I am pinch hitting for Good News Roundup, who is traveling this week. I feel like a AAA player called up to stand in for David Justice. That won’t stop me from taking my swings.
2022 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy
There are five recipients this year. I knew about Dolly Parton and the World Central Kitchen but the other three were new to me. Here are excerpts from the individual award citations.
Recipients of the 2022 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy
For nearly 70 years, renowned businessman and philanthropist Manu Chandaria has dedicated himself to providing essential human services to long-overlooked communities in Africa...
Established in 1955, the Chandaria Foundation supports educational, health care, and life enrichment programs that continue to benefit thousands of Kenyans — and his family would eventually set up charitable trusts in many of the African countries in which Comcraft operates. Chandaria also chaired the Street Families Rehabilitation Trust Fund, which develops rehabilitative and preventive programs for homeless children and families...
In an interview with African Philanthropy Forum, this celebrated advocate for service to society said, “The wealth that you have is not yours. You are only the trustee of the wealth you have.” Asked what he would change if he could live his life over, Chandaria responded with characteristic humility and compassion: he would have started serving others sooner.
Lyda Hill believes that science is the solution to many of our most daunting challenges — and her philanthropy has been informed by that conviction as well as by her unique life journey. As a successful businesswoman and philanthropist, she invests in catalytic, solution-oriented initiatives that have the potential to impact global issues, reflecting her vision of mixing entrepreneurial vigor with a commitment to balancing profit with purpose. And yet, while taking on issues of national import, such as food security and safety, water conservation, urban green spaces, medical research, and public health, Hill remains dedicated to empowering nonprofit organizations that are improving the places closest to her heart: local communities in Colorado and Texas…
Hill has funded numerous conservation and community revitalization projects in Colorado and Texas, including the Nature Conservancy’s Mapping Ocean Wealth project, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas, and the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center in Colorado Springs. Hill also works to cultivate a diverse generation of scientists and conservationists through the IF/THEN Initiative, which supports young girls and women who are pursuing STEM careers. In 2010, Hill signed the Giving Pledge, vowing to donate the entirety of her wealth to charity and to do so largely during her lifetime.
Dolly Parton’s life story reads like a fairy tale. She was born in Sevier County, Tennessee, where people struggled to make ends meet and earning a living often took priority over getting an education. From this impoverished but culturally rich region came the woman who would go on to achieve global success as a singer-songwriter, actress, and businesswoman — and as one of the entertainment world’s most generous philanthropists…
Parton founded the Dollywood Foundation in 1988 to inspire the children of her home county. The goal: to achieve educational success and decrease high school dropout rates. The foundation’s initial success launched what is now its flagship program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. This children’s book-gifting program began by sending every child in Sevier County a free, age-appropriate book each month in the mail until they reached the age of five…
Parton’s philanthropic work also includes donations to Vanderbilt University to fund pediatric infectious disease research and support for the development of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Dollywood Foundation, through its My People Fund, supported hundreds of families who lost their homes during the 2016 wildfires in Sevier County, and also provides scholarship funds to local high school students to help further their education at any accredited university.
Lynn Schusterman and Stacy Schusterman: Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies represents a living tradition of giving that began at the family kitchen table. In 1967, Lynn and her late husband, Charles, pledged $500 to the United Jewish Appeal to support Israel during a moment of crisis. This was a significant financial sacrifice for the couple at the time, but giving back, even when they had little to spare, was a value they shared…
Schusterman Family Philanthropies has prioritized the advancement of racial, gender, and economic equity in the U.S. through investments in K–12 education, gender and reproductive equity, democracy and voting rights, and criminal justice reform.
Over more than three decades, the Schusterman family has given more than $2 billion through their philanthropy. Among their many investments, they founded the Haruv Institute in Israel to provide training for professionals to address child abuse and neglect. They helped launch Repair the World to mobilize young Jewish adults and their communities through service and volunteerism. They have supported teacher development and the recruitment of teachers of color as part of their broader commitment to strengthening the U.S. education system. They are also major investors in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and criminal justice reform, including through their partnership with the Blue Meridian donor collaborative. The Schustermans also invest deeply in the leadership and equality of women and girls, including through their involvement in the Collaborative for Gender + Reproductive Equity, and they have worked to help preserve safe, free, and fair access to voting.
In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, award-winning Spanish-born American chef and restaurateur José Andrés founded World Central Kitchen (WCK). Cooking with others at a camp for displaced persons, Andrés, with the support of his wife, Patricia, along with business partner Rob Wilder and his wife, Robin, set out to use his gastronomic experience to provide hungry people with more than just relief during a disaster. The idea? To help spur urgent economic recovery through food…
WCK is often first to the front lines. They have served more than 150 million fresh meals around the world, helping to feed the island of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and millions during the COVID-19 pandemic. They worked with the victims of the ruinous blast in Beirut and the bushfires in Australia. And WCK continues to build the largest food relief operation in Ukraine, sending trucks, trains, passenger cars, and vans across hundreds of cities and towns. WCK’s Resilience Programs strengthen sustenance security by creating systems that train chefs and school cooks, by advancing clean cooking practices, and by focusing grantmaking on farms, fisheries, and small businesses along with promoting educational and professional opportunities.
Caltech, my alma mater, had five buildings named after eugenicists. In the summer of 2020 there were two petitions submitted to the Board of Trustees to rename these buildings and in 2021 (after the report of a committee) they voted to do so. This is the latest announcement.
The Grant D. Venerable House Dedication Celebration
Join us for an afternoon of celebration and reflection as the Caltech community marks the dedication of Grant D. Venerable House, an undergraduate student residence named in the fall of 2021 in honor of late alumnus Grant D. Venerable (BS '32). Venerable was the first Black undergraduate student to graduate from Caltech and was an active student leader and athlete during his time on campus…
The dedication is the culmination of the hard work of many Caltech students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others who came together to reflect on and deliberate about Caltech's past and to help chart a future that reflects and supports the Institute's continuing commitment to cultivate a thriving, supportive, and inclusive community of scholars.
I appreciate that they focus on Mr. Venerable and ignore the former eponym.
The March of Science
Your future home could be inflated in 15 minutes and filled with concrete
The idea: A truck delivers a rolled-up version of the future home. The structure, made of PVC, is then rolled out and inflated using conventional construction air compressors. In fact, two structures are inflated at this stage. The first, called shoring, sits on the inside to prop up the oncoming building while it is cast and supports the weight of the roof. The second is the actual inflatable house, which, technically, is only inflated long enough for concrete to be pumped in from one end while the air is sucked out from the other…
The material then cures for about two days, after which the shoring is deflated and stored away to be reused. Notably, however, the other envelope holding the now-solid concrete is not removed, acting instead as a natural barrier that is both waterproof and airtight.
This is likely only going to be useful for relatively small buildings by US standards. But it could be important in other countries. They are currently working on a 650 sq. ft. house.
Graphene Boosts Flexible and Wearable Electronics
At 200 times stronger than steel, graphene has been hailed as a super material of the future since its discovery in 2004. The ultrathin carbon material is an incredibly strong electrical and thermal conductor, making it a perfect ingredient to enhance semiconductor chips found in many electrical devices.
But while graphene-based research has been fast-tracked, the nanomaterial has hit roadblocks: in particular, manufacturers have not been able to create large, industrially relevant amounts of the material. New research from the laboratory of Nai-Chang Yeh, the Thomas W. Hogan Professor of Physics, is reinvigorating the graphene craze...
Called plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition, the method can be used to grow high-quality graphene sheets, only one atom thick, at room temperature in about 15 minutes.
Wearable electronics are made of plastic, so depositing graphene at 1000 degrees won’t work. This could solve that problem.
Fascism in decline
Since the time of Ivan the Terrible Russian rulers have been making life miserable for their own citizens and the surrounding lands. I can’t think of any other country whose government has caused so much misery for such a long period of time. One result of Putin’s war on Ukraine will be that they will have much less power to inflict harm for a long time into the future. At the link below is a long analysis of the many ways the war is damaging their future.
Russia's Mobilization Will Haunt Its Demographic and Economic Outlook
Russia's mobilization will create near-term economic strains while worsening its long-term economic outlook, adding to demographic challenges and brain drain, and leading to major workforce reductions and internal migration.
I don’t find any joy in reading about the casualties on the Russian side. But as Patton said “No dumb bastard ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won it by making some other dumb bastard die for his country."
I am not going to try to compete with Kos, Mark, and annielli in reporting the latest war news. Every day brings new reports of the disintegration of the Russian and progress of the Ukrainian militaries. Hopefully the dumb bastards on the Russian side soon get tired of dying for Putin’s ego.
How Chinese are circumventing the government's online censorship
In 2018, #MeToo, the hashtag people around the world use to discuss sexual harassment, was blocked on social media in China.
Internet users in the country formed a new hashtag to keep raising awareness. They used the characters for rice (米, pronounced “mí”) and bunny (兔, pronounced “tù”).
They even used emoji to represent the phrase — a clever and more effective way to dodge the censors.
Mandarin Chinese has only 413 syllables. It also uses different four tones. Therefore there is an enormous fog of homonyms and ambiguity that is resolved by context (I studied Mandarin for two years and can confirm this). That makes it easy to play with puns and hidden meanings.
To get the complete picture of what they are doing check the link.
Hawaii Refuses To Cooperate With States Prosecuting for Abortions
Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed an executive order Tuesday that aims to prevent other states from punishing their residents who get an abortion in the islands and stop other states from sanctioning local doctors and nurses who provide such care.
“We will not cooperate with any other state that tries to prosecute women who receive abortions in Hawaii. And we will not cooperate with any other state that tries to sanction medical professionals who provide abortions in Hawaii,” Ige, a Democrat, said at a news conference.
Other Democratic governors are taking similar measures.
Other US fascists
There was bad news for sundry assholes, insurrectionists, coup leaders, and RWNJs this past week delivered by committees, prosecutors, judges, and juries. I lost track after my bingo card was filled and am not even going to pretend to summarize it. Drop your favorite in the comments.
West Virginia Democratic Revival
WV is an old, poor rural state. It is conservative, but not like the deep South. It has a strong tradition of union activism. In 1921 coal miners took up arms to fight the coal companies, the largest labor uprising in US history. When I moved here in 1997 old New Deal Democrats still ran the state.
Manchin is about the same age and political alignment as Bill Clinton. Like Clinton he is also a gifted politician. He has worked to make the WV Democratic Party business-friendly, which has meant squashing local activists. As a result voter turnout has plummeted as ordinary working people decided there is no difference between the parties. Republicans kept voting, of course. That led to the Republicans taking complete control of the state government in 2017 when Manchin’s buddy Governor Jim Justice switched parties. Republicans now have super-majorities in both chambers of the legislature, all of the statewide constitutional offices, and all congressional seat except Manchin’s.
In the May primary the members of the Democratic Executive Committee were elected. New people took many of these seats and proceeded to select progressive leaders to replace the Manchin allies who had run the party into the ground in two decades. I am close friends with two of them.
Mike Pushkin, Chair
Mike is a Delegate in the state legislature from Charleston. His side gigs are taxi driver and musician. He is the only Jewish member of the legislature. The Working Family Party endorses him. I have met him a few times but don’t know him well. Here is a YouTube video from his first race in 2014- he hasn’t changed much since.
Danielle Walker, 1st Vice Chair
I wrote this about Dani in May 2018 after she won one the five Democratic nominations for our state house district:
Danielle Walker was a single mother of two disabled boys in New Orleans when Katrina struck. She lost everything and was relocated to Morgantown by FEMA. Now she works three jobs to support herself, her boys, and her mother. Through Habitat for Humanity she got a house, which is why one of her main issues is affordable housing. When she filed for candidacy most people thought she was crazy- how could a poor, single, black woman be competitive in West Virginia? When she starts speaking they quickly change their minds. Watch what she said about Sexual Assault Month to get a feeling of what she can do.
I vastly underestimated her. She won a seat that year, ousting an odious Republican who is as unhinged as Boebert or Greene. That was the year AOC made her astonishing leap into Congress, but I think Dani’s victory might be even more impressive.
Dani has become the face of progressive politics in the state. The Republicans started attacking her as soon as she entered the legislature. She didn’t back down and the Democrats stood up for her, especially her fellow District 51 Delegate Evan Hansen and our State Senator Mike Caputo.
The other politicians in Morgantown know that Dani has to be the last speaker at any event. Speaking after her would be like singing after Aretha Franklin.
Ryan Frankenberry, Executive Director
Ryan and I have been working together since 2017, when we helped found the West Virginia Working Families Party. I was the state chair until last year and he has been the director since the beginning. The head of the hiring committee told me then we had gotten the best political operative in West Virginia. I believe it.
Ryan started off his work with WFP by disappearing to support the West Virginia teachers’ strike. If you saw videos of the teachers demonstrating outside the WV Capitol they were recorded and edited by Ryan. If you wondered who organized the teachers to put pressure on the unions to strike, that was Ryan. If you wondered how the strikers managed to remain organized when the union bosses ordered them back to work that was Ryan helping behind the scenes.
In 2018 WFP endorsed a slate of candidates across the state. Ryan had ground operations in Morgantown, Charleston, and the northern and eastern panhandles. The state Democratic Party provided essentially no assistance to anyone not named Joe Manchin but Ryan was always available to train and advise new candidates. We managed to flip 10 mostly urban seats but at the same time the Republicans ousted several conservative Democrats in rural areas.
The Economist: Joe Biden is too timid. It is time to legalise cocaine
“It makes no sense,” said Joe Biden on October 6th, as he pardoned the 6,000 or so Americans convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana. Although cannabis is fully legal in 19 American states, at the federal level it is still deemed to be as dangerous as heroin and more so than fentanyl, two drugs that contributed to more than 100,000 Americans dying of opioid overdoses last year. But the president’s admission applies to drug policy more broadly. Prohibition is not working—and that can be seen most strikingly with cocaine, not cannabis.
The Economist is too timid. It is time to legalise all drugs. Up until the early 29th century there were no prohibition laws. Then politicians and reformers realized that prohibition is a great way to harass minorities. Alcohol prohibition enforcement focused mainly on Catholic immigrants in big cities: Irish, Germans, and Italians. Elliot Ness went after Al Capone, not the rich WASPs attending parties like the ones in The Great Gatsby. Cannabis was renamed marihuana to target Hispanics in the mountain states. Opium was rebranded as something used in Chinese opium dens.
The real answer is full legalisation, allowing non-criminals to supply a strictly regulated, highly taxed product, just as whisky- and cigarette-makers do. (Advertising it should be banned.)
Legal cocaine would be less dangerous, since legitimate producers would not adulterate it with other white powders and dosage would be clearly labelled, as it is on whisky bottles. Cocaine-related deaths have risen fivefold in America since 2010, mostly because gangs are cutting it with fentanyl, a cheaper and more lethal drug.
I get worked up about this issue because WV has by far the worst opioid death rate in the country. We were ground zero for the pharma industry pushers and now the prohibitionists have made the situation worse. It is almost impossible for addicts who want to quit to get treatment but it is trivial to buy street drugs of unknown strength and content.
What I am doing
Voting, and voting ASAP
Early voting takes my name off the list of voters so campaigns won’t waste time or money contacting me. The ones I support will also know my vote is locked in. I have worked on many campaigns and this is a big deal.
Donating, especially to local candidates I know
Donating to celebrity national candidates doesn’t matter that much. They rake in millions from big PACs. $100 to a local candidate can be a game-changer.
Talking to friends and family to make sure they are registered
I checked on the WV SoS website to make sure my wife and kids are registered. Republicans have been purging voter rolls across the country. There is also the possibility that some clerk has accidentally screwed up your registration. Malice or incompetence- it doesn’t matter.
Talking to friends and family about why I am voting for candidates and on measures
It has become socially unacceptable to talk politics. I reject that. I make it clear that I am involved and care about elections. The data show this is the most important way to change people’s minds. Canvassing and postcards to voters work for the same reason, although they aren’t as valuable as a conversation with a personal friend.
I talk about my values first and then why I am voting the way I do. Republicans want to make it about personality because they have no moral underpinnings. Most people do have morals, though.
Posting my endorsements on social media
I pay more attention to politics than most people. Many people have figured that out and want to know how to vote and why in low profile races or on ballot measures. My opinion can be worth dozens of votes on these.
Let us know what you are doing!