Sunday 5th October 2014
Internet Woman who targeted Madeleine McCann’s parents found dead in hotel room
The woman who was this week exposed as one of the trolls accused of targeting Madeleine McCann’s parents on the internet has been found dead in a Leicestershire hotel, it has been reported.
Brenda Leyland (63) was accused of posting online hate messages aimed at the McCanns.
Madeleine McCann disappeared during a family holiday to Portugal in 2007.
The Daily Mail has reported that Leicestershire Police were called to a hotel in Smith Way, Grove Park in Enderby, Leicester today.
A police spokeswoman said the death was not being treated as suspicious.
Earlier this week, Sky News revealed that Mrs Leyland posted dozens of messages attacking the family using the Twitter handle @sweepyface.
It was reported a day later that Mrs Leyland had fled her Leicestershire home.
When asked why she was using her Twitter account to attack the McCanns, who live with their nine-year-old twins, in Rothley, Leicestershire, Mrs Leyland said: ‘I’m entitled to do that.’
A dossier of online abuse directed at the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann is being examined by police.
Members of the public have handed a file stretching to more than 80 pages of Tweets, Facebook posts and forum messages aimed at Kate and Gerry McCann to Scotland Yard, according to Sky News.
20% of Irish households insist they will not pay their water bills
Research says 270,000 unlikely to pay charges
As billing for water services commenced last week, Irish Water is severely limited in its options to force people to pay.
UP to 20% of households are unlikely to pay their water charges, research carried out by Irish Water has found.
The survey suggests as many as 270,000 eligible households are unlikely to pay the controversial charges when bills land next January.
This would leave the Government, which has said it will not cut off the water of those who don’t pay, in a nightmare scenario as their options to force people to pay are extremely limited.
The most common reason given for not paying was because respondents disagreed “in principle” with water charges, followed by affordability issues, poor water quality, a belief they were already paying for water, and water wastage through leaking pipes.
As billing for water services commenced last week, Irish Water is severely limited in its options to force people to pay.
Unlike other utilities such as Electric Ireland or Bord Gais, Irish Water will not have the power to cut off the supply to any home. The most it can do is restrict the supply to a “trickle”. It has emerged that there is no legal minimum flow that Irish Water must continue to supply to homes even in a restriction scenario, as where a house is located on a certain supply pipe would impact on the water pressure.
It was reported that it will only be possible to restrict supply to homes with individual water lines off the main network. This raises the scenario that apartment owners or homes on a shared supply, even if they refuse to pay, are unlikely to ever see their supply restricted.
Irish Water is adamant that moving to a restriction of supply is a “last resort” and that it would hope that the incentive of the allowances will be sufficient to encourage as great a level of compliance as possible.
A couple with two children who would pay €278 under the assessed charge system will be charged €630 a year if they do not sign up when metering charges begin next July. This is because those who fail to provide details will lose their free allowances and will be asked to pay the full cost of drinking and waste water services.
However, anti-water charges groups have been stepping up their calls for the public to defy Irish Water and not pay.
Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger, speaking in the Dail last week, called on the public not to pay the water charges, in a bid to get enough people to refuse to comply as to make the system unworkable.
An Irish Water spokeswoman said that like other utility companies, Irish Water would be able to bring those who refuse to engage with them to court, but accepted that it was only for debt recovery. She said they would seek to find workable solutions for those people struggling to pay, but Irish Water must try and protect those customers who play by the rules.
“Of course, for those who are finding it difficult to meet the bills, we will ask them to engage with us to find a solution that works for everyone. But, for those who won’t pay, we have a range of options to try to ensure compliance. But we have to ensure we protect those customers who pay on time,” said the Irish Water spokeswoman.
Irish Water said last week that landlords would not be held liable for arrears of water charges built up by their tenants. The utility firm said landlords would be sent application packs for their rental properties, which they must forward to the tenants.
In the case of an owner-occupier, the full allowances in relation to water usage are allocated in the normal way and the occupier is liable for the bill.
A spokeswoman explained that if the property was unoccupied, the landlord could claim unoccupied-dwelling status and pay a set charge. The level of this is still under consideration by the regulator. In this case the landlord is liable for the charge. However, in the case of a rented property, Irish Water said: “The tenant is liable for the charge and is also eligible for the allowances, as the property is the principal primary residence of that household.”
Yesterday it emerged that those refusing to register with Irish Water by the end of the month will be hit with bills that are likely to be twice as much as they would pay if they provided the information. There has been a fall in numbers saying they would not pay. In 2012, a similar survey found 30pc were unlikely to pay. Earlier this summer, it emerged that Irish Water had identified political interference and customers not paying as the two biggest threats to its viability.
History of charges
Water charges have haunted the political ‘to-do’ list since domestic rates were abolished in 1977. In the 1990s, an attempt was made to introduce water charges.
This failed after widespread public protest. Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins, then chairman of the Dublin Anti Water Charges Campaign, forced the abolition of water charges in Dublin in 1996.
The same year then Environment Minister Brendan Howlin announced the water charge was going to be replaced by a new system whereby the road tax collected in each area would be the source for council funding
Slow broadband is ‘killing the progress of Irish businesses’
A Portarlington businessman has claimed that slow broadbandspeed is “killing businesses” in the town.
David Maher, an eCommerce businessman based in Port, said that the slow broadband speed has dissuaded new businesses from moving to the area.
“Eircom has declared Portarlington to be fibre enabled since May 2014 and can now offer 100Mbps to users who are lucky enough to get it. Yet in reality less than half of customers in the town can avail of the service and Eircom in their wisdom have excluded the two official industrial estates in the town – Botley Lane on the Offaly side and Canal Road in Laois – from getting fibre optic,” he said.
“This is simply a disaster in terms of getting businesses to move into Portarlington. Why Eircom have decided that businesses should be excluded from access to high speed broadband is hard to understand.”
The future does not seem to offer much in the way of hope as Eircom’s website indicates that it may not upgrade the rest of the town before the end of 2016. Many businesses are forced to use wireless solutions to get the speeds they need.
“We are in the process of expanding our online eCommerce businesses and we have just moved to our new building eCom Park in Portarlington. We hope to be able to use the new facility to create a technology hub in Portarlington to allow web based business, especially start ups, to get established and thrive. Online is the way of the future and locating in a town like Portarlington gives huge cost advantages,” he said.
Waiting on a trolley in a Irish hospital linked to 30% increase in mortality,
The consultants’ association has claimed that patients are dying unnecessarily
The Irish Hospital Consultants’ Association has claimed that patients are dying unnecessarily because of having to wait on a trolley in emergency departments.
At the association’s annual conference in Cork, its President Dr Gerard Crotty said many acute hospital departments are in crisis.
Dr Crotty said waiting on a trolley is linked to a 30% increase in mortality, according to studies.
Speaking at the conference in Cork, Dr Crotty said the health service was in intensive care, after suffering the cumulative effects of six years of cuts, the most severe in history.
He said crude frontline budget cuts were having disastrous effects on patients.
Many acute hospital departments were in crisis, or on the brink of collapsing, because consultants who have left cannot be replaced, he said.
In contrast, he said the State was paying €1m a day using agency staff, mainly because of a shortage of non-consultant hospital doctors and consultants.
Dr Crotty said there was an opportunity to start the process of restoring trust with the appointment of new leadership in the Department of Health.
Newly-appointed Department of Health Secretary General Jim Breslin told the conference that even if the health budget discussions for 2015 are successful, funding cannot meet all the priorities advanced by people.
Mr Breslin said that co-operation with change should be part of normal business for health staff, rather than being dependent on extra pay.
Meanwhile, the IHCA has confirmed that a number of consultants are to take High Court action against the State alleging breach of contract in not applying a pay increase in June 2009.
The association’s secretary general, Martin Varley, said he could not quantify the sum of money involved due to the various types of contracts and other factors.
Reducing Antarctic ice messing up the Earth’s gravity
- Blame linked to climate change
The Earth’s gravity is messing up and global warming appears to be responsible. The warming climate has caused massive ice loss in West Antarctica in recent years and this phenomenon has caused the Earth’s gravity to be weaker there.
The findings were based on measurements made by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite, which was developed to map the Earth’s gravitation field, and data from the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission, a collaboration between the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the German Aerospace Center which aims to provide accurate mapping of variations in the gravity field of the Earth.
Changes in the earth’s mass cause the gravity to fluctuate in small ways but with the large scale melting of the ice sheets in West Antarctica between 2009 and 2012, the loss was large enough to result in changes in the Earth gravitational force pulling over the region, ESA revealed.
“Although not designed to map changes in Earth’s gravity over time, ESA’s extraordinary satellite has shown that the ice lost from West Antarctica over the last few years has left its signature,” ESA said in a statement.
By combining data from GOCE and GRACE, scientists learned that West Antarctica lose about 209 billion metric tons of ice from year 2009 to 2012, which could be largely blamed on the retreating glaciers. During this period, Pine Island Glacier shed 67 billion metric tons of ice annually. Thwaites Glacier and Getz Ice Shelf, on the other hand, lost 67 billion metric tons and 55 billion metric tons of ice respectively each year.
“Scientists can now look at changes in ice mass in small glacial systems,” ESA said. “They have found that the loss of ice from West Antarctica between 2009 and 2012 caused a dip in the gravity field over the region.”
GOCE has already provided several observations in the past that showed how gravity on Earth changes overtime. The satellite, for instance, has revealed that the earthquake that struck Japan in 2011 has left a mark in the gravity of the planet.
Besides messing with the Earth’s gravity, a number of extreme and unwanted phenomena that took place in recent years including the loss habitats, the declining population of wildlife and extreme weather events such as heat waves and storms are also largely attributed to climate change.