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January 20 2014

European Citizens Call for the Protection of Media Pluralism

For updates follow @MediaECI on Twitter and 'like' the Facebook page European Initiative for Media Pluralism.

Website: MediaInitiative.eu. For updates follow @MediaECI on Twitter and ‘like’ the Facebook page European Initiative for Media Pluralism.

“European institutions should safeguard the right to free, independent and pluralistic information”. The quote, from the Media Initiative website, summarizes the main idea behind a pan-European campaign that aims at urging the European Commission to draft a Directive to protect Media Pluralism and Press Freedom.

The Media Initiative is running a European Citizens’ Initiative - a tool of participatory democracy “which allows civil society coalitions to collect online and offline one million signatures in at least 7 EU member states to present directly to the European Commission a proposal forming the base of an EU Directive, initiating a legislative process”. The petition is available in 15 languages and can be signed online:

Protecting media pluralism through partial harmonization of national rules on media ownership and transparency, conflicts of interest with political office and independence of media supervisory bodies.

A short video presents the campaign:

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

July 16 2013

Ireland: “If you are not dying, you are not getting a medical card”

The anonymous Irish blogger behind the blog ”Pieces of me” sends an open letter to the Irish minister of Health after the ministry decided to cut off medical reimbursements for cancer treatments, “unless their diagnosis is terminal.” As a cancer survivor, the blogger writes a poignant pamphlet:

My “not such a bad diagnosis at all”, brought me to my knees in ways you could only know if you yourself had been handed one. My  ”not such a bad diagnosis at all”, robbed me of my last few fertile years. My self esteem. My self worth. My mental health. My joy. And replaced it with a fear that seeps deep into your bones and probably won’t leave me for a very long time.

May 21 2013

Ireland's Top Economic Crisis Blogger Calls it Quits

The anonymous blogger behind Namawinelake, a prominent watchdog blog that chronicled Ireland's efforts to deal with its economic crisis, has stopped publishing, triggering a wave of speculation as to the blogger's identity and his or her reason for quitting. 

Namawinelake was launched in January 2010 after the financial crisis hit the country and the government was forced to request a bailout plan from the troika, made up of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. As its title indicated, Namawinelake's reports were focusing on the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), a state agency founded in 2009 as part of the government's answer to the financial crisis.

NAMA was filling the role of a “bad bank”, that is to say buying devalued property from banks and selling them afterwards, effectively making losses on behalf of private banks or companies in order to provide them with liquidity. Namawinelake was one of the many critics who charged NAMA with squandering public money for the benefit of the banks.

screen shot of the NAMA Wine Lake blog homepage as of May 19 2013

Screenshot of the NAMA Wine Lake blog homepage as of May 19, 2013

Jagdip Singh, the pseudonym under which Namawinelakes sometimes wrote, announced the decision on May 19, 2013, with a laconic message on the blog:

After 3.5 years and 2,700 blogposts, this is the final NAMA wine lake blogpost. I truly regret that I can’t continue something that has become more than full-time and has stopped me leading anything like a normal life.

Jagdip adds that existing publications will remain available. In addition, the author posted a mysterious message on the website broadsheet :

A panda walks into a bar. The clock reads 29 minutes past three though the second hand is broken and is stuck at 59. The panda sits down at the bar and looks all around. There’s a couple in the corner having a quiet chat, and a man by himself at the other end of the bar. The panda orders a pina colada and as the barman is preparing it, panda taps its paw on the bar and asks for the drink in a tall glass. The couple in the corner looks up, the panda stares meaningfully at them, the couple avert their gaze and stare at the table. The barman comes over to the panda and says “I hear the blog isn’t being continued” and the panda says “I truly regret that I can’t continue something that has become more than full-time and has stopped me leading anything like a normal life” Just at that precise moment, the second hand budges and advances in a single movement to 60.

What is the reason the panda isn’t continuing the blog?

Irish journalist Laura Noonan (@LauraNoonanIRL) summarized the general sentiment among Irish Twitter users when Namawinelake announced the decision to discontinue the blog:

@LauraNoonanIRL: End of an era as @namawinelake blog comes to a close. A must-read for anyone following Irish banks/property, it will be much missed.

A blogger under threat?

The exact reason why the blogger decided to stop writing isn't clear. But some, such as Twitter user “earlofcork” (@urlofcork), suspect that the decision to quit was because of a threat of some kind:

@urlofcork: 2day Namawinelake said he is to stop blogging, following legal threats from NAMA, he shone a lite [sic] on that cesspit and he has been shut down

Two weeks before announcing the shuttering of the blog, Namawinelake author wrote a post that details the context of a letter threatening legal action sent to him by Northern Ireland solicitors, Johnsons. He explains that in a previous post, Nawawinlake incorrectly stated that Neil Adair was the head so-called Maple 10 or Anglo Golden Circle, a group of financiers who have received loans from Anglo Irish Bank in return for buying shares. Despite a quick erratum and an apology, the blog was accused by the solicitors of deliberately and purposely trying to cause damage to Neil Adair's reputation.

On Twitter, professor of economics at University College Dublin Karl Welhan (@WhelanKarlpointed to the letter as a possible reason for the blogger's departure:

@WhelanKarl: Based on this entry and the tone of today's post, I wouldn't be surprised if the NWL closure relates to this letter. http://namawinelake.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/how-paul-tweeds-johnsons-solicitors-are-trying-to-muzzle-the-namawinelake-blog/ …

Under threat or not, economist and blogger Constantin Grudgiev emphasized the lack of support for independent information publishers in Ireland:

I can attest from my own & others’ experiences that those of us who run anything independent of the officialdom mouthpieces (regardless of political / ideological orientation or even the lack of one) have near-zero support (moral or citations- and links-wise) from our internal (not to be confused with international) media and all businesses.

Those in our society, including the traditional media, who only benefit from the free analysis and the climate of openness and debate the independent analysts help to create prefer to endlessly endorse and support, including via advertising revenues, cross-links, citations and readership, those who offer no alternative but consensus.

In contrast, independent analysts in Ireland operate in the environment of constant, usually indirect, ‘soft', pressure from the part of the Irish society which is fully aligned with the official elite. This ‘aligned’ sub-section of Ireland often has direct and indirect support (including financial) from major business, political and ideological organisations in this country, and even from European organisations. Because of this, Irish new independent media remains relatively small, under-resourced and often marginalised.

Meanwhile, a few commenters on IrishEconomy.ie congratulated and thanked the author of Namawinelake.

Gavin Kostick wrote:

Congratulations on your extraordinary achievement.

Your initiative and your perseverance has shown how citizens can take matters into their own hands and impact on public life. The time and effort to do the work you have done is mind-boggling.

David O'Donnell concurred:

An exemplar of active citizenship on shedding some light on the opaque world of NAMA_land. Thank you!

Georg R. Baumann added high praise for the author:

I remember your blog from day one, it was inspiration, it was a level of journalism that far exceeded the mainstream spin media and yellow press that makes the Irish media landscape. In a sense, to me it was always the very Irish version of WikiLeaks, it reflected the same spirit to me.

One question remains: Who was the blogger behind Namawinelake? The guessing game has already begun on Twitter:

 

February 15 2013

Ireland - The Star Pupil Of The Euro Fiasco

In a recent talk in London Peer Steinbrück, the SPD candidate for the German Chancellorship, in an otherwise progressive talk referred to Ireland as the "star pupil" among the countries struggling ...


Reposted from02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa

January 24 2013

Parallels Between Religious and Copyright Wars

Rick Falkvinge, the founder of Pirate Party, reinterprets the wars of religion that devastated Western Europe in the XVI and XVII centuries in terms of the current struggle to control information through overbearing legislation related to copyright and freedom of expression:

The religious wars were never about religion as such. They were about who held the power of interpretation, about who controlled the knowledge and culture available to the masses. It was a war of gatekeepers of information.

October 03 2012

Spain: Ryanair (aka Adventures in Flying)

Ryanair, the low-cost, low-luxury Irish airline is once again coming under fire, this time for numerous incidents that have built up over the course of the past few weeks. On July 23, 2012, three Ryanair planes had to make emergency landings in Valencia due to lack of fuel.

In September, two more planes made emergency landings in Madrid because of technical problems and depressurization, and another in Barcelona due to loss of fuel. The issue has not left netizens indifferent, and they did not hesitate to make jokes about the situation:

@Joanavas: Dentro de unas horas monto en #ryanair. Encantada de haberos conocido.

@Joanavas: I'm getting on #ryanair in a few hours. It's been a pleasure knowing you all.

@mgarnedo: Hoy vuelo con #ryanair, mañana actualizo la sección de hobbies de mi @linkedin añadiendo deportes de riesgo #wishmeluck

@mgarnedo: Today I'm flying with #ryanair, tomorrow I'm updating my Hobbies section on LinkedIn to add extreme sports #wishmeluck

@Lausfdez: Hoy tenía dos opciones, quedarme plácidamente en mi cama o ir al aeropuerto. Elegí vivir al límite. #Ryanair

@Lausfdez: Today I had two options: staying peacefully in bed or going to the airport. I chose to live life to the fullest. #Ryanair

@Txemitta: #ryanair les la nova loteria… Saps de quin aeroports despegues pero no on aterreras…

@Txemitta#ryanair is the new lottery… you know which airport you're leaving from, but not the one you will land in…

Avión de Ryanair «decorado» por Navidad. Foto de la página de Ryanair en Facebook.

Ryanair plane “decorated” for the holidays.  Photo taken from the Ryanair Facebook page.

But, is Ryanair a safe airline? According to a report from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) [es], it is. According to the Spanish pilots labor union [es], Sepla, “[Ryanair] takes the low cost concept too far, always straying into the security limits of legislation.”

(Ryanair has announced that it will launch legal actions against Sepla for their declarations, which they call slanderous, and in turn, adjudicator Soledad Becerril will initiate a court-appointed action to ensure that the company does not violate air security regulations nor the rights of the passengers.)

Despite what Doris Casaites writes on her blog “3viajes al día” [es], the Ryanair's cabin staff does not appear to be too concerned, since on a flight from Gerona to Madrid she had the opportunity to hear the following comments over the PA system:

como ya sabemos que todos piensan que somos unos chorizos, agarren bien sus bolsos por si acaso les robamos, y si no se fían pueden encender las luces de lectura
(…)
si compran [su lotería], les puede sacar de sus miserables y ruinosas vidas. Hasta el piloto me acaba de llamar por el interfono para pedirme un cupón porque hoy no hemos vendido ni uno

since we all already know that everyone thinks we are a bunch of thieves, make sure to hold on to your bags in case we rob you, and if you don't trust us, you can turn on the reading lights

(…)

if you buy [lottery tickets], it can be a way out of your miserable and disastrous lives. Even the pilot just called me on the intercom to ask me for a ticket because we have not sold a single one today

In reality, flying with Ryanair is often anything but cheap. If you buy a round trip flight for two European destinations online, in addition to the cost of the two trips, you will have to pay a 4€ tax for flight delays/cancellations, 12€ to do an online check-in, 50€ for checking a 15 kg bag (60€ for a 20 kg bag) and 12€ in administrative costs. This is to say that Ryanair will raise the initial price of the trip by at least 78€ (39€ each way).

If they discover that you exceeded the baggage limit in the airport, Ryanair will charge you 20€ per kg until a maximum of 32 kg. If you do not complete the check-in online or you forget to print your boarding passes, Ryanair will fine you 60€.

It is worth adding that Ryanair recieved over 793 million euro [es] in public subsidies in Europe over the course of the last year. This money is what permitted the company to turn a profit of 503 million euro [es] during that time period with such low costs.

Ryanair's dramatic CEO, Michael O'Leary, appears to know no limits when it comes to cutting costs… and “privileges” for his customers. In addition to his plans to place an extra charge [es] on obese individuals, demand 1€ to use the restroom, remove two of the three restrooms from each plane to make room for more seats, install the so-called vertical seats or suggest that passengers carry their own bags to the plane, he has added a proposal that planes fly without a copilot and, in case one is necessary, it be one of the crew members that land [es] the plane.

Michael O'Leary vestido de torero. Foto del blog banbloodsports.com

Michael O'Leary dressed as a bullfighter. Photo taken from banbloodsports.com

O'Leary does not refrain. On Belgian website références [fr], we find many statements of such a controversial character:

We don't want to hear your sob stories. What part of ‘no refund' don't you understand?
(…)
We would welcome a good, deep, bloody recession in this country for 12 to 18 months … It would help see off the environmental nonsense.
(…)
We need a recession. We have had 10 years of growth. A recession gets rid of crappy loss-making airlines and it means we can buy aircraft more cheaply.

 

In 2006, the BBC Channel 4's program, Dispatches, placed two of its journalists on Ryanair as flight attendants. They worked in the company for five months and filmed all sorts of irregularities.

The video talks about lack of training, little regard for accreditation of their personnel, 25-minute stops during which it is impossible to conduct a proper investigation of the aircraft, sufficient fuel loads and borderline illegal work conditions. Not to mention the total disregard for their clients, who they appear to consider stupid for flying with this airline. Judge for yourselves, and hope that things have gotten much better since then:

Take, for example, Ryanair's Facebook page, where most entries are complaints from outraged passengers saying that the company does not even bother to respond. No comment.

July 27 2012

Greece: Photo ‘Road Trip' Around Europe Debt Crisis

We Are The Pigs‘ - in reference to the derogatory PIGS acronym - is a crowdfunded photojournalism ‘road trip' venture, to collect people's stories from European countries affected by the debt crisis. The project, started by two young Central European women journalists frustrated with the stereotypical hyperbole and abuse levelled in the media against Greece and other crisis-ridden countries, will hit the road in early August, starting in Thessaloniki, Greece.

April 26 2012

Louis le Brocquy obituary

Artist known for his portraits of Irish writers

When the National Gallery of Ireland acquired Louis le Brocquy's canvas A Family, in 2002, he became the first living Irish artist to have a painting in the collection. It is a modern parable. Le Brocquy, who has died aged 95, painted A Family in 1951, and Gimpel Fils, his London gallery from 1947 for the rest of his life, exhibited it that year. In 1952 a group of patrons offered to buy the painting for £400 and present it to the municipal gallery in Dublin, but the art advisory committee rejected it as incompetent.

Four years later, it won a prize at the Venice Biennale, was bought by the Nestlé Foundation and hung at its Milan headquarters until 2001. The Irish businessman Lochlann Quinn then bought it from Agnews in London for £1.7m, and with his wife, Brenda, presented it to the National Gallery of Ireland.

Le Brocquy's charm and modesty seemed insufficient defence against the vitriolic public abuse that accompanied his hometown rejection in 1952, but his inner strength was obvious early in life. Born in Dublin, he went to St Gerard's school in Wicklow and studied chemistry at Trinity College, Dublin, intending to forge a career alongside his father, Albert, in the family oil refinery. His mother, Sybil, was a lawyer and writer whose play Winning Ways was staged by the Abbey Theatre in 1932.

Louis took up painting as a hobby and myth has it that the two pieces accepted in 1937 for the admittedly crusty Royal Hibernian Academy's annual show were the first he had ever made. Whatever the truth, it became obvious to Le Brocquy that he was meant for a different kind of career with oils. He quit Trinity and embarked on a study tour through Europe in 1937-38.

Thus self-taught, he joined his younger sister, Melanie, a sculptor, and a group of rebels in helping to set up an avant-garde organisation, Irish Exhibition of Living Art, and exhibited at its launch in 1943. His career began to flourish in 1946 with the start of his so-called tinker period, a cubist-influenced series of paintings of groups of Irish travellers.

For many years he was treated by critics as a Celtic fringe follower of Picasso, but he was a true original, many of whose tinker-period paintings suggest late-period Picasso before the event. One highly suggestive work, Man Creating Bird (1948), is a lyrical and mildy disturbing allegory of a man with an upraised hand pulling at a thread attached to a squawking bird's throat held in his other hand. Everything in the picture seems on the point of flight, but what actually did take off was Le Brocquy's career as a tapestry designer, at which he was an unqualified success.

The best of the tapestries sprang from the work he did for Thomas Kinsella's poetic version of one story, The Táin (1969), about the gathering of people for a cattle raid from a body of medieval Ulster mythology. These were black and white blot illustrations of raw magnificence, incidentally including Medb Relieving Herself – another, presumably inadvertent, shadowing of Picasso (La Pisseuse of 1965).

A Family was a crucial point in Le Brocquy's work as a painter, not because of its history once it came off the easel, but because it introduced a new phase of activity involving painting in subdued colours: 1951-54, a grey period, then a white period following a sponsored visit to Spain. Passing through La Mancha in 1955, as he described it: "I stopped spellbound before a small group of women and children standing against a whitewashed wall. Here the intensity of the sunlight had interposed its own revelation, absorbing these human figures into its brilliance, giving substance only to shadow. From that moment I never perceived the human presence in quite the same way."

The paintings appeared now as a meditation on the state of being, of how it feels to be inside a body or a head, not how it looks, though the sequence of portraits of Irish writers from Oscar Wilde to his friends Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney are good likenesses – and fetched six and seven figures in the new Irish tiger economy.

Le Brocquy married Jean Stoney in 1938 but they divorced in 1948. In 1958 he married Ann Madden Simpson – Anne Madden the painter, as he always referred to her. They lived until the turn of the century in the south of France. She and their sons, Pierre and Alexis, survive him, as does Seyre, the daughter of his first marriage.

Louis le Brocquy, artist, born 10 November 1916; died 25 April 2012

Louis le Brocquy website


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April 25 2012

Louis le Brocquy dies aged 95

Irish artist renowned for portraits of writers was first living painter to have work bought by Irish National Gallery

One of Ireland's most renowned artists, Louis le Brocquy, has died aged 95 at his home in Dublin. The painter, best known for his portraits of great literary figures, friends and fellow artists, had been ill for the past year.

Irish president Michael D Higgins and taoiseach Enda Kenny led tributes.

Higgins described his pioneering style as highly inspirational.

"I lament the loss of a great artist and wonderful human being whose works are amongst this country's most valuable cultural assets and are cherished by us all. Louis leaves to humanity a truly great legacy," he said.

In a mark of his standing, le Brocquy was the first artist to have his work acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland during his lifetime – the gallery paid a then record €2.75m (£1.15m) for A Family for its permanent collection.

The taoiseach said he had made a highly significant contribution to Irish life with his wide ranging appeal.

"Louis's art had a very broad appeal and was admired not only across the world but also by people of all ages and will stand as a lasting legacy to his outstanding artistic prowess," Kenny said.

A self-taught artist, le Brocquy was highly skilled in the use of tapestry and was regarded as groundbreaking in many of the paintings he produced.

Born in Dublin in 1916, his work spanned seven decades – with most accolades coming for his evocative portrait heads of, among others, WB Yeats, James Joyce and his friends Samuel Beckett, Francis Bacon, Seamus Heaney and Bono.

The series gained much attention outside the art world, with Irish enterprise and investment gurus using a le Brocquy image to promote the country as a place to do business in 2006. IDA Ireland also used one of his images of Bono for a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal.Pat Moylan, chairman of the Arts Council in Ireland, described le Brocquy as one of the most important artists the country has produced.

"The development of le Brocquy's work towards an 'Irish modernism' allowed Irish artists to think beyond the traditional, academic approach which had been dominant in Ireland," he said.

"In this way, contemporary Irish visual artists today owe a great deal to the legacy of le Brocquy."

Rock band U2 added their own tribute to le Brocquy.

"From the moment we met him, our band had a strange intimacy with this giant of the art world – a gentle giant who taught manners to the world around him just by having more of them than anyone else," the group said.

"We were fans but he called us friends, starstruck friends were common in his orbit.

"To so many of us he was the brightest star in the firmament, always there to guide, to encourage, to push you to realise your potential.

"We were, we are, eternally grateful for this education.

"Now the painter that took our breath away as teenagers, the same way Bob Dylan or Patti Smith did, is gone from us but the illumination in the work he has left behind will take some pain out of that loss."


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March 14 2012

Europe: Will ACTA Treaty Pass After Protests?

[All links forward to French articles unless stated otherwise.]

As of the end of the month of February 2012, the mobilization efforts of Internet users against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) [en] were still going strong. In fact, they may have begun to bear fruit.

By including infringements against the author's rights in its scope, this international treaty, which addresses intellectual property rights, also affects Internet content.

The ratification debates which were placed on the European Parliament's agenda on February 29, were put on hold in expectation of the opinion of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The issue of the treaty's conformity with European Community law was brought before the court on 22 February by the European Commission.

No ACTA - Strasbourg. Photo by Christophe Kaiser on Flickr, CC-license-BY

No ACTA - Strasbourg. Photo by Christophe Kaiser on Flickr, CC-license-BY

Taurillon, the “magazine of young Europeans -France” describes “Europe's about-face on ACTA“:

Si l’avis est négatif, l’ACTA n’a plus aucune chance en Europe. Mais en cas d’avis positif, le recours à la CJUE représente le double avantage de redonner au traité une certaine crédibilité, et de repousser son adoption à une époque suffisamment lointaine pour que la polémique se soit tassée et que l’opinion publique regarde ailleurs.

If the opinion is negative, ACTA no longer stands a chance in Europe. However, if there is a positive opinion, appealing to the ECJ would mean a double advantage by giving the treaty a certain credibility, and also pushing back implementation to a time that is far enough away when public debate has settled down and the public's attention is focused elsewhere.

Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson for la Quadrature du Net urges on the European deputies:

Les eurodéputés doivent résister à la stratégie de la Commission européenne, qui cherche à gagner du temps et à transformer le débat en une simple discussion juridique, et pour cela continuer à travailler au rejet d’ACTA. ACTA vise à imposer une tendance pour une politique globale du droit d’auteur qui est toxique pour l’Internet libre et pour les libertés. Le Parlement européen est le dernier rempart : il doit agir et adopter une position claire et forte, faute de quoi il laissera le champ libre à la Commission pour imposer une répression inacceptable.

The Eurodeputies must resist the European Commission's strategy of attempting to gain time and turning the debate into a simple legal discussion, thereby continuing to work towards ACTA's rejection. ACTA aims to impose a tendency for a global policy of author's rights that is toxic for the free Internet and for freedom. The European Parliament is the last line of defense: it must act and adopt a firm and clear position, otherwise it will leave the field wide open for the commission to impose an unacceptable repression.

For trucbuntu, there is no question of remaining passive while waiting for the Court to adjudicate:

Les citoyens de toute l’Europe peuvent contacter leurs représentants dans les commissions Commerce International (INTA) et Industrie (ITRE), qui se réunissent cette semaine pour discuter d’ACTA, et leur demander de continuer à travailler au sein de leur commission pour le rejet d’ACTA.

Citizens of all of Europe were able to contact their representatives in the International Trade (INTA) and Industry (ITRE) Committees, who met on February 29 to discuss ACTA. Many citizens requested their representatives to reject the proposal.

The website of the European Parliament explains the procedure and the issues of the treaty [en] that are under scrutiny, and has published ‘What you should know about ACTA‘ [en], a page of questions and answers. The ACTA workshop of the European Parliament has been the object of a storify [en] made by the Parliamentary services (link via Global Voices contributor Asteris Masouras [en]).

The organization AVAAZ submitted a petition to the European Parliament on 29 February with 2.4 million signatures against ACTA. The petition is still open:

Nous sommes vraiment proches de la victoire — notre pétition forte de 2,4 millions de signatures a ébranlé les responsables politiques partout en Europe et stoppé les censeurs. La Commission européenne est à présent en position de faiblesse et espère que la Cour de justice donnera son feu vert au traité ACTA en lui soumettant une question juridique très limitée qui recevra certainement une réponse positive.Mais si nous faisons résonner nos voix aujourd'hui, nous pouvons faire en sorte que la Cour examine tous les impacts légaux du traité ACTA et publie un avis qui fera toute la lumière sur cette attaque contre nos droits qu'est ACTA.

We are really close to victory — our petition, with 2.4 million signatures has shaken up those politicians in charge throughout Europe and stopped their censors. The European Commission is currently in a position of weakness and is hoping the Court of justice will green light the ACTA treaty by bringing before the court a very limited legal question, that will without doubt receive a positive response. But if we make our voices heard today, we will be able to get the court to examine all the legal implications of ACTA and publish an opinion that will bring to light the real attack against our rights that is ACTA.
No ACTA - Strasbourg. Photo Christophe Kaiser on Flickr, CC-license-BY

No ACTA - Strasbourg. Photo Christophe Kaiser on Flickr, CC-license-BY

Anti-ACTA parties continue to  strengthen their resources. New protests were set for 10 March, and torrentnews gives a list, with this appeal:

La liste n’est pas exhaustive, n’hésitez pas à nous contacter pour la compléter ;)

si certains se sentent l’âme d’un reporter- photographe en herbe, nous recherchons également des personnes pour faire un petit article photo du déroulement de la manif, rien de bien compliqué, comme fait ici pour Nice, Marseille,Bordeaux et Strasbourg.

The list is not exhaustive, do not hesitate to contact us to complete it ;)

If any individuals see themselves as budding photojournalists we are also looking for people to do a small photo story on how the protest unfolds, nothing too complicated, as it happens in Nice, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Strasbourg.

For details on the elements of the debate, see also these linked articles from the Tribune on February 29, and Myeurop, on March 3. On Global Voices, see the laws SOPA/PIPA that set a precedent in the USA, here [en] and here [en]. Since the beginning of the protests, ACTA seems to have lost a lot of political momentum.

The title of this post is inspired by the end of the article “La liberté sur Internet : le filtrage de la discorde” which was published by the Institute of Research and Legal and Information studies and Communication (I.R.E.D.I.C.). It puts into perspective Internet blocking and debates the adoption of ACTA.

The original article in French was published on March 4. For background on the ACTA proposal, more articles can be found here [en].

February 10 2012

Georgia: Allegations made online against billionaire opposition politician

As parliamentary elections approach this year in Georgia, to be followed by a presidential vote in 2013, allegations against Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire opposition politician, have appeared on the Internet. The alleged exposé of life in the Ivanishvili household by American teacher Patrick Downey, formerly employed by the businessman turned politician, have been met with skepticism from other expatriates in the former Soviet republic, and not least because of claims also made against Georgia in general, the U.S., and [his ancestral homeland of] Ireland. Downey had sought asylum or residency in the latter, according to a video blog, “[…] in light of recent uncontrolled and willfully ill-advised policies concerning the mass emigration of non-Irish persons to Ireland […].” Ivanishvili has responded by saying that Downey “is suffering from psychological problems.”

January 25 2012

Post SOPA, What Else Is Out There?

Imagine when the oil runs out, and this all goes away.
Post SOPA might be slightly wishful thinking, because the industries that paid for the bill are not going to back down any time soon. Perhaps they’ve realised they’re at least going to need to be slightly more subtle about wanting control of the internet. (Although as long as Chris Dodd is speaking for the MPAA, subtlety doesn’t look like it’s going to be an option.) They will be back. But there are others about, trying similar. So what’s there to worry about?

(more…)

Reposted fromdarinrmcclure darinrmcclure

January 07 2012

Eurozone Crisis: 2011 Citizen Media Responses

This page is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

The year 2011 will be remembered for the European debt crisis and its impact on the global economy, but also for its hard consequences on everyday life. The crisis began in 2007 and is without precedent in post-war economic history. Europe is living its darkest economic days since the 1930s.

Due to the growing importance of the topic and due to the diffusion of social media platforms, in recent months there has been a proliferation of “economic blogging” (and tweeting). Opinion, thoughts and reactions abound online trying to make sense of what future awaits the Eurozone.

Considering VAT increases, along with salary, pension and benefit cuts, some basic goods are becoming less affordable. Indian blogger Deepankar Basu wrote on the indian economic website Sanhati:

These [austerity] measures reduce expenditure and increase taxes in order to reduce government deficits. Cutbacks in government spending and increases in taxes, at this particular moment, however, amount to the worst possible policy stance, reducing aggregate demand even further, and pushing the economies deeper into recession.

Sovereign debts, junk ratings: protests take to the street

Camp site at Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain. Photo by Julio Albarrán, republished under a CC License.

Camp site at Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain. Photo by Julio Albarrán, republished under a CC License.

The crisis is perceived to have started within three countries - Ireland, Greece and Portugal - but quickly spread to Spain and Italy.

Since the international rating agencies gave their assessments (ratings) for each national solvency (the ability to pay public debt) it seemed they “held the wand” over the Eurozone’s future. This power over the fate of each state provoked strong debates all over Europe, with many questioning the legitimacy of their analysis.

In Portugal, for example, there was a strong commotion and reaction when the independent American financial analysis firm Moody's called Portuguese debt “junk debt”.

But the core of the protests occurred in May. It all started in Spain with the 15M movement, mainly coordinated by the youth organization Democracia Real Ya [es], which was extremely active online and organized massive demonstrations against corruption, unemployment, and a political structure allegedly favouring a two-party system.

The acampadas born in Plaza del Sol in Madrid quickly “infected” other Spanish cities, such as Barcelona, Sevilla and Malaga. In a few weeks other movements became active in other European Countries and globally, later the Occupy Wall Street movement.

  "#campmap for "#worldrevolution" - More than  600 demonstrations and camp outs were ignited in solidarity with Spanish protesters by the end of May, 2011.

"#campmap for "#worldrevolution" - More than 600 demonstrations and camp outs were ignited in solidarity with Spanish protesters by the end of May, 2011.

 

Some, including mainstream media [es], soon made connections between the the so-called Spanish Revolution and the Arab Spring.

Como si se tratara de la plaza Tahrir, en Egipto, escenario de las protestas populares[es]. El caldo de cultivo del derrocamiento de Hosni Mubarak. Esto es distinto pero puede ser el embrión de algo. Quién sabe.

As if we were in Tahrir square, in Egypt, the scenario for popular uprisings, and the path towards overthrowing Mubarak. This is different, but it may be the seed of something. Who knows.

Solidarity to the Spanish movement came soon from Greece, which has been the first European Union country to taste the sting of IMF/ECB austerity since 2010. Particularly in Greece the anti-austerity protests have been strongest. In June there were peaceful protests and gatherings at Syntagma (Constitution) Square, and when protesters planned to surround the House of the Parliament the day for which the vote for the Mid-Term Austerity Programme had been scheduled, there were violent clashes with the police.

Protests and demonstrations continued over the summer especially in Spain and Greece. But only the big reforms and the austerity plans widely adopted in “PIIGS” countries (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) late in the autumn marked a turning point of the European debt crisis.

“Blood and Tears”: the austerity recipe

The pressure of the financial markets and recommendations coming from European Commission urged some governments to adopt  so-called austerity measures aimed at eliminating unsustainable budget deficits. Recipes seem to have some common traits across countries: cuts on social spending and social services, additional taxes, VAT increases and salary cuts with citizens paying for the crisis.

In Spain the intense social debate over the economic recovery plan led to new protest in September when the #reformazo (#bigreform) was announced. Spain, and later Italy, decided to introduce constitutional changes to limit public spending (budgetary stability). In turn, there were protests throughout the country organized by the assemblies of Puerta del Sol and by the entire 15M movement against what Real Democracy Now! has called the Financial Coup D'État.

Runner statue mocked up as a rioter. Photo courtesy of the Athens indignants' multimedia team, licensed as CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Runner statue mocked up as a rioter. Photo courtesy of the Athens indignants' multimedia team, licensed as CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

In Greece in October there was an unprecedented protest during the ‘Ochi Day‘ (No Day) Parade since Greeks were angry for the relentless and ineffective austerity measures, culminating in the “haircut” deal negotiated by banks and European politicians, which many fear signifies the beginning of a new foreign “occupation” of the country.

The impact of the austerity recipes have been particularly severe in Greece where suicides and criminality are mounting, and where social and health assistance is becoming more and more expensive. The reportedly high cost (that can reach 1000 euros) for childbirth in public hospitals is only one example of adverse social impacts of the current crisis.

But there are also chronicles of the victims of the explosive cocktail of the housing bubble, the financial crisis, and high unemployment rates. Thousands of families are now without homes. A large campaign started in Spain against housing speculation, to stop evictions and relocate families to unused buildings.

Mobilizing on the streets and the Internet

Apart from economic issues and their implications for the people of European countries, democratic participation and citizenship rights occupy the public debate. The massive participation in protests and demonstrations against austerity measures - both online and in the streets - was something new on the European political scene.

Many, such as in Portugal, have pointed out there was an alternative to the top-down measures imposed by EC, IMF and ECB so that the Iceland’s practice of direct democracy became a model. Since Iceland refused an international bailout, many argued that there could be a different solution for the current crisis than ten years of severe budget restrictions to bail out bondholders.

But there was also another issue that emerged in recent months, since there have been crucial changes of government in three European countries. While in Spain the change was due to early elections, the new prime ministers in Greece and in Italy were chosen by the head of state, without any popular approval.

The resignation of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy was particularly important not only for the country, but for the whole European Union, since the country needed to calm financial markets in order to keep interest rates on sovereign debt under control. After the “Party for Berlusconi's resignation” soon Italians and Europeans involved in the crisis had to face the ugly reality they have to live with.

As Europe’s financial woes intensify, austerity reigns, the crisis deepens and economists are forecasting an (unprecedented?) recession, maybe 2011 will be remembered as a “lost year” of the European economic history.

This page is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

November 15 2011

Eurozone Crisis: Where Will the Economy Go?

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

Economists would be hard pressed to forecast the future of Europe's bailouts and the consequences of the current financial crisis. While opinions differ, reactions abound online to try to make sense of what future awaits for the Eurozone.

Where is the economy going? That question was put to Maria Karchilaki, a Greek  journalist and the Foreign Desk Anchor/Correspondent for MEGA TV. She replied:

@karhilam: @efleischer I don't know, really. I'm not optimistic, though. This is an economic Katrina and we are still in the middle of it.

Euro coin. Image by Civitas (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

None of the region’s biggest banks pass a stress test. BNP Palibras has slashed its exposure to Italy and Greece, as has RBS, even though it is apparently awash with liquidity. Dexia, Commerzbank, Credit Agricole, and HSBC are seeking to cut their exposure.

France is planning to cut 20% of its budget deficit, Ireland is planning 12.4 billion in budget cuts and ECB (European Central Bank) interest rates are being kept at 1.25%.

On the micro level, people are not in a charitable mood, one retired truck driver in Greece went so far as to tell The New York Times:

[I am] impressed that the people have not yet stormed into Parliament and burned the politicians alive — like a souvlaki [type of kebab].

The question, “Where will the economy go over the next two months?” was put to the following reporters and Twitter users before the resignation of former Greek Prime Minister Papandreou and former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi.

Efthimia Efthimiou, a Greek journalist, writes:

@EfiEfthimiou: @efleischer … difficult to say right now. Things r changing from hour to hour …

Yannis Koutsomitis, another journalist, replied:

@YanniKouts @efleischer There is a strong possibility that political logic will prevail in Italy and Greece in the next few days. That could calm markets for a while. If political turmoil in these countries continues there's a real chance the euro zone crisis will climax with unpredictable outcomes.

Right now the outcomes are pointing in this direction: John Reed of The Financial Times writes that Italian tyre producer Pirelli has “drafted a contingency plan that factors in a 10 per cent drop in car sales and 20 per cent fall in truck sales globally. That would be a drop as big as that seen after Lehman Brothers’ collapse.” (Though that's emphasized as a worst-case scenario.)

Meanwhile, a WikiLeaks cable written in 2010 began to get to work on (if it's necessary) how one might go about declaring a ‘Eurozone Chapter 11‘.

Douglas Fraser at the BBC discusses what would happen if multiple defaults were in the cards:

If Greece, Portugal and Ireland hit that level of default, half of German banks' capital buffers are gone, a third of Belgium's and a quarter in France and the UK.

But there are indirect effects as inter-bank insurance and lending unravels, and that wipes out 100% of German banks' core tier 1 capital.

Belgium's left with only 7%, France with 25% and the UK with 50%. Britain would take a hit from Ireland in particular, but RBS and Lloyds Banking Group have already written down a lot of their exposure.

And what about adding Italy and Spain? The figures are eye-watering.

The direct effects would require governments to recapitalise German and French banks with 125% of their current core capital, meaning nationalisation.

But add in the indirect effects, and you find it would require 275% of German banks' core capital, 270% in Belgium, 225% in France and 130% in the UK.

At that point, Germany is only able (it would hope) to meet the bailout requirements of its own banks, while it is every other eurozone country for itself.

On another FT blog, Alan Beattie writes that:

[…] if the ECB can’t bring itself to bail out Italy direct (sovereign credit risk, no expertise in setting lending conditions) it could in theory, according to Article 23 of its protocol, lend vast amounts to the IMF

The IMF would then set about bailing out Italy (which Megan Greene sees as on the cards ('bail-in'), as does The Economist to a degree), which at the end of it all - amongst all this information - is better than nothing.

Reached by email, RTE's Paul Cunningham said, in answer to the question “Do you have any hope that the ECB might use its position as a central bank to encourage growth instead of austerity?”, that (posted with permission from the sender):

The new ECB President, with the interest rate cut, has illustrated that he's prepared to be pragmatic. There was a question if Mr Draghi might have felt the need
to prove his Germanic credentials by holding off a rate cut until December, on the basis that inflation was above 2%. . The fact that the cut happened at his first meeting
would suggest he is his own man. The debate as to whether or not there ever should have been a rate increase will rumble on for years.

On the wider issue of the ECB's role, it would appear that the President will continue to follow JCT in buying-up bonds in the secondary market, but not in the volume to
alleviate the crisis. There is nothing to suggest that Draghi is prepared to allow the institution become the Lender of Last Resort. In my view, this can only change when
Germany changes ie when the crisis develops to such an extent that the German taxpayer is faced with the ultimate crisis - if we stick to our principles on fiscal control,
the euro collapses.

It's often argued that when Europe is faced with a crisis, it needs to stand at the brink before the deal is done. This time it seems to need Germany to stand at the cliff edge
- if the euro goes, the DM will return, and - immediately - it's export led economy will be in danger. Who will buy their goods when the price has ballooned due to the DM?
Sooner rather than later, deeply-held principle is about to crash against the reality posed by the volatile bond markets.

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

September 06 2011

Dublin art show draws on WB Yeats's darkest lines

Dublin Contemporary's political theme is the 'terrible beauty' in the poem Easter, 1916. But are Yeats's eerie, prophetic verses applicable to recent political and economic upheavals?

From 6 September until 31 October, Dublin is putting on a contemporary art show that occupies some of the city's finest venues and includes a host of Irish and international artists. Dublin Contemporary 2011 can be seen at the Hugh Lane, the National Gallery of Ireland and other spaces, and features, among others, Willie Doherty and Thomas Hirschhorn. It should be fascinating to see such a big spread of new art against this city's backdrop of 18th-century buildings, and the event deserves to draw big crowds to Dublin.

But inevitably, in these times of economic crisis and world political upheaval, Dublin Contemporary has a political feel: perhaps it is the first international art event to take on this year's mounting sense of crisis directly. Both the artists I have mentioned are notably engaged with political events, and Dublin Contemporary takes as its theme "Terrible Beauty", a quotation from WB Yeats's poem Easter, 1916.

This has been quite a summer for quoting Yeats. In the wake of England's riots, columnists were working great chunks from his poem The Second Coming into their copy. Easter, 1916 and The Second Coming both come from an anthology that Yeats published in 1921, his most disturbing and engaged book, reflecting on revolution and anticipating civil war. It is chilling that now, people from Telegraph commentators to art curators find his darkest lines appropriate to our times.

In Easter, 1916, Yeats defines the modern spirit in an uneasy and ambivalent way. He speaks of friends and acquaintances he used to meet after work, to say "polite meaningless words" to, yet who have now become revolutionary martyrs in the Easter Rising:

All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

This line captures the essence of modernism in art as well as politics – the change that has suddenly occurred is absolute, and unleashes terrible beauty. You can apply that image to works of art from Les demoiselles d'Avignon to Thomas Hirschhorn's Crystal of Resistance in the Swiss Pavilion at this summer's Venice Biennale.

As an aesthetic, this "terrible beauty" is compelling, but Yeats sees human terror in the violence and intensity that has been unleashed, for "Too long a sacrifice/ Can make a stone of the heart." In The Second Coming, the poet bears witness to gathering darkness as hearts do indeed turn to stone:

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

So it is uneasy, to say the least, that all of a sudden, the times we live in seem to demand quotations from the eeriest prophetic verses of the 20th century. Are we really in times of "terrible beauty" once again? Are the troubling symptoms of the summer, from breaking glass to market shudders, really comparable with the bloody age in which Yeats had his revelations?

Dublin Contemporary sounds great. But I hope we can soon go back to living where motley is worn.


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June 30 2011

Gaza: Two Boats Sabotaged as Flotilla Floats Onwards

The Freedom Flotilla 2 to Gaza will be missing an Irish ship, it emerged today.

The MV Saoirse has been reportedly sabotaged while at berth in the Turkish coastal town of Göcek and will now not be able to take part in the flotilla, says the Irish Ship to Gaza Campaign.

A total of 300 activists from around the world are taking part in the six-vessel flotilla to Gaza, which is aimed at breaking Israel's siege on Gaza and to deliver humanitarian aid to its population. It follows in the heels of last year's Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which ended tragically when Israeli forces boarded the flotilla after it had declined to change its course to the port of Ashdod, where Israel had promised to inspect the aid and deliver non-banned items to Gaza. Nine passengers of the Comoros-flagged MV Mavi Marmara, which was part of the six-ship flotilla, were reported killed by Israeli soldiers who landed on the ship and 10 Israeli soldiers were injured.

This year's attempt, which includes nationals from Canada, the US, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Norway and the UK, among others, is a highly politicized campaign and activists are using social media creatively to encourage press coverage and global support. The US Boat to Gaza website is inviting journalists to come look at the entire boat in a press release on their homepage.

smac shares footage and photographs of the damage the Irish vessel had encountered here. He writes:

On Monday the ships 3 crew members, Shane Dillon, John Hearne and Pat Fitzgerald; along with Clr Gerry MacLochlainn, Charlie McMenamin (both from Derry) with John Mallon and Phil McCullough (both from Belfast) set sail on the MV Saoirse for re-fueling and a test run.

On the way back to port Pat Fitzgerald, ship’s engineer, noticed that something was very wrong with the boat. Upon returning to the dock the first inspections began, it was then we realised that sabotage had been done to Ireland’s boat.

The campaign reports “deep cuts inflicted onto the propeller shaft,” which was “also seriously and dangerously bent.”

This same type of sabotage was done to another vessel in Greece only days ago. This was a vicious attack on Irish property by international terrorists against a boat flying the Irish flag. The ship is so damaged it will now be unable to take part in the Flotilla. However arrangements are being made to find seats on other ships for as many Irish passengers as possible.

Fintan Lane is seen here speaking about the damage the ship suffered:

Irish Times foreign affairs correspondent Mary Fitzgerald reports:

@MaryFitzgerldIT: Irish ship due to sail in Gaza flotilla has problems with propeller. Organisers believe it may have been sabotaged. http://bit.ly/leKYKE

She continues:

@MaryFitzgerldIT: Irish taking part in Gaza flotilla accuse Israel of sabotaging their ship and call on Irish govt to raise issue with Israeli counterparts

And adds:

@MaryFitzgerldIT: Irish FM is ‘concerned' re reports Irish ship in Gaza flotilla sabotaged. Says will take ‘very serious view' if sab proved in investigation

A Facebook page, calling for a sit-in in Dublin to protest against the damage the ship has suffered, has been set up.

The page says:

The Irish Ship To Gaza have called an EMERGENCY DEMONSTRATION for today in response to this outrageous act. We are calling on people to assemble at 6pm at the Spire in O'Connell Street. From there we will march to the Israeli Embassy and stage an overnight sit-in outside (so bring sleeping bags etc). We intend to shut down the Israeli Embassy!

We need this demo to be as loud as possible, so if you have drums, bodrans, whistles, whatever, please bring them along.

This act of sabotage against a peaceful humanitarian civil society mission (which has been paid for by 1000s of ordinary Irish people) must be protested in the strongest terms possible.

Like many, Egyptian Twitter user Khaled Khalil accuses Israel of bullying when he read about the sabotaging of the Irish ship:

@Kh-Khalil: #Israel bullying RT @notmytribe: Irish MV Saoirse becomes 2nd victim of sabotage, cannot sail with Gaza Flotilla http://bit.ly/jrP7dh

Israel accuses the flotilla campaign, which attempts to breach its maritime blockade of Gaza, as a “clear political provocation.”

On Twitter, Tony Karon, from New York, quips:

@TonyKaron: Sure, Gaza flotilla is a provocation - mass non-violent civil disobedience of an unjust order. Dr King led plenty such provocations #fb

Tweets from the Irish Ship to Gaza can be found here.

June 27 2011

Why small is beautiful when it comes to festivals

One of my favourite festivals is the tiny but perfectly formed Galway theatre festival – and this year's instalment promises to be as brilliant (and boozy) as ever

What makes for a good arts festival? Above all, it has to be distinctive. Edinburgh is obviously defined by its omnivorousness, Manchester by its air of radical experiment. And the Galway arts festival, which kicks off on 11 July, is for me marked by its high-quality selectiveness and liver-testing hospitality. Under the direction of Paul Fahy, himself trained as a visual artist, it clearly believes that nothing but the best is good enough. I've been twice in recent years and have been struck by the way everything on view is excellent, whether it's Blondie in the Festival Big Top or Ed Byrne performing in a room over a pub.

One of the big events in Galway this year is clearly going to be Cillian Murphy starring in a new Enda Walsh play, Misterman. Walsh is an extraordinary writer who seems to arouse mixed feelings in the UK: his plays invariably feature trapped characters and a torrent of words. But seeing his play Penelope last year in Galway, with its updated portrait of four Homeric suitors vying for the heroine's affection, I was struck by the way his work resonates on Irish soil. It mixes the mythic, the metaphoric and the slightly mad in a way that James Joyce himself – and certainly Flann O'Brien – would have appreciated.

Given the country's financial predicament, there's an understandable emphasis on Irish work this year at Galway. Artist Hughie O'Donoghue has created a massive painting in 60 parts, titled The Road. Alongside such imports as Mike Bartlett's Love, Love, Love and Edward Hall's Propeller company, there'll be new work from two radical Irish ensembles, Corcadorca and Fishamble. And the writers who'll be speaking include Colm Tóibín, Roddy Doyle and Emma Donoghue.

But a festival is much more than a collection of events. It depends heavily on the genius loci. What I can never quite get over in Galway is the feeling that you are part of a continuous 24-hour party (when do they ever sleep?) and that everyone local is involved: my wife, catching a bus to a photographic exhibition on the town's fringe, suddenly found herself caught in an animated discussion with her fellow travellers about the work of Cartier-Bresson. Festivals come and go but Galway, modest in scale but immense in ambition, is one of the finest in the crowded summer calendar. It deserves to be better known.


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May 20 2011

January 05 2011

Jack B Yeats sketch to be sold

Picture of carousel horses drawn by Jack B Yeats, brother of the poet, to be sold by Bonhams in their first Irish art sale

A tiny, jaunty sketch of two fairground carousel horses, made when the Irish artist Jack B Yeats was on his deathbed, and given by him to the matron of the hospital where he died, is to be sold for the first time by her family.

Yeats, brother of the poet, and son of the portrait painter John Yeats, loved horses, fairgrounds and circuses – a world captured in his last work, sketched in pen and ink on a piece of writing paper just two days before his death on 28 March 1957.

In 1999 Yeats became the first 20th century Irish artist to break the million pound barrier at auction, when his The Wild Ones sold at Sotheby's for £1.2m.

The poignant little drawing, just 5x4 inches, is more modestly estimated at up to £2,000, and will be sold by Bonhams in their first Irish art sale in London next month.

Jack Yeats was born in London, but his early work drew heavily on the landscape and characters of the west of Ireland, around his childhood home with his grandparents in Sligo, immortalised in vivid drawings of shops and pubs, turf diggers and postmen, published as hand coloured prints by his sisters' Cuala press.

His later more abstract style, in heavy oil impasto, won him recognition as the leading Irish artist of the 20th century. He also wrote poetry and plays, and his father not only acknowledged him as much his superior as an artist, but also believed he would be remembered as a better poet than his brother.


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November 30 2010

02mydafsoup-01

"Spending Cuts Will Hit the Vulnerable Hardest – So Find Another Way!" by Andrew Watt | Social Europe 20101130


[...]

  1. Are austerity measures – by which I mean discretionary policy changes to reduce government spending or raise revenue with the aim of reducing government borrowing and debt – necessary?
  2. If so, what should be the balance between increases on the revenue side and cuts on the spending side?
  3. Given the size of cuts on the spending side, to what extent should they be focussed on ‘welfare’ as opposed to other spending categories?
[...]
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