Thursday, March 15, 2012

Remembering: The Ides of March

On March 15, 44 BC Julius Caesar is murdered by the Roman Senate. As many as sixty of the nobles, including Marcus Brutus, Caesar's protege, took part in plotting the murder, but he was only stabbed twenty-three times. Though only one was likely fatal.

The Senate and nobles had grown tired of Caesar's control, not to mention jealous of his popularity with the people. Since returning from recent wars he had been giving himself more and more powers, yet at the same time giving more freedom to the masses.

Lines from Shakespeare's play about the events, have actually become more famous than the reality of what occurred. "Et tu Brute" has survived as a common phrase to this day. Historians recorded three different responses from Caesar, which has caused controversy over which is the one of reality. Most likely, Caesar actually said, "Kai tu, seknon", which would translate as "You too, child."

It is also rumored that he was warned by various people, including a soothsayer, to beware the Ides of March, or March 15. Whether he ignored the warnings in disbelief or thought his was death was necessary for Rome, we'll never know. But with Caesar either was possible.

Faith Assists in Tornado Ravaged Home

On March 2nd, two tornadoes touched down in Henryville and Maryville, Indiana, respectively. We often hear stories of items belonging to victims of the storm being found a few miles away, but this one is a little bit different.

Rob Geiger, after listening to his local Meteorologist Tim Hedrick talk about a letter from tornado ravaged Henryville which traveled an hour away to Loveland, decided he'd take a walk in which he noticed things "falling from the sky".

Walking by a creek behind his house, he found an insurance card belonging to a Steven Shaw of Henryville, Indiana. Steven and his family's home was destroyed by the EF-4 tornado. Immediately, Rob decided to go to Facebook to try and collect donations for what he described as "...a sign from God. These people need help".

Rob doesn't want to take away from local efforts to help, but with the backing of his church and his mothers retirement home, he knows he's answering a call from God to do his part to help Steve, his wife, and his two young children.

WKRC in Cincinnati:


First Preview of Civilization V: Gods and Kings

Back in February we let you know it had been announced that Civilization V would see an expansion, Gods and Kings. Since then, a few sites were able to get sneak peeks. Unfortunately, we weren't one of them, but we can tell you what they shared with us.

To add to the already known new civs and leaders: Netherlands (William I, Prince of Orange), the Celts (Boudicca), and the Mayans (Pacal the Great); Carthage (Dido) and the Byzantines have been confirmed.

Some units mentioned are the Pictish Warriors, which help produce faith for the Celts, as their unique unit. World War I era tanks, planes, machine gunners and artillery, have also been added so there will be another step in modernizing your armies.

Gamespy gave us a great description of how both the new espionage and religions work. And it sounds totally oooShiny! The way you can make your religion fit your playing style, or your situation in each game, sounds quite intriguing. Faith will now be a yield, just as food, culture, and production are. The more faith you generate, the fast you can grow your religion. Each type of civilization has unique ways to gain faith.

Once you have have faith, you build a Pantheon, which allows you to choose your first belief. After that your faith generates you a Great Prophet, who is capable of founding a religion. Once you have a religion you can combine two more beliefs to your system. The beliefs either effect you the founder, or give benefits to your followers. Once one religion has chosen a belief, that belief is no longer available to another.

Spies no longer being units at all, is interesting as well. Rigging elections, and causing coups are just part of what they're capable of. But you definitely do not want to let your spies get caught. Not only will they be executed, but you'll lose some major face and may find yourself at war over the incident.

Venturebeat's article mentions that the Dutch can produce tulips for trade, and that the city state of Tyre makes jewelry. This would seem to suggest that each civilization and city state has their own unique resource as well. A previously unmentioned change, that would add a whole lot to consider when conquering the world.

Another thing mentioned is that units are moving from a ten hit point system, to a hundred point system. Units will be a lot harder to kill, and combat will take longer. Battle lines could easily become much more of a stand still.

Alas, sadly, there still is no release date. Just sometime in late spring.

Diablo III Release Announced

Evil has returned. And it is time to return to Tristam to save Sanctuary.

The dark secrets of the fallen star must be discovered, or all will be lost when the demons invade.

Yes, Diablo III's release has been announced. On May 15, the game will go live. Digital copies are already available from Blizzard.

Blizzard, the creator of World of Warcraft, is currently working on two other games.  Mists of Pandaria, the latest expansion to WOW, and Heart of the Swarm an expansion to Starcraft II.

Human Trafficking; A New Approach to Awareness

Over the last few years there has been a growing effort to raise awareness of child trafficking, here in the states as well as over seas. The A21 Campaign, led by Christine Caine of Hillsong Church in Australia; educates, provides shelter for rescued children, and teams with law enforcement to help prosecute those who traffic.

Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately 31.6 billion USD each year. Specifically, trafficking for sexual exploitation generates 27.8 billion USD per year. There are 1.39 million victims of commercial sexual servitude worldwide. Tragically, only 1-2 percent of victims are rescued, and only 1 in 100,000 Europeans involved in trafficking are convicted.

While the A21 Campaign mainly focuses its resources in Europe (mostly Greece and the Ukraine), you might be surprised to know that there is sex trafficking into the U.S. Probably near you. In my hometown of Jacksonville, Fl., we've had several occurrences of sex trafficking, most of which are children.

From our local newspaper, The Florida Times Union:
Over the past several weeks, local and federal authorities have arrested six men in what they're calling a rare sex-trafficking operation in Jacksonville.

It started when a 15-year-old runaway wandered into the city's drug-ridden underbelly last spring. She met men who gave her crack cocaine in exchange for sex. Then they held her captive for nearly a month and sold her as a prostitute until she managed to break free and call her mother, who then called police.
Florida is one of the top three destinations for international traffickers, and over half of the 18,000 victims brought to the United States each year, half are children. So, what's the next step in the fight against human trafficking? Is there anything you can do?


Enter; Dan Benedict. Not only does he think he can make a difference, he's leading the front on fighting human trafficking in the city of Jacksonville, in the Dominican Republic, and wants to make a difference in every city of the U.S. as well as across the globe. Dan formed The Defender Foundation to do what no other civilian trafficking awareness group has done; rescue.

In an interview with Jacksonville.com:
"I think there is an awakening happening," said Dan Benedict, chairman of the Defender Foundation. "But there are still tons of people going to work and school who have no idea slaves are being trafficked down Interstate 95."
The Defender Foundation relies heavily on volunteers to help get the message out about what they do for those being trafficked. They work with local Russian churches, talk with hotel management and staff, and hand out flyer's at truck stops and local events. Mr. Benedict, in an interview with First Coast News:
"There are (sic) some major groups behind this, various 1%er biker gangs, Russian organized Crime..."

"We have traffic victims coming in (the U.S.) through various ports; in cargo containers, drugged for that journey, and then they're sold up the east coast."

"We could rescue every girl on the planet tonight, and tomorrow, the demand is so huge that hundreds of thousands will be taken."
They have traveled to Pennsylvania and the Dominican Republic, to date rescuing 15 girls in 10 separate operations. Although the main focus of the Defender Foundation is rescue, something no other civilian awareness program does, they do not consider themselves vigilantes. They do not enter the homes; and only rescue victims who voluntarily want to leave.

When asked what do they do if the victim suddenly changes her mind, Dan said,
"We're not kidnappers, we're going to have to let them off."
They have an all-women volunteer team to answer calls from victims, establishing a trustful relationship, determining their location, and to potentially set up an escape plan for the victim.

Erin Pruett, a phone volunteer with the Foundation:
"I am one of the first people that connects with them and tries to, you know, just make conversation and make them feel safe."

"You can't do everything for everyone, you can't rescue everyone, but you can do for one what you'd wish to do for everyone. That's kind of how I take it."
Once the support team establishes a relationship and the victim chooses to leave , the Shield Team, comprised of an Investigative, Medical, and Security team; sets up the rescue...
"There is a security team, and their goal is to be there (at the pre-determined pick up location) within 5 seconds, if there are any problems", Dan says. "We're not out there being cowboys (and) kicking down doors."
The Defender Foundation passes along all information to the proper authorities to make sure that the perpetrators are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

If you would like any additional information on The Defender Foundation, you can visit their website, or visit their Facbook page.