Feck.

As counting wraps up on Monday, confusion reigns after Ireland’s general election failed to produce a clear winner. 

The Irish Times comments:

The obvious solution, at a time of partial economic recovery and worrying international developments, is the establishment of a government composed of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. That would provide the key requirement of stability and a prospect of economic continuity.

It would also bring political risks. Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny ruled out the proposition of a grand alliance during the election campaign and elements within both parties would probably resist it on cultural and historic grounds.

And if all that wasn’t bad enough,

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JOURNALISM / CULTURE

 

and, finally…

 

Fifa looks for a fresh start

Fifa is attempting to emerge from under the dusty cloak of the Sepp Blatter era with the election of a new President.

 

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WORLD

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JOURNALISM

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CULTURE

Finally..

 

 

 

BBC shaken by Savile inquiry report

Dame Janet Smith’s report into the BBC and the Jimmy Savile affair was published on Thursday. It makes difficult reading.

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WORLD

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CULTURE

Finally… ah well.

‘Trump train’ keeps rolling

Donald Trump completed a trifecta of early state victories last night, winning the Nevada GOP caucuses by a large margin. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz again fought it out for second place.

Interesting demographic data indicated that Trump won among Latinos and performed well with women voters.

and…

So now it’s on to the SEC Super Tuesday – including Texas – on March 1st and then key contests in Florida and Ohio on March 15th.

By then, it might be all over.

Syrian ‘truce’ could begin Friday

US and Russian negotiators announced a cessation of hostilities between “some” of the groups fighting in Syria which would come into effect on Friday. Al Jazeera reports that the agreement “calls on all sides to sign up to the agreement by midday on February 26 and to stop fighting by midnight,” But (and there’s always a but..)

Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays, reporting from New York, said some critics believed the timing of the deal would allow different sides in the conflict to push for more territory in the lead-up to the truce on Friday.

“Given everything that is happening in Syria, there is not a great deal of optimism about the proposed cessation of hostilities, particularly as many observers fear there will be an increase in the violence – with the warring sides trying to make gains in the days before it is due to start,” he said.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called a parliamentary election for April 13, according to an official statement.

 

 

Pound slides as EU uncertainty grips Britain

David Cameron will address MPs this afternoon on the negotiated changes to Britain’s terms of membership of the EU. As the sides continue to form up ahead of the in/out referendum planned for June 23, there is increasing speculation over Cameron’s own position as leader of his party – and Prime Minister – should the referendum vote go against him.

Meanwhile, the Pound is having its worst day since 2009.

 

Big wins for Trump, Clinton; Bush drops out

So picking a fight with the Pope didn’t seem to hurt.

Donald Trump claimed victory in the Republican primary in South Carolina, with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in a tight race for second place. A disappointing showing by Jeb Bush, meanwhile, led him to “suspend” his campaign, in what is – for now – the end of a political dynasty.

 

In Saturday’s Democratic caucuses in Nevada, Hillary Clinton bounced back from a heavy defeat to her only rival Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, with a comfortable win.

 

 

And we’re off…

Following the first meeting of the British cabinet to be held on a Saturday since the Falklands War, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the referendum on continued membership of the EU will be held on June 23rd.

Cameron will appear on the Andrew Marr show tomorrow to set out the terms of last night’s renegotiation of Britain’s role in the EU, and the implications for the nation’s sovereignty. He said in Brussels last night that he would now be campaigning “heart and soul” in favour of remaining in the alliance.

UKIP’s Nigel Farage, a fierce proponent of “Brexit” is also set to be on the show.

 

Among the British press, last night’s deal, which Cameron says gives Britain “special status” within the EU, was about as well-received as you’d expect, given their recent track record.

Says Roy Greenslade:

The Times’s response was scathing: “From the land of chocolate”, it said, Cameron “was always destined to bring back fudge.” It criticised every aspect of the deal, changing the metaphor to call the seven-year limit on Britain’s brake on migrants’ benefits “thin gruel.”

It argued that the reforms “amount to a rag-bag of adjustments that… are nowhere near the reformed union that the prime minister pledged would be the basis for his campaign to stay in.”

Meanwhile, the opposing sides in the upcoming argument are forming ranks. Reuters reports:

While one of Cameron’s closest political allies, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, will campaign to leave the EU, finance minister George Osborne and interior minister Theresa May backed Cameron.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has charmed voters with a buffoonish persona that masks fierce ambition to succeed Cameron, has yet to make his position clear.

 

 

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WORLD

In – somewhat – related news, French authorities said that about 1,000 refugees and migrants at the so-called “Jungle” camp near the port of Calais would be evicted on Tuesday if they have not moved beforehand.

Voters go to the polls in the South Carolina GOP primary today, while in Nevada the  Democrats will caucus.

As the Republican race tightened, the final wave of campaigning has been something to behold.

 

 

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CULTURE

And, finally,

mockingbird

 

TrumpPopeGate impact uncertain

With 24 hours to go until the Republican primary in South Carolina, a public relations exercise cunningly disguised as a spat between one of the candidates and a global religious leader continues to rumble, the only certainty being that it’s not clear what, if any, long-term impact it might have on the race.

trumppope.jpg

While the state is only 7 per cent Catholic and Trump at last count had a sizable lead in most recent polls, the Christian Science Monitor reports:

“.. (T)here could be a downstream effect to this that could come back to haunt [Trump],” says David Woodard, a political scientist at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C.

Even people who aren’t Catholic “have a lot of reverence for the pope and the church and what he stands for,” says Professor Woodard, who is also a GOP consultant and neutral in the presidential race. “I don’t think they’d want him picked on by a politician.”

As for the broader implications of religion – evangelical and otherwise – on the immediate GOP primary race, Sarah Posner writes in The Week on the differences between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

South Carolina is notorious for splitting its significant evangelical vote in the Republican primary. In 2008, that split benefited the least evangelical candidate, John McCain. In 2012, when white evangelicals made up 65 percent of the Republican electorate, Newt Gingrich won the primary with 44 percent of the evangelical vote, and Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were behind with an even split — 22 and 21 percent, respectively.

In the most recent South Carolina poll from Monmouth University ahead of Saturday’s primary, Trump is leading the field in white evangelical support with 33 percent. Cruz (21 percent) and Rubio (18 percent) are splitting 39 percent of the white evangelical vote. Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and John Kasich are evenly splitting the remaining 24 percent.

In the short-term, though, the Trump row seems to be only pushing that already open Overton Window even wider.

and of course, the resulting airtime proves the adage that the only bad publicity is no publicity.

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WORLD

It’s – another – decision day for David Cameron on Europe.

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SPORTS

But, despite appearances, the world might be going to crap but everything’s not totally screwed.

 

Cameron faces ‘crunch time’ at Brexit summit

The Prime Minister is in Brussels for an EU summit to discuss the terms of a renegotiation of Britain’s membership which will form the basis of the referendum campaign to remain part of the alliance. Even if a deal is agreed, the ultimate outcomes – for both Britain and the EU – remain far from certain.

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BUSINESS

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WORLD

Meanwhile, in the ongoing saga of the guys who want Obama’s job…