EL is an English Literature with Creative Writing graduate from UEA. A feminist and a mental health advocate, she is interested in identity, trauma theory, and pop culture. EL was a member of The Norwich Radical’s writing team November 2015 – August 2017.
In The Question Concerning Technology, Heidegger argues that technology is a means to an end, and that technology is a human activity. The two are not mutually exclusive. Technology is a means to facilitate our lives, eliminating manual or tedious or repetitive tasks. We use technology for our human need of community, connecting to friends and family through social media, searching for partners on dating apps.
(30.03.17) – Sex Education in the UK
Content warning: mentions of rape and non-consensual touching.
British schoolchildren aged 11 and up who attend local authority-run schools will soon not be the only students whose schools are required to provide sexual education classes. Currently, sex ed is only compulsory for secondary schools that are run by their local authority. This is about to change.
On February 21st 2017, Ebola nurse Salome Karwah passed away due to childbirth complications. She was one of the Ebola fighters who were named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2014 for their tireless push to save lives and prevent the spread of the virus.
(02.02.17) – No Ban No Walls
(Content warning for the Holocaust, antisemitism, ethnic cleansing, xenophobia, and islamophobia)
January 27th 2017. Holocaust Remembrance Day. Released by one Mr Trump on behalf of the White House, this statement: “It is with a heavy heart and sombre mind that we remember and honour the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror (…) Together we will make love and tolerance prevalent around the world.”
Is this statement missing something? Ah, yes, perhaps a specific and explicit mention of the six million Jewish people who were the victims of Hitler’s final solution.
(05.01.17) – Saving Lives: New Organ Donor Legislation In France
As of the 1st of January 2017, every French citizen is automatically on the organ and skin graft donor list, following a government vote to change donor legislation in August. The EU estimates 86,000 people are waiting for suitable organ donations, and that 16 of these people die each day. When celebrating the European Day for Organ Donation on September 9th, the Council of Europe highlighted the issue of a lack of organ donors. One person agreeing to become an organ donor can save up to seven lives. As it is easier to automatically sign people up as organ donors rather than running low-response information and appeal campaigns, this fantastic initiative expects to save a record number of lives in France. Under the new legislation, if a French citizen does not wish to become a donor for personal or religious reasons, they can opt out through a simple online application.
(12.12.16) – Dropping Post-Truth Bombs
“Post-truth” has topped the Online Oxford Dictionary’s list as word of the year. Defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” First used in 1992 by Serbian-American author Steve Tesich in an essay about Iran-Contra and the Persian Gulf war, “post-truth” has seen a surge in searches in the online. Unsurprisingly, given this year’s historic political votes in both the USA and the UK, it was the most-searched term on both sides of the pond. Oxford Dictionaries President Casper Grathwohl commented by saying “I wouldn’t be surprised if post-truth becomes one of the defining words of our times.”
2016 is nearing its end, and boy has it been a traumatic year.
We have seen a wave of well-loved personalities pass away, experienced the racist and economic after-shocks of the British Brexit Referendum results and witnessed terrorist attacks in Beirut, Bagdad, Brussels and Nice to name a few. We’ve continued to struggle with refugee crises all over the world and been submitted to the ignorant, irresponsible and incomprehensible rhetoric coming out of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
As winter starts to make itself known, I would like to change the narrative by reviewing some of the positive things that have come out of this year. I assure you, there have been some! Here are 5 amazing moments from 2016, ranging from scientific breakthroughs, to environmental advancements, to comforting examples of the sheer force of human willpower to create a better world.
Back in September, Canada approved drug legislation allowing all Canadian physicians to apply to Health Canada for a special-access programme to prescribe pharmaceutical heroin to their patients.
(25.09.16) – 3 Tips For Ethical Tourism
When travelling to a new place you know to anticipate that things are not the same as at home— and you will discover in which way quickly enough. This could mean hearing a new language, covering your head and shoulders when entering a place of worship, or drinking a different type of coffee. You may learn to point your feet away from the statue of the Buddha, eat with a fork and spoon, greet people with a kiss on the cheek, or even expect incoming traffic on a different side of the road. Keeping in mind all the differing customs helps to properly respect the historical, spiritual and cultural significance of landmarks, locations, or places of faith.
(12.05.16) – Anonymous Can’t Hack Black Lives Matter
Ghost Squad, a branch of the hacktivist group Anonymous, targeted official Black Lives Matter (BLM) websiteswww.blacklifematters.org and www.blacklivesmatter.com between the 29th and 30th of April. Using a technique called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), which consists in persistent and repetitive HTTP requests to crash a server, Ghost Squad shut down both websites temporarily.
John Ehrlichman, an aide to President Richard Nixon, has confirmed what black activists and drug policy reformists have known for decades: the War on Drugs is not only a failure, but it is also a racist and controlling political tool.
2015 was a turning point in French security. After the attack of the 7th of January on the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and the multiple coordinated attacks in Parisian public spaces on the 13th of November, French President François Hollande decided to retaliate with a hardline approach, including a joint operation with the US forces of 20 airstrikes on the town of Raqqa in Syria.
After the November Paris attacks, President Hollande declared France in a state of emergency for three months. Those three months are soon coming to an end, and he plans to prolonge this measure when it runs out on the 26th of February. The state of emergency permits officials and police officers to raid houses and impose house arrests of suspected terrorists without passing first through the court. It is clear that this problem is ongoing. In the newspaper Le Figaro, a government report is cited stating that the number of radicalised individuals reported to authorities doubled since April 2015.
(08.01.16) – Adults May Soon Be Allowed to Self Define Gender
A report due to be released this month by the Common’s Women and Equalities Committee may prove to be a great step forward in terms of legal rights for the transgender community in the UK. Official existing acts that protect transgender people are the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, in which changing one’s gender became legally recognised, and the 2010 Equality Act which prohibits transphobic discrimination. These two acts have proven insufficient, and to address current issues, one of the Committee’s tasks is to assess and research improvements that need to be made to achieve greater transgender equality. Conservative MP Maria Miller, who chairs the committee, has stated that “as a society and a government we should be looking at ways of trying to strip back talking about gender… We need to understand that gender stereotyping can be as damaging for men as it can be for women.”
(10.12.15) – Is AA the Only Way?
The meeting of the surgeon Dr. Bob S. and stockbroker Bill W., both hopeless alcoholics and members of the Episcopal Oxford Group, proved to be a turning point in the history addiction treatment. They built on the Oxford Group’s evangelistic Christian values with the added formulation that alcoholism was not simply a moral failing, as American society considered it, but a physical and spiritual malady. They broke away from the Oxford Group, creating the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s and starting up a regular meeting. Their vision differed from the Oxford Group in that it stressed that addiction is incurable.
Groups popped up all over the country, and today you can find AA meetings everyday in most cities in community centres and churches, in prisons. Specific groups are male or female-only meetings, homosexual-only meetings, and AlAnon meetings are open for friends and family members of alcoholics. Programmes following the same format also exist, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous… AA and NA are such an institution that Stateside, to reduce a DUI, many people who do not consider themselves alcoholics attend court-mandated meetings, receiving, in AA speak, “a nudge from the judge.”
Between 2010 and 2015, budget cuts to mental health trusts in England have seen a decrease of 8%. Statistics reported by BBC News and Community Care revealed this meant almost £600m less funding despite a 20% rise of referrals to community mental health teams. Social worker Terry Skyrme works in a crisis team functioning in Norfolk and Suffolk. In 2014, he decided to start a campaign to improve services in the area, booking a room for 100 people, and seeing 300 turn up. With not enough hospital beds available, some people suffering from acute mental health distress are instead made to sleep in prison cells.
Sleeping in a prison cell is an unsettling image of social exclusion that comes with suffering from these often invisible illnesses. Yet, the mental health charity Mind estimates 1 in 4 people will suffer with a mental health issue in their life. With 50 million prescriptions being written for antidepressants in the UK each year, sufferers come from all parts of our communities.
The average uterus-owning person bleeds about five days a month from the age of 12 to 50. Considering this, sanitary products are undeniably essential health items. Pads, tampons and menstrual cups are taxed 5% in the UK, thus classifying them as non-essential, luxury items. According to that classification, some ridiculous examples of “essential” items are Jaffa Cakes and crocodile meat, exempt from VAT.