Saturday 13th February 2016

Garda may be issued with new weapons after Dublin killings

Heightened Garda presence in city as first of two funerals takes place on Monday

  

Armed detectives and specialist units including the ERU will form part of the operation to deter any further attacks around the funerals.

Members of the specialist Garda unit leading the response to armed crime gangs are seeking new weapons that would give it some of the capabilities of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and Regional Support Unit (RSU).

Members of the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau are concerned they are not properly equipped to deal with the volatile criminals they encounter during searches and other anti-gang operations.

And after two significant factions launched separate gun attacks over the last eight days that left four men wounded, two of them fatally, sources said members of the bureau want “immediate progress” on their demands.

They are requesting taser stun guns and MP7 high velocity personal defence weapons.

In a statement issued through Garda headquarters, the force said its firearms capability was being considered.

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“As part of a wider programme An Garda Síochána is currently reviewing its armed capacity and response capability,” the statement said.

Powerful firearms. 

While the MP7s are powerful firearms that can pierce armour. Sources say the stun guns – used to subdue violent criminals – were likely to be used more often. Members of the bureau have already been trained to use tasers but have not been provided with them, unlike the ERU and RSU.

Gardaí are to begin mounting a heightened security operation this evening in a bid to minimise the risk of further gun attacks around the funerals of David Byrne and Eddie Hutch.

Father-of-two David Byrne, who was killed at the Regency Hotel, Drumcondra, eight days ago is to be waked and his parents’ home in Crumlin tomorrow evening ahead of his funeral on Monday.

Garda sources said a security operation would need to be put in place in the south inner city on Monday morning and into the afternoon, when Mr Byrne’s funeral mass takes place at St Nicholas of Myra Church, Francis Street, before burial at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold’s Cross.

There was concern in Garda circles last night that social occasions around the funeral may give rise to more violence.

A high-visibility presence of unarmed uniformed gardaí along with armed detectives and specialist units including the ERU will form part of the operation to deter any further attacks. The Public Order Unit, or riot squad, was also expected to be on standby.

The boxing weigh-in?

Mr Byrne (33) was shot dead when a group of armed men, some dressed in Garda special operations-style uniforms and carrying AK 47s, burst into a boxing tournament weigh-in the Regency Hotel last Friday, February 4th.

As two Independent News & Media journalists remained away from their homes under threat from one of the feuding gangs, NewsBrands Ireland, representing 16 national newspaper titles, said it “vigorously condemned” the threats.

It said journalists “perform a hugely important function in helping society to value truth . . . It is vital that all journalists working for a free press are enabled to carry out their duties without fear and intimidation.”

A Cork Bishop urges voters to question candidates on Eight Amendment

Some using life limiting conditions to push for abortion on wider grounds, cleric warns

 

The Bishop of Cork and Ross John Buckley.

A Catholic bishop has urged voters to question all general election candidates about their views and voting intentions on repealing the Eighth Amendment to allow for abortion in certain circumstances such as fatal foetal abnormality.

Bishop of Cork and Ross Dr John Buckley said it was sad that a child’s life-limiting condition was being used by some candidates in the forthcoming general election to promote an agenda of those who seek to legalise abortion on much wider grounds.

In the first intervention by a Catholic bishop in the general election campaign, Bishop Buckley said that “candidates in the election should be questioned politely but firmly not just on their future intentions but on their past record.”

Bishop Buckley said there would be frequent references in the debate to “fatal foetal abnormalities” but the word “fatal” was misleading since there was “no medical evidence where a doctor can predict, with certainty, the lifespan of babies before they are born.”

“The term ‘incompatible with life’, which is also used, is a hurtful phrase since it implies that a baby’s life is worthless… parents often say that the time they have with their baby, however short, is very precious,” he said.

Bishop Buckley said the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act (2013) introduced by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition “directly targeted the life of the unborn child and did so in the full knowledge that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal feelings”.

In the context of abortion, the Catholic Church teaches it is wrong to confuse the necessary medical treatment to save the life of a mother and which does not intend to harm the baby with abortion which deliberately takes the life of a child, he said.

Late last year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he would convene a constitutional convention to examine repealing the Eighth Amendment, which would give equal right to life to a mother and her unborn child, and would allow a free vote if the convention proposed repeal.

Meanwhile, Labour has included repeal of the Eighth Amendment as part of its election manifesto even though last May it voted against a bill proposed byRuth Coppinger of the Socialist Party calling for the deletion of the Eighth Amendment to allow legislation on abortion.

Last November, Labour Senator Ivana Bacik enunciated Labour’s policy, explaining that the party’s proposals would allow for abortion under four medically certified grounds -risk to life, risk to health, cases of rape and case of fatal foetal abnormality.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin recently said that his party would not be initiating the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

He said it was a sensitive issue and he would favour the setting up of an all party committee to “tease out the various issues”.

Sinn Féin voted at its Ard Fheis in March 2015 in favour of allowing abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities and voted for the deletion of the Eighth Amendment when proposed by Ruth Coppinger in the Dáil last May.

Renua, whose leader Lucinda Creighton resigned as a Fine Gael minister of state when she opposed the suicide clause in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill in 2013, has said it is open to a referendum on abortion.

Meanwhile, a number of individual Fine Gael TDs including both the former and current Ministers for Health James Reilly and Leo Varadkar have both indicated that they would favour repeal of the Eighth Amendment .

Fianna Fáil spokesman on health Billy Kelleher said he would be happy if the Eighth Amendment was deleted and replaced with legislation outside of the constitution as long as the new law was strict and allowed abortion in only limited circumstances.

Irish Life’s profits up by 11% last year to €204 million

Pension and investment firm contributed €204m to its Canadian parent last year

   

Bill Kyle, Chief Executive, Irish Life Group: “(33%) one in three Irish adults has some savings with us and we manage 15% of personal assets in Ireland.”

Irish Life contributed €204 million in profit last year to its Canadian parent company, Great-West Lifeco, according to full year results just published. This was an increase of 11% on 2014.

For the three months to the end of December, Irish Life produced a profit of €77 million, a year-on-year increase of 57%.

Commenting on the results, Bill Kyle, Irish Life’s chief executive, said: “Our business continues to grow. Irish Life now has €64 billion of assets under management, more than one million customers and 2,300 employees.

“One in three Irish adults has some savings with us and we manage 15% of personal assets in Ireland.”

Mr Kyle said a highlight of the fourth-quarter performance was the success of Irish Life’s Empower pension programme for corporate businesses. It signed up five new large clients representing more than 7,000 members, €500 million in assets and €50 million in annual premium flow.

On January 27th, ratings agency Fitch upgraded Irish Life’s to ‘AA’ from ‘AA-’. This upgrade reflected Fitch’s view that Irish Life has become “core” to its Canadian parent.

“We are particularly pleased that Fitch noted that Great-West Lifeco’s acquisition of Irish Life has been well managed and has provided the company with critical scale in the Irish market as well as operational synergies and expense savings,” Mr Kyle said.

Looking for a healthy way to lose some weight? Then eat some breakfast

 V  V 

Eating breakfast may not only make people, especially obese, lose weight but can also make them more physically active and reduce food intake later in the day, reveals a study.
According to the team, increasing activity can improve health in sedentary people making them more active by controlling their blood sugar levels.

“Despite many people offering opinions about whether or not you should eat breakfast, to date, there has been a lack of rigorous scientific evidence showing  ..
or whether, breakfast might cause changes in our health,” said lead researcher James Betts from the University of Bath in Britain.

The results highlight some of these impacts, but “how important” breakfast is still really depends on the individual and their own personal goals, Betts added.

The team wanted to study the possible links between breakfast, body weight and health.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers split obese  ..
The “breakfasting” group was asked to eat at least 700 calories by 11 a.m., which the first half of the group consumed within at least two hours of waking up. The fasting group was allowed only water until noon.

“For example, if weight loss is the key, there is little to suggest that just having breakfast or skipping it will matter. However, based on other markers of a healthy lifestyle like being more active or controlling blood sugar levels, then there is evidence that breakfast may help,” Betts noted.
It is important to bear in mind that not everybody responds in the same way to breakfast and that not all breakfasts are equal.

“The effects of a sugary cereal compared to a high-protein breakfast are likely to be quite different,” said Enhad Chowdhury, another researcher.

Some 150,000 penguins perish after a giant iceberg traps Antarctica colony

    

  • 150,000 penguins have died after an iceberg ran aground in Antarctica

  • The massive iceberg collided into the bay in 2010

About 150,000 penguins have died since being stranded by a vast iceberg that became lodged off the coast of Antarctica six years ago, according to the journal Antarctic Science.

Combined with expanding ice, the B09B iceberg, which at 1,120 square miles is almost the size of Rhode Island, has cut off the Adelie penguins’ food supply and changed the landscape of their home, according to a February report in the peer-reviewed journal published by Cambridge University Press.

The towering mass of water ice first ran aground into the penguins’ habitat of Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay in 2010. Before that it was floating along the coast for nearly 20 years before colliding into the bay. The iceberg essentially has landlocked the penguins, forcing the animals to trek across a desolate stretch of nearly 40 miles to find food.

Strength in numbers – Adelies are one of the most abundant of the penguin species. They can be found in large colonies and on icebergs and coastal areas in Antarctica waters.

Reduced habitat – Adelie penguins face the same climate change dangers as emperors, such as reduced habitat and a diminishing food supply. However, due to their larger population, they’re currently less at risk.

South polar skua – The south polar skua is the Adelie’s only land predator. It will attempt to steal penguin eggs and attack young chicks. Penguins work together to fight off the vicious skuas.

African penguin – The warmer climes of coastal South Africa and Namibia are home to the African or jackass penguin. Boulders Beach near Cape Town, South Africa, is a popular destination for penguin spotting.

Homebodies – Unlike the highly mobile penguins in Antarctica, African penguins breed, nest and feed in the same area instead of traveling hundreds of miles between sites. They build nests under boulders or bushes or burrows dug from their own guano.

Endangered species – African penguins are listed as an endangered species. Their decreasing population is spurred by loss of nesting grounds due to guano removal by humans, as well as a decreasing food supply as a result of overfishing.

Little penguins – The little penguin, also known as the fairy or blue penguin, can be found on the coasts of New Zealand and southern Australia. They’re the smallest of all penguins, weighing just a kilo or two and topping out at just over 30 centimeters tall.

Penguin Awareness – Around the globe, penguins are at risk of extinction due to overfishing and man-made changes to their breeding grounds.

Emperor penguins – There are 17 species of penguin, with emperor penguins being the largest. They weigh up to 45 kilos (100 pounds) and grow to 120 centimeters (48 inches) tall. These three are pictured on sea ice at McMurdo Sound in Antarctica.

Where to spot them – Emperors can be seen along the coast of Antarctica. Breeding colonies are often the destination for cruises and scenic flights. Penguin species can also be spotted in South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

Climate change – As with most polar species, penguins are feeling the effects of climate change. Ice melt is changing their breeding grounds and overfishing and ocean acidification is affecting their food sources of fish, squid and krill.

That waddle – Emperors have an awkward, waddling gait on land, but are graceful in the water. These birds can dive more than 550 meters (1,800 feet) and stay under for up to 20 minutes.

Adelie penguins – Less than half the size of an emperor penguin, Adelie penguins are one of the smallest of the Antarctic penguin species. Each October, they build nests of rocks on land near open water.

Strength in numbers – Adelies are one of the most abundant of the penguin species. They can be found in large colonies and on icebergs and coastal areas in Antarctica waters.

Reduced habitat – Adelie penguins face the same climate change dangers as emperors, such as reduced habitat and a diminishing food supply. However, due to their larger population, they’re currently less at risk.

South polar skua – The south polar skua is the Adelie’s only land predator. It will attempt to steal penguin eggs and attack young chicks. Penguins work together to fight off the vicious skuas.

African penguin – The warmer climes of coastal South Africa and Namibia are home to the African or jackass penguin. Boulders Beach near Cape Town, South Africa, is a popular destination for penguin spotting.

Homebodies – Unlike the highly mobile penguins in Antarctica, African penguins breed, nest and feed in the same area instead of traveling hundreds of miles between sites. They build nests under boulders or bushes or burrows dug from their own guano.

Endangered species – African penguins are listed as an endangered species. Their decreasing population is spurred by loss of nesting grounds due to guano removal by humans, as well as a decreasing food supply as a result of overfishing.

Little penguins – The little penguin, also known as the fairy or blue penguin, can be found on the coasts of New Zealand and southern Australia. They’re the smallest of all penguins, weighing just a kilo or two and topping out at just over 30 centimeters tall.

Penguin Awareness – Around the globe, penguins are at risk of extinction due to overfishing and man-made changes to their breeding grounds.

Emperor penguins – There are 17 species of penguin, with emperor penguins being the largest. They weigh up to 45 kilos (100 pounds) and grow to 120 centimeters (48 inches) tall. These three are pictured on sea ice at McMurdo Sound in Antarctica.

Where to spot them – Emperors can be seen along the coast of Antarctica. Breeding colonies are often the destination for cruises and scenic flights. Penguin species can also be spotted in South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

Climate change – As with most polar species, penguins are feeling the effects of climate change. Ice melt is changing their breeding grounds and overfishing and ocean acidification is affecting their food sources of fish, squid and krill.

That waddle – Emperors have an awkward, waddling gait on land, but are graceful in the water. These birds can dive more than 550 meters (1,800 feet) and stay under for up to 20 minutes.

Adelie penguins – Less than half the size of an emperor penguin, Adelie penguins are one of the smallest of the Antarctic penguin species. Each October, they build nests of rocks on land near open water.

Strength in numbers – Adelies are one of the most abundant of the penguin species. They can be found in large colonies and on icebergs and coastal areas in Antarctica waters.

The once 160,000-strong colony has now dwindled to 10,000 penguins.

“The arrival of iceberg B09B in Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica… has dramatically increased the distance Adélie penguins breeding at Cape Denison must travel in search of food,” said researchers in the report.

Since 2011, the colony’s population has fallen dramatically, according to the Climate Change Research Center at Australia’s University of New South Wales.

The outlook for the Cape Denison Adelie penguins remains dire. Unless the colossal iceberg is broken up by sea ice, scientists predict the colony will disappear in 20 years.

About 5,500 pairs are still breeding in the area, but there has been a significant decline in their population compared with a century ago, according to estimates based on satellite images and a census in 1997.

However, it isn’t the end for all Adelie penguins. About five miles from the Commonwealth Bay, another colony is thriving, which leaves scientists to conclude that the iceberg has had a direct impact of the species that is now landlocked. About 30% of the Adelie penguin population lives in East Antarctica.

Research on the iceberg’s impact on the Adelie penguins can give scientists insight into the wider implications on the effects of increasing sea ice in the area.

Long-term environmental changes are projected for the Southern Ocean, which will likely affect marine predators, according to a 2015 report published the peer-reviewed journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. Environmental shifts because of climate change could also affect the breeding habitats of land creatures, finding food in a marine environment and the availability of prey for larger predators

Deglaciation, the gradual melting of glaciers, is a key driver in the Adelie penguins’ population over a millennium, according to scientists. But while changes in sea ice can directly affect the species, scientists say it’s important to keep perspective on the penguins’ population over a larger time frame.

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