Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Charting a path for freedom

Freedom is considered the very basic foundation of the American civilization. The universal values of liberties and civil rights are always regarded with esteem in the US constitution which has these values embedded in it in the shape of the Bill of Rights – the first ten ratified amendments in the constitution of United States of America. This bill is also known as the Charter of Freedom which restricts the state to pass any laws that may impinge the individual liberties of people. Although throughout its history it has seen many violations, just as the Patriot Act today enacted only six weeks after September 11 by President Bush to obstruct terrorists’ activities is infringing not only the citizens’ rights but also allows a racial treatment of immigrants, treating them all as ‘suspected’ terrorists. The Bill of Rights still has a supreme value in the eyes of the people of America. Many a civil liberties groups are struggling to restore the supremacy of Bill of Rights to stop the encroachment of fundamental freedoms granted by this Bill.

When the United American colonies declared independence through the famous Declaration of Independence document on July 4, 1776, the main aim of this was to get themselves free from the tyrannies of the British colonials. Thirteen north American states joined for this cause and the revolutionary war with the Britain masters began. At this time the Articles of Confederation, passed on November 15, 1777, served as a founding governing document for the incipient union of these 13 states which later came to be known as a loose confederation.

After securing independence in 1783 when the freedom war was won, the first and the natural inclination of the Americans was to make their own constitution. Initially, the Articles of Confederation was serving as the constitution of US, but later many Congressmen and citizens complained of its inefficiency in dealing the constitutional matters properly and to protect rights of people due to its inherent weaknesses. Consequently after four years from 1783, the United States Constitution was created in 1787.

The Constitution composed then through the Constitutional Convention of 1787 had to be ratified by at least nine states before it could earn a status of a statute law. The Federalists – who wanted a strong central government – supported the ratification, while the Anti-Federalist – who wanted more power for the states, and to run the government under the Articles of Confederation – were opposed to it. When the Convention had drafted the final version of the Constitution, there was no presence in it of a rights bill or a document of the similar nature.

The reason behind the Anti-Federalists opposition to the ratification was that the constitution could not protect the rights of the individuals and that the republican form of government could not be successful in America. Naturally, therefore, the idea of the Bill of Rights was cordially accepted and advocated by the anti-Federalists.

After the first Congress met in 1789, most of the delegates agreed that the Bill of Rights is needed. The responsibility to draft one such legislation was put on the shoulders of James Madison, who is now considered the father of the Constitution. One odd thing about Madison, who was a Federalist, was that previously he rejected the idea of a rights' bill but later he was convinced of its inevitability.

To draft the US bill of rights, Madison took inspiration from the English Bill of Rights, 1689; Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776 and the famous English political document Magna Carta, 1215. Many of its provisions were influenced by these bills. Out of 42 provisions suggested by Madison, only 10 came into effect on December 15, 1791, when approved by three-fourth of the states.

All of the ten Bill of Rights Amendments exclusively deal with the citizens’ rights as regard to the state. However, the ninth and tenth Amendment hold a peculiar position as they deem those rights and powers which are not mentioned in the Rights Bill. Other Amendments restrict the government to pass any laws that may trespass the freedom of the people. These Amendments give to the citizens the freedom of speech, press, religion, peaceable assembly, and to petition the government; recognize the right of people to keep and bear arms as well as to maintain a militia; protect from quartering of troops; and unreasonable searches and seizures; also make it a prerequisite that no person shall be deprived of life, property or liberty without due process of law; ensure the fair trial by jury of the accused; and prohibit excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment .

The ninth amendment in originality is a profound provision in it self. As only 10 out of 42 rights provisions devised by Madison were accepted in the Bill of Rights so it was impossible to include everything pertaining to natural rights of people in that Bill. To deal with this situation, the ninth amendment was to become an inquisitive part of the Bill. It says the, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

However, the tenth amendment does not technically acknowledge any rights. It is particularly related with the governmental powers not enlisted in the Constitution that these are the powers reserved to the states and to the people of these states. An example of the tenth amendment right is that there are states in America that determine the rules for marriage, divorce, taxes, etc, in their respective precincts.

What is peculiar about the Bill of Rights is that it propounds the philosophy of freedom by giving a freehand to the people to be secure in their persons and giving them a free will to express themselves and to worship anyone; and mandating the easy access to fair justice for all. It is considered a landmark of the US constitution, and with its legacy of over 215 years for which many a life of American soldiers were sacrificed to gain independence from the British rule to make an independent constitution of their own, this piece of legislation still stands for the people’s rights.

Note: This article appeared earlier in the print version of Dawn Newspaper by Nauman Lodhi

Economic fascism in American History

In a state of turmoil, victimized by the greatest of economic crisis the world has ever seen that not only ruined the economic life of masses but also endangered the very existence of capitalism and democracy in America, President Franklin D. Roosevelt came into power with some ‘new plans’ to deal with the Great Depression of 1929. These emergency plans had been given the historic name of ‘New Deal’ program.

Although the state’s intervention in the economic affairs of the country was not considered wise, even the progressive movements – advocating federal government’s regulation of businesses – rooted in the late nineteenth century and strengthened in the early 20th century, accepted the doctrine of minimum interference in the free economy of US. But Roosevelt, in his emergency plans to bring America back to the wheels of progress, had taken some intense measures during his presidency which are subjected to moot even today to know whether he was right or he had chosen the wrong path. Was he a radical socialist who bridled the private enterprises moving on their own; whether he stabilized the crippled economy through his New Deal moves; whether he was excessive in his approach to bring social justice; is there any good lesson that is bequeathed by his governance – these are the questions that probably lurk in the mind of every student of history but are very perplexed in nature to be answered in any conclusive manner.

The stock market crash of October 29, 1929 in the US brought a worldwide economic slump. In America, the number of unemployed workers was swiftly rising. When the then serving president, Herbert Hoover, left his office in 1933 about one-fourth of the labor force was idle. And between 1929 and 1933, 100,000 businesses had to close their operations which resulted in the fall of GNP to the half its original value. During the 1930s the Great Depression started displaying its ghastly effects and the common people started criticizing the federal government to directly intervene in the whole state of affairs in order to correct the existing trends.

The government of Herbert Hoover initially believed that it was the job that should be done through associationalism: business and industrial organizations working in unison under the guidance of the federal government to right the wrongs done by the worsening Great Depression. His strategy didn’t work and he was compelled to do more on part of the government. Even then there was no respite which resulted in his failure in the next elections and paved the way for the Democrats to continuously dominate the Congress for the next 20 years or so. After the departure of Herbert Hoover, Roosevelt assumed the presidential position in 1933 and was more willing to take direct and immediate actions to cope with the worsening Great Depression effects than his predecessor was. Due to his notions of ‘greater intervention’ by federal government some feared that he would socialize the country, though others wished him to do so. But he acted contrary to either of the sides expectations.

There is a large amount of criticism leveled against Roosevelt that his New Deal was radical, although it has little grounding given the fact that in his initial reforms through the National Recovery Administration (NRA) the little businesses had been more disadvantageous as the big businesses relatively easily managed the trade restrictions set by the government. Also it was the poor farmers who had to bear the brunt of the whole juggernaut when they had to destroy their crops under the directives of Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) which rendered many of them homeless. However, the second New Deal programs, to probably ensure financial security of blue collar workers, were more pro-labor which included the Wagner Act provisions that allowed trade unionization and thus became an obvious cause of business community’s sequester. Labor issues besides the rampant racism did result in severe dichotomy in the American social life, which should have been avoided.

The question that whether Roosevelt had done something remarkable to stabilize economy and to save capitalism is answered in the affirmative by the fact that he appropriated $3.3 billion for public works only in 1933. The number of unemployed workers reduced to 9 million in 1936 than it was 13 million in 1933. It was definitely a huge breakthrough. The Big Bill passed through Emergency Relief Appropriation Act (ERAA) also provided $4 billion for public works. These figures are a clear indication that Roosevelt’s policies were better than any worse that could had happened under the unbridled capitalism at that tumultuous time.

There is less disagreement that Roosevelt was driven by a desire to create a welfare state. However, he was not vastly successful in this aim. Although various efforts were employed to provide relief to the citizens but the racist elements, even in his own party, didn’t tolerate the emancipation of the American blacks and the treatment with them as the equal citizens of US which seriously obstructed such moves. Preference was given to whites in each respite available. The economic downturn at a massive scale also didn’t allow the government to do much for the welfare of the citizens.

Although many of the acts promulgated at the time of FDR were proscribed by the courts, the legacy of Roosevelt’s social and economic reforms in the shape of Social Security system and the Security and Exchange Commission is still a core part of the US economic fabric. Through these measures the social service to the people became possible and corrupt practices at the stock market were scrutinized meticulously. These are indeed the valid and the desired laws even today. Their presence, especially of the social security system, is a psychological bulwark for the citizens as these are always willing to support them if the wolfish capitalism leaves them alone in their troubles.

The decade of 1930s, though some consider it as a period when FDR contrived to bring economic fascism in America, was the most convulsive time US had ever faced. It is true Roosevelt exceeded the constitutional limits in some cases but it was inevitable, especially after the period following 1929 to extend the federal powers to ensure the process of economic healing goes well. Despite its shortcomings, the New Deal had offered much and is a source of learning for the American politics.

Note: This article had appeared in the print version of Dawn Newspaper by same author. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Google Chrome Netflix Crash

An error appears on your screen saying:
The Silverlight plugin has crashed. (Click to) send crash report.
Disable Hardware Acceleration
As default Google Chrome is set to use hardware acceleration feature when available. Disable that feature as shown below:
1. Click Menu | Settings.
2. Click “Show advanced settings” link.
3. Uncheck the box labelled “Use hardware acceleration when available” under System category.
4. Exit and re-open Google Chrome for new changes to take effects.

Restart Essential Services
Tablet PC Input Service is disabled. Re-enabling it might fix this problem.

1. Press Windows Key + R; type “services.msc” and click OK.
2. Change the service properties of Tablet PC Input Service. Set service type to automatic, and then click OK.

Delete MSPR File
Microsft PlayReady’s MSPR files might conflict Netflix. Delete the file as shown below:

1. Press Windows Key + R.
2. Type following path:
  • C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\PlayReady
3. Delete the file named MSPR.HDS

Reinstall Microsoft Silverlight
It may be possible that the installation of Microsoft Silverlight is corrupted. Reinstalling the same may fix your problem.

1. Press Windows Key + X; select Control Panel.
2. Click Programs | Programs and Features.
3. Uninstall Microsoft Silverlight and reinstall it again.

For Windows 7/ Vista:

1. Click Start; type “Uninstall a program” in Search Box.
2. Open that keyword from Search Results.
3. Remove and reinstall Silverlight.

Repair Registry Errors
In most cases Netflix crashes on Chrome because of issues in Windows Registry. Try scanning your computer with RegInOut to fix Netflix crashing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Windows 10 Could Come Up with a Subscription Model

There’s been chatter on Internet over this issue. Different sources and leaks indicate a possibility that Microsoft could come up with a subscription model for its upcoming release- Windows 10. Undoubtedly, it has not been confirmed officially.

The earlier versions followed a common tradition of paying a few hundred dollars to get a perpetual genuine license copy. However, it seems that the company has decided to collect a few dollars from customers every month as a part of their monthly subscription. It is also assumed that the company may offer a free basic version to people and lock all advanced features unless you pay for those features. In other words, advanced features will be activated once you pay for your copy. That is similar to different existing schemes followed by the company.

The speech of Microsoft COO Kevin Turner in a recent conference organized in Arizona, gave no clear confirmation about the new model. However, it gave a hint that subscription-based payment mode may play a key role to improve revenue stream for the company. The speech overall briefed how Microsoft lost a big chunk of money-making potential in last few years. The company is looking at cloud-based solutions to generate more income.

The overall technological market trend is currently shifting from PCs & laptops to tablets and smartphones. Windows tablets, Windows Phone face a strong competition with Android tablets and iOS respectively. The tough competition with Android tablets and iOS has forced Microsoft to give away Windows 8 operating system free-of-cost to branded small-scale tablets and Windows Phone OS to smartphones.

The question is whether Microsoft is really dreaming up for a subscription-based model for its new release? Is Microsoft really considering to move away from traditional one-time buy model? Since there is no official statement from the company, it is not clear what kind of compelling features will be part of the package.

Microsoft already provides numerous services with subscription-based model- for example- Office365, Office for iOS, Skype, Microsoft OneDrive, Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Live, and so on.