Sunday, October 30, 2005

Rabbitte faces party inquiry over councilor's complaint

An article caught my eye from Saturdays independent. Basically it is that
LABOUR leader Pat Rabbitte has been summoned to appear before a Complaints Committee of his own party. It is the first time in the history of the State that a party leader will be investigated by his own party. If the complaint by a councilor, which accuses him of "acting in a manner unbecoming of a Labour Party leader" is fully upheld, he could face suspension or even expulsion.
The reason stems from a letter that Mr. Rabbitte sent to the Irish Times claiming that
In Sligo, Cllr Bree used his position as Mayor to stop an accommodation site going into his own electoral ward and sought to put it into the ward of a colleague that already has three such sites."
To which Mayor Cllr Bree replied that
the minute book of Sligo Borough Council for February 2005 can confirm that the only proposal in regard to his ward, the East Ward, was an amendment to the Traveller Accommodation Programme to the effect that a location be sought in the ward for the provision of apartments for newly wed young travellers.
This is indeed true and he voted in favor of
That a location be sought in the East Ward for the provision of apartments for newlywed young travellers as recommended in the travellers on Draft Traveller Accommodation 2005-2008
. However more debates took place on that issue that day. Which are here. This is probably where the controversy may come from. The proposal was.
That Sligo Borough Council delete any future traveller accommodation proposed for the North Ward until a balance and equitable approach in the three wards are achieved
To this he was against and the vote was lost 5-6. This must be where Pat Rabbitee is got his letter from. However reading this proposal and not having any record of the debate I find it impossible to state whether he was against it due to not wanting halting sites in his own area or that he thought that accommodation should come before area politics. To me it seems like Pat Rabbitee was reaching a small bit with his letter. Over this issue there has been a war of words between herself and cllr Jim McGarry and cllr Bree.. In one of the local papers Nicola McGarry, daughter of Jim McGarry said
Clr.Bree is a man undergoing a 'midlife political crisis'.
"He embarked on a campaign to bring dispute and division into the Labour Party in Sligo a long time ago. Perhaps he doesn't like the direction the Party is moving in under the leadership of Pat Rabbitte. Perhaps he feels he has grown away from the Party. If so, I wish he would be man enough to accept it and move on", Ms McGarry added.
There seems to be a wee feud between Mr McGarry and Mr. Bree. Mr. Mcgarry was a member of Fine Gael. He tried to defect to the PDs but seemingly on not been guaranteed a senate seat decided to move to the labour party. From Phoenix magazine.
When Rabbitte visited Sligo recently, local party officers made a tentative agreement to separate the party leader’s tour between the respective baronies of the Bree and McGarry camps. However, when Bree and co saw McGarry intruding into their part of the tour, they abandoned Rabbitte in mid-stream, leaving McGarry to escort his new ‘comrade’ throughout the rest of the constituency.
This would seem to suggest that they are not on the best of terms also it might explain the “He embarked on a campaign to bring dispute and division into the Labour Party in Sligo a long time ago”. It might also show why Mr. Rabbitte may have reason not to support Mr. Bree. However this is all unclear to me and this story is going to run for a while and it is one to watch.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Brian Cowen's Election Chances

A recent study have dented Brian Cowen's chances of being the next leader of Fianna Fail. According to Daniel Hamermesh of the University of Texas Handsome men have edge in election wins. This study may force members of Fianna Fail to rethink there election statagy and try to get Miss World Rosanna Davidson to run for the leadership. This research seems to suggest that the PDs need a radical overhaul if they are going to survive. Or this research could be utter crap.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Today's role models.

Excellent post over on instant punditry about how politicians and journalists can take cocaine and nothing happens but when something similar happens to a model the media is total in its condemnation. I suppose the argument against Kate Moss was that she is a role model. Well it says a lot about the world today that Kate Moss is considered a role model whose actions will shape the actions of young people. If this is the argument then it most mean that politicians are not considered role models.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

These boots are made for trespassing

In Wednesdays Irish Times there was a quiet a snotty letter from a Michael O’Carroll who is a member of Keep Ireland Open. He was complaining that the Irish Times Tourism supplement did not give walking tourism proper coverage. He then also went on about how Dublin walkers were going walking in Wales rather then the west of Ireland. Now being from the country I don’t like the condescending way that city people (mainly Dublin ) look at people from the rest of the country. They call us culchies and still expect that they should be allowed to walk willy nilly around peoples land and be greeted enthusiastically as if they are doing some great service to us and we should honour them. Some move to the countryside for the quality of life and then complain that the local framer is spreading slurry on his field. How dare they complain if you want to live in the country you live a country life. You don’t complain to the council for having street lights on at night in your windows so don’t complain about country smells. Now back to the right to roam issue. The reason that a farmer doesn’t want you on his farm is not due to spite. There are a number of reasons. 1. Insurance: Farmers fear that if some one falls on there land they will be sued. 2 Gates: Walkers leave gates over. 3 Costs: If farmers have to keep pathways open stiles and paths will have to be maintained 4. Crops Walkers damage crops. 5. Danger to the walker. River banks are still public land and you have a right to walk it. The right of way arguments come when people want to walk random fields and up mountains. If you are on private lands you are trespassing. Now the reason for the reasons I’ll expand upon. Many people consider people from the country as not been street-wise. Well many people from the cities are not country-wise. They have watched Gleanroe and feel they know it all. These are the kind of people who cannot tell a bull from a cow. They but wellies on and walk into a field to connect to their inner Miley. Suddenly they find a ton of beef charging them. Many people would say that the farmer should have it corralled. But he has it is in a field the walkers has just jumped into the corral. Other people say they should have signs up warning of the presents of a bull. In someone’s house with kids you could trip over a bike in the yard. Do you see signs saying “Beware of Kids Toys.” No they are private residents as the fields are private property. Crops are the livelihood of many farmers. When walkers walk across fields they often trample down crops. Not only is this highly inconsiderate this directly effects the farmers income. Cost if farmers have to maintain paths and stiles then this requires money not only to pay for materials to do this but also the time lost doing this could be spent on real farming tasks. But also farmers are farmers because they like it. They are not maintenance technicians. Even if the government gave them grants to maintain these things. Why should they be force to do another job? Could you imagine a judge been forced to clean the court room. I certainly can’t. Sometime walkers leave gates open and animals walk off. And mix with other herds. This has many consequences. Animals can escape and go into neighbours gardens causing damage to there houses and grounds. With many non-country people in the country now and the compensation culture this will lead farmers to being sued. Also animals can get onto roads which can lead to deaths. Only recently a loose animal resulted in the death of a man. Possible the biggest reason is that if people fall on land farmers fear that they will be sued. This is in fact possible also the least of a true worry due to the various acts past. Recent court decisions mean that the farmer has to be guilty of reckless abandon which means that the farmer would have to do something equivalent to planting bear traps to be found guilty. But the farmers still has the fear of going to court taking time out of there life and enduring the cost. Most people try to avoid jury service as it interrupts their lives. People need to realise farmers are people to and like to avoid court where possible. In his letter Michael Carroll said that if farmers could look beyond their noses they could invest in agri-tourism and have a money spinner. Well judges could have a money spinner cleaning court rooms. Doesn’t mean that they should have to. In these go-go busy hectic “insert buzz word here” world. Access to the countryside is desirable. People think they have a right to roam. But forget that with every right there is a responsibility. Many don’t live up to their responsibilities. They also seem to forget that the farmer too has rights. He too has responsibilities to his family to himself and to his animals these responsibilities have to come before the responsibilities to take care of some day tripping city folk discovering their inner Miley Byrne.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Kilmeaden cheese and Europe

A new EU law Protected Designation of Origin means that the product must come from the location it is named. For instance Feta must come from Greece and Parma Ham must come from Parma and Newcastle Brown ale must come from Newcastle. This was challenged in court and they lost. So this means that the product must have the origins that people(i.e European bureaucrats) would come to expect. Now recently a big controversy in Waterford was that the Kilmeaden cheese factory was going to be closed and moved. Now what effect does this ruling have on the decision to move Kilmeaden production from Kilmeaden. Do most people consider Kilmeaden as coming from Kilmeaden if so is it possible that if a case was brought to the European courts Glanbia may have to either not close the plant or rename the cheese ballyragget. Ballyragget the Fillet of cheddar is just not the same is it.

Liam Lawlorand the papers

Recently it was published that Ireland are top for Freedom of the press. IN one of the paper one of the journalists unions I believe the NUJ. State that it was still not free and that the Libel laws were to tight and should be loosened. Well considering that they had no problem releasing a story so defamatory and wrong without due consideration well maybe the libel laws are not strong enough. Because they were not tough enough to make them think twice. The editors should resign this ratings grabing crap is for the tabloids not the broadsheets. But then again maybe the indo finally has come a tabloid. Anyway it is now of my shopping list. I also see they seem to have erased it from their website. Wonder why?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bertie Time

M.C Hammer had Hammer Time now its Bertie Time. So Bertie has made his speech. Wearing a yellowy type Bertie emerge running through the crowd shaking hands as if he was Jerry Springer or Orpah all that we needed to hear to complete the image was for the chant of Go Bertie Go Bertie but alas they opted for the traditional standing ovation. The Fianna Fail party as a collective has never known for it originality. So then he went on to his speech standing between a Irish and EU Flag.. Since 1997 all good things doubled all bad things halved. This was all Fianna Fails doing and aren’t we great. Nothing to do with chance just Fianna Fail.

Now in this value driven culture it took Bertie around 5 minutes to mention the word value. Stating that they were not a penny pinching government shortly after. But of course there are not they spend money like there is no tomorrow perhaps if they were we wouldn’t have had the PPARS scandal. More penny pinching I say.

Next he went on to health care and Bertie displayed his vast knowledge of health by saying it is about Care and Cures. He admitted that they have not solved A and E crisis which was big of him. He reported that they have initiated a checking hygiene well better late then never and that public patients are treated as equal

He said 900 more beds in hospitals from 2001 why not say 1997 like everything else in the speech. SOmething to do with Closures in beds prior to 2001?.

The big news was the investment in transport which is to be the largest investment in the history of the state. Note to self invest in shares of consultant companies.

In the week that a report came out saying that the LUAS has done little to ease congestion Bertie told the audience of the huge success that is LUAS. Then he said real republicanism done by projects like that. Then he said new radical investment in university research coming up.

Bertie does his geailge bit. Reading his auto cue very intently more then he had for the rest of the speech. His eyes started playing what seem to be a game of pong. Going from the left auto cue to the right auto cue ping pong ping went his eyes.

Then comes “peace is at heart Fianna Fail”. The guns are silent and Ireland at peace and this gets a standing ovation. In the euphoric clapping and cheering no one seemed to remember that the loyalists guns are not silent. Or in Bertie’s Ireland are loyalists not part of it? He then goes on about the greatness of the good Friday agreement how we have had revolution without rebellion and how Ireland has come from under the shadow of the gun man. He follow this up with talk of commemorating the 1916 rising .

Shoulders to shoulder with history Fianna Fail lead to IRA decommission or so he says. Then came the comic cue . When talking about the IMC reports and whether they have decommission or not Bertie looked into the camera and said “I hope they are”. Changing the booming leaders voice to something from a Kerrygold add. I hope they got the horse France.

Then came the clichés “WE are the history makers” “A new republic is born” “We live for the Irish people” and with a “Fianna Fail believes in Ireland” Bertie ended. With that the Ministers rallied round and Bertie salutes the crowd Niamh Brannach stands on his right hand side and he kisses her on the check. The mobsters kiss of death or a signal to his successor only time will tell.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Are Google Democrats ?

Type Failure into Google and click I feel lucky. Thanks to Where me country for spoting this

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ennis Water Supply

Something that has not got much coverage in the media (as it is not in Dublin). Is the fact that the water supply in Ennis County Clare is not suitable for consumption.. The town council has not decided to bring tankers in with water instead people have had to buy bottled water. Some people who are poor can't afford to constant outlay of money for ballygowen. One of the main functions of the council is to provide the people with water. They are just not doing there job. This really is disgraceful Ennis has a population of 22,051 that's bigger then athlone Mullingar, and Lucan. Could you imagine the same thing happening near Dublin. I think not the Newspapers and media and blogs would be up and arms. But if it happens west of Portlaoise does anyone care.

Rory Carrol Released

Rory Carrol has been released. There doesn't seem to have been time for a ransom to be paid. So the reason he was released is unclear. It could be as he is Irish or that the Guardian newspaper isn't Fox News. Anyway its good he is safe. And in true Irish style he reported to have a beer after his ordeal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rory Carroll

Rory Carroll journalist with the Guardian News paper has been kidnapped in Iraq. He had been interviewed by Pat Kenny earlier in the day (you can probably hear it here for the next week). His father a far Irish Times journalist was interviewed on TV today and seemed very much in control. He said that he had been dreading that this would happen but was confident that he would be returned. Rory Carroll carries an Irish passport but I'm not sure that will really help. Details of the government response are published here on the Irish News website. His former paper. Here is an article of his Reporters at risk and his papers statement about the incident. My thoughts are with his family friends and colleagues

A Manned European Space Program

With China now sending men into space is it time for Europe to do the same? In Europe we have the European Space Agency (ESA) which includes Ireland. In China the missions have come a symbol of great national pride leading to patriotic demonstrations and a coming together of its people. Also it has enhanced China’s world wide reputation. This coming together is what the EU would love to see its citizens doing. In Europe there is not a real sense of what it is to be European something the EU would like to change. Something like a manned mission to space might change this.

But what is the state of the ESA at the moment. The Venus Express which will be soon be launched from Kazakhstan will reach the planet Venus in April 2006. It is the same basic design as the 2003 Mars Express mission and cost €220m. (With €150 million PPRAS scandal maybe we could send an Irish Mission to Venus.) The aim is to study the greenhouse effect that makes Venus the warmest planet in the solar system. Also other mission such as the joint operation with Japan Bepi Colombo to study Mercury in 2012 are in the pipeline.

Galileo is one of the key missions that ESA has planed which has seriously annoyed the USA as it is an alternative to the GPS system. Where the US restricts the accuracy of the system for non-military people Galileo will not have such limitations which the US military use.

In a recent meeting of scientists in Paris scientist discussed what should be the main trust of European space missions between 2015-2025. The main ideas were to test for Gravitational waves, study Bose condensates quantum entanglement and the Darwin mission to look for Earth-like exoplanets and to increase the use of Landers rather then orbiters. Now for the people who read this and don’t know what a Bose condensate are it doesn’t involve humans in space. The only project that seems to have any possible human missions involved is the Aurora programme. This is a 30 year project to send robots to Mars and it is touted to eventually lead to manned missions. But manned missions are not universally supported. Martin Ward of Leicester University chair of the UK’s Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council does not believe that the UK should help fund manned missions.(physics world October 2004) The UK is one of the main contributors in both money and expertise to the ESA so without the UK contributing manned European missions may not happen.

Money is one of the main factors that will limit a potential manned space mission. The EU spends 40% of its budget on 5% of its population through agriculture. If some of this was diverted to science and to the ESA this could finance a space manned mission and create jobs. But I doubt the EU has the political will or cross national support to do this.

Currently funding for the ESA mainly comes from 2 sources Government and commercial. A lot of this from satellite launching using Arianne Rockets launched from French Guinea. As they are launched nearer to the equator then American or Russian they use less fuel to get into orbit. Thus allowing the ESA to undercut NASA and the Russian space agency. This has made the ESA a major player in the satellite launch market.

But the question is would it be of any use. Research in space is vital however with the International space station which is partial funded by the ESA (and therefore Ireland) and with the Shuttle and Soyez crafts an European manned space vehicle would be money and expertise diverted away from more worthy projects. Manned space missions to planets don’t achieve much that robotic missions don’t. The comparative cost does not merit landings from a scientific point of view. The advantage comes from the technology developed and the knowledge and expertise gained in the building. All knowledge gained is an advantage and Europe and especially Ireland needs to increase its money in scientific research. The government in Ireland complained recently about not having a top world university in Ireland and yet they are unwilling to put in the funding that is required to produce top quality research. Cutting edge science that leads to world recognition requires lots of money. So with the EU spending on science not sufficient at present diversion of these funds to manned missions will take away from other research and lead to Europe going backward scientifically. It may lead to more European unity with people being proud to have a European manned programme. But that is not the reason for having an European Space Agency. The reason is for scientific advancement and basically a manned space mission would be a glorified EU publicity stunt. The only truly positive aspect to it would be that it would encourage young people to study science and surly there are cheaper was of doing that then a multibillion Euro programme.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Space weapons

Gavin has been talking about space weapons there and here. Here is my reply had a big long reply and i lost it so here i have to write it again. Rods of god is indeed an interesting phrase. The christian right are certainly in the marketing department. But what they are basically kintic energy weapons. Basically these are going to be hypersonic scramjets. They fly at such high speed that when they hit a target they are travelling at such a high speed that they in part massive amounts of energy to the target. (think fast car crash) Destroying it. Scramjets were tested last year. As theses are air breeding jets they will be required to fly with in the atmosphere and not from space. So these rods of god will be ground based systems not space based systems. The only project that the CDI piece mentioned is Starfire Optical Range. Which sounds cool but is in fact an adaptive optics system (which is cool :) ) . Basically it is a system to improve telescopes by removing atmospheric blurring. It is a major field in optics and is amounst other places been researched in NUI Galway A intercontenental missle could deliver a pay load anywhere in the world. And it to like the V2 goes into space during flight. The 45 minutes is just a wee bit faster and doesn’t really hearld in a space weaponisation. It would probably be based on some hyper sonic plane . Again sub-space. Also that counter space seems to be mainly for survillance and GPS. It does mention antisatillite attacks. These take the form of missles fired from earth jammers and blinders. and the counter to these would be earth based. The options of weapons to put in space are limited and don’t offer much better strike capabilities. You can’t really drop something into the atmoshere . it has to come in at an angle so that it does not burn up in the atmosphere. This would delay a missile and make it as usefull as a ground based system. In my opinion Sorry about the mis-spellings

Monday, October 17, 2005

Government wasting money

Of late I have been writing think pieces about various topics and not much on the various scandals that have hit the government. So I might as well.

Well the big one to hit is the PPARS. With the government spending €166 million euro on a computer system that did not work. With €70 million going to external consultants. This is a terrible waste of the public’s finances. Now I wouldn’t go into the details as they have already been discussed at length here, here ,here and here to mention a few. The problem seems to be that the government seems to have forgotten how to budget. They are getting in billions in tax revenue which is showing no signs of decreasing. This seems to have place the government into a mentality where by they don’t need to budget that stringently. The lesson that one would have thought were learned from the 80’s was how to get value out of government spending. In the 80’s they didn’t have the money to spend so they had to learn to make every penny count. But this lesson was not learned now in this Celtic tiger. Minister Neol Dempsey dismissed the controversy saying that "in a €41 billion budget, the level of misspent money relating to P-PARS is relatively very, very small". This is not the point or is it true. That money would have helped build schools, add more beds to hospitals, helped with child care and many other areas. The original budget was €8.8 million. It would be understandable for this budget to increase. Unforeseen problems will always arise and require extra funding but an 1900% increase is beyond unforeseen problems. Ireland on Sunday reported that Micheal McDowells wife Prof Niamh Brennan chair of the Commission on Financial Management and Control Systems in the Health Services had flagged the issue in January 2003 so why did it keep rising unchecked. The supreme arrogance of the Fianna Fail party is the part of the problem.

But part of the problem is also us. We have come from being one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the richest in about 10 years. This is unprecedented growth. With this peoples wealth has risen also has peoples expectations. We believe we deserve an infrastructure to rival the rest of Europe in quality, we expect a good public transport system a world beating health service and top universities. And lets face it we do deserve them. But the fact remains despite most peoples wish we are not Sweden.

For instance to build a road structure comparable to the rest of Europe two things are needed, money for materials, land, wages, plant etc and time to build and raise the money. The time aspect is where we fail. Where Europe has had 50 years to get to where it is . We expect to be there in 5. We have not had the time to build the roads that are needed. The roads that 10 years were well able to take the numbers of traffic on them are now gridlocked. To build roads, to expand or by-pass existing routes takes time and money. Something the government though massively rich does not have infinite resources of. The EU now has more important countries to build. Structural funds are no longer going to help. Nor do we have a Marshall plan to fund us. Most of the money needs to come from the government coffers.

With voters giving out about the state of the state the government is pressurised to act at speed. When you have to act at speed you make mistakes you cut corners and you seek help. This is what is happening to the government. In an attempt to give the people what they want they are giving us what we don’t want.

For instants to get the funding into place to build a large scale road it is quicker to get private funding in to help rather then waiting to accumulate the necessary resources. This also applies to the health services. Where Mary Harney is trying to increase the amount of beds by letting private enterprise into the market. While perhaps not the greatest approach from a social ideal model point of view it will get create more beds. If the government follows this up with greater support for the medical card holders such as what was announced last week it may possibly be the quickest way of bringing our health service up to a good European standard.

But back to the PPRAS system. The idea of the system was to make the health service more efficient. Rather then spending time negotiating the contract working on the particulars and making sure that is was right. The government dived right into it. They wanted it done and as Mr Dempseys comments seemed to suggest that the government has a lets throw money at it mentality. So instead of slow careful monitoring by the civil service they chose to fast track it through consultants and now we have a €150 million bill for a project that doesn’t work. If it had been done through the civil service it would have come in with a cheaper price tag but also it would have come in a few years later by which time the loss of productivity could have equalled the money saved.

Research takes time to come up with a product it is not a quick fix. Which is what we demand from the government. The mach 3 razor blade cost €750 million and took 5 years to develop so is it really surprising that some things take time and money to develop. If we want to equal Europe we either have to wait or except money is going to be poorly managed by all parties.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Drinking Hours

On my pervious post the comments seem to have turned to the issue of drinking hours. So not to be one to ignore an issue I’ll will put my thoughts here.

The argument for extended drinking hours is that this will reduce the amount of people leaving clubs at the same time, mixing and generally starting fights. Also some believe that if there is longer drinking time people will pace themselves and not try to force 10 pints down before 2. Well this argument is complete shite really.

When I was in Spain in clubs that opened until 5:00am people stayed in the clubs until 5:00am. This was without one of the most prime Irish traits. I’m not talking about drinking culture. I’m talking about the Irish trait of trying to get value out of everything. In Japan it is considered impolite to empty your plate. The reasoning being if you empty your plate then your host did not give you enough to eat and thus you are giving out to them. In Ireland the opposite is nearly true. If you don’t leave your plate full it is like saying it was not good enough for you.

In Ireland you have to pay into most nite clubs. So most feel you should get your monies worth out of the night and you stay on until the bouncers kick you out. With longer opening hours this will not change. If you don’t believe me if the clubs close at lets say 3:00 and if you left at 2:45 you could get a taxi in 10 minutes. But yet everyone waits for taxis for up to and over an hour. Why? Because people leave at 3:00.

So what will people do with these longer opening hours. We Irish people are in many ways self consciences. We dislike making fools of ourselves (when everyone else isn’t). Thus people aren’t going to dance the entire night. Other then the people who know or think they can dance and the drunks. So what will happen. People will drink. To get Dutch courage so as to allow them to dance to latest manufactured R and B act. This will last until people sober up a bit from the exercise and get an urge for more beer and continue drinking more then they would if they left at 2. Also bars pump out music by the same manufactured R and B acts loudly. Why? When is the last time you have seen a dance floor in a bar. Also ever go into a bar without music it just as lively without it. Atmosphere is not the reason in my opinion for the music. The reason. The fact that music is so loud that you can’t hold a decent conversation that would absorb you. You have bitty shouting contests. Which when you realise the futility of trying to out shout the PA system you drink to give you something to do so as to not suffer in awkward silence. Go out to the smoking section and you will notice you will drink less as you can actually have a full conversation with someone. This same effect happens in clubs its so loud all you can do is drink conversation is useless.

The other option that people say is staggered closing times. Where some clubs close at 2 others at 2:30 others at 3 etc etc. This would be next to impossible to operate. Every club would wish to close at the latest time. Also if the list of closing times was released everyone would just go to the latest closing club. If it was secret and alternated, the clubs would not like it. Some days you make more money then others. Clubs would not sacrifice a few hours of St Patrick’s day trading for a few hours trading time on some random Monday. The system would be blatantly open for abuse and accusations for bribing.

Over all I would welcome the extending of the opening hours but not for any safety reasons mearly because I would like to stay out longer. Safety concerns will not be served by extending the hours. The only real winners in extending the hours would be the vintners association as there members would make even greater money.

If you want that image in a t-shirt go here

Euronews and fox news

Is Euronews to the EU what FoxNews is to the whitehouse?. I mean have you ever seen Euronews critise the Eu. Just look at this article. It just says to me bias.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Duplicity of Political Correctness.

We are now a multicultural country and therefore kids should be allowed to drink. Underage drinking maybe one of the worst traits of modern Ireland but we need to allow underage drinking. How you may wonder this should happen. Well in this country we now have people from France whose culture includes allowing children to drink.

Some thing tells me not the many people (other then teenagers) would be in favour of such a law. They would argue that alcohol abuse is epidemic in Ireland and that drinking in teenagers leads to violence and underage sex with all the problems that leads to. But these people are also the same who argue for that Muslim women should be allowed to wear the hagab. Now don’t get me wrong I believe people are entitled to do what they wish as long as it doesn’t harm others. But why should we reject one persons (French) culture as wrong and accept the other. Could a French parent be arrested for giving there 8 year old a glass of wine? Yes. Could a Muslim man be arrested for forcing his wife (non-violently) to wear the Hagab? I know also Muslim women would feel uncomfortable not wearing it like many Irish women would feel uncomfortable following some African tribes tradition of being topless on more then just Spanish beaches. But others do feel pressured to wear it.

Female circumcision is a cruel cruel practice that takes place in many African countries. It is illegal in this country but male circumcision is not. It is normally perform by professional people in clean sterile environments. However as illustrated by a case in Waterford recently this isn’t always the case. But think about it this way if it wasn’t a major part of 2 major religions would cutting off a sensitive part of a young baby in a possibly dangerous and medical unnecessary procedure be accepted? Or even to highlight that political correctness is mainly derived from white people’s standards. If it wasn’t part of a major white religion (Judaism) but was a part of Islam would it be accepted?

Many people say that all Africans as lazy freeloaders. This is racist statement. But another racist statement is to say that Americans are dumb. Many seem not to realise this. In fact many people who are very pro-African rights are also the first ones to call Americans idiots. Yet they never realise the duplicity in this. To many it is politically incorrect to call Islam the religion of terrorism but is ok to call the catholic clergy paedophiles. Most Islamic clergy condemn terrorist violence but some do encourage it(Some catholic priests helped the IRA as well). Also some catholic priest are paedophiles yet most priest are not. So why is it politically acceptable to call one evil and the other not.

Another place where political correctness has double standards is in gender. If women had higher car accident rates do you think that insurance companies would be allowed to charge them more? In this politically correct world. If a woman gets a job because of her gender it is positive discrimination if a male gets a job because of his gender it is sexist. (Saying women slept with the boss is politically incorrect and libellous. Thus not applicable in an argument about political correctness norms). Now before I get attached by the women of this world. I believe that whoever is best for the job should get the job regardless of gender. But just because women were discriminated in the past, discrimination now to redress the imbalance is not right. As the old saying goes two wrongs don’t make a right.

What is political correctness? In my opinion is very much based on western guilt. We are guilty what we did to African Countries, different religions and women. And in the majority of cases we have a lot to answer for. But does that give us the right to pick what is correct and dismiss as wrong and shameful what was previous. If people want to chose what is politically correct to say we have to realise that true political correctness encompasses everything including our own pervious western standards. We have to also realise that in many cases political correctness is not needed. In America Christmas is now the holidays. Is that really offensive to non-Christians or does it come from a guilt that stems from the dominate position Christianity has? Many people find stuff offensive because they believe they should, not because they actually do feel offended. I heard in America Father Ted (that site claims its British. Always trying to take our programs whats next Killinascully :) ) was banned as they felt it would be offensive to Irish people. Did any of my Irish readers feel offended by it.? I certainly wasn’t. Political correctness does not solve anything it is basically window dressing for people to believe that society has changed. Yet women are still are not equally paid as males, blacks in America are still discriminated against, Homosexuals are ridiculed and Muslims are attacked.

If we want true equality we need to dismiss the political correctness that throws a veil over true discrimination in society as it makes people believe it doesn’t exist. We need equality of thought and action. Words will come after that. However not only do we need to give the same respect to Islam, blacks, homosexuals and women as Judaism Christianity, whites, heterosexuals and men but also we need to give the same respect to Judaism Christianity whites, homosexuals and men as Islam blacks heterosexuals and women. There is never anything positive about discrimination.

Edit can't find any referance to Father Ted being banned but i do believe it was actually pulled off a network because it was thought offensive. Wheather that is urban myth or not. Im not sure. But it still doesn't reaaly affect my general point

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Gaeilge Inniu

Irish Today (Gaeilge Inniu) is fundamentally changing. Gone are the days when the state was trying to change the national language to Irish. The aim of the Gaelic League has been like communism proved to be great in principle but utterly unworkable and its attempted implementation was in fact detrimental to the state. But also gone are the days that it was seen as a language of backwardness and indeed in some cases is being embraced in the form of Gaelscoils by many of the foward thinking.

The states recognition of Irish is changing. This is due to numerous reasons. One of the reasons may be that the state is now been run by a generation that grow up in the lifetime of the state. Previously many of the leaders from the pre-Haughey era grew up under British Rule. These men were revolutionaries and one of the outlets of this nationalism was the Gaelic League. The literary works that inspired them could not separate Irish speaking from the notion of an independent Irish. Thus when they were in power they enforced Irish education in the belief that it would lead to a utopian Irish nation. This forcing of the language has led to many a Leaving Cert student resenting the language and carrying this resentment into latter life. Why would some politicians not carry some of this resentment as well? Also this countries economic strength comes largely from the English speaking world. The language connection is a large part of this.

Another reason is the large amount of non-Irish now living in this country. They do not speak Irish and are thus excluded from such jobs such as the Garda Siochana and the primary teaching profession. Currently Justice Minister Michael McDowell is trying to bring in legislation to get rid of the Irish language requirement of the Gardai. This is a good step as we need a police force that represents the entire ethic makeup of the state. Without this the minorities could be ghettoised lead to higher crime rates. You only need to look to the North and Los Angles to see how a single ethic group making up the police force doesn’t work. But reading the letter pages of some papers shows that many want Irish to remain a requirement. I can’t see the reasoning behind the need for Irish. Will someone feel that their human rights have been violated when a Garda says “You can’t drink and drive” instead of “ Ni raibh tú ábalta tiomáint agus ól”.

Other areas where Irish language impinges people rights to get jobs is in NUI Galway. The collage is officially the Irish collage of the country where an Irish Proficency test is given to prospective academic staff. Though not compulsory it can be the difference between getting a position and not getting a position. This has been seen in the current case being brought by Dr Pat Morgan against the collage. A former Dean of Science in the collage was refused the position due to failing the Irish exam. An exam she had passed previously. We are trying to create a leading knowledge based country and thus need the best of the best not just the best. When a qualified person is denied for being rusty in a language that is not need to perform her duties we are shooting our selves in the foot. Hopefully the collage goes ahead with plans to change this requirement.

But what of this increased interest in Irish. Some people claim it is due to Hector “as mo bosca” Ó hEochagáin (pictured), the seemingly endless reserve of beautiful female gaeilgeoirí that TG4 seem to find and the evilness of Ros na Run’s Tadhg. But it is deeper then that. With our economic success people have realised that we could do it ourselves. That the Irish people were as able to produce an economically viable country as any other country and therefore our customs, nuances and culture are in no way inferior to any other. And thus our language is not to be dismissed as backward. Another reason is that people have travelled Europe more meeting peoples of different countries. Not only do they speak English but also there own languages. We usually only speak one language. Few of us speak multiple languages and considering we have our own the fact that we don’t speak it is felt by many as embarrassing and a national disgrace.

But these people who on the continent who speak multiple languages spend less time then us learning it. With foreign languages it can be said that the greatest language that needs to learned in the world today is English and as we speak it the need to learn a foreign language has less of an incentive. (check out disillusioned lefty for argument about Chinese). But for a language that everyone learns for about 13 years the level of proficiency is disgraceful.

The oral component of the language is really terrible. When you learn to read English you are already fairly fluent. When you learn to read Irish you have zero knowledge. You are thrown into the world of grammar without knowing the meaning of the word grammar. How many can tell an adjective from a pronoun (everyone is saying “I can”. Well I can’t so I’ll consider that to be the majorities level as well :) ) but you know what is right and wrong just by the sound of the sentence. In Irish by and large most people don’t. You apply the rules you learnt and hope you know them all. Oral Irish needs to become a vastly larger component of Irish being thought in school perhaps even the entire component for the formative years.

But what about the new cúl Irish. Some stations broadcast pop music shows in Irish. Some night clubs like Áras ná Gael in Galway have a lax Irish speaking policy that is popular. Gaelscoileann are now expanding rapidly around the country with people perceiving them to be better and liking there kids to speak Irish. The summer in the Gealtacht is the Irish teenagers right of passage. Everyone now enjoys using Irish (usually poor Irish mixed with English but still) abroad as a sort of secret code so people around you don’t know what they are saying. Maybe if John Woo makes a Windtalkers II it will be Irish speakers not Navajo Native Americans that will be the focus of the movie. Well maybe not.

As shown by most people from the Gaeltacht it is possible to be fluent in both English and Irish. We need to embrace that as a model for the rest of the country. Economically we need an English speaking country. Culturally we need the Irish language. We can have both. Maybe even the increase in people language abilities could aid students learning of other foreign languages and give student a much need additional skill a foreign language.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A European Minimum wage.

Irish Ferries are stopping to use Irish Workers as they can get cheaper workers from Eastern Europe. It is reported that these will work at 3:60 an hour which is below the Irish minimum wage. They can do this I presume as they are flying under a different flag and thus are subject to the maritime laws of that country. The reason they can work here is that they come from the Eastern Block of the EU and are thus entitled to work and live in this state. But what can the government do for them and the Irish workers of Irish Ferries. I posed this question over on Irish Corruption

One idea I can think of is to bring in a pan Europe minimum wage. This idea is just not workable. To live for a week in Ireland will cost you more then to live a week in Malta as prices differ. For any multinational paying the same wage in Malta as in Ireland is not going to be encouraged it to locate there as they can get a better educated, English speaking workforce in Ireland. These countries need to tempt these companies to setup there with the enticement of low wages and low tax. Then the extra money in the economy can be focused by the government into education to create an educated workforce that can entice companies with skilled workers rather then cheap labour. But perhaps a minimum wage that is linked to the countries consumer price index might be an option. I.e. that a person on minimum wage in Ireland should have the same purchasing power as the person on minimum wage in Poland. There is minimum wages across Europe but they differ greatly. Also there have been thought about this already

In the USA the minimum wage is about $5.15 and they have massive budget and trade deficits, high private debt and it is reported that 1 million people are feed in soup kitchens in New York. Most shockingly 30% of homeless people in the US are employed. This is not helping the economy as it is removing the lynch pin of American economic success consumer spending. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. As the rich increasingly have what they want they don’t spend but invest and save and make more. Taking more money out of the consumer markets this costs jobs and profits. This also is lead to massive private debt damaging the economy and international opinion on the strength and stability of the dollar. This is leading to many counties in the world moving away from using the US dollar as there reserve currency. This will only increase the pressure on the US economy. And indeed the dollars fall from power will be the euros gain. The fact that Germany and France are weak could be the only thing stopping the Euro taking over from the Dollar as the worlds dominate currency.

In Ireland we have the lowest unemployment in the EU with it standing at 4.3% while in Poland it stands at 18.2%. So when you have low unemployment it is all well and good for workers and unions to demand more wages but when there is plenty of people able and willing to take your job unions and workers rights can come diminished like with Irish Ferries. Thus it is required that governments and the EU come in and force a decent minimum wage on companies that is dependent on purchasing power. It can be argued that to maintain profit margins companies will up there prices lowering purchasing power resulting in a need to increase of minimum wage leading to spiralling inflation. But if purchasing power increases this will lead to an increase in demand for goods and services which will result in an increase in jobs in the manufacture of goods and the availability of services thus a decrease in unemployment, increase in living standards and an increase in profits. So maybe Ireland high minimum wage is not just a result of the Celtic Tiger but also a factor. But this is a long term result in the short term business will not able to afford the cost of the wages will go to the wall and a lot of consumer spending will go to Japanese, American and European countries and leave the country.

How will this save the workers at Irish Ferries I don’t know. I’m no economist so I don’t even know if what I said makes sense. The legal loophole that allows the company to do this is not effected by minimum wage legislation. So a pan-European minimum wage will probably not help the current workers at all. Nor will it help the next set of workers. But maybe a proper wage may help them in there own countries and mean they don’t need to emigrate for such low paid jobs. But then they will bring in someone else. There is always someone willing to take the job.

One of the buzz sayings going about these days is the race to the bottom. Where companies are moving to low wage economies to increase profits. This is a self defeating tactic if industry as a whole embrace it. If they move to low wage economies they make people unemployed in the first world countries. This decreases the money in these countries and thus the ability to buy the products that the companies that moved produce thus hurting there profits. And as the people they pay are paid less they can’t buy the products either. But if one company does this they will make a massive profit. This is the motivation behind Irish Ferries. They are in competition with the airlines and are losing for reasons I have talked about here. The only way they can survive is to adopt the low wage tactic. But if (possibly more likely, when) the likes of Ryanair adopt it. The company will be in the same position it is in now and go to the wall. Companies need to realise the race to the bottom is not in there interest. But if they do then the likelihood of the eastern block countries getting these industries diminishes. This doesn’t solve there problems and we are back at square one where the eastern block countries are improvised and having people who will work for less then there Irish counterparts leading to another race to the bottom. Where all jobs both unskilled and skilled will race towards minimum wage. Ah economics does my head in give me Quantum Physics any day.

By the way if you wish to by the album Minimum Wage Songs from Hamburgerology. I found the image here

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bus Eireann

What have Bus Eireann against time. Of all the bus Eireann buses I have been on the clock is never set correctly. Also my local bus service is always dirty and rarely on time. People in power wonder why people don'’t use public transport well does kind of things are what turn people away from the bus service. The fact that a single costs more then half a return is also is a factor that turns people away. In Galway the service is not on a fixed schedule if you turn up to a bus stop with out a time table you will not know if a bus is going to be there in 5 minutes or over an hour. Also if you go to a bus stop to look at the time table, is there one? Rarely in my experiences is that the case anywhere in the country. Also in Limerick if you want to get a City Bus from the Train Station is the bus stop out side the train station?. No not even in one place but in many areas scattered around the city depending on the direction in which you are travelling. So if you are new to the city you have to find your way to William Street, O'’Connell Street, Henry Street or Arthur'’s Quay. Now if you are with heavy luggage you have 2 options 1.) Are you going to carry it all the way down there if you kind find you way (remember some tourists and migrants might not have enough English to ask for directions and there is no maps I'’ve ever seen telling you where to go if you don'’t know the way) 2.) Are you going to get a taxi. I guess number 2 unless you are canÂ’t afford it in which case welcome to Ireland of the unequal. The only solution I see is to privatise the bus service and perform a radical over haul of the company. The main argument against this is I presume that the local services would not be run. But if my local rural service is anything to go by then there is certainly a market for it even though the fares charged are extortionate and it is cheaper to make the trip in car in most cases. Why those that give any incentive to use public transport. Thus the people left on the bus are the poor, old and the young who can'’t afford a car. Yet again the poor take the hits in the Ireland of 2005 justifying IrelandÂ's position on the Human Poverty Index as the second worst in the 18 industrialized nations. Also what can they say about keeping unprofitable routes when the bus route from a medium size town like Thurles which has the population to support such a route as it serves as a commuter centre for Limerick consists of a change in Cahir and a 3:15 hour journey.(By car it takes just under an hour) Bus Eireann now has a virtual monopoly on most routes. It has the buses, the name and the advertising budget to out muscle competition. This leaves them open to offer what ever fair they wish. The benefits of privatising the routes can be seen on the Cork-Dublin and Belfast-Dublin route where the prices on the bus have dropped due to competition from aircoach . But competition has not fought on the Dublin-Limerick or Cork-Galway where prices are still high. Imagine what would happen if these companies and others could use the centrally based Bus Áras to park up in Dublin. We might get a decent bus network for all. But here is my tip to fight them. Next time you want to take a bus down the country. Visit the local third level collage'’s Student Union offices. They often have advertisements of private bus companies that run all over the country. It would probably be more convenient to take the car.(Don'’t start me on the trains) But take the bus the Green Party will by you a organic Soya burger as a thank you

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Other side of the Rip-off

Now a days everyone claims about the Rip-off in Ireland. When they pay €9 to go to see the latest Hollywood blockbusters they walk to their cinema seat complaining about the price of the ticket and the price of their popcorn. They point out that the popcorn is worth about 10c to make. Also the spiralling price of the pint has fuelled many a drunken nights’ conversation. This is all true in many industries there is high mark-ups and massive profits are being made. But the reason for this is that the consumers are willing to accept this. Drink consumption in this country is increasing as is the price of drink. We accept these prices and thus they increase. But the other side of consumer power is also being seen now. Nearly everyone now is booking flights online. Check out which is the cheapest way to get to their destination. They check Ryanair, Easyjet, Aer Lingus and Central Wings amounts others to find the cheapest flight. This has lead to a downturn in the amount of people using Ferries. Not only is flying usually cheaper but also people nowadays consider Barcelona more interesting then Hollyhead. To combat this, the ferry companies must reduce their prices. With all modern companies their responsibility is to the shareholders. This is modern life the company director’s jobs depended on how the shareholders feel they have helped grow the company, increase the share price and give a nice health dividend. This is what happening in the case of Irish Ferries. Many people see the management as being money grabbing well paid people. They point out that the company is still in profit and therefore is not in need in the radical restructuring that is going through. But they like the workers are trying to save there jobs. True they are a lot better paid and will never struggle to get by like many of the workers will. But the workers in Irish Ferries will never struggle to get by like the workers in Eastern Europe who would gladly take their jobs for a smaller wage. Struggle is in some part in the persons’ mind. To some not having the latest Merc is struggling, to others not have enough for a family holiday is struggling and to others not having enough to eat is struggling. So the directors are going to do what they need to keep from struggling. They are going to change the company. So who are the shareholders that they are scared of? Well Irish pension funds are vastly invested in the company. So in effect it is us. We consider it a terrible tragedy that a company would be so callous in dealing with its loyal workers and call on the government to do something. We think that an Irish company flying a flag of convenience is akin to some sort of treason. We complain that we are in a race to the bottom. But are we willing to suffer a lost in the value of pension funds and also will to pay a higher price to get the boat to Wales. Another example of this can be seen with the fall in Irish Clothes factories and clothes shops and yet by clothes made in Bangladesh in H & M as they are cheaper then Irish clothes from Irish shops. We have to realise that if we want cheap prices. We have to be willing to realise that some of our neighbours will suffer for us to get what we define as value for money.