New book documents the rise in pandemic diseases and wonders whats next

first_imgA NEW BOOK offers a glimpse into the simple ways in which globalisation has helped epidemics to become pandemics.‘Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic’ documenting a process called ‘spillover’ – the way in which diseases that originate in wild animals pass to humans.The author, David Quammen, has travelled around the world to learn more about diseases such as AIDS and the Ebola virus in his attempts to determine what the next big pandemic might be.In an interview about the findings in the book, Quammen believes that the perfect breeding grounds for pandemics remains the developing countries within the tropics.He gives four reasons for this:1) Being tropical, those countries in many cases contain forest ecosystems that are rich in animal species, rich also in viruses and other pathogens. 3) The population densities of humans in those countries are high – many people squashed closely together in villages and cities – which helps diseases spread once a spillover has occurred. 4) Basic health care and emergency medical facilities are underfunded and marginal, which increases the difficulty of stopping an epidemic once it begins.Responding to why media reports don’t often report linkages between pandemics and their animal sources, Quammen believes that people continue to ‘think of human medical concerns and ecological considerations separately’.Medical reporters don’t know much about chimpanzees or bats in the wild. But the reality is that human health, the disruption of wild ecosystems, the infection status of bats and rodents and monkeys, and the ecology and evolution of viruses are all inextricably connected.This is despite the fact that 60 per cent of infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic (diseases transmitted between, or shared by, animals and humans).(W. W. Norton & Company/YouTube)To read an edited extract from the book, please click here.To view an infographic which details the effects of some pandemics from times past, please click here.Read: WHO’s response to swine flu pandemic was ‘flawed’ >center_img 2) Those ecosystems are being disrupted by timber cutting, mining activities, and the harvest of bushmeat, all of which tend to bring people into contact with wild animals and the viruses they carry.last_img read more

Google boss says US data spying outrageous and potentially illegal

first_imgGOOGLE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN Eric Schmidt said reports that the US government spied on the Internet giant’s data centres were “outrageous” and potentially illegal if proved true, in an interview today.Speaking to the Wall Street Journal during a visit to Hong Kong, the technology guru said that Google had filed complaints with the National Security Agency, US President Barack Obama, as well as members of the US Congress.“It’s really outrageous that the National Security Agency was looking between the Google data centres if that’s true. The steps that the organisation was willing to do without good judgement to pursue its mission and potentially violate people’s privacy, it’s not OK,” Schmidt said.Bad public policy“The NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be at risk. It’s just bad public policy…and perhaps illegal,” he said in the interview conducted in the southern Chinese city.“The Snowden revelations have assisted us in understanding that it’s perfectly possible that there are more revelations to come.”A recent news report said the NSA had tapped into key communications links from Yahoo and Google data centres around the world.Fiber-optic cablesThe Washington Post, citing documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with officials, said the programme could collect data from hundreds of millions of user accounts “at will”.The report said the programme, called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the NSA’s British counterpart GCHQ, indicated that the agencies could intercept data flows from fiber-optic cables used by the US Internet giants.The NSA disputes key details of the report.#- © AFP 2013.Related: NSA ‘tapped into links to Google, Yahoo data centres’>Read: John Kerry: Yes, US spying ‘has reached too far’ at times>last_img read more

If tourists choose not to come then Malapascua will slowly go back

first_imgDAVID JOYCE RUNS Evolution Diving  on the tiny island of Malapascua, part of Cebu Province, which was in the direct path of Typhoon Haiyan when the massive storm hit the Philippines at the start of November.In the days and weeks that followed, David, along with other staff members at the resort, spearheaded the relief and rebuild effort on the island — raising thousands of euro to help those left homeless.We checked in for an initial update from David the week after the storm hit. He said that Malapascau had been “completely cut off” in the wake of the typhoon. Even at that stage, however, the effort to get supplies to those most in need was already well under way.In tandem with the effort to help the community, staff at Evolution have also been hard at work rebuilding the resort. Tourism is the main source of income on the island; around 80 per cent of its inhabitants rely on the sector for their income — either directly or has been back in contact with via email in the last few weeks. David took us through the stages of the initial response, and outlined his hopes for 2014 — and beyond. The rebuild — both in the resort and the wider community — has been continuing at an impressive pace.As he puts it:We went though the various phases of remorse but now its about determination not to be beaten down by this event. The staff at ‘Evolution’ return from a clean-up operation at the dive sites [via Facebook]Find out more about Rebuild Malapascau at their website > Another home/store rebuilt with the ‘Rebuild’ funds [Facebook/Evolution Diving]HOLIDAYMAKERS As the storm passed everyone stayed in what they felt to be a safe place.  For many this proved inaccurate as whole structures tore apart. Somehow there were no fatalities, mainly due to the fact that it was daylight and everyone simply spent the time dodging the debris flying everywhere.Most of our staff were absent to deal with their own homes and we had a core staff at the resort with our remaining guests.  Everyone stayed indoors until after. Once people came out, there was a sense of shock. The island was unrecognisable.The first thing was to try and get temporary shelter. Evolution staff had five days off to get what shelter they could for their families. I was off the island for the storm and my house was not a good place to be during it.  The roof blew off and windows blew in — I had some people there trying to help, but they ended up spending several ours hiding in the bathroom.  With two young kids, it’s certainly lucky they were not there for that. The Philippines is very dependent on tourism and it employs a huge number of people. In remote areas such as Malapascua it is the only source of meaningful income with approximately 80 per cent of the island directly or indirectly relying on tourist income. If tourists choose not to come then Malapascua will slowly go back into the dark ages.For example we have a private power company selling electricity here, and its main customers are resorts. If resorts start to close due to no customers then the company will withdraw and the island will go back in time and be without electricity again — there are so many things interconnected in this way.We are fighting to keep an income for the 34 employees we have, and they understand that things have changed but hopefully not for long. The Philippines is not effected by mass commercial tourism.  It’s still a place of smaller, independent businesses offering a great, personalised experience — businesses are open and the island remains magical as does the region. People should certainly consider booking as this year there will be less tourists — so what a great time to visit!Ireland and The Philippines have an amazing parallel history of colonialism, Catholicism and emigration, and have a lot in common. The people are friendly and charming and very resilient — so come and see for yourself… Damage to boats in the immediate aftermath of the storm [Image: Facebook/Evolution Diving]THE INITIAL RESPONSE As Malapascua has several foreign owned business, some of them quickly became focal points. Our isolated location means we tend to stock good quantities of food and water so staff were able to get these. I arrived back about 48 hours later with a boat load of relief goods — mainly water, tinned goods and rice. By day seven we already had several lorry-loads of building materials on the island, and that effort still underway today.By the second week outside help started to appear — aid from the Red Cross and others arrived. It was generally enough food for a family for three days so very short term. Eventually medical aid came. No one was seriously injured in the storm, but many people had wounds from nails and corrugated sheets after the storm so tetanus was in demand.As donations began to grown the main recipients came together to co ordinate and now work together on ‘Rebuild Malapascua’  ( supplies were hard to get in the first month after the storm, but a steady supply is now coming and homes are being completed every week. In fact we have already built 100 homes — and a lot of that has come from Irish donors. We had a few guests in the resort during the storm — they mainly holed up in our rooms as no one could step outside.After the storm it took 48 hours before a boat could get some off the island to make flights.  We had two steely Scots who had just arrived with us and they were damned if they were leaving so they stayed for a further ten days and helped us clear up, even though we had no electricity and ate nothing but noodles and sardines. They plan to come back next year as they enjoyed it so much this time.However — we have had a massive amount of cancellations.  People are afraid, based on the media coverage. The fact is that in my area things are getting back to normal, and we are open for business.  We have had a steady stream of intrepid customers coming through over the last two weeks and more, and they are pleasantly surprised by the air of optimism and energy.This is not a miserable place.  People just want to get back to work, earn some income and do their jobs.  Of course customers are being very patient, everything is still being fixed and it will still be a while before we operate as smoothly as before but maybe that is part of the current charm.Ultimately we are offering the same product as before – great diving, food and accommodation on a warm and hospitable tropical island.  It just has the added caché now of being a disaster zone! The resort’s ‘Craic House’ bar & restaurant, around a week after the storm hit [via Facebook]PUBLICITY One of the homes rebuilt with the help of ‘Rebuild Malapascua’ [Facebook/Evolution Diving]RESPONDING & REBUILDING We were aware that the storm was going to be big and it was clearly tracking straight over Malapascua island, even from 5 days out.  As we are in the business of diving, weather is key so we are always consulting pertinent websites and have learned that they are pretty good at predicting major weather events.Malapascua was hit by a relatively small storm a year before, but as the eye also passed over the island the wind directions changed very suddenly so quite a few boats were sunk.This time people were much more cautious.  Of the hundreds of boats on the island — big and small — every one of them was either pulled high onto the beach or hidden in what was expected to be the safest bay. It turned out nothing was safe and huge multi-tonne boats on the beach were literally flipped over by the wind.In the resort we boarded up windows with plywood, only to see it ripped right off.  Things were stored indoors — but again the storm ripped the roofing off several buildings, leaving all contents destroyed from the deluge and vast volume of sand what was being blown around.  In fact one of our newly painted boats had its entire livery sanded off so that it was again a blank hull. Our main target, and what I believe our donors wanted most, was to rebuild the homes of the local people.  Homes are simple on the island, usually plywood, concrete and metal roofing.  This has made it somewhat easier for us to achieve as there are enough local carpenters to turn materials into a simple home in about a week.Both the primary and secondary schools were badly damaged, so we are also involved in a rebuild of the elementary school which is currently operating a half schedule and mainly outdoors.  We are also looking at establishing one of the first proper clinics on the island.The communities are working with us to get things back on track but for sure they need assistance. People have limited means and income here, so solutions are immediate, simple and final.  Most people’s reaction is to find debris roofing and damaged wood and erect a temporary shelter and that’s about it.Assistance should really be from the Government or NGOs, but we are here so are able to work with them on getting better homes and considering more long term projects such as getting proper sanitation into some areas and maintaining a permanent medical clinic on the island.We’ve basically cut out the local political structure and are working directly with the people themselves — the fewer committees the better! Local houses in the immediate aftermath of the storm [Facebook/Evolution Diving]THE AFTERMATH Almost there — Craic House 2.0 [Evolution Diving/Facebook]THE FUTURE We went though various phases on remorse but now its about determination not to be beaten down by this event. We are doing what we can to get things back to what they were. We have achieved a massive amount already and in early January our completely rebuilt restaurant should open.What is harder to undo is the month of the worst publicity imaginable. We are set to have a record number of visitors this year but we have probably seen it go back five years or more in terms of numbers.This is difficult in terms of investment or effort, but that’s the way it is.  It has been draining — an emotional roller-coaster really, and between us we have had some very low moments. But on Malapascua we are lucky —nobody died, so you remember that and work back up from there. The tiny island is just 2.5km long [Google Maps]PREPARATIONS Read: ‘Cash, not second-hand clothes please,’ Irish NGOs appeal to donorsRelated: Column from the Philippines: ‘Driving through the city, I saw approximately 100 dead bodies’last_img read more

Garda whistleblower will speak to PAC todaybut you wont be able to

first_imgA GARDA WHISTLEBLOWER will give evidence on alleged malpractice in the penalty points system in private to TDs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today. The PAC took the decision on Tuesday to push ahead with hearing from serving garda sergeant Maurice McCabe despite an investigation being launched into the controversy by the Garda Ombudsman.The hearing will take place at 2pm and, despite it being held in private, McCabe will be restricted in what he can say and will not be allowed to name names.Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had last week raised the prospect of potential legal action over the appearance of the garda but yesterday confirmed that he would not be taking any legal proceedings.The Government says that the PAC has been asked to pass any relevant documentation they have on to the Ombudsman for their investigation with committee chairman John McGuinness saying that the Ombudsman’s investigation into wrongful penalty points cancellations is outside the remit of the PAC.Another former garda who also raised questions about poential abuse within the penalty points system will not be speaking before the PAC. Claims of impropriety have been regularly dismissed by senior gardaí including Garda Commissioner Callinan himself.Read: Shatter slams ‘disturbing’ PAC comments, asks Ombudsman to probe penalty points issue >Read: ‘The facts as I know them’: 11 things we learned from Martin Callinan’s evidence to the PAC >last_img read more

Patrick Halpin still missing after police mixup reported that he had been

first_imgTHE FAMILY OF missing student Patrick Halpin have said that there was a “mix-up” with the information provided by Metropolitan Police in London and that Patrick is still missing.Earlier reports that he had been found were shown to be incorrect a Metropolitan officer confirmed to officer said that there were reports that he had been found at a London airport but after checks with the investigating team this was found to be incorrect.Patrick’s sister Regina posted to her Facebook this evening that the information they received was wrong:Hi everyone, unfortunately there was a mix-up with information, Patrick is still missing please continue to share and retweet his picture, and keep him in your prayers.Patrick Halpin, a student at Dublin City University, has been missing since early Wednesday morning after a night out in London. He is believed to have been on a college trip with the DCU Drama Society.The Department of Foreign Affairs are assisting in the case.Read: Sister of missing Irishman in London appeals for help from public >last_img read more

17 lies your parents may have told you when you were a

When the ice cream man’s music plays it means he’s out of ice cream. Chewing on your hair will make hair start growing on your tongue. Little does she know that if she puts a strand of that hair in her mouth she faces almost certain death. Photo via ShutterstockIf you chew your hair you’ll swallow it and it will wrap around your heart and you’ll die! That picking marigolds makes you wet the bed. There are little maggots living in your stomach and if you don’t feed them (I.e. eat your dinner) they will eat your tummy.” The word ‘f#*$’ means love.On things there is really no need to lie about.These may look like innocent golden blossoms, but if parents are to be believed they can have a sinister effect. Pic via ShutterstockIf you point your finger at your mother it will stick up out of your grave and everyone will know you that were rude to your mother. Ice-cream men don’t wash their hands after they go to the toilet!On hair chewing: Condoms are balloons that you blow up and attach to a Christmas tree as a decoration. Eat your crusts, they will put hairs on your chest. (Confusingly said to a little girl.) Look at those innocent faces.  Who could lie to them?  Their parents, that’s who. Image via Shutterstock.IF THERE’S ONE thing we can all be sure about, it’s that our parents are liars.  Yes, that’s right, liars, all of them.Whether it was about the wind making our faces stay permanently funny or potatoes growing in our ears if we didn’t clean them (seriously, who started that one?  It’s just ridiculous.  And scary…), they were all at it.However, having done a whip around to find out some of the mistruths we were fed as youngsters, we’ve actually got a newfound sympathy for the parents.  They must have been really desperate to come up some of this stuff.On the ice cream man:A source of much parental conspiracy and deception. Flickr/spratmackrelThe ice cream man is really a child catcher, like the one in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. My dad told us that the giant Shell oil containers at Galway dock were filled with baked beans. Except the one on the back right. That one was filled with peas. A lie that was apparently passed on to him by his father. Although that could in fact also be a lie. WHO IS TO KNOW WITH THESE LYING BRIGANDS WE CALL PARENTS? If you chew on your hair your insides will turn to hair and you’ll die.On food:The national vegetable of Denmark? Flickr/CreativeCommons/spencer341bCoke and all coke products are what they use to clean car engines. That broccoli is the national vegetable of Denmark. That countries have national vegetables (Ireland’s was the potato, Wales had the leek).On uncomfortable topics:It does look like it could be a makeup removal product, in fairness. Photo via ShutterstockSanitary pads are for taking makeup off. That there is a place called Donegalway.What rubbish did you parents convince you of when you were a tot?7 reasons why Úna is the best one from The Saturdays>12 easy ways Ireland can beat austerity*>58-hour smooch sets record for world’s longest kiss> read more

Tatars urge NATO to intervene in Ukraine before there is a massacre

first_imgTHE EUROPEAN COURT of Human Rights (ECtHR) has called on Russia to refrain from any measures that could threaten the life and health of civilians in the escalating conflict in Ukraine.However, Tatar community leader Mustafa Dzhemilev has urged NATO to intervene in Crimea to avert a “massacre” and called on the Crimean Tatars to boycott the upcoming referendum to join Russia.“If other measures do not work, then NATO should intervene like in Kosovo,” Dzhemilev told AFP in a phone interview from Brussels, where he was preparing to meet NATO officials on Friday.“Massacre”NATO intervention “usually only happens when there is a massacre, we want it to happen before there is a massacre,” said Dzhemilev, currently a lawmaker in Kiev who spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call earlier this week.“I told him that we would not wage war against Russia but that we would struggle for the territorial integrity of our country. We still have to decide on what methods we will use,” the Tatar said.Dzhemilev also criticised inaction in the West, saying: “We haven’t seen any serious steps from the West. They imposed visa bans but so what? Those people (targeted by the bans) have a comfortable enough life in Russia.”Tatars are planning a series of demonstrations across Crimea on Friday ahead of Sunday’s vote under the slogan: “No to the illegal referendum!”Crimean Tatars make up just over 12 per cent of the population of Crimea.“Military actions”The ECtHR has told Kiev and Moscow should also avoid steps, “in particular military actions, which might entail breaches” of the European Convention on Human Rights for the civilian population, including putting their life and health at risk.The court reaction followed a complaint made by Ukraine earlier today, it said in a statement.A resident walks by a poster reading “Stop fascism! Everybody to the referendum!” in Sevastopol, Ukraine. (Image Credit: Andrew Lubimov/AP/Press Association Images)“Both States were also asked to inform the Court as soon as possible of the measures taken to ensure that the Convention is fully complied with,” it added.The Court said it may indicate to the parties “any interim measure which it considers should be adopted in the interests of the parties or of the proper conduct of the proceedings before it”.EmergencyMoscow’s ambassador to the United Nations told an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Thursday that Russia does not want war over the Ukraine crisis.His speech came after Western powers delivered a stinging rebuke of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and condemned a planned referendum in Crimea on Sunday to decide whether to join Russia.“If there is no sign of any capacity to be able to move forward and resolve this issue, there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday in Europe and here with respect to the options that are available to us,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers in Washington.Secretary of State John Kerry preparing to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate. (Image Credit: Charles Dharapak/AP/Press Association Images)His blunt comments came shortly after Ukraine’s parliament voted to set up a huge volunteer force that could keep Russian troops from advancing beyond the region of two million people they seized at the start of the month.Russia on Thursday launched its own military manoeuvres at its neighbour’s doorstep and also dispatched fighter jets to Belarus in a show of military muscle that betrayed no willingness to compromise.“If NATO decided, together with the Americans, to ramp up their air force presence near our borders, what, should we just watch them?” Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said.A pro Russia protester, right, kicks a pro Ukraine protester during clashes between the two sides following a rally in Donetsk. (Image Credit: Sergei Grits/AP/Press Association Images)In the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, a pro-Kiev protester was stabbed and killed in the first death since tensions began in the southeast of the country with Russia’s advance in Crimea.The 22-year-old was killed as demonstrators were attacked by a pro-Moscow rally, health services said.“According to preliminary conclusions by doctors, he has been stabbed,” the local branch of Ukraine’s health ministry told AFP, as regional authorities spoke of another 16 wounded in the clashes.Thirteen of these were in trauma or in surgery with serious injuries, one was hospitalised and two could be treated at the scene, Ilya Suzdalev, a spokesman for the regional authorities, said.- © AFP, 2014Read: Crimean lawmakers’ vote for independence ‘does not violate international law’ >More: Russian Ambassador to Ireland asks why the EU accepts “Nazi” elements in Ukraine >last_img read more

The Burning Question Are extra cushions on the bed pretty or pointless

first_img Pointless (and annoying) (3014) Pretty (and necessary) (725) Pretty (and necessary)Pointless (and annoying)Pretty and pointless (so can’t we all just get along)VoteGot a burning question that has divided your household/work colleagues/friends? Let us know in the comments section or email us at or previous entries in The Burning Question > Pretty and pointless (so can’t we all just get along) (2811)center_img WE KNOW HOW you feel.It’s Monday, you have the whole week looming ahead, and you have a lot on you plate.So do like we do here in HQ and get stuck into a serious debate on one of life’s most pressing issues.Possibly.This week: We’ve debated the importance of a made bed before. But just how made does it have to be? Does the tower of cushions of varying sizes and patterns really need to be there?“Yes, it’s pretty,” say some, as they carefully place each tier lovingly down the side of the bed before sleep. (Obviously, the good cushions are not for your drooling head).Cushions on Bed/Shutterstock“No, they are pointless and annoying,” says the other, ripping the cushions from the mattress and flinging them on the floor.EnglishPointers/Flickr/Creative CommonsWho do you agree with? Are extra cushions on the bed pretty – or pointless? Poll Results:last_img read more

Appeal issued for Dublin man missing for seven days

first_imgGARDAÍ IN DUBLIN have asked the public for its assistance in tracing the whereabouts of David O’Reilly, a 48-year-old man missing for the past seven days.The Rathmines resident was last seen in the city centre area at about 8.30am on Tuesday, 19 February.He is described as 5′ 8″ tall, of stocky build, with brown/grey hair and brown eyes.Anyone with information is asked to contact Rathmines Garda Station on 01 666 6700 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.Fresh appeal about murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoelast_img read more

Rivals trade barbs as election to succeed Chavez starts

first_imgVENEZULA HAS ENTERED a bitter election race to succeed Hugo Chavez, with his chosen successor branding his challenger a “fascist” after the opposition candidate accused him of exploiting the late leader’s death.Henrique Capriles accepted the nomination of the main opposition coalition for the April 14 election, immediately launching a broadside against acting President Nicolas Maduro by accusing him of being “sick with power.”Chavez, whose socialist revolution divided his oil-rich nation, is casting a huge shadow in the election, with throngs of supporters flocking to see his body lying in state since Wednesday at a Caracas military academy.Maduro says the government will embalm Chavez’s body to be viewed “like Lenin” in a glass casket “for eternity.”“Now on top of it all, you are using the body of the president to stage a political campaign,” said Capriles, the energetic 40-year-old Miranda state governor.Glass casketAfter weeks of rumors about the president’s health, Maduro went on national television last Tuesday to announce the death of Chavez, telling that nation that the firebrand leftist had lost his two-year battle with cancer at the age of 58.“Nicolas lied to this country,” Capriles said, adding that the former vice president had been buying time during Chavez’s illness to prepare the election.He added: “Who knows when president Chavez died?”Chavez traveled to Cuba on 10 December for a fourth round of cancer surgery and was never heard from or seen in public again, apart from one set of photos. He returned to Caracas on 18 February but was never seen until his death.Maduro went on state-run television minutes after his rival’s press conference, standing in front of a picture of Chavez in military uniform as he accused his rival of trying to foment violence with “disgusting” accusations.Amid popular pressure to place Chavez alongside South American independence hero Simon Bolivar in the national pantheon, Maduro said he would propose a constitutional amendment to move him there to the legislature on Tuesday.The move would lead to a referendum in 30 days that could coincide with the presidential election. The body will first be moved on Friday to a military museum where Chavez plotted a failed coup in 1992.Farith Fraija, a political scientist and blogger, told AFP: “It’s not a race between Capriles and Nicolas Maduro. It’s a race between Capriles and Chavez.”Snap electionThe two candidates will register for the snap election on Monday.Capriles accused the government again of abusing its power and violating the constitution by swearing-in Maduro as acting president late Friday, arguing that he should have stepped down in order to run for office.Maduro has countered that the opposition conveniently misinterpreted the constitution and that his inauguration followed the wishes of his predecessor, who had asked the nation to elect him if he died.Chavez defeated Capriles by 11 points in the October presidential election, but Capriles gave the opposition its best result ever against the president, garnering 44 percent of the votes.A recent survey by pollsters Hinterlaces gave Maduro a 14-point advantage over Capriles, though the opposition leader has questioned the firm’s reliability in the past.Capriles, a youthful, energetic lawyer and runner, drew massive crowds during the last campaign, bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of Caracas for a rally in the final stretch of the race.But Chavez was propelled to victory again thanks to his popularity among the nation’s once-neglected poor, who worshipped him for the oil-funded social program that brought them health care, housing and education. His expropriations and nationalizations of key industries, however, have riled the wealthy.The opposition accused Chavez of abusing state funds and dominating state-run media in his campaigns. – © AFP, 2013Read: Hugo Chavez will be embalmed ‘like Ho Chi Minh, Lenin and Mao’ >last_img read more

Another €150 million added to Governments economic stimulus plan

first_imgTHE GOVERNMENT HAS announced that an additional €150 million will be invested in its major capital economic stimulus plan.The extra funding will go towards school construction and road maintenance and repair, as well as the scheme for retro-fitting local authority houses.28 school projects will be funded, with around €50 million in new funding matching €40 million of funds previously assigned to the Department of Education.An additional €50 million will be allocated to road upkeep and development, with 600 kilometres of roadway “to be rehabilitated to a high standard”.A further €50 million will be allocated to an energy efficiency grant scheme, allowing 25,000 local authority houses to be upgraded so that they can become more energy efficient.In each case, the funding is additional to the capital budgets already assigned to each Department in the Budget 2013 estimates.The Department of Education expects 1,200 direct and indirect construction jobs to be created through the school projects, which are in addition to the 275 projects announced last year.Transport minister Leo Varadkar, meanwhile, said his €50 million would be used to address the damage caused to the country’s roads by two successive harsh winters.“While resources are limited, there is a risk that roads can deteriorate quite rapidly and are expensive to repair if repairs and maintenance are not carried out,” he said.It is expected that most of the funding will go towards projects where the design stage is well advanced, with some projects beginning construction by the end of 2013.Public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin said it was important to continue capital development works despite the financial constraints on the government.Poll: Do you feel safe on Irish roads?last_img read more

VIDEO Alex White on how austerity affects him and whether Joan Burton

first_imgSource: Video and editing: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ieLABOUR LEADERSHIP CONTENDER Alex White has admitted that it bothers him that he is well paid while making decisions which impact on those reliant on public services.However in a wide-ranging interview with, the junior health minister has said that Labour has made the decisions it has in government “in order to ensure that we didn’t have to do worse things”.“I believe that the extent of cuts in public services would have been much more severe if we weren’t in government,” White said.During the course of the interview at our offices in Dublin yesterday afternoon, White spoke on several issues and answered a number of readers’ questions including one on cannabis legalisation.He insisted it is possible that the Budget does not have to impose any more austerity on people and accepted criticism that Labour is only now starting to listen to its voters in the wake of its election performance last month.He dealt with rival Joan Burton’s refusal to commit to including him in Cabinet if she is elected leader and also rejected claims that Labour “broke all our promises” pointing out that the party only got 19 per cent of the vote at the last election.Watch the above video for much more with White answering several of your questions, including: 1. Ignoring the electorate: 2. A question from Grace Costigan who asked:“Which three policies are the Labour Party most committed to having made into legislation?” 4. The impact of austerity: Questions from several readers who asked: “How has austerity affected you?”5. Pulling out of government: 6. And finally…Minister: I keep an eye on cannabis legalisation in other countries (And yes, I’ve tried it) Alex White: Right now, a reasonable person could conclude that Kenny sacked Callinanlast_img read more

Microsoft announces 18000 job cuts in global workforce

first_imgWe are moving now to start reducing the first 13,000 positions, and the vast majority of employees whose jobs will be eliminated will be notified over the next six months.“It’s important to note that while we are eliminating roles in some areas, we are adding roles in certain other strategic areas,” Nadella added.- Additional reporting from the AP and AFPRead: Microsoft to build new Dublin headquarters and take on 200 extra staff > MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED plans to cut up to 18,000 jobs in its global workforce over the next year as it works to integrate the Nokia business it bought earlier in 2014.Microsoft agreed a €5.4 billion deal to acquire Nokia back in April.The company employs around 2,000 people in Ireland, and the cuts announced today are understood to have a limited impact on its Irish workforce. It recently announced the establishment of a new Dublin headquarters and the recruitment of another 200 staff.A Microsoft statement said the job cuts are part of “a restructuring plan to simplify its operations and align the recently acquired Nokia Devices and Services business with the company’s overall strategy.”The company’s employee headcount rose from around 99,000 before the Nokia deal to around 127,000 last month; the cuts represent a 14% drop in the company’s workforce.It also said it anticipates charges of $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion over the next four quarters, which includes $750 million to $800 million for severance and related benefit costs.The company is not providing a by-country breakdown of where the cuts will be allocated, but in an email to staff, Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said that, of the 18,000 jobs being cut, “our work toward synergies and strategic alignment on Nokia Devices and Services is expected to account for about 12,500 jobs, comprising both professional and factory workers.”last_img read more

Definite line of inquiry being followed into source of Tolka pollution

first_imgDUBLIN CITY COUNCIL is following a definite line of inquiry in their investigations into a significant pollution incident yesterday on the River Tolka.Hundreds of fish were killed after a foam-like substance spread down the river from Finglas Road Bridge down as far as Griffith Park.The full extent of the environmental impact of the incident is not yet known, but the fish kill is being described as “extensive”.Testing of the substance is ongoing.A barrier had been installed to prevent the contamination from spreading further down the waterway, but this has since been removed as it is no longer needed.The council confirmed in a statement released this evening that a ‘definite line of inquiry is being followed’ in relation to the source of the pollutant.Members of the public can report incidents illegal fishing and water pollution, and also the presence of invasive, on the Inland Fisheries Ireland confidential hotline, 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24.Background: Emergency response under way after “extensive fish kill” on the Tolka >last_img read more

HTC invests in OnLive to bring cutting edge cloud gaming to future

first_imgOn the PC, thin client OnLive works excellent, pumping streaming high-def video games through the cloud to even the wimpiest PCs as long as their broadband pipe is thick. With more and more gaming happening on smartphones, though, OnLive’s failure to release an iOS or Android port of their client is starting to seem fairly conspicuous. Just when will OnLive bring top-of-the-line PC gaming to a smartphone?According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, it looks like that will be happening soon… and when it does, it won’t be on iPhone. Why? Handset maker HTC has just purchased a $40 million stake in the streaming game company, and that move points to HTC wanting to bring advanced streaming games to their line of Android and Windows Phone 7 devices.AdChoices广告This isn’t the only recent investment on the part of HTC when it comes to the cloud. They’ve also recently purchased Saffron Digital, a streaming video business specializing in streaming DRM-protected video streams.This is actually a pretty interesting development. Most high-end PC games won’t play well on a touchscreen, but what HTC is banking on here is that the OnLive technology can be leveraged so that custom touchscreen games can be streamed to their devices boasting graphics far, far out of reach of your average smartphone. By divorcing a game’s engine from a handset’s hardware, HTC could potentially deliver consistent, cutting-edge graphics across all of their devices without investing in the latest and greatest mobile chips. That’s something to be interested in, to be sure.Read more at Wall Street Journallast_img read more

Apple exploring smaller cheaper iPhone model

first_imgApple is getting eaten alive by Google’s mobile operating system, Android, when it comes to global market share. In the fourth quarter, Android market share tripled to 32.9%, which is more than double Apple’s market share of 16%, to make it the world’s leading smartphone OS according to Canalys. As we all know, Apple and its leader Steve Jobs doesn’t like to settle for second place.That’s why there may be some truth to the Bloomberg report that Apple is looking to offer a cheaper and smaller version of the iPhone to apply pricing pressure to Android smartphones. Besides being one-third smaller, the new iPhone would be priced cheaper since it would use the same parts contained in current iPhone models instead of the more expensive parts that would be put into new iPhone models. Apple has even considered selling the smaller iPhone for $200 without a two-year agreement.To gain a competitive advantage Apple is also working on other technologies including a dual-mode iPhone which would work on GSM and CDMA networks and something called a Universal SIM which would let owners switch between GSM networks without having to swap out SIM cards.An unsubsidized iPhone, would allow owners to easily switch between carriers without any concern over termination fees.  Unfortunately, just because Apple is looking at these technologies and the smaller iPhone model it doesn’t mean that they will ever see the light of day since all prototypes don’t make it to market.Read more at Bloomberglast_img read more

Porsche Unveils First EV Boxster In Stuttgart

first_imgPorsche already has plans to make waves in the hybrid market — which includes its 918 Spyder supercar — but now the German manufacturer has revealed its first three all electric sports cars.Three different e-versions of the iconic Porsche Boxster will eventually be produced, and the first was recently unveiled in Stuttgart. It features two, 240 horsepower electric motors, which are attached to both the front and rear axles, giving the car all wheel drive performance. It’s also expected to have a range of around 100 miles and be able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds.The announcement is part of Porsche’s electric pilot program that, in conjunction with the city of Stuttgart, will be experimenting with vehicles and infrastructure in an attempt to make the region more EV friendly. Sadly, there are no curent plans to make these electric Boxsters commercially available.Via Autoblog Greenlast_img read more

Invisible Art Is Decoded With A Digital Camera

first_imgHere’s a video of the two artists explaining it: You might get thrown out of some art galleries for taking photos, but a gallery of work by two Toronto artists requires it. The series of “invisible paintings” (as the artists’ website calls them) uses LEDs that put out light outside the spectrum that our eyes can see. When you walk into the gallery, you get the art equivalent of John Cage’s 4’33”: several blank paintings on the walls.However, thanks to the sensitivity of digital sensors, you can turn on your digital camera or pick up your cell phone and see the glowing images on the two-foot by three-foot canvas. The art is tuned to the presentation method too, depicting smiles and winks as you take its photo in a sort of a self-aware nod to its viewers.Brad Blucher and Kyle Clements, the artists behind the project, say on their website that their goal is to expose the contrast between social media and digital technology, where everything is photographed and shared, and most art museums, where this type of sharing is frowned upon or even banned outright. See a video of them talking about the project after the break.[via Make Magazine, Kyle Clements]last_img read more

Iron Man Mark V Briefcase suit built by The Real Tony Stark

first_imgWe’ve all seen replicas of our favorite comic book character’s costumes, but this one is something else. Inspired by the suit seen in Iron Man 2, the Iron Man Mark V Briefcase Armour is unique because it transforms from a briefcase into a fully-detailed, functional suit of armor.Okay, so when we say “briefcase,” we really mean large, irregular-shaped bag, but the creator, Ryan Brooks, or as he calls himself, the Real Tony Stark, had good intentions. He said it was a “little larger” than he had anticipated, which is due to the leg armor and its space requirements. It holds together well though, and weighs a total of 25 lbs.AdChoices广告The backside of the briefcase shows the foil tubing, which becomes the back of the knees. The handle can’t actually support any weight, but it’s really the only evidence left that this is an actual briefcase. The handle splits and rotates to fit onto the back of each boot.A costume like this isn’t a something you can whip up in a weekend. The suit took over 1,200 hours of work. Brooks used more than 4,000 LEGO Technic pieces; 483 individual pieces of high-impact polystyrene plastic armor, which he heat-formed individually by hand; 4 coats of paint; 145 magnets; and so much more. Brooks lists every single material, so you can hypothetically recreate the suit if you have that much time on your hands.It’s not just a suit, though. It also has built-in glowing eyes, a lighted arc reactor, and creates sound effects using an Arduino Lilypad, among other things.The costume was so good it took “Best in Show” at Toronto Comic Con 2011. You can view the full photo gallery, which explains the entire process in depth.via read more