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Monday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - August 11, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Aug 11, 2014 - 7:54 AM

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Irish Independent

HEALTH Minister Leo Varadkar is planning a small charge for every visit to the family doctor under his free GP care scheme to prevent abuse of the system and clinics being overwhelmed.

The fee has yet to be set, but would act similarly to the prescription charge, which serves as a deterrent to patients getting unneeded medicines.

It is not expected to apply to patients already on a medical card or a GP-only medical card.

The free GP scheme is being rolled out for the under sixes, followed by the over 70s. But these groups are also expected to be exempt from any fee.

From there, the Government plans to extend the scheme to primary and secondary school children. Ultimately, the entire population will be covered. But the minister has not put a timescale on everybody having free GP care.

FORMER Taoiseach John Bruton is entitled to attend trade missions and similar events overseas that are hosted and funded by the Government in his role as a lobbyist for the financial services sector.

Mr Bruton claims voters pointing the finger at bankers for the economic collapse and resulting austerity are the same as people in the 17th century who blamed witches for their woes.

He also believes the governments of Europe will not be able to pay for the commitments to poorer people on health and social welfare.

THE 300,000 workers in the public sector are expected to know before the next general election how much of their pay cuts, made during the economic crisis, will be restored.

Talks will begin next year on the restoration of public sector pay and pension cuts, made during the economic crisis, as the Coalition prepares for the end of the "financial emergency".

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin confirmed to the Irish Independent that some pay and pension cuts in the public sector will be reversed.

He said the talks will focus on what measures will continue indefinitely and what will be reversed.

Irish Times

Two prominent Fine Gael Deputies have strongly criticised comments by Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin on reverses in public-sector pay cuts, with one saying it looked like the Government was “back to buying votes”.

John Deasy and Eoghan Murphy questioned the basis of a possible change of policy, indicated by the Labour Party Minister in a weekend interview. The TDs, members of the Public Account Committee, argued it was too early and was not warranted.

“If Labour was not at 5 per cent in the polls this would not be considered and every public-sector worker knows it. It looks like we are back to buying votes,” said Mr Deasy, a TD for Waterford.

Irish Water’s running costs have been portrayed as “outlandish” following weekend newspaper reports contending its running costs are twice those of similar water companies in Britain.

Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen has said the reports copper-fasten the impression of a “bonus-driven” culture at the new utility.

He was responding to a report in the Sunday Business Post which said its €1.9 billion running costs over the next two years would work out at more than twice the average costs of water companies in England and Wales. Indeed, it found the running costs were closer to three times more that the running costs of the equivalent utility in Scotland.

A US judge has offered a behind-the-scenes look at the force of will with which Steve Jobs once held sway over Silicon Valley, as she threw out a proposed settlement of a lawsuit against Apple and three other tech companies.

The class action case had been brought on behalf of more than 64,000 tech workers over alleged collusion between the Silicon Valley companies not to poach each others’ staff.

Irish Examiner

Property developer Michael O’Flynn borrowed €5m from AIB to buy racehorses and build his home shortly before the financial crisis hit in 2008.

The developer sought and received €2.5m to assist with the construction of his home and a further €1m to “purchase bloodstock” in January 2008. AIB loaned the remaining €1.5m to Mr O’Flynn for him to invest in a portfolio of shares.

The €5m loan, plus interest, was intended to be repaid within six months.

Details of the loans emerged in legal documents arising from a dispute between Mr O’Flynn and private equity giant Blackstone over control of his O’Flynn Construction Group.

Europe

Moscow can't hurt Europe: Rather than letting itself be intimidated by Moscow's threats Europe should see the current situation as an opportunity to tackle its own problems, the conservative daily La Razón urges: "Now is the time to finally build a network of pipelines, for example one from Algeria to Spain or from Turkey to Bulgaria. .... We mustn't be fooled by the retaliatory policy of Russia, which depends in large part on European goods and services, nor should we lapse into dark prognoses for the future. ... Europe's problem is its weak internal demand and the lack of credit, but also the refusal of France and Italy to carry through their reform programmes as Spain has done, whose economy is growing faster than expected. This is where the EU institutions should intervene to give the recovery of the Eurozone a definitive boost."

Paul Mason in The Guardian: "Most nights in Gaza my hotel's power went off but the Wi-Fi didn't. It was hooked up to some magic circuit, powered by the owner's tiny generator. The router sat on a chair in the hall, vintage 2002 technology with blinking green lights – a visual symbol of what was important to people and what was not: stumble around in the dark if you have to, but don't lose connection with the world.

That router enabled me to follow the effect of bombs dropping around me in real time. Locals in Rafah appealing for help, tweeting photographs of the dead in refrigerators. Doctors at Shifa hospital, recounting the night's toll of maimed and burned. Bloggers from Israel disputing everything, convinced the hospital itself is just the lid of a vast tunnel complex for Hamas.

My social networks followed me into the war and collided with others – a reminder that warfare has become newly alive with information."

Larry Elliott in The Guardian: "Despite the fact that real incomes are barely growing, the numbers for consumer spending look surprisingly strong. Retail sales in the three months to June were 4.5% higher than in the same period of 2013, while new car registrations in July were up by more than 6% on a year earlier. The unbroken run of year-on-year increases in car sales is the longest since records began in 1959.

But here’s another twist. More people in work, together with tills ringing in the high street, normally means a big improvement in the public finances as higher income tax and VAT receipts roll in. But reducing the budget deficit is proving to be a long and slow process. In the first three months of the 2014-15 financial year, income tax and capital tax receipts were 3.5% lower than the previous year. Even taking into account the way in which many City bonuses were delayed until April 2013 to exploit the cut in the top rate of income tax, that is a weak performance."

El País, the leading Spanish newspaper reports: "Two young Spaniards have travelled to the east of Ukraine to join the pro-Russian militia known as the Vostok Battalion. Rafael Muñoz Pérez, 27, and Ángel, 22, reportedly form part of one of the most violent and feared groups, which the Kiev government blames for some of the worst atrocities of the conflict so far.

Pérez is a former social worker from Madrid, now based in Gijón (Asturias), where he has been a member of the youth wing of the United Left group since 2010. Ángel, meanwhile, is from Murcia, and belongs to the youth wing of a branch of the Spanish Communist Party.

There is no evidence as of yet that they have taken part in any operations
The pair traveled to Ukraine from Madrid in July, with barely “€500 in their pockets and no return ticket,” according to newspaper La Nueva España, which first broke the story.

After a five-day stay in Kiev, from where they could observe the violence on the streets, they traveled to Crimea, where they joined the rebel forces in the east of the country."


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