Weekly Roundup: Us, New Zealand’s Weapons Ban and Emilia Clarke’s Big Reveal

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern praised as New Zealand bans all military style weapons

Opinion pieces praising Jacinda Ardern’s leadership as exemplary have cropped up a plenty in the last week. Her response in the wake of the Christchurch shooting has been remarkably human, emotional and steadfast. When President Trump asked her what he might offer to help, Ardern responded: “Sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.” Ardern has said that she expects new legislation banning all types of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles to be in place by 11th April. While her response to the tragedy has certainly been refreshing and even inspiring, the (largely American, Democrat, pro-gun control) conflation of ‘good’ leadership with Ardern’s quick sweep to ban rifles is arguably misplaced, considering the very different political and legal structures in New Zealand and the US. – Antonio

Emilia Clarke reveals Double Aneurysm

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke admitted to a dramatic and hitherto unknown health struggle on Thursday. In a feature for the New Yorker, she explains how she has suffered two aneurysms early on during her Game of Thrones career. She talks candidly of repeated operations, the struggle to regain her faculties, and the pressures ill health placed on her public persona as her career continued to gain momentum. The reasons for writing the article are not explicitly stated, but it seems that Clarke wants to address previous denial about her health-struggles while drawing attention to the charity she’s developed, called SameYou, which aims to provide treatment for those suffering from strokes or other brain injuries. – Dan

National Portrait Gallery and Tate take action on Sackler family donations 

The Sackler family’s practice of art-washing their wealth and business seems to be drawing to an end. The Tate group of British galleries announced this week that it will no longer accept any donations offered by members of the Sackler family, while the National Portrait Gallery rejected a £1m gift. Several members of the Sackler family are currently embroiled in lawsuits surrounding the production of opioid painkillers in America, and their allegedly aggressive overprescription. The opioid crisis currently sweeping America has left hundreds of thousands of Americans dead over the past two decades. With cultural protests against Sackler money taking place in both the UK and the US, there is now some pressure on Oxford to cut links with the family. Since 1991, the University has received over £11 million in Sackler donations, and the family also support a University lecturer and a teaching fellowship in Earth Sciences. Some think that it is time for the University to reevaluate their complicity in ‘cleansing’ the family’s image. – Zehra

Brexit Backlash

At the time of writing, the petition to revoke article 50 and remain in the EU has reached 5.3 million signatures. It is the most popular petition to have ever been published on parliament’s website, overtaking one in 2016 which called for a second referendum if that of June 2016 was insufficiently decisive. The 77-year-old Margaret Georgiadou who started the petition claims to have received several death threats over the last few days. Claims regarding foreign signatories have circulated in attempts to undermine the petition’s legitimacy, but reports have shown that 96% of its supporters were based in the UK. Overseas signatures may also be legitimate as any British citizen, including those residing overseas, are able to sign the petition.

On Saturday, over a million people gathered in London to march for a People’s Vote, according to organisers’ figures. This would place the march on par with the Stop the War march in 2003, the UK’s largest ever mass demonstration, yet insufficient in impeding Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War. Present at the march were Labour’s Tom Watson and Sadiq Khan, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, the Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, and Chuka Umunna of the Independent Group. Whilst calls of ‘Where’s Jeremy Corbyn?’ rang out at the march, the shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said that he was campaigning in Morecambe in preparation of the upcoming local elections on May 2nd. – Leo

LGBT Sex Education in British Schools sparks debate and 

Four more primary schools in Birmingham have suspended programmes which discuss LGBT rights in the classroom. This follows Parkfield Primary School’s suspension of the ‘No Outsiders’ programme, which was halted due to parent protests.

The majority of the protestors are Muslim parents who argue that the lessons contradict their faith, but they have drawn support from other religious groups, including ‘Christian Voice’. Speaking to the BBC, Parkfield parent Amir Ahmed said “morally, we do not permit homosexuality as a valid sexual relationship to have.” When asked to comment on the dispute, Andrea Leadsom MP said that, while she supported LGBT education, “parents should be able to choose the moment at which their children become exposed to that information.”

Homosexuality is not ‘information’ to which children are ‘exposed’, but an inarguable part of human diversity. Censorship of LGBT realities in the classroom does not stop LGBT children from existing, but it does mean that they have little information, guidance, and reassurance about their sexuality or gender identity. Every effort must be taken to ensure that we do not revert to a ‘Section 28’-style approach to social education. – Olivia

Trump Acknowledges Israel’s Claim to the Golan Heights

The Golan Heights region of Syria has been occupied by Israel since the close of the Six-Day War in 1967. The area is strategically very important for Israel. A third of the nation’s fresh water is sourced there, and it provides an excellent vantage point from which Syria can be monitored. On Friday Trump acknowledged that the region belongs to Israel, in breach of United Nations Security Council Resolution 497 – which describes the annexation as ‘null and void and without international legal effect’.

This is yet another example of American foreign policy favouring Israel, a continuation from Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the nation’s capital in 2017. The international community has since moved to condemn the American decision. France has clarified it does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the area, and Syria’s state news agency warns of the nation’s intent to recover the area ‘by all means possible.’ – Dan

Nathan Westling 

In an exclusive for CNN, Fashion model and skateboarder Nathan Westling announced his gender identity as male. When he was still going by the name Natalie, he recently modelled for brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Versace, Dior, Alexander McQueen and Chanel and appeared in American, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Russian and British editions of Vogue. The article briefly outlines a history of Trans models and their presence in fashion and if Nathan’s previous clients are anything to go by, he’ll be contributing to this tradition in no time – Antonio 

 

‘Us’ released in the UK 

Following the immense success of Jordan Peele’s 2017 film “Get Out”, horror fanatics and casual cinema goers alike have been desperate to see what he brings to our screens next. The answer is “Us”. Somehow scarier looking than its predecessor, it’s a film that present biting commentary on racial politics in the Trojan horse of the home-invasion drama. With a current approval rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and a weekend box-office debut of $70.3 million in the US, there are high hopes to see how the film performs in the UK this weekend. – Antonio ∎

 

Words by Leo Gadaski, Zehra Munir, Antonio Perricone, Dan Brookes, Olivia Hicks. Artwork by Antonio Perricone.