Archive for June, 2013

North Dakota Joke about Wireless and Ongoing Surveillance

Surveillance is important but not the kind that we have been served up lately, it has gone on for decades but not on Regular Joe Citizen of the U.S. Now we can ALL be treated as suspects if we said the wrong thing from 20-30 years ago. Thanks to Edward Snowden for having a conscience about all the power he had as a techie. Now he is back in hiding after his 12 minute video-taped interview from Hong Kong. I watched it and thought he was quite articulate.  The liberal press would paint him as some kind of high school dropout who became a grunt in the Army.  Pretty miraculous to be a low-info kind of guy and to have that much knowledge about computers and access into that many people’s lives. People will long question whether what he did was right or wrong to be a whistleblower.

Granted, Snowden is toast, now that he has been identified.  However, his biggest fear is that nobody will do anything about the intrusive surveillance to keep our government accountable for all the access and privilege they have for what we do from phone calls to texting to what we put up on the Internet. I DO care about what information is held on me because I know what they did to people in the former Soviet Union.  I know what the leader of “the” Russia would like to do to some people who don’t agree with him. I know what they did to millions of people who lived in Ukraine 70-80 years ago who didn’t tow the communist party line.

We watched the movie “The Internship” this past weekend and it was funny in a few places.  It showed how people my age or younger are feeling like dinosaurs if they didn’t get in on the computer technology wave.  Also, it shows that students at age 21 are cynical about their future and do not live the American Dream.  They have high tuition debts to pay back but no jobs to speak of. They may be tech savvy but not much on people skills and not many experiences outside of their virtual world.  It was a sad commentary on both generations. The funniest line in the movie was when Vince Vaughn was trying to explain the concept of Instagram to these geeky teammates of his at Google. He kept saying, “On the line” when he really mean “online.”  The kids patiently listened to him telling him that it had already been thought of before.  He enthusiastically blathered on with “on the line.”  The part with the strip tease bar scene was bad which made PG-13 rating embarrassing.  I think they can’t be believed anymore.

Well, I promised a joke so I’ll end my blog on this funny note.  More a joke on North Dakota but just the same, one that needs to be preserved.

“After having dug to a depth of 10 meters last year, Scottish scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.  Not to be outdone by the Scots, in the weeks that followed, British scientists dug to a depth of 20 meters, and shortly after, headline in the UK newspapers read: “British concluded that their ancestor already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the Scots.”  One week later, “The Nordic Klub,” a Minot, North Dakota newsletter reported the following: “After digging as deep as 30 meters in corn fields near Velva, ND, Ole Johnson, a self taught archeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing.  Ole has therefore concluded that 300 years ago North Dakota had already gone wireless.”

Leave a comment »

“The Belief” about the Growing Seasons and Life

I’m not sure where this was printed but on the front of this greeting card was the title “The Belief” stating that it was from a yellowed news clipping dated April 23, 1967.  I am in the middle of growing my vegetable and flower gardens…it is a LOT of work.  However, what a joy it is to have lilacs, plums, crabapple, apple, apricot, pear trees blooming right now.  Seems I missed a few but spring has finally arrived in northwestern Minnesota.  Not all are privileged to experience this, especially those living in the city far away from the soil.

“By late April the countryman is thinking of June and haying, of summer and the growing season, even of September and golden October. The hillside birches still show only a gauzy green haze of leaftips, the swamp maples blush with half-opened blossoms and mornings are still frosty; but he can see corn knee-high in his newly plowed fields, oats ripening on the lower forty, strawberries ripening in the kitchen garden. Today’s weather, good or bad, can’t greatly change this view of the world the countryman knows.  Whether he is an optimist or not, he has confidence in the soil and the seasons.

The closer one lives to the land, the less one distrusts time. It is only when one is alienated from the earth and its eternal sequences that doubt takes root.  Few of the pat answers and instant solutions have validity when you are dealing with the soil. You see the slow but certain growth of trees, the persistence of grass, and you are aware of the tenacity of life.  The earth’s urgency is toward growth and renewal, and one season follows another despite man’s diversions and interruptions.  You can’t hurry spring, and you can’t interdict summer.

The countryman lives with these truths, no matter how they are phrased. He lives by them.  They shape his life.  So he looks about him now with confidence and with hope. Another growing season is at hand, deliberate as always, and he lays his plans, not for tomorrow, but for June and July and next September.”

Comments (2) »

Where are the “Invisible Children” now? (Part II)

The following is a continuation of what Riho wrote for her last assignment in my Composition I class.  She worked very hard to find the right information.  I was very proud of her because she is from Japan and the only one on our campus, she is outnumbered by the large group of Koreans and Chinese.  Yes, she is Asian but she is invisible in her nationality amongst them. I’m not sure why she gravitated to this topic about “Invisible Children” but maybe she could relate in a small way to not being recognized as the lone Japanese girl on our campus.

 “A new video which was created by Invisible Children came out on March 5th in 2012. The film is called Kony 2012 and explains about Kony’s and LRA’s crimes toward children in conflicts by Jason Russell and calls for saving the children in conflicts. The film made a huge impact to the society. In the video, Jason tells his young son who Kony is by using simple words. Even though his story is not complicated and easy as much as a five year old boy can understand, it tells us the atrocity of child soldiers in 30 minutes. I could feel Jason’s seriousness of this issue by seeing Jason telling his child the reality. Jason’s major purpose for the video was to make many people recognize Kony’s face, and now many people who watched Kony 2012 can recognize his face and know the bad things he is doing. The video was seen by many people immediately after it was launched. “By the end of the first week, more than 112 million people had seen Kony 2012-about the same number who watch the Super Bowl every year” (Suddath, 2012). Many people who felt sad and sorry for the children, started a movement against LRA, and gave donations to Invisible Children in order to help the kids. Many celebrities also shared the facts by using the social network service to get the public’s attentions toward the poor kids. Invisible Children states Kony was the number nine most searched person on Google in 2012. Thus, the video moved the viewers.

However, the stories which are explained in Kony 2012 are lacking in creditability. “The video is charged with making mistakes and oversimplifying a complicated issue” (Hughes, 2012). In the video Jason explains Kony is in Uganda and has more than 30,000 child soldiers who were abducted. However, Kony has not been seen for more than six years, so no one knows if he is still in Uganda. In addition, the number of children Joseph showed is exaggerated. That is because 30,000 is the number estimated for the total of killed children because of the conflicts lasted over 20 years in the country. It cannot be the truth that LRA are having the number of children. Thus, some of the information is old, not true, or exaggerated, but they told us as if these are true and really happening. Then, a lot of people trusted the stories without any doubt. According to Alex Miller, Invisible Children got more than 10 million dollars of contributions by the video. Pickett (2012) explained that even though “Invisible Children” took near 14 million dollars in 2011, only 3.3 million dollars actually went to programs in Central Africa. They used the rest of the money for marketing, management, expenses, and products. Therefore, most of the money people donated to help after watching Kony 2012 might not be used for the children but for the organization. They took a lot of money from people who were trying to help children in conflicts by showing the video of children suffering. The act must not be forgiven.  In addition, 10 days after the video was released, Jason was reported with his strange behavior. He ran out naked into the street and screamed. He changed to a crazy person from the leader of saving child soldiers, so now it is difficult to trust him and the organization led by him. Thus, people should not have trusted them easily until they got enough information and creditability to decide to help the group.

On the other hand, “Invisible Children” still call for the support and donation even after these facts came up. The purposes for their activities are still to help children who are involved in conflicts in Africa, to end the actions of LRA, and to arrest Joseph Kony. They say they will not stop the movement until they move Joseph Kony out of the way. According to “Invisible Children” website, Congress passed a bill with 45 million dollars to help arrest Kony. Obama signed the budget legislation to support efforts to locate and arrest top LRA leaders. LRA killings had decreased 67 percent in the last year, and two of five top LRA commanders are off the battle fields because of their activities. By showing these facts they are trying to prove Invisible Children is motivated to make a peaceful world, and their campaign actually moved the President of the United States. In addition, even though the amount is smaller than we expect, some of the donations are actually used to help the African children. The organization Invisible Children are trying to justify their actions for child soldiers even though their creditability is suspected because of the earlier lies they made. Thus, they are suspected of manipulating the power of media and still getting support from some gullible people.

We get a lot of information from the media every day from TV, newspapers, Internet, and magazines. Even our friends and families tell us a lot of information which they get from the media. Therefore, it is almost impossible not to get information from the media. According to my survey, 66.7 percent of people admitted that they have experienced being fooled by the media, but still 41.7 percent of people sometimes and 33.3 percent of people almost always believe the information which is told by the media. The data shows media has a big influence. In conclusion, even though Invisible Children succeeded to move a lot of sympathetic people and the President of this country, the fact that they fooled the receivers of their information cannot be changed. They defrauded sympathetic people of donations for their benefit and lost their trust. The inappropriate action should not be acclaimed even though it made a huge progress for helping child soldiers. People who use media can get not only a lot of money but also a lot of people’s sympathy even by telling untruth. The media could be very useful to share the true story, to tell information to many people, and to call for activities, but the media could be very dangerous because it spreads anything to the whole world quickly. We could make huge changes to the society by our movement, so we should have responsibility to check the facts. In order to avoid letting this bias happen again, the media should build accountability for their information, and receivers should pay more attention to the creditability of the information which they are told.

References

Cadwalladr, C. (2013, March) Jason Russell: Kony2012 and the fight for truth. Retrieved from the Guardian website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/03/jason-russell-kony-2012-interview

Hughes, L. (2012). Invisible Children and the Hypocrisy of the Media. Canadian Dimension, 46(3), 56. Retrieved from EBSCO

Invisible Children. (n.d.). Programs. Retrieved April 17, 2013 from: http://invisiblechildren.com/program/defection-fliers/

Pickett, I. (2012, March 9). Is Invisible Children And Kony 2012 Using Children To Rip You Off?. Retrieved from CBS website: http://tampa.cbslocal.com/2012/03/09/is-invisible-children-and-kony-2012-using-children-to-rip-you-off/

Russell, J. (2012, March 5). Kony 2012 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc

Russell, J. , Bailey, Bobby & Poole, Laren (August 26, 2006). Invisible Children: Rough Cut [Video firm]. Retrieved from http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/invisible-children/

Suddath, C. (2012). Guerrilla Marketing. Bloomberg Businessweek, (4294), 68-72. Retrieved from EBSCO

Swartz, L. (2012). Invisible Children: Transmedia, Storytelling, Mobilization. Working Paper, March 11. Retrieved from Google Scholar

UNICEF. (n.d.). The facts. Retrieved from Factsheet: Child Soldiers website: http://www.unicef.org/emerg/files/childsoldiers.pdf

Leave a comment »

Where are the “Invisible Children” now?

The following research paper was written by a Japanese student named Riho. She did a GREAT job in working on this paper about child soldiers and what the organization did with the money that was donated to them, intended for the “Invisible Children” in Africa.  Riho is an accounting major and so this is fitting that she would try to find out more about how they distributed the money, but she was concerned about how they played on peoples’ emotions to get the money to come in.

Invisible Lies to the Public

“The media has huge powers which influence our daily lives. Many people believe the information which is told via social media, and we change our emotion toward the facts, such as becoming sad, happy, confused, and anxious because of the information. In addition, the information could change our behavior. For example, some people decide to donate money and do charity after they are told about the poor children who do not have enough food and are in need of help because the report raises people’s sympathy. Most people just accept the information and do not try to check the credibility of the sources even though many troubles about the reliability of the media have been unveiled. The media can get not only people’s attention and sympathy but also their money and charity by using inappropriate information, so the information could cause a huge impact to our society. Therefore, we need to require media to share the right information and check the sincerity of the facts in order to avoid being swayed by false information. Jason Russell, who is the leader of Invisible Children, is the one of the people who used the media in improper ways. He became a big liar from the leader of a charity organization because of the influence of media. Even though the media is powerful, like the organization Invisible Children which tried to help child soldiers by raising awareness and money, sympathetic people should be told the truth because organizations can lose creditability by misrepresenting the facts and gaining a lot of money quickly with no accountability.

According to UNICEF, approximately 300,000 children who are under age 18 are involved in conflicts in the world. Joseph Kony is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RLA). The group abducts children and uses them as child soldiers. The children are forced to torture their friends, family, and innocent people. According to Cadwalladr (2013), the group abducted more than 30,000 children and turned them into child soldiers and sex slaves. The facts affect the children’s physical health, mental health, education, and human rights. Therefore, Invisible Children was founded to help these kids. “Invisible Children is a non-profit founded in 2005 by friends Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole. Its mission is to use film, creativity, and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore LRA-affected communities in central Africa to peace and prosperity” (Swartz, 2012).

I got a survey from 17 people. About 94 percent of people disagree with having child soldiers. One of the people surveyed thinks that children decide to become soldiers by themselves because of the food and money which are provided by military groups. However, the truth is most of child soldiers were forced to join military teams regardless of their wishes. I also asked them if they know Invisible Children. About 18 percent of the people know the organization, and a person recognizes Invisible Children as “Very unfortunate kids of Uganda that were being used as child soldiers because they didn’t have a place to live, food to eat or parents to protect them. Some children were used as sex slaves.” The main activities of this group are to make people aware of the reality of child soldiers and to tell people who Joseph Kony is and his crimes.

Many people are not interested in this issue because they are not familiar with child soldiers. Therefore, the founders of the organization Invisible Children are trying to make the public aware of the fact by using the power of media and handing out flyers. In the movie Invisible Children: Rough Cut, Jason and his friends actually went to Africa and met some children who were forced to be soldiers. The interview of a child whose name is Jacob had a great impact on me. He saw his brother was being killed by a member of LRA. He said if he could chose to be alive or dead, he would like to die rather than living on the Earth. The words show how hard experience he is going through. Invisible Children also collect donations in their activities. They use the money to create films which inspire global action, to mobilize teams to end LRA atrocities, to protect communities from LRA attacks, and to help former child soldiers recover from the effect of military events.”

(to be continued)

Leave a comment »

Student’s Paper on “Half the Sky” and more (Part II)

A continuation from yesterday’s blog about sex slavery and how education can help to eradicate the problem. I am saved by my students’ papers that took on this tough topic of human trafficking.  Marcus read the book “Half the Sky.”  I am doing other writing about my hometown, thus, I am not using my own words to write in this blog.  I have other students’ papers that need a little editting but continue on the same theme of human trafficking.

“There is a cynical belief on whether support groups are actually benefitting the victims in need of assistance. These beliefs are aided by the continuous rise and fall of organizations trying to make changes in struggling societies. To the general society (people provided only with information given from commercials) are brought to confusion of what is actually happening on the other side of the earth. In these organizations defense, the reason for some of them having troubles and falling out of operation is because their initial plans of helping these societies in scope did not pan out to their expectations. In WuDunn’s (2010) chapter Investing in Education, it explains how aid from outside sources to help an inner society problem can have many issues. Since it is highly likely that outside sources would not have the same knowledge of the situation as the locals, oversights on solutions would not be uncommon. In parts of Nigeria, women would raise cassava (a widely eaten root, similar to the use of a potato) and use it as a household food, selling the surplus to local markets controlling the money earned from the sales. The organization at the time in Nigeria, were looking for ways that women could attain a stronger in society. Having this opportunity their idea was as followed: “If we give them better varieties of cassava, they’ll harvest more and sell more. Then they’ll make more money, and spend it on their families.” What was overlooked was that with the increase in cassava grown, there were not enough women to manage the entire harvest, leaving much of the leftovers unattended. This led to problems between the men and women in these communities. The increased profit from the cassava attracted men into the equation having the idea that since it was generating so much money, it should be a “man’s job.” This brought social-domestic issues by pushing women out of a situation that gave them some stability in society. Overall there can be issues that can have negative effects if both sides of the outcome are not first comprehended, but not all situations have the same outcome. Most successful aid from outside organizations has the local government somewhat involved. With this involvement, the government has the opportunity to maintain the positive planning that is being implemented so that it can manage in society without constant aid from support groups.

An example of a successful plan came from the consensus decision of the Mexican government. They launched a study called Oportunidades which is a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program that offers cash and in-kind services to poor households as incentives for households to invest more in their children’s health and education (Todd & Winters, 2011). Most families in impoverish situations do not have thoughts of enrolling their children in early education or even regular education because of either financial or lifestyle issues (children having to work to provide for family). Along with education, families rarely have the opportunity to be medically treated or go for treatment if it is available. With these lifestyle choices from the influence of poverty, any income that was in the family’s possession first went to survival needs such as food and supplies. Oportunidades was established to break the reoccurring trend of impoverished families and provide them with chances for an optimistic future. The program incentive was to encourage parents of families to create healthy habits of going on regular medical check-ups in addition to implementing their children to “on-time” schooling (the child starting school at approximately 6 years of age). Since the government was the main source backing the program (starting with small communities as a control group) as well as their tactics (CCT) the overall plan flourished. Having the CCT implemented it influence households to abide by the guidelines of the program on their own time. In result it provided the households to create habits on their own just as a baby is weaned off the mother’s breast to a bottle and then onto a cup. This gave families and specifically children a chance to improve their lives for the future. Parents would learn positive habits to pass down to their children who are now living healthier lives. The children being able to partake in academics at an internationally acceptable age have a higher chance of attaining respectable jobs globally which in turn can influence their communities in an economically positive way.

Having communities uplifted from poverty can create a more positive balance of how each person in the world is valued. Another quote from WuDunn’s (2010) book provides the emphasis of separation between societies:

The officer shrugged, unperturbed. “It’s unfortunate,” he agreed. “These girls are sacrificed so that we can have harmony in society. So that good girls can be safe.”

“But many of the Nepali girls are good girls, too.”

“Oh yes, but those are peasant girls. They can’t even read. They’re from the countryside. The good Indian middle-class girls are safe.”

These distinctive separations of value between people that have an education and are brought up in a middle-class society have disposed of the people of opposite benefits. The main issue is that the people in poverty have no chance of breaking out of that struggle without aid. They will continue to be left in the shadows hidden away from the rest of society if society is content with the idea. Now this is not true in all parts of the country, but it is equally wrong to avoid taking action on the countries that are allowing for these illegal events to occur. Being in a country that has higher standards of living does give off powerful influences to developing countries or countries that want to rise into a well-known society. There needs to be this mindset when dealing with social issues such as sex trafficking to influence powerful groups and governments to make changes within their communities so that no one is left behind. In order for many of these pushes to happen, the communities of these more powerful countries need to be aware of what is happening around the world and are accumulatively ready to back up their country to provide help to others. The most popular source of information has been from media distribution such as YouTube (personal uploaded videos with infinite subjects) and that of regular occurrence (television, newspaper, radio). With these sources, there would be a better chance of bringing communities together to create change and movements. There have always been movements such as “Free the Children”, “Stop Global Warming”, or “Sea-Thos” that have had the public come together to help a cause. All that is needed is for the next cause to be focused on human trafficking. Finding a solution to invest in impoverished communities so that children can have healthy lives and be educated can eliminate the possibility of being victimized by human trafficking.

So although in a few cases of prostitution it may be financially beneficial for families in impoverished countries, sex trafficking of young girls should be abolished. Investment into their education would protect their future and would not bring them to harm psychologically or physically. First of all, most girls deal with unimaginable terror every day from deceived promises of well-paying jobs to be beaten physically and psychologically by their captors or customers. But most importantly, it negates their chance of attaining an education to have a positive future for them and for the community they live in. For these possibilities to even happen, drastic moves need to be made by higher powers to change the ongoing circle of poverty that traps these communities of a lower lifestyle. That being said, the media is a perfect tool to provide help so that support groups can collaborate with governments of developing countries or struggling countries to provide aid to their societies. With this aid just as the Mexican government’s Oportunidades program, it can give these communities the tools to become equal in society and not left in the shadows to be forgotten about. So the real question is if the value of one’s education is so valuable to a middle-class person, it should be just as valuable to a person hoping to have the same chance at their own education.”

Reference

Basil, N. M. (2009). Factors sustaining human trafficking in the contemporary society:

Psychological implications. Ife Psychologia, 17(1), 161-175. Retrieved from Proquest.

doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-232

Jones, L., Engstrom, D., Hilliard, P., & Sungakawan, D. (2011). Human trafficking between

Thailand and Japan: Lessons in recruitment, transit and control. International Journal Of

            Social Welfare, 20(2), 203-211. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2397.2009.00669.x

Ostrovschi, N. V., Prince, M. J., Zimmerman, C., Hotineanu, M. A., Gorceag, L. T., Gorceag, V.

I., Flach, C., & Abas, M. A. (2011). Women in post-trafficking services in Moldova:

Diagnostic interviews over two time periods to assess returning women’s mental

health. BMC Public Health, 11(1), 232-240. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-232

Todd, J. E., & Winters, P. (2011). The effect of early interventions in health and nutrition

on on-time school enrollment: Evidence from the oportunidades program in rural

Mexico. Economic Development & Cultural Change, 59(3), 549-581.

WuDunn, S., (2010, August). Sheryl WuDunn: Our century’s greatest injustice. [Video file].

Retrieved from

WuDunn, S., & Kristof, N. D. (2010). Half the sky: Turning oppression into opportunity for

women worldwide. New York: Vintage Books.

Leave a comment »