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We're living in a world where's there's a constant plethora of news – and it can be hard to stay on top of it all. Here, our 'News To Know' round-up has you covered, with our pick of six big and under-the-radar stories (so that you can breeze your way through any conversation at brunch this weekend)...
1) Filters have been banned in parts of America
Instagram users in Texas and Illinois were confused this week to discover certain filters were no longer available to them, after Meta (the company that owns the likes of IG and Facebook) removed them. Why? In a nutshell, both states have pretty strict biometric data laws (meaning laws relating to personal data, including the likes of facial recognition), and now a lawsuit has been filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Paxton is basically claiming that Meta are breaking Texas' Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act by learning people's faces without permission via filters, so Meta have scrapped them (probably temporarily) in both states as a precaution. So... no more hilarious dog ear clips, then?
2) Footballer Jake Daniels has come out as gay
Something that's pretty major given the sporting world's lack of LGBTQ+ role models. When speaking his truth, 17-year-old Jake who plays for Blackpool said, "I've known my whole life that I'm gay, and I now feel that I'm ready to come out and be myself. [Nobody should] have to change who [they] are just to fit in."
LGBTQ+ charity, Stonewall, who are supporting him, said: "We are proud that Jake has felt able to share his truth with the world. To come out publicly as the first openly gay player in men's professional football in the UK in the last 30 years takes courage."
3) The Queen made a surprise visit to open her namesake tube line
After months of ill health – which forced her to cancel several high-profile engagements at the last minute – the Queen made a surprise visit to Paddington station in London to open the Elizabeth Line (which will connect East to West London and beyond). Announcing the Monarch’s attendance at the opening, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said in a statement: "In a happy development, Her Majesty The Queen is attending today's event to mark the completion of the Elizabeth line."
At the opening, Her Majesty unveiled a plaque stating that she had “officially opened” the Elizabeth line, and spent about 10 minutes at the station – during which time she topped up an Oyster Card, much to the amusement of social media users. "Seeing the queen top up an oyster card has to be the funniest thing I’ve seen," one royal fan tweeted.
4) Rise in monkeypox cases in the UK reignites homophobic conversations
A total of 20 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the UK following an outbreak earlier this month. Monkeypox, according to the NHS, is a rare infection mainly spread by wild animals in parts of Africa. Symptoms include a high temperature, headache, muscle aches, swollen glands, shivering/chills and exhaustion. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said most cases in the UK are "mild" and that doses of the smallpox vaccine have been secured as a precaution, but most monkeypox cases will be mild enough to clear up on their own within a few weeks anyway.
However, the outbreak has caused a stir on social media, following claims by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) that a "a notable proportion" of the recent cases in the UK and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men. "Why are they specifying that most of the people with monkeypox are gay? That's homophobic, stigmatising and equivalent to labelling gay people," tweeted one person, as someone else said: "What is the medical significance of this info? They are a statistical sample of 9. Seems like a homophobic effort to associate gays with another virus."
5) 97 women to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment
After seeing the shock statistic via UN Women that 97% of women have been sexually harassed, founder Megan wanted to create a safe space for victims of harassment and abuse to share their experiences – and launched 97 Stories, with the first post on-site bravely detailing her own rape. Megan's plan is to now share the stories of 96 other survivors (with eight already live) to help others feel less alone.
"When I was struggling to explain to the people in my life what was going on with me [after my assault], I found that giving them a written explanation helped," she told Cosmopolitan UK. "Writing it also allowed me to condense a very complex situation and to process what had happened. Re-telling the same story was exhausting and writing saved me." Now, Megan is sourcing the stories of others through forums, in-person interactions and both on and offline support groups. "I'm posting a few stories every week; the topic can be heavy and challenging to read about. I don’t want it to be something people are forced to see [every day] but are still reminded about every so often, so as not to forget it's still an issue and still demands change."
Read 97 Stories here
6) A Tory MP has been accused of rape
A serving Conservative MP was arrested this week on suspicion of rape and sexual assault over allegations dating back to between 2002 and 2009. The man was later released on bail pending further police investigations and, although he has not been removed from his position as an MP, he has been told by the Conservative party not to attend Parliament.
The accused MP’s identity has not been revealed to the public, which has divided opinion – with some arguing that naming him is in the public's interest (pointing out it may enable other alleged victims to come forward) while others maintain the notion of 'innocent until proven guilty'. In response, Conservative minister Kit Malthouse said that naming the MP would "put enormous strain" on him, adding that: "There is a safeguarding and protection issues on both sides, victim and perpetrator."
For help with any of the issues discussed in this article, visit: Rape Crisis England & Wales, Rape Crisis Scotland, or Rape Crisis Northern Ireland. RASASC provides emotional and practical support for survivors, families and friends.
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