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Posts Tagged ‘ Colorado ’

NFL Playoffs: Runners And Riders

nfl

With only two games left to play in the regular season, it seems time for a comprehensive overview of the runners and riders for the playoff berths that are still to be decided. We already have three teams who have secured some kind of playoff game for themselves in January, but this is one of the most interesting periods in the NFL season, with everyone who is still mathematically in with a shout trying to claw their way forward for a shot at the Superbowl. Continue reading

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Top Five Irish Actors Taking Centre Stage In The US

Ireland is recognised for the art of storytelling; from folklore, to literature, to music, to acting. For years it has produced remarkable stage and screen actors such as Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy to name a few, and now it would seem that there are a number of up-and-coming young male and female actors following their suit and paving their own way with their own distinctive careers. With St. Patrick’s Day not too far away, it is worth taking a look at a few actors making waves across the Atlantic and hoping that this trend only increases as time goes on.

Irish Film And Television Awards - Arrivals

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Re-Elected Obama Has No Time To Ponder Victory

The objective of a first term president is to get re-elected – Barack Obama has achieved that.  On November 7th 2012 Obama was given a mandate to lead his country for a second term comprehensively defeating Republican Mitt Romney.  However, the incumbent president has no time to savour his victory – unfortunately for him that was the easy part.  Unlike the euphoria of four years ago, the overriding emotion was one of relief for himself and his supporters.  Now he faces the objective of a second term president which is to create a legacy.  The next four years will determine how the first black president to occupy the White House is judged by history.  Not much has changed as a result of this election.  The power structure has remained the same:  Obama occupies the Oval office with a Democratic majority in the Senate and the Republicans still hold sway in Congress.  The checks on his legislative powers in his first term remain.  Obama will be buoyed by victory but he leaves behind the campaign trail with its echoes of lofty oratory and his loyal base in Chicago returning to WashingtonDC and the gritty reality of politics in a divided capital.

There was a palpable fear in the Obama camp about voter turnout.  Hope was the operative word on the campaign trail in 2008 but four years on they couldn’t rely solely on that to bring voters to the polling stations.  The reality of the situation dictated that his team launch a monumental groundswell operation in order to galvanise a similar turnout and they succeeded.   Dubbed the hash-tag election due to the prominent role played by social media, Obama has the largest Twitter following of any world leader.  His team relentlessly contacted supporters and the undecided, imploring them to vote for their man.

This race was deemed too close to call.  But after the ballots were cast and the pundits began deciphering the early exit polls it became clear that the 44th president had managed to win the crucial swing states that often decide these elections.  The margins were tight but President Obama carried Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin.  This meant that he easily won the race to 270 electoral college votes out of the 538 available.  Currently he stands on 303 to Romney’s 206 with Florida’s 29 still to be allocated.  Obama managed to defeat Romney in Michigan, where the challenger was born, and in Massachusetts, where he was governor from 2003 to 2007.  From the 2008 election results the Democrats only lost two states: Indiana and North Carolina.  In the end Obama won the popular vote by 50% to Romney’s 48% which shows that incumbent clearly won the popular vote.  The president’s mandate is reduced from the last election but it is still a clear mandate.

For the Republicans this defeat illustrates major deficiencies in the Grand Old Party (GOP) as they were unable to capitalise on high unemployment and a stuttering economy since the financial meltdown of 2008.  One must go back to 1936 and Roosevelt during the Great Depression to find a president who, in the face of such high unemployment figures, managed to get re-elected.  The unemployment rate in America is roughly the same as when Obama took office but instead of losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month the country is now gaining them.

This was an election that a united Republican party would have won.  However, the party is split and they managed to alienate large cohorts of the electorate with their divisive politics throughout the campaign.  It is clear that the party is torn.  Over the next two years they must decide if they are the fractious and severely conservative right-wing party that we saw in the primary or the more moderate one that Romney unveiled at the first presidential debate.  Romney was hamstrung by his own party in this race – for instance the party signed a pact that said they would not raise taxes on anybody and that included the super wealthy – Romney wanted to extended the Bush tax cuts that are due to expire in January thereby avoiding the so called ‘fiscal cliff’.  An exit poll indicated that 60% of voters believed that taxes should be increased on at least the very wealthy.

Romney lost the presidency in a centre right nation because he lost the centre.  He had to secure the extreme elements of his party early in the campaign and by the time he changed tack in search of the middle ground he was too late.  His voter base was too narrow:  He had a greater proportional share of the vote amongst whites, men, the wealthy, older people, Catholics and Evangelicals.  This campaign shows that the GOP needs some serious introspection and to broaden their appeal.  They will not be able to compete over the coming years if they do not moderate certain policies that alienated them from large portions of the electorate.  George Bush won 40% of the Latino vote whereas Romney only picked up 29%.  Hispanics voted en masse for Obama.  Romney and the Republican party have ostracised this large demographic through their extreme immigration policies.   Pat Cadell, a public opinion pollster who worked on Jimmy Carter’s campaign team, spoke on Fox News of the party’s problems, “There is no future for a party that consistently gets wiped out at the polls by Latinos and Women and which constantly appears negative.”  The first presidential debate in Detroit was the highlight of the Romney campaign as he shape-shifted toward the centre.  Voters did not really know who Romney was – they were still uncertain of his true identity. What they feared was the Republican party of the last four years and that his potential administration would have reflected the GOP’s extreme agenda. American politics desperately needs a united Republican party.  They need to decide their identity and emerge as the party of fiscal responsibility and moderately conservative social policies or they will find themselves left behind by the future generations of American voters.

One can only get elected once on a ‘change’ platform.  The American public had a four year record on which to judge Obama so either his policies were seen as acceptable by the electorate or the opposition was not seen as offering a viable alternative – a bit of both seems to be the answer.  Economically Obama inherited ‘The Great Recession’, as it was dubbed, from his predecessor and his policies have prevented a depression.  The recovery is slow but there are green shoots.  Voters are beginning to see improvements in the economy and perhaps the electorate was wary that a new administration could derail this progress.  A Republican Congress has stymied much of Obama’s stimulus plan however the bailout of the auto-industry saved many jobs.  In Ohio for example this bailout directly translated into a victory for him in this vital swing state.  Exit polls suggested that nobody voted solely on foreign policy.  The Republicans touted Obama as weak but he has managed to repair America’s reputation in foreign eyes without pandering or endangering American national security as was feared by his opposition.  Military hawks waited for the incumbent to slip up in his first term but he has been almost flawless in foreign theatres. Al Qaeda is a shadow of its former self.  He tracked down and killed Osama Bin Laden.  He ended the unpopular war in Iraq.  His sanctions on Iran have been tough and he intervened responsibly in the Arab Spring.  He increased troop levels in Afghanistan but intends to pull out of that quagmire by 2014.  The only real blot on his record was the loss of four American lives in Benghazi in Libya and Romney tried to make political capital from this event during the campaign and as a result he lost popularity.  If there is something the American people can be bi-partisan about it is in events where they lose their own men.

Obama’s win was an endorsement for his policies and an acknowledgment that the government has an important role to play in an American recovery.  He will look to implement legislation that he was unable to get passed in his first term now that he is equipped with a new mandate from the public.  His lasting legislative success came early in his first term with his sweeping health reform known as Obamacare.  With his re-election he hopes to fully implement these plans by 2014.  His second term priorities will be the deficit, changing the tax code, immigration and climate change.  His first major obstacle will be the ‘fiscal cliff’ the metaphor for what will happen in January when George Bush’s tax schemes lapse. If a compromise is not reached between the President and Congress on fiscal policy then taxes will increase and there will be spending cuts.  The speeches of both candidates after the results indicated that the need for cooperation on this issue will test their commitment to bi-partisanship.

This election does not indicate a united nation; real polarisation still exists in the States but what this vote does show is a majority electorate that saw Obama as working for them.  They aren’t saying he’s succeeding but he is trying and that is more than can be said of an opposition that has been unwilling to compromise.  Republican House speaker John Boehner, in a speech after the results, was clear that his Congress would remain the check on the president’s power as they have been since the mid-term elections in 2010.  President Obama’s dealings with Congress over the next four years will be the key to his legacy.  He urged reconciliation between the two parties in his emotive speech, “We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states.  We are and forever will be the United States of America.”  Let the partisan battles begin.

Death Penalty Looms For Batman Killer But Is It Justifiable?

America got its first glimpse of James Holmes on Monday as the man believed to have murdered 12 people and injured at least 58 in a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theatre made his first appearance in court.

Holmes (24) stands accused of bursting into a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie in the Denver suburb of Aurora and shooting his victims, the youngest of which was six.

He also left behind a booby-trapped apartment filled with homemade bombs. When arrested he reportedly told police he was the Batman villain the Joker, who also has coloured hair.

In a small courtroom packed with media, relatives of the dead and injured, and even some of the walking wounded themselves, Holmes sported a shock of dyed orange hair and a prison jump suit.

His hands were cuffed and he did not say a word. He did not seem to look at his victims, either staring straight ahead or looking at his feet. He had been brought into the building via an underground tunnel from a next-door jail, where he is being held in solitary confinement and is on suicide watch.

One possible sentence for college dropout Holmes if found guilty is the death penalty, something which has been handed down in Colorado for lesser crimes.

Here Irish News Review contrasts the arguments for and against executing the now notorious Batman killer.

For-Glenn Dowd (Editor, Irish News Review)

I have never advocated the death penalty but over the past year my mindset has been forced to change a little due to the atrocities carried out by people such as Holmes and Anders Behring Breivik, both of whom I believe should be executed. A life for a life or rather in their cases twelve lives for a life or seventy seven lives for a life.

The manner in which Holmes acted was cunning, devious and downright evil. How anybody can bring such carnage to the world is despicable. Furthermore, what sort of a man can live knowing that he has murdered twelve people, including a six year old. Holmes heinous acts clearly showed what is wrong with American society. Anybody can be granted access to weaponry with relevant ease. The American government have themselves to blame for this latest catastrophe.

America is synonymous with gun crazed morons who have etched themselves into history for all the wrong reasons. The death penalty has befelled some of them but not all of them. Holmes has shocked the world with his actions and on a personal level I have been sickened by his endless depths of evil. Some media outlets have suggested that the perpetrator may in fact be insane but how often have we seen insanity used as a get out clause in murder cases? Should this plea of insanity decrease the severity of the punishment handed down to Holmes? In the real world the answer would be no but then again we don’t live in the real world.

The victims’ families will no doubt be split over what they feel is adequate punishment for Holmes. Some believe his actions will warrant execution while others will hold that life imprisonment will do them justice as he will be left to rot and ponder his actions in a prison cell for the rest of his life. But in this instance I don’t agree that Holmes should be sentenced to life imprisonment.

The families will discuss what they feel is adequate punishment with the state authorities and will seek to find closure fast. There is no definitive way of doing this and views will conflict but in my opinion if there is any justice in this world the state of Colorado will ultimately serve Holmes with notice of his execution.

Against-Tara Cunningham (Reporter, Irish News Review) 

Personally, I don’t think he should, not because I believe he will feel remorse for the outcome of his actions, nor because I believe that he can be treated for his insanity, but because death is a simpler option in my view, a ‘get out of jail free card’ some would say.

The simplest example which I can liken it too is the action of ripping off a band aid. If you rip it off at the fastest possible speed, the impact and pain is minimal. If you slowly peel that band aid off, little by little the pain intensifies, until it is somewhat unbearable. In my view, for the criminal involved, the death penalty is an easier solution, a less painful solution, as opposed to day by day facing up to the crime you have committed, and facing a long slow life dealing with it. As simplistic as that analogy is, I believe it to have some veracity.

The death penalty debate has been at the forefront of international media for countless years.  They say to take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, but it is not justice and I would indeed agree. Yes, it gives the victims who survived and the families of those who didn’t the revenge they want for the unbearable hurt they must now carry with them for the rest of their days, but does it aid the healing process? No, it merely removes the culprit from the earth, but leaves emotional scares which last for eternity. The victims and their families need justice, not revenge. Justice is making the guilty face up to their crimes, and James Holmes should face life imprisonment for the heinous massacre in Colorado. Life imprisonment in which every day he is reminded of the damage, destruction and the pain he caused. He needs to realise that his actions were immoral, and he will not realise that if he faces the death penalty, an option that will end his suffering and mental struggle.

It is my opinion that the driving force behind the notion that retribution is immoral is that it is just a sanitised form of vengeance. Howling mobs attacking prison, chanting outside the prison in which the accused is due to be executed, suggests anger, unresolved anger, inability to forgive and does suggest that vengeance remains the foremost reason behind the public’s support of capital punishment. But those angry mobs must realise that for all they chant and hurl abuse at the offender, their anger or inability to forgive will not subside the minute Holmes faces the death penalty. It will not subside until they address the horrific actions which they were faced with in that cinema, or the devastating news they received about their loved ones soon after. Vengeance must be separated from your desire for justice. Vengeance doesn’t make the hurting stop, knowing however that justice has been sought, and a life imprisonment order imposed on the accused, will aid the recovery process as you know that not only do you have to face this every day, that the accused will too.

The death penalty provides insufficient retribution, whereas life imprisonment without the possibility of parole can be a greater source of suffering to the offender after a short period of time in imprison. It may be also interesting to note that the death penalty leads to a brutalisation of society, and an increase in the murder rate. For example, statistics have shown that in the USA more murders have taken place in states where capital punishment is allowed. According to the FBI the murder rate difference between death penalty and non death penalty states rose from 4% in 1990 to 44% in 2003. Therefore the threat of the death penalty does not deter these atrocious crimes, and disturbed individuals from carrying out acts of terror in the future.

When we think of James Holmes, and his actions, we are drawn to the conclusion, that for a person to conduct such an inhumane act that they must be insane. Has he a guilty mind? Surely if a person hasn’t a guilty mind, why punish them for actions they were not aware that they were doing. They clearly need help – by this I do not mean in any terms that he ever be let free, but people suffering from insanity need to be confined to mental institutions, for the safety of the public.

There is one question that remains, and is burning in the minds of everyone, why did James Holmes do this? It appears that there was premeditation, a number of calculated moves and a degree of intellectual intelligence for this massacre to transpire. As he stepped into the courtroom on Monday we saw a man slipping in and out of consciousness, lost in his head. The bleak reality is you can’t look into the face of a killer and know his heart or his mind. We see a murder, an obsessed character, obsessed with the Joker, wanting to play out the villain from an earlier Batman movie but as we watch him, we also see the images of the 12 dead splashed across the media, and for this Holmes must pay the price. But is that price the death penalty?

The decision will be made in consultation with victims’ families – but bear in mind, ripping the band aid quickly is often painful for the offender, the death penalty will shorten his suffering and mental anguish following the realisation of what he has done, but it won’t shorten the suffering of the victims’ families. Short term vengeance is not always the answer, James Holmes deserves to be reminded every day for the rest of his life what he did, the hurt and pain he caused, and not be faced with the easy option – after all for him, the easiest option now is the death penalty.

 

A Real Life Villain

We all know the villain from the movies… the vacant eyes, yet a face of terror, responsible for the most heinous of crimes. We are shielded from their acts by a cinema screen, a half eaten box of popcorn perhaps or the human shield you’re sitting next to in the comfort lined cinema seats. We’ve all been there; if you dare to admit it or not, I’m sure there was that one movie, that one scene, which ignited an element of fear within you.

Unfortunately, for the packed cinema in Colorado last Friday, at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, the villain that came to life that night was not one from the movies, but a real life villain. An incident, that within minutes resulted in the shooting dead of 12 people and causing injury to 58 others.  A man dressed in body armour and toting three guns opened fire at the midnight screening of the Batman movie. Moments after the massacre this man was apprehended.

President Obama was due to visit the town to meet victims and their families last night. This atrocity will now serve as a reminder for the President that the issue of gun control in America is one of grave salience and one which needs to be addressed immediately.

Today, that suspected gunman made his first court appearance, refusing to talk about the reasoning behind the shootings, a massacre which is undoubtedly one of the worst in US history. Police are still searching for the motive which led him to this terrible onslaught.

As the suspect sat in court, courtesy of the TV screen, the rest of the world were today sheltered from this villain; dressed in a red jailhouse jump suit, with bright red dyed hair, his glare fixated straight ahead – James Holmes, a real life villain, and one that will now haunt Colorado for life. He will face at least 71 charges, one for each victim, and may face the death penalty.

In the movies, the villains are also tried at the end, but it is then the happily ever after ensues, but not this time, the bleak realism for the people of Colorado is no happy ending, it’s a heartbreaking tale of a packed cinema screening that ended in tragedy, a tragedy that will remain with Colorado for years to come.

To the twelve victims of the Colorado Massacre– Rest In Peace.

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