The Need to Network

We have previously written about the importance of building a network of contacts – whether you are looking to market a product, a service or to job hunt. Unless you are only looking to work just once a year, like the guys in this picture, then you will need to keep adding to and refreshing your network of contacts.

Writing in the Washington Post a few weeks ago, Laura Labovich wrote an article titled; “Uncover the Hidden Job Market by Networking“. Job seekers would do well to read the tips contained therein.

It is obvious to a company when a job seeker has not done their “homework”. The great majority of those who e-mail us looking for employment fail to explain what they are looking for, or more importantly, fail to show us why we should be interested in them.

There is no excuse these days to guess what makes a particular company “tick”. Company information to include a mission statement is readily available with minimal research. Ms. Labovich recommends telling friends and family about the company in which you are interested.

We would go further – research the company in groups such as “LinkedIn” and then try to make contact with people within the company. By making yourself familiar with their operation, you will be in a better demonstrate your interest if and when an opportunity exists.

These days, it is more important than ever to “go the extra mile”. If you don’t, there are plenty out there who will. These “extra milers” are more commonly called; your competition.

Saudi Arabia’s top top religious leaders denounce terrorism

In a very interesting OpEd article in last Sunday’s “Washington Post”, David Ignatius reports that Saudi religious leaders have issued a powerful, but mostly unreported Fatwa denouncing terrorism.

The religious body issuing the Fatwa is called the Council of Senior Ulema. The Fatwa is described as being a tough condemnation of terrorism and the financing of terror – an act which some wealthy Saudis have been guilty of heretofore.

The fatwa describes criminal acts which are viewed as terroristic in nature; “blowing up of dwellings, schools, hospitals, factories, bridges, airplanes (including hijacking), oil and pipelines”. Interestingly, it doesn’t mention geographcal areas.

The Council stated that it viewed the financing of terrorism as “a form of complicity to those acts”. In an interview back in May, the Secretary General of the Council said; “the financier of terrorism is more often than not, more dangerous than the actual terrorist, since without funds, schemes fail and things do not take place”.

How is the May Fatwa being received by the West? It is said that to have impressed senior U.S. military commanders and intelligence officers, who were surpised when it came out.

Whilst it is not before time, this denunciation of terrorism by senior Arab clerics is said to have already had some impact. Extremists are rectingly negatively and see the fatwa as a threat to them and their operations.

Crimes against elderly people expected to increase nationwide

The Washington Post reported today on a case involving a Maryland man who plead guilty yesterday to swindling an elderly woman out of her life’s savings.

James Brian Gendimenico faces a possible 15 years in jail when he is sentenced on August 9. It is unknown exactly how much he stole from the elderely couple, but prosecutors say it was at least $180,000. By the time her husband died, the victim could no longer afford to bury him.

Montgomery District Court Judge Gary Crawford said; “I’m seeing too many of these crimes”. When Gendimenico was asked his occupation, he replied; “Take care of elderly people”. Unfortunately, elderly abuse crime is expected to increase Nationwide.

Protecting yourself from dishonest waiters

The Washington Post yesterday carried the story of customer’s credit cards getting “skimmed” at The Cheesecake Factory on Wisconsin Ave.

Unfortunately, credit card skimming is fairly prevalent. For those who are not sure how “skimming” works, a dishonest waiter/waitress makes a copy of the credit card as they take it from your table to where the card is charged.

They use a small hand-held device to make the copy. The real card is slid through and the information is captured and able to be downloaded after the shift end. Sometime they even use wirelesss devices that can be transmitted to an accomplice at a nearby table and the information immediately leaves the establishment.

The danger can occur when the credit card leaves your sight and unfortunately, nearly every transaction involves the card leaving the table to be charged. What then can you do?

The easiest solution is to simply pay by cash. Another option is to accompany the waiter to the point of charge. If they try to talk you out of it – speak to a manager. I would imagine that no manager at the Cheesecake Factory would object, with all of the negative press they are receiving. Until restuarants adopt a system whereby they can charge at your table – don’t let the card out of your sight.

It is a good idea to always check your monthly statements carefully. The Cheesecake Factory criminals ran up more than $117,000 in charges from the credit cards they stole from the restaurant’s customers.

Remember, dishonest people are everywhere to be found. Other area restaurants have had dishonest employees involved in this illegal activity in the past. Be vigilant with your identity and charge cards.

ATF not hopeful of finding out where the Pentagon shooter bought the weapons

WTOP radio today informed listeners that the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency were not hopeful of discovering where Patrick Bedell bought the weapons he used to shoot Police Officers near the Pentagon on Thursday evening.

Despite being a very disturbed individual, Bedell managed to walk up to Police without them becoming alarmed. One of the officers later said that he appeared as if he was approaching them to ask a question.

Fortunately, they were able to act quick enough, despite getting shot, to stop the crazed gunman. Ironically, this incident closely resembled a number of scenarios which SEXTON trainers engaged in with several dozen E.P. agents in Puerto Rico last week.

Students had to react to a number of real-life scenarios, such as a person walking up to them and perhaps pulling a weapon on them. Just as in the shooting on Thursday evening, some of them were able to respond in time, but those who did not, were shot by the bad guy and learned how fast an incident can turn tragic.

This is why we teach students to always be aware of their surroundings and expect the unexpected. When you are on duty protecting a Prinicpal, there can be no time for “zoning out” or daydreaming. You must be ready to react in an instant.

Detective pulls gun at snowball fight on the streets of D.C.

So it’s not World news…it is still causing a lot of commment in the D.C. area as evidenced by the article in the Washington City Paper.

I watched the various videos and read the witness reports on places like the Huffington Post and Washington Post and I have to say, it really does appear that the Police Detective jumped out of his vehicle to try and catch or lecture whomever threw snowballs at his Hummer.

I have heard that there was a report of someone having seen a male with a gun during the snowfight – prior to the detective’s arrival. If that was the case and if the detective did respond to that, then that would make a difference in how he handled himself.

Speaking as a former Police Officer, Police Detective AND snowball thrower, the detective in question did not appear to be responding to such a call. Not once did he mention it or question witnesses to determine if anyone had seen a male (other than himself) with a gun.

It does appear however, that he lost his cool, jumped out of his vehicle and pulled his weapon. He will have to answer why he found it necessary to pull his gun at that point in time. It didn’t appear neccessary or the right call to me…but then again, I have the benefit of Monday morning quaterbacking this from my keyboard.

From a personal safety point of view, his actions were poorly orchestrated. At no point in time did he appear to be anything other than a male with a gun. He was dressed in plain clothes, drove a Hummer (which looked nothing like a typical unmarked Police car)and did not identify himself as a Police Officer when he drew his weapon.

The uniformed officer onscene who attempted to calm the crowd acted very professional and seemed to keep the situation from escalating. This goes to show the need to keep one’s cool during a dangerous or volatile situation and the importance of proper communication.

It’s very difficult to watch your back once “tunnel vision” syndrome has set in and your heart is racing. This applies the same to Executive Protection agents as it does for the Police Officer on the street.

Virginia Man Convicted of Selling Counterfeit Software on E-Bay.

Criminals come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t always sneak around in the shadows wearing balaclavas or stocking masks. Sometime they are found sitting in front of their computer as their Mercedes, BMWs and Hummers sit in their driveway.

Just ask Falls Church man;Gregory William Fair. Mr. Fair recently received a 41 month jail sentence and had the afore mentioned vehicles seized along with $144,000 in cash from his home.

The highlighted story in the PC World article by Grant Gross is another example of how criminals use sites like E-Bay to off-load their illegal merchandise. Criminals like Fair either expect to get way with it or are willing to gamble that the authorities will not catch up with them.

Wrong answer Mr. Fair. I do hope that you took good care of that Hummer, though. I will be checking out the seized auction notices in the Washington Post as we just might be interested in adding a cheap H2 to our company vehicles.

Are the Taliban Insurgents Winning the War in Afghanistan?

The US and NATO Commander, General McChrystal seems to think so. At least, they will win if he does not receive more troops. In this Washington Post article written by Bod Woodward on 9/21/09, The General lays out reasons for his thought provoking claim.

It is difficult to believe that this is the same Taliban who back in 2001 and 2002 were described as being poorly equipped and poorly trained – who appeared to have no chance whatsoever against the Coalition Forces.

Did the Coalition Forces make the mistake of dimissing the Taliban as a ragged, rabbel-rousing mob, incapable of inflicting serious damage on the more sophisticated Western Armies?

We should use history as our teacher (“those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”)and bear in mind that the Afghan fighting men have a long history of overcoming the odds and defeating the might of much bigger forces. One has only to look at how they kicked England’s arse on more than one occassion and the fact that they could not be defeated by the Soviets.

Washington does not appear to be overly concerned by General McChrystal’s warnings. It is not like the General is beating around the bush when he says; “without more forces within the next year, the eight year conflict will likely result in failure”. Even a double-talking Washington suit should be able to pick up on that statement. Private Investigators call that; “a clue”.

The General also criticizes Afhganistan’s very corrupt Government. He claims that the citizenry have little reason to support their Government. This coupled with the view that US/NATO resolve is uncertain, makes them unwilling to allign with us against the insurgents.

Far from viewing the Taliban as a bunch of rabble-rousers, General McChrystal refers to them as being a “muscular and sophisticated enemy”. He paints a very scary picture of petty offenders and ordinary criminals being housed with insurgents in jails across Afghanistan and subsequently being recruited by those detained insurgents.

The General warns that the Afghan prison system has become a “sanctuary and base to conduct lethal operations”. He goes on to state; “the enemy now operate with relative impunity in the prisons”. With all of the effort to eradicate insurgency ove the past 8 years, the General claims that “there are more insurgents per square foot in corrections facilities than anywhere else in Afghanistan”.

Seems like we should be focusing on the penal system more closely and building maximum security prisons where the hardcore extremists can posion each others’ minds instead of infecting those who may be merely “passing through”.

Seems like we should also be “bailing out” General McChrystal and giving him the means to defeat the enemy. Or do we just want to withdraw with our tail between our legs like the English and Russians did before us?

Another Dirty Louisiana Politician faces Jail

Most honest people keep pizzas, steak and ice cream in their freezers. Freezers have other uses though for dirty politicians in Louisiana who stuff cash – loads of cash into their freezer.

This gives a new meaning to the phrase; “cold cash”.

The Washington Post reports in yesterday’s edition that disgraced former Congressman William J. Jefferson was found guilty by a Federal Jury of using his Congressional office as a criminal enterprise.

I feel sorry for the young people who must be confused to learn of this dispicable behavior and for those voters who feel that their votes really do make a difference.

Jefferson faces up to 150 years and I hope he gets every one of those years. Like his parasitic colleague Bernie Madoff, Jefferson deserves to be stuck behind bars and isolated from the decent people in society.

Fines for Reading while Driving

It sounds so ridiculous, it is a wonder that a new law had to be enacted to combat it. What are we talking about? The answer is; “texting” while driving”.

The new law aimed at stopping people from texting while driving came into effect in Virginia on the 1st of July. The goal is to have it outlawed in all Metro area jurisdictions.

Washington Staff writers Anita Kumar and Lisa Rein list the fines associated with breaches of the new law. A first offense carries a $20.00 fine and all subsequent fines are $50.00. In neighboring Maryland the fine is $500.00.

As a security consultant, it disturbs me that people would be willing to risk their life and the lives of others by reading and writing messages while driving. As a realist, I fear that if they are so careless, a twenty or fifty dollar fine will not prove to be a very effective deterrent.

A $500.00 fine on the other hand, like what Maryland imposes, should be a much better attention grabber. For those who want to complain about having freedoms or rights taken away from you – save your breath.

Yes I agree, you do have the right to behave like an idiot if you so wish. You do not have the right however to endanger my life and the lives of my loved ones because you think it is alright to read and drive. I was thinking of comparing it to reading a magazine while driving.

It is far worse, however. While a magazine article can be interesting, it is hardly likely to divert your attention like an immediate message from someone you know. Neither would there be a need to answer back a magazine.

By all means, text ’til the cows come home. Just don’t do it behind the wheel of a moving car.