Anti-Colonial Agitator

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Will there be a massive flu epidemic this winter?:

The world is on the brink of a major flu epidemic — one that could claim more than a billion lives, the head of the Russian Virology Institute, Academician Dmitry Lvov said at a press conference organized by the RIA-Novosti news agency on Thursday.

“Up to one billion people could die around the whole world in six months,” Lvov said. The expert did not give a timeframe for the epidemic, but said that it is highly probable that it will start this year. “We are half a step away from a worldwide pandemic catastrophe,” the academic said.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Can male orgasms fight breast cancer?:

Men with a low sex drive are more likely to develop breast cancer, according to new research.

The study reveals that the fewer orgasms a man has the greater his risk of being diagnosed with the disease.

Although breast cancer is rare in men, the mortality rate is high: around 250 cases are reported in the UK each year, with around 100 deaths.

Researchers in Greece compared the lifestyles of 23 men with breast cancer with 76 healthy men.

They found that men who had fewer than six orgasms per month were significantly more likely to develop breast cancer.

A new form of HIV/AIDS?:

A study of African hunters has shown that a virus similar to Aids has passed from apes to humans from bushmeat of the kind that is being sold illegally in the UK.

A leading scientist has told the File On 4 programme that the virus was probably passed on to tribesmen via body fluids when the animals were slaughtered and butchered.

Assistant Professor Nathan Wolfe, who tested more than 1,000 pygmy hunters for Johns Hopkins University, found a retrovirus from the same family as HIV in a number of them.

"This is the area of the world where HIV came from, and this is most likely the mechanism by which HIV emerged into the human population," he said.

Although the full public health implications are still unknown, the fear is that the new virus could result in a new disease which would have global impact.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The slow birth of the Protestant Movement:

Archaeologists in Germany say they may have found a lavatory where Martin Luther launched the Reformation of the Christian church in the 16th Century.

The stone room is in a newly-unearthed annex to Luther's house in Wittenberg.

Luther is quoted as saying he was "in cloaca", or in the sewer, when he was inspired to argue that salvation is granted because of faith, not deeds.

The scholar suffered from constipation and spent many hours in contemplation on the toilet seat.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The girly-men of science:

Levels of hormone exposure in the womb helps determine which academic discipline researchers work in, a new study suggests. Perhaps surprisingly, a "female" pattern of exposure was common in scientists, while a "male" pattern dominated in the social sciences.

The survey compared the length of people's index (first) fingers with their ring (third) fingers. This comparison is thought to indicate prenatal sex hormone exposure, probably because some developmental genes control the formation of both the reproductive system and the digits.

In the general population, men have a “digit ratio” of 0.98 on average - the index finger being slightly shorter than the ring finger. Women have a digit ratio of 1.0 on average, meaning the two fingers are the same length.

However the 107 male and female academics surveyed at Bath University, UK, had very similar ratios - 0.987 for men and 0.984 for women. This suggests the two groups were exposed to the same levels of oestrogen and testosterone in the womb.

Hormone levels also appear to predict which discipline researchers work in. Staff in the departments of chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics all had average ratios of over 0.995 - close to the female average - despite 81% of those subjects being male.

In contrast, the staff of the social science departments of economics, education, management, social and policy sciences had an average ratio below 0.98, the male average, despite only 66% of this sample being male.

“It’s unnerving to think the profession I’m in was determined by the hormones I was exposed to in the womb,” says Mark Brosnan, the lead author from the University of Bath, UK, whose work has been submitted to the British Journal of Psychology.

John Manning, an expert on digit ratios from the University of Central Lancashire, is not surprised that hormone levels in the womb can have such an influence. “The effect of testosterone on the developing brain is organisational and permanent,” he says.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A German, Hans-Otto Schiemann, has claimed to have deliberately infected dozens of Thai women with the HIV virus:

He is accused of offering the town's young women large sums of money to have sex with him.

Residents in Chaiyaphum said Mr Schiemann offered students aged from 15 to 17 around 4,000 baht ($100) for sex.

Officials have since put up posters around the town, 340 km (210 miles) northeast of Bangkok, warning women to avoid him.

Residents believe Mr Schiemann, whose Thai wife has Aids, has been waging a campaign of vengeance against Thai women whom he blames for infecting him.

"Thai women are bad. Thai women are witches and they're monkeys," he told reporters outside the provincial court in Chaiyaphum on Monday.

"I'm a playboy. I'm a rich man. Everybody likes a rich man," he said.

Why do Sardinians live so long?:

Some 135 people per million live to see their 100th birthday on Sardinia, while the western average is nearer 75. Centenarians are scattered around all of the island's 377 municipalities, but in the mountainous interior around the Nuoro province the prevalence of centenarians is striking: 240 in every one million people.

While in other countries an average of five women reach the century for every man who reaches this milestone, on Sardinia the female-male ratio is only two to one, with an equal number of men and women 100 years old or greater in the Nuoro province.

"This area is the only one in Italy where remaining male life expectancy at age 85 exceeds the female level", Deiana said.

Among its Methuselahs, Sardinia recorded Antonio Todde, the world's oldest man, who died this year less than 3 weeks away from his 113 birthday. Now the oldest man on the island, and the third oldest in the world, is Giovanni Frau, who will turn 112 in December.

Do our genes make us happy?:

Low levels of serotonin are thought to play a role in several psychiatric disorders, including depression. The team believes humans may have many versions of the gene controlling serotonin levels, meaning our susceptibility to mental disorders may be genetically determined.

Serotonin, often dubbed a "feel-good" chemical, is re-absorbed in the brain. Antidepressants slow down the re-absorption rate so the mood-boosting chemical stays active in the brain for longer. Scientists have already found that an enzyme, tryptophan hydroxylase-2 (Tph2), governs serotonin levels. Finding what kind of Tph2 gene a patient has could help predict the effectiveness of drugs on that person.

Anti-Irish Catholic bigotry in Scotland:

Dr William Kenefick, a history researcher from the University of Dundee who will give a presentation comparing Jewish and Irish immigration, said he believes there was relatively less prejudice against Jews as a byproduct of this antipathy towards Catholics.

“It has been said that Scotland is the only country in Europe where there were no organised attacks on Jews, and although there was some stereotyping in the 1930s, it could be described more as anti-German,” he said.

“I am travelling along that route, finding that the Catholics were coming under much more scrutiny [than the Jews]. In the 1920s, the Kirk really came out against Irish Catholics, wanting repatriation for the unemployed.

“The propaganda was considerable: statistics were used spuriously and quite wrongly to suggest that the Irish Catholics were more likely to be wife beaters, more prone to be in prison, and had more infanticide in their community.”

Job discrimination in the north of Ireland:

Catholics in Northern Ireland are almost twice as likely as Protestants to be unemployed, according to the latest official figures published today.

The unemployment rate for Catholics was 8.1% against a rate of 4.3% for Protestants, the Labour Force Survey covering 2002 published by the Statistics and Research Agency showed.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Sectarian violence in the north of Ireland:

Police are treating as sectarian an attack on teenage church group members outside an ice rink in east Belfast.

Two windows in their minibus were smashed outside the Ice Bowl in Dundonald on Saturday at about 2200 BST.

Four members of the group from Knappagh Presbyterian Church in Armagh were pushed and punched as they stepped off the vehicle.

It is understood the group, in their early teens, were mistaken for Catholics.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Could an overactive immune system be the trigger for some people's life-threatening depression?:

Most of us associate depression with being run down and having poor immunity to infections. The startling side effects of the immune-boosting drugs turn that notion on its head. They suggest that some people who are depressed may actually be suffering from an over-heated immune system, and that damping down inflammation could offer a brand new way to treat routine clinical depression--while making billions for the pharmaceuticals industry into the bargain. It's a theory that recasts depression--one of the great plagues of our time--as a chronic inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis.

In an inflammatory attack, immune cells rev each other up by pumping out substances known as inflammatory cytokines. Drugs like interferon are simply artificial versions of these substances. That's why they boost immunity so well--and why, according to the new "immune theory" of depression, they also induce such dark moods in some patients. If the body's own supplies of cytokines stay too high for too long, maybe they too become toxic to mood and trigger depression.

The case is far from proven but evidence is mounting. "At the beginning I was very reluctant to get into this question because depression is such a can of worms," says neurobiologist Robert Dantzer of France's national medical research agency INSERM at the University of Bordeaux 2. "But when we saw the way these drugs affected patients, it made me sure that it was worth it."

Religious intolerance in Jerusalem:

Christians in Jerusalem have attacked what they say is the increasingly common phenomenon of ultra-orthodox Jews spitting on them.

The statement followed a brawl between an orthodox Jewish yeshiva (religious school) student and an Armenian archbishop.

They clashed in Jerusalem's Old City after the student spat at a cross being carried by the clergyman during a procession near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Archbishop Nourhan Manougian slapped the student and in the ensuing scuffle, his 17th century ceremonial medallion was broken.

Both were questioned by police and the student is facing charges. He has been banned from the Old City for 75 days. The Armenians say the action was inadequate.

Archbishop Manougian told an Israeli newspaper that Israeli leaders must speak out about the "daily" abuse. "When there is an attack against Jews anywhere, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don't they take harsher measures?" he asked.

His critique has encouraged other Christian leaders to speak out, including a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman who has disclosed that he was recently approached by an elderly man wearing a skullcap who spat in his face.

Daniel Rossing, the director of a Jerusalem centre for Christian-Jewish dialogue, said there had been an increase in such incidents recently as "part of a general lack of tolerance".

The role of fathers in creating responsible mothers:

It is now generally accepted, for instance, that it is the father's genes that build the placenta. This is one aspect of a mysterious process known as "imprinting," whereby the genes of placental mammals seem to remember from which parent they come. This is why, so far, it has proved very difficult to create a functioning embryo from the genes of "parents" of the same sex (and why it proved so difficult to create a viable mammalian clone).

One of the most interesting aspects of imprinting is that, in mice, there is a gene that determines "good" motherhood. A female mouse who fails to have the gene imprinted is perfectly normal except that she will build a poor nest, allow her pups to wander off, and fail to keep them clean. Her pups, not surprisingly, usually die. The responsible gene is inherited from the father. The mother's gene never imprints.

Something similar may apply to humans. A study by researchers from the Institute of Child Health in London looked at "Turner's Syndrome" girls, who are missing the paternal X chromosome. These girls scored lower on recognizing other people's feelings, realizing the effect of their behavior on others, obeying commands, and interacting socially.

Women are at their most attractive when ovulating:

The lack of obvious visible manifestations of ovulation in human females, compared with the prominent sexual swellings of many primates, has led to the idea that human ovulation is concealed. While human ovulation is clearly not advertised to the same extent as in some other species, we show here that both men and women judge photographs of women’s faces that were taken in the fertile window of the menstrual cycle as more attractive than photographs taken during the luteal phase. This indicates the existence of visible cues to ovulation in the human face, and is consistent with similar cyclical changes observed for preferences of female body odour. This heightened allure could be an adaptive mechanism for raising a female’s relative value in the mating market at the time in the cycle when the probability of conception is at its highest.

The sweaty smell of ovulation:

EVIDENCE that women have a tell-tale body odour that reveals when they are fertile has been discovered, one of several subtle clues that overturn the conventional wisdom that men cannot detect ovulation.

The find has triggered a hunt for the signalling chemical, a type of pheromone called a copulin, which could prove a boon for perfume manufacturers.

Given that women go through huge hormonal changes during their menstrual cycle, a team at the University of Texas, Austin, decided to see if there were corresponding odours associated with the different phases of the cycle.

Prof Devendra Singh, who reported the work yesterday in the Proceedings of Royal Society with Dr Matthew Bronstad, commented : "We have found that men can reliably detect the fertile phase of the cycle by body odour. Men could use ovulation-linked odours in their mate selection."

Bad news for Scottish men:

Men in Scotland are continuing to die younger than those in the rest of the UK, according to figures.

The Office for National Statistics said eight of the 10 areas with the lowest male life expectancy were in Scotland.

Glasgow was the only area in Britain where the figure fell below 70 - making it 11 years fewer than in East Dorset.

The city also had the lowest life expectancy for women in 2001-2003. The figure of 76.4 is more than eight years lower than in Kensington and Chelsea.

Inverclyde, Dundee, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire all appeared in the bottom 10 for both sexes.

The Western Isles, Renfrewshire and East Ayrshire also features in the male list, while West Lothian was the other of the six Scottish areas among the bottom 10 for women.

Cell phones increase tumor risk:

Using a mobile phone for ten or more years doubles the risk of getting a type of benign head tumour, a Swedish study has found.

The study is relatively small, it looked at 148 patients and 600 controls, and the effect will need to be confirmed with larger groups. But it is the first to show clear evidence that mobile phone use could increase the risk of getting tumours.

"We were surprised about the results, but the outcome is quite clear," says Anders Ahlbom, an epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute, who was involved in the study.

"We are now convinced of the quite strong risk due to the use of mobile phones, and we are waiting for confirmation from the other research groups," says Ahlbom.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Brian Feeney comments on unionist politicians:

In south Belfast, Michael McGimpsey, wannabe knight of the doleful countenance, hero of Sandy Row, stalwart defender of its culture against all-comers – even those with money to buy attractive flats – Michael doesn't know that loyalist paramilitaries control residence qualifications in Sandy Row and Donegall Pass. Yet he would claim to have his ear to the ground. Maybe he needs to talk to Belfast's famous street dogs?

Perhaps they would make more sense than his fellow unionist, DUP councillor Ruth Patterson.

There are astonishing gaps in her knowledge too. Earlier this year she invited members of parties which are self-declared fronts for the UDA and UVF to her swearing-in as high sheriff.

How could she invite them yet not anyone from the largest party on the council, Sinn Féin?

Ah, that's because she doesn't have contact with parties linked to paramilitarism you see.

So what about the PUP and UPRG? Well, she doesn't know if they are linked to paramilitarism she said, but she knows "for sure" that SF and the IRA are linked.

So there's a thing. She doesn't know anything about the political links of the paramilitary groups which dominate her area, but she's certain about similar links of groups which have no presence at all in her area.

Do germs cause heart disease?:

Heart disease is now being linked to Chlamydia pneumoniae, a newly discovered bacterium that causes pneumonia and bronchitis. The germ is a relative of Chlamydia trachomatis, which causes trachoma, a leading cause of blindness in parts of the Third World. C. trachomatis is perhaps more familiar to us as a sexually transmitted disease that, left untreated in women, can lead to scarring of the fallopian tubes, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and tubal infertility.

Epilepsy drug lowers IQ:

A drug given to pregnant women to combat epilepsy can significantly lower their child's IQ, researchers say.

Scientists studied 375 children born to epileptic mothers in the Liverpool and Manchester areas.

They found children of mothers who took sodium valproate were more likely to have lower IQs and more likely to have anatomical abnormalities.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Growing chaos in Iraq as the insurgents turn on each other:

Local insurgents in the city of Fallujah are turning against the foreign fighters who have been their allies in the rebellion that has held the U.S. military at bay in parts of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, according to Fallujah residents, insurgent leaders and Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Relations are deteriorating as local fighters negotiate to avoid a U.S.-led military offensive against Fallujah, while foreign fighters press to attack Americans and their Iraqi supporters. The disputes have spilled over into harsh words and sporadic violence, with Fallujans killing at least five foreign Arabs in recent weeks, according to witnesses.

What killed the dinosaurs?:

Birds and mammals may have displaced dinosaurs gradually in the 20 million years before the disastrous asteroid collision traditionally blamed for wiping dinosaurs out, say a New Zealand evolutionary biologist and a British colleague.

Professor David Penny, from Massey University, and Matt Phillips from Oxford University said fossil and molecular evidence did not support the theory of an asteroid-impact extinction.

Popular theory says that birds and mammals flourished on Earth only after an asteroid impact wiped out the dinosaurs and pterosaurs, or flying reptiles, at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago. But Professor Penny and Dr Phillips are not convinced.

"We agree completely with the geophysicists that an extraterrestrial impact marks the end of the Cretaceous," Professor Penny said. "But after 25 years they have still not provided a single piece of evidence that this was the primary reason for the decline of the dinosaurs and pterosaurs."

The deadly weapons of loyalism:

Let's remember: despite several acts of decommissioning by the IRA, neither the UVF nor the UDA have handed over a single gun or bullet.

Mr. Ervine's latest remarks merely serve to perpetuate the myth that loyalist guns are kept only to defend loyalists from potential republican attack.

The reality is that loyalist guns are not kept silent but are actively used on the streets, whether in the commissioning of serious crime, drug dealing, intimidation, extortion, protection rackets, armed robberies, and violent vigilante attacks or are turned on each other in a series of bloody feuds.

What about loyalist decommissioning?:

A decade on from their 1994 ceasefire and loyalist decommissioning is still "years away", according to a group linked to the UDA.

The Ulster Political Research Group - which gives political analysis to the UDA - wants to talk to the government about the future of the organisation.

But David Nicholl of the UPRG said arms would be the "last thing" addressed in terms of any movement from the UDA.

"In reality, if you are talking about loyalist decommissioning, we are years from that," he said.

The real intentions of the DUP:

Despite some mixed messages from Paisley subalterns, the DUP have no interest in genuinely improving, democratising or reviving power-sharing or the all-Ireland institutions, or of implementing the broad equality agenda. Its priority is to hold up or, preferably, wreck the Good Friday process while consolidating its position as the ascendent party of Ulster unionism at the further expense of David Trimble and the Ulster Unionist Party.

As such, DUP's attention is firmly focused on the possibility of a UK general election next May, at which it hopes to replace the UUP as the leading unionist party in the Westminster parliament.

The Human-Bacteria Race:

Most of the cells in your body are not your own, nor are they even human. They are bacterial. From the invisible strands of fungi waiting to sprout between our toes, to the kilogram of bacterial matter in our guts, we are best viewed as walking "superorganisms," highly complex conglomerations of human, fungal, bacterial and viral cells.

That's the view of scientists at Imperial College London who published a paper in Nature Biotechnology Oct. 6 describing how these microbes interact with the body. Understanding the workings of the superorganism, they say, is crucial to the development of personalized medicine and health care in the future because individuals can have very different responses to drugs, depending on their microbial fauna.

The scientists concentrated on bacteria. More than 500 different species of bacteria exist in our bodies, making up more than 100 trillion cells. Because our bodies are made of only some several trillion human cells, we are somewhat outnumbered by the aliens. It follows that most of the genes in our bodies are from bacteria, too.

Is male homosexuality the price that must be paid for female fertility?:

Andrea Camperio-Ciani and colleagues argue genetic factors favouring homosexual male offspring could make women more fertile.

"Our data resolve this paradox by showing that there might be, hitherto unsuspected, reproductive advantages associated with male homosexuality," they said.

They looked at 98 homosexual and 100 heterosexual men and their relatives, which included more than 4,600 people overall.

The female relatives on the mother's side of the homosexual men tended to have more offspring than the female relatives on the father's side.

This suggests that these women who, in theory, pass on the gay trait to their male offspring are also more fertile.

In comparison, the female relatives on both the mother's and the father's side of the heterosexual men did not appear to be as fertile, having fewer offspring.

The researchers believe the homosexuality-increased fertility trait must be passed down on the female X chromosome.

The Irish economy will grow by up to 5% in 2005 as the economic recovery take a firmer hold, a report from a leading economist at AIB Global Treasury said. The Irish economy is moving back onto a firmer footing with real GDP forecast to grow by at least 4% in 2004 and by 5% in 2005. The economy's medium term growth potential is estimated at close to 5%, economists John Beggs and Oliver Mangan said. Real GNP, the Irish Government's preferred method of measuring economic growth, will expand by 3.5% in 2004 and by 4.3% in 2005. Economic growth will be more broadly based with a strong contribution from both domestic demand and from net exports. Domestic spending is forecast to rise by 3.5% to 4.0% in 2004 - 2005 while exports are expected to grow by 6% to 7%, AIB has forecast. Two factors critical to the outlook for the Irish economy are the sustainability of the global recovery and the prospects for the Irish labor market. There are improving grounds for optimism on both fronts, the report said.

Friday, October 08, 2004

A new poll of political party popularity in Ireland:

The nationwide poll, of 1,000 people taken last week, found Fianna Fáil on 35% (up two points since June), Fine Gael 24% (no change), Labour 13% (down two), Sinn Féin 12% (up one), Greens 4% (no change) and the PDs on 3% (down one).

How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?

None. "There's nothing wrong with that light bulb. It has served us honorably. When you say it's burned out, you're giving encouragement to the forces of darkness. Once we install a light bulb, we never, ever change it. Real men don't need artificial light."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

A new species of ape?:

Shelly Williams, a U.S. primatologist affiliated with the Jane Goodall Institute in Maryland, captured the apes on video in 2002 with the help of local people and was once briefly confronted by a group of four of them in dense forest.

This, along with other evidence, makes her think that there is a chance the animals could be a new species of great primate — in other words, an undiscovered genetic relative of humans.

Other possibilities are that it is gorilla-chimp hybrid, or a new sub-species of chimp that would be 50 percent bigger than its largest cousins.

Diminishing Birth Rates and the Fall of the Global Empire?:

Falling fertility leads not only to population aging but to population decline. World population could be shrinking before today's children retire, and there is an 85 percent chance that it will be doing so by the end of the century, according to projections by the International Institute for Applied Systems.

If global fertility rates converge with those seen today in Europe or among native-born Americans, by 2200 the world population could shrink to half of what it is today, according to U.N. projections. The only precedent we have for such a decline in population is the period of late antiquity, when falling birth rates helped bring about the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Apparently British loyalists don't just hate Irish Catholics:

Plans to build a Chinese community resource centre in a loyalist area of south Belfast are expected to be jettisoned because of the objections of local residents.

The Chinese Welfare Association has been given lottery grants of almost €500,000 to build the centre in the Donegall Pass area, but locals and loyalist paramilitaries objected to the centre during a recent consultation exercise.

The association has criticised the objections and has asked when Chinese people, some of whom have been living in Belfast for three generations, will be accepted.

Local DUP councillor Ruth Patterson has defended the objectors, saying they feared they were being squeezed out of their own area.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Lice analysis supports contact between modern and archaic humans:

The story of modern humans’ final interactions with the extinct Homo erectus may have been revealed by research into the evolution of lice.

The genetic differences between two types of human lice – which share a common ancestor – suggest that they spent most of the last 1.18 million years living on two distinct hominid species, but places their divergence into two distinct lice species slightly later than the split between Homo sapiens and Homo erectus.

The results suggest that our ancestors must have interacted with H. erectus either through fighting, sharing clothes or having sex, since both types of lice are now found on modern man and lice can only jump from one species to another if there is direct contact.

Paul Bremer says that troop levels were too low in Iraq:

In remarks published Tuesday, Bremer told an insurance conference at a West Virginia resort, "We never had enough troops on the ground" from the outset to stop what he described as "horrid" looting and the ensuing instability.

Bremer's assessment comes less than three weeks after unusually sharp criticism by leading Republican senators of the administration's management of the war. And, in another rare departure from the administration line, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told the Council of Foreign Relations Monday night that there was no "strong, hard evidence" of a link between al Qaeda terrorists and Saddam Hussein while he ruled Iraq.

Rumsfeld quickly backtracked Tuesday, saying he was "regrettably misunderstood."

But the statements contributed to the growing political problem for the White House.

Ireland is likely to turn in a growth rate of 4.5% in 2004, according to business advisers PricewaterhouseCoopers. The rate will be the highest in the eurozone, according to the firm's Economic Outlook report. Average growth in the eurozone for 2004 will be just 1.75%, it says. The report also predicts 5% growth in Ireland in 2005, with the eurozone average coming in at 2.25%.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Bank of Ireland's Chief Economist Dan McLaughlin has predicted growth rates of 6.5% for the Irish economy. He says that Ireland is in a state of transition, moving from the first Celtic Tiger period (1994 to 2000) when growth exceeded 9% a year to that of Tiger 2, with potential growth of 6.5% a year. He points out that this is three times the Euro area potential growth rate and double that of the United States. He says that the growth rates of the Tiger 1 period was achieved through a combination of 3.7% annual productivity growth and employment growth of 5.5%. The Irish economy is now at full employment, so consequently, the economy's potential growth rate is now lower. A growth rate of 6.5% would be made up of 3.7% productivity growth and 2.7% employment growth, with the flow of workers now constrained by the growth of the labor force.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Jude Collins on the importance of names in Britain's colonial activities:

The fact is, from Elizabethan times and earlier, England has used names to pin down its colonial possessions.

In more recent centuries we have the King's Hall and the Royal Victoria Hospital, Windsor House and Balmoral, and Prince Charles Way and a host of other examples – names given to streets and buildings and places so the people living in them may come to see themselves and their country as somehow lacking legitimacy and worth until linked with the greater power next door.

England's history in Ireland has been one of systematic repression and exploitation, sinking occasionally to acts of barbarism against those who attempted to resist this exploitation.

And when people who have been oppressed get the chance, they naturally want to remove the signs and symbols honouring those who oppressed them. That's what they're doing in New Zealand, India, South Africa, Iraq. That's what they plan to do in Derry.

Brian Feeney on the trustworthiness of Tony Blair:

This week it's clear that the shine has finally worn off Blair. Opinion polls show his popularity and trustworthiness with the voters is at an all-time low.

The leader of the Scot Nats, Alec Salmond, calls him a liar, and along with a group of MPs Salmond is trying to organise his impeachment for lying to Parliament about Iraq in 2002 and 2003. Compared to what some MPs and members of his own party are calling him, Salmond's strictures are mild.