gair rhydd y Monday February 2nd 2015 | freeword | Issue 1042
In this week’s issue: One man’s battle with the most frustrating supermarket in the world, GM mosquitoes, DNA in food and why we should take a statutory citizen’s income seriously
Auf wiedersehen, test: German exam grade void Students informed ten days after sitting test that results are to be discounted because of “unfair advantage”
arks for a third year German exam have been discounted after confusion over whether the exam was intended to be ‘seen’ or ‘unseen’. Approximately 40 students sat the exam, which accounted for 70 per cent of a compulsory module for all third year students, on the 16th January. Just 10 days later students were informed that they would all have to re-sit it. This decision followed an investigation, which revealed that Marc Schweissinger, a lecturer in the
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School of Modern Languages, had wrongly provided students with the exam questions prior to the exam. The majority of students were of the understanding that the exam was a seen exam and therefore prepared answers to the paper. However, not all students were aware of this and consequently complained the examination was not a fair assessment. It was therefore ruled that some students had been given an unfair advantage and that marks for all students should be discounted. After meeting with the students af-
fected, the department proposed two alternative courses of action. In an email sent to the students, they outlined the options to either to take forward the average of their two best course work marks or submit two alternative assignments by week 5 of the Spring semester. Students were also given the option to re-sit the exam with a new exam paper. In response to concerns, the email stressed that they have ‘pledged that, at the final degree classification examination board, the mark for this module will be scrutinised’ and ‘discounted
Politics interviews Cardiff MP Willott P16 >>
should it impact negatively on degree classification’. A Cardiff University spokesman said: “We were made aware of an exam irregularity affecting finalyear German students and took immediate steps to remedy this in a fair and equitable manner.” Amongst the options outlined to resolve the situation, it was added that all students have been given “the opportunity to meet individually with senior members of the German teaching team to discuss the best option for them.”
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The school of modern languages (Photographer: Greg McChesney)
Continued on page 4
THE FREE WORD
Go to gairrhydd.com!
EDITOR Michael O’Connell-Davidson DEPUTY EDITOR Georgia Hamer GAIR RHYDD CO-ORDINATOR Elaine Morgan NEWS Georgia Hamer Katie Evans Alexander Norton Anna Lewis ADVICE Kirsty Fardell COMMENT Anne Porter Gareth Evans Olivier van den Bent-Kelly COLUMNIST Jason Roberts POLITICS Carwyn Williams Lauren Boyd Rhiannon Tapp SCIENCE Shanna Hamilton Meryon Roderick SOCIETIES Hannah Sterritt PARK LIFE Tim Nagle TAF-OD Steffan Bryn Jones Morgan Owen SPORT David Hooson Rory Benson Joe Atkinson
o here’s the thing. I was speaking to one of my editors earlier in the week who asked me to add some pages to the newspaper, and they made this request because they didn’t want to put things online when people don’t think about the Gair Rhydd website on the same level as the newspaper. At least right now, they added. It’s right to be concerned about what contributors might think about where their writing ends up because they’re one of the most important groups this newspaper serves. Equally, I won’t lie -- our first semester’s web coverage was pretty bad. I could understand a writer being disappointed about something ending up on the web on those grounds alone. Looking at the past two weeks, however, I’d hazard that the time for thinking of the website as something lower than the print product is over. There are three people to thank for that: Digital Editors Greg McChesney and Jordan Adams, who both helped extensively on the print copy of this issue, and have lead the charge in converting analog content into stuﬀ for the web. Seriously, all those posts have been put together by two guys. That’s partly down to the fact that Wordpress is a lot friendlier than InDesign (which is AKA Death, Destroyer of Worlds), but it’s also a result of the sheer dedication that both Jordan and Greg have displayed lately. So hey, duders - here’s to you. I know you joined the team a little later than everyone else, but I’m very glad you did. But thanks are also owed to Union web designer Joe Birkin, who’s done a fantastic job of acting on the myriad requests we’ve submitted recently. We’ve pushed through all sorts of tweaks and adjustments and Joe’s been great to work with every step of the way. Web design isn’t easy -- in emails, I try and speak that language, and I imagine I look a little bit like Jeremy Clarkson did in Argentina -- and some-
It’s pretty spiﬀ y
times stuﬀ designers agonise over is the sort of thing nobody notices. I know that feeling, because I’m a print designer; it took bloody ages for people to really “get” the margin spaces on our redesigned templates, when I spent all night thinking about them after I first drafted this layout up. The above individuals are arguably as important to this publication as I am. On those grounds alone, you’d be remiss not to consider the website a labour of love in a similar manner to the newspaper. But for those who the newspaper is more important than its digital counterpart, I’m going to put this in print and embrace the finality that comes with that: online news really is the future. Note that it’s not the whole future. Stow your tinhats, as this isn’t a subtle nod to a conspiracy to stop printing Gair Rhydd that’s already in motion. The decline of print has been overstated, in my opinion, and nothing quite beats the quiet reflection a newspaper oﬀers. Breaking news so often gets it wrong that we can’t aﬀord to live in a world where the only constant news value in producing news coverage on is “more and faster.” But when it comes down to it, if you don’t have gairrhydd.com in your bookmarks bar alongside WalesOnline and the Cardiﬀ Tab, it’s not because of our website. And it’s not because people aren’t hungry for up-to-the minute news coverage. It’s because we’re not embracing the path this industry is taking, and there’s no excuse for that. Gair Rhydd has undergone numerous transformations over its long history, and since none of those translations have been particularly recent, I’d say we were due one. We’ve made some internal changes, and now we distribute almost every single issue of Gair Rhydd, with few, if any, left over. We’re good at print. But print isn’t the be all and end all, and it’s not where our work should end.
With that in mind, we’ll be oﬀering out more digital-exclusive content, and that won’t be considered secondary by anybody here. Some things just work better in the browser, and we’ve all seen the research -- digital spaces are where more and more young people are going for their news coverage, and we’ve allowed ourselves to be left behind. In my own opinion, the answer to getting our content in the hands of Cardiﬀ Students isn’t a delivery scheme or anything like that; the answer is producing content on a constant basis that people want to read, and publishing that content in a way that fits in with the day to day life of students. So here’s the thing. We always need more hands on deck, and if you read the above and were remotely excited, I want to hear from you. We’ll never have enough contributors to cover everything that happens in Cardiﬀ as it happens, but we can give it a good shot. If you want to help us cover breaking news, then join our contributors group on Facebook. Find it at http://tinyurl.com/grcontrib or head to your newsfeed and search for “Gair Rhydd Contributors”. It’s the 14-15 group you’re looking for. And if you are print focused, here’s a forewarning: some of your writing might end up online. The pagination of the newspaper isn’t set to go down, and with supplements for Varsity and the General Election in the work, it’s only likely to go up. But we’re going to be pushing harder and harder into the digital space, and I think that, even if it’s a surprise, you’ll love what we’re doing. If you’re just a passive reader, do me a favour and keep gairrhydd.com in your bookmarks or your RSS feeder or whatever new-fangled technology people use to keep track of blogs and online writing. We’ve only just started on this journey, and we’re already pretty good. Keep us in mind - we’d love to have you along.
PRODUCTION EDITOR Sum Sze Tam DIGITAL EDITORS Jordan Adams Gregory McChesney Want to join the team? Editorial conferences are each monday at 5PM. Proofreading takes place on Thursdays at 6PM in the media office during print weeks. Write us a letter firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet us: @gairrhydd Online at: gairrhydd.com
At Gair Rhydd we take seriously our responsibility to maintain the highest possible standards. Sometimes, because of deadline pressures, we may make some mistakes. If you believe we have fallen below the standards we seek to uphold, please email email@example.com. You can view our Ethical Policy Statement and Complaints Procedure at cardiffstudentmedia.co.uk/complaints
Next year will define the half-decade that follows.
Opinions expressed in editorials are not reflective of Cardiff Students’ Union, who act as the publisher of Gair Rhydd in legal terms, and should not be considered official communications or the organisation’s stance. Gair Rhydd is a post office registered newspaper.
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Campus In Brief
Cardiﬀ professor has been appointed the new children’s commissioner for Wales. Professor Sally Holland, who is director of the Cascade children’s social research centre at the university, said: “I will work with the children and young people of Wales to ensure that their rights are safeguarded and promoted”. Professor Holland will take up the role in April. The University Hospital was forced to cancel a third year medic placement as pressure on A&E grew amid staﬀ shortages and cutbacks. Another potential victim of government cuts are libraries, and students took part in protests to help protect Cardiﬀ Central Library from the loss of jobs and services. Princess Anne visited Cardiﬀ University’s School of Healthcare Sciences and the College of Occupational Therapists to commemorate 50 years of the school’s work. Meanwhile the editor of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger was welcomed to the university’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural studies to celebrate the launch of two new courses. People and Planet’s university league tables revealed that Cardiﬀ were the 46th greenest institution in the country. The university was rated 100% in terms of ‘environmental policy’, but 0% on ‘carbon reduction’, in what can only be described as ‘all talk and no action’. This definitely/maybe has something to do with the university’s £2.5million investment in the fossil fuel industry. Mesuro, a technological engineering company developed from research at the university has been sold to Montreal-based Focus Microwaves. The company was born out of Cardiﬀ University’s Institute of High Frequency and Communication Engineering in 1997, by Professor Paul Tasker. A Cardiﬀ University poll in conjunction with YouGov and ITV revealed that the Liberal Democrats (6%) have now fallen behind UKIP (16%), Plaid Cymru (10%) and the Green Party (8%), and on current projections will only retain a solitary seat in the Welsh parliament. Students rejoice.
NATIONAL The former leader of Plaid Cymru Lord Wigley carefully placed his foot into his mouth as he compared the Trident base in Scotland to Auschwitz. This was in the same week that commemorations were held to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp. MEP Amjad Bashir became the high-profile defector between UKIP and the Conservatives as he moved over to the blue side. Nigel Farage derided his former colleague, describing how his party were becoming “increasingly alarmed” by Bashir’s behaviour. Fracking has featured heavily in the news over the last few weeks, and protests against the controversial extraction method forced the government into a swift U-turn in which it vowed not to go ahead with plans to immediately roll out the process, and also prevent possible future fracking in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, signalling bad news for Cathays. Nurse Pauline Caﬀerkey declared that she was “happy to be alive” following her full recovery from Ebola. Ms. Caﬀerkey became the second Briton to survive the disease, after at one point being in a critical condition in hospital, and vowed to return to her normal life. Cardiﬀ hosts the opener of this year’s Six Nations championships this coming Friday night, with Wales taking on England looking to avenge last year’s 29-18 defeat at Twickenham. The Welsh will be hoping to wrestle back the title from Ireland, who prevented Wales from achieving three championships in a row in the 2014 series.
WORLD Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died last week after illness, and with the news dominated by
Americans talking about what his death would mean for America, it was left to Tony Blair to be the world’s moral compass and pay tribute. Blair praised Abdullah’s record on improving women’s rights, in a country ranked 127 out of 136 for gender equality. Greece declared war on austerity as government headed by radical-left party Syriza swept into power and promised an end to spending cuts and a freeze on privatisation. With the state of the Euro in jeopardy as a result, Germany, who contributed enormously to recent Greek bailouts, have appealed for new PM Alexis Tsipras to not waver from the economic plan currently in place. Aussie PM Tony Abbott awarded Prince Philip with a knighthood on Australia Day, a decision derided by his critics who felt the honour should be bestowed on someone actually from Australia, and not someone who represents the country’s colonial past. Given Abbott’s aﬃnity to making public mistakes, he presumably knighted the Prince for services to gaﬀes. As an inquest into the 2006 death of Russian spy Alexander Litvineko got underway, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was accused of being “a common criminal dressed up as a head of state”, and was said to have given the go ahead for Litvinenko’s assassination by polonium poisoning in his green tea. In an attempt to regain his good-guy reputation, Putin will likely meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the Great Leader’s first ever state visit. Perhaps Putin is of the opinion that if he is seen alongside an even more sinister man, the spotlight will be averted temporarily. Good plan Vlad. Having been long-stripped of his seven Tour de France championships, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong solidified his title as sport’s biggest douchebag by asserting that were he to have his time again, he would still have cheated by taking banned substances. In an exclusive BBC interview, Armstrong also stated his belief that he should be forgiven. Somehow, it feels as though that won’t happen any time soon.
Pictured: Alan Rusbridger, current editor of The Guardian (Source: The Guardian)
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Cont’d: German students tested by exam “irregularities” Continued from front page
Students have consistently praised the department for their handling of the situation
Despite the error, students have praised the department for their handling of the situation. One student commented “MLANG handled a diﬃcult situation very well.” Adding: “A seen exam seemed like a reasonable format because the quality of the written German is more important than our ability to come up with, say, complex arguments about the EU on the spot.” “The lecturer probably didn’t realise he’d made a mistake. It’s frustrating to have to decide whether to do more work for last semester’s module when I have new work to do this semester.” Another student on the course reiterated these views, adding: “I was really impressed by how relevant members of staﬀ within MLANG met with us and prioritised everyone’s indi-
vidual options for resolving the issue.” “Having discussed the outcomes of the meeting with other German students, I feel the consensus is that the department dealt with the situation in the fairest way possible whilst ensuring the academic integrity of our chosen method of assessment.” Errors were also reported in a Politics exam and a Bioscience exam. Mistakes in the wording of questions in each led to students being interrupted during the exams. The error would appear relatively minor in comparison to reports given by first year Bioscience students last year. Speaking to Gair Rhydd students reported to have been given half printed exam papers, interrupted multiple times and asked to answer 12 questions when only 10 were given.
Fit for a Princess: Anne tours Occupational Therapy facilities
ardiﬀ School of Healthcare Sciences has marked fifty years of Occupational Therapy teaching with a visit by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne. The sixty-four year old royal – the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II – is Patron of the College of Occupational Therapists and joined students at a day-long conference. The event was organised to celebrate the landmark anniversary of the subject’s teaching in Cardiﬀ, which began in 1964. Former Olympian Princess Anne, who was en-route to a fundraiser organised by Welsh cancer charity Tenovus, took the opportunity to tour the new Occupational Therapy Children’s Clinic. The facility, opened in 2014, forms part of a broad range of facilities available at the University Hospital of Wales – a far cry from the semi-terraced house allocated to the subject fifty years ago. In that time, the University estimates that more than two thousand students have graduated with degrees in Occupational Therapy. The degree programme teaches students to solve physical or mental ailments through the utilisation and
adaptation of the patients’ everyday lives. Applicants are promised at least 1,000 placement hours over the course of their studies, with British and European students having their fees paid by the Welsh government. These factors have contributed to a rapid rise in the programme’s popularity – something which is only likely to be boosted by the Royal visit. “We are delighted that HRH, The Princess Royal has agreed to join us and oﬃcially mark 50 years of occupational therapy education in Cardiﬀ,” said Head of Occupational Therapy Dr Steven Whitcombe.
Princess Anne visiting Occupational Therapy students (source: WalesOnline)
“Extreme Pressures” stretch University Hospital staﬀ Pictured:
University Hospital of South Wales
ardiﬀ University Hospital has been forced to cancel services due to ‘extreme pressures’ on staﬀ and resources. On Monday, January 26th, the primary teaching hospital for Cardiﬀ University announced that they were forced to cancel and re-organise a number of both outpatient and elective appointments, allegedly affecting hundreds of patients. According to the Chief Operating Oﬃcer, ‘extraordinary measures’ were taken to cope with the pressure, as all available staﬀ were redirected from original duties in order to help manage the situation. As a result of the pressure, a tutorial for third-year Medicine students was cancelled as staﬀ were called away to deal with emergency cases. University Hospital Llandough
was also aﬀected by high demand, and was forced to cancel similar outpatient services. Reports from local patients explain that they were not notified of the cancellations beforehand and were told upon arrival at the hospital that a ‘major incident’ had taken place. Shadow Health Minister Daren Millar said: ‘Operations and appointments cancelled at short notice can be very distressing, not to mention frustratingly inconvenient for patients and their families who may have changed their plans to accommodate a hospital visit. ‘It is worrying that health board bosses have taken this extraordinary step which will increase pressure in the coming days, weeks and months when all cancelled appointments and operations have to be rear-
ranged.’ A Cardiﬀ University spokesperson apologized for the inconvenience caused, explaining that ‘all medical students are aware that patient care has to remain the main priority. ‘For some senior clinicians this means teaching commitments may have to be cancelled.’ It was emphasized that no student would be disadvantaged as a result of teaching cancellations. The spokesperson continued: ‘NHS Wales is currently experiencing an unprecedented level of patient demand. As part of a series of measures designed to manage this demand, Cardiﬀ and the Vale UHB have asked doctors to move some work from outpatients to acute admissions and ward environment.’
The announcement follows in the wake of a string of recent complaints made about the University Hospital of Wales, including criticisms voiced by an A&E Nurse who described her work in the emergencies department as ‘worse than her time in Iraq’. Placements for health students at the Heath campus have also come under scrutiny as Gair Rhydd reported in October that students felt uncomfortable speaking out against a lack of contact hours. These criticisms form part of a wider attack on NHS Wales, as it was revealed last week that ambulance times in Wales are ‘worst on record’. According to statistics, target times for Category A emergencies were met only 42.6 per cent in December 2014.
Extraordinary measures were taken to cope with the pressure, as all staff were redirected from original duties
Student constituencies elect for change
Cardiﬀ Uni / YouGov research shows Welsh constituencies set to swing
poll commissioned by Cardiﬀ University’s Wales Governance Centre has revealed that two of the Welsh capital’s four constituencies are likely to change hands at the upcoming general election. Produced by YouGov in conjunction with ITV Wales, the survey results suggest that the student-populated areas of Cardiﬀ Central and Cardiﬀ North are likely to elect new members of parliament. However, the same cannot be said of the rest of the country – with thirtyseven of the forty Welsh constituencies set to remain in the same hands, according to the poll. The localised shift is reportedly set to favour Labour, with the party predicted to gain both Cardiﬀ North (Mari Williams) and Cardiﬀ Central (Jo Stevens) from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats respectively. If the projected result were to materialise then Labour would control all four of the city’s constituencies. Both Cardiﬀ North and Cardiﬀ
Central – which boast a combined electorate of approximately 130,000 – are heavily occupied by students, and have been targeted by Labour accordingly. Both areas appear on the party’s official list of “battleground target seats“, released in January 2013. Their focus on the area appears to be paying oﬀ, with Ed Miliband’s party set to consolidate their control of the Welsh capital. The city is currently run by a Labour council and represented in the Senedd by four Labour AMs. In 2010, Conservative candidate Jonathan Evans earned a majority of just 194 to win Cardiﬀ North whilst Liberal Democrat Jenny Willott enjoyed a more comfortable margin of 4,576 in Cardiﬀ Central. However, the latest poll suggests that they are both set to lose their seats. Professor Roger Scully told WalesOnline: “Our new poll seems to suggest that Labour have stopped, and may even have begun to reverse, this
Pictured: Welsh polling stationw
erosion in their support. “ However, he added that Conservative support had remained surprisingly robust – and the new poll “supports this pattern“. The 2015 General Election is set to
take place on 7th May 2015. You can find comprehensive coverage of both local and national politics in the run-up to the general election in the Politics section, home to Gair Rhydd’s election coverage.
You can find our politics section on Page 16
Porn is the new sex ed, says NUS survey
study recently released by the National Union of Students (NUS) has revealed that a worrying 60 per cent of students in secondary school and university alike are using porn as the main method to educate themselves about sex. In a group numbering more than 2,500 students, a mere 30 per cent felt that anything covered in their Sexual and Relationship Education (SRE) could be applicable to their everyday lives, with the same amount admitting it did nothing to help their sexual confidence. As a result of the ineﬃcacy of
SRE, 40 per cent of those interviewed believed that pornography has ‘helped their understanding about sex’ despite a worrying threequarters also agreeing that pornography can warp perceptions of sexual norms and generate unrealistic expectations of themselves and their sexual partners. Despite the potentially damaging nature of education via pornography, these results aren’t altogether unexpected. SRE is treated as an academic and scientific discipline; topics like puberty and contraception were present in 87 per cent of students’ SRE syllabi, while the
sensitive issue of consent was altogether absent for two-thirds of the surveyed students. The topic of relationships – a supposedly key part of SRE – was left incomplete or untouched by over half of students, while LGBT awareness received attention in a meagre 20 percent of SRE curricula. In reaction to the publication of these statistics, Jack Wallington, Director of Community at the Student Room, believes sex and relationships programmes are “patchy at best”. He adds that “friends and websites” are left to fill the “black hole” of questions left by the inadequacy
of SRE education, and in many cases young people are being left to ‘hunt for pieces of the puzzle themselves. Wallington believes that the only method by which young people can be steered away from this limited and detrimental pseudo-education is through ‘greater standardisation in our sex and relationships programmes, which directly address the needs of young people’. Wallington’s commentary is echoed by NUS vice-president Colum McGuire, who claims “SRE is failing millions… Sex is not a science lesson. People are being left with gaps in their education.”
Students throw the book at planned council cuts
Protestors speak out against budget cuts threatening Cardiﬀ libraries
protest involving students from People and Planet has been arranged to speak out against budget cuts to Cardiﬀ ’s Library Services. The mass protest will take place outside the city’s Central Library on February 7th as part of National Libraries Day. With hundreds expected to take part, it will feature a combination of students and local residents armed with books, banners and placards in ‘a symbol of freedom’. The campaign is supported by a number of prominent local figures and politicians, including children’s author and illustrator Jackie Morris. Those talking part are urged to take along their favourite book and conduct a three-minute reading. One member of the University’s
People and Planet group said: “Libraries are important for everyone in society, especially since they provide access to information and culture. “Access to libraries shouldn’t be based on money and budgets.” Now going through its second year of budget cuts, Central Library has faced a series of cutbacks over the previous year. Despite being voted one of the six best libraries globally, this has included the loss of the top floor of the facility, the loss of a quarter of staﬀ, and closures of one day per week. Next year will see the conversion of Central Library into a ‘Super Hub’, following plans to incorporate the housing benefit and council tax centre into the building. According to Michael Sweetman
from Cardiﬀ Unison, staﬀ have been warned not to talk about budget cuts on social media. He also criticised plans to transfer the duties of paid workers to volunteers. He said: ‘Libraries are more than a place to store books – they are the only free space where residents can meet in the winter, and a vital place for elderly, disabled and unemployed people to access computers and to search for work. ‘Our right to participate in cultural life is essential for a democracy, and if we don’t put up a fight for these libraries now we won’t get another chance.’ The closure of six other libraries has also been threatened across Cardiﬀ as part of significant budget cuts
introduced by Cardiﬀ Council. This includes services in student areas in Roath and Cathays.
Cardiﬀ Central Library
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University launches free online courses
ollowing their popularity last year, Cardiﬀ University has relaunched two free online cours-
After attracting more than 15,000 people in 2014, the University is offering two courses titled ‘Muslims in Britain’ and ‘Community Journalism’. The courses, hosted on the online learning platform FutureLearn, hope to attract a global audience, with participants from over 120 countries taking advantage of the free resource last year. Both subjects run for four hours per week for a maximum of five weeks. Starting on February 9th, ‘Muslims in Britain: Changes and Challenges’ will be led by Professor Sophie GilliatRay of the University’s Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK. The course will explain the work of the centre and their research conducted about the ‘everyday lives of British Muslims’. The course forms part of the IslamUK centre’s aims, launched in 2005, to promote better public understanding of Islam and the life of Muslim communities in the UK. It will be followed by a series of public lectures throughout the semester featuring subjects such as dealing with Islamophobia and the challenges and opportunities facing Muslim women. The ‘Community Journalism: Digital and Social Media’ course will begin
Pictured: Community Journalism organiser Professor Richard Sambrook (Source: Nato Images)
on March 16th with Professor Richard Sambrook from the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and the Centre for Community Journalism. The second of the two MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses), it will allow students to develop their digital and social media abilities in a combination of traditional and modern journalism teachings. A third-year Journalism and Sociology student said: “the Community Journalism course was useful for picking up helpful tips and tricks
and learning how to check facts. This was especially relevant for journalists without professional budgets. “I found that the course was more focused on those wanting to get involved in the entrepreneurial aspect of community journalism rather than journalism in general. However, for those wanting to get involved in community journalism, it will definitely prove useful.” The courses are part of a marked increase in the quality and number of online study opportunities provided
by universities throughout the UK. The creation of FutureLearn forums has been hailed a success by Professor Mike Sharples, who remarked that the ‘water cooler’ discussions that take place online between students is ‘proving successful’. The developments follow concerns voiced that online students require more support than traditional classrooms, after it was suggested in the Guardian that isolation has a detrimental eﬀect on those studying on the web.
The ‘Muslims in Britain’ course is available at: http://tinyurl. com/nfto6vm The ‘Community Journalism’ course is available at: http://tinyurl. com/naaczhs
Student Support boasts new services
he rise in students seeking counselling is ‘not worrying’ but an indicator of successful preventative initiatives, according to the Head of Counselling, Health and Wellbeing at the University’s Student Support Centre. The number of students seeking counselling at Cardiﬀ University is up 32 per cent since 2011, with 1,494 students having received counselling from Student Support during the last academic year. However, according to John Cowley, Head of Counselling, Health and Wellbeing, the continuing rise in figures is testament to the greater awareness of services across campuses and the diminishing stigma surrounding mental health issues, rather than being symptomatic of growing mental health issues amongst the student body. Over the past twelve months, the Support Centre has increased capacity and begun oﬀering telephone and Skype counselling sessions to meet demand, as well as invested in a specialist mental health nurse, with plans to appoint another wellbeing practitioner in the near future. Students currently wait on average two to three weeks to be seen by a counsellor, with daily drop-in slots for students to be seen the same day.
A pool of flexible staﬀ is also drawn from to meet demand during busy periods. Structural changes such as these, alongside the launch of preventative policies and initiatives such as the ‘Time to Pledge’ campaign, have allowed the support centre to reach a greater number of students before their situation escalates to crisispoint. Meanwhile, the Support Centre is working with Residences and Security to identify and reach out to vulnerable students who would benefit from counselling services. But Student Support is aware that, as the number of students seeking counselling continues to rise, the re-
sources and support available need to keep pace with the growth in demand. Since joining the ‘Time to Change’ campaign in June last year, the University has been eager to display its commitment to challenging stigma and discrimination faced by students and staﬀ with mental health issues. A student Wellbeing team was launched last year as well as the online support resource, SilverCloud, that provides support to students experiencing diﬃculties such as anxiety, stress, depression and body image issues. The computer-based service is available 24/7, oﬀering support and coping techniques for common
experiences of anxiety, depression, stress and self-esteem issues. The growing amount of help on offer, teamed with greater publicity of services, is helping to tackle common issues such as anxiety and depression among students, especially during assessment periods when stress levels are running high, who may not otherwise have taken advantage of what the Support Centre can oﬀer. Colwey reflected how ‘greater awareness of mental health issues and our genuine commitment to the Time to Change Pledge which focuses on reducing stigma, means that students persuade friends they are concerned about to seek support, and the students themselves know how to access that through our increased social media presence, wellbeing hotspots and other publicity.’ ‘Undoubtedly the Student Wellbeing Team have found a new cohort of students in need of support’, said Cowley. ‘This might range from the recommendation of a helpful book, app or website to some face-to-face work or referral into counselling or mental health advisors. ‘Their success in reaching this group, [which] we always knew existed, has we believe contributed significantly to the substantial increase in numbers.’
The continuing rise in figures is testament to the greater awareness of services around campus
Rise in students seeking counselling is ‘not worrying’
Silvercloud, the online support resource, is available at: http:// tinyurl.com/ pfgem6k
Rowdy students disrupt exam revision at Julian Hodge
Pictured: The IT room of the Julian Hodge building
“All students are stressed and pushed for time in exam periods but it’s not too much to put rubbish in the bin as you walk out and not leave someone else to wipe day old garlic sauce oﬀ the keyboards.” Another student commented: “It would some students don’t understand the meaning of quiet. On one occasion I was unfortunate enough to sit within earshot of an individual who deemed it appropriate to explain animal behaviour to a friend through a performance of diﬀerent birdcalls. This is not something I appreciate at 1am when trying to cram in some last minute revision.” Dave Atkins, Manager of the Julian Hodge Building, acknowledged that a number of complaints had been received, stating that: “It was apparent from what we have been told that students were using the building not just as a place to do some studying but were staying over extended periods and bringing in as well as having delivered food in large quantities.“ In addition to this, he noted that the toilets were not “used as expected” – “with water, social and toilet paper left around the sinks, toilets and the floor.” Above all, he stressed that “perhaps the most worrying issue” was that students reported that their requests for others to remain quiet were often met with ignorance or “impolite” replies. During the period the building was
Pictured: Julian Hodge building (All photos: Greg McChesney)
visited by security during their 24hour shift period and cleaners who emptied the bins and refreshed the toilet facilities every couple of days. This has been the case in previous years and although incidents of students misusing the facilities have been reported in the past, these have tended to be isolated incidents on a smaller scale. Atkins added that: “University IT have been looking into what we can do to address the recent issues around student use of the Julian Hodge Building and the concerns that have been raised due to the behaviour of some students.” It is hoped that raising awareness of the issue will encourage students to “respect the facilities that are provided as well as their fellow students”. The situation is currently under review. Rhys Jenkins, Vice-President Education, said that: “The university have suggested that if this carries on resources will have to be diverted into staﬃng the area.” “When there isn’t much 24hr space at the university, at the moment, it is unhelpful of students to be damaging the case for more space.” Julian Hodge is one of few 24-hour workspaces available to students across the University at this time of
year. University libraries are not accessible out of term time and continue to operate with normal opening hours until the spring semester examination period. Concerns have been raised that not enough space is available for student study during the night and over the weekend. Toby Seabright, a third year student, commented: “Over the exam period there were limited places available for students to work late at night and over the weekend. When the libraries closed it was diﬃcult to find any space to work in the Julian Hodge.“ “People often stay there for long periods of time in fear of losing their space.” In response to the suggestion that more spaces should be made available 24/7 over the January exam period, Rhys Jenkins, added: “The diﬃculty in extending library opening hours is the uptake. The libraries are heavily used in the January exam period but generally not as much as the summer period.” “If there was a massive increase in demand for 24 hour space over the January period I am sure the library staﬀ would be willing to consider trialling it next January period.”
Students were clearly ordering Dominos and takeaways there and leaving pilles of rubbish
Students were clearly ordering Dominos and takeaways there and leaving pilles of rubbish
Pictured: The stairway of the Julian Hodge building
eports have noted “unacceptable behaviour” in the Julian Hodge study centre, including students consuming alcohol, littering workspaces and making excessive noise. Throughout the Christmas break and January examination period, complaints were received from not only students but also University Security and cleaning staﬀ - all expressing dissatisfaction with both the state of the study centre and the behaviour of the students using it. Amongst main concerns were: the state of the toilet facilities, noise levels and the lack of clean, tidy workspaces. The centre, located on the second floor of the Julian Hodge building, provides a large IT workstation room available for use by all staﬀ and students of the University 24-hours a day - even out of term time. The space has become a popular location for students to work but recent events have been oﬀ-putting for many. Adam Clymo, a third year Economics student at Cardiﬀ University, said: “The state of the Julian Hodge study centre before term had even started was ridiculous. Students were clearly ordering dominos and takeaways there and leaving piles of rubbish next to computers or the already overflowing bins, meaning people would have to clean someone else’s dinner oﬀ the desk before being able to us the computers.”
Students and staﬀ voice concerns about on-site alcohol consumption, noise and antisocial behaviour in 24-hour study centre
Welcome to our Advice section, where we bring you tips for surviving Cardiff university life email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to build a business Got a business idea? Cardiﬀ University Enterprise are available to help with funding and advice
Pictured: John Penketh, founder of letting agency business ‘My House Mate’
or the entrepreneurial-minded among us, Cardiff University Enterprise is ready to help. They strive to support those who have a business idea but need advice and funding to start it up, or those who want to build their confidence and entrepeneurship in the workplace. Several workshops are provided throughout the year, as well as competitions and expert advice for sector-specific mentors. Their main aim is to build the confidence of entrepreneurial students so that they can enter a competitive workplace or start their own business and assert original ideas to make a difference. One of the ways students can get help for their ideas is through Ignite, Enterprise’s four-day programme from 19th-22nd February which provides workshops, guest speakers and a test-trade challenge. It uses the model of a business start-up to help participants develop their enterprise skills, including team working, creative thinking, decision-making and ways of pitching and presenting an idea. Students then participate in a 40-hour business challenge in which they will pitch for seed money in a Welsh Dragons’ Den and go into Cardiff city centre to put their new skills to the test. Their goal is to develop and implement their business idea from scratch, and any profit they make is available for them to keep. Students can apply for the Ignite programme by filling out the application form on the website www.entrepreneurship.ninja/ignite/ Another event Cardiff University Enterprise are holding is Concept,
a four-day programme focused on advertising, which will run from 30th March-2nd April. Every year a large corporation get involved such as Cineworld and Capital FM Wales, and this year it is Santander. Participants are tasked with creating an advertising campaign to suit the brief they are provided with, which will be pitched to a team of marketing professionals. The winning team will have their campaign used around Cardiff. All students and recent graduates (within the last five years) are able to apply, and it is open to those from all subject areas. Apply by completing the application form on their website www.entrepreneurship.ninja/concept/ Spark is a competition to win funding for a business idea, with three categories for entry staggered according to the individual’s business level. The ‘Idea’ level is for those with an idea without a structure so the entry form is only one page. The first prize is £1000 for the best business idea and second prize is £750. A two-minute video must also be submitted with the application that details the ideas of the plans, which will be separately judged for the chance to win £250. The ‘Plan’ category is for those with an idea that includes their own market research, and possibly some testing of the idea or product. The winner will receive £2000 and the runner-up £1000 to spend on their business. The third category is the ‘Ventures’ category, aimed at those who have already starting running a business or even freelancing. Their prize money is
Pictured: Cardiﬀ University Enterprise students
Concept is a four-day programme for students focused on advertising
£3000 and the runner-up receives £2000. Winners from all categories receive on-going support, as well as a business mentor for a year, developmental funds, free office space for technology based ideas. The ‘Plan’ and ‘Ventures’ category winners get the opportunity to be entered to win the Santander Universities Award, with winners receiving a share of £40,000. The deadline for applications is Friday 13th March, and all three application forms can be found at http://tinyurl.com/lgfb67a. They also oﬀer a mentoring programme for new start-ups that oﬀers
support and potentially financial assistance. The mentors could be Cardiﬀ University alumni or role models from a relevant sector. Mentors aim at establishing viable ideas and building confidence and skills within students, as well as providing their unique expert knowledge. Businesses could be oﬀered up to £1500 that could be used for marketing, product design and prototyping, and anything else that will develop the business or idea. Likewise mentors are oﬀered up to £1000 for their expertise. Either mentors or mentees can register their interest to get involved by emailing
1-2-1 drop-in sessions are available to brainstorm ideas with an experienced business adviser
What do you think? Have your say: advice@ gairrhydd. com
ADVICE Continued from the previous page >>
Elsie and Arthur clothing and My House Mate letting agency are two examples of Enterprise’s work
enterprise@cardiﬀ.ac.uk. The 1-2-1 business advice drop-in sessions oﬀer students the opportunity to brain storm their ideas with an experienced business adviser who knows what works and how to achieve success. This could range from students with only a small idea to those that are struggling to run their business. They also have links to a range of specialist external advisers such as accountants, intellectual property experts and marketing and business mentors who will be able to lend their knowledge to benefit your business or idea. These drop-in sessions run every Wednesday from 11am-2pm and to book an appointment, email enterprise@cardiﬀ.ac.uk with details on the issues you are facing. Their next event will be a ‘Pitch and Present’ workshop on 11th February from 6-8pm on the fourth floor of the Student’s Union. It focuses on developing presentation skills that would be useful not only in pitching a business idea, but also in job interviews, defending dissertations and project reporting. Vital tips on how to deal with presentation anxiety will also be taught, which will come in useful when pitching your ideas to a panel of judges during the workshop. They will be able to offer advice and will give a prize to the team or individual with the best presentation, so you can test your new skills and potentially witness their advantage. They have continued workshops throughout the coming months that will build skills for anyone who wants to start a business, build confidence in the workplace or just add some new skills training to their CV.
All of their workshops have limited places so book yourself onto them from the page www.sites.cardiff. ac.uk/cuenterprise/workshops-january-march-2015/ Some examples of success stories that have used Cardiff University Enterprise are Allie Lawson and Jack Williams, who came up with the idea for the clothing brand ‘Elsie and Arthur’ after establishing their first business ‘StudentReads’ that sold used textbooks through a website. They originally tried to fund their new business idea themselves, but quickly found that they needed extra support which they got through the Start-up Loans scheme. They started their business during their degree in May 2013 and are still going strong, with plans to start up high street pop-up shops in cities such as Bristol and Plymouth. John Penketh has started his own letting agency business ‘My House Mate’, which has been set up in the launch box area of the Students Union during Refreshers week. His idea first started when he felt his Engineering degree was not going to plan, and he attended some workshops provided by the Cardiff University Enterprise, providing invaluable networking contacts that gave him his original idea of a café. However, after trade-testing his idea on a stall at the Christmas market he decided that a letting agency was the way to go – especially since he already owned the student house he was living in and acting as a landlord. He previously participated in one of the ‘Concept’ four-day programmes which used Capital FM Wales to provide a brief that each
Stay cool: Fire safety 101
Advice on fire safety in Cardiﬀ, including cooking safely Kirsty Fardell
entral Cardiff has been identified as the area with the highest number of cooking fires for the last six years. Out of 130 callouts in the last year, 71 were by adults aged 18-25, so students are definitely among those who need fire safety advice. Most accidental dwelling fires are caused by cooking and happen during January and February, so the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service are aiming to raise awareness of the risks and share some cooking safety tips. They have planned a free event with a Ready, Steady, Cook style competition on the 4th February called ‘The Heat Is On’. Its aimed at promoting cooking safely at home as well as eating healthily. It will be held in the Atrium conference cen-
tre next to the University of South Wales building, starting at 6:30pm. BBC Wales’ Derek Brockway will be a Team Captain alongside the Station Commander for Cardiff Central Justin Jones. Made In Cardiff TV will be filming the event and Mariclare Carey-Jones from the channel will be hosting. Cardiff Central fire fighters will be available for a meet and greet before and after the event for advice, and you will have the chance to sample some of the dishes made. Cooking tips and free food, with some safety advice thrown in to ensure you receive your full deposit? Sounds like a perfect student event. To sign up for the event visit www.swfrstheheatison.eventbrite. co.ukas the event is held on a firstcome first-served basis.
9 Pictured: A stall at the Christmas Market with a business start up
team had to create an advertising campaign to fulfil, and John’s team were picked as the winners. He now attends as many workshops as he can and pitched his idea to Cardiff University Enterprise successfully to get the launch box space during Refreshers week. After speaking to the people at Cardiff University Enterprise, it is clear that their main goal is to build confidence in students so that they can either start up a business idea with all the skills it takes to accomplish success, or enter a work environment with the ability to think innovatively and confidently assert
their ideas to their superiors. All their workshops provide free training in specialised areas and offer opportunities that can enhance any CV. For the business-minded among us, the prospects for funding an idea can be a really big help, especially considering the financial restrictions most students suffer. Their ability to provide free office space is also a great help for new businesses without the funds to rent a space. So if you have an idea, want to strengthen your CV or build your confidence in the workplace seek to get involved with the events Cardiff University Enterprise produce.
The heat is on... Prevent a cooking join South Wales Fire
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Rescue Service and ‘BBC Wales’ Derek Brockway’ at the ATRiuM, University of
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Visit their website at www.sites. cardiff.ac.uk/ cuenterprise
Pictured: ‘The Heat is On’ event poster held by the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service
South Wales, Adam Street, Cardiff for a
culinary cook off and a sprinkling of safety advice.
Mae’n poethi.... I atal tân coginio yn eich cartref, ymunwch â Gwasanaeth Tân ac Achub De Cymru a Derek Brockway o’r BBC Cymru yn yr ATRiuM, Prifysgol Morgannwg, Adam Street, Caerdydd am ornest goginio ac ychydig o gyngor diogelwch.
The highest number of cooking fires occur in Central Cardiff
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FOR & AGAINST Pictured: Public Health England’s 2013 ‘Toxic Cycle’ anti smoking campaign
PUBLIC HEALTH CAMPAIGNS Is anybody actually listening? FOR: Tom Morris
Wales isn’t a rich country, and in this case preventative measures will help to reduce the strain on the NHS
here are simply too many public health campaigns. We’re lucky in the UK that they’re not too numerous or pretentious, as they are in America. But the fact is that a public service announcement can often go unnoticed amongst the endless drive for further consumption. They do have their uses though. A human life cannot be valued. If even one person lives a longer, fuller, life as a direct or indirect result of watching a grotesque advert, then it is money well spent in my opinion. I know many people would argue that public health campaigns interfere with free will. The public should make up its own mind. I should be allowed to eat/smoke/drink myself to death if I want to! That is a totally rational thing to want to do! But that just proves my point that most people are idiots. So who better than the government themselves to point out to people, through graphic imagery, that smoking does in fact cause cancerous tumours that will not only shorten your life by a good fifteen years but also make your remaining years less active than others. The big thing it comes down to of course, as usual, is money. May I remind you that it is absolutely incredible that we have gone from having a government that sent its former prime minister to go and work for Phillip Morris tobacco to mess with the country’s actual health after she had finished messing with the country’s economic health. The government, it would seem, no longer revels in taking huge taxes from the sales of cigarettes, and now prioritises the public’s respiratory health instead! And like I said earlier, you
can’t put a price on a human life. I myself was fortunate enough to be in the Millennium Stadium for the launch of NHS Wales’ Stoptober campaign. I could see a variety of people who had pledged to stop smoking for the 28 day campaign the PR people, the journalists, the politicians, and smokers. Outside of there I didn’t hear much about it, but as the saying goes it’s the thought that counts, and if that campaign managed to help a few people to quit now then that’s money saved for the struggling NHS in the future (when it will undoubtedly be struggling even more). Wales isn’t a rich country, and in this case preventative measures will help to reduce the strain on the NHS much more than the ultimate solution to ingrained bad habits (operations and such) ever will. One bad habit that appears to be rife among students is smoking. Smoking areas in clubs are full of students - even if this includes social smokers. Clearly for these people, the messages of the public health campaigns either doesn’t get through, or they consider themselves above them. So yes - maybe the adverts don’t get through. Maybe those who smoke and over-eat consider temporary pleasure much more important than long term quality of life. Maybe they take pride in being above what they might see as government brainwashing. But to give up on their cause entirely? That would surely be the ultimate failing of the system. You want laissez-faire? Go back to America and take out some expensive health insurance, see how much you like it then.
ublic health campaigns cover a wide variety of conditions and are targeted at many individuals. They aim to improve our health, but do they work? Despite their positive aim, there is no denying that people are free to ignore the campaigns. Sitting in the doctors a few weeks ago, I noticed the poster that warned me that antibiotics wouldn’t cure my cold. I already knew this, but others who had already made their way to the doctors requesting treatment for a cold wouldn’t. A public health campaign needs to be more than a poster in a doctors’ surgery. It needs to engage people and inform them to allow them to make better choices. Speaking of better choices, the latest anti-smoking campaign by Public Health England is attempting to show the dangers of roll ups highlighting how they are just as dangerous as manufactured cigarettes. It’s grim, I won’t lie. A guy sits in the park and smokes his insides in roll up form. The ignorance of the British population astounds me. Cigarettes are dangerous? Woah, now. We need more than a public health campaign to make people quit smoking. People that I know who smoke do it because they like it, because they get pleasure from it and because quitting is too much stress to deal with. Yes, it’s addictive. Yes, it’s dangerous. But the majority of people who smoke already know these risks. So public health campaigns beg us to make better decisions. It’s tragic that it takes a television advert or poster to tell us how dumb we are. British common sense seems to fail us on regular occasions. Instead of relying on an external force to tell us how to we should treat ourselves well, we should
use our own heads to make sure that we do this. Thinking for ourselves? What a shocking thought. These campaigns cost a great deal of money. If we used our common sense and ate well, didn’t inhale carcinogens on a regular basis and took exercise every so often then perhaps we wouldn’t need an entire organisation to tell us how to live. As students we don’t pay for these campaigns. But when we start paying tax (and apparently we will, someday) the tax we pay will fund them. So let’s save ourselves some money, and use our common sense to maintain our own health, rather than getting someone else to do it for us. Using common sense to make our own decisions also means that we have the power to ignore these public health campaigns. I’m sure that they have good intentions. But I can turn oﬀ my TV and ignore that poster. I can smoke or drink as much as I want, if I so choose. Parents were encouraged to ‘change for life’ and make sugar swaps to help their children live a healthier life. But will a public health campaign get into people’s homes and influence their lives? There is no way to check on people 24 hours a day, this isn’t an Orwellian dystopia, after all. So there are no guarantees that any public health campaigns will work. The most influential public health movement, upon my life at least, has been the Time to Talk about mental health campaign. Perhaps we can use public health campaigns to change people’s perceptions of society, rather than changing their actions. We can’t necessarily make people eat in diﬀerent ways, or smoke less through a campaign, but we could change the way they think. So let’s do so.
AGAINST: Anne Porter
Despite their positive aim, there is no denying that people are free to ignore the campaigns
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Homosexuality does not equal promiscuity
Promiscuity is not practiced exclusively by homosexuals, and nor is it practiced by all homosexuals
n modern society in Britain, the understanding of homophobia and tolerance of homosexuals is slowly becoming a social norm for the current generation. However, the issue of religious intolerance in the UK is still prominent in certain areas, and has been known to cause many people distress when coming to terms with developments of homosexuality in culture; for example, the passing of the gay marriage bill that was given the green light and put into practice last year. It is perfectly acceptable for a person to express their beliefs, be they rational, reasoned or otherwise. I take issue, however, with certain opinions voiced about homosexuals that are not accurate or representative; they can be incredibly oﬀensive and damaging, especially to homosexuals who have not yet come to terms with their sexuality. I am currently finishing my dissertation, which examines the moral value of homosexuality based on the harm that it causes without social and religious influence, and whilst researching this I discovered the extent to which some homophobes fall outside of necessary objectivity when talking about homosexuality. One of the most prominent facts brought against homosexuals, particularly homosexual men, is the fact that homosexuals are more likely to pass on HIV, and HIV is statistically more common in homosexuals than heterosexuals. One Christian website proclaimed that “2% of the U.S. population is gay, yet it accounts for 61% of HIV infection: “If homosexual sexuality does not harm anyone, then why are the statistics for homosexual
AIDS percentages so much higher than the heterosexual population? Again, there is a connection between the redefinition of sexual morals, the increase of promiscuity due to that redefinition, and the proliferation of disease due to the promiscuous behaviour”. The author suggests that homosexuality causes harm using the premise that homosexuals are more likely to be promiscuous than heterosexuals, and therefore contract HIV more commonly and endangers other people’s lives. Articles like these use facts to represent homosexuality as immoral based on the ‘harm’ that is caused, without considering the implications of this. In the first case, it can be said that homosexuality is immoral because it promotes and practices promiscuity. So it needs to be noted that it is not homosexuality as a state of being that is considered immoral, but the practice of promiscuity. Evidently, promiscuity is not practiced exclusively by homosexuals, and nor is it practiced by all homosexuals. If the author wishes to make a claim about the morality of homosexuals in relation to promiscuity, then he is also committed to saying that any individual that practices promiscuity is immoral. The same logic can be ascribed to the claim of HIV. Though HIV is more commonly found in homosexuals, it is not exclusively contracted and harboured by this group of people, and is found in all groups who practice sexual interaction. Again, if we are going to connect morality with the spread of disease, it cannot just be used as an argument against homosexuality as it is not an
alienated feature of homosexuality, but of sexuality as a spectrum. This is the argument I want people to consider when thinking about homosexuality as immoral. There is no feature of homosexuality that causes a suﬃcient amount of harm that does not occur in heterosexuality or other forms of sexuality. I’m inclined to suggest that the only way to say homosexuality is immoral, based on harm, is if you are willing to commit to the entailed premise that all sexuality causes harm. This is not a consequence that I believe the author has considered here. However, I can immediately hear the objection that this is irrelevant if you are considering religious scripture, which states homosexual acts are morally wrong. It is not my intention to disparage religious belief, or to say that it is an irrelevant point of view. Here, I simply wish to demonstrate that there can be extremely damaging consequences for individuals in the current use of certain religious views against homosexuals. This idea came to me when watching a TV debate titled “Can you be gay and Muslim?” In the debate, it is mentioned that there are rising teen suicides for Muslim teens and a rising number of hate crimes against gay Muslims, as being homosexual is explicitly against Muslim teachings. Admittedly, I am writing on the assumption that homosexuality is not a choice, but a state of being that you are born with, just as other sexuality identities are. This is an idea that will always be contested, but for the sake of this argument, I shall assume this is true. In terms of the statistics put forward, it seems to me that the
Muslim community in the UK are committed to two options. The first is that the suicides and hate crimes are justified as homosexuality is against Islamic teachings, however this would appear to be counter-intuitive as Islam teaches a general scope of love and tolerance. The second is that the Islamic community addresses that hate crimes and suicides are something to be avoided, but this is diﬃcult as, again, Islam does not have a large tolerance of homosexuality. There is a cycle here that involves the religious teachings and moral logic that causes homosexuals within the Muslim community to be subjected to serious anguish, which I do not believe anyone would wish to endure. I wish to state again that I am not trying to criticise the teachings of homosexuality within religion, I just wish to highlight the potential scope of damage that could and is sometimes being associated with these beliefs. My intention is not to force acceptance of homosexuality onto people, but I have hopefully shown that homosexuals are a group of people that cause no harm to others based on the ideas presented. In modern society, it is exciting to be able to speak openly about issues such as this, and I think it important that people consider the logic of their prejudices, not just for homosexuality, but in all aspects of intolerance. To most people, I hope it is clear that statements such as “the very lifestyle of homosexuality is highly promiscuous and brimming with disease” is unfounded and illogical, and leads me to say in the words of Christopher Hitchens “I was born sick; command me to be well”.
Pictured: Reykjavik Gay Pride 2013 Source: Gisli John, Flickr
What do you think? Have your say: letters@ gairrhydd.com
Bishop Lane must mark change
It’s hard to stress how overdue this is, and it is certainly tempting to underestimate its importance
ast week Libby Lane was consecrated as the first female bishop of the Church of England. Although women have served as priests in the church for just over twenty years, and have been campaigning for the right to be consecrated as bishops for just as long, it was only in 2013 and again in 2014 that the General Synod voted overwhelmingly in their favour. And yet, to no one’s general surprise, there remains some dissent. During the act of consecration itself, the controversial Rev. Paul Williamson objected with the words ‘Not in the Bible’, asking Archbishop Dr Sentamu to allow him to speak. The Archbishop of York, however, continued the ceremony, having already asked the cathedral at large whether it was their will, and (I like to imagine) thinking privately that whether it was in the Bible or not was flagrantly missing the point. But otherwise – good news all round. This is clearly another victory for equality. But still, the Catholic Church, by far the largest Christian denomination, is not budging on the matter. However, I find this attitude to be hugely lacking. It’s hard to stress how overdue this is, and it is
certainly tempting to underestimate its importance. This is an example that the Church of England should have been setting long before now. Not only are women bishops already practising in many countries in the Anglican Communion around the globe, they have been since as early as 1989. Given its claims to be a ‘reformed’ church, it has been severely lagging behind in movements away from tradition. In England, the issue of gay marriage and oﬃcial blessings for the church is still in a transitional grey area, particularly for gay members of the clergy. And in appeasement of Lane’s consecration, the Church will continue to make concessions to those who disagree, such as Rev. Philip North, who in his consecration this week will not be touched by hands of anyone who treated Bishop Lane as a real bishop. Furthermore, I think this is particularly important given the power of the Church of England, and its continued relevance is not to be dismissed. Due to the arguably backwards nature of UK politics, certain bishops and archbishops still hold seats in the House of Lords. And not unfamiliar for many students is the involvement of the Church in
Pictured: Libby Lane - a part of history Source: BBC
many state-funded schools, as well as its influence on small communities and public discourse. In these areas, more progressive attitudes towards equality and church doctrine would not go amiss, and in many ways Anglicanism is falling short of the mark. That the upper levels of the clergy have for so long been comprised mostly of crinkly old white dudes, who have not only been wholly male but wholly male by law, is at the very least troubling, and only leads to further implicit bias in the powers that be. So I wish all the best to Bishop Libby Lane. I hope to see more women becoming bishops, and
considerably fewer ‘not-in-theBible’ priests. It can only be positive for religious discourse. However, I hope that this change is indicative of a more progressive and accepting Church of England for the future. If it wants to remain relevant the church is going to have to make more serious moves in the direction of equality, and realise that increasing equality is a move to more fully embody the people it wishes to represent. The consecration of women bishops should have been at the forefront of this change a long time ago, and it is still likely and unfortunate that a lack of full respect for their role is set to continue.
In a diﬀerent class? Just work harder
Research shows that a student’s background can dramatically aﬀect their chances of gaining a university place. But is determination the true path to success? Em Gates
Throughout my childhood, my parents instilled a particular work ethic in me: if you work hard, you will be rewarded
report published by The Sutton Trust has recently issued findings that suggest children from working class families are less likely to attend a top university, even when achieving the same grades as children from a more prestigious upbringing. Throughout my childhood, my parents instilled a particular work ethic in me; if you work hard, you will be rewarded. My dad left school at 16 and worked his way up from kitchen porter to head chef, while my mum graduated secondary school and quickly transitioned into full time work in a local clothes shop, only cutting back her hours twice when having my brother and I. Though neither of my parents put great emphasis into their own academic career, they both were very clear that I could be or do whatever I wanted; in school or not. It is true that when starting university applications, parents with experience are more useful to point their children in the right direction, help them with what to include and what to leave out, but a lot of students don’t get this luxury. Teachers at sixth forms are relied upon to check personal statements, and the responsibility of research into subjects and courses lies purely on the student themselves. My parents attended open
days with me, but they didn’t ask any questions nor had any idea what was expected of them throughout the day, so I may as well have attended alone. Dr John Jerrim, of the Institute of Education at the University of London, concluded this research that children of a less academic or professional upbringing were less likely to attend a Russell Group university overall, preferring to opt for a less prestigious institution. Now it can be said that either I, and many other people I know, are the exception to this rule, or Dr Jerrim has made quite a drastic assumption. Though all the people I know who go to Oxbridge come from academic and professional families, I think it’s maybe gone a little too far to say the same for Russell Group universities as a whole. Not only is it classist to assume that children from working class background won’t even want to attend one of the top universities, but it sends out a message that there is a class structure within higher education as well. About half of the students I have spoken to about this come from a professional or academic background, showing it’s quite a fair divide between the two, so I actively disagree with Dr Jerrim’s research. One of my friends from home came from a family of teachers, one of whom
Pictured: The Glamorgan building. What brought you to Cardiﬀ University? Source: Guardian Cardiﬀ, Flickr
was actually a headteacher. She was tutored by her parents, had her Ucas application checked over and over again by them and eventually gained three A*s and was accepted into Oxford University. However, another girl that I know was accepted into Cambridge and the only help she received was from her hairdresser and tree surgeon parents. Maybe it’s not the family? Maybe it’s the eﬀort and dedication given by the student? If we start telling students what type of university they deserve based not on their grades, not on their personal preferences, not even on the student themselves, but that of the class and education of their family, well, I think society and education has reached
a spectacular new low. There is so much more to a uni than academia, there are domestic life skills, the ability to put yourself out there and make friends, and pushing yourself to achieve rather than having someone fight your battles for you, and these are all skills that are learn at every university up and down this country. For Dr Jerrim to publish these findings that specifically belittle non-Russell Group universities and also people from working class backgrounds, it seems to me to be not only discriminatory and unfair, but also in my experience completely untrue. Achieving a place in any university is something to be celebrated, not compared or belittled.
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JASON ROBERTS VS THE WORLD
Lidl Shop of Horrors
One man’s struggle with the most infuriating shop in the world
s countries go, Germany is a very good one. There are bad things, of course. Their language, while logical and efficient like the Germans themselves, is unexciting and sincere. Also much like the Germans themselves. Their food is a goddamn travesty (with the notable exception of the wurst which is probably the number one reason God decided to make the pig). And their history is, erm… checkered. Let’s say that. Germany has a checkered history. However, Germany has given the world many wonderful things, for which we must be thankful. Their beer is beautiful, their cars are amongst the best in the world, and their football team is certainly the best in the world. If Britain does something, the chances are the Germans will figure out how to do it cheaper and better, and then sell it back to us. Look at the Royal Family. Just a German twist on an English institution. So now we drive German cars, drink German beer, watch German football players and get outraged when a German goes to a party dressed as a Nazi, it only seems fitting that we should shop at German supermarkets. Enter Lidl. The German supermarket chain has 590 stores in the United Kingdom, and there are plans for more on the way. It’s cheap, it’s efficient, and I utterly despise it. Actually, that’s not strictly true. I despise it because I love it. And in turn, I love it because I despise it. The relationship I have with Lidl is one of total emotional turmoil; euphoria inducing peaks, as well as valleys of total despair. It’s seriously damaging my wellbeing, but I can’t stop myself going.
Let me explain. There are things that Lidl does that make me really angry. Most of these things revolve around the fact that there are only three people working in the store at any given time. As a result, the queues at the till are so long that by the time I’ve paid for my shopping, I’ve already eaten half of it to stave off starvation. As a result, I have to go back in and buy more food, get stuck in more lines, and continue the vicious cycle until either death or closing time comes to rescue me. Since any fewer than three people working the tills would result in a fullon hunger crisis and massive loss of life, Lidl put all their staff there, and nobody on the floor. This means that once something is out of stock, it’s gone for the day. About two weeks ago, I saw two grown-ass men arguing over the last sweet potato left in the box. The thing is, I couldn’t even blame them, because I knew as well as they did that there wouldn’t be more in stock for another 24 hours. The poor bastard who eventually lost the battle (which was decided, by the way, through the infallible primary school rule that is “I touched it first”) had to drag himself to the nearest available sweet potato vendor, lest his family starve. Lidl are ruining lives here. And then there’s the stuff that Lidl will actually try and sell to you. This is, by far, the worst thing about Lidl. It’s not that they don’t have recognisable brands, in fact that’s quite a good thing. Most branded and unbranded products are damn near the same thing anyway, so if Lidl wants to cut costs by selling unknown brands at a cheaper cost to them and the customer, I can’t com-
plain. No, we’re talking the actual stuff on the shelves pallets. If you want something like, let’s say brown rice, you’d be shit out of luck. But if you want Crocs with wooly insoles, you could buy them by the dozen. There’s a section in Lidl dedicated to the most random-ass junk ever found in a supermarket, a place I now know as The Aisle of Shit. I’m not going to list everything I’ve ever seen in The Aisle of Shit, but know this: the aforementioned wooly Crocs are NOT EVEN CLOSE to being the worst thing I’ve ever seen in there. How do things end up in there? Do Lidl executives trawl boot fairs for a living, conducting a bizarre social experiment to see what’s the dumbest thing they can sell to populations on a massive scale? Eternal mysteries. And yet, The Aisle of Shit perfectly is a perfect visualization of the very essence of Lidl. It’s a place where no matter how many people walk past laughing at what’s on offer, eventually somebody will say to themselves, “Actually, I really do need waterproof trousers that turn into shorts when you unzip them below the knee!” And that’s Lidl’s raison d’être. I don’t know what their actual slogan is, but it should be “Don’t Pretend You’re Better Than Us.” In an age of austerity, people are starting to drop more and more of our pretences and starting to acknowledge that actually, we ain’t shit. I can tell Lidl that their queues are too long, they run out of stock too quickly and that they have a specific section of their store devoted to stuff that was most likely stolen from someone’s garage, but they know I’ll be back the very next day.
And there are actually some genuinely good things about Lidl. Because they don’t hire anyone, the majority of their stuff is cheaper than than the packaging it comes in. If it even comes in packaging. This is obviously good for the customer and an awful deal for the employee, but Lidl doesn’t really seem to care that it’s pushing the limits of capitalism as far as they’ll go. And honestly, neither do I. In a world where I can do a decent shop for under £20, fairness for all can take a back seat. Then there’s the Lidl bakery, which is living proof that you can buy a slice of heaven for about 30p in the shape of one of their cookies. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they bought in 20% of Lidl’s revenue on their own. But really, the best thing about Lidl is that you never know what you’re going to get when you go there. You could get Bad Lidl, where there’s nothing in stock, the lines stretch back to the freezer section, and you die of starvation before you can leave. This probably happens 90% of the time. But that other 10%, Good Lidl, is a consumer paradise. You can do a shop for easily under £20, probably leaving with something that you’ve never tried before because everything is so Euro, and you might even pick up some wooly Crocs from the Aisle of Shit. It’s the dream of Good Lidl, the dream of that 10% chance, that keeps me going back. I went in last week at about 8pn, looking for eggs, limes, and sweet potatoes. There was nothing there. As I walked out I saw the manager, and he smiled at me, knowing I’d be back the next day. He was right, the smug prick.
Pictured: Mad shoppage for the boys
Do Lidl executives trawl boot fairs for a living, conducting a bizarre social experiment to see what’s the dumbest thing they can sell to populations on a massive scale?
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Jenny Willott MP: the Gair Rhydd interview
Electoral reform, the bedroom tax, and the rise of the far right Interview by Rhiannon Tapp
It’s a very rewarding and interesting job. I’ve done lots at constituency level and in parliament
Do you think you you’ve been a successful MP for Cardiﬀ Central? I hope so. It’s a very rewarding and interesting job. I’ve done lots of diﬀerent things at a constituency level and in parliament as well. There are a couple of campaigns that I’ve been very heavily involved in that have been quite successful in the longer term. Before I was even elected I was involved in a campaign to restore pensions to thousands of steelworkers whose company has gone bust in 2002. In the end we managed to persuade the previous government to put a lot of money into restoring a large chunk of the pensions of those thousands of people aﬀected by that. I’ve also had smaller campaigns and smaller issues like last year the council was looking at how bins were collected, so that bins would only be collected once a month rather than once a fortnight. This is clearly a massive issue, especially in student areas where people generate more rubbish than you can fit in a bin for four weeks. We’re working to stop them doing that again this year. So yes there’s lots of big campaigns and also lots of small ones. How hard was it to go against your party on the rise of tuition fees? That was a really diﬃcult one actually. It was very simple in some ways in that I knew I didn’t agree with it and I felt really strongly about it. Not just because I have a lot of students and I represent them, but also because I disagree with it, I think it’s wrong to charge people that amount of money for a degree. In parliament parties do work together, the people that you work with are your colleagues in your own political party and it’s really diﬃcult decision that you’re going to vote against them and go into the lobby with a diﬀerent political party. That’s hard to do and also I had to resign from government to do it so I knew it was going to get a lot of publicity, which was going to be a challenge. But I never doubted that it was the right thing to do.
The reason the Lib Dems went back on that promise is because neither Labour nor the Conservatives would support our position
What would you say to those who may never trust a politician again as a result of tuition fees? Well, I think politics is a diﬃcult area to build trust. The reason the Lib Dems went back on that commitment is because neither Labour nor the Conservatives would support our position; they didn’t agree with us so we were actually the only party who held the position that people shouldn’t pay tuition fees. I think the trust issue is a much more diﬃcult one, and it’ doesn’t just apply to the Lib Dems; Tony Blair promised not to bring in tuition fees in the first place and went back on that promise and brought them in, and later increased them, so it’s an issue that comes up over the years. The reality of what you can do in government is often diﬀerent from what you think it would be when you’re outside of government. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t know how you resolve [trust issues].
I would be worried that politicians would stop making commitments ahead of elections in order to avoid the possibility of breaking that promise because people need to know what they’re going to vote for. Coalition governments do change the situation. Do you think we should change the electoral system so that we don’t end up with a hung parliament? No, I actually think [hung parliaments] represent the way the British public thinks. If you look at the way people vote there hasn’t been a party which has had half of the support of the British public in a really long time. So actually having a system where a party which gets 30 per cent of the vote, a third of people want them to be in government, and yet they have an outright majority to be able to do what they want when the majority of people didn’t want them; that is a very undemocratic system. I’m a Lib Dem and I think we should have a much more proportional system so that the government actually represents the views of what people actually wanted. We’re going to have to get used to a mix in government because smaller parties are getting a lot more support. I don’t think we’ll go back to a system where you just have Labour and Tories and nothing else. I think we will end up with hung parliaments and coalitions governments for often. Personally I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Do you believe welfare reform has benefitted your constituents? Has it benefitted them? No. But that’s not what it was designed to do. There are some things as part of the reform program, which are good, and then there are other things that have been done to save money and they’re not done to help people. There has been greater emphasis on helping people get to work with whatever support that they need to do that. One of the things which has been popular is the support to set up businesses. Under the new system, people can get paid benefits for six months while they’re setting up a business. There have been some really diﬃcult things as part of the welfare reform as well. A lot of benefits, tax credits and things have been frozen; clearly for people who are on lower incomes and rely on them, that can make life really diﬃcult. The economy was in total and utter mess, and whoever came into government after the last election would’ve had to make really diﬃcult decisions. I don’t completely agree with all the things that have been done and have raised concerns over the years. People on lower incomes have had a really tough time over the last few years, and I don’t think anyone would deny that. Would you support a revision of the bedroom tax policy? Yes, when the bedroom tax came in, it was in the welfare reform bill and I was on the committee looking and raised
The idea was to make the system fairer for those who are waiting. But the way it was done was too blunt
quite a few concerns at the time. We managed to get the government to put a lot more money into the discretionary pot so that people can stay in their homes if it makes more sense rather than moving. We got more groups of people exempt: for example foster carers, who have a spare room because they’re waiting for another child to come and people in the military who are overseas. It does highlight a diﬃcult and challenging issue as there are people in houses that are technically too big for them, and there are other people in houses that are overcrowded. We do need to make sure we are making the best use of the homes that we have. I have a lot of people coming to see me because they’re crammed into small accommodation and they’ve been on the housing list for years and years waiting, so it does go both ways. The way it’s being applied however, is too blunt. One of the things we said is that we would want to change it so that if you’re oﬀered somewhere smaller and you turn it down then you should be responsible for paying the extra benefit but if there is nowhere for you to go then you shouldn’t be penalised. We’ve drafted that bill and are trying to get the Tories to negotiate with us but when one of my colleagues Andrew George wrote a bill on it, the Tories blocked it. Many see it as an attack on the poor, what would you say to that? That’s not what it was intended to do at all. I honestly think the intention of it was to make better use of the housing stock. Funnily enough Labour brought it in for private accommodation under the last government. So we had a system that wasn’t fair because if you’re getting benefit for social housing then you get all of your rooms paid for so there is a disparity there. The idea was to make the system fairer for those who are waiting but the way it was done was too blunt.
How do you feel about the rise of the far right across the UK? I find it quite scary. It’s happening everywhere, especially across Europe. I heard this morning about Marine Le Pen potentially becoming the president of France which is pretty terrifying. I think it shows that people have been having a tough time. At a time when people are struggling financially they like blaming obvious targets and the far right are populist and they basically serve up victims on a platter. I think it’s incumbent on the rest of us to point out where their arguments are quite damaging. But I think it’s indicative of people feeling like they’re not being listened to. People in Greece for example, where it’s a far left party, feel as though mainstream politicians aren’t listening to them and it’s the responsibility of the mainstream to make people feel they’re heard so they don’t need to turn to extreme governments. Do you feel like you achieved what you wanted to achieve when you first got into politics? When I first got involved I had worked in the voluntary sector. A lot of what I wanted to do was social justice issues: disparity and inequality. I think some of that is making sure that I have, as a local MP, helped as many people as I can. I’m very proud of my record on that; I’ve helped literally tens of thousands of people over the last ten years. That’s a really satisfying part of the job, knowing I’ve made a diﬀerence to people’s lives. The job has its down sides but it’s very satisfying; especially when you push through cases you’ve been working on for a really long time. There aren’t that many jobs where you have the chance to do things on a really big scale but also small scale, local issues which are both hugely rewarding.
I’m very proud of my record; I’ve literally helped tens of thousands of people over the last ten years
It’s a really difficult decision to go against your own political party amd go into the lobby with a different party
A £225 million increase in health spending has been proposed in the Welsh Government’s 2015-16 draft budget
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POLITICS 17 NHS satisfaction rates plummet
ew polls by YouGov and ICM have uncovered that confidence in the Welsh NHS has been in a steady decline over the last 16 months. The YouGov poll for ITV Wales found that of those questioned, 53 percent said they were confident the NHS in Wales would provide a high standard of care. While this remains more than half, satisfaction rates hover dangerously close to an alarming dissatisfied majority. Figures show a substantial drop from the 72 percent satisfaction that was gathered in 2013 in a BBC Wales poll and lag behind England’s 70 percent confidence rating obtained this month. The ITV poll found that 72 percent of individuals were satisfied when asked about their own specific treatment carried out by the Welsh NHS, which, whilst more promising, remains lower than previous years. Health Minister Mark Drakeford avidly defended the Welsh Health Service, commenting to ITV Wales: “I’m immensely proud of the NHS that we have.” However, a similar BBC poll has found that a mere 50 percent were satisfied with the running of the NHS in Wales, against 32 percent who were dissatisfied, with middle aged individuals manifesting themselves as the most dissatisfied age demographic. Whilst 21 percent of people think the NHS performs better in England than in Wales, 47 percent thought performance in the two countries was generally equal, with almost two thirds of the Welsh public (64 percent) believing that the NHS is good value for money. 55 percent of people answered that
they believe the Welsh Government was mainly responsible for the problems with the NHS in Wales, resulting in a backlash from Labour politicians arguing that David Cameron’s public attack on the Welsh NHS in the media and in Parliament in recent months is overly responsible for creating an incorrect portrayal of the state of the NHS in the minds of the Welsh public. In response to these polls, Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith, MP for Pontypridd, said: “This is entirely down to David Cameron’s despicable war on Wales.” Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford has accused Conservatives for spreading blatant lies about the healthcare situation in Wales. UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has claimed patients in Wales were getting a ‘second class service’ and ministers at Westminster have called the NHS in Wales “substandard” over the last year. Cameron seems to have taken a hard line against Wales, commenting to the BBC that people in Wales had been ‘dying on waiting lists’ due to cuts made by Labour politicians in Cardiﬀ to the NHS. Miliband has relentlessly criticised Cameron for his attack on the Welsh NHS, accusing him of distraction techniques to shift focus from the failings of the English NHS, stressing the failings of England when it comes to patient waiting lists and A&E waiting times. The Welsh NHS Confederation has created a document highlighting the major issues that must be addressed by the new government. The report emphasises Wales as the poorest re-
gion in UK. Whilst these recent poll results suggest that 39 percent would be willing to pay £10 to guarantee they see a GP at a time of their choosing, perhaps relieving some financial pressure, criticisms have arisen arguing that charging for some services is likely to extradite the poorest demographic in Wales from accessing services. As demand for the Welsh NHS has increased and finances become alarmingly constrained, speculation over the future for the Welsh National Health service is rocky and unknown. In Wales, health spending currently makes up 42 percent of total expenditure, however it seems this falls short of allowing the system to flourish and perform to expected standards. A £225 million increase in health spending has been proposed in the Welsh Government’s 2015-16 draft budget; however this is not likely to relieve all the pressures the service faces. It may be speculated therefore, that public opinion in the future is likely to decrease further as the aging population above 65 is set to increase in Wales from 16 to 26 percent by 2033 causing more strain and increased costs in order to accommodate this. During this May’s election campaign, the NHS will be a hot topic for sure, with Mark Drakeford facing intense pressure from David Cameron over the failings of Labour in Wales, while Ed Miliband will hope Welsh Labour can bring the NHS back from the edge of ruin and regain the dwindling public confidence in a system that we all hold close to our hearts. These satisfaction results come
A week in the Senedd with Carwyn Williams
First Minister’s Questions Kirsty Williams started questions to the First Minister from party leaders this week bringing up the issue of health, but this week non-emergency waiting times were on the agenda. Using data from the Wales Audit Office, she stated that one in ten people have to wait longer than 6 months for non-emergency treatment, and patients are fed up of waiting. Carwyn Jones responded stating the NHS is under intense pressure and that he has put extra resources into the service in recent weeks. The First Minister conceded to Ms. Williams’ idea that the time has come for an all-party commission into what we want the
future of the NHS to be. This comes in the same week as Cardiﬀ and Vale Health Board were forced to cancel a raft of appointments and operations on Monday, which will not help waiting times of non-essential treatment. Andrew RT Davies commented on how the Welsh Government does not have a plan for Welsh Councils, after Leighton Andrews rejected the three voluntary mergers last week by Welsh Councils and that it was clear the relationship between Welsh councils and the Welsh Government had broken down. The First Minister rejected this point, calling on the other parties in the chamber to let the government know what shape
they would like Wales to look like, and if no cross-party agreement can be made by the Summer, he would continue with how the Williams Commission has recommended what Wales’ map should look like. Bringing up fracking in Wales, Leanne Wood said Plaid Cymru is calling for a moratorium on the activity, stating Mr. Jones can’t seem to make his mind up on the matter, “saying one thing and doing another.” The First Minister stated clearly he does want fracking licensing to become devolved however it is part of the St David’s Day process and devolution is not an ad-hoc for powers, but Plaid Cymru rejected this saying ‘all talk no action’. The First Minister also stated about holding some of the Rugby World Cup in Cardiﬀ, stating it will benefit Cardiﬀ ’s hotels, hostels and restaurants and is great for the city.
New Children’s Commissioner Named Cardiﬀ University academic Sally Holland has been named as the new Children’s Commissioner for Wales. The current commissioner Mr Towler has previously spoken of his frustration at naming his successor and that the process was “less than perfect” Prof. Holland is the direc-
on the same week that ambulance response times for December were released, and it shows the worst ever response times on record. Category A call response times within 8 minutes were 44.6 percent, well below the target of 65 percent, which has been reached only once since 2012. Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the times needed to improve urgently. What is even more worrying is that 15 percent of Cardiﬀ urgent Category A calls were not responded to within half an hour, and that across Wales, police took over 100 patients to hospital instead of ambulances. Having been in the role of Health Minister for almost two years, and yet another set of poor results, Mark Drakeford will be under scrutiny and intense pressure to improve in the coming months.
tor of the Cascade Children’s Social Research Center at Cardiﬀ University. On appointment of the role she said ‘“I will work with the children and young people of Wales to ensure that their rights are safeguarded and promoted.” Qualifications Wales Bill could be restrictive A bill working through its way through the Assembly is a bill providing for an independent regulatory body for all non-degree qualifications. Stephen Wright, the Chief Executieve Federation of Awarding Bodies stated in the committee that he wanted to ensure there’s a “full offer for students in Wales” and it could lead to smaller bodies having more requirements making their work less economically viable. Report on Inequality Lesley Griﬃths announced a report on inequality in Welsh public bodies and 3rd sector organisations for a detailed picture. The minister stated improvements and the many diﬀerent frameworks to tackle hate crime and discrimination. Assembly Member Peter Black reminded the Welsh Government to “consider wider transgender issues within the public sector equality duty.”
Pictured: Health Minister Mark Drakeford (Welsh Government Flickr)
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£72 a week Citizen’s Income Why we should take the Greens’ flagship economic policy seriously
Should we feed people who surf all day and smoke pot all evening? Van Parijs
ne of the Green Party’s key policies at the next election will be an unconditional basic income (UBI) or Citizen’s Income of £72 per week, replacing many benefits such as Job Seeker’s Allowance. The proposed Citizen’s Income would allow unemployed people to do voluntary work without having their benefits cut. People could choose to work shorter weeks, decreasing unemployment. Keynes predicted we would work 15 hour weeks, so what happened? According to the anthropologist David Graeber, when technology decreased the amount of labour needed for manufacturing, what he calls “bullshit jobs” were created. The people working in these roles don’t see the point in them, but the market creates these jobs anyway. The market is distorted by wealth disparities, and thus reflects what the very rich think is important rather than what most people regard as socially useful. If a Citizen’s Income were in place people would have a safety net, allowing them to retrain if, for example, they thought their job was not socially useful or interesting. This way, employers cannot use their employees’ fear of unemployment to exploit them. Citizen’s Income could support aspiring musicians and artists. It is well known that unfettered capitalism does not do a great job of supporting the best art. Most people do not have the funds necessary to support valuable creative projects. For example Transformers was the highest grossing film of 2014, but it seems that next to nobody actually enjoyed it. Think of your favourite band: I’m 99% certain Justin Bieber is making
more money than they are. Devotees of local music scenes regularly see their favourite bands quit to get “real jobs”, which may, in fact, be dreary and not clearly necessary “bullshit jobs”. A Citizen’s Income would also further feminist goals by compensating women for the unpaid caring work they do, and would help women who suﬀer domestic violence, but were previously unable to leave due to financial constraints. The political economist and philosopher Van Parijs calls the opportunities that would be aﬀorded to people by an unconditional income “real freedom”. Capitalism does not currently allow real freedom: some people may have disposable income that they are free to spend as they wish, but even the well-oﬀ have their working lives largely dictated by the market. Communism on the other hand, dictates people’s working conditions without even allowing people freedom as consumers. Van Parijs’s real-libertarian position allows people freedom of choice in how they live their lives. The idea of an unconditional income has been supported by a number of great thinkers for hundreds of years, such as Thomas Paine (one of the founding fathers of the United States) and the philosopher John Stuart Mill. James Tobin - the Nobel Prize winning economist best known for the “Tobin tax” - supported a similar idea: negative income tax. Citizen’s Income is not, as The Telegraph seems to think, a bad idea concocted by Natalie Bennett last week. Some journalists have triumphantly declared that the Green Party have no plan to fund this. Of course, the
Green Party’s economic competence is an unknown quantity, but it is not impossible to implement a UBI in a developed economy such as ours. The Citizen’s Income Trust has published a fully costed plan for Citizen’s Income which would result in £6bn savings due to the elimination of administrative costs that come from deciding who is entitled to benefits and who is not, as well as the elimination of tax reliefs and allowances that only benefit the middle class. The economy would be stimulated, as poor people spend all their money, whereas the rich tend to add to their savings rather than spending, (having more money than they know what to do with). Another objection to the scheme is that some people may not deserve the money. Van Parijs asks this question: should we feed people who surf all day and smoke pot all evening? Besides the fact that anybody who wanted to spend their evenings smoking pot would have to get a job to fund it, we live in an age of rampant consumerism, and even the very lazy are generally willing to work in order to have extra money. According to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: ‘Everyone has the right to […] food, clothing, housing and medical care.” It is not right to decide who deserves to eat. The government feeds criminals and gives them somewhere to sleep, while innocent people can die of exposure on the streets. Maybe the unusually lazy would benefit unfairly from Citizen’s Income, but we have to accept others’ undeserved good luck in life, financial or otherwise. Capitalism distributes money to the
‘undeserving’. We accept landlords’ largely unearned money and other rent seeking behaviour. Preventing bad things happening to good people is a noble cause, preventing good things happening to ‘bad’ or lazy people is based on resentment. It is, for the most part, not in people’s natures to do nothing productive with their lives. When a basic income was introduced experimentally in a Canadian town, only teenagers and mothers worked substantially less. Those who advocate capitalism, as it currently functions, as the only means for social progress are misunderstanding people’s motivation when they create or invent new things. Although I would be cautious about taking a “do what you love and you’ll never need to work again” approach, many people do enjoy using their creativity and intelligence for their own sakes’ or to help others. Taking computing as an example: Alan Turing, the father of modern computing, worked for the government and universities; Tim Berners-Lee didn’t make a profit out of the web, because that would have prevented it from being a universal space; Aaron Swartz developed RSS and creative commons licensing when he was still a child, and when he made a profit from his work developing Reddit he was uninterested and devoted himself to finding ways to use his abilities for social and political purposes. A Citizen’s Income should consequently appeal to the left and the right. It already has widespread support with 300,000 people signing a European’s Citizen’s Initiative for a UBI in 2014.
Pictured: Surfer by Duncan Rawlinson
Preventing bad things happening to good people is a noble cause, preventing good things happening to ‘bad’ or lazy people is based on resentment
POLITICS 19 Katja Bertelsmann
Greece rejects austerity
fter the election in Greece, the Europe-wide response to the result of the election varied as some Member States reject Tsipras’ aim to write oﬀ large amounts of Greece’s public debt categorically, while others demonstrated willingness to negotiate the conditions of debt repayment. The president of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, emphasized at a gathering of Eurozone’s finance ministers that “there is very little support for a write-oﬀ in Europe”. Furthermore he said that: “we all have to realise and the Greek people have to realise that the major problems in the Greek economy have not disappeared or changed overnight just because an election took place.” Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, agreed with Dijsselbloem and announced that Greece has to live up to its commitments to its creditors and that there was no need for urgent action, because Greece would already benefit from the extended credit period until 2020. However, the new Greek Prime Minister Tsipras, who won the election with 36% of the vote and 149 out of 300 seats in the Parliament, insists on questioning its €240bn (£179bn) bailout terms. He vowed to renego-
tiate Greece’s debt and it is very unlikely that he will abandon his aim of reversing cuts in public services and increasing salaries and pensions. But under the current terms it is not possible to increase public expenditure. The troika of lenders, consisting of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, imposed budgetary cuts and structural reforms in return for the money. Therefore, further payments are bound to the bailout agreements Greece had signed. Nevertheless the majority of EU member states declared that they are willing to negotiate with the newly elected Greek Government. But negotiations won’t include debt cuts as the Irish Minister for Finance Michael Noonan specified: “Making debt more aﬀordable is a better solution than writing oﬀ. The solution for Greece’s debt problem is a new arrangement on the length of their loans and the interest rates to be paid.” Germany especially, which contributed about 25% to the bailout funds, will insist on Greece to fulfil all agreements. The German Minister for Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble, said, “the new government would have to abide by the bailout agreements Greece had signed.” A spokesman for the German Government emphasised that a part of potential
Pictured: Alexis Tsipras, Syriza leader and new Greek Prime Minister
negotiations is “Greece holding to its prior commitments and the new government being tied in to the reform’s achievements.” Greece has “to take measures so that the economic recovery continues.” In spite of everything, write-oﬀs and debt-cuts won’t be part of any negotiations if it was up to Germany. Hans-Peter Friedrich, a member of Merkel’s parliamentary party, said that “The Greeks have the right to elect whoever they want [but] we have the right to no longer finance Greek debt.” The following weeks will reveal
whether a consensus can be found. Until then, the negotiations will undoubtedly be tough, diﬃcult and long. However, negotiations are inevitable. As Pierre Moscovici, the EU Commissioner for Economy put it: “When people vote, we can’t ignore that vote. There shouldn’t be a division, either a geographical or ideological one.” But it remains highly questionable whether a division of Europe either into Northern and Southern countries or austerity-supporting and austerity-rejecting countries, can be avoided.
The majority of EU member states declared that they are willing to negotiate with the newly elected Greek Government
Western leaders pay tribute to Saudi King
n the 22nd of January, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died. After 10 years in power, he will be replaced by his 79-year-old half brother Salman. After Abdullah’s death, world leaders expressed their condolences and paid tribute including David Cameron, the Queen, Barack Obama, Ban Ki Moon. President Hollande and Angela Merkel even announced they would visit Saudi Arabia. Obama referred to him as a “force of security and stability in the middle east”, while Cameron emphasised his “commitment to peace”. Others highlighted his progressive stances and his promotion of freedom and tolerance; John Kerry saw him as a “man of wisdom and vision”; Ban Ki Moon said he achieved “remarkable progress and prosperity for its people”, while Cameron highlighted his “work for peace” and for “strengthening understanding between faiths”. During his reign, it is true that King Abdullah did some efforts to promote liberty, tolerance, freedom and peace. The king worked for the emancipation of women, though he did not grant them equal status to men, he took steps for their progressive integration in the public and political life. In 2011 he decreed that women would be allowed to vote and run for office in the 2015 general election, and he opened the Shura, a legisla-
tive advisory council, to women. In 2012 he authorized women athletes to represent Saudi Arabia for the Olympics game, and enabled women to access the “King Abdullah University of Science and Technology”, which is considered a world-class university. Finally, in 2013, he decreed that domestic violence would become a criminal offence. After the successive revolts in neighboring countries, King Abdullah tried to improve the living conditions of the Saudis and invested in public infrastructure, healthcare and education. He also appeared committed to foster cooperation and tolerance between religions, by pushing for the creation of the “international center for religious and intercultural dialogue”, and by becoming the first Saudi ruler to visit the Pope. However, as world leaders and main political figures praise King Abdullah’s progressive stances, many voices rise to denounce their hypocrisy, and point out the very harsh restrictions placed upon human rights and the repeated violation of these rights under Abdullah’s reign. Concerning political freedom and civil liberties, Saudi Arabia is still the second lowest ranking country in the world, with only North Korea being worse. Arbitrary arrests, trial and detention of political opponents or journalists, torture, and the use of force against peaceful demonstrators are still frequent.
During the Arab Spring, Abdullah initiated a brutal counter-revolution and sent tanks into the streets of Bahrain to repress the uprising. In this regard, his “commitment to peace” seems remote. Saudi Arabia’s constitution does guarantee religious freedom, however, in reality, people’s freedom to practice another religion than Islam is extremely restricted. Since 2011, people that criticize Islamic laws or report on matters that would “threaten internal security” can be fined and journalists imprisoned. Recently, a blogger was arrested and will receive 1000 lashes for having “insulted Islam”, he only asked for the separation of state and religion. Human rights associations argue that the reforms implemented had only superficial effects and that Abdullah didn’t deal with the root of the problem. Indeed, the ‘male guardianship system’, which stipulates that women need agreement from a man to obtain a passport or travel wasn’t abolished. Women activists fear that even the limited reforms will not be applied in such a strongly conservative society, and that King Abdullah did nothing to change mentalities. Instead, he has fostered a climate of fear for women, with the frequent arrest and imprisonments of women who dared to claim their rights. Thus, the international community’s praise of King Abdullah as a pro-
Pictured: King Abdullah
gressive leader seems inappropriate. Some could argue that Saudi Arabia remains the most stable regime in the region and one of the only Western “footholds” in the Middle East, and that maintaining good relations is essential to preserving stability and promote peace in the region. Others think that Western powers are too dependent on Saudi Arabia for oil supply and cannot afford jeopardising their good relations with its government. In any case, Western leaders should balance their praise of Saudi Arabian regime, and acknowledge the victims of King Abdullah. Especially in these times where religious extremism is growing, Western powers need to defend human and civil rights against obscurantism.
Concerning political freedom and civil liberties, Saudi Arabia is still the second lowest ranking country in the world
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POLITICS 21 G4S complicit in Guantanamo abuses
At the centre of the allegations made in the complaint is the claim inmates are force-fed at the US government run camp
Cardiff has been the worst place affected in the UK with a drop in 24,000 registered voters since the Spring of 2014
he private security firm G4S will be subject to a police inquiry, after a UK based human rights charity, Reprieve, submitted a formal complaint about its potential involvement in human rights abuses at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Reprieve is a human rights charity, which represents a number of inmates at Guantanamo, who they allege have been subject to unlawful treatment at the camp. The Met’s investigation will seek to establish whether G4S is guilty under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This Act outlined the illegality of profiteering through an involvement with human rights abuses. A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed that the Met had received the complaint, and that it was now considering how to deal with it. At the centre of the allegations made in the complaint is the claim inmates are force-fed at the US Government run camp. Reprieve argues that G4S should take partial responsibility for this, with the complaint stating that it is ‘highly plausible’ that the security company participated in this practice. G4S began its involvement at Guantanamo in August 2014, when it
won a £70m contract to supply janitorial and cleaning services. However, the company seemed keen to wash its hands of this contract shortly after, when it sold its US Government solutions division, which ran its services at Guantanamo, in November 2014, to an undisclosed buyer for £85m. G4S is a company with a history of controversy, with an ever-widening remit. The Crawley based company lists services including ‘manned security services’, ‘security systems’, ‘monitoring and response systems’ and ‘secure facilities services’. The company, which is the world’s largest security firm, is perhaps best known for its involvement in the London 2012 Olympics. Having agreed a £284m deal to ensure safety, at possibly the biggest event this country has known, G4S failed to provide enough security guards. Even Nick Buckles, who was chief executive at the time, acknowledged that the incident had been a ‘humiliating shambles’. This embarrassment was not enough to deter the US Government from employing them at its notorious Guantanamo Bay prison. The camp, set up in 2002 and based in Cuba, has become associated with the war on terror, with suspected terrorists from Afghanistan forming a large propor-
tion of the inmates. The future of the camp is currently under threat, with President Obama’s recent State of the Union address outlining plans to close the prison. However, this may be diﬃcult to carry out, as Obama’s previous attempt to close Guantanamo, launched in 2009, was first delayed, and then blocked. The same fate may await Reprieve’s legal action, which is sure to be met with evasions and excuses. What happens inside Guantanamo
is subject to the highest security classifications; obtaining the proof of G4S’ direct involvement in human rights abuses will therefore be difficult. G4S is a company used to working in these sorts of environments, and so is likely to have covered its steps sufficiently to avoid legal ramifications. Their main interest is profit: as long as they keep winning big contracts, they are unlikely to be overly concerned with the human cost.
Pictured: Guantanamo Bay graﬃti (Walt Jabasco)
24,000 Cardiff voters dropped from list
‘A generation of young people dropped from the system’
ast week, the Gair Rhydd Politics team headed to the Senedd to meet with Leighton Andrews, AM for the Rhondda, Beth Button, head of NUS Wales and Stephen Twigg, Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, to discuss the impact of Individual Voter Registration. It is claimed that a generation of young people have been lost from the electoral register as a result of this new system. Cardiﬀ has shown the worst fall in the UK with a drop of 24,000 registered voters since the Spring of 2014 as a result of the change. This new system means people are not registered under households and must register to vote individually. This will inevitably aﬀect young people since they move around more, and are less likely to register each time they do so. Many students are already apathetic to the political system and this change will inevitably worsen that. Various issues were identified and some solutions discussed about how to tackle the problem. University students are particularly aﬀected by this change to the system; they are likely to move each year and don’t know whether they should be voting away from home. Under the previous system, halls of residence occupants would be registered together, but these thousands of students are now dropped oﬀ the register unless they individually register. Stephen Twigg talked to us about a debate that will take place in the House of Commons this Wednesday; Labour will be requesting that halls of residence
should be exempt from this system, in order to avoid a massive loss of students from the electoral register. It was noted that the issue with online voter registration, despite being a relatively simple process, is that many simply aren’t aware about the change to the system or the need to register so far in advance. As we discussed, the worry is that many won’t think to register until potentially the week, or days before voting day, May the 7th, at which point they would have missed the deadline. Beth Button, discussed the needs to have a mandate on universities and colleges to actively reinforce the need for people to register and vote. Another aspect of her work on this involves citizenship. If the aspect of registering to vote were included within citizenship processes then perhaps this would prove less hassle, correlating to an increased number who register. Registering to vote could be included within the process of moving house, and students should receive voting forms with their council tax exemption forms. Everyone agreed that an app and website should be created to get information about the available parties and allow people to register through. Such processes are much simpler, and easier for people to do without feeling like there is much eﬀort involved. It seems a huge barrier to getting people registered is the simple knowledge that they need to do it and how to do it. Using technology which young people are familiar with, particularly in terms of an app would be helpful. With regards to Wales in particular,
devolution means that the Welsh Government should take control of how their democracy works, as Beth Button pointed out. The Welsh Assembly wants to take action to get their electoral processes changed. For example, the Assembly supports lowering the voting age to 16 and as Leighton Andrews pointed out, the impact of allowing 16-17 year olds to vote was seen during the Scottish Independence referendum which saw a 66% turnout among the age group 16-24 year olds. This group of 16-17 year olds were described as enthused, politically minded young people who feel they have a say in the system. As we mentioned, lowering the voting age could only increase the habitual nature of voting so that once you reach the age of 18 you are familiar with the process and more likely to engage. It was also agreed that positive persuasion and education are better methods for getting people to vote, and the idea of compulsory voting was generally opposed. However changes to the electoral system should be considered to make it more accessible to those apathetic towards the available parties; as seen within the Indian ballot system that includes a ‘none of the above’ option. Ultimately it was agreed that if young people want to see change in the country, then they must vote in order to get that change. Most politicians we have spoken to have expressed some concern that low voter turnout could lead to an unwarranted five years of the same hardships following May’s elec-
tion. Jo Stevens summed up the issue saying: ‘Nick Clegg and David Cameron have failed to heed warnings about rushing through changes to electoral registration and now tens of thousands of students and young people in Cardiﬀ face being disenfranchised.’ All students need to take action by registering to vote before April the 25th.
Pictured: Jo Stevens and Stephen Twigg
Register to vote before 25th April: https://www.gov. uk/register-tovote
The fact that Dengue Fever is known as ‘breakbone fever’ speaks for itself
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Court of public opinion condemns genetically modified advances
cientific breakthroughs have the potential to be extremely controversial. When it’s just down to a scientist wearing an inappropriate shirt during a press release then public fears can be quite easily allayed but when the backlash is against the science itself then it can act as a barrier to progress. There is no area of research that incites strong reaction quite like genetic modification. Research into genetically modified (GM) organisms is constantly increasing in both quantity and scope with many diﬀerent applications very close to becoming a reality. Two high profile examples have come to the fore just within the last week. The first of these sounds like pure science fiction but could be a completely normalised pest control technique in a few years. British biotechnology firm Oxitec are planning to release millions of GM mosquitoes in the Florida Keys to stop the advance of the tropical diseases dengue fever and chikungunya into the US state. There are now 67 confirmed cases of dengue in Florida compared to only 24 in June last year and there were 11 locally contracted cases of chikungunya in 2014 which accounts for 100 percent of US local cases. Both diseases are renowned for being extremely painful. The fact that dengue is also known as “breakbone fever” speaks for itself and chikungunya is known to be so agonising it causes contortions. Clearly this makes the spread of these diseases a terrifying prospect and huge amounts of money and eﬀort have been put into finding a way to curb the expansion of the species of mosquito that carries them (Aedes aegypti). There are currently six pesticides
in common use to control A. aegypti mosquitos but various mutant strains have emerged that are resistant to four of these. Enter Oxitec with their GM mosquitoes. Oxitec have hybridised mosquito DNA with genes fragments from organisms as varied as coral, cabbage, and the herpes virus. These genes are used commonly in laboratory genetic modification and are thought to pose no threat to other animals. When implanted in mosquitoes however, they prevent larvae from developing properly so they never hatch from their eggs. Oxitec are planning to release male GM mosquitoes as only females feed on blood; males are happy to feed on plant sap so theoretically there is no risk of them biting humans. The plan is for the males to breed with wild females who would then lay eggs that never hatch, thereby diminishing the mosquito population. This scheme has already been field tested in the Cayman Islands which led to a 96 percent reduction in the targeted bugs and another scheme in Brazil was also apparently successful; both countries have now signed up to larger, more long term schemes. Despite this apparent level of success in real world tests, and despite the potentially dire consequences of dengue and chikungunya epidemics in the state of Florida, resistance to this new scheme is fierce. Several prominent geneticists have publically criticised the scheme with Guy Reeves from the Max Planck Institute saying that Oxitec needs to do more to prove that if a female was released by accident, they couldn’t do any harm to humans. Whilst these reservations are valid, a lot of the language surrounding the debate is highly emotive. Marilyn Smith, a Key West resident stated
that she felt Oxitec were treating citizens of the Florida Keys like “guinea pigs”. This feeling of uncertainty and fear from the general public doesn’t match the seemingly extensive testing Oxitec have already carried out in the Caribbean and South America. Though the US is thought of as particularly conservative when it comes to science, this mistrust of GM organisms is widespread in the developed world. The Green Party for example, who often prove themselves to be the most scientifically literate UK political party, are strictly anti GM. They, like many people, seem to want biotechnology firms who develop GM crops to simultaneously thoroughly research all potential dangers of GM organisms whilst also backing oﬀ from producing them at all. The other breakthrough in genetic manipulation this week could hold part of the answer. Two independent research teams at Harvard and Yale universities have created E. coli that cannot survive without substances that do not exist in nature. There are 20 amino acids that exist naturally and they act as the building blocks for all proteins in every organism on Earth. However, it is possible to create a near endless array of artificial amino acids by altering one chemical chain on the molecule. What the research groups did was to alter the genetics of the lab grown E. coli so that they require one of these artificial amino acids to make vital proteins involved in DNA replication and interpretation. This means that without this man made chemical provided to them, they die very quickly. The ramifications of this is that GM organisms could potentially be made that have no possibility of living outside a controlled environment so fears over contaminating
wild animals and plants or rampant superbugs can finally be put to bed. The hope is that one day this technique could be applied to plants to make super safe GM crops. Whilst such advances are clearly vital if genetic modification is ever to find true public acceptance, public education and discourse between scientists and laymen are arguably just as important. A recent report from a US poll revealed that 80 percent of adults asked did not realise that there is DNA in food (incidentally neither did certain members of the Gair Rhydd editorial team). However, science blogger Ben Lillie argues that that number comes from a flawed and slightly misleading poll which tricked respondents into seeming ignorant. Whether the number is accurate or not though, the implication is the same. That is that professional scientists and the general public do not understand each other. According to a recent Ipsos Mori poll, 72 percent of people believe that it is important to know about science in your day-today life and 71 percent of people want to be told about scientific advancement as it happens rather than afterwards. This reflects a growing desire from the public to engage with science. However, 45 percent of people believe that science does more harm than good and 43 percent of people would not want to be personally involved in science policy decisions. Combine this with the propensity of science writers and scientists to naturally believe the worst of the public and it’s clear there is a lot of work to be done by both sides. If something as simple as misinformation is holding back potentially world changing scientific advancement then surely addressing that should be a priority.
Pictured: The Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries chikungunya and dengue fever.
... this mistrust of GM organisms is widwespread in the developed world
The Doomsday Clock says it’s time for us to change
The clock has only been closer to midnight once in its history
n the 26th of January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that they had changed the time on the Doomsday Clock to three minutes to midnight. But what is the Doomsday Clock and why are its hands moving forwards? The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which is a magazine that documents security issues surrounding nuclear weapons. It is displayed both in their oﬃces in Chicago and on their website. The Doomsday Clock represents how close humanity has come to causing our own destruction. It was initially started in 1947 as a reaction to the deployment of nuclear bombs by the United States during World War II. Over the years the state of the clock has also factored in global issues such as disease and climate change to calculate how close we are to the end of the world. When the clock reaches midnight, everything is over. The clock has only been closer to midnight once in its history, which was in 1953. This was caused by the US and Russia testing thermonuclear weapons within nine months of one another which was seen by many as nuclear muscle flexing. The clock has only reached three minutes to midnight, as it is now, on tqo other occasions. Once in 1949 after the Soviets tested their first nuclear
Pictured: Physics Nobel Prize laureate Leon Lederman moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock in 2002 (Source: imgkid. com)
bomb and then again in 1984 when US cruise missiles were deployed in Western Europe, causing the Cold War to reach one of its most intense points. The furthest the clock has ever been from midnight was 11:43pm in 1991 when the Soviet Union was dissolved, ending the cold war permanently and massively lessening the risk of all out nuclear war. The clock has been creeping back towards midnight ever since meaning we are now at the latest time
on the clock face for 31 years. The main reason for this was the continued political apathy towards climate change after the UN climate summit in September last year. Nine of the 10 hottest years have occurred since the year 2000 and 2014 was the hottest year on record. Greenhouse gas emissions that cause this temperature rise have also been far higher in the 21st century than all other recorded years combined.
Lack of action over building levels of nuclear waste and the fact that many nations are modernizing and expanding their nuclear armouries were given as supplementary causes for the clock’s recent move towards midnight. “We are not saying it is too late to take action”, said Kennette Bennedict, the executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists “but the window to take action is closing rapidly”.
Bill Gates on vaccines: HIV hope and pharma cost defence
...the Gates talk about eradicating polio by 2030, finding the ‘secret to destruction’ of malaria, and ‘forcing HIV to a tipping point’
ill Gates has been particularly vocal the past few weeks on medical matters. Inventor, computer programmer and consistently ranked one the richest men in the world, Gates is a formidable businessman. Most famous for co-founding Microsoft and revolutionizing computers as we know them today, few seem to know Gates also pours billions of pounds into a philanthropic foundation, conducting medical research to target our global health problems. The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation aim to “take on tough challenges: extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries, and the failures of America’s education system.” A large focus is defeating HIV, citing that “while huge progress has been made…more than 33 million people are currently living with HIV”. In the 2015 Annual Gates letter, husband and wife Bill and Melinda talk about their “big bet for the future” – that the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history. Within this bold and ambitious letter, the Gates talk about eradicating polio by 2030, finding the “secret to destruction” of malaria, and “forcing HIV to a tipping point”. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Bill Gates predicted that two HIV “miracles” are within reach – a
vaccine for prevention, and more intensive drugs to combat the disease. “We’re pretty optimistic in this 15year period we will get those two new tools.” Although optimistic about the prospects of treating and preventing HIV infection, Gates last week dismissed criticisms of the humanitarian aid organisation Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF). They called for two large pharmaceutical companies to significantly drop the price of the pneumococcal vaccine, a focus of the Gates foundation’s research. According to the World Health Organisation, pneumonia is the number one killer of children under the age of five worldwide, with over 1 million children dying each year from the preventable and treatable illness. Multiple interventions and vaccines are available for some of the more common bacterical causes of infection, but uptake is sporadic and infants are needlessly dying before immunisation. A “top priority” of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is to “promote full-scale delivery of currently available pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines”. Currently only two pharmaceutical companies, GlaxoSmithKleine and Pfizer, produce these vaccines and while $7.5 billion has been pledged for immunisation of children in poor countries, MSF have still lashed out
at what they see as an unfair price. Rohit Malpani of MSF said, “The price to fully vaccinate a child is 68 times more expensive than it was just over a decade ago, mainly because a handful of big pharmaceutical companies are overcharging donors and developing countries for vaccines that already earn them billions of dollars in wealthy countries.” Speaking at an international vaccine-funding conference in Berlin, Gates denied claims that the pneumococcal vaccine costs were too high. “This general thing where organisations come out and say, ‘hey, why don’t vaccines cost zero?’
– all that does is that you have some pharma companies that choose never to do medicine for poor countries because they know that this always just becomes a source of criticism.” Although not naming the MSF and in defence of his own work, he added, “I think there is an organisation that’s wonderful in every other respect, but every time we raise money to save poor children’s lives, they put out a press release that says the price of these things should be zero. Every five years when we are raising billions – that is the most eﬀective foreign aid ever given, that saves millions of lives.”
Pictured: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pour billions into medical research (Flickr)
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positions available: SU PRESIDENT
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FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO NOMINATE YOURSELF NOW: CARDIFFSTUDENTS.COM ELECTIONS All students at Cardiff University are eligible to stand in this election
SCIENCE 25 Extending telomeres in human cells to combat aging Shanna Hamilton
Now we have found a way to lengthen human telomeres... This approach paves the way toward
he shortening of the protective caps of our chromosomes is linked to aging and certain illnesses, and in the laboratory, scientists have developed a technique to rapidly extend them pointing to new ways to treat disease. As our medical understanding advances, we are surviving heart attacks, diabetes and cancer for longer, with the average life expectancy gradually increasing every year. We have a growing and aging population bringing forward new health challenges to tackle. The examination of telomeres has hence become an attractive field of study. When we are born, telomeres start at 8000 nucleotides (DNA subunits) long, but during cell division and aging, they shorten dramatically. Can we stop telomeres shortening by every cell division? Can we extend the human lifespan, or improve the quality of life we have left? A chemical messenger, messenger RNA, carries instructions from DNA to protein-making factories. This RNA contains a coding sequence for TERT, a pivotal component of an enzyme, telomerase. This enzyme stops telomeres becoming unhealthy and shortening too often. By modifying this messenger RNA to code for a variation of telomerase,
scientists have forced telomeres to lengthen for 48 hours before the modification dissipates. Although you might think telomeres extending forever could lead to immortality, it would open us up to the growth of uncontrollable cancers, so this timestop acts as a safety net to protect the telomeres. After the 48 hour extension, cells in the laboratory then revert back to becoming progressively shorter, but this allows telomeres to live 10 per cent longer than normal. If this technique were to theoretically be applied in the human body, this would be the equivalent to many more years of life. The report compares this new technology of temporary extension to being like “tapping the gas pedal in one of a fleet of cars coasting slowly to a stop. The car with the extra surge of energy will go farther than its peers, but it will still come to an eventual halt when its forward momentum is spent.” Helen Blau, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford, led the work: “Now we have found a way to lengthen human telomeres by as much as 1000 nucleotides, turning back the internal clock in these cells by the equivalent of many years of human life…. This
new approach paves the way toward preventing or treating disease of aging.” Blau and her research team first became interested in studying telomeres when looking at the degenerative disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). A disorder that only aﬀects males, DMD has a particularly poor prognosis with an average life expectancy of only 25 years. Studying muscle cells, Blau found that telomeres were much shorter in DMD suﬀerers than males
of the same age without the disease. Her latest findings therefore have implications in treating conditions linked to a shorter lifespan. “One day it may be possible to target muscle stem cells in a patient with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, for example, to extend their telomeres,” Blau said. “There are also implications for treating conditions of aging, such as diabetes and heart disease. This has really opened the doors to consider all types of potential uses of this therapy.”
Pictured: Telomeres are at the end of chromosomes, and shortening of these has been linked to aging (Flickr)
” Common psychiatric disorders
Pictured: Certain biological pathways have been implicated in some of the most common psychiatric disorders
linked by more than just genes
Biological pathways are important as they are much broader drug targets than single genes or proteins
ew research finds that common psychiatric disorders are not only linked by mutated genes, but that these mutations cluster and work together in pathways that are shared between the disorders too, giving new hope for drug discovery. Investigating problematic pathways - sets of genes that carry out a process in our body - rather than single gene changes in one disorder may be the way forward in finding suitable treatment. The genetic overlap between disorders could lead to broader treatment options that can treat a range of symptoms. Professor Peter Holmans of Cardiﬀ University, a corresponding author of the published work said on this, “They’re likely to be more promising druggable targets than individual genes”. This comes at a time when new psychiatric drugs are in need. According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem, with 1 in 4 British adults experiencing a diagnosable problem in any one year. This represents a large proportion of the UK disease burden and costs £70 billion a year. All while pharmaceutical giants, including GlaxoSmithKleine and AstraZeneca, have been shrinking their neuroscience research spending. On this note, a fresh look at old
research may have shed a new light on treatment opportunities. Mental health disorders may have more in common than first thought. Hundreds of authors, as part of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, looked more closely at genome-wide association studies. These studies examine markers across the sets of DNA of many people, to find common genetic diﬀerences that may be associated with mental illness. Although thousands of genetic variations have previously been identified to increase the risk of psychiatric conditions, so far it has been unclear how these changes aﬀect biological processes and pathways that lead to disease. By studying data from over 60,000 participants, the authors developed a framework to find common pathways across three disorders – bipolar disorder, manic depression and schizophrenia. Comparing those with psychiatric disorders to those without, the authors could examine genes that act together along a pathway in the body. By ranking pathways by their contribution to disease risk (these had a higher number of mutations relevant to mental illness), authors could discover which pathways were relevant to many disorders, instead of just one. They published their findings in journal Nature Neuroscience this month. Dr Gerome Breen, corresponding
author from King’s College University, said, “When we grouped the genetic data together, we found that genes relation to histone methylation – molecular changes that alter DNA expression – and immune function are risk factors associated with the development of these disorders. Biological pathways are important as they are much broader drug targets than single genes or proteins.” This finding also reminds us of the
challenges to classify mental disorders – if there are shared biological pathways in several disorders, it may be time to treat symptoms directly, rather than categorize patients by type of illness and treat them accordingly. Holmans of Cardiﬀ further commented, “Future studies of psychiatric illness should be perhaps based on the actual symptoms observed in the patients rather than the traditional criteria.”
SOCIETIES Barney’s Note
y goodness it has been a long time since I have written for Gair Rhydd! I hope you have all had a lovely Christmas and survived exams with the least possible stress. Now you are back, I am going to resume the elaborate attempt to distract you from your de-
gree that I call a job. There are now over 8000 of you guys as registered members which is somewhat insane but keep signing up; it means we are getting more and more people involved! The world of societies keeps turning and term two has several big
What’s On Monday 2nd February Student Advice Drop In Noon - 2pm Meeting Rooms close to the IV Lounge, Heath Park Campus Global Health Student Network Cancer In Developing Countries 6.30pm - 8pm 4J, Students’ Union Wednesday 4th February Women’s Association CWA Film Night: Obvious Child
6pm - 8pm 4C, Students’ Union Students For Life Ethics at the End of Life 7pm - 9pm Michael Griﬃths Lecture Theatre, Heath Park Campus Act One Much Ado About Nothing 4th February 7.30pm - 7th February 10pm See article below for more details YMCA Theatre, Roath
LGBT+ History Month is an awareness raising month looking at how far society has progressed on Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans* and Plus issues. We look at role models within the field of sports, politics, music, business and other major fields to inspire the next generation of LGBT+ individuals. As a liberation movement, the LGBT+ Association has come a long way. The
tweet us @gairrhyddsoc email us email@example.com or visit us online at gairrhydd.com/societies/
events that you should keep your eyes peeled for. When you read this, refreshers will be over and we will be looking forward to the February elections! You can put yourself forward for any of the officer roles (including mine) as long as you get your application in by the 5th. For more information, go to cardiffstudents. com or get in touch! Also, we have two big festivals coming up! Our performance and artistic societies will be showing off
during Cardiff Fringe week starting on the 16th of March. The 21st of March will see the annual return of Go Global, our festival of international culture and diversity. These events are always incredibly popular and often sell out in advance so be sure to act quickly when tickets go on sale in about a month. If you want to get involved in any of our over 190 societies and are not sure how, drop me an email on VPSocieties@cardiff. ac.uk.
Erasmus Society Tandem Café 8pm - 10pm The Lodge, Students’ Union
6th February 10am - 8th February 11pm Dublin, Ireland
Thursday 5th February Student Enterprise Speaker Session: Confessions of an Entrepreneur 6pm - 8pm 4J, Students’ Union Marrow Society Marrow Variety Night 7.30pm - 11pm Koko Gorilaz Friday 6th February History Society History society - Dublin trip
Students’ Union is proud to present a series of events aimed at informing, engaging and transforming students’ viewpoints on LGBT+ issues. What’s On this week: Introduction to LGBT+ at the Heath 2nd February 1pm - 2pm 2/21 in Ty Dewi Sant
Saturday 7th February Erasmus Society St. Fagans and Big Pit Trip 9am - 6pm Surgical Society Clinical Neuroscience Launch Conference 9.30am - 4pm Michael Griﬃths Lecture Theatre, Heath Park Campus Wilderness and Expedition Medicine Brecon Weekend Mark II 7th February 10am - 8th February 5pm Brecon Beacons
Bi Poster Competition 3rd February noon - 17th February 6pm Creative Writing Workshop 7th February 1pm - 3pm Tucker Cafe, 23 Salisbury Road For a full list of events and more info www.cardiﬀstudents.com/lgbtplus
Have an event you want covered? Email: societies@ gairrhydd. com
Act One present Much Ado About Nothing
uch Ado About Nothing is widely recognised as being one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies. It has been performed time and time again by some of the world’s leading comedic actors and between 4th-7th February, the Act One drama society has decided to take on the challenge. It is a remarkably modern tale of a woman fighting for her place in a man’s world and it deals with themes which are still relevant in modern society: love, denial, deception, secrecy and trust. The cast relished the challenge of the Shakespearean language and have managed to communicate the comedy despite the jokes being over 400 years old. So what’s diﬀerent about this version, and why should you come and see it? For starters, it’s funny. A little light relief to start oﬀ the spring semester can’t be a bad thing. We’ve really worked with the actors to make the most of the numerous insults, the witty interactions between characters and of course, that old favourite, the
sexual innuendo. Secondly, you will get the chance to hear some original music. We are going to have live music throughout the show which will really set the 1940s tone. The famous masquerade ball which features in every Shakespearian production takes the form of an uptempo jive in ours. The cast have been working incredibly hard on this, and
despite not necessarily being natural dancers, it has really taken form. Thirdly, the 1940s setting. The costumes, set and music have all been designed to evoke this era. It also helps us to bring out the more serious side of the play and the very real issues that it addresses. The director, Katrina Grier, told us that in this version ‘Beatrice represents the more modern,
confident woman who has played her part in the War and feels herself equal, demonstrating the great advances that women’s involvement in World War II brought to feminism’. It’s not a modern interpretation of the text, but somehow the 1940s setting and the Shakespearean language seem to come together really nicely. Small reminders of the war allow the important themes of Shakespeare’s masterpiece to shine through the laughs. Bursting at the seams with comedy, romance and conflict, this stylish adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing brings the genius of Shakespeare to the run-down glamour and precarious patriarchy of the late 1940s. Tickets can be purchased online for all four nights on the Students’ Union website or at the box oﬃce. Doors for each night open at 7pm with the performance beginning at 7.30pm. The performance is suitable for ages 14+ due to mild sexual content. Tickets are £8 and £6 for students at the YMCA Theatre, Roath.
‘I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest’ Beatrice and Benedick Poppy Parker & Rob Maddison
New society showcase: Dermatology
ardiﬀ University Dermatology Society is a new society that aims to promote awareness of the importance of dermatology in the medical curriculum. This will therefore increase exposure during training and in addition, will enable members to meet clinicians and academics. Founded by medical student Cliﬀ Duah in September 2014, the society will allow those with keen interest in dermatology to build contacts and learn more about a career in the field. It will also provide annual medical students with a dermatology handbook from the British Association of Dermatologists and raise public awareness of preventable diseases such as most melanomas. The society also hopes to aﬃliate to charity organisa-
tions including the British Skin Foundation for events including fundraising. The first event this term is a welcome evening on Tuesday 17th February, which will be an excellent opportunity for you to see what we are all about as well as a varied range of talks from what life is like as a dermatologist to getting published! This will be held in the Michael Griﬃths Lecture Theatre, Heath Park Campus between 7-9pm. Professor of dermatology, Alexander Anstey, an international expert in
phototherapy and a director of the Academic Dermatology Unit in South Wales has developed new treatments for skin diseases. He is very keen in helping students interested in dermatology through the society. He has offered his maximum support for promoting the society as well as many other dermatology professors and clinical lecturers. Dermatology oﬀers an interesting clinical or surgical career with a balanced and flexible working life and fewer on call shifts.
Skin problems are very common and if you want to become a GP or a dermatologist, you will frequently encounter these conditions. As a medical student, you have to take responsibility of your own learning, therefore is important for you to improve your knowledge on dermatological disease in order to manage patients eﬀectively. Despite the limited amount of teaching, future physicians are expected to diagnose and manage patients while in practice with many several skin manifestations. Membership is just £3 and recently, the formation of the society has enabled students to voice concerns to the medical school, resulting in changes to the existing curriculum, with more teaching in dermatology.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org DanceSport Every Tuesday Great Hall, Students’ Union 6.00pm Salsa £1 7.15pm Latin & Ballroom £2 9.00pm Technique £2 You will need: appropriate dance clothing, footwear and a bottle of water. Email: cardiﬀdancesport@gmail.com Opera 2pm 1st February 2015 Room 4J, Fourth Floor Students’ Union Email: OperaticSociety@cardiﬀ.ac.uk Languages ESN Tandem Cafés 8pm – 10pm The Lodge, Y Plas Nightclub Wednesday 4th February 2015 Email: sadlerh@cardiﬀ.ac.uk
All events must be signed up for in advance. To sign up and for more information, go to cardiﬀstudents.com/giveitago. Unless specified, events are free and no special equipment is needed. Sports Fencing 5.30pm Every Monday / 7.30pm Every Friday Talybont Sports Centre You will need: Wear loose tracksuit bottoms (no shorts), a comfortable top and trainers. And bring a bottle of water. Email: callinae@cardiﬀ.ac.uk Jiu Jitsu 6.00pm Every Monday Talybont Dojo You will need: Loose sports clothing, (avoiding jeans) and belts and a bottle of water. Email: PengBF@cardiﬀ.ac.uk Complete Fitness 4pm 1st February Strength and Conditioning Centre, Park Place You will need: Appropriate gym clothing, a drink and desire to become better.
Email: email@example.com Creative Anime Film Screening 7pm Every Friday Large Shandon Lecture Theatre, Main Building Email: Animesocietynew@cardiﬀ.ac.uk Manga Library 6pm Every Monday The Lounge, Third Floor Students’ Union Email: Animesocietynew@cardiﬀ.ac.uk Creative Writing 6.45pm Every Tuesday Meeting at the front of the Students’ Union Email: B.guymer@cardiﬀ.ac.uk Sci-Fi & Fantasy 6.45pm Every Monday Meeting at the front of the Students’ Union Email: B.guymer@cardiﬀ.ac.uk Music, Dance & Performance Slash Hip Hop 8pm Open Class Every Monday CF10 in the SU, 28/01, 8-10pm. You will need: appropriate dance clothing, footwear and a bottle of water.
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Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Thought, Culture & Faith Debating 7pm Every Thursday Bute Café Email: debatingsociety@cardiﬀ.ac.uk Model United Nations Society 6pm Every Tuesday Room 4H, Students’ Union Email: rabbitta@cardiﬀ.ac.uk Screening of ‘Obvious Child’ 7pm Wednesday 4th February Students’ Union Email: womensoﬃcer@cardiﬀ.ac.uk CathSoc: Film Screening of ‘The Way’ 7.15pm Friday 6th February Catholic Chaplaincy Cost: £2 Email: cardiﬀcathsoc@googlemail.com
Dealing with Perfectionism 2pm Wednesday 4th February
Sikh Society: Feed the Homeless 2.30pm Every Wednesday Back of SU, by Magic Wrap You will need: Warm clothing Email: midlandgarseva@cardiﬀsikhsoc.org. uk
Leadership in Diﬃcult Situations 10am Friday 6th February SDS@Cardiﬀ.ac.uk 029 2078 1489
Student Senate Tuesday 3rd February 2015 6pm Room 4J, Students’ Union
Cardiﬀ Award Speaker Session: Confessions of an Entrepreneur Thursday 5th February Room c0.13 Sir Martin Evans Building
Motivation 5.30pm Monday 2nd February
Heath Healthcare Basketball 2pm Every Saturday Heath Sports Hall You will need: Appropriate sportswear, trainers and a bottle of water. Email: okorochaci@cardiﬀ.ac.uk Medics Ladies Hockey 4pm Every Sunday Talybont AstroTurf You will need: Appropriate Sportswear and Trainers
LGBT+ Brunch 11am Every Saturday Tucker, Salisbury Road LGBT@cardiﬀ.ac.uk C-Card Sessions Every Thursday Lunchtime 12pm – 3pm Room 4F, Students’ Union SHAG@cardiﬀ.ac.uk @SexualHealthCU #CUshag Student Minds Eating disorder support group: 6.15 – 7.15pm Every Thursday Room 4F, Students’ Union Cardiﬀ@studentminds.org.uk @StudentMindsCDF
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KERRANG! Tour 2015
13/02/15, £16.50 ADV
Four Year Strong
The Jesus And Mary Chain CARDIFFBOXOFFICE CARDIFFBOXOFFICE.COM All tickets subject to booking fee
10/03/15, £10 ADV
Enter Shikari 17/02/15 - SOLD OUT 17/02/15, £10 ADV
10/03/15, £23 ADV
27/02/15, £25 ADV
Treatment presents... Ten Walls Live 27/02/15, £18.50
March Stiff Little Fingers 08/03/15, £18.50 ADV
13/03/15, £15 ADV
24/03/15, £14 ADV
April Lower Than Atlantis 09/04/15, £12 ADV
Limehouse Lizzy vs Livewire AC/DC 17/04/15, £20 ADV
SOCIETIES Abhishek Mohan
Sikh society feed the homeless
ardiﬀ University’s Sikh Society has teamed up with the Midland Langar Seva Society to start serving ‘langar’ (food) on the streets of Cardiﬀ. This is part of a national project that aims to help the homeless and provide food and hunger relief to those who need it regardless of background, caste, creed, colour and religion. Langar is at the centre of the Sikh teaching about equality. Every ‘Gurdwara’ (place of worship for Sikhs) has a langar where anybody is allowed to come and eat. All the food served is vegetarian. The first Guru and founder of the Sikh faith - Guru Nanak Dev Ji - established the langar.
He strongly believed that everyone was equal, no matter his or her social class or background. Sikhs believe that being involved in the preparation and serving of food is a form of ‘Seva’ (selfless service). The first langar on the streets of Cardiﬀ took place on Wednesday 14th January 2015. In the last two weeks over 100 people have been successfully served. The first two feeds were done during very cold weather but the Sikh Society feel that serving langar on the streets of Cardiﬀ and inviting people to eat and drink in these temperatures is nothing compared to what homeless individuals have to face every day and night. They strongly believe that there
should be no diﬀerence between those who are fortunate to have blessed lives and those who are homeless and hope to do what they can to produce a more equal society. We are very grateful for this service initiated by Midland Langar Seva Society. The langar takes place every Wednesday from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. The food is distributed beneath the Queen Street Railway Station Bridge on Newport Road. If you would like to help cook, distribute or donate langar or clothing supplies please contact Nick Singh Robson on 07765824900 or Amerpreet Singh Khalsa on 07583195356. We hope to see you there.
New society showcase: Anthropology society
We base our activities around the study of humans, whether it’s llama herders or prostitution
Pictured: Ratu Kelantan
ardiﬀ University Anthropological Society is the most selfish society of all because we are only interested in one thing: humans! From human origins, huntergathers, and indigenous religions, to drug culture, the eﬀects of internet use on human interactions, and the integration of immigrant culture into developed nations, we’re looking to explore some amazing diﬀerent cultures, with plenty of socials (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), guest lectures, and day trips. This society is for those with an interest in how humans have developed, socially and biologically, throughout history. We base our activities around the study of humans, whether it’s llama herders in the Andes and huntergatherers in Papua New Guinea, or prostitution, gangs, and online trolling. Our events range from lectures
from guest speakers to coﬀee-meets and a day trip to Pitt Rivers Museum of Anthropology, Oxford. Being truly inter-disciplinary, the Anthropological Society is an opportunity to meet people of diﬀerent degrees who share similar interests but can oﬀer
diﬀerent insights and approaches to the study of humans. As an almost course-based society without an actual course, we welcome everyone from medicine students to fine art students. The first lecture was held on the
27th January with the topic Tibetan astrology by Dr Nick Swann from the University of South Wales. This was very well received, and we look forward to future lectures: February 10th – ‘Looking good’ and ‘good looking’ in school: an ethnography on body image in a London school with speaker Dr Sarah Winkler-Reid from Bristol University, February 24th – Human Behaviour: A Zoologists Perspective with speaker Dr Rob Thomas from Cardiﬀ University, March 25th – Gods, Heroes and Monsters: Exploring Celtic Myths by Professor Miranda Aldhouse-Green from Cardiﬀ University and April 21st – Mindfulness: Psychological, Social and Historic Dimensions with speaker Dr Steven Stanley also from Cardiﬀ University. Membership is just £2, so if you’re looking for something beyond the ordinary, this is the place for you!
Malaysian society announce Festival of Diversity XII
alaysia is more than just one of the buzzing economical hubs in Southeast Asia. It is more than just home to the Orangutans and the ever-sopopular spicy Nasi Lemak. We have become a developed nation with a proud multiracial and multicultural population whose stories and cultures have been mixed and melded. There are many stories that come to mind when you think about Malaysia, from modern day news stories you most likely would hear only about, to simple fables and lore. We are
what we are today– a nation rich in its heritage and diversity because of the melting pot of cultures in our country. We wish to share with you our story of what it’s like to be Malaysian and oﬀer a taste of Malaysian culture. This year, on the 15th February 2015 at 2pm, we the Malaysian Students’ Society of Cardiﬀ University (MSSCF), welcome you to witness the 12th instalment of our awardwinning Festival of Diversity, held at St. David’s Hall. The Festival of Diversity exists for
two main reasons: the first being to promote the diversity of Malaysian culture to the local and also the international community here in Cardiﬀ, the second being our chance as Malaysians to reconnect with our own culture and heritage. Every year over a hundred participants, regardless of age, race, religion or Malaysian heritage, come together to produce this spectacular musical performance. We become more than just participants in a one-oﬀ musical, we become a memory that each of us hold for years to come– a memory that we will retell. We would like to invite you all to share our story by coming to support us. This February, we present “Ratu Kelantan: Queen of Kelantan”, a historical fiction musical that retells the tale of the first Queen of Kelantan, Cik Siti Wang Kembang, a young princess who is forced to become Queen in a world largely dominated by males in one of the eastern coastal states of Peninsular Malaysia. It is set in 16th century
Malaysia, a time when the states were still independent, and when there was a cultural boom growing in Kelantan. With a whole new cast of talented individuals and a spectacular lineup of vivid traditional Malay, Indian and Chinese dances, accompanied by live performances of popular eastern, western, traditional and modern music, we live up to the standards of being awarded the ‘Best Malaysian Night of 2014’. You are sure to be immersed in the beauty of our Malaysian culture, particularly with our iconic Dikir Barat performance, a traditional dance that is done whilst seated in a large group, each individual performing a synchronized movement that forms part of a bigger formation, accompanied by traditional percussion and acoustics. Come and join us on this adventure through Malaysian history and indulge in a magical evening of music and art with our dedicated team of ever amusing, fun and hardworking students from Cardiﬀ University.
Pictured: Above: Individuals who volunteered their time to feed the homeless Left: Pitt Rivers Museum of Anthropology, Oxford
For more information visit http:// tinyurl.com/ poxloxo
We are what we are today - a nation rich in its heritage and diversity because of the melting pot of cultures in our country
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Hunan-gasineb cenedl dan sawdl C afwyd yn ddiweddar drafodaeth danbaid ar fater yr iaith Gymraeg; yn benodol, agwedd negyddol y Cymry tuag at y di-Gymraeg ynghyd â’u culfrydedd honedig. Ni thâl i mi ddyfynnu o’r cruglwyth o lyfrau ac ysgrifau a sgwennwyd am hyn o beth. Ymataliaf rhag llusgo geiriau pwysfawr Saunders Lewis i mewn i’r ddadl, er mod addas ydynt, oherwydd y bu’r ddadl wreiddiol mor amddifad o ymchwil ac awdurdod; ac yn wir, ni raid i neb lafurio yn y llyfrgell i gael hyd i synnwyr cyﬀredin. Yn y bôn, dadleuwyd mai rhyw fath o ardd gaeedig yw’r bywyd Cymraeg na chaiﬀ neb loches ynddi oni bai ei fod yn arddel safbwynt gwleidyddol arbennig (pleidleisio dros Blaid Cymru) ac ei fod yn aelod o Gymdeithas yr Iaith (sefydliad sydd yn feirniadol o Blaid Cymru!). Ac anwybyddu ﬀolineb amlwg y gwrthddywediad uchod, y peth mwyaf brawychus am y rhefru hwn yw ei fod yn ystrydebu holl siaradwyr Cymraeg, sef yr union beth yr honnwyd i siaradwyr Cymraeg hwythau ei wneud parthed y di-Gymraeg! Dywedwyd yn gwbl ddi-sail bod balchder yn yr iaith, neu hyd yn oed yr awydd i’w hamddiﬀ yn, yn ymgnawdoliad o genedlaetholdeb peryglus ac
nid oes raid i ni fel cenedl ddiﬃnio ein hunain yn ôl ein hiaith. Dyma’r maen tramgwydd. Heb yr iaith, ni fyddem yn genedl; pe na bai’r iaith Gymraeg yn iaith fyw ar ein tir, ni fyddem heddiw yn dadlau am y cysyniad o genedl Gymreig yn y lle cyntaf. Ymhelaethaf. Yn anﬀodus, nid oes y fath wlad â Chymru’n bodoli yn swyddogol fel gwladwriaeth sofran. Er bod gennym ymwybyddiaeth o’r hyn yw Cymru, darn o dir ydyw yn rhan orllewinol y Deyrnas Unedig yng ngolwg y drefn sydd ohoni. Rydym ni a aned neu a drig y tu mewn i’r darn hwn o dir yn ddinasyddion y DU. Yn hyn o beth, nid oes dim yn ein gwahanu yn gyfreithiol oddi wrth drigolion eraill y DU. Yn gam, ‘Prydeinwyr’ ydym ar bapur. Ymhellach, ni reolwn yr hyn a ddigwydd ar y darn hwn o dir a elwir yn Gymru: braint llywodraeth Seisnig yn Llundain yw honno. Felly nid yw ein geni o fewn ﬃniau Cymru yn golygu dim. Ond nid ydym er hynny yn genedl Gymreig ar sail ein gwaed, am nad oes gan neb waed Cymreig. Nid adwaen gwaed genedligrwydd. Tarddodd teulu bob un ohonom o rywle arall yn y pen draw. Felly beth sy’n ein gosod ar wahân? Yr iaith Gymraeg, yn syml.
Siaredir yr iaith Gymraeg o fewn un diriogaeth: Cymru. Mae’r iaith hon yn nodwedd unigryw y darn hwn o dir a dim ond trwy yr iaith yr ydym yn wahanol. Hebddi, does dim gennym i dystio i’n harwahanrwydd. Nid yw tîm rygbi, ambell i gân Saesneg fabwysiedig a manion distadl eraill yn gefn i genedl. Mae hyd yn oed y di-Gymraeg yn dibynnu ar fodolaeth yr iaith i allu galw eu hunain yn Gymreig , oblegid heb yr iaith yn iaith fyw, bydd ein holl hanes hyd at yn ddiweddar iawn yn ddiystyr ac yn hollol ferfaidd.
Dylem, felly, seilio ein cenedligrwydd ar ein hiaith. Pan fo cynifer o ‘Brydeinwyr’ bondigrybwyll yn lladd arnom am feiddio siarad ein hiaith, sef yr unig beth a wnawn yn genedl Gymreig, ergyd angheuol iddi yw pob Cymro a Chymraes sy’n mewnoli’r gorthrwm a wynebwn a throi yn hunangasáwyr. ‘Hawliau a chydraddoldeb i bawb… ond ni’ yw eu bloedd. Gall unrhyw un ddysgu iaith, felly mae’n sylfaen eang a democrataidd i genedligrwydd. Nid cul o gwbl mo’r pwyslais ar ein hiaith fel conglfaen ein hunaniaeth.
Gall unrhyw un fod yn
>arwr> Dydd Mercher 22AIN Ebrill
Prifysgol Caerdydd v
Prifysgol Abertawe #teamcardiff welshvarsity.com
Mae’r iaith hon yn nodwedd unigryw y darn hwn o dir a dim ond trwy yr iaith yr ydym yn wahanol
Tuesday 3rd February 18:00
Room 4J of the Students Union
1) Bye-Law Review Package A
4) Sanitary Products
2) Policy on Sexist Media and Advertising
5) Students not Suspects
3) Being a Zero Tolerance Union
All Cardiff Students are invited to attend Student Senate meetings and take part in the discussion. Get involved and tell the Student Senators what your views are. Got questions or want help submitting you idea to the next meeting?
Get in touch
Find out more cardiffstudents.com/your_voice/student-senate
Thursday 5th February is National Voter Registration Day
Look out for the big red registration bus around campus
tweet us @gairrhyddsport email us firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us online at gairrhydd.com/sport
BUCS results: Wednesday 29th January
Cardiff University men’s 4th
Swansea University men’s 3rd
Cardiff University men’s 5th
Bath Spa University men’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 4th
Aberystwyth University men’s 1st
Cardiff University women’s 1st
University of Exeter women’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 2nd
Cardiff Met University men’s 2nd
Cardiff University women’s 1st
Cardiff Met University women’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 5th
Cardiff University men’s 6th
Cardiff University women’s 6th
Bath Spa University women’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 2nd
University of West of England men’s 3rd
Cardiff University women’s 2nd
University of Bristol women’s 3rd
Cardiff University men’s 2nd
Cardiff University women’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 1st
University of Exeter men’s 3rd
Cardiff University women’s 4th
University of Gloucestershire women’s 2nd
Cardiff University men’s 1st
University of Gloucestershire men’s 1st
Cardiff University women’s 1st
Oxford University women’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 1st
Oxford University men’s 1st
Cardiff University women’s 2nd
Swansea University women’s 1st
Cardiff University women’s 3rd
Swansea University women’s 1st
Cardiff University women’s 1st
Swansea University women’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 2nd
Swansea University men’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 3rd (Medics)
Swansea University men’s 2nd
Cardiff University men’s 1st
Swansea University men’s 2nd
Cardiff University women’s 1st
University of Southampton women’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 1st
University of Southampton men’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 2nd (Medics)
University of Southampton men’s 1st
Cardiff University men’s 6th
Cardiff University men’s 5th
Cardiff University women’s 4th (Medics)
Cardiff Met University women’s 4th
Cardiff University women’s 8th (Medics)
Cardiff Met University women’s 6th
University of South Wales Pontypridd and Cardiff men’s 1st University of South Wales Pontypridd and Cardiff women’s 1st
BUCS report: Ladies’ rugby sink the Swans
Swansea University.......................7 Cardiﬀ University.......................17
ith all the trash-talk from Swansea’s ladies this week in response to the Varsity launch, Cardiﬀ knew that they were in for a tough game. The conditions were not great to play in, as the wind and hail battered the players. Cardiﬀ were playing into the wind for the first half and spent most of the first period in their own 22. They did manage to break through the Swansea
line, which allowed Megan O’Sullivan to score the first try for Cardiﬀ, but it could not be converted. Swansea pushed Cardiﬀ back to their own try line and constantly put pressure on the Cardiﬀ defence. Several times they tried to score but each time they were held up until just before halftime. Swansea managed to break the Cardiﬀ defence to score their only try of the match, which was successfully converted. The second half was much of the same, constant pressure by Swansea
and most of the play happening in Cardiﬀ ’s own 22. Under immense pressure from Swansea, Cardiﬀ conceded a succession of penalties. And with an accumulation of fouls, the referee was left with no choice but to give out a yellow card. Even with some scrappy attacking play from Cardiﬀ, two more tries were scored by Megan O’Sullivan and Kasia Davies, one of which was converted by Elinor Davis. Cardiﬀ did very well defensively in the second half, fighting by their own
try-line most of the time. Several times Swansea attacked, but every single time the Cardiﬀ defence held them up. The game was a tough one but a well deserved win for the Cardiﬀ Ladies. Squad: N. Harrison, A. White, H. Cox, J. Benton, L. Cooper, A. Fleming, A. Berry, B. Strafford (C), H. Brench-Jones, K. Davies, N. Earl, E. Davis, H. Beatle, J. AP, M. O’Sullivan, K. Davies, S. Hamer, L. Waddelove, R. Harris, C. Francis, E. Badhams, M. Compton.
Six Nations: Home comforts key for Welsh championship hopes Continued from back page
faces is Sam Warburton, who enters his fourth Six Nations as captain with his side in decent form. This autumn Wales ended their southern hemisphere hoodoo by grinding out a 12-6 win over South Africa, after narrowly losing to Australia and being well beaten by New Zealand. This is certainly not imperious form but is also not a bad shape to be in all things considered. The Friday night floodlights will add to the atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium, and this amphitheatre is poised to welcome England in the series opener. This already emotionally-charged fixture carries heightened importance; a good or bad result here could set the tone for the rest of the campaign for both teams. England have an extensive injury list in an already relatively inexperienced squad, and Wales will surely look to capitalise and assert themselves on their opponents from the first whistle,
to put right the 29-18 defeat at Twickenham in March 2014. The settled and tested Welsh centre partnership of Roberts and Jonathan Davies should have the beating of their as-yet undecided English counterparts. Gatland has a back three of Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and George North at his disposal whereas Stuart Lancaster’s likely trio of Mike Brown, Jonny May and Jack Nowell (or Anthony Watson) do not carry the same threat. In a recent European cuptie between Racing Metro and Northampton Saints, Roberts faced Luther Burrell, a likely candidate for the role of inside-centre in England’s line-up. What was evident in Metro’s 32-8 win was the sheer dominance Roberts enjoyed over Burrell with the ball-in-hand, which boded well for Friday’s fixture. The last time Cardiff hosted this game, the home side humbled their noisy neighbours 30-3. However, another result of this magnitude is improbable; despite the aforementioned injuries, England still boast a strong pack. In the Autumn International series the English scrum went tail-to-tail with the best the Southern Hemisphere had to offer, and often got the better of them. However, the Red Dragons can be quietly confident that if they perform to their optimum, backed by a partisan home crowd, the defeat eleven months ago at Twickenham will be avenged largely thanks to the firepower of the backline and the boot of Halfpenny. The only other side to visit Cardiff are Ireland, who travel to the Welsh capital in week four. The Irish have injury problems of their own with a shortage at fly-half, though Jonathan Sexton is only set to miss the opener and should be back for the game in Wales. Since the retirement of the talismanic Brian O’Driscoll, Ireland approach their first Six Nations without him in impeccable form; in the autumn they won all three games versus South Africa, Australia and Georgia. Again, home advantage might be the deciding factor in the game, as Wales look to banish the demons of last year’s 26-3 drubbing
Pictured: Left: Wales players after last year’s Six Nations defeat to England. Bottom left: Blues’ Gareth Anscombe could made his Wales bow
The Red Dragons can be quietly confident that [...] the defeat eleven months ago at Twickenham will be avenged
in Dublin. For what should be one of the easier games of the series, Wales travel to Scotland in week two. That said, Gatland’s men will be wary of an ever-improving Scotland side under Vern Cotter. After a week’s rest, a trip to Paris is next on the agenda in what is a potentially tricky tie against an inconsistent French outfit. Les Bleus have some international heavyweights such as Thierry Dusautoir, Wesley Fofana and Matthieu Bastareaud, who will provide a physical test. On a good day France can compete with the best in the world, but often fall short – as seen in Cardiff last year. That day’s result of 27-6 in favour of the Dragons will act as encouragement to Warburton and co. A spring afternoon in Rome is the most ideal finale for a wannabe title - or even Grand Slam-winning side. Wales could very conceivably achieve this accolade, but so much hinges on the opener against the old enemy this coming Friday.
The full squad list: Forwards: Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Paul James (Bath), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Gloucester), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Jake Bell (Scarlets), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), James King (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Backs: Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues),, George North (Northampton Saints), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon)
Fixtures February 6th, 20:05 Millennium Stadium Wales v England February 15th, 15:00 Murrayfield Scotland v Wales February 28th, 17:00 Stade de France France v Wales March 14th, 14:30 Millennium Stadium Wales v Ireland March 21st, 12:30 Stadio Olimpico Italy v Wales
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IMG Netball Team Talk: ENCAP
Netball novice James Lloyd sheds some light on the IMG netball competition this week, questioning ENCAP B captain Polly Holmes
How does IMG Netball work? During first term we play other IMG teams randomly and then in the second term we get seeded as to how we’ve done so far. So this term we are all in diﬀerent groups, depending on the teams ability. How did your team form? I have been part of ENCAP for three years now and this is our biggest year. We have thirty, maybe forty members so we have enough for two teams I am actually captain of ENCAP B. Everyone comes to training and we pick from there really; it’s not just on the best players, teams are picked as to who comes to training. We train once a week for an hour. What is your role as captain? I plan training sessions and pick the team. We were also part of the UNICEF netball tournament and that was fantastic as we got many people who weren’t in the team to play. We had three teams entered for that so that was really good, it’s a lot of organisation and the toughest bit is
Mark Hammett’s Cardiﬀ Blues squad returned from France last weekend buoyed by their 28-3 bonus-point success over Grenoble, clinching a European Challenge Cup quarter-final in the process. Scores by Lloyd Williams and the everconsistent Josh Navidi sandwiched two penalty tries as the Blues stormed their way into the last eight, albeit as a best runner-up courtesy of an excruciatingly close one-point diﬀerence in their headto-head record with London Irish. This means that to eclipse their success of 2010 the Blues will have to do
making sure everyone gets a game: I don’t like taking people on or oﬀ but it has to be done. How popular is IMG Netball? There’s loads of teams, around thirty eight I think, so this year is one of the most popular years for it. There’s so much going on and it’s very competitive. There are so many competitive teams in the IMG and the quality is of a high standard. Which team do you look forward to playing the most? We always look forward to playing Cardiﬀ A because they are one of the best teams and they always give us a good match. Last year we beat them and, funnily enough, we had a great game against our A team where our B team came out on top. Do you have your own kit and sponsors? We are sponsored by Varsity and we have to go there every other week for a social, and we have a team dress that everyone in the squad owns. it the hard way with both the quarter and semi-finals drawn away from home. First up is a Welsh derby with Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade, before the winner faces a trip to either Edinburgh or London Irish. There were a number of plus points from the Grenoble win, with Gareth Anscombe and Rhys Patchell proving that they coexist in the same side with Anscombe continuing at ten, and Patchell excelling at full-back. In other news there were some noticeable Blue absentees from Wales’ Six Nations squad. The most obvious
Who is your best player? Kirsty Fardell has been very good. She joined this year as a shooter and has fitted in perfectly. There is another girl, Melissa Hufton, who started this year and has been really good. What style of netball do you play? We do have a few set plays but I’m not a huge fan of them. Everyone knows who should be getting the ball next, but we wouldn’t do long passes. It’s always very short and dodging into a space. How does a set play work? So every time someone scores you have to restart and usually you know if one person gets the ball so and so will get it next, and then someone will come out from the deep. It should be straightforward and they usually work very well; in a small area it’s easy.
sure how everyone would get on. I was impressed by how the team gelled quickly and managed to get into a good playing rhythm - the first few matchs were especially memorable. Do you have any targets for the rest of the season? We would like to be the top of our group and I think we could be. It would also be nice not to lose a match, but it’s a tough group this year, so realistically I would like to finish in the top two or three. If you could pick one sportswoman to join your team, who would it be and what position would they play? I don’t really know, I do gymnastics, so I suppose Beth Tweddle would be good, she’s small and could be a really good centre as she is fast too.
What has been the best moment? I suppose our first game was quite impressive as we had so many new players this year and I wasn’t really
Finally, who is the biggest character in the team? That is so diﬃcult to pick, I’ll say Sophie Payne. She is always so up for the Lash, she loves it.
of those was Adam Jones, and whilst at this stage in his career the big tight-head wouldn’t have been first choice with Scarlets’ Samson Lee performing out of his skin, he would surely have been an able and vastly experienced deputy to call upon so close to a World Cup. Picked ahead of Jones was current Blues teammate Scott Andrews, a man yet to start a Pro12 game this campaign. This can be interpreted as yet another example of Warren Gatland’s distasteful and disrespectful dealing of players who have given so much to the game; see his treatment of Brian O’Driscoll, a legend of
the sport, during the most recent Lions tour. To pick a player three steps below him in his position at his own club stinks of bitterness and acrimony and it is a sad way to see the highly decorated Jones bow out of the international arena. On top of this, Gatland has once again over-looked Navidi and Josh Turnbull both of whom have performed fantastically and deserve international recognition. At least Anscombe and Kristian Dacey have been awarded an opportunity alongside fellow teammates Warburton, Jenkins, Allen and Cuthbert.
Photo: Taliesin Coombes
LGBT+ History Month: Coming out in sport
Sport Editor David Hooson asks whether it matters if sportspeople are publicly open about their sexuality David Hooson
hen Olympic medalwinning diver Tom Daley revealed in a YouTube video just over a year ago that he was in a relationship with a man, it was generally met with a resounding chorus of indiﬀerence, particularly from members of the LGBT+ community. It was seen as inconsequential information that should be of little interest to anyone except Daley and his boyfriend Dustin Lance Black, an Oscar-winning American screenwriter. At best, the news received lukewarm praise. This reaction, along with the public response to former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas’ coming out in 2009 after his international career had ended, represented an extremely encouraging development for the visibility of gay and bisexual men in sport. Such visibility is one area in which women’s sport has developed far more quickly. Since tennis legend Billie Jean King had her contracts terminated after being outed in 1981, sportswomen opening up about their sexuality voluntarily has become more and more common. There are now openly lesbian and bisexual women in just about every sport, competing at all levels. Despite encouraging signs, the world of men’s sport is still far behind this progress and moving very slowly. There are no openly gay or bisexual players in the entire English football league or in any of the four major
sports leagues in the United States. It should be pointed out, however, that players from all of these leagues have come out after their retirement. Even significant eﬀorts towards progress have quickly fallen flat. Jason Collins became the first openly gay man to play in one of the major American leagues early last year. The 35-year-old then signed for the Brooklyn Nets and had minimal game time in the NBA before retiring later that season. Ice hockey player Brendan Burke was tipped to become the first openly gay athlete to be drafted into one of the big four leagues, but was tragically killed in a car accident before having the chance to do so. Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay English football player, committed suicide several years after his career was ruined by coming out. With such considerations, the trepidation and turmoil Daley and Thomas respectively professed over their revelations, which this article is not intended to belittle, are completely understandable. While a neutral response to one’s sexuality is rightly the ultimate aim, the subject of gay and bisexual men in sport is still somewhat of a taboo. This means that Daley, Thomas and others are deserving of far more praise for their bravery than they have been given. We are not yet quite at the stage in society, and certainly not in sport, where coming out can be dismissed as inconsequential or unimportant.
It is important that sportspeople are encouraged to come out and the sporting community is encouraged to embrace them.
The January transfer window has offered Cardiff City manager Russell Slade his first opportunity to truly revamp his squad since taking over the reigns in October. Having inherited a team assembled largely by former managers Malky Mackay and Ole Gunner Solskjaer, Slade has been hard at work to put his own stamp on the club. The City boss has been talking to the media about the wage bill at the Cardiff City Stadium, and how it is unsustainable for a club at Championship level. While many
fans may feel slightly anxious that the club are settling back into the current level of competition amidst expectations at the start of the season for City to go straight back up, the departures of players on large wages who have not performed as expected have been warmly welcomed; flops such as Guido Burgstaller, Magnus Wolff Eikrem and Jo Inge Berget are among those that have left during the current window. While there have been many departures from the club, Slade has not been slow to bring in new faces
Openness and visibility are the keys to fighting age-old stereotypes and the residual stigma that remains from bygone eras. And as long as these things are present in society, coming out will remain a daunting prospect for the individual in question. For some in the world of sport, this prospect has proved far too daunting. Multiple celebrity publicists have repeatedly stated that some sportsmen, most commonly footballers, have employed them to cover up their sexuality. Before his imprisonment as part of Operation Yewtree, PR mogul Max Cliﬀord claimed to have helped two Premier League stars remain in the closet and advised others to follow their example, alleging that football was still “steeped in homophobia”. Former Leeds winger Robbie Rogers was one individual who hid his sexuality while playing in England, only to come out during his brief retirement at the age of 25. Rogers now plays in Major League Soccer for LA Galaxy. Both Thomas and gay rugby referee Nigel Owens have opened up about the suicidal thoughts they experienced when coming to terms with their sexuality – so unthinkable was it to them that they might be accepted as gay men by the rugby community. The pair have since described the overwhelming support they have received from that community. Just over 16 years after attempting to take his own life, Owens is now widely regarded as the best rugby referee in the world. At least publicly, the only sign of homophobic sentiment toward either of them appeared during the recent autumn international, where Owens was the target of jeers from the Twickenham crowd as England lost to New Zealand. Following this, the RFU set an ideal example for other governing bodies by immediately investigating the incident. The main reason that all of the people mentioned in this article must have feared rejection from the sporting world is a lack of precedent. The fact that the sportsmen mentioned by name in this article constitute an almost exhaustive list in British terms demonstrates the sad fact that it is
still statistically exceptional to be a prominent openly gay sportsman. The significance of these individuals placing themselves as role models for young gay and bisexual sportsmen will continue to reveal itself over time. This will hopefully happen in conjunction with the disappearance of the apparently ubiquitous internal anguish that has been described by just about every athlete who has come out. Their reach does not extend only to those in the sporting world, however. The coming out of prominent individuals in as many fields as possible has a trickle-down eﬀect on the rest of society and its perceptions of all LGBT+ identities. As an industry with which the British public shares a special aﬃnity, sport can perhaps have the greatest influence in this regard but is almost certainly the area with the most ground to make up to get to the stage where it needs to be to make a real diﬀerence. For as long as my instinct is to think twice before reaching for my boyfriend’s hand in public, it is important that sportspeople are encouraged to come out and the sporting community is encouraged to embrace them. A gay diver, a gay rugby referee, and perhaps one day an openly gay Premier League star, can have a profound eﬀect upon society and upon the lives of people like me.
to freshen up the squad. Two fullbacks who have proven themselves at Championship level - Scott Malone and Lee Peltier - have been brought in, along with big striker Alex Revell and Crystal Palace reserve midfielder Stuart O’Keefe. While they are not currently bigname signings, these are the types of player who know how to perform in the division, and are hungry to get going at a larger club - they may well be just the signings that Cardiff are in desperate need of right now. Recent results have been a mixed
bag for growingly frustrated City fans, with the team currently sitting mid-table and an ever-widening gap emerging from the playoffs. There are additional concerns surrounding the release of former fan-favourite Kim Bo-Kyung and the loaning of talented striker Adam le Fondre to Bolton Wanderers. Slade will be calling for fans to look more toward the long-term success of the club rather than the short-term, which could be just what is needed at City after a rollercoaster two years.
Pictured: Left: Rugby Union referee Nigel Ownes Bottom left: Footballer Justin Fashanu
The coming out of prominent individuals in as many fields as possible has a trickledown effect on the rest of society and its perceptions of all LGBT+ identities.
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Cardiff primed for Six Nations kick-off Gair Rhydd looks ahead to Wales’ Six Nations campaign, and assesses their chances of wrestling the title back from Ireland
elsh rugby players and fans alike will be hoping that the atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium will prove to be decisive during their home games in the upcoming Six Nations campaign. The tournament begins this Friday with a fixture that has raised the pulses of rugby fans on both sides of the Severn Bridge in anticipation: Wales versus England.
Blues column: Jones omission “stinks of acrimony” P34>>
Head coach Warren Gatland’s thirty four-man squad selection was largely unsurprising, although the respective inclusion and exclusion of Gareth Anscombe and Adam Jones did raise a few eyebrows. Jones’ failure to make the cut follows on from him missing out in the Autumn Internationals, and has prompted his retirement from international rugby - the iconic style of rugby and hair associated with
the Cardiﬀ Blues prop will be sorely missed. Jones has stated that he is happy with his international career in retrospect, despite being tantalisingly close to a century of caps; he will reflect positively on ninety five caps for his country, five British & Irish Lions appearances, as well as three Welsh Grand Slams. New Zealandborn Anscombe brings versatility to
The implications of coming out in sport P35>>
the squad as he is competent at fullback, centre and fly-half. The Blues player is eligible through his mother and has been in fine form at Arms Park this season. Current Cardiﬀ University medic Hallam Amos, of the Newport Gwent Dragons, and 2013 graduate Jamie Roberts, of Racing Metro, also got the nod from Wales’ director of rugby. Leading the old and the new
Continued on page 33
City column: Fans restless as Slade rings the changes P35>>
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