Monday, July 29, 2013

“All it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing...”

"You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.
"-William Wilberforce

How much do you know about human sex trafficking? According to the United States Department of Justice website over the past three years there has been a nearly 30% increase in human trafficking cases in the US alone. Most victims are between the ages of twelve to fourteen. Child exploitation most recently made the headlines with Operation Cross Country. The nationwide operation which took place over the weekend resulted in 150 arrests, with 105 children between the ages of 13 and 17 being rescued.(source CNN: Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division.)

Why are we seeing such a dramatic increase in the US?
Poverty is one major factor that plays into the tragic stories of children being sexually exploited, among many other traumatic factors putting them in this position such as divorce, absentee parents ,lack of role models, death of a parent or neglect. Many victims of human trafficking in the US are teen aged girls between the ages of thirteen and sixteen with little or no family ties. However, research shows trafficking can occur in any city where a family may lose touch with their own children. Teenagers without guidance, supervision or those testing the limits of their independence are at risk for criminal manipulation.

When does it become trafficking?

     Sex trafficking occurs when the trafficker or pimp uses physical force, coercion  and fraud to maintain control over an adult victim. Victims are forced to engage in sex acts to earn their right to stay alive. When the individual providing sex is under the age of 18, excessive threats, abuse, use of force and coercion do not need to happen for the situation to be considered trafficking.  Sex trafficking like all other types of abuse is about power, control and human greed. Gangs especially regard sex trafficking as a lucrative business because victims are reused again and again or recycled. Victims are considered a low risk "product". Criminals never see your children as defenseless, innocent human beings but as another money making product on the level of illegal drugs or weapons.  What is used to control and exploit a sex trafficking victim?

 Force – Physical or sexual abuse, often in the form of repeated rapes by one or more people to create submission. They are typically confined to a residence; restricted in movement and communication to their guardians, loved ones and friends.

Fraud –  Lies and promises of a better life through the trafficker acting as a boyfriend or protective figure; convincing the victim that law enforcement and social service providers will only see the victim as a "prostitute" and will have them arrested rather than saved and assisted. The victim is essentially brainwashed.

Coercion –  A trafficker will use threats of harm to the victim or victim’s family. They will use psychological threats to shame the victim by revealing they had sex for money to his or her family and others in their community. Verbal and emotional abuse, confiscation of birth certificates and other identification documents and sexual quotas bring about forced dependency on the controller. Exploitation of victims shame or low self-esteem is a common power play technique. Having a victim witness excessive violence of others at the hands of traffickers, reward and punishment and threats of deportation if a victim is a foreign national are used to dominate and control.

Law enforcement agencies across the country have identified online sex ads as the number one platform for buying and selling of sex with young women and children some as young as four and five years of age. Astonishingly enough the majority of the ads were posted on websites such as and Ads for massage parlors and escort services are carefully scrutinized. 

What can you do right now? Check your child's own social media websites. Who are they talking to or befriending? What websites are they looking at? Who are they texting? Who do they hang around with at school? Are they attending school or skipping class? If they work part time who are they associating with at work? Where are they after school? Children and teenagers who have a trusted and secure relationship with their parents are least likely to hide information from them. When you recognize that a child may be in danger or exploited speak up, speak out and do what you can to assist them. Children and young adult sex trafficking victims may feel too intimidated and frightened to speak for themselves. The youngest victims may have little or no way to articulate or comprehend why adults would hurt and brutalized them.  If you have or work with children or simply care about your own community, a child's sense of safety and security should be a priority.  The link below offers insightful and educational material for yourself, your family and especially your own children  with  20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking

Friday, July 26, 2013

"Enough about me. Lets talk about you ..what do you think of me?"

“It amazes me that we are all on Twitter and Facebook. By "we" I mean adults. We're adults, right? But emotionally we're a culture of seven-year-olds. Have you ever had that moment when are you updating your status and you realize that every status update is just a variation on a single request: "Would someone please acknowledge me?”
― Marc Maron, Attempting Normal     

     The human ego is a dangerous force. When humans fail to have their ego's attention appetite  fed enough  by others they eventually go on a feverish feeding frenzy. They resemble ravenous starving sharks in an ocean of scurrying fish or become like Anthony Weiner sexting his junk in a" desperately single" chat room.  No matter how saintly and pious we may portray ourselves we all have our proud moments a la Stuart Larkin, "Look what I can do!" Attention! Over here, please. Thank you. Modern technology and social media has provided us all with ample opportunity to voice our opinions and reveal our ugliest duck faces whether or not others want to see or read our BS. As a culture we have become more vain and  obsessed with ourselves due to social networking. And we are all guilty. At one time I belonged to three social media websites including Facebook, four work related networking sites, five freelance networks, Twitter,  and Google. Are you supposed to dread checking your email every day? We spend more time deleting junk mail and spam than responding to anything substantial..
      We are teaching our children to be self-absorbed, self- serving, self -promoting arrogant bastards just like their parents.  Adults are required to whore themselves on any number of employment/university related websites, Tweet thoughtful or amusing snippets of  daily existence and post endless photo streams of their adorable children, attractive mates or lovable pets for others to covet and admire. Whatever we think we possess we throw it at society like monkeys throwing poop. Here, take that shit and "like" it.

    On the flip side of our narcissistic tendencies we are also creating a culture of concerned advocates where  many teens and young people are more aware of local community and global issues. We are able to communicate and share ideas quickly and conveniently. We have access to unlimited online documentation, literature and information to assist in our own education. Technology has revolutionized advertising for business, fundraising and nonprofit groups. Freelance artists, writers and workers are no longer chained to a 9to5 cubicle. These are all incredible advances.

      Still, at some point or another I believe it's normal to be a little sick of yourself. It's normal and healthy to delete the Facebook account or shut down the Tumblr. We like to think we are utilizing these social media resources to effectively communicate with our families and friends. But are we really saying anything valuable besides "look at me?"  Why do we need people we barely know and "friend ed" on a whim to validate us when true validation only comes from within?  Are we keeping in touch because we truly love and care about others or are we just feeding that hungry shark?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

" Call it what you want. Just call it what you want..."

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."-
 William Shakespeare- Romeo and Juliet
“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables     

    After great anticipation across the globe we know it's a boy for Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. The birth was announced July 22, 2013 via a formal press release issued by Kensington Palace, which stated that the duchess "safely delivered  a son" at 4:24 p.m., local time, weighing 8 lbs., 6 oz. What we haven't heard (as of this writing ) is what the royal baby is going to be named.
     Our names are more than a bunch of letters thrown together to sound pleasant to the ear. Names are more than a convenience allowing us to talk to each other. Names are a gift or a curse from our parents and ancestors. They may define our history, culture or traits of our family heritage. Is your name Rainbow or River? Apple or Tennessee? Rumor or North? Why? Every name has a story. Our names come to define us. It will be  interesting to learn the royal baby moniker but in the mean time there is plenty of speculation among Americans about what the name should be. Some have suggested George William Spencer or George Phillip William Edward. Thankfully, we have no say in the matter. Here is a just a small creative sample provided, overheard and read on recent blogs.

"As an English baby, John Paul George Ringo would be appropriate."

"I'm going to say Mountbatten or Arthur.. Maybe Oscar, or Winston, Calvin or Collin..something modern and off the wall unique.  How about Bean? Wade maybe."   (Wade?)

"They should call him, Junior." (from our Southern friends.)

one sports fan offered,  "The royal baby name should be Spenser Beckham Alexander, Prince of Cambridge"

"I hope the royal couple doesn't choose something ordinary and assumed. It would be more exciting if they went with a Benjamin, Trent, Brooks, something of that nature. Still a nice name, just not so typical as the ones suggested. That way, the child can make a name for himself and feel like it is his own. " -Sarah   

"If they named their baby boy Frances, that would seriously be the coolest thing considering that's my name!! And I really love John for the boy, it's simple but very authoritative!"-Frank

"My money is on Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All....or Alfie."-CNN poster

"I hope this Future King has an ORIGINAL name. Another King George will be as boring as watching paint dry!-Haley

Playing Vegas Odds in the United Kingdom

Ladbrokes odds:

George — George has been the consistent frontrunner for the male heir with odds running around 12/1. There have been six King Georges reigning over England, including the present Queen's late father who was born Albert but chose to be named King George after his coronation.(atleast that would cover one Beatle) 5/1

James — The name has strong royal ties, with two English Kings and six Scottish Kings named James. Lil' Jimmy Jam, Jamie,  Slim Jim, Jim Bob  2/1

Charles — Prince William and Kate may want to pay tribute to Prince William's father, Prince Charles, in the form of a middle name. There have been two Kings of Britain named Charles, with the name deriving from the French word for "Manly". Baby Chuckie, Chuckmeister,  Chaz.  20/1

Harry — Another possibility is that Prince William will pay tribute to his brother, Harry, whose name is used as a nickname of Henry and Harold and means "home ruler". Popular with Harry Potter and Harry Styles fans. (Henry 5/1)

Philip — The royal baby's middle name could honor William's grandfather, Prince Philip, who recently celebrated his 92nd birthday in June. Odds for Philip are 10/1

Alexander — Alexander has been a popular choice, but the royal baby wouldn’t be the first Alexander Cambridge in the royal family. Major-General Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge was the 1st Earl of Athlone and husband to Princess Alice of Albany (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria). This is all so Game of Thrones.  10/1

Richard — William and Kate might opt for a traditional royal name, like Richard, for their firstborn child. Little Ricky. 16/1

Louis – The royal couple may choose Louis for their little boy’s name, honoring Prince Louis Alexander ( my father was a Louis Alexander too. King Louie, House of More Ruler of Children. Are we royal descendants? Ah..that's a big negative.) of Battenberg who married the granddaughter of Queen Victoria and was grandfather of the Duke of Edinburgh. 16/1

Arthur – This name would pay tribute to King Arthur, the legendary British leader who led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. A 21st Century King Arthur  may be a possibility. And not Dudley Moore's or Russell Brand's Arthur who I bet you were thinking of....16/1


Friday, July 19, 2013

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries...."

“The indifference, callousness and contempt that so many people exhibit toward animals is evil first because it results in great suffering in animals, and second because it results in an incalculably great impoverishment of the human spirit.”-Albert Einstein

Sunday, July 21st is "No Pet Store Puppies Day" On this day the ASPCA highlights awareness of the serious issues of puppy mills and over breeding in the US.
Thousands of pet store owners in your own neighborhood  may have adorable designer puppies for sale. Many stores and online companies advertise they can supply their customers with any and all "popular breeds". Where do the puppies come from? Store owners will tell you that they don't get their puppies from puppy mills and say their puppies are all from (United States Department of Agriculture) "USDA licensed breeders."  What does that actually mean? If you investigate a little further you will discover many USDA licensed breeders are no consolation.

     The standards of "care" required by the USDA are disturbingly inadequate and not what most people- animal lover, advocate or not- would consider the least bit humane. According to the ASPCA, under this federal Animal Welfare Act, which is enforced by the USDA, dogs in commercial breeding facilities can legally be kept in cages a mere six inches longer than the dog in each direction. If you have difficulty picturing what this looks like go to the ASPCA website and you can view some appalling photographs recently taken at these "breeder" facilities. It's extremely hard for people to look at  photo's of animals being tortured and it damn well should be. If you have a conscience it should invoke feelings of sickness and disgust. There are other countries in the world that are much more brutal with dogs. Their treatment is  much more severe and citizens, law enforcement and activists are working together to stop the greedy vicious cycle of stealing, maiming, skinning alive and then selling dogs and puppies for food. We as Americans cannot allow this to happen in our country.  In the US right now dog cages in puppy mills and breeding facilities are stacked on top of one another as dogs live out their entire lives this way. They never step paws on the ground or the grass, breathe fresh air, receive veterinary care or even get cuddled or stroked by a human hand. Some breeding dogs will spend their lives outdoors exposed to the elements or crammed inside small dog house like structures. They are suffering in pain, hungry, there fur is matted and covered in urine and feces.
   Believe it or not, it's completely legal in the US to house dogs and pups in cages with wire flooring. The standards of care currently required are leaving disastrous loopholes for dogs to be severely mistreated.  Female breeding dogs have little or no rest and recovery time between bearing litters.  Even more unbearable is the fact that when, after a few years, the females can no longer reproduce or when that "popular breed" goes out of “style,” the dogs are often abandoned, shot or starved to death. Most of the female breeder dogs are only fours years old when put to death. As painful as this may sound,  please imagine your own pet. Imagine what it would be like for you to see your own dog or puppy suffer. You would never allow this to happen if you could prevent it, right?  You can. You can do more than you realize. Imagine that you do something to save just one animals life. Imagine if we all did something to help. Now stop imagining and  please, do it.

For more information please go to

“In our day, there are stresses and fractures of the human-animal bond, and some forces at work would sever it once and for all. They pull us in the wrong direction and away from the decent and honorable code that makes us care for creatures who are entirely at our mercy. Especially within the last two hundred years, we've come to apply an industrial mind-set to the use of animals, too often viewing them as if they were nothing but articles of commerce and the raw material of science, agriculture, and wildlife management. Here, as in other pursuits, human ingenuity has a way of outrunning human conscience, and some things we do only because we can--forgetting to ask whether we should.”
Wayne Pacelle, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them     

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

" energy creates energy....."

"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you."-
Oprah Winfrey

We all want to begin each new day with intention and energy but it's normal and natural to have a morning when we just don't want to get out of bed. When the days we struggle seem to out number the days we rise with enthusiasm it's time to examine our own mental motivations. There are physical reasons we have difficulty with our energy levels as well. Here is a daily dose of energy boosting reminders often ignored or forgotten.

Water- Dehydration causes fatigue. We need that high quality H20 to survive. When we feel fatigued we are more likely to be unfocused and unhappy. One sure sign of dehydration is dark urine rather than a healthy pale. We need water to energize our cells and stay alert. Sipping six glasses of water or more a day will make a huge difference in how you feel.

Caffeine- Did you know the average American consumes 200 milligrams of caffeine per day ?Contrary to many studies low to moderate caffeine consumption is good for us. Caffeine gives you an extra dose of energy by helping your body fuel itself by stimulating lipolysis. Lipolysis is the breakdown of stored fats into fatty acids which can then be used by muscle and other tissues as energy. Most supplements marketed as energy boosters for athletes and those trying to lose weight are caffeine-like stimulants. You get the same effects from drinking coffee and it's probably safer. You should always consult a doctor before taking any supplement.

Go Outside and Play-  If you spend most of your work day indoors behind a desk it's imperative that you take a mini-outdoor nature break. Eat lunch outside or take fifteen minutes to soak up the sun while exploring your surroundings. Fresh air and oxygen is recharging physical energy and stimulating mental activity. Essential advice for cubicle monkeys every where is move, move, move. You don't have to spend hours and hours at the gym. Many of us have a daily exercise routine such as cycling or yoga but even if you don't a simple afternoon or evening stretch can boost your mood and energy levels enough to make a noticeable difference.

Music- There are few things in life not made sweeter by adding music. Did you know it actually energizes your body and mind? Music has the power to alleviate pain, soothe our souls, spark our memories and inspire our movements.  Music has the power to motivate us during a run or a work out or jump start  brainstorming ideas while sitting at our desk. So when you're feeling low and lethargic download your favorite band or movie soundtrack. Music is so deeply personal to us even tempo and beat will cause varying reactions in our body. Choose music that makes you move and feel good.

 Remember a temporary loss of energy can be associated with any of the sources mentioned above and more.  Most importantly, we sustain and renew our energy levels by focusing on our true passions.

Friday, July 12, 2013

"dreams were the first movies..."

“Certain things leave you in your life and certain things stay with you. And that's why we're all interested in movies- those ones that make you feel, you still think about. Because it gave you such an emotional response, it's actually part of your emotional make-up, in a way.”
― Tim Burton, Burton on Burton     


 My family loves movies. When we have a chance to be together during a holiday or a visit we usually plan a trip to the movie theater. Recently, my sister Laurie had the opportunity to take time away from her busy schedule to enjoy a film with her family. She agreed to answer a few questions about one of the hottest summer movies out right now, The Lone Ranger. The Lone Ranger stars Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer with an appearance by Helena Bonham Carter. This particular 2013 version of the American western film is produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films and was directed by Gore Verbinski.

Me: What was your first impression of the movie?
   Laurie:   I couldn’t believe how well the make-up crew did in the opening scenes.

 Me: Did you ever watch the Lone Ranger TV show?
 Laurie:   I watched a few reruns when I heard the movie was coming out.  I’m much too young to
         remember the series. 
  Me: What did/ or didn't you like about the Lone Ranger?
   Laurie:   I didn’t realize the Lone Ranger was a wimpy character.
  Me: Did you go see The Lone Ranger movie just to watch Johnny Depp's performance?
    Laurie:  Of course,  I’m a Johnny fan.  Hadn't heard of Armie before but he was very good and I would  go see another one of his movies.
 ( side note; this means she thinks Armie is hot. She loves Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson too. Her husband is going to get upset with me if I reveal all of her movie star crushes so to be fair my celebrity film infatuation is the luscious lipped British actor Tom Hardy.)
  Me: What is your favorite Johnny Depp movie and why?
   Laurie:  I like the Pirate of the Caribbean series.  Just look at his eyes and his smile and you can tell why.  He was a very intelligent pirate. 
(first requisite for any pirate, eyes and smile)
  Me: Would you recommend seeing the Lone Ranger movie to everybody?
   Laurie:   I’m upset with a few comments that have been made about Johnny and the movie but I recommend  that teens and up see it.  Walt Disney had high standards and this movie is just another example of this  

 To read more regarding the controversy follow this link .
  Me: If you had directed this movie what would you have done differently?
  Laurie: I thought it was well done.  Didn’t like Cavendish’s character but the good guys always win.
  Me: Who is your favorite sibling? 
 Laurie: Trick questions I see.  Ron Piggy, no doubt!
 (Drat! She didn't fall for it. She was supposed to say me of course)
Speaking of "Ron". Happy 17th Wedding Anniversary to Dave and Krissy on the 13th! 
  Me: Who is your favorite actor of all time? 
  Laurie: That is a hard question.  I don’t think I could pick just one.  I know there are some actors who are good in whatever movie they are in.  I like comedy and romance mostly.  So different actors try different genres. 
  Me: What movie are you looking forward to seeing next?
   Laurie: I’m going to see Grown Ups 2 with Ron.
Me: Excellent. I would like to see Grown Ups 2 as well. We all need a little more arrow roulette in our lives. Thank you for the interview my beautiful sis! Hugs and kisses.
 Love you and sweet dreams!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.”

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

The definition of poaching is
 the illegal taking of wildlife, in violation of local, state, federal or international law. Activities that are considered poaching include killing an animal out of season, without a license, with a prohibited weapon, or in a prohibited manner. Killing a protected species, exceeding one's bag limit or killing an animal while trespassing are also considered to be poaching. Poaching is not the same as legal hunting by any means and it has existed throughout history.

        Opinions among experts vary as to who and what is at the root cause of wildlife loss. Poaching, whether for meat, harvesting the latest commodity, or labeled trophy hunting all impact the continued decline of  wildlife, especially the leopard, lion and rhino.  With great sadness this naturally leads to more animals and birds on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) endangered species list.

      Organized crime is considered to be at the very core of many problems. These are the same groups, gangs or individuals who are behind both drugs and human and weapons trafficking. Killing wildlife becomes just another way to make money. Leopards are being poached for their skins, rhinos for their horns and lions for their commodity of bones. Beautiful animals that are an essential part of a delicate system are simply slaughtered by human greed.
      The survival of  our wildlife species are not being considered at all and an animals right to life is being tragically ignored. Exploitation. Money. Ego. All of these factors are destroying the natural balance of our wildlife and we cannot continue to brush aside this issue. Looking at documentary films, talking to wildlife experts or reading about poaching is extremely difficult. Most of us have a really hard time watching or hearing about what is being done to these animals.  But if we want to prevent or change the circumstances we need to be brave. I know from personal experience that looking at these films and seeing what happens to these animals makes me sick enough to throw up. Thankfully, there are thousands of people in this world who have much more courage reporting and documenting what we understandably can't stomach or what we choose to ignore. Although we like to think we are all separate and everything happens "out there" or "over there" it affects all of us. We are all connected.

 Below is a link to a fascinating, disturbing and hopeful series called BRINK. Warning: Graphic Content


Friday, July 5, 2013

"smiles everyone, smiles...."

"Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that."-George Carlin

         Laughter and physical exercise may have a lot more in common than we think. Both can boost our health and immune system.  All of us have been advised of the numerous benefits of an active lifestyle, but did you know that laughter not only supports the immune system, improves blood pressure, stimulates the organs but it also reduces pain? Levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine tend to decrease during bouts of laughter. These hormones can suppress the immune system, opening the floodgates to a host of infections, illnesses and general poor health. One study found that laughter significantly helped reduce stress and improve immune function which is an indication that laughter may be an extremely beneficial addition to treatments for cancer patients.  

          Laughter has been discovered as a very complex physical process. There are several theories on how to classify what we find humorous. Just listen to one of thousands of comedians or watch your favorite variety show. (Right now I'm working on an article about the best sketch comedy shows for another forum)  Any extreme emotion can make us laugh, which is sometimes why we laugh in what are considered "socially inappropriate" moments (like funerals or at accidents). When we hear someone else laughing it also triggers laughter, so it really is contagious. There is a great deal of research that indicates laughter is healthy, boosting our immune system but if you feel like you're getting sick or you don't have any energy, stop worrying about going to the gym, you just need to find people with a good sense of humor. 

 Below is a clip from comedian Jim Gaffigan espousing the joys of birthday cake.