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A revealing aside… October 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

…about Israel in today’s reports about the war of words between the US administration and the government of that state.

Responding to the remarks late on Tuesday night, Israel’s far-right economics minister, Naftali Bennett, used his Facebook page to call for Washington to renounce the comments: “If what was written [in The Atlantic] is true, then it appears the current administration plans to throw Israel under the bus.
The prime minister is not a private person but the leader of the Jewish state and the whole Jewish world. Such severe insults towards the prime minister of Israel are hurtful to millions of Israeli citizens and Jews all over the world.
“Instead of attacking Israel and forcing it to accept suicidal terms, it should be strengthened. I call on the US administration to renounce these coarse comments and to reject them outright.”

That’s a most interesting contention/confusion in regard to a Republic with a President – even in a context where executive power is vested in the PM, and I think it speaks volumes about deeply problematic dynamics within Israeli politics and beyond and about the nature of relationships that are expected to be extant between the state and Jews outside Israel on the part of some within the state. I’d almost say that it is a central part of the problem – an attitude whereby what the government of Israel does is in essence indivisible from the best interests of the Israeli and Jewish people.

What you want to say – 29th October 2014 October 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

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

CLR QUIZ 3 from O’er the Water October 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

From NollagO, a very welcome quiz…

1. Born in Ballylongford in 1850. Drowned on June 1916 when his ship, HMS Hampshire, sank west of the Orkney Islands struck by a German mine. He was making his way to Russia in order to attend negotiations. Who?

2. One of the left wing students in UCC in the 1950s. According to oral history his views then were considered so left wing for the time that he was dubbed the Antichrist. He became prominent nationally in the 1960s. Over time his politics moved publically very much to the right. He became a Fine Gael supporter the 1980s. Who?

3. In a by-election in 1982 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, the Labour candidate lost his deposit. Who was he?

4. If Criminals were green, Communists were red and Jehovah’s Witnesses were purple, who were yellow and who were pink? Where?

5. This racehorse, named after a disputed territory, was, in 2003, itself the subject of an ownership dispute. Name the horse.

6. British soldiers who had completed their tour of duty were sent to a small town in western India, to await transportation home. Because of the frequent delays of many months, boredom and heat, many a soldier turned insane. What is the slang name of the town which also part of a common phrase still in use?

7. Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley-Cooper, and Lauderdale were a group of behind-the-scenes advisers to British Monarch Charles II from 1668 to circa 1674. How were they better known? [There’s a clue in the question.]

8. Who, famously, was governor of the Bahamas from 1940 till 1945?

9. Prior to The Act of Union of 1707 there used to be a Scottish Embassy in London. Where?

10. On the orders of the First Lord of the British Admiralty, HMS Pandora left Portsmouth in November 1790 on a special mission. After visiting several Pacific islands including Tahiti, the ship ran aground on August 1791 on the Great Barrier Reef and sank. What was the uncompleted mission?

11. He first appointed John Nance Garner in 1933. His second appointment was Henry Wallace from 1941 till 1945. His third and final appointment was from January, 1945 till April, 1945? Who was he and which famous person did he appoint in 1945?

12. After a 10-week trial at Winchester Crown Court in 1973 when the jury returned a not-guilty verdict on one of the nine defendants, the others began to hum the Dead March from Saul and one threw a coin at her, shouting “Take your blood money with you”. What was that all about?

13. It was a secular Jewish socialist movement founded in the Russian Empire in 1897. By what four letter word was the better known?

14. In 1941, a mysterious Mr Galvin wrote to the Daily Telegraph offering to donate £100 to charity if anyone could complete a Daily Telegraph crossword in less than 12 minutes under supervised conditions. Six people did. What subsequent offer were the six made?

15. A horse called Anmer ran in the 1913 Derby but, famously, did not finish the race. Who owned the horse?

And a bonus question, slightly tongue in cheek!

16. Point 9 of The Official Monster Raving Looney Party’s 2010 General Election Manifesto was “We will ban all forms of Greyhound racing.” What justification did the manifesto give for this policy?

This whole capitalism thing… October 26, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This book, reviewed in Slate, and only 200 pages long, on the history and aspects of vaccination by Eula Biss, sounds fascinating. The areas it touches on are both contemporary and important but also locked into what can be seen as a progressive (in many meanings of the term) struggle.

But I’m going to quote the reviewer Mark O’Connell at length because I think he makes a basic point in a particularly good way.

Biss handles with real intellectual seriousness and sensitivity the fears of those who oppose the vaccination of infants. It’s a subject that is often presented, in an unsubtly gendered way, as a conflict between a bunch of hysterical young mothers and a soberly paternal scientific consensus. She acknowledges that these fears are misaligned, but refuses to dismiss them, and writes out of an understanding of where they might be coming from—a fear of toxicity, of the impure and the unnatural, and an intuitive unease with the devil’s bargain of inoculation that is heightened by a contemporary context of a world drowning in pollutants, both chemical and moral. “That so many of us find it entirely plausible that a vast network of researchers and health officials and doctors worldwide would willfully harm children for money is evidence of what capitalism is really taking from us.” (Something like this logic might usefully be applied to the more elaborate misinterpretations advanced by conspiracy theorists, with their Illuminati bloodlines and their arcane cryptographies. Whenever I hear someone talking about the New World Order or some other hidden elite running the whole show at the expense of the rest of us, I want to gently suggest that they might just be overthinking it, and that they should maybe try looking into this whole capitalism thing.)

I love that last point. It’s so spot on.

On a complete tangent I like this comment too…

The key thing about children is that the human child is the most efficient disease vector known to man. Once your kids reach adolescence, you’ll be much, much healthier.

True that.

From 2005 advice to Sinn Fein from the SWP October 24, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, The Left, Uncategorized.

Distributed outside the 2005 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis by the SWP…
click to enlarge….

What you want to say – 22nd October October 22, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

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

SF, the IRA and another legacy of the conflict. October 21, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Uncategorized.

It has to be said that the testimony of Maíria Cahill is extremely compelling. The specific issue is grim in the extreme, its implications for broader processes difficult to ascertain.

The question does arise as to where this can go? It’s difficult to see a legal route forward. But that doesn’t predicate against other processes where people voluntarily come forward to assist. There’s a political dimension to this, which is worth discussing further in a different post. But it’s important to untangle politicisation (from whatever quarter) from the core issue of a woman who felt that the experiences she described were marginalised or dismissed or the processes she was subjected to were incomplete and biased.

It is areas and issues like this which have proven so troubling as the armed conflict stage has slipped into the past, as against paramilitary activities as such – which is not to say the latter haven’t been troubling. The interface between internal codes of discipline and behaviour and an external society which where the broader legal framework was – for a significant number – simply invalid has thrown up some deeply difficult contradictions even before we arrive at these events.

It speaks of issues of democratic legitimation for processes that had no societal legal element, and the dangers of relying upon those processes that were internal to organisations. Simply put internal investigations were in and of themselves flawed from the off. It also points up the isolation of those who found themselves in situations like that Maíria Cahill has outlined where there were those who abused what authority there was and there was no alternative authority to appeal to.

A voice of orthodoxy and the Budget… October 21, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Some may have been surprised reading some thoughts on the Budget to hear the oft repeated line that the income tax system here is uniquely progressive. Stephen Collins, for it is he, in his ‘Inside Politics’ column was very critical of the opposition response to the Budget. Not entirely, but:,

Fianna Fбil finance spokesman Michael McGrath made one of the more sensible speeches, suggesting that the budget “is all about using borrowed money to buy votes” , but the main thrust of his criticism was that the budget was taking from the poor and giving to the well-off.

But, for there is a but…

Yet, as Michael Noonan pointed out in his speech, the top 1 per cent of income earners will pay 21 per cent of all income tax, while the bottom 76 per cent will pay 20 per cent of the total, following the changes he announced on Tuesday.

Now, Collins doesn’t see this as a function of low wages (more on that below). Indeed he misses the point completely.

The outstanding feature of the Irish income tax system that differentiates it from most others is that the lower paid are required to pay very little tax.

Then we are treated to the following:

Ireland actually has one of the most progressive income tax systems in the developed world. The wide pretence that this is not the case simply leads to a phoney political debate in which the public is misled about the real options facing government.

Michael Taft has takes an analytical eye to such analyses – by way of the Nevin Institute

Dr. Micheal Collins and Dara Turnbull investigated the issue in a working paper published by the Nevin Economic Research Institute, based on the CSO’s Household Budget Survey 2009/10. They found that, contrary to the received wisdom, the poorest 10 percent income group pays as much tax as the top 10 percent tax and that our tax system is far less progressive than some have claimed.

And why would that be? Because Collins only focuses on one aspect of tax, income tax and ignores all else. And that skews – to put it mildly, the results:

Collins and Turnbull estimated the impact of all taxation – income tax, USC, PRSI, and (and this is the key innovation of this study) indirect tax such as VAT and Excise, and levies such as TV licenses and vehicle taxes. Previously, claims about the tax contribution of high income groups narrowly focused on income tax and, sometimes, PRSI.

And how much of the overall tax take comes from non-income tax sources?

Over 40 percent of tax revenue comes from indirect taxation. The following shows the extent to which indirect taxation undermines the progressivity of the tax system.

And, crucially undermining Collins argument there is this:

Unsurprisingly, the lowest income groups pay substantially more of their income on VAT, excise and levies than higher income groups. So when this is combined with direct taxation – income tax, USC and PRSI – we get only an overall marginally progressive effect.

Michael notes that the study doesn’t cover all bases. For example, ‘it doesn’t include the benefit of public services’ but that does nothing to invalidate the proposition that the progressive nature that Collins ascribes to the system is very much in the eye of the beholder. One could even, I suspect, argue that any discussion of taxation that simply rests on income tax is… well… a phoney politica debate.

Collins also looks at the following:

The independent public policy think tank PublicPolicy.ie recently pointed to the progressive nature of the Irish tax system and looked at the argument that we should aspire to the “Nordic model” of high taxes and high public spending.
“To reach Nordic levels of income taxation (including PRSI), everybody in Ireland would have to pay more, but the increase would bear most heavily on the bottom half of the income distribution. For example, if the tax rates in Ireland were at the average of the five Nordic countries, a single person on half average earnings would pay an additional Ђ3,200 per year and a single individual on 2Ѕ times average earnings would pay about Ђ2,000 more.”

But hold on, what are the levels of wages in those economies?
As Michael notes here:

Hourly employee compensation is much, much higher in [Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Austria] We’re low paid and still our competitiveness, as assessed by business authorities, lags well behind.

And let’s not even begin to consider the range of services that higher taxation pays for in many of those states. That’d be a pretty good deal this side of the socialist transformation.
As it happens it’s not just genuine social democrats or socialists who broadly contradict Collins arguments, for as noted earlier today, Cliff Taylor writing in the IT has some oddly similar criticisms of the Budget. More on them tomorrow.

The arbitrary cartographer… October 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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…love maps, and love this as well. From Slate, an article on how the US can be divided up in various ways, to form two, three, five and so on states of equal population. Of course, that’s not quite how it works…but…

“Forget the myths the media’s created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.” All the President’s Men,1976 October 18, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

This is a classic, but pretty flawed at this remove. I don’t think I had seen it in three decades and while it’s very good, I’m not sure it’s great. There’s a degree of repetition in the last half hour that sits oddly with the rest, though in truth that may be an accurate reflection of the reality of newspaper life then Still, there’s a lot to like, from the leads – Hoffman is more interesting than Redford, by quite some distance – through to the supporting cast through to a self-contained and near enough claustrophobic atmosphere that pervades the film but is most evident in the scenes with Deep Throat. The reimagining of the actual break-in that opens the film is superb, not least for the way it shows up how cack-handed the whole affair was. As ever the question of why Nixon allowed matters to get to this pass overshadows these events, given that he was remarkably popular throughout 1971/2 and in the run-up to the 1972 Presidential election.

Got to enjoy the following trailer – ‘at times it looked like it might cost them their jobs’… hmmm. Okay.

And here a scene from the recreated Washington Post newsroom…


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