Slavers among us

 
Rachel Weisz portrays Kathy Bolkovac in The Whistleblower“Those girls are whores of war.” 
 
That brutal quote from the new movie The Whistleblower tells you precisely what human traffickers and their apologists think of the sex slaves they exploit. To them these women – and in many cases, young girls — are worthless, non-human, sluts, garbage.
 
But to Kathryn Bolkovac, they were innocents who were robbed of their lives, dignity, and voices by the very people who should have protected them.
 
Kathryn was a Nebraska policewoman when she went to Bosnia in 1999 as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force. The recently divorced mother took the job because the high salary would let her to move closer to her teenaged daughter. When she arrived in Sarajevo she had no idea she would eventually uncover a shocking sex trafficking scandal. What was even more disturbing and perverted was the alleged cover-up by her employer and high-ranking U.N. officials. She was fired after exposing the illicit and degrading connections.
 
The compelling movie The Whistleblower is based on her experiences and on her book,The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice.
 
Academy-Award winning actress, Rachel Weisz portrays Kathy Bolkovac in The Whistleblower. The gritty film — by first-time director Larysa Kondracki — contains raw and horrifying scenes of torture and rape, and a creepy scene showing Kathy’s discovery of a sex torture chamber. Yet, they pale to sequences that capture the greed and depravity of the American and European “peacekeepers” who trafficked and abused young girls like cattle, or took payoffs to ignore it.
 
The true faces of the movie are the two Ukrainian girls, who are tricked into the illicit trade, one of them by her own aunt. This kind of thing really happens. All they wanted were respectable jobs. All they found was a dead end.
 
Director Kondracki does an excellent job of building the suspense, as Kathy discovers the full extent of the corruption in her organization and realizes that her own life in danger.
 
The Whistleblower powerfully walks the line between suspense thriller and docu-drama; it is engrossing and informative. Rachel Weisz is captivating as the dogged police investigator, and the portrayal of war-ravaged Bosnia is grim and accurate.
 
 Kathy BolkovacKathryn Bolkovac didn’t set out to be crusader, but she didn’t turn away when she uncovered the dirty secrets that jeopardized defenseless young women.  She has paid a high price for her intervention, but says she would do it all again.
 
What is particularly appalling is that none of the men involved in torture, trafficking, and rape have been prosecuted. As U.N. peacekeepers, they enjoy diplomatic immunity. Many returned home, or perhaps are now employed doing similar work elsewhere.
 
In the movie, the company has a fictionalized name.
 
The Daily Beast reports that “at least two of the men involved in the trafficking at DynCorp (her former employer), have been promoted to upper management, while she (Kathryn) has been forced out of the policing field entirely.”
 
DynCorp insists the issues raised by Kathryn Bolkovac “were thoroughly investigated, and were aggressively and responsibly addressed.” It quotes an agent with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command saying “neither DynCorp nor its employees were involved” in human trafficking. “The Company did not find any evidence of human trafficking involving DI (DynCorp),” the statement says, “but did find areas where improvements could be made. As a result, a handful of individuals were terminated, the Company reviewed and strengthened its procedures and policies, and integrated into its companywide training and employment agreements specific information about human trafficking and policies to prevent it.”
 
This is clearly a very carefully constructed statement. I urge you to read it carefully.
 
Bolkovac eventually won her court case against her termination. But the victory was hollow. "The anger comes and goes," she told The Daily Beast in an article by Jessica Bennett. "Sure, I won my lawsuit, but I never got any real answers."
 
Sex trafficking concerns everyone. Sexual slavery reduces women and children to objects, robbing them of their humanity. It will only stop when demand for sex slaves is stopped. We need a zero tolerance policy for it, and we need to pursue slavers and their clients relentlessly.
 
Sex trafficking happens every day, everywhere in the world. We need to stop it.
 
To learn more about stopping trafficking:
 
20 ways to stop trafficking: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/id/help/index.htm
 
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Miami style

Yvette Gonzalez-NacerEveryone talks about Miami’s hot chic style. No one denies that the city gets a lot of its panache from the legendary Latinas who help to define it.  

Cuban beauty Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer is one of the newest stars to break onto the scene. She portrays “Kiki” in Nickelodeon’s new live-action musical series, “Fresh Beat Band.”
 
Yvette is more than a pretty face. She took her first violin lesson at age three, and then attended the University of Miami on an opera scholarship. She calls herself a “musical mutt.” We think she is multi-talented.
 
The stylish young star shared some of her favourite fashion and beauty tips with us in this exclusive DolceDolce interview.
 
DD: Why is style important?
YG: Everything we do or say is communicating something about ourselves. Style
and fashion are just ways of expressing yourself. To quote Gore Vidal, ‘Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.’
 
DD: How would you describe your own style?
YG: My style is a mix of girly bohemian and Audrey Hepburn classic.
 
DD: What are your favourite fashion must-haves?
YG: I love lots of bracelets, boots, and pretty dresses.
 
DD: Describe your fitness routine?
YG: When I was living in New York, I would walk all the time, and that was pretty much it. Now that I’m here in L.A., I find myself going to the gym and doing cardio, yoga. And I just started P90X! (Ed.’s note: P90X’s website says it is “a system of 12 sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping workouts” designed to give you a “ripped” body in three months.)
 
DD: What are your favourite beauty must-haves?
 YG: Moroccan Oil is amazing for your hair and I’m also a fan of Lancôme Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover.
 
DD: What is always in your hand-bag?
YG: Besides my phone, I always have Great Lash Mascara by Maybelline. Yes, the old school, green and pink one!
 
DD:  Please share three of your best fashion or beauty tips?
YG: My three best beauty tips are to stay out of the sun, have confidence, and wear whatever makes you feel good!
 
DD:  What is your next big project? 
 YG: I’m currently working on an album of original music, to be released at the beginning of next year!
 
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Fall into booties

 ManchonDolceDolce’s Amber Burns likes boots for their seasonal versatility! Here’s Amber: 

As the end of summer approaches, ankle booties are your next must-have shoe.  This versatile footwear is no longer reserved for the winter cold.  Cut-outs and peep toes are just some of the many options offered this season.

 
Christian Louboutin’ s new fall/winter line includes the Manchon, indigo blue booties that sure to demand attention. The ruching detail exposes more of the foot, elongating the leg.  A statement-colour shoe like this will wake up any winter ensemble.  Allow brightly-coloured booties to sparkle by balancing them with neutral opaque tights, such as black or grey. 
 
Nicholas KirkwoodNicholas Kirkwood has designed booties with three of my favourite elements. They have amazing pale pink patterns, black patent leather trim, and ribbon ties.  Play up details on shoes such as these with sheer, printed tights.
 
Try a chic yet inexpensive pair of booties from Michael Antonio’s Mckey, $35.  The simple structure will pair nicely with most anything in your closet.  The grey suede material, combined with grey tights, will balance a sophisticated mini-dress. They can work as well with brightly-coloured leggings.  Feeling sassy? Wear them alone to showcase a great pair of legs.  Just be sure to moisturize!
 
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Whiten your smile in just two hours

Now you whiten your teeth in the time it takes to watch a movie – or two episodes of Desperate Housewives. And you can do it at home for less than $40!  

Whitening your teeth is one of the fastest and easiest ways to give your look a lift. Dingy, stained teeth can make you look old and neglected.

Crest 3D White 2-Hour Express Whitestripes uses an enamel-safe whitening ingredient to brighten teeth quickly. According to Crest, your new white smile should last at least three months.
 
I love Crest Whitestrips and have since they first came out. They keep my smile its whitest. And they are so much more comfortable and convenient than bulky whitening trays. Even my dentist likes the results.
 
The new Crest 3D White 2-Hour Express Whitestripes are my new favourite. They are snap to use, and the perfect addition to my régime of whitening toothpaste and mouthwash.
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Natural immune support

Many things can lower your immunity. Stress and fatigue can make you more vulnerable to illness. 

Reserveage Organics’ ViraLaurin Immune is all-natural formula that contains a combination of monolauric acid from coconut oil, olive leaf, and Vitamin D3, as well as resveratrol. It is designed to offer the immune system support, and may be just what you need for the coming cold and flu season, or any stressful situations involving heavy workloads, travel, or study.

 
According to Reserveage Organics, “ViraLaurin Immune enriches your daily defenses against the environmental stress, toxins, and free radicals that can cause premature aging and affect your immune system.”
 
Many studies show that ingredients in ViraLaurin Immune may help to strength the body’s immune responses.

 

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From brothel to empress

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy is the captivating story of a woman who, through sheer will and personality, climbs out of the brothels of Constantinople (Istanbul) to become Empress of Rome. It is a novel based on the real-life woman Theodora. 

Theodora was born the daughter of a bear-keeper in Byzantine Constantinople. When he is killed, she and her sisters are trained as theater performers and courtesans.
 
Theodora was not a great beauty, but she was intelligent as well as a talented dancer, acrobat, and comedienne. Her training as performer was vigorous and intense. As a courtesan she would be expected to enthrall wealthy, powerful men, so she was tutored in languages, conversation, and history.
 
By the time she was 12, Theodora was performing on stage and working in a brothel. At 18, when she ran away with her lover, she was already a famous comedienne and courtesan.
 
The facts of Theodora’s life read like a novel: from brothel to empress. Theodora also underwent a sudden and startling conversion to Christianity. She was later sainted in the Orthodox Church.
 
Drawing on various historical sources, Duffy paints a picture of an intelligent, willful, pragmatic, and spiritual woman driven to escape life as second-class citizen. In Byzantine Rome, courtesans and actress were not permitted to marry and live as respectable women, no matter how virtuous or accomplished they became.
 
Even former slaves could marry, but actresses and courtesans were forbidden from advancing and gaining social acceptability through marriage. Theodora’s hateful nemesis, Justinian’s aunt, the Empress of Rome, had once been a slave.
 
In winning the love of Justinian, Theodora finally accomplished her goal. When he became Emperor, he changed the law and married her.
 
Duffy uses the facts of this remarkable woman’s life to weave a fascinating tale of ambition in the Byzantine era. Her portrait of Theodora is fascinating. As a young woman alone, she travels from Constantinople, to Libya, to Egypt, and finally to Rome. Theodora also traverses the worlds of the Hippodrome, the brothel, and the pinnacle of power in the ancient world.
 
Don’t miss this inspiring and spellbinding tale.
Stella Duffy talks about her book here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXgW1aFxaNE.
 
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Useful cooking tips and more

Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them: And 100 Other Myths About Food and Cooking . . . Plus 25 Recipes to Get It Right Every Time by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough is an amusing compendium of useful cooking information for beginners as well as more advanced cooks.  

I love the title of this book. I have had to convince even talented and experienced cooks that lobsters don’t scream or try escape when you cook them. Cooking lobsters is a snap, and this book explains all the tricks of preparing these tasty crustaceans.
 
The book also shoots down other well-known kitchen myths that may be sabotaging your cooking. And, the authors include recipes for peanut cake among others that sound tempting!
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Rich red pepper soup

Rich roast peppers and tomatoesThis richly-flavoured, lightly-spicy soup is perfect for the harvest season. It’s also versatile. It makes an elegant starter, when topped with a dollop of crème fraiche, and served in beautiful china cups or fancy soup plates. Or, it is a perfect light lunch or supper with a salad, or with just a bit of grilled fish or chicken.

 
It’s dead easy to make cold red pepper soup. It gets a jolt of flavour from a touch of cumin and a hint of garlic. I use bottled red peppers. This avoids the tedious job of roasting and peeling them. I also use chicken stock, but vegetarians can substitute vegetable stock of good quality. Make sure you do not buy vinegared or pickled peppers.
 
 
If you want to use fresh red peppers, roast them under a hot broiler until the skin chars black. Turn them to char them evenly; you can do this on the grill. Drop the charred peppers into a paper bag and close it, or place them in a bowl and seal it with plastic wrap for five to six minutes. This will steam the peppers, allowing you to rub the charred skin off with an old, clean dish towel. Them cut the peppers into strips, while discarding the stems and seeds.
 
You may also use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. Simply wash, cut, and quickly stew the amount you need for 10 minutes on medium-high heat. Season the tomatoes to taste with salt, and then puree them.
 
Ingredients:
1 box (quart or liter) of chicken or vegetable stock
1 cups /500 ml. tomato juice
2 jars / 335 ml. each of red peppers
1 peeled large carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 tsp-1 tsp of ground cumin
1½ tsp sugar or 1 pkg. Splenda
1½ tsp chili flakes, optional
Crème fraiche or sour cream (optional)
 
Sauté the chopped vegetables, but do not brown them. Drain the peppers and blot dry. Chop. Add cumin to the vegetables and chili, if you wish. Stir. Add peppers and sugar. Add the three cups of stock and simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
 
Purée everything until it’s smooth, and thin with a bit more stock, if necessary. If you wish it to be elegant, pass the soup through a fine sieve. I do not often bother to do this, as I like the texture. I puree it very well in a blender. 
 
Taste to correct the seasoning before serving. It may taste blander when cold, and you may wish to add a bit of hot sauce, a dash of cayenne, and a bit more salt. Serve garnished with a dollop of crème fraiche or lemon slices.
 
Guests will love the tangy sweetness of the pepper contrasted with the smoky cumin. I like to add a bit of chili, too. The colour shouts sunshine. You can taste how healthful it is!
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