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The Speed Read – From A* to no stars

This week, we scour the world to bring you an overview of the biggest news stories, whether they’re worthy of an A* or are simply ungradable.

Blog date

17.08.2018

Author

The Friday Speed Read

As the usual writer of the Speed Read has been away gallivanting across France – presumably looking for a post-Brexit home for next year whilst consuming cheese and wine – this week’s edition is brought to you by someone just about young enough to remember his own A-level results day. As such, there really is only one place to start this week…

Yesterday was the much-anticipated day, where swarms of 18-year olds discovered if the blood, sweat and tears they’ve put into their education has been enough to get them into their first-choice university. Unsurprisingly, it’s a stressful day for even the most confident of students with the c-word (clearing of course) hoping to be avoided where possible. However, once again students across the UK came out of the whole experience shining – the number of teens securing top grades has increased again, with more than a quarter of all results being either A* or A grades.

Yet as with all happy positive British news, the media outlets couldn’t bring just themselves to congratulate another great generation of students heading to university to start the next chapter of their lives! In typical Daily Mail style, the paper ran with ‘Whatever happened to tougher A-levels’, lauding exam boards for making exams too easy, while focusing on elite universities that are asking for “just” C-grades as an entry requirement. I am pretty certain I remember similar articles being run ten years ago when I got my A-level results. Well done to the Daily Mail; you get an F for originality from me.

This week’s news agenda has also been driven by the tragic bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy, which has currently taken the lives of at least 39 people, with a further 20 people still unaccounted for. Although the official cause of the collapse is yet to be released, The Sun has gained access to shocking images that seem to back up allegations of the business responsible for the bridge cutting corners in its construction and maintenance. It appears as if the concrete support that bore most of the pressure for keeping the bridge safe for the 25 million vehicles that passed over it every year was chipped away at to ensure it didn’t encroach on surrounding properties. The firm responsible has been told to rebuild the bridge at its own cost but locals are rightly outraged, calling for the guilty to be held accountable for the disaster.  Our thoughts are with those affected by what would seem to be an avoidable disaster.

Sadly, this week also marked the passing of one of the most influential musicians of all time, Aretha Franklin. Cited as having “one of the most distinctive and influential voices in the history of popular music” in a touching BBC News Online obituary, the media was awash with tributes from the likes of Barack Obama, Paul McCartney and Elton John. Aside from her musical influence, she was also viewed as a central voice in the fight for racial justice, with the American Civil Liberties Union saying Aretha made sure “black women wouldn’t be ignored.” Respect!

However, not everyone hit the right note and one Tweet in particular left people scratching their heads. Donald Trump shared his own tribute at a White House Cabinet meeting but offended many by focusing on self-promotion – describing the singer as a woman who “worked for me”. I guess if there’s anyone that can get a tribute to the Queen of Soul so wrong, it would be the man without one.

Back to the UK now where it’s been a very busy week in the world of sport, mostly away from the pitch. Fresh off the back of Ben Stokes being found not guilty of affray, England Rugby Union international Danny Cipriani decided to show that the game isn’t solely played by gentlemen, assaulting a female police officer during a night out in Jersey. Cipriani has been fined £2,000 and was ordered to pay £250 compensation to the police officer in question – for a player who once demanded £400,000 a year in wages that’s really going to hurt (or not!). The Sun stepped up to the plate to win headline of the week here though – ‘What a nasty rugger’. A* for you.

House of Fraser has had an even worse week, to put it lightly. It has announced that it will be cancelling all online orders and refunding its customers following the revelation that it owes its warehouse operator more than £30 million. Similarly, administrators have revealed that House of Fraser also owes suppliers a shocking £753 million, yet its new owner, Sports Direct, won’t be repaying this debt. The website is currently offline and exactly how this will play out over the coming days and weeks is hard to tell. It would certainly leave a big hole in the high street if the worst was to happen.

As the weekend is almost upon us, it would be remiss for there not to be research released telling us exactly what we should and shouldn’t be eating. Today is no different – The Guardian has covered a new study which amalgamates the findings of eight separate reports to reveal low and high carb diets can raise the likelihood of an early death. Definitely worth keeping in mind before you order that takeaway tonight, or starting up on one of the many popular no-carb diets.

Last and by all means least this week is the start of Celebrity Big Brother, which is somehow in its 22nd series in the UK alone. Despite rumours of Stormy Daniels, the adult entertainment star currently embroiled in a legal battle with Donald Trump, entering the house, viewers were treated to a tepid drizzle of so-called celebrities instead. The biggest names (I use that term in the loosest way possible) are arguably Ryan Thomas, of Coronation Street fame, and Jermaine Pennant, an ex-Arsenal and Liverpool footballer who owns the distinction of being the first footballer to play a Premier League game wearing an electronic tag. Maybe changing the theme song to “Who Are You” by The Who would be more fitting.

So that’s it for another week but there’s only one way to sign off – enjoy this outstanding performance by the one and only, Aretha Franklin – RIP.

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