America blog has a good post on the leaking by Craig Murray of documents outlining Uzbekh torture methods, and British awareness of their use in procuring information from terror suspects.
The original documents are here (Murrays letters to FCO) and here(FCO reply).
The U.K/FCO position was that it was not an offence to HAVE information gathered from tortured suspects for operational reasons but most U.K. courts would not admit it as evidence, a conclusion backed up by the terror judgement in December.
Categories: Torture, Terror, UK
America blog has a good post on the leaking by Craig Murray of documents outlining Uzbekh torture methods, and British awareness of their use in procuring information from terror suspects.
Came across this at crooks and liars, followed on to the Craig Murray site itself for a gander at the documents.
Craig Murray has seemingly set up a coordinated release of papers from his time in tashkent to a series of UK bloggers. Daily Kos has picked it up and to be honest some of Murray's letters make for uncomfortable reading for some.
Taking from the Kos pulled quote;
- We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror.
- I gather a recent London interdepartmental meeting considered the question and decided to continue to receive the material. This is morally, legally and practically wrong. It exposes as hypocritical our post Abu Ghraib pronouncements and fatally undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results.
- We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state.
12. On the usefulness of the material obtained, this is irrelevant. Article 2 of the Convention, to which we are a party, could not be plainer: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."
16. I have been considering Michael Wood's legal view, which he kindly gave in writing. I cannot understand why Michael concentrated only on Article 15 of the Convention. This certainly bans the use of material obtained under torture as evidence in proceedings, but it does not state that this is the sole exclusion of the use of such material.
17. The relevant article seems to me Article 4, which talks of complicity in torture. Knowingly to receive its results appears to be at least arguable as complicity. It does not appear that being in a different country to the actual torture would preclude complicity. I talked this over in a hypothetical sense with my old friend Prof Francois Hampson, I believe an acknowledged World authority on the Convention, who said that the complicity argument and the spirit of the Convention would be likely to be winning points. I should be grateful to hear Michael's views on this.
Its no surprise that people in power are aware of abuses being undertaken in the name of the west abroad. It is their job after all. That doesnt make it correct. Is prosecuting a policy where the acceptance of torture abroad and the willingness to use its fruits not utterly damaging to any war on terror, even a struggle against terror would see the futility of such an action.
I sincerely hope that there is time to salvage something from this and Murray is not proved right about this:
"19. This is a difficult and dangerous part of the World. Dire and increasing poverty and harsh repression are undoubtedly turning young people here towards radical Islam. The Uzbek government are thus creating this threat, and perceived US support for Karimov strengthens anti-Western feeling. SIS ought to establish a presence here, but not as partners of the Uzbek Security Services, whose sheer brutality puts them beyond the pale."
We all picked up our prism on September 12, but people in the field for longer than we have been aware voice misgivings about the arguments for the efficiacy of torture. I concur, I agree wholeheartedly that a tortured man is a broken man and will tell whatever we want. The determination of guilt or innocence is irrelevant, torture has a 100% conviction rating.
We should all be aware of what is going on regarding torture, and careful to extrapolate our conclusions to the issue of rendition which is related but not identical. The US and UK will legalise the use of torture evidence thus legitimating torture abroad in their name. This is not acceptable to me:
1) On human rights grounds and the already established norms of international behaviour
2) On security grounds, if Shannon and Ireland were to become bound up with the tale of rendition and thus legitimated torture I know i wouldnt feel safe long term.
Again, lessons are here to be learned. We must make sure that these lessons are hammered home. At the end of the day my government may too be complicit to a lesser degree. Murray's stuff is interesting and released to the public domain for us all to deliberate on.
For more head to bloggerheads (many posts just look back through them)
UPDATE: More sites carrying the story, most are quite left fyi, Meaders has it, Chicken Yoghurt (quite good), Bair Watch
Categories: Terror, Torture, War, Politics
"At that time, unless the debt limit is raised or the Treasury Department takes authorized extraordinary actions, we will be unable to continue to finance government operations," Snow wrote.
If the department were to carry out various accounting maneuvers — as it has done in the past to avoid breaching the limit — that would free up finances and allow the government to keep paying its bills "no longer than mid-March," Snow wrote
Im sure those who worry about government debt levels and the exposure of the dollar to such risks are thinking hard about the latest moves by a conservative government. Soon voting democrat will be the fiscally responsible thing to do. Echoes of Black Wednesday?
Categories: US, Economics
Right-o this thing is probably grating on most peoples nads at this stage, when will i let it go etc. Well perhaps now or perhaps never, just keep coming back to see.
This is only a short little heads up on a very well done (and obviously painstaking task) post over at potatoriotique transcripting the Eamon Dunphy breakfast show on the topic. For those who didnt know, newstalk is now podcasting some shows. More details here.
Anyway Potatriotque has got the whole lowdown on a series of interviews with Senator Mary O’Rourke, Niall O’Dowd, Finian McGrath, John Waters, Professor Dermot Walsh, and Senator David Norris and John Downing and a few other bits and bobs. Well done for the work.
Im pretty sure i caught this installment those who didnt would be well advised to make time for it. This issue has now well and truly gone. Some are happy others feel that a lesson is left unlearned. I stand in the latter camp.
Categories: Irishpolitics, Justice,
Right, first off Im publishing this for a bit of a barney, not because I necessarily agree. Right disclaimer out of the way here goes...
Noam Chomsky, being interviewed ahead of this coming January's visit to deliver a lecture to amnesty and UCD students, has launched a bit of a verbal missile at Bertie and co at Merrion Square.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Ireland next month, controversial academic Noam Chomsky also accused the Irish Government of being the US’s obedient servant.
Speaking about the refuelling of US military aircraft at Shannon, Dr Chomsky asked: “Is Mr Ahern following the will of the Irish people or is he following orders from Washington?
“It can only be justified if the goal of the government is to be the obedient servant of the global superpower.
“This tells you that western politicians despise democracy and prefer to shine the shoes of the power.”
To be honest it doesnt get much hotter than that, and it all seems a little forced. The language, the reportage etc. Still question is does he have a point and should we be proud that Chomsky is singling us out, or even noticing us, or is it all a bit of grandstanding from the man?
Categories: Terror, Irishpolitics
From Think Progress comes this very interesting take on the blogosphere by Kathleen Parker. The woman read lord of the flies and feels thus amply qualified to make sure we know that everything she doesnt agree with is, like that bleak piece, destined to doom.
From the thinkprogress post:
In today’s Orlando Sentinel, right-wing columnist Kathleen Parker provides a clear headed assessment of the blogosphere:
Each time I wander into blogdom, I’m reminded of the savage children stranded on an island in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.” Without adult supervision, they organize themselves into rival tribes, learn to hunt and kill, and eventually become murderous barbarians in the absence of a civilizing structure.
…When a mainstream journalist stumbles, they pile on like so many savages, hoisting his or her head on a bloody stick as Golding’s children did the fly-covered head of a butchered sow.
…Incivility is their weapon and humanity their victim.
…We can’t silence them, but for civilization’s sake - and the integrity of information by which we all live or die - we can and should ignore them.
Right. Thats great to know. But completely wrong.
I am pretty sure I have read a number of occassions where the MSM played the man and not the ball in reportage. If a reporter slips up i.e. is wrong, it isnt just the bloggers who will point that out. The crude imagery of heads on sticks suggests that some editors will sack a journalist or that his reputation will be irretrievably sullied by a group of disparate diary writers. Laughable paranoia doesnt make one any less paranoid.
I know most of us are tired of endless and anal debates about our relationship with the MSM but this far more simple than that. The woman is clearly a fool if she cannot give a more nuanced view of a medium that is breeding argument dissent and conversation. Most obviously across political, social, religious and other creeds to from something more interactive than Kathleen Parkers Column.
Right bitching over and perhaps it would be best if she took her own advice and stopped looking at blogs as they are seriously harming her perspective and sanity.
Categories: Blogging, Media, U.S.
Im not sure if many of you followed the Euro Tribune countdown to $100-oil series. Basically a contributor placed a bet on seing $100-oil by year end 2005. As we are all aware that has not happened. So admitting defeat, Jerome begins 2006 with some predictions and a competition.
His last attempt at prediction was quite clearly wrong and he has quite an amusing cartoon to point this out. (I tried to get the toon into the post but IE kept screwing up the site.)
Still, I know there are a vast number of switched on souls in the irish blogosphere who would be more than able to tackle his final four posers in the 2006 competition. Prize btw is a bottle of French Champagne or Whiskey-your choice.
The four posers are as follows:
- What will be the highest price for oil in 2006? (As usual, you may choose your benchmark. If not provided, WTI will be the default option). And as an additional twist to that question (to be used to determine the winner if needed), what will be the proximate cause of that high?
- What will be the year-end price for oil in late December 2006?
- Same questions for natural gas: year high, and end-year prices, in $/mbtu, using Henry Hub (prices in $/boe will be accepted as well)
- On what date will 100$/bl oil be reached? And same addendum - what will be the proximate cause?
Highest: 240$/bl, after a US bombing raid on Iranian nuclear facilities, in October
Natgas highest: 25$/mbtu after a cold spell in March. Year-end: 17$/mbtu
100$/bl oil reached in October
My Own Prediction:
Highest: $86/bl following another onset of driving season mania followed quickly by Winter Fuel Worries. Geopolitics may be less unstable this year but oil's trend upward is still intact on my view.
Year End: $75 Retracement begins once U.S. begins to release strategic reserves and industrialised countries try to reign in unnecessary consumption for a while.
Nat Gas: Perhaps a high of around $17 in spring year end retracement toward $10 or less as trend looks to be broken and reversing.
Nat Gas Highest: Probably Spring time when the U.K. and others make the announcement that a huge new gas infrastructure is to be built and many worry that North Sea Supply is unable to sustain the new infrastructure. Coupled with cold weather in US and worries about fuel. Those in Ireland on the Scottish pipeline are equally worried by supply issues.
Categories: Oil, Markets, Economics
Recently decided to dump the marvellously overweight Mozilla Thunderbird as RSS aggreagator of choice. The thing is terribly unwieldly. So the search took many an hour since all i wanted was a simple replacement for my current setup. Nice clean lines and simple functionality.
So all I got was massively complex and overfunctioned readers that forgot how to look nice. I finally settled on Great News from CuriousStudio.com.
I just thought i would pass on the recommendation as it seems to work quite well.
Hope you all are enjoying the break, I sure am.
Update: The Newspaper style layout for RSS and ATOM feeds is very funky. All posts appear on one page as Headlines with a sentence or two in summation. Very handy indeed.
Right, there is one post left before the inevitable Christmas break i shall be imposing on all things ranty. Today's Guardian carries quite and interesting piece about the place of Christmas in general in a populace which is increasingly secular/agnostic. This, of course, is the time of year when many people emerge to berate the trajectory of modern society and reiterate how different it all was eons ago. Perhaps they are correct in that assertion but the article by Jenni Russell takes a bit of a different tack.
This Humanist seems to be slightly sad at the de-religification of Christmas, searching for traditional decorations, she instead finds a series of sterile non-denominational holiday season gifts.
"Perhaps in a misguided attempt to avoid offending other faiths, there was not a hint of anything that might have suggested actual Christianity, such as a cradle or a nativity scene. If a Christmas song was playing, it would be something jaunty and secular, such as the appalling Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
And yet there is no consistency in what I want. I am deeply and sentimentally attached to this festival, and want it to remain part of our public life. But how can that make any sense when I am so distrustful of religion's influence in so many other ways? I fear its capacity for authoritarianism, self-righteousness, and hostility to non-believers. I think faith schools, with their utter certainties, are dangerous and divisive."
I think there are many out there who would absolutely agree with this sentiment, I myself am deeply agnostic about God and horrified by the manner in which our faculties get abused and shackled by a religion designed to emancipate. Yet I deeply love Christmas. I woke up this morning and tried to figure out reasons why I should celebrate the event as I have grown more and more disillusioned with the presence of God. This festival should be immediately outside of my capacity to celebrate, should immediately sideline me from the crowd of happy celebrants.
Yet, sans religious motivation, I preserve Christmas as a time of celebration. There is a deep part of human nature, beyond the observable, even metaphysical which becomes motivated by a sense of sharing and celebration. Juxtaposing this very religious sentiment with a broader set of humanist beliefs seems to be a very tricky thing to do. Indeed Russell herself problematises the issue as such;
"The piercing loveliness of a sung Messiah; the symbols on the tree; the participation in the massed roar of O Come All Ye Faithful - these are bonding rituals that do indeed make me feel warmer to all mankind, while their annual repetition gives a reassuring structure to my life. Am I deluded to think that one can adopt the best elements of religion while avoiding the worst?"
This is a deeply philosophical point and my initial reaction is to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to adopt the best aspects of Christmas, though for most these aspects are hollowing away and dying out. They are dying out because the religious anchor around which the tradition grew and bloomed has been lost to most. This is no bad thing, for much of the modern period there has been a deep desire to remedy the worst of religions excesses among avowed secularists, humanists and others.
Yet that leaves a tradition bereft of narrative, in that absence, in the absence of a reason there enters the commercial. The new narrative which replaced religion at the heart of Christmas became the commercial one. It became subject to advertisement, quantification and all other things. It was ripped from the metaphysical breast of the church and placed in the physical hands of the humans. Yet this need not be so. Philosophy has given us all many reasons to adopt the ethos of Christmas and allow it to have that transcendent metaphysical aspect.
The desire to maintain that special element of Christmas such that the time is equal to more that the sum of its parts (ie gifts, food etc), is alive and well in most humans. I am of course generalising but i do so in the confidence of a human nature which desires progress and spirituality. Such an event is within our grasp to create, if we believe that what is passing for Christmas now has been stripped of the metaphysical.
"Is it just the case that we haven't found the language to inspire people as religion does, or does rationality have its limits? It seems to me that most of us wish there was a purpose in life beyond the mundane, and that there are aspects of life that rationality doesn't reach."
Does rationality have its limits? Such a question rarely has an answer. Which form of rationality? Aristotle saw many different shapes to reason, many have seen certain ideas of purpose removed by philosophical and scientific enquiry. In their place lies nothing. Yet there is a deep desire for the metaphysical, for it to be available to us as a valid form of enquiry, a valid epistemology and a valid source of spirituality.
I don't think that for such a thing to exist we must discard reason, for that means discarding the means to millions of years of progress. This is a discourse which I gather is pretty unique to English language discourse. Much continental philosophy would submit reason to the exploration of the human condition through and beyond the physical. What Russell seemed to be seeking is a celebration of the human metaphysic.
Stripped of the superstition we can still celebrate the human which lies open to reflection and contemplation. Stripped of the disillusion we can find hope in a celebration of the human condition and human potential. We can certainly keep Christmas, certainly in a traditional way and no one will be required to compromise humanism or other secular tendencies because a celebration of Christmas should be about human-kind and openly engaged with ideas of progress, growth, exploration and development.
This morning I decided that is what I shall be celebrating and tomorrow I intend to raise a glass to all of you and all of us. The growth of family units, social enterprises and now technological innovation stands as testament to what we can achieve. This time of year offers us all a chance to get back to basics.
"The depressing realisation for those of us who don't have God to tell us to think of others is to discover that, in the absence of faith, people are more likely to turn to consumerism than humanism."
That is indeed sad, since the fulfillment of being human can be at once as beautiful and spiritual as any amount of religion. The removal of religion does not imply the denial of aspect of our human which are open to spirituality, praise, glorification and reflective exploration. It admits that there are no easy answers and may not be one single answer. It can praise the unity of humanity under some commonalities and praise the innovation and difference which we are capable of producing. Yet consumer's simply offers the same retreat as religion, flat-packed pre-made cut-out-and-keep answers to dull away the razor sharp questions and gaps.
Christmas can and does mean something special, something exceptional and there is nothing wrong with promoting a celebration of human exceptionality. Yet it must seriously acknowledge a lack of teleologically determined perfection and admit there is no big plan. I will be celebrating an odd mish-mash of causes, events and other things this year. Primarily, a toast to the human project and a celebration Humanity.
Im not sure if this is making sense, though in the new year I intend to start bringing a great deal of philosophy into the site. It should help with my study and open up some debate.
Categories: Philosophy, Christmas
HO HO HO
Over at opendemocracy is a very interesting, though odd, article on Osama Bin Laden arising from the recent publication of all his statements in English and in full to facilitate the study of islamism.
Personally Im not sure what to make of it, i cant decide whether it is saying he is not that bad a guy or that he is bad but we have him all wrong.
Movements like al-Qaida represent our global interrelatedness by such acts, in which any one person can be related to any other through schemes of violence or virtue. Indeed these acts function like shadows of our global interrelatedness, which possesses as yet no political form of its own.
Osama bin Laden’s Islam represents this global predicament in the fragmentation of its own history, geography and doctrine. His war against the west represents the same global predicament by making possible a universal reciprocity of violence, which has replaced failed forms of freedom or democracy as the new currency of global equality.
I am heading off now but this one needs a second reading. My first reaction was that it no longer matters what Bin Ladens politics are since he is now a figure-head rather than il duce. Im also rather dubious about attempts to soften out his politics, and certianly those of the Islamic movement are not dictated by Bin Laden. Still il give a second read later and post later. Let me know what you make of it.
Categories: Terrorism, Politics
just some links and things for those who are endlessly browsing in the hope of avoiding the christmas chores. There are two pretty cool sites you might like to check out should you not be in the mood for your fourth helping of turkey.
The first, NoradSanta.org is a pretty cool looking site as North American Airspace Defence look after Santa as he flies through the world, someone has to look after him and keep him safe from surface to airs over Afghanisatan. The site has some video planned of Santa leaving the north pole etc, and for all those young or old it seems like a bit of a laugh.
Second is the new development over at planet of the blogs, visualising the blogosphere, here is mine. The interlinks code looks pretty cool and some of the heavily linked blogs are going to be class to look at. Anyhow, just a little diverison at a time when few feel like doing serious thinking.
A little earlier I wandered through some of the arguements on whistle blowers arising from the Howlin result yesterday. It seems that fates have handed me more fodder to consider in the form of this post over at Mental Meanderings. The U.N has set up a whistle blowing process to ensure safety for the informant etc.
The policy quote pulled from Fi;
As part of his campaign to revamp the United Nations and root out misdeeds and mismanagement, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has signed a new whistleblower protection policy, to take effect on 1 January, aimed at ensuring that the world body functions in an open, transparent and fair manner.
Retaliation against individuals who have reported misconduct or who have cooperated with audits or investigations violates the fundamental obligation of all staff members to uphold the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity and to discharge their functions and regulate their conduct with the best interests of the Organization in view, the new policy states.
It seems inevitable from this quote that any whistle blower in the UN will have to go public but be guarded from retaliation. I think anyone how considers the TD arguments for confidentiality would reach a similar conclusion that in the case of whistle blowing, revelation of identity is somewhat inevitable. Still on goes the debate.
Categories: Law, Justice, Irishpolitics
Politicians are proficient at two things, I find.
1) Sounding knowledgeable about a subject that they know nothing about and
2) Sounding shrill at any attempt to force them to do something.
So it was yesterday when the ruling came down in the case of Brendan Howlin -v- The Morris Tribunal. Mr Howlin and his party leader are talking big talk about the state of our democracy and trust in our TDs following the Supreme Court ruling which forced Deputy Howlin to reveal his sources to the Morris Tribunal, those sources that talked of the inital Garda Corruption which exploded in recent years.
There are a few things that occurred to me while looking at some stuff on this. Firstly, I wondered if any of the citizens of this state should be entitled to some protection for whistle-blowing. I mean that strictly in terms of reporting it to TDs and perahps other select State officials. Is there a moral case for the right of a citizen to privately testify to a TD, information which is both sensitive and may put them in danger?
Does the citizen of a republic incur the risk of making allegations or do they make it securely? There are arguments for both sides. Those who propose the protection of informants often cite either the imperative for getting this information out there so allegations can be dealt with coupled with arguments about the safety of the life of the individual in question should they come forward. There arguments are definitely salient and should not be ruled out completely, however anonymity affords a certain amount of secrecy and others would worry about the ability of people to make unfounded allegations which they will not be forced to stand over.
I too would worry about such a case emerging. It is clear so far that the most persuasive case to many would be the former where some form of privacy exists in a TD-Citizen relationship. However is that secrecy not as dangerous as the prospect of openness? Take the cases of Ray Burke, Ben Dunne et al., would there have been an argument for secrecy in such cases?
I am well disposed to the principle that those who come in confidence should be afforded such confidence, however, it is always plausible to argue that those who come forward run the risk of being forced to account in public, by offering evidence or otherwise.
Of course TDs argue that such privelege would be extended to whistleblowers only and as such should be supported. I again agree in principle. Still looking across the water to the whole Plame-gate saga regarding the secrecy of sources and right to privacy etc, there always comes a time in the process where an informant must emerge to support the cases. The Irish Times reports that Howlin expects the identity to emerge soon, since his telephone records can now be handed over to the tribunal. I wonder how much protection one can give to whistle blowers in terms of confidentiality before their evidence becomes necessitated in practice?
There are many ways around this of course and I am still unsure whether there should be legislation to protect confidentiality. Things like this have major abuse potential, leaving them alone also opens up the possibility of lack of trust in a TD-Constituent relationship.
The liberty of an individual is important, also the process of justice is important. In this case the privacy of the individual comes into conflict with some form of social responsibility. The following is Pat Rabbitte's response to the judgement;
"The judgement clearly also has the potential to discourage ‘whistleblowers’ from approaching Dail Deputies with confidential information on matters of public importance. Unless action is taken to deal with the issues in the judgement by extending further the right of Deputies to protect sources of information, the relationship between members of the Dail and their constituents will be changed forever."
Clearly the current procedure is inadequete, there should be some protocol available to tribunals and TDs such that all are aware of rights and responsibilities under the law. Whistleblowers are generally exceptional circumstances, yet in the case of
Morris, the tribunal would not exist without them. So there is a need to resolve the dilemma between guaranteeing individual confidentiality and privelegeing the relationship between TD and citizen and the need for a fair and open process of deliberation in the spheres of Justice and Government. Its a dilly of a pickle, hopefully Il return to it soon and unpack it some more.
Categories: Justice, Law, Irishpolitics
Im thinking of making this regular enought, only when I read some good stuff. Let me know what you think, it would be nice
Terror Inc. by Loretta Napoleoni, published by Penguin.
Easily, one of the most debated and discussed topics in our western narrative is terrorism. We have yet to agree what it means but that doesnt preclude us from debating the hell out of it, which is healthy. I picked up Terror Inc. by Loretta Napoleoni a long time ago but only got around to reading it last week or so. Nonetheless, it is still well worth reading.
The book makes little attempt to cover old ground in the "what is terrorism?" debate. It unashamedly ignores the political arguments regarding classification and use of a heavily emotive word. Yet it delivers an impeccable analysis of the behaviour of terror organisations, or perhaps organisations dubbed terrorists for some among us, that's a chestnut I think we will leave at the beginning of the post.
Loretta is an economist by trade and the book traces the genealogy of traditional nationalist terror outfits through to their modern forms and analyses the recent trend to Islamic forms in the context of emergence. All of this is undertaken from an economic analysis, i.e. what it is these organisations do, how they relate to each other, to states, to people in order to survive and achieve.
The examination of the behaviour of these organisations reveals a manner in which they emerge as state-shells, adopting some of the economic behaviour of states but lacking major tenets such as law, legitimacy and territoriality. They often commandeer land in order to promote and economy which is directed at fuelling a war. The emergence of these trends in the PLO from Jordan to Palestine via Lebanon is pretty insightful and a useful tool in studying the emergence of Al-Qaida organisation. The PLO has turned itself into a de-facto state authority in these regions to finance and promote its war.
This development is a Cold War hangover where proxy armed groups like Afghan Mujaheddin and other's needed to privatise their finances and stop relying on state funding. The overview of the financial techniques used to secure solvency in a war economy and the knock on social effects these have are elucidated wonderfully and highly accessible to a feeble mind such as myself.
It makes one think long and hard, less about terror and more about the practical side of the issue. Little romance lies in debating the approaches to terror in this sense yet it is here some hard questions emerge. Since Al-Qaida/Jihad has benefited most from globalisation, and the means by which this has happened and the practices used to fund and distribute terror globally are shown, this asks real questions about the relation our economic system has to have with our safety. Not in a simple Socialism stops terror sense but a genuine consideration of how the manner in which some of our development has been achieved and also some of the outcomes of our processes of globalisation have not helped us in our primary struggle for survival.
The relationship between our economy and that of terror is alarmingly close, the terror economy is values at $1.5 Trillion yearly and contributes huge liquidity to the Western economies. Its shutdown would cause untold economic chaos. This seems a dangerous relationship between our world system and those who would destroy us. I was deeply disturbed toward the end when it all got tied together. The old-order PLO/IRA style of organisation has been superseded by a new form, under the impetus of two main political agendas, one Islamic one nationalist.
At the same time it is not a scare-monograms book but a delivery of another side of the terror story. I have probably not done it justice, alas, but recommended reading it is. Definitely. A clear and insightful view of the system which runs our world and the system that runs theirs. The dangerous bit is the size of the overlap and the positive bit is the over-reliance of their success on our doing nothing.
Categories: Books, Terror,
No its not a rant fresh from holidays, I returned last night and flicked on Qand A for a quick run down of what is moving and shaking. Contrary to much received opinion, including my own, the issue of McDowell and Frank Connolly is still dragging along. Im sure Micheal was happy to see his party colleagues in the audience support him, I would be, if only for a leadership contest.
Still, I am amazed that the government has not been so successful in putting this one to bed. There exists a sizeable body of opinion which reckons that McDowell was somewhere between right on and not wrong. This body would be helpful in packing away news by leaking something new to play with, which has happened.
b) More than this in the form of a confidential Garda intelligence file which shouldn't be subject to leaks, on grounds of national security.
It cuts both ways, however and clearly Connolly is milking the Ministers act and playing victim. The guy has been forced into a corner by a minister with little respect for his responsibilities to individuals in this state to ensure their liberty is unabused. I thought this is what limited government is designed to achieve, silly me.
Similarly an excellent piece has been posted at Fi Fie Foe Fum by Al,
We have a public servent who takes it upon himself to lobby a non-national funding organisation to end it's relationship with a organisation which has shown no evidence of any activity other than prying into the less savory aspects of the government's record of accountability. No history of mouthpiecing for the provos, the shinners, or any shade of republicanism. Alongside this, he has released to a newspaper, confidential police documents along with an inference (unprovable to date) that a citizen might be involved in some sort of activity opposed to the public interest. No need to support either claim with the force of law, and no need to specify the supposed threat in a post physical-force era.
The national security argument still looks a little like a cover for some political posturing ahead of the (rumoured) exit of party leader. Also scoring a few shinner-baiting points along the way. The actions still have not been placed in the proper context of the national security threat and until it is, I think we all would be right to be sceptical of McDowell.
Equally, I think some scepticism on Connolly is required. There is no need to turn the guy into a martyr for nationalism, since the issue here lies far from Colombia and closer to Kildare House. The lessons to be learned from this episode regard the finer points of Irish democracy, there is division of powers for the purpose of preserving a man from unnecessary forms of government interference. Im still unconvinced McDowell acted properly. Im equally sure that Connolly should not be the direct recipient of our sympathy. He knows how to conduct himself in the media and is equally likely to be playing a game.
Slugger also has a good round-up, here.
Categories: Comment, Irishblogs, Justice
just arrived back to the city after a much deserved break in the U.K.
Had the great pleasure of seeing the toon beat West Ham 4-2 in Upton Park. Glorious atmosphere with great fun all round. Being a toon fan i didnt mind the scoreline too much or seein Super Al slot home a goal right in front of me.
Sentimentality reined as it is probably the last time ill see him live in full competitive action. unless he doesnt actually retire. Here is hoping.
Anyway not a computer in sight in London, all you bloggers gotta try it. Enforced absense has a guilt-free aspect to blogging-break.
While I was away, the shit hit the fan up north. I havent browsed the reaction or what have you and i dont expect full posting till tomorrow afternoon/night.
Thanks for stopping by and its very nice to be home.
"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle all the way...
Oh what fun it is to see
Newcastle win away."
One very happy RR
btw expect the toon to become a bigger part of this blog, I would like to personalise some of the content a bit more. Others are on the way. The toon bit is most likely to annoy you.
Categories: Toon, Blogging,
Folks, heading away for a few days PI will be on holidays until next wednesday i reckon. Chat then. RR
Regarding the superblog.
Right, ive decided that one comment in support, thanks suze, is enough to take some initiative.
Ive set up a yahoogroups slot for the idea with a central mailing list. I dont know all of your emails etc so i encourage you to simply go to the site and click "join this group".
Noone will get turned away, this isnt some biased site etc. I would like to know how many would be interested in taking part and what sort of format all would like to adopt.
Currently im toying with a simple set up:
Blogger.com based site where all are members. Election posts are cross posted on both bloggers own blog and superblog. It is obviously possible for people to post solely to the superblog should they wish.
Comment are mailed to the yahoo group mail so we are all notified of comments when we get them. If this option isnt suitable we can scrap it.
All of you who join the yahoogroup will get an email to join the election blog. Im sure techys have a far superior and more efficient way of doing it. If any techies are reading this then by all means promote something better.
For now im off to let this grow.
Categories: Election2007, BLogging
From GUBU and a very relevant post by Sarah Carey. I agree that the agenda has decided to let the issue slide. Mick is through to the other side and many will say that its a good thing.
Also check out Maman Poulet, seems she heard that CPI were investigating Thornton Hall too. Good post on the implications of this if true.
I think many of you should read her reaction since it sums up nicely what i was trying ot squeeze into a post, some extracts here;
"But isn’t it interesting that Ivor Callely had to go because he couldn’t keep a secretary and over 10 years ago a company did £1500 worth of painting for him? The Minister for Justice leaks garda documents on a political enemy and he gets away with it. If the Minister is so convinced he had a right to let the people know then why didn’t he stand up in the Dail and say it instead of leaking it and then providing the information in a written answer so the Ceann Comhairle couldn’t intervene.
Well, if everyone thinks that what McDowell did was kosher, name and shame a guy when you haven’t enough evidence to charge him, well then let’s go with it. The cops are convinced they have their suspect in the Rachel O’Reilly case, but damnit, they just can’t prove it. Let’s give that file to the Evening Herald. "
I also listened to some of the Dunphy Show this morning, Sam Smyth reckoned that there is no way he could finger Connolly in Court, under oath, as the man in the photograph. Leaking this file is not a vector for delivering justice in my mind. Certainly he is entitled to raise issues of credibility in regard to Connolly but I dont feel this is action was within his power.
Im not sure about calls for his head. I am still thinking about this great phrase, holding to account. In my lexicon it doesnt equate to resignation. I feel there are lessons to be learned but at this stage calls for his head lose sight of the need to clear up issues of accountability.
Also, I think it unlikely that McDowell is actually going to go no matter what.
Categories: Irishpolitics, Comment, Justice
Prompted by a discussion with Kevin over at DL, I wondered if anyone was interested in creating a superblog in time for the next general election.
All members of the irish blogosphere would contribute their posts on the election to a super site, aggregator or some such as the touchstone of irish bloggers opinions on the election. I think saint has suggested similar over at Dossingtimes, cant for the life of me find the post though.
Anyway what do we all think, is it feasible, worthwhile or simply an act of futility?
I for one think a one-stop-shop for up to the minute comment from across the blogosphere on all aspects of the election sounds enticing. It certainly would foment debate among bloggers, since SF will play a big PR role and have a large blogging contingent.
Im not the most technically adept but im willing to put some time in if we all think its worth pursuing. Id be interested in all sorts of ideas and responses. Even on your own blogs at length and in detail.
The election should not be about MSM aresing through the boondocks with Bertie. Genuine ideology, issues and local matters can be brought to the fore with little or not editorial imposition.
It doesnt need to be an alternative to the MSM but a cooperative effort by Irish bloggers to get a whole rainbow of opinions out there, facilitating easy access to debates and lots of points of view.
Categories: Irishpolitics, Election2007, Blogging,
Just wanted to tie a few posts and news updates together for those who are not keeping abreast of the whole debacle Michael McDowell waded into with his urgent moral clarity.
First off, can't seem to locate the speech etc on the Dail website, a horrible place to browse but il keep looking.
Here we go;
I already linked to fi, but here we go again, learned opinion and all.
Also Gavin's first opinion column style post was on the topic, give it a read. And follow-up.
Next some stuff from myself.
Maman Poulet has some good stuff.
As does Sarah Carey.
Slugger has some interesting comments in its post here.My one comment on those responses is that the center's guilt or innocence has now become conflated with that of Frank Connolly. McDowell was acting on the individual, he says, yet the center is justifying some arguments. I think the waters are getting muddier.
Reports from breakingnews.ie:
Mcdowell duty bound to expose...
McDowell denies breaching connolly's rights
Heated Debate in Dail over Affair
Ahern Defends Mcdowell
RTE have a report on the Dail events today.
Its not all one-way opinion:
The FI reckon Mick was right(pardon the pun).
Lastly a member of the residents group out in Meath where McDowell was buying land for the jail was on the Last Word today. She suggested that Connolly was looking into the affair for the CPI and had discussed this with her. If its true, McDowell has made a huge P.R. blunder no matter of his intentions.
A more coherent post after Prime Time.
Categories: Irishpolitics, Comment, Justice
This is an extract from a very good post over at Mental Meanderings. I recommend you read it in full but here is the learned opinion of our learned colleague;
"The main problem with McDowell's action, however, is that through releasing this information to the media he has both subverted the criminal justice system (which he is fixed with running) and compromised any future action against Connolly.
McDowell has referred a number of times to him not having a responsibility to show whether or not the information available to him would satisfy the criminal burden of proof (i.e. beyond a reasonable doubt) indicating that, in likelihood, there isn't sufficient information to take a criminal action against Connolly as it is and he would rather smear him in the media than go through judicial channels and have the case thrown out.
Should information come to light, however, that would allow a prosecution there will be obvious difficulties empanelling a jury that is unaware of Connolly or able to make an objective decision. I'm sure the Minister is ready for just such an eventuality however&.isn't that what the Special Criminal Court, the emergency temporary court in existence on a continuous basis since 1976, is for??"
Again, Im reckoning that Justice considerations took a back seat to the expedient need to "out" Connolly as under suspicion and ipso facto guilty. If your around listen in to the News at One which is bound to be following up on yesterdays admission.
Categories: Irishpolitics, Comment, Justice
There is in my mind no better way of puttin it. Our lad has certainly played a blinder over the past weekend. I was listening to his interview today with Sean O Rourke on RTE, it was absolutely astounding to hear a Minister admitting to leaking a Garda document to the media. I reckon that a post is calling after soaking up news and a very enlightening Vincent Browne show which is well worth another listen here (its the 12 Dec show).
This morning I thought that McDowell had overstepped the mark in terms of our governmental approach. I was not alone. In the Dail he utilised the only possible manner of outing the information on Connelly while avoiding having to be accountable for his comments.
Ex-Justice Minister Nora Owen was in-situ on VB tonight and it was most illuminating. General advice in the Department is to never give out information in answer to a question which overlaps with a case open with the DPP or Gardai. Give general responses, answer the question but do not get personal was the thrust of the advice Owen said she received. I am guessing that a similar mandarin culture would inhabit Stephen's Green at this stage. If not then it certainly should.
McDowell answered Finian McGrath's question in a written answer. This is because McGrath stipulated, as is procedure, that he preffered a written answer. Own continued that an oral answer would have been stopped by the Ceann Comhairle before it got anywhere and has happened many times before. The written answer gets below the wire and delivers the allegations into the record unhindered.
There are allegations that McDowell didnt answer the question asked by McGrath which is itself breaching procedure, but a minor error, this raises a number of points at this stage. The first is that McDowell patently acted in an unorthodox manner in the way he fashioned his answer to McGrath. He cast aside procedural respect for due process, in doing so he also didnt answer the question asked. This suggests that it was McDowells intention to get the information out there in any circumstance. That much of course is implicitly accepted in his admission on earlier news that he intentionally gave documents from the Garda file (allegedly on a single forged passport application form) to independent newspapers and specifically Sam Smyth.
It is thus no surprise that over the course of the weekend Smyth has been most vocal in his siding with McDowell in this whole debate. His show on Sunday seemed to carry the heaby scent of Smyth on a tad of bias. Anyway, The point is that McDowell knowingly handed over material from Garda intelligence files to a member of the media. Again this underlines his intention to filter through to the public information pursuing to a case against a citizen of the Republic.
Mr Justice Morris through the course of his tribunal hearings often held hearings in private. This is because the evidence was to come from Garda intelligence and was deemed highly sensitive to public hearing. Even once the truth or falsity of the intelligence had been ascertained, Morris refused to allow the evidence to be made public since he felt, as with many in the judiciary, that Garda intelligence was too sensitive.
The law precludes the revelation of the reasons why the DPP chose not to prosecute so as to preclude a similar situation of trial by media. So McDowell took the matter into his own hands and released the information to the media. Following that he replied under Dail privelege to questions on the CPI insinuating the guilt of Frank Connelly.
The evidence points toward a situation where the DPP declined to prosecute. In this state, Connnolly's right to innocence remains intact. His presumption of innocence is a fundamental right to be observed and respected by citizens and actors in this state. That much is clear and undeniable. Through his actions McDowell has passed judgement outside of the court process, not on his character but on his guilt. The man has been condemned by Garda intelligence in public and also seen the substance of the allegations leaked to the media.
The leak would put any future action by the DPP, should new evidence come to light, into serious doubt because of possible compromise. McDowell is a barrister, he knows that. This whole issue seems more and more like a politically motivated witchhunt than any serious desire to preserve national security. Which brings us to our next point.
His defence, which only emerged following hostile headlines, of national security is as worrysome as his declaration of being above prosecution. The issue of national security is not one to be dismissed out of hand. It does seem slightly unapplicible to this case. The CPI may well have been a think tank operating with a Green line to its ethos. I for one dont particularly care. Its work would be considered in such light. The threat it posed to national security is clearly uncertain as there is no obvious sign of interference in the CPI by Sinn Fein or the IRA. We are all aware of Damien Kiberds Green credentials and to be fair the evidence does suggests a sympathy.
I remain unconviced that CPI would subvert Irish democracy by attempting to reveal sleaze and corruption. Unless, the obvious retort that sleaze and corruption is all there is to Irish democracy prove true. The Sinn Fein movement has indeed operated outside of the legitimate channels of this state, it seems. Similarly others in the republican community operate outside of the law. The CPI has not been proven to do the same.
McDowell ran off on a political tangent to bring down Connolly. It is clear that he is getting closer to the messianic personality many feared he could become. He is now projecting an image of McDowell as the Philosopher King. The sole arbiter of right and wrong capable of circumventing the courts to bring down a man, withholding his right to defence.
Connolly's choice to keep his powder dry may prove to be sharp but currently feeds the frenzy and nominal opinion certifying him guilty. Perhaps it is his calculation that by keeping information back, the flames will keep rising. Perhaps he is guilty.
As far as I am aware, the constitution doesnt provide for trial by media. Nor does it encourage a member of the executive, acting through the legislature to pass judgement on the guilt of a citizen arbitrarily.
Some may begin to call for McDowells resignation, party politics is like that. I wish to see a lesson learned by our political classes that our democracy, however shaky and imperfect, will not support blatant authoritarian tendencies by any minister. The mans behaviour is wrong. Simply wrong. Dangerously wrong.
Categories: Irishpoltics, Comment, Justice,
Welcome one and all to the new homepage etc, redesign of the blog.
Firstly big thanks to Kevin for the heads up in the first place.
Let me know what you all think. If you come across problems commenting, browsing or anything just shout down the email.
I am aware internet explorer doesnt display the site great but right now i have to dash.
Feedback is welcome, if only to ensure comments are working.
The perceptive among you will no doubt hav noticed im in the process of changing the site. Comments are screwed. So email if you need me.
In the current enjoyment of lists, i intend to publish one. This one, rounding up the top 6 things since I departed. Its the best way i can think of to comment on the two weeks choc full of oddness.
6. Due Process
The Minister for Justice's decision to use Dail Privelage to land allegations without the burden of proof on the door of Frak Connelly. I am fully aware of the Sinn Fein tint that runs through the Center for Public Inquiry and I am certainly no sympathiser to that particular cause. However, their work is to be evaluated, critically if so choosing, in light of this knowledge.
Reports over the weekend suggest McDowell went directly to Feeny the financier of the organisation on the strength of Gardai intelligence and convinced him to withdraw funding. That particular act is intself underhand but defensible by loyalists. However the passing of judgement by a higly active member of the legislative and the executive is unacceptable and only underlines the terrribly blurred boundaries of responsibility and deceny in our system.
If a group of citizens group together to examine the working of government, or investigate corruption, it is their democratic right to do so. What else is a journalist if not a member (in theory) of such and organisation. Or a blogger. Indeed the presence of an FOI act suggests the very principle is acknowledged by government.
Similar to Anthony Sheridan over at irishcorruption, i worry about the willingness of this government to act like a police state.
5. The Budget
What he said. I think David McWilliams is onto something on the effect of our budget on the general health of the economy, however it is obvious that Cowen chose to use whatever influence he has to appeal to a very key demographic. Those out in the suburbs, displaced from their birth-place commuting to work and raising a young family.
The surveys of irish elections show that these young men and women have very little propensity to vote for a number of reasons. Difficulty in casting the ballot accounts for nearly half. For the others it is apathy. This budget tried to get these untapped voters on board without losing the credentials of a business friendly government. It was a difficult balancing act we will have to wait and see how effective it was.
4. Torture Rendition
Ok as soon as i signed of this story went big time. We had the likes of David Daven-Power explaining the concept of rendition and Bertie explaining why he and Dermot and Mcdowell accpeted the word of a friendly government despite the obvious inevitability of Shannon's further involvement being discovered.
Its great to see calls from across the political spectrum for all such activity to cease and Irish Gardai (who remember are so keen on intelligence) taking advantage of their right to investigate civilian planes.
Fiona makes a very apt point at this stage that if torture were not used, then why is Cheney bursting a gut on Capitol Hill trying to bring down McCains toture amendment. This government and state has a history of looking the other way. Time to stand tall with others who are defending the human rights that seperate us from those the war on terror is fighting.
While the Government hopes to kepp this on the back burner, many ought be uncomfortable with the willingness to facilitate overflight. Amnesty, HRW and many others have been talking for a while about this. Indeed Marty's investigation was well underway before our MSM picked up on it. Still Clever Trevor has aised this two or three times in leaders questions to be rebuffed with the trust we place in the word of Secretary of State Rice.
Ive been over this before, here.
3. Ivor Callely
What a pillock. Shant miss him much.
Easily one of the most intersting examinations of a sector of the blogosphere out there. If you havent a clue about which i speak, then Sineads article over at Sigla ties the threads together for you.
The rapid morphing of the debate into a two-pronged discussion on participation and feminism proved intriguing. My own response inspired by FI here is that modern feminism is a very different creature to classical feminism. Contingency has played its role in bringing many different elements to the fore unforseen at the inception of the struggle for equality.
To my mind the feminist challenge to come is the resolution of the dichotmoy of career-v-children. Its but one facet of a topic ive only happened across tangentially in studies etc. Still if you have a spare hour follow the threads from Sinead at sigla onwards. Its great stuff.
1 Irish Ferries/Strike
Well, its been suitably polarised over the last few weeks to make two nice cosy boxes into which to fit. It has really been a lively debate. just look at the comments over at backseatdrivers.
Still it seems that many will oppose the Irish Ferries behaviour for a combination of principle and disgust at the manner in which they carreid out their business.
It has made for some very intersting questions on the irish economy. Personally i have little or no doubt that these men would be fortunate enough to find alternative employment today.
Who knows how long this will last for? The point that most reasonable thinkers, in my opinion, point to is that this economy has a minimum wage. Companies operating here cannot be facilitated in hollowing out that base.
There you go. Over the next week or so, i hope to change the tone and further upgrade the look of the site. Posting will be intermittent. I also want to infuse more of my other interests into the blog. So there will be some new stuff, some same stuff hopefully you will be so kind as to give feedback-you can now email your feedback if you wish. DOnt forget to remove the REMOVE from the address.
Categories: Blogging, Comment, Politics
As I suspected might happen, the shiny shimmery light in the corner became too much to bear and after two weeks of absence, leading to a clear head and light step, i return to the ball and chain. Its amazing, I think UI mentioned it a few times recently, but the blog always calls. When I think, i think in post format. It is sad.
Im sure if i lasted a few more days the cycle would be broken. So i return. I dont plan on posting regularly. I dont plan on becoming obsessive with that nifty little counter in the corner. Yet ive always been shite at plans. So enough about me, how have you all been?
Before I go any further, thanks to those who posted here.
So a return to the grind. Yet ive had far too much to drink, so i reckon itl be tomorrow before am coherent and rambling (get your head around that!).
See you then.
Just a quick return to point out one or two things to all of you.
Found this post over at mulleys blog and i think all of you with some interest should get involved.
Its an attempt to organise a site similar to the "fax your mp" one in england.
"I will create a version of the UK's excellent http://www.writetothem.com for Ireland but only if 15 other people with some programming skills and/or a presuasive telephone manner will help me get it done."
— John Handelaar
If you want to help or think you can, then do. The more the web becomes relevant to irish politics and engagement, the better.
If your interested or curious just visit this site and see whats what.
P.s. regarding full-time blogging, still not gonna be doing that. I am considering some options for the site and improving the place. Il hopefuly see you before christmas.