Thursday, 24 May 2018

Ireland Abortion Referendum Heats Up!

Ireland abortion referendum: 'Yes' campaigners get behind #hometovote with generous cash offers

One man jets in especially from Argentina, with reports that flights to Ireland are busy with people keen to vote.

Image:The Yes campaign has been on the streets ahead of Friday's poll

Irish citizens living abroad who want to participate in the country's abortion referendum are flying home to cast their vote - with some even offering to pay others' travel costs.

The country will decide on Friday whether to change its constitution, which currently means that every day many women are forced to go abroad for terminations.

The hashtag #hometovote has been mobilised by Yes supporters who want to get as many people as possible casting their vote.

One Twitter user encouraged people to get in touch if they were short of money to make it back to Ireland.

Hey, if you're an Irish woman in the UK who wants to travel #hometovote (and #VoteYes) to #RepealThe8th but can't afford to, I'll cover your travel cost (for a limited number of people, sorry). DMs are open.

Alice [email protected]

Irish working in the UK: if there is anyone who can fly home to vote on Friday but doesn’t have the money, please DM me - I will pay for your flights home as I can’t come home myself. #HometoVote #Repeal8th #TogetherForYes

Helen O'[email protected]

I can’t vote (lived abroad too long).
I haven’t canvassed (I live in London).I haven’t been shouted at, spat at, had doors slammed in my face. I *can* offer lifts to Heathrow/ London City airports on Friday AM. #HomeToVote #Repealthe8th *for Savita & all Irish women*

Alice Murphy made the same offer to Irish citizens in the UK because she is unable to travel.

Helen O'Rahilly referenced the abuse that some women seeking abortions have experienced - as she offered lifts to London airports.

David Healion and Sarah Sweeney were two of many Twitter users saying flights to Ireland were busy with Yes campaigners - some of whom were wearing "repeal" jumpers.


"The number of young people coming home to vote is amazing - my son's friend had to pay €400 for flight (normally €50) 'cos he left it late - that's admirable," tweeted Lucinda O'Sullivan.

While many are travelling relatively short distances, Ciaran Gaffney said he was flying 13 hours from Argentina to have his say.

Ciaran [email protected]

Boarding a 13 hour flight from Buenos Aires to London. London to Dublin tomorrow. No one at airport knows what my repeal jumper means. No one here knows why I'm travelling. If this feels isolating for me, can't imagine how lonely it must be 4 her, travelling 2 the UK #HomeToVote
2:13 PM - May 22, 2018

There has been a big surge in voter registration ahead of the referendum.

If people vote to repeal, the Irish government is proposing that women could access termination within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

After that, abortions will only be allowed until the 24th week of pregnancy if there is a risk to a woman's life, or a risk of serious harm to the physical or mental health of a woman.

Terminations would also be permitted in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

Under the current law, an unborn child has the same right to life as the mother with the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion 14 years in prison.

It is an issue that has divided generations, counties and families.

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland told Sky News the vote was not about religion but about human rights and equality.

Archbishop Eamon Martin said: "The last big referendum in Ireland was an equality referendum, talking about marriage equality, and yet this particular referendum is to remove equality from our constitution.

"It's a rather amazing situation that we're going into the constitution to remove a right and we're actually going in there to remove the fundamental right to life from all unborn children."

Image:Archbishop Eamon Martin says the change would 'remove equality from our constitution'

'No' campaigners also fear that prenatal screening teamed with legal abortion could lead to the eradication of people with Down's syndrome if the Irish constitution is changed.

They point to countries like Iceland, where they suggest the number of fetuses diagnosed with Down's syndrome aborted is close to 100%.

Campaign group Save The 8th claim politicians are "effectively seeking a licence to kill pre-born babies, and to introduce an abortion model that is in many ways even more extreme than the British regime".

It says the current law protects the mother as much as the baby, and deny the rules have ever stopped doctors giving a woman life-saving treatment when she needed it.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Royal wedding goodie bag sold on eBay for eye-watering £21,400

The gift bags were offered to "community champions" inside Windsor Castle to watch the Duke and Duchess of Sussex get married.

Image:The goodie bags were offered to members of the public at Windsor Castle. Pic: eBay/ClaireOliver87

By David Mercer, news reporter

A royal wedding goodie bag being sold on eBay has received a winning bid of more than £21,000.

The souvenir item was offered to "community champions" invited into the grounds of Windsor Castle to celebrate the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's marriage on Saturday.

One gift bag, being sold by an eBay user named ClaireOliver87, was listed as sold on Tuesday evening with a winning bid of £21,400.

Image:Harry and Meghan invited the public inside the grounds of Windsor Castle

According to the website listing, the sale includes the bag itself - featuring the initials of Harry and Meghan - a Windsor Castle bottle of water, a fridge magnet, a chocolate coin, shortbread, a spectator badge and wrist band, a parking sticker, an order of service, a postcard and gift shop card and a map.

The item, which attracted 83 bids, was due to be posted to the anonymous winning bidder next week. But after widespread publicity about the auction, Ms Oliver reportedly said the winning bid was fake and that she had withdrawn the bag from eBay.

The seller's employer, Troup Bywaters + Anders, said the employee was not at the royal wedding as a representative of the company nor as a "community champion" for their work with the firm.

A spokesperson said: "Her subsequent actions on eBay were during her own spare time, and the decision to do so had nothing whatsoever to do with Troup Bywaters + Anders."

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Ebola deaths in Congo rise to 26!

Health workers are sprayed with chlorine after leaving the isolation ward to diagnose and treat suspected Ebola patients, in Congo.AP

KINSHASA, Congo — Congo’s health ministry says there is one new death from Ebola, bringing to 26 the number of deaths from the deadly outbreak in Equateur province in the country’s northwest.

Four new cases have been confirmed as Ebola, said the health ministry in a statement released early Sunday. A total of 46 cases of hemorrhagic fever have been reported in the current outbreak, including 21 confirmed cases of Ebola, 21 probable and four suspected.

Congo President Joseph Kabila and his Cabinet agreed Saturday to increase funds for the Ebola emergency response which now amounts to more than $4 million. The Cabinet endorsed the decision to provide free health care in the affected areas and to provide special care to all Ebola victims and their relatives.

The spread of Ebola from a rural area to Mbandaka, a city of more than 1 million people, has raised alarm as the deadly disease can spread more quickly in densely populated urban centers.

The World Health Organization on Friday decided not to declare the outbreak a global health emergency, but it called the risk of spread within Congo “very high” and warned nine neighboring countries that the risk to them was high. WHO said there should be no restrictions to international travel or trade.

A new experimental Ebola vaccine will be used to try to contain the outbreak. The vaccine is still in the test stages, but it was effective in the West Africa outbreak a few years ago. Vaccinations are expected to start early in the week, with more than 4,000 doses already in Congo and more on the way.

A major challenge will be keeping the vaccines cold in this vast, impoverished, tropical country where infrastructure is poor.

While Congo has contained several Ebola outbreaks in the past, all of them were based in remote rural areas. The virus has twice made it to Kinshasa, Congo’s capital of 10 million people, but was rapidly stopped.

Health officials are trying to track down more than 500 people who have been in contact with those feared infected, a task that became more urgent with the spread to Mbandaka, which lies on the Congo River, a busy traffic corridor, and is an hour’s flight from the capital.

The outbreak was declared more than a week ago in Congo’s remote northwest. Its spread has some Congolese worried.

“Even if it’s not happening here yet I have to reduce contact with people. May God protect us in any case,” Grace Ekofo, a 23-year-old student in Kinshasa, told The Associated Press.

A teacher in Mbandaka, 53-year-old Jean Mopono, said they were trying to implement preventative measures by teaching students not to greet each other by shaking hands or kissing.

“We pray that this epidemic does not take place here,” Mopono said.

The WHO appears to be moving swiftly to contain this latest epidemic, experts said. The health organization was accused of bungling its response to the earlier West Africa outbreak —the biggest Ebola outbreak in history which resulted in more than 11,000 deaths.

There is “strong reason to believe this situation can be brought under control,” said Robert Steffen, who chaired the WHO expert meeting last week. But without a vigorous response, “the situation is likely to deteriorate significantly,” he said.

This is Congo’s ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976, when the disease was first identified. The virus is initially transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys. It is spread via contact with bodily fluids of those infected.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.

Saturday, 19 May 2018


Thanks for representing mate!

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Santa Fe shooting: Texas governor confirms 10 people dead and 10 wounded

Governor Greg Abbott confirms the number of fatalities in a shooting at a high school about an hour south-east of Houston

People embrace outside the Alamo Gym where students and parents wait to reunite following a shooting at Santa Fe high school Friday. Photograph: Michael Ciaglo/AP

Ten people have been killed and 10 wounded in a shooting at a Texas high school that ended with a 17-year-old suspected shooter, a student at the school, surrendering to the authorities.

How many school shootings have there been in 2018 so far?

In the latest school massacre to hit the US, police rushed to Santa Fe high school, about an hour from Houston, on Friday morning before 8am local time. Students ran into a nearby field and woods, and took shelter at a gas station after shots rang out. At least one teacher yelled: “It’s real.”

Greg Abbott, the Texas governor, confirmed on Friday afternoon that 10 people had been killed and 10 injured. He said: “[This] has to be the worst disaster ever to strike this community … and one of the most heinous attacks in the history of Texas.”

By early afternoon, the suspected shooter had been identified as 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis.

Donald Trump broke off from an event at the White House and called it “ a very sad day”. He condemned “an absolutely horrific attack” and said his administration was “determined to do everything in our power” to prevent such incidents.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis’s booking photo, courtesy of the Galveston county sheriff’s department. Photograph: Handout/AFP/Getty Images

A woman who answered the phone at a number associated with the Pagourtzis family declined to speak with the AP. “Give us our time right now, thank you,” she said.

Pagourtzis plays on the Santa Fe high school junior varsity football team, and is a member of a dance squad with a local Greek Orthodox church.

Abbott announced an immediate effort to gather state lawmakers and experts together to discuss changes to the law to try to prevent such tragedies in future, including speeding up background checks. He said: “It’s impossible to describe the magnitude of evil here ... we need to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a risk to others.”

Abbott did not use the name of the shooter during an afternoon press briefing, but appeared to confirm his identity by referring to certain social media postings that had been found to relate to Pagourtzis, including an image of aT-shirt with “Born to kill” written on the front.

The governor said the suspect used a shotgun and a .38 revolver in the attack on his school. “Both of these weapons were obtained by the shooter from his father,” he said, adding that the father legally owned them.

A number of explosive devices, including pipe bombs, pressure-cooker contraptions and Molotov cocktails were found at a number of locations including the scene of the shooting, two residences relating to the suspect, and a car, Abbott said.

Parkland shooting survivors offer words to Texas families: 'We support you'

Abbott said the shooter, who is in the custody of the Santa Fe police department, had told officers he had intended to attack the school then kill himself, but he got cold feet and instead surrendered himself to law enforcement.

But he said there were few “red flags” that would have warned the authorities ahead of time that the 17-year-old was a direct threat, he said.

At the White House, Trump said: “We are with you in this tragic hour and we will be with you forever. We will do everything we can to keep weapons out of our schools and out of the hands of those who should not have them.”

Trump pledged action on gun violence after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February, and held high-level meetings with victims, survivors and lawmakers at the White House. But little action has resulted at the national level to change gun laws, despite a huge movement sparked by Parkland students calling for greater gun control.
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Dakota Shrader, a 10th-grader, told reporters: “We were in class. It was first period. The alarm started going off, everybody went outside, all the teachers were like: ‘Get this way, get this way, come over here.’ Next thing you know we hear the booms and everybody starts running as fast as they can.”

A friend was shot in the leg, she said, “and the next thing you know all the art [class] windows are getting shot, shattered”.

Authorities have not yet confirmed that report.

Play Video
0:36 Student reacts to Texas shooting: 'Everybody just started running' - video

Student Michael Farina, 17, said he was on the other side of campus when the shooting began, and he thought it was a fire drill. A principal came sprinting down the hall telling everyone to run. He said another teacher yelled out: “It is real.”

The tragedy comes three months after the high school massacre in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 and is the 16th school shooting this year that resulted in injury or death.

Santa Fe is a semi-rural commuter-belt city of about 13,000 residents located 30 miles (48km) south-east of Houston.

On Friday afternoon, the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence lobbying group released a statement expressing sorrow and anger over the shooting and called for Congress “finally” to take action on legislation to combat gun violence.

Brady Campaign co-presidents Kris Brown and Avery Gardiner issued a joint statement that read: “We are heartbroken today. Once again, children are shot in their school.

“What will it take for Congress to step up and do their jobs to protect innocent children from gun violence?”