US Presidential Election: “the process is the ultimate deceit. And the ultimate distraction.”

Something for Mick’s late night panel to consider, perhaps…  The Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, had a reasonably successful convention in Tampa by most accounts, and has followed up by stealing a march on the current president.  But I’d tend to agree with most of Glenn Greenwald’s take on the US presidential election process.  [If not the sub-editor’s? – Ed]  Indeed.  From Glenn Greenwald’s Comment is Free post But mocking CNN is to pick low-hanging fruit. The real issue is … Read more

Late night panel: US Election and what matters on Main Street?

Gore Vidal once famously noted of American politics, “there is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.” An exaggeration, of course. But it is not always obvious to those of us who live far beyond the watery borders of the American Republic exactly what ‘animal spirits’ have the capacity to move votes in the world’s most powerful democracy. What we do know is that many of the … Read more

#DigitalLunch: Future of Education Live at 1pm…

Our digital lunch on the future of Education today is the first of two live panels today. It will start at about 1pm. You can also watch on this page and pose and vote on questions for the panel as we go along… I missed these last week due to a technical problem, but they really do help us get do to some good material… For you night owls we shall be hosting a conversation with panelists from across the … Read more

“Thrust is engaged, and we are now climbing away from Vesta atop a blue-green pillar of xenon ions”

Having arrived at the 530km-wide giant asteroid Vesta in July 2011, in May this year Nasa’s Dawn Mission scientists published some of their findings.  Now Dawn’s ready to head out on the next leg of its journey – Destination [the even larger protoplanet (dwarf planet)] Ceres, ETA 2015. From the JPL press release “Thrust is engaged, and we are now climbing away from Vesta atop a blue-green pillar of xenon ions,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, … Read more

“It’s up to the prosecution to make the case why it should no longer exist.”

The BBC have an interesting update on the reporting restrictions, specifically court orders prohibiting the media from reporting either the identities or addresses of the defendants, in the case of “three men and two women – some of them senior republicans – who are accused of PIRA activity”.  From the BBC report All five are charged with belonging to a proscribed organisation on dates stretching back to 1999. Four of them are accused of arranging, addressing or assisting in the management … Read more

Church Leaders Call Royal Black Behaviour ‘Un-Christian’: Is Parading a ‘Right’ for Christians?

With Unionist politicians lining up to criticise the Parades Commission and defend the Royal Black Institution parade in Belfast this past weekend, the Presbyterian Moderator (Roy Patton) and Anglican Archbishop of Armagh (Alan Harper) have called the conduct of those who took part ‘un-Christian.’ In an interview last night on UTV, Patton said: I think any right thinking person would consider that what we viewed is not in keeping with Christian profession. When asked directly if he thought that the … Read more

#DigitalLunch 7: The Future of Education?

Okay, so seven weeks since our first experimental steps on Google Plus (you can find all previous #DigitalLunch programmes here) and we’ve had an interesting journey through the summer… Tomorrow, it’s all about the challenges and opportunities of education in a digital age.. By that, I mean how is the net affecting the way education is done (and I’m not taking about the increasingly sterile forty year old ruck about selection, under-performing secondaries or Hogwartian indulgence over the excellence of … Read more

“This is an area on Mount Sharp where Curiosity will go”

More wondrous images from Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, now safely on the Martian surface in Gale Crater.  And it’s only warming up its instruments.  Here’s a panaroma of the landing site and the prime mission target, Mount Sharp. Focusing in on Mount Sharp… [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS] But the images that have attracted attention are from the telephoto lens [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS] As the Nasa press release notes The telephoto images beamed back to Earth show a … Read more

Signs of a ceasefire in the ‘Culture War’?

Tuairisc le Méabh Ní Thuathaláin LABHAIR Ardmhéara Bhéal Feirste, An Bardasach Gavin Robinson ón DUP, amach go poiblí ar son na Gaeilge ag seoladh leabhráin, Logainmneacha Bhéal Feirste, ar na mallaibh. B’ócáid thar a bheith suimiúil í, dar le hAodán Mac Póilin, fear a raibh baint aige le gluaiseacht na Gaeilge i mBéal Feirste le fada agus a oibríonn le hIontaobhas Ultach, foilsitheoir an leabhráin. “Ní bhfuair mé duine ar bith ón DUP ariamh ag moladh na Gaeilge go dtí … Read more

Dungiven parade: Republicanism on display or a mere base sectarian reflex?

I picked this up from Gerry Lynch on Facebook just now. It won’t come as any surprise to the practicing Anglicans of Dungiven to find themselves regaled with loud Republican music whilst at worship Their church has been marked out for all manner of special treatment over the years, not least the careful siting of a hunger strike just outside the local church ground… Chris has raised important questions about the attitude of the DUP leadership in relation to parades … Read more

The Bible, Gay Marriage and the Disaster on Donegall Street

According to the Royal Black Institution’s website, it is a thoroughly Scriptural organisation. The first point of its Mission Statement is to “Study Holy Scripture in order to understand the Christian faith”. The same website states that “its foundations [are] based firmly on scriptural truths and the propagation of the Christian Reformed Faith”. Speaking at an entirely peaceful and orderly RBI demonstration in Plumbridge, the Sovereign Grand Master of the Black, Millar Farr, invoked Scripture as the basis for his … Read more

DUP proposal to grant freedom of Lisburn to the Orange Order

At tonight’s monthly meeting of Lisburn City Council, Alderman Givan (DUP) proposed that the contribution of the Orange Order throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland be recognised by conveying the Freedom of Lisburn on the organisation. [I recorded a quick interview with Paul Givan after the council meeting ended.] The freedom of the city is usually only given once per council term. Blind water skier Janet Gray, cardiologist Frank Pantridge (who pioneered the portable defibrillator), Olympic gold medallist … Read more

Has Slugger O’Toole ever changed your mind?

How can you test your open-mindedness? A common theme characterizing responses to Turgon’s interesting question on how we might respond to monstrous and dangerous beliefs and believers like Anders Breivik got me thinking about this. Several commentors focused on Breivik’s ideas and how these might be challenged and exposed as weak. This focus assumes that the challenge with limiting the potency of extreme ideologies is essentially an intellectual one: Extreme actions are rooted in extreme beliefs; ergo, we should engage and expose (or isolate) dangerous ideas. The problem with this approach is its … Read more

Lord Maginnis resigns from UUP after failing to secure Mike Nesbitt’s resignation as party leader

UUP gavel

The News Letter’s Sam McBride has neatly [Ed – and quickly] summed up the state of the failing failed relationship between Lord Maginnis and Mike Nesbitt. A set of email exchanges outline Maginnis’ demands for action following his perceived humiliation, and Nesbitt’s offer (early this morning) to hastily restore the whip to prevent Maginnis’ resignation statement this afternoon. One email sent by Lord Maginnis to Mr Nesbitt on 17 August after a meeting between the two men said: I, having … Read more

“I think that Northern Ireland needs great cultural events for an international audience”

The Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival makes the pages of the New York Times.  From the New York Times article The Happy Days festival has a budget of £300,000 (about $474,400), of which the greatest part comes from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, with smaller contributions from London 2012 and the local Enniskillen council. “On the one hand, it’s a very tight budget for the diversity and scale of the program,” Mr. … Read more

Anders Behring Breivik: murderer, fascist; and object of derision?

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik was found guilty (and sane) last week. There is an excellent article on Breivik and his ultra right ideology by Matthew Feldman on the BBC website. Feldman (a Reader in History at Teeside University) is an expert on fascist ideology and the far right. Feldman notes the “Lone Wolf” nature of Breivik’s murders: First dubbed “leaderless resistance” by a radical right ideologue in 1982, the “lone wolf” tactic has remained a signature of far-right … Read more

Bishop challenges PSNI over failure to enforce lawful restrictions

It is hard to argue with Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, when he expresses surprise and concern regarding the PSNI’s refusal to act to enforce the lawful restrictions placed upon Saturday’s loyalist parade, not least since every year on the 12th July the same PSNI enforces Parades Commission determinations in spite of being conscious of the fact that violence may result. Indeed, the Irish News editorial this morning, entitled ‘Police should enforce rulings,’ echoes the Bishop’s sentiments, concluding that “it would … Read more

Fighting Irish Dublin bound as The Gathering delivers dollars for southern economy

 This Saturday (2nd September) heralds the beginning of the latest campaign by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team to bring a National Championship back to the success-starved South Bend, Indiana home of the team that can legitimately claim to be the most supported collegiate sporting outfit in the US (and, for that matter, probably the world as collegiate sport has a unique place in American society.) This season opener is special as the game will be played at the … Read more

Ulster farmers and the strange silence of our once fearless and bellicose politicians…

The following is an article from the Irish News, which is reproduced here in its entirety with the paper’s permission… It provides an important insight on the little publicly remarked upon influence of the farming lobby in Northern Ireland. By John Manley A NATIONALIST politician for whom I have some uncharacteristic regard recently confessed to me that there were three sets of people and institutions he would never publicly criticise – the Catholic Church, the GAA and farmers. As he’s … Read more

“the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink”

Private family man, engineer, US Navy fighter pilot, war veteran, civilian test pilot, astronaut, academic, businessman, reluctant hero, and the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong has died at the age of 82.  Reg Turnill, who was the BBC’s aerospace correspondent at the time of the first moon landing, gives his thoughts.  Nasa’s tribute is available here. And, via the Professor, Rand Simberg has a detailed biography that’s worth a read. For the 40th Anniversary of the launch of … Read more