Showing posts with label Exploitation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Exploitation. Show all posts

January 24, 2021

Evils of Sex Trafficking


 USA Today article on Sex Trafficking:

- 4.8 million people: 3.8 Million adults + 1 million children! (and another 20 million people trafficked for slave labor)

- 99% female

- 70% Asia and Pacific, 4% in America

- $99 Billion in profits 

National Human Trafficking Hotline

- Call: 1-888-373-7888

-Text: “BeFree” (233733)

- Chat: humantraffickinghotline.org

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 19, 2019

Stone Faces Hide The Heart

Some people are so cold and emotionally distant.

They go around with a stone face.  

No emotion seems to seep in or out. 

The face doesn't betray the heart in any way. 

You say something or do something, and they just sort of stare at you. 

No words, no outward response. 

Just a stone face like a poker face. 

You don't know what's behind it. 

But worse yet is a heart of stone--nothing impacts the inside just like the outside. 

Are some people this way because they have been so hurt in the past that they become hardened like a turtle's shell to protect from the outside world. 

...Ain't gonna let nothing hurt me again. 

Or are they great at using their poker face to fool, manipulate, and get what they are after. 

Perhaps the worst possibility is that they are simply a real psychopath--someone without conscience or empathy. 

Yes, that is scary because the unthinkable becomes thinkable. 

For most of us, reading verbal and non-verbal cues is critical to understanding other people. 

Hiding those cues can mean that the stone face is going to shatter someone's world and that won't be a pretty face at all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 16, 2016

Help Find Missing Children

Coming out of the mall into the parking lot, I saw this poster lying on the ground. 

It was a flyer to help find a missing child. 

Every time, I see something like this, I just have to take a big gulp and deep breath, as this seems like one of the scariest things that can happen to a child and their parents.

A child is dependent on it's parents, and when they go missing G-d forbid, the fear of in whose hands they might fall and what may be done to them is unthinkable. 

The goal is to get the word and pictures out to find the child as quickly as possible. 

From 2002, statistics show about 800,000 children go missing every year (or about 2,000 per day)--that is unbelievable!

Of those, about 204,000 were family abductions, 58,000 were non-family abductions, a 115 were taken by a stranger, and the rest were mostly run-aways.

About 1 in 5 runaways are considered likely victims of child sex trafficking. 

A 1997 study showed only 5% of non-family abductions even get reported to police and entered in the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC)--many may not enter a report when a child is gone just a few days or it may get filed under other categories like homicides or sexual assaults. 

In the 1972 and 1981, there were tragic cases of missing children Etan Patz and Adam Walsh, both killed at age 6, with Etan's remains supposedly thrown in the garbage in Soho (he was never found) and Adam's located in a drainage canal in Florida. 

Etan was the first missing child whose pictures were put on the back of milk carton. 

In 1983, the anniversary of Etan's disappearance, May 25, was designated National Missing Children's Day.

In 1984, the Walshes and other child advocates established the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) "to help find missing children and prevent child victimization"--shockingly before this there was no coordinated federal and state mechanism for search efforts.

- NCMEC tip hotline (1-800-The Lost) has received over 4.3 million calls in the last 32 years and they have facilitated the return of 227,000 missing children.

In 1996, America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) was set up as a a child abduction emergency alert system; it was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year old abducted and murdered in Texas. 

- AMBER Alerts, between 1997 and 2015, were credited with the safe recovery of 723 children. 

My heart goes out to these children and their families! 

Anything that each of us can do to help with the desperate situation of missing children and their safe recovery is worth not only our attention, but our utmost vigilance and helpful tips. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 28, 2013

Vandalism and Vomit -- Only $2,500!

So we went to look at a new dorm-type apartment for my daughter. 

She and her friends want to be near campus and where everyone hangs out. 

When we got to the building, the front door glass was smashed in and wooden planks filled the space over the whole door. 

While we were waiting in front, a group of girls were walking in--and one was saying to the others, "Oh, he says he loves me, and he wants to have sex with me..."--then couldn't hear the rest as they continued by. 

Inside the lobby was this "Vandalism Report" with dates for each (not shown)--Take a look at it (THIS IS REAL!).

- Signs and fire extinguishers vandalized. 

- Beer cups thrown off the balcony.

- Graffiti painted on the walls. 

- And best for last...urine, vomit, rubbish, and blood discovered--at multiple times and in multiple places!

The slumlord landlord, buys up the filthy apartments, renovates them, and rents out two-bedroom units in this building for approximately $2500, split 4 ways among the students. 

He takes 2 months security deposit. 

And he makes each person responsible for all the others, so if one person backs out or doesn't pay, each of the other students are responsible--not just for their share (lease). 

He advertised one unit, but showed us another.

Then told us this one was also already taken and we should trust him and sign up for another unit that he is purchasing and "it will be the same thing, trust me!"

This whole thing was disappointing to my daughter who was excited to be with all her friends so close to campus. 

I was proud of her when my wife asked her despite how much she wanted this...did she feel this guy was trustworthy?--and she said, "No!"

Not sure who would want to live in a place like this...but my daughter was disappointed anyway.

It's hard to be practical, when the emotional side for people take over. 

These young people are victimized by the slumlords, who prey on their youth, inexperience, and needs. 

This place was disgusting--even so, it's tough to be a parent because you want your children to learn from mistakes, but mistakes can be so costly.

Funny thing is, there were plenty of kids in this building--where are the grownups? ;-)


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February 2, 2013

This Tape Will Self Destruct In Five Seconds


Ever since the 1960's airing of Mission Impossible, where each episode started with the instructions for a dangerous mission on a tape recording, which ended with "This tape will self-destruct in five seconds," have we all recognized the need for self-destructing devices to safeguard information. 

This message has been honed over the last three decades with compromising security incidents:

1979: Iranian demonstrators stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and according to UMBC "the incinerator broke" as personnel tried to destroy sensitive documents and they had to revert to shredding. 

2001: A Chinese J-8 fighter aircraft collided with a EP-3 U.S. Intel aircraft which according to CNN was "likely equipped with highly sensitive equipment" and landed on the Chinese island of Hainan providing China the opportunity to board, disassemble, and study the equipment before it was returned three months later. 

2011: Iran captured an RQ-170 Sentinel Drone and USA Todayreported on Iran's claims that "all files and boards of the drone were copied and used to improve Iran's unmanned aircraft." Also in 2011 in the assault on Osama Bin Laden, a secret stealth helicopter that took a hard-landing had to be destroyed before special forces pulled out--however according to the New York Times, "a surviving tail section reveal modifications to muffle noise and reduce the chances of detection by radar" was left behind providing others the opportunity to learn about our sensitive technologies.

Additionally, as ever more advanced technology continues to enter the battlefield the threat of its capture and exploitation becomes increasingly concerning. 
In this context, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced the start up of a new program on 28 January 2013 called Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR).

VAPR is intent on developing technologies for "transient electronics...capable of dissolving into the environment around them."

The goal is that "once triggered to dissolve, the electronics would be useless to any enemy that comes across them."

According to Armed Forces International, along with the destruction of the electronics would be "taking classified data with it." Thereby preventing the enemy from using captured information to develop countermeasures or reverse engineer their finds. 

Transient electronics are intended to be rugged on the battlefield but able to be destroyed on command, perhaps by biomedical implants that release "a few droplets of [a self-destruct] liquid" or other means. 

Whether self-destructing in five seconds or slightly more, the need to preserve our sensitive battlefield technologies and the intelligence they contain has never been more vital. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Mike Licht)

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February 10, 2012

Speak Up or Shut Up

We've all been there--organizations that are run by the king or queen and their proverbial gang of 6 or 7 or 8 or 9.

These are the organizations that are dominated by powerful, but narcissistic leadership (notice I do not call them leaders--because they are not). 

According to Forbes, (11 January 2012) in an article entitled Why Narcissistic CEOs Kill Their Companies, in these organizations, the c-suite is dominated by those showing four narcissistic personality traits:

- Exploitative--They are in charge and everyone else had better respect--or better yet worship--them. Typically they are surrounded by "yes men" and eager beavers, ready to please at just about all costs. 

- Authoritarian--They insist on "being the center of attention," they always know better, are always right even in the face of evidence to the contrary, and with their people, it's their way or the highway. 

- Arrogant--They are full of themselves and usually something else :-) and believe they are superior and therefore entitled to their positions of power and stature.

- Self-Absorbed--They admire and and are preoccupied with themselves, and not focused on what's ultimately good for the organization, the mission, and its people. 

In such organizations, and with such pitiful leadership, generally we find cultures of fear and what Harvard Business Review (January-February 2012) says are organizations where people "are afraid to speak honestly."

In these dysfunctional organizations with inept leadership, the workforce is stunted--they cannot genuinely contribute or grow and where organizational candor, trust, and collaboration is low, organizational performance is predictably poor.

HBR suggests that greater candor and sharing is possible by "breaking meetings into smaller groups," assigning people to "notice and speak up when something is being left unsaid," and to "teach 'caring-criticism'"--where input is provided constructively and not personally attacking and where honest feedback is viewed as "generous, rather than critical."

I think these suggestions may help organizations that are fundamentally well-run by caring and professional leaders, but when narcissists and power mongers rule the day, then the culture is not speak up, but rather shut up. 

One of the things that I have been fortunate to experience and learn is that diplomacy from the top-down goes a long way in creating a professional and productive work culture. 

When people are given respect and the freedom to speak up constructively, when they can work in true-teaming environments, and when relationships matter more than winning the day, then the workforce and all the individuals therein have the opportunity to grow to their potential. In speak up organizations, people can voice their opinions, provide valuable input, and contribute to the mission--both the people and the organization thrive. 

In contrast, when the workplace is shut up, because of narcissistic and poor leadership, the workforce is essentially shut down--they are in essence muzzled in speech and ultimately in deed. These organizations choke off their own talent and lifeblood, while their head swells from the arrogance and power at the top.

Diplomacy is a skill not only in international relations, but in life and in the workplace, and diplomatic leaders are not narcissists trying to wield and hold power, but rather polished and professional leaders who foster a culture of speak up and team up--they are ready to take their organizations and people to new levels of productivity, growth, and meaning.

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September 26, 2010

Now The Computer War Games Are Real

The Associated Press is reporting that the Iranian Bushehr Nuclear Plant has been hit with a sophisticated computer worm called Stuxnet.

The Iranian nuclear program hit has been claimed for civil nuclear power but has long been suspected of being a cover for making weapons, and Iran has been unabashedly vocal about its hostile intent to many nations, even going so far as to openly threaten some, especially Israel, with complete “annihilation.”

The technical aspects of Stuxnet as a weapon are fascinating, for this is the first computer program “specifically created to take over industrial control systems.” Another article in U.K.’s The Guardian quotes another source as saying it is “one of the most refined pieces of malware ever discovered.”

This worm works by exploiting Windows operating systems security holes and taking over critical infrastructure SCADA systems (AKA Supervisory Control And Data Acquisitions systems or industrial control systems).

What is maybe even more amazing than the technical feat of Stuxnet, is that for months or years, everyone has been focused on and hypothesizing about when a traditional military strike was going to occur to the ever menacing Iranian nuclear threat. However, instead of conventional planes and bombs making a big bang (remember “shock and awe”), we get a silent but “very sophisticated” cyber worm that no one seems to have expected.

So times have certainly changed and with it warfare. Prior military engagements occurred on land, sea, and air with kinetic “bang/boom” weapons. Today they have a new domain in cyberspace with bits and bytes that are just as impactful. But I think what hasn’t really hit home with most people is that cyber war is not just virtual, like playing a video game (like the SIMS) or acting out in virtual reality (like Second Life); cyberwarfare starts online but has real physical ramifications as we see with the Stuxnet worm. Industrial systems like nuclear plants or hosts of other critical infrastructure (in manufacturing, energy, telecommunications, etc.) can be taken out with cyber bombs just like with real bombs maybe even better, faster, cheaper, and cleaner (less collateral damage).

We had all better be prepared for the fight in this new realm as the potential damage is as real as any we have ever seen before.

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