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Review of the Week – 12 to 18 March 2012

REVIEW OF THE WEEK: 12 to 18 March 2012

That Was The Week That Was

SHARP EXIT: Eric Joyce leaves his job as a Labour MP after being charged with three counts of common assault.In terms of national and international news, this week’s been relatively quiet. Eric Joyce – the disgraced MP, who last month head-butted two Tory rivals in a Parliament brawl – resigned from the Labour Party on Monday, apologising "without reservation". Rebekah Brooks and her husband were arrested on Tuesday by police investigating phone hacking. On Wednesday, the UK jobless total reached a new record for seventeen years, and 2.8 million are now recognised as unemployed. Thursday saw Ashraf Rossli, 21, and John Kafunda, 22, dubbed the "Good Samaritan thugs" by the papers, sentenced for the crimes they committed during the London riots in the summer. And on Friday, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams announced his resignation, to the disappointment of thousands of Church of England members and millions of Anglicans worldwide.

DISASTER: The coach, carrying students home from a ski trip, crashed into the wall of a tunnel.

None of these stories will be remembered by the wider world in months to come: they’re not Earth-shattering. But, naturally, for those involved with them, the outgoing week will be remembered for the rest of their lives. One story which will be remembered for a long time by many is of the horrific Swiss bus crash, in which 22 children and six adults were killed, after a coach carrying Belgian students returning from a ski trip crashed into a wall of a tunnel. There’s a couple of things that are stuck in my memory: a quote from the BBC journalist who reported for the evening bulletins ("For the child survivors who’d escaped the bus, there was no screaming, no shouting, just children numb with fear.") and the sight of the destroyed bus. The cause of the crash will probably never be known, but it’s now thought that the driver was trying to change a DVD in the on-board entertainment system just before the crash.

Much, much closer to home, though, the biggest story of the past few days is the announcement of plans to relocate Furze Platt Senior School to Spencer’s Farm. I’ve written my full thoughts in a separate blog post but in short I think they’re ill-considered. It’s an attractive deal, no doubt, for both the school and the council (not to mention the developer), but I can’t see how children from a planned 700 new ‘family homes’ can possibly fit into one new school, if they’re to demolish the current Furze Platt Road site. Developments in this story are bound to appear on this site, as and when they happen.

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Review of the Week – 5 to 11 March 2012

REVIEW OF THE WEEK: 5 to 11 March 2012

That Was The Week That Was

THIS MAN IS A BAD GUY: One of the moments in the half-hour film involves the film-maker showing his young son a photograph of Joseph Kony, the subject of the film - described as one of the "bad guys" by the child. This week’s seen the spread of easily one of the best examples of a viral campaign: KONY 2012. The video, which went live on Monday under the YouTube channel of not-for-profit organisation Invisible Children, Inc, aims to raise awareness of the head of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony. But despite the film’s big success – it’s had over 70 million views in the space of the last seven days – some question the organisation’s actions. My friend, Borlase headboy and fellow Taplow Youth Choir singer, Remy Osman wrote his opinions on Facebook on Tuesday.

Controversial, but hold your horses on this whole ‘Kony 2012’ thing:

Just remember that the Ugandan military is using this as an excuse to enter other countries and exploit the Congo’s resources, while murdering and raping innocents. The Ugandan government is full of far worse criminals than Kony, and their president is responsible for millions of deaths. (I particularly reject the idea that Kony is “the worst war criminal in the world”.)

Also, Invisible Children lobbies for DIRECT military intervention in Africa. Didn’t we learn anything from our terrorist hunts in the middle east?
Just consider this before jumping on the emotional bandwagon…”

— Remy Osman, writing on Facebook, 6 March 2012

As we in the west woke on Monday, we learned that in Russia, Vladimir Putin had won his third term as President. But there’s claims of unfair practices and, as the Telegraph stated, “international observers reported widespread irregularities; the poll in Chechnya was 99.7 per cent in his favour, based on a 99.6 per cent turnout”.

On Wednesday, six British soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan after their vehicle was hit by an explosion. The biggest single loss of UK life in Afghanistan since 2006, the fatalities have caused the British death toll since 2001 to rise to 404. They were named on Thursday as Sgt Nigel Coupe, Cpl Jake Harley, Pte Anthony Frampton, Pte Christopher Kershaw, Pte Daniel Wade, and Pte Daniel Wilford. They had an annual age of 22, but five of them were 21 or younger.

Perhaps the most scandalous story of the week in western Europe is the news that Briton Chris McManus and Italian Franco Lamolinara were murdered by their captors in Nigeria, during a rescue operation of which President Giorgio Napolitano was not given advance warning.

HAVING A BALL: Prince Harry plays sport with Brazilian children on the Rio de Janeiro beach.

And, in other news: Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s son, Charlie Gilmour, is to resume his studies at Cambridge University, after serving a 16-month sentence for his role in the 2010 student fees protest. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have both been forced to alter their recipes after the state of California declared one of its flavourings, 4-methylimidazole, a carcinogen. And on Friday, Prince Harry enjoyed a game of rugby on a beach in Brazil, during an official visit to the South American country.

“One plea to all Brazilians, though. Please, please, if we show you how to play rugby, don’t do what you’ve done with football, and leave us wishing we hadn’t!”

Prince Harry, whilst playing sports on Rio de Janeiro beach, 9 March 2012

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Review of the Week – 20 to 26 February 2012

REVIEW OF THE WEEK: 20 to 26 February 2012

That Was The Week That Was

WHAT THE FLIP: A child at the church's Pancake Party on Tuesday prepares to toss their pancake. (IMG_8370) This week being the beginning of Lent, events I’ve attended at church have included Shrove Tuesday’s Pancake Party in the Church Hall and this (Sunday) afternoon’s Lent Lunch in the Parish Centre. With my Grade Five Music Theory exam and Maths GCSE retakes next Thursday, Friday, and a week on Monday, I’ve spent much of the weekend in my ‘learning den’ (aka my bedroom) completing past papers and catching up on other work. But I did manage a bike ride to the river with my mum yesterday (Saturday), a few hours of reading the weekend papers, and have just enjoyed a roast dinner with former St Luke’s vicar Richard Holroyd – in Maidenhead to sing at a concert at Norden Farm, which Mum, Dad, Matthew, and a large number of the St Luke’s congregation attended.

MY BABY: Rupert Murdoch's new paper had a front-page splash about Amanda Holden's 40-second childbirth drama.Normally, this introductory piece to the Review also includes a summary of the week’s bigger headlines. We’re in the strange position this week, though, where in addition to the continuing investigations into phone-hacking and bad press behaviour, Rupert Murdoch has launched a new paper to replace the News Of The World that he and his son killed off last year – and that new newspaper has become news in itself. It’s called The Sun On Sunday (advertised by a frankly brilliant campaign yesterday centred around the song from Annie, Tomorrow, which of course includes the line: ‘The sun’ll come out tomorrow’. The print-run for this first edition: 3 million. The price: 50p. As the BBC’s Nick Higham commented, it looks and feels like The Sun, and features a front-page splash (an exclusive interview with Amanda Holden) continued onto four pages inside.

AN EYE FOR A STORY: Marie Colvin, despite losing her sight in one eye, continued to work in difficult journalistic locations, until being killed on Wednesday.Regardless of whether you do or don’t like Murdoch’s media control, one must commend his journalists. They’ve clearly worked hard – amid an uneasy, to say the least, environment with the recent arrests and challenging Leveson Inquiry backdrop – to get this paper out. Remember, very, very few of those still in Wapping were there during the old Sunday paper’s dodgiest days – the majority are innocent journalists, living under the shadow of those who sat at their desks before them. And yet, in spite of all this, the true hero of journalism, who’ll be remembered longer than almost all Sun hacks, is Marie Colvin (a writer for News International’s other Sunday publication The Sunday Times). She died this week after the makeshift media centre she and her colleagues were working in was, by designed attack or pure chance, bombed by Syrian forces. Fellow journalists have been paying tribute to her since Wednesday – including, rather bizarrely, Katie Price, in the first of her columns for the The Sun on Sunday.

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