Tag Archives: The Guardian

This morning’s The Guardian

Luke Brennan writes:

If you click on the headline above that says “US scientists believe virus is mutating, becoming more contagious“….

…you click through to a page with the subhead that states “Experts believe virus is probably more contagious“…

Then in the article body it states:

“The study did not find that mutations of the virus have made it more lethal or changed its effects, even as it may be becoming easier to catch”…

The article it links through to on The Washington Post is a good one, giving an intelligent balanced perspective on the immunologist perspective on the evolution of the virus.

The lowdown is this, viruses always mutate, the first half of the Guardian headline “US scientists believe virus is mutating” is like saying “US scientists believe rain is falling”. It is a characteristic part of its being.

It saddens me, as someone who studied science, to see this sort of headline. At the heart of science is a search for truth and the honest appraisal of relationships between things to help us learn and progress.

The Washington Port article is an excellent example of this. It starts with a simple premise, there are two strains of the virus that were prevalent in a test study, a “D” and a “G” version.They found that the virus was 71% G in the first wave, 99.9% G in the second wave. So G is more prevalent. The study states simply that.

Then there are interpretations of this data, by two scientists…

… one David Morens, had this (above) to say.

The article is then balanced by another perspective, that of Kristian Andersen (above):

You can see here that no-one is looking for a “Gotcha” moment here, the facts of the study is detailed, views are expressed, accepting that there are multiple interpretations. The article finishes up by a lament that more studies of these types are not carried out, that more data is available.

The key point of the article is this, if a record is kept of the sequencing, we can anticipate what the virus will do next. As Musser said in the last quote in the article “I think it is shameful that we are not doing that“.

Does that study, and the interpretation of it in the WP deserve to be summed up with a B – movie plotline? “US scientists believe virus is mutating, becoming more contagious”.

I’m sure it gets the clicks, but the first part is self-evident and connecting it to the second is to live on very thin moral gravy.

Previously: Luke Brennan on Broadsheet

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

The Silent People by Walter Macken

The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien

The Broadsheet Book Of Unspecified Things That Look Like Ireland edited by Aidan Coughlan

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

The Green Road by Anne Enright

Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

Normal People by Sally Rooney

The Sea by John Banville


10 of the best books set in Ireland – that will take you there (The Guardian)


Rodney Edwards, deputy editor of the Impartial Reporter, in today’s Guardian newspaper

Roy Greenslade, in The Guardian, writes:

“…in March this year, a middle-aged man walked into the office of the Impartial Reporter, the Enniskillen-based paper that serves the people of Fermanagh and other border counties in Northern Ireland.

“He asked the receptionist if he could speak to a female reporter because of the sensitivity of what he was about to say.

“The man then told the reporter, Jessica Campbell, about a dark secret he had kept for more than 30 years.

“As a 12-year-old child he had been abused when using public toilets in the town centre. In the following months, he was subject to a series of sexual assaults by a group of men.

“…Although there had been rumours down the years of a paedophile ring in Fermanagh, this was the first evidence with enough checkable detail for the paper to feel confident about publishing the story.

“The reaction astonished the Impartial’s staff. The paper was deluged with phone calls, emails and letters in which people revealed that they, too, had been victims of abuse. The story snowballed.

It was the start of what has become an Homeric undertaking by the deputy editor, Rodney Edwards, who has investigated more than 50 allegations of historic sexual abuse across the county.

In fairness.

Here’s why local journalism must find a way to survive (Roy Greenslade, The Guardian)

Rodney Edwards

“I have one or two little things that are coming up. I’m writing and I’m going to direct now. I’ve directed documentaries but I’ve never directed drama. So I’m going to direct because there’s been films made about Travellers – they’ve all been inaccurate, you know…

I finally want to make the film about Travellers in this country, made by a Traveller, if I can get funding for that, but I suppose I’ll make it anyway somehow. I think once you decide to do it, you decide to do it and you make people believe you’re going to do it – then it’ll happen.

‘I have a spotlight. People listen to me.’ John Connors on his controversial award speech (The Guardian)

Previously: John’s Speech


Protesters at a pro-choice rally in Dublin last year

Una Mullally, in The Guardian, writes:

The movement to repeal the 8th is growing, especially since the equal marriage referendum last year inspired a generation of young Irish people. In the days after that referendum, the question that Irish people hear repeatedly from abroad was raised: how can Ireland have gay marriage and not abortion? It’s one that can only be answered by acknowledging that misogyny in Ireland runs even deeper than homophobia.

What the equal marriage referendum taught us was that change comes from the bottom up. And we don’t just need one voice advocating for change, but many. The recent March for Choice in Dublin was replicated in cities around the world, with tens of thousands of people turning out to demand reproductive rights.

…Women are now telling their abortion stories in great numbers for the first time, and as we learned during the equal marriage referendum campaign, you can’t beat real-life experiences with abstract arguments.

Successive Irish governments haven’t listened to their female citizens. But what Irish governments really dislike is being embarrassed from abroad. As a nation, we are insecure, obsessed with our identity and what people think of us. So if politicians don’t have the guts to tackle this issue then they need to be shamed into action.

Solidarity matters because the extended hand often feels so much warmer than your own. The idea that people you don’t even know care about you is important. It bolsters you. And while solidarity from outside Ireland exists in pockets, we now need it from Britain en masse.

British people need to stomp on the streets and on the floors of parliament to help shame our government. British people should especially demand that women in Northern Ireland have the same reproductive rights as in England, Scotland, and Wales, and that those rights be extended to women on the Isle of Man too.

A strip of sea separates us, but we are just like you. We watch EastEnders, shop in Topshop, cry at Bake Off and drink gin. Your football teams are our football teams. We don’t earn enough and are sick of the rain. We are not “other”.

Irish women need British help to change our abortion laws (The Guardian)

Earlier: Free Tomorrow?


The Guardian reports:

A man approaches a bicycle, handheld electric saw at the ready. He powers it on, starts to drill, and is shot in the face with a noxious spray that makes him vomit uncontrollably. This is the dream of the inventors of SkunkLock.

“Basically we were fed up with thefts,” said Daniel Idzkowski (top left) from San Francisco, one of the inventors of SkunkLock.

…With his co-inventor, Yves Perrenoud (top right), Idzkowski created a U-shaped lock of carbon and steel with a hollow chamber to hold one of three pressurized gases of their own concoction, including one called “formula D_1”. When someone cuts about 30% of the way into the lock, Idzkowski said, the gas erupts in the direction of the gash.

“It’s pretty much immediately vomit inducing, causes difficulty breathing,” Idzkowski said. “A lot of similar symptoms to pepper spray.”

Bike lock developed that makes thieves immediately vomit (The Guardian)

Thanks John Gallen and Bertie Blenkinsop


Ah here.


Ibrahim Halawa

Ibrahim Halawa, in The Guardian, writes:

Each time you are transferred to a new prison, there is something called “the party”. They show you who’s boss. In most cases it’s beatings, but in one, we were stripped, told to lie down facing the ground with our arms behind our back, and they started to jump on our backs, from one prisoner to the next.

It’s normal to be cursed, stripped naked, beaten with a bar, or put in solitary confinement or the “tank” (a pitch-black 3.5m x 5.5m cell). They might also torture another prisoner in front of you. Of course you never forget. Ever.

After a prison “inspection”, you might go back to your cell and find things missing. If your family visits and you get something from them that the guards like, you may as well forget it.

Once, coming back from a hearing in my mass trial, I was hit with the back of an AK47 and asked where I was from. The officer put his AK47 to my chest and said: “I wish I could take you out, you fucking Irish. But I can’t.”

During a recent hunger strike, I was left to die. I was out. My fellow prisoners, with whom I share a cell, banged on the door for help – they were told: “When he dies, knock.” That is a really small fraction of what happens and has happened to me.

…The capacity of the prison is 2,000. It currently holds more than 6,000 prisoners.

…Ireland – I miss everything about Ireland. Home, family, friends, the people, school, going out, laughing, love, hiking, swimming, the kindness. I miss going out to the sights, seeing Ireland and Irish nature.

I miss town and the noise of the city and how at 9pm it shuts and no one is in the street. I miss the fresh air. TV.

Cinema. Fishing. Go-karting. Shopping. Running for the Dublin bus. Eating at Chippers. Looking far away – the furthest I have seen in over 1,000 days is less than half a kilometre. I miss my bed and my pillows. I miss the Cliffs of Moher. The parks. I miss eating popcorn and cookies. I could go on for ever.

In prison in Egypt, it’s normal to be stripped, beaten, witness tortureIbrahim Halawa (The Guardian)



Anything good in the Guardian?

Harriet Sherwood writes:

Ireland’s last census, in 2011, showed a big rise in the numbers of non-Catholics. Although those identifying themselves as Catholic were still the vast majority of the 4.5m population, more than 6% – 277,000 people – described themselves as atheist, agnostic, lapsed or of “no religion”. The number was an increase of almost 50% since the previous census in 2006; the next census, due in April, is expected to show an even bigger rise.

… A few months ago, the archdiocese of Dublin commissioned research from a global consultancy firm, Towers Watson, to forecast the church’s trajectory over the next 15 years. Its findings made bleak reading for the church, which declined to speak about the report to the Guardian.

Attendances at mass are set to fall by a third between now and 2030, on top of a 20% drop between 2008 and 2014. The church can expect to recruit one new priest under the age of 40 each year. As incumbents retire or die, there is likely to be a fall of up to 70% in the number of working priests, and about three-quarters of those remaining in post will be over the age of 60. The church must consider recruiting priests from other countries and encouraging existing priests to work beyond the age of 75, the report said.

Baptisms were predicted to remain stable, but the report noted that this may be explained by “the preference given to children who are baptised when enrolling in Catholic primary schools. If this requirement is removed at any point prior to 2030, we believe there is likely to be a decline in the number of baptisms each year.”

Jodie Neary, the mother of 18-month-old unbaptised twins Evyie and Mia, said: “The school system is the last stronghold of the Catholic church in Ireland, so it’s very important to them. I’ve never considered baptising the girls, but I know people who baptise their children just to make sure they can get into the local school. It’s very common.”

… The Guardian spoke to parents who reported children being assigned prayers for homework, given religiously-themed artwork and reading books, taught creationism on nature walks and enlisted in the construction of “prayer stations” with religious icons on school premises. “It’s hard to challenge this – you don’t want to be the parent who turns up every day to argue with the teachers,” said one.

…[Mike McKillen, 72, who teaches bio-chemistry part-time at Trinity College Dublin said:] “The church is no longer in the ascendant. And once we get a system of education that isn’t dependent on religious patronage, its influence will wane further. There is political momentum on this, and the policy makers cannot ignore it any longer.”

Faith, hope and secularity: Ireland on brink of change as church power wanes (The Guardian)

Related: Carol Hunt: And The Lesson Today

Pic: Gorey Educate Together