Archive for January, 2006

UCC Politics Society

Friday, January 20th, 2006

The newly formed UCC Politics Society has a website, and guess who hosts it and put it up? Yea. Using WordPress 2.0 for now, will be updating the template shortly.

There is also one more person in Ireland blogging because of it…lol. Isn’t that right Jonathan? The bug spreads.

Any suggestions for a header picture would be welcome.

Google defies US over search data

Friday, January 20th, 2006

This is indeed a curious turn of events.

The internet search engine Google is resisting efforts by the US Department of Justice to force it to hand over data about what people are looking for. Google was asked for information on the types of query submitted over a week, and the websites included in its index. The department wants the data to try to show in court it has the right approach in enforcing an online pornography law. It says the order will not violate personal privacy, but Google says it is too broad and threatens trade secrets.

Yahoo and MSN meanwhile, either admitted or tacitly admitted complying. What is Google protecting? Is it trade secrets?

Update: Dan Drezner adds his weighty two cents to the debate.

Palestinian ambassador interview

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Richard Delevan, a much missed regular feature in the Irish blogosphere has a post today with an exerpt of an interview he did with the Palestinian ambassador to Ireland. You can read the first part of the interview here.

Staff rebellion at the World Bank?

Friday, January 20th, 2006

A good friend of the staff here at Gavin’s Blog, Steve Clemons, has a story on an array of departures at the World Bank, since neo-conservative/neo-idealist Paul Wolfowitz became head of the organisation. The money quote:

In recent months, picking up steam in recent weeks, there has been a massive exodus of top talent from the World Bank. According to reports, the senior Ethics Officer at the Bank has departed. Also on the exit roster are the Vice President for East Asia & Pacific, the Chief Legal Counsel, the Bank’s top Managing Director, the Director of Institutional Integrity (which monitors internal and external corruption), the Vice President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, and the head of ISG (Information Solutions Group).

According to one senior insider who feels as if Wolfowitz is gut-punching the most talented teams at the bank and indicated that morale is plummeting, “Wolfowitz just does not talk to his Vice Presidents. He speaks to a few close advisors — Kevin Kellems, Robin Cleveland, Karl Jackson, some others — but a lot of very good people are leaving.”

What Wolfowitz has done that has started a serious wave of negative sentiment against him among his ranks is that he has appointed Kevin Kellems — Vice President Cheney’s former Communications Director and Spokesman — as a “director” of the bank, which formally reports to a Vice President of the Bank — while at the same time making him Senior Advisor to Wolfowitz.

In other words, Wolfowitz is forcing a political appointment at the “director level” of the bank — which is never done. “Director” positions are fairly low in the World Bank bureaucracy and are filled by a competitive process and the merits of one’s work — not political imposition.

But read the whole post. Is Wolfowitz taking lessons from Bolton?

802.11n agreed

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Finally. I remember writing about 802.11n proposals way back in 2001. At the time 802.11b was dominant, and the debate was who would win in the 802.11g versus 802.11a debate. It was always going to be ‘g’, working on a different frequency than 2.4Ghz was never going to be feasible long term – with requirements for backwards compatibility it seems that 802.11a has fallen by the wayside.

I did use some pre-N wireless in Washington, and they seem to have a huge range and high bandwidth – now all we need is people to share their broadband and we will all be happy.

The proposed IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi standard will enable high-performance, next-generation wireless local area networking (WLAN) products. The draft supports speeds of up to 600 Mbps, a significant leap over today’s Wi-Fi networks which promise speeds of up to 108Mbps, and will enable wireless systems to deliver greater range.

Broadband increase

Friday, January 20th, 2006

As I predicted in a comment over at Bernie’s blog, minimum level broadband will be raised from 1Mb to 2Mb. For BT customers this will happen on January 23rd. Download allowances have also been increased.

I heard rumours *cough* back in October that this would happen early in 2006.

Still doesn’t beat the 14Mb connection I was getting in UCC last week. ;-)

Go for launch

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

We are go for launch at 7pm GMT…watch it here.

Vincent misses the point

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Normally I like Vincent Browne, even when I don’t agree with him. But todays piece in the Irish Times is bordering on lunacy, at least in my opinion. An opinion that I am expressing freely. On a blog. On the ‘Internet’.

Has Vincent heard of new media?

Let’s put his views up here for debate. Has Vincent not thought that the State putting these limits on media might not be counter-productive, and lead to yet more State censorship or power?

CanWest, the Canadian media firm that owns 45 per cent of TV3, casually announced on Monday that it is to sell its shareholding in TV3, which is otherwise owned by Granada TV (43 per cent) and an Irish company, Windmill Lane (which owns the remaining 12 per cent).

This announcement is regarded as merely of passing interest, and indeed, why should it matter which foreign multinational owns the largest stake in the only commercial television company in the State (that is of course assuming RTÉ is not “commercial”, which of course is not true)? Anyway aren’t most of the other media owned by foreign or domestic corporations?

Regional newspapers, once family-owned titles, are almost all owned by Independent News and Media plc, Thomas Crosbie Holdings, the Johnston Group (British), Dunfermline Press (Scottish) and Alpha Newspaper Group (Northern Ireland).

The national newspaper business is dominated by Independent News and Media plc, which is controlled by someone who lives somewhere in the Caribbean, we are told (and who rejoices – for once the cliche is appropriate – in the affectation of a British title).

Rupert Murdoch controls the Irish Sun, the Sunday Times and the News of the World, and Thomas Crosbie Holdings (now a sizeable Irish-owned corporation) owns the Irish Examiner and the Sunday Business Post, along with several provincial newspapers and radio stations. Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail in the UK, owns Ireland On Sunday and Metro and will soon launch the Irish Daily Mail.

In radio, State-owned goliath RTÉ has three of the four national radio stations, but almost all the other stations are foreign or corporate owned. Today FM was bought by the British Emap company recently. UTV holds the largest commercial radio market share in Ireland.

Only Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp – which owns 98FM, Newstalk 106, Spin FM and East Coast Radio – challenges this dominance.

It may seem self-aggrandizing on the part of someone in the media to make this claim, but I think it is true: the media is where it is at. It used to be that the three great transmitters of ideology were religion, education and the media. Now, with religion parked for the time being at least, and education faltering, the media is the main transmitter of ideology.

It shapes our politics, our society, our values, our culture, the way we think and what we think about. It sets the political agendas, it determines what is important and what is not politically, it decides what we talk about and, indeed, how we talk about what we talk about.

In other words, we have allowed foreign and corporate-owned media to run our country, our society, and our minds.

It will be argued that we have bulwarks against this in RTÉ and The Irish Times. But increasingly, both go along with the neo-liberal herd; for instance, with the “concern” that Iran is acting irresponsibly over its decision to develop nuclear energy, although it is in breach of no treaty or convention in so doing. Neither challenges the presumption of the US, Britain and France, all armed with stockpiles of nuclear weapons, in threatening another nation with dire consequences if it even hankers after the prospect of having a few nuclear weapons, nor their collective silence over Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons.

All the media have bought into the neo-liberal consensus that the dictates of the market have to be obeyed almost irrespective of the human consequence, and the US has to be obeyed, almost irrespective of the sovereignty consequences.

Poverty and inequality will always be with us. Those who complain about police corruption almost certainly have subversive or criminal agenda. Organised crime is the collective criminality of small-time criminals, not the collective criminality of banks, or stockbrokers or large public corporations. Of course dissident voices are permitted, even encouraged in this media environment, but more as an assurance of the fairness of the media than as a realistic balance to the overwhelming weight of the main media message.

It is entirely within our power as a society to stop this. We could have a rule that no single legal entity, be that a person or a corporation, own or control, directly or indirectly, more than a single media outlet in our country, subject to a few very rare exceptions. It would mean The Irish Times trust could continue to own The Irish Times (and long may that endure), but that’s it. It would mean the break-up of Independent Newspapers and of RTÉ and Rupert Murdoch could decide which of his media should be available here. Yes, there might be problems with EU competition law, but does that have to be a trump card? This would open the way for diverse media voices, reflecting not just competing corporate interests, but competing values, ideologies, interests and agendas. We should not allow our democracy and minds to be subverted by corporate media.

Pluto launch

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

I was all geared up to watch the New Horizons launch, and now its been scrubbed for another day :-(. Here’s hoping it lifts off tomorrow.

Header image

Monday, January 16th, 2006

I am trying to decide on a nice new image for the top of the blog, for the moment I am using a pic I stole off Rymus, though I have cropped images of my own at the ready. Perhaps I should let my readers decide what looks best, as long as there is a clear winner! Having read this story it appears that the image I use is extremely important!

Irish Blog Awards

Monday, January 16th, 2006

Nominations are closing January 23rd, so get your votes in now.

Impeaching George Bush

Monday, January 16th, 2006

I meant to link to this last week, I found it via Steve who provides his own comments here.

Elizabeth Holtzman argues that George Bush has done enough in office to be impeached, and she doesn’t pull any punches:

As a matter of constitutional law, these and other misdeeds constitute grounds for the impeachment of President Bush. A President, any President, who maintains that he is above the law–and repeatedly violates the law–thereby commits high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for impeachment and removal from office. A high crime or misdemeanor is an archaic term that means a serious abuse of power, whether or not it is also a crime, that endangers our constitutional system of government.

Mission to Pluto to launch Tuesday

Monday, January 16th, 2006

The vastness even of our own solar system is astonishing, that it would take just a year to get to Jupiter, and then another eight to get to Pluto gives you some sense of scale. Because of the orbits of the planets, this mission really has to go ahead before February 14th, or else the probe won’t arrive until 2020, rather then 2015. I will be about 34 when I read news of the probes arrival. Interesting side note…

It will be the fastest spacecraft ever launched, zooming past the moon in nine hours and reaching Jupiter in just over a year at a speed nearly 100 times that of a jetliner.

Iran row escalates

Monday, January 16th, 2006

I thought this quote rather interesting:

IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei told Newsweek magazine that after three years of intensive work, he is still not able to conclude that Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed purely at energy creation rather than the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

“If they have the nuclear material and they have a parallel weaponisation programme along the way, they are really not very far – a few months – from a weapon,” he said.

With the US military stretched, how can a military option be considered. Special forces/air strikes, combined with a trade embargo, seems like the only options. And when Bush says he is seeking a non-military solution, is it the same as when he said the same during the inspections in Iraq in early 2003?

Classic SNL

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

Really, really good.