Closing Ceremony Report

As the curtain fell on the 11th annual session of MEDI.MUN, an atmosphere of melancholy and sadness circles the Cultural Centre of the European University where the Closing Ceremony tookplace. The seats gradually began filling up and when everyone was eventually seated, MEDI.MUN Senior Director Mr. James Lodge moved to the stage to deliver his speech. He was extremely pleased, and of course proud to announce that this year’s MEDI.MUN was the largest one yet, and one of the most productive ones. He emphasised on how grateful he was for everybody’s help, and special thanks were given to the directors for their constructive criticism.

Many more surprises awaited the delegates, organisers and managers of the room, commencing with an address by the commander of UNFICYP and a serving General in the Norwegian Army, Major General Kristin Lund. All eyes and ears were focused on Ms. Lund as she delivered her passionate speech and kind words. Following the speech was a musical interlude by two members of the English School Senior Choir, Jessica and Julia Jenkins, who performed a song, with Jessica playing the guitar and both of them singing. Their immense skill and talent had all eyes fixed on them in awe and a big round of applause was awarded for their beautiful presentation. That was not all concerning the entertainment of the ceremony as suddenly the lights dimmed and a video was projected, of all the best and funniest moments of MEDI.MUN. The video had everyone smiling with a twinge of sadness in their eyes as they acknowledged that all these experiences had become memories, especially for the seventh years who would be unable to attend next year.

Finally the president of the General Assembly, Mehmet Goksu, the Deputy Secretary General, Melina Lambrou and the Secretary General, Marianna Lordou rose to give their memorable final words. “When I stood on the podium three years ago, I was just a scared little boy, but when I left that podium, that little boy had disappeared.” Mehmet offers his supporting words to all newcomers of MEDI.MUN, nostalgic of the years he had come to love and enjoy despite his hard work and dedication. “Responsbility comes with a lot of hard work, which can be tiring and restless, but nevertheless it has been rewarding.” Melina says and proceeds to thank all the managers for their own hard work and time they have put into making this MEDI.MUN resplendent. Lastly, Marianna Lordou stands up to deliver the last speech of this year’s MEDI.MUN and officially pronounce this session closed, but not before she gives her inspiring words to all the delegates and members. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” she quotes descirbing her journey through MEDI.MUN, initially as a reporter for Medinews, a delegate, a chair and now, the Secretary General of the 11th annual session of MEDI.MUN. With hope and ambition for the years to come, everyone unhurriedly stood up to leave, bringing this life-changing experience to an end.

Biological Warfare: a long-overlooked threat?   

               By Sophia Archontis

 

Biological warfare is defined as the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with the intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war. Although it may not be as common as other forms of warfare, it has actually been used for thousands of years, often with devastating impacts.

Back in the 18th century, British forces infamously distributed smallpox-infected blankets to Native American tribes in Ottawa during the French-Indian War. Sir Jeffrey Amherst, the commander of the British forces in North America, suggested the deliberate use of smallpox to reduce the native Indian population that was hostile towards the British, something which was particularly easy to do due to the Native Americans’ susceptibility to the disease: they lacked immunity having no previous exposure to it. One of Amherst’s subordinate officers provided the Native Americans with smallpox-covered blankets from a hospital after an outbreak of the disease in Fort Pitt. As a result, a large outbreak of smallpox occurred among the Indian tribes in the Ohio River Valley. The disease spread like wildfire. Smallpox is classified by the CDC as a Category A biological weapon due to its high mortality rate and the fact that it is easily transmittable through air.

Another significant bio-weapon used throughout the years is B. Anthracis (anthrax), a bacterial disease spread through spores that affects the skin and lungs, causing severe skin sores and pneumonia. Japanese scientists conducted human experiments with aerosolized anthrax in the late 1930s in their biological warfare facility in Manchuria, which they had occupied. In 1942, British forces experimented with anthrax bombs on Gruinard Island, an island near Scotland. This led to the island being so heavily contaminated, that 280 tons of formaldehyde and 2000 tons of seawater were required to fully decontaminate it. In 1979, the Soviet Union ‘accidentally’ released airborne anthrax, managing to case the deaths of 66 people. During the First World War, the German Army developed anthrax, amongst other diseases, specifically for use as biological weapons: they allegedly spread plague in St. Petersburg, Russia, infected mules in Mesopotamia, and attempted to spread diseases in the French Cavalry’s horses. Iraq began an offensive biological weapons program in 1985, and produced anthrax, botulinum toxin, and aflatoxin. Following the Persian Gulf War, Iraq disclosed that it had bombs, Scud missiles, 122-mm rockets, and artillery shells armed with botulinum toxin, anthrax, and aflatoxin. They also had spray tanks fitted to aircraft that could distribute agents over a specific target.

However, by far the most frightening biological weapon is the ‘Chimera Virus’, which is a virus created by genetically modifying two or more viruses’ DNAs. Geneticists have already discovered how to increase the lethality of bio-weapons like smallpox and anthrax by tweaking their genetic structure. By combining genes, scientists could create a virus that triggered two diseases at once. During the 1980s, the Soviet Union’s Chimera Project studied the possibility of combining smallpox and Ebola into one virus. This process would allow the newly created virus to retain smallpox’s virulence and its appearance under a microscope, all the while spreading an entirely different infection, which would allow the virus to evade vaccines and treatments. According to Dr. Alibek, the Soviet biological weapons program actually developed a chimera virus with the genes of Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis virus, as well as researching the Ebola and smallpox chimera virus. Other potential scenarios would involve strains of viruses that require certain triggers, such as a virus that would remain dormant for a specific period of time until it is triggered by predetermined stimuli. Other possible chimeric bio-weapons might require two components to become effective, for example a strain of botulinum toxin that, when combined with the botulinum toxin antidote, only becomes more lethal.

To conclude, although biological weapons may not be the most commonly used ones, they are by far the most dangerous. If used in serious combat, they could lead to thousands if not millions of deaths, and could even progress to disease epidemics, and it is vital that the public is sufficiently informed.

 

 

Technological Advancements- Blessing or Curse? BMW and Royal Mail

With technology advancing each day many wonder what future production will look like. Could a production line combine labour and capital? Will companies be able to cope with the high costs of machinery? There are no concrete answers for these questions, simply because they differ from firm to firm. Looking through the examples of BMW and Royal Mail you shall be the judge and decide.

With technology and automation introduced production is faster than ever. It takes just about 4 minutes for a new BMW car to emerge out of the production line in the Dingolfing plant in Germany. The company has been extremely successful and can thus afford to employ top of the range machinery and robots. The production line is highly automated, starting with heavy presses followed by flexible robots in the assembly section and spray painting. Automation not only makes the entire production faster, but also makes it safer as it would be extremely dangerous for a worker to be doing jobs involving sharp materials.

In the BMW plant there are workers though. In fact, the assembly of the inside components is rather dominated by workers instead of machinery. The staff works in a very decent working environment and enjoys job rotation and team work, which help provide variety and reduce dissatisfaction. Labour and capital work harmonically together to produce.  The company also provides a very efficient bus system, allowing workers from more than 100 villages around the plant to work there whilst still living at their home.

However this is not always the case. Royal Mail has recently decided upon a series of modernization actions, ranging from machines that read handwriting to sorting ones and others that put mail in the right sequence. The company claims that these new advancements were necessary in order to improve its efficiency and reduce its costs allowing it to remain competitive in the market. Already a year after implementing these changes the company’s revenue rose by 1%. While the company promises better quality service and lower prices due to their efficiency, more than 3000 jobs have disappeared according to Telegraph. The newspaper claims that the costs of the firm had already declined by 1% even before considering the job-cut-savings.

So finally is technology a necessary evolution or a bad curse? It is a blessing for saving time, increasing efficiency and decreasing long run costs. In a world that keeps developing no one can deny that technology aids us in everything. However, in many cases human labour in endangered, causing high levels of unemployment, something which is undesirable. If though labour and capital can work together harmonically and can both contribute to production then production could ejoy the best of both worlds.

Driven out with ease, with difficulty accepted

The Syrian refugee crisis is arguably one of the most pressing, yet complex issues of our time. To be put frankly, it is a mess – a burning mess of tangled facts, dates and opinions, which is why it can be hard to pinpoint who and what exactly detonated this humanitarian ‘explosion’ of sorts. However, when faced with a rapidly rising bushfire, it may be best to consider ways of restoring safety, and fussing over the specifics at a time when thousands of lives are not at risk.

Though this extensive topic can be dated back years, a large focus should be placed on proximity in terms of time – the recent and the soon. It is estimated that more than 300,000 Syrian refugees crossed into the European Union in the first half of 2015, with over 100,000 people crossing in July alone. This creates large problems for EU member states: what percentage will be accepted by which nation, pressure on resources, economic repercussions; this list is long to tell. Already the welcoming attitude shown at first by the EU is being second-guessed: Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, who had initially said “My Europe takes in people fleeing from war, my Europe does not build walls,” recently expressed that the government had to reconsider – “The system cannot cope.” Sweden has tightened border control, and Denmark announced it would be imposing similar measures in 2016.

It has been agreed between EU member countries to accept a certain number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria. Wealthier countries may be able to deal with the effects of accepting these political migrants. Germany, for example, has given over £600 million in aid, as of September 2015. Poorer countries, on the other hand, will find allowing refugees through their borders and providing for them a difficult challenge to overcome. It is crucial for nations to have a record of those entering the country so that they can allocate the necessary resources for providing them with relief and protection. This, however, proves a trial in itself, especially in a time of widespread economic recession, and with the problem of illegal migrants being on the rise. Many take advantage of others’ suffering to violate the law and enter a country, which leads to confusion regarding the differences between legal and illegal migrants in the public eyes. The consequence is prejudice-driven violence, with over 200 attacks against migrants being recorded by Germany.

Where does one go from here? This is an issue that will require utmost cooperation between countries if a solution is to be reached. Ideally, host nations would be in a position which allows them to accept and help these refugees, solely on the basis of them being fellow humans in need. Sadly, that is not the case as, in itself, the act of letting people in causes security problems (among others) which cannot be compromised in a time where terrorism is evolving. The future of thousands of lives is being thrust into EU hands; may these hands turn out to be good hands.

Nuclear Weapons

      In 1945 the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastated by the American Nuclear bombing. This resulted in countless deaths and tens of thousands suffering from radiation poisoning, which led to slow and painful deaths. Even those that survived, suffered a future with genetic disorders that deformed generations to come. Decades on, the threat of Nuclear Weapons, their use and stockpiling, continue to be the subject for discussions, debates, arguments, and diplomatic wars among governments, politicians, scientists and ordinary people.

In the last seventy years, apart from the United States, countries such as Russia, France, the United Kingdom Germany and China have developed and built nuclear weapons. These countries, although not all democratic, have stable governments. Since the Soviet-American near nuclear disaster during the Cold War, countries rely on nuclear weapons as a deterrent.  They understand a nuclear war would obliterate all countries involved and can use that threat against each other.

However, in the last twenty years North Korea and Iran developed their own nuclear weapons. With their leaders in constant political conflict, especially North Korea whose leader is an autocrat who answers to no one and is not bound by any treaties, the use of nuclear weapons for deterrence is becoming increasingly hazardous and more common.

Apart from the danger of a nuclear war, there are other dangers associated with the existence of nuclear weapons. The United States carried out all nuclear tests above ground prior to 1962, dispersing a nuclear fallout in the atmosphere. Although tests are now carried out underground and in the oceans, the effects on the environment and the poisoning of the natural habitat of the sea world raise serious concerns. There are dangers from terrorists, as was the case when hijackers threatened to crash a plane into a nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee in 1972. The hijackers’ demands were met and a disaster was avoided. The use of private contractors to provide security at facilities that manufacture these nuclear weapons raises all kinds of dangerous risks, such as accepting bribes to allow access to people with bad intentions.

Disarmament is possibly the best protection against such dangers, but this is very difficult to achieve while there is mistrust and conflict in the world, so this tremendously difficult challenge remains. In practice, if used properly a nuclear bomb could obliterate all life on earth, yet it is a man-made creation which offers us nothing more than a balance of terror. However a balance of terror is still an act of terror. Some say that without nuclear weapons we would be less stable, but does that justify defending such methods of destruction and suffering?

 

 

 

A day in Donald Trump’s America

There is nothing like listening to the tune of “Freedom calls” to start off the day. Dressing for school has never been more fun with the whole family joining in to perfectly execute the accompanying choreography. Parents kiss their children goodbye, reminding them to be well-behaved and keep away from any black people, Mexicans or Muslims, not that any are left; but just in case.  Spouses hand each other their loaded guns and so, another day in President Trump’s “Great America” begins.

All around the deportation forces are keeping watch for any colour other than white because the nation needs protection from the lazy criminals who steal all the jobs. Indeed, nothing spells lazy criminal like a foreigner with a job. Never mind that the crime rate is still as high as it was before as the percentage of residents committing crimes was higher than that of immigrants. Cultural and racial diversity you say? That is so last year. Now we have terrorism to face, these are dark ages we live in. So what if a little torture is used? Waterboarding is the next best thing after the release of gags for mouthy women. So what if most times it does not work because most people in good health can hold their breath for approximately two minutes and we are holding them under water in a cage for fifteen minutes? They deserve it anyway for what they did to the land of the free and home of the brave.

The wall at the southern border has officially become the greatest sight-seeing attraction in the country. Of course the Mexican president was a little bit reluctant to fund such a structure. However, his objections did not stand a chance against President Trump’s diplomacy skills and strong arguments; it was time for Mexico to pay up for not sending its best. Bullying and military threats had definitely nothing to do with Mexico’s hasty agreement.

It does not stop there. Trump has done more than he promised during his campaign days showing great interest in education and bringing about a much-needed change in the area. Teachers are hand-picked by the President himself, all sharing the same views and opinions on all subjects. Hence students can focus on academic excellence rather than waste time on developing individuality. Results have never been better and everyone is very excited about the new class being introduced soon: “Bullying: How to always get what you want.”

The latest development involves the abolishment of environmental laws concerning global warming. The USA refuses to be fooled by this ridiculous concept. American factories are more productive and profitable than ever now that no money is wasted on protecting the environment. Who has the non-competitive manufacture now, China?

Nevertheless there are still a lot of things to be improved, for Obamacare has not been shut down yet. But fear not!  As the song goes, the people will “stand up tall and answer Freedom’s call.”