Zika Virus: the Bite of Torment

The Zika Virus is a mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947, within caged rhesus monkeys placed in the Zika Forest to monitor yellow fever. It was first reported in humans in 1952 in Uganda, and its first large outbreak was in 2007 in the Island of Yap.

Although this virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito (mainly the Aedes mosquitos), sexual transmission and transmission through blood transfusion is possible as well.

One of the biggest problems in tackling the Zika Virus is that its symptoms are common to most viruses. These symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Furthermore, only one out of five people show symptoms, which leads to many cases going unreported.

The virus is rather mild itself, as symptoms last 3-5 days, but it can trigger many defects like Microcephaly and the Guillain-Barre Syndrome. A woman can transfer the Zika Virus to her fetus during pregnancy, which can cause Microcephaly, a birth defect wherein a baby is born with a head smaller than the average size. Microcephaly can lead to seizures, developmental delays, hearing loss and vision problems. Similarly, the Zika Virus can trigger the Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which is an auto-immune disease wherein a person’s own immune system damages his nerve cells. Most people never fully recover from this syndrome, and some are left with permanent nerve damage. The Zika Virus can thus lead to very dangerous illnesses and must be prevented and treated accordingly.

However, there currently exists no specific vaccine or medicine for the virus, and its only treatment is treating the discomfort-causing symptoms, which can be remedied by drinking plenty of fluids, getting adequate rest and taking medicines like paracetamol to relieve fever and pain. Since the virus has no real cure, we must focus on its prevention.

The first step towards its prevention is the reduction of mosquitos by removing or modifying breeding sites. Many people disagree with this, arguing that the process is complex and is not the most feasible option. However, given the seriousness of the Zika Virus, the WHO stresses that the elimination of mosquito breeding sites is the most effective intervention for protection against the same. Furthermore, ‘Fogging’ (the spraying of insecticides) should be carried out during outbreaks, when mosquito activity is most intense. Personal precautions should be taken, including the use of repellents and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitos from entering. Pregnancy measures should also be taken in areas with active transmissions of the virus to prevent sexual transmission. More preventive measures for the same include strengthening the capacity of laboratories to detect the virus, supporting health authorities to implement vector control strategies and engaging communities to understand the risks associated with the virus.

In May, 2017, three laboratory-confirmed cases of the Zika Virus were reported in Gujarat, India. It is clear that the virus is spreading across the globe and must be combated effectively, especially because of the severity of its complications. In a world that has already been through so much turmoil, we cannot risk another epidemic.



Ebola Virus: The Killing Machine

Ebola virus is said to have originated from fruit bats and other forms of bushmeat. This virus enters the human population through close contact with the blood, organs or surface material of infected animals often found ill or dead in the forest (or of those that are hunted). It then spreads through humans by direct contact with the secretions of those who are infected, or through materials like bedding contaminated with the same. Even burial ceremonies of the deceased can lead to the transmission of Ebola, because people remain infectious as long as their blood contains the virus. Healthcare workers have also frequently been infected while treating Ebola patients due to being in close contact with them.

The Ebola virus first appeared in 1976. It is most commonly known for its recent 2014-2016 outbreak affecting Guinea, Libera, and Sierra Leone that reported more than 11,000 deaths.

The World Health Organisation led the trial for an experimental Ebola vaccine in 2015. This vaccine proved highly protective against the virus in its trial in Guinea. Unfortunately, there currently exists no proven cure for the virus. However, treating the symptoms of Ebola separately has proved to be effective in combating the same. An efficient way to combat it once it has entered the blood cells is through supportive care rehydration. Furthermore, community engagement is vital, including infection control practices, surveillance, contact tracing, safe burials and social mobilisation.

Risk-minimisation should also be followed. Animals should be handled with gloves and should be properly cooked before consumption to minimise the risk of transmitting the disease. Healthcare workers should wear gloves and appropriate body equipment while dealing with suspected patients, and should also wash their hands regularly with soap. Moreover, laboratory testing on active samples should be conducted under intense biological containment conditions, using the triple packaging system while transporting the virus.

Ebola virus is extremely serious and deadly. It has killed thousands of people, and is capable of killing thousands more – which is why it is imperative to find its cure. In a world that is already in so much turmoil, adequate measures must be taken to prevent its spread across the globe.

The Effect of China’s Rise on the U.S.A

I think that the rise of China is very beneficial for the United States of America, as well as the rest of the world.

The US-China economic alliance is an extremely strong one. The United States absorbs around 1/5th of all Chinese exports. Although China has seen a remarkable 3 decades of economic growth, we must remember that its sheer size – 1.35 billion people or 1/5th of the world population – is what has made it the world’s second largest economy. China represents an underprivileged market that can be beneficial for both the USA and other part of the world.

Out of the various liberal assumptions, I would like to stress upon the second and fourth; the second being “Cooperation is possible in international relations because of international institutions, democracy, and commerce”, and the fourth being “Actors’ main interests include self-protection and economic goals.”

Focusing on the second liberal assumption, it isn’t hard to see that China’s growth would inevitably benefit the USA. Currently, the Chinese hold almost 8% of total US debt. They have lent the United States 1.3 trillion dollars. This gives them a big advantage over America – many realists argue that this puts them in a position to ‘wage war’; however, that is untrue. China is not going to wage war – not only because the drawbacks of war outweigh the benefits, but also because harming the American economy would harm themselves, what with the US absorbing 1/5th of all Chinese exports. However, if China were to grow, it would greatly benefit the United States, as it is China’s third largest export market. Also, while some would say China plotted and schemed to get the US into debt, I believe that is untrue. Liberals believe that human nature has a better side – as do I. Trade with China has helped America recover from the global financial crisis. Moreover, China is rapidly advancing in the field of science and technology. Along with the economic relationships, there’s potential for security cooperation and even the possibility of working together to deal with disease, resource scarcity and climate change.

Another point prevailing under this assumption is that China belongs to many cooperative organisations, like the UNSC and APEC. Through China’s participation in such organisations, the encouragement of cooperation ensues, ensuring all participants are awarded a share of winnings, meaning that they are less likely to engage in conflict with one another. Furthermore, China and America have a common goal – economic prosperity.

The fourth liberal assumption states that States prioritise self-interest and economic goals. In this case, China’s economic goal would require US cooperation. Yes, some say that the power achieved from defeating a super-power is incomparable – this may be true, but the power won’t last if China’s economy comes crashing down alongside the US. The last thing China would want is conflict to distract it from all the money-making. Furthermore, with a fall in the Chinese economy, many (and I mean MANY) states will suffer. “German car makers, Australian mines and Bordeaux vineyards have all enjoyed a China-fuelled boom. China’s rise offers boundless opportunities.” America and China have a very economically stable relationship, with their economies strongly tied together, and thus China’s economic growth would also benefit the USA. Liberals believe that human nature has a better side – and two unlikely super-powers cooperating with each other for economic prosperity is a big example for the rest of the world.

As Glasser says, we need to stop exaggerating China’s “rise” and making it seem like a threat. China is just like any other nation-state, after all, and will naturally put its self-interests first – and believe it or not, not “waging war” on 1/5th of its consumers is in Chinese self-interest.

To conclude, in my opinion, the seeming rise of China is definitely beneficial for the USA and the rest of the world, and with the use of the policies of engagement, binding and forming alliances, I believe that the US-China economic interdependency and it’s benefits can remain intact; furthermore, with America being the world’s largest super-power, I see China’s growth not as a threat, but as an advantage.


50 people have been found dead and 53 injured in a shooting at Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, in what is being described as the deadliest mass shooting in US history. Pulse is one of Florida’s most popular LGBTQ+ nightclubs, making the shooting a homophobic hate crime. The shooter, 29 year old Omar Mateen, opened fire at 2 A.M. on 12th June, while hundreds of people were inside the club.
A week before the attack, Mateen LEGALLY purchased firearms – a pistol and assault rifle – that were used in the attack. The number of gun crimes in the USA have been escalating recently, with the killing of Christina Grimmie just a week before the Orlando shooting. In 2015, there were 372 mass shootings in the United States, while countries like the UK have not had a mass shooting in six years. Gun control legislation is desperately needed in the USA, the country where buying firearms is easier than getting an abortion. When members of the LGBTQ+ community cannot even exist without the fear of getting attacked, we should know that there is a problem. Innocent people have lost their lives, and justice needs to be served. Gun laws NEED to change – but mostly, the prejudice against members of the LGBTQ+ community needs to change. Love is love, and nothing can change that.

Trans Pacific Partnership

Speaking as a proponent of the Trans Pacific Partnership, I believe it encourages cooperation and growth.

Firstly, critics argue that the TPP is the expansion of multinational corporations, seeking low paying jobs, stating that Americans won’t be the choice employees anymore. This is, quite simply, untrue; in fact, labour standards are said to be increasing with the agreement. The TPP isn’t only good for the rich, but for America in it’s entirety. Free trade has evidently helped the American working class, since American consumers are the ones benefiting the most from the Partnership; what with it reducing the tariffs to level the playing field between states. By reducing tariffs, certain imports would become cheaper as well, hence working to the advantage of American consumers. Also, the basic point of the TPP is to sell more American products, so I fail to understand why so many people think that the eleven countries dealing in this agreement gain more from it than the U.S. does.
Killing the TPP would, in no way, help to bring factory work back to America and other countries involved. Further, enacting the agreement would raise standards for several of China’s (who is not yet a member of the TPP but can request membership) key trading partners, which would pressure it to meet some of those standards and cease its attempts to game global trade and impede foreign multinational companies.

Although the TPP has increased labour standards, I agree with critics when they mention unemployment and citizens losing their jobs. However, in the words of Jeffrey Frankel, a liberal and a professor at Harvard, “There are obviously some people who will lose their jobs from it, just like from technology or any other form of growth or change.” Furthermore, the U.S.A has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world. Other countries participating in the TPP have much higher unemployment rates, and it’s rather unfair to use that in an argument. Despite a few citizens facing unemployment, like I mentioned, the TPP works towards helping the working class. It supports higher paying jobs for the American citizens; it makes sure American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small businesses can compete – and win – in some of the fastest growing markets in the world. It includes very strong worker protections.

The Partnership also requires that member countries institute minimum wages, allow workers to form unions and adhere to the labour rights specified by the International Labor Organisation.

It eliminates restrictions that have blocked U.S. businesses from providing services overseas and puts in place rules to ensure that regulations in participating countries don’t discriminate against U.S. service suppliers. In President Obama’s words, “Outdated trade rules put our workers at a disadvantage. And TPP will change that.”

Secondly, as much as critics try to prove otherwise, the TPP does come with strict guidelines on environmental and labour standards. In fact, the agreement upgrades NAFTA, putting environmental protections at the core of the agreement and making those obligations fully enforceable through the same type of dispute settlement as other obligations.

“The TPP requires all members to combat wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, illegal fishing and overfishing, as well as prohibit some of the most harmful fishery subsidies and promote sustainable fisheries management practices. TPP also requires that the 12 countries promote long-term conservation of whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles and other marine species, as well as to protect and conserve iconic species like rhinos and elephants. And TPP cracks down on ozone-depleting substances as well as ship pollution of the oceans, all while promoting cooperative efforts to address energy efficiency.”

Thirdly, many people argue about all the ‘secrecy’ lining the agreement. According to Frankel, “When you’re negotiating, you can’t exactly say what the outcome is going to be. You can’t even say what you’re opening bid and fallback position is going to be or what your bottom line is; you can’t reveal those things in public. It’s just inconsistent with the nature of negotiations.” Furthermore, the entire agreement has been laid out (online) for the public now and there’s absolutely nothing ‘shady’ or dark about it. Do have a look.

Finally, participating economies of the Partnership want growth, an improved standard of living, income gains, gains from trades and efficiency benefits. The TPP aims at revitalising the economy without having to resort to any government spending. It is a source of economic as well as political growth. Political gains will be made by asserting American influence in the region, by the U.S. actually being an architect of the rules that will define the pattern of integration in the most dynamic region in the world.

Currently, TPP members represent about 40 percent of global GDP. Over the next two decades, it is forecast that nearly 50 percent of world growth will be generated in the Asia-Pacific region, yielding almost one billion new middle class consumers.

If you’ve heard Ian Golding’s TED Talk or read the textbook “Nye and Welch”, you’ll understand that globalisation means cooperation. Quoting Nye and Welch, “A truly globalised world market would mean free flows of goods, people and capital, and similar interest rates everywhere.” The Trans Pacific Partnership seeks to do exactly that; and all these reasons are why I believe that signing this agreement would be what’s best for the nation.