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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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

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.

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.