Ireland

The Year The World Didn’t End

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It’s that time, when one sits back and reflects and comprehends what we saw in a year that went too fast for some and not enough for many more. A year that exploded with talks and murmurs of the Euro Crises and Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Yemen led to the western world holding its break as North Korea launched and defied sanctions with a rocket that came down faster than it rose.

The Summer months saw a build up of election madness in the US that carried controversy after controversy before London 2012 temporarily reduced unemployment in Great Britain and produced stars and inspired a generation. Mr Munch’s Scream, moved on for just shy of the cost of Christiano Ronaldo as CERN and The Mars Rover push the boundaries of science and exploration.

The first Bionic Eye opens a window to a new world as Islamic blinkers are tightened with the Innocence of Muslims while Felix Baumgartner shows the potential of the human mind and body with Hurricane Sandy reminds us Mother Nature can take lives in the blink of an eye.

The Gaza crisis heightens as children are blown to pieces in Connecticut without the feeble excuse of a superhero movie while lunatics and fanatics destroy one of the greatest monuments from the ancient world as the world almost ends.

Why the EU got a peace prize and Obama got awarded is still a wonder to most as Dick Clark and Whitney Houston show awards are worth very little when life ends and we move into the next realm of our existence.

With a world that didn’t end surely we can dare to dream and hope for a better 2013, a year where less innocent people die where drought and mother nature can be tackled better  and harnessed and where  many must not only see a new year but also a new fishing bowl of possibility where all one can do is cast a line and wait for a bite.

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Is this Life or Debt?

“Running into debt isn’t so bad. It’s running into creditors that hurts”
With the lack of job prospects in the UK affecting so many, hundreds of Britons are being forced to turn to alternative means to get enough money to get by, week in week out.

The Sheffield Debt Support Unit has found it’s resources pushed to the limits over the past twelve months as the number of debt related issues get more common and more complex. The main issue with the cases Steve Wilcox and his team are dealing with seem to be with money lenders who charge inflated interest rates to those who are desperately in need of pay day loans and emergency loans.

With banks getting more restrictive and credit ratings plummeting, the uptake in online loans and demands on doorstep lenders is getting to the point where the bubble has to burst.


Debt Advice

Getting advice and good advice at that can either bring you out of debt quickly and effectively or push you further in. With debt advisors popping up across the UK and online, getting impartial and full advice seems to be the key to moving forward. Yet many advisors are only in the game to prey on those who are vulnerable and tie them into five and six year debt management plans that leave many in a far worse situation than when they started.

Ralph Keene, is a debt advisor with charity Christians Against Poverty and feels that debt is an issue that can easily affect any or all of us in our lifetimes.

 

“Internet is the quick and easy option”

With mounting debts and the current recession showing few signs of recovery, Jacqueline Halliwell of Sheffield Credit Union feels Yorkshire and the UK needs to curb over spending and cut down on a lifestyle that British citizens take for granted due to credit cards and loans. She says she has found that the internet is proving to be the get out card for people in Sheffield and beyond when they owe money to loan sharks. She said the Credit Union has found that they are now dealing with clients who not only owe money to doorstep lenders but money to e-loan websites to keep the doorstep lenders at bay.

Future

With stricter licensing laws for money lenders and caps on interest rates may come the suppression of lending at the outrageous rates of over 100% apr that have affected so many in the past few years. Yet it seems as though while as soon as the Office of Fair Trading shuts some lenders down others will appear or the previous ones will reappear under different names. As long as demand exists for quick loans and we continue to buy beyond our means then loan sharks and shrewd debt advisors will continue to practice.

Britain’s Disabled Workers Speak Up

A protest  in Sheffield is being held to demonstrate the issue of disabled workers being let go from factory jobs in the UK. The Remploy workers are outraged at the closures and loss of jobs as they are seen as some of the most vulnerable in society. The issue affects workers in London as well as Sheffield and the protests are being staged outside of the Department for Workers and pensions in both cities.

Unions are particularly angry with closures to 36 of 54 Remploy sites this Summer including those in the surrounding cities of Chesterfield and Worksop.

With unemployment hovering around 2.6 million it looks as those with very few options and who are most at risk in Britain will also be joining the dole queues.

How To Pen A Eurovision Song: Songwriter Sharon Vaughn Speaks on Jedward

JEDWARD MANIA

Q1, How does one go about penning a Eurovision song?
I REALLY DON’T KNOW. ALL WE DID WAS WRITE THE BEST POP SONG WE
COULD AT THE TIME.

Q2, How did you feel when you knew Jedward would perform it?
I WAS ECSTATIC AND COMPLETELY SURPRISED

Q3, What are the essential elements to a good pop song?
IT HAS TO HAVE A HOOKY MELODY AND LYRIC. WATERLINE IS A VERY DIFFERENT
AND UNUSUAL TITLE BUT THE SONG ITSELF IS VERY SING-ALONG-ABLE.
AS YOU CAN TELL FROM THE FANS!

Q4, What do you think is needed besides a song to win Eurovision?
JEDWARD ARE THE PERFECT ACT FOR EUROVISION BECAUSE THEY EMBRACE THE ENERGY,
FUN AND THE GLITZ OF THE EVENT.

Q5, Have you looked at the other competitors entries and if so which
do you feel are strong?
TO BE HONEST, I HAVEN’T. THOUGH I AM WATCHING THE SWEDISH
MELODIFESTIVALEN VERY CLOSELY. THERE ARE SOME INCREDIBLY
TALENTED PEOPLE IN THE COMPETITION. ALSO A FRIEND OF MINE IS THE
WRITER-WINNER FOR NORWAY, SO I WISH HIM WELL, OF COURSE.

Q6, Do you have any words of advice for those wanting success in the
music industry today?
MY ADVICE… IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE… BUT ALMOST DOESN’T SCARE AWAY
THE ONES WHO MAKE IT. AND FOR THOSE WHO HAVE DONE IT A LONG TIME… JUST
KEEP DOING IT AS LONG AS IT IS JOYFUL THERE ARE SO MANY NAY-SAYERS AND
NEGATIVE REPORTS ABOUT PIRACY AND THEFT OF INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTIES AND ALL OF THAT IS TRUE AND TERRIBLE. BUT THE FACT ONE CAN MAKE
A LIVING WRITING SONGS IS A GLORIOUS AND WONDERFUL THING.
IT IS THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD… AS LONG AS IT IS A JOY TO YOU…
IF NOT, DON’T TRY IT OR QUIT AND MAKE ROOM FOR SOMEONE ELSE WITH THE
FIRE IN THEIR BELLY.

Youtube Sensation: Fishing Under Ice: Exclusive Interview

Fishing Under Ice

Many Youtube videos in the past few years have been popular but none
have captured the world’s imagination quiet like a Finnish video
uploaded on Jan 4th. The clip shot at Lake Saarijärvi in Vaala,  shows
what the name suggests which is three men Fishing Under Ice. The
sub-aqua shoot is just under four minutes long and has been viewed by
over half a million people around the world per day since its upload.
In an exclusive interview the director Juuso Mettälä  told me that the
idea came about during lunch break chats with his friend Eelis Rankka
who plays the underwater fisherman. He said that it was a simple
decision who would fish as he was the one with the camera. Mr  Mettälä
said that the optical illusion of the entire shoot having the
fishermen walk upside down feet to the ice “takes a while for some
people to realize what is happening”. They shot the video in March and
April of 2011 and Juuso says “two videos were made and there are more
coming”.

Juuso is surprised by the huge interest in the video as diving under
frozen lakes is normal in Finland and admits that both himself and the
divers are flattered by the comments that Youtube viewers have left.
He also would like to add that he is grateful for the comments from
talented photographers and said that it would take a lot of time to
respond to all requests and viewer’s comments so he doesn’t do it. The
polite Finn and his remarkable video has drawn a world audience to the
remote area that has a population density of just 8 people per square
kilometre. The people of Saarijarvi can already claim Baywatch’s
Pamela Anderson as a descendant but for now the worlds audience is
awaiting more marine videos of a different from the talented Mr
Mettälä and his diving fisherman Eelis Rankka.

A Quieter Irish Christmas

Christmas In Ireland

As Europe descends into further financial trials and tribulations the small island of Ireland finds itself having an unusually quiet Christmas period. A nation known for its drink and cheer is facing up to having its strictest financial budget in the nations history reigning in the jingles and bells. With a looming property tax facing a country known for its former property market, 2012 could be a tough year for many. Sean Quinn former billionaire is just one of many property and building tycoons having a less festive holiday season. Moving aside from those who had and now have not, the soaring emigration in a country of under 6 million people is leaving a ghostly feel to many local communities.

The central statistics office has estimated that 50,000 Irish citizens  will have  left the country in this year. With soaring unemployment looking to hit  15% and rise  further; the brain drain facing Ireland is similar to that of Greece and Portugal who face up to leaving for former colonies in the hope of a brighter future.

A Galway woman and her one year old son will return this Christmas from Australia but her husband will remain on hoping for further work while  a 21 year old Sligo woman has said she has gone from returning every christmas to her family to now working “two jobs on Christmas day, I suppose its part of the experience nowadays”. A couple who emigrated early in the year will at least have parents coming to Australia to visit but this is a luxury many will not experience.

As Churches are quieter this Christmas and pubs are less busy, St Vincent De Paul is now finding those who donated in the past are now looking to receive. Generations have gone before and now its the turn of the Celtic Tiger Cubs:The Bebo Generation. Many will have concerns over heating bills and santa costs but for thousands of families they will lack someone rather than something.

 

Catholic Vs Protestant: European Debt Crisis?

EU Crisis

Is there a connection between religion and the current European Debt crisis?

With the majority of Europe’s financial powerhouse being Protestant based such as Germany, Sweden and Finland and those in debt commonly recognised as Catholic; Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy maybe a case might exist.

When one analyses the true state of Protestant ethos which in the past has led to moderation and thrift such as Calvinist and Lutheran principles of no gambling or a life with few excessiveness then a valid case may be presented. One also must consider that Protestants in the past focused on both genders learning the bible from an early age enabling literacy levels to rise and furthering chances of social, political and financial success.

“Thou shalt redeem the time because the days are evil” is often connected with the point that family and career should be prioritised accordingly yet we are looking at a situation where both family and career values are slipping across western Europe and a change needs to be taken with divorce rates rising and many western Europeans looking to social welfare or emigration as more serious options.

God helps those who help themselves” is an often quoted saying but if you look at the corruption that existed in the Italian and Irish governments over the last years this seems to imply that the politicians who helped themselves to large pensions will be aided by god not the common european citizen who is facing up to the fact that Brussels is having to make some serious decisions in order to stabilise our once powerful common currency.

Some critics say the Catholic attitude of “If we mess up, its ok, god will fix it” and “God Will Supply” is embedded in the societies of Europe’s weaker economic states due to centuries of religious impact while the nations with the work hard and make provision attitude such as Switzerland with Jean Calvin and Martin Luther in Germany are left to pick up the pieces. The richest areas in German are the Catholic regions such as Bavaria so is the argument valid at all?

Yet  in Turkey where the “Islamic Calvinist” is seen as a rich man and the astute business dealer. With Europe’s economy waning the point must be raised that one of the richest institutions in the world, The Catholic church is not playing a role in assisting the nations affected or interjecting visibly in European affairs.

With Croatia set to join the EU next July only time will tell where the future of the EU, Euro, and European community lies. Until then the connection between faith and debt crisis is of little significance as we all need a miracle.