Ireland struggles with high cost of austerity
‘There is no easy way to cut deficits,’ PM says following economic collapse
by Liz Alderman
Nearly two years ago, an economic collapse forced Ireland to cut public spending and raise taxes, the type of austerity measures that financial markets are now pressing on most advanced industrial nations.
“When our public finance situation blew wide open, the dominant consideration was ensuring that there was international investor confidence in Ireland so we could continue to borrow,” said Alan Barrett, chief economist at the Economic and Social Research Institute of Ireland. “A lot of the argument was, ‘Let’s get this over with quickly.’ ”
Rather than being rewarded for its actions, though, Ireland is being penalized. Its downturn has certainly been sharper than if the government had spent more to keep people working. Lacking stimulus money, the Irish economy shrank 7.1 percent last year and remains in recession.
Coral: Lost at sea?
Coral reefs support a quarter of the world’s marine life, but rising ocean temperatures are killing them. The impact of their decline could be huge, says marine biologist Olivia Durkin
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
A a result of rising sea temperatures, we are seeing the degradation and eventual destruction of one of the most beautiful ecosystems on Earth. Corals around the world are succumbing to yet another mass “bleaching event”; reefs that were once a rich mosaic of colours are now shockingly white as corals fade and die.
Corals are in fact a combination of animal, algae and “rock”. Colonies are made up of many identical individuals called polyps that secrete a stony skeleton. Polyps contain microscopic algae called zooxanthellae living within the coral animal tissue; the relationship is mutually beneficial, or symbiotic.
Kagan may get confirmed, but Thurgood Marshall can forget it
By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Oppo researchers digging into Elena Kagan’s past didn’t get the goods on the Supreme Court nominee — but they did get the Thurgood.
As confirmation hearings opened Monday afternoon, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the unusual approach of attacking Kagan because she admired the late justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked more than two decades ago.
“Justice Marshall’s judicial philosophy,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, “is not what I would consider to be mainstream.” Kyl — the lone member of the panel in shirtsleeves for the big event — was ready for a scrap.
Supreme Court sides with school over Christian group ban
By Michael Doyle | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – A divided Supreme Court on Monday upheld a California law school’s refusal to recognize a Christian student group that effectively banned gay members.
In a closely watched case that pit First Amendment rights against anti-discrimination policies, the court concluded 5-4 that the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law acted reasonably in refusing to recognize and subsidize the Christian Legal Society.
Greeks to protest austerity measures in fifth nationwide strike
Two major unions from the private and public sectors have called the fifth nationwide strike since February on Tuesday to voice their anger over austerity measures designed to curb public debt.
Public transport and domestic air travel are set to be disrupted and schools, local media and banks closed as Greek workers stage another 24-hour walkout to voice their anger over austerity measures introduced by the government.
Thousands of civil servants and private sector workers represented by the GSEE and Adedy unions are set to march in Athens and other cities at midday local time, when parliament is scheduled to start discussions on controversial pension reforms that would see the retirement age raised to 65 and the mandatory period for pension contributions increased from 37 to 40 years.
“These measures won’t help. They will only lead to deeper recession and poverty,” said Despina Spanou, board member of the Adedy union.
Chinese gangs step into gap left by mafia
Chinese gangs have exploited a gap in Italy’s crime world, expanding into northern and central cities while the traditional mafia concentrates on the country’s south.
Published: 7:00AM BST 29 Jun 2010
Italian police targeted the Chinese gangs in raids across the country this week, arresting 24 people with suspected links to a multibillion euro money-laundering operation.
Officers seized illegal factories and other assets as part of the operation.
Since 2006, the organisation had laundered and funnelled to China more than 2.7 billion euros (£2.1bn pounds) from prostitution, sale of counterfeit goods, exploitation of illegal immigrants, tax evasion and other crimes committed in and around the Tuscan cities of Florence and Prato, an industrial town home to a large community of Chinese migrants.
Barred from Jerusalem for crime of being Palestinian
Engineer’s battle to overturn loss of residency highlights plight of thousands
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem Tuesday, 29 June 2010
To say that Palestinian Murad Al-Khalaf’s roots are in Jerusalem is a serious understatement. His family lived in the Baka district of West Jerusalem until they were forced to leave in the war of 1948. They have since lived – and live – in the inner East Jerusalem district of Ras al-Amud. His family doctor father’s clinic in East Jerusalem’s main street of Salahadin is opposite three shops owned by each of his uncles. One of his brothers, also a doctor, works at one of Jerusalem’s two main (Israeli) hospitals, the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre. The city is, in short, his home.
Sympathy for the Turkish devil
The American commentariat is shocked, shocked , to discover that Turkey has abandoned the Western alliance for an adventurous bid to become the dominant Muslim power in the Middle East. Tom Friedman of the New York Times suggested on June 15 that “President [Barack] Obama should invite him for a weekend at Camp David to clear the air before US-Turkey relations get where they’re going – over a cliff.” Friedman blames the European Community for rejecting Turkey’s membership bid which, he says, was a “key factor prompting Turkey to move closer to Iran and the Arab world”.
But it is not quite so simple. Friedman and the conventional wisdom are wrong, as usual. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is behaving dreadfully, to the point that a group of retired senior Turkish diplomats denounced him for “neo-Ottomanism”.
Right-to-Know Law Gives India’s Poor a Lever
By LYDIA POLGREEN
Published: June 28, 2010
BANTA, India – Chanchala Devi always wanted a house. Not a mud-and-stick hut, like her current home in this desolate village in the mineral-rich, corruption-corroded state of Jharkhand, but a proper brick-and-mortar house. When she heard that a government program for the poor would give her about $700 to build that house, she applied immediately.
As an impoverished day laborer from a downtrodden caste, she was an ideal candidate for the grant. Yet she waited four years, watching as wealthier neighbors got grants and built sturdy houses, while she and her three children slept beneath a leaky roof of tree branches and crumbling clay tiles.
Mobile services suspended, curfew still in place in Kashmir
NDTV Correspondent, Updated: June 29, 2010
Srinagar: The Kashmir Valley remains tense after two more civilians, including a young boy, were allegedly killed in CRPF firing on Monday.
Amidst a call for a two-day strike by separatists, mobile phone services in several areas in north Kashmir have been suspended after reports that some miscreants have been circulating SMSes to spread rumours and create confusion among people. The curfew is still in place.
The Omar Abdullah government has already asked the Centre for help and has said the Army will be called in if the situation is not brought under control soon.
“There is a possibility that a fierce force may have to be called in if the situation does not come under control and maybe we have to take help from the Army too,” said Taj Mohiuddin, a minister in the J&K government.
Violence scars Burundi election
TUESDAY, JUNE 29, 2010
Polls have closed in Burundi’s presidential election, marred by grenade attacks and an opposition boycott.
Three grenade attacks were reported from the capital Bujumbura, and two more exploded in the north of the country as the central African nation held the ballot that Pierre Nkurunziza, the incumbent president, is certain to win.
Monday’s presidential vote was supposed to assert the war-torn country’s democratic credentials and cement a fledgling peace deal with rebels.
Leading politician Rodolfo Torre Cantú murdered in Mexico
Drug cartels blamed for high profile killing of would-be governor, who was tipped to win election in Tamaulipas
Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
The Guardian, Tuesday 29 June 2010
Gunmen assumed to be linked to Mexico’s drug cartels have assassinated a leading politician who was almost certain to win a forthcoming governorship election in the embattled northern state of Tamaulipas, sending shockwaves through national politics.
Rodolfo Torre Cantú was killed alongside at least four members of his entourage when their two vehicles were ambushed yesterday morning, a few miles outside the state capital, Ciudad Victoria. They had been on their way to a rally in the final days of campaigning before Sunday’s poll.