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What you want to say – 8th July 2015 July 8, 2015

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As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

Polling for the Canadian federal election July 7, 2015

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Many years ago I found the NDP in Canada kind of interesting, as a then fairly openly leftish social democratic party. I had a friend from Canada who had voted for them all her life. Since then it has changed, and pulled more in a centre direction, though I suppose in comparison with US political parties it’s probably just about off the scale.

But anyhow, mention of the fact that the Harper Conservative government is in trouble sent me to these polling figures. Got to say, it’s not looking good for them. In 2011 the NDP managed to become the second largest party. Curiously, if I recall correctly, Canada at a federal level operates along the lines of the largest party, even if it does not have a majority, is assumed to be the rightful governing party, and there seems to be an antagonism to coalitions. Granted I may have mangled that conceptually. But whatever, now it seems like they’re in with a real shout as the largest party.

To save the village we had to destroy it… July 6, 2015

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Listening to Radio One this morning and Sean O’Rourke interviewing various worthies including a very good Paul Murphy I was struck by how little engagement there was with a German politician towing the orthodox line who when asked about the impacts on the Greek populace and was there sympathy in Germany came out with stuff about how of course and there would be ‘humanitarian’ aid etcetera, apparently oblivious or indifferent as to what might be generating the need for such aid.

Leaflets July 6, 2015

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This from the marriage equality referendum campaign made me smile – though it is a topic utterly tangential to the main issues.

Henry McDonald wrote here in the Guardian:

An alliance of evangelical Catholics and Protestants has distributed more than 90,000 anti-gay marriage pamphlets in the last week across Ireland, urging the electorate to veto same-sex marriage.

You know, 90,000 leaflets is next to nothing. An individual TD in a constituency like Dublin Bay North could easily have print runs of up to 70,000. So 90,000 leaflets across Ireland is a drop in the water.

Communities Say No to Water Wage Theft July 5, 2015

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Water is a human right: Not a commodity

On the final night of the Dail before our politicians take their summer holidays at our expense, Communities Against Water Charges are calling a mass demonstration on Kildare Street, Dublin 2. The Government are trying to ram through legislation which will frighten and scare people into paying their water charges…but it won’t work. We know that they can’t take action until after the next general election, and by that time, we’ll have already beaten water charges and will be making sure this is the last summer holiday these TD’s get at our expense.

Come along at 6pm on Wednesday, 15th July and say goodbye to our crony TD’s.

The power of the people is greater than the people in power…and we’ll prove it on July 15th.

https://www.facebook.com/events/128856367447454/

Organised by: Communities Against Water Charges

History is to Blame – The Battlefield of Memory, Vietnam and American Power: City Library, Cork, 9 July July 5, 2015

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Spaceguard redux July 5, 2015

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It’s good to see some effort to tackle the threat of asteroid impacts with Earth. The basic point is that far too little is made of this and yet the potential for significant damage ranging up to extinction events is very great.

How significant? Well, this gives some idea both as to why people are concerned and what the possible outcomes could be:

Asteroid Day falls on the anniversary of an asteroid strike in 1908 that saw a 40 metre-wide lump of space rock enter the atmosphere over Tunguska in Siberia at about 33,500 miles per hour. The rock exploded mid-air and released the energy of a large hydrogen bomb, which flattened 2000 sq km of conifer forest.
Were an asteroid of the same size to slam into the atmosphere over London, the blast could destroy much of the capital within the M25. People in cities as far away as Oxford could be burned by the intense heat released in the explosion. In Scotland, the same blast would still have the force to blow peoples’ hats off.

It’s interesting reading the comments under the article. There’s a sort of passivity that is most curious in some.

Though one I do like:

This sort of thing surely must be an ‘Outside Context Problem.’
Convincing people to fund anything like a defence against this sort of thing may prove very difficult unless some economist somewhere starts putting a value on not having a continental sized magma caldera suddenly apearing on top of say east-anglia or anywhere. Surely the fate of our large pointy teethed avian like predecessors are a good indication that it has happened before – so will happen again. Surely any money spent should be seen as a form of planetry insurance. Sounds daft to ignore it and just pray and hope the threat goes away.
“An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop.
The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you’d tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbours were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass… when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you’ve just been discovered, you’re all subjects of the Emperor now, he’s keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests.”
– Iain M. Banks, Excession

The Workers’ Party condemn latest attacks on lone parents and children July 5, 2015

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· The Government’s cut to the One Parent Family Payment (OPFP) takes money from the pockets of many one parent families, exacerbating the already severe child poverty crisis.

· Already, 12% of children in the State are experiencing deprivation and are at risk of poverty.

· Single parent families are one of the most vulnerable groups in Ireland and experience significantly higher rates of consistent deprivation than married and cohabiting counterparts. Yet, according to statistics from the 2011 census, fully 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family.

Cllr Eilis Ryan for Dublin’s North Inner City stated today: “The cuts were introduced on the pretext that it will serve as a labour activation measure. However, the most significant barrier to workplace activation is the low number of jobs at a living wage and extremely high childcare costs Ireland (we have the highest childcare costs in the OECD), making it impossible for many lone parents to raise additional income by working more hours. Many lone parents who are already working will see cuts to income of €30 to €80 or more per week.”

Lorraine Hennessy, Workers’ Party representative for Dublin Mid-West and campaigner for lone parent’s rights commented further “Groups such the National Women’s Council of Ireland have said that childcare costs remain one of the major barriers to workplace activation. When Joan Burton of the Labour Party discussed the implementation of the cuts in April of 2012, she promised that childcare provisions would be implemented prior to any cuts. No such provisions have been made.

“Without a programme for access to decent jobs and serious state investment in affordable childcare, lone parent cuts will do nothing to increase labour force participation; instead they will simply force children to do with less.”

Cllr Ted Tynan for Cork’s North East added “Aside from the fact that the payment cuts cannot even function as advertised: as a stick to beat lone parents back into the workforce, parents should not be forced into activation in the first place. The reality of the cuts is that they are in place as part of the general programme of austerity for the benefit of investors.

“This austerity regime has meant increases in charges and taxation coupled with cuts to public services and social welfare, all to pay the price of the financial crisis of 2008. The money goes from the pockets of lone parents, into the pockets of bankers and the ECB. Many of these lone parents have important caring responsibilities, including caring for older family members, or dealing with disabled children and should not be forced into work.”

Jimmy Dignam, Workers’ representative for Dublin North West concluded by saying “The SPARK (Single Parents Acting for the Rights of their Kids) community has been actively campaigning to draw attention to the damage that these cuts will have. The Workers’ Party encourage all lone parents and supporters to organise in their communities and to get involved in campaigns such as SPARK to help stop the Government from continuing to impoverish children.”

“The Workers’ Party condemn the savage cuts to lone parents and call for an immediate stop to cuts to lone parent families. In addition, the Workers’ Party calls for investment in affordable state child-care facilities and state investment in jobs which provide a living wage, enabling lone parents who would like to work the opportunity.”

Greece: ‘Reality’ as against reality, ‘orthodoxy’ as against consensus July 5, 2015

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Can’t sum it up better than this. From the IT yesterday that tribune of ‘reality’, Stephen Collins. Here’s a quote but best to read the whole piece.

That Greece is in the gutter and we are not is due to the capacity of the Irish political system and the Irish people to face reality.

And compare and contrast with someone who is hardly known for their radicalism, Chris Johns, writing in the same paper on Monday offering a does of actual reality.

Greece needs debt relief. It has got nothing to do with morality or who deserves what; debt relief is the only way to end this. All other efforts are politically driven expedients to stave off, for as long as possible, no matter what the cost to the Greek economy and its citizens, an inevitable debt default.

Chris Squire: 1948-2015 July 4, 2015

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I was never exactly a fan of Yes. They were anathema in the circles I grew up in for their 70s excesses. And subsequently they weren’t, bar the very interesting 90125 – and let’s not ignore Trevor Horn’s involvement there, and The Yes Album which a friend had years ago and I still think has its moments, on my radar. Indeed it’s only in the last five years that I heard much of anything other than those albums by them.

That said I was sorry to hear of the death of Chris Squire, their bass guitarist, this week. He was, intriguingly (to me at least) the only member to play on all their albums. I intend to examine 90125 at greater length some time, but in the meantime here is a track from the 70s from them. In a way it sums up both the strengths and weaknesses of the group (not to mention some near inexplicable garb seen on the live version).

Like punk never happened!

Siberian Khatru (album version)

Siberian Khatru (Live 1979)

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