This weeks headline news 12/02/2017


  • A 10-year-old boy has died after an accident at clothing retailer Topshop’s Reading store this Tuesday. Karen Reddick is believed to have passed away after injuring himself on a display within the store. Despite three three ambulances and a rapid response vehicle arriving at the scene, the South Central Ambulance service were unable to save him. 
  • Around 360kg (793lbs) of cocaine was found washed up on beaches in Norfolk this week. The drugs, which have a street value of an estimated £50m, were found on Hopton beach, near Great Yarmouth and also on a beach near Caister according to the National Crime Agency (NCA). The NCA border investigations team are now working with Border Force, the Coastguard Agency and Norfolk Police to establish how the bags ended up there. 
  • An undercover reporter who spent two months at the HMP Northumberland prison has revealed how he witnessed wide spread drug use and a complete lack of control. The reporter, who worked as a custody officer in the prison, revealed he found inmates incapacitated by drugs, threatening towards staff members and often left to their own devices, whilst some prison guards revealed that they were afraid to confront prisoners incase back up took too long to arrive. The report was shown on BBC Panorama on Monday. 
  • RAF jets scrambled to intercept two nuclear-capable Russian bombers who flew into Britain’s “area of interest” this Friday. The planes were believed to have flown through the coast of Norway before passing the west coast of Ireland, although they did not enter British “airspace”.


  • Toshiba chairman Shigenori Shiga has resigned just hours after details were released showing the company has being running at a loss of $3.4bn, (390 billion yen). 
  • The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-nam, has been killed in an attack at an international airport in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Police say the late Kim Jong-il’s eldest son was waiting at a terminal for a 10.00 flight to Macau when he was attacked by an unknown woman who covered his with a cloth laced with liquid, resulting in his death.
  • North Korea  launched its first ballistic missile since Donald Trump became US president on Sunday. Pyongyang fired the medium-range rocket which flew 500km before crashing into the Sea of Japan, according to the US and South Korean military. 
  • Up to 188,000 people were evacuated from their homes in California this week after an emergency spillway in the US’s tallest dam, the Oroville Dam, began eroding, prompting fears it could release floodwaters. Although the dam itself currently remains structurally sound, weeks of heavy rain caused the Lake Oroville reservoir to rise above its capacity and lap over the spillway, which is designed to alleviate pressure on the dam.


Politics made easy: What’s happening in Aleppo?

About Aleppo

Aleppo was once the largest city in Syria, with a population of around 2.3 million, it served as the center of the country’s finance and industry, making it a critical part of the countries economy. The old city of Aleppo was also named as a world heritage site but sadly, much of the city’s historical architecture has been devastated during the recent conflict.

What conflict?

In July 2012, the civil war in Syria spread through to Aleppo and the city quickly became one of the main battlegrounds for government forces and the rebels. During this period, the city was roughly divided into two sections, with government forces controlling the western part of the city and rebel forces controlling the eastern part.

Aleppo was left in this state of division for more than four years until 22nd December 2016, when Syria’s government, helped by Russian forces, defeated the rebels and took back control of the city. They did this through a series of airstrikes and ground attacks.

Why did Russia help the Syrian government forces? 

Russia announced in 2015 that it would be supporting the Syrian government with the conflict in Syria. Historically, both Russia and Syria have maintained a strong relationship since 1971, when the Soviet Union built a naval base in the Syrian city of Tartus. Syria has also been a consistent buyer of Russian firearms, in fact from 2007-2011, 78% of Syria’s military imports were bought from Russia. As tensions grow between Russia and the west (UK and US), this intervention also gave Russia the chance to showcase its military capabilities.

What happened to the people of Aleppo?

In the run-up to this defeat and in the time shortly after, a large-scale evacuation of the people of Aleppo began. This evacuation was halted though, because the Syrian government said that the rebels were not sticking to the agreed terms of how the evacuation should happen. After some negotiating, the evacuation began again. However, stories then emerged of more attacks and fighting during this time, putting the safety of innocent civilians trying to flee the city, at risk. The large-scale fighting within the city left people without food, medical supplies and in many cases, clean water. Buildings, hospitals and schools were bombed and more than 100 were killed during this time, although exact figures are yet to be released.

Lots of people who were stuck in Aleppo at the time began tweeting about what was happening, with many saying they feared for their safety as bombs were dropped over the city. You can see some of their stories and tweets here.

On the 22nd December, government forces announced that the evacuation was complete and they had defeated rebel forces, re-gaining control over the city. This was a turning point in the countries long-drawn civil war as it means that president Assad now had control over four of the biggest cities in Syria.

What will happen now?

Although the Syrian government have managed to take back the city of Aleppo, the rebel fighters still control large parts of the country and the war is far from over. The U.N. estimates about 400,000 people have been killed in Aleppo since the battle first started back in March 2011.

Trump isn’t sexist, society is.

Ahhh 2016, the year that North Korea showcased its rather intimidating collection of nuclear weaponry, Britain bid farewell to the EU and a perma-tanned property tycoon miraculously succeeded in becoming president of the United states. Stranger things have happened. At least I think they have….

In the weeks leading up to Trumps winning victory, we were all graciously blessed with the endless ins and outs of both his and his fellow rival Clinton’s campaign. There were tales of troubling emails, blackmailing in the FBI and backhanded comments about the mental and physical health of both candidates. Intertwined with the above were Chinese whispers of bribery, questionable relationships between the candidates and their help and above all, we seemed to be hearing the word `tremendous’ way too much.

But perhaps the most publicized story to come out of this entire campaign was that of Trump and his apparently sexually derogative/derogatory remarks about numerous women.

It only seemed to take one women to come forward with her story of our newly elected and so-called misogynistic (check) president, before all hell broke loose. Suddenly, every woman who had ever spent more than 5 minutes in his presence began to speak out about the `tremendously’ sexist Trump too.

In case you missed it, here are just a handful of Trumps sexist quotes:

1991, speaking to Esquire magazine about the media, Trump said, “You know, it doesn’t really matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

1997, After Trump bought the Miss USA beauty pageant, he said, “They said, ‘How are you going to change the pageant?’ I said ‘I’m going to get the bathing suits to be smaller and the heels to be higher’.” Before later adding, “If you’re looking for a rocket scientist, don’t tune in tonight, but if you’re looking for a really beautiful woman, you should watch.”

2000, Trump was speaking to Howard Stern about a list of women he would like to sleep with, which included the late Princess Diana. He was quoted as saying to Stern, “She had the height, she had the beauty, she had the skin — the whole thing…. She was crazy, but these are minor details.”

2008, During another conversation with Howard Stern, Trump reveals that he has had sex with women who had `extraordinarily bad breast jobs which looked like pancake tits’ before adding that any woman who has a breast reduction is `insane’.

2015, In an interview with New York Times, Trump made a swipe at an international supermodel, saying, “Heidi Klum. Sadly, she’s no longer a 10.”

2016, Trump caused outrage after advocating punishment for women who have abortions and just months later a video emerged of him talking about grabbing women by the p****, saying that “when you’re famous, ` they let you do it”.

And this was just the icing on the cake, as more and more of his previous sexual references began making headline news, right up until the end of his rather glitzy campaign.

As a female myself, I was one of many to both sympathize with these poor women and berate Trumps behavior. I proclaimed him to be a narcissistic pig and began quite openly vocalizing my anguish to practically everyone I spoke to.

A few days had passed after my initial outbreak of Tourette’s, and suddenly I started to ask myself a different question: why were Trumps remarks getting so much negative media attention?

Granted, Trump definitely has a no holds barred’ approach when it comes to publicly voicing his opinions on everything from Muslim `immigrants’ to Mexican `criminals’. For obvious reasons, he’s not naturally the first person that springs to mind when you’re thinking of suitable candidates to run a democracy. And of course, given the position he was rallying for- president of the U S of A, comments such as his are not exactly the kind of thing to win over an entire populous of people.

But of all the things to critique or pick out from his entire campaign, I can’t get my head around why the media seemed to hone in on sexist comments about young women.

Let me take you back to the start of November. It was a lovely sunny day here in London because, despite it being smack-bang in the middle of winter, global-warming likes to wave its magic wand every now and again and throw in a bit of a sunshine to really fuck with your body. Deciding to make the most of this rare and rather odd beautiful weather, I thought id take a leisurely stroll in our local park. So, throwing on a summers dress and a pair of flat shoes, off I trotted down the road, blissfully unaware as to what lay before me. As I turned the corner, I got the fright of my life as a van-full of middle-aged builders began honking their horn at me so loudly, I almost fell over. Realizing they’d got my attention (and also scared the absolute shit out of me) they then proceeded to crane their necks out of the window and give my arse a rating of 8 out of 10, almost crashing into an oncoming vehicle as they did so. After getting over the initial shock of only being given an 8 out of 10, when I would say I’m a solid 9 (honestly, the CHEEK of it!) I became so infuriated at how much they had embarrassed me that I sacked off the park completely and limped home, defeated.

Understandably you may think I’m overreacting, however when you experience something like this at least 3 times a month (and I am honestly being generous here), it really begins to mess your head.

I just couldn’t understand how these men, these grown-ass men, most likely with wives and children, found it in any way acceptable to look at and talk to me, a complete stranger, like I was a sexual object. What’s more, they found it perfectly within their rights to

 cast their opinion on me, to `rate’ me according to how sexually attractive a single part of my anatomy was.

The chances are that after this event, these `men’ simply had a laugh and joke and carried on about their usual day. Meanwhile, I spent the rest of the day sat at home wondering if I was giving off the wrong impression to men, simply by HAVING an arse.

What a world we live in.

If you were to ask any female in her 20’s who’s ever been out clubbing on a Friday night, there’s a 99.9% chance that shell tell you she’s had to bear the brunt of sexual comments. It doesn’t matter if said woman was dressed in a tight-fitting dress or, had instead partied it out in an outfit inspired by an Amish house wife.

At least a handful of times in her 20-something years, there’s a high chance that she has experienced sexism in some way, shape or form.

Did it affect her? Probably, yes. Did it knock her self-esteem? Again, the answer is likely a resounding `yes’. Did she do anything about it? Report it? Question this man on why he felt it was at all appropriate to talk to her like that? Most likely not…

And why exactly is it, that more and more women increasingly do nothing about it?

Well in many ways, its quite simple. Sexualizing women has now become a normalized characteristic of societies around the world. 

Men judging women based on their sexual appeal or attractiveness has become so `mainstream’ that it practically forms part of our daily conversations. “Lovely weather today isn’t it Tom?”, “Yes Bill, it is and have you seen the t*** on that girl?”.

In fact, sexualisation of women has become so far ingrained within our society that we now even promote it, we market it. Billboard campaigns full of scantily-clad women trying to flog us perfume, TV commercials featuring provocatively dressed models telling us to buy lipsticks that are `kiss and smudge proof’, presumably because the only reason women wear lipstick is to satisfy the lustrous cravings of men. Then there’s burger commercials with large-breasted women seductively chowing down on meat-filled buns in a bid to get us all to start splashing the cash on processed foods.

Its not by accident any of this, in case you thought it was. Those large, well-established companies are smart, they know what they’re doing, they know that sex sells.

And yet we consume it, without question. We no longer look at these billboards and these TV campaigns or the front covers of these magazines and think “that’s a bit too much, isn’t it?” or” someone should probably put some clothes on that poor woman”. No. We accept it. We consume it, worse still, we actually buy it.

But the reality is, we can’t escape it. Try as we might, its everywhere we look. Its everywhere we go and what’s more, its slowly become everything we want to be. The majority of us women, we WANT to be sexy. We WANT to feel attractive and if that means we have to be viewed as `sexy’ then so be it. We WANT to have that perfect `sexy’ body and to dress in those `sexy’ clothes and smoother our faces in crappy overprices make-up, just so we can look `sexier’.

And then, when some poor fella reacts to our `sexiness’, having subconsciously matched us up to those standards of sexiness that he has blindly consumed through society, and starts yelling out at us from the side of a white van, we get p***** off!

Swings and roundabouts and all that, eh?

Thinking back to the `outrageous’ and `incriminating’ sexist remarks made by Trump, can you honestly say you’ve not heard something similar in your day to day life? Or better yet, experienced it first hand? Or perhaps you’re even a victim of it yourself, whether you’re a woman who aims to be seen as sexy or you’re a man who’s consciously or subconsciously placed judgment upon a woman based on her sexual appeal. 

When you think about it like this, its plain to see that Trump himself is not sexist. At least, I don’t think he is. I don’t believe he was born with these sexist tendencies, nor is it likely that he was raised by his parents to have sexist views. No, Trump is not sexist, he’s simply a product of our inherently sexist society.

The only difference between Trump and the rest of us is that the powerful platform on which he stands demands that he not be outspoken about his sexual views.

You’d be forgiven for thinking I am myself, a Trump supporter. I am not, in fact I am far from it. But I am acutely aware of the many ways in which the media can twist and turn on its subjects in order to create a certain way of thinking amongst us `ordinary’ people. And yet, those very people who, just like me, are angered at the comments made by Trump, have probably made similar comments on the female population themselves.

As for our newly elected president, I can only hope that he does some good in the world and brings about those changes that America so badly needs. And his sexual views towards women? Perhaps he’ll learn to keep ….

Like I said before, sex sells…..

Camp america: my experience

At the age of 18, after months and months (2 weeks) of endless revising (watching every episode of skins) and last-minute cramming (my face with skittles), I had finally finished my A-levels. Instead of spending a summer of not-so-summary weather in the UK, I decided that this year I would do something a bit different. And so, after hours of trawling the internet for some low-budget adventures, I decided to apply for Camp America.

For those of you who don’t know, Camp America is basically a programme that allows people from all over the world to work in various parts of America for a few months, usually in youth care positions. I worked for a company called CCUSA and was placed in the state of Minnesota for 3 months, where I worked with disabled adults and children. Here’s a few things I learnt from my experience at camp:  

Be prepared to work hard:

Before embarking on my long-haul flight to the U S of A, my contract was conveniently delivered to me via le postman to be signed and sent back. Now, originally this contract stated that my working hours would be from 9am-6pm every day with Friday afternoons until Sunday mornings off. But this was definitely not the case. In reality there were days when I was up at 6am trying to stop hyperactive children from covering every piece of furniture in our cabin with toothpaste. And some nights I wouldn’t go to bed until 12 because aforementioned hyperactive child had decided to eat every tube of toothpaste and was now chundering all over himself and his best mate. I’m going to be honest, it was tiring and I really did not get enough sleep but when you see how much fun these kids are having and watch them slowly overcome their shyness, you know it was all worth it. 

Comfort zones don’t exist:

Seriously, they really don’t. I was dressing, bathing and cleaning funky-coloured vomit off of these kids which at first caused me to have a minor melt-down and wash my hands 10 times a day. I was also accommodated in a ‘cabin’ with at least 4 other other members of staff, with whom I  shared a bedroom, bathroom and practically every minute of my day with. But ultimately, those members of staff became my closest friends and my go-to when things got a bit too tough/a kid superglued a paper cup to my head. By the end of my time at camp, not only had I pushed myself beyond my original comfort-zones and made an amazing group of friends from all over the world but I had also learnt the importance of carrying a constant supply of anti-bacterial hand gel with you wherever you go.

Where the hell am I?

My camp in Minnesota could only be described as something out of the Texas chainsaw massacre, set in no-mans land. The closest building that resembled life outside of camp was a burger bar which was a 40 minute walk away and contributed to a 10 pound weight gain for me and most of my other co-workers. Most camps are situated in quiet, deserted areas with little to nothing else surrounding them. At first, this was definitely a bit of a shock to the system and left me wondering what the hell I was going to do on evenings and weekends. However over time, playing cards and nail polish became our source of entertainment in the evenings whilst the local Americans showed us what it’s like to get seriously drunk and party like a college freshman on the weekends. In fact, I can still here the chants of ‘KEG STAND, KEG STAND?!’ whilst I simultaneously threw up in a nearby fish pond.

Man vs Food:

Putting it bluntly, camp food is kinda shi**y. If you’re one of those lucky/blessed/non-human creatures who can devour a whole order of dominoes pizza with sides and still not gain a single pound then you’ll probably be in junk food heaven. If, however you are like me and miraculously gain 5 pounds just by smelling said pizza, then you’ll soon be desperately crying out for some good old leafy greens. American’s are renowned for their not-so-healthy food choices and camp was no different, my diet mainly consisted of burgers, fries, s’mores, reese’s peanut butter cups, pizza, more burgers and erm… s’mores. And yes, I did get fat. Although due to the country’s rising levels of obesity, I was still labelled by my American friends as teeny weeny…. so I kept shoving my face with s’mores. #YOLOuntilyougetdiabetes

No they’re not on crack, they’re just happy-go-lucky americans:

And finally, the thing that sticks out in my mind the most about camp america was the overwhelming feeling that everyone was secretly going breaking bad on this s***. FYI, they’re not. They just start off their day with a cup of coffee strong enough to kill a small horse and half a box of sugar-loaded fruit loops before slapping on a smile and praising jesus for this beautiful day. Be prepared to adopt a hap-hap-happy outlook on even the most mediocre tasks. You will be expected to sing along to camp songs (many of which are religious) by the fire at night, take part in cringe-worthy camp activities and you will most likely have at least one camper who decides that 3am in the morning is the perfect occasion to begin learning the entire routine to Beyonce’s ‘single ladies’. Learning to smile through it all, even when you’re slowly dying of sleep-deprivation on the inside, will be the one thing that keeps you going, as will seeing everyone else smile too.

Although my experience at camp america was slightly overwhelming at times and definitely pushed me beyond my comfort-zone, I am so glad I did it. Not only did I make some amazing life-long friends from all over the world but I changed and grew as a person, learning to be more patient, positive and more compassionate to others. So if you’re thinking of applying to Camp America,  I would highly recommend it 🙂