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Tuesday PlayGround-up: Everything you need to read on April 17

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Kendrick Lamar becomes first rapper to win the Pulitzer Prize, Trump's lawyer is in troubled waters, and why former Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon is shaking up New York politics

Anna Freeman

17 Abril 2018 16:36

Hello, this is Anna breaking down today's news and best reads into easily-digestible chunks.

Today's headlines

Kendrick Lamar makes history

Kendrick Lamar has made history by becoming the first rapper to win the incredibly ‘high culture’ Pulitzer Prize for music - an award usually reserved for the classical and jazz musicians among us. After Beyoncé smashed the stage at Coachella last weekend as the first black female headliner, this win for Lamar feels significant; pivotal. Lamar’s musical lexicon traverses through weighty issues relating to the African-American experience: criminal injustice, police brutality, segregation, slavery, and the dizzying levels of inequality in the US. His album, ‘DAMN.’, for which he won the Pulitzer, is a journey through black America with a sharp articulateness only reserved for the greats. Although Lamar didn’t need a panel of (mainly white) judges to affirm his cultural value, we’re DAMN happy they did.

'Wonder drug'

Medical experts are hailing a new ‘wonder drug’ that could greatly improve the life expectancy for lung cancer sufferers, as well as other forms of cancer. Immunotherapy - which should be used alongside chemotherapy - builds up a patient’s immune system to kill malignant cells. The drugs cost more than $100,000 a year, can have serious side effects and roughly help only half of patients, but when they do work the results can be long-lasting and life-changing.

Kidnapped by North Korea

Choi Eun-hee has had a more tumultuous life than most of us could ever imagine, which came to an end on Monday at the age of 92. Originally from South Korea's Gyeonggi province, Choi enjoyed a successful acting Korea until she was kidnapped under the orders of then-leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il, in the late 1970s. Her ex-husband, a famous film director named Shin Sang-ok, was also abducted a few months later. The pair worked in the North for eight years, starring in a number of propaganda blockbusters, before eventually escaping while promoting their films in Vienna, Austria. Following a stay of political asylum, they returned to South Korea, with Shin dying in 2006, and Choi dying yesterday while receiving kidney dialysis.

If you want to learn more about Choi and Shin’s incredible life as North Korean creative prisoners, watch Storyville’s documentary The Lovers and the Despot.

In troubled waters


Conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity is the subject of worldwide speculation after he was revealed to be the third mystery client of Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen. A devotee to the Trump camp, Hannity had never previously disclosed that he had any ties to the president’s lawyer. A New York judge ruled on Monday, however, that Cohen must disclose his links to Hannity after FBI agents raided his property and office looking for evidence on various legal matters. Cohen had attempted to block prosecutors from reviewing the materials seized by the FBI in court, arguing that it breached client-lawyer confidentiality, but a judge denied his case.

A stain on British leadership

The UK government should hang their heads in shame. As the windrush scandal deepens - with prime minister Theresa May making a U-turn on cruel policies that vilify and threaten British commonwealth citizens with deportation - a 2013 leaflet for people they intend on unfairly expelling from the country has caused even more outrage. The guide, which was created while May was home secretary, offers a list of dos and don’ts for people being deported to Jamaica, including the tip: ‘Try to be “Jamaican” – use local accents and dialect’. As MP David Lammy points out in The Guardian, ‘How exactly can someone pretend to ‘be Jamaican’ when they are British and have lived here all their lives?’

What PlayGround+ is talking about today - the good, the bad, and the ugly

Must-read: Al Jazeera’s poignant piece about two rape cases that have shaken India is fundamental to understanding the vast country’s battle with toxic masculinity, rape culture and religious tensions.

In-depth: Jessica Pressler’s punctuating-detailed profile on Cynthia Nixon for The Cut is well worth a read. It explores her somewhat scoffed-at decision to quit the New York City life and get her hands dirty in politics by running for city governor.

Culture vulture: This opinion piece about the cultural relevance of Love, Simon, a film about a young gay teen’s journey navigating his sexuality, expertly convinces us that pop culture can be completely transformative. Teo van den Broeke, British GQ’s style and grooming director, writes about putting LGBT stories in focus and recalls his own ‘coming out’ story.

Celebrity fix: Khloe Kardashian has announced the name of her baby girl… True Thompson. ‘Our little girl, True Thompson, has completely stolen our hearts and we are overwhelmed with LOVE. Such a blessing to welcome this angel into the family! Mommy and Daddy loooooove you True!’, she wrote on Instagram. Although the state of Khloe and her partner Tristan Thompson’s relationship is unknown following accusations that the NBA player had cheated, we, for one, couldn’t be happier for them.

Today’s WTF news: A man claims that he has turned gay because of painkillers he had been taking. 23-year-old Scott Purdy started taking the drug after breaking his foot and soon lost his sexual attraction to women. He broke up with his girlfriend of six months and said that he had developed an attraction to men.

For a laugh: A five-story mural of a blue penis painted on a Stockholm apartment building will be covered up because, for some reason, locals don’t like it. The street art piece, by artist Carolina Falkholt, lasted only a week before neighbours began to take action.

Wow factor: Scientists have accidentally created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling the full recycling of bottles. A team of Japanese researchers discovered a bacteria that can break the molecular bonds of one of the world’s most-used plastics - polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or polyester.

Out of the echo chamber: ​​​​​​Leave your bubble behind for a moment and read this Fox News piece about why Syrian airstrikes are ‘completely legal and utterly moral’. And why Trump - according to Robert Charles - was exceptionally well-grounded.

But you can also read our take on Syrian airstrikes here as a point of comparison.

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