Digest – May 17 2010



Financial Times six-page feature on Ireland, ‘How bankers brought Ireland to its knees’. Progressive Economy has some further comment.

Is anyone else confused by the coverage this story is getting? O’Cuiv refuses to rule out cuts to the old age pension, why is this shocking? He deserves praise for having the bottle to be honest, in my opinion. The other option for him would have been to… well, lie.

The Sunday Times has a piece on the journalism jobs market and what young people will need to do to start a career. It’s UK-centred but the situation is similar here…

Today, you’ll need luck, flair, an alternative source of income, endless patience, an optimistic disposition, sharp elbows and a place to stay in London. But the essential quality for success now is surely tenacity. Look around the thinning newsrooms of the national titles. Look at the number of applicants for journalism courses, at the queue of graduates — qualified in everything except the only thing that matters, experience — who are desperate for unpaid work on newspapers and magazines. Look at the 1,200 people who applied in September for one reporter’s position on the new Sunday Times website. You’d shoot a horse with those odds.

It’s not really “experience” that matters, I’d argue, it’s what time spent in a newsroom teaches you. Having “interned for three weeks on the newsdesk in The Sunday Times” on your CV is pretty useless. However, many of the abilities you begin to hone during those few weeks are valuable. Learning to recognise a a story, what the best angle is to take on it, who will comment and how to put it together comes with practice. Students could get some practice covering national stories (not to mention make some contacts) if they started a news blog. Many – not all – of the skills learned during work experience are also developed while running a news site. So where are all the student-run news blogs? Are the lecturers not encouraging that type of thing? Am I the only one seeing a massive niche?

On that matter, are there any media lecturers working in Irish institutes who are blogging? Not to my knowledge.

Sidenote: ‘News cafes’ seem to be working well in the Czech Republic. I’d love to try something like that. Maybe rent a corner of Buswells… gerrup to a bitta mischief.

Moving on. Constanin Grudgiev; ‘EU on the Brink‘.

Adrian Russell of De Paper has loads of pictures of the new Aviva stadium up on De Blog.

The documents relating to the fruit-bat blow-job story. UCC’s lack of comment is allowing their reputation to be damaged in the international media.

Digital Rights Ireland on the flaws in the data protection directive. On that note, search engine for Facebook updates? See here. Google collects data on all non-passworded Wifi networks with their streetview car? Yep, but it was an honest mistake, they claim. Also, Eoin O’Dell has spotted a nice cartoon on privacy in the digital age.

Did Joe.ie and comedy troupe, ‘The Hardy Bucks’, get Munster beaten by Leinster?

What wrong, if any, did Flannery et al commit? Did Flannery somehow impugn the name of Munster by allowing comedy skits to be filmed in and around their training area? Why did Joe.ie decide to spike their own video? The whole story remains untold.

WORLD Continue reading “Digest – May 17 2010”

Digest – May 10 2010

InDigestion, see below.


This story is nuts (“Anglo boss ‘was told to keep quiet'” – Sunday Times). I think the people have shell-shock from the constant stream of similar stories coming out of Anglo and the Department of Finance. “Oh, that again? Heh. Yeah.”

Irish Times business podcast feature on public sector reform in Minnesota is interesting.

May 5th; Singing the sash, May 7th; singing the blues, from Slugger.

Abigail Rieley on the moment the jury returned the verdict in the trial of David Curran and Sean Keogh for the murder of two Polish men. Touching.

Dierdre O’Shaughnessy of the Cork Independent writes from Port Au Prince.

The most mundane aspects of life are here: women wash clothes in small basins of water distributed from tankers; they cook whatever food they have outside their tents at small camp fires; they hang clothing to dry on their tarps.

Cracker of an opinion piece from Patrick Freyne on the back page of the Sunday Tribune.

Yet, apart from a public sector march here or there, a once-off kerfuffle over medical cards for pensioners, and four million late night pub-rants, the Irish public have been very, very compliant. In Iceland, the populace responded to their economic clusterf*ck by descending on their houses of parliament banging pots and pans. In America, right-wing groups protest against their own healthcare interests with a network of gun-toting “Tea-Parties”. Here the public sector demonstrated their anger at pay-cuts by refusing to answer a few phones while the rest of us express our rage at a huge bank-bailout and the failure of our institutions by working harder (take that, banks!).

Faced with the same problems as Greece (and we have some of the same problems) I think we actually would resort to a campaign of dirty looks. We expect our politicians to guess how we feel, like the passive aggressive spouse in a sitcom called That’s Ireland! (“What do you want now, honey?” asks the Dáil shrugging its shoulders. “Is it a medical card? Is it a new road? I just can’t tell!” Cue laughter from the studio audience in the bond markets).

Feature on prostitution in Ireland by Conor Lally in The Irish Times.

WORLD Continue reading “Digest – May 10 2010”

Digest – May 2 2010

Knackered. Not much Irish stuff this week, haven’t been keeping tabs diligently enough.


Abigail Reiley’s take on the whole journalists on Twitter and breaking news question. Looking at the standards, journalistic ethics and realities regarding how the sad news of Gerry Ryan’s death emerged.

Professor Tom Garvin ruffles feathers in UCD via The Irish Times. Response from Ferdinand Von Prondzynski.

Sara Burke on the stand-off between the health unions and the HSE, with Croke Park in mind.

I’m including the blogging round-up for the EU blogosphere here because I like the idea of a blogging round-up linking to a blogging round-up. They do it with more style in Europe, evidently. Eagles, metaphors and shit like that. Don’t av’ time.


The Omar Khadr case is on-going in a Guantanamo Bay courtroom. Videos of him being interrogated have been released by his defence team, an edited version of which I have embedded below. Khadr was arrested in Afghanistan at aged fifteen and sent to Guantanamo Bay where he has been for the last seven years. He is on trial for the murder of a US special forces soldier.

Khadr is Canadian-born – he was living in Pakistan at the time of his arrest – but the Canadian government will not seek his extradition, despite rulings by their Federal Court and Court of Appeals stating that the State must do so under law. The State is appealed to the Supreme Court which ruled that Khadr’s human rights had been breached but didn’t order the Government to demand his repatriation.

Several human rights groups have criticised both the US and Canadian governments for their attitude to the case. Khadr says he was threatened with rape and dogs during the first months of his imprisonment.

There is some evidence to show that Khadr, then aged 15, supported actions against US military operations, but none that he threw a grenade at US soldiers, the charge for which he was originally detained. In 2008 the US military accidentally released documentation detailing how there was no evidence of him having attacked US military personnel. Different charges have been dropped against him three times over his period of detention. There is also background detailing extremist Islamic beliefs but such beliefs do not in any case warrant detention. Consider the number of anarchist 15 year olds around Dublin. Spencer Ackerman is blogging from the hearings.

Conservative against Cameron. A ton of reasons why UK conservatives shouldn’t vote Tory in the forthcoming elections. Right on Right? Well I never.

Economics and climate change on the FT blogs section. The markets are watching, but not believing, seemingly. Gekko thinks the journalist has fallen for HSBC spin, he makes a good case.

Someone Once Told Me photo project.

What Gordon Brown should have said… A Fistful of Euros on bigotgate.

Fascinating post from FiveThirtyEight explaining how the model they use to forecast electoral results works.

US plans to better enforce labour laws, Chamber of Commerce outraged. Say wha’?

“‘Digital’ journalists are scabs“? Thought-through reaction by John Naughton.

Welsh economist beats Paxman on the details. Great viewing. Also, comment from John Naughton.


Interview with Spurs full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Disarmingly honest answers amounting to “it’s just a job, I’m in it for the money, a sports mercenary.”

Digest – April 25 2010

Yadda yadda yadda…


Stephen Kinsella has an open letter to all leaving cert students, he’s dead right. I got a monumental 210 points in my leaving cert, I’m one of very few journalists under the age of 25 working full-time (alebit, that may say more about journalism than the importance of the leaving cert), I’m doing alright, it wasn’t the end of the world. I love studying but I can’t learn in the way the leaving cert and academia demand. Batt, stick the Kinsella fella in charge.

Nyder O’Leary, once again proves he’s one of the best current affairs commentators in the country. Weaves a web about transparency around the Terence Wheelock case – on which we recently released some new information, which was almost completely ignored elsewhere online, strangely, unfortunately – and Fianna Fáil remaining in Government. Lovely writing, great commentary. Oi Nyder, when TheStory can afford it, you’re hired, chief editorial writer.

Gene Kerrigan on a government, led by Brian Cowen, that never takes responsibility

The folks trying to swing the vote on the “reform” cuts continued to hammer Richie and he folded. And a spokesperson for Mr Cowen promptly welcomed Richie’s surrender. And noted exultantly that it was “in response to public concern” — get this — “as was reflected by the Taoiseach earlier today”.

Tuesday, the scandal had nothing to do with Mr Cowen. Wednesday, we’re told it’s his triumphant blow that has felled the evil Baron Richie of Top-Up.

Truly, the man is an embarrassment.

Reactions to the FCO Memo story (UK minister insults Pope in internal communications); short one from Gerard Cunningham (although he wants any [freelance] journalists reading to check this one out instead) and longer from Splintered Sunrise.

Turbulence Ahead, “surf’s up”.

Will the internet save us from the next global disaster? That’s the fascinating thesis put forward by David Eagleman. He has featuredonce or twice in previous posts – he’s always guaranteed to challenge your thinking. David’s talk at the Long Now Seminar series identifies six easy steps to avert the collapse of civilisation. A noble ambition. They range from ‘trying not to cough on one another’ to ‘mitigating tyranny’. All his steps have one thing in common: the ubiquity of the internet and its capacity for distributed productivity, learning and knowledge storage…

WORLD Continue reading “Digest – April 25 2010”

Digest – March 18 2010

Yeah yeah, you know how it goes…


Human Rights in Ireland on Labour’s ‘One Ireland’ proposals.

Gerard Cunningham on the Crystal Swing thing.

Adrian Russell’s Examiner column is the only sports journalism I’m reading these days. Such a good writer, love how he meanders but always finds home. This week he talks about sports-writing itself, and its future. Chalk it down, boi.

Madam – please, I’m begging you, please give Bryan Mukandi a column. See this piece on racism and race issues in Ireland. And this other one on public apathy, from which I wish to specifically draw attention to the following…

A young man is stabbed to death in his own neighbourhood for being the wrong colour and for a short while there’s the scurry of activity; activity aimed at keeping everybody calm and assuring us all that the crime was an anomaly – one of those freak accidents that in no way reflect the state of society. Yes, the affected community should remain calm. Those affected should let the authorities deal with the matter. But what about the rest of us? Why are the unaffected so good at shrugging our shoulders and getting on with things? Why do those who are distant enough to be both angry and constructive not act, or speak, or do something other than shrug their shoulders and move on?

[…] To what end? Maybe I’m just haunted by the ghost of Zimbabwe past, but I’ve seen this same passivity before. I’ve seen what happens to a house so accepting and forgiving of rot. Eventually, it falls apart. Even if it is a house of stone.

Please, – Yours, Mark.

Ireland is quite large on the world debt map. Check it out on Alexia Golez’s blog.

The Government’s deflationary policies are devised to increase ‘competitiveness’ and ‘create’ jobs, but who is going to take up these high-skilled jobs? Sunday Tribune feature on a generation saying bye-bye.

Mark Davenport of the BBC is a great example of how political correspondents can be bloggers without sacrificing the public perception of balance. Recommended reading for all the background stuff in Northern Irish political and media life. Latest post is here. Another nice one earlier in the week too. Not to staid to have a bit of craic either.

WORLD Continue reading “Digest – March 18 2010”

Digest – March 11 2010

You know how it goes down here on days like these. It goes down, down, down… like an economic indicator of your choosing.


Karl Whelan kicks seven shades of economics from Brendan Keenan.

Aine Coffey of The Sunday Times profiles Michael Fingleton.

A modern amorality tale…’ by Sigrún Davíðsdóttir…

How can a bank break all rules to lend ISK6bn, £30m, to a shelf company without any assets – and buy back this company, debt and all, for 1 krona? This might seem to run counter to both business sense and common sense – but welcome to the Icelandic way of banking.

This tale, not a fairy tale but a bank tale, rotates around Fons, a now bankrupt company owned by Palmi Haraldsson and closely connected to Baugur, the now bankrupt company of Jon Asgeir Johannesson.

Failure is good. Damn right. Stick to The Rules.

In all of this, we are told to think of Quinn employees. I’m not thinking of Quinn’s employees, but of their management. If Quinn is a viable business proposition (and again, I’m in no position to comment on the viability of this business, and don’t want to. Go somewhere else for that), then someone will buy it, and the existing management will get the chop, thus saving the employees.

If Quinn is semi-viable, then a restructuring plan from the private market under the supervision of the regulator will see it through. If Quinn is not a viable business any more, then many of the workers will have to be let go, and bits of the business carved up and sold out. This is a consequence of not playing by the rules, and Quinn’s employees should be protesting outside their management’s offices, rather than the government. Why? Because it seems the management broke the rules.

Remember kids, the best things in life are free, just ask Peter Robinson. Via Slugger.

Continue reading “Digest – March 11 2010”

Digest – April 4 2010

Yo yo yos, you knows hows this goes etc…


P O’Neill on the RTÉ News reporting of the IMF’s reaction to the Nama announcement.

Adrian Russell has memories of a fellow sports reporter who lived an interesting life. Also, John Riordan on Roy Keane press conferencing etiquette.

Mark Tighe on the head of the ambulance service who resigned recently.

What the HSE audit in the north west is alleged to have found is that, as well as normal travel claims, McClintock used his HSE “fuel card” to claim for €10,000 worth of petrol to which he was not entitled.

The HSE have now passed on its audit of fuel costs in its north west region to gardai.

Henry McDonald of The Guardian’s Northern Ireland staff on the future of Gerry Adams’s and Peter Robinson’s leadership.

Gav on The Last Word talking political reform

Conor McCabe has an interview with Sam Nolan who led marches for taxation reform in the 70s. Interesting as we’re seemingly about to enter another period of marches and protests.

Seriously, the apparently-consensus opinion that Lenihan is The Only Hope in a Government full of gobshites must be changing now. Also, here and, with a different angle, here.

Suzy on the changes to be made to the Civil Partnership bill

Waterford councillor, Mary Roche, doesn’t understanding the Anglo situation and isn’t ashamed to say it

Unlike 99.99% of politicians that I have heard in recent days, I will ADMIT that I don’t understand this whole Anglo Irish Bank debacle. Problem here is that, while I’m admitting it, none (I’m convinced) of the other 99.99% understand anything about it either. But that doesn’t stop them spouting off as if they had done their PhD’s on the very subject.

They are merely parroting what they have been told – each given a few standard lines to throw out when they are asked about it. These include: “it would cost more to wind it down”; and “it’s the lesser of two evils” and “it was the Lehmans collapse that caused all this not government policy”.

They are the very worst of sheep, following dutifully into the Dail chamber and supporting the Government, as the voting fodder they are while ignorantly not knowing or caring about the well that they have thrown our economy down.

– WORLD Continue reading “Digest – April 4 2010”

Digest – March 28 2010

I want to draw attention to one particularly important story this week, so there’s a note before the usual home, world, other stuff.


Wikileaks is one organisation that seems to scare the CIA. The non-profit website, which is run on a shoestring, publishes confidential documents leaked anonymously to them from sources all over the world. In recent years they’ve published the manual for CIA operative in Guantanamo Bay, documents showing evidence of government-known human rights abuses in Kenya, the BNP membership list and the court-surpessed Trafigura report, amongst more than a million other documents. No source has ever been traced back to the leaking of a document through Wikileaks. Documents are verified before release and they say they’ve never released a false document.

Their documents have resulted in countless front page stories in the mainstream press.

Earlier this month they published a CIA report which details ways Wikileaks could be destroyed. Earlier this week they had another CIA document which analyses ways the French and German public could be manipulated to ensure support for the war in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday Wikileaks said it was under “aggressive surveillance” from US and Icelandic government employees. They say they were stopped and questioned by US agents and shown secretly taken photos of their own editorial meetings. They say the tailing and questioning is due to a film they have which they say contains footage of a US massacre (reportedly in Afghanistan) which they’re due to release at the US National Press Club on April 5th.

Read their editorial about what has happened to them in the last week here. Glenn Greenwald tells you why they’re so important here.

One of the tweets said “if anything happens to us, you’ll know who’s to blame”. Here’s hoping the April 5th video does get out, safely.


Bryan Mukandi of Irishtimes.com reshufflesContinue reading “Digest – March 28 2010”

Digest – March 21 2010

You know how we do it on Sunday nights…


Constantin Gurdgiev destroys myth that foreign banks entering the Irish market forced the Irish banks to go confetti with loan deals;

Business loans collapsed, personal loans (the stuff that allegedly, according to the likes of the Irish Times have fuelled our cars and clothing shopping binge during the Celtic Tiger years) actually declined in importance as well. Financial intermediation – the higher margin, higher risk thingy that so severely impacted the US banks – was down as well. No, competition was not driving Irish banks into the hands of higher margin lending. It was driving them into the hands of our property developers. We didn’t have a derivatives and speculative financial investment crisis here – the one that was allegedly caused by the foreign banks coming in and forcing our good boys to cut margins on run-of-the-mill ordinary lending. No, we had an old fashioned disaster of construction and property lending.

Splintered Sunrise has the best piece on Joe Ratzinger’s letter.

I didn’t think I’d live to see the day when Tipperary would be reunified.

Ronan Lyons does what he does best. In-depth analysis figuring out where the housing market is at, and whether now is a time to buy or rent.

Good post by Harry McGee on the reporting of the forthcoming (is that fact or consensus opinion?) reshuffle.

This big news in the science world, I think. Hard to fathom it, but fun to try.


British military ‘intelligence’ ran a torture unit in Iraq under direct control of London, The Independent reports.

[Click link for context] “They were an independent unit and reported directly to their chain of command in London”. Hooding was “accepted practice” and would continue, he was told. “They reiterated the point they were an independent unit and did not come under the command of the GOC1 (UK) Armed Div (the Iraq command),” he said. Asked by the inquiry last week whether there was “some sort of feeling generally in the Army the intelligence people were slightly on their own and running their own show”, Col Vernon replied: “I think you could say that.”

MPs for hire. Comment piece here.

What happens when people stop working 9-5? Good stuff, it seems.

“The ties that bind America and Israel are beginning to fray and break”, by Chris McGreal at the Guardian’s Comment is Free. That has been happening for the last number of years, it has come to a head recently when it became clear US was going to allow Iran to go nuclear, which put the Israelis on edge.

The US is now developing a defensive ring of missile bases in the area on the assumption that Iran will only be able to construct a small number of nuclear weapons. It appears the US thinking on the matter is “Iran shoots, we shoot it down before it reaches us”. But if Israel, not the US, is the first target, then… hence Israel’s recent bull-headedness with the US and the settlements announcement while Biden was in the country. Israel isn’t happy and Nethanyahu is showing it, in a rather ham-fisted and foolish manner. It’s all chess. That McGreal piece is a good snapshot of the current board.

Flowing Data has cool statistical analysis of the 1870 US census.

Yglesias on the case for health care reform, and why Newt Gingrich is wrong (again).

Marc Lynch of Foreign Policy writes about what he read in what was supposedly a copy of Al-Qaeda’s Iraq counter-insurgency manual.

The Interpreter on Burma’s disgraceful new election laws.

Here’s hoping this report about the White House reaching a deal with Stupak is correct. We’ll know by the time most of you have read this post. In other news, Tebaggers are completely and utterly insane. See video below.


Hah. I’ve lots of stacks around the gaff. See below.

Looking for a good documentary film to watch? Watch the one below, it’s brilliant.

Digest – March 14 2010

These be the links ‘ere, brah…


This says a lot. Sigrún Davíðsdóttir, London Corr with the Icelandic state broadcaster, on corporate governance in banking…

Why is Lehman being scrutinised so thoroughly and not banks that governments in various countries have recapitalised? The UK Treasury had to intervene with Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, banks that would have followed Lehman into bankruptcy if the Treasury hadn’t saved them. But as far as is known, the accounts of these banks haven’t been picked over like Lehman’s.

Recently, there were fleeting news that the Treasury had contemplated the idea in connection with Lloyds but then given up on it. It was thought, at the time, that there was no time to do it – but as a major shareholder the Treasury has all the time in the world to go into the banks’ universe and start reading. The same goes for Ireland: AIB, Bank of Ireland and Anglo have been recapitalised, they are still reporting huge losses – and their management in the months up to autumn 2008 hasn’t been scrutinised.

P O’Neill, ‘that kid needs help’. The HSE angle on the Jihad Jane arrest.

Cian Murphy warns of the dangers of piecemeal constitutional reform.

IrelandAfterNama; are there any reasons we shouldn’t be cynical?

John McHale on IrishEconomy writes about the Innovation document thingy. Innovation Baybay! Woot! Here comes the recovery! …Wait, wait, wait, haven’t the powers-that-be been closing universities’ access to journal libraries, been generally anti-intellectual and, in broad terms, remained in position despite their monumental fuck-ups of late? Oh yeah. Anyway, this latest document undoubtedly changes all that. Or something. Definitely. Yeah.

Election observers, wanted up durr.


The Blogger’s fallacy

Charlie Beckett of journalism think-tank POLIS on networked journalism

So what then happens when that editorial production process is disrupted, in Schumpeter’s phrase, by the destructively creative forces of new technologies?

If you accept the case I make in SuperMedia, that journalism is moving towards new forms of production then this begs the question of what we mean by ‘quality’ in that reconstructed media environment. I raise the issue in the book, but now that networked journalism is becoming the norm rather than the exception, I think it’s a good moment to attempt a further exploration of the implications for the idea of quality.

Matt Yglesias drew attention to this great graph earlier in the week.

Left Foot Forward argues the UK needs a compulsory register for lobbyists. Too right.

James Fallows; good news about flying, in four parts. Check out the personal jet pack.


Take some time to view this lovely short film-reel about Dublin broadcast in the ’60s in cinemas; ‘See you at the pillar‘. Won’t embed for me but worth clicking through to watch.

Lastly, below Jimmy Bullard celebrates Wash & Go’s 21st birthday. Craic. Gotta love that man. Nice marketing move from the Wash & Go peeps as well.