Gross Chinese Internet Censorship and Human-Rights Violations Over Coup Rumors

The Chinese government is continuing its sparkling record of Internet censorship and human-rights violations by arresting 6 people and closing down websites that detailed rumors of a government coup.

It is just common sense that a country’s people should be able to discuss ongoing political and social issues. You never know who is going to come up with the best ideas to solve emerging problems. Talking about current events can also lead to the arrest of legitimate criminals, so not all of this is about human rights. It’s also about openness and free speech facilitating crime prevention.

As far as the arrest of citizens over coup rumors, that issue is not as clear. If a U. S. citizen were conspiring to overthrow the government, that person could be arrested and charged with that conspiracy, as well. So it’s not as easy to judge the arrests because evidence of an actual conspiracy on the part of the arrested parties would be reasonable grounds for an arrest.

But I can think of no reason why the Chinese government should shut down websites for merely discussing an issue or rumors. If a force powerful enough to topple the Chinese government existed, why in the world would they need websites to be spreading rumors about it. Secrecy would be the better way to do it. Letting rumors out of a coup could actually destroy the opportunity to pull it off. The Chinese government keeps surviving by taking advantage of the numbers and strength of its people. It’s certainly not the wisdom of its unreasonable policies on human rights.

Sources:

BBC News

More Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Problems in the Philippines

Another Royal Caribbean Cruises cruise ship is afloat on the water. This time, the incident is taking place off the coast of the Philippines. The cause of this latest embarrassment is a fire that took out the ship’s engine. As of yet, no fatalities are reported.

The ship is carrying around 1000 people. Although this particular vessel belongs to Azamara Club Cruises, that line is part of Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Other incidents taking place recently include the accident in Italy that killed 32 people and the engine problems in the Indian Ocean. That later ship was afloat for 3 days.

Sources:

Google AP Report on Cruise Ship Afloat in the Philippines

Katie Couric to Guest Host for a Week on Good Morning America

Katie Couric may work for every network before all is said and done. Couric will now guest host for a week on Good Morning America while Robin Roberts is on vacation. She will be appearing for the week starting April 2, 2012 (Monday) and will co-host with George Stephanopoulos until Friday, April 6, 2012.

Couric worked for years on NBC and then anchored the nightly news on CBS from 2006 to 2011. She now works for ABC, which is the home of Good Morning America.

Rumor has it she will soon have a special on FOX News called “How to Have a Career in TV Journalism with No Charisma.”

Sources:

Wall Street Journal

 

Florida’s Stand Your Ground Self-Defense Criminal Law Is Just Fine; No Changes Needed

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has brought to light the Florida Stand Your Ground self-defense law. Politicians and professional and amateur pundits are doing like they always do by overreacting and calling for a change in the law. Not only should this Florida self-defense criminal law not be changed. In fact, the truth is the states that do not have a Stand Your Ground law should be adopting it as the standard for self-defense.

First of all, instead of attacking the law, many reasonable observers are noting that the Stand Your Ground law may not even apply in the case of Trayvon Martin. In this case, Zimmerman used a gun – the principal example of deadly force in self-defense and defense-of-others law. The question here is whether the Stand Your Ground law provides a defense for Zimmerman in this case, not whether the Stand Your Ground law is a good self-defense law.

This is like when people blame religion for wars. It’s just a bogus argument. Religion is not responsible for war. People abusing religion or misapplying its teachings are the ones responsible for war. In this case, the fact that the Florida police might be misapplying the Stand Your Ground law does not mean it’s a bad law. Under this twisted logic, any law would have to be changed because any law can be misapplied.

The Stand Your Ground law is about retreat. In many states, you must attempt to retreat first before using deadly force if there is any possible avenue for retreat. That is a horrible law on its face. Self-defense laws requiring retreat put you in a Catch 22: either defend yourself now or try to retreat and risk getting shot or stabbed in the back or otherwise injured or killed during the retreat.

Requiring retreat before deadly force ignores the heightened emotional state, adrenaline and stress accompanied by being attacked. A victim cannot reasonably be expected to “think things through” or look around for an avenue of retreat. Those who devised the retreat requirement grew up in a nice neighborhood and didn’t have to worry about being mugged on a regular basis. I grew up in a nice neighborhood, but I also have common sense and can put myself in the shoes of a victim. An attack on the street is not an exercise in classroom or courtroom logic. It is an event that happens quickly and does not provide room for second guessing, pondering, deliberation, etc. You act quickly and you act decisively. That is self-defense in the real world.

Laws requiring retreat essentially blame the victim for his or her impulsive human defense mechanisms. If you are going to attack someone, then you need to take the risk of being injured or killed when the victim strikes back. Retreat should have no place in self-defense. Once you go to retreat, you just don’t know what is going to happen.

The seeming problem in the case of Trayvon Martin is that the use of deadly force might not have been justified. That is a far cry and essentially irrelevant to the value or wisdom of the Florida Stand Your Ground law. If George Zimmerman used deadly force without reasonable cause, then prosecute him. Don’t prosecute a good law that allows for reasonable self-defense without the uncertainty of a mandatory retreat in the face of danger.

 

Summary of the Invisible Children, Inc. “Stop Kony” Campaign (Kony 2012)

Invisible Children heads up the Stop Kony campaign, which is a global effort to bring Joseph Kony to justice. The promotional video is about 30 minutes long, and with so many people pressed for time, I decided to write a summary of the main points of the film.

First, I think the film is very self-aggrandizing, and it is odd that the creator is prompting his own son to give an opinion about a sadistic murderer. The kid has plenty of time to grow up and think about these things when he has the maturity level to understand the issues. But with those complaints aside, it is a well-produced film with a fantastic stated purpose.

In short, Joseph Kony is the leader of the LRA, which is a group of rebels that kidnaps children in Uganda and forces them to act as LRA soldiers. The girls are forced to act as sex slaves. They have also killed some of the children for not obeying orders. According to the film, there have been 30,000 such victims since this LRA reign of terror began 26 years ago. Forced acts have even included forcing kids to kill their own parents.

As an aside, stopping Osama bin Laden did not stop terrorism. And this is part of the problem. You can’t just take out Joseph Kony. Someone will just take his place. So this issue is much bigger than one man.

I also found it bizarre to say that the film will expire on December 31, 2012. You certainly can’t rush justice, particularly international justice. It is unrealistic to think this problem will be solved on a specific timeline. Once again, the creator is passionate but unrealistic at the same time. But that does not take away from the fact that the cause is very admirable.

Now, some may be wondering why the US government is not doing anything to stop this. Well, the movie explains that all those in Washington (both major parties) do not see this as an issue in the national interest. Political arguments aside, both parties have consistently refused to get involved in several travesties like this in Africa (similar atrocities happened in Rwanda, and the UN turned its back).

Invisible Children then goes into a self-promotional campaign about the good that it has done to raise money for charity and build schools and do other good deeds. This has nothing to do with Kony and the LRA, so I have no idea what it is doing in the movie except as additional self-aggrandizement.

By the way, Kony is under indictment. But Uganda either has not tried or at least tried hard enough to capture him. And as stated above, other governments don’t feel the need to get involved.

However, Obama eventually sent a small number of 100 or so troops to advise and assist in the pursuit of Kony. This is the equivalent of military lip service and nothing else, but the show makes it sound like some grand accomplishment.

The show then says Kony has “changed his tactics” to avoid capture.

This brings us to the call to action given by Invisible Children. In short, it says we need to spread the word about Joseph Kony to avoid having the advisor group’s mission cancelled by the president. The campaign also involves going to the website to send emails to 40 influential people. The idea is to get these people to support the cause. You can also donate money and get an action kit with Kony 2012 items that are meant to help spread the word. The plan is to hang all these posters in every street corner in America on April 20, 2012.

Although I am critical of the movie, I am not critical of the cause. Let me make that as clear as possible. And I support the cause of getting the word out. The guy lives to torture people, and he needs to be stopped. But I think the job of doing that lies with the Ugandan government and army at this point. The pressure should be on them to use all legal measures necessary to hunt this guy down. I also support having the advisory group, but it is not a solution by itself. Sending a group of advisors with no military authority is more of a political move than an action to affect real change.

Click the link below to watch the Stop Kony video. You can visit the website for this Invisible Children campaign at Kony2012.com.

http://youtu.be/Y4MnpzG5Sqc

Nancy Grace Puts Foot in Her Mouth Again Over Whitney Houston Autopsy

Nancy Grace is nothing if not controversial. She recently appeared to insinuate that someone pushed Whitney Houston under the water in an interview on CNN. Actually, in Nancy’s defense, she did also note in the same interview that there was no sign of force or trauma. The reality is that Grace just doesn’t seem to have the ability to apologize over anything.

What likely happened in this latest controversy is that Nancy just chose the wrong words. She probably meant to say that Whitney Houston’s autopsy might reveal that she was placed under the water, not that it actually happened. The statement is innocent enough. But Nancy’s overbloated ego is the problem. She can’t even apologize for a simple mistake in word usage that caused confusion.

You’ve got to remember that Nancy Grace is a former prosecutor from the Atlanta area. She knows the importance of words, and she has undoubtedly used the words of criminal suspects to help get them convicted and sent to prison. But she is acting like one of the criminals here who refuses to apologize. But Nancy just misspoke. She didn’t really do anything wrong here even though a former prosecutor should know how to be more careful with her words. All she has to do is apologize for the misstament, but Grace is apparently above that.

On a side note, there could still be criminal charges arising out of this case, but the autopsy is unlikely to show that kind of guilt. What it will show is the types of substances that Whitney had and may help determine the exact cause of death. But that would have to be added to other evidence of someone wrongfully supplying drugs or other substances. This does not appear to be like the case of Anna Nicole Smith or Michael Jackson. No one is saying that Whitney was out of her mind or couldn’t take care of herself.

Criminal charges in this case are unlikely unless there is a doctor involved who was grossly negligent in prescribing drugs. Barring that, there is probably no criminal case here. And Nancy Grace should just focus on the facts instead of introducing wild speculation about a forced drowning. Learn some humility, Nancy Grace. It’s really not that hard to apologize.

Sources:

LA Times: Nancy Grace Defends Her Whitney Houston Death Speculation