Part One: Did You Know War Affects Children’s Health This Badly?


Did You Know War Affects Children's Health This Badly?Children are left broken and destitute as a result of war. According to Letty Thomas of, “[C]ivilians were once far removed from the fighting; they’re now routinely targeted and make up 90% of the casualties.” Thousands of children die as a direct result of violence in war each year. Thomas goes on to say that “Hospitals and health [centers] are destroyed. Doctors and nurses are killed or have fled. Children are most vulnerable to diseases like [diarrhea], malaria and cholera. Treatment is simple and cheap, but millions of children have died through lack of it.” Moreover, thousands of children are injured each year specifically by weapons. Landmines are particularly vicious. Children are more likely to get hurt by landmines than adults are. Injuries occur as a result of poor knowledge of how to use weapons, being in the line of fire, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Children are further disabled from war. According to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health (NLM/NIH), “A child may have to wait up to 10 years before having a prosthetic limb fitted.” The NLM/NIH further states that children have poor access to proper, “nutrition, water safety, sanitation, housing, and… health services.” Because of this, illness becomes an indirect effect of war on children. Because children are often separated from their parents/guardians throughout the lifespan of a war, they are often left with guardians who do not care for them as much. These children end up having to scavenge for medical help on their own, which most can’t or won’t.

Oftentimes, people do not view mental health as a part of physical health, but it is. The mind is just as much of an organ as any other body party, and it gets affected deeply during the process of war. Children will oftentimes have high levels of anxiety and depression as a result of experiencing horror and loss of life, both of loved ones and strangers. Many end up with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The NLM/NIH explains that “They may have to change their moral structure and lie, steal, and sell sex to survive. They may have their moral structure forcibly dismantled and replaced in training to kill as part of a military force.” Sexual assault is becoming a way to wage war now, too, leaving many young girls pregnant or unable to have children. Being taken advantage of physically can result in incredibly traumatic experiences for children both psychologically and on their physical bodies. They can be abused verbally or physically and be taken advantage of.

Children are true victims in the case of war. They are vulnerable because of their age, their size, and their naivety. Children are often lead astray and get involved in things they never wanted to, to begin with. Children need to be helped more than most other people groups. Learn about how children are negatively affected next month, because their education is stolen from them. Feel free to tweet me any thoughts, questions, or comments you may have @johnslifko!

The Torah and The Vedas: A Comparative Study by John Slifko

Communication in History: Steam Power & Wireless Telegraphy

In the decade prior to World War 1, as wireless use expanded, most people thought radio telegraphy was novel and useful. It allowed people to talk to one another across great distances, to think about what others were feeling and to respond at once without the time to reflect afforded by written communication.


Source: (Wikipedia) Photophone, a telephone that conducted audio conversations wirelessly over modulated light beams.

But in 1912, as the Titanic sank to the bottom of the ocean, this attitude changed dramatically. 104 years later today, I highlight some of the main communications implications brought on after the sinking of the Titanic and explain the public’s new way of thinking about “experience of the present”.

For Stephen Kern, writing in his book The Culture of Time & Space 1880 – 1918, “…a series of sweeping changes in technology and culture created distinctive new modes of thinking about and experiencing time and space. Technological innovations including the telephone, wireless telegraph, x-ray, cinema, bicycle, automobile, and airplane established the material foundation for this reorientation.” 


Source: (Wikipedia) RMS Titanic, showing eight lifeboats along the starboard-side boat deck

The history of wireless telegraphy begins with a paper by James Clerk Maxwell in 1864, which argued that electromagnetic waves must exist and should be able to be propagated through space. In 1887 Heinrich Hertz produced those waves in a laboratory, and in 1894 Guglielmo Marconi devised an apparatus to transmit and received them.


Source: (Wikipedia) Guglielmo Marconi

In 1904, the Marconi Company established the first wireless news service with nightly transmissions from Cornwall to Cape Cod. The first distress signal from a ship at sea was sent in 1899, and in 1909, following a collision between two ships, a wireless call saved 1,700 lives. By 1912 the wireless was an essential part of international communication linking land stations and ships at sea in an instantaneous, worldwide network.

On the night of April 14, 1912, at 11:40 p.m., the largest moving structure ever built, The Titanic, steamed at a recklessly high speed into an ice field in the North Atlantic. At 12:15 a.m. the captain ordered his wireless operator to send the distress call. This caused airwaves to travel far enough for dozen ships to become aware of the disaster.


Iceberg (Source)

Ten ships heard the call from over a hundred miles away and remained in contact but were too distant to help, as were also the Hellig Olav at 90 miles and the Niagara at 75 miles. The Mount Temple was 50 miles away but had to move slowly through ice fields. The Carpathia at 58 miles was the first to arrive, but not until almost two hours after the Titanic went down with 1,522 passengers.


Rescue boats (Source)

During the two hours from the first distress call until the radio operators abandoned the radio room they sent 30-35 messages, which were heard as far away as Italy; but not by a ship four miles away. This particular ship, the Californian was close enough (approximately 19 miles away) to have saved all the passengers, was not in wireless contact. The wireless operator had hung up his earphones for the night about ten minutes before the Titanic sent out its first CQD.

The world began to get news of the disaster at 1:20 a.m., when a wireless station in Newfoundland picked up the message that the Titanic was sinking and was putting women off in boats.


The New York Herald April 16, 1912 (Source):

An officer of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company praised the communication that made it possible to follow the rescue. The telephone and wireless, he wrote, “enabled the peoples of many lands to stand together in sympathetic union, to share a common grief.” Although the wireless had been used before to save lives at sea, the rescue effort was particularly highlighted because so many were aware of the tragedy: the survivors watching from lifeboats, the wireless operators in distant places, and the frustrated seamen in the rescue ships.

John Slifko Communications in History Blog

Sinking of the RMS Titanic (Source): Wikipedia

This epic relationship between steam power and wireless telegraphy led numerous artists, poets, and novelists to later debate the issue of sequence versus simultaneity. Thinking on the subject was divided over two basic issues: “Whether the present is a sequence of single local events, or whether the present is an infinitesimal slice of time between past and future.” In essence, the ability to experience many distant events at the same time, made possible by the wireless and dramatized by the sinking of the Titanic, was part of this major change in public perception when thinking about the “experience of the present.”


Appeared in New York Herald for better radio regulation (Source):

In summary, the Titanic disaster illustrates issues about broadcasting and the limitations of monopolies early in the cycles of technological adaptation.  In effect, the Titanic used wireless technology that was rapidly becoming obsolete.  Yet American Marconi and its British parent company were notorious for a technological conservatism, especially with respect to using a rapidly obsolescing approach to radio communications – the spark transmitter.  It had been apparent since at least 1906 that continuous wave, high frequency transmissions were possible and far more efficient.  The New York Times said May 2: “Sixteen hundred lives were lost that might have been saved if the wireless communication had been what it should have been.” Four months later, on August 13, the Radio Act of 1912 is passed.


Communication in history: Technology, culture, society” by David Crowley and Paul Heyer

In March 2016, We Celebrate Women’s History Month

Throughout history, women have driven humanity forward on the path to a more equal and just society, contributing in innumerable ways to our character and progress as a people.  In the face of discrimination and undue hardship, they have never given up on the promise of America:  that with hard work and determination, nothing is out of reach. – President Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

In honor of National Women’s History month, the fast-growing family history site,, published a visual infographic to honor some of the exceptional women who have made a difference and helped shape our world. In this blog post, I include the top 5 inspirational quotes these women have left behind:

5.Marie Curie Womens History month Celebration on John Slifkos Civil Society Blog site“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie, Polish physicist and chemist 

The importance of Marie Curie’s work is reflected in the numerous awards bestowed on her. She received many honorary science, medicine and law degrees and honorary memberships of learned societies throughout the world. Together with her husband, she was awarded half of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, for their study into the spontaneous radiation discovered by Becquerel, who was awarded the other half of the Prize. In 1911 she received a second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, in recognition of her work in radioactivity. She also received, jointly with her husband, the Davy Medal of the Royal Society in 1903 and, in 1921, President Harding of the United States, on behalf of the women of America, presented her with one gram of radium in recognition of her service to science. – Source:

4.Harriet Beecher Stowe Womens History Month 2016 on John Slifkos Civil Society blog“Common sense is seeing things as they are; and doing things as they ought to be.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe, American abolitionist and author 

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) published more than 30 books, but it was her best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin which catapulted her to international celebrity and secured her place in history.

But Uncle Tom’s Cabin was not Stowe’s only work. Her broad range of interests resulted in such varied publications as children’s text books, advice books on homemaking and childrearing, biographies and religious studies. The informal, conversational style of her many novels permitted her to reach audiences that more scholarly or argumentative works would not, and encouraged everyday people to address such controversial topics as slavery, religious reform, and gender roles.  Harriet Beecher Stowe believed her actions could make a positive difference. Her words changed the world. – Source:

3.Jane Austen celebrating Womens History Month 2016 on John slifkos civil society blog site“One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” – Jane Austen, English novelist 

Jane Austen is a world renowned English author and, despite her having lived centuries ago, she commands a legion of fans around the world numbering in the millions today. Her timeless works- numbering just six completed novels- have been turned into a plethora of motion pictures, television shows and modern adaptations at a regular pace in addition to being translated into multiple languages that help her stories surpass cultural boundaries. These six works have gone on to become the model formula for the romance stories of today. – Source:

2. Susan B. Anthony Celebrating Womens History Month 2016 on John Slifkos Civil Society blog site“Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” – Susan B. Anthony, Civil rights leader and suffragette

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) is perhaps the most widely known suffragist of her generation and has become an icon of the woman’s suffrage movement. Anthony traveled the country to give speeches, circulate petitions, and organize local women’s rights organizations. Stanton and Anthony founded the American Equal Rights Association and in 1868 became editors of its newspaper, The Revolution. The masthead of the newspaper proudly displayed their motto, “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” From 1881 to 1885, Anthony joined Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage in writing the History of Woman Suffrage. As a final tribute to Susan B. Anthony, the Nineteenth Amendment was named the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. It was ratified in 1920. – Source:

1. Eleanor_Roosevelt_celebrating women's history month march 2016 on John Slifkos civil society blog site“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady and humanitarian 

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the longest-serving First Lady throughout her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office (1933-1945). She was an American politician, diplomat, and activist who later served as a United Nations spokeswoman.  When Mrs. Roosevelt came to the White House in 1933, she understood social conditions better than any of her predecessors and she transformed the role of First Lady accordingly. She never shirked official entertaining; she greeted thousands with charming friendliness. She also broke precedent to hold press conferences, travel to all parts of the country, give lectures and radio broadcasts, and express her opinions candidly in a daily syndicated newspaper column, “My Day.”

This made her a tempting target for political enemies but her integrity, her graciousness, and her sincerity of purpose endeared her personally to many–from heads of state to servicemen she visited abroad during World War II. As she had written wistfully at 14: “…no matter how plain a woman may be if truth & loyalty are stamped upon her face all will be attracted to her….” –Source: 

In conclusion, (and in the words of President Obama): “During Women’s History Month, we remember the trailblazers of the past, including the women who are not recorded in our history books, and we honor their legacies by carrying forward the valuable lessons learned from the powerful examples they set.”

Historic Climate Agreement

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), global climate change is causing our earth to warm at unusual, and increasingly dangerous temperatures. The EPA says: “The evidence is clear. Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in weather and climate.”

Global Climate Change Effects John Slifko, PhD Civil Sphere Blog

“Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet’s oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes – oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. This is extremely important because as these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment.” – Source: EPA Website

Global Warming John Slifko Civil Sphere Blog

In the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization, according to evidence found on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) website here. What’s more, the current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.

But, according to the New York Times, global warming has already had another effect — the large-scale displacement of people — that has been an ominous, politically sensitive undercurrent in the talks and side events. Scientists have said that climate change can indirectly lead to migration by setting off violent conflicts. Scholars have made this connection since at least 2007, when they cited climate change as a reason for the war in Darfur, Sudan.

Global Climate Change Forcing Migrants John Slifko Civil Sphere Blog

Now, some good news… Recently, after more than two weeks of debate, nearly 200 countries have adopted the global agreement to cut and then eliminate greenhouse gas pollution collectively.  In one article, ABC News reports, “There were tears of joy at the United Nations climate change conference in Paris after world leaders agreed on an historic deal to cut emissions.” According to news from the National Post, in the pact, the countries commit to limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100. 

Global Climate Change Agreement John Slifko Civil Sphere blog

Speaking from Washington, President Barack Obama said the climate agreement offers “the best chance to save the one planet we have.”

Global Climate Change John Slifko Civil Sphere Blog

Click to View: “A Brief History of Climate Change”

Human Rights and Civil Society In Russia


Civil society is a necessary part of any free society and is key in ensuring the collective will of citizens is heard. Seeing civil society organizations repressed in any country is cause for alarm. This is the case today in Russia.

Russia has a poor human rights record and though Russia claims to be a free society today, it is considered by experts a country that is only somewhat free. Many believe that this is worsening as the government collapses.

The number of cases of human rights abuses in the European Court of Human Rights has steadily increased since 2002. These cases include discrimination, murder of journalists, and torture of prisoners.

Opposition to the ruling party is routinely met with intimidation, imprisonment and even murder.

Sergei Magnitsky, for example, was an accountant in Russia who attempted to expose government officials for a massive theft. He was subsequently tortured in prison over the course of a year and eventually died without ever being tried.

Most recently opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov, was murdered in front of the Kremlin. The official story alleges he was killed by Chechan Islamic extremists for his support of Charlie Hebdo. These official stories are incredulous after a number of high-profile journalist murders have taken place under Putin’s watch.

The problem is not with a lack of laws it is a problem with people ignoring the laws and not being punished. Torture, for example, is expressly forbidden in the Russian Constitution but some estimates put the number of prisoners whom have endured torture in interrogations at 50%.

Non-governmental organizations are not able to act freely in the country and face government oversight which effectively renders them useless. Civil society organizations are meant to be separate organizations so by requiring NGOs register as Russian organizations they can no longer represent the will of the people if its against the government. Many NGOs have been suspended from acting in the country.

Many are optimistic however and say Russia has a complicated political history and changes are not made overnight. The collapse of the ruble may threaten the Putin regime but even if he were to be replaced it would hard to completely change the corrupt system quickly.

International Human Rights and Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia and The U.S. have historically had friendly relations. As the world has changed with increasing pace the relationship has remained surprisingly durable and both nations have benefited. Now, however, we are starting to see this slowly deteriorate with the recent death of King Abdullah and increased concern about human rights violations.

Saudi Arabia was started in 1932 as conservative Sunni monarchy and hasn’t had any significant changes to its governing practices.

Many are concerned about human rights violations in the state. Capital punishment and public executions are commonplace in Saudi Arabia and with a globalized world these public executions are coming to light and facing widespread condemnation. One recent case that made international news was the 1,000 lashes punishment that was handed out to Raif Badawi for purportedly insulting Islam and committing apostasy.

Freedom House is an NGO that currently says the country ranks among the lowest countries in the world for human rights violations.

In the interest of productive discourse it is important to understand exactly what is happening in Saudi Arabia and not to be mislead by peoples’ misconceptions.

Purported violations include Saudi citizens’ inability to change the status quo through free speech or use of the internet. Citizens don’t have freedom of religion and even the Shiite Muslim minority are discriminated against. But perhaps most publicized – there is no gender equality.

In Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive and are bound by law to cover their heads in public.

One of many Islamic nations in the region, Saudi Arabia’s legal system is based on interpretations of Islamic law. Judges in the country that hand out sentences take into account Sharia Law, current laws and like America, precedent. Many believe that the use of Sharia Law in decision making is the reason for human rights violations.



The Most Notable Human Rights Organizations Worldwide

Human rights organizations come in sizes large and small, some are government sponsored and some are non-governmental organizations (NGO), but all support the effort to make human rights a priority everywhere. Below are a list of some of the largest and most well-known organizations promoting human rights for everyone.


Amnesty International

With a total of 3 million people involved through volunteerism and activism, Amnesty International is active in over 150 countries, and the American arm will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. The organization deliberately keeps itself separate from any government or corporate agenda. They aim to bring human rights to every person in the world regardless of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity. To achieve this end Amnesty International engages in lobbying, education and often works to free prisoners of conscience.


Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch was originally named Helsinki Watch when it was founded in 1978 to ensure the Soviet Union complied with the Helsinki Accords. Their strategy of covering human rights violations in the media was effective and helped transform the Soviet Union. There were other “Watch” organizations that adopted similar strategies and goals in other regions. These organizations which were monitoring The Middle East, Africa, and Asia came together in 1988 to form Human Rights Watch. They monitor and condemn a wide variety of human rights abuses including torture, corruption and the use of children in the military.


The International Labour Organization (ILO)

The vast majority of UN member countries are a part of the ILO. The organization works to protect basic worker rights and improve security and fair pay, and prevent inhumane employment practices. To do this the ILO includes governments, employers and employees in its governing structure. Their main focuses are on ending forced labor and child labor and have made great strides with each.


Human Rights First

Formerly known as Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights, Human Rights First was founded in 1978 and is based in New York and Washington D.C. The organization seeks to protect refugees around the world and believe human rights are for everyone. Human Rights First often works to fight human rights violations within the United States and pushes the government to intervene abroad when it finds human rights violations. The organization itself admits that true change has to come from within a country and outside influence can only do so much.

Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan Speaks With Press After Meeting o

United Nations Foundation

The United Nations Foundation addresses a wide variety of human rights related causes including climate change, energy, technology, and women’s rights. Started in 1998, the foundation received a generous donation of $1 billion dollars from Ted Turner. The organization works closely with the UN and is the UN’s largest source of funding from private sources.


United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

A well known human rights organization, UNICEF works in developing countries to provide assistance to children and mothers. It was started in 1946 to provide humanitarian assistance to the countries that were destroyed during World War II. UNICEF is one of the most well funded human rights organizations and accepts contributions from both private donors and governments. UNICEF works with over 200 countries to give assistance in the form of medicines, shelter, educational supplies and more. In 2006, FC Barcelona became the first sports team to support an organization as opposed to being sponsored by an organization when they agreed to show the UNICEF logo on their jerseys and provide donations annually.


World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization is an agency of the United Nations that focuses exclusively on health issues throughout the world. WHO came into the spotlight recently with their work in Africa fighting the spread of ebola. WHO helps educate people on both communicable diseases like HIV and non-communicable disease like malnutrition. They were an integral part of the eradication of small pox.

A Brief Discussion of Human Rights Day

Universal Links for Human Rights

Universal Links for Human Rights

Human Rights Day was yesterday on the 10th of December. This is the day The United Nation General Assembly’s proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This global pronouncement of universal human rights was a major achievement of the United Nations and one of their first. This day is normally marked by political conferences and cultural events dealing with human rights. There’s an annual prize given in the field of human rights by the United Nations. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded as well. This year, Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Many NGOs and governmental organizations that are active in human rights commemorate the day in their own ways.

However, Human Rights Day is often also marked by protests and a look into all the the work that still needs to be done in regards to human rights. Massacres by ISIS are a daily occurrence, and world women’s rights are an exception, not a rule. The fight for human rights is an ongoing struggle so yesterday should also a moment to look at some of the issues we are facing today.

Nearly three years ago Syrians left their the country when the Syrian civil war began, over the last three years the number of refugees has increased to over 3 million. And Syria is not the only country where this happening, Ukraine is being attacked by its neighbor Russia and the number of people displaced by that war has increased from 10,000 to 260,000. There are millions of other people from other countries that do not belong to a state. Acquiring citizenship in any country is difficult and often even more difficult if you are coming from war-torn regions. It is estimated that there are 10 million people in the world today that do not have the human rights protection of a nationality and one third of them are children.

It is also estimated that there are up to 36 million people living as slaves in the world today. In India, a country of 1.2 billion, it is estimated that over 1% of the population lives in slavery. In Haiti that number is doubled. 

10 Water Efficiency Tips for Southern Californians

Every summer in Southern California there is talks of a drought, but this year has been particularly bad. Governor Jerry Brown has made helping to remedy this situation the focus of his administration. Brown recently asked residents to cut down on water usage by 20% and the message has been well received. Residents cut down on water usage by 11.5% last month. A far cry from the 20% request but a step in the right direction anyway. Below are some steps you can take to further cut down on water usage.

Make Washing Clothes More Efficient

If you can purchase a water efficient clothes washer, do it. If not, you can still save water by only doing full loads, and washing darks with cold water. These tips will save you cost on energy as well.

Make Washing Dishes More Efficient

Use the dishwasher only when it is full, and purchase a more efficient dishwasher if possible (this will save money and water in the long run). Wash dishes with two reservoirs, one for washing, one for rinsing. If you must let the faucet run, there are inexpensive aerators that will reduce the amount of water flow.

Become a Water Efficient Chef

Generally speaking, don’t let the water run when possible. Wash vegetables in a pan of water and thaw food overnight. Don’t use oversized pans.

Recycle Water

After you wash your vegetables, or rinse your pots, and pans use that water to water your plants.

Install Efficient Toilet, Shower Heads, and Faucets

The bathroom is where a lot of the water is wasted. If it’s in the budget, install new hardware, California will thank you, and it pays itself back.

Don’t Let the Water Run

Shaving, brushing teeth, even washing your hands with soap before lathering can save water.

Water in the Morning or at Night

Cooler temperatures mean less water evaporates.

Irrigation System For Watering

Drip irrigation system can save both time and water, and if it’s in the budget install a smart automatic timer that won’t water when it rains.

Southern California is a Desert, Use Desert Flora

Desert plants are drought resistant, require little to no watering

Use Hose Alternatives for Outdoor Projects

A hose is so useful for cleaning outside and washing cars, but a broom or a sponge and a bucket will suffice.