Know Your Battleground States 3/9: North Carolina

North Carolina’s most important moment in world history was back in 1903 when the Wright Brothers achieved the first ever controlled, powered, flight by a heavier-than-air vehicle out on the strange barrier reef of islands known as the Outer Banks. The Tarheel State’s fascination with technology and transport continues to this day, in the world class universities of the Research Triangle and the NASCAR race tracks at Charlotte and Rockingham. North Carolina is an incredibly complex state. In the remoter … Read more

Rangers’ Downfall and long tail journalism…

I’m always wary of any maximalist claims about big (or in the jargon, wicked) problems. One is that the internet spells the end of newspapers. The smarter operators are using the advantage of their smaller size and diversifying (BMG for instance is making TV for TG4 these days). But there’s a few awkward and difficult fact surrounding the silence in the Scottish Press about Phil Mac Giolla Bhain’s account of the virtual disappearance of Rangers Football Club. Here’s an interesting, … Read more

An Incredible Achievement for Teacher Education

As a rule I try to avoid using this column as a way to blow the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ trumpet. But given the Irish and Northern Irish media’s almost total lack of interest in things cross-border, I sometimes can’t resist the temptation to tell a particular success story that the Centre is involved with. One of these is the rather clumsily titled Standing Conference on Teacher Education North and South, or SCoTENS as it is more commonly known. … Read more

Gaelscéal : Gaeldom heads for Letterkenny as Oireachtas na Samhna 2012 comes to town

Otv/Gaelscéal i láthair ag an Oireachtas Beidh físeáin ag dul in airde ar an chainéal teilifíse ar líne, Otv Gaelscéal (Oireachtas tv), agus scéalta uile Oireachtas na Samhna 2012 á léiriú inniu go ceann seachtaine. Déanfaidh Otv, i gcomhpháirtíocht le Gaelscéal, tuairisciú ar scéalta le linn fhéile an Oireachtais agus rachaidh físeáin in airde gach tráthnóna ar an suíomh. Beidh scagadh ar na himeachtaí agus buailfidh foireann Otv leo siúd a bheidh ag freastal ar an fhéile, leis na hiomaitheoirí … Read more

Know Your Battleground States 2/9: Nevada

Some American states are little known and less understood outside the country (think Nebraska). Some are iconic. Nevada is sort of iconic. The state’s reputation is largely driven by that bizarre shrine to gambling, money and decadence in the desert, Las Vegas. So are its elections. Just over two thirds of votes cast in the last presidential election were cast in Clark County, which covers Las Vegas and its satellite towns, such as gritty North Las Vegas, famously if unfairly … Read more

StoneWall: Playing the man rather than the ball?

I have to say that for a while back in the day, I had to ban three words on Slugger. They were in order of their frequency: bigot; vermin; and scum. They are not banned now. Things have settled in Northern Ireland to the extent that old enemies now make dull policy together on the height of neighbour’s hedges. With exception of the marching season in the summer many political passions have abated. I banned them for the simple reason … Read more

#DigitalLunch: Barriers to Social Innovation…

Today’s #DigitalLunch asks what are the barriers to innovation? Not just in Northern Ireland, but generically. We go live at 1pm, with a rolling panel to discuss not just what the barriers but also how they may be got around. As ever, we’re looking for your questions for the panel to chew over. We already have a couple over at the associated Google Moderator page: “How can the personal risk that social entrepreneurs take be reduced? We need to eat … Read more

[Amended] Happy Birthday News Letter (the oldest regular English language newspaper in the world)…

In about half an hour, there’s an unveiling of a plaque to one of the least remarked upon artefacts of Irish history: the founding of the News Letter 275 years ago Francis Joy. Ben lowry of the paper notes this morning: Early News Letters are among the most important historical documents in Britain or Ireland (50 years before The Times), although most of the first 13 years is missing. There is, though, a fascinating intact six month stretch in 1739 … Read more

“When an elected official is less able to act on the public will the motivation for the public to vote declines.”

Interesting from Jeffrey Donaldson in which he cuts to the real existential problem for all politicians in Northern Ireland: Despite the cuts handed down by the Tory government, we prioritised action that will deliver real change on the ground. We have just launched a £27m package of special initiatives to tackle the deep-seated problems in working class areas such as literacy and numeracy. We created £80m Social Investment Fund which prioritised action on the ground for working class communities. We … Read more

Hurricane Sandy LIVE: “This really will be life threatening along the Jersey shore…”

When they get weather in the US, they really do get weather. Today and tomorrow much of the west erm, east coast (thanks Ruarai) is locked down. There’s a serious flood warning until 3pm EST tomorrow. If you are in the US, you may want to follow this live channel on YouTube. It’s also worth sharing this from this Facebook page: And since we’re so often on the subject of social innovation, here’s a crisis map from the Google blog… … Read more

Sinn Fein and the permanent process

Declan Kearney has been at it again, this time in Westminster. Alex Kane is out quickly in the News Letter today, rounding on Kearney: “Here’s my other difficulty with Sinn Fein’s reconciliation project: described by Mr Kearney as “calling for an all-inclusive national discussion on reconciliation leading to the development of a national reconciliation strategy”. By ‘national reconciliation’ Sinn Fein means a united Ireland. Fine and dandy – that remains their end goal. But it is not the end goal … Read more

Lessons in Social Innovation and what it actually means…

So after two great online conversations on Social Innovation with the Building Change Trust we’ve had some useful insights into what social innovation might or could look like. In the first session Michael Kelly from Grow It Yourself Ireland (GIY, Ireland) noted that their network had grown to cover the whole island in just three years, partly by pushing decision making out into the network rather than keeping it at the centre. Stuart Bailie drew on Terri Hooley’s upstart impressario … Read more

Roddy Doyle’s Two Pints: An epic tale of modern Ireland in less than 90 pages..

Less than 90 pages long, Roddy Doyle’s latest book sounds like a must have… I must admit I have never heard three reviewers so obviously break down in laughter over just one book as on Saturday Review (12.02 in) this weekend. This extract from the Irish Times Review section is all I have to say on the matter, till I have a copy in my hand: – Have yeh made your mind up yet? – A pint – same as … Read more

The sad tale of tolerating torture that hangs over us today

Ian Cobain a  senior reporter on the Guardian is on Radio 4’s Start the Week ( listen on  BBCiPlayer or RadioPlayer after 10 a.m. or the repeat at 2100 live tonight).  I strongly recommend a listen. The author of Cruel Britannia: a secret history of British torture, he gives a calm and convincing account of how torture techniques were introduced in the colonies after WW2 and applied at the beginning of internment in Northern Ireland in 1971. . Cobain is … Read more

Bangor born David Montgomery plans return to regional newspapers

 Sky News’ City Editor has “ an exclusive” which on the face of it promises new investment in hard pressed regional papers under Bangor boy and staunch Unionist David Montgomery.   Iliffe News & Media, owner of the Cambridge News and Hertfordshire Mercury, and Northcliffe Media, the regionals arm of Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT), are in advanced talks to pool their assets into a new vehicle spearheaded by David Montgomery, the former editor of the News Of The World … Read more

Northern powersharing is faring better than the southern version, says Emerson. Can this be right?

In the Sunday Times,(£) Newton Emerson, apparently unabashed at being dropped by the BBC,  strikes a counterintuitive note by offering a few words of  support to the powersharing Executive at the expense of that other coalition in Dublin. Ignoring the recent Kearney-Robinson dingdong, he bounces his critique off Micheal Martin’s Bodenstown speech deploring the southern coalition’s failure to pay enough attention to the North, and turns it on its head. Stormont is appallingly slow at making decisions, not just on the … Read more

Two Es in Green – Education and Economy – and a pot-shot at Minister Poots

Today’s Green Party NI conference at Stranmillis College was dominated by education and the economy rather than environmental matters. Party leader Steven Agnew reckoned that the party’s policies on environmental matters were well established. In a series of motions during the morning private session, party delegates voted in favour of motions that called for “a single, publicly funded, secular education system”, supported “a system of secondary education based on community centre campuses” (as opposed to the use of academic selection) … Read more

#USElections: Will it all come down to one Romney OpEd back in 2008?

If you didn’t get to see our US Politics panel that’s been bumping along in the background for six or seven weeks, last night’s is well worth the watch. See also: – Dante Scala on just how knife edge the race is in New Hampshire. – Nick Cull talks about how despite the tightness of the race, the betting money is going Obama’s way… – How the new modeling combining poll ratings with other economic factors has begun to replace … Read more

UK City of Culture launched with confidence and flair

    Aside from our own unique brand of cynicism, there is bound to be angst on a smaller scale to that which foreshadowed the London 2012 Olympics. For Derry, the word “transformational “ is already familiar and will soon be overworked.  But transformed  already is what will become the main events venue, the old Ebrington Barracks ( see above, the arena depicted  is pending). This is now  linked to the old city via the Peace Bridge, for which the word “iconic” however also overworked, seems … Read more