Monthly Archives: January 2013
Sorry folks I will not be making any posts in the period Feb.1 to Jan 9 inclusive as I am taking a little break for myself
Any bets on what is going to happen in this situation. I have a bad feeling this is leading in the direction of Johnny Citizen.
Will we have a special tax to pay off this installment?
However Mr Noonan said he was “still confident of a positive outcome” to negotiations with the ECB.
He referred to the negotiations as “pussyfooting” and said Ireland should be seeking a write-down of debt, not an extension of the term for paying it back.
Mr Doherty also asked for details of whether the ECB had rejected a proposal, if an alternative proposal would be ready for the next meeting of the ECB board; and what the Government would regard as a satisfactory outcome.
Mr Noonan said it would not be helpful to go into detail, and accused Sinn Féin of positioning itself to reject whatever deal was agreed.
He reiterated his expectation of a deal on the note in the coming weeks and said it was his belief that the Government will get a satisfactory arrangement by the 31 March deadline.
All great satirical cartoons are provocative, but not all provocative satirical cartoons are great.
Take Gerald Scarfe‘s latest scribble for the Sunday Times as an example. It has certainly provoked anger, with his depiction of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall with stricken Palestinians amongst the bricks, their blood used as cement.
Underneath the wall sits a caption: “Israeli elections: Will cementing peace continue?”
The takeaway message is that the re-election of Netanyahu in Israel will mean a continuation of his government’s policies towards Palestinian territories, one of which involves building an enormous wall at the West Bank‘s border.
Clearly Scarfe’s view is that Israeli government policy towards Palestinians is one of murderous violence, of death and bloodshed, and he has represented this in a cartoon which grossly oversimplifies a painfully complex situation in that troubled part of the Middle East.
As a consequence, Scarfe has had serious accusations dropped on him like bombs in an airstrike.
He has faced a torrent of rage for allegedly committing ‘blood libel’, making an image akin to that seen in Nazi propaganda, and insensitivity for having it published on Holocaust Memorial Day.
All this, yet the cartoon is so clearly not aimed at Jews. It is – and I repeat this for the avoidance of any doubt – directed at Israel’s government, or more specifically its political leader Netanyahu.
Even the Sunday Times, when responding to criticism, pointed out that this was was not targeting Jewish people.
“The Sunday Times firmly believes that it is not anti-semitic,” said a spokesman for the Jewish Chronicle.
“It is aimed squarely at Mr Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people. It appeared on Sunday because Mr Netanyahu won the Israeli election last week.”
A bloody disgrace?
Accepting that the cartoon’s target is politics, not race, leads to the inevitable conclusion that Scarfe was not anywhere near committing the offence known as blood libel.
Blood libels are representations of the vile anti-semitic myth that Jews use the blood of children in religious ceremonies and rituals, even cooking it into food.
It is a medieval belief, which perhaps explains why it is so common across sections of the Middle East, but is clearly not one being expressed in the yawnworthy cartoon.
There is no young child being slain by a revoltingly-caricatured Jew, with the blood being used in a warped religious ceremony.
While blood is used as the mortar in Netanyahu’s wall, this is obviously portraying a not uncommon view that Palestinian blood is being spilt by the policies of Israel’s government.
It is not a difficult distinction to understand.
Equally, Nazi propaganda attacked the Jews as a race – something Scarfe’s cartoon evidently does not do at all.
Again, when you comprehend that this cartoon was not an attack on Jewish people, you can dismiss the claim that it is an insensitive thing to publish on Holocaust Memorial Day.
A parallel can be drawn with the Danish cartoons that depicted the Prophet Mohammed, published in 2006 in a competition held by Jyllands-Posten, which sparked riots, fatwas, and assassination attempts in a characteristically measured reaction from Islamists.
Of the 12 cartoons, the image which caused the most froth to foam in the mad mullahs’ beards was one depicting Mohammed as having a bomb for a turban.
Much like Scarfe’s cartoon, this is a juvenile portrayal of a political situation, not especially clever or witty, which would suit the wall of a sixth form common room more than a page in a supposedly serious publication.
And, much like with Scarfe’s scrawl, it was incorrectly taken as a sweeping attack on a people, in this case every single follower of Islam. Sadly not just by the idiot clerics, but by Western leaders who masquerade as liberals, too.
Except it was not an attack on Islam. Anybody who can grasp nuance, which is apparently a dwindling number in the modern world of instant internet outrage, can comprehend that this was an attack on Islamism, a violent and tyrannical political interpretation of Islam which intelligently makes its argument by blowing people up and flying planes into buildings.
While the reaction to Scarfe has been much less extreme – there have been no fatalities yet – the censorial instinct is the same. Many, on the basis of a wrongful interpretation, would like to have seen Scarfe’s cartoon censored.
In fairness to those acutely sensitive to anti-semitism, Holocaust Memorial Day sets an understandable emotional context, as the indescribable horror suffered by those who lived under the Nazis – many of whom are still alive and bearing the scars of genocide – is brought to the fore of everybody’s mind.
More broadly, Israelis live in the centre of a region where neighbour states want to see them “wiped off the map” and where anti-semitism is the hallmark of populist politics.
For those of us in the West, the notion of a “Jewish conspiracy” is laughable, and confined to a world of paranoid keyboard warriors muttering on internet forums about the “truth” behind 9/11.
Here, this childlike view is held up to ridicule. In the Middle East, a Jewish conspiracy is the official line.
Still, even with that context in mind, it is clear as the Mediterranean Sea that this is not the starting point, or end destination, of Scarfe’s cartoon. Those attacking it, and him, for anti-semitism are missing the point.
They should be debating the risible politics of the cartoon, rather than foisting an unconnected meaning onto it.
A radical new solution to global warming has been suggested by scientists working at the University of Sevenoaks.
The idea is to pump thousands of gallons of factor fifty sun block into the upper atmosphere thus protecting the planet from sunburn.
Various governments are considering the idea and what it might cost to implement, but in theory they think it is a very clever idea.
Critics of the plan have argued that Planet Earth may develop a golden brown tan which may lead to racial unrest among the other planets, but this is difficult to prove.
It is estimated that if waterproof sunblock is used it should last about fifty years, by which time we’ll hopefully have lots of new gadgets to sort the problem out with.
The only side effect predicted by the Sevenoaks team is that the world’s atmosphere might take on a pleasant coconut odour which may upset sufferers of nut allergies.
Green campaigners who complain about the use of smashed baby orangutan baby brains in the manufacture of sunblock have promised to disrupt any attempts to implement the issue.
The connection between poor sleep, memory loss and brain deterioration as we grow older has been elusive. But for the first time, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found a link between these hallmark maladies of old age. Their discovery opens the door to boosting the quality of sleep in elderly people to improve memory.
Postdoctoral fellow, Bryce Mander, demonstrates how the sleep study was conducted.
UC Berkeley neuroscientists have found that the slow brain waves generated during the deep, restorative sleep we typically experience in youth play a key role in transporting memories from the hippocampus — which provides short-term storage for memories — to the prefrontal cortex’s longer term “hard drive.”
However, in older adults, memories may be getting stuck in the hippocampus due to the poor quality of deep ‘slow wave’ sleep, and are then overwritten by new memories, the findings suggest.
“What we have discovered is a dysfunctional pathway that helps explain the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption and memory loss as we get older — and with that, a potentially new treatment avenue,” said UC Berkeley sleep researcher Matthew Walker, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study to be published Jan. 27, in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The findings shed new light on some of the forgetfulness common to the elderly that includes difficulty remembering people’s names.
“When we are young, we have deep sleep that helps the brain store and retain new facts and information,” Walker said. “But as we get older, the quality of our sleep deteriorates and prevents those memories from being saved by the brain at night.”
Healthy adults typically spend one-quarter of the night in deep, non-rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. Slow waves are generated by the brain’s middle frontal lobe. Deterioration of this frontal region of the brain in elderly people is linked to their failure to generate deep sleep, the study found.
The discovery that slow waves in the frontal brain help strengthen memories paves the way for therapeutic treatments for memory loss in the elderly, such as transcranial direct current stimulation or pharmaceutical remedies. For example, in an earlier study, neuroscientists in Germany successfully used electrical stimulation of the brain in young adults to enhance deep sleep and doubled their overnight memory.
UC Berkeley researchers will be conducting a similar sleep-enhancing study in older adults to see if it will improve their overnight memory. “Can you jumpstart slow wave sleep and help people remember their lives and memories better? It’s an exciting possibility,” said Bryce Mander, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at UC Berkeley and lead author of this latest study.
For the UC Berkeley study, Mander and fellow researchers tested the memory of 18 healthy young adults (mostly in their 20s) and 15 healthy older adults (mostly in their 70s) after a full night’s sleep. Before going to bed, participants learned and were tested on 120 word sets that taxed their memories.
As they slept, an electroencephalographic (EEG) machine measured their brain wave activity. The next morning, they were tested again on the word pairs, but this time while undergoing functional and structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans.
In older adults, the results showed a clear link between the degree of brain deterioration in the middle frontal lobe and the severity of impaired “slow wave activity” during sleep. On average, the quality of their deep sleep was 75 percent lower than that of the younger participants, and their memory of the word pairs the next day was 55 percent worse.
Meanwhile, in younger adults, brain scans showed that deep sleep had efficiently helped to shift their memories from the short-term storage of the hippocampus to the long-term storage of the prefrontal cortex.
The research was funded by the National Institute of Aging of the National Institutes of Health.
24:31 “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves.”
24:58 “O ye who believe! Let your slaves, and those of you who have not come to puberty, ask leave of you at three times (before they come into your presence).”
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God….The Bible
…a God who could make good children as easily a bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave is angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell–mouths mercy, and invented hell–mouths Golden Rules and foregiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!
– No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger…Mark Twain
Satan hasn’t a single salaried helper; the Opposition employ a million.
– Mark Twain
Ireland take note
What are the chances of Fracking coming to Ireland? If the big boys want it I feel one hundred per cent sure the government will acquiesce to their demands with prodding from the IMF but no equal share for Ireland
A deal of equal shares!!! Suspect Shell are not telling the full story
A fifty year deal… I smell a rat
Under the $10bn deal that drew attention of the industry, Shell and Ukraine’s state-owned firm Nadra Yuzivska have equal shares in the enterprise, 50% each.
The latest deal is anticipated to help Ukraine increase its domestic gas production, create jobs, boost state budget revenue, and lift the economy.
Reuters noted that the 50-year contract is “the biggest contract yet to tap shale gas in Europe,” and added that the deal would help the country reduce its dependence on Russia for energy.
In May 2012, Shell had won the right to explore gas in Yuzivske gas field in Ukraine, while in August 2012, Shell along with ExxonMobil, Romanian OMV Petrom and Nadra have received joint rights to develop underwater deposits at Ukrainian deep marine shelf field under the Black Sea.
During World War II, the Soviet Union’s news agency, TASS, enlisted artists and writers to bolster support for the nation’s war effort. Working from Moscow, this studio produced hundreds of storefront window posters, one for nearly every day of the war.’
Internet users’ personal information on major ‘cloud’ storage services can be spied upon routinely by US authorities
If you thought cloud computing gave you anonymity, well think again.
All personal information stored by internet users on major “cloud” computing services including Google Drive can be spied upon routinely without their knowledge by US authorities under newly-approved legislation, it can be disclosed.
Cloud computing has exploded in recent years as a flexible, cheap way for individuals, companies and government bodies to remotely store documents and data. According to some estimates, 35 per cent of UK firms use some sort of cloud system – with Google Drive, Apple iCloud and Amazon Cloud Drive the major players.
But it has now emerged that all documents uploaded onto cloud systems based in the US or falling under Washington’s jurisdiction can be accessed and analysed without a warrant by American security agencies.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, allows US government agencies open access to any electronic information stored by non-American citizens by US-based companies. Quietly introduced during the dying days of President George W Bush’s administration in 2008, it was renewed over Christmas 2012.
But only now are privacy campaigners and legal experts waking up to the extent of the intrustion.
Caspar Bowden, who served as Chief Privacy Adviser to Microsoft Europe for nine years until 2011, told The Independent: “What this legislation means is that the US has been able to mine any foreign data in US Clouds since 2008, and nobody noticed.”
Significantly, bodies such as the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA can gain access to any information that potentially concerns US foreign policy for purely political reasons – with no need for any suspicion that national security is at stake – meaning that religious groups, campaigning organisations and journalists could be targeted.
The information can be intercepted and stored in bulk as it enters the US via undersea cables crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
Mr Bowden, who now works as an independent advocate for privacy rights and co-authored a report for the European Parliament warning of the threat to clouds posed by FISA, criticised the UK Information Commissioner’s Office for giving free rein to the US authorities.
The body which polices data protection laws in the UK effectively ruled that companies were right to pass information over to foreign government requests as the disclosure was made “in accordance with a legal requirement”, such as FISA.
Mr Bowden said: “Every time we make a bridge of trust, or commit an indiscretion, using a social network or webmail, think how a foreign country could use that information for its own purposes to influence policy and politics. Drafts of documents prepared online, who is in contact with each other, all of this can be captured and analysed using data-mining algorithms much more advanced than those offered by public search engines.”
His report, which is being considered by the EU in a review of its electronic privacy directive, cautioned that the threat of “heavy-calibre mass-surveillance fire-power aimed at the cloud” was greater than that posed by cyber-crime.
Gordon Nardell QC, a British barrister who specialises in data protection, said he was “shocked” by the powers outlined in the highly-controversial amendments to FISA.
He said: “What’s different about this is that it’s a power in the US authorities to insist on real-time collection of information by any data processer within US jurisdiction. The US authorities basically grab everything that is going in and out.”
Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch MEP who serves as vice chair of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, warned that European authorities must act as soon as possible.
Speaking to The Independent, she said:“Let’s turn this around and imagine this is not the United States having unlimited access to our data but the government of Mr Putin or the Chinese government – would we still wonder if it’s an urgent issue? Nobody would ask that question.”
Eric King of pressure group Privacy International, said: “Allowing mass surveillance, unwarranted and unaccountable, is terrifying.”
Isabella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty, said: “US surveillance ambitions know no bounds. The chilling US Foreign Intelligence Service Act treats all non-US citizens as enemy suspects.”
Last night a Google spokesperson said: “It is possible for the US government (and European governments) to access certain types of data via their law enforcement agencies. We think this kind of access to data merits serious discussion and more transparency.”
Amazon and Apple were yet to comment last night.
Ciara Quinn, a daughter of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn, has said she withdrew almost €340,000 from her Russian bank account via cash withdrawals from ATMs here in the space of a year, with most of that going to pay legal fees. She has no documents concerning those withdrawals or payments made from July 2011, she said.
Ms Quinn was also asked about an “extraordinary” series of withdrawals totalling €5,000 from her Ocean Bank account in Moscow, made via ATMs in Blanchardstown, Dublin, in less than 20 minutes on May 25th, 2012.
Shane Murphy SC, for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), asked about the purpose of withdrawals of €500 each at 16.08pm, 16.10pm and 16.11pm; of €600 each at 16.18pm and 16.19pm; €1,500 at 16.24pm; and €800 at 16.27pm.
Hugh Hartnett SC, for the Quinns, objected such questions strayed into issues to be addressed in the full hearing of the legal action by IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, against various Quinn family members and others alleging stripping of assets from the Quinns’ International Property Group (IPG).
As a mother of three aware the bank had alleged contempt against her, and that contempt can lead to jail, Ms Quinn said she was concerned about answering some questions.
Mr Murphy yesterday cross-examined Ciara and Brenda Quinn about claims they and other Quinn family members have not fully disclosed all information relating to their assets, accounts and involvement with companies in IPG. Colette Quinn’s cross-examination began late yesterday and continues today.
The Quinns insist they have disclosed all relevant documents available. The bank sought cross-examination before the full hearing of its “conspiracy” action.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday granted an application by Paul Anthony McDermott, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, to stay the full hearing of that action insofar as it touches on issues to be addressed in forthcoming criminal proceedings against former Anglo chairman Seán FitzPatrick and two former senior executives of the bank. Those issues included alleges breaches of Section 60 of the Companies Act, which makes it unlawful for a financial institution to lend money to buy its shares.
Various preliminary matters in the conspiracy case, including cross-examination of the Quinns, may continue in the interim.
While Ireland hums and haws over bank debt we learn from Transport Minister Leo Varadkar that “difficulties” remain in the talks with the ECB on refinancing the bailout, though he remains hopeful a solution will be found. I would guess that eventually a deal will be made that will be nothing more than a dressed up comical illusion.
So we are now refinancing the bailout, does this mean we pay double?
In the meantime we hear
Iceland’s refusal to repay depositors legal
Iceland was within its rights not to repay billions of euro to the United Kingdom and Dutch governments, who were forced to compensate depositors after an Icelandic bank collapsed at the height of the global financial crisis, a court has ruled.
The decision was taken by the court of the European Free Trade Association (Efta), which ruled that Iceland had not broken depositor protection laws by refusing to compensate people who had invested in Landsbanki’s Icesave online banking accounts.
What a shame the Government of Ireland lack the courage of of our friends in Iceland.
Why do the lack the courage …in simple terms the ECB says pay up or else…No more funding