The Institution of Violence and Injustice of Abuse

We find it so easy to call others to action over what are really menial, inconsequential things. For instance, how many people take to Twitter to pour out their outcry over the cancellation of television programs on major cable networks? How many people will start an Internet petition to bring back a certain flavor or brand of soda? How many people out there frothed at the mouth and ‘literally could not even’ over the disbranding and discontinuation of Twinkies just a few years ago? Our passion as a people runs high, yes, but are we not focusing on entirely the wrong things?

Can we not find something that actually matters to be upset about, because, I assure you, there are almost no limits, sadly, to the awful things that actually matter, yet are widely ignored. Yes, we should be upset, but not about TV shows or cola.

How disconnected and divided as a world society do we need to be in order to focus on petty instances of our own differences and mundane, trivial matters like voting for a new flavor of potato chip? As disconnected and divided as it takes to ignore the facilitated violence against women, children, and animals everywhere one can look. This is not new information. We know that women and children are sold and trafficked. We know that children go hungry each night. We know that the elderly and mentally infirm are often abused and neglected. We know that animals are tortured for fun, literally, are beaten, are abandoned to the cold and elements. What does it say about us that we find time for frivolities such as those listed above (and more), but cannot seem to come together against abuse?

Partly, it says that we’ve lost some of our soul. We used to know what it was to stand up for the underdog and fight for those that could not fight for themselves, but part of that has fled away, anesthetized by the static and comforting sounds of our television screens and the voices of those who cleverly instruct us on how to think, feel, and act. Isn’t it time to empower others by empowering ourselves? Isn’t it about time that we refocus, reconnect, and once again become the people that give a damn? If we don’t, then who will? If we don’t, then what next, or, more likely who is next? When the world runs out of victims as it currently stands, who becomes the next victim? Is it you?

Hopefully, it will never come to that. Hopefully, we’ve now come far enough to reflect on what we have allowed ourselves to become and put our metaphorical foot down. Why should another young girl miss out on the happiness of youth just to be taken as a child bride far away from her home? Where is the outrage for that?

Some people excuse their apathy as defeatism, disguising their silence into learned passivity, because, according to them, it’s hopeless. According to some people, there’s nothing we can actually do to improve the station of those that suffer. If these international slavery rings exist, what can an individual do to stop them? If animals die every day at the hands of abusers and neglect, what can I do to ease their pain?

What individuals do, what they have always done, in times such as these, to respond to the call of action that each of us should inherently feel at the knowledge of suffering and injustice, is to collect. This is our time to come together, rather than split apart, or continue hiding behind our television screens and smart phones because it’s too hard to support causes that matter. We need to stop making excuses. The suffering of others is real, and, no matter which country the victim comes from, no matter what color their skin may be, no matter if they have hands or paws, their pain is significant. It matters.

No Right To Bear Arms

In the wake of terrorist attacks in France and the threat of similar atrocities in the UK, a call appeared on Facebook for civilians to be allowed to buy guns with which to fight back against their possible assailants. This prompted a comment to the effect that if civilians were allowed to bear arms in the UK, they wouldn’t need terrorists, they would slaughter one another as they do in the USA. The author of this comment was called a fool and also informed that Jesus wept when he was born. Name-calling usually reveals an absence of rational argument, and it is hard to imagine any tears being shed over the denial of the right to own a gun.

Another correspondent on Facebook commented that his weapons had never slaughtered anyone and they remained where he had left them. This was welcome news, but if the weapons are never used, why have them in the first place. There are cases of even seemingly well secured weapons being stolen by criminals or fired accidentally by children. It is true that most sane individuals may own guns for a lifetime and never allow them to be used to harm anyone, but it is not sane people who commit atrocities; it is the combination of insane or immature people and guns.

Young men, and some young women, in every society become frustrated with the impediments placed in their way, or disillusioned by their lack of progress in life. Often, these feelings are expressed in anger and result in conflict. If guns are available the result can be mass murder, as has happened on so many school campuses in the USA. If guns are not available, the result will usually be limited to a few black eyes and broken noses. Eyes and noses can usually be healed, and the perpetrators can be reformed, but even in the most advanced countries the cures for death are limited.

In a perfect society it might be possible to determine with complete certainty who was mentally stable enough to own a gun, and restrict the issue of licences to this select band. In the real world, however, guns will inevitable get into the hands of people who are insane, immature or of criminal intent. The only practical answer is a complete ban on civilian gun ownership. Criminals will always find ways to arm themselves, but the police have the advantage of knowing that all guns they find are illegal guns; there can be no arguments about a right to hold onto them, and every weapon can be seized. History has shown that countries which follow this policy have far less slaughter on their streets, and in their classrooms, than those which uphold a right to bear arms.

When History Repeats

When history recalls the first two decades of the 21st century, providing that there is history to recall, the descriptive narrative would probably sound like a broken record. The miscues, the what if’s, and the should haves are all in retrospect of a period in which hindsight was the only factor that prevailed. The events during the first part of the 21st century proved once again history so often repeats.

The cast of characters are always different but the scenarios are very reminiscent of previous episodes that have played out all through-out the history of mankind. With the tempest of religious fanatics within the Muslim world waging a holy war against Western cultures today is synonymous with events that have already been played out all through history. But, as always when religions whose ideologies, and cultures, are as different as night and day intermix there are always certain fanatic factions within each religion that continue to engineer the conflicts that have been going on for centuries.

At the beginning of the first century marked the first stage when religions ignited a tempest of violent reprisals. It was the Romans who persecuted the new religion of Christianity. And for the next three hundred years Christians were brutally attacked by the Roman Empire. But, in 313, Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome issued the Edict of Milan decriminalizing Christian worship that began a three hundred year reprieve form religious persecution. The emperor Constantine became the first great patron of the Christian Church.

It wasn’t until 570 when Muhammad the last prophet and messenger of God was born that set in motion the beginning of another great struggle for a more dominate religion. A religion that would turn Muhammad’s vision of Islam into a great quest and conquest to convert other nations to Islam. The stage was set now for Muslim domination through-out the Mid-East. By the middle of the sixth century the Islamic religion was the one belief that was sweeping across much of the Middle East. What Muhammad did during his life opened the door for the Islamic religion to use what ever means necessary to spread the Muslim faith. The bloody battles for religious domination that ensued are a testament to the will of Muhammad and the Islamic faith. By now the Islamic faith was spreading much faster than Christianity did centuries earlier.

Over time two distinct religions, Christianity and Islam separated by different cultures both took on a more assertive role in expanding their influence through-out the known world. Inner factions within the Muslim nations whose own interpretation of Muhammad’s teachings and the Quran began the first wave of open aggression against the Christian world. All through the years after Muhammad’s death the Muslims began a military campaign that spread through-out the whole Mid-East and into Northern Africa. By 700 A.D. practically every nation in the Mid-East was under Muslim control.

As the Islamic religion began to spread into the western part of Africa they were now ready to expand their conquests into Spain and southern France. During this period both Muslim and Christian faiths could be just as barbaric in securing that their religion continued to spread. To distinct cultures with one objective both on a collision course with destiny and by 732 A.D. in central France was the setting for the real first violent clash between Muslims and Christians. Previously, by 711 the Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula from North Africa, Today’s, Spain and Portugal and by 732 they had reached Southern France.

One of histories most influential battles that would have had far reaching consequences if the out come was different took place on a gray morning in October of 732 between the cities of Poitiers and Tours in central France. The chance to have history be rewritten was lost when the Franks prevailed. But, in the end it was Charles Martel the leader of the Franks and Charlemagne’s great grand father, whose oath and loyalty was Christianity prevailed and drove the Moors from France. For the next two hundred years the Moors and the Islamic faith continued their expansion and influence through-out Africa and the Mid-East.

It wasn’t until about 1060 A.D. that the Moors were again on the shores of Spain. This time El Cid was the first known Christian military leader to use his friendship with Muslim leaders to forge an alliance. During this time they both shared a common belief that two distinct religions and cultures can amicably coexist. But, it was the Christian religion under the Pope Urban II during this same period was firmly committed to routing out the Muslims that have taken hold of Jerusalem to what many historians feel as the greatest influencer of why many of the Islamic religion continues to harbor a deep seeded condemnation toward Western cultures and Christian beliefs. Some would argue that all the Crusades did was incur the wrath of the Islamic faith, massacre whole populations both Christians and Muslims and create perceptions which developed into a history of war, religious nationalism and continual confrontations that are still prevalent and on-going today.

Many point out that the Crusades were a series of wars of bloodlust, greed and power. We have to realize that war many times is really an escalated conflict of interest usually over money and/or resources. When history repeats especially in the outcome of war is that one culture advances due to newly acquired resources or advancements made from war itself. That being said the rise of Islamic Extremist groups today such as Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups are waging a holy war that has nothing to do with gaining advances in either technology or resources but an outright savage intent to annihilate anyone who doesn’t conform to their radical ideology.

For the next 600 years after the Crusades the Islamic religion became splintered into two distinct factions. It should be noted that the split actually began in the year 632. It was in that year the prophet Muhammad died, and a schism came about as 2 main groups of Muslims disputed who should succeed Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community. One group supported the ascension of Abu Bakr a friend of Muhammad’s, and father of his wife Aisha to be the leader. This group supporting Abu Bakr and his method of selection as leader became the Sunnis. The other group became the Shiites. This group was opposed to Abu Bakr’s becoming caliph after Muhammad’s death and the method through which he was chosen. Instead, they believed Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib, should succeed him as caliph.

Abu Bakr and Ali ibn Abi Talib represented more than just themselves in this split. It was the manner and method of their being designated the rightful successors to Muhammad that are at the root of why there are still two distinct factions within the Islamic faith. While Sunnis believed the Quran endorsed a public consensus in who should be caliph, the Shiites believed such a decision was ordained by Muhammad himself and even commanded by God and not a matter of public consensus among Muslims, but God’s command alone, to an extent a divine right.

As time went on these two separate factions within the Muslim communities continued to be the sources of conflict and eventual violent reprisals. By the 16th century the Ottoman Turks who were Sunnis invaded what is today’s Palestine. For the next few centuries the Ottoman Empire continued to gain control over most of the Mid-East. When World War I broke out the British with the help of T.E. Lawrence recruiting many Saudi Arabia tribes to join forces with the British finally defeated the Ottoman Turks. Another factor in the development of instability in the Mid-East was the fact that the Jewish population was continually migrating into Palestine. The League of Nations however following the first World War gave Great Britain the mandate that essentially meant Palestine was to be governed by England. The British promised to help the Jewish population make Palestine their homeland. Meanwhile the Arabs felt that they were betrayed by the British in allowing a Jewish population settle into what the Arabs thought was their land.

During the War T.E. Lawrence was the one person who was mainly responsible for uniting the Arabs in achieving their victory over the Ottoman Turks. What Lawrence tried to accomplish for the Arab nation was to unify Syria, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia into one independent country. It was through his steadfast belief that by unifying these countries peace would finally be a realization through-out this whole region. Unifying the Sunni’s and the Shiites into one nation was his dream. A dream that was never realized because of the British when the Balfour Declaration was ratified. What this did only contributed to a continuation of the destabilization of the whole Middle East.

Right after the war from 1918-1920 T.E. Lawrence and King Fausi the Arabs actually began the unification but, again it was the British with the signing of the Sykes-Picot agreement that sealed the fate for future turmoil to erupt through-out the Middle East. This agreement gave the French control of Syria and the British control of Palestine. What T.E. Lawrence tried to do in helping the Arab nations unite was undermined by the European Nations who were predominately Christian.

There is much speculation that had the British and the French allowed T. E. Lawrence to succeed in helping the Arabs become a united independent country combining Palestine, Syria and Saudi Arabia that today the Mid-East would not be the center of civil war and the bed of terrorist organizations that have mutated from the origins of the Islamic faith. Many have concluded that having Palestine incorporated into this one Arab nation the nation of Israel would have been established in Turkey long before 1948. The virulent rise of terrorism today would have been avoided and two opposite factions of the Muslim faith would be separate eliminating the possibility of territorial domination that we are seeing today.

A lesson to be learned when history repeats especially in the Mid-East. When foreign domination over countries whose own destiny rises or falls the ability or inability to find common ground for stability, equality, and security of their populations future is lost. This results in more instability which so often leads to history repeating. When history repeats as it already has humanity always looses out. Our only hope to ensure that the human existence continues to flourish is to realize that the missteps of the past don’t come back masked in different variations. Variation of the events that have led to civil societies destruction have had repercussions that have only exasperated today’s human experience.

Spotlight, Media

we live in an age of lightning fast communications where events covered by the major news outlets are instantly broadcast all over the world. But, as fast as the news is being made behind those anchor desks are power brokers who wield immense control on what is actually broadcast to the public. We must remember that for a long time now there have been those who seek to gain more power and control over a populace do so by deceptively orchestrating various contingencies to induce a desired effect through reactions based on their calculated posturing of certain elements that will produce those desired effects.

In today’s Presidential politics the desired effect has already been put in place. In doing so is corrupting our whole democratic process. To understand how corrupt our political system has become is to realize the powers behind the media are the same ones who control the long established power structures of both political parties. In other words our elections especially this years Presidential one is rigged right from the start. It couldn’t be any more explicit than what is already occurring within the Democratic party today.

Your vote matters not if the politics of exclusion continue to have their way. The way the news is presented today whether on TV, newspapers, or over the Internet much of which is hyped up to generate more viewers and readers has continued the trend that money rules. Lost in the mass accumulation of wealth are always the unsuspecting public who are beguiled into believing what they see on TV, read, or hear is the gospel truth. Public opinion is swayed toward a predetermined objective. Objectives that coronate a candidate into power there by entrenching the status-quo by the power elite. Never before has it been so blatant and so obvious to the trained eye.

Now, when you have an anti establishment candidate like Senator Sanders come along and generate the kind of ground swell of public support that he has, and what does the media and the Democratic establishment do? They have been and still will do everything possible to discredit, underreport, and distort elements of his message. Practically every major news outlet is preprogramed to do just that.

In the United States where we have two major political parties with their ideologies in sharp contrast to each other it is nearly impossible for any political candidate to close that division. And, today’s media continues to have a helping hand in keeping a nation divided. The trend of our two party system has also had a very negative effect on our country for years. The division between Democrats and Republicans has been growing wider for decades now. And, with that widening has had off chutes that have splintered into factions pitting one group against another. We have become a nation so divided it just maybe impossible to unify what has become a very fractured country.

For a nation that has openly welcomed so many different ethnic groups and religions it is striking that now much of the ideologies and rhetoric of one political party has become so intolerant and closed minded. Questions need to be asked as to why has this one party become so agitated and in direct confrontation toward others who don’t conform to their particular way of thinking? Could it be that our sociological shift during the last 50 years has eroded much of the basis of tolerance we had toward our neighbor. One has to wonder considering back in the 50’s and 60’s there were no bugler bars on home windows and doors. There were no home security systems in place. This was a time where next door neighbors didn’t or need to lock their doors. Fear and intimidation are all to common place today. There again the power players behind the media have orchestrated much of the sociological shift that we are seeing today.

Today, the future of millions of Americans continues to be clouded. The storm clouds of uncertainty are hovering overhead. It is amazing though for one who has seen through the years the status-quo of 50 years ago has been eroding to a much lower level today. It was 50 years ago that the United States had a unity of purpose and the status-quo was at a much higher level. It was then expectations of a better standard of living were mostly met while today those expectations are no where near as lofty.

Now, here comes a Political Presidential candidate who is trying to convey a unity of purpose not seen since those days of a half century ago. And again, what does the media and the establishment do? They are using every possible trick in the book to keep the status-quo from changing. One has to wonder, yet again, considering the status-quo of today what are they afraid of if the status-quo changes for the better for millions of Americans?

Why Candidates Must Include an Infrastructure Asset Management Program in Their Government Platform

The aging infrastructure of the US is a major prevailing issue for several years now. The American Society of Civil Engineers had issued in their 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure the overall rating of D+ for the country’s infrastructure systems.

The country’s populace cannot continue living using structurally unsound bridges, decaying water systems, clogging storm sewers and disintegrating roads and highways. Government authorities must do something. Whether a particular candidate is keen on accepting or rejecting refugees, the fact remains that the people in the US deserve excellent working public utilities and facilities.

Every candidate speaks of development and progress of America but they should be able to emphasize their commitment and political will to pursue infrastructure renewal. It is important that their commitment to improve the nation’s infrastructure is based on an asset management plan.

Politicians are prone to following their personal influencers or lobbyists or bowing to pressure of returning a political favor. However, this is avoided when they commit strongly to carry out a comprehensive plan.

The maintenance of a lot of infrastructure system in the US is neglected for decades. Authorities must consider a systematic way of doing repair, maintenance and renewals. For example, the unfortunate water poisoning incident in Flint Michigan could have been avoided or at least minimized if the leaders have adopted an asset management program.

It has been a fact that a boom on infrastructure development stimulates economic growth. Imagine the many people who will be getting jobs in the repair and rebuild of roads, bridges, water system, drainage system, transport system, parks and recreation facilities and other public utilities.

The basic question about all these is how and where should the government get finance to start a comprehensive infrastructure asset development plan for the country. Is it worth investing billions or trillions of money for infrastructure repair and renewal? These are questions US presidential aspirants must answer well.

The reality is, the longer for the government to start undertaking repairs, maintenance or renewals of public assets, the more expensive it would be. Let’s pray that no structural failure nor major calamity would arise because the financial constraints will surely sky-rocket.

The best presidential candidate could be the one who can explain well that creating and implementing a sound infrastructure asset management program would take care of the financial, engineering and human resource aspects of repair, maintenance and renewal of the country’s aging infrastructure.

Global E-Waste On The Rise, Despite Recycling Factories

Until the StEP (Solving the E-waste Problem, Reference No.1) initiative of the United Nations University (UNU) & the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) got busy in real earnestness, with the e-waste problem and developed a successful prototype recycling factory, piles of e-waste (electronic waste) that were steadily growing the world over, posed a grim, sinister portent to all concerned – environmentalists, governments, the healthcare industry, electronics manufacturers, academics and so on (for a detailed discussion on e-waste, read relevant parts of Reference No. 2 or other sources on the web). The cause for their fears was solid. e-waste, that is comprised primarily by trashed computers, mobile phones and their accessories, are rich in toxic substances/ chemicals – mercury, cadmium, arsenic & hexavalent chromium to name just a few. Not being amenable to the waste disposal processes known before SteP’s solution (pl see Reference No. 2 titled “Recycling – From E-Waste To Resources”, for details), they defied every possible method of being disposed off safely. And, consequently, e-waste kept piling up, unstoppably, all over the world.

The potency of e-waste to cause incapacitating/ severe health hazards in humans as well as irreversible damage to world environment had been known for sometime. Consequently those in the world that were aware, cheered up when SteP’s prototype factory saw the light of day! The prototype had been proven by running small, pilot factories successfully and may be easily adapted to suit any world location. So, watchers may have imagined that the end of the e-waste crisis was near, since all that apparently remained was the implementation of SteP’s solution on a large scale, all over the world and as quickly as possible!

So far, so good! However, to the huge disappointment of an expectant world, implementation projects, bogged down by a set of non-technical issues, are struggling either to take off or to make any significant progress. The major issues thwarting progress are: advocacy, institutionalisation, legislation & sustainability. And while stakeholders are trying to clear these roadblocks, precious time is being wasted. The result? Not only has e-waste growth not been contained by the numbers of recycling factories setup, but according to figures available with StEP, (using 2013 as base year), e-waste will grow and reach 133% its 2013 volume by 2017.

I will attempt to briefly explain the bottlenecks mentioned above before closing.

ADVOCACY:

In many nations, government & the general public are still not sufficiently aware of either the severity or scale of the e-waste problem. (Had sufficient people been aware, there would have been a public outcry for remedial action, everywhere, by now!). Hundreds and thousands more people in every nation need to be made aware of the problem quickly, and those that already know need to be reminded.

Governments, preoccupied with their home tasks, often seem to forget the e-waste problem. Environmental agencies, NGOs, local groups and citizens need to remind them frequently about what is at stake. Governments also need to be reminded periodically that their responses to the e-waste problem in the past have NOT been adequate. They need to drop complacency and get ready to tackle e-waste in a big away, immediately, before available time runs out and the e-waste problem turns into a crisis.

LION’S SHARE (OVER 85%) OF RECYCLING CARRIED OUT BY THE INFORMAL SECTOR:

According to available data, global e-waste recycling is mostly carried out by the unorganized, informal sector in Asia. This has resulted in poor recycling performance. Lack of established, standard processes has led to a disadvantageous diversity in processing methods, ad-hoc processes, machines, tools used etc. Adequate numbers of skilled/ trained staff are not easy to find. There is no guarantee that proper safety measures are practised or that outputs of recycling(*) checked to ensure that levels of residual toxic substances are below approved limits. The result is a frittering away of the power that would have been available if one resorted to organized recycling – inability to upscale/ down-scale rapidly, enforce workplace safety, ensure ‘green’ & efficient processes, economies of scale, monitoring & control activities, quality of processes & outputs etc. Therefore, the ownership of the recycling sector needs to change into the hands of a more powerful entity – one that has the power to unify, standardize, make plans, provide infrastructure & resources, technical support, find/ train skilled workers, enforce standards/ quality etc. easily.

The only suitable candidate for such a position is the government, in most countries. Governments need to take ownership of the recycling sector and scale it up to the size required to effectively take on the e-waste problem in their respective countries speedily.

INSTITUTIONALISATION:

Even after the accumulated world backlog has been cleared, e-waste will continue to be generated, in sufficiently large quantities as to form a regular stream of waste (according to UNU, the world average, per-capita e-waste generation for 2014 was 7 Kg, world population being 7 billion and; this will rise, in the foreseeable future). Thus, the continuous, long-term requirement of e-waste recycling facilities. And, by consequence, just like any other sector of established industry, e-waste recycling needs to be institutionalised as an independent industry sector, in its own right, enjoying the same privileges as others viz. various sectors under the “manufacturing industry” category, VARs (value added resellers), OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and so on.

It also follows, quite naturally, that to become an independent industry sector, a formal institutional and legal framework must be created to support it.

SUSTAINABILITY:

Sustainability of recycling factories requires that they generate profits from their operations. This, in turn, means that a certain minimum volume of input e-waste must be guaranteed to each factory and outputs of recycling(*) find markets where they can be sold to generate adequate profits.

The above is a list of the most typical and important stoppers encountered to date. However, StEP advises users not to blindly adopt these factors as they are. Each country must also take into account their specific environment, conditions, laws, policies etc. as part of the adaptation exercise in order to effectively identify/ tackle the roadblocks specific to them.

(*) The term “output of recycling” has been used rather than “product” since the recycling industry is still in a stage of infancy. Once these outputs are perfected to match input requirements of upstream industry(ies) where they will be used, have industry recognized descriptions and specifications etc. they would qualify to be named as “products”.

Open Space, Conservation, and Preservation

The mountaintop view was thrilling. While witnessing the valley from the mountain I saw a different perspective; one of open space, conservation, and preservation. I thought about how large our city spreads over so many miles and how blessed we are with abundant open space.

To see expanses of greenery in our suburban setting vs. a more urban concrete landscape made me feel proud that our community knows that this is a healthier environment.

In our city and our county, our planners and voters preserved open space for the enjoyment of its community members to wander, dream, inspire, and to release our worldly concerns. It’s working.

Pockets of open space are broad and sometimes small but just the right size for people to have enough elbow room to share some greenery, sunlight, shade, wildflowers, boulders, wildlife, grasslands, and woodlands. In our region, we do not have to travel a great distance to find this green relief.

We preserved most of the ridge tops without housing or office buildings growing on them. Instead, they are ridges with forests, woodlands, grassy meadows, and hiking trails for humans, dogs, horses, and bicyclists to exercise, relax, decompress, and to play.

We have local nature organizations that preserve open space for native plants and wildlife in the form of marshlands, which are a vital chain in a healthy ecosystem. While others return former dairy cow meadows into green belts surrounding communities. We secured natural woodlands, pockets of redwood forests, beaches, streams, creeks, and lakes for future generations to visit and recreate.

It is an ongoing business to conserve and preserve our natural environment in our community. We are all responsible for these natural landscapes to maintain a healthy ecosystem, which includes humans, not merely wildlife and natural habitats.

In the last century, we reserved large parcels of open space while some most recently as the last month by forward thinking people.

Through our conservation, we saved bird nesting sites, wildflowers, butterflies, elk preserves, clapper rails, native grasses, sand dunes, redwood trees, and additional forms of wildlife and habitat species that are thriving in their environment and playing their role in the natural ecosystem.

“In matters of style, swim with the current, in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” –Thomas Jefferson.

Take some time to see a different perspective, your new view will be inspiring in matters of principle through conservation and preservation of our open space.

The Extraordinary Power of Women

From ancient times, the rise and fall of landscapes and panoramas have enchanted man but none captivated him as much as the rise and fall of woman’s flowing curves. Restlessly, man gazes deep into celestial realms and peers into the deepest oceans. Yet, to truly lose himself, all he need do is to gaze into the depths of a woman’s eyes.

Over two millennium man has created and perfected thousands of musical instruments. He has yet to create a single one to equal the charm of a woman’s sweet melody. If we were to remove the inspiration of woman who stimulate art; poetry, literature, sculpture, music, then our galleries, libraries, and theaters would be eerily empty.

Man is overawed by the greatness of nature, yet never so spellbound as when witness to the process of reincarnation at the birthing bed. A glance through the history books is all that is necessary to suggest that true power, not just behind the throne but on the throne, is woman power.

England remembers its hapless and cruel kings but fondly remembers the perhaps mythical Britannia. Boadicea (1st Century AD) was the only British leader to humble the Roman Empire. Her French counterpart, Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431), before meeting her fiery fate, humbled the English.

England’s monarchy stretches back over a millennium yet the two monarchs that immediately spring to mind are Queen Elizabeth 1 (1533 – 1603) and Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901). Arguably, the first was the genesis of the British Empire; the reign of Elizabeth 1 certainly elevated England to world power status for the first time. During the reign of Queen Victoria, the empire, which, before her reign was no more significant than that of competing continental powers such as France and Spain, became the world’s greatest empire? She was crowned Empress of India, the only such title bestowed upon an English head of state.

Taking one country in isolation hardly makes a point. Russia’s Peter the Great is revered but Catherine the Great (1729 – 1796) more so. Her domestic ambitions Westernized and modernized Russia. During her reign Russia became the world’s largest country and was to span three continents. Spain, Europe’s most machismo nation, was unified by its one notable monarch, Queen Isabella l (1451 – 1504). During her reign, Spain achieved world power status to rival that of England. The Spanish monarch sponsored Christopher Columbus, who, whilst not necessary discovering America, certainly founded it. The enormous 800 year power of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire, Europe’s longest lasting dynasty, was consolidated by Maria Theresa of Austria (1717 – 1780).

Mankind’s odyssey has been lantern lit by women, not all of them were monarchs. The roll call of world-shaping women is impressive; Cleopatra, Helen of Troy. In all fields of activity, whilst women don’t dominate in numbers, they do take the podium of bringing about great change, mostly for the good.

Farewell and Thank You, A Farewell Letter

It’s always hard to say goodbye. Allow me tell you about how valuable my experience at MT has been. I am going to skip my list of accomplishments as a MTracer – it’s a great list and you all helped create it. Instead, I want to share a more personal perspective.

Before I pronounce goodbye to you, I wish to reminisce that what a pleasure it has been working for MT these past few months. It has been a prolific association of wonderful pride. But let me tell you, sometimes it is a bit daunting to know exactly how to begin when telling someone about a significant change that has come about in my life; but as I learn that from Mother Nature each year whenever winter sets in and summer goes for its seasonal vacation, I have come to know that change will inevitably happen, no matter how you describe it, understand it or even perceive it.

It is with a heart that goes humming now, but knowing minds will know that as I tell you that after 1.3 years of extraordinary English evaluation experience/association, I therefore bid ‘adious’ to one and all.

But of course, this was not a sudden decisional escapade into something I got ticked off on; I resolved to do this after gathering all information, carefully weighing my professional options, and exercising a considerable soul-searching competency! My first good impressions of MT will always be my last impression. That is to say: I seek for the pleasure of work and its inherent satisfaction; and I sure have had got the opportunity to experience the comfort of the same right here. Yet, the fantasy of moving on to some place else and then locating a quiet corner in order to continue my discovery of the vast ocean of a new world beyond just somewhere out there, closing away the distance between us with each passing day and night, could have ultimately made my mind up without an iota of any assailable doubt. I could not have possibly identified its importance had I not spent some quality time at MT and having cherished its fruitful association for long; I thought my heart can go on now for delving into other avenues.

Of all other things in the itinerary of my first impressions, I think, my first proverbial taste for an intrinsic success story harks back to the days of induction I went through at the Bangalore office last year during the summer of 2007. Yes, a meritorious induction program I was introduced to and followed by a great stay at its swanky guesthouse were really so unforgettable an experience. Later, during the days when I was pitching along the lines of the numerous English evaluation frameworks after reaching back to Hyderabad, such as PCT, ECT, et al, I knew I was riding a big “summer-job/part-time” wave.

I wish MT edges past other companies who are in the competitive fray of Skills Assessment. Personally speaking, the very reason that MT’s brand value is already so sky-high, and that it has by far outweighed, or rather in the process of outweighing, other comparable competitors as well, is in itself an achievement that it goes without saying that the promising arena is already occupied by a bright Gladiatorial powerhouse like MT! This is no mean feat for an emerging company which had started its business to gain acceptance among other ‘similar business varieties’ that are into the conceptual enterprise of “Skills Assessment” only just a few years ago, precisely from the year 2001. A strong mentioning now of such a unique value it generated for itself in the market arena that it makes it deserving of a token of immense appreciation from all quarters, is hardly a surprise for proud MTracers across locations in our country. In fact, though it is already India’s Largest Skills Assessment Company and had tasted stupendous success in the recent era by quickly winning two consecutive awards like Red Herring and… awards, we quietly have conveyed that we have come a long way and will go great lengths to succeed success itself, and how. Besides these pieces of contemplation, I fervently hope (well, I am speaking in my personal capacity as an ex-employee of MT now) that it would scorch the road ahead. It already is an attested star on the firmament of English Evaluation (E.E.) skies, so a great standing of its own is just around the corner.

Next Step:

So what happens tomorrow and the next day? The first and foremost thought in my mind is how to substitute my MT experience into a new environment in the midst of a new company set-up! For all I know I think I must just have to fill in the air into my lungs and help conceive the ideas of newness composition into my inner being. (Oh yeah? Righto!

“As I sit and watch the sunset and the daylight slowly fades.

I’ll be thinking about tomorrows… about the friendships we have made.

I will value them for always and I’ll hope you’ll do the same.

And we’ll see you on the trail and on the loose.” (Anonymous)

“On the loose to climb a mountain… on the loose to where I’m free.

On the loose to live my life the way I think my life should be… “

We spent a lot of time together. I’ve enjoyed so much: my early morning drives to MT office, watching the sun come up over the Hyderabad skyline of the cantonment valley here, and the journey home again with the tangerine sunlight spilling across the same place with a sweet hint of cool breeze racing past me and my motorbike. Along the roads, in the winds, I have been always cherishing each new day and each new feeling with an amusing aplomb!

Before Anyone Apologises, Here Are Ten Things You Might Not Know About Slavery

During his visit to Jamaica, David Cameron was asked to give an apology on behalf of the British for their part in the slave trade. If you have a view on that naturally emotive subject, you might find some or all of these facts helpful in deepening your understanding. I found they made a difference to mine. None of these or any other facts in any way justify or mitigate the evil of slavery, past or present.

1. Slavery was not introduced to Africa by Europeans. It existed there before the first explorers and traders went there.

2. The first Europeans to participate in the slave trade were the Portuguese in the Fifteenth Century.

3. The British sent white British prisoners to work as slaves on the plantations in the Caribbean. They were the losers after the Battle of Worcester in the Civil War, The Batle of Sedgemoor in Monmouth’s Rebellion against James II and Jacobites in the 1715 Rebellion.

4. Slavery was held to be illegal in Britain because it violated the principles of Magna Carta etc. but was somehow considered acceptable in British Overseas Possessions.

5. White British and other Europeans were taken as slaves by pirates from Noth Africa during the late Middle Ages until the Eighteenth Century.

6. The British abolished slavery in 1833. Other European nations did so at various dates during the Nineteenth Century. Many Asian and Middle Eastern countries postponed its abolition until the Twentieth Century. In Saudi Arabia’s case it was 1974.

7. Compensation was paid to British slave owners as the Government, and most other people, felt it could not deprive people of their “property” without doing so.

8. In the British Empire the Government had to use force to suppress slavery, as the abolition was not popular with native slave-traders in many places.

9. In Jamaica there are some black and mixed-race people who are descended from free people. There was a brief period when the island had been abandoned by the Spanish before the British arrived. Many slaves went into hiding and de facto became free. Their children were therefore never slaves.

10. Slavery still exists in many places. In Britain it is the domain of people-traffickers. In the Middle East it is thought to go on illegally in many countries but is openly practiced in areas controlled by ISIS. The victims are usually members of minorities.

Personally, I wish the campaigners would concentrate on freeing current slaves rather than keeping old wounds alive, given the complexity of the story and the difficulty in apportioning blame or credit.

After studying Economics and Accountancy at Bristol University, John worked in accountancy, audit and insurance in several types of local authority. He is currently self-employed as JHM Risk Management Services, offering risk management and liability claims-handling services to businesses and other organisations, to enable owners and managers to save time and stress as well as money. John is a member of the accountancy body CIPFA, is a Registered Risk Practitioner with ALARM, and is a Specialist Member of the Institute of Risk Managers.