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IRELAND: Three former bank executives sentenced over €7.2bn conspiracy

Three former bank executives have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from two years to three and a half years for a €7.2bn conspiracy to defraud in September 2008.

Former Anglo Irish Bank executives John Bowe and Willie McAteer and the former chief executive of Irish Life and Permanent, Denis Casey, were found guilty last month of agreeing a scheme to mislead the public about the true health of Anglo.

Judge Martin Nolan sentenced Bowe to two years, McAteer to three and a half years and Casey to two years and nine months.

He described what they had done as “reprehensible” and the conspiracy as very serious.

All three were convicted of conspiring together and with others to mislead investors, depositors and lenders by setting up a €7.2bn circular transaction scheme between March and September 2008 to bolster Anglo’s balance sheet.

Irish Life placed the deposits via a non-banking subsidiary in the run-up to Anglo’s financial year-end, to allow its rival to categorise them as customer deposits, which are viewed as more secure, rather than a deposit from another bank.

The judge also strongly criticised Anglo Irish Bank’s accountants at the time, Ernst & Young.

He said it beggared belief that they had signed-off on Anglo’s interim accounts, published in December 2008, as “true and fair” if they knew the true situation.

And he said it seemed incomprehensible to him that they did not know the situation.

He said they were a major accountancy firm whose job it was to help Anglo with its accounts and to protect the public.

They should have known the true situation at least by the end of October 2008 if they had been doing their job properly, he added. He said he did not know if it was blindness or wilful blindness.

source: http://www.rte.ie/news/2016/0729/805610-bank-executives/

Breakthrough solar cell captures carbon dioxide and sunlight, produces burnable fuel

Breakthrough solar cell captures CO2 and sunlight, produces burnable fuel

The finding is reported in the July 29 issue of Science and was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. A provisional patent application has been filed.

Unlike conventional , which convert sunlight into electricity that must be stored in heavy batteries, the new device essentially does the work of plants, converting into fuel, solving two crucial problems at once. A solar farm of such “artificial leaves” could remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and produce energy-dense fuel efficiently.

“The new solar cell is not photovoltaic—it’s photosynthetic,” says Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC and senior author on the study.

“Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight,” he said.

While plants produce fuel in the form of sugar, the artificial leaf delivers syngas, or synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide. Syngas can be burned directly, or converted into diesel or other hydrocarbon fuels.

The ability to turn CO2 into fuel at a cost comparable to a gallon of gasoline would render fossil fuels obsolete.

Chemical reactions that convert CO2 into burnable forms of carbon are called reduction reactions, the opposite of oxidation or combustion. Engineers have been exploring different catalysts to drive CO2 reduction, but so far such reactions have been inefficient and rely on expensive precious metals such as silver, Salehi-Khojin said.

“What we needed was a new family of chemicals with extraordinary properties,” he said.

Salehi-Khojin and his coworkers focused on a family of nano-structured compounds called transition metal dichalcogenides—or TMDCs—as catalysts, pairing them with an unconventional ionic liquid as the electrolyte inside a two-compartment, three-electrode electrochemical cell.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-07-breakthrough-solar-cell-captures-carbon.html#jCp

State to buy 5,000 acres in Dublin mountains from Nam

The State is expected to buy almost 5,000 acres at Glenasmole Valley in the Dublin mountain from Nama. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish TimesThe State is expected to buy almost 5,000 acres at Glenasmole Valley in the Dublin mountain from Nama. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

The State is expected to buy almost 5,000 acres at Glenasmole Valley in the Dublin mountains, currently for sale by the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

The 4,900 acres, most of which lie within a special area of conservation and a special protection area, are surrounded by 200,000 hectares of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Ireland’s largest national park.

The site, above the Glenasmole reservoir, includes land known as the Featherbeds.

It is understood negotiations are at an advanced stage, and while Nama valued the land at €500 an acre with an overall price of €2.5 million, the State is likely to purchase the land at a reduced rate.

Some estimates put the final sale value at €1 million.

Approval

The deal could be concluded this week, but the Department of Public Expenditure will then have to give approval.

Minister of State for Heritage Michael Ring visited the Nama-owned land yesterday.

In a statement last night the Department of Heritage said Mr Ring remained hopeful that a “satisfactory conclusion could be reached”.

Mr Ring said in the Dáil last week that he was worried “about Nama’s valuations with regard to this particular piece of land”.

The Mayo TD, who has special responsibility for regional development, said he wanted to “put on the public record” his concerns at the price Nama was seeking, particularly given its conservation status.

Asking price

He said he wanted to acquire the land for the State, but his 2016 budget for the National Parks & Wildlife totalled Nama’s asking price of €2.5 million.

He said he would have to talk to the Minister for Finance.

Mr Ring was responding in the Dáil to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, who raised the issue and expressed concern that Nama was selling land which he believed should be kept in State ownership.

“[It] is a stunning wilderness and there is nothing there – not a shed and hardly a fence,” Mr Ryan said. “ It is a wildlife reserve to match any other.”

The Dublin Bay South TD said 93 per cent of the site was part of Co Wicklow’s special area of conservation “and one can do nothing with it, such as put up a wind farm or buildings”.

Nama acquired the site after a developer involved in Dundrum Shopping Centre got into difficulties. Negotiations with the agency began afterMountaineering Ireland raised concerns about the site.

In June it emerged that an auctioneer had been appointed to seek bids for the land, at which point Mr Ryan raised it in the Dáil, expressing concern if a private bidder came in the price could increase to €3 million or €4 million.

In its statement the department said because the land was a special protection area it was “a very important site for nature conservation”.

It said Mr Ring was of the view that “that given its closeness to Wicklow Mountains National Park and its importance for nature conservation as an SAC [special area of conservation] and SPA [special protection area], the land in question would be very important to the national park”.

source:http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/state-to-buy-5-000-acres-in-dublin-mountains-from-nama-1.2735363#.V5iYMptJ6Xd.twitter

Launching a campaign to prosecute Saudis war criminals against Yemen

 

The Middle East Foundation for Development and Human Rights, in collaboration with several other international law institutions has launched a campaign to prosecute Saudis war criminals against Yemen.

Abdullah Alao the President of the Foundation in a press conference said: “We are working with several local and foreign organizations since six months ago to gather documentary evidence about the crimes of Saudis invaders.”

He added that the Saudis continued bombing and crimes in Yemen led to the deaths of more than 13 thousand people and injured more than 35 thousand people.

Abdullah stressed that this campaign is aimed at strengthening the United Nations mechanisms and the role of human rights organizations in the face of human rights violators and war criminals against oppressed Yemeni people and prevent impunity.

source:http://www.awdnews.com/political/launching-a-campaign-to-prosecute-saudis-war-criminals-against-yemen

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Thought of the Day : Consciousness:

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Bank’s Dealt Massive Blow with High Court Judgement Today: Home owners celebrate

repossession

By Finbar Markey

There’s been a con going on in our Circuit Courts for the last few years. It’s a con that the courts, the legal profession and the banks have all been in on together and the veracity of the claim that it has been a con emerged today from the High Courts and a ruling by Ms. Justice Murphy.

Over the years, in an effort at putting efficiency before the rules of the court, the banks have been applying to the Circuit Courts for possession Orders on family homes. The Circuit Court rules are clear that only matters involving less than €75,000 can be heard in the Circuit Court. Now we know most houses are still worth more than €75,000 and to circumvent the rule the banks have, with the complicity of court Registrar’s and the legal industry, been allowing family home possession applications into the Circuit Courts claiming that the rateable value of the property is within the rules as, they claim, the rateable value of the property is under €253 odd. Today’s ruling by Ms. Justice Murphy simply blows the rateable value argument out of the water.

A home does not have a rateable value and has not had a rateable value since the early 1970s. Activists have been arguing this around the country but their arguments have been falling on deaf ears until now. Today in the High Court a jubilant appellant, appealing an Order of Possession on her home from the Circuit Court, and with the advice, support and backing of the Hub-Ireland, broke the mould. In her judgement Ms. Justice Murphy said…

“The Plaintiff maintained that it had invoked and was entitled to the provisions of the valuation act and a letter issued by the Valuations office was sufficient: both these assertions are manifestly unfounded on the evidence…….it appears to the Court on Evidence that the Plaintiff have devised and used an ad hoc non-statutory process which is devoid of legal effect, for the purpose of persuading the Circuit Court that it has jurisdiction which it does not in fact enjoy”.

So what are the implications of today’s ruling? Firstly, we can expect that banks will be left with no choice but to withdraw their current applications in the Circuit Courts for possession of family homes. If you are in court over the next while demand a strike out. If an Order has been made on your home, it can be considered null and void and as having never existed. Contact your local Sheriff over the next few days and ask what the ruling means for you, meanwhile the various anti-eviction groups around the country will be forwarding the judgement to all Registrar’s and Sheriff’s and requesting their current position in light of the ruling.

We in the National Land League and other groups are not naïve however and we know that it will be the impulse and attitude of the banks, their legal partners and indeed the courts to press on regardless. We must not allow this to happen and the ruling by Ms. Justice Murphy must be enforced primarily by all of the lay-litigants across the country that up until now have been trampled upon.

On a final note, if you are made aware of any attempts to circumvent this ruling within the courts please contact the National Land League, the Hub-Ireland and other groups to let us know. We expect arguments to be made by “the other side” that they are using the Poor Law Valuation (Griffith’s valuation) to enter the Circuit Court. This has been tried before. The PLV was deemed unconstitutional by the High Court in 1981 and this was upheld on Appeal to the Supreme Court. Once more, congratulations to The Hub-Ireland on a ground-shaking result today.

source:http://www.fairsociety.ie/banks-dealt-massive-blow-with-high-court-judgement-today-home-owners-celebrate/

The EU Poverty Bar is Moving Higher

Brexit caps off a turbulent decade for the EU. Many in the Eurozone will be hoping that it does not cause further economic turmoil, as it is becoming increasingly clear that the financial crisis of 2008-09 led to a substantial increase in poverty across the continent.

Not only did poverty intensify within those nations that were hardest hit during the crisis and required bailouts, but there has also been a dramatic change in the geography and types of poverty in Europe over the last decade.

So intense has been the crisis in Greece that, by 2013, it experienced a higher level of poverty than any other EU member state. Indeed, in my recent research, I have found that the impoverishment of Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal has been so severe that these southern European countries, taken together, had higher levels of poverty and deprivation than many of the former Communist nations that joined the European Union in 2004. Specifically, they have been greater than the average of Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.

Poverty takes many different forms. The EU aims to lift 20m people out of poverty and social exclusion, based on three official measures: relative income poverty (when a person’s income falls far below what is needed to achieve an average standard of living in their country); material deprivation (when people lack a set of basic necessities); and living in a workless household.

To take into account the complexity of poverty, I included four more measures in my research: when people reported that they could make ends meet only with great difficulty; when they experienced neighbourhood problems such as crime or vandalism; poor health; and unmet medical or dental needs.

Bringing together these seven dimensions of poverty, I analysed how they changed over four time periods: 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2013. So, before, during and after the financial crisis, and the ensuing recession.

Surprising findings

Significant changes in the geography of poverty and deprivation in Europe can be seen. The pre-crisis period between 2005 and 2008 was associated with substantial reductions in poverty across Europe. Some of the poorest nations, including Poland and Latvia, saw the largest decrease. These pre-crisis years represented a period of catch-up for some of the poorest member states.

In the initial phase of the Great Recession that followed the financial crisis (2008-11), poverty increased almost everywhere. The largest increases were in Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Ireland. However, in the second phase of the crisis (2011-13), the picture is less consistent. In ten EU member states, there were modest reductions in poverty, suggesting perhaps that the crisis had ended. In Greece, Portugal, Spain, however, poverty continued to rise sharply and similarly, though not quite as much, in Cyprus.

Many of the nations with the sharpest rises in poverty during the Great Recession – Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and Ireland – are nations that required bailouts from the EU and IMF. The fact that these “bailout nations” were at the sharp end of the crisis may come as no surprise, given the austerity that was demanded of them as a condition of accessing loans from the EU-IMF.

However, two findings are nonetheless striking:

  1. The disappointing performance of the southern European nations predates the crisis itself. These nations largely failed to benefit from the reductions in poverty and deprivation that were experienced elsewhere in the pre-crisis years.
  2. The rise in poverty in Greece has been so great that it has leapfrogged the newer EU member states and now heads the leader-board of poverty and deprivation.

The graph below gives an illustration of how multidimensional poverty levels have changed from 2005 to 2013 for each EU member state (Greece is EL). The poverty levels are based on the simultaneous experience of three or more of the seven dimensions discussed earlier.

Rod Hick

There have also been changes in which EU member state has the greatest number of people experiencing these multiple forms of poverty.

A decade ago, Poland had a greater number of people experiencing multidimensional poverty than any other EU member state. This reflected the lower standard of living in the member states that joined the EU as part of its 2004 enlargement, and the large population size of Poland.

By 2013, however, the combined effect of a partial catch up by the newer member states and disastrous poverty performance of southern Europe meant that Italy now has a greater number of people experiencing multidimensional poverty than any other country in Europe.

The rise in poverty at Europe’s periphery thus reflects not only a deterioration of pre-crisis standards of living within some nations. It shows the more radical shift in the geography of poverty in Europe over the last decade, increasingly concentrated in the south of the continent. This is something the European Union must pay heed to, as it aims to help lift 20m people out of poverty across the continent.

How poverty has radically shifted across Europe in the last decade is republished with permission from The Conversation

The Conversation

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