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What you want to say? Open Thread, 16th February 2012 February 16, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

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1. Ghandi - February 16, 2012

Support local independent artists have a listen to this

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2. WorldbyStorm - February 16, 2012

Thanks Ghandhi.

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3. Dr.Nightdub - February 16, 2012

Not sure I can explain this succinctly, but here goes.

I’ll start by leading the witness – some people may recall the case of Tipperary farmer named Hanrahan who had to fight for ages to get compensation for his cattle dying as a result of toxic emissions from the Merck, Sharp & Dohme factory in Clonmel. That was a good few years ago.

My other half comes from a small village a few miles outside Clonmel. For the last few months, any time she goes down home for the weekend to visit her mum, she wakes up with a pounding headache. The same happens to her mum occasionally. Her father died of cancer a few years ago. A couple, both in their 40s and livng just down the road, also died of cancer. Two other neighbours have also died of cancer. Another neighbour died of leukemia. Her sister, who lives just up the road from her mum, developed a thyroid complaint some months back that refuses to go away. That sister’s son, aged 10 or thereabouts, has been diagnosed with arthritis.

Naturally, she’s concerned and it’s not hard to guess the direction her suspicions are pointing. I suggested she get in touch with a local TD (Seamus Healy of the ULA sprang to mind) but she reckons any public representative will shy away for fear of being accused of putting jobs at risk – Conmel has been fairly savaged by the recession and MSD, Bulmers and Miloko are the only real large-scale employers left. Jobs versus lives…a bit of a Hobson’s choice.

Anyway, my question is – and I’m assuming that any state agencies (county council, EPA, etc) won’t touch this with a barge pole, how the hell do you go about investigating this stuff?

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WorldbyStorm - February 16, 2012

That’s quite a question. I wonder if it’s a case of looking for a consultant who might do it pro bono?

That said do you think the EPA would definitely be averse to this?

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RosencrantzisDead - February 17, 2012

Dr. Nightdub, do you, your spouse, or your spouse’s family have any theory on what is causing the headaches? For example, do you think it could be emissions from a nearby factory? You might make a complaint to the EPA, but they will want to know why you think the emissions are causing the harm. A bit of a vicious circle.

Do you think there may be something in the water? Does it taste different? If so, the proper place to complain is the local authority – a local councillor would be a good idea.

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RosencrantzisDead - February 17, 2012

I should add: your local environmental health officer might be someone to contact. They are employed by the HSE. At the very least, they may be able to give you some information that might alleviate any concerns or aid you in finding an answer.

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FergusD - February 17, 2012

Dr Nightclub,
A difficult problem, cancer clusters can occur by “chance” and the problems you cite seem to vary quite a bit. What type of cancers were they? The same or different?

You need an epidemiologist to look at this, and they would need access to much more local health data than a few anecdotal reports. And there would be costs involved. Why assume the EPA would avoid it? The organisation may contain honest people! What about university public health epidemiologists? Although, frankly, your impression of a “cluster” might not be enough evidence to get anyobody interested.

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4. Brendan - February 16, 2012

Jinx Lennon,playing tonight Bewleys,Grafton st @ 9pm,Do yourself a favour and check him out and get an opportunity to sing along to your rage at the ‘SEPTIC TIGER’, Raw as Rope

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5. CMK - February 16, 2012

Several years ago I did some professional development courses with Griffith College Dublin and my details are on their alumni database. I got the email below this afternoon. Before you read it bear in mind that Griffith charge up to 11,000 for an MA and LLM degree and you can pay up to 9,000 per year for a BA.

Each one of these jobs should be a properly paid job – there’ll all advertised as 40 hour week. A degree is ‘desirable’, too. It’s bad enough being trying to halt the race to the bottom but for your taxes to actually be subsiding it. A couple of years ago each of these jobs would have started at at least 20K.

****************************************************************

Dear CMK

We are delighted to announce that the college has a number of Internships available with the National Internship Scheme – JobBridge.

Through these Internships, we aim to provide graduates with the skills needed to bridge the gap between completion of study and the beginning of their careers.

There are currently three internships available in the college, they are:

Front Office Administrator – Griffith Halls of Residence (click here for more information).

International Office Assistant – Griffith College Dublin (click here for more information).

Human Resources Administrator – Griffith College Dublin (click here for more information).

Please note that this is an Internship. An allowance of €50.00 per week is added to the successful candidates Social Welfare payment. (Please see http://www.jobbridge.ie for further details).

Furthermore, if you are not eligible or interested in applying for either internship but know someone who might, please feel free to send them these details.

As always, we hope this e-mail finds you well and if you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact the Alumni Office.

Kind Regards

Griffith College Dublin

http://www.gcd.ie

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WorldbyStorm - February 16, 2012

Don’t know what an International Office Asst is, but the other two strike me as full time responsible roles.

Slate.com has had a few pieces on how ‘intern’ culture has become the norm in the US in recent decades and how exploitative that can be.

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CMK - February 17, 2012

My head nearly exploded when I read that mail. If the whole ‘internship’ meme is allowed to get going you could conceivably have a situation where graduates borrow 20,000+ for their degree, another 5-10,000+ for a postgraduate course then spend several years as ‘interns’ on 50 euro plus dole (with additional credit to make ends meet) until they get to their early thirties when they might, just might, get a decent job on a temporary contract. Then try to buy a house and/or raise a family servicing a mortgage an student debt until retirement at 70: a bankers dream. The real agenda here is to push wages for what formerly were decent jobs, to minimum wage level and, through a sort of gravitational pull, depress wages across the economy. What are the f**king unions doing about this??

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WorldbyStorm - February 17, 2012

Well having seen what the Tanaiste treated us to in the Dil today re the waste collection issue if the unions ar following his lead we might as well give up now. You’re dead right, it’s outrageous. Can’t help but think this is the perfect example of what neoliberalism seems to want… Low wages, instability, insecurity, etc.

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EamonnCork - February 17, 2012

Good piece on Newsnight last night on Tesco and the likes using government employment schemes to access free labour which ties in with this.

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6. Julian Assandwich - February 17, 2012

The ULA at present is a semi-alliance, in time it will develop. But in these early stages, if you have got involved but don’t belong to any other group like the SP or the SWP, it can be very confusing and disorienting. To put a name on that position which many of us find ourselves in, some say “nonaligned” or “independent”.

I’d like to let any ULA independent know, as always, they can get in touch with their fellow independents across the country. Just throw an email to weareragbags@gmail.com and say hello. We’re all trying to get to know each other, isolated as we are, and share our experiences, concerns and proposals.

(Got a few emails last week on the back of last weeks comment(s) here so I might make this a weekly thing ;-P)

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7. ghandi - February 17, 2012

Watch this on Monday 9.30 RTE2 night, includes WP election fundraiser with Empty Train in the Annesley House on May 20th last year. Don’t think it will include Rob & Empty Train, but their supporting Act Nugget & Class AZ are on. Watch out for the WP posters and No extradition posters in the background.

http://www.rte.ie/ten/listings/20189373_tv_Irelands_Rappers.

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8. CL - February 17, 2012

Flint —United Auto Workers President Bob King used the anniversary of the Flint sit-down strike on Friday to call for “direct action” — including nonviolent civil disobedience — to take back America from the “right-wing Republicans” and “one-percenters” he says have hijacked this democracy….
Seventy-five years after workers took over General Motors’ factories and forced the company to sign its first national contract with the union, King said the same sort of militancy is needed to stop what he called a rollback of workers’ rights and civil rights….
King said the UAW is joining with other unions, including the Service Employees International Union, members of Occupy Wall Street and others to create a new “movement for social justice” that will employ the tactics of the civil rights movement to fight against what he called “corporate greed” and attacks on labor.-

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120211/AUTO01/202110356/1032/ent/King-calls-on-UAW-to-stage-nationwide-protests

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9. ec - February 17, 2012

Just to highlight the premier of Desmond Bell’s film Dúcheist Frank Ryan, which is described as “a sympathetic but searching exploration of the life of Frank Ryan (1902- 1944) Irish radical, International Brigade volunteer in Spain and Nazi collaborator in Berlin”.

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival
Sat. 18th Feb, 6.00pm
Lighthouse Cinema

More detail about film: http://enigmafrankryan.com/

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smiffy - February 17, 2012

Sold out, though. No?

(The film, not Frank Ryan, although …)

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Ciarán - February 17, 2012

Manus O’Riordan has commented on this production: Ryan slandered

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10. CMK - February 17, 2012

SIPTU calling for ‘suspension’ of the Household Charge. Are the bureacrats starting to realise that they’ve badly, very badly, misjudged the mood on this. There still calling for a ‘fair’ and ‘progressive’ property tax. Now, fair and progressive are two terms that rarely get an outing when discussing the policies of the Irish state, and that’s unlikely to change even with the gombeens having to report to the Troika. So, SIPTU seem to be taking a step back but still supporting additional taxation for their members and workers generally, but not agitating for increased wages.
***************************************

17th February, 2012

SIPTU NEC calls for suspension of proposed Household Charge

The National Executive Council (NEC) of SIPTU has called on the Government to suspend the proposed Household Charge on the basis that it is unfair and regressive.

At its monthly meeting today (Friday, 17th February) the NEC unanimously supported a motion stating that;

“The Household Charge as currently proposed by the Government is a flat tax which is unfair and regressive in that it subsidises wealthy people at the expense of middle and low income families. The NEC supports the principle of a fair and progressive property tax which is proportionate and which recognises that wealthy households can afford to pay more than those with modest earnings while those on lower incomes should be exempt.

We call on the Government to suspend the introduction of the Household Charge until it is replaced by a fair and progressive property tax. The way the tax is currently being implemented is playing into the hands of those wealthy and vested interests who oppose the very principle of a fair and progressive property tax system.

The Government estimates that payment of the charge by the 1.6m eligible households will yield €160m in 2012. By way of an interim alternative source of revenue until a progressive property tax regime can be put in place we are calling for a suspension of the legacy property tax reliefs.

We have previously called on the Government to introduce a solidarity levy on those earning over €100,000 which would also make up for lost revenues from the proposed Household Charge.

The immediate suspension of all unused section 23 tax reliefs and accelerated capital allowances has the potential to save the Exchequer close to €100m in tax foregone this year.

Restricting landlord mortgage interest relief for both residential and non-residential properties by 10% would bring in an estimated €75m, which together with the suspension of the unused tax reliefs would more than offset the loss of €160m in additional tax revenues from the Household Charge, saving the Exchequer up to €175m.”

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LeftAtTheCross - February 17, 2012

CMK, I think the SIPTU statement can be read differently. They say the household tax should be kicked to touch and replaced immediately with abolition of tax reliefs and a solidarity levy on high eareners so that there’s no loss of revenue to the state, which kills off the argument that there’s no alternative. They don’t engage with the bigger picture of why are these charges being implemented, i.e. austerity & bank bailouts, because it clouds the picture and reduces it to easily dismissed ideological differences, thereby they keep the focus on the specific issue and counter proposal. They state that they support fair and progressive property tax without getting into the details, which again is a clever way of not allowing deflection from the fact that there is an alternative. Clever boxing from SIPTU, a radical step in the right direction dressed up in polite and respectable garb. Not denying that a less favourable reading would suggest fence-sitting and lack of specifics, but I can see where they’re coming from. SIPTU aren’t PAME after all.

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CMK - February 17, 2012

Yes, you’re right. I suppose what I find interesting is why they feel the need to issue this statement NOW, mid- to late February and five and bit weeks to the deadline for registration and payment. Is it a recognition that the CAHWT is having an effect? I know, for a fact, that the leadership of SIPTU could care less about additional taxes on their members and they won’t lift a finger to resist them, but, as you say, they have to box clever on this one. Hopefully it doesn’t fool too many people.

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Ghandi - February 17, 2012

This is possibly SIPTU giving an out to the Government particularly the Labour element who we suspect will extend the deadline of 31st March to further down the road as clearly the campaign is very successful with over 1.7m refusing to register so far.

The imposition of this Home tax cannot be seperated from the overall situation and that is coming through quite clearly from all the public meetings.

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CMK - February 17, 2012

Ghandi, yes, that’s a good point. Jack is sure to have discussed this at the Labour NEC and offered whatever assistance he could to that party on this issue. Good oul Jack, the workers’ friend!

I have to say I’m shocked, in a very pleasant way, at just how radically people have rejected this tax. And, how, so far, they’ve been prepared to back that us with action and activity. A notable theme at the CAHWT activities and meetings I’ve been involved in has been the pathetic role of the unions. Joe Higgins mentioned the stance of the elderly on this issue, and many of those elderly would have remembered a far more assertive union position on an issue like this.

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LeftAtTheCross - February 17, 2012

“The imposition of this Home tax cannot be seperated from the overall situation and that is coming through quite clearly from all the public meetings.”

Ghandi, that’s certainly true for those who are attending the meetings, the CAHWT is clearly about more than the household tax, both from the perspective of the Left groups catalysing it and also from people who have had enough of the torrent of austerity and are using the opportunity of the campaign to say enough is enough. However I do think it’s fair enough that different approaches can be taken by different groups, whether the CAHWT, SF, SIPTU, if the end result is the defeat of the tax. I agree that the defeat of the tax isn’t the only goal of the groups behind CAHWT, but for many people who join the campaign it will be a sufficient victory in itself. It’s unrealistic to expect too much from the CAHWT. It might amount to something bigger, it might be the spark, then again it might not.

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Sarah James - February 17, 2012

Jack O’Connor hasn’t been on the labour NEC in about 2 years

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11. Ghandi - February 17, 2012

Without being ageist its noteable that a decent number of older citizens are attending these meetings and are adament that they are not paying, this in itself is providing a mobilisation factor to others, as many of these senior citizens are not seen as “the usual crowd, who would be opposed to everything”. The is also a sentiment of rejection of establishment politics or policits as we know them.

From The Government point these has to be seen as a serious miscalulation of the public mood.

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12. FergusD - February 17, 2012

Investing in Litigation – a new way to make money in the recession

Now that the property speculative bubble has well and truly tanked, how can the rich make money? well there is always a new dotcom bubble (Facebook) but the other day someone told me about another way – investing in litigation. The investor puts up the funds to support a legal claim, and they get a big slice if it wins. Much better returns than a savings account! Maybe you have all heard about it already, but it was news to be and I was astonished. Talk about vulture capitalism! And of course an unprodcutive use of capital. Still what can you do if a few billion to invest?

http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdaily/2009/06/investing-in-litigation.html

On a similar note in the IT industry copyright and patent cases are legion. Indeed dead or dying companies get bought for their paptent portfolio to facilitae claims e.g. Google’s purchase of Motorola’s patens may not just be about “protection”.

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Ghandi - February 17, 2012

This is not something new or that has really featured here, but in the UK its common practise to take out litigation insurance. You might notice all the ads for PI claims on British TV, these are cases where an insurance policy is taken out to insure costs. A small number of the bigger PI firms here use it. Insurance Companies make money out of every event one way or the other.

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13. Ghandi - February 17, 2012

Perhaps LATC that reads in a different way than I intended, I was trying to say that apart from the positions of the various groupings, the popular view of the non politicos (for want of a better word) attending the meetings is to locate the tax within the overall situation.

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LeftAtTheCross - February 17, 2012

Yes, I knew what you were saying alright, no disagreement there. I’m just making the point that some people won’t make that connection, which is up to them, but there’s no need for the CAHWT to look gift horses in the mouth either, whether it’s SIPTU or SF that are spinning statements against the charge from whatever angles, the overall effect is all in the right direction, provided it doesn’t cause too much confusion in the mind of the public. Also, in rural areas in relation to the septic tank issue, really it’s the scale of the likely individual costs of remedial works that’s incentivising people to come to meetings, it’s not really / just the bank bailouts and the cutbacks, though obviously linking it all together is part of the work.

Agreed about others opportunistically capitalising on the success of the campaign, but again, gift horses. And let’s face it, for the Left groups its about educate organise agitate at the end of the day as well isn’t it. One person’s opportunistm is another’s raison d’etre…

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ghandi - February 17, 2012

+1

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14. Ghandi - February 17, 2012

LATC I don’t either SF or SIPTU’s intentions are to defeat the tax but more likely to capitalise on the success of the non registration campaign, and after victory claim they were with us all along.

Why does the always come up as teh for me?

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15. Blissett - February 17, 2012

2 seperate points. One, is this article, which has some interesting, and troubling statistics on prisons in the US

http://nplusonemag.com/raise-the-crime-rate

It loses shape at the end, with some nuts solutions, but the start of the piece is really good. Did not realise the sheer scale of the American Prison Population.

Secondly on the household charge, just to offer a view. While the campaign seems to be gathering momentum, and it does, I’m not sure that the Government are terribly concerned by non payment, and indeed, I amn’t sure that there are likely to become any more so. This is a temporary charge, which will be wrapped up in some 12 months, and the sum that would be collected is relatively modest in terms of the states finance. Whats more is that what money is likely to be collected will be money for local authorities, so none of Big Phils cabinet colleagues will lose money for any of their deparments. More importantly, nothing would suit him better than for one or two local authorities to fail to pass budgets (as i suspect is a distinct possibility), and to give him the pretext for shutting a few of them down, or merging them. This would play right in to his hands. Certainly I dont expect the Government to pursue those who don’t pay too hotly, and it’s highly unlikely many people will end up before the courts. I recently brought up this topic with an LP member, and noted the numbers mobilising for these meetings. His response was basically, it will collect what it will collect, and we’ll look at it again with the property tax next year.
None of which is intended to criticise the Campaign, or predict its demise. On the contrary, it may be a positive. Meetings can be held, people can be mobilised politicised and they can gain a victory in not having to pay it themselves, and no nasty sting in the tail by way of facing the courts.

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ghandi - February 17, 2012

Yes there is some merit in what you say, however even if that how it pans out they are still left with the problem of not having a register. The compiling of the register is the key target, and the reason why they set the rate at €100, hoping that people would fall for the spin of only €2 per week.

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16. Mark P - February 17, 2012

Clare Daly is introducing a private members bill to legislate for abortion where there is a risk to the life of the mother, in accordance with the X case.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/0217/breaking44.html

That should cause some interesting scenes in the Dail next week, given that Labour, while opposed to a woman’s right to choose, are officially in favour of legislating for the X case.

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irishelectionliterature - February 17, 2012
Mark P - February 17, 2012

They’ve been in three governments since the X case ruling and have never even attempted to introduce legislation.

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HAL - February 17, 2012

Fair play to Clare,although it will cause more unrest in the Sinn Fein ranks than Labour it would make for interesting newsprint.

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Mark P - February 17, 2012

Labour isn’t left wing in any way shape or form, but it is a liberal party and quite a lot of liberals care about abortion. There may well be straightforward, neo-liberal in economics, liberal on social issues, Labour Party types who feel strongly enough on the issue to break ranks.

At least one Labour backbencher, as well as one-foot-in Nulty, has come out in support of the Action on X campaign for instance.

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17. TheOtherRiverR(h)ine - February 23, 2012

http://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-insider-exposes-institute-s-budget-and-strategy

Those crazy Koch brothers are at it again – from financing hawkish US Republicans for a war they’d profit from now to actually trying to screw up the planets environment.

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WorldbyStorm - February 23, 2012

There was a great piece on that on NPR’s To The Point on this earlier in the week. Very depressing.

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