Yeonmi Park’s Harrowing Tale Draws North Korea’s Ire

Yeonmi Park’s story is heartbreaking in so many ways. The woman, who escaped with Yeonmi Park’s mother from North Korea as a young teenager, recounts her story in Reason’s article titled Yeonmi Park’s North Korean Defector Story, and her recollection of living in North Korea depicts a harsh life, with little food and no freedoms. Park says that, at time, her family had to eat grass and insects to keep from starving. Naturally, the North Korean government is attempting to discredit her story, but the government is so secretive that they will not release any proof that Park’s stories  on The Reason are exaggerated. What is especially dismaying is that North Korean news agencies are reporting that Park is a liar and a “puppet of human rights plotters”, pointing out several discrepancies in her account. It’s not surprising that a young girl, traumatized by sexual abuse and fearful for relatives back in North Korea, would hide or change some of her story. Park also explains that she was not very fluent in English when she first spoke about what happened to her in North Korea and in China. Today, Yeonmi is a 22 year old activist and author with an international book tour. She hasn’t forgotten her harrowing escape from North Korea and the perilous journey through China: Park is busy insisting the global community needs to help North Koreans realize that they have rights. She’s also urging China not to send refugees North Korean back home; Park claims that she and her mother would have committed suicide before going back to North Korea.

Ashley Madison Fallout Continues

After the big Ashley Madison client information revelation over the summer, a lot of people were quick to be embarrassed and outraged. A lot more people saw a vision of quick and illegal dollar signs dancing in their heads.

The scam was simple. Find the list of Ashley Madison account holders who have been “doxed” (had their personal information, or “docs” posted online) and then send them a threatening extorting email. It was a simple bluff. If someone the victim didn’t know contacted him via email accurately identifying him as an Ashley Madison client, the threat that the blackmailer made to identify him to his wife, friends and co-workers, either directly or through Facebook, seemed very real.

As with most low-effort high-reward scams that involve little more than barely differentiated mass emails that can be easily automated (think Nigerian Princes with complicated inheritances), this threat doesn’t have to be that credible. It’s pure profit once only one or two per hundred or thousand bite on the scam.

Luckily, for those receiving a digital shakedown, there are places to turn for help. One such place is one of the nation’s preeminent online reputation firms, Status Labs.

Status Labs president and co-founder Darius Fisher suggests a few simple steps to make yourself immune from any such scheme – infidelity or otherwise. Simply make sure your privacy settings on any social media accounts you have are set as high as you are comfortable with. And also make sure that your friends or connections list is kept private, or only available to mutual acquaintances. Anything to give the scammers less ammunition.

Status Labs encourages any clients who come to them to refrain from paying any of the extortionists a single bitcoin. These online transactions would only encourage further blackmail, and it’s unlikely the claim was anything more than a bluff.

The Austin, Texas based Status Labs not only advises potential blackmail victims, but helps firms reach intended audiences with public relations, assists in a brand’s marketing, and has done image consulting for an array of private clients such as high-profile CEOs, athletes, and politicians.

Darius Fisher’s Status Labs Company Strives to Protect Reputations

A recent article posted at Entrepreneur.com titled “Prepare to Protect Your Online Reputation Before It’s Under Attack” points out that everyone needs to be on alert to protect their personal reputation and the reputation of their company. When something bad does happen, no matter how minor or innocent, social medial gossipers or poor reviews can spread online quickly. There are certain basic steps everyone can take to protect their online reputation.

First, build a digital fortress of positive online content before a crisis occurs. Proactively tell your own story. Don’t wait for others to attack it before you begin defend yourself. You build this digital fortress by continually submitting positive content to blogs and websites.

Second, optimize your content. Post stories and articles that will establish your credibility as a thoughtful leader in your field. This optimization will also help to put your good credentials in front of breaking online news in times of crisis.

Third, be aware that you don’t have full control of your privacy. Like it or not, there are people out there who are continually searching about you or your business. Attempting to remain anonymous can work against you in some cases.

Fourth, focus on the management of your company. In the past year alone, the Lumentus SEO team discovered that online searches for executives by name were up by 50 percent. In short, managing the online reputations of a company’s key executives is as critical as managing the company’s online reputation.

Finally, the article on Entrepreneur.com advises everyone to think beyond your business. Post content that that contains positive material other than purely business. Advertise the community organizations and charities the company and executives are involved with. In summary, the article states that taking control of your digital reputation is not just good business, it’s a form of insurance for when that negative story inevitably happens.

Darius Fisher is the President of the online reputation management and public relations firms, Status Labs. The Vanderbilt University grad has made his company a leader in the business of handling online crises and fixing digital reputations, Their primary goal is to protect their clients in advance of having to repair any reputation damage after the fact.

With offices in Austin and branches in both New York and Sao Paulo, Brazil, Status Labs specializes in repairing their client’s digital presence on social media or through search engines like Google.

An Injustice Everywhere

Much of the country is currently choosing sides in the debate of whether or not the South Carolina State Building should dismantle the Confederate flag that they have flying over the Capitol dome. Sam Tabar knows that this debate hasn’t just stayed among social media message boards and Internet Airwaves. Presidential candidates are currently being questioned on their stance of the Confederate flag issue. Two GOP candidates running for the Presidency got a chance to voice their opinion on the matter. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum released statements on Sunday on their opinions of the Confederate flag debate. Instead of giving a cut-and-dry answer the two men made statements that would suggest that the state should decide and that it should not be a national issue. The men felt like they were being pulled into an issue that really had nothing to do with them. To say that the Confederate flag is a problem for South Carolina is oversimplifying the problem. Martin Luther King Jr. said that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. The country will not progress if we continue to mandate and allow discriminatory and insulting symbols to plague the lives of honest and hardworking American citizens. While it is up to South Carolina to vote on whether or not to remove the flag, it should not be mistaken that this problem isn’t a problem for the entire country. Honest hard-working citizens across the United States would want the same type of respect as those who are offended by the flag in South Carolina. Much of the country expects for South Carolina to vote on their decision in the next few weeks.

Bernie Sanders enters Presidential race

The canter of Hilary Clinton to victory took an unexpected turn with the news that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had finally thrown his hat into the Presidential race, Time reports. As Flavio Maluf is aware, Sanders is one of only two Independents in the Senate and announced he would enter the Presidential race as a Democrat after many weeks of rumors circulating Capitol Hill he would make a bid for the highest job in US politics. Sanders faces a difficult task as Clinton and her team are looking to raise around $1 billion to support her bid to become the first female President of the US and return to the White House after her time there as First Lady beside President Bill Clinton.

Sanders is focusing his run at the Presidency on a message of change and will look to the support of the general public instead of wealthy donors to aid his bid for the White House. Sanders has recently been an active speaker in various states where Democratic primaries will feature in the early stages of the race and has made an impression with grassroots Democrats. However, the self professed socialist faces a challenge to overcome his profile amongst many as a left leaning liberal who would challenge big business and the inequality he says has sprung up between the rich and poor of the US.

GOP Senator Calls on President Obama to Walk Away from Iran Talks

The key deadline of March 31 came and went without any deal struck with Iran, the world’s lone state sponsor of terrorism. At issue are the Iranian hardliners are demanding the right to continue to enrich uranium without the program being subjected to outside inspectors. Already, three or four of the foreign ministers taking part in the talks have walked away. However, US Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who served in Vietnam, continues to try and strike a deal. US persistence to cut a deal for the sake of getting any deal has lawmakers concerned the Obama administration will allow Iran to keep their nuclear program intact. This would give the rogue nation a pathway to obtain nuclear weapons.

On Wednesday, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton declared that it is time for US negotiators to walk away from the table. Iran is merely toying with the West in a bid to win major concessions. Sen. Cotton believes it is time to apply more sanctions to Iran to bring them back to the negotiating table in good faith. Oddly enough, former Vermont Senator Howard Dean concurs. Dean believes it is the right thing to seek a deal with Iran. That said, he acknowledges the futility is continuing negotiations at this time. He believes it’s time to apply more international pressure to the nation. Jaime Garcia Dias (pinterest.com) knows that President Obama faces a very skeptical bipartisan group of senators who do not trust he will negotiate in the best interests of national security.

No More Secrecy – A First For Hillary Clinton

In what many are hailing as a bold and progressive move to reaffirm the footing she once commanded in main stream media, Hillary Clinton has made a completely expected roundabout.

Folks at Anastasia Date are wondering: After all, how much worse did it have to get before some sort of political jockeying had to occur? In fact, in recent test polls, pollsters have found public faith in Mrs. Clinton at an all time low.

What started with outrage over the Benghazi scandal that ultimately lead to the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was violently killed by extremists, quietly boiled over the edge of the proverbial pot when it was discovered that during her tenure as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton opted to use her own private email address and server to conduct national security business.

But at this point, what difference does it make?

Those famous words Clinton used to address questions over the Benghazi attack are now a hallmark of a new public relations agenda.

Her point?

The reasons behind Benghazi, where U.S. personnel lost their lives are mute. It’s in the past. Done. Finished.

Just like the reasons behind why she used a private email server in perhaps one of the biggest national security violations in modern history.

Her tactics (and disdain for any wrong doing) were on full display at a recent awards ceremony for political journalism.

During a keynote speech Clinton said:

“I am all about new beginnings: a new grandchild… another new hairstyle… a new email account, she said. “No more secrecy. No more zone of privacy.”

“After all, what good did that do me.”

It will be interesting to see if the latest “let’s just forget the past” approach pays off for her.

Rand Paul Wants To Boycott Saudi Arabia

Paul Singled Out Saudi Arabia For Its Treatment Of Women

Rand Paul, the Republican Senator from Kentucky, wants to be president. He is in attack mode and he aiming his venomous accusations in several directions. Hillary Clinton is one of his targets, and Saudi Arabia is another.Someone forgot to tell Paul how influential that Kingdom is in Washington or maybe they told him and he didn’t listen. Paul has a habit of opening his mouth and spewing a load of who knows what on an audience before he listens.

The Clinton Foundation has taken money from Saudi Arabia in the past, and that’s not okay according to Paul. Saudi Arabia has an antiquated attitude toward women, yet they give Hillary money, and that is a double standard, according to Paul. Zeca Oliveira has learned that the Senator said Clinton can’t be a champion of women’s rights if she takes money from a country that doesn’t respect women.

Paul has ghosts in his political closet, but it’s easier to talk about Clinton than to defend his ignorance when it comes to equal pay and his non-support of the Violence Against Women’s Act. The country doesn’t need another politician like Paul in the White House. He is just another lost political leader that sits on his brains, and he expects others to conform to that practice.

Vladimir Putin Reappears After Long Absence

Russian President Vldamir Putin made his first public appearance in eleven days. The 62 year old leader was last seen in public on March 5th when he attended a meeting with President of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev. Last week, he suddenly canceled several appointments and appearances. Christian Broda knows that his sudden disappearance gave way to speculation and concern over his health.

Putin hasn’t commented on to why he went missing saying that “it would be boring without gossip”. Rumors about his disappearance mentioned anything from him having back issues, attending the birth of an illegitimate child, to being dead. President Atambayev says, however, that Putin appears to be in great health with a firm handshake. Putin’s publicist, Dmitri Peskov says the leader is in great health and denied any existence of a “love child”.

This is not the first time Putin has dropped out of the sight. There have been several occasions when Putin has disappeared after a significant event. In 2000, he promptly disappeared after a failed missile launch. He also disappeared after a siege of a theater in Moscow in 2002. Even before he was president, he had disappeared after a stressful or embarrassing event.

Cheerleader with Down Syndrome Bullied Until Basketball Players Step In

If there is one thing that the students of Lincoln Middle School in Kenosha, Wisconsin have shown is that they will not stand for bullying. Desiree Andrews is an eighth-grade cheerleader at the middle school and she also has Down syndrome.

A few days ago, Desiree was cheering for the school’s basketball team along with the rest of the Lady Knights’ Cheerleading Squad, when kids in the bleachers began making fun of her. A few basketball players from the team took notice of the bullying going on. The boys called a timeout in the game and stepped forward to those bullying her in the stands. The boys told them to knock off the bullying and to stop messing with her. Flavio Pentagna GUimaraes BMG knows that they had the support of the rest of the team behind them. The Athletic Director said that the group of kids he has been working with are some of the most supportive and kind students he has ever worked with before.

The school has renamed the gym “D’s House” in honor of Desiree. Desiree has said that the gestures from her fellow students are awesome, kind, sweet, and amazing.

I bet those students have some very proud parents right about now.

Check out Buzzfeed.com for the full story and a video on Desiree.