China’s Coronavirus Outbreak

Here’s an overview of China’s Coronavirus

Currently, leaving not only the city of Wuhan infected, but also other international cities vulnerable, China’s coronavirus is continuing to spread unabated. Patient zero appeared on December 31st last year, and the SARS-related respiratory disease quickly grew at an alarming rate. Today, this virus reached a shocking number of  42,000 confirmed infections over 28 countries. Most of the stores and businesses in China are closed, and other Asian countries closed down major department stores and places that usually hold a high population. In such, the Coronavirus became a global health concern all around the world. 

After the virus contaminated a handful of people in Wuhan, scientists and the World Health Organization were quick to identify the disease and its origin. Researchers found out that bats were New Coronavirus’ reservoir host. Although scientists are not sure how it was transmitted, they predict that it either transmitted to other animals, eventually leading up to us, or was sold in illegal black markets (as China consists of a lot of black markets for animals). 

Although scientists and the WHO were able to recognize the vaccine, the Chinese government denied proposing an action to prevent the disease from mushrooming to other countries. Due to its rapid outbreak, there were only a few ways in which the government could respond (they could only use thermometers and workers to look for potential patients). In such, people from Wuhan and other cities that had Coronavirus patients immediately took refuge in nearby countries, positioning South Asia and East Asia in danger. People were readily able to leave as it was difficult to differentiate the new Coronavirus to a regular cold. In social media, there were constant stories of how patients escaped Wuhan by taking fever-reducer drugs, indicating how easily people could get away from the government’s eye.

Currently, the control of the disease is still in the process as more confirmed patients are found all over the world. Although the world has a better grasp of what Coronavirus really is and ways to prevent it, it is still difficult due to its subtle symptoms and contagious characteristic, making everyone paranoid. To make matters worse, there has been racism against Asians from Caucasians that discriminate Chinese. People were trying to find a scapegoat for this crisis as their lives were put into danger. Korean social media is also quick to criticize foreigners from China. In addition to social issues, there have been political conflicts; for instance, many younger generations are criticizing President Moon for opening doors to Chinese tourists despite the virus. This phenomenon is happening to other countries as political parties clashed in these types of problems. Coronavirus is bringing political, social, and economic problems to our society. 

Many experts compare this crisis to that of MERS and SARS. Although this virus is less lethal than those two, its rate of contagion is much higher. The only way to keep ourselves safe is to wash our hands and wear masks. Stay safe!

Featured Image Source: Al Jazeera

-Mark Park (’20)-

Dutch Empty Cells: A Utopian Society?

Is Netherlands truly a utopian country with empty prison cells?

After years of struggle to have the so-called ‘perfect’ society, we may truly have discovered a utopian country: Netherlands.

Prison rates in the United States, United Kingdom, and various countries across Europe are faced with the influx of prisoners in jails. However, the Dutch has the opposite problem of having a lack of prisoners to fill up their jails.

Netherlands Cells for Asylum Seekers
Refugees wait in line to receive lunch. (dailymail.co.uk)

According to the Ministry of Justice, a third of Dutch prisons are currently empty while it predicts that there will be over 3,000 empty cells by 2021. This decline of jails is correlated with the rapid decline in the total number of inmates as it fell by 27% between 2011 and 2015. To put into perspective, while the US has about 666 prisoners per 100,00 citizens, Netherlands has 61, which is similar to the number in Scandinavia.

There are multiple causes for this phenomenon, including law enforcement and demographic changes.

One of the most common reasons for the decline is the novel approach that the Dutch takes in taking inmates; rather than incarcerating them for long periods of time, the government emphasizes rehabilitation, often giving certain freedom to inmates such as the right to visit the local library and canteen without supervision. By doing so, the government hopes to better support inmates when they assimilate back to their normal lives.

Netherlands Cells for Asylum Seekers
Afghan refugee plays piano in a prison cell (dailymail.co.uk)

The rise of the digital age is also attributed to this shift as technology has largely helped police officers better look over criminals. For example, in 2005, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport was able to catch a larger number of drug mules who were carrying cocaine, greatly reducing the number. Netherlands have also recently employed the use of electronic tagging of offenders after they are released in order to minimize the possibility of them repeating crime acts.

Another reason for the declining criminal rates is the demographics of Dutch. Like Japan, Netherlands has a high population of the elderly who is less likely to commit a crime. In addition, according to Professor Swaaningen, the increasing dependence on technology such as computers have caused teenagers, who cause the most crime, to remain more indoors, precluding possibilities of their committing crimes on the streets.

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Ages 40- 69 have the highest population density in 2014 (indexmundi.com)

The declining criminal and prison rates have made the government create solutions to use the empty cells.

Belgium and Norway have started to rent the unused cells in Netherlands by paying a certain amount of rent fees. According to a New York Times article, two years ago, Norway paid $27 million per year for a three-year contract in order to rent a prison. It also states that there is a “small waiting list” in Norway after it was advertised on a broadcasting system.

Similarly, over a dozen of prisons have been changed to used for asylum seekers this year, changing the settings of the cells into more modern day apartment style for families. De Koepel, a former prison in Haarlem, was renovated into a large soccer field for refugees while other areas have been changed to gymnasiums, kitchen facilities, and even outdoor gardens.

Netherlands Cells for Asylum Seekers
Migrants play football in the former prison of De Koepel in Haarlem (dailymail.co.uk)

The use of empty prison cells for renting and asylum seekers have caused a decline of prison cells as well. In response, many workers have expressed concerns about this issue.

In a Telegraph article, a closer of 5 prisons this year is equivalent to 1,900 people being “ redundant.”

Although the empty cells may pacify the tension with the refugee crisis, many are expressing concerns about the detrimental effects of the phenomenon.

Frans Carbo, a representative of the FNV union, claims that many prison workers are “angry and depressed” because “there is no future in prisons anymore- you never know when your prison will be closed.” He further posits that young people would not join the prison service as time passes.

Netherlands Cells for Asylum Seekers
Afghan refugee are able to live normal lives like Hayatullah in prison cells (dailymail.co.uk)

Likewise, the concerns of Dutch prisons are escalated even further when it comes to the role of government. For instance, Dutch MP Nine Kooiman argues that it is the government’s lack of security that led them to deal with this situation. She maintains that “ if the government really worked at catching criminals,” there would be no empty cells.

Furthermore, Jaap Oosterveer, a spokesman for the Ministry of Security and Justice sums up the situation as a time of “good and bad news.”

Whether or not the empty cells in Dutch is a portrayal of a utopian society is yet to be debated as many officials are perturbed and unsettled by the issue. Nevertheless, whether or not there will be a detrimental effect on prison jobs should be closely examined as further prisons transition into homes for those in need.

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2284261/Bet-escape-tunnels-Notorious-Dutch-prison-transformed-luxury-hotel-guest-sleep-cells.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/07/08/the-netherlands-have-a-strange-problem-empty-prisons/?utm_term=.d9c6a5867895

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37904263

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/world/europe/netherlands-prisons-shortage.htm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/12201375/Netherlands-doesnt-have-enough-criminals-to-fill-its-prisons-as-crime-to-drop.html

 

Shoot for the Moon: Soon to be a Reality

Space mission to the moon and back planned to take place in 2018.

Is a trip to outer space something you’ve always dreamed of? Our generation is said to have been born too late to explore the earth, yet born too early to explore the galaxy – middle children of history, if you will. However, that may no longer be the case as a trip to the moon might soon become a reality.

It was announced recently, by Space Development Company SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, that the company is planning on sending two lucky tourists around the moon by 2018. It’s nearly impossible to even fathom of what’s in it for the tourists when it comes to “mak[ing] a long loop around the moon”, as it’s difficult to conceptualize what it’s even like out there. As of now, all we can say is that the passengers will travel for “perhaps 300,000 or 400,000 miles distance altogether,” and that “the mission [will] not involve a lunar landing.” Moreover, if this trip is successful, it will be the first return of human beings to the deep space since the 1960~1970 Apollo plan. It has also been revealed that the private tourists have already paid a substantial amount of money for this getaway, and that they will be going through training as well as health and fitness check ups within this year.

“Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration.” – Elon Musk

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PC: IBTimes UK

The passengers are planned to travel on the capsule spaceship Crew Dragon, which will be placed on the rocket Falcon Heavy. The Dragon spacecraft will, for the most part, “operate…autonomously,” which means the passengers must “train for emergency procedures but will not be in charge of piloting the spacecraft.” 45 years have passed, but mankind will finally be re-exploring the solar system and beyond. It is exciting to see how far we have come in terms of technological advancements, and what more the future awaits. Who knows, maybe we weren’t born too early to explore the galaxy!

– Leona Maruyama (‘17)

Featured Image: SpaceX

Sources:

http://www.spacex.com/news/2017/02/27/spacex-send-privately-crewed-dragon-spacecraft-beyond-moon-next-year

http://www.azfamily.com/story/34622214/spacex-says-it-will-fly-2-people-to-moon-next-year

http://www.space.com/35844-elon-musk-spacex-announcement-today.html

Russia Partially Decriminalizes Domestic Violence

“If he beats you, it means he loves you.” In Russia, where old proverbs and traditions are still relevant today, the parliament voted to decriminalize domestic violence. Read on to find out what this means for the victims and the aggressors.

Late January, the Russian lower house of parliament, the Duma, voted 380-3 to decriminalize domestic violence unless it causes serious damage to the victim or happens more than once a year.  The bill will punish violations with a $500 fine or a 15-day arrest except in the cases of domestic abuse not subject to this law. If this bill takes effect, first-time offenders that do not cause harm severe enough to send the victims to the hospital will receive no penalties.

If this bill is approved by the upper house, the Federation Council, and signed by President Putin, Russia will become one of only three countries in Central Asia and Europe that does not have any laws specifically targeting domestic abuse. No or minimal opposition is expected in the Federation Council, and President Putin has already expressed his support for the bill.

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PC: yahoo.com

The amendment will overrule a ruling by the Russian Supreme Court that took effect last July that eliminated criminal liability for domestic violence that results in no physical harm but kept criminal charges for battery against family members. As soon as it began to be enforced, the law faced fervent opposition; Russian lawmaker Yelena Mizulina described it as “anti-family” and “undermining the parents’ ‘right’ to beat their children.”

Human rights activists argue that the government should be protecting the victims from more domestic violence; however, the Russian parliament has chosen “protecting the family unit as an institution” over protecting the women and children whose rights are violated every time they are assaulted by their own family. Other critics of the amendment claim that the passing of this bill will send a message to the Russians that domestic violence is not a crime and will fuel the rate of battery against family members, which is already high in the country.

According to the Russian government, 36,000 wives are beaten by their spouses every day, while 26,000 children are abused by their parents every year. In order to escape domestic violence, 2,000 adolescents commit suicide and 10,000 run away every year. However, 60-70% of victims do not seek help, so 97% of domestic abuse cases never appear in court.

domestic-violence
PC: domestic-violence-law.com

Archaic ideologies have been gaining traction in not only Western Europe but Russia as well recently. Specific laws criminalizing domestic abuse and other “private affairs” are increasingly perceived as nosy meddling in household matters by the government. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, stated that family conflicts are “not always equivalent to domestic abuse,” and a state-run survey in January found that 19% of Russians believed that it can be acceptable to beat a wife or child in “certain circumstances.” Even some Russian police officers are reluctant to get involved in domestic violence cases, which they view as meddling in family affairs.

The Russian cultural and political establishment has always upheld traditional values, but they have become increasingly conservative in the past few years, especially under President Putin. New restrictions on protests and political liberal opponents have already been passed, so the Russian government’s backtracking on their domestic violence policy has not proved to be a surprise although it has worried human rights activists.

Domestic violence, however, is not an unfamiliar problem to us as well. According to South Korea’s Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, 60% of all domestic violence cases were dropped from prosecution charges in 2015, while only 15.6% went through the indictment proceedings. A total of 118,178 cases were reported, but only 8762 arrests were made. In our country, domestic abuse is also widely perceived as a private matter that law enforcement should not pry into, and the perseverance of the family unit is often valued more than the victims of “family conflicts.”

How many more pleas from the victims of domestic abuse will convince societies with deep patriarchal roots that domestic violence is unclear, but it is clear that it is a severe issue that must be tackled by the government. The safety and quality of the lives of the citizens should be prioritized over the set ideals of political parties. So far, many conservative governments have not fulfilled their own duty by not taking enough action or actually backtracking in their efforts to progress towards social justice; however, governments must start listening to their own people before the voices of victims are completely silenced by their aggressors.

– Kristin Kim (’20)

Featured Image: headstuff.org

Sources:

 

Rise of the Far Right: The Alt-Right & Neo-Nazis

“Put us first!” “We want our country back.” “Make America great again.” — Will the rise of the far right last?

With Trump’s surprise victory and Brexit, 2016 was marked with a definitive swing to the far right. Such “right-wing victories” have emboldened members of the far-right who were previously considered too radical. The migrant crisis revealed how many in the West still remained hostile to outsiders, and far-right parties are now gaining traction on political platforms in Europe as disillusionment with the European Union continues to grow.

If you’ve been keeping up with the news these past few months, you’ve probably come across the terms “alt-right” and “neo-Nazi” quite often. Both words, especially “neo-Nazi,” were not used commonly in mainstream media until 2016, when the far-right movements finally started to catch the attention of the public.

So what does “alt-right” and “neo-Nazi” mean? Alt-right stands for alternative right, and it was coined by Richard Spencer, the leader of the movement. George Hawley, a political scientist at the University of Alabama, described the alt-right as “a loose movement, predominantly online, and largely anonymous.” They distance themselves from traditional conservatism (hence their name) because they believe that mainstream conservatives are too weak to actively support racism and anti-Semitism or prioritize the interests of white people. Their beliefs have been described as racist, homophobic, and misogynistic.

As Donald Trump started to gain support during his campaign, members of the alt-right recognized him as a hero of their cause. They had previously been considered a fringe movement in politics, which meant that their ideas were considered to be outside the spectrum of acceptable opinion. Having a man who spoke of the same ideas as them elected for the highest office in the country electrified the alt-right movement, leading them to believe that they were no longer to be marginalized in Western politics.

The alt-right uses memes to spread their ideologies on the Internet, hoping to attract young educated white people by claiming that their “white identity” is under attack because of multiculturalism and political correctness in the status quo. The ADL, or Anti-Defamation League, announced that Pepe the Frog has become a hate symbol after white-supremacists and other groups re-drew the frog so that he was dressed up in Nazi and Ku Klux Klan clothes. The frog is now generally recognized as the mascot of the alt-right movement, much to the dismay of his creator, Matt Furie.

Neo-Nazis, unlike the alt-right, have some history; they have existed since 1945, the end of Nazi Germany. Neo-Nazism is very similar to the original Nazi doctrine, containing elements such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia, ableism (discrimination against people with disabilities), anti-Semitism, and ultranationalism. Neo-Nazis seek to establish the Fourth Reich, a revival of Nazi Germany. Significant effort has been taken in European countries, particularly Germany, to prevent such movements; many countries have banned Nazi-related symbols such as the swastika.

hate groups; Nazis; skinheads; homophobia; racism
PC: huffingtonpost.com

So what is the difference between the two? Although not all of those who identify with the alt-right movement are neo-Nazis, a good number of people in the alt-right are represented in the neo-Nazi movement. Since “alt-right” is such a broad term, it can include neo-Nazis; in fact, neo-Nazis are often considered to be a minority in the alt-right. The line between the two movements, however, has become so unclear that the two terms are often associated with each other. During a speech to his supporters in Washington after Trump’s victory, Richard Spencer, the leader of the alt-right, shouted, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” His supporters responded with enthusiastic cheers, applause, and Nazi salutes.

The rise of the far-right didn’t end just with Brexit and Trump’s election; right-wing parties in the Netherlands and France have called for Brexit-like referendums on EU membership. Even in Germany, where shame over the Holocaust prevented any nationalistic movement from gaining serious support, the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has become one of the mainstream political parties; in a local election last September, the AfD won more votes than Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union in her own electoral district. Recent efforts to ban the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), a party usually described as a neo-Nazi organization, have failed once more. This has only emboldened the members of the party, who say that their victory once again proves that their beliefs are not a threat to the safety of their country.

However, there is no need to fret too much over the alarmingly swift swing to the far-right in Western politics. Over a period of 150 years, studies suggest that every major financial or social crisis was followed by a 10-year surge in support for far-right parties that claimed to be populist, so this far-right movement is not likely to last any longer than far-right movements in the past. Just examining recent reactionary politics is not looking at the big picture; in history, we have seen that even with all the political ups and downs, society has always taken steps towards progression.

– Kristin Kim (’20)

Featured Image: dailystormer.com

Sources:

 

2016 in a Nutshell

Science innovations and political conflicts to recall 2016.

Every year we experience discord of some sort, and every year we make progress of some sort. 2016 was yet another queer year, too breathtaking to be explained in a couple of words. We as a civilization experienced evolution: a quantum leap in science yet an endless dispute in worldly politics. Here are eight symbolic events of 2016, whether a legacy or a setback, all to be recalled hereafter.

Detection of Gravitational Waves (February)

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PC: Nasa.gov

One of the greatest science breakthroughs of 2016 was the first direct detection of gravitational waves—ripples in spacetime. Approximately a century after its proposal, Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity was at last witnessed. Physicists detected ripples produced in space-time by the merger of two black holes which happened 1.3 billion light-years away. This discovery has given rise to a new era of astronomy and physics that will begin to unveil the cosmos.

Alphago (March)

alphago.jpg
PC: International Business Times

During the month of March in 2016, media flooded with the news about a game of man versus a man-made machine. Lee Sedol, ranked high amongst Go players worldwide, played five matches of Go against the Google DeepMind’s Alphago. Losses of champion Lee was not a drawback for his opponent Alphago was created by a team of over 100 scientists. Hence its victory was essentially humanity’s great step forward in the study of artificial intelligence.

Brexit (June)

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PC: NBC News

To many unforeseen, to some unhoped for, and to some awaited. The UK EU membership referendum that took place on June 23 ended with 52% of the British citizens voting for the UK to exit the EU. Since then, inevitable impacts have followed: the resignation of former Prime Minister David Cameron, an immediate contraction of UK economy, and the plummeting of the pound. However, further implications and long-term effects of Britain’s leaving of the EU are open for debate. In fact, negotiations have not yet ended in resolving the issue at hand.

Pokemon Go: Progress in Augmented Reality (July)

pokemongo
PC: Venture Beat

2016’s summer cannot possibly be described without Pokémon Go. With its first release on July 6, 2016, Pokémon Go immediately attracted millions of users worldwide, topping game download records with more than 500 million downloads. Pokémon Go immersed users into the entertainment of augmented reality and allowed them to interact with digitally generated Pokémons in the real-world environment.

Juno Enters Jupiter’s Orbit (July)

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PC: ABC News

Five years after its launch on Atlas 5 in 2011, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully completed its 1.8 billion mile journey, reaching Jupiter’s orbit on July 4. To enter the realm of the “scariest part of the scariest place that we know” as said by Heidi Becker, a physicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Juno weathered anticipated challenges in Jupiter’s brutal radiation environment. Juno is expected to create a mark in our grasp of not only the largest planet in our solar system but also provide a blueprint in understanding a deeper enigma—the universe.

Rio Olympics (August – September)

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PC: money.cnn.com

2016 once again marked the comeback of the summer games. The five weeks of sportsmanship were a highlight and a source of tear and joy for many nations. From August to September, athletes from 205 nations gathered at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, breaking 19 world records and 65 olympic records. One of the greatest distinction of the 2016 Summer Olympics was the first ever Refugee Team with ten equally talented and deserving athletes who competed in the games.

South Korea Political Controversy (October-Present)

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PC: newstomato.com

Disappointment after disappointment. 2016 was an inexplicably bewildering year for Koreans—a political scandal. One woman from nowhere shook the country, as her hidden influence behind the Korean government was gradually revealed. However during the disclosure of such absurd corruption, the nation experienced a union through the impeachment of President Park and successful weekly rallies that gathered more than 2 millions a day to sound a unified chant.

US Presidential Elections (November)

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PC: Business Insider

The 2016 US Presidential Elections sparked more controversy than ever before. Despite a yearlong series of scandal plagued campaigning, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States. Trump began as a Republican businessman with mere infamous publicity, initially believed to have extremely low chances of winning. Sharing his notorious and rather contentious opinions on globally disputed issues of immigrants, women, LGBTQ rights, and racism, Trump fueled a global fuss. Yet, results are results. As Barack Obama put it in his last remarks as President, “This is not a period. This is a comma in the continuing story of building America.”

The list goes on. Giant pandas are no longer on the endangered list. Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar. Departures of numerous celebrities, the Aleppo offensive, Duterte’s presidency.

The End, 2016!

– Yoo Bin Shin (’18)

Featured Image: Crescentia Jung (’19)

Arrest Warrant Served for Samsung Heir: Rejected in Court

Choi-gate prosecutors file charges against the de facto chief of Samsung for potential bribery and perjury.

SEOUL – On January 16th 2017, it was revealed by the Choi Soon-sil Gate prosecutors that they filed charges against Samsung heir Lee Jae-Yong for bribing President Park Geun-hye. The South Korean multinational company, of course, did insist on Samsung’s de facto heir Lee’s innocence, as he himself spoke of having been coerced by President Park into contributing funds in cooperation with Choi Soon-sil. However, Lee still ended up being questioned by prosecutors for 22 hours. Moreover, prosecutors seeked to have Lee detained for potential perjury and bribery.

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Illustration by Hannah Kim (’19)

According to the Choi-gate prosecutors, Lee paid 36 million US dollars (43,000 billion Korean won) to entities owned by Choi-Soon sil, including Mir foundation and K Sports foundation, through government affairs in exchange for full support of inter-subsidiary mergers within his multinational company. However, despite the issuance of this arrest warrant, the district court was not in favor of the prosecutors. The court rejected the warrant, claiming that there was insufficient evidence for charging Lee with bribery.

As for what the public has to say about this incident, many were seen to be appalled by this warrant rejection. Numerous Korean internet users disagreed with the court’s decision, saying that whether Samsung perishes or not, it is necessary to punish those who have committed illegal action (in reference to Lee). Many displayed discouragement. They spoke of the nation no longer being able to trust the South Korean judiciary system as well as Samsung. A few mentioned this was South Korea’s last chance to expose chaebols, or large, family-run conglomerates, as Lee’s arrest could prove fatal for Samsung, but overlooking possible corruption could prove fatal for the country.

Although chief Lee Jae-Yong managed to get away without being arrested, it is estimated that this scandal will negatively affect South Korea’s economy as a whole, reemphasizing the heavy influence this single ‘chaebol’ has on an entire country. Prosecutors have claimed this result to be “very regrettable,” but also that they will continue working towards reissuing a warrant, according to spokesman Lee Kyu-chul.

– Leona Maruyama (‘17)

Sources:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/wall-street-journal/president-park-geunhye-coerced-me-samsung-heir-lee-jaeyong/news-story/5c5323e87c1e8a0567dc36404f0d98a2

http://en.koreaportal.com/articles/25535/20170120/samsung-resumes-calm-avoiding-arrest-heir.htm

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2017/01/202_222479.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/15/world/asia/south-korea-samsung-arrest-jay-lee-park-geun-hye.html

Banner: https://si.wsj.net/

Lounge with Leona: Fidel Castro’s Death & Trump’s Reaction

Sit down, take a chill pill, and relax for this week’s edition of Lounge with Leona; Fidel Castro’s death and Trump’s reaction.

On November 25th, 2016, the Cuban politician and revolutionary Fidel Castro passed away. He governed the Republic of Cuba for nearly 50 years as a Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and as President from 1976 to 2008.

In the year of 1959, Castro overthrew the Cuban President Batista, took full control of Cuba, and installed a communist Marxist government. Following the Marxist philosophy, under Castro’s rule, the government took over much of businesses, farms, and industries. Moreover, freedom of speech and of the press was restricted. However, after he fell ill in 2008, Castro resigned as president, and his brother Raúl has been running the country ever since.

In the year of 2014, as Cuba slowly began to disengage from Fidel Castro’s oppressive system, U.S. President Barack Obama loosened the economic embargo between the United States and Cuba, together with Raúl Castro. Such alleviation of a blockage excited the populace of both nations, as this meant not only an increase in travel between the two countries, but also a broadened scope of trade and business. Not to mention the Cubans who had defected to the United States during Fidel Castro’s regime, for now they could fly back to Cuba without encountering hardships.

As the catalyst for Cuban dictatorship was now gone, many believed the system of absolute rule, too, would disintegrate into thin air – everybody but Donald J. Trump. After a mere two days of Castro’s death, Trump had already begun threatening Cubans without even allowing enough time to let the reality of Castro’s death sink in.

It’s as if we have been pulled back to 1962 – that’s almost six decades ago –. It’s as if Obama’s attempts at normalizing the status-quo was for nothing. Trump is looking to potentially put the embargo which once existed back in place, thus nullifying the steps the United States as well as the Republic of Cuba had been taking towards truce.

Perhaps this isn’t surprising, as during his presidency campaign, Trump promised the nation to overturn any probable openings of U.S. relations with Cuba, “unless the Castro regime meets our demands – not my demands, our demands.” He is only restating what he mentioned before getting elected as President.

However, does Trump even know what he’s talking about? Honestly, I doubt that. His position on supporting U.S. hostility only unnerves the entire Republic of Cuba. In the meantime, he is allowing Raúl Castro to gain even more strength, therefore only emphasizing the authoritarian rule which Cuba is under. It is not outdated Cold War policies Cuba needs. It is the continuation of Obama’s efforts towards establishing a positive relationship with Cuba. What is the point in giving the dictator more power? Or in discouraging the reopening of embassies and limiting trade? Now is exactly the time in which the nation of America must influence the Republic of Cuba with American values and ideas of freedom, thus putting an end to Cuban dictatorship.

– Leona Maruyama (‘17)

Featured Image: http://wtax-am.sagacom.com/

Duterte’s Presidential Bloodlust

Excited for the November election? We have a preview from the Philipines, with Mr. Duterte.

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“F*ck you UN, you can’t even solve the Middle East carnage…couldn’t even lift a finger in Africa…shut up all of you.” – Duterte at the UN conference on June 2nd, in response to the concern about Philippines’ human rights violation. (PC: Channel News Asia)

While the Americans are concerning about Donald Trump entering the office, a country in the Southeast Asia has already begun coping with a similar kind of problem from June 30th, 2016. The man’s name is Rodrigo Duterte – ex-mayor of Davao. Duterte’s battle against crime is drawing global attention with its inhumane nature, while silencing the opposition with its apparent effectiveness.

Born in a working class background, Duterte was a problematic child. According to Newsinfo.com, he was once expelled from college when he shot a fellow student to “teach him a lesson”. He did, however, worked his way through the bar exam and became a district attorney after graduating from college. He had already gained notoriety with his aggressiveness against criminals back then. After he entered politics, he became the vice mayor of Davao and got elected as the mayor in 1988, perpetuating the position for the next 22 years.

Duterte transformed the city from its bottom to top. Davao, just one of many cities in Philippines with serious public security and corruption issues, experienced rapid improvement since Duterte. His austere policies did not discriminate people of different social status and his personal army – Davao Death Squad – executed a countless number criminals without the standard legal process. True, people were aware of the illicit nature of his unique ideology. However, the outcome speaks for itself. Davao is ranked top as the safest and the least corrupt city in Philippines.

Much like Trump, Duterte gathered his support not through established political figures but with his populist appeal to the general public. Unlike other candidates, he had a tangible credential in the city of Davao. The combination of Duterte strong, charismatic impression and the people’s need for a competent leader called for the age of tyranny.

Duterte again received the global spotlight recently, for referring President Obama as “a son of a b*tch” in his adverse remark on Mr. Obama’s concern towards Philippines’ arising human rights violation. This statement directly led to the cancellation of Obama’s visit and the planned summit meeting. Even though Duterte officially apologized through media, the incident further exacerbated the diplomatic turmoil between Philippines and America, especially after Duterte’s open inclination towards China in his foreign policy.

The negative view on Duterte is not merely stemmed from his impetuous words (even if it involved Pope Francis). Duterte’s bloodthirsty crime fighting is beyond the imaginable scales. According to Yeonhap News, his vigilante forces have killed over two thousand drug-related criminals and led another hundred ten thousand to turn themselves in. While it seems like a rather promising set of data, various human rights NGOs are worried if it might be used for his political power control, which is more like a given sequence based on every one of his historical counterparts.

Meanwhile, the filipino citizens are overwhelmingly supportive of their new president. The approval rating that was just over 30% in May has now skyrocketed to 95% in September. At the same time, some foreigners, too, are expressing their neutrality towards Duterte. Considering the abysmal condition his people were put in, the proponents say that such violent methods might have been justified, bringing back the old philosophical debates on ethics.

As the conflict between Philippines and the rest of the world ensues, Duterte sis even considering Philippines’ abandonment of UN membership. It seems like there is one common ground for both sides at the moment: that the trajectory of Duterte administration is, for one thing, interesting. What do you think about Mr. Rodrigo Duterte?

– Paul Jeon (’17)

Sources:

http://m.news.naver.com/read.nhn?oid=001&aid=0008687460&sid1=104&mode=LSD

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davao_Death_Squad

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodrigo_Duterte#Education

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/793138/profile-rodrigo-duterte

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/breakingnews/Philippines-Duterte-vents-anger-at-UN-30287295.html

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/780836/law-student-duterte-shot-frat-brod-on-campus-in-72

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/duterte-threatens-pull-philippines-160821063128459.html

Photo citation:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/philippines-duterte-vents/2842354.html#

 

Diseases that “Frighten” Us

There are people out there who die from “curable” disease

Disease— the awful word that alarms and unnerves us, stirring our world into weeks of hysteria and horror—has nonetheless proved to be humanity’s toughest, yet unpredictable enemy of all time. Even today with our advances in technology and sophisticated knowledge, we still have not been able to truly protect ourselves from the constant threat of viral infections.

And mid-2016, here we come; it’s the outbreak of the disease, once again.

1) Zika Virus

In May 2015, Zika virus was reported in Brazil, the first local case in the Americas. Primarily transmitted through mosquitoes or sex, there is no found treatment for Zika yet.

On top of the symptoms of fever, conjunctivitis, rash, and joint pain, a sudden surge in microcephaly cases has sparked a major concern. Microcephaly is when a baby is born with an abnormally small head, leading to underdeveloped brain functions fatal to life, or intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Zika Virus and brain defects (BBC)

Just in Brazil, a total of 4,908 cases of microcephaly was confirmed, along with the 91,387 registered cases, according to Reuters. But it isn’t a local Brazil problem anymore. The WHO has declared it as a “public health emergency of international concern,” where “52 countries reported outbreak from 2015 onwards.”

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The Spread of Zika Virus 2016 (CDC)

“There are 18,611 confirmed Zika cases in the U.S” reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But recently, in late July, the first local transmission of Zika virus within the United States has occurred in Miami, Florida. Four people in Miami, all of whom had never been to Zika-affected countries, are believed to have been infected through local mosquitoes. So far, the number has risen to “56 locally transmitted cases of Zika virus in Florida” as further stated by CNN.

And with this, despite protests by angry residents, the “Zika aerial spraying” was conducted just last Friday over Miami beach. Dibrom is the main chemical ingredient of the Naled insecticide, sprayed in tiny, airborne droplets that instantly kill mosquitoes in their flight.

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Aerial pesticide spraying in Florida (Your News Wire)

But at the same time, there have been major ramifications to the environment and health.  Especially for the residents, there is a higher risk for genetic mutation,where in the presence of sunlight or water, Naled degrades to dichlorvos, a toxic chemical.

Not only this, the aerial spraying has resulted in a drastic environmental loss in South Carolina, where more than 3 million bees were killed.

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Zika Aerial spraying kills millions of honeybees (CNN)

South Carolina beekeeper Juanita Stanley declared, “This is crazy. It’s like using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut. The devastation that it has already caused is beyond comprehension. We can’t live without these honeybees” (CNN).

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Residents protest against Aerial Spraying (NBC)

It isn’t over. The Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar has announced that the “zika aerial spraying will be conducted Monday morning in five Broward County municipalities — Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Pembroke Pines, Tamarac and Margate” (ABC News), but with an alternative, preventative use of VectoBac WDG, utilizing BTI as the active ingredient that is different from the controversial use of Naled. BTI is an organic material naturally found in the ground, thus safer for the environment, though the only question now is how effective this would prove to be.

Likewise, it is a shock to what extent the Zika virus is creating an upheaval all over the world.

2) Cholera

A waterborne, gastrointestinal infection that causes vomiting and diarrhea, cholera can be transmitted by contaminated water or food. But it is usually most common in dilapidated regions with poor, unclean sanitation and water supplies, such as African countries. Still luckily, unlike the Zika virus, Cholera does have vaccines for treatment.

Since the beginning of the year, over 500 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo were killed, and the infection has even reached the western Capital city of Kinshasa (African News). Not only DRC, there are yet numerous other areas currently suffering from this disease, mostly due to the impoverished state where vaccination is not available. “As of  September 6, 2016, a total of 1762 cholera cases, including 26 deaths had been reported from five states: Juba, Terekeka, Jonglei, Eastern Lakes and Imatong” according to WHO.

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Cholera patients increase in Africa (WSJ)

To our terror, reported cases of Cholera have suddenly emerged in our country, South Korea. A first case in 15 years, three people who have all consumed seafood, were infected with cholera in Geoje Island. The fourth patient was reported to have contracted during his trip to Philippines. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is nonetheless conducting further investigation on how cholera had appeared.

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Cholera patients confirmed in South Korea (koreaherald)

But ironically, it is not just Zika or cholera that is directly affecting our world today. Currently, Malaria is still on the rise, with more than 1.3 million malaria cases in Africa (WHO), along with Measles, Meningitis, Dengue, Chikungunya, and so many more. Just because we are not experiencing Malaria, does not mean it’s an unimportant matter; afterall, there are people out there who suffer and die just because they lack the few dollars for Malaria vaccination.

“Many people, most of them in tropical countries of the Third World, die of preventable, curable diseases.… Malaria, tuberculosis, acute lower-respiratory infections…” (Ken Silverstein, Millions for Viagra. Pennies for Diseases of the Poor)

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Treatable disease that kill people everyday in Arica (Patheos)

For all KISians; do you remember the dramatic moment, two years ago, when the school officially cancelled our Ed. Trip, plus a whole week of final exams due to MERs? Or during 2014 to 2015, the Ebola that had swept African countries, caused “two-thirds of Americans to panic” (Washington Post), even obtaining the name “Fearbola”?

It’s ironic how until we directly face these constant bursts of disease, we fail to notice the everyday disaster on other regions of the world that desperately need our help, right now.

-Sammie Kim (’18)