Health News Coronavirus The World

The Covid-19 vaccine patent divide is yet another example of hinderance from the Global North countries

If there’s any word to describe COVID-19, it’s “unpredictable.”

It’s like a hydra; cut off one head and two more grow back. Every time researchers think they’ve got it figured out, we get new variants each with their own symptoms and varying severity. 

With the multiple vaccines having been created by different countries, there’s a small glimmer of hope for the world to break free from the hold this virus has on us, physically and mentally. 

Research indicates that the vaccines are 90% effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and one dose of a vaccine can halve transmission among people. While it’s easy to be hyper focused on the 10% chance that you could still fall sick, it’s quite literally the best shot at staying safe.

India is currently going through a horrible second wave of COVID-19, where the last recorded tally was 403,405 cases on the 8th of May. Various cities are experiencing a severe shortage of oxygen supplies and hospital beds, showing a harrowing picture of patients collapsing and even dying in the streets with their loved ones are helplessly looking for anything that could save them.

However, despite knowing the extent of what is happening in India and having the means to help, the US has placed a ban on the export of materials that could help Indian pharmaceuticals to create their own supply of vaccines. Denying India’s request to lift the ban, spokesperson Ned Price said that the “needs of the Americans should be looked at first.

So much for celebrating having a vice president with South Asian roots.

Maya Rudolph's Best Kamala Harris Sketches On SNL
[Image Description: a gif of Maya Rudolph playing Kamala Harris sipping on a drink while wearing sunglasses] Source: Buzzfeed
The ban and the US’ refusal to lift it had several people pointing out the disparaging patent divide for COVID-19 vaccine materials among countries all around the world, with particular reference to this map:

How the US can solve the global vaccine shortfall – Progressive Policy Institute
[Image Description: a world map that shows which countries support (coloured yellow), oppose (coloured pink), and are undecided (coloured blue) on the patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccine materials] Source: Progressive Policy Institute
Having the patent would allow the countries’ local drugmakers to manufacture vaccines for themselves, provided they have the materials. As you can see in this map, the countries that oppose the patent waiver are those who are part of the Global North (the richest and most industrialised countries in the world), including the US, Japan, Australia, and Europe. 

The countries that support the patent waiver are mostly countries in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and parts of South America. Countries that are generally part of the Global South (normally known as the Third World countries).

What Is The Global South? - WorldAtlas
[Image Description: a graphic showing the Global North countries as a happy figure standing upright, and the Global South countries as a distressed figure hanging on] Source: World Atlas
Even China, which has developed its own vaccine Sinopharm, stands in support of the patent waver. The country has even stepped in to provide its vaccine rollout to India in its time of need.

Several people took to social media to point out this disparity between the privileged and the under-privileged.

This isn’t the first time the Global South has had to suffer the worst of an ongoing situation; the North has been known to continuously profit off of resources that the South has, while preventing any form of economic development to happen in the latter. In what is known as Dependency, the North keeps the South dependent on its finances and economic prowess while at the same time, keeping them from their own personal development. 

The scales will always be tipped in the North’s favour without ever achieving balance, and has been so long after the South was decolonised.

By obstructing the patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccine materials and banning their export, countries like the US are preventing countries like India from developing their own vaccines that would enable them to break free from their respective waves of the pandemic. 

Big Pharma has stated that they are doing this to prevent China and Russia (US’ global rivals) from exploiting platforms that could be used for other vaccines.

So basically, they’re saying lifting the ban could lead to more lives being saved. Mass recovery would mean the countries would no longer need US’ and other Global North countries’ support to get by. The US wouldn’t want that now, would it.

With the US, Japan, Australia and European countries moving up with their respective vaccine rollouts and gradually easing their lockdown restrictions, India and other countries in the global South are left in turmoil. At this rate, COVID-19 could become another disease that is ravaging Third World countries while the rest stay safe and vaccinated against it.

Disappointed but not surprised to see that hierarchy and profit triumph humanity when it comes to global health.


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Fashion Lookbook

The dark truth behind polyester clothing and why you shouldn’t buy it

Almost all the clothes in your closet are made from polyester, one of the most popular textiles on the market. It’s become one of the go-to clothing fabrics because it’s cheap, durable and light-weight.  However, not many people know about the dark side of the polyester industry. It’s one the most destructive textiles on the planet.

Two British chemists, John Rex Whinfield and James Tennant Dickson, invented polyester in 1941.

I can’t ignore the fact most clothes are made of this versatile fabric and it would be super difficult to stop buying it altogether.  But there are plenty of reasons why polyester should be avoided to the best of your ability.

Polyester is a synthetic, man-made textile that’s usually derived from petroleum. It’s a non-biodegradable material that can be categorized as a plastic. Interestingly, it only rose to popularity in the 1970s when it was marketed as a “miracle fiber” that’s easy to clean and maintain. From this point onwards, polyester clothes were mass-produced like never before.

The mass production of 100% polyester clothing slowed down after consumers realized it’s not a comfortable clothing fabric. All those scratchy, lint-ball covered jerseys in your closet are most likely made of this low-quality material. The fabric isn’t very breathable either. It can leave you feeling sweaty and restricted if you wear it for too long. Ultimately, it’s not advisable for anyone with sensitive skin as it aggravates skin rashes, eczema and redness.

To make matters worse, polyester has had adverse effects on the environment. The production of polyester involves the use of harmful chemicals and carcinogens. As a result, the industry contributes to water and air pollution. If left untreated, it causes irreversible environmental damage. China, India, and other South-East Asian countries manufacture most of the world’s polyester. The environmental policies in these countries are more lenient than other regions of the world. This makes it possible for them to mass produce polyester without any consequences.

It’s virtually impossible to completely avoid polyester. However, you can make smarter choices. The label of a fabric  indicates what materials make up the product. Try to find items made of natural materials like cotton, silk, wool and cashmere. These high-quality materials are often more comfortable to wear and less harmful to the environment.

The US produced more than 1.28 million metric tons of polyester in 2019.

Once you start buying clothes made of natural fabrics , you’ll notice that most of your pieces last much longer. Modern polyesters can replicate the look and feel of real silk and wool, but they’re still blended with low-quality synthetic materials that you should steer clear of buying. However, blended fabrics are a better option than 100% polyesters. Generally, it’s better to buy a blended fabric item if you can’t find anything else.

If you’re an environmental activist and you want clothes to last longer than a year, avoid polyester. It might seem trivial at first, but making small changes like this could be highly beneficial in the long run. Your clothes won’t fade, gather lint-balls and make you feel uncomfortable. 

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Editor's Picks Family Politics Inequality

The key to healthy political conversations with your loved ones these holidays

Let’s be honest. 2020 has been a very politically charged year, characterized by “unprecedented times” and the irreversible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, we’ve had the US elections, Black Lives Matter movements, Brexit, anti-lockdown protests, and plenty of other significant political moments. It’s forced all us to have serious conversations about the future and reflect on our political views with a greater sense of urgency.

On top of all that, the holiday season has finally arrived, and many of us will be going home to problematic aunts, old-school parents, and pessimistic cousins. So we’ve conjured up a list of guidelines to foster healthy political conversations with the people you care about. It’s a list for millennials, Gen Zs, and quite frankly anyone who might have vastly different views from their loved ones.

1. Don’t let your emotions get in the way

[Image description: a frustrated man and woman sitting on a couch and facing away from each other.] via Pexels
[Image description: a frustrated man and woman sitting on a couch and facing away from each other.] via Pexels
Plenty of Thanksgiving dinners have abruptly ended over emotional disputes at the table. As everyone in the family gets older, you’re likely to start having mature conversations about politics and current affairs. These topics are the breeding grounds for heightened emotions and passionate monologues about voting and the state of the economy.

If you feel like you’re on the brink of ruining family ties forever over a tense political debate, we recommend changing the topic or at least agreeing to disagree. It’s honorable to be loud and proud about your beliefs, but it might not be worth it to build tension during the festive season, a time for love, gratitude, and peace.

2. Do your research and stay informed

[image description: woman sitting at a desk browsing on her laptop.] via Pexels
[image description: woman sitting at a desk browsing on her laptop.] via Pexels
The best ammunition for a constructive political debate is coming through with the facts. You don’t have to become a walking encyclopedia, but you can gather some thought-provoking information to back up your claims. I understand that you might be busy with work projects, college finals, or trying to wrap your head around ludicrous 2020. Nevertheless, even the busiest people in the world make time for a quick news catch-up.

3. Social distance and wear your mask (even around family)

[Image description: a woman pressing down the nozzle of a clear hand sanitizer bottle and squeezing the product into another masked woman's hands.] via Pexels
[Image description: a woman pressing down the nozzle of a clear hand sanitizer bottle and squeezing the product into another masked woman’s hands.] via Pexels
If you’re fortunate enough to be around family these holidays, you need to be extra careful. COVID-19 is no joke and the number of global cases is steadily on the rise. On November 24, more than 85,700 people were hospitalized in the US alone. For this reason, anti-mask family members will have to come to their senses before you  can dive into any other political discussions. It’s counter-productive to yell at great-aunt Bertha for not wearing a mask, but the least you could do is ask her to wear one out of respect for you and your desire to stay safe. If all else fails, boost your social distancing radius from 6 feet to 12 feet ASAP! And if you have the means to leave, it’s something to consider.

4. Listen to what people have to say

[Image description: a group of 4 people sitting by a fire outside during the night and having a conversation.] via Pexels
[Image description: a group of 4 people sitting by a fire outside during the night and having a conversation.] via Pexels
It’s easy to get caught up in a heaty discussion and talk over someone who is trying to share their views, especially when utter nonsense is coming out of their mouth. The general rule-of-thumb is to patiently wait for them to make their point and ask to speak afterwards.

“We have to listen to understand in the same way we want to be understood.” – Dr. Brené Brown

Remember that you’re talking to your loved ones, and there’s no need to act like Judge Judy. Rather, use these conversations as a learning opportunity. Try to understand where people are coming from and find common ground. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to hash things out when both parties are willing to listen.

5. Stand by your political views and engage with people who are willing to learn

[Image description: a man with an afro, wearing a black t-shirt and holding up one of his fists in the air.] via Pexels
[Image description: a man with an afro, wearing a black t-shirt and holding up one of his fists in the air.] via Pexels
If you truly believe in something, your loved ones should be willing to engage and learn. Don’t be afraid to stand by your political views and be proud of who you are, even if you’re one of the younger and more vulnerable members of your family. Sometimes it can be difficult when it feels like everyone is against you. However, you have to remember you’re part of something greater than yourself.

6. Take time out for self-reflection

[Image description: a smiling woman staring at her reflection in the mirror while laying on the floor with her hands on her chin.] via Pexels
[Image description: a smiling woman staring at her reflection in the mirror while laying on the floor with her hands on her chin.] via Pexels
Political conversations are much more valuable when you use them as a springboard for self-reflection. Think about what you’ve learned through political conversations with loved ones and how you can make a positive difference. Being aware of their opinions and perspectives can give you valuable insight into who they are and the kind of relationships you hope to have with them in the future. Self-reflection is key.

Above all else, happy holidays! I hope you can use this time to get closer to your family and learn more about their interesting perspectives. Although 2020 has been one of the most outlandish years in recorded history, it has given us the gift of political consciousness. I urge you to be kind, patient and accepting, regardless of your political stance.

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Fashion Lookbook

Diet Prada: the fashion watchdogs that changed how I view the industry

In the age of social media, influencers and ever-changing fashion trends, clothing brands are constantly trying to stay relevant. They often resort to copying talented indie designers and high-end fashion brands. And they usually do this without considering the implications. Diet Prada is here to call them out while emphasizing that fashion is more than just items of clothing, it’s art. You can’t steal people’s art.

Diet Prada started out in 2014 as an anonymous Instagram account that called out fast fashion brands for constantly copying high-end designers and indie artists. Their witty and informative posts peaked the interest of fashion enthusiasts across the world. It was later revealed that two fashion industry professionals, Tommy Liu and Lindsay Schuyler, are behind the whole thing.


As of October 2020, Diet Prada’s Instagram account has over 2.2 million followers and there’s no sign of things slowing down.

They’ve evolved into a full-fledged fashion watchdog group ready to call out the copycats. They also speak on various issues surrounding the industry.

Major clothing brands can steal designs with ease because fashion is not fully protected under US copyright law. It’s still considered a manufacturing industry rather than a creative one. For this reason, there’s a lack of legal protection for designers and it enables the mass production of knockoffs and replicas.In an interview with Fast Company, Diet Prada co-founder, Tony Liu, shared that, “young creatives don’t have the resources to battle in court.” This is one the many reasons why Diet Prada is committed to shaming popular clothing brands that don’t respect the artistry behind fashion design. In the same interview, co-founder Lindsay Schuyler, urged us to start viewing fashion designs as intellectual property.

One of the most iconic Diet Prada moments was when they called out Fashion Nova for copying countless designer outfits worn by the Kardashian sisters. Kim Kardashian was photographed wearing a vintage 1998 Thierry Mugler cut-out dress for the 5th Annual Hollywood Beauty Awards. Fashion Nova released an exact replica within 24 hours and it retailed for only $50. Diet Prada found this suspicious for several reasons and they did not hesitate to call out both parties. Firstly, Fashion Nova’s copycat tendencies were getting out of hand. Secondly, they thought Kim Kardashian might be in on it. How on earth did Fashion Nova manage to release a knockoff Mugler dress in only 24 hours?

In the past, I rarely ever thought of who designed the the clothes that I own and whether they received adequate recognition. Since I started following Diet Prada in 2018, I can say I’ve become more fashion conscious. As a writer, I can only imagine how frustrating it would be if someone was constantly copying my work. This is the plight of so many fashion designers.

Nevertheless, Diet Prada has evolved into more than just a fashion watchdog group. If you look at their recent Instagram posts, you’ll notice that they use their platform to raise awareness about social issues like sexism, racism, and environmental concerns. They also dive deep into the detrimental effects of the fast fashion industry and strive to provide reliable fashion news. I’ve witnessed first-hand how their content is taking the fashion industry by storm.


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World News Latin America Dedicated Feature The World

Protests erupt in Colombia against police brutality and violence

TW: Descriptions and mentions of police brutality.

Protests broke out in Colombia on Wednesday September 9, after a video emerged of the arrest of Javier Ordóñez in Engativ, the west side of the country capital of Bogota.

Javier’s long time friend Juan David Uribe was with Javier when they both got stopped by police officers. Juan was able to record a video that went viral on twitter and Facebook. The video depicts Javier pinned to the ground by two police officers in a residential street.  One of the officers repeatedly uses his taser on Javier. Javier can be heard saying “Please no more”. However the officers continue to keep him pinned down.

After his arrest, Javier was taken to a nearby police station. According to his family Javier was then beaten inside custody.  Juan says when he arrived at the station, his friend was practically unconscious. In an interview with Semana, Juan describes how he carried his friend to the nearby hospital, where he died .

Javier’s autospy revealed that the official cause of his death  was multiple blows with a blunt weapon, at the height of the head and shoulders.

Javier, 43, father of two, and soon to be attorney, was socializing with friends the night he was arrested. His friends describe how they ran out of alcohol when they went outside to buy more. According to Juan, when they were going back to Javier’s apartment, they were stopped by the police, and were arrested. Witnesses said they were detained because they were violating quarantine restrictions.  Juan stated that while they were being detained one of the police officers said, “From this one he is not safe,” referring to Javier.

According to several reports, Javier has had an old quarrel with these exact police officers, which would explain why he was targeted by them.

Following his death, Colombia has erupted in protests. The protest initiated in Bogota, and other cities like Medellin, Barranquilla, and Cartagena joined the manifestation. At least eleven people have died in the protests, mostly young people who were shot, and hundreds more injured by city police, who are also known as Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squad (ESMAD). The Collective of José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers related in a document – “The Colombian Police over the past few days, have committed serious acts of excessive use of force, and abuse of power, towards the rights to life, and personal integrity of Colombian citizens.”

On Thursday September 10, the Colombian Police reported to the public that the two agents who killed Javier Ordóñez were removed from the police force. In addition, this opened a formal investigation which would result in a hearing. The following day The Colombian Defense Minister, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, apologized for the acts against the law committed by the police. In Colombia, an apology from a Defense Minister regarding police violence is not common. However, this apology did not end the high police mobility within the capital.  The President of Colombia also gave his words regarding the protest, however it did not sit well for Colombians.

President Ivan Duque represents the Central Democratic Party, one of Colombia’s conservative political parties. According to New York Times, Duque condemned the killings, but defended the police in a speech, calling the country’s security forces generally “heroic” and “hard-working.”

However Claudia López Hernández, the mayor of Bogota, called for immediate attention and action. In a video addressing the public, she burst into tears as she paid respect to the fallen victims of police violence. In the same video, López Hernández condemned the excessive use of force and power, and called for a reform in the institution. According to her, the country needs justice, action, and reform now.

Since the Duque presidency, there have been so many unsolved issues in Colombia. The government has neglected to implement the peace agreement with Revolutionary armed forces of Colombia (FARC) – this peace agreement was originally signed in 2016 under former President Juan Manuel Santos, to end a 50 year armed conflict in Colombia. The Peace accords allowed for the state to fulfill promises such as addressing rural poverty, justice to the conflict’s main actors, the disarming of insurgents, and reforming the war on drugs. Duque pledged to implement parts of the peace deal, but his administration has failed to make any substantial changes. Duque’s handling of the peace accords, and the corruption in his government have only sparked discontent.

Prior the to the murder of Javier, Colombians took to the streets in 2019 to protest against police brutality, corruption, and inequality.

Over the course of two years, about 595 social leaders have been murdered, and in 2020 alone, there have been more than 200 deaths, according to the finding of the Institute of Studies of Development and Peace (INDEPAZ). However the government has not taken a direct approach in addressing the violence. This has allowed for criminal groups to consolidate their power, and has repressed the local populations, especially in the rural areas of the country. The government has promised a national conversation to address the on-going issues, however Colombians are still waiting.

Last year it was 17 year old Dilan Cruz. This year it is Javier. The list keeps growing. Many international observers have deemed the civil unrest a “George Floyd moment.” For Colombians, this is about the government’s failure to understand the frustration of both the urban, and rural citizens, and the violent nature of their police force.

While the government struggles to correct its mistakes, we are going to see more waves of social unrest.

Politics The World

Media censorship casts a huge shadow on the future of our democracy

It’s been six days since the government of Kenya blocked three major TV channels in the country, disabling the broadcast of the informal “inauguration” of opposition leader Raila Odinga. Four days since the court ordered the channels to resume broadcasting. Yet the four channels still remain blocked, and if this isn’t a media blackout, I don’t know what else would be.

Odinga, who claims that the recent elections were rigged, swore in as the “people’s president” at Uhuru Park, Nairobi. The inauguration happened on the 30th of January 2018, and the present government consequently shut down KTN, NTV and Citizen Stations, so that the self-declared ceremony would not be covered by the media channels.

While the interesting situation of Kenya’s politics is a story for another day, the most outrageous thing about this scenario is how the government went so far as to shut down the media channels, resulting in them controlling the dissemination of information to the public.

That brings us to the central question: to what extent can the government control the country’s media?

The range of freedom each country’s media has differed from land to land, and there are some citizens who can brazenly criticize their leaders with no consequences, whereas in some places, it’s an offense. I live in Sri Lanka, where even political cartoons aren’t really tolerated, and news of politicians breaking journalists’ cameras or destroying stations are not uncommon. It amuses me every time I see Americans openly mock their president, as it’s simply not done in countries like mine.

It seems as if I like to use my neighboring country as an example for everything, but India really has one of the most twisted censorship boards I’ve ever heard of. The government decides to not only control media channels which might broadcast content that undermines their authority, they don’t tolerate movies and TV shows with even a mention of any concept the government doesn’t agree with. Forbes says that the Indian government cripples its own film industry, and it isn’t an exaggeration. The government bans or severely controls any movie that tries to promote revolutionary thinking, challenges the norms or questions the authority. No political overtones in your content, and absolutely no satires or spoofs.

In countries like China, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea, being a journalist is a nightmare. Not only are the laws extremely strict, media people are constantly looking over their shoulder in fear. The authoritarian approach of these countries is just scary, and they extend to social media as well.

Social media blackouts are another extreme, as it undermines the freedom of every single person in the country, and in 2016, some African countries became examples of this phenomenon. These incidents gave birth to a campaign called #keepiton that heavily criticizes internet shutdowns, calling them a violation of human rights.

The right to information and freedom of speech are two fundamental rights of any citizen, and governments repeatedly ignore them when they decide to apply their influence and control over media of any form. Yes, there are times when governments provide justification, especially during sensitive periods such as war or elections, where information could be leaked, minds can be altered and influenced, and the public can be misled. However, censorship shouldn’t be an excuse to keep the public in ignorance or control their views from being expressed.

The debate also stretches to surveillance and monitoring, and though Twitter loves to joke about the FBI webcam surveillance (honestly, check out these tweets, they are hilarious ), the whole concept of the FBI setting up a task force to monitor social media is actually a serious matter. Where’s the freedom of expression? And does being the government means you get a free pass on invading the privacy of your people?

With the current discussion of net neutrality, it really seems as if we have gone back decades in time instead of moving forward. My mother used to joke that when she was dating my father, who worked abroad at that time, there was always a third party listening to their phone conversations as the country had heavy monitoring and regulations for international communications. My mother claims that it was as if her desi parents had set up a chaperone for her.

But it wouldn’t be exactly as amusing today, when such controls are imposed by the government on media in the current era of media culture. The censorship of media – whether it be news channels, movies and TV shows or social media – is a sensitive matter, and an extreme government influence can undermine the basics of democracy, and we’ll be leading way for exploitation under the guise of censorship.

Politics The World

We easily welcome celebrities into politics, but do they actually make good politicians?

The 2018 Golden Globes left behind a lot of feelings in viewers, but probably one of the most famous sentiments was the popular plea of twitter users – Oprah for President. Oprah’s speech at the Globes was amazing, inspiring and unforgettable, but was it powerful enough that it qualifies her to become the president of a country whose politics more or less influences the entire world?

To be honest, I have a feeling that right now Americans are desperate for any alternative than their current president. But having said that, after seeing exactly what happens when a popular face from the entertainment industry with no experience in politics whatsoever becomes a leader of a country, haven’t we learned the consequences?

Celebrities becoming politicians is not a recent concept. For years, in different governments and countries, film and TV personalities have joined politics, have led people and have become presidents. There has been stories of success, of failure, of revolution and of nightmares. As I believe that answers for every question lies in history, maybe it’s time to look at how celebrities have shaped politics in different eras and in different countries, to answer the ultimate question – do celebrities make good politicians?

USA itself has had its share of celebrity turned politicians in its history. The current glaring example aside, there’s been a Ronald Reagan and an Arnold Schwarzenegger. But to me, the most apt country for this discussion would be India, a place where for decades, the film industry and politics have been inexplicably intertwined.

There’s this common joke around fans of Indian movies that the next step to any successful movie star is to become a politician. It’s like once a Bollywood star becomes old enough and feels as if it’s time they take a step back from acting, it’s also time to step into the vocation that optimizes their star power and earns them money and fame. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Amitabh Bachchan, an acting powerhouse who is undeniably one of the most popular household names of Bollywood, failed miserably at being a politician that he returned back to acting in a short while. However, Smriti Irani, an actress who dominated Indian TV in the 2000’s as the ideal daughter in law, is the current Textiles and Information and Broadcasting minister of India.

The South of India and its politics should be a case study of its own. Tamil Nadu, as the region is called, has been dominated by two parties for over five decades, the DMK and ADMK respectively. The faces of both these parties have been film personalities. DMK was led by a screenwriter, and the latter by a renowned actor who was the epitome of fan favorite. When he died, he was promptly replaced by a fellow actress, and since 1969 to 2016, the chief minister position of this region has only been held by either of the three celebrities.

Another interesting fact is that finally in 2017, the reign of the two celebrities ended. One of them passed away, and the other is pushing 93. You would expect a next generation of fresh, young and influential politicians entering the race. Instead, two extremely popular actors in their 50’s and 60’s respectively with a huge fan base for each of them announced that they’ll be joining politics, kicking off the same pattern all over again.

Celebrities are an instant hit as politicians because of their previous popularity. They’re recognizable, their market value is high and they have already built the connection with their audience, which politicians thrive to build with numerous campaigns. Especially in a country like India, where film stars are worshiped as Gods – I am not exaggerating, fans pour milk over their favorite actors’ cut outs, which is a Hindu ritual done to the statues of their Gods and Goddesses – there’s no problem whatsoever for celebrities to garner votes. People love them, they have an audience and a presence, and throughout this whole process the lines between the entertainment industry and politics blur, to the point where people don’t know whether they’re voting for the actor, the characters they’ve played, the person or the politician.

Most of the time, the problems emerge afterwards. Celebrities can easily get the position of a leader, but it isn’t always easy to become the leader in every sense it counts. Whether they are actually a good politician or not is ultimately not based off on their fame. Perfect example for this would be the former president of Philippines, Joseph Estrada. The successful film star, and audience favorite was a mayor, a senator, a vice president and ultimately the president in 1998, only to become the first ever Filipino president to be impeached. He also said that the presidency was his “greatest role of his life.”

I am not trying to profess that celebrities are not fit to become politicians. What I am trying to say is being a celebrity shouldn’t be a qualifying reason for one to be a leader. Politics is ultimately about leading a country, and its people, and just the ability to satisfy said people’s interests is not going to be enough. Saying the right things or rather the things that people want to hear is easy when one has fame, privilege, money and the assurance that you will be supported, but to what extent can we expect that it will be actually implemented if they are given the chance to do so?


Senior News & Society Editor Asma Elgamal launches Policy channel to face the new political era

2016 was a tough year. In looking at the global political landscape, 2016 presented us with events like Brexit and the Trump administration, propelling hate groups into mainstream platforms and frankly terrifying the hell out of some of us.

[bctt tweet=”In times like these, the most powerful thing we can do is equip ourselves with knowledge.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Social activism hit a new high, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat – all became tools to resist and to make our voices heard. But even that sometimes, isn’t enough. As horrific as it is, a lot of the awful things that have been happening are completely legal. It’s like Hydra has infiltrated the highest levels and we are playing a very tricky game of dismantling policies while pretending that evil isn’t currently reigning over us.

“In times like these, the most powerful thing we can do is equip ourselves with knowledge,” Elgamal noted.

Like most things governmental, policies are shrouded in technical language, used to make things complex and drawn out. Some policies and legislation are incredibly long and honestly, that kind of information is not appealing to read. Although it’s super important to know what laws govern us, who really has the time to go through all these new documents to ascertain what is going on?

It’s hard to speak out against something that we don’t really understand.

So to help us deal with the aftermath, Asma Elgamal, our Senior News & Society Editor at The Tempest decided to approach things in a different way, launching the Policy channel at The Tempest.

Elgamal said, “The sole purpose of this vertical is to target and help decipher laws and policies so that everyone knows exactly what is going on. The aim of this is so that it is easier to understand which policies affect you and what they set out to do. In turn, preparing us for doing whatever is necessary to combat these policies.” Read more about The Tempest’s Policy vertical here.

Politics The World

Five years later, here’s what Egypt’s revolution means for us

Egypt, the most populous country of the Arab world, erupted in mass protests on January 25, 2011 as a result of injustice and long-suppressed anger towards President Hosni Mubarak. 50,000 Egyptian people showed up in Tahrir Square on that day, armed with their powerful voices and picket posters.

They all had a common goal- to start a government reform. It was a grassroots movement that quickly escalated to new heights, inextricably fueled by Twitter and Facebook.

After 18 consecutive days of peaceful (yet powerful) protests, Hosni Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011. 30 years of autocratic rule had finally been ended.

It was a monumental day for Egyptians and the world alike.

TOPSHOTS Egyptians set off fireworks in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as they celebrate the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mohamed Morsi, in Egypt's presidential elections on June 24, 2012. Tens of thousands packed into Tahrir Square in the largest celebration the protest hub has witnessed since Hosni Mubarak's ouster, to celebrate their new president-elect, Morsi. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/GettyImages
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Flash-forward 5 years: Egypt has barely made any progress.

The government has once again oppressed its people. The people’s voices have been silenced, choked. Current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi leads a country where protests are squandered and thousands are wrongfully imprisoned. There are purposeful disappearances and torture in prisons.

Human rights violations are the new norm, and the country has taken hundreds of steps backwards.

As an Egyptian-American myself, the anniversary of the revolution truly hits a vein. I remember when 2011 brought the first tweets and Facebook posts crying, “revolution!” I was in middle school, and it brought out a new kind of pride in me.

I am an individual with a foot in two very different worlds. Reconciling two cultures is something that I have had to do my entire life, and as such, forming an identity for myself has been difficult in recent years. But as I watched the revolution unfold before my eyes five years ago, I felt a surge of kinship. Those were my people. 

Once again, the world took to Twitter under the hashtag #Jan25 to weigh in on Egypt’s past, present, and future.

Some also mocked the current state of the government with sharp, biting criticism:

Others paid homage to Egypt’s citizens and the remains of revolutions past:

An oppressed people will not remain oppressed. As The Guardian best put it: the memory of the Egyptian revolution is the only weapon we have left.

May it never go to waste.