Hope is offered for stamping out wombat-killing disease

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Recently, researchers have discovered that mange – that has ravaged wombats in southern Australia could be brought under control using a treatment commonly applied by pet owners on cats and dogs – bravecto.

Mange is a disease which causes wombats to lose some or all of their fur and starve to death within months. It has wiped out more than 90 percent of common wombats in a single national park on the island state of Tasmania and it is estimated that there are now as few as three common wombats left in Tasmania’s Narawntapu National Park, where hundreds of the marsupials once roamed. Despite its name, the common wombats is no longer common, and it has been officially a protected animal in New South Wales since 1970.

Many past attempts to control the disease in the park failed. These attempts included the small doors the scientists invented over wombats’ burrows, a course of mange-fighting treatment that was adopted for several months in 2015, a program that initially seemed to eliminate mange but was deemed unsuccessful in 2016 after it became clear the effect of eliminating the mange was only temporary. However, the scientists were sure that bravecto which is used to treat mange in domestic cats and dogs, might be effective for wombats. Trials of the drug on captive wombats are expected to last for the next six to 12 months, followed by at least two years of trials on wild animals.

After reading this article, I am very delighted to know that there is finally a cure for the wombat-killing disease. Being an animal lover, I have been very concerned with this disease killing so many adorable wombats and learning that there is a cure found relieves me.  What amazes me is that bravecto is useful in curing mange. I know that bravecto kills adult fleas and is indicated for the treatment and prevention of flea infestations, and the treatment and control of tick infestations. However, after research, I have discovered that bravecto is for dogs and cats and I am astounded to know that it is useful in curing mange. Additionally, the rapid loss of wombats has been linked to ecosystem decline, due to the role they play in the ecosystem. A new study led by Murdoch University has found that digging mammals play a key role in increasing nutrient turnover and water infiltration in soil, as well as dispersing seeds. Animals such as wombats, are credited with breaking up hard soil and recycling material, such as fallen leaves when they dig holes to live in. Thus, when the population of wombats decreases, there will be more leaf litter lying around, plants will have decreased growth rates and will not be as healthy when compared to when there are wombats present to dig holes to increase nutrient turnover and water infiltration in soil. This then links to population of consumers decreasing due to lesser producers. This makes me feel relieved that a cure was found for the wombats so we do not have to experience those consequences.

References:

Law Xuan Ping

1 Purity

 

Social media app TikTok removes Islamic State propaganda videos

Social media app TikTok has taken down accounts that posted propaganda videos for the Islamic State group in the latest scandal to hit the popular platform. TikTok, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, claimed some 500 million users globally last year, making it one of the most popular social apps.

The videos featured corpses being paraded through streets and Islamic State fighters with guns, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story on Monday.

The Journal said the posts were from about two dozen accounts, which were identified by social media intelligence company Storyful. “Content promoting terrorist organizations have absolutely no place on TikTok,” the company said in a statement emailed to AFP.

“We permanently ban any such accounts and associated devices as soon as identified, and we continuously develop ever-stronger controls to proactively detect suspicious activity,” it said.

The TikTok platform, which allows users to create and share videos of 15 seconds, is particularly popular with teenagers.”Unlike other platforms, which are centred around users’ friends or communities, TikTok is based on engaging with a never-ending stream of new content,” said Darren Davidson, the editor-in-chief of Storyful.

“The ISIS postings violate TikTok’s policies, but the sheer volume of content makes it difficult for TikTok to police their platform and root out these videos,” he said.

The app has been marred by controversy in recent months. In April, TikTok was briefly banned by an Indian court over claims it was promoting pornography among children.

The app is banned in neighbouring Bangladesh and was hit with an enormous fine in the United States for illegally collecting information from children. The company has refuted the allegations, saying they abide by local privacy laws.

Like any other social media platform, there is always the possibility for inappropriate behavior, especially when minors are involved. TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, does work to remove videos in violation of the Terms of Use, but that can only go so far. In recent months, many social media sites have taken action to protect young people on their platforms — for example, YouTube has disabled comments on videos made by minors to protect them from predators. Hence, I feel only time will tell how TikTok continues to fend off potential threats, and to step up measures to make this app a more safe environment for many. While Tiktok can take action by removing videos that violate their guidelines, the sheer number of videos make it almost impossible to filter content completely, hence I feel users should be discerning to the kind of information they are receiving, and refrain from watching clips with harmful content. Likewise, users who are too young should have parental consent before creating any videos themselves or parents’ supervision over the videos they are watching.

Reference:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/social-media-app-tiktok-removes-islamic-state-propaganda-videos-12023866

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/04/230000/what-is-tik-tok-app-explained

Lynn Tan

3 Justice

Minecraft

Check out your trending section in the gaming category of youtube. Well what is most of the content on it? Fortnite, a game which used to dominate the trending pages, even dance steps from the game’s characters which were circulating around the world, has been replaced. Now Minecraft takes over the once glorious spot Fortnite used to hold.

Minecraft is a game which allows players to build with a variety of different blocks in a 3D procedurally generated world. Other activities in the game include exploration, resource gathering, crafting, and combat. Multiple game modes that change gameplay are available like a survival mode, in which players must acquire resources to build the world and maintain health, and a creative mode, where players have unlimited resources to build with. Minecraft used to be selling like hot cakes in 2013 and sales were skyrocketing. Yet, it faced a decline and slowly the hype for it went down as people moved on to other games. So why a game which lost its popularity then is now gaining back their ‘gaming phenomenon’ title in 2019, with Minecraft videos garnering millions of views?

These are some reasons why people think minecraft is skyrocketing again.

Firstly, many say that it is because it is the game’s 10th birthday. Players who stopped playing then decide to join back as a wave of nostalgia hit them. And this marks the beginning of minecraft’s road to relevance when people start hitting search engines, downloading the game and talking about it again. Secondly, a very pivotal factor that contributes to this huge popularity is publicity. Famous gamers who have a large following on Youtube like  Pewdiepie start to play Minecraft on a regular basis, which hit #1 on Youtube gaming trending page.  Many YouTubers and Twitch streamers start playing Minecraft, which in the end creates more hype. There are even events held like keemstar with Minecraft Monday etc. In conclusion, this hype contributes to a cycle. The more Minecraft is acknowledged by influential people and events, the more people hear about the game, the more people then try out the game. The cycle is then perennial and more hype is created. Other factors agreed by many are the recent updates surrounding Minecraft. Features which gamers screamed for are now included, like Aquatic Update and the Village and Pillage Update. Besides, a popular Skyblock is released which pushes much fresh air into the Minecraft community.

With the dramatic rise of Minecraft, it is certainly a gaming trend now. Personally, I do not have any disapproval of the rise of this trend. This gaming trend has allowed for more players to interact and form friendship bonds, and also provides entertainment for many. Although I do not play the game myself, I know of many of my friends who have jumped on this bandwagon. I hope that this gaming trend can continue as it is truly creative but players should also learn to curb their usage. As a viewer of these minecraft videos, I wish the game will continue to allow creative options.

Reference :

https://www.dexerto.com/fortnite/stats-minecraft-overtaking-fortnite-battle-royale-popularity-721662

Lynn Tan

3Justice

 

Abortion

In this day and age, unwanted and unplanned pregnancies are way more common than you think. In 2012, approximately 40 percent of pregnancies worldwide were unintended. In the United States alone, 50 percent of all pregnancies are unplanned and 43 percent of these unplanned pregnancies result in abortion.

Firstly, a foetus is a person. Human life begins at conception and all the babies who are aborted are humans with lives.The foetus is an innocent human being. People seem to think that just because the baby isn’t born, it isn’t a life, when in fact, it is equivalent to killing a person.  From the moment the egg is fertilised, a life is formed and it should be treated like a normal living human being.

Secondly, abortion not only kills an innocent being, but it also scars the mother of the baby as she will  most probably be traumatised after everything is over. This emotional condition is known as Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS). It is being associated with a form of post-traumatic stress reactions (PTSD) which often occurs after an individual has suffered an event so stressful and so traumatic that he/she is unable to cope with this experience. After this traumatic event, those suffering from PTSD are unable to simply resume their lives where they had left off. Instead, they experience many different reactions that do not go away merely with time. One important factor related to the negative emotional or psychological effects has to do with one’s belief about the baby in the womb. Those who believe it is not a baby until it is born to have less of a chance of experiencing negative emotional consequences. However, those who believe it is a baby are more likely to experience negative emotional side effects.

All in all, abortion is not something we should be alright with and taken lightly. No matter how small a foetus is, it is still a life and it should be treasured.

References:

https://americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/abortion-emotional-effects/

https://adviceandaid.com/the-very-real-effects-of-abortion-emotional-facts-you-need-part-2/

Adele Yeo

2 Charity

Liza Koshy

Elizabeth Shaila Koshy, better known as Liza Koshy, is an American actress, television host, comedian and YouTuber. She began her career on Vine in 2013, before starting a YouTube channel later on. Her career started when Liza started Vine and began growing more and more popular with every short video she uploaded. When she finally opened up another platform to connect with her fans, Liza began uploading comedic videos every week on YouTube.

Sure enough, Liza’s following started to increase rapidly on Youtube. Even though Vine shut down in 2016, she continued to thrive in her career because of her similarly hilarious videos on YouTube. Currently, she has over 17 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 17 million Instagram followers. Liza’s videos on youtube are undeniably funny and never fail to drag me into watching more and more. Even re-watching her videos again and again is entertaining, and you can never quite get sick of her humourous jokes and puns.

Ever since day one, she stood by her values to love herself and appreciate herself no matter what she looks like and what others think of her. In 2018, Liza herself went through a tough patch and took a break from youtube for the majority of the year. During that time, Liza posted a few videos updating her fans about how she was doing and explaining the long break from YouTube. She uploaded a compilation of the videos she attempted to film during this time and shared her true feelings and weaknesses with her audience. She re-assured everyone who was going through a similar experience as her, that it would all get better.

Ever since I began watching her videos on YouTube last year, and taking my time to watch all her older videos from start to end, it made me feel at ease and significantly happier when I watched her videos. It taught me that happiness is a choice, and that we need to learn to find it in our lives. Slowly, I gained respect for her, that she was able to share her real feelings and be open about her true self.

Adele Yeo

2 Charity

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

If you are a fan of fantasy novels, I have just the book for you! Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the debut novel of American author, Ransom Riggs. There are currently four books in this series, being Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City, Library Of Souls and A Map Of Days. This series is particularly interesting as the stories are told through a combination of narratives and photographs from the personal archives of the collectors listed by the author.

The story starts off by talking about the protagonist Jacob Portman’s grandfather, Abraham. As a child, Jacob listened to Abraham’s stories about living with peculiar children in a special children’s home run by Miss Peregrine. But as Jacob grows older, he starts to doubt his grandfather’s stories until one day, he visits his injured and dying grandfather and sees the strange, horrifying creature his grandfather had always told him about. The catch is, only Jacob and Abraham could see the creature! Obviously, no one believes Jacob’s account of the invisible monster, and he was believed to be going crazy. His parents take him to Dr. Golan, a psychiatrist, who suggested that Jacob go to Wales, the location of his grandfather’s children’s home. However, upon his arrival, Jacob finds the home deserted, and tries to seek information from the local people there.

Despite being told that the home had been destroyed by a bomb in 1940, Jacob refused to give up. He returns to the home once again and this time, encounters a girl who could produce fire with her hands. Upon seeing Jacob, the girl ran away, with Jacob in hot pursuit. When he crossed the bogs, however, he realised that his surroundings had changed. It is later explained that he had entered a loop, where Miss Peregrine and her children lived in.

In my opinion, this book is a great pick for people who love to read about fantasy! There are also a lot of plot twists along the way, which adds on to the suspense of readers. Even though I am not a huge fan of fantasy, I found this book series very interesting and immediately took a liking to it.

-Desiree Lim

3 Hope

 

 

Singapore’s Dying Hawker Trend

As we step into a vibrant and bustling hawker centre, the strong aroma of traditional hawker food welcomes us. In Singapore, the diversity of food is probably our pride and joy. What better place to appreciate Singapore’s diversity than in our very own food havens- hawker centres?

With over thirteen thousand stalls islandwide, hawker culture has become extremely integrated into our day to day lives. It is thus without doubt that hawker food means a great deal to Singaporeans. However, this hawker trend is slowly dying and here are some reasons why.

Firstly, many hawkers who have been running their stalls for decades are slowly leaving the industry due to old age. This leaves the next generation of the family to take over the business but most of the younger generation would prefer not to take over the tedious job. Their reason being lack of interest or passion to do the job.

Secondly, most of the younger generation (and their parents) would prefer not to work as a hawker due to the gruelling hours and amount of effort they have to put in to run the stall. On average, hawkers work 12 full hours. Most hawkers began the day at around 5am, preparing the food in the wee hours of the morning before heading to the stall, setting up and then serving food until around 4pm. They then head back home and continue preparing ingredients. The long hours make the job extremely intense and not many are up for the challenge and commitment.

Lastly, the rising costs of rent paired with the lack of customers would mean that few people would attempt to venture into the business. The hawker business is dependent on the public. Skyrocketing rents and lesser people patronizing hawker centres are constant deterrents for those considering the business. Hence, the next-generation of hawkers are hard to come by. 

However, it is without doubt that the Singapore hawker culture is extremely iconic and it is something that all Singaporeans can connect with. In my opinion, Singapore should try to preserve its hawker culture. Almost everyone grew up having meals in hawker centres and it would definitely be a pity to have it slowly die down in the hands of the younger generation. Nothing could compare to the heated discussions between Singaporeans about which stall served the best wanton mee or nasi lemak. 

I feel that the government could introduce incentives for young hawkers starting out. For example, monthly discounts for stall rental for hawkers just starting out. Or allow for more holidays for hawkers. This would lead to hawkers to be more comfortable in their work environment and hence step up to try their hand at being a hawker. The interest could be cultivated in the younger generation so as to ensure that we can still maintain the high-quality yet affordable food for all to enjoy. 

Lok Qi Ern

2 Loyalty

The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is a heart wrenching tale of two seemingly star crossed lovers. It is an intriguing tale of two teenagers, Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace fighting a long battle against cancer. They first cross paths at a support group session and soon enough, Hazel finds her inner walls being broken down by Augustus’ warm and friendly exterior. Augustus helps bring colour to Hazel’s once dull life, breaking boundaries and introducing new emotions and experiences for the both of them. One highlight of the book is a trip to Amsterdam to meet Hazel’s all-time favourite author- except things take a saddening turn when things do not turn out the way everyone would have liked. Hazel and Augustus’ story spirals downhill when Augustus reveals that his cancer had returned. To quote Hazel, “The world is not a wish-granting factory.” 

Amongst other things, this book deeply reinforces how there always is light in the darkness. Augustus brought light to Hazel’s life. She had once been a reserved person who seemingly had given up on life. However, she regained a positive outlook on life after Augustus repeatedly showed her that cancer patients could be happy too.

I particularly enjoyed this book as the author, John Green expertly used humour to tell this story, such that there were moments where one would be torn between laughing and crying. I personally found Hazel’s transformation from a sad teenager who had lost most of her life into a bubbly one, full of love and wisdom and a new perspective towards life very heartwarming. The story was told from the perspective of Hazel, a teenager which allowed me to relate to the characters more. From tensions with her family to mulling over posts on social media, Hazel faced problems that many teenagers would encounter, allowing us to better appreciate the book and connect to the characters on an emotional level. I also enjoyed how the author grasped our attention by telling a story using simple language yet being able to convey such powerful emotions. I find The Fault In Our Stars unique as it does not seem to have a specific meaning to it, rather, it serves mainly to tell a story and leave the readers to think about the meaning and purpose of the story.

The Fault in Our Stars is definitely a good read and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an engaging book which would tug at their heartstrings.

Lok Qi Ern

2 Loyalty

Trends: selfie

Social media has given rise to a strange sensation called the selfie. A selfie is a picture taken of yourself by yourself. These pictures can be easily taken with the front-facing cameras on smartphones and are often posted on social media. Although everyone with a smartphone is able to take a selfie, the younger generation seems to be especially immersed in this trend.

People take selfies as a way of expressing themselves and to build their own self images. Many people take selfies for themselves as a way of boosting their confidence in their appearances. On the other hand, some may do it to get attention from as many people as possible. People enjoy getting noticed on social media and gathering likes and gaining followers is an easy way to fish for compliments and boost their own ego. However, selfies become a serious issue when more and more people are attempting to take dangerous selfies in order to gain popularity.

Selfies become dangerous and life-threatening when people are, quite literally, dying to take them. In Russia, 2015, there have been a handful of selfie-related fatalities, including the death of two men in the Ural Mountains who posed for a photo while pulling the pin from a hand grenade. Likewise, Canadian Tom Ryaboi took a picture with his feet dangling from a Toronto skyscraper with the camera looking straight down into the streets. Unsurprisingly, his photos inspired others to try and do the same as well. As these dangerous shots become more popular, more people feel pressured to attempt to take them too. This has resulted in a rise in selfie deaths as shown in a study done in 2018.

As the trends become more popular, the death toll gets higher. I hope that more people will be more aware of the dangers of risking their lives to take their selfies. Although taking these life threatening selfies are a way of gaining popularity, there are other safer alternatives and I wholeheartedly wish that people will pursue them instead. Nonetheless, many people will still continue it due to their tendency to gravitate towards daredevil stunts and the thrill that such perilous acts can provide them with, despite the obvious dangers of hopping on board of this trend.

https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-selfie-3485946

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34466322

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/most-dangerous-selfies-bear-volcano-grand-canyon-gun-christ-the-redeemer-a7678901.html

Gabrielle Sim

3 Hope

Opinions on Social Media

Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. There have been many articles discussing the pros and cons of social media, for example, how it makes it convenient to stay in contact with your family and friends, how it is too intrusive to relationships causing many to not value face-to-face interactions anymore. However, do the pros really outweigh the cons? Although social media has its advantages, the cons outweigh the pros by a landslide.

Social media has become very popular and is causing a myriad of problems among teenagers. The negative effects of social media are numerous. Teenagers can be easily influenced by their peers and this can lead to depression and anxiety. They can also be exposed to harmful messages that can affect their self-esteem and make them feel worthless. It is important to note that these issues are not limited only to teenagers. There have been a large number of articles written about how social media can negatively affect teenagers and children but many fail to mention that it can also harm adults. Social media is not good for the mental well-being and can be damaging.

One of the reasons why social media is detrimental to our health is because it is so addictive. Social media addiction may not cause physical harms, such as those caused by alcohol and smoking, but it has to potential to bring long-term damage. Addiction to social media can affect us in ways such as escapism,mental preoccupation and neglect of personal lives. This behaviour is prevalent in people who use social media excessively. Studies have also confirmed that people tend to undergo withdrawal symptoms when they stopped using social media. This shows that our society is so addicted to the internet that we cannot even live without it for a short while.

Despite the many drawbacks of social media, it still has its usefulness. It can help keep us connected to people thousands of miles away and it can help us make new friends too. It can help us keep up with the new things happening everyday in the world. However, we still should not spend too much time on social media as it would be detrimental to our health should we get addicted.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#7015bb1e2e5a

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/social-media-mental-health-negative-effects-depression-anxiety-addiction-memory-a8307196.html

https://medium.com/lab-work/the-negative-affect-of-too-much-social-media-8af0358e6870

Gabrielle Sim

3 Hope