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

Headlines: Singapore’s first-of-its-kind dementia care village

Singapore’s first dementia care village is under way for construction, in existing bungalows located in Sembawang. The pilot project’s objective is to improve the quality of life for dementia patients and offer a wide range of options for treatment and residence. Studies revealed that an estimated 82000 Singaporeans suffer from dementia, over half of whom feel abandoned. The village strives to assist residents in living independently, and provides both entertainment and opportunities for them to interact and connect with one another through various tailored schemes.

I find it heartening that the minority group of sufferers of mental disabilities is  being catered to, instead of being neglected by society. I am glad that Singapore is making the effort to advance and create a more inclusive society, in which citizens of all walks of life, be it healthy or disabled, are showered with the love, assistance and attention that they deserve. Hopefully, more inspiring projects like these are set to take place in future, contributing to the development of suitable dementia care models and providing insight to the demands of dementia patients. As long as our healthcare system continues to improve, I am positive that Singapore will be capable of paving the way to upgrade the quality of our eldercare services.

Reference: https://www.msn.com/en-sg/news/singapore/singapores-first-of-its-kind-dementia-care-village-will-be-built-with-10-bungalows-in-sembawang/ar-AAEoY4n

Valerie Tan

2 Grace

Nora Quoirin

Nora Quoirin

On the morning of the fourth of August, 2019, Nora Anne Quoirin was found missing after she and her family had checked in to The Dusun, a rainforest resort in Malaysia. 

Nora Quoirin, a 15- year- old daughter of Irish-Franco parentage and reported to have learning disabilities, has been described by a family- friend as unusual for her to wander off. After her parents raised the alarm of her disappearance, police used sniffer dogs to search for the young teen. Hopes were high as they believed that she could not have gone far. However, on 6 August, when she was still not found, her family and the Lucie Blackman Trust, a British charity, suspected that it was an abduction. Although said to not have ruled out the possibility of foul play, investigators have been treating it as a missing person case. As days passed without any sign, the situation had become more urgent and both rewards, in exchange for information regarding Nora’s whereabouts, and crowdfunding pages were set up.

A few days into the search, a recording of her mother’s voice calling Nora’s name was played via loudspeakers and search teams played it on their mobile phones while making their way through the jungle. They hoped that she would hear her mother’s voice and head towards their direction. 

Her parents, while understandably devastated, have expressed their gratitude to the search teams involved since their daughter’s disappearance on 10 August. 

However, three days after that, a Caucasian female body had been found beside a stream, a mile away from the Dusun. The cause of death is not yet known, but it has been confirmed to be the body of young Nora Quoirin.

I personally find this situation extremely sad as she had her whole life ahead of her, but passed away so abruptly without any proper farewells from her loved ones. It also made me think about how it would be like to lose a cherished person suddenly, especially if they are still in their youth, and the heartbreak their families have to suffer through. This helped me to realise that I have to treasure the people around me more.

References:

https://www.thejournal.ie/nora-quoirin-timeline-malaysia-4758218-Aug2019/

https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/british-schoolgirl-nora-quoirin-has-vanished-in-malaysia-but-police-have-said-there-was-no-abduction/news-story/024b5bf7d72096532e5517b7c8f89b5c

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/nora-quoirin-malaysia-irish-teen-missing-11781398

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-49340903

Chloe Tan

2 Unity

Aloysius Pang’s passing shakes the nation

Aloysius Pang

Recently, the passing of Aloysius Pang Wei Chong – a former Mediacorp artiste – after an accident during his reservist has shocked many Singaporeans. The 28-year-old Singaporean suffered injuries as a result of an accident during the manning of a military vehicle. When the news came out on 24 January that the dire situation had taken a turn for the worse, the public were devastated from such a sudden loss.

Aloysius’ girlfriend, Jayley Woo, also took to Instagram to express her grief of the situation, as she mentioned the pain she felt when she heard the news, knowing that he was planning to propose to her soon. His family also addressed the situation on his social media page, whereby Aloysius’ brother explained that the loss of Aloysius had indeed been hard for the family, and mentioned that there was little hope of recovery even before his confirmed passing.

Aloysius started his acting career at only 9 years old in 1999, and subsequently participated in the making of several television dramas and film projects. After taking a hiatus at the age of 14 due to the stress of being in the spotlight, he returned to the acting circuit at the age of 22. He even received the Best Newcomer award at the 红星大奖 (Mediacorp Star Awards) in 2015. However in 2017, he parted ways with Mediacorp with the intention to pursue plans for a startup company – but was still open to joining filming projects as a freelancer as he still had a passion for acting. Since then, he joined a new media broadcasting company and acted in new projects, such as the Toggle original ‘Love At Cavenagh Bridge’ which aired in 2018. He was even set to film and act in Channel 8’s upcoming drama ‘My One In A Million’ in February 2019.

With the Singapore acting circle being relatively small, to have a familiar face disappear from our small screens would certainly form a lasting impact on our hearts. Personally, Aloysius Pang had been one of the few actors I recognized on cable networks, ever since I was young enough to watch it. As I grew up, so did his roles on television, and if ever someone were to ask me what a Singaporean celebrity was, I would usually say “Aloysius Pang” with confidence. To have older brothers who have finished their National Service and would also have to do reservist in the future, this incident really spoke to my heart. To think that Aloysius was also somebody’s brother or somebody’s son is painful, and I wish that such terrible incidences would not happen again in the future. It was a harsh lesson to be learnt, be it for the operators of the military vehicle or the supervisors of the situation, and I’m certain they would not let an unfortunate accident like this pass without reflecting on how to prevent such accidents in the future. Although the death of Aloysius Pang has been something unexpected, he will certainly be remembered fondly by many Singaporeans for his passion for acting and good-natured soul.

 

References:

https://mothership.sg/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/aloy-pang-featured.g

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/five-things-about-aloysius-pang

https://mothership.sg/2019/01/propose-marry-jayley-woo-aloysius-pang/

 

Jaime Ng

4 Truth

 

Immigration policies in America

Immigration...In old warehouses, hundreds of children wait in metal cages. Clutching pictures of their parents, as many as twenty children per cage lie on foil sheets intended to serve as blankets. This is the situation in America right now. 

Public outrage and backlash has been sparked throughout the world as news of the recent zero-tolerance immigration policy has surfaced. More and more reports of crying children ripped away from their parents and kept in cages have been released, causing many to protest and condemn the methods used by the US government. In one such report, Michelle Brane, director of migrant rights at the Women’s Refugee Commission, said:”The Government is literally taking kids away from their parents and leaving them in inappropriate conditions. If a parent left a child in a cage with no supervision with other 5-year-olds, they’d be held accountable.” Indeed, her words ring with truth and no doubt cast light over this particular situation.

One victim of these immigration laws is Rómulo González, who had his right eye torn out during a kidnapping which cost his family $13,500 to free him. Fearing another attack he decided to seek asylum in the US.González was detained and his three-year-old daughter Genesis was taken away from him.

Thousands of people have rallied in the U.S. capital and in cities across the United States in protest of these immigration policies. Hundreds of demonstrations were scheduled across the country, amid mounting anger about the policy which has resulted in thousands of migrant children being separated from their parents. In a square opposite the White House, protesters chanted “Shame! Shame!” Some carried signs saying “Where are the children?” and “Stop cruelty” and “We are America.”

Personally, I am torn between two perspectives in this case. On the one hand, illegal immigration undermines legal immigration. There are several million people who have been waiting a long time to be granted American citizenships, and illegal immigration is unfair towards them. It is somewhat like some people cutting queues when other people have already been standing in line a long time However, one the other hand, illegal immigrants are simply trying to create a better future for themselves and their children. They may have been in danger in their own country and not have the time to wait for citizenship. They are ordinary people that were in a bad situation and tried to get out of it to protect their families. It seems that in these situations, there is no right answer.

On another note, many admirable American citizens have emerged in light of the recent affairs. The protests and marches held no doubt took hours of planning, and show their ability to work together and stand up for what is right. It also exemplifies their ability to empathise with other human beings, and I am filled with respect for their attitude.

In conclusion, I feel that there is simply no easy fix in this case. However, I hope that these young children receive adequate care and are returned to their parents soon, so that they can face whatever will happen to them together.

Ashley Sia

1 Purity

The Chinese New Year Dog Circus Controversy

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The recent celebration of the Lunar New Year welcomes the brand new year of the dog. We have seen Lo Hei dishes designed into a dog’s face, pineapple tarts made to look like a cute puppy’s head, but the most infamous celebratory event of all would be “the first and only dog circus from China” – the Chinese New Year Dog Circus.

The circus sparked off a controversy the day it started ticket sales last December. A petition was started by a Singaporean, Ms Summer Ong, who actively opposed to the idea of this circus taking place as she felt it promoted animal cruelty. One act that was supposed to be showcased was of poodles juggling circus props and performing acts such as ring stunts, acrobatics and many more. Ms Ong felt that such acts were “severely archaic, cruel and unethical”, and she expressed her deep disappointment towards Sistic and Resorts World Sentosa for allowing such shows to be put up in Singapore when they should be promoting an animal-friendly society. Her petition garnered a total of 7236 signatures in the short span of a day. Needless to say, this episode started debates between netizens on whether such performances were considered abuse, with the majority supporting Ms Ong’s stand. In response to this unexpected backlash, organizers stopped ticket sales and cancelled the show.

I feel that Ms Ong’s point on how animal cruelty should not be tolerated stands true. However, I feel that it is important for us to consider and understand the context as to whether the animals were brutally forced to perform as well. The topic of ethics brought up in this news highlights how there are always two different point of views, none of which are wrong. If the dogs are well-fed, does this mean that the dogs have been tortured because they are involved in the performances? Thus, I believe that all in all, it is best to leave animals alone in their natural habitats. This would not only prevent such controversies from surfacing in the future, but it will most importantly, show our basic respect to another living being.

References:

Renee Ong

4 Unity

Headlines: Bringing life to the world

 

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On 7th April, while it was really early in the morning, three SCDF officers managed to successfully deliver a baby and “brought life into the world”.

It was around 7.45 am when it happened. Pregnant 29 year old, Keryn Toh, suddenly suffered an intense contraction in her flat in Novena and became paralyzed with pain. Her husband, Mr Ho, immediately alerted the paramedics and started pacing worriedly in the carpark. By the time they arrived, it was too late. Ms Toh’s water bag had burst and the baby’s head could already be seen. There was no time to take her to the hospital and they had to deliver the baby right then and there.

Mr Ho was in good hands despite his concerns of the paramedics’ experiences. At 8.15 am, they delivered a healthy baby boy. Shortly after the incident, Mr Ho attempted to send these three SCDF officers a hamper. However, they rejected it, saying that SCDF does not accept gifts. Mr Ho then took to social media to pen down his gratitude to the officers.

In my opinion, I fully understand what Mr Ho was trying to do. I think that we should try to be more appreciative towards our defence officers, in this case the SCDF officers. Most of the time, we don’t really thank or notice the people who make our country as peaceful and safe as they can be. However, if we actually start to appreciate these officers, we can see how much time and effort they sacrifice for our country. We can learn to be grateful as well in this process.

Just like how we say ‘thank you’ to our canteen uncles and aunties or to our cleaners in our school, we can do so too to our officers. Although it would be weird to say ‘thank you’ to a patrolling police officer, we can say a silent ‘thank you’ and be thankful that we have such officers protecting our country.

Rachel Lie

1 Purity

Kim Jong-un’s half-brother ‘assassinated by two female agents using poisoned needles’ in Malaysia

khuA shocking, horrific and appalling event happened recently. It took place right at our doorstep – Malaysia. Kim Jong-un’s half-brother was ‘assassinated by two female agents using poisoned needles’ in Malaysia.

Shocking images show Kim Jong-nam slumped in a chair having been poisoned.

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South Korean intelligence claims that Kim Jong-un ‘ordered’ half-brother’s killing and that North’s foreign ministry and ministry of national security had recruited the two female suspects in his murder. South Korean lawmaker Kim Byung-kee said in a televised address, “The assassination of Kim Jong Nam was an act of systematic terror ordered by Kim Jong Un.”

 

Kim Jong Nam was accosted by two women at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13, while on his way to board a plane to the Chinese-territory of Macau.

He died on his way to hospital, less than 20 minutes later, according to Malaysian investigators, who said the women had attacked him with a VX nerve agent.

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One of the suspects.

Autopsy results from Kim Jong Nam’s body showed that he had died within 15 to 20 minutes after the assault. Even though the Indonesian suspect, 25-year-old Aisyah, told the Indonesian deputy ambassador to Malaysia that she believed she was taking part in a prank when she rubbed the substance on Kim’s face and believed it was baby oil but Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has firmly rejected her story, saying both women were “trained to swab the deceased’s face.”

Despite all evidences pointing to the fact that North Korea initiated the assassination,  North Korea has consistently denied any involvement in Kim Jong Nam’s killing and accused South Korean media of publishing “false reports.”

Malaysian authorities are still holding Kim’s body and won’t turn it over until they receive a next-of-kin DNA sample, dental profiling and body marks to identify the victim.

Personally, I was appalled at this sudden news because it happened at our door step – Malaysia. Kim Jong-un inhumane act made me questioned humanity because no matter how much hate he harboured against his half-brother, how could he commit such an abhorrent crime? This reflects badly on his character to show how he can be so heartless and brutal when it comes to assassinating his potential rivals.

Ming Ting

3Unity

 

Headlines- ‘I only have half a brain’

A girl named Jodie was three when she started having seizures, and she was diagnosed with a rare disease, Rasmussen’s encephalitis.

Jodie had her first seizure when she was at her day care playing,and the next thing she knew she was in an ambulance. Lynn Miller, Jodie’s mother, said she went to the hospital and just watched Jodie. Jodie had a seizure again the next day, but nothing the doctors did worked.

Jodie then started having seizures regularly, constantly falling to the left and it got really bad that one of her family members had to be at her left side all the time. Jodie even started having seizures every three minutes!

Jodie’s condition causes chronic inflammation of the brain, usually in one hemisphere. The doctors explained that there was only one way to treat her, and it was to take out the half of the brain that was affected. The doctors hoped that if they removed Jodie’s right side of her brain, the left side would compensate and take over the right side’s functions.

Jodie had the operation the same year, when she was three. It was a success and her seizures stopped. Before the operation, her  rain might have even started to rewire itself! However, the signs of what had happened was limited movement in Jodie’s left arm and a limp. Jodie is still very positive despite only having half a brain.

Imagine taking out half of your brain. Life may be a bit awkward for you if people know that you only have half a brain, but according to Jodie, her life was no different than anybody else. She has been married for four years and has been living with her husband. Jodie is very grateful to her parents for what they did, because if she had the surgery any later, she might not be alive today.

I think that Jodie’s story is really touching. Despite only having half a brain she is still positive and thinks that her life is no different than a normal person’s life. We should all learn to be like Jodie, to be positive and never give up.

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Reference: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-39117532

 

-Desiree Lim

1 Grace