Huntington’s Argument – Clash of Civilizations

Huntington’s Argument

In the article and presentation, Huntington focuses on the change of world civilization after the Cold War. According to Huntington, during the Cold War era, the world was ruled by two main ideologies of communism and capitalism. The world was divided into two main groups based on the ideology that the country embraces, apart from sub-Sahara Africa that was not in any of the two. Huntington argues that the end Cold War results in a new era where there is no universal civilization or universal power that holds groups of countries together. This will result in the development of eight civilizations that are ruled by people’s culture. The civilization groups include African, Western, Latin American, Confucian, Slavic Orthodox, Japanese, Hindu, and Islamic civilization (Huntington, 1993).

Every group of civilizations will focus on building their own identity that makes it unique from the rest. This identity will be influence by unique culture, language, religion, and traditions. Huntington also predicts that there will be civilization conflict between different civilization groups which will happen along the cultural fault lines separating the civilizations (Krifko, n.d.). In Huntington’s view, no form of civilization will manage to gain enough power to rule the world. To maintain peace and coexistence, the Western should accept the new world order and stop imposing their form of civilization to other groups of civilization (Huntington, 1993).

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Defending Huntington’s Argument’s Plausibility or Rational Defensibility – Why does he believe that the organization of conflict will increasingly follow cultural-religious divisions?

Huntington believes that the new changes after the Cold War are likely to result in the clash of civilization. Huntington claims that the future battle line will be the fault lines between civilizations. This argument is discredited by several events that have prior and after the publication of the idea. According to Osborn (2006), the data show that Cold War initiated civilization conflict this means civilization conflict will not be a new thing as Huntington wants to suggest. The difference may only be on how it will take place. The data also show that states within civilizations had in the past fought more often among themselves compared to how they have fought with others.

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According to Osborn (2006, p.397), commentators have a consensus that conflicts in the recent past have happened within states, normally between rival communal or ethnic groups for different reasons. Some of the identifiable causes of war include attaining political objectives where parties contesting for political power initiate various sub-state conflicts. This has been identified in Somalia and Liberia. This phenomenon was also experienced during the Arabs appraisal that happened within what Huntington regard as Islamic civilization, where internal conflicts within Islamic groups were experienced due to dissatisfaction with the existing form of governance (Keshefi, 2013, p. 30).

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Another major reason for the conflict is rivalry for scarce resources (Osborn, 2006, p. 397). This is likely to be seen in the next five decades as the world population increases. It is extensively asserted that scarce resources competition lies as the heart of various conflicts and that the following competition parties’ polarization along religious or ethnic lines is just a product of the importance of those social divisions in society. This means although the conflict will be between groups of different civilizations, the cause will be not be based on cultural differences but other similar economic, political, and social interests (Osborn, 2006).   

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Clash of Civilizations Article Critique

The Huntington article reflects on international relations after the end of the Cold War. His theory made a lot of sense in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the U.S. was fighting Islamic based terrorist groups in the world. This was a new form of conflict that supported his theory of the clash of civilization based on the cultural ground Osborn (Fox, 2005, p. 428). However, it was quickly discredited by the Arabs spring in the early 2010s and the ongoing civil war in different countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Sudan among others (Keshefi, 2013, p. 30). Other than the inter-cultural based civilization conflicts, the article failed to foresee some of the challenges that may be brought about by similar economic problems such as scarcity of natural resources and global warming as the new cause of inter-regional conflicts other than cultural grounds (Osborn, 2006, p. 397).

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He also overruled the possibility of internal conflicts within the same civilization which is a common phenomenon in today’s world. Huntington also failed to foresee other factors that will force countries from different civilizations to the unit to address similar problems. Other than cultural issues, other serious problems are affecting different regions in the world, especially those associated with organized criminal groups.  Issues such as terrorism, diseases, hunger, and other life challenges have forced western countries such as the U.S. to ally with other countries of different civilizations such as Africa, Asia including Islamic countries and China in the quest to fight these challenges (Tyushka & Czechowska, 2019, p.9).

This shows it is hard to achieve a clear separation based on civilization and to focus on fighting between different civilizations for cultural purposes. Some civilizations as grouped by Huntington are experiencing serious internal problems that make them hard to be self-sufficient. As long as some defined civilizations depend on others for survival, chances of this division and conflict are not possible. Moreover, western countries remain more able economically, politically, and militarily. Thus, they are more likely to be considered as a source of assistance when governments in different civilizations experience internal rivalry from extremist groups. Most civilizations are thus insufficient on their own, and hence the dependability on western and their influence is unlikely to end any time soon.

Religion as a Factor in US Foreign Policy

The influence of religion in the interactions of the state is among the great and least implicit security challenges of the 21st century. Additionally, the role of religion in international politics presents an intellectual contest to politics, religion, and international relations scholars. Although religion has developed as an important factor in some assessments of international relations, unexplored and controversial questions remain regarding the religious role in states’ foreign policies. Several empirical types of research have tried to determine the opinions that supporters of various faiths hold regarding foreign policy and to examine if international conflicts have happened along the religious line after the end of the cold war (Warner & Walker, 2011, p.113). This paper evaluates the engagement of religion in the U.S. foreign policy to determine the basic problem of involving religion in foreign policy and the main obstacles in making the religious value of foreign nations the basis for U.S. foreign policy conduct.

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The Basic Problem with Making Religion a Relevant Factor in USFP

One basic problem with making religion a relevant factor in USFP is that religion is a multifaceted phenomenon that plays different roles in the lives of people. Religion is a source of world values and views and a source of legitimacy and identity. Religion is also regarded as a set of communally held spiritual beliefs voiced in a discourse, interpreted and perpetuated by communities, institutions, and related practices (Warner & Walker, 2011,  p.114). The complexity of religion and diversity in religious values, views, and beliefs makes it hard to integrate religion in USFP, especially in a situation where it is not clear on which religious values to uphold, and the impact this may bring to the directed group; with different religious values.

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The USFP normally focuses on the relationship between the U.S. and other foreign countries.  In most cases, the targeted countries have different religious norms compared to the majority in the U.S. Moreover, even the U.S. has minority religions which illustrate a lack of uniformity in the religious beliefs of a country. This makes it hard to promote religious freedom agenda as they are likely to be diverse. According to Casey (2014), there is also a lack of good relations between different religious groups and hence, making it hard to identify a common voice or values in these religions. The religious diversity from one country to another or one religion to another makes it hard to have a common ground or common interest that politicians can work with to engage religious agenda in foreign policy. One religious group finds the beliefs of another group incorrect or intolerable based on their judgment. 

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It is therefore more. For instance Saudi Arabia values Islamic religious values more, while the U.S. values Christian religious values more. It is likely that any religious agenda promoted by the U.S. over Saudi Arabia may interfere with their beliefs, and hence likely to be biased in Saudi Arabian’s face. This creates a possibility of provoking unnecessary resistance, rivalry, or conflict that will make it hard to achieve the policy agenda. Religious agenda is thus likely to be biased when directed to another country since they are not universal. The inability to share religious beliefs makes one group intolerant to the other.   

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The Main Obstacle to Making Religious Value of Foreign Nations the Basis for the Conduct of USFP

The main obstacle in making religious values of foreign nations the basis for the conduct of USFP is that they are not shared, and most of them may be unjust or inhuman to the other group. For instance, Islam practices early marriages where girls are put in an arranged marriage at a young age, some even below ten (Council on Foreign Relations, 2015). This is considered as violence against women and girls, and human rights in the U.S (Council on Foreign Relations, 2015).

It is therefore hard for the U.S. to embrace such practices and respect them as religious values of the countries practicing them while making their foreign policies. (Haynes, 2008, p.144) religions can use soft power to influence foreign policy formation in the U.S. However, they cannot impose their beliefs on another nation, in a quest to ally. The targeted nation may refuse to be compelled to follow religious norms they do not believe in for political benefits. Moreover, a similar approach may be used by others to agree to international treaties that the U.S. tries to woo them into. This can result in negative feelings towards different countries that do not share religious values but wish to share political advantages.

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There is also the aspect of separation between state and religion. The separation of church and state reduced church influence on the state matters. In a situation where the state does not interfere with religious matters, then it had for a long time worked with little consultation from the church or the religion (Nieuwenhuis, 2012, p155). This gives religion little influence on political matters, though the general Christianity values are considered especially in the formation of federal policies, it does not have a powerful influence for internal matters, and hence it would not have a great influence on foreign matters where multicultural issues are regarded while formulating those policies.

Gender differences in Advertising Media

The primary function of advertising to convey messages about products to consumers. However, the advertising industry also plays a vital role in changing individual perceptions and existing social norms. After their primary function is accomplished, advertisements can ultimately construct an image of how the world should look like, how the people within it should behave and how they should be treated. This paper seeks to explore the gender differences in advertising media by relying on existing literature to determine what these differences are, why they exist and the impact they have on individuals as well as the broader society.

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The advertising industry has been long been dominated by age-old stereotypes since the age of Madison Avenue and the “ad-man”. Popular culture representations of this period in this age portray the 1960s workplace as an environment characterized by male dominance and the assumption of supporting and subordinate roles by women. This image has been reinforced by the kind of advertisements that came out of Madison Avenue during this era. With this kind of foundation, it is not in the least surprising to witness the striking gender asymmetry in advertisements made in the 21st century. Although the typical outrageous misogyny of a 1960s advertisement is absent in the modern ad, its subtle connotations are still there, still reinforcing those age-old messages, still portraying men and women in unrealistic and disproportionate ways and still portraying women in outdated and often unacceptable ways. From a simple application of language to more discernible images applying the strategy of gender-targeted advertisements that relies on outdated stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity. The advertising industry has forcefully created an image of individuals and of society that should not exist even in this in the pseudo-reality of an advertisement.

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According to a study conducted by Unilever, 30% of advertisements show women as they are perceived by men, only 3% of women have been portrayed in advertisements as individuals with aspirations or in leadership positions, only 0.03% of women were portrayed as being humorous and only 1% of women were portrayed as being heroes or having problem-solving capabilities. Given the significant proportion of women typically observed in advertising billboards, on television advertisements and even on the internet, these statistics are really shocking. On the other hand, men were 62% more likely to be depicted as smart individuals, inherently intelligent characters or in roles that are often associated with intelligent individuals such as a doctor, scientist, astronaut etc. For instance, in a toothpaste commercial, the doctor will, in most instances be a man. Women are also more likely to be shown in sexually revealing clothing compared to men and be represented by women with perfect proportions, who apparently, 40% of women do not relate to. Advertisements have created such sharp differences between the sexes that 52% of UK men cannot relate to the overly aggressive rough, rugged, highly heterosexual and homophobic men they see in advertisements.

Research conducted across the world reveals a high degree of sexism within the advertising industry and even without this research any layman who picks up two magazines, one aimed towards a male audience and the other towards a female audience can bear witness to these striking gender differences from the language, the illustrations, the color choices and even the kind of fonts used. Texts in female magazines tend to be longer than those in male magazines. Moreover, there is a clear asymmetry in the kind of products that the male magazine will advertise and those that the female magazine will advertise. Products like watches and cars dominate the pages of a male magazine while female magazines often contain advertisements for cosmetic products, home décor, and jewelry. Advertisers tend to provide more details for female cosmetic products than they do for male cosmetic products. Advertisements for clothes on Esquire will typically have no words attached to them, and advertisement for deodorant for men might just contain the word “cool” and left at that. However, when the cosmetic product is directed towards a female consumer, there will be a detailed explanation of ingredients, effects, and sometimes even directions for usage. However, when the product is impersonal as in the case of a car, there will be a more detailed explanation of the product in a male magazine while that kind of a product is less likely to feature in a female magazine. Moreover, this detailed example will typically contain less modifiers, will contain tougher language, bolder color, bolder fonts and will offer details that are more straightforward whereas the description in the female magazine will offer more description of the qualities of the object, will contain softer fonts, softer colors, the language will be more poetic than straightforward.

 Words used to describe the color of an object, emotion, relationships, senses and art occur more frequently in female magazines than they do in male magazines. On the other hand, words used to describe superiority, adventure, strength, achievement, and quantity occur more frequently in male magazines. Advertising in male magazines does not even contain the prerequisite that a sentence is constructed or that the words used together make sense. They just have to be bold, incredibly powerful words associated with the man’s mental strength, superior intellect and product superiority that the advertising industry believes its male clientele desires in all their products (Smith, 1985). Moreover, advertising for male products will contain abundant of number and figures to describe quantity while the quantity descriptions provided in female targeted advertisements are often vague with minimal reference to numbers and figures. This kind of language draws sharp a gender dividd within the society and serves to perpetuate gender-based stereotypes that shape individual perceptions of others and of themselves (Cameron, 1992). The proof of the effects of these stereotypes is that research data will forever label men as abstract thinkers who do not attach emotion into consumer decisions and women as emotionally charged individuals who attach personal feelings to every decision they make. Research has claimed that women enjoy the emotional and psychological aspect of shopping and spend more time shopping more than men (Wood, 1998). Perhaps this is why advertisements targeting a female clientele are so detailed and poetic while those targeted towards men offer no such poetic details and those that do offer details are mostly instrumental leisure items related to the expression of independence, an active lifestyle and often related to male impulse buying (Ditmar et al, 1995).

An advertisement of a watch in the Car driver magazine (July 2010: 7) perfectly illustrates the kind of detail involved in ads aimed at eliciting male impulse buying. Instead of describing the watch, this advertisement goes on and on about an athlete describes him as an “extreme record breaker” a “peerless man of steel”, a role model for all other men with this watch as his sole companion. The word “companion” is not even used in reference to relationships with other people. On the other hand, an advertisement for a similar product in a women’s magazine might relate to impressing other people, contain numerous emotional connotations.

Women are also frequently encountered in advertisements that promote food products, laundry detergents, cleaning supplies, child care products, and household decorations and if men are present in such commercials, they often appear as bystanders or casual onlookers. Advertising for cosmetics is often directed towards women, giving tips on how to use the product to seduce and attract men while advertising for home care products advises them on how to take better care of their home, of their children and impress their husbands. This kind of advertisement reinforces stereotypes about child care, marriage and family life and represents a division of labor that has long been outdated. In a male commercial, female characters serve to sort of embellish the scene, create an often erotic atmosphere for the testosterone-charged male consumer. For instance, it is not unusual to witness an incredibly attractive female character with perfect body proportions, dressed in outrageously revealing clothing and in a discernibly erotic position starring in a car commercial. This kind of targeted advertising, while incredibly good for business, both for the magazine and for the car manufacturer also sends messages. These messages may not be intercepted by adults who can choose between which signals to respond to and which ones to ignore, it can also be intercepted by young adults or even children.  These messages can also go as far as to have a global reach. Can impact subsequent strategies to advertise in developing countries and even third world countries. This can clearly be observed from existing advertising strategies around the world. Advertising has become somewhat similar all over the world, become a universal language aimed at exploiting the gender segments in the market. Unfortunately, it has been exported with its archaic prerequisite for a foul depiction of gender. In Japan, women are portrayed in degrading and demeaning ways and often seen in commercials engaging in the performance stereotypical roles (Arima, 2003). Research all over the world shows that the advertising industry employs an incredibly high degree of sexism in the roles it assigns to women characters within commercials.

The kind of impact the gender differences have on society can be elucidated from the following scenarios. When a boy in a discussion group was asked about why boys do not talk about sex and relationships he responded by saying that talking about relationships was not the kind of thing “boys do” (Willemsen, 1998: 860). A study involving 400 children from a variety of backgrounds in science magazine concluded that girls often start believing that they are less intellectually brilliant than boys at the age of six which is the age that children begin recognizing scenes from advertisements and can generally understand television (Oates et al, 2006). When groups of children between the ages of five and seven years old were told two stories about a really smart person and a really nice person, all the boys and girls answered that the smart person was most likely one of their respective genders. However, the answers began to change when the researchers posed the same question to the older children. The girls had changed their minds and were less likely to say that the really smart person was female.

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The advertising industry has defined masculinity and femininity in a narrow heterosexual way, leaving out a significant portion of the male population that does not conform to their requirement for a rough, “uncompromising” aggressive man or a “soft” emotional and sensual woman. Thus, the industry has created an image of the society that is unrealistic, unprogressive and unforgivably discriminatory.  It could be that men are emotional human beings and that there is an emotional aspect to their consumer decisions. It could also be possible that the market could be segmented in other more accessible ways rather than through the overreliance on gender differences, that, from all indications, the industry itself has created. There could be a positive financial result if businesses prevent the backlash in female clientele that often occurs after sexist advertisements considering that two third of consumer spending is controlled by women and that women are the primary shoppers in many households.

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Although gender segments are large, profitable, easily identifiable, accessible and responsive to the elements of the marketing mix (Wolin, 2003), the consequential creation of unrealistic standards for beauty and attractiveness, propagation of stereotypes and the ultimate legitimization of gender inequality and discrimination is the ultimate price the society will have to pay for the kind of sexist advertising witnessed in this age.  There is a clear need for the advertising industry to change its position regarding gender in advertising and take up a leading role in ensuring that advertising has a positive rather than negative impact on the society with regard to its representation and promotion of gender and gender roles in the society. It is time for the anachronistic perceptions of gender to take their rightful place in history and pave way for a more tolerant society that recognizes every individual based on their own merit and unique attributes and does not seek to lump people together on the mere basis of anatomical differences. It is irresponsible to include in the messages that we deliver to future generations, an affirmation that a certain segment of the population occupies a position of privilege right from birth, are more superior and reserve the right to look down upon others.

Reading for Social Change – Narratives of Fredrick Douglass, Malcolm X and David Raymond

Reading and writing play a crucial and fundamental role in the quest to change the prevailing state of affairs within an environment. Unjust situations cannot be corrected if the people within them do not recognize the situation as unjust, if the people within them do not acquire the knowledge necessary to inform themselves that the treatment they receive is indeed degrading and that they, as individuals, are undeserving of it. The achievement of basic skills of literacy can catapult an individual to great avenues that lead to achievements that he/she would not have thought possible in his/her current illiterate state. Reading creates ideas within an individual, effectively nurtures those ideas with each additional piece of information that the individual gathers from reading, creates aspirations, develops the individual’s personality which in turn dictates the attitudes that this individual will display towards his environment, his subsequent actions within it and shapes perspectives on the world and guides the individual to fulfilment.

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            Through reading, individuals are able to realize the dynamics of their situations, develop new and informed attitudes and take actions that will lead to effective change. This paper seeks to examine the ways that individuals can/have individuals use(d) reading to foster change and the challenges encountered as one tries to attain literacy through the exploration of the literacy narratives of Fredrick Douglass, Malcolm X and David Raymond.

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Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in the early decades of the 19th century, how then is it that he went on to become a notable anti-slavery lobbyist, an eloquent speaker, a newspaper editor and as of 1889, the United States minister to Haiti? This question is best answered through Douglas’ narrative which embodies the search for African American Identity, freedom, the fight for the emancipation of this race of people and the role of reading in the achievement of these objectives.

As a young slave, Douglass reports being unable to recall whom his father was, having no knowledge of his age and not feeling the need to personalize these inadequacies because every slave he knew about had no such knowledge. In fact, as Douglass reports, it was the wish of the slave masters to keep the slaves ignorant and denying them access to any kind of information was a way they hoped to achieve this. Most slaves like Douglass were not as lucky as he was to have been the recipient of his master’s wife’s earlier show of generosity towards slaves. She made the initial ‘error’ of treating him “as she supposed one human being ought to treat another” (Douglass, 1845, P100) and even took initiatives to ensure that he was slightly educated by teaching him “the alphabet” (Douglass, 1845 p101). However, this initial streak of good fortune for Douglass does not last long as his mistress withdraws her tutoring services, changes her attitude towards the entire subject of his education and is often incensed when she finds Douglass making efforts to improve upon the skills she had taught him by reading a newspaper or a book (Douglass, 1845).

This narrative reveals the true utility of ignorance as a tool for the oppressor to maintain effective control upon the oppressed. Denying the oppressed access to any form of knowledge, any form of information that will reveal the inconsistencies of his current oppressed state with that of a normal human being with his similar attributes makes the oppressed individual unwilling to question the direction of his oppressor, accepting of his condition as normal or even ideal and perpetuates the cycle of oppression that is unlikely to reach its culmination unless someone can break it through reading. Douglass continues to read despite the repeated warnings he receives from his owners, he befriends and bribes the neighbourhood children with bread so they could give him “the more valuable bread of knowledge” (Douglass, 1845 p101), he practices his writing skills on Master Thomas’ spelling books, exploited every opportunity that would present itself at his disposal to access the viable ways of acquiring literacy and is incredibly successful (Douglass, 1845).

Douglass’ success at being literate opens up the world for him, he is able to see the realities of slavery as an institution, to discover that he as a black person was an individual, equal to the white man and deserving full human access to fundamental human rights and there was no law, natural or otherwise that pre-specified his place in the world was to be under the service of the white man for his entire life. Reading had thus achieved its primary function for Douglass, provision of information and through this the onset of Douglass’ mental emancipation. Acquiring literacy gives one access to stories from all over the world, through these Journals and stories the world opens up along with the possibilities contained within it.

One is able to visualize the extent of an unjust condition, broaden one’s scope and knowledge of the situation and bring one in to contact with tactics that other people around the world are using to foster change in the same situation. This was especially true for Douglass. Through his reading, he meets with Sheridan’s speeches and from the Columbian Orator, he got the sense of the bold denunciation of slavery by slave and the powerful vindication of human rights that result from it. Douglass’s perception of the world is forever changed as a result of the reading, he interprets his situation differently and he sees the condition of slavery in a clearer light, along with all the powerlessness that comes along with it, he is consequently displeased, restless and uncomfortable with the harsh realities of his existence (Douglass, 1845).

 In a way, the slave owner was right to object to teaching Douglass how to read and write. What resulted from his persistence and eagerness to defy his master was sadness, discontent, torment and anguish. He could now detect the inconsistencies in slavery, he could see that slavery was not right and he had been given the strength to fight the system and restore his identity as a man not subject to another. Douglass could no longer conform to the ideals of slavery anymore, he was no longer mentally enslaved. Through reading, he had thus attained mental freedom. He was halfway down the path to freedom where he could define himself, the things around him, express himself in his own terms, in his own words and live his life by his own terms. Through reading, Douglass went ahead to make great achievements, became a champion for African American civil rights and even Women’s rights.

While for Douglass reading became the tool to achieving mental freedom for Malcolm X reading uncovered the extent of the historical injustices committed against people of colour by the white people. Unlike Douglass, Malcom had actually received preliminary education, he just could not use his education to communicate effectively. This often left him feeling frustrated when he tried to write letters to Mr Elijah Muhammad, thus begun a fresh struggle to attain a reasonable education through the painstaking task of copying down the entire dictionary! (X, 1965).

Though unorthodox, Malcolm’s method broadened his word base, improved his handwriting and enabled him to pick up any book and actually understand what it was saying. True to the words of Mr Elijah Muhammad, history had indeed been “whitened” and Malcolm was able to discover how insufficient his education had been. How the conscious effort of the white man to discount the role of the black man from history had left gaps in his knowledge and rendered the black man with no formal identity, with no utility in a classroom other than as a subject for laughter (X, 1965, P3).  Malcolm sought to fill this gap in knowledge, he read books by Will Durant, H. G. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois just to get “a glimpse into black people’s history” before they came to America (X, 1965 P4).  From here, he went deeper and eventually uncovered the realities and horror of slavery and the white man’s role in it. He realized the “variety of suffering and exploitation” that people of colour had suffered as a result of the willful actions of the white man. He caught a glimpse into the “promises, trickery and manipulation” that the white man had used on the people of India to control them (X, 1965, P5), how hundreds of millions of black people had been killed during the slave trade at the hands of the ruthless white man and how the white man had arrived in foreign lands disguised as Christian traders and used this as his “initial wedge” before the commencement of ruthless plunder and conquest (X, 1965, P5). 

As Malcolm reports, Reading changed the course of his life completely, it awoke something inside him that was dormant and had always been craving to be “mentally alive” (X, 1965, P6).  After prison, Malcolm went one to become one of the most powerful and articulate leaders of the black American society in the 60s and developed the strategy of separatism to inculcate a sense of self-identity among black people (X, 1965. P1). His actions in promoting this strategy were so critical that he was assassinated in 1965. If Malcolm had not picked up a book, he would have died a lowly robber and would not have left behind a legacy that credits him with underscoring the value of a truly free populace and demonstrating the great lengths that individuals will go to, to secure freedom.

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For Malcolm and Douglass, reading became the very thing that set the foundation for the great legacy they would leave behind and the great achievements they would make regardless of the oppressive systems in place to ensure there would be no such outcome. Reading became the tool to break away from injustices and bring an entire race of people along with them. However, being unable to read does not have to interfere with your ability to generate effective ideas for social change and champion for black separation like Malcolm X, it can interfere with the most basic, most primal functions that we often take for granted.

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Imagine being unable to navigate through your bus schedule, being unable to order in a restaurant menu, unable to text your friends using your cellphone, to express your thoughts to other people, feeling isolated because you lack the tools to show others that you are actually intelligent. One only needs to observe the frustration that David Raymond goes through while he tries to navigate the challenges he encounters while learning how to read and write as a result of being dyslexic (Raymond, 1976). Learning from the camp director that he has a high IQ is not enough to prove to him that he is not ‘dumb’ as he has wrongfully concluded, he needs further assurance that can only be achieved by learning how to read himself and not having to depend on others to type his essays, read novels or having to attend frequent special education classes (Raymond, 1976, P198).

Raymond frequently experiences “a lack” and this lack is relatable all over the world. One such instance where I could relate to this narrative is my experience reading a foreign text, I find myself mindlessly staring at the content, marvelling at its complexity and concluding that I am quite unintelligent if I cannot fathom what the text is saying. Even simple statements and words have the capacity to perplex you if you cannot read as Raymond reports and it doesn’t help when there is constant taunting from your classmates (Raymond, 1976) 

To further elaborate on the value of learning how to read, I will draw a specific example from my readings on gender inequality in education. According to the proceedings of the 1996 world conference on literacy, the choice of becoming literate is denied to some groups in India by not informing them of its existence and utility or making the choice to stay illiterate for them. Women, in particular, are shut out of the education system which is almost exclusively left for males from affluent families.

Women often express feelings of isolation especially when they leave the confines of rural life to the cities where oral traditions hold little to no value (Samant, 1996).  They have to constantly depend on literate people who live in the city, they cannot seek formal employment and have to live in the slums in utter poverty. An example is drawn from a group of women who wanted to submit a petition to the police protesting the presence of illegal alcohol dens in the community and were unable to write one up for themselves let alone “sign one that was prepared for them” (Samant, 1996 p3).

This example is an accurate depiction of the kind of impotence that not knowing how to read can create within society. People will have great ideas for social change but will not be able to present them in a form that can benefit anyone. When one is illiterate one becomes invisible, one cannot read about their legal rights, cannot become financially or physically independent and may not be able to overcome the obstacles that serve to lock individuals in a cycle of poverty and social disadvantage (Samant, 1996). Moreover, this individual will never know what exactly their rights are, this creates an avenue for exploitation, discrimination and contributes to the helplessness and inequality that exacerbates cases such as domestic violence and intimate partner violence.

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From the discussion presented above, it is clear that reading is a fundamental tool that acts as the foundation for any initiatives aimed at achieving social change as is evident from the narratives presented by Malcolm X and Fredric Douglass. Without reading, individuals will never be able to identify the inconsistencies in action that make up an unjust situation and will never react to it and even if they can identify these inconsistencies, they will lack the tools for effective change as is seen from the example of the women group in India. In spite of the significant challenges that come with reading as seen from the narrative presented by Raymond, it is a worthwhile venture that will foster personal freedom, awaken the spirit if activism and lead the individual to the ultimate goal of self-fulfilment.

Impact of Easy Access to Pornography on Young People’s Sexual Relationships

Pornography is defined as sexually explicit media whose primary intention is to arouse its audience sexually (Malamuth & Hupin, 2005). Pornography can also entail descriptions, pictures and visual images of naked or half-clothed bodies typically portrayed in genital contact (Traeen et al, 2006). It is normal for young people to grow curious about sex and sexuality as their bodies undergo sexual maturity. The mass media can prove to be of great utility to young adults as they seek private and comfortable ways to earn about sexuality, sexual intercourse and the norms surrounding these subjects. Pornography has become more available for young people in this current age of technological advancement. Young boys no longer have to steal copies of outdated playboy magazines from their fathers or brothers just to get a look at a naked woman’s body. Sexual content has gone mainstream and is more likely than not to serve as a primary source of sexual information for young people. Sexual content is now readily accessible, in many diverse forms according to the user’s preference. Internet sites now include access to sexual content that is less contemporary, more bizarre, offer more anonymity for their users and are increasingly reducing the restrictions of access to the content is more available and more affordable (Cooper, 1998). In fact, the increasing appetite for sexual content among internet users has been the biggest primary driver of the internet industry accounting for a significant portion of revenue each year. This paper seeks to show the effects of pornography consumption on young people’s sexual relationships by utilizing available research on this subject. This paper makes the assumption that all of these young people eventually enter into sexual relationships which may differ on the degree of commitment but exist nonetheless.

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Small studies of adolescents residing in the United States showed that exposure to pornographic material was almost universal by the age at which most young people graduate high school (Byrant & Brown, 1989). Now that the internet and new media technologies such as smartphones have been made more accessible to young people, pornography is even more accessible than ever before. In a click of a button, young people have access to more pornographic content than a 1980s youth could have dreamt of even on his most imaginative days. The average American youth does not even have to visit the internet to access pornography, sexually explicit material is readily available on mainstream media channels on cable and satellite television (Roberts & Foehr, 2004).

The effects of pornography cannot be considered to be uniformly negative across all young adult users but a considerable number of research studies have emerged to show that the consumption of pornographic material is associated with a higher degree of negative outcomes than positive outcomes. In a study done by Brown & L’Engle (2009), increased consumption of pornographic material was found to be associated with riskier sexual encounters and greater incidence of sexual relations that occur on one occasion without the expectation for long term commitment (hookups) among young adults. Moreover, college students who consumed more pornography were found to engage in sexual activity with a higher number of partners and engage in sexual activities that are considered to be riskier such as oral sex than those who did not consume such material. Moreover, the study found that young people who viewed more pornographic material online had the tendency to have a higher number of previous sexual partners, would engage in more casual sex in the form of one night stands and had plans to engage with more sexual partners in the future than did those who viewed less pornographic material or viewed none at all. Moreover, according to a self-report questionnaire filled out by a large sample of undergraduate male and female young adults, it was found that individuals who had had more encounters with pornographic material are more accepting of extradyadic sexual activities in addition to having a higher number of sexual partners in their lifetime (Carrol et al, 2008)

Increased consumption of pornography can also lead to negative perceptions of individuals from their partners within a relationship. This is according to a study conducted by Bergner & Bridges in 2002, where females whose sexual partners engaged in the regular consumption of pornography characterized their partners negatively and expressed feelings that seemed to show that they perceived the repeated use of the pornographic material as a threat to the stability of their relationship with their partner. Moreover, these females often attributed a decrease in sexual intimacy to the partner’s use of pornographic material. The study also showed that the repeated viewing of pornographic material was directly correlated with an increase in problematic attitudes and behaviour such as the sexual objectification of women. The association of pornography consumption with these problematic attitudes was further proven by a study conducted by Foubert et al in 2011, which showed that increased consumption of pornographic material could lead to an increase in the display of aggressive attitudes towards sex, increased aggression towards women and greater acceptance of sexual abuse in the form of rape.

Pornography consumption could also lead to decreased commitment to relationships according to a study by Lambert et al in 2012 which found that pornography consumption had the effect of weakening commitment to one’s relationship and the engagement in higher risk sexual behaviour as a result of this decreased commitment. This study demonstrated that the use of pornography has negative effects on the level of commitment to sexual relationships among young people and resulted in a higher incidence of infidelity in college students who were in committed dating relationships. Moreover, a separate study conducted by Morgan in 2011 showed that pornography consumption within relationships is associated with an incidence of decreased sexual satisfaction by the partners involved in the relationship and could be associated with partner’s feelings of betrayal as a result of the pornography consumption itself (Manning, 2006).

In their study, Lambert et al (2012) hypothesized that the consumption of pornography will lead to an increased desire for sexual variety and increase the attention that subjects give to relationship alternatives and therefore, lower the commitment to the primary romantic partner. Specifically, that pornography consumption would be negatively correlated to commitment and infidelity and that commitment would mediate the relationship between the use of pornography and the occurrence of infidelity. The reason for this hypothesis could be because pornography consumers often view content from a variety of sources with a variety of actors who have different anatomic peculiarities. This may arouse interest from the viewer which may result in seeking alternatives that could replicate what is contained in the pornographic material. This interest will divert his/her attention from his existing sexual partner to the pursuit of other partners. This hypothesis was not only proven in their study which, as stated earlier showed that individuals who were frequent consumers of pornographic material displayed lowered levels of commitment to their romantic partners but can also be seen to have been proven in another study by Zillman & Byrant in 1988 where male and female students were exposed to pornographic material once a week for six weeks and then told to report on their satisfaction with their existing partners afterwards. Those who viewed the material reported being less satisfied with their sexual partners’ sexual behaviour and even appearance. This study also found that male subjects who engaged in the regular consumption of pornography as per the direction of the study were more dominating within the relationship and paid less attention to their sexual partners as opposed to those who did not.

All these studies show that the increased access to pornographic material has had negative effects on the sexual relationships of young adults with increases in risky sexual behaviour, increase in the number of sexual partners and diminished commitment to romantic relationships being of primal importance. However, the effects of pornography are not uniformly negative across all studies. Some studies have found that the increased access to pornography may actually be beneficial to young adult sexual relationships by influencing positive attitudes towards sex and sexuality in general and acting as a safe platform from which young people can engage in the sexual exploration of their significant others and themselves (Goodson et al, 2011). Moreover, a study conducted by Hald & Malamuth (2008) showed that users of pornography report specific benefits associated with their increased consumption of pornography. For instance, users reported increased sexual knowledge as well as the improvement of attitudes towards their sex life and towards the opposite sex and even a general improvement in the overall quality of life that they experience. The results of this study may suggest to the casual observer that an increased consumption of pornography may actually have a positive effect on the quality of sexual relationships among young adults but it is important to remember that this study was conducted on subjects who were already avid users of pornographic content who may have wanted to justify their use of this content by greatly exaggerating its positive effects on their lives and relationships.

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While the negative consequences of the easy access to pornographic material are overwhelming, the positive effects should not be negated. Specifically the creation of a safe platform for sexual exploration and sexual education for young adults and the creation of positive attitudes towards sexuality in general. However, young adults involved in committed sexual relationships should be aware of the negative consequences that their use of pornographic material can have on their attitudes towards their partners and on their relationships in general.

Cases Where Intoxication and Mistake of Fact were used as a Defense To Crime


This defense is often used in cases involving aggravated murder. While it does not completely exculpate the defendant of the charges of aggravated murder it may serve to lower the charge of aggravated murder to murder. In the case of State v Slagle, it was alleged that the defendant broke into the victim’s house, attempted to rape her and stabbed her multiple times before she died. The defense of intoxication was denied as the defendant did not portray any signs of intoxication upon his arrest or in the course of his detainment. Moreover, if the intoxication had indeed been present, which from all indications it was not, it was not to such an extent that it precluded the formation of the intent to commit the crime as was established by the account of the defendant’s actions during the commission of the crime.

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Despite the applicability of intoxication as a defense for aggravated murder, using it as a defense, in this case, was inappropriate due to the overwhelming amount of evidence that could prove the contrary. Intoxication should negate the elements of deliberation and premeditation. However, in the case of Slagle, there was a deliberate attempt to avoid detection by entering through the front window which was farthest from the victim’s bedroom and from the view of the family residing in the adjacent house. Moreover, Slagle’s movements in the house were stealthy, he exercised caution by removing his shoes to avoid detection and when he attempted to escape capture from the police he did so with speed and agility which is not typical of an intoxicated individual.

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His inability to prove that he was indeed intoxicated also rendered his attempt to cite a violation of due process without merit. This violation, hinged on his alleged intoxication and its capacity to prevent him from knowingly waiving his rights to remain silent and obtain an attorney. The intoxication having been proven to be absent this particular proposition was rejected.  I would argue this defense in specific cases where intoxication was involuntary and other more favorable defenses such as accident can serve as supporting defenses to preclude intent and negate the element of premeditation.

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Mistake of fact

Using this defense requires proving that the harm done was not caused by the defendant’s voluntary action. That the defendant lacked the mens rea required to commit the crime and that a reasonable man in the defendant’s position would have thought that things were as the defendant alleges them to be. This defense brings to mind the classic example of a man who takes an umbrella that does not belong to him without knowledge of the fact. This man is innocent because he lacks the intent to steal the umbrella. Mistake of fact is a defense if the commission of a crime results from ignorance on the part of the defendant and would not result in the commission of another crime if the things were as the defendant believed them to be.

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For instance, in the case of United States v Kairouz, the defendant arrived in Boston Airport with a girdle and an apron strapped to his waist which he believed concealed cocaine (class II controlled substance). Upon search by customs officials, five pounds of heroin (a class I controlled substance) were discovered. During his trial, the defendant maintained that he was under the erroneous assumption that the substance he was carrying was not heroin but cocaine. However, this defense was denied and the defendant was convicted of importation of a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute said substance. This defense was not valid and completely inappropriate in this case since importing and being in possession of cocaine still carries the same sentence as importing and being in possession of heroin.

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Why the defense thought the defense of mistake of fact would be applicable in this case is difficult to elucidate. The defense of mistake of fact is not only an inappropriate defense for this case but also for cases where it seems likely that it would be looked upon favorably. For instance, take our classic case of the man with the umbrella, it is probable that the defense of mistake of fact could get him an acquittal should he be tried for larceny, but it would also open up an avenue for the defense to show evidence of the man’s familiarity with his own umbrella and thus, such mistake is unlikely. In my opinion, it would be much safer to argue that the man lacked the intent to steal the property of another and leave it at that.

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet Critical Assessment

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) originated in 1997 after the results of an eleven-week trial sponsored by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) revealed that dietary modification is effective at reducing in reducing blood pressure by about 6-11 mm Hg in both hypertensive and normotensive subjects. The NHLBI and the American Heart Association has been advocating for its adoption especially to at-risk populations in the United States and around the world.

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The DASH diet is based on the utilization of ancient dietary principles to combat modern world lifestyle diseases through the incorporation of vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, the inclusion of micronutrients and a reduction of sodium intake. A typical day following the DASH diet would involve the consumption 5 servings of vegetables, 7servings of carbohydrates, 2 servings of low-fat dairy, 2 servings of lean meat and consuming nuts and seeds at least 2 times a day (NHLBI, 2006).

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Critical Assessment

The NHLBI recommends macronutrient intake in the form of saturated fat, protein, carbohydrates be restricted to 6%, 18%, 55% of total daily calories respectively and fiber and cholesterol consumption limited to 30 grams and 150 milligrams respectively. On the other hand, micronutrient intake of 2300 mg sodium, 4700 mg potassium, 1250 mg calcium, and 500mg magnesium is recommended (NHLBI, 2006). Although the diet does not typically indicate any probiotic benefits, it provides a variety of food options that have these benefits. For instance, individuals may opt to consume yogurt in the dairy product component which is high in probiotics.

The DASH diet has proven effective in reducing hypertension (Siervo et al, 2015), particularly in African American individuals compared to other ethnic groups. The diet has also been effective at reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and assisting in the management of obesity.

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 Individuals who wish to begin following this diet are advised to gradually increase their intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains if not previously accustomed to taking these foods in the high amounts prescribed by the DASH diet since the sudden high fiber intake has been known to cause bloating and diarrhea (NHLBI, 2006).  The DASH diet’s greatest strength would be its capacity to improve the health outcome of all individuals who follow it without necessarily involving the use of medication. In fact, physicians are advised to consider the DASH diet as a first-line therapeutic intervention for individuals with blood pressure levels that are only slightly higher than normal.

Apart from its cardiovascular benefits strict adherence to the DASH diet has also been associated with better cognitive outcome equivalent to being a year younger in elderly subjects (Berendsen et al, 2017. However there is still little adherence to the diet due to the ready availability of unhealthy processed food options compared to the DASH diet recommended low sodium, nutrient-dense options especially to under-resourced communities.

The DASH diet is quite practical for a modern lifestyle. Legume and vegetable dishes are fairly easy to prepare, fruits, nuts and seed and typically consumed raw or dried and dairy products are often readily available. The diet does not have any known negative side effects, it has been proven as a sustainable method to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases that can be used by individuals in all stages of life including those who engage in competitive sports.  Although some of the food options provided by the DASH diet may invoke certain allergic reactions i.e. bread in gluten sensitive individuals and dairy products in lactose intolerant individuals, the diet provides several alternatives that those individuals can opt for instead (NHLBI, 2006).

In spite of its many attractive attributes, the nutrient-dense foods prescribed by the DASH diet are quite expensive compared to its caloric dense alternatives which is one of the reasons why the diet is yet to be adopted in middle to low-income households. The American Heart Association as well as the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute is always advocating for the adoption of this diet not only by individuals suffering from hypertension or those at risk of developing diabetes, but also by the general population due to its proven efficacy in aiding weight loss, impeding the development of certain cancers, improving kidney health and promoting weight maintenance without the adverse side effects experienced with other diets with little to no research to support them.

Although there are no celebrities currently trying to popularize the diet, perhaps due to lack of incentives, the diet could use a popular spokesperson to clarify on its purpose and demonstrate its effects to the mainstream audience. I would adopt this diet for myself and recommend it to my family and friends due to the variety of nutrient dense food options it provides for every meal, its emphasis on wise food choices, its capacity to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and the fact that there is numerous scientific research to testify to all its acclaimed benefits.

Net Neutrality Debate

Net neutrality simply means that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must allow equal access to all internet applications and content regardless of the source or nature of the content. Although there seems to be no authority capable of enforcing net neutrality on ISPs, the law on net neutrality clearly states that the internet is neutral. This means that all internet backbone owners create internet traffic on a first come first served basis (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).

Upon careful examination of the debate surrounding this contentious topic, it is my opinion that net neutrality is essential to regulate the power that Internet Service Providers have on how individuals and institutions use the internet. Although, the current neutral state of the internet has created the problem of sluggish download speeds and poor video transmission due to the heavy internet demand in big cities such as New York and San Francisco, I feel that ISPs have the capacity to improve their infrastructure without the need to result to data caps, metered connections and higher rates (Laudon & Laudon, 2015). While it is accurate that high bandwidth usage on iPhones and on video streaming sites is to blame for degrading network infrastructure as is the case in AT&T, (Laudon & Laudon, 2015) the burden of expanding networks should not fall on the consumer and if it should, then, it should be justified which it is not in this case.

Data consumption has indeed risen over the years. However, the cost of transporting data over networks has also decreased considerably. This means that ISPs are now incurring less operating costs than they used to previously (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).  Instead of using these resources to upgrade and maintain their networks to accommodate the higher demand, they would like to charge internet users higher rates, impose data caps and impose exorbitant prices on high bandwidth sites such as YouTube and Netflix. One may argue that the current problem with ISPs is the lack of competition in the internet providers business, this has enabled them to attain their desire to charge high bandwidth users higher and spend very little on the maintenance of networks. If there was sufficient competition, consumers would have the option of switching to service providers that actually enforce net neutrality and actively maintain their infrastructure (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).

Apart from using negligence as an excuse to charge consumers more, ISPs would also like to disadvantage online streaming businesses by ensuring that consumers of services such as Netflix and Hulu run out their allotted data and are forced to switch to ISP backed streaming services that have no data caps as can be deduced from the deal made between Microsoft and Comcast (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).  Moreover, ISPS may also block online streaming from other providers in a bid to force consumers to use their own on-demand movie rental services. While it remains uncertain whether the government or any other agency for that matter can impose net neutrality, practices such as these should be discouraged as they impede a fair competitive practice in business.

The debate surrounding net neutrality is mainly fueled by the degraded state of US internet infrastructure and ISPs’ suggestion of the “fairest” way to offset the cost of expanding networks (Laudon & Laudon, 2015). Although charging individuals who consume more bandwidth more, imposing data caps and metered use may look like fair alternatives, they impose an unnecessary burden on the consumer which ISPs are well within their means to carry.

Data Mining as a Business Tool

What makes data mining an important business tool?

Data mining is an important business analytical tool because it facilitates the analysis of large volumes of data to find hidden patterns and relationships that cannot be obtained using OLAP (Laudon & Laudon, 2015). These patterns and relationships can then be used to guide future decision making within the business and even determine the effect of these decisions to future values through forecasting. Information gathered from data mining reduces the overall cost of advertising and promotions by providing businesses with trends in consumer behavior that can be used to design more effective marketing strategies that are more likely than not to increase revenue for the business.

What types of information does data mining produce?

Businesses can obtain a considerable amount of information by using data mining including associations, sequences, classifications and classifications (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).   Moreover, businesses can also use existing values to determine what future values will be through forecasting. Associations and sequences can be useful in determining occurrences within the data that are linked to a single event and discovering which events in the data are linked over a period of time. For instance, a buy one get one free promotion at a grocery store would not be justified if there was no association between past similar promotions and increased purchase. Classifications and clustering are useful in partitioning large data sets into meaningful groups or discovering which data sets can be grouped together (Laudon & Laudon, 2015). Through classification, businesses can examine sets of items that have been classified using a set of rules and determine the group to which an item belongs while through clustering, they can define affinity groups within a data set and partition databases into groups even if there are no predefined set of rules to do so (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).  

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In what type of circumstance would you advise a company to use data mining?

I would advise businesses to utilize data mining algorithms in situations where more detailed analysis than that provided by OLAP is needed (Laudon & Laudon, 2015). Analysis of consumer behavior is possible through associations and sequences as is the analysis of consumer response to one-to-one marketing campaigns (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).   Businesses that are encountering challenges in finding marketing strategies that work can use data mining to test the effect of new marketing strategies and prevent losses resulting from trial and error. For instance, if a restaurant desires to launch a “specials” promotion, data mining can give insight into what customers order most frequently and when they do so. This kind of information will enable the restaurant to tailor their choice of specials to the customers’ preferences and increase the probability that the “specials” promotion will be a big success.  

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Data mining would also be a worthwhile tool to consider in situations where customer acquisition or retention has become a challenge for a business entity. For customer acquisition, data mining would facilitate the identification of the most profitable customers, visualization and prediction of their consumer behavior and the generation of effective strategies to attract such customers and encourage them to spend more. For customer retention, data mining will provide information on the most probable reasons why customers leave and which customers are likely to leave which should assist in guiding the development of marketing strategies to retain such customers (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).

Karla Homolka Classification based on Groth and MTC: R3

Karla Homolka participation in the sexual assaults was planned and non-violent, there was no attempt on her part to be in control of the situation nor did she demonstrate demand for ritualistic forms of torture as did Bernardo. Based on the Groth typology, Karla cannot be classified as an anger rapist or a power rapist. Her classification as a sadistic rapist would depend on whether classification would be based on the crime in its entirety or her level of participation in it. If she were classified based on the entirety of the crime then, the amount of mental torture, as well as physical pain experienced by the victims during the assaults, would mean that she is a sadistic rapist.

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 However, because this particular typology assumes that males are almost always the perpetrators of sexual assault and was formulated based on interviews with a large number of male sex offenders and only three female sex offenders, Karla’s classification based on this typology as a sadistic rapist remains in doubt. However, recent advances in MTC: R3 may be able to clarify where Groth cannot.

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Based on MTC: R3, Karla would arguably fall into group six of the non-sadistic rapist. The feelings of inadequacy typical of this group are evident when Karla presents her sister to be assaulted by Bernardo despite having the freedom to stand up for herself and deny his request and the preoccupation with sexual coercion can be deduced from the fact that she actively participated in recording the assaults. While her level of involvement in the assaults does indicate some form of longstanding rape fantasy, it is devoid of the aggression displayed by sadistic types in groups 4 and 5. The fact that the assaults were well planned and executed distinguishes Karla from the opportunistic rapist (1 and 2). Moreover, she displays no preexisting vindictive feelings or anger towards her victims typical of the vindictive rapist and the pervasively angry rapist (8, 9 and 3).

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