Sunday 22nd February 2015
Micheál Martin calls for face-to-face debate with Taoiseach
Gerry Adams accuses Government Ministers of ‘unbridled arrogance’
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny during his address at the Fine Gael National Conference 2015 in Castlebar, Co Mayo.
Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin has called for a face-to-face debate with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Speaking following Mr Kenny’s national conference speech, Mr Martin said it is time for the Taoiseach to emerge from the “protection of set piece events and anonymous briefings” to face him in debate.
He accused the Fine Gael leader of launching a series of “tired, inaccurate and clichéd attacks” on Fianna Fáil.
“The fact is that Mr Kenny resorts to these attacks because his mandate is based on a series of falsehoods,” said Mr Martin. “He went into the last election having voted against the key economic stabilisation measures that he now claims credit for.”
“He directed his party to support the bank guarantee that he now rails against. He made promises to voters across the country in the full and certain knowledge that he would not be keeping them once elected.”
Mr Martin said the Taoiseach’s time in power had been marked by his refusal to engage in honest debate on this issues.
“He now appears to hope that he can secure another term in that office by launching unsubstantiated attacks on his opponents,” he said.
“He does not seem to realise that the Irish people want more from their leaders. I stand ready to meet the Taoiseach in open debate at any time, but I am not optimistic.”
“Mr Kenny will continue to run from debate because he has calculated that him to have any chance staying in the Taoiseach’s office, he must avoid honest debate and limit his exposure to genuine challenge to the absolute bare minimum.”
Mr Kenny said on Saturday he did not want Ireland to be dragged back to the failures of the past or to be ruined “by those who are intent on blowing a huge hole in our recovering national finances”.
“Populist promises to reverse every tough decision are nothing but empty rhetoric, irresponsible leadership and bad politics,” said Mr Kenny. “They are not the solution to Ireland’s problems.”
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams has called Mr Kenny’s speech a “back-slapping exercise” and accused Government ministers of “unbridled arrogance”.
“The Taoiseach’s speech was merely a back-slapping exercise which failed to address the growing polarisation in our society under Fine Gael and Labour and no new vision for the future,” said the Sinn Féin leader.
“This Fine Gael Ard Fheis saw unbridled arrogance from Government Ministers entirely insulated from the effects of their policies.”
“Fine Gael no longer has any mandate for the socially destructive agenda it is imposing in Government.”
Mr Adams said the next election would be a choice between a Fine Gael or a Sinn Féin-led Government with “diametrically opposed” visions for Irish society.
He also criticised the Taoiseach’s failure to elaborate on the North in his keynote address in Castlebar.
“It was notable that the Taoiseach barely mentioned the North in the course of his address,” said Mr Adams. “This is because he views the North as a foreign country.”
“At the recent Stormont talks, the Taoiseach shamefully allied himself with the British Tories and tried to nationalise Fine Gael’s austerity agenda. He failed.”
The Stormont House Agreement was achieved despite, not because of this Fine Gael-led Government.”
The Eurozone private sector expands at fastest pace in seven months
Eurozone private sector expands at fastest pace in seven months
The Eurozone private sector expanded at the fastest pace in seven months this month led by rising new orders, surveys showed yesterday, but firms are still cutting prices, suggesting the ECB will have a tough time spurring inflation.
The jump in activity will provide a glimmer of hope for policymakers who have struggled to steer the monetary union toward growth with modest inflation, but may also support the European Central Bank’s decision to buy sovereign bonds.
“For the first time since mid-2011 we’re seeing a broad-based improvement in growth,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at survey compiler Markit.
“This in part reflects increased confidence after the ECB announced quantitative easing, and we’ll see more improvements once asset purchases start in March.”
Markit’s Composite Flash Purchasing Managers’ Index, based on surveys of thousands of companies and seen as a good growth indicator, rose to 53.5, its best since July, from a final reading of 52.6 last month.
That beat even the highest forecast in a Reuters poll and marked the 20th month above the 50 level that separates growth from contraction.
Mr Williamson said the PMI pointed to 0.3pc GDP growth in the current quarter, adding that a follow-through in March could push it up to 0.4pc.
In a positive sign for future activity, the gauge of new orders growth at services firms rose to 53.3 from 51.7. Growth in order backlogs rose to the highest level in nearly four years.
The PMI covering the dominant service industry also beat all forecasts by rising to 53.9.
Noonan says Ireland could make a profit from the bank bailout
FG says opposition would ‘car crash’ the economy if in power
Ireland will make a profit from bailing out some of its banks, as long as there is no change of government.
That is according to the Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who says Ireland will make a profit on its shares in AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB.
He says the money put into Anglo Irish Bank is dead and can never be recovered.
But he says the €30bn invested in the other banks could turn a profit in the next few years.
And Mr Noonan says that Fine Gael needs one more term to make sure the recovery is complete.
Mental health sickness and men are affected most
Gender and personality matter in how people cope with physical and mental illness, according to a paper by a Washington State University scientist and colleagues at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
Men are less affected by a single-symptom illness than women, but are more affected when more than one symptom is present. The number of symptoms doesn’t change how women are affected, according to Robert Rosenman, WSU professor in the Department of Economic Sciences. Rosenman worked with Dusanee Kesavayuth and Vasileios Zikos, both at UTCC in Bangkok, Thailand, on the study.
“Women are more impacted by illness than men, unless more than one symptom is present,” said Rosenman. “Then men are more impacted than women. And perhaps more importantly, personality affects how women handle becoming sick, while men of all types react the same.”
The research is based on data collected in the British Household Panel Survey, a national longitudinal data set from the United Kingdom. Longitudinal data tracks the same people at several points in time asking the same questions. The panel included 2,859 people: 1,471 men and 1,388 women.
Two types of women resist mental illness
The survey asked people about their happiness and satisfaction with aspects of their life. It also asked about their physical and mental health and about their personalities, among other things. Rosenman and his colleagues analyzed the data to see how personality and gender affected the way people coped with becoming ill.
The researchers found that women with one of two distinct personality types are less affected by mental illness than all other personality types.
The first personality type, high levels of agreeableness, experience high quality relationships in their lives. The second type, women with low levels of conscientiousness, have little need for achievement, order or persistence.
Rosenman said women with high agreeableness likely have better social networks and therefore more support for coping with mental illness. Women with low levels of conscientiousness are more apt to feel out of control on a daily basis, so they likely don’t see any impact from a mental illness, he said.
“They didn’t feel in control to begin with,” he said. “So they aren’t affected the way other women are.”
The study finds no correlation between personality type and the impact of a mental illness in men.
Economics of happiness
Rosenman and his colleagues primarily focused on one question in the British survey: How satisfied are you with your health? Then they broke that down based on other questions about gender and personality type. The study is part of the growing field on the economics of happiness.
“Many people think economics only has to do with money,” Rosenman said. “But it’s much more than that. We’re starting to look at what makes people happy and how that affects different aspects of their lives.”
How will life on earth compare to life for the Mars One pioneers?
On a different planet – Nick Curtis imagines a message from ‘Martianaut’ Maggie Lieu to her parents back at home
Hello Mission Control…. Just kidding! Hi mum, hi dad, or should I say earthlings!
Well, me and Bruce the Australian Martianaut finally touched down beside the Herschel II Strait on the red planet today, the last of 12 pairs to arrive – though as you know it was touch and go. Ten years of training and research almost went down the drain when Google got hit by a massive retrospective tax bill and had to withdraw all its branded sponsorship from the starship at the last minute: fortunately Amazon stepped in, on the agreement we install its first matter transference delivery portal (“It’s there before you know it”) here. And rename the ship Bezos 1, of course
The trip was textbook, with both of us uploading videos on how to apply makeup and bake cupcakes in space direct to the Weibo-spex of our crowdsource funders in China – great practice for The Great Martian Bakeoff on BBC 12 next year (subscribers only). The one hairy moment was a near miss with that Virgin Galactic rocket, Beardie IV, that went AWOL five years ago. We were so close we could see Leonardo diCaprio’s little screaming face pressed against his porthole. And Kim Kardashian’s bum pressed against hers – though it’s looking kinda old now and I hoped we’d seen the last of it.
So what can I tell you? When we landed the others threw us a party with full fat milk, rare beef and waffles (the only official space superfoods since it was discovered that kale and quinoa cause impotence). The landscape is pretty barren, just acres of rolling sand and no one in sight, sort of like Greece after it left the Eurozone and the entire population moved to Germany. Or like the so-called Caliphate after Islamic State finally perfected its time machine and managed to transport itself and all its followers back to the 12th century.
The temperature outside is about 20c, so a lot cooler than it is at home since the ice caps melted. There’s water here, but not as much as is now covering Indonesia, Holland and Somerset. The atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide so Juan, the Spanish Martianaut, had to keep his suit on when he went out to smoke. He tried to get us all to buy duty free for him in Mexico City spaceport before we left, now that a pack of cigarettes costs 450 Euros in the shops, and they’ve been camouflaged so you can’t find them.
The construction-droids did a pretty good job building Mars Camp out of the recycled parts of all those closed Tesco Metros. They say we have enough air up here to last 20 years, Earth’s stocks of storable oxygen having increased tenfold when the European Parliament collapsed following the expenses scandal. I still can’t believe that Dasha Putin-Mugabe was claiming for SIX driverless cars while she was EU President, and employing her wife as her accountant. And her being the first transgender Russian lesbian to hold the office, too.
Speaking of politics, how is life in coalition Britain? Who has the upper hand at the moment? UKIP? Scots Nats? The Greens? or those nutters from Cornwall, Mebion Kernow? Or are they underwater now. And how is young Straw doing now Labour is the smallest party in Parliament, after the New New New Conservatives? Hard to believe it’s three years since the last Lib Dem lost her seat.
I gather that some things have improved internationally now that Brian Cox has developed his own time machine at the Wowcher-Hawking Institute in Cambridge, and worked out that the entire world can now transport all its waste products back to the Caliphate in the 12th century.
We can see the Earth from here through the Clinton2020 Telescope that the US president endowed us with after her brief period in office. The joke up here is that she did it to keep a proper eye either on her husband (though he doesn’t get around so much any more, obviously) or on what President Palin is up to. I still can’t believe that she sold Alaska to Russia to pay the compensation bill for the Grand Canyon Fracking Collapse.
Even through the Clinton2020 the Earth looks pretty small, though at times, when the stars are really bright, we can see the Great Wall 2 ring of laser satellites that China has pointed at Russia to discourage any more “accidental” incursions.
Our team up here is like a microcosm of human life on earth. Well, up to a point. As you know the French and Italian Martianauts were expelled from the team before lift-off, because of some scandal or other. We weren’t told if it was financial or sexual but a space bra and a data stick with three million Bitcoins on it were found in the airlock.
The African and Brazilian Martianauts swan around the place as if they PERSONALLY solved the world’s food and energy problems.
And the North Korean guy just sits in the corner, muttering into some device up his sleeve and scowling. All the freeze-dried cheese has gone and he’s looking quite fat, if you get my meaning.
I don’t get much time to myself, what with work, the non-denominational Sorry Meetings where we apologise in case we’ve accidently offended someone’s beliefs, and the communal space-pilates sessions (the North Korean guy skips those so he may be in line for a compulsory gastric band, as mandated by the Intergalactic Health Organisation).
I always try and upload the latest Birmingham City Games onto my cortex chip when I feel homesick: I know it’s not fashionable, but I think football got better when they replaced the players with robots and the wage bill – and the number of court cases – dropped to zero. I know the electricity bill is massive, but the new Brazilian solar technology should fix that.
Anyway, got to run now. We’re putting together a bid to have the 2036 Olympics up here.
Bye, or as we say on Mars – see you on the dark side.