123. What’s Been Going On?

A general news update from L.E.P. *Sorry about the bad sound quality!*

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In this episode I let you know what’s been happening recently and look at some recent news stories.

*There is a sound quality problem with this episode. It’s recorded very quietly. Apologies for this. The next episode will be better.*

You can read the news stories from the newspaper below.

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News Stories
Here are the news stories I discuss in this episode

For those struggling with New Year diets, help is on its way – in the form of a fork that tells you when to stop eating. Designed to prevent users from gobbling down too much food, the HAPIfork monitors the number of times you take food off your plate, and vibrates if you’re doing it too often. Over several meals, as you learn to eat more slowly, the device gradually increases the amount of time allowed between mouthfuls, until it reaches the optimum gap of 10-15 seconds.

Tesco, after the beef burgers in its Everyday Value range were found to contain a significant amount of horse meat. The investigation – by Ireland’s Food Safety Authority – also found horse meat in products on sale at UK branches of Iceland.

The High Street, with the closure of Jessops, the photographic chain. Days later, HMV went into administration.

A Belgian woman who planned to drive 80km to Brussels ended up 1,450km away, after following her sat nav for two days across Europe. “I was distracted, so just kept on driving,” said Sabine Moreau, 67. “I saw all kinds of traffic signs, first in French, then in German and finally in Croatian.”

Long-standing fears about an invasion of a “killer” slug that devours crops, eats dead mammals and will even feast on dog faeces were justified last week, when the species – Arion vulgaris – was found in a UK garden for the first time, says BBC News online “The presence of this aggressive species is bad news,” said entomologist Dr John Bedford, who identified the Spanish slug in his garden on the outskirts of Norwich. He became suspicious about the slugs on account of their sheer number (Spanish slugs can lay 400 eggs a day, have few predators and can grow up to five inches long) and voracious eating habits: they ate a dead mouse, as well as a wide variety of plants in his garden. And this is just the beginning, warns Dr Bedford. Millions of eggs and baby slugs are likely to be buried under leaves, waiting to emerge in the spring.

Quentin Tarantino was on prickly form at last week’s London premiere of his new film, Django Unchained. Before appearing on the red carpet, the director sent an assistant out to request that he only be photographed from the front, to hide his big chin. “He will be very upset if anyone tries to photograph him from the side,” she warned. Earlier in the day, Tarantino had quarrelled with Channel 4’sKrishnan Guru-Murthy, after the interviewer asked him a question about the effects of screen violence. “I refuse your question. I’m not your slave and you’re not my master,” he snarled. “I’m shutting your butt down.”


To The Daily Telegraph
Abraham Lincoln was a racist who deliberately started a war that killed more than 650,000 people. He had no intention of freeing slaves, who freed themselves by fleeing to Unionist lines during a war that was going badly for the North and in which they became needed as recruits.
In September 1862, Lincoln’s preliminary emancipation proclamation declared that the South could keep its slaves if it returned to the Union. Slave holders in the four slave states fighting for the Union were given until 1900 to consider emancipating their slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation itself did not free a single slave, since it was limited to territory controlled by the Confederacy.

Until the day he died, Lincoln’s ideal solution to the problem of blacks was to “colonise” them back to Africa or the tropics. This was what he told a delegation of free blacks he summoned to the White House in the summer of 1863, when he stressed that the mere presence of blacks caused pain to white Americans. He eventually agreed to the 13th amendment, which freed all slaves.

Americans ignore all this since otherwise the history of the Civil War looks little better morally than the US’s treatment of blacks before and after. Steven Spielberg’s film sustains the myth that Lincoln redeemed the US’s racist past. He did not.
Alan Sked, professor of international history, London School of Economics

To The Daily Telegraph
Professor Alan Sked’s assertion that Abraham Lincoln “deliberately started a war that killed more than 650,000 people” is difficult to reconcile with the facts.

Perhaps it is being posited that by standing for election as president and then having the temerity to win that election, Lincoln started the war. In fact, the Confederates were much keener on war than Lincoln, because they arrogantly believed they would win it easily. Professor Sked states that Lincoln “eventually agreed to the 13th amendment which freed all slaves”. This gives the impression that Lincoln was reluctant to do so, whereas, of course, he was the main driving force behind Congress passing the law. His efforts to secure its passage are the basis of Steven Spielberg’s film.

Of course, Lincoln was not a saint but his views on the position and future of blacks in the US changed radically during the course of his presidency. He had to operate in the atmosphere of his time and in the framework of what was politically possible. His achievements need to be judged accordingly, and not condemned for failing to satisfy 21st century criteria.
David Cowell, Lincoln

David Bowie fans, with the surprise release of the singer-songwriter’s first single in ten years. Where Are We Now? – an elegiac track recalling his years in Berlin in the 1970s – shot straight to the top of the downloads charts. The last release from Bowie (pictured) was in 2003; the next year, he abandoned a tour after suffering a heart attack, and has rarely appeared in public since.