Month: October 2014

Gun Problem or Health Problem?


Over the past few years it seems like gun violence in schools has exploded. Every time you turn on the news you hear about things like Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook. Gun violence extends even beyond schools. It seems like there has been in increase in mall shootings, movie theater shootings, and gun violence in general, but what has prompted this sudden increase in public shootings? What has changed?

The truth is according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Firearm-related homicides declined 39%, from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011.” If the number of gun related homicides are going down then why does it feel like we’re hearing about more of them? The answer is the media.

The public is constantly bombarded with 24/7 information. News stories are no longer about the quality research of a topic. It seems they are more interested with the unresearched, half truths that give them large quantities of stories. When something happens you almost immediately see it on the news whether they have the full story or not. The public gets little versions of the story as it’s happening until the full story breaks, making the truth all the more confusing. Because the news is a 24/7 broadcast the media has the time to cover more events. They need interesting and controversial things to keep the viewers entertained. The media takes the negative perspective on the topic leading to fear when they talk solely about the shooter and crime committed, rather than focus on the apprehenders and people that stopped the shooter.

One thing the media can show the public is the amount of mental instability in the majority of mass shooters. Look at the amount of shooters that kill themselves in the process:

  • Colombine
  • Aurora movie theater shooting
  • Sandy Hook
  • This week’s Washington school

They all have one thing in common: Mental illness. If the government spent more time funding the mental health crisis in this country rather than trying to put a bandaid on it with gun control the people might see an even bigger improvement with mass murderers. According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, “States have cut more than $1.6 billion in general funds from their state mental health agency budgets for mental health services since 2009.” The longer then mentally ill aren’t taken care of the more tragedy we are likely to see.

This week alone the media has reported on two shootings: one at a Washington high school and another at the Canadian capitol. Both are tragic stories filled with immense loss. I have heard more and more facts about these stories every day since the story first broke. The media brings fifteen minutes of fame to everyone involved with the shooting. It makes the shooters and the victims celebrities. This could potentially be a big problem for mentally ill people who don’t feel noticed in life. The people of this country need to start noticing the big picture. More people aren’t killing with more guns, more sick people are crying out for help.

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What’s Cooking in the Hot Zone: EBOLA

A health worker in protective clothing holds a child suspected of having Ebola in the Paynesville treatment center on October 5. Photo from CNN

A health worker in protective clothing holds a child suspected of having Ebola in the Paynesville treatment center on October 5.
Photo from CNN

The deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history began with just a handful of cases in Guinea in March.

The Ebola virus first appeared in 1976 in Nzara, Sudan and Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The disease is thought to have come from certain bats living in tropical African forests. According to the Word Health Organization, “Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.” Ebola has an incubation period of two to 21 days after infection.

Early symptoms of Ebola are:

  • sudden onset of fever
  • fatigue
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • sore throat

After Ebola sets in, the early symptoms are followed by diarrhoea, a rash and bleeding – both internal and external, which can be seen in the gums, eyes, nose and stool.

Ebola has the whole world trembling with this most recent outbreak. According to CNN, Ebola is one of the world’s most deadliest diseases. “It is a highly infectious virus that can kill up to 90% of the people who contract it, causing terror among infected communities. The death rate in this outbreak has dropped to roughly 55% because of early treatment.” It has people in such fear because there is no vaccine against it.

Since the outbreak began in March, 729 people of the 1,323 total confirmed infections have died, reports WHO as of July 27. This is the deadliest outbreak in history because the virus is spreading in heavily-populated urban areas, as opposed to rural areas. It is also spreading rapidly. It has spread to neighboring countries Sierra Leone and Liberia making it harder to contain as it spreads. We have also seen cases spread as far as Europe and the United States. According to BBC, “There have been more cases and deaths in this one than all other outbreaks combined.”

Ebola is killing people and destroying lives more rapidly than every before. World organizations are having trouble containing the disease. Pharmaceutical companies are working with experimental drugs, trying to halt the outbreak. However, some people who have received the experimental drugs have still died. Although some who have been administered the drugs survived, we still do not have a concrete solution to this world problem. We need to continue searching for a cure, and the United States needs to spearhead the global humanitarian coalition that will relieve this crisis.

Overall, people shouldn’t be worried about Ebola running rampant through the United States. We have top-koch medical care and the resources to manage this outbreak. We should be more concerned with the well-being of the people really suffering from this effects of this disease in Africa. We should be concerned from a humanitarian stand point. You probably won’t get Ebola, but there is still someone that will.

Government Gone Wrong in Hong Kong

Riot police use pepper spray as they clash with protesters outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Tuesday, September 28. Photo from CNN

Riot police use pepper spray as they clash with protesters outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Tuesday, September 28.
Photo from CNN

Things have heated up in Hong Kong since a wave of protesters blocked major highways in several key districts of the city, and are calling the movement Occupy Central.

This all stared in 1997 when the British gave back Hong Kong to China after 150 years of ruling it. It was initially agreed to let Hong Kong have a semi-autonomous government for 50 years under One Country, Two Systems (established in the 1980s). This agreement meant that, when rejoined with China, Hong Kong and a few other areas will be allowed to have their own capitalist economies and political system, except for defense and foreign affairs, while the rest of China will use the socialist system.

The students of Hong Kong are outraged by Beijing’s new position on electoral change in the city. The people of Hong Kong were promised that for the first time, they would be allowed to elect their own leader in a democratic election, instead of the leader being selected by a committee from Beijing. According to New York Magazine, “earlier this summer, China decided a committee was still necessary, and it would select the candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 elections.”

The protest started as what BBC calls “peaceful sit-ins to demand democracy” on September 22. There are thousands of demonstrators spread from Hong Kong’s financial district to outside the city’s government offices in Admiralty. Things were taken to the next level last Sunday when riot police used excessive force against unarmed students peacefully protesting on the government headquarters. The excessive force used by police did the exact opposite of what Beijing hoped for. The number of protestors has swelled because now people are not only outraged at the lack of democracy, but also how the government is abusing peaceful protestors with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Now, the people are not only demanding democracy, but also the resignation of the current chief executive, C.Y. Leung.

It’s been almost two weeks since the protest first began. According to CNN, “the Hong Kong Federation of Students said at a press conference it had met with three representatives of the government to try to pave the way for future talks with Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Carrie Lam.” The two sides didn’t come to an agreement, but they agreed to keep talking. The students have three conditions for the continuations of the talks:

  • the dialogue must be ongoing
  • the student leaders must be treated as equals
  • real political change must emerge from the talks

Now, the Chinese government has declared these demonstrations illegal. The scariest part of this whole ordeal is that the government of China has restricted the flow of information about the protests to the rest of China. People in China don’t know what’s going on. The Chinese government has a deep-seeded fear of rebellion, so it takes control and covers it up. This is history repeating itself; it reflects the protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989. History is going to continue to repeat itself until the Chinese government is replaced with one that is less oppressive and violent towards its own people.