Thursday, July 31, 2008
Earthquake Facts: (Excerpt)
- The largest recorded earthquake in the United States was a magnitude 9.2 that struck Prince William Sound, Alaska on Good Friday, March 28, 1964 UTC.
- The largest recorded earthquake in the world was a magnitude 9.5 (Mw) in Chile on May 22, 1960.
- The earliest reported earthquake in California was felt in 1769 by the exploring expedition of Gaspar de Portola while the group was camping about 48 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Los Angeles.
- Before electronics allowed recordings of large earthquakes, scientists built large spring-pendulum seismometers in an attempt to record the long-period motion produced by such quakes. The largest one weighed about 15 tons. There is a medium-sized one three stories high in Mexico City that is still in operation.
- The average rate of motion across the San Andreas Fault Zone during the past 3 million years is 56 mm/yr (2 in/yr). This is about the same rate at which your fingernails grow. Assuming this rate continues, scientists project that Los Angeles and San Francisco will be adjacent to one another in approximately 15 million years.
- The East African Rift System is a 50-60 km (31-37 miles) wide zone of active volcanics and faulting that extends north-south in eastern Africa for more than 3000 km (1864 miles) from Ethiopia in the north to Zambezi in the south. It is a rare example of an active continental rift zone, where a continental plate is attempting to split into two plates which are moving away from one another.
- The first "pendulum seismoscope" to measure the shaking of the ground during an earthquake was developed in 1751, and it wasn't until 1855 that faults were recognized as the source of earthquakes.
- Moonquakes ("earthquakes" on the moon) do occur, but they happen less frequently and have smaller magnitudes than earthquakes on the Earth. It appears they are related to the tidal stresses associated with the varying distance between the Earth and Moon. They also occur at great depth, about halfway between the surface and the center of the moon.
- Although both are sea waves, a tsunami and a tidal wave are two different unrelated phenomenona. A tidal wave is a shallow water wave caused by the gravitational interactions between the Sun, Moon, and Earth. A tsunami is a sea wave caused by an underwater earthquake or landslide (usually triggered by an earthquake) displacing the ocean water
- Each year the southern California area has about 10,000 earthquakes. Most of them are so small that they are not felt. Only several hundred are greater than magnitude 3.0, and only about 15-20 are greater than magnitude 4.0. If there is a large earthquake, however, the aftershock sequence will produce many more earthquakes of all magnitudes for many months.
- Alaska is the most earthquake-prone state and one of the most seismically active regions in the world. Alaska experiences a magnitude 7 earthquake almost every year, and a magnitude 8 or greater earthquake on average every 14 years.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
"I always look at us as being the Brazil of hurling. We keep producing the most skillfull, naturally talented players. We are admired and envied from afar. We can win things with average teams by our own standards because we know how to win. We have more titles than anyone(relax Cork people!!). Whereas the blaahs always remind me a bit of England. They wear white shirts. Their supporters are a bunch of yobs. They last won the big one over 40 years ago(actually longer!!) They seem to think their players are the best around. They lose a lot of semi finals._________________I've argued before every judge in the state...often as a lawyer! Don't worry, Mister Simpson! I saw Matlock in a bar last night. The sound wasn't on, but I think I got the gist of it."
Irish proponents of the WTO proposals arrogantly dismissed their overall potential negative influences on the Irish economy. Opponents of the WTO proposals were painted as unpatriotic and representative of selfish agricultural interests.
Some big business interests in Ireland claimed to have concern for the poor of the Third World. Of course they were prepared to wrap themselves in a cloak of concern for the poor in an effort to convince a cynical Irish public of the merits of the WTO proposals.
Concessions made by Peter Mandelson at the WTO talks would have put 50,000 farmers out of business and wiped out at least another 50,000 jobs in food processing and services to the agricultural sector in Ireland alone. Agricultural proposals at the WTO would have benefited large ranchers in Australia, Brazil and the US. There were few if any benefits for the poor farmers of the Third World.
The loss in jobs to the Irish economy and devastation of rural Ireland would have far outweighed any potential gains in some industrial and service sectors. Indeed some Irish service jobs are now moving to India-such as Hibernian Insurance. So much for the security of service jobs in the financial sector.
The 100,000 jobs that Ireland stood to lose are based on indigenous natural resources.
We have had too much of the live horse and you will get grass approach-too many half-baked promises. To sacrifice 100,000 jobs would be economic lunacy.
Thankfully Nicolas Sarkozy galvanised opposition to the proposals. Ireland now owes him a huge debt of gratitude.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
This week RTÉ.ie, in association with the Simon Cumbers Media Challenge Fund, is presenting a special three part series about technology in the developing world.
This is part two of the series. Here RTÉ.ie News Editor Joe Zefran takes you to India to learn about the Hole in the Wall project which believes collective learning using a village computer can close the education gap for children around the world.
The full series covers India, Rwanda and Kenya where three programmes, including the Irish charity Camara, are using three very different approaches to achieve the same goal: educating the world's youngest citizens. It is compulsive viewing.
The full series is viewable here.
This has got the inevitable response at local level especially here in Co. Waterford where irate callers and texters to WLR (Waterford local radio) vented their spleen. No doubt this should push up newspaper sales for the Independent. Certainly there must be accountability for all public expenditure. In this respect the article serves a useful function. However this is not the full story.
I am no apologist for councillors. Undoubtedly some under perform but in general most are very hard working. They have no fixed hours.
The general public expects a good service twenty- four hours a day. People have become more and more demanding and impatient. Consequently many councillors work excessive hours. Much of the work is hidden and not evident to most voters. They are generally closer to the electorate than TDs. The first recourse for help is usually to the county or city councillor and not to the TD. Indeed it is not unusual for county councillors to displace sitting TDs in General Elections. This proves conclusively that these councillors have been effective at local level.
Expenses are not payment. They are incurred for necessary council work such as telephone use, transport et al. Surely we cannot expect councillors to be out of pocket. Mayors incur huge expenses. They must be reimbursed for these.
I think that it is most unfair to lump expenses and salary together. It gives the impression that local public representatives are grossly overpaid.
If we require representation at local authority level we must be prepared to pay for it.
In general in this time of recession it is incumbent on councillors to cut back on the number of conferences attended. These should be dropped from schedules unless absolutely necessary. Some worthwhile savings could be made here.
This caveat aside I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the overwhelming majority of local authority representatives.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Waterford defeated Wexford in this exciting game played at Semple Stadium today by 2-19 to 3-15.
The game had some excellent passages of hurling and in fairness Wexford probably deserved a draw.
Once more Eoin Kelly, Eoin McGrath and John Mullane were Waterfords outstanding forwards. Today we saw small glimpses of the Dan Shanahan of old. He scored 1-1 and was far more involved in the play. However he is not at full throttle yet.
The Waterford forward line is not functioning fully as a unit.
More combined play, ground hurling and diagonal balls are an essential prerequisite for the Semi Final against Tipperary. In addition the half forwards must continuously harry the Tipperary defenders who are clearing ball. This involves 70 minutes of concentration. As a Waterford forward carries the ball towards the Tipperary goal others must run off the ball and be prepared to take a pass a la Ben O’Connor, Gerry O’Connor or Cathal Naughton for Cork
Brick Walsh struck a lot of good ball at centre field. Jamie Nagle is improving from game to game and struck a beautiful point.
Unfortunately Waterford has major defensive problems. Ideally Ken McGrath is a centre back. However I think that Davy Fitzgerald has no option but to play Ken at full back.
The Waterford defence plays too much loose hurling. Backs are too prone to ball watching. They must man mark. It was noticeable today that Wexford forwards continuously roamed the field without being picked up. Each back is responsible for the man he is marking. His function is to prevent the forward from scoring.
Today the Waterford backs were caught flat-footed by diagonal balls. Loose Wexford forwards picked up soft scores. Each defender must pick up an opposing forward and mark tightly. Once more this demands concentration.
Players such as Rory Jacob and Stephen Doyle got too much room today and nearly snatched the game for Wexford.
The looseness was not confined to the full back line. It also extended to the half back line.
This problem has dogged Waterford for the last five years and has probably cost the county an All Ireland.
Failure of the backs to tighten up will result in a hammering by Tipperary. Tipperary forwards play with blinding speed and skill. Backs should not be afraid to use the shoulder once it is not into the opponent’s chest. Each back must continuously ask himself the question: Where is the player I am supposed to be marking?
Tipperary followers-after Waterford’s performance today- are now speaking in terms of their opponents in the All Ireland final. They fancy themselves against either Cork or Kilkenny.
Davy Fitzgerald and his backroom staff have done well to revive this Waterford team which had a poor National League campaign and which performed very poorly against Clare in the Munster Championship.
Notwithstanding Waterford’s sluggishness the team is now in the semi-finals. After the debacle against Clare few supporters could have hoped for as much.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Irish apologists for a sell out quote press releases on farm incomes from Teagasc (The Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority). Even in the worst years for Irish farming Teagasc comes out with a positive spin in relation to Irish farming incomes. Teagasc figures tell half the story. Where for instance is there a reference to rocketing costs? Interest rates, electricity, gas and diesel prices have spiralled out of control. Farm maintenance, insurance and building costs are prohibitive. Government/EU imposed regulation hinder agriculture. Many farmers can no longer afford to purchase fertilizers. That is the reality. It is not spin.
Academics such as Alan Matthews seek to explain away the negative effects of any WTO deal. Matthews needs to get out of his academic ivory tower. His livelihood is not on the line. Irish supporters of the putative WTO deal make references to EU farm subsidies. They conveniently omit to state that these subsidies are paid as a quid pro quo for production cuts. And now Mandelson is supporting more EU agricultural production cuts.
The IFA assessment of the loss of 100,000 jobs is correct. Not alone will many thousands of farmers go out of business, but thousands of jobs in food processing and other spin off industries will go. Rural Ireland will become a desert. Those 100,000 jobs exist at present. So why should we should throw them away for half baked promises of service jobs that we may secure in the future on the back of a new WTO agreement. It is time to get real. Mandelson wiped out the sugar beet industry. Dairying, beef, poultry will now go the same way.
Academics such as Matthews and certain business elements are prepared to throw away food security for cheaper food imports that often lack traceability. No mention of the health of consumers. The majority of Third World farmers will gain nothing from the proposed WTO deal. The ranchers in the US, Brazil and Australia will benefit. Meanwhile the US increases its subsidies to a handful of ranchers whilst EU farmers will be put out of business.
There is no guarantee that Ireland will continue to increase its service employment on the back of a revised WTO deal. Much of this-within the next 10 years-will start moving to countries such as India. Also there is a strong likelihood that the 12.5% Corporation Profits Tax will be neutered by the EU. I say hold what jobs we actually have. These farming jobs are based on our natural resources. An Irish failure to veto Mandelson's proposals -as currently constituted -would be the ultimate in political folly. Prior to the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty Brian Cowen promised Padraig Walshe of the IFA that he would use the veto if necessary. It is time for the VETO.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Why should this be so surprising? Obama is on the left wing of the Democratic Party.
He favours higher spending and taxes and greater state involvement in citizens lives.
These are the trademarks of a European Socialist. European Socialists naturally applaud one of their own.
Berlin is a left wing bastion as the following figures attest:
The Berlin State Election was held in 2006 to elect members to the Abgeordnetenhaus (House of Deputies) of Berlin
- The Social Democrats (Socialists) secured 30.8% of the vote
- The Left Party (mainly ex Communists) secured 13.4% of the vote.
- Alliance 90/Greens secured 13.1% of the vote.
- Labour and Social Justice Party secured 2.9% of the vote
- The Grays secured 3.8% of the vote.
So the Left secured 63.9% of the vote in Berlin or 883,492 votes.
All in all no surprise that Obama secured a large turn out and a big welcome.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
In 1993, John McCain and his wife, Cindy, adopted a little girl from Mother Teresa's orphanage in Bangladesh. This child was dying from a number of health complications.
That child is their teenage daughter Bridget.
However they also brought back another little girl as well. She was adopted by one of McCain's aides Wes Gullett.
The McCains have never trumpeted their sacrifices.
As President, John McCain has promised “to seek ways to promote adoption as a first option for women struggling with a crisis pregnancy. In the past, he cosponsored legislation to prohibit discrimination against families with adopted children, to provide adoption education, and to permit tax deductions for qualified adoption expenses, as well as to remove barriers to interracial and inter-ethnic adoptions”.
Barack Obama on the other hand is even more pro-abortion than Bill Clinton. When he was in the state legislature, Obama voted against the Illinois version of the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act and spoke out against it. This would prevent the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. He helped to scuttle the measure.
With Obama no longer in the state Senate, the Born Alive legislation passed in 2005.
Recently he stated that he would not want his daughters to be "punished with a baby" because of a crisis pregnancy. As far as Obama is concerned the innocent unborn child in the womb has no rights. God does not enter into the equation.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
He said "Increasingly, concerns have been raised by local authorities and the general public about the proliferation of posters, their use in unsuitable locations, and the failure to remove posters, including poster ties, within the statutory seven-day period".
Sometimes the plastic ties used to put up the posters remain in place even if the poster itself is removed. However this is not a major problem. In general parties and individuals remove posters quite promptly. This was not the case in the 1980s and 1990s.
Posters are an integral part of the Irish electoral scene for generations. They are part of our electoral tradition. They are an essential prerequisite for candidates as they promote name and party recognition. They also help to create an election atmosphere. Now Mr Gormley in a puritanical streak wishes to stymie parties efforts to promote their candidates. Is Mr Gormley a killjoy? Undoubtedly he is also partly motivated by envy-envy of the larger parties. This is another example of political correctness gone mad.
Election posters are of little concern to the electorate at present. However rising unemployment, inflation, the housing crisis,crime, threats to Irish farming and fishing are the major issues, which concern voters. Perhaps the Minister might like to concern himself with these.
Mr Gormley's approach smacks of the nanny state in action. He even wishes to allocate further powers to local authorities to tackle this minor issue. The Irish people are sick and tired of more and more regulation emanating from Government sources and from the EU.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
- €4 billion per annum loss to the Irish economy
- 50,000 farmers put out of business
- 50,000 job losses in food processing and agricultural services
- Beef prices of €2/Kg (70p/lb)
- 1 million suckler cows slaughtered
- Milk prices of 24c/litre
- Sheep industry decimated by imports from New Zealand and Australia
- Damaging losses in pigs poultry and grain
- WTO has wiped out the sugar beet industry
As these statistics indicate Mandelson's concessions at the WTO will destroy rural Ireland and seriously damage the Irish economy. It is time for the Irish Government to use the veto. The Government must not fudge the issue. Failure to block the Mandelson proposals will result in the destruction of Fianna Fail in rural Ireland. Brian Cowen promised to use the veto if necessary in the run up to the Lisbon Treaty referendum.
The arrogant Mandelson has continued to plough ahead oblivious to the needs of the Irish economy. Put manners on him. Use the nuclear option.
"Like most viruses, the ones that cause flu are sneaky little things armed with an amazing ability to rapidly change their spots—that is, the viral molecules that launch a seek-and-destroy response from the human immune system. In the case of avian or "bird flu," new strains are popping up all the time and rendering old medicines and vaccines practically useless, which is seriously bad news if you're trying to prevent a possible world-wide epidemic.
This is a very funny clip satirising the rip off of the consumer at the pumps. It has a strong message.
The line-up of the Times Showband comprised Jimmy Swarbrigg (Vocals), Tommy Swarbrigg (Trumpet), Joey Gilheaney (Trombone), Jimmy Horan (Bass), Des Doherty (Keyboards), Gene Bannon (Sax), Sean Kenny (Lead Guitar) and Donal Aughey (Drums).
This song dates from the 1970s.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Today Nicolas Sarkozy visited Ireland ostensibly to ascertain the reasons for the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. In reality he was testing the waters in relation to a second referendum. It was a cosmetic exercise which was designed to varnish his push for a second vote with a lick of consultation. His comments to a party meeting last week - that Ireland would have to vote again- angered NO campaigners and a sizeable proportion of the Irish electorate. His utterances smacked of arrogance.
Apparently he now has a better understanding of the reasons for the NO vote.
NO campaigners such as Declan Ganley and Patricia McKenna took a very hard line with him.
Even YES supporters such as Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore outlined clearly that this imbroglio cannot be resolved quickly. Enda Kenny stated that a second referendum prior to the European Elections would not lead to a clear-cut result.
Apparently Brian Cowen explained the difficulties in rushing into a second referendum. He spoke about analysis and consultation. Mr Cowen also stressed our solidarity with other EU member states and emphasized the desire to secure a resolution to the impasse which would satisfy all 27 members.
So Sarkozy has been appraised of Irelands difficulties with the Lisbon Treaty. The question arises as to whether he will take these on board or not.
As a first step Peter Mandelson should be reined in. The Commissioner for External Trade is prepared to sell out EU farmers to secure a deal at the WTO negotiations. This arrogant individual is not amenable to reasoned argument from farmers. EU food security is to be jettisoned. Similarly he is prepared to accept that the EU will be flooded with cheap food, often lacking traceability. He is prepared to wipe out Irish agriculture. 50,000 farmers are likely to go out of business and another 50,000 will lose their jobs in spin off industry-if Mandelson succeeds. He behaves like a dictator. He personalises all that is wrong with the Commission. He resembles a Czar speaking down to his subjects.
If Mandelson persists with his current approach, a rebellion by the rural electorate will dwarf the previous rebellion in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. (Are you listening Mr Sarkozy?) Who controls Mandelson? To whom is he accountable?
The Commission is undemocratic and lacks accountability. It must be reformed. That is the wish of the overwhelming majority of EU voters. Today Sarkozy made the startling admission to Declan Ganley that if a second referendum were held in France, it would be defeated.
The threat to Irelands 12.5% Corporation Profits Tax is real. It comes from countries such as France and Germany. This is a major issue for employers and employees and has the potential to wipe out large segments of Irish industry. Sarkozy favours harmonisation of tax rates. That is the reality.
Many coastal communities face extinction as Irish fish stocks are plundered by trawlers from other EU countries.
Rural Post Offices are closing due mainly to the liberalisation of postal services by the EU Commission. Often the local postman is the only visitor to elderly isolated rural dwellers. Thanks to the EU Commission this is disappearing.
In addition abortion and neutrality are other major issues, which must be resolved to the satisfaction of the electorate.
Verbal commitments on all of the major issues are insufficient. Watertight guarantees are a sine qua non.
Somehow I suspect that Sarkozy is not listening. Waffle and charm mixed with the stick and carrot is not sufficient. It is highly unlikely that the impasse between Ireland and the EU will be resolved during the French Presidency. 90% of the Irish electorate is pro EU. Hopefully Mr Sarkozy will not turn us into a race of Eurosceptics with unhelpful comments. Show us the colour of your money Mr Sarkozy.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Offaly backboned by u-21s is a team on the rise. Offaly players in general displayed high skill levels with excellent blocking, hooking and some deft flicks. They tackled furiously and at times knocked Waterford players out of their stride. However some needless frees were conceded. Nevertheless J Bergin, D Currams, S Dooley, D Molloy and D Kenny amongst others are players for the future. Offaly manager Joe Dooley has put in place firm foundations.
What of Waterford? The performance was like the curate's egg good in places and bad in places.
Looking at it positively the full back line did not concede any goals. However the half back line has its problems. In general the back line is not watertight enough and tighter marking is required. Loose Offaly players were noticeable throughout the game.
There were stellar performances from Eoin Kelly and John Mullane in the forward line. Eoin Kelly contributed 2-13 (0-9 from placed balls). The forward line is not functioning as a unit. Seamus Prendergast and Dan Shanahan may not be fully fit. Both had injury problems. Movement off the ball and support play is not as it should be for an effective forward line. To a certain extent some players are inclined to overplay the ball. On drier grounds more ground hurling is essential against teams such-as Wexford-which favour continuous picking of the ball. In addition it speeds up the game.
It was noticeable that on a couple of occasions the Offaly goalkeeper caught the Waterford forwards off guard and took a short puck out to a defender.
Some Waterford players need to speed up their striking. They are too easily hooked and blocked down.
Wexford will enter the quarter-final game against Waterford as firm favourites. I suspect that Waterford Manager Davy Fitzgerald will not be too unhappy with this state of affairs.
The rules, in effect until September 20, ban cars with odd- and even-numbered licence plates from the roads on alternate days.
They are part of a wider drive to clear the air in Beijing, which is one of the world's most polluted cities and is regularly enveloped in an acrid smog- a product of humidity, traffic and industrial pollution. So bad is the situation that the New Zealand Olympic team will wear carbon filter masks around the Olympic village to help them cope with the pollution.
After September 20th it is back to normal as an estimated extra 1.65 million cars will go back on the streets of Beijing. Obviously the health of the 17 million inhabitants is of secondary importance. Failure to tackle this problem on a permanent basis will result in catastropic health problems in the future for a large proportion of the population. The financial implications will be horrendous as authorities struggle to wrestle with the consequences.
For the duration of the Olympics it is much more important to showcase the Communist system and enforce higher environmental standards. In the aftermath of the Olympics many of these standards will be dispensed with.
Beijing faces an environmental Armageddon unless the authorities plot a new and radical environmental course. Beijing is not an isolated case. It is believed that 99% of the inhabitants of large urban centres in China breathe in unsafe air. In addition most of the rivers and lakes are seriously polluted whilst 37% of the Chinese land area suffers from soil erosion.
Friday, July 18, 2008
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander
A person’s mouth often broke his nose
You can’t put an old head on young shoulders
You can bring a horse to the water but you can’t make him drink
An idle man tempts the devil.
Time and tide doth wait for no man
Many is the man who has reared another man's child
Seldom is wonderful
The proof of the pudding is in the eating
Live, horse, and you will get grass
Hunger is a good sauce
Eaten bread is soon forgotten
Love many, trust few and always paddle your own canoe.
A windy day is not a day for thatching
Far off hills are green
The wheel turns full circle
Marriage is not a word. It is a sentence-a life sentence
There are four Rings associated with marriage: The Engagement Ring, The Wedding Ring, The Suffe-Ring and The Endu-Ring
As obsolescent as the California Condor
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Click to enlarge images:
[Source: European Space Agency]
Below is an excerpt from the Guardian:
"The trial at Strangford Lough, in Northern Ireland, uses a device called SeaGen and generates power at 150kW. However, engineers have plans to increase power to 300kW by the end of the summer. When it is eventually running at full power SeaGen will have an output of 1,200 kW, enough for about 1,000 homes.............
"The best way to think of it is an underwater windmill," said Martin Wright, managing director of MCT. "There are big masses of water moving on the Earth's surface as a result of the gravitational attraction of the moon. Therefore you have streams occurring where you have accelerated flow."
Tidal generators harvest the energy of these moving streams with the added advantage that the resource is, unlike wind, predictable........."
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I would suggest that the learned gentlemen of the ESRI should get out of their academic ivory tower.They are insulated from reality. Pronouncements from this body are treated as gospel. To question its findings is a form of sacrilege. Well the time has come to bin some of its suggestions.
With sky rocketing oil prices on the world market, huge petrol and diesel price rises have fed through to industry and the consumer. This is a carbon tax in action. Farming,fishing,transport and industrial sectors of the Irish economy are in dire straits. Unemployment has risen sharply.The ESB has announced a 17.5% price rise in electricity for August 1st. with another hike due in January 08. Huge gas price rises are in the pipeline. These will cripple consumers and the productive sector.
The ESRI claim-that an EU wide carbon tax would not leave Irish industry and agriculture at a disadvantage to the other EU countries-indicates the limited nature of the Institute’s thinking. Irish industry and agriculture compete on a world wide basis and not just on an EU basis. Meanwhile countries such as India,China,Russia plough ahead with a massive expansion in the generation of electricity using fossil fuels. Their Governments have no intention of cutting back on the use of fossil fuels.
We already have carbon taxes in operation in Ireland at present. Enough is enough. Any weakening in the value of the Euro would further exacerbate the situation. It is time for the learned gentlemen of the ESRI to come up with something practical for a change. Theoretical models will not put bread and butter on the table.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Today has seen another hike in school transport charges. Fine Gael School Transport Spokesman, Frank Feighan TD, said that today's announcement coupled with an increase just four months ago at Easter means that school transport charges have risen by 70% in four months. His statement goes on to say:
"Just last Easter, school transport charges increased from €33 to €46 per term for students in the junior cycle and from €51 to €71 per term for students in the senior cycle. Today's increase showed charges increasing further to €56 and €78 respectively. This represents massive increases of 53% and 70%.
"That school charges have been hiked by these huge amounts highlights just how little regard there is for the financial strain such a massive increase will put on families.
"Obviously, with increases in the cost of providing school transport - including fuel prices - and charges being held constant over a period of time, there may very well be a need to increase charges. However, 70% increases seem excessive and I would like to know how Minster Batt O'Keeffe can justify such a massive hike in just four months considering that rising prices will not account for such huge rises in such a short period of time."
If you are true to yourself
If you love
with your whole heart...
If you stand by your dreams...
And rise through change with a strong and true character...
If you keep an open mind to new ideas...
And believe whole heartedly in your convictions...
If you see mistakes as lessons
And setbacks as challenges...
If you tackle mountains...
If you live with integrity...
You can never fail
Follow your dreams.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Residents from 20 houses at the Mills in Lismore Co. Waterford were evacuated as a precautionary measure when fire broke out around 11pm last night at the disused Sam Shire recycling plant.The building was totally destroyed. Many more families were ordered to keep windows and doors shut as fire-fighters from West Waterford and East Cork tackled the blaze at an asbestos-roofed building. Toxic fumes were emitted as the asbestos roof collapsed into the fire and as plastic was burned. The plant has been left derelict for the past three years. c 4,000 tonnes of rubbish had been left in the building. Grave concern has been expressed at the health implications, as asbestos fibres are carcinogenic.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Voting with the United States were Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Panama, Bukina Faso, Croatia and Costa Rica.
China and Russia in particular have obstructed efforts to tackle human rights violations in Zimbabwe, Burma and Sudan. Russia and China have jealously guarded their own economic interests in Sudan and Burma. Their veto of the US drafted resolution on Zimbabwe is tantamount to support for the outrages committed by Mugabe against his own people. The MDC's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai won the first election. Yet the tyrant Mugabe refused to hand over the reins of power. Mugabe and his supporters by violence and murder forced the MDC and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from the run off poll. China as a Communist state has no respect for democracy. I suppose it is understandable that it would sympathise with the Marxist Mugabe. We can hardly expect anything better.
And what is one to make of the cynical vote by South Africa at the Security Council. Is not the ANC Government colluding with Mugabe? The ANC in its struggle against apartheid lectured the world about inequality and the iniquities of racism. It appears incapable of admitting that African Governments can be repressive. The South Africans have disgraced themselves. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans flood into Mozambique and South Africa in search of employment. Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate of at least 355,000 percent. Inflation may be as high as 9 million percent. Mugabe has turned the breadbasket of Africa into an economic basket case.
The UN Security Council is paralysed by the veto and is a toothless tiger. Whither the UN? Perhaps the US should withdraw all financial support from the UN.
Philip Bromwell reports on the work of a research team at the South Pole. This team includes scientists from NUI Maynooth. It has verified a key element of the Big Bang Theory of the origin of the Universe.
Friday, July 11, 2008
This country music ballad was composed by Kris Kristofferson and released in 1970 in his album Kristofferson. Country and western singer Sammi Smith recorded it in 1971. Others to record the song include Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash in a duet and Joan Baez.
I particularly like this version by reggae singer John Holt. It entered the UK top ten in 1974.
Dick Morris was Bill Clinton’s political consultant and is a commentator for Fox News. He is a Republican. Eileen McGann is an attorney and consultant. They argue that the Congress and White House appear to be AWOL and that big business, big government, big labour, and big lobbyists are calling the shots instead. No one is spared.
Just picking chapters at random. Chapter1 titled President Obama outlines the frightening implications of some of his tax proposals. Chapter 5 is Foreign Companies and American Pension Funds that Help Iran build the Bomb. Chapter 7 is the Dubai-ing of America. Chapter 8 is the Plastic Fleece (Credit Card Company Abuse). Chapter 11 is titled How Hedge Fund Billionaires Live Off Tax Breaks.
The level of research undertaken by the authors is enormous. Consequently conclusions drawn are based on fact and not supposition. The authors prove conclusively that taxpayers are being ripped off. They also outline practical approaches to turn the tide against the rip off culture.
This book is a must read for all American taxpayers and will undoubtedly become a reference book for researchers. It is already a best seller. It will stand the test of time.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
In parts of Ethiopia, right now, 4.3 million people are at risk of starvation because of a prolonged drought. Concern is trying to help thousands of children and their families by providing urgently-needed food and healthcare. 75000 are in need of emergency medical assistance.
Some parts of Ethiopia have had only three days rain since last September. A similar drought has also struck neighbouring Kenya and Somalia. The March rainfall was pitiful. Many areas got no rainfall in March. Because of crop failure food prices have rocketed as hunger stalks the land.
Many of the poorest people are so hungry that they have resorted to eating the seeds they would have planted before the next rains due in July . Some mothers have stopped eating altogether, so that their children wont starve.
Concern volunteers in Ethiopia have to make awful choices. Because there are not enough funds to treat everyone the aid workers must focus on children under five years old and turn away other sick children. They have to choose between life and death.
Concern needs to raise €6 million to to cover the cost of food, medicine, seeds and tools to keep families going until December when the next harvest is due.
Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia:
As well as the regions in Ethiopia affected by drought, similar conditions are beginning to take hold in neighbouring Somalia and Kenya too. To donate click here
Click on thumbnail images to enlarge:
Austin Keenan, regional director for the Horn of Africa, recently talked to Concern employees about the situation in Ethiopia. Austin had just returned from Ethiopia several days before. During the talk, he described exactly how serious the crisis is becoming, how families are being affected, and what Concern is doing to help.
To listen to the podcast please click on the player below.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Effectively decentralisation appears to have been shelved. Manning levels in the HSE are to be reduced. All Departments, State Agencies and Local Authorities - other than Health and Education - will be required to reduce their payroll bill by 3% by the end of 2009. But is Education really excluded? FG spokesman on Education Brian Hayes has issued the following statement "...Brian Lenihan said that the Department of Education would be excepted from reducing its payroll bill by 3% but in his very next sentence he said that 'the parameters for this exception are to be agreed by the Departments concerned with the Department of Finance.' This means that Education is not exempted at all from payroll cutbacks and has to negotiate with regard to what cuts it faces...." This caveat applies also to Health.
I suspect that the Government is angling for a public sector pay pause in 2009. The Minister expects a shortfall of €3bn in tax revenue this year. To say the least this is in my view highly conservative. I suspect it may be €4 billion at least. An interesting question arises. What will fund manpower reductions in the public service? Many of those made redundant will be entitled to state benefits.
So the Government will gain with one hand and lose with the other. In addition there is potential for serious conflict in the Health sector. Frontline services in the Health sector will inevitably suffer from cut backs.
Much of what is announced today is aspirational and the details remain to be fleshed out. At last the FF/PD/Green Government appears to accept that we have a crisis. Prior to this critics were accused of talking down the economy. Interest in the next few weeks and months will focus on the actual details of the cuts. As usual the devil will be in the detail. Much of this could have been avoided by prudent action in the last two budgets.
Key points of Minister's Speech:
'The Exchequer returns published by my Department last week confirm we are facing a shortfall of €3bn in tax revenue this year.
'Government expenditure is running at 11% ahead of the same period for last year. And there are a number of spending pressures due mainly to higher unemployment.
Accordingly the Government has decided that all of the pending increases for Ministerial and Parliamentary office-holders and for other senior public servants, recommended by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector will not be implemented.
'The issue will be reviewed in September 2010 but without commitment at this stage to the outcome.
'To meet current expenditure pressures, the following measures will be taken:
* All Departments, State Agencies and Local Authorities - other than Health and Education - will be required to reduce their payroll bill by 3% by the end of 2009 through all appropriate measures identified by local management in the light of local circumstances. The parameters of this exception for the health and education sector are to be agreed by the Departments concerned with the Department of Finance.
* All expenditure by Departments and Agencies on Consultancies, Advertising and Public Relations will be significantly reduced for the remainder of this year and by at least 50% in 2009.
* Further savings in 2008 and in 2009 are to be secured by a range of measures including those identified as a result of the Budget day efficiency review initiated by my predecessor.
* All of the above efficiencies will apply equally to State Agencies. In addition, I have asked that these agencies be reviewed to examine whether they can share services, whether it would be appropriate to absorb some of their functions back into their parent Departments or whether some agencies should be amalgamated or abolished. The outcome of this will be considered by the Government in the Autumn.
* Capital investment will remain a top priority. Capital projects will be examined and prioritised to ensure that resources are targeted in the first instance at construction-related investment in core economic infrastructure that adds to productive capacity.
* The Government has also decided, in the light of the current Exchequer position, that further expenditure for the acquisition of accommodation for decentralisation will await detailed consideration of reports from the Decentralisation Implementation Group.
* Minister of State Martin Mansergh will head up a joint public procurement operation between OPW and the Department of Finance to drive a programme of reform and to produce a business plan for purchasing savings to be achieved by Departments and other public bodies in 2009. Minister Mansergh will report to me in the Autumn with specific proposals to target at least €50m savings in 2009 on this front.
* Given the projected revision to GNP and other factors, there will be savings in Overseas Development Assistance of some €45 million this year. The revised total contribution in 2008 will be over €200 per citizen, totalling around €900 million. Ireland will still be far ahead of almost all other developed nations in our rate of ODA.
'In addition to these measures, the Department of Finance and the Department of Health and Children will draw up proposals for a targeted scheme to reduce surplus staff in the HSE as soon as possible. We will also consider extending this scheme on a selected basis to other public service agencies where staff surpluses are identified.
'In respect of the Tribunals of Enquiry given that they have indicated their intention to conclude their public hearings this year, the costs of their operations will be reviewed by the relevant Ministers as part of the overall review of spending so that expenditure is minimized, both in the remainder of 2008 and residual costs arising in 2009.
'The Government is determined to achieve the savings required. All Departments have been directed to stay within budget.
'These measures are designed to minimise the effects on users of services in the areas of Health, Education and Social Welfare. They seek to protect the vulnerable. But they are the minimum we need to get back on track as soon as possible.
'The savings are estimated to deliver €440m in 2008 and €1,000m in 2009. Even with these savings, the fiscal position in 2009 will be demanding and all spending will have to be rigorously controlled. In framing the 2009 Budget the Government is determined to maintain the right economic and fiscal conditions for sustainable growth.
Monday, July 7, 2008
This video from RTE's Sunday Game shows interviews with Davy Fitzgerald, Sambo McNaughton, Eoin Murphy, Eoin McGrath and Dominic McKinley. It also shows Waterford's six goals scored against Antrim in the All Ireland qualifier played at Walsh Park on Saturday last. The interviewer was Marty Morrissey.
Obama's pretence to move to the centre on Abortion is a sham designed to mislead Catholics and Evangelicals
He is endeavouring to pretend that his beliefs are in tune with those of orthodox Catholics and Evangelicals. Nothing could be further from the truth. He has the most liberal voting record in the Senate on social matters. He supports and voted for partial birth abortion. Of course his apologists in the Washington Post, The New York Times and other liberal organs attempt to paint a picture of movement to the centre on social affairs. They along with Obama are attempting to mislead Evangelicals and Catholics. After all if Obama siphons off sufficient Evangelicals and Catholics he is home and dry.
So Obama is moving towards the centre on social affairs, is he? What does move to the centre really mean?
- Is Obama prepared to vote against abortion? No
- Is Obama prepared to put an end to partial birth abortion? No
- Is he prepared to appoint conservative judges? No
- Is he prepared to eschew his general liberal voting record? No
So all this talk of movement to the centre is hot air. It is an enormous sack of gas.It is sanitised language geared to sewing confusion among Evangelicals and orthodox Catholics. Obama and his liberal cohorts are engaged in a wilful campaign of misinformation and lies.
Articles in various liberal organs deliberately omit his extreme liberal record on abortion whilst emphasising any slight genuflection towards Evangelicals and Orthodox Catholics.
Obama is an extreme liberal on social affairs and an extreme left wing politician on the economy.
He is attempting to square the circle. This is not possible on social affairs. You are either in favour of abortion or you are not. You cannot bridge the unbridgeable.
The reality is Obama as exemplified by his voting record on abortion has contempt for the beliefs of conservative Evangelicals and orthodox Catholics.
Obama consistently emphasises the importance of Christianity in his life. Unfortunately he has facilitated the breaking of the Fifth Commandment by his votes on abortion.
Obama consistently speaks about women’s rights. But there is never a mention of the right to life of the unborn child. Where Obama is concerned God’s wishes are sidelined.God does not enter the equation. Obama is a secular humanist first and a Christian second. Obama’s religion is Secular Humanism with a little sprinkle of Christianity thrown in for good measure.
So the reality is that Orthodox Catholics and Evangelicals hold diametrically opposed positions from Obama on social matters.
No Catholic or Evangelical should vote for Obama because of his stance on abortion. Obama supports the anti–Christian position . He is opposed to God's wishes.
We are all answerable to God if we facilitate abortion in any way. You cannot compromise between good and evil. You opt for one or the other. There is no half way house. It is a case of God's wishes versus Obama's flowery rhetoric, which justifies and supports the culture of death. Evangelical African Americans who may be tempted to vote for Obama must put God first. They should vote for McCain on the basis of his strong anti-abortion stance.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
A chronicle of the 2322 days suffering endured with tremendous bravery by Ingrid Betancourt and which thank God ended on July 2nd. This slideshow has some exceptional pictures of Ingrid and her family and of the demonstrations and campaign seeking her release. (Cronica del ultraje que durante 2322 dias sufrio, con enorme valor nuestra compatriota Ingrid Betancourt Pulecio, y que gracias a Dios termino en Julio ).
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Quite frankly it is time for the GAA to reorganise the Senior Hurling Championship structure. Over the last two weeks Antrim has been at the receiving end of thrashings by Galway and Waterford.
In today’s game at Walsh Park, Waterford defeated Antrim by 6-18 to 0-15. This game benefited neither Antrim nor Waterford. Waterford experimented with Ken McGrath at full back and Shane O’Sullivan at wing back. I strongly agree with the decision to try Ken McGrath at full back. Waterford could not continue to leak goals at the back. Ken needs time to settle in this position. No worthwhile assessment can be made of Waterford’s performance. Waterford needed a very hard game today. It did not get it. The Deise players may now find it more difficult to raise their performances against stronger opposition. (Below Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh reports on the game for RTE. Included also is an interview with Davy Fitzgerald- Waterford's Manager)
The Munster Senior Hurling championship is the only provincial championship that is competitive. The Leinster Senior Hurling Championship is in urgent need of reform. Antrim and Galway must play in Leinster.
The Leinster Senior Hurling Championship could be seeded. The participating teams would be divided into two groups:
Group A would consist of:Kilkenny, Wexford and Laois. Group B would consist of: Galway, Offaly and Dublin. Both groups would be run on a league basis. The winner of each group would contest the Leinster Final. The second team in each group would go into the qualifiers. The third team in each group would play in the Christy Ring Cup.
Dominic McKinley and Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton have an impossible task at present. Both men live for the game of hurling. Antrim and Down suffer because of their isolated location far removed from the hurling strongholds of the south. Derry is another county, which could make greater progress at hurling. However Gaelic Football is a major obstacle. Each of the remaining six counties in Ulster has a small dedicated band of hurling men who work tirelessly to promote the game.
GAA headquarters must take the bull by the horns. The Ulster Council must be split into the Ulster Hurling Council and the Ulster Football Council. The new Ulster Hurling Council would be provided with funding of €2 million annually to develop hurling in each of the nine counties. Prominent inter county hurlers from the south could be employed by the new Ulster Hurling Council to help develop the game.
Its time to end the lip service. The Ulster Council is a football Council. It has little interest in hurling.
Ulster Hurling enthusiasts must go their own way. Otherwise hurling will die in the Glens and the Ards peninsula.
Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh reports on the game
Davy Fitzgerald interview
Friday, July 4, 2008
As a Marxist Obama is now pretending to move to the centre. This welfare ad is part of this process. As usual it is a mishmash of half truths.
In 1997 he opposed welfare reform.
This ad fails to spell out Obama’s real position on welfare reform. On August 22, 1996, President Clinton signed a welfare reform bill, officially titled the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The bill was hammered out as a compromise with the strong support of the Republican-controlled Congress.
Obama's ad is disingenuous. Obama resisted this welfare reform bill.
Senator Obama told the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper in 1996 that Mr. Clinton's stance on welfare was "disturbing".
Obama said on the floor of the Illinois state Senate on May 31, 1997:
"I am not a defender of the status quo with respect to welfare," "Having said that, I probably would not have supported the federal legislation, because I think it had some problems."
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Total current receipts in the first half of 2008 were €19.525 billion compared to receipts of €21.124 billion for the same period in 2007.
Non-tax revenue in the first six months of 2008 was €398 million. This compares to €310 million for the same period last year.
Brian Cowen’s Government must administer some harsh medicine. The country faces swingeing public expenditure cuts and huge rises in stealth taxes as Finance Minister Brian Lenihan attempts to grapple with the problem. Increased exchequer borrowing will also help plug the gap. In addition interest rates will remain high as the European Central Bank grapples with inflation. Increasing interest rates at this time is economic lunacy and will serve to strengthen the Euro further. This will reduce exports from the Euro zone. Irish exports have begun to lag. Much of the Euro inflation has resulted from higher oil prices. So it is arguable that interest rates should not be increased.
Tightening of lending policies by the banks will hinder investment.
Pay rises below the rate of inflation will take further steam out of the economy. There is a danger of stagflation if public expenditure cuts are too severe.
In addition unemployment has risen rapidly in recent months. It broke the 200,000 barrier last month and currently stands at c207,000. Where is the purchasing power to come from if the consumer lacks sufficient disposable income?
In recent tears public expenditure has galloped out of control. It rose by 13% in 2007 in the run in to the General Election and by 50% over four years. Huge tax receipts from the then booming building sector funded much of this. The FF/PD Government erred in not restraining public expenditure. Excessive public expenditure fuelled inflation in an economy that was already growing strongly.
It threw petrol on the fires of economic growth. Restraints in public expenditure in good times would have provided the Government with some leeway.
There has been a tendency to dump on economists who warned that this scenario would unfold. David McWilliams, Alan Aherne and George Lee in particular have come in for strong criticism. Richard Bruton FG Spokesman on Finance has long criticised Government policy. Critics were accused of talking down the economy. Of course this is utter nonsense
Interestingly George Lee was referred to today on an RTE programme as George Gloom. Attack the messenger when you do not like the message. What utter nonsense. It is time for realism.
Some debate has cantered on the dreaded “R” word. The country is either in recession or about to enter a recession. It can weather the storm.