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Monday, July 16, 2012
Mitchell banking on report
About 100,000 adults do not have bank accounts in Ireland, and this has put them at a serious disadvantage, according to the Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell.
He has co-authored a report on access to basic banking services adopted by the European Parliament. And while credit unions have acted as the poor man’s bank in Ireland, it does not provide electronic banking.
And with welfare payments paid directly in cash through the local post office, there has been even less incentive for Irish people to open bank accounts, he pointed out.
Thanks to his report, the MEPs have demanded that the European Commission produce legislation to ensure access to basic banking services for all.
Religion seems to be a predominantly male thing.
For the past five years religious leaders have trooped onto the podium in the European Commission’s press room to tell of their high level meetings with the various EU presidents.
This year they were a little more gender conscious, with five women among 24 representatives. You could not accuse them of being at the cutting edge of power. Apart from the Hindu woman, they were in the softer end of the business — youth, women groups and the Bahá’í. At 20%, though, they had a higher percentage of seats than women in the Dáil. !
EU to take on cyber criminals
More than 1m people a day become victims of cyber crime and a staggering number of them appear to be in Ireland.
A recent survey found one in 10 Irish internet users say they have had their identity stolen.
But never fear, the EU is here and proposes setting up a cybercrime centre to protect citizens and businesses.
It will focus on organised crime that targets bank accounts, e-banking and credit cards; protect social network profiles from infiltration and fight identity theft, child sexual exploitation and attacks on information systems.
Return to sender
Buying online is great, until you get something you don’t want.
Sending it back may not be the answer. Apart from cost, there can be a language issue and going to court can be out of the question, says MEP Seán Kelly. Two ways of sorting it out have been agreed by the European Parliament, the first involving an ombudsman and the second a free interactive website in all EU languages.
Euro envisions euTunes service
Ever wondered why there is no EU iTunes to download music from in a quick, easy, and cheap fashion?
It’s probably because the 250 collecting societies across the union are not up to the job. They collect around €6bn a year in royalties to distribute to the rightholders, mostly of music but also of books and films.
But when it comes to giving licenses to online music service providers for downloading or streaming, it doesn’t make sense for them to deal with 250 bodies, many of whom have proved to be incompetent and have lost their members’ money.
New easier music licensing proposals aim to resolve these problems — and perhaps create euTunes.
Dangerous below-par medicines
Medicines to fight malaria, TB, and other infections in the Third World may be making the disease worse. Two studies show up to 13% of drugs approved by the World Health Organisation failed quality tests when collected and tested in countries like Ghana, Lagos, and Nigeria. Shoddy manufacturing of the medicines — many from China — is creating substandard drugs with too little of the active ingredient in 8% of those tested.
Not only does this result in patients not recovering, under-dosing creates drug resistance with the parasites or bacteria that survive, mutating and evolving into more resilient strains.
The WHO does not have the funds to test all drugs after manufacture but Roger Bate, who led one study, says companies should lose their WHO pre-qualification status if they have three drug failures.
Bishops bash pact on domestic violence
Once upon a time the Catholic bishops objected to free state health care for mothers and their babies — it was state interference in the family, they said.
That was a long time ago, but Poland is having its own battle that is somewhat similar now.
There, Catholic bishops have criticised the government for signing the Council of Europe’s 2011 convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
They say it’s interfering with the natural institution of marriage. According to Gazeta Wyborcza, the bishops say violence only takes place among unmarried couples, and not within the bonds of holy wedlock. The wages of sin, it appears, is a beating. For women at any rate. Put down that crozier!
Britain goes out on a limb
Britain isolating itself more and more from the EU is nothing new, a cursory glance at votewatch.eu will show.
The votes by ministers on almost all issues is way out of kilter with the rest of the EU — none more so than Ireland.
In all policy areas, Ireland’s vote coincided most with Cyprus, Lithuania, Greece, and France, and least with Austria, Germany, and especially Britain.
The only topic we were closest to our nearest neighbour on was civil liberties, justice, and home affairs. This, no doubt the Department of Justice would point out, is due to our common legal heritage.
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