Monday, March 31, 2008
Turkey's Top Court to Hear Case to Ban Ruling AK Party Party in major Secularist Islamist clash-Whither Turkish Secularism?
The win for the pro-business, Islamist-rooted party was a major blow to secularism within the country. AK party officials have promised to maintain Turkeys secular political system. In reality the movement has moved towards a limited form of Islamisation. A ban on female students wearing Muslim headscarves in Turkey's universities has been lifted.Parliament approved the constitutional amendments by 411 votes to 103. This led to an outcry among secularists. Thousands of people waving Turkish flags and chanting secularist slogans staged a protest rally against the changes in Ankara. Secularists suspect -probably correctly- that the AK Party wishes to dismantle the secularist political system in a gradual manner.
It is against this backdrop that the Turkish Constitutional Court has announced that it will hear the closure case against the ruling AK Party. The case accuses the party of seeking to undermine the secular state and includes a possible political ban of five years for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Constitutional Court's decision to accept the closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party, called the AK Party, was given in a short announcement by the deputy chairman of the court, Osman Paksut.
With increasing political instability inevitable military intervention cannot be ruled out. So far the army has remained quiescent. However a major constitutional crisis may be about to unfold. In such an eventuality the army may intervene to maintain stability. Is is doubtful if the secularists can withstand the Islamist tide in the long term.
If the AK Party is banned it could reform under another name. AK's predecessor was the Refah Party.
A strongly Islamist Turkey would have little prospect of joining the EU. Could this save secularism?
Sunday, March 30, 2008
North Korea has test-fired a number of short range missiles according to South Korea.Analysts believe the military exercise is intended to send out two messages:Firstly, that Pyongyang is unhappy with the United States, after Washington applied pressure on North Korea to detail its uranium enrichment programme and the extent of its links to Syria.Secondly, that its thought the test was a dig at the new conservative government in Seoul.
Raw video:Baghdad,Iraq:Photographer Steve Bent speeds through the Iraqi capital with a gun-toting security aide determined to get him to an assignment on time.
TEXT FROM SOURCE:The aging Nissan 4x4 is racing and rattling through the potholed roads of the Mansour district of Baghdad. The young driver, his hand glued to the horn, is taking instructions from his “boss” in the front passenger seat. Frantic exchanges of Arab male voices fill the car.As we screech around a bend opposite the remains of one of Saddam’s palaces, the road ahead is gridlocked with three lanes of morning rush-hour traffic. The boss (who wishes to remain anonymous) takes immediate action: he pulls out his Heckler & Koch 9mm pistol and squeezes his upper body through the window. With the gun in his hand we hurtle towards the oncoming traffic.
Welcome to minicab's, Baghdad style, or as close as you can get to them in a war-torn city.As a photographer, I have made thousands of car journeys in Iraq over the past five years, which can by turns be boring, frustrating or terrifying, but even by Baghdad’s standards this one stands out......
Read full story at liveleak
Saturday, March 29, 2008
A Long Island Couple filmed this remarkable sequence of the sun at Medjugorje June 25, 2006, the 25th anniversary of the Marian apparitions (June 25, 1981). These images are historically similar to what was seen at Fatima in 1917 and viewed by 70,000. Many times the camera will capture light images the human eye cannot perceive until the recording media is processed. Note the shadows, use sunglasses, hats by visitors, and the viginetting of light in the camera lenses of what it is recording.
This is the miracle of the Sun that has occured in Medjugorje on several occasions.This fantastic clip shows how the sun moves because of the presence of the Mother of God: the most holy Virgin Mary.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Sheep farmers are at the mercy of stray dogs. The farmer made the point that on some occasions dogs are dumped by their owners. On other occasions they may break free from hill walkers and wreak havoc.
Another farmer contacted the programme to state that there were five stray dogs on the loose in the Lismore area.
Unfortunately some urban dwellers cannot appreciate the difficulties facing sheep farmers. Many farmers are painted as unreasonable when they complain about difficulties posed by some hill walkers who are accompanied by dogs.
Hopefully hill walkers who are tempted to bring dogs on their mountain treks will desist from the practice. It poses difficulties for the overwhelming majority of sensible walkers.
Sheep farmers are entitled to protect their livelihoods.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Harney and Gormley seek a statement of clarification from Bertie Ahern on Mahon Tribunal evidence - no threat to the Government
Clinton prepares for Democratic Convention Bloodbath as huge split looms-The Lady is not for turning
Once more she refused to admit that she told untruths in relation to her trip to Bosnia. As far as she was concerned it was an honest mistake. Unfortunately for Clinton the TV footage tells another story.
In relation to the nomination she outlined her determination to take the fight to the convention floor. She stated that there was ten more states -with millions of votes- to be counted. She consistently emphasised the right of Michigan and Florida voters. She declared that the Florida/Michigan votes would be counted one way or another at the convention. In other words there will be a fire fight on the convention floor if necessary. She consistently blamed Obama for the impasse. Clinton is prepared to fracture the Democratic Party if necessary to get the nomination. The lady is not for turning. The Democratic Party is on the precipice of self-destruction propelled by a ruthless ambitious woman. This is music to the ears of the GOP.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
ABC This Week 123007. Hillary thought that Pervez Musharraf was on the ballot in Pakistan's upcoming Parliamentary Elections which were held on February 18, 2008. He was re-elected as President to a 5-year term in October 2007. This was a major gaffe.
It provides further evidence that Clinton is out of touch on foreign policy issues. Her foreign policy claims are built on foundations of sand.
Lets call a spade a spade. This video shows clearly that Hillary Clinton told lies in relation to her trip to Bosnia. It should be compulsive viewing for Hillary. Today Clinton told a news conference that the wear and tear of the presidential campaign had caused her to misspeak about the circumstances of the visit. "I made a mistake and, you know, I had a different memory," she said. "And you know, my staff and others have, you know, all kind of come together trying to sort out. So I made a mistake. That happens. It proves I am human."
This was no mistake. It was a calculated effort to exaggerate her claims of foreign policy experience. Lets be blunt. Clinton deliberately misrepresented the facts . She lacks the good grace to admit that she told untruths. She is treating the electorate with contempt.
She spoke about her contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process. In reality she took no part in any negotiations.
She claims that she argued for US military intervention in Rwanda. No evidence of this exists. What does exist is evidence that Bill Clinton stood idly by and allowed the butchery of between 800,000 and one million people.
Clinton's foreign policy claims are in ashes.
Lies are nothing new to Mrs Clinton. For years she claimed that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary of Mt. Everest fame. On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first human beings to conquer Mount Everest. How did Hillary Diane Rodham born in 1947 get named after a man who the world came to know some 6 years later?
Eventually she admitted that she was not named after Sir Edmund.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
According to an article in The Atlantic by Samantha Power of Harvard (and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on America's role in combating genocide), "staying out of Rwanda was an explicit U.S. policy objective." She expressed these opinions long before she became an Obama adviser.
Hillary Clinton claims that she argued for the use of US troops. There is no impartial evidence of this. Once more Hillary's foreign policy claims go up in smoke.
Between 800,000 and one million people died in the genocide.
Watch a news report from 1996 about HRC's trip to Bosnia and then see her speech from March 18, 2008 where she answers a question about the trip. So embarrassing!
In a speech on Iraq policy delivered Monday at George Washington University, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recalled facing "sniper fire" on her 1996 trip to Bosnia to visit U.S. troops on a peacekeeping mission. But reporters traveling with the then-First Lady made no reference to any "sniper fire" at the time, and pictures of Clinton arriving at the main air base in Tuzla (see attached video) don't show anyone ducking or covering.
Hillary Clinton's claims of foreign policy experience are an enormous sack of gas. Clinton would be better employed writing a novel Hillary's Fables.
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
Uploaded by rikd7
Christ the Lord Is risen Today
Christ the Lord Is risen Today Alleluia
Born that Man No More May Die Alleluia
Sons of God In Triumph Raised Alleluia
Sing now their hymns to him on high Alleluia
From the Mountains To the Seas Alleluia
Christ Has Won Our Liberty Alleluia
Death shall reign On Earth No More Alleluia Life Everlasting an Open Door Alleluia
Soaring With Him As On Eagle's wings Alleluia We shall follow his Exalted Lead Alleluia Death has Lost Forever it's Sting Alleluia Christ has won the Victory! Alleluia
New Lyrics Copyright Richard Alford (C) 2008 Musical Arrangement Copyright Richard Alford (C) 2000
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
The music is the the modern soundtrack that was put with the 1928 silent movie "The Passion of Joan of Arc," directed by Carl Dreyer. It is called "Voices of Light" and was composed by Richard Einhorn.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
On March 20, 2008, Islamist websites, including Al-Ikhlas, posted an Al-Sahab audio message by Osama bin Laden, in which he threatens Europe for republishing the Muhammad cartoons.
In the message, bin Laden states that the republishing of the cartoons was part of a "new Crusade in which the pope has played a significant role," and that the Europeans' offense of defaming the Prophet is even graver than their crime of killing innocent Muslim women and children.
Addressing the Europeans, he threatens: "The response is what you see, not what you hear, and may our mothers mourn us if we fail to come to the aid of Allah's Messenger."
The IRFU may target Jake White the former South African Rugby coach who led the Springboks to World Cup victory in 2007 -against the odds.
However it is well known that White covets the English job. Much will depend on the English RFU’s decision in relation to head coach Brian Ashton. White has in the past been contemptuous of Irish rugby teams. This may be a pointer.
The New Zealander has played club rugby in Ireland and France. He has served as England’s assistant coach and as New Zealand national coach. He currently leads the Australian Super 14 side the Western Force.
The Australian successfully led the ACT Brumbies. He took Australia to the 2003 World Cup final. He has served as head coach to the Queensland Reds. He served as technical adviser to South Africa for the World Cup in France.
He is former head coach of Australia . Connolly has worked with Queensland Reds, Stade Francais and Bath.
Played for Queensland Reds, ACT Brumbies and Leicester Tigers. He is ex-head coach at Leicester . He played at centre and fly-half for the Wallabies. He has stepped down as general manager of the Australian Rugby Union's high performance unit. Would be a strong candidate. Has business commitments.
Has a strong track record with Munster. He coached them to their 2006 Heineken Cup victory. He also served as coach with Leinster but had difficult relations with some players. This may damage his prospects.
The Australian has joined Leinster. He guided Saracens to fourth-place in the Guinness Premiership. His involvement with Saracens continues for another year. He is an outstanding backs coach. He also has experience with Munster.
The former Wallaby under-21s international led Leinster to the Heineken Cup semi-final in 2006. Probably a long shot.
Williams is an outstanding coach. He has been unfairly criticized for his record with Scotland. Scotland lacked the talent to make an impact. He has also served successfully as Leinster boss. He has just taken over as Ulster coach. The influence of his coaching technique is already apparent.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
According to the New York Times
…..There are redactions — blacked-out sections — on more than 4,400 pages, and on many days there is an entry for a “private meeting” that gives no clue as to whom she met or what the meeting was about. The documents offer no support for her claims, made during the presidential campaign, that she helped to negotiate the Irish peace accords or facilitated the flow of refugees in the Balkans. Neither is there evidence in them to back up her claim that she helped pass the Family and Medical Leave Act, the first legislation Mr. Clinton signed as president. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, sailed through Congress and landed on Mr. Clinton’s desk 10 days after he was inaugurated. Indeed, on the day Mr. Clinton signed the bill into law, Feb. 5, 1993, there is no indication on that day’s calendar that she attended……
These documents indicate clearly that Hillary's claims are an enormous sack of gas. They confirm that she played no part in the negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland. Her claims in relation to the Balkans and the Family and Medical Leave Act are fallacious.
The blacked out sections indicate an attempt to dupe voters.
The words of Mitt Romney are apposite "she’s never run anything. She’s never had the occasion of being in the private sector, running a business, or, for that matter, running a state or a city. She hasn’t run anything, and the government of the United States is not a place for a president to be an intern. You need to have experience actually leading and running things".
Perhaps Hillary should consider a career as a fiction writer.
“The Irish it would appear are not as well served by the EMU as they would have us believe. Or could it be that they don't understand money and finance quite as well as they think. In my last blog I highlighted the problems some of their east European labour was suffering due to the downturn in the Irish economy. It would appear that the many of the 'New Irish' now find themselves broke, unable to speak the language, depending on charity to eat, struggling to keep a roof over their head or homeless, and too ashamed to go home. They may well be joined by the native inhabitants of the emerald isle, and this time they wont have the wicked British to blame…”
It is accompanied by a picture from the late 1800s or early 1900s which gives an image of abject poverty. The picture has the caption ”YOU CAN'T BLAME US THIS TIME.” The gloating is based on ignorance.
The Telegraph has never got over the fact that we are an independent people since 1921/22. Of course there are serious problems in the Irish property market. I have documented them from time to time. Nevertheless there is not a scintilla of evidence to suggest that Anglo Irish Bank, AIB or Bank of Ireland face collapse. These banks are robust and quite profitable.
It is a bit rich to listen from lectures from the UK on Irish problems.
Has not grumpylarry heard about Northern Rock, the UK bank that got a £25bn bailout from the British government recently?
Has he forgotten the Lawson boom/bust?
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Hillary: The Movie (1 of 9) THE FEDERAL ELECTIONS COMMISSION HAS BANNED SHOWING IT OR ADVERTISING FOR IT ON TELEVISION
These nine videos spell out the reasons why the electorate should not plump for Hillary Clinton in November. They are the work of Citizens United. The cast includes: Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Jeff Gerth, Buzz Patterson, Michael Barone, Billy Dale, Cyrus Nowrasteh, Tony Blankley, Dick Armey, Bay Buchanan, Joe Connor, Mark Levin, Frank Gaffney, Peter Paul, Gary Aldrich, Dan Burton, John Mica, Michael Medved, Kathleen Willey, Kate O’Beirne, Larry Kudlow.
"Senator Clinton has an extraordinary ability to obfuscate, to refuse to answer questions, to avoid confrontations; and up until now has been given a pass on it."BOB NOVAK .
How will Clinton react to these videos? They are political dynamite.
Monday, March 17, 2008
A tragic accident has claimed the life of Ola Brunkert, 62 who was drummer for 1974 Eurovision winners, ABBA.
He toured with the group in 1977,1979, and 1980 and played on all their albums. Brunkert first played with ABBA on the group's first single, "People Need Love".
Whilst not usually in the spotlight he played a major role in the success of the group which has sold more than 370 million albums and sells nearly 3 million records annually. He was born on September 15th, 1946, in Örebro Sweden and was a jazz drummer. He was also a member of the blues band Slim's Blues Gang, before joining pop group Science Poption in the mid-1960s.
He died yesterday in Mallorca, Spain. It is believed that he fell through a glass door in his dining room, shattering the glass and cutting himself on his face and his neck. He left his home to seek help. However Brunkert collapsed in his garden and a neighbour discovered his body late last night. He had bled to death. He was predeceased by his wife.
R.I.P. Ola Brunkert (September 15th 1946 - March 16th 2008)
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Flogging Molly is a seven-piece Irish Folk influenced punk band, that formed in Los Angeles and is currently signed under SideOneDummy Records. The band currently consists of:
* Dave King (vocals, acoustic guitar, bodhran, banjo, spoons, backing vocals on "Cruel Mistress" and "Queen Anne's Revenge")
* Bridget Regan (fiddle, tin whistle, uilleann pipes, backing vocals-*lead vocals on the live version of "Factory Girls"*)
* Dennis Casey (electric guitar, backing vocals)
* Nathen Maxwell (bass guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Cruel Mistress" and "Queen Anne's Revenge")
* Bob Schmidt (mandolin, mandola, banjo, bazouki, backing vocals)
* George Schwindt (drums, percussion, bodhran)
* Matt Hensley (Accordeon)
See: Flogging Molly
This match was competitive for the first 30 minutes. Unfortunately it was spoilt by the sending off of Waterford's Michael Brick Walsh. Referee Michael Haverty administered yellow cards liberally throughout the game. This was a clean game. The referee is the real story. Admittedly he is applying the rules as he sees fit. However in my view he was too fussy.
Croke Park authorities are out of touch with reality. Hurling is a physical and skilful game. It is a game for men. It is not soccer. Once the game is played in a clean and sporting manner the role of the referee should be minimal. Croke Park is a determined to ape the idiocy prevailing in soccer. Increasingly players are exasperated with much of this yellow card nonsense emanating from GAA headquarters.
The sending off of Michael Walsh in the 35th minute of the first half for a second yellow card effectively finished this game as a spectacle. In my view it was a harsh decision. The referee should have given him a final warning.
In the first half Kilkenny appeared sharper. They were quicker to the ball. The Waterford forward line was poor. However this is partly explained by the fact that high balls were raining in from outfield. In addition the forwards were largely static and failed to move off the ball sufficiently. The experiment of playing Declan Prendergast in the forward line is a failure. It must be discontinued.
The second half was one-way traffic. Kilkenny looked exceptionally sharp. However Brian Cody would have welcomed a stronger test again a 15 man Waterford team.
The problems in the Waterford full back line have not been ironed out. Neither Richie Foley or Kevin Moran is a full back. It is time for a radical reorganisation of the defense. Ken McGrath should play at full-back and Michael Brick Walsh should play at centre back. This would provide a strong central spine. The defence should be built around this. Some will argue that this is robbing Peter to pay Paul. However I see no alternative.
The forwards must move off the ball. Also low ball should come in to the forward line. Shooting from hopeless positions must be abandoned. It is time for more ground hurling.
The National Hurling League should be used for more experimentation. It is important to unearth more talent.
As of now Tipperary must be favoured to win the Munster Senior Hurling Championship.
This video comes from Russia Today
Beijing has set a deadline of Monday for demonstrators in Tibet to surrender. Chinese officials say the violence in the last few days has left ten people dead. But exiled Tibetan leaders put the death toll at a hundred and claim many more protestors have been injured.
Undoubtedly the Tibetan people will face even greater repression as a result of these demonstrations. The Chinese Communists devoid of any semblance of moral scruple will use the same jackboot tactics as were successfully employed by the Burmese Government in its crackdown on the 2007 uprising by Buddhist monks. Did not the Chinese Government school the Butchers of Burma in advanced techniques of military repression?
The following places the demonstrations in a historical context:
"Today from the legal standpoint, Tibet to this day has not lost its statehood. It is an independent state under illegal occupation. Neither China's military invasion nor the continuing occupation by PLA has transferred the sovereignty of Tibet to China.
As pointed out earlier, the Chinese government has not claimed to have acquired sovereignty over Tibet by conquest. Indeed, China recognises that the use or threat of force (outside the exceptional circumstances provided for in the UN charter), the imposition of an unequal treaty or the continued illegal occupation of a country can never grant an invader legal title to territory. Its claims are based solely on the alleged subjection of Tibet to a few of China's strongest foreign rulers in the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries..."
- Dr. Michael C Van Walt Van Pragg (International Lawyer) The Status of Tibet
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Cipriani the twenty year old English out-half orchestrated the English revival. Gradually the English pack asserted its dominance. A penalty by Cipriani made the score 3-10. Sackey scored a fine try for England and Cipriani duly converted. It was 10-10 and the writing was on the wall for Ireland. A penalty by Cipriani made the score 13-10.
The first half had its share of errors but nevertheless it was brimful of exciting rugby.
In the second half England assumed total dominance. Further tries from Matthew Tail and Noon, both converted by Cipriani and penalties converted by Cipriani made the score 33-10. Ireland did not fail for want of effort. However the centre pairing of Horgan and Trimble lacked the cutting edge of O’Driscoll and Darcy. The loss of Geordan Murphy in the first half further weakened Ireland as an attacking force. Several promising Irish attacks broke down as the moves lacked the required subtlety to unlock the English defense. Generally Irish moves broke down for lack of support as Irish players regularly found themselves outnumbered. The English forwards dominated.
Cipriani, Noon , Lipman, Croft, Borthwick, Shaw were among the English stars.
For Ireland O ’Gara, Luke Fitzgerald and Kearney had their moments.
In recent years Eddie O’Sullivan has failed to blood sufficient new players. Now the day of reckoning has arrived for Ireland. It is time to rebuild the team. Whilst new players such as Fitzgerald, Kearney, Heaslip and Buckley have been blooded they need much more playing experience to compete at higher levels. Fortunately there is a reasonably good pool of talent from which to draw. In 2007 Ireland produced a fine U-20 team. Ireland can recover.
Brian Ashton has fashioned a new English side brimful of exciting young talent. The future for England is bright
Friday, March 14, 2008
Racism is endemic in the Clinton campaign. However Obama must distance himself from Rev. Jeremiah Wright or face the wrath of the voters. The Rev Wright states that "The government gives them (African Americans) the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme." He said that the United States had brought on al Qaeda's attacks because of its own terrorism.
"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Rev. Wright said in a sermon on Sept. 16, 2001.
"We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost," he told his congregation.
The Democratic Party is the real racist party.
Barack Obama's mentor, Jeremiah Wright of Trinity UCC (United Church of Christ) preaching on the notion of a black Jesus being oppressed by white people and his tirade against Hillary Clinton stating that, "Hillary ain't never been called a...."
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro quit her links to the Hillary Clinton campaign yesterday after she attributed Barack Obama's success to the fact that he was black. Her remarks have created a political storm. Ferraro in introducing the race issue had merely taken her cue from Bill and Hillary Clinton. Of Ferraro's comment, Hillary Clinton said: ''I certainly do repudiate it and I regret deeply that it was said. Obviously she doesn't speak for the campaign, she doesn't speak for any of my positions, and she has resigned from being a member of my very large finance committee.'' Of course Hillary required her resignation. This is a meaningless gesture. Ferraro has done the dirty work for Hillary by keeping the race issue on the boil. Secretly Hillary is happy with Ferraro’s comments. They serve to widen the chasm between Caucasoids and African Americans.
Last night Hillary Clinton apologized to leaders of 200 black community newspapers for any offense caused by her husband's comments on January 26th comparing Barack Obama's victory in the South Carolina primary to Jesse Jackson's in 1984 and 1988. This was an ugly smear designed to couple Obama with Jackson who is detested by a large segment of the white community.
Bill Clinton’s comments -at the behest of Hillary- fanned the flames of racial division. There is evidence that this tactic has worked in states such as Ohio.
On March 13th almost seven weeks after the event Hillary decided to “apologise” for Bills comments. Her hypocrisy stinks to high heavens. Did Bill resign? Of course not. This “apology" is a meaningless gesture.
Whilst Democrats squabble on the race issues the GOP promotes African Americans such as Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.
Hillary Clinton should withdraw from the campaign. She is a divisive influence. It is time for the US to elect John McCain.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
(1) Remarks made by Clinton about the role of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Civil Rights movement provided clearcut evidence that Hillary intended to use the race card. She said that while Martin Luther King talked about equality, it took a president like Lyndon Baines Johnson to do the real work of getting civil rights passed. Essentially she was stating that Martin Luther King was all talk and no action just like Barack Obama.
(2) In Columbia, SC Bill Clinton said: "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."
This was in response to a question from ABC News' David Wright about it taking "two Clintons to beat" Obama. Jackson's name had not been mentioned.
(3) The photo of Obama in traditional Kenyan attire. There is a strong suspicion that this came from the Clinton campaign.
(4) Staunch Clinton supporter and former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro said:
“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any colour, he would not be this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in this concept.”
Clearly the bubble has burst.
There are a number of reasons for the slow down:
(1) The 2% rise in EU interest rates is a contributory factor.
(2) Uncertainty on the Stamp Duty issue contributed to the instability.
(3) Excessive house price inflation has priced houses out of the reach of many in the middle class.
(4) The Government tax takes is too high.
(5) The 5% general inflation rate has weakened purchasing power.
(6) Up to 200,000 houses remain unsold.
A major reduction in EU interest rates will not be sufficient to return the house building sector to health. Further reductions in VAT and Stamp Duty are required. The 200,000 overhang in unsold houses must be substantially cleared. A further substantial reduction in house prices is required. General inflation must fall substantially.
The implications for Government finances are quite severe. There was an Exchequer surplus of €2.3 billion in 2006. A deficit of €4.9 billion is projected for this year.
Tax receipts for January and February are 684 million lower than for the corresponding period in 2007 . VAT receipts for January and February are 7.3% lower than anticipated whilst Stamp Duty receipts are down 44% on the first two months of 2007. The unemployment hate has risen to 5.2%. A rocky road lies ahead for the economy.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Toby Harnden, who used to be the Telegraph's Ireland correspondent:
“Hillary Clinton had no direct role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland and is a "wee bit silly" for exaggerating the part she played, according to Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province. "I don’t know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill [Clinton] going around," he said. Her recent statements about being deeply involved were merely "the sort of thing people put in their canvassing leaflets" during elections. "She visited when things were happening, saw what was going on, she can certainly say it was part of her experience. I don’t want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player." Trimble is speaking from a Unionist perspective.
Tim Pat Coogan, an Irish historian who writes from a republican perspective on Northern Ireland, said that the first lady did not play a decisive role in negotiations to resolve the conflict."It was a nice thing to see her there, with the women's groups. It helped, I suppose," Coogan said. "But it was ancillary to the main thing. It was part of the stage effects, the optics.
In short Hillary met with cross community groups but took no part in the peace negotiations. Hillary had no central role in the peace process. Clinton has peddled myths in relation to her alleged foreign policy experience for far too long. Waltermitty springs to mind.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
The Irish strategy of breaking up the flow of the play and slowing down the game was coming apart as half time approached. Ireland made little effort to play creative rugby. Ronan O’Gara rarely passed the ball preferring instead to resort to the boot. This reflected Eddie O’Sullivan’s thinking that it was best to ensure that Wales would not play free flowing rugby Wales would have been on level terms at half time were it not for the idiocy of Mike Phillips who used the knee on Marcus Horan. The penalty awarded to Wales under the Irish posts was reversed and Phillips received the yellow card.
In the second half Wales weathered the loss of Phillips. The Welsh forwards kept possession of the ball and ran the clock down until Phillips returned. Wales controlled the ball for most of the second half and went through the phases. The Welsh front five was more than a match for Ireland. A fine try by Shane Williams was the decisive score. Welsh indiscipline could have been costly. Martyn Williams was sin binned for a trip. Warren Gatland will undoubtedly administer a tongue lashing to Phillips and Martyn Williams. In the last five minutes the Welsh forwards retained complete possession of the ball and snuffed out all possibility of a late Irish try.
For Wales Alun Wyn Jones , Shane Williams, Ryan Jones and Gavin Henson starred. For Ireland Rob Kearney, Eoin Reddan, Paul O’Connell and Shane Horgan were best.
It is time for Eddie O’Sullivan to jettison the negative approach. Ireland had sufficient class players to defeat Wales today. The conservative and spoiling approach is unworthy of skilful players and cost Ireland the game. Spoiling tactics have their place in any game but creativity is a sine qua non. The ham string injury to Brian O’Driscoll rules him out for the game against England at Twickenham. Hopefully Geordan Murphy and Girvan Dempsey will return. It is time for Eddie O’Sullivan to take risks.
Ireland: Pens: O'Gara 4
Wales: Try: S.Williams
Pens: S.Jones 2
Friday, March 7, 2008
Both Democratic candidates are embarked on a policy of buying tax payers with their own money.
Their plans can be brought to fruition only by hikes in direct and indirect taxation. Stealth taxation will also fund some of the promises. Clinton and Obama pay lip service to Middle Class concerns but continue to churn out the promises and proposals, which will squeeze the life blood out of tax payers. There is a tendency in some conservative circles to assume that Clinton is somewhat less threatening than Obama. Nothing could be further from the truth. Policy differences between both are miniscule. Both are Socialists who favour more state involvement, quangos and bureaucracy. Tax Payers will fund their folly. A Democratic President and a Democratic controlled Congress is an appalling vista for tax-payers.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Meanwhile a halfhearted effort is made to ensure that Brazil adheres to the same conditions imposed on EU farmers. Recently the EU introduced a ban on imports of Brazilian beef on the basis of lack of proper traceability and other irregularities in beef production methods. This was for the optics and was a cynical ploy to give the impression that the EU was really serious about the irregularities in beef production. No sooner was the ban introduced than it was dropped.
The EU appears to have an agenda to wipe out beef and poultry industries in member states to ensure increased access to Brazilian markets for industry. As a quid pro quo Brazil can flood the EU market with cheap meat produced to low standards. To hell with health risks for the consumer. To hell with food security. It is time to remove Mandelson.
The EU is prepared to import beef from Amazonia. It has no scruples about the burning of the rainforests to facilitate an increase in Brazilian beef production. The resulting huge increase in CO2 from the burnings is of no concern to Mandelson. Has he never heard of the Greenhouse Effect? What hypocrisy.
Today FG spokesman Michael Creed issued the following press release. It is highly apposite:
During Dáil Statements on the WTO today (Thursday), Fine Gael Agriculture Spokesperson, Michael Creed TD, called on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture to rein in EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, through establishing a special intergovernmental conference if necessary.
"There is a growing frustration at the fact Mr. Mandelson is acting significantly beyond his negotiating brief from the Commission. He should not be allowed to sell out the interests of European agriculture, and Irish beef producers in particular, to get a deal. It is the responsibility of the Taoiseach and the Minister to rein in Mr. Mandelson. If necessary let us have a special intergovernmental conference where a telling message can be sent to the EU Trade Commissioner.
"The issue of Brazilian beef, which is now available here again, arises in this context. If Brazilians want access to European markets then, in the context of the WTO, let us have non-trade issues on the agenda, such as animal health, that will ensure their products are produced to the standard European consumers expect and European producers have to meet.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Critically for Obama, Clinton won two thirds of the Hispanic vote in Texas. Hispanics made up approximately one third of the Texas Democratic primary electorate. She also won the support of the majority of women and poor voters. Elderly voters backed Clinton strongly.
Men favoured Obama. He also scored strongly among African American voters and young voters.
Because of Clinton’s powerful links with Hispanic voters it was always likely that she would win Texas. Clinton's negative campaigning in recent days on the stump and expertly targeted TV ads damaged Obama by homing in on his lack of experience. In addition there is evidence that Republicans voted in sizeable numbers for Clinton in the belief that she is the weaker of the two.
Reports on statements allegedly made by Obama’s senior economic Austan Goolsbee to Canadian officials- that the Illinois senator's tough talk on NAFTA was just political rhetoric- cost Obama dearly in Ohio. The Clinton campaign took full advantage of the faux pas. Of course it was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA in 1993 and spoke glowingly about the prospects of developing trade between the US Mexico and Canada. In 1994 he signed the global trade agreement that created the WTO. This has damaged manufacturing in the US and was manna from heaven for the Chinese. Hillary Clinton certainly did not speak out against NAFTA in 1993. She is now cynically manipulating the voters of Ohio and the US as a whole. Of course jobs have been lost in Ohio and throughout the country because of NAFTA. However labour costs, increased mechanisation and competition from China are other major causative factors. Union leaders in the US who seriously believe that Clinton will row back on Free Trade agreements, are whistling a past the dark.
Clinton won Ohio by 54-44 and Texas by 51-47. She has also overtaken Obama in some national polls. However Obama has a slight delegate lead. Obama has c1515 and Clinton has c1424. Obama leads in the popular vote. But Clinton must be favoured to win Pennsylvania. Of course Obama will win North Carolina. It may all come down to the super delegates at the convention. In addition the Michigan/Florida fiasco has not been iron out. It is highly unlikely that only 48 states will choose the Democratic Party nominee. There is now potential for a messy and bloody convention. Just imagine the headlines "Democrats at war". If Obama is deprived of the nomination by super delegates African Americans may leave the Democratic Party in droves. African Americans will have been humiliated.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
He helped to establish the Free Presbyterian Church in the 1950s. In 1966 he established the Protestant Telegraph, which was used as a vehicle to attack Catholicism. As far as Paisley was concerned the Pope was the Anti-Christ.
He strongly opposed ecumenism. Nevertheless he is an enigma. Whilst he professes a hatred of Catholicism he has worked assiduously in his constituency for individual Catholics. A small number of Catholics vote for him on the basis that he has done a good turn.
He has come a long way since the late 1960s when he first came to political prominence. He bitterly opposed efforts by Terence O’Neill Prime Minister of Northern Ireland to improve relations with the South and to improve the lot of Catholics in the north. “O’Neill must go” was one of Paisley’s favourite catch -cries.
In 1971 he established the DUP
He bitterly opposed the Sunningdale Agreement signed by Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave and British Prime Minister Edward Heath. This introduced power sharing in the North. Three parties participated: Ulster Unionist Party, SDLP and Alliance. The Ulster Unionist leader Brian Faulkner was a hate figure for Paisleyites.
Paisley supported the Ulster Workers Council strike, which brought down the power-sharing executive.
He attacked the Anglo Irish Agreement (1985) signed by Taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald and Margaret Thatcher. Peter Barry the Minister for Foreign Affairs was singled out for particular attention by Paisley. However Barry had the toughness to take on Paisley. Paisley organised monster demonstrations against the Agreement.
The Anglo Irish Agreement broke the power of Unionism as it introduced a form of joint administration of the North by the Irish and British Governments. Unionists for the first time could be bypassed.
During the course of an address by Pope John Paul II to the European Parliament in 1988, Paisley interrupted the Pope's speech by shouting and holding up placards. In the 1990s many Unionists began to realise that the Anglo Irish Agreement could only be replaced by a power sharing government.
Paisley opposed the Belfast Agreement of 1998. Nevertheless it was approved by over 70% of the voters in Northern Ireland and by over 90% of voters in the Republic of Ireland. The DUP took two seats in the multi-party power-sharing executive.
During elections in 2003 Paisley and the DUP campaigned on the need for re-negotiation of the Belfast Agreement and became the largest Unionist Party. The DUP was now entitled to the position of First Minister whilst Sinn Féin was entitled to the position of Deputy First Minister. Paisley had achieved one of his main aims. He had smashed the UUP. He continued to refuse to accept Sinn Féin in Government, and the British Government maintained the suspensions of the institutions.
Gradually the DUP and Sinn Fein began to edge closer. In the October 2006 St Andrews Agreement, Paisley and the DUP agreed to new elections, and support for a new executive which would include Sinn Féin on condition that Sinn Féin would accept the PSNI.
Later in April, Paisley met in Dublin with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and publicly shook his hand, something Paisley had refused to do until there was peace in Northern Ireland.
On May 8th power was devolved, the Assembly met, and Paisley was elected as First Minister of Northern Ireland with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness as the Deputy First Minister.
This agreement has worked reasonably well. Amazingly opposites attracted. McGuinness and Paisley struck up a good relationship. However elements in the DUP were appalled at the closeness of the relationship . Some left the party. Chief among these was Jim Allister. He contested the Dromore by-election and severely dented the DUP vote. Transfers from MEP Allister helped the UUP to take the seat.
The UUP's stunning victory in the Dromore by-election will be remembered as a St Valentine's Day massacre for the DUP. It sent shock waves through the party and hastened Paisley’s announcement to depart.
The recent resignation of Ian Paisley (Jnr) as Junior Minister in controversial circumstances further damaged Paisley(Snr) who had been coming under increasing pressure to resign.
It has been said that all political careers end in failure. Paisley the rebel for so long the bete noire of the political establishment eventually succumbed to its attractions. This was his undoing. DUP hardliners for so long nourished on a diet of political bigotry by Paisley and reminiscent of Europe in the 1600s have been unable to accept the rapprochement. Ian Paisley has mellowed and performed well as First Minister. He is talented. Perhaps he regrets some of his antics in the 1970s and 1980s, which ensured that he remained on the periphery. A younger Paisley could have achieved much more.
Monday, March 3, 2008
This Obama 08 video emphasizes the mutual loathing between Clinton and Obama. Clinton comes across as shrill nasty and sarcastic. Here she commits a monumental error of judgement. Obama is much too syrupy. The Democratic campaign has become increasingly personal, as there are few policy differences between the suave Obama and the caustic Clinton. Both are left of centre politicians whose policies -if implemented -would lead to massive tax hikes.
Essentially there is little difference in the policy platforms of Clinton and Obama. Both favour greater state involvement. Obama's promises now total $800 billion. Both Clinton's and Obama's proposals on health -if implemented-would have frightening implications for the national finances. Neither candidate has spelled out details on the funding of these extravagant promises. Only one conclusion is possible. Both intend to raise taxes- directly and by stealth. God help the middle class.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Those saying they will vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty outnumber opponents by two to one, with 46% saying the will vote yes, 23% saying they will vote no and 31% undecided.
According to the Red C for the Sunday Business Post the state of the political parties has changed little since the last poll a month ago.
· Fianna Fáil 37% (+1%)
· Fine Gael 31% (-1%)
· Labour is at 10%
· Green Party 7%
· Sinn Féin 8% (-1%)
· PDs 2%.
· Independents and others 6% (+2%)
Looking at the 2007 General Election FF is down 4.6% whilst FG is up 3.7%. Labour is unchanged. The Greens are up 2.3%. Sinn Fein is up 1% and PDs are down 0.7%.
Statistically these changes in political party support-since the last poll- are insignificant and within the margin of error. FF appears to have halted the slide. FF politicians and media supporters have fought a strong rear guard action and have emphasized the necessity to tackle the current economic problems. This resonates with the electorate, which is Tribunal weary. In addition the increase in Green Party support is probably temporary. It is in all probability soft FF support which will return to the party in the course of any General Election campaign.
Some FG politicians have placed too great an emphasis on the Mahon Tribunal. FG has introduced a Private Members' motion on broadband in the Dail. The significance of Simon Coveney’s proposals was drowned out in a flood of political recriminations on Mahon. How many voters realise that FG has produced such a comprehensive policy? Similarly the import of the FG Private Members Motion on Autistic Children was soon obscured. An over emphasis on Mahon will not put bread and butter on the table. Voters have other priorities. Also if FG is to progress further Enda Kenny must place a greater emphasis on the economy with concise sharp questioning. In addition the opposition erred in pressurising Brian Cowen on Ahern’s travails. Why should the opposition attempt to bring the FF leadership issue to the boil. This only favours FF. Sensible oppositions allow governments to stew.
The Labour Party is hamstrung by the level of Sinn Fein support in working class areas of Dublin. Labour must attempt to take on Sinn Fein.