Writers: Atiya Chowdhury, Julie Ngalle
Have the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Fire Brigades Union agreed on the re-evaluation of Scottish firemen’s role?
Last year, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) announced a proposal to broaden firemen’s role in supporting vulnerable people. This meant being able to assist with and increase their involvement and training for out of hospital situations. These changes implied the firemen would become co-respondents when it came to life-threatening injuries and accidents.
Even though the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have accepted to consider this project and been very open to negotiation, this week, a pay deal proposed by the SFRS was rejected for the second time. The goal was to motivate firefighters to take on their new responsibilities and role through a pay-raise. Unfortunately, this pay deal was rejected for the very simple reason that the FBU did not agree with the additions to the role the deal would encompass. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack explained that, although he is willing to broaden firemen’s responsibilities, who are technically also emergency responders, they should nevertheless not be considered “substitutes to social care staff.” It therefore looks like negotiations surrounding the re-evaluation of firemen’s mission in Scotland will continue for a while.
What did the Welsh government have to say about the UK government’s priorities in their Brexit negotiations?
As we all know, last December, the Conservatives came victorious in the General Election. And as promised in their manifesto, Brexit was officially announced to be happening on the 31st of January. We have since then entered a transition period full of negotiations between all countries involved, in the UK and in the EU.
However, Wales has manifested reservation when it comes to the agreements that are being made between the EU and the UK. The government this week made it very clear, after the UK government published a 30-page document outlining priorities and goals for the negotiations, that they would not support any UK-EU deal and decision that affected Wales, its economy and citizens negatively. First Minister Mark Drakeford even explained, in a speech given on Thursday 27th of February, that the UK government should not expect Wales to “simply implement” deals that could destroy some of their most lucrative industries The First Minister explained that so far, what this document had proved was that the UK was for now “putting ideology ahead of people’s livelihoods.” The fact that the negotiations are already causing so much debate in the very early stages simply goes to show yet again how complex and tiresome Brexit is going to be to put in place by December of this year.
What was the result of Harvey Weinstein’s trial?
Following the article by Ronan Farrow in 2017, which brought to light the decades of sexual assault on many women by the former film mogul, Harvey Weinstein, the case has finally reached a verdict as Weinstein faces incarceration for his crimes.
The article which was published in The New York Times held many allegations against the once-powerful film producer accusing him of rape and sexual assault. Among the many women who came forward were actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd. Many recounted similar experiences whereby the producer would make inappropriate sexual advances or invite them to his hotel room and, in the more grievous recounts, would rape them.
Since then, Weinstein has been faced with many re-surfacing sexual assault charges. In May 2018, he was indicted by a grand jury in New York on the grounds of rape and criminal sexual acts. However, the producer pleaded not guilty despite the growing amounts of charges being built against him.
The trials began in January 2020 and after a five-day-long deliberation, the jury found Weinstein guilty for a criminal sexual act in the first degree and third-degree rape in February 2020. The 67-year-old, who once dominated the film industry, was found guilty for sexually assaulting the former production assistant, Mimi Haleyi, in 2006 and for the rape of Jessica Mann in 2013.
Despite being cleared for the other copious amounts of serious sexual assault and rape allegations, Weinstein will face up to 25 years in prison.
Although this is a significant win for the MeToo movement, it’s important to remember that Weinstein is the exception, not the rule. Many of those accused of sexual assault still roam free, and will never face any consequences for their despicable actions. This was notably exemplified by Roman Polanski, who was accused of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl, winning the Best Direction award at the Césars, the French Oscars, on 28th of February. Whilst a few actresses walked out in protest, the majority of the audience remained seated, symbols of the culture of silence and enabling that protects assaulters.
What caused the Delhi protests?
An ongoing feud between Muslim and Hindu groups in India has recently seen its most violent outbreak yet as 13 were killed in a riot in New Delhi on 23rd of February. The violence was mainly targeted in Muslim-majority neighbourhoods as mosques were vandalised and invaded. The final death count, which included both Muslims and Hindus, was the result of people caught in crossfires as they were trying to escape.
The protests emerged after the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) last year. This bill grants citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from neighbouring Muslim-majority countries such as Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many deemed the CAA as anti-Muslim, the latest development in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to undermine the secular character of Indian society and to make Muslims second-class citizens. As a result, the bill has been met with pushback by Muslims as well as by students and other concerned citizens who are opposed to Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda.
Whilst the protests had been relatively peaceful until now, Donald Trump’s recent visit marked the beginning of the violent riots. During a press briefing, the president avoided the question regarding the riots, saying it was “up to India.” The Indian government has since then been under much scrutiny, not only for the passing of the CAA but for their lack of effective solutions to the riots, and have promised to increase the number of police officers on the streets, which could just lead to increased levels of violence given that the police force is government-controlled.