News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 16th November 2105

Double standard in responses to terrorist attacks is condemned

The outpouring of empathy in the West for France has caused resentment in other places


Egyptians light candles as the French and Egyptian flags and France’s national colours are projected onto one of the pyramids at Giza, outside Cairo, in tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks. The words on the pyramid read: “Solidarity with France”.

Egypt lit the Giza pyramids on Sunday night with the colours of the flags of both Franceand Russia in solidarity with the victims of Islamic State attacks that killed 129 people in Paris and 224 passengers on a Russian civilian airliner flying from Sharm al-Sheikhto St Petersburg.

Cairo’s effort followed the flood lighting of iconic landmarks in the US, Australia,Mexico, Mumbai and many other cities with the red, white and blue of the French tricolour.

The Egyptian event could also, however, have been seen as a rebuke to the international community for failing to mourn and express solidarity with Russia over its losses and pain.

The shock delivered to western sensibilities by the Paris atrocities and the outpouring of grief and empathy with victims has rekindled feelings in the Middle East, Africa andAsia that a double-standard applies to responses to terrorist attacks.

US president Barack Obama made this all too clear when he dubbed the Paris onslaught an “attack on all humanity” but said nothing about the Beirut bombings the evening before Paris was hit.


Ali, a Lebanese resident of south Beirut where two Islamic State suicide bombers killed 45 civilians, said the West dismissed this event, the most bloody in Lebanon in years, since it involved Arabs in a war-prone region. “Arab lives don’t matter,” was his response. Palestinians consulted took the same view.

A Lebanese blogger, Elie Fares, wrote on his blog, A Separate State of Mind: “When my people were blown to pieces on the streets of Beirut on November 12th, the headlines read: explosion in Hizbollah stronghold,” dismissing the dead for living in this poor, densely packed locality.

World leaders, he added, did not rise in condemnation. “There were no statements of sympathy with the Lebanese people. There was no global outrage . . . Obama did not issue a statement about how their death was a crime against humanity.

“When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colours of their flag.”

Solidarity was not shown for Iraqis on Friday when 26 were killed by roadside bombs targeting Shias.

Since the rise of Islamic State, Baghdad has suffered nearly daily attacks, killing thousands.

Indian blogger Karuna Ezara Parikh, whose father grew up in Beirut, responded to the double standard with a poem: “It is not Paris we should pray for. It is the world. It is a world in which Beirut, reeling from bombings [one day] before Paris, is not covered in the press. A world in which a bomb goes off at a funeral in Baghdad and not one person’s status update says, ‘Baghdad’, because not one white person died in that fire.”

Although US president Barack Obama offered condolences to his Turkish counterpart,Recep Tayyip Erodogan, last weekend, global empathy was absent on October 10th when 102 Turks, most of them secular leftists and Kurds, were killed by Islamic State bombers at a peace rally in Ankara.

Limited reaction

Kenyans responded to the Paris attacks on Twitter and Facebook by comparing the outpouring in response to Paris to the limited global reaction to the April killing of 147 students at Garissa University College. The contrast has been blamed on Kenya being a third-world country.

Mumbai lit up its train station with France’s red, white and blue on Sunday, reviving Indian fears of another terrorist attack like the 2008 assault by 10 Pakistani-affiliated gunmen who murdered 164 at the station and other prime sites. As well as being galled by the disparity in world reaction to the two cases, Indians saw the Mumbai assault as a model for Paris and castigated global powers for failing to deal with fundamentalist terrorism at that time.

Irish Government announces regional jobs strategy for the west

Plan will seek to achieve increase of 25% in number of start-ups


The Government has announced details of a regional jobs strategy that it says will generate 25,000 extra jobs.

The West Action Plan for Jobs aims to deliver 10-15 per cent employment growth inMayo, Roscommon and Galway before 2017.

The plan is the fifth of eight regional jobs plans to be published over the coming months, as part of a new €250 million regional jobs strategy.

A statement from the Government said that following “several difficult years” since the crash, employment in the west “has returned to growth” with 5,000 extra people at work over the past twelve months. During the years 2008-2011, some 400 jobs were lost in the region.

Key sectors targeted as part of the plan include agri-food, tourism, medtech, ICT and pharma.

The plan will seek to achieve an increase of at least 25 per cent in the number of start-ups in the region, and a 25 per cent improvement in the survival rate of new businesses.

It will also seek to create a “food innovation hub” in the region, and generate 540 extra jobs in Gaeltacht regions in life sciences, mariculture and food.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the plan represented “a clear pathway to unlock the potential of the region”.

“No single agency can bring jobs to a region,” he said. “This takes collaboration and that is at the heart of this plan.

“Local enterprise offices, tourism bodies, agri-food bodies and the national enterprise agencies will all work with local stakeholders to provide the best supports possible to help enterprise invest in the west.”

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton said the west of the country “has faced major problems” over recent years.

“Between 2008 and 2011 27,400 jobs were lost in the region, almost 60 per cent of these in the construction sector alone,” he said. “Emigration skyrocketed. However in recent years the region has bounced back, with 5,000 jobs created in the last year.”

Minister promises 10 times more social houses by year end

More than 300 beds will be available over the Christmas, Kelly tells homeless forum


The Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly: “Anybody who wants a bed over this Christmas period will get it.” Photograph: Eric Luke

The number of social houses built will increase tenfold by the end of the year, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has said.

He was speaking following a homeless forum at the Department of the Environment on Monday which was held to discuss winter preparedness for those in the homeless sector.

It comes just weeks before the first anniversary of the death of homeless man Jonathan Corrie, near Leinster House. His death on December 1st 2014 gave rise to widespread calls for more urgent action on the needs of rough sleepers.

Mr Kelly confirmed only 20 social houses had been built in the first half of 2015. However, he said: “I can assure you that will increase substantially by the end of the year. It will be ten times higher.

Announcing more sites

“The issue here is that the volume of sites is in excess of 200. Myself and Minister [Paudie] Coffey will be announcing a lot more sites in the coming weeks.”

Mr Kelly said €4 billion has been allocated to local authorities to build social houses but they cannot be built overnight.

The Minister insisted the department was “quite happy” with the turnaround by the councils. He said anybody who wanted a bed by Christmas would have one. “There will be over 300 beds available for anyone sleeping rough. Anybody who wants a bed over this Christmas period will get it.”

Charities working with the homeless were cautiously positive after the forum. Niamh Randall, head of policy with the Simon Communities, however said she remained “very concerned about the future”.

“We have concerns about the numbers [of homeless] growing month by month. The numbers stuck in emergency accommodation are growing.”

While the rent certainty measures announced last week would offer some stability, rent supplement rates remained too low. “So we are going to see more people pushed out of their rented homes into homelessness.”

Mike Allen, director of advocacy with Focus Ireland, said there was now no reason not to increase rent supplement, given the two-year “rent freeze” announced last week.

Bob Jordan, chief executive of Threshold, said the charity was getting between 40 and 50 calls a day from tenants concerned about rent increases.

Alice Leahy, founder of Trust, which works with rough sleepers, said she felt “the Department and the Minister really are doing a very good job, in very challenging times”.

Other issues

“People will die on the streets because of their lifestyle,” she said. “People won’t change because we want them to change. Some people won’t go into emergency beds . . . The beds will be there. So if people die on the streets there are other issues, because homelessness is extremely complex.”

A new clever device to help you find your keys is coming to EE stores


Misplacing your keys, a wallet or mobile phone is pretty much an everyday occurrence for most of us these days, but EE has something to say about that.

The network operator has teamed up with a device called the TrackR Bravo – a coin-sized tracking device that can be attached to objects to help you locate them. The mobile carrier is to start selling the devices in their retail stores.

As the video shows, the attachable syncs to your smartphone via an app, and can give you location information as well as ring in order to help you find those misplaced keys.

The Crowd GPS feature is an interesting aspect too; enabling users to log in and track items they lose outside. If you activate this feature, you can use other TrackRs to find your belongings; any TrackR user who comes within a mile of your item will cause the app to alert you.

If you happen to be particularly prone to losing things, you can buy packs of two or four TrackRs, as well as a single unit. Those cost £24.99, a pair is £44.99 and four will cost you £79.99.

For the peace of our mind it might be worth it.

An Indian takeaway has more calories than an entire daily allowance

Most meals contain enough food for two people, A new research finds.


The average portion size of a chicken tikka masala main course contained 1,249 calories, almost two-thirds of the guideline daily amount (GDA).

Eating a typical Indian takeaway meal of a starter, main course and pilau rice can contain far more calories than an adult’s total daily requirements, new research has found.

A study of 280 Indian food samples from 36 outlets across Ireland has found that many Indian meals contain enough food for two people with approximately twice their recommended maximum level of fat and high levels of salt.

The research has been carried out by Ulster University on behalf of Safefood, the food safety promotion board. The survey analysed 280 Indian food samples from 36 outlets across the island of Ireland.

The average portion of chicken tikka masala contained 1,249 calories, almost two-thirds of the guideline daily amount (GDA) of 2,000 calories. A chicken korma had almost the same amount of calories (1,248) while a chicken jalfrezi had 721 calories.

The average portion of rice contained enough for two people and an average portion of pilau rice contained almost 500 calories.

Of the side dishes surveyed, the average portion of peshwari naan bread contained 748 calories.

All starter dishes contained one third of an adult’s GDA for salt and all main courses tested contained more than half of an adults’ total guideline daily amount of salt (6g).

The top three most popular main courses identified were Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Korma and Chicken Jalfrezi.

Commenting on the research, Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director of Human Health & Nutrition with safefood said traditional meals in India are low in fat and high in fibre, but the ones adopted in Ireland contain foods high in fat and salt and serving bigger portions.

“These dishes have become very popular, but the Indian dishes tested in this survey were less than healthy.”

Lead researcher Ruth Price of Ulster University advised people not to stop eating takeaway foods, but to “consider consuming them less often and in moderation, by either choosing smaller portions, sharing portions or limiting the added extras such as starters and side orders.”

Safefood has recommended that the public consider Indian takeaway meals as an occasional food and one portion should ideally be shared between two people.

Shop-bought options instead of takeaway are recommended as they are generally smaller in size and have fewer calories, as well as less fat and salt.

Choose boiled rice over pilau rice and share the portion of rice as the average portion provided enough for two people. Consider not eating both a portion of naan bread and rice, unless they are shared.

Minimise the intake of sauces as they are usually high in calories, fat and salt. Add extra vegetables to your meal instead.

The DNA from Inca child mummy reveals early genetic diversity


Back in 1985, near the border between Argentina and Chile, mountaineers stumbled on a frozen body partially buried on Aconcagua, the world’s tallest peak outside of Asia.

The boy, 6 or 7 years old, had been wrapped in cloth and buried surrounded by a number of small statues; he is believed to have been sacrificed in a ritual ceremony some five centuries ago by members of the Inca civilization. Recently, when Spanish researchers extracted and analyzed the boy’s DNA, they found he had a rare genetic code that has virtually disappeared from the population of modern South America.

At the time Spanish conquistadores arrived in 1532, the Inca Empire stretched along the South American coast from Ecuador to south-central Chile. According to Spanish chronicles, the Inca religion included the practice of capacocha, in which some of the healthiest and most beautiful young members of the population were chosen to become sacrifices to the gods. In many cases, these children were taken to high mountain peaks, considered to be closer to the realm of the gods. Once there, they were either killed or simply left to die of exposure.

In a new study, published last week in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of researchers explains that capacocha rituals “were performed during or after important events (death of an emperor, the birth of a royal son, a victory in battle or an annual or biennial event in the Inca calendar), or in response to catastrophes (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and epidemics).” Their study focuses on one of these sacrificed children: a 6- or 7-year-old boy whose frozen, naturally mummified body was found high in the Andes in 1985.

After Spanish geneticists extracted mitochondrial DNA (which is passed from mother to child) from a small portion of the boy’s lung, they compared his genetic information with hundreds of thousands of samples held in a genetic database. They found only four matches: one individual of the ancient Wari Empire, dominant in the Andes from A.D. 500 to 1100, before the Inca heyday, and three modern-day people living in Peru and Bolivia. The Inca boy’s DNA identified him as part of a previously unknown offshoot of an ancient Native American lineage, which was one of the first to emerge among the humans who crossed the Bering Strait and spread into North and South America some 18,000 years ago.

Though the boy’s genetic profile is extremely rare today, the researchers say it was likely more common at the time of the Incas. As much as 90 percent of the native South American population perished after the Spanish conquest, mostly from epidemics of influenza and other diseases brought from the Old World; it makes sense that a great deal of genetic diversity would have been lost as well. As lead researcher Antonio Salas, a geneticist at University of Santiago de Compostela, told BBC News: “It is well-known that the effective population size was severely reduced at the arrival of the Spanish conquerors….An important amount of the variability of these populations could have disappeared at the time of this contact.”

The new study is the first to analyze the complete mitochondrial DNA of an Inca mummy. Salas now plans to sequence the boy’s complete nuclear genome, as well as the DNA of microbes found in his gut. According to him, the boy’s mummified body is extremely valuable for research purposes due to its well-preserved condition, as well as its “unique anthropological characteristics.”

In addition to the most recent DNA information, the Inca boy’s body has also yielded gruesome insight into the practice of child sacrifice among the Inca. Archaeologists found that he was strangled and died from a blow to the head. They also found evidence that he consumed achiote, a dye that can act as a hallucinogen, before his death. Similarly, a 2013 study of three other frozen mummies found in Argentina revealed that alcohol and drugs played a role in such child sacrifices.

The strikingly well-preserved bodies of a 13-year-old girl and two younger children, a boy and a girl both 4 or 5 years old, were found buried in 1999 in a shrine near the summit of the Llullaillaco volcano. When an international team of researchers analyzed the chemicals found in the children’s hair, they found that all three had consumed alcohol and coca leaves (from which cocaine is extracted) in the months before their deaths.


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