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All kinds of Human trafficking: Forced child labor, sweatshop factories, immigrants, house helpers, sex slavery

Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to compel another person’s labor.

By Noy Thrupkaew http://www.ted.com

About 10 years ago, I went through a little bit of a hard time. So I decided to go see a therapist. 

I had been seeing her for a few months, and one day she asked: “Who actually raised you until you were three?” Seemed like a weird question.

I said, “My parents.” And she said, “I don’t think that’s actually the case; because if it were, we’d be dealing with things that are far more complicated than just this.”

It sounded like the setup to a joke, but I knew she was serious. When I first started seeing her, I was trying to be the funniest person in the room. And I would try and crack these jokes, but she caught on to me really quickly, and whenever I tried to make a joke, she would look at me and say, “That is actually really sad.” 

I knew I had to be serious, and I asked my parents who had actually raised me until I was three? And to my surprise, they said my primary caregiver had been a distant relative of the family. I had called her my auntie.

I remember my auntie so clearly, it felt like she had been part of my life when I was much older. 

I remember the thick, straight hair, and how it would come around me like a curtain when she bent to pick me up; her soft, southern Thai accent; the way I would cling to her, even if she just wanted to go to the bathroom or get something to eat. 

I loved her, but [with] the ferocity that a child has sometimes before she understands that love also requires letting go.

But my clearest and sharpest memory of my auntie, is also one of my first memories of life at all. I remember her being beaten and slapped by another member of my family

I remember screaming hysterically and wanting it to stop, as I did every single time it happened, for things as minor as wanting to go out with her friends, or being a little late. I became so hysterical over her treatment, that eventually, she was just beaten behind closed doors.

Things got so bad for her that eventually she ran away

As an adult, I learned later that she had been just 19 when she was brought over from Thailand to the States to care for me, on a tourist visa. She wound up working in Illinois for a time, before eventually returning to Thailand, which is where I ran into her again, at a political rally in Bangkok. 

I clung to her again, as I had when I was a child, and I let go, and then I promised that I would call. I never did, though: I was afraid if I said everything that she meant to me — that I owed perhaps the best parts of who I became to her care, and that the words “I’m sorry” were like a thimble to bail out all the guilt and shame and rage I felt over everything she had endured to care for me for as long as she had.

I thought if I said those words to her, I would never stop crying again. Because she had saved me. And I had not saved her.

I’m a journalist, and I’ve been writing and researching human trafficking for the past 8 years,  and even so, I never put together this personal story with my professional life until pretty recently. 

I think this profound disconnect actually symbolizes most of our understanding about human trafficking. 

Human trafficking is far more prevalent, complex and close to home than most of us realize.

I spent time in jails and brothels, interviewed hundreds of survivors and law enforcement, NGO workers. And when I think about what we’ve done about human trafficking, I am hugely disappointed. Partly because we don’t even talk about the problem right at all.

When I say “human trafficking,” most of you probably don’t think about someone like my auntie. You probably think about a young girl or woman, who’s been brutally forced into prostitution by a violent pimp. That is real suffering, and that is a real story. That story makes me angry for far more than just the reality of that situation, though.

As a journalist, I really care about how we relate to each other through language, and the way we tell that story, with all the gory, violent detail, the salacious aspects — I call that “look at her scars” journalism.

We use that story to convince ourselves that human trafficking is a bad man doing a bad thing to an innocent girl. That story lets us off the hook: “I am Not a bad person. It shouldn’t be my problem”…

It takes away all the societal context that we might be indicted for, for the structural inequality, or the poverty, or the barriers to migration. 

We let ourselves think that human trafficking is only about forced prostitution, when in reality, human trafficking is embedded in our everyday lives.

Forced prostitution accounts for 22% of human trafficking.  10% is in “state- imposed forced labor” and 68 % is for the purpose of creating the goods and delivering the services that most of us rely on every day, in sectors like agricultural work, domestic work and construction.

That is food and care and shelter. And somehow, these most essential workers are also among the world’s most underpaid and exploited today. Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to compel another person’s labor.

And it’s found in cotton fields, and coltan mines, and even car washes in Norway and England. It’s found in U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s found in Thailand’s fishing industry. That country has become the largest exporter of shrimp in the world. But what are the circumstances behind all that cheap and plentiful shrimp? 

Thai military were caught selling Burmese and Cambodian migrants onto fishing boats. Those fishing boats were taken out, the men put to work, and they were thrown overboard if they made the mistake of falling sick, or trying to resist their treatment. 

Those fish were then used to feed shrimp, The shrimp were then sold to 4 major global retailers: Costco, Tesco, Walmart and Carrefour.

Human trafficking is found in places you would never even imagine.

Traffickers have forced young people to drive ice cream trucks, or to sing in touring boys’ choirs. Trafficking has even been found in a hair braiding salon in New Jersey.

The scheme in that case was incredible. The traffickers found young families who were from Ghana and Togo, and they told these families that “your daughters are going to get a fine education in the United States.”

They then located winners of the green card lottery, and they told them, “We’ll help you out. We’ll get you a plane ticket. We’ll pay your fees. All you have to do is take this young girl with you, say that she’s your sister or your spouse. 

Once everyone arrived in New Jersey, the young girls were taken away, and put to work for 14-hour days, 7 days a week, for five years. They made their traffickers nearly 4 million dollars.

hat have we done about it? We’ve mostly turned to the criminal justice system. But keep in mind, most victims of human trafficking are poor and marginalized. They’re migrants, people of color. Sometimes they’re in the sex trade.

And for populations like these, the criminal justice system is too often part of the problem, rather than the solution.

In study after study, in countries ranging from Bangladesh to the United States, between 20 and 60% of the people in the sex trade who were surveyed said that they had been raped or assaulted by the police in the past year alone.

People in prostitution, including people who have been trafficked into it, regularly receive multiple convictions for prostitution. Having that criminal record makes it so much more difficult to leave poverty, leave abuse, or leave prostitution, if that person so desires.

Workers outside of the sex sector — if they try and resist their treatment, they risk deportation.

In case after case I’ve studied, employers have no problem calling on law enforcement to try and threaten or deport their striking trafficked workers. If those workers run away, they risk becoming part of the great mass of undocumented workers who are also subject to the whims of law enforcement if they’re caught.

 Law enforcement is supposed to identify victims and prosecute traffickers. But out of an estimated 21 million victims of human trafficking in the world, they have helped and identified fewer than 50,000 people.

That’s like comparing the population of the world to the population of Los Angeles, proportionally speaking. As for convictions, out of an estimated 5,700 convictions in 2013, fewer than 500 were for labor trafficking.

Keep in mind that labor trafficking accounts for 68 percent of all trafficking, but fewer than 10 percent of the convictions.

10:13 I’ve heard one expert say that trafficking happens where need meets greed.

I’d like to add one more element to that. Trafficking happens in sectors where workers are excluded from protections, and denied the right to organize.

Trafficking doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in systematically degraded work environments.

You might be thinking, oh, she’s talking about failed states, or war-torn states, or — I’m actually talking about the United States. Let me tell you what that looks like.

 I spent many months researching a trafficking case called Global Horizons, involving hundreds of Thai farm workers. They were sent all over the States, to work in Hawaii pineapple plantations, and Washington apple orchards, and anywhere the work was needed.

They were promised three years of solid agricultural work. So they made a calculated risk. They sold their land, they sold their wives’ jewelry, to make thousands in recruitment fees for this company, Global Horizons. 

But once they were brought over, their passports were confiscated. Some of the men were beaten and held at gunpoint. They worked so hard they fainted in the fields. This case hit me so hard.

After I came back home, I was wandering through the grocery store, and I froze in the produce department. I was remembering the over-the-top meals the Global Horizons survivors would make for me every time I showed up to interview them. 

They finished one meal with this plate of perfect, long-stemmed strawberries, and as they handed them to me, they said, “Aren’t these the kind of strawberries you eat with somebody special in the States? And don’t they taste so much better when you know the people whose hands picked them for you?”

As I stood in that grocery store weeks later, I realized I had no idea of who to thank for this plenty, and no idea of how they were being treated.

So, like the journalist I am, I started digging into the agricultural sector. And I found there are too many fields, and too few labor inspectors.

I found multiple layers of plausible deniability between grower and distributor and processor, and God knows who else.

The Global Horizons survivors had been brought to the States on a temporary guest worker program. That guest worker program ties a person’s legal status to his or her employer, and denies that worker the right to organize. 

Mind you, none of what I am describing about this agricultural sector or the guest worker program is actually human trafficking. It is merely what we find legally tolerable. And I would argue this is fertile ground for exploitation. And all of this had been hidden to me, before I had tried to understand it. (No different of what’s happening in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates)

 I wasn’t the only person grappling with these issues. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, is one of the biggest anti-trafficking philanthropists in the world. And even he wound up accidentally investing nearly 10 million dollars in the pineapple plantation cited as having the worst working conditions in that Global Horizons case.

When Omidyar found out, he and his wife were shocked and horrified, and they wound up writing an op-ed for a newspaper, saying that it was up to all of us to learn everything we can about the labor and supply chains of the products that we support. I totally agree.

13:52 What would happen if each one of us decided that we are no longer going to support companies if they don’t eliminate exploitation from their labor and supply chains?

If we demanded laws calling for the same? If all the CEOs out there decided that they were going to go through their businesses and say, “no more”?

If we ended recruitment fees for migrant workers?

If we decided that guest workers should have the right to organize without fear of retaliation?

These would be decisions heard around the world. This isn’t a matter of buying a fair-trade peach and calling it a day, buying a guilt-free zone with your money. That’s not how it works.

This is the decision to change a system that is broken, and that we have unwittingly but willingly allowed ourselves to profit from and benefit from for too long.

We often dwell on human trafficking survivors’ victimization. But that is not my experience of them.

Over all the years that I’ve been talking to them, they have taught me that we are more than our worst days. Each one of us is more than what we have lived through. Especially trafficking survivors.

These people were the most resourceful and resilient and responsible in their communities. They were the people that you would take a gamble on. You’d say, I’m gong to sell my rings, because I have the chance to send you off to a better future. They were the emissaries of hope.

15:28 These survivors don’t need saving. They need solidarity, because they’re behind some of the most exciting social justice movements out there today.

The nannies and housekeepers who marched with their families and their employers’ families — their activism got us an international treaty on domestic workers’ rights.

The Nepali women who were trafficked into the sex trade — they came together, and they decided that they were going to make the world’s first anti-trafficking organization actually headed and run by trafficking survivors themselves.

These Indian shipyard workers were trafficked to do post-Hurricane Katrina reconstruction. They were threatened with deportation, but they broke out of their work compound and they marched from New Orleans to Washington, D.C., to protest labor exploitation. 

They cofounded an organization called the National Guest Worker Alliance, and through this organization, they have wound up helping other workers bring to light exploitation and abuses in supply chains in Walmart and Hershey’s factories.

And although the Department of Justice declined to take their case, a team of civil rights lawyers won the first of a dozen civil suits this February, and got their clients 14 million dollars.

16:49 These survivors are fighting for people they don’t even know yet, other workers, and for the possibility of a just world for all of us. This is our chance to do the same.

This is our chance to make the decision that tells us who we are, as a people and as a society; that our prosperity is no longer prosperity, as long as it is pinned to other people’s pain; that our lives are inextricably woven together; and that we have the power to make a different choice.

17:25 I was so reluctant to share my story of my auntie with you. Before I started this TED process and climbed up on this stage, I had told literally a handful of people about it, because, like many a journalist, I am far more interested in learning about your stories than sharing much, if anything, about my own.

I also haven’t done my journalistic due diligence on this. I haven’t issued my mountains of document requests, and interviewed everyone and their mother, and I haven’t found my auntie yet. I don’t know her story of what happened, and of her life now.

The story as I’ve told it to you is messy and unfinished. But I think it mirrors the messy and unfinished situation we’re all in, when it comes to human trafficking.

We are all implicated in this problem. But that means we are all also part of its solution.

Figuring out how to build a more just world is our work to do, and our story to tell. So let us tell it the way we should have done, from the very beginning.

Let us tell this story together.Romy Assouad shared this link  from Shahd AlShehail

“This is our chance to make the decision that tells us who we are, as a people and as a society; that our prosperity is no longer prosperity, as long as it is pinned to other people’s pain; that our lives are inextricably woven together; and that we have the power to make a different choice.”

A powerful dose of reality

Human trafficking is all around you. This is how it works Behind the everyday bargains we all love — the $10 manicure, the unlimited shrimp buffet — is a hidden world of forced labor to keep those prices at rock bottom. Noy…http://www.ted.com|By Noy Thrupkaew

For regaining confidence in Capitalism and sustainable growth: What is “Gold-paper currencies”?

Posted on December 1, 2008

I have this gut feeling that, if one major superpower does not adopt for a period gold currency, then confidence in paper money or investment gimmicks is No longer going to fly.

 In these uncertain financial crisis and economical deflation, I suggest a psychological incentive for people to recover some sense of value to their currencies. 

My idea is to issue hard currencies that are an alloy containing the quantity of gold commensurate to the large denominations.  This currency would be almost as thinner than paper money and more durable, and could not be forged, unless the amount of gold is Not the same as the officially issued currencies.

This project should be feasible: Gold can be made as thin as needed, and if we find a cheap metal or plastic that can add resistance and flexibility to the currency to be folded, and handled as paper money then everybody would be satisfied.

At first, the gold paper-like money could be distributed at a rate of say 1% higher over its real value to recover the upfront expenses, in addition to the increase in market value of gold, averaged once a week.

These extra expenses would not discourage the use of paper money for those who could not afford the extra cost of gold currencies.

The higher denomination currencies would be larger in order to keep the same thickness as the other smaller denominations.  As the value of gold would certainly keep increasing, the government would, at interval, retrieve the older currencies from the market and replace them with smaller size currencies containing the market value of the amount of gold in the alloy.

This idea is logical because the gold-paper currencies would require less gold as its value increases.

Travelers could then exchange their State own gold-paper money abroad and register them at any bank for Interpol investigations in case of thefts and get exactly the same money value of the respective States.

Obviously, all governments that signed in to this system would have to submit to international control when issuing gold-paper money for credibility and quality reasons.

I believe that with real gold-paper money then the businesses of currency speculations and rate of exchanges should wane and quickly disappear. 

What might remain is currency trade or the accumulation of gold in rich sovereign funds.

The governments would quickly learn to issue enough gold-paper currency to satisfy internal commerce.

The superpowers and regional powers would exercise political and military “incentives” on weaker and unstable States to issue more gold-paper currency than needed for inner commerce, but then they would have to deliver real gold and good value products to retrieve the surpluses.

The US Administrations do not have real value money or real value economy to hoard gold and will not be able to do so for many decades to come. Only China, India and the rich oil-producing States with small populations would be the major players in currency trade of gold-paper money.

There are several policies that governments would revisit to manage this new system. 

Governments might issues a composite weight of the amount of gold-paper and regular paper money that should satisfy internal commerce. 

Either the gold-paper money would concentrate in the hands of the rich and thus reducing commerce to regular money, with industries specialized in high quality and luxury products for the rich and industries focusing on lower quality and basic products for the masses.

Or the little people would not desist from the gold-paper and use them as personal saving account in their homes and thus deflation would hit the economy due to the lack of currency circulation.

Consequently, governments would have choices to either limit the amount of gold-paper in circulation to encourage circulation of money or eliminate regular paper currencies to force the masses into liberating their hoarded gold-paper.

The same pitfalls and recurrences of the present monetary system would be exhibited, but the remedies would be more straightforward to comprehend by the common people.

An interesting phenomenon will emerge: cultures where mostly little people horde the gold-papers and cultures where gold-papers are concentrated in the class of the rich. 

Well, if there is civilization clashes then this division between the two types of cultures would set the foundations for a new sociology science where the manipulation of hard money is the first principle.

This system would require many fine tuning but the advantages must far exceed the disadvantages for smaller and weaker States. 

Countries with real value-added economies would not be affected by any mischievous financial embezzlement schemes in destabilizing their financial status because the middle classes would have re-learned the value of hard money and desist from speculative schemes for some times.

This re-learning process of the value of real hard money is the fundamental benefit of the new system so that financial history would repeat its cycle of development for the century. 

In any case a genuine International Monetary Control and Management Fund would be instituted to focus on the circulation of money within and among States and help in the synchronization of real commerce.

The crux of this gold-paper currency system is to stabilize growth to a sustainable level for human kind. 

Since gold is limited on Earth and its production has reached a limit, wild GNP rate of increases would slow down; redundant and irrelevant consumer products would make room for basic products essentials for the survival of mankind. 

The new economical strategies would focus on cutting cost, cutting waste, re-cycling and vigorously researching for substitute renewable energies for the benefit of all States.

Can Capitalism be reformed? Part 2

Posted on September 25, 2010

This part will discuss ownership of private land properties in capitalist systems and the practical political and legal reforms needed if change is to be effective.  

In the first part I wrote:

One:  Capitalism is based on four  foundations:

1. Private property of means of production;

2. free exchange (products, services…);

3.  open free market for commerce; and

4. availability of a vast pool of people willing to work for slave salary.

The main driving force is that the owner of the means of production (the bank, the partners, the shareholder, or the family)  should earn as much as the total salary that all workers receive in the business.

Consequently, an employee is hired when the owner can generate profit, at least as equal to the total salary of the hired worker.

Two:  The foundations of capitalism have proven Not to function except within strong State institutions, which are almost totally controlled by the capitalist elite classes, especially the Old Money classes that generated the wealth in previous slave working system.

The judicial system obeys laws decreed by parliaments that are dominated by the richest and political “aristocracy” classes, and the executive branch is intrinsically dominated by these classes, directly and indirectly.  

This whole political system is called “capitalist democracy” where people have the illusion of electing their representatives for a duration.  

After election, people are to behave as spectators:  Any serious disturbances are crushed in the name of Law and Order.

Three:  The previous article described Communist economic systems (Russia and China) and then, capitalism in Western European social-democratic States.

Four:  The one foundation that all economic systems of developed States share is free global trade; which means the liberty to exploiting the developing countries in natural resources and cheap labor.

The developed States are allowed to subsidize their agriculture, but the developing nations are not to do it and they cannot, even if they witness the need to do it .  

The developed States are to flood the markets of developing countries with affordable products with No “legal rights” for the developing nations to increasing import taxes in order to safeguarding their own meager means of productions.

The developed States (colonial powers) can find financial resources at low-interest rates (at 3%, even if they accumulated far higher sovereign debts than the poorer States), but not the developing nations( at least over 7% interest rates on loans

In return for blatant exploitation, the developed States agree “voluntarily” to setting aside a small fraction of their GNP to developing the infrastructures in the poorer States; mainly, self-serving their interests to improving and facilitating exploitation and transport of raw materials efficiently.

Five:  All “international” institutions such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Commerce Trades are dominated by the US, China, and a few European States. Thus, transparency and access to timely information and intelligence are practically denied the developing nations.

Six:  Financial institutions (banks, insurance companies…) are the real owner of means of production in capitalist systems.  They own 30% of the total wealth of a nation and represent only 1% of the population.  This is NOT acceptable.

Fact is, financial institutions generate three times more money than the combined tax collected by the government.  This is NOT acceptable. 

Any reforms should first target the level of profit that financial institutions are permitted to generate.  “Effective” interest rates should be lowered accordingly and tougher regulations imposed of these behemoths.

Small community banks with excellent transparency in decision process and lending policies should be the norm. 

The current status of multinational financial institutions is generating abnormal profit with no risks whatsoever.  

The aristocratic political family class (representing less than 10% of the population and hoarding more than 20% of the nation’s wealth or what is called “Old Money”) is the main beneficiary of the current capitalist system dominated by the financial barons.

Seven:  If capitalism needs salaried people, it must secure the fundamental right to work, a wide range of jobs that satisfy varied opportunity, access to affordable education, safe workplace, universal health coverage, caring for the elderly, and justice for people who worked most of their life for a comfortable retreat.  

Has capitalism satisfied the basic needs of its workforce?

Eight:  States should start taxing according to the number of employees hired and net revenue (not based on financial sheet profit):  These two criteria are the most objective representative of net profit and easy to investigate. 

This gimmick of taxing on “net profit” is an accounting fraud that is not objective or fair.

Companies relocating their factories or main business for cheaper workers must be taxed according to the original “national wages” of the workers. 

Companies substituting workers for robots should be taxed according to the number of workers substituted. 

States will be able to subsidize unemployed people until they find jobs and be imaginative enough to opening up newer job opportunities.

Nine:  There is a trend for owners with strong ethics and moral values to including employees as shareholders and participating in management decisions:  These companies are doing very well and not suffering from financial crashes. 

Institutions and companies for profit are amoral and do not deal in ethical conducts.  Ethics and morality are individual characteristics:  the more such individuals gather in groups to reclaim fairness and justice in actions the more institutions will be reminded of what is best for society.

Land and private property are the basis for the emergence of the “bourgeois and merchant” classes and which initiated the major leap forward into creating wealth.  

This system of private ownership lead to the abolition of feudalism and absolute monarchical powers that were backed by the clergy.

The structure of private ownership of land and properties materially weakened nobility and clergy and eventually displaced them.

Private ownership of land and properties are Not currently economically essential for capitalist system to function properly:  Enterprises can lease properties and resume their business as usual.  

It is the political ideology behind private properties that is the culprit.  Private property ownership remains as a reminder that aristocracy image of power must not vanish in order to retain political power in “democratic” political system.

Ownership of land and real estates must be legally abolished in order to have a serious chance for political reforms.  Land should be owned by communities and regulated by community councils.

Land and real estates should only be leased and never owned by individuals or enterprises.  Why?

First, inheritance of private real estates and money is the main reason for the existence of aristocratic lineage in wealth and politics.  The inheritance mentality encourages sustaining ancient beliefs that the aristocratic class is better fit to rule, guide, and lead simply because this class created the system that perpetuates its interests and egoistic power.

Second, land and properties leasing laws prevent inheritance problems and its successions of hate, suffering, and legal procedures.  

Land and real estates should be leased for a period No longer than 30 years and never renewed for any member of the family in order to dissuade political inheritance of images and statuses.  

Leases can be extended for three years under particular circumstances. For example, father, mother, and grandparents have the right to die in their property and not experience humiliation and exacerbation at old age.  I guess children will make sure that their folks remain at home and not be sent to specialized rest homes in order to enjoying a free location.

Third, leases on unused properties or uninhabited could be canceled.  Consequently, homes will be properly maintained and the homeless people will have the availability of shelter in unoccupied properties.  Families with crippled or handicapped children will have priority for occupying uninhabited properties.

Fourth, leased land and real estates offer greater opportunities for the newer generations to different life-style in habitat, sustainable energy, and better community life.

Fifth, enterprises may be allowed to renew the lease for specific duration as long as the nature of the business did not change or will not change after the renewal. For example, transforming from a manufacturer to real estates development is Not acceptable.

The third part of this series of articles will develop on election processes and laws reforms that would shift the odds for the middle class and lower classes to acceded to legislative and executive positions.

Note:  You may read about the Real Estates bubble that won’t burst and is converging to another financial crisis in https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/obama-praying-mantra-next-f-crash-not-on-my-watch/

Note: I was trying to link together disparate paragraphs from “This Side of Paradise” by Scott Fitzgerald and got carried away by our current state of affairs on climate changes, degraded natural life around Earth, and mass urbanization.

Are there still an exotic place/location I might deteriorate pleasantly?

Any place with an exotic God who is pretty slack, addicted to Oriental scents, delivered from success, hope and poverty?

Any place with many colors and many odors, and lust as a mode of expression of life?

A place I can be a flaneur and poseur and still emanate the illusion of substantive wisdom?

A place where it is possible to attach a positive value to life?

A place where it is easier to accept the notion that “I will submit to what all the community agrees to accept as value of our natural inclination”?

A place where Every child should have an Equal Start in life: that is the primary job of fair government institutions: a guarantee against starvation, free primary and secondary education and free preventive health care.

A place that develop a confident and educated mother to care for the early growth of their kids. A fair institutions that have the obligation for women to get their full equal rights as the males as citizens, get paid higher wages than the husbands for flexible and much reduced work schedule to be at home for her kids, without reduction in her promotion once the kids has grown up. Husbands cannot replace and substitute the mother in that crucial job.

I am watching documentaries of a few of these places where people used to pick up all the fruits they needed while taking a walk, and never minding to go hungry

Yes, places where they still board their canoes and go fishing and return to their “homes” build on the seashore or the mighty river.

And these documentaries have to remind me that these islands, and locations by clean and clear river will soon be submerged, due to climate change, and mass erection of totally useless mega dams, and over polluted water stream…

Do you have the skills to build you own island?

And from where will you bring the people with high “exotic belief system” that consider life and the living species as sacred natural ecosystem?

First a Palestinian State according to UN definition. Then negotiation for a State of “Palisrael”? (Palestine/Israel):

Posted on December 22, 2008

There are reams and reams of plans and counter plans and resolution suggested to containing this everlasting unjust and uncalled for reality of the 20th century monstrosity that permitted the establishment of the State of Israel by displacing its original inhabitants (the Palestinians), as so many monstrosities in this century.

There are two viable solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, short of exterminating one party or the other, or most probably both, that has been spreading death, disabilities, miseries, indignities and humiliation since 1920.

The Israeli Olmert PM has lately declared that the time to facing truth has come.

Since the Madrid convention in 1990 among the “Arab” States and Israeli delegations and mediated by the US Administration, during the tenure of Bush Sr. for a resolution of this conflict, it was becoming evident that the “Biblical” strategy of Israel, for further expansion and preemptive wars, is no longer tenable.

A resolution was contemplated but the US had an old battle plan to invade Iraq before resolving this conflict, pressured by the US Evangelical extremist movement in the institutions.

The Bush Jr. “Son” administration dusted off this war plan and invaded Iraq.

This invasion has failed miserably but Israel is no longer necessary for the strategic interest of the US in the Middle East:  The US has military bases in the Arabian Gulf, it has many heavy weight allies among the Arab States, and the price of oil on the market is far cheaper than the need to physically securing its exploitation and distribution in Iraq, elsewhere or even resuming plans to intimidating China and blackmailing her by outdated military presence in Iraq.

The return of the heavy investments of the US in Israel has been reflecting sharp negative rates for decades, politically, economically, and socially within the US society and foreign policies.

My plan is of two phases:

1. The first phase is recognizing the State of Palestine by the United Nation, a State self-autonomous, independent and all, and No conditions.  It is of primordial interest by the world community and the Jewish State that the Palestinian people recover their dignity and rights as a full fledged State and be permitted to exercise the complex task of administering and governing a State.

At least from a psychological necessity, the Palestinian people should feel that persistent resistance and countless “martyrs” for re-establishing their rights as legitimate and independent people have brought fruits, as any genuine national resistance ultimately should.

2. The second phase is the merging of the two States of Palestine and Israel into a confederate State with a central government and several self-autonomous “cantons”.

I can envisage the following cantons: West Bank, Gaza (including Escalon), Galilee (including Haifa and Akka), Judea (around Jerusalem and Bethlehem), the “East Shore” (Tel Aviv, Yafa), and the Negev (including Akaba).

I have this impression that the tight religious extremists on both sides would opt to move to Gaza and Judea, and the very secular citizens would move to the East Shore or Galilee and the economically minded people might reside in the Negev backed by strong financial incentives.

The second phase will witness the return of the Palestinian refugees as ordered by the UN resolution of 193 in 1948 and the refugees would have the right to select the canton of their preferences.

I can foresee that the key offices in the central government would be equitably distributed, including genders, shared by the Palestinians and Israelis and a rotation of key positions imposed.

The representation in the cantons would be proportional to the general census of the period (at 5 years intervals).  The representation among sects, factions, or other types of social divisions within each “people” would also follow the proportions in the census.

I suggest to the interest of the future “Palesrael” State that Israel do Not follow Lebanon insane experience, and limit foreign interventions.

The caste religious sect structure in pseudo-State of lebanon should be recognized so that the State of Palesrael might study the pitfalls and strength of such a system of co-existence and avoid the unnecessary miseries of minor civil wars and countless frustrations in its future unfolding.

It would be inevitable that the State of “Palesreal” be guaranteed a neutrality status (no preemptive wars within and outside its borders) by the world community and the regional powers.

Then, it is hoped and strongly desired that the State of Lebanon would secure the same neutrality status.  Amen.

Note 1: John Kerry, State Department chief, has been shuffling between Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas since 2013, trying to find a resolution to the Palestinian problem.

So far, Kerry failed. Israel has been building more settlements than ever before, annexing Jerusalem to become totally Jewish, and demanding that the Palestinians and the Arab leaders agree that Israel is a pure Jewish State.

Note 2: Current state of affairs is pressuring the USA to withdraw its forces from the Middle-East and should contemplate restricting its unquestioned support for created State of Israel.

Guess what my job is: Human Factors in Engineering?

Posted on June 25, 2009 (Written in November 13, 2005)

“Guess what my job is”

It would be interesting to have a talk with the freshly enrolled engineering students from all fields as to the objectives and meaning of designing products, projects and services.

This talk should be intended to orient engineers for a procedure that might provide their design projects the necessary substance for becoming marketable and effective in reducing the pitfalls in having to redesign for failing to consider the health and safety of what they produced and conceived.

This design behavior should start right at the freshman level while taking formal courses so that prospective engineers will naturally apply this acquired behavior in their engineering career.

In the talk, the students will have to guess what the Human Factors discipline is from the case studies, exercises and problems that will be discussed.

The engineers will try to answer a few of the questions that might be implicit, but never formally explicitly explained or learned in engineering curriculums, because the necessary courses are generally offered outside their traditional discipline field.

A sample of the questions might be as follows:

1. What is the primary job of an engineer?

2. What does design means?  How do you perceive designing to look like?

3. To whom are you designing?  What category of people?

4. Who are your target users? Engineer, consumers, support personnel, operators?

5. What are your primary criteria in designing?  Error free application product?

6. Who commit errors?  Can a machine do errors?

7. How can we categorize errors?  Any exposure to an error taxonomy?

8. Can you foresee errors, near accidents, accidents?  Take a range oven for example, expose the foreseeable errors and accidents in the design and specifically the display and control idiosyncrasy.

9. Who is at fault when an error is committed or an accident occurs?

10. Can we practically account for errors without specific task taxonomy?

11. Do you view yourself as responsible for designing interfaces to your design projects depending on the target users?

12. Would you relinquish your responsibilities for being in the team assigned to design an interface for your design project?

13. What kinds of interfaces are needed for your design to be used efficiently?

14. How engineers solve problems?  Searching for the applicable formulas? Can you figure out the magnitude of the answer?  Have you memorized the allowable range for your answers from the given data and restriction imposed in the problem after solving so many exercises?

15. What are the factors or independent variables that may affect your design project?

16. How can we account for the interactions among the factors?

17. Have you memorize the dimensions of your design problem?

18. Have you been exposed to reading research papers? Can you understand, analyze and interpret the research paper data? Can you have an opinion as to the validity of an experiment?

19. Would you accept the results of any peer-reviewed article as facts that may be readily applied to your design projects? Can you figure out if the paper is Not biased or extending confounding results?

20. Do you expect to be in charge of designing any new product or program or procedures in your career?

21. Do you view most of your job career as a series of supporting responsibilities; like just applying already designed programs and procedures?

22. Are you ready to take elective courses in psychology, sociology, marketing, and business targeted to learn how to design experiments and know more about the capabilities, limitations and behavioral trends of target users?

23. Are you planning to go for graduate studies?  Do you know what elective courses might suit you better in your career?

A “Transparent accounting”. Away from biased Elite Class “Net profit legal” laws?

Transparent accounting: Based on revenue and posted 9 years ago,

This is one of my Daydream ideas.

Revenue is the one item in the balance sheet that No corporation is about to cheat on, Not even gang and drug criminal organizations cheat on it. Why?

You cannot have a balance sheet or working statement or any other accounting gimmick without accurate revenue

Board of director members take their cuts directly from the total revenue.

They know how much the company is generating in gross profit, excluding side revenues and under the table bonuses and favors…

For example, the percentage on the revenue for their First cut, ahead of time, must correspond to 50% of the gross profit, and then all other “cost/expense” items can be changed to correspond to the expected net profit.

Even without the huge amount of data, financial and economical data, companies in each particular line of business have an appreciation of the gross profit before the legal year starts, based on the previous revenue and very accurate forecasting

Every item in the balance sheet is known as a percentage of the revenue.

You change a percentage and you know what the managers should be doing as consequences: Fire employees and how many, reduce facility costs, save on energy, training, quality of spare parts, inspection, quality control,…

Actually, all the accounting standards and accounting schools and degrees awarded to graduates are Not meant to fine-tune the accounting records of anything. 

Mostly, these degrees are to know and apply the laws “legal cheating” that benefit the Elite Classes in a society.

The government and the corporations have no need for all the accurate numbers and inspection of records and papers: They know the revenue and the proper percentage on the revenue that each item is measured accordingly.

Government can as easily and more accurately get the taxes on revenue, instead of waiting for the gross profit computation, and saving the citizens the exacerbation of enacting loopholes as large as the State of Montana.

If the financial and business communities consider the tax rate on revenue high or exaggerated, they can lobby to simply reduce the rate of the percentage on the revenue…What’s the big deal?

Is transparency anathema to governing?

Should government persist on creating more mysterious laws than the citizens are ready to swallow?

Is governing meant to constantly resume the financial emulation of cult organizations with code-names, secrecy, childish gimmick…?

Why the top 1% of corporations have to skim 20% of total revenue for example, then rearrange all the items in the balance sheet, so that the workers and employees sweat out negotiating on a better minimum wage?

Who is taking advantages of the small prints as footnotes in the balance sheet and other accounting gimmicks?

Why should the nation needs expert on how to comprehend the meaning of the footnotes, if transparency is the goal in transactions?

Occupy Wall Street protests should demand that accounting ratios should be transparent on a special accounting sheet:  Citizens must know how much the top 1% are actually paid, how much the middle management is paid, and how much the rank-and-file of workers are paid as a proportion of the total revenue…

Actually, who is generating the profit if Not the workers and employees, and who is making the economy grow, and who is defending the interests of the top 1%?

Occupy Wall Street protests task is to demand transparency in all financial undertaking, starting with a transparent accounting.

Restructuring engineering curriculums to respond to end users demands, safety and health

In 1987, Alphonse Chapanis, a renowned Human Factors professional, urged that published Human Factors research papers target the practical design need of the various engineering disciplines so that the research data be readily used by engineers.

Dr. Chapanis was trying to send a clear message that Human Factors main discipline was to design interfaces between systems and end users and thus, research papers have to include sections directing the engineers as to the applicability of the results of the paper to design purposes.

In return, it is appropriate to send the message that all engineering disciplines should include sections in their research papers orienting the engineering practitioners to the applicability of the results of the papers to the end users and how Human Factors professionals can judiciously use the data in their interface designs.

As it was difficult for the Human Factors professional to send the right message to the engineering practitioners, and still has enormous difficulty disseminating the proper purpose and goals, it would be a steep road for the engineers to send the right message that what they design is actually targeting the needs and new trends of the end users.

As long as the engineering curriculums fail to include the Human Factors field as an integral part in their structures it would not be realistic to contemplate any shift in their designs toward the end users.

Systems would become even more complex and testing and evaluation more expensive in order to make end users accept any system and patronize it.

So why not design anything right from the first time by being initiated and exposed to human capabilities and limitations, their safety and health?

Instead of recognizing from the early phases in the design process that reducing human errors and risks to the safety and health of end users are the best marketing criteria for encouraging end users to adopt and apply a system, we see systems are still being designed by different engineers who cannot relate to the end users because their training is not explicitly directed toward them.

What is so incongruous with the engineering curriculums to include courses that target end users?

Why would not these curriculums include courses in occupational safety and health, consumer product liability, engineers as expert witnesses, the capabilities and limitations of human, marketing, psychophysics and experimental design?

Are the needs and desires of end users beneath the objectives of designing systems?

If that was true, why systems are constantly being redesigned, evaluated and tested in order to match the market demands?

Why do companies have to incur heavy expenses in order to rediscover the wheel that the basis of any successful design ultimately relies on the usefulness, acceptability and agreement with the end users desires and dreams?

Why not start from the foundation that any engineering design is meant for human and that designed objects or systems are meant to fit the human behavior and not vice versa?

What seem to be the main problems for implementing changes in the philosophy of engineering curriculums?

Is it the lack to find enough Human Factors, ergonomics and industrial psychologist professionals to teach these courses?

Is it the need to allow the thousands of psychologists, marketing and business graduates to find outlet “debouches” in the marketplace for estimating users’ needs, desires, demands and retesting and re-evaluating systems after the damages were done?

May be because the Human factors professionals failed so far to make any significant impact to pressure government to be part and parcel of the engineering practices?

Note: I am Not sure if this discipline Human Factors/Ergonomics is still a separate field in Engineering or has been integrated in all engineering disciplines.

From my experience in teaching a few courses at universities, I propose that courses in Experimental Design be an integral course in all engineering disciplines: students graduate without having a serious idea how to run “sophisticated” experiments or know how to discriminate among the independent variables, the dependent variables, the control variable…and how to interpret complex graphs.

An Urban Detour in architecture?

Note: Re-edit of “An Urban Detour” by Rania Sassine (Book Review). March 28, 2009

Rania Sassine is a young Lebanese architect. The tiny book “Viree Citadines” is her first and written in French.

Rania is attempting to describe 24 imagined villages that might add variety to the landscape.

The fictional villages are divided into two categories:

The village-objects that resemble objects such as necklace, cone, spinning top, turning wheel, hoop, drawer, geological fault and

The village-adjectives such as magnetic, cloud, artist, show-biz, retirees, fairy tales, remembrance or souvenir,  and on.

I can imagine that the publisher is a close relative of Rania and encouraged her to give him the nod. We thus have got shapes, forms, and unlimited imaginations to dream of new dwelling quarters and communities.

What I will describe are my imagined villages on the main themes because it is a God sent opportunity to refresh my youthful dreams.

If you like to discover Rania’s imagined villages then you read her manuscript.

Imagine a Real Estates developer who acquired a hill.

At the top of the hill he builds a humongous tree-like edifice and from this tree flows a necklace of residences.

There are unlimited variations on the forms, pearls, color, and arrangement of the pearls or stones.

You could have a series of spherical houses or pine-like cones or other gems’ forms and shapes.

Imagine that the developer adds two mounds within the necklace, adjacent and in the shape of apples or pears for public gathering and a commercial center.  The houses could be detachable so that every spring a new look for the necklace is exhibited.

Imagine a flat terrain covered with glass-like materials for tanning and ice skating and the residences are underground.

When it rains or when it thunders or when the sun is blazing then you open a trap and descend a staircase to your house or to the common gathering theater or commercial center. A labyrinth of underground pathways should take you home.

Imagine that the houses in the town are bubbles that are transparent, colorful, and can be navigated to certain altitude.

The well to do can afford large bubbles with complex navigation consoles but the movement of these bubbles is restricted to an area and an altitude.

It would be advisable that clusters of bubbles be attached to one another through flexible tube-like bridges that never tangle up so that people can visit neighbors up in the air.

The elderly are reserved a ring-like bubble houses close to a cushioned ground.  The whole exercise is to never land, which required complex administrative and maintenance jobs.

Imagine a town in the shape of spinning top; it intersects with the ground in a single point and rotate around a seesaw axe.  Would you like this town to spin? Who might reside in it?

Imagine a town built in permanent clouds; an atmosphere of fiber between gas and liquid.

When you enter you have the sensation that thousands hands are touching you and palming you, where you cannot see anything but can hear sounds and music constantly.   Who might reside there and what could be its function and purpose?

Imagine a town reserved for characters in fairy tales, or simply tales, decked in the corresponding characters.  What could be its shape and what could it produce to stay financially stable?

Imagine a town where it rains constantly 24 hours and every day.  The clouds are made to converge to this town and deliver their bounty.  The town is built to store rain water and distribute it equitably to the rest of the world.  Who would like to work there and how workers could survive?

Imagine a town built as drawers with translational motions. What could be its purpose and who might reside there?

Imagine a town in the shape of hoops.  It gravitates around an antenna of photons linking earth to moon.  It can move upwards fast and follow the rotation of the sun 24 hours or decide not to see the sun for 24 hours. What could be its purpose and how could it generate profit?

Imagine a town in a hole, drilled for miles underground in the South Pole.  How could you design it and what could be its purpose?

Imagine a town in the form of a wheel, with a few concentric circles and the possibility to rotate at different angles. What could be its purpose and who would reside there?

This is starting to be a fun exercise.

Could you imagine other kinds of specialized towns in shape and purposes?

What Einstein equation has to do in a long life?

Of what a long life is constituted from?

I classified this article under “lucubrations” assuming that not many readers will select this category from among the other most interesting 45 categories in my blog.

In my daydream, I managed an association between Einstein equation for defining energy and my definition for life.

The details and clarifications of my equation were the products of my conscious state.

Einstein defined the energy of an object as the product of the “mass” of the object by the square of the speed of light C.

My definition of life is the simple sum of elementary tasks by the speed of light (No square involved).  Obviously, this equation needs plenty of clarifications.

First, the equation needs not be a product/multiplication or an integral function.. and we can consider many other relevant functions after the definition of a task is understood.

Let us consider that any simple activity is constituted of hundreds of infinitesimal tasks, carried successively or in parallel, in order for an activity to be accomplished.

For example, in line production, every activity is subdivided into smaller tasks with computed standard time to finish an activity.  The idea is to train workers to be skilled, within the standard time for each task, and even be paid accordingly to efficiency.

Mind you, acquiring skills and talent in any profession demands lots of repetition, investment of boring time and energy and plenty of musculoskeletal problems in the long run.

Well, every repetition of any task is counted in the equation. You can imagine how much life has been wasted just to be accredited as a professional or a skilled worker!

If our brain and limbs could master a skill by simply “getting it” from the first trial of exposure then, imagine how much life we would have saved for another interesting things.

We would feel that life is stretching so long that it seems ageless.

Repetition of a task include the thousands of times that we copy, paste, reclassify, review, re-dust off our productions and memories.

Can you imagine how much life has been wasted by going back to long past activities?

Night dreaming is an activity with thousands of takes to constitute a movie.

Even the recurring dreams, mostly the unwanted ones, are counted.

The second time we experience a “deja-vu” dream is Not as bad as the first projection: we tend to sit and watch as one of the audience, instead of being part of the movie.  We just wait for this bad film to finish since we feel helpless to stop it or even press “Pause”.

Listen, this is a long story and a long article and I will get to you later for further clarifications and details.

Okay, I am back and I revisited my formula and revised it drastically.

Evidently, very few tasks go as fast as light C.

For example, the movements and reactions of limbs are pretty slow compared to light.

Brain reactions are at best as fast as electrons or 20 thousands km per second.

One of the rare tasks is as fast as C such as in the case when someone says: “I fell in love from the first look.”  This performance has high value rating in life.

Since my math equation doesn’t factor in coefficient of quality or honesty, then there is no difference between “Falling in love from the first sight”, repeated a hundred times a day with same person; or with one hundred different women/person. The equation is neutral.

For example, if you are endowed with a vivid imagination and can recapitulate “the moment” in your mind ad infinitum, then you can summarize the best that life can offer and very efficiently.

My position is that it is the first occurrence counts the most, and recollecting this miraculous/happy “moment” over and over again beats all other kinds of tasks in whatever criteria system you adopt.

Life equation clearly shows that there are many sorts of activities that ruin quality of life.

What is your quality of life when you commute to work?  Repeating so-called automatic reactions in driving a car, a donkey, or a bike for hours a day… is definitely cases that worsen the impact and mock my formula.

For example, how often you regurgitate worries left over from yesterday when you commute?

How often you re-enact the clownish acting drama for the current day difficulties?

How often you ran a red light and ran over a lousy living person?  All these tasks count in the equation and should be eliminated the sooner the better.

Think of algebra and how to cancel out redundant variables so that your life equation looks much simpler and beautiful.

So, how did you decide to commute in order to “save time” in congested metropolis?

One small problem remains to be resolved before we set our mind to change our lifestyle to maximize the life equation and its many constraint equations:  How many tasks and activities can fill a lifetime without being repeated again? 

Are we indulging in repetitions simply because we lack the imagination to figure out plenty of activities?

Are traditions the main hurdle for our lack of imagination because it dangerously reduced licit or legitimate activities to be experienced?

How about getting on this wonderful job of revisiting taxonomies of tasks and activities that could excite you (or not) after retirement?

How about you fine tune the many tasks that constitute professional line fishing?

We dwell on routine tasks to lengthen our life span. The case of the Silent Majority.

We die early on under the enormous stress of inventing and creating new tasks, activities and excitement: feeling restless confronting all the indignities and inequities done to others.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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