Items filtered by date: Saturday, 15 April 2017

Enya 'has done so well and is a superstar', says sister Moya Brennan

Clannad star Moya Brennan has revealed her famous family band have always very proud of the success of her enigmatic superstar sister, Enya.

Her fame-shy younger sister has amazed industry experts by becoming Ireland’s most successful solo artist.

Enya has sold 80 million albums around the globe without ever going on a concert tour and makes only rare public appearances.

The richest Irish singers, actors, families and sports people have been revealed

In a new BBC series, Beart is Briathar, Moya explains that her Grammy-winning sibling always wanted to go her own way.

She said: “She has done so well and is a superstar. People see that she is special.

“She toured with us after she left school and she stayed for two and a half or three years.

"She wanted to do her own thing. She had a more classical than traditional leaning.

“She worked so hard on finding her own sound, the way she sings, the way she plays everything on her recordings and it is special and people love it.

“We are very happy for her. Her style was self-contained. We respect her for that because that’s how she wants to be known.

“We are very close of course but she has her way and we have our way. I have other brothers and sisters too and we all have our own way of going on.”

The new Irish language series, fronted by Eamonn Mallie, is set to feature a string of well-known Irish-speaking personalities who have made an impact culturally, politically, religiously or musically.

In the series, Moya Brennan reveals how all of her siblings were around her father, Leo Brennan, last year in Donegal in the weeks before he passed away last June.

“It was tough but he died at home and we were all there.

“We had a few weeks with him, singing, and crying and praying. It was really lovely but we will certainly miss him.”

She said the death of her uncle Padraig Duggan, the founder of Clannad, just weeks later was devastating.

She said: “People say to me they were sorry about my uncle.

“I have to pause because her wasn’t like an uncle to me, he was more like a brother. He was only a few years older than me.

“Because he was in Clannad for 46 years we spent a lot of time together so I grieved when my father died but maybe because both deaths happened together I was terribly upset about Padraig.

“He was only 67. This was the first member of Clannad to die.”

Padraig Duggan was involved in composing the first Irish-language song to feature in the UK charts, the 1982 theme from Harry’s Game.

Moya said they were amazed at the success of the song they performed on Top of the Pops.

She said: “When we started Clannad we had no plans to make it big or make a lot of money or find a new sound. The sound that merged for Harrys Game was natural and I think that’s what everyone liked.”

She also spoke about the band being naïve and being ripped off during their early days.

“There were very few people especially at that time who didn’t have people take advantage of them. There are people like Elton John and Sting who all suffered. It happens, but as long as we have our music that is the important thing.”

She also opened up about her well-documented battle with drink and drugs when she first shot to fame in Clannad.

“You can get into a bad routine and it can happen easily. I was drinking too much and taking drugs. I didn’t look for them. There were always people approaching you and asking you what you wanted. I was always careful of what I took as well. I was always afraid of harder drugs, I followed the wrong path for a while.”

In recent decades she has been on a path of deep spirituality after finding God.

“I couldn’t get up in the morning if I didn’t know God was on my side. Of course, I have questions but I believe in God. Faith is a very special thing. Everyone needs spirituality. I believe in Jesus Christ and I know when I get up in the morning He is with me.

She said she has found happiness with her husband and their two children, Aisling and Paul, in the last three decades.

She said it was love at first sight when she met the photographer, Tim Jarvis.

She said: “He is an amazing man. We fell in love the first time we met. We now have a son and a daughter and I’m very content and proud.”

And she said one of her favourites pastimes is housework when she returns from tours around the globe.

“When you are off on tour, you’re in and out of hotels, you are on stage in green rooms, in make-up, tuning the harp and doing other things.

“I don’t do it every week so I enjoy housework. I enjoy doing, laundry, the ironing, everything, Isn’t that boring? It is therapeutic to me.”


BY Irish Mirror

  • Published in Media

Prince Harry Admits He ''Shut Down All of His Emotions'' After Princess Diana's Death: Being Sad ''Wouldn't Bring Her Back''

Prince Harry is opening up like he never has before.

While we know that the royal is a massive supporter of changing the stigma around mental health—especially with his Heads Together campaign, which he started with Prince William and Kate Middleton—he rarely touches on how the topic has affected him, personally...until now.

Harry joined Bryony Gordon's Mad World where he opened up about his own emotional and mental health struggles, which he says he's been dealing with since his mother, Princess Diana's death 20 years ago. However, he only recently realized that he was hiding from all those struggles for most of those years.

"If you look back to the fact that I lost my mom at the age of 12 on the public platform of which it was, and then everything else that happens with being in the spotlight in this sort of role and the pressures that come with it," Harry explained. "And then going to Afghanistan, and then working in the personal recovering unit with all of the soldiers as well and taking on a lot of their issues. Anybody would like at that and go, 'OK, there must be something wrong with you. You can't be totally normal.'"

He said he would always deny his emotions, noting, "My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand and refusing to ever think about my mom because why would that help. It's only going to make you sad. It's never going to bring her back."

Rather, he spent a majority of his life (into his late twenties) pretending everything was OK. "I was a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going, 'Life is great', or 'Life is fine.'"

Today, he acknowledges the negative effects running away from his emotions has had on him.

"I can safely say that losing my mom at the age of 12 and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but also my work as well," he revealed. "It was only three years ago that, from the support around and my brother and other people around who started to say, 'You need to deal with this. It's not normal to think that nothing's affecting you.'"

He continued, "I started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, 'There is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.'"

He said he began working on his own emotional and mental health at the age of 28, and by the time he turned 30, he finally felt like he had a handle on himself and could converse with others who'd suffered through grief.

"It's a fascinating process," he said. "It's all part of a conversation, being able to talk to a parent or stranger or sibling or colleague."

This is why he also strongly believes in therapy and seeking professional help for mental health awareness. "[Sometimes] I don't actually need your advice I just need you to listen to me," he admitted.

Other than therapy, as Harry continued to look into his own grief, he took up running and boxing to help he unleash some of his emotions in a physical manner. "Exercise really is the key," he said. "Exercise is a simple solution. Instead of giving up, giving up, giving up. How about taking up?"

More than anything, however, Harry got through his own struggles is by helping others and assisting in "normalizing the conversation" about mental health and mental fitness. His biggest goal was to remind everyone that "we're not robots," and mental fitness is something that unites all of us.
"What my mother believed in is if the fact that you are in a position of privilege or a position of responsibility and if you can put your name to something that you genuinely believe in…then you can smash any stigma you want."



Philippines, US to hold military drills

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine military said Sunday it would hold annual exercises with US troops next month, reaffirming its commitment to the alliance despite cooling relations under President Rodrigo Duterte.

The 10-day exercises will be the first held under Duterte, who has suggested canceling the drills and called for the withdrawal of American troops, putting into question Manila's 70-year-old alliance with Washington as he looks instead to court China.

The outspoken Filipino leader, who has earned international censure for a war on drugs that has seen thousands killed, has since softened his stance on working with the US military.

The annual military exercises, known as Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder), will now go ahead in May, focusing on counter-terrorism and disaster response as the Philippines battles Islamic militants in their lawless southern strongholds.

"It will be scenario-based like (preparing for) a big storm hitting the Philippines or the possibility of terrorism," Balikatan spokesman Major Celeste Frank Sayson told AFP.

"We are safe to say there will be no more live-fire exercises. We (will) focus on humanitarian and civil assistance."

In previous years Balikatan had evolved from counter-terrorism maneuvers against Islamic militants to simulations of protecting or retaking territory, as a dispute with Beijing over islands in the South China Sea escalated.

But Duterte, who took office last year, has sought improved relations with China and has set aside the maritime row in favor of economic concessions.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had said the exercises would refocus on fighting terrorism, which he described as the Philippines' top security problem.

The Philippines is battling Islamic militants and pirates in the conflict-torn south, where several groups have pledged allegiance to Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Security forces in the past week clashed with the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group on a popular resort island, the first attack on a key Philippine tourist destination in recent years.

(Agence France-Presse)


U.S. security adviser promises coordinated response in Afghanistan

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser met Afghan officials in Kabul on Sunday and said the new administration was weighing diplomatic, military and economic responses to its Taliban and Islamic State enemies in Afghanistan.

The adviser, H.R. McMaster, was making the first high-level visit by a Trump official. He spoke to ABC News' This Week program in the United States.

On Thursday, the U.S. military dropped a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, one of the largest conventional weapons ever used in combat, during an operation against ISIS militants in eastern Afghanistan.

While military officials said the strike was based solely on tactical needs, it led to speculation that Trump's defence advisers are planning to escalate the war against militants in Afghanistan.

The strike was estimated to have killed nearly 100 militants and no civilians, according to Afghan officials, although this has not been independently verified.

Enemies have 'redoubled their efforts'

Interviewed from Afghanistan, McMaster said the United States had a more reliable Afghan partner than before but at the same time had reduced the degree and scope of its effort in that country.

"Our enemy sensed that and they have redoubled their efforts and it's time for us, alongside our Afghan partners, to respond," he said.

Trump, who took office on Jan. 20, had asked U.S. officials — including some in the treasury and commerce departments — to work together to integrate the various political, diplomatic, military and economic responses available, McMaster said.

"We'll give him those options. And we'll be prepared to execute whatever decision he makes," he said.

McMaster met President Ashraf Ghani and other senior Afghan officials to discuss bilateral ties, security, counter- terrorism, reforms, and development, according to a palace statement.

Drugs, corruption, terrorism

He praised anti-corruption efforts and assured Ghani that the United States would continue to support and cooperate with Afghanistan on a number of issues, according to the palace.

Ghani told McMaster that "terrorism is a serious issue for the security of the world and the region" and if serious steps are not taken it would affect "generations" of people, according to the statement. Illicit drugs and corruption also top the list of threats to Afghanistan's security, Ghani told the visiting officials.

The Afghan government refers to both the Taliban and ISIS as terrorists. Afghan forces have struggled to contain Taliban insurgents since most international troops were withdrawn in 2014, leaving them to fight largely alone.

At the peak in 2011, the United States had more than 100,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Nearly 9,000 U.S. troops remain there to train and advise Afghan forces, provide close air support to soldiers on the ground, and form a separate counter-terrorism unit that targets ISIS, al Qaeda and other militant networks.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has said he needs "several thousand" more troops to help the Afghans take on a resurgent Taliban and battle other insurgents, but no official plan has been announced.

Thomson Reuters

  • Published in U.S.

North Korea nuclear: US 'working with China' on response

The US and China are working on a "range of options" on North Korea, the US top security adviser has said, as tensions mount over the country's nuclear and missile programmes.
Lt Gen HR McMaster told ABC News there was consensus with China that this was a situation that "could not continue".
The comments come after a failed missile test launch by North Korea and a massive military parade.
President Trump had earlier said China was "working with us" on the issue.
Beijing, Pyongyang's biggest ally, has come under pressure from Washington to exert more pressure on its neighbour.
Sunday's comments appear to be the first confirmation that both countries are working together on how to deal with the North Korean issue.
Gen McMaster, who was in the Afghan capital, Kabul, said the latest launch "fits a pattern of provocative and destabilising and threatening behaviour".
"The president has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons," he said.
Military vehicles carry missiles with characters reading Image copyrightREUTERS
Image caption
North Korea displayed its military capabilities during a huge parade in Pyongyang
"I think there's an international consensus now, including the Chinese and the Chinese leadership, that this is a situation that just can't continue."
President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed North Korea during a meeting last week. Mr Xi offered co-operation on "communication and co-ordination", the BBC's Robin Brant in Shanghai reports.
All about North Korea's missile programme
In pictures: Pyongyang parade (with pom-poms)
Earlier on Sunday, South Korean and US military officials said a North Korean missile had detonated soon after launch. The US Pacific Command said it believed it to be a ballistic missile.
Investigations were continuing, but one unnamed US official said it was unlikely to have been an intercontinental (ICBM) missile.
Ballistic missiles follow high trajectories and are initially powered and guided, but fall to their target under gravity. ICBMs follow a sub-orbital trajectory, others stay within the atmosphere.
North Korea's aim is to be able to put a nuclear warhead on an ICBM that can reach targets around the world.

BBC News

  • Published in World

Hundreds gather at attacked Egyptian church to mourn bombing dead


TANTA, Egypt - Hundreds of members of Egypt's Christian minority Copt community gathered at a church in the city of Tanta on Easter Sunday to mourn those killed in a suicide bombing there a week earlier.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Palm Sunday attack on the church and the bombing of another church in Alexandria on the same day, attacks that killed 45 people in total.

Amid heavy security, worshippers filed past a flower-strewn memorial at the Mar Girgis church, with incense burning, and offered prayers.

Copts throughout Egypt, where they make up about 10 percent of the population of 92 million, have been attending Easter services in somber mood following the bombings.

The government imposed a three-month state of emergency in the wake of the Palm Sunday attacks, but some in Tanta wondered why the authorities had not acted to prevent the attacks in the first place.

Nassir Munir, who came to mourn the dead, said: "We are paying our condolences to them and to their families and it is a bad situation."

But he said authorities had only introduced security measures after the bombing, which killed 27 people at the Tanta church.

"Why now? I do not understand," he said.

The Abbot of the Mar Girgis church, Beshoy Wadea, said: "We do not want the norm to be that they start moving only when crisis strikes."

Coptic Christians, whose church dates back nearly 2,000 years in Egypt, say they have long suffered from persecution but this has got worse since Islamic State started attacking them. The group claimed responsibility for a church bombing in Cairo in December that killed 25 people.

The Coptic Christian Pope, Tawadros, used his Easter message to deliver a sombre message to the faithful after the bombings.

"We remember the martyrs of Palm Sunday. With their blood they recorded a new page in the history of Egypt's Coptic Christian Church," he said in a video on his website. —Reuters

  • Published in World

Inflation feared with gov’t directive on rice

President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for the National Food Authority (NFA) to boost rice supply from local farms before considering importation could unduly drive up consumer prices, New York-based think tank Global Source said.
In a commentary titled “Inflation risk from rice policy?” by economists Romeo L. Bernardo and Marie-Christine Tang, Global Source said the policy could lead to the depletion of NFA’s inventory, driving up local prices.
“The struggle that led to the President insisting on the NFA buying local rice risks the country’s rice stocks falling further [especially if domestic farm outputs fall short of expectations] and thus, domestic rice prices spiking,” Global Source said.
Global Source was referring to the conflict between majority of the NFA Council—the agency’s governing body comprised of NFA officials and economic managers from various departments—and NFA administrator Jason Laureano Aquino.
The majority, led by the council’s chair, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., wanted the NFA to continue accommodating inbound shipments through private-sector importation. Aquino had disagreed, pushing for government importation through the NFA itself.
Inflation trend to persist
The conflict led to the dismissal of Cabinet Undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Valdez, who represented Evasco in council meetings.
“Rice accounts for close to 9 percent of the CPI (consumer price index) basket and given the projected inflation path, double-digit increases during the lean months would push the headline inflation rate well over the upper end of the BSP’s (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) inflation target band,” it said.
The BSP is bent on limiting average inflation this year within the range of 2 percent and 4 percent.
“Many economic watchers have raised concerns about recent increases in consumer prices. From below 2 percent in the 16 months to August 2016, the headline inflation rate climbed past 3 percent in February and March 2017,” Global Source said.
The think tank added that the BSP now expects the uptrend to continue through the third quarter, driving the figure “very close” to the upper end of the target range.
Global Source said the government’s latest rice policy is “an emergent risk that could ‘shock’ inflation forecasts.”
While both factions in the NFA Council bickered over how to import and beef up its stock, Global Source noted that inventory as of March was good for 12 days’ consumption only.
Importation to ease worries
The NFA is required by law to maintain a minimum stock good for 15 days for most of the year, but it must have at least 30 days’ supply during the lean months from July to September.
The country’s main crop is planted and grown during the third quarter, and harvest does not start until October.
Meanwhile, Aquino the NFA administrator said last Tuesday the agency was currently unable to buy palay as farm-gate prices averaged at P18.60 per kilo as of the last week of March, higher than the NFA’s price cap of P17 a kilo.
“With rice prices starting to inch up recently and import lags of anywhere from one to four months, a decision to allow importation would help allay fears of impending shortages that could lead to higher price increases in anticipation of the demand/supply gap,” Global Source said.
“To avoid delays in light of the internal NFA disagreement and ensure that a decision to import is quickly carried out, the President might as well decide also whether NFA itself should import or allow private traders to do it,” the group added.

By: Ronnel W. Domingo - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer


Abu Sayyaf beheads Filipino hostage

MANILA, Philippines - The Abu Sayyaf has beheaded one of its Filipino captives in Patikul, Sulu, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed yesterday.

Noel Besconde, one of the crewmembers of F/B Remona seized in the Celebes Sea in December, was executed at around 2:30 p.m. on April 13, according to Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, chief of Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS).

Sobejana said they received the information on the same day, but did not confirm it until the AFP secured a copy of a video of the killing allegedly perpetrated by the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Sawadjaan.

The search and retrieval operation for the victim’s body is ongoing in the western part of Patikul.

“We have confirmed it because we have seen the video and we have reports on the ground. We are now doing our best to locate the cadaver and bring the body to the family,” Sobejana said.

The military said the beheading was more of a necessity on the part of the bandit group, as the victim was reportedly getting sickly.

Sobejana said dragging a sick captive hampers the movement of the bandits, who have constantly been on the run to evade pursuing soldiers.

He said the group had probably contacted the victim’s family to ask for P3 million as ransom, which they failed to obtain as the Bescondes are not rich and the military is firm on the no-ransom policy.

Initially, the AFP did not believe the information, thinking it was just propaganda.

Sobejana said the video showed scenes not similar with previous beheadings wherein the terrorists appeared first to be doing some rituals.

“This one showed the killing was done in haste,” he said.

In February, the Abu Sayyaf beheaded the 70-year-old German, Jurgen Kantner, for failure to pay P30-million ransom.

Pursuit operation

Pursuit operation against the Abu Sayyaf bandits who stormed Bohol last week is ongoing, even as AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año declared that the terror threat in the province is over.

“Our assault team continues scouring the area,” he said, noting Army soldiers are hunting down the remaining bandits including Joselito Melloria, alias Alih, whose photographs are being distributed in the island.

Melloria allegedly served as a guide for Abu Sayyaf in Inabanga, where an encounter broke out last Tuesday and resulted in the death of four bandits, three soldiers and a police officer.

Año said the swift military and police action resulted in the killing of Maumar Askali, alias Abu Rami, leader and spokesman for the bandit group.

Año earlier expressed confidence that the military could eliminate the Abu Sayyaf by June 30.

‘Show must go on’

The Bohol clash between the military and the bandits will not deter a scheduled conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the province on April 19-20.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) gave assurance that security measures are in place to protect the participants and delegates and secure the event.

“The military and the police are on top of the situation. We assure delegates, tourists and residents we are exerting our best efforts for Bohol,” DILG officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy said. — By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) With Cecille Suerte Felipe


Vinyl is vintage and the future, as new generation warms to an old music form

Vinyl records, which is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity that's outstripping digital music growth, proves the adage that everything old is new again.

Last year, Vinyl LP sales reached 13 million, according to Nielsen's Year-End Report released on Jan. 9. That figure was an all-time high since Nielsen started keeping track back in 1991.

Despite the fact that cell phones and tablets are music lovers method of choice for music playback—a function of streaming media—vinyl's vintage novelty is feeding a boom in record sales. So what gives?

Clement Perry, the publisher of The Stereo Times, a magazine for audiophiles, said that for some, vinyl never went away: Indeed, a number of electronics makers still manufacture turntables for hardcore music lovers. The renewed interest in vinyl from consumers at large is partly due to its increasing availability.

"Millennials, a/k/a 'kids these days' are who we were back when we, or any generation, was spurred into a mania for records. For us, radio and records were the only way we could hear recorded music," Miriam Linna, president of independent label Norton Records, told CNBC in an email.

"Now with the internet and instant gratification, the younger record fans still love the feel and sound of a physical artifact. It's highly personal," she added, saying music has been "on a vinyl comeback trail for 30 years."

Linna added: "It hasn't happened overnight at all. It's small mom-n-pop labels that kept the pressing plants open and worked hard to keep the faith of the fans and artists."

Stir it Up turntable.
Source: House of Marley
Stir it Up turntable.
According to MusicWatch, 56 percent of vinyl record purchasers are men, and almost half of purchasers are under 25 years old. The industry research company also found that 58 percent of vinyl buyers only purchase used records, versus 32 percent who only buy new ones.

Despite the recent surge, vinyl sales make up a small portion of music sales as a whole—just 11 percent of physical album sales according to Nielsen. Yet data shows growth in LP sales has outstripped digital downloads, and vinyl is drawing in a new generation of music aficionados.

Fabio Roberti is the owner of Earwax Records in the Brooklyn neighborhood Williamsburg since 1996, and has been a radio disc jockey for over 30 years. He said that many young people who come into his shop want to experience records in a completely different way.

"Today people come in and already know what they'll buy, whereas in the past you would have to take a chance," Roberti said. "People will go into the shop and go through YouTube or Spotify before buying a record — which I think eliminates some of the adventure I felt [when] you talked to the record owner and learned about it that way."

Even with the popular interest in vinyl, Roberti wasn't sure the resurgence is here to stay.

"It's hard to know where this is going in the next 5 or 10 years," Roberti said, noting that vinyl has been around for over 100 years. Still, "the notion that a big analog disc can exist in 2017 is kind of amazing to me."

Perry of The Stereo Times believes vinyl is on an upward trend. "It's a tangible form… It's a little personal contact with the music that no other format can really match. It's really special in that regard," Perry said.

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