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People in the U.K. may soon be able to test themselves for HIV at home, as became possible in the U.S. last year. The UK government said in August 2013 that the law would be changed to allow home testing, with the aim of reducing the number of people in the country who are unaware of their infection. HIV infected unawareness is estimated at 25,000 people and the new law aims to reduce this amount. [17/08/13 New Scientist p7]
Protect yourself from HIV.
Always use a Condom.
AFTER years of trying, the EU has finally put into effect a complete ban on the sale of cosmetics developed through animal testing.
The EU has progressively clamped down on animal testing since the 1990's and banned most such products in 2009, but it left a few exemptions for several toxicity tests which will now cease.
The ban applies to all products, wherever in the world they come from.
The European Commission has "thoroughly assessed the impacts of the marketing ban and considers that there are overriding reasons to implement it", it said in a statement on Monday.
"This is in line with what many European citizens believe firmly: that the development of cosmetics does not warrant animal testing."
EU Health Commissioner Tonia Borg said Brussels would continue "supporting the development of alternative methods and to engage with third countries to follow our European approach".
'Victory for bees' as Europe bans neonicotinoid pesticides blamed for destroying bee population
15 of the 27 member states voted for a two-year restriction on neonicotinoids despite opposition by countries including Britain
Environmentalists hailed a "victory for bees" today after the European Union voted for a ban on the nerve-agent pesticides blamed for the dramatic decline global bee populations.
Despite fierce lobbying by the chemicals industry and opposition by countries including Britain, 15 of the 27 member states voted for a two-year restriction on neonicotinoid insecticides. That gave the European Commission the support it needed to push through an EU-wide ban on using three neonicotinoids on crops attractive to bees.
Tonio Borg, the EC's top health official, said they planned to implement the landmark ban from December. "I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22bn annually to European agriculture, are protected," he said.
Britain was among eight nations which voted against the motion, despite a petition signed by 300,000 people presented to Downing Street last week by fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett. The Independent has also campaigned to save Britain's bee population.
Four nations abstained from the moratorium, which will restrict the use of imidacloprid and clothianidin, made by Germany's Bayer, and thiamethoxam, made by the Swiss company, Syngenta. The ban on use on flowering crops will remain in place throughout the EU for two years unless compelling scientific evidence to the contrary becomes available.
More than 30 separate scientific studies have found a link between the neonicotinoids, which attack insects' nerve systems, and falling bee numbers. The proposal by European Commission - the EU's legislative body - to ban the insecticides was based on a study by the European Food Safety Authority, which found in January that the pesticides did pose a risk to bees' health.
But the British government argued that the science was incomplete and said the ban could impact food production. Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, said that they wanted to wait for the results of more trials before committing to the Europe-wide policy. The UK will not, however, be able to opt out of the ban.
Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said: “Having a healthy bee population is a top priority for us, but we did not support the proposal for a ban because our scientific evidence doesn’t support it. Significant countries agree with us that a ban is not the right action to take and we will work with them to get much better evidence. We will now work with farmers to cope with the consequences as a ban will carry significant costs for them.”
Green groups hailed Monday's vote as a victory for science. "This decision is a significant victory for common sense and our beleaguered bee populations," said Andrew Pendleton of Friends of the Earth. Marco Contiero, EU agriculture policy director for Greenpeace, said the vote "makes it crystal clear that there is overwhelming scientific, political and public support for a ban.".
Syngenta, however, painted a different picture of the vote, with Luke Gibbs, head of corporate affairs in North Europe, saying the EC had failed again to convince all member states.
"The ban has been wrongly presented as a silver bullet for solving the bee health problem," he told The Independent. "The proposal is based on poor science and ignores a wealth of evidence from the field that these pesticides do not damage the health of bees. Instead of banning these products, the Commission should now take the opportunity to address the real reasons for bee health decline: disease, viruses and loss of habitat and nutrition."
The issue has fiercely divided the scientific community. Green groups and some scientists say the effects of the neonicotinoids are particularly devastating as the pesticide is applied to the seeds. That means it is present not only in the leaves which the insects eat, but also the pollen. Farmers, however, say the insecticides are vital to prevent crops being destroyed by pests including beetles and aphids.
Reaction from the scientists reflected this divide. Professor Lin Field, head of biological chemistry and crop protection at Rothamsted Research, said he feared the decision was based on "political lobbying" and could cause governments to overlook other factors contributing to declining bee numbers, such as climate change and viruses spread by mites.
But Dr Lynn Dicks, a research associate at the University of Cambridge, said that despite the contradictory studies, the EU was right to err on the side of caution. "This is a victory for the precautionary principle, which is supposed to underlie environmental regulation," she said.
Friends of the Earth: The Bee Cause - Get Your Bee Saver Kit
Shirley Peisley in the Centre Photo: Fairfax Archives
Shirley Peisley was 26 in 1967, when she pinned badges on the lapels of politicians in support of human rights and symbolic constitutional change.
Today, February 13, 2013.
Australia has moved one step closer to recognising its first people in the country's founding document after one of the federal parliament's rare and uplifting moments of unity between Julia Gillard (Prime Minister) and Tony Abbott (Leader of the Opposition).
Both leaders committed themselves to address what the Prime Minister called ''the unhealed wound that even now lies open at the heart of our national story'' and the Opposition Leader dubbed ''this stain on our soul''.
The passage through the House of Representatives of an Act of Recognition was met by applause from the public galleries and from indigenous leaders including Patrick Dodson and Lowitja O'Donoghue who had been invited to witness the moment from the floor of the house.
The legislation recognises the ''unique and special place'' of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples and is designed to give momentum for constitutional recognition after the September election. It passed the lower house on the fifth anniversary of the apology by former prime minister Kevin Rudd to the stolen generations.
''We must never feel guilt for the things already done in this nation's history, but we can – and must – feel responsibility for the things that remain undone,'' Ms Gillard told Parliament.
''No gesture speaks more deeply to the healing of our nation's fabric than amending our nation's founding charter.''
Speaking from hand-written notes, Mr Abbott told Parliament Australia was the envy of the world, except for the fact that ''we have never fully made peace with the first Australians''.
''We have to acknowledge, that pre-1788, this land was as Aboriginal then as it is Australian now, and until we have acknowledged that we will be an incomplete nation and a torn people,'' Mr Abbott said. ''We need to atone for the omissions and for the hardness of heart of our forbears to enable us all to embrace the future as a united people.''
Ms Gillard described the absence of recognition in the Constitution as ''the great Australian silence'' and expressed the hope that legislation for the referendum could pass in 2014.
Many of the politicians, including both leaders, wore badges carrying the letter ''R'' for recognition to signify support for the referendum.
Mr Abbott applauded former Labor prime minister Paul Keating's Redfern speech of 21 years ago and paid tribute to those on both sides of politics who played roles in progress toward recognition.
''So often in this place we are protagonists. Today, on this matter, we are partners and collaborators,'' he told Ms Gillard.
''So much of what happens here passes people by. Sometimes it even annoys them. May this be an occasion when the parliament lifts people's spirits, makes them feel more proud of our country, and more conscious of our potential to more often be our best selves.''
Despite the support for the Act of Recognition, question time was interrupted on Wednesday afternoon by a small group of protesters in the public gallery.
The indigenous Australians interrupted an answer Ms Gillard was giving on the national broadband network.
"You have been served!" they chanted, while throwing some sheets of paper on to the floor of the House of Representatives, protesting that they had not been included in the constitution.
Speaker Anna Burke briefly stopped proceedings in response.Originally, Labor planned to hold a referendum on constitutional recognition of indigenous people by 2013. Last year, the government decided to shelve the referendum for two or three years, blaming a lack of community awareness.
Both leaders acknowledged that the challenge of agreeing on the wording of the referendum remains, with Mr Abbott saying: ''It won't necessarily be straight forward to acknowledge the first Australians without creating new categories of discrimination which we must avoid because no Australians should feel like strangers in their own country.
''But I believe that we are equal to this task of completing our constitution rather than changing it. The next parliament will, I trust, finish the work that this one has begun.''
The National Congress of Australia's First Peoples welcomed the passage of the Act of Recognition, but said the hard yards in achieving substantive constitutional reform were just beginning.
''Today is the first test of multi-partisan leadership. Now all parties must continue to work together to achieve a referendum involving substantive reform not just symbolic recognition,'' said congress co-chair Jody Broun. ''Congress calls for constitutional reform that protects rights and prohibits discrimination.
''We now expect clear commitments from all sides of politics to a referendum timeframe and the concrete steps required to make it happen,'' she said.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/nations-wound-closer-to-being-healed-20130213-2ec4y.html#ixzz2KpDHZn6p
LONDON — The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly on Monday 5 February 2013, to approve a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Britain, indicating that the bill is assured of passage as it moves through further legislative stages.
After a six-hour debate, the Commons vote was 400 to 175 for the bill. The legislation, which applies to England and Wales, would permit civil marriage between same-sex couples, but specifically exempt the Church of England and other faiths from an obligation to perform such ceremonies. Some faith groups, including the Quakers, have said they want the legal right to perform same-sex marriages. Read more.. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/world/europe/britain-gay-marriage-vote.html?_r=0
A LARGE earthquake has been reported off the coast of Indonesia.
The US Geological Survey measured the quake at 7.1 on the Richter Scale. It says the quake struck offshore, with the epicentre 236km northwest of the city of Saumlaki. The quake was reported at a depth of 155km.
GeoScience Australia measured the tremor as 7.3 on the Richter scale.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre had no immediate tsunami warning.
There were no initial reports of damage to areas around the site in Indonesia.
The quake hit shortly before 4am AEDT today.
It woke up residents in Darwin with several taking to social media to report the tremor.
"Did you feel that earthquake too?" asked one on Facebook.
"Woke, me up .. the whole house was rocking," said another.
Territorians jumped on to the NT News Facebook to share their quake experiences, some even as it was happening.
"I'm on a 5th floor apartment and it woke me up," posted Kylie Nicholson from the CBD.
"I'm out on Croker Island... brought back memories of 2011 Christmas in Christchurch... scary," wrote Clare Schoeller.
"Oh my god, it sounded like a train," said Shelley Carter in suburban Jingili.
Indonesia is located in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.For more info http://earthchangesmedia.com/
Biodiversity is a great thing, ensuring that our ecosystems have the ability to function and prosper, even at times of extreme events and disease. In 2012, The scientific research crew of the French vessel Tara discovered significant amounts of plastic particles off the coast of Antarctica. Plastics have leaked their way into oceans as a result of human activity, and are having a murderous effect on marine life.