Friday

White Privilege: Far-Right Activist Ammon Bundy Threatens ‘Shotgun’ Standoff Over Hospital Lawsuit

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CC™ News

By Kelly Weill

Six years after his last armed standoff with law enforcement, far-right leader Ammon Bundy appears to be threatening another armed action—this time over a lawsuit from an Idaho hospital he’s accused of harassing.

“They’re suing me for defamation. They’re probably going to try to get judgments of over a million dollars and take everything they have from me,” Bundy told the conservative Idaho Dispatch in a livestream video this week. “And I’m not going to let that happen. I’m making moves to stop that from happening. And if I have to meet 'em on the front door with my, you know, friends and a shotgun, I’ll do that. They’re not going to take my property.”

Bundy, who recently and unsuccessfully ran for governor of Idaho, rose to national fame during tense confrontations with federal law enforcement at his family’s Nevada ranch in 2014 and at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. Following those standoffs, Bundy launched the People’s Rights Network, a far-right activist group.

Bundy, the People’s Rights Network, and other associates are defendants in a lawsuit by St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center, which accuses the right-wing network of defamation.

In March, Bundy and the People’s Rights Network mobilized against the St. Luke's where Bundy claimed a baby had been “medically kidnapped [...] due to a missed non-emergency doctor’s appointment.”

Authorities disputed Bundy’s characterization of the case. The baby, a grandson of a People’s Rights member, was admitted to the hospital early that month for “severe malnourishment,” according to police. The 10-month-old gained weight in the hospital and was discharged with his parents, after which he “lost a significant amount of weight and the parents canceled the next follow-up appointment and could not be located.” The baby’s doctor, who was not affiliated with the hospital, reported concerns to Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare, which flagged the baby as in “immediate danger involving a life threatening and/or emergency situation,” according to the hospital’s lawsuit.

After agreeing to another appointment and failing to appear, the parents allegedly refused to let police check on the child at home. The family was later found during a traffic stop and the baby was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for three days. The DHW returned him to his parents three days later.

During the baby’s hospital stay, Bundy and followers harassed staffers in an ambulance bay, leading to Bundy’s arrest for allegedly trespassing and resisting or obstructing officers. The People’s Rights Network campaign caused a security threat that sent the hospital into lockdown, during which it was unable to accept ambulances for an hour.

The Bundy network fabricated conspiracy theories about St. Luke’s and its staff, all while running fundraisers online, the hospital claims in its lawsuit. “These solicitations for charitable contributions were made based on defamatory statements about the St. Luke’s Parties and others kidnapping, trafficking, and killing children.”

The online campaign falsely accused the hospital of vaccinating the baby against his parents’ wishes, and claimed the baby had been forced to take “toxic poison” and “possibly could lose his life because of the decisions of people [at St. Luke’s] who don’t even care” about him. The campaign also singled out St. Luke’s doctors, whom it falsely accused of mass kidnapping.

“They told their followers to target the same individuals for doxing and harassment. Defendants mirrored false statements across the websites and social media they controlled,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants also organized a campaign of technological disruption. They encouraged their followers to flood St. Luke’s phone lines and email inboxes in an effort to shut down St. Luke’s operations. Defendants’ followers jammed phone lines with menacing calls (including death threats), sent threatening emails, and sent spam to disrupt servers.”

St. Luke’s claims the defendants raised more than $115,000 from the protests.

Bundy, who did not return The Daily Beast’s request for comment, hasn’t been cooperating with the lawsuit. He’s skipped court appearances, including a September sanctions hearing. In his interview with the Dispatch, Bundy held up a stack of court papers and said he’s been throwing them in the garbage.

“I just throw it all away. I literally just take it from the mail and throw it in the garbage,” he said. “I haven’t responded one bit to them.” He added that “they have servers that come here all the time, knocking on the door, serving papers.”

St. Luke’s is seeking monetary damages from the defendants, which it says it will donate to the Children at Risk Evaluation Service. While it is unclear exactly how much the hospital will seek, it requested a sum total of at least $50,000, combined, from the defendants.


Source: The Daily Beast

How Argentina Erased Its Black People From History

CC™ Histography

Wednesday

Preventing future attacks like those of Boko Haram

Dr. David Leffler

Violence and conflict have plagued mankind throughout history, and the terrorist attacks by Boko Haram are just a current manifestation. 

How can Nigeria protect itself from future attacks? Ideally, the best way to guard against emerging terrorist threats would be to have no enemies. No enemies = no terrorism! 

An unfamiliar but effective human resource-based approach called Invincible Defense Technology would help the military of Nigeria to begin creating a lasting peace by preventing such enemies from arising, both internally and externally.

Invincible Defense Technology (IDT) is a scientifically validated solution to conflict and violence. There are over 50 published studies confirming its effectiveness. This recently revived method of preventive defense promises to end terrorism and conflict. Its adoption in Nigeria can set an example of peace-based defense for the rest of the world - something all military leaders would value.

Militaries have tried to quell violence and conflict through a dynamic approach, i.e., with weaponry and military personnel. But, interestingly, even with advanced weapons, they cannot eliminate problems like terrorism. New terrorist threats constantly emerge, and the number of terrorist cadres and cells continues to grow. 

Even with more fully equipped police and paramilitary forces, militaries cannot eradicate them. More alarming, defense experts predict that terrorists will soon start using portable, easily concealed weapons of mass destruction to launch their attacks around the world.

Imagine the dire ramifications for Nigeria if a dangerous terrorist group like Boko Haram could obtain such devastating weaponry.

So the question remains: Can war and terrorism be prevented with the military methods used in the past? Again and again, history shows that the answer is "no." War, conflict, violence and terrorism are human problems. Therefore, they require a human solution. 

Their underlying cause is accumulated stress in society's collective consciousness. If the collective consciousness is full of tension and fear, then disorder is more likely to erupt into some specific act of violence than if the prevailing mood is one of contentment. Social injustice and unfavorable economic conditions thrive in and contribute to chaotic environments. 

Unresolved religious, territorial, political, and cultural differences further add to the unrest.

Thus, a dissatisfied and frustrated population contributes to its own instability. The buildup of this sort of tension is dangerous to any nation's sovereignty, producing an unstable government that is prone to war. However, if the collective social stress driving these problems is prevented, negative manifestations would cease. Thus, zero collective stress ultimately means no war and no terrorism.

Invincible Defense Technology is rooted in the ancient Vedic knowledge of India, which describes the best approach to prevention as Heyam duhkham anagatam (Yoga-Sutra 2.16): "Avert the danger before it arises." Similarly, Yoga-Sutra 2.35 affirms Tat sannidhau vairatyagah: "In the vicinity of Yogic influence - unifying influence, integrating influence, coherent and harmonious influence - conflicting tendencies do not arise." These ancient principles were effectively applied in past, and they have already been successfully applied in today's world, with commendable results.

According to Vedic tradition, conflict results from ignorance - ignorance of how to prevent the buildup of collective stress through the harmonizing influence of coherence. For example, the Ramayana states that "...ignorance will have no access within eight miles from [the Yogi's hermitage]." The Ramayana describes the ancient city of Ayodhya, whose name means "Invincible." Certainly, Ayodhya relied on the conventional defense technologies of its time. 

For instance, "It was enclosed by strong fortifications and a deep moat, which no enemy, by any expedient whatsoever, could penetrate." Also, "Ayodhya abounded in warriors undefeated in battle, fearless and skilled in the use of arms, resembling lions guarding their mountain caves." However, the descriptions of the enlightened, stress-free life of the inhabitants of Ayodhya indicate that its first line of defense was the city's freedom from collective stress. According to the Ramayana, this low stress level, based on life in harmony with Natural Law, made Ayodhya worthy of its name.

In today's modern cities, however, social stress gets generated by countless violations of natural laws (i.e., crimes are committed every day). People's weakness results in an inability to find positive and life-supporting ways to fulfill their desires. Crime contributes to a growing cloud of negativity for a city and for a nation. When the stress from crime, frustration, unhappiness and lack of national fulfillment grows beyond a certain limit it spontaneously erupts into terrorism and war. 

Therefore, ignorance, or lack of understanding of how to act in accord Natural Law, is responsible for suffering in human affairs.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi revived the practical components of this silent approach for national defense. They are all-known around the world as the Transcendental Meditation® and TM-Sidhi® program. These programs are evidenced-based solutions, with a substantial amount of published, peer-reviewed research that has accumulated since 1970. 

Because they are human resource-based technologies, they are easy to implement and practice. It is important to note that they do not involve religious belief or practices. Members of many faiths worldwide have practiced these meditation techniques. Extensive scientific research documents the ability of the TM and TM-Sidhi program to dissolve stress on the individual and collective levels.

Could the ideal of Ayodhya's preventive defense again be accomplished by militaries today?

Yes! It is already starting to happen now. Military-related leaders in the USA, Latin America, and Africa, are applying TM because peer-reviewed scientific papers have confirmed that regular practice produces many other wide-ranging, measurable benefits. 

These include increased intelligence, creativity; reduced stress and improved health; and more fulfilling and harmonious interpersonal relationships. Most importantly to warriors, TM increases resilience, mental clarity and physical strength as well enhancing mind-body coordination (See Defense and Security Alert, Vol. 4, Issue No. 8, pages 34-39). Also, from a practical standpoint, the TM program is easy to do and has no religious philosophy attached.

For nearly sixty years it has been taught to millions of people (including schoolchildren and their teachers) around the world from every race, cultural background, religion, ethnicity and educational background.

Are soldiers willing participants in such an unusual endeavor? Again, yes! A study was conducted by Ecuadorian army psychologists to assess the value of the IDT preventive defense program after its soldiers had been practicing it for one month. The results? Over 96% of the soldiers thought it was a very practical activity. Why are these warriors convinced? As the study showed, 92% felt their performance in activity had improved and they were better able to deal with stress; 96% declared their relationships with others had improved; and 95% said their practice of IDT was completely satisfying.

The operative part of IDT requires having a Prevention Wing of the military. This wing is comprised of a small portion of the armed forces of a country. The rest of the military carries on with their usual duties. The Prevention Wing of the military creates societal coherence by practicing the TM and TM-Sidhi program in large groups morning and evening. Their collective practice produces positive benefits for both themselves and their adversaries. Peaceful overtures increase from all sides.

Similar coherence-creating groups have been deployed in many war zones and conflict-prone areas with great success. Extensive scientific research indicates that when the square root of 1% of the population practices the advanced TM-Sidhi program in a group, a "field effect" is created. Scientists call this field effect the "Maharishi Effect." Many carefully controlled studies have documented and validated positive social trends such as reduced conflict and lowered crime rate resulting from the Maharishi Effect. These studies have been scrutinized and published in respected peer-reviewed journals such as Social Indicators Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Mind and Behavior and Journal of Crime and Justice.

This coherence-creating effect has also been documented on a global scale in a study published in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. When large assemblies of practitioners of the TM-Sidhi program exceeded the Maharishi Effect threshold for the world (about 7,000 at that time) during the years 1983–1985, international conflict decreased 32%, terrorist casualties decreased 72%, and violence was reduced in other nations without intrusion by other governments.

IDT is a force multiplier because it creates coherence for the entire military and the whole country, thus making everyone's jobs easier. While the majority of the military continues with the dynamic approach (weaponry, equipment, training), the minority implements the silent approach of Invincible Defense Technology. Defense of the nation is perfect, thus invincible, when both these approaches are combined.

The military of Nigeria cannot solve the problem of terrorism by standard military means alone. It also needs a silent approach that will help people focus more on peaceful means of settling differences. Nigeria needs to deploy Prevention Wings of the Military immediately to prevent terrorism, and achieve true invincibility and permanent peace. The authors urge Nigerian leaders to immediately adopt this evidence-based approach.

Major General (Ret.) Kulwant Singh, U.Y.S.M., Ph.D., leads an international group of generals and defense experts that advocates Invincible Defense Technology. He was awarded the Uttam Yudh Sewa Medal, the second highest decoration for senior officers during operations in Sri Lanka as part of IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force).

David Leffler, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS). http://www.StrongMilitary.org. He served as an Associate of the Proteus Management Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership, US Army War College. Dr. Leffler is the author of "A New Role for the Military: Preventing Enemies from Arising - Reviving an Ancient Approach to Peace." 

Tuesday

Why Africans Were (and still are) Historically Viewed As A Threat

CC™ VideoScope

7 best practices to keep you ahead in the workplace

CC™ Introspective - By Remi DaCosta

As a working adult, you spend more time at work than you do with your family, so it’s easy to then see your co-workers to an extent, as an extension of your family. 

Always have this in mind though; since they are colleagues, try to draw a line between normal and intimate conversations which you might regret spilling later. How professional you want to keep your relationship all depends on you. 

In order not to create problems for yourself professionally in the future, here are some things never to do with your colleagues.


1) Discussing your sex life. From experiences to escapades, it will land you in trouble if it gets to the wrong ears.

2) Telling your superior how you spent your weekend is an absolute no-go area, unless it is necessary and related to work. 

3) Gossiping about another colleague. It diminishes your integrity and credibility as a person and besides earning you negative marks on the character side of things, it ultimately does not encourage those you work with to confide in you or trust you. After all, if you would gossip about another person, they would expect you to do the same to them. Steer clear of office politics, gossip and chattercrawl altogether! 

4) Don’t form unnecessary cliques or sideline some people at work. People are really sensitive to issues like this. As the saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. 

5) Revealing big secrets to another co-worker. Talking about big mistakes you made in the past with a colleague or your superior could come back to haunt you. 

6) Be careful about whom you trust and confide in. Watch, learn, verify and document. 

7) Find at least one or two people that you can use as either references or resources from both a professional and personal standpoint, and do not pre-judge anyone until you have had the opportunity to get to know them, within reason. 

At the end of the day, always use your best judgement and understand that life continually evolves and is not determined by just one event, but a series of them. Make sure that at every turn, you are exhibiting the commensurate level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) needed to ensure you are always at least one step ahead.

In closing, while the aforementioned steps are intended to help you navigate the slippery slopes of the work place, the best approach to staying ahead is to understand the underlying culture of your organization. That basic understanding will help you best ensure the preservation of both your (personal) brand and your career.

Sunday

Flashback: Buhari Is An Ethnic Bigot, Religious Fanatic – Bola Tinubu


CC™ Retrospective

Bola Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State and leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, once described General Muhammadu Buhari as an agent of destabilization, ethnic bigot and religious fanatic who if given the chance would ensure the disintegration of the country, according to a Wikileaks transcript of a conversation between Tinubu and the US consul-general in 2003.

Tinubu disclosed this to the United States spy posing as the consul general – in a 2003 conversation- that Buhari should not be trusted due to his bigot tendencies. He pointed to Buhari’s tribalistic nature as potentially dangerous to the unity of Nigeria. In Tinubu’s summation, he stated: ‘Buhari and his ilk are agents of destabilization who would be far worse than Obasanjo.’ The conversation was recorded by the US Consul General and wired back to Washington DC for analysis. Of which, Wikileaks got a hold of the recorded transcripts and published the conversation.

Section 6 (C) reads “Turning to the presidential contest, Tinubu disclosed that he does not like President Obasanjo because he contributed to the end of democracy in Nigeria during his tenure as a military president and is now benefiting from that history. That said, Tinubu admitted that he and his party, the Alliance for Democracy, must support Obasanjo. Southwest Nigeria is Yoruba land and the President is Yoruba. Tinubu’s party had no choice since it has not fielded a presidential candidate. Moreover, Obasanjo is the only candidate who stands a chance of blocking his rival, General Muhammadu Buhari, whose ethnocentrism would jeopardize Nigeria’s national unity. Buhari and his ilk are agents of destabilization who would be far worse than Obasanjo. Tinubu and many other governors are therefore implementing a strategy to re-elect Obasanjo, partly in an effort to prevent Sharia from spreading. Tinubu predicted that the President will follow his own course, if re-elected, since he will not need as many friends the second time around.”

However, barely 11 years after, Tinubu and Buhari have forged an alliance to upstage the PDP government. The curious marriage between both men has got many tongues wagging. While some see the new Tinubu-Buhari liaison as a marriage of convenience just to undo the PDP, others expressed suspicion at the intent of Tinubu to sell Buhari to Nigerians this time round, barely one decade after he dismissed the leadership credentials of the former military dictator.

During his reign as Head of State, Buhari introduced a notorious decree to restrict press freedom, under which two journalists were jailed. He ruled with iron fist and was unable to reflate a sagging economy.

His attempts to rebalance public finances by curbing imports led to the closure of businesses and many job losses. The economy took a downturn as prices of goods rose, while living standards fell, leading to a palace coup by Gen Ibrahim Babangida on 27 August 1985.


INDEPENDENT

Thursday

16 Laws of Psychological Power

CC™ VideoScope

Tuesday

The saga of transactional sex on the campus of Nigerian universities

CC™ Editorial By Oludayo Tade 

Transactional sex among female undergraduates in Nigeria is a social reality. The practice has been reported on regularly in the mainstream media and explored in various research papers

This cross generational relationship is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, and across the world where sponsors are commonly known as “sugar daddies”.

In our study on transactional sex in Nigerian universities, my colleague and I looked at the symbiotic relationship between some female Nigerian undergraduate students and aristos – wealthy, married or unmarried men. The students have transactional sex with the aristos in exchange for financial, social or educational support.

Because a great deal of these relationships happen undercover, there are no solid figures on the number of women involved in them. But there are many reasons that these relationships happen. It’s a practice that’s driven by economic hardship, a desire to network socially, and peer influence.
To understand more about these relationships we conducted 30 interviews with female undergraduates – commonly known as “runs-girls”.
We found that the students engage in transactional sex for pleasure and money. Typically, wealthy students would be with an aristo for pleasure, while those who needed financial support did it for the money. Most of the women we spoke to viewed it as a critical survival life investment strategy and rejected the “prostitution” label.
Although these relationships could offer the students economic, emotional, and political support, their effects can also be negative. The students expose themselves to sexually transmitted infections, physical violence and academic setbacks, because the relationships can distract from their studies.
Those with sexually transmitted infections risk spreading these to their boyfriends, while also suffering economic losses seeking treatment.

Finding clients

Aristos are usually wealthy postgraduate students, lecturers, politicians, business people and military personnel. They are people with wealth and authority.
The students looked for these clients on and off campus, using connections and referrals. They then familiarized themselves with the potential client’s routine, aiming to eventually manufacture an encounter.
There’s usually a generational gap between the “runs-girls” and the aristos. The students often refer to their clients as “uncle”, “daddy” and, more recently, “aristo”. All of these bring connotations of the person’s expected role: to take care of the student.
If the students don’t have much financial support from their families, these relationships provide them with that security. Some started as a one-off “date”, for which they got a sum of money. But longer-term relationships also developed in some instances.
In return for sex, the women were given luxury possessions, like cars and mobile phones; investments for businesses they might start; or work placements when they finish their studies.
As one female student said:
The type of connection I have with politicians, lecturers, and military men cannot be purchased with money. At times, when I have problem, all I do is to make a call, depending on the nature of challenges…
In Nigeria, about 23% of young people are unemployed. These connections, with people of influence, may be a ticket to employment. As one “runs-girl” revealed:
One of my clients who happened to be a commissioner connected my senior sister to get a job at immigration even without any much stress…
Transactional sex isn’t limited to financially strapped students. We spoke to rich female students who engaged in it for sexual fulfillment. One 24 year old student said:
I am from a rich home, my father is even a Major (in the army), and my mother a nurse, but I’m involved in campus runs because of sexual satisfaction, although nothing goes for nothing, because sex is for enjoyment. I have a guy that I help financially, and on the long run he pays me back with sex.

Challenges

In this research we identified a few challenges.
Some “runs-girls” accepted offers of unprotected sex for better pay. This put them at risk of catching sexually transmitted infections and, consequently, the cost of treatment. As one student said:
I am always scared of having naked (unprotected) sex. Most times I use (a) condom because one can never know a man that has HIV/AIDS. Although sometimes some men always want naked sex and in that case, they will have to pay triple than what is earlier bargained. Part of the money realized as a runs-girl are used in revitalizing the body, in which I go to the hospital once in a month to examine myself.
Other risks are that the women could be physically harmed. This is particularly true if the clients choose not to pay an agreed amount.
Their education could also suffer as they may choose to engage in “runs” rather than go to class.

Action needed

Getting the government or even universities to take action will prove difficult because our evidence suggests that policy makers, politicians and the business class are involved, as aristos.
Nevertheless, given the risks associated, something ought to be done.One possible solution might be to establish part-time jobs for vulnerable students, and to institute courses about running businesses so that young women can earn money independently.
In addition, institutions should put together and roll out communications campaigns that teach young people about the implications of transactional sex.

Monday

3 Risk Management Functions for Secure Cloud Governance.....

CC™ Technocrat

The method of managing risks on cloud has witnessed a big shift as the pressure on governance model to track variants of risk has become high.

While risk formats have changed in the industry, business continuity is said to be affected with the ushering in of cloud model. The pressure on cloud service providers is increasing in terms of identifying and tracking new risks emerging out of this trend, which sometimes has an adverse impact on the business. 


Sethu Seetaraman, VP/Chief Risk Officer, Mphasis, says that risk management basics do not change with cloud. However, the way in which a control is implemented and monitored is what has changed. “As far as BCP/DR is concerned, the organisation owns BCP/DR in case of Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service. Service providers will own BCP/DR in case of Software as a Service. 


You must build or take these services from the cloud service provider based on the availability risk,” avers Seetharaman. 


Why 3 functions of Risk Management are Key to Governance.....


Just as with IT governance, risk management in cloud governance must fulfill three functions argue most CISOs.

Atul Pandey, The ICT Rainmaker: GRC, GSD, PMO & BPM, mentions the three functions: a) Assessing risk b) mitigating risk, and c) measuring the success of that assessment and mitigation.

Pandey says that this is not a static scenario. Risk shifts continually, and the cloud governance model must be able to track these shifts.

Stating facts established by Thomas J. Betcher in his report on a clear analysis of risk and cloud in Cloud Computing: Key IT-Related Risks and Mitigation Strategies for Consideration by IT Security Practitioners,’ Pandey puts forth the type of risks to be managed under the cloud model. 

They include:
  • Policy and Organisational risks: Lock-in, loss of governance, compliance challenges, loss of business reputation, cloud service termination or failure.
  • Technical Risks: Availability of service, resource exhaustion, intercepting data in transit, data transfer bottlenecks, distributed denial of service.
  • Legal Risk: Subpoena and e-discovery, changes of jurisdiction, data privacy, licensing.

According to Pandey, one particularly important observation in the Betcher report relates to risk and frequency. Many traditional IT governance models are designed around IT life-cycles of around three years. 

Within these cycles, IT audit leaves a detailed trail of version and upgrade information.

With the cloud, this changes. Not only does the cycle shrink massively (change can now be measured in hours and weeks rather than in years), the actual versioning of the technology behind the service can remain completely hidden from the consumer. 

As a result, cloud governance models must be able to assess risk from this entirely new perspective.

How Continuity is affected.....

Pandey believes that continuity in itself is solicited as the USP of cloud, at least in comparison with traditional infra.

Business continuity management (BCM) is the result of critical functions and processes assuring that a system performs its mission without incidence, and that the entity responds to all acts or events in a planned, consistent manner. 

Business continuity planning is rehearsed through scenario analysis which:
  • Targets new, evolving or projected risks affecting business operations.
  • Simulates and evaluates the effect of disruptions in information systems support and response time delays.
  • Provides the ground for experimenting on effective solutions to every type of BCM disruption entering into the scenario.
“The analysis to which reference is made is instrumental in elaborating BCM clauses in service level agreements (SLAs) with cloud computing providers,” says Pandey and adds, “Sound governance assures that business continuity studies are part of the evaluation process preceding any top management decision in adopting cloud computing; it also constitutes a factor in choosing a cloud provider.”

Reprinted/Republished with permission from: www.csoforum.in

Saturday

The Human Brain - A complex but detailed assembly

Editor's Corner

The human brain is probably the most complex but unique creation present in the anatomy of humans. It would be an understatement to refer to the brain as just an extraordinary creation as I would actually go out on a limb and call the brain the most extraordinary creation in the human anatomy. 


The human brain is home, one can say, to everything that makes us tick. In addition to the human mind as well as our various intricate personalities, the brain is the abode of human consciousness, passion, emotion and purpose.

This article marks the beginning of my attempt to find answers to some of the puzzling questions I have always had as to why people do some of the things they do and what the primary triggers for their action or inaction might be. One case that came to mind for me was that of the Vietnamese father in the news a couple of years ago, for killing his four young children. What could have motivated this man to take the life of his own children? The human brain is an organ that essentially is built to learn, hence was this man’s action as a result of some form of defective learning behavior? 


While nature may play a dominant role in our lives, does nurture (one’s environment and learned experiences) however have a more defining role in how we see, interpret and react to events or episodes in our lives? In asking all these questions and having read the details of this particular event, I started to wonder as to what part of his brain cell may have ‘misfired’ and why to lead him to ‘rationalize’ taking the lives of his own children.

In learning to become familiar with our brain, we look to understand not only how its various parts work, but more importantly how we nourish, protect and develop it. I would propose that the human brain in its most basic as well as most complex element is constantly changing and evolving with each experience we encounter. Did the Vietnamese father above therefore ‘readjust’ his notion of what was rational as a result of certain negative experiences in his life or was his action merely a projection of his own self-worth due to a defective processing of information by his brain. 


Was there a critical disconnect between the two hemispheres thus resulting in this defective ‘rationalization’ or was his behavior more as a result of systematic desensitization to what’s wrong as a result of observational learning (modeling) of deviant but admired behavior within the larger American society?

In a society where serial killers, rapists and murderers are ‘revered’ and gain notoriety even over their victims, does the nurture aspect of human brain development through information processing then cloud the Grey area between what is socially acceptable behavior and what is deviant or anti-social behavior? I would hazard a guess that in his native Vietnam, such behavior would lead possibly to immediate execution of the perpetrator or some form of punishment that aims to discourage such anti-social behavior. 


I would also presume that in his native Vietnam, serial killers, rapists and murderers would never be ‘revered’ like the Charles Mansons and Jeffrey Dahmers of the United States; people who actually had movies made about them as well as books written about them.

Therefore it seems as though the human brain, although home to everything from a nature perspective that makes us tick, is however subject to the varying complexities of an individual’s environment and how the same individual reacts or relates to varying stimuli within the said environment. So, while we may nourish our brain by eating the right kinds of foods, getting the right amount of sleep, while also engaging in physiological exercises aimed at maintaining the brain structure at optimum capacity and productivity, the environment might be perhaps the most critical deciding factor as to whether or not information is processed constructively or defectively. 


I would suggest that this might however be open to debate as there are several instances where we can probably show that although the influence of the environment might be a very strong one, how an individual actually processes information on a consistent basis as well as having the right chemical balance within the brain structure may be more of a deciding factor as to the ultimate state of our minds.

Thus, the question arises again. How well do we really know our brain? But more importantly, how do we do our part in ensuring that this most delicate and intricate part of the human ‘anatomy’ remains an asset to the human mind and ambition. The search for answers continues and we are all a part of the process.


© 2022 2CG MEDIA. Coker Confidential™

Friday

10 key leadership skills for successful cross-functional team management

Editor-in-Chief

An organization's cross-functional team provides many benefits and can be a veritable asset in helping to ward off divergent obstacles, that naturally arise in the workplace. 

Management is key to determining whether your cross-functional team either delivers on a consistent basis or itself becomes an impediment to its effectiveness. A well organized, transparent and flexible management structure is crucial in ensuring the success of a cross-functional team.

The following represent some key leadership characteristics of a successful cross-functional team.....

a) Effective Organization - To manage a team of such diversity and complexity, you’ll need a system for organizing deadlines, files, notes, data, research, and whatever else you bring to the project.

b) Equally Effective Communication - Without a clear but concise strategy for effective communication, your cross-functional team doesn’t stand a chance. This is the first and most crucial component of your team’s success and should not be taken lightly.

c) Unified Objectives - It is extremely vital that every one of your team members understands the importance of the task(s) at hand. Keep in mind that the responsibilities of the cross-functional team are often in addition to your team members’ already established duties. If they don’t value the cross-functional team’s objective, they won’t put in the time or effort you require. Help them understand why the team’s objectives should matter to them.

d) Clarity of Purpose - When working with a cross-functional team, conflict and misunderstandings that result in a lack of accountability are commonplace.You can prevent potentially frustrating situations by instituting clearly-stated goals and expectations, not only for the team but on an individual level as well.

e) Conflict Resolution - As should be expected, when a team is comprised of people from different functional areas of any organization, you are going to experience some conflict. It’s important to be prepared to handle this naturally-evolving conflict effectively. Many industry experts suggest you provide your cross-functional team with conflict-resolution training before bringing them together.

f) Be Flexible - One of the greatest benefits of a cross-functional team is that it fosters innovation. By bringing several different areas of expertise together into a positively enabling work environment, you’re creating fertile ground for fresh ideas and new, game-changing insights to flourish. To take advantage of these ideas and help the company improve, you must be flexible, open-minded, and allow these opportunities to manifest. The worst thing you can do to your cross-functional team is to stifle it with narrow thinking.

g) Only The Best (OTB) - Before assembling your "A-Team", it is advisable to spend some time defining the team’s goals, while making a list of the strengths and skills required to accomplish those goals. You will then be able to put together the "perfect team" according to your predefined list of required skills and qualifications.

h) Requisite Cohesion - Provide ample opportunities for your team members to get to know each other better through team-building exercises (both indoor and outdoor). This will foster a spirit of mutual trust and engender a unanimity of purpose and direction.

i) BEFA (Build Each For ALL) - It is important to get to know each member of the cross-functional team with a view to ensuring that the sum of each person's individual strengths is commensurate with the PIE (Professional, Intellectual and Emotional) Capacity needed for the team to achieve its defined objectives.

j) Individual Accolades - Even though at the end of the day, it is all about achieving something tangible for the team/organization, remember to acknowledge the contributions of each member of the team towards realizing the desired goal of the project.

© 2022 2CG MEDIA. Coker Confidential™

Thursday

Editorial Flashback: It's an e-mail scam, not a "Nigerian scam"....

Editor-in-Chief

Imagine my surprise when I turned to the consumer page of the Attorney General of the State of Washington to find that a whole people, in this case citizens of Nigeria, had been painted with a wide brush (see former website content below in italics). Regarding the latter, I am talking about the much talked about e-mail scams or advance fee fraud, many believe originated from that West African nation.

"E-mail Scams - Advance fee and counterfeit check/Nigerian scams: If you suffered a financial loss you can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov"
To better understand this issue, it will be prudent to give a brief overview of the most populous country on the African continent, a nation that has disbursed so much good to much of humanity, with some bad mixed in (show me a perfect country or people).
Nigeria gained its independence from Britain on October 1st, 1960. Since then, the country has experienced a civil war (that lasted for three years 1967-1970 and killed 1 million of its citizens) while also enjoying a long spell of economic prosperity and boom from the 70s to the late-80s (much from oil and other natural resources she has been blessed with).
Lately, beginning in the 1990s, the country's infrastructure, image and over-all national reputation has taking a beating, mainly as a result of defective leadership laced with unbecoming greed and avarice.
The general climate of corruption (not quite different from what you would find in most countries but quite overt in Nigeria) has led to an expected societal breakdown, where law, order and common decency became an exception and not the norm.
For all of its struggles with corruption and the systematic destruction of its storied institutions and culture, much of this by its own military, with the acquiescence of the West (the latter mostly concerned with taking its resources by any means), the country has re-set itself back on course, with democratic elections in 1999 and has never looked back since.
The descent into "white collar crime" with the e-mail scams and other forms of criminal activity (by a very marginal minority) does NOT define the nature and character of Nigerians (over 200 million people), with many Nigerians contributing as physicians, scientists, technology experts and business executives in much of the world, particularly Africa, Europe and the United States (with a well established immigrant population in the Puget Sound as well).
While the e-mail/advance fee scam has generally been portrayed as a "Nigerian Scam", recent investigations by the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) (working in conjunction with the FBI and Interpol) have shown that most of these crimes (e-mail/advance fee scams) have actually been committed by citizens of other West African countries, namely Ghana, the Sierra Leone and Liberia (due to the wars and extreme poverty in the latter two).
The interesting spin to the preceding information is that America's next door neighbor, Canada, has become a notorious breeding ground as well for a large proportion of these e-mail and other transactional scams. Witness the Canadian "lottery winner" e-mails as well as the offer to send you a "cashiers check" when you try to sell your car on Craigslist.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a body recently set up by Nigeria's democratically elected government, has also been very aggressive in pursuing the perpetrators of ALL financial crimes, within the Nigerian state.
While it is true that the Nigerian government "needs to do more" to ensure that this menace is curtailed (at least within its borders), one can say that the US government also needs to do more, by advising its citizens not to reply to e-mail solicitations to receive money from "relatives", they never had in Nigeria or anywhere else in the first place.

The advance fee fraud and e-mail scam developed a life of its own by the default of enablement. The greed and avarice in the United States (particularly on Wall Street) is there for all to see, but I am yet to see any Attorney General websites or newspapers refer to those as "American scam" or even worse still, label the scam on Wall Street with an ethnic delineation.
I am grateful to the deputy Chief-of-Staff of the Washington AG at the time for heeding my call and that of other well-meaning and hardworking Nigerians to remove the "Nigerian" label on this disgraceful activity.

One would hope that the likes of Sean Robinson (Staff Writer at the Tacoma News Tribune) might also learn something and understand that much like the criminals on Wall Street and those on the corners of the worst neighborhoods of Tacoma and indeed America who murder (serial killers et al), rape, pillage, molest and commit countless heinous crimes, are not branded with an American or other ethnic-American brush, it would be fool-hardy to do the same to others.

Wednesday

The 7 habits of highly successful organizations

Editor's Corner 
                               
As organizations seek ways to improve functional output and operational effectiveness, it becomes incumbent upon business leaders to understand what best practices to adopt, in their quest to achieve sustainable growth and brand stability.

Many are quick to point to the "successes" of some of the world's biggest brands such as GE, Microsoft, Disney, Walmart, Apple and Google, among others. The truth however lies somewhere in between as to what exactly constitutes success beyond just the bottom-line.

A "healthy bottom-line" does not necessarily translate into being an attractive brand or ensure sustainable growth.

What organizations such as Google and more lately Apple have in fact shown, is that there are other mitigating factors that go towards determining the long-term success and brand equity of an organization.

In this piece, a prelude to a more in-depth analysis to come, we explore and profess the key habits that would seem to characterize truly successful organizations.

a) Hire well - As organizations such as Google, Microsoft and Apple (much lately) have learnt, hiring the right talent goes a long way towards building your Intellectual Capital portfolio.

b) Invest in your employees and thus your organization's future - While some of the better known brands are able to attract some of the best talent initially, holding on to that talent pool becomes even more critical. It is not enough to just pay well; in addition to that, organizations that have managed to hold on to their prized talent base, have invested heavily by way of benefits and other quality-of-life perks that are essential to keeping the poachers at bay.

c) Encourage independent thought within your organization - In conversations with peers in the business community, most believe this is one of the areas where Microsoft in particular "went wrong" (the current CEO Satya Nadella has since righted that ship). It's main competitors are said to have seized on a culture (supposedly) within the organization at the time, that did not encourage or value independent thinking.
Organizations that frown on the idea of "thinking-outside-the-box" ultimately leave little room for their business units to procreate. A resulting dearth of unique ideas will ultimately result in the natural death of the said organization.

d) Reward independent thought within your organization - In addition to encouraging a "think-outside-the-box culture within your organization, it is also equally important to acknowledge those with unique and creative ideas. Promotions, raises, bonuses and other forms of recognition should reflect this, as it will only augur well for the continued growth and development of the organization, its brand and of course, its people.

e) Be true to your founding ideals and core corporate principles - Make taking care of your customers/clients a guiding business principle. It is the best practice you could ever indulge in as it engenders brand affinity through credibility.

f) Seek strategic partnerships that complement your business model and strategy - It is important that you align yourself with organizations that share your ideals, beliefs and ideas and subsequently provide a synergistic nirvana.

g) Manage your growth while continuing to innovate - Maintain your identity and stick to a working strategy. Adapt to the pervading business climate in your own unique way and continue to deliver consistently. 

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