Animal-tested cosmetics banned throughout the EU

The 11th March 2013 saw the long fought for ban on the sale of cosmetics come into action. This includes all personal-care products. What’s more it does not matter where in the world the testing takes  place, no animal-tested cosmetic item or ingredients can be sold within the European Union (EU). Any tests that were being carried out have now been abandoned.

This ban has had a global effect: Even products that are tested and made outside the EU are now prohibited from our shelves. Prior to this ban, animal-testing for cosmetic purposes was illegal within the EU since 2009. However brands that condoned animal-testing still littered EU shelves. This includes brands such as L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, just to name a few.

It has taken over 20 years for this ban to come into action. Not only does this prevent further force-feeding and inhalation of chemicals that eventually leads to bleeding from every orifice.  Also hundreds of thousands of rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats have been rescued from laboratories.

One of the oldest arguments against animal testing was, what can non-human animal’s reaction to chemicals tell us about human reaction? After all our genetic makeup is hugely different. For instance rabbits usually show stronger reactions to chemicals in the eyes than humans do.

Well in the past few years there has been much investment in non-animal testing methods. Apparently, these are more advanced. This begs the question as to why these were not common practice sooner once these methods became available. Surprisingly the answer is not because they are more expensive. The non-animal testing methods are actually less expensive! These non-animal testing methods are thanks to donated human tissue. This offers more protection to humans since this will be a much more reliable indicator of any chemical or adverse effects. Manufactures can test on human tissue grown in the laboratory and use human skin cultures. Not only do these types of tests save animals from enduring a life of pain and suffering, they are also more accurate, produce results in less time and they cost less, which helps to keep consumer costs down too, so we hope. With this ban in action more companies will be forced to use these more ethical methods.

One example of these cutting-edge techniques includes in vitro – test tube – testing methods. Such as 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Photoxicity Assay. This gauges the potential toxicity of chemicals when they come into contact with sunlight, in order to assess sunlight-induced skin irritation.

A similar ban has been implemented in Israel and one is being considered in India. So the work isn’t over yet, as next on the list is a global ban.

See more at:
www.buav.org
www.huffingtonpost.co.uk

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THE DRESDEN DOLLS

 

Amanda Palmer
Singer, writer and pianist, enjoys meditation, and was born in 1976.

Brian Viglione
Drummer, active supporter of the LGBT community and was born in 1979.

 

The Dresden Dolls cannot be categorised musically, yet terms such as “theatrical rock”, “punk cabaret” and “manic-musical” have been used, this unique band formed in 2001 in Boston. The duo Amanda and Brian first met on Halloween 2000, and this is when they became the Dresden Dolls.

Two years after forming they created their debut in September 2003 by 8ft records, the bands personal label, then the same album was chosen by Roadrunner records the following year, to be released in the U.S and Japan.

Once signed with Roadrunner records the band had sold-out concerts in four continents! Where they performed at the worlds’ biggest festivals such as Glastonbury, Coachella and Rockide. Then released their second album “Yes, Virginia” in the spring of 2006.

There was more excitement to come as they were awaiting their premiere in 2007, for the original musical they wrote at the prestigious American Repertory Theatre. A live performance of the musical was released onto DVD in the summer of 2007.

Dresden dolls got their band name from the Eastern town of Germany: Dresden, which is renowned for its china, porcelain and the dolls they make from these. Dresden is also associated with firebombing that took place there near the end of WWII which levelled the whole city and destroyed its architectural beauty.

The Dresden Dolls recapitulated for you, it is time to move forward. While sounding similar to Revue Noir in their music. The lyrics unique, original as you can imagine, or not imagine. Brian plays his drums relentlessly with Amanda on keyboard using every ounce of her soul, and together they create a psychotic collage of music, if you never listen to them you will never see these colours.

Amanda from the Dresden Dolls was in the newspaper- The Guardian, of the UK this February 2009, after the Roadrunner records told her, her video for the song “Leeds United” needed to be edited. Too explicit you may think? Making light of taboo topics? No, well not this time! Apparently her stomach “didn’t look quite flat enough”. Amanda did not take offence, because at the end of the day the record was receiving publicity, and she knew she looked hot!

Amanda and Brain are currently working on their own projects, Amanda on her solo career as a singer, writer and pianist, and Brain in his new band as a drummer, guitarist and singer. Amanda’s most recent project is taking place in Lexington High school where she is working with 20 students to create and perform the play “with a needle that sings in her heart”, a performance about Anne Frank.

This is not the end of the Dresden Dolls as for now they are just “expanding their empire”.
http://www.dresdendolls.com/ 

The Dresden Dolls

Wordfest Revealed!

Introduction
I wrote this back in 2010 to publicise and inform readers of what exactly the event Wordfest was and still is. For the record, it does not parallel a gaming convention whereby the gamers are wannabe Countdown contestants playing Fridge Poetry.

Wordfest Revealed: An Interview with Helen Taylor

Wordfest has now reached its 7th year. I went to find out exactly what Wordfest is all about and why you should attend. Helen Taylor is Cambridgeshire County Council’s Literature Development Officer and is also part of the Advisory Group for Wordfest which includes programming, funding and planning which writers to bring together for the festival. Sitting in a canteen at Shire Hall I get the chance to talk with Helen Taylor.

What exactly is Wordfest?

It is a new breed of festival. Bringing together different types of people and writers in a variety of venues: The Fitzwilliam museum, ADC Theatre and local libraries get involved in this celebration of literature. It’s a festival of ideas and inspiration.

What have you enjoyed most about Wordfest?

The amazing things I have learnt. For instance, the illustrator Andy English, gained inspiration from the armoury room at the Fitzwilliam, specifically from the knight situated on a horse. You can see here [she points to page 34 of the programme- oh yes I can definitely see the resemblance] and it’s knowing things like this that you can’t get elsewhere which make it such an interesting festival. (English is appearing at this year’s Wordfest with Phillip Pullman, author of Northern Lights.)

What have you learned from your involvement?

People like the ownership of Wordfest. Many who have attended immediately want to know when the next one is, it seems to become an important part of their calendar. Also, the concept of subterranean book: the sell out of Chinese writer Xinran’s event revealed an underground movement of books, which must have been spread by word of mouth. One of the hardest things is writers cancelling at the last moment. Rageh Omaar, BBC foreign correspondent, cancelled the day before his planned event. So giving apologies to large groups of people and finding replacement writers at short notice was a major learning curve.

Who usually attends Wordfest?

With our diverse programme we are trying to attract a wide audience. I think that often people are under the impression that festival audiences are full of clever people, they are mistaken. Wordfest is a celebration of literature and so is for everyone.

How do you find people to fill up the programme?

We have programming meetings with the steering group, advisory group and discuss the balance of the programme: genre, different groups to represent, unusual combinations of writers, response to requests for writers. We emphasise to publishers, agents and writers that Wordfest is in a beautiful location with appreciative audiences and opportunities to meet other writers and be well looked after.

So, are the contributors usually well known or is Wordfest more of an opportunity for people with debut works?

Both! We have local, debut and popular authors, and even comedians. For instance we had Lord Giddens speaking about climate change from his book The Politics of Climate Change. And this year we have Hilary Mantel, which sold out within the first day, with her prize winning Wolf Hall and the comedian Jeremy Hardy.

Who is the most famous speaker you have had at Wordfest?

It’s hard to say who’s famous and who isn’t. It depends on what area of literature you’re looking at, as different readers are familiar with different writers. Philippa Pearce, Michael Morpurgo, PD James, Jacqueline Wilson and Carol Ann Duffy would all be contenders for this.

Is there any chance of signings?

Yes, after every event. This has proven to be one of the main pulls to the festival. Jacqueline Wilson, for instance, usually takes about 4 hours to do her signings! She talks to everyone who approaches her and she is a very warm-hearted woman.

I hear Wordfest is looking for volunteers, what are the benefits from being a volunteer?

Oh, loads! You get to see everyone and all for free! It involves attending lots of events and undertaking a variety of tasks: from greeting people and taking tickets to running around the corner to buy biscuits for the green room. It is an exciting and exhilarating experience and a good taste of what it takes to run a festival.

What do you think of the Oxford Literary Festival?

It’s a fantastic event and huge. I can’t say anything against the festival, my sister is friends with one of the organisers. Although, Oxford have a safety net for their funding, The Sunday Times sponsorship, something we do not have, however I feel this can make such a festival lose its personal touch.

Would you say it is suitable for students?

Yes. Wordfest is a manageable event because it all happens over a single weekend. Also it gives a definite taste of what’s going on in the world of literature and politics. There’s a panel of party leaders from Cambridge, everyone is welcome to come and ask questions, this year the focus is specifically on carbon emissions.

Are there any anecdotes you can tell us about previous Wordfests?

Oh let me think. When Michael Moore and Philippa Pearce spoke at Wordfest it was fantastic to see every nook and cranny filled. Also, Richard E. Grants’ performance was the funniest event I have seen at Wordfest, which I was surprised at, because on television he seems really serious but in person he was completely different. This taught me that seeing writers in person gives you a wonderful insight to their character and thoughts.

To view the programme, sign up for volunteering or just find out more visit the website

Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies (Book Review)

Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies

This highly detailed exploration of the history of grimoires leaves no stone left unturned as far as Egyptian, Christian, Jewish and Wiccan magic is concerned. As the title states this book only covers grimoires, so if you think you’re going to find the genesis of divinatory systems, such as tarot cards, you’re mistaken. Davies is predominantly concerned with ancient grimoires, for instance The Key of Solomon and the books of Moses, and how these continue to influence magical practices and written grimoires throughout the ages; leading up to the ubiquitous Book of Shadows.

The introduction is light in tone and explains how books can be magic without containing magic. This quickly changes as we enter the first chapter ‘Ancient and Medieval Grimoires’ which is dry but does bring up some interesting points, for example in Roman antiquity high-class prostitutes were literate and so could have written love magic and binding spells which would be highly useful for them. The second chapter describes how the printing industry, reformation and witch trials affected magical grimoires. Davies continues with the discussion of political socio-historical events such as the Enlightenment and significant people such as Delaurence, and then applies these to magical grimoires.

Davies sets out to and delivers a historical account of grimoires. Taking an objective view and explaining social context before delving into the grimoire, he provides his own criticism to the subject and draws upon many resources. However at times Davies is rather journalistic in his delivery as small parts read like a newspaper. Furthermore, some of the context he provides seems irrelevant for exploring grimoires.

Gay Marriage: A Fight Over Language and Religion

The internet is increasing with pages, campaigns and groups being made to support of the legalisation of gay marriage. This is to replace Civil Partnership which allows homosexual couples to have their relationship legally recognised, thanks to the Civil Partnership Act 2004. However the term “Civil Partnership” has developed an inferior status in comparison with the heterosexual “Civil Marriage”, but, for those who are not religious, Civil Partnership is synonymous with Gay Marriage. I will explain.

The majority of the differences between Civil Partnership and Civil Marriage actually allow the former additional choice in how the wedding is conducted, while “Marriage” is more constricted by institutional laws. For instance, the registration certificate does not need to be signed at the wedding and verbal exchange is not essential. This means a Civil Partnership wedding can be held in private and conducted in a manner that allows the couple to use originality and creativity which otherwise would not be possible.

The issue is religion. Civil Partnerships are prohibited to contain religious references; this includes readings, music and the premise in which it takes place. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 states “no religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document.” Consequently, Civil Partnerships are not recognised by the Church of England at this present time. This goes to show that even now, in a world dominated by science and technology the Church still has more power over society. Although rather than viewing this as a constriction to our freedom and rights, this can be seen as being free from the institution of the Church; so once again, the Civil Partnership wedding becomes less institutionalised and more personal. If one wishes to mention divinity in their wedding, it can be done with the mind, the heart and in prayer before and after the wedding. This shows real dedication and spirituality.

In spite of this current state of affairs “Partnership” when used in “Civil Partnership” is actually a religious term. This dates from Old English.

‘Partnership’ = ‘partner’ + ‘ship’

Since Old English ‘ship’ at the end of a word (suffix) means to ‘create’ or ‘ordain’ (‘ordain’ – to invest with holy meaning). In the context of a wedding the meaning is obviously ‘ordain’ as this is what the Civil Partnership registrar does. Therefore religious connotations are inherent in the meaning! So not only is it discrimination that gay couples cannot have an openly religious wedding ceremony, it is also a total contradiction.

However, come the end of the wedding the couple are not pronounced ‘husband and husband’ or ‘wife and wife’; instead the couple are pronounced ‘Civil Partners’. This assumes the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ belong solely to the concept of heterosexual marriage, but where is the evidence for this? Also Language continuously changes: Dictionaries do not dictate the language we use, it is the language that we use which is recorded in dictionaries. For instance look at how the meaning of ‘gay’ has changed over the years! Therefore there is no reason why the terms husband and wife should not be officially used by homosexual couples. Furthermore there is nothing to stop “Civil Partners” referring to their spouse as husband/wife. Nevertheless there is an exchange of names, and change of title for lesbian couples.

What it boils down to is allowing homosexual couples to have overtly religious ceremonies and to officially use the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. So, it may help if we are specific in our demands when campaigning to the authorities to recognise LGB rights. Until the government make those bureaucratic adjustments, in reality non-religious homosexual couples do indeed marry, it just comes under a different name. For religious couples we can make it religious ourselves and use the title of our choice.

I would love to hear readers views on this.

International Film Festival

International Film Festival

Written by Jenna Grabey

Another festival to choose Cambridge as its location is the International Super 8 Film Festival. In the greeting we were told “come see, have fun” and this set the mood for the festival. Dagie Brudert a German director presented her short films, all as premiers in the UK. There were an additional 20 film directors all presenting their films, some as UK premiers and others as world premieres. Furthermore, Super 8 can boast a possible first ever, all woman jury. So why is Super 8 popular among film makers? And what did Super 8 leave behind?

Short films of animation, comedy, documentary, drama, experimental and music entertained and was judged by the jury and the audience at the end of each day. The Boreal Forest Expedition, produced by N&L Bradford-Ewart, told the story of a family’s history, packed with emotion and pet Goffers. While Autophobia, produced by Paulo Abreu, was reminiscent of the Blair Witch, and The Eye you Lost in the Crusades, produced by Jay Eckensberger, what it lacked in plot it more than made up for in the emotional intensity it created between the viewers and the characters.

The Super 8 film makes films appear natural; we are not bombarded with special effects that leave us feeling we have just walked out of a light show. Despite the fact in modern society where in technology are forever seeking a smaller, easier and faster alternative; however Super 8’s naturalness makes it preferable to some film makers.

To find out some more information on this I spoke to Charlie Blackfield, the producer of the Clockwork Mouse films:

What are the main differences between Super 8 and digital film?

With Kodak film we use single frame recording for animation, you may have noticed a subtle graininess in the films (yes) this is something which isn’t done in digital recording but is taken advantage of in super 8 filming.

Are there any “hard-feelings” between super 8 film users and digital film users?

No. Not at all. In fact digital filming has helped Super 8 film users, like when we have to edit our films.

 

What do you think is in the future for Super 8?

Well, the popularity has recently picked up again, especially those in the art and experimental culture. It has been used in used in films like “The Doors” and “Natural Born Killers”.

Overall the Super 8 attracted children to the older generation, men and women and a diversity of nationalities. Peter, from Szeged bin, Hungary, an ex jury member who was also there to present films, commented that the Super 8 film festival is an excellent way to bring people together from all over the world, as film is something we can all share regardless of what language we speak.  Since it began in Madrid with Germany and Hungary showing a collection of Kodak films the festival has picked up international recognition and is becoming increasingly popular.

WHY PEOPLE FEAR THE INTRODUCTION OF GAY MARRIAGE

Understanding NOM/DOMA

This takes a look at the reasons why people do not feel comfortable supporting gay marriage, and while taking these into account I intend to expand and add to your views.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is against the idea of legalising gay marriage in the view that…

“Oppose any effort that would eliminate DOMA and its protections for state marriage laws all across the country.
Please drop the attack on DOMA and instead defend the rights of states to protect marriage yas the union of a husband and wife. Thank you for protecting DOMA!”

(National Organization for Marriage, 2011)

In their petition letter NOM are asking presidents to “protect marriage”. This implies these people view marriage as a commodity or as a possession which belongs only to heterosexuals. This then alludes to the idea that the marriage ritual forms part of the heterosexual identity since they wish for it to remain exclusive to them. However, a flaw in this line of thought is that some heterosexual couples even those who have been together for over a decade choose not to marry and yet they are in a heterosexual relationship and friends and acquaintances would be happy in the acknowledgment of this sexual preference, although this scenario is rather less common as opposed to long term partners who do marry. Thus marriage, for some, must be part of their sexual identity – it is their right as a heterosexual to be permitted to partake in this particular ritual.

What is the reasoning that only they are permitted? Well, the most common reasons people marry are that they choose to, a sign of their love one other, want a sign of their commitment to one another, want to announce their feelings to God (I use this term to refer to all figures of Divinity) or they wish to bring a child into the world and feel this would provide a more secure environment. All of these remain the same in Gay Marriage. However, the penultimate statement is slightly controversial, but this can easily be put to rest. This is because not all married heterosexual couples are religious and thus may not have a religious ceremony; so from this point on religion is not an issue. Moreover marriage is never a prerequisite for a stable family environment. I have heard the Holy Bible being used as an excuse not to tolerate homosexuals – apparently it’s just wrong, period. However marriage is an act – and linguistically speaking it is a ritual consisting of a series of speech acts – which is a sign of commitment and love between two people. Thus as this is a reason for some of the prejudice beliefs against gay marriage, surely then atheists should also not be allowed to legally marry.

More specifically many hold prejudice because they feel that homosexuality is unnatural. This is because the reason males and females are [meant to be] attracted to one another is because it is inherent in all of humanity that the imperative to reproduce, after all that is nature and that is what we are meant to do, supposedly. “We’re meant to have children so homosexuality is not natural” – is the crux of the argument. But sex can/is no longer be scrutinized in terms of functionality. Humans have sex for pleasure which is completely devoid of the function of reproduction. Therefore then gay sex cannot be judged in terms of functionality either. It is possible then that humanity has another function in this world other than to breed. If we did not then surely by now we would be like the male octopus that dies after impregnating a female octopus. Therefore using the “what’s natural” argument, whereby the logical premise would be that of ‘natural selection’ there must be further functions for humanity.

Stewardship is one possibility – which is very fitting with Christendom, being a parental figure to those in need who are already struggling on this planet – whether that be in adoption, bringing up and healing an abused child, saving someone’s life, dedication to charitable work. Example figures include Mother Teresa, Orang-utan Lady. These people helped our world to thrive without adding to the human population – rather they added quality of life to those alive then and now.

Furthermore there are plenty of heterosexual couples out there who do not have children out of choice. In such a situation what is the difference between a heterosexual couple and a homosexual couple? Both couples signify two loving married people whom of which have not propagated the species.

Emilie Autumn – Live Review

Emilie Autumn’s show wows at the Marlboro

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

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Emilie Autumn

Marlboro Club, Ilfracombe

  1. <P>Emilie Autumn</P>

    Emilie Autumn

     

Review by Jenna Grabey

SLOWLY but surely the black curtain began to flicker, and in a flash behind a translucent screen a tall figure holding a pirate sword moved in time to the dramatic music, then stepped down and acknowledged the crowd.

One by one, the other Bloody Crumpets dressed in various corsets, long and short tattered skirts and stripy suspenders, created a mesmerising silhouette behind the screen, adding something quite new to the world of burlesque.

Emilie Autumn then joined the Bloody Crumpets on stage who were all moving like wonderland puppets, each with their individual character. Straight away we knew we were in for a fantastic night.

The Victorian Burlesque band created this gothic circus filled with violin shredding, and classical music pin-pricked with the sound of metal and the essence of distortion, now known as VictorianIndustrial.

We knew we had arrived at the circus when one of the crumpets walked in on stilts, so high that she could not stand up straight! This was neatly sliced with the band talking with the audience.

After the band had said ‘thank-you’ and their good-byes the crowd screamed for more. To everyone’s delight they came back on stage – they not only performed one more song but three.

I can say that they are amazing performers as well as musicians.

Lesbian Burlesque Beauty Performance Poet

Literary Society: Lesbian Burlesque Beauty Performance Poet

Sophia BlackwellSophia Blackwell will be visiting Anglia Ruskin University as a guest to the Literary Society on 27th October 2010 at7.30pm. She’ll be performing poetry from her debut album ‘Into Temptation’, followed by a Q&A session.

Sophia has previously appeared at Glastonbury, The Pink Festival, Velvet London Burlesque and Swindon, Oxford and Wells Literature Festivals among others. Her poetry is a social commentary immersed in emotion and comedy, delivered in a vibrant manner. Amy Winehouse, Eminem and Lilly Allen are just a few of her contemporary influences, while Sylvia Plath, John Donne and Philip Larkin also continue to inspire her.

To give you a taster, here is a stanza from her poem ‘This is Not the Poem About You’:

“… I want to tell you now that even when I’m 92, and necking tesco value gin while bombing down the street, on a nifty tartan scooter, with my fags under the seat, teaching classical translations with sapphic implications in an all girls boarding school. This is something I still won’t do. I will never, write the poem, about you…”

[Edited from the original…]

If you wish to hear more of Sophia Blackwell’s work before the show you can find her at www.myspace.com/sophiablackwell.

Global Poverty Project

The Global Poverty Project Arrives in Cambridge

By Jenna Grabey

(Taken from www.apex-magazine.co.uk/2010/08/global-poverty-project/)

The global presentation, 1.4 Billion Reasons, was delivered by development advocate and student Hugh Evans at the Corn Exchange. He believes we can end poverty in our lifetime. The Global Poverty Project works to instil a connection in people so we can strive to eradicate the poverty that is destroying so many people in our world. They do this by communicating why poverty persists, what has been done and what needs to be done. Professor Christopher Dobson, Master of St John’s College, welcomed us and stated, “Impact has already been felt around the world” from this student led campaign, and that, “poverty is the modern form of slavery”.

Poverty is living on less than $1.25 per day. Many believe it is cheaper to live in developing countries, but research shows otherwise. In Indonesia this would buy 2 bowls of rice with vegetables with 10 cents left over to pay for bills, school, medicine and water. Education is crucial; without educated people the government will not be made to account for their actions. A generic look at poverty shows it is decreasing, however in Sub-Suharan Africa and Asia there has been an increase in poverty since 1981.

Ideas about how to eradicate poverty from the audience included importing only ethical goods. Valuing what is important – food not fast cars and wasting less food; as we found out later the UK throws away £10 billion per year.
The goals of the Global Poverty Project are to eradicate hunger – communities have elevated from hunger by farming their land. 99% of women who die during childbirth lived in the developing world, and so another goal is to improve maternal health. If London escaped from Cholera then developing countries can too, giving rise to combating disease. Progress is being made despite the collapsed medical infrastructure of developing countries, especially with HIV in Zimbabwe. Hairdressers are being trained as HIV educators funded by the department of international development. Therefore when people visit the hairdressers they will not only get the latest hairstyle, but will also be educated on HIV prevention. The feature film that was intermittently played throughout showed Gordon Brown stating there had been a debt relief of $100 billion which has gone towards vaccinations and building schools. The Global Poverty Project hopes to continue this goal of establishing global partnership for development until this has been achieved.

The barriers to ending poverty are many, but to name one – corruption. Teodorin Oblang who lives in a $21,000,000 mansion yet earns just over $2000 per month, as he treats oil revenues like his own property. This is one of too many examples of money from corrupt sources. Global income has tripled in recent years, whereas poverty has only halved. To name another – lack of resources. Natural resources are rapidly depleting, but there is aid – good aid and bad aid. Bad aid happened during the Tsunami when vast amounts of clothes were sent but they had no clean water, however good aid is aid that helps development for the long-term.

This matters to us because conflict, climate change and disease affect the whole world. If you would like to help this cause, there are many ways to get involved such as volunteer work where you can have an impact working in Cambridge, joining panel debates and buying fairtrade products. There may be a lot of statistics here, but as Hugh said, “these statistics have a human face”.

For more information on the project, or volunteering, visit:

www.globalpovertyproject.com or some of their partners at:
www.humanitariancentre.org
www.ewb-uk.org
www.cuamnesty.org.uk