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As the storm passes October 16, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Looking at some of the damage the instinct to ask was it necessary to near enough close down the island for a day seems to me to be answered by yes, without question. It wasn’t perhaps quite as bad as it might have been but looking at schools with roofs ripped off and fallen trees in residential areas what it might have been like were people not generally indoors is not difficult to envisage. There’s another point too. Even with warnings, a general closedown and perhaps slightly less severe conditions overall than might have been expected there are power outages affecting half a million homes and businesses, considerable damage, some flooding and three people have died. This isn’t going to be the only event like this. And in that respect preparation is essential. Climate change is making similar more numerous and more severe.

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Storms and work October 16, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Good to see this on RTÉ:

09:51
Dunnes Stores, which has closed all of its stores in the Republic and in the North, says all staff that were rostered for work today will be paid as normal. All stores will reopen at normal opening hours tomorrow morning.

But what of this snippet…

08:42
Companies that tell employees to stay at home will likely still have to pay them, unless they agree to another arrangement with workers.

That’s according to Professor Michael Doherty, who is head of Maynooth’s Department of Law. He said that workers need at least 24 hours notice if their shift is being changed and even more time if they are being required to take annual leave, which is unlikely to have been the case for many being asked to stay at home today.

Companies could have a different arrangement for pay in these conditions, but only if it is set out in their employment contracts.

Proper order, one would think, in relation to having to pay workers if they are instructed to stay at home. But note the reference to annual leave.

This reminds me of an argument I had years ago with someone over companies and sick leave – they worked for a company where sick days were taken out of annual leave. To me that seemed to be penalising workers for sickness, and not paying workers in the above circumstances would likewise seem to be penalising them.

But read this and weep.
“There’s no provision in law for extreme weather. In that, it’s like sick pay. It’s all pursuant to the contract you have with your employer.”
This is also the case if you physically can’t get to work due to, for example, a flooded road or cancelled bus service, says Richard Grogan, an employment law solicitor.

And:

…can they discipline you or even fire you for not showing up because of the weather? This probably depends on where you are in the country.
“It entirely depends on the individual circumstances. You can only be dismissed after you’ve had a disciplinary procedure. You’d be entitled, within that procedure, to put in evidence of the weather warnings from Met Éireann,” Ms Bolger said.
If a you are fired nonetheless, you would have quite a strong case to bring to the Workplace Relations Commission, she says.
“As long as the person had a reasonable belief it was unsafe to travel it’s very hard to see how their dismissal could ever stand up.
“But it has to be reasonable. If you’ve someone in an unaffected part of the country saying ‘oh I better not risk it’, that’s probably not reasonable.”
“There is a difference between employees not coming to work in Tralee and not coming into work in the Dublin city centre,” Mr Grogan said.

But hold on. Buses not working after 10 in Dublin and not returning until after 6 and possibly not even then, so people could go in to work… and then? How do they get home? Or are they expected to sit out the storm? How does all this work? And what of the very real prospect there is going to be more events like this in a world of climate change?

British Labour and a hard Brexit October 16, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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So much stuff going on that it’s hard to keep track – but some intriguing straws in the wind in regard to the BLP and Brexit…first up:


Jeremy Corbyn has said he would vote to remain in the EU in the event of another referendum, as he criticised the government for its “shocking” lack of progress in the Brexit talks.
The Labour leader revealed his position during a visit to Shipley in West Yorkshire, just days after Theresa May said she could not answer the question because she would have to weigh up the evidence again.

And:

Asked if he would vote remain if a new referendum were held tomorrow, Corbyn replied: “There isn’t going to be another referendum, so it’s a hypothetical question but yes, I voted remain because I thought the best option was to remain. I haven’t changed my mind on that.
“But we accept the result of the referendum therefore we want to make sure we obtain tariff-free access to the European markets and protection of all the rights and membership of agencies we have achieved through the European Union membership.”

Okay, it is an easy win. As he notes it’s an hypothetical. He’s not in charge of the process. And he was given advance warning in the context of the utter shambles that Tory Ministers and the PM made of it. But here’s the thing, even though it’s an absolutely absurd question on one level given that there is no second referendum it is something that Tories should have anticipated would come their way.

And given Corbyn’s own conflicted views in relation to the vote it is impressive that he’d be so unequivocal about it. But I suspect that consistency is his friends, as it has been throughout his leadership. He can expend a little political capital in the expectation that he will gain some more. Moreover it is the sensible answer. He can present this as it is, a Tory Brexit. Nothing more nothing less.

And that leads onto another point. At the weekend the BLP assumed a much much more critical profile in terms of positioning against a hard Brexit…

Labour has also tabled a series of amendments that would bind the government to a transitional period, after Brexit day in March 2019, during which the UK in effect would remain inside the single market and customs union. The party’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, said: “No deal means the return of a hard border in Northern Ireland. No deal means no agreement on how we trade with Europe. No deal means EU nationals working in our schools and hospitals and the 1.2 million UK citizens living in the EU will continue to be unsure about their future. No deal means no deal on aviation, which quite literally means planes cannot take off and land. This is not scaremongering, it’s the grim reality.”

Now, that said, there’s also this which seems to me perhaps to align with some anti-Corbyn sentiment…

Tory MPS who oppose a hard Brexit have declared they will not back any amendments tabled by Labour’s frontbench and bearing Jeremy Corbyn’s name, but say they would be prepared to line up with amendments from like-minded Labour backbenchers.

And it seems a bit futile given the BLP is the largest single anti-Brexit/pro-soft Brexit bloc in the parliament. But still.

Heartening to see some pushback. And also heartening to see the realities of the situation outlined including that of this island.

Left Archive: The Labour Party Outline Policy: Health Social Welfare, Irish Labour Party, 1969 October 16, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. LPHEALTH1969 PM

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

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

This document joins others outlining policy from the Irish Labour Party at the beginning of the 1970s. The fact that Health and Social Welfare are combined largely under the same heading is interesting. However the Labour Party argues ‘that the community has the responsibility of providing a free medical health service for all citizens without distinction’. It also dismisses the ‘conservative government now in power which proposes to introduce free choice of doctor without fee for some 30% of the population. It does not accept responsibility for providing the middle income group with similar facilities’. The document is strongly in favour of community health care and is quite comprehensive addressing geriatric care, mental health and research. In terms of funding it supports expenditure funded by the state and is against ‘flat insurance based schemes’ due to their lack of redistributive effect.

Similarly with social welfare the party argues that ‘the role of social services is central to any democratic socialist programme’. And it continues ‘the objective of this social welfare policy is to secure for each person a basic standard of living in terms of income and services, thereby eliminating poverty from society’.

It argues for a Social Fund and a Department of Social Development which would be responsible for co-ordination of social services.

Notable is the unabashed language of democratic socialism.

This Hurricane Ophelia thing… October 15, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Red warning now extended across the island tomorrow…

All schools and colleges will be shut tomorrow as the entire country has been upgraded to a status red wind warning over Hurricane Ophelia.

A status red wind warning had been in place for Wexford, Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Waterford.

However this evening, Met Éireann redesignated the entire country to a status red wind alert.

Met Éireann said: “Ex-Hurricane Ophelia is forecast to track directly over Ireland during the daytime tomorrow.

“Violent and destructive gusts are forecast with all areas at risk and in particular the southwest and south in the morning, and eastern counties in the afternoon.

Unusual.

Shooting at the Moon October 15, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This piece in Slate.com by Neel V. Patel has some useful information as regards the curious orientation of the Trump administration in regard to space exploration. Effectively this could, as with so much of Trump’s approach, be summed up as all rhetoric and no substance.

There’s talk about returning astronauts to the Moon but no concrete plans. And as the author notes:

To be fair, NASA already has plans to go to the moon—just not to land on it. Since 2012, the agency has been planning a series of manned missions to lunar orbit throughout the 2020s, with the first to launch (optimistically) in June 2022. If NASA suddenly decided it wanted to send those astronauts to the moon’s surface, it would need to build a lander of some sorts. They obviously know how to do that. As John Logsdon, the founder and director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, says, a manned return to the moon is “totally feasible with even just a modest budget increase.”

But… Patel also seems entranced by the idea of going to Mars. I would be fascinated to know what particular use that constitutes at this time. Indeed it seems to me that encouraging a return to the lunar surface might, not least due to proximity, be a better way forward. So even where Patel acknowledges a utility in the idea of returning to the Moon in steps Mars!

Dreier emphasizes there’s no inherently right or wrong destination for space travel. We’ve yet to explore the far side of the moon, or its poles, which might possess ice reserves, which could provide a useable source of water. Other valuable resources might be lurking under the surface, waiting to be mined. Scientists and engineers could definitely use the low gravity as a testing ground for learning how to live and work on a different celestial body. But Dreier is adamant that landing on the lunar surface is an unnecessary detour if the journey’s end is supposed to Mars. If you’re trying to drive to New York City from Los Angeles as soon as possible, you wouldn’t stop to build a home in Houston.

Mars, to my mind, is a bit futile. A multi-month/year mission that would do… well… what at this stage? Whereas building up some actual space infrastructure between here and lunar orbit sounds like a much more useful approach allowing for a building block dynamic that later a Mars mission can be slotted into (or not, depending upon assessments of its utility). And there are some intriguing ideas, not least the Deep Space Gateway station which would allow for both a staging point for lunar exploration and deeper space missions. It’s long past time we had a permanent human presence beyond low Earth orbit.

Of course, I wouldn’t hold my breath that any of this will happen with Trump in the picture.

Sunday and Weekend Media Stupid Statements October 15, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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What of this from the Independent’s editorial on FF and SF yesterday?

But it fell to Sinn Féin to be utterly incensed [at the budget]. The indignation would have been more convincing were it not for the fact that the party had preferred to be snipers in the wings from the backbenches, spurning the chance to play a role in government when they had a chance.

Huh? Is that a reference to Stormont – but even in that context it makes little or no sense, as if being in government is the totality of matters despite anything else. And of course government is not an option for SF in this state due to the attitude of other parties.

And ironically – or confusingly – the editorial goes on to effectively demand that situation persist into the future with…

….it is up to Fianna Fáil to convince that “no” really does mean “no” when it comes to going into government with Sinn Féin after the next election.

The position has been unclear. With senior figures giving contradictory or at best ambiguous answers in recent months it behoves them to spell out unequivocally where it stands definitively.

‘He wants to meet Kenny’: or just how the British government sees us… October 15, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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An absolutely telling anecdote is recounted in a review in the IT this weekend of Tony Connelly’s Brexit & Ireland: the Dangers, the Opportunities, and the inside story of the Irish Response. Interesting book (albeit with the style of extended title that is all the rage in US non fiction books and is becoming so this side of the Atlantic), but what to make of this? “A few weeks after the referendum, the Dept. of the Taoiseach received an email from the diary secretary to David Davis, the newly appointed Brexit secretary.”

The secretary of state has told me he wants to meet Kenny. Please let us know if Kenny is available.

As Denis Staunton, reviewing the book, notes “the message speaks volumes, not only about shabby protocol on the British side but about London’s expectation that Dublin would be an ally in negations with the rest of the EU’.”

More news from a distant star… October 14, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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That would be KIC 8462852… The star that was observed in the past two years variable brightness – some explanations suggesting that it might be caused by alien megastructures… the latest idea is that:

…it’s likely a cloud of dust orbiting the star every 700 days. This would explain the long-term dimming of the star over years.
But there’s still more research needed. There’s also short-term, daily dimmings from this star.
The scientists aren’t sure yet if a dust cloud can explain both. Either way, we can now say with more certainty than ever. It’s not aliens.

There’s a picture of an ‘uneven ring of dust’ that may be orbiting the planet on the wiki page. It looks interesting.

Blade Runner 2049 October 14, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Imagine my surprise reading the reviews that Blade Runner 2049 was good. Indeed not just good but great – a stellar sequel as good as or (whisper it) better than the original. And directed by the director of Arrival, which came highly regarded.

Imagine my surprise reading this week that Blade Runner 2049 has been an effective box office flop. Not a disaster, people are going to it, but nowhere near as great as might be expected given the critical acclaim.

Donald Clarke suggests that there are numerous reasons, and no doubt many of them are correct – not least that it is long and therefore cinemas can only accommodate fewer screenings. The Telegraph notes a paucity of female characters – no good thing…

I’m unlikely to get to see it in the cinema, as a 15s film it’d be tricky for the creature to see it and as the Telegraph notes the 3hrs running time makes getting the time of an evening equally tricky. So Blu-Ray or DVD it is. Still, I can’t help but feel that slightly more challenging big budget spectacle like this has a value. Anyone seen it?

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