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8 school shootings this year in US: London students react

Only five months into 2019, there have already been 8 school shootings in the states, killing four people and injuring 17.

In one week, two students just days away from graduation – Riley Howell and Kendrick Costello – died protecting their classmates from gunfire in shootings in North Carolina and Colorado.

After the Dunblane Primary School shooting in 1996 – 16 students and one teacher were killed before the shooter killed himself – the UK banned handguns. The UK has not has a school shooting incident since.

School shootings for UK students are luckily not a worry or concern, due to shootings being extremely rare within the UK. Most incidents involving two or more deaths within the UK have been due to organised crime, such as feuds between drug dealers or gangs.

Emotions and fear always sweeps the nation when a school shooting story breaks, especially in the US but do these specific issues have a similar effect on UK students?

Sam, 21, has never been to the states but described the shootings as “dreadful”. “It’s pretty awful when you’re hearing about them pretty much every other day”.”

113 people were killed or injured in school shootings in the US in 2018, BBC reports.  The number of school shootings in 2019 are predicted to rise.

Neriah, 20, has become discouraged and disheartened by rising number of mass deaths and injuries in the US, “it makes me feel like there’s not going to be any progress, which is sad”. 

As outsiders, Brits understand that it’s not the American people who don’t want a resolution, it’s the government. Many political campaigns are funded by the NRA , – in 2016, the NRA spent $11,438,118 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign – and are therefore less inclined to break that partnership, go against the organisation’s beliefs and lose the money.

Clemence, 26, suggests the US government “looked at their policies and laws, maybe it wouldn’t happened as much”. 

Neriah believes government effort should be coupled with a concrete safety plan in schools, “not just giving them the draws of what to do if there’s a shooting, but having other forms of security and protection…so no kids have to risk their lives to save their classmates or teachers.”

Sam has a simpler resolution, “stop glorifying guns”. He owes the non-issue of gun violence in Britain to the fact that guns aren’t romanticised in the country, but he “gets the impression” that the US does.

It’s wishful optimism to say that the US will eventually listen to the pleas of its citizens, but we’re left with the question of how many more children will have to die before the US government makes a change.

 

 

 

 

 

Banning single-use tents could leave charities without stock

According to The Independent, “The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) – an organisation that represents and empowers independent UK festivals like Shambala, Boomtown and Boardmasters – is urging retailers to stop marketing and selling tents as single-use items.” 

According to the AIF, the average tent is made largely of plastic and weighs approximately 3.5kg –  the equivalent of 8,750 straws. 

AIF also found that 10 percent of people attending festivals will leave their tent behind. 

Along with banning single-use tents, another proposition is to simply take them home and ensure that they will be used repetitively. However, this is left to the initiative of festival-goers as to whether or not they’ll actually carry them home long after the staged has been packed up. 

Help Refugees volunteer, Layla Fraser, believes that while banning single-use tents will be immensely beneficial to the environment, at the moment the charity she currently partners with is benefiting from the sea of forgotten tents. 

“You meet loads of cool people. Go around listening to music while doing the work. You can do it for one day, a few hours, or multiple days. You just do it until the charity isn’t there anymore or until most of the good tents are packed up.”

Though the tents go on to benefit charities like Help Refugees, the name of the charity that organises the cleanup is FWRD.

According to their website, they’re the first and only registered charity in the UK dedicated to helping the most vulnerable in society through the collection and redistribution of abandoned items at festivals. Registration to volunteer is available on the front page of their website. 

According to Layla, 50 per cent of the tents left at festivals such as Boomtown and Glastonbury, are able to be recovered.

When I mention to her that festival organisers are trying to ban single-use tents, she comments, “I think that is a really great step in the right direction. Realistically these non-plastic tents are going cost more so people are going to want to pack them down, and take them home. Festival organisers will save a lot of money on clean up teams that they could possibly put towards charitable stalls for refugees, homelessness, and more people will get involved.”

The impact that collecting single-use tents is evident through Layla’s work as a volunteer. “When we went to Calais in October, there were thousands of tents in the warehouse ready to be distributed. I’d say that anyone who lives near a festival should donate two days to volunteering. I know single handedly I cleaned up 50 to 100 tents.” 

Layla weighs 50 kg and stands at 5’1, proving that you don’t exactly need to be superhuman to donate a few hours of your time.  

According to a previous article written by WNOL, the French police are conducting evictions every 48 hours, which really goes to challenge how beneficial these tents are to refugees living rough in Calais and Dunkirk.

“The men in Calais who are living rough have a hard time during evictions taking tents. If they can have a tent that they can travel with quickly that they can take on their back. There’s less chance of their tent not being there when they come back,” says Layla. 

Though there is a likelihood that tents could be confiscated or slashed, Layla strongly discourages sitting back and doing nothing. “It’s definitely not enough but its on its way there. I guess the point is to just not do nothing. Everybody can have an impact, but its definitely not enough. The best thing to do would be to carry on donating tents, especially during winter, because it can actually kill people not having shelter. It’s saving lives.” 

“It’s also children and babies, newborn babies, that can be in the snow without shelter. We need to be more urgent about issues like these. It’s a life or death situation. The festival comes at a good time because they’ll have a stock of tents they can use towards winter.”

London Craft Week: Brixton

Whilst we can’t hop onto a plane to ancient Greece or some lost civilisation and explore the scenery, this week Squire & Partners are hosting a free showcase of 25 works of bronze gold.

The Original models are encased in bronze, not just to provide that fresh, clean finish but also to preserve the original pieces, which themselves, don’t tend to last much longer than a month.

One mask that particularly caught our eye was James Green’s called the Elephant King. The sculpture incorporates a series of elaborate decorative shapes that combine to form a mask that looks Mayan or Aztec at first glance.

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This sculpture had a Mayan influence and made by James King

The Elephant King itself was made from cardboard, and the whole thing was cut with an electrically powered jigsaw tool. The mask has been polished but also given darker recesses to highlight the depth of the carvings which decorate the mask itself.

In Tom Winstanley (our guide) expert opinion “the pattern the work that’s drawn on top is quite playful, it’s joyful, it’s something that’s been inherently ‘round for a long time and its decorative language that’s been applied to this, the whole artwork has a quite a decorative feel to it. But it holds its own because it has its own weight to it, which is referencing an ancient history of casting”.

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Winstanley said this sculptures meaning was what viewers perceived of it and open to interpretation.

But don’t assume that every piece started as a fine sculpture. Tom explained the process and intention behind a Bolangian piece which started as a painting. The sculpture itself was digitally made and then some computer programs later we have our sculpture. Manikin hands gripping a rope with emphasised fingernails.

The funny look is thanks to the sculpture being left in its natural state for a bit then sandblasted, before being welded together in certain sections creating iridescent colouring on areas of the art. He technique also left us with a glittering finish that shows off bronze in an entirely new and unique way. “There’s a point where you being to stop making the sculpture and that’s the finished article, and it feels right that it’s been stopped within the process”.

– Jamal Davis

– Photos by Zubair Karmalkar

Veganism ‘trend’ is helping the environment

The BBC recently revealed that over 1 million animal species are in danger. The UK became the first country to declare climate change as a national emergency. We are being told we have only 11 years to change our ways.

Within the article, the BBC also mentions how many will have to think about eating more fruit and veg and less meat. 

According to ourworldindata.com, livestock takes up around 80% of global agricultural land, and as humans, we consume around 300 million tonnes of meat a year. Unsurprisingly, this is causing a lot of strain on the environment.

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Livestock produce 18% of greenhouse gasses, which is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks and other transport put together. Farming animals are also a cause of deforestation and degeneration. 

Lifestyles like Veganism have taken off in the past 10 years, with it being held as the biggest trend in 2018. Many praise the lifestyle for its health benefits and its impact on the earth. BBC Good Food says that if everyone in the world went vegan, the worlds food-related emissions would drop by 70%. 

Vegan lifestyles boast to help you lose excess weight, lower blood sugar, improve the functioning of the body and even protect you against cancer. 

It was also revealed within the article that in order to save the planet, people may have to begin consuming less meat and leading a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. It was revealed by fact.org that 2-3% of the UK is vegetarian, and meat consumption has actually fallen in recent years. 

Many are jumping on the bandwagons of ‘no meat Monday’ and ‘veganuary’ to push themselves to try the lifestyle. 

Studies show that most vegans are aged 16-24, with now half a million vegans on the streets of the UK. No longer is it dedicated to the hippies; even bodybuilders are getting in on it, supplying evidence to the myth that they need animal protein to gain muscle. 

Food, in general, is responsible for over one-quarter of all greenhouse gasses, with dairy and meat being the biggest culprits for the carbon footprint. 

Of course, older generations are not as forthcoming with their diets, with many luxuriating in their now rationales world. but more and more people are choosing the no-meat life, which is another thing that can be done to help the environment thrive. 

Can serial killers be ‘sexy’?

Netflix recently urged their viewers the other day over Twitter, to stop referring to Ted Bundy as “hot”, sparking debate on Hollywood’s portrayal of serial killers.

Online Tumblr communities romanticise serial killers. A cult following for the Columbine shooters called ‘Columbiners’ has emerged on the site and those who are obsessed with serial killers proclaim themselves to be ‘true crime enthusiasts’. 

Examples of such blogs are: 

https://serial-killer-wonderland.tumblr.com

https://tea-and-skeletons.tumblr.com/tagged/true_crime

https://ydnub-t.tumblr.com

According to an interview with NPR, Rhitu Chatterjee, a mental health professional, this type of material is likely to incite more mass shootings and acts of terrorism. She comments on the copycat appeal, “It’s a very human act. Now, we humans sort of instinctively emulate those around us, especially people we identify with, and we do this in ways we even often don’t understand or know. That’s how cultures spread. Now, if you take the case of these mass shooters, these individuals tend to be unhappy people. They’re dissatisfied, and they tend to have this us-against-them outlook about the world. Their social lives aren’t that great. They feel like they don’t really belong anywhere.”

“Now, you take somebody like this, they can go online and read up about the lives and actions of those who felt like them and who acted on their violent, dissatisfied thinking, and now they have somebody to identify with, and there’s a sense of belonging and purpose that comes with that identification, and they feel justified in how they think and what they want to act on. Another thing to keep in mind is that a significant number of mass shooters are also suicidal, and this sort of copycat phenomenon has been very well-documented in suicidal behaviour as well.”  

It has been made known that the Christchurch killer (who will not be named here for obvious reasons) was inspired by acts made by other white nationalists, “Now, we know from this man’s statement that he was enamoured with previous white supremacist mass killers, but this kind of idolising of previous shooters is not unique to white supremacists. It’s actually true for most mass shooters. Someone contemplating mass violence often will spend days or even weeks studying the lives and acts of previous mass shooters” says Rhitu Chatterjee in the NPR interview, which might be why New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, refused to name him in a statement to parliament.

A teenager who stabbed two to death in Colchester, Essex in 2014, was known to have glorified the acts committed by the Yorkshire Ripper, according to The Independent. Providing a first hand account that serial killers are in fact inspired by those who have been given notoriety in the past for their crimes. 

Perhaps, the most famous incident of copycat crimes were those acted out by the B.T.K killer, with BTK standing for “blind, torture, kill”. He had left letters for police and media to find all around the city of Wichita, according to Oxygen. One he had taped to the back of a stop sign and the other inside a book in a public library. 

His killing spree inspired A Good Marriage, a novela written by Stephen King, which was later turned into a movie. For the years leading up to his arrest he taunted police by sending letters to media outlets local to Wichita until his capture in 2005 when police traced a disk back to Rader. He was famously quoted saying, “The floppy did me in.” 

Though documentary evidence should be allowed to criminology students and those who study psychology it is up for debate as to whether or not movies such as Netflix’s, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile a movie based on Ted Bundy starring Zac Efron is appropriate. Also whether or not such notoriety could play a role in inspiring similar crimes in the future. Though, not something I particularly have the answer to, it’s worth contemplating when reflecting on today’s culture of creating infamous serial killers. 

Sonic the Hedgehog movie given all-new redesign after fan backlash

With the release of Pokemon’s Detective Pikachu, the pressure is on for other video game-related movies. One, in particular, is Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog which is scheduled for release in November. Film stars include Ben Schwarts as the titular character, Jim Carrey as villain Doctor Robotnik, as well as James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Neal McDonough, and Adam Pally. While there have been some questions in the casting of Jim Carrey, it is the appearance of protagonist Sonic in the trailer that has upset fans.

Watch the trailer below:

 

 

 

 

The trailer itself has received criticism for its use of Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, which many fans believe is out of place in a movie about a children’s video game character.

But it was the appearance of Sonic himself that has become a hot topic online in the past week, with fans pointing out the ‘uncanny valley’ effect of Sonic’s teeth, eyes, and body.

 

 

Some fans have taken it upon themselves to improve the look of the character. One redesign by digital artist Edward Pun has received over 80,000 retweets and over 320,000 likes on Twitter. Many have criticised the Sonic on the left as looking like a man in a costume, whereas the right’s body and eye shape are more like the iconic Sega character.

This has all lead to the director of the film, Jeff Fowler, to respond to comments on Twitter saying that they will be redesigning the character to best fit what fans want. This redesign comes just six months before the film’s release.

It’s unclear if the film’s release date will be pushed back.

 

 

 

The release of Detective Pikachu and its early positive reviews has lead to comparisons between the two iconic video game characters. While Pikachu is near identical to the character it’s based on, Sonic has been likened more to a cat than its hedgehog roots.

 

Uber drivers strike over alleged corruption

Uber goes public on the New York Stock Exchange two days after protests on Wednesday between drivers amid claims of corruption and a minimum wage. 

Today, BBC reports that the transportation company has been criticised for listing its company at $82 billion (£63 billion).

Uber is justifying the $45-a-share price as a way to finance its plan to “revolutionise and then dominate global transportation.” 

Their flotation follows protests in the UK which saw drivers gathering outside 10 Whitechapel High Street to stage a protest. On the agenda of the protest was driver safety, union representation and stringent regulations.

One Uber driver said, “There is no other place to go. Sadiq Khan and TFL are the problem.”

The protest reached its peak at 2pm and saw drivers sporting flags, red flares and large speakers which blasted Bob Marley songs, including One Love and Could You Be Loved.

Drivers chanted, “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.” Many people stopped to film the events and talk with the drivers.

Protests were not contained to London, with a total 8 cities across Britain being effected including, Cardiff, Nottingham and Glasgow.

Tensions between Uber drivers and London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, have been mounting since June 2018 when Khan announced he would refuse Uber’s licence to be renewed.

City workers passing the protest had little idea that the protest would be taking place, with one office worker saying, “They’re entitled to protest, but it doesn’t really effect me.”

Another office worker said, “I would usually use Uber but today I didn’t need to. I don’t know too much about it (the protest) to be honest.”

Police officers were in attendance of the protest, occasionally intervening to keep disruption to a minimum, asking drivers to reduce the volume of music and extinguish flares.

In addition to their main claims, some Uber drivers went on to say that senior officials in the company were not paying taxes and were “getting away with this.”

Uber was not the only mode of transport to be effected on Wednesday. Black cab drivers also took to the streets in a separate protest.

London Underground also suffered major problems with the Circle, District, Hanmmersmith & City, and Piccadilly Lines due to signal failures and a customer incident, causing severe delays throughout the day.

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