Tag: Asia

In Cambodia, Tourists Buy and Shoot Cows with Rocket Launchers

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In third world countries such as Cambodia, animal rights are often cast aside. Naturally, the lives of oppressed people and their struggle for food, water, and other essentials come first. As a result, individuals in these countries are often able to commit gross atrocities against animals.

In modern Western culture, there is much debate over animal rights. Vegans and vegetarians disagree with those who believe it is morally okay to kill an animal for food. However, most would agree that it is wrong to kill an animal without purpose. Such an action is wasteful, at least in the eyes of the West.

In Cambodia, though, the attitude is a little bit different. Over the past few years, rumors have surfaced on various blogs and informal reports that it was possible to shoot a cow in Cambodia with a rocket launcher. Some even stated that they were offered an animal target by default when shooting. Though it was, until recently, difficult to verify this, a recent Netflix documentary has opened the door to this atrocity.

In the show, Dark Touristhost David Farrier tours the world, searching for everything ‘mad, macabre and morbid” he can find. In an episode about South Asia, he visits a war-torn Myanmar and a resurrection in Indonesia. But before this, Farrier wants to see if the old Cambodian myth is true.

Arriving at a shooting range, the workers present him with a number of different weapons to choose from. After shooting at non-living targets, Farrier asks for the prize cow, and sure enough, he gets it. Though he chooses, out of common morality, not to shoot the animal, it is clear that this chilling practice is a reality in the small South Asian country.

Cambodia and its Lack of Cultural Justification

In Western culture, shooting a chained animal is inhumane. Yet, the interesting thing is, based on many aspects of Cambodian culture, one may expect it to be even more so on that side of the world.

In Cambodia, the vast majority of people are Buddhist. In fact, 95% practice Theravada Buddhism, the much stricter and more conservative of the two main branches. When Buddhists die, they believe that based on their actions in life, they will be reincarnated as another life form, often times an animal. Thus, they believe that the soul within a human may be exactly the same soul within an animal, but at a different point in its existence.

As a result, one may think that Cambodia would place a higher importance on the life of animals. Though they often use animals for important sacrifices to their spirits, this is understandably an honor killing.

The recreation of blasting chained cows, however, appears antithetical in a culture where the dominant religion is often vegetarian. Theravada monks, in fact, were only permitted to eat pork, chicken, and fish, and only if the monk knew the animal was not killed specifically for them. Still others are vegetarian entirely.

Thus, it appears that rather than a religiously sanctioned activity, this tourist activity is not representative of mainline Cambodian culture. Nonetheless, it still occurs with relative frequency in the formerly war-torn nation.

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Part IV- Humans and Animals: Possible Solutions and Justice

By. Joshua D. Glawson

With many of the issues previously mentioned, I have specified concerns about ‘Justice’ for animals. This includes using animals for consumption and for other practices. The best solution, however, lies not in banning the buying or selling of ivory or horns, nor in banning hunting. The most practical solution is noted by CITES and the Cato Institute. Their solution is to make the trading of these goods legal, create private land that holds these animals in an open area while providing food and water for them in regions that are conducive, and treat them as cattle. In essence, this is what helped to save the American bison from reaching extinction.

The American bison, also known as buffalo, were estimated to be in the 60 million population range throughout North America prior to 1800. By 1900 that number dwindled to a measly 300 due to over-hunting, overconsumption, disease, and predation by wolves. In the mid to late 1800s, companies were making fertilizer out of bison skulls. They also used the skins for coats. Moreover, buffalo meat is continually a revered product for meat eaters.

In the 1870s, it was clear that bison were becoming rare and their value was extremely high on the market. In 1905, American citizens came together to initiate a protection organization for bison, the American Bison Society. By 1919, it was estimated there were 12,521 bison. This number grew exponentially once private companies began breeding them as cattle for consumption. Although the original initiative was a joint effort of government and private citizens, the largest growth was via the private sector. Today, it is estimated there are around 500,000 bison in North America. That is a drastic improvement from 300.

This same process could be implemented in areas of Africa and Asia by privatizing land, building fences that can keep elephants in, providing enough food and water for them, and selling them off as cattle throughout the world for human consumption. This would decrease the value of tusks and elephant meat, while helping to maintain a larger population of elephants. A practice such as this also disincentives poachers because of decreased profits. However, it would increase the job market in that region for taking care of elephants and all of the processes necessary for a market of trade for elephant goods. This is similar to the concept of decriminalizing drugs, as it would create fewer violent criminals, but many more jobs.

Ecology cannot determine a precise number of a species. It can only specify their relations with their environment and other species. We humans naturally utilize what is around us, sometimes to the eradication of other species. I cannot say this is good, especially if more use from them would benefit us further. The world of nature is constantly in chaos, detrimentally, and in harmony, symbiotically. We are a part of that same cycle and we are able to reason far more expediently than other animals. So, if we are able to get use out of animals, we will. Same, in favor of animal rights activists, if we can get the same use out of plants as animals, that lessons the need for animal consumption. Yet, if people still choose to use animals, I cannot fault them for it.

As far as the topic of domesticated animals is concerned, the best solution for giving them anything close to a human right would be under property rights. If a dog is owned by someone, that dog is then the property of that owner and if anyone were to steal or harm the dog, the case can be taken to court. If the same dog hurts another person’s dog, the owner of the victim will have a claim against the attacking dog.

In matter of ‘Justice,’ humans can go to a court and claim their grievances, other animals are unable. If one dog attacks another, it cannot explain what took place. In order for a court to be unbiased, a jury or judge must be able to understand both sides in a human case, and the evidence must be insurmountable for either side. In order to not muddy the water of ‘Justice’ further than we already struggle with, strictly keeping domesticated animals under human property rights will be the best possible voice for animals.

Now, animal rights activists may respond that the same was once said for women, children, slaves, elderly, and the mentally disabled. They may point to so-called evidence in nature or in domesticated animals to suggest animals have “morals,” “ethics,” or a sense of “Justice.” Perhaps they have some inclinations to these things under a different meaning. But, it is not evident that all of the other species share it, and it is between their species and the species they choose to associate with, to a much less effective degree than our own species is capable of.

Thus, I revert back to the fact that only humans have “rights.” ‘Justice’ is a human construct to give protection and to ensure recompense for the individual, not a collective, and these “rights” are strictly negative in the sense that we do not directly harm other people. Rights are a moral claim to not be infringed upon by others. It is my belief that only humans have morals, ethics, rights, and Justice.

Equally so, the world will never be a perfect place and simply wishing others that do not agree with one’s agenda no longer exist makes one part of the problem. Moreover, harming others who do not agree with oneself will not solve the world’s problems. No utopia will exist by wishing away problems and ridding the world of those that use animals for consumption. Vegetarianism, veganism, and animal rights activists need to understand that they are free to make a personal preference, but forcing that on others only infuriates others. By forcefully intertwining our morals, ethics, and Justice with that of other species, it would further complicate our position as individuals in the world. It would become a constant burden in courts, and destroy the very fabric which protects each of us – ‘Justice.’

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Building An Empire: How Lee Kuan Yew Transformed Singapore Into A Model Society

By Spencer Kellogg | United States

Once a territory of the British Empire, Singapore today is known for their clean, efficient society that features one of the most successful & extreme forms of free-market capitalism of the modern world. Combining nationalist and pro-business philosophies, their economy ranks amongst the most profitable and open ecosystems for trade in the world boasting incredibly low tax rates and market friendly regulations.

A clean and at times autocratic society, Singapore has made a fortune out of adapting to the infrastructure, technology and language of the western world while emphasizing the importance of traditional morality. One of the safest societies on the planet, The Port of Singapore was first developed as a main trading station of British Empire and today is arguably the busiest cargo dock and exchange market in all of Asia.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, Singapore was once known for its corruption and division. Lee Kuan Yew established the People’s Action Party in 1954 upon returning to Singapore from political studies at Cambridge University. After winning governing independence from the British in 1959, Lee Kuan Yew was elected the country’s first prime minister. He would remain in that position for decades to come.

In the early part of his governance, Lee pushed for a merger between Singapore and Malaysia suggesting that the two countries shared a geography and people. During those years the plan of a merger with Malaysia wasn’t the only things on Lee’s mind. His leadership was challenged by pro-communist elements within the government who questioned the merger. The Malaysian government had little interest in working with the small independent state and after riots broke out in the major city of Singapore in 1965, talks of a merger faded quickly. In a major blow to Lee, Singapore was separated from Malaysia in August of 1965.

The disappointment over the failure to merge with Malaysia hurt Lee but the pain was short lived as he turned his attention to building Singapore into a strong, modern, independent nation. In his many televised appearances, Lee emphasized a philosophy of collectivized interests that he would continue to promote throughout his life.

His speeches are dominated by ‘we’ and promote the society as being capable of anything they put their minds to. When The British Empire decided to withdraw its troops from Singapore in 1968, Lee mandated a national service for defense to protect his people and their economic interests. He also built large housing projects that helped unite the country and gave cause for those newly-minted military forces. Instead of protecting the mansions of a few, now the country had a collective interest to protect their own properties and hastily joined the force. Today over 80% of the population live in publicly subsidized housing that is individually owned.

Utilizing his strong port, Lee established a trading market attractive to many foreign investors while demanding high education and health standards for all of his citizens. When Nixon took America off the gold standard in 1971, Lee was quick to capitalize by establishing a foreign exchange & promote the Asian Dollar Market. These decisions proved important as Singapore’s port economy established itself as a key player in the global finance exchange.

Lee’s charismatic and stern rule characterized a country that straddles the line between western individualist thought and eastern collectivist nationalism. For example, in Singapore it is illegal to sell gum, jaywalk, graffiti, or indulge in the possession of illegal substances. Each carry harsh fines and jail time and have been part of modeling the society as a clean, safe, healthy civilization.

The experience of Singaporeans as a minority during the Malaysian rule was something that stuck with Lee far after the 1960s. Instead of harboring anger and resentment, Lee made sure that Singapore was to become a post-racial nation. He instituted bilingual education in all schools and sought to establish English as the primary language so as better to compete in the global world. He welcomed muslim populations that today live peacefully side-by-side with singaporeans.

Singapore is a city-state with very limited natural resources which imports/exports much of its goods. Their government have looked to fiscally conservative lending policies and high-tech trading markets to capitalize on their weakness as a small landmass. Today, the country ranks as one of the best educated and most healthy populations throughout the world thanks to an emphasis from the top down on economic and physical wellness of their people.

In 2017 the Singapore economy posted a growth of 3.6% as high demand for electronic goods surged. Singapore is known for their expertise in the oil, electronic & trading industries. Although the country is well documented as a free market haven, government and private businesses often share massive partnerships that benefit the society as a whole.

In an address to Parliament on Tuesday, finance minister Heng Swee Keat reported a $10 billion dollar economic budget surplus & announced the government’s plan to distribute a “hongbao,” which means gift in Mandarin, to all Singaporeans. This gift will cost the government a reported $700 million of the $10 billion surplus with citizens receiving between 100-300 Singapore dollars.

In March of 2015, Lee passed away from pneumonia. Almost two million people came to pay their respect to the leader who had led Singapore from a third-world developing country into one of the most modern and affluent nations in the world today. The budget surplus of Singapore and the redistribution of wealth into the hands of citizens is the legacy that Lee left. Multiracial, multi-language and fit to meet the needs of expanding ideas in a global world, Singapore remains a model society for all the world to marvel at.

The Necessity of Japanese Nationalism for Global Peace

By Ryan Love | USA

Nationalism is the new black. And in the Land of the Rising Sun a necessary resurgence is occurring. Growing threats from North Korea and China, as well as historical tensions with Russia, have led Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare that threats to Japan are at their highest since WWII. With nuclear powers surrounding Japan absent the US-Japanese military alliance Japan could be wiped off the map at worst, and at best become a secondary power in an East Asia rising in prominence. The reason behind these threats is simple: Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. The article that prohibits the re-militarization of Japan. Without a strong military, accompanied by nuclear weapons, Japan will likely continue to be threatened by its neighbors.

The Liberal Democratic Party, the party firmly in control of the Japanese Diet, knows all of this. And yet over 70 years of pacifism has rendered the necessary political capital to fund these changes lacking. The most recent poll conducted in Japan holds support of the current constitution at around 55%. And yet Japanese nationalism is on the rise. Nippon Kaigi, the predominant establishment nationalist movement in Japan has members at all levels of government, and frequently in the majority. At over 38,000 members strong Nippon Kaigi has worked successfully to revise history textbooks to omit alleged war crimes and push for reform to allow for the re-militarization of Japan. A demilitarized Japan only serves to allow for further destabilization in East Asia. Particularly because countries like China and both Korea’s harbor malice toward the now-defunct Japanese Empire. As these countries, particularly China and North Korea, continue to expand their military actions only a revitalized Japanese military can prevent these transgressions.

A militarized Japan is one that prevents North Korean missile launches and Chinese expansion into the East and South East China Sea. It also ensures that America has a military ally capable of holding its own if conflicts arise in the future. And make no mistake the risk of conflict in the status quo is exceptionally high. Ask yourself, if Japan was a nuclear power would North Korea continue to shoot missiles into the Sea of Japan? Would China continually infringe upon American interests in East Asia? The answer is no. A strong Japan helps to strengthen the United States. And a self-sufficient Japan, militarily, ensures that the United States doesn’t have to bear such a financial burden for Japanese security, without losing influence in East Asia. Recent estimates from the Council on Foreign Relations put the risk of war at over 40%. The United States needs strong allies in the event of a conflict. Absent a re-militarized Japan the United States sits in a difficult situation, particularly if a conflict involving any combination of China, North Korea, or Russia arises.

Like Americans, the Japanese love their country. And they desire strongly to be able to defend their homeland. 2018 has brought about significant geopolitical threats both for the United States and for one of its closest allies Japan. A restoration of the Emperor to his divine status, as well as a revitalized Japanese military, will display to Japan’s enemies, who are also America’s enemies, that further transgressions must end. Japan should not be ashamed of its history and its culture. Particularly when such shame fuels and allows its enemies to mobilize against it. To war monger would be pessimistic, but with rising threats, it is important that America, and our allies, are at their strongest.


Zeepin: A Distributed Innovation Center For The New Creative Economy

By Spencer Kellogg | USA

2018 is quickly becoming the year of NEO dApps (decentralized applications) and the list of creative projects launching on the NEO blockchain continues to grow every week. One of the more interesting platforms to launch this quarter is Zeepin (https://www.zeepin.io/) which aims to be an innovation hub for new creative ideas and localized economies. Led by former Arting365 CEO Zhu Fei, Zeepin aims to disrupt the global creative industry by providing a platform for individuals and small business users to create, license and grow digital assets through fundraising and copyright protection at a feasible cost. With financial and social backing from the NEO Council and a speaking spot on NEO’s current world tour, expectations surrounding Zeepin as a blockchain platform are beginning to solidify. Utilizing smart contracts through the NEO blockchain, Zeepin will enable individuals and organizations to launch innovative projects through a self-governed decentralized ecosystem that provides reliable digital assets secured within their platform. According to the latest report released by the United Nations, the output of the global creative industry is valued at 2.25 trillion dollars (United Nations Study on Creative Industry) and with few blockchain projects aimed at the industries of creation, Zeepin could rapidly establish itself as a leading provider in this growing market.

One of the hurdles within the online creative economy is the infrastructure with which content is created and verified. Especially for individual creators, it can be difficult to establish yourself as a business and find the kind of work suitable to your skill set. In this introductory video, Zeepin provides insight to how their platform can help create the entire ecosystem needed for content creators to succeed: A Designer’s Life on Zeepin. Books, films, advertisements, fashion and many more creative industries will require digital proof of ownership as more and more of our lives become entrenched in an online ecosystem. The difficulty of implementing rights confirmation of these produced creative works is where Zeepin shines. Within the Zeepin platform, there exist several intriguing dApps including ZeeRights, ZeeCrew and ZeeFund, each allowing for users to implement their ideas through localized funding and to claim ownership of assets through blockchain verification. ZeeRights will allow easy copyright creation and protection of digital assets while providing confirmation of credibility and progress to investors thereby building a mitigated risk fundraising platform. ZeeCrew will provide a cost-efficient and simple way for individuals and groups to set up a company on the platform. ZeeFund will allow for open and effective fundraising of capital for projects created in the Zeepin ecosystem. The Zeepin token ($ZPT) will be used for processing and compensation of the varied dApps throughout the platform.  Each of these decentralized apps within the larger platform should make creating, organizing, fundraising and verifying assets, startup businesses and creative goods a simple streamlined process.

For creative innovators in our new distributed online economy, it is imperative that the rights to personal work be validated in a professional and trust based verification model. Zeepin’s ‘copyright pro’ will implement digital asset support through the Zeepin blockchain, ensuring ownership rights to a created asset throughout its entire lifecycle from inception to selling and transfer. Another promising tool on the Zeepin blockchain is their ‘authorization pro’ which will utilize smart contracts to create decentralized trust and transaction features to distribute profits and confirm agreed upon payments between users. The roadmap listed on their website shows the wide scope of Zeepin’s projected dApp protocol with the most important features, ZeeChain & ZeeRights, almost fully completed as of this writing.

Zeepin’s leadership and development team feature a diverse set of expertise ranging from blockchain technology to the marketing industry. Co-founder Shenbi Xu has over 18 years of experience working in multinationals and served as the Asia-Pacific head of GE Innovation Center while Senior Developer Jason Xu boasts over 10 years of familiarization with building asymmetrical encryption applications and blockchain based upper and bottom interfaces. Chief branding officer Zhang Ying holds a dual MA in Fashion Design & Fashion Promotion from the University of Arts in London and Marketing head Shadow Tang is a brand consulting expert who was awarded an Effie Award for effective communications ideas and has worked with multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola and Volkswagen.

The public sale ICO of ZPT will begin on January 18th with early bird investors receiving a 30% bonus in the first two days of launch. The hard cap for the project is set at 42 million dollars and the total supply of Zeepin will be 500 million tokens (of which 50% will be offered for sale) giving investors a great opportunity for considerable return on a scarce token with a comparably low starting valuation. Their ICO will accept NEO/ETH/BTC and requires a KYC validation for each prospective investor. For more information on the token sale, you can click on the official Zeepin website at the top of this article or use their Telegram page (Zeepin Telegram) for a quick response. With over 10,000 members on their Telegram page, Zeepin has already garnered major interest from the broader cryptocurrency community and I would expect their ICO to sell out within days of listing.

Blockchain technology provides the promise to make each one of our lives less complex in a myriad of different ways. For the content creator or small business user that wants to build teams, organize and patent creative content, and create trust-based contracts that execute upon project completion, Zeepin appears to be at the forefront of available options. With a team that boasts over two decades of experience in technology and art, Zeepin could be a name that becomes synonymous with the verification and creation of online artistic content in the coming years. As one of the first ICO’s launched on the NEO blockchain, the wide support from the NEO community should provide stable interest to any potential investors. As the entire cryptocurrency space expands, market niches will continue to be identified and Zeepin’s creative commons appears to be a strong player in the future of blockchain implementation.

This is not investment advice and should not be taken as such, please always do your own research!