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Speaking of the Union… November 13, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Which given Brexit is all too often these days, what an interesting definition of devolution Gordon Brown has. While no supporter of independence when asked yesterday:

Q: What do you mean by the idea that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could bypass Whitehall and have their own relationship with the EU?
Browns says there is no doubt that Scotland, in particular, wants it own relationship with the EU.
The government talks a lot about “our precious union”.
But it is less willing to honour devolution than in the past, he says.
He says he does not see why Scotland should not be able to sign treaties with the EU.

Granted he’s not in power now, but that’s a fascinating point. And it offers a direction for Northern Ireland too, increasing autonomy, even while still – for the moment, within the UK. Though in truth, given the reality of cross-border links, the clear differentiation between Northern Ireland and Britain and so on none of this should be a surprise that Northern Ireland is, well… different, and that the DUP is merely playing fast and loose with that reality for its own ends.

A very particular form of delusion: Empire 2.0 November 13, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Difficult to know whether to cry or laugh at the reports on the thinking of some Tories on the pro-Brexit side who appear to be wedded to a risible view of the world. Or rather that portion of the world belonging to the Commonwealth.

Shortly after the 2016 referendum, Whitehall officials started talking about renewing the old ties, the so-called Empire 2.0.
A lobby group, with the support of the Commons leader, Andrea Leadsom, argued for a liberalised labour market and closer trading ties among former British dominions.
Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, whose attitude in this crunch part of the talks is being closely monitored in Brussels, recently championed UK membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The British government has hired New Zealand’s former trade head Crawford Falconer as chief trade negotiation adviser.
The problem for those seeking to pivot away from Europe now is that the Irish backstop solution, in which the whole of the UK could stay in the customs union, stymies all hope of such free trade deals, and sucks the UK back in.

Er… no, that’s not the problem. And the article is utterly flawed in not pointing up the real problem which is that talk of an Empire 2.0, or even repositioning the UK towards trading with Commonwealth countries in order to make up or even exceed the loss of trade with the EU is pure moonshine. It makes no sense whatsoever economically and otherwise.
And it’s curious that the Guardian piece should seem to implicitly accept that delusionary approach. It isn’t going to work.

Very bad history… November 13, 2018

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Making History “provides everything you need” for secondary students taking junior cycle history, says Gill. It includes a chapter on the Troubles, which covers the escalation of violence after October 5th, 1968 up to the Belfast Agreement.In a “chronological awareness” timeline, it states Bobby Sands died in 1982, the year after his death; the McGurk’s bar bombing in Belfast took place in 1969, two years before it happened; and that the Downing Street Declaration was signed in 1981 – 12 years before it was actually agreed in 1993.

Looking at the timeline it looks to me as if a draft was used and then not noticed. That’s inexplicable, isn’t it?

But a deeper point is made that:

Margaret Urwin, of Justice for the Forgotten, said it is “absolutely incredible” the book makes no mention of the no-warning, rush-hour bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, which killed 33 people, including a mother who was nine-months pregnant, and injured almost 300.
“They don’t include it at all,” she said. “They have literally airbrushed it out of history.”

I find that lack of mention deeply offensive.

Maureen O’Sullivan TD notes that:

…the book reads like the Troubles “didn’t really affect the 26 counties” and she described the Dublin and Monaghan bombings as “a glaring omission”.
“This was the single biggest atrocity in the history of the Republic,” she said. “This is part of our history and it is not in the history books.”

But in a way it gets worse again. According to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment there is no body or agency ‘charged with vetting textbooks’. If that is the case then it is more than likely that errors can filter into the system and be dispersed more widely. I find that as inexplicable as the mistakes found above. It’s a sort of lack of regulation that makes a mockery of all the high flown rhetoric we have heard in recent years about the centrality of our history and heritage.

Sunday… November 12, 2018

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Interesting post here on Slugger about a symposium on Catholicism hosted by Slugger O’Toole (and part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science).

There’s some stats offered by Dr. Gladys Ganiel, a sociologist of religion from QUB. And these struck me as particularly interesting. I’ve mentioned the issue of Mass attendance before – for one reason or another across the last few years I’ve had reason to attend ‘ordinary’ ones on occasion (it makes for an interesting experience as an agnostic, hovering around at the end waiting to pick up a copy of Alive!). But I find the state that in Ireland (presumably the ROI) attendance is at 36% intriguing. I’d love to see a breakdown of that statistic in regard to urban and rural settings and so on. It seems to me to be very high. At my local I’d often be – at 53 years of age (!), in the youngest 10 per cent of those attending. And I’ve counted less than 100 there Sunday after Sunday in a church which could easily accommodate seven or eight times that number or more.

I’ve heard some middle class parishes see greater attendances, but talking to a friend from Kerry the other day they said attendances were the same where they were and I have the sense that attendances have broadly collapsed nationwide, in rural and urban parishes. So again, I wonder about that 36%.

It doesn’t seem to matter… November 12, 2018

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Al Murray on the Bugle podcast a week or so back expressed incredulity at the false allegations against Robert Mueller, a story issued by a bunch he described, correctly, as utterly inept – for those unacquainted with it, here are the main details.

As Murray noted:

What’s amazing about this is the ineptitude of the people supporting Trump, it don’t matter, it doesn’t seem to matter and all the stuff you wouldn’t have got away with [in the past due to media etc] it’s all gravy, isn’t it, it’s incredible…

That’s a crucial point, that once, and not that long ago, and I don’t mean this in some sort of rosy idealistic fashion, but rather in the sense that clear mistruths were easier to push back against, there was a relatively serious approach to such stories – now, it’s near enough consequence free. Of course when the person who most benefits from such approaches is actually resident in the White House that alters matters completely. Indeed that point was made on the Slate.com Political podcast, that for all the complaints about the Democrats or whoever, the reality of the power afforded the Presidency to shape narratives, to in a sense even police tone, was so great that everything else tends to be secondary.

Left Archive: Socialist Republic, Movement for a Socialist Republic, Number 5, 1976. November 12, 2018

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To download the above please click on the following link. socialist-republic-76.pdf

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This edition of Socialist Republic joins others in the Archive. It has a range of interesting pieces – not least one on’Armed Struggle: The Way Forward?’. This argues that the Irish National Liberation Army actions‚'[are] obviously mid-way between the a latest pacifism of the Officials and the militarism of the Provos, whose definition of a ‘military target’ encompasses a great deal more than the British Army.’

By striking this balance the INLA apparently believes it has found the Marxist mean between social reformism and traditional Republicanism.

And it argues that both the INLA and the Officials despite ‘vast differences in their tactics‚’ are ‘both strategically linked to the republican tradition by their concept of the Irish People’ which it suggests are regarded as ‘an inert mass which can be activated only applying action from without.’

It contrasts this with its own view that the ‘working class constitutes the original dynamic and creative forces which makes revolutionary action possible’. And it continues by arguing that armed action ‘requires not just the passive approval of the masses but their active support.’

Other pieces critique the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, state support for Noel and Marie Murray in light of their death sentence, examine China after Mao and look at the issue of Education. All told a varied and wide-ranging contents.

The top 1%: We’re back on track, baby November 12, 2018

Posted by Tomboktu in Inequality.
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I missed this two weeks ago.

Brian Nolan has crunched the most recent data on incomes in Ireland, for 2015, using updated technical details which don’t change the findings much. His (five-page) paper is here: https://wid.world/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/WID_METHODOLOGY_NOTES_2018_2_Ireland.pdf.

The graph below shows the proportion of the total income that the top one percent received. (Despite the apparent smoothness, data does not exist for every year between 1938 and 2015.) The last time the top one percent were taking such a large share was probably before 1943. (The before 1975, the next year for which there is data is 1943, and before that it is 1938. The smooth lines between those data points may be inaccurate wand would be better represented with dashed lines to show the long period of interpolation.)

In particular, the share they took in 2015 was higher (just) at 11.5% than the share they took in 2006, just before the crash (11.3%).

https://wid.world/country/ireland/
(The interactive version of the graph is here: https://wid.world/country/ireland/)

Poppy Day November 11, 2018

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From East Wall History Group’s facebook page, a news report from November 1968. As EWHG notes:

This is an astonishing newspaper report from November of 1968 , in which the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland invokes the memory of the World War One dead to insult the newly emerged Civil Rights Movement.

Don’t forget…

Join us on Monday evening (12th November @ 8pm) for our event – “We shall overcome : Civil Rights ’68 from Memphis to Free Derry” which will look at the movements in both countries , with two expert guest speakers Cecelia Hartsell and Brian Hanley.
Cecelia will focus on developments in the United States , while Brian will look at the Civil Rights movement in Ireland , including an examination of how the South / 26 counties reacted to events up North. A panel discussion will look at similarities between the two movements and how much of an influence the U.S. was on Ireland.
All welcome to this FREE event .

Ancient doesn’t mean unsophisticated November 11, 2018

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Funny talking about potential ancient civilisations last weekend – civilisations that sadly didn’t exist. For given actual civilisations in history there’s an odd tendency to downplay their technological abilities – hence during the 1960s and 1970s the almost obsessive effort by Von Daniken et al to ‘prove’ that far-flung civilisations on this planet were assisted by aliens or what have you (and of course the ancient civilisation line is a sort of riff on that whereby its technologies inflect technologically lower level civilisations that come after and are in the historical record).

I’m not talking about high tech or anything like it (though as this suggests there were levels of sophistication that sometimes are breath-taking in the ancient world), but rather more basic, almost prosaic, but nonetheless useful engineering and construction approaches.

Scientists researching ancient inscriptions happened upon a ramp with stairways and a series of what they believe to be postholes, which suggest that the job of hauling into place the huge blocks of stone used to build the monuments may have been completed more quickly than previously thought.
While the theory that the ancient Egyptians used ramps to move the stones has already been put forward, the structure found by the Anglo-French team, which dated from about the period that the Great Pyramid of Giza was built, is significantly steeper than was previously supposed possible.

And:

They believe the inclusion of the steps and the postholes either side of a rampway suggests the builders were able to haul from both directions, rather than simply dragging a block behind them. The team believes those below the block would have used the posts to create a pulley system while those above it pulled simultaneously.
They believe the find to be significant because they say it suggests the work could have been done more quickly, albeit still involving the heavy labour of a large number of people.

It strikes me that humans are – within constraints of technology and materials, generally likely to explore and find optimal solutions to make tasks easier, so there’s no great surprise that in such a massive construction project they would have done so in Egypt at that that time.

Sunday and the Week’s Media and other Stupid Statements November 11, 2018

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An implausible equivalence…

As if the whole thing was not already complicated and difficult enough, the DUP is pushing the British government to adopt a suicidal no-deal strategy while Sinn Féin is similarly engaged in trying to pressure the Irish side into a hardline position that would also ensure a no deal.
The approach of the two biggest parties in Northern Ireland to Brexit reveals not only their lack of political skill but their total unconcern for the long-term interests of people they are supposed to represent. They are both actively seeking an outcome they believe will boost their political strength even if it impoverishes the people of the North and damages the economy in the Republic.

Speaking of not comparing like with like, this on the amendments to the legislation going through on termination:

Some 723, 632 people voted against the removal of the Eighth Amendment. By way of comparison 544,230 people gave their first preference in the 2016 election to a Fine Gael candidate and 519,353 gave their first preference to Fianna Fáil.Given that far more people voted to retain the Eighth Amendment than voted for either of the major political parties, the contempt displayed by them for No voters is astonishing.

Meanwhile the Guardian had this explanation for those who seem blissfully unaware of the how the US Senate is elected – and this after the elections!:

The 2018 midterm elections brought significant gains for Democrats, who retook the House of Representatives and snatched several governorships from the grip of Republicans.
But some were left questioning why Democrats suffered a series of setbacks that prevented the party from picking up even more seats and, perhaps most consequentially, left the US Senate in Republican hands.
Among the most eye-catching was a statistic showing Democrats led Republicans by more than 12 million votes in Senate races, and yet still suffered losses on the night and failed to win a majority of seats in the chamber.

All other contributions welcome.

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