Tag Archives: Poll

Christian Politicians on the Wrong Side of History

20 Apr

 

Church State

Some politicians in Ireland want Church and State to intersect

Why should the Irish people care that some Kerry councillors want to erect a crucifix on the wall of their chambers? Who does it really affect? After all, most other people in Ireland are Christian like them, although I assume that the Kerry councillors aren’t just Christian in the nominative sense and, unlike most other people in Ireland, actually make more than a few cursory visits to the pew every year.

But Irish people shouldn’t just care about what’s happening in Kerry, they should be angry about it too. For one reason it shows that ‘liberal’ Ireland still has to dust off some of the residue of its past. But for another and more important reason it shows that some Kerry councillors, whether aware of it or not, want to contravene the liberal democratic values of not just Ireland, but of all Western democracies that value religious freedom and equality, and that should make Irish people very angry indeed.

The church has no place in the state and it’s for its own benefit that it doesn’t. The fundamental truth, unknown by the councillors, is that a religiously neutral state is the chief guarantee of religious freedom and religious pluralism. The United States has one of the most religious societies in the Western world but its strict separation of church and state means that it’s also its most secular state. Thomas Jefferson said that “erecting a wall between church and state is essential in a free society”, and no state guarantees religious freedom and equality as much as The United States.

I assume that such an archaic action is a reaction to the weakening of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Indeed, it was reported that at least one councillor said that they were tired of apologising for their religion. Although I believe that in the near future, the Church will further apologise for its position on HIV/AIDs and its treatment of homosexuals (just as it has for mass rape, torture, murder, slavery and the persecution of other religions) such is its need to stay somewhat current with the rest of civilisation. The councillors may be tired still.

But I digress, regardless of how moral or immoral the Roman Catholic Church may be is not what’s most important. What is most important is that neither the Roman Catholic Church nor any other faith has a place in the state. And there should be no exception, not even if, as one of the Kerry councillors said to justify, “the vast majority are of Christian faith.” The appeal to majority is not just a fatuous one it is fascistic too. It is an appeal that theocrats in Islamic states make at the expense of Christians, Jews and other religious minorities who are pushed to the margins of society because they are not the majority.It is an appeal that betrays incredible ignorance.

At the end of the cold war the academic Francis Fukuyama declared the ‘End of History.’ What Fukuyama meant was the debate between liberal democracy and communism was over-liberal democracy won. The same is true of the debate on secular democracy and theocracy-secular democracy won. The Kerry councillors should be mindful that they, like the communists, are on the wrong side of history.

 

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World News Today

14 Apr

Here are the biggest stories in the world today, 14th April 2014.

Deadline passes as separatists ready for Ukrainian forces

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are bracing themselves for a conflict with Ukrainian security forces after they refused to meet Monday’s deadline to disarm and end their occupation of state buildings. Ukraine’s acting president Oleksander Turchinov warned separatists on Sunday that they would face a full-scale security operation if they refused to meet the deadline. Turchinov has taken a more aggressive approach after a state security officer was killed in the city of Slaviansk. A crackdown on separatists could further escalate tensions with Russia who Ukraine and the US have accused of aiding the separatists in attempts to further annex Ukrainian territory and gain greater influence in the region. For more go to Reuters.

Dozens killed in Nigeria bus blasts

More than 70 people have been reported killed in two blasts at a crowded bus station just outside Nigeria’s capital Abuja. The blasts happened this morning as commuters boarded the buses to take them to the capital. Nigerian officials have said that the death toll stands at 71 with more than 120 injured. Experts have speculated that the blasts may have been carried out by Boko Harem, an Islamic militant group. This year alone, Boko Harem have killed more than 1,500 civilians in north-east Nigeria, according to experts. For more go to BBC.

Abdullah leads the way in Afghan election

Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah has emerged as the early leader in the first partial results from Afghanistan’s presidential elections. An estimated 7 million Afghans took to the polls eight days ago in the first democratic transition of presidential power in Afghanistan’s history. The first results, though far from definitive, give Abdullah a four point lead over former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. Abdullah has received 41.9 percent of the votes counted so far, although he will need more than 50 percent to be declared the outright winner and avoid a likely runoff with Ghani. For more go to The Washington Post.

Also in the news today.

Search for MH370 goes underwater

China refuses to talk human rights with UK

White supremacist kills three in Kansas

 

World News Today

8 Apr

Here are the biggest stories in the world today;

Russia plans to break up Ukraine says Minister

Ukrainian authorities yesterday cleared dozens of pro-Russian protesters from a public building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv as tensions mount between Ukraine and Russia . Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of backing the protesters who also seized, and still occupy, public buildings in Donestsk and Luhansk. Both cities, like Donestk, have large ethnic Russian populations. US Secretary of State John Kerry said there would be costs if Russia sought to further destabilise Ukraine following its annexation of Crimea last month. For more go to Reuters.

Irish President meets Queen in historic visit

Irish President Michael D Higgins began an historic state visit to Britain today, the first ever made by an Irish head of state. The President met with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Windsor Castle this morning and is due to later address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster.  It is three years since Queen Elizabeth visited the Republic of Ireland, in what was the first visit made by a British Monarch since Irish independence in 1921. For more go to BBC.

Pistorius recounts Steenkamp’s last moments

South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius described to a Pretoria court today the night that he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius is accused of murdering Steenkamp at their Pretoria home in February 2013.  He has pleaded that he shot her by accident, mistaking her for an intruder. For more go to The New York Times.

Also in the news today

Voting underway in India

Afghan poll to go to second round

Teams scour sea floor for MH370

World News Today

5 Apr

Here are the biggest stories in the world today, 5th April 2014

Afghans vote despite threats

Millions of Afghans have turned out today to vote for the next President of Afghanistan, despite threats from the Taliban. There have been sporadic attacks made and two policeman were killed in the southern city of Qalat although Taliban threats, made prior to the poll, have not been met in what is the first democratic transition of presidential power in the country’s history. For more go to Reuters.

Chinese ship detects ping in MH370 search

A Chinese ship searching for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean has detected a pulse signal. The signal has the same frequency as those emitted by flight recorders, although they have yet to establish whether it is that of MH370. It is now four weeks since MH370 and the 239 people on board went missing with still no trace of the flight to be found despite a concerted international search effort. For more go to BBC.

India to execute rapists

A Mumbai court has today ordered the deaths of three men convicted of two gang-rapes. The sentences are the first of their kind after a decision by Indian legislators last year to strengthen the law following mass public protests at gang-rapes and violence against women in India. For more go The Guardian.

Also in the news today

Britain urges European wariness over Russia

Ecuador volcano erupts

Pakistani Christians sentenced to death for blasphemy

 

World News Today

3 Apr

Here are the biggest stories in the world today, 3rd April 2014.

Shooting at Fort Hood

A gunman and at least three other people were killed yesterday at Fort Hood in Texas. It has been reported that the gunman shot the three before turning the gun on himself. The gunman, an Iraq war veteran, was being evaluated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) according to Fort Hood’s commander general.

Lt.Gen. Mark Milley said in a news conference last night that the man was being treated for depression and anxiety and was receiving unspecified medication. Officials have identified the man as 34-year-old Specialist. Ivan Lopez, who served four months in Iraq in 2011. This is the second such incident to occur at Fort Hood. In 2009 Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 and injured 30 more in the worst shooting ever to take place on a US military base. For more go to The Washington Post.

Chile counts cost of massive quake 

Chilean authorities are counting the cost of the massive 8.2 earthquake that struck off the north coast of Chile Tuesday. Six people were killed and a small tsunami was triggered with waves up to two metres crashing into the coast. Over 900,000 people were temporarily evacuated from low-lying coastal areas before returning to their homes to find  severe damage suffered to boats, buildings and other infrastructure. It is estimated that up to 2,600 houses suffered damage. Chile is one of the most earthquake-prone areas of the world and in 1960 suffered a 9.5 earthquake, the largest recorded in modern history. For more go to Reuters.

Clegg and Farage pull no punches

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg accused UKIP leader Nigel Farage of having “dangerous fantasies”, while Farage accused Clegg of “wilfully lying” to the British public about the EU’s control on British law. The two leaders debated one another yesterday for the second time in a week in a televised BBC debate on Britain’s future in Europe. Public reaction from the debate favoured Farage, as it did in the previous debate. A YouGov snap poll gave the debate to Farage by 68% to 27%. For more go to BBC.

Also in the news today;

One Million Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Feds to investigate Citi Group

NATO prepares options

 

Half of Americans See New Cold War

29 Mar

Fifty percent of Americans think that the US and Russia are headed towards a new cold war, according to a Gallup poll taken last week. Gallup’s findings come just days after President Barack Obama said he had no interest in entering a new cold war with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The relationship between the two countries has deteriorated after the US imposed sanctions on Russian citizens following its military occupation and subsequent annexation of Crimea.

The situation in Eastern Europe remains tense with Russian forces massed near the border with Ukraine in a move that many view as an attempt by Putin to reassert Russian influence in a region which has in recent years  come under increasing influence by the US and the West.

The US and Russia have also opposed one another on other important international issues, such as the Syrian Civil War and Iran’s nuclear programme.

It has also been suggested that Putin was aggrieved at the absence of Obama and other Western leaders at last month’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Obama’s absence has been suggested as a protest against Russia’s recent anti-gay propaganda law.

Putin’s move against the rights of Russia’s gay community contrasts with Obama, who has been a strong supporter of gay rights, and gay marriage in particular.

The deterioration of  the relationship  between the US and Russia on important political and social issues has been viewed as a reversion to the pre-1991 relationship, when the US and the then USSR were ideologically opposed to one another.

Those most concerned with such a possible reversion in US and Russian relations are those who lived through the Cold War. More than two-thirds of Americans aged 65 and above believe that the two countries are headed toward a new Cold War.

The Irish: More Emotional Than Most

5 Jan
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The Irish: Experience stronger emotions than most other’s.

The Irish are, according to a Gallup poll, the fifth most emotional people in Europe. In 2011, 51% of Irish people reported feeling strong emotions on a daily basis.

Over a two-year period (2009-2011) Gallup measured daily emotions in more than 150 countries. Respondents were asked whether they experienced five negative and five positive emotions in the previous day. Negative emotions included feeling anger, stress, and sadness. Positive emotions included feeling respected, smiling and laughing, and being well-rested.

The most emotional people in the world are the Filipinos, where the figure is 60%. The least emotional are the Singaporeans. Despite living in a state where unemployment is low and GDP-per-capita is high, only 36% reported feeling strong emotions on a daily basis.

The famous Latin temperament seems to have born out in the poll, with many of the most emotional people in the world in Latin America. El Salvador, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Bolivia are all in the top ten.

Furthermore, the opinion that those from Eastern Europe appear less emotional would not seem to be without basis either. Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine are amongst the least emotional people in the world.

One of the primary conclusions that experts have drawn from these results is that many other factors beside income account for a society’s wellbeing. Much of which supports the idea put forth by Nobel-Prize winning economist Daniel Kahneman and Princeton economist Angus Deaton that after individuals make £75,000 (€56,900) annually, additional income will have little impact on how they experience their lives.