The reason for social unrest in Colombia

By: Hayat Osman

Image taken from: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/03 /world/americas/colombia-protest-de aths.html

The demonstrations in Colombia began after the President, Iván Duque, announced a pandemic related tax reform on April 28, 2021. The reason behind the reform was because the government needed to raise
about $6.85 billion to fix the economic imbalance of the country. People quickly took to the streets to voice their outrage to the government. Unions and politicians were angry about the proposal.

Although the protests held in Colombia have only been ongoing for about 3 weeks, according to Colombia’s human rights officials, at least 42 people have died. Thousands have been injured, and many are believed to be missing, as increased violence and unrest spreads across the nation.

Unions who organized the protests, said the tax reform would disproportionately affect the middle class and poorest citizens, who have already been struggling due to the pandemic. Several protests, and a strike led by different organizations, were successful. After 4 days of protesting in large cities, the president decided to cancel the tax plan, and seek a new plan through a consensus.

According to NBCNews.com, researchers have pointed out that the tax reform was a catalyst for continued social unrest. Even though President Iván has withdrawn the tax plan, demonstrations continue being fueled by a mix of undelivered promises, inequality, violence, the mismanagement of the pandemic, and excessive force used by police. As violence increases, organizations are trying to negotiate terms with the government.

During the past few weeks, multiple videos of police abusing their authority over citizens have surfaced on social media. Both the UN, and European Union, have warned about the excessive use of force by the police. Despite the dangers, many protesters continue to take to the streets because of their disagreement with government policies.

The injustices that police have inflicted these past few weeks upon protesters in Colombia is unlawful. Protesters have asked for international attention. Let’s take the time to listen to the concerns of Colombians, and help them get the justice they deserve. Michel Adolfo Torres Carmona, a protester from Cali, Colombia has said, “There are many missing people. But we must continue the fight. The world must know what they are doing to us.”

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The world’s worst ongoing COVID-19 outbreak

By: Alexandra Rimbu

India is now home to the world’s worst ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, having nearly more than 17.6 million reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic. And while this number may seem high, experts speculate the total number of cases (both reported and unreported) may be up to 30 times higher, reaching more than half a billion cases.

The great disparity between the total number of COVID-19 cases and the reported number of COVID-19 cases could be caused by several factors, including low testing levels and undercounting deaths. 

Last year, in late April, the country was only testing fewer than half a million people per day, compared to the 2 million tests they do per day now. However, it appears this is still not enough.

“That’s still not sufficient because the national average positivity rate is about 15% — in some cities like Delhi it’s up to 30% or higher. That means there are lots of people out there who are infected and not being detected just because of the capacity of testing … we will know only later how many was really the number of people infected,” says Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist for the World Health Organization (WHO), speaking on the low testing levels. 

The country also suffers an underfunded public health infrastructure. In normal times, according to CNN, only 86% of deaths nationwide are registered in government systems. During this pandemic, this number has decreased greatly. As hospitals have run out of space, more and more people die at home or in other places, where there are no doctors present to assign a cause of death, and these deaths then go unreported. 

As of April 27th, India reported nearly 198,000 COVID-19 deaths. However, Bhramar Mukherjee, professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan, estimates COVID-19 fatalities could be underreported by a factor of between two and five, meaning the real death toll could be close to 990,000.

While India still continues to struggle, it is receiving aid from overseas and taking steps itself towards lowering COVID-19 cases.

If you would personally like to help with the COVID situation in India, here are some links to sites where you can make a donation: 

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Recent events in St. Vincent

By: Hayat Osman

Image taken from: https://news.un.org/en/story/ 2021/04/1089592

The island St. Vincent, of the Caribbean, was subjected to multiple explosive eruptions by a 4,049 foot volcano, La Soufrière, on April 9, 2021.

According to ‘National Geographic’, volcanic ash is formed by tiny particles of jagged rock, glass, and minerals. Due to the ash of volcanoes being made of sharp jagged fragments it is very lethal causing eye, nose, lung irritation, and diculty breathing.

The Volcano La Soufrière emitted so much ash that many were forced to flee towards safety.

The Prime minister of St. Vincent, Ralph Gonsalves, ordered an evacuation as a precaution, on Thursday, for about 1,600 people living in the northern part of the island, after several days of increased activity. Evacuation continued on Friday. The country’s National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) said that the ash from the first eruption was at 20,000 ft in the air drifting eastwards.

Later on Friday afternoon, 2 more eruptions happened, spewing more ash into the air to the point that the ash had complicated evacuation efforts as visibility was poor. Many citizens of the island shared pictures and photos on social media of the heavy ash fall.

4 cruise ships were sent on Friday, two from Royal Caribbean, and two from Carnival Cruise Line, to help evacuees escape to nearby islands.

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India Development and Relief Fund!

By: Reagan Welch

In 2020, India experienced 965 earthquakes of magnitude 3 and above, and the number of earthquakes continues to increase each year. All of these earthquakes hit the poor communities harder and harder, leaving thousands in need of food, clean water, and shelter.

The India Development and Relief Fund works to provide support for ongoing programs based in India such as; education, health care, women’s empowerment, eco friendly development, good governance, disaster relief, and rehabilitation.

Those six areas are the main focuses for programs.

IDRF asks for donations of any size, volunteering, fundraising, and partnerships with businesses to help break the continuous cycle of poverty within India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. They recognize poverty is a deep rooted and oppressed issue. India Development and Relief Fund’s mission is to empower the poor, to guide their programs to be beneficial to the women and children fighting, and having the locals truly take charge so that the change is long lasting.

IDRF’s programs serve the disadvantaged with no regards to religion, race, caste, or creed.

One of the popular programs being run right now is computer literacy to underprivileged children. It is being run all across India right now.

Disaster relief and rehabilitation would be the program used for earthquakes and man made disasters. This program is very active in rebuilding communities in the aftermath of disaster. Once the immediate needs are met, the program focuses on enabling enduring and sustainable development in the area. That way, instead of focusing on transitional relief, IDRF can focus on the long term sustainable options and rehabilitation.

IDRF continues to partner with trustworthy local non government organizations (NGOs) after years of working with them and achieving great results.

IDRF has three COVID-19 relief campaign projects out now; two are based in India, one based in the United States.

IDRF has been awarded 4 out of 4 stars by ‘Charity Navigators’ because it demonstrates strong financial health and accountability.

Now, with the COVID-19 disaster, is the best time to donate and join the IDRF family.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle interview with Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, March 7, 2021, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, gave an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Here are some of the main takeaways from this interview:

They got married early

In the interview, Meghan told Oprah that she and Harry got married three days before the actual ceremony on national television was viewed by over a million people. They confirmed that they performed a ceremony in their backyard because they wanted to have a private union between them.

Kate made Meghan cry

Before the wedding, the British tabloids reported that Meghan made Kate Middleton cry because of a fight about the flower girl dress Princess Charlotte would wear. But in the interview, Meghan said “It was the other way around that Kate made her cry about the outfit.” Meghan also said that Kate apologized and sent her some flowers. Due to that incident, she said that was the “turning point” in her relationship with the royals because, when the story got out, the royal family didn’t fix the story.

Baby Archie’s skin color

Back in 2019, when Meghan was pregnant with Archie, they said there were “concerns and conversations” with Prince Harry about “how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” Later, when Prince Harry joined the interview, Winfrey asked him if he’d give the name of who made comments about skin color. He didn’t answer. 

Meghan’s suicidal thoughts

Meghan told Winfrey that she “just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” and that killing herself would “solve everything for everyone.” She also said that she confided in her husband about her thoughts of suicide, and also to a senior royal to seek inpatient care, but was told it “wouldn’t be good for the institution.”

Gender reveal of their baby

When Prince Harry joined the interview, the couple revealed that they were expecting a baby girl. This child will be eighth in line for the throne, following her brother Archie. They also revealed that they will not be having any more babies; that their family is now complete.

Loss of royal protection

Every royal family has received bodyguards. During Harry and Meghan’s move to Canada though, and then California, their security detail was cut off. Meghan told Winfrey that she has been the “target of death threats, some based on her race.” Meghan said that the royal family announced their security cut off during their move to California, a time where they were at their most vulnerable. 

Financially cut off

During their interview, Prince Harry said that they “literally cut me off financially.” Harry said he used the money that his late mother, Princess Diana, left for him, and Meghan has had her money from her acting career on the hit TV series ‘Suits.’

The Royals have put out a statement saying: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.” Prince William has also spoken out when asked if he talked to his brother, and if the royals are racist. He said: “He had not yet spoken to Harry, but would soon” and “No, we are not a racist family.” This is not surprising though as no one is going to say “Yes” to being asked if they’re racist. 

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World leaders contracting COVID-19

By: Aisha Dirie

Over the duration of the pandemic, especially these past few months, world leaders have been contracting COVID-19.

Trump announced that he went into quarantine in early October 2020, after testing positive. This was right before the election, and the second presidential debate, but after the first presidential debate. This caused concern that it had been spread to other people at the debate, especially President-elect Joe Biden. Trump contracting COVID-19 cancelled that upcoming 2nd debate.

People close to Trump also contracted the virus including his family, and Ivanka, and some co-workers.

Trump was also hospitalized for his symptoms of COVID-19, as well as other world leaders who contracted COVID-19, like Boris Johnson.

Another world leader that contracted COVID-19 is Emmanuel Macron, the President of France. After testing positive for COVID-19 in mid December, Macron went into quarantine. Since meetings with other countries, and officials, had happened within recent days of his positive test, other European leaders also went into quarantine.

This diagnosis canceled a planned visit to Lebanon, and other planned events for Macron and other leaders in contact with him. 

Although many major world leaders have caught COVID-19, many have recovered safely, including Trump and Johnson, who were both hospitalized for their symptoms. Along with these major world leaders contracting the virus, others include: the Prime Minister of Russia, the President of Bolivia, the Prime Minister of Armenia, the President of Poland, and many more, who have all caught COVID-19.

These events just prove how anyone can get COVID-19, and how important it is to take caution. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is also starting to be distributed within these countries. 

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Sex trafficking in Central America 

By: Kayla Arellano

*Note, this article may have material that could trigger individuals (sexual assault, violence against women), therefore, we present a trigger warning here.

Human trafficking has been happening in Central America since 1990, and has been the center of attention in Guatemala, Honduras, and in El Salvador. Human trafficking in Central America has increased throughout the years due to gang violence and corruption in Latin American countries. Gang member seduce vulnerable young women into sex trafficking by promising them security, safety, and a better life in the U.S.; fake job offers; deceived into romantic relationships; coerced by older family members; approached by other victims; etc. 63% are underage, and 96% of the woman are from Mexico or Latin America.

The Polaris Project published a report, in 2016, showing how human trafficking happens in clubs, bars, cantinas, and strip clubs. They are smuggled to the United States without them knowing where they are being taken. When they arrive in the U.S., they take them into any of the previously mentioned places, and are forced to work as a cover for business transactions. 

Dressember.org has found research that labor trafficking, and sex trafficking, occurs in these places, and the employer will use fraud and force to maintain the workers and make them believe they have no choice but to keep on working.

The Polaris Project also had a case study where, in a cantina in Texas, inspectors noticed strange behavior in the female employees. It looked like they were being kept away from the inspectors and the woman showed fear towards the employers.

The employers had told the women that they were in enormous debt because they had been taken to the U.S., and that they would have to work at the place they were sent to, and would have to have sexual interactions with patrons every night. If any of the women resisted, there would be physical violence, sexual abuse, or harm to their families, so they had no choice but to work for them. 

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The impact of narco-culture on children in Mexico 

By: Kayla Arellano

*Note, this article may have material that could trigger individuals (descriptions of violence involving children), therefore, we present a trigger warning here.

Guadalajara México, northern Jalisco, Michoacan, Sinaloa are some of the main places that rival drug cartels have shootouts and cause several lifeless bodies slumped on the streets in pools of their own blood killing innocent men, women and children. Children grow up seeing this type of violence due to the fact that they are surrounded by it, or they live with someone that is in a cartel who shows them how it’s like having power by caring a gun, killing their rivals, showing them drugs and how they work and what they do ect. That’s what the life in the Barrios of Mexico is like for children and they start picking up those actions from whoever is showing them the narcotics culture.

Children from ages 5-8 start showing aggressive actions in school or drawing depicting realities of Mexico’s drug wars, María Teresa Prieto Quezada, a psychologist at the University of Guadalajara, held a study investigating how the violence of the drug wars affect children. According to Alijazeera.com, 3,500 elementary school children participated in the investigation. The investigations involve surveys, interviews, and drawings. They told the children to draw a picture interpreting the theme “The Mexico I Live.” Most children are victims, or have trauma, because of the drug wars that happen in the area they live in. “The Mexico they perceived was not a Mexico where they played happily in the streets, it was not what you expect from a child,” said Ana María Mendez Puga. “Children in primary schools know more about the history of the drug trade than the history of Mexico,” says Prieto Quezada, a psychologist.

Children living in the barrios didn’t have a childhood from them seeing shootouts, dead bodies in bags being thrown out on the street/ body parts in bags etc…it was normal to them. Children seeing all those things made them show no interest in school, or becoming something in life like a teacher, doctor, lawyer ect., because for them it was a lifestyle they wanted to live.

Children starting from 5-year-olds are saying they want to be a sicario (hitman/triggerman) or narco. “Sometimes I think I would like to be like them, I would like to have the power, the money, the luxury cars and all the rest. On the other hand, you don’t live as long….people want to come to your house and kill you,” says David to the researchers. Children look up to Los narcos/cartels; they are their heroes. Many children respect drug traffickers and they want to be just like them; they admire narco-culture.

A 5-year-old boy aggressively attacked his classmate with a sharp stick saying he wanted to stab him. The teacher stopped him and asked him why he would want to do that to his classmate he said just because he wanted to then his teacher punished him by making him stand and think on what he had done. He got upset and threatened his teacher saying that after school his dad was going to be waiting for her to kill her; he has an AK-47. His teacher couldn’t believe that her 5-year-old student threatened her with death. The reason why the 5-year-old acted like that was because his dad is a Narco his kindergarten teacher said.

A narco’s son cannot fail anything in school; teachers would get death threats or even have gone missing for not passing their sons; they are terrified. In school, teachers try to teach their students that narcos are bad. What they do is harmful but it’s difficult to show a child that that lifestyle is wrong when they see it as something that is normal, and that they look up to. 

Many teenagers are already involved in cartels. They are the army of the cartels because cartels recruit 6-year-olds and up. Many young people see the drug traffickers as an almost untouchable figure. Many generations have been lost due to the cartels recruiting and teaching children how to use firearms and teaching them the narco lifestyle.

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North Sentinel Island

By: Jalalaisa Geleto

North Sentinel Island is an island off the south east coast of India. Even though it is close to India, the inhabitants of the island have been isolated from the outside world for 60,000 years.

They have been visited by multiple people in the modern era, but most attempts end in failure. The people of North Sentinel Island the “Sentinelese” hate foreigners and have attempted to kill any foreigners within their arrows range of the island.

Many times the Sentinelese succeed in killing those who visit them.

People believe the reason they are so violent towards foreigners is because of what happened the first time they contacted outsiders. In 1856, the British visited the island and kidnapped two Sentinelese. They decorated the Sentinelese with fancy clothing and gifted riches to them. They did this to convince the two Sentinelese to hand them over the island.

There were problems with this. The Sentinelese were extremely primitive and they don’t have immune systems that can deal with outside diseases. So, when the British returned to Sentinelese, they died immediately from disease. Ever since that first encounter, the Sentinelese seemed to have a burning hatred for all outsiders.

The Senetinelese are a mysterious people because of their xenophobia. We don’t know their language, culture, population, food supply. The little we do know is that they might have forgotten how to start fires. It seems like they wait for lightning to strike some wood, then they try to keep the flame going for as long as possible.

Their population is a mystery. There could be 20 – 400 Sentinelese on that island. They are a very rare special group of people so they are under the official protection of the Indian government.

A group of people who are from a distant past is quite remarkable and hopefully we can learn more about these strange and ancient peoples.

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COVID-19 and how different countries are handling the it

By: Aisha Dirie

Many countries are handling this pandemic differently. Many countries are still in lockdown, have certain restrictions, or restrict all travel from or to countries.

The US is still battling this pandemic. Many states still have COVID cases rising.

This pandemic has affected the economy in many different countries.

How different countries are handling this pandemic shows a lot about their leaders, how quickly this virus has spread, and how dangerous COVID-19 truly is. According to Worldometers.info, there are currently around 37 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with the US at the largest number of cases. Following the US is India with the second most cases worldwide.  

According to EndCoronavirus.org, some of the countries that are recovering, or have recovered completely from COVID, are New Zealand, Sudan, and Haiti.

In late March, New Zealand put in a very strict quarantine. This led the country COVID cases to decrease exponentially. This was a good move for the prime minister of New Zealand (Jacinda Ardern) because currently there are only a couple, or almost zero, COVID-19 cases in the country of New Zealand.

Other countries that have gone into strict lockdown have been managing their COVID-19 cases as well. 

Many different countries are handling this pandemic differently. On different scales, levels, seriousness, and population. There is definitely a trend between what countries are doing better than others. Some countries are back to normal life already.

This is different than some countries, including the US, Canada, etc. We are already far enough into this pandemic to recognize why certain countries have failed to reopen.

Time will tell.

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