Showing posts with label Victims. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Victims. Show all posts

June 28, 2020

Too Much Violence

There is too much violence in the world.

Physical violence.

Verbal violence.

Emotional violence.

When there aren't body sores.

There are emotional and mental ones.

So much suffering.

The silent masses.

Their doors close.

But behind them.

And outside.

In the chaos of the streets and on the subways.

You can see it in the eyes.

And hear it in their voices.

Maybe they are black and blue.

The people are troubled.

The world is insane.

The children are especially innocent.

The weak at the hands of the strong.

Anarchy reigns where G-dliness is absent.

Why? Why? Why?

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 3, 2019

Video Of Video


We went to the art galleries in Rockville Town Center today. 

They had this video called "Neighbor" by Kanat Akar. 

It's about the life of a 13-year old refugee boy from Alleppo, Syria who migrated to Anakara, Turkey. 

The video is eerie and hypnotic as it walks you through the eyes of this little boy and the misery of his life. 

While to me it represents the dark side of life, there is so much to be explored and felt from it. 

You can't watch this without feeling like you are there on this dirty, squalor of a road to nowhere, but wanting desperately to know where it ends.  ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 5, 2019

Cannibal Soup

Two funny things came to mind about eating dinner.

The first was a joke my dad always told which was something like:
We had our mother-in-law for dinner...and boy was she good!  LOL
The second was something I heard recently about power and politics, which was:
If you're not at the table then you on the menu!
Ah, you better have a seat (and welcome voice) at the table or else you may find yourself part of the next batch of beef stew coming out of the kitchen. 

Two new ways for us to think of dinner time.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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February 2, 2018

The Hunted Becomes Hunters

I was on the treadmill and on the TV was the movie Rambo First Blood with Sylvester Stallone--he's incredible. 

There is an amazing scene where he is running, outnumbered, outgunned, and being literally hunted in the woods. 

But as he is a special forces trained warrior, he turns the tables on the bad guys. 

- The hunted become the hunter!

Life is not Hollywood.

Yet, miracles do happen, and good can overcome evil. 

Like the more than 150 brave women of the USA Olympics Gymnastics Team who testified and put the creep Larry Nassar away for the rest of his disgusting life. 

The hunted can be empowered through the justice system and do what is right and put the bad guys away--where they should stay and rot out their miserable days. 

The innocent women who suffered at his dirty hands prevail!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 29, 2015

Why Yell And Intimidate The Child?

So at the table next to us this morning at breakfast was a mean looking lady and a fidgety young child. 

The lady as we found out over the course of their dialogue was the child's grandmother. 

And she wouldn't stop berating this kid, maybe 5-years old. 

Grandmother: "Don't you dare get up from the table until I'm done with my coffee, [and then this weird chilling] thank you."

Child: Obviously looking to run around and have some fun, "But I just want to go."

Grandmother:  Who has finished her breakfast and coffee and is just making a continuing point, "You'll wait until I'm done, and I say we're ready, [and again, the long controlling pause and then] thank you."

Child: "I'm tired."

Grandmother: "Then you'll go upstairs, get back into bed and go to sleep, and no tv, just sleep--you will not move!"

Child: Looks up helplessly sad.

Grandmother: Now the truth starts to come out, "You know I don't like the way you treat you mother. Your disrespectful! And that won't go with me."

Child: Appears to not really understand what she is saying and legs dangle anxiously off the chair, but clearly very afraid to get up.

Grandmother: "You'll learn to be respectful to your mother. You will learn!"

Child: Head leaning sideways on table, says nothing. 

Grandmother: Makes child wait some more and more, and finally, "Now we can go."

Child: Child picks head up and runs to take her hand. 

Grandmother: Sneers and smirks with her power over the child--she looks like a freakin' witch. 

Whole scene was sort of heartbreaking. 

My wife and I look at each other, and shake our heads.

This was not teaching or loving, but something else and it wasn't normal or nice. 

I say, "Perhaps, when a child is abused this way--day after day, year after year--this is why they grow up and then do horrible and hateful things."

It's amazing how adults take out their issues on children--and they think it's legit--but deep down you can see it really isn't--and the children and society pays for the sins of the adults. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 10, 2015

Bigotry Reveals Her Stripes


OPEN LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

What an outrageous article in the Daily News by morally-bankrupt journalist, Linda Stasi (yeah, like the repressive secret East German police in the Cold War). 

Ms. Stasi calls out as deserving of death, the single Jewish victim of terror in the latest terror attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 and injured 21, where according to Stasi only "13 innocent people are dead", because the one "Born Again Christian/Messianic Jew" was what she judges as a bigot. 

Stasi tries to create some sort of ridiculous moral equivalency between mass murdering terrorists who pledged allegiance to ISIS and mowed down dozens of municipal employees in California with the Jewish guy who posted some stuff on Facebook. 

Vehemently anti-Republican, Stasi, lashes out at conservative, Mr. Thalasinos with posts that were supportive of  conservative political commentator, Ann Coulter and "pro-NRA" and "anti-Planned Parenthood" -- neither of which are bigoted things, but are conservative political views in America!

Similarly, Stasi accuses the victim, Thalasinos of being "anti-government" for questioning things like whether politicians are "bought and paid for" or are "moron[s]" -- when Stasi should be aware that approval ratings for politicians (e.g. Congress) has slipped to a dismal 11%.

Finally, Stasi goes after Thalasinos for an inappropriate negative comment about a Muslim Million Man march and for saying G-d should destroy, Axis of Evil, Iran that has repeatedly threatened to Annihilate friend and Ally, Israel as well as threatens the entire Western world. 

Apparently, Stasi is quite hateful of many many people as she is neither concerned about Iranian threats of Jewish Genocide, dishonoring victims of terror (which she has a history of doing such as with Charlie Hebdo), or accepting those with opposing political views to hers (i.e. Conservatives). 

She has defamed the memory of the dead victim of terror, Mr. Thalasinos, and the Daily News owes it to itself and its readers to immediately dismiss the one true hateful bigot in this story, Ms. Linda Stasi.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Blake Emrys)
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May 30, 2015

Part 1 - G-d Is Good, (Some) People Not So

I am quite disabled after hip surgery, but I am livid. 

There was an article in the New York Times about a Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt who likes to take children and young adults naked to the sauna and Mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) and watch!

Some even reported that he "gawked at a naked 12-year old," "invited a 15-year old for intimate night time conversations during which he frequently put his hand on the boy's leg," and invited himself into a 17-year old's living room and tried repeatedly to persuade him to change into a bathrobe."

The article describes how this has been going on for around 30 years and the Rabbi was asked in various forms to stop by the Riverdale Jewish Center synagogue, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), and even investigated by Yeshiva University (YU). 

Interestingly, this is happening after the "2012 sex scandal involving top Rabbi's from Yeshiva University, another with Rabbi Baruch Lanner with "sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of scores of teens" in his charge in the National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), and most recently, the 6-year sentencing for "videotaping more than 150 women" (going to the Mikvah) of Rabbi Freundel of Kesher Synagogue (right here in Washington, D.C.). 

All of these sex scandals involved highly prominent rabbi's (and I feel sick to my stomach even using that esteemed word for them), and at the time this abuse was going on and for years after, no one wanted to believe this was happening!

A friend posted this article about Rabbi Rosenblatt on my Facebook page --we both know this Rabbi from Riverdale, NY where we grew up--and asked "What have you to say to this?"

Well let me tell you...many have come forward for the NYT's article and others on my Facebook page and behind the scenes to confirm knowledge of Rabbi's Rosenblatt's gawking and other inappropriate behaviors with children.

- "I refused to consider having him perform my marriage ceremony because of this and another of his 'unusual habits.'"

- "Not only was this common knowledge personally--it was known institutionally, by both YU and the RCA."

Yet others choose to continue the disbelief (some excerpts):

- "I believe these rumors to be vicious slander."

- "I want to believe some weird habits are being blown out of proportion."

So let me tell you that not knowing something is happening or not wanting to believe does not make it so. 

I and others I have spoken to remember children being invited to play racquetball as I remember it (squash in the article) and to go to the Sauna with the Rabbi afterward. 

As someone described for the NYT article about going to the Mikvah with the Rabbi, I can attest that this similarly happened to me PERSONALLY. 

Before I got married, the Rabbi accompanied me to the Mikvah for the ritual bathing which he said was needed before marriage, and just as the 15-year old victim in the article described, the Rabbi was "watching me" and I remember the Rabbi also telling me that he had to in order to see my whole body immersed.

I also remember feeling his look at me being off and feeling sick afterwards, like I just wanted to wash again and again. 

However for others referenced in the NYT article, it was much worse, "The routine was always the same: 'Always the hand on the shoulder or the leg, always the hand touching some part of your body'…The rabbi’s touch 'was very seductive and it was very manipulative in a way.'"

Unfortunately, as is typical, it is easier to blame the victims or disavow them, then acknowledge a deep-rooted sick and evil in our society by some who are at the top of the pecking order religiously and otherwise.

To be completely clear, the chilul Hashem is NOT with the victims, but RATHER it is with the man who for over 30 years continued this sick ruse, even after he was asked repeatedly to stop his inappropriate behavior with children and young adults. 

For those who choose to continue to look the other way, say how nice and scholarly these Rabbis are, and make every excuse in the book, rather than demand a FULL investigation and justice, all I can say is they are being complicit! 

One last thing I will say, there are others in that community that were involved.  

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 17, 2013

Some Game This Is


I remember as a kid, my grandfather lived down the block from us on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. 

He was old and not in the best of health with a heart condition, hearing aids, and more. 

One day, he was coming home from the bank, and he went into the elevator in his building. 

He was followed by a punk, who after the elevator door closed, proceeded to grab my grandfather and choke him until he was unconscious. 

The thug took his wallet and left my grandfather on the floor of the elevator. 

Now, today I saw on the news about the Knockout Attack Game--and some "game" this is.

The attacker runs up behind the person unbeknownst and with full force slams their fist against a person head, knocking them unconscious, and when successful, this is done with one punch! 

In other cases, an entire gang will attack, punching and kicking a victim until they stop moving. 

While I couldn't locate the exact video that happened in a neighborhood in NY to a Jewish woman, this video of an attack on a Muslim girl in London about a year ago, approximates it very closely. 

While some victims of these attacks end up with broken jaws, skulls, shattered teeth, internal injuries, bleeding and more, others are not so lucky and end up dead. 

I never forgot what happened to my grandfather and the cowardly schmuck that attacked this old, helpless man--but at least, he apparently did it for the money. 

In these knockout attacks, when they ask the attackers why they do it, the response is for the fun and laughs. 

What a commentary of our society, when people brutally attack other people--not for money, revenge, self-defense, or principle--but simply to see others needlessly suffer and to take a form of intense joy in it. 

Perhaps, there are certain crimes for which the L-rd above must look down and mete out his own version of justice, in a way that restores order to this world of hope and despair.
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November 2, 2013

Exposing Rape

On the Metro in Washington, D.C. there is a sign that warns people about sexual harassment. 

In the crowded rush hour trains, people can take advantage and try something.

But the advertisement reminds people that if they do the wrong thing, they are the ones who will be exposed--and punished. 

This is in contrast to a story today in the Wall Street Journal about a gang rape of a 16 year-old girl in Kenya. 

She was attacked in June--while walking home from her grandfather's funeral!

Six men ambushed her, took turns raping her, and then threw her unconscious body in a toilet pit--as if to say that she was just a thing for their sexual satisfaction and nothing but a proverbial piece of sh*t herself (excuse the directness here). 

But to make matters worse, the horrific act was not punished, but mocked. 

The rapists were "told to pay for some pain medicine for the girl and mow the grass at the police station"--I am feeling sick again!

I write this blog for this victim and for women everywhere to try to do my little part to expose the continued injustices against them--from inequality and unsafe conditions in the workplace to sexual harassment and rape in society. 

Perhaps, if we all expose the injustices, we can finally make it unacceptable and rub it out of existence evermore. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 31, 2013

Letters Of Hope

This was a sign in Starbucks in Gaithersburg, MD that got my attention.

It was different--it wasn't advertising for a local garage sale, real estate, a tutor, or cleaning service. 

Instead, it asks people to "write an anonymous letter to a survivor of abuse, violence, rape, trauma, or bullying."

When I got home, I looked at their website, aletterforyou.org.

I saw some of the letters that had been written on the home page as well as an archive with monthly letters going back to March 2013.

It was inspiring that people write and submit these letters of empathy, love, caring, and unity. 

And that someone would advertise for these, collect and post them for abuse victims to find some solace in. 

While of course, we gain strength through belief in G-d and a higher purpose in life, perhaps the real message of this letter writing project is that one major way for people to heal from the hurt caused by mean, misguided, or evil individuals is through the love and caring of good people. 

While the hurt and abuse of the past can never be undone, the charity and giving of the here and now can provide hope for a better tomorrow. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 29, 2013

Outrage At Bogus Judge Baugh

Injustice, Injustice does Montana Judge Todd Baugh pursue. 

G-d, hope you are listening...

BBC reported about this bogus Judge Baugh who called a 14-year old girl that was raped by her 49-year old teacher, "as much in control of the situation" as the man who assaulted her. 

The poor girl later committed suicide, which her mother probably rightfully attributed to the distress from the rape and aftermath. 

And what does the judge do to mete out justice? He sentences the rapist to 15-years in prison AND suspends the sentence for all but 31 days with 1 day time already served. 

The victim was raped and is dead and the rapist gets not 30-years, but 30 days!

While the judge who is under pressure to resign has all of a sudden expressed his deep remorse, it is almost unbelievable that this is someone charged with seeing that justice is served. 

Shock, disbelief, outrage...what can you say about such a justice. 

While there is certainly a time and place for empathy, compassion, and mercy--would anyone in their right mind, see this as one of those cases? 

For all who believe that this world is not the end, but just the journey, I'd venture to guess that the 14-year old girl is not done either with her rapist or the judge who mocked her suffering and death. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 8, 2013

Rape Crisis Nation

I've been wanting to capture this in a photo for some time. 

I took this picture from a moving Metro train and one with incredibly dirty windows at that. 

It is the phone number for a 24-hour rape crisis hotline.

Underneath the phone number is a picture of a hand picking up a telephone to call. 

It is written as graffiti on the wall facing the train tracks. 

And around it are radio towers, telephone polls, what looks like transformers, and a barbed wire fence.

It is quite an ominous setting for the ad placement. 

To me, rape is one of the most horrendous and brutal crimes. 

Ironically, it physically and emotionally violates a person through the very means that most people make love and life. 

My first exposure to rape was in the opening scene to the movie Death Wish, where Charles Bronson's wife and daughter are brutalized--I saw this movie as a little boy and it left a huge imprint on me. 

Over the course of my life, I have known people who have been both raped and molested and it changed them forever. 

I found these rape statistics online, and even though rape is down 60% since 1993, 1 out of every 6 women in this country experiences a rape or attempted rape at some point.

Also, it means that 20 years ago, the percentage was about 26% or 1 out 4.

The Atlantic-2 years ago--reported similar numbers with 18.3% of women who were raped or where rape was attempted. 

Honestly, I think the numbers may even be higher, since so many cases go unreported, and according to the American Medical Association is one of the most unreported crimes. 

The numbers are outrageously high for a western, modern, civilized country or any nation!

What is even more shocking is that the U.S. is listed as the 6th highest country for reported rape. 

Perhaps a large part of this is because we report more frequently in this country, but also maybe because we are more free and affluent and thereby, people are able to partake of vices such as alcohol and drugs, which are associated with sexual violence. 

Rape is a horrific act and in medieval times, the crime of rape was often punished with castration or even death.

In Death Wish, Bronson became a semi-crazed vigilante and sought out his own form justice.

Today, in real life, we provide the victims a hotline number to call and the rapists--if they even get reported--and caught, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced--may get some time or not, who really knows, but we should all care. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 19, 2013

Women, Not Things

In the context of the brutal raping and murder last year of a 23-year old women on a bus to the disgusting rape of a 5-year girl more recently in India, the Wall Street Journal (17 May 2013) has an article on "To Wed Your Rapist, or Not: Indian Women on Trial."

It is an eye-opening article about the prejudices and horrible injustices that women face in India and other countries--and it's not only due to the misogyny of some, and power- and pleasure-seeking of others, but it is based also on justices, lawyers, law enforcement, legislators, and spiritual figures in society that perpetuate the oppression of woman. 

Some societies are stacking the deck, so women cannot reasonably win due protection--from legislators who do not write and pass substantive and equitable laws to protect women, to law enforcement that will not commit the resources to pursue the rapists and women beaters, to lawyers and judges that raise ridiculous demands for proving guilt and sentencing, and to spiritual leaders that blame the victim rather than hold the perpetrators to task. 

These people who are supposed to bring justice to the victims, instead add insult to injury. Some of these include:

- Ruling against rape victims because they didn't successfully fight back. For example, a "lower court ruled that she was lying citing among other things the fact that she could have scratched the man's genitals, but didn't."

- Professing that victims are at fault for causing the rape, such as by wearing skirts, having male friends (i.e. "asking for it"), or otherwise dressing or behaving immodestly. At the extreme, one prominent spiritual figure actually held that the victim could've avoided trouble if she had "chanted a prayer, taken one of her attackers by the hand, and called him 'brother'"--as if one can convince an attacker not to attack by holding their hands and gushing brotherhood.

- Teaching that rape is not possible for strong women or those of a labor caste. A 2005 textbook stated, "In normal circumstances, it is not possible for a single man to hold sexual intercourse with a healthy adult female in full possession of her senses against her will." Oh, really? I doubt these teachers would like to test this hypothesis on their beloved mothers, sisters, wives, or daughters.

In Indian and other societies where women are so degraded, there is a standing notion of a rape victim having to marry their rapist--to make things right. Yet, how can this resolve anything? As if the incident of rape is not enough, the victim must endure a lifetime of rape--and by an individual without character or soul, who could commit such a brutal, violent act to begin with. 

Forcing the victim to marry the rapist does not spare a woman the challenge of marrying normally after such an traumatic act, but rather it precludes her from ever having an opportunity to rid herself of the pain and shame, and go on to be with someone who truly loves and respects her as a person, and not an object. 

As long as societies marginalize women through their beliefs, teachings, and systems of injustice, women will not be spared the agonizing harm they suffer by men who abuse their status of power. But as the old saying goes, "what goes around, comes around,"--what is incredible is that so many of these people just see it going, but don't see it coming. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 16, 2013

So Sorry, Charlie

In the old Starkist Tuna commercials, Charlie the cool tuna thinks he's all that, but he keeps getting rejected by Starkist, because he's just not good enough and then the narrator comes on and says, "Sorry Charlie!"

These days, from my perspective, people often do not take responsibility when they mess up and arrogantly  they can't bring themselves to just say, "I'm sorry"--it was my responsibility, I messed up, and I am committed to doing better in the future.

It's really not so hard to say sorry, if you let your ego go. Most often, from what I've seen, unless the boss, spouse, or friend is just a jerk, saying sorry goes a long way to making things right--it shows you care about the relationship, your human and fallible (like the rest of us) and you are able to introspect, self-help, and learn from mistakes. 

In contrast, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (18 April 2013) says sillily, "Don't Apologize"--that refusing to apologize makes a person feel better about themselves, more powerful, and less of a victim.

Certainly, we don't want to apologize for things we didn't do, when we really don't mean it, or to give someone on a pure power binge the satisfaction of making us beg--in those cases, we should be truthful and respectful and set the record straight. We should also, make it clear that we will not be victimized by anyone, at anytime.

But when we are wrong--and it's not easy for everyone to recognize or admit it--just say so. It won't kill you and you'll usually see the other person lighten up on the punishing diatribe and maybe even admit their part in it or the stupid things they may have done at other times. 

No one is so perfect--despite some very large egos out there. And the bigger the ego, the bigger the jerk. The humbler the person, the nicer and more workable they are. 

Don't apologize for things you didn't do or to satisfy someone's bullying, but do apologize when you could've done better and you are committed to improving yourself and building the relationship. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 6, 2013

The Help Button Is Only A Kiosk Away

Great job by the ANAR (Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk) Foundation in Europe to aid abused children. 

The ad is hidden from adults, and the message is only visible to children--based on their height and angle of viewing. 

To the abused child, they see: "If someone hurts you, phone us and we'll help" with a number to call to get help in an anonymous and confidential way. 

To the accompanying adult, they see: "Sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it."

This is a great reminder to adults to behave themselves in how they treat children, and a way to get critical assistance information to children discreetly. 

Learning from this, I'd love to see a similar campaign here in the U.S. to help child abuse victims, as well as other variations to help abused women, human trafficking victims, and others--by finding technological innovations to help them get the message in ways that their abusers don't necessarily detect and which can't easily be blocked from their victims.

Perhaps, one way to do this is to widely deploy emergency, push button, help kiosks where victims can easily reach out for assistance, where otherwise they would have no way to call for help--such as when their phones, money, passports, and so on have been confiscated. 

Their are a lot of people hurting out there and we need to get to them to tell them that there is help available, that they will be protected (and mean it), and that they can easily reach out and we'll be right there for them. 

Now that's an easy button to really help people. ;-)
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February 1, 2013

Hold That Smartphone!


So coming home yesterday, there is this lady sprawled out, sleeping on the Metro.

Lots of people sleep on the train...especially after a long day and when the weather is the pits out there.

However, this lady falls asleep with her smartphone just lying out on her lap--no hands on--just plop sitting on her skirt. 

A couple of guys to my right start laughing and then saying what's that lady doing--someone is going to steal her phone.

They nudge another passenger standing in front of the lady to tap her and let her know.

The passenger begrudging does it and then the guys yell over from a couple of row away--"Hey lady! You better hold on to your phone or someone's going to grab it and run!"

The lady opens her eyes sees the phone just sprawled out on her lap, fidgets with it for a moment, and then of all things--she just falls right back to sleep again with the phone laying there unattended. 

These two guys on the train are roaring about it--one starts saying that he saw someone grab another person's device on the train just the other day and run right out the train door with it. 

At this point, the lady is sound asleep and now snoring away on top of it and her smartphone is rising and falling with her laborious breathing. 

Hey folks, this lady may not have gotten enough sleep the night before, been drinking a little too much, or may not have been the brightest bulb to begin with--but we've all got to be careful out there--hold unto your valuables and your smartphones is quite that. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 29, 2012

Rape Outrage!

On the Night of December 16--coming home from watching a movie at the New Delhi Mall, a 23-year old woman was savagely gang-raped and her male companion, who tried to defend her, was beaten while on a bus being driven around the Indian capital for 45 minutes!

I iust want to stand with those protesting against the barbarism of the people who brutally gang-raped, tortured, and grotesquely inserted a metal rod inside her, causing her such bodily damage that even a team of eight specialists at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore that specializes in multi-organ transplants, could not save her. 

The woman had such severe internal injuries that most of her intestines had to be removed, and according to CBC News, she suffered from organ failure, a lung infection, as well as brain damage. 

After the rape, torture, and beatings, the victims were stripped and thrown off the moving bus.

It is sick and evil that the driver not only stood idly by and did nothing to help her, but has been charged as well in the actual rape!

I am deeply saddened not only by the gang rape, but also according to the Daily Times that they happen with such frequency that they are "rarely [even] reported in the Indian press." 

This is another wake up call for people of good conscience to stand against those that commit evil and to not be silent in the face of such atrocities.

The cries of this woman, and other victims of violence like her, can be heard throughout the world. 

She will not be forgotten, and to those savages may justice be done--in this world or the next by the all-mighty G-d who hears our prayers.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Daniel Crompton)

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March 25, 2012

Don't Let Them Fling It Onto You

So this guy has a job where he is at the front of a line of people passing buckets of sh*t to the next guy in the line. 

A stranger comes along and asks him what he is doing--"what is your job?"

The man passing the buckets replies, "I am a manager."

The stranger looks askew and quite puzzled, he asks, "What makes you think you're a manager?" 

The man at the front of the line answers "because I don't take no sh*t from anybody!" :-)

And so it goes, we work on "the line" whether passing buckets or pushing papers, and someone in the front thinks they are the boss or superior--and as someone from the military once told me, "I don't take sh*t. I give sh*t!" 

Unfortunately, for those of us who humbly go to work to do our jobs, the prevalence of workplace bullies--who push their weight around can make our (work) life very unpleasant and unproductive. 

A Zogby poll in 2007 found that 49% of workers had experienced or witnessed workplace bullying--and this included all sorts of harassment such as verbal abuse, sabotaging someones job, and abusing their authority.

Workplace bullying is being called a "silent epidemic" with a full 37% or 54 million workers in the U.S. having suffered at the hands of a workplace bully. 

The results, of course, can be devastating not only for the person's job, but often they (45%) suffer adverse psychological and physical health impacts. 

Further, as we know, when people suffer, their families usually suffer along with them, so the ultimate impact in terms of the number of people affected is disproportional to those those who experience bullying firsthand. 

Aside from the people impact of bullying, the organization and its mission suffers in terms of elevated absenteeism, decreased morale, lower productivity, and stunted innovation. 

This is why aside from the basic humanitarian aspects, an organization should be extremely watchful for and weed out bullies in the workplace. 

However, when bullies, are front and center in the leadership ranks of the organization, the problem is all the greater, because others lower in the hierarchy, but also at senior levels may be hesitant to address the issue. 

They are scared to confront the bully as perhaps they should be given the bully's threatening posture and deeds. 

But the answer is not to get personal, but rather to make it objective--know the laws and policies that protect you, document the events, identify any witnesses, discuss with organization representatives charged with investigating possible wrong-doing, and seek legal counsel, where appropriate.

Probably, the most important thing is to be clear that like the manager at the front of the line, you do not accept sh*t from anyone--that you and your family's health and well-being deserve at least that much.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to EverJean)

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March 24, 2012

Where Is The Outrage?

This past week a self-professed Al Qaeda jihadist, trained in the militant camps of Pakistan and Afghanistan murdered in cold blood three Jewish children and a teacher (who happened to be the father of the two boys killed, ages 3 and 6).  

The 8-year old girl pictured above was the beautiful daughter of the school's headmaster and was yanked by hair while the killer reloaded his gun and then shot her in the head, point blank. 

A fifth victim, another student, a boy age 17 is critically wounded in the hospital.

The Killer, Mohamed Merah had just the prior week, in two attacks, murdered 3 black French solders as well. 

So why did he do it?  He tells us it was to avenge Palestinian children and for the French foreign interventions, as he said on the video "you kill my brothers, now I kill you."

So now this terrorist with an extensive rap sheet (as many as 18 prior acts of violence) is dead, and yet insanely, the terrorists consider him a martyr.

And while condolences are heard to all victims, is there sufficient outrage at the murder of innocent school children and terrorists' complete disregard for human life and societal norms? 

More than a decade after the tragedy of 9/11 with nearly 3,000 murdered, followed by almost 6,400 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, we still cannot fully come to terms with the enemy we face and the threats they pose.   

The people killed in terrorist attacks around the world--whether in a school yard in Toulouse, a luxury hotel in Mumbai, train attacks in London and Madrid, a nightclub attack in the Philippines, a plane flight over Lockerbie Scotland, a truck bomb at the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, a homicide attack at a pizza parlor in Jerusalem, and countless others around the world have stained our consciences with the blood of innocents, so that the girl pictured, killed this week with a bullet to the brain is no longer special to anyone except her family, friends, and people who loved her. 

The blood of the victims of terrorism is not cheap and neither is that of Jewish children--it is high time for outrage at the enemy that takes human life so gleefully. 

(Source Photo: here)

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March 17, 2012

Goldman Sachs Reputation Sacked?

When Greg Smith published his editorial in the New York Times (14 March 2012) on the alleged debased culture and greedy exploits at Goldman Sachs, this was far from surprising after the many misdeeds of Corporate America over the last decade that saw the rise of Sarbanes Oxley in 2002 and the massive financial bailouts in 2008, which does not represent who we really are and can be. 

It's not that Corporate America is bad, it's just that they frequently get rewarded for doing the wrong things

All too often, promotions, corner offices, year-end bonuses, and stock options are the rewards for racking in profits, but are not necessarily tied to innovation and/or customer satisfaction.

I believe over the years this has taken many word forms from snake oil salesman, charlatans, spoilers, and many others.

Greg Smith who worked for a dozen years at Goldman--in of all things "recruiting and mentoring"--described the venerable Goldman Sachs as a place where:

- "Interest of clients continue to be sidelined" 

- "Decline in the firm's moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to it's long-term survival."

- If you make enough money for the firm...you will be promoted."

- At sales meetings, "not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients." 

- Leaders callously "talk about ripping off clients" and call their clients "muppets," a British slang terms for "idiots."

The funny-sad thing is that after all these horrific accusations, Goldman has not come out and full-on-full repudiated these claims. 

On March 15, the Wall Street Journal reported "Goldman Plays Damage Control" saying that "it will examine the claims."  

Rather than denying the accusations in specific ways and pointing out their true moral fiber, the Chairman in a memo to employees chose to downplay the accuser calling him only one "of nearly 12,000 vice presidents" of 30,000 employees. In other words, this is just the opinion of a lone wolf. 

More generally, the Chairman wrote coyly that this does "not reflect our values, our culture, and how the vast majority of people at Goldman Sachs think of the firm and the work it does on behalf of our clients."

In another article, in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (19-25 March 2012), it states similarly that "Goldman Sachs would have you believe it's learned from the financial crisis. Don't be fooled."

The article goes on to list a scathing history of scandal from Goldman Sachs Trading Corporation that "blew up" after the stock market crash of 1929 to Goldman's settlement with the SEC for a whopping $550 million in 2010. Further, it describes a current conflict of interest case with El Paso and Kinder Morgan that they call a Goldman "heads-I-win, tails-you-lose approach."

While I have always respected the likes of Goldman Sachs for their unbelievable brainpower and talent, the accusations against them and by extension against others in Corporate America is very concerning.  

The notion that customers are but idiots for Corporate America to pillage and plunder is not democracy and capitalism, but greed and evil.  

When we no longer value a creed of service above pure profiteering then moral bankruptcy is just a prelude to financial bankruptcy. 

No company can stay afloat and be competitive over time, if they do not work to strengthen their balance sheets, income statements, and cash flows.

However, at the same time, no competitor can thrive for long on a culture of greed and duplicity that sees people as victims to spoil, rather than as customers to serve.

While I do not know the details of Greg Smith's accusations, this last part I know in my heart to be truth. 


(Source Photo: here)

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