Friday, August 31, 2007

US-Fred Thompson to join Presidential Race next Thursday

Former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee will officially enter the race for the Republican Party's presidential nomination next Thursday. He is a consistent conservative and comes from a southern state.

As an actor, Thompson has performed in film and on television. He supports free trade and low taxes. He is generally regarded as pro life. He is also a lawyer. He has the potential to unify the overwhelming majority of conservatives unlike Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He is likely to appeal to Independents and right wing Democrats also.

This is his message which is very much a rallying call to conservatives:

"We are the most prosperous nation in the world, the most powerful and we have brought more freedom to more people in the history of the world and been a beacon to all freedom seeking people around the world for a couple hundred years now, and we are going to stay that way. We are going to stay strong as a nation and strong as a party."

Aer Lingus rejects request for EGM

It is hardly surprising that the board of Aer Lingus has rejected a request from Ryanair to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting of shareholders. It was never likely to provide a platform for its competitor and arch critic Michael O Leary. The Ryanair boss is unlikely to accept this decision without a fight.
Of course the Government itself with its 25% share holding could call an EGM. This will not happen as indications -from Government sources- are that the Government will not intervene to alter the commercial decisions of a private company.
Promises given prior to privatisation have been quietly binned. The retention by the Government of the 25% share holding was supposed to protect the national interest. In reality it was a sop to mollify opposition. The Government must now use the 25% shareholding or else sell it. FF-PD Governments have a strong record of selling the family silver.

Enda Kenny the Fine Gael leader said his party will fight to ensure there will be an ongoing air service between Shannon and Heathrow.
Government deputies from the Mid West face grave embarrassment in the Dail when the opposition puts down a motion calling on the Government to maintain the Shannon to Heathrow route. Willie O Dea's bluff will be called. Jackie Healy Rae will rave and rant and then vote with the coalition.
Put up or shut up time is rapidly approaching for government politicians.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Irish Rugby Union- Money talks

Apparently All Black wing Doug Howlett appears to be on the verge of signing for Munster. However he will not be available until the latter stages of the Heineken Cup.

The 28-year-old Auckland rocket is part of New Zealand's World Cup squad. The deal is believed to be worth €1 million.

Undoubtedly the Munster back division lacks flair. A fit and eager Howlett could electrify the province. Though only 28 years old he has a lot of mileage on the clock. He has played for the All Blacks on 60 occasions. He has 93 Super 12/14 caps and 52 provincial caps. Munster may gain in the short term but is it not time for the province to produce dynamic backs of its own?

The signing of Howlett will hinder the development of indigenous backs. The huge influx of players from New Zealand and South Africa into French and English clubs has probably forced Munsters hand. Success in Heineken Cup Rugby is a financial necessity.

Indeed Irish Rugby Union has suffered from the failure of the IRFU to cultivate Sevens Rugby both domestically and Internationally. It is noticeable that countries such as New Zealand and Australia take International Sevens very seriously. In general Southern Hemisphere players are more comfortable with ball in hand than Irish players. Granted that the Leinster back division -with players such as Hickie, O'Driscoll, Darcy and Horgan- exudes class. Unfortunately this is the exception rather than the rule.

IRISH coach Eddie O’Sullivan is believed to have signed a 4 year contract with the IRFU worth €5 million. This is in advance of the World Cup. It would make more sense to negotiate with O'Sullivan after the World Cup. This generous deal will have knock on effects as players who do the hard graft will look with jaundiced eye at such generosity.

Renewal of player's contracts may be more costly than the IRFU anticipate. Player contract inflation may haunt the IRFU for a prolonged period of time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Afghan Taliban Releases 12 South Korean Hostages

Chosun Ilbo- The Taliban has begun releasing 19 South Korean Christian volunteers, after holding them in Afghanistan for nearly six weeks. The militants have freed 12 hostages so far a day after South Korea made a series of concessions to end the hostage crisis...
Thankfully this crisis appears to be resolved. Unfortunately 2 hostages were murdered. However the Taliban failed to secure the release of insurgent prisoners held in Afghan jails.
Nevertheless some questions arise.
  • Did South Korea pay a ransom?
  • Why was the crisis ignored by much of the media?
  • Arab countries failed to intervene. Why?
  • When will Arab Governments ensure freedom of religion for Christians within their boundaries?
  • When will Western politicians exert pressure on Arab countries to ensure freedom of religion for Christian minorities.

Shannon to Heathrow issue-press release

A press release from the Department of Transport following a Cabinet meeting on the Shannon to Heathrow issue states:
"It was agreed that the Minister for Transport, on behalf of Government, would do all in his power to assist the Shannon Airport Authority to secure alternative London Heathrow services."

This means that the Government will not use its 25% share in Aer Lingus to save the Shannon-Heathrow route. It will vote to support the company's decision to axe the route. Over the last few days there have been judicious leaks from government sources geared towards softening up public opinion in the West and Mid West.

The newly-formed Atlantic Connectivity Alliance also sent a fact file to each minister detailing the implications to business and tourism.
A representative of the Alliance was interviewed on RTE News tonight. He sounded enthusiastic about the Government's attitude to the Mid West.
No wonder Noel Dempsey is not too worried. Representatives of the Alliance should spare their enthusiasm for concrete actions rather than woolly promises.

Others from the Mid West were not as enthusiastic and were quite critical.The Government appears to have neutered the opposition of the Atlantic Connectivity Alliance whilst there is no prospect of FF TDs in the Mid West voting en bloc against the Government.
A serious threat by the FF TDs in the Mid West to bring down the Government on the issue could achieve the desired result of restoring the Shannon to Heathrow route. The FF TDs in the Mid West are not serious. The Government knows this.

The score stands at FF 1 Mid West 0.

How well prepared is San Francisco for a large earthquake?

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 killed at least 3,000 people. It was of magnitude 7.9. 200,000 people were left homeless. Fires that raged through San Francisco in the wake of the earthquake destroyed 28,000 buildings.

On the basis of research conducted since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other scientists conclude that there is a 70% probability of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake, capable of causing widespread damage, striking the San Francisco Bay region before 2030. Major quakes may occur in any part of this rapidly growing region. This emphasizes the urgency for all communities in the Bay region to continue preparing for earthquakes...

San Francisco is not prepared for an earthquake of magnitude 7.9. Since 1906, the population of the Bay Area has grown from about 700,000 to about 7 million people . Building standards are higher now. However many buildings are still not adequately reinforced. Some hospitals such as The San Francisco General would be at risk as would many schools. Whilst efforts have been made to strengthen some bridges- to withstand earthquakes- grave doubts must exist until these bridges are tested by a powerful quake.
A major upgrade of the water system will not be completed before 2015. If a massive earthquake were to strike now huge damage would be inflicted on water networks.

If an earthquake on the scale of the 1906 quake were to occur it is estimated that approximately 40,000 office buildings would be destroyed in areas concentrated along the fault zones of San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara County, Alameda and Oakland. The Association of Bay Area Governments has estimated that more than 150,000 uninhabitable residences will occur in a M7.9 repeat of the 1906 earthquake or a M6.9 rupture of the entire Hayward fault. The East Bay I-880 corridor along the Hayward fault would experience the most proportional property damage of the entire Bay area.
The worst case scenario for the Bay Area, is estimated to result in about 5800 fatalities if it strikes during working hours. Some how I think that these figures are an underestimate of the likely number of deaths.
San Francisco’s financial district, is also vulnerable to large earthquakes on both sides of the Bay.
It is estimated that property losses could be up to 300 billion dollars.

In summary many bridges, hospitals, schools, and buildings have not been adequately upgraded
If the buildings are destroyed, their gas and water lines could be seriously damaged, making the likelihood of fire very substantial. San Francisco is not adequately prepared.

Parents must be vigilant over pro suicide websites

Fine Gael Deputy Health Spokesman & President of the Irish Association of Suicidology Dan Neville TD has urged parents to be vigilant about their children's use of the internet in light of the growing risk posed by pro-suicide websites. The issue is being discussed at the Association's conference in Co. Kerry.

"A growing number of young people are logging on to websites that provide advice on taking their own life. This poses an enormous risk for vulnerable young people, particularly if they come into online contact with people who are considering ending their own lives.
"It is vital that parents are vigilant about their children's use of the internet. The risk posed by online paedophiles and pro-anorexia websites has already been highlighted in the media, but pro-suicide websites pose an equally serious risk for young people.
"The risk to young people in Ireland is proportionally greater than that in many other EU countries given this country's fluency in the English language, because the majority of pro-suicide websites are based in North America.
"Given the ever increasing use of the internet by young people, it is vital that sufficient online resources are available to address their particular concerns and crises, including advice on how to deal with difficult life experiences. In particular, it is crucial that online advice is available on how young people should seek out others in whom they have confidence if they feel depressed and out of sorts. I welcome efforts made by the Samaritans, Bebo and other organisations in this regard."

According to Dan Neville the suicide statistics in Ireland are now of epidemic proportions. In 2003 official figures show that 444 people took their own lives. In the same year there were 52 undetermined deaths. It is conservatively estimated that in excess of 60,000 people attempt to take their lives annually. This is five times the estimated number of people injured in road crashes annually. Suicide, however, has not warranted a similar national media campaign.

Dan Neville provides a wealth of information at Suicide information
Over the last 10 years some interesting trends have emerged in suicide rates

13% increase in Republic of Ireland
11% decrease in England
15% decrease in Wales
No change in Northern Ireland
1% increase in Scotland

To contact the Samaritans:

In the UK dial 08457 90 90 90, for the cost of a local call. In the Republic of Ireland dial 1850 60 90 90, for the cost of a local call.

In the USA Call A Suicide Hotline

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Taliban to release 19 Korean hostages??

According to Reuters-Taliban insurgents said on Tuesday they would release 19 South Korean Christian volunteers they have held for nearly six weeks provided Seoul pulls out its troops and stops Korean missionary work in Afghanistan by year-end.
South Korea's presidential office issued a statement setting out the terms of the agreement, and Taliban representative Qari Mohammad Bashir confirmed a deal had been struck........... ....

There is no mention of the release of Taliban prisoners by the Afghan Government. Two Christian hostages have been murdered by the terrorists. And all for what? I will believe this statement when those hostages are back safely in South Korea. The Taliban have broken their promises on several occasions already.

There is a high level of intolerance and hatred towards Christianity in Moslem countries such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia Iran and now increasingly so in Iraq. Yet Moslems resident in the US and Western Europe have freedom to practise their religion and are quite vocal in their demands. Some even speak in terms of winning back Spain for Islam.

US-Infighting in the Democrats

As the campaign for the Democratic party nomination has gained momentum so has the level of attacks from Barack Obama and John Edwards on Hillary Clinton. Obama has described Hillary as "Bush-Cheney lite" on foreign affairs.

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, criticised Clinton for taking campaign donations from special-interest lobbyists. Hillary has pursued a skilful strategy of nuancing her policies in accordance with the wishes of the electorate as expressed in public opinion polls. She is attempting to pursue a centrist position while genuflecting to the left. She is aware that that a leftist policy platform will cost her the Presidency. The problem for Hillary is that she is not a centrist by conviction. Obama has run into serious problems when he attempted to put flesh on his policies.

Problems will arise for Hillary in the course of the presidential election campaign if she is the Democratic Party candidate. It will be encumbent upon her to cease flip flopping and to take a definite position on such issues as health care, foreign policy, taxation ,illegal immigration et al. She has consistently changed her position on Iraq.

There are straws in the wind as to her real intentions. She is in reality a covert leftist who camouflages her real intentions with a centrist mask.

In 1993, President Clinton appointed his wife to head and be the chairperson of the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. The task Force recommended a plan that would mandate employers to provide health coverage to their employees . The plan was quickly labelled "Hillarycare" by its opponents. The plan was ridiculed in the House and Senate though both were controlled by the Democrats. The proposal was abandoned in September of 1994. The Clinton health care plan was a major campaign issue of the 1994 midterm elections. It cost the Democrats control of both houses. Some of the documentation that relates to Hillerycare will not be released until after the 2008 Presidential Election -luckily for Hillary.
"Hillarycare" will surface in 2008 as a major election campaign issue.
Senator Clinton also voted against the tax cuts introduced by President Bush. Republicans can legitimately claim that she favours high taxation.
John Edwards is upfront about his left wing platform. Obama continues to score own goals,whilst Hillery relies on sound bytes to obscure her left wing policies.
The fault lines in the Democratic Party have begun to open as increasingly Edwards and Obama snipe at Hillary.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bush administration crumbling???

It all started with Donald Rumsfeld's resignation on 8 November 2006. Since then it has been downhill all the way for the Bush administration.
The following month John Bolton, Bush’s ambassador to the UN, exited. He realised that his appointment would not be ratified by a Democratic Senate.
Tony Snow Bush's chief spokesman will go on September 3.

On August 13 Karl Rove, 56, announced he will be leaving the administration on 31 August.

Today Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced his resignation. At least 9 more front line people have departed since the 2006 mid term elections. The inner circle is wracked by feuding and infighting.

Bush must focus on a small number of key goals and seek to bring them to fruition. He has 17 months to wrack up achievements that will assure him of his place in history. The portents are not good.

Hurling-Limerick hype could be costly

According to Limericktoday Early bird shoppers at Brown Thomas on O'Connell Street could have mistakenly believed that they had walked in on a male fashion show on Saturday morning when they were greeted with the sight of the twenty strapping young men parading through the store.

On closer inspection—after one or two double-takes by the ladies—they realised that the familiar faces were those of the Limerick hurling squad who were trying out their new designer suits for size.Brown Thomas have fitted the entire panel with finely tailored Hugo Boss three-buttoned single breasted navy suits to ensure the team not only look the business on the pitch this weekend but off the pitch also......

Also in Limericktoday The next ten days or so could prove to be very crucial for the long term benefit of Gaelic Games in Limerick.
We are all thrilled and overwhelmed with our senior hurling team booking a place in the All-Ireland final on September 2. The emotions of supporters is at an all time high and that is natural particularly in a county that has been starved of success and it is their right to hope for victory over Kilkenny in what we all hope will be a truly great final.History tells us that we have lost more All-Irelands than we have won in the last 66 years so it is fair to say that when it comes to the pain and disappointment of losing finals we are right up there with the likes of the Mayo footballers......

Will hype derail the Limerick juggernaut? The best dressed team to win an All Ireland Hurling Final? The best dressed team to lose an All Ireland Hurling Final?
Limerick supporters are supremely confident that their team can out muscle Kilkenny. Confidence is at an all time high. Much is made of the fact that the Shannonsiders got the better of Waterford in the physical stakes. However this was a physically drained Decies side.
The Cats are themselves a physically powerful side with greater skill levels than Limerick. Any attempt by Limerick to over engage in the physical will result in disaster.
The Cats- freed from the burden of too much hype- will fancy their chances.

Ireland-Brendan Howlin not to run for Labour Party leadership

Brendan Howlin's decision not to run is somewhat surprising. He is on the left wing of the party and yet is seen as close to FF. This is a major disadvantage for aspiring candidates. He is especially remembered for his comments in relation to the Mullingar Accord. He said that he did not wish for Labour to become cheer leaders for Enda. He was nailing his colours to the FF coalition mast.
The decision of Michael D Higgins-also on the left wing of the party- to support Eamon Gilmore was a major blow for Howlin. At this stage there appears to be a groundswell of support towards Eamon Gilmore. Howlin detected this and opted out. A third failure to secure the leadership would be unthinkable.
His position as Leas Ceann Comhairle would be an issue in the course of the campaign if he failed to resign. In such an event he would then be seen as hedging his bets.
Obviously a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Afghanistan-Talks to resume on the release of S. Korean hostages

The Taliban seized these Christian hostages on July 19th 2007. The terrorists wish to secure the release of insurgent prisoners held in Afghan jails. They have already murdered two hostages and released two others. The hostages are the meat in the sandwich between the Afghan government and the terrorists. These hostages are under the most extreme psychological pressure. Not one Arab government has taken this crisis seriously. Presumably as far as Arab politicians in the Middle East are concerned it is reasonable to murder Christian hostages or iltreat them. The Saudis are mainly Sunnis as are the Taliban. They could set up channels of communication with the Taliban.

Zabeehullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told The Korea Times that the militants were ready for the next phase of talks to amicably resolve the issue. However, he said, their demands will remain the same and the Korean side should assure them that they will not stick to their stance of being unable to put pressure on the Afghan government.Mujahid denied that there had been any mediation by the Saudi Arabian government, however, he said they would not reject any such move for a peaceful resolution of the problem. ........

Without Saudi intervention the prospects for a civilised resolution of the crisis look grim. The Taliban are obviously encouraged by the the indifference of Arab politicians. Spineless Arab politicians -by their inactivity-have given carte blanche to the terrorists. Shame on them.

Sunday Business Post-McGurk argues for FF-Labour Coalition

Tom McGurk is quite critical of Pat Rabbitte under the heading "Rabbitte's long march has come to an inglorious end".This article is factually incorrect in a number of respects.

  • He states that "Since the foundation of the state, Fianna Fail has been seen by the electorate-time after time-as the natural party of government. This is factually incorrect. Cumann na nGaedhael (ancestors of FG) was the natural party of government from 1923-1932. FF was founded in 1926. It attained power in 1932.

  • Referring to the Labour party he states that "the result was catastrophic for the party,with Labour barely increasing its vote at all. In fact the ultimate political achievement of Rabbitte' devotion to the pact was to drag FG back from the point of extinction." This is utter nonsense. In the 2002 General Election FG secured 22% of the vote. That was not extinction. It still had a huge organisation after the 2002 General Election. How does McGurk explain the strong FG performance in the Local Elections in 2004? It got within a handful of seats of FF. It won most seats in the 2004 European Elections. This was prior to the Mullingar Accord. In the 2007 General Election there were no huge seat losses for Labour. So how was the election catastrophic for Labour?

Tom's prefererence is for a Drumcondra Accord whereby Labour would prop up Bertie Aherne.

In 1932 Labour propped up the minority FF Government. By so doing it ceded much working class support to FF. It has never recovered this vote.

In coalition with FF under Albert Reynolds Labour agreed to a tax amnesty. This cost Labour dearly. FF is Labour's greatest enemy and competitor for working class support. FF would like to kill Labour with kindness.

Tom McGurk knows that the Greens may be decimated in the 2012 General Election. If this comes to pass FF will need another coalition partner. In Tom's ideal world this will be an FF-Labour coalition. I suspect that he desires an FF led Government in perpetuity.

The Mullingar Accord-the reality

Several journalists have incorrectly claimed that Labours failure to make seat gains in the 2007 General Election sprung from the Mullingar Accord. One of these is Kevin Rafter in today's Sunday Tribune who states:
The one significant difference, however, is that Fine Gael has made it out of the doldrums and, largely thanks to the Mullingar Accord, the seat gap between Labour and Fine Gael has widened once more. The opportunity for Labour after 2002 was to focus not on whether it ever went into government with Fianna Fail but rather on replacing Fine Gael as the second largest party in the state. Fine Gael was in such a mess after 2002 that Labour could have achieved a historic realignment in the Irish party system.....
This analysis is fatally flawed on a number of counts
  • When FG bombed in the 2002 General Election it lost 20% of its vote. Much of this scattered to Independents. Some FG voters switched to the PDs to prevent an overall majority for FF. In 2002 Labour adopted a go it alone strategy. Yet the lost FG votes did not go to Labour. These FG votes were largely conservative and were on loan to Independents and PDs. Labours go it alone strategy also failed.
  • FG conservative voters would not give first preferences to Labour. If Labour were to replace FG it had its chance in 2002. That was its chance for realignment. It was never on.
  • When Enda Kenny assumed the leadership of FG he reorganised the party from top to bottom. The fruits of this reorganisation were seen in the excellent local election results of 2004 where FG got within a handful of seats of FF. FG won most seats in the Euro Elections. This was prior to the Mullingar Accord. The Mullingar Accord evolved from a belief after the 2004 Euro and Local Elections that FG and Labour together could replace the FF-PD coalition. The Mullingar Accord did not exist at the time of the Euro and Local Elections.
  • Kevin Rafter and others fail to realise that there is a conservative block of voters which votes FG and will not switch to Labour to facilitate a realignment. It is by ideology conservative. It largely distrusts FF. It may go on loan from time to time to Independents and smaller parties. It eventually returns.
  • Labours organisational problems in constituencies such as Tipperary South and South Kerry cost it vital seats. The Mullingar Accord did not prevent the election of new TDs such as Sean Sherlock.
  • FF is Labours greatest enemy as it competes strongly and successfully for the working class votes.

To summaries: Labours difficulties stem not from the Mullingar Accord but from the conservative nature of the Irish electorate and organisational difficulties in several constituencies. When Labour adopted a go it alone position in 2002 it also failed to make a big breakthrough.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Rugby Union-Exodus of top players from Southern hemisphere

In Ireland at present most of the attention is on the build up to the World Cup. Supporters are concerned at the drop in form of some key Irish players.

However in the aftermath of the World Cup the exodus of key New Zealand, South African and Australian Rugby Union players to British and French clubs will have a major impact especially on Heineken Cup matches.

Traditionally Southern Hemisphere players moving north were in their twilight years. The NZRU and the South African Rugby Union cannot match the money on offer at English and French clubs so younger players are heading north. Some of the key NZ players moving north include Leicester-bound Aaron Mauger who is only 26, Newcastle recruit Carl Hayman is 27, Saracens signing Chris Jack is 28 and even Agen-bound Byron Kelleher is only 30. Sam Tuitupou is joining Worcester, while 27-year-old prop Clarke Dermody (three caps) is joining London Irish. Paul Tito is joining Bristol. All Blacks back Luke McAlister has signed a two-year- contract with English Premiership club Sale. Springboks including lock Victor Matfield and hooker Gary Botha, and other players including props Danie Thiart, Ruan Vermeulen and Wessel Roux and centre Frikkie Welsh are also moving overseas.

How can Munster, Leinster and Ulster hope to compete against the financial might of the large British and French clubs? This has grave implications for the prospects of the Irish sides in the European Cup. So far there has been little comment in Ireland on these signings.

Facebook the hip place for young US voters

Interesting article in :
Nineteen-year-old L.J. Tsunis has some advice for his favorite presidential candidate: start hanging out on Facebook already.
"Rudy Giuliani is absolutely making a big mistake by not being active on Facebook," Tsunis told Reuters in a message posted through the popular social-networking site.
"Millions of votes could be had on here that may swing the election one way or the other."
Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City and the Republican front-runner in many opinion polls, is the only candidate for the November 2008 presidential race who has not gotten the message.
Every other major player has set up shop on the site, which draws millions of predominantly young users looking to flirt, make friends and goof off.....................

Friday, August 24, 2007

US-Outcry at level of illegal immigrant crime

More than 30 major U.S. cities designate themselves "sanctuary cities" for illegal immigrants. Sanctuary city laws prevent local law enforcement from co-operating with federal officials on immigration matters. This is in direct contravention of federal guidelines. There is grave disquiet at the level of crime committed by illegals. Middle America feels threatened. This is already a major issue in the race for the Republican Party nomination. Democrats like Hillary Clinton -who wish to hold on to the Hispanic vote- have dodged the issue. However it will not go away. Momentum is building for tougher measures against illegals.
In the article Newark -- A Sanctuary City for Murderers we have a graphic illustration of the problem. Here is a segment of an article which should be compulsive reading for those who wish to take a soft line on the issue:

Unfortunately, there was one grim statistic in Newark that caught up to these three promising youths: A stubbornly high murder rate that's three times that of New York City.
One night in early August, the trio, along with another friend, Natasha Aerial, were listening to music and joking around in a school playground behind a local elementary school when a group of men approached them. Nobody knows exactly what happened next, but within minutes, and after an apparent struggle, all four teens had been lined up against a brick wall, forced to kneel and shot in the back of the head. Only Natasha Aerial survived.

Within days of the grisly attacks, 28-year-old Jose Carranza turned himself in to police. Carranza was indicted by grand juries in New Jersey twice this year-in April on aggravated assault and weapons charges and in July on 31 counts that included aggravated sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl. Another suspect, Ro dolfo Antonio Godinez Gomez,24, has a rap sheet that includes robbery, assault and weapons arrests. He was caught just days ago in the Washington, D.C. area. Four other arrests have been made in the case. ......................

According to US Congressman Steve King : What would that May 1st look like without illegal immigration? There would be no one to smuggle across our southern border the heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines that plague the United States, reducing the U.S. supply of meth that day by 80%. The lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day. Another 13 Americans would survive who are otherwise killed each day by uninsured drunk driving illegals. Our hospital emergency rooms would not be flooded with everything from gunshot wounds, to anchor babies, to imported diseases to hangnails, giving American citizens the day off from standing in line behind illegals. Eight American children would not suffer the horror as a victim of a sex crime.
On the negative side, the price of a pound of tomatoes might go up from $0.79 to $0.80. That is unless you have a garden. But I’m guessing that the Mexican drug lords are not taking May 1st off. Neither will the 11,000 illegal invaders that pour over our border every other day of the year. It is a safe bet that the U.S. Border Patrol will have a very busy “Nothing Gringo Day.”

Punches fly at Bolivian parliament!

RTE and the Labour Party leadership

Listening to David McCullough last night on RTE 1 TV he argued that FG had reason to be grateful to Pat Rabbitte. The implication being that the FG seat gains resulted from the Mullingar Accord.

As I have already argued the seat gains were a bounce back from the freak FG result in 2002. FG reorganised in the wake of the 2002 disaster. Enda Kenny played a major role in this.
FG did exceptionally well in the Local Elections of 2004 and won most seats in the Euro elections. This was prior to the Mullingar Accord.

Tom McGurk once more focussed on the Mullingar Accord. His argument was that it ruled out the possibility of coalition with FF. Tom's emphasis is wrong.
Eoin O Murchu continuously argues for a Left Wing Alliance of Labour and Sinn Fein and the Socialist Party. Such an alliance is a non starter. The days of extreme left politics -throughout Europe- are dead and gone. Get used to it Eoin. They bring nothing but high taxation and economic stagnation.
Mary Ellen Symon argues from an Extreme Right Wing perspective. Again not satisfactory. She made one valid point in relation to Irish taxation. She referred to the high levels of indirect taxation and the problems posed for businesses.
Tommy Broughan appeared on Morning Ireland. Sounded like a man who wished to contest the leadership.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ireland-Who will be the next leader of the Labour Party?

There are at least six possible candidates. Eamonn Gilmore is intellectually very strong and has a powerful grasp of detail. He is definitely a front runner.

Brendan Howlin is enthusiastic and quite able. However he is Leas Ceann Comhairle. He will probably run. He prefers coalition with FF. The next General Election is due in 2012 by which time people will be sufficiently tired of FF to throw that party out of power. Howlin may not be the right leader on that account.

Joan Burton Liz McManus and Roisin Shorthall may also stand. Though formidable politicians it is doubtful if any one of the three would have the depth of support necessary to win.

Finally Willie Penrose has a powerful organisation in the Longford-Westmeath constituency. If he decides not to stand he could be a king maker.

At this juncture it appears that Gilmore(Democratic Left) and Howlin (Old Labour) will be the front runners.

Ireland-Resignation of Pat Rabbitte as Labour Party leader

The resignation of Pat Rabbitte is a devastating blow for the Labour Party. Articulate highly intelligent and well briefed Rabbitte was a colossus. His rapier like interventions in debates were a joy to behold.

A minority within the Labour Party never really accepted the Mullingar Accord. Some elements within Labour unfairly blamed him for the failure of the party to make large seat gains. Their analysis is fatally flawed.

Labours failure to make inroads resulted not from its electoral strategy but rather from a combination of events in the final week of the campaign. Michael McDowell destroyed the PDs as a meaningful force in Irish politics but he damaged the prospects of left wing parties with scare tactics in the course of the RTE debate. Also Eoghan Harris and John Waters on the Late Late consolidated the doubts in the minds of a section of the electorate. Much of what Harris claimed was factually incorrect. But he got away with it.

Much is made of the fact that FG made large gains. This was inevitable because the real level of support for FG is in the 50 to 55 seat zone. The 2002 result for FG was a freak. FG mainly won back seats that it had lost through destroying the PDs. The FG surge was not at the expense of Labour.

Labour has had major competition on the Left from the Greens Sinn Fein and the Socialist Party. This has served to depress its vote. Now that the Greens have vacated the opposition benches there is potential for FG and Labour to mop up the large number of disaffected Green votes.

Organisationally Labour has been weak in key constituencies.This has cost the party dearly.

Tommy Broughan was a critic of the Mullingar Accord. He seems to forget that Labour adopted a go it alone strategy in 2002. Where were the large seat gains?

It is probable that FG and Labour will make gains in the 2012 General Election. Notwithstanding the economic boom and SSIA money FF had a close call. Economic circumstances in 2012 are unlikely to be as favourable for the outgoing government.

Tommy Broughan should have the courage of his convictions and put his name forward in the leadership election.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

US-Romney targets illegal immigrants

It is estimated that there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the US. Concern has been growing amongst Middle America at the scale of the problem. This element of the electorate is likely to vote and is being targeted by the Republican Party.

There is fear that Al Qaeda can exploit weaknesses in border security along the Mexican and Canadian borders. Also some illegals have been convicted of very serious offences whilst others await trial. Conservatives such as Bill O 'Reilly and Michelle Malkin are to the fore in campaigns to end illegal immigration. This is developing into a major issue among Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. Fred Thompson -who is expected to enter the Republican race in September- is also a hawk on illegal immigration.

According to the Boston Herald - Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney criticizes "sanctuary cities" for illegal immigrants- and by implication Republican rival Rudy Giuliani - in a new radio ad.
"Immigration laws don’t work if they’re ignored. That’s the problem with cities like Newark, San Francisco and New York City that adopt sanctuary policies," an announcer says in the ad, which runs in New Hampshire and Iowa. "Sanctuary cities become magnets that encourage illegal immigration and undermine secure borders."
Romney and Giuliani have jabbed over illegal immigration in recent weeks. The former Massachusetts governor says Giuliani promoted New York as a haven for illegal immigrants when he was mayor. Giuliani aggressively denies it, insisting he cracked down on lawlessness of every kind..........

Vissarion claims to be the new Christ

Vissarion is a Russian mystic. He was born January 14, 1961. He founded and heads a religious sect known as the Church of the Last Testament with its head church in the Siberian Taiga.

He has around 4,000 followers in around thirty villages in the immediate vicinity of his base at Sun City. He has proclaimed himself a new Christ. The Russian Orthodox Church is most unhappy with the proliferation of new sects since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Vissarionite sect has assimilated many elements of Russian Orthodoxy Buddhism and Taoism and welded them to green values. Veganism is compulsory for all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Experts discuss the Iraq war

This morning on RTE Radio1 Tom McGurk discussed the Iraq war with Colonel Tim Collins, Tom Cloonan and Robert Fox.

All three are military experts. Robert Fox claimed that British military commanders are telling the Government that no more can be done in the area around Basra. He claims that a split is opening between Britain and the US on the issue.

Tom Cloonan argued that the real war should have been in Afghanistan. He stated that the devices used by the insurgents in the initial period were rudimentary. He described how Iranian military equipment is now being used against US and Iraqi forces. According to Tom Cloonan Iran wishes to extend its influence in Iraq.

He alleged that Israel had threatened the US that it would use tactical nuclear weapons against sites in Iran. So the US is caught between a rock and a hardplace. If the US withdraws Israel might launch a nuclear strike against Iran as it fears a possible nuclear attack. This would plunge the Middle East into a huge military conflagration and disrupt oil supplies. Middle East issues are more complex than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama realise. The presence of US forces in nearby Iraq probably helps to forestall the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran.

Colonel Tim Collins argued that Britain would be better off cutting its losses and getting out.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that there are major separatist tendencies and linguistic differences within Iran. Iran is anything but stable. The US must never invade Iran.

The US and Britain must work toward withdrawal from Iraq. However the simplistic approach being adopted by Democrats in the US would lead to disaster. The US and Britain cannot afford to suffer an ignominious defeat. If such were to occur Islamic terrorists would be encouraged to step up attacks on the West. The US erred in the first place by invading Iraq however Israel had previously threatened to use nuclear weapons against Iraq also. Did this spur the invasion of Iraq? If the Republican party is to retain the Presidency a coherent withdrawal strategy must be put in place.

The partition of Iraq looks inevitable. Only a tyrant could hold Kurds ,Shiias and Sunnis together.

Australia- attractive destination for Irish emigrants

For some time there has been anecdotal evidence that the rate of emigration from Ireland to Australia has accelerated. This is certainly the case in Munster. Often the young Irish emigrants remain for just 12 months. However there is increasing demand for permanent residency. An article in the Irish Independent under the heading Mass exodus Down Under confirms this:
IRELAND is facing a mass exodus of people looking to escape the crime and grime of modern living -- and the slowing construction industry.
Figures show that up to 700 skilled workers a month are seeking visas to move Down Under, with many applicants bringing their families as well.
Barry Dowling of, which helps workers with the paperwork needed, said workers are packing up every day of the week and they have seen the numbers jump by 30% in the past year as more and more tradespeople opt for a better quality of life.
Australia is going through a boom period, but has a dearth of professionals, which it is trying to shore up with workers from abroad............................

Food pigments stop cancer in its tracts

NATURAL pigments that give certain fruit and vegetables a rich red, purple or blue colour act as powerful anti-cancer agents, according to a study by American scientists.

The compounds, found in foods such as eggplants, red cabbage, elderberries and bilberries, restricted the growth of cancer cells and in some cases killed them off entirely, leaving healthy cells unharmed.......

Sydney Morning Herald

Taliban in Fresh Threat to Korean Hostages' Lives

According to Digital Chosunilbo Taliban kidnappers have declared that negotiations with the Korean government for the release of 19 Koreans held in Afghanistan have collapsed. Some reports said the Taliban threatened to kill one or two more hostages unless Korea makes a genuine offer by Monday..........................
This hostage crisis drags on and on. The Taliban raise hopes and then dash them. The terrorists are guilty of the most horrific psychological torture. The world media with a few honourable exceptions has continued to ignore the crisis. Where is the public outcry? Once more it is time to pose the question: When will Saudi Arabia intervene? Other Arab Governments are silent. Why? When will the world media give this crisis the attention it deserves?

Monday, August 20, 2007

George W Bush tackles border security

President George W. Bush travels today to Quebec for talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon. The talks will be dominated by border security issues and speeding commercial traffic between the trading partners.
This message is music to the ears of GOP supporters. Border security will be a major issue in the Presidential Election campaign in 2008.

It is glaringly obvious that there are numerous deficiencies in security especially on the Mexican border. A major tightening is a sine qua non if another terrorist attack is to be avoided. Along the Mexican border Al Qaeda terrorists can infiltrate and assume Hispanic identities. President George W Bush must tighten security whilst reassuring law abiding Hispanics. The Hispanic vote will be crucial in 2008.

Ireland - Tension between media and sports people

The Joe Duffy Show -hosted today by Damian O'Reilly featured a heated debate on media treatment of sports people. Babs Keating -ex Tipperary hurling manager- launched a slashing attack on his critics some of whom he named. Verbal punches were traded with one of these journalists. Babs was careful to name prominent journalists whom he considered fair.

The parent of one player alleged that one journalist was engaging in a personalised campaign against her son.

Jessica Kuerten was criticised for comments which she made to an RTE journalist.

There is increasing tension between some GAA players and managers on the one hand and journalists on the other hand. GAA players as amateurs sometimes feel that they are subjected to criticism- by journalists- which should only be meted out to professionals. Journalists will argue that they are objective in their comments.
Tension between both groups is at an all time high. They are both interdependent. Possibly some journalists could temper their comments a little whilst each county team should have a PRO to liaise with journalists. That would make their task easier.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Amnesty International decides to support abortion and betray its ideals

International human rights organisation Amnesty International-at a meeting in Mexico- has confirmed its controversial decision to back abortion in some circumstances, replacing its previous policy of neutrality. It has been hijacked by the pro abortion lobby.

The Catholic Church has urged Catholic organisations worldwide to withdraw their support from Amnesty International.

It has shamefully betrayed the ideals of its founder Peter Benenson who was a Roman Catholic and strongly opposed to abortion. This decision is strongly opposed by many Protestants also- especially in the US.

This warped decision deprives the unborn child of its human right to live. A major split in the organisation is inevitable. In Australia large numbers of Catholics are lining up to resign. Its membership will be decimated in Ireland. It is time for a new human rights organisation similar to Amnesty International but opposed to abortion. It should be called New Amnesty International.

O'Cuiv denies rebellion report

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív has strongly rejected reports that he has "rebelled" against the Cabinet position on Aer Lingus' decision to axe the Shannon - Heathrow link.
Speaking on RTÉ , Mr Ó Cuív rejected any suggestion that he or the Government would intervene to reverse the airline's decision.

FF politicians will huff and puff. In the Mid West it is necessary to be seen to oppose the Aer Lingus decision for electoral reasons. However there will be no defections. Efforts will be made to manage the opposition and eventually to divert it into a cul-de-sac. As far as FF is concerned all will be forgotten by the 2012 General Election.
Can the peoples alliance maintain the momentum and stampede the Government into a volte- face?

Renee Fleming-America's Beautiful Voice

Renee Fleming is among the most widely admired American singers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. She is generally considered to be one of the world's leading lyric sopranos.

She is a much sought-after performer in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world. She is known as "America's Beautiful Voice". Unfortunately she is not very well known in Ireland. Her CD Sacred Songs is really special.

View her website: Renee Fleming

FF rebellion splits cabinet?

According to the Sunday Independent Eamonn O Cuiv Willie O'Dea and John Gormley are opposed to the axing of the Shannon to Heathrow route. W O'Dea and E O'Cuiv (left) voted for privatisation. They now wish to have their cake and eat it.

Neither is prepared to resign from Government. Yet each seeks to distance himself from its decisions whilst enjoying the perks of office. Voters in the West and Mid West will not be fooled.

Acting simultaneously as Government and opposition has worked in the past. However now that peoples jobs are on the line political gymnastics will not suffice to mollify them.

If the Government fails to facilitate the overturn of this disastrous decision at the egm Willie O'Dea and Eamonn O'Cuiv will lose all credibility if they fail to resign.

A threat by FF TDs in the Mid West to vote in block against the Government-in a vote of no confidence -would quickly concentrate minds. Of course it would have to be for real. It will never happen. Therein lies the weakness of the threats and criticism from West and Mid West Fianna Failers. Willie O'Dea and Eamonn O'Cuiv would never dare to establish an Independent FF. Their actions will never become a de facto revolt. They are loyal party men.

Jackie Healy Rae is strangely quiet. Will he continue to support the Government in the event of a failure to overturn the decision? Of course he will.

Can people power force a government u-turn? The Government just might take fright and change its stance if the campaign of resistance continues to intensify.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Persecution of North Korean Christians-US must act

North Korea may be cooperating with U.N. experts supervising the shutdown of its plutonium-producing reactor however it is mercilessly persecuting Christians. Kim Jong Il is determined to exterminate Christianity. The world stands idly by.

Close to 100,000 Christians are incarcerated in prison camps, enduring regular torture. Executions of Christians are common place.

Christian prisoners are tortured with electrical shocks. This often results in death. Others are sent into solitary confinement in small containers. These containers are so cramped that permanent paralysis of the legs is the inevitable result . Eight Christians working in a prison smelting factory were murdered when molten iron was poured onto them, one by one, for refusing to deny their faith.
In one prison, a warden hung a Christian man upside down and ordered him to deny his beliefs. He refused so the warden stabbed him and pushed him to the ground. 6,000 prisoners were ordered to trample him to death. Prison cells are rat infested. Christian prisoners are regularly left naked and so starved that they are reduced to eating rats raw in their prison cells .

In some cases Christians are crushed with steamrollers and used as human fertilizer while newborn babies are murdered because their parents are Christians.

Women prisoners are regularly raped and beaten and Christian children are drowned.

The US and other Western powers must now exert the maximum level of pressure on the barbaric and satanic North Korean regime to end persecutions of Christians. The US has the capacity to cripple this rogue regime if it persists in torture of Christians. It is now time for George W Bush to take the initiative on this issue.

Hurling-Babs Keating and Tony Considine lash critics

There were interesting comments from ex hurling managers Tony Considine and Babs Keating on RTE radio this morning. In a riveting interview with Rachael English both were quite trenchant in their comments.

Tony Considine said “I had not just to be careful of the opposition…..I had to watch my back.” Considine was deposed as manager of Clare at a County Board meeting this week on a vote of 45 to 6. He stated that delegates were instructed on how to vote. There were major differences between Tony Considine and a senior official on the Clare Co. Board. He has not been informed officially of his removal. The news was broken to him by a journalist.
Babs Keating outlined the long hours involved. He regularly left Dublin at 3/4 o’clock and arrived home after training at 11.30/12.30. He attended club matches and U-21 games also in Tipperary. He said “I have never been as low as I have been in the last 3/4 weeks.” Apparently there has been strong criticism of Babs and his fellow selectors. He said that they were criticised by 4/5 journalists who would not know one end of a hurley from the other. He did not blame all journalists . He praised Vincent Hogan.
Both managers stated categorically that they received expenses only. Tony Considine argued for professionalism.
John Maughan and Tommy Lyons later joined the debate.

Babs Keating once stated that a kick in the backside is not far from a pat in the back. How true.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Afghanistan-Two Korean hostages released by the Taliban return home

By Jack Kim SEOUL, Aug 17 -Reuters : "Two weary-looking South Koreans held hostage for about a month by the Taliban in Afghanistan returned home on Friday, hoping for the safe return of 19 others who remain captive.

The Taliban freed the two women on Monday, the first captives to be released since insurgents seized 23 Koreans from a bus in Ghazni province on the main road south from the capital Kabul last month."I only hope for the release of the others," Kim Ji-na, a 32-year-old animation instructor, said just after arriving at Incheon airport, which serves Seoul.Looking tense and tired, and with their heads held low, the two showed no signs of joy or relief......"

Unfortunately this hostage crisis drags on and on. Last weekend it appeared that the Taliban were about to release all remaining hostages having already murdered two of the original 23 seized. The Taliban have threatened to kill the hostages, most of whom are young women, if their demand to free insurgent prisoners is not met. The Afghan Government has steadfastly refuse exchange prisoners for the hostages.
Largely the world stands by. There is very little coverage on the world media with some honourable exceptions. Is it not time for Saudi Arabia to use its influence to secure the release of the hostages? The Saudis and Taliban are mainly Sunni Moslems.

Ireland-Willie O'Dea backs down on Shannon issue.

Willie O'Dea reminds me of the Grand Old Duke of York. He marched them up to the top of the hill and he marched them down again. Mr O'Dea said he would prefer that airline management would change its decision before what he called 'the armageddon situation' of an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders.
Over the last forty eight hours Willie's spin machine has been in overdrive. An all action Minister will stop at nothing to restore the Shannon to Heathrow route.
Mr Mannion, who met with Defence Minister Willie O'Dea this morning told Shannon politicians and business leaders that the decision to cut Heathrow services will not be changed.

Willie O'Dea has now announced that he has no intention of resigning from the cabinet. If FF TDs in the Mid West were really serious about protecting the Shannon to Heathrow route, they would band together as a group and issue an ultimatum to the Government. Restore the route or we will vote against the Government in a no confidence motion. And they would actually mean it. This would avert armageddon. Their bluff has been called by the Government. They have been hung out to dry.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

US-Overkill on illegal immigration could cost GOP the Presidency

According to the Washington Times Mitt Romney and Mayor Giuliani are adopting a very tough stance on illegal immigration. Exchanges are becoming increasingly sharp. It is time for Republican candidates to take stock.

"Two other potential Republican candidates, former Sen. Fred Thompson and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, also have stepped up their emphasis on the issue. Mr. Thompson penned a Web column calling for stricter enforcement, and Mr. Gingrich tossed his prepared speech to the Iowa Republican straw poll this weekend to instead deliver remarks calling on the president to force through Congress a bill to end sanctuary cities that protect illegal aliens.
The Republican Party's national chairman scolded his party's two top presidential candidates this week for their tough stance on illegal immigration, even as both men moved to try to one-up each other in calling for stricter enforcement.
Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, President Bush's handpicked choice for party chairman, chided former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani for opposing and mischaracterizing the Senate immigration bill Mr. Martinez helped craft.
"It's about leading on the tough issues," Mr. Martinez told the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce in comments first reported in yesterday's St. Petersburg Times. "It was easy to say, 'This wasn't good enough, this isn't right, I don't agree with Martinez.' ... But at the end of the day, what is your answer? How would you solve this?"

It is necessary for the US to stamp out illegal immigration. Unprotected borders provide a gateway not just for poor Latinos but also for terrorists. Terrorists from countries with known al-Qaeda connections are changing their Islamic surnames to Hispanic-sounding names and assuming false Hispanic identities. They are learning to speak Spanish and pretending to be Hispanic immigrants. GOP candidates are correct to emphasise the necessity to stamp out illegal immigration. However their tone is often too strident and can be interpreted by law abiding Hispanics as an attack on them. There are approximately 44 million Hispanics in the US. This is a powerful voting block. The GOP must win a large slice of this support. GOP candidates must be cognisant of the fact that it is pointless winning the nomination on the illegal immigration issue if the whole Hispanic community is galvanised to support Hillary Clinton.

Ireland-FF difficulties on Shannon issue

More than one hundred FF politicians including Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea attended a meeting at Shannon last night to protest at the Aer Lingus decision to axe the Shannon to Heathrow route.
Interesting questions arise (1) Where were all these politicians when the FF/PD Government privatised Aer Lingus? Not one FF TD voted against privatisation.

(2) How many FF TDs will resign from the party and actually vote to bring down the Government on this issue? Answer none.
This decision of Aer Lingus is the inevitable consequence of privatisation. Willie O’Dea is hoist by his own petard. Communities in the Mid West can see through the empty posturing. Willie amongst others voted for privatisation. Now that the fat is in the fire he is opposed to the inevitable consequences of his vote. No better man than Willie to face east and west simultaneously.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rugby Union-World Cup Musings

The Irish team -to play Bayonne-announced by Eddie O Sullivan contains no great surprises.
Ireland: 15 Girvan Dempsey, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Denis Hickie, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Denis Leamy, 7 Neil Best, 6 Simon Easterby, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Hayes, 2 Rory Best, 1 Marcus Horan. Replacements: 16 Frankie Sheahan, 17 Bryan Young, 18 Malcolm O'Kelly, 19 Alan Quinlan, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Paddy Wallace, 22 Geordan Murphy.

The loss of Shane Horgan is a severe blow. Hopefully he can play against Argentina and France in the Group of Death. However I have grave doubts that this injury can withstand the heat of battle. Ireland cannot afford the loss of key players. The ultimate nightmare would be the loss of Ronan O'Gara.

France team manager Jo Maso has strongly defended his pack ahead of the return match against England this weekend. Les Bleus came away from Twickenham on Saturday with a hard-fought 21-15 victory. However England dominated in the line-out and scrums for much of the game.

England probably lack sufficient flair to win the World Cup. However too much cannot be written into the outcome of pre World Cup tests. Players must keep something in reserve for "the real thing". Teams will not demonstrate key moves to opponents.

On balance France is a better bet to win the World Cup than England. French forward power will provide the platform for a dazzling back division to launch a ferocious assault on the Championship. Also home support will drive the French players to greater heights.

Ireland cannot expect realistically to win the World Cup. There is very little cover for players in key positions such as prop and out-half.
It is highly unlikely that Ireland can dominate either France or Argentina in the scrums. Can Ireland emerge with a victory over France or Argentina and escape from The Group of Death to reach the quarter finals?
South Africa scored fifteen tries in their 105-13 victory over Namibia in their RWC warm-up match at Newlands on Wednesday with flanks Juan Smith and Schalk Burger both getting hat-tricks. The Springboks rested most of their key players during the Tri Nations Championship. They fancy their chances. They fear no body. They are dark horses.

Australian preparation is second to none. Nothing is left to chance. However the Australian pack is the Achilles heel of the team. The Wallabies back division has skill power and flair in abundance. The Aussies has mastered the technique of living off scraps and winning. This may not be sufficient on this occasion.

New Zealand is the team of all talents. The All Black selectors rested key players during the Tri Nations Championship. However there is a huge weight of expectation on the players at home. The fact that anything up to eight of the players intend to play for French and English club teams -in the aftermath of the World Cup- may be a distraction.

Hillary's Records as First Lady Sealed Until After '08 Elections

Hillary Clinton's records as first lady, which are currently being held at her husband's presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., will remain sealed until after the 2008 election.The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday the records - calendars, appointment logs and memos - are in the custody of federal archivists. Some 2 million pages of documents are being held at the library.Though a wealth of documents regarding Clinton's helmsmanship of a health care task force from 1993-94 have been released, more than a 1,000 other pages related to her work on the panel remain concealed.The Times said the records must remain sequestered under the Presidential Records Act because they contain confidential information and consultations from staffers and others involved in the health care task force.........

In 1993, the President appointed his wife to head and be the chairperson of the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. From this evolved the Clinton Health Care Plan. The plan was quickly derided as "Hillarycare" by its opponents, and did not receive enough support for a floor vote in either the House or the Senate, although both chambers were controlled by Democrats. The proposal was dropped in 1994. Republicans made the Clinton health care plan a major campaign issue of the 1994 midterm elections. Republicans won control of both houses.

Luckily for Hillary Clinton key documentation from that period will not be open to public and political scrutiny until after the Presidential Election. Republicans believe that these documents would provide sufficient ammunition to seriously dent her campaign. Many GOP supporters suspect that the documentation would prove conclusively that Hillary was incompetent and has extreme left tendencies. It is probable that disclosure would destroy her prospects of election. Interesting to see her benefiting from this whilst she proclaims regularly the necessity for transparency and accountability in politics. "Hillarycare" will undoubtedly surface in the course of the campaign.

In summary full disclosure of documents is the exocet which would destroy the Clinton campaign ship.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

US-How demographic changes may influence outcome of Presidential Election

Major changes are occurring in the demographic structure of the US. There were 44.3 million Hispanics in the United States as of July 1, 2006. This represents 14.8 percent of the population. They are the fastest growing ethnic group, accounting for about half the growth of population during the previous year -- 1.4 million out of a total increase of 2.9 million.
African -Americans are now the second-largest minority group in America with a population of 40.2 million.
Both ethnic groups will exercise a major influence on the outcome of the Presidential Election of 2008. The majority of Hispanics and African-Americans are leaning towards the Democrats . This presents the GOP with a major problem. A minority of Hispanics can be relied to vote for the GOP. This group is conservative on social issues. However the majority view the GOP as largely hostile on the immigration issue. Sons and daughters-of illegals-born in the US are entitled to vote.
The Republican Party should not concede these ethnic groups to the Democrats. The GOP must make meaningful gestures to both groups before it is too late. Otherwise Hillary Clinton will be elected President.

Ireland-O'Dowd launches blistering attack on Government

Fine Gael Front Bencher, Fergus O'Dowd TD has today (Tuesday) condemned plans by the Health Minister, Mary Harney, to allow the HSE to retain 25% of the interest earned on the accounts of nursing home patients.

Deputy O'Dowd said that the new regulation was unjustifiable and that the Minister was trying to sneak the measure through.
"This is yet another stealth tax on the elderly and the Minister is making the announcement in the summer months to try and sneak it through without due attention. The fact is that when the Minister outlined her plans for funding nursing home care late last year this measure was not included; to introduce it now is completely unjustifiable.
"Fianna Fáil and the PDs have a dismal track record when it comes to the elderly and bringing in this new regulation is just the latest Government assault on nursing home patients.
"This comes in the same week as we learn that less than half of those entitled to refunds as a result of illegal nursing home charges have submitted applications and less than a fifth of those who have applied have had their claims settled.
"Furthermore, almost two and a half years after the Leas Cross scandal, national quality standards for nursing homes are still only in their draft stage.
"This attempt to sneak through a new stealth tax on the elderly during the summer period suggests that the FF-PD-Green-Ind Government is set to perpetuate the unfairness of its predecessor. Fine Gael opposes the introduction of this regulation and is calling on the Minister to withdraw it."

Has the Government learned nothing? Increasingly it appears to be at war with the elderly. When Charlie McCreevy was Minister for Finance the blame could conveniently be laid at his door. McCreevy is gone but the meanness and pettiness continues. De Valera would turn in his grave. Per capita we are one of the richest countries in the world. This penny pinching at the expense of the elderly is unbecoming of a civilised society. Rescind this decision immediately.

Well done to Fergus O'Dowd on exposing this unfair imposition on the elderly.

Monday, August 13, 2007

US-Republican Party field is overcrowded.

The battle for the Republican party nomination is wide open. New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Senator John McCain and former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee are acknowledged as strong contenders.

However the field appears somewhat overcrowded. Mitt Romney buoyed by a strong performance in the Iowa straw poll has the financial resources-estimated to be worth over $200 million dollars- to make an impact. Mike Huckabee has now come to the forefront after a strong performance in the Iowa straw polls. Newt Gingrich may enter the race in October. No clear front runner has emerged. Many Republican voters are not satisfied with the current group of candidates. Social conservative voters in particular are looking for a true conservative in the tradition of former President Ronald Reagan.