Showing posts with label Retaliation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Retaliation. Show all posts

February 1, 2013

Biowarfare, A Means To Our End

The Wall Street Journal (1 February 2013) has an interesting book review on "The Soviet Biological Weapons Program."

Although 85 nations, including the Soviet Union, in 1975 signed the "Biological Weapons Convention" (BWC) pledging not to develop, produce, acquire or stockpile bioweapons or toxins for hostile purposes, the Soviet regime was "covertly expanding them."

In the following years, the Soviets "built the most extensive facilities for the weaponization of bacteria and viruses in history" with "tens of thousands of scientists and support personnel and guarded by hundreds of Ministry of Interior troops."

Both civilian and military laboratories were used under the guise of biotechnology, and factories that produce flu vaccines and pesticides for crops could relatively easily be converted to mass-produce deadly bioweapons to use against the West.

Apparently, motivating the Red Army were there own horrible experiences in the early 20th century when disease such as typhus and lice killed millions "mowing down our troops."

"Fighting disease became a priority...and such efforts morphed easily into weapons research."

While the Soviets could not financially keep pace with the U.S. and eventually lost the Cold War, they continued to funnel their military dollars into nuclear and bioweapons, where they could literally get the most bang for the buck!

Often I think that despite the safety we generally feel in this country surrounded on both sides by large expanses of Ocean and the freedoms that protect us within, we are really only a nuclear suitcase or bio epidemic away from great catastrophe and chaos.  

In such an event, would we know who to retaliate against, would we have time, and even if we do, what good does it do us with mass casualties and disruptions?

Make no mistake; being able to retaliate against the perpetrators is critical to bring justice and respite to the nation, to prevent the potential for national annihilation, and to deter other maniacal acts.

However, it is vital as well to protect us from ever getting hit by weapons of mass destruction in the first place and depending on treaties alone cannot be enough.

Rather, excellent intelligence, early warning systems, antimissile defense, stockpiles of antidotes and countermeasures, premier medical facilities, superbly trained first responders, a high state military readiness, and refined continuity plans are all necessary to keep us from a premature and horrible end--and ultimately to preserve the peace. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Pere Ubu)

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February 11, 2012

One Hand Washes The Other

This week the House overwhelming approved an notable ethics reform package to ban insider trading on the hill and in the executive branch. (Washington Post

However, ethics and conflict of interest in government decision-making is something that affects politicians and civil servants alike.

Two specific areas come to mind, including employment decisions and acquisitions awards, where there is probably no greater area of public trust. 

Because personnel and contracting decisions affect livelihoods and pocketbooks, they are ripe for corruption and undue influence, favors, and other mitigating factors such as preference or tit for tat arrangements. 

To safeguard these actions by public officials, the Federal government has set out rules that govern personnel practices and acquisitions.  

On the personnel side, there is an exemplary set of rules commonly referred to as the " Prohibited Personnel Practices" (Title 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)).

For example, they set out rules against such things as: 

- Discrimination against employees or applicants and even for off duty conduct

- Preference in personnel decisions

- Soliciting or considering recommendations not based on personal knowledge

- Retaliation against whistleblowers or those filing appeals

- Coercion of political activity

Similarly, there are laws in government that govern federal acquisitions such as the Federal Acquisitions Regulations.

Included in this are are specific rules that mandate ethics and integrity in procurements, and these for example bar activities such as:

- Conflicts of interest in making acquisition decisions

- Soliciting and accepting gifts

- Seeking employment with a bidder

- Disclosure of protected information

Of course, these guidelines are only as good as those following them. When these rules are bypassed with winks, excuses, or even outright deceit, the system and the ethical principles embodied in them are doomed by backroom politics. 

As the same time, the specifics of the rules and regulations, and the interpretations of these to each situation is critical, and officials should regularly consult with their ethics officers and legal counsel to ensure that they are not only doing the right thing, but doing things right. 

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for each department and agency plays a vital role in ensuring that officials are managing in such as way as to avoid fraud, waste, and abuse, and the OIG can usually be contacted both by phone or email and is available to assist the public in investigations, inspections, and evaluations. 

To ensure the integrity of government at the highest level, the rule-makers (Legislative Branch), the implementers (Executive Branch ), and the interpreters (Judicial Branch) are all involved in ensuring the ethical foundations of our government.  

On the ground, day-to-day, senior executives, human resource and procurement officials, ethics and legal officers, internal affairs and the OIG play important roles in guiding the process and hopefully weeding out the "bad apples."

However, when people involved are lax, derelict, or intentionally overlook corruption and endemic bad behavior as part of a one hand washes the other culture, everyone loses in terms of not only the smooth and efficient running government, but in the underlying principles of integrity for which it stands. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to "Brain Malfunction")

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January 23, 2011

How To Cope When The Boss Is A Bully

We are living in tough economic times, and according to a recent news article, even those who have jobs are often feeling the pain.

USA Today, 28 December 2010, features a cover story called “Bullying in the workplace is common, hard to fix.

The subhead: “One in three adults has been bullied at work” – based on research conducted by Zogby International.

This reminds me of the poster “Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten,” since the old schoolyard bullying is faithfully carried over to the “adult” workspace.

How unfortunate for our employees and our organizations—because abusive leaders not only harm employees through ongoing intimating and demeaning behavior, but ultimately they bring down organizational morale, innovation, and productivity.

It’s like poison that starts with the individual bully and spreads—permeating from his or her human targets (our precious human capital assets) to chip away bit by bit at the core of organization’s performance.

According to the article, the bully often behaves in subtle ways so as not to get caught:

- “Purposely leaving a worker out of communications, so they can’t do their job well

- Mocking someone during meetings, and

- Spreading malicious gossip about their target”

To further protect themselves, bullies may exhibit the pattern where they “kiss up and kick down.” Therefore, the higher ups may close their eyes to the abusive behavior of the bully—as far as their concerned the bully is golden.

By menacing their employees, bullying bosses spread trepidation amongst their victims and prevent them from telling anyone—because their targets fear that there will be “hell to pay,” in terms of retribution, if they do.

So bullied employees react by withdrawing at work, calling in sick more, and trying to escape from their tormentor by finding another job elsewhere in the same organization or in another.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, “slightly more than 60% of bullies are men, and 58% of targets are women.” But generally, the sexes tend to prey on their own: “Women target other women in 80% of cases. Men are more apt to target other men.”

For employees who are victims, professionals offer four basic strategies, which are adapted here. Of course, none of these is ideal, but all of them give people a way to cope:

1) Talk It Out—it may be wishful thinking, but the first thing you want to try and do is to talk with the bully and at least try and reason with him or her. If that doesn't work, you can always move on to strategies two through four.

2) Fight—document the abuse and report it (e.g. up the chain, to the C-suite, to internal affairs, the inspector general, etc.). Like with the bully in the playground, sometimes you have to overcome the fear and tell the teacher, so to speak.

3) Flight—leave the organization you’re in—find another job either internally or at another outfit; the focus of the thinking here is that when there is a fire, you need to get out before you get burned.

4) Zone Out—ignore the bully by waiting it out; this may be possible, if the bully is near retirement, about to get caught, or may otherwise be leaving his/her abusive perch for another position or to another organization.

Experts point out that whatever strategy you chose to pursue, your work is critical, but the most important thing at the moment is your welfare—physical, mental, and spiritual. And your safety is paramount.

As a human being, I empathize with those who have suffered through this. Additionally, as a supervisor, I try to keep in mind that there are "two sides to every coin" and that I always need to be mindful of others' feelings.

Finally, know that challenging times do pass, and that most people are good. I find it comforting to reflect on something my grandmother used to say: “The One In Heaven Sees All.”


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