July 2, 2013

Is It Possible That Snowden Is A Hero?

By now everyone knows that the Internet has made any personal privacy impossible but many believe that they have nothing to hide so they are unconcerned. They should be concerned; in fact they should be terrified. Even those who do not use the Internet or have a computer are having all their data and information collected by the government as well as political marketers.

By Alicia Colon

Until I began reading Brad Thor's thriller, "Black List", I was undecided about whistleblower Edward Snowden. The plot of this novel is eerily similar to the NSA scandal and involves an IT whiz who discovers that the government is collecting data on American citizens, not terrorists, to control our lives and she steals the proof but is hunted down and killed. Maybe Snowden blew the whistle because the extent of the data collection and how it is being used by this administration terrified him. The irony is that the book was published in 2012 before the IRS and AP scandals.

In the introduction to his novel, author Thor writes: "All of the technology contained in this novel is based on systems currently deployed, or in the final stages of development, by the United States government and its partners."

In, 'Black List', the doomed IT analyst works for a technological company named Adaptive Technology Solutions that is partnered with the NSA and is the villain responsible for the snooping on our lives. In real life, the company is Booz Allen Hamilton and Edward Snowden sought a job there specifically to get surveillance evidence because this private company has access to all the government data. Now how is that even possible? What does the NSA stand for? It certainly isn't guarding our national security. In addition, Judicial Watch has learned that a secretive data collection program run by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau allows private contractors access to millions of Americans' personal financial information. Obama has paid millions to these contractors to snoop on... you.

By now everyone knows that the Internet has made any personal privacy impossible but many believe that they have nothing to hide so they are unconcerned. They should be concerned; in fact they should be terrified. Even those who do not use the Internet or have a computer are having all their data and information collected by the government as well as political marketers. Every swipe of a credit card, supermarket card, library card, debit card, is downloaded to the Net at relatively low cost to the government. GPS in cars and smartphones, Onstar vehicles, can have their locations tracked by the Department of Defense which developed this technology.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags can be used to track everything from household products, casino chips, animals and even people who have them inserted under the skin at fancy VIP club to facilitate faster access to club. These RFIDs are in our passports. Authorities can place GPS devices on suspect vehicles without court orders thanks to the Patriot Act. This is not fiction. It is real and it is happening to all of us now.

Google, Facebook and Twitter facilitate the government's access to personal information. Nothing is sacred, nothing is safely encrypted. It is all being stored in that new NSA data warehouse facility out in Bluffdale, Utah. That means that millions of tweets, Facebook entries, emails, E-Z pass toll records, Amazon purchases, cell phone data, texts, GPS information, search engine queries generated each day are in the most sophisticated artificial intelligence system in the world. All that information can be stored and can be retrieved at any future point to conduct retroactive surveillance on any individual. A perfect behavioral profile can be created based on the data and will alert the government of your opposition to administration policies.

This super surveillance is not being used to track terrorist activity; otherwise the Boston Marathon bombing would not have happened. It is being used by this administration for political purposes to destroy opposition to its policies. Thus, it has become dangerous to have an anti-Obama sticker on your car or to post negative comments on the social networks. Anyone can become an enemy of the state and therein lies the real importance of Edward Snowden's whistleblowing. We've all known that we're being monitored but we never suspected that our information could be used or manipulated to make us suspected criminals. A Texas teen, Justin Carter, has been jailed since March for making a violent threat while playing a fantasy video game, even though he ended it with LOL and JK to show that he was joking. Big Brother is not only watching us, he's taking prisoners.

There is another possibility that the government uses all this information to finance its surveillance programs. Insider trading is illegal but imagine being able to listen in to all corporate meetings and examine all the CEO's emails and texts without their knowledge. Potential merger information could lead to profitable investments and no one would be the wiser or subject to SEC regulations. Wonder what Martha Stewart thinks about this.

As details of the NSA spying emerge, Democrats in Congress and liberals in the media are quick to suggest that this kind of surveillance has been around for decades and that Bush was responsible for the passage of the Patriot Act which legalizes it. There is an enormous difference which these sycophants ignore. The data gathered in the previous administration was targeting foreign terrorists not Americans in this country. It certainly did not target political opponents or Democrats would never have been able to gain so much power in 2007 when they took over Congress.

Was the surveillance and data gathering responsible for the dismantling of Republican campaigns? How come Herman Cain's campaign ground to a halt because of scurrilous unfounded charges that erupted mid-campaign? Mitt Romney's donors were easily identified and had the IRS to deal with and this harassment possibly affected the campaign's funding. What made it so easy for the IRS to target conservatives? It couldn't have just been the name of the organization but rather the data compiled on it by the surveillance machine. Did the data uncover the Petraeus adultery that made him ineffective in Benghazi? Remember Congressman Mark Foley whose embarrassing emails to a page destroyed his career in 2006? This snooping, however, never seems to turn up radical Islamists in the Muslim community or sleeper cells here.

The bigger question is what are we going to do about this information considering that the chief law enforcement official, Attorney General, Eric Holder, has not had the country's best interest at heart? In spite of the ongoing scandals, no upper level officials have been charged or even fired. The administration has been claiming that these data collection programs have been responsible for thwarting terrorist attacks. That is a lie. Local law enforcement has played a bigger role in halting these attacks. Just check out the NYPD reports.

So is Edward Snowden a traitor or a hero? What I do know is that he's smart and the fact that he's been able to stay off this massive electronic grid is testament to that. Much debate has arisen as to why the government hasn't been able to catch him and I believe the answer to that is that the administration doesn't want him here. He has too much dirt on its activities. Maybe he even has the president's sealed academic records-jk.

Whatever Snowden's motives were in undertaking this undercover mission, he has certainly opened our eyes. I have a better understanding of those Americans who have opted out of the electronic era. I'm not quite ready to head for the hills like those recent survivalists but whenever I see an ad from a telecommunication giant touting how we can share our information with family and friends, I will be grateful to Snowden for letting us know who else is listening.

I'm not sure if Edward Snowden is a traitor but it's pretty clear that many in this administration deserve that description.

Alicia Colon resides in New York City and can be reached at aliciav.colon@gmail.com and at www.aliciacolon.com

The Tittering Greedy Ghouls In Pinstripes; And The Legacy Of Anglo Irish Bank

Charley's right... you can put a pig in a suit, but it is still a pig...

"All the criminals in their coats and their ties/Are free to sip Martinis and watch the sun rise."
- Bob Dylan, 'Hurricane'.

"Yea, from the table of my memory/ I'll wipe away all trivial fond records..."
- Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5.

By Charley Brady

Perhaps that's what our wretched, corrupt bankers should have done. Their sins and their thievery may not have been trivial, but perhaps they should have listened to the words of the Bard anyway. Perhaps they should have made sure that there was no evidence left; that it was all swept from the table of memory. After all, our ex-Taoiseach, the disgraced buffoon Brian Cowen seems to have kept no notes whatsoever on that fateful night of September 30th, 2008; that night on which the Government guaranteed the whole of the liabilities for the Irish banks. Well, guaranteed on the unwitting behalf of the saps of taxpayers.

It was a crisis and it all had to be done fast and we kept nothing on record, Your Honours; it was all just a touch of the verbals and a shake of the hand between gentlemen.

Gentlemen. They were some gentlemen, just the same. On the now-notorious Anglo Tapes that were released by the Irish Independent last week, these fine gentlemen spray the F-word around so much that it actually ceases to have any meaning whilst it operates as noun, verb, adjective and whatever you're having yourself; and all the while these fine, fine gentlemen aren't averse to throwing in the much harsher C-word as well. If you were ever one of those sad sacks--and there were plenty around--who thought that a well-cut pinstripe loaned to the wearer a little class, then you found out how wrong you were, once and for all.

You are all no doubt familiar with what was said at this stage, so I'll confine myself to one comment from the charming David Drumm:

"Yeah, and we'll be saying: 'Yeah because a stress, because HBOS were f****** sold and Lehman's were bust and f****** Bank of America took over Merrill's and other f****** non-normal things happened, you c***."

"All the criminals in their coats and their ties are free to sip martinis..." Something tells me that it's far from martinis that these boys were reared. If the Anglo Tapes, in which the likes of David Drumm (Anglo Chief Executive) and John Bowe ( Head of Capital Markets and Acting Director of Treasury) are heard mocking, ridiculing and sneering at both the Irish and the Germans, are anything to go by then our heads of banking were no more than bowzies and corner boys. You can put a pig in a suit but it will still be a pig

And I'll immediately withdraw that remark on the grounds that pigs are actually clean and useful animals. They would in no way wish their names to be tainted by association with Drumm and Bowe.

So yes, they should have made sure that there were no tapes left lying around with a police force that has become increasingly angry about the position that they have found themselves in, whereby they have not been allowed to make any headway in bringing these sods and the many others like them to justice, as much as I know that many want to. Considering that the Anglo Boys thought it was funny to contemptuously sing the Nazi-era national anthem I wonder if the irony has struck them yet that the Nazis also suffered from that sin of hubris that had them document and keep everything... something that they too came to regret.

So now the wailing and the gnashing of teeth has begun. Now up go the cries of anger that it could have come to this. How, cry the bar stool philosophers, how did they ever get so out-of-control?

And my answer is always the same: it came to this because we LET it come to this. It came to this because historically the Irish actually LIKE to be told what to do by people that they perceive to be their betters. For years it was the Church, until they blew that one. And then there were the politicians. You knew that they were 'pulling strokes' and you actually admired them for it--well, until it hit YOU in the pocket and then you changed your tune. You have always enjoyed doffing the cap to someone. The bankers? Well, look at the high-level job they have. They must be fierce intelligent altogether.

Now comes the regret that we have been embarrassed and shown up for what we are on the world stage. And isn't the timing just perfect: after years in a tea chest somewhere the Anglo Irish Bank Tapes are sent anonymously to Paul Williams of the Irish Independent--just as Dame Edna Kenny and Ireland finish their run with the Presidency of the EU. How upsetting for him. He spends time and throws away his dignity in order to suck up to Angela Merkel; then out of the blue, up reach the bony fingers of the past to upset her and make her wag her not-so-bony finger at us. Of course, some of you might call it unfortunate timing; me, I don't believe in coincidence.

I feel for people like my friend Paula, one of the many who work so enthusiastically in the Tourist Industry in order to keep visitors coming to this country. Yet whilst I do feel bad for her--and God knows she is beyond anger herself at this--I cannot in all honesty feel anything but absolute delight at the events of this week.

Do you think that makes me a lousy, vindictive person? Well, maybe it does. Winning popularity contests has never been all that high on my list of New Year resolutions. However, save your ire for the sniggering Ghouls in Pinstripes, the Demons in Neckties. They are the ones who are heard on tape showing us exactly what they think of us.

And if they were simply foul-mouthed, incompetent fools (which they surely are) then maybe--just maybe--we could laugh it off, say that we've been taken for a ride again and try to move on.

But it's not that simple: the ordinary Irish punter will be paying this off for decades. And these guffawing vermin have not only made us a laughing stock but have real blood on their hands.

People have died because of the behaviour of these unrepentant bastards, who are still out there living lives of luxury instead of slopping out in a jail cell. Real people--not sums in cyberspace that are so enormous that most of us can't get our heads around them--have seen their dreams crushed and their lives shattered. Real people have been driven to that most final and awful of solutions--suicide--because of the greed and venality of these bankers, mixed with the complicity and cowardice of our politicians. And now all that Enda Kenny and Fine Gael want to do is use it for point scoring against Fianna Fail.

Yes, you can be damned well sure that I am happy that we have been splashed over the newspapers on a global scale. Because you can be certain that if it was only upsetting the Irish peasants then even with THIS disgrace nothing would be done. We don't count, not in the slightest. This has upset the Germans though, so perhaps Kenny and Company might just have to be seen to do something now. And not the cursed 'parliamentary inquiry' that Kenny is hinting about. Jeez, 'Who Watches the Watchmen?' Is he having a laugh? Have this investigated by politicians that I wouldn't trust to locate their own enormous backsides in the dark? We need to bring in someone from outside for this one.

Personally I enjoy irony so I'd like to see Angela Merkel with the boots on and a scrotum-cruncher in hand whilst a naked David Drumm whimpers in the corner. Hell, let's be honest: I'm past expecting Justice; I just want Vengeance and Payback. And blood on the floor. Lots and lots of blood.

In fact I'm in solidarity with the German journalist who said that the bankers and selective politicians should be put in a sack and beaten until their screams can no longer be heard. That sounds good to me.

In the Beginning. Lest We Forget...

With all the emphasis on Drumm and his thug mates this week, I want to make sure that Sean FitzPatrick, that still-arrogant, still-preening, still-vulgar little slime ball who once was chairman of the bailed out Anglo Irish Bank, is not forgotten in all of this. Because he is still swanning back and forward to Marbella, Spain and is still living off the fat of his ill-gotten gains. I have been asking for five years now why no one is doing time for what they have done, starting with him.

At the beginning of January of 2009 I wrote a piece for the Irish Examiner USA entitled: DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE DISGRACED IRISH BANK CHIEF? I think that it's worth remembering the partial origins of this whole sorry affair so I'll repeat part of it here:

The old jokes have been refined:

Q: How do you save a bank senior executive from drowning?

A: Take your foot off his head.

Q: When you see a bank chairman coming towards you with half his head blown off, what do you do?

A: Reload.

I mean--seriously--when it comes to a toss-up between the likes of the head of Anglo Irish Bank Sean FitzPatrick, any of the other heads of banks and their close cousins the corrupt politicians, would you buy a used car from any of them? Would you even bother to spit on them if they were burning to death? I know I wouldn't. The ones that have been caught so far have lived with their loathsome snouts in the trough for years now and we're the dopes who are paying the penance for it. With glasses of champagne in hand and superior smirks on their loathsome, socialite faces they have consistently and as a matter of course looked down on the ordinary person. They have stolen from us and many of the smaller shareholders have been financially ruined because of what they have done. Along with them and our witless government they have ruined the economy. And don't give me any of that old get-out-of-jail-card-free claptrap about it being world-wide. I'm living HERE and they are two of the groups responsible for the down turn. Pensioners who were counting on their investment to ease their latter years now find themselves bewildered and confused at seeing the money that they had given in good faith being suddenly taken from them.

FitzPatrick is only one of many but for simplicity's sake let's stick with him for the moment. He grew from being an accountant to managing the small Anglo Irish in 1985 and then onto heading that same bank, which was by now worth 13 billion Euros. Amazingly, 80 per cent of his loans went to his cronies, the major property developers who at that time ran this corrupt little nation.

How many of these upstanding Captains of Industry benefited from that eighty per cent?

Twenty of them.

Bloody twenty! Think about that for a minute. Roll those figures around your head. His enormous property portfolio ultimately included five star hotels (but of course), medical software firms and an oil well in Nigeria. An oil well, for crying out loud! And that is to name only a very, very small amount of what he and another executive of the bank--Lar Bradshaw--had shares in or owned, some of them admittedly highly imaginative.

All of which allowed him, along with his cigar-smoking, top-of-the range car driving, Kristal-sipping buddies to swan around Dublin and the world.

Ah, lads! You and I don't know how to live at all, at all!

But wait! There was something rotten going on under the civilized façade of Anglo Irish Bank. You see, it turns out that old Seanie-Boy's bank and foreign properties and Las Vegas Irish bar and all the rest of them were built on a foundation of sand.

The shareholders didn't know, of course. Why would they? They were only the saps who were financing the luxury that these boyos enjoyed. But FitzPatrick had borrowed 84 million Euros from the lender and used it to buy shares in Anglo Irish. In fact altogether he got 129 million Euros. Give the man his due though: he did disclose a whole 7 million of that to his hapless shareholders. He then managed to scrape up 45 million to at least pay off some of what he owed. Is your head spinning with incredulity yet? Well, between the jigs and the reels he ended up owing the aforementioned 84 million which was, as in some modern-day Grimm's fairy tale, never seen again. How did he get away with it, I hear you ask?

Simple. Every time an audit was about to be done he just up and transferred (as you do) his millions--well, technically his banks' millions, but don't confuse the issue--into another bank, Irish Nationwide. He was helped in this by the aptly named Michael "Fingers" Fingleton, another God to the bankers of Ireland. Genius, really.

Mind you, it says a lot for the auditors that this went on for YEARS without them saying "Hey, guys wait a minute. Look at this..."

This happy and heart-warming tale of simple Irish millionaires who only wanted their time in the sun and never mind that it involved risking the money of ordinary shareholders, had to come to end. And for a few at least, it has.

As the famous Celtic Tiger lay gasping its last breath and its cubs began to run for cover and FitzPatrick and his developer friends, who now owed the bank 70 billion watched in horror as their properties plummeted into oblivion, the game was up.

Which is why the astonishing decision was taken last week by our leaders Brian Cowan and Brian Lenihan, on behalf of the Fianna Failures, to nationalise the bank. Ah, well. I guess the taxpayer, who sees more of his jobs go now on a daily basis, gets to be "patriotic" once again on behalf of the super- rich.

This is the kind of shady skullduggery that the Celtic Tiger was whelped on. Screw the small guy and bail out the Players.

Hell, at the very moment that the government was trying to think of a way to bail out the banks--all the banks--Sean FitzPatrick was shamelessly buying up 290,000 more shares and making a cool 12 million out of it.

You know, I always refer to that great scene in Roman Polanski's sublime piece of cinema "Chinatown", where Jack Nicholson's private detective asks the venal creature played by John Huston when enough is enough. "How many houses can you live in?" he wonders. "How many lobster dinners can you eat?"

Ah, but FitzPatrick and the rest of them are going to jail, I hear you say. Sorry, friends. You're confusing America with the banana republic that I live in. Forget about the small shareholder who has lost all of his money and is now ruined.

Nobody will be going to jail. Nobody.

And you wonder why they hold us in total contempt.

Back to the Present

That was written over four-and-a-half years ago; and week after week I continued to ask when we were going to see somebody in jail. And week after week I had the Usual Suspects castigate me for going "over the top". (I doubt that will happen this time around.) On one memorable occasion a certain banker, during a heated argument in Dublin, told me that I was "ignorant, venomous and uneducated". Well, I will certainly put my hands up to the middle charge but as to uneducated? If these guys were educated then they didn't really put their education to much use, now did they?

And now we're supposed to believe that no one knew about the tapes. Pull the other leg; it's got Alan Shatter on the end of it. Our intrepid Minister for Justice is one of the majority who knew nothing. The same fella who knows what motoring penalty points are being dished out countrywide knew nothing about these tapes. In fact he's "nauseated". If it weren't so serious it would almost be funny.

I am way over time this week and there is so much more to say. However, I'm pretty sure that this one won't be going anywhere so we'll probably be taking it up next week. I haven't even had a chance to touch on my old nemesis Michael Lowry.

It shouldn't be long now until we get some interesting tapes from the OTHER banks involved. And I don't doubt that there are some highly embarrassing--oh please yes!yes!yes! I'm having an orgasm--tapes that will show our beloved elected representatives in a... unusual and compromised light.

Oh and by the way, the Director of Public Prosecutions has cautioned the Irish Independent newspaper and 'suggested' that it scale back on its coverage of the Tapes. That sounds about right: give them enough time and they'll somehow manage to pin this mess on troublemaking Irish journalists. It wasn't the fault of the bankers or politicians at all. Shoot the messenger.

You can email me at chasbrady7@eircom.net or check out my blog on www.charleybrady.com

Lions Concede Late Converted Try, Wallabies Tie The Series

Australia's Adam Ashley-Cooper scores the winning try (INPHO)

Christian Leali'ifano coolly converted Adam Ashley-Cooper's late try as Australia struck back to level the series in a nail-biting second Test against the British & Irish Lions.

The Wallabies bossed an attritional second half during which the Lions lost captain Sam Warburton to a hamstring injury, as the tourists tried desperately to hold onto a narrow six-point lead.

Ireland's Conor Murray and Sean O'Brien were both brought on from the bench with the Lions 15-9 to the good thanks to five Leigh Halfpenny penalties from six attempts.

Halfpenny's opening effort of the night came back off the crossbar and that was to prove a crucial miss in the end as Australia conjured up the match-winning try and conversion.

Adam Ashley-Cooper slipped through Jonathan Davies' tackle to touch down out wide in the 75th minute, and his centre partner Christian Leali'ifano - in only his second Test appearance - curled over the all-important conversion to make it one-all in the Test series.

The Wallabies did have to endure a nervy finish as Halfpenny tried his luck from a monster 53-metre penalty, but the Welsh kicking star's attempt fell short to leave a final showdown in Sydney to decide the series winners.

It was a gritty and deserved victory for Robbie Deans' side as the Lions were disappointing overall and never looked like scoring a try, with Halfpenny's right boot proving to be their only real weapon.

The Lions probed in the opening two minutes, Brian O'Driscoll using turnover ball to dink a kick towards the right corner and hooker Tom Youngs tried a one-two at a lineout.

Kurtley Beale, the man who missed the two late penalties in the first Test, rose well to claim a high ball but a tigerish tackle from O'Driscoll on Ashley-Cooper and pressure from Warburton on Michael Hooper yielded a kickable penalty.

Halfpenny's well-struck kick from just inside the Australian pack came back off the crossbar, but the Wallabies soon leaked a third penalty as the Lions powered through from a muscular lineout maul.

The penalty kick was turned down in favour of another maul drive and after the Australians infringed once more, Halfpenny was called upon to open the scoring from 30 metres out.

The hosts enjoyed a good spell of continuity in response, Beale hanging up a cross-field kick for Israel Folau to gather over George North with the Lions scrambling to defend.

Ben Alexander won a scrum decision over Mako Vunipola, allowing Leali'ifano to slot over a levelling 28-metre kick, as the Australian pack gained some early confidence in the set piece.

A couple of errors from the Lions, with Jonathan Sexton failing to find touch from a penalty, invited the Wallabies forward again and they won a second scrum penalty from Vunipola.

Leali'ifano nailed the 43-metre effort from the right to make it 6-3, but Australia collapsed the very next scrum as the Lions forwards got back on track.

The resulting kick from almost 50 metres out was thumped through the uprights by Halfpenny and although Joe Tomane was whistled up for obstructing the onrushing Tommy Bowe, the Lions blundered at the ensuing lineout.

Seven minutes before the break, the Lions got another scrum decision as they drove the Wallabies backwards and Halfpenny mopped up with the three points in typical style.

Leali'ifano, showing plenty of composure from the kicking tee, then equalised with the boot after Dan Lydiate shot out of the defensive line too quickly.

Australia ended the first half with 63% possession, but the Lions - with North reaching an up-and-under from Halfpenny at the second attempt - had the final say before the interval.

Jamie Heaslip, who had a big presence around the pitch, carried well into the 22 and a penalty was forced at the ruck which saw Halfpenny edge the tourists back in front at 12-9.

It was a cagey start to the second period before Australia tapped a penalty and unleashed Leali'ifano on the left, with Lions skipper Warburton doing well to bring down the big centre.

Warburton came up with a vital turnover and a breathless spell, sparked by a loose O'Driscoll pass, saw the Wallabies look dangerous from deep with Folau and Ashley-Cooper threatening.

Murray, sprung from the bench for Ben Youngs, made an immediate impression as he got over a ruck ball to win a relieving penalty as Australia were unable to turn pressure into points.

Murray was then first to a loose ball to hack downfield and give his forwards a precious break in the suffocating atmosphere, and the stunning sight of North lifting Folau off his feet as he powered into contact provided one of the iconic images of the 2013 tour.

The match ebbed back in the Lions' favour just past the hour mark when replacements Dan Cole and Richard Hibbard reignited the scrum and with Sekope Kepu infringing, Halfpenny stepped up to brilliantly hammer home his fifth successful penalty.

It set up a riveting conclusion and there was a sense that the next score could decide the series with Warren Gatland's men six points clear and Australia needing a converted try to overhaul them.

The sides played out an attritional final quarter during which Warburton had to be helped off. The influence of Heaslip, who was replaced by O'Brien, and the injured Paul O'Connell was really needed as the Wallabies forced the Lions' tackle count into three figures.

The Lions were unable to build many phases when they got their hands on the ball either, coughing up soft penalties as they were isolated on the deck by Hooper and company.

It ruined some good work from the likes of Bowe who did well to retrieve a high ball from Sexton, and the fit-again Ulster winger had to make an important tackle on Tomane after Beale had hung up a cross-field kick.

The hosts got the powerful Folau on the ball, trying to catapult him through gaps as they pressed the Lions defence again and again.

The defensive workload was beginning to hurt the Lions and Australian captain James Horwill went for the jugular when turning down a kickable penalty with less than 10 minutes to go.

It proved to be the correct decision as Australia maintained their presence in the Lions' 22 and passed to the left where James O'Connor sent Ashley-Cooper crashing over past Davies for the only try of a very tense affair.

Leali'ifano delighted the home support by adding the extras to send the Wallabies in front for the first time since the 24 minutes.

But Will Genia erred as he passed the ball back into the 22 from the restart, with O'Connor kicking straight into touch to hand the Lions a lineout in an advanced position with pnly two minutes left.

Crucially, the Lions could not win Hibbard's throw with replacement Liam Gill gobbling it up on the ground just as Sexton licked his lips at the prospect of a drop goal attempt.

The Australian forwards controlled possession as they wound down the clock, although a late penalty allowed Murray to run from deep and O'Driscoll to get his legs pumping as the Lions scrambled to get back into kicking range.

They did get one last opportunity. Australia offered up a long range penalty but Halfpenny's strike, amid huge drama, did not have the legs and the Lions' hunt for a first Test series win in 16 years moves on to Sydney.

Giving his reaction to the defeat afterwards, Brian O'Driscoll said: "Very disappointed, we weren't in control of the game but we were six points clear, that's a horrible margin as after a converted try you're behind.

"I had one loose kick that gave them a counter-attack option, but we weren't able to close it out. But it's not over, we've got a massive week to get ourselves ready for Sydney next Saturday. The momentum is with them, but we won't let that faze us. We've beaten them once."

Head coach Warren Gatland admitted: "It's just about game management. That's what Test match rugby is about - a couple of crucial lineouts, a couple of crucial turnovers and even when they made mistakes and the ref said, 'Advantage over', we haven't made the most if it.

"We were pretty comfortable at half-time but Australia never give up and it went their way. We weren't smart enough and didn't look after the ball well enough."

Ronnie McGinn's Poetry Page

If you have a poem you'd like to see published in The Irish Examiner then send it to:

The Poetry Corner
The Irish Examiner USA
1040 Jackson Avenue, Third Floor
Long Island City
NY 11101

or, preferably, you can email it direct to

If possible keep your poem to 20 lines. You may choose any subject you like, in any form you like as long as it's original. We look forward to hearing from you.

Once again as the fourth of July approaches I am reminded of a poem in the book 'My Road' by Marion Rose Horgan, from Cobh, Co. Cork, Ireland. If you haven't already got a copy, email me and I let you know where you can order one. It's a book well worth having and a keepsake you will always treasure.

Billy McCarthy a founder member of the Douglas Writers Group in Cork , who's first book "Barnetstown to Ballinglanna", a selection of short stories and poems taken from his earliest experiences in life to the present day, rekindled many a fond thought and lost memory in every reader, is the author of this week's poem.

Billy is a great exponent of traditional style writing and some of his poems have been set to music. In this poem he takes us back to Cork in the sunny long ago when St. Patrick Street in Cork City was the most romantic place in Ireland.

"Doing Pana"

I remember my first date in Pana by appointment at quarter past seven,
When I stepped off the bus at The Statue it seemed like I'd landed in Heaven.
I slipped her a wink - she responded, with a smile and we strolled hand-in-hand,
Down the length of the street and believe me, I felt like a prince of the land.

Scarce a word between us was uttered; sure it wasn't a time for small talk
We just window-shopped along Pana, on this beautiful night for a walk.
When the length of the street we had covered, as we crossed to the opposite side
With my arm round her waist for protection as the street was so terribly wide.

We continued our promenade northward at a pace so romantically slow,
Sure this was the way we did Pana in those carefree days long ago.
Then a stop at The Old Bridge was standard, for a mug of tea and a bun.
And many a friendship was made here and many a romance begun.

Up one side and down by the other was the custom we knew at the time,
As our parents had done so before us, and for them just like us 'twas sublime.
We were hardly aware of the traffic, or others who passed by the way,
For we only had eyes for each other, and we kept thoughts of others at bay.

Then 'twas great as we passed the Lee corner and the fellas would stand and they'd stare,
I could see they were all green with envy, while me, sure I hadn't a care,
As I knew we were only repeating what others enacted before,
And I couldn't care less so I said to herself "let's go 'round and do Pana once more".

Yes, that was the custom in those days; entertainment being scarce at the time,
And a walk in the moonlight was heaven for us in the peak of our prime.
Though you'd see older folk promenading, her arm linked in his as they strolled,
And you'd think to yourself sure when all's said and done it's not really so bad being old.

Now time is a great educator, so enjoy what you're handed in life,
Yes, the girl that I met at The Statue became my adorable wife.
As we bring up four children together without any bother or fuss,
We hope that they'll follow tradition and continue doing Pana like us.

Well, we still like to stroll out together, around by The Lough is our beat,
And sometimes we'd do The Marina, such a colourful, peaceful retreat.
Then often she'd make a suggestion to visit another terrain,
And we'd take the bus into The Statue, and go back doing Pana again.

© Billy McCarthy

375k in new funding to support aviation sector in Ireland - Minister Bruton

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, launched the new Enterprise Ireland €375K Competitive Feasibility Fund on Monday, aimed at stimulating new start-ups, or expansion of existing business activity in the aviation sector.

This fund, which can provide up to €25,000 per project, is now open for applications, and will remain open until Monday 16 September 2013.

The announcement marks the delivery of a key measure under the Government's Action Plan for Jobs, and is aimed at meeting the needs of the aviation industry and supporting the growth of international aviation companies in Ireland.

This initiative also follows on the Government's publication of the 'Shannon Aviation Business Development Task Force Final Report' which is focussed on building an environment which will encourage and support entrepreneurship and business expansion in the aviation sector.

The Competitive Feasibility Fund will support new start up companies or individual entrepreneurs to investigate the viability of a new significant growth oriented business or proposition in the aviation sector. It will also support established companies or groups of businesses to examine the potential for expansion, diversification or spinning out of a new enterprise in the industry.

The funding will enable the promoters to reach firm conclusions regarding the project's viability and strategies for developing and commercialising the innovative product or service on international markets.

The fund is open to applications from the Aviation Sector including financial services associated with the sector, Aircraft and Engine leasing, Aviation software and IT, Training, Travel related software and related services, Small Aircraft Assembly, Aircraft Dismantle, Maintenance Repair Operations Airframe and Components, Composite Repair, Parts Manufacture, Aviation Services, and other engineering and technical activities.

Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said: "A key part of the Government's Action Plan for Jobs is targeting specific sectors where we have established strengths, and supporting growth and expansion in those areas in order to create jobs.

"Aviation is one such sector - we already have in place a world-class aviation ecosystem, which offers tremendous potential for new and exciting businesses to carve out opportunities for innovative products and services.

In particular, as part of our plans for the Shannon region, we are targeting the establishment of an international aviation centre of excellence to support growth and jobs in the region.

"Today's announcement of a new €375,000 Enterprise Ireland Competitive Feasibility Fund is a part of this plan, and will help provide support to innovative companies seeking to grow and create jobs in the sector".

Aer Lingus Expands Transatlantic Routes

Christoph Mueller, Chief Executive, Aer Lingus, said: "Our transatlantic business goes from strength to strength." (Photocall)

Aer Lingus have announced a significant expansion to its transatlantic route offering for 2014.

In addition to existing services to Boston, Chicago, New York and Orlando, Aer Lingus will commence a year-round direct service between Dublin and San Francisco from March 2014, with five services per week being operated by Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft.

Aer Lingus will also commence a direct year-round service to Canada.

A daily direct Boeing 757 service between Dublin and Toronto will operate during the summer season, with up to four weekly services operating during the Winter.

A further two Boeing 757 aircraft will be based in Shannon and will be used to deliver increased frequency on existing services to Boston and New York.

Year-round connections from Shannon to the East Coast of the United States will be introduced.

This expansion is being facilitated through the damp lease of three Boeing 757 aircraft from ASL Aviation Group. An A330 aircraft currently based in Shannon will be redeployed to operate the new Dublin to San Francisco service.

Christoph Mueller, Chief Executive, Aer Lingus, said: "Our transatlantic business goes from strength to strength. This expansion is extremely positive news for Aer Lingus and for the broader economy in terms of business, tourism and employment.

"Our transatlantic capacity will increase by 24% in 2014, following on from the 13% additional capacity in our 2013 transatlantic schedule. Very importantly, this expansion will directly support more than 200 new jobs within Aer Lingus and our partner airline ASL Aviation Group".



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