|Tuesday, 23 November 2004|
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President cracks down on criminals
With President Kumaratunga authorizing the enforcement of the maximum penalty against drug traffickers and dealers, along with those responsible for killings and rapes, we hope the law-enforcers of this country would now show no quarter in their crackdown on these categories of criminals.
The President's decision is proof that the law enforcement agencies have the backing of the highest political authority of the land in their efforts at curbing crime.
We would be guilty of prejudging the case if we see the macabre hand of hard drug dealers or the LTTE in the recent, brutal killing of High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya with no evidence for it, but it goes without saying that all efforts must be made to cripple and to bring to book those responsible for the fast-spreading evil of murder hard drug abuse, rape, and robbery in this country.
The Police Narcotics Bureau has been doing a good job thus far in going after drug rings and their agents but the problem couldn't be brought within containable limits until the "God Fathers" and kingpins in this wasting cancer are brought to justice. We do not see how the evil of drug abuse could be ended until the powerful personalities behind its proliferation are nabbed and subjected to criminal proceedings.
The urgency of cracking-down on the drug blight has been highlighted by the entry into the local "market" of newer varieties of hard drugs with increasing potency.
The latest such killer to stalk this land is 'Ecstasy', which is believed to be a great delight among some young persons frequenting night clubs and nerve centres of promiscuous behaviour. We call on the authorities to be unrelenting in their crackdowns on such sources of vice and criminal behaviour.
Not only should there be no let-up in the efforts of the police to neutralize and incapacitate these sources of hard drug abuse but they need to also go all out to nab and bring to book, as said before, those behind the hard drug trade in this country. In this exercise the authorities are also required to act without fear or favour.
The success of these initiatives hinges considerably on the personal rectitude and professional capability of our law enforcers. They need to act with their ears to the ground and should infiltrate these criminal networks but should be free of the taint of complicity with these hard drug pushers and of the terrible blight of corruption. In the days gone by we had officers in the Police Vice Squad who were exemplary in this regard.
It is our wish that these traditions would be continued in the crackdown on hard drug rings. We earnestly call on our sleuths to be fearless and brave in supporting the President in her battle against crime.
Inventing the future
Most of us love to sing, but not in public. The bathroom is the refuge that most can think of to sing away. But one invention lets us sing to our heart's content - and we don't even have to remember the words.
It's called the Karaoke machine. The idea is simplicity itself - we see the lyrics on a video screen and we can sing along as the lyrics are highlighted word by word. Karaoke, meaning "empty orchestra" in Japanese, is older than we think - Daisuke Inoue invented it in 1974. It became an instant hit in Japan and later, around the world.
Inoue, who never patented his invention, has shown us that inventions need not be complex or magical to woo consumers. He just put together several elements that already existed to make Karaoke a finished product. Television, microphones, records - all these existed way before 1974. It was the same with Sony's now-ubiquitous Walkman. Stereo tapes and headphones were widely available by 1978, but there was no device that combined the portability of the two.
The Walkman did just that - and the concept of 'personal stereo' was born. Like Karaoke, it too became an instant worldwide hit. The basic Walkman has now mutated into iPods and other digital music players, but the basic idea is still the same.
The camcorder, another such invention, has changed a lot over the last 20 years. It too combines a video camera and a tape recorder - technologies that existed long before 1984 - in one neat device.
Necessity, they say, is the Mother of Invention. This was generally true in the days of Thomas Alva Edison, the great inventor who created a myriad of devices which we still cannot do without. Radio and television arose because there was a need to communicate without wires. The refrigerator was needed to keep foods fresh.
But this axiom is no longer strictly true. Karaoke machines, Walkmans, camcorders and the like are not essential for our lives. We can live perfectly without them. Or can we ? This is where consumer electronics companies have succeeded deftly in capturing our hearts and emptying our wallets. These innovations have become part and parcel of our lives. We take them for granted. They have also become cheaper over the years and even integrated with other inventions - a Karaoke machine lurks inside most DVD players.
There will be no end to invention and innovation, no matter how useless or mundane they appear to be. Little did Inoue think that his new machine would be a worldwide sensation. Likewise, an invention perfected today could take the world by storm in a decade from now. It may not be crucial for our lives, but it could adorn our lifestyles.
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