Tag Archives: carbon dioxide

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday 15th October 2016

Irish Cabinet now expected to agree to waive scheduled pay increases

Image result for Irish Cabinet now expected to agree to waive scheduled pay increases  Image result for Richard Bruton  Image result for Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said ministers were in line for rises worth €12,000 over three years.

Richard Bruton said ministers will not be taking the scheduled pay increases and the Cabinet is expected to agree next week to waive pay hikes for Ministers and Ministers of State.

Ministers were due to get increases under the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement on public sector pay.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe will bring a proposal to extend the freeze on pay restoration for Government members meaning they will forego €12,000 over the next three years.

However TDs will get their pay restored by €5,414 over the same period according to the Department of Public Enterprise, since 2009, TDs’ pay has been reduced by €19,920.

The pay of the taoiseach has been reduced by €117,645 since 2009, a reduction of 41.1%.

The pay of the tánaiste has been reduced by €89,828 since 2009, a reduction of 36.6%.

The pay of a minister has been reduced by €82,023 since 2009, a reduction of 36.4%.

The pay of a minister of state has been reduced by €43,698 since 2009, a reduction of 28%.

Earlier, Minister for Education Richard Bruton told the Dáil that ministers will agree next week to forgo pay increases.

Speaking in the Dáil, the minister said he agreed that politicians need to take a lead and that the Government will confirm next week that ministers will not be taking the proposed pay rise.

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said ministers were in line for rises worth €12,000 over three years.

A stop must be put to all increases for politicians, she said and not just “a voluntary pause on these increases”.

We are like athletes says Trump & proposes drug testing before the final debate

Republican’s suggest Hillarly Clinton may have taken performance-enhancing drugs in last showdown and at New Hamphire rally repeats suspicion of a ‘rigged’ election

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Donald Trump suggested on Saturday that Hillary Clinton might have taken performance-enhancing drugs to prepare for their presidential debates, and that both candidates for president should be tested before Wednesday’s final debate.

“We’re like athletes,” the Republican nominee told a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “They make them take a drug test. I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate. I think we should – why don’t we do that?”

Trump continued: “We should take a drug test prior because I don’t know what’s going on with her, but at the beginning of her last debate she was all pumped up at the beginning and at the end if was, ‘Huh, take me down.’ She could barely reach her car. So I think we should take a drug test. Anyway, I’m willing to do it.”

Trump’s campaign has previously criticised the media for taking his rally statements literally, for instance saying that the candidate was being “sarcastic” when he said Barack Obama “founded” Isis. Aides have yet to say whether he was speaking tongue in cheek.

Life after Trump: Republicans brace for betrayal and civil war after 2016

The health of both candidates has been under scrutiny in the final months of the grueling 2016 campaign. Clinton was slow to reveal a bout of pneumonia, which her campaign only revealed after she made a premature departure from an 11 September memorial service in New York.

Trump’s repeated sniffling during the first two debates has also drawn attention, and Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, was forced to apologise for tweeting a suggestion that it could be due to cocaine use.

The Trump campaign did not respond to questions about what drugs the candidate was suggesting could have been used to enhance Clinton’s debate performance .

A pro-Trump Super Pac, run by millionaire donor Robert Mercer, released an ad earlier this month questioning Clinton’s health. “If athletes need to be tested for drugs for the biggest race of their lives,” the ad says, “shouldn’t candidates be tested for the biggest race of yours?”

With his campaign in a tailspin after several women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, Trump began Saturday with another barrage of tweets that have become a hallmark of his campaign. In them, he alleged that the election was rigged and suggested that a loss on November 8 would be illegitimate. He wrote in one: “100% fabricated and made-up charges, pushed strongly by the media and the Clinton Campaign, may poison the minds of the American Voter. FIX!”

Donald Trump ‘grabbed me and went for the lips’, says a ninth accuser?

In another, he said: “This election is being rigged by the media pushing false and unsubstantiated charges, and outright lies, in order to elect Crooked Hillary!”

And a third: “Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail. Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election.”

The Republican nominee has repeatedly suggested that the election is “rigged” over the past few months and warned of voter fraud, without any evidence. Since August, Trump has stirred conspiracy theories in the swing state of Pennyslvania, warning of fraud in “certain areas”, such as Philadelphia, a diverse but majority black city. He has also echoed a 2012 conspiracy theory that Mitt Romney fell victim to voter fraud in the city that year, because he did not receive a single vote in 59 precincts in African American neighborhoods. There are 1,687 precincts in the city and Obama received more than 85% of the vote there in 2012.

Trump picked up the theme during his rally in New Hampshire, scene of his first victory in the Republican primary campaign. “Hillary Clinton is running for president in what looks like a rigged election, OK?” he said. “It looks to me like a rigged election. The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president. And you know what I mean.”

The businessman has been widely condemned by members of both parties for seeking to undermine the legitimacy of the election. But introducing Trump on Saturday, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions fueled the fire. “They are attempting to rig this election,” he said, shaking his fists. “They will not succeed.”

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, denounced the claim. “Campaigns should be hard-fought and elections hard-won, but what is fundamental about the American electoral system is that it is free, fair and open to the people,” he said.

‘I’m a gentleman’ as Trump menaces Clinton with imposing presence and brash insults

“Participation in the system – and particularly voting – should be encouraged, not dismissed or undermined because a candidate is afraid he’s going to lose.”

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said the top Republican in Washington does not agree with Trump’s assertion of fraud. “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,” she said.

A spokesperson for Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus did not respond to a request for comment and a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to comment about whether they agreed that the election is “rigged.” Priebus, McConnell and Ryan continue to support Trump although dozens of their party colleagues have denounced him.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson also disputed the claim, with spokesman Joe Hunter saying “he doesn’t believe the actual voting is rigged”. “He has major issues with the two-party control of ballot access, debates, etc,” Hunter added.

In contrast, Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a fierce Trump critic, tweeted on Saturday: “Freedom-loving Americans repudiate anybody who says they want to make lawful voters ‘a little bit nervous’ at polls.”

Trump also attempted to defend himself against the repeated sexual harassment allegations. “How about this crazy woman on the airplane,” he said of one accuser. “I mean, can anybody believe that one? How about this? After 15 minutes! We don’t know each other.”

“After 15 minutes, she says, ‘Well, that was too much, I decided’. Fifteen minutes! With the ladies in this place it would be one second and then it would be smack. Fifteen minutes! It’s a crazy world we’re living in.”

Fianna Fáil wants changes to first-time buyer scheme

Fianna Fáil is to put pressure on Government ministers to vote in favour of changing their own first-time buyers scheme.

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The main opposition party is now seeking the support of the Independent Alliance when they table amendments the new first-time buyers scheme.

Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen yesterday said: “I will be asking the Independent Alliance to support the amendments we table, in particular we will be asking them to back our amendment to lower the ceiling to €400,000.”

The tax rebate announced as part of the budget will allow first-time buyers to claim up to €20,000 back on a new home. Buyers can claim back 5% of the price of a €400,000 and above that the rebate will be capped at €20,000, however those who purchase homes up to the value of €600,000 will all be eligible for the scheme.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney yesterday defended the €600,000 ceiling by saying he didn’t want to create a “cliff effect”.

“If someone was buying a house for €405,000 we didn’t want them to get nothing, yet a person buying a house for €400,000 would get support from the State to the tune of €20,000. So that’s why we effectively stopped the benefit at €400,000 and then the benefit is frozen beyond that up to €600,000. But we don’t expect first-time buyers will be buying houses at above €400,000 in any numbers.”

Mr Coveney said that in total first-time buyers bought 760 homes across the country last year.

“Builders simply aren’t building homes for that sector. And we need to change that.”

But Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said the incentive would only push up prices and called on them to withdraw the scheme.

“If Mr Coveney is going to press ahead, he needs to outline how he’s going to monitor house prices over the next 12 to 18 months, and if there’s any evidence of house price inflation — as we believe there is going to be — then he needs to suspend the scheme.”

He said the Oireachtas housing committee had spent a “lot of time” speaking with experts on the issues but this work had been “ignored” by Mr Coveney.

“In general our view was that we needed to see the price of house reduce, rather than schemes to increase access to credit,” said Mr Ó Broin. “What we proposed back in June was that the Housing Agency be given a task of doing an annual audit of the all-in cost of providing residential units, and within three months — and that would have been in time for the budget — to make clear policy recommendations based on evidence and international best practice, as how to reduce those costs.”

UHG Inquiry after amputation of toes was performed in non-sterile ward hospital

A review is under way in University Hospital Galway into why the procedure was not in theatre

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It is understood that theatre space had been booked for a patient who was due to have several toes amputated in one procedure.

University Hospital Galway has initiated a “review” into how an amputation scheduled for theatre took place in a general ward yesterday.

The hospital run by the Saolta University health care group in Galway city could not outline the circumstances due to “patient confidentiality”. However, it confirmed that the incident had occurred.

It is understood that theatre space had been booked for a patient who was due to have several toes amputated in one procedure. However, the procedure was carried out in a ward instead. It is understood that nursing staff were concerned that protocols may have been breached. Medical protocols normally require that amputations take place under sterile conditions and under anaesthetic in a theatre.

A procedure room?

In certain circumstances surgical procedures can take place in a clinical or procedure room. This might occur if theatre space was not available, or the surgery was being carried out under local anaesthetic. A spokesman for Saolta health care group management said in a statement that “an inquiry has been initiated into how an amputation took place in a ward rather than a theatre at University Hospital, Galway”.

“We can confirm that management at University Hospital Galway are currently reviewing the circumstances surrounding a surgical procedure carried out today at ward level,” the statement said. “In the interests of patient confidentiality, no further comment will be made,” it added.

The hospital is one of the busiest in the State, and pressure on its emergency department has led to implementation of full capacity protocols on a series of occasions in recent months.

Man who saved baby at Buncrana tragedy pier gets medal for bravery

Davitt Walsh who swam out to car where five drowned among those honoured in Dublin.

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Davitt Walsh, who rescued a child from drowning off Buncrana pier in March, with his mother Siobhán, as he received the Michael Heffernan gold medal for bravery at Farmleigh, Dublin.

The Donegal man who rescued a four-month-old baby from a car which was sinking off Buncrana pier earlier this year has been awarded a gold medal by the State.

Davitt Walsh (29), who brought Rionaghac-Ann McGrotty to safety after the car in which her family was travelling slipped off the Co Donegal pier, was conferred with the Michael Heffernan gold medal for marine gallantry on Friday evening.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross, who presented the awards at Farmleigh House, Dublin, paid tribute to Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitríona Lucas, who lost her life during a search off Co Clare last month.

The nominations for this round of awards had closed before Ms Lucas lost her life.

The citation for Mr Walsh’s action in Buncrana extols his bravery at “huge peril to his own safety” and his “quick reactions to a very rapidly deteriorating situation”.

Five people, including the baby’s father Seán, and two brothers Mark (12) and Evan (8), died in the incident on Lough Swilly on March 20th. The RNLI Lough Swilly lifeboat crew who assisted in the alert received a ministerial letter of appreciation.

The gold medal – named after the late diver Michael Heffernan who lost his life while assisting in a cave rescue off north Mayo in October 1997 – was also awarded to Irish Coast Guard helicopter winchman Gary Robertson for his rescue of a fisherman off Inishinny island, Co Donegal, last April.

Mr Robertson worked in very dangerous conditions to cut the fisherman free when he became entangled and trapped in gear attached to a sinking vessel.

A bronze medal was presented to Sam Nunn and his crew of Ruarí Nunn, Brian Kehoe and Niall McGee, who rescued nine people from drowning close to the Saltee Islands off the south Wexford coast in August 2015.

Bronze medals were also given to Paul Dolan and Dean Treacy, who rescued a man from a rigid inflatable off Clontarf, Dublin, in October 2012; and to Charlie Hennigar, who rescued three people after a gangway collapsed between a pier and ferry on Inisheer in June of this year.

Ministerial letters of appreciation for their role in rescues were also awarded to the Skerries Coast Guard unit in north Dublin; the RNLI Castletownbere and Kinsale lifeboat crews in Cork; the Irish Coast Guard’s rescue 116 helicopter crew and its winchman Richard Desay; Dean Coleman who rescued a swimmer off Sandycove, Dublin, last summer; and Gavin Byrne who rescued three people off the Wexford coast last year.

Some 150 countries agree to sign new Climate Change deal

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About 150 countries have agreed to a deal reducing greenhouse gases far more powerful than carbon dioxide in an effort to fight climate change.

The agreement divides countries into three groups with different deadlines to reduce the use of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon gases, according to Rwandan minister Vinncent Biruta.

The developed nations, including most of Europe and the US, will reduce their use of the gas by 10% before 2019, reaching 85% by 2036.

More than 100 developing countries, including China, the world’s worst polluter, will freeze their use of the gas by 2024.

A small group of countries, including India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and some Gulf states negotiated a later start in 2029.

That date is two years earlier than India, the world’s third-worst polluter, had initially suggested.

These countries will then reduce their use gradually.

Environmental groups say they hope the deal can cut global warming by a half-degree celsius by the end of this century.

Durwood Zaelke, president of Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said the agreement gets about 90% of the way there, with a statement from his group describing it as the ‘largest temperature reduction ever achieved by a single agreement’.

Clare Perry, UK climate campaign leader with the Environmental Investigation Agency, said: ‘Compromises had to be made, but 85% of developing countries have committed to the early schedule starting 2024, which is a very significant achievement.’

David Doniger, climate and clean air program director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the deal is ‘equal to stopping the entire world’s fossil-fuel CO2 emissions for more than two years.’

Small island states, such as those in the Pacific, had called for quicker action, saying that they face the biggest danger from climate change.

Mattlan Zackhras, representing the Marshall Islands, said: ‘(The deal) may not be entirely what the islands wanted but it is a good deal.

‘We all know we must go further and we will go further.’

HFCs were introduced in the 1980s to replace ozone-depleting gases.

They are used in fridges, air conditioning, some inhalers and insulating foams.

But they can be 100,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases and their danger increased as sales of fridges and air conditioning massively increased in developing economies such as China and India.


News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 20th November 2014

Taoiseach Kenny hopes Obama will help Irish undocumented to travel home & back


Enda Kenny wants the US president to allow stranded immigrants the ‘right to travel’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said “I think this is very important for Irish emigrants who are immigrants to the US they have the right to come home and the right to travel back.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says he hopes US President Barack Obama will allow “stranded” undocumented Irish to travel to and from Ireland while on the path to American citizenship.

Speaking at Croke Park in Dublin this afternoon, Mr Kenny said he was looking forward to Mr Obama’s announcement tonight on his plans to change the US immigration system.

“We want to see a situation where there is a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the United States including the 50,000 that we have here from Ireland.

“But one point that I think is very important for Irish emigrants who are immigrants to the United States is while that pathway is being set up that they would have the right to come home and the right to travel back.”

Mr Kenny indicated he and Mr Obama discussed the matter last March in Washington.

“I would like to see the president include the right to travel home and back while people set about the path to citizenship. If they want to be citizens of the US and they pay their social security and they pay their taxes I feel that’s an issue with Irish people and the diaspora have made that point very strongly to me.”

The Taoiseach said he recently opened a family room in a hospital, and one feature of the room was a large screen for people who are undocumented and can not travel when somebody dies at home. “That’s a sad fact,” he said.

“I look forward to the president’s announcement very much indeed,” he added. Mr Kenny was speaking after attending an Comhairle na nÓg event.

Don’t blame the German’s for Ireland’s economic woes


The suggestion that German banks had a kamikaze fascination with Ireland touches an Irish victim button but stems from confusion over the German banks with interests in Ireland

‘I have yet to find any compelling data to suggest that German banks were over-represented in Irish banks just before the bailout’

Writer, activist and film-maker Thomas Fazi asks a pertinent question in The Irish Times (November 18th). Why do countries who fundamentally disagree with Germany’s austerity approach to managing the euro crisis not step in and put an end to it? Unfortunately, he leaves this question dangling.

Perhaps because a pro-active approach would undermine his article’s passive, periphery victim narrative. Countries like Ireland are solely victims, not beneficiaries, of the euro area and are now easy prey for the bloc’s largest member, Germany, he suggests.

In Fazi’s framing, the last decade of boom, bust and austerity in the euro area are one big “Made in Germany” conspiracy.

The problem at the heart of his argument is how, with a mixture of suggestion and omission, he revives the “German banks shouldn’t have given us so much money” narrative that played out in the Irish media during the bailout years.

Fazi says German banks lent banks in Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal and Italy some $720 billion at the end of 2009. He doesn’t say where he got the number, nor does he put it in context. $720 billion is a lot of money but Germany is a big country and the five recipient countries, with a total population of 120 million, were capital-hungry markets before the crash. In hindsight, they were bad investments, but few were listening in 2009.

Is he suggesting German banks deliberately, recklessly, lent into Ireland and other periphery countries?

This suggestion, that German banks had a kamikaze fascination with Ireland, has been doing the rounds for some years now. It touches an Irish victim button but stems from confusion over the German banks with interests in Ireland. Most came to the IFSC to take advantage of Ireland’s negligible banking oversight rules and low corporate tax demands.

These banks, though big players, were never part of the domestic Irish economy and were not in the business of lending to Irish banks. Banks with German parents, like Depfa, were lending to into infrastructure projects worldwide, not Ireland’s housing bubble.

So, putting Germany’s internationally-operating banks to one side, what about German lending to Irish banks and their customers? Were German banks lending recklessly into the pre-crisis Irish economy?

I spent quite a lot of time digging up information on whose money was in Irish banks at the time of the bank guarantee and bailout. Data is spotty and incomplete, but I have yet to find any compelling data to suggest that German banks were over-represented in Irish banks just before the bailout. If anything, the data I found suggested they were under-represented.

Which Irish county had the most workplace smoking convictions this year 2014?


And which part of the country has most over the last four years?

A total of  278 people have been convicted for smoking in an enclosed workplace, selling tobacco to minors, and similar offences, since the workplace smoking ban was implemented in March 2004.

There were 25 convictions so far this year under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act , according to figures released by the HSE today.

From January to September, 15 of these had to do with smoking in pubs, nightclubs and hotels.

These were violations of Section 47 of the Tobacco Act, which makes it illegal to smoke in an enclosed workplace, and made Ireland the first country to introduce such a ban, a decade ago.

The county with the most convictions for smoking indoors this year has been Donegal, where five people were fined for violating the ban.

Dublin, Cavan and Longford had two convictions, and there was one each in Tipperary, Monaghan, Meath and Westmeath.

The Tobacco Act also makes it illegal for licensed premises and shops to sell tobacco to anyone under 18 (Section 45), and require them to register to sell tobacco (Section 37).

Section 46 of the Act obliges pubs, hotels and restaurants to have a sign up notifying customers that it’s illegal to smoke there.

Taking all these tobacco-related offences into account, Donegal has had 9 convictions so far this year, accounting for more than one-third of the entire country.

Dublin, Cavan and Longford saw three convictions each, and Louth had two.

Meath, Westmeath, Wexford, Tipperary, and Monaghan had one each.

HSE figures obtained by TheJournal.ie show that the West region has had the most convictions for workplace smoking, over the last four years.

From 2011 until September 2014, there were 82 convictions nationwide under Section 47 of the Act.

36 of these were in the HSE’s West region, 23 in the Dublin/North-east region, 15 in the South, and just 8 in Dublin/Mid-Leinster.

Glenfarne in Leitrim comes out tops in Pride of Place Awards


Pictured on Monday last are Glenfarne Community Development Trust Limited members with pupils and staff of St. Michael’s National School celebrating winnning the IPB Pride of Place Award. The national title was achieved in Ennis, Co Clare in the 0-250 population category.

There was plenty to smile about in the close knit north Leitrim community of Glenfarne this week, after it scooped one of the top prizes in the annual IPB Co-operation Ireland Pride of Place Awards announced on Saturday, November 15 in Treacy’s West County Hotel, Ennis, Co Clare.

Glenfarne won the top prize in Category one, for populations of up to 250 people.

Speaking about Glenfarne, the Judges said they really enjoyed their visit to “this warm and welcoming remote community in a lovely scenic area in north Leitrim”.

“Crucially this community recognises the value of its many wonderful environmental and cultural assets and realise the importance of making them work for the benefit of the whole community. To their great credit the community has restored for community and cultural use the iconic ‘Ballroom of Romance’ which is justifiably a great source of pride in the area. The plans for the future of Glenfarne are very exciting indeed,” noted the Judges in a glowing report of the area.

Glenfarne and Dromod had been selected by Leitrim County Council to represent Co Leitrim for this year’s Pride of Place Awards. More than 800 people attended the gala ceremony to hear the announcement of the winners and runners up in the 12th Annual IPB Awards in association with Co-operation Ireland.

Speaking today following the win, Cllr Sean McDermott, who also spoke on behalf of the Glenfarne Community Development Trust, said that everyone was delighted to see all their hard work pay off.

“When the judges visited Glenfarne in August we showed the Forest Lake amenity, the Railway Station and explained the Boleybrack Project to them. I think the clincher for us was the Ballroom of Romance. The judges were very taken with the redevelopment of the centre and were also very impressed by the many local organisations who came to display local craft, art and products on the day,” he said.

The Judges were also treated to performances from local dancers and musicians in The Rainbow.

“It was a real community effort from the hard work put in by the Glenfarne Community Development Trust, through to the many volunteers and other community groups who came forward and got involved right up to and including the day of judging and I think that made a huge difference,” said Cllr McDermott.

He paid tribute to Leitrim County Council for their assistance in preparing Glenfarne for the competition and noted, in particular, the contribution and support of Leitrim County Council CEO, Frank Curran, as well as Council Staff, Tracy Ferguson, Paul Kilpatrick and Gerard Doherty.

“This a hugely significant achievement for Glenfarne and for Co Leitrim. It’s not too often that Co Leitrim, or Glenfarne for that matter, win an All-Ireland. This is something for us to be proud of and the fact that a small area like Glenfarne has been so successful, will hopefully inspire other small communities,” said Cllr McDermott.

He praised fellow Co Leitrim representatives, Dromod and said that Leitrim had every right to be very immensely proud of its representatives in this year’s IPB Co-operation Ireland Pride of Place Awards.

Glenfarne Community Development Trust had already received congratulations from ex-pats here and abroad following their win. “Everyone is just so proud,” said Cllr McDermott.

Watch amazing footage of London captured by an eagle with head-mounted camera

  The entire project was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the IUCN's Red List and raise awareness for critically endangered species

The imperial eagle soared across the London skyline, flying over landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral and the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture

London like you’ve never seen it before.

An imperial eagle has captured a bird’s eye view of the capital after a Sony HDR-AZ1VR Action Camera was strapped to its back as it took to the skies over the capital.

Darchan the eagle helped film the London skyline over the course of a week and several flights.

During his journeys, Darchan caught extraordinary footage of some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, City Hall and the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture.

The flight was organised by The Freedom Project to mark the 50th anniversary of the International Union of Conservation of Nature and raise awareness of their Red List of Threatened Species.

The Red List compiles the most endangered animals and plants across the world, and it’s considered one of the most comprehensive guides to species under threat.

The imperial eagle is in the “vulnerable” category on the list.

Farm crops could have a significant impact on changing world’s CO2 cycles


A recent video from NASA has revealed that farm crops may be one of the biggest factors in the planet’s shifting carbon cycles.

While there are many different factors that contribute to the changing cycles of our shifting planet, it appears that farm crops may be the latest culprit.

Every year, plants go through a “breathing pattern” where they uptake and then release a certain amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a process which has increased over the last 50 years.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that a new video from NASA, which shows the rise and fall of CO2 levels since 2006, reveals the significance of this “breathing pattern.” Two different teams of researchers have found that farming is responsible for 20 to 50 percent of the long-term increases in the amount of CO2 taken up and given back by plants during that time-span.

This increase in CO2 comes from, not an increase in acres planted, but rather an increase in farm productivity. Fertilizers, better irrigation and stronger breeds of crops have all been twice as influential as the fertilizing effect on rising CO2 levels.

In addition, such productivity has also had an impact on longer growing seasons which have come with global warming. Popular crops such as maize, wheat, soy beans and rice all accounted for a 25% increase in CO2, with corn being the most impactful, accounting for two-thirds of the overall increase.

The results of this video could alter the way scientists interpret the increase in plant uptake and the release of CO2. This is because before this video researchers had thought the fluctuations in CO2 exchanges between plants and the atmosphere was due to larger forests, fast growing species and the distribution of plant species that have migrated north. As such, many of the models were incorrect.

However, if this new data holds up under scrutiny the newer models could become more accurate then they have ever been.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday 3rd May 2014

Sinn Fein leader Adams may be charged in connection with 1972 murder of Jean McConville


Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, will learn later today whether he will be charged or released in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a mother of 10, from her Belfast home in 1972. Mr Adams, 65, denies he was involved in the widow’s abduction and murder.

As detectives continued to question Mr Adams, Sinn Fein’s deputy leader, Martin McGuinness, claimed the arrest was politically motivated. Speaking in Belfast yesterday, he said that an “embittered rump of the old RUC” force were “cynically exploiting the awful killing” of Mrs McConville – accused by the IRA of collaborating with the British authorities in the early 1970s.

Mr Adams is alleged by former republican colleagues to have ordered Mrs McConville’s murder and secret burial in 1972. The IRA later admitted killing her and her body was found on a beach in County Louth in 2003.

Alex Maskey, a Sinn Fein Assembly member, said yesterday the party would not stop supporting the Northern Irish Police Service, but would “monitor and review” its relationship with the force.

Northern Ireland’s Justice minister, David Ford, called Mr Adams’s arrest “entirely appropriate”. “Given the scale of the concerns expressed, of the information – which I accept is not yet evidence – it was entirely appropriate that should be followed up.”

Thousands protest in Dublin against Ireland’s abortion law


Pro-Life Campaign aims to ‘dismantle’ legislation introduced by Government last year

About 4,500 people rallied in Dublin today at a Pro-Life Vigil, which organisers said would be “the first step in a campaign dismantle the abortion law”.

While gardaí on the scene put the crowd at what the organisers described as a ‘National Vigil For Life’ at about 3,000, the organisers said there were 15,000. The crowd filled about a third of one side of Merrion Square.

Organised by the Pro-Life Campaign, the rally heard recommendations that people should not vote for candidates from parties who had “broken their pro-life promise”.

There was also strong criticism of the media which, speakers said, had helped push the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act through last summer without critically analysing it.

Cora Sherlock, deputy chairwoman of the Pro-Life Campaign, said the passage of the legislation last July was a “shocking example of the tragic breakdown in Irish politics”. There had been no honest debate about the legislation, she said.

“The politicians and the abortion lobby said there was a real need for abortion legislation to save women’s lives. We know there was never any need for this legislation. Essential life-saving medical treatment is there that was always legally available.

“The media failed abysmally to ensure the content of abortion law and the Government’s claims about it were critically examined. The media were pushing the law instead of critically examining it,” she said.

“Most seriously the tragic death of Savita Halappanavarwas misused by major players in politics and the media.”

She said they were more concerned with getting abortion legislation passed than accurate reporting.

Such journalists, she said, were more concerned with setting the agenda than reporting on it.

“There is something rotten at the heart of Irish public debate.” She said this was as a result of “corruption” and the pro-life movement could not “sit back and tolerate this any longer”.

It was important the pro-life electorate be “mindful” of the parties that had let the movement down when casting their votes, she said.

Caroline Simons, legal advisor to the Pro-Life Campaign, said after last year’s “setback”, they had no idea how many people would turnout today.

“We realise it’s going to be a difficult road back but we are massively encouraged that so many people are ready to get on board at this stage to help turn things around.

“Senior members of Fine Gael assured their backbench TDs that once the abortion bill passed through the Dáil they would have nothing to worry about because the pro-life movement would be crushed and beaten. How wrong they were.

“Your presence here today is proof that we are wasting no time in starting to rebuild. It’s going to take time, but when the public comes to realise the full horror of what the new legislation involves support for the repeal of the law will gather pace.”

Lynn Coles of the Women Hurt told the vigil that in recent weeks she had counselled a woman who had been considering an abortion. She decided to proceed with it.

“She took her own life on Tuesday. Abortion took not only her baby’s life but her own. She leaves behind a husband and grieving extended Irish family on both sides of the Irish Sea. The media will not cover her story. This is the reality of abortion.”

Over 160 new allegations of clerical sex abuse in last year


A total of 164 new allegations of sexual abuse were reported to the Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog between April last year and the end of March 2014.

This is according to the annual report of the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) which was published yesterday. The report notes that allegations of abuse are down from the 242 the previous year and most of the complaints relate to alleged abuse between the 1940s and 90s.

The biggest number of allegations relate to the 60s, 70s and 80s. The board said all of these complaints have also been passed to gardaí or the PSNI and where appropriate to the Child and Family Agency.

The watchdog has undertaken reviews of safeguarding practices in all 26 dioceses and initiated a three-year training programme, according to the annual report.

Teresa Devlin, who took over last year as CEO of NBSCCCI, said the board’s small team is committed to ensuring “past mistakes are not repeated”.

In its report, the board said the Church needs to have clear standards regarding support and supervision of priests and religious out of ministry.

“This means we need to develop a framework for assessment, clarity around canonical processes, good supervision, and support place so that we can reduce the likliehood of re-offending and therefore safeguard future children,” it said.

Ruairi Quinn Minister happy to take abuse from ignorant Irish teachers


Ruairi Quinn has criticised some teachers’ actions at the recent ASTI conference as “ignorant, ill-judged and bad-mannered”.

The Education Minister was commenting on the raucous reception he received at last week’s conference, and said certain members had done “a disservice” to their union as a result of their actions.

Mr Quinn was heckled and booed by a number of delegates throughout his speech at the event in Wexford, with some teachers shouting to drown out his speech.

One delegate even used a megaphone while the minister spoke, and others shouted “lies” and “rubbish”.

Mr Quinn admitted that such attacks were hurtful, but insisted it was all part of living in a democracy.

“It hurts, of course. Some people say you must have a very thick skin to which I say, yeah, but it’s still skin,” he told Galway Bay FM.

However, despite the reception he received, he insisted that the protests showed that true democracy is in place here and that everyone has a right to their voice.


Mr Quinn stressed that he had never thought of giving up politics as a result of the abuse, and that he was not facing a situation like politicians in Ukraine. “I live in a democracy,” he added.

“No matter how ignorant, ill-judged or bad mannered they were – and I think some of them were – I think that’s a price a democratic open society is prepared to pay.

“There are very few countries in the world where, not Ruairi Quinn but the Minister for Education will go to a conference where a minority of teachers in a very disrespectful way will express their anger and disgust.

“Nobody died, nobody got injured. It’s called democracy and I’m very happy to say that I live in this country.

“I’m proud to live in this Republic and I’m proud to think that citizens can come and say what they said and how they said it.”

China and US in crucial talks on cutting carbon dioxide emissions


Tentative moves to reduce pollution could be the most hopeful single development in tackling global warming for almost 20 years

“Just a patch of blue sky big enough “to make a sailor a pair of trousers”, my parents’ generation would say, may herald a break in dismal weather. Against all expectation, rather more than that seems to be opening up amid the dark clouds that have so far shrouded the prospects of the world agreeing a new treaty to combat climate change.

China and the United States – by far the world’s greatest emitters of carbon dioxide – have started far-reaching, if little-noticed, talks on how to cut the pollution, in what is being described as the most hopeful single development in tackling global warming for almost 20 years.

Both are accelerating their efforts to control their own emissions, a considerable change for the two nations, which together account for more than two in every five tons of the greenhouse gas spewed into the atmosphere worldwide each year. The US’s refusal to join the Kyoto Protocol was long the major obstacle to progress, while China – exempted from that limited treaty – has increased its emissions to exceed those of the US and the EU combined.

What’s more, it was a clash between the two countries that did more than anything to cause the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit to end in disappointment. So the prospect of them co-operating in paving the way to the next one, in Paris at the end of next year, is significant.

This week, moreover, another unexpected development brightened the skies even further. The conservative-majority US Supreme Court – which has generally opposed Barack Obama’s environmental policies – backed, by a surprisingly large 6-2 majority, his attempt to crack down on pollution from the power stations that emit 40 per cent of the nation’s greenhouse gases.

Chief Justice John Roberts and his fellow conservative, Anthony Kennedy, joined the court’s four liberals to reject a vigorous challenge by polluters to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations designed to clamp down on smog from coal-fired plants that drifts across state boundaries, helping to cause an estimated 34,000 deaths a year.

True, the measure does not directly address global warming. But it is expected to cause the closure of the most polluting plants, which are also the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide. And, much more importantly, the court’s decision appears to endorse Obama’s strategy of making combating climate change one of the main themes of his second term of office.

Frustrated by Congress in his attempt to introduce climate legislation, the President dropped his issue in his first four years, while privately regarding it as his biggest first-term failure. Now – partly at the prompting of his daughters – he is making a much more determined bid to tackle it, this time by trying to bypass Capitol Hill.

His strategy is to rely on executive presidential orders to reduce emissions, implemented by the EPA; next month he is due to issue some to cut carbon dioxide from power plants. His opponents have been hoping the courts would stop him, hence the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision. If it had ruled against Obama, his climate strategy would have seemed severely damaged; instead it appears to have cleared the path for it to progress.

In China, too, action against conventional pollution, largely from power plants, is presaging measures on climate change. So- called “airpocalypses” in Chinese cities, with concentrations of deadly particles up to 20 times higher than international safety limits, are causing the country increasingly to move away from coal, which provides 70 per cent of its electricity. Most of the new Chinese generating capacity installed last year relies on renewable energy; old coal plants are being closed, and some experts expect national carbon emissions to peak by the next decade.

A year ago China and the US agreed to phase out production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration, and the world’s fastest-growing climate threat. The hope was that this would presage wider co-operation, and the signs that this is beginning are being hailed as the most important development since the Kyoto Protocol was concluded in 1997.

It does, however, leave Europe – hitherto leading the attack on global warming – on the sidelines, perhaps deservedly so, as its leaders have grown increasingly timid since failing to make enough of a difference in Copenhagen.

David Cameron, however, has – since the winter floods – begun to re-emphasise the importance of what he initially made his trademark issue. This September he will have a chance to show whether he means it at a special summit called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to try to put momentum behind a new international treaty. And, since voters formed their first impressions of him as environmentally concerned, crucial credibility – in an election year – may hang on his performance.