I've known for a while that the international telecoms companies have wanted to put the Internet genie back in to its bottle so they could charge for access in the same way they make deals between themselves for international calls (they are loosing calls to Skype and more) but I didn't know that the proposal had actually gone to the UN.
If they succeed the internet could get very expensive, and start-ups may be forced away from the market entirely.
So this shot is being fired at anyone who can access the internet then.
The fight for control of the internet has become critical | John Kampfner
If plans to put cyberspace under a secretive UN agency go through, states' censoring of the web will be globally enshrined In horror movies, the scariest moments usually come from the monster you can't see. So the same goes for real life, or at least online life. Over the past few years, largely out of sight, governments have been clawing back freedoms on the internet, turning an invention that was designed to emancipate the individual into a too…
I don't know if I'm able to get on the list yet, but Coder Dojo is going to be running a session in Leinster House on Wednesday July 18.
For the non-Irish on the feed, Leinster House is the Irish Houses of Parliament building (housing the Dáil and the Senate). Needless to say its a big deal; I'll have to wear a clean hoodie.
Coder Dojo is less than a year old, I'll have to check my diary later, but it started towards the end of August 2011 with the first class in the National Software Centre in Mahon, Cork. Technically I was too old to go, but I came along and tried out learning simple HTML with the kids that the classes were intended for. (I learned about the Marquee tag, and vowed never to use it outside of demos and jest). Shortly afterwards I started mentoring to active coding minds from age 8 to 16 mostly (no I didn't ask the young lady her age, but the junior certificate hit this year). There are now 41 dojos in Ireland and 104 across the globe.
The dojos have no money. Its all volunteers and donated time, places, some equipment and usually a BYOD (bring your own device) setup. And while we have a minor Minecraft addiction, its also a Minecraft server build and machinima project, so it sort of works out. The lack of a government having to pay means that they like it.
The fact that its a group who said "sod it I'm going to do it myself" is something a government might want to be worried about. Imagine what a bunch of 9 year olds could have done with the old voting machines about to be scrapped.
Ubuntu, as well as being a very good operating system translates roughly from the South African root (not sure which language, sorry) in to English as “pleasure derived from the good fortune of others”. Its direct counterpart is found in German, namely Schadenfreude; “the pleasure derived from the bad fortune of others”.
For the last two weeks, its been a guilty pleasure working its way through the UK after the shock and anger has subsided. All of this has been aimed squarely at Rupert Murdoch.
I’m actually writing about this due to asking about the Loose Bloggers Consortium (LBC) that Grannymar writes with. That and I need a deadline to work with. This week’s topic, nominated by Anu is “Guilty Pleasures”.
And for many in in UK at least, there is pleasure to be derived… let’s ask John Finnemore on the BBC’s “Now Show“…
If you have been living in a cave (or in a compound using only dead letter drops containing USB disks for news updates) for the last few years you would have missed the power of Rupert Murdoch and News International. This man owns media properties throughout the world (and a few satellites above it) most famously a stable of newspapers in the UK and Fox News in the US. The man has had power, power to undermine and control the thrones of power in very high places. Prime Ministers, arguably Presidents, but certainly congressmen and Senators and, if the allegations are true, police were under his sway. And now he is falling from grace because of a child called Milly.
He is currently facing investigations in the UK, and the allegations of possible hacking of the telephones of 9/11 victims and their families have sparked FBI and Senate investigations in the US. Its conceivable that News International, now a US based company, may either be broken up, or will be forced to shed all the Murdoch family members at its heart.
It turns out that hacking a mobile phone, in Ireland at least, is actually pathetically easy. You have to know your victims phone number, say 081-1234567. If you dial 081-5-1234567 you go directly to their voicemail, and can attempt a remote login. Depending on the network the default password is 0000 or 1234. Given that most people dial in to their voicemail account from their registered phone, few people realise that there is a password to be changed and that they can access it from any handset. And if you can get hold of their phone, you can change the password in 20 seconds. Thanks to Brian Greene for the research (and he will never get to borrow my phone).
When someone generally disliked falls, you tend to find a few gleeful at the drop in power. Its a guilty pleasure.
But of course its not my guilty pleasure. Mine is the Transformers toys. I like the way they give you the impression of being one thing, guiding you one way, then uncovering that its something else. Or maybe slight of hand is my pleasure? Maybe. But its not as interesting as the still ongoing news story.
So why shouldn’t the Irish Government look in to in to selling Irish Diaspora Bonds? The advantages are that it appears to take the pressure off the Irish taxpayer and allow for some of the bailout to be paid for. These are market bonds which appeal not to the head of the investor, but the heart of the immigrant; which means a lower interest rate might be acceptable. Actually if the bonds are physical bonds and well designed, a bunch might be frames and never cashed in (unlikely, the Irish Government would be better off selling prints of “those Biffo portraits” as a fund raising measure).
However its a PR disaster. Most Irish taxpayers view this as salvaging the Irish banking industry, not helping the country. These bonds would be viewed in a similar light. This has to be an appear to the heart. “We screwed up, help us get back to square one”. Its blunt, honest, and might actually work. But what can be offered in return?
Discounts to stays in Ireland? Not a free date at a NAMA owned hotel (which would economically mess with non-NAMA hotels), but a voucher which all Irish hotels can accept. Remember not all of these bond holders will return to cash in these vouchers (the reason why so many companies are happy to sell vouchers; the low cash-in rate). Special access to certain events? An immigrant stand at the next St. Patrick’s Day parade is not inconceivable. Small, silly stuff. But stuff that might turn a heart to a “yes” while a head says “no”.
If you are part of the Irish Diaspora, would you buy one?
And given that the return would be below the current market rates, what would you want (that is legal folks) in return for buying them?
The Irish Dáil has one major failing; parish pump politics. There are a couple of theoriesas to why, but it seems the only national level views are to be found in the cabinet, the shadow cabinet and the Seanad. And that scope is why its needed. Its problems (and its expense) is why the two main parties are calling for a referendum to abolish it. Call the referendum to tear its structures and stalled reforms down, but build something in its place. Or have major reforms of some other type.
This is the quite time for Irish politics. The media moratorium to allow people to make their minds up just before the Dáil elections. And this has been an unusual election campaign for a number of reasons. The one that I want to talk about is the comments canvassers made; this time people want to talk to the TDs about national and not local issues. Usually TD have to look in to every pothole (sometimes literally), and if they aren’t seen to be doing a lot at the local level, then they become ex-TDs come the next election. This is a problem.
The Seanad on the other hand has a national view. Of its three sections one of them have even be a de-facto international view.
Their problem is that the Seanad is seen as a resting ground for failed TDs and a grooming ground for future TD. In short, political daycare.
The fix; trim the fat off.
The Seanad is split in to 3 selections/elections. The 6 University Senators, the 49 Panel Senators and the 11 Appointed Senators.
The University Senators are elected in a postal vote by graduates from the NUI colleges and The University of Dublin (better known as Trinity College), 3 from each set. As its a postal vote, there are anecdotes of parents posting the voting forms off to their emigrant children. These are the only diaspora votes. These guys have to work hard to get elected. They have to be seen working hard. Ask any Irish person to name some senators and you will get the university senators named back at you (or Ivor Callely due to the scandal and court dates). These are the people who should have their presence expanded.
Actually the University Senators were supposed to be expanded over 10 years ago. The University of Limerick and Dublin City University were supposed to be electing senators, but the committee for Seanad Reform blocked every attempt to change things. I seriously believe that is the initial reason for the referendum. Any attempt to change things has been consistently blocked until a Callely related crisis point was reached.
And as a DCU graduate, I want my vote!
These senators are usually non-party affiliated, which means the whips from the main Dáil parties can’t actually get them to follow the party line to the letter.
I would suggest not only keeping these senators, but expanding them. And if whatever Taoiseach decides their new (if any) legal existence, remember these guys have the country’s back. If an extreme reduction is needed then have the Seanad consist of only the university Senators.
The 49 Panel Senators however… well. I think I need to explain how they get their jobs.
There are 5 Vocational Panels in the Senate; Administrative (including public administration), Agricultural (including food), Cultural and Educational (and the Irish language), Industrial and Commercial (including technology) and Labour. These senators are “elected” by county and city councils as well as incoming TDs. I use the quotes around “elected” as all of this happens behind closed doors. While I’m sure that there are a few arguments along the way, its not a transparent system, and it tends to pick party Senators who quietly work with the whip with no apparent qualifications for their panel appointments.
These are the ones I would like to see changed with a nice bright light shone on them.
What would I propose? Well…
First split the country in to 5 Senatorial electoral regions based on population. For the sake of convenience I’ll go with North, South East, West and Dublin (very “All Ireland Talent Show”, sorry). These regions will hold public elections at the same time as the fixed term local elections (thus keeping the link to the city and county councils) but with the following rules.
A prospective Senator has to select on which panel she or he seeks election.
A prospective Senator cannot seek election to more than one panel per election.
A prospective Senator cannot seek a seat in the Local elections the same time (s)he is seeking election to the Seanad.
Each region elects a single Senator for each panel position. (5 senators per region).
A Senate seat cannot be left unfilled for more than 6 months. Either an automatic by-election is called or, if the next local election is less than 18 months from the Senators departure from the seat, a temporary Senator can be appointed by the councils in the region and their reasons for the appointment must be published and read as part of the new Senator’s maiden speech. (Something which should be considered for TDs too. That ticking clock tends to get things done too).
This has a few benefits.
Its now a risk to become a Senator if you are grooming someone from the councils. They can’t go back to their existing seat.
Its an open election, the public can vote.
While they are seeking election to a region, its large enough to prevent (or at least limit) parish pump politics.
As the prospective Senator has to declare which panel they are running for, its closer to a job interview. Hopefully the public will elect the person they feel is most suited for the post in their area.
This does make the process open and it reduces the number of Senators by almost 50%. There will be some cost savings in having combining the elections, and having part of the Senate sitting when the rest of the Oireachtas is dissolved means that there is some consistency of power. One clear problem is the cost of campaigning to such a large area gives the organised parties an advantage over independents.
And finally we have the 11 Senators appointed by the Taoiseach.
To the victor go some spoils. Its original purpose was to ensure that the incoming government has some control over the Senate (and build in minority presence) but since my proposal is to reduce the Panel seats, I’d like to reduce these appointees too.
The Panel of 5 compels an elegant solution. The Taoiseach’s appointees are reduced to 5; one for each panel. He (so far they have all been men) must declare which panel each is being appointed to. Hopefully there will be some logic to this appointments, but I can see the Public administration appointee being a recently felled comrade in party.
There is one final requirement needed for a reformed Seanad. A method to remove Senators. I would think a motion for removal requiring 75% for the other Senators would be a reasonable and clear-cut method. With the reduced numbers a party whip system shouldn’t be able to force this issue, and there should be no party whip permitted for such a motion for removal.
Of course, for any of this to happen you’ll first have to seek a referendum on…
Articles 14.2, 15.2, all of articles 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24.
In short, Seanad reform is well overdue. Given the recent history of Seanad Reform, it will probably have to be torn down (in the legal sense) in order for any changes to be made. But given the recent history of the lower chamber of the Dáil, is needed.
Should the Dáil become a true national concern and is treated as such by all the TD’s, then maybe the Seanad won’t be a requirement, but for the moment; its needed.
In Ireland we end up with the politicians we elect. That sounds perfectly logical and democratic; suggesting anything else would be, well, non-democratic.
However this means 3 things, firstly a TD needs to make a lot of people happy to be elected and re-elected. All politics is local, but a large amount of a local TDs work is giving their constituents the things they are already entitled to. National politics can be scuppered due to local pressures.
Secondly a TD tends to be a certain type. The talking professions such as teachers and lawyers (and one or two professional PR types) account for most of the Dail. The corporate types (who understand standard expenses claims systems) or small business people tend to not run as they don’t have the time. That and family ties. If their mother/father/close relation was a TD, there is a high chance that they will give it a shot too. Of course there are the party lines being followed.
And thirdly, a TD usually wants to be re-elected. Which means caution and conservatism.
So why not try something out. Dail reform is being talked about so lets add a radical element. A National Lottery. We already have the “millionaire raffle” so why not offer a more desirable prize; a job. Also having the National Lottery run this makes sense as they have all the infrastructure in place.
I know it sounds dumb, but how many people have said “I could do better”, so lets let them. Its one way to get a random person in there. The seat would have to be non-local, as its a national lottery, anywhere could have a winner. There should be some criteria for eligibility, I assume that the standard types for a TD would apply (age limit, Irish citizen and not in prison etc) but with a few additional catches. Current public servants would be ineligible as would currently sitting TDs and Senators. This is important; the winner cannot win next round.
Why, well its a random element. One person who is (at the start anyway) whip-less. He or she need not follow a party. This person will, statistically, not have the standard background of a TD. Could be a Moore Street trader, or a Cavan farmer or a new citizen in Mullingar. And as he or she is not incumbent to a constituency, then they can think a little more nationally. Naturally he or she will have a local focus, but those strict constituency lines may not apply. And there is nothing to stop this person trying to run as a standard TD, and declaring his or her constituency (probably local for them) next election. But they cannot try to enter again next time. And the next person to get the job will also be a random (self) selection.
Anyway, it would be an experiment. And could shake up the ruling class.
I’ve done the transcript of the video clip below mainly because audio indexing does not work that well for video clips. And video clips have a habit of disappearing off the web.
The other reason is that this clip seems to be the turning point for a lot of discussions. And possibly some action.
—Start of transcript
Mr. Chairman, I’m surprised at the minister there now.
First of all Mr Minister (directed at Minister Noel Dempsey) you made a bags of it in the beginning by changing the judges. You made a complete bags of it at that time, because I went to the La Foy commission and ye had seven barristers there, questioning me and telling that I was telling lies, when I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got a merciful beating after it, and then stuffed…
… he came along the following morning and put holy communion in my mouth.
You don’t know what happened there. You haven’t the foggiest, you’re talking through your hat there. And you’re talking to a Fianna Fáil man, a former councilor and former mayor you’re talking to, that worked tooth and nail or you, for the party that you’re talking about now. Ye didn’t do it right, ye got it wrong.
And apologize for doing that. Because you don’t know what I feel inside me. You don’t know the hurt I am.
You said it was non-adversarial.
Throwing questions at us.
I tri.. attempted to commit suicide, there’s the woman who saved me from committing suicide, on me way down from Dublin, after spending five days at the commission. Five days I spent at the commission. They brought a man over from Rome, ninety odd years of age, to tell me I was telling lies.
That I wasn’t beaten for an hour, non-stop by two of them.
By two of them.
Non-stop from head to toe without a shred of cloth on my body.
My God minister.
And could I speak to you (comment directed to Leo Varadkar, Fianna Gael), and ask your leader, would you stop making a political football of this.
You hurt this when you do that.
You tear the shreds from inside our body.
For God’s sake, try and give us some peace.
Try to give us some peace and not to continue hurting us.
That woman will tell you how many times I jump out of the bed at night with the sweat pumping out of me. Because I see these fellas at the end of the bed with their fingers doing that (gestures) to me. And pulling me in to the room, to rape me, to bugger me and bate the shite out of me. That’s the way it is.
And you know what?
You know what, sometimes I listen to the leader of Fianna Fáil. I even listened to the apology. T’was mealy mouthed, but at least t’was an apology.
At least t’was an apology.
The Rosminians said in the report, they said they were easy on us. The first day I went to them. The first day to Rosminians in my home which is Ferryhouse in Clonmel, ’cause its the only home I know. He said “you’re in it for the money”.
We didn’t want money.
We didn’t want money. We wanted the pr… someone to stand up and say “yes, these fellas were buggered, these people were ra…”
Little girls. My daughter, oh sorry, my sister. A month old when she was put in to an institution. Eight of us from the one family, dragged by the ISPCC cruelty man. Put in to two cars, brought to the court in Clonmel. Left standing there without food or anything, and the fella in the long black frock and the white collar came along and he put us in to a van.
Not a van, a scut truck, I don’t know what you call it now. And landed us below with two hundred other boys. Two night later I was raped.
How can anyone…
You’re talking about constitution. These people would gladly say “yes” to a constitution to freeze the funds of the religous orders.
This state, this country of ours, would say “yes” to that constitition if you have to change it.
Don’t say you can’t change it.
You’re the governement of this state. You run this state. So for God’s sake stop mealy mouthing. ‘Cause I’m sick of it.
I’m sick of it.
You’re turning me away from voting Fianna Fáil which I have done from the first day that I could vote. Because. And you know me. You know me Mister Minister. You’ve met me on a number of ocassions. So you know what I’m like.
The words “Counselling services available” (closely followed by counseling services swamped, contact telephone numbers below) barely cover the horror of the “endemic” abuse suffered by children in Irish Catholic institutions over 60 years. The report details 800 abusers (both men and women) who were given approval by Irish society in their abuse. This is not the complete figure. A separate report about abuse in the Dublin region only is also due.
The full report, all five volumes of it, took nine years nine years to compile and while covering a period of six decades and finding thousands of boys and girls that were terrorized by priests and nuns, it dosen’t show the full picture. Public opinion at the time refused to believe the victims. The victims were vilified while the abusers took their lauded place in society. The victims left, be it through suicide, or through emigration.
The 800 figure is also wrong. Many others knew, and turned a blind eye. Refused to believe that those given the task to watch their morality could be the depraved ones.
To cap off the offense, the victims and the families were not allowed in to the press conference, which gave very little detail in the prepared speech, and permitted no questions.
It took a long time for the stories to emerge, and while the church is still respected by some, others find its protection if the abusers unforgivable (including those to “admire the bravery of the abusers“). I suspect that its the truth coming out behind these tales which have helped the numbers of regular church goers to dwindle.
Its also a national, and international news story now.
Volume three includes the witness statements, and chapter 14, about lay teacher abusing and being defended by the Department of Education, got extensive reviews on today’s Morning Ireland.
Shocked but sadly not surprised,
The HSE offers a free National Counselling Service for anyone who has suffered childhood abuse on 1800 235 234.
The related Connect service, for out of hours contact, is on1800 235 235 from the Republic of Ireland (freephone) 00800 235 235 55 from Britain and Northern Ireland (free from landlines). www.connectcounselling.ie
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre operates a 24-hour helpline on 1800 77 88 88.
Decisions for Heroes is a project that Robin Blandford has been working on for a while. And talking about it. In fact I assumed that the product has been launched a few months back. I was wrong; today is launch day.
And he’s built something amazing – technology that will help rescue teams save more lives. Its essentially a project management tool combined with an incident reporting mechanism that’s able to monitor team histories and readiness and raise alarms for expiration or under manning conditions.
What makes it different is that it is designed for a particular niche; rescue teams. Are the exercises and training reflecting the actual calls? Or the actually locations? Are there enough cliff climbers on-call this weekend? Are there certifications that are about to run out? This kind of thing actually saves lives. Its been studied, over 1,800 rescuers from Ireland, UK, USA, Greece, and Australia helped to trial and shape the development of the software. But one stands out. Robin is a volunteer member of the Irish Coast Guard (a cliff rescue climber to be precise) so he has seen first hand what is needed, and what is the most useful way to get that information across.
I’m sure that the basis of D4H can be used in more business-like settings, or indeed in logistic based industries.
And from saving lives, we move to a performance management technology that may cost the careers of a few politicians.
Created by John HandelaarKildare Street is, almost simply a database. A database of what is being said in both Houses of the Oireachtas, by whom, when, how often and the complete text of what they say so it can be parsed for content. Based off the UK project, theyworkforyou.com, you can keep an eye on your favourite politician, or all the politicians in a constituency, or even when a particular word or phrase is spoken in the Dáil or Seanad Éireann debates or in written answers or questions to the Dáil.
There are a few bugs still in the system (it is a beta and since Irish addresses are vague it can misidentify a constituency, particularly when one side of a road is in one constituency, and the other side is in another constituency. It happens), and there is up to a 24 hour delay between the speech in the chambers and the text of the speech hitting the system (not a fault with the system but with the source; debates.oireachtas.ie.
Its useful to find out which TD or Senator has stayed quite all along (the records go back to 2004), and finding out how they actually voted on subjects of concern to you. Then you can challenge them when they call around asking for your vote.
Do challenge them. Right now, I’m wondering if there is a version for the MEPs.
Two people who should be praised for being heroes and making a difference.