Stories of the week

End to the Irish bailout
According to the Irish government, Ireland has now exited its bailout agreement with the EU and all is well again…well, sort of!

This came as extremely distressing news to the UK press, who promptly went looking around Dublin for a tram to film (back during the crisis they had a nasty habit of showing images of tramps on Dublin streets, as they tried to hype up the crisis, ignoring the many tramps on London streets).

In part Ireland’s exit is helped by the fact that it turned out that the level of funding needed for the bailout wasn’t as large as initially thought. Unemployment is down, the economy is growing, but that doesn’t mean everything is hunky dory. No, as with everywhere else in the world, there’s still many issues to deal with, for example there are still many ghost estates and zombie businesses and a hidden poverty trap that effects thousands of hard working individuals, some of whom will struggle to fund their retirement, as I mentioned in a prior post.

In short, we can see light at the end of the tunnel…we’re just not sure if it’s the exit or an oncoming train!

A sign of the times in South Africa
Mandela’s memorial service in Jo-burg turned out to be something of an embarrassing farce for the ANC. Firstly, it ran on for hours (so long that Obama & Cameron amused themselves by taking “selfies” at a funeral).

Then there was the issue of a supposed interpreter who deaf people pointed out was a fraud. Initially it was thought he might be some sort of practical joker, but its since turned out that he has been used at ANC events before (and people complained, just this time his antics where broadcast to a worldwide audience). While he has attempted to claim a bad case of stage fright, it probable a more reasonable explanation is the sort of petty cronyism that plagues South Africa these days. Where those who are “juiced in” with the god-olde-boys” get juicy government contracts (such as for doing sign language interpreting…even thought they haven’t a clue!).

In other news, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is apparently not invited to Mandela’s funeral. He has been a critic of ANC corruption. While the ANC has since claimed to have “lost” his invite, it does to say the least stink. Oh, and the burgling of his home while he was at Mandela’s memorial sounds a little too much of a coincidence.

Game of Thrones
North Korea is probably best looked on as a imperial state that uses the language of communism to stay in power, as opposed to an actual communist state. This was illustrated with the removal and execution of Chang Song-thaek, Kim Jung-un’s uncle.

Its almost like an episode of Game of Thrones. We have the ex-king who was into partying and drinking, only for him to die and be replaced by a sadistic little twerp who is then manipulated by one force or another, with a Hamlet like body count resulting…of course the difference is its being played out in a country with modern weapons, including nukes! So to say this raises the stakes somewhat is to put it mildly.

Santa’s on the Run
The cops in Dundee are looking for Santa, who was seen crashing a car into a house, before running off, possibly as a result of being “tired and emotional”.

This sounds a little too close to this video from the web. Its not clear at present as to whether any Reindeer were involved (or harmed) nor whether the police shall be judged to have been “naughty” if they manage to catch him.

The 12 scams of Christmas
…On the first day of Christmas my true love said to me, download this app…and then I had to pay someone in bitcoins to remove ransomware from my PC.

There’s a lot of scams on the internet these days, and given that Christmas is often when the more inept users venture out, its usually this time of year that they get caught out, so watch it out there!

Tabloid Laziness
An insight into how tabloids undertake research was revealed this week. The Sun published a list of whom they considered to be the laziest MP’s. However it turns out they did this by simply downloading and looking at the voting record of MP’s. As one of them, Lucy Powell of Labour, who rated high on this list, such sloppy journalism fails to account for certain factors…such as her being pregnant and on maternity leave at the time!

So next time you hear some tabloid story, remember that they aren’t exactly known for undertaking rigours fact checking. As I’ve mentioned before, much of the myths, such as benefits being a large proportion of taxes (jobseekers accounts for less than 1% of UK taxes) or that half the country is immigrants (actually its closer to 11%) aren’t true and can easily be debunked by doing a little bit of research. Then again reading and basic arithmetic doesn’t seem to be trait of tabloid journalists!

Education woes
The Tories flagship education policies seem to becoming undone. One of the country’s first “free schools” was forced to shut, the costs of the free school programme are spiralling ever upwards, evidence suggests that UK school standards are falling relative to the rest of the world, and Tory cuts have hit the less well off pupils and schools the worst.

Meanwhile in third level, Turnitin, a key anti-cheating software uni’s use to catch plagiarism stopped working, causing all sorts of problems for us. There have been strikes over pay and the students appear to be revolting (okay that was a pun, but there’s been several protests in London recently about tuition fees).

Oh and here’s some amusing answers to some exam questions.

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