The Tragedy of Loyalism in Northern Ireland

Relevant even today with the whole ‘flegs’
things. Also, at the start of the video, my street is the first on the left.

How much is your vote worth?

See this UK vote calculator, to see how much candidates spend in different areas. For some, each vote is worth as much as £3.07 (close to $5/€5), and for others as little as 14 pence (~10-20 cence).

“The funding scandals which have tainted all the big parties have involved a small number of big-name donors. But how is that money being spent? We have used publicly available data to show the different amounts of money spent by candidates in the 2010 election. The numbers show that when it comes to party spending at election time, all votes are NOT created equal. People who live in marginal seats have much more money spent on them than those who live in safe seats. And some voters in Britain are valued 22 times more than others.”

Royal Lobbying in the UK, and exemption from the Freedom of Information Act

In the UK recently, senior members of the judiciary ruled that it was ‘not in the public interest’ for the public to know how Charles Mountbatten-Windsor (Prince Charles) influences government policy. The Guardian, which made a request under the Freedom of Information Act to see correspondence between Charles and government departments was refused, despite being granted in September last year. Judges in a previous tribunal ordered the government departments to publish the letters.

However, the attorney general Dominic Grieve, blocked the decision, explaining that the letters “contain remarks about public affairs which would … have had a material effect upon the willingness of the government to engage in correspondence … and would potentially have undermined his position of political neutrality.” At the same time, Lord Rogers made a public statement denouncing both the decision by Grieve to block the publication of letters, and the situation itself:

“It is either a democracy or it is not. I don’t think anybody, be it a King, Prince, or poor man, has a right to undermine decisions which have a public impact. The only way for Charles to be a public figure is for him to act publicly. It is not democratic to cover up his interventions.”

The recent High Court defence of Grieve’s veto creates a worrying precedent, that ministers can silence information that may not be favourable to them or their interests, particularly because even the High Court is not immune to an overruling. The Lord Chief Justice, whilst believing that Grieve did act in the public interest, still called the process by which he blocked the Freedom of Information request a “constitutional aberration”.

Protected: Realism, Complex Interdependence, and the Eurozone

Originally posted on 19andnerdy :

what a pleasant fucking face

This article , by Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph is wrong on so many counts that it took a lot of effort to read the whole thing.

Context time! The bill for same-sex marriages, which I discussed back in December here , and which can be read in full here , was approved by Parliament on the 5th of February. I’m not entirely sure of what this actually means – it seems like the bill still has a little while before it’s officially passed into law, but the overwhelming majority of Parliament backing it means that it’s pretty solidly on its way there. More on the news front here .

Charles Moore does not seem to agree with this particular piece of legislation, and rather than straight up coming out and saying “it’s because I’m a total homophobe”, he gives a few really bizarre…

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Callum Galloway Green :

PoliticalDeficit will be reading up on the Iranian Presidential election too!

Originally posted on An Africanist Perspective :

With elections less than a month away many in Kenya are reading the tea leaves and making predictions as to who they think will win the March 4th presidential election. Unfortunately, many of these self-styled political analysts – including the most celebrated one Mutahi Ngunyi - are merely using the raw IEBC voter registration numbers and assumptions about ethnic bloc voting.

The reality, however, is that there will be differential voter turnout in the many ethnic zones regions of the country in a manner that will have a non-trivial impact on the outcome of the election. As I highlighted in a previous post , this will be a turnout election. Everyone knows who their voters are. The swing voters will be few. And the two major contenders don’t appear to have any intention or strategy to eat into each other’s perceived strongholds.

And so just as I did last time…

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Callum Galloway Green :

Something indeed left unnoticed.

Originally posted on :

One of the keystones of the “Dying Bear” meme is the factoid that abortions outnumber births in Russia. , “When it comes to the future, most Russian women are voting with their fetus.” The only problem is that there is no causal relation between abortions and demographic health whatsoever – and for that matter it is no longer even true factually.

There were 814,149 abortions in 2012, which is less than 50% of the 1,896,263 births during the same period. As we can see from the graph above, abortion as a method of fertility control was specific to the Soviet era and has been in rapid decline since the mid-1990′s. In fact Russia’s abortion rate is now basically equivalent to America’s during the early 1980′s, a decade after Roe vs. Wade. The real story about abortions in Russia is that they have been plummeting in all its regions

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Originally posted on :

By the usual standards of Guardian reporting on Russia, this one by GQ Russia editor Andrew Ryvkin is… well, about par for the course.

Citing a recent PwC report that Russia will overtake Germany to become Europe’s biggest economy in 2030, he asks, “Should we believe them?

Well, the PwC is just repeating predictions made almost a decade earlier , which has thus far proved very accurate on the growing prominence of the BRICs in general, and of Russia in particular (regardless of repeated attempts to kick it out of that grouping, against the judgment of Jim O’Neill, the inventor of the BRICs concept himself).

So in effect Ryvkin is asking us whether we should trust a range of organizations with a great predictive record on the issue to the uninformed ravings of a Guardian hack.

Forget Russia’s very reasonable and respectable growth rates compared to the…

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How America avoiding the fiscal cliff affected the Euro

Bear in mind that this is purely a stock index, not the actual currency by itself but the jump does give a good idea of how the situation affected markets.

4 Reasons the world won’t end tomorrow

Just in case anyone was still wondering…

1. How would the Mayans know what would happen anyway?

They’re basically from the stone age, how would they know something we don’t?

2. Predictions of apocalypse are overrated.

See the wiki page if you want to find out the odds of any prediction of rapture, doomsday etc. coming true.

3. Archaeologists found a new calendar in May this year.

Breathe a sigh of relief. Another Mayan calendar has been found and there is absolutely no mention of December 21, 2012.

Hidden deep in a Guatemala jungle in the 9th-century Maya complex of Xultun, experts have found a previously unknown version of the Mayan calendar. And according to the new find, Earth is going to be around for a very long time.

William Saturno of Boston University, who is leader author in the study told Science Magazine, said: “The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue, that 7,000 years from now, things would be exactly like this. We keep looking for endings. The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It’s an entirely different mindset,” Saturno said.

4. Vladimir Putin said so

As frenzied doomsayers around the world prepare for the apocalypse on December, 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin put his trust in science, saying at a yearly Q&A that the earth won’t end for another 4.5 billion years, when the sun goes out.

“It will all end in 4.5 billion years, the reaction will stop and the Sun will turn into a White Dwarf… I don’t believe the world will end this year,” President Putin said during the press conference.

Originally posted on :

Urban designer Peter Calthorpe is working to make the country’s explosive growth more sustainable.

[cnnmoney-byline src="By Brian Dumaine, senior editor-at-large"]

Peter Calthorpe, here in his Berkeley office, believes in more-human-scale cities.

Peter Calthorpe, here in his Berkeley office, believes in more-human-scale cities.

FORTUNE — AS china modernizes its agricultural sector over the next 25 years, the number of its farmers will shrink dramatically. And many of those workers will move to cities. Overall, it’s expected that China will need to house some 300 million additional people in urban areas. To put that in perspective: Providing housing for that many people is roughly the equivalent of building from scratch all the cities and towns in the U.S. and doing it in only a quarter of a century. The price tag for all this construction is an estimated $160 trillion — more than 10 times the size of America’s GDP.

This unprecedented demographic shift presents the Chinese with a chance to rethink their…

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Callum Galloway Green :

Discussion relevant to 11/11, Remembrance day in the United Kingdom.

Originally posted on 19andnerdy :

This was written by a friend of mine:

British people are well-known for their aversion to national symbols, almost as much as the Germans. Flag-waving is strictly limited to sports and the occasional royal event, and even then, a lot of people unknowingly flaunt it upside-down or back-to-front. There’s none of this Scandinavian miniature flag nonsense, where personal celebrations and national flags collide in confusing fashion – British birthday cakes are decorated with those silver balls that don’t really taste of anything, and British Christmas trees are crowned with angels haphazardly made out of cardboard, dry pasta shapes, and liberal splashings of glitter-glue. As far as most Brits are concerned, the personal and the private are no domain for the patriotic. It makes us uncomfortable.

It’s not just flags, crowns, and bulldogs, though. I’ve realised that we’ve slowly acquired another national symbol, which is happily paraded around by almost…

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Callum Galloway Green :

This is telling..

Originally posted on CNN Political Ticker :

(CNN) – Hours before the polls closed Tuesday, GOP nominee Mitt Romney told reporters on his plane that he’s so confident in a win he’s only prepared a victory speech.

“I’ve only written one speech at this point,” Romney said, adding the text of that address was 1,118 words long.

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Originally posted on :

Recently, following the Congressional hearings on the attack on the Benghazi consulate in which Ambassador Stevens was killed, Patriotslog wrote an article about the hearings in which we stated that it appeared the White House and the Executive branch were either incompetent, or orchestrating a cover-up. While incompetence is always up for debate with any elected official, in this situation, Patriotslog was wrong. Now it is time to eat our crow.

It has become apparent that there was no cover-up orchestrated. The failures from the administration to indicate that this was a terrorist attack appear to stem from intelligence failures, and not from any fault of the administration. The President took two weeks to indicate that this was a terrorist attack, but it is now apparent that, while slow, the delay was not entirely his fault.

Side note–I know the President said he called this an act of terror in…

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Callum Galloway Green :

This is a *repost* from the Wolf Den.

Originally posted on :

Russia and China are catching a lot of heat for preventing UN Security Council action on the Syrian Civil War, and sure, the other members of the P5 seem marginally more likely to want to see something done to bring the killing, the displacement, and the threat of contagion to a halt. Quite apart from whether it *will* act, though, I think it’s worth asking what the UNSC could actually do to bring an end to the fighting. To do that, we need to know something about the war’s likely course in the absence of any intervention and, second, what the UN could conceivably do in terms of changing that trajectory.

I’m going to argue, below the jump, that the UN’s “best” hope is to alter the course of the fighting, ensuring one side’s victory, rather than attempt to put together an unworkable settlement short of military victory.

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Callum Galloway Green :

Pretty relevant to the UK right now. I personally recommend this blog.

Originally posted on :

Today, I want to talk about freedom of speech. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

This story came up a couple of weeks ago. It involved the Atheist Society at Reading University and their display of a pineapple named after You-Know-Who.

“Among the material displayed on our stall was a pineapple. We labelled this pineapple ‘Mohammed’, to encourage discussion about blasphemy, religion, and liberty, as well as to celebrate the fact that we live in a country in which free speech is protected, and where it is lawful to call a pineapple by whatever name one chooses.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we were informed by a member of RUSU staff that there had been complaints about the pineapple, despite the fact that no complaints had been made at any point to anybody on the stall. Our commitment to freedom of expression meant that we refused to…

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So WikiLeaks have just released 32,476 Syrian government emails. Whilst I don’t have the time to read and analyse them like a full-time journalist might I did have enough time to see some – one of which was spam. I thought it was funny.

Media coverage of Pussy Riot is counter-productive

Did a piece for if anyone’s interested.

Thomas Jefferson is one of the most famous Republican thinkers. Known for being the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and as the third President of the United States, he is a fitting start to a Spotlight post.

In the UK, Republicans tend to be linked with either the IRA or left wing extremists. In America, the word is inseparable with the political party of the same name. In this post, and hopefully others later, I shall be looking at famous/infamous Republicans and their views.