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Statements in the media… good, bad and indifferent… March 29, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Again, for the duration of the crisis a slightly different format – some positivity mixed in here as well. So good statements welcome too.

Or even just thought-provoking ones. Never expected to read the following this early into the 21st century. It is from RTÉ’s Sean Whelan reporting from a (near deserted, at least in shops and streets) London…

It was a glorious spring day, skies of pure blue, untroubled by the usual criss-cross of contrails, thanks to the collapse of aviation.

On the other hand there’s this which seems far too kind to its subject.

And by contrast this seems a sensible point by Robin Swann of the UUP.

THE MINISTER for Health for Northern Ireland, Robin Swann, has said he is willing to call on the Irish Army for help during the coronavirus crisis.

While as Health Minister he does not have the power to call on the military without the agreement of others in government such as the Secretary of State as well as the PSNI, Mr Swann said that Northern Ireland should be willing to call in both the British and the Irish Army to protect people in Northern Ireland if there is a need for it.

All other contributions welcome.

2km from home? March 28, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Here’s a useful site.

Horslips rescheduled March 28, 2020

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As with a raft of other gigs and events, Horslips, postponed from March 17th has now been rescheduled for Sunday 15th of November. Fingers crossed all goes well. Now that’s shaping up to be a busy month musically.

Here’s Ticketmaster’s list of events that have been cancelled and rescheduled.
Some of the rescheduled ones look a little soon to be held, at least at this point. Some, like Horslips, have perhaps sensibly been pushed into very late this year or even 2021.

Then there’s one’s that haven’t had to cancel, yet. Are Duran Duran really going to play St. Anne’s on June 07? Possibly.

Action 2020 comic Special Edition March 28, 2020

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For those of us who remember the 1970s all too well this special of Action comic, including the ‘banned’ issue from October 1976 has perhaps been released at precisely the wrong time. Or thinking about it perhaps it’s the opposite. What better time for a comic like this?

Launched in 1976 by writer and editor Pat Mills, Action‘s blend of no-holds-barred action, unbridled anarchism, and violent riffs off popular films earned it immediate acclaim. The gritty tone and graphic gore of strips such as Hook Jaw, Hellman of Hammer Force, BlackJack, Death Game 1999, Kids Rule OK, Dredger, and Look Out For Lefty delighted readers but quickly attracted the attention of public moralists, with the comic branded “the seven-penny nightmare” by the press.

A campaign by the infamous Mary Whitehouse and her National Viewers and Listeners Association led to threats of a boycott of all publisher IPC’s titles by newsagent chains such as WH Smith and John Menzies. This in turn led to pressure from publisher IPC’s higher management and the 23 October issue was pulped.

When the title returned that November, the violence was heavily toned down. Sales of this neutered Action dropped dramatically and it was folded into stablemate Battle a year later. However, Action remains one of the most influential comic books in British history, leading to Mills creating 2000 AD and also inspire a generation of comic book readers and creators!

The special edition featuring new stories and artwork from various contemporary luminaries is ‘only available from the 2000 AD and Treasury of British Comics webshops’.

Joe M ordered my copy, for which I’m very grateful. A difficult comic for difficult times.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Isolation and other tracks by Joy Division and New Order from Peter Hook and the Light March 28, 2020

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The world has, I think it’s fair to say, taken a Ballardian turn this last three months. So what better music to soundtrack this than that of Joy Division (and in a way New Order) whose output and lyrical concerns always spoke to isolation (quite literally as noted by IEL last weekend) and alienation and, even more on the nose, who nicked a song title from Ballard.

Anyhow, got to admit I was sceptical when I saw these albums coming out. A range of live performances by Peter Hook, formerly of Joy Division and New Order, covering songs by those two groups – actually as complete albums. And yet, and yet, I saw that Movement, perhaps along with Brotherhood, my two favourite New Order albums, was part of the set, and I downloaded it. And it was pretty great. The songs hew very close to the originals, but they’re not exact replicas, or perhaps it is simply that they have had to be slightly reframed for live performance. And somehow that’s a benefit. Had a listen too to the versions of Technique and Republic. Never quite enjoyed the former as much as others, and while flawed always liked the latter. But to hear the spectrum of music JD/NO covered is to see a band that had/has remarkable range.

His voice is a mixed pleasure, he’s very good on Joy Division tracks, perhaps not quite as good on New Order tracks, but the rest of the band (most of whom were in his solo project Monaco – dealt with here years back) supplement on the higher pitched tracks. And overall it’s a lot more enjoyable than I expected it to be. And always listening to it there’s the curious dislocation of it being a step away from New Order and Joy Division, and yet right there given the centrality of his bass to their overall sound(s). Listen to the throbbing baseline of Transmission and… it is his song as much as any other members of Joy Division. And as lead vocalist on a number of tracks on Movement his singing JD/NO songs isn’t entirely novel (indeed I’d argue those constitute some of the best songs on the album).

Intriguingly he hasn’t covered the two more recent albums he was involved in before leaving New Order, Get Ready and Waiting for the Siren’s Call – I wonder why. But for those interested in two of the most pivotal post-punk/electronic/pop acts of the past forty years I think these albums offer a unique vantage point.

I saw New Order in the 2000s and very impressive they were too. But anyone seen Hook and the Light live?

The session for Glyndwr TV that leads off below has the following:

1: Exercise One 10:10
2: No Love Lost 12:30
3: Shadowplay 16:19
4: Digital 20:20
5: Disorder 23:08
6: She’s Lost Control 26:45
7: Isolation 31:20
8: Something Must Break 34:25
9: Transmission: 37:15
10: Love Will Tear Us Apart 41:03
11: Ceremony 45:44


Peter Hook and The Light – Glyndwr TV (52 minutes)


Transmission (Live)


Shadowplay (Live)


Love Will Tear Us Apart (Live)


Dreams Never End (Live, in Dublin)


Doubts Even Here (Live, in Dublin)


Blue Monday (Live)


Face Up (Live)


The Perfect Kiss (Live)


Weirdo (Live)


Bizarre Love Triangle (Live)


Fine Time (Live)


Chemical (Live)


Regret (Live)

Further lockdown measures this evening… March 27, 2020

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Quite a suite, a recalibration until Easter Sunday at least. Still allowed out for exercise but limited distance, only essential work, etc. In some ways it probably makes little difference to many’s day to day lives. But it makes a difference. For example:

All non-essential health services will be postponed.

And for those most vulnerable it makes all the difference.

‘Cocooning’ will be introduced for those over 70 years of age

Never thought I’d hear an FG Taoiseach say… [he] appeals to everyone to make these sacrifices not out of self-interest, but out of love for one another. Strange days indeed.

Link here to the latest advice.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series March 27, 2020

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Never more necessary than now, as Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

Risk management in the time of crisis… March 27, 2020

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This isn’t bad in outlining the risks from Covid-19 on surfaces.

RTÉ on this thread had some useful advice… .

09:20
Covid-19 questions answered: It is safe to handle and read newspapers. If you keep washing your hands and don’t put your hand to your face, especially nose and mouth, you won’t catch the virus off anything.

09:17
Covid-19 questions answered: If you test positive for COVID-19 you get a call from a public health doctor, not from your GP. The public health doctor goes through contact tracing with you, to identify people who have been in close contact with you in recent weeks. On average now, people have had five close contacts.

09:16
Covid-19 questions answered: The risk of picking up something from shopping is very small. Advice is to wear gloves and wash hands after putting goods away.

You can here the full podcast here
https://www.rte.ie/radio/radioplayer/html5/#/podcasts/21741133

Reluctant suitors March 27, 2020

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The Regional Independent Group comprising nine non-aligned TDs has emerged as the most likely target for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as partners in coalition.

Well there’s a surprise. Some interesting votes in the Dáil yesterday too, as noted in comments. But:

Fianna Fáil has 37 TDs in the 33rd Dáil, while Fine Gael has 35, giving them a total of 72. The nine members of the regional group would take the numbers to 81, a slim majority. There are 160 TDs.
“We need another party to participate,” said a member of the group who spoke on condition of anonymity. “That would be a red line for us. Without a party on board, Independents would have no cover. Opposition parties could identify the most vulnerable Independents in their own constituency.”

I can’t see, at this point anyhow, a party participating in an FF/FG lash-up. Perhaps the GP but they’re certainly more than equivocal and trending hostile. Perhaps the LP, though would they really want to take the chance after two very very bad elections? The IT argues that the outcome of the leadership election there might be crucial.

And others:

Mattie McGrath of the Rural Group of six TDs said that it had not spoken to any party in the past 20 days ,but was still exploring options.

While:

The Independent Group also has six TDS, but only three of its number – Michael Fitzmaurice, Michael McNamara and Marian Harkin – have expressed interest in government formation.

That’d be something, some people in the Independent Group in government and others outside it.

Of course this could be a clarifying moment, and no wonder people are uneasy about being seen to row in behind FF/FG. Because if the Regional Independents did go in that would offer us a more distinctive leftish/right divide in the Dáil.

Interesting too a consensus emerging that the present ‘team’ of Taoiseach, Health Minister and Finance should remain in situ in the new dispensation, at least for the duration of the crisis. How does that play?

Europe during the crisis March 27, 2020

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Slate.com has a piece on how traffic tailbacks…

…represent an existential threat to the European Union. Amid a global pandemic, there are few Europeans to be found. Containing the coronavirus has resulted in a return to nation-level politics and closed borders inside the 26-nation Schengen Area, within which border checks are supposed to be nonexistent. Governments are allowed to reinstitute them in the event of a “serious threat to public policy or internal security”—France did so during the 2015 refugee crisis and after the November 2015 Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, for example—but the present scale of closures is unprecedented.

To argue that this reimposition of borders internally represents a ‘fracturing of the Schengen Area’ and ‘undermining the European economy and weakening its internal market as frontier workers—those who live in one EU country but work in another—find themselves shut out’ is sort of missing the wood for the trees. I’d imagine many of us on this site actually think the reduction of borders within the EU over the years is a good thing in and of itself, and would no doubt like that applied more widely. The piece notes that:

It is true that European institutions have succeeded in avoiding financial catastrophe. On March 18, the European Central Bank unveiled its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program: a “whatever-it-takes” $808 billion fiscal stimulus package that allows the ECB to buy up public and private sector debt, rescuing companies and governments on the edge of bankruptcy. “There are no limits” to the ECB’s commitment, its director Christine Lagarde said on March 19. The next morning, the French and German stock markets opened up 5.5 and 6 points respectively.

But follows the above directly with this:

Yet Brussels has struggled to open up Europe’s internal borders and foster internal cooperation.

Again, there’s the not exactly small matter of a global pandemic.

In some ways I think this exemplifies a confusion about what the EU is and isn’t. For all the rhetoric it isn’t a federal state (and for many of us such a prospect would be anathema) and it is entirely appropriate that borders would, in the midst of a medical emergency, close as necessary – precisely in order to contain contagion. That isn’t existential for the EU, indeed one is reminded of the problems with Brexit proponents. Their jibe that the EU is always on the edge of collapse doesn’t hold water. After this crisis all the prosaic issues that led to the establishment of lowered borders etc across much of Europe will remain because there’s a basic logic to same.

There is a threat though, albeit not to the EU as such, and Citizen of Nowhere alluded to it on Wednesday evening and this is a threat to the Eurozone. As CoN notes:

But if the Eurozone is to survive this crisis, risk-sharing and collective debt sovereignty-sharing is what it’s going to take.

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