Monday, December 9, 2019

Russian Influence-za

The U.S.-Russian saga is the most interesting (and terrifying) thing going on in the world today. And if it's seemed too piecemeal and confusing to follow, I totally get it. But even if you think it doesn't affect you, I promise it does. Therefore, we need to understand even just the basics.
So here we go...

Where to start? Let's begin with:

He believed the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geo-political catastrophe of the century. As a KGB officer he was humiliated by the fall of the USSR and blamed the west- specifically the United States. He's made it his mission to bring Russia back to its former glory and will do anything it takes to humiliate the U.S. and vindicate his homeland.

Watch Putin's Revenge the two part series from FRONTLINE to understand why Putin hates the U.S., despises Hillary Clinton, and desperately needs to have a way to protect himself and his wealth.

In order for Putin to get revenge he needs two thing: money and power. 

Putin needs money: one to maintain his power and two to ensure his safety. But it does him little good to hoard all his money in Russia so he needs to launder it out of the country. He was doing that successfully by building up oligarchs' (beholden to him) fortunes until lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, working for an American-born British financier, Bill Browder, was tortured and killed while in a Moscow prison. 

Browder vowed to avenge his lawyer/friend's death and lobbied and passed the Magnitsky Act which: 
authorizes the U.S. government to sanction those who it sees as human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the U.S. 
Hear more about Browder and Magnitsky in this Stay Tuned with Preet podcast or this interview. It ties in why Putin was desperate to get sanctions removed and why the Trump Tower meeting which invoked "Russian adoptions" was really codeword for getting the U.S. to remove these financial restrictions through a back channel. 

Active Measures
If the oligarchs, and therefore Putin, are prevented from laundering money out of Russia they are backed into a corner and feel provoked to do ever more desperate things. 

What they did was accelerate ongoing active measures:
Active measures is a term for the actions of political warfare conducted by the Soviet and Russian security services (Cheka, OGPU, NKVD, KGB, FSB) to influence the course of world events.
These measures included calling in favors from the likes of Paul Manafort and Donald Trump to the Russian mob that had aided in money laundering and suspicious dealings over the years.  

So how will Putin ensure sanctions are removed and maintain his power and wealth?

Roger Stone
Well, before we get to the how we need to introduce Roger Stone into the picture. It's easy to think Roger is just a bad joke and write him off as a would-be-Batman-villain, but in actuality he is one of the most important back-seat political drivers of the last 40+ years.

Watch Get Me Roger Stone to see how one man messing around behind the scenes and blatantly in front of the camera can alter an election in front of our very eyes. See how his ties with Paul Manafort (they were business partners from back in the 80's); his 30+ year relationship with Donald Trump; his dirty-trickster ways; and his ties to WikiLeaks effected the 2016 election.

For the logistics of the how, we check in with Steve Bannon and the Cambridge Analytica folks. Their manipulation of our data through Facebook and in conjunction with Russian active measures was a perfect storm which blew Trump into office. 

The Great Hack

This accomplished several things for Putin: took down Hillary Clinton, stirred chaos with Trump and U.S. allies and got our fellow citizens to turn against each other.  

Putin has been successful using active measures so much so we are now in a place where Republicans who were until recently staunch Russian opponents are now either doing his bidding or at least not preventing him from waging a cyber/disinformation war on the American public. 

Are our politicians infected with Russian influence-za? Do they not know what is going on beneath their very noses? Or are they choosing to surrender our elections and our very democracy to save their careers and their power? Is this Putin's dream come true or are we going to wake up and unite behind securing our elections, holding accountable those who betrayed our country and defending our nation from foes foreign and domestic? 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Pronoun Power: The Quest for Singular "They"

When I was writing my book I had my dear step-Mom read a draft and when I asked her for her thoughts she said she loved all but two things: my grammar and my punctuation. My reply was that I was lucky enough to have a brilliant editor who'd fix all my errors so she could rest assured the world would not know how atrocious my actual writing is. 

Most of the time I agreed with the changes that were suggested to me but one particular back-and-forth I do remember having with my editor was how they is a plural and I could not use it in the singular for a sentence I was trying to include. I was annoyed but eventually acquiesced 😒

Fast forward to today when we are trying to be a more inclusive non-gender-biased world and well meaning folks who are guarding the rules of grammar are torn about how to use a plural pronoun in a way that can be adopted by individuals who would prefer not be identified as either he or she

Well, finally my quest for using singular they has risen to include a social component that makes it ripe to be embraced. Still I thought why not avoid the grammar wars and instead forge a new frontier. 

So today I take the bold step of suggesting we create a new pronoun that can stand in singular non-gender form but include all people: thay / thair

Pronounced the same but used to represent "a" singular person instead of a plural.

Pronouns are simply words but when someone is disempowered by having to identify themselves as one that does not fit these words can wound. They can be used by ignorant people as weapons of division. Let's keep the meaning they has held but add thay as a sign of the times and a pronoun that gives power to our communication that we can all back.

Power to the Pronoun! Power to ALL the People: he, she, thay!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Creating 2019

ME Mapping: Creating Your Year from Joy Meredith

Wishing YOU a fabulous 2019! 

Cheers to creating your most JOYfull Year Ever :)

And... if you're interested in mapping with ME please come join us for the next ME Workshop on the January 19th

*SlideShare doesn't allow editing or updating decks anymore so this version is through 2020 in case you're wondering 😉