Euro crisis: “decision to create a single currency in Europe was an eminently political decision.”

At the Cedar Lounge, WorldbyStorm has a lengthy post detailing his increasing scepticism as a pro-EU[ropean] over the EU Commission’s proposals to “co-ordinate fiscal policy in advance”. But more importantly to me, however pro-EU I am, as noted above I have to admit that I am becoming more and more dubious about the very notion of an EU polity that transcends national divisions. It seems to me that the distinctions between nations within the EU is so great as to … Read more

Last Flight of Atlantis

After almost 25 years in service, at 7.20pm [BST] tonight Nasa’s Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift-off from Kennedy Space Center on its last ever flight – Mission STS-132.  There’s Nasa’s launch blog and the usual online NasaTV coverage. Only two more missions remain in the Space Shuttle programme. Meanwhile Congress continues to hear from opponents of US President Obama’s new policy for Nasa, including, in a rare public appearance, moonwalker Neil Armstrong. Adds Via NASAtelevision And perhaps I should have said First Last Flight…  … Read more

World Twenty20: “Just play on. Jesus, it’s only rain.”

At the Guardian’s sports blog Dara O’Briain reflects on the outcome of the most important sporting event of the week – the rain-affected World Twenty20 clash between Ireland and England. From the Guardian blog Well, where do we begin? Generations of division; the Dark Burden of History; all this to be finally addressed with the use of willow and ball. Or it would have been, but there was some rain and according to the rules, that meant England went through. Now, … Read more

Herschel’s anniversary and Dawn’s destinations

As I mentioned when noting a previous wondrous image, ESA’s cool infrared Herschel observatory sent its first images back in October last year, just after its launch companion, the even cooler Planck observatory achieved first light. Both are twittering away – Planck and Herschel. And ESA have released another stunning image as Herschel nears its first anniversary in orbit. There’s also an ESA video to mark the anniversary The BBC’s Spaceman, Jonathan Amos, has been contemplating Herschel’s images.  He recommends the … Read more

World Twenty20: Ireland v England

As I mentioned last night, the West Indies rain-assisted win over England provides the slightest glimmer of hope for Ireland to progress to the next stage of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup.  If they can beat England… If the match actually takes place… The rain at Providence, Guyana, has already intervened in the first match of the day.  Which side Duckworth/Lewis will benefit as Ireland take on England is anybody’s guess. Match due to start at 6.30pm.  Ireland win the toss … Read more

World Twenty20: Ireland Life-line From Rain Delayed Windies Win

In the second match in Ireland’s group in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup England posted an impressive first innings total of 191 from 20 overs – including a fine 55 from 35 balls by former Ireland batsman Eoin Morgan [*ahem* – Ed].  The Windies openers started strongly, making 30 from 2.2 overs, before rain stopped play. When they resumed, the Duckworth/Lewis calculation deemed that a less-than-challenging target of 60 from 6 overs would be sufficient for victory. Still, it wasn’t until … Read more

‘No fly zone’ over Ireland tomorrow

RTÉ reports that the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has warned Irish-based airlines that a ‘no fly zone’ may have to be imposed over Ireland tomorrow because of an ash cloud drifting down from Iceland.  From the IAA statement The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has informed Irish-based airlines that it is concerned that Irish Airports may be impacted by the drift south of the volcanic ash cloud caused by the north easterly winds. Current information from the Volcanic Ash Advice Centre … Read more

ICC World Twenty20 2010

Ireland’s honourable performance in last year’s tournament may be a dim, and happy, memory but tonight they face this year’s Twenty20 Cricket World Cup host’s, the West Indies, under floodlights at Providence, Guyana – start time 1700 local (2100 GMT/2200 BST). As the BBC preview notes, the opening game will see New Zealand take on Sri Lanka (1800 BST). It’s a return to the scene of Ireland’s breakthrough in world cricket, the 2007 World Cup, and the Guardian has a good article on Ireland’s ambition and the investment … Read more

US economy grows, Greek Government agrees to deeper austerity, citizens riot

Bloomberg report that – The U.S. economy expanded at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter as households spent more freely, setting the stage for gains in employment that may help the recovery broaden and accelerate. and the Wall Street Journal note that Greece has agreed with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union to take additional austerity measures expected to yield “around €23 billion” ($30 billion) as a precondition for financial assistance, a Greek official familiar … Read more

Gordon Brown: “You can see the moment his political career leaves his body”

Jon Stewart on why the UK debates don’t matter after the first one… He absolutely hammers UK politics for its triviality… It’s over five minutes, but the end is worth waiting for… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

SDO Observes Massive Eruption, Scorching Rain

Nasa have followed up the stunning first light images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory [SDO] with equally impressive footage of a magnetic filament erupting on April 19th. Here the Solar Dynamics Observatory zoomed in on a magnetic filament erupting on April 19th. The black “hair-like object” is a speck of dust on the CCD camera. Credit: SDO/AIA. From the Nasa podcast “SDO has just observed a massive eruption on the sun—one of the biggest in years,” says Lika Guhathakurta of NASA headquarters in Washington … Read more

Roubini: “In A Few Days Time, There Might Not Be A Eurozone For Us To Discuss”

Via Business Insider – Reuters blogger – Felix Salmon writes up a Nouriel Roubini panel on “The Eurozone: Still One for All and All for One?” Nouriel, of course, takes that kind of thinking to its logical conclusion, and kicked off the panel by announcing that it was just in time: “in a few days,” he said, “there might not be a eurozone for us to discuss.” There’s no way that Greece can implement the 10% spending cut it needs … Read more

Galbraith and Schiff go head to head

Interesting head-to-head, reprising John Maynard Keynes and Fredrick Hayek, between James Galbraith and Peter Schiff on CNBC – Galbraith and Schiff seem to regard the straight-jack of the Euro as equivalent to the old gold standard, typically Galbraith views this as something akin to Keynes’ barbourous relic. Greece’s inability to print money is a problem, while Schiff sees this as essentially a good thing that forces countries and citizens to live within their means. What’s most interesting however, is that … Read more

Then and now – Ireland & The Argentine Economic Crisis

Argentina entered recession in 1999 and defaulted on it’s public debt in 2001. According to Wikipedia In the meantime, government spending continued to be high and corruption was rampant. Argentina’s public debt grew enormously during the 1990s, and the country showed no true signs of being able to pay it . Enormously eh? It hit the heady heights of.. Ratio of debt to GDP grows to 41% in 1998, then 47% in 1999. Ratio of debt to GDP grows to … Read more

“Art and science both lost blood when monsters vanished from the maps”

The Guardian has a fascinating essay by Jonathan Jones on the golden age of map-making, 1500 to 1700, to tie-in with a forthcoming exhibition at the British Library – Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art.  There’s also an equally fascinating BBC 4 series covering the same ground – The Beauty of Maps.  From Jonathan Jones’ Guardian article Magnificent Maps leads us deep into the mentality of awe and wonder his pictures of maps communicate. It tells the story of mural … Read more

Raise a glass to Hubble!

On the 24th April 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched from the Kennedy Space Center and to mark the orbiting observatory’s 20th anniversary they’ve released this suitably stunning image – there’s a Hubblecast video outlining the telescope’s history here. And the BBC have put together a wondrous Hubble 20th anniversary audio-slideshow with Professor Alec Boksenberg. Hubblecast gets in on the act with a tribute to the telescope’s discoveries in those 20 years. And here’s an approximated 3-D view into a giant … Read more

Solar Dynamics Observatory First Light

STEREO isn’t the only spacecraft staring at the sun right now. Nasa’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory has successfully achieved first light and they’ve released some stunning videos of recent solar activity as a result. Including this one of an erupting solar prominence on March 30. BBC report here. Also from the SDO YouTube Channel This movie starts with a magnetogram from HMI (Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager) and moves on to 7 different wavebands observed by AIA’s (Atmospheric Imaging Assembly) telescopes. … Read more

Recessions – good for your health?

A couple of weeks back, writing in the Sindo, Gene Kerrigan made the not unreasonable assertion that severe recessions cause unnecessary deaths. We saw all this before. During the Eighties, savage cuts inflicted lasting pain and cost lives — someone had to pay for the crisis. Meanwhile, known to the establishment — who were up to their necks in it — the fortunes of the elite were safeguarded using massive tax frauds. An article in yesterdays Guardian refutes this – … Read more

IMF propose new bankers tax

In a new report to the G20, the IMF recommend that two new special taxes should be levied on banks and bankers to meet the cost of any future financial crises. The two taxes target bankers pay and bank profits. Per the Times report The first tax, a Financial Stability Contribution, would be a levy to fund any future government support. The second would be a Financial Activities Tax on the sum of the profits and remuneration of financial institutions. … Read more

Queries in Catalunya

Today’s the day. 700,000 Catalans are eligible to vote in referenda organised by local municipalities on independence. The Scotsman reports that 161 villages and towns are to follow the lead of Arenys De Munt in September where 96% of the 40% turnout voted for independence. Girona voting today – Barcelona in the New Year. Syniadau has been following closely. He’s running a live results blog tonight. To the sentimental amongst you he referred to the story of an Englishman in … Read more