the ordeal and said, “I am as committed as ever to return to the Marine Corps to work hard in support of all Marines.”

TEACHING WHAT SHE'S LEARNED #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes Despite the conventional wisdom on learning disabilities, Canadian Barbara Arrowsmith-Young insists that they can be overcome and exposes her own history to make the case for the methods she’s used to help hundreds of others join her in being able to say, “I used to be learning-disabled.” Learning disabilities plagued Arrowsmith-Young's childhood. As an eighth- grader, she was unable to tell time or to differentiate left from right; in fact, she could read only from right to left. Conversations made little sense to her. Thinking she was crazy, she considered suicide. Blessed with the determined support of her father, she instead called on her own reserves and excellent memory to get through high school. In college, she coped by studying 16 hours a day, memorizing pages and pages of text, and sleeping only four hours a night. When a professor handed her a book about a brain-injured man, she read it again and again, finally connecting the information in the book to new brain research on neuroplasticity. Based on her findings, she began creating her own program of exercises to strengthen the weak areas of her brain. After much trial and error, she discovered the right combinations to correct her own brain dysfunctions. Those exercises led to her identification of 19 separate and specific brain dysfunctions and the exercises that would repair them. She invested all her money and energy into opening a school, above a furniture store in Toronto. There she teaches people how to retrain their brains as she did. After years of effort, the Arrowsmith Program has been accepted by six public schools in Toronto and is offered at seven elementary schools in the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Barbara Arrowsmith-Young has overcome the shyness that could have kept her from challenging the conventional wisdom on brain dysfunctions and bringing her discoveries to others like herself. Hundreds of people who would have been trapped in the confusion and distress of learning disabilities if it were not for her are grateful for her courage and persistence.

Two news reports on Giraffe Heroes: Sir Nicholas Winton, honored as a Giraffe when he was 103 for a daring rescue mission he did in 1938, has died at 106. Sir Fazle Abded, commended in 1986--long before he was a "Sir"--for founding the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, has been awarded the "Nobel Prize for Agriculture"--the World Food Prize. #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes If you like such people, Like this page. We want to keep telling you their stories.

THE EARTH IS WORTH THE RISK #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes In her more than 20 years with the National Forest Service, Gloria Flora stood up for the environment again and again. Whether it was shutting down future oil and gas exploration in the Rocky Mountain Front or protecting threatened trout in Nevada, Flora, at age 44, was a veteran defender of public lands and resources. That's when she quit. In a very public resignation from her job as supervisor of Nevada's Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Flora sounded an alarm about the harassment of her staff by local anti-government citizens’ groups and the lack of backup they were getting from the Service. She also accused Nevada’s judicial system of being lax in prosecuting violators of environmental laws. Flora’s blast came as the Foresters and conservation advocates were con-fronted by anti-regulation Nevadans over the Service’s refusal to rebuild a washed-out road into a wilderness area that was home to a threatened species of trout. Local politicians and a group calling themselves the Sagebrush Rebels organized protest marches and staged public meetings at which Flora witnessed public insults and threats against herself and her staff. The “Rebels” dispatched a bulldozer to the washout site to reopen the road themselves. In local newspapers, Forest Service staffers were called “Nazis” and calls were made to harm them. They and their families were shunned throughout the community. Flora’s protests to the Forest Service and to local law enforcement had produced no assistance for the embattled Foresters so she took the ultimate step to protect the nation’s resources for future generations—she wrote that letter of protest and resignation. Forest Chief Mike Dombeck supported her claims and later resigned himself over the directions being imposed on the Service. Since her resignation, Flora has founded the nonprofit Sustainable Obtainable Solutions (SOS), to promote sustainability on public lands. A frequent speaker on environmental issues, she reports that her host audiences are usually supportive, but she is sometimes harassed and threatened by "Fed-bashers" and has on occasion needed a police escort. Does she regret taking on the anti-conservation forces? “There are risks that are external and some that are internal,” says Gloria Flora. “The worst thing would be looking back on your life and thinking, ‘That was important—I should have taken a stand.’”

GIVING CARE ON TWO CONTINENTS #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes Ekene Amaefule left her Nigerian home to earn degrees in nursing and in business administration at the University of Washington. She’s parlayed that education into a good job at Seattle’s Harborview Hospital and used that good job to create changes in her village back in Nigeria. Her nonprofit, Caring Hearts International, has drilled the first well in the village, and Amaefule is heading toward building a village clinic and a school. Until the kids can go to that new school, she’s sponsoring 25 of them to attend school in a nearby town, paying for their uniforms and their supplies. She’s been named Nurse of the Year at Harborview for the quality of her work there, received a humanitarian award from Washington State for the free care she gives to some of Seattle’s poorest residents, and her Nigerian village has made her an honorary chief—the first time such an honor has been given to a woman. At the same time that she works a grueling hospital schedule, does volunteer nursing for the poor, and manages the Caring Hearts programs, Amaefule is raising five children, three of her own and twin boys she adopted in Nigeria. When asked how in the world she manages it all, Ekene Amaefule says, “I pray every morning and just go day by day.” UPDATE: Nurse Amaefule is now the nurse manager of the Rehabilitation Inpatient Unit at the Puget Sound Veteran Administration Medical Center.

A STUDENT FOR SCIENCE IN THE CLASSROOM #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Some people—some Giraffe Heroes—are late bloomers. Take Zack Kopplin. It took him quite a while to realize that, in his words, “I had a voice, and I had a moral responsibility to use it.” He didn’t become an activist until he was all of 17. But it’s okay; since then, he’s been making up for lost time. Zack didn't want to be in the limelight; in fact, he avoided it when it was shining on his family. His father was deputy mayor and chief administrative officer for the City of New Orleans as well as the chief of staff for two Louisiana governors. When Mr. Kopplin ran for Congress, his son was reluctant to help him: Zack didn’t want to be seen as the son of a public person. But when the younger Kopplin was a high school senior, things changed—dramatically. Louisiana had passed something called the Louisiana Science Education Act, which, many say would be more aptly called the Louisiana Anti-Science Education Act. It allows schools to teach creationism—the religious idea that the Earth, and everything on it was created by God in six days. This idea, of course, runs counter to the scientific evidence that life on earth has developed over millions of years of evolution. Scientists are close to unanimous on this point. Creationism, being religious dogma, can't be taught in public schools without violating the U.S. tradition of separating church and state. This bothered Zack Kopplin a lot and he decided to step into the glare of the public debate. Working with an expert on evolution, a sympathetic state senator, and a Nobel Laureate chemist, he launched a campaign to repeal the act. He got 78 Nobel Laureate scientists to sign a letter of support. A petition he circulated on-line garnered 70,000 signatures. And he won the endorsements of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the New Orleans City Council. Nonetheless, his effort failed—twice. Louisiana legislators were not ready to toss out creationism in favor of actual science. One of the state senators even referred to the Nobel scientists as “just people with little letters behind their names,” so you see what Kopplin was up against. But Kopplin has continued his campaign. As he admits, “It’s going to be a long, tough fight.” Recently, he went on national television and showed that over 300 schools throughout the country are teaching creationism, many of them through voucher programs. He’s been interviewed in media outlets around the world, given a TED talk, and been dubbed “the newest giant-killer in state education policy.” In an open letter to President Obama, Zack Kopplin described the scale of his vision: “We need a second giant leap for mankind.” Now a student at Houston’s Rice University, Kopplin continues his struggle to “fight science-denying legislation” and to increase funding for scientific research. Why does he do it when he could opt for the relatively enjoyable life of a college student? “I don’t think it’s a choice,” he said in an interview. “I think it’s something that has to be done. And I’m the one who’s in the right position to do it, so I’m going to do it.” —Neal Starkman

TRANSFORMING MEDICAL CARE FOR THE POOR #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut When Jeffrey Brenner MD chose to be a family practitioner rather than going into the lucrative specialties pursued by most of his fellow young doctors, he was considered odd by his peers. Deciding to then open a practice in Camden, New Jersey, made him truly strange to them; Camden is one the poorest and most crime-plagued cities in the US. Brenner had settled in, working long hours in his busy city office, when a student at Rutgers University’s Camden campus was shot while driving through Brenner’s neighborhood. Some bystanders tried to help the young man but were waved off by police. “He’s pretty much dead,” an officer told them. One of them called Brenner, who came and performed the emergency procedures that should have been done right away. It was too late, and the student died. While his death might have been inevitable, Brenner said the police couldn’t have known that. The incident became both a local scandal and the inspiration for Brenner to embark on a personal campaign. He started by trying to reform the local police. He was named to a local police reform commission and began studying the principles of effective community policing. He learned the “broken windows” theory, which says that minor, visible disorder in a neighborhood breeds major crime. Applying this theory, the police could make incident maps of minor crimes in the city and focus resources on the hot spots, warding off more serious incidents. The Camden police wouldn’t make the maps, so Brenner made his own. He got data from Camden’s three main hospitals on visits to their ERs by assault victims, transferred the files to his own computer, and spent weeks figuring out how to develop a searchable database to pinpoint the most violent hot spots. Brenner lost his crusade with the police, but he kept on digging into his database, fascinated by what he was seeing. He found, for instance, that a single building in Camden sent more people to the hospital with serious falls than any other in the city—57 in two years—resulting in almost $3 million in health care bills. He made block-by-block maps of the city, color-coded the hospital costs of residents, and looked for hot spots. He found them. One percent of the Camden’s patients were accounting for 30 percent of the city’s medical costs. He found that one patient alone had 354 hospital admissions in 5 years and had cost insurers $3.5 million. He didn’t know who the patients in the data were but he figured that if he could work with them, he might be able to help them stay out of costly hospitals. Brenner called a meeting of social workers and emergency room doctors. He showed them the cost statistics and use patterns of the most expensive patients, the top 1 percent. “These are the people I want to help you with,” he said. “Introduce me to your worst-of-the-worst patients.” They did. Brenner formed the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, setting up a medical team: himself, a nurse practitioner, a medical assistant, and a social worker. Meeting with the “worst-of-the worst” patients in their homes, the team helped these patients address some of the underlying issues in their health problems—diet, exercise, substance abuse, and problems in their immediate environs, such as mold or lack of heat. The team tracked whether the patients were taking their meds, and checked their blood-sugar and blood pressure levels regularly to avoid crises. Brenner’s team, which had grown to two-dozen health care professionals, was soon providing care for more than 300 people on his “super-utilizer” map. The cost of these patients’ medical care has been cut by 40 to 50 percent, saving the city millions of dollars and relieving the pressure on crowded ERs and hospitals. And Brenner observes that these patients are now receiving much better care. This work has been all-consuming for Brenner. He closed his private practice to focus on the Coalition full-time, even though the Coalition has never had a steady financial foundation. There isn’t enough money, say, for a clinic; the team can only do home visits and phone calls. And financial support isn’t coming from the current health care system, which—as Brenner points out—isn’t set up to pay for “disruptive change.” “If we scale this model up,” he said, “we won’t need as many hospital beds, we won’t need as many specialists, and that will be a really big problem”—a problem for the medical establishment perhaps, but not for the patients. “We’re bringing better care to the patients,” says Jeffrey Brenner. “They feel like they’re being taken care of. Someone is paying attention to them, finally.” UPDATE: Jeffrey Brenner was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2013, as in he got a "Genius Award." Well chosen, MacArthur judges, whoever you are.

BREAKING THE SILENCE ~ TAKING A STAND #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes Giraffe Hero Marcey Perry of Atlanta, Georgia, overcame her own trauma to reach out to other victims of sexual abuse with a stage presentation about her own devastating experience. In 1988, after attempting suicide, Perry got the help and protection she needed, and the abusive relative was kept away from her home. Reaching out to fellow victims, she began performing an autobiographical monologue that helped many abused youngsters get the help they needed. Perry performed throughout the southeast, as well as before the Governor of Virginia and the President of the United States. In June 1990, Perry was one of 30 young American leaders who were selected by the Giraffe Heroes Project to meet with their counterparts in the Soviet Union and share their stories. Perry's monologue stunned audiences again, only these were Russian and Ukrainian kids. After high school, Perry continued her commitment to helping others and was regarded by her peers as a “Big Sister”—someone who always had time for a friend in need. In 1993, she celebrated the production of her first play, a story about an inner city family and its struggle with drug abuse. What pushed Perry to help others? She describes a lifelong passion: "...service and advocating for people without a voice. It may be a cliché, but giving really is better than receiving—at least for the spirit.” Update: Perry was a member of the US Army Military Police for five years. Back home, she was again a leader for Atlanta's Communities in Schools program and chaired their Youth Acting for Change Conference, a two-day event addressing the problems faced by young people in inner cities. And she's expanded the program to involve Atlanta’s Private Industry Council. Her goal is no less than a better future for the city and for the young people of Atlanta. A mother and homemaker in Atlanta, Marcie Perry Morse has some thoughts about young people who find themselves in relationships that may be abusive: “I try to lead them to feel good, or better, about themselves. I believe that low self-esteem can be a gateway to all types of abusive situations. There is no easy answer, but if they don't feel worthy of better treatment, then it will be difficult for them to even hear the solutions.”

BLOWING THE WHISTLE AT THE NSA #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut In the late 1990s and early 2000s, William Binney, Ed Loomis, and J. Kirk Wiebe all worked for the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA); their expertise was in figuring out ways to identify and track terrorists via cell phones and Email. Binney, as an in-house expert, co-invented a program called ThinThread, which accomplished the NSA’s security goals and also contained built-in privacy protections so that innocent U.S. citizens wouldn’t be spied on: In this program, a judge needed to approve the decryption of data on any U.S. citizen, and could only do so if there was probable cause to believe that the person was connected with terrorism or other crimes. The NSA, however, opted for something called the Trailblazer program, designed by an outside company. There turned out to be three big problems with Trailblazer: One, it went several hundred million dollars over its multi-billion-dollar budget. Two, it was rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. And three, well, it didn’t work. How badly didn’t it work? The four NSA security experts think Trailblazer failed to prevent 9/11. Here’s how it went down: 2001: Right after 9/11, one of the executives who runs Trailblazer speculates with contractors about the money that will soon be coming in: “We can milk this thing all the way to 2015,” he says. “There’s plenty to go around.” Binney, Loomis, and Wiebe leave the NSA. “I couldn’t take the corruption anymore,” says Binney. The three form their own security consulting company but are blackballed by the NSA. “We’ve been denied untold hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential income as a result,” says Wiebe. 2002: Binney, Loomis, and Wiebe—with anonymous help from Thomas Drake, who was still a staffer at the NSA—file a report with the Department of Defense detailing problems with NSA in general and Trailblazer in particular. They ask the Pentagon to investigate. 2003: The NSA Inspector General declares Trailblazer an expensive failure. 2004: The Department of Defense Inspector General declares Trailblazer an expensive failure. 2005: Drake E-mails a reporter at the Baltimore Sun with non-classified information about NSA’s problems. The reporter receives an award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on the subject. Things don’t go as well for Drake, however. 2007: Dozens of FBI agents raid the homes of Binney, Drake, Loomis, and Wiebe. They point guns at Binney—as he was stepping out of his shower—and at his wife and young son. They search the four houses for hours, and at each of them, agents confiscate computers, documents, and books. The men’s patriotism is questioned. Loomis: “It tore me up. I became a recluse, pretty much. I cut off virtually all social contact with friends. And that went on for all too long. I didn't even tell my family members. Didn't tell my kids. I didn't tell my father. It was rough, very rough.” 2010: Drake is indicted by a grand jury for “willful retention of National Defense information,” obstructing justice, and making a false statement, along with other allegations. Binney and Wiebe receive letters of immunity from the Department of Justice. 2011: The government drops all charges against Drake; he pleads guilty to the misdemeanor of misusing the NSA’s computer system and is sentenced to a year of probation and community service; he has lost his job and his pension. The judge says that it’s “unconscionable” to charge a defendant with crimes that might have resulted in 35 years of prison time and then drop all those charges right before the trial. Drake: “My life has been changed. It’s been turned inside out, upside down.” Meanwhile, the Office of the Inspector General concludes that the NSA “disregarded solutions to urgent national security needs.” 2012: Judges approve 1,856 NSA applications to spy; they deny 0. 2014: Binney, Drake, Loomis, and Wiebe, now calling themselves the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, send President Obama a memorandum. Among the highlights: “We all share an acute sense of regret for NSA’s demonstrable culpability for what happened on 9/11.” “Why do we still care? Because we have consciences; because the oath we took has no expiration date; because we know—as few others do—how critically important it is for our country to have a well functioning, Constitution-abiding National Security Agency; and because we know how that ship can be steered back on course at that important place of work by improving its ability to find terrorists and other criminals in massive amounts of data, while protecting the right to privacy and citizen sovereignty.” “It is not difficult to connect NSA’s collect-everything approach with one principal finding of the Review Group you appointed to look into NSA programs; namely, that exactly zero terrorist plots have been prevented by NSA’s bulk trawling for telephone call records. . . . Surely you intuit that something is askew when NSA Director Keith Alexander testifies to Congress that NSA’s bulk collection has ‘thwarted’ 54 terrorist plots and later, under questioning, is forced to reduce that number to 1, which cannot itself withstand close scrutiny.” “After 9/11 we came to realize that the abuses occurring during the years before 2001 had gravely damaged NSA’s capability to thwart attacks like 9/11.” And, about 9/11 itself, this from Drake: “I found the pre- and post-9/11 intelligence from NSA monitoring of some of the hijackers as they planned the attacks of 9/11 had not been shared outside NSA. This includes critical pre-9/11 intelligence on al-Qaeda, even though it had been worked on by NSA analysts. . . . Make no mistake. That data and the analytic report could have, should have prevented 9/11. . . . When confronted with the prospect of fessing up, NSA chose instead to obstruct the 9/11 congressional investigation, play dumb, and keep the truth buried. . . . NSA had already collected highly significant intelligence on the hijackers themselves but did not disseminate it outside of NSA before the attacks.” The “bottom line” of the memo: “By withholding information and exploiting secrecy, NSA’s leaders past and present have pulled off an unparalleled coup in concealing the sad reality that NSA could have prevented 9/11 and didn’t. . . . We are in a position to know that collecting everything makes very little sense from a technical point of view. And, as citizens, we are offended by the callous disregard of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution we all swore a solemn oath to support and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Binney estimates that since 9/11, the NSA has intercepted between 15 and 20 trillion calls and Emails. And the future? Wiebe predicts: “We are going to find out what kind of country we are, what we have become, what we want to be.”

The outrageous treatment of one of the nation’s most outstanding teachers

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Rafe Esquith has been barred from teaching as part of an investigation that began with him telling a joke.

Rafe Esquith, a teacher so extraordinary and so dedicated that he's won hundreds of honors, including a Giraffe Commendation, is being shot down by his district's administrators. We read this and can barely believe it's happening. May the LA Unified School District get smart and let this guy get back to his classroom!

Recent Giraffe Heroes

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This is Sister Megan Rice, a nun for most of her 80+ years and a peace activist since the 1980s. She had been arrested more than three dozen times and had done time twice when she and two other peace activists performed what was called the most serious security breach in the history of US...

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Andy Hall, a Brit, works for Finnwatch, a world-wide nonprofit that spots human abuses around the world and works to stop them. When Hall called out Thailand's National Fruit Company for the way it treats its workers, he asked to work...

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This is Catherine Hamlin MD, who left her home in Australia in 1959 to provide gynecological care to poor women in Ethiopia. At 90, she's still doing that, focusing on one of the most distressing medical/social issues imaginable: obstetric fistulas.

This is an injury that women can...

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This is Hanna Hopko. She braved snipers' bullets in Kiev during a citizens' uprising that brought down a corrupt government there. Now she's leading a rapidly growing citizens' movement that's doing more than rising up and demanding...

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Imagine you're 11 years old and your body is twisting from scoliosis, causing you constant physical pain and making you look very different from other kids. You're scheduled for surgery to straighten your spine and your mom takes a "before" picture so you'll have a history of how you once...

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Bob Bajek, a reporter on a small-town newspaper in Illinois, came up with a Big Story: the town's recreational lake, where residents fished, swam, and boated, was highly toxic--a now defunct military base had dumped Agent Orange in the water....

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There were no protections for whistle-blowers in South Africa when businesswoman Wendy Addison reported her own corporate bosses for breaking the law. She was fired, got death threats, and was blacklisted, even in England, where she took her...

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This is veteran environmental activist, Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez. He's 12. And he's been working to save his beloved Colorado for half of his life. It started when he saw that the forest near his home was changing. Trees were dying, plants...

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Allan Adam is Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan nation, whose lands lie within Alberta, Canada. These First Nation people have formal treaty rights that protect their lands from being taken or used by outsiders, but that treaty has been...

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Sangduen Chailert, known as "Lek," puts in 18-hour days caring for sick and injured elephants in a protected reserve she co-founded, the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand.

The dwindling elephant population is a world-wide...

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