Weekly Round Up: Coronation Street, The Bezos Divorce and the Sultan of Brunei Petition

by isised | April 9, 2019

Petition to revoke Sultan of Brunei’s honorary Oxford degree 

A petition calling on the University of Oxford to rescind the honorary degree granted to the Sultan of Brunei has reached over 56,000 signatures. The petition was set up by Oxford alum Ellie Dibben after the University initially refused to rescind the civil law degree, which was awarded in 1993, despite international condemnation of Brunei’s new laws against homosexuality and adultery. The laws make homosexual sex between men punishable by death, and lesbian sex punishable by caning or imprisonment. Ellie Macdonald, VP for Welfare and Equal Opportunities, remarked “All honorary doctorates should reflect the ethos of the University.” The University have since stated that they will now review the honorary degree. – Olivia

Coronation Street, the first Black family stars in the TV show watched by millions

Sixty years after its conception producers now realise that Coronation Street, a telecommunication emblem of the British identity, requires us to reconsider the very notion of Britishness. The Baileys, Coronation Street’s first black family living on the fictional street, will be introducing a long required diverse British experience, with one of the characters, James, to come out as gay later down the show. – Neetu

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announce the terms of their divorce

The one-time world’s richest couple finalised their divorce on Thursday. Mackenzie announced, via Twitter, that she has handed over all her interests in the Washington Post newspaper and the rocketry company Blue Origin. In addition to this Jeff comes out of the divorce with control of 75% of the couple’s shares in Amazon, and full voting control over Mackenzie’s remaining 25%. While Jeff remains in control of Amazon, MacKenzie receives somewhere in the region of $36 billion dollars from the settlement. This isn’t quite enough to make her the richest woman in the world, but she’s certainly doing fine.  – Dan

Louvre’s Glass Pyramid Birthday Art Destroyed 

March 27th marked the 30th anniversary of the iconic glass pyramid in the courtyard of Paris’ Louvre museum. To commemorate the event the French street artist JR and a group of volunteers covered the courtyard in an immense paper collage – a perspective piece that showed the pyramid stretching down into the ground, flanked by imposing cliffs and classical ruins. By Monday, April 1st, the piece had been ripped to shreds by the foot traffic of visitors. JR reacted to the destruction of his art in a characteristically French way, tweeting that ‘images, like life, are ephemeral’ before suggesting that ‘the process is all about participation of volunteers, visitors, and souvenir catchers’. – Dan

US Congress Pass Resolution to End Involvement in Yemen Civil War

This Thursday the House of Representatives voted 247 to 175 to end US involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Sixteen Republicans rebelled against the party’s foreign policy stance and voted with the Democrats to pass the resolution. The victory is bittersweet, as it will likely be vetoed when it reaches the President’s desk. Nonetheless, it is a symbolic victory that demonstrates the mounting public pressure to end American support for the Saudi Government as their war, which has created a famine that affects millions and killed 60 thousand people, enters its fifth year. – Dan

London to Trial New Air Quality Scheme 

Sadiq Khan highlighted research this week that suggests nearly a thousand people a year are hospitalised in London with cases of asthma caused by the city’s air pollution. Responding to this the city is set to instate some tough regulation to tackle poor air quality. From April 8th people who drive heavily polluting vehicles in central London will face a daily fine of £12.50, with non-compliant buses and lorries paying more. The policy is predicted to cut traffic in the center by 5%, but road transport emissions by up to 45%. – Dan

US Man found guilty of $1.3 Billion Health Fraud

This Friday Philip Esformes, a Miami healthcare executive, was found guilty of 20 charges constituting a fraudulent healthcare scheme worth $1.3 billion, a scheme which the Department of Justice says is the largest of its kind ever charged. Defrauding at least $37 million for himself between 1998 and 2016, Esformes ran a chain of nursing and assisted-living facilities which, while providing inadequate care, gave many unnecessary services to its clients which were then billed to the federal health insurance program Medicare. The trial is the largest of over 4,000 Medicare fraud cases charged since 2007. Esformes was also found to be connected to bribery cases at the University of Pennsylvania; he had bribed basketball coach Jerome Allen to help his son get into the university. Further reading about the Medicare case can be found here and here, and the Pennsylvania case was covered here– Mack

New Netflix Attenborough 

David Attenborough is back, but now on Netflix! The veteran documentary maker returns for an 8-part series covering everything from the jungle to the arctic circle. Recent years have seen Attenborough, now 92, take a more and more uncompromising stance when it comes to describing the devastation man-made climate change is wreaking on the natural habitats his documentaries show so beautifully. – Dan

Artwork by Emily Reed. Words by Olivia Hicks, Neetu Singh, Dan Brooks, Mack Willett