Christ, it's weeks like this that make you despair. I don't even know where to start unpicking all the ways that w/c 25th April has been a disappointment.
Do I start with the continued display of absolute insanity that is the US Elections? It seems at this point ole Bernie is out, and Hillary will be taking the Democratic nomination. I'm not too worried, despite Sanders' ability to capture the enthusiasm of people on social media, Hillary isn't necessary a bad candidate. Or maybe that's because Donald Trump is now almost certainly going to be her Republican counterpart. There were five State primaries this week, and he won every single one of them. At the time of writing he is 428 delegates ahead of the equally crazy Ted Cruz. Trump has stated that he will tone down his rhetoric this week, suggesting it was all a facade, which is good in one sense, as he was truly a despicable human to watch, but in another way, terrifying. Large swarms of the public found this facade, this watered-down fascist so appealing that they have actually paved the way for his elevation to official Republican candidate. America, sort yourselves out.
But, the travesty does not stop there.
Let's swing our heavy, tear filled eyes back over the Atlantic to Britain, and question how we can say with a straight face that it is 'Great'.
What is Great about our Government deciding to not accept 3,000 refugee children stranded in Europe, despite all the reports of disappearances, prostitution and sexual exploitation. How Great are we to be so defensive of our borders, so dogmatic in our foreign policy, and so lacking in compassion that we wash our hands of responsibility, and hope that £10m in aid will absolve us of guilt. This Government decision is so unappealing that even its own backbenchers are making impassioned pleas for reconsideration. I never believed I would find myself writing a letter of support to a Conservative MP, but after watching Stephen Phillips make a speech as to why he voted against his Government, I felt compelled to do so. The fact there was a vote at all is just inexcusable.
What is Great about having your Home Secretary say that Britain should pull out of the European Convention of Human Rights, a binding resolution that protects us from abuse? This is a woman who despite calls from Internet providers, tech companies and the public, is pushing ahead with a hugely invasive Snooper Charter. A woman who wrongly deported 48,000 overseas students because of a few schools were found to be fraudulently running English Tests. Does she not understand why the public may actually want to keep some legal protection for basics such as privacy, a fair trial, not being tortured or discriminated against? Very telling.
What is Great about it taking 27 years to get the truth over what happened at Hillsborough? I am so glad that the families of those lost have finally got justice, but that doesn't excuse the 27 years of victim blaming, outright denial, and abuse received by institutions such as The Sun, and indeed within Thatcher's office.
What is Great about having to watch as our National Health Service is treated to a bit of the Tory coal miner love? These medical professionals think the new contracts are bad, and are going to further strain an already overworked NHS to the point of breaking. Mr Hunt, the man who wrote a book on breaking up the NHS, believes in homeopathy, and whose prior work experience is in PR, and a failed attempt to export marmalade, says otherwise. Thus we see the first all out strike of the NHS since its inception IN 1948.
And are the opposition doing anything to hold the flustercuck Government to account? No, because they are too busy arguing with each other, and dragging the party over hot coals in the press over who can be more anti-Semitic. As a writer, there are few things I don't go near, and religion tends to be one of them. I will however put my neck out and say I think that this whole situation is being overplayed, and is simply a continuation of the smear campaign being run against Corbyn. His mistakes have been glaring in the handling of all this, and God knows who thought sending Livingstone out would be a good idea, but being anti-Israeli is not the same as being anti-Semitic. In my opinion at least. I think this article by Sam Kriss on Vice better articulates my views on the matter.
All in all, pretty dire. One of those weeks that make you consider why we bother trying. How can people counteract all the evil things that those who are meant to represent and protect us get away with? It makes your heart physically hurt to know that this country is readying to tear itself apart, over the movement of people who share the same air as us, or just seek the same opportunities in life as us. Great Britain shouldn't and wouldn't tolerate this scaremongering, this division of 'us' and 'them', and the systematic dismantling of every institution that secures the protection and well-being of its citizens. What IS Great about Great Britain? *sigh*
Same time next week?
Hillsborough inquiry finds Liverpool fans innocent - Police blamed for 96 deaths
On Tuesday, a landmark was reached in the longest legal inquiry in British history. It was found that fans who attended the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, Sheffield in 1989 were not to be blamed for the deaths of 96. For years the Hillsborough inquiry sought to find an answer to whether they, or the Police were to blame. On that fateful day, one Liverpool stand became so overcrowded that 96 people were crushed to death. The Police, including the then Chief Superintendent who was in charge of the match, were accused of lying about the LFC fans' culpability in the riot, and hiding facts and testimonies that would've brought these people to justice. The jury found that the people were 'killed unlawfully'. They found that entry into the stand was chaos and so Police ordered a large side gate open, allowing the unauthorised entry of hundreds of fans through it, causing the crush. A barrier was broken and people still entered. This decision was denied by Police.
Source: The Guardian
The fifth junior doctors' strike - first 'all-out' strike on all health care ever
Junior doctors are striking against the imposition of new job contracts which would, ultimately, see them working more hours for less pay. The Government via Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has refused to negotiate on the contract in order to create a '7-day NHS'. Protests have been happening since January, so why is this one still such big news? This is the first time that junior doctors, represented by their Union, the British Medical Association, have gone on what is called an 'all-out' strike. This means that, while previously, the doctors have striked their services except for life-and-death and emergency cover, today, they offer no health care whatsoever. This is the only such strike held by any group of the NHS in its history. They have stepped up their efforts, relinquishing their professional ethics to persuade Hunt that they cannot be bullied into a new contract with which they, vehemently, do not agree. Hunt has said that no Union has a right to veto a manifesto promise.
Beyonce releases 'visual album', Lemonade
The album was broadcast alongside an hour-long film on American network HBO. Later, it was made available to stream on Jay-Z's streaming service, Tidal. Soon after that it was officially released on iTunes. It is been heralded as Bey's most important album for dabbling in the themes of the treatment of Black people, feminism, and infidelity. The strength of the infidelity element has led to people believing that Jay-Z has cheated on Beyonce and that this is an attempt to come out of that fighting. It attempts to empower women to be ferocious rather than be victims. The accompanying film is a striking one with a visual poetry which punctuates as heavily as the songs themselves which are written to be forthcoming and direct. Collaborations are with Jack White, The Weeknd, James Blake, and Kendrick Lamar. On the song Freedom and its video with Lamar, there are visceral references to the plight of Police brutality against Black people. Lamar himself is a musician whose music plays on the politics of social justice for Black people. Sam Wolfson, Executive Editor at VICE UK, has said that it, musically, 'isn't a perfect album' but 'you can't imagine how much it means to people' to have these issues put forward alongside her most personal issues by the biggest artist in the world.
Museums to face ethics investigation because of their sponsorship by BP
A few weeks back we reported that there was significant celebrity pressure for the British Museum to drop BP as a sponsor. Now it seems that the Museum Association is investigating claims that many museums, including the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum. Documents that were given to the Guardian appear to suggest that the museums were acquiescing to the wants and demands of BP. The Museum Association will investigate whether or not the code of ethics has been breached in the museum's conduct with the sponsor. The Art not Oil alliance of campaign groups have argued that BP has had a significant role in decisions over curation, security and using museums to further their own interest.
Image credits: Niklas Halle'N/AFP/Getty Images - taken from The Guardian.
Louis Theroux's latest 'heart breaking' documentary airs on BBC Two
'Drinking to Oblivion' was trending on Twitter a day after it aired and was lauded for being another classically hard-hitting and thought-provoking doco about a subject we get little chance to delve into by Louis Theroux. It followed a number of alcoholics; the ones who made the biggest impact were Joe and Aurelie. Joe's story followed the arc of wanting to stop drinking, detoxing, doing well, and all of a sudden falling back off a wagon. We see him at his lowest when he's admitted back to A&E in a bloodied state and leaves the ward to get another drink. Aurelie's story follows the arguably more tragic arc of having come to terms with the difficulty and depravity that drinking brings her and choosing not to do anything about it. What's important, as with any Theroux-led documentary, is that their stories are far from one-dimensional and you'll have watched it loving and hating each specimen and with a new level of awareness about the subject he tackles.
Source: Radio Times
Emma and Sophie Thompson almost sprayed with manure whilst protesting fracking
Not your predictable headline here. The famed sister act that is Emma and Sophie Thompson were protesting on a Lancashire film which is to be the site for fracking by energy company, Cuadrilla. Their protest took the form of a Greenpeace-backed satirical bake off which they titled 'The Frack Free Bake Off'. There were printed aprons and everything. They baked cakes because they wanted the Government to reconsider fracking plans and "What better way to do that, here in Britain, than hold a Bake Off?" About the manure, though; the farmer on whose land the actors staged their elaborate protest was angered that the stunt interrupted an entire day's work for him. Stubbornness on both sides led the farmer to proceed mucking his land around the area the protest occupied. Cuadrilla were not happy about it, but the Thompsons had the support of local businesses.
Disneyland coming to the UK
To all the Disney fans out there - have you ever been to Disneyland Paris or Disney World thinking "Why on earth is there not one in England?" whilst boarding an expensive plane to America or expensively crossing the English Channel whilst (partly) absorbing a French dictionary? Well, your prayers and dreams are about to come true! Children and obsessed young adults will squeal in glee as plans have been announced for a Disneyland-inspired resorts park to be built near Kent. Apparently it will be inspired by Paramount Studios, the guys behind films like Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep, which may rival Disneyland Paris if successful enough after it's launch in 2021. It is expected to cost £2bn to build, and could bring in 50,000 tourists a day.
Madam, please calm yourself.
Source: Western Daily Press
Image credit: Disneyland Gif on Tumblr
Sundance Film Festival launches its programme for London 2016
After a year of absence, the Sundance film festival comes back to London this June. Picturehouse Central will host the festival from the 2nd to to the 5th of June. The programme includes feature films, short film collections, panels and masterclasses. The Sundance is worldwide known to bring to the attention of the international audience new promising voices within the independent film industry. So watch out for new talents this year! The full programme is available at the Picturehouse's blog.
Source: Evening Standard
Image credit: Jill Orschel/Sundance Press Centre
Alicia Vikander is the new Tomb Raider
After many rumours it appears the new Lara Croft has been found, and it is Alicia Vikander, who this year won an Oscar for best supporting actress. MGM and GK Films are producing the project, which will be the first film adaptation of Croft since the last Angelina Jolie film way back in 2003. Since then though there have been Tomb Raider games released, most recently Rise of the Tomb Raider, which came out in 2015 by Square Enix as an Xbox One exclusive. The new film is expected towards the end of 2017.
Watch Patrick Stewart attack the European Convention on Human Rights
As mentioned, Theresa May suggested we would be better off without the ECHR. Maybe she's right. Who really needs intrinsic rights. Wimps! That's who. Patrick Stewart takes asks the important question of 'What has the ECHR ever done for us?' Bit of a trope, but brilliant.
Bhavesh, Luke and Elena contributed to this report
Header image by Philip Cohen