Bait and Switch
Bait and switch refers to a fraud that is common in retail sales although it is also used in other contexts. At first, merchants bait customers by advertising services or products at low prices but on visiting their store, customers realize that the goods or services advertised at those prices are not available. The customers are then pressurized to consider similar products or services but at higher prices. This is what is known as switching.
The main intention of this technique is to encourage buyers to purchase substituted goods by ensuring that consumers are satisfied by the offered products or services as an alternative for the inconvenience or disappointment of having no goods at all. The technique also functions to reckon the seemingly recovery though incomplete, of the sunk cost that is expended in an attempt to obtain bait. The technique suggests that a seller should not avail the original service or product advertised. Instead, they will demonstrate a similar product that has a higher margin or a more expensive good or service.
To most people, bait and switch is a dishonest tactic used by marketers to make their rate, terms or price attractive to potential buyers. It is commonly used in the mortgage market to dive business. Mortgage companies or agents post exceedingly low prices or rates when they know very well that most applicants may not qualify for teaser rates. Once customers start visiting their office for inquiries on the low prices or rates, the agent or company will offer higher rates that they might qualify for. This enables the agents to get greater commission.
According to the U.S courts, purveyors who use this technique can be subjected to lawsuits by buyers or customers on the basis of false advertising. These purveyors can be charged in court for trademark infringement by other manufacturers and retailers who profit from selling the product that is used as their bait. However, cause of action does not exist if purveyor does not sell the advertised goods but pushes the competing product aggressively.
Competition Act prohibits retailers from advertising a service or product at a bargain price if they do not have reasonable quantities available. However, a retailer can avoid liability by establishing that non-availability was occasioned by circumstances that are beyond their control, reasonable product’s quantity was obtained and that the customer got rain check after the exhaustion of the supplies.
This technique can cause a retailer to lose their loyal customers and customers who shop from you once may not
consider entering your store again.
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Door in the Face Technique
Door in the face technique refers to a compliance method that is very common in social psychology studies. The technique entails attempts by persuaders to convince respondents to comply by making large requests that respondents are highly likely to turn down. It is more of a metaphorical door slamming on the face of the persuader. There are high chances of respondents agreeing to the second and more reasonable requests as compared to similar reasonable requests reached in isolation.
In door in the face technique, a larger request precedes a certain request. Refusal of a first request combined with apparent concession on the requester’s part make people highly likely to accept the second request feeling that making a concession independently is the noblest thing.
This technique is a strategy that is used to gain concession or compliance. After having the first request turned down, the requester counteroffers it with a more reasonable request that is hard to turn down. For instance, you want to apply for a two weeks no-pay leaves on a busy month. In that case, you approach the manager asking for a one month leave. The manager rejects the request and then you cut the request down to three weeks and then to two weeks. The manager will most likely approve the two weeks no-pay leaves after rejecting the first two requests.
Conmen also use the door in the face technique. For instance, a conman may approach you asking for you to help him with $50. After rejecting him, he will continue begging you until when you give him a smaller amount.
Door in the face technique is a contrast of foot in the door technique. In this technique, persuaders start with small requests and then increase the demands of the requests gradually. This technique although different, increases the chances of the respondents agreeing to the second requests.
Several studies have been done to determine whether the door in the face technique is really effective due to social responsibility or reciprocal concessions. Reciprocal concession explanation is common and it entails reciprocity or simply put the need for compliance on the side of the respondent to smaller second requests since the persuader compromises from the first request.
Social responsibility explanation entails the internal standards and the essence of assisting others and making respondent feel that they have to comply with the second smaller requests. Other explanations of door in the face technique effect entail reducing guilt and maintaining positive self-presentation.
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Health Belief Model
Health belief model refers to a behavior change model in psychological health that was developed with an aim of explaining and predicting health-related behaviors especially in the uptake of medical or health services. The model was established by the social psychologists in the U.S. Public Health Service in the 1950s. It remains one of the widely used and popular theories in health behavior studies.
According to this model, beliefs that people have regarding health problems, self-efficacy, action barriers and perceived benefits of the action explain engagement or lack of it in behaviors that promote health. To trigger health promoting behaviors, a cue to an action or stimulus must be present.
This model was developed in a bid to understand why people were not adapting strategies for preventing diseases or screening tests to enhance disease detection at early stages. Later, the model was used in analyzing responses of patients to symptoms and medical treatments’ compliance.
The health belief model derives from behavioral and psychological theory with its foundation being two health-related behavior components. These are:
- Desire for avoiding illness or getting well if ill
- Belief that a certain health action prevents or cures an illness
Ultimately, the course of action taken by an individual is dependent on the perception of that individual of the barriers and benefits that are related to that health behavior. Health belief model has six constructs. Four of these constructs where established as the initial tenets of the model and the other two were added later after the evolution of the model.
The constructs are perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, cue to action and self-efficacy. Health belief model has several limitations which affects its utility in the public health sector. For instance, this model fails to account for the attitude, beliefs and other determinants of the acceptance of a person for a health behavior.
It also does not account for habitual behaviors which may inform decision making process and acceptance of a recommended action. The model also does not account for behaviors that individuals perform for reasons that are not related to their health like social acceptability reasons. Other factors that health belief model does not account for are economic and environmental factors that can promote or prohibit a recommended health action.
In addition, the model assumes that individuals have equal access to information on the disease or illness. Additionally, the model assumes that cues to health action are prevalent and that they encourage individuals to act and that the main goal in decision making process is health actions.
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Intergroup Contact Theory
According to some social scientists, intergroup contact theory is among the best ways of improving relations among conflicting groups. Development of the intergroup contract theory is accredited to Gordon W. Allport. The theory is also known as the contact hypothesis. According to this theory, interpersonal contact is among the most effective means of reducing prejudice between the minority and majority members when conditions are appropriate.
When an individual has an opportunity for communicating with others, understanding and appreciating their point of view on their ways of life is enhanced. Prejudice is diminished due to the new understanding and appreciation of the other persons. Among the issues that occur more often among rival groups include discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping. According to Gordon, all these issues can be reduced through well-managed contact leading to better interaction between individuals.
However, when anxiety is created by contact among those involved, it fails to resolve conflict. To decrease anxiety, contact situations should be long so that members of conflicting groups can feel comfortable in the company of one another. In addition, contact will not reduce conflict if the members of conflicting groups use the contact to exchange insults and argue with one another. This will cause discrimination and even physical violence between the members.
Positive contact must be ensured to realize beneficial effects. Several criteria should be used and they include the following:
- Common goals must be set which should entail solving the problem between them.
- Equal status must be established by minimizing differences among members of the two groups
- Intergroup cooperation must also be established by both sides working together to realize common goals
- Support from the customs, law and authorities are also important in encouraging helpful, friendly and egalitarian attitudes between the groups. In-group-out-group comparison should also be condemned.
- Personal interaction should also be encouraged between groups’ members to develop cross-group friendships.
In explaining the intergroup contact theory, Gordon says that prejudice is directly caused by oversimplifications and generalizations that are made about entire groups of people on the basis of mistaken or incomplete information. Basically, prejudice can be reduced by learning more about a group of people.
Some experts have described a change in belief via contact as one example of a general cognitive process that can be used to modify attributes of a group. Contact with culturally distinct group members can modify beliefs of individual, subsequently elaborating or modifying beliefs about the group as a whole.
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Low Ball Technique vs Foot in the Door Technique
Many experts have always tried to compare low ball technique vs. foot in the door technique. In low ball technique, a sales person offers potential buyer a lower price than the actual price intended for selling the item. Afterwards, the price is increased to obtain more profit. Once a buyer start enjoying a deal prospect and future benefits of the item, they are not likely to back out on the deal since this would cause cognitive dissonance. Thus, the buyer ends up down playing negative effects of the extra cost of the item.
Foot in the door technique is a common compliance tactic. This tactic entails having a person accept a large request by setting them up with a modest request first. Simply put, you make a small request and then once it has been accepted, you make a bigger request.
The foot in the door technique is highly successful due to the basic nature of human known as successive approximations. In essence, when a subject goes with small commitments or requests it is likely to continue in the desired attitude’s direction or cause the desired behavioral change which results in the feeling of obligation to go along with the larger requests. The foot in the door technique works by achieving a small yes first and then a bigger yes later.
Low ball technique and foot in the door technique enables a requester to increase the chances of the subjects agreeing to accomplish given requests without external pressures. In foot in the door technique, subjects are led to performing the first low-cost request before they are asked to perform a target request. In low ball technique, subjects are led to accept to perform a target behavior when they do not know the exact cost of their behavior. The full cost of the behavior is reveled to the subjects after accepting the initial cost.
Both low ball technique and foot in the door technique are based on a similar principle. This principle is that of committing the subject into performing the target behavior by first having them accept the initial request or behavior that is less or even more linked to a target behavior or request.
However, foot in the door technique and low ball techniques have slight variation. In low ball technique, the subject is requested to perform a single behavior (initial and final requests pertain to a target behavior) while in foot in the door technique a subject is requested to perform two behaviors (initial and final behavior pertain to different behaviors).
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Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition that entails the total disregard and violation of the rights of others. People who are diagnosed with this condition do not have any sort of respect for the feelings and wishes of other people. They tend to treat others in antagonizing manner; harshly and without any consideration to the impacts of their actions. Such people are often caught violating the law, acting violently and also have problems with drugs, alcohol and substance abuse.
People with antisocial personality disorders are often caught in indecent and violent acts but show no remorse or feeling of being sorry. As a result, they are usually incapable of fulfilling their responsibilities at work, home and even school. The condition comes with the ‘I don’t care’ attitude. However, they may at times look so calm and charming. As a result of this, they are times very unpredictable and it becomes difficult to tell whether they are speaking the truth or lies.
Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder occurs in a pattern and has to be monitored over a period of time for a conclusion to be arrived at. Below are the signs that can be relied upon in diagnosing the mental condition.
- Inability to conform to social norms that include disrespect to the law
- Deceitfulness; constant use of lies for personal pleasure or profit
- Aggressiveness and irritability that can lead to assaults and physical fights
- Failure to lay down plans for the future or impulsivity
- Disregard for the safety of other people
- Lack of remorse after causing offence.
These symptoms can be evident in children as young as 15 years of age. However, diagnosis can only be done to adults who are above the age of 18 years. The reason is because in adolescence, a lot of developments that lead to change in personality and maturity occur. Thus, diagnosis is only recommended for people who have attained adulthood.
It is still very unclear the particular cause of antisocial personality disorder. However, there are several theories about the possible causes. Most of the cases have been attributed to genetic and social factors for instance; the way a person interacts with the family, friends and even fellow children during early development can impact their behavior in adulthood.
Psychological factors; an individual’s temperament and personality, defined by their environment can also lead to the development of the condition. It is viewed that antisocial personality disorder results from a combination of all these factors.
Treatment of Antisocial Personality Disorder
Long term psychotherapy with a professional therapist with an experience in handling such disorders is the best form of treatment that can be administered to people who have been diagnosed with the condition. There may also be medical prescriptions offered to avert the symptoms.
The enduring pattern of antisocial personality disorder can be evident in the interpersonal functioning, impulse control or cognition of the patient. It is advisable to see a psychiatrist or psychologist immediately the symptoms are identified in order to get help on time.
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Avoidant Personality Disorder
Just as the name suggests, Avoidant personality disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by a long persistent feeling of inadequacy. Those who suffer from this condition are often trying to avoid others on the assumption that they might not be thinking well about them. Patients are in constant worry about what others think about them. Such people are socially inhibited and are not interested in mixing with others. As a result of this, they will often avoid work, school and any other kind of activity that involves interaction or socializing with other people.
Those who suffer from avoidant personality disorder are often described as shy, lonely, timid and isolated due to their fear of interacting with others. The major problems that are associated with this condition often result from social functioning.
Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder
The feelings of inadequacy that are experienced by people suffering from Avoidant personality disorder are long-standing. Below are some of the symptoms that can be evident in an individual suffering from this mental condition:
- Avoiding occupational activities due to fear of disapproval, rejection or criticism
- Unwillingness to get involved with others unless he or she is liked
- Preoccupation with criticism or rejection in social circles
- Having view of being inferior or personally unappealing to others
- Restraint within intimate relationships due to the fear of ridicule or being shamed
- Reluctance in taking personal risks or engaging in new activities
Since all personality disorders are long standing and show enduring patterns, diagnosis for Avoidant personality disorder should be done in early adulthood. The intensity of the condition decreases with age.
The actual cause of Avoidant personality disorder has not yet been established and research is still underway. However, it has been attributed to biological, genetic and social factors. Avoidant personality disorder can be passed down from parents to their kids in case they had the condition.
Socially, the way an individual interacts with others during early development can have an impact that might lead to the development of the condition. The condition can also develop as a result of psychological and environmental factors. Psychological factors involve an individual’s temperament and personality. The condition can develop as a result of a combination of all the mentioned factors.
Diagnosis and treatment
The diagnosis of Avoidant personality disorder is conducted by a mental health professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist. This is done by making comparisons of the symptoms with the life history of the patient. In case it is established that one is suffering from this mental condition, they will be placed on long-term psychotherapy. Besides, medications can also be prescribed to help in coping up with the symptoms. The best thing is to always see a mental health professional in good time before the condition gets worse. Besides, it is also crucial to always find a psychiatrist with experience in this particular condition.
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Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder describes a mental illness that is characterized by instability in moods, relationships and behavior. Some people that have severe cases of borderline personality disorder go through shortened psychotic episodes. A number of patients, who are diagnosed with BPD, often have difficulties in regulating their emotions and thoughts. Besides, they can also portray reckless behaviors and are unable to maintain relationships with other people.
People with borderline personality disorders are also likely to experience other disorders that may occur concurrently like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, and suicidal behaviors among others.
Causes of BPD
Research and studies on the causes and factors that can place one at risk of developing borderline personality disorders are underway. However, most scientists are in agreement that genetic and environmental factors are the likely agents. Studies conducted on twins with the condition reveal that it can be inherited.
Social and cultural factors can also be linked to the development of BPD. For instance, belonging to a culture or group of people where there are common cases of instability in family relationships may increase the risk of a person to develop the disorder.
Signs and Symptoms
In order for one to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, one must exhibit a consistent pattern of behavior that involves at least five of the symptoms below.
- Extreme reactions like rage, panic, depression and even abandonment
- Intense and stormy relationships with friends, family and loved ones.
- Unstable or distorted self-image.
- Impulsive behaviors that are often dangerous like substance abuse, unprotected sex, reckless driving among others
- Intense moods that are highly changeable
- Chronic feeling of boredom and emptiness.
- Difficulty in anger management.
Those who suffer from borderline personality disorder are also likely to portray suicidal behaviors that are recurrent, threats or acts of inflicting harm on themselves. The symptoms of the disorders can begin showing during adolescence or in early adulthood. Certain studies reveal that most cases of BPD have often been found in females compared to males. However, the intensity of the condition heightens with age.
The diagnosis of borderline personality disorders is done by a trained mental health professional like a psychiatrist or psychologist. It is important to note that the diagnosis process for BPD is not conducted through blood, genetic or laboratory tests. The procedure involves making comparisons on the symptoms shown by the patient with their life history.
Psychotherapy is the most ideal form of treatment that can be administered to people who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. There are also certain medications that may be prescribed to patients to help with the symptoms.
Most people who suffer from Borderline Personality disorders do not often seek treatment until its gets to a point that they experience a significant impact on their lives. However, it is always advisable that you seek medical attention as soon as you begin noticing a difference in your mental state.
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Dependent Personality Disorder
Dependent Personality disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by the tendency of people to depend on others for their physical and emotional needs. It is one of the most common types of personality disorders that most people are diagnosed with today. It is prevalent in both men and women. This condition makes the patient to be submissive and viewed to be more of ‘clingy’ to the person (s) whom they are dependent on. In such a case, the person suffering from the condition feels that he or she cannot live without the help of the other people.
Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder
People who suffer from Dependent personality disorder cling to other for emotional support and as a result often try to please them in many ways just to keep enjoying the support. Such people always fear separation and cannot imagine their lives without others. Below are the symptoms that can tell if one is suffering from this condition:
- Inability to make decision including even everyday decisions on what to put on without getting advice or reassurance from other people.
- Avoidance of responsibilities for adults under the pretence of being helpless or passive
- Intense fear of being abandoned and a sense of helplessness whenever relationships come to an end. The patient will often move into another relationship immediately one ends.
- Oversensitivity to criticism
- Fear of disagreements with others on grounds that he or she may lose approval or support
- Willingness to tolerate mistreatment and abuse from other people provided that the relationship does not end
- Placing the needs of those whom he depends on above his
- Inability to begin projects or take initiatives personally due to lack of confidence
People who suffer from Dependent personality disorder often want to feel so naïve and spend most of their times fantasizing. Most lack self confidence such that they believe that they cannot take care of themselves.
Causes of Dependent Personality disorder
The exact cause of Dependent personality disorder is not known. However, it is believed to stem from developmental and biological factors. Certain researchers have revealed that overprotective or authoritarian style of parenting can cause the development of the personality disorder.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of Dependent personality disorder requires a professional mental health practitioner like a psychiatrist or psychologist. The process involves an evaluation of the psychiatric and medical history of the patient. It must be noted the diagnosis process for this personality disorder does not involve any form of laboratory test. However, the doctor may apply a variety of other diagnostic tests like interviews and assessments in order to study the symptoms and determine if the patient is truly suffering from the condition.
Just like in the case with other personality disorders, a person who has been diagnosed with Dependent personality disorder is placed under psychotherapies over a given duration of time.
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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Invented by psychologist, Martha Linehan, Dialectical Behavioral therapy is a form of treatment that was developed to help in altering the patterns of certain behaviors that are consequential like suicidal thoughts, substance abuse and self harm. This approach is useful in assisting people to enhance their cognitive and emotional regulation. It has been identified as the most effective treatment that can be offered to people who are suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD). In fact, Dr. Linehan also revealed recently that the development of the therapy was inspired by her own condition; she had been struggling with BPD for some time.
In Dialectical Behavioral therapy, there are different forms of treatment that can be offered to patients. These psychological therapies can range from individual psychotherapy, group skills training to phone consultations. The therapy focuses on the validation concept whereby the patient and doctor are working on the acceptance of uncomfortable feelings, behaviors and thoughts instead of fighting them.
Provided that the therapist and patient have accepted the disturbing thought, belief or behavior, it is easier to initiate change, thus enabling the realization of the goals of gradual transformation. The aim of the therapist in DBT is to establish a balance between acceptance and change then integrating them for success. Besides, the therapy also focuses on developing skills that can assist the patient to cope with the conditions. These include certain behavioral techniques that can be used in combating the disabling symptoms of mental conditions.
Dialectical behavioral therapy emphasizes on the development of a practice of mindfulness and other techniques for relaxation. Mindfulness can be achieved through practices like yoga that can assist people to become conscious of their feelings and thoughts by observing the sensations of their bodies. With this, individuals develop the ability to accept thoughts and feelings of distress without criticizing themselves or conforming to destructive thoughts. Some of the most common mindful techniques include progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing.
In certain occasions, patients that are undergoing DBT are given homework in between the sessions. Mostly diary cards are given out to them to give an account of their experiences so far since the beginning of the therapy. This involves, noting down the change of symptoms and general condition of the patient.
Over the years, Dialectical Behavioral therapy has been the most researched for borderline personality disorder. In fact, it has been shown to play a crucial role in reducing the suicidal outcomes in people who are suffering from BPD. However, there are also other psychotherapies that can be used.
At the time of discovery of DBT, it was mainly for the treatment of individuals with chronic suicidal cases; however, it has today gone through an evolution to include even individuals with various kinds of disorders. The treatment has today been adopted for people with behavioral disorders that involve emotional dysregulation like drug users, people with severe cases of depression among others.
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Capital Gains Tax
Capital gains tax refers to a type of tax that is levied on capital gains that are made by individuals or organizations. Capital gains are profits that an investor is able to make when he or she sells the capital asset under his or her ownership for a price that is more than the price at which it was purchased. To most investors, the tax levied on capital gains is viewed as a control measure to regulate the profits made by them.
Taxes that are levied on capital gains are not levied when an investor holds an asset but only when it is realized. For instance, an investor can have shares that increase in value each year but will not incur any capital gain tax on them until when they are sold. As a result of this, investors are able to hold on to their shares and only sell when they have made enough money from them. To most investors, this is an advantage since it gives them an opportunity to prepare and sell the shares only when they are sure that taxes will not affect their trading activities.
In most countries, the tax laws require investors to remit capital gain taxes. However, the laws on capital gains taxes vary from one state to another. The variations can be on when the tax should be remitted, the rates among other aspects. For instance, in the United States, individuals and business organizations are only required to remit capital gain taxes on the capital gains that they make annually. This gives investors the whole year to be able to trade with their shares and only pay taxes on capital gains at the end of the financial year.
When looking at capital gains tax, it is very important to note that only the net capital gains that are subject to tax levies. The reason for this is because, if a particular investor sells two stocks in the course of the year, one at a profit and another at a loss, the amount of capital loss that is made from the losing share or investment will counteract the capital gains realized from the profitable investment. The most common capital gains today are incurred from the sale of bonds, stocks, property and precious metals.
It is always in the interest of every investor to make profit from every investment. However, it should be noted that declaration of capital losses on tax returns can be an effective consolation prize in most occasions. Capital losses have very mild effects on earned income in the subsequent tax years, but can be wholly applied against capital gains in the future. It is always important that investors should first familiarize themselves with the prevailing tax laws before making any investments. This will help in strategizing on how to best do business without working just to pay taxes. With better knowledge on tax laws, you can be able to determine the best investment venture that can be profitable.
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Commonwealth of Independent States Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
The Convention of the Commonwealth of Independent States on Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms was opened for signature on 26 May 1995 in Minsk. The convention was signed by seven of the twelve states that are members of the CIS on the same day. These seven states included Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Russia, Tajikistan and Moldova. Since then, the convention has been ratified by the Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Tajikistan. It came into force on the 11th August 1998. This went down on the same day that the third instrument of the convention’s ratification was deposited by one of the member states, Belarus.
There are 38 articles in the Commonwealth of Independent States Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. One of the articles that are of great interest in the Convention, Article 11 states that:
- ‘’Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas by any legal means without interference by a public authority and regardless of frontiers.’’
- ‘’The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions and restrictions as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, public safety or public order or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.’’
The CIS Convention on Human Rights aims at the formation of a control mechanism; a Human Rights Commission of the states that are members of the CIS that can aid in the monitoring of the execution of the treaties signed in the convention through the issuance of recommendations. The commission is made up of appointed members that represent the state parties.
Since this convention came into force, there have been concerns from the Council of Europe regarding the legal implications that it may have for states that are ratifying it and the European Convention on Human Rights. The main area of concern has been on how the two can coexist without stepping onto each other’s mandates. This is particularly with regards to situations where the Commonwealth of Independent States offers less protection compared to the European Convention on Human Rights, both based on the body enforcing it and also the scope of its contents.
The Commonwealth of Independent States Commission cannot offer a guarantee of impartiality and independence to the tune of what is offered by the European Court of Human Rights. Besides, it recommendations do not enjoy the same enforcements like the judgments issued by the given court. As a result of all these issues, the Council of Europe advised its members and even those states that have made applications to become members, and also parties to the CIS not to sign or undertake any ratification of the CIS Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
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Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization that brings together sovereign states. Formed in 1991, the organization currently includes states like Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The member states, while forming the organization, declared their interaction on the basis of sovereign equality. The CIS is a regional organization whose formation was triggered by the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Commonwealth of Independent States was formed when the elected leaders of three nations; Russia, Belarus and Ukraine signed an agreement to form a new association that would take the place of the former United Soviet Socialist Republics. It after signing the agreement that these three nations were subsequently joined by the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the others mentioned above. Among the nations that made up the former Soviet Union, there are three that declined to be part of the organization. These include Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
The Commonwealth Independent States officially began operations in January 1992. The organization designated the city of Minsk, Belarus to act as its administrative center. This association of states was created with the aim of not only being a symbolic union but also one that exercises coordinating powers in trade, finance, security and law making. Besides, it has also been instrumental in the promotion of cooperation when it comes to the prevention of crime across the borders of member states. In order to come up with a fully-fledged common market, some of the member states have moved forward to form the Eurasian Economic Community.
The main functions of the CIS are to foster coordination of the policies of member states with regards to foreign relations, economies, immigration policies, defense, environmental protection and law enforcement. These are aimed at enhancing economic, social and political stability amongst the member states. However, this may not have been effectively achieved since just seven years after the formation of the organization, one of the member states; Georgia withdrew. The withdrawal of Georgia in 2009 was as a result of the hostilities that escalated between her and Russia that is still a member of the CIS.
The top governing body of the Commonwealth of Independent States is a council that is made up of the heads of states of the member states. These include the presidents and prime ministers of the states that form the organization. They are assisted by the committees of cabinet ministers from the member states in key areas like defense and economics.
When coming together, the member states made a pledge to keep all their armed forces and nuclear weapons in one station with a single unified command. However, this did not work well as planned. The integration of the countries that are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States is executed through its coordinating institutions that include executive bodies, charter bodies and the organs of branch cooperation of the CIS.
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Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act is a law that gives any citizen of the United States the authority to gain access to information that they may need from the federal government. To most people, it is described as the law that keeps people in the know about their government. Through the law, you are able to ask for certain information regarding government business or activities that you need and access it. The Freedom of Information Act has been viewed by many as one of the vital parts of American democracy.
The Freedom of Information Act was enacted and signed into law by President Lyndon B Johnson on July 4th 1966. However, it only took effect one year later. Despite the freedom that this law gives citizens to obtain federal records on request, there is an exemption that should be keenly noted. The freedom is restricted to certain information or records of the federal government that are protected from public disclosure. In case it is just part of the records that are protected, the particular agency that is issuing the records shall punch that section out and provide you with the rest. In fact, there are nine exemptions to this statute that one is required to know of.
Since there are various agencies that are charged with handling federal government records, it is always required that you know the particular one that can provide you with the information that you need. It is important to be sure of the agency that deals with the information that you need in order to make it much easier for you. According to the Freedom of Information Act, agencies have a mandate to disclose any information that is requested provided that it is not protected. Besides, the law also requires that agencies automatically conduct disclosure of certain information, including those that have frequently been requested.
The administration of the Freedom of Information Act is by the Executive Branch under the command of the President. However, the Information Policy office at the Department of Justice is charged with making sure that agencies are compliant with the directives set out in the act. Through the Executive and this office, various federal government agencies are encouraged to always be very transparent when it comes to responding to requests by citizens to access certain records.
Freedom of Information Act sets out the procedures for obtaining federal government records from the relevant agencies. It is also important that you get to know these procedures to avoid inconvenience and any problems that may arise in the course of making a request. The law also sets out penalties that can be awarded to any agency that acts in a manner that hinders the process of obtaining federal government information. For instance, if an employee or staff at an agency acts in arbitration with respect to withholding the information that you need, the mater can be taken to court and in case he or she is found guilty, disciplinary action can be awarded.
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Freedom of Religion in Malaysia
Freedom of Religion is one of the fundamental human rights that are embodied in the Malaysian constitution. According to Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, ‘’every person has the right to profess and practice his own religion.’ Each person is accorded the right to propagate the religion that they choose; however, federal law may exercise control or restriction on the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among Muslims.
The same constitution that allows freedom of religion in Malaysia points out that Islam is the religion of the nation but other religions may also be practiced in a peaceful and harmonious manner. Despite this, the subject of freedom of religion in Malaysia is one that has been dodged with lots of controversies over the years. The issue of Malaysia being an Islamic or secular state remains unresolved. This issue has brought contentions and even tried to tear apart the relationship that exists between the various races present in Malaysia.
The Malaysian government generally supports Islam and religious establishments that conform to the Islamic faith. However, Sunday that is considered as the traditional Christian holiday is officially the weekend holiday in ten of the thirteen federal states. This is contrary to what happens in the Muslim countries especially in the Middle East. Having Sunday as a weekend holiday is a deviation from the traditional practices of Islam that were existent in the colonial era before non-Muslim immigrants started coming into the country.
Muslims exercise protection over their freedom of religion through Sharia law and Islamic courts. This makes it challenging and almost next to impossible for adherents to denounce the religion. However, there are no restrictions when it comes to converting Christians or people of other religions to Islam. In public schools, religious studies are mandatory for all Muslim children according to a curriculum that is approved by the government. Homeschooling is allowed in Malaysia but primary school is compulsory to all children who have attained the recommended age.
Despite the confusion that exists in freedom of religion in Malaysia, there are various religious holidays that are officially recognized like Hari Raya Haji (Muslim), Hari Raya Puasa (Muslim), Wesak Day (Buddhist), Thaipusam (Hindu), Deepavali (Hindu), Good Friday (Christian), Christmas (Christian) among others. With all these, one can be easily convinced that there is freedom of religion in Malaysia. However, there are more underlying issues that also need close scrutiny before that declaration is made.
Based on some of the events and revelations that have transpired in Malaysia, it cannot be justified that there is freedom of religion. Take a look at some below:
- The High Court in Malaysia in 1999 ruled that only the Islamic courts have the jurisdiction to decode on the religious conversion of Muslims.
- In April 2000, a sharia law subjecting those who defy the Islamic faith to one year of ‘rehabilitation’ was passed by the State of Perlis.
- Many Muslims who have opted from the faith to Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism among other religions are currently leading ‘double lives’ for fear of segregation and neglect from family and friends.
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