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Latest from Davos,bringing the Rugby World Cup to Ireland, and all the day's news with Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak Wed, Jan 22
 
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  • 08:31

    Good morning. It's a bit nippy out there today but nothing compared to the US. About 40cm of snow has fallen in New Jersey as cold weather hits right across the east coast US closing government offices and grounding flights. Reports aren't yet using the word "arctic vortex" as used in the last cold snap, a term that really is the stuff of an end of days blockbuster.  


    It's Genevieve Carbery on the Daily Wire.


     

  • 08:42

    So it seems getting people to pay money for a piece of cardboard off of which they scratch some latex to reveal numbers showing that (mostly) they didn't win anything isn't a money-maker? (I know what you're thinking, is that what the scratchie stuff on a lottery ticket is? - well yes according to wikipedia!).


    For every €4 in scratchcard sales, 1c of profit was returned in the Rehab Lottery scheme, according to figures revealed by Alan Shatter last night after a Department of Justice audit.  

    This is the same organisation whose chief executive Angela Kerins refused to reveal her salary in a radio interview. In 2011, Rehab Group said Ms Kerins received an annual salary of €234,000 from the company.  


    Read all about it here.  

  • 08:55

    We can all breathe a sigh of relief –Sharon Ni Bheolain has said she is not leaving RTE for UTV. The Daily Mail reports the story on its front page and says that this would have been a “daring raid” by the rival broadcaster. You were worried there for a minute.

    But really this is just an excuse for me to link to this blooper clip from last night’s Six One. I’m not sure if Sharon is a big fan of modern dance. Watch here.  

  • 08:56
  • 09:20

    I’m always astounded on recalling that beautiful Buraras was once honoured with an architectural prize (in 1955, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland). Well a flat complex designed by award-winning Busaras architect Michael Scott (no not the character from the US office) is being demolished this morning.


    Regeneration plans have not been finalised despite today’s knocking of 1944 building Ffrench Mullen House (one of the few places named after a woman in this city – Madeline Ffrench Mullen who developed a nearby hospital for women) . Olivia Kelly reports more here..

  • 09:36

    So Ireland will be competing in skeleton in the Olympics at Sochi. I’ve just watched a clip of it for the first time this morning – and it’s rapid - literally and in the meaning rapid would have if you were a character in Love /Hate (raapih).


    The sliding winter sport sees a person ride a small sled down a frozen track while lying face down, during which athletes experience forces up to 5g (thanks Wikipedia).


    Since we get very little snow all of the five-person Irish team for the winter olympics are members of the diaspora.  (I searched unsuccessfully  to find some Cool Runnings parallel.)   The skeleton competitor Sean Greenwood is the son of a Galway mother and Canadian father.  

    You can watch the him in action here.  Read all about it here

  • 09:37
  • 09:54

    So normally when you see a headline like this “Sheryl Sandberg becomes a billionaire as Facebook shares hit new high”....do you feel a little bit jealous but mainly extremely inadequate (she's one of the world's youngest billionaires)?  Me too. But in this case I’m quite delighted for Facebook’s 44-year-old COO.


    If you haven’t read her Lean In book, please do. In between some of the cheesy Americanisms there is a lot young women (and men)  can learn about changing women’s place in the world of work.  (..steps off the soap box...). That is all.  

  • 10:06

    So to counteract my Sheryl Sandberg love-in , it’s not all easy for Irish men – not those in the workplace but those unfortunately not in the workplace.  


    The State had the highest rate of long-term unemployment among men in Europe in 2012 despite emigration, CSO figures show . Long-term unemployment among men was 12.3% an among women was 5.5%.  Stark findings. Joe Humphreys has more.  

  • 10:23

    So a complaint about an article which described Roma as “a parasitic, ethnic underclass who look on this country as a giant stupid cow to be milked whenever they see fit,” has been upheld by the Press Ombudsman.


    The complaint about Ian O’Doherty’s piece in the Irish Independent  was made by the European Network Against Racism.


    Its director Shane O’Curry writes in the opinion pages of The Irish Times today that “The use of dehumanising language against Roma and the associated appeals for racial profiling by opinion-formers is sadly all too common across Europe, with grave consequences”. Read more here.    

  • 10:32

    The death toll in Ukrain's pro-European protests has increased to three this morning. The EU has condemned the deaths.

     "I strongly condemn the violent escalation of events in Kiev overnight leading to casualties. The reported deaths of several protesters is a source of extreme worry," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.  


    There are some very dramatic photos coming from the scene of protests in Kiev.

  • 10:39
    You can watch a live stream of events as they unfold in Kiev and read the latest from Irish Times reporter Daniel McLaughlin in Kiev here:  
  • 10:39
    Protesters clash with riot police during an anti-government protest in downtown Kiev, Ukraine. Photo: EPA
    Protesters clash with riot police during an anti-government protest in downtown Kiev, Ukraine. Photo: EPA
  • 10:51
    Children aged two to 10 years should get to “feel the texture of a book” and the printed word, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has said. Well that’s his excuse for not including iPads and ereaders in the new book rental scheme. Seriously?  That’s the reason? Not recession, bailout blah de blah? That’s a dog ate my homework excuse if I ever heard one.  
  • 11:03
    Since sugar is the new satan what'll we do with it all? A team in the US has come up with a solution and has developed a battery which could be used in mobile phones and ipads as it uses a chemical reaction to generate energy from molecules found in sugar. If you missed the whole `sugar is bad' shocker read more here.    For more on that sweet piece of research from the US click here.  
  • 12:13
    Having a little technical issue here with the live blog ***whistles***
  • 12:14

    Did you enjoy the skeleton earlier? Well Ireland came painfully close to winning its first winter Olympic medal for this event back in 2002 with a very unlikely Irish hero.


    Clifton Wrottesley referenced in today’s front page piece on our winter Olympians (here) is in fact an Irish-born lord, the 6th Baron Wrottesley, Sir Clifton Hugh Lancelot de Verdon Wrottesley.
    He came within a fraction of a second (0.32) of giving Ireland its first-ever Winter Olympic medal after coming fourth in the men's skeleton race at Utah Olympic Park in 2002.


    A nation did indeed hold its breath. Reminds me of our new-found love of sailing in the last Olympics when Annalise Murphy just lost out on a bronze.

  • 12:16
    Ok we're back! And just in time for me to hand over to Sorcha Pollak who will be with you for the rest of the day. Be nice now.  
  • 12:34

    Hello all, Sorcha here keeping you up-to-date on all of today’s breaking stories.


    First off this afternoon, the prominent Chinese rights advocate Xu Zhiyong has gone on trial in the country’s most high-profile dissident case in years. Mr Xu runs the New Citizens’ Movement which has urged Chinese officials to disclose their assets.


    Mr Xu has been charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order,” punishable by up to five years in prison. For more on Mr Xu’s ongoing trial click here.

  • 12:36
    News just in - Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has confirmed that local and European elections will take place on May 23rd this year.
  • 12:48
    While Americans living on the east coast shovel snow from their driveways after last night’s storm, let’s take a minute to reflect on those poor souls who have to deal with arctic conditions on a daily basis. The city of Yakutsk is located on Russia’s frozen tundra in the far east of the country and is considered the coldest city in the world. These pics from The Guardian show just another -45C day in this snow and ice-covered northern territory.
    My personal favourite is the dog - he is definitely not enjoying that frozen moustache.

  • 13:03
    It seems Amazon employees are now psychic. The next big step for the online retail giant is a plan to pre-emptively deliver goods to customers based on previous purchases. I fear this means there is a box of Peruvian cooking books waiting for me in some storage unit. If they send me the food prepared and ready to eat then Amazon really can read minds.    
  • 13:38

    The Davos World Economic Forum brings more than 2,500 political and business leaders together in an idyllic snow-covered Swiss city to discuss world issues like the economy, climate change, and gender issues over a chilled local beer. You can read about what they’ve got planned at this year's 44th Forum here.



    The chilly mountain air also attracts celebrities to the region, with this year boasting a line up including Bono, Margaret Atwood and Michael Douglas. Matt Damon is attending to promote Water.org, the organisation he co-founded in 2009 which highlights the worldwide water crisis. Let’s not forget, Matt Damon spends a lot of time these days talking about the importance of improving drinking water supplies while also recognising the essential role of the toilet. In fact, Damon made the decision last year to go on strike completely and stop using toilets.


    You can watch him make his announcement to strike here.

  • 13:38
  • 14:07
    Ministers from Dublin and Belfast have met in Armagh to discuss the possibility of bringing the 2023 Rugby World Cup to the island of Ireland. South Africa, who already hosted the event in 1995, is expected to be the main competition, but Ministers from the North and South are confident Ireland can put a strong bid together.
  • 14:28

    It’s the next stage in the Poolbeg incinerator saga as Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan appears before the Oireachtas environment committee this afternoon.  The council has already spent more than €95m over ten years on the as yet unbuilt incinerator.

    Almost a third of these costs were paid to consultants RPS, which also provided consultancy services to Irish Water.
  • 15:03

    Note to self, when I finally make that long awaited trip to Rio de Janeiro, I need to somehow climb on top of the Christ the Redeemer statue. This Irish Times video gives a magnificent view of Rio from the top of Christ’s head, as construction workers begin repairs on the iconic statue. It was damaged last week when lightning struck the head, right finger and thumb.

    Officials say they will install more lightning rods on the statue in a bid to prevent further damage from electrical storms. The monument often gets hit by lightening due to its high position above the city.

  • 15:35
    It looks like Finland’s Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade, Alexander Stubb, is having a great time at Davos. I hope his colleagues at the forum appreciate those orange shoes as much as I do!  
  • 16:06

    A quick update on how things are going elsewhere in Switzerland at the Geneva II peace conference where the Syrian government and opposition are in talks. Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor with Channel 4 news, told RTE's News at One earlier today that “if these are peace talks, it’s hard to know what war talks would sound like.”



    Opposition leader Ahmed Jarba has accused president Bashar al-Assad of Nazi-style war crimes, saying he has no legitimacy and must step down from power. Meanwhile, the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem insisted the president would not bow to outside demands.



    Over 100,000 people have been killed and millions left homeless since the Syrian conflict broke out in early 2011. Click here for a two minute guide from the BBC to the conflict in Syria.

  • 16:31

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I am very, very excited about this year’s Temple Bar TradFest. From Carlos Núñez’s haunting Galician music-making, to the wonderful traditional fusion of the Gloaming, Dublin will be coming down with top-class gigs over the coming days. You can read all about what’s coming up in Siobhan Long’s latest culture article (here) and hear Núñez talk about the exploration of Celtic music.

  • 16:51

    I will admit, I may just be posting this article because of its cat photo (cat dressed in ninja outfit, too much) but a recent study has also found that humans and cats have been hanging out for around 5,300 years. Meanwhile, scientists at the University of California in Berkeley have created the first electronic whiskers.   I’m not quite sure what the problem is with normal whiskers, maybe the electronic ones can have Google glass installed?

  • 17:03
    Coronation Street actor William Roache has told detectives that it was “against my nature” to commit rape, following accusations of raping a 15-year-old girl at his former home in 1967. Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, has said he is a “peaceful person” who does not like “aggravation of any sort.” Click here to read more about Roache’s trial at Preston Crown Court.
  • 17:18

    Back to the Syrian peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland – Reuters reports that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the rival delegations have agreed to sit down for direct talks on Friday. Mr Lavrov has urged the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem and Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba not focus exclusively on leadership changes in Damascus.

    "The relatively less difficult issues are confidence-building measures, humanitarian aid, prisoner swaps and, through this, some sort of relations between the two delegations should be created," said Mr. Lavrov.

  • 17:33
    US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend the opening speech of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the Geneva-2 peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters  
    US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend the opening speech of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the Geneva-2 peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters  
  • 17:47

    Before I finish up this evening, let’s take a look at this morning’s launch at Trinity College of a year-long celebration of the life and death of High King Brian Boru. School children from St. Anne’s Community College in Killaloe delivered a haka-like “call to arms” in the Trinity College Library Long Room, while The Irish Times’ Conor Pope spoke to Conor O’Brien, a direct descendent of Boru, separated by 32 generations.

    Click here to watch the video of the St Anne’s children performing their call to arms.

  • 17:58
    That's all from the Daily Wire for today. We'll be back at 9am tomorrow with all the latest news and events.