Seven Days

 

A glance at the week that was

The numbers

€100bn - The bailout amount provisionally agreed last week to shore up the ailing banking system in Spain; Moody’s subsequently slashed its rating on Spanish government debt.

€1.5bn - Amount saved by the Croke Park Agreement so far, according to a progress report.

44 - The percentage of parents who would be financially better off leaving the workforce, according to a controversial ESRI working paper that was subsequently withdrawn.

22 - Seconds of possession enjoyed by Germany striker Mario Gomez in his first two games at Euro 2012, during which time he scored three goals.

18 - The number of arrests after Russia and Poland soccer fans clashed in Warsaw on Tuesday.

40% - Estimated fall in oil exports from Iran since the start of the year, according to the International Energy Agency.

Medical meltdown

A faulty fridge can be a headache in the domestic kitchen, but a malfunctioning freezing facility in one of the world’s top neurological research institutes is proving to be a lot worse than that.

The world’s largest repository of human brains, at the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center in Massachusetts, suffered a devastating freezer failure that led to the loss of 147 specimens, including 53 brains from donors with autism, potentially posing a serious setback to research.

We now know

Diesel exhaust fumes are more carcinogenic than second-hand smoke, according to the World Health Organisation

Metallica (fronted by James Hetfield) have made a public service video for the FBI in an effort to catch the killer of a US student who disappeared after a 2009 concert by the band.

Lance Armstrong has been accused by the US Anti-Doping Agency of engaging in a 13-year doping conspiracy.

Most read on irishtimes.com

1 EU discuss ‘limiting ATM withdrawals’

2 Dawkins calls for ‘Catholic’ honesty

3 Greek politician punches rival on TV

4 Irish Merkel banner makes cover of ‘Bild’

5 Westlife singer Shane Filan declared bankrupt in Britain

6 Irish supporters have lucky escape

7 Ireland thumped by All Blacks

8 Already we are seeking miracles

9 Cameron forgets daughter (8) in pub

10 ‘Best Place to Live’ longlist unveiled

* Rankings calculated from May 8th until yesterday lunchtime

Next week you need to know about . . . Dublin Pride

Next Friday sees the launch of Dublin Pride, the annual celebration of Ireland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, and this year the festival is bigger than ever, with nine days of events.

The theme of this year’s festival is Show Your True Colours, and with marriage equality on the agenda for the Constitutional Convention, everyone is being encouraged to support the right of same-sex couples to legal equality.

Despite the leaps in terms of legal recognition of same-sex couples, and the endorsement of same-sex marriage by US president Barack Obama in May, there is much to campaign about. The festival’s chairperson, Jo McNamara, says: “Gender recognition legislation has stalled. Children within same-sex partnerships are at risk if the biological parent dies.”

Dublin Pride opens next Friday with a party at the Dragon pub on South Great George’s Street; while the Pride Parade, the centrepiece of the festival, takes place on Saturday, June 30th. With postparade festivities moved to Merrion Square, the parade will travel from the Garden of Remembrance along Baggot Street. Fittingly, after years of stealing the show, Dublin’s most glamorous diva, Miss Panti (below), is the grand marshal. DAVIN O'DWYER

Give me a crash course in . . . the Greek election

Greek elections? That’s last month’s news.Indeed, Greeks went to the polls on May 6th, but no party could form a government, and coalition talks went nowhere. So it’s back to the polling stations on Sunday, which for many means heading to the ancestral village where they are still registered.

Who’s tipped to win?It’s a neck-to-neck race between the conservatives of New Democracy, one of the two parties that have dominated Greek politics for the past 30 years, and the Radical Left Coalition (Syriza), which is likely to see its support rocket from the 4.6 per cent it had before the May election to about 30 per cent. The first party past the post picks up a 50-seat bonus in Greece’s 300-seat parliament.

Are the parties chalk and cheese?Not to the extent that many outside would like to think. Both parties insist that Greece’s future is in the euro zone; their differences boil down to their stance on the country’s bailout memorandum. Syriza has said it will ditch the austerity conditions attached to the deal, which it says is propelling the country towards impoverishment, and seek a socially just agreement. New Democracy, on the other hand, accepts the essence of the memorandum but wants more emphasis on growth. But many of the party’s election promises contravene the bailout-deal terms.

And why is Europe bothered?Brussels and various EU capitals have sent strong warnings that Greece’s future in the euro could depend on the vote. Berlin has relied on the stick, insisting a new government cannot expect more bailout money unless it follows the memorandum to the letter. The French president, François Hollande, is among those who have thrown a carrot: Greece could get an injection of European structural funds to help growth, if it sticks to the memorandum.

So it’s a clear choice for voters?Not really. Whoever wins will require a coalition partner; discussions will begin on Monday. If New Democracy wins, it will likely seek support from Pasok, the socialist party that sought the country’s bailouts and has taken a Fianna Fáil-like battering. Seeing the two parties that mismanaged the country back in power won’t go down well with most voters. New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is also a divisive figure: he brought down a conservative government in the early 1990s and was only converted to the memorandum last November, a year and a half after it was signed.

And what about the left?They’re the market’s worst nightmare. Syriza’s youthful leader Alexis Tsipras says he wants a leftist coalition with the hardline Communist Party (which has rejected all his overtures) and the moderate Democratic Left. Opponents say Syriza is a protest party with no experience of government and a tax-the-rich policy that will chase even more capital out of the country.

Any other parties worth watching?Yes, Golden Dawn, a violent neo-Nazi outfit that won 7 per cent of the vote and 21 seats last time around. Since then one of its MPs assaulted two left-wing female opponents live on air and another has urged party members to kick immigrant patients out of hospitals. Many believe the party’s thuggery will bag it more votes. DAMIAN MAC CON ULADH

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