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Mohamed Moncef Marzouki (Former President of Tunisia)

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Narrated by Kathleen Turner, America’s Diplomats explores the role of the Foreign Service – from Ben Franklin to Benghazi – through stories of individual …

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Doesn’t America DESERVE Better?

In 2016, The United States of America, elected, in a tightly contested election, an individual, who promised, to, Make America Great Again, whatever that might mean, and represent. This indicated, and further created, a divided, polarized, partisan nation, with, seemingly, little willingness, on either side, to seek common ground, towards a true, meeting – of – the – minds, for the greater good! To some degree, because of our complex, electoral system, Presidents are elected, based on the Electoral College, instead of the popular one. We witnessed, in that election, Donald Trump, being elected President of the United States, although, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, actually received, well over two million, more popular votes. We’ve witnessed more blaming and complaining, as well as empty promises, rhetoric, and misstatements, than genuine service and representation! Doesn’t this nation DESERVE better, than we, are, presently, receiving from our elected, public officials? With that in mind, this article will attempt to, briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, using the mnemonic approach, what this means and represents, and why it matters.

1. Delve deeply; discover; deep look; deliver: Instead of electing people, who are often, driven, more by their personal/ political agendas, and self – interest, wouldn’t it make more sense, to voters, to take a deeper look at the candidates, delve deeply into what it might mean and represent, as well as if it’s viable and realistic, and discover the best person, for a specific position? Don’t vote on empty promises, and rhetoric, but rather on the potential, and actual qualifications, to under – promise, and, over – deliver!

2. Empathy; emphasis: Public officials must effectively listen, and learn, from every conversation, and experience, in order to proceed, with the utmost degree of genuine empathy! This must direct their emphasis, and focus!

3. Service; solutions; sustainable; stronger: Avoid voting for someone, who seems to need, to have his back slapped, and, who, rather. emphasizes, quality service! The duty of a leader is to make our nation stronger, in the present, as well as prepared, better, to leave the world, for future generations! We need relevant, sustainable leadership!

4. Excellence; endurance: There’s no place for leading with being satisfied with, good – enough, but we need, a dedication to genuine excellence! Since there are always, obstacles, we need someone, with the utmost amount of endurance and persistence!

5. Relevant; reliable; responsive; rights; right: Shouldn’t our leaders, do what’s right, and not, simply, expedient? This requires the quality of character, to proceed, in a relevant, reliable, responsive, responsible manner, and to prioritize all the rights, freedoms, and liberties, guaranteed by our Constitution!

6. Visionary; vision; views: Examine a candidate’s vision, and views, carefully, before electing, someone! Seek individuals, with a visionary manner, and perspective, and focus, on what should be!

7. Energy/ energize; enrich: Consider the personal energy, and personal aura, carefully, and look, for someone, ready, willing, and able to energize, and enrich, the nation, and all its citizens!

Wake up, America, because, if you don’t, we won’t receive what we need, and DESERVE! It’s up to each voter, to take responsibility for his actions!

Source by Richard Brody

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Repeal and Replace BMI: Make America Strong Again!

In order to make America great again, President-Elect Donald J. Trump will have to make America strong again. In the words of former President John F. Kennedy, "A nation is only as strong as its citizens." And we're currently a nation in which obesity (a GLARING NATIONAL WEAKNESS) is an epidemic!

Executive Director of the President's Council
In that light I'd like to make formal application for the position of Executive Director of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. I realize that historically this position has been filled by celebrities who serve as PR vehicles in order to "promote" fitness and health to America's youth. But with the ongoing epidemic as living proof, I suggest the PR approach to childhood obesity prevention has failed for almost two decades now!

Systematically Reduce Obesity
Given the opportunity, I would implement a hands on approach that will systematically reduce childhood obesity in schools across America. I'll personally guarantee significant, documented progress within the first year of implementation. And within one decade I predict that childhood obesity and the myriad of problems that follow in its wake will become ancient history.

Repeal and Replace BMI (Body Mass Index)!
My first act, when appointed to this position will be to declare war on BMI! In fact our campaign slogan will be "REPEAL AND REPLACE BMI! MAKE AMERICA STRONG AGAIN!"

BMI is an Obstacle
Why make BMI the first target? Because BMI tells you almost nothing about changes in obesity levels. And despite being designated the measurement tool of choice by the CDC (among others) BMI represents a huge obstacle to making progress on obesity. It undermines progress by confusing the conversation. Realistically, the inability to measure change accurate (not to mention the inability to motivate anyone other than grant applicants) undermines all attempts to make progress. So let's start by REPEALING BMI!

Physically Pull Their Own Weight
So what replaces BMI? Pull Ups. More specifically I suggest we replace BMI with leg-assisted pull ups which use suspension training straps in order to give all participants a place to start successfully and a way to progress regularly (immediate success and regular progress are key components to this naturally self-motivating process) until they run out of leg assistance and they've developed the ability to physically pull their own weight. You see kids (people) who can do even one pull up are ALMOST NEVER OBESE! This process is simple. It yields accurate feedback. It motivates. And it takes 6 weeks to 6 months depending on the individual child.

Kids Arm Themselves Against Obesity for Life
Once pull ups are mastered, it's a matter of maintaining the ability (which requires decent eating / exercise habits and 30 seconds per week practice) and participants will have successfully armed themselves against obesity for life.

It Saves $ 300 Billion Annually!
Furthermore, according to the Society of Actuaries obesity costs America in excess of $ 300 BILLION ANNUALLY. So the cost savings of implementing this strategy all by itself is monstrous. But the residual effects go well beyond dollars and cents.

A School Superintendent's Trifecta!
In school obesity has been shown to undermine self-esteem, which in turn undermines school attendance (upon which schools are funded), academic performance (upon which schools are judged), and social behaviors (60% of bullying is said to be rooted in obesity). In other words, beat childhood obesity and school attendance increases, academic performance improves, and behavior in the hallways gets better. It's a trifecta for any school superintendent who wants to make his school great again. Just imagine how all this carries over into the workplace.

American Society of Exercise Physiologists / $ 100,000,000
Finally, the Pull Your Own Weight Foundation has recently partnered with the American Society of Exercise Physiologists in order to apply for the MacArthur Foundation's 100 and Change grant ($ 100 Million dollars to one entity) with the goal of implementing this strategy in schools across America. We were among 1900 applicants and for several reasons we fell short of winning this grant. However with a little funding (way less than $ 100,000,000) we could not only start the ball rolling but we could live up to the projections made above. In the process we can help President-Elect Trump actually make America Great and Strong Again!

In the meantime, for all the reasons listed above and more, I hope Mr. Trump will seriously consider my application for the Executive Directorship of the President's Council on Fitness. I'll look forward to hearing back from him at his earliest convenience.

Source by Rick Osbourne

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The Power of Diplomacy US and EU Approaches — Madeline Albright

Former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright in discussion with Robin Niblett about diplomacy, and the approaches to it in the US and EU, at Chatham House …

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It's Time for America to Face Its Shadow Around Racism

Making Intolerance and the Intolerant Intolerable

Yes, I know … The subtitle of this article is a paradox. But since I am supposedly capable of holding multiple perspectives at the same time, I'm perfectly fine with it, especially for the purposes of this article

"The Shadow In America: Reclaiming the Soul of a Nation," was first published in 1994. Compiled by Jeremiah Abrams with a foreword by Thomas Moore, and with contributions by Abrams, Jacquelyn Small, Aaron Kipnis, Robert Bly, and others, it presented an optimistic view of the firm ground needed to strip away the darkness that hides our country darker soul: racism.

Twenty-plus years later, that optimistic view and the dream of unity has been stripped away and has been replaced by the original sin of "separation," the polar opposite views of American Exceptionalism, increasing intolerance against anyone deemed an "other," not like us, and fear of "those people." When did we become such cowards?

It's easy to blame the racist rants of leaders who loudly denigrate the "others," but if leaders weren't supported by a large number of people, they wouldn't be able to get away with it. A leader and a large number of people and their shadow / hatred / fear of the "other" – spurred on by the silence of those who may not agree but are afraid to speak up – encourage their hatred to feed upon one another.

Is America standing on the precipice of a new civil war, or are we witnessing the death throes of the hatred-based systems of white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis?

In 2014, America's Southern Poverty Center said the number of hate groups in the US was up from 602 in 2000, to more than 930 at the end of 2014.

Today the SPLC tracks more than 1600 extremist groups in the country.

And while a NBC Political Unit Poll on August 21st – taken a week after his first speech on Charlottesville – shows President Donald Trump's overall poll numbers are slipping again, what is particularly disturbing in the state-by-state polls is the percentage of Americans who approve of his job rating, ranging from 25 to 56 percent.

One cannot help but remember the words, spoken by Joseph Nye Welch to Senator Joe McCarthy in 1954 as we look today at a president who offer support to the abominable free speech rhetoric of those who were again inciting violence and urging extinction to Jews, including the President's Jewish son-in-law and daughter who became Jewish upon their marriage:

"Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

Trump was saying – not once, but twice – that both sides were to blame for the violence that led a white nationalist to plow his car into a crowd of counter-protesters killing Heather Heyer. The poll numbers are even more disturbing: While 55 percent of voters disapproved of Trump's response, an astonishing 34 percent of those voters approved of his response.

What can we extrapolate from the 34 percent approval rating of his statement?

It is not a stretch to assume that 34% – or one-third – of voters are, at some level, sympathetic to the white supremacist / neo-Nazi / white nationalist position. Could it be true, that in the 21st Century, one-third of voting adults in the US essentially support white supremacy?

Linguist George Lakoff places those who believe in white power and racial superiority at 35 percent of the country. In other words, the moral universe where male-led white supremacy thrives is rooted in a sobering significant portion of the country.

According to an AlterNet article titled "The Spread of White Nationalism Is Taking Our Nation into Uncharted and Dangerous Territory," it may take three or more decades for American demographics to change (when non-whites become a majority) to surmount this latest eruption of white supremacy. In the meantime, with one-third of our country eager to enter those unchartered and dangerous waters, with permission from the President of the United States, no less, we are witnessing an unraveling, and it's only beginning.

A deeper look into these demographics of racism and authoritarianism reveal how a global rise in authoritarian leadership is all too eager to promote fear of "the other" to their racist bases. Authoritarian leaders, who may or may not be racist themselves, use their racist base to take more and more control.

I'm not naïve enough to think that it's possible to completely stamp out hatred and racial intolerance, any more than it's possible to stamp out authoritarianism, but if the majority of us want to live in a better world, then we have no choice but to make intolerance intolerable, and we need to start now … and that includes taking responsibility for the indigenous genocide over the founding of this country.

… and the only way to do that is to start winning elections.

(Now, about that paradox … just one more variation of yelling "fire!" In a crowded theater: You can think it, but you can't say it, a conservative's nightmare.)

Source by Gary Stamper

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Doing Business in Latin America – Choosing the Right Latin American Representative

One of the most crucial decisions your company will make as you attempt to build a business relationship with Latin American partners is your choice of the right person to represent you abroad. After an initial contact by senior management, your company will want to select an individual to act as 'point person' to travel abroad and represent your company. Here we have some suggestions to guide that choice and to avoid making mistakes based on misguided expectations.

Misconception # 1: The representative should have a Hispanic name and background.

Reality: A Hispanic name will not garner any favor. Latin Americans are a diverse population, originating from many parts of the world. You will find Hispanics with ethnically diverse backgrounds and names – first and last – that reflect this diversity. So you should not anticipate discrimination or favoritism based on origin. In fact, if you send someone with a Hispanic name to Latin America, you run the risk that your hosts will expect this person to be bilingual – and they may not be!

Now, let's assume that your representative is a bilingual Hispanic. Is his family from the country where you are sending him? If not, the representative may carry preconceptions about the host country, eliminating any cultural advantage. If so, great! Unless the representative bears cultural prejudices that negatively effect potential relationships because of his preconceived notions or attitudes.

Misconception # 2: The representative should be bilingual – or the other extreme – the representative will be able to perform 100% in English.

Reality: Neither of these assumptions is necessarily true. If you send a bilingual Hispanic employee to negotiate with a Latin American company, be sure that she is literate in Spanish. Many US residents who grow up in Spanish-speaking hotels never study the language formally and do not know how to spell, do not know how to write correctly, and they are incapable of distinguishing between formal language and slang. This would make a very poor impression. The injection of "Spanglish" is another obstacle. Contracts and price quotes are highly sensitive – what if your representative commits to unfavorable contractual terms due to a misinterpretation in language? What if there is an accounting error because she lacks knowledge of the differences in numbering systems or measurements? Verify that she is capable in the language. Or conduct all sensitive business dealings in English with the aid of a competent interpreter, which is the common practice anyway.

Spanish (or Portuguese, in Brazil) language skills are not necessary for your representative to have. English is still the language of business and some of your Latin American contacts will be functional in English. However, your representative should develop conversational skills anyway. Attempting to practice even the most rudimentary speaking skills will communicate to your hosts that you value their culture and their friendship. To learn some conversational skills there are many options available: language software, tutoring, college and continuing education classes. The most effective method is to learn some basics at home then schedule some time at a private language institute abroad. These programs are inexpensive and focus on conversation. Some are flexible enough to provide training on a week-to-week basis. Try a school located in the area where your representative will be networking and the school personnel will facilitate a cultural orientation and may even help the representative make connections and resolve issues. To identify a good language school, ask for recommendations or look online and then verify the quality of the school through credible testimonials of former students.

Misconception # 3: The representative must be highly skilled, knowledgeable and competent in your area of ​​business.

Reality: You may be surprised to find that initially, your representative will not be given much opportunity to illustrate his business acumen nor to promote your company when making contacts abroad. First, the Latin American hosts must feel comfortable with your representative and learn to trust this person. More important than degrees, position and mastery of the sales pitch, a good representative must do everything he can to get to know his hosts and slowly build a relationship of trust. The best representative will be a good "people person." What are the characteristics you should seek?

Characteristics of a Good Representative

In the US business culture, ambition trumps cooperation. With all the rhetoric we hear about "team building" and collaborative strategies among peers, self interest and aggrandizement instead are rewarded in the business world. Just watch an episode of Donald Trump's The Apprentice to discover that fighting to defend your own position while throwing the competitor 'under the bus' makes you a winner. But this "winning" attitude would only alienate your Latin American prospects. Not only should your ideal representative exhibit cooperation over ambition, but he or she must also be flexible, very patient, and most of all, good with people.

Flexibility – The ideal representative should be the type of person who enjoys new experiences, who is a bit adventurous, and who is adaptable to unfamiliar surroundings. She must be willing to accept the foreign culture and learn to adapt to different ways of achieving results. She must be available to travel on successive trips to visit your potential Latin American partners for however long it takes to seal a contract, and beyond. She will act as the point person during the entire process from courting phase, to closing the contract, and then later to offer consistent customer service long after initiating the business relationship. At such time your representative can no longer function in this capacity, she must be willing to introduce her successor to the Latin American partners and work with the replacement until the partners accept him or her as honest and trustworthy.

Patience is a Virtue – North Americans are always in a hurry. We depend on high-speed computing, 'just-in-time' training, multi-tasking, automated payments, convenience stores and fast food. We lead stressful lives full of deadlines. In Latin America, the pace of life is considerably slower. The representative traveling there will need to devote a long time to developing relationships and these relationships are expected to be long-term. Your representative must be personable and genuinely friendly with each member of the Latin American team. He may not be able to predict which team members will be instrumental to his success. This person must be willing and able to put in the time, effort and interest to network and to make return trips before becoming accepted. He must also be willing to handle small favors. He should be prepared to accept special requests throughout this relationship. As he enters friendships with your Latin American prospects, they will likely ask him to provide information, make contacts, or facilitate the purchase and / or delivery of US products they cannot access at home. He should embrace the role of "go-to" guy. They will reciprocate. These favors will be remembered and appreciated. He will have earned their trust.

A 'Renaissance' Man or Woman In Latin America, intellectualism is an admirable quality. Your representative will be spending a lot of time with the Latin American team members. Much of the conversation will not be business-focused. Instead, your representative will be engaged with the hosts in social situations. Latin Americans appreciate intellectual dialogue on a broad range of topics. Your best liaison will be prepared to discuss everything from global to local affairs, historical contexts, current trends, sports, the arts, and much more. It's fine to ask questions of the hosts about politics, religion, gender and all the taboo subjects, as long as the representative does not risk off his hosts by expressing personal opinions. Your representative doesn't really have to have a deep understanding of a wide range of topics, as long as he can sustain interest in the free exchange of ideas.

Entertainment – Preferences for leisure activities enjoyed by Anglo and Latin American cultures gravitate toward a dichotomy between the private and public spheres. Many of us in the US choose to entertain ourselves with solitary pursuits such as watching television; playing videogames; and enjoying electronic entertainment (consider the popularity of computer solitaire!). We host private parties in our homes, by invitation. We work out with home gyms and bow-flex machines. We shop online. We care about convenience. In Latin America, it's more about relationships. Leisure is about spending time with other people, often outdoors, at public festivals, at the local (Internet) cafe, at clubs, exercising with companions at gyms or in sports clubs or shopping at open-air markets. Your representative should be outgoing, a great conversationalist, eager and knowledgeable to speak on a wide variety of topics, and willing to socialize.

While visiting the target location, your representative should find a pretense to spend time with her contacts. She may ask to attend the soccer match starring a Latin American team member's son; ask to join the wife's gym or morning walking club; schedule tango or samba lessons and go clubbing with her new circle of friends. She may invent a personal project requiring the assistance of her new contacts such as shopping for a special gift from the country for her spouse, children or parents. It will make her visit memorable to them. The idea behind such favors is to engage the hosts, provide an opportunity for interpersonal contact and forge bonds of friendship.

Help Prepare Your Representative – At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that choosing the right representative for your company was critical. If your potential partners do not trust your representative, it is unlikely that they will want to do business with you. They need to know that they can rely on someone – a specific individual or team whom they trust to understand their needs – to be responsive and to resolve their problems from the other side of the globe. Invest adequate resources in this crucial phase. Remember that this individual can either 'make or break' your relations with your prospective partners and will also act as the barrier protecting your company standing with your Latin American partners against competitors with more favorable offers of business. First identify the perfect person to represent you, and then provide him or her with the tools to learn about the targeted company, country and culture. Pay for language and culture training. Provide information. Allow them time to do some research. Here's a good start:

Thomas Becker's Doing Business in the New Latin America and Morrison and Conaway's Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: Latin America provide cultural tips for conducting business in the countries of Latin America.

Online US government sites provide information about industries, opportunities and travel, such as Export.gov; The CIA World Fact Book; the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs International Travel site; and the Directory of the American Chambers of Commerce Abroad.

Source by Lori Madden, Ph.D.

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