Love is the Answer


Love is the Answer





Love is the Answer

  1. Introduction
  2. Attention Getter

“Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you” are the unending words of the Christian messiah in Matthew 7:12 that summarize the universal law facilitating harmonious coexistence, the golden rule.

  1. Reason to Listen

This spirit of reciprocity can only flourish in a world whether people acknowledge equality, which the next person is just like me regardless of their physical attributes or their cultural or religious affiliation

  1. Credibility Statement

The implication has never been more relevant than today when our divided nation needs healing.


  1. Thesis Statement

The solution is love, yes; Love is the quality of a soul, thus our outward actions towards others reflect our internal condition.

  1. Preview of Main Points

Division, on the other hand, is based the perception of one group of people perceiving themselves as superior to everyone else in order to get amass economic resources.

  1. Main Point

Speaking is a verb, a doing word. It can be argued that it is an action; with similar consequences to physical force.

  1. Idea of development or supports for Main Point

Unlike the latter, that likes a visible dent, words attack the mind and in turn the heart

  1. Support material (statistics, quotations, cite source)

They spread an idea that can build or destroy the heart (Banks et al, 2005).

  1. Support material (statistics, quotations, cite source)

Generations have adopted this false worldview and perpetuated it due to misconstrued perfection of reality, a legacy of hatred inherited from their parents (Mandela, 2013). However, as Nelson Mandela implied not all is lost. He sorted that no man was born with hate rather it is a learned concept; in the same way, love can be taught, as man is predisposed towards love.

Idea of development

In order to coexist with each other, we must learn to appreciate the value of the each individual. Man is a social being whose existence is founded on interactions with others.

Support material (statistics, quotations, cite source)

  • It follows that in the early civilization the worst form of punishment was excommunication to wander in the wilderness alone (Duxbury, 2008).
  1. Conclusion

We need each other to survive. Everyone has a role to play in the development of society; they should be able to perform their role with the

  1. Main Point
  2. Idea of development or supports for Main Point
  3. Conclusion
  4. Support material (statistics, quotations, cite source)



Banks, J. A., Banks, C. A., Cortés, C. E., Hahn, C. L., Merryfield, M. M., Moodley, K. A., … & Parker, W. C. (2005). Democracy and diversity. Principles and Concepts for.

Duxbury, N. (2008). Golden rule reasoning, moral judgment, and law. Notre Dame L. Rev., 84, 1529.

Mandela, N. (2013). Long walk to freedom. Hachette UK.

Simpson, R. M. (2013). Dignity, harm, and hate speech. Law and Philosophy, 32(6), 701-728.

The Expansion of Surveillance Techniques in Society

The Expansion of Surveillance Techniques in Society

















The Expansion of Surveillance Techniques in Society

  1. Introduction

Surveillance refers to the close observation of a person’s behavior or activities. The acts of surveillance are used for different purposes, in different environments. It may be used in workplaces, international borders or even on city streets. In workplaces, surveillance techniques are used to monitor employee productivity. Surveillance may also be used to monitor theft in warehouses. In borders, government agencies may use various means of surveillance to monitor illegal immigrations by people from other countries. On streets, government agencies may use various tools to monitor criminal activity, or social unrest before or as it happens. However, surveillance is not limited to only that. Healthcare institutions use disease surveillance techniques to monitor the spread of an ailment in a community.

There are different tools used in surveillance. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, relative to the application in question. First, there is computer surveillance; it involves the use of electronic media, to detect what is happening. Telephone calls may also be monitored. Cameras are also used to monitor people’s activities, through CCTV systems. Drones are used in aerial surveillance. In another instance, people’s biometric details such as fingerprints and DNA are collected. The development of satellites has been applied in surveillance of people’s activities. This technology is implemented through imaging of areas. Finally, Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology is being applied in the field of surveillance.

Governments have extensively used various surveillance techniques in the recent past. The increased efforts are attributable to various reasons. First, the danger of terrorist attacks has escalated through the years. For instance, the 9/11 attacks on the United States prompted for the development of the Patriot Act. This legislation enhanced the federal government agencies’ powers in surveillance. Secondly, there have been increased illegal immigrations into developed countries, by people from poor nations. This has called for increased surveillance of borders by governments. Finally, there has been increased criminal activity over the years, in different countries. To avert and minimize this phenomenon, governments have resorted to increased surveillance of their people’s activities, through their agencies. The improvements in technology have provided a platform for monitoring.

Despite these reasons, governments have come under fire for these surveillance activities. Civil Society has condemned this rise of ‘Surveillance states’. Surveillance of people in a society has adverse consequences. First, it encroaches on people’s rights to privacy and freedom. This is seen through efforts to tap into people’s phones and emails. Surveillance by cameras has been proven to displace crime. It is important to note that such surveillance technology is placed in wealthier areas, where economic benefits outweigh the costs of installation. As a result, crime shifts to poorer areas where such systems are not present. This results in increased stratification, in different societies. Massive Government surveillance has an impact on people’s right to free speech. Protestors are usually photographed, and arrests or court injunctions may be imposed on them (Koskela, 2003).

Various societies have seen increased efforts in massive government surveillance. This is especially true in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia and China. The UK is the country with the most cameras per head, in the world. A 2011 report states that the country had around 1.85 million cameras in operation. The UK government’s response to increased social disorder and crime rates in the country has been the adoption of the latest technology. This has seen the country grow its surveillance networks exponentially since 1994. This essay seeks to discuss the expansion of surveillance in society, and the techniques used.

  1. Techniques

Various forms of technology are used in governments’ surveillance efforts. Photography has a strong relationship with government efforts to curb criminal activity. The use of CCTV systems portrays this. The term CCTV refers to Closed-circuit television. These systems involve the use of cameras, still or motion picture, to transmit images of what is happening in a remote location. The transmission of CCTV is different from that of broadcast television. It involves the transfer of information in a point-to-point manner, through communication links such as the internet. CCTV has been used in various applications such as banking halls, high-end residences and city streets. It is important to note that all these applications are related to security needs (“The Growth of CCTV: a global perspective on the international diffusion of video surveillance in publicly accessible space,” 2004).

Governments have used CCTV in various ways during surveillance. First, the systems have been used for crime prevention and detection. In such applications, CCTV cameras are placed in strategic locations such as street interchanges, parking lots and on public transportation vehicles. The use of CCTV has been proven to reduce crime. First, their application resulted in a 51 percent decrease, in criminal activity. In public transport vehicles and trains, a 23 percent decrease was recorded. Applications in public areas such as street corners saw a 7 percent overall dip in crime. Government agencies use CCTV in monitoring of traffic. For instance, the British Highways Agency has a network of over 1200 CCTV cameras on the UK’s motorways. Such systems are used to detect congestion on roads and accidents that may obstruct other drivers on roads. They may also be used to detect traffic offences such as speeding and infractions (CCTV User Group, 2011).

CCTV cameras have evolved with technological development. Today, they spec high-definition sensors in their cameras, as well as features such as infrared and Video Content Analysis (VCA). Through VCA, CCTV systems automatically compare live footage with images stored on databases. As a result, law enforcement is informed of a prospective crime, before a criminal carries it out. VCA technology also assists in monitoring unrest and anomalies in crowd behavior. CCTV systems also feature facial recognition systems. This feature enables the system to identify people from live footage. This is done through analysis of facial structure, in relation to images stored in the system’s database. CCTV systems also feature expansive storage. This enables them to store swathes of footage involving people’s activities.

There has been an expansion of CCTV surveillance in Europe. For instance, “Across Europe, 29% of…publicly accessible institutions used some form of video surveillance (“The Growth of CCTV: a global perspective on the international diffusion of video surveillance in publicly accessible space,” 2004).” Publicly accessible institutions include spaces such as banks, restaurants and shops. Various factors have accelerated this rise. In France, privacy laws were relaxed in 1995. This enabled the French government to deploy such systems in public spaces. In the Republic of Ireland, the Justice Minister announced a major expansion of the country’s open street CCTV surveillance infrastructure. Around two-thirds of Italian sports stadiums feature video-surveillance systems. This is a requirement for premises hosting over 20,000 people during sporting events. Furthermore, Italy’s Interior Ministry installed such surveillance systems in 50 of the country’s largest cities (Koskela, 2003).

The United States has seen an increased uptake of CCTV in its institutions. This effect is attributable to a decline in costs and advancements in technology. The 9/11 attacks further heightened the need for such systems in institutions such as airports. A report states that around 80 percent of American law enforcement bodies had used CCTV surveillance. Such agencies have used video surveillance through street cameras in public housing schemes and parks. In the streets, mobile units are also used. The City of Chicago has the most extensive video surveillance infrastructure in the country. It holds around 10,000 cameras in operation, in its streets.

In Australia, the number of CCTV systems increased from 13 to 33 in under a decade of operations. The use of video surveillance is apparent in Australian transport infrastructure. The state railway of New South Wales features over 5000 cameras at around 300 train stations. Similarly, the state’s bus company has surveillance systems on its fleet of approximately 2000 buses. In New Zealand, there are 11 cameras operating in the Wellington city centre. Nine other cities are also developing their video surveillance infrastructure. However, the implementation of CCTV has been slower in New Zealand, due to strong laws on personal privacy. South Africa has implemented video surveillance extensively. In Cape Town, there are over 100 open street cameras. The city of Johannesburg features over 300 street cameras in operation. The country also features extensive coverage of its railway infrastructure. There are four cameras in each of the 4,500 train carriages operated by the South African Railway Commuter Corporation (“The Growth of CCTV: a global perspective on the international diffusion of video surveillance in publicly accessible space,” 2004)..

China has been slammed for its stringent laws on human rights. The country implemented a national surveillance project known as the ‘Golden Shield.’ As a result, Hangzhou developed a system covering 1000 cameras. Similarly, the city of Shanghai features over 200,000 CCTV cameras. Russia has seen extensive use of CCTV. At Moscow’s Central Station, there are over 70 cameras in operation. Similarly, there are CCTV cameras in all of the Moscow Subway System’s carriages. As a result, it is seen that there has been an increase in efforts to implement video surveillance by Governments.

The World has seen increased adoption of the internet among its peoples. The internet provides a platform for people to share information freely, amongst themselves. This is facilitated through websites, emails or instant messaging. Governments have been threatened by this free flow of information. For instance, dissidents may use the internet as a platform for sharing information on plots against governments. As a result, there has been increased surveillance of internet traffic in the world. This is especially true for the United States. In the US, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act allows for all forms of internet communication to be monitored by Federal agencies in real time. To achieve these obligations, Governments have established cybernetic police on the federal level. Organizations such as the FBI and DHS portray this. For the United States, the information collected is too vast for manual analysis. Automated systems, which sift through the collected data, have been developed. Automated analysis is done through a search for trigger words on review of whether a suspect has viewed certain websites. An example of such a system is ECHELON.

The Private Sector has conducted surveillance of internet users. To finance most websites, the owners allow third parties to post advertisements on their pages. However, third parties know little about the site’s viewers, limiting the advertisement’s effectiveness. To determine a person’s interests, websites store tracking cookies in that person’s computer. A tracking cookie is a text file that stores a user’s browsing history. These files are usually stored on a discreet temporary folder. As a result, websites feature advertisements that are related to a person’s web browsing history.

Google Maps is a revolutionary platform. It enables users to access the world’s geographical information at no cost. Similarly, it allows marketers a great source of information. Google Maps features tracking of its users. As a result, marketers are able to determine where a user is located. They are, therefore, able to target web users from different countries in an appropriate way. A person’s location may be used to determine their level of economic empowerment. Marketers are, therefore, able to streamline their promotional material to people of different economic levels.

Telephones are an indispensable tool in communication. Thanks to the development of technology, they have evolved into mobile phones and smartphones. Phones offer communication to users through SMS, calls or access to the internet and email. In the United States, law requires that all telephone communications be available for law-enforcement agencies to tap. To facilitate this, institutions such as the FBI send out ‘National Security Letters.’ These documents order phone companies such as AT&T and Verizon to give information relating to call metadata to them. To monitor such calls, Federal agencies use speech-to-text systems that provide a written outline of the call (Lianos, 2003).

Surveillance of mobile phones is common throughout the world. In Germany, law requires that mobile communications operators, such as T-Mobile, should maintain extensive user meta-data. Such meta-data includes the number called, the time of call, its duration, the networks used and the geographical locations of the two parties (Leistert, 2012). To determine the geographical location of a mobile phone, a technique known as multi-alteration is used. It involves the calculation of difference in time for a call to reach its destination and back. A more effective tool is silent SMS, also referred to as ‘ping’. The German authorities have used silent SMS to determine people’s locations. They also use it to determine whether people’s phones are in an on or off state. However, the silent SMS does not inform the phone’s owner of its existence (Andrejevic, 2006).

Social Media refers to platforms used by people to interact and share information, on a personal and public scale. Examples of such platforms are Facebook and Twitter. Social media has proven effective in sharing of information in a society. The Arab Spring protests provide a good instance of this. As a result, authorities have put more focus in monitoring dissidents through these sites. To enable this, governmental agencies have carried out social network analysis. In this process, the institutions create maps of social networks and user’s interactions. They then carry out data mining, to isolate useful information from unnecessary details. This enables law-enforcement agencies to identify distinct groups such as dissidents or even activists.

Data mining is the process of studying data from different sources and compiling the sources into useful information. The corporate world has used data mining extensively. Financial transactions have necessitated storage of large amounts of data such as credit card records and purchases. Any transaction carried out by an electronic device is stored in a server somewhere. The government also stores large amounts of data through its agencies. Information stored may be related to tax returns, criminal records or court records. As a result, parties with access to such records may carry out data profiling. Data profiling enables one to establish a person/group’s traits, based on behavioral patterns (Blanchette, 2002).

There has been increased use of biometric surveillance over the years. For instance, some companies require biometric information before allowing people into their premises. This is similar for sensitive State installations in various countries. Furthermore, biometrics has enabled State actors to have better control over society. Using fingerprinting and fingerprint databases, law enforcement can identify a person who was at a specific location. This is also true for DNA fingerprinting. CCTV cameras now feature facial recognition features. As a result, law enforcement agencies are able to identify people participating in protests and other offences. Advances in technology have enabled the development of scanners. Such tools can identify vehicle registration plates give up their owners. Various Governments have invested in behavioral biometrics. In consequence, Government agencies are able to discover a person’s emotional state at a particular time. This is done through image capture by cameras and facial processing by advanced systems.

A drone is an unmanned aircraft that is operated by a person on the ground. Drones are usually small in nature and feature cameras or even arms. Such vehicles have proven themselves effective in the discreet monitoring of targeted individuals, by Governments and their agencies. America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses a fleet of drones to monitor critical infrastructure, and the US population. Similarly, the United Kingdom is building a fleet of surveillance drones. Their drones will be used by their police forces in combating criminal activity. The private sector has also embraced drone surveillance techniques. In 2013, Deutsche Bahn, a German railway operated deployed surveillance drones in various railway stations. The private sector does this for mostly security purposes, such as protecting their infrastructure.

There are numerous satellites orbiting the earth at any instance. Some of these are Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. These devices enable law enforcement and private entities to track people’s locations. For instance, smartphones with GPS can be tracked using applications such as Google’s Latitude on the Android platform. Similarly, vehicles fitted with GPS receivers can be tracked by their owners. For instance, GPS satellites track cash in transit vehicles. Satellites also enable imagery of the earth. They provide high-resolution images that penetrate clouds. Such images can also detect built-up areas and presence of chemical substances (Burns, 2007).

Use of identification cards is one of the oldest forms of State surveillance. Other documents that may be used are passports, driver’s licenses or social security cards. With the development of technology, identity cards have featured magnetic stripes and electronic chips. Before entry into some institutions, people are required to give their ID or social security numbers. As a result, the institutions can keep track of who entered their premises. RFID tags are small electronic devices that are used for tracking products, or people. They are read using radio waves from a proximity of a few meters. For surveillance needs, the private sector has tagged some of its workers. These tags are used for identity verification as well as access control. However, human rights activists have argued that RFID tags are a breach of human rights.

The Internet has established itself as a platform for surveillance. A file posted on the internet is hardly erasable. As a result, people may search the internet for information related to background checks. Similarly, the Private Sector has turned surveillance into an industry. Companies such as Choice Point hold confidential information related to people. As a result, such companies provide prospective employers a terrific tool for background checks on job applicants.

Due to efforts, by States, to monitor their societies, there has been a rise in complaints citing breach of the right to privacy. As a result, people in various countries have adopted various techniques to counter increasing state surveillance. Because of the large number of CCTV cameras in Britain, dissidents are vandalizing such infrastructure. Their efforts have been relatively successful in decreasing State surveillance. Because of internet restrictions, especially in countries like China, people are turning to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for uncensored access. People use software like Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) or the Tor Browser to view restricted content. Such software enables them to bypass State internet restriction and surveillance tools (Leistert, 2012).

Because of frequent tapping of their phones, people are turning to alternative platforms to make calls. Dissidents in Syria and Iran use Skype and Viber to make calls to each other, therefore, escaping the State’s dragnet. People, concerned about their safety, are moving away from text-messaging services. Activists and dissidents, in countries like Bahrain, have switched to secure platforms such as Blackberry messenger (BBM) and WhatsApp to send messages. Such platforms are hosted securely on foreign soil, therefore, limiting state access to the message contents (Leistert, 2012).















Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Pantheon Books.

CCTV User Group (2011). Two million cameras in the UK. CCTV Image, (42), 10-12. Retrieved from

Leistert, O. (2012). Resistance against Cyber Surveillance Within Social Movements and How Surveillance Adapts. In Surveillance and Society  (9th ed., pp. 441-456). Retrieved from,d.aWM

Koskela, H. (2003). Cam-era- The Contemporary Urban Panopticon. In Surveillance and Society (1st ed., pp. 292-313). Retrieved from,d.aWM

Lianos, M. (2003). Social Control after Foucault. In Surveillance and Society (1st ed., pp. 412-430). Retrieved from,d.aWM

Editorial. The Growth of CCTV: a global perspective on the international diffusion of video surveillance in publicly accessible space. (2004). In C. Norris (Ed.), Surveillance and Society (2nd ed., pp. 110-135). Retrieved from,d.aWM

Blanchette, J.-F., & Johnson, D. (January 01, 2002). Data Retention and the Panoptic Society: The Social Benefits of Forgetfulness. The Information Society, 18, 1, 33-45.

Andrejevic, M. (2006). The Discipline of Watching: Detection, Risk, and Lateral Surveillance. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 23, 5, 391-407.

Burns, D. R. (2007). Virtual borders and surveillance in the digital age. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 3, 3, 325-341.




















Role of State and Local Law Enforcement and the Private Sector

Maintenance of security is important for any society to prosper. There are many institutions responsible for this in different countries. In the United States, security duties are shared at the federal, state and local levels. At the federal level, bodies such as the Department of Homeland Security work to defend against terrorist threats. For effectiveness in these operations, federal security organs have developed partnerships with local and state security institutions. The importance of such partnerships is underlined by the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Inability of security institutions in the country to share information is stated as one of the reasons why the attacks succeeded. The role of state and local police institutions is, therefore, crucial in achieving homeland security[1].

There are various ways that the Department of Homeland Security shares information with State and Local police. The term ‘fusion’ refers to management of information flow between various security organs in the country. Following execution of the 9/11 Act, State and Local Fusion centers were established. The role of these institutions is to share information regarding terrorist and criminal activities, as well as any other hazards. Parties such as Federal security institutions, state and local police take part in Fusion Centers. Private sector entities, that own critical infrastructure, also take part in the Fusion centers. The federal government significantly values these institutions and regards them as a national priority.[2]

In consequence, the government provides them with workforces, financial and technical support. To guide the government’s efforts, the DHS was designated as the custodian of such entities. In March of 2009, it was estimated that there existed 70 fusion centers across the countries. The DHS allocated 34 of its operations specialists to the centers, to offer a link between the two bodies. The 9/11 Act also gave rise to the ITACG. The mandate of this body is to provide a platform for security organs to share information in the NCTC. The ITACG achieves this by allowing state and local police officers the opportunity to serve in the NCTC, alongside federal officers. Therefore, it enables local organs access to federally coordinated intelligence information.[3] Following the 9/11 attacks, local police forces have adopted an approach centered on intelligence, rather than criminal investigations[4]. To assist in these efforts, local police forces have adopted Community Policing. Through this approach, police officers are able to network with their constituents. This strategy enables them to gain trust from the locals as well as knowledge of the people living there. As a result, there is an influx of relevant information from the locals, to the police. Therefore, local police act in first responder and first preventer roles in homeland security. For instance, a local police officer uncovered a homegrown jihadist threat.

The Private Sector owns and manages a majority of American critical infrastructure. Such resources include telephone and railway networks, banking, manufacturing, water and electricity supplies. In consequence, the government has stepped up its efforts to share information with private security intelligence. As a result, an executive order was used to create the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC). The council usually consists of CEO’s from related companies. Through this platform, the Secretary to the DHS is availed up-to-date information regarding the nation’s critical infrastructure. One of the roles of the NIAC has been the development of Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISAC) in the private sector. Through ISACs, different companies have been able to share information with their peers and government agencies, regarding the state of critical infrastructure and threats to them. Through these institutions, the private sector plays a relevant role in homeland security efforts.[5]















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Bloom, Stephanie C. “The Department of Homeland Security: Past, Present and Future.” Praeger Security International. Last modified 2013.!.

Collins, Pamela A., and Ryan K. Baggett. “Private Security Intelligence and Homeland Security.” Praeger Security International. Last modified 2013.

Cordner, Gary, and Kathryn Scarborough. “Connecting Police Intelligence with Military and National Intelligence.” Praeger Security International. Last modified 2013.

United States. “Fusion Center Guidelines Developing and Sharing Information and Intelligence in a New World: Guidelines for Establishing and Operating Fusion Centers at the Local, State, Tribal, and Federal Level: Law Enforcement Intelligence Component.” Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2005. <>.

Werther, Guntram A. “Fusion Centers and Beyond: The Future of Intelligence Assessment in an Information Deluged Era.” Praeger Security International. Last modified 2013.

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[1] United States, “Fusion Center Guidelines Developing and Sharing Information and Intelligence in a New World: Guidelines for Establishing and Operating Fusion Centers at the Local, State, Tribal, and Federal Level: Law Enforcement Intelligence Component,” (2005).

[2] Guntram Werther, “Fusion Centers and Beyond: The Future of Intelligence Assessment in an Information Deluged Era,” Praeger Security International, Last modified 2013.

[3] Stephanie Bloom, “The Department of Homeland Security: Past, Present and Future,” Praeger Security International, Last modified 2013.!.

[4] Gary Cordner and Kathryn Scarborough, “Connecting Police Intelligence with Military and National Intelligence,” Praeger Security International, Last modified 2013,


[5] Pamela Collins and Ryan Baggett, “Private Security Intelligence and Homeland Security,” Praeger Security International, Last modified 2013,


Analytical Essay


Analytical Essay






Analytical Essay

Hollywood is the capital of the American film industry. Many, if not all, of Hollywood films are viewed around the world. Hollywood features expansive film studios. Such studios have vast resources that enable them to produce films of high standards. As a result, these Hollywood firms dominate the global film production industry. Consequently, Hollywood has managed to export American culture to other countries. In some societies, the American norms have been accepted, while, in others they have been condemned. It is argued that America wishes to gain recognition and new ties with other societies by exporting its culture, through its films. To maintain its status-quo as a global superpower, America has continuously adapted films released by its studios for various markets (McCrisken, T. B., & Pepper, A., 2005).

Production of films is of great importance to our societies. Films are widely regarded as the representation of a society’s culture. It is important to note that the art of film making is unitary. It combines nearly all art forms into a single experience for the audience. Film is an important medium for social history. It provides a platform for future exposure to the respective audiences. Similarly, films have a great impact on societal culture. They greatly impact the society on various questions such as class, gender and race. Following the globalization of different markets, films are easily distributable.

The art of film making now reaches many audiences across the world. It is often said that good films are not hindered by a language barrier. As a result, markets like China have become crucial to the Hollywood Film Industry’s success. Currently, the Chinese movie market is second only to the United States. In the year 2012, it grossed revenues exceeding $10 billion (Motion Picture Association of America, 2011). However, the market is poised to overtake the United States as the premier market. This is attributable to the Chinese mainland’s increased income per capita. The Chinese growth rate stands at around 6.5 percent.

Chinese society is rather distinct from the Western norms. First, it is important to note China’s political underpinnings. The country is a socialist state. Consequently, there exists a great sense of mutuality between the Chinese people. The Chinese culture is relatively conservative. As a result, there exists a broad line between what are acceptable and unacceptable norms. This has extended to artistic content such as films. It is common for some scenes in Hollywood films to be censored or adapted for viewing in mainland China. The Chinese society follows a naturalistic way of life. Consequently, there exists a sense of simplicity. Therefore, the notion of class is difficult to come by. In recent times, the modernization of China has led to a growth in the middle-class population. This has resulted in greater demand for Hollywood productions.

Chinese culture upholds family relations. It is especially important to note them as defined by Confucian ethics. Consequently, the Chinese uphold a moral standard of mutual dependence. It is therefore clear that, the notions of success and failure are mutual to the society. China is a dominantly male society. However, strides have been made in sharing out the gender roles. China is a relatively multicultural society. It consists of the Han, Tibetans, the Mongols, Russians and Korean peoples, amongst others. It is therefore a society that places little importance to racial backgrounds. The various races in Chinese are well integrated.

Due to better distribution efforts, many blockbuster films from Hollywood have made their way into the Chinese market. For instance, action movies such as Pearl Harbor and Fast Five have achieved relatively great success to contrary expectations. The film Pearl Harbor details an American perspective of earlier historical events in World War 2. It tells of the Japanese attack on the Hawaiian Island of Pearl Harbor in 1942. The movie was directed by Michael Bay and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Following its release in 2001, the film was financially successful, despite mixed reviews. The reviews are attributable to various factors. For instance, Randall Wallace, the film’s writer, chose the path of historical inaccuracy. The film expresses the pain and tragedies of war on the American people in its plot.

The film ‘Pearl Harbor’ engages the questions of family, race, class and gender in various ways. In the film, two boys, Rafe McCawley and Danny Walker grow up together and become great friends. During one scene, the boys are playing in an old aircraft. They subsequently start it, to the dismay of Danny’s father when he arrives (Bay, M., Bruckheimer, J., Wallace, R., Affleck, B., Hartnett, J., Beckinsale, K., Bremner, E., … Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Firm), 2001). This shows that there exists a boundary between what children are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to. When Danny’s father orders him to leave, Danny obeys immediately. This shows the great respect that Danny has for his father.

In Chinese family life, there exists strong respect for members of each family. There are actions that each member is allowed to. In Confucian ethics, there exist different types of human relationships. Of importance to us are the sovereign-subject and father-son relations. The father-son relationship exhibits similar characteristics to a sovereign-subject relationship in the Chinese society (C, D. H., 2013). In the film, Mr. Walker hits Danny for wrongdoing. In Chinese culture, this is seen as appropriate. The film goes well with Chinese audiences as they consider a father’s words of more significance than the child’s opinion.

The film ‘Pearl Harbor’ shows great interaction with various political issues of the day. The movie is based on the historical Japanese attack on the American island of Hawaii. In earlier scenes, Pearl Harbor displays Japanese military generals. The film shows how they plan their attacks and explains their reason behind it. It is claimed that they hoped to prevent American forces from entering World War 2. The film also explains that the Japanese forces hoped to receive oil imports from the United States once again, following the attack. However, it shows that the reverse happens to the Japanese geopolitical strategy.  Similarly, the movie shows how the United States plots to attack Tokyo.

The political themes addressed in the film are of historical importance to Chinese audiences. Following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, the Japanese forces pushed into Northern China and occupied it. This resulted into the Sino-Japanese wars. With regards to the World War 2 period, the Chinese also identify with the Japanese as their enemy. The anger in Chinese audiences is attributable to the fact over 20 million Chinese people lost their lives at the hands of the Japanese invaders (Dudden, 2005). Therefore, Pearl Harbor addresses political issues that affected the Chinese during that period of history. In the film, Chinese forces are even shown as they assist the attacked American troops. Therefore, the film’s American political ideologies are relatively compatible with those of a Chinese audience.

In the film, the film addresses the issue of race in a number of conflicting ways. First, it portrays the Japanese people as a bloodthirsty society. Less time is spent on showing the rationale behind the attack on Pearl Harbor. Instead, there is more focus on the Japanese soldiers firing behind machine guns as Tokyo is bombed by the American forces. To alleviate the racial concerns brought forward by the Japanese, the film introduces Doris Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr.). Miller is a ship’s cook who fired an anti-aircraft gun at the attacking Japanese planes in Pearl Harbor. In one scene, the film highlights positive interaction between people of different races. Miller (an African-American) is treated by Evelyn (a white). However, most people serving in the American forces are of white race. African-American individuals are portrayed working in the lesser kitchens and maintenance departments.

In the Chinese society, the film elicited varying reactions. As stated earlier, China is very much a multicultural society. Due to that, racial flare-ups may arise from time to time. In China, the minority races such as the Uyghur people are regarded as ‘culturally inferior’. Similarly, other minorities are treated as ‘barbarians’ (Kyodo News, 2007). The film ‘Pearl Harbor’ taints the Japanese people in a negative light. Due to inconsistencies in history, as depicted by the story line, the film misinforms the current generation of younger Chinese people. Consequently, this may lead to tensions with their Japanese neighbors. Contempt for the Japanese is common in mainland China. For instance, the Japanese people are taunted as ‘Japanese devils’ or ‘little Chinese’ by some.

In many films, women are assigned with a supportive duty. Most decision making lies with the males. The film ‘Pearl Harbor’ portrays the two genders participating in different roles. The women portrayed in the film provide support services to the wounded soldiers, as nurses. They aid in treating them and ensuring their recovery to full health. However, the film goes further. Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale) is placed at the center of two competing men. The film succeeds in portraying male characteristics as a result. For instance, possession, as the two men struggle to win Evelyn’s affection.

In Chinese society, the traditional gender roles are very much upheld. The roles are defined by different generations that inhabited China. To some extent, the gender roles described in Pearl Harbor also apply to the Chinese society. Men possess most of the dominant positions of power in that society. This is in tandem with the Confucian thought of male dominance over the female gender. On the other hand, women mostly participate in household duties, especially in rural China. However, it is important to note that there is a sense of gender blur in China. In Taoist philosophy, the concepts of ying and yang exist. This is carried forward to the gender roles, highlighting their equality. Guthrie (2009) states that, in Chinese urban regions, such as Shanghai, the roles are less defined.

‘Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist’ is a sequel to the action packed ‘Fast and Furious’ street racing films. It was directed by Justin Lin, and first released on April 20, 2011. The film was produced by Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell and Neal Moritz. Chris Morgan is responsible for writing the film’s story. The film was relatively successful, becoming the seventh highest-grossing film in that year. The film revolves around the exploits of O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), as they seek their freedom from legal prosecution. To achieve this, they are required to various objects in the course of the plot. However, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) stands in their path to freedom.

The film achieved relative success in the Chinese movie market. It managed over $40 million in box-office sales, achieving fourth place. In the film, various issues and thematic concerns are raised. Fast five covers cultural and political concerns. Consequently, questions of family, race, class and gender are given broader meaning. However, the film contains very little coverage of history in its plot. The film mainly centers on a car and racing culture. This is depicted through the various high speed chases. Fast five displays politics in its plot as Dominic and his friends attempt to secure his freedom. They are planning a heist, to raise funds for traveling to a country that does not share an extradition treaty with the United States.

The question of race is well covered in the film ‘Fast Five’. The movie features actors from various racial backgrounds. Similarly, the story is cast in Brazil, a highly multicultural society. That sort of diversification enables various audiences to feel included. Consequently, the film achieves greater revenues. In the film, members of different races interact positively. Some characters date and even marry each other. For instance, Gisele Yashar (Gal Gaddot) is attracted to Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang), an Asian. The film takes the role of reconciling various races. This is quite different from the separatist approach that Pearl Harbor takes.

In the Chinese market, Fast five is of great relevance in a racial context. As stated earlier, the Chinese society is a class-based society that discriminates in terms of race, from time to time. The approach taken by the film unites audiences of different backgrounds as the plot unfolds. This is useful in uniting a multicultural society such as the Chinese one. Fast five is different from Pearl Harbor in that, it does not create an object of hate for the Chinese society. However, it is important to note that the film takes a progressive stance towards the aforementioned question. China has a rather conservative society, which is contradictory to the film’s stance. This is another key difference between Fast five and the conservative Pearl Harbor.

Fast five is a film containing few questions on family. At the beginning, Dominic is broken out of custody by his sister Mia, and his friend Brian. Throughout the plot, the three maintain a strong bond that can be described as familial. Similarly, the film features various references to family values. For instance, Dominic Toretto says, “Money will come and go. We all know that. The most important thing in life will always be the people in this room. Right here, right now. Salute, mi familia.” (Lin, J., Diesel, V., Fottrell, M., Moritz, N. H., Morgan, C., Walker, P., Brewster, J., … Universal Studios Home Entertainment (Firm), 2011 )

The depiction of family and its values in the film is important to the Chinese market. China’s culture maintains a strong correlation with the family institution. For instance, one person’s honor and failures extend to his/her respective family members. In Fast Five, Brian achieves entry into the Toretto family through his relationship with Mia. This is similar to Chinese culture.

In the film, there is a great sense of gender balance. Both male and female characters participate in moving the plot forward. For instance, Mia and Brian help each other out in breaking Dominic out of federal custody. The male gender is depicted by confident characters that are able to get the job done, such as Dominic Toretto and Brian Walker. Similarly, the female gender is displayed by smart characters. They are a core part of the plot. Mia and Gisele prove themselves as tough individuals. In the process, they get rid of the notion that action films are a male forte. Characters such as Elena (Elsa Pataky) play an important role in creating gender balance in roles. She is of great assistance to Hobbs as they pursue the fugitives. In this light, it is seen that the question of gender is tackled differently from Pearl Harbor, in this film. There is greater balance and sharing of gender roles in Fast five.

As stated earlier, the Chinese society is highly patriarchal. Therefore, roles are more limited to each gender. However, in urban regions, there is some sense of blur between the roles of male and female individuals. The film’s ideology is relevant to the Chinese society in the urban context. The shared roles between characters like Neves and Hobbs highlights the aforementioned sense of blur.










Bay, M., Bruckheimer, J., Wallace, R., Affleck, B., Hartnett, J., Beckinsale, K., Bremner, E., … Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Firm). (2001). Pearl Harbor. United States: Touchstone Home Video.

C, D. H. (2013). Dragon, image, and demon, or, the three religions of china: Confucianism, buddhism and taoism. S.l.: Hardpress Ltd.

Dudden, A. (2005). Japan’s colonization of Korea: Discourse and power. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Guthrie, D. (2009). China and globalization: The social, economic and political transformation of Chinese society. New York: Routledge.

Kyodo News (2007). Ethnic tensions still a problem in China: report – Retrieved from

Lin, J., Diesel, V., Fottrell, M., Moritz, N. H., Morgan, C., Walker, P., Brewster, J., … Universal Studios Home Entertainment (Firm). (2011). Fast five. Universal City, CA: Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

McCrisken, T. B., & Pepper, A. (2005). American history and contemporary Hollywood film. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.

Motion Picture Association of America. (2011). Theatrical market statistics 2011. Washington, D.C.: Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.









A speech is an important part of any presentation. It offers the listeners an opportunity to reflect on the important points that are being highlighted during any presentation. It forms a significant element of persuasion and persuasive communication as points and opinions are raised. Before engaging in any presentation, I learnt that the method of delivery enables the presenter and the listeners understand significant content considering the weight of the points as well as an opportunity for responsiveness. The introduction of any speech begins with a relevant aspect, that of identifying the purpose of the presentation. The overview contains supportive points that will enable any listener to make relevant connections and acquire subjective and objective opinions regarding the information. A conclusion is also important since it creates an overview of the entire points and ensures that people understand the significance underlying the structure. The academic and personal context of speech writing draws relevance to the design and approach of communication skills that may improve the understanding of the audience.

Ethics in persuasion and communication is an important aspect that any presenters should consider when relaying a speech. Evidently, the diversity of culture, administration, and social orientation affects the probability of absolute ethical standards. Although people are granted the freedom of speech in different countries, the likelihood of a group working towards ethical correspondence is quite limited. Ethical decision-making involves ensuring that any undertaken ventures consider the culture and social orientation of each group member. Therefore, the concept of truthfulness is applied to work for all members. On the other hand, failure to ensure truthfulness leads to undesirable outcomes and acts as a communication barrier. Each member of a group is required to carry out relevant research and ensure they produce truthful and evidence based results. I believe that truthfulness is a quality that should be valued if any group is to succeed.















Consequences of War on Drugs

The main approaches adopted in dealing with the menace of drugs include prohibition, legislation, extradition and other similar approaches. Most of these approaches have failed to yield substantial results as the issue persists. Provided there is a constant demand for illegal narcotics, supply-side approaches cannot be instituted to reduce delivery and stop drug abuse. Regardless of the capacity and financing allocated to supply-side approaches in the last decades, the amount of reduction in drug consumption in the United States and other drug-prone countries has not been congruent. Most of the countries that have realized little change include Russia, Mexico, Afghanistan, Brazil, and Afghanistan. These approaches have instead facilitated an increase in the consumption of drugs.

Politically, the war on drugs has forced many drug rings to employ sophisticated criminal techniques in trafficking and distribution. Aggressive counter-drug strategies have resulted in a virtual arms race that is currently drawing in military and additional police departments. One of the effects of this is a growing bureaucracy.[1] Additional departments are being created; increased funding is being allocated to their budgets and more personnel are being deployed. The unregulated expansion of the state machinery creates additional pressure on the taxpayers. Conversely, a section of the drug traffickers have entrenched themselves in the political system. This has been achieved through development of close connections with the political elite. The current form of drug trafficking has been transferred to the institutional level where it is permitted by the government officials. In this way, such drug cartels can enjoy the protection of the state machinery with little resistance. At the social level, the war on drugs has had the effect of separating family units and dividing communities.

Alternatives Presented

One of the most feasible approaches has been to change the existing supply-side policies. It has been discovered that while they were excellent, they lacked the effectiveness in dealing with the vice. Allowing all the countries to make their own policies has been an important step. Previously, the United States drug policy was being replicated across the rest of the world. These policies were mainly punitive in nature. After several decades, it has been realized that they were ineffective. The resulting policies have been founded around decriminalization of drug trafficking, increased public awareness, therapy, and abuse reduction policies. The extreme versions of these policies have been behind the legalizing drugs such as cannabis in an effort to devalue them.

Another approach has been the eradication of the drug crops that are being cultivated and processed into dangerous drugs. This approach is designed to reduce the prevalence of drugs by stifling the supply. This method has shown significant progress in Russia and China. However, this strategy has not been effectively especially in the last decade. This is because most drug traffickers and distributors have switched to synthetic forms such as methamphetamines and prescription tablets. The shift from traditional drugs such as cocaine and cannabis has rendered this solution much less effective.

Increased cooperation between the different agencies mandated to address the problem of drugs has been deliberated. This strategy has taken the form of joint operations between the military and domestic law enforcement units.[2] The United States has used the cooperation approach in eliminating the top leadership of drug cartels in Mexico, Brazil, and Pakistan. This type of effort was vital in eliminating El Chapo Guzman, one of the notorious drug leaders in Mexico. Over time progressed and the joint effort between different security agencies was able to slow down the power and scope of drug cartels in the country. This made it difficult for drug lords to continue running their illegal businesses. In the span of a decade, the Mexican economy and country’s infrastructure showed signs of growth.[3] This pushed most of the drug production to the countryside; it was eventually reserved for low-level guerilla, and other rebel groups such as FARC and ELN. Conversely, drug peddling consumption in Colombia has persisted because the Americans refused to join their war of drugs. Similarly, states such as Bolivia or Ecuador have resisted any association with Americans. Such states have reached a level where the majority of the public officials are factitively engaged in illicit narcotics trade. Such states need to be sanctioned for their sustained adamancy in exposing their people to safety risks and harmful drugs. The war on drugs can only be finished by ensuring that the supply side has been appropriately stifled.

Feasibility of Proposed Alternatives

            It is evident that tackling the global drug menace using supply-side measures has failed to yield the expected results. Previous efforts have shown that tackling drugs from this angle has only worsened the situation. It has threatened nation security and personal security, as well as other economic activities that include different countries. However, it is still possible to argue that these aggressive supply-side repression measures has resulted in higher drug prices and reduced availability in the market.[4] This has been followed by a sharp drop in drug consumption. This strategy has also been ineffective because the producers either relocate to new locations or resume production after a short period. Therefore, in the long term, drug production resumes to the same levels. The problem with supply-side approaches is they are restricted. The objective of supply-side solutions is currently very narrow and involves containing the symptoms of illicit drug trafficking and state vulnerability. The solution cannot lie in eradication cultivation of crops or interdicting drug criminals. A better alternative would be focus on a long-term solution.

One of the main reasons why most of the supply-side strategies fail to work is that they undermine the legitimate economy. Corruption unavoidably progresses from the massive financial backing that major drug dealers possess at their disposal. The power accompanying these resources allows cartels to insure and grow their illegal trade through bribes to officials across the state hierarchy and instruments including judiciary and police.[5] The extent of this corruption is such that the drug cartels resort to the threat of violence when they encounter individuals unwilling to engage in corrupt activities. In conclusion, it is clear that most of the strategies proposed and implemented over the years have not been effective in dealing with the drug menace. Most of these approaches have been largely theoretical. The few that have been practical also fail to consider the following factors. One, the problem of drugs is currently a global one. Proposing and implementing solutions at a national level will not work. The United States has been trying this strategy for over a decade in most of South America with little outcomes.





Naím, Moisés. “Wasted: The American Prohibition On Thinking Smart in the Drug War.” Foreign Policy 172 (2009): 168.


Shirk, David A. “The Drug War in Mexico.” Council of Foreign Relations (2011): 1-50

[1] David A. Shirk, “The Drug War in Mexico,” Council of Foreign Relations (2011): 45

[2] Moisés Naím,  “Wasted: The American Prohibition On Thinking Smart in the Drug War.” Foreign Policy 172 (2009): 168.

[3] Moisés Naím,  “Wasted: The American Prohibition On Thinking Smart in the Drug War.” Foreign Policy 172 (2009): 168.

[4] Ibid

[5] Moisés Naím,  “Wasted: The American Prohibition On Thinking Smart in the Drug War.” Foreign Policy 172 (2009): 168.

Credit Card





Credit Card

Visa assumes a significant position in the credit card market. Endorsed by more than 8 million merchant accounts, Visa provides benefits that range from conventional perquisites to premium recompenses (Sutton 132). Personal credit cards provided by the company in question provide a broad variety of benefits for holders within the United States and across the globe. Nonetheless, the greatest aspect that positions Visa as a viable option for a credit card involves its ability to avail credit to persons as well as business consumers regardless of the status of their credit rating. Unlike most credit card firms, Visa possesses a platform that allows potential customers to apply and receive their credit cards whether they possess null, bad, or good credit (Sutton 140). In this regard, potential cardholders can attain access to credit irrespective of the restrictive implications that tend to arise from credit ratings.

In terms of aspects such as the interest rates and the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), Visa provides its range of personal and business consumers with a beneficial package that does not expose them to significant debt. Across the credit cards that it avails to its consumers, specifically the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, Visa ensures that its customers incur null charges related to the APR for the first 15 months after opening their respective accounts (Sutton 167). Consequently, interest rates are offered by the company at a minimum of 15 percent (Sutton 167). Based on both aspects, it is evident that the computation of the APR and the interest rates offer a good package for the cardholder, especially if they possess fair credit scores (Sutton 171). As an added benefit, Visa ensures that it provides affordable rates of interest for persons that possess past negative scores in relation to credit.


Work Cited


Sutton, Garrett. The ABC’s of Getting out of Debt: Turn Bad Debt into Good Debt and Bad Credit into Good Credit. BZK Press, 2012.


Assessment Practices for Self-Directed Learning in Language Arts

Assessment Practices for Self-Directed Learning in Language Arts


Institutional Affiliation:


Assessment Practices for Self-Directed Learning in Language Arts

It is important that the students learn how to evaluate their own understanding of the lessons they have participate in. Therefore, it is the duty of the instructor to ensure that they instill this crucial skill in their students. One of the ways that the instructor can achieve this is by having the students ask themselves what they have learned or to answer some questions that follow the material.

The instructor should inform the student that the aim of the lesson is to learn the art of self-evaluation. He should then inform the student what it involves to carry out the activity as well as the procedure during the lesson (Carless, Salter, Yang & Lam, 2011). Moreover, during the lesson the instructor should ask at random what the student has understood from the materials that they have covered so far. Finally, the tutor should assign the student a reading in which they will carry out a self-assessment and submit the results they had.

The best tool that student can use to ensure they master the skills of self-evaluation is to ask themselves questions. The questions will help the student to explore their nature of reading and their comprehension of the material (Afflerbach, 2011). By practicing with several readings, the student will have mastered the skill. Therefore, the fastest and the best way to instill this skill in students is to make them read and then ask themselves questions that will assess their comprehension.

In conclusion, I chose this method because it is easy to understand and to apply. The students only need to be taken through one or two examples of how self-evaluation is carried out before they can comprehend it. Finally, I have used the technique in the past and I have found it quite effective.



Afflerbach, P. (2011). Understanding and using reading assessment, K–12. International Reading Assoc.

Carless, D., Salter, D., Yang, M., & Lam, J. (2011). Developing sustainable feedback practices. Studies in Higher Education36(4), 395-407.





The Age of Modernity





The Age of Modernity

Indeed the 1920s was the age of modernity and growth but the United States of America was still struggling with some issues. The country was doing very well economically and the lives of majority of the Americans were improving. Immigrants were moving in streams in the country because it represented a promise that they could not achieve in their home country. In America, people were guaranteed to earn the fruits of their labor and there were unlimited opportunities for growth. However, that was not the case for the black minority. The black communities were still considered as slaves in most parts of the country and in other parts, they were treated as second-class citizens. The situation was very dire to the pint tat immigrants into the country were given more privileges. On the other hand, the age of modernity was also a period of self-actualization of the black community. They began to understand their right and they started to agitate. Black Nationalism was happening in other parts of the world and it was time for America to follow suit.

One of the people who began to enlighten the black community was Alian Locke. He was a guest editor in a monthly periodical called Survey Graphic. He wrote an article called the New Negro and he sued the platform to champion for Black Nationalism. He urged the black community to unite against the injustices that were prevailed upon them (Garvey 126). Locke was one of the few black Americans who were privileged to attain education at the time. He had attained the level of assistant professorship in English at Howard University. The philosophy of Locke was premised on cultural awareness and he aimed to achieve a nation where no race felt insecure with the prosperity of the other. Locke wanted the White people to understand the plight and the struggles of the black people. He wanted a united America in the face of the struggles.

Locke wanted to empower the black community with political awareness and self-confidence. However, the laws on equality were being disregarded in most of the states in the county. He was inspired buy some of the black empowerment leaders like Marcus Garvey. An empowered black man could stand up for his right (Garvey 123). In most of the occasions, the black people were not aware of the rights and they looked down upon themselves even more than the whites did. Locke was hoping for fair treatment. He wanted more people from the black community to attain a good level of education like him. Locke was one of the early writers of black literature.

In the midst of black empowerment, a force emerged to disrupt the progress that was being made. The Ku Klux Klan was a white supremacist group, which was established to maintain white dominance in America (Evans 18). According to the group, the white people were a superior race and the other races especially blacks were supposed to serve them. The group was vehemently opposed to black empowerment and the stance completely contradicted what people like Locke were trying to achieve. The message of the Ku Klux Klan was a message of division and hate.

The second Klan emerged in the 1920s in the perceived period of modernity. The group was taking the country backward to the period of slavery. Noble efforts by other people that were supposed to unite the country were shadowed by the violent acts of the group. Fear and suspicion began to emerge again in the country. The black community became timid and they reduced their agitation for equality.


Works Cited:

Evans, Hiram Wesley. “The klan: Defender of americanism.” Forum, 1925.

Garvey, Marcus. “1986. The Negro’s Greatest Enemy.” The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey: or Africa for the Africans, Vols. I & II (1923): 124-34.

Johnson Michael. “Reading the American Past, Fifth Edition, Volume II (1865), Boston, 2012.


Principles Defining Freedom of Information Laws in the USA

Principles Defining Freedom of Information Laws in the USA




Principles Defining Freedom of Information Laws in the USA

Understanding the freedom of information (FOIA) laws in the US as currently constituted, requires a historical context. The FOIA is a product of history with each era and constitutional reform since its inception in 1966 adding an importance competent to its scope, therefore, enhancing its utility. Towards remaining true to its founding agenda, the law applies exclusively to the federal executive branch and its corresponding agencies and departments. It facilitates access the public to the records of the respective services of the executive helping promote transparency of the operations of the executive by optimizing accountability. It is the foundation of the public oversight that came into being through congressional subcommittees attempt to simplify access to federal information. While presidential records were not a primary concern to the congressional committees in the 1950s, they had recognized a pattern of misuse of terms such as confidential towards constraining the availability of information about the executive. Even though The US did not necessarily pioneer movement of governmental disclosure, the statute was revolutionary by virtue of its scope and depth relative to its Finnish and Swedish antecedents. The FOI implied that requestors had a presumed access shifting the burden of proof to the government, as the respective agencies must support their reason for denying the requested information. The presumed access has been interpreted differently depending on the presidential administration. The FOIA came into fruition despite intense opposition from the executive even Lyndon B. Johnson ratified it with a measure of reluctance. The resistance persists hence the need for congressional scrutiny to ensure its implementation. The close supervision of FOIA by the Congress has helped its provision to trickle down to the public shifting from its previous status as a luxury reserved for the elements within the legislative function.

The FOIA was enacted in response to domestic pressure to increase government transparency, therefore, enhance good governance. In 1966, after 11 years of development in the House and another six of deliberation in the Senate, FOIA was enacted. The law was expected to become active a year from the date, but it was substituted for a similar statute in June coming into effect on July 4, 1967 (Ginsberg, 2014). Senator John Moss that headed the Congressional committee on government information is accredited for pushing the Bill until its ratification. The resistance in implementation led to a series of amendments with six of the changes arising between from 1974 to 2010 to increase compliance by the federal agencies. The Privacy Act of 1974 was a significant development as it helped the citizens to get information on records on their lives. This was in light of increased scrutiny of government into the personal lives of its citizen’s. In contemporary society, a new wave of accountability has come to the fore demanding enactment of performance measures to evaluate the efficacy of the laws (Stevens, 2010). The need to standardize the laws became necessary given the tendency of each new regime to implement the law differently. The performance measures are still in their growth stage, yet they have helped to facilitate the seamless transition in the implementation of FOIA. Relative to the previous eras that lacked benchmarks, the distinctions between regimes became subtle dictated by the values of the incumbent with the Act’s core remaining practically unchanged. During the Bush administration, federal agencies were cautioned to make disclosure determinations only after a critical analysis of its implications. President Bush endorsed restraint in compliance with requests asserting that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would help to defend an agency’s decision based sound legal fundamentals. The public was given only the minimum compliance. When people go to the court as an individual, they were bound to lose in light of the opponent they were up against with many attorneys among other resources at their disposal. On the other hand, the Obama regime was inclined towards a more open government requiring that departments are forthcoming with information where possible. Disclosure rather restraint was the preferred approach reducing unnecessary opposition that characterized prior eras.

With a rise in civilian requests, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has led in public solicitations accounting for 29.3 % of the entire claims as of 2012. The spike in requests in the department is attributed to growth in immigration to the US, and the accompaniment fortification of security measures (Hazell & Worthy, 2010). Similarly, the rise was consistent with calls for community policing that was only possible in an environment with free flow of information. The relevant personnel in the respective department tasked with responding to the applicants’ queries ought to be adequately funded and properly trained to fulfill their mandate. Similarly, given the controversial nature of declassified information, their protection has to be guaranteed. With the safety assured, they can release documents devoid of fear of physical reprisals. In the wake of an international crisis that evokes patriotism from the nation, the executive would leverage the atmosphere to reduce the powers of the provisions. For instance, resident Bush Jr. Benefited from less scrutiny in the implementation of FOIA as he was cloaked under the 9/11 and subsequent war on terror initiative (LaMay, Freeman, & Winfield, 2013). The judiciary and Congress failed in the capacity as checks and balance as they did not to be perceived as unpatriotic. FOIA has provisions that allow for judicial review when the applicant’s request is unduly denied. The executive tends to withhold information with claims of the records in question can undermine national security. Judicial review can assess the credibility of these assertions. The precedence set in other cases where the judicial review demands disclosure is attributed to the breakthrough in the release J. Edgar Hoover records. While there are provisions to seek mediation or appeal administratively, often the cases end up in court.

The FOI laws scope should reflect the extensive nature of the executive’s activities. Given that the executive has jurisdiction over multiple facets of governance even operations related to other branches of government the subject of the inquiries should be equally vast. The above statement implies that the FOIA law is a very potent tool to people who know to exhaust its full capabilities (Hazell & Worthy, 2010). The officials responsible for it implementation should be made aware of its reality. While citizens should be vigilant of national events, the tool is most effective in when directed to the current affairs within their locality. This tool of inquiry was meant to build accountability of federal agencies from the grassroots leading up to the national scene. Participation in civic duties is best when initiated at the local level towards holding the local leaders accountable. From there the results will be reflected on the national stage.

While the FOI facilitates access to government records, some exemptions persist based on the probability of harm resulting from the disclosure. In the United States, there are nine exemptions articulated in the freedoms of information act. Information that is classified for foreign policy or national defense purpose is out of reach of the public, the Congress notwithstanding. Even the House of representatives requires special approvals to access this data. Information about the internal personnel practices and rules bears no relevance to the external world hence exempt. This provision has brought into question the Obama’s initiative to allow visitor logs to the white house to become public records. Thirdly, the presence of another statute that overrides the FOIA Act, therefore, leaving no discretion on the matter under purview qualifies for exemption. The above laws have established the criteria for the access to the named issues and if the law cited the above exclusion. If the information pertains to trade secrets that would make the private entity in question vulnerable to the competitive forces if revealed. Similarly, if the commercial information were confidential and, public awareness would lead to mass panic such as substantial withdrawal investments from a given organization. Fifthly, letters or memoranda’s that are otherwise unavailable to the public save for demand for disclosure through litigation remained confidential. Files that would amount to the unwarranted invasion of privacy such as medical records transcend the FOIA provision. Records that are constituted exclusively for purposes of law enforcement are excluded from FOIA reach. Information on the regulation of financial institution should equally be protected. The confidentiality of geophysical and geological information of a location completes the ninth exemption.

The essence of the exemptions is to ensure that government’s capability to govern adequately is not compromised. Following the denial of access to requested records, the aggrieved party may appeal to the agency’s head to reconsideration. Failure of this administrative approach demands the entity to seek judicial recourse at the federal district courts. Within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Office of Government Information Services was created to provide a third alternative, mediation. Nonetheless, this is the non-exclusive alternative to litigation is limited to an advisory capacity and is nonbinding (LaMay, Freeman, & Winfield, 2013). The Congress is tasked with supervision of the office of government information. The entity was created courtesy of the OPEN Government Act of 2007. Beyond mediating disputes between federal agencies and FOIA requesters, the agency is mandated with assessing the agencies compliance with the statutes and reviewing the procedures of administrative agencies. They facilitate the training and guidance of the regulatory agencies’ officials running point on the FOIA implementation. Similarly, they can be recommended amendments to Congress and the president towards improving the administration of the statute.

The office is perceived as the FOIA ombudsman, a task where passion for liberties of citizens and freedom of information is the bare minimum. The autonomy of this office is quintessential given the ability of lobby groups to curtail disclosure of information that would subvert their agendas often at the expense of the public (Hazell, & Worthy, 2010). The personality of the ombudsman has the impact of strengthening a weak law and even fortifying a stronger one. It has helped to streamline communication with the Congress, which hitherto its establishment had been constrained. Communication has contributed to mitigate hesitation from agencies as they recognize that the sanctions will be equally swift. The executive as mentioned earlier requires continuous oversight.

The FOI law is an evolving statute that requires reflecting on changes in the situations and technology. For instance, in a period of war data that would be otherwise widely available to the public may be required to be confidential. The Congress should continually probe for the weakness in the statute and work on its deficiencies (Stevens, 2010). For instance, the management of the implementation of IFOA is under deliberation on whether to centralize it to a single entity or leave it under the purview of the different agencies. Nonetheless, the applicants may be denied due to the amount of effort and resources required to retrieve the requested information. In the age of the internet and digital storage, the excuse of inaccessibility is usually perceived as insincere before a court of law. Nonetheless, the departments and agencies should not go to unreasonable lengths in the eyes of a neutral party to accommodate the demands of the applicants. The law cannot compel the government to use resources to retrieving records when they were committed to performing another task. Assembling the requesters’ responses requires utilization of the resource of time by searching for the files and duplicating them to retain them in the system. Record management can be simplified by utilizing technological tools. For instance, smart data movements endorse the creation of an open platform that empowers the public to manage and analyze machine-readable data. The proactive approach is consistent with the supposition of disclosure that the Freedom of Information Act embodies. The cloak of secrecy breeds corruption hence the need for transparency.



Ginsberg, W. (2014). The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): Background, Legislation, and Policy Issues. Library of Congress Washington DC Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from

Hazell, R., & Worthy, B. (2010). Assessing the performance of freedom of information. Government Information Quarterly, 27(4), 352-359.

LaMay, C. L., Freeman, R. J., & Winfield, R. N. (2013). Breathing life into freedom of information laws: the challenges of implementation in the democratizing world. Center for International Media Assistance. Retrieved from

Stevens, G. (2010). The Freedom of Information Act and Nondisclosure Provisions in Other Federal Laws. Library of Congress Washington DC Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from