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Creationism… May 29, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A grim piece here in Slate about creationism in the US, and an account by a science writer of how she grew up in a creationist household and community and what that meant in her interactions in biology classes.

But one aspect highlights just how thin the nature of those who oppose science and in particular evolution. Note the following:

What was I learning about evolution, then? The church I attended with my family when I was young had a monthly “Creation Moment” in the service. A respected church board member would give a five-minute presentation on topics such as humans living with dinosaurs or the geologic importance of Noah’s flood. We were encouraged to confront anyone who seemed to assume that evolution is true with a simple question meant to stump them: Were you there? It was the question I eventually asked Wortman. The act of asking that question demonstrates how little I understood evolutionary theory. No one needs to directly observe an aquatic species slowly evolving the ability to crawl onto dry land in order for scientists to surmise that mammals evolved from a fish. As Wortman said, we can observe the evidence in the fossil record and draw reasonable conclusions. But I always stopped thinking critically about the details once I had posed my short question. I wasn’t listening to the answer. I knew I believed what my church had taught me.

Absolutely. But what those posing the question ‘Were you there?’ seem to have ignored is that it could equally be turned on the questioner in relation to any number of beliefs they hold as regards Genesis onwards. And their inability to answer in the affirmative or to offer anything, any methodological structure within which their assertions could be validated, surely indicates a massive flaw in their approach.

One might think.

Depressing too to read that:

In a 2014 Gallup poll, 42 percent of Americans, a number that hasn’t changed much in the 30 years Gallup has been conducting that poll, said they believe God created human beings in their present form in the past 10,000 years. That’s pretty recent history compared with the scientific understanding that life evolved on our planet about 3.7 billion years ago, that our genus, Homo, evolved about 2.5 million years ago, and that Homo sapiens emerged about 200,000 years ago.

I’m not sure I fully agree with the conclusion whereby it seems to suggest that teaching the science in school and attempting to keep it separate and almost aloof from what is taught in the home is futile because it will conflict with what they learn at home and implicitly it should be taught more forcibly – though I may be misinterpreting the writers line. I don’t know how one can dissuade people from incorrect understanding in that way. But perhaps that is the only way… check out comments below the article to see just how some cannot accept evolution.

But perhaps more interesting again is how creationism is only one aspect of a tapestry of belief of some commenting and to tug at that is to put the entirety at risk. For example…the following:

Atheists really get suicidal at this one

Fact: Every single successful society in human history was built on faith. There has never been a single one built on atheism. Even Muslims have proven more successful at building a society than atheists. Hell, even apes have. Even ants! 

The only recent attempts at atheist society were all catastrophic disasters (Mao China, Stalin/Lenin Russia, Hitler Germany, Mussolini Italy, Pol Pot Cambodia, etc etc)

What’s missing from that? Our old pal the Frankfurt School. I guess we could make this into a drinking game, couldn’t we, but it too would be kind of depressing.

A deafening silence from Government TDs on the something someone said that someone else doesn’t want anyone to know about… and what of their views on parliamentary privilege… or… May 29, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.

And now the Oireachtas weighs in:

Oireachtas sources say they believe “standing orders were not breached and privilege was not abused” by Ms Murphy while moving a Private Members’ Bill through the Dáil last night.


Oireachtas sources also said they believe the current situation whereby the contents of a Dáil speech are not being reported to be unprecedented.

Why is it not being reported? How many citizens of this state would be so blessed?

The point was made to me this morning by a friend that it is long past time that a Government TD or two or four or perhaps the whole lot of them came out and upheld the principle of parliamentary privilege. Most telling that they haven’t as of yet.

Did you know the Dáil wasn’t sitting next week? I didn’t. But I think all of us would support the following from Micheál Martin looking for a recall… and credit where credit is due to him for this:

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called for the Dáil to be recalled in the light of what he claimed had been the silencing of media outlets in relation to comments about businessman Denis O’Brien by Independent TD Catherine Murphy yesterday.

I think it is the responsibility of all TDs of whatever stripe to make noise about this both inside and outside the Chamber.

By the way, check this out from ‘a spokesman for Mr. O’Brien’.

James Morrissey questioned the accuracy of what Ms Murphy had said, maintaining Dáil privilege had an important role but could not be abused to have falsehoods misrepresented as facts.
Mr Morrisey said a core principle of a democracy is the right of every individual to their good name and reputation and it was important that people “stand up for democracy inside the Dáil and outside the Dáil”.
Hmmm… And:

Mr Morrissey said if there is wrongdoing involved it should be examined and investigated, but until then Mr O’Brien was entitled to his good name.
He also pointed out Mr O’Brien’s record of job creation in Ireland.

Which is relevant in what particular way?

This isn’t bad either, as Tomboktu noted in comments elsewhere:

The National Union of Journalists has criticised the media for not publishing the statement Ms Murphy made in the Dáil last night.
NUJ Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley warned that faith in the media would be “shattered if proprietors and editors did not challenge threats to parliamentary democracy and freedom of expression”.
Mr Dooley said: “It is gravely concerning that media organisations felt constrained from publishing the comments, made under Dáil privilege, by Deputy Catherine Murphy concerning financial matters relating to Mr Denis O’Brien and his alleged relationship with IBRC.
“The fact that the national public service broadcaster was constrained from broadcasting material freely available on the website of the Houses of the Oireachtas, and that other print and broadcasting organisations felt similarly constrained, raises fundamental questions about our parliamentary democracy and the right of the media to report freely on parliamentary proceedings.

By the way, for those that are interested here’s the wiki page on the issue…

And here’s a pretty good summing up from the Supreme Court of Canaada:

“Privilege” in this context denotes the legal exemption from some duty, burden, attendance or liability to which others are subject. It has long been accepted that in order to perform their functions, legislative bodies require certain privileges relating to the conduct of their business. It has also long been accepted that these privileges must be held absolutely and constitutionally if they are to be effective; the legislative branch of our government must enjoy a certain autonomy which even the Crown and the courts cannot touch.

Like any such mechanism it can operate incorrectly, but the principle appears to me to be of such compelling importance – and indeed the reality of its use is that it has overwhelmingly been a positive rather than negative – it is well worth upholding.

Meanwhile as also mentioned in comments the Guardian carries a good piece on the issue. Comments under it were disabled after being open for a while apparently.

In the late evening, the nightly discussion programme on TV3, Tonight with Vincent Browne, was presented (because Browne is on holiday) by Ger Colleran, editor of INM’s Irish Daily Star.
He read a statement from TV3’s management stating that there must be no discussion about Murphy’s comments following letters from O’Brien’s lawyers.
So there it is. The owner of the bulk of Ireland’s media outlets is using an injunction to prevent reports on his affairs appearing in the rest of the media he doesn’t control.
Clearly, there are questions to ask about the press freedom implications due to Ireland’s lack of media plurality and diversity.

All true. But again, where is the Government?

Meanwhile, back in the North… May 29, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.

This piece on Slate on the fact that Northern Ireland is now the only part of these islands where same sex marriage is prohibited is intriguing. One has to wonder how long they can hold out? It suggests that the DUP is the main stumbling block. Clearly it’s one of them… what do others think?

But, as intriguing is this:

Political homophobia is connected with religious power. Northern Irish people find themselves living under what has been called “essentially a theocratic regime,” due to the hold the Calvinist fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church has over the DUP. A recent study found that Free Presbyterianism “remains the largest faith among both DUP members and elected representatives.” As many as 30.5 percent of DUP members are Free Presbyterians, compared with a measly 0.6 percent of the Northern Irish population at large.

Two thoughts, is it quite a ‘theocratic’ regime of does the nature of the dispensation alter or ameliorate that? And is that correct about the membership of the DUP? According to this page here on wiki the church has 10,068 members in NI. And according to this, research by Professor John Tonge (quoted on the Irish National Caucus website, no less ) suggests:

just under a third of DUP members (30.5%) are Free Presbyterians and slightly more (34.6%) are members of the Orange institution.
To put these figures in context, the 2011 census recorded that there were 10,068 Free Presbyterians in Northern Ireland – just 0.6% of our total population.
Like most political parties, the DUP does not disclose its membership, but it is believed to number around 1,100 people.

Seems remarkably small, doesn’t it?

Some more interesting stuff:

Overall, Free Presbyterians are more than 50 times more common in the DUP than they are in the population. Orangemen are 21 times more common in the party.
The prevalence of both bodies increases as you move up the ranks. Almost 40% of the 175 DUP councillors elected in 2011 were Free Presbyterian and more than half (54.2%) were members of the Orange Order. These proportions may have fallen a little in the council elections held last month.
Among the DUP’s 38 MLAs over a third are Free Presbyterians and exactly half are Orangemen. The proportion increases further among the party’s eight MPs.

But, perhaps counterintuitively – or perhaps not:

Prof Tonge points out that the influence of the Free Presbyterian Church has declined over time, whereas the Orange Order membership appears to have increased.
This is partly due to an influx of new members between the signing of the Belfast, or Good Friday, Agreement in 1998, which it opposed, and 2006 when the DUP signed the St Andrews Agreement on power-sharing with Sinn Fein.


Assessing the most active members of the party, Dr Tonge found: “It is the Orange contingent not, contrary to popular myth, the Free Presbyterians, who really count as the most active of all.”

By the by, any figures on the UUP membership numbers, or those of the SDLP, and while an all-Ireland party, how many SF members would there be in the North?

Tipperary and the next election May 29, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.


The two three seaters of Tipperary North and Tipperary South united to form the new five seater Tipperary Constituency. A part of North Tipp has gone to the new Offaly constituency. It is thought that this area was an area where Labours Alan Kelly would have polled well.
Currently the sitting TD’s are Noel Coonan and Tom Hayes of Fine Gael, Alan Kelly of Labour , Seamus Healy of WUAG as well as Independents Mattie McGrath and Michael Lowry. All are due to contest the next election.

So we have a redraw, going from 6 to 5 seats and all six sitting TDs due to contest. Fianna Fail won 3 of the six seats available in 2007 but lost out in both North and South in 2011, so they will be looking to win back at least the one seat.

Sinn Fein won a seat in each of the five council areas in 2014 and if the polls are correct they should be in with a chance here. Their main problem is that although their councillors would be known in some areas they wouldn’t have a Countywide profile so it may be difficult to win a seat here. This could also be a place where Renua could be in with a chance were they to attract a well known respected candidate. So thats at least nine candidates with decent prospects of winning a seat.

Talking to Tipp contacts there is an assumption that Michael Lowry and Tom Hayes should be safe. After that it’s anybodys …..
Fianna Fail have selected former ICMSA head Jackie Cahill ,he has should have a good chance (however the area gone to Offaly would have been good FF country).
Tom Hayes has been a TD longer and is better placed geographically of the two Fine Gael TDs, so he is more likely than Noel Coonan to hold on.
Alan Kelly should be in trouble and Labour only won the one seat in Tipperary in the Local Elections, part of his Nenagh hinterland has moved to the new Offaly constituency what could save him is if Fine Gael lose a seat it could be those Fine Gael transfers that get him over the line.
Mattie McGrath has a high profile and would be ‘a good constituency TD’ and there are plenty of FF gene pool votes in Tipp. His base in Newcastle in the South West of Tipp may do him no favours geographically.
For Fianna Fail Jackie Cahill has a good chance, although it is suspected that Siobhan Ambrose and/ or Michael Smith jnr will be added to the ticket. They certainly need a candidate in the South. There should be an FF seat here but it is one hell of a competitive constituency and Mattie McGrath and Michael Lowry may hoover up potential FF support .
Seamus Healy , who lost his seat in 2007 before regaining it in 2011, is probably vulnerable, especially with the Geographical situation of Clonmel and WUAG only winning one Council seat at the Local Elections. The scrapping of Clonmel Borough Council was also a blow for WUAG ….. which has led to unlikely talk of him running for Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein will poll well but will find it hard to win a seat as they have no particularly high profile candidates . Were Healy to run for Sinn Fein he would hold his seat easily. An unlikely scenario but you never know. That said he could probably rely on some Sinn Fein transfers depending on the candidate they select.

A bloodbath of a constituency so. I have a funny feeling it will end up being Lowry, Hayes, McGrath, Healy and somehow Alan Kelly will win a seat…….. but I could be totally wrong

Someone said something somewhere about someone else but no one can be told what the something they said was… May 28, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.

…so much for Dáil privilege. RTÉ, the Irish Times, etc aren’t reporting on what Catherine Murphy TD said today in the Dáil due to legal pressure from you know who. The concept of Dáil privilege appears very shaky – does it not?

Addendum, Broadsheet are made of more resilient stuff. As is Murphy herself.

Remind me again why the Tories have a problem with the BBC? May 28, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

From the Guardian…

The BBC has defended a new TV reality show pitting unemployed and low-paid workers against each other for a cash prize, which has been accused of echoing film the Hunger Games, arguing it is a “serious social experiment”.

The show, called Britain’s Hardest Grafter, is seeking 25 of Britain’s poorest workers with applications limited to those who earn or receive benefits totalling less than £15,500 a year.

The five-part BBC2 series will pit contestants against each other in a series of jobs and tasks with the “least effective workers” asked to leave until one is crowned champion.

And speaking of power relationships… we’re all consumers now..? May 28, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

It shouldn’t but it does surprise me when I read about stuff like this. For all the cant about regulation it is disturbing how little there can be. For a new Consumer Rights Bill is being introduced. And what does it cover?

… “a basic imbalance” between consumers and retailers and service providers.
Other proposals will seek to introduce information rights for consumers in transactions for healthcare, social services and gambling, including price information for GP and other medical consultations.


Rights for anyone buying services will be strengthened, and for the first time people will have the right to have a substandard service remedied or refunded
A standard 30-day period in which consumers can return faulty goods and get a full refund will be introduced to replace rules on this time period which are unclear, and those who get goods as gifts will have the same rights as those who bought the goods.


Expiry dates on gift vouchers will be scrapped, consumers who download or stream content will get enhanced protection and unfair contracts are to be outlawed as part of the most sweeping reform of Irish consumer law in decades, to be announced

What’s remarkable is how this stuff is still lagging behind. Richard Bruton’s point about a ‘basic imbalance’ is appalling – this being 2015.

Only one LP TD voting against sale of shares in Aer Lingus? May 28, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Apparently so….

Labour deputy Michael McNamara looks likely to lose the party whip after stating that he will not support the sale of Aer Lingus.

After the UK General Election… May 28, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’ve been wondering what the left and further left in Britain might make of the election there, and here’s the CPGB/Weekly Worker with their take on it. Some interesting thoughts in there, to put it mildly, not least one very obvious one that left of social democrat challengers in Europe have, with one exception – that being Podemos (and even there there’s some of the orthodox in its DNA), been constructed with at least partially former orthodox Marxist parties as an element of their make-up. Moreover that the British Labour Party for all the obituaries written on its behalf, is unlikely to implode. A most interesting phrase too is the following line about ‘a whale joining a minnow’ in respect of the possibility of Unite disaffiliating from the LP let alone joining Tusc.

What one makes of the rest is quite a different matter.

Greece… and an insight into power relationships May 28, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics.

Here’s an article that caught my eye in the Observer at the weekend. Heather Stewart suggests that given the continuing crisis in relation to Greece and a situation where:

Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s combative prime minister, is facing yet another week of fraught negotiations as he and his team struggle to agree a shopping list of economic reforms stringent enough to appease the country’s creditors, but different enough from the grinding austerity of the past five years to satisfy the Greek electorate.


And all the while, bank deposits will leach out of the country, investment plans will remain on hold and consumers hammered by years of austerity will continue living hand to mouth.

Not mad keen on the word ‘consumers’ there but… the broader sense of the article is I think correct.

She continues:

Change the actors – and the stakes – and it’s a tired plotline familiar to many governments across the world. According to Eurodad, the coalition of civil society groups that campaigns on debt, there have been 600 sovereign debt restructurings since the 1950s – with many governments, including Argentina for example, experiencing one wrenching write-off after another.
Many of these countries plunged deeper into recession as a result of the uncertainty and delay inherent in this bewildering process and the punishing austerity policies inflicted on them, with a resulting collapse in investor and consumer confidence.

And she points to a very very useful contradiction at the heart of the international order.

Yet while the world’s policymakers have expended countless hours since the crisis of 2008 rewriting regulations on bonuses, mortgage lending, derivatives and too-big-to-fail banks, little attention has been paid to what should happen when a government is on the brink of financial meltdown.
Sacha Llorenti, the Bolivian ambassador to the UN, is currently touring the world’s capitals trying to change that. “We’re not just talking about a financial issue; it’s an issue related to growth, to development, to social and economic rights,” he says.

Stewart makes an excellent point as to why the UN, unlikely as it may seem, may be precisely the venue for some movement. She notes that as against the IMF the UN general assembly ‘isn’t dominated by the world’s major powers’. And this translates into interesting political dynamics.

When Argentina tabled a motion calling for the UN to examine the issue of sovereign debt restructuring last autumn, 124 countries voted for it; 11, including the UK and the US, with their powerful financial lobbies, voted against; and there were 41 abstentions.
Llorenti, who is chairing the UN “ad hoc committee” set up as a result of that vote, says the 11 countries that objected hold 45% of the voting power at the IMF. He believes they would prefer the matter to be tackled there, where they can shape the arguments: “It’s a matter of control, really.”

Is this a surprise? No, of course not. But it is a rare insight into just how nakedly the interests of the ‘major powers’ are pursued when it comes down to it.

Moreover what Llorenti and others want isn’t the last word in radicalism, an important aspect in itself in pointing to just how loaded the game is against most of those involved and particularly those who seek alternatives whether within or outside the orthodoxy. The example of Greece itself demonstrates how difficult it is, indeed how close to impossible, to push even mildly back against the dispensation. How one fashions genuinely radical counter-measures is difficult to determine, not – of course, that the effort shouldn’t be made.

The proposals he is pushing – drawn up by the UN’s trade and development arm, Unctad – would create something like a bankruptcy procedure for countries. As a starting point, troubled governments would be given a standstill on repayments – something Tsipras is having to fight tooth and nail for – while talks with creditors take place.

And it’s not as if there’s no recognition that this is necessary – even from some of those who cleave to a non-left position:

At a lively seminar to discuss the proposals in the European parliament earlier this month, Unctad’s Richard Kozul-Wright said: “Bankruptcy rules are a key part of any healthy, democratic, free-market economy.” One MEP after another expressed anger and frustration about the damage inflicted on the Greek people by the eurozone’s botched bailouts.

And meanwhile, as Stewart notes, for Greece there’s no respite, and the hypocrisy and sheer futility of the current process imposed by the EU, ECB and IMF continues apace:

As Syriza MEP Stelios Kouloglou put it in Brussels: “We are pretending this is a sustainable solution, which it is not: it’s getting worse and worse.” Instead of the hated troika of the IMF, European Central Bank and Brussels, he said, “we’re facing another troika, made up of blackmailing, threatening and ultimatums”.

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