contents Keith Barry interview International Politics New World Order The Voice of South America All Barack and No Bite U.S./Russian Relations An Incompliant Iran
Irish News/Business Ireland’s Condom Rip-Off Merry Christmas Mr. Cowen
Desertec: Miracle or Solar mirage?
Are We All a Bunch of Bigots? Hollywood’s Dark Prince [Polanski]
Music Reviews We Blew It.. Jaws In Space.. Charlie Boorman interview..
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editor Brendan Kildea
deputy editor Abdullah Elneihum
Elaine Yorke Julia Kobalz Nancy Pineda
Brendan Kildea John O’Donnell
Conservation Lightning Protection Roofing
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Bolt to the Future The Inert Pat Gilroy
Sean Gildea | Shane Quinn Nicola Byrne | Hugh Hick Seamus Dunne | Dave Claxton Brendan Kildea | Joseph Morgan Gus McSweeney | Jenny McShane Lidia Okorokova | Jenny Kober Gareth Hughes | Mark Corcoran
editors' words Brendan:
Thanks for picking up this issue of Fusion. It’s been a long struggle to fit everything. Over the last few weeks I’ve received some of the most engaging political and entertainment pieces i’ve read from GCD students - it’s a shame we could’nt fit everything . My idea was put out a fresh, versatile magazine accessible to every budding journalist on campus, I also wanted students to tackle more hard-hitting and topical issues in culture and politics. They’ve achieved this tenfold, I hope there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
YeaoOw! Thanks for picking up this copy of Fusion. It’s been a looong month of late-night coffee binges and long hours of staring into computer screens but we’ve come out of it nicely I’d like to believe. We wanted to bring together a smart, sharplooking magazine and I’d like to think we’ve achieved that. Do enjoy and take care!
Shane Quinn | Jenny McShane David Claxton | Mark Corcoran Gus McSweeney | Christine Maguire Lidia Okorokova | Gareth Hughes
Zara King Orlagh Fallon Brendan Kildea Nono Alicia
special thanks to Nono Abishai Madolo Mathew Mc’Mahon Gareth Hughes Simon Burke Shane Quinn Sophie Kelly Björn Trakowsky Ryan Brennan Alan Gill Barry Finnegan
all work and no play makes Abe somethingsomething
pretty much on a daily basis, you get better. You never really master hypnosis, there’s always new stuff to learn, different concepts and theories that are progressing daily. It’s almost like a never ending quest.
Got tricks? Got tricks?
In the Olympia I’ll be doing dream analysis on the audience where I’ll get them to think of dreams they’ve had and read their minds as to what their dreams are and relating those dreams to their everyday lives. Purely for entertainment of course, getting into their minds, rambling around and figuring shit out about them that there’s no way I coulda known.
A sit down with Keith Barry. Photography by Julia Kobalz.
One of the reasons you survived the car-crash was that you were able to slow down your own heart beat?
What got you into the show? I’d watched the UK version a few times and TV3 approached me with regards to presenting it. I hadn’t done anything here in a couple of years so I was more than happy to consider it at least. I met them a couple of times and we came to an arrangement to do it. It’s a new challenge for me because I’m doing magic and mentalism shows all over the world at this stage. I’ve just finished one over in the States for the Discovery Channel, which I filmed for six weeks in Los Angeles. I’m doing my mentalism stuff elsewhere now, so it’s just great to get back on our screens. How were you after your car crash? My left leg was demolished, I was bedridden for about four months and all I used to do was watch television like Jeremy Kyle, Deal or no Deal and fucking Judge Judy. That was about where my brain was at that moment in time. Funnily enough, I kinda got addicted to Deal or no Deal. I kept watching it after my leg had gotten better so had a good grasp on the show and I enjoyed it. It was a gig I just couldn’t turn down. What’s it about the show that you really like? It’s such a simple show to follow. People said to me that they don’t understand it, but I think it’s because they’ve never actually watched a full show. If you come in during the middle of it, it can get kind of confusing. It has everything a good game show should have. It’s not rocket science, you can just switch your brain off and watch it. It’s very different to being on stage, it’s not live, but it’s a
new challenge for sure. I don’t get nervous easily but I did before this, simply because I’ve got no magic or mentalism as a crutch. It’s simply me, my personality, and the show. It’s exciting though, I love challenges and getting out of my comfort zone. Working on other projects? I’ve got a new show coming in January called the asylum, which is about six weeks away but I’ve barely got the outline done. It’s going to be very dark, bizarre and twisted. Last night I was working on a routine where I’m going to have about twelve people on stage, and because the theme is an asylum, I’m going to make people believe that they’ve gone temporarily insane. But for real -- they’ll really be frothing at the mouth, eyes rolling back in their head and screaming, basically going fucking nuts on stage. I’ll use instantinduction hypnosis on them where I knock them under really quickly into a trace state and they’ll really believe that they’re going insane. It’ll be a lot more real than people expect it to be. When did you start learning the tricks of the trade? There’s no real secret to hypnosis, it’s really a trace-like state and when you put somebody into that, you can have a separate conversation with their sub-conscious mind. I just taught myself when I was about 13, and I’ve been doing magic since about five or six when I got a Paul Daniels magic set. I started to take it seriously again at about 13 when I got a magic book, and right around the same time I got a hypnosis book and began practicing on people and putting them under. When you’re doing something for that long,
Yeah, I can do that. Basically my leg was so badly mangled my foot wrapped up around my shin, I genuinely thought my bone had gone through the leg and that I’d bleed to death. I didn’t want to pass out in the car, so I started slowing my heart rate down. It’s a technique I’ve learned over the past six years. I found out about Tibet Monks that can not only slow their heart rate, but stop it. It’s about putting yourself in such a deep state of trace, that you can actually stop your heart very quickly. I used that technique in the car to stop my body from going into shock and to slow down the blood flow in my body, so if I was bleeding, it wouldn’t come through that fast. Turns out the bone hadn’t gone through my leg, but it helped at the time for sure. You host a lot of your shows with celebrity guests, have you any lined up for the new show? I’ve decided to move away from that. I’ve done a lot of celebrity driven stuff over the years, so just thought it was time for a new direction. With the Discovery Channel, I’m going to be explaining the psychology behind what I’m
doing, without revealing any of the secrets. For instance, I grab people on the street in Hollywood Boulevard and bring them to an ATM machine to put their pass card in. I then do muscle reading which is basically grabbing them by the wrist and reading their physiological signs when they’re thinking of their pin number. I plug in their pin number and get access to their bank account, which obviously freaks them out. So at the same time we’ll have a neurologist on there explaining how I’m doing what I’m doing. Very often a thought will transfer into a physical reaction. Unlike most people, I can read very minute physical reactions and by doing that, can figure out their pin number. I also took about 7 chronic insomniacs into a dream centre and within five minutes they were sleeping for fucking weeks. I cured them completely, and once again I got a sleep doctor and hypnotherapies explaining what I’m doing. Although they admit that they still can’t do what I’m doing, after doing it all their lives. Have you ever received any backlash from the mentalist magicians for suggesting how to these things? I don’t think so, cause I’m not really explaining anything, just the psychology of what I’m doing. People still won’t be able to do it. I’m not really bothered anyway, all I care about is what the general public think, if they like it, I’m happy. You did an episode of CSI, gonna do another one/is acting something you’d consider? If they ask me back to do another one. I think if you do a cameo like I did, you don’t go back for a second one. Acting isn’t a passion of mine, magic and mentalism are. I know a lot of Irish people trying to act in LA, but you’ve got to train
first. I’d start off in the Gaiety School of Acting then train in the states for two or three years before it got serious. I wouldn’t take it lightly if I was going to go into it. Of course, if it landed on my lap, I’d be more than happy to consider it.
The Headline Bar
I’m more into the intelligent head-fucks now. It’s gonna be bizarre, bonkers and frighten the shit out of people. Part of the reason you became famous the whole blogging thing took off for you. How do you think the internet helped you get to the big stage?
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I think it’s just part of the parcel now with what everybody does. I’m quite anti-technology, I’m not really good with it and don’t particularly want to be. I have an iPhone but I don’t have time to sit down and play with fucking applications and stuff. It is a necessary evil though and I’m aware of that. I’ve avoided Twitter up until now at least, but every bodies doing it. If I put anything up on my Facebook that’s controversial, I find it bizarre that the next day it’ll be front page of the Sun or the Star. It’s really weird that they’re all watching that stuff. Obviously not just me, but they’re watching everybody else up there. Although, it does help at the end of the day. Do you pay attention to blog criticism? Not really, I don’t really pay attention to the internet. When I do a live show I often do meet and greets afterwards, so I’d rather hear criticism from somebody’s mouth. People talk crap on their blogs all the time. You don’t know who they are, or if they’re a fucking nut job or something. People can come across quite normal on the internet, but in real life, can be quite whacked out or weird. But the criticism is far and few between, in all the live shows I’ve ever done, I can only remember one set of people walking out, and that’s out of hundreds and hundreds. Have you ever been heckled? I think people know better at this stage, if they heckle, they’re going under. But I’m not a comedian, so I’ve no put down lines. I can only remember once when it was quite bad, in Vicar Street a few years back, so I turned to the audience and said, you can either listen to him or me. The audience just turned on him, they nearly lynched the poor fucker. So, I just let the audience deal with them. Your biggest rivals are probably David Blaine and Derren Brown? David’s a cool guy, we’ve hung out and stuff. I don’t really see anyone as a rival, they’re doing similar things but different styles. It’s like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. Some people like David Blaine, some people hate him.
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These tricks could be quite dangerous, have you ever nearly killed someone? You could potentially kill someone with hypnosis but I’m very careful with what I do. A new trick involves tons and tons of research. I want people to know that they’re safe when they come to my shows. I do a thing called a boomerang induction. Basically I’ve got someone on stage, they’ve already been hypnotised and I take an invisible boomerang and fire it up into the rafters. People will be imagine seeing this thing going around and around in their heads. When it hit’s the first person, they’ll just fall asleep and then everyone will just collapse, almost like a domino effect, as the boomerang hits them. So I’m trying to just push the envelope. I’ve never tried it before, the first time I’ll do it will be onstage in the Olympia in front of fuckin 1200 people. There’s no way to test this stuff at all. If it doesn’t work? I’ll just dance around it and see what happens. But I can’t even allow myself to accept the fact that it’s gonna possible fail. If it does, I’ll just deal with it in whatever way I deal with it.
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WORLD By Lidia Okorokova
hese traditional foes have long eyed each other with suspicion and envy, but they promise to put past differences aside in order to combat the enormous challenges facing the planet.
The four nations make up 40 per cent of the world’s population and their economies are growing, particularly China and India’s (which is causing US leaders sleepless nights).
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 coupled with the Soviet Union’s collapse two years later signalled the end of the Cold war between the United States and the USSR.
The European Union has been struggling to get the Lisbon Treaty singed for almost 10 years now. Tension reached a pitch in the past two years, when Ireland initially voted No and then with the aid of the recession here, passed the Treaty last October.
A type of love-hatred relationship that lasted for 20 years until Barack Obama swooped in and proposed a reset of relations during his summer visit to Moscow this year. He expressed hopes for co-ordination and co-operation between the Russian Federation and the US.
Unions, alliances and cooperatives “getting together” are becoming more popular between world leaders: G8, G20, BRIC, EU etc. They meet to find ways to direct the downturn by holding environmental and military talks, etc.
“Alliances aside, where have the resources been proposed to come from?” Since the beginning of the world economic collapse last year, world leaders started to act in the way they had previously never done before. The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) declared an official alliance between one another. Now they will aim to back each other up to the hilt on the global stage.
Many experts have named China and the US as a possible future G2. China has far more production methods than any other country in the world, whilst the US tends to prevail in areas of technology.
This alliance may well be missing a very important thing - the resources. Where do we find most of the natural resources today? In Russia, where most of the world’s oil and natural gas supplies are found.
China has tended to remain at odds with the US with regard to its diplomatic and economic issues, and vice-versa. The US has still some way to go in healing its relations with Russia after decades of strife.
So we might be seeing a new bloc of countries forming an alliance in the following years. If Mr Obama, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Hu Jintao of China decide to unite, this may become the most advantageous superpower alliance in the world.
If Moscow and Washington are to “reset” their relationship, why do they become not just two countries co-operating on major issues, but a full-time union working on diplomatic and technological issues around the world.
There will be many benefits for all three countries if such an alliance takes place. Think of all the technological development that US has a possession of added to Chinese manpower and Russian resources.
Remember, during the Cold War, both Russia and the US increased its technological developments, and with such, they may now enter into a new co-operative work.
Moscow and Washington, working together from G8 or UN perspectives may open up new horizons for the biggest and fastest growing economy in the world – China.
From a diplomatic point of view, the Kremlin and White House are engaged in numerous military and environmental discussions around the globe, i.e. Iran’s nuclear programme, recent agreement of Russia in supplying its helicopters in the war against the Taliban, Afghanistan, etc.
“a fairytale for most economists and political experts.”
So it might well benefit everyone if these once habitual foes unite and challenge the enormous difficulties facing the globe.
China, in return, may help further boost the Russian economy, which has tightened up on oil and gas prices and has been in serious trouble since last August’s drop from highs of $140 per barrel of oil to just $40.
“In comparing George W. Bush to Hitler and called Tony Blair ‘a pawn of imperialism’, Chavez garnered some measure of respect..”
The Voice of South America By Hugh Hick
een by some as the only true voice against American domination of South America, and by others as simply one more socialist would-be dictator whose call for greater cooperation in the region against “American imperialism” is simply a propaganda vehicle designed to strengthen his own position, there is simply no one with an interest in South American affairs who doesn’t have an opinion of Hugo Chavez. Since his inauguration as president of Venezuela in 1999, Chavez has become a constant thorn in the side of the United States. Unlike many of its neighbouring states that have tried to adopt a position of passive neutrality in relation to the US in recent years, Venezuela under Chavez has used every available media opportunity to decry the evils of American foreign policy. It has not helped relations between the two countries that Chavez has visibly allied himself closely with former Cuban president Fidel Castro, a man that has outlasted ten US Presidents’ attempts to overthrow his regime. Together, the two men represent the great South American Socialist dream, which after fifty years still has not truly been achieved. Chavez thinks he can change that. Over the last several years, Chavez has focused his foreign policy on further integration among South American countries. He has mainly done this through a strengthening of economic ties in what he calls “oil diplomacy”. Using Venezuela’s vast oil reserves as a bargaining tool, Chavez has bartered reciprocal trade agreements with neighbouring countries on an unprecedented scale, with the view of creating a completely autonomous region free of US influence. Critics of the Chavez regime, including the US, allege that Chavez is using this integration policy as a means of
shaping South America in his own image, by publically and privately lobbying for the election of pro-socialist candidates in countries involved in these trade agreements. Chavez’s tendency to get involved with the political affairs of these countries gained considerable media attention when he acted as mediator in talks between Columbia and terrorist organisation FARC over hostages. Much of Chavez’s appeal stems as much from his exaggerated rhetoric as it does his charisma. Having compared George W. Bush to Hitler and called Tony Blair “a pawn of imperialism”, Chavez garnered some measure of respect from critics of Western foreign policy, particularly in the aftermath of the Iraq war. This style of colourful oratory has backfired on Chavez in the past however, notably when he called Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar a “fascist” at the 2007 Ibero-American conference, leading to a sharp admonishment by King Juan Carlos and a subsequent apology from Chavez. But even those in agreement with Chavez’s world view have some cause for concern when looking at Venezuela itself. While he has retained a measure of popular support throughout his presidency, some of his more radical reforms since his re-election in 2006 have been met with criticism. Most controversial of these were his constitutional reforms, which included a provision to
end term-limits on the presidency, theoretically allowing Chavez to remain in power indefinitely.
last gasps of it before it is smothered by a swift change to authoritarianism.
While Chavez insisted that the reason for this proposal was that the successful implementation of his socialist model would take longer than his term in office, its initial rejection in December 2007 was seen as the first major blow to Chavez’s regime. Its success when put forward again in February 2009 just cemented the view of his critics that Chavez was trying to build a dictatorship through democracy.
I don’t doubt Chavez’s motives. No leader would take the risks he has done if it were only for personal gain. But the fact of the matter is strong ideologies, no matter how well meant, never work in democracies. Name me an extreme left or right leaning functioning democracy in existence and I’ll eat my hat.
Perhaps the most worrying sign of a move in this direction by Chavez is his increasing stranglehold on the domestic media. As well as hosting his own weekly television show “Aló Presidente”, which is little more than a thinly-veiled propaganda vehicle, in 2006 Chavez also revoked the licence for RCTV, Venezuela’s second largest television channel, having accused them of supporting the failed 2002 coup d’etat against him. Any student of political history will see the warning signs. Constitutional reform, media interference, creation of a cult of personality. While Chavez may give plausible reasons for each of these things, the fact remains that never before have such measures strengthened a democracy. Instead, they tend to be the
Perhaps Chavez is even under the delusion himself that he could make it work, that he could implement his social utopia while under the constant scrutiny of a free media and the threat of being replaced every few years. Nonetheless, every step he takes toward social reform will make it just that bit harder for him to give up power, and risk losing everything he’s worked for. Having said that, Chavez remains an important figure. He stands for a South America that needn’t be overshadowed by its bigger, uglier brother. The sheer scale of his ambition and will power make him a formidable character on the world stage. It may be that in time we will come to view him in a different light, but for a world that has seen capitalism crumble before its very eyes, Chavez has taught us one very important lesson: there is always an alternative.
All Barack and no bite..
by Sean Gildea
Global financial crisis hampering Obama’s promises of change
he United States President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize based on his guarantee for nuclear disarmament, yet is this not an example where the Democrat is being honoured for words rather than achievements. Mr Obama’s victory in last year’s presidential election campaign was greeted with rapturous global applause. The media hailed it as the beginning of a new era after the calamitous policies of the George W. Bush era. Mr Obama has led a campaign with messages of “hope” and “change”, but has much really changed? In the 12 months since the former Illinois senator’s inauguration, the US still has record levels of unemployment, the global banks are still in crisis, and the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan are still raging. It would be naïve of us to expect Mr Obama to produce miracles overnight. The campaign was cunningly brilliant in appealing to a disillusioned electorate, desperate for change. But a fickle electorate is not a patient one and it is no wonder the approval ratings have dipped as he has so far struggled to deliver on many of the larger issues. Not all of this is his fault of course, as he inherited a lot of these problems from the previous administrations’ malpractices. Mr Bush never provided exit strategies for its wars in Afghanistan or Iraq and the US banking system is essentially the same under-regulated system that has existed since the Reagan era. Early success By signing an order to close Guantanamo Bay in his first week as president, Obama could bolster his “Yes We Can” image without confronting much opposition. Boosted by this image, Obama would then find it easier to get congressional support for his $787 billion stimulus package. When this legislation
eventually passed through Congress, albeit without the support of Republicans, it was indeed a significant success for Mr Obama’s cabinet. Other successes include the repealing of the unpopular Bush law which prevented federal funding for stem-cell research. However, with issues such as unemployment, health-care and education, the average American is hardly concerned with the study of stem cells.
with his nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State. It was an inspired and humble nomination to a rival who pushed him a huge distance for the Democratic presidential runner in 2008. By offering Mrs Clinton a top cabinet position, he could ease any lingering tension that may have existed between the Clinton and Obama camps. On top of this, he gets a well-regarded and capable politician as his foreign policy chief.
Unclear messages Foreign policies Mr Obama’s delivery on election promises has been quite paltry in the grand scheme of things. His inevitable slip in public approval has been due to an unclear message he is sending to the American public. During his presidential campaign, the 48-year-old listed withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the introduction of universal health care as his top priorities. He has set target dates for a gradual withdrawal in Iraq, but has found no option but to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and expand his military budget. He is finding it difficult to get support from the Democrats on these issues, and there seems to be tension within the party as a result. His proposed health care bill is also facing opposition from not only Republicans, but from some within his own party too. Unless Mr Obama can rally support on these issues quickly, the Democrats may find themselves handing control of Congress over to the Republicans in next year’s mid-term elections (though still unlikely). It is imperative for Mr Obama that the health care bill is passed. If he can get this done soon, he should be able to re-focus his party and realign divisions before the November elections in 2010. He has shown before this is possible
Although his approval rating has declined domestically, the president remains a consistently popular figure abroad. He has managed to restore the US’s image internationally, which was left in tatters after the Bush years. He has done so by engaging countries the US was traditionally hostile to - Iran, North Korea, Russia and Cuba - with messages of “dialogue” and “cooperation”. Such offerings have undoubtedly impressed those on the Norwegian Nobel Committee, who were keen to award him with the Nobel Prize only 9 months into his presidency. Of course, Mr Obama’s willingness for making those statements says very little about lifting sanctions on the countries in question. His efforts to thaw relations with Cuba culminated in an ease in travel restrictions for Cuban Americans. It’s hardly anything to shout about. Mr Obama is high on sentiment and has to date, in my opinion, struggled to implement any significant changes in the US and abroad. Politics is about timing, and who knows, maybe Mr Obama is hiding an ace up his sleeve, waiting for the right moment to pounce. It’s still early days.
U.S. and Russian relations improving despite Obama’s Nobel Prize victory By Lidea Okorokova
nce bitter dealings between the United States and Russia set during George W. Bush’s presidency appear to be taking a U-turn, Russian state owned and private media outlets reported last summer. During a visit to Moscow in July, the US president, Barack Obama, said the US wants to “reset” relations with Russia.
In 1990, the then Soviet Union President, Mikhail Gorbachev, won a Nobel Peace Prize “for his leading role in the peace process which today characterises important parts of the international community”. In simple terms he won it for making the reunification of Germany possible and for slowing down the arms race.
In September 2009, Washington shelved its plans to deploy strategic anti-missile interceptors in Eastern Europe. The Russian government was pleased with Mr Obama’s scrapping of aggressive foreign policies undertaken by Mr Bush.
In addition, political analysts in the Motherland believed that Dmitry Medvedev would have constituted a more worthy winner of this year’s Peace Prize.
Last month in Oslo, Mr Obama was controversially awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. According to the Nobel Prize committee, Mr Obama was given the honour because of his decisions to pull US troops out of Iraq and by continuing the “military operation against the Taliban” in Afghanistan. The committee’s press release stated that through Mr Obama’s policies “democracy and human rights” would be “strengthened” around the globe. Many experts believe the Nobel Prize committee’s choice was made to encourage Obama to act more appropriately and change the way global politics is played out. They did not say whether Mr Obama’s efforts in Eastern Europe are to be considered, but what is clear is that Russian-American relations may well improve under the former Illinois senator’s presidency. Few citizens in Russia would have expected the committee to offer the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr Obama and quite a few living there had expected the current Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, to receive the award.
The Daily Moscow Times published an opinion piece by Vladimir Frolov, president of LEFF Group, a government-relations and PR company, who believes “Obama won his Nobel for a number of flowery foreign policy speeches and a vision for a nuclearfree world that is not likely to take shape in his lifetime”. Frolov says “from this perspective, Medvedev’s call in 2008 for a new, all-encompassing security architecture in Europe is a much more realistic and no less peacemaking undertaking worthy of a Nobel”. Medvedev is seen by many as a new wave of politician in Russia, even though he seems still to be under the sway of the country’s primeminister, Vladimir Putin. Medvedev is being encouraged by the media to go the opposite way of Putin, with regard to his policies, and appears to be taking some heed. Thus, vast swathes of ordinary Russians would have liked to have seen Medvedev receive such a prestigious award. Speaking of public relations, there is a wellknown and circulated opinion among the educated classes, that the Russian and American governments should employ the same public relations experts to maintain a positive public opinion. Ketchum Inc., based in Washington DC, named Maslov PR company, located in Moscow, as its official representative in 2006. The two firms have
worked closely together since 1993, when a new Russian constitution was adopted. If you have not watched the movie “Spinning Boris” you will probably not understand what is so important about these PR companies. In “Spinning Boris” three American PR men come to Moscow and work closely with Yeltsin’s daughter (who was the head of the elections campaign at the time) to help him win the 1996 free elections. The film starts with the words “based on a true story”. Ketchum Inc. and Maslov PR did work together to shift the Russians’ attention from the Communist Party’s leader, Zyuganov, back to Yeltsin as they entered the second round of the elections in 1996. Boris Yeltsin won the elections, dancing and cheering his way to the hearts of Russians during that summer’s campaign. Even if Mr Obama’s Nobel Prize came as a shock to the Russian people, it is not seen as an obstacle to the ongoing improvement in relations between Whitehouse and Kremlin officials. Moscow, indeed, has recently sounded a lighter note to the Nobel Committee’s choice and is more accepting of Obama’s Nobel win. Mr Medvedev and his US counterpart are set to sign a new deal on nuclear arms, called START-III, before 5 December, commemorating Obama’s award. Negotiations are now being held by representatives from both countries on the new START-III arms cut deal.
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An incompliant Iran.. by Sean Gildea
ran believes a new deal offered by the United Nations is a Western rouse based on false promises, but will they eventually bow to the pressure to disarm their nuclear weapons?
most threatened by Iran’s nuclear proliferation. Not even the US has rejected the possibility of military action against Iran, however it is most unlikely it will come to this.
Iran’s latest rejection of a nuclear deal is not a great surprise, but it is in the best interests of everyone, including Iran, that a deal is made quickly. While the United States has been consistent in voicing its concerns about Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions, it now seems Russia and China are also losing their patience with the regime. Should further talks fail, Iran will be the ones to suffer, most likely through tougher sanctions. All eyes are now on Tehran.
The offer from the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – and Germany; would allow Iran to keep their nuclear facilities in operation. However, it would require them to ship nearly 75 per cent of their lowenriched uranium to Russia. There, the uranium would be enriched further and then delivered back to Iran as fuel, ensuring that it could not be used for a nuclear weapon. The offer has been viewed by most outsiders as generous, but Iran is not happy. Tehran has rejected the offer stating it wishes for a simultaneous exchange within its own borders, fearing that what it was promised will not be delivered. Tension brewing This is a fairly reasonable argument from an Iranian perspective as Russia has recently failed to deliver an advanced missile-defence system to Iran. Tehran has accused Moscow of bowing to political pressure from Israel and the US. Iran is playing a dangerous game. It is antagonising both its allies and its enemies at the same time. Furthermore, it faces the possibility of harsh sanctions or worse if it continues its current nuclear policies. The US has openly talked about the possibility of imposing tough economic sanctions should Iran reject any further deal. Iran has not reacted positively. It has announced it will begin largescale air-defence war games to plan against any potential attack on their nuclear facilities. This is a clear message to its rivals that Iran will not be threatened. These war games may all be for show, but Iran cannot be too careful. Rejection of a new deal will do nothing to ease some of their neighbours’ worries. A military response is unlikely but cannot be entirely ruled out, especially from Israel. Israel is not one to listen to objections from the UN or the US when it comes to such matters, and they feel
A more likely situation is that harsh sanctions will be imposed on the Tehran government. Although China and Russia have recently declared their reluctance to implement measures, Iran’s deception regarding their second nuclear facility has angered them. They are both now seemingly in line with Washington on the issue. President Barack Obama is willing to put some pressure on the Iranians, however such a strategy could be a mistake. The only people that will suffer if measures are imposed are the Iranian people. Cutting off food and fuel supplies will do nothing to improve Iran’s diplomacy with the West and will only deepen the humanitarian crisis there. Sanctions would make the Tehran government more belligerent towards the West. With a government less open to dialogue, a long-term humanitarian crisis in the country, far worse than the current situation, would be inevitable. It would also deepen antiwestern sentiment in Iran and add fuel to the terrorist threat. Iran is certainly not portraying itself as worried about all this. Only recently their foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, shrugged off the possibility saying the West is “wise enough not to repeat failed experiences”. He may be correct, but perhaps he gives the West too much credit. One only has to look at Iraq during the 1990’s and early 2000’s to see that sanctions do not work. Heavy sanctions will have no political effect on Tehran and it is an undesirable solution for everybody. Unfortunately, this is the only trick up Washington’s sleeve short of war, when it comes to dealing with undesirable regimes. Solution Iran will eventually come to an agreement with the six powers and may be just playing the stubborn mule. By rejecting the offer and announcing wargame manoeuvres, Iran appears to be merely acting with its usual bravado. The Iranians know its army and air force is no match for the Israelis (no matter how tarnished the Israeli army’s reputation is). The Iranians are biding their time in the hope something better comes to the table. If it does, they will feel they have won a battle of wits. If it doesn’t, at least they have shown they are, once again, not willing to be pushed around.
“The only people that will suffer if measures are imposed are the Iranian people.”
By David Claxton
he World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies condoms as “only contraceptive method proven to reduce the risk of all sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.”
In 2006, then British Chancellor, Gordon Brown, was able to drop the VAT rate on condoms from 17.5% to 5%. This helped to reduce condom prices to around €6 in the UK.
Yet in Ireland, as usual, we are being grossly overcharged for these life-saving items. Condoms are taxed as “luxury goods” in this country, even though they protect people from such damaging diseases and unplanned pregnancies. According to the Health Service Executive (HSE), 337 new HIV infections were detected in 2006, up over 6% on 2005.
There is a widespread belief that consumers are being ripped off from various sources concerned with this issue.
Such “goods” face a steep rate of VAT. In February 2008, former Finance Minister, Brian Cowen, announced a VAT rate cut on condoms from 21% to 13.5%, there was widespread support for the move. The reduction meant that condoms were reduced by just over a Euro to around €10 for a packet of 12. Other forms of contraception such as the “pill” have a 0% VAT rate, why is there a difference? Under EU regulations, member states are only allowed to drop VAT rates to no less than 5% on certain goods, as set out in the Annex III of the EU VAT Directive. Condoms are included in this Directive. Brian Cowen said: “the position is that the VAT rating of all goods and services are subject to the requirement of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply.”
Ò Durex Ireland believe people should not be Ô taxedÕ for protecting their sexual health.Ó Yet the then Minister could have dropped the VAT rate on condoms from 21% to 5% under EU law, but didn’t.
Ò we are being grossly overcharged for lifesaving items with condoms being taxed as Ò luxury goodsÕ Ó Durex Ireland has said that they “believe people should not be ‘taxed’ for protecting their sexual health.” The company also states that condoms should not be classified as a luxury item and that VAT should be cut to 5%. “By supporting the reduction in VAT levied on condoms, Durex believes a lower price will make condoms more accessible, particularly to young people for whom price could be an issue,” said a spokesperson for the company. The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) President Hamidreza Khodabakhshi said: “let’s be clear, the Government hasn’t gone far enough in reducing the cost of condoms. The USI continues to lobby for a further reduction in VAT to 5% as provided for by EU law.” For Proinsias De Rossa, Labour Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and party member of the Socialist Group, it is clear what is happening in this country. He said: “We are being ripped off by condom suppliers. There seems to be reluctance for consumers to complain.”
Is the VAT rate the sole cause of Irish people being overcharged for condoms? The VAT rate in Spain is 16% and they are charged over €6 for a 12 pack of condoms. The same pack has a rate of 21% VAT in Belgium, yet costs over €3. While in France, at 19.6% it costs over €4 and in Germany, at 19% costs over €5 for the same pack. The standard rates of VAT in these countries are all different to Ireland’s, some higher, some lower, but we pay €12 for the same pack of condoms that is much cheaper in other EU states. Durex Ireland says, “As a manufacturer, we have no control over retail costs, nor are we allowed to control them in any way under EU legislation.” “Prices for condoms are set by the retailers themselves,” a Durex spokesperson said. Labour would “insist that the Competition Authority would examine the prices charged by companies to establish if there is an anticompetitive price fixing cartel, or market sharing arrangement in place by major manufacturers,” according to Proinsias De Rossa. “The Government don’t want to arouse the ire of conservative elements in Irish society, who prefer to see young people risk their health and lives thank forego a religious based objective to so-called ‘artificial’ contraception,” concluded De Rossa. No one, it seems, wants to admit any fault in prices being so high. This is clearly a health and safety issue. Considering that HIV infections are rising, this is another case of the government passing the buck on an urgent issue. Does this surprise anyone at all these days?
“Presents to nieces, nephews, in-laws and other less immediate relatives or friends are for the chop.” cutting back on their spending this Christmas due to the current economic environment and fears about whether they will have a job this time next year. Some of them have already lost their jobs this year and as the redundancy payment and savings run out, every item of spending is being scrutinised to ensure the mortgage is paid and there is a roof over their heads.
MERRY CHRISTMAS MR COWEN As the Christmas lights are now up in the shops, it is time wish An Taoiseach a ‘Merry Christmas’, writes JOSEPH MORGAN
ulling into the car park at the shopping centre in Newry, Northern Ireland, this weekend, I couldn’t help but recall the words of An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, earlier this year as he criticised the public for ‘crossborder shopping’. At the time, it was all being blamed on a 30% drop in the value of Sterling and ‘unpatriotic’ behaviours. To paraphrase George Orwell: “Shopping in the rip-off Republic good, shopping in Northern Ireland - at greatly reduced prices - bad.” There is nothing quite like the sight of a politician wrapping themselves in the national flag. What Mr Cowen was less keen to point out is that the government has already started down the road of delivering a ‘triple-whammy’ to the Irish retail sector just in time for the run-up to Christmas.
“One has to wonder why Mr. Cowen would hit those most in need.”
Presents to nieces, nephews, in-laws and other less immediate relatives or friends are for the chop. The extra spending on luxuries for the table will be pared back. Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), released earlier this year, show that sales in December 2008 fell by over 8% compared to a year earlier. And its looking like this December is going to be a lot worse. And cross-border shopping figures prominently in that prediction. One friend showed me the UK and Irish catalogues of a ‘well known retail chain’ that showed the price for a particular child’s toy at €50 here and £30 (about €33 at current exchange rates) in the North. Her words: “It’s a no-brainer really. I’m going to be buying all the presents in Newry and I might as well get the food and the wine while I’m there as that’s cheaper too.”
Meanwhile, back in the car park, the long queue of cars with Dublin registrations lined up one after the other made spotting a local Northern Ireland plate rather like looking for a hen’s teeth. Those shoppers were clearly paying a lot of heed to our leader’s words. The ‘consumer-led recovery’, allegedly to be brought about by NAMA getting credit flowing into the economy again, is one of the key drivers that our government is telling us will lift the Irish economy out of recession. Quite apart from the fact that my poll shows that nobody wants the banks’ credit facilities in the foreseeable future, Ireland’s economic recovery is starting to look as likely as bumping into the real Santa on Christmas morning. As An Taoiseach sits down to his dinner on December 25th, I hope he spares a minute to think about the many thousands of men, women and children who have gone without this year. Perhaps he will resolve to reduce his own salary in the New Year to less than that of the President of the United States – it is currently greater - and pump that back into our ailing retail sector if it so concerns him. Merry Christmas, Mr Cowen.
The first hit came earlier this year. In the budget last April, it was announced that the Christmas bonus paid to welfare benefit claimants would be axed this December. There is plenty of evidence to prove that welfare claimants spend all the money they receive directly into the economy. So it’s not as if they money isn’t needed by those that receive it and one has to wonder why Mr Cowen would hit those most in need.
“Ireland’s economic recovery looks as likely as bumping into the real Santa on Christmas morning.”
The second punch will be far harder than the first. The next budget statement is due in the first week of December. It has already been widely forecast (by the government, as well as the pundits) that most of the €4 billion in savings required will be achieved by taking the axe to welfare payments and public sector pay. Once again, it is coming directly out of the economy. The third strike is the real knockout blow to the retail sector this Christmas. In a straw poll of fifty friends and relatives, the overwhelming majority (94%) said that they will be drastically
he Sahara is not only the world’s largest hot desert, but curiously, has almost the same dimension as Europe. In the near future, this will not be its only connection with the continent. A revolutionary project, called Desertec, is based on the idea of an installation of solar panels in the desert in order to generate energy not only for the whole of Europe, but for the Middle East and Africa. Similar projects are planned to be set up in Australia, South America and Asia, interlinking the whole world through the biggest solar power project on earth. Every single day, the amount of solar energy reaching the surface of our planet provides us with 10.000 times the energy we commercially use, per year twice as much as will ever be obtained from our non-renewable resources gas, oil, coal and fossil fuel and until now, we never even thought of further investigating the potential this could hold. With natural resources running out and the world population growing to an estimated 10 billion by 2050, scientists and economists are looking for alternatives which can reduce the danger global warming has not only on our living-conditions but on our general existence. Unlike the other renewables available to us, solar-voltaic has very little negative impact on the environment, especially when set up in the heart of the desert. While nuclear power plants create toxic waste and are a significant danger for potential contamination and accidents, wind farms, although to a minor extent, harm bird and bat populations and pose an obstacle to
agriculture. Hydropower, so far the only method capable of providing vast, sufficient amounts of clean energy, has an enormous impact on the environment. The dams needed are a considerable harm to fish populations, water quality and flow, and lower water’s oxygen levels, which damages flora and fauna in the surrounding areas.
latest technology available, the solar plants could be operated 24 hours a day with an estimated lifespan of 40 years. Thermal energy will be generated through the use of large mirror panels in order to concentrate the sun‘s heat throughout the day, which will be stored in tanks and run through steam circuits according to demand.
Despite the ongoing development of renewable energy sources and increased governmental funding for research in the field, more than 70 percent of the global energy supply is still linked to the burning of fossil fuels, oil, coal and gas. Few would disagree that this is the main contributor to the destruction of the global climate system.
By using a specific air-cooling system, the plants do not use drinking water needed in particularly arid regions, although this method is slightly less efficient than traditional water-cooling systems. This way, the project will not interfere with important water supply for desert populations. On the contrary, in the coastal areas, saltwater will be used for the cooling process in order to create drinking water through desalination.
Many scientists agree, that in order to dim the effects of global warming, humanity would need to decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases by a minimum of 70 percent before 2050. Therefore, the development of new technologies for the generation of alternative, non-carbon energy that is not only sustainable but easily stored and exploited is unavoidable. At present, solar power is the most compact and easily conservable energy source worldwide. More importantly, solar energy remains a natural constant which, unlike wind and water, remains independent from external influences. Desertec proposes the installation of solar thermal power plants, so-called CSPs in the North-African desert in order to provide Europe, the Middle East and North Africa ( EUMENA region) with secure, inexpensive energy, which would be transmitted by multiple high-voltage direct-current (HDVC) grids. Placed worldwide, on sites with the best solar radiation conditions combined with the
Desertec Miracle Solution or Solar Mirage?
Currently, the project is directed towards the aim of providing 15 percent of Europe‘s energy by means of photo-voltaic. However in the long term, it is expected to provide for as much as 90 percent of the global population. Due to its geographical proximity, Desertec is focussing its strategies on the MENA region first, but is presently promoting the model in America, China, India and Australia with the aim of creating regional networks based on the concept of energy-generation in desert areas.
“Desertec claims if only 1% of the Sahara were covered, it would provide enough energy for the whole world.” It is estimated that the 100 GW network for the entire EUMENA region will cost 45 billion euro. However, spread amongst 30 participating countries and ten years, this will break down to 150 million euro per state, an average of less than 1,000 euro per European inhabitant. Like all alternative energy projects, Desertec will depend on public funding. Desertec claims if only one percent of the Sahara were covered, it would provide enough energy for the whole world. The global interest in the idea of revolutionising the energy-market forces and expanding technological evolution is immense, with more than one thousand
companies inquiring about Desertec every single day. The political world of Europe seems determined to support the project so far, with German chancellor Angela Merkel and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso having already insured financial aid. With great power comes responsibility. Concerns voiced by critics include the necessary diplomatic and political agreements concerning energy, investment and trade between Europe and North African nations such as Morocco and Algeria, which could significantly postpone the installations. The fear that terrorist attacks as well as corruption might push Europe into an economic and political corner is unreasonable as there will be no centralised provider, instead the 20 or more transmission lines will run through a number of countries, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, Italy, Morocco and Spain, ensuring energy back-up and provision security. The Moroccan government, which currently imports 96 per cent of its energy, shows itself in favour of Desertec. Said Mouline, head of the CDER, Morocco‘s renewable energy agency, who played a key role in recent developments by suggesting the country for the project, clarifies the reason for his enthusiasm: “Morocco doesn’t have even one percent of Europe’s energy consumption, so let’s be realistic. We would be generating enough power for us, and for export, for the next 100 years.”
“existing powerstructures will shift as the Middle East and Saudi Arabia no longer will be able to dictate the oil price”
It will be up to the countries to decide whether they want to primarily use the energy generated or export it. The sheer existence of power plants however will ensure electricity for local villages and towns, which so far were completely cut off. As poverty is often linked to power shortage and access to affordable, reliable and environmentally sensible energy, this will significantly help the economic development of the regions involved. Also, it will prevent contemporary projects planning the construction of Nuclear Power plants, which, if subject to terrorist attacks, would have severe consequences. Of course, existing power-structures will shift as the Middle East and Saudi Arabia no longer will be able to dictate the oil price and use their resources for political pressure. Nevertheless this will not amount to the insignificance of oil and gas for countries rich in those natural deposits. Being provided with solar power will mean their focus can shift to export only, which will be in the countries‘ interest and help further carbon preservation. We live in a world now that is more divided than ever. For 25 per cent of the global population to continue to enjoy the highest consumption pattern in human history, 75 per cent of humanity will experience the daily reality of inhumane poverty, contaminated drinking water, disease, unemployment and hunger. Desertec claims to insert a very humane, reasonable and scientifically airtight business approach into the global agenda. The variety of companies signing up for the long-term investment in eco-friendly, humanitarian innovation, hints to the inclination to contribute to a long overdue revolution for outdated energy policies and established economic power-relations. If we don‘t address these issues now, we will regret it later.
Moreover, Desertec can be seen as an insurance against rising conflict in unstable countries. In North Africa itself, the construction of the solar panels will create thousands of jobs for local engineers alone.
Jennifer Kober investigates corporate investment in green energy..
Are we all a bunch of bigots? T
inkers, Pikeys, Knackers, Travellers; all the pseudonyms we frequently use to describe our most native and indigenous minority group. With no knowledge of their history or origins, uneducated judgements are cast upon them as our disdain for the travelling community is bred into us from birth by the intolerance of those before us. Societies condemnation of the travelling community is a product of a history of archaic government policy which has blossomed into the ignorance and discrimination that prevails today. This has also given rise to the anti social behaviours that we all too frequently associate with Travellers in order to justify our bigotry. Why is that the Irish, often referred to as a giving nation, look upon marginalised societies further afield with such charity and sympathy yet when it comes to a minority group closer to home the feeling is of disdain and revilement?
The obvious argument most frequently used is as unsound as it is ignorant; that the anti social behaviour of travellers is a just reason for our disdain. Where this argument is illegitimate, there lies a failure to recognise the fact that poverty is a breeding ground for anti social behaviour.
by both travellers and the settled people) also inevitably results in travellers being forced to live in sub standard living conditions at the margins of society – which in turn gives rise to the anti social behaviour tag people are so quick to attach to the travelling community.
“It is all too easy for us, the disciples of the status quo, to scoff at others” The focus of government has always been aimed at solving the “problem” of itinerancy, assuming the community wanted to be assimilated into the rest of society, thereby completely ignoring the culture of the travelling tradition. What the focus should be on is solving the problems of travellers. Local political, and residential opposition to integrated living arrangements for travellers (residential areas shared
We too often look down our noses at them for the negative behaviour they exhibit and the sub standard living conditions in which they live, yet these are conditions which we have over time created for them. Forced to live outside the innate snobbery of the settled community, travellers suffer social exclusion, racism, poor access to public and private services, health, education, electricity and heating. With such poor access to the basic amenities in life – for which
“We too often look down our noses at them for the negative behaviour”
the government must be held accountable - it is of no surprise that anti social behaviour is rife within the travelling community. How can anything else be expected? If you socially exclude a group of people from society you should expect anti social behaviour to be the result. It is as almost as though the travelling community is expected to overcome these social inequalities without the support of its settled neighbours or the government, and to do so without incident or friction, whilst at the same time being virtually ghettoised by the settled community. The combination of the governments continued failure to recognise and cater to the nomadic tradition of travellers combined with the general public’s reluctance to integrate with the travelling community in any aspect of living, is the precise cause of the anti-traveller agenda that prevails in society today.
It is difficult to see the social gap between the settled and the travelling community narrowing in the existing climate, where infant mortality rates among travellers are twice that of the settled community; where traveller life expectancy among travellers is now that of the general population during the 1940s; where only 7 per cent of travellers sit their Leaving Certificate examinations and where subsequently travellers encounter difficulties gaining employment. People forget all too quickly that we are merely products of our environment; without the luxuries to which we have become accustomed we would be characteristically different. It is all too easy for us, the disciples of the status quo, to scoff at others that don’t follow the conventions that those in power expect us to follow. Instead we disregard what we don’t understand and from the seeds of this ignorance grow discrimination.
Understand this: that without running water we would be dirty, without electricity we would be unhealthy and without home provisions from our government and exclusion from “mainstream” society many, if not most, of us would behave what is deemed as anti-social. Society is accountable for these conditions through its lack of cultural understanding and its innate discrimination towards travellers. So the next time a traveller pseudonym is about to roll off your tongue remember you might just be the cause of the very thing you claim to hate. ________________ by Gus McSweeney
“Woody Allen, on the big list of celebrities who support a child rapist.”
Hollywood’s Dark Prince A look at Roman Polanski..
Yes ladies and gentlemen, Woody Allen, on a big list of celebrities who support a child rapist. Because what you need when battling a paedophilia case is a man who married his adopted daughter on your side.
50 years was probably too lenient. The testimony given from victim, Samantha Gailey, reads like a crime-channel documentary. The kind you feel uneasy hearing about on the news, and often carry ‘discretion advised’ warnings. To sum things up, a grand jury wanted to charge Polanski with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under fourteen, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. Polanski’s plea deal, however, saw him plea guilty to the charge of ‘unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.’ On the 10th of March 1977, Polanski took Gailey to Jack Nicholson’s Los Angeles home for a photo-shoot that the director claimed was for French Vogue. Geimer testified that Polanski gave her a combination of champagne and the sedative drug, Quaalude. Polanski “performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on her” each time after being told ‘no’ and being asked to stop.
“I don’t blame myself. You see, Mr. Gitts, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of ANYTHING.” [Noah Cross:Chinatown]
Polanski managed to escape, and growing up, took a great interest in film. In the 1950s, he took up acting and directing. From there he went to France, before eventually making the move to Hollywood in 1968. It was in this year that he made the infamous thriller, ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’
On September 26, 2009, famed film-director, Roman Polanski, was detained by police at Zürich Airport. Polanski was trying to enter Switzerland to attend the Zurich Film Festival, where he was to receive the “Golden Icon” Lifetime Achievement Award. The arrest was made at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, as Polanski has had a U.S. arrest warrant outstanding since 1978. Since his detainment, there has been massive support for the freedom of Polanski amongst some of Hollywood’s biggest names. So surely his crime wasn’t that bad?
In 1969, tragedy struck. His wife, actress Sharon Tate, along with four others, were murdered by the notorious Manson clan. She was eightmonths pregnant with their first child at the time. After the murders he returned to Europe, but his re-emergence in Hollywood came in 1974, with the release of the acclaimed ‘Chinatown.’
Rajmund Roman Liebling was born on the 18th of August 1933, in Paris, France to Polish parents. His parents returned to Poland just two years before World War II began. Both were later taken to concentration camps; where his mother later died.
It was three years later that Polanski was arrested for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl. Polanski agreed to a plea deal that spared him incarceration. The deal saw him spend about 45 days in jail during a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. But fearing that the judge might not honour the deal and sentence a 50-year jail stint, Polanski fled to France. It was, in his opinion, far too long of a sentence. “I’ve been tortured by this for a year and that’s enough” he told a BBC reporter in the year he fled.
“Does artist triumph rapist?” “I don’t blame myself. You see, Mr. Gitts, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of ANYTHING.”
Polanski has protested his victim’s claims that the sex was not consensual. Polanski stated that he did not drug Geimer, that she “wasn’t unresponsive” and didn’t respond negatively when he inquired as to whether or not she was enjoying what he was doing. The thing that leaves me baffled about this case is the subsequent ‘excusing’ of Polanski’s crimes. Does artist triumph rapist? This is the kind of thing that knocks down any kind of mountain of belief you’ve maintained in humanity. Since his arrest there has been mass-outcry from scores of Hollywood’s big players. Many of his fellow directors signed a petition that demanded “the immediate release of Roman Polanski.” The names; Woody Allen, Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson and Sam Mendes, amongst many others, can be found on the petition.
Whoopi Goldberg also got herself into a bit of controversy after some careless comments on American talk-show, ‘The View.’ She didn’t actually sign the petition or claim to support Polanski in any way, but she did state that what he did wasn’t “rape-rape.” Rape-rape must be when you know the victim, not the person responsible. Why would these people sign? Surely they can’t actually support rape, however scornfully the media may claim they do. Perhaps they are thinking of their own private wrong-doings. No one is perfect, especially in Hollywood. However, don’t lose all faith in Hollywood. California Governor and all-around mortal legend, Arnold Schwarzenegger, said; “I think that he is a respected person and I am a big admirer of his work. But, nevertheless, I think he should be treated like everyone else. It doesn’t matter if you are a big-time movie actor or a big-time movie director or producer.” Polanski isn’t short of support in his chosencountry-of-exile, France, either. As he is a French citizen, the French authorities have long refused to return him to the U.S. for sentencing. French culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, called Mr. Polanski’s arrest “absolutely dreadful” and that it made no sense for him to be “thrown to the lions for an ancient story.” French director, Jan Kounen pulled his film ‘Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky’ from the Zurich Film Festival in disapproval of Polanski’s arrest. Vincent Maraval, a producer of the film,
said, “We’re disgusted by the hypocrisy of the Swiss authorities. They shelter all kinds of thieves under banking secrecy and they sell out a film master.” It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened, how much of an ‘outstanding director’ Polanski is, how old the charges are, or how many film festivals or academies think Polanski is above the law. He’s not. Is he misunderstood? I understand that he raped a child. Polanski announced that he intends to appeal extradition to the U.S and hired lawyer, Lorenz Erni, to represent him. On the 6th of October, his initial request for bail was refused as he was considered a high risk of flight. As a result of Polanski fleeing the court prior to his sentencing, all six of the original charges are still pending against him. I’ll end on this extraordinary quote, found by a Telegraph blogger from an interview Polanski gave to novelist, Martin Amis, in 1979. “If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls. Everyone wants to fuck young girls!” Really? I don’t. In fact, I asked around. I have no qualms in saying that the absolute majority were on my side here. However, Hollywood seems to be in a world of its own right now. A world far separated from our humble habitat; reality. ____________________ By Nicola Byrne
Them Crooked Vultures
iffy Clyro reached the big time with 2007’s, 250,000 selling, Puzzle. Now with new album Only Revolutions, they want to stay there. Considering that nearly a quarter of the album, was released in advance (in the form of an EP and singles), Biffy’s marketing machine has gone into overdrive to make people want this album before it hits the shops. The songs released in advance are possibly some of the band’s finest music. “Mountains” finds singer Simon Johnston in a wistful voice. “That Golden Rule” is possibly the album’s best song. It is fast, frenetic and everything one comes to expect from Biffy. It mixes the band’s previous tendencies of noise and melody; with their newer approach of grandness and pomposity, hence the orchestra playing in tandem with the band. Opener, “The Captain” is the only pre-released song that runs out of steam. Its Muse-esque leanings and pop-sensibilities are at odds with the Biffy “sound”
When they first came onto the music scene, their “sound” was rough, raw and edgy. The Scottish threesome were classed with other noizeniks like Hell Is For Heroes and Hundred Reasons. Soon, they would leave these bands in the dust. Their original “sound” can be found on the Blackened Sky and Infinity Land albums. The mashing of hard rock tendencies, fast riffs and strained vocals with unexpected tempo changes and beautiful harmonies worked well. With Puzzle and Only Revolutions the band has become more refined and more ambitious. This is not a bad thing, but for fans of early Biffy Clyro it may be unexpected. The rest of Only Revolutions is exquisite. The band has improved on their previous efforts in everyway possible. Queens of the Stone Age front man, Josh Homme, and his helping hand can be found on another album standout “Bubbles”. It motors along delightfully with a
fantastic sing-along chorus. Elsewhere, “Many Of Horror” is soon to become a gig staple. It is a lighter-in-the-air song in waiting. “Born On A Horse” finds the trademark Biffy quirkiness surviving, ‘I’ve never had a lover that was my sister or brother before’, being a particularly memorable lyric. The only disappointment comes in “Know Your Quarry”. It is slow, plodding and quite dull. It lacks the energy and passion found elsewhere on the album. Only Revolutions is a continuation on of Biffy Clyro’s march to global musical stardom. It finds the band hitting a level of refinement and polish lacking from previous efforts and will blast the band into the mainstream consciousness. _________________ David Claxton
Lady Gaga Alter Ego
ady Gaga unveils her dark side as she releases her eagerly anticipated follow up to her multi-million selling debut album entitled ‘The Fame: Monster’. The CD contains eight entirely new songs marking the start of a new direction for the megastar.
Previous album ‘The Fame’ notched up four hit singles including Just Dance and Poker Face (which has been certified the most downloaded song in the history of the UK singles chart) and sold just over 4 million copies worldwide. Not half bad for the artist who was an unknown a year ago. A lot of you must be thinking that the rerelease in question is just a cash-in of The Fame with a few tracks added on at the end. Instead, this is a collection of songs in its own right. You’ll be buying a new album which just so happens to have a copy of The Fame in the same box. Lyrically, sonically, melodically and conceptually it’s right up there with its
predecessor The Fame, with a definite feel of things moving in a new direction. First up is lead single ‘Bad Romance.’ It is a dark mid-tempo song with a catchy chorus that fits right in with the whole ‘Monster’ theme of the album. Next is ‘Alejandro.’ Gaga seems to pay homage to Madonna with this modern version of ‘La Isla Bonita.’ It has a definite Spanish feel to in terms of the lyrics and music. We then have ‘Monster’ .This one has dark lyrics, plenty of sexual innuendos and is almost irritatingly catchy. ‘So Happy I Could Die’ follows. It is a mid-tempo number with some Tiesto-esque bits thrown in.
It’s going to be huge for her. Finishing off we have the brilliant ‘Dance in the Dark’ with the super chorus and the Madonna ‘Vogue’ style rap thrown in the middle. Closer, ‘Teeth.’ hints at the new direction for the third album. This album is a worthy follow up, with at least four potential singles, some elements of the songs don’t work at times but there are no real filler tracks here. She’s here to stay it seems. As the good lady herself said: “A good pop chorus never killed anyone.” __________________ Jenny Mc’Shane
hen you get the collective creative geniuses of Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and John-Paul Jones into one band, you know you’re onto a good thing. In the past both Homme and Grohl had made no secret of their admiration for Jones and the mighty Led Zep. The thoughts of all three coming together to actually make music, seemed pure fantasy, well not any more kids. What do you get when you combine 1 part Queens of the Stone Age & Kyuss, 1 part Nirvana & Foo Fighters and mix in 1 part Led Zeppelin, you get the amazing Them Crooked Vultures. A group that previously could be only described as a hard rock fan’s wet dream, has actually come to be. The term supergroup often get’s banded around the music world, but for once this title is completely apt. The collaboration between the three has been on the cards since 2005, when Dave Grohl in an interview with Mojo magazine, declared "The next project that I'm trying to initiate involves me on drums, Josh Homme on guitar, and John Paul Jones playing bass. That’s the next album. That wouldn’t suck.” So the only question remaining is who would be singing. Speculation runs rampant, but nothing has been confirmed yet. In a recent interview with Homme’s wife, Brody Dalle of Spinnerette, shared her opinion: “I’m not at liberty to talk about it… but I think [the project] is pretty ****ing amazing. Just beats and sounds like you’ve never heard before.” Since their live debut at the Metro, Chicago on August 9, 2009. Their songs have been slowly popping up all
over the internet, especially on You Tube. Most of the videos on You Tube are of them playing in a live setting. Songs like Elephants, Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I, Mind Eraser (No Chaser), Scumbag Blues, Dead End Friends etc., confirm one thing TCV are here to rock and rock bloody hard. Just seeing Grohl behind a drum kit again beating the hell outta the skins as only he can, all failing arms and tattoos, is amazing. Homme stalking and crooning into the microphone with his intimidating presence, never missing a note. JPJ obviously psychically a pale shadow of his former self, is still a joy to behold, anchoring down the rhythm section, with his inimitable nodding noodling style of bass playing. One thing that strikes you immediately watching these videos is how ’tight’ the band are, it looks like they’ve been playing together for years, not months. If those three together wasn’t enough QOTSA guitarist Alain Johannes is the ‘4th’ live member, adding even more muscle to TCV’s live shows. The self-titled alum will be released in Ireland on the 14th of November. The only official release from the band has been the single New Fang. Which was premiered on October 26th., the song is a throwback power trio, full of swampy riffs, doomsday vocals and lots and lots of volume. On September 1, the band announced two 2009 tours of North America and the United Kingdom, in October and December respectively .The tour will be titled Deserve the Future Tour and the UK leg sold out in
just under 12 minutes, making it one of the quickest sold tours in the UK - without the band even officially releasing a song to date. Unfortunately there will be no Irish date on the tour. Whether or not TCV will be the so called ‘saviours of rock’ remains to be seen, either way people really shouldn’t care less. The vultures are here to show you a good hard rocking time,
turn it up to 11 sit back and enjoy the ride. http://www.themcrookedvultures.com/ http://www.myspace.com/ crookedvultures http://www.facebook.com/ crookedvultures
_________________ David Murphy
The biggest surprise on this album is the Ron Fair produced, power balled ‘Speechless’ written by Gaga herself about her father’s heart condition. It doesn’t sound anything like the stuff we’ve heard from her before.
culture entertainment | |
“laughing at the bad special effects, dodgy afros, mullets and tight shiny trousers that gave such life to the musical movement”
We blew it.. S
o I’m standing in the O2 on a Sunday night, and I’m one of the small minority that may get IDed at the bar. Fleetwood Mac are headlining and the crowd are probably old enough to feel a tinge of nostalgia while watching Jurassic Park. “Rockstars have kidnapped my son.” The infamous words of Elaine Miller in Cameron Crowe’s ‘Almost Famous.’ And they had. Real rockstars, complete with long unwashed hair, magnum moustaches and loose patterned-shirts. Of course, as evident in this movie, we’re not the first generation to be told the music we listen to is shite. Bang out a hit on the dance floor, I’ll probably like it. My Dad probably won’t. Will my future children? Lets look at the topicality of songs today. Heartbreak is a huge theme, as is ‘being an emo shit-head.’ But some people, well, they just go a little deeper. Take Pitbull’s hit, it goes a little something like; “I know you want me, you know I want you (x10).” Very presumptuous. A few decades ago, we would have gotten a more delicate; “You may be interested in me, so I’ll write some beautiful lyrics to try to convince you.” Is this a bad thing? Or will that song be lashed out in a space-age nightclub come 2030, a lá Wham! and Journey? What is it about a certain band or solo artist that defies all generation-boundaries in the first place? Madonna, Michael Jackson and The Beatles knocked that shit down like the Berlin Wall. Only the other day I overheard a neighbour’s thirteen-year-old son singing along to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Trampled Underfoot.’ Is it just an illusion that our generation doesn’t appreciate or listen to bands that could be found in our parents record-players at
our ages? And will they continue to be found on our children’s iPods? Looking to popular opinion, it seems a modern day Mick Jagger is pretty much Pete Wentz or Joe Jonas. Fashion changes, music has to keep up. I know plenty of youthful Fleetwood Mac fans, but will our children feel the same way about Girls Aloud when they’re grannies? Let’s be honest, I’d only go to their gig to envy their outfits. How many solid, resilient artists is our generation actually producing? Will the magic still be there when looks have faded and the puppeteers have packed it in? Only time will tell, as it has done to this very second. I mean, I’m familiar with, and a fan of, many bands dating back until around 1960 at the absolute furthest. Before that? Aside from the giants, Bing, Cash, Elvis and the like, I have images of a caveman banging a stick on some stone drums. Not the case, I know. But they had an expiration date in pop-culture. So why could I name three guys just there that you’ll probably be familiar with, but not the others. They must have done something different. Singers churned out by reality programmes such as the X Factor now dominate the charts come Christmas time, or in the weeks following a debut album release. Fair enough, they can sing, stimulate millions of pounds profit in phone-voting and lets not lie to ourselves, can be very entertaining in a ‘lets get a takeaway and put our minds aside’ kinda way. But can the legacy really last as well as whole-hearty rock bands of our parent’s time. Heard Eoghan Quigg’s new song? No, neither have I.
Being a young seed in the O2’s garden of ‘matured foliage’, I began to wonder about the longevity of the likes of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Stevie doesn’t have the most versatile vocal range by any stretch of the imagination, but it works. If she were on the X Factor I’d shiver to think of the brass “you suck” (or some variation) Mr. Cowell would dismiss her with. It’s all about pitch-perfect vocals, correct lighting, styling and ‘the right song’. When Simon slams a fellow judge for a bad song choice, what’s the point? It’s glamaraoke. This talented songwriter didn’t intend for you to sing this in order to obtain votes. John and Edward, best act, hands down. At least they can be featured for decades to come on Channel 4’s ‘Top 100 Novelty Singles’ along with likeminded peers, Bob the Builder and Crazy Frog. It was all crystal clear when we were treated to a hint of repulsion in the voice of Clive Davis and Whitney Houston upon hearing that little Scottish Rikki Looney was about to perform Otis Redding’s ‘Respect.’ It was a joke. Singer’s are exactly that; singers. Artists get that one step deeper, to write a melody, personalise their lyrics, have a helping hand in production. Some of the best artists are the ones who are not afraid to say what’s on their mind or release their inner demons. Possibly why Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little
Pill” album was so successful. Feeling shit and have no hope? Turn them into hits. The loss of Michael Jackson was met with genuine sorrow from all ages and all corners of the world. A true legend, his songs touched the lives of millions and have no evident expiry date. Watch his videos in a row and it’s as entertaining as a movie. How many of you remember Aha’s ‘Take on me video’, Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, or a personal favourite of mine, Go West’s ‘We Close Our Eyes’? What about the Sugababes’ last one? I fear the flash and blatant emphasis on glamour will fail to make an impact on the children of 2040. Part of the fun of discovering music of the past decades, is watching old concerts or music videos, and laughing at the bad special effects, dodgy afros, mullets and tight shiny trousers that gave such life to the musical movement of that particular time. The Woodstock stoners, Live Aid’s baggy shirts and manperms, the immaculate suits of mow town, the fedora hats and adidas shell-toes of 1980’s hip-hop. What will our identity be? It’s one of those questions. Like you can’t ever imagine your Mum thinking her patchwork man-shirt and baggy leggings with the foot-elastic was ever fashionable. But she did. Just like how we think everything we are wearing right now can never possibly be considered ‘ugly’.
Although, one thing that stands out for me the most when it comes to, lets be politically correct here, ‘old bands’, is the lack of spectaculars on stage. This, by no means, manages to take away from the allure of the band, yet is something most pop bands require these days. Your concertgoing experience is not complete until a studly-looking man comes falling from the sky in a harness while serenading those below him. Fleetwood Mac didn’t even try. No flashy stage, no flashy outfits. I think Nicks changed her witchy enigmatic-robe once, from the colour black to a sangria. The lads wore flat-caps, almost begging for reference to their age. Mick Fleetwood wouldn’t look out of place if you replaced his drum kit with a sensible orthopaedic chair and shoved a pipe in his mouth. Lindsey Buckingham hit a guitar in ways only matched these days by the likes of Matt Belamy of Muse. I was exhausted just looking at him. It was clear for even the freshest of eyes that this man has talent and a passion for music; his music. No lighting in the world could portray that. Which leads me to a teen favourite, ‘male vocal groups.’ The Begees were considered a boy-band of their time, and now have a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Can the Jonas Brothers match this fate? Take That, Westlife, or even, East 17?
I caught them at NUI Maynooth’s Christmas Ball a couple of years back. I adore the fact that they considered a reunion to be both necessary and relevant. The crowd hovered around the bar until ‘Stay Another Day.’ Ask anyone, and they had ‘won’ or ‘found’ their tickets. Highlights included the release of foam snowflakes during ‘Stay Another Day’ and subsequently catching said snowflakes in empty beer glasses. “I’m not nearly drunk enough to find this good yet!” exclaimed one reveller. OK they had an enjoyable song, but my kids are not going to want to see them live. Springsteen, Madonna and The Eagles, amongst many others, all recently toured again to great critical acclaim. The Spice Girls, well, at least they toured. So what CD’s will my children be stealing from me in the future? Hopefully still the likes of Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Elton John, Jacko, the Beatles, and I’ll stretch to Radiohead. From our generation though? Well definitely not U2, I wouldn’t dare leave one of their CD’s lying around. As for my lovely Saturday night pop-songs, well why not. Morrissey said, “hang the DJ because the music that he constantly plays, says nothing to me about my life.” Or you could just, you know, dance. By Nicola Byrne
Jaws in space...
to produce anxiety between some of the cast members, particularly towards the less-experienced Weaver - it translated convincingly onto film. The cast improvised a huge majority of the scenes. Scott was not known as an actor’s director and this added to the already edgy atmosphere. Weaver left the set in tears at one point as a result of Scott losing his temper at her. Even though Scott admits the prosthetics weren’t great in those days - the majority of the scenes special effects were done live on camera – including the now famous chest-bursting scene. The rumour the entire cast bar John Hurt didn’t know what would happen during the scene is partly true. They were told a basic outline of the scene but no specifics. All the reactions are genuine, Veronica Cartwright, for example, did not know she would be sprayed with blood and went hysterical, it’s right there in the movie.
By Jenny McShane
“What I wanted was a hardcore reaction,” says Scott. “If the actor is simply acting you won’t get the genuine reaction of raw fear.” He certainly got it in the end!
t’s now 30 years since Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ first aired. Jenny McShane examines the film’s origins and the thinking behind the creation of the greatest science fiction film of all time. When ‘Alien’ first hit the theatres on May 25th 1979, no one could possibly have foreseen the impact it would have on popular culture. Screen writers Dan O’Bannon and Ron Shusett had written what was considered an average B–movie script called ‘Star Beast’ with one key idea: an alien incubating within a human. The story is simple enough - Spaceship Nostromo and its crew are on a return trip to earth when they receive an unknown transmission. Following investigations, an alien form attaches itself and breeds through one of the crew members, and escapes onto the ship. Then all hell breaks loose. It is a simple, yet hugely effective concept. The original script was stripped bare when put into the hands of Fox producers Walter Hill and David Giler. After many re-writes, the cheesy moments were removed along with clichés that would have written the film off as just another average sci-fi movie. The central idea was still there, and this is what attracted director Ridley Scott to the project. Scott was the last director to be approached in taking hold of the project. Both scriptwriters and numerous other directors were asked but Bannon, who was a fan of Scott’s first film ‘The Dualists’, felt he was the one who would unearth the script’s full potential. ‘Alien’ was given the green light by 20th Century Fox at an initial budget of $4.2 million. Scott then created detailed storyboards (known after as his infamous ‘Ridleygrams’) for the film in London. It impressed Fox so much, they doubled the film’s budget from $4.2 million. The biggest issue for the filmmakers was getting the design
of the extra-terrestrial right. Bannon introduced Scott to the artwork of conceptual artist H. R. Giger. After much initial reluctance from the studio, Giger was hired to work on all aspects of the alien and its environment. “Once I met with Giger, I knew the biggest problem in the film had been solved,” says Scott. With design and production underway, next came the issue of casting. There was only seven human characters in the story, so Scott sought to hire strong actors in order to focus most of his energy on the film’s visual style. It starred Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, and Yaphet Kotto. It was eventually decided that a woman would play Ellen Ripley, the film’s protagonist. It would make a star of Weaver (she was a virtual unknown at the time of filming) by securing her iconic status in Hollywood. Scott says he had a striking woman in mind prior to filming: “I wanted a good physical type, preferably tall. With authority and brains.” That was Weaver. Despite the years passing, time does not seem to have aged her much. She is still unmistakably Ripley: beautiful, tough and smart. But weaver insists it was the character that had done all the work. “Ripley is much bigger than what I brought to it,” Weaver says modestly. “I’m grateful. She’s an iconic character.” With the first few hurdles overcome, it was time to start filming. ‘Alien’ was shot over fourteen weeks from July 5 to October 21, 1978. Production time was short due to the film’s low budget and pressure from 20th Century Fox to finish on schedule. This combined with the huge design element of the film meant the creation of tensions on all sides were inevitable. To assist the actors in preparing for their roles, Scott wrote several pages of back-story for each character explaining their histories. He filmed many of their rehearsals in order to capture spontaneity and improvisation. Also
Cut to the second test screening in 1979 in Dallas. Everyone remains in their seats until Hurt’s chests bursts open and according to the film’s producer, people actually “ran out of the theatre”. The filmmakers considered the screening a huge success. Myth may have embellished truth but stories ran wild of people keeling over, fighting for seats near the back of the theatre and how one unfortunate person tripped while running out and broke his arm. Part of the success in creating the film’s atmosphere is the slow build up to the action starting; it’s 45 minutes in before anything grizzly happens. So if told you were about to see a new sci-fi movie, a huge shock lay in store. Word of mouth got around, mixed with good critical reviews, as moviegoers flocked to see the film. ‘Alien’ grossed an impressive (for the time) $3.5 million in its opening weekend, resulting in a phenomenal $38,709 per screen average. Influenced by good reviews and capacity-filled screenings, Fox expanded the release of the film two weeks later on June 8, and by June 22, the film was playing on over 500 screens throughout the US and Canada. After several months in release, ‘Alien’ concluded its North American release with a cumulative box office gross of over $75 million. Not bad for an R-rated film and 1979 ticket prices. The film was a commercial success, its total worldwide gross coming to $104,931,801. The film is now synonymous in the science fiction genre and has become one of the biggest selling movie franchises of all time. It has topped numerous film polls branding it the scariest movie of all time. The sequels just keep on coming. Alien followed with two very successful sequels and then came the more unfortunate Alien Vs Predator films. All this aside, the original remains the best out of the trilogy. Fans of Scott’s film can look forward to the next instalment in the series, as he will be directing the as yet untitled ‘Alien 5’. Scheduled for an early 2011 release, all we know to date is that it will be a prequel to Alien, featuring a new cast. If anything like its predecessor, it will certainly be worth the wait.
when she was 14, pregnant. She had been multiply raped by the Lords resistance army and we met her when she had just managed to escape. She had lost her childhood, had never been to school, been shot twice, raped and so had this war lord child. No man would ever touch her from then, she would never be married ad she’ll always live on the outskirts. And I sat there interviewing her, and your looking at her and she looks like she’s 28years old, and she’s 14. And it’s times like that just destroy you, and it just breaks your heart you have to leave someone like that behind, but hopefully in the safe knowledge there are people like UNICEF (The charity that sponsors all the trips) there to help. What was your greatest trip to date?
From Indonesia to Papua New Guinea..
harlie Boorman: Mainly know for his hugely popular Motorcycle-travel series ‘LongWayRound’ and its sequels, the Irish TV adventurer, writer and former actor sat down with us to share some interesting stories from his travels, working with Actor EwanMcGregor and his fear of camping.. Tell us how the whole motorcycle -TV series first came about? Well I suppose the motorbike thing is very fun and Ewan and I have been passionate about Bicycles, we met about 14 years ago now, on a film called ‘The Serpants Kiss’ which I’m sure you’ve seen? You know it was one of those films that didn’t even go to DVD because they didn’t think it was worth the money! And we had all sorts of stuff with bikes and then we started talking about doing a trip ourselves and we spoke about it for a couple of years and eventually decided to do something about it and finally got our shit together when I released I didn’t have the money really to leave for 4 and a half month’s with 2 kids and a wife, and a mortgage so someone suggested about a book. And the book deal came quite easily for us but it was the TV deal that was the tough one, I remember going to America to the tv stations and saying this is what it’s going to be like and they were like I get all that but who get svoted off? Or if someone
falls off theor motorocycle more than the other do they get their motorcycle crushed at the end of it, and we’re going like “Nooo, that’s not that point!” You have a very good friendship with Ewan, what’s it like travelling with someone for so long that you almost end up killing them? Out of the film we did together came a great friendship and a passion for motorbikes and we did all sorts of stuff together before the TV series but of course it does get wearing and I mean when your travelling together all the time like Ewan and I were, and not just Ewan but Claudio, Russ and Dave and the others, it can get tough but at least we were on the motorbikes and you could put the helmet on if the other guy was pissed at you could go off and just scream it I your helmet and he’d never know unless you had your finger on the walkie talkie, which occasionally did happen! You had a lot of time to yourself during your travels with being on the motorcycles for so long, you obviously enjoyed that aspect of things? I think because your on the motorbike on your own, one of the great things about riding motor bikes is that you have the time to yourself and especially on a trip like this. I
remember I lost my sister to cancer not long before I did ‘Long way round’ my wife and I had a kid just as my sister died and so we had another kid straight after that so we were busy and I never really had that much time to grieve for my sister so I remember when we did a long way round, and being on the motorbike and spending all that time on the motorbike, I mean all sorts of things come to mind, because you’ve got plenty of time to think. My sister kept popping into my head all the time and it was a great way to be able to sit and have a bit of a cry for my sister and think about her, and to always just have her sitting on my shoulder laughing at me like she always did, hahs, with that funny little cackle, I definitely felt her being around and you do think of all sorts of other stuff riding the motorbike. Papa new Guniu must have been a challenge; it’s supposed to be an incredibly difficult country especially going up land. Tell us a bit about your travels there? Yeah Papa New Guniu’s and amazing place I think after we done ‘By any Means’ and had gone all the way down through from Ireland to Sydney you know I kind of was desperate to do the pacific rim and I had always wanted to go to Papa New Guini, and you know you
hear all these stories abut places, (sinister voice) Papa new Guniu and they eat people and the big cooking pots and all that kind of stuff. But my experience now is that all the places we’ve been to, that those stories are never true. Like most places in Africa, Papa New Gunin all these places we’ve been it’s just been wonderful and the people we’ve met have been fantastic and hospitable. So getting there was fascinating but it’s quite a tricky place to get food because it’s very underdeveloped, it’s very tough to get around. One thing I’ll never forget is that the guys on the other side had gotten completely drunk and were teasing the guys on our side and they were screaming and shouting and one another, and trying to throw rocks and each other and then big Machete’s were coming out and I remember the truck driver telling me: “I think you better pick up a rock at this point because I think their going to attack us.” And I remember casually just just going arching down to get a rock! it’s a dodgy, beautiful place though. I believe your a very reluctant camper? I was a very reluctant camper in the beginning and I did everything possible not to camp at all. And eventually we had to camp and I had no choice and I was so
petrified I made Ewan and Claudio ride back three miles a the side of the road and miles out to nowhere. But I’ll never forget it, we were putting up the tent and I was so consumed by that, and the though of having to camp, and I remember putting the tent up and looking over at the lake, the sun was just setting and it turned the whole Russian steps we were sitting on and the lake, pink. And there was the most incredible thing I had seen and I just thought, Oh my God this is why people camp. I though it was quite weird in the long way down ( the re-edited version) when Ewans wife joined you… Yeah well I have to admit I felt like a third wheel. And I hadn’t had sex in aaaages. The song ‘All by myself ‘comes to mind. At first I was a bit shocked but I think Eve really just wanted to see what the passion was and why you wanted to do it. It was a huge goal for her to come out to Africa, to learn to ride a motorbike and to go camping which is something she never really did before. I think for it was huge and it was for a short period of time, I really enjoy Eve’s Company and I think it definitely gave something else to the tv show. What the hardest thing you experienced while you were travelling? Apart from missing the family, I remember we met this one little girl Sarah, who was seven when she was taken and she escaped
It’s very difficult to say, because they’ve all been very different. The Dacar rally is one I’m most proud off. I think even to get to the start line was a massive achievement. The journey getting there was just so hard and just the logistics, the training. I broke loads of bones getting bike fit for it and we finally got their. And once you get to the frontline you’re already a winner and everyday after that is a gift. When your kids are older, would you let them do something like this? Absolutely, I think everybody should do it. There should be a government policy that all children should be given at a certain age to go to somewhere third world to work on a project. I think it’s vital that young people get out. But I think children today have everything, telephones computers, it’s all very easy, but to go there and see a contemporary child in the slums of Nairobi would put things into perspective. When are doing your next outing? I’m in talks with the bbc at the moment. It’s one of those things where you know you do all these things but your completely at the mercy of the people watching it and ratings. So every time you do it your just back to square one, just waiting. It’s like the show on BBC 2 Sunday night 9 oclock, and even if you don’t watch it because you can buy the dvd later, on the 16th - just in time for Christmas, haha. Hopefully there’s going to be something next. We’ll wait and see. ____________ By Jenny McShane & Brendan Kildea.
Bolt to the Future by Shane Quinn
he 23-year-old record breaker has gone a huge distance in lifting a sport that was threatening to go under due to extensive drug abuse. Usain Bolt is in need of a much-needed rest after recording the most successful sprinting season in the sport’s history. The “human lighting bolt” beat his own world 100m record with a 9.58 second sprint at the Berlin championships in August. He also trumped his previous 200m world-record of 19.38, by notching an incredible 19.19 in the same event.
“Bolt’s races at the world championships need to be re-run and viewed in slow motion..”
Not since the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, has the world seen a line-up as impressive as the one that took to the starting blocks in the German capital. Tyson Gay held the two fastest times this year coming into the race; Usain Bolt held the world record; Dwain Chambers was staging a welcome comeback and wanted to make a statement; and Asafa Powell was, well, Asafa Powell. Blink and you’d miss it. Bolt’s sprinting at the world championships needed to be replayed in slow motion to truly appreciate the full power of the runner. He finished the race with only 48 strides, whilst Gay trailed behind needing over 140 paces. While people were quick to commend Bolt for his record-breaking speed, many were riddled with suspicion, as if his performances were to good to be true. The Americans couldn’t find the secret to Bolt’s success, no drugs were found in his system, yet the critics still questioned him. When asked about his diet, he told the press he ate a lot “of yams”, so that is it, case closed. If Gay really wants to outrun Bolt in the London Olympics in 2012 he better start scoffing those yams.
“There have been numerous attempts to find drug abuse in Bolt” The question on people’s minds is will Gay be able to live up to his recent claim and take out Bolt in the 2012 Olympics. The chances seem low considering all that Bolt has achieved in the past two years, added to Gay being four years than his rival.
“He told the press he ate a lot ‘of yams’” Sceptics believe Bolt has an unfair advantage over Gay due to his long legs and wide frame. An athlete’s ability lies more in their mental sharpness, genetic ability, leg power, technique and numerous other factors. The Jamaican’s advantage lies in his muscle twitch cells. The secret to his lighting limb movements is in the ability of his muscle fibres, allowing his arms and legs to move at quicker speeds than an average athlete.
Bolt’s real secret is that he hits the ground with greater force than others. If Tyson wants to outrun Gay, he needs to pound that surface harder, but it may be impossible for him. Still, Gay’s effort in Shanghai of equalling Bolt’s first 100m record in Beijing of 9.69 seconds has shown early signs of him catching up. So far there have been numerous attempts to find drug abuse in Bolt and with nothing coming back positive. We can appreciate this scepticism comes at a time when athletics has suffered a long history of discredited world records since the 1980s due to extensive substance abuse. The media got the right reply from Bolt recently. After his performance in Berlin Bolt explained to an American interviewer in relation to the sceptics: “I don’t care, because I know I’m healthy, I’m clean, I‘ve done tests, I’ve done so many tests I’ve lost count.” Bolt was born and raised in the poverty stricken area of Trelawny Parish in the
Jamaican countryside, where children gather at the village tap to collect water. An old woman living in the village said of Bolt: “His three gold medals [in the Beijing Olympics] brought us running water. Now we are praying for another gold medal to fix up the roads!” Detractors will attempt to continuously defame Bolt, in a bid to forward spurious claims of unfair advantage. It is all begrudging nonsense. The fact remains, all he takes “are yams”.
Pat Gilroy will be around for a little while longer. By Mark Corcoran
he end of the 2011 championship at least to be slightly less vague. After the Kerry mauling many people, including myself, thought that might have been the end of the big man. How we were wrong. Not only have the powers that be decided to stick by their man, they have decided to offer him a further 1 year on his contract which Gilroy of course accepted.
www.reservoirdubs.com is the place to go to vent your fury or exclaim your joy at all things Dublin. It is always interesting to see various topics, results and rumours discussed on the forums. All done with the unique humour of the Dub. Through last years car crash of a season there were many murmurs of discontent at the management set up. These were easy to dismiss when the team was wining but not so when all the worst nightmares of Dublin fans came through from about 30 seconds into the All Ireland quarter final against the kingdom. The aftertaste of that game left Dublin fans feeling as comfortable as a passenger on a Ryanair flight to hell. The humour had gone and the feeling of resignation was palpable. The message boards had started picking through the wreckage looking for ways that maybe Dublin could improve for next year. But for the first time in many years the conversation was rarely about how the Dubs were going to win their first All Ireland since 1995, it was damage limitation talk. Suddenly the talk of the Dubs being better off in the qualifiers cessed. Suddenly the talk over inches turned to talk of miles. Suddenly the Leinster championship didn’t look such a bad prize after all. So when Gilroy agreed the new contract extension all hell broke loose on the ResDubs forums. It was beyond funny. It was difficult to find one person happy with the decision. The best he got was fans saying
it was a done deal now and that all there was to do was row in behind the team. Now I admit that I was open to the idea of Gilroy and Whelan being a success when they first took the job despite many facts pointing to disaster. The thinking was that Gilroy’s inexperience, and Whelan’s first poor spell would be counter acted by their hunger and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, Gilroy does look the new Staunton. So why keep him. Was it the improvement that he promised? The All Ireland final in his first year that he all but guaranteed? Hardly, what he delivered was a worse defeat and humiliation in the championship then the year before and a total disregard of the league and O’Byrne cup. All the signs are that he has lost the dressing room. Not picking Ciaran Whelan or Shane Ryan (an All Star from the previous year) got up the fans noses but there are many more issues. Leaving Bryan Cullen in the cold, throwing Cian O’Sullivan into the deep end against Kerry, dropping Paddy Andrews and Alan Hubbard after one game of the championship despite picking them consistently throughout the league, cutting Mark Vaughen from the panel, playing Rory O’Carroll despite knowing he couldn’t possibly be the answer to Dublin’s defence problems as he was going travelling, the list goes on and on.
“the public aren’t buying it anymore, simply because Gilroy doesn’t have a plan. There is no grand scheme of things, no light at the end of the tunnel.”
The reasons behind the extension are obvious. Gilroy and Whelan are Vincent’s men. The Godfather of Dublin football, Kevin Heffernan (also a Vincnets man) holds a massive influence on the Dublin county board. Gilroy also includes Heffernan as a personal friend. The hat drops and the contract is extended. Gilroy didn’t even need to convince Heffernan that he has a plan although this is the line he continues to sell to the public. But the public aren’t buying it anymore, simply because Gilroy doesn’t have a plan. There is no grand scheme of things, no light at the end of the tunnel. How could there be when major players are walking and very little is coming through to replace them. What the players think of the contract extension is obvious. Shane Ryan has gone to the hurlers, don’t be surprised if Conal Keeney or Diarmuid Connolly go too and Ciaran Whelan has retired. There is a real
sense that this team is a sinking ship and these players are the preverbal rats. The real travesty at the time of writing this is that Anthony Daly, manger of the hurlers, who actually had a decent season by all accounts, has not been offered a new contract extension and could easily be snapped up by one of the stronger hurling counties. If you have to question the work of Daly ask yourself when was the last time more Dublin hurlers won All Stars then footballers. Gilroy has announced that he will be holding trails for new hopefuls (similar to last year). His first competitive match will be against Wexford in the O’Byrne cup in Januray. Once again the circus will start up again in preparation for championship opener, again against the model county, although the team are unlikely to carry the same hope and eagerness from the fans as years gone by. It is likely to be another bandwagon with
square wheels, stuttering and staggering along until ultimate failure. Remember this is a team that has failed to beat a real title contender in championship football in almost fifteen years. So I will finish this article the way I always finish while writing about Dublin; roll on the champo, I will be watching through the gaps in my fingers.
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