|Monday, 22 November 2004|
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Enforce the law rigorously and fairly
The outrageous and brutal killing of High Court judge Sarath Ambepitiya in broad daylight at his residence on Friday, has stunned the country and spurred the authorities into initiating tough law and order measures against the current, rampant lawlessness.
Among the measures that are expected to take immediate effect is the death penalty, which was always in the Statue Books but not enforced in this country.
So, there is no question of 're-introducing' the death penalty; the issue is to enforce it and that decision the Government has taken. Almost the entirety of the public would agree with the authorities that the law and order situation in Sri Lanka today calls for the stringent and impartial enforcement of the law.
In fact, it is long overdue and it could be clearly seen that lax law enforcement is a dominant factor in the rampant lawlessness which has enveloped the country.
It wouldn't be also denied that the country has thus far been on a wayward course as regards law enforcement. "One step forward and two steps backwards" seems to be our record on the question of implementing the law or enforcing it. Any more dilly-dallying on these questions would prove fatal.
The cold-blooded murder of High Court Judge Ambepitiya proves this beyond all doubt. We call on the law-enforcers, therefore, to discharge their duties with the utmost rigour and impartiality.
However, runaway crime is a complex problem which requires discreet disentangling. While lax law enforcement is certainly a principal causative factor in the rise in crime, problems such as rampant bribery and corruption and Laws Delays have contributed substantially towards the breakdown of law and order.
We are glad that President Kumaratunga has called for quick, decisive action on all these fronts to ensure that the administration of the law is effected without much hassle. On both these problems - that is, corruption in public life and Laws Delays - drastic measures need to be taken and that too without further delay.
We call on the Government to stand firm on these issues. Governments just cannot afford to falter and be seen as weak in the face of evil. If it does so, it will be as good as encouraging evil and giving it free rein. Nor is there much time for hair-splitting over abstract issues. The criminal needs to be deterred by the fact that he would be reaping his just desserts if his actions incur suffering for his fellow humans.
However, equal attention needs to be paid by the authorities to crime-prevention measures. They need to be proactively involved in this sphere.
On your feet
Conventional thinking has it that Man became the dominant species thanks to his oversized brain. Two US scientists are now literally standing up with a theory that turns this notion on its head.
According to the novel theory put forward by University of Utah biologist Dennis Bramble and Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University's Peabody Museum, the early ability to run for long distances was the key to Homo sapiens' survival.
They say that endurance running which evolved in our forebears some two and a half million years ago helped them hunt and scavenge for vital protein in the African savannah.
The ability to run for long distances, sometimes dozens of kilometres (miles) per day, is not seen in any other primate. Early Homo may have needed to run long distances to compete with other scavengers, including other hominids.
Their study, published last Thursday in the British science journal Nature, points to more than two dozen characteristics that help humans to run long distances.
This is a fresh insight into human evolution. Anthropologists have always contended that advanced mental capabilities helped Man to overcome obstacles in his way and rise to the top. But the two researchers do have a point.
Man's ability to walk - and run - upright is an equally important factor. His long legs are designed for lengthy strides and the feet arch act like a spring.
The foot can store 17 per cent of the energy that comes from contact with the ground by running and release this coiled-up energy with the next step, thus helping to reduce energy needs. These could have been important features in the wild.
Other researchers have already shown that Man also developed the ability to sprint for short distances, especially to get away quickly from certain predators. A combination of walking, sprinting and endurance running probably helped early humans to gain the upper hand.
Over a few millennia, humans have lost the streak for long distance running. Only the extremely physically fit can, say, finish a Marathon. The first humans evolved in Africa. Africans still remain the best long distance runners in the world. Could there be a vestigial link between these two phenomena ?
There is no doubt that we are all "fully-equipped" for walking and running. The hours spent walking and running to get food may have inadvertently boosted the health prospects of the early humans, for these are two of the best forms of exercise.
Today, both have more or less become fitness fads, but it appears that they have helped us to conquer the world.
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