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Trying To Define Criminal Law

(category: Ethics, Word count: 260)
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We hear about law everyday whether we realize it or not. It's in our Government, in our work, and even in our houses. One type of law is Criminal law, which is also known as Penal law. This is "The body of statutory and common law that deals with crime and the legal punishment of criminal offenses."

Inside of criminal law there is four major theories of criminal justice:

- Punishment

- Deterrence

- Incapacitation

- Rehabilitation

This form of law is essential in many cases because it can distinguis between crimes from civil wrongs. Criminal law has been around for ages, and is seeing as the fundamental system of regulating the behavior of individuals and groups relatively to what is defined as the social norms. This differs between civil crimes, where the difference is between two individuals and their individual rights and obligations under the law which is ruling the entire society.

An example of a civil law case is a dispute between two individuals over a contract that they made to for example sell an automobile. In that case one individual feels that their individual rights for a fair automobile sale have been breached by the other party. Where as in a criminal case, you would have for example a murderer, who is infringing on the right of safety that we all have. Given those two examples I'm sure you can appreciate how important Criminal law is, and the important role that it plays in everyone of our societies.

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The Quickest Way To Get Is To Give

(category: Ethics, Word count: 709)
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It's true. You can't really get what you want in life until you have given it to others. Doesn't sound like it makes much sense, does it? How can you give what you don't have? As you open your mind to the possibility and ask this question of yourself, you allow opportunity to come to you and knock at your door. Then you will find a way that it is possible to give to others what you want, before receiving it yourself.

It almost sounds like a chain letter and in a way it is. The chain letter is a facetious reference as so many of us have been exposed to them by now and know they are illegitimate scams. Yet the basic principles are: you give before you receive, and you give with the faith and expectation of receiving. A similar modern example can be seen in the film 'Pay It Forward'. By giving to others, you allow good things to happen to you. And this all boils down to the simple law of attraction.

The law of attraction is like any other law of nature, like gravity. And like gravity, it is not one that has been generally 'discovered' yet. As a result, most of us are walking around thinking in a completely disordered paradigm.

Disordered paradigms of thought are displayed over and over in history, and discoveries of natural laws and observations of reality have brought order to transform the mistaken beliefs that had been accepted for fact. You can think of many examples, such as the belief that the world is flat, or the belief that we are at the center of the universe. Or the great changes that resulted as a discovery of the force of electricity and harnessing its natural power.

In this same way, we are able to make a change in our own disordered thought patterns. Right now 99% of us are probably dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction means larger life is seeking to be expressed through us, and it is being blocked. Self-sabotage is a very real process working in the invisible realms of the unconscious mind.

The good news is there are a lot of simple, small but powerful techniques you can use to reprogram that all powerful unconscious mind of yours, to order your own life as you want it. Yes, there IS a way to eliminate the chaos in your life, and it starts within. It starts by eliminating the often unseen chaos in your own mind.

The technique in this article is only one of a vast array that you can use on a daily basis to improve your life dramatically. In this article you are learning how to use the law of attraction to attract to yourself what you want.

The law of attraction, like gravity, is undefiable. You will attract what you are sending out. Your thoughts are real in the world of attraction.

If your mind is resonating with patterns of anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, envy, grief, or any other negative emotion, you will be attracting more of the same in your life.

One step you can take to change this is to focus on giving to others before you receive yourself. In this way you are changing your vibration and your focus. And you open yourself to receive what you had been closing off before.

It is very simple to give. Give of what you have, and everyone has something to give. We all have innate value to offer the world. An abiding philosophy in the law of attraction is to always offer an increase in value, to give back more in value than you receive in money. In this way you continue to give more than you get and attract more and larger life back to yourself.

Take a moment to look within and find something, anything, no matter how small or simple, to give to anyone, friend or stranger. Start the practice of giving, and you will take one step towards raising your level of vibration and enhancing the value of what you attract in your own life. Give something selflessly today, knowing that you will receive it multiplied back in your life, tenfold.

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Titanic Precautions

(category: Ethics, Word count: 1168)
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Many movies have been made about the tragic story of the Titanic. Arrogance and ignorance was definitely present during its maiden voyage, which was Titanic's last voyage.

Many warnings were given, but unfortunately, the warnings were not taken seriously. On April 14th, 1912 Titanic received six warnings that icebergs were present in their perimeter. On the night of April 14th, Titanic struck an iceberg and ultimately sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

For other entities, what happened to the Titanic does NOT have to happen to them. Many have learned from the mistakes that Titanic had made.

There are several examples that follow and form a parallel to what happened to Titanic and how an entity can learn from Titanic's mistakes.

1. The Titanic only had 16 lifeboats, which was not nearly enough to save everyone on the ship.

Only about 60% of the entire lifeboats' capacity was utilized! Does your company have a disaster plan in place? Are your computers, especially your servers, being backed up on a regular basis? Many servers are now being backed up on a daily basis and sometimes on an hourly basis.

When I was working at a Helpdesk, one of our afternoon gals was named the "Backup Queen" because she took EVERY major server backup VERY seriously. The company was very lucky to have the "Backup Queen" because there were several instances where our most critical server had crashed and lost information. Fortunately, information restoration was quick and painless due to the machine being backed up on a regular basis.

We were very lucky to have someone who took the initiative to handle the server backups. Is your company that lucky? Yes, doing backups can be VERY unexciting. However, losing valuable data can be very exciting, but in a negative way.

2. The crewmen in the lookout tower, or the "crow's nest," were not issued binoculars to better search for icebergs.

Employees were not given the proper tools to use to do their job. Is your company using the right software for the job? Are you saving money on upgrading your operating system and software, but are losing customers? If you are losing customers, you're NOT really saving any money at all.

The right equipment can range from the very basic, such as issuing headphones that are compatible with the phone system to customer service representatives, to ensuring that a backup generator can adequately run due to a power outage.

3. Titanic had a total of 16 watertight compartments. Initially, it sounded fine, but unfortunately, each compartment did not hold water on its own. Every compartment was similar to an ice cube tray. When one compartment overflowed, water flowed into the next compartment. Each compartment did not completely seal off water on its own.

Does your company have a good disaster recovery plan in place? If a flood or a fire struck the premises, would you be able to resume business operations in a matter of days or would it take a matter of months?

Is your information that you have on site being sent off site so you CAN have another place to access your valuable information?

4. The Titanic was going at full speed at night in iceberg-infested waters.

Are your machines at your business running at 100% capacity on a continuous basis? How much is downtime costing you when those machines need to be fixed? Are you REALLY saving money by not buying more machinery? Does the cost of more machinery outweigh the cost of your present machines' downtime?

5. The Titanic did not heed to the many iceberg warnings.

Titanic received six iceberg warnings on the day it sank! Is your sales force, customer service department and/or helpdesk REALLY listening to your customers? Sam Walton, the founder of Wal Mart, said that the most important person to an organization can be the one who greets that customers. Too many companies don't even realize just how MUCH each person represents their company!

There is WAY too much competition in the marketplace NOT to heed warnings. Industries like telecom, automobile, office supplies, soft drinks, and restaurant industries, just to name a few, had better take warnings seriously. Some companies might not get the luxury of six warnings that the Titanic got. Sometimes, only one warning can break a company. That's why companies that DO encourage, and take seriously, customer feedback are invaluable and can be a gold mine.

6. The Titanic only had white flare guns to signal for help.

Red is the standard color for a flare gun used to signal for help. When the Titanic was sinking, white flare guns were shot off from the ship. One or two ships many miles away say the white flares, but did not interpret the white flares as warning messages.

Does your entity use the proper means of communication? Is it ensured that all of the parties involved completely understand what the other parties are saying? Many groups within an organization speak entirely different languages. Sales, technology and management translations may as similar to translating three different foreign languages.

7. Bruce Ismay, the president of White Star, pressured Captain Smith into unrealistic and dangerous goals.

Ismay wanted the Titanic to arrive in New York on Tuesday, April 16th. In order to meet this goal, the ship would have to travel at full speed a majority of the time. The coercion from Ismay turned out to be dangerous due to the ship's demise.

Ismay's level was similar to a CEO's level. Is your company's CEO and the rest of the management staff setting realistic goals? Are your managers providing bilateral communication? Feedback is vital to any company's survival because many managers are not involved in day-to-day activities.

8. The two wireless operators' priorities were not focused on the ship's priorities.

Many of the aristocrats in first class passage had paid both operators bonuses to wire messages to New York. One of the Titanic's operators told another ship to "shut up" after being given another iceberg warning. It was a powerful rebuke that may have cost thousands of lives.

Is your customer service department doing all it can to retain and acquire it customers? A polite and knowledgeable customer service representative can save the company thousands of dollars and maybe more! I have had the fortunate experience of dealing with many great customer service representatives. I have told many of the rep's supervisors that I really appreciated their help as well and that they are lucky to have such great rep's on their team.

9. The Titanic's steel construction was never tested in cold temperature.

The steel that made up ocean liners in the early 20th Century was brittle to begin with. Unfortunately, the steel was never stress-tested to determine what stress levels the structure could endure.

Is adequate testing being done on your company's products? Are your prototypes up to the challenges of customers' demands? Are an automobile company's crash tests being utilized to the fullest extent?

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Sexual Harassment Training

(category: Ethics, Word count: 142)
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One of the more significant pieces of California legislation that went into effect on January 1, 2005, was AB 1825. This law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment training and education to all supervisory employees by the end of 2005. It also mandates that these employees will receive sexual harassment training and education once every two years after January 1, 2006.

It is important to note that temporary employees, independent contractors and workers outside of the state of California are not excluded in the 50-employee tally. Be sure you count every employee before you decide this legislation doesn't apply to your company.

Scope of the training:

Your company's sexual harassment training should include "information and practical guidance" about all federal and state sexual harassment laws. The information provided should include:

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The Morality Of Child Labor

(category: Ethics, Word count: 1247)
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From the comfort of their plush offices and five to six figure salaries, self-appointed NGO's often denounce child labor as their employees rush from one five star hotel to another, $3000 subnotebooks and PDA's in hand. The hairsplitting distinction made by the ILO between "child work" and "child labor" conveniently targets impoverished countries while letting its budget contributors - the developed ones - off-the-hook.

Reports regarding child labor surface periodically. Children crawling in mines, faces ashen, body deformed. The agile fingers of famished infants weaving soccer balls for their more privileged counterparts in the USA. Tiny figures huddled in sweatshops, toiling in unspeakable conditions. It is all heart-rending and it gave rise to a veritable not-so-cottage industry of activists, commentators, legal eagles, scholars, and opportunistically sympathetic politicians.

Ask the denizens of Thailand, sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, or Morocco and they will tell you how they regard this altruistic hyperactivity - with suspicion and resentment. Underneath the compelling arguments lurks an agenda of trade protectionism, they wholeheartedly believe. Stringent - and expensive - labor and environmental provisions in international treaties may well be a ploy to fend off imports based on cheap labor and the competition they wreak on well-ensconced domestic industries and their political stooges.

This is especially galling since the sanctimonious West has amassed its wealth on the broken backs of slaves and kids. The 1900 census in the USA found that 18 percent of all children - almost two million in all - were gainfully employed. The Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional laws banning child labor as late as 1916. This decision was overturned only in 1941.

The GAO published a report last week in which it criticized the Labor Department for paying insufficient attention to working conditions in manufacturing and mining in the USA, where many children are still employed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the number of working children between the ages of 15-17 in the USA at 3.7 million. One in 16 of these worked in factories and construction. More than 600 teens died of work-related accidents in the last ten years.

Child labor - let alone child prostitution, child soldiers, and child slavery - are phenomena best avoided. But they cannot and should not be tackled in isolation. Nor should underage labor be subjected to blanket castigation. Working in the gold mines or fisheries of the Philippines is hardly comparable to waiting on tables in a Nigerian or, for that matter, American restaurant.

There are gradations and hues of child labor. That children should not be exposed to hazardous conditions, long working hours, used as means of payment, physically punished, or serve as sex slaves is commonly agreed. That they should not help their parents plant and harvest may be more debatable.

As Miriam Wasserman observes in "Eliminating Child Labor", published in the Federal Bank of Boston's "Regional Review", second quarter of 2000, it depends on "family income, education policy, production technologies, and cultural norms." About a quarter of children under-14 throughout the world are regular workers. This statistic masks vast disparities between regions like Africa (42 percent) and Latin America (17 percent).

In many impoverished locales, child labor is all that stands between the family unit and all-pervasive, life threatening, destitution. Child labor declines markedly as income per capita grows. To deprive these bread-earners of the opportunity to lift themselves and their families incrementally above malnutrition, disease, and famine - is an apex of immoral hypocrisy.

Quoted by "The Economist", a representative of the much decried Ecuador Banana Growers Association and Ecuador's Labor Minister, summed up the dilemma neatly: "Just because they are under age doesn't mean we should reject them, they have a right to survive. You can't just say they can't work, you have to provide alternatives."

Regrettably, the debate is so laden with emotions and self-serving arguments that the facts are often overlooked.

The outcry against soccer balls stitched by children in Pakistan led to the relocation of workshops ran by Nike and Reebok. Thousands lost their jobs, including countless women and 7000 of their progeny. The average family income - anyhow meager - fell by 20 percent. Economists Drusilla Brown, Alan Deardorif, and Robert Stern observe wryly:

"While Baden Sports can quite credibly claim that their soccer balls are not sewn by children, the relocation of their production facility undoubtedly did nothing for their former child workers and their families."

Such examples abound. Manufacturers - fearing legal reprisals and "reputation risks" (naming-and-shaming by overzealous NGO's) - engage in preemptive sacking. German garment workshops fired 50,000 children in Bangladesh in 1993 in anticipation of the American never-legislated Child Labor Deterrence Act.

Quoted by Wasserstein, former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, notes:

"Stopping child labor without doing anything else could leave children worse off. If they are working out of necessity, as most are, stopping them could force them into prostitution or other employment with greater personal dangers. The most important thing is that they be in school and receive the education to help them leave poverty."

Contrary to hype, three quarters of all children work in agriculture and with their families. Less than 1 percent work in mining and another 2 percent in construction. Most of the rest work in retail outlets and services, including "personal services" - a euphemism for prostitution. UNICEF and the ILO are in the throes of establishing school networks for child laborers and providing their parents with alternative employment.

But this is a drop in the sea of neglect. Poor countries rarely proffer education on a regular basis to more than two thirds of their eligible school-age children. This is especially true in rural areas where child labor is a widespread blight. Education - especially for women - is considered an unaffordable luxury by many hard-pressed parents. In many cultures, work is still considered to be indispensable in shaping the child's morality and strength of character and in teaching him or her a trade.

"The Economist" elaborates:

"In Africa children are generally treated as mini-adults; from an early age every child will have tasks to perform in the home, such as sweeping or fetching water. It is also common to see children working in shops or on the streets. Poor families will often send a child to a richer relation as a housemaid or houseboy, in the hope that he will get an education."

A solution recently gaining steam is to provide families in poor countries with access to loans secured by the future earnings of their educated offspring. The idea - first proposed by Jean-Marie Baland of the University of Namur and James A. Robinson of the University of California at Berkeley - has now permeated the mainstream.

Even the World Bank has contributed a few studies, notably, in June, "Child Labor: The Role of Income Variability and Access to Credit Across Countries" authored by Rajeev Dehejia of the NBER and Roberta Gatti of the Bank's Development Research Group.

Abusive child labor is abhorrent and should be banned and eradicated. All other forms should be phased out gradually. Developing countries already produce millions of unemployable graduates a year - 100,000 in Morocco alone. Unemployment is rife and reaches, in certain countries - such as Macedonia - more than one third of the workforce. Children at work may be harshly treated by their supervisors but at least they are kept off the far more menacing streets. Some kids even end up with a skill and are rendered employable.

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Ethics Leadership In Business Development

(category: Ethics, Word count: 525)
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In the 25 + years of working with some of the best people in Business Development within the power generation industry, we have found some unique characteristics that separate these individuals from the rest. It doesn't seem to matter what organization they work for, or the services, the client base or the economic climate. We find that these individuals are in fact the top 3% of the professionals in their field. In addition to learning to think as CEO's, Presidents, entrepreneurial leaders of Business Development units, we've discovered they have acquired the behavioral characteristics of a leader. They have learned how to set strategic and operational objectives in putting together plans, how to be visionaries and see opportunities for their organizations that other individuals may miss, and in the role of Business Development, they have mastered the 12 Core Competencies, a benchmark to measure leaders.

One of the most compelling definitions of a leader is an individual whose mere presence inspires the desire to follow. When asked if leaders are born or bred, the general consensus is that leadership can be taught. While few of us have had the opportunity to be formally trained or mentored in leadership, all of us are called to be a leader at different times and circumstances in our lives. Leadership is first about who you are as an individual, not what you do, and the term character best describes the core characteristic of a leader. It is this part of an individual that inspires other to follow, so we see character as the summation of an individual's principles and values, core beliefs by which one anchors and measures their behavior in all roles in life. Principles and values of a positive leader include loyalty, respect, integrity, courage, fairness, honesty, duty, honor and commitment.

If character is the summation of our principles and values, then ethics is the application of them. To understand more about character development, we can reach back nearly 2500 years to the writings of Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle taught that moral virtue is acquired by practice. Ethics, according to Aristotle, is moral virtue that comes about as a result of habit. Ethics has as its root ethike, formed by the slight variation of the word ethos (habit). Aristotle explained that moral virtues do not arise in us by nature; we must accept them, embrace them and perfect them by habit. Leadership training emphasizes that understanding leader values and attributes is only the first step in development. A leader must also embrace values and practice attributes, living them until they become a habit.

In the Business Development role, success requires a fusion of who we are as an individual, along with our principles, values, ethics and their application. It's a unique combination of what we know, how we apply it and what we do.

Bill Scheessele is CEO/Founder of MBDi, a Business Development consultancy based in Charlotte, North Carolina. For the past 27 years, MBDi has assisted client firms in leveraging their high level expertise into bottom line business. Information on the company and the MBDi Business Development Process

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The Business Of Torture

(category: Ethics, Word count: 1083)
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On January 16, 2003, the European Court of Human Rights agreed - more than two years after the applications have been filed - to hear six cases filed by Chechens against Russia. The claimants accuse the Russian military of torture and indiscriminate killings. The Court has ruled in the past against the Russian Federation and awarded assorted plaintiffs thousands of euros per case in compensation.

As awareness of human rights increased, as their definition expanded and as new, often authoritarian polities, resorted to torture and repression - human rights advocates and non-governmental organizations proliferated. It has become a business in its own right: lawyers, consultants, psychologists, therapists, law enforcement agencies, scholars and pundits tirelessly peddle books, seminars, conferences, therapy sessions for victims, court appearances and other services.

Human rights activists target mainly countries and multinationals.

In June 2001, the International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of 11 villagers against the American oil behemoth, ExxonMobile, for "abetting" abuses in Aceh, Indonesia. They alleged that the company provided the army with equipment for digging mass graves and helped in the construction of interrogation and torture centers.

In November 2002, the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll joined other American and South African law firms in filing a complaint that "seeks to hold businesses responsible for aiding and abetting the apartheid regime in South Africa ... forced labor, genocide, extrajudicial killing, torture, sexual assault, and unlawful detention".

Among the accused: "IBM and ICL which provided the computers that enabled South Africa to ... control the black South African population. Car manufacturers provided the armored vehicles that were used to patrol the townships. Arms manufacturers violated the embargoes on sales to South Africa, as did the oil companies. The banks provided the funding that enabled South Africa to expand its police and security apparatus."

Charges were leveled against Unocal in Myanmar and dozens of other multinationals. In September 2002, Berger & Montague filed a class action complaint against Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport. The oil giants are charged with "purchasing ammunition and using ... helicopters and boats and providing logistical support for 'Operation Restore Order in Ogoniland'" which was designed, according to the law firm, to "terrorize the civilian population into ending peaceful protests against Shell's environmentally unsound oil exploration and extraction activities".

The defendants in all these court cases strongly deny any wrongdoing.

But this is merely one facet of the torture business.

Torture implements are produced - mostly in the West - and sold openly, frequently to nasty regimes in developing countries and even through the Internet. Hi-tech devices abound: sophisticated electroconvulsive stun guns, painful restraints, truth serums, chemicals such as pepper gas. Export licensing is universally minimal and non-intrusive and completely ignores the technical specifications of the goods (for instance, whether they could be lethal, or merely inflict pain).

Amnesty International and the UK-based Omega Foundation, found more than 150 manufacturers of stun guns in the USA alone. They face tough competition from Germany (30 companies), Taiwan (19), France (14), South Korea (13), China (12), South Africa (nine), Israel (eight), Mexico (six), Poland (four), Russia (four), Brazil (three), Spain (three) and the Czech Republic (two).

Many torture implements pass through "off-shore" supply networks in Austria, Canada, Indonesia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Albania, Russia, Israel, the Philippines, Romania and Turkey. This helps European Union based companies circumvent legal bans at home. The US government has traditionally turned a blind eye to the international trading of such gadgets.

American high-voltage electro-shock stun shields turned up in Turkey, stun guns in Indonesia, and electro-shock batons and shields, and dart-firing taser guns in torture-prone Saudi Arabia. American firms are the dominant manufacturers of stun belts. Explains Dennis Kaufman, President of Stun Tech Inc, a US manufacturer of this innovation: "Electricity speaks every language known to man. No translation necessary. Everybody is afraid of electricity, and rightfully so." (Quoted by Amnesty International).

The Omega Foundation and Amnesty claim that 49 US companies are also major suppliers of mechanical restraints, including leg-irons and thumbcuffs. But they are not alone. Other suppliers are found in Germany (8), France (5), China (3), Taiwan (3), South Africa (2), Spain (2), the UK (2) and South Korea (1).

Not surprisingly, the Commerce Department doesn't keep tab on this category of exports.

Nor is the money sloshing around negligible. Records kept under the export control commodity number A985 show that Saudi Arabia alone spent in the United States more than $1 million a year between 1997-2000 merely on stun guns. Venezuela's bill for shock batons and such reached $3.7 million in the same period. Other clients included Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico and - surprisingly - Bulgaria. Egypt's notoriously brutal services - already well-equipped - spent a mere $40,000.

The United States is not the only culprit. The European Commission, according to an Amnesty International report titled "Stopping the Torture Trade" and published in 2001:

"Gave a quality award to a Taiwanese electro-shock baton, but when challenged could not cite evidence as to independent safety tests for such a baton or whether member states of the European Union (EU) had been consulted. Most EU states have banned the use of such weapons at home, but French and German companies are still allowed to supply them to other countries."

Torture expertise is widely proffered by former soldiers, agents of the security services made redundant, retired policemen and even rogue medical doctors. China, Israel, South Africa, France, Russia, the United kingdom and the United States are founts of such useful knowledge and its propagators.

How rooted torture is was revealed in September 1996 when the US Department of Defense admitted that "intelligence training manuals" were used in the Federally sponsored School of the Americas - one of 150 such facilities - between 1982 and 1991.The manuals, written in Spanish and used to train thousands of Latin American security agents, "advocated execution, torture, beatings and blackmail", says Amnesty International.

Where there is demand there is supply. Rather than ignore the discomfiting subject, governments would do well to legalize and supervise it. Alan Dershowitz, a prominent American criminal defense attorney, proposed, in an op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times, published November 8, 2001, to legalize torture in extreme cases and to have judges issue "torture warrants". This may be a radical departure from the human rights tradition of the civilized world. But dispensing export carefully reviewed licenses for dual-use implements is a different matter altogether - and long overdue.

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Background Checks And Balances

(category: Ethics, Word count: 644)
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Background Check Resources

Whether you're hiring a CEO, a subcontractor, a babysitter, or even looking for a new tenant or roommate, you're taking a big risk. It's the nature of business unfortunately for people to go to great lengths to misrepresent themselves and thus create the need for background check resources and references.

Avoid doing business with deceptive people with these 5 key factors in mind:

1. Prepare comprehensive histories from vague or misleading responses

2. Filter fact from fiction and deal with dishonest interviewees

3. Deal with legal issues including which questions you can and cannot ask

4. Make a confident, well-researched hiring decision

5. Use waivers that protect you legally during the background check process

Personal References

A personal reference could be anyone whom the candidate happens to know but most likely has never worked for. For landlords or people looking for a nanny for their children the request for references should still be for business references and not personal ones. The landlord-tenant relationship is still a business one as is the relationship between nannies and in-home health care workers and their employers. Nowadays, personal references have become one of those overused catchphrases that disguises the real work of responsible, effective reference checking.

Background Checks

The term background check is another catchall phrase that means checking the accuracy of basic information provided by a candidate for employment or similar. It's an important step in the employee selection process because it is a relatively painless and inexpensive way for the prospective employer to whittle down the pile of applications to only those candidates who are, at least, who they say they are.

While determining whether or not the candidate is whom he or she claims to be is an important first step, it should ultimately lead into real reference checking. There is so much more to learn about a candidate for employment or a prospective tenant or even a babysitter before the final decision can be made. And the only way to learn that is by talking to people who have worked with, rented to, or received service or care from the candidate in question.

Job Application Issues

There are several things employers can do to increase the likelihood of receiving honest responses to job performance questions:

1. Always ask the job seeker to provide a resume that contains a complete work history, including dates of employment for every job held.

2. Ask the candidate to provide the name of the person to whom he/she directly reported.

3. Employers should always require candidates for employment to fill out a formal job application that asks for the same information. One way or another, even if you have to ask for it during the first interview, you'll get a description of the tasks for which the job seeker was responsible at each position held.

If the list of references doesn't include at least one of the people to whom the candidate reported directly, a red warning flag should appear in the prospective employer's mind. Some job seekers will suggest they didn't list a previous supervisor as a reference because the two of them didn't get along and that's understandable, but throughout an individual's entire work history, there has to be at least ONE supervisor who can be a reference. If it's true the candidate has never gotten along with any supervisor ever, then it's best to look for another person for the job.

No, every job doesn't result in a happy ending, but with the above precautions in mind, one can reduce the possibility of getting burned or hiring the more suitable person for the job. Having more information about a job seeker is always better than having less. It's through working with other people that we reach most of our goals so choosing the right ones is therefore, essential.

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Profit Shouldn T Be A Dirty Word In Material Handling

(category: Ethics, Word count: 550)
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Nobody benefits when profit is eliminated from the economic equation.

With the economy on the mend, a lot of people in the material handling industry are expecting good times without having to make any changes in the way they do business. Unfortunately, that means the continuation of one particular practice that played a major role in getting the economy in trouble a few years back.

When the "dot.coms" were flying high, they experienced rapid growth by the simple method of offering impossibly low prices and constant expansion into markets about which they knew nothing. They operated at a loss for years on end, promising investors that it would all turn around when they had achieved sufficient market share. Eventually, of course, this "lose a little on each deal but make it up in volume" business model blew up in their faces. The balloons popped, one by one, and the economy followed them down the tube.

In the material handling industry, this discredited business model is still very much in evidence. Too many companies have played the merger game, getting themselves involved in markets that they know nothing about. Too many have played the numbers game, moving money from one pocket to another to make themselves look good for one more quarter (this is called managing for stockholder value), totally forgetting about long-range planning.

Worst of all, too many companies have bought into the concept of forgoing profits in pursuit of market share, with the idea of becoming profitable once the competition is eliminated. It's called "buying a job," meaning submitting a bid that allows for little or no profit. Theoretically, this has two benefits. It gets you the job, which makes your sales figures (if not your profits) look impressive. More importantly, for some people, it prevents your competition from getting the job.

But let's look at the downside. Without profits, you have no money to invest in research and development, capital expenditures, etc. Your growth is all on paper, and will disappear as soon as you run out of money to buy jobs with.

With minimal profit margins, you have neither the money nor the inclination to service the sale after it is made. The result is an unhappy customer, and that is never good news for the long term prospects of your company.

Finally, let's say that your strategy of underbidding the competition works, and your nearest competitor goes bankrupt. What happens? Somebody buys his assets for 25 cents on the dollar and opens a new business. Since his initial investment was so low, he can undercut your prices. You haven't eliminated competition, you've made it worse.

Profit is not a dirty word. Nobody - least of all the customer - benefits when profit is eliminated from the economic equation. I'm not saying we shouldn't be looking for efficiencies that will allow us to keep prices down while maintaining a reasonable profit margin. Of course the customer benefits from lower prices, but the economy in general and the material handling industry in particular will be much healthier when we all admit to wanting our fair share. If you're satisfied with a 3% profit, I suggest you buy a government bond. It's safer.

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