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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

Clinton-Sanders New York Debate: April 2016

Take a look at this, the last Democratic debate before the New York primary, maybe the last this election, and decide which candidate you think you should vote for.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spotting and Solving Ethical Dilemmas at Work

Dr. Terry Newell (l) and PEC chair Rob Dry at special presen-
tation for AFSA and PEC staff.
 Dr. Terry Newell, author and professor at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, conducted a class on 'Spotting and Solving Ethical Dilemmas at Work' for members of AFSA and attendees from the Department of State and other foreign affairs agencies at AFSA headquarters on Marcy 10, 2016.

Hosted by AFSA's Committee on the Foreign Service Profession and Ethics (PEC), the purpose of the class was to improve attendees' ability to identify ethical issues in the work place and find ways to effectively deal with them. Newell, who has conducted presentations on ethics for AFSA in the past, began by stressing that some of the most prevalent ethics issues faced in the work place have nothing to do with violations of law or regulation, but are the ethical components of technical and management issues, which often are cases of right vs. right, rather than right vs. wrong.
AFSA/PEC staff in meeting with Dr. Terry Newell

Newell used examples from other government agencies, such as the VA and NASA to illustrate the process of identifying and dealing with ethical issues, as well as the difficulty of getting it 'right.'

Dr. Terry Newell at afternoon presentation for members of
the foreign affairs community.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Getting a Proper Handle on the Islamic State

An article I recently did on 'Command Post,' the blog for RallyPoint, a social network for active duty, veterans, and supporters of our armed forces, on coming to grips with the Islamic State threat: 'Getting a handle on the Islamic State: To Know Your Enemy, You Must First Accurately Name Him.'

The U.S. Government was concerned about al-Qaeda before September 11, 2001. However, following that horrific event, that organization and its enigmatic leader was the focus of most of our efforts. We sent troops first into Afghanistan and subsequently the ill-fated foray into Iraq, and the main objective was to eliminate al-Qaeda.

Despite the killing of Osama bin Laden; al-Qaeda and its worldwide affiliates continue to be a security threat. However, in the past two years, they have been eclipsed by a force that unfortunately grew out of our operations in Iraq; the Islamic State. As it grew out of al-Qaeda’s franchise, the Islamic State originally was known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Meanwhile, Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi aligned his Jama-at al-Tawhidw’al-Jihad with al-Qaeda in response to the U.S. invasion in 2003. When Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike that same year, AQI was weakened and his successors rebranded the organization as al-Dawa al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham, or ISIS. The al-Sham in the title roughly corresponds to the Levant, which led some to call the organization the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. This rebranding reflected the broadening aims of the organization to create a new caliphate in the region, taking advantage of popular uprisings in Syria.  Read more . . .

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Check My Blogs over at Daily Kos

Daily Kos is a progressive site dedicated to progressive and liberal political blogging, a place where people who believe strongly in the freedom of expression can share their views with a broad audience. A few weeks ago, I was invited to submit my musings, and after considering it a few days, decided to do just that. You already know my political philosophy if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, so you won't be at all surprised at what you find in my diary over at Daily Kos. Go to here and check it out. Comment, and then come back here and tell everyone else what you think.

I go even farther afield at See my Tremr page at And finally, there's a site in the UK dedicated to helping creative types spread the word about their art. I have a page on Niume that's beginning to generate buzz on both sides of the Atlantic. Check it out.

Okay, that's enough blatant self-promotion for now. Enjoy what you see, and tell your friends about it.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

HR BlogVOCATE: Encounter with a Corporate Psychopath

HR BlogVOCATE: Encounter with a Corporate Psychopath: If a friend told you her boss was a “psychopath” you’d probably laugh. At one time or another, most of us have worked with the “boss ...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Put a leash on big oil and gas companies

Subject: Big bullies
Right now, some companies are trying to stop a rule that says if you're an oil and gas company and you make a deal, you have to publish what you pay. If they wins, that means billions of dollars could end up in the pockets of corrupt leaders, rather than life-saving programs to help pull the world's poorest people out of poverty. 

Will you join me and tell the Securities and Exchange Commission #noSecretDeals? Tell them the time is NOW to issue a strong rule that requires oil, mining, and gas companies to be transparent, so money does not fall into the hands of corrupt government officials in Africa.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Check Me Out on BookGarage

I'm currently featured on, along with my most recent Al Pennyback mystery, Dead Ringer. You can check out the entire interview here. . .

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

End of Year Message to Friends of The Cold War Museum

Dear Friend of The Cold War Museum:

Preserving the history of the Cold War to enable future generations to better understand this pivotal era in world history is both a personal and professional passion for me. As the year 2015 comes to a close, I’d like to bring you up to date on what we’re currently doing, and ask for your support as we continue the work of transforming The Cold War Museum into a center of excellence for display and preservation of Cold War artifacts and study of the Cold War.

The Museum is important to many people, people like a former U-2 pilot who was planning to make a presentation this past fall, and was disappointed when events beyond our control caused us to have to cancel. His commitment to The Museum, though, was unwavering; he agreed to come back another time. Now, that’s dedication.

We’re currently located at Vint Hill Farm Station next to the Vint Hill Craft Winery. Our goal for the coming year is to raise enough money to enable a move into a larger and more appropriate structure in Vint Hill. An interim project is finding a location to store those artifacts not on display. Much of our effort in the coming months will be devoted to that end. In that, we, as always, rely upon your support.

None of this will be possible without the continued support of people like you; people who want to see this important period of our history properly displayed. It is your membership, donations and passion that makes this possible. If you’re considering making a year-end donation, or a special holiday gift, we are a nonprofit501(c)(3) organization, and your gifts are normally fully tax deductible.

I encourage those who are not members to join.  If you’re already a member, thank you, and please please watch for our renewal mailing in January. In addition, please consider giving a gift of membership to someone important in your life.

For more information on membership, donations or about The Museum, visit our website, or contact our Executive Director Jason Hall at

We look forward to serving you in 2016 and beyond, and wish you and yours the happiest of holidays.

Charles A. Ray
Ambassador (retired)
Chairman of the Board
The Cold War Museum
P.O. Box 861526
Vint Hill, VA 20187

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Is Our Educational System Contributing to Our Lack of Economic Competitiveness?

I was recently talking to my daughter about her frustration with the nursery school in which she’d enrolled her oldest daughter, now four. Samantha is not only a precocious four-year-old, but mentally she’s as advanced as a second grader. She can write her full name, read most first grade books by herself, and do most of the sums first graders do. Like me, though, she doesn’t like crowds, and when she’s around large groups of children around her age who start to engage in rowdy play, she tends to stand on the fringe and watch them ruefully. Truth be told, she’s probably more comfortable with adults than most kids. Which is not to say that she does not associate with children her age; she does; just in small groups, and on her own terms.
The problem my daughter was facing was, despite Samantha’s obvious academic excellence and maturity the nursery school teacher decided she was ‘socializing’ effectively like the other kids. At first, this same teacher said Samantha lacked physical coordination, but I put paid to that with photos of her climbing a 12-foot climbing rock unaided, and walking a cargo ladder like a pro. She has all the physical coordination she needs; she’s just not into the wild behavior that apparently this teacher’s education guide tells her is appropriate for children that age.
After that conversation I got to thinking about the American education system, and how it has changed since I was in grade school back in the 1950s—and, not necessarily for the better. Studies have shown that despite increasing numbers of students graduating from high school, fewer are prepared to succeed in college or successfully enter the work force. In December, the Department of Education reported that U.S.  high school graduation rates hit a record high in 2013-2014, reaching 82%, the highest ever recorded. Despite this, a recent study of graduating 12th graders found that fewer than 40% were ready for college level work. Business leaders across the country fear that not enough students are prepared for higher-skilled jobs—something I noted to my dismay during my last ten years in the Foreign Service when I encountered college-educated individuals who were smart enough to pass the highly competitive Foreign Service Exam, but were unable to write effective reports or conduct briefings. Among the skills lacking are collaboration and communication, things that our schools, teaching to standardized tests, do not teach. All this adds up to a lack of American competitiveness in the world of academia and work.
Considering this, I’ve taken it a step further, and come up with a theory that will totally bum my granddaughter’s nursery school teacher out; our school system from nursery school to 12th grade is preparing our kids to fail at college and at work. I’m not faulting this poor teacher. She’s probably following the guidelines provided to her by the system, and doing what she was taught to do in school (and, I’m assuming here that she has at least a Bachelor’s degree in education). But, in following this standardized procedure, what she’s doing is creating a group of four and five-year-old drones who follow instructions, follow the crowd, and do little thinking for themselves. Those who try to think for themselves are ostracized as ‘unsocialized,’ and efforts are made to force them to conform. This follows them all the way through the system until they come out the other end with a high school diploma that has, unfortunately, prepared them to be an assembly line worker in a factory of the type that hardly exists in this country anymore.
News flash to all you educators out there: American industry is no longer the smokestack, assembly line variety. We’re a knowledge management, financial management society, and the lack of preparation provided by our education system means that many of our companies have to hire foreign talent to fill critical positions. My youngest son works for an IT firm in Herndon, Virginia, and he tells me that the majority of his fellow engineers are from India, China, and Russia American industry, according to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, American companies are change-resistant and conservative, and wedded to using extrinsic motivations to get workers to produce more, rather than using intrinsic motivation as a primary way, based on what behavioral scientists have learned since the mid-20th century. Educational institutions, despite being where this research was conducted, are as conservative and resistant to change as industry. We’re still using standards to educate (train) our kids that was only barely appropriate to prepare them to work on an assembly line where they did the same task for their entire career, but are entirely inadequate for an economy where innovation and self-motivation are the keys to success.

If the American education system is to contribute to productivity in the 21st century, it’s time to change. And, that change has to start at the bottom.