Sunday, 12 January 2014

Strengthening Anti-Slavery Laws in the United Kingdom

An exciting new law has been proposed in the United Kingdom which would increase penalties for slaveholders.

Before continuing, a note about modern slavery. While slavery falls within the milieu of labour rights abuses, it is not the same thing as the situation endured by, for example, Walmart workers. The authors of Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery stated it very succinctly: "They are not simply underage workers or sweatshop workers. They are forced to work for no pay under the threat of violence."

In addition, Kevin Bales offers a very clear definition of modern slavery which clearly distinguishes it from capitalistic labour rights abuses. The following is from his Modern Slavery: A Beginner's Guide.

About the UK Law
From the BBC:
The Modern Slavery Bill aims to consolidate the offences used to prosecute those who enslave others into a single act. The draft Modern Slavery Bill aims to increase the maximum custodial sentence for offenders from 14 years to life. The new bill would also provide for automatic life sentences for offenders with prior convictions for very serious sexual or violent offences. ("Life sentences planned for slavery offenders," BBC News, 16 December 2013, at
Distinction Between Slavery and Trafficking
Another news article describes the measure as an anti-trafficking bill. It is important to note that some anti-slavery activists, including Kevin Bales, distinguish between slavery and trafficking.

("Trafficking in Persons in the United States")

Legal Recommendations
The BBC news article goes on to explain a potential limitation of this news law in terms of its reach:
The bill - which the Home Office says will be the first of its kind in Europe - will only apply specifically to England and Wales but ministers said they wanted it to have the 'broadest UK-wide effect.' A consultation will be held in Northern Ireland on the way forward while the UK and Scottish governments have agreed to work together while ensuring Scotland's 'distinctive approach' to the issue is maintained.
In this regard, Kevin Bales's organisation has already made it clear how important it is to co-ordinate among federal, regional, and urban authorities in order to combat slavery, stating that the US President should "work with state and local law enforcement associations to mobilize state and local law enforcement attention on anti-trafficking measures" (Recommendations for Fighting Human Trafficking in the United States and Abroad).

Take Action
Learn more. Sign petitions. Donate. Volunteer. Follow the links below.

Petition: "Support Scotland Proposal For Model Anti-Slavery Law"

Who is "Walk Free": "Gates Helps Australia's Richest Man in Bid to End Slavery," Elisabeth Behrmann, Bloomberg, 14 April 2013

What Walk Free has done: "India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria on Slavery's List of Shame, Says Report," Tim Hume, CNN, 17 October 2013

book: Modern Slavery: A Beginner's Guide, Kevin Bales

anti-slavery organisation: Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking

anti-slavery organisation: Tahirih Justice Center

Underground Railroad, in Saginaw, MI - an anti-domestic violence organisation which also assists survivors of slavery and trafficking

United Methodist Women

Presbyterian Women


Always with You

I wish that I could be there instead of here. I really do. Please know, though, that I am with you in spirit.

We recognise that there is a bit of the Divine in each of us whenever we greet each other with Namaste (see p 136 of Sacred Sanskrit Words). In so doing, we affirm that there is a bit of the Divine everywhere. So it is that we are indeed there for each other wherever we might be.

Facebook Knows Best, Dear (random public settings)

Good Morning, Lovelies!

Facebook has once again decided that it knows what is best for us all. It has been switching people's privacy settings to "public" so that all of their posts have gone public.

This means that 1. everything that you've been saying recently is visible to the entire world and 2. anything that others do in response (liking, commenting) is broadcast wily-nilly to their respective contacts.

What to do about it:
1. Check your posts for a little globe which indicates a public setting. If you see that little globe on your posts, go to and "limit past posts" to friends only.

2. Before you submit your next post, click the options next to the "post" button and set it to "friends." Doing so will change the setting for that post and all future posts until you change it again.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Facebook Privacy (or not)

Facebook doesn't care about our privacy. It's time that we started to care about each other, then.

Any time that anyone interacts with a public post on Facebook, it shows up in the "news" feed of that person's contacts. No-one has any control over any aspect of this any longer.

Interactions include the following:
* Commenting on a post.
* Liking a post.

Public posts effectively include the following:
* Posts made from personal profiles which are set to "friends-of-friends" or "public."
* Any post on a Page, even those which show up as "customised."
* Any post in an open group.
* Possibly also pinned posts in closed groups.

In the case of commenting, a person's comment is displayed, as well as the post to which the comment was made. Because of this, it is important that people know that their privacy settings impact other people - not just themselves.

It is also worth a person's time and effort to learn how tagging and the privacy of tagged posts and photos impacts one's own privacy.

Publicly Shaming Children Teaches Bullying as Normative

Spotted in the blogosphere:

"Destroying Your Child's Heart – One FB Picture At A Time"
by Heidi Stone

Public shaming is awful and is nothing less than societally sanctioned parental bullying. This is not funny or classy.  It is brutal and base. Not even a little bit funny.

1. Bully your kids and they will learn to fear you.  As in be afraid of you.  Cringing in your presence and hiding their lives from you.
5. They will think they are a joke, not to be taken seriously.  Their pain the only commodity to sell.
6. They will treat you as you have treated them.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Love Is

Angels Among Us

* five fluffy pillows
* citrus-coriander lotion
* breakfast in bed
* "Relax, enjoy. Think of it as a vacation."
* "How are you, Jaanu?"
* "And what about my friend Freedom?"

Love is a loop of communication. A roof over the head, food in the belly. A hundred-plus miles in a blizzard over ice and through snowdrifts.

Love is the gift of life, bestowed unblinkingly and without reservation.

There are angels and heroes among us. They walk with us every day. Pay it forward. Pour Love into the universe.

Juro a mi Dios Altísimo que tengo al besti más extraordinariamente y fantásticamente impresionante
(y el más bello) en el mundo. Adonai yibarach at ha yadahim ha manikim hayim. Además tengo a una
héroe como prima.

אלוהים יברך את הידיים המעניקים חיים

(A note that this is a public post. Please go here to discuss specifics of what happened out there.)

Monday, 6 January 2014

From a Distance

That moment when a non-Muslim lends vital assistance to a Muslim more than a hundred miles away after a Muslim not even ten miles away declines to help. Or, if you will, how to gain my undying loyalty. Pour love out into the universe. Pay this one forward.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Let It Go. Let It Flow.

It's not fair. There's nothing that I can do about it. Even so, my heart is there and I am here.

"Let go and let it flow, let it flow, let it flow. Everything's gonna work out right, ya know."

Let go, and let it flow, let it flow, let it flow. Just let go.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Sara Bareilles - Brave (embedded YouTube)

"Maybe there's a way out of the cage where you live. Maybe one of these days you can let the light in.
Show me how big your brave is. Say what you wanna say and let the words fall out. Honestly I wanna see you be brave."

Enya - Caribbean Blue (embedded YouTube)

Because I need a bit of peace today.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


Silence. The loudest sound.

Fix It, Facebook

Social Fixer's "New Year's Resolutions" wish list for Facebook.

Social Fixer advises Facebook to listen to its users: "Yes, we are the product being sold. But unless you keep users happy, you will soon have no one left to advertise to. Users don’t pay you the money, but they are your customers too."

Among the things that Social Fixer is asking for:

* Fix the damned news feed: "We're not stupid. We know you're just manipulating the content in order to charge Pages and advertisers for their posts to actually be visible to users. And let's face it – your algorithms are terrible. Everyone I talk to is becoming disenchanted with their news feed."

* Stop with the ceaseless changes already: "We like continual improvement, but not constant random tinkering. We don't have time to re-learn how to use Facebook every 2 weeks. It's really annoying."

* Give us more control over privacy. No, more: "You want users to share more and tag more and like more and comment more, because it lets you harvest more data. ... With each update to the privacy settings, you make it more complicated and more difficult to communicate only with those people you wish to. Instead of gathering better personal data by reducing default privacy, you are making people afraid to say anything of substance because they are never sure who will see it."

Leaving 2013 Behind

Good-bye, 2013. And good riddance.

First thing early Monday morning I'm gonna pick my tears away. Got no cause to look back - I'm lookin' for me a better day. You see the thing 'bout love is that it's not enough if the only thing it brings you is pain.

There comes a time when we could all make a change. So just let go and let it flow.

Some kind of magic
Happens late at night
When the moon smiles down at me
And bathes me in its light

I fell asleep beneath you
In the tall blades of grass
When I woke the world was new
I never had to ask

It's a brand new day
The sun is shining
It's a brand new day
For the first time in such a long long time
I know, I'll be ok