JOSEPH RATZINGER, BETTER known as Pope Benedict XVI, has said he never tried to cover up child sexual abuse by Catholic priests.In a letter to Italian author and mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi about his latest book, entitled Dear Pope, I Am Writing You, the emeritus pope (his new title) said of the “moral abuse of minors by priest” that he never tried to “hide these things”.“That the power of evil penetrated to such an extent in the inner world of faith is for us a suffering which, on the one hand, we have to endure, while, on the other, we must at the same time, do everything possible to ensure that such cases do not repeated,” he continued in the 11-page missive, excerpts of which were published in today’s La Repubblica in Rome.He also noted that sociological research has shown that the percentage of priests guilty of these crimes is no higher than that found in other similar professions but added that this was “in no way reassuring”.It is the first time since becoming the pontiff that Ratzinger has voiced a statement on the issue of child abuse.Victims groups have called for a full apology from the Vatican about the child sexual abuse scandals that have been uncovered in various countries around the world in recent decades.Pope Francis: We don’t need to talk about abortion, gay marriage and contraception ‘all the time’More: This nearly 30-year-old car is set to replace the Popemobile*
THE LATEST OPINION poll on the abolition of the Seanad shows that 64 per cent would be in favour of doing away with the upper house, with 36 per cent against — once ‘undecideds’ are excluded.However, if ‘don’t knows’ are counted, the figures break down as: 37 per cent in favour of abolition, 20 per cent for retention, and 32 per cent still to make up their minds.The Sunday Independent/Millward Brown survey was carried out between the 13th and 25th of September among a sample of just under a thousand voters.One in ten people said they would not vote in the referendum on 4 October.Read: Taoiseach: Micheál Martin is looking for notice and an opportunity >
A SPECIALLY-COMMISSIONED stamp has been unveiled by An Post to mark the golden anniversary of children’s charity Barnardos.The 55c postage stamp was launched by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte and Fergus Finlay yesterday afternoon at the GPO.Finlay said the organisation feels “very honoured” that the Government and An Post has marked its contribution to Irish society “in such a wonderful way”.“We hope the stamp will spread a message of hope to all who see it and that it might prompt families in need to reach out for our help,” he added.“Looking back on 50 years, it is humbling to realise that an organisation like Barnardos has made a difference to the lives of more than 100,000 children in Ireland. Many people have been part of the Barnardos journey – to all those who have volunteered their skills and time, who have given whatever they could afford to support our work and most importantly to the children and families who have opened their doors to allow us to make that difference, thank you.”An Post’s Donal Connell said the stamp will appear “all over the world” as it travels on cards, letters packages and takes its place in philatelic collections.Designed by Zinc Design, the 55 cent stamp features colourful elements from the paintings of young children attending some of Barnardos 42 project centres.
– First published 22.01adidas had this clever ad ready to go when Andy Murray won Sports PersonalityLiverpool and Suarez net one lucky punter a massive £30,000 Updated 22.25WIMBLEDON CHAMPION ANDY Murray has been named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2013.British and Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny was second with record-breaking jockey AP McCoy third at the end-of-year awards bash.Murray was hotly-tipped to win the prize following his Wimbledon success where he became the first Briton to win the men’s singles title since Fred Perry in 1936.The Scot is the fourth tennis player to win in the award’s 60-year history, joining Ann Jones, Virginia Wade and Greg Rusedski.“No matter how excited I try to sounds my voice always sounds boring,” Murray joked as he collected the award via video link from his training base in Florida.That’s just my voice, I’m sorry! I’m very excited right now! Thank you very much everyone.The night’s other big winners were the Lions who were named Team of the Year following their series win in Australia while Warren Gatland collected the Coach of the Year Award.Formula 1 champion Seabastian Vettel was named Overseas Personality of the Year and former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson was presented with the Diamond Award.Tributes were also paid to Anne Williams, the tireless Hillsborough Justice campaigner who died earlier this year following a battle with cancer.Williams’ daughter Sara, son Michael and brother Danny collected the Helen Rollason Award on her behalf.BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award winners Sports Personality of the Year: Andy MurrayCoach of the Year: Warren GatlandTeam of the Year: British and Irish LionsOverseas Personality: Sebastian VettelHelen Rollason Award: Anne WilliamsDiamond Award: Alex FergusonYoung Sports Personality: Amber HillUnsung Hero Award: Joe and Maggie Forber
How to delete a PlayStation 4 user account, if you’ve run out of space for accounts Stocks finished mixed as the Fed remains divided over further rate cuts Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens left a message from beyond the grave touting his Twitter rivalry with Drake and his favorite life lessons Similar efforts have been made in the past. Michael Hart’s Project Gutenberg is the world’s oldest digital library, archiving public domain writings since 1971.Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive not only aims to catalogue all books, but all web content as well.IBM’s Watson supercomputer famously beat its human opponents in an exhibition match of Jeopardy due to its ability to process natural language and access huge stores of data taken from the Internet and libraries alike.Above is a still frame from the only known video footage (six seconds long) of an actual Google book scanning setup. Famed futurist and current Google employee Ray Kurzweil is acknowledged as the inventor of OCR, or optical character recognition, which is the technology that enables a computer to convert a scanned document into digital text.Advanced book scanning setups use professional cameras and lighting to capture incredibly high quality images before running them through OCR software and uploading them to the Internet.Proponents of Google Books love it for many reasons, not only for the instant access to any book, but for the fact that books can essentially become immortal when scanned and stored digitally. No more lost books due to floods or fires.OppositionBut the opponents of the project want to be fairly compensated for their work. The Authors Guild sprang for legal action.Kevin Kelly of Wired sees it as perfectly legal and useful. He said that all ideas are built on top of other ideas, so no one can “own” an idea.Jean-Noël Jeanneney, former director of the National Library of France, found the idea appalling. He wants to protect culture and artists’ rights.There was, of course, a court case to address the matter. It was resolved last month when Judge Denny Chin ruled that digitizing books was transformative enough that it was fair use.We suspect paper books aren’t going anywhere anytime, and with Google’s book scanning operation moving forward with the law’s blessing, e-books are here to stay.Watch the trailer for the movie:(Video: polarstarfilms/YouTube)- Declan Love, all images screenshots from Google and the World Brain.Read: Google buys military robotics firm Boston Dynamics>Read: Google lets users create their own Street View locations> I tried KFC’s new fried-chicken-and-doughnut sandwich, and it’s a near-perfect answer to the craze over the sold-out Popeyes sandwich (YUM) IT’S EASY TO WRITE off books as yesterday’s medium. They’re not searchable, they take up space, it’s ‘dead tree media’.But books are such a boon to civilisation that Google kicked off “Project Ocean” in 2004. It came to be known as Google Books, an effort to digitalise and catalogue every book and make them freely available online.It’s a polarising idea. Researchers and academics love the promise of instant access to any printed material they could ever want, but copyright holders and the Authors Guild were far from pleased. Not only were they not being compensated for their work, but Google launched the project without so much as seeking permission from them.One of Google’s core missions is to organise the world’s information, and with books being the valuable storehouses of data that they have been for millennia, it is only obvious that the company would seek to establish a universal library of the world’s knowledge.A documentary titled ‘Google and the World Brain‘ takes a detailed look at this ambitious undertaking, interviewing people who love and loathe it alike. For all the simplicity of ink and paper, the movie shows us that the complicated rabbit hole of intellectual property law runs far deeper than you’d think.Here’s the story of Google Books…The beginningBooks have carried the world’s knowledge for millennia.Famed sci-fi author HG Wells one hypothesized “a new, free, synthetic, authoritative, permanent ‘World Encyclopedia’ that could help world citizens make the bes use of universal information.”He wrote a book about the idea called ‘The World Brain’ in which he said something like this would, at least in part, require gethering as many “old fashioned” bookes as possible to squeeze out all the information contained in them.But there are a lot of books out there and such an undertaking would require a lot of time and money.GoogleImage: Google’s Sergey Brin.Enter Google, a company with the resouces and commitment to information organisation to make such things come to light.At a cost estimated between $30 and $100 per book, the company began digitising books by coordinating with libraries around the world to borrow as many books as possible, copyrighted and uncopyrighted alike.Robert Darnton of the Harvard University Library was happy to let the company digitize the library’s public domain books. Other libraries offered up copyrighted books as well. Google even scanned old texts from a monastery in Spain.
It is now hoped that scientists can build on these findings to create the best possible supports to help women remain on the therapy, while reducing the impact on their daily lives of the hormones.Twin with breast cancer donates skin and fat tissue to sister who also has cancer>Column: ‘I lost my breast to cancer in my 20s, but I’m now expecting my first child’> ORAL HORMONE THERAPY following an incidence of breast cancer is even more important than previously thought, according to an Irish medical study.Researchers at Trinity College Dublin found that women who stopped taking the therapy before the prescribed end date are almost three times as likely to see a recurrence of the cancer than those women who took the whole course.The oral hormone therapy is generally prescribed long-term – for a period of roughly five years – after initial treatment. Women have reported some side effects including joint pain and hot flushes and it was found in a previous TCD study that one-third of women do not persist with the medication for the whole five years.Dr Ian Barron of the pharmacoepidemiology department in TCD analysed long-term outcomes for different groups, with the help of funding from the Health Research Board. He found that there was a 2.88-fold increase in cancer returning for women who did not take the oral hormones as prescribed.Prof Kathleen Bennett of TCD said: The benefits of taking the drugs clearly outweigh the risk of not taking them, in spite of the unpleasant side effects.The women who were non-persistent increased their risk of recurrence threefold, while taking the hormone therapy for the five years reduced the risk of death by a quarter.
Gerrard presents flowers to the Hillsborough Family Support Group in 2012. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Archive/Press Association ImagesLIVERPOOL CAPTAIN STEVEN Gerrard has donated £96,000 out of his own pocket to the Hillsborough Family Support Group.The legendary Reds midfielder, who has spent his entire career at the Premier League club, made the contribution ahead of tomorrow’s Merseyside derby with city rivals Everton at Anfield.“I just think I’m in a position to do it,” the Liverpool Echo quotes Gerrard as saying.“I think it’s a nice gesture and also with the connection I’ve got to Hillsborough, with my own family, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while.I think the timing’s right and having spoken to the club I’ve decided to do it now.”The England veteran also commended Everton for the support shown ever since the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which saw 96 supporters die during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.“I think their show of support has been there since the tragedy happened,” Gerrard added.“But alongside the gesture I am making, I and every other Liverpool fan can only thank the Evertonians for their support.”Big names among 17 candidates picked to do UEFA Pro Licence courseArsenal announce record kit sponsorship deal with Puma
IN BUDGET 2012 the government removed the quota system for the provision of guidance counselling in our schools. Prior to these changes, each school got one or more counsellors based on the numbers of young people in each school; there were guaranteed, specific hours for guidance counselling. For instance, 300 plus students equalled about 11 hours, plus 4oo was equalled 17 hours and so on. This time was guaranteed and ring-fenced, so effectively what happened was schools were told that guidance had to be managed by schools from within their standard teacher allocations.Before the budgetary axe fell, every school had a provision of guidance counsellor hours, but now the hours have been struck down significantly. There is no doubt that there has been significant job losses, too, as a result of decisions made. Many of the part-time hours which would have been in the smaller schools are completely gone.Holistic counselling modelWe did a survey and found there has been a 21 per cent reduction nationwide in guidance counsellor hours, but the more interesting figures relate to the amount of one-to-one time: the inter-personal time with counsellors has been reduced by 51 per cent. That is a huge amount.Guidance counsellors are important. There can be a lot problems facing young people today and often a teacher may express their concern about a student to the guidance counsellor, who can follow it up and deal with it in a professional and caring way. The benefit of the model was that it was a holistic one – meaning that students could present themselves to the guidance counsellor for a whole host of different reasons.It may occur that there are underlying issues that the counsellor can then begin to tackle with the young person. It is confidential and anonymous, so no one needed to know why you were there. There was no stigma attached with going to visit the counsellor, because you could be visiting about any matter – it could just be that you need help with study skills or a certain a subject.Continuity of careStudents can often present themselves with a mundane issue but, upon exploration of the matter, counsellors may find that it relates much more to a social or personal issue, like problems at home. Many of the problems that young people face are not being picked up on because of the cut backs and the shortfall in resources. The problems are then presenting themselves later on when they have become a lot more serious. Often they have to be referred to out of school resources at that point. We should be dealing with the issues early on, so the resources need to be there to do so. Guidance counsellors can provide a continuity of care that the support services of outside agencies cannot.The Action Plan on Bullying and the Mental Health Guidelines were launched this month. However, they seem to be at odds with what they are doing with guidance counsellors. They are very laudable, but they are totally aspirational as the schools do not have the resources to implement them. The cut-backs are seriously threatening the schools capacity to provide services to children. It is one thing to provide these laudable documents, but if you are not going to provide the resources then it does seem to be a bit of window-dressing unfortunately.A lot of the outlines in mental health promotion documents were already in place in schools but the schools have been denied the necessary resources to implement these strategies. There has been a reform of the junior cycle, promotion of numeracy and literacy, mental health initiatives and anti-bullying programmes — but to actually get schools to buy into all of that at a time when they are being denied resources to implement them, seems to me to be counter-productive. The mental health initiative mentions the importance of counselling and especially one-to-one counselling, but this is at odds with their cutbacks.The bottom line is students are sufferingIf you want to bring about change you have to get people to buy into it. If you are landing more work on these people, resentment builds. There is also still an expectation from some parents that the same service should be provided. However, guidance counsellors are being made to do other work and teach other classes, while still trying their best to provide a quality service and this is having an impact on their health also. If they are not in good health or they feel stretched, how can we expect them to deliver a quality service to the young people in this country.Personal counselling needs to be ring-fenced. I can sympathise with school management – they are placed under huge stresses and strains. While the mental health guidelines are a huge step forward and are welcomed, the bottom line is that students are suffering. We should be doing as much as we can — and utilising the resources we can — to see changes are made.Gerry Flynn is the President of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors. Read: Cutbacks reduce one-to-one guidance counselling by 50% – study>Column: Why we need career guidance counsellors – and why all the stereotypes are wrong>
IT’S HARD TO get something right, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve been rewriting the intro to this short post for the last hour and a half.So think about what it would be like with an entire movie.Welcome to the world of Shit Rough Drafts: imagining our modern classics, one rubbish first draft at a time. Here’s their take on some Oscar winners:
Updated 11pmWITH THE COUNTRY set to go to the polls today, we thought we would catch up with an oft-forgotten constituency – children.The boys of St Laurence O’Toole’s CBS shared their opinions on what is happening today, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny a remarkably popular figure.Although, with Love/Hate filming nearby, the Taoiseach is not the most pressing thing on their minds.Here, they tell us that they believe politicians do good, work hard, make a lot of money, but don’t attract girls. Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTubeThe school keep an excellent blog here.With thanks to the teachers and parents of St Laurence O’Toole’s. Questions by Sinead O’Carroll, camera: Paul Hosford.- First published 2pmRead: ‘I’m here to see if reform is actually achievable’ (videos)
A DUBLIN COURT reserved judgement on a sentence appeal by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in its case against businessman Anthony Lyons who has been found guilty of a sexual assault.A three-judge panel in the Court of Criminal Appeal today heard from both sides following a ruling that the initial sentence handed down for the 2010 attack on Griffth Avenue in Dublin was unduly lenient.The aviation broker had already been found guilty of the offence and sentenced to six years. However, the presiding judge suspended five-and-a-half years of the term and ordered Lyons to pay the 27-year-old victim €75,000 in compensation.Last November, the Director of Public Prosecutions was successful in its appeal against the leniency of the sentence. The Court of Criminal Appeal cited an “error in principle” in its ruling.During today’s hearing, the DPP said it did not take issue with the sentence but with “the undue weight the judge put on mitigating factors” such as compensation and remorse.Gravity of offenceSenior Counsel Caroline Biggs, representing the DPP told the court the it is their submission that the trial judge who sentenced Lyons “lost sight of the gravity of the offence and place undue weight” on the compensations aspect of the case.Justice John Murray, who is leading the Court of Criminal Appeal, said that the trial judge had a “duty” to consider compensation in the case, “not as a measurement – by any means – but in addition, to provide something to the victim”.Judge Murray said that sentencing should be a deterrent for the accused of a crime and also for society. He said:Women should be able to walk the streets of Dublin.Senior Counsel for Lyons, Patrick Gageby disagreed that the sentencing was unduly lenient stating that the conviction was “public condemnation”.He said that the crime was a “unique” piece of criminal activity taking place in Lyons “51st year” by a man who was, as he described, “of completely good character and substance”.Gageby said that many of his friends and families made statements to this effect, he said, adding that Lyons has no previous convictions.LenientGageby acknowledged that the 6 month custodial term was lenient, but said the conviction, having to notify the police when he is travelling, being on the sexual offenders register, as well as the “enormous loss of reputation” has impacted on Lyons.Gageby said he would make the same statement had the accused been an unemployed man.“The consequence of sentencing has had a big affect on the claimant,” Gageby said.He added that the media coverage of the trial had a profound impact on Lyons and his family and that he could no longer work in the country.“My client will never be forgotten. He will always be notorious,” said Gageby.Outlining “the totality of hardship” Gageby cited incidents of harassment of his client and family, stating that his business had suffered and that he had been asked to leave his golf club.He said the “sustained coverage” had forced him to move to the UK where he now faces a “lifetime of supervision” by the British police, he said.Going through a large portfolio of media articles, the defense said Lyons was branded a “sex beast” and put on the front pages with the same cohort as convicted rapist Larry Murphy.Judge Murray said this did much to misrepresent what Lyons was convicted for, which was sexual assault which included digital penetration of his victim.However, he did say that the offence committed against the victim was “the ultimate attack on human dignity”.The Court of Criminal Appeal reserved its judgment to a later date.During the initial trial, Lyons admitted to the attack but argued that a combination medication and alcohol were causal factors.Read: Appeal court finds Anthony Lyons sentence too lenient >Read: ‘Unusual sentence’ for sex offender raises doubts about system’s fairness >
MCDONALD’S HAS RELEASED its highest calorie item ever in Japan: the Mega Potato.The Mega Potato, which combines the contents of two large fries in one large container, contains 1,142 calories, the Consumerist reported, citing Japan Today.By comparison, a Big Mac contains 550 calories and a quarter pounder with bacon and cheese contains 600.The Mega Potato will hit Japanese restaurants nationwide this week, according to the site.“The Mega Potato will set you back 490 yen (around €3.74) and also cost you a large chunk of your dignity and possibly a few years of your life,” Japan Today wrote.McDonald’s latest exercise in caloric excess in Japan is in stark contrast to what its attempting in the US and in Europe.The company has recently added a slew of healthy offerings, including a chicken McWrap to compete with sandwich chains and draw in calorie-conscious millennials.McDonald’s also released the Egg White Delight and added more smoothie flavors with fresh fruit in the US.Read: 12 sandwiches that will change your concept of ‘sandwich’ forever >Read: 16 of the cleverest ads from around the world > The US is building a case against Iran in the attacks on Saudi Arabia, but Trump is in no rush to act SpaceX is trying to buy a hamlet inside its Texas rocket-launch site because it ‘did not anticipate’ there’d be any ‘significant disruption’ to residents who live there A car plowed through the main hall of Trump Plaza in New Rochelle, New York 16-year-old Greta Thunberg met with Obama and chided senators, saying they’re not trying hard enough to fight climate change
Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety) Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s) Console 1800 201 890 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement) A REPORT ON mental health services in Ireland has been branded as a “damning indictment” of Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch’s management of the field.Speaking this evening, the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said the findings of the Mental Health Commission’s annual report point towards the need for a review of the government’s mental health roadmap, Vision for Change.Published in 2006, this outlined a range of recommendations to be introduced as part of the reform of services.The commission warned that improvements in recent years are in danger of “coming to a standstill”.PNA general secretary Des Kavanagh said the roadmap is “being used a fig leaf to hide under-resourcing and under-staffing of services”.He described the findings outlined today, such as ‘a lack of investment, recruitment moratoriums, and that children are still being placed in adult psychiatric units’, as “alarming”.Kavanagh also criticised the minister’s response to concerns raised by clinicians over the high suicide rates in Carlow and South Tipperary.“‘The Minister’s response to the very worrying situation that has emerged in Carlow /South Tipperary is extremely disappointing and fails to recognise and respect the genuine concerns of nurses and doctors on the frontline,” he said in a statement this evening, and accused her of “ignoring the facts”.Helplines: Samaritans 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email email@example.com – (suicide, self-harm, bereavement) Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19) Read: Almost half of all mental health care centres still use physical restraint >
FIVE WHALES HAVE died today in County Donegal after a pod of 13 pilot whales got stranded on a beach in Falcarragh.Scores of locals tried to guide the whales into deep water as the tide came in.The remaining whales that were freed have become stranded again this evening further along the coast. Source: @BarryWhyte85 Source: Barry Whyte/Twitter Dozens gathering around the dead whales on beach in Falcarragh. Children crying pic.twitter.com/Fy2Wr64pcU— Barry Whyte (@BarryWhyte85) July 7, 2014 The Irish Coastguard told TheJournal.ie that a crew and the gardaí are at the scene.“We are there to ensure that people do not put themselves at risk. A lot of people have been heading down to the beach to try and help,” said a spokesperson.He said that they had spoken to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, who are also at the scene, for advice. Source: Screengrab/RTE News“Very little can be done. It is a very sad thing that often happens to pilot whales,” he said, adding that they were told that trying to manoeuvre them might cause more stress to the whales.RTÉ Six One News reported that the local authority have said this evening that nothing more can be done and they simply have to let nature take its course.This is the thirteenth stranding of whales in Donegal this year.Read: Your baby dolphin making the most of the Wexford winter sunshine pics of the day>Read: Awe-inspiring footage of huge whale and dolphin ‘stampede’ off California>
MINISTER FRANCES FITZGERALD has this week spoken out about the need for an Independent Garda Authority and stronger oversight mechanism for the Garda Siochana through a reinforced Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). Yet because of the approach taken by successive governments, who have displayed a striking reluctance to cede the necessary control, we have precious few truly independent oversight and accountability institutions in Ireland on which to model any changes.Working with independent human rights institutions around the world I have seen that no matter what the type of country, governments are commonly and routinely reluctant to give oversight and accountability real independence. Ireland is clearly no exception. Yet independence can be assured in part through statutorily entrenched protections. It is these types of protections that must be incorporated into all of our reformed or new oversight and accountability institutions, including those for the Gardai.Protecting independenceIndependence means that a public body is unrestrained in carrying out its duties. In order to achieve this, independence needs to be built into the structure of the institution to protect it from being subject to potential whims of politicians or Government Departments. Independence can be ensured through five aspects of any institution: powers, resources, accountability, representation and transparency. When any reform or new body is proposed for oversight and accountability, be it short term or permanent, we should check it against these five factors.Powers – The institution must have the requisite mandate and powers, clearly set out in legislation, and not by regulations, to do the job for which it is established. These powers must be freely exercised without constraint from political forces or the requirement of additional political sanction to use its powers.Human and Financial Resources – Bodies must be given enough resources to fully undertake their functions, including the hiring of its own skilled staff. Staffing is key for oversight bodies in particular; staff must be hired directly and independently and have the requisite specialised skills. Secondment should be an absolute and limited exception. Bodies must, of course, be publicly accountable for the use of any money, but their resources must also be protected from political whims. Here the Oireachtas can play an important role in overseeing the allocation and the utilisation of the resources of independent oversight bodies.Accountability – To be independent, an institution must be fully and completely separated from the Department that has responsibility for the delivery of the services it oversees. The body could be answerable to the Oireachtas, in particular through the Committee system, in order to be free from executive influence. There seems to have been particular reluctance to taking this approach in Ireland.Representation – Bodies need to be representative of the diversity of the population. This should be done both through appointments and a commitment to consultation with the community. A core feature of independence in representation is that appointments to these bodies must not be political, but made through an open and democratic process, with security of tenure to avoid the possibility of removal for political reasons. This has also been lacking in relation to many boards and bodies in Ireland, and while there are excellent and independent individuals on boards of oversight and accountability bodies, it is a process that can be too easily misused.Transparency – All bodies must be transparent in their operations and accessible to the public in undertaking their functions. There should be a presumption of publication and of openness, and the Oireachtas must play its part in receiving and debating the reports of independent oversight bodies.Any new or reformed Garda authority and Ombudsman Commission will require these features in order to operate properly.Political commitmentThese five elements can go a long way towards improving oversight and accountability in Ireland; they have been tried and tested in relation to independent human rights institutions, data protection and regulatory bodies around the world. But a crucial additional factor is political commitment to implementing the recommendations oversight and accountability bodies make. Institutions that are established without a corresponding commitment to following their recommendations risk ‘toothlessness’. There must be a political commitment, mirrored in Government Departments, to cede control to properly established oversight and accountability bodies.Events this year have highlighted again the need for oversight and accountability mechanisms that are truly independent, and not merely created as a veneer. But we have been here before; reviews and inquiries in response to a crisis, and the promise of new accountability and oversight bodies. Following the Morris Tribunal 10 years ago we were promised ‘independent’ oversight and accountability bodies. The Garda Management Board was never established. GSOC was hampered from the outset and given limited powers. The Garda Inspectorate was restricted in its operation by obligations to the Minister of the day.It is positive to hear a Minister for Justice speak of the need for a focus on independence and oversight, hopefully her words will be followed by the necessary actions and the components of independence will be clearly defined and firmly entrenched in the new bodies, so that we can have the institutions we need and avoid being here again in ten years time.Kirsten Roberts is a doctoral researcher at The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London and co-investigator on the Project on Effective Parliamentary Oversight of Human Rights. From 2008-2013 she was Acting Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Research, Policy and Promotion at the Irish Human Rights Commission. She has been a visiting researcher at Harvard Law School and has worked for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Read: Michael McDowell doesn’t think much of the government’s plans to reform the guardsRead: Frances Fitzgerald sets up full inquiry and an independent Garda authority
But it’s too early to say yet by how much.A memo was presented to Cabinet this morning, outlining the Government’s approach to Budget 2015.“The over-arching target is to get the deficit below three per cent and we’re on track to do that,” Noonan said.Last year’s Budget was built on a deficit of 4.8 per cent — and the way things are going after six months of the year has gone by, we’ll beat that target so we should be able to get under 3 per cent as planned.Howlin added that the Government would “certainly” not have to make “an adjustment of a €2 billion scale that was forecast in last year’s budget”.“The economy has grown. The tax revenue has increased. The number of unemployed has fallen,” the Public Expenditure Minister said.“So these are all good auguries. They’re assistances.”Originally posted 3:00pmMary Coughlan: A lot of people would like me to go back into politics – but I’m not sure Left Alliance? Independent TDs deny that they’re about to form a new political party MICHAEL NOONAN AND Brendan Howlin were sending positive signals that October’s Budget may not be as harsh as initially feared as they headed in to a Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings this morning.“In April, when we were projecting the adjustments necessary, we thought that it would be necessary to increase tax and cut expenditure by €2 billion,” the Finance Minister told reporters.“We’ll get under three per cent now by making less cutbacks, less tax increases,” Noonan said, adding…
Google’s Android had a good third quarter. A really, really good third quarter. According to numbers from research firm Canalys, handsets running Google’s open OS comprised 44 percent of smartphones shipped in the US that quarter.Apple grabbed the (distant) number two spot, at 26.2. RIM was close behind at 24.2. Microsoft, meanwhile, was in fourth at 3 percent of the market.Android increased its market share by an impressive 11 percent over the previous quarter–Apple, meanwhile, only managed to increase by one percent. The smartphone market increased a full 95 percent worldwide, compared to the same quarter a year ago, according to the firm’s numbers.AdChoices广告
Who is 2010’s tech person of the year? Is it Mark Zuckerberg, the world’s youngest billionaire, who helped transform Facebook into a global juggernaut, donated absurd amounts of money to charity, and was the basis for the year’s most critically acclaimed film?What about Steve Jobs, who turned the tech world on its head yet again with the introduction of the iPad, which kickstarted the consumer tablet market?Maybe it’s Meg Whitman, or Carly Fiorina, who both parlayed CEO jobs at prominent tech companies into much-publicized bids for office in California.I would like to throw my support behind another candidate–that’s right, Justin Bieber (OMG, et al). The 16-year-old Canadian pop singer earned a top spot in tech headlines this year, thanks in no small part a seemingly permanent spot atop Twitter’s trending topics.Bieber made a name for himself after his young mother began uploading videos of her son performing song covers. He quickly built up a legion of absurdly loyal–and intense–fans who have grown up on social networking. As various social networks reveal their year-end lists of hot topics, the point is made all the more clear: 2010 was the year of the Bieber. After the jump, check a round up of our Bieber coverage from 2010.March 26: Bieber’s Manager Arrested for Not TweetingManager Scott “Scooter” Braun is arrested on criminal nuisance and reckless endangerment charges after a canceled Bieber appearance leads to a crowd nightmare. According to police, Braun failed to alert the fanbase via Twitter.April 1: Funny or Die Becomes Bieber or DieComedy site Funny or Die teams up with the teen star for April Fool’s. Bieber recreates a number of popular viral videos like “David after the Dentist” as only he can.May 18: Anti-Bieber Firefox Plug-inPeople are already feeling the effects of Bieber-overload by May, so a company called Free Art and Technology introduces a Firefox plug-in with the creepy name “Shaved Bieber,” which blocks all mention of the pop star within the browser.July 1: 4Chan’s Bieber North Korea PrankBieber posts an online poll asking fans where he should go next on his tour. 4Chan steps in, attempting to get Bieber to make a stop in North Korea. 4Chan, incidentally, also managed to get the phrase “Justin Bieber Syphillis.”July 6: Bieber Death/Porn ExploitThe same week that 4Chan attempted to send the Biebz to North Korea, a YouTube exploit lures in fans with claims that singer has died. Clicking on it redirects the user to a porn site–where else?September 8: Twitter Devotes Racks of Space to BieberHow much of Twitter’s backend is devoted to Justin Bieber tweets? A staggering 3 percent, according to an unnamed Twitter employee. Racks of servers are dedicated to him.”September 30: Justin Bieber HeadphonesFollowing in the footsteps of Dre, Lady Gaga, and Diddy, Monster gives Bieber his own line of headphones. They’re purple–Bieber’s favorite color.October 8: Justin Bieber Kicked off of FacebookNo, not that Justin Bieber. A fellow with the same name as the pop singer is booted off of Facebook, after being accused of using a fake name. he and Hiroko Yoda have a lot to talk about. December 1: Bieber 3D Movies Sells 26,000 TicketsParamount announces a sneak preview of Bieber’s upcoming 3D movie, Never Say Never, selling 26,000 tickets in 12 hours–a full three months before show time. December 1: Bieber Tops Year End Search ResultsSurprised? Neither are we. Nothing to see here. Move along.December 2: Bieber Blocked from YouTube for Uploading Own MusicBieber hits back against YouTube after the site won’t let him upload his own music. He tells his Twitter audience that he’s moving to Facebook instead.
There is no greater bane to a BitTorrent users than an ISP that throttles their speed down to 56k modem speeds from the ’80s. It is a topic that is hotly debated across the internet about which ISP throttles and those that don’t, or which ones will report a user for piracy or not.The biggest villain in the whole BitTorrent debate in recent history has been made out to be Comcast. They were caught throttling 49% of their customers who were using bandwidth for P2P file sharing. After being exposed for their actions, the FCC ordered Comcast to stop throttling on a large scale. A report has appeared this week that indicates the communications company has kept its word and ceased such practices.A two year study was conducted by Measurement Lab (M-Lab), monitoring various broadband providers using an application called “Glasnost” (which means openness in Russian). The results were published recently showing some interesting figures across the world about the best and worst companies out there in terms of levels of throttling.In the US, the worst offender has been found to be ClearWire, a company that slows down 17% of their customer base when using BitTorrent. The best? It’s quite refreshing to hear it is Comcast, at only 3%. Comcast deserves to be applauded for its compliance with the order from the FCC.The worst offender in the report was Rogers from Canada, with a whopping 78% of their users being throttled. Hopefully, just like Comcast, action will be taken and Rogers will be told to stop such practices.The full report can be viewed at M-Lab.Read more at TorrentFreak
Amidst Apple’s earnings call for the December quarter (which saw record growth and revenue), some of the most interesting talk came from Tim Cook when he was asked about the iPad. Though it’s along the same lines as what we’ve heard in the past, Cook dropped some hints about Apple’s future and dismissed concerns about the Kindle Fire.When asked about the competition from budget tablets like the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, Cook didn’t sound particularly worried. He said that these devices are basically eReaders with limited functionality. He acknowledged that some customers will buy them, but said that people who want an iPad won’t want to settle for such a “limited function” device. Take that, Jeff Bezos.Cook then continued with the frame that Steve Jobs presented at the iPad 2 event last year. In that keynote, Jobs had said that 2010 was “the year of the iPad,” and then asked rhetorically whether 2011 would be “the year of the copycats?” Of course not, he said; 2011 would also be the year of the iPad. Today Cook referenced that, saying that 2011 wasn’t, in fact, the Year of the Tablet, but was the second consecutive Year of the iPad. It’s all rhetoric, but sales figures agree with this assessment.Cook did throw us a little bone about the future of the iPad. Though Apple isn’t going to reveal any secrets until a product is being unveiled, he said that Apple is going to “continue to innovate like crazy” in the iPad area.What does this mean? Well, it’s the type of thing a CEO typically says about a product, but it also doesn’t sound like the point of view of a company that’s planning on sitting still. The next iPad will likely sport a 2048×1536 Retina display, an A6 (possibly quad-core) system-on-a-chip, and upgraded cameras. Would this constitute “innovating like crazy?” Probably — but don’t rule out Apple having something else up its sleeve come March. Siri? An Apple gaming platform? We’ll probably know in less than two months.