Saturday, 27 November 2010

You have a Voice

Around 50,000 people have marched in Dublin in protest against Ireland's handling of the economic crisis amid anger at the country's austerity budget.

The action was seen as the last chance to demonstrate against the cost-cutting measures before they are formally announced on December 7.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) organised the protest, saying the four-year plan of spending cuts and tax rises "will do irreparable damage" to the Republic.

It was the biggest demonstration yet against the budget-slashing plans and a looming EU-IMF bailout.

The protest passed off largely peacefully, apart from some people setting off fireworks, amid fears some groups could have been looking to cause trouble.

Earlier this week, there were clashes between protesters and police as members of the government wrestled with European officials over an estimated 85bn euro (£72bn) rescue package to bail out the Irish economy.

After the Dublin march, there was a rally where speakers included trade union leaders.

Sky News' Michelle Clifford said they were "appealing to Ireland's sense of sovereignty and nationalism, and saying the power should go back to the people".

People are very unhappy, and this is their last chance to protest before the budget.

Demonstrator Pat Kenny

She added: "They were criticising a government which they say has no mandate for talking to European individuals who were not elected and deciding on the future of Ireland on that basis.

"So the crowd were being urged to protest against the government and try to change the budget on December 7, and the source of economics in Ireland in the coming weeks and months."

Clifford went on: "There was a profound sense of anger among the crowd."

Under the austerity budget, it is thought the government will seek spending cuts of 4.5bn euros and to raise an extra 1.5bn euros in taxes.

Pat Kenny, a 45-year-old postal worker and union official, was distributing bright blue banners as the march began.

He said: "People are very unhappy, and this is their last chance to protest before the budget."

Meanwhile, Ireland is nearing the end of negotiations for an EU/IMF bailout, but the parties set to form the next government said the deal would be unacceptable if the interest rate was too high.

The opposition Labour and Fine Gael parties are expected to beat Irish premier Brian Cowen's Fianna Fail and take power in an election within months.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore described as "deeply disturbing" reports the rate Irish taxpayers would have to pay for the rescue package may be as high as 6.7%.

"If true, it would be an appalling capitulation by the Irish government. And it would be a betrayal of the founding principles of the European Union," he said.

Demo in Dublin in protest at Ireland's handling of economic crisis amid anger over austerity budget

Protest at involvement of International Monetary Fund

Fine Gael party said any rate over 6% would be unacceptable.

Irish government officials insisted the rate would be significantly lower than 6.7%.

And analysts claimed the package was likely to include a range of interest charges dependent on which countries or organisations were providing particular funds.

EU finance ministers are to meet in Brussels this weekend over the aid plan for Ireland.

The Dublin march comes after the government suffered a blow with a by-election defeat on Friday, leaving the coalition government with a majority of just two.

Sinn Fein candidate Pearse Doherty won the Donegal South West seat having seized more than a 39% share of the vote.

He said the win showed the increasing public opposition to the austerity budget and the multi-billion euro bailout planned for Ireland.

The Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition, with the support of independents, now commands 82 seats in the Dail parliament, with the opposition and other independents holding 80.

Only 24 hours prior to polling day, Mr Cowen unveiled his four-year plan for national recovery, which mapped out drastic measures including three billion euros in social welfare cuts, a rise in tax and the axing of 25,000 public sector jobs.

:: Up to 2,000 demonstrators gathered in Austria's capital Vienna to protest against government austerity measures in education, heath care and family allowances.

And in Rome, tens of thousands of Italians marched in a rally organised by the country's largest union to protest bleak job prospects and demand more rights for workers.

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Area 51-Fact or Fiction?

Area 51 is a military base, and a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base. It is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States, 83 miles (133 km) north-northwest of downtown Las Vegas. Situated at its center, on the southern shore of Groom Lake, is a large secretive military airfield. The base's primary purpose is to support development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems.[1][2]

The base lies within the United States Air Force's vast Nevada Test and Training Range. Although the facilities at the range are managed by the 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, the Groom facility appears to be run as an adjunct of the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, around 186 miles (300 km) southwest of Groom, and as such the base is known as Air Force Flight Test Center (Detachment 3).[3][4]

Though the name Area 51 is used in official CIA documentation, other names used for the facility include Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, Home Base, Watertown Strip, Groom Lake, and most recently Homey Airport. The area is part of the Nellis Military Operations Area, and the restricted airspace around the field is referred to as (R-4808N), known by the military pilots in the area as "The Box" or "the Container".

The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the U.S. government barely acknowledges, has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore.