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January 2022

Finbarr Donnelly: 'A Force of Nature'

Ireland may have a slim portfolio of notable rock acts even for its size, but it more than makes up for it in the quality of stars it has produced. From the Brian Wilson-Jimi Hendrix hybrid that is Kevin Shields to the philanthropist/mystic storyteller Bono, Ireland has a rich history of powerful frontmen.

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December 2021

2021 Formula 1 Season Wrap-up: Winner Takes All

The 2021 Formula 1 season provided exhilarating action from start to finish. But as always, there could only be one winner. This specific championship battle was between Red Bull driver, Max Verstappen, and 7-time F1 champion and Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton.

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November 2021

Conflict grows as Ethiopia declares State of Emergency.

Following Ethiopian leader Abiy Ahmed’s catastrophic and failed assault on the northern province of Tigray, rebels have not only pushed back government forces from their homeland, but are now threatening the capital city of Addis Ababa. This has prompted the Prime Minister to impose a nationwide state of emergency as well as calls for a ceasefire by African and western leaders.

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Turkey to join EU Schemes

On Wednesday, the 27th of October, Turkey was given the green light to join several EU schemes, while the UK is still waiting to join such schemes following its withdrawal from the EU.

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October 2021

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Loses Court Appeal

British-Iranian aid worker, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has had her court appeal quashed by an Iranian court after being given a further one-year jail sentence. According to BBC, ‘The British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has lost an appeal against a second jail sentence in Iran.

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Latest Efforts to Save Iran Nuclear Deal Falter

Following Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 US presidential election, there was cautious optimism that the United States would quickly return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or the “Iran nuclear deal”) under the new Biden Administration. However, nine months after Biden’s inauguration, neither the US nor Iran have expressed much interest in keeping the deal alive.

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Fine Gael Suffer Decline in Support in Latest Ipsos/MRBI Poll

Fine Gael’s support has plummeted in the latest Ipsos/MRBI poll, published last week. According to the poll, support for the party has slipped to 22%. In contrast, Sinn Féin has gained five points since the last poll and now leads by ten points at 32%, while Fianna Fáil has held at 20%. This is the highest Ipsos/MRBI poll rating for Sinn Féin.

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Austrian Chancellor Kurz Resigns in Wake of Corruption Scandal

In recent days, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has resigned in the wake of a corruption scandal in a bid to save his coalition government. According to Politico, ‘Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigned Saturday evening, bowing to growing pressure over a bombshell corruption probe that has rocked the country’s political establishment to its core. 

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‘Web 3.0’: A New Face of the Internet

The current form of the internet, known as 'Web 2.0', shifted the internet’s focus from static web pages designed for single sided narration and information consumption on the users’ end, to interactive experiences and user driven web creation, leading to the rise of modern media and information technology. At first, this new phase of the internet led to a never-ending network of webpages and online brands emerging regularly, but over time witnessed centralization of the internet over applications owned by a handful of corporations.

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US Plot to Abduct Julian Assange Exposed

For years following Wikileaks’ 2010 publication of classified material regarding the US’ conduct in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, successive US administrations have sought to punish the organisation and in particular its founder, Julian Assange. However, an investigative report published by Yahoo News claiming that the CIA plotted to assassinate Assange in recent years has shone the spotlight on the shadowy intelligence agency as well as senior figures in the Trump administration.

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September 2021

Poland Set to Construct its First Nuclear Power Plant

On Thursday, one of Poland’s largest state owned companies, KGHM, signed a deal with the US NuScale Power to lay the foundation for the construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant, which, according to media reports, would be up and running by 2029 or 2031 at the latest.

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Iceland Narrowly Misses Out On All Female Majority Parliament

Iceland narrowly missed out on achieving the first female majority parliament after initial results in its election on Saturday, produced 33 out of a possible 63 seats that were won by women. However, a recount meant that Iceland slightly fell short of achieving a female majority parliament as 30 out of 63 seats were won by women.

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Controversy over Northern Ireland Protocol Rumbles On

Despite Northern Ireland being largely spared of Brexit-related shortages including food and carbon dioxide needed for producing soft drinks thanks to the Northern Ireland Protocol, unionist parties have continued to rail against it. In particular, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has threatened to pull his ministers out of the Northern Ireland Executive, thus collapsing it and reverting Northern Ireland back to direct British rule.

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The Possible Kingmakers after Germany’s Federal Election

Days before the federal elections in Germany, it is worth looking at three minor parties, their leaders and policies as they may play a crucial role in forming the next coalition government. The two frontrunners the SPD and the CDU/CSU (Union) are neck and neck in the polls, with the SPD polling between 3-5% ahead of the Union, and the SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz holding the highest popularity rating out of the three candidates.

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Putin’s United Russia Retains Majority in Parliament

After a three-day election was held, President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party has retained its majority in the Russian Parliament. This corresponds with a failed attempt by the imprisoned dissident Alexei Navalny and his team, who established a strategy called Smart Voting, to garner votes away from the Kremlin.

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Trial of Elizabeth Holmes Continues

The trial of Elizabeth Holmes, former Chief Executive of medical company, Theranos, continued this week with testimony from a former employee, Erika Cheung. Holmes and former Theranos COO, Ramesh Balwani, are charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud.

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2021 German Federal Election Preview

The 2021 German federal election is expected to be held on 26 September 2021 to elect the members of the 20th Bundestag. On the same day, the state elections in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern will also be held. Incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel will not run in this election meaning it’s time to look at the main political parties for this election.   Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU)   The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian-democratic and liberal-conservative political party. It is the major catch-all party of the centre-right in German politics. Armin Laschet has been federal chairman of the CDU since January 2021 replacing Angela Merkel. The CDU is the largest party in the Bundestag, the German federal legislature (parliament), holding 200 out of 709 seats.   According to German Federal Electoral Law, members of a parliamentary group which share the same basic political aims must not compete with one another in any federal state which is why they form a union with fellow Christian Democratic Party the CSU. The CSU also reflects the particular concerns of the largely rural, Catholic south Germany. While the two Christian Democratic parties are commonly described as sister parties, they have been sharing a common parliamentary group since 1949.   Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) The Christian Social Union in Bavaria is a Christian-democratic and conservative political party in Germany. Having a regionalist identity, the CSU operates only in Bavaria while its larger counterpart, the Christian Democratic Union, operates in the other 15 states of Germany. It differs from the CDU by being somewhat more conservative.  

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Legal Challenge Halts Strand Road Cycle Scheme: Where to Now?

The High Court on Friday has upheld a legal challenge to works proceeding on a cycling infrastructure trial on the Strand Road in South Dublin, RTÉ News is reporting. The proposed works would have restricted cars and other motorised traffic to a single lane outbound coming out of the city, with the space created as a result being used to implement a 2 way segregated cycle lane. This scheme would have been initially put in place as part of a 6 month trial.

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Gavin Newsom Survives California Recall Election

This week, a recall election to decide the fate of California governor Gavin Newsom has taken place. While Newsom won the gubernatorial election in 2018 and was not due to face re-election until 2022, his response to crises related to homelessness and taxation among others has attracted immense criticism, particularly by conservative commentators.

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‘Scholz Effect’ Takes Germany by Surprise

Since the end of July Germany’s social democrats, the SPD, have been gaining in the polls. At the end of August, they overtook the CDU/CSU bloc and are now leading in every single poll. Partially, this is due to their candidate Olaf Scholz who has been serving as Vice-Chancellor & Minister of Finance in Merkel’s cabinet.

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July 2021

Update on the Gulf of Mexico Fire

This month started with perhaps the most bizarre disaster we have ever witnessed. With images of the ocean being on fire being shared July 2nd onwards, everyone wondered how such a thing could be possible and how it could even be dealt with.

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Belarusian Opposition Leader Visits Ireland

The Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya is visiting Ireland this week to meet with the minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. The exiled opposition leader entered the political spotlight last year after she ran against the long standing president Alexander Lukashenko in the presidential elections.Her connection with Ireland stretches back much longer than her involvement in politics.

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Height Heritability: The Importance of Environmental Factors

It is one thing to look like your parents, but it is quite another to be as tall as them. Have you ever noticed that in spite of obvious similarities in body shape, facial expressions and complexion, you might not necessarily reach the same height as your parents? This article aims to deal with this unexpected outcome. 

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Dublin Bay South By-Election: Winners And Losers

The recent Dublin Bay South by-election, which was triggered by the resignation of Eoghan Murphy as Fine Gael TD for the constituency, brought about some interesting results. Ivana Bacik for the Labour Party won the by-election with 13,382 votes on the ninth count, ahead of James Geoghegan for Fine Gael who earned 9,235 votes overall.

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A Changing Conflict: The Civil War in Tigray

Last week, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, offered up what could only be seen as a colossal military disaster in the form of a unilateral ceasefire declaration. This was preceded by the stunning capture of the Tigrayan region capital, Mekelle, by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, who routed Ethiopian forces and captured nearly 6000 prisoners.

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Killer Drone Hunts Human Targets Without Instruction

According to a United Nations report, military drones may have attacked human targets autonomously last year. The complete details of the event have not been released to the public and so it is currently unclear if there were any casualties, but this incident highlights the fact that international movements and petitions to ban the use of autonomous weapons might be too late.

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Poor Results For Front National and LREM in Regional Elections

The second round of the French regional elections is now behind us, on Sunday night the exit polls showed that nationally the conservative Les Republicans received 38% of the vote with Greens & Socialist just 3% behind them at 35%. Front National came third with 20% while LREM, the party which President Emmanuel Macron has founded, finished at single digits. With absenteeism at 66%. One year before France's presidential elections both Macron and Le Pen failed to gain ground at regional level.

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Suspect Arrested After Knife Attack in Germany

German authorities report a knife attack in the city of Wurzburg on the 25th of this month, stating three deaths and five serious injuries, and a number of others sustaining milder injuries. Police identified the suspect as a 24 year old Somali man living in Wurzburg. He was shot and subdued, the shot being reported as non lethal and not posing a threat to his life according to a spokeswoman. “The attacker was overpowered after the police used firearms,” said police on Twitter.

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June 2021

CAP: Consultation Begins

A deal on the continuation of the EU Common Agricultural Policy has been reached. After months of tense and often fractured debate the negotiations scame to an end last week.The deal was ratified by the council of agricultural ministers on Monday.

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The Baltics and Poland Block a French/German Proposal of Dialogue With Russia at EU Summit

Inspired by the recent meeting between Biden and Putin, the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and the French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a combined EU/Russia summit at the last EU council summit; the idea was also supported by Mario Draghi, the Italian Prime Minister. In the end, however, the proposal was rejected after a number of states which border with Russia raised their objections.

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