The Big Business of International Kidnapping

Longreads

As we drive to an office in nearby Pembroke Pines, Wilson briefs me on the bourgeoning business of international kidnapping. The White House’s recent acknowledgment of the accidental killing of two al-Qaida hostages in Pakistan in January, as well as the dark news from Syria in recent months, both overshadows and underscores the fact that kidnappings are a global scourge. As incidents have increased worldwide, a parallel industry has emerged, one that includes insurance companies, negotiators, lawyers, and security firms like Risks Inc. In a 2010 investigation, London’s Independent newspaper dubbed this the “hostage industry,” and estimated its worth at about $1.6 billion a year.

“You don’t have to be rich. People will kidnap you for next to nothing,” Wilson says. “Venezuela is out of control. Mexico is out of control.” Most of his clients for the Florida course are executives or wealthy individuals who live in high-risk areas, primarily…

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Five Posts to Write Right Now

The Daily Post

No matter how long you’ve been writing, some days, it feels like inspiration just won’t come. If you’re stuck on what to write next, or just want to try something new, take a crack at one of these post ideas.

1. What does Utopia look like to you?

Every single day around the world, there are protests, elections, and burgeoning grassroots campaigns all resulting in a step forward, or a step backward, depending on who you ask. Many people devote their lives towards creating a better life for their children and grandchildren, letting their vision of the future guide their present.

Yet everyone’s vision of the world they’d like their children, metaphorical or not, to inherit is very different. What type of world do you strive to create in your day-to-day life? What actions can we take to improve the lives of others? What’s a cause that’s important to you? Tell…

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Visualization Story Structure

Live to Write - Write to Live

Recently, I have been working as a writer in a computer lab where visualization software is designed.

With the over-abundance of information, visualizations can make targeted pieces of information easier and clearer for the reader to instantly comprehend. This particular software mines a large database of information and displays what you tell it to find in a visual format.

For example:

Fig. 1 Scatterplot of Obesity vs Age Fig. 1 Scatter plot of Obesity vs. Age

This is a scatter plot of obesity rates vs. age. Even without a lot of explanatory text, you can see that as people get older, the rate of obesity increases. This is not exactly earth shattering information until you compare this graph with graphs from earlier years and then you’ll see that with each successive year, obesity starts affecting a younger and younger demographic.

I’m fortunate, because I find this use of visualization fascinating and I love nothing more than “going…

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