Archive for the ‘Articles of Interest’ Category

So I’m working and email alert comes into my inbox.  New York Times article Suicide Bomber from U.S. Came Home Before Attack. As I reach the bottom I come across this:

“I lived in America: I know how it is.” he said. “You think you’re happy? You’re not happy. You’re never happy. I was never happy. I always sad and depressed.”

There will inevitably be a lot more demonizing and rejection by many who read the article.  However, I would like to offer a ray of hope to anyone feeling the same way as the young man.

When a whole planet seems to have turned against you, refuses to recognize you as a beautiful part of humanity, labels everything you are and everything that looks like you as something that needs to be destroyed, it is hard to connect with others or feel that life is worth living.  

You try to be happy but what is the point?  You get up in a good mood, you turn on the television and there is talk about how everything like you is evil.  You pray and calm down.  Some of your friends say why pray, who will help us other than death? You walk out the door and there are stares and comments on a good day.  Most days probably worse.  

You try to explain: look people, I’m not saying everything about my people is right, we are definitely different from your people, there are things I don’t agree with in my customs and your customs but it does not make me evil.  All of a sudden self proclaimed experts tell you “facts” about your beliefs that are so far from the truth you wonder how this person calls themselves a rational human being.  You are told what you “must believe” is true and you are told what you “must be thinking” and why when nobody has taken the time to even ask you if that is true.  Most of the time, those that do ask are just waiting for you to say a word or phrase that anyone else would use in order to misconstrue what you say into a warped representation of your beliefs. Anything you say or do is ALWAYS used against you.

So, you stop speaking.  You only socialize with those who are exactly like you.  You see those like you and everyone is angry.  Everyone feels hated.  Tempers flare.  Someone says something and that hurts someone and, next thing you know, those exactly like you are at each others throats.  There is no end to the constant fighting and negativity.  All you want as a human being is to find acceptance and peace but where? how? when?  

No, I’m not Middle Eastern or Islamic but I am half Kenyan, half Puerto Rican.  I wish I could say that in 2014 humanity in general has evolved past the stigmas that have destroyed countless of lives over the centuries but it has not.  

What I do know, if you behave like the stories the stories win.  Stay alive, stand firm, stand strong.  Those who attack have an inner war that is not yours.  Keep your peace by letting them keep their war inside themselves.  Don’t put their war inside you.  Your goal is for your humanity to win.  If you destroy yourself and others, how will your life stand in testimony to the truth instead of the lies?  



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This NYT slideshow depicts a digital waste dump in Ghana


The last slide bears the following caption:

“The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary 
Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, agreed to in 1989 and now adopted 
by a majority of nations, was meant to stop the dumping of toxic waste in poor 
countries. But rules get complicated when the waste arrives as a gift.”

The problem is also not limited to Ghana.  It affects all low-income countries in the same manner and goes beyond e-waste to include old refrigerators with freon and other waste contaminants that have been banned in high-income countries.

When it comes to hazardous waste, there is little benevolence involved (i.e. the problem is not rooted in charitable donations).  Developing countries have become a target dumping ground for hazardous waste dumping.

Wikipedia: Environmental Dumping http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_dumping

Encyclopedia of the Earth: Transboundary dumping of hazardous waste


“While some transactions generated little or no controversies, two highly-publicized incidents of dumping of toxic waste which backfired were reported in June 1988. More than 15,000 tons of incinerator ash from the city of Philadelphia, U.S. was dumped on Kassa Island in Guinea by Bulkhandling, a Norwegian company. The dumping was reportedly carried out with the collaboration of a Guinean company, the complicity of four officials of Guinea’s Ministry of Trade, and the reported involvement of the Norwegian Consulate Office in Conakry, Guinea. The four Ministry of Trade officials each received a four-year jail term while the Guinean government ordered that the ash be removed.”

Attempts at Solutions:

Basel Action Network http://www.ban.org/ban_news/2009/090624_stop_dumping_on_developing_countries.html

Peacemeal recycling efforts



The problem continues to grow

Feb 23, 2010 Science Daily: Hazardous E-Waste Surging in Developing Countries http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222081911.htm

Jun 8, 2010 UN Radio Toxic Waste Dumping a Breach of Human Rights http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/detail/96845.html

Despite those who assert that regulation causes problems and increases costs, it is clear that compliance cannot be achieved through voluntary measures.  Strict Toxicity Limit,  Recycling and Waste Management Regulations  need to be developed and implemented across the board (i.e. in all countries).  Hefty fines (as in fines that truly serve as a deterrent not those that can be written off as a cost-of-doing business) also need to be enforced.  For governments in desperate need of new revenue sources, this is a readily identifiable source of income.

Final thoughts:

“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers.”
1 Timothy 1. 8-9.

or for those who prefer non-religious quotations

“The good need fear no law; it is his safety, and the bad man’s awe.”
Ben Jonson

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So many examples in the news of what NOT to do that I figured I should start posting examples of business done right.

Paid Volunteers is Cheaper than Re-Training
NaviStar Diesel (Huntsville, AL)

When faced with shortage of contracts, this company’s branch in Alabama kept employees on the payroll (with full benefits) and let them work as volunteers in the local community.

Navistar website http://www.navistar.com/Navistar/

ABC News story http://abcnews.go.com/WN/navistar-saves-jobs-50-employees-volunteering-program/story?id=10104687

I’ve seen comments that they are replicating a program Toyota used in 2009 but cannot find details on Toyota’s program. I did find an article on Toyota and Walgreen’s teaming up in Buffalo to operate a company sponsored health care clinic

Rural Outsourcing in Economically Distressed Areas
NewBold Technologies (East Liverpool, OH)

When so many face the pressure of offshore IT outsourcing, this company is successfully using the same model to provide jobs for people in rural America. They focused on creating a 1yr training program for students who don’t necessarily want to go to college and job placement rates are 94%

NewBold website http://newboldtec.com/aboutus.aspx

Got the story from the Pittsburgh Technology Council http://www.pghtech.org/news-and-publications/teq/article.aspx?Article=2002

NewBold wants to expand their model to other economically distressed areas in the U.S.

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This 18min video is a must see TED talk!



Bad News:

  • 27 million people (in 2010) facing same conditions as during height of the slave trade (i.e. forced to work under constant violence/threat of violence and with no pay).
  • This is double the number of slaves that came out of Africa during the entire transatlantic slave trade.
  • Problem is found everywhere except for Greenland and Iceland.
  • People are not usually kidnapped but rather living in very poor conditions and recruited with the promise of a paying job.
  • Locations with high concentrations of slaves are also locations with extreme environmental destruction.

Good News:

  • This only occurs in places where the rule of law is absent.
  • Slavery is illegal in every country and has been pushed to the edges of our global society.
  • 27 million people = smallest fraction of the global population to ever be in slavery.
  • The $40 billion that they generate into the global economy every year also equals the smallest proportion of the total global economy (smallest proportion also in historical terms).
  • We have the resource capability to completely eradicate slavery from human history within our lifetime.
    • Cost = $400/slave = total of $10.8 billion = what people in the US spend in 1 year on blue jeans or tech gadgets or what a City like Seattle will spend on its light rail system or Intel’s 4th quarter earnings
  • This money would not be spent to buy people out of slavery because this would reward the enslavers.  Money would be spent on the process and technical assistance providers who help slaves achieve liberation and rebuild their lives.  The process usually takes between 2 to 5 years.
  • ROI (Return on Investment)
    • Those who are liberated become empowered over their economic futures and local economies begin to flourish because they are now working for their own benefit.
    • Moral rectitude and peace of mind/human dignity.
    • (Not mentioned in the Talk but, arguably, if the worst environmental degradation is being accomplished through slave labor then by ending slavery we are also ending the environmental degradation).

Lots more interesting facts and issues raised in the video….

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Granted I’m a TED Talks junkie but this one is amazingly fascinating!


Ron Eglash is an ethnomathematician (someone who studies the relationship between mathematics and culture).  Yes, you can actually get paid to do this.  He studies fractal math and the design patterns of African architecture caught his attention as being inherently fractal.

Eglash got a Fulbright to research this in greater depth and has discovered that the findings go beyond architecture.  We can learn from Africans and their fractals in everything from computer design to how to better teach math to how to improve capitalism, even how to deliver mail. What I found most fascinating is, thus far, Eglash has found that the inherent use of fractals is unique to the African culture. Yes, there is no 1 African culture but he does find the traditional use of fractals to be pervasive in several different African countries.

For those who are interested in more of this type of information, I got the link through Penn State’s Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK) listserve http://www.ed.psu.edu/icik/

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Free trade, loss of support systems crippling food production in Africa.

Reposted from ScienceDaily February 16, 2010

Citation: Oregon State University (2010, February 16). Free trade, loss of support systems crippling food production in Africa. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100215174136.htm

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