Sunday, April 29, 2007 . 6:40 PMThe Changing Gun Debate (with relation to violence)
this is based from the arcticle, the Changing Gun Debate by Newsweek-
Many issues regarding the civillian possession of firearms have arisen in the light of the Virginia Tech shootings, especially the decade old debate on whether should civillians be allowed to possess firearm. Indeed, the rationale for civillians in America possessing firearms is for self-defence, however, the VT shootings has once again highlighted the increasing trend of guns used in attacks, almost always resulting in fatalities. So, wouldn't it be better for guns to be banned in America, just like in Singapore, as much as many Americans vote for stricter and tighter arms control within the country, the problem in my view, would never be solved if guns are ever to be sold to civillians. This is due to the fundamental fact that as long as guns are sold, no matter how strict you are, when someone goes bonkers, he starts hooting with the gun, so you have to remove the gun. In view of such a trend, this also brings up the problem of increasing teenage violence
Look at this quote
"FBI statistics show that violent crime is on the rise across America, and the news out of Virginia has again raised the critical issue of keeping guns away from the people who should not have them—criminals and those with a history of being potentially dangerous."
Now, such a trend of violent crime is not just prevalent in America, this is also growing in Singapore. As seen in the webpage below on a recent article in the New Paper on Thursday 26th April on Happy Slapping, a teenage boy was badly beaten up during a birthday celebration, this is another case of teen violence.
Are our teens geting violent? Indeed, this I believe, is true, the entry of violent computer games and programmes, does have a certain influence over our students. With shows like the World Wrestling Entertainment featuring actors beating the heck out of one another. If such a trend is inevitable, then what can we do to deal with it, parents must definitely incalculate the moral values into their kids. In a fast paced society like Singapore, as much as time is scarce, some part of it MUST be devoted to their kids, for at the adolescent age, many are "ill-equipped" to decide the right from wrong, so parents must play this major role. Schools and society should do their part a well, for this is where they spend most of their times at. More emphasis and time should be devoted to the civics rather than "blind- studying" It is only with this can we hope to combat such a trend.
Saturday, April 21, 2007 . 11:57 PMUse of Torture to deal with Crime
Reading the following 2 articles, I believe that the use of torture in crime is justified, but only to a limited extent
Now, why do I say that torture is justifiable, look at society around you, we do find that even students turn psychopaths, as seen in the recent Virginia Tech massacre where 32 people died. Torture would be justified in the face of unstable, dangerous criminals who are a danger to society, such as terrorists and psychopaths as quoted in Article 2
"A psychopathic murderer has buried a teenage girl alive and he is captured by the police," an example on Mr Faris's web blog says.
"He refuses to say where she is. He taunts the police with his knowledge. Torture is acceptable to find the girl and to save her life."
Indeed, many people find that torture is a very wrong method used to obtain information, it is against personal human rights, but think about it, had you captured one of the 911 operatives before the attack occurred, would you have used torture to try and obtain information on his "comrades" so as to foil them. Or, would you out of the so called respect for human rights, interrogate them, and pray that they would somehow, miraculously tell you where their "comrades" are. Another reason why I do not see why we should not apply torture to such dangerous criminals, take for example, these operatives capture one of your own countrymen and you see a footage of your fellow American having his head slowly sawed off, is it not justifiable that we remove a fingernail of the terrorists while they saw off heads, there is no reason not to do that.
In article 1, it does suggest that torture actually does not yield better results in comparision to the FBI's method of interrogation. Once again, think in terms of the time factor, indeed, interrogation proves more effective a method, but what's the point of obtaining the information only after months/ years after you've captured them, it is almost obselete.
Nowadays, the rules of the games have changed, terrorists hit you hard, they hit you fast, it is not how fast you stop them, but how fast you are able to make use of one captured operative, drill him for information and round up the rest as soon as possible, before they realise one of their comrades is missing and start to conduct their operations, there is no point if you'e going to get the information months or even years later, they might have already blown themselves up in front of some shopping mall.
Hence, I believe that in extreme cases, especially those concerning civillian and national security, torture is justified
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 . 8:33 PMNew Media (Power to the People or a Threat to Stability)
New media, blogging as what I'm doing now, I feel is a threat to stability. After evaluating the two articles, "The Media War on Terror" as well as "Blogs and The Freedom of Speech," I do believe that the new media is probably a threat to the people. Just by looking all around us. The media has turned into political propoganda. All that talk about the freedom of speech, as seen in my previous post in Chapter 4, there are media agencies getting banned. In addition, look at this extract,
" In Libya, former bookseller Abdel Razak al-Mansouri was sentenced to 18 months in prison for making fun of President Mohammar Khaddafi online. Two Internet users have been jailed and tortured in Syria, one for posting photos online of a pro-Kurdish demonstration in Damascus and the other for simply passing on an e-mailed newsletter the regime considers illegal. "
If bloggers are being tortured just for posting photos that are pro-Kurdish, then would the people of these opressed states ever dare to blog again. People fear for their heads, as a result, who would ever there to blog again. Indeed, blogs have provided with us invaluable first-hand information of news around the world, but with this increasing wave of government censorship, how would you call this power to the people.
Now for the other article, "the Media War on Terror" by Donald Rumsfield, which speaks of terror organizations using the media to poison the minds of Muslims and break the will of the free people. It is indeed true that media has become a powerful propoganda tool. Look at Rumsfield's article itself, he is also using propoganda in an attempt to influence his own countrymen to support the war on terror. Below is an extract of propoganda. Do note that this extract by Rumsfield is likely to be propoganda as well, so read it with a open mind.
"Regrettably, many of the news channels being watched through these dishes are hostile to the West. Media outlets in many parts of the world often serve only to inflame and distort – rather than to explain and inform. While al-Qaeda and extremist movements have used this forum for many years, further poisoning the Muslim public’s view of the West, we in the West have barely even begun to compete.
We saw this with the false allegations of the desecration of a Koran last year. First published in a weekly news magazine, the story was then posted on Web sites, sent in e-mails, and repeated on satellite television and radio stations for days before the facts could be discovered. That false story incited deadly anti-American riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
All around us, we have sources of news and media, however, a large portion of it is contaminated with propoganda, to delude the people with untruths. From the Iraq war to jihad, attempts are made to brainwash the audience, and much of these attempts are successful as proven by the increasing numbers of teen terrorists, willing to blow themselves up. I personally feel that while media, in this case the introduction of blogging, may be a source of power to the people, it has largely been once again been turned into propoganda tool. Hence making it a threat to stability
Saturday, April 7, 2007 . 1:24 AMCan the Media ever be relied upon to convey the truths?
Now, with regards to the article on Great Lies of the American Free Press, I personally feel that as much as the media can be relied upon to deliver to us news in general as truths, when it comes to sensitive issues, especially those of political origin, the media would probably been unreliable in providing us with the truth.
Now, as seen in the article, as much as under the Bill of Rights of the USA where the government promises no to interfere in anyway to the press organizations in the US, they are all supressed, as far as this is concerned politically.
Now then, why is this so?
Look at the different cases, the American Press in this situation, as well as the case of Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, which I'll refer to later. In the American case, by tracing down the cause for the American press in "distorting the truths" through ways like censorship and proclaiming innocence, we do find that the fundamental problem can be described in one sentence- Power CORRUPTS (in the American case)
For example, when we look at this extract in the article
" But such bribery does not have to be strictly on a cash basis. During the build-up to the Iraqi war, one of the primary disseminators of the Bush dictatorship’s "great lies" was then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. And during this time, in one of those remarkable "coincidences" that nepotism spawns, Powell’s son Michael was head of the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.)-the very agency that possessed the power to change F.C.C. rules so monopolistic media empires could acquire even a greater share of the marketplace. In return all these empires had to do was endorse, or at least not dispute, the warmongering lies of the Bush dictatorship, and accept, or at least not question, the fraudulent results of the 2000 and 2004 presidential "elections." "
So, when we read this, doesn't it show us that for the sake of even greater power and MONEY, the press are actuall willing to sacriface the right to report arcticles in TRUTH and for the PEOPLE, just to achieve a greater share and ratings in the media market
Let's look at this other extract
" Armstrong Williams, a "conservative" African-American pseudo-journalist, was recently paid two hundred and forty thousand dollars ($240,000) by the Bush dictatorship to promote an education reform law on his syndicated television show. Another pseudo-journalist, Maggie Gallagher, was paid twenty-one thousand, five hundred dollars ($21,500) by the federal government’s department of Health and Human Services to encourage marriage. This same department also paid columnist Mike McManus ten thousand ($10,000) dollars to "train marriage counselors." Yet, according to the Associated Press (Jan. 29), "all three columnists failed to disclose to their readers their relationship with the [Bush] administration." "
Once again in this extract, it shows that for money, for favour with the government, the press is willing to exaggerate or distort truths, and compromise the people's needs for truths and not lies
Let's now consider the case of LKY in Singapore
As we all know Lee Kuan Yew has been a critical leader responsible for the economic, political stability which Singapore is now in. And indeed he is must be commended for his achievements. However, when we look at this extract, which leads us to the question of media and the truth...
" Several members of Lee's family hold prominent positions in Singaporean society, and his sons and daughter hold high government and government-linked posts. His elder son Lee Hsien Loong, a former Brigadier-General, has been the Prime Minister since 2004, and Finance Minister of Singapore. He is also the Vice-Chairman of the Government of Singapore Investment Company (GIC) — Lee himself is the Chairman. Lee's younger son, Lee Hsien Yang, also a former Brigadier-General, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of SingTel — a post he will give up soon —, a pan-Asian telecommunications giant and Singapore's largest company by market capitalisation (listed on the Singapore Exchange, SGX). Fifty-six percent of SingTel is owned by Temasek Holdings, a prominent government holding company with controlling stakes in a variety of very large government-linked companies such as Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank. Temasek Holdings in turn is run by Executive Director and CEO Ho Ching, the wife of Lee's elder son, the Prime Minister. Lee's daughter, Lee Wei Ling, runs the National Neuroscience Institute, and remains unmarried. Lee's wife Kwa Geok Choo used to be a partner of the prominent legal firm Lee & Lee. His younger brothers, Dennis, Freddy, and Suan Yew were partners of the same firm. He also has a younger sister, Monica.
Lee has consistently denied charges of nepotism, arguing that his family members' privileged positions are based on personal merit. However, these charges have persisted and international publications such as The Economist, International Herald Tribune and the Far Eastern Economic Review have been threatened, sued or banned in Singapore for implying the existence of nepostism. "
Now, the following press companies like The Economist have been banned or sued for implying the existence of nepotism as well as talking about a Lee Dynasty, given that so many Lees are in power. So, indeed in Singapore, the Lees have contributed to our country's development, and more prominiently, our now Minister Mentor, one of the 4 founding fathers of Singapore who's invaluable contribution is responsible for where we stand now.
But, now, when we refer to the Straits Times which has for years praised LKY for his contributions whereas outside Singpore, he's criticisied for being authorian or implied of nepotism. So the banning of press agencies like the Economist, wouldn't it serve as a example to other agencies like the Straits Times as a reminder to be careful of what they say, or for that matter, what we say? again in the context of politically sensitive issues. So, can we now trust the press to give the truth?
Still NO, I don't think so. What's your stand?