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.
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.