Category Archives: Bing

Not just a story

Our world is under a constant change. That is a given. Those who try to stop change or stand in the way of progress are slowly being rooted out.
That is certainly being seen across the Middle East as they continue to fight for their freedom of speech, equalities and the ability to finally be out from under the unspeakable acts of cowardly dictators that have ruled over them for decades.

As each day passes, bravery becomes more evident because to share the turmoil going on in places such as Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, it literally means risking arrest or even one’s life. Making a phone call, sending a picture, a tweet, updating a blog or even carrying on a conversation on the street or anywhere in public can cost a person their life on the spot or have them detained, tortured, or kidnapped leaving their family to wonder whatever became of them. This is not something that is exaggerated or made up. This is life for the people of these countries and has been for decades.

Most reporters sent in are there under government watch and only go places with government permission, in government convoys and to places the governments wants them to see. Example of this is in Tripoli’s famous Rixos Hotel where a large group of reporters have stayed and covered Libya’s conflict for an ongoing amount of time. This is where Iman Al Obaidi ran in to share her story of what happened while she was held by Gaddafi’s soldiers. Her story became internationally known once it was shared by worldwide news organizations and across social media websites. This became possible only because she risked her life to go into that hotel in the first place.

Other reporters have been thrown out of Libya and other countries for sharing too much of the truth as well as having been detained, beaten, raped or are still missing or or have been killed.

To name just a few, Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington, Mohammed Al-Nabbous, Anton Hammerl were killed just recently. These are just a few and are just naming ones killed in Libya.

Why do “outsiders” risk their lives to share these “stories”?

I’ll answer this question very directly so as to be very clear.

These aren’t just stories, this is life. Just because I am an American writing about people that are living all the way around the world, doesn’t make this any less relevant than if I were writing about something locally, not to me.

You see, these people in many ways are just like me. They have hopes, dreams, families, loved ones, and friends.

Rebel fighters at the Wazin Border Crossing(Tunisia and Nafusa Mountains) May11th
Photo Courtesy of: @ShababLibya

A mother losing her child or a child losing their parents somewhere else in the world is just as upsetting as if that happened here, or to me. A friend watching their friend die is no less painful because it is further away or because it is in a time of war. Many of those fighting in these current revolutions are students, lawyers, doctors or young kids. Most are not soldiers and had never held a weapon before in their life. They are protecting their homes, businesses, families and their lives. They didn’t want to fight. They don’t want to fight. They want to be free which is the opposite of fighting.

As an American, I want our government to be able to help, of course.

I also know that many times, U.S. involvement comes with a cost and although at first glance and in a time of crisis, it seems great and the right thing to do when making arrangements but the long term effects, due to diplomatic arrangements made to reach that original agreement, often far outweigh the long term benefit. Doesn’t sound right, does it?

Let me explain. Iraq and Afghanistan.

The need for help is there and the desire to help is there but the actual response and outcome is often so jumbled up in politics, the RSVP would have been better to have been lost in the mail.

Some situations are so clear, up front, one would think there wouldn’t be any issues. One would think.

In Libya, Gaddafi was making it abundantly clear that he had no problem with taking as many lives each day as he could without any given reason. He also made it clear he wasn’t listening to reason. Once the UN came to an agreement and NATO started its response against Gaddafi’s crimes against his own people, it wasn’t as quick of a process as it would have once been thought.

At this point, it seems communication on the ground (what little there is) doesn’t get heard by the right people, quickly enough. I personally think if it were, Gaddafi would have been cut off much quicker.

Syria has tried to hide what is going on in their country but they haven’t been able to do this, not completely. The government says one thing and does another. It seems they want to act like Iran, dress like Iran but not be treated like Iran. When do threats from the U.S. end? Syria’s government has clearly chosen its path.

In Yemen today, President Saleh refused to sign the exit deal to hopefully bring an end to the political crises. Saleh has ruled for 32 years.
For months now, Yemen has been filled with protests for him to step down. Hundreds have been killed and he has refused to sign a deal at least twice before.

Saleh is demanding the opposition be present at the signing. The opposition refuses saying it will send the wrong message to the revolution leaders in Sanaa, making Saleh look victorious.

The opposition signed their part of the agreement on Saturday, May 21st with the understanding Saleh would sign his on Sunday.
About Saudi Arabia…this is a country with a great deal of oppression toward women.

I am a woman. I drive. Recently Manal Al Sharif was arrested for doing exactly the same thing in the eastern town of Khobar, Saudi Arabia which defies a long standing ban on women’s driving. Yeh, that’s right.

Manal Al Sharif 32 year old Saudi Arabian woman detained for driving in Saudi Arabia

It’s said that about two-thirds of a woman’s salary goes toward their transportation. They can’t walk on the street or drive so they must pay a taxi or private driver. There’s no public transportation.

On June 17th, there’s a campaign #Women2Drive which is growing in numbers on their Facebook page. The idea is for those women, with foreign licenses, to go out in the Kingdom of Saudi and drive that day. Some are even offering to teach others how to drive. Manal Al Sharif remains detained at this moment but in an interview to Gulf news she said, “Every lady has something to do in the city, she’ll just drive, do her business and come back. So it’s as simple as that. People can’t call it a demonstration, we’re not going against the law, we’re not going against anyone, we’re not even demonstrating.”

I was going to divide this article into two parts but I think it’s important to keep it as one.

You see, as a nation, we have an enormous amount of freedoms. I am writing this article which I will shortly post because I have the freedom to do so. I have the ability to share the information which I freely read about on the Internet or via links that were sent to me. Information is golden.

Education is priceless. The ability to have those available to us should never be taken for granted.

In many parts of our world, these freedoms or abilities do not exist. Our freedoms were fought for by very brave people before us and to take anything at all for granted, to me, just seems wrong. It also seems wrong to take lightly why others would want these same freedoms as well as the loss of lives they are experiencing while fighting for their freedom.

Many have chosen to come here, to the U.S., seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Around the world, America has been known as the “Land of the Free”, but is it? Do we truly know where these people are coming from, why they are seeking freedom and can they still find it here? In coming here, they have often made many sacrifices leaving behind the only homes they have ever known and family members to still live under dictators and the very life they are running from.

It’s been a while since I have written. I’ve been following much of what has been going on around the world, devastating natural disasters, revolutions and our own nation and its many ups and downs.

I hadn’t planned to write quite yet until I read a comment about the woman in Saudi, Manal, who had been arrested for, driving. The comment was basically along the lines of the fact the reader would never live in a place that wouldn’t allow a woman to drive!

My question: What if you were born there?

Is the Internet really safe anymore?

By now, most adults and teens own a cell phone and it isn’t uncommon to see a 9, 10 or 11 year old texting these days.

There’s a number of ways a person can reach someone. Anyone can text, tweet, message or email from practically anywhere they are to basically anywhere in the world and it be received in a few seconds. Kudos to technology, right? But, the days of sitting down and writing a letter, addressing an envelope and actually putting a stamp on to mail it (snail mail) just doesn’t happen very much. Do people still receive personal, handwritten letters in the mail? Those were nice.

Remember when two people “liked” each other and they exchanged phone numbers so they could call and talk endlessly about their heartfelt devotion and then spend ten minutes deciding who would hang up first? Silly, right? Now mostly, things are done through texting and chatting online.

Here’s one that most people deal with a lot. Remember when a company had a phone number for customer service that when a customer called for assistance an actual, living person answered it and could work with their customer’s concerns instead of people having to go through automated options answering, “yes” or “no” and pushing in account numbers or numbers for 10 minutes only to be disconnected and have to start over?

It doesn’t take too long to look around and realize how many things have changed over the last 20 years. A lot of these changes were done to make people’s lives easier, save time or make things more convenient and sure, some of them have.

The Internet for instance has made the world available at the click of a mouse. A person can basically find nearly anything through Google or Bing. Researching has become very simple and learning about places around the world, other cultures, medical information, animals, cars, architecture, languages, nearly anything is there if a person wants to find it.

However, along with the Internet came the issue of privacy concerns and it also simplified the ability for criminals to commit crimes like child pornography, identity theft and stalking. Law enforcement basically had to catch up with the times to keep up with the criminals.

As the Internet’s popularity grew, computers were becoming part of nearly every home. What these homes were not getting was the information about how dangerous being on the Internet could be, especially for children and teens and how easily children could be drawn in by a child predator. Many parents were unaware of the dangers online as they weren’t actively using the Internet.

As the social media websites grew more popular and crimes became more obviously connected to these sites, news stories started coming out about Internet safety due to sexual predators stalking kids and teens through websites such as MySpace first and then Facebook. Suddenly more parents were becoming aware of this growing concern over Internet safety and changes needing to be made.

Social media websites needed to keep their users safe and block users under certain ages from being on their websites. They were made very aware that sexual predators were going online, becoming friends with minors, chatting, setting up face to face meetings, getting their personal location information and planning sexual encounters with underage children. This was being done with children using their computers right in their homes, mostly unaware of who they were chatting with online and what they would be encountering when they went to meet this person.

Laws were not set up to prosecute this type of crime where stalking or setting up a meeting with a minor was done online.

The first sexual predator law was Megan’s Law, passed in 1994 in response to the rape and murder of 7 year old Megan Kanka.

President George W. Bush signed two laws to make it much harder for child molesters to lurk with anonymity on the web, especially at social networking sites. One law is called the “KIDS Act of 2008”, which requires registered sex offenders to provide “Internet identifiers”, including email addresses, to state sex offender registries.

Bush also signed the “PROTECT our Children Act of 2008” which requires the Department of Justice to create and implement a national strategy, as well as a new task force for tracking down predators on the web and prosecute them.

Although laws have been put in place and there has been more awareness drawn to issue of sexual predators being online, parents need to continue to be more aware of what their children are doing online, who they are talking to, what sites they are visiting and keep computers in an area of the house where it can be visible when children are online.

Recently, both Facebook and Twitter have added applications that allow users to opt in and share their actual locations with other users. This shows their current longitude and latitude location with other users and also allows advertisers to see this information as well. The user has the ability to change their privacy settings if they understand how to do so. As in the past though, this has upset both Facebook and Twitter users but some have come to like the service, others have learned to opt out of the service while others have chosen to cancel their accounts.

Sadly, most laws that are made to protect our society from online predators or online fraud do not prevent something from happening and only come into light after something has already happened and it is too late.

One in five U.S. teens, who regularly use to the Internet say they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation via the Web. Solicitations were defined as requests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk, or to give personal sexual information.

25% of children/teens have been exposed to unwanted pornographic material online.

Only around 1/3 of households with Internet access protect their children with filtering or blocking software.

With adults and children walking with a Smart Phone in their hands and “connected” 24 hours a day online, Internet safety is a must. By having that device in a person’s hand, there are certain responsibilities involved and those start by understanding Internet safety. For parents, when giving a child the “privilege” of using the Internet or having a phone that has text or Internet abilities, there are multiple responsibilities that go along with that for both the parent and the child.

Safety should always come first and if it questionable whether or not the child is ready for the responsibility, maybe doing without the data part of the plan or making other limitations could save their life.

Possibly moving a computer from a bedroom to the living room could save someone’s life.

Making laws and passing them to protect society is done in Washington D.C. but setting down rules and fulfilling a parent’s responsibility is something that should be passed down through each generation. The responsibility of protecting each child will never change even though life may continue to rapidly change.

To find more information on Internet safety or sexual predators in your area, please visit the following links.


National Center for Missing & Exploited Children



Locate sexual predators in your area



Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators



CyberSitter11



CyberNanny on Windows Vista


PRIVACY MATTERS


The year is 2010.

I am typing this on a laptop while using a WIFI Network in my home. No I am not willing to give my social security number like the Life Lock Commercial on TV because I think that would just be ridiculous for me to do so, irresponsible.

Since I am an Internet user, I have to know what risk may come along while using the Internet. Not just while ON the Internet but the entire time my Internet access is available.

Understandably there are a lot of people that are either too young or not “Internet Savvy” understand fully what the risk, or benefits, of the Internet may be.

So, is there a solution to this problem or is the problem bigger than a solution?

We know there are problems. Here are just a few.

“Google: Google Street View Cars Sniffed Wi-Fi Networks”

You know how we like to be able to look at those Street Views on Google Maps when we look up an address or GPS location?? Well, they get there somehow and oops… a little too much info was gathered in the process.

Facebook: Problems again…
Some users taking matters into their own hands.

Facebook has changed their privacy policies and security tools so many times, it lets you know it is something you need to keep an eye on constantly. I tell people that are friends of mine on Facebook or new to Facebook that the smartest thing to do with Facebook or other online accounts is to change their passwords often and whatever you do, don’t click on links from people you don’t know (heck, don’t click on a bunch of links-one can send you into Virus Hell!) Is it worth it??

“The Top Facebook Privacy Settings You Should Know”

 Want to learn more about Facebook? Stay on top of how things are changing ALL the time? Click here.

MySpace was the trend for so long and is still there and very much used. It just doesn’t seem to change so often.

Facebook launched on February 4, 2004 it wasn’t heard of in the media, around schools or much anywhere for that matter.

When I joined in 2007, it was hard for me to locate people on Facebook even then. The idea of finding people via a High School website was still new so I had to start my own.

Since then, Facebook has boomed! There are groups for everything from schools, workplaces, regions of towns, states, nations and countries. There is a group if you like to do something or if you don’t like to do something. There are groups of people fighting for cures for cancer, helping finding missing people, getting petitions signed, trying to form a group, trying to break up a group, name a group, even a group for people that have joined too many groups.

What do you do on Facebook? Are you worried about your messaging? Your photos? Your privacy overall? Or do you just use Facebook as a “light source” of staying in touch and reconnecting? To me, that is what it should be and this is why I feel that way.

Facebook has over 400 million users logging on and off daily.

About 70% of them reside outside of the U.S.

The average user has over 130 friends.

There are more than 550,000 active applications currently on the Facebook Platform and

There are more than 250,000 websites that have integrated with Facebook Platform

Click here for the above statistics and more.

And… if you think Facebook and MySpace, emailing, Google, Bing is what the Internet is about, there is much more coming through the Internet which is why it is very important you stay informed, daily.

On the lines of what can go wrong with meeting the wrong people, cyber bullying, giving out too much information, going too far… comes along “Chat Roulette”. Please watch this Video Clip.

If you are a parent and you have a computer in your house, there are HUGE responsibilities that go along with this.

“Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation”

Know what is going on at all times on that computer. Don’t let computers be in the bedrooms or away from plain site.

A lot of times, children in the house understand the usage of a computer more than their parents. A computer can be a fantastic tool of education, information, fun and entertainment even. But, too many times, boredom and the Internet can lead to trouble.

Good kids can find themselves in a bad position and do something they regret or too many times something they can’t get out of. There are also a good amount of children that know they can outsmart their parents and do as they please online because they understand the Internet far better, therefore, they can do whatever they wish and cover up whatever they are doing. This can lead to some very serious problems. We all watch the news. Kids meet people on line. They think they are safe, they think they know who the person is, send a picture or agree to meet somewhere and suddenly everything turns bad. This may seem like someone else’s child but this can be anyone. If you don’t know 100% it isn’t your child and what your child is doing, you have to know. It is our job as parents.

WiredSafety.org (GREAT SITE!). This is a must read for everyone, not just parents. Read around the site, click the links. More and more, this is affecting more children, more teens daily. Bookmark the site as it is updated.

Here is another site to check out as this is really becoming a bigger and bigger issue both during and after school. Remember this is online and cellphones.

http://stopcyberbullying.org/

Your child can have a blog going that is pouring out their heart that is asking for help and if someone knew what was being said, help could be offered. If someone knew how much time was being spent on the computer, someone could be spending that time preventing the need for filling that empty space. I read a blog being written by a 15 year old girl the other day that was just heartbreaking. She never did pinpoint why she felt so bad but she very much shared how alone she felt, everyday. At school, at home, in some groups she was part of. This blog had been written over a period of at least a year. There were no comments.

It’s not that children don’t hear about the dangers of being online or sharing to much information online, or that they don’t know of other kids that are doing the same things. It is a lot of times either they don’t see themselves in a situation that can go so far that it will lead to trouble or that they are so caught up in a situation, it isn’t clear enough to them to see they are at a point they need help.

Sometimes, they are doing certain things, even by being in a dangerous situation online to reach out for help. But, they are kids. As much as they want to be grown up so much and be treated like adults, they aren’t.

The fact is that each child is different and to assume that one “would never” do something that we hear others are doing online is the same as thinking that a person’s private information would be perfectly safe in a world where hundreds of millions of people are all sharing information back and forth on the World Wide Web (the name alone should be something to tell us to use it with caution).

If we aren’t willing to put our SS# or your bank account information on Facebook, the Internet or anything that can be found via the Internet now or in the coming days without being extra guarded or just not doing it at all, why would we put our children on there without keeping a close eye and being extra guarded and responsible??