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Posts Tagged ‘ David Cameron ’

Tweets Of The Week

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With Twitter becoming an ever growing way of life for online users it can be difficult to keep up with all the big tweets of the week when some stories simply take over the net for a couple of days such as the recent #SlaneGirl scandal. Here at Irish News Review we aim to bring you the best tweets of the week from a wide range of sectors in our new weekly segment. Here are our selections of interest from the past seven days: Continue reading

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Sky News Cameraman Shot Dead In Egypt

mickdeane

Sky News cameraman Mick Deane has been shot and killed in Egypt this morning.

Mick had worked for Sky for 15 years, based in Washington and then Jerusalem.

He was part of the team covering the violence in Cairo. Dozens of people have been confirmed killed after Egyptian security forces tried to clear two protest camps loyal to deposed president Mohamed Morsi. Continue reading

Meningitis B Vaccine Approved, But Not Available.

TerriWe all know what it is like to be a teenager. Full of hopes, dreams and itching to get out there and see the world. However, for one vibrant teenager, all this was taken away so cruelly. The most cruel blow of all, was that it may have been prevented with one simple action.

Terri Devine was just 16 when meningitis cruelly robbed her of her ambitions, her dreams and her life. Just four days before Christmas, Sean and Marie Devine lost their daughter Terri after she battled with Meningitis B for just a few short days.

An avid GAA player, Terri was suffering flu like symptoms and arrived home from school early on a Wednesday. Put to bed with paracetamol, Terri’s parents thought that she had nothing more than a flu as there was no visible rash. After several checks on her, Terri seemed a little brighter, but when her father heard what he described as ‘unearthly moaning’ in their Glenmornan home in County Tyrone, he ran to Terri’s side and found her unconscious. She was rushed to Altnagalvin hospital where the family were told it was highly likely that Terri had meningitis. This was confirmed on the Friday and by the Saturday the Devine family received the earth shattering news that their beloved and bubbly Terri had no brain activity. Within a few minutes, the family made what would later become three phenomenal gifts. They decided to donate Terri’s organs and her mother Marie was informed only a short time later that in their darkest hour of grief, they had bestowed the gift of life to a 10 month old baby, a 13 year old boy and a 31 year old woman. Continue reading

North Africa “A Magnet for Jihadists” Claims Cameron

 

dcDavid Cameron’s recent parliamentary address following the end of the hostage situation in Algeria discussed the ever increasing volatility of the north-western region of Africa. The recent stirrings in the region suggested a migrated threat; much of the Jihadist threat used to stem from places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, and still do to some extent, but Cameron now feels that the region in Africa is “a magnet for Jihadists”. Continue reading

Alzheimer’s Back on the Agenda

Cancer and the race to find a cure has been the big thing in health over the past number of years, as was HIV/Aids back in the day. Huge amounts of money has been pumped into cancer research, with some success, and perhaps to the detriment of other less notable yet no less devastating diseases. Now, Alzheimer’s, which had been somewhat forgotten about of late, is back on world leaders’ agenda.

Alzheimer’s is one of the more crueller diseases one can be struck down by. The effects of the disease are heart breaking, as you watch a loved one fade away, reduced to erratic wandering and often confined to bed for their own safety, unable to recognise the faces of the loved ones gathered around their bedside, trapped in memories of people dead and events past. It is an irreversible and progressively degenerative disease affecting the brain, slowly destroying a person’s memories and cognitive skills, eventually taking away the ability to complete the simplest of everyday tasks. Named after Doctor Alois Alzheimer, it is the most common cause of dementia amongst older people, usually striking after the age of 60. The disease begins its work ten years before symptoms will declare its presence, slowly causing healthy neurons to fade and die. Some markers such as memory difficulties can alert health professionals to the disease’s possible presence but as of yet, tools for detecting Alzheimer’s early are just out of reach. As far a cure is concerned, some medicines seem promising but as yet they are aimed at treating the symptoms rather than preventing or curing the fatal disease.

Earlier this summer, the US government launched a plan of action aimed at addressing the Alzheimer’s problem in America, which affects about 5.1 million people in the country, costing millions of dollars in healthcare costs, as part of an effort to find preventative treatment in the US by 2025 and signed into law by Barack Obama last year. Funding has been provided for a first prevention study amongst high risk patients, as well as an insulin spray which has shown promise in early trials. Funding comes from the $50 million set aside for the fight against Alzheimer’s by the Obama administration in 2012, with another $100 million marked for the 2013 fiscal year. In addition the plan allows for the development of new training for doctors, a public campaign including television advertisements and a website; http://www.alzheimers.gov. “These steps offer a ray of hope for those affected by Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. R. Scott Turner, of Georgetown University Medical Centre. “We need a robust awareness campaign specifically targeting participation in research studies.” Meanwhile, in the UK, David Cameron has joined his American counterpart in pledging support for such a move, committing to increased budget support, public understanding and care for those already affected by the disease.

Such moves are coming just in time. Experts in the field have proclaimed that the disease will be epidemic in as little as forty years should we fail to find successful treatments and preventative measures. Professor Brian Lawlor, a consultant psychiatrist for the elderly at St. Patrick’s and St. James’s told a recent conference that “Unless disease modifying treatments that delay the onset of the disease or its rate of progression can be developed, by 2050 one in 85 people will have Alzheimer’s disease. More than 40% of cases will require a high-level of care, and the burden of caregivers will also have a huge impact on the healthcare system.”

The cost of healthcare provisions is surely playing some part in government funding, as they seek to save money wherever they can.In the UK, £19 billion is being spent on those who suffer from Alzheimer’s, more than cancer, heart disease and stroke. In America, the bill hits the $100 billion mark, and is only set to soar even higher to a projected $1.1 trillion by 2050, if the new action plan is unsuccessful. In Ireland, predictably, the Alzheimer’s groups are only facing budget cuts rather than hiked allowances. Despite the fact that in 2006 the lowest cost to the taxpayer was around €200 million, despite around half of all carer’s being family members and working for free, and a number that will only creep higher as the years go by. Ireland only spends half the OECD average on combatting and treating the disease, while over 40,000 people suffer from dementia, expected to jump to 104,000 by 2036 if things do not go according to plan. The situation here is shameful. “Research shows that more than 25% of carers are themselves elderly. 70% of carers experience financial strain and two-thirds find the job of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s completely overwhelming at times,” said Prof. Eamon O’Shea, director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG). Should carers experience burn out, the cost to the state could be around €12 million, a figure they could save on if they only supported these carers through relief and other community services. And the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland has warned the government that if it doesn’t take immediate action, Ireland will face a health crisis in the years to come, with our aging population.

The need to keep public and political awareness at such heights is imperative for both the future of research and the possibility of a treatment or even a cure. These things, like fashion and music, follow trends of high public and governmental support. Where are the public campaigns for HIV now? But the most important thing, for Ireland and our Alzheimer’s community is government support. In the very short-term, it might be good for our economy to cut health spending, but in the long-term, we’ll live to regret it.

The ‘Scottish Question’

‘The Debatable Lands of history’, wrote Norman MacCaig of the hills and valleys of the Scottish Borders, which signal the dividing point between the two historic nations of England and Scotland. Whilst the geographic boundary may no longer be in question, the debate over the constitutional boundaries within the United Kingdom is very much to the fore in both Edinburgh and London.

On gaining an overall majority in the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections – an impressive feat in a system which utilises proportional representation – the Scottish National Party (SNP), under First Minister Alex Salmond, pledged that there would be a referendum on Scotland’s future in the UK within four years. Since then, the ‘Scottish Question’ has taken on a renewed impetus, as politicians, journalists, civic groups, and the public have engaged in the debate over independence for Scotland.

Yet this debate is by no means a new one. Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom was a subject of discourse for much of the 20th century. ‘There will be a Scottish Parliament’, declared the late Donald Dewar, and in 1997 Scots were given the chance to decide for themselves in a referendum on the matter in which almost 75% of Scottish voters agreed with him. This was not the first time Scots were presented with a referendum on their future. A referendum was held in 1979, with a majority again in favour. However, the referendum had been subject to the “40% rule”, i.e., requiring 40% of the whole electorate to vote in favour rather than a simple majority.

The successful devolution referendum in 1997 was on the back of nearly twenty years of Conservative rule in Britain. During those years, the delegation of Conservative MPs crossing the Tweed to Westminster was uniformly minimal, prompting many to question the mandate held by Westminster over Scottish affairs. Margaret Thatcher’s governance, moreover, alienated many in Scotland. In 2012, there are only two Conservative MPs representing Scottish seats. David Cameron’s Conservative government finds little support north of the border. The conditions which fostered burgeoning support for devolution in the run-up to 1997 are being mirrored in the political climate in which the current debate exists, and Salmond is keenly aware of this.

David Cameron took an early foray into the debate, attempting to call Salmond’s bluff. “If Alex Salmond wants a referendum, why wait?”, Cameron told the Commons in January. This proved to be a costly error. The SNP Government hit back with claims of Westminster interference in Scottish democracy, a sentiment that many Scots found themselves agreeing with. In a matter of such historical importance for Scots, a Tory Prime Minister callously urging “get on with it” from London did little to help the unionist position in Scotland.

The debate has been further tipped in favour of independence by the manner in which it has been argued against. The argument to a large extent has thus far centred on why Scots can’t go it alone, rather than being built on a positive argument for the Union. Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, partners in the coalition Westminster government, have been amongst those eager to stress some of the apparent gaps in the finer details of the independence plan, such as the armed forces, currency, and border control.

These details are undoubtedly important, yet such a focus is detrimental to their stance in that it fails to set the unionist position on any positive footing. Salmond has seized this opportunity to hold ownership over the language of positivity. He told a London audience in January that an independent Scotland would be a “progressive beacon of social democracy” based upon “universal values of fairness”. Johann Lamont, leader of the Scottish Labour party, has long understood that the best way for her party to garner support for the union is on those very values which Salmond espoused. Nevertheless, Labour have failed to effectively convey this.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, recently sought to rectify this in a visit to Scotland.

I support Scotland as part of the United Kingdom, not because I think Scotland is too poor or too weak to break away. But for a profoundly different reason: Because I believe that Scotland as part of the United Kingdom is better for the working people of Scotland, and better for the working people of the United Kingdom as a whole.

He cited the NHS and the history of British Labour as being a shared success, with the rallying cry: “let’s confront the real divide in Britain… between the haves and the have-nots.” A strong speech, but given his party’s failure to competently confront that very divide as Opposition in the Commons, its sentiment was all but lost.

Yet there is another aspect to the ‘Scottish Question’, away from the tit-for-tat politics of the debate. Miliband attempted to conjure a shared identity in his appeal to Scots, and both Cameron and Clegg respectively have reiterated those “common values”. Yet a uniqueness of culture and identity is something that we cannot ignore in the question over Scottish independence. This, it must be stressed, is something aside from nationality (the recent calls, for example, for expat Scots to be included in the referendum electorate was folly; an electorate should not be defined along ethnic lines). The Economist recently chided those in Scotland who seek independence as anti-English. Conversely, a fairer political relationship between the two countries could, as Salmond has argued, help cultural bonds between the two nations to prosper.

There are, undoubtedly, shared identities within the United Kingdom. Yet, since the end of the Second World War, there has been a growing sense of a re-defined Scottish identity in its own right. This expressed itself partly through the formation of the Scottish Parliament at the end of 20th century. The political and constitutional make-up was reconstructed to reflect the changed needs and wants of Scotland. The independence referendum, including the devo-plus and devo-max options (which involve a much greater transfer of power from Westminster to Edinburgh), offers the chance for this process to continue. The referendum will further empower Scots to re-define their cultural identity.

As the debate rages on, opinion polls fluctuate in levels of support for either side. When it boils down to it, there will be many Scots – in spite of the political to-and-fro, the arguments over the economy, and bickering over North Sea Oil – who find themselves having left the polling station having placed a cross in the “yes” box. Hugh MacDiarmid’s 1926 work, A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, hinted as to why this will be the case:

 I’ll ha’e nae hauf-way hoose, but aye be whaur

Extremes meet – it’s the only way I ken

To dodge the curst conceit o’ bein’ richt

That damns the vast majority o’ men.

There is an element of this appeal which can only be described as a hedonistic leap of faith, allowing a break from MacDiarmid’s “cursed conceit of being right”. The ‘Scottish Question’ may yet find an answer.

Senior Economist Warns Ireland “Should Be Praying” for Second Bailout

The head of Economics at Dublin City University today claimed that a second bailout in inevitable for Ireland and insisted we “should be praying” that the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank would be willing to facilitate it.

Professor Tony Foley made the comments when speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland radio programme. He said such an offer would be preferable to the Government’s current proposal of borrowing approximately €12 billion on international financial markets next year as this would invariably lead to crippling interest rates as the country attempts to repay its massive debt – estimated to reach €206 billion by 2015.

Professor Foley’s comments come less than 24 hours after Citigroup economist Willem Buiter stated that Ireland should negotiate a ‘standby’ second bailout in the event we are unable to return to the markets.

European Commissioner Olli Rehn’s spokesman, Amadeu Altafaj, has labelled such speculation as unhelpful given that the first programme was delivering and that Ireland had enjoyed positive growth and banking sector reform in 2011.

In another blow to the Irish economy, a new Goodbody Stockbrokers report has predicted further protracted growth in 2012 and claimed Ireland will not achieve the 3% of gross domestic product deficit target by 2015.

Goodbody chief economist Dermot O’Leary said he expects the country’s GDP ratio to rise to 124% in 2014 and has revised down GDP growth estimates to 0.7% for this year from 1.2%.  GNP, excluding multinationals, and domestic demand will fall by 0.8% and 2.6% respectively.

Officials from the EU, IMF and ECB are in Dublin today, undertaking their fifth review of the €67.5bn loan programme. The talks are being headed by the IMF’s Ajai Chopra. The troika will review figures for 2011 and establish targets for the Government and the economy over the coming months.

Mr Chopra said, “A restructuring of the circa €30 billion in promissory notes (in relation to Anglo) provides an opportunity to reduce debt to a more sustainable level without the difficulties that Greece is currently experiencing with private sector involvement.” He added, “Another important issue is the speed at which the banking system is deleveraging.”

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny will meet British Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street on Thursday to discuss the ongoing debt crisis.

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