Blogger down for 36 hours but will be back to normal soon

first_imgIf you’re one of the many people that uses Blogger, a free blogging service owned by Google, you may have noticed some issues with your blog lately – namely, that you can’t update it. Blogger users have been locked out of their blogs since Wednesday night when a behind-the-scenes maintenance update went wrong.Users were informed on Monday that there would be an outage on Wednesday at 10 p.m. PST for an hour-long maintenance update. However, at 11 p.m., Blogger wasn’t back up. Blogger users were unable to update their blogs, and haven’t been able to for about 36 hours. Site content has been put into read-only mode, which means visitors can still come to the blog and read posts, but bloggers just can’t add any new material.AdChoices广告As if that wasn’t bad enough, any posts that were added after 7:37 a.m. PST on Wednesday have been removed. We’re not sure if the content is just missing temporarily, or if the content is gone forever. We’re hoping it’s not the latter.As those suffering from the PSN outage know, there’s nothing worse than being left in the dark wondering when the service will be back up. Google updated its Blogger Status blog at 6:07 a.m. PST Friday saying it has started restoring the posts that were temporarily removed.The company said it expects Blogger to be “back to normal soon.” The Blogger help forum confirmed that the problem originated from the scheduled maintenance release from May 11 and said its engineers are working to get the service back to normal.Owned and operated by Google since 2003, Blogger is mostly used as a personal blog platform. However, Google uses it as its blogging platform for its Gmail and YouTube official blogs among others. This means that if any of these popular services have announced news in the last 36 hours or so, Google has been unable to blog about it.Read more at Blogger Status, via ZDNetlast_img read more

Apollo 17 astronaut proposes dismantling NASA

first_imgA former senator is proposing a dramatic change in the direction of national space policy that would also include the dismantling of NASA.The proposal comes from a senator who served one term in the mid-70’s, but his resume before being elected gives his proposal a bit more credence due to the fact he was an astronaut. In fact, Harrison Schmitt was one of the first scientist-astronauts at NASA in 1965. He went on to join the crew of the last lunar mission, Apollo 17, and became the first geologist and the second to last man to ever walk on the Moon.AdChoices广告Schmitt has proposed, via, that beginning with the next elected President in 2013 we should start a new space policy from scratch. What Schmitt proposes is that NASA should sunset as an agency two years after the International Space Station (ISS) de-orbits in the next 10 to 15 years. In the meantime, many of NASA’s science activities can be folded into other existing and new agencies.Schmitt believes that NASA Space Science activities, including lunar and planetary exploration science as well as space-based astronomical observatories, should be moved into the National Science Foundation (NSF). NASA’s climate and other Earth science research would become a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As far as aeronautical research and technology goes, Schmitt wouldn’t merge that into an existing agency, instead using them to form a re-creation of the precursor to NASA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The NACA would manage Langley Research Center, Glenn Research Center, and Dryden Flight Research Center, and turn them into pure aeronautical research and technology laboratories. The Ames Research Center, which Schmitt believes is redundant, would be auctioned off to the highest bidder.In addition to the re-creation of the NACA, Schmitt also proposes the creation of the National Space Exploration Administration (NSEA, which would be responsible solely for the human exploration of deep space.Read more at AmericasUncommonSense.comBrian’s OpinionSchmitt and I are in full agreement in that a dramatic change in space policy needs to occur. Personally, I believe that NASA is in the midst of an identity crisis. During the era of the Space Shuttles we turned our back on establishing a permanent presence on the Moon in favor of near-Earth orbit missions including building the ISS. We have been so narrowly focused on that shortsighted goal that we now face the retirement of our Space Shuttle fleet and the reality of hitching rides with Russia to orbit.President George W. Bush attempted to expand our vision beyond Earth’s orbit back to the Moon only to have that mission nixed by President Obama who prefers we set our sights farther to include an asteroid and Mars. It seems to me it doesn’t really matter whether NASA or another agency begins work on the human exploration of deep space if the measure by which that occurs changes with every president being elected into office. I would propose that presidents no longer be able to set space policy. Instead, I believe space policy should be set by a bi-partisan commission with members voting for change and requiring a majority to get it. This would allow for some consistency in space policy by giving whatever agency is charged with carrying it out ample time to actually achieve its objectives.last_img read more

TMobile unveils new unlimited plans

first_imgWhile other carriers are killing their unlimited plans, T-Mobile today took the wraps off of it’s new “value” plan, which offers unlimited texts, unlimited voice and tiered 4G data at prices the company says are much less than their competitors. Part of the big news is that the plans are available to new and existing customers and can be paired with hardware payments if you choose.T-Mobile says that the data is “unlimited,” but what they mean is “unlimited up to your data cap,” after which you’ll get hit with overage fees. Regardless, the new plans can be used by individuals or families, and families can opt to share data or not all under the same plan.Additionally, you can combine the monthly plan payment with a interest-free payment towards the hardware you want to use, meaning you’re contract-free and paying for your hardware outright along with your monthly data plan. Alternatively, you can still use the plan to buy subsidized hardware and lock into a contract for a lower price on your smartphones.The new plans are optional, and both new and existing users can opt to sign on or stay on their current plans. The chart of pricing that T-Mobile published is based on the costs for their (and their competitors’) 2GB data plans, and shows that a customer on their new value plan can save up to $70-$80/month when compared to AT&T, Verizon Wireless, or Sprint.Consumers and analysts alike praised T-Mobile’s new plans. The problem though is that AT&T has an open bid to buy T-Mobile pending regulatory approval, and many people have already speculated that AT&T will shut the new plans down if they’re allowed to acquire the company. That remains to be seen, but AT&T’s data plans are very different, and largely more expensive than the new T-Mobile offering.via T-Mobilelast_img read more

Opera 12 brings big speed boost crushes network latency

first_imgIf you love an underdog, you’re probably very familiar with Opera. The company has been developing its innovative desktop and mobile web browsers in Oslo since 1996. Despite its struggles to compete with Firefox and Google Chrome for market share, Opera has gained a sizeable — and extremely devoted — following.In the latest update to Opera 12 — which is currently in the pre-alpha development phase — the company has delivered a substantial speed boost. It’s not one that you’ll notice on benchmarks, though Opera 12 does perform well there, too. On my Core i5 notebook, the Opera 12 snapshot managed scores that bested Google Chrome 12 and were mere percentage points behind Chrome 14.AdChoices广告Opera 12’s big speed improvement is something you’ll notice when you actually browse with it. By building in some latency-busting network tweaks, page load times in Opera 12 feel substantially faster. On the sites I tested, pages began loading the instant I finished clicking a link. It actually felt a lot like I was running on a much better link than my 5 meg DSL service. When combined with Opera’s recent improvements to the Presto rendering engine and its supercharged Carakan JavaScript engine, you’ve got the makings of a truly fast web browser.According to the Opera Desktop Blog, the network improvements will be most noticeable on poor connections (which may explain why I felt like there was such a big difference) and while accessing web servers that are located on another continent. Somewhat curiously, one of Opera’s other speed tweaks doesn’t play well with this update yet. If you enable Turbo, you’ll likely find that things feel slower again — probably due to Turbo’s reliance on Opera proxy servers. Once the kinks are ironed out, however, Opera 12’s improved networking kung fu and Turbo will provide a killer speed combination for those of you who rely on lower-bandwidth connections to access the Internet.More at Opera Desktop Bloglast_img read more

HTC admits its Android phones have a major security issue

first_imgOver the weekend Android Police went public with details of a major security flaw present on HTC phones running Android. The culprit was HTC’s very own data collection app called Tell HTC.It turns out that any app you give Internet permissions to on a HTC Android phone can access the data Tell HTC collects. That data can be several megabytes in size and includes lots of personal information. It therefore should not be accessible to anyone but HTC, and then only if you give the company permission to do collect it. As it currently stands, regardless of permission being given, the data is collected and accessible to lots of third-party apps.HTC was given several days notice as to the issue before the security hole was made public. The company never responded. After the weekend release and YouTube video clearly demonstrating the issue, HTC did finally decide to look into the claims, and has now agreed with the fact there is a security issue.A patch is now in the works that will be distributed as an over the air update. We don’t know exactly when it will be ready, but HTC has stated it doesn’t know of any app that grabs the data being actively distributed.The advice given at the weekend still stands for the moment. Be careful what new apps you download to your HTC Android phone until the patch is available and applied. If you want to be extra cautious until that time you can delete the HtcLogger.apk manually from your phone.via Engadgetlast_img read more

Mozilla ponders stripping customization options from Firefox

first_imgFirefox users have always appreciated how customizable the browser is, but lately Mozilla is wondering if it’s time to clean things up a bit. There are hundreds of millions of Firefox users, and not all of them find the numerous checkboxes on its preferences screen useful. In fact, one Mozilla study found that fewer than 2% of Firefox users bother fiddling with those settings.Alex Limi, who is now Mozilla’s head of project design strategy, is concerned that many of those checkboxes are doing more harm than good. Limi points to examples like the content tab’s load images and enable JavaScript toggles. Unchecking images can have all kinds of undesirable and unexpected effects — like making the search box on Google’s home page disappear. And disabling JavaScript? Why would anyone that does… well, basically anything … on the web in 2013 want to disable JavaScript completely?Then there are obscure switches like the the SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 boxes on the encryption settings screen. Take the checks out, and there’s a good chance that Gmail, Google Reader (R.I.P.), and even Facebook and Twitter will quit working for you — thanks to that whole SSL by default push that’s been going on for the last couple of years.Limi also wonders whether right-clicking the Firefox toolbar really needs to list the navigation toolbar. Without it, the vast majority of Firefox users would have an incredibly hard time pulling up a page in the browser and it’s not that hard to imagine a couple of errant clicks from a frantic user taking the required checkmark out. Not everyone’s up to speed on Firefox’s numerous hotkeys, after all. With the navigation toolbar gone, Firefox hardly looks like a browser — and that’s bad news for Mozilla.All of these checkboxes can unintentionally break Firefox, and that breakage could very well lead some users to think that it’s time to find a browser that’s less likely to break. Preventing that situation might be as simple as redesigning — and minimizing — the Firefox preferences screens.But don’t fret, power users. Even if Mozilla does decide that the time has come to do a little Google-esque spring cleaning, you’ll always be able to customize your browser. Those settings are all tied to entries on the about:config page or lines in the userchrome.css file, where you can tweak things to your heart’s content. Ultimately, what Limi’s pitching is interface clean-up, not cracking down on Firefox personalization.If you really want to remove your navigation bar, you’ll still be able to.last_img read more

This hyperrealistic robotic spider will give you nightmares

first_imgWhat do you get when you combine 26 tiny servo motors in a 3D printed shell that looks a lot like a spider? Well, nightmares certainly, but you also get an incredibly lifelike little robot. The Robugtix T8 is an eight-legged robot that can move so much like a real spider, you’ll be tempted to smash it. But it’s expensive — don’t smash it.Each leg of the robot contains three motors, and two more are in the abdomen just to make the movement extra realistic and creepy. The outer shell is produced in a 3D printer, but it’s really just for show. Underneath it’s just your basic eight-legged terrifying robot.The T8 is powered by an embedded microcontroller running a movement engine called Bigfoot Inverse Kinematics. This engine ensures that the user doesn’t have to worry about sending complicated instructions to the robot. Using the wireless controller, you can simply select a gait and tell the T8 which direction you want it to go. The robot handles all the calculations on-board.The T8 kit is up for pre-order now, with an expected ship date of August 31st. It’s going to cost you a whopping $1,350, but it jumps to $1,500 after August 1st. That’s very steep, but there’s a much less spendy, and still pretty neat/creepy option from Robugtix.The IITSII is a hexapod version of the T8 — so less arachnid-inspired and more insectoid. Instead of 26 motors, it only has 18. That’s still three in each leg, but none in the body. So it can’t do the insane spider poses the T8 is capable of, but it still uses the Bigfoot Inverse Kinematics engine to maneuver around in a very realistic way. This robot is available for pre-order at $250. It will be $350 after the August 1st cutoff date.You can’t deny these are awesome robots, but the prices listed are only for the kits themselves (some assembly required). If you want the controller and Xbee wireless receivers, that’s going to be an extra $85. You can also rig your own serial communication method with the provided Rx/Tx pins. These are open devices, after all.last_img read more

Over 4500 complaints made to Irish Water in three months over poor

first_imgOver 4,500 complaints made to Irish Water in three months over poor service Some of the main issues concerned water quality and customer service. Friday 20 Jan 2017, 3:27 PM Jan 20th 2017, 3:27 PM Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article 48 Comments By Garreth MacNamee Short URL 10,553 Views center_img Image: Niall Carson Image: Niall Carson He needs to butt-out and stop meddling its a democratic process. He needs to remain silent.A statement from Irish Water this evening read: “The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has acknowledged that Irish water are continuing to improve our commitment to good customer service. Over 90% of Irish Water’s  Customer Handbook requirements, which have been agreed with the CER, have now been implemented. This progress is reflected in the decrease in number of customer complaints received by Irish Water.”Earlier this week. Michael McNicholas has defended Irish Water’s €70 million spend on consultants, insisting they were “international experts”.Speaking before the Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services, he said there is “a perception out there” that money was squandered on consultants, adding: “That is absolutely not the case.”McNicholas said the “international experts” were integral to the establishment of Irish Water. The Ervia boss said the money was spent on software and computer system experts needed to set up the national utility.He said the setup of Irish Water cost €100 million less than any other utility in other countries.With reporting by Christina FinnRead: Landlords rapped on the knuckles for threatening new charges after rent caps >Read: Man arrested in connection to murder of Irene White in 2005 > THERE WERE OVER 4,500 complaints made to Irish water by customers in the last three months of the year, a new report has revealed.In its latest publication, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) said most of the issues related to people not getting water or that there were leaks in their system.According to the CER, Irish Water is required to respond to a customer complaint within five working days with a resolution or a plan outlining the steps required to achieve a resolution. The top five issues included:No waterLeaking from boundary boxTimeliness of responseLow pressureWater qualityComplaints to the contentious utility have decreased over time, however.In the preceding six months, there were 15,000 issues.And this afternoon. Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has warned the EU to “butt-out” of Irish affairs until Environment Minister Simon Coveney submits the Government’s water plan to Brussels.She said: “What the commissioner has to do if he is to fulfill his role is he has to wait until Ireland submits its plan. It won’t be ready, according to Simon Coveney, until late 2017.“Until that point, the commissioner should not be making any point about the Irish situation, just like he shouldn’t make a comment about any other member states. Share68 Tweet Email last_img read more

Condoms food and nappies these are among the things being flushed down

first_img Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article 19,145 Views 61 Comments IRISH ADULTS ARE flushing plenty of items other than toilet paper down the toilet.A new survey has found that one in five people have flushed condoms and cigarette butts down the toilet, but baby wipes were the biggest offender with almost three in five people admitting to this.The survey of 1,033 adults by Clean Costs, which is owned and operated by An Taisce, found lack of knowledge to be the primary reason for the sewage-related littering.These are the top items that are being flushed down Irish toilets: Image: Shutterstock/Tortoon Image: Shutterstock/Tortoon Jan 25th 2017, 11:15 PM Share Tweet Email center_img By Cliodhna Russell Wednesday 25 Jan 2017, 11:15 PM Short URL Baby wipes 58%Facial wipes 40%Cotton buds 26%Tampons 24%Cigarette butts 21%Plasters 18%Condoms 18%Food 15%Medicines 12%Sanitary pads 6%Tampon applicators 5%Toilet roll tube 4%Nappies 2%Cotton wool 1%Dental floss 1%A community initiative, Think Before You Flush, will see eight communities working with Clean Coasts and Irish Water to increase awareness of sewage related litter.Educational workshops for schools and businesses as well as community information events will be held to change poor flushing behaviour.The ‘Think Before You Flush’ Communities for 2017 are:Galway CityBalbriggan, DublinBallycotton, CorkBirr, OffalyWexford Town, WexfordDingle, KerryBettystown, MeathVirginia, CavanTramore, WaterfordRegional Information Specialist at Irish Water Grainne Carey said, “By making small changes in our flushing behaviour we can prevent the harm caused by sewage related litter in the marine environment.’’Read: You might think twice before using wet wipes again…> Condoms, food and nappies – these are among the things being flushed down Irish toilets Seriously. last_img read more

Irelands first legit drone drop landed on a boat at the weekend

first_img 16 Comments Monday 30 Jan 2017, 4:07 PM THE FIRST OFFICIALLY approved parcel delivery by drone in Ireland was completed over the weekend.The parcel, which was delivered in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, took two minutes to complete from take-off to parcel drop with the drone taking the 250 gram parcel from the shoreline to a boat at sea almost 200 metres away.It contained medical supplies: an emergency thermal blanket, an Epi-pen, bandages, plasters, thermometer, first aid leaflet, gloves, wipes and burn dressings. It also contained food and a drink in the form of a high-energy bar and water. The supplies were attached to the underside of the drone in a waterproof container.Though the delivery was a success, the company that delivered the package, Pony Express Couriers say they are not planning to offer a drone parcel delivery service in Dublin or Ireland any time soon.“The delivery of low value, urgent items such as takeaway food, especially to remote rural areas is highly likely,” said Audrey Browne, operations manager.“But important city deliveries such as the majority of our same-day express services could not be trusted to drones yet, the possibility of interception, loss or damage would be too great. When parcel delivery by drone can be proven to work safely in an urban context, then we will revaluate the situation, but for now we will continue offering parcel delivery by our traditional methods of bicycles, motorbike, vans and trucks.”This flight is the first parcel delivery drop by drone that the Irish Aviation Authority have sanctioned in Ireland.“We’re delighted with the success of the first official parcel delivery in Ireland via drone under controlled conditions which met all regulatory requirements. The application of drone technology is vast and the IAA will continue to foster, promote and encourage its use with the emphasis as always on safety,” said Ralph James, the IAA’s director of safety regulation.Read: The co founder of Skype is backing a company building mini electric planes that take off vertically>Read: Own a drone? These tips will help you take great photos with one> 24,536 Views By Michelle Hennessy Ireland’s first legit drone drop landed on a boat at the weekend The drone delivered medical supplies and food to the boat in Dun Laoghaire. Share235 Tweet Email2 Image: Pony Expres Image: Pony Expres Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Short URL Jan 30th 2017, 4:07 PM last_img read more

Donald Trumps sons launch hotel chain inspired by election campaign

first_img 33,285 Views Short URL Saturday 10 Jun 2017, 1:00 PM Donald Trump’s sons launch hotel chain inspired by election campaign The Trump Organization has said it is not exploiting the US presidency for profit. Eric Danziger, CEO of Trump Hotels, left, with Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr Source: APTrump turned the immigrant down, calling his venture “small fry”. But he did spend time on the phone, Suresh said, giving advice on ways to secure a loan elsewhere. Chawla Hotels now owns 17 hotels.As a franchising fee, Trump Hotels CEO Danziger said he expects to earn less than the typical 9 to 12% cut of revenue charged by others, at least initially while the chain is rolled out.The Chawla brothers plan to convert three Mississippi hotels now under other franchisee names to the American Idea brand, one each in Cleveland, Clarksdale and Greenville. Danziger wouldn’t say how many American Idea hotels he hopes to build, but he talked big in an interview.“It can go anywhere in the United States, anywhere there is an extended stay or mid-scale (hotel), that can be an American Idea,” he said.The Trump Organization is also opening a fourth property with Chawla Hotels under its Scion brand, a more upscale, boutique chain launched last year. That one will open in Cleveland, Mississippi. Danziger said in March that he hoped to open as many as 100 Scion hotels in three years.Conflict of interest?Washington University’s Clark said the new chains raise many conflicts of issues questions. Do the developers have other motives in striking a deal with the president’s company, perhaps to influence public policy? Will local governments help the developers in securing zoning changes or permits to curry favour with the president?The new chains are “problematic for the same reason all his other businesses are problematic: It provides opportunity for people to influence him by sending business his way,” Clark said.The rollout of the Scion chain hit a snag earlier this year because of just such conflicts issues. A Dallas developer who had signed a letter of intent with the Trump Organization revealed that he planned to raise money for a Scion hotel in the city from unnamed investors from Turkey, Qatar and Kazakhstan.The Trump Organization cancelled talks with the developer after several news articles raised questions about whether the foreign investors might try to use their investments to influence the new administration.Danziger said the Dallas developer would never have gotten past his company’s vetting, which had only begun as the media got hold of the story.Before Trump took the oath of office, he announced a series of steps to help address concerns that his sprawling business holdings could lead to conflicts. He handed management control of his company to his two adult sons, vowed to make “no new foreign deals” while president and hired an outside council to vet any new deals his sons would strike in the US.Danziger has expressed confidence that these steps can help avoid any ethical trouble.As far as the Chawlas are concerned, Danziger said, they’ve been fully vetted. Their company, he said, is 100% owned by the two brothers. And he suggested they were perfect partners for a company under scrutiny.“I wish I had their clean background,” he quipped. “It was easy to approve.”Read: Trump will nominate Chris Christie’s defence lawyer as FBI DirectorRead: Trump’s national security team to be quizzed over Russian influence on election Jun 10th 2017, 1:00 PM center_img Eric Trump, left, and Donald Trump Jr, executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization Source: APTHE SONS OF US President Donald Trump have said their company is launching a new hotel chain inspired by their travels for their father’s election campaign.The name of the new hotel chain is American Idea. It was inspired by stories heard in small towns on the campaign trail. The owner is now, of course, president of the United States.However, the Trump Organization has said it is not exploiting the presidency for profit.The suggestion is “pure, unadulterated nonsense”, Eric Danziger, CEO of the company’s hotel division, Trump Hotels, said. “I’m sure you’ve heard of American Express. I’m sure you’ve heard of American Airlines … We didn’t invent the word ‘American’.”President Trump has been criticised for raising membership fees at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, boasting of his new Washington hotel that has become a favorite spot for foreign diplomats, and benefiting from trademark approvals from China for possible future business there.Now comes his company’s latest venture: a hotel chain.The American Idea chain was unveiled on Monday night in New York at a Trump Tower party hosted by the president’s two adult sons, Eric and Don Jr, and featuring a video showing the Washington Mall.The first family plans to franchise the mid-market hotels, taking a cut of revenue, and leaving the management and ownership of the buildings to other developers. The first three are planned for Mississippi.“They’re cashing in on the red states,” Kathleen Clark, a government ethics expert and law professor at Washington University in St Louis, said. “I’m not surprised that the Trump family would look to opportunities to commercially exploit his political success.”Ethics Ethics expert Edwin Williamson, a former State Department legal adviser, isn’t so bothered by the new chain. He noted the president is not bound by the federal ethics laws that limit other public officials from pursuing business interests while in office, and said he thinks Trump critics and the media are too fast to see conflicts of interest where there are none.“There may be people who want do business with them because they are the president’s sons. But I don’t know what you do about that,” Williamson said. He added that the deals struck will probably be “normal business transactions that meet the standard of the marketplace”.The first outside partners for American Idea were introduced on Monday and quickly established their appeal as embodiments of the American dream. Sons of a refugee from India, Suresh and Dinesh Chawla spoke of an America full of promise and profit if you work hard enough — and maybe get advice from a real estate mogul along the way.Suresh told the story of how his late father, founder of Chawla Hotels of Cleveland, Mississippi, was brazen enough to call Donald Trump looking for money for his new hotel chain more than quarter of a century ago. Share Tweet Email1 By Associated Press 52 Comments Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlelast_img read more

Taoiseach urged to seek EU support to put more pressure on Egypt

first_img 65 Comments Jun 22nd 2017, 6:01 AM Image: 10,426 Views TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has been urged to seek support to increase pressure on the Egyptian Government to release Ibrahim Halawa at this week’s European Council meeting.An Irish citizen, Halawa has spent almost four years in jail in Egypt without trial. Recently, the Irish government said it has stepped up its diplomatic efforts to secure his release.His next trial date is set for Tuesday, 4 July. This will be the 25th trial date he has been given.Varadkar told the Dáil yesterday that it is “utterly unacceptable” that the Irish citizen has been detained since he was 17 years old.The Taoiseach is attending the European Council meeting which takes place in Brussels today and Friday. He’s been urged to seek the backing of his EU colleagues to increase pressure on the Egyptian authorities.Varadkar has also said he will speak to the Greek government, which is believed to be acting as an obstacle in making progress.Delayed trial “I think a lot of work has been done by the authorities, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and others, to assist in his release. I know the Ceann Comhairle led a delegation with regard to that and carried out a very important role in the efforts to assure he is released and given a pardon.“The current state of play is that this cannot happen until the trial happens but the trial keeps on being delayed, which has us in a very difficult situation at the moment,” said Varadkar.The Taoiseach said he received a letter from Halawa last week, and welcomed the fact that he has ended his hunger strike. Source: RollingNews.ieIn the letter, Halawa wrote about entering a dark tunnel of four years of torture, suffering and pain.Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will request the backing of his European Council colleagues this week.“Ibrahim Halawa was only 17 when he sought shelter in the al-Fateh mosque in Cairo. No young person should have to live through his experience since then,” she said. Source: RollingNews.ieThe Green Party’s Eamon Ryan urged Varadkar to talk to the Greek Prime Minister about the matter at this week’s meeting in Brussels.“Our understanding is that it is Greek opposition to having European monitoring of the case which is stopping it. We need the European monitor there on 4 July to put on the pressure to get him out,” said Ryan.Varadkar replied: “In relation to meeting the Greek Prime Minister, it will be my first ever European Council meeting and I am not sure exactly how they work, but if there is an opportunity to have a discussion with him I will do so.”Next week, the Taoiseach said he plans to assess what other options are open to the Irish government to expedite his return home.“Of course, I do not want to do anything that might turn out to be counterproductive so I need to study it a little more myself,” he added.Read: ‘It’s not always as straightforward’: Tusla chief on removing children at high risk from State care>Read: Abortion committee meets for the first time and elects Senator Catherine Noone as chairperson> Jameela Abougnah at a vigil for Ibrahim Halawa. Image: Taoiseach urged to seek EU support to put more pressure on Egypt to release Ibrahim Halawa Leo Varadkar is attending a EU Council meeting over the next two days.center_img Share241 Tweet Email Thursday 22 Jun 2017, 6:01 AM Short URL Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Jameela Abougnah at a vigil for Ibrahim Halawa. By Christina Finnlast_img read more

An unexpected guest and a luminous river Leo ends St Patricks trip

first_img 56,560 Views Source: Ellen DeGeneres/Twitter Christina Finn reporting from ChicagoTHE TAOISEACH IS used to being the centre of attention in the US during the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.But he was somewhat overlooked yesterday when MMA fighter Conor McGregor arrived to march in the Chicago parade, which he led alongside the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel.Photographers and camera people crowded around McGregor as he put on a sash which had his name on it, and clenched his fist, posing in his fighter stance. The Taoiseach, who was left on the sidelines, later clarified that he was not aware that McGregor was attending the parade, stating that the MMA fighter wasn’t representing Ireland in the parade, he was.Some have dubbed it a PR gaffe, but the Irish-American contingent in Chicago are not happy one bit with how the parade played out.It’s become somewhat of a tradition for the Taoiseach to attend parades in the US, though it is usually in New York. Marching in the Chicago parade was a departure from the usual.Last year, chants of “Leo, Leo, Leo” could be heard, with Varadkar later telling the media he assumed those shouting his name were Irish people who were here on holiday.“I doubt I am that well-known here in America,” he joked at the time.There wasn’t so much of that this year, however, he has made a name for himself in the States this time around. Irish mixed martial artist Conor McGregor joins the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago Source: Brian LawlessNotably, headlines in the international press were dominated this week by the Taoiseach’s breakfast meeting with Vice President Mike Pence. Pence, who has been criticised for his views and his legislative record on LGBT rights, told Varadkar last year that his partner, Matt Barrett, would be welcome at his official residence at this year’s St Patrick’s breakfast. And speaking at the event – which was open to press, in a departure from last year – the Taoiseach gave remarks noting that in modern day Ireland politicians were judged not by their sexual orientation, “skin tone, gender or religious beliefs” but by their actions.  Source: PA Wire/PA ImagesSpeaking in Chicago afterwards, Varadkar said that while he did not discuss his speech with Pence, they had a “good chat” about various issues.“Obviously we have very different views on social policy but I think the best way to manage these things is to engage with people,” he added.There’s no doubt he knew the significance of his speech before delivering it, but the Taoiseach might not have predicted the reaction. While the American people might not have known the name of Ireland’s ‘Tee-shuck’ (as Donald Trump pronounced it this week) they are more likely to know it now that US TV presenter Ellen Degeneres tweeted out a Buzzfeed article about the visit, stating: “Mike Pence met with Ireland’s openly gay PM and his boyfriend. This makes me very happy.” No Comments Short URL Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Leo Varadkar gives a thumbs up on the Chicago river as he ends his week in the US. Image: PA Wire/PA Images An unexpected guest and a luminous river: Leo ends St Patrick’s trip not being centre of attention Varadkar finished off the final leg of his US trip walking in the Chicago parade and taking a boat trip down the river. Mike Pence met with Ireland’s openly gay PM and his boyfriend. This makes me very happy.— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 15, 2019 By Christina Finn Image: PA Wire/PA Images But how does Matt feel about being thrusted into the limelight? We’re not sure, and either is the Taoiseach, telling the media yesterday that he hasn’t asked him.Varadkar says he wasn’t nervous about delivering the speech, stating that he just wanted to convey “Ireland’s values” to the vice president.The Taoiseach added that while his boyfriend doesn’t always like to be his “plus one” at official events, he was keen to accept the invite to breakfast at the Pences.  Source: PA Wire/PA ImagesLast year, the Taoiseach made the headlines back home for all the wrong reasons, when he went off script and joked at a Capitol Hill lunch about intervening on behalf of Donald Trump in order to stop a wind farm being built near Doonbeg.Today, Varadkar strolled down the streets of Chicago, flanked by secret service officers,  and last year’s gaffes seemed a million miles.Like the parade, where the attention was elsewhere other than the Taoiseach, a similar turn of events occurred at a packed-out dinner of over 1,000 Irish-American’s at the Irish Fellowship Club on Friday night. It was a rowdy event, with speakers, including the Taoiseach being drowned out by raucous crowd of Irish-Americans who were kicking of St Patrick’s Day a little early.Silence only prevailed when the priest gave his blessing, with jokes heard after about how he was giving them all a special dispensation for lent. During a speech at the Irish Fellowship Club dinner on Friday evening, Varadkar reiterated what he has been saying about Irish immigration all week. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at the Irish Fellowship Club Annual SPD Dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Chicago Source: PA Wire/PA ImagesHe said immigrants from all countries and religions have helped build the United States.“But sometimes as well they were scapegoats and blamed for things that went wrong just because of where they came from and because of their religion,” he added.“We saw an example of that in New Zealand.“For us in Ireland we believe the time has come for us to play a greater role in the world 100 years after independence. We really want to share our culture and share our identity.”Governor of Illinois J B Pritzker paid tribute to the Irish immigrants who travelled to US in the 1840s.“We would do well to remember those who immigrated to this country during the Irish potato famine, those who faced their share of prejudice and discrimination but persevered, taking the jobs that were available to them and working hard to build a better life for themselves and for their families.“There are Irish-American descendants who would go on to become our teachers, our nurses, our police officers, our firefighters and our presidents of the United States.“They educate our young and care for our sick, contributing to our culture and character as a nation.”Pritzker, who is a Democrat, pointed out that the Taoiseach is the son of an immigrant, adding that as long as he is governor, the State of Illinois will be a welcome place for all (a sly dig at Trump with that one).   Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago Source: PA Wire/PA ImagesThe final official engagement for the Taoiseach, after marching down the streets of Chicago, was a boat trip down the river, which, as is tradition, had been dyed a bright, bright green.There was a harpist, Galway Girl was playing in the background, as Irish-Americans, the Irish ambassador to the US, Dan Mulhall, Minister Michael Ring and Senators Michael McDowell and Ian Marshall joined the Taoiseach on board. Giving his final St Patrick’s Day speech of the trip, he reminded people of how important the US trip is to the serving Taoiseach, stating that many a world leader has asked him how they get access to the likes of US President Donald Trump, and politicians on the Hill. Varadkar said the tradition has been nurtured over the years, because it is an important relationship to keep up.So, how did Leo do on his second time around in the US as Taoiseach?One Irish politician commended the Taoiseach, stating that he had “played a blinder” this year. Though the same politician stated that Varadkar had made a mess of it last year. “Leo is finally getting it. He is seeing the value and importance of these events. He is now understanding that the smiles and a bit of plámásing to the Irish-Americans is needed. Enda knew it, and he did it very well. Leo is starting to understand how it is done, and that was clear on this trip,” they said.  Mar 17th 2019, 12:16 AM Leo Varadkar gives a thumbs up on the Chicago river as he ends his week in the US. Saturday 16 Mar 2019, 11:30 PM Share515 Tweet Email1 last_img read more

Saudi oil tankers among ships targeted by sabotage attacks

first_img Image: PA 27 Comments Norwegian-flagged oil tanker MT Andrea Victory off the coast of Fujairah. May 13th 2019, 10:35 PM Share9 Tweet Email Short URL Saudi oil tankers among ships targeted by ‘sabotage attacks’ The ships suffered “significant damage” but none of the crew members were harmed. Monday 13 May 2019, 10:35 PMcenter_img Norwegian-flagged oil tanker MT Andrea Victory off the coast of Fujairah. Image: PA FOUR SHIPS, INCLUDING two Saudi oil tankers, were damaged in mysterious “sabotage attacks” that have further inflamed Gulf tensions amid a standoff between the United States and Iran.A United Arab Emirates government official said the Saudi oil tankers Al-Marzoqah and Amjad were attacked off the emirate of Fujairah along with the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory and an Emirati ship, the A. Michel.The Andrea Victory’s managers, Thome Group, said the tanker had a hole in the hull area “after being struck by an unknown object on the waterline”.The crew were unharmed and the ship was not in any danger of sinking.Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom’s two tankers suffered “significant damage” but there were no casualties or any oil spill.Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE gave details on the nature of the attacks or accused anyone of responsibility.The UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the Emirates would probe the “deliberate sabotage” of the ships.‘Alarming’In the face of growing international concern, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped a planned visit to Moscow to head to Brussels instead for talks with European officials on Iran.Tehran called for an investigation into yesterday’s “alarming” attacks off the Emirati coast and warned of “adventurism” by foreign players to disrupt maritime security. Norwegian-flagged oil tanker MT Andrea Victory off the coast of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. Source: PABritain said there was a danger of conflict erupting “by accident” in the Gulf. US President Donald Trump warned Iran would “suffer greatly” if it does “anything”.“I’m hearing little stories about Iran,” Trump said at the White House. “If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake. If they do anything they will suffer greatly.”The United States has already strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged Iranian threats.Saudi Arabia, the Islamic republic’s regional arch-rival, condemned “the acts of sabotage which targeted commercial and civilian vessels near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates”, a foreign ministry source said.“This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation and adversely impacts regional and international peace and security,” the source added.The United Nations called for restraint from all sides.“We are concerned about the heightened tensions in the region. We call upon all concerned parties to exercise restraint for the sake of regional peace, including by ensuring maritime security,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.- © AFP 2019.  15,994 Views By AFP Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlelast_img read more

All terrorist suspects held for trial

first_imgThe final two of the six suspected members of Revolutionary Struggle arrested last Sunday were remanded in custody on Friday, as the police gathered more information about how the terrorist group rented apartments in Athens they used as safe houses. A magistrate decided that authorities had gathered enough evidence to warrant Evangelos Stathopoulos and Christoforos Kortesis being held in custody. Stathopoulos denied playing any part in the organisation and argued that an injury suffered in a car crash several years ago had left him with serious health problems. He added that between 2000 and 2007 he had to appear at his local police station twice a month after being released on bail following a conviction for another offense. Stathopoulos claimed that he was being persecuted for his political beliefs. Kortesis’s lawyers argued that the charges against him were not specific enough for him to answer. They said that this confirmed there was no evidence to link him to the terrorist group, which had been active since 2003. The magistrate rejected both arguments. Meanwhile, police confirmed that the gang used forged identification cards, found in the car of another suspect, Constantinos Gournas, to rent two apartments in Kypseli, near central Athens. The fifth-story apartments were next to each other. Police only found balaclavas, handcuffs and gloves in one of the apartments. The other property had been emptied 6 months ago. Officers believe that the gang rented the second apartment to avert any suspicion from their neighbours. Police continued to search for a property where the group may have hidden their arms and explosives. As six suspected members of the Revolutionary Struggle extremist guerrilla group faced a prosecutor last week, officers of the police’s counterterrorism unit continued their search for a hideout containing explosives and weapons used by the organization. The six who were arrested were Nikolaos Maziotis, aged 39, Panayiota Roupa, aged 41, Evaggelos Stathopoulos, aged 32, Christoforos Kortesi, aged 31, Sarantos Nikitopoulos, aged 32 and Constantinos Gournas, aged 30. They were charged with membership of a terrorist group and causing explosions and weapons offenses in connection with a string of attacks on police and business and government targets over the past 7 years. The suspects arrived at the main Athens court complex escorted by anti-terrorist police, and were whisked into the prosecutor’s office. As they were leaving dozens of people who had gathered to chant s=logans in support of the detainees threw plastic bottles and scuffled with police, who responded with pepper spray. Nikos Maziotis, the group’s suspected leader, was quoted as saying that he would not testify. “These charges are politically motivated and so we will not defend ourselves,” Maziotis allegedly told the court. Police are also seeking the hideout where the organisation stored its weaponry and explosives. So far raids on apartments in Nea Philadelphia, northern Athens, have turned up only computer hard drives containing proclamations and hand-drawn sketches, not explosives and weapons. Forensic experts on last week were examining bullet casings from a Kalashnikov assault rifle found in a remote spot on the slopes of Mount Hymettus by officers who had followed one of the six suspects there over the weekend ahead of their arrests. Police believe the group had used the spot for firing practice. Revolutionary Struggle first appeared in 2003, a year after authorities eradicated Greece’s deadliest left-wing group, November 17, and has bombed banks, government buildings and the Athens Stock Exchange, in 3 cases causing injuries to bystanders. Its most spectacular hit was the 2007 rocket-propelled grenade attack on the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy, which caused minor damage but no injuries. The U.S. government subsequently offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of Revolutionary Struggle members. The group also shot and severely wounded a riot policeman last year. That attack came during a spike in anarchist violence that followed the fatal police shooting of an Athens teenager in December 2008 and days of rioting in Greek cities. Police are expected to be looking to arrest more people who are suspected of being members of the terrorist group, sources said as more details emerged about the contacts between the six alleged members that have already been caught. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Survey into attitudes towards domestic violence

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Greek communities are encouraged to take the survey created to get a deeper understanding of attitudes towards domestic violence. The survey, being undertaken by psychology student Helen Tachos to complete her honours degree, will enable her to get an overview of the communities and different cultures attitudes towards domestic violence. Helen told Neos Kosmos that “Greeks tend to be more independent, quite close within our families; family is extremely important and just looking at the nature of our closeness we want to see whether that influences our attitudes”. “People will tolerate some behaviour because there are cultural influences,” she said, as now-a-days we tend to live in a society amongst different pockets of people who still carry strong traditions. “I think it’s important that we try to understand those,” Helen explained; stating how this is a concept just as vital to understand. “If we aren’t getting a good understanding on what the community thinks, we don’t really know the message that needs to get across”. If you would like to participate in the survey, visit read more

Trade unions rally against new austerity package

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Trade unions reported large-scale participation on the first day of a 48-hour nationwide strike against the latest package of austerity cuts and new taxes.According to the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants’ union federation ADEDY – the two umbrella trade union organisations representing the majority of the countrys work force in the private and public sectors – participation in the strike ranged from 90 to 100 percent in all sectors.They claimed full participation in the strike at shipyards, the transport sector, ships and ports, while there was 90 percent participation among construction, hotel, commerce and metal workers.Two rallies were held in central Athens, one organised by GSEE and ADEDY at Pedion tou Areos and another organised by the Communist Party-affiliated trade union group PAME in Omonia Square.Among those at the GSEE-ADEDY rally was main opposition Syriza party Alexis Tsipras, who called for an immediate snap election and launched harsh criticism against the coalition government.“The three-party consortium has converted Parliament into a chamber for the ratification of the troika’s proposals and has turned the country over to its creditors,” Tsipras said.The PAME rally in Omonia was attended by Communist Party (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, who called for “systematic and well-organised disobedience and refusal to conform, not just with the government’s decisions but with the system in general”.After the end of the GSEE-ADEDY rally, roughly 40,000 protestors marched to Parliament in order to present a protest resolution to the Parliament president and representatives of the political parties.The strike will continue on Wednesday, when trade unions will hold another rally at Syntagma Square beginning at 5pm.According to sources, trade unions are also gearing up for work stoppages on November 14, a day of strike action throughout Europe.Protest rallies and marches against the omnibus bill and the new austerity measures were also held in towns and cities in other areas of Greece on Tuesday, including Hania and Iraklio on the island of Crete and Thessaloniki.The rallies and marches on Tuesday were held against a backdrop of strike action that had virtually paralysed Athens’ public transport system and included buses, trains, trams and taxis. Flights were disrupted due to an air-traffic controllers’ work stoppage, while journalists followed up a 24-hour strike on Monday with a work stoppage and news blackout from 10am to 2.30pm on Tuesday.State hospitals were working with a skeleton staff, courts were closed, while lawyers and civil engineers were continuing a protracted abstention from official business. Other unions that held strikes included those of high-school teachers, dentists, public utility companies, seamen and even retailers.Strike action will continue throughout the country on Wednesday, with the Metro and ISAp electric railway running from 3pm till the end of the shift to facilitate participation of strikers in the 5pm rally on Syntagma Square.The government on Monday tabled in parliament the long-awaited austerity package containing a €13.5bn mix of cuts and tax hikes. MPs will now debate the legislation in a fast-track procedure that will end in a roll-call vote on Wednesday night. Then, on Sunday, parliament will vote on the draft budget for 2013. Source: Athens News/dv, AMNAlast_img read more

Plan for Greek civil service overhaul settled

first_imgThe coalition has agreed on a plan for the sacking of civil servants, it emerged on Tuesday, which will see around 2,000 bureaucrats removed from their positions by the end of June.Athens has agreed to fire 15,000 civil servants by the end of next year as part of its commitments to the troika. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras chaired a meeting of ministers on Tuesday to discuss the scheme. Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis confirmed that some 2,000 public servants would lose their jobs soon, mainly from state organizations that are deemed defunct. “The initial numbers will be made up almost exclusively from the organizations operating under private law that will be closed down,” he said without going into details of when the firings would take place.Greece has agreed that it will fire 4,000 civil servants by the end of the year. The government had wanted as many of the sackings as possible to come from bureaucrats deemed to have breached their code of conduct. However, this is a lengthy process as tribunal hearings have to be held and then appeals heard as well.The list of the organizations that are due to be shut down is likely to be announced after Orthodox Easter next weekend.Manitakis confirmed that a high-level committee would oversee the departures, which are one of the key pledges that Greece made to its lenders during the recent rounds of talks in Athens. The plan for dismissals will be included in a multi-bill that has to be voted through Parliament by the end of the week so Greece can receive the 8.8 billion euros in bailout loans it is expecting in the next few weeks.The committee will have a second task, which is to find by June 12,500 thousand civil servants who can be placed in a labor mobility scheme. Another 12,500 will have to join the program by the end of the year.Manitakis said that by June, the government will have finished the “second phase” of restructuring the civil service, which involves developing new organizational structures for ministries and job descriptions for positions. “This is the most crucial phase,” said Manitakis, who foresees a reduction in costs and increase in efficiency.Source: Kathimerini Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Long property

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram After another week of official interest rate decisions and rebounding house markets, it’s time to put property into perspective. Most of what we read about property prices and values is of a short term nature – it allows us to track a market by sales. In the latest release, RP Data-Rismark’s August Home Value Index shows that Sydney house prices rebounded 5.4 per cent in the three months to August, and in Melbourne they’d gained 4.8 per cent over the same rolling quarter. The average of the eight capital cities was 4.0 per cent gain in house value over the quarter. However, property is a long term investment, so I look at property numbers that reflect deeper value and take in metrics other than price. For instance, RP Data’s ‘total gross return’. This is a number that shows property value not in averaged sale prices, but as rental income plus capital gain. Total gross returns are crucial for landlords, investors and for self-managed super fund members, however, it’s a measure that everyone should look at prior to entering the property market. In the RP Data Index for August, the best total gross return of residential property over the year to August was 14.5 per cent in Perth followed by Sydney on 11.7 per cent. Melbourne – in spite of some weak property results in the past two years – managed a yield of 8.3 per cent on residential property in the year to August. RP Data says the total gross return on residential property in the year to August, across the eight capital cities, was 9.9 per cent. This is a solid result for property. There are reasons to look at property yields. Firstly, yields are a less volatile measure of a market than prices. When house values are low, rental income can reinforce the investment, and when the market is roaring – pushing housing supply into the market – lower rental income can be compensated by capital gain. The second reason to look at gross yields is that it reflects a true measure of value. House prices show you what the market was prepared to pay in a given month. But capital gain plus income is a more sustainable measure of your expected returns over time. RP Data’s Cameron Kusher has interesting figures in terms of house prices versus total gross return: in October 2010, Australia’s housing market peaked. But when it eased off, house values dropped until May 2012, and have not returned to peak levels. But when total gross returns peaked in October 2010, they simply went flat until May 2012, and have been climbing ever since. Total gross return acknowledges a small hedging effect against price fluctuation – it shows deeper value. And remember, even if you live in your house, it still has a rental value – it’s just a value you take in kind, not in cash. So, when investigating a house market, start with prices but keep your eye on gross total returns. * Mark Bouris is the Executive Chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting & tax and insurance. Email with any queries you may have or check for your nearest branch.last_img read more

PASOK finances under scrutiny

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram The finances of PASOK, the junior coalition partner, are to be the focus of an investigation that has been ordered by a prosecutor, according to a report by the Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper over the weekend.According to the daily, the probe is to focus on the 2007-10 period when the most serious cases of mismanagement are alleged to have occurred. The report claimed that an audit carried out by PASOK last year has not been given to the judiciary. The report allegedly revealed that more than 100 million euros of the Socialists’ cash was unaccounted for.Responding, PASOK said it had given the judiciary all information requested, adding that “certain circles” were trying to undermine the party.Source: Kathimerinilast_img read more