Monday, December 29, 2008

Something changed?

After years of running a servile foreign policy, two recent ministerial statements lend some hope that Ireland is growing some again.

Yesterday saw a welcome strong statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin on the Israeli slaughter in Gaza and today I read that Mickey Mac is off to Cuba.

What has brought on this new found independence is unclear. Whether the recent change in the top Civil Service post in DFA is anything to do with it I don't know.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Operation Over the Top

Its the sense of deja vu that so dispiriting. Israel/Hamas or Hamas/Israel exchange fire until, predictably, Israel unleashes an utterly over the top military attack to a political problem.

After two days of bombing Israel has killed over 300 people, ripped apart a fragile infrastructure, made thousands homeless and caused the injury or hundreds more.

An attack that is completely counter productive and will do nothing to achieve the goal that Israel claims it wants.

I don't think anyone would argue with what Israel won't secure with their bombing of Gaza.

1. It will not bring an end to the rocket attacks launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on its territory.

2. It will not undermine the support base of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

3. It will not gain them any new support from the international community.

So why proceed?

Well what the bombing might achieve is the election of current foreign minister Tzipi Livni in her February showdown with opposition leader, and even bigger asshole, Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a sense the very weakness of the peace process in the Middle East is the immaturity of the Israeli electorate. An electorate who continually elect "hardline" leaders whose very actions only ensure that peace in Israel is impossible.

At this stage and having met and talked to political people on both sides of the conflict I have to say that I don't believe that deep down the Israeli state is ready for peace with the Palestinians. The state of Israel is greatly reinforced by having a weak bogeyman at its side. The Hamas attacks are no more than an irritant to the state, yet the Israelis are able to portray them domestically, and to a much lesser extent abroad, as an existential threat, which is nonsense.

Until such a time that Israel converts its current arrogance into a self-confidence it will remain at war. It is not a David, 50 years after its birth it has become the dominant super power of the Middle East and mediterranean.

It will take an ex-military strongman to lead the Israelis out of the political cesspool they are in, its just not clear if one will emerge soon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

UK of GB and Irl?

Sometimes I think that there is as much likelihood of Ireland being united as Ireland joining in a political union with Britain. That thought grounded with the trend of nativist shame in relation to our own history.

The last few days have seen, with the exception of Tom Mc Gurk in the Sunday Businees Post, a cluster of fawning obituries to Ireland's most intellectually corrupt politican, Conor Cruise O' Brien. A man whose acts were so singularly treasonous that in many other countries he would have served time.

Then today I get an email from Dublin's Lord Mayor , a pointless and pompous office as it now stands, but more of that at another time.

The mail was a press release entitled New Year Message. Nothing very interesting; noted that Dublin's great, the Garda, Civil Defence and Fireservice are doing a good job, that homelessness is bad and next year looks grim.

The wording that caught my eye was this;

We are certainly living in an unprecedented economic period but in its time Dublin has survived famine and rebellion.

Heh? "survived rebellion"?

Now this might seem pedantic but the wording here implies that Dublin's rebellions were something negative, some black spot on our history, some event of which we were helpless passive victims of.

History is constructed on myths, I accept this, but equally acknowledge the importance of these myths in helping form identity and loyalty.

Surely the most appropiate, and accurate, wording that could have been used was to say that Dublin had survived "colonisation", "invasion" or "attack".

I fired off a quick mail to the Lord Mayor on this, I will post an update.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

If thats the best you have....

More grimness reported in the sundays - it appears that Dell are about to fire 2,000 of their Limerick staff. Whats most shocking about this is that Ireland´s worst minister, the sociopath and liar, Willie O´Dea was dispatched off to meet with the boss of Dell to make the case for retaining the current workforce.

Now seriously if you were the CEO of a fortune 500 company and Willie O´Dea was sent as some sort of ambassador would you be impressed?

Willie O´Dea has left his mark in Irish politics in that he has managed to record a montrous personal vote yet conversally he has managed to achieve absolutely nothing of note either nationally or locally.

After he is retired mathematicians will try to devise formuale to explain the imbalance between his support and his effectiveness.

O´Dea personifies the fatal flaw in our PR-STV electoral system.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The lying liars are lying again

The latest of the banking 'indiscretions' exemplifies the complete lack of progress that Ireland thinks it achieved towards creating a meritocracy.

Last night the Chairman of Anglo-Irish bank, Seán Fitzpatrick, resigned. His resignation prompted by the reality that a story was about to leak about an eight year long sleight of hand he had been playing with a huge loan he took out from the bank during his tenure as CEO and then Chairman.

Now lets go back a little - to September 2008 - at the end of that month the stock price of Anglo Irish was hurtling down. The bank bailout/guarantee was triggered by the fear that Anglo Irish wouldn't last a few more hours trading. The Bank share price is now some 98% less than its peak 16 months ago and its worth only about €200 million. This figure puts into scale the size of Fitzpatrick's €87 million loan.

Whats so revealing about this story is the scale and extent of the deception. To ensure that the loan did not make it into the Anglo Irish's annual accounts, Fitzpatrick had to transfer the loan into Irish Nationwide. So the following people must have known about this huge loan;

Board of Anglo Irish Bank.
Loan Committee of Anglo Irish Bank
Audit Committee of Anglo Irish Bank
Anglo Irish Banks Auditors
Ernest and Young, the Banks Auditors
Irish Nationwide CEO
Irish Nationwide Board
and so on...

The point is that possibly hundreds of people, mostly based in Dublin, were complicit or at the least knew that the head of one of big four banks in Ireland was involved in deceiving the shareholders.

And all stayed schtumm.

I believe that Ireland operates, by and large, through a series of social platforms, the platform you occupy determined by; where you grew up, who your father is and what school you went to. Our society appears to me to be still largely tribal based. Irrespective of the rights and wrong of the tribes behaviour the rules dictate that your loyalty, co-operation and complicity is the only qualification demanded. By playing ball, rewards will be conferred on you.

Our political system is littered with examples of this.

Anglo Irish has only days left to live - its seems quite absurd that the guarantee introduced in September, primarily due to the performance of Anglo Irish, is likely to be called upon because of the indecent behaviour of those on the very top of the Irish financial community.

It appears nothing much has really changed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I received notification of this seminar a couple of weeks back;


IIIS SEMINAR ROOM, 6TH FLOOR, ARTS BUILDING, TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN

Olakunle Animashaun, Camino De Orula Productions

Making manifest the 'Spectagonist' and the Metatheatre in Athol Fugard's 'Sizwe Bansi is Dead'


I mean what chance is there of me going to this - I can't even understand the title.

One of the lads in the office reckons its an anagram.

Academia - don't you just love it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ok hands up, I have been a bad blogger, with almost three weeks since my last post. In defence I was up to my proveriables.

The sense of impending economic doom has meant I keep agreeing to take on more work - on the theory that next year I will be standing at the local junction with one of these signs.

We are now in end of year wrapup time - so posting will resume from today on a much more regular basis.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Its worth it.

Online polls although completely unreliable and open to loading, remember the BBCs poll for the greatest ever song, are a low cost online tool to garner buy in from the targeted clients and customers. Also they can be used as a cheap research crutch to support some man in the pub position. They can also be used as Mick on Slugger points out to encourage public opinion in a given direction.

Clear? Well now be a good citizen and express your position on Lisburn City Councils plan for a new retail development. There is an online poll you can vote on.

www.lisburncity.gov.uk/sprucefield-development-poll

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Good and bad news

While its nice that an African-American man can get elected to the White House, I'm still skeptical on Obama "changes". His monstrous u-turns on, for example Palestine, lends me to suspect he may be just another politician. I hope to be proved wrong.

What got me passionate about this election and pro-Obama was the clown that was running as VP on the republican ticket, Sarah Palin. Thankfully the wisdom of American voters mean she won't get within sniping distance of the Oval Office.

As for her being a 2012 candidate - no hope. Her only positive attribute, her looks, are the one asset that will wither with experience. Palin will be no more than a quirky footnote in American history in four years.

On a sadder note, proposition R, the renaming of the San Francisco Water Treatment Centre, which we reported in June, to the George W Bush Sewage Works was defeated. San Franers are speculating that nobody in the city was keen on anything being named after a man whom they have made their feelings on clear in successive elections

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Car buying

A couple of months back I totalled my car and since then I have been looking for the bargain of a century to replace the crappy runaround I bought after my crash.

Last week I thought I found it, a reliable good looking car, diesel, low mileage and all for less than €5k. Happy days.

Oddly though its an email only contact...a little wary I send off a short mail saying "saw the ad, I would like to see the car"... the plan being to ask a mechanic friend of mine to check it out.

Anyway earlier today I get a response to my mail from a man called Lucas Miller who tells me

"The car is located in Liverpool/United Kingdom. Now i am located in Germany with my bussines and i have nobody in Liverpool that could show you the car.I need to come personal to meet you and present the car.

Fee days ago a buyer told me that he'll buy the car, so we must meet in Liverpool.I came to United Kingdom because I trusted his word,but when I arrived I called him and no answer, so I lost money and precious time on his promise.I don't want to ask you to send me any money in advance, I just want to see that you are a serious buyer. If you don't want to buy it after you will inspect it, no problem, but I need to be sure that you will be there."


and Lucas goes on to outline his proposal so that he knows I am serious;

"1. The service name that we'll use is Money Gram transfers.You will find Money Gram agency at all the Post Office in your city and you will go there with your best friend or your wife. Your wife or your friend (relative) will be the sender of the money and you will be the receiver in Liverpool.

2.Ask your wife or your friend to send € 4,200 eur by Money Gram to your name in Liverpool.Is enough for me too see that I have a interested buyer. (I will pay the Money Gram fees when we will meet)

3. Only you can pick up the money from Liverpool, so this is no risk on your side.

4. Once the money is sent,you will have to email me or fax me Money Gram papers.

5. In the same day I will buy the flight ticket and I will email you the scanned ticket.(We will verify the car with a mechanical service and at police to. I also accept any test)

6. We will meet in Liverpool and we will finish the deal. I will help you to make all papers.If you don't want to buy the car I will pay for your transport. I assure you that you will love this car and you will buy it. It is in perfect conditions."


So I think its clear where Lucas wants this to go namely him being €4,200 wealthier and me still in my bashed up runaround.

I was just about to delete the mail when instead I was inspired to hit reply. I drafted a expletive heavy reply pointing out his grammatical errors but realised that was a waste of time so instead I rewrote and sent the following.

Lucas, that's really interesting as I will be in Tranmere town next Monday and my flight back to Dublin is late.

What would be best for both of us is if I can have a look at the car to help make me an informed decision. I will pop down to your mechanic and have a quick look and I'll get back to you then. In this way we don't have to go to all that trouble with Moneygram and Flight tickets and the rest!

How does that sound to you?

Regards,

Killian


Might be funny to see how this evolves.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Collapse?


A graph of Fianna Fail polled support will soon resemble the ISEQ. An appropriate reflection considering their role in designing our economic collapse.

The October RedC/Sunday Business Post Poll is out.

RTE, Politics.ie, Dan Sullivan, Cian on Irishelection.com all cover it.

In one way this is huge news, FF falling behind FG in a poll hasn't occured for 25 years, but in otherways its irrelevant; as Cian notes "The problem, as ever, will be to keep those voters who are angry now, away from FF on election day".

As for us Shinners, an upward trend is always nice, but....1% rise in a time like this is not promising. Matters are exactly helped by a complete lack of media coverage of out statements, positions and policies.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bertostalgia


The part of the political process I find so fascinating is how public opinion is shaped.

You can buy books on the subject, study it, marketeers and brand managers dream of unlocking its secret and billions is spent by corporations and political parties trying to subtly and not so subtly influence the opinion of citizens.

At the moment there is an important battle being waged between the Government and Opposition in relation to the economic condition the country finds itself in. Fianna Fail's preferred narrative is that the budgetary crisis we find ourselves in is unfortunate but reflects nothing more than being caught in a global shitstorm. Sinn Fein, Labour and Fine Gael insist that the recession has been caused by Fianna Fail, specifically accusing them off reckless spending, unnecessary tax cuts for the wealthy and the "buying" of elections in 2002 and 2007.

By and large these two conflicting interpretations are the only ones that have been debated in the papers and on the airwaves over the past couple of weeks.

So how does one explain the growing alternative interpretation emerging, which simply goes like this.

Agh Bertie wouldn't have ever let this happen.

I first heard this on Monday during a canvas in Edenmore, Raheny from a pensioner and a long term supporter of Fianna Fail. Since then I have heard it from taxi drivers, the mothers on the school run, in the local sandwich shop, yet nothing on the mainstream media.

Bertostalgia, the longing for the good auld days with Ahern in charge is growing and creates an interesting problem for both the Government and the oppositions parties.

The Government can slope there shoulders in a "ah shucks were doing our best" and hope that the electorate has pity rather than anger on them next June. After all Offaly's greatest ever politician is clearly no match for His Bertness.

The opposition has to put up with the reserve scapegoating of a problem of which the entire government helped create and sustain over years.

Its not entire clear what the effect, particularly in Dublin, of Bertostalgia will be, but barring his return as Taoiseach it, this meme looks set to grow and then set as conventional wisdom.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The pursuit of triviality


The Dow Jones loses the gains of last week, The Nikkei is plummeting, Britain reports the highest quarterly rise in unemployment in 17 years, Ireland finally manage to beat Cyprus and the last US presidential debate is about to take place.

Yet the Sky News lead story on its website and every fifteen minute TV headline is that a middle aged past it singer and a one hit wonder director have split up.

And then we wonder why its so difficult to engage people in politics.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Political activists aren't they great

This is so far gone that you'd have to believe that he is working for the Obama camp!

Sort of reminds me of the freakology that these loo-las get up to.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Is this a pyramid imploding?


Are we looking at the wrong comparsion? The media talk over the past few weeks has been looking at the 1929 wall street crash.

But seemingly this has the potential to be a fundamental collapse of the entire financial system. The International Monetary Fund warns of a "systemic meltdown".

Given that effectively what has occurred is that the property market pyramid scheme has collapsed perhaps we need to think beyond some problems with the banks, people losing money in stocks and a slowdown - but try and imagine what a full melt down means.

For a start paper money of whatever sort loses all value. If there is a global meltdown, there will be no hard currency to revert to. We will be reduced to barter.

I was twice in countries when the local currency lost all value. In Romania in 1990, I once went to the doctor and paid her with a bottle of "western" shampoo and in Yugoslavia in the mid 1990s when the inflation rate was so high, that Marlboro and Kent cigarettes was what you bought with your dinar as a form of stable currency.

But more interesting I spent some time working in Albania following the implosion that country had when a variety of pyramid schemes collapsed. The outcome of that was economic, social and political anarchy. UN food aid was needed to keep people nourished and the Italian army and navy and the OSCE was needed to restore some semblance of security.

The question is whether the shenanigans going on in the financial industry are the start of the collapse of a global pyramid scheme and much more than a issue of confidence. If so then its difficult to see who or what will be able to come to the assistance of a USA and Europe without a reliable currency and angry citizenship.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Psycho Palin


The globes greatest potential danger, Sarah Palin, has been found guilty by lawmakers in Alaska of abusing her power in a vindictive case of familial revenge.

Great.

Whether this will make a difference to the rednecked, racist, homophobic, gun lusting, god bothering, deytukkyerrjerbs, Fox News lobotomised American "patriots" that is her support base is doubtful.

No doubt Plain and her republican party lizards will spin it as a conspiracy by the liberal media.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Black Friday??


In a few hours the the Irish Stock Market, ISEQ, will open with an index price of in the upper 2k range. For a host of reasons I think today will see the ISEQ absolutely tank. The bail out, once copied, has not added the necessary confidence. The ECB rate cut is a nice little snifter for consumers but for corporate lending adds little.

Watch movement with the big four Irish banks. The contrasting shifts in Anglo Irish and BoI shares late yesterday suggest takeover chatter has spilled into investor speculation.

What to do, well. Auditors from outside this country should be sent in to the banks to examine the loan books and try get a true values of the balance sheets in the institutions. Only then can recapitalisation occur as the companies value will be clear (or clearer anyway).

Given the failure of the regulator and the Central Bank and the general stench of cronyism that pervades Irish life an audit done by the Central Bank or Dept of Finance is not going to engender confidence that's is needed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The bail out to where?


Where is this all going. Ireland, followed by Greece and now one of the big Euro four, Germany.

Watch the Irish banking stocks tomorrow, I expect drops, as their unique competitive advantage from last tuesday disappears.

Here's whats most worrying about this; it is plainly obvious that at least one of the six guaranteed Irish institutions is a basket case - weighed down with loans tied up in deprecating property.

Its increasingly difficult to see how their collapse, or lets say, their end of being an independent company, can be avoided. The benefit of the Irish bail out was that, overnight, bogey Irish institutions became globally unique (with exception of Northern Rock).

But now that the Germans, Greeks and presumably the other Euro countries by the end of the week, are also guaranteeing deposits, their USP disappears. At this point they will be naked to the market and off we go again, collapse in share price and flight of capital irrespective of Ireland's guarantee. Remember confidence is an emotion.

I have no doubt that the end of this week will deliver a longer term indicative verdict on the Irish Banks future.

p.s. - From Finfacts.com. Worth a read.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Door..shutting..horse..after...barn etc


I must say I find this odd. In todays Irish Times, ICTU boss, David Begg has a passionate, informed and well written topical critique of the global banking system and model of capitalism. There is nothing in the article I disagree with he sums up the mud we are in.

"Let us be absolutely clear. This crisis was caused by greed and recklessness in our own country, on Wall Street, in London and in other major financial centres. Senior executives permitted speculation on a huge scale on investments they ill understood. Speculators have exacerbated the serious rises in fuel, food and raw materials.

The losers are many and include workers in the industry and, more generally, pensioners, families, firms seeking investment capital, and all of us as taxpayers now bailing out banks. It will take years to recover the money - if we manage to do so - and our future ability to fund high-quality public services is now jeopardised."


Excellent - this needs to be stated repeatedly in black and white. And Begg is a well connected and a player in power circles in this country.

But.....

He is also been a Director of the Irish Central Bank for the past thirteen years!

By no means do I think Begg is at fault for the banking crisis in Ireland but what I would like to know is what exactly he did during all those years to try and prevent the inevitable results of the greed that he writes of.

There is no point of a senior Union leader being on the Board of the Central Bank in Ireland if they are not there to keep an eye on precisely what he despairs of. He has been at the heart of the Irish Banking System, he had held this powerful position for 13 years and yet now, way too late, shouts Fire.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Windfall tax needed on banks


The people who we should seek not to reward or protect in the Irish bail out are the executive and management of the banks and developers with outstanding loans sitting on lands banks and unsold properties. Properties unsold because they won't lower the prices. A comfortable enough position they find themselves in because the banks are refusing to call in the loans.

However there is another group of people that are currently benefiting massively from the bail out.

The new shareholders of Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Bank, Anglo Irish Bank and the others. Since the furtive conclave on Monday morning of bankers and the Government that cobbled together the plan, there has been a four fold increase in the volume of these banks shares traded.

In the past three days Anglo Irish share price has more than doubled, Bank of Ireland has risen from €3.26 to nearly a fiver and Allied Irish Bank has seen a nearly 50% rise.

The "deal" that the Irish Government put together ensures, that by not taking an equity stake in the banks, that the state will not garner any of the hundreds of millions in value that the Irish taxpayers have added to the value of the banks.

Its safe to assume that some of the most recent trades are new. They bought into a risk free investment. Yet the Irish taxpayers are the ones underwriting this.

What needs to be done is the introduction of a targeted capital gains tax on bank shares to accompany the bill. As the legalisation stands the profit on any capital gains is merely 20%.

For the banks lets increase this to 50% for the lifetime of the state guarantee.

The bail out is appartenly only about liquidity. If so and also to reduce the short term speculation and bring stability to the share price lets see a chunky tax introduced that ensures the Irish state itself can directly benefit from our taxpayers insurance policy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bail out


The parliament of the most powerful country in the world, after public awareness, and a televised debate and vote say no to a €700 billion bail out. Our boyos sort out a €400 billion promissory note in the dead of the night.

Hmm...says something that.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sarah Palin vs Miss Teen South Carolina


Now this is frightening. Its becoming increasingly obvious that the VP candidate for the Republican Party, Sarah Palin, is....well there is no real polite way to say this....a total and utter moron.

Last week she did an interview on NBC in which she rambled on in the most incoherent manner. In large sections of the interview she was talking complete unconnected jibberish.

Does it matter - well yes, as Jack Cafferty of CNN notes "this woman will be one 72 year old's heartbeat away from being president of the United States"

In an earlier ABC interview with Charlie Gibson, amongst others things Palin demonstrates deer in headlights ignorance of the Bush Doctrine

Now have a look at the links above of the not improbable future President of the USA and compare her answers to Miss Teen South Carolina response under questioning and tell me who is smarter.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I've been busy!


Well it might look like I've been slacking but only on the blogging front. As a councillor I find the busiest time is September, schools are back, people back to work and I get a huge upsurge in constituency cases.

It didn't help that I went off to see Ireland play Montenegro in Podgorica. A fair 0-0 draw was the result. I think a point gained than 2 points lost, as Montenegro are a good side, growing in confidence and will take points off teams at home.

With three friends I popped over the border to Albania for a couple of days hiking in the Accursed Mountains. Fantastic. See pic.

I spoke at and attended the Electric Picnic, my debate on Friday night on Cultural Diversity in Ireland was a bit of a mess, not helped by two of my fellow panellists being a bit....well.....tired and emotional?

However the world greatest band did reform and were amazing.

Sinn Féin Donaghmede had its Local Election 09 convention on Tuesday the 23rd. I was the only person nominated so I am the candidate again. So the next nine months will be a hard slog as we try to get to all 10,000 homes in the constituency.

Also had a piece in the Irish Times on Saturday on skiing and hoping to get more writing done on snowsports over the winter.

On a wider note that US bailout will probably go ahead, I just wonder whether the nature of the public negotiations will scupper any confidence building measure in the banking sector. If it does expect big overnight gains in Irish banking stocks, which at this stage are well in the bargain basement.

Oh and I gave up smoking on Monday......grrr.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The whatever you say, say nothing, school of public relations



Well I've been back from my holidays about a week but just now getting around to the blog.

Lots of happening in the last month, Sarkozy visits Dublin, Karadzic is uncovered as a new age doctor, the DUP think that homosexuality is worse than child abuse and that creationism should be taught in state run schools, Olmert, PM of Israel, does a Bertie and the lad in charge of Mauritania is the victim of a coup d'etat.

All interesting and informative bits of news from around the globe. What then to make of the press release that appears in my inbox an hour ago.

From the Dublin City Council Press Office its opening line states;

The City Council is aware of what occurred in O’Devaney Gardens last evening

Ok, fine so far, it continues in this cryptic vein;

We have been in consultation with the Gardaí on the matter and there is ongoing co-operation between the Gardaí and Dublin City Council with regard to Estate Management issues.

The press release then contains two paragraphs on the failed Public Private Partnership that was designed to rebuild the estate and finishes with the news that;

In the meantime new additional CCTV cameras are being purchased to augment what is already in place and we will continue to co-operate fully with the Gardaí in relation to Estate Management.

In a separate press release The Mayor of Dublin also commented on whatever happened last night in O'Deveney Gardens by revealing that;

As Lord Mayor I am deeply concerned about what happened in O’Devaney Gardens last night. It was an extremely traumatic event for residents.

Despite searching on irishtimes.com and breakingnews.ie I for one am none the wiser on what did happen in O'Deveney Gardens last night. You would have to be a seasoned, vodka soaked Kremlinologist to extract any information from both press statements.

What an odd manner to carry out PR!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ireland's SFA, that's the Small Firms Association, not a brilliant Welsh band have released the secret to halting the elevator crash that is the Irish economy.


After pouring over reports from experts of taxation, fiscal decentralisation, abstinence theory and dirigisme, by talking to Marxists, Keynesists, Ricardoists, Humists, Hayekists, Malthusians, Georgists and by engaging in all night gin sessions with think tankers on normative economics and bluesky strategists they have discovered the answer.


They propose reducing the minimum wage from €8.65 per hour to €7.65 per hour.

Genius!

At least its a lot clearer now what SFA does mean for employees of these business's.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Our Knowledge Economy, 100 years ago


I happened to be in Clifden this week. With a couple of hours to kill I went for a spot of sightseeing. After pottering around the village and taking the car on the Sky Road Drive I headed back to Dublin.


Just on leaving the village there was a small sign pointing down a lane for the Alcock and Brown Landing Site. The lane turns into a eight foot wide raised unpaved trail, with rain flooded bog on either side and goes on for about 2kms. At the end of which is a large whitewashed obelisk to commemorate the flight.


Oddly this is one of two memorials to the flight, another lies on the other side of the main road. Just beside this was what looked like a council built urinal wall, but with a plaque. The plaque commemorated the 100th anniversary of the first message sent by Marconi's transatlantic station.

I was surprised, I knew about the significance of Marconi's station, but just presumed that the area would be preserved, with an interpretative centre, car park and the OPW charging an arm and a leg for access. But here it was in the middle of a desolate bog with sheep shearing pens as neighbours. It was both delightful and a little shocking that the area hadn't been manicured, pruned and plucked into a pristine tourist hoover.

From where I was standing I had a good look around and it became apparent that this had been an enormous industrial complex. There was the foundations of dozens of building over a mile radius, the remnants of a narrow gauge railway and the stumps of mast anchors. The main building 200 metres across the bog was fenced in, to control sheep, and was littered with the machinery of the wireless station. The station at its peak employed over 300 people. It was the Microsoft and Google of its day.

On the way home what had me thinking was not so much that the site was unexploited but that 100 years ago Clifden was host to two major technological developments that would transform the global economy; namely cheap realtime long distance communication and long distance air travel. Clifden, and the west of Ireland was literally one end of the bridge between two empires; one decaying and one emerging.

Yet somehow we ended up in the 1930's as an absolute economic and cultural basketcase. What should have been a dynamic, export led, knowledge based economy became a peasant holding, conservative, clergy controlled and isolationist island on the bit end of Europe. The Marconi station ceased operations in 1922 due to the war and plans for a Clifden airport are still ongoing.

There has always been assumption that our geography has cursed us. My Leaving Cert books both apologised and excused Ireland's underachievement and poverty, hinting that with no natural resources and sitting on the edge of Europe weren't we doing grand anyway. An underlying, almost chronic, shoulder shrugging is our most destructive political trait. Look at the latest reaction by the Government to the appalling shortfall in the public finances, its all "what can we do, its all bad everywhere".

But.....we had the opportunity a century ago and seemingly blew it and we have (had) an opportunity now, we can still straddle two empires, one European the other Americans and exploit the benefits and association with both. For that to happen we need more than ever to examine the madness that is our electoral system.

It needs reform so that intelligent, professional, specialists unencumbered by short term parochial issues can input to state policy. We need to dump the STV-PR system, weed out the Willie O'Dea's from cabinet and introduce a partial List System so that brains and experience not cutehoorness is what qualifies you to sit on the top table in Ireland in charge of a €60 billion budget.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Christopher Hitchens; Waterboarded

This was posted up on You Tube yesterday and is well worth watching.

It features British writer, Christopher Hitchens volunteering to be "waterboarded". The Bush admin calls these and order forms of interrogation "alternative set of procedures". Amnesty and others have claimed its torture. Hitchens had written and commented in support of enhanced interrogation.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sorry? nah!


A number of years back I was sitting in the departures lounge of Stanstead Airport for a connecting flight. Alone and with a couple of hours to kill you get to that stage where you begin to notice and filter the wallpaper and background noise of modern life.

One of the tannoy announcements I actually listened to for the first time was a non-apology apology from Ryanair.

It went something like this; "Ryanair regrets to announce the delay in flight FR123 to Dublin, this is due to the late arrival of the incoming aeroplane."

Its was a clever non-apology apology as it indicated a clear disconnect between Ryanair and the aeroplane. It was as if anxious Ryanair staff were out on the tarmac nervously looking at their watches and the distant horizon waiting for this aeroplane to appear out of the sky. It was as if there was some "Aeroplane Dispatch Centre" that had screwed up and was late in sending the plucky Ryanair costcutters their flying machine on time.

Yet the reality is that incoming aeroplane was a Ryanair flight and the reason it was late was due to the airlines scheduling turnaround policy so as to fit as many flights in given day.

Our Minister of Finance had his own Ryanair moment today when he announced the dreadful updated exchequer figures for 2008. It now is evident that Ireland inc will face a €8 billion shortfall for the year.

Aside from the predictable external factors cited by the Government (Credit Crunch, Oil Price) Minister Lenihan cited "lower than expected tax revenue receipts. This is due largely to lower growth than projected at Budget time and to a fall off in tax receipts as a result of weaker property market activity".

Fair enough Minister but who is responsible for this weakened property market?

You and your government colleagues who, in the face of repeated advice to the contrary, encouraged house prices to get out of control so to shore up support from their developer paymasters, facilitate a consumer binge from feel-wealthy home owners, fund Fianna Fáil's cyclical spending sprees around election time and egged on every last cent produced in the economy to be reinvested on the most unproductive of assets until like a black hole the thing collapsed in on itself.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Olympics to save us all, or not.

July 1st and still raining.

Has anyone else noticed how many commentators are repeating the opinion that the London Olympics are a solution to unemployed Irish/Irish based construction workers.

Last night on Questions and Answers (something needs to be done to perk that programme up) Alison O'Connor of the Sunday Business Post was at it, on Sunday, versatile blogger, Sarah Carey mentioned it in her Sunday Times column, on the Newstalk panel that morning it was offered up as a type of safety valve.
On an governmental level Minister Micheal Martin and the head of the Enterprise Ireland having been talking up the opportunities the London Olympics offer.

Given that, according to the Construction Industry Federation, there were some 282,000 in 2007 working directly in construction in Ireland, and that at most 20,000 jobs will be created in building Olympic venues that's still a big gap.

Perhaps this panacea being proffered is a case of letting them down gently.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The big R

Just about sums it up; the performance of Irish shares over the past two years on the ISEQ index.

Since the ESRI publication last week with the Celtic Tiger epithet "Thus Ireland will experience a recession for the first time since 1983" public commentary has been by and large one of gloom. The weekend papers had a fine time, with reminiscing from 40 somethings on the recession of the 1980's.

This morning the CSO confirmed that the first quarter of 2008 showed negative growth.

However not all bought into the script with some of the economists still King Canute like insisting all was well. A special mention must go to Dan Mc Laughlin of Bank of Ireland, a bullish economist who has a habit of getting ever prediction he makes wrong; he has been wrong about Irish economic growth rates, house prices, inflation and ECB interest rates. But he is not alone, with the exception of Jim Power, all the commentary and analysis from the bank employed economists over the past two years has been dishonest and self serving.

And normally that's fine, these economists know "who pays the piper plays the tune" and know that their employers need confident consumers to spend and seek loans. The problem has arisen that these economists were elevated into Oracles. RTE regularly sought out the economists to comment of the latest reports or news on the economy as if they were independent and neutral. Those who urged caution, such as George Lee or David Mc Williams were dismissed as doom merchants.

Indeed His Bertness himself claimed in 2007 that not alone was all rosy in the garden but that "sitting on the sidelines, cribbing and moaning is a lost opportunity. I don't know how people who engage in that don't commit suicide because frankly the only thing that motivates me is being able to actively change something".

Says a man who has since dumped the problem into the laps of other as he hadn't the guts to stick around.

Part of the recovery process of this country should include a in depth post-mortem to how we went from a bust to boom to bust economy. Questions that need to be addressed is why employees of the banking industry were allowed, usually unchallenged, access to the state broadcaster to decieve the Irish public on the actual trends and direction of the economy.

p.s. What is going on in Bank of Ireland - its share price just seem to be in freefall at this stage.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Next time

The Irish state lottery recorded it highest ever jackpot for the draw last night.

€19 million.

The winning numbers were 04, 12, 26, 27, 29, 37.

Mine were 02, 09, 10, 24, 42, 44.

Bollix.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Real Democracy


In the US they do direct democracy like no one else, well maybe expect the Swiss, and at a time that our own Referendum vote is being demonised by the very people who were mandated to represent it, its refreshing that anti-establishment initiatives elsewhere can be simply progressed by the electorate.


The New York Times picks up on a story on a petition that has been gathering signatures in San Francisco to rename the local water treatment centre plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.


A local group the satirically named Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco has collected nearly 9,000 signatures to successfully ensure that the proposal to rename the treatment centre is included on a City wide ballot on the same day of the USA Presidential Election in November.


A simple yes/no option will be open to all registered voters at that time.


In a city that vote 83% Democrat in 2004, I think it won't be long before the liberals, pro-choicers, gays, greens, pinkos, gun shirkers, artisans, actors, and atheists of San Francisco have the last laugh on the most awful of US presidents.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cowen's Downfall

This is priceless! Hat tip to Dan Sullivan.

video

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ah, Some Clarity

Richard Delevan has been tracking and hunting for the elusive Lisbon Poll commissioned by Eurobarometer following the Lisbon vote.

The first report of a detailed poll having been undertaken was in Tuesday's Indo. The Independent piece revealed that three quarters of No voters did so on the basis that parts of the treaty could be renegotiated. This claim is substantiated in the poll findings published today.

The same story claimed that "Immigration was an unspoken factor in the vote, as people expressed concern about the numbers of immigrants coming to the country in such a short time".
Except it wasn't.
The Eurobarometer poll noted that only 1% of those who voted No did so on the basis of fears around immigration and only 2% on concerns about the introduction of abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia.

Yet these issues have been repeated by all the politicians, Government and even EU Commissioners as an explanation of the No vote. It seems that having demonised the No campaigners before the referendum the Irish political and media is intent of demonising the No vote itself.

Some might say that just politics, but its not, the No vote was not a vote for Sinn Féin, Libertas, Patricia Mc Kenna or Joe Higgins. If our No vote is misrepresented by the Irish Government in Brussels we will end up with a rehashed Lisbon Mark II being presented back to the electorate in 2009, with some meaningless declarations about abortion and conscription.

This referendum that would end in a second defeat for the Government. That defeat would be interpreted around Europe as "we gave them what they want and they said no, what is wrong with these ungrateful anti-EU Irish".

Now that would be a scenario that would be very negative for Ireland.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Return of the Petrols

The world greatest band, scientifically proven, That Petrol Emotion, are reforming for a few shows this summer.

Their 1987 single Big Decision is often cited as the first dance/rock crossover 'hit' in Britain influencing the sound and success of the Madchester and Britpop bands. Unfortunately for the Petrols their much anticipated follow up album, recorded just as their main songwriter left the band, underwhelmed an expectant music media and fans alike.

They returned in 1990 with the my favourite Album, Chemicrazy, a 12 tracker, eleven of which are outstanding. Over the next four years I saw them at least 15 times and live they were incredible. Vocalist Steve Mack epitomised exactly what a frontman for a band should be, the only other even to approach his presence, energy and creativity was Perry Farrell.

The best gig, by a long way, I've ever been at was a eve of US tour 'secret' New Inn show in Dublin. A 200 capacity venue run in the early 90's by Smiley Bolger, it had a low ceiling, sticky carpets and warm beer - but hey, it was ours. The band that night played for two hours, the hits, album tracks, b-sides and covers.

The Petrols play a warm up show in Dundalk on the Thursday 28th August and the superb Electric Picnic (I have my brother Dec to thank for his wise and tasteful booking skills!) on the 30th.
Check their new site for updates which now includes a video of the band rehearsing the songs in London last week.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Lying Liability

I have blogged about the concerns I have in relation to the Chad EUfor mission previously.

After hearing Ireland's worst minister on Morning Ireland this today those concerns are heading to despair.

Responding to UNHCR complaints that Irish Defence Forces failed to provide protection to their staff and offices during a rebel attack on saturday Minister Willie O'Dea, a proven bullshitter wholly unsuitable as in any Ministerial post, claimed that it not their mandate to protect UN staff.

Now, O'Dea is one of those people whose belligerent assertions have an inverse relationship with the facts.

Security Council resoultion 1778 which authorised the mission has an number of points which implictly authorises UN peacekeepers to be proactive in "securing the environment" and one section which explicitly states that EU forces deployed are;

To contribute to protecting United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment and to ensuring the security and freedom of movement of its staff and United Nations and associated personnel.

Now by no means do I think it feasible for Irish peacekeepers to be able to perform miracles in the political pisspot they have found themselves in. But rather than O'Dea pointing out the very difficult situation they are in, the obvious lack of air assets and the incident based selective interpretation that is pragmatic and sensible he blames UNHCR and also lies about the mandate.

O'Dea has only two gears in his political armour one is lying the other is blaming the nearest available scapegoat.

It is plainly obvious that the Irish troops are in a very, very exposed and vulnerable position in Chad, it is more than possible that will be able to carry out their UN mission and at the same time avoid getting pulled into the civil war. For this to happen though O'Dea needs to be removed, he may be an effective political scrapper in Limerick, but in his current position the causalities of his approach will be far more serious than some ambitious FF councillor.
The Minister of Defence first and foremost should be in a safe pair of hands, I don't think even O'Dea's greatest supporters would call him that.

UPDATE: O'Dea is now claiming that the UN apologised to him for the comments made by their offical spokeperson. The Irish Times report that they are unable to confirm that any apology has taken place!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No, Nien, Non.

Oops I was wrong it was a resounding No!

53% of the electorate voted against the Lisbon Treaty.

In Dublin North East it was a 57% No vote on a similarly high turnout. I was very happy with the turnout as it was obvious that the Treaty really captured peoples attention.

I did the tallies for the area.
It was apparent from about a half hour after the first boxes were opened that the Yes side was in trouble. The boxes from Donaghmede were recording a 2:1 vote against the treaty. Raheny boxes were about 5:4 against and the Bayside boxes were 3:2 against. The only parish that returned a solid Yes vote were those boxes from Burrow Road (Sutton). At the other end of the constituency and economic bracket and my party colleague Larry O'Toole's stronghold, Darndale had one box that was over 90% No.

Interestingly Dublin North East was the only DARTland area that recorded a No vote.

What happens next?

Tomorrow we will be presenting our alternative and the changes necessary in a new treaty.
The proposal will map out how to proceed with a new EU Treaty, but one that defines a limit to the EU's creeping powers, protects Irish, and other small states interests, and promotes a more social Europe.

As for the Government, they need to ensure that they hold firm and inform our European Partners that Irish people are uneasy about the extent of EU political power, concerns on neutrality and workers rights and worries on our place in the future of the EU.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just waiting now

So after almost six months involved in the Lisbon Treaty campaign for SF its finally over.

I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout, RTE are calculating (as of Thursday evening) a 43% national turnout).
From what we can tell in Dublin North East we think the figure will be about 51 - 53%. That ranges from the low 40's in the Darndale polling station to the high 60's in Sutton Polling Station.

Kilbarrack and Donaghmede were both busy with Turnouts in the region of 50 - 55%.

And my national prediction?

I really have no clue.

Anecdotaly its a 70% NO, but clearly that reflects more on my own professional, political and social circles than anything else.

All day voters in and around my electoral area unprompted told me they were or had voted No. Again that's meaningless as I can't see why a constituent would be so keen to tell me they voted in a different way than we had been advocating.

Looking at the turnout figures also heartens me, the working class areas engaged and voted on this and so should be good....but this referendum clearly had massive class, income, age and gender cross over that makes presumptions on the result foolish. Also as this post points out on politics.ie, there has been assumptions made on turnout benefiting one particular viewpoint that simply don't add up to a hill of beans.

I am off to witness and tally some of local boxes count for Dublin City tomorrow morning and I expect that by 1o.30 am we will know how Dublin North East voted.

As an indicator DNE voted;

56% against Nice 1 on a 40% turnout.

60% for Nice 11 on a 60% turnout.

Getting partly off the fence, I forecast that DNE will be....

55% against Lisbon.

And nationally I think it may just sneak over the line. The lower turnout in the country I think reflects indicative NO supporters loyal to one of the three major parties who decided in the end to opt out rather than voting against the Lisbon Treaty.

As a campaign I enjoyed it and learnt a hell of amount.
More tomorrow.

Friday, May 30, 2008

PC Gone Mad!


Part of the perverse logic of the far right and some self proclaimed libertarians is that the liberal left are intolerant and undemocratic.

They have popularised the phrase Political Correctness Gone Mad to such an extent that it has become a cliché.

Yet in another demonstration of the right's true roots, and its power, it was announced that Dunkin Donuts have pulled a on-line ad which featured a celeb TV chef wearing the keffiyeh, more popularly known as the PLO scarf.

It seems that D.D. were running scared after some of the more nasty, small minded wingnuts in the US started to express outrage over this satorial expression.

Along with the shoefaced Carol Coulter, Hysteric in Chief Michelle Malkin was upset. Claiming that the scarf "symbolized murderous Palestinian jihad".

One would have to wonder then what would Malkin and co would make of the tie, or fedora.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brian Keenan


Saddened to hear that life long Republican Brian Keenan died this morning after a long battle with cancer.
One of the most important behind the scenes leaders in the peace process, Brian was a extremely articulate, intelligent and passionate man.
Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Peacekeeping, but for whom?

Today 160 Irish defence force troops will journey from the capital of Chad to their AOR almost 1,000 kms away on the Chad/Sudanese border. They are the first in a 400 strong contingent mandated to protect some 400,000 refugees and IDPs made homeless from fighting in Sudan and the border region.

The deployment fits all the requirements of the triple lock arrangement fixed into the Irish law. It has a UN mandate and it was agreed by the Government and the Dail. Although given that the Government will have an in built Dáil majority surely this “triple lock” is really just a “double lock”.

The coverage from the mainstream media on this has focused mainly on the logistics of it and little on the politics of it.

The mission is part of the EU peacekeeping force and the UN Secretary General himself made the appeal for troops.

Obviously the very nature of soldiering entails some risk and danger and so no one is realistically expecting that the Irish soldiers will be welcomed with open arms by all. Peacekeeping is rarely truly neutral and one if not all domestic combatants will feel at some point that UN peacekeepers are biased.

Accusations of bias were constantly levelled against Irish peacekeepers as part of the UNIFIL mission by Israel and the Serb minority in Kosova has made similar unfair calls.

But this is different. Irish troops have been deployed to Chad and from the day they arrive our Minister of Defence and his EU counterparts have placed them in a much compromised position.

Headlines that point out how the mission is commanded by an Irish General, it is routinely omitted to note that some EU troops are already in Country.

In 2005 France, at the request of the Chadian president Idriss Deby sent additional troops to bring a total of 1,300 French military personnel in the capital.

Neutrality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Willie O’Dea would have us believe that the Chadian rebels in the Toyota flatbeds whose stronghold is in Ireland’s AOR are going to recognise the visibly subtle difference between the EU troops sent to protect refugees and the EU troops sent to prop up their enemy.

It’s delusional to hope that they will. To them the French and Irish EU troops will be seen as one and the same. White Europeans siding with an unpopular leader with extremely dubious democratic credentials.

If there is any doubt see what UFDD leader, Mahamat Hassane Boulmaye, had to say about the EU peacekeepers “We will view the European soldiers as enemies, whether they are French or Austrian. For us all European units on our territory are enemies because they came to defend the dictator Idriss Deby."

By all means Ireland should take on assertive peace enforcement missions but we should have never agreed to contribute troops as long as France had troops acting as an illegitimate government’s Praetorian Guard. It puts the reputation and lives of Irish men at risk and threatens to further erode our neutral status.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gaybo on Lisbon


While out walking the dog this morning one of my elderly neighbors stopped me to tell me she was voting no to the Lisbon Treaty "after what Gaybo wrote in the paper".

It turns out that in today's Sunday Independent Gay Byrne wrote a piece on his opposition to the treaty. The thread on politics.ie outlines more.

Given that Gaybo and Myers are both against the Lisbon Treaty, I may have to reassess my own position.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lisbon, Lisbon and more Lisbon

So the Irish Times had it latest poll on the Lisbon Treaty in today's paper. Yesterdays party results, FF lose a leader due to his financial wizardry and go up 8%, are far too surreal for serious political analysis. Time for a new electorate anyone?

Anyway the Lisbon Treaty poll shows that 35% intend to vote Yes, 18% No and 47% Don't Know. It would be interesting if there was a fourth option given to those polled, namely "What you talking 'bout" - I suspect that many of the Don't Knows are in this group.

That said the presence of tens of thousands of posters throughout the state provides a very visible nudge to the electorate that they are being asked to decide on something, and soon.

With 25 days to run the Yes side, although ahead on a 2:1 basis, are far from safe as the IT notes;


The first Irish Times poll during the Nice referendum campaign in 2001 showed the Yes side with a bigger lead of 52 per cent to 21 per cent, yet the No side won a month later.

This campaign is going to be decided in the last three days, the Yes voters and campaigners I have met and debated are uneasy and intend supporting the Treaty for largely emotional reasons or fuzzy logic; grateful to Europe, Europe is good, need to be in Europe.

By contrast the No campaign is clear on the dangers of the Treaty and the main groups have managed to articulate it in a precise fashion, and the most welcome and surprising development, in a sober manner without try to spin utter nonsense and ripping into one another.

I've two non constituency Lisbon events this coming week.

On Monday at lunchtime I am debating with Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell and Brendan Kiely of the Alliance for Europe, also speaking from a No perspective is Declan Ganley of Libertas.

The debate is a little different, its on a lunchtime in the KPMG office in the IFSC, the attendance will be mainly those working in the centre. Not exactly the people who will be hardcore Shinner voters.

Both Gay Mitchell and Brendan are aggressive debaters so while the panel may enjoy themselves there's a chance that it will become bogged down in too fine a detail on the text of the Treaty for many in the audience to engage with.

On Thursday I back to Dublin Castle for the last time in the current round of National Forum on Europe debates. Thursday features the new veliki sir. The format is protective of the guest speaker so I would expect Cowen to deliver a well researched civil servant written speech, light on whats good in the Treaty, but heavy on history.

Cowen's response to the questions he will be asked will be interesting; he can choose to evade the questions and finish content that he will have secured his 15 seconds and soundbite on the 6'O Clock news, or he maybe tempted to get stuck in.

Given that its not clear how much he knows about The Lisbon Treaty, any attempt by him to assert himself holds the real danger (for him) of making a false claim on the benefits of the Treaty.

Here's hoping he goes for the latter option.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'll be a guest on Newstalk 106-108FM tonight, reviewing the news of the day. Hosted by Declan Carty, Late Night Live, is a cracking listen with the right guests and issues.

Throw in is at 10pm.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Is there a Power of One?


Last summer I read George Monibot's book Heat.
The book is a comprehensive assault on the complacency, wishful thinking and technological messiahness, that soothes most peoples concerns over Global Warming.

Systematically Monibot destroys the "easy options" being bandied about; nuclear power, renewables and, well, eating tofu.

The only alternatives to catastrophic climatic change, according to Monibot, is for a 90% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

90%!!

After reading the book I went and through a friend had my carbon footprint calculated for 2007.

I had imagined that I would be below the average in Ireland. I walk regularly, drive a average car, recycle (sort of), don't take unnecessary flights and turn off the appliances at night.


However the result revealed that my carbon footprint was 12.1 tonnes in 2007. The Irish average was 10.2 tonnes.

Cracking into action, and as penance, I went down to the garden centre, bought and planted four fruit trees and a bunch of hedging.

For 2008 my aim is to get my footprint below 10 tonnes.

How;

I recycle everything at this stage. Using the three bins we have in Dublin and separate the waste into each one.

I use conference calling and Skype with video to avoid needless work trips.

I have cut down on eating meat.

I check where the food produce we buy actually comes from. (No more tomatoes from Chile)

I got the bike out from the shed for the short trips to the shops and local house visits.

I fix things rather than looking to replace them.

I will buy second hand CDs and books on Amazon.

I have become somewhat obsessive about turning off household appliances.

Where I have failed and this isn't good, is around flights. Too many again this year, but will be one less than 2007.

The changes I made have been have been easy and I am confident I can get below 10 tonnes this year.

The nagging problem of course is what difference, aside from me feeling better about myself, will it make.....??

What we need is a mandated benign enforcer to bring in radical laws that oblige us all to conform to massive reduction.

Surely that's a role for the Greens in Government?

Calculate your own Carbon Footprint here.