Anti-Colonial Agitator

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Irish economy will grow by 4.7% in GDP terms in 2004 and 5% in 2005, well ahead of the average rates of 3.6% and 2.9%, respectively, forecast for other advanced economies, according to the IMF. The IMF's latest economic outlook has raised its 2004 world growth forecast to 5%, the highest level in three decades, but said that sharply higher oil prices had sapped the recovery. The last time global growth came close to 5% was in 1984, when it hit 4.8%. While advanced economies are forecast to grow by less than 4%, the average is pulled up by a boom in many expanding Asian economies. However, in its Autumn World Economic Outlook, the IMF said that the global expansion, while still solid, was likely to weaken. It has downgraded its 2005 outlook to 4.3% from an April forecast of 4.4%.

The Irish economy grew at an annual rate of 4.1% in the second quarter of 2004 compared to an annualised GDP rate of 6.1% in the first quarter, according to the Central Statistics Office's (CSO) Quarterly National Accounts. GNP, which excludes profits from foreign multinationals, was up 4.2%. These rates are slightly slower than in the first quarter, when GDP and GNP grew by 6.1% and 5.2% respectively, but they are well ahead of 2003 figures of 3.7% and 2.8%. The expansion was driven mainly by exports and business investment. Net exports were 8% higher than in the same period in 2003, while capital investment increased by 14% in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, the CSO said.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Most senior US military officers now believe the war on Iraq has turned into a disaster on an unprecedented scale:

"If you are a Muslim and the community is under occupation by a non-Islamic power it becomes a religious requirement to resist that occupation," Terrill explained. "Most Iraqis consider us occupiers, not liberators." He describes the religious imagery common now in Fallujah and the Sunni triangle: "There's talk of angels and the Prophet Mohammed coming down from heaven to lead the fighting, talk of martyrs whose bodies are glowing and emanating wonderful scents."

Amnesty International on the Finucane Inquiry:

Amnesty International views this announcement with great suspicion. It states that the Finucane inquiry will require the introduction of new legislation to take account of "the requirements of national security". In light of this, Amnesty International strongly suspects that the UK authorities are using "national security" to curtail the ability of the inquiry to shed light on state collusion in the killing of Patrick Finucane; on allegations that his killing was the result of an official policy and that different government authorities played a part in the subsequent cover-up of collusion in his killing.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Irish economy will grow by 5.0% in GNP terms and 5.4% in GDP terms in 2005, according to the latest bulletin from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). Strong growth conditions prevail within the Irish economy as indicated by robust employment trends. In 2004, economic activity is anticipated to rise by 5.2% as measured by real GDP and by 4.8% in real GNP terms. Despite the significant number of job losses within certain sectors, labor market conditions continue to improve with the unemployment rate expected to average 4.4% in 2004 and 4.3% in 2005, the ESRI said. A tighter jobs market is expected to underpin wage growth contributing to an anticipated rise in consumer price inflation of 2.2% in 2004 and 2.4% in 2005. Turning to inflation, the report noted that while the effect of higher oil prices is expected to have ratcheted up inflation temporarily, it is not expected to have a significant long-term impact on price changes. While the impact of higher prices will dampen economic activity somewhat, the fact that it has occurred against the backdrop of favorable world economic conditions means that its output effect will be muted, it said.

An interesting news piece about Indian soldiers who joined forces with the Nazis in order to help end British colonialism in India:

A year later the Indian legionnaires were sent back to India, where all were released after short jail sentences.

But when the British put three of their senior officers on trial near Delhi there were mutinies in the army and protests on the streets.

With the British now aware that the Indian army could no longer be relied upon by the Raj to do its bidding, independence followed soon after.

Are people destined to commit suicide?:

The Swedish team looked at 700,000 adults and found low birth weight and being born to a teenage mother meant a two-fold rise in suicide risk.

The report also said risk increased for shorter babies.

The authors, from the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention in Stockholm, said it proved genetics played an important role in suicides.

Jude Collins on the moving goalposts of Unionism:

But one thing is clear. On Saturday, having established themselves in the eyes of unionism as the people who brought the IRA to heel, the DUP is now bending itself to cut back on nationalist influence at every turn in the new dispensation – in the role of Deputy First Minister, in the role of executive ministers, in north-south bodies, in policing and justice.

And in that task of hobbling Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the nationalist people, most of respectable unionism supports Paisley and his henchmen.

The British government will hold a secret inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane:

Mr Finucane, 39, was shot dead in front of his wife and their three children as they ate dinner at their north Belfast home in February 1989. The loyalist Ulster Defence Association, said it killed the solicitor, who represented many high profile republican clients, because he was a top IRA man, a claim denied by his relatives.

Suggestions of collusion surfaced almost immediately. It was claimed Royal Ulster Constabulary detectives urged loyalists to target Mr Finucane and that roadblocks near his home were lifted to allow his killers to escape.

In 1992, an army/UDA double agent Brian Nelson told the BBC's Panorama that he scouted Mr Finucane's home and gave details to the killers.

Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan police commissioner, said last year that cooperation between rogue police and army officers and loyalist paramilitaries in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to at least 20 murders, including that of Mr Finucane. Sir John has forwarded more than 20 files on former and serving police and soldiers to the director of public prosecutions.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Brian Feeney on the intransigence of the DUP:

Is such a turnaround too much too fast? Will the DUP split? You can already see the strains. The fundamentalists in the party who loathe Catholics and nationalists to a degree recognisable in other contexts as racist, will simply not be able to reject the habits of a life-time. For them going into a power-sharing executive would be like de Valera taking the oath in 1927. He found a way round it which split republicanism. What way can Paisley find round doing what he has spent his life avoiding and not be called a Lundy?

While the DUP wrestles with its demons does the nationalist population have to wait? Are nationalists not entitled to the dividends of peace as of right without having to wait for the bigots in the DUP to behave themselves? Look at it another way. For the British government to refuse to move on the whole package until the DUP bigots see the light amounts to giving the DUP bigots a veto on progress. Suppose we reach Halloween and the DUP can't bring itself to cut a deal because the party might split. Does everything grind to a halt until it does, which may be on the Twelfth of Never?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Neo-Nazis are on the rise in Germany:

The neo-Nazi NPD will now be represented in a German state parliament for the first time since 1968, a year after the then West German authorities in Berlin tried and failed to have the party outlawed.

Recent genetic research shows that humans did not evolve to be monogamous:

Michael Hammer, a research scientist in UA's Arizona Research Laboratories, said, "We may think of ourselves as a monogamous species, but we're coming from an evolutionary history that's probably slightly polygamous. If we're shifting toward monogamy, it's so recent it hasn't left an imprint on our genome."

Friday, September 17, 2004

The virus which causes cervical cancer may also trigger some types of skin cancer, according to British researchers. Researchers from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) say that Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) may be involved in the development of squamous cell carcinomas. This type of skin cancer is often linked to organ transplant patients, whose immune systems are compromised. It appears the virus may interact with ultraviolet light from the sun to interrupt the skin's normal defense against damage. The virus had been found in 80% of the squamous cell carcinomas in patients who have received an organ transplant, compared to only 30% of those with a normal immune function. Dr Alan Storey from the ICRF's skin tumor laboratory believes that HPV acts on a protein known as "Bak" which protects skin from damaging changes. The virus seems to destroy the Bak protein so it can not perform the protective function.

Ireland is the most profitable country in the world for US corporations, according to an analysis of tax havens published in the US journal Tax Notes. The analysis found that profits made by US companies in Ireland doubled from 1999 to 2002, while profits in most of the rest of Europe plunged. The report noted that while Luxembourg showed greater profitability rates for US corporations, Ireland has a much larger "real economy" and produced the greatest profitability. The analysis was conducted by former US Treasury Department international taxation specialist Martin Sullivan. Among its findings was that US multinationals made $2.01 (US dollars) profit in Ireland in 2001 for every $1 (US dollars) they made in 1999. In Britain, US multinational profits dropped sharply to 67 US cents in 2002 for every $1 (US dollars) profit made in 1999. In Germany, profits fell even more dramatically, slipping to 46 cents in 2002 for every $1 (US dollars) made in 1999.

The racist British National Party has scored a victory in an east London council by-election - its first win in the British capital since 1993. The BNP's Daniel Kelley gained Barking and Dagenham Council's Goresbrook ward from Labor with 1,072 votes to Labor's 602 - a majority of 470. The Conservatives polled 111 votes, the Liberal Democrats 85 and the Greens 59.

Jude Collins on the hypocrisy of Tony Blair:

Here's what he told a press conference: "Everybody now believes the only basis on which power can be shared in a way that is fair is if violence is given up completely, and there's no ambiguity about it, no ambivalence, no thinking 'Well, a little bit doesn't matter.' It's got to stop."

Now remember who's speaking. This is the British prime minister who, against a tidal wave of anti-war protest in his own country, insisted that he and George Bush were right to invade Iraq. Not that he personally went in there with George – they sent in men with guns and explosive weaponry. These men had orders to shoot or blow to bits any Iraqi people who tried to resist the invasion of their country. Since that invasion, around 1,000 US and British troops have been killed and approximately 12,000 Iraqi civilians. So that's around 13,000 violent deaths to which Tony Blair has been a willing accomplice.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Brian Feeney on the anti-Good Friday Agreement unionists:

You could fill this page with figures to show that the DUP represent what the majority of unionists support and that combined with UUP antis they constitute a majority of the electorate. Don't worry. You don't even need figures. Yes, it's true that the combined SF, SDLP and Alliance party votes last November were much larger than the DUP's share of the vote. What is also true however is that large numbers of UUP votes went to anti-agreement candidates like Donaldson and Arlene Foster who were more stridently anti-agreement than some DUP candidates. When they subsequently defected to the DUP did you hear any of their electorate complaining?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Jason Burke in Baghdad reports on the confused psychology of the Iraqi resistance and meets a Sunni guerrilla who welcomed the Americans at first but is now happy to have black GIs in his sights:

His justification for the struggle was an inconsistent mix of political and economic grievances and wounded pride: 'We are under occupation. They bomb the mosques, they kill a huge number of people. There is no greater shame than to see your country being occupied.'

Sectarian prejudices can be deeply ingrained among some children in the North of Ireland before they are even half way through primary school, it has been claimed. Some as young as three are already beginning to assume political and cultural preferences, research has revealed. And by the time they are six, a third of these children recognize that they belong to either the Protestant or Catholic communities with one in six making sectarian statements. The shocking scale of developing bias within nursery and primary education was disclosed to an all-party group of MPs investigating hate crime in the north of Ireland. Dr Paul Connolly, based in the Graduate School of Education at Queen's University, Belfast has carried out a number of major studies on the nature and extent of racial and sectarian prejudices among nursery and primary-aged children. His findings revealed that more than twice as many Catholic children stated that they did not like the police or Orange Order marches, compared to Protestants. He also found that Catholic three-year-olds are much more likely to prefer the Irish Tricolor and Protestant children the Union flag and that children living in areas with high sectarian tensions and violence have already developed strong, negative attitudes towards those from the other community by the time they are aged seven-to eight.

The Irish economy's rebound has been driven by internal dynamics rather than the global economy or foreign direct investment, according to economist Robbie Kelleher of Davy Stockbrokers. Kelleher said that the significance of the internal dynamics of the Irish economy, which come from the age and structure of the population, had been understated. He said that the contribution from the overseas sector and foreign direct investment had been overstated, with a significant proportion of the benefits of Irish exports accruing to companies outside Ireland. Also, less than 150,000 people are employed by the overseas sector. The construction sector employs 50% more, and the wholesale and retail trade employs 70% more. In his opinion, the growing Irish population provides a powerful source of increased demand across a whole range of domestic sectors. Ireland, with a population growth rate of 1.6%, has comfortably the most rapidly expanding population in Europe, where the average growth rate is just 0.3% per annum, according to Kelleher.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

A national team of investigators led by psychiatric geneticists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has identified a gene that appears to be linked to both alcoholism and depression:

The researchers believe that normal variations in the gene either protect an individual or make that person more susceptible to alcoholism and/or depression. Their next step will be to identify specific variants in the gene that lead to differences in disease risk.

Newborn babies prefer to look at attractive faces suggesting that face recognition is hardwired at birth, rather than learned, according to British researcher Alan Slater:

He suggests the reason for this preference is simple - pretty people actually have the prototype of a human face. Researchers have long noted that by melding together hundreds of faces, a statistical average of facial characteristics is reached that happens to be incredibly attractive.

No one did more to blacken Scotland's name than the 70 lawless clans of Borders "Mafia" who specialized in murder, kidnapping and cattle-rustling for more than three centuries. Bloodshed and blackmail, the hallmarks of the Border Reivers, have always been blamed on their Celtic or Pictish ancestry, adding to the reputation of the Scots as a violent and intolerant race. But that reputation could yet be changed by modern science, which is already indicating that Armstrongs, Douglases, Elliots, Grahams, Rutherfords and other families who rendered the Borders ungovernable up to the end of the 16th century, were not necessarily descended from Scotland?s earliest settlers. The first results from the Border Reiver DNA Project, set up by a computer software consultant from Boston, Massachusetts, shows the gangsters who perfected protection rackets long before Chicago was built may well have had their roots in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe or even North Africa. James Elliott, the project administrator, has spent the last few months analyzing the results of 600 DNA profiles taken from males with Reiver surnames, including a direct descendent of Johnnie Armstrong, the most notorious bandit of them all. It all started when Elliott, the grandson of Scots-Irish emigrants from the north of Ireland, set out to solve the mystery of his own tribal identity. His own DNA test placed him in the same general group as the "Celts". But his closest "relatives" seemed to come from very different places. Elliott?s nearest matches in a leading DNA database consisted of five Siberians, a Hungarian and an Icelander. Close matches in a German databank with 25,000 worldwide profiles were from Turkey, Syria, Ukraine and several other European locations. Then a further test indicated that he was 11% East Asian genetically. The 600 profiles assembled by Elliott and his colleague David Strong currently represents 75 different families. But Elliott says a few are Borders families who co-existed with the Reivers and had observed them, policed them, or had been their victims. The analysis of the genetic composition of individual families, and of the Border Reivers as a whole, has followed similar methodology to the recent BBC program Blood of the Vikings. The study also suggests that the large number of Roman troops stationed along Hadrian's Wall may have left a strong impact on the genetic heritage of the people of the Borders.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The belief that Ireland's population is descended from the Celts has been disproved by geneticists, who have concluded that they never invaded Ireland. The research at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) into the origins of Ireland's population found no substantial evidence of the Celts in Irish DNA, and concludes that they never settled in Ireland. About 15,000 years ago, ice covered Ireland, Britain and a lot of northern Europe so prehistoric man retreated back into Spain, Italy and Greece, which were still fairly temperate. When the ice started melting again around 12,000 years ago, people followed it northwards as areas became habitable again. The Trinity researchers took samples of mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited from the mother, from 200 volunteers around Ireland using cheek swabs. They also compiled a database of more than 8,500 individuals from around Europe and analyzed them for similarities and matches in the sequences. They found that most of the Irish samples matched with those around Britain and the Pyrenees in Spain. There were some matches in Scandinavia and parts of northern Africa. The geneticists produced a map of Europe with contours linking places that were genetically similar. One contour goes around the edge of the Atlantic, around Wales, Scotland, Ireland and includes Galicia in Spain and the Basque region. Many archaeologists also doubt that there was a Celtic invasion because few of their artifacts have been found in Ireland. The geneticists concluded that modern Irish Catholics are descendants of the first people to settle in Ireland around 9,000 years ago.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Some of the earliest settlers of America may have come from Australia, southern Asia, and the Pacific, according to new research. Traditional theories have held that the first Americans originated from northern Asia. Dr Silvia Gonzalez, of Liverpool John Moores University, conducted a study of ancient bones found in Mexico and found that they have very different characteristics to Native Americans. Some of the ancient skulls she has looked at are more than 12,000 years old. These skulls have long and narrow heads that are very different from the short, broad skulls of modern Native Americans. One particularly well-preserved skull of a long-headed female, who has been dubbed Penon Woman, has been carbon dated to 12,700 years ago. She said that there was very strong evidence that the first migration came from Australia via Japan and Polynesia and down the Pacific coast of America. A population of the long-headed individuals being studied by Dr Gonzalez had survived into historic times, she claimed. This tribe, which lived on the Baja California peninsula, were called the Pericues. But they appear to have died out in the 18th Century because of disease. Spanish missionaries reported that they were of a different racial type and had different customs to other Native Americans. The results concur with a study of the Pericues carried out by Spanish researchers in 2003.

Friday, September 03, 2004

British loyalist terrorists have been involved in an attack in which a forklift with burning rubble in its bucket was smashed into the front of an indigenous Irish Catholic bar in Belfast. The British terrorists of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) were blamed for the violent act and a group of around 50 loyalists also threw missiles at the bar after the attack.

The bands of ancient Neanderthals that struggled throughout Europe during the last Ice Age faced challenges no tougher than those confronted by the modern Inuit, or Eskimos. That’s the conclusion of a new study intended to test a long-standing belief among anthropologists that the lives of the Neanderthals were too tough for their line to coexist with Homo sapiens. And the evidence discounting that theory lies with tiny grooves that mar the teeth of these ancient people. Neanderthals, Homo neanderthalensis, were the dominant hominid inhabiting most of what is now Europe and western Asia. Fossil skulls reveal the distinctively prominent brows and missing chins that set them apart from later humans. They thrived from about 200,000 to 30,000 years ago until their lineage failed for unknown reasons. Most researchers have argued that their lives in extremely harsh, Ice Age-like environments, coupled with their limited technological skills, ultimately led to their demise. Homo sapiens arrived in Europe about 40,000 years ago and survived using more advanced technology. But the short lifespans of Neanderthals and evidence of arthritis in their skeletons suggests that their lives were extremely difficult. That’s where Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg’s work comes in. An assistant professor of anthropology and evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University, she published a recent study in the Journal of Human Evolution that changes the current view of the Neanderthals’ unbearable lives. Guatelli-Steinberg has spent the last decade investigating tiny defects -- linear enamel hypoplasia -- in tooth enamel from primates, modern and early humans. These defects serve as markers of periods during early childhood when food was scarce and nutrition was low. These tiny horizontal lines and grooves in tooth enamel form when the body faces either a systemic illness or a severely deficient diet. In essence, they are reminders of times when the body’s normal process of forming tooth enamel during childhood simply shut down for a period of time. To see if the lives of Neanderthals were any harder than that of modern humans she turned to two collections of skeletal remains: One was a collection of Neanderthal skulls at least 40,000 years old from various sites across Europe; the other was a set of remains of Inuit Eskimos from Point Hope, Alaska. She microscopically examined teeth from the Neanderthal skulls for signs of linear enamel hypoplasia, as well as other normal growth increments in teeth called perikymata, and compared their prevalence with those from the Inuit skulls. Guatelli-Steinberg’s examination of perikymata offered snapshots of Neanderthal survival. Smaller than the linear enamel hypoplasia, perikymata are even tinier horizontal lines on the teeth surface. Each one represents about eight days of enamel growth so by counting their number, researchers can gauge the speed of tooth development – more perikymata mean slower growth of the tooth surface. Guatelli-Steinberg counted perikymata within linear enamel hypoplasias, and was able to gauge how long these episodes of physiological stress lasted. The perikymata showed that periods of up to three months of starvation for both the Neanderthals and the Inuit were not uncommon. In fact, Guatelli-Steinberg found that Inuit teeth showed significantly more perikymata than did the Neanderthals, suggesting that the Inuit experienced stress episodes that lasted slightly longer than did those of the Neanderthals. She is looking ahead to do a similar comparison of tooth defects among the European Cro-Magnon who thrived after the Neanderthals disappeared. Coupled with the results of this project, and that of earlier work with non-human primates, she hopes to improve researchers’ understanding of just what information these tooth defects might reveal.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Brian Feeney on why Unionists will never share power and what should be done about it:

What Dublin and London should be doing after 10 years is looking for a way to penalise unionists for refusing to share power on equal terms instead of rewarding them for stalling and endorsing each and every pre-condition no matter how preposterous. The evidence of the last decade is that appeasing unionists simply results in them placing another hurdle in the way of progress.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Far from opposites attracting, people tend to choose friends who look like them, research suggests. Dr Lisa DeBruine believes that humans may have evolved to prefer the company of people who remind them of family. The researchers showed volunteers male and female faces that had been computer-manipulated to produce a family resemblance. Men liked other men's faces that resembled their own and women liked other women's faces that resembled their own. DeBruine, of McMaster University, Canada, said that previous research had shown that people were more likely to trust others who looked like them. She believes it may be possible that humans evolved to place greater trust, and to have greater affection for, people who look as though they may be related to them because the chances are higher that they share common genes. By forging a bond in this way, it could help these people to thrive, and thus, in evolutionary terms, to pass their genes down to the next generation. Professor David Perrett, of the Perception Lab at St Andrew's University, said: "It is likely that people who look similar to ourselves share our genes, and it makes sense to help the cause of these individuals because, in effect, we are helping our own genes."