Eurovision 2016 – Grand Final Preview

Its Eurovision week!!! Its just two days to the First Semi-Final on Tuesday followed by the Second Semi-Final on Thursday. So I am a tad excited! (That may be an understatement). Check out my previews of Semi-Final 1 and Semi-Final 2

So its time to look at the automatic qualifiers for the Grand Final which takes place on Saturday 14th of May. They will be joined by 10 acts from each of the Semi Finals. So who are the automatic finalists? They are our Host’s Sweden and the Big Five contributors to the European Broadcasting Union, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Only Sweden’s place in the show is known and it will be Friday before the running order for the Final will be known. Sweden will perform 9th on the night.

So lets take a look at the songs we will definitely be seeing next Saturday.

Continue reading “Eurovision 2016 – Grand Final Preview”

9 EU states want a Financial Transaction Tax

European Union
European Union (Photo credit: ana branca)

Nine Eurozone members want the Danish Presidency of the EU to speed up its work on a directive on a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). While there is much opposition within the Eurozone and wider EU to such a tax, the nine countries intend to use the community method to allow them to use the EU institutions to set up and administer the tax and allow other countries to join while not holding them back.

The nine countries are:

  • France
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Portugal

The inclusion of Greece and Portugal is interesting as they are in receipt of an IMF/ECB/EU Bailout while Italy and Spain haver been teetering on the edge for some time.

There is opposition to an EU wide tax mainly from the UK and Sweden with Poland and Ireland also voicing unease about the plans, so do not expect these countries to join up any time soon.

The letter comes at a time during the French Presidential Election where Nicolas Sarkozy has placed a lot of faith in such a tax to win votes at home and is of course implementing the tax in France with or without the other eight countries.

Taxation remains an unanimous decision at the Council of Ministers under the Treaty of Lisbon, so even if one country opposes there will not be an EU wide tax on financial transactions.

IMF says we are screwed

International Monetary Fund
Image via Wikipedia

The Telegraph have an excellent article on the latest IMF report – “Will It Hurt? Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Consolidation” – and what it means for countries trying to make cuts.

In Ireland we cut to quickly. We forgot to bring in a stimulus like other countries. Cuts in budgets mean growth cuts, which will lead to a longer depression.

According to the report Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece) and Ireland could be in for an extended recession. With bug cuts coming in Germany and France, they could be joining them, as well as making it less likely for Southern Europe to recover as no demand for goods.

Has the article states:

We are seeing a pattern – first in Ireland, now in Greece and Portugal – where cuts are failing to close the deficit as fast as hoped. Austerity itself is eroding tax revenues. Countries are chasing their own tail.

So what are Governments doing? Cutting more. It doesn’t bode well for the future. We need something to encourage spending, we need something to get other countries to buy our goods. How will we do that? I am not sure, but by leaving out the stimulus we cut too hard and fast. We could be stuck for awhile. This is not good for our government as,

The lesson of the 1930s is that politics can turn ugly as slumps drag into a third year, and voters lose faith in the promised recovery.

Most of the country has already lost faith in the Government and the other political parties are having varying support levels, (see here).

We have no choice but to cut. The deficit is too high. Its that or leave Anglo fall. Maybe that would mean the cuts would not have to be so deep and therefore we would have a fighting chance of recovery. I some how doubt our government will take that chance.

a tip of the hat to Peebles for the link

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Italy to push for death penalty moratorium at UN

Via BreakingNews.ie

Italy to push for death penalty moratorium at UN

The Italian government today said it would take “formal steps” in a renewed push for a UN call for a moratorium on the death penalty following Saddam Hussein’s execution.

The premier’s office said in a statement that Italy would seek the support of other countries that oppose capital punishment to put the issue of a moratorium to the UN General Assembly.

Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema has said that Premier Romano Prodi’s government would work for the end of the death penalty worldwide following denunciations across Europe of Saddam’s hanging.

In the past, Italy has lobbied unsuccessfully for United Nations’ action against the death penalty. Italy is now one of the rotating countries on the UN Security Council.

Saddam’s execution by hanging on Saturday was denounced virtually across Italy’s political spectrum, with former premier and conservative opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi calling the killing a political error and centre-left leader Prodi expressing worry that the execution would fuel more violence in Iraq.

Morning Briefing, December 21st

Well, im in a festive spirit today! Im cuurently wearing my santa hat (with added plats) and red flashing nose. The bus driver of the number 14 did better than me though this morining dressed in a full santa suit!!!

BreakingNews.ie reports on crticisim for Transport 21 from the ERSI and Fine Gael.

It also reports that traditional psychiatric hospitals will be closed by 2010.

BreakingNews also reports that election results in Iran have been won by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s opponents.

France 24 reports on the death of Turkmenistein’s President, Saparmurat Niyazov.

CNN reports on uproar in Italy over a ‘gay navity, scene.

RTÉ reports that the General Election will be a summer election after comments by Bertie Ahern.

Merry Christmas! as im not sure if ill be onlinbe over the next few days!!

Happy Christmas & a prosperous new year

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit.