The real question for American militants on both sides, but mainly White : do you want to fight or not?

  The more urgent question is not what has made America become so polarised but why it hasn’t broken out into continuous ethnic violence. The sight of “America’s burning” in police and race riots and all those weird white guys armed to the teeth add up to a potent threat, if episodes like Charlottesville and the Capitol storming  are joined up into continuous action.   The  US’ s  rhetoric of law and order so stoutly  professed by Republicans  in particular will …

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What happened to the Republican Party?

In ten days’ time, despite the best efforts of the Republicans, Joe Biden will be sworn in as America’s next President, and its political system will continue to operate unimpeded – again, despite the Republicans’ best efforts.  Yes, the events of Wednesday in Washington DC were shocking, and Donald Trump has been a chief executive like no other, having, over his four years in power, plumbed the depths somewhat as to what an American president could or should be allowed …

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RTE’s celebration of John Hume feels like nostalgia for a time that has gone

RTE have just screened a documentary In the Name of Peace; John Hume in America by Maurice Fitzpatrick which the film maker has kindly drawn to my attention. Being in London I cannot access it yet nor have I read his accompanying book. But from the YouTube trail, this is a major celebration of John Hume’s life and work. Anybody who was anybody is in it, led by Clinton and Blair, although Jimmy Carter was not quite so dazzled.  As …

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Will Northern Ireland now look to the Republic for abortion rights – or Trump’s America?

On the face of it, you’d think it’s a non- question. It just couldn’t  happen in Northern Ireland where the direction of travel is surely  the other way. But in the States, Roe v Wade, the essential abortion law of the whole country, is under unprecedented attack from the conservative evangelical right, coalescing round the Trump coalition. Given the ideological split on the current Supreme Court, with five conservative justices to four liberal ones, President Donald Trump is one Supreme Court …

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Self-Determination and the Man to Blame/Credit (delete as applicable)

Exactly a century ago, an American politician, whose career seemed to epitomize the old cliche about biting off more than you can chew, had his great moment. Nine months after the declaration of war on the Central Powers, America’s president, Thomas Woodrow Wilson addressed Congress, setting out his preferred formula for an honourable peace settlement for Europe and the wider world as soon as the fighting could stop. In his 8 January 1918 speech, Wilson compared and contrasted his ideals …

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A cautious welcome for Bombardier’s apparent rescue

While  the news about Bombardier is very welcome, a note of caution is also due. Boeing is not taking it lying down. Again, though Bombardier are saying that  a new C-series production line in Alabama means  expansion of   C-series production as a whole,  there are bound to be fears  that  Bombardier/Airbus  may eventually switch some  production  to Alabama  at the expense of  Belfast if sales forecasts don’t materialise. However the Chinese are said to be interested in the project. And …

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A modest case for Donald Trump. To be the exception may not be all bad

Entirely predictably, a chorus of commentators was affronted that Donald Trump so brutally violated the convention for lofty platitudes or proclaiming change in stately code in his inaugural address.  It was so much better in the days of boomer youth. But was it?   . JFK for instance, in Ted Sorensen’s imposing words of the famous inaugural of 1961, promised that American would “ pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure …

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Fuelling ignorance – the key to success in modern politics?

We can’t say that we weren’t warned. In his 1928 book Propaganda, the pioneering Austrian-American publicist Edward Bernays unblushingly wrote: The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country. Bernays also coined the term “public relations”, and among his most lucrative coups as a publicist was his …

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Flegs and Anthems

I was interested to note the Union Flag carefully positioned immediately beside Belfast PUP Councillor Julie-Anne Corr Johnson for her interview with BBC NI’s The View recently. “On one hand they tell us the British identity of Northern Ireland citizens is under threat”, she thundered, “whilst at the same time denying British citizens like me access to British laws and British rights.” The openly lesbian Corr Johnson was objecting to the DUP campaign for a ‘religious opt-out’ to equality laws …

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Two centuries on, how Special has this Relationship been?

It must rank as one of the most spectacular early Christmas presents ever.  Exactly two hundred years ago, representatives of the British and American governments met in the Flemish city of Ghent to agree a Peace Treaty, ending the increasingly-misnamed War of 1812.  OK, it did not mean that all the fighting was yet over: the two countries’ armies would meet in one final battle in New Orleans just over two weeks later, in which the Americans comprehensively thrashed their …

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Paper trail: from Northern Ireland’s hooded men to CIA’s global torture

In August 1971 the UK authorities arrested and interned hundreds of men in Northern Ireland. Fourteen of them were selected for “special treatment” – torture in a specially-built interrogation centre at a British Army camp. The men were subjected to the soon-to-be infamous “five techniques” of hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and water – combined with brutal beatings & death threats. Allegations soon emerged of abuse. Amnesty International sent its first ever research mission …

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The New York Times hails Game of Thrones boost for Northern Ireland

Great that  the New York Times has noticed that Northern Ireland  is now suffused with a different sorts of “ intrigue sex and moody landscapes” which is drawing then in rather than keeping them away.. Chronicling a war among dynasties for an Iron Throne in the imaginary land of Westeros, the HBO fantasy series is a cult hit suffused with intrigue, sex and moody landscapes. The latter is making Northern Ireland a magnet for fans who want to visit places like …

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American dream and the slow wasting of the US’s public infrastructure…

At the Telegraph blog, Tim Stanley demonstrates (intentionally, or otherwise) the tensioned US politicians must walk between between a long term collective public interest and the needs of a private entreprise that’s brought life-changing technology to a much wider world. But in the case of the US, this is not simply a government versus private citizen tension. The US is at heart and sole a Whiggish Republic. You have to go north of the 49th parallel to encounter Tory Canada, …

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Time to end the war in Afghanistan?

Yesterday was the deadliest day so far for the United States of its 10-year war in Afghanistan, as thirty members of the American special forces were killed when the Taliban shot down a Chinook helicopter. That brings the US death toll since the start of the conflict to over 1,000. The UK has lost over 300. Afghanistan: countless thousands (ISAF / NATO hasn’t cared to count too closely). This year, the projected total cost to the US relating to Afghanistan is …

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Wikileaks reminder that Obama’s still Guantánamo gaoler-in-chief

As Ireland readies itself to welcome President Obama to these shores next month, those with an interest in upholding international law have been given reason to recall how he has failed the litmus test of Guantánamo. While the President appears to have forgotten his January 2010 promise to close the internment camp within a year, a new batch of leaked government documents provides a reminder of just how iniquitous the US experiment in unlawful detention has proven. The new document …

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US dithering over Libya suggests the moment of overstretch has arrived

Just to lift sights out of the island for a bit, a pre-Paddy’s Day reflection on America that has nothing to do with Ireland. This it will be noted, is in accord with Ireland’s new found modesty about its own importance across the pond. To Europeans, not to mention pro-democracy Arabs, Obama’s silence over Libya is deafening. And yet Americans seem content with that, relieved perhaps that coverage of  Gadaffi’s threatened roll-over of the Libyan revolution has been virtually wiped out …

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