Friday High Five: Bulletproof Schools, Cat Cafes and Springsteen

Australia’s first cat cafe to open

In Japan, cat cafes - where you pay to eat coffee and cake, but visit to be in the presence of cats - are a phenomenon. And Australia is about to get its first, in the hipster mecca of Melbourne. Why are these cafes so popular … and what does it say about the insecurity of our times that we want one here?

Image: SBS online

Image: SBS online

How Ronald Reagan politicised Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA turns 30 this week. Politico looks at the history of the album being co-opted by political figures for their own purposes, from Ronald Reagan to John Kerry. And he traces how Reagan’s name-checking of Springsteen and his ‘songs of hope’ turned the singer from a fairly apolitical non-voter who championed the working-class to someone who openly acknowledged the political roots of his songs, and put out tables for local charities at his performances.

Above: The video for Born in the USA.

Women in Writing Manifesto

At last week’s Emerging Writers Festival, there was a series of closed industry forums designed to brainstorm concrete ways to work towards change. One of them focused on women in writing and publishing, and the resulting Women in Writing Manifesto has just been published on the Emerging Writers Festival website. It’s well worth a look.

Guardian uncovers slavery ring behind prawn supply to global supermarkets

A six-month investigation by the Guardian has uncovered a slavery ring in Thailand connected to the harvesting of prawns for sale to US and UK supermarkets, with slaves forced to work for years on boats with no pay, ‘under threat of extreme violence’. The conditions described to the Guardian included ‘20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings’, as well as the supply of methamphetamines to keep them going.

Bulletproof blankets to guard in school shootings

The $1000 Bodyguard Blanket is the latest product to be marketed at school students in the US, where there have been 74 school shootings since the shooting in Newtown in 2012. The idea, according to the manufacturer, is that the blankets can be stored in classrooms and pulled out at short notice in the case of an incident. Bulletproof backpacks, jackets and whiteboards already exist.

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