Weekly Round Up: Agnes Varda, the Apple Card, and the end of Broad City

Agnes Varda

French New Wave director Agnes Varda has died this week. It would be impossible to summarise her influence and career in this round up, but you can get a taste of her talent in this clip, and take read of her obituary in The Guardian here. – Antonio

Brunei Queer Death Penalty

The government of Brunei has stated that it will begin to impose death by stoning for gay sex and adultery next week, with the world, including the UN, proceeding to criticise the inhumanity of the ruling. After having announced the proposed law in 2013, the government has faced many setbacks as human rights groups (both domestic and international) opposed it, and the law has finally come into the public eye again as George Clooney called for boycotts of hotels linked to the country. Alongside rulings on homosexuality, the law will also introduce punishments such as amputation for theft, flogging for abortion, and death by stoning for adultery. The grim news coincided this week with the 13th international conference of the World Congress of Families in Verona, an event which promotes the values of the Christian right and which is thought to have influenced hate crimes in the city. – Mack

Slovakia elects first female president

Outsider candidate Zuzana Čaputová is set to become Slovakia’s first female president in June after winning 58.4% of the votes in Saturday’s polls. Čaputová, a lawyer and civil activist before entering politics, ran as a member of the Progressive Slovakia party, a liberal party which has no seats in the current parliament. Her opponent, veteran politician and independent candidate Maroš Šefčovič, is currently the EU Energy Commissioner. Čaputová ran on a liberal platform of environmentalism and anti-corruption. The latter of these has a particular resonance in Slovakia due to the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová, in February of 2018. Kuciak was an investigative journalist focusing on the links between the Italian Mafia and the Slovakian government. His death lead to the resignation of then-prime minister Robert Fico. Čaputová’s liberal campaign, with its slogan ‘Stand Up to Evil,’ is in many ways a populist victory – but one that contrasts with the nationalist and illiberal tendencies seen across the region in recent years. You can firm more coverage here, here, and here. – Dan

Brexit March (EDL outside Parliament)

Last week saw a crowd of up to 400,000 people gather in London to demand a People’s Vote, and this week saw the remaining Brexiteers offer their riposte. Thousands gathered outside parliament on Friday to protest delays to our exit from Europe. The most die-hard of them had walked all the way from Sunderland, where the March to Leave began two weeks earlier. When the 80 or so marchers began their journey it was optimistic – the 29th was going to be the date we finally left. Understandably then, many of the marchers expressed anger and betrayal rather than celebration. The March to Leave coincided UKIP’s Make Brexit Happen rally, where EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (more commonly known by his pseudonym Tommy Robinson) addressed the crowd. Channel 4 has offered an apology after veteran newscaster Jon Snow remarked he had ‘never seen so many white people in one place’. – Dan

Apple TV +, Apple Credit Card, and cancellation of AirPower wireless charging hardware

Following its Spring Event, it’s been a pretty big week for the Big Four tech giant Apple. This week the company has announced Apple TV+ (set to be a competitor for the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime), confirmed plans for credit and credit card system Apple Card (which just sounds like a hyped-up version of Monzo), and cancelled a proposed wireless charging pad dubbed AirPower. All this news comes alongside Spotify’s call for Apple to start “playing fair” in the field of taxation on podcasting, software release, and music, and the company’s new proposed developments show that Apple, like Facebook, Amazon, and Google, is progressively expanding its reach into increasingly diverse sectors. A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Warren proposed a breakup of dominant tech companies, but, by the looks of things, the Big Four are only getting bigger. – Mack

Mueller report summary from US Attorney General William Barr

Following the deliver of US attorney general William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report on Sunday (24th March), calls from both Republican and Democrat senators have urged Barr to release a full version of the report to Congress, with Rep. Senator for Texas, Ted Cruz, even calling for the report to be made available to the public. Most likely, Barr will release a redacted version of the report, and an interesting take on the nature of those kinds of releases can be found here. More informally, the US comedy show SNL covered the report, and the Trump White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded on Twitter in a predictably reactionary way, adding Robert de Niro and Alec Baldwin to her ‘Mueller Madness’ knockout table. Crazy times. – Mack

Nipsey Hussle shooting

In yet another episode of tragic and senseless gun violence, on Sunday afternoon 33-year-old rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed outside the Marathon Clothing store in south Los Angeles. Not only was Nipsey a gifted and socially-conscious rapper, with his album Victory Lap nominated for Best Rap Album in the 2018 Grammy awards, but he was also heavily involved in community work around his hometown of LA. His projects included Vector90, a co-working space designed to house local entrepreneurs in Crenshaw, and the “Too Big To Fail” programme, which helped members of his community engage in and improve STEM subject training. Countless celebrities, including the likes of Rihanna, LeBron James, and Ava DuVernay, have posted tributes to Nipsey on social media, all mourning the loss of both a talented rapper, and a man who used his fame to endeavour towards positive change in a troubled community. – Sanjana

Broad City coming to an end

Broad City’s finale aired on Friday night, marking the end of one of the sharpest comedy shows on television in recent years. Written by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the show depicts the friendship of two exaggerated versions of themselves. Self proclaimed “jewesses just tryna make a buck”, Abbi is a cleaner with dreams of being an artist, who works at a thinly veiled version of Soulcycle, and Ilana is a low-rung employee at a depressing online ad company who seems to run on a diet of weed and sex positivity. They are forever landing themselves in surreal anticsspending all their savings at Whole Foods during a weed-induced spree following dental surgery, saving money for Lil Wayne tickets by landing a Craigslist gig cleaning a man’s apartment in their underwear, and discussing Abbi’s first foray into pegging at Ilana’s grandmother’s shiva. They hustle and scheme in the big, brutal, and beautiful city. It’s pure and unadulteratedly loving; at its heart a paean to semi-platonic love that sets it leagues apart from antecedents such as the dated and unrealistic Sex And The City and the ‘white feminism’ embodiment that is Girls. The show may be over but its message and jokes will last much longer. YAS QUEEN. – Antonio

 

 

Artwork by Kirsty Fabiyi. Words by Antonio Perricone, Dan Brooks, Mack Willett, and Sanjana Gunasekaran.