Tag Archives: Aer Lingus

News Ireland daily BLOG

Tuesday 18th August 2015

Renua Ireland not copying Fianna Fáil’s policies


The Renua Ireland deputy leader Billy Timmins has denied the party is “ripping off” Fianna Fáil policies.

Responding to accusations from Fianna Fáil’s jobs spokesperson Dara Calleary that Renua was sneakily repackaging the party’s ideas as its own, Mr Timmins said the two organisations could work together in government as they had such similar outlooks.

Making light of the allegations of plagiarism as he launched Renua’s drive to open up the pre-budget process, Mr Timmins declared: “I was going to say we are now going to launch policy number 41 belonging to Fianna Fáil! Fianna Fáil were in government for a long period in time. I thought they would have had all progressive policies implemented.

“When we launched the party on March 13 we had 16 policies. Three of them have been launched since in a fanfare by government. It may have been coincidental or it may have been otherwise but we don’t care once it’s progressive and once policies are implemented,” Mr Timmins said.

He said he would not close the door on a post-election coalition with Fianna Fáil, stating: “And according to Dara Calleary we are singing off the same hymn sheet anyway.”

Mr Timmins also joked about his party’s poor showing in the opinion polls, saying the rise from 1% to 2% in the latest survey showed a “100% increase”. “Maths wasn’t always my strong point but we were 1%, we went to two, so that’s 100% increase. If it goes up incrementally then we’ll be up to 4% next month and we’ll be somewhere around 16% come the election.

“On a serious note the way I look at it is politicians are unpopular at the moment, particularly political parties.

“Until such a time as the election is called — be that this October, be it next February — the public’s mind won’t concentrate on what they’re going to do with their vote,” Mr Timmins said.

The Wicklow TD said that voters had not fully engaged with how to vote in the next general election, as on current polling the most likely outcome would be a Sinn Féin/Fianna Fáil coalition, but he did not expect that to happen on polling day as the electorate would be more focused on the future then.

The TD was speaking as he launched Renua’s ‘Better Budgets and Modern Governance’ policy which includes a four-point plan to improve the “amateur” budgetary process.

Under the proposed changes, Dáil committees would be given legal powers of budgetary scrutiny as well as an oversight role.

Branding the current budgetary process as a “seasonal soap opera”, Mr Timmins called for a major overhaul of procedures.

“The budgetary process is a rubber-stamping exercise in which neither government TDs nor the opposition have any opportunity to contribute or exert influence. It does not serve the public interest and it needs to be modernised,” the TD said.

Renua also wants training and technical advisory support to help Oireachtas members carry out their duties more effectively on committees.

Mr Timmins said Renua would rule out any post-election deal with Sinn Féin.

Aer Lingus joins IAG as shareholders approve deal

End of an era as airline waves goodbye to Irish ownership


Aer Lingus will continue to fly with a shamrock on its tail but it will no longer have an Irish owner as it joins the British-Spanish group IAG.

It’s the end of an era as more than 95% of Aer Lingus shareholders vote in favour of an acquisition by British Airways owner IAG, thus formally bringing to an end almost 80 years of state involvement in the airline.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, IAG said that its €1.5bn acquisition of the Irish airline “is now wholly unconditional”, following the submission of Ryanair’s acceptance. The significance of this announcement is that the sale of Aer Lingus is now irreversible.

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “We’d like to welcome Aer Lingus into IAG. It will remain an iconic Irish brand with its base and management team in Ireland but will now grow as part of a strong, profitable airline group. This means new routes and more jobs benefiting customers, employees and the Irish economy and tourism”.

On Tuesday, the deadline by which shareholders had to vote, Ryanair submitted its form of acceptance, bringing shareholder approval for the deal above the 95% mark. IAG can now enforce compulsory purchase of the remaining amount.

Shareholders who accepted the offer by Tuesday’s deadline of 1pm, will be paid on or before 1 September 1st 2015. Shareholders will receive a cash payment of € 2.50 for each share held, and a cash dividend payment of 5 cents per share.

Those shareholders who have still not accepted the offer, can do so before the final closing date of 15.00 on September 1st 2015. They will be paid within 14 days of acceptance.

“Aer Lingus shareholders who have not yet accepted the offer are encouraged to do so without delay,” IAG said.

But there are still some steps remaining before Aer Lingus can claim to be owned by IAG. Firstly, the shareholders must receive payment, a process which is expected to take about two weeks. In addition, IAG will move to delist Aer Lingus from both the Dublin and London stock exchanges. IAG said that this will take effect “no earlier than 0800 (Irish time) on 17 September 2015”. The board of Aer Lingus must also officially resign.

AERL Holding, a subsidiary of IAG, will now acquire compulsorily any outstanding Aer Lingus shares and will then re-register Aer Lingus as a private company.

IAG first launched a €1bn bid for the airline in December 2014, which was rejected on the grounds that it “fundamentally undervalued” the airline. The group later upped its bid to €2.55 a share and ultimately succeeded in getting approval from the major shareholders in the airline, including the Government’s 29.7% stake.

The accuracy of evidence from drunk sex assault victims is not affected by intoxication

A study says

Rate of sexual assault on women between 16 and 24 four times higher than any other age


Drinks were labelled either “vodka and tonic” or “tonic water” and participants were not told the amount of alcohol they received.

The accuracy of evidence given by victims of sexual assault is not affected by alcohol intoxication, according to a British study.

Researchers at the University of Leicester found that participants who were drunk, reported fewer pieces of information about an assault but the information provided was as accurate as that of those who were sober.

Results from the research by the university’s Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour are now being applied in Britain in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service and Leicestershire police to develop national guidelines about the conduct of police interviews with intoxicated victims of sexual assault.

Eighty eight women aged between 18 and 31 were involved in the study after responding to an advertisement for “female social drinkers”.

According to the researchers the rate of sexual assault on women aged between 16 and 24 is four times higher than on any other age group

The study “Alcohol and remembering a hypothetical sexual assault: Can people who were under the influence of alcohol during the event provide accurate testimony?” was published in the journal Memory.

The research involved a placebo controlled trial to investigate the effects of alcohol on memory.

Drinks were labelled either “vodka and tonic” or “tonic water” and participants were not told the amount of alcohol they received.

A hypothetical rape scenario was described and participants read introductory information about the male portrayed including a physical description and photograph, and details about his occupation and possessions.

Participants were then presented with 24 sentences which appeared one at a time on a computer screen and they responded each based on whether or not they wished to remain in the hypothetical encounter.

The research team examined the influence of alcohol on remembering the interactive hypothetical sexual assault scenario in a laboratory setting.

All the participants completed an online memory test 24 hours later and four months later 73 per cent completed a recognition test.

Sober participants

The study indicated that participants reported less information if they were “under the influence” compared to women who were not.

But researchers found the accuracy of information from those who had been drinking did not differ from that of sober participants.

Study leader Dr Heather Flowe said “when a victim is intoxicated during the crime, questions about the accuracy of testimony are raised in the minds of criminal investigators.

“Out of these concerns, the police might forgo interviewing victims who were intoxicated during the offence. On the other hand, almost always in sexual offences, the victim is the only one who can provide information about the crime to investigators.”

Dr Flowe said a crime was unlikely to be solved without victim testimony.

“If they take into account that their memory has been impaired by alcohol, they should report information only when they believe it is likely to be accurate.

“Accordingly, intoxicated victims should report less information overall, but the accuracy of the information they do report might not be different from sober victims.”

The study was funded by Britain’s Economic and Social Research Council.

Couples trigger hunger hormone during fights,

A new study finds


Arguments are followed by a peak in the hormone that fuels hunger.

Couples are driving each other to the fridge, according to scientists who discovered an appetite-triggering hormone is released after hostile marital arguments.

A US study of “hostile” couples has revealed arguments are followed by a surge in the “I’m hungry” hormone ghrelin, as well as a link to poor food choices in period after their fighting.

The results of the University of Delaware research add weight to theories of why rejection and relationship difficulty can make people hungry.

Assistant Professor Lisa Jaremka said hostile couples had significantly higher amounts of ghrelin after -arguments, however there was no difference in levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin.

Writing in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, Prof Jaremka said the hunger ¬hormone only rose in people with a healthy weight or deemed overweight, but not in those who were obese.

“Right now, it’s one-size-fits-all — diet and exercise,” she said.

“I hope this will help us start to tailor interventions … a personalised approach would be beneficial in the long run.”

World’s oldest human-like hand bone sheds light on our evolution


Scientists have discovered the oldest known fossil of a hand bone to resemble that of a modern human, and they suggest it belonged to an unknown human relative that would have been much taller and larger than any of its contemporaries.

This new finding reveals clues about when modern humanlike hands first began appearing in the fossil record, and suggests that ancient human relatives may have been larger than previously thought, researchers say in a new study.

A key feature that distinguishes humans from all other species alive today is the ability to make and use complex tools. This capability depends not only on the extraordinarily powerful human brain, but also the dexterity of the human hand.

The OH 86 hominin manual proximal phalanx in (from left to right) dorsal, lateral, palmar (distal is top for each) and proximal views. Scale bar, 1 cm. M. Domínguez-Rodrigo

“The hand is one of the most important anatomical features that defines humans,” said study lead author Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, a paleoanthropologist at Complutense University of Madrid. “Our hand evolved to allow us a variety of grips and enough gripping power to allow us the widest range of manipulation observed in any primate. It is this manipulation capability that interacted with our brains to develop our intelligence.”

Past analysis of fossils of hominins — the group of species that consists of humans and their relatives after the split from the chimpanzee lineage — has typically suggested that ancient hominins were adapted for a life spent in the trees. For instance, ancient hominin hands often possessed curved finger bones that were well suited for hanging from branches. Modern humans are the only living higher primates to have straight finger bones.

Scientists have often suggested that modern hands evolved to use stone tools. However, recent hominin fossil discoveries have suggested a more complex story behind the evolution of the modern hand. For instance, the hand bones of some ancient hominin lineages are sometimes more similar to modern hands than those of more recent lineages are.

To learn more about the evolution of the modern hand, scientists analyzed a newly discovered hand bone dated to more than 1.84 million years ago, dug up from Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Previous excavations at Olduvai helped confirm that Africa was the cradle of humanity.

The new bone was probably part of the little finger of the adult left hand of an unidentified hominin lineage similar to Homo erectus, the first hominin known to regularly keep tools it made. The bone is about 1.4 inches (3.6 centimeters) long — “the same size as the equivalent bone in our hand,” Domínguez-Rodrigo said.

The straightness and other features of this new bone suggest adaptations for life on the ground rather than in the trees. It adds to previous findings suggesting that several key features of modern human body shape emerged very early in hominin evolution. (This unknown hominin was not, however, a modern human.)

Before this oldest known hand-bone fossil was discovered, scientists weren’t certain when hominin hands began looking like modern hands and became specialized for manipulation. “Our discovery fills a gap — we found out that such a modern-looking hand is at least 1.85 million years old,” Domínguez-Rodrigo said.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 27th May 2015

Aer Lingus sale will create jobs, so says the Minister for Transport


Opposition sharply critical of move to sell 25.1% State stake in Ireland’s airline.

Minister for Trasport Paschal Donohoe: “It is envisaged that by the end of 2016, a new net 150 jobs will have been created in Aer Lingus , rising to a new net total of 635 jobs by 2020.”

The sale of the State’s Aer Lingus share would create jobs, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe told the Dáil. “It is envisaged that by the end of 2016, a new net 150 jobs will have been created in Aer Lingus , rising to a new net total of 635 jobs by 2020,” he said.

The Minister said the Aer Lingus brand would be protected and its head office retained in Ireland. The airline would operate all its scheduled international air transport services under the Aer Lingus name, he added.

Mr Donohoe said the sale would strengthen Aer Lingus’s competitive positions, reduce risk to the company and provide it with the opportunity with a larger group to face the challenges in a changing aviation environment.

It would promote Ireland’s wider connectivity, he added, and could bring growth to our airports. It was anticipated the move would bring benefits to both Aer Lingus’s long-haul and short-haul networks within the IAG group.

“There will be a focus on sustaining and growing routes from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Knock,” Mr Donohoe added.

He said Aer Lingus was no longer our national flag carrier. That decision was taken nine years ago when 75 per cent of the shareholding was sold.

“Nor is the State the majority shareholder in the company. We own a minority 25.1 per cent shareholding and I want to use the opportunity now to maximise the benefit of that residual shareholding to put the company on a firm footing for the future while protecting key general national interests.”

Fianna Fáil spokesman Timmy Dooley said he could not get his head around the necessity, from the Minister’s perspective, to sell the remaining stake in the airline. A decision was taken in 2006 to change Aer Lingus’s semi-State status and trade it publicly, thereby ensuring it would be run on a commercial basis in the best interest of all, including workers, passengers and the country, he added.

“For the life of me, I cannot understand how the Government has failed to realise the importance of retaining the shareholding and having control, although not absolute control, over the direction of the company or an input into it,” Mr Dooley said.

Aer Lingus had successfully emerged from the worst financial crisis in the State’s history, or one of the deepest in the OECD, as a lean and growth-oriented company with very significant cash reserves to take on the kinds of challenges that would arise.

Sinn Féin spokesman Dessie Ellis said it was very sad to express an opinion on what was a done deal that nobody outside of IAG and Fine Gael wanted.

“The Government has made its decision behind the closed doors in a shrewd media operation which shows blatant disregard for the Oireachtas and its role in dealing with issues of such importance,” he added. “No matter what anyone says, the Government will seek to sell its share in Aer Lingus and the weak and cowed Labour Party members will go along with it.”

Diversity of opinion’ not welcome in mainstream political parties

Says Lucinda Creighton on Averil Power’s treatment


Lucinda Creighton left & Averil Power.

Fianna Fail’s treatment of senator Averil Power illustrates that “diversity of opinion” is not welcome in the mainstream political parties, according to former minister Lucinda Creighton.

The Renua leader today said the events surrounding Ms Power’s departure from Fianna Fáil “sums up everything I know about politics”.

And Ms Creighton admitted that her new party “wouldn’t shut the door” to Ms Power but said they have had no conversations about her joining Renua.

“To my mind it sums up everything I already know about politics or at least the old political establishment, which is that diversity of opinion on really sensitive social issues, that different people have strong opinions on, that diversity of opinion is just not welcome in the old parties,” Ms Creighton said.

“The passion of individuals like Averil Power is something to be welcomed in politics, not something to be feared. So that’s my view on the matter,” she added.

Separately today, Ms Creighton criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny over conduct towards other deputies in the Dail.

During ‘Leaders’ Questions’ today, Mr Kenny accused Independent TD Clare Daly of going on a “rant” about the proposed sale of the Government’s 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus.

Later, Ms Creighton said the Taoiseach should “show a suitable respect for our parliament”, adding that Mr Kenny spoke in a “patronising way”.

She added: “I think certainly the Taoiseach does not do himself any justice in speaking to people in that way.”

Earlier in the Dail, Ms Creighton expressed frustration after the Taoiseach did not respond to her claims that Independent TD Catherine Murphy was being “silenced” by Siteserv.

It was reported this week that Siteserv wrote to the Ceann Comhairle seeking tat the Dail record be amended to address what it described as “unfound” and “false” accusations in recent speeches by Ms Murphy.

Ms Creighton called on the Taoiseach to “reject attempts to silence members of the House” by Siteserv and businessman Denis O’Brien.

Ireland’d HSE patients are too frightened to complain ?

Warns the Ombudsman


Patients also believe complaining wouldn’t make a difference?

Irish patients are afraid to complain about how they are treated by hospitals over concerns their standard of care will be affected.

An investigation by the Ombudsman found that many people refused to lodge complains against hospital staff because they feared repercussions for themselves or their loved ones.

The report, from Ombudsman Peter Tyndall, calls for an independent complaints service for patients.

“I wonder if the tragic events seen in Aras Attracta and Portlaoise hospital could have been avoided if those complaints were dealt with properly,” he said.

A large proportion of those surveyed also believed complaining made no difference.

Speaking at the launch of the report, the Ombudsman recommended that the HSE and each hospital put an action plan in place to “ensure that people have access to an effective independent advocacy service.”

The survey was carried out because Mr Tyndall was concerned that his office was receiving fewer complaints compared to other health service ombudsmans in other countries.

“Despite the high number of interactions with our hospitals, relatively few people complain when they are unhappy with the service they receive. Compared with other jurisdictions, complaints to the HSE and to my Office are very low. I want to find out why this is,” he said in 2014.

Complaints to the ombudsman about healthcare represent 20% all complaints received. In Northern Ireland this figure is over 60%, while in the UK it is closer to 80%.

Galway locals build a raft to help swans raise their cygnets


Five cygnets have now survived

Hundreds of people in Co Galway have been following the progress of five cygnets born in Oranmore a few days ago.

Locals assisted in the process, by installing a special raft to allow a pair of swans to breed safely.

Engineer Peter Butler led the effort after hearing about how high tides had submerged the swans’ nest year after year.

Using recycled materials, including plastic bottles and wooden pallets, he designed a raft that would withstand tidal fluctuations and allow swans the 40-day window they need to hatch their eggs.

The birds took to the structure and have been nesting on it since early April.

The first cygnet hatched last week, followed by seven others since then. So far, five have survived.

Their parents have been keeping a close eye on their offspring and fending off gulls, herons and wild animals.

It has emerged that the pen, or mother swan, was herself rescued six years ago by volunteers from the local swan sanctuary.

She was cared for by Mary Joyce of the Galway and Claddagh Swan Rescue group for a number of months, before being tagged and released  in October 2009.

The organisation has appealed to people not to feed the swans or the cygnets, as they are able to fend for themselves and do not need human assistance to eat.

The baby swans will spend the next few months on the estuary at the edge of Oranmore before setting off on their own.

Locals hope to leave the raft in place to give the swans a chance to repeat their successful mating next year.

Ireland’s inbound visitor numbers show a big increase


The volume of people travelling to Ireland was significantly higher between February and April this year than the same period last year, according to official figures on Wednesday.

The figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed that an extra 212,000 trips to Ireland took place during the three-month period.

Overseas visitor numbers were 13.5% higher than between February and April 2014.

Inbound visitors primarily came from Britain and other European countries. Trips by North Americans were up 20.2%, or 237,600, in the period.

Tourism is one of Ireland’s most important economic sectors and has significant potential to play a further role in the country’s economic revival. In 2014, tourism was responsible for a 12% increase in earnings and a 9% increase in overseas visitor numbers.

For 2015, Ireland projects an increase of 6% in overseas tourists.

The Earth’s Ozone is now in Good Shape, say Scientists 

  The arctic ozone without the Montreal Protocol (left) and following its implementation (right) on 26 March 2011.

Earth’s ozone is in good shape, according to scientists, thanks to the Montreal Protocol, which has helped us avoid severe ozone depletion.

After years of dangerous depletion that left a giant hole over Antarctica, our ozone is finally recovering. Once scientists realized that bromine-containing halons and chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were eating away at the Earth’s protective layer, leaders enacted the 1987 Montreal Protocol banning such chemicals.

Now we are reaping the rewards, with the ozone layer in much better shape than it would have been without the United Nations (UN) treaty.

“Our research confirms the importance of the Montreal Protocol and shows that we have already had real benefits. We knew that it would save us from large ozone loss ‘in the future’, but in fact we are already past the point when things would have become noticeably worse,” lead author Professor Martyn Chipperfield, from theSchool of Earth & Environment at the University of Leeds, said in a press release.

Concentrations of these harmful substances can survive in the atmosphere for many years. However, the good news is that concentrations peaked in 1993 and have subsequently started shrinking.

In the new study, the researchers used a state-of-the-art 3D computer model of atmospheric chemistry to investigate what would have happened to the ozone layer if the Montreal Protocol had not been put in place.

The researchers suggest that the hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic would have grown in size by an additional 40 percent by 2013. Their model also suggests that had ozone-depleting substances continued to increase, the ozone layer would have become significantly thinner over other parts of the globe.

Such would have been the case especially during extreme events like the exceptionally cold Arctic winter of 2010-2011.

Without the Montreal Protocol, the new study reveals that a very large ozone hole over the Arctic would have occurred during that cold winter and smaller Arctic ozone holes would have become a regular occurrence.

According to the team behind this new study, scientists must continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure all potential threats to the ozone layer are mitigated.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday/Sunday 23rd & 24th May

IAG steps closer to Aer Lingus takeover

Irish government said to have received report from steering committee into proposed £1bn takeover


International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways, is taking a step closer to its £1bn takeover of Aer Lingus after the Irish government received a report by its steering committee into the deal.

The potential takeover has already been dragging on for five months after IAG initially made its approach, which was accepted by Aer Lingus in January.

However, the deal is entirely conditional on the Irish airline’s two major shareholders, rival Ryanair and the Irish government, agreeing to sell.

The Irish government, which owns a 25% stake, has delayed making a decision for months and set up a dedicated committee to review the arguments round the sale.

The state has now received the report by the expert group, which could pave the way to the Irish government announcing its backing for the deal as soon as the next cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Paschal Donohoe, the Irish transport minister, has said that the government would “take great care and exercise great caution in examining the pros and cons to Ireland” of any offer.

Dublin has previously demanded that IAG extend its guarantee to keep Aer Lingus’s 23 Heathrow landing slots focused on Irish routes for ten years.

However, Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, had told an Irish parliamentary committee that he could not offer more than five years.

The Irish government has also said that routes from Cork and Shannon must be protected. There are also concerns that guarantees could fall foul of the European Commission’s competition directorate.

Mr Walsh said last week that IAG was in “no rush” to complete the deal. “I’m perfectly relaxed about the timing. My board is very happy. Consistently I have said that this is a deal we would like to do,” he said.

Unlike UK takeover rules, there is no time limit for a bidder to make a formal offer. Ryanair has said that it will wait for a formal offer before making a decision but is widely believed to be a willing seller of its Aer Lingus stake.

Fianna Fáil claims Gerry Adams has serious questions to answers


Micheál Martin (above picture with Gerry Adams & right pic wih Mairia Cahill) says report directly contradicts Sinn Féin claims that case had no basis

Labour TD for Dublin Mid-West Joanna Tuffy said Mairia Cahill had to “go through the horror of abuse and a crude investigation and cover-up by the IRA. Her decision to highlight her case in public and lead a campaign for justice for her and other victims was inspiring

Micheál Martin said: “It’s time for Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin to own up and come clean on the scale of cover-ups and kangaroo courts.”

The independent review into how sex-abuse cases had been prosecuted in the North of Ireland has raised serious questions for Gerry Adams and the Sinn Féin leadership, Fianna Fáil has said.

Reacting to the review by Sir Keir Starmer of the manner in which the cases has been handled by the prosecution service, party leader Micheál Martin also said the report fully vindicated Belfast woman Maíria Cahill.

“Over 14 findings, the report found unacceptable delays, inadequate communication and insufficient consideration of the sequencing of the cases involved,” he said. “The report vindicates Maíria Cahill, who bravely stood up to ongoing abuse and spin by Sinn Féin.

“Consistent claims by Sinn Féin that the court case had found all suspects not guilty have been given their proper context by this report. The unacceptable delays and weakening of the case led to the withdrawal of the three women from the process.”

He said it directly contradicted Sinn Féin claims that the case had no basis. “I welcome the apology by Barra McGrory, the head of the prosecuting service inNorthern Ireland, in accepting the serious failings that let down these vulnerable women,” Mr Martin added.

Turning to Mr Adams, the Fianna Fáil leader claimed he needed to answer questions about the “cover-up of sexual abuse in the Provisional movement. It’s time for Gerry Adams to own up and come clean on the scale of cover-ups and kangaroo courts.”

The Labour Party also said the findings of the review by Sir Keir, the former DPP forEngland and Wales, justified Ms Cahill’s decision to waive her anonymity and go public about her claims of abuse by a senior member of the IRA.

Labour TD for Dublin Mid-West Joanna Tuffy said Ms Cahill had to “go through the horror of abuse and a crude investigation and cover-up by the IRA. Her decision to highlight her case in public and lead a campaign for justice for her and other victims was inspiring. “In doing so the DPP agreed to review her case, which has backed up her position that there were serious flaws in the legal investigation,” she said.

France bans Supermarket’s wasting good food


French supermarkets will no longer be able to destroy or dispose of unused edible food, after the French National Assembly unanimously passed a new amendment to a green energy law yesterday on Thursday last the 21 May.

The amendment to theproposed energy transition to green growth law (due to voted on on 26 May) will require supermarkets over 400 square metres in size to enter into formal agreements with food redistribution charities by July 2016. Any food past its sell by date should also be sent for composting, anaerobic digestion or for use as animal feed – rather than disposal.

Those who do not comply will be liable for penalties including fines of up to €75,000 (£53,000) or two years imprisonment.

It is hoped that the amendment will reduce food waste arisings and prevent supermarkets from destroying edible food. It is reported to be common practice for supermarkets to pour bleach into their bins to destroy the food and prevent its illegal removal, a practice that Guillaume Garot, the former Minister for Food who sponsored the bill in government, called “scandalous”.

As part of the amendment, companies will also be able to contribute to their social and environmental responsibility by providing lessons to school children and smaller businesses on fighting food waste.

Much more to do’ in combating food waste in France

The amendment passed by the National Assembly is the most recent to be added to the bill, as France continues to increase it focus on food waste.

In February, senators voted to add an amendment removing best before dates on non-perishable foods.

However, Garot said that “there remains much to do” following the vote, including the mobilisation of local communities, the training of professionals and consumer awareness.

It is hoped that these actions will help the country achieve the government’s target of halving the nation’s food waste by 2025.

Official figures suggest that the average French person throws away 20-30 kg of food per year, which adds up to a total cost of up to €20 billion to the national economy.

Law focusing on the wrong people?

Although the amendment has been welcomed by many, the French Federation of Commerce and Distribution (FCD), however, has criticised the plan.

Jacques Creyssel, head of the group, said: “The law is wrong in both target and intent.

“The big stores represent only five per cent of food waste but now have these new obligations.

“They are already the pre-eminent food donors, with more than 4,500 stores having signed agreements with aid groups.

“We will meet in emergency meetings to examine the consequences of these provisions.”

In the UK, food redistribution charity FareShare has said that the move is an “interesting development in the debate around food waste”, especially as the “majority of surplus food is further up the supply chain”.

A spokesperson for the charity added: “The French food industry, government and associated charities have already made huge inroads in tapping food further up the supply chain, amongst manufacturers, where the majority of surplus occurs.

“While government intervention can be a positive step in trying to achieve waste minimisation and a fairer system that promotes surplus redistribution in the food industry, we believe that the best results are obtained when food companies realise the potential and the benefits linked to redistribution. In order to successfully divert surplus food from waste, food companies across the whole supply chain must establish processes and systems that anticipate and identify surplus food within their operations and make it available for charities such as FareShare. This approach brings about significant environmental, social and economic benefits.”

A 65-year-old German mother give birth to quads “now has 17 children”


Annegret Raunigk, middle picture with Lelia in 2005, has had quadruplets.

A 65-year-old German woman has given birth to quadruplets after undergoing an artificial insemination procedure in Ukraine.

The woman, Annegret Raunigk, already has 13 children.

The quadruplets – three boys and a girl – were born prematurely at 26 weeks in a Berlin hospital but have “good chances of surviving”, according to the entertainment channel RTL, which has negotiated exclusive rights to the woman’s story.

Raunigk lives in Berlin and is an English and Russian teacher who is close to retirement.

In addition to her children, she has seven grandchildren.

RTL said the new arrivals make her the world’s oldest mother of quadruplets. The boys have been named Dries, Bence and Fjonn and the girl Neeta.

Raunigk made headlines 10 years ago when she gave birth to her 13th child, Lelia, at the age of 55.

“At first, I only wanted one child,” she said then. “Not all were planned. But then things happen. I’m not a planner but rather spontaneous. And children keep me young.”

Raunigk again made headlines in April when the German press reported that her latest artificial insemination attempt had resulted in a quadruple pregnancy.

At the time, she said she decided to try to have another child because her youngest daughter, who is 9, wanted a little brother or sister, according to RTL.

The tabloid Bild am Sonntag quoted Raunigk, whose oldest daughter is reportedly 44, recalling that it was “a shock” when the doctors first broke the news to her of a quadruple pregnancy.

“After the doctor discovered there were four, I had to give it some thought to begin with.”

But she did not consider reducing the number of embryos and said she had no reservations about the challenge facing her.

“I’m not actually afraid. I simply assume I’ll remain healthy and fit. In matters of organisation I have enough experience, that’s not new for me,” she told Bild.

Asked about moral doubts, RTL quoted her as asking: “How does one have to be at 65? One must apparently always fit some cliches which I find rather tiring.

“I think one must decide that for oneself.”

Your Facebook updates can reveal a lot more than you think


Sharing news on Facebook can drive greater involvement with news and information

(A team of researchers has revealed what Facebook updates say about the users.)

The Brunel University study, which analysed 555 online surveys taken by regular Facebook users, found people with certain personality types like extroversion, openness, narcissism, neuroticism and conscientiousness, updated their walls in specific ways, the Independent reported.

Extroverts were found to post frequently about social events and neurotic personalities, while the ones who are motivated by a need for validation were likelier to post personal status updates. Open individuals were found not to share personal information but instead primarily share updates about events, research, or their political views.

Researchers found that conscientiousness individuals mostly posted about their children, with the studying suggesting perhaps such updates reflect an indirect form of competitive parenting.

Those with low self-esteem frequently posted about their romantic partner but were not as likely as neurotic types to use the network as a means of validation.

The study hypothesised that people are more likely to post relationship-relevant information on Facebook on days when they feel insecure, adding it was reasonable to assume they did so as a way to claim their relationship.

Finally, narcissistic personalities were found to broadcast their diet and exercise routine to express the personal importance they place on physical appearance above the control variables that researchers placed on the study.

Nasty star an Cannibalistic star coined nasty lives up to its name


Hubble names star Nasty and with a name like that you expect there to be some type of strange story to go along with it. It seems this Nasty is living up to its name!

When the folks monitoring the Hubble Space Telescope name a star “Nasty,” you just know there has to be a good reason for that. Stars are usually considered magical and there’s even songs penned about how they twinkle and make you feel good. These bright spots in the sky have been coupled with happy endings in religious stories, so why name a star Nasty? It appears this twinkling ball of light fits that bill!

According to The Washington Post on May 23, the star nicknamed Nasty by the folks operating the Hubble Telescope has a pancake-shaped disc around it which they believe is one huge disk of gas. Nasty is a Wolf-Rayet star, which is a star that appears as “twin lobes of gas flowing from opposite sides of the star.”

This was explained in a new paper on Nasty published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society last week. This disk is no tiny cloud, as it’s estimated to cover about 3 trillion miles with Nasty smack dab in the middle.

Nasty is a “rapidly aging star,” reports MSN News, and it is also a massive star that is demonstrating a “strange appearance and an unprecedented behavior,” according to the new study.

Wolf-Rayet stars originate as big stars, but their outer layers are soon lost leaving a helium-burning core exposed in space. In Nasty’s case they think that outer layer of gas is cannibalized by a companion star.

That’s what we think is happening in Nasty 1,” explains Jon Mauerhan, of the University of California, Berkeley, who is the lead author in this study. “We think there is a Wolf-Rayet star buried inside the nebula, and we think the nebula is being created by this mass-transfer process. So this type of sloppy stellar cannibalism actually makes Nasty 1 a rather fitting nickname.”

This is the first time a disc is seen surrounding a Wolf-Rayet star making Nasty very unusual. It is young in the scope of the age of other stars, as the experts believe it is only a few thousand years old. As far as the distance Nasty is from Earth, that would be 3,000 light years away.

The cannibalistic star hypothesis is the leading theory when it comes to what is going on with Nasty. Another hypothesis offers the possibility of a stellar wind taking that layer of gas away. Scientists have taken the stellar wind hypothesis and put it to work with a model, which indicated the winds weren’t strong enough to “push it to Wolf-Rayet status,” according to MSN. This leaves the cannibal-like scenario their best theory to go on today.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 11th February 2015

Syriza member says the rise of Sinn Féin’s ‘is the best help’ for Greek government.


Senator David Cullinane says their party wants to lead anti-austerity government in south

The rise of Sinn Féin in opinion polls in Ireland and a similar surge of support for Podemos in Spain is “the best help” that can be given to the newly-elected Syriza government in Greece, a leading member of Syriza said tonight.

Speaking at a Sinn Féin meeting in the House of Commons, Stathis Kouvelakis said: “This shows that the political landscape can change dramatically; that Greece is not an anomaly; that what happened in Greece can happen elsewhere.”

Tens of thousands of Greeks have gathered at rallies throughout the country in support of the “perfectly reasonable” demands made by the Greek minister for finance Yanis Varoufakis at today’s meetings with his EU counterparts in Brussels.

Meanwhile, Waterford-based Sinn Féin senator David Cullinane said that Sinn Féin, unlike some people involved in the anti-austerity movement in Ireland, is preparing to be part of the next government.“We are on an election footing. The very clear message that we are articulating very clearly is that we are prepared for government. We are going to stand the maximum number of candidates that we can possibly stand to take advantage of our increasing popularity.

“We have to be prepared to want to go into government, to lead an anti-austerity government in the south. There are people on the left who won’t be part of that, but we are certainly organising,” he told the meeting.

Criticising Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s refusal to support Greek calls for a debt conference, Mr Cullinane said: “It is crazy that a country which was forced to put into place a banking guarantee that signed us up to billions [in] debt is afraid to agree to a debt conference.

“[Ireland] has not even asked for a debt write-down. If they are not prepared to show solidarity with their own citizens, I don’t see Irish government showing solidarity with the Greeks.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy rejected a call that Sinn Féin should take up its seats in the House of Commons after the May election in a bid to ensure that the Conservatives are denied power.

Mr Murphy said: “We stand on the mandate of not taking our seats.”

Irish banks were concerned about the weakness & poor scrutiny in their sector

Some two and a half years before the collapse


Professor John FitzGerald pictured above left who gave evidence before the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry yesterday.

Irish banks were concerned about the poor scrutiny of their own sector a full two and a half years before the collapse, the Banking Inquiry has been told.

AIB got in touch with Prof John FitzGerald who was a research professor at the ESRI in early 2006 because of these concerns, he said.

A senior bank economist phoned him and “my understanding was they felt the stress-testing was not stressful enough – kind of ironic,” he added.

He described how he met with the senior economist and another staff member and he believed their approach was coming from “a more senior level than the economists” and it had “first primed me to be concerned in this area.”

Prof Fitzgerald said he had explained to the bankers that the ESRI had already put together a series of macro-economic scenarios on CD which were publicly available and he referred them to this.

He told Fianna Fail deputy Michael McGrath he was subsequently approached by Ulster Bank and PTSB for a similar assessment.

On foot of these concerned he approached the Central Bank by email in 2007 saying he wanted to talk to them about it but despite emails over several months  “for various reasons” the meeting never happened.

Of the ESRI he added “clearly we had put out our warnings. Nobody in the political system seemed to be interested.

“My impression was that people weren’t interested in taking the punch bowl away.”

“What we do know is that the Regulator and the Central Bank were asleep on the job and did nothing,” he said.

He took responsibility for not examining bank data before the “catastrophic” collapse of the financial sector at the end of 2008.

“It is regrettable” he added. “Not seeing the unsound nature of the banking sector and it was a bad mistake”

“I made a mistake.  I thought that at that stages house prices had turned the corner, they were coming down gradually and I thought the odds were that we would reach a soft landing.  I was completely wrong.”

He felt if the ESRI had properly scrutinised the balance sheets they would have detected a problem.

Referring to the property bubble as  a “tumour which grew and grew and squeezed the rest of the economy” he said the number of houses being built was running ahead of the population and this had led to the bubble.

At the time, however, “the people of Ireland did not want to change. The information was out there. You couldn’t miss what we were saying” but people went ahead and bought houses and the government behaved as if there was no tomorrow.

On the Bank Guarantee while it was not something he had researched “we now know it was the wrong decision”.

He described it as “not the best outcome for Ireland but  something had to be done”.

No-one from the Department of Finance had consulted him personally or the ESRI about the guarantee. Relations with the department were “frosty’ at the time, he added.

Prof FitzGerald’s view of Nama was: “I think it has done a pretty good job.  It looks as if the State, instead of losing money, is going to get it back.  I think it has helped in terms  of the recovery and sorting out the problem.

He also said concerns about Nama had “turned out to be totally wrong”.

The bailout was something “we have got broadly right” in that Ireland, unlike Spain had “under-promised and over-delivered”

He stressed that when it became clear that €64billion was needed by the banks “a bailout became essential”.

Luckily interest rates were so low “the burden of the debt has turned out tho be much lower than anticipated.”

His assessment of the current situation is that “we are in a structured surplus” and “we do not need further cuts”

He was concerned that there was a need to improve the method of assessing fiscal policy to provide better guidance in the future.

Asked by Sen Susan O’Keeffe if he had every considered resigning when the financial crisis hit he responded: “No I felt I had done a reasonable job over the previous 30 years I looked at the fact that nobody else had done a better job.”

IAG’s Willie Walsh to meet Minister Donohoe to discuss Aer Lingus bid


Pascal Donohoe says Government will weigh proposed offer on price and international access?

Willie Walsh, chief executive officer of International Consolidated Airlines Group is to discuss his Aer Lingus bid with Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe.

International Consolidated Airlines’ Group (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh will discuss his company’s €1.36 billion bid for Aer Lingus with the Minister for Transport,Paschal Donohoe, on Wednesday.

Mr Walsh will be spending the next two days bidding to convince the Government and Oireachtas members to support IAG’s proposed €2.55 a-share offer for the Irish airline.

The Government holds a 25.1% stake in the business on behalf of the State, while the Dáil has approve any sale of that interest.

Mr Donohoe confirmed earlier that he is meeting Mr Walsh on Wednesday afternoon.

The minister has already said that the Government will not only consider the price on offer, but also the implications of a takeover for the Republic’s access to international markets.

He stressed that the coalition would evaluate IAG’s proposed bid on the basis of those criteria and all the information available to it.

IAG is offering the Government and business groups a legally-binding veto over the sale of the airline’s landing and take-off rights at Heathrow Airport, which are seen as critical to international access.

It is also willing to guarantee that they will be used exclusively to service Irish routes for five years.

13% of Irish internet users have suffered some online fraud


Nearly a third of Irish respondents have discovered malicious software on their device

An estimated 40% of Irish internet users have received emails or phone calls trying to get access to their computer or personal details such as banking information, according to a Eurobarometer survey.

More than 1,000 people were interviewed in Ireland for the survey on cyber security.

Nearly a third of Irish respondents said they have discovered malicious software on their device, but just over half of them have installed anti-virus software. This compares with an EU average of 61% who have taken this precaution.

The survey found 13% of Irish Internet users have experienced online fraud where goods purchases were not delivered, counterfeit or not as advertised, a little above the EU average of 12%. Experience of online fraud was highest in Poland (19%) and lowest in Greece (4%).

Some 9 per cent of Irish Internet users say that they have experienced or been a victim of identity theft, above the EU average of 7%. Experience of identity theft was highest in Romania and Hungary (both 11%) and lowest in Bulgaria and the Netherlands (both 3%).

Sixteen per cent of Irish respondents – the third highest in the EU – said they have had experience of their social media or email account being hacked.

While internet access in Ireland has never been higher at 80 per cent, we are still behind Sweden (96%) the Netherlands (95%) and Denmark (94%).

Greece, Portugal and Romania had the lowest rates of internet access in Europe.

The overall EU-wide survey saw more than 27,000 people interviewed on the topic of cyber security, with the majority of respondents concerned their personal information is not being kept secure by public authorities and websites.

A total of 67% said they worried about information not being safely held by public authorities, while 73% said they were concerned over website security.

Approximately two in three Internet users in the EU said they were concerned about experiencing identity theft (68%) and about discovering malicious software on their device (66%).

More than half are concerned about being the victim of bank card or online banking fraud (63%); having their social media or email account hacked (60%); scam emails or phone calls (57%) or online fraud (56%).

EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said cybercrime undermines consumer confidence in the use of Internet, hampering both our digital economy and our online lives.

“Our priority is to create a safer Internet for all users by preventing and combating cybercrime in all its forms, to enable users to reap the full benefits of the digital internal market and to exercise their fundamental rights online,” he added.

The figures come as EU officials call on internet telecommunication companies to share encryption keys with EU authorities as part of a wider crackdown on terrorism.

A new procedure in stroke treatment is a ‘major breakthrough’


A new stroke treatment has been shown to be so effective that Canadian researchers say they believe it will be used as part of standard stroke care.

The results of a new study, led by scientists at the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute and published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, found a clot-retrieval procedure, called endovascular treatment, significantly decreased the incidence of disability or death among those who experienced acute ischemic stroke.

The treatment, which involves removing blood clots in the brain with a retrievable stent, also nearly doubled the percentage of patients who experienced positive outcomes from 30% to 55%.

“That’s a massive jump with people going home, people going back to work, people being independent, people not having to live in nursing homes,” says the study’s co-principal investigator Dr. Mayank Goyal, a professor of radiology and clinical neurosciences at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. “It’s a major, major breakthrough in the disease.”

Dr. Rick Swartz, a study collaborator, medical director of the stroke program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and an acting spokesman for The Heart and Stroke Foundation, says he thinks “Canada will be one of the first countries in the world to incorporate this treatment into our best practice guidelines.”

Best practices for stroke care are developed by stroke experts across the country with funding from the foundation, which was one of the sponsors of the study.

The Canadian sites involved in the study, which already have the equipment and expertise, can begin using the procedure immediately, Dr. Goyal says.

In severe cases of ischemic stroke, blood clots block larger arteries at the base of the brain. Until now, the standard treatment has been to give patients a clot buster drug, known as tPA or tissue plasminogen activator, which dissolves clots and restores blood flow. For larger clots, this can be time-consuming – and in stroke care, “time is brain.” For every minute the brain is starved of fresh oxygenated blood, it’s believed about two million neurons die.

Though endovascular treatments have been evolving for two decades, the latest generation of stent retrievers are game-changers. Medical teams involved in the study – conducted at 11 sites across Canada and another 11 around the world, including the United States, Britain, Ireland and South Korea – were able to identify the blood clots and their location in the brain using advanced imaging, and then quickly extract them using stent retrievers, in some cases, within minutes.

The Canadian study, which involved 316 patients, is the first to show a decline in patient mortality: to one in 10 patients, compared with two in 10 patients when current standard treatment was used alone.

Because the results demonstrated an “overwhelming effect” during an interim analysis, the study was stopped early, Dr. Goyal says.

It closely follows a previous study showing beneficial patient outcomes from endovascular treatment, conducted in the Netherlands and published online in the New England Journal of Medicine in December, and a separate study published Wednesday by Australian researchers that also demonstrated positive results.

Performed under X-ray guidance using injectable dyes, the procedure involves inserting a thin tube into the artery in the groin area, then threading a thinner tube, about two to three millimetres in diameter, into the neck. From there, an even thinner tube, about one millimetre in diameter, is guided into the brain to the site of the clot. A retrievable stent, which looks like a tiny mesh coil attached to the tip of a wire, is then routed through the tube and captures the blood clot, collapsing as it is pulled back out.

Dr. Goyal credits the success of the treatment, in part, to the speed at which participating medical teams were able to identify patients for whom endovascular treatment was appropriate and then carry out the procedure. The goal for getting from “picture to puncture” – imaging the brain, moving the patient and inserting the tube – was a median time of 60 minutes or less.

Not everyone who experiences ischemic stroke will fit the criteria for endovascular treatment, however. The treatment is for those who experience a moderate to severe stroke, whose symptoms are recent, and whose brain images show a large clot in an artery. The imaging must also show that some blood is able to detour around the blockage, buying doctors enough time for them to carry out the procedure.

Endovascular treatment does have some risks, including a very low risk of infection and bruising, as well as the risk of scraping or pushing the blood clot along the blood vessels, Dr. Swartz says. But, he says, “we know that people who get the procedure are doing much, much better than the people who don’t. So even with those risks, the outcomes are better.”

Did giant reservoirs of CO2 locked in the oceans end the last ice age?


Scientists have discovered that oceans spewing carbon dioxide played a big part in warming up our planet tens of thousands of years ago.

Arrogant species that we are, humans tend to think global warming is a very man-made problem. But the natural world is equally capable of spewing huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere all by itself, as new research into the end of the last ice age recently revealed.

How was the CO2 released?

It issued forth from the briny deeps… specifically the briny deeps of the Southern Ocean.

The study shows how a vast isolated reservoir of carbon stored deep in the cold waters off the Antarctic managed to re-connect with the atmosphere.

The sudden change in CO2 levels in the atmosphere stoked an increase in global temperatures, marking the end of the last ice age.

How important is this discovery?

Scientists say this gives an important insight into how the oceans affect the carbon cycle. Joint lead author Miguel Martínez-Botí, from the University of Southampton, said: “The magnitude and rapidity of the swings in atmospheric CO2 across the ice age cycles suggests that changes in ocean carbon storage are important drivers of natural atmospheric CO2 variations.”

As humanity tries to get its head around climate change, this kind of knowledge could prove essential. It is estimated that the oceans have soaked up around 30% of the CO2 that our cars, planes and factories have been spewing out over the last 100 years.

How does this carbon-ocean relationship work then?

CO2 levels in the atmosphere fluctuate from about 185 parts-per-million (ppm) during ice ages, to around 280 ppm during warmer “interglacial” periods like today.

The oceans currently contain approximately 60 times more carbon than the atmosphere, but that carbon can exchange rapidly (at least from a geological perspective) between the oceans and the atmosphere.

During ice ages the interaction between the deep-sea and the atmosphere is reduced, locking carbon into vast reservoirs in the abyss. The opposite happens during interglacial periods.

How do scientists work out the carbon levels in oceans tens of thousands of years ago?

The answer lies in the shells of tiny marine creatures that lived near the ocean’s surface at the time.

The international team (which included academics from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Australian National University) studied the composition of the calcium carbonate shells of ancient marine organisms that lived thousands of years ago. These revealed the ocean’s carbon content.

Joint lead author Gianluca Marino, from the Australian National University, said: “We found that very high concentrations of dissolved CO2 in surface waters of the Southern Atlantic Ocean and the eastern equatorial Pacific coincided with the rises in atmospheric CO2 at the end of the last ice age, suggesting that these regions acted as sources of CO2 to the atmosphere.”

Does more research need to be done?

Of course! The more research the merrier – especially since this is just one part of the bigger picture that marked the end of the ice age.

Co-author Gavin Foster, also from the University of Southampton, said: ”While our results support a primary role for the Southern Ocean processes in these natural cycles, we don’t yet know the full story and other processes operating in other parts of the ocean, such as the North Pacific, may have an additional role to play.”

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday/Sunday 7th & 8th February 2015

Irish Water plans to borrow €550m just weeks after a Ulster Bank deal


Irish Water will agree loans worth at least €550m from private-sector banks within weeks.

The utility has recently signed a €100m loan agreement with Ulster Bank – the first of a series of loan deals that could finally end Irish Water’s dependence on State funding. The troubled utility’s €100m commercial loan will be kept off the Government’s balance sheet because it is not guaranteed.

While the Ulster Bank loan is unsecured, Irish Water plans to refinance the loan with longer-term revolving credit from a syndicate before the end of the year.

The utility then intends to borrow on the bond markets.

In November last, Irish Water agreed a €50m overdraft facility with Bank of Ireland that was also not covered by a Government guarantee.

Sources said credit approval has now been secured for another €250m from domestic and international commercial banks.

The utility is also understood to be in advanced discussions with two other international commercial banks for a further €200m of bilateral loans.

The banks involved in the talks include AIB, Barclays, BNP Paribas, BOI, Danske, HSBC, Ulster, Royal Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Canada.

An Irish Water spokesperson confirmed some aspects of the deal with Ulster Bank but would not comment on the interest rate the utility is paying.

Informed market sources said that the company is likely to have secured financing at very competitive rates of less than 1.75pc.

Irish Water’s model sees all short-term bilateral facilities rolled into a long-term syndicated loan by the end of the year.

The utility expects the next loan will be on a three to five year basis once Irish Water begins domestic billing.

Pre Election & nervous politicians shout down IAG’s Aer Lingus bid


The owner of British Airways ICAG.L is running out of time to secure Ireland’s Aer Lingus AERL.I as questions over its commitment to keep jobs and key Heathrow routes stoke opposition from politicians facing a tough election next year.

Aer Lingus’ board recommended the 1.36 billion euro (1.01 billion pounds) offer from International Consolidated Airlines Group ICAG.L (IAG) last month, subject to the agreement of the Irish state to sell its 25 percent holding.

Since then IAG has said it will maintain key landing and take-off rights at Heathrow, Europe’s biggest travel hub, for its Irish routes for five years. But that has failed to quell attacks from trade unions, opposition parties and government MPs, who want stronger guarantees and assurances about employment.

“If IAG are going to do something they have to do it very quickly if the entrenched positions people have been forced to take are to be unwound,” a senior government source told Reuters.

A year out from parliamentary elections the bid risks becoming politically toxic for the coalition government of Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael and Labour.

Polls indicate that the two parties will lose around half of their combined seats because of a series of austerity budgets that have fuelled the rise of left-wing Sinn Fein and a large group of populist independent candidates.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, said on Friday Dublin was not yet convinced: Kenny has demanded “cast iron permanent guarantees” on flights to Ireland.

At a recent meeting of the Labour party, which is affiliated to the IMPACT trade union that has warned of 1,200 job losses at the airline, all of the 20 or so members who spoke on the issue opposed the sale.(Full Story) One source said it was likely some would seek a veto of the sale at the party’s annual conference later this month.

“We would still be of the view that the state should retain its share until we see something that would alter the situation,” Sean Kenny, a Labour Party MP in a constituency where Aer Lingus is a major employer, told Reuters this week. (Full Story)

Shares in Aer Lingus have fallen to 2.21 euros from 2.45 on Jan 26. when IAG made the 2.55 euro a share approach.


Had IAG’s Irish boss Willie Walsh made a bid for the airline back in September 2011, when Dublin first said it would consider selling its stake, the government might have bitten off his hand to get the money.

Just six months in office and grappling with the onerous terms of an EU/IMF bailout, it was under pressure to sell state assets, revive a crisis-hit economy and was watching yields on 10-year debt hover just below 9 percent.

But three and a half years on, the economy is growing faster than the rest of Europe and just last week Ireland sold 30-year debt at record low 2.1 percent.

However, say analysts and industry experts, the government may not get as good an offer again given pressure on the industry to consolidate. On top of that, while IAG may not be offering the exact guarantees that the state wants, Ireland’s government could see its influence entirely wiped out if IAG buys the remainder of the airline or if another carrier takes majority ownership.

The management of Ryanair, which is trying to sell its 30 percent of Aer Lingus, has been generally supportive of the bid in public comments. “It’s only a question of which parent or family it is going to join,” Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said of Aer Lingus’ future last week.

Nonetheless, months from an election and bruised by mass street protests against the government’s recent attempt to charge for tap water, short-term political calculations are likely to guide the government. (Full Story)

“The government is running scared because they made such a balls of Irish Water,” said Liam Heron, an 80-year-old retired shopkeeper from Swords, a town near Dublin airport.

“With the election coming up the government are looking over their shoulders the whole time.

Ireland’s GPs called to reject free care for under-sixes


Doctors have been asked to reject the Government’s plan to give free GP care to under-sixes.

The National Association of General Practitioners has called on GPs to not comply with the scheme, saying that it is unfair to older children with chronic and life threatening conditions.

“Our problem with the scheme is that a seven-year-old who has cancer being unable to get a medical card, while a perfectly healthy six-year-old would be entitled,” said NAGP boss Chris Goodey.

Speaking on RTE’s This Week, he said that: “The starting point should not be the age of a child but rather their need. No child with a chronic or life-threatening disease should be denied a medical card.”

“With hundreds of patients on trolleys in our emergency departments every day, it is morally reprehensible to invest scarce funds into providing free care to those that do not have a genuine medical need,” he added.

In an email sent to the country’s 2,300 GPs this morning, the NAGP they had an “ethical and moral responsibility” to prevent the introduction of the scheme, believing that it interferes with guidelines from the Medical Council which state that doctors have a “duty to ensure efficient use of resources and their allocation.”

“In the interest of our patients and our duty as doctors, we have been left with no alternative but to recommend on a point of principle that GPs refuse to sign any contract providing free care to under-sixes,” the statement said.

The association is asking Health Minister Leo Varadkar to postpone the introduction of the scheme until more serious issues within the health service are  resolved.

“We need to end the county’s two-tier health system that benefits the wealthier. In our capital, a north-side Dubliner will die seven years earlier than his south-side neighbour and yet the south side has one GP for every 1,600 people while the north side has one GP for every 3,000.”

Irish company leading the global revolution in online payments


Colm Lyon left a safe, permanent job at a bank to set up on his own – and has never looked back. Armed with nothing more than a good idea, a mobile phone and a laptop, he set out to create a new online payments business.

Payments, has offices in Dublin, London and Paris, employs 170 people and has an annual turnover of €20m.

His story is an inspiring one and proof of Victor Hugo’s adage: “There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

This week I visited Colm at his company’s headquarters on the third floor of the Observatory Building on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, in the area of the city now referred to as Dublin’s Silicon Docks.

His is a cool, Google-esque type office space that looks out over the river Liffey and on to two of the city’s newest and iconic landmarks, the Convention Centre and the Samuel Beckett Bridge. There’s even a staff area called Craggy Island 2.0 with a full wall-sized picture of the Father Ted House.

“Simply put, Realex Payments provides the technology that enables large and small online businesses to accept payments from their customers,” explains Colm.

Now one of Europe’s most successful online payments businesses, the company processes a staggering €28bn in payments annually on behalf of their 12,500 customers internationally.

“Our customers come from a wide range of sectors that include insurance, airlines, online retail, gaming, telecommunications, financial services and even government services like motor tax payments,” explains Colm.

Among them are well-known brand names such as Vodafone, Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic, Paddy Power, AA Insurance, notonthehighstreet.com and boohoo.com.

While the UK currently accounts for 60pc of its turnover, the company has customers in more than 30 different countries around the world. They have also partnered with a number of international financial services firms such as Global Payments and Santander Elavon Merchant Services and many other institutions across Europe are also distributing their services under their own brand labels.

It’s been an exciting journey so far for Colm and his company and one which shows no signs of slowing down.

Colm grew up in Clontarf in Dublin. He got his first taste for business while in his teens. Each morning before school, he and his five brothers would deliver morning newspapers to houses in the area.

Apart from the money he made, he also made a number of important contacts. One of those was a neighbour who would eventually become a trusted mentor and friend. His name was John Teeling, himself a well-known entrepreneur and at that time, a lecturer in Commerce at UCD.

After what he jokingly calls a “practice run” at the Leaving Cert, Colm decided to repeat the year and with the encouragement of his new mentor, secured the points he needed to pursue his dream of studying commerce in UCD. His dream was achieved when he later graduated with a BComm as well as a master’s in management science.

Even with his newly acquired qualifications, Colm found it difficult to find work. Unemployment was high in Ireland at the time and most of his friends and family had emigrated in search of work. After 18 months of sending out CVs, persistence paid off when he was offered a three-month contract with Ulster Bank.

“That three months turned into 14 years,” explains Colm who eventually ended up becoming head of central IT for Ulster Bank markets. But the desire to start his own business never faded.

“While working in the bank, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated at the pace at which things were happening,” admits Colm. “The internet had come along and the whole world was starting to go digital. I knew the problem of online payments would be one that would soon need to be solved,” he adds.

He began to study the market and as he did, he became increasingly aware that more and more retailers were contacting the bank looking for a solution as to how to accept payments online. But the banks didn’t really have a solution.

“I quickly realised that someone needed to create a gateway to link the retailers to the banks. The simplicity of the business model just made complete sense to me,” insists Colm.

In the middle of 2000, he decided it was time to strike out on his own. He left the bank and, along with John Mooney, a friend from UCD, set up Realex Payments. No longer involved in the operational side of the business, John now works as an academic in California, but remains a non-exec director.

Colm was later joined by a former bank colleague, Owen O’Byrne, and together the pair set about designing and developing the first version of their new online payments system.

By March of the following year, they had secured that important thing that all new entrepreneurs desire most – their first customer. And by the end of the same year, over 20 businesses were using their system.

However, raising money to fund the growth of the business proved even more challenging than winning their first customer. Firstly, a VC firm almost invested. Then a high net-worth business angel was close to putting up money but the deal never got across the line.

“It was a month before the Nasdaq crashed and the dot-com turned to dot-bomb,” explains Colm.

Frustrated but more determined than ever, Colm turned to his suppliers and asked if they might consider providing their services free, initially, in order to help him get the business established. These included providers of computer hardware, firewalls, hosting, and software, as well as office space, legal and accounting support. To his surprise, most agreed. It is something he has never forgotten.

“Today, people call this a ‘lean’ approach. For us it was simply survival and perseverance,” he admits. “When you have no money and you can’t manage to raise it, you have to learn to ask for help.”

At the end of 2001, the business did manage to raise €320,000 by way of BES funding from a mixture of family and friends. It would turn out to be the only capital raised by the business.

As we continue to talk, one of the things that strikes me is how strategic a thinker Colm is. He talks about strategy, company culture, building capability and core values. I am not surprised to hear that in 2008 he attended Stanford Business School as part of Enterprise Ireland’s Leadership 4 Growth programme.

“Up to that point we weren’t growing at the rate we knew we were capable of,” he admits. “Many companies get to the €2m-€3m mark quickly but struggle to push beyond that. That’s when you need to focus more on strategy.

“Entrepreneurial drive gets you started but as you begin to grow and scale, you have to start developing processes for managing your business and people. In essence you have to become a better leader.”

The following year, he set up The Realex Academy – an in-house staff development programme which has now become an essential part of each new staff member’s training and the place they first learn about the company’s values of passion, innovation, security, delivery and service.

Colm has also brought his focus on strategy to life in the company’s physical environment. A series of ‘ring forts’ are located around the office, a concept developed by Colm, himself. These tall circular walled structures are where teams hold their short stand- up meetings every morning and where they go to brainstorm on possible solutions to challenges as they arise.

Called after ancient forts in Clare, and with names like Caher Mor and Caher Connell, they are entire whiteboard spaces where people write up ideas and suggestions on the walls to be discussed and developed with team members.

“The idea is that everyone is encouraged to leave their judgment outside. Here they are free not to be constrained by where we are today but are encouraged to envisage instead, where we might be tomorrow. It’s about creating a space where people can be free to come up with new solutions,” explains Colm.

“We have 22 different nationalities working in the business and the average age of them is 29. Some are leading teams of 30 and 40 people. For that reason, we constantly look to attract, develop and retain the very best staff. We want people who are not happy with the ordinary and who want to excel in whatever they are doing,” he insists.

Looking to the future, Colm sees a new generation of payment concepts emerging.

“How does it make sense that, when you buy something, you have to take out your credit card, give it to the retailer, who swipes it though a device, and then ends up getting less than you paid them and has to wait three or four days to get their money,” he says. “It’s a dated model, technology has moved on.”

His vision of the future is about enabling payments to be made directly from a customer’s account to the retailer’s account. To this end he has set up a new company called Realex Fire and has already launched a free mobile payments app for the UK and Ireland, with more products to be launched in the near future.

Like most successful entrepreneurs, Colm wants to make a difference – he wants to change the way we pay for goods and services and improve that process for customer, retailer and bank. Full of energy, exploding with ideas and bubbling with passion, Colm exudes the essence of a successful entrepreneur.

Having spent the morning with him and his team, one thing is certain: both he and Realex Payments are set to achieve even greater success.

Man too busy texting to notice a whale?


Technically Incorrect: It isn’t every day you see a humpback whale. You won’t see one at all if you’ve always got your nose in your phone.

For those attuned to certain values, it’s an image that defies belief and defines how far modern culture has sunk.

There is a man on the deck of a sailboat. Just feet below is a humpback whale. Perhaps the whale is saying hello. Perhaps the whale can smell some nice fish the man has grilling. It’s less likely that the whale wants to phone home.

The glory of the story, you see, is that the man can’t see the whale, because he’s too busy texting on his phone.

The image was taken by photographer Eric Smith and posted to his Instagram feed, where some are suggesting that the shot is faked.

Smith, though, told ABC News that he took the shot during a whale watch at Redondo Beach, Calif.

He said: “A small private sailboat maneuvered really close to the whales, and this guy on it was literally sitting in that position and never moved.”

Though it’s easy to suggest that the man must have been a sad slave to his screen, even Smith admitted that there could be other possibilities. He said: “He could have been texting his mom in the hospital for all I know.”

Quite. Or he could have been dumped by his callous lover and was composing a last, languorous haiku in order to win her back. He could have been texting about a job, a debt or a coming fortune.

He might have seen the whale earlier and they’d had a nice chat before he had to explain that he had to get on, as his girlfriend was wondering where he was.

He might even have already taken his own picture of it and was now posting it to his Instagram account.

The camera never lies. Oh, but it tells fibs all the time.

Clearly, many people are so deeply embedded in their phones that they seem barely to notice real life at all. They fall into fountains while texting. They fall into Lake Michigan too. It’s even been known for a texter to fall off a cliff.

Perhaps, when this man sees the picture all over the world, he might come forward to tell us what was really happening.

News Ireland daily BLOG update

Monday 2nd February 2015

No penalties for people who miss Irish Water deadline


Deadline of midnight to register with Irish Water to receive accurate bills

Saturday’s water charges demonstration has brought parts of Dublin to a standstill as protesters converge on the GPO.

There will be no penalties imposed on those who fail to meet this week’s “deadline” for registration with Irish Water although some who fail to sign up for the new regime may face higher charges at some future point.

Irish Water spokeswoman Elizabeth Arnett said there will be an assumption made that those who do not confirm their details with Irish Water are part of a two-adult household so will face the standard charge of €260.

She also said that households who do not register with the controversial utility will not be in a position to apply to the Department of Social Protection for the €100 Water Conservation Grant although the deadline for applying for that grant is still some way off.

“We will make an assumption that you are on a standard charge, in other words that you have more than two adults in the household and that you have both water and waste water services, and in that respect your bill would be €260,” she told RTE’s Sean O’Rourke.

“You may need to have a lower charge than that, we can’t determine that unless you’ve contacted us and similarly in terms of the €100 conservation grant unless your details have been confirmed with us you won’t be able to apply to the Department of Social Protection for that grant”.

All told 30,000 households registered with Irish Water over the weekend. Just over half of the households expected to pay bills to Irish Water have registered their details with the new utility as a deadline of midnight tonight looms for registration to ensure accurate water bills.

Almost 850,000 homes have provided their details to Irish Water out of the estimated 1.5 million customers who will receive their first water bills in April.

There is no penalty for not registering by this time, but the default rate of €260 will apply to households with no confirmed details.

A spokeswoman for Irish Water told The Irish Times the utility would continue to accept confirmation from people or changes in their details after the deadline.

“People can confirm or change their details with us anytime. We’ll continue to do that beyond February 2nd. The earlier you give it to us the better so you get the correct bill. If you get a bill that has any aspect of it not right, get onto to us.”

About 35,000 households returned their registration packages with no details, according to the water company. This figure includes 20,000 unopened packs.

An estimated 400,000 households will not be required to pay bills because they have private wells and septic tanks.

All households, including those who are not Irish Water customers, are eligible to apply for the water conservation grant of €100, but they need to register with the utility in order to qualify.

The Department of Social Protection has set aside a budget of €130 million to pay for the €100 water conservation grant – equivalent to paying the fee to 1.3 million households.

The Department of Environment has confirmed to The Irish Times that there is no deadline for households to apply for this grant, which will be paid from September.

A statement from Irish Water said 1.065 million households had registered their details with the utility, which includes about 200,000 responses from homes who are not Irish Water customers.

All households, including those who are not Irish Water customers, are eligible to apply for the water conservation grant of €100 but need to register with Irish Water before they can apply for the grant.

“Approximately 79 per cent of those are on the public water main and therefore customers of Irish Water. This represents over 56 per cent of the total customer base,” the statement said.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party will not stand over a situation where people are charged for their domestic water supply.

“One of the really frustrating things in all of this debate is the government has set out their stall… and the shambles that is Irish Water,” she told RTÉ radio.

“We in opposition have spent all our time trying to row them back from that very flawed approach. They haven’t listened to us and have carried on regardless. And we’ve wasted a whole pile of parliamentary time and the time of public servants who have all of the facts and figures and all the data at their disposal arguing a flawed proposal rather than putting our heads together as parliamentarians and coming up with a proposal that’s fair. And that works,” she said.

Pressed on where the party would find the money to finance Irish Water, Ms McDonald said half would come from exchequer funding, some from commercial rates and the party would be open to “looking at all forms of formula”

“You would tailor the level of investment and works you could carry out on the basis of that formula,” she said.

Aer Lingus Regional begins Dublin to Donegal service


Airline also announces new Donegal to Glasgow service, with up to four flights weekly

Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Stobart Air, has launched a new route between Dublin and Donegal.

Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Stobart Air, has launched a new route between Dublin and Donegal.

The airline today flew its first flight to Dublin Airport as the new operator of the PSO (Public Service Obligation) route from Donegal. The airline will fly twice daily return flights seven days a week year round.

Sean Brogan, interim chief executive officer of Stobart Air, said twice daily services between Donegal and Dublin will facilitate day return travel from Donegal for both business and leisure passengers.

“Equally, it will allow for easier connectivity to transatlantic services from Dublin for Donegal passengers and for US passengers to visit Donegal,” he said.

Aer Lingus Regional has also announced a new Donegal to Glasgow service, with up to four flights per week.

“Our services between Glasgow and Donegal will facilitate leisure and business passengers on both sides of the North Channel,” Mr Brogan said.

“We remain committed to offering Aer Lingus Regional customers reliable and efficient services to key regional areas across the United Kingdom and Ireland,” he added.

Cancer in Ireland to double by year 2040,

says a new report


Inevitable ‘boom’ expected because of relatively young population now growing.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar speaking at the launch of the NCCP cancer report ‘A Strategy for Cancer Control in Ireland’.

Ireland will see a doubling in the incidence of cancer by 2040, according to a new report published today.

The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) said while considerable progress had been made in the implementation of the many recommendations of the 2006 national cancer strategy, a number of priorities remained a work in progress.

Because of Ireland’s relatively young population and inevitable “boom’’ in the number of ageing people, Ireland would have the highest growth of cancer incidence inEurope, according to the report.

The report on the 2006 national cancer strategy was launched in Dublin by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. He said cancer services had shown a marked improvement since it was initiated.

Mr Varadkar said the third national cancer strategy for 2016 to 2025 was now being developed and he would set up a steering group. “Now, almost eight years on, it is timely to review implementation undertaken to date, celebrate the successes and identify the gaps that remain,’’ he said.

Another challenge, according to the report, would be the “current financial climate leading to capacity constraints in beds, theatre and ICU [/Intensive Care Unit/] and uncertainty regarding the availability of development funding at a time of rising incidence and prevalence of cancer’’.

Drug costs and related laboratory testing were predicted to rise sharply in the coming years, the report said.

The strategy provided a clear vision and focus for change, the report said. Strong political, policy and HSE (Health Service Executive) support, combined with effective clinical leadership across disciplines and tumour-site specific diseases were, and remained, essential, it said.

It said 2,870 men attended the eight NCCP rapid access prostate clinics in 2013. Of these, 1,591 were offered an appointment within 20 working days and, on average, 36 per cent of those who attended were subsequently diagnosed with cancer.

Access to clinics continued to be an issue, with just 55 per cent of patients who were referred seen within the target time, it said. The situation had deteriorated further in the first half of last year, it said.

The report said Galway, Limerick and Waterford hospitals had continuously struggled to reach their targets, with a contributory factor to the delays a lack of consultant urologist posts locally.

Since January last year targets were not being met in some Dublin centres because of cancellation of clinics over holiday periods and staffing challenges, the report said. There was a commitment to provide additional consultant urologist posts, the report said.

IVF treatment causing a huge increase in Ireland’s twin births


Ireland’s twin birth rate has increased dramatically due to an rise in IVF treatment.

Over 1,200 mums have delivered twins each year since 2009. Before 2000, the figure hadn’t topped 200.

Medics have attributed the increase to the rising interest in IVF treatment and to older mums.

In 2014, the average age of mothers in Ireland was 32.2 years – which is one of the oldest worldwide. Studies have shown that twin pregnancies increase significantly with maternal age.

Twins currently account for 10-20% of all babies born through IVF.

However, the Government will soon consider legislation which could include a ban on the use of multiple-embryo transfers in fertility treatment.

This could ultimately lead to a reductioin in the number of twins born in the future.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar will bring forward legislation governing a number of aspects of assisted human reproduction following the Supreme Court ruling last November in which a birth mother of twins born by surrogacy was deemed to be their legal mother.

The Minister is reportedly considering the aspects surrounding multiple embryo transfers.


The Sims Clinic in Dublin, which carries out approximately 1,400 IVF and egg donation cycles each year, said that it would have concerns about any ban on multiple embryo transfers.

Clinical director David Walsh said that older women in particular would be affected by any rule change.

“For younger women it is very sensible to have a single embryo transfer policy as they have time to have more children,” he said.

“But it will penalise older women.”

Mr Walsh added that 3% of all births in Ireland arise out of fertility treatment.

He said that ultimately it will see the number of Irish women travelling overseas for fertility treatment.

Currently, an estimated 50% of the women receiving IVF treatment travel to clinics overseas. The Irish Multiple Births Association said they have noticed a rise in the number of enquiries for membership.

Rachael Joyce, of the association, said that she has noticed a jump in membership numbers from 800 to 1,800 in the space of just a few years.

“Most are seeking advice and support because of having two or more children at the same time,” she said recently.

Accelerated ice melt causing Iceland to rise


Parts of Iceland are rising, and the culprit may be climate change.

GPS measurements show that land in the central and southern parts of Iceland have been rising at a faster pace every year, beginning at about the same time as the onset of the ever-increasing melt of the island’s eponymous ice due to rising temperatures, a new study finds.

One of 62 GPS stations scattered around Iceland that have detected the land rising in response to glacier melt. Langjökull glacier is in the background.

“There have been a lot of studies that have shown that the uplift in Iceland is primarily due to ice loss,” study lead author Kathleen Compton, a PhD student at the University of Arizona, said. But this one, detailed in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, is the first to show that the acceleration of one speeds up the other.

That uplift could in turn affect Iceland’s notorious volcanoes and hasten eruptions, which can have impacts on air travel, so clearly seen in the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which disrupted air traffic for weeks.

When Ice Melts, Land Rises

Any big chunk of ice like a glacier or an ice sheet pushes down on the land below it, like a person laying on a tempurpedic mattress. (This is why parts of the bedrock of Antarctica are actually below sea level.) When that ice is removed, the land slowly rebounds, just as the mattress will slowly fill in when the person gets up.

Parts of North America are still rebounding after the retreat of the ice sheets that covered the region during the last major ice age thousands of years ago. But under Iceland, the mantle — the semi-solid layer of the Earth below the crust ¬— is a bit goopier, and so responds more quickly to changes in the weight pressing down on it.

What the new study shows is that parts of Iceland are rising much faster — as much as 30 millimeters, or 1.4 inches, a year — compared to prehistoric ice loss. This faster response is because recent ice loss, which is ultimately triggered by atmospheric warming due to the buildup of greenhouse gases, is happening at a faster pace.

“I’m not surprised at the amount of uplift, as the visible signs of ice loss are there for everyone to see,” David McGarvie, a volcanologist with The Open University in Scotland, who has studied Iceland, said.

And not only is the uplift faster, it’s accelerating 1 to 2 millimeters per year, Compton and her colleagues found.

GPS Signals

The researchers first noticed this unexpected increase in the uplift when they looked at the data coming from one of the GPS stations in a network of 62 such stations across the island. In looking at other stations in that network, they found the same trend, with the fastest accelerating uplifts closest to the biggest glaciers.

In analyzing the records, the team found that the area with the accelerated uplift coincided with the higher rates of glacier melt that has been separately documented by glaciologists since 1995.

“The upward velocity of the crust as measured by the researchers is almost certainly due to recent loss of ice mass due to melting,” McGarvie said.

As further corroboration, temperature records going back to the 1800s have showed steadily rising air temperatures since 1980. Both of these factors correspond to calculations Compton performed when Iceland’s recent uplift began.

“It’s always nice to see something come together this well,” she said.

Potential Side Effects

Compton also ran some calculations that showed that the only way to see the faster and faster uplift would be from sped up ice melt.

McGarvie isn’t completely convinced that the uplift is escalating as the data record is relatively short (only a few decades), but he says the idea is well worth continued study.

Whether or not similar uplift could be happening in other places with significant ice loss is difficult to assess because many of those spots have land that responds more slowly to pressure changes and have less extensive GPS stations than Iceland.

But, Compton said, “I think it’s certainly something that we should have on our radars.”

As for how the uplift will continue to play out in Iceland, she said that “this acceleration can’t go on forever,” but that it would be interesting to monitor over the next several years and see how it might change over time.

One thing scientists are concerned about are the potential effects the uplift could have on tectonic activity in an already active Iceland, as the changing stresses on the ground could impact volcanoes and earthquake faults. In fact,another recent study suggested that melting in the mantle caused by uplift could make eruptions of the size ofEyjafjallajökull in 2010 more common — an effect of climate change that wouldn’t be limited to Iceland itself, as that episode made clear.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Sunday 25th January 2015

The generation game? Who are Ireland’s future political leaders

Who of today’s strong performers could become tomorrow’s political figureheads?

In politics, predictions made when there is no short-term prospect of a change of leader can become moot by the time that change occurs.

In the past it has been generally easier to predict leaders on the Fianna Fáil side. Micheál Martin, Brian Cowen, Bertie Ahern, Albert Reynolds and Charles Haughey were all obvious contenders. In marked contrast, Enda Kenny would not have featured as a strong contender on the Fine Gael side in the late 1990s, but then circumstances conspired to elevate him to the leadership.

Which of today’s strong performers could become tomorrow’s political figureheads?

FINE GAEL? Leo Varadkar
One of the most capable performers in the Dáil, he has been a rising star since emerging on the scene a decade ago. He is very bright, ideologically driven, a clear thinker. He can absorb lots of information and then does what few politicians do well: makes clear decisions and shows good management skills. There’s a bit of spin to his straight-talker reputation. He is not collegial, which sometimes annoys colleagues. It’s impossible to say if his disclosure last weekend that he is gay will have an impact, positive or negative, on his prospects.

Simon Coveney. ?
He’s still in his early 40s but has been around for a long time. He’s not the world’s greatest debater and is very much a policy and details person. He has been a good Minister for Agriculture and thinks his way through positions – he has taken a contrarian stand, for example, saying “clean and green” Irish agriculture should get exemptions from climate-change action. Comes from a long-established Fine Gael family and would appeal to traditionalists. His comments this week about potentially sharing power with Fianna Fáil were quite damaging to him.

Frances Fitzgerald. ?
Unlike Varadkar and Coveney, Fitzgerald sided strongly with Enda Kenny in the last leadership battle. She was rewarded with a senior ministry and has been promoted to Justice. She’s also playing a key role in electoral strategy. Some colleagues criticise her for being slow to decide on issues such as publication of the Children and Family Relationships Bill. Others like her calm and steady style. It has certainly worked for her since she took over from Alan Shatter. The children’s-referendum campaign was not her finest hour, however, and the same-sexmarriage referendum will be a huge test.

LABOUR, Alan Kelly
Kelly could be the first leader of Labour based outside Dublin since Dick Spring, two decades ago. He trounced the opposition in the deputy-leadership contest and is the favourite to succeed Joan Burton when she steps down. He has a reputation as being assertive, although some colleagues would prefer a Labour leader who was subtler and more urbane.

Alex White,
If you are looking for subtle and urbane look no farther than the deputy for Dublin South. He contested the leadership and has loyal supporters but has not made the same ministerial mark as Kelly. It depends on what kind of leader Labour wants after the next election. White might be seen as a good compromise or caretaker choice. His main challenge is trying to retain his seat.

FIANNA FÁIL Michael McGrath
It’s very strange for the leader of Fianna Fáil and its finance spokesman to share a constituency. It is a sign of Michael McGrath’s strength that he managed to win a second seat for Fianna Fáil in Cork South Central in 2011. McGrath, an accountant, is very assured in his brief and a prodigiously hard worker. He has a quiet, self-confident style and is not given to dramatics. He’s the obvious frontrunner in Fianna Fáil. What might stand against him is that he’s quite conservative on moral questions.

Billy Kelleher
Fianna Fáil has a handful of bright TDs in their 30s and 40s, including Timmy Dooley, Niall Collins, Dara Calleary and Barry Cowen. But the popular Billy Kelleher has been very strong since taking over the health portfolio. Humorous and puckish, he can also bring gravitas to his Dáil performances when required, and has delivered well-researched critques of health policy. He is also more liberal than McGrath. He made an outstanding speech last year on abortion.

SINN FÉIN, Mary Lou McDonald
How long more will Gerry Adams remain as leader? How long is a piece of string? To the outside world Mary Lou McDonald seems the obvious choice to succeed him. She is articulate, intelligent and politically ruthless when necessary. She appeals to non-Sinn Féin voters in her roles as deputy leader and spokeswoman on public expenditure. But although her defence of Gerry Adams and her recent use of Dáil privilege to smear, without any evidence, former politicians as Ansbancher account holders may appeal to core supporters, they could dilute her appeal to prospective supporters.

Pearse Doherty,
He has mellowed a lot in the past few years. The first Sinn Féin politician to give credibility to the finance brief, he is an excellent debater and commands the portfolio very well. Doherty discounts any leadership ambition but is the closest rival to McDonald in the South. The two strongest northern contenders are John O’Dowd and Conor Murphy.


Lucinda Creighton, There’s no doubt that Lucinda Creighton will lead her new party – whatever they decide to call themselves – into the next Dáil and possibly into government. She is outspoken and very ideological and would have been seen as a potential future leader if she had stayed in Fine Gael. The new party will be a big gamble for Creighton: the weight of history is against smaller parties surviving beyond the medium term. At present it seems she has burned her bridges with Fine Gael, but, like her political forebear in Connacht James Dillon, she may eventually return to the fold.

Shane Ross, who is as opportunistic as he is talented, is likely to lead a group of Independents into the next Dáil and possibly into the next government. Ross does passion and outrage better than most Irish politicians and is astute when it comes to choosing his campaigns. A brilliant speaker, he also has a knack of leaving his past behind. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Michael Fingleton and Anglo Irish Bank in the past. Ross may be a maverick but as a former stockbroker and senior journalist with the Independent group he is seen very much as an establishment figure. If he and his colleagues enter government he would be the obvious contender for the most senior ministerial portfolio on offer.

NEW LEFT ALLIANCE, Richard Boyd-Barrett and Paul Murphy?
It’s unlikely that any alliance that comes out of smaller parties and groups will itself become a party in the short term. So the question of a leader may be moot. That might not be a good tactic, as the lack of a leadership figure may have contributed to the demise of the United Left Alliance. If there is a new alliance the most obvious contenders to lead it would be Richard Boyd-Barrett and Paul Murphy. They are similar in terms of style and presentation – down to the megaphones that both carry in the boots of their cars. Boyd-Barrett, who represents People Before Profit in Dún Laoghaire, has been a very effective TD and brought a lot of visibility to the street campaigns and protest favoured by the militant left. Murphy is a recent arrival but is committed and well informed. He got a savaging from opponents for the water-charge protest against Joan Burton, but the controversy did him little harm among his supporters.

Aer Lingus ‘to accept’ bid from British Airways owner IAG

Irish airline Aer Lingus is set to approve a new takeover bid by British Airways owner IAG, 

IAG, which also controls Iberia in Spain, has submitted a fresh bid – which could be approved next week – of around €2.50 (£1.87) per share.

The deal – which values the carrier at about €1.3bn (£971m) – could face political resistance because the Irish government still owns 25% of the firm.

The Irish carrier rebuffed two bids from IAG last year.

By acquiring Aer Lingus, IAG would gain more take-off and landing slots at Heathrow – valued at around £30m per pair – allowing it to operate more flights.

Senior Gardaí broke rules on penalty points


The Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald insists there is no longer “any hiding place” for Gardaí who cancel penalty points.

She was commenting after it emerged an internal Garda report found six senior Gardaí cancelled penalty points in breach of policy after the Garda Commissioner ordered that the practice should cease.

These included a number of cases where the officers cancelled points outside their area.

The report, which will be seen by the Cabinet next week, examined allegations made by a Garda whistleblower.

Sergeant Maurice McCabe claimed last September that abuse of the penalty point system was continuing despite efforts by senior Garda management to clamp down on questionable practices.

Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan introduced a new policy last June that penalty points could only be cancelled centrally. Despite this, some 54 breaches later took place.

The report revealed that in nine cases, six superintendents or acting-superintendents cancelled penalty points.

This was done either in breach of the policy or outside their own district.

The incidents occurred despite the fact officers had previously been disciplined over cancellations and the issuing of firm directions by Commissioner O’Sullivan and her predecessor, Martin Callinan.

The report also revealed that at least two gardaí had points cancelled in questionable circumstances and one superintendent cancelled penalty points four times without signing the forms properly.

Another garda had penalty points cancelled a total of six times, but his previous history was never checked.


The cases are being forwarded to the Garda Ombudsman, although a number of officers involved will escape punishment as they have already retired.

Ms Fitzgerald said the report represented “a cultural shift” for the force.

“I welcome it in terms of the detail that is in it, the monitoring that it represents and the evaluation of the system both before and after June,” she said.

“It is a cultural shift. There is no hiding place for anyone.”

The establishment of a new Garda unit with powers to verify reasons for cancellations is one of 20 recommendations in the report.

Mary Robinson says 2015 will be a crucial year for climate change


UN Special Envoy says greater urgency needed to tackle issue, Former President and UN Special Envoy on Climate Change Mary Robinson.

UN Special Envoy for Climate Change Mary Robinson has said that 2015 will be a crucial year for climate change.

She said December’s UN conference in Paris will offer an opportunity to set binding climate targets that will be critical the world’s development goals.

The World Economic Forum in Davos, the former President of Ireland said that there needed to be a greater urgency around tackling climate change this year.

“I follow the science very closely. We have very little time left. We are the last generation to be able to do something about climate, and the first generation to understand how serious it is.”

Mrs Robinson participated in a private climate change discussion forum in Davos on Friday alongside businessman Richard Branson and other senior business and civic society leaders. The forum was organised by Bteam, a non-profit initiative which brings together business leaders with a commitment to sustainable development and climate change targets.

Speaking following the meeting, Mrs Robinson said that Davos offered a good opportunity to highlight climate and development issues.

“Davos brings together business leaders, political leaders, civil society leaders and faith leaders,” she said. “Unusually in this meeting there was a common purpose. The business leaders are going to share what they’re doing, the civic society leaders are going to share their ideas and we’re going to cross-message.”

Asked about the role business could play in the fight against climate change, Mrs Robinson, who chairs the Mary Robinson Foundation- Climate Justice centre, said that there was already significant buy-in from the business community.

“I think there are a very significant number of business leaders who are way ahead of politicians at the moment in understanding the climate issue, and understanding that you can’t do business in a climate-conflicted world and that’s the way they see it.”

Mrs. Robinson also pointed out that the session had been co-chaired by three women – herself, Christiana Figuerafrom Costa Rica, who is executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Chang and Nigerian-born Amina J Mohammed, the special advisor to the UN Secretary general on post-2015 development goals. “Women are still not very present in Davos so I think we sent a good signa,” she said.

Climate change has emerged as a major theme on the agenda of the World Economic Forum in Davos in recent years, thanks to the participation of high-profile campaigners such as former US vice-president Al Gore and Matt Damon, who last year addressed the forum on the challenges surrounding the provision of clean water globally.

Speaking at a session on Saturday, Mexican chemist Mario Molina – who won the Nobel Prize for his research on the impact of CFC’s on the ozone layer – said scientists needed to do more to communicate the threat of climate change. Mr Molina also said that corporates should be fined for their emissions.

Tackling climate change also featured in the key-note speech from French president Francois Hollande, who will host the global environment conference at the end of the year. He urged business leaders to contribute to a fund to fight climate change on Friday.

Outlining the impact of increasing CO2 levels on temperature in a key-note address, climate change campaigner and former US vice-president Al Gore, said the average global temperature has increased dramatically in the last decade, giving rise to extreme weather events. “The cumulative amount of man- made global warming pollution now in the atmosphere traps as much extra heat energy every day that would be relied by 400,000 Hiroshima class atomic weapons going off every day,” he said.

He said that 14 of the 15 hottest years measured had been in the first 14 years of the 21st century, with 2014 being the hottest year on record.

New Horizons probe eyes Pluto for a historic encounter


When it gets to Pluto, the New Horizons probe will have a packed schedule of observations

A Nasa probe is to start photographing the icy world of Pluto, to prepare itself for a historic encounter in July.

The New Horizons spacecraft has travelled 5bn km (3bn miles) over nine years to get near the dwarf planet.

And with 200m km still to go, its images of Pluto will show only a speck of light against the stars.

But the data will be critical in helping to align the probe properly for what will be just a fleeting fly-by.

Pluto will be photographed repeatedly during the approach, to determine the probe’s position relative to the dwarf planet, explained Mark Holdridge, from the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) in Baltimore.

“We then perform a number of correction manoeuvres to realign our trajectory with the reference trajectory, thus ensuring we hit our aim point to travel through the Pluto system,” he said.

Any initial correction is likely to be made in March.

The Pluto system has five known moons. Others may be discovered in the coming months

When New Horizons arrives at Pluto it will be moving so fast – at almost 14km/s – that going into orbit around the distant world is impossible; it must barrel straight through instead.

One complication is that the seven different instruments aboard the spacecraft need to work at different distances to get their data, and so the team has constructed a very elaborate observation schedule for them all.

But what this means is that very precise timing will be required to make sure the flyby runs smoothly.

The closest approach to Pluto is set for around 11:50 GMT on 14 July – at a miss distance of roughly 13,695km from the surface.

Mission planners want the exact timings nailed to within 100 seconds. New Horizons will know then where and when to point the instruments.

Dwarf Planet Pluto – Demoted but undiminished

Hubble’s best is a synthetic composite of multiple views. What are those shapes?

For people who grew up with the idea that there were “nine planets”, this is the moment they get to complete the set.

Robotic probes have been to all the others, even the distant Uranus and Neptune. Pluto is the last of the “classical nine” to receive a visit.

Of course, this 2,300km-wide ice-covered rock was demoted in 2006 to the status of mere “dwarf planet”, but scientists say that should not dull our enthusiasm.

The dwarfs are the most numerous planetary class in the Solar System, and Nasa’s New Horizons probe is one of the first opportunities to study an example up close.

The first set of navigation pictures may not be anything special, but by May, the probe will be returning views of Pluto that are better than anything from Hubble. Come July, the view should be spectacular, said Andy Cheng, the principal investigator on the probe’s main camera, which is called LORRI.

As Rebecca Morelle reports, even the Hubble Space Telescope could only capture blurry images of Pluto

“The most recent surprise we had was with the Rosetta mission. Hubble had made a ‘shape model’ of Comet 67P but no-one expected it to look like a rubber duckie,” he told BBC News. “I am more than hopeful that we will get similar surprises with New Horizons – it’s what we should expect.”

Those surprises could include yet more moons (five are currently known) and possibly even rings like those seen around some of the bigger planets.

Pluto is currently 5bn km from Earth. It has taken New Horizons more than nine years to get to the dwarf’s doorstep.

Once the flyby is complete, the probe will be targeted at an even more distant object in the Kuiper Belt – the name given to the icy domain beyond the main planets. Scientists think this region of space may contain many thousands of Pluto-like objects, some of which may even rival Mars and Earth in size.

The first optical navigation images should be back on Earth by Tuesday at the latest. They will show Pluto with its largest moon, Charon.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 14th November 2014

Donegal council calls for water charges to be abolished


Fine Gael chief whip Barry O’Neill votes for motion seeking Irish Water referendum

Donegal County Council last night passed a motion calling on the Government to abolish water charges.

The Fine Gael chief whip on Donegal County Council was among those who tonight passed a motion calling on the Government to abolish water charges.

The resolution proposed by Independent Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr also urged the Government to hold a referendum to ensure Irish Water would not be privatised.

Speaking at a special meeting of the council in Lifford today, Fine Gael chief whip Cllr Barry O’Neill said the establishment of Irish Water had been “an utter fiasco”

An unsuccessful by-election election candidate in Donegal South-West in 2010, Cllr O’Neill said from “the seeking of PPS numbers to reports of bonus cultures” Irish Water had been “nothing short of a disaster.”

Proposed water charges were “a step too far for the Irish people” who have had enough, he said.

His comments were greeted by some applause from over 60 anti-water protestors crammed into the council chamber.

The motion called on the Government to abolish water charges on residential homes to “commit itself to holding a referendum not to privatise our natural resource of water that belongs to the Irish people”.

The result of the vote was 33 for, none against and one abstention (Cllr Bernard McGuinness of Fine Gael.)

Another month of growth for Aer Lingus Regional Airports


Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Stobart Air, enjoyed its 16th month of consecutive growth last month, according to new figures released by the airline.

Between January and October 2014, 1,137,239 passengers flew with Aer Lingus Regional, an additional 197,000 passengers, or 21% more, than the same period in 2013.

In October alone, passenger numbers were up 9% when compared to same month last year.

There was 13% growth on the Dublin to Glasgow route in October 2014 compared to October 2013, due to new aircraft, and improved flight frequencies and schedules better aligned to business hours.

The airline will provide additional flights for the Ireland versus Scotland game today.

Dublin to Kerry experienced its eighth consecutive month of growth, with a 22% increase in passenger numbers, a figure helped by connecting traffic to North America via the Dublin Airport transatlantic hub.

The airline’s Cork base enjoyed its seventh consecutive month of growth, flying 10% more passengers than October last year.

Some 20,000 additional passengers were flown in the summer months, a growth of 13% on summer 2013.

The Dublin to Newcastle route completed its first full year of service with 70,000 passengers flown.

Elsewhere, the Dublin to Leeds Bradford route commenced in October, with full inaugural flights and strong initial demand for connections to North America.

There was 10% growth on the Dublin to Isle of Man route last month, due to midterm break and Bank Holiday.

“We are, once again, pleased with Aer Lingus Regional’s continuous growth. This is the direct result of frequent, reliable services to key cities in the UK,” said Julian Carr, managing sirector at Stobart Air.

“We are especially pleased by the clear success of the Dublin to Newcastle route after a full year of service, and we are equally encouraged by the very positive commencement of the Dublin to Leeds Bradford route.”

Stobart Air is the franchise flying partner to leading Irish carrier Aer Lingus and more recently, international carrier Flybe, operating its services from London’s newest gateway, London Southend Airport, to six key European destinations.

Type 2 Diabetes Reversible, Says ESC on World Diabetes Day


Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, or reversed with simple lifestyle changes, one diabetes expert representing the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) is stressing on World Diabetes Day.

Given that the theme this year is Healthy Living and Diabetes,Dr Eberhard Standl (Munich Diabetes Research Group, Germany), an ESC spokesperson, is urging use of a simple questionnaire that can help people find out if they are at risk and whether they need to take action.

“The dramatic increase of type 2 diabetes worldwide has exceeded expectations. Globally there are 400 million people with type 2 diabetes and a similar number with the pre-stages of type 2 diabetes,” says Dr Standl.

The epidemic seems unstoppable, “but there is very good and strong evidence that people can stop diabetes with lifestyle changes,” he urges in an ESC statement issued to coincide with World Diabetes Day.

Meanwhile, the charity Diabetes UK is highlighting “10 Things to Think About on World Diabetes Day.”

Globally, someone dies every 7 seconds from diabetes, with an estimated 5 million deaths attributable to the disease in 2014. And 77% of the total number of people with diabetes now live in low- and middle-income countries with emerging economies, it stresses.

Also, type 1 diabetes is on the rise, it notes.

Researchers are trying to pinpoint the causes of the 3% increase, which means that currently almost 80,000 children every year under the age of 15 develop the disease.

Simple Questionnaire Can Help Guide People as to Risk

The ESC questionnaire asks about age, body mass index, waist circumference, physical activity, consumption of fruits and vegetables, use of antihypertensive medications, history of high blood glucose, and family history of type 1 or 2 diabetes.

Points are given depending on the answers provided, with a score lower than 7 indicating very low risk; 7 to 11, a slightly elevated risk (1 in 25 chance of developing type 2 diabetes); 12 to 14, a moderate risk of 1 in 6; 15 to 20, a high risk of 1 in 3; and more than 20, a very high risk of 1 in 2.

“The questionnaire is very easy and people can do it themselves. A score of 12 or higher indicates that you should take some preventive action. Regular physical exercise is the most important thing you can do, followed by eating fiber-rich foods, limiting saturated fats, and losing weight,” says Dr Standl.

“Many people hardly move during their working day and even during leisure time. To reverse or prevent type 2 diabetes, the goal is 30 minutes of decent physical exercise every day. This could be brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling, and should be combined with muscle training,” he added.

People who want to reverse early diabetes into a pre-stage of diabetes, or prevent type 2 diabetes from developing, need to lose about 5% of their body weight.

“There is no question that people who have had type 2 diabetes for just a short period of time can reverse it with a low calorie diet. This can be effective within 3 to 5 days. Of course the continuing challenge is to maintain the lower body weight,” he says.

And adopting lifestyle changes that prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes in the short term can also prevent death from cardiovascular disease over the long term, Dr Standl stresses.

“If you take the questionnaire and find out you’re at risk of diabetes, it’s not too late. Making positive changes by being more active, eating a healthy diet, and losing weight can reverse diabetes and is also good for your heart.”

Enjoy Food: People With Diabetes Can Eat the Same as Others

Diabetes UK is also marking World Diabetes Day by launching Enjoy Food, a program to help people with diabetes and their families eat more healthily.

The charity stresses that although having a healthy diet is an important part of managing diabetes, people with the condition can eat the same foods as anyone.

This is important to note, it says, because a recent survey commissioned by the charity indicates that only 40% of people would find it easy to tailor a meal for someone with diabetes, and only 62% of people would feel confident asking a guest with diabetes outright what they can and can’t eat.

In a statement, Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “It is worrying that so few people would find it easy to tailor a meal for someone with diabetes, as it suggests that there is a common misconception that having the condition has to mean substantial changes to what you eat.”

By making small changes to the way they shop, plan, and prepare their meals, people can eat food that is healthy as well as delicious, she says.

Enjoy Food includes recipes, expert diabetes nutritional information, as well as practical guides about shopping for food, meal planning, and healthy swaps.

Eating walnuts every day could reduce the chance of prostate cancer, study finds


Scientists found diets rich in nut or its oil slowed tumour growth in mice, also reduced cholesterol and increased sensitivity to the insulin

A daily handful of walnuts may stave off prostate cancer, according to new research.

Scientists have found diets rich in the nut, or its oil, slowed tumour growth in mice.

They also reduced cholesterol and increased sensitivity to the hormone insulin which helps prevent diabetes.

The secret to staving off prostate cancer? Scientists have found diets rich in the nut, or its oil, slowed tumour growth in mice.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (after skin cancer), but it can often be treated successfully. More than 2 million men in the US count themselves as prostate cancer survivors.

Some 35,000 Britons are diagnosed with it each year, and 10,000 die.

It is cancer that starts in the prostate gland.

The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of a man’s reproductive system.

It wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.

Walnuts are a ‘superfood’ naturally high in a host of health boosting chemicals, including omega-3 fatty acids, and have already been shown to protect against breast cancer and heart disease.

The latest findings showed they cut levels of the hormone IGF-1, which has been implicated in both prostate and breast cancer.

Dr Paul Davis, of the University of California at Davis, said: ‘For years, the United States government has been on a crusade against fat, and I think it has been to our detriment.

‘Walnuts are a perfect example. While they are high in fat, their fat does not drive prostate cancer growth.

‘In fact, walnuts do just the opposite when fed to mice.’

Some 35,000 Britons are diagnosed with it each year, and 10,000 die.

The new study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, was aimed at finding out if the beneficial properties were unique to walnuts, or whether it was a particular ingredient such as omega-3 fatty acids found in other foods.

The mice were fed whole walnuts, walnut oil or a walnut like fat for 18 weeks.

While the two former reduced cholesterol and slowed prostate cancer growth, in contrast, the latter did not have these effects, proving other nut components caused the improvements.

Dr Davis said: ‘We showed it is not the omega-3s by themselves, though, it could be a combination of the omega-3s with whatever else is in the walnut oil.

‘It is becoming increasingly clear in nutrition it is never going to be just one thing, it is always a combination.’

While the study did not pinpoint which combination of compounds in walnuts slows cancer growth, it did rule out fibre, zinc, magnesium and selenium.

In addition, the research demonstrated walnuts modulate several mechanisms associated with cancer growth.

Dr Davis said: ‘The energy effects from decreasing IGF-1 seem to muck up the works so the cancer cannot grow as fast as it normally would.

‘Also, reducing cholesterol means cancer cells may not get enough of it to allow these cells to grow quickly.’

The mice were fed whole walnuts, walnut oil or a walnut like fat for 18 weeks.While the two former reduced cholesterol and slowed prostate cancer growth, in contrast, the latter did not have these effects, proving other nut components caused the improvements.

In addition, the research showed increases in the chemical adiponectin and a tumour suppressor known as PSP94, as well as reduced levels of the COX-2 molecule, all markers for reduced prostate cancer risk.

Although results in mice do not always translate to humans, Dr Davis said his results suggest the benefits of incorporating walnuts into a healthy diet.

Other research which has assessed the Mediterranean diet also found eating walnuts reduced cancer mortality.

Added Dr Davis: ‘In our study the mice were eating the equivalent of 2.6 ounces of walnuts.

‘You need to realise 2.6 ounces of walnuts is about 482 calories.

‘That is not insignificant, but it is better than eating a serving of supersized fries, which has 61O calories.

‘In addition to the cancer benefit, we think you also get cardiovascular benefits that other walnut research has demonstrated.

‘It is the holiday season, and walnuts are part of any number of holiday dishes. Feel free to consume them in moderation.’

Females protect offspring from infanticide by forcing males to compete through sperm


Previous research has shown that infanticide by males is widespread in many mammal species, but most commonly occurs in those species where females live in social groups dominated by one or a few males.

Outsiders will fight dominant males for access to the females. When a rival male takes over a group, they will kill the infants of previously dominant males to render the females ‘sexually receptive’ again, so that they can sire their own offspring. This may be the main cause of infant mortality in some species, such as Chacma baboons.

Now, a new study published today in the journal Science shows that these brutal acts are strategic; males may only have a short time in charge before they themselves are deposed, and want to ensure the maternal investment of females is directed towards their own future offspring for the longest time possible.

However, the females of some species – such as the mouse lemur – have evolved a highly-effective counter-strategy to stop males from killing their offspring: by having as many mates as possible in a short amount of time. By confusing the paternity of the infants, known as ‘paternity dilution’, any male act of infanticide risks the possibility of killing his own offspring.

In such species, reproductive competition shifts to after copulation, not before – so that the most successful male is the one whose sperm out competes those of the others. This leads to males producing ever larger quantities of sperm, leading in turn to increases in testis size. The testes of male mouse lemurs swell 5-10 times larger during the breeding season.

“In species in which infanticide occurs, testis size increases over generations, suggesting that females are more and more promiscuous to confuse paternity,” said lead author Dr Dieter Lukas, from University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology.

The testes of male mouse lemurs swell 5-10 times larger during the breeding season.

“Once sperm competition has become so intense that no male can be certain of his own paternity, infanticide disappears – since males face the risk of killing their own offspring, and might not get the benefit of siring the next offspring.”

Closely related species that differ in infanticide and testes size include chimpanzees (males commit infanticide) versus bonobos (males have not been observed to kill offspring). Bonobos have testes that are roughly 15% larger than those of chimpanzees.

Male Canadian Townsend voles don’t commit infanticide, and have 50% larger testes compared to in fanticidal males of close relatives the North American meadow voles, says Lukas.

He conducted the research with his colleague Dr Elise Huchard, now based at the CNRS Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive in Montpellier.

Fifty years ago, observations of wild Hanuman langurs shattered previous depictions of monkey groups as peaceful, supportive societies, says Lukas, as new males that had just taken control of a group of females frequently killed all juveniles.

Subsequent observations have accumulated over the years on various mammals to show that infanticide by males is a widespread phenomenon, occurring in species from house mice to lions and gorillas. In some species, he says, the biggest risk faced by infants might not actually be predators or diseases, but the adult males of their own species.

In the latest study, Lukas and Huchard compiled and compared detailed field observations for 260 mammalian species to show that male infanticide occurs in species where sexual conflict is most intense, and reproduction is monopolised by a minority of males. The researchers’ findings indicate that infanticide is a manifestation of sexual conflict in mammalian social systems.

Infanticide may be the main cause of infant mortality in some species, such as Chacma baboons.

“While it had previously been suggested that infanticide might be an evolutionary driver in mammalian societies – leading to females allying themselves with other females or forming bonds with a specific male in order to defend their offspring – we’ve now shown that this isn’t the case: male infanticide is a consequence of variation in sociality, most commonly occurring in species where both sexes live together in stable groups,” said Lukas.

The researchers say the new study supports the idea that infanticide isn’t a general trait present in all species, but is strategic and occurs only when it is advantageous to males. The study reveals the reversible nature of male infanticide, and that it is successfully prevented by the ‘paternity dilution’ strategy of female sexual promiscuity.

Added Huchard: “Male infanticide appears and disappears over evolutionary times according to the state of the evolutionary arms race between the sexes. Although infanticide may not have contributed to shape the diversity of mammalian social systems, it has deeply influenced the evolution of sexual behaviour and sex roles.

“This study also highlights that some of the greatest challenges faced by mammals during their lifetime come from others of their own species.”

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 9th July 2014

The Members of Ireland’s banking inquiry advisory group now announced


Group of public and private sector banking specialists will assist our Oireachtas Committe.

The Advisory Group will assist the Oireachtas committee in its proposal for the banking inquiry.

UCD economist Colm McCarthy, comptroller and auditor general Seamus McCarthy, and US economist Megan Greene are three of the nine members of the ad-hoc advisory group announced today to assist in the impending banking inquiry.

The group, which will work on a pro-bono basis, will assist the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry committee in preparing a detailed proposal for the banking inquiry for submission to the CPPs of both Houses by September 17th 2014.

The other members of the group are: Pat Casey, principal officer (Department of Finance);Paul Gorecki, adjunct professor of economics, Trinity College Dublin (Research Affiliate ESRI); Cathal Guiomard, economist, former Aviation Commissioner for Ireland; Conor McCabe, research fellow, UCD School of Social Justice; Rafique Mottiar, consultant economist (Central Bank); and John Shaw, assistant secretary (Department of the Taoiseach).

Committee chairman Ciarán Lynch said that the group had its first meeting yesterday when members were briefed on the work of the committee and the legal and procedural framework for the inquiry. There was also a preliminary discussion on the potential scope of the inquiry.

The group will meet again on Friday July 11th, Friday July 18th and Tuesday July 22nd and an interim report will be given to the committee at its meeting on Wednesday July 23rd.

The Committee also examined potential costs and administrative and logistical issues in relation to the inquiry.

Deputy Lynch said: “A key issue for members is that expenditure related to the inquiry should be kept to a minimum and that the operation of the inquiry should at all times be cost effective, efficient and reasonable and the Committee will keep estimates of costs under continued review.”

Too few people testing  for radon in Irish homes


Some 181 homes with high levels of the cancer-causing gas, radon, have been detected in Ireland in the past eight months, including four homes which had levels that were 10-22 times over the acceptable limit, the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has said.

Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas present in all rocks and soils, is classified as a class A carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. When it surfaces in the open air, it is quickly diluted to harmless concentrations. However, when it enters an enclosed space, such as a house, it can sometimes build up to high concentrations, leading to an ‘unacceptable health risk’.

After smoking, long-term exposure to radon gas in the home is the greatest single cause of lung cancer in Ireland. The gas is linked to around 250 cancer deaths here every year.

According to the RPII, four homes were found to have very high radon levels of between 10 and 22 times the acceptable limit. Two of these houses were in Galway, one in Sligo and one in Wexford.

“The families living in these homes would have received a radiation dose equivalent to up to 15 chest x-rays every day,” the RPII noted.

Altogether, almost 1,200 homeowners had their homes tested for radon over the last eight months, however Dr Ann McGarry, chief executive of the RPII, believes this figure is ‘very low’.

“Our research indicates that there are over 91,000 Irish homes with high levels of radon and, so far, only about 8,000 of these have been identified. Many families are unnecessarily being exposed to high levels of radon in their home and they just don’t know it. All people have to do is take this simple test to see if their home contains radon and if so it’s easily fixed,” she said.

  In addition to the four homes with particularly high radon levels, a further 25 homes were found to have radon levels that were up to 10 times above acceptable limits. These were located in Galway (8), Wexford (5), Kerry (4), Mayo (2), Sligo (2), Waterford (2), Tipperary (1) and Dublin (1).

Meanwhile Dr McGarry also pointed out that just one in four homeowners who did test and discover a high reading, ‘have taken action to reduce the high level of radon present’.

“That means three-quarters of homeowners are living with the knowledge that they are putting their family at risk when the problem can easily be fixed,” she said.

In order to test for radon, a detector should be placed in a bedroom and a second detector should be placed in a living room for a three-month period. These detectors are available from the RPII and a number of private companies. They are sent and returned by post for analysis. Nobody needs to come to your home.

The cost of a measurement by the RPII is around €50.

If a moderate radon level is found, improving your home’s indoor ventilation may cut this by up to half. The cost of this is low. If higher levels are found, installation of a fan assisted sump is the most common method of remediation. This can reduce radon levels by over 90%.

The sump can be installed in one day by a contractor, with little disruption to the home. The typical cost of this work is around €850, with annual running costs of around €100 depending on the size of fan installed.

An interactive map is available on the RPII website here to allow you to see if you are in a high radon area. Alternatively, more information is available on 1800 300 600.

Aer Lingus moves operations to Terminal 2 in Heathrow London


Passengers to enjoy shorter walking distances and quicker transfer times

Aer Lingus currently operates 48 flights in and out of Heathrow Airport.

Passengers travelling to London Heathrow with Aer Linguswill enjoy shorter walking distances and quicker transfer times after the airline moves to Terminal 2 today.

All 48 Aer Lingus flights per day to and from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Belfast City airports will now operate out of the new €3 billion terminal, known as the Queen’s Terminal, which opened last month.

The “gate to kerb” time will be 50 per cent less than before, while transfers to other flights will be “seamless”, the airline said.

New flight connections will also be made possible through the same terminal with a number of partner airlines, including United Airlines and Air Canada.

Transport links will be easier too. The Heathrow Express is accessible from beside the arrivals hall, with Paddington Station a 15-minute ride away.

The new Aer Lingus check-in desk is located inside the main departures area in Zone C. The airline is the third-largest operator at Heathrow, and is one of 26 making the move to Terminal 2.

The terminal has 52 shops and 17 bars and restaurants. A new Aer Lingus lounge for business class and Gold Circle customers is 50 per cent larger than the original, with showers, meeting rooms and a quiet area.

How to manage ewes successfully post weaning time in Ireland


Appropriate ewe management post-weaning is critical to ensure a successful drying off and ensuring that the ewes will be back in optimum body condition before the next mating season.

Teagasc advises farmers to dry the ewes off by restricting intake for a week to 10 days. It says a bare field is ideal for this job. If the ewes are being housed, then pay particular attention to bedding/hygiene to avoid mastitis. Once the drying off procedure has been carried out, the ewes should be condition scored and divided into groups based on their condition scores. Every farm should have a minimum of two groups of dry ewes.

The first group, which will be the ewes that are in a body condition score of less than 3.5, should receive preferential treatment so that they put on weight.

The second group will be the fatter ewes that are in body condition score of 3.5 and over and these should be managed to maintain or even lose a small bit of weight until the flushing period in the last two to three weeks prior to mating.

Teagasc advise that ewes that do not respond to additional feed in terms of putting on additional liveweight should be culled.

Grassland management

June and July are the most challenging months in terms of keeping grass leafy and highly digestible, according to Teagasc.

It says lamb performance will be maximised where lambs are allowed to preferentially graze paddocks with a grass height of between 6cm and 8cm. Once lambs are moved out of swards, it is essential that they are grazed out fully to maintain grass quality into August/September.

Because the lambs will be moved out at around 6cm, Teagasc advise that it is necessary to get other stock to graze out the sward fully (down to 4cm). Weaned ewes are ideal to clean out these swards. If there is no stock on the farm that can do this job, then the sward will need to be mowed/ topped down to 4-5cm.

Ginger haired people face extinction due to sunshine, scientists now say


Gingers could be facing extinction as the red hair gene – thought to be a response to cloudy weather in Ireland and Scotland – is predicted to die out with climate change.

A gene mutation that yields red hair and pale skin which is more sensitive to light leaves DNA in skill cells more prone to sun damage and cancer, and if predictions of rising temperatures are correct evolution might cause it to regress.

Dr Alistair Moffat, managing director of Galashiels-based ScotlandsDNA, said: “We think red hair in Scotland, Ireland and in the North of England is adaption to the climate.

“I think the reason for light skin and red hair is that we do not get enough sun and we have to get all the Vitamin D we can.

“If the climate is changing and it is to become more cloudy or less cloudy then this will affect the gene.

“If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, then yes, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.

Only 1-2% of the world’s population have red hair, though in Ireland about 10% are ginger, but it is reported that a staggering 46% are carriers of the red-head variants.

In Scotland 13% of the population are ginger and 40% are thought to carry the gene.

Another scientist, who did not wish to be named due to the theoretical nature of the work, told ScotlandNow: “I think the regressive gene is slowly dying out.

“Climate change could see a decline in the number of people with red hair in Scotland.

“It would take many hundreds of years for this to happen.

“Red hair and blue eyes are not adapted to a warm climate.

“It is just a theory but the recessive gene may likely be lost. The recessive gene could be in danger.”

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 3rd July 2013

New Aer-Lingus route expansion to create 200 jobs


AER Lingus is to expand its transatlantic operations with new year round services to San Francisco and Toronto.

Airline chiefs and Government claimed the investment in the North American market would boost links with Silicon Valley and also bring tourists into Ireland.

Aer Lingus said the expansion would create 200 jobs.

Christoph Mueller, the airline’s chief executive, said the carrier’s transatlantic business is going from strength to strength.

“Our transatlantic capacity will increase by 24% in 2014, following on from the 13% additional capacity in our 2013 transatlantic schedule,” he said.

“Our operation of the San Francisco route will strengthen Ireland’s ties with Silicon Valley and encourage Ireland’s development as a technology hub for Europe.”

Leo Varadkar, Transport Minister, said: “This Government has always sought to improve air access to key tourism and business markets, such as the US and Canada.

“The return of the direct air service to the US west coast is particularly important and I’m very happy to see the route being filled by an Irish airline.”

Aer Lingus will run five services a week from Dublin to San Francisco from April next year. A daily direct service to Toronto will kick in at the same time for the summer season with up to four services a week in the winter.

Aer Lingus said the investment will support jobs in the airline and aircraft leasing company the ASL Aviation Group.

As part of the wider transatlantic operations, new aircraft will be based in Shannon offering increased frequency in and out of New York and Boston.

Emily O’Reilly successfully elected as European Ombudsman


Ireland’s Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has been elected as the next European Ombudsman and will take up her new post in October, it was announced today.

Ms O’ Reilly’s victory was welcomed by the outgoing European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros who  said she would pursue the job with dynamism and vision.

Her departure opens the way for the appointment of a new Ombudsman and Information Commissioner here.,Ms O Reilly has been in the post since 2003 and was re-appointed for a new six year term in 2009.

She was famously described as “Blonde Ambition” by former Fianna Fail  government press secretary PJ Mara who clashed with her during her previous career as a political correspondent.

Mr Diamandouros said “I am convinced that Emily O’Reilly will pursue with dedication, dynamism, and vision the European Ombudsman’s goal of serving as a bridge between European citizens and theEU administration.

“Her experience in impressively restructuring and successfully running an ombudsman institution at the national level will undoubtedly be extremely valuable to her new institution.

“I am also sure that she will give further impetus to the European Ombudsman’s close cooperation with the ombudsman community in Europe, in which she has played a prominent role over the past ten years. I congratulate her warmly and wish her the very best in leading the European Ombudsman institution forward.”

A former journalist Ms O’ Reilly – who is in her mid fifties – is a native of Tullamore, Co Offaly and is married with five children. She is  a graduate ofUniversity College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.

She was also the recipient of a Niemann Fellowship in Journalism at Harvard University, Cambridge, U.S.A.  In December 2008 Ms O’Reilly was awarded a Doctor of Laws by the National University of Ireland in recognition of her contribution to public service and to human rights.

Irish Government approves the closure of St Patrick’s Institution


The Government has approved the closure of the controversial St Patrick’s Institution, which is a detention centre for young offenders.

A proposal to shut it down was brought before the Cabinet last night by Justice Minister Alan Shatter and accepted.

Mr Shatter decided on the immediate closure, which was revealed in the Irish Independent on Monday, after studying the contents of damning reports on St Patrick’s from the inspector of prisons, Judge Michael Reilly.

The judge issued a heavily critical report last autumn and issued a number of recommendations.

It is understood he was not happy with the implementation of the recommendations and as a result the minister opted for closure.

In the meantime, 16 year old offenders have been transferred to Oberstown and Trinity House centres in north county Dublin.

It is expected that the remaining prisoners, aged between 17 and 21 years, will now be moved to another Dublin jail.

The population of St Patrick’s has dropped from 230 two years ago to 120 today because of the changes.

Senior staff at the institution were informed of the shutdown proposal on Sunday.

Lithium Lowers the Risk of Suicide in Those With Mood Disorders


A study published in the journal bmj.com reveals that the drug lithium is effective in lowering the risk of suicide and self harm in those with mood disorders.

“The drug seems to reduce the risk of death and suicide by more than 60% compared with placebo. This review reinforces lithium as an effective agent to reduce the risk of suicide in people with mood disorders, ” author’s of the study state.

One of the leading causes of global disability is mood disorders. The two types of mood disorders are – unipolar disorder, a clinical depression, and bipolar depression, which is manic depression.  Both these disorders cause serious long term conditions that involve extreme mood swings. Those with bipolar depression experience mania and hypomania.

People who suffer from mood disorders are at 30 times greater risk of suicide compared to the general public. The only way to keep their moods in normal limits is with the help of stabilising drugs such as lithium, anticonvulsants or antipsychotics. But not much is known about their role in suicide prevention.

In order to check whether lithium has a preventive effect for self harm and suicide in those with unipolar and bipolar mood disorders, a team of researchers from the universities of Oxford, U.K., and Verona in Italy conducted a study.

They examined the results of 48 randomized controlled trials that were done on 6,674 participants. The participants were given lithium with placebo or active drugs in long treatment for mood disorders. They noticed that compared to the placebo, lithium was more effective in lowering the number of suicide and deaths from any cause. But they couldn’t trace any clear benefits for lithium when compared to placebo in preventing self harm.

On comparing lithium with each active drug treatment, a statistically important disparity was noticed only with carbamazepine for intentional self harm.  Overall, compared to other active treatments, lithium was better.

“This updated systematic review reinforces lithium as an effective agent to reduce the risk of suicide in people with mood disorders,” say the authors.

They continue to state that lithium exerts anti suicidal effect by lowering relapses of mood disorders. There is also evidence that states lithium decreases aggression and possibly impulsivity.

They conclude saying, “Clinicians need to take a balanced view of the likely benefits and harm of lithium in the individual patient. Understanding the mechanism by which lithium acts to decrease suicidal behavior could lead to a better understanding of the neurobiology of suicide.”

The top three pension myths


After hundreds of consultations over the past 12 months we compiled a list of the three most frequent pension misconceptions.

Guaranteed final salary schemes

The most common myth about UK private pensions is that final salary (defined benefit) schemes are guaranteed.

The second most commonly held incorrect assumption was that final salary schemes always increase in value each year; and the third that final salary schemes automatically provide for spouses and dependants when the member dies.

It has become clear that there is a lot of misinformation and, in some cases, downright lies in the public domain about UK private pensions.

This must be addressed urgently as it could seriously compromise people’s long-term financial planning strategies. The myths need to be busted.

The belief that final salary, or defined benefit, pensions are guaranteed is simply not true in the vast majority of cases.

Find the best annuity rate for your circumstances

Defined benefit (DB) schemes are, by their very nature, reliant on the financial stability of the members’ firm. The question someone, especially a younger worker, should ask themselves is ‘will my company still exist and be financially sound in three or four decades’ time when I come to draw my pension?’

Also, it should be remembered that pension formulas can, and often do, change over time and such modifications can significantly alter how much a member accumulates in their pension fund.

DB pensions

Next there is the idea that DB pensions always annually increase in value. While the value on paper may indeed increase, what members need to bear in mind is the real return that is being achieved after inflation has been taken into account. The majority of pension schemes are now applying increases in line with CPI (consumer prices index) rather than RPI (retail prices index) and the government forecasts that CPI will be 1.2% less per annum than RPI over the long term.

Final salary pension

Finally, we have the belief that spouses and children will receive a member’sfinal salary pension should that member die. In many cases a spouse will receive 50% of the income the pension member was receiving on death – but again, this is not guaranteed. Due to the increasing liabilities that pension schemes are facing, many are now changing the terms in which spousal benefits are paid.

Such changes include amending the amount of annual increases the spouse will receive annually on the pension, pension reductions for considerably younger spouses (more than 10 years), and declining spousal pensions if the spouse is a non-UK domicile and the marriage was not registered in the UK.

The earths climate extremes are ‘unprecedented’


More national temperature records were broken in the last decade than in previous ones

The Earth experienced unprecedented recorded climate extremes during the decade 2001-2010, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

Its new report says more national temperature records were reported broken than in previous decades.

There was an increase in deaths from heatwaves over that decade.

This was particularly pronounced during the extreme summers in Europe in 2003 and in the Russian Federation during 2010.

But despite the decade being the second wettest since 1901 (with 2010 the wettest year recorded) fewer people died from floods than in the previous decade.

Better warning systems and increased preparedness take much of the credit for the reduced deaths. The WMO says smarter climate information will be needed as the climate continues to change.

Its report, The Global Climate 2001-2010, A Decade of Climate Extremes, analysed global and regional trends, as well as extreme events such as Hurricane Katrina, floods in Pakistan and droughts in the Amazon, Australia and East Africa.

The decade was the warmest for both hemispheres and for both land and ocean surface temperatures. The record warmth was accompanied by a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice, and accelerating loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and from glaciers.

Global mean sea levels rose about 3mm per year – about double the observed 20th century trend of 1.6mm per year. Global sea level averaged over the decade was about 20cm higher than in 1880.

The report notes that the high temperatures in the decade were achieved without a strong episode of the El Nino current which typically warms the world. It says that a strong El Nino episode would probably have driven temperatures even higher.

Although overall temperature rise has slowed down since the 1990s, the WMO says temperatures are still rising because of greenhouse gases from human society.

The WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said: “Natural climate variability, caused in part by interactions between our atmosphere and oceans means that some years are cooler than others. On an annual basis, the global temperature curve is not a smooth one. On a long-term basis the underlying trend is clearly in an upward direction, more so in recent times.”

But climate change doubters emphasise the lack of movement in temperatures throughout the decade.

Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), told BBC News that the issue hinged on the time frame.

“For longer periods (two decades or longer) we found a robust and a statistically significant warming trend,” he said. For shorter periods – a decade or less – there is no longer a significant temperature trend of either sign, consistent with the reports of a recent ‘plateauing’ of global temperatures.”

Even so, many climate scientists are alarmed by the consistently high temperatures during the decade. Every year of the decade except 2008 was among the 10 warmest on record.

The warmest year ever recorded was 2010, with a temperature estimated at 0.54C above the 14.0C long-term average of 1961-1990 base period, followed closely by 2005.

Greenland recorded the largest decadal temperature anomaly, +1.71C above the long-term average and with a temperature in 2010 of +3.2C above average. Africa experienced warmer than normal conditions in every year of the decade.

Results from WMO’s survey showed that nearly 94% of reporting countries had their warmest decade in 2001-2010. No country reported a nationwide average decadal temperature cooler than the long term average.