CARDIFF'S STUDENT WEEKLY
Inside this week...
fashion prepare you for the party season film review Cardiff soundtrack festival music pick their album of 2009
freeword - EST. 1972
ISSUE 912 DECEMBER 07 2009
Politics get cheeky with MP Lembit Opik, page 16
Gherkin' off Rugby team investigated for violating health and safety rules Emma McFarnon News Editor An investigation is underway after members of the engineering rugby team supposedly caught food poisoning after they ate gherkins that had been inserted into their anuses during an initiation. The Council's Communicable Disease team is looking into the incident, which took place on November 11. The initiation, which began at Roath Rec and finished at The Lash, involved ENGIN rugby team members taking part in what the Facebook event page described as "gruelling challenges" that tested "Strength of Stamina”, "Strength of Character" and "Strength of Stomach". The team members were encouraged to lick milk up off a muddy floor and eat gherkins that had been inserted into fellow team member’s bottoms. The players involved are rumoured to have developed food poisoning as a result of the antics. The Facebook initiation event page urged members to "check out photos of the last two years", which depict a player inserting an egg into his bot-
tom, and another revealing his penis to the camera. Photos of team members inserting toilet paper into their backsides and then setting fire to it (right) can also be seen. None of the team members were available for comment when contacted by gair rhydd. Olly Birrell, Athletic Union President, said: “The Engineering rugby team is not recognised by the University or the Athletic Union as an associated club and we have not been made aware of the incident.” Cardiff County Council’s Marketing and Communications Officer, Elaine Cripps, said: “I can confirm the Council's Communicable Disease team are investigating the issue. I am unable to provide any further details until the investigation has been concluded.” She went on to say that the investigation is ongoing and that more information might be available at a later date.
EDITOR Emma Jones DEPUTY EDITOR Simon Lucey CO-ORDINATOR Elaine Morgan SUB EDITOR Sarah Powell NEWS Ceri Isfryn Gareth Ludkin Emma McFarnon Jamie Thunder FEATURES Daniella Graham Robin Morgan OPINION Oli Franklin Paul Stollery POLITICS Damian Fantato COLUMNISTS Tim Hart Oli Franklin LISTINGS Steve Beynon Ed Bovingdon TAF-OD Nia Gwawr Williams Branwen Mathias Cadi Mai SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT Amy Hall Priya Raj JOBS & MONEY Katie Greenway SPORT Jon Evans James Hinks Adam Horne Lucy Morgan Robbie Wells CONTRIBUTORS Morgan Applegarth Mark Careless Lauren Cowie Gwennan Evans Jonathan Evans Katie Greenway Rachel Henson Ellie Jackson Ayushman Jamwal Fraser Lewis Stephane Planel Priya Raj Edmund Schluessel Omar Shamayleh Steffan Shaw Jasmin Skelly Billy Stephenson Chris Tarquini Sarah Vaughan
gairrhydd | NEWS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Rugby player cleared of assault Student accused of inflicting GBH walks free... Emma McFarnon News Editor
A Cardiff University rugby player has been cleared of assaulting the hockey team captain, after he was accused of breaking his nose and urinating on his leg in The Taf last year. Third-year student, Michael Winter, appeared in court this week facing charges of inflicting grievous bodily harm on David Ruddock, who he allegedly picked off the ground and head-butted after a dispute in the union bar last year. The incident kicked off after the two teams had a small argument, in which Winter was teased for a losing streak and the hockey team, who were taking part in pub-golf, were told the sport was “for girls”. “At first it was just light-hearted banter, nothing malicious,” Ruddock told Cardiff Crown Court. He said he walked away but returned to the rugby group twice, wanting to sort out the conflict before they all moved on from the Taf to another club. “The rugby boys like sticking to-
gether and the hockey club do too so I wanted to smooth things out. I didn’t want it developing into a rugby v hockey skirmish later on,” he added. Ruddock said that when he went over to the rugby boys for the second time, he felt something warm and wet on his leg as he talked to them, and saw that Winter had his trousers open and was urinating over him. “Then it started to get personal and I must have done or said something because I suddenly felt a glancing blow to my right cheek,” he said. Ruddock claims that he was knocked out by the blow and woke up with medical students around him who were covered in his blood. Winter told police when he was arrested in January - two months after the incident - that the only liquid running down Ruddock’s leg had been a spilt drink and while he had caused the injury, it had not been deliberate. Throughout the trial he denied inflicting grievous bodily harm. However, Ruddock insisted: “It wasn’t an accidental clash of heads, it was a deliberate clash of his head on my nose, which just collapsed because of the way he struck me. There is absolutely no way that he was fall-
ing at the time. We were holding on to each other and he lifted me up towards him as his head came down.” Ruddock later had to have an operation to reset his nose and said one nostril was still partially obstructed a year after the incident. Summing up the case to the jury, Mr Justice Davis reminded them that although Mr Winter left the Students’ Union building immediately afterwards, he said the reason was not because he had done anything wrong but only so that matters did not escalate. During the trial the High Court
judge told the jurors: “If the prosecution have made you sure that he deliberately head butted Mr Ruddock you will convict him. “If you think there is a possibility it may have been an accident, you will acquit.” They were in retirement for less than an hour before returning a unanimous not guilty verdict. A University spokesman said: “The University is unable to comment on this incident. It is a police matter which has been dealt with by the courts.”
RAID festival a fantastic success Gareth Ludkin News Editor Last Monday night, RAID, Cardiff University’s very own charity festival, raised over £400 for AIDS and HIV charities across the world. The annual event, which raises awareness for Worlds AIDS day, on December 1, was once again a great success. Stalls, dancing, art, graffiti, music and comedy were among the highlights. Numerous societies were involved in making the event a success, providing informative stalls, games and events. Cardiff’s ShAg, Fashion, Hitch and
Stop Aids society were also present, along with the Terrance Higgins Trust and Gum Clinic who provided informative stalls. The Comedy society provided entertainment alongside musical performances from Threatmantics, Silver Gospel Runners and Jimi Alexander and the Satellites. DJs Jumbo Cruiser and Indy Blu, Emma West, and the Vinyl Vendettas also provided entertainment accompanied by the Funky Arse Dancers and the Breaking society. This year, the event raised £400 for the Rural Welfare Organisation, an AVERT community partner in Tamil Nadu, India, and a further £284 for the various charity stalls.
Kate Kellaway-Moore, president of Cardiff Stop Aids society, and one of the organisers of the event, was over the moon with the success of the event. She said: "RAID Festival was a fantastic way to highlight the importance of World AIDS day, as well as to showcase the amazing student-based charities that we have in the Students Union. “Everyone came together to enjoy great music, dance, photography, art and to raise lots of money for HIV charities. “The RAID organisers could not have asked for a more successful night, so well done to everyone that took part."
Alongside the RAID event last week, a new society at Cardiff University, Africa Health Links, did their bit to raise awareness for World AIDS day. Dina Pitrola, chair of the African Health Links society said: “We ran a campaign to raise awareness about AIDS and encourage people to spend a couple of minutes thinking about AIDS and personalise a strip of red paper for a collage. “Considering we are only a new society and the committee at the moment is very small, we had a fantastic response.” The society raised £60 to help support the work of small, locally run African charities.
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RAID FESTIVAL: A few of the stalls at the event
NEWS 1 EDITORIAL & OPINION 8 COLUMNIST 11 FEATURES 13 POLITICS 16 LETTERS 19 SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT 21 JOBS & MONEY 22 LISTINGS 24 FIVE MINUTE FUN 27 SPORT 28
gairrhydd | NEWS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
outlines Accommodation increases revealed WAG future of Welsh
gair rhydd shows how much more you're paying for residences than you would have four years ago Jamie Thunder News Editor The cost of living in some University residences has increased at three times the rate the maintenance loan has over the last five academic years, a gair rhydd investigation has found. Some students are paying 40% more for a year’s accommodation than those who lived in the same room four years ago. Ten out of the 16 University residences we studied raised their fees by 30% or more since 2005/6, and three more went up by between 20% and 30%. In contrast, the non-means-tested maintenance loan for students from England over the period increased by just 13.32%, from £3,145 in 2005/6 to £3,564 for students who started last September. For Welsh students it was 13.16%, from £3,145 to £3,559. gair rhydd looked at accommodation fees from 2005/6 onwards for Senghennydd Court, Talybont North, Talybont South, Aberconway Hall, Aberdare Hall, Colum Hall, Roy Jenkins Hall, Gordon Hall, Senghennydd Hall, and Cartwright Court flats and houses, as well as the University’s student houses. There were three different prices for Talybont North (houses A-R rooms 1-5; houses A-R room 6; and houses S-Y), two for Talybont South (standard and Undergraduate Plus), two for Cartwright Court (flat or house) and two for Gordon Hall (shared bath-
room or ensuite). University Hall was left out of the analysis because changes made to the pricing of different rooms meant we could not compare costs across years. We also did not include rates for rooms that covered a full calendar rather than an academic year. A year’s residence in Colum Hall in 2009/10 cost £871 more than four years ago, a hike of 40.28%. Fees for Roy Jenkins Hall went up over the same period by 39.65%, or £704, while students in any of the Talybont North flats are paying over a third more than they would have in 2005/6. Had Colum Hall’s increases matched those of the minimum loans, this year’s residents would have paid around £2,430. Instead they paid £3,016. Senghennydd Court, Roy Jenkins Hall, and Aberconway Hall all cost at least 30% more than they did four years ago, as did Aberdare Hall. Students in Aberdare Hall this year are paying nearly a fifth more than last year’s residents. The cost of a year’s accommodation in the female-only hall increased by £422 from 2008/9, a rise of 19.51%. Undergraduates studying at Cardiff who are from lower-income backgrounds have seen the money they have for maintenance increase considerably over the period, largely due to the bursary scheme introduced in 2007/8. This means that they have been less affected by the accommodation increases. Some of the increase in accom-
modation costs is covered by the annual increases in maintenance loans and grants, but in some cases the rise in residence fees is more than the increase in maintenance money. Yearly changes in maintenance support are intended to reflect inflation, so if most or all of the extra money goes on increased accommodation costs students will in real terms have less to spend on other living costs: other items will go up in price but students will have no extra money to make up for this. The University seems to be moving towards more standardised prices for accommodation, which could explain some of the changes. In 2005/6 there were 16 different amounts for the 16 different types of residences; this year there were only seven. The percentage increases on last year’s fees were also quite similar across residences: apart from Aberdare Hall, the increases ranged from 4.39% to 4.60%. However, the minimum maintenance loan for students from Wales only increased by 2.56%, and for English students it was 2.71%. The overall maximum available for a student from Wales, including the bursary offered by Cardiff University, went up by 2.19% to £7,413. A University spokesperson said: “Residences Fees have always increased each session in line with a specific formula that is agreed with the Students’ Union. “For Residences Fees 2007/8 an amnesty was agreed with the Students’ Union Presidents of 2005/6 and 2006/7. The ‘amnesty’ took into ac-
count the fact that increases in Residences Fees in recent budget years had not reflected: increases in inflation; pay awards; rising staff costs from merger harmonisation and the implementation of the National Framework Agreement; and significantly increasing utility costs. The ‘amnesty’ also presented an opportunity to re-group Residences Fees into a number of clear ‘bands’ to reflect the type of accommodation provided across the residential estate. “Further to discussions with the Students’ Union President for 2006/7, it was also agreed to split the ‘amnesty’ increases over 2 sessions to phase the change in Residences Fees for students. “Residences Fee increases are always reviewed and approved by the Finance Group and the Strategy and Resources Committee, the latter of which has student representation. “Residences Fees are regularly compared against other universities and the private sector and Cardiff University residences fees remain competitive, if not lower, than many other universities and private sector residences,” the spokesperson added. The University’s residences are part of the campus services, which also include catering, security, and conferences. From August 1 2007 to July 31 2008, the most recent records available, this division of the University’s operations made a surplus of £3.93 million. The residences aspect of campus services is responsible for most of this surplus.
Roy Jenkins Hall
Talybont North A-R rooms 1-5
Talybont North A-R room 6
Cartwright Court houses
Cartwright Court flats
Talybont North S-Y
Talybont South Undergraduate Plus Self-catered/ensuite
The Welsh Assembly Government's higher education strategy and plan for Wales in the 21st Century has promised the announcement of a national bursary scheme in Spring 2010. The report, For Our Future, was published last week by the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills. It builds on 2002's Reaching Higher, which set out the challenges for a newlydevolved Wales. It says that the two main objectives for the Welsh higher education system are social justice and economic success, and universities are warned that “only institutions that can deliver [our] priorities can expect to be the beneficiaries” of public funding investment in higher education. The bursary scheme would mean that all students in Wales, no matter which university they attend, would receive the same bursary. Currently the bursary levels vary widely across universities, with students at institutions that are successful at widening participation often receiving less as the money is spread more thinly. Some of the other proposals echo the UK government's recent plans for the sector, such as increasing collaboration between institutions and improving workforce development at universities. Others, such as providing more opportunities for students to study in Welsh, are unique to the proposals. The plans also advocate further widening access to higher education, and targeting financial help to students from lower-income backgrounds to achieve this aim.
Drink the bar dry
Cardiff Students' Union holds its Christmas 'drink the bar dry' event on Friday. The first 2,000 students in the Taf and Solus will get a free t-shirt. 400 'Breakfast Club' tickets have already been sold, and Union staff hope that last year's number of 3,500 through the doors over the day will be beaten. To buy tickets go to the box office on the second floor of the Union, or visit shop.cardiffstudents.com/venues/solus.
gairrhydd | NEWS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Sarah Vaughan Reporter Cardiff University’s research into late night violence and public safety has been awarded one of the highest prizes in the academic world. The Violence and Safety Research Group has received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for excellence in higher education. Along with other winners, the Queen will present the award in February at Buckingham Palace. Professor Jonathan Shepherd, of
Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry and Director of the Research Group has, together with his team, been committed to identifying trends in violence in Cardiff city centre, working alongside health professionals, the South Wales Police, and Cardiff Council to help the police prevent violence in the city for the protection of both residents and visitors of the city. In 1996, the collaboration of each sector of the community resulted in the establishment of the unique Crime Reduction Partnership in Cardiff; a key factor that has led to the group receiving the Queen’s Anniversary
VIOLENCE: Cardiff recognised for ongoing research
Prize, as well as providing a prototype system for the rest of the UK. Examples of the Group’s practical action include that of programmes to care for violence victims, the identification of risk factors for violence such as levels of CCTV surveillance and the price of alcohol, and the creation of the University’s Police Science Institute. The Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, Dr David Grant, said: “This is not just a triumph for Cardiff University, but for our entire community.” To encourage and support the success of Cardiff’s Violence and Safety Research Group, South Wales’ Police Chief Constable, Barbara Wilding, has said: “The University Violence and Society Research Group has been one of the key members of the Community Safety Partnership and together we have made great strides in tackling city centre violence and making Cardiff city a safer place. “I am delighted that the research group has been the recipient of this prestigious award. Together with our partners, we are now looking forward to extending this work throughout the whole of the South Wales area.”
A silent revolution Ceri Isfryn News Editor Last Saturday the Union’s LGBT Officer, Rachelle Simons, hosted the first ever Same Sex Hand Holding event. The event, which took place outside the Students’ Union, was part of a global campaign to stop discrimination against same sex couples that hold hands in public. A small but vocal group held hands and displayed banners to promote their cause, before the demonstration
moved into Cathays. During the protest, Rachelle commented: “I see this event as the first step towards increasing visibility of gay, bisexual and transsexual couples in the University and we hope that this event will inspire more couples to be comfortable in public.” Attendee Bethan Dawson commended the LGBT Officer’s involvement with national campaigns. “I think it’s good that the Union is showing itself to be progressive and up to date about matters in the wider LGBT community,” she said. PHOTO: CHRISTINA MACKIE
University to receive Queen's Prize for excellence in research
PROTEST: Campaigners on the Shhh campaign
gairrhydd | NEWS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Cardiff leads way on climate change research
Rachel Henson Reporter
Cardiff University will join other Welsh Universities in a six-year programme to understand climate change. Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Bangor, and Swansea Universities will work together to form the Climate Change Consortium, known as C3W. The initiative is to be funded by the Welsh Assembly Government through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and will cost £4 million. The four partner universities and the Countryside Council for Wales are also investing in the project. Researchers will work on four areas of interest identified by C3W, including sea-level change, hazard evaluation and mitigation, Earth system modelling, and the effects that climate change are likely to have in Wales. The initiative aims to further the understanding of human and societal
impacts of climate change and to reduce uncertainty in current predictions. The attempts to better comprehend the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as the processes behind it, are likely to put Wales at the forefront of climate research. Research at Cardiff University will build on the interdisciplinary climate studies already underway, in a novel collaboration between physical and social scientists. The work will be undertaken by academic staff in the schools of Biosciences, Engineering, Psychology, Earth and Ocean Sciences, City and Regional Planning, and Social Sciences. Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, said: “Being a member of C3W will play a major role in the University’s further contribution to a more sustainable future for us all, and a more collaborative, multi-disciplinary research programme across Wales.” The C3W consortium is due to start work this month, coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
Cardiff MPs oppose tuition fee increase Jamie Thunder News Editor Two Cardiff MPs and three Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) have signed up to the NUS’s pledge declaring they will oppose any increase in tuition fees. Julie Morgan MP (Cardiff North, Labour) and Jenny Willott MP (Cardiff Central, Liberal Democrats) both put their names to the pledge, which calls on MPs to ‘vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative’. Three PPCs, two for Cardiff Central and one for Cardiff South, have also signed. Sam Coates (Green) and
Jenny Rathbone (Labour) are both contesting Cardiff Central, and Dominic Hannigan (Liberal Democrat) is standing in Cardiff South and Penarth. Kevin Brennan MP (Cardiff West, Labour) declined to sign, saying: “My position as a Minister and a member of the Government parliamentary protocol prevents my signing the pledge.” He has, however, previously spoken publicly in favour of a fairer funding system. So far the only other Cardiff MP who has not signed the pledge is Alun Michael (Cardiff South and Penarth, Labour and Co-operative Party). In the run-up to the general election, NUS will publish a list of MPs and PPCs who have signed the pledge and of those who have not.
NEWS 05 Societies Council rejects £5,000 Barclays donation on ethical grounds Ceri Isfryn News Editor The Societies Council has rejected a £5,000 donation by Barclays Bank to help fund this year’s Go Global, following protests by student groups about the company’s ethical standards. During last week’s meeting, speakers from People & Planet, Young Greens and the Socialist Students group voiced concerns about the potential donator’s £7.3 billion investment in the arms trade industry. In the past, the company has also funded land clearance in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe’s regime and is said to be involved with environmentally questionable projects in India. As reported in issue 908 of gair rhydd, members of the same student
groups staged a protest against the University’s £2 million investment in the bank. Over recent months, the Students’ Union have been attempting to secure sponsorship for this year’s Go Global in order to lessen the burden on the societies budget. In lieu of the concerns, which were supported by a 1.5 out of ten score for ethical rating by Ethiscore, Carys Hazell, the Societies, Events, and Acitivities Officer, requested an ethical risk assessment of the venture from the NUS. The report deemed that Barclays was in the highest ethical risk category, scoring it ten out of ten. Only the Psychology Society, claiming that Barclays should
be given a chance to improve itself ethically, argued for continued discussions with the company after Carys had presented the findings.
gairrhydd | NEWS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Ceri Isfryn News Editor
The Arts and Social Studies Library finally re-opened the newly refurbished Wolfson floor last week, following a string of delays. The renovated floor, dubbed the ‘elounge’, includes three study rooms,
PHOTO: OLIVER FRANKLIN
Humanities students get a facelift
The Centre for Lifelong Learning at Cardiff University will launch over 30 humanities courses next semester to determine whether they are financially viable. Twenty courses will run in January, with another 15 starting after the Easter break. The programme will be the first humanities provision at the Centre since the University Council opted to cut courses to save money earlier this year. The courses will be in creative writing, history, archaeology, art, architecture, music, and philosophy. More may be added if there is a demand for follow-on courses. Last year the Centre put on over 250 humanities courses, but in April staff were told of plans to end the provision. After a campaign to save the courses, University Council decided that some should run in January and April 2010 as a trial. Other courses in languages, social science (including business), and computing were kept. A University spokesperson said that in order to be considered viable, the
Steph Mitchell, Journalism, 3rd year "I've just lost loads of work because the computers keep breaking. I've heard lots of others complaining about the same thing as well. The refurb hasn't been very well advertised either; I've been here every day for nearly three weeks and I didn't know it what down here!"
RAINBOW DELIGHTS: Students desperately seeking sunglasses 16 computers and free wireless internet access for students. The Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR), also situated on the ground floor, has been equipped with mobile shelving and will display its collection digitally on plasma screens throughout the library. The changes have been made using funding from the charitable foundation, the Wolfson Foundation,
LEARN to trial humanities courses Jamie Thunder News Editor
News asks students what they think of the new renovations
humanities programme would have to reach an average of 14 enrolments per course and at least 80% of students in each class would be assessed. The plans to cut humanities were made as a result of changes to the way part-time staff were paid, putting them on an hourly rate equivalent to that of full-time staff. According to the University’s projections, this would have meant an increase in the Centre’s running costs of 40%. At the time, the University said that to cover the increase in pay the cost of courses would have to increase by 20% per annum, taking a standard tencredit module from £68.50 to around £98, and that this would risk putting students off. However, a ten-credit module on the new programme will cost £85 – an increase of 24% on last year. No decision on fees for any humanities courses running at the Centre in 2010/11 has yet been made, said a University spokesperson. They added that a decision would be made once it was known how viable the courses were, and that this was not expected to be before April next year, To find out more about the available courses and to order a prospectus visit www.cf.ac.uk/learn
One librarian described the revamp as a “huge success”, claiming that the study rooms have proven especially popular. The brightly decorated floor was due to re-open at the end of September, but delays in construction work and safety checks meant that opening was delayed by two months.
Dharmender Dhillon, MA Philosophy "Overall I like the new look down here. There's loads more space - it was a bit dingy before. I would have liked a snack machine or something though to help me study for longer."
Natasha Ozeren, Psychology, 3rd year "I like the improvements- the atmosphere is a lot more relaxed down here than it is upstairs and I've used it a lot more since the changes have been made."
gairrhydd | NEWS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
You'll never guess what...
Black holes and revelations
Mamma mia! Vatican gets modern with Dame Shirley and Muse Italian police in the north of the country have crashed their most expensive car, a £150,000 Lamborghini. The car was part of a job fair for students in Cremona as part of a recruitment drive for Bolognia police force. It swerved to avoid an oncoming car and struck two parked cars, totally destroying it. One officer received a broken rib, but the other escaped with only bruises.
Tail of woe
Jamie Thunder News Editor The Vatican has released a playlist of songs to the newly-launched MySpace Music site - including tracks by Muse and 2Pac. The list, compiled by Father Giulio Neroni, is made up of 11 songs and a video, and features classical, world, and contemporary music. Fleet Foxes and Dame Shirley Bassey also appear on the compilation. An explanation alongside the playlist says that the artists "share the aim to reach the heart of good-minded people". Other more traditional pieces are on the list, such as Mozart's Don Giovanni opera and three songs from Music From the Vatican. Celebrities including Beyoncé and Katie Price have put together their favourites for the site, which is co-
owned by the four major music labels. As well as EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, some independent labels and the Performing Rights Society have signed up to the site. MySpace Music is an advertsupported audio and video streaming service. The US version launched 15 months ago, but it is only now available in the UK. If users sign up to the site they can create playlists, but any internet users can listen to the tracks. The choice of 2Pac song, Change, seems a particularly unusual one for the religious institution. It includes lyrics contemplating suicide and giving crack cocaine to children. Muse's single Uprising from their new album The Resistance appears on the playlist, as do Dame Shirley Bassey's After the Rain and Fleet Foxes' He Doesn't Know Why.
A three foot pet Kingsnake from East Sussex had a brush with death when it nearly choked on its own tail. The snake, Reggie, took a bite of his tail but couldn’t regurgitate it because his teeth faced backwards. He was rushed to Seers Croft Veterinary Centre where vets dislocated its jaw to allow it to free itself. Kingsnakes are popular pets as they are not venomous, but when kept in small tanks they often mistake their own tails for other snakes.
Sexual elf Morgan Applegarth Reporter
THE LUCKIEST HOBO: He'll be able to have a new hat
Never be Hungary again Rachel Henson Reporter
Fear in the lives of Japanese fine diners may finally be over this week with the news that scientists have bred a non-lethal puffer fish, suitable to be used in torafugu. The fugu is possibly the most dangerous food in the world, as its liver and ovaries contain a toxin over 1,600 times more powerful than cyanide. Fugu chefs are bound to commit ritual suicide if any of their customers die after eating the dish. A company has reportedly raised 50,000 of the toxin-free fish suitable for human consumption.
CAN I GET A HEAVEN YEAH?: This one goes out to my homies
Hungarian cave-dwelling brothers have learned of a multi-billion pound inheritance that will transform their lives. Zslot and Geza Peladi are currently living in a cave near Budapest in Hungary. The brothers have been homeless since losing touch with the rest of their family. The Peladi brothers currently earn themselves a tiny income by selling pieces of scrap metal collected from the streets of Budapest. A £4 billion inheritance is now to be divided between the brothers and an estranged sister living in America after the death of their maternal grandmother. The deceased expressed wishes to remain anonymous before her death, and lawyers dealing with her estate carried out genealogical research to locate any living descen-
dents. The anonymous grandmother died in the German town of Baden-Wurttenberg, and under German law all direct descendents are entitled to a share of the estate, regardless of whether or not the Peladi brothers were aware of her death. Charity workers for Matlan’s charity, which helps homeless people living in Budapest, were contacted by lawyers and asked to find the Peladi brothers to deliver the good news. The brothers will now travel to Germany where they hope to claim their share of the fortune. Geza Peladi is hopeful that the inheritance will change not only their living conditions and monetary affairs, but also their love-life: “It will certainly make up for the life we’ve had until now. All we really had was each other; no women would look at us living in a cave.”
Thousands of needy children who send letters to Father Christmas hoping for a reply may be disappointed from now on, after fears of ‘Santa’ being a sex offender. Every year since 1954, the US Postal Service have forwarded letters generically sent to “Santa Claus, North Pole” to volunteers in a small Alaskan town, appropriately named, North Pole. Posing as Santa’s helpers and elves, generous volunteers respond to letters sent in by an array of children, some of who are spending Christmas without family. The volunteers do so on behalf of the Operation Santa Claus Programme. However, fears that emerged last winter have called for a change in the programme and its possible demise. Where before, volunteers were able to have access to the
name and address of the sender, these rules are now to be scrapped. This comes as a result of a postal worker recognising the name of one volunteer as being one found on the sex offender’s register. After fearing for the worst, heads of the programme quickly intervened preventing any material being sent to this lone volunteer. As a result, volunteers will not know the name of whom they are writing to, rather, their identity will simply be a code that correlates to a register held by the post office. Due to this time-consuming process of finding out which letter should be sent to which address, local post offices have slacked off the programme. Local post office spokeswoman Pamela Moody believes the new, tighter restrictions is not feasible in Alaska. As a result, large numbers of post offices are refusing to send off the letters, leaving hundreds of children learning the truth about Father Christmas sooner.
gairrhydd | OPINION@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
The world's last hope
Norway recently bought the rainforest of Guyana, for conservation to combat climate change. What heroes.
Copenhagen may be our last chance to change before the damage is irreversible Daniella Graham Features Editor
After months of discussion, speculation and debate, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is finally here. But will it actually change anything? Does it even matter? Unfortunately, the current consensus seems to be that Copenhagen will at best, change very little. The U.S and China, the world’s top two carbon emitters, need to be firmly behind the summit for any meaningful legislation to be passed. Regretably, America does not appear to be committed to any firm action on climate change. Domestic issues – principally healthcare reform – have taken precedence in the months leading up to the summit, and have left the energy bill stalled in the Senate. Thus the U.S come to the bargaining table unable to offer any firm commitments, and Barack Obama has stated that there will be no legally binding treaty coming out of Copenhagen. Even Obama’s modest pledge of a 17% cut in carbon emissions by 2020 was labelled ‘provisional.’ In addition, if a recent poll is to be believed, only 36% of Americans believe that there is ‘solid evidence that the earth is warming’ due to ‘human activity,’ a reduction of 11% from last year. With this in mind, all seems lost from the beginning. China is the second major player at
the Copenhagen conference, and has ostensibly shown more commitment to tackling climate change, offering a 4045% decrease in the ‘carbon intensity of the economy.’ However, according to the International Energy Agency, this goal is where China would get to anyway in the next decade, and in real terms actually means an increase in emissions by 2020. This is pretty troubling in light of the fact that carbon emissions from energy use have gone up 102% in the period 1997 to 2007.
Climate change scientists have doubled their estimates of sea level change Other developed nations appear to be more committed to real action regarding climate change. The European Union seem to be the most keen to push the climate change agenda, from offering billions of dollars from rich countries for climate adaptation to a pledge to cut carbon emissions by 95% by 2050 based, on 1990 levels – if there is a global deal. Japan is offering a 25% cut on their 1990 emission levels by 2020, and the U.K have pledged an 80% cut in emissions by 2050. Norway have invested $250 in preserving the rainforest of Guyana, just for the global environmental benefits in conservation. So does the relative indifference of
the U.S and China really spell disaster for Copenhagen? The fact that the United States are even acknowledging climate change as a genuine issue is in itself a huge progression from the Bush era, and getting China to commit to any kind of pledge is still an achievement. Whilst Copenhagen will almost certainly not end in a legally binding agreement, at least the issue will be seriously discussed and there is the possibility of a firm agreement in the future. America’s acknowledgement of climate change as a real and serious threat to mankind is something that should not be underestimated. Since the Kyoto protocol of 1997, more scientific evidence has shown that the effects of global warming could be more devastating than originally feared, and it is now a widely held belief that if the global temperature rises above 2°C, warming and rising sea levels may be impossible to stop, regardless of carbon emission cuts. Indeed, this week has seen climate scientists for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change double their estimates regarding the rate of sea level rise over the next hundred years. It’s clear that something needs to be done sooner rather than later. Unfortunately there are many who don’t share this
view. Last week saw the news that BNP leader Nick Griffin would be travelling to Copenhagen as a representative of the parliament’s environmental committee. A spokesman for the party said Griffin hoped to expose the ‘somewhat dodgy’ science behind the climate-change movement. Griffin has denounced those warning of the consequences of climate change as ‘cranks’ and has argued that climate change is "an Orwellian consensus ... based not on scientific agreement, but on bullying, censorship and fraudulent statistics". Given his policies on immigration, one would have thought Griffin might take more notice of the possible consequences of global warming. Many studies suggest that Britain will be one of the countries least affected by climate change, even when a vast
proportion of the globe has become uninhabitable, and will thus be besieged by displaced immigrants. I don’t blame climate change deniers, even Nick Griffin, for their beliefs; the possible outcomes of climate change are so terrifying that it is much easier to pretend it’s not happening. It is also difficult to face the prospect of spending vast amounts of money tackling climate change when there are so many issues, in both developed and developing countries, that seem much more pressing. When people across the world are struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis, it is hard to commit resources to something designed to prevent disaster in several decades time. But it must be done. Whilst we don’t want to believe it, climate change is real and we ignore it at our peril. Action needs to be taken now while we still have the chance, as once the worst effects are felt it will be too late. The developed nations need to take responsibility for their actions that have contributed to climate change, and take the lead with meaningful action. They also need to offer support for the developing nations, who are likely to suffer the worst effects of climate change despite playing little part in it. Will the Copenhagen conference really change anything? Right now, it’s difficult to tell. Does it matter? Absolutely.
gairrhydd | OPINION@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
The acceptable prejudice freewords EDITORIAL
Stop thinking of Ron Weasley, gingers can actually be hot Lauren Cowie Opinion Writer “Being ginger is worse than being black.” Yes, that is what a fellow redhead said to me when I told her I was writing this article. I’m not remotely suggesting that us redheads are preyed upon like the Jews in Nazi Germany or black people during segregation, but there is an increasingly distinct prejudice against us. Can you think of any other minority group that it’s still socially acceptable to take the piss out of? You wouldn’t dream of bullying a blind or gay person. Insult someone on religious grounds and you’re looking at being charged with a hate crime. Too right; a culture of discrimination should be stamped out. But how have red-heads been forgotten? You all know the taunts: “Don’t get yourself all fired up, ginger-nut”, “Ginga minga!,” or even “Get enough freckles and you could actually look tanned”. Let’s not even get started on the pubic hair jokes. There’s only a certain number of times you can tell people that carrot tops are green. Only a certain number of times you can smile and pretend that they are the first person to have ever noticed. There comes a point when you just want them to shut up. Another friend recently suggested that I put my biology degree to good use; to find and eliminate the red head gene. (I resisted telling him that the MC1R gene has already been discovered and that we’re on our way to extinction anyway). But can you imagine a world without redheads? Where would we be without Margaret
Thatcher, Charles Kennedy and Geri Halliwell? Life just wouldn’t be as colourful. I haven’t always been a red head. At about 13, the teenage hormones must have had some sort of bizarre affect because my mousy brown hair developed into out and out orange locks. Maybe this is why I notice the difference in people’s attitudes so much. But just try a little test for me.
"Being ginger is worse than being black" I want you to imagine a ginger boy. I’m guessing you see that somewhat scrawny looking kid from school. The geek with the Twilight-esque palette, glasses and asthma stood in the corner. Or maybe a Ron Weasley type character, lobster pink on holiday, in slightly overly tight Speedos. Don’t deny it. Don’t pretend like you’ve never made a wise crack. Stop looking at the person next to you. You’re the guilty party here. Throw away those tired jokes. Red hair is hot! So we can’t go out in the sun. We’ll live to 150 from the health benefits. And I’m certainly not going to dispel any rumours about our women being more libidinous and mischievous. After all, some of the hottest women alive are redheads. Anna Friel, Lindsay Lohan, Christina Hendricks - hell, even ginger Prince Harry has overtaken Wills as the hottest Royal. So be nice or shut up. And if you’re lucky enough to be auburn, strawberry blonde, copper, titian or russet embrace your red hair. Hold your head high. It’s only natural for them to be jealous.
Model and actress Lily Cole
Internationals out in the cold
Cardiff's housing provision for foreign students must improve Omar Shamayleh Opinion Writer
I arrived at Cardiff around 7pm, and had to call security to let me into my room. After about 12 hours of cars, planes and buses I had to lug my suitcase and bags from the Senghennydd Court reception, down to my new residence at Senghennydd road, then up three flights of narrow stairs and into my new ‘room.’ The room I had been assigned was a little attic space, with the slanting roof slicing it exactly in half, which means it was actually a peculiar triangular prism sitting on its side, with a sink in it. I went to sleep, woke up the next day and banged my head on the wooden beam directly over the bed. That’s when my amusement ended and I decided to give the residence people a little visit.
I could tell from the residences website that the University accommodation at Cardiff wasn’t the best. The tiny pictures of a neat little room didn’t really tell you much about where you would be living for the next year, but I thought such a world class University was sure to have some world class residences for its students. I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that is not exactly true. I learned, after having a chat with the people at the Senghennydd court reception office, that I couldn’t change my room. I couldn’t do anything. I had to stick to my contract, and that’s that. Even my explanation of the whole banging my head on wooden beam situation won me no sympathy. It was as if I signed my soul over and there was no going back. The next three or four days I loved everything about Cardiff, but dreaded having to go back to my little hole in the wall. The next day I got up, banged my head again, had
breakfast and went to the residences office. After weeks of pleading and a mild concussion I finally convinced the residences office to let me move. Hodge Hall wasn’t nearly as bad. Again the rooms were tiny and the bathrooms were shared, but the only really bad thing I could think of was the expensive price. Finally, having had enough with the University houses, me and five other Hodge Hall residents planed our escape. We needed to find replacements to get out of our contract, which a month into term was tough. We put our names on the list of people who were seeking replacements at the residences office, put up some fliers and were lucky enough to all find replacements -– who all happened to be international students going through the same cycle I went through. The house we got, which we now live in, is beautiful. It’s just been renovated, new
carpets, brand new appliances, leather couches, and decorations on the walls. What a difference. I did the maths and it worked out to be actually cheaper than Hodge Hall! International students don’t have many choices when it comes to housing at Cardiff. People coming from thousands of miles away are intimidated by the task of searching for a home, having to deal with landlords and pay bills, and so most just opt for university housing, and end up getting very low quality for their money. The University should arrange a househunting day dedicated to international postgraduate students during the week prior to class. The University should also give more information on – or perhaps even provide – temporary housing that does not involve signing a contract for a whole year; giving these students the opportunity to discover Cardiff and find a place of their own.
... okay, well not quite, but it's the last gair rhydd of this academic term and, in fact, of the whole entire year. My, how time flies. This week, we were lucky. A brilliant front page story fell into our hands - the engineering rugby team had given some of its members food poisoning after they were forced to eat food that had been up someone else's backside during their initiation. (See photos on front page; they caused quite a reaction when they reached the gair rhydd office). On the Facebook page for the initiation, under "Things you'll need", it says: "A sense of humour. Don't believe all the shit you read in the papers about initiation ceremonies just check out photos of the last two years and you'll see everyone having a fucking good laugh, amongst other things." Hmm, a good laugh having toilet roll put up your bum and set alight? A good laugh eating things that have been up other people's bums? A good laugh licking milk up off a muddy playing field? I don't know about you, but I probably wouldn't be having fun doing any of those things. Now, don't get me wrong - I'm in a sports team myself, and I'm all for initiations - but not the sort that pose a serious health risk. My initiation included nothing of the sort of antics described above, and from talking to my friends in different sports teams, nor did theirs. Just your usual spot of binge drinking seems to be the order of the day, and even then no-one is forced to take part. But on the ENGIN rugby initiation, the final test is "Staying til the end of the night and not disappearing like a pussy" - and I'm sure they're not the only team to have enforced this rule. What is it with rugby boy mentality? What makes me so annoyed about this story is a) that the ones being initiated are stupid enough to go along with it, and b) that the ones conducting the initiation are sick enough to conjure up these challenges in the first place and to actually force their peers to endure them! Personally, I would just say goodbye to ENGIN rugby and go and play for a different team, and a number of my friends, male and female, have said they would do the same. ENGIN are not even an affiliated AU Club so their status as a team is just about as pathetic as their social status in my eyes. Turn over to page two and you will see another story about abusive rugby players (it's not just a rugbybashing issue this week, I promise!). The player in question has just been cleared of GBH for breaking the nose of a Cardiff University hockey player, so at least it's good news for some of the rugger lads this week. Okay, so rant over. All that's left for me to say is: Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a lovely break. Take it easy, enjoy yourself, and don't spend too much time on your essays - that's what January is for. See you in 2010!
gairrhydd | OPINION@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
More than a bit suspicious Let's be honest, Manchester University's research was probably biased
Morgan Applegarth Opinion Writer The University of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute have recently carried out research, funded by Tesco, regarding the development of recycling technologies and ways to encourage customers to go green. Apparently back in 2007 the supermarket conglomerate Tesco donated £25million to the University of Manchester. This was to fund research exploring how the monopolising giant could create an incentive for customers to become ‘greener’. Roll the clock forward and the results have been (somewhat) released, creating debate amongst cynics and people whose opinions are greener than the skin of The Hulk. One of the findings that is raising eyebrows is the claim that Tesco’s current customer reward scheme is more effective than charging customers for the use of plastic bags, a method used by increasingly more shops. To be more specific, the report claims that by awarding points to subscribers of their “Loyalty Card” system has led the an increase in the re-use of bags. However, this claim has been confronted by a series of question marks as remarkably (or maybe not so, when you consider who paid for the research) previous research by the Irish Government has been disregarded. Back in 2002, a new legislation was imposed in Ireland meaning that retailers must charge customers for the
use of plastic bags. Being faced with an approximate 9p charge per bag, the Irish Government released information stating that consumers re-use of bags had increased by 90%. Compare this to the latest research and it seems that Tesco may have had a couple of fingers dipping where maybe they shouldn’t have. Apparently – as the report claims - the rewards system is more effective and has led to a decline in the use of bags by 48%. I don’t do maths, but it doesn’t take a smart arse to see that 90% is bigger – and thus more effective – than 48%.
These misleading figures endorse Tesco’s current policy of giving away plastic bags
released by the Irish Government are correct, then it is clear that by charging for bags, fewer are used. Thus fewer roam our streets; letting rain settle into the soil. It gives animals one less hazard to avoid. Less bags would have to be produced, cutting the associated carbon emission and saving oil – an increasingly scare resouce – for more worthwhile causes. Bags aside, I do believe that there are more important areas where we should be taking greater action against climate change. Decreasing the miles we travel in cars – reducing those completely unnecessary journeys to destinations that can be walked to in no longer than two minutes – could be
a start. Helping the environment needs to start somewhere before we go too far and the consequences of our wasteful society become inevitable. So, I feel we should all follow the example set by our green Irish friends. Let’s welcome charges on plastic bags rather than twiddle our thumbs and cynically say it’s a ploy for businesses to take more of our money. I don’t know about you, but when I know I’m going to Lidl, I take my own bag so I can save those extra pennies. After all, as Tesco says, every little helps.
A plastic bag factfile
plastic bags used per year in the UK
300 400 years
plastic bags per adult per year
time it takes for a plastic bag to biodegrade
bags are used by the average supermarket shopper per visit
1 billion 4.5 trillion
animals die each year by ingesting plastic bags
plastic bags manufactured worldwide each year
So why would the University report state this? To put it bluntly, these misleading figures endorse Tesco’s current policy of giving away plastic bags free of charge – 2 billion of which were freely dispensed last year. Also, the involvement of senior Tesco staff has also come across a bit dodgy. Now although I’m not an emphatic green activist, I still do my part in trying to aid a ‘greener’ environment. I recycle rubbish and try to re-use plastic bags as much as possible. Alas, I do drive, but nobody is perfect. Anyway, this got me thinking, is all this chat about plastic bags as necessary as we think it is? Well clearly yes. If the statistics
of shoppers use new plastic bags every time they visit the supermarket
1% of plastic bags are recycled
I think I killed Borders It's upsetting that buying books online may have put 1,150 people out of jobs Elizabeth Blockley Opinion Writer
Shops which have dominated the British high street for years appear to be going into administration with alarming regularity nowadays. This week, the book store Borders announced that it is to close five of its largest stores, whilst trying to find a buyer for the remainder of the chain. As well as the obvious consequence of liquidation of these chains, for instance job losses amounting to 1,150 for Borders, the passing of stores such as Woolworths, Borders and Zavvi is upsetting for nostalgic and social reasons. Spending hours haunting Waterstones and Borders for new reads has always been one of my favourite pastimes. It tends to be a solo activity, as very few people have the desire to
spend as long as I do in bookshops, but I love discovering new authors, finding new favourites and flicking through novels previously unheard of. I like the smell of the paper, the warmth the shops provide in the winter (I can afford books, but not heating for my own house) and the peaceful library-like setting. I really like the fact that not once in all my years of incessant browsing no shop assistant has ever told me to ‘buy some bloody books or leave the store’, which would probably have been justified. Borders even added Starbucks to their stores, and if the combination of frappuccinos and books isn’t enough to keep us satisfied, what on earth is? Unfortunately the forces of supermarkets and internet shopping offer the same products at a much lower price. Unless you’re like me, obstinately continuing to pay over-theodds for your reading material just
for the enjoyment of the bookstore experience, it’s difficult to see where these high street chains are supposed to find their niche market. It’s all too easy to go into Borders or WHSmith, decide what you want and then return home to order it for half the price on Amazon. I never used to be one of those people. I was single-handedly upholding the values of traditional book buying.
Spend more money on books than necessary. Then go and get a Starbucks! But last weekend I went to do my Christmas shopping with my boyfriend, who smugly traipsed round the shops with his iPhone (those are another opinion piece altogether)
quoting the Amazon price of every product I tried to purchase. I really didn’t approve, but it’s Christmas, and I’m poor and a student. So I gave in and wrote a list of everything I needed then ordered it on Amazon. The next day I found out Borders was closing down. I killed Borders. If they don’t find a buyer I owe one thousand, one hundred and fifty people a very big apology. In fairness, that one oversight on my part probably wasn’t the catalyst for Borders going into administration, but it might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. There needs to be a national effort to keep our high street stores alive. Follow my example; spend more on your books than necessary. Then get a Starbucks! The image of a world where there are no lovely book shops is a bleak picture. It’s not only bookshops that are suffering; every area of the retail market is being hit. Furniture stores,
clothing stores and electronic stores are all affected as the public increasingly turns to the internet for cheaper options. This is an understandable trend in a climate where people are concerned about money, but it seems to be a vicious circle. People spend money in supermarkets or online as opposed to in smaller stores, those stores lose profits and have to close, and jobs are lost. Added to this, it’s a bit depressing to imagine a world where all of your shopping needs are reduced to tesco.com and Amazon. From then it’s only a step to having no shops anywhere, then we’ll never leave our computers and only communicate via email. It will be Armageddon. Society will collapse, maybe. All because everyone was too stubborn to spend a couple of pounds extra on Cliff Richard’s autobiography for their grandmother’s Christmas present.
gairrhydd | OPINION@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Copenhagen won’t change climate policy S
eventeen years after the signing of the UN convention on climate change in Rio, 12 years after the signing of the Kyoto protoco, two years after the decision in Bali to agree a new climate policy, one year after Barack Obama's election. Today marks the start of the Copenhagen conference and after all this time, all this talking we are yet to have a global plan on this impending catastrophe. Although it has not been at the top of the political agenda for the last... well forever, it will soon force itself to the front of everyone’s minds. The terrible flooding in Cockermouth is a prime example of how climate change is starting to affect us. It was the fourth major flooding emergency in the UK in the last ten years and they are only going to become more frequent and more damaging.
The process of climate change has been set in motion and is irreversible. Humanity as we know it will be destroyed by the end of the century, whether we act now or not, all we can do is limit the impact. A morbid thought, however these are not the sentiments of a scaremongering columnist, but those of Mark Brayne and NASA scientist James Hansen. The Noughties have been a difficult decade but they will seem a summer breeze compared with the thunderous issues we will be forced to face in the coming decades. Yes, there has been some progress. The Obama administration has now set a 2020 and 2050 target on emissions reduction. Even China and India, despite their gargantuan industrial and technological drives, have committed to slow the rise of emissions, and Mexico has put forward creative proposals for climate financing. How-
ever, the fog of policy speeches, international meetings and domestic debates still mask the path to a lowcarbon economy. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to grow and will do so for decades to come. The Wall Street Journal, America's biggest circulation paper, berates and belittles climate science each day.
Humanity as we know it will destroy itself by the end of the century The US Congress is agreeing deals with industrial lobbies which threaten to stop any proposals for limiting carbon emissions. A vote on the US
legislation has already been put back till next spring, and Australia has just rejected a similar bill Sadly, even if we reach a political agreement, we're not yet on course to make any practical, significant and sustained progress. Whether it's the US debate that reverberates between activists, deniers and lobbyists, or the global debate that consists largely of empty agreements and bitter fingerpointing, we've somehow turned the biggest threat to humanity into a circus. In essence there must be a lot more planning and brainstorming rather than negotiation. When can low carbon power plants be brought online? When will electric vehicles be ready for mass sales? Will carbon capture really work and if so, where and when can we start? Dare we embark on a massive revival of the nuclear power industry, in a world burdened with nu-
clear proliferation? During two years of build-up to Copenhagen, the official negotiations never gave a place for such questions to be posed, much less answered. But then perhaps that is why we are stuck. Climate change is the most complicated issue the world has faced. It's time to put the experts, such as James Hansen, at the front table, not just to back-up public debate and discussion, but finally to inform it. Copenhagen should see the end of negotiation by politicians with technical issues kept in the shadows or ignored. We can prove that our world is still capable of making long-range agreements when our children's lives and well-being hang in the balance. We have to, otherwise Brayne’s prophecy will be the only reality and there won’t be a future for our children.
Tim Well Spent - All I want for Christmas is a new body
y God, hasn’t Christmas come around quickly this year? It doesn’t feel like 11 weeks ago when term started. Freshers’ Week, Halloween, Bonfire Night, the Autumn Tests. So much has happened and the time has flown by but Christmas has crept up on me almost as if I’ve been asleep for the last couple of weeks. Oh wait, that’s because I have. Please believe me it’s not alcohol induced or any other substance for that matter. I have been horizontal, in bed suffering with migraines (pause for sympathy). They are a fucking pain. In actual fact, they are several pains. They give you a massive headache, make you sick, stiff and mean you mope around in your dressing gown all day long, or is that just me? The worst thing is it disorientates and confuses everything. In my head I went to watch Wales play Samoa last Friday and am now opening the seventh door to my advent calendar. Three weeks have squashed into one and trying to explain this to my tutors when impending deadlines are looming has not been the easiest. It’s gone from fireworks and mild evenings to Christmas lights and a constant need to wear winter coat, scarf, gloves and hat in just a few days, or at least in
my head it has. For people who have never had a migraine it is difficult to explain what they are and how they affect you. I’ve only been suffering from them since January 1 and prior to that I thought they were a hypochondriacs’ excuse to make a fuss about a headache. It’s not. They drain your body to such an extent that even things like brushing your teeth or deciding whether you’d prefer a cup of tea or hot chocolate become a gruelling task. The most menial action or decision becomes a mammoth mission like trying to climb a mountain each time. Taking the rubbish out is my Everest. So when it was put to me what would I like to get for Christmas, the speed of my response was astounding. Within seconds: “a new body please.” That’s not too much to ask for is it? Just remove my brain and put it into a fitter and healthier model. I mean my mind is fine but my body seems to be falling apart at the ripe old age of 22. Putting the migraines to one side, I’ve got a list of problems as long as my arm or rather my leg. Four years ago, I did the ligaments in my right ankle. Three years ago, I broke my right foot ending my football career. This summer, I got patellar tendonitis in my right knee, which essentially means my knee is screwed for the next 12
months. My sinuses aren’t in good shape either and I suffer from sinusitis and non-allergic rhinitis. I don’t know what rhinitis means either I just take the pills the doctor gives me. In fact my bedside table has been mistaken for Boots the chemist on a couple of occasions now. There’s everything you can think of from paracetamol to dicloflex to ibuprofen to rizatriptan. But I am disappointed with the range of high street painkillers as they just don’t kill the pain, which does defeat the object somewhat. I’m even on a steroid nasal spray, and that’s not really doing much to improve things. If a new body for Christmas is out of the question then how about this stocking filler idea: extra strong painkillers. Pills that are so strong if I hold them in the palm of my hand for long enough my arm will go numb. So powerful that when they are put into a glass of water, rather than the tablet dissolving the water evaporates. I’m dreaming of a pain free Christmas, to watch the Queen’s speech without the fear of going temporally blind and violently sick. Whether that’s with me doped up on drugs or not, I’m not that fussed. And on that cheery and festive note, I’m going back to bed. Merry Christmas everybody.
PAINKILLERS: All Tim wants for Christmas...
gairrhydd | FEATURES@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
A Cardiff Christmas Oli Franklin Opinion Editor Christmas. Love it or hate it, it’s steamrolling this way faster than a gaudily lit coca-cola truck. The shops are overflowing with people, bustling about their business buying the now somewhat obligatory presents, picking a tree, getting the mince pies in, and all the rest of that crap. Sigh. Here we go again. You may, at this point, sense a little trepidation in my voice when it comes to getting all excited about Christmas. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas, because I do. Honest. It just seems that Christmas doesn’t like me. Which begs the question why. Why Christmas? What did I do to you? Moody bastard. It’s a time of giving, sharing and togetherness, right? Well, if you look at it closely, no. Christmas seems to segregate us into two distinct camps. There are those rosy-cheeked, wooly jumpered few who love everything Crimbo related. They get excited every time you mention it. They have family rituals, traditions: stockings, age-old recipes, dainty tree decorations in a big carboard box in the loft. Smarmy bastards. On the other hand, there are the rest of us, the Crimbo-sceptics. Those of us who know that it’s all a scam and won’t bow down to the sheer capitalism of it all. We’re gonna stick it to the man, man. In other words, the festive season splits us up into the happy scamps and the miserable sods. Whichever your orientation, we all remain united by one thing. Presents. Everyone, no matter what your age, sex, orientation or nationality, we all love presents. It’s
science. Even the most stony hearted of cynics will freely admit to feeling all warm and excited when you see a little wrapped package with your name on it. Hell, you don’t get them very often, so it’s understandable really. Some people (I’d like to think everyone) even get a joy giving them. Seeing someone’s face light up when they unwrap a brand new torch is a timeless joy. But should it be about the presents? Is that all that Christmas has been reduced to, an obligatory time to exchange perfunctory gifts?
Something about Christmas turns Cardiff into a festive extravaganza When you are next planning to go into town, wait till it starts to get dark. Now that may sound a bit rapey, but it is justified, because it isn’t till the sun sets and the Christmas lights come on that the true magic of this time of year is revealed. Whatever it is about Christmas, it turns Cardiff into a festive extravaganza. For a place to start, the winter wonderland isn’t a bad shout. Probably the most famous of Cardiff’s winter activities; the ice skating, ferris wheel and variety of other rides make for a perfect banter-filled winter evening with your housemates, friends, or a special someone. Delve further into town, and you could come across the Cardiff Arts market, just off Queen Street. The perfect place for some
genuinely thoughtful presents, the market is laden with stalls stacked high with all sorts of handmade goodies, local art, and (my fave) a homemade fudge and nougat stall. Delicious. If that mention of nougat whets your appetite, perhaps you should venture down towards The Hayes outside the new Saint Davids centre, to the German market. A collection of wonderful food shops and stalls, it is a wonderful place to get a flameroasted brautwurst and a toasty glass of mulled wine with which to wander around under the lights and feel the festive spirit. Buying presents nowadays becomes a little bit monotonous for the most of us. All you need to do is wander around HMV, pick up the easiest cop-out dvd, shove it in a bit of sparkly paper and lap up the unimpressed smiles on Christmas morning. Fair enough. But then ask yourself, how many crap dvds are littered through your collection, that you'll never watch again? There is only so many times you can smile and pretend that no, you haven’t seen all of Friends/ Scrubs/Sex in the City/Family Guy/ Gavin and Stacey, and yes, you’re oh so delighted. Why not put it on while Mum burns the turkey? Which brings me on to perhaps my most important tip this Christmas. Log off Amazon, close Play.com, fuck it, even close Facebook. Cardiff is at its finest this time of year. And I’m not talking inside HMV or the shopping centres. Get out; get amongst the lights and the markets. Spend some time wandering through the beautiful arcades. Pop into Cardiff market and get some wintery ingredients for a casserole and cook your housemates a nice Christmas meal. And lastly, make sure you hesitate a moment before you go to the till or click ‘checkout’. Stop for a moment while you are taking my advice and having a lovely night time stroll among the lights. Look around. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but Christmas really is the time for giving. So when you are wandering around and see those folk whose job it is to sign people up for charities, give them a couple of minutes to win you over. They get all upset that people give them a wider berth than a swine flu victim. The causes that most of these lovely people – many of them students – support, are all extremely important and very worthwhile. Fur-
PHOTOS: OLI FRANKLIN
Rather than spending your cash on DVDs, spend some time investigating the bounty that Cardiff has to offer this Christmas
Cardiff is full of festive secrets at this time of year thermore, many welsh charities such as Shelter Cymru rely on people like us donating just a few pounds – often less than a pint a week – which could go towards helping the poor and homeless in Cardiff (whose terrible situation was recently covered by Simon Lucey in Quench).
Charities are the hardest hit during the credit crunch, donations make great presents Shelter are not the only charity who rely on donations at this time of year. It is the spirit of giving around Christmas time that funds a huge amount of charitable work – but during the credit crunch, charities are often the hardest hit. If you really want to please a lot of people, there are a huge number of charity schemes in which you can make a donation in someone else’s
name. It’s a fantastic present: it makes the receiver feel all ethical and kind hearted, and it actually provides a vital resource to a charity doing good somewhere in the world. Case in point: two years ago, I bought my Mum an iPod for Christmas. She broke it in two months. Last year, I sponsored a snow leopard conservation project in her name. She got a fluffy toy leopard, and a little thank-you letter, and the charity got a donation towards conserving the most endangered species on the planet. Job done. It’s all too easy to go into autopilot at this time of year. Take the easy way out with presents that are either not wanted or not needed. So this year, make a difference. Discover the alternatives, the little guys. Spend some time wondering amongst the lights, the trees, and the music, and look around at the people around you. Oh and one last thing. Merry Christmas, everyone.
gairrhydd | FEATURES@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
The 'art' of blagging You never get something for nothing. Or can you? One Cardiff student tried to blag as much as they could in just one week... Rachel Henson Features Writer Blag: "To gain, usually entrance to a restricted area or club, or some material good, through confidence, trickery or cheekiness. Lying is also acceptable."
Monday I have one week to test the blagging limits of this fine city. As I stepped out of the Union into the rain, I felt strangely confident in my mission, and quietly smug at the prospect of a week of getting something for nothing. Well, not that quietly, I was whistling. I bumped into a fellow student on Cathays Terrace, explained my objective, and came away with a safety pin. Sometimes you have to start small.
Tuesday I got up unnecessarily early for lectures this morning and logged onto StudentBeans.com. Orders for free (albeit somewhat useless) objects were in place and the day’s blagging pressure was significantly reduced. I thought it might be worth asking the lady in the post office to reduce the cost of my stamps for a parcel to Germany, but it wasn’t. I did manage to acquire a free Cadbury’s Flake from someone dressed as a chocolate bar in the St. David’s Centre though. The time had come to test the part of the blagging definition that mentions deception. This was not something I felt completely comfortable with, but figured that if push came to shove, then any guilt could be slyly passed from my conscience to gair rhydd. Unfortunately, I was sadly lacking in inspiration, and walking up and down Queen Street too often just makes you more susceptible to being pounced on to donate £2 a month to well-meaning charities, which would be somewhat counter-productive today. I then spotted a man, whom everyone seemed to be deliberately avoiding, holding a collection of books. I composed my blagging motives and adopted nerves of steel. I approached. I talked with him about the Hare Krishna movement and managed not to buy a book. I listened to his pleas to help the homeless. I still managed not to buy a book. I started looking for an escape route, but none was forthcoming. I gave him my small change to help out his community projects and sloped off home to come to terms with my first anti-blag. Exchanging an e-voucher for a free
loaf of bread at Co-op did little to improve my mood.
Wednesday I didn’t feel like blagging today. My confidence remained shot from yesterday’s failures. I did, however, seriously need a coffee after my nine o’clock lecture and whilst locating my reward card realised that I’d previously consumed enough caffeine to claim a free hot drink. Further clarification with the coffee-man revealed that despite having always purchased the least costly option on the menu, I could in fact have any drink as my reward. I walked away with a supermega-large hot chocolate with marshmallows, a mountain of whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. They wouldn’t let me drink it in the library.
Thursday I confided to a friend about fears of my blagging inadequacies over a (fully paid for) coffee this afternoon. She cheered me up no end by reminding me of travelling blags we’d shared together over the years. The most successful being an evening at the Singapore Hard Rock Café. We’d only popped in to look at the guitars, but several hours later and the four of us had consumed the equivalent of over a hundred pounds worth of free drinks, and I’d sung my favourite U2 song on stage with the band that happened to be playing. The drinks came about after the bar staff discovered we could speak Bahasa Malaysia with them. The singing came about after the discovery that we weren’t paying for our drinks. Sadly, speaking Malay probably won’t help my blagging this week.
Any guilt could be slyly passed from my conscience to gair rhydd... The postman delivered two small parcels whilst I was out. The first was a pretty dull, free, book entitled ‘Britain without the European Union’. The second was a waterproof book courtesy of another online offer, and far more entertaining than the first. The author’s descriptive powers kept me amused for the rest of the afternoon. A quick example: “I turned into a buxom nurse from a Benny Hill sketch. My breasts became two tethered zeppelins. My belly, a giant jellyfish,” Kathy Lette, ‘All Steamed Up.’
you can’t steal from nobody, I figured it might be morally acceptable. Our final destination was a quirky little club underneath a railway bridge. Determined to avoid the entry fee, I informed the bouncer that I’d just popped out and that the other guy said it would be fine to re-enter. It could have worked; I don’t have a particularly memorable face. It was another fail, probably not helped by the fact that the place was almost deserted on arrival, I was wielding a newspaper and dressed as a pirate.
I decided it was time to take the blagging on tour, first stop Reading. There wasn’t much blagging to be done on the train, but I tried out the ‘trick or deception’ criteria for a bit of harmless practice. The poor woman sat next to me now thinks she travelled to Reading with a trumpet-playing pet shop assistant who couldn’t think of one real pet shop in Cardiff to claim a link to. I blagged nothing from the conversation. I suppose I Saturday could say I blagged a glass of water at my brother’s house, but the fact that it I caught the train into London. The was offered in a shot glass, as the only teenager next to me looked as if she receptacle without things growing in was ready to stab/shoot/eat the next it, almost certainly nullifies any posi- person who dared to look at her, so I tive blag-points. refrained from divulging my new lifeWe were due to join a pirate pub story, which is a shame as I’d just got crawl in the evening, but a friend a job as a trapeze artist in a travelling of my brother had misplaced her ID circus. somewhere. I was just mulling over A group of school friends were the blagging possibilities this pre- waiting outside Pizza Hut on Oxford sented for the evening when I noticed Street. It was a birthday, and having that my brother had disappeared. Ten most definitely seen candles in a fudge minutes later and he appeared at the cake at such an establishment before, doorway having knocked on vari- it was time for a mild blag. I sneaked ous doors in the street and blagged a off to ‘the toilet’ and tracked down our passport from a deluded and/or insane waitress. She informed me that stranger a few houses down the road. they had no candles and He managed to do this dressed as a pino lighter but gave rate. Amazing. me directions to the Misplacing forms of identificanearest supermartion seemed to be one of the girl’s ket. Dejected, but favoured hobbies and, having resstill hoping to cued the passport from the floor of make the birthday several bars, I eventually pocketed it for safe keeping as a sort of secondhand blag. I had a lovely chat with the girl behind one bar who agreed that I was proving to be a pretty poor blagger and offered to give me a lime and soda water. The retail price was only 15p, but beggars can’t be choosers. Sadly, the manager overheard and told me to go away. Another fail. I cheered myself up by blagging a drink from my brother, who probably owes me several anyway, and taking today’s newspaper with me. It didn’t appear to belong to anybody, and on the grounds that BOUNCER: Proof that strength beats intelligence
meal at least a little special, I ran off to the shop and managed to get back with candles and party hats before the drinks had arrived. It turns out that this wasn’t a huge achievement as the service was so unbelievably slow that I could have easily walked to the River Thames with a bucket, designed, built and operated my own water filtration system in the time it took to get a drink. It inexplicably took three hours to order and eat lunch but at least, I thought, there would be candles on the fudge cake. A sorry lump of dessert did eventually arrive, with one measly, pathetic candle carelessly placed off-centre at a peculiar angle. Less than impressed, I asked if we could have the rest of the candles back, to which I was informed that the rest had been thrown away. Pizza Hut blagged my candles! I took comfort in the fact that I could potentially write and complain in the hopes of getting free pizza next time. The afternoon was spent looking for blagging opportunities, which don’t present themselves readily on a Saturday afternoon in central London on the lead-up to Christmas and, utterly defeated, I waited for the Megabus at Victoria Coach Station. The prospect of a three hour coach journey back to Cardiff tempted me into Subway and I ordered the £1.99 six-inch ham ‘Sub of the Day’. The man nodded and prepared my order; I waved my arm in the general direction of the vegetable collection and wearily wondered what on Earth I was going to write about for this blagging article. I reached the till and found myself faced with a foot long chicken and bacon meal, which consumed every last penny of loose change in my possession. I spent the coach journey pondering my lack of blagging abilities in silence.
Sunday It’s been quite hard to accept, but it turns out that I am the ultimate 'Blagging Failure'. I can cope with the little things (vouchers, universal freebies, student discounts), but when it comes to the real, skilful art of blagging, I’ve finally found my position at the bottom of the pile. As I spend my Sunday afternoon trying to blag writing this feature however, I realise that I have had a useful insight into the Blagger’s World. I'm sure I blagged the opportunity to do it.
gairrhydd | FEATURES@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
A night to forget
Many of us are guilty of having a few too many drinks on a night out, but some also end their night with a criminal conviction... Miranda Atty Features Writer Student lifestyles are very much work hard, play hard – with the emphasis often on the playing. The combination of students letting their hair down and copious amounts of alcohol is bound to lead to various stupid acts, which the perpetrators live to regret as the realisation of their actions hits home. What many don’t realise at the beginning of their night is that their actions when intoxicated may have consequences that last a lot longer than their hangover. With the current student lifestyle the way it is, it seems almost inevitable that there will be incidents of normally well-behaved students breaking the law after a night out drinking heavily.
Alcohol has the ability to cause even the most sensible people to behave recklessly Most people have seen the infamous photo of a student from Sheffield Hallam University urinating on an important war memorial. (If you read gair rhydd last week, you would actually have seen the photo twice...) The student in question was attending a Carnage event in Sheffield, and at the time of the incident was completely smashed; he claims he has no recollection of it at all. He has since been sentenced to 250 hours of community service after he pleaded guilty to the criminal offence of outraging public decency. The judge in the case had considered giving him a custodial sentence, but believed that the student was truly remorseful and that ultimately community service would be a sufficient punishment, considering the University were also likely to take action regarding his place there. Regardless of the judge’s leniency, the student has been named and now has a criminal record for outraging public decency to add to his C.V. His reputation and character are now irreversibly coloured by an action that he almost certainly would not have even considered if sober. This kind of behaviour can happen much closer to home. A friend of mine recently became a member of a crime statistic group – a member of Drunk Drivers Anonymous. OK, DDA is not an actual group, or not as far as
I know, but I kind of think it should be. My friend Lydia* had started out her night at the Students' Union and ended it in Cardiff Bay Police Station charged with a criminal offence. On the night in question, having consumed a few drinks, she was just steps away from her house when she decided to commit the act that landed her in a cell. If only she had just walked into her house! Unfortunately, she had her car keys in her hand, and when she saw that a space had opened up right outside she couldn’t resist getting in her car and driving it the 50 to 100 metres or so from where it was parked to the space right outside her house. Although she was only driving at about 5 mph, she had forgotten to put her lights on, and it was this that alerted the police and caused them to ask her to step out of the car and take a breathalyzer test. Unfortunately, even though she did not intend to drive anywhere but merely to re-park closer to home, she was still behind the wheel and she was still over the limit. Lydia found being arrested a traumatic experience. "It all happened so fast. I stepped out of the car and then after what felt like a second in time I was down at the Bay police station. I didn’t even have any shoes on or anything." She was breathalyzed again and, because she failed, put into a holding cell for a couple of hours. "The cell was horrible; there was a rock hard plastic bed, a plastic pillow and a toilet. That was it, apart from a camera with which the police could monitor your every move." Lydia was put into the system that same night, with her fingerprints and mug shot being taken. She now faces a court case at the Magistrates’ Court, where her sentence will be decided; she is likely to receive a ban and a criminal record. Lydia also said that she is still in shock, that one stupid minor decision can have such an effect on her future, particularly in regard to future employability. "I started the night just wanting to have a good time and a few drinks, now all I wish is that I hadn’t felt the need to drink at all." Another student, Rich*, also got caught drink driving about a year ago. His case was slightly more serious as he was more severely over the limit and on a more public road, and he was given an eighteen month ban. Rich has found this difficult: "I am still not used to being banned from driving. I don’t know how I am going to be able to afford a car once the ban has been served as a record of it stays on the insurance for eleven years." He also feels pressured not to slip
up again, as he already has a conviction, which will be taken into account if he is ever in trouble with the police again. You wouldn’t look at either of these students or their lives and think: 'criminal'. However, because of some stupid mistakes that is what their records will show. Lydia’s case highlights how easy it is to make ridiculous choices when slightly inebriated. Alcohol appears to have the ability to cause even the most sensible people to behave recklessly. How many of your friends have driven whilst technically
being over the limit? Just because they didn’t get caught doesn’t mean they weren’t drunk. Only the other day a good friend rang me up and told me she had just driven home. It was 2.30am and she was without doubt not a sober lady. How many of your friends have got into fights over stupid things on a night out? I also know a group of lads who thought it would be a good idea to steal a trolley and leave it in the lift of their halls: technically stealing and therefore breaking the law. A friend of mine said, with regard
DRINK DRIVING: Don't take the risk; you'll probably get caught
to Lydia’s situation: "She was so unlucky. We’re all criminals, we’ve all broken the law in some way, it’s just that most of us don’t get caught." I think he might be right; on a night out we all do things we wouldn’t do if we were sober and we are all much more likely to break the law. These cases show that it can happen to any of us. Let’s just do our best to make sure it doesn’t. *names have been changed
gairrhydd | POLITICS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Opik grants a cheeky interview
Prominent Lib Dem, Lembit Opik, took the time to speak to Chris Tarquini about expenses, elections and Afghanistan
embit Opik is the Liberal Democrat MP for the constituency of Montgomeryshire in Wales and was leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats between 2001 and 2007. Well known for a string of high-profile relationships with weather presenter Sian Lloyd and ‘Cheeky Girl’ Gabriela Irimia, he is a regular guest on BBC’s Question Time and a columnist for the Daily Sport. Having criticized the tabloid press for portraying politicians as ‘liars and opportunists’ in their coverage of scandals, it seemed apt to begin our conversation on the topic of MP’s expenses and whether the Kelly Report (which outlines new rules and regulations regarding expenses) went far enough. Whilst Opik welcomes some of the reforms suggested by the Kelly Report he describes preventing MP’s from hiring relatives as "completely unreasonable". ‘Could you employ an ex-wife? If a single MP started to go out with your secretary would you have to fire her? What about if one of your researchers is outstanding but you then discovered he was a distant long lost-cousin, you’d have to show him the door?" he said. Despite this criticism of the report itself he does agree with recommendations about reforms to the expenses system as a whole. "A system where you just have a salary and expenses for your travel and everything else comes out of the MP’s pocket will do away with any ambiguity". This expenses system was set up by as a ‘secret salary’ by Margaret Thatcher in 1983 as a sneaky allowance and is a system created by the Conservatives"
With many political pundits predicting there will be a hung parliament at the next election, meaning no party has a majority, what does he think of press claims that the Liberal Democrats are looking to form a coalition Government with another party, and if they are what do they want in return? "I asked Nick Clegg about this yesterday and he said he hasn’t actually said he was willing to go into a coalition, he said he’d just talk to the largest party first. Based on my experience in Welsh coalition negotiations it’s quite clear that this sort of discussion isn’t about percentages it’s about programme for Government, if a party offers us 100% of our programme we’d be bonkers not to accept it, if on the other hand they offer us 0% we’d be bonkers to take it". But what would this programme amount to? "In my personal opinion we’d want redistribution of wealth, scrapping ineffective council tax system, withdraw from Afghanistan and take a political rather than a military approach there, a more tolerant attitude towards drugs and reform of the electoral system (proportional). It cannot be right that this country is being governed by a party that got only 1/3 of the vote".
"It's too early to tell who we'd form a coalition with" But surely the Liberal Democrat base couldn’t stomach being the junior partners in a Conservative Government? Mr. Opik suggests that it depends on the Conservatives themselves and it is too early to tell. "What is their manifesto? What is their political strength and how trustworthy are they? Parties should be willing to
work with other parties. None of us can tell the future so its impossible to say. I’m sometimes amused by the way that some of my colleague get themselves into a terrible mess on this subject, it’s like trying to predict the weather for May 7 next year which I think is the day after the election."
Lib Dem priorities "Not as snappy as ‘Education Education Education’ which incidentally was a line which I think Tony Blair nicked from Lenin. I’d say ending the recession, redistribution of wealth and fixing our fractured social communities. Successive Labour and Conservative Governments have allowed these fractures to get bigger. With Vince Cable who is generally acknowledged as the best economist in British politics I'd assume we’d really have a credible chance of solving these issues’." But does a political heavyweight like Vince Cable overshadow Nick Clegg? "We use the tools at our disposal and Vince Cable’s one of them, We used to be a one man party but now we have many faces known to the public, we are in the business of marketing our politics. If it works better with Vince and Nick rather than them on their own then I’ll have that. Vince Cable is the best chancellor this country could have". ‘People are satisfied with us enough in places like Cardiff where we are in power to keep electing us and Jenny Willmot as the MP for Cardiff has worked really hard. We avoid mudslinging and focus on working for individuals. I think the reason for our success is we are just more honest. We opposed the war in Iraq when it was unpopular and we have a more informed policy on drugs,; where other people want to punish drug addicts we actually want to cure them. We have
the most consistent record of supporting civil liberties and we’re the only party who’ve talked seriously of negotiating with the Taliban instead of just bombing the hell out of Afghanistan". Even if the Liberal Democrats represent a clear Government in waiting, why shouldn’t people just stick with Labour? ‘What Labour got wrong is that they got cold feet. Labour have a noble tradition and a great history but they haven’t really lived up to it and unfortunately they’ve continued doing what the Conservatives did. We’ve just moved from old Conservative to new Conservative and that has done a lot of damage to the country.
"The Labour Party were ruined by Thatcher and haven't lived up to their history" "Margaret Thatcher was such a bad PM she not only wrecked the country, she wrecked the Labour party as well which is why social inequalities have grown in our country. The Conservatives have an inheritance tax policy that gives the most amount of money back to the richest people, I mean what’s all that about? Labour are good people with their hearts in the right place but they seem to see the details instead of the big picture. They have some very good ministers, Peter Hain is an outstanding Secretary of State
for Wales. The problem is the party has allowed itself to be browbeaten into conventionalism".
Afghanistan What does Mr. Opik have to say about the idea softening our stance on Afghanistan could not only destabilise Afghanistan but Pakistan too? "We should talk about engaging politically instead of military. I believe the lessons from Northern Ireland are it’s easier to negotiate away terrorism rather than to shoot it away". An easy soundbite, but aren’t Al Qaeda (who of course had training camps in Afghanistan) a very different group to those that caused the troubles around Northern Ireland? "No, I’ve heard it all before, ‘they’re intent on wrecking the whole of society’, and now they’re running Northern Ireland and they’re doing it pretty damn well . Some people say these people can’t be negotiated with. We trained Al Qaeda, have they gone mad since we trained them? I don’t think so. If you can connect to people on the basis of what they’re trying to achieve then you’ve got a better chance of altering their methods’.
Jones for the wyn
The new First Minister takes office
CARWYN JONES: Now what?!
elsh Labour announced this week that Carwyn Jones has been elected as its new leader, and therefore as the new First Minister in the Welsh Assembly. Mr. Jones, who represents Bridgend in the Welsh Assembly, won the election to succeed Rhodri Morgan in the first round by obtaining 52% of the vote. His opponents, Edwina Hart and Huw Lewis, polled 29% and 19% respectively. It has already been suggested that Mr. Jones, who is currently the counsel general - the Assembly government’s chief legal advisor, will include his two opponents in his new cabinet when he takes office next week when Mr. Morgan, who has held
the position of First Minister since 2000, officially resigns.
Carwyn Jones aims to unify Welsh Labour and build on Rhodri Morgan's success Since the beginning of the campaign two months ago Mr. Jones had been considered the favourite since he had the support of Welsh MPs in Westminster who, along with Labour AMs, Welsh Labour party members, Labour’s one Welsh MEP and affiliated groups such as trade unions, had
a vote on who would become the next leader. Mr. Jones based his campaign on building on the successes of Mr. Morgan but he pledged to unite his party and to get rid of “perceptions of isolation” in west and north Wales. "We have to make sure that firstly we get a Labour government elected in May 2010," he said. "Secondly then, of course, we have to make sure we win a Labour majority in the assembly elections of 2011. We have to work hard to do that. We have to be united as a party to do that but I'm confident we can certainly do that." There is no doubt that Mr. Jones has some large boots to fill in the coming months.
gairrhydd | POLITICS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Waiting for the last wall to fall
Twenty years ago the Berlin Wall fell, ending a socialist experiment. Edmund Schluessel looks at another divided country
wenty years ago was a bad month for dictators. Egon Krenz resigned in East Germany as December 1989 began; Ceausescu died in Romania as it ended. The democratic left feels ambivalent about the former Soviet empire, akin to Christians' feelings about the Renaissance. We believe in equality, democracy and the advancement of humanity; as such we are ashamed to be associated with the criminal, tyrannical regimes of Stalin and his followers. Nonetheless we view the facts objectively: a backward Russia became one which landed spacecraft on other worlds. What other country came so far in fifty years? In 1936 Trotsky predicted how the USSR would fall and what would happen afterward, and he was right. Russian life expectancy and GDP plummetted after 1989. Inequality attained
unprecedented heights. Full employment in Eastern Europe became mass unemployment, fuelling the growth of neo-fascism. “Democracies” in Russia and elsewhere are merely new oligarchies based in organised crime and state terror. These negative consequences of the end of Stalinism took place in countries that had enough resources for their people to have food and jobs. What happens when Stalinism falls in a country not satisfying those basic needs? What happens in North Korea? North Korea's own government estimates that three million people, ten per cent of the population, died of famine in the 1990s. No night time lights shine into space from North Korea: there's not enough electricity. Militarisation is a huge dead weight on the economy, but the influence of that military blocks any attempt at re-
form that might arise. No real attempts are expected: Kim Jong Il and the rest of the North Korean leadership live notoriously lavish lifestyles and are unlikely to do anything that would put themselves at risk. It is easy to be an armchair leftist and say what "should" happen: North Korea should get what Eastern Europe's revolutionaries of 1989 wanted, a peaceful transition to democratic socialism. A democratic federation of all Korea would have plenty of resources for both countries. Indeed, North Korea has proposed a federation in the past - strictly on terms that would preserve its dictatorship. South Korea has no incentive to accept, as long as capitalism, which views North Korea's plight as a bad investment to be avoided rather than as a humanitarian crisis to be solved, persists. Instead we must look to what likely "will" happen: North Korea's dicta-
A brave nuke world Ayushman Jamwal Politics Writer
ran has faced fresh criticism from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and long standing allies, Russia and China (the UN Security council ‘5 plus 1’ group), over the recent revelation of the under-construction Fordo uranium enrichment plant that has been operating on a heavily bunkered military base near the Shiite holy city of Qom. The nation is currently under scrutiny over the Nantanz industrial enrichment plant in the Isfahan province, which is regularly monitored by IAEA inspectors. The criticism, stemming from deep-seated fears held by Western powers over the nuclear weapons capability of the Ahmedinajad regime, came after the fifth warning from the UN Security Council to Iran to suspend its enrichment operations until suspicions are put to rest.
Iran claims it wants to generate 20,000 megawatts of nuclear energy Along with Iran's continued subjugation to sanctions preventing the flow of uranium enriching and weapons delivery systems technology, the council has demanded that Tehran agree to ship its low-enriched uranium stock to them and abandon the construction of
the Fordo facility. The Iranian government has lashed out against the criticism by announcing plans to build 10 more uranium enrichment plants. Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has also threatened the ‘5 plus 1’ group that it will pull out of the Non-Proliferation treaty, of which it has been a member for forty years. Under the treaty it is a member nation’s right to enrich nuclear fuel and, according to Mottaki, the treaty's use as a method of political bullying could compel Iran to pull out. This has raised fears that Iran could become like North Korea, who pulled out shortly before developing a nuclear weapon. This development has highlighted the unjustified global pressures against Iran’s nuclear programme. The ‘5 plus 1’ group has failed to consider Iran’s stated aim to generate 20,000 megawatts of nuclear energy by 2020. To achieve this it is required to produce 250-300 tonnes of nuclear fuel every year and install at least 500,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium properly for it's energy purposes. This is to be contrasted to the mere 5,000 currently operating at Nantanz. The group also ignored a recent UN report which for the 21st time confirmed that Iran is adhering to international regulations on enriching uranium and has praised the country for allowing a UN team to inspect the Fordo facility. Hypocritical politics and paranoia are not far away. Whilst supporting the curbing of Iranian nuclear enrichment, Russia has announced plans to start Iran’s Bushehr plant in Southern Iran by March 2010. Russian Energy Minister, Sergei Shmatko, has called it a ‘symbol of cooperation’ between the
two nations. Israel has since become worried, arguing that Iran’s nuclear capabilities pose an external threat, which is ironic since Israel is the sole nuclear power in the Middle East with an arsenal of 200 warheads.
Russia has been planning to start a nuclear plant in Iran Growing Iranian resilience and lack of evidence of weapons technology is putting the nuclear neutering campaign on shaky ground. From a campaign for global security and peace it is slowly turning into an attempt by the global powers to limit the capabilities of a non-compliant regime that is a far cry from the sycophantic days of the Shah.
AHMADINEJAD: does he care?
torship will fall, violently. American intervention will be clumsy and bungled. Whatever government follows will somehow manage to make things even worse. Millions will starve, more will become refugees. As a new class of mega-billionaires grow fat off their personal economic empires, most North Koreans will be reduced for
KIM JONG IL
generations to dirt-cheap, dangerous, disposable labour for industrialists across Asia and the world. The worldwide press will gloss over this tragedy, casting it as a necessary evil, birthing pangs of the One True Way of neo-liberal capitalism. The disaster in North Korea will be used to discredit every socially progressive movement, from environmentalists to trade union organisers to peace campaigners. Just as in 1989, we on the left will be blamed for the Kims' perverted “socialism”. But, just as in 1989, I have no doubt that we on the left will lead from the front, working for humanitarian causes and fighting for the rights, freedoms and dignities of the North Korean people. When the Berlin Wall fell we were unpopular; but we were right, and we will be just as right when the last wall falls on the Korean peninsula.
Starting to see red Jonathan Evans Politics Writer
n just six months time we will be witnessing the election of the Tory party into government. In the last two years the lead for the Tories over the beleaguered Labour government has never dropped below 6% and has risen to between 20-26%. In the run up to Tony Blair’s election in 1997, only one poll showed a close lead in the run up to the election, and in the end the defeat was crushing for ‘New’ Labour. Even though the enthusiasm for David Cameron is not overwhelming, it is big enough to be almost certain of the outcome at this time but not of the scale of it. Since the election of David Cameron as leader of the Conservatives in late 2005, so-called “compassionate conservatism” has focused on 'quality of life', accepting communities exist, and issues normally anathema to traditional Conservatives, such as the environment. The Tories are attempting to make social policy the centrepiece of their election campaign, stealing Labour’s own clothes in the process. What then should be made of the near-certainty of a Tory government and the prospects of what may happen then? ResPublica, the new think tank launched by Philip Blond and Cameron a couple of weeks ago, and it’s brand of community based conservatism has created a wave of interest from both left and right in the political spectrum. In an interview earlier this year Blond commented that a lot of people on the Left have said to him that if the Tories follow his advice they will vote accordingly.
What does Blond and his new thinktank stand for if he is so confident this would be the case? Blond spent his formative years in a large working class family in 1980s Liverpool; a city brutally damaged by recession and then de-industrialisation. He clearly relates to working class communities, and sees problems through this prism like no old-Etonian Tory politician can. In the context of the financial crisis we are now in, Blond argues that we have been led to believe in latemodern capitalism's "perennial gale of creative destruction" has the potential to strike a positive chord. Blond also calls for a "new communitarian settlement", involving what he terms the "relocalisation of the economy" and "recapitalisation of the poor" through the establishment of local investment trusts to offer finance to people without assets. This may be a radical concept, but for this to any influence on a governing Tory government next spring, a 1 or 2% swing in the election may make all the difference. In the event of a big majority for the Tories (over 50 seats) in the general election, they are then unlikely to be as moderate and compassionate in office as they are in opposition, as Blond hopes them to be. An organic society, hugging a hoodie, and eco-friendliness would take second place in an elective dictatorship. Conversely, a small and ineffectual majority (50 or less seats), or a hung parliament, could mean the Cameronled Government would have to engage with progressive issues that define the major and minor parties in Parliament. The tide has turned towards the Tory Government, lets just hope it’s small enough to make some real progressive changes to Britain. Watch this space.
22 SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
23 JOBS & MONEY
gairrhydd | JOBS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY SEPTEMBER 14 2009
gairrhydd | SCIENCE@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY OCTOBER 23 2009
Graduate study at Maastricht University:
Dreaming spires without spiraling debt The Times recently described studying at Maastricht University as ‘life amid the dreaming spires of Maastricht’ and rightly made the link to the famous UK universities that share this characteristic. At Maastricht University students can expect to follow Masters programmes which are excellent in terms of research and education and rated accordingly in various international publications. Indeed the University could be called a Ratings high flier rising as it did 60 places in just one year in the Times Higher Education Supplement of the top two hundred universities. The university leaped from 172nd position in 2006 to 116th in 2009. This year our School of Business and Economics was rated by the Financial Times as the 29th best Business School in Europe for the management programmes offered. The university is international in location and in terms of students and staff. It is situated in the heart of Europe and attracts students from all the surrounding countries and much further afield. Most of the Master courses are in English and take place in small groups following the innovative Problem Based Learning method of teaching which fosters teamwork and leadership skills. Employers value Maastricht students highly for their knowledge and ability to work together constructively in teams. Academic and Career prospects are excellent for our students. There are still places available at the university for a range of Master courses. This is expected to be a stark contrast to the UK where the economic crisis is leading to dramatic increases in postgraduate applications. In addition to the high standard of our education and research the fees charged by the University are only a fraction of those charged by UK universities. The Dutch government sets the fee levels that universities can charge. Many Master courses in the area of finance and management in the UK cost between 8-18,000 pounds per year whereas they cost 1620 Euros at Maastricht. Students can expect proven research and educational quality at the university without the debt mountain that they would have after studying in the UK.
Natasja Reslow, PhD student “I graduated from the MA Modern European Languages and European Union Studies at Edinburgh University in June 2007. I wanted to go on to do a postgraduate MA, and I was keen to have an international experience as I had really enjoyed my Erasmus exchange. I also soon realised that continuing my studies in Britain was simply not an option due to the high tuition fees. Maastricht University appealed to me because it strives to be an international university, and it’s located in the very heart of Europe, within easy reach of major cities such as Brussels, Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Cologne. Almost all of the Master’s programmes are taught in English, and the city itself has a very international feel to it you’re just as likely to hear French, German and English as Dutch. The method of teaching at Maastricht University is unique, as it’s based on Problem-Based Learning (PBL). The PBL-system encourages students to be active in their own learning - as a group you formulate learning goals, conduct research, and share your knowledge to come to an answer to key research questions. Tutorial groups never contain more than 15 students, so you have a lot of contact with the tutor and your fellow students. I know that a lot of universities in Britain are having to reduce contact hours for students, while at the same time continuing to increase tuition fees, and this was something that concerned me when making my choice for Maastricht University. In August 2008 I graduated from the MA European Studies at Maastricht. I definitely made the right choice in coming here - I really enjoyed the programme, and I know that I’ve developed skills which employers find attractive, for example a demonstrated ability to work as part of a team. The university is truly international and I’ve made friends from all over Europe. Maastricht is also an innovative and young university, and the facilities (such as the computers and the library) are modern and constantly being updated. I’m convinced that the education here is at least as good as the one I would have had if I had stayed in Britain.“
English-taught Bachelor’s and Master’s Programmes: Internationally recognised and renowned Enjoy Maastricht’s beauty and student life Competitive tuition fees: € 1620/year 2009 Single year Master’s programmes For further information or to receive one of a range of brochures, please contact us via:
www.maastrichtuniversity.nl | email@example.com
Who wouldn't want the prestige of a Nobel prize?
gairrhydd | LETTERS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
the Comments from the week’s news, opinion, features and sport at www.gairrhydd.com We all deserve to do community service... Dear Damian, I was greatly disappointed that your recent article on the Philip Laing incident was even allowed to go to print, to a newspaper that came 2nd in the Guardian awards. Firstly, the language you used was completely inappropriate for a student newspaper - is your vocabularly so limited that you have to repeatedly use swear words to back up your somewhat misguided views. Furthermore, your appauling joke about the McCann family was unacceptable and absolutely disgusting coming from the paper's Political editor. Many people have viewed this joke and article as the worst they have ever read in any publication. It is simply an embarrassment that the student paper would allow this to even be printed. Does anybody actually proof read these or are they just sent straight through? Im sure the many servicemen and families would be less than pleased about your half baked "certain" respect comment - although I doubt you particularly care. Moreover, your description of students as being simply "Young, lazy and arrogant" while "going out" every night is both inaccurate and gives a pathetic impression of the thousands of students in Cardiff who are here to work and gain a degree. It should be important that the University gives out as good an impression of students as possible. Speak for yourself Damian. You obviously dont take this role seriously by referring to the paper as not a "proper" newspaper. Maybe you should consider taking it seriously or not bothering at all. A truly dreadful piece of journal-
ism. Regards, Sean Melody
Legalise it? What are you on? . Malcolm Kyle Alex Evans; you are blatantly helping to increase robberies and assaults on innocent people. —The high prices of drugs caused by prohibition, force many drug addicts to turn to robbery in order to pay for their drugs. Legalised regulation would drop drug prices. Drug users would no longer need to rob/assault innocent people in order to support their drug habit. This violence against innocent people would end if drugs were legally regulated. Alex Evans; you have helped clog prisons with nonviolent people. —Nearly 50% of all people in prison are serving time for nonviolent drug charges. To house just one prisoner for one year costs the taxpayer more than 50 thousand pounds! The result; Drug use has increased! Alex Evans; you obviously support organised crime, terrorists and drug cartels. —Criminal organizations thrive off the enormous profits caused by drug prohibition. These organizations are responsible for thousands of murders! Many of the people killed, or hurt, are innocent people who “get in the way”. These violent organisations will never be put out of business unless drugs are legally regulated. Alex Evans; you are aiding and abetting environmental destruction. —Underground illegal cocaine and
methamphetamine labs use toxic chemicals to produce those drugs. The wastes are recklessly dumped in forests and streams. These highly toxic chemicals are causing major environmental damage in South American rain-forests. This environmental destruction will stop only if drugs are legally regulated. Alex Evans; you appear to help lure thousands of young people into quitting school. —It is a fact that thousands of innercity youths drop out of school to make enormous profits by selling drugs. The incentive to drop out of school would end if drugs were legally regulated. Alex Evans; you are helping to make/keep drugs easily available for kids. —In spite of what you may believe, keeping drugs illegal does not keep drugs away from children! Drugs are easily obtainable in almost every school in the UK. Legalised regulation would put schoolyard drug dealers out of business! There would be less drugs in UK schools if drugs were legally regulated. Alex Evans; you are subsidising criminals by letting them reap huge drug profits without paying taxes. —Since drugs are sold anyway, wouldn’t you rather have them heavily taxed so it would reduce everybody’s tax burden? You are giving criminals a free ride and it’s coming out of your neighbour’s pocket. Working people pay 100% of all taxes for the drug dealers! Why do you want everybody else to pay taxes for drug dealers? Alex Evans; the drug war harms/ kills hundreds of thousands of innocent people and burdens all taxpayers. The drug war has not reduced, and never will reduce, drug use! Alex Evans; prohibition is not regulation; prohibition is a dangerous
“free-for-all” where all the profits go to organized criminals and terrorists! For shame on you Alex Evans!
Here's a thought for the day 7 “who needs to be told what to think, anyway?” the morons of the world…that’s who! maybe not tell them what to think, but rather how to think…for themselves. First off, they need to think realistically, logically, rationally and reasonably. They need to be told the truth… not fantasy, fiction, lies and superstition. As for the Thought For The Day, American Atheist Magazine (last issue) had a quiz in it that brought up many excellent rhetorical questions that would provoke mountains of thought for the unenlightened believer. Will try to post some of them when I get the mag back. (Disagree with u on Dawkins. he just despises ignorance and doesn’t disguise it. TRUTH doesn’t need a disguise either, as it only comes in one flavor and believers find that flavor distasteful. Jonathan The thought of smug arrogant, Richard Dawkins heranging people in the morning!. Enough to turn my radio-alarm clock to buzzer. Well perhaps a system of proportional representation should apply. As there are less than 2,000 members of both the National Secular and the Humanist association and 12million regular weekly church going Christians, two million Muslims etc… in Britian
it would be a very rare ill awakening. Lianne Wilson Jonathan: Twelve million regular church-going Christians, you say? I’m always sceptical of “lies, damned lies and statistics”, but in any case I guess that does only leave Thought For The Day with the other 49,113,205 of us to choose from…
A modern renaissance Cesare Mcardle
I am writing to you in response to the article written by Melissa Mackay, titled ‘a modern renaissance’. I am sorry to say that I respectfully disagree with her arguments. She suggests that students are devoid of culture, whilst suggesting that anyone who enjoys classical music may somehow be higher in society. I feel her generalisation of students being ignorant to high culture encompassed in our lack of understanding of classical music is somewhat off the mark. She used Ludovico Einaudi to prove her point (whilst spelling his name incorrectly in the process) and yet within my house of 8 male ‘standard’ students, 3 of us have a substantial amount of Ludovico’s work on our ipods, the remaining 5 all having an interest in classical music to various extents. I feel our house would represent the student populous well with varying degrees represented and a wide range of interests present. I submit therefore that her views, whilst eloquently presented, are quite simply nothing more than sweeping generalisations. On a further note, I am glad that there has been an article on the topic of classical music, not least at the mention of Einaudi, and would like to see similar articles in the future.
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gairrhydd | TAFOD@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Paratowch am wledd... Gwennan Evans
Mae nofel ddiweddaraf Llwyd Owen, Mr Blaidd, wedi cyrraedd y siopau yn barod at y Nadolig- paratowch am wledd... Egyr y nofel gyda diflaniad Ffion, merch o gefn gwlad Cymru a symudodd i ddinas ar gyrion yr M4 er mwyn ceisio cael gwaith yn un o ffilmiau Valleywood, sy’n ddatblygiad diweddar yn yr ardal. Wedi methu cael hyd i waith, mae Ffion yn troi’n butain ac yn gyffurgi (chwedl Llwyd Owen) a gan nad oes unrhyw wybodaeth yn dod i law amdani, mae ei hefaill, Fflur yn penderfynu mentro i’r ddinas ddrwg i ganfod y gwir. Enw’r ddinas ddychmygol yw Gerddi Hwyan ac mae hwiangerddi’n ganolog iawn i’r stori, yn y modd mwyaf sinistr. Ffion yw’r Hugan Goch Fach a’r Blaidd yw’r drwgweithredwr sy’n gyfrifol am ei diflaniad. Y Ddau Gi Bach yw’r ditectifs sy’n ymchwilio, ond maent yn treulio y rhan fwyaf o’u hamser yn diogi yn y caffi seimllyd lleol, Y Badell Ffrio. Delio cyffuriau y mae Hen Fenyw Fach Cydweli,
a’u losin du a’r Gee Geffyl Bach yw sylfaenydd y diwydiant ffilmiau pornograffig yn y dref! Er bod y cymeriadau hyn yn glyfar iawn, mae Llwyd Owen yn adrodd y
stori mewn modd nad yw’n tynnu gormod o sylw at ei glyfrwch ei hun ac mae’r cyffelybiaethau yn gweithio’n gelfydd. Mae’n debyg fod yr hwiangerddi
hyn yn wreiddiol yn straeon erchyll ond bod y fersiynau yr adroddwyd i ni yn blant yn llawer llai treisgar, felly yn hynny o beth, mae Llwyd Owen yn mynd â ni nôl at y straeon ar eu ffurf cyntefig mewn cyd-destun dinesig. Mae’r stori yn dywyll iawn wrth i Llwyd Owen, yn ôl ei arfer, ein tywys i’w isfyd ond mae digon o hiwmor tywyll ganddo a berodd i fi i fod eisiau darllen yn fy mlaen. Llwyddodd i saernïo’r plot mewn modd a hoeliodd fy sylw o’r cychwyn cyntaf wrth iddo ddatgelu’r stori’n raddol ac roedd rhai o’i ddisgrifiadau yn wefreiddiol. Hoffais yn arbennig y modd yr oedd yn datblygu cymhlethdodau yn y plot yn sgil y ffaith fod cymeriadau’n drysu rhwng y ddwy efaill. Er i Fflur Dafydd ddefnyddio'r un dechneg yn Y Llyfrgell yn ddiweddar, roedd hi’n ymddangos yn ffres ac yn gweithio. Teimlais ei fod hefyd wedi llwyddo’n rhyfeddol i ddweud ei ddweud mewn iaith raenus-
tipyn o gamp wrth ymdrin â’r ddinas fawr ddrwg ac mae’r termau rhywiol Cymraeg y mae wedi eu bathu yn werth eu darllen! Ymysg gwendidau prin y nofel hon, y mae’r prif gymeriad, Fflur, na lwyddodd i’m hargyhoeddi bob tro. Yr oedd ei chymhelliant dros fynd ati i chwilio am ei chwaer ychydig yn amheus, o ystyried mai merch fferm swil oedd hi a theimlais ddiffyg emosiwn ar ei rhan, wrth i’r gwirionedd erchyll am ei chwaer ddod i’r amlwg. Doedd y garwriaeth rhyngddi hi ac Yvonne ddim yn argyhoeddi chwith, ac roedd yn fy atgoffa o’r berthynas yn hoyw chwerthinllyd yn nrama ddiweddaraf Meic Povey! Eto fyth, math o romp yw’r nofel felly gallaf faddau i Llwyd Owen am fethu fy argyhoeddi y tro hwn a byddwn yn argymell y llyfr yn gryf i unrhyw un sydd awydd oriau o ddiddanwch. Ond gair o rybudd, mae’n cynnwys iaith anweddus a chynnwys treisgar, felly peidiwch â phrynu Mr Blaidd i hosan Nain!
SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT 21
gairrhydd | SCIENCE@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Suffering with Christmas Disease
Spare a thought this season for those to whom the name Christmas does not just mean festive cheer Priya Raj Science Editor Christmas Disease was named after Stephen Christmas, the first patient to be diagnosed with the disease and was published in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal. Also known as Haemophilia B, the condition is a blood clotting disorder caused by a genetic defect causing an abnormality of blood clotting. Normal blood contains a range of special proteins and chemicals that cause blood to clot quickly if blood vessels are damaged. This occurs due to a sequence of events known as the 'coagulation cascade', involving a series of reactions between different coagulation 'factors'. The end result is a mesh of protein called 'fibrin', which is the solid part of a clot, and which plugs up the damaged vessel. In Haemophilia B, levels of a coagulation factor (needed to help the blood clot) called Factor IX are reduced. This occurs due to defects in the gene coding for this protein, resulting in a deficiency of the protein Factor IX. Typically some of the symptoms of this disorder include aching, tingling or irritation in the joints, usually the knees, elbows or ankles - this is often the first sign of a bleed. Other symptoms include, pain and swelling in the joints, large and deep bruises, prolonged bleeding after a cut, and blood in your urine or faeces. George Cotton, a second-year student at Cardiff University was
diagnosed with the condition at birth. “I have to be careful with certain medicines that may make my blood thinner and increase the risk of a bleed....it’s not easy but you learn
with the disorder have no family history of the condition and it merely occurs because of a spontaneous change (mutation) in the genes. The chromosomes that determine
genes for Haemophilia B are found only on the X chromosome; thus inheriting the haemophilia gene in a male will mean the individual suffers with the disorder. There is no cure for haemophilia but with treatment it can usually be effectively controlled. The mainstay of treatment is replacement of the missing clotting factor. This is known as replacement therapy and these days, in most countries, including the UK, it consists of concentrates of artificially produced clotting factors (made using recombinant technology, rather than the old method of extracting the clotting factors from donated blood).
"I have to be careful with sport in case I injure myself"
SCROOGE: He's got nothing to complain about to deal with the condition. I have to be careful with sport too - in case I injure myself,” he said. Haemophilia is a genetic disorder. This means that the haemophilia gene is passed down from parent to child. There is usually a family history of haemophilia, but a third of people
whether a person is a male or female are called the X and Y chromosomes. Males have one X and one Y chromosome, and females have two X chromosomes. Chromosomes are structures that carry genes which contain the instructions for life. They are inherited from your parents. The
In severe cases, injections may be given on a regular basis several times a week. This is called prophylaxis, and it aims to help prevent bleeding from happening. In mild or moderate haemophilia, injections are given just when a bleed has or may have occurred (this is called on-demand therapy). Ultimately, haemophilia is a serious condition but with careful management it is more than possible to lead a normal life. Should you want more information, help or advice, then do not hesitate to contact your local GP.
Starting them young Jasmin Skelly looks at the benefits of play-based learning Jasmin Skelly Reporter How should science be taught to young children? A difficult yet vital subject, it is important that the government and schools get it right. Should play-based experimental learning dominate? Or should the focus be on formal classroom learning? The recent primary Cambridge review concluded that informal, playbased learning is more useful to those under six, and this is being demonstrated at Mount Stewart School in Cardiff Bay, where children have benefited from being across the road from Techniquest; a science centre that, through its informal exhibitions, shows and programmes, intends to make science accessible to people young and old.
On its website, Mount Stewart says, “Every child in the school visits at least once a term, to support the delivery of the science curriculum. The children are regularly invited to attend events when there are special visitors or media on site”.
Informal, playbased learning is more useful According to its annual test reports, children at Mount Stewart do much better in science than the average primary school child in Cardiff, and, in fact, throughout Wales. Does this mean that informal learning should be extended to the age of six? Andrew Roache, a trainee secondary school science teacher says: “Children are becoming disaffected with school at a younger age. Starting at a
later age might ease that situation.” He continued: "We work off a spiral curriculum and often children relearn the same things every year. A more focused primary program might help children, and removing a year of study would add to this. "Most children interact with each other more at school than at home, and so I think that play-based learning is best introduced at school at the earliest opportunity." However, there are disadvantages to such a system. “Given the weakness of many pupils in core areas such as Maths, English, Science and IT, it’s important to introduce the topic to children at a young age,” Andrew added. Maria Walker, a newly qualified teacher from Derby, says: “Children learn quicker when they are younger. I don’t think that they are under too much pressure learning formally.
What puts pressure on five-year-olds is constant assessment and testing, and lack of support from their parents and carers. "Children need a supportive and safe environment in which they can reach their full potential; if they don't have this basic foundation, then they will never learn, whether through the formal atmosphere in the classroom, or through play.” One of the problems in teaching science to children, is that teachers often have little background in the sciences, and lack the confidence to teach with enthusiasm. The review recommends that specialist teachers be used more. This would mean two years postgraduate training rather than the existing one. Andrew said: “If training needs to be extended or improved to increase quality then so be it, I would be for it.”
News in brief Newsbites Darwin Auction “On the Origin of Species” celebrated the 150th anniversary of its publication last week. A first edition of Charles Darwin’s masterpiece sold for an impressive £103,000 after the rather conservative valuation of £40£60,000 by Christie’s Auction House. The copy in question had apparently been stored in the toilet cabinet of the owners after they had bought it “for a few shillings” in the 1960s. If you’re craving a bit of Darwin in your life, the last of Cardiff University’s Darwin200 Lecture Series is due to take place on December 10. The lecture, entitled, “The Future of Evolution”, will be delivered by Professor Paul Falkowski of Rutger’s University. Commonwealth Summit Leaders of France and the UK used last Friday’s Commonwealth Summit as an opportunity to announce a new fund to battle climate change. The proposed Copenhagen Launch Fund aims to invest over $10 billion annually into helping developing countries in their struggle to bring down greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. Gordon Brown confirmed that the British government were “absolutely serious” about the scheme with a planned £800m contribution from the UK over the next three years. It is hoped that this investment will encourage poorer countries to commit to a climate treaty, despite possible implications on their economy. fMRI used in murder trial A man accused of murdering and raping a ten-year-old girl caused extended deliberation for the jury when fMRI scans were presented to the court as part of the defence strategy. The brain scans, being used for the first time in the sentencing phase of a trial, were used to show abnormal brain activity in the accused. Supported by the evidence of a neuroscientist and psychopathy research expert, defence attorneys argued that their client, Brian Dugan, was afflicted with a brain disorder causing psychopathic tendencies. Following the unconventional use of medical imaging at such a late stage of trial, the jury took two sessions to come to a death penalty sentence. Hearing with our skin A team of researchers have revealed that sensations picked up by the skin can influence how we interpret sound. Certain sounds elicited during speech such as “pa” and “ta” are known as “aspiration sounds” as they are accompanied by little puffs of air. In the study, published in Nature, scientists showed that when they played a sound that typically had no tactile associations and simultaneously released a tiny puff of air onto the skin of the participants, the information was integrated to “hear” aspiration sounds. This research confirms that we use a range of sensory clues and not just our ears, to understand the audio world around us.
22 JOBS & MONEY
gairrhydd | JOBS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Graduate2Success gives job applicants the know-how Innovative training centre teaches graduates the vital skills needed to get a job in today's tough labour market... Billy Stephenson & Katie Greenway Jobs & Money Over 80% of applicants will fail to get past stage one of the UK’s top graduate recruiters’ selection process. Most graduates think that getting a job is about the interview process. It’s not. Over 80% of applicants will fail to get past stage one of the UK’s top graduate recruiters selection process. How does the employer feel about it? Well in some ways they would like to get the failure rate up a bit more. You see graduate recruitment processes are designed to reduce the number of people that employers have to see face to face. That’s why they put so many obstacles in your way. Most start with
the online application - this has the highest failure rate. They then move on to telephone interviews and psychometric tests. The very final stage is the interview. Companies are continually thinking up new tests to challenge applicants, such as psychometric assessments which have a 68% failure rate and are usually online. Just this week Waitrose have introduced an online Situational Judgement Test that assesses graduates’ judgement and decision-making skills around common work situations. Waitrose’s graduate recruitment team is aiming to narrow down the number of candidates getting to its assessment centres to around 150. Angie Johns, manager of recruitment services at Waitrose, says: “We anticipated an uplift in applicant numbers this year, and therefore wanted
to introduce a new, robust selection tool to our Graduate Assessment Process, to address the challenges of the recruitment market, and the growing numbers of applications.” The final stage is the assessment centre, a process used by virtually all the top employers. Those who want to dominate, stand out and win don’t normally do well in these situations. You often see advice from the employers to “relax and just be yourself”. That might be good advice if you are precisely the person the employer is looking for. Unfortunately, most people are not and even at this stage: there is a 62% failure rate. You need to practice the skills you need in a safe environment not when you are doing it for real! This is where Graduate2Success, through it’s unique one day assess-
ment centre training, has helped many students and graduates to learn the skills they need to succeed. In a safe environment we enable you to practice the behaviours that will get you the job or placement you want. Yes, the top graduate employers are now using the same processes for selecting people for internships as they do for full time graduate roles. And with some employers taking 80% of their graduate trainees from internships the transition from uni to employment is more difficult than ever. At Graduate2Success our team of business and HR professionals have recruited thousands of new graduates and coached many hundreds to success in their careers. As one of our graduates said after their training session: “When you hear and see yourself and understand exactly what it is they
are looking for you suddenly get it. I just felt so much more confident and knew exactly what to expect in the real thing. It just gives you the best possible head start in getting a job.””. Sam Morse, Hedge Fund. You have worked hard during the last few years to get your degree and deserve to have the best possible chance of getting the job you really want. We believe we can give you the extra skills you need to make that dream a reality. For further information please contact Billy Stephenson at billy@ graduate2success.co.uk, (Tel 07810 438 960) or visit the website at www. graduate2success.co.uk.
Mystic Smeg Aries, March 21 – April 20 You’re feeling risqué today. Try something new. If your boyfriend asks you to do that, why don’t you? You don’t have to be such a prude, you know. Everyone’s talking about you. Taurus, April 21 – May 21 You’ll leave your Facebook logged in today. Don’t be so BLOODY careless. This is exactly why I left you, you never noticed the little things. God I can’t believe I fell for you. Gemini, May 22 – June 21 Oh Gemini. Gemini, Gemini, Gemini. What are you like, eh? First you go and annoy Phil Mitchell, and now he’s flushed your head down the toilet. It’s been a bad week for you. (Disclaimer: This may only apply to Ian Beale, and no-one else) Cancer, June 22 – July 22 Mars is a planet that will not alter your life or feelings in any way. Mars, the confectionary item, however, will make you fat but happy. The best kind of happy.
gairrhydd | LISTINGS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
YOUR INDEPENDENT LISTINGS GUIDE Monday
LL FILES, SHERMAN CYMRU, £Free Reserve your tickets now for Radio Wales’ award winning comedy muses. The hilarious truth about life comes out in Wales Today, from Aberdare to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. (It had to be done). Runs until December 10.
AMY WADGE, GLOBE, £10 The Globe mistakenly put this original singersongstress on just after an Amy Winehouse tribute, so I mistakenly thought this was the name of another Winehouse tribute… Wadge… strange name, but I’ve heard she’s well worth a listen.
KRIMBO, KOKO GORILLAZ, £4 Quench Live returns for your entertainment, featuring Milano, King Louis Collective, a calamady of comedians, and all sorts of festive fun times!
CHIC BEAT @ Revolutions, £3.50/£4 The biggest night out on a Tuesday and with good reason: cheap drinks and the best in new and old club music means that if you want a night out on a Tuesday, its always worth considering.
TRAFFIC, UNDERTONE The Cardiff University society will be taking over Undertone once more with their unique take on the nightclubbing experience. With a soundtrack of whomping house and electro, expect face painting, juggling, party games, free giveaways and more.
Wednesday 9th December
PETER GREEN, GLOBE, £18 Fans of Fleetwood Mac, hello. I’ve caught your attention. You might be interested in this! In my experience it’s always a great performance from the legendary blues singer, with an exceptional backing band. THE LASH, SOLUS, £3 AU societies on their last Lash of the term. See how many pictures you can get of footballers' baubles and cheerleaders in nipple tinsel.
JUST DANCE, CLWB IFOR BACH, £3 Clwb is good for your health, fact. Assuming Revs isn't your cup of tea and Comedy Club is inevitably sold out, then Clwb is easily your best option for a night out.
Leo, July 23 - August 23 Nothing to worry about this week. Keep being awesome, everyone appreciates it. Virgo, August 24 – September 22 Destiny calls at 11pm on Friday. Let it go to voicemail, she’ll be drunk and whiny. Steer clear of that one. Libra, September 23 – October 23 You’re going to lose your job this week. Or get one. Or your work prospects will stay the same. I personally guarantee it. Scorpio, October 24 – November 22 Neptune and Mercury are having a cheeky threesome with Saturn. I know! Crazy, right!? This’ll make your love life seem bad in comparison, but remember: it’s just one more person you can’t look in the eye after your two minutes in heaven. Sagittarius, November 23 – December 21 Venus is angry this week. She lost a tennis match, and went bloody mental, didn’t she. Stay out of her way, she’s a right moody one. Capricorn, December 22 – January 20 It’s only bloody Christmas soon. If it’s your birthday soon as well, you might be Jesus. Watch out for that, it’s quite big news. Aquarius, January 21 – February 18 “I want love. Just a different kind.” Bestiality is illegal though, so not that kind. Keep searching, friend. Pisces, February 19 – March 20 Tell him. Go on. Tell him you like him, you dick. He might say yes. It’s 70/30 in favour of no, though.
Students’ Union, Park Place, 02920 387421 www.cardiffstudents.com ! IV Lounge, Neuadd Meirionydd, Heath Park 02920 744948 ! Clwb Ifor Bach ros, Bakers Row 02920 399939 www.clubmetropolitan.com ! Dempseys, Castle Street 02920 252024 ! Move, 7 Mill Lane 02920 225592 ! Jazz, 21 St. Mary Street 02920 387026 www.cafejazzcardiff.com ! The Riverbank Hotel, Despenser Street www.riverbankjazz.co.uk ! St. David’s Hall, Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay 0870 0402000 www.wmc.org.uk ! The New Theatre, Park Place 02920 878889 www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk ! The Cardiff International Arena, Mary Ann Street 02920 224488 ! The Millennium Stadium Can’t miss it. www.millenniumstadium.com ! Tiger Tiger
gairrhydd | LISTINGS@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
10th December CYNT, CLWB IFOR BACH, £3 A standard clubbers favorite, CYNT will hold you until the wee hours of the morning: dance and rave galore. MEGA MEGA MEGA XMAS PARTY, MILLENNIUM MUSIC HALL Count and Sinden bring on the festive cheer for a mega mega mega fun night. The Millennium Music Hall was previously Sub 29. BOUNCE, WALKABOUT, £3 And if all else fails, bounce!
LILY ALLEN, CIA, £23 OMG. Go wild as the world’s most prized and disguised chav prances around on Welsh soil. She’s extended her November tour due to absolutely overwhelming demand.
LES MISERABLES, MILLENNIUM CENTRE, From £10 For those of you not quite adventurous enough for a Megabus to London, here’s an alternative – see the world’s longest running musical in its 25th anniversary year, and be sure to leave a little less miserable than you were before.
JOHN OTWAY, GLOBE, £12 With song names like Beware of the Flowers, ‘cos I’m sure they’re gonna get you, yeah! and Give us the baby, Rumpelstiltskin, why wouldn’t you check him out? This guy, now with two, yes two, hits to his name, is a complete nutter on stage, believe me – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet… DRINK THE BAR DRY, Solus, £3 Think you're a man? Want to make the (aptly named, in this case) Guinness Book of World Records by having an alcohol-blood level rather than a blood-alcohol level? Be sure to be politely asking for a Mamas kebab 12 hours earlier than usual today...
ROBIN HOOD, NEW THEATRE, From £8 Booooo… it’s panto season once more! (Actually, it’s a bit early, isn’t it?). Anyway, John Barrowman, star of Doctor Who and Torchwood, features as Nottingham’s bowed assassin. While we’re at it – Keely Hazel is behind you! (Oh no she isn’t). RUSSELL HOWARD, CIA, £25 Mock the week’s baby-faced Bristolian funnyman presents his new tour Big Rooms and Belly Laughs. No matter how big your belly actually is, the size of the laughs are sure to be topping the John Prescott scale tonight. BABYSHAMBLES, GREAT HALL, £21 You either love Pete or hate him so whatever I say here is going to make absolutely no difference in determining whether you shell out the cash to go and see the Babyshambles or not. SILENT DISCO, SOLUS, £7 The Union jumps on the environmentalist bandwagon as noise pollution is reduced to those too stupid to realise that they're the only ones singing.
13th December MARTYN JOSEPH, MILLENNIUM CENTRE, £12 Just when you think you’ve got a handle on singer-songwriters, along comes Martyn Joseph to blow the myth away... There’s nothing predictable about a Joseph gig - only that it could make you laugh, cry, get you thinking, and leave you reeling. FULL FAT ANTI-SOCIAL, 10 FEET TALL The Full Fat Anti-Social presents an alternative night of quality drinks and music for party people on a Sunday and takes place across three bars: Mr Smith's, 10 Feet Tall and Buffalo Bar! HAR MAR SUPERSTAR, BARFLY I have no idea what to say about him, if you go see him email a review of 50 words or less to listings. Best entry wins a cookie. Or just email anything for my entertainment. VINTAGE/FLEA MARKET, MILKWOOD GALLERY, ROATH, FREE (Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th) Family friendly market selling a wide variety of vintage clothes, cakes, crafts and gifts. There will also be a Christmas Grotto made by artist Dominic Gubb, refreshments and craft workshops.
(The Welsh Club), 11 Womanby Street 02920 232199 www.clwb.net ! Barfly, Kingsway, Tickets: 08709070999 www.barflyclub.com/cardiff ! MetIncognito, Park Place 02920 412190 ! Liquid, St. Mary Street 02920645464 ! The Philharmonic, 76-77 St. Mary Street 02920 230678 ! Café The Hayes 02920 878444 www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk ! Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Canton 02920 304400 www.chapter.org ! Wales Sherman Theatre, Senghennydd Road 02920 646900 www.shermantheatre.co.uk ! The Glee Club, Mermaid Quay 0870 2415093 www.glee.co.uk ! Greyfriar's Road 02920 391944 www.tigertiger.co.uk ! Tommy’s Bar, Howard Gardens (off Newport Road) 02920 416192 !
gairrhydd | FEATURES@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY MAY 18 2009
FIVE MINUTE FUN 27 EASY
gairrhydd | FMF@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
8. Decorative case (4) 9. Willow twig (5) 10. Person, place or thing (4) 11. Be imminent (6) 12. Plausible but false (8) 13. Strict disciplinarian (8) 15. Develop (6) 17. A cord worn around the neck (7) 19. Flightless bird (7) 22. Unusual mental ability (6) 24. Disconnect (8) 26. Gravure (8) 28. Chaperone (6) 30. Found in skin lotion (4) 31. Indian antelope (5) 32. Honk (4)
1. Detail (4) 2. Straightaway (8) 3. Aureate (6) 4. Hairy (7) 5. Pants (8) 6. Having a color between blue and violet (6) 7. Doozy (4) 14. Without delay (5) 16. Outspoken (5) 18. Fidgety (8) 20. A gambling game using a wheel (8) 21. Post-mortem (7) 23. Pictures (6) 25. Encrypting (6) 27. Void (4) 29. A gas found in some lights (4)
a t a h w , y e k i Cr ! y e k i l a k o lo
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28 SPORT- WARM UP Previews in Jon Evans gives you the lowdown on this year's brief contenders for the BBC Sports Personality Award
gairrhydd | SPORT@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Heineken Cup Group Match Blues vs Toulouse Cardiff Blues will be looking to get their season back on track this weekend as they face Toulouse in their Heineken Cup group match. Cardiff have been propping up the Magners League table of late and will be desperate to kick start their season with a victory on Saturday. Toulouse won the competition in 2005 and were runners-up two seasons ago. They are fourth in the French Top 14 and their wing Vincent Clerc, who is the record try scorer in the tournament, will be anxious to add to his tally at the Cardiff City stadium.
The sides have played each other twice in the cup with one win apiece. Cardiff are second in their pool behind the French side and a victory would see them in good stead to qualify for the quarter-finals. These matches always have a bit of spice to them and with the internationals back in the side it should be well worth a watch.
Championship Football West Brom vs Cardiff On Tuesday night, the high flying Baggies will host Cardiff City at the Hawthorns. West Brom are second only to Newcastle in the Championship, while Cardiff have dropped out of the play-offs due to a string of poor performances. City's free scoring start to the season is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as a number of their players have come under stinging criticism from fans. The busy Christmas period will prove to be hugely important for Dave Jones' side. The Bluebirds are desperate to obtain promotion after narrowly missing out on the play-offs in recent seasons. This difficult test could prove crucial in their stuttering season.
Yes, 12 months have passed and it’s that time of year again where the best of British sport are honoured for their achievements in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. This 56th annual ceremony will be held this Sunday at the Sheffield Arena, with the ten contenders looking to take home the prestigious silver camera. The winner last year was Chris Hoy and this year’s competition is particularly strong with the line-up boasting a selection of world champions, record breakers, and global superstars. As per usual the winner will be selected by the viewers in a public vote. There are eight honours to be given out in total including the unsung hero and lifetime achievement awards. From the field of athletics, two world champions are nominated in Jessica Ennis and Phillips Idowu. Jenson Button has been selected for his Formula One winning season along with 15-year-old driving sensation Tom Daley. The ever-young Ryan Giggs and ever happy Andy Murray have been chosen along with cyclist Mark Cavendish, World Champion gymnast Beth Tweddle and Asheswinning captain Andrew Strauss. Recently crowned WBA heavyweight champ David Haye completes the ten nominees. The shortlist is formulated by 26 experts from national newspapers and magazines who each nominate their chosen ten athletes. The ten sportsmen and women with the most nominations are then put up for the public vote. The fact that representatives from nine different disciplines have been chosen highlights the current strength
in British sport and is hugely promising as the 2012 Games rapidly approaches. It would appear that the bookies favourite is recently crowned F1 champion Jenson Button. The 29-year-old had a stunning season for the Brawn GB team and will be racing alongside fellow Brit Lewis Hamilton at McLaren next year. It has been Hamilton who has narrowly lost the Sports Personality Award for the last two years and perhaps this could be the year that a Formula One driver takes home the honour.
A selction of world champions, record breakers and global superstars One athlete who will not have to travel far to the ceremony is Sheffieldborn heptathlete Jessica Ennis. The 23 -year-old, who represents the City of Sheffield Athletic Club, won gold earlier this year in Berlin and has shown great potential in her short career. With a likeable personality and a psychology degree to boot, Ennis is rapidly becoming one of British sports' most recognisable faces. She will be accompanied by fellow athlete Phillips Idowu who also took gold in Germany this summer in the triple jump. Idowu, who has always struggled to fulfil his massive potential, finally got it right in the final, jumping a personal best in the process. The last footballer to be nominated was Steven Gerrard in 2005, and I’m sure there will be few complaints with the selection of Ryan Giggs this year. At 36, the Welsh wizard seems to have been around for an age and can lay claim to being the most decorated player in the history of English league football. With 11 Premiership titles, four FA cups and two European Cups under his belt, Giggs went on to win the PFA Player of the Year award last season, and is a good bet to take home another trophy this Sunday. In true biblical fashion, David did beat Goliath a few weeks ago and he was crowned WBA heavyweight champion. Of course I’m talking about David Haye, not the Old Testa-
ment. Nevertheless, Haye has made the transition from cruiserweight to heavyweight look easy, and with the possibility of a showdown against one of the Klitschko brothers, he could become one of the biggest boxers in recent history. Beth Tweddle has been described as the most successful British gymnast of all time and at just 24 she was crowned world champion after her routine on the floor this year. She also won two golds this year at the World University Games. After finishing third in the Sports Personality three years ago, she will be looking to do even better this weekend. Mark Cavendish won a remarkable six stages at this year’s Tour de France and also won the Milan–San Remo classic as well this season. The 24-year-old rider from the Isle of Man has a bright future ahead of him. Although none of the nominees have quite as much time left in their career as 15-year-old Tom Daley. The teenage sensation scooped gold at the world championships after springing to national attention in the Beijing Olympics. Andrew Strauss has been rightly nominated after he captained the England cricket side to victory over the Aussies this summer. He was named player of the series and had the highest average batting score in the Ashes.
A fantastic display of leading by example I’m sure you’ll agree.
The dazzling array of talent is credit to a fantastic season of British sport The final choice is Andy Murray. The Scot was ranked at number two earlier this season and is the most successful British tennis player in recent history. After winning six different tournaments and reaching the semi finals of Wimbledon, it has been another cracking year for the man who is still only 22. Although Button seems to be the book-makers favourite, I have a sneaky suspicion that Giggs may just take the award. His brilliant career on and off the pitch is something to be greatly admired and I feel voters may recognise this. One thing that is certain is the dazzling array of talent on display, which is credit to a fantastic season of British sport. My predictions: Ryan Giggs 1st Jenson Button 2nd Jessica Ennis 3rd
High fives all round for last year's winner Chris Hoy
BBC Sports Personality Award: The Editors' predictions James Hinks: Jenson Button has surely got to be the winner. Not only because, arguably, his achievement surpasses anyone elses, but logically he will win most votes. All the motor heads will phone up in their droves. Especially after the fury last year when their favourite, Hamilton, was beaten to second place by a guy who cycles. Button is the deserved winner and the bookies' favourites. By the way if Giggs wins, it will an absolute farce and joke, like when Walcott won SPOTY.
Lucy Morgan: Deciding on a winner this year is difficult and there are a number of really strong contenders. But, I am backing Beth Tweddle. She’s had an amazing year - winning double gold at the World University Games and, of course, winning gold at the World Championships. She is clearly one of Britain’s greatest gymnastic talents and became Britain’s first world champion in 2006 - the same year in which she came third at BBC’s Sport’s Personality of the Year. This year, it’s about time she came away as winner.
Robbie Wells: I don’t know that any of this year’s nominees have really been head and shoulders above the rest; Strauss played brilliantly, but is a painfully dull man. Haye is world champion but he just beat a big fat man, and Jenson did great, but it was more down to his team than his brilliance. Ryan Giggs certainly doesn’t deserve it; he’s just old. Lifetime achievement, sure, but best sportsman? No. Andy Murray has played terrifically, and can claim with some justification to be the world's best hard court player. Because of the sheer competition in his sport, I’d make him the SPOTY 2009.
Adam Horne: In my mind all this years contenders still have something to prove before they win this award. All have won their fair share of competitions, but none in any particularly amazing fashion. Saying this, I have a feeling Andrew Strauss will snatch it. Everyone in the country loves the Ashes, and for him to have captained the England team to win it back will have put him in good stead. Haye could also be in for a shout with his victory fresh in everyone’s minds but his fight, to be fair, was uninspiring and he has a few more fights to go before he deserves to win this award.
THE WORD ON - SPORT 29 TOP FIVE... Lucy Morgan gives The Word On... the Welsh rugby Lessons learnt from the Autumn Series team's disappointing Autumn International series 1. gairrhydd | SPORT@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
When it comes to rugby, there is a tendency amongst the Welsh public and media to be overly critical. The immense public pressure on the national team is unbelievable and, at times, quite unjust. But, after Wales’ performance this autumn, this criticism is arguably valid. The entire series was disappointing, but it was the performance against Australia which was the most shocking for the vast majority of Welsh supporters. Wales may not have showed great promise in the lead-up to this game but their performance against Australia really highlighted a number of problems in the squad. Defence coach Shaun Edwards even deemed it his “worst day with Wales so far” and, as a result of their performances this autumn, Wales have now moved down two places in IRB World rankings and are currently sitting in eighth position – below both England and Ireland.
as a way to ‘blood in’ new, young players they also highlighted the lack of strength in depth which has been a problem in Wales for a long time now.
Their performance against Australia really highlighted a number of problems in the squad
Giteau turns the screw
What was most shocking in the match against the Wallabies was the complete lack of defence shown by the Welsh squad. Wales were arguably one of the first teams to effectively put in place the drift defence? And since the arrival of Shaun Edwards, the Welsh defence has been the object of much praise. Yet, at the Millennium Stadium last weekend it appeared to be non-existent. To add to this there was no flair in attack and Wales never even looked like breaking the Australian defence. Admittedly there were a number of injuries in the squad and the team were bound to be thrown by the loss of their captain as well as winger Shane Williams so early on in the game. It’s no secret how important Williams is in inspiring the team and many members of the Welsh squad have expressed how seeing Williams work his magic on field can really lift their game. However, Wales have got to learn to cope with injuries. Right or wrong, with the game the way that it is, injuries are seemingly unavoidable and teams must be able to cope with that. As much as the injuries were deemed by the Welsh management
Jones caught the Pumas napping from a penalty and the other two from poor opposition kicks and some individual brilliance from the masterful Shane Williams.
There are rumours that the elusive Gavin Henson may be coaxed back to the Welsh squad
Wales did, however, win two out of their four autumn tests. This is by no means disastrous, but the win over Samoa was uneasy and the only comfortable performance came against Argentina. Even then it was clear that a number of improvements needed to be made. Tries came, but they weren’t created - one coming when Stephen
As a Welsh rugby supporter I find it hard to be so negative and maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem. As Prop Gethin Jenkins has stated, “there is no need to panic.” Jenkins was adamant last week that Wales did not have a “completely wasted campaign”. As Forwards coach Robin McBryde pointed out, “The good thing is we’ll look at ourselves and analyse our game”. You can be sure that Wales will have learnt a lot from these tests and will be out to prove a point to themselves and the Welsh public that they are capable of playing an exciting brand of rugby that draws in the crowds and most importantly, wins matches. The disappointment amongst fans at the Millennium Stadium last weekend was palpable – many slipped away early whilst a number of those remaining booed the team off the pitch. Now, I’m not saying this is right. It’s never
nice to see your side booed off and, as a fan, you should stick with your team through thick and thin. However, maybe this reaction will give Wales an added incentive to prove their abilities and make an impact when the Six Nations kicks off in February. There is a lot to be done before then but work is already under way. Wales are apparently planning a new game plan for the tournament and players and coaching staff alike both recognise, and are showing confidence in the task ahead. As Dwayne Peel stated, “We’ve got to put things right for the Six Nations.” Furthermore, attack Coach, Rob Howley, has insisted that Wales are “relishing” starting their Six Nations bid against England at Twickenham on February 6 adding that Twickenham is the “perfect place for Wales to rediscover their form”. It is, after all, where the 2008 Grand Slam got under way. If Wales can rediscover their form from the 2008 season and even that of their opener against Scotland last season they will be flying! What’s more, with the likes of Lee Byrne, Mike Phillips and Adam Jones looking set to be back and fit for the Six Nations, all is most certainly not lost. There are even rumours that the elusive Gavin Henson may be coaxed back to the Welsh squad. Whether or not this would be a good thing for Welsh Rugby is questionable, but that’s another debate in itself.
The Rugby was dulL. Australia and New Zealand aside, this autumn saw a new low in the history of running rugby.
2. Ireland have proved themselves as the best of the home nations.After their fantastic victory over South Africa, Ireland confirmed that they are yet again favourites to win the six nations.
3. There is still a huge gap between Nothern and Southern hemisphere sides. This autumn proved that the Northern hemisphere sides have still got a long way to go in terms of matching Southern hemisphere standards.
4. Rugby is still popular with the public. The demand for tickets was huge with Italy even drawing 80,000 to the San Siro.
Down and out: Shane sums up the Welsh performances
Teams would do better to stick to their usual colours. England in purple? Wales in Yellow? Enough said.
30 SPORT - FEATURES
gairrhydd | SPORT@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
Burn out results in ATP world tour finals anti-climax Club, London, saw two of the original eight compete. Here the winner gained 250 ranking points – the minimum at this level – and !84,300; to watch, mid-week Centre Court tickets cost around £65 each.
Ellie Jackson Sports Writer The first ball in this year’s ATP World Tour Finals hadn’t even been struck before the sixth of the eight men to qualify and people’s favourite – Andy Roddick – was forced to pull out because of knee trouble. This was followed, on the opening Sunday, by Andy Murray frequently clutching his own knee during his first match against Juan Martin Del Potro. Then, by the end of the week, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were fighting not only each other, but a bad back and fatigue respectively. Even Roger Federer wasn’t his usual awedefying self. Okay, the week still provided some great tennis, notably Robin Soderling, Roddick’s replacement, rising to the occasion. However, it did seem odd that despite the array of physical problems, each match followed the announcement: six continents. 32 countries. 65 tournaments. Making the ATP World Tour the toughest in sport. Great. But so what? If it works, fine, show off all you like; however, at an event where the players are clearly struggling physically, it’s ridiculous. However, the greater issue is that this year is not unique: last year’s Finals were particularly farcical due to the absence of the then world number one, Nadal, through injury. Another former world number one, Marat Safin, has also been vocal in pointing out that he questioned the tour length back in 2004.
Players are clearly struggling physically, it's ridiculous
NADAL: Feeling the burn This year, the issue seemingly peaked on October 13 when Roddick spewed a series of tweets, arguing: “I just dont think it makes sense that we have a year as long as we do, and then people act shocked when injuries play a part.” The tennis world certainly shouldn’t be ‘shocked’. In restricting the annual number of tournaments in which its best juniors are able to compete in it
clearly acknowledges the physical dangers of over-playing. So, why are the top men faced with a minimum number of compulsory events? On top of this, 2006 saw the ATP shorten most double matches via sudden-death deuces and final set match tie-breaks (first to ten points). The aim was partly to make them more television-orientated, but also to encourage more singles players to participate.
There is, as Roddick also noted, a need for “keeping the top product on the court at all times.” The tournaments themselves, along with broadcasting companies, profit in particular with the appearance of any of the top eight. This is blindingly apparent, for example in the UK’s pre-Wimbledon events. 2009’s Aegon Championships, the ATP World Tour event at Queen’s
Also present, but un-seeded, were Gilles Miller and Robert Kendrick who, the previous week, had been the top seeds at Nottingham’s Aegon Trophy, part of the lower-graded ATP Challenger Tour. This event not only differed in its prize (up for grabs were 75 ranking points and !6,150) but the first five of its nine days were free to watch and, afterwards, never more than £5. It appears that people will fork-out to see tennis, but only for the best. The Barclays ATP World Tennis Finals and the Aegon Championships are such successes because their line-ups – even with alterations – guarantee top-class play. Overall, the current ATP World Tour is seemingly heading towards a fight between quality and quantity. Do we, like Roddick, want “a shorter schedule [which] will keep stars like Roger and Rafa around for more years”? Or do we care more about having almost continual access to the world’s finest, but ailing, players? As they said all week at the O2: “Let battle commence.”
Oh crumb all ye faithful, Dentistry are triumphant James Hinks Sports Editor A presentation was held at the rubber crumb pitch at Talybont on Thursday to celebrate the end of IMG's first ever 7-a-side tournament and commemorate the University's investment in more sports facilities. The building of this modern pitch is a sign of increasing sporting commitment from the University. This new 3G all-weather pitch built last academic year has meant that many more students can play sports, even with the recent torrential rain. The IMG 7-a-side tournament held throughout autumn is just one example of the success of this facility. Although this tournament was played during the wettest November on record all matches may still be played to schedule each week. Dentistry won the IMG tournament after emphatically winning their final matches against AFC Fishbowl and Woodville Warriors. Klaw battled the winners right to the end and were only beaten on goal difference.
There was an exciting end to the tournament. Klaw could have gone top if they won their last match against Anglo-Welsh Nomads, with a ninegoal margin to overtake Dentistry's superior goal difference. This arduous task did not phase Klaw who went allout to win. The onlooking Dentistry team did panic when they saw Klaw take an early two-goal lead. However, Klaw were caught out on the counter attack by the Nomads who scored some fantastic break away goals. Klaw scored the necessary nine goals but also let in five, narrowly allowing Dentistry to win the league. The tournament, reopening in January, was a great success. There is further registration for the next tournament so new teams could pose a challenge for Dentistry who will try and defend their title. After much campaigning the 3G pitch symbolises a real move forward for University sports facilities. The investment from the University has directly improved student involvement in sport, which is something they should continue to work on. SUCCESS: Dentistry crowned first IMG 7-a-side Champions
BUCS - SPORT 31
gairrhydd | SPORT@GAIRRHYDD.COM MONDAY DECEMBER 07 2009
We ski Kings Steffan Shaw & Mark Carless Sports Writers
An improving performance at the weekend from all of the Cardiff Snowsports teams sees the club sitting in a strong position after the first and second rounds of the Kings ski and snowboard league. The monthly Kings events offer a platform for Cardiff Snowsports to compete with other universities in the West and Wales for valuable BUCS points and bragging rights on the day. Having matched their performance from the first Kings round, Rowan Vernon lead the girl’s only ski team, further consisting of Suzy Rockester, Ellen Heathcote, Victoria Seabrook, Grace Mccutchan and India Cairns, to a deserved second place after excellent runs in a time trial event against some of the more fearsome teams in the UK. Having had a nightmare first
round seeing excellent newcomers Pete Morrison and Fern Bowles both suffer injuries, the board team pulled off a dramatic second place result. Having placed fourth after the time trial stage, the team of Mark Carless, Fern Bowles, Tom Clarke and Martin Riggs rose to the challenge in the semi-final and beat the leading qualifying team, Bath, with a clean run to give them a spot in the final and racing for a victory. Being the weaker of the two teams Cardiff Snowsports went for broke and unfortunately errors in the first and third leg of the race cost them precious time placing them second overall behind arch rivals Swansea, but still a well earned and commendable result. By qualifying in the top four teams after the time trial stage of the event Cardiff’s first team skiers knew that a victory could be possible sporting a strong team of Steffan Shaw, Jonny Dauncey, John Anderson, Rowan Vernon and Grace Mccutchan.
After winning the semi-final round against UWE it would be a challenge in the final to beat the league front runners Bristol. The team showed major presence by leading through the first three legs of the race but unfortunately were pulled back and beaten by the strongest university ski team in the UK by a mere few metres. Cardiff’s second team Skiers Victoria Seabrook, India Cairns, Philippe Nicol, Greg van der Donk and Ella Toynton were less fortunate on the night when equipment problems and some confusion in the start gate in one race saw them finish in the lower half of the standings, a result that they did not deserve given their consistently high standard of skiing. After second rounds of Kings, Cardiff Snowsports are looking strong heading into the second half of the season and look forward to the coming weekend where the club head to Edinburgh for their annual BUDS event, the biggest dryslope competition of the calendar.
Snow sports love Christmas
Deke the halls and join up hockey
Red noses for the red Hawks
Fraser Lewis Sports Writer Tired of traditional sports? Fancy trying something completely different? Ready for a challenge? Ice Hockey is the perfect sport for you! It’s an exciting sport, which not only provides you with a huge adrenaline kick but a chance to develop new skills and meet a group of different people. Come along and join the Redhawks. We’re a group of students and staff, male and female, who play ice hockey for the University. We train on Tuesday evenings at the ice rink in Cardiff Bay. We welcome players of all standards – from total beginners to experienced players. Players are able to improve and develop skills through training sessions with drills, exercises and matches. The Redhawks are a member of the British Universities Ice Hockey Association so you have the chance to play in official fixtures, mostly taking place at weekends. The Redhawks were formed in 2004 by a handful of students from Cardiff University, most of whom had never played before. Since then,
the club has grown in numbers; with players joining from neighbouring universities - UWIC, Glamorgan, Swansea and Newport and the team continues to go from strength to strength. Last year, both A and B teams came top of their respective divisions, with the Bs going on to win both their nationwide play-off and their end of season National Championships. Following these successes, the A team has moved up to Division 1 – the top level of universities’ ice hockey. Both squads participate in an Annual Varsity Match against the Edinburgh Eagles – The Celtic Cup and Plate. This provides us with one of the year’s highlights, the legendary “hockey tour”. It also allows players to socialise with players from the Scottish Universities. How about a new challenge? Come down to the ice rink on a Tuesday evening and have a go! Even if you don’t know much about the sport, why don’t you come and join us? We’re a friendly lot. Everyone welcome. Contact us at email@example.com, check out the website www.redhawks.co.uk or contact us via Facebook, “Cardiff Redhawks”
Frisbee 'step up' at national finals continued from back page had to fight to get back into the game, however at 5-4, Manchester managed to deliver the final blow in the final seconds to finish 6-4. With Cardiff’s hopes of a final spot dashed, No Frills found themselves somewhat unexpectedly against Ro Sham Bo in the three versus four playoff match after Ro Sham Bo lost their semi-final game to a strong Portsmouth side. Once again the match proved to be high in intensity and excitement as No Frills battled hard against Ro Sham’s effective offence. Unwilling to take the match lying down, the highly competitive game went to the wire. At 5-4, a point from No Frills which would have levelled the game and more than likely taken it to a tie-
break - was disallowed. With little time left in the game, No Frills had to settle for fourth place despite battling hard and proving their worth against the previous title holders Ro Sham Bo. Lee Taylor who played an integral part in the weekends play, committing to the disc with a number of spectacular layout blocks earned himself the MVP award for the weekend. The first team were also joined at the weekend by the much improved second team, competing in division two of the competition as one of only two seconds teams. No Frills two competed in the lower half of division two after some disappointing results in the first days play, which saw them come out of the blocks cold. However, on day two the team
came out all guns blazing in their first match against Dundee’s second team as Frills set off in search of the plate. The game against Dundee would determine who was the best second team in the country, and as a result each side committed to the game whole heartedly. The two teams traded point for point in a fierce battle for the advantage until at 6-6 the buzzer went, causing the game to go into sudden death. No Frills kept their head, quickly converting a series of smart passes into a match wining score. Progressing from this match they came to face a tough but beatable Aberdeen side in a match that would decide who would go through to the plate final. Unfortunately after some hard fought points and some loose throws from both sides, the game
went to Edinburgh, leaving No Frills to fight it out against Sheffield once more to decide final seedings. The tournament saw Cardiff realise a fine performance in both the first and second teams. Finishing fourth and
28th, Cardiff delivered a performance that would only spur them on for the outdoor Nationals in the new year, a competition No Frills have previously won.
Lads on tour: Boom head shot
INSIDE: BUCS, IMG 7-a-side, The Word On...Wales' Autumn Internationals and Sports Personality of the Year 2009
PHOTO: STEPHANE PLANEL
'Tis the season to be volley
Stephane Planel Sports Writer The nine different nationalities of Cardiff Men's Volleyball 1sts are taking part in three competitions this year, namely: BUCS, Volleyball England Student Cup and a new local Cardiff league. While a lot of the players are together for their second consecutive season, there are five new recruits to the team.
The first event attended was the Student Cup Qualifiers in Kettering, where four games were played Cardiff came out on top of their first three games winning comfortably against Sussex, Portsmouth and Brunel. The last game of the day was against Loughborough 2nds and Cardiff were faced with their strongest opposition so far this year. Some defensive mistakes were made, but Cardiff displayed some useful skills, notably some tenacious serving dem-
onstrated by Woicke. The game was secured in two sets 25-17 and 25-21 and experience was gained from the thrilling games. The team is now through to the finals which will be in February next year. The two strongest opponents Cardiff faced were in the BUCS series against last year’s conference rival Bath, and the rising stars Bournemouth. Tension could be felt around the court during both games. According to captain Planel, the game against
Bath was the best performance Cardiff had produced so far this season: "The team was organised, focused, and mentally ready for this game. The team-spirit was also on a high". Cardiff came out on top winning in two convincing sets: 25-17 and 25-18. Many important points were scored by the powerful Challoumas, great defensive skills were displayed by Molero and intelligent play was demonstrated by the maestro Kastanos. One very exciting moment from
the BUCS series was against the well organised Bournemouth squad where Cardiff showed some great mental force closing the deal on the breathtaking score of 29-27 in the second set. Only one Cardiff league game has been played so far. This has caused Planel some major selection headaches, as all 12 first team members can argue for their place on court.
Season's beatings for frisbee Gareth Ludkin Sports Writer Fourth Place in National Finals Cardiff University’s Ultimate Frisbee team, No Frills, once again proved their talent at this year’s BUCS Indoor Ultimate Championship, finishing a highly respectable fourth place. Against such a talented field of teams, Cardiff’s fourth place proves that they remain a threat in Uni Ultimate, despite missing out on the first place that the team was so hungry for.
Having moved through the regional stages of BUCS with ease, No Frills went into last weekend’s competition with high hopes of competing in the final; however, it would prove to be by no means an easy feat as several teams put No Frills through their paces in a number of tough and physical games which challenged No Frills’ characteristically chilled and measured style of play. Held on an indoor 3G rubber crumb at Manchester City’s training ground, No Frills’ first team attacked the first days play with some well drilled offence and a tight defence. Adapting to the new conditions,
Frills defeated a much improved Sussex side in their first game before dominating Birmingham without too much of a problem. Their toughest game of the day would come against old rivals, and previous winners of the competition, Ro Sham Bo, from Edinburgh University. Ro Sham Bo pushed Frills hard, challenging their defensive play and creating a lead early on in the game. Despite a lack of height, Ro Sham Bo were able to move the disk around quickly, catching No Frills off guard on a number of occasions. Frills captain, Christopher Griggs-
Trevarthen, said: “Ro Sham showed why they had won this competition more times than anyone else and went up early before we had time to adapt to their aggressive homeboy offence.” Finishing second in their group, No Frills progressed to the crossovers where they would come up against the Southampton Skunks, whom they have played and beat convincingly in the regional stages of the competition. Confident in their ability, No Frills played some effective homeboy to take a comfortable lead, completing the day in the top eight of the competition.
Day two saw No Frills challenge themselves further in a quarter-final match against Cambridge Strange Blue. In five previous meetings, Cardiff had pipped Cambridge to the post by only one point, and this year proved to be no different, with No Frills taking the nail-biting game 5-4. The semi-finals would prove to be equally as exciting, with Cardiff coming up against a young and confident Manchester team. Losing two early points No Frills...
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