Sunday, 25 February 2018

THE NEWS EDIT [19/02/18-25/02/18]

In response to Wayne LaPierre's distasteful claims that gun control advocates are 'opportunists' who have 'exploited' the school shooting in Florida last week, I am utterly appalled. Yet again, innocent civilians have been killed in the most brutal and senseless way possible. 

It’s so important for the US to take the terrible event in Florida as a turning point and to truly mobilise the #NeverAgain campaign. All too often, terrorist events of this nature in the public sphere are dwelled upon for a few days, possibly even a couple of weeks, and then seem to completely disappear from national and international agenda. It’s the reaction among the schoolchildren affected by the horror, which has touched me the most and a reaction which I wholeheartedly admire and support. It is testament to their courage, to refuse to be beaten by another senseless act of terrorism.

It's hardly a surprise to me that Trump's sentiments on the issues have received such a backlash. This week he has expanded his idea to arm some teachers in schools, as he claims that this represents a foolproof way to ensure that all attacks end. 

I think he is missing the point somewhat... 

Gun control laws are the only way gun crime can be reduced. Arming out schools will not be a successful deterrent to terrorism and I think it provides far more risks than it can do good. It also doesn't say much about the strength of his government or his conviction as President for that matter. If his solution to gun crime is to throw more guns into the mix, how far will this 'solution' go? Surely, that logic extends to all arenas of the public sphere and to all people who work in it? It's a dangerous and lazy fix to a systemic issue which can only be tackled at the level of the law. 

Theresa May's speech at the start of the week about reviewing university fees was of particular interest to me. She stated that the review will focus on ensuring everyone can access higher education, the funding system, delivering the skills set the country needs and incentivising competition. I think it was really important for May to have outlined everything which is not working within higher education. But it seems somewhat ironic that she was such a senior member of the government which puppeteered its current form. 

I definitely think it's important for radical change within the university system. Students from working class backgrounds, irrespective of their ability, are likely to face more barriers accessing higher education than those from a private school background. It's the simple truth. The current system reproduces those systemic forms of inequality and it's about time it changed.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has agreed on a 30 day ceasefire in Syria, allowing critical aid and medical deliveries to reach areas most affected, such as the Eastern Ghouta rebel stronghold. However, it’s important to question what kind of an impact the ceasefire can possibly hope to generate, particularly when some of the biggest jihadi rebel groups are not covered by the truce, such as operations with Daesh, al-Qaeda and Nusra Front.

Nonetheless, it’s a critical move and one which should have doubtlessly been agreed upon much earlier in order to address the dire humanitarian situation. As an ally of Asaad’s regime, I definitely hold Russia highly responsible for stalling for time in the 3 day agreements. I think the whole incident proves how complex relations in Syria are becoming, particularly with new alliances and new players being thrown into the equation at every new turn of the conflict.

A report on the sale of corrosive substances in Newham has really disturbed me. 2017 saw increases in the number of acid attacks on an unprecedented scale. Accordingly, many shops have participated in a voluntary crackdown of the sale of corrosive substances. It’s very disheartening to see the ease at which these lethal substances can still be purchased, particularly to young people. 

I haven't been able to catch as much of the Winter Olympics this year as I would have liked to, but I think it's been really enjoyable. It's so disappointing that Russia was banned from this year's Olympics because of doping violations. It discredits all of the honest and clean-cut athletes, while completely depriving them of the opportunity to parade under their own flag at the games. 

However, recent events seem to suggest that Russia's return to the Olympic sporting arena could be imminent, so long as none of its other athletes are proved to be subject to substance abuse and rule violation. I personally think the whole affair is such an unwelcome attack on the integrity of the games and there needs to be a far more thorough investigation into the allegations before their return is even considered. 

Antonia x 


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