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Paratroopers being trained in riot control for Britain January 29, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in British Politics.
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30th January is the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. According to the Telegraph website, the soldiers of 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment are being trained in riot response in case there is a repeat of the riots of last summer. Soldiers were trained in this for Northern Ireland (and it’s possible some still are), but on this weekend of all weekends, you wonder what sort of a mindset wants to put the paratroopers in confrontation with civilians, even if they wouldn’t be carrying rifles. The story presumably reflect Tory fears that the cuts might see widespread public protest on the streets of Britain and especially London over the next few years, and they want to be ready to crack down hard.

That latest Red C Poll January 28, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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There’s a Red C opinion poll in tomorrows Sunday Business Post
Since the last poll

Fine Gael: 30% (-2)
Independents/ Others / Greens: 21% (+1)
Fianna Fail: 18% (no change)
Sinn Féin: 17% (+2)
Labour: 14% (-1)

Seat wise Dotski over at Irish Polling Report ran the numbers through the magic spreadsheet and got

FG 30%,60
FF 18%,31
SF 17%,24
LP 14%,25
OTH 21%,26

The poll was taken before Enda told us we all went mad borrowing.

Since the last General Election the figures are

Fine Gael: 36.1% – 6.1%
Fianna Fail: 17.4% +0.6%
Sinn Fein: 9.9% +7.1%
Labour: 19.4% -5.4%
Independents/Others/ Greens: 17.2% +3.8%

So between them Labour and Fine Gael have declined 11.5% since the election. Sinn Fein and The Independents/Others/Greens have picked up most of the slack with Fianna Fail only slightly up.
Again and these are headline figures, no mention of the constituent parts of the The Independents/Others/Greens so we cant tell exactly which part of that group is picking up votes.
A very good poll for Sinn Fein though at 17% and with the tribunal findings coming out soon they could easily overtake Fianna Fail.
No real shocks though in the results of that part of the poll.

Pollsters then asked

Do you think that the Irish people should be asked to ratify any proposed treaty change through a referendum?*

Yes – 72%
No – 21%
Don’t know – 7%

And then a surprising amount answered Yes to the other question asked…..

*How do you think you would vote in such a referendum?*

Yes – 40%
No – 36%
Don’t know – 24%

Its early days yet but I wouldn’t have expected there to be 40% in favour. The gap is only 4% and there are plenty of don’t knows but still I’m sure the government will see the numbers as encouraging.

Interview with former FF Cllr… January 28, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
3 comments

…in the Mail, conducted by Jason O’Toole. It’s an odd tale of former FF Cllr. Liam Kelly who was blackmailed by a man who threatened him with a photograph of him allegedly taking cocaine at a party. Kelly, a recovering alcoholic strenuously denied the allegation, and a man was jailed this week for the crime of blackmail.

In its own way it’s a depressing story and it is only the political angle which is of particular interest. As the Irish Times report notes:

After the court case, Mr Kelly was highly critical of the handling of the matter by Fianna Fáil and said he had felt “betrayed”.

This latter part is expanded upon in the Mail interview.

However, Kelly stresses that he was‘ordered’ not to speak while the Garda investigation was in progress and while Fianna Fáil held its own internal inquiry. For some inexplicable reason, the Fianna Fáil inquiry took substantially longer than the Garda investigation into the incident. But when Kelly was finally exonerated and welcomed back into the political frame, it was on the condition that he apologise for any embarrassment to the party and not speak publicly about the scandal.

It continues:

This latter condition was the ‘final straw’ for Kelly, who felt it would be impossible to remain silent forever about the incriminating photograph. So he quit the party. ‘I had reason to believe that Fianna Fáil was briefing against me to the media, not only to disassociate themselves from me but to pile on the pressure for me to relinquish the whip.

And Kelly didn’t see this as the end of his political life.

Kelly fought on in the next local election as a Fianna Fáil candidate, but failed to retain his seat — losing by a mere 55 votes. ‘The loss of a council seat is a brutal experience, unlike TDs you don’t get a lump sum or bonus — merely four days’ pay!’

An interesting point, but probably not one that is likely to endear him to a broader electorate.

Kelly now plans to consult lawyers about the possibility of taking legal action against Fianna Fáil because of how the party conducted its inquiry. ‘I am considering legal action. I reached an agreement with Fianna Fáil HQ at the time that I would not speak to the press while they had their inquiry. ‘The agreement was that the inquiry would last for four months and that I could account for myself to the media at the end of that four-month period. I honoured that agreement which led to a situation where the media got the impression I was afraid to talk to them or believed myself unaccountable to them. ‘But they stalled — and it made me look like a liar.’ Kelly is still angry about how he was treated by Bertie Ahern, who he says denounced him, further upsetting his family.

And his ire at Fianna Fáil knows no limit:

‘They had an inquiry into me and treated me terribly — yet Fianna Fáil didn’t have an inquiry into the party leader over his unorthodox finances.

Which is also a fair enough point too.

‘It’s very obvious that if I had come from a political dynasty or been higher up the hierarchy as a TD I would have been treated differently. ‘At the end of the day, the State found that I had been a victim of crime. Fianna Fáil should take responsibility for all that unfolded during the inquiry. ‘I was discriminated against. They should compensate me for the actual costs involved.’ He now hopes that with the court case wrapping up yesterday it will enable him to ‘move forward’ and rebuild his life. Kelly — who once worked in PR at RTÉ star Bill O’Herlihy’s communications firm — has been unable to secure employment since the controversy blew up.

The piece also notes that:

…It’s certainly been a dramatic fall from grace for Kelly — a contemporary of Ryan Tubridy at university who had once been described by political pundits as the ‘golden boy’of Fianna Fáil and regarded by his local cumann as the heir apparent to his senior constituency colleagues, ex-ministers Noel Ahern and Pat Carey.

In a way it exemplifies, and without getting into the details of the specific case, how the world has changed, how Irish society has changed and how FF has and hasn’t. Of course there’d be a closing of ranks behind a leadership, as against a local councillor, but one wonders was there a degree of incomprehension on the part of the party as to how to deal with the allegations, as distinct from more ‘traditional’ accusations.

This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… New Order, Movement January 28, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Let’s wind back to 1981 (and ignore, if we can, the news of the most recent split in the ranks of New Order – you can find Peter Hook and his band touring the two main Joy Division albums while New Order tour without him). After the death of Ian Curtis Joy Division had collapsed, but Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris soon regrouped as New Order with new member Gillian Gilbert and dragged Martin Hannett back for one last time to produce them and generate this curious amalgam of what they were and what they would be.

Granted, this is little off the beaten track in terms of New Order’s discography. It is an album that has been too readily dismissed as sounding Joy Division like. Yet to reposition this in its rightful place in their canon is in no way to dismiss the power of their subsequent albums. But their excellence – and the clear distaste the group itself had for Movement, has tended to overshadow its mastery of the post-punk form and its status as arguably their most cohesive single body of work.

A cold, almost tinny artefact, the album is filled with filter effects – Hannett was either the greatest chancer ever or an absolute stone genius, and I tend to the latter view. Despite the greater use of keyboards, the filters and the glacial production make it sound almost entirely unlike anything they would do subsequently. There’s lots of space here, but there’s also a layering that wasn’t present before. In part that’s due to the keyboards – which are used sparingly but with a determinedly elegiac quality. That this should sound almost retro but doesn’t is perhaps due the emotional cast of the album. Lyrically and vocally it’s far too easy to write this album off as depressed – and the near emulation of Ian Curtis’s vocal style probably doesn’t help in that regard, but that’s not quite it. The vocals are urgent, reflective and often balanced between weariness and also a sort of anger. But whereas with Joy Division they seemed at times to drive the music, here it is the reverse as Sumner and Hook eschew front man status and allow the music to carry that role – an approach that characterised much of New Orders output through the 1980s and after.

And as the album continues this increasing emphasis on tone and texture is ever more evident. It starts with “Dreams Never End”, vocal duties taken on by Peter Hook. A song with an almost perfect introduction that sounds initially like Joy Division redux but then sharpish moves into a more complex layered sound. “Truth”, the next track might have cosmetic similarities with Joy Division too, but with synth drums and some odd melodic foreshadowing of tracks off Power, Corruption and Lies it too represents a shift. Then we’re into “Sense”, propelled by a none-more-deep synthesised bass, which uses a bunch of filters to provide more synthesised percussion. “The him” starts and stops and starts again, the rush of instrumentation reflecting the lyrical concerns. But the fullness of the sound pushes out vocals entirely as the track moves to its end.

It’s the second but last track, “Doubts Even Here”, which in a way provides the bridge between Joy Division and New Order. Once more, and for the last time with New Order, Hook took over lead vocals and provided a sound remarkably close to that of Curtis. A keyboard courtesy of Gillian Gilbert provides stately chords. So far so Joy Division, albeit at a slower pace. But then the percussion goes slightly mad with crashes and bangs that cut whipcrack across the track [and Stephen Morris deserves recognition for just how central he is to the overall sound], and a woman’s voice, again Gilbert, intones matching spoken vocals, an absolute first for New Order (and in some respects a last – unfortunately), something that gives it a post-punk edge that positions it directly in 1981 but somehow doesn’t quite date it.

Listen to the bass line in “Chosen Time” which lopes along, the urgent reiteration of a simple succession of notes… Even 31 years later… gulp, that has a raw power and urgency pushing it forward. It’s different to that which was to come later, more primitive – but it strongly hints at an electronica and dance inflected future. Finally “Denial”, a track that also presages future developments with a rapidly strummed guitar sound and a bassline that although on the surface seems to reference back to Joy Division is by contrast faster, almost funkier. They were decisively changing gear. And if it’s not quite what they would do next, it does indicate where they might have gone.

Pervading the music is a sense that they couldn’t take their original sound much further – even if the last Joy Division album had seen the introduction of touches of keyboard here and there. The weight of their history, only three or four years old, but already cohering into a near mythic body of work, wouldn’t allow them, and some sort of further experimentation, something different, was the only way forward.

Perhaps that’s the real power of this album. There’s much less sense of a group constrained by their past than might be expected, instead it sounds like a group, despite pro forma nods to that past, which is willing, and almost enthusiastic, to try to break free of it and in the process mapping out a range of alternative paths forward.

I think that was an achievement in itself.

Dreams Never End

Senses

Doubts Even Here

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Mathematicians organising “Occupy Elsevier” January 28, 2012

Posted by Tomboktu in Business, Capitalism, Science.
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Timothy Gowers, professor of mathematics at Cambridge, has suggested that mathematicians should boycott leading journals published by Elsevier. He lists four reasons:

1. It charges very high prices — so far above the average that it seems quite extraordinary that they can get away with it.

2. One method that they have for getting away with it is a practice known as “bundling”, where instead of giving libraries the choice of which journals they want to subscribe to, they offer them the choice between a large collection of journals (chosen by them) or nothing at all. So if some Elsevier journals in the “bundle” are indispensable to a library, that library is forced to subscribe at very high subscription rates to a large number of journals, across all the sciences, many of which they do not want. (The journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals is a notorious example of a journal that is regarded as a joke by many mathematicians, but which libraries all round the world must nevertheless subscribe to.) Given that libraries have limited budgets, this often means that they cannot subscribe to journals that they would much rather subscribe to, so it is not just libraries that are harmed, but other publishers, which is of course part of the motivation for the scheme.

3. If libraries attempt to negotiate better deals, Elsevier is ruthless about cutting off access to all their journals.

4. Elsevier supports many of the measures, such as the Research Works Act, that attempt to stop the move to open access. They also supported SOPA and PIPA and lobbied strongly for them.

And now there is a site where academics can sign up to “occupy Elsevier”.

I left maths behind a long time ago (Gowers’s department is holding seminars on “C^{1,α} regularity of solutions of degenerate elliptic equations” and “Scaling limits for anisotropic Hastings-Levitov type clusters” — crikes, I really have left it behind). I recently took an interest in what is known about apples and their genetic diversity, and was irritated to find publicly-funded research held behind pay-walls, at €34 a pop. And I used to work for a sub-contractor to Elsevier’s Shannon outfit, where we dealt with medical journals (and one on forensic science). All in all, I am glad to see this initiaitve.

Bit’s and Pieces… Understatement on Mitt Romney’s income, Newt Gingrich, teachers and social media, self-employment and more… January 27, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left, US Politics.
10 comments

Let’s start with some appropriate understatement. On KCRW’s To The Point, in interview Brody Mullins of the WSJ answered the following question:

Tell us a little bit more about his income over two years… where does it come from?

Really just from investments.. he gives a couple of speeches a year and from that earns a paltry $500,000… but most just investments… some from overseas… and that’s why he enjoys such a low tax rate… Bush era tax cuts, income derived from investment is taxed at 15% whereas regular income is taxed much higher up to 30%.

Who says Americans don’t do irony?

Also noted on To The Point, when Newt Gingrich took offence during the debate just prior to the North Carolina primary at questions over allegations of open marriage proposals and such like surfacing in the media why wasn’t the point made that it was he who had done precisely the same during the 1990s in relation to Bill Clinton at precisely the time he himself was having an affair – and given that Gingrich’s complaint appears not to be the veracity of these allegations but the fact they’re aired at all the issue of the former is irrelevant.

Here’s something that amazed me. I don’t usually feel my jaw drop reading articles, but this was something else. A range of examples of teachers whose use of social media has shaded into something quite dubious. Actually, strike that, very dubious indeed.

More than one in 10 school teachers accused of misconduct last year had used social networking sites and email to forge inappropriate relationships with their pupils, an analysis of disciplinary cases has found.
Facebook, Twitter, online chatrooms and emails were used to befriend children in 43 of the cases brought to the regulator, the General Teaching Council for England in 2011. Eighteen teachers were given prohibition orders and struck off, while 14 were suspended. In all, the GTC heard 336 cases of “unacceptable professional conduct” last year.

And what of this?

A disciplinary case brought against an English teacher, Lee Butcher, who taught at Garforth community college in Leeds came to light only after a pupil’s mother read parts of a Facebook exchange between the teacher and a former pupil.

And the details?

An investigation found that Butcher had had “inappropriate and sexually explicit” conversations with the 16-year-old over the site for three months. They included comments about the former pupil posing for erotic photos over a webcam.
During the exchanges with the girl, he tried to make sure she was alone and asked her not to tell anyone about them. The parent who discovered the exchanges believed they had also been emailed to other pupils.
There were no criminal proceedings, but Butcher admitted unacceptable professional conduct. A GTC committee reprimanded him, saying: “Teachers must not establish or seek to establish social contact with pupils, children or young people for the purpose of securing a friendship or to pursue or strengthen a relationship. That extends to the use of social networking sites such as Facebook.”
He was given a 12-month suspension order, from May 2011, but not struck off.

Some would think that that was a very generous. But the question that raises its head about the cases quoted is ‘how could any of the teachers have a sense that these were appropriate behaviours?

The curious thing is that as someone lecturing in 3rd level I’ve had discussions with colleagues about these issues. Tutorials take place in rooms with windows, or doors slightly ajar. There’s no communication on matters relating to none work related matters by email or social media and so on [I’m not saying it never happens but of those who were discussing the issue the consensus was that these are, again, inappropriate behaviours]. So the idea as expressed by one headteacher that…

The difficulty is that we didn’t grow up with social media, and therefore we fear it and don’t understand how our children interact with it. It’s easy to see the negatives, hard to understand how to protect the children – and very easy to ignore the positives.

… is a bit hard to take. The internet has been an increasingly pervasive part of life for over a decade and a half now for most people. It didn’t fall from the sky last year. That’s plenty of time for schools and other institutions to set out usage policies and so forth. But even if they hadn’t how could teachers believe that non work relationships were appropriate one way or another – whether conducted largely or not on social media. Duty of care and other phrases spring to mind.

Also in the Guardian John Harris has a good piece on how the rhetoric of self-employment, while find for some, is arguably a cul-de-sac for many others. An expedient one for the Conservatives though given that slipping towards self-employment alters the nature of the relationship with the state.

This week David Cameron will once again make a show of his support for an initiative called StartUp Britain, after paying tribute to its ethos in his “popular capitalism” speech last week: “If you take a risk, quit your job, create the next Google or Facebook and wind up a billionaire, then more power to your elbow.”

This is typically extravagant stuff, but the obvious riposte is how many Google’s or Facebooks are there? One each by my count, so effectively a couple of risk takers can look forward to the ‘rewards’. And the other risk takers? Harris references a CIPD report…

As happened in the Thatcher years, we are awash with such talk, just when going it alone is more difficult than ever – and, moreover, the grim truth about most new self-employment has just been revealed. “The additional self-employed are unlike self-employed people as a whole in terms of gender, hours of work, occupation and sector of employment,” says the CIPD’s report. Tellingly, of those who make up the net rise in self-employment since 2008, 90% are part-time. Moreover, the report’s author, John Philpott, talks about people “without skills, picking up whatever bits and pieces of work are available”, whose emergence “hardly suggests a surge in genuine entrepreneurial zeal.”

It’s the basic problem. Whatever about enthusiasm only a small fraction of those moving into the category – by the stats available – will make much a decent living in it. Only a tiny fraction will do much better.

Not that the Conservatives will worry overmuch.

The Tories are on 40%, up three percentage points from December, while Labour has drifted down one to 35%. The Liberal Democrats are on 16%, up one.

I tend to see Milliband as a weak enough leader, so on one level 35 per cent is good enough. But it’s not great, and against this particular Tory led government it’s nowhere near great enough. The next election is still some years away but one wonders what thinking is going on inside the LP currently as to how to change those numbers. Mind you, even the polling picture is fairly mixed still…

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times recorded a five-point Conservative lead, whereas ComRes for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror now have the two main parties level-pegging, after the same company recorded a four-point Labour lead in December.

Though it seems that one Boris Johnson is set to enter the Commons in the next couple of years. Can this be true and if so what of his bid to retain the Mayor of London role? He himself rules it out…

“I really don’t see how I can run for Parliament in 2015. Let’s kill this. I’m ruling myself out.”
But Reigate may appear a more attractive prospect if Johnson finds himself with a bit more time on his hands in May. Two successive polls in recent days have given Livingstone a narrow lead.

Nice to have a parachute prepacked and ready, no?

Returning briefly to the US Republican primary contest I’d found a lot of comments on articles online from Ron Paul supporters saying that he was arguing the Golden Rule. Intrigued I have to be honest, I had to look up the Golden Rule. It may be familiar to many of us, albeit formulated in various different ways… [from wiki]:

The “Golden Rule” has been attributed to Jesus of Nazareth: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12, see also Luke 6:31). The common English phrasing is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

But here’s a thing. When Ron Paul tried out a variation on this in explaining his stance on foreign policy to an audience consisting in no small part of Christian evangelicals at the South Carolina primary debate the response was…well, here’s the ABC report…

Paul’s willingness to stand up for what he believes in when it comes to U.S. involvement in foreign countries hurt him repeatedly in Monday’s debate.
The conservative Republican electorate in South Carolina booed Paul’s answers on foreign policy and Texas Gov. Rick Perry even suggested that a gong should have been used to cut Paul off.

Christian evangelicals and an avowedly Christian oriented party booing the Golden Rule.
A bit of consistency lads would go a long way.

More on Enda Kennys “We The Irish caused it all!” January 27, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
3 comments

Enda explains the global financial crisis to the world in Davos – no Lehman’s, no sub-prime lending, no unregulated global banking sector… We The Irish caused it all!

98.3% January 27, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
7 comments

That’s the figure of those who haven’t paid the household tax quoted last night at a campaign meeting on North Strand [of which more later]. Even if it’s gone down a little that’s still an huge figure and although the big guns of government will no doubt be trained on the electorate [‘we all partied’ – natch] it provides a strong basis for the current campaign. Is there some way of finding out online what the figure is on a continuous basis?

This Week At The Irish Election Literature Blog January 27, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Election Literature Blog, Irish Politics.
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Given he’s back in the news…. a few from Ivor ….
“What are Your Children up to Online?” he asks.

Then his 2009 Newsletter which might be of use to him now as it includes a section on ‘HOW TO COPE THROUGH DIFFICULTIES‘

Away from Ivor to a leaflet from the Repudiate the Debt campaign

Then this one might be of interest to city dwellers
An “Information leaflet on proposed Septic Tanks and Associated Charges” from Mattie McGrath

Then from Cumann na nGaedhael 1932 “De Valera’s Policy All Along has been Un-Irish and Un-Catholic” , “Remember Spain and Mexico”

And finally a 1979 Flyer and notepaper for Bert Bennett, Jim Maher, Dave Neligan ,Máirín Breheny of the Socialist Labour Party

Peig, she’s an old woman now with one foot in the grave and the other on the edge…. January 26, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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Had forgotten about these until I was reminded by seeing a copy of Peig in the attic at home.

Having suffered through Peig at school these gave me a great laugh when they came out in the mid 1990s.

 

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