Political Games

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The enigma machine held an almost impossible complexity for generating codes. It gave the Nazis a great advantage during World War II since it was beyond the ability of cryptographers to decipher it. It was against this background that Alan Turing developed what would come to be recognized today as the computer. A brilliant mathematician, Turing himself was an enigma, in part because he was a homosexual—and in Britain at the time acting on this was a crime. Turing famously committed suicide just at the start of a brilliant career, probably because of his conviction of this “crime.” Those of you who’ve seen The Imitation Game will recognize the plot of the movie, and most people who read about technology will recognize that the story is largely factual. We like to think we’ve progressed since the days when one’s sexual orientation was considered a crime, but the enigma of the election has proven indecipherable once again.

As we begin to realize just what the price will be to have an avowed bigot in the highest office in the land, it may be helpful to decode things a bit. I, for one, have to admit that having a few days off from work and avoiding the news as much as possible, has been restorative. Watching movies, spending hours at a time writing, and actually seeing family when we’re all awake have been wonderful. Now it’s time to face the cold realities of 2017 with early morning bus rides and a looming intolerance on the horizon.

I have to admit that my mind doesn’t work like that of a code-breaker. Some of the ancient languages I studied were originally decoded by cryptographers who turned their attention to trying to understand people whose only means of communication were forms of writing long forgotten. For me, as a student, it was more a matter of trying to understand what it meant to think like someone else. This may be what is most distressing about the fascist outlook brewing in Washington—there is no desire to even attempt to look at things from the other point of view. It’s a raw celebration of power granted in a moment of weakness. We have tomes and tomes of history to demonstrate just what’s wrong with all of this, but the enigma is that those who have no interest in learning will ever read them. We continue to play a silly political game without counting what we have lost. This may be a zero-sum game after all.

Stand Up

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At first glance, we had little in common. In fact, of all the people in the room the only one I knew was my wife. We were gathered together to find ways to defend ourselves against our government. Those who normalize Trump and claim that his nearly 3 million vote loss qualifies as a mandate are blind. Those of us who have been complacent, believing that our government—even with obviously inferior candidates such as the Bush family offerings—was in the process of self-balancing have found the bar of the scales of justice broken. Founded as a democracy, we’ve “elected” our first dictator, who, if unchallenged, has already indicated that our civil and human rights are just chattels to be bargained away around the boardroom table. Once those of us who survive the next four years stagger out, I wonder if it won’t be time to establish a test to be president. A basic competency test.

For my job, I’m evaluated on basic competencies. An editor, for example, has to understand both the language in which the job is undertaken and possess a fair amount of skill in a variety of administrative tasks to perform adequately. Why doesn’t the most powerful job in the nation require a set of basic competencies? Things such as a basic vocabulary test and being able to point to foreign nations on a map? It may sound elitist, but I grew up in a working class family and although I’ve never run for political office, even I knew the value of legitimate education. Watching a politician surrounding himself by fact-deniers in a cabinet of untruth should demonstrate to even those who voted for him that we’ve put an incompetent politician in power. We’ve batted our eyes at a man we don’t know and have asked him to dance.

I’ve made it more than half a century without needing to be political. We now all have to become political. It’s distressing to see others my age saying “what can you do?” with a shrug of the shoulders. We can organize. We can resist. We can insist that the values that 3 million more voters showed in an historic win of the popular vote be represented by our government. This is not status quo ante. This is not just another political snafu. We all face a challenge to basic democracy and a level of untruth unprecedented even by politicians in the past two centuries. Don’t sit still. Get involved. Stand up for human rights, because your government elect has made it clear that it won’t.

5 Ways to Protect Women from Exploitation

Please enjoy this guest post by Daphne Holmes:

Women’s roles in society vary from region to region, with some states exhibiting greater equality than others. In the United States, for example, shifts continue to alter women’s place within social and work culture, so American society appears to be moving in a positive direction for many women. Unfortunately, women’s rights and social justice are not always promoted elsewhere, so realizing their potential is an upward struggle for most women worldwide.
Protecting women from exploitation is a moral imperative that sets progressive societies apart from others that do not share a commitment to equal treatment for all members. The following approaches help women’s causes by addressing some of the unique issues they face and supporting a fundamental guarantee of equality.

Remove Systematic Injustice

In order to protect all members of society from exploitation, social structures must be in place to accommodate each group equally, regardless of race, color, gender or creed. Government, for example, must reflect a stance that protects women equally, supporting laws that facilitate their advancement and punish those standing in their way.
A culture of respect instills and perpetuates the correct values, so adopting tolerance for diversity is an essential first-step for raising women’s profile in society. Patriarchal societies, on the other hand, leave the door open to exploitation, because women are deemed insignificant, and their right to excel is not guaranteed.

Ensure Essential Needs

Surviving as a woman in a culture that does not acknowledge equal rights can mean diminished access to basic elements of survival. To elevate women’s position in society and protect them from exploitation, fundamental needs like food, health care services, water and shelter must be available to furnish the cornerstones of personal development.

Educate and Enlighten

In many cases, ignorance and outdated thinking are behind exploitation, so education is a powerful tool for protecting victims. The benefits of education are seen in two distinct ways. General knowledge about women’s causes and education about the difficulties they face are enlightening to members of backward societies, opening their eyes to an entirely different standard of equality. And women’s education is also an important feature of equal societies, furnishing vital information that helps women rise-up from oppression. With inroads in both areas, exploitation can be seen for what it is; increasing the likelihood women will escape its ill effects.

Stop Sexualizing Women

For specific progress to occur, general changes must be made to the way women are characterized. Movies and other media, for example, sexualize women with graphic imagery and unflattering portrayals that diminish the progress women make in real life. Valuing women for reasons other than their appearance and sexuality increases their mobility within society. By recognizing their achievements and potential, women enjoy greater opportunity for advancement and suffer less at the hands of exploitation.

Increase Accountability

Women face a number of forms of exploitation worldwide, including sexual trafficking, labor mistreatment and other abuses. Unfortunately, cultural imperatives and other influences prevent most abusers from being held accountable for exploiting women. For lasting reforms to take-hold, consistent punishments must be applied to offenses against women, establishing consequences that curb abuses. And demand must also be slowed, in order to remove the incentives for trafficking and sexual exploitation. Stiff penalties for abusers and access to justice are key features of a system committed to protecting women.

Protecting women from exploitation starts within a culture of respect, acknowledging women’s valuable place in society. Through education and programs supporting women’s rights, even regions slowed by backward thinking and outdated social structure can make positive strides protecting women’s rights. And by changing views and values about women, and enforcing penalties against exploitation, society contributes to constructive outcomes, rather than turning a blind eye to harmful practices.

Author:
Daphne Holmes contributed this guest post. She is a writer from www.ArrestRecords.com and you can reach her at daphneholmes9@gmail.com.

Homeland Security

I work just two blocks from the United Nations building in New York. While out to grab my lunch yesterday I was engulfed in a peaceful, if vocal demonstration. Many people were standing along Third Avenue with a perplexed look, myself included, I suppose, when a protestor from a great, surging throng thrust a paper into my hand. Headlined “Bring Justice to Guinea,” the paper outlined the brutalities being perpetrated against the Fulani in Guinea. I have to confess to being ignorant of most of the world’s trouble spots. In a society that is relatively free, we’ve been struggling to attain any real form of social equity without success for over two and a half centuries. When I read of the atrocities against the Fulani outlined on the flier, I wondered why I’d not heard of them before. I didn’t have to wonder long, however, because many of us have not received any real education beyond what has happened in the developed world. I decided to learn what I could in the brief moments after the commute home and before bed time. I discovered that the Fulani were once an empire in West Africa. Today in Guinea, according to the information at hand, they are subject to truly horrific treatment. The flier asks, “Would you stop a genocide if you saw it coming?”

I honestly cannot know what lies behind the suffering of the Fulani in Guinea, but historically genocides have either been about, or excused as being about, proper religious belief. One of the saddest commentaries on religion is that even in varieties of religion that claim peaceable teachings and human welfare, violence frequently breaks out. The distrust of the other runs very deep, and if the clearest dividing line is religion, so be it. The very nature of our brains causes us to divide the world about us into categories. The problem with categories is that they are often mental constructs that do not correlate to the reality they attempt to describe. Take people, for example. Does anyone really ever stick to a category or a label in all ways and at all times? Are we not prone to inconsistency and evolution? To use a label as an excuse to harm another is rightly called a hate crime today. Unfortunately, hate crimes are very common, if illegal in some places.

Homeland of the human race.

Difference may be perceived at least two ways—we might respond to it negatively or positively. As a culture, all but the extremist groups seem to have accepted that people are people and deserve equal treatment. On the religious front, however, we lag far behind. Religions often make universal claims, and if a universal claim is truly universal no variation can be accepted. Our deep-seated distrust of those different from ourselves often finds its release in the guise of religion. No other human institution claims a divine prerogative for abusing others. Some people would admit that their animosity stems from basic human motives. If they act upon it, they wind up imprisoned. If, on the other hand, it becomes a crusade with divine standards proudly waving, the perpetrator is more likely to run for public office than to be sequestered in jail. Religion thrives on double standards. Until we find an objective way to assess them (those who have ears, let them hear) we will find ourselves dealing with unreasonable religious demands until our genocidal distrust spreads to the entire remainder of the world.