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August 15, 2007

PSNI Decommissions Land Rovers

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 08/15/07 PSNI Plans To Decimate Vehicle Fleet
BB 08/15/07 Wikipedia 'Shows CIA Page Edits'
DJ 08/15/07 Firefighters Endure Further Attacks By Youths
SF 08/15/07 Attacks On Fire Service Have To Stop
RT 08/15/07 E. Coli Contaminates Swords Water
BN 08/15/07 Leaving Cert Grades Down In Irish And Maths
IT 08/16/07 Oaks Planted In Glendalough Renew Irish-Viking Links


PSNI Plans To Decimate Vehicle Fleet

The PSNI has been warned not to cut patrol cars after senior
officers said they wanted to axe 10 per cent of their fleet.

Some armoured Land Rovers face being decommissioned as the level
of paramilitary threat diminishes.

Managers believe their vehicles are under-used and want
reductions over the next three years with more so-called softskin

Policing Board member Jeffrey Donaldson said members would be
looking very closely at any proposals following the PSNI review.

"Whilst I recognise that the chief constable and his colleagues
have to look at how they make the best use of their resources, at
the same time the visibility of policing on the ground is
important,. particularly in rural areas where there's no other
way to patrol," the DUP MP for Lagan Valley said. "It is
essential that this in no way reduces the ability of the police
to maintain a high-profile presence across all communities."

There has been a large reduction in the number of police officers
following the severance programme ordered by the 1999 Patten
Report. A total of 320 vehicles, many deteriorating through age,
are to be taken from the pool of 3,200.

A PSNI spokesman said vehicles being eliminated had not yet been
identified. "As 'normalisation' progresses there has been a
change in direction for vehicles moving from armoured to softskin
and the development of vehicles suited to single officer
patrolling," he said.

"As the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and formerly the
Royal Ulster Constabulary, has seen a large reduction in
officers, it is considered good practice to identify those
vehicles which are unsuitable, not necessary or are not cost
effective due to age or state of repair.

"Following the completion of a benchmarking exercise, the Police
Service of Northern Ireland vehicle numbers are high, and average
mileage low, when compared to other Police Services in the UK."



Wikipedia 'Shows CIA Page Edits'

By Jonathan Fildes
Science and technology reporter, BBC News

An online tool that claims to reveal the identity of
organisations that edit Wikipedia pages has revealed that the CIA
was involved in editing entries.

Wikipedia Scanner allegedly shows that workers on the agency's
computers made edits to the page of Iran's president.

It also purportedly shows that the Vatican has edited entries
about Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

The tool, developed by US researchers, trawls a list of 5.3m
edits and matches them to the net address of the editor.

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia that can be created and
edited by anyone.

Most of the edits detected by the scanner correct spelling
mistakes or factual inaccuracies in profiles. However, others
have been used to remove potentially damaging material or to
deface sites.

Mistaken identity

On the profile of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the tool
indicates that a worker on the CIA network reportedly added the
exclamation "Wahhhhhh!" before a section on the leader's plans
for his presidency.

A warning on the profile of the anonymous editor reads: "You have
recently vandalised a Wikipedia article, and you are now being
asked to stop this type of behaviour."

Other changes that have been made are more innocuous, and include
tweaks to the profile of former CIA chief Porter Goss and
celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey.

When asked whether it could confirm whether the changes had been
made by a person using a CIA computer, an agency spokesperson
responded: "I cannot confirm that the traffic you cite came from
agency computers.

"I'd like in any case to underscore a far larger and more
significant point that no one should doubt or forget: The CIA has
a vital mission in protecting the United States, and the focus of
this agency is there, on that decisive work."

Radio change

The site also indicates that a computer owned by the US
Democratic Party was used to make changes to the site of right-
wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

The changes brand Mr Limbaugh as "idiotic," a "racist", and a
"bigot". An entry about his audience now reads: "Most of them are
legally retarded."

We really value transparency and the scanner really takes this
to another level

Wikipedia spokesperson

The IP address is registered in the name of the Democratic
National Headquarters.

A spokesperson for the Democratic Party said that the changes had
not been made on its computers. Instead, they said that the "IP
address is the same as the DCCC".

The DCCC, or Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is the
"official campaign arm of the Democrats" in the House of
Representatives and shares a building with the party.

"We don't condone these sorts of activities and we take every
precaution to ensure that our network is used in a responsible
manner," Doug Thornell of the DCCC told the BBC News website.

Mr Thornell pointed out that the edit had been made "close to two
years ago" and it was "impossible to know" who had done it.

Voting issue

The site also indicates that Vatican computers were used to
remove content from a page about the leader of the Irish
republican party Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams.

The edit removed links to newspaper stories written in 2006 that
alleged that Mr Adams' fingerprints and handprints were found on
a car used during a double murder in 1971.

The section, titled "Fresh murder question raised" is no longer
available through the online encyclopaedia.

Wikipedia Scanner also points the finger at commercial
organisations that have modified entries about the pages.

One in particular is Diebold, the company that supplied
electronic voting machines for the controversial US election in

In October 2005, a person using a Diebold computer removed
paragraphs about Walden O'Dell, chief executive of the company,
which revealed that he had been "a top fund-raiser" for George

A month later, other paragraphs and links to stories about the
alleged rigging of the 2000 election were also removed.

The paragraphs and links have since been reinstated.

Diebold officials have not responded to requests by the BBC for
information about the changes.

Web history

The Wikipedia Scanner results are not the first time that people
have been uncovered editing their own Wikipedia entries.

Earlier this year, Microsoft was revealed to have offered money
to experts to trawl through entries about the company and its
products to make corrections.

Staff at the US Congress have also previously been exposed for
editing and removing sensitive information about politicians.

An inquiry was launched after staff for Democratic representative
Marty Meehan admitted polishing his biography

The new tool was built by Virgil Griffith of the California
Institute of Technology.

It exploits the open nature of Wikipedia, which already collects
the net address or username of editors and tracks all changes to
a page. The information can be accessed in the "history" tab at
the top of a Wikipedia page.

By merging this information with a database of IP address owners,
Wikipedia Scanner is able to put a name to the organisation and
firms from which edits are made.

The scanner cannot identify the individuals editing articles,
admits Mr Griffith.

"Technically, we don't know whether it came from an agent of that
company, however, we do know that edit came from someone with
access to their network," he wrote on the Wikipedia Scanner site.

A spokesperson for Wikipedia said the tool helped prevent
conflicts of interest.

"We really value transparency and the scanner really takes this
to another level," they said.

"Wikipedia Scanner may prevent an organisation or individuals
from editing articles that they're really not supposed to."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/08/15 17:46:28 GMT


Exasperated Firefighters Endure Further Attacks By Youths

A SHOWER of stones, bottles and other missiles rained down on a
Derry fire crew last night in an attack by youths.

While attending an incident on Lenamore Road on the Shantallow
estate, firefighters were confronted with a number of young
people throwing 'whatever they could get their hands on.'

In a second attack on Monday night in Galliagh, a firefighter was
injured by a missile while attending another incident.

Paul Coyle, station commander at Crescent Link Fire Station, said
dangerous attacks such as these had a knock-on effect for crews
throughout the city.

He appealed to community leaders to exert their influence and
reminded them to keep areas secure at bonfires which are expected
to be lit all over the city tonight.

Mr Coyle said: "On Monday we attended an incident in Galliagh at
Skeoge Industrial Park and came under attack from a number of
children and youths who were throwing stones and bottles and
whatever missiles they could get their hands on.

"One of them struck a firefighter and really it was just down to
his equipment that he wasn't seriously injured.

"He didn't need any medical treatment but that is not to say that
it wouldn't have happened.

"Incidents such as this impact the entire service because if we
have people injured who have to come off duty, that can impact on
the valuable work that we do in the community.

"We need a minimal number of personnel and if we have people
injured they are not fit for duty. We need to try and cover the
shortfall which can impact on the firefighter response because we
have to wait for support from elsewhere."

Mr Coyle said firefighters were also attacked when they attended
an incident at Lenamore Road last night (Tuesday) with youths
throwing stones and bottles.

He said: "People from the community who are attacking
firefighters are not only causing damage and potential injury,
but they are affecting the service we provide to the community.

"They are only damaging themselves."

Mr Coyle said deliberate fires, such as the one at Limavady Road
last night (Tuesday), were also a danger to firefighters and
affected response times elsewhere, and he appealed to the
community to help them.

He said: "We want to appeal to those in the community that are
able to exert influence on young people to intervene and stop
them and also to property developers to make sure their
properties are secure.

"We are hoping that people will take charge of what is going to
happen tonight and take responsibility for people in the area.

"We would encourage community involvement to ensure that these
type of attacks are stopped."


Attacks On Fire Service Have To Stop

Published: 15 August, 2007

Sinn Féin Councillor for the greater Shantallow area Tony Hassan
has condemned those involved in several attacks on the Fires
services in the area in the past week.

Councillor Hassan said

"Over the past week there has been number of the attacks on the
local Fire Service, the latest being at the Lenamore Business
Park .These attacks have to stop ,they serve no purpose what so
ever and could have led to serious injury.

"It is the support of the local community that is vital in
putting the message out that these attacks will only have a
detrimental effect on this area and the people involved should be
made aware of the potential consequences that these attacks could

"On behalf of the local community I would like to take this
opportunity to commend the Fire Service for the great work that
they do. I would also call on all the residents, especially
parents to do what they can to both educate the young people
involved in these attacks and to be vigilant to ensure that these
attacks do not happen again." ENDS


E. Coli Contaminates Swords Water

Wednesday, 15 August 2007 20:02

Tankers of water are being made available to households in an
area of Swords in north Dublin following a warning that the
supply has been contaminated by Escherichia coli.

Fingal County Council issued a public alert about the water to
160 homes in the Knocksedan Estate last week.

Residents in the area have been advised not to use tap water for
brushing teeth, preparing food or bathing children.

Fingal County Council is still working to identify
the source of the contamination. But Green Party Councillor Joe
Corr said that a water mains pipe was breached last week and the
supply was contaminated, probably by agriculture run-off.

That breach has been isolated and repaired, according to Cllr
Corr, and the Council is now conducting tests to ensure that the
water supply gets back to normal in the next few days.


Leaving Cert Grades Down In Irish And Maths

15/08/2007 - 07:18:07

Grades have continued to slip in higher level Irish and maths
subjects, this year's Leaving Cert results show today.

The long wait ends this morning for almost 54,000 anxious
students as they receive their results at their schools, online
or by telephone.

But the statistics show that declining numbers of students are
taking higher level Irish and maths and that the number of A1
grades in Irish has slipped by a full 1% since 2005.

Grades in maths recovered slightly since last year but are still
0.7% down on 2005 figures.

A total of 327 (3.9%) higher level maths students failed the
subject this year while the equivalent figure for Irish was 138.

The number of A2, B1 and B2 grades in higher level Irish also
fell slightly on 2006.

Elsewhere a breakdown of the overall results in other subjects
shows trends are broadly consistent with last year.

Education minister Mary Hanafin and the State Examinations
Commission (SEC) today congratulated students on their
performances and wished them well in the future.

Ms Hanafin added: "Look at all the options and career paths that
are open and the variety of ways to gain additional academic
credits which could lead you to your chosen career path in the

SEC chairman Richard Langford said: "Receiving these results is a
milestone in life and students should take pride in their
personal achievements."

A total of 53,926 who sat the Leaving Cert exams, which is less
than half of 1% down on 2006, and Mr Langford paid tribute to
examiners, superintendents, principals and teachers for the
smooth running of the exams.

Mr Hanafin advised students that there were many education and
training opportunities available outside the Central Applications
Office (CAO) system.

She added: "I hope that students getting their results celebrate
with their family and friends in a sensible way and enjoy their
achievement while not putting themselves or others at any risk."

The Samaritans said that young people shouldn't be made to feel
their whole life hangs in the balance based on their exam

"Parents, teachers and friends need to help them take a step back
today and remember life doesn't stop," a spokesman said.

"There are lots of options available to help them make a positive
start to the next phase of their life, whatever that piece of
paper says."

Students can access their results from midday online at or by telephone on 1530 719 290 in the
Republic of Ireland or 00 353 1 6885312 outside the state.

If candidates want to view their exam scripts they must apply to
the SEC by August 21.

Students will be able to access the CAO online at from
6am on Monday to view their third level offers and apply for

The National Parents' Council (Post Primary) student helpline is
at 1800 265 165.

The Samaritans can be contacted on 1850 60 90 90, (08457 90 90 90
in NI) for the price of a local call or email:

Fine Gael pointed to the stagnant levels of students taking
maths, chemistry and physics compared to other increasingly
popular subjects like biology.

"It is clear that the physical sciences are continuing to be
squeezed out of the senior cycle, a reality that has been obvious
for many years but which the Government has singularly failed to
tackle," said Opposition education spokeswoman Olwyn Enright.

She added: "In addition, the failure rates for both Higher and
Ordinary Level maths have risen. Once again close to 12% of
students attempting the Ordinary Level paper have not passed."

The Offaly TD called on the Government to bring science
participation at Junior Certificate level up to 100% and to
ensure that all second-level schools offer the full range of
science subjects to Leaving Certificate.

"Once again, the Leaving Certificate results have exposed the
soft underbelly of Ireland's supposed move towards a 'knowledge

"The figures speak for themselves, and show that the Government
remains blind to the need for reform in how key subjects are
taught and examined."


Oaks Planted In Glendalough Renew Irish-Viking Links

Bríd Higgins Ní Chinnéide

Thu, Aug 16, 2007

A group of visiting Danes joined with Irish friends to plant a
new copse of oak trees in the ruins of Glendalough monastery, Co
Wicklow, yesterday. The new trees symbolically replace those used
by their Viking predecessors to build the Skuldelev 2 in 1042.

The captain and crew of the reconstructed longship, Sea Stallion
of Glendalough, joined Minister for the Environment John Gormley,
Minister of State for Finance Noel Ahern, Danish minister for
culture Brian Mikkelsen and a host of other dignitaries and
visitors to plant a copse of 21 Sessile oaks beside the round

Manager of the Glendalough Visitor Centre George McClafferty took
the visitors on a tour of the monastery and even dispelled a few
myths about how the Vikings were received there before. "We were
all taught at school that the doors of the round tower were high
off the ground so that monks could escape from the Vikings, but
in fact it was a safe place to store valuable things," he said.

The Danish minister was also eager to restore the good name of
the Vikings. "They were foremost traders rather than raiders,"
said Mr Mikkelsen, "but of course there were some bad guys too!"

Rain held off for the symbolic ceremony and the crowd cheered for
each new tree. "I hope you will be part of a new Viking ship of
Glendalough," said Harry Carstensen, the Sea Stallion's oldest
crew member, to the quivering sapling he had planted.

Mr Gormley said that the voyage of the Sea Stallion had
strengthened relations between Ireland and Denmark. "It's great
to bring two cultures here together today in this beautiful
location," he said.

Director of the Roskilde Viking Museum Tinna Damgård-Sørensen
said archaeologists had identified from tree rings that the
Skuldelev2 had been made from wood from the Dublin area, and
Glendalough had been chosen as its symbolic origin because of the
recorded Viking presence at the site. Carsten Hvid, captain of
the Sea Stallion, said that his crew were pleased to visit the
namesake of the ship which had brought them 1,000 nautical miles
from Roskilde. "It's such a powerful place," he said.

© 2007 The Irish Times

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