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Left Archive: “Are We Two Nations?” – Fortnight Magazine, March, 1972, British and Irish Communist Organisations December 31, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO), Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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This from Fortnight Magazine, March 1972, written by L. Callender on behalf of BICO, represents an encapsulation of the Two Nations theory. Many thanks to the person who forwarded the photocopy.

FORNIGHT BICO 1

FORTNIGHT BICO 2

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Same sex marriage, George Takei and seeing as we’ve mentioned Star Trek December 31, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Heartening news today on the brink of the New Year to hear that the first same-sex marriage ceremonies took place in Scotland today. Now there’s an historic moment, though this might show the way yet to go, even in the UK:

Same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales in March. Northern Ireland has no plans to introduce gay marriage.

Equally heartening is this from On the Media a month or so back where Bob Garfield interviewed George Takei (Sulu from Star Trek, amongst other roles). Takei was, with his family, interned by the United State government, along with many thousands of other Japanese-Americans, and he recalls the way that shaped him.

It became normal for me to go with my father to a mass shower, line up three times a day to eat lousy food in a noisy mess hall. Go to school in a black tar paper barrack. Begin the day with the pledge of allegiance to the flag. That’s what made me an activist. I’ve been an activist in the social justice movement, in political campaigns, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, was in the peace movement during the Vietnam War. Was engaged in the redress for Japanese Americans. Concurrently, I was pursuing an acting career. I was able to parlay whatever microphone or camera that Star Trek offered me to, uh, amplify my voice on the issues that I was campaigning for [he also has run as a liberal Democrat for various offices].

Although a fairly open secret that he was gay he didn’t come out until 2005 at 68.

In 2005, both Houses of the California state legislature passed the marriage equality bill. However, at that time our governor was a movie star; Arnold Schwarzenegger. He ran by saying, ‘I’m from Hollywood – I’ve worked with gays and lesbians. Some of my best friends are.” And I must say that some of my gay friends did vote for him because of that statement. But, his base was the conservative right wing Republican base. So when the bill came to his desk, he vetoed it. That got me so angry. My blood was boiling. That I felt that I needed to speak out. And for me to speak out – my voice needed to be authentic. And so I spoke to the press for the first time as a gay man.

And this is telling:

I could not have had a career if I were out. No producer would hire you. So I was closeted for most of my life. I was out to family and very close friends. And my Star Trek colleagues knew. And the end of the week we would have our wrap parties. And the beer would be rolled out and the pizza would be brought in. And people would bring their wives or husbands or boyfriends or girlfriends with them. And I frequently had ‘buddies’ with me. And so, you know, my colleagues, are hip. They said, ‘Oh George, I get it.’ But they also knew that if they spoke about it – they would damage my career. So you know, my colleagues knew but in 2005 when Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill I had to speak out. And I was mindful of the fact that it would probably have an adverse impact on my career. But as it turned out, it blossomed. And I was being cast in TV episodes as a character named George Takei. And that character was gay. So I was playing gay George Takei.

Given the Star Trek connection, this from the Incomparable podcast stable is a highly entertaining run through of individual ST/DS9/Voyager and Enterprise episodes.

And it’s a big hallo to our readers in Mongolia, and other facts about the Cedar Lounge Revolution’s year in blogging… December 31, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in CLR empirebuilding.
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WordPress has a round-up of facts about its sites every December, and the one about the CLR has just arrived, and it’s kind of curious and intriguing.

First up, every day of the year bar Christmas Day at least one post was posted up (indeed the only day with 1 post was July 1st). Then there are ‘Attractions’, i.e. the posts which got the most views.

Number 1? The Top 400 Secondary Schools in Ireland, all the way from 2010.

Number 2? A Political Background to All the Independents elected in the Local Elections from IEL posted in May

Number 3? Tombuktu’s John Waters on Debate, the Media and the Truth from February.

Number 4? John Waters views on gay marriage. Clue: he’s not a fan, and it’s something to do with cycle lanes and wheel barrows. Seriously… from me, and posted in 2009! Nothing ever dies on the internet, or so it would seem.

Number 5! The Lia Fáil from doctor five, from this May.

As WordPress says, ‘Consider writing about those topics again’. Oh we will, we will.

Then there’s the question of how people found us. These are the ‘top referring sites’. No surprises there at one and two, and a big thank you to both politicalworld and ansionnachfionn.

twitter.com

facebook.com

politicalworld.org

ansionnachfionn.com

WordPress.com Reader

What of where visitors are coming from? ‘181 countries in all’ so WordPress tells us, breathlessly. Ireland, the UK (both in six figures) and the US (five figures) in descending order. Much of Europe, Canada, Japan (healthy four figures) and then we slide into the three figures, that would be South Africa, New Zealand, Algeria, Brazil, Thailand. A handful from Cameroon, Honduras, and Papua New Guinea and yes, 4 from Mongolia. Angola and Togo, 1 apiece, as with Suriname.

Then ‘who were they?’, i.e. who commented? Here are the ‘five most active commenters’.

1 CL 665 COMMENTS
2 sonofstan 614 COMMENTS

3 MarkP 511 COMMENTS
4 CMK 458 COMMENTS
5 Liberius 455 COMMENTS

Congratulations to all the above and anyone who comments or has commented on the site. As always much appreciated. As are those who simply lurk. All welcome in whatever capacity. Happy New Year to you all.

What you want to say – 31st December 2014 December 31, 2014

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.

More from the state archives December 30, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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There’s this snippet recounted on the RTÉ website:

Newly-released British documents from 1985 show that some members of the gardaí may have been passing more information to the British authorities than ministers were aware.

And:

He said Britain’s Special Branch and MI5 had “excellent relations” with garda intelligence and security branch, and “benefit from a degree of co-operation and from a flow of intelligence which we believe to be at a greater level than is suspected by at least some Irish ministers.

“A small number of garda officers … are… prepared to be extremely helpful” – and their co-operation made “a major contribution to combating the present terrorist campaign on the mainland”.

Well I never.

Over at the Guardian we discover more on MI5’s ‘spying activities’ in relation to the miner’s strike

The possible public exposure of MI5’s spying activities in the final stages of the miners’ strike set alarm bells ringing at the highest level of government, the Downing Street files show.

The cabinet secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong, told Thatcher he was seriously concerned that it would be “difficult to justify the use of information” obtained by MI5 phonetaps to help the legal sequestrators search and seize the miners’ union’s funds.

And there’s an Irish connection too.

The threat of public exposure of MI5’s activities came during a legal attempt to seize the National Union of Mineworkers’ funds, which had been spirited away to the Republic of Ireland. The sequestrator involved a partner in Price Waterhouse called Larkins, who had indiscreetly told the Irish lawyers in the case that the names of the bank accounts to which the NUM funds were being transferred had come from a meeting with the cabinet secretary who had been accompanied by “an unnamed name”.

Just on the matter of police and intelligence intrusion into areas where they take on what can only be described as an actively politically role (or perhaps overtly is a better term) I was surprised recently to read Nick Cohen’s welcome, but somewhat naive thoughts on the topic here in the Observer a few weeks back. He seems unable to quite take on board the idea that in our societies there would – to put it charitably – be an ambivalent aspect to such instruments of the state and issues of democratic oversight and accountability. In a way I can’t help but think he’s caught between his belief that there’s little more that can be done to push things further leftwards, that utterly imperfect as they are this is more or less as good as it gets in terms of socio-political and economic dispensations and simultaneously having to face the realities of the life in bourgeois capitalist states. For example he writes:

But consider what little we are allowed to know about police contempt for fundamental liberties. Kent police – yet – again seized thousands of confidential phone records from the Mail on Sunday without a warrant from a judge, and in defiance of the law’s presumption that journalists’ sources should be protected. Meanwhile, the security establishment has not disowned Lambert. John Grieve, a former head of the Met’s criminal intelligence branch, gave him an academic post at London Metropolitan University where he instructs graduates on how to be police officers, a task for which he is uniquely unqualified.

But what he describes isn’t some sort of unhappy and unfortunate anomaly, as we know this is pretty much business as usual. Indeed he almost comes close to admitting same when he writes:

I am the first to put down people who say democracies are police states as pampered hysterics, so lost in self-important dreams of victimhood they do not understand the sufferings of the subjects of dictatorships. But I and, I hope, anyone else who uses this argument must accept that the reason why we are not a police state is because citizens have fought for centuries to limit police powers. They may have been hysterical on occasion. Their critics may have been able to say that they were fools who did not understand that life here wasn’t so bad when compared to the tsarist empire, Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. The fact remains that what freedom we have depends on our willingness to fight for it.

One doesn’t have to say that a democracy is a ‘police state’ to understand that the societal weight afforded to the polling and intelligence arms of the state are disproportionate, and increasingly so. And that it is a constant struggle – as it is in the economic sphere (which of course is another facet of the same problem) – to push back against those forces gaining even greater influence.

Meanwhile the files. Not exactly cheering to see how easily the British Home Office simply did not believe the threat of ‘nuclear winter’ in the event of a nuclear exchange.

A confidential file on “Nuclear winter – global atmospheric consequences of nuclear war” shows that civil servants in the department’s emergency planning section, F6, decided they did not need to research the disputed phenomenon.

An internal memo in December 1984 records: “It was agreed with F6 that no assessment of the [nuclear winter] theory would be carried out by the branch and as such our interest is limited to general reading which could not be regarded as following the subject in any depth.”

Though this is revealing:

“The government believes that the outbreak of war is extremely unlikely and our policy of deterrence is aimed at keeping it that way.”

Good to know, though somewhat at odds with the rhetoric of the times – no?

And what of this? First up they couldn’t afford the facilities for the World Service to continue in the event of a war, and then there’s this about aspects of civil population measures in the vent of said war:

A separate memorandum was headed: “Spontaneous evacuation of civil population in a future war.” A weary civil servant observed: “Another hare, the breakdown of public morale in a war emergency and consequent flight from the capital, was let loose.

“This is a hoary subject in the civil defence planning world (as opposed to the real world) on a footing with others such as ‘will staff turn up for duty on the day?’

“No one doubts the need to maintain a war effort … If the public is not with the war effort then the war would be loseable without a single nuclear weapon being exploded on England’s green and pleasant land.

“The guts of the matter is that in a war emergency a task of the police would be to ensure that, as it does in peacetime (eg peak holiday weekends), that the country does not come to a grinding halt through traffic congestion howsoever caused.”

That’s it? Hard to credit that there would be much traffic, let alone police, infrastructure left in the wake of the detonation of nuclear weapons – and all this in the context of absurdly short ‘warnings’ in advance of a nuclear strike? It’s amazing, isn’t it, how the reality of nuclear war is shied away from in these documents, in terms of its actual impacts. Does that indicate yet more cynicism when set against the prevailing rhetoric?

Returning to Ireland again, or rather this state, how’s this for championing the rights of all the people of this island?

Garret FitzGerald, the Irish taoiseach, or prime minister, knew he had an uphill task in persuading Thatcher of the need for an agreement. Charles Powell, Thatcher’s chief adviser on foreign affairs, left a detailed note of a meeting they had on the fringes of an EU gathering in Milan.

And:

“Speaking with considerable emotion,” Powell recalled, “the taoiseach said that he wanted the prime minister to understand that the Irish government and people did not want a role in Northern Ireland. He was the only person willing to take risks and force the Irish people to face up to the need for an agreement. He did so because he believed that otherwise Sinn Féin would gain the upper hand amongst the minority in the north and provoke a civil war which would drag the Republic down as well.

Perhaps it was the logic of the situation which led to the first genuine ‘role of the ‘Irish government’ in Northern Ireland’, or perhaps he was simply attempting to sugar the pill (Thatcher herself saw tactical positioning in all this), but with an approach like that one has to wonder how the AIA ever saw the light of day. Certainly Thatcher herself seems to have been deeply sceptical about the whole process.

Remarkable understatement on aspects of the housing crisis… December 30, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
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…in the SBP editorial this last weekend. It notes that:

Completely under the radar, funds such as Lone Star, CarVal Investors, Cerebus, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs have become the dominant players in Irish finance, controlling the debt secured against large amounts of commercial and residential property, personal loans, mortgages and businesses. They don’t own the assets; just the debt the assets are secured against. But this gives the new owner immense power, and the ability to seize the assets if the loan goes sour.

And:

Put bluntly, the vultures have well and truly landed. We are already feeling the effects. This paper has highlighted a growing trend whereby international property giants are seeking punitive rent hikes from apartment dwellers. These so-called vulture funds, which now control vast swathes of the capital’s private residential rental market, have sought rent increases of more than 20 per cent from residential tenants in recent weeks, as they seek to turn hefty profits from their assets.
The same is true of the commercial property market, with many funds seeking to raise rents to drive profits. That is their prerogative; indeed, it is their reason for existing.

But:

But it is also troubling for an economy with stagnant residential development and a sanguine commercial development market. The government knows as much, with finance minister Michael Noonan saying it is an issue he takes very seriously.

Troubling? Only troubling?

In another piece the SBP examines the rise of Uber – the taxi app/company and its impact on the indigenous taxi market, an impact that many would regard as massively distorting, just as the dynamics outlined above are distorting. And yet what would the SBP do in the latter case?

Nothing, is the answer. Absolutely nothing, for the editorial concludes with not one policy suggestion.

The arrival of these international funds has been the biggest driver of the Ireland’s tentative economy recovery; putting capital into the market and helping ease the balance sheet problems of the banks. But it also raises questions about the long-term plans of firms whose modus operandi is short-term profit.
Already, we have seen examples where funds have foreclosed on borrowers, or, in the case of the Cork developer Michael O’Flynn, sought to foreclose.
It is an ominous sign for the hundreds of businesses and thousands of mortgage holders whose loans have been acquired by other so-called vulture funds. Some will get deals such as debt write-downs. Others will not be so lucky.
The arrival of these funds has often been presented as a panacea for debt-laden companies and individuals. This is not the case. Nor does it represent a return to normal banking.

Speaking of commemorating 1916 – some modest suggestions from Tim Pat Coogan… December 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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…in the Irish Times today.

The 1916 commemoration should not be a time for soft words or a gazing backwards through a green-tinged prism at an idealised past. There is need for an unsentimental assessment of the current state of instability and near ungovernability that has created anger on the streets and almost 30 Independents in the Dáil. Disaffection with the former political elite can be traced with near actuarial accuracy to the distance we have either fallen, or were encouraged to travel, from the 1916 goal of creating a society that cherishes all the children of the nation equally.

And:

I would suggest that 1916 might be commemorated (and celebrated) with a view to achieving that ambition.
The most interesting public display mounted in our neighbouring isle since the second World War was Danny Boyle’s panoramic re-creation of England’s past for the opening of the last Olympics. Boyle’s parents were Galway Catholics, and I have no doubt that, if invited to do so, he has it within him to mount a similar, or better, spectacular for Croke Park in Easter 2016.

Interesting piece that covers a lot more than that.

Let’s hope she’s right… December 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
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From the IT.

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said the Government will not cut the State pension and is committed to maintaining the current rates of payment.
Ms Burton was responding to an Irish Times report which revealed officials in the Department of Public Expenditure argued cuts must be considered as an option to ensure the sustainability of the State pension system.

Interesting, actually, to wonder what sustainability means in all this. What about the sustainability of living on the level of payments afforded. Interesting too to wonder if there might be some effort to claw back money from the tax incentives given for private pensions? Or would that represent the true limit of the unthinkable?

The CLR political awards of 2014? December 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Probably not, I’m not hugely fond of the tendency for political columns in newspapers to hand them out. Backroom in the SBP hasn’t a problem with it though. Had to enjoy the following under their Politician of the Year heading:

Joan Burton deserves consideration because she quite ruthlessly finally took out Eamon Gilmore and became her party’s leader and Tánaiste. Standing in her way is that she has had a steady air of “what now?” since then. She has not revived her party and has not implemented a new strategy.
There was also no personality that shone more than others.
That’s why, for the first time in the long history of these awards, Politician of the Year remains on the shelf for 2014.

Those who have studied her Dáil performances will not disagree.

Passing over ‘Minister of the Year’ – Charlie Flanagan, apparently, there’s also this:

A special, once-off award for 2014 has been sanctioned to mark the number of resignations we saw this year. Out of a wide field the clear winner is Ruairí Quinn who resigned early and with considerable good grace. His post-ministerial period has, so far, been marked by discretion and bonhomie.

Reading the Phoenix recently on just that topic one might wonder at that last ‘award’.

Meanwhile, what of the left?

Backbencher of the Year has as its field everyone who’s not in government or leading a party. The newest member of the Dáil, Paul Murphy of the Socialist Party is runner-up because of how his election and strident advocacy has managed to force big changes in government policy and scared the living daylights out of Sinn Féin.

But the winner is:

Stephen Donnelly of Wicklow. In the Technical Group he sits among some of the great showhorses of Irish politics – TDs who have mastered self-promotion but little else. What makes him different is that he combines this with being one of the workhorses of the Dáil. He is prepared on everything and knows his stuff. His filleting of Alan Kelly on the net budgetary income from water charges was brutal.
Interestingly, when serious issues are being discussed he has taken to moving down from the highest row of seats so that he is more on the level of ministers and party spokespeople.

I like that last little detail.

The ebullient Gerald Craughwell is ‘Senator of the Year’. There’s no end of candidates for ‘Mess-up of the Year’, but the winner being ‘the handling of the water issue’.

And what of this? ‘Backroom of the Year’

In election years it has been our practice to give this semi-automatically to the party which has won the most important elections. This year these were the local elections and they were won comfortably by Fianna Fáil.
We’re going to stick with practice, but set some context.

Go on…

Before May, no one at all was predicting that Fianna Fáil would come first, and since May almost no one has acknowledged that Fianna Fáil came first. Certainly there is no understanding of why Fianna Fáil came first (if you know, please send it in to the Post political staff who are eager to enlighten readers).
The party remains its own worst enemy, with former leading members and anonymous Oireachtas members appearing to be always available to talk its performance down.
In truth, not so long ago the party’s disappearance was widely predicted. It has clearly solidified its organisation and it has returned to growth.
Its victory in May was won the hardest way possible – with very little media attention and low-key ‘shoe leather’ work. Certainly it doesn’t have the money of former times and is probably the fourth party in terms of spending in Dublin. However it did it, it was an impressive performance. Let’s see if it can repeat it next year.

I don’t know. Another factoid that’s worth keeping in mind in relation to the locals is this, that FF won .3% more than they did in 2009. No fair comparison you might say. You might be right, that was during the first year of the current crisis. How was it in 2004 for them? 31.8%. Okay, 1999. 38.9%. And 1991? 38%. 1985? 45.6%. Need I go on? In other words FF managed to get marginally higher than their worst election outing in two decades. That’s the comeback? That’s the return to growth? That’s an ‘impressive performance’? Remarkable.

ADDENDUM

Liberius in comments makes the following important observation:

[I] caution against using the wikipedia page on the Irish local elections for your data as whoever is editing them adds together the Town & Borough votes with County & City votes for the pre-2014 elections (something inappropriate given the crossover between those two sets of data, and indeed the lack of crossover for many voters). A more appropriate comparison would be with the county & city council votes alone, in which case FF got 25.38% in 2009 and 25.20% in 2014, a reduction of 0.18% rather than an increase of 0.3%; so their worst result ever then, once the data massaging is removed.

Left Archive: This Week magazine, December 17, 1970 December 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, This Week magazine.
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TW1970

To download the above please click on the following link. THISWEEKDEC171970

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to Brian Hanley for forwarding this to the Archive.

This is a very interesting addition to the Archive in relation to a number of areas. As a current affairs magazine This Week was published in the late 1960s and early 1970s and can be regarded as a precursor of Magill.

Published by Hugh McLaughlin – who also founded and published Sunday World, Sunday Tribune, The Farmer’s Journal and Business and Finance amongst others – and edited by Joseph O’Malley and with John Feeney as the assistant Editor it is not, as such, a left wing publication, but it has what appears to be a certain left of centre sympathy and offers a fascinating insight into the period. Some will recall a later edition that carried a report and front cover photograph of the funeral of Peter Graham of the Dublin based Saor Éire – the photograph of which and article in TW is reproduced here on Dublin Opinion.

There are a broad range of pieces within, including some on the Fianna Fáil government, led by then Taoiseach Jack Lynch. The lead story is a curious one which references what is alleged to be an ‘alleged kidnap-assassination plot’ and leans heavily on the issue of internment and the prospect of that being introduced in the Republic. On pp43 the reaction of both Sinn Féin’s to this prospect is reported.

There’s a piece by future Labour Party leaders Michael O’Leary on the relations between RTÉ and the Government. Eavan Boland writes on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and linked to this is a review by Cathal Goulding (then Chief of Staff, I.R.A.) of The Secret Army: J. Bowyer Bell. In it he is extremely positive in relation to the book.

It is also worth mentioning the advertising, provided by state companies, private enterprises and so on. It is in total a very well produced publication for its time.

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