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Inspiration

Endangered Coquerel’s Sifaka Born!

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Little “peanut” Kapika holds on to mom. (Image Credit: Ray Meibaum/Saint Louis Zoo)

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By Kristen E. Strubberg Editor-in-Chief

Meet Kapika (Malagasy for “peanut”) a female Coquerel’s Sifaka lemur born January 21 at the St. Louis Zoo. She is mother Almirena’s fourth baby with father Caligula.

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After birth the newborn lemur latches to mom’s chest but after a few weeks moves to mom’s back, according to ARKive. Once she reaches one year old, Kapika will be full grown and capable making 30ft leaps between trees and the hopping bipedal movement that’s distinctive to the species.

Look at that smile! (Image Credit: Ray Meibaum/Saint Louis Zoo)

Coquerel’s Sifaka are listed as endangered but due to decreasing population, the species may soon be upgraded to Critically Endangered. Their primary threat is poaching. Hunting the lemur is considered taboo to Madagascar natives but newcomers do not share the same views. Destruction of their forest habitat for agriculture has also decreased their numbers. Fortunately Kapika and family live at the international headquarters of the Madagascar Fauna Group, a cooperative between zoos and aquariums aimed at preserving lemurs among many other threatened Madagascar species.

Find out more about the newborn at the St. Louis Zoo website and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Follow The Good New Review on Twitter @tgnreview and Facebook for even more Good News!

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Kristen E. Strubberg is the Editor-in-Chief for TGNR. Kristen founded TGNR in 2013 - seeking to create a high quality platform for original, eclectic and substantive positive news journalism by attracting expert contributors in many varying subjects. Kristen also works as a clinical medical researcher in Cardiology, with an original background in Neuroscience. Her passion for science has translated to her science-fiction specialization, with her highly adept published insights into the best of sci-fi’s popular culture. Kristen has served as TGNR’s Editor-in-Chief since 2013.

Inspiration

Bethel Church’s Asylum Service Ends After 97 Day Marathon

Concluding a 97 day crucible, Bethel Church ends its sanctuary service as Dutch officials agree to reevaluate Armenian Tamrazyan children’s asylum request.

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Bethel Church The Hague
Image Credit: WikiCommons

One hundred thirty-nine thousand, six hundred minutes – that’s one way to measure the incredible feat that has potentially saved the lives of five Armenian immigrants in The Netherlands. For thousands of minutes – or, more conventionally, 97 days – the Protestant Bethel Church and Community Center’s pastors kept church service going nonstop to prevent the deportation of the Tamrazyan family. As the vigil comes to a close, what began as a spontaneous act of sanctuary may now have changed the outcome for hundreds of more families facing similar deportation.

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Tamrazyan’s Case for Asylum

After exhausting their options to legally stay in The Netherlands – two asylum denials overturned in court followed by a third, final denial – the Tamrazyans sought protection first in their local church before transferring to the larger Bethel Church, located in The Hague.

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It’s unclear who originated the idea, but ultimately Bethel Church began to protect the Tamrazyans through an obscure Dutch law that prohibits police from interfering with an in-progress church service to make an arrest. Bethel Church recognized an opportunity, whereby on October 26th, 2018, Bethel’s pastors began to preach, and preach. Then preach even more.

Bethel Church’s Righteous Reinforcements

Bethel Church clerics’ initially rotated to keep the service going 24 hours a day. However after a few days the Protestant Church of The Netherlands gave their blessing to the marathon service, using a newsletter to rally fellow congregations to Bethel’s aid.  

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According to the New York Times, as word of the family’s plight gained national attention, over 450 religious leaders composed of every Christian denomination from around the country and abroad, volunteered their time to keep the Bethel liturgical fillibuster alive.

No Home Awaiting in Armenia

The New York Times reported that Bethel Church officials met with Dutch authorities as it’s service continued, attempting to resolve the Tamrazyan’s desperate appeal for asylum. The family of five include three children: Haryarpi, 21, Warduhi, 19, and Seyran, 15. The Tamrazyans fled Armenia in 2010 due to their father’s political activities; for this reason the parents’ names have not been released.


“If I go back to Armenia I don’t know what to do.”


The Tamrazyans have lived in The Netherlands since that time. The family has not conducted interviews with the press. However their eldest child, Haryarpi, has made plain her expectations if she is deported to Armenia in a BBC World News short film: “If I go back to Armenia I don’t know what to do.” The Tamrazyan children clearly fear imminent acts of retribution should they be forcibly returned to the Caucasian nation. 

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The Tamrazyan children have been in The Netherlands for over 5 years, and therefore qualify under an exception to the usual restrictions on immigration. Dutch authorities however typically deny these requests, including the Tamrazyans’.

According to a petition designed to change the existing law under which the Tamrazyans would be deported, over 400 other children also currently exist in this legal limbo. Furthermore at the time of writing, the petition has over 250,000 signatures.

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Netherlands Officials and Church Seek Path to Dutch Asylum

On the ninety-sixth day of the never ending service, the four parties of The Netherlands coalition government finally came to a compromise, whereby 700 families’ cases who had been previously listed for deportation – including the Tamrazyans – could be reassessed. Politicos foresee that the children’s cases will indeed receive amnesty and, as their parents cannot then be deported, they will also be allowed to remain in The Netherlands.

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At Bethel Church Fate Remains Unclear

Bethel Church’s congregation concluded it’s marathon service on January 30th, after precisely ninety seven days following the government’s announcement. Dutch authorities have not yet announced official confirmation; hence the Tamrazyans remain residents at the Bethel Church. With imminent deportation no longer a threat, however, the family can now venture safely outside the church and into the city.

The Tamrazyans are not yet in the clear, and their status is still to be determined. Yet given the tremendous public support they and others like them have received, the Tamrazyans may well have found their salvation in northwest Europe. 

Write to Kristen E. Strubberg at kstrubberg@tgnreview.com

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Culture

“Name Explain”: How YouTube’s Patrick Foote Made Etymology Cool Again

Its no small accomplishment opening up interest in etymology and linguistics outside of the select cadre who call it their profession, nor is it the only thing that Mr. Foote has gotten right.

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Name Explain intro card w/ animated Patrick Foote
Image Credit: Name Explain/Patrick Foote

This past March, TGNR’s Managing Editor Paul K. DiCostanzo interviewed creator and host of the channel Name Explain, YouTube’s Patrick Foote. Name Explain is a channel dedicated to unraveling the etymological and linguistic origins of many notable places, people or subjects that define the world.  Through his channel Mr. Foote has popularized linguistics and etymology – traditionally viewed as dry and pedantic subjects by many – to a large and constantly growing audience. How does he keep viewers clicking “subscribe?”  Simple: Name Explain makes these subjects accessible in a way few others have seldom accomplished. Patrick chatted with Paul about the origins of Name Explain, his background, and the challenges of building a new channel from its very foundations.

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What is in a name? That is a rhetorical question that has been posed throughout the history of the English speaking peoples – perhaps most notably in Shakespeare. Patrick Foote, creator and host of YouTube’s Name Explain, is answering that very question. Human beings think and understand the world in language.  However, the significance behind the words and names human use to comprehend this world are often far more interesting than the average word monkey gives credit. Cue Patrick Foote, as this is precisely where Name Explain takes center stage.

YouTube’s Patrick Foote – A Name Explained

Patrick Foote’s passion for linguistics and etymology is a more recent discovery. The 23 year-old from southwest England first encountered this fascination when choosing an additional subject for his UK A-Level exams. The choice was a serendipitous personal revelation that revolutionized his entire life.

After briefly attending university for linguistics, Foote found the experience unfulfilling and moved on. What might have appeared like an ending at the time was actually a beginning.

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Like many young Millennials, Patrick had prior YouTube experience in his adolescence. As such, the platform served as the ideal forum for his major foray into original creation – answering the question, “Where is Old Zealand?”

The video was precipitated by a family trip to the continent. While riding in the car, Patrick saw a sign for the Dutch province of Zeeland. That moment became a catalyst for Foote, an experience that yielded a chain reaction, which ultimately lead to his 2+ year YouTube project.

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Professional vs. Autodidact Specialist

In speaking with TGNR‘s Paul K. DiCostanzo, Patrick Foote emphasized that he is not a professional linguist. However, with the modern democratization of media, Foote is reaching a considerable audience on a subject few others in history have been able to popularize. Like most successful YouTube creators, Patrick offers answers to unique questions; specifically he answers questions people didn’t realize they wanted answered. That being said, Name Explain is tackling this erstwhile dry subject in a singular style.

By combining original animation drawn on Foote’s iPad, with his own narration, Foote uses a well-honed voice and look to tell the history of each selected “name”. In a blend of well researched information, dry wit, and the authority only a British accent could assume, Name Explain has evolved into its own unique experience – staking a worthy claim to the growing genre of “edutainment.”

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The World of Edutainment

In the YouTube universe, the genre of “edutainment” is experiencing exponential growth. There is considerable demand not only for new, high quality original content but there is also a blended insatiable desire for knowledge in a very digestible form. Channels such as The Great War, or AlternateHistoryHub are prime examples of those who have pioneered this approach on YouTube. When it comes to the vast sphere of linguistics and etymology, Patrick Foote is among those pioneers staking claim. In doing so, Foote is highly insightful in how he has made it so.


“If one person likes something, a million can also like it. If one person finds something funny, there is a continent of others who will also laugh.” – Patrick Foote’s advice to new or aspiring YouTube creators


It is no secret that creating original content for mass consumption is a complex process. Both in effort and the emotionally complex quagmire of putting oneself out there – it can be daunting. When asked what his mindset is when creating ones own content, Patrick Foote operates by the maxim that, “If one person likes something, a million can also like it. If one person finds something funny, there is a continent of others who will also laugh.” A simple and direct approach that is far from simplistic. Yet in a modern context, one requires more than excellent content and a fan base to continue making new content.

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Supporting Creators

Like many fellow YouTube creators, Name Explain supplements its channel revenue through the crowd funding platform Patreon. Patreon operates on the basis of monthly donations from a creators fan base. With numerous possible monetary denomination options for supporters, creators reciprocate to their benefactors based on the amount they give. For example, Name Explain patrons that donate $5 a month, Patrick creates a unique drawing in the channels animated motif specifically of that patron. For $10, he will send a Name Explain postcard to any address in the world.

Within this arrangement, Patreon serves both the aim of generating revenue to support ongoing work, as well as being a medium that builds community between creators and fans. The interactions between creators and their contributors over time has constructed an intimate sinew that not only generates revenue, but also builds an unprecedented bridge between creators and fans in highly celebrated fashion.

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Becoming a “Name Explain” Professional

Despite Patrick Foote’s assertion that he is not a professional linguist, he is indeed becoming a professional. As recently announced on Name Explain, Foote is transitioning to making his YouTube production a full time profession:

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Patrick Foote is one of many who through their initial creative efforts has found his vocational calling. Such an opportunity is a very unique opportunity created by modern mass media, and is a new hallmark of possibility previously unknown. It is a tremendous journey into the unknown like any other major change in profession. Name Explain has anted up and is going all in.

When it comes to answering questions people didn’t realize they wanted the answer to, Foote is demonstrating undeniable skill. When it comes to answering the most important question all creators ask, “What if I do something different?” Foote’s response is clear. It is a question all of his 100,000+ subscribers are very pleased how Patrick Foote has answered.

Write to Paul K. DiCostanzo at pdicostanzo@tgnreview.com

Follow Paul on Quartz

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Enjoy the video below “Why Do Austria & Australia Have Such Similar Names?” and checkout Name Explain for yourself!

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Social Entrepreneurship

Removing Land Mines: A HeroRat’s Tale

APOPO and their HeroRats are a rare partnership of human ingenuity and animal intelligence, in pursuit of a scourge plaguing prior war torn developing nations – land mines.

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APOPO

Somewhere the spirit and fire of Diana, Princess of Wales is absolutely glowing, as her work to remove forgotten land mines is being ingeniously realized. On this, the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personnel mines, there is an incredible and highly innovative organization that is making that convention a reality. A Belgian NGO called APOPO is securing acres of land from mines and other un-exploded ordinances (UXOs) using specifically trained “HeroRats”. Not only have these HeroRats been immensely effective in their mission, their casualty rate is zero.

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APOPO Removing Land Mines With an Unlikely but Perfect Partner

Despite the initial reaction of most people when rats become the subject of discussion, rats are in fact ideal candidates for the task of mine removal if you ask Bart Weetjens, founder of APOPO.  Weetjens’ HeroRats – specifically the indigenous giant Gambia pouched rat- are intelligent and surprisingly social creatures with a remarkably keen sense of smell.  Their discerning pink noses are what lead the HeroRat to its bounty: mines.

APOPO HeroRat land mines removal

A HeroRat on the scent.

On their Tanzania training campus, candidate HeroRats receive positive reinforcement training called “clicker”. By graduation, HeroRats can hear a click from their handler, know to sniff for TNT in a mine, and, after notifying their shielded handler to the presence of a mine, receives a treat reward.

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Bananas and peanuts are their treats of choice. Most importantly, all HeroRats in the field are too light to trigger any active mines. It’s a simple arrangement that has generated overwhelming results. As of June 2015, APOPO is using their HeroRats for mine removal efforts in Angola, Cambodia, and Tanzania.

Eating a treat for successfully detecting land mines

Positive reinforcement

Beyond Land Mines – APOPO’s Multi-talented Hero’s

The magnificent success of HeroRats in land mine removal has inspired APOPO to branch out into disease detection and prevention. Specifically HeroRats are highly effective, using their amazing noses, in analyzing laboratory samples for Tuberculosis (TB). In a laboratory setting, a professional with a microscope can only effectively examine 25 samples of sputum a day. Conversly, trained HeroRats manage to screen over 100 samples of sputum in a single hour.  Moreover, HeroRats can detect TB presence in a sample with fewer bacteria than traditional methods. This is crucial in regions where comorbidity of TB and HIV/AIDS are high as individuals with HIV/AIDS can be TB positive but present with fewer bacteria in a sample.

APOPO HeroRat testing TB samples

HeroRat testing TB samples

Whether it be clearing former battlefields of un denoted ordinance, or on the trail of disease prevention, HeroRats are a unique partner. For their immense contribution, HeroRats are well treated. During their working “careers” HeroRats work only a handful of hours each day and are retired after six years of service. Once they reach retirement, HeroRats continue to have daily check-ups, interaction with their handlers, and plenty of time to play and socialize with other retirees.

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Enjoying retirement after a long career of detecting ordinance

Enjoying the fruit of their labor

Though the work of APOPO and their HeroRats are far from complete, the results so far have been undeniable. For many the scourge of tuberculosis or UXO’s is a world away, yet they are all too local for many on Earth – North Africa and Eastern Europe are still removing WWII mines. APOPO’s mission is that rare combination of benevolent purpose and human ingenuity partnered with animal intelligence. All in the pursuit of solving a terrible dilemma with deadly consequences.

Write to Kristen E. Strubberg at kstrubberg@tgnreview.com

This article was originally published on July 5th, 2015. It was written in collaboration with Paul K. DiCostanzo, TGNR Managing Editor. 

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Human Interest

Never Before Seen John Lennon Doodles – And An Afternoon on Central Park West

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Image Credit: Public Domain

Today TGNR shares an incredible story about John Lennon, an exclusive TGNR release of never-before-seen work of his famous autobiographical doodling, and the determined young musician who inspired the drawings. It is a warm story on this very bitter anniversary.

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TGNR was approached by a perennial follower of the site, a musician, who had a remarkable story about a singular inspiring exchange with his musical icon John Lennon. Through his story we take a peak into one of the greats of rock and roll, the man behind the legend, and some pieces of his famous doodles never before shown to the public.

The DakotaNY Daily News

The Dakota. 72nd and Central Park West, NYC, NY

The Journey Begins

On a gentle Sunday fall afternoon in 1976, James (name changed for privacy) was on the corner of 72nd and Central Park West in Manhattan. It is the address of the legendary residence known as the Dakota.

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This young gentleman had but one goal that afternoon: to meet John Lennon. The former Beatles star called the Dakota his New York City home during the final years of his life.

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When Inspiration Struck

When this high spirited and ambitious young man approached the Dakota gates, he encountered the doorman. When asked if he could meet John Lennon, the doorman very politely responded that Mr. Lennon wasn’t home, but that he could deliver him a message.

At that point this Good News Reviewer picked up a piece of paper, and left John Lennon a set of song lyrics and a return address. The lyrics read as follows:

“In Central Park headed west, on a Sunday afternoon.

I did all I could to get my message through.

Through all the years I had to wait, now I couldn’t get past your gate.

But it’s alright I guess, I’m just one to reminisce.

Back in 64′, life was such a bore, until I bought your records at the local store,

And we didn’t have a care, but now you’re a millionaire.

And we’re waiting outside at Central Park West.

And we traveled 50 miles just hoping to see you

Pass the time and just say hello

But there are so many people who do the same,

Play the game, it’s so insane, all in vain,

I hope you get to read this by your birthday,

Before the cards and letters wash this all away,

And though it’s so remote, let’s try to cross the moat,

At the Dakota, on 72nd Street…”

John Lennon Doodles Communicating More Than Words Could

A little over one month later, James received an unexpected letter with a return address of 72nd Street and Central Park West. Enclosed were doodles that John had constructed as his response to this young man’s very thoughtful lyrical “message.”

For a young musician reaching out to one his great musical idols, and a figure who revolutionized music itself, it was a watershed moment.

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For any one person who aspires to greatness in their field, none could have been as touching and meaningful than a music maker creating a personal connection with the legendary Beatle. One can only imagine the effect that would have in their own life and ambitions.

James was kind enough to invite us to share his incredible story, and take photos of the doodles he received.

New John Lennon doodle 1James/TGNR

A doodle to “James” of John, his son Sean, and wife Yoko Ono

 

New John Lennon doodle 2James/TGNR

John Lennon’s Doodlegraph, invoking his iconic glasses

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Why Lennon Could Do This At That Time

During the period between 1975 and 1980, John Lennon had entered a period of retirement. He and his wife Yoko Ono had dedicated this time to focus on raising John’s second son, Sean.

Lennon did little song writing during this time, though it was a period that generated many of his autobiographical doodles.

It was also during this time that John was able to communicate with his fans unlike any previous time in his career.

Though the story does not originate in this period, Al Pacino’s “Danny Collins” (2015) focuses on another instance of Lennon’s personal encouragement of fans.

The film was based on the story of Steve Tilston, an aging British folk musician who in 2005 found an unread letter written to him by Lennon some four decades previous.

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The contents of the letter encouraged Tilston to resume his songwriting. Moreover, Lennon’s letter motivates Tilston to reassemble his life and further pursue his career in music.

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John Lennon is a legend for many reasons. Like any great legend, he means something a little different to every person. Like any larger than life figure, it is never easy to parse the legend from the realistic personal aspects of their manner.

As such, John Lennon’s immense legacy can sometimes obscure the nature of the man to the outside world. This example of his thoughtful reply to an ambitious and creative young artist does speak to the man behind the figure, and one must “draw” their own conclusions. Mr. Lennon certainly did.

Write to Paul K. DiCostanzo at pdicostanzo@tgnreview.com 

Also follow Paul on Quartz!

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Human Interest

Never Before Seen John Lennon Doodles – And An Afternoon on Central Park West

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Today TGNR shares an incredible story about John Lennon, an exclusive TGNR release of never-before-seen work of his famous autobiographical doodling, and the determined young musician who inspired the drawings.

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