Oh how my emotions and thoughts are tangled within me

Everyday brings another turn in the road I didn't expect

I find even myself hard to understand and read let alone others

Nothing is simple

Enjoy the journey I tell myself

But I find myself frightened when I can't see 2ft. in front of me

I know a lot ABOUT you

But I want to KNOW you

I want to simply dwell in your presence

Pursue me, capture me, save me

Take hold of my wandering heart

It longs for freedom

...but I'm lost.


The Sold Project

I have some phenomenal friends doing some radical things. I would like to every so often tell you about some of these awesome projects.

Get SOLD here.

The SOLD project is a grassroots movement dedicated to exposing the truth behind child prostitution through multi-media and the collaborative response of individuals striving to make a change. Be sure to check out their website to learn more about them, what you can do both to become more informed and to join in the cause.


Legalizing Prostitution in Las Vegas

To continue our discussion from a previous post (a bit) about Legalization vs. Decriminalization I wanted to share this article with you. Especially since I often times focus on the sexual issues happening overseas and this issue is happening right here in the USA. In my previous article I argued for the decriminalization of prostitution - I still stand by this. This article, I hope, will help you understand that a bit more.

Legalising prostitution in Las Vegas

Nevada is the only state in the US that allows legal prostitution, but in its largest city, Las Vegas, prostitution is illegal. When the mayor suggested changing the law, it sparked a huge debate.

Mayor Oscar Goodman grabs the headlines whatever he says or does - and he relishes it. He is proud of Las Vegas' image as "Sin City" and happily calls it "an adult playground".

He boasts about his love of gin, cigars and pretty women and calls himself "the happiest mayor in the universe".

Before he became mayor, he was the top criminal lawyer to the Las Vegas mafia.

But when he suggested legalising prostitution and creating a red-light district and a string of "magnificent brothels" in downtown Vegas, the mayor got his most dramatic headlines yet.

He had opened up a debate on a taboo subject: Las Vegas' illegal prostitution.

Everybody knows it goes on, many businesses profit from it, but in-keeping with the city's slogan "What happens here, stays here", it is rarely discussed.

"It's disingenuous when people say they don't want to legalise it," says Mr Goodman. "Right now it's uncontrolled and unregulated. There's no check and balance as far as the women's health is concerned and legal brothels could be an important revenue-raising device for the city," says Mr Goodman.

"When you speak about it intellectually, not morally, it makes sense," he says. "If we had a referendum or ballot on legal brothels, it would probably pass."

Not without a fight, though. The vested interests in this city are legion.

Spectrum of workers

It is estimated that there are as many as 10,000 prostitutes operating illegally in Las Vegas, in an industry that may be worth as much as $6 billion a year.

Over 150 pages in the Las Vegas phone book advertise "escorts" and "massage", and leaflets promising to deliver "hot babes direct to your room in 20 minutes" are handed out to tourists openly on Las Vegas Boulevard, usually called "The Strip".

"Lucy" [name has been changed to protect her identity] is a top-end "companion" selling her time with men at $4000 a night. She explains how the sex trade functions in Las Vegas.

"There are women who get propositioned in the casinos, bars and hotels," she says.

"There are women who do 'extras' out of strip clubs and who 'give pleasure' in massage parlours. Women who do what we term 'outcall' - going to specific apartments to spend erotic time with gentlemen.

"There are women who work by print ads or on-line. And every casino host has a bevy of girls to call at a moment's notice to satisfy their high-rollers."

At the other end of the spectrum - in the seedier parts of downtown Las Vegas, among the cheap motels and ganglands - there are women who sell their bodies to pay for their drugs. They might charge as little as $20.

Robert Clymer, a former FBI agent in the city working in organised crime, says human trafficking adds to the industry.

"The number one problem, according to the FBI, is Asian prostitution," he says. "That means Asian organised crime and human trafficking into the US, straight into Las Vegas. And it's all fuelled by money."

Strange vacuum

With 600,000 people, Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada.

Its illegal sex trade operates in a strange vacuum because in most of the rest of the state prostitution has been legalised.

In fact, Nevada is the only state in the US to allow legal brothels, which stems from a 1970 state law allowing Nevada's individual counties to licence their brothels. But this only applies to counties with populations under 400,000, which excludes Las Vegas and Reno.

The question today is - is what is good for Nevada, good for Las Vegas?

There are nearly 30 state-sanctioned brothels in Nevada.

With names like "Mustang Ranch" and "Moonlite Bunny Ranch", their owners say they contribute to the local economies and provide safe, clean sex.

Brothels are so much part of the Nevada culture that Home Box Office (HBO) even films a reality TV show inside the Bunny Ranch called "Cathouse".

George Flint is the chief lobbyist of the Nevada Brothel Association.

"Legal brothels could work anywhere," he says. "They could be huge in Las Vegas. It would be great for the women and for our industry which is today fragile because it remains a teeny business in a big state."

'Sexual slavery'

But some religious groups, academics and campaigners say that all prostitution is wrong and legalising it does not stop sex trafficking or the abuse of women.

"I see it as sexual slavery," says Candice Trummell, director of the Nevada Coalition Against Sex Trafficking. "I think it's morally and ethically wrong for governments to say it's OK to sell humans in that way. The government should not pimp the girls."

When asked if she was calling the government a pimp, Ms Trummell answered: "Yes, absolutely".

Kate Hausbeck, a sociology professor at the University of Las Vegas, has spent nearly 10 years researching both the legal and illegal sex trade in Nevada.

She concludes that the best model for Nevada - and any country in the world - is the decriminalisation of prostitution.

"Empower the women who do the work. Give them labour protection and the rights given other workers. Because it's a job and a choice for many women," she says.

But, when asked about Mr Goodman's idea of legal brothels for Las Vegas, she says she doesn't think prostitution will ever be legal here.

"There's too much money to be made from the illegal sex trade. The casinos and convention industry fear it would be a step too far," she says.


The Google Police

I came across a really interesting news story today - I thought I would share it with you all. Good for Google. I am glad that something so brilliant can be put to good use. I hope that as this program continues to develop it can really help both in tracking child sex-predators as well as providing us with useful data about those putting this information out on the internet and how to go about better protecting it.

Google tackles child pornography

By Maggie Shiels
BBC News, San Francisco

File photo of a Google search page
The technology is a by-product of anti-piracy software

Google engineers have adapted a software programme to help track child sex predators and search for patterns in images of abuse on the web.

Google created the technology for the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

It was originally developed to block copyrighted videos on the company's YouTube division.

The programme uses pattern recognition to enable analysts to sort and identify files containing child sex abuse.

Google says its aim in teaming up with the centre's Technology Coalition Against Child Pornography is to develop solutions that would make it harder for people to use the web to exploit children or traffic in child pornography.

"You always hope that your work will eventually be used to do some good in the world, and this was an amazing chance to make that hope real," said Google research scientist Shumeet Baluja.

Overwhelming task

Mr Baluja, who was also the technical leader of the project, said that as more and more predators use the web to ensnare children, "analysts were getting overwhelmed by all of the data they had to sift through".

Since 2002 the NCMEC has pored over 13 million child sex abuse images and videos in an effort to help police identify and rescue children from harm.

In the last year they have looked at five million pictures.

Google says the new tools will enable the centre's analysts to search their systems more quickly and easily as they try to sort and identify files that contain images of child sex abuse victims.

"The programme uses pattern recognition and will work even if the pattern has been modified," explained technology analyst Larry Magid.

"So if police can identify a pattern such as a calendar on the wall or a t-shirt logo, they have a much better chance of finding the exploited child and catching the suspect."

Hi-tech solutions

The technology is an outgrowth of the anti-piracy software Google developed to helps its YouTube division ferret out videos of suspected of being posted without the agreement of copyright holders.

"Criminals are using cutting edge technology to commit their crimes of child sexual exploitation, and in fighting to solve those crimes and keep children safe, we must do the same," said NCMEC President and CEO Ernie Allen.

Google engineers and scientists were able to work on the project on what the company calls "20% time", which allows all employees to dedicate that amount of time to projects they initiate.

Some of those projects benefit stockholders or end users, but in this case the benefit could be to thousands of children.


Changing Times for Nepal

The government of Nepal is in a very transitional time at the moment. As I keep my eyes on the news and the changing events I can't help but watch in awe as I see how much this country has changed in the past 7 years since I started traveling there: and how much they will continue to change with the current elections and new form of government. I am rather shocked with the way the polls are leaning at the moment - the next few days will tell a lot...

Nepal's Maoists lead poll count

Maoist supporters celebrating in Kathmandu (12.04.08)
Maoist supporters with their faces painted red celebrated

Nepal's Maoist party has taken the lead in results declared so far, after Thursday's elections.

The Maoists have won 14 out of 24 seats declared, and their leader has taken a seat in the capital, Kathmandu.

The party is also ahead in many other seats, for which partial results are coming through as the count proceeds.

The polls, for an assembly to re-write the constitution, are the first to test the Maoists at the ballot box after their 10-year guerrilla campaign.

The BBC's Charles Haviland says Maoist supporters in Kathmandu have started victory processions in some of the main streets, with red vermillion powder smeared on their faces and red hammer-and-sickle flags in their hands.

'Peace mandate'

Although it is too soon to say the Maoists have won the election, there is a sense that the former guerrillas are doing better than most observers had expected, our correspondent says.

Nepal's two traditionally largest parties have gained only four seats each.

The Maoists' leader, Prachanda, called a press conference, where he called the results a "victory" and said he saw them as the people's mandate to consolidate peace.

"All eyes are upon us," he said.

The new constitution is expected to lead to the abolition of Nepal's monarchy, and the partial counts suggest small royalist parties have done badly in the polls.

One of the Maoist leaders who won in the capital, Pampha Bhusal, has said she will work hard to ensure the inclusion of women in all organs of the state, something our correspondent says would be a novelty in the Himalayan country.

Election posters on Kathmandu street
The elections were Nepal's first since 1999
Former US President Jimmy Carter, who is an election observer, has said Washington must deal with the Maoists.

He told the BBC: "It's been somewhat embarrassing to me and frustrating to see the United States refuse among all the other nations in the world, including the United Nations, to deal with the Maoists, when they did make major steps away from combat and away from subversion into an attempt at least to play an equal role in a political society."

Election deaths

Mr Carter also talked about the significance of the elections:

"It's the end, I hope, of armed conflict, of revolutionary war in fact", he said.

Nepal held its first polls since 1999 following the Maoists' decision to quit their armed struggle in 2006.

Former Maoist soldiers cast their votes at a polling station
Voting passed off relatively peacefully

Results for all the 240 constituencies are expected over the next 10 days. Officials say that polling has been postponed in 10 constituencies.

Many Nepalis and international observers have been surprised that Thursday's nationwide elections, just two years after the end of the Maoist insurgency, took place considerably more peacefully than past votes of the 1990s.

There were four election-related deaths in the troubled south-eastern region.

The Election Commission said there was a turnout of 60%, with polling cancelled due to malpractice in just 33 polling stations out of 21,000.

King Gyanendra seized absolute power in 2005 but was forced to give up his authoritarian rule the following year after weeks of pro-democracy protests.

He has since lost all his powers and his command of the army.


Hindu to Christian

I am editing a friend's Masters Thesis for him. He is from Nepal but has come to the states for a couple of years to work on his ThM. The title is "An Analysis of the Idea of the Atonement in Hinduism in the Light of Christianity." It is actually quite fascinating. I came across this one section in his paper that I thought was especially probing...

"Does it really make much of a difference when a Nepali Hindu becomes a Christian? Both believe in doing good works, even in loving one’s neighbors; it’s just a question of motive. Hindus accumulate merit from their good deeds to counterbalance their bad deeds. Christians says that a life full of good deeds cannot outweigh even a single sin. We must first seek forgiveness from God relying on his mercy shown to us through his son, Jesus Christ. Then, once forgiven, he enables us to do good out of thankfulness and love for him who died for us."

To someone looking in from the outside - what's the difference? Why is the change necessary?


How Will You Spend Your Check?

Hi Friends,

I got an email from a good friend of mine and wanted to share it with you. He came up with a plan to change the world. [no, seriously, he really did] This idea could really make a difference in the lives of people who need it most. Read his email below and at least check out the link and see what you think. Feel free to engage in the conversation or shoot me an email at WanderingellimaC@gmail.com. And please...pass it on.


So, most of you know that you'll be getting a pretty large check from the government this spring for the purpose of "economic stimulus".

History and human nature shows that most of us will just spend this check on more "stuff" - which, of course, is why the government is sending us all a check in the first place.

But here's another idea. What if we all used our checks - or at least part of our checks - to
"stimulate" the lives of people who need "economic stimulus" a lot more than we do? What if we all decided to invest in something bigger than ourselves?

Here's an example. The United Nations estimates that we could provide the entire planet with safe, clean, accessible drinking water for about $100 billion. The proposed economic stimulus package is more than $168 billion. So - in theory - if everyone invested 2/3 of their check in sustainable water projects, no one on the planet would ever be thirsty or die of water-born diseases... which kill about 6,000 people a day.

So a few friends and I have been working on a web site and blog that explores this idea of investing your economic stimulus check - or at least part of your check - in something that REALLY makes a difference. We're raising questions like, "How will you spend your check?" and "What are you passionate about?"

Take a moment to check out the site, join the conversation, leave comments on the blog for others to read and think about, and start to explore how you will spend your check...

Thanks everyone. Pass it on...
Dave Scott