National News Explained

Sheila Gregory, Co-Editor


This summer recorded the largest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus since its discovery in the 1970s. The virus doesn’t show symptoms until two or three weeks after contraction, which increases chances of unintentional transmission. Thankfully for health workers, the virus can only be transferred through bodily fluids. However, there have been certain cases among animals which may indicate an airborne strain, seeing as two animals in separate cages with no contact transmitted the disease to one another. There is also no known cure, and the one experimental drug, which had a positive effect on the two Americans who were being treated at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), ran out due to limited resources.

Why is this a big deal? Ebola is the one of the most deadly diseases, killing the majority of those who contract it. It is spreading rapidly throughout African countries with the highest reports in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. Recently, the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen two cases as of Sept. 16, confirming health workers’ fears that it is spreading far beyond the West African region. Many of the top doctors and health physicians working for the World Health Organization (WHO) have been exposed to Ebola and fallen victim to the deadly virus. The poor conditions and unsophisticated medical equipment make treating large numbers of patients difficult. Also, if a person dies from Ebola, the body is highly contagious, causing problems concerning disposal in rural African villages. More than 5,300 people have Ebola and, with over 2,600 deaths as of Sept. 18, the governments of Liberia, Nigeria and Guinea have declared a state of emergency. Senegal has closed its borders to any ships or aircrafts originating from those three countries. All African airlines are on high alert to symptoms, and the WHO is using all resources to stop the deadly virus. On Monday, Sept. 15, President Barack Obama visited the CDC to discuss aid strategies and potential military support for countries combating Ebola. This plan includes the construction of treatment centers, 400,000 kits to at-risk households and up to 500 trained health physicians being sent into areas of infection. With this increased aid, officials hope other developed countries will do their part in this deadly fight.


The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or, as some know it, The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have made themselves known to the United States as a threat even more violent and powerful than Al Qaeda. On Tuesday, Aug. 19, American freelance journalist James Foley was decapitated by a member of this extremist group in a viral video that has been declared authentic by the U.S. Department of Defense. Foley appeared to be coerced into denouncing the U.S. government’s airstrikes in his last moments. Later, the black-clad executioner directed a statement to President Barack Obama, threatening to harm the other American hostage Steven Sotloff if the president did not stop attacks on ISIS. Those threats turned to reality when Sotloff was murdered 14 days later by the same extremist as Foley. The executions by this group have formed a pattern with a hostage being murdered and a new victim being threatened on video once every two weeks.

Why is this a big deal? The group has numbers higher than Al Qaeda ever did, reaching more than 10,000. While their extremist values are not in favor of the United States, there have been reports of U.S. citizens pledging themselves to ISIS. This creates a dangerous situation for America since those with malevolent intents toward the United States have legal passports and do not raise much scrutiny. There have been many avenues of thought on how to deal with this situation. As of Sept. 17, the U.S. government has launched airstrikes in Syria, brought in more than 400 military advisers and started training Syrian rebels. Even though officials say an actual attack from ISIS is fairly low, they have shown us we should not take their threats lightly.