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Distribution of Sinn Féin Surpluses in GE2020

March 9, 2020 1 comment

Distribution of Sinn Féin Surpluses  in GE2020

(From  Opinion Piece in Irish Times, March 9, by Jim O’Leary Economist)

Distribution of  110,000 Sinn Féin votes across 27 Constituencies where no remaining Sinn Féin candidate was available

Dublin%                   Countrywide%

Solidarity/PBP/I4C/Socialist Party                                48                                  33

Independents                                                                   18                                   23

Fianna Fáil                                                                         5                                      11

Greens                                                                                8                                      10

Social Democrats                                                             12                                      7

Labour Party                                                                       5                                       ?

Fine Gael                                                                             2                                         5


Categories: Uncategorized


IRISH GOVERNMENT MUST ACT NOW TO STOP PEOPLE ARRIVING IN THE ISLAND OF IRELAND CARRYING CORONA VIRUS.  People returning Home to Ireland from Virus Blackspots such as Northern Italy,  must  be quarantined for 14 Days

Singapore and Taiwan have done it successfully but Ireland is Failing

There is no screening for the Virus at Irish  Airports!


Please read the articles at the Link!!!


RTE  11 am 08/03/2020 

Czech PM calls for Italy to ban all foreign travel TO REDUCE THE SPREADING OF CORONA VIRUS



Sunday Business Post To-Day, March 8

Irish health authorities predict 1.9m people will fall ill with coronavirus

Up to 50 per cent of cases projected in a three-week period, while the new figures raise fears of intense pressure on health service

Susan Mitchel,  Deputy Editor and Health Editor, Sunday Business Post

Health authorities are basing their figures on modelling that is almost complete and suggests that 40 per cent of the population will be sick with Covid-19.

Up to 1.9 million people in Ireland could be infected and become sick with the coronavirus, putting immense strain on the health service, senior health officials believe.

Health authorities expect half of this figure to become infected during a short three-week concentrated burst, creating huge pressure on hospitals.

Health authorities are basing their figures on modelling that is almost complete and suggests that 40 per cent of the population will be sick with Covid-19. The Business Post has learned that the modelling suggests that 30 per cent could be sick in a best case scenario, while 50 per cent would be sick in a worst case scenario.

The Department of Health has said the country is still in “containment” mode, but there is real concern about what the official projections show.

Last week, intensive care doctors in Italy warned their international counterparts that 10 per cent of confirmed cases required treatment in intensive care units (ICU).

Italy has an older population than Ireland, but Ireland also has a severe shortage of intensive care beds.

The country has 5.2 intensive care beds per 100,000 population, while the European average is 11.5.

Professor Josef Kesecioglu, who is president of the the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) wrote an alert to members across Europe and included the written message from doctors in Italy.

In their letter, which was dated March 4, the doctors said 10 per cent of all patients who tested positive were being admitted to ICUs.

“We have seen a very high number of ICU admissions, almost entirely due to severe hypoxic respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation,” they said.

Should that same scenario play out in Ireland, with 10 per cent requiring ICU care, the system would be utterly overwhelmed, according to one leading intensive care doctor who did not want to be identified.

Studies suggest that 80 per cent of people infected have mild disease and will recover. In about 15 per cent of cases, the virus causes severe diseases including pneumonia.

About 5 per cent of patients have critical diseases including respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Health officials have repeatedly stressed that the public has a huge role to play in trying to limit the spread of the virus, by following the advice given by doctors, the chief medical officer and the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Various figures have been published around the fatality rate from Covid-19.

Last week, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the World Health Organisation said the WHO had been very careful in its language around reporting mortality. She said this was difficult to do at the start of an outbreak “without knowing the full extent of infection”.

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer with the Department of Health, said on Friday that Ireland was still in containment phase, but that this was a “rapidly evolving situation”.

“Most people who become infected with Covid-19 experience a mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for some. However, this will need a national effort. Every individual needs to be aware of how to protect their own health and the health of others.

He encouraged people to take protective measures such as regular hand washing with soap and water; maintaining at least one metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and to practise good cough and sneeze hygiene.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said last week that although they cannot be sure what proportion of the population could get infected, it will not go over 80 per cent.

He said that around 1 per cent of people who get this virus “might end up dying”, but that the death rate varies according to age group. The figures will be much lower in young people and those who have no pre-existing conditions, but Whitty insisted that even for higher risk groups, the “great majority” will survive.



RTE NEWS:Quarter of Italians on lockdown as Italian Govt approves quarantine

(It appears that flights from Milan continue to arrive in Dublin. The Italian travel lockdown may apply to travel within Italy only.  The Irish government is responsible for the safety of Irish Citizens within Ireland)

Updated / Sunday, 8 Mar 2020 09:09

The new measures say people should not enter or leave Lombardy, as well as 14 provinces in four other regions

Millions of people have been placed under forced quarantine in northern Italy as the government approved drastic measures in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus.

The unprecedented restrictions, which will impact some 16 million people and stay in force until 3 April, were signed into law overnight by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

The new measures say people should not enter or leave Lombardy, Italy’s richest region, as well as 14 provinces in four other regions, including the cities of Venice, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini.

“There will be no movement in or out of these areas, or within them, unless for proven, work-related reasons, emergencies or health reasons,” Mr Conte told a news conference in the middle of the night after hours of confusion over his plans.

Milan is among a whole host of cities that will remain under lockdown until 3 April

“We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” he added.

However, it was not immediately clear how fiercely the order would be policed and at first light this morning, flights appeared to be operating normally out of Milan’s two airports and Venice airport, while rail operators were still selling train tickets.

According to the decree, all museums, gyms, cultural centres, ski resorts and swimming pools will be shut in the targeted zones, while leave was cancelled for health workers as Italy’s hospitals sag under the pressure of the virus.

Restaurants and bars will be allowed to open from 6am to 6pm and only if they can guarantee that customers are at least one metre apart.

The government enacted the draft just hours after officials had announced that the number of coronavirus cases had leapt by more than 1,200 in a 24-hour period – the biggest daily rise since the epidemic began in the country two weeks ago.

Deaths due to the infectious virus had also risen by 36 to 233, while the number of patients in intensive care climbed to 567, up 23% from the day before.

Of the 5,883 Italians originally infected, 589 have fully recovered.


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Corona Virus: The Political and Economic Implications

Corona Virus and Economic Slump   Update by Michael Roberts, Marxist Ecnomist – Links to othe relevant articles further down

« The ’emerging market’ slump



According to AFP estimates, some 1.7 billion people across the world are now living under some form of lockdown as a result of the coronavirus. That’s almost a quarter of the world population.  The world economy has seen nothing like this.

Nearly all economic forecasts for global GDP in 2020 are for a contraction of 1-3%, as bad if not worse than in the Great Recession of 2008-9.  And forecasts for the major economies for this quarter ending this week and the next quarter are coming in at an annualised drop of anything between 20-50%! The economic activity indicators (called PMIs), which are surveys of company views on what they are doing, are recording all-time lows of contraction for March.

US composite PMI to March 2020

This is all due to the lockdown of businesses globally and isolation of workers in their homes. Could the lockdowns have been avoided so that this drastic ‘supply shock’ would not have been necessary in order to cope with the pandemic?  I think it probably could.  If governments had acted immediately with the right measures when COVID-19 first appeared, the lockdowns could have been averted.

What were these right measures?  What we now know is that everybody over the age of 70 years and/or with medical conditions should have gone into self-isolation.  There should have been mass testing of everybody regularly and anybody infected quarantined for up to two weeks.  If this had been done from the beginning, then there would have been fewer deaths, hospitalisations and a quicker dying out of the virus.  So lockdowns could probably have been avoided.

But testing and isolation was not done at the beginning in China.  At first there was denial and a cover-up of the virus risk.  By the time the Chinese authorities acted properly with testing and isolation, Wuhan was inundated and a lockdown had to be applied.

At least the Chinese had the excuse that this was a new virus unknown to humans and its level of infection, spread and mortality was not known before. But there is no excuse for governments in the major capitalist economies. They had time to prepare and act.  Italy left it too late to apply testing and isolation so that the lockdown there was closing the doors after the virus had bolted.  Their health system is now overloaded and can hardly cope.

There were some countries that did adopt mass testing and effective isolation.  South Korea did both; and Japan where 90% of the population wore masks and gloves and washed, appears to have curbed the impact of the pandemic through effective self-isolation without having a lockdown.

Similarly, in one small Italian village amid the pandemic, Vo Euganeo, which actually had Italy’s first virus death, they tested all 3000 residents and quarantined the 3% affected, even though most had no symptoms.  Through isolation and quarantine, the lockdown there lasted only two weeks.

At the other extreme, the UK and the US have taken ages to ramp up testing (which is still inadequate) and get the vulnerable to self-isolate.  In the US, the federal government is still not going for a state-wide lockdown.

Why did the G7 governments and others fail to act?  As Mike Davis explains, the first and foremost reason was that the health systems of the major economies were in no position to act.  Over the last 30 years, public health systems in Europe have been decimated and privatised. In the US, the dominant private sector has slashed services in order to boost profits.  According to the American Hospital Association, the number of in-patient hospital beds declined by an extraordinary 39% between 1981 and 1999. The purpose was to raise profits by increasing ‘census’ (the number of occupied beds). But management’s goal of 90% occupancy meant that hospitals no longer had the capacity to absorb patient influx during epidemics and medical emergencies.

As a result, there are only 45,000 ICU beds available to deal with the projected flood of serious and critical corona cases. (By comparison, South Koreans have more than three times more beds available per thousand people than Americans.) According to an investigation by USA Today “only eight states would have enough hospital beds to treat the 1 million Americans 60 and over who could become ill with COVID-19.

Local and state health departments have 25% less staff today than they did before Black Monday 12 years ago. Over the last decade, moreover, the CDC’s budget has fallen 10% in real terms. Under Trump, the fiscal shortfalls have only been exacerbated. The New York Times recently reported that “21 percent of local health departments reported reductions in budgets for the 2017 fiscal year.”  Trump also closed the White House pandemic office, a directorate established by Obama after the 2014 Ebola outbreak to ensure a rapid and well-coordinated national response to new epidemics.

The for-profit nursing home industry, which warehouses 1.5 million elderly Americans, is highly competitive and is based on low wages, understaffing and illegal cost-cutting. Tens of thousands die every year from long-term care facilities’ neglect of basic infection control procedures and from governments’ failure to hold management accountable for what can only be described as deliberate manslaughter. Many of these homes find it cheaper to pay fines for sanitary violations than to hire additional staff and provide them with proper training.

The Life Care Center, a nursing home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, is “one of the worst staffed in the state” and the entire Washington nursing home system “as the most underfunded in the country—an absurd oasis of austere suffering in a sea of tech money.” (Union organiser).  Public health officials overlooked the crucial factor that explains the rapid transmission of the disease from Life Care Center to nine other nearby nursing homes: “Nursing home workers in the priciest rental market in America universally work multiple jobs, usually at multiple nursing homes.” Authorities failed to find out the names and locations of these second jobs and thus lost all control over the spread of COVID-19.

Then there is big pharma.  Big pharma does little research and development of new antibiotics and antivirals. Of the 18 largest US pharmaceutical companies, 15 have totally abandoned the field. Heart medicines, addictive tranquilizers and treatments for male impotence are profit leaders, not the defences against hospital infections, emergent diseases and traditional tropical killers. A universal vaccine for influenza—that is to say, a vaccine that targets the immutable parts of the virus’s surface proteins—has been a possibility for decades, but never deemed profitable enough to be a priority.

I have argued in previous posts that COVID-19 was not a bolt of the blue.  Such pandemics have been forecast well in advance by epideomologists, but nothing was done because it costs money.  Now it’s going to cost a lot more.

The global slump is here.  But how long and how deep will it be?  Most forecasts talk about a short, sharp drop followed by a quick recovery.  Will that happen?  It depends on how quickly the pandemic can be controlled and fade away – at least for this year.  On 8 April, the lockdown in Wuhan will be lifted as there are no new cases.  So, from the emergence of virus there in January, it will be about three months, with a lockdown of over two months.  It also seems that the peak of the pandemic may have been reached in Italy which has been in full lockdown for only two weeks.  So perhaps in another month or two, Italy will be freed.  But other countries like the UK are just entering a lockdown phase, with others still facing exponential growth in cases which may require lockdowns.

So it seems that an end to the global supply shock is unlikely before June, probably much later.  Of course, the production collapse could be reversed earlier if governments decide not to have lockdowns or to end them early.  The Trump administration is already hinting at lifting any lockdown in the next 15 days ‘to get the economy going’ (at the expense of more deaths etc); but many state governors may not go along with that.

Even if economies do bounce back in the second half of 2020 as the lockdowns are ended, there will still be a global slump.  And it is a vain hope that recovery will be quick and sharp in the second half of this year.  There are two reasons to doubt that. First, the global economy was already slipping into recession before the pandemic hit.  Japan was in recession; The Eurozone was close to it and even US growth had slowed to under 2% a year.

And many large so-called emerging economies like Mexico, Argentina and South Africa were already contracting. Indeed, capital was flooding out of the global south to the north, a process than has now accelerated with the pandemic to record levels.  With the collapse in energy and industrial metal prices, many commodity-based emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Ecuador etc) face a huge drop in export revenues.  And this time, unlike 2008, China will not quickly return to its old levels of investment, production and trade (especially as the trade war tariffs with the US remain in place).  For the whole year, China’s real GDP growth could be as low as 2%, compared to over 6% last year.

With the collapse in energy and industrial metal prices, many commodity-based emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Ecuador etc) face a huge drop in export revenues.  And this time, unlike 2008, China will not quickly return to its old levels of investment, production and trade (especially as the trade war tariffs with the US remain in place).  For the whole year, China’s real GDP growth could be as low as 2%, compared to over 6% last year.

Second, stock markets are jumping back because of the recent Fed credit injections and the expected huge US Congress fiscal measures.  But this slump will not be avoided by central bank largesse or the fiscal packages being planned. Once a slump gets under way, incomes collapse and unemployment rises fast. That has a cascade or multiplier effect through the economy, particularly for non-financial companies in the capitalist sector.  This will lead to a sequence of bankruptcies and closures.

And corporate balance sheets are dangerously frail. Across the major economies, concerns have been rising over mounting corporate debt. In the United States, against the backdrop of decades-long access to cheap money, non-financial corporations have seen their debt burdens more than double from $3.2 trillion in 2007 to $6.6 trillion in 2019.

A recent paper by Joseph Baines and Sandy Brian Hager starkly reveals all.   For decades, the capitalist sector has switched from investing in productive assets and moved to investing in financial assets – or ‘fictitious capital’ as Marx called it. Stock buybacks and dividend payments to shareholders have been the order of the day rather than re-investing profits into new technology to boost labour productivity. This particularly applied to larger US companies.

As a mirror, large companies have reduced capital expenditure as a share of revenues since the 1980s.  Interestingly, smaller companies engaged less in ‘financial engineering’ and continued to raise their investment.  But remember the bulk of investment comes from the large companies.

The vast swathe of small US firms is in trouble.  For them, profit margins have been falling.  As a result, the overall profitability of US capital has fallen, particularly since the late 1990s.  Baines and Hager argue that “the dynamics of shareholder capitalism have pushed the firms in the lower echelons of the US corporate hierarchy into a state of financial distress.”  As a result, corporate debt has risen, not only in absolute dollar terms, but also relative to revenue, particularly for the smaller companies.

Everything has been held together because the interest on corporate debt has fallen significantly, keeping debt servicing costs down.  Even so, the smaller companies are paying out interest at a much higher level than the large companies. Since the 1990s, their debt servicing costs have been more or less steady, but are nearly twice as high as for the top ten percent.

But the days of cheap credit could be over, despite the Fed’s desperate attempt to keep borrowing costs down.  Corporate debt yields have rocketed during this pandemic crisis.  A wave of debt defaults is now on the agenda.  That could “send shockwaves through already-jittery financial markets, providing a catalyst for a wider meltdown.”

Even if the lockdowns last only a few months through to the summer, that contraction could see hundreds of small firms go under and even some big fish too.  The idea that the major economies can have a V-shaped recovery seems much less likely than a L-shaped one.


Disease, Debt and Economic Depression

By Michael Roberts     Marxist Economist

As I write the coronavirus epidemic (not yet declared pandemic) continues to spread.  Now there are more new cases outside China than within, with a particular acceleration in South Korea, Japan and Iran.  Up to now more than 80,000 people infected in China alone, where the outbreak originated. The number of people who have been confirmed to have died as a result of the virus has now surpassed 3,200.

As I said in my first post on the outbreak, “this infection is characterized by human-to-human transmission and an apparent two-week incubation period before the sickness hits, so the infection will likely continue to spread across the globe.”  Even though more people die each year from complications after suffering influenza, and for that matter from suicides or traffic accidents, what is scary about the infection is that the death rate is much higher than for flu, perhaps 30 times higher.  So if it spreads across the world, it will eventually kill more people.

And as I said in that first post, “The coronavirus outbreak may fade like others before it, but it is very likely that there will be more and possible even deadlier pathogens ahead.” That’s because the most likely cause of the outbreak was the transmission of the virus from animals, where it has probably been hosted for thousands of years, to humans through use of intensive industrial farming and the extension of exotic wildlife meat markets.

COVID-19 is more virulent and deadly than the annual influenza viruses that kill many more vulnerable people each year.  But if not contained, it will eventually match that death rate and appear in a new form each year.  However, if you just take precautions (hand washing, not travelling or working etc) you should be okay, especially if you are healthy, young and well-fed.  But if you are old, have lots of health issues and live in bad conditions, but you still must travel and go to work, then you are at a much greater risk of serious illness or death.  COVID-19 is not an equal-opportunity killer.

But the illnesses and deaths that come from COVID-19 is not the worry of the strategists of capital.  They are only concerned with damage to stock markets, profits and the capitalist economy.  Indeed, I have heard it argued in the executive suites of finance capital that if lots of old, unproductive people die off, that could boost productivity because the young and productive will survive in greater numbers!

That’s a classic early 19th century Malthusian solution to any crisis in capitalism.  Unfortunately, for the followers of the reactionary parson Malthus, his theory that crises in capitalism are caused by overpopulation has been demolished, given the experience of the last 200 years.  Nature may be involved in the virus epidemic, but the number of deaths depends on human action – the social structure of an economy; the level of medical infrastructure and resources and the policies of governments.

It is no accident that China, having been initially caught on the hop with this outbreak, was able to mobilise massive resources and impose draconian shut-down conditions on the population that has eventually brought the virus spread under control.  Things do not look so controlled in countries like Korea or Japan, or probably the US, where resources are less planned and governments want people to stay at work for capital, not avoid getting ill.  And poor, rotten regimes like Iran appear to have lost control completely.

No, the real worry for the strategists of capital is whether this epidemic could be the trigger for a major recession or slump, the first since the Great Recession of 2008-9.  That’s because the epidemic hit just at a time when the major capitalist economies were already looking very weak.  The world capitalist economy has already slowed to a near ‘stall speed’ of about 2.5% a year.  The US is growing at just 2% a year, Europe and Japan at just 1%; and the major so-called emerging economies of Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Argentina, South Africa and Russia are basically static.  The huge economies of India and China have also slowed significantly in the last year.  And now the shutdown from COVID-19 has pushed the Chinese economy into a ravine.

The OECD – which represents the planet’s 36 most advanced economies – is now warning of the possibility that the impact of COVID-19 would halve global economic growth this year from its previous forecast.  The OECD lowered its central growth forecast from 2.9 per cent to 2.4 per cent, but said a “longer lasting and more intensive coronavirus outbreak” could slash growth to 1.5 per cent in 2020.  Even under its central forecast, the OECD warned that global growth could shrink in the first quarter. Chinese growth is expected to fall below 5% this year, down from 6.1% last year – which was already the weakest growth rate in the world’s second largest economy in almost 30 years. The effect of widespread factory and business closures in China alone would cut 0.5 percentage points from global growth as it reduced its main forecast to 2.4 per cent in the quarter to end-March.

Elsewhere, Italy endured its 17th consecutive monthly decline in manufacturing activity in February. And the Italian government announced plans to inject €3.6bn into the economy. IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index for Italian manufacturing edged down by 0.2 points to 48.7 in February. A reading below 50 indicates that the majority of companies surveyed are reporting a shrinking of activity. And the survey was completed on February 21, before the coronavirus outbreak intensified in Italy. There was a similar contraction of factory activity in France, where the manufacturing PMI fell by 1.3 points to 49.8. However, manufacturing activity increased for the eurozone as a whole in February, as the PMI for the bloc rose by 1.3 points to 49.2, but still under 50.

The US, so far, has avoided a serious downturn in consumer spending, partly because the epidemic has not spread widely in America.  Maybe the US economy can avoid a slump from COVID-19.  But the signs are still worrying. The latest activity index for services in February showed that the sector showed a contraction for the first time in six years and the overall indicator (graph below) also went into negative territory.

Outside the OECD area, there was more bad news on growth. South Africa’s Absa Manufacturing PMI fell to 44.3 in February of 2020 from 45.2 in the previous month. The reading pointed to the seventh consecutive month of contraction in factory activity and at the quickest pace since August 2009. And China’s capitalist sector reported its lowest level of activity since records began. The Caixin China General Manufacturing PMI plunged to 40.3 in February 2020, the lowest level since the survey began in April 2004.

The IMF too has reduced its already low economic growth forecast for 2020.  “Experience suggests that about one-third of the economic losses from the disease will be direct costs: from loss of life, workplace closures, and quarantines. The remaining two-thirds will be indirect, reflecting a retrenchment in consumer confidence and business behavior and a tightening in financial markets.”  So “under any scenario, global growth in 2020 will drop below last year’s level. How far it will fall, and for how long, is difficult to predict, and would depend on the epidemic, but also on the timeliness and effectiveness of our actions.”

One mainstream economic forecaster, Capital Economics, cut its growth forecast by 0.4 percentage points to 2.5 per cent for 2020, in what the IMF considers recession territory. And Jennifer McKeown, head of economic research at Capital Economics, cautioned that if the outbreak became a global pandemic, the effect “could be as bad as 2009, when world GDP fell by 0.5 per cent.” And a global recession in the first half of this year is “suddenly looking like a distinct possibility”, said Erik Nielsen, chief economist at UniCredit.

In a study of a global flu pandemic, Oxford University professors estimated that a four-week closure of schools — almost exactly what Japan has introduced — would knock 0.6 per cent off output in one year as parents would have to stay off work to look after children. In a 2006 paper, Warwick McKibbin and Alexandra Sidorenko of the Australian National University estimated that a moderate to severe global flu pandemic with a mortality rate up to 1.2 per cent would knock up to 6 per cent off advanced economy GDP in the year of any outbreak.

The Institute of International Finance (IIF), the research agency funded by international banks and financial institutions, announced that: “We’re downgrading China growth this year from 5.9% to 3.7% & the US from 2.0% to 1.3%. Rest of the world is shaky. Germany struggling to retool autos, Japan weighed down by 2019 tax hike. EM has been weak for a while. Global growth could approach 1.0% in 2020, weakest since 2009.”

What are the policy reactions of the official authorities to avoid a serious slump?  The US Federal Reserve stepped in to cut its policy interest rate at an emergency meeting. Canada followed suit and others will follow.  The IMF and World Bank is making available about $50 billion through its rapid-disbursing emergency financing facilities for low income and emerging market countries that could potentially seek support. Of this, $10 billion is available at zero interest for the poorest members through the Rapid Credit Facility.

This may have some effect, but cuts in interest rates and cheap credit are more likely to end up being used to boost the stock market with yet more ‘fictitious capital’ – and indeed stock markets have made a limited recovery after falling more than 10% from peaks.  The problem is that this recession is not caused by ‘a lack of demand’, as Keynesian theory would have it, but by a ‘supply-side shock’ – namely the loss of production, investment and trade. Keynesian/monetarist solutions won’t work, because interest rates are already near zero and consumers have not stopped spending – on the contrary. Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor of the Bank of England, said that since coronavirus was “a pure supply shock there is not much we can do about it”.

And as British Marxist economist Chris Dillow argues, the coronavirus epidemic is really just an extra factor keeping the major capitalist economies dysfunctional and stagnating. He lays the main cause of the stagnation on the long-term decline in the profitability of capital. “basic theory (and common sense) tells us that there should be a link between yields on financial assets and those on real ones, so low yields on bonds should be a sign of low yields on physical capital. And they are.”  He identifies ‘three big facts’: the slowdown in productivity growth; the vulnerability to crisis; and low-grade jobs. And as he says, “Of course, all these trends have long been discussed by Marxists: a falling rate of profit; monopoly leading to stagnation; proneness to crisis; and worse living conditions for many people. And there is plenty of evidence for them.”  Indeed, as any regular reader of this blog will know.

And then there is debt.  In this decade of record low interest rates (even negative), companies have been on a borrowing binge.  This is something that I have banged on about in this blog ad nauseam.  Huge debt, particularly in the corporate sector, is a recipe for a serious crash if the profitability of capital were to drop sharply.

Now John Plender in the Financial Times has taken up my argument.  He pointed out, according to the IIF, the ratio of global debt to gross domestic product hit an all-time high of over 322 per cent in the third quarter of 2019, with total debt reaching close to $253tn. “The implication, if the virus continues to spread, is that any fragilities in the financial system have the potential to trigger a new debt crisis.”

The huge rise in US non-financial corporate debt is particularly striking.  This has enabled the very large global tech companies to buy up their own shares and issue huge dividends to shareholders while piling up cash abroad to avoid tax.  But it has also enabled the small and medium sized companies in the US, Europe and Japan, which have not been making any profits worth speaking of for years to survive in what has been called a ‘zombie state’; namely making just enough to pay their workers, buy inputs and service their (rising) debt, but without having anything left over for new investment and expansion.

Plender remarks that a recent OECD report says that, at the end of December 2019, the global outstanding stock of non-financial corporate bonds reached an all-time high of $13.5tn, double the level in real terms against December 2008. “The rise is most striking in the US, where the Fed estimates that corporate debt has risen from $3.3tn before the financial crisis to $6.5tn last year. Given that Google parent Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft alone held net cash at the end of last year of $328bn, this suggests that much of the debt is concentrated in old economy sectors where many companies are less cash generative than Big Tech. Debt servicing is thus more burdensome.”

The IMF’s latest global financial stability report amplifies this point with a simulation showing that a recession half as severe as 2009 would result in companies with $19tn of outstanding debt having insufficient profits to service that debt.

So if sales should collapse, supply chains be disrupted and profitability fall further, these heavily indebted companies could keel over.  That would hit credit markets and the banks and trigger a financial collapse.  As I have shown on several occasions, the profitability of capital in the major economies has been on a downward trend (see graph above from Penn World tables 9.1).

And the mass of global profits was also beginning to contract before COVID-19 exploded onto the scene (my graph below from corporate profits data of six main economies, Q4 2019 partly estimated).  So even if the virus does not trigger a slump, the conditions for any significant recovery are just not there.

Eventually this virus is going to wane (although it might stay in human bodies forever mutating into an annual upsurge in winter cases).  The issue is whether the ‘supply shock’ is so great that, even though economies start to recover as people get back to work, travel and trade resumes, the damage has been so deep and the time taken so long to recover, that this won’t be a quick one-quarter, V-shaped economic cycle, but a proper U-shaped slump of six to 12 months.

Articles from Business Post on Corona Virus and World Economic Slump


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Why Did Sinn Féin Surge to be The Most Popular Party in Ireland in General Election 2020?

February 13, 2020 1 comment

Analysis: Irish General Election 2020

Why Did Sinn Féin Surge to be The Most Popular Party in the 26-Counties ?

Results :Seats FF 38 ,SF 37, FG 35. Green 12, Labour 6, Social Democrats 6, Solidarity-People before Profit 5, Others 21

Share of Popular Vote %

 Sinn Féin  24.5  Fianna Fáil 22.2  Fine Gael 20.9   Green 7.1    Labour 4.4    Social Democrats 2.9  Solidarity/People Before Profit  2.6  Aontú 1.9  Independents/others 13.5 

Lowest Ever Total  for  Two Main Conservative Parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael

FF+FG=  43.1%

(Sinn Féin is the Largest nationalist party in the 6-counties which are under British rule)

Just nine months earlier Sinn Féin lost half its seats on local Authorities and two its 3 seats in the European Parliament in the 26 counties.!

In the previous general election (2016), Sinn Féin got 13.8% of the popular vote. In general election 2020 this grew to 24.5%. For the first time in history, the Sinn Féin vote exceeded that of each of the two main capitalist parties.

While Sinn Féin candidates explained their policies to the public clearly and competently during the election, no change in the policy or orientation of Sinn Féin since 2016 was significant enough to explain the large increase in its vote share.

Parliamentary elections in Ireland are carried out through proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

Sinn Féin had the largest proportion of the popular vote but did not stand second candidates in most constituencies several of whom would also have been elected. Clearly Sinn Féin did not expect the extent to which its vote share actually increased!

Sinn Féin recommended to supporters to transfer left. Most Sinn Féin voters would probably have transferred to the left in any event.  Except Richard Boyd-Barret , all Solidarity-People before Profit candidates and several Green candidates, Social Democrat and left independents were elected through the distribution of Sinn Féin surplus votes in addition to their own first preference votes! Seamus Healy TD (Workers and Unemployed Action) lost his seat in Co. Tipperary. Despite his ceaseless work and campaigning on health, housing, equality etc he was outpolled by Sinn Féin. His transfers elected Martin Browne, Sinn Féin, who was short of the quota (and unfortunately had no surplus to distribute!) Because trade union leaders failed to act on Seamus’ persistent calls for national action on housing and health, huge layers of the population felt they needed a big party like Sinn Féin to force urgent change through parliament. The compliance of trade union leaders with austerity governments created a political vacancy for Sinn Féin. The Labour Party, to which the largest trade union and some other unions are affiliated, was reduced to 6 seats from seven and a paltry vote share of 4.4%.

Labour had already lost  30 seats in the Irish General election of 2016 because, in government with Fine Gael since 2011,  it had participated in vicious attacks on peoples living standards.

Likewise the failure of Trade Union Leaders to stand up to the very right wing First Free State Government in the twenties created a vacancy for Fianna Fáil founder, Devalera, to sweep to power in 1932.

  The non-availability of Labour, as a vehicle of protest meant that huge layers of the population believed that the only vehicle available to express their dissatisfaction was Sinn Féin. Unlike imperialist European countries, Ireland with its history as a colony,  has a traditional left leaning  nationalist party. Working class nationalist communities in the 6-counties have adopted SF as their representatives for decades. In this election, whole working class communities in the 26-counties adopted Sinn Féin as a vehicle to punish the two main capitalist parties for their oppressive austerity policies. Many on middle incomes also voted for Sinn Féin.

The blatant inequality in the distribution of the fruits of capitalist recovery provoked a major popular backlash against the government and the main “opposition” party which was keeping it in power. Historically, great Marxists such as Trotsky. have pointed out that workers commonly go on the offensive, not at the depth of capitalist recession, but as capitalist recovery becomes established. Return to work, even at unsatisfactory wages, restores workers confidence. Relative scarcity of labour strengthens the bargaining power of workers. This can lead to waves of strikes including “unofficial strikes, if capitulatory trade union leaderships attempt to block action.  The inevitable inequality in an economic recovery under capitalism is highly provocative. This was paricularly so  extreme neo-liberal policies of

Sinn Féin and the left should launch major national demonstrations immediately to force change on health and housing as sought by Sinn Féin. It is impossible to do so through joint government with parties committed to capitalism and protecting the rich . To attempt to do so will merely compromise Sinn Féin, destroy its popular support and demoralize the most militant sections of workers and youth.

Former Labour Party leader Dick Spring once got more than 30 Labour seats.! There was no Labour candidate standing in his constituency of Kerry in this election!Major national demonstrations and strike action ,where appropriate, to end the plight of desperate people is the road to travel. Coalition government with capitalist parties and a governmental road will lead to disaster!



Where are the unions?  Eddie Conlon

Where Are The Unions?

“I believe that work should be undertaken with others who genuinely believe themselves to be of the left and who consider themselves to be as committed to the ideal of egalitarian society envisaged by James Connolly and James Larkin. We should not be sectarian about it. We should keep our options to work with progressive people and parties of the left of centre in order to achieve the ultimate ambition envisaged by the Labour Party for a government of, and for, the mass of working people and dispossessed of our country.”

So says Jack O Connor, former President of SIPTU, in February. But it was February 2015. Labour were in government with FG and had over 30 seats. He had high hopes for the future but was, like many union bureaucrats, completely out of touch with the mood in the working class and the growing contempt of Labour. Although his call for a left government was correct he didn’t seem to grasp the ridiculousness of doing so from the belly of a government dominated by FG. Labour were almost destroyed in 2016. Now they are in an even worse position and on the verge of obliteration. The Greens and Social Democrats should take note.

One reason for the surge to Sinn Fein, which some are finding hard to understand, is the absolute failure of the “traditional representatives” of the working class , Labour and the unions, to mount any real defense against austerity or address the real issues facing workers such as housing. What has happened is a riot at the ballot box with huge number of workers looking for real change. They have had enough of the housing and health crisis, poor public transport and childcare and low levels of pay and rights at work. In one area of Clondalkin almost 95% of voters voted for SF and PBP combined. During the election we saw a strike of teachers and a huge demonstration of child care workers. People have had enough.

Whats remarkable about the current situation is that now when there is the prospect for a left government the unions are, in the main, silent. Where you are now Jack when we need you!!!

A left government could resolve many long standing issues which the trade union movement has campaigned on: union recognition; a living wage; equal pay for new entrants to the public service; reversal of the pension age; reduction of the USC as well as others issues, such as high rents and housing shortages, which profoundly affect the quality of life of working people.

So why are’nt they calling for a left government. In the main I suspect they are in shock at what has happened. They still believe that Labour is still the workers party and many unions leaders are embroiled in resuscitating the dying animal. They are not going to support anything that cuts across this especially if it involves giving legitimacy to SF and the radical left.

These people are completely committed to social partnership. They accepted the logic of austerity and sat on their hands when pay was cut and conditions worsened. They did nothing to stop the increase in the pension age or the increase in the waiting time (from 3 to 6 days) for sickness benefit. Both measures introduced while Labour was in government. SIPTU was caught out during the election when its campaign to STOP 67 looked tame in the light of the demand to get back to 65.

Perhaps more significantly we know that the formation of a left government will pose a real challenge to the establishment and will require mobilisation to face down the threats from the board rooms, that such a government might face. Our union leaders, in the main, are not up for this. They remain committed to “industrial legality” and don’t want their role as mediators between workers and employers to be undermined, although their legitimacy as representatives of workers has been questioned with the outcome of the election.

Evidence of their craven commitment to social partnership can be seen in a speech of last October by the head of Forsa, Kevin Callinan, calling for the resurrection of social partnership. He said “Whatever its failings, and there were many, social partnership provided a mechanism to engage in genuine social dialogue with the aim of crafting policy solutions to national problems.” Is he for real ! He went to praise 1990 Industrial Relations Act as it “had led to a huge reduction in strike days.” Its worth noting that in recent weeks IBEC has also been to the fore in calling for a social dialogue. Don’t these people know that the centre hasn’t held and that increasing polarisation is the order of the day as workers realise that their problems can’t be solved by cosying up to the establishment and lying down with employers who are increasingly hostile to workers organisations.

But not all unions have been silent. The heads of the Right 2Water unions have issued a statement calling for a left government. John Douglas, the leader of Mandate, rightly says that “Any attempt to return to a cobbled together “old style coalition” involving Fine Gael and Fianna Fail is not in the best interests of our country and would be a power grab against the wishes of the massive electoral mandate given to Sinn Fein and the broad left.”

This is a good start but needs to be backed up with actions. These unions need to become active players in the fight for a left government. They can’t sit passively and allow the idea to be killed off, which the current impasse is in danger of doing. They need to make it clear to the establishment parties and those parties who would prop them up, such as the Greens and the Social Democrats, that real change must be delivered and the best mechanism to do so is a government of the left backed up by serious mobilisation on the streets.

They should also make it clear that any government that does not reverse the pension age increase, does not bring in a Living Wage and serious measures to halt and reverse rent increases will face a campaign of industrial action. Indeed the best thing they could do now, given the popular mood, is to immediately announce that they are balloting their members for industrial action on the pension age. This would certainly add to the momentum for change, give a boost to the rising expectations of workers and make people believe that, yes, real change can be delivered.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Sinn Féin on General Election Outcome

This still incomplete national liberation phase in Ireland is fast approaching its tipping point.

Over 700,000 citizens have voted for Sinn Féin both north and south since last December.

They all voted, and endorsed the need for change.

Now the change is unstoppable.”-Sinn Féin


“The general election confirmed Sinn Féin as the largest party in the southern state, representing the community and class interests of working people, with a massive mandate of over half a million votes. Make no mistake, this general election is another watershed” – Declan Kearney MLA

Nothing stays the same.

Time doesn’t stand still.

Politics and society are constantly in flux.

But sometimes change is shaped and driven by significant watersheds.

In modern Irish history the 1916 Easter Rising, The Tan War, the civil rights campaign in the north, and the 1980/81 Hunger Strikes each stand out as epoch making periods.

More recently the onset of Brexit has been hugely influential on the Irish political landscape. 

Nearly one hundred years ago, a counter revolution eclipsed the popular struggle for national independence and social change in Ireland, sparked by the 1916 Rising, and culminating in the partition of Ireland.

 Two political parties emerged from that cauldron and went on to politically dominate what became a deeply conservative southern state, in the interests of a new Irish ruling class elite.

Those two parties came to be known as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

No government in the south of Ireland has existed since 1923 without the dominant influence of either Fine Gael, (and its immediate predecessor Cumann na nGaedheal), or Fianna Fáil.

Both parties in power facilitated a regressive theocratic influence by the Catholic Church hierarchy over society and government.

These parties also presided over economic and social policies which caused mass emigration, economic inequality and poverty, and the marginalisation and neglect of rural Ireland.

They approved of, and used summary execution, internment without trial, censorship, and also oppressive laws to repress political dissent, and against republican activists in particular.

The actions of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, from the foundation of the State atrophied the aspiration and vision of an egalitarian, national Republic set out by the 1916 Proclamation, and the subsequent Democratic Programme of the First Dáil in 1919.

More recently, disastrous fiscal mismanagement by successive Fianna Fáil administrations resulted in the crash of the southern economy in 2008, and the imposition of an IMF bail out programme, from which the south of Ireland is still recovering.

Since then two Fine Gael-led coalition governments have created deep, systemic health and housing/homeless crises, which are now at a cliff edge. 

During the mandate of the last Dáil (Irish Parliament), Fianna Fáil propped up a hapless Fine Gael government with a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement.

This political arrangement demonstrated the indistinguishable character of these two parties in terms of political orientation and policy. 

Tweedledum and Tweedledee! 

All of those realities overshadowed the southern general election last weekend.

The almost one hundred year legacy of right-wing dominance by these parties was a central focus of the election.

The demand for change defined the explicit popular narrative throughout the campaign.

Sinn Féin became the political lightning rod of this state-wide momentum. 

From the earliest moments of the campaign it was clear something profound was happening within southern society.

I have never seen anything like it before, perhaps with the exception of the popular mood which surrounded the H Block Hunger Strikes in 1980/1981.

In places like Donegal I canvassed homes with traditional allegiances to Fine Gael, and discovered that younger, and even older voters were switching to vote Sinn Féin. 

Elsewhere in large working-class estates I visited in Galway, such as Ballybane, Mervue and Merlin, it was obvious there was a motivated surge of good will and support towards Sinn Féin’s programme for economic, social and political change.

Motorists stopped their vehicles, and ordinary citizens walked across the street to discuss the election, and tell us why they were so angry with the establishment parties. 

Time after time, door after door, we were told across the south that this election had to be about change: That Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had their chance and squandered it: And, that now it was time for Sinn Féin to get a chance at delivering real change in citizens’ lives – by investing in good public services, and guaranteeing people’s rights to proper health care, and access to affordable homes.

People agreed with Sinn Féin that it was time to give workers and their families a break. 

And, they also wanted to talk about Irish unity!

Many who I canvassed were genuinely pleased that a government minister from the north was at their doors asking for their support to make change.

They had never seen a Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael minister in their neighbourhood before, far less on their door steps.

People liked the idea of Sinn Féin being in government in the north, and the prospect of our party also delivering government in the south. 

So on 8th February the electorate went to the polls.

There was an electoral earthquake.

And, yes, it was seismic.

Some lazy commentators have tried since to dismiss what happened as populism. 

The fact is that the popular refrain for change during this campaign translated into a decision by voters to use the ballot box as an act of rebellion against the status quo: To rebel against the dominance of the two conservative parties and their symbiotic relationships with the banking cartels, property developers and big landlords.

What happened is without historic precedence.

Sinn Féin emerged with the biggest share of the popular vote – 24.5% – one in every four voters; and a total of 37 seats (an increase of 15).

Fine Gael had its second worst election in history.

Fianna Fáil took 22.2% of the vote, finishing up with 38 seats – one of which was uncontested, because it returned the previous incumbent Speaker from the last Dáil. 

Sinn Féin sought and received a mandate for government to deliver change, and this week we began a process of exploring the potential of government formation with other parties, on the basis of ending the health and homeless crises; delivering sustainable public services; building 100,000 homes; reducing the retirement age to 65 years; and, advancing Irish unity.

The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle authorised a negotiation mandate to explore formation of a government for change with other parties.

Sinn Féin wants to be in government to make the progressive change which people clearly desire.

We are committed to cooperating with others to bring that about. 

It is a very fundamental, democratic position, and yet almost immediately the Fine Gael leadership arrogantly announced that it would not speak with Sinn Féin about government formation.

Then just days later a similar position was taken by the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party. 

Of course the Fianna Fáil leadership and parliamentary party attempts to exclude Sinn Féin from government stems from the fact that they do not want, at this time, to build the houses, reduce the pension age, freeze rents, and cut the ministerial and TD salaries.

The stances adopted by both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are neither sustainable or credible. In fact they are intrinsically anti-democratic. 

It’s worth recalling Ian Paisley’s reply when asked to explain his decision to enter government in the north with Sinn Féin in 2007: He said: “Because the people elected them. That is democracy and they are not going away.” 

During the period from January 2017 when power sharing was suspended in the north, both leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil cynically demanded that Sinn Féin should go back into coalition government with parties which had totally undermined the very basis of power sharing, without resolving the reasons for the political crisis.

Through the sustained efforts of Sinn Féin and others, power-sharing government has again been restored.  

Our party currently sits in a regional government with four other political parties with totally diverging ideological and political perspectives on social and economic policy and on constitutional change in Ireland. 

The effect of the apparently entrenched and unchanging positions of the two conservative parties poses two scenarios: Either Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael coalesce, or there is another election.

Fianna Fáil has already said it will not go into government with Fine Gael, despite their previous ‘confidence and supply’ agreement in the last mandate.

But cynical double standards provides only a partial explanation for their shared refusal to talk with Sinn Féin about future government formation.

The reality is that the Irish establishment, and its vested economic, financial, and class interests has been rocked to its very core by the electoral revolution of last weekend. 

The significance of the electoral and political set backs for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are huge.

Their rotational dominance in government, which secured the Irish establishment’s interests for decades, has been ended.

The general election confirmed Sinn Féin as the largest party in the southern state, representing the community and class interests of working people, with a massive mandate of over half a million votes.

Make no mistake, this general election is another watershed.

The joint refusal of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to talk with Sinn Féin is an absolute defiance of democratic norms.

Nearly one hundred years on, a modern day counter revolution is being mounted against the democratic will of the people. 

The Irish establishment parties have effectively launched ‘a very Irish coup’ in an attempt to subvert the popular demand for change, and to stop Sinn Féin from getting into government. 

The socialist republican leader Liam Mellows warned in 1922, before his execution by a Cumann na nGaedheal government:  

“The time will inevitably come, if this Free State comes into existence, when you will have a permanent government in the country, and permanent governments in any country have a dislike to being turned out.” 

Those words have a powerful relevance for today.

Three weeks ago the British state left the European Union. One of the unintended consequences of Brexit has been to put a debate about constitutional change and Irish unity centre stage.

The Irish establishment fears this debate: And the British do not want it to take place.

But that genie is out of the bottle.

Sinn Féin is in government in the north of Ireland. It is only a matter of time until we are also in government in the south.

Politics has started to realign in Ireland. 

The results of the last election are new evidence of that.

Momentum is fuelling the political and civic discourse on constitutional change and reunification. 

International support for Irish unity is growing. Brexit has made the partition of Ireland a European issue. 

‘We are back to Connolly and Mellows, and it is just as well.’ For republicans, progressives and democrats who seek maximum political and social change, the ideas of Connolly and Mellows have never been more relevant.

This still incomplete national liberation phase in Ireland is fast approaching its tipping point. 

Over 700,000 citizens have voted for Sinn Féin both north and south since last December.

They all voted, and endorsed the need for change.

Now the change is unstoppable.


ARY 2020     LRB Blog     London Review of Books

The Sinn Féin Surge

Daniel Finn 

 Daniel Finn is the author of One Man’s Terrorist: A Political History of the IRA. November 2019.

When Leo Varadkar called a snap general election for 8 February, he had a comforting scenario in mind. With a Brexit deal finally in the bag after Boris Johnson’s victory in December, the Taoiseach would brandish his credentials as a statesman who had steered the country through some choppy geopolitical waters. Varadkar’s centre-right Fine Gael party was polling an average of 29 per cent last year; a good election campaign might push that into the thirties, well above their 2016 vote share, and an excellent showing after nearly a decade in government.

Both Varadkar and his Fianna Fáil counterpart, Micheál Martin, wanted to end the de facto grand coalition between their parties, and revive the old pattern that had seen Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil alternate in power since 1932 with backing from such smaller groups as Labour and the Greens. Support for the two centre-right parties had fallen precipitously, from 69 per cent in 2007 to less than 50 per cent in 2016. This was meant to be the election in which they bounced back. Instead, their combined vote share slumped to an all-time low and they were overtaken by Sinn Féin, which got 24.5 per cent of first preference votes, to Fianna Fáil’s 22.2 per cent and Fine Gael’s 20.9 per cent.

Nobody expected this outcome, least of all Sinn Féin. The party leadership thought they’d struggle to hold onto some of the seats they won in 2016. Last year’s local and European elections saw Sinn Féin lose two of its three MEPs and nearly half of its councillors. Because of its defensive strategy, which seemed prudent when the election was called, the party won’t have a seat share that matches its vote: the Irish electoral system has multi-seat constituencies, and in many places Sinn Féin could have taken a second seat if it had run more than one candidate. They won’t make that mistake again.

This is unambiguously a turn to the left by Irish voters. Some journalists who should know better represent Sinn Féin as the Irish counterpart of the Rassemblement National in France or Germany’s AfD. In fact, the party has a better record of defending immigrants against racism than its rivals (the actual far right in Ireland refers to Sinn Féin as ‘globalist traitors’). The party’s TD for Sligo-Leitrim, Martin Kenny, was the target of death threats and an arson attack after he spoke in defence of asylum seekers last year; he topped the poll on Saturday.

Sinn Féin’s success owes a lot to pent-up anger among younger voters about the state of post-recession Ireland. Feel-good articles in the international media hailing the Irish recovery don’t capture the mood on the ground. Some of the recent economic growth is fictitious, the product of Ireland’s status as a tax haven; even when the growth is real, it tends to be concentrated in high-tech, high-wage sectors that bypass the majority of Irish workers. Public services haven’t recovered from years of gouging austerity, and a recharged property boom has made home ownership unattainable for many. One of Varadkar’s most telling mishaps on the campaign trail came when he proudly recalled buying his first home at the age of 24.

The Sinn Féin surge manifested itself in the first polls of the campaign and held up until election day. The broadcasters had to scramble to catch up: the first leaders’ debate, in late January, pitted Varadkar against Martin; but the Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, joined them on stage for the final debate on 4 February, changing the whole dynamic. Instead of sparring against one another with subtly different pitches (low taxes v. investment in public services; a strong economy v. ‘an Ireland for all’), Varadkar and Martin had to form a bloc against McDonald, reinforcing the image of them as two wings of the same bird.

In the last week of the campaign, the conservative parties and their media allies stressed Sinn Féin’s historic ties with the IRA and accused it of planning to scrap the juryless Special Criminal Court (which tries terrorism and serious organised crime cases). None of the attacks seemed to resonate, however, with those who were contemplating a vote for Sinn Féin. McDonald’s predecessor, Gerry Adams, had enough personal baggage to fill a cargo hold, but the party is now led by a younger, postwar generation. That Sinn Féin had served in government with its Unionist opponents in Belfast for more than a decade made it harder to credit the predictions of doom if the party were to exercise power in Dublin.

The next few weeks will test all the conventions of government formation in Ireland. If the conservative parties refuse to deal with their emboldened rival – and Varadkar has explicitly ruled it out – they could join forces again, allowing Sinn Féin to lead the opposition. But they would only be setting themselves up for a heavier defeat next time. If they won’t work together, and no one is able to form a government, there will have to be a repeat election in a few months’ time. And that, too, is likely to strengthen Sinn Féin, especially if it runs more candidates.

For its part, Sinn Féin will have to be very careful in making its next move. The Irish Labour Party made a comparable breakthrough in 2011 but slumped to its worst ever performance five years later after a coalition deal with the centre right. If Sinn Féin doesn’t satisfy the desire for change that powered its electoral triumph, it may lose its new supporters as quickly as it gained them.

Categories: Uncategorized

Low Wages

December 3, 2019 Leave a comment


“The CSO data  for 2018 gives further insights. It shows that 28.7 per cent of people earn less than €400 a week. The biggest group – 39.4 per cent – earn between €400 and €800 a week. And the remaining 31.9 per cent earn over €800, including 6.5 per cent of earners who make over €1,600 a week, before tax.”-Irish Times

Worldbystorm    on Cedar Lounge Revolution

(The Median is very important.  The mean or average can be driven artificially upwards by very high earnings-PH)

So the first message from the figures is that there are a lot of people living on modest incomes. Of course many families have more than one income. And in the majority of cases, though not all, people work part-time because they choose to, not because they have to. But still, the average median income at under €600 a week is modest.

That’s not the whole story, the media is variable depending upon location with it slightly higher than €600 in Dublin and then well well below that at its lowest, in Donegal. Then there’s this:

The CSO data gives further insights. It shows that 28.7 per cent of people earn less than €400 a week. The biggest group – 39.4 per cent – earn between €400 and €800 a week. And the remaining 31.9 per cent earn over €800, including 6.5 per cent of earners who make over €1,600 a week, before tax.

That’s a huge percentage when one thinks about it on the less than €400 wage, close enough to a third of those working.

Another very useful insight:

And regionally, the cities appear to be recovering, but outside of them the situation can be very problematic.

Wage rates: Are you paid above or below the average?

  Cliff Taylor, Irish Times Thursday, November 21, 2019, 08:26

The latest earnings data from Central Statistics Office provide a fascinating insight into who earns what in Ireland, broken down by where people live, where they work, their age, and whether they are male or female.

Drawn from Revenue and CSO data, the latest release – Earnings Data from Administrative Data Sources – is the clearest insight we have into the breakdown of earnings in Ireland. It shows big variations between different sectors, different age groups and parts of the country. Here are the main details and what they mean.

1. The overall numbers

First, it is important to understand what the figures relate to. What is being measured here are 2018 earnings from people who work in paid employment (outside agriculture).

It includes those who work full-time – the majority, as we know from other data – as well as part-timers. Separate data show that around 20 per cent of the workforce is made up of part-timers.

Overall the data shows average earnings at €740.72 a week. This is using what is called the mean – what most of us understand as the average. This adds all the earnings together and divides them by the number of people involved.

Another way of calculating the average is using what is called the median. This is the half-way house – the earnings figure where the number of people who earn more is exactly the same as the number who earn less.

This gives a different result, mainly because it removes the impact on the data of a small number of people who earn an awful lot of money. The median weekly earnings are €592.60.

So the first message from the figures is that there are a lot of people living on modest incomes. Of course many families have more than one income. And in the majority of cases, though not all, people work part-time because they choose to, not because they have to. But still, the average median income at under €600 a week is modest.

The CSO data gives further insights. It shows that 28.7 per cent of people earn less than €400 a week. The biggest group – 39.4 per cent – earn between €400 and €800 a week. And the remaining 31.9 per cent earn over €800, including 6.5 per cent of earners who make over €1,600 a week, before tax.

Annual data gives another perspective. Here the basis is slightly different. This data includes people who work at least 50 weeks of the year – full-timers plus part-time employees who work throughout the year.

This shows mean average annual earnings of €44,380 and median average earnings of €36,095. So again we can see the impact of excluding the highest earners from the average calculation.

2 .The earnings gap by sector

The gap between the highest and lowest earnings sectors is striking. The highest paying is information and communications technology (ICT), including a number of the big US multinationals, where average weekly earnings (mean) are €1,244. This is followed by the traditionally high-earning finance sector, at €1,091 a week. At the far end of the scale are accommodation and food services – restaurants, cafes and hotels – where pay averages €347.64 a week; arts, entertainment and recreation at €462.54; and wholesale and retail at €562.70.

The lower paying sectors would have a higher prevalence of part-time work. Strikingly, more than two-thirds of people working in accommodation and food services take home less than €400 a week. with 44 per cent of those in wholesale and retail in the same category.

Also, more younger people are on lower wages, with the median wage for those under 24 less than €300 a week, suggesting many are working part-time. By the way, the highest earning age category are 40-49 year-olds, followed by 50 to 59 year-olds.

Measured by annual average (mean) earnings, ICT pays €70,264 and finance pays €61,061, while accommodation and food services is just €21,914 and wholesale and retail is €33,327. Again the annual figures include people employed for at least 50 weeks a year on a full-time or part-time basis.

The gap between the mean and median for each sector can appear a slightly nerdy point – though the larger gaps do indicate sectors where there are more bigger earners, compared to general earnings in the sector.

3. The earnings gap by gender

Women earn less than men across the board. The figures do not tell us how much of that is due to different working hours – separate employment data shows that around 30 per cent of women work part-time, while the figure for men is 10 per cent.

The mean weekly average income for men in 2018 was €847.35, while for women it was €635.12. Looking at the median – excluding the impact of the salaries of the highest earners – the average male weekly figure was €659.58, while for women it was €517.62.

Male weekly wages have gone up about 9.2 per cent over the past five years, while the figure for women is 8.6 per cent, so the gap has grown a bit.

The male/female gap is greater in the private sector than the public. In the private sector, females earn 80 per cent of the average, while in the public sector it is 92 per cent. It is impossible to infer from the figures how much of this is due to a greater prevalence of part-time work among women, or how much is due to more mean working at a more senior level.

One point worth noting is the low income levels for females in accommodation and foods services – at just over €300 a week on average. This is no doubt an influence on the private sector figures.

4. The earnings gap by county

The regional breakdown is striking. Not surprisingly average incomes are highest in Dublin – by a distance – at €947.41 a week. Interestingly, next in line are the Dublin commuter counties of Kildare ( €792.87), Wicklow (€764.18) and Meath (€761.37). Louth, at just under €671 a week, doesn’t seem to gain as much as the others from its proximity to the capital.

Previous studies have shown that people in these counties who commute to work in Dublin earn more on average than those who stay and work in their home county. There are exceptions, of course, for example the presence of the giant Intel campus in Kildare.

Cork comes in at €740.27 a week, Limerick at €707.82, and Galway at €701.69. The evidence shows the concentration of a lot of higher-paid activity on the east coast, even though the three other big cities have significant industries of their own.

At the lower end, way behind the richer parts of the country, are Donegal (€564.53), Monaghan ( €590.97) and Longford (€614.80). It would be interesting to have up-to-date cost-of-living data to look at the gap in real living standards. But the figures show the concentration of higher paid employment around Dublin and in the big cities.

5. Are the rich getting richer?

Or, more accurately, are those with highest incomes getting bigger increases? There isn’t a straightforward answer to this. We saw above that men have done slightly better than women over the past five years. That is one area where income inequality has grown a bit.

In terms of different income levels, the picture is more complicated and there have been a variety of trends since 2013, following the crash when most income levels fell. The graphic lets you look at this year by year, with the 10th decile during the least well-off and the 90th the highest income group.

Over the five years, lower earners – those between the 10th and 40th percentiles – and those in the top 10 per cent the 90th percentile – have done best. Over the past two years, the best off and those in the 30th percentile have had the highest income gains , though the gaps aren’t that big.

However, in terms of the regions, the figures are stark, with the gaps widening between urban and rural Ireland. Income in Dublin are up nearly 12 per cent since 2012, with Kildare second at 10.3 per cent and Wicklow doing well at 9.2 per cent.

Interestingly the other larger cities have also shown significant increases led by Cork (9.8 per cent), Galway (8.8 per cent) and Limerick (8.5 per cent). However some of the poorer more rural counties are lagging further behind, with incomes in Longford up 3.8 per cent and Kerry, Leitrim , Sligo and Offaly all below 6 per cent over the five years.

So in terms of regional policy, there is evidence that some parts of the country continue to lag significantly.

The figures used in this article are contained in this CSO earnings analysis document

© 2019

Categories: Uncategorized

British Terrorism in Ireland

October 27, 2019 Leave a comment

Did Margaret Thatcher Sanction the Murder of Solicitor Pat Finucane??

Full Judicial Inquiry Needed Now!

By Seamus De BÚrca,   Oct 26, 2019,  Village Magazine

Introduction: Margaret Thatcher and the cold blooded murder of an Irish lawyer.

On 12 February, 1989, the UDA assassinated Patrick Finucane, a highly regarded Belfast solicitor, at his North Belfast home. Finucane, who was 38-years-old, was shot 14 times by two masked UDA gunmen who sledgehammered their way into his house. His wife Geraldine was also injured during the attack which took place while the couple was enjoying a meal with their young family.

Prime Suspect Margaret Thatcher: she sank the Belgrano and permitted RUC and SAS shoot-to-kill operations in Northern Ireland and covered up the shooting of an acknowledged – yet unarmed – IRA unit in Gibraltar. She is now the prime suspect in the murder of Patrick Finucane.

In 2019 the Supreme Court in London ruled that the British Government had failed to investigate the murder properly. The only tenable reason for this is because the murder was organised by MI5, the intelligence service attached to the Home Office.

A retired Canadian judge, Peter Cory, investigated the murder on behalf of the British State. During his inquiry MI5 officers broke into his office and stole some of the evidence he had accumulated.

Cory also told Geraldine Finucane that he had seen a document relevant to her husband’s case which was marked  ‘for Cabinet eyes only’. Mrs. Finucane knows no more. This raises the distinct possibility that her husband’s case was discussed in Whitehall in sinister circumstances prior to the murder. These revelations formed part of BBC NI’s compelling seven part Spotlight  series,  ‘The Secret History of the Troubles’. They have been ignored by the mainstream British media.

Geraldine Finucane who was told by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory that papers relating to her husband Patrick were read at Cabinet level.  Was this before the shooting?  A full judicial inquiry is required to get to the bottom of the murder including this vital new revelation. For a start the inquiry should clarify when the file Cory described to Mrs. Finucane was created, what was in it and who read it. In particular, did Thatcher know about the MI5-FRU-UDA hit in advance?

Put simply, the finger of blame is now pointing at Margaret Thatcher. It now looks like she gave MI5 the green light to murder a perfectly respectable, law abiding lawyer. If Thatcher  and her circle did not order the murder, why are the Tory top brass so terrified of an inquiry?

MI5 was led by Sir Patrick Walker at the time the assassination was planned and executed. If MI5 was involved, it is inconceivable he did not call  the shots – literally.

When David Cameron was in 10 Downing Street he told the Finucane family that he could not order a public inquiry into the scandal. When Finucane’s brother Martin asked him why, he turned to Mrs Finucane and said: “Look, the last administration couldn’t deliver an inquiry in your husband’s case and neither can we”. According to Cameron this was because “there are people all around this place, [10 Downing Street], who won’t let it happen.” As he was saying this, he raised a finger and made a circular motion in the air.

David Cameron told the Finucane family he could not call an inquiry because of  forces more powerful than he. Was he really protecting Margaret Thatcher whom he admired greatly?

Theresa May, who was Cameron’s Home Secretary between 2010 and 2016, before she became PM, did not order a proper inquiry either.

Theresa May while British Home Secretary and in political control of MI5. Another admirer of Thatcher, she resisted an inquiry into the murder of Finucane too.

Now, only someone of integrity and ability such as Lord Saville, who led the successful Bloody Sunday Inquiry, is required to lead one into the Finucane murder. The opportunity and duty to do the right thing has passed to  Theresa May’s successor, Boris Johnson, and his Home Secretary, Priti Patel. Yet, will they prove every bit as corrupt as May and Cameron and continue the cover-up?

The evidence that continues to accumulate points to the probability that Finucane, a skilful lawyer, was targeted by the British State because he had mastered the intricacies of the Diplock Court system in NI and was representing his clients to the best of his very considerable abilities. In the mind of Thatcher and others in London, he had to have been a Provo and his death warrant was signed. The task of assassinating him was passed to Walker at MI5.

However, Finucane was not a Provo. On the contrary, he represented both Republicans and Loyalists. Moreover, he was married to a Protestant. Finucane was perfectly innocent of any involvement with the IRA although he was vilified as a member after his death.

Priti Patel, will she be the Home Secretary to finally order a full judicial inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane or the latest in a line of Tory politicians who believe it is perfectly acceptable to cover-up the murder of an Irish lawyer?

Insofar as the UDA was concerned, the kill-order was issued by Tommy ‘Tucker’ Lyttle, the UDA’s ‘brigadier’ or commander in West Belfast. Ian Hurst, who served with the Force Reconnaissance Unit (FRU) of the British Army, has stated “with cast iron certainty” that Lyttle was a British agent who was “handled” by the RUC’s Special Branch (RUCSB) using the codename “Rodney Stewart”.

Lyttle himself confirmed to an internal UDA inquiry that he had been a British agent, arguing that he had exploited the relationship to help the UDA.

The RUCSB served as MI5’s foot soldiers. Lyttle also told author Greg Harkin that his RUCSB ‘handler’ had asked him: “Why don’t you whack Finucane?”.

Boris Johnson, a notoriously shifty individual: he is unlikely in the extreme to risk Margaret Thatcher’s reputation and inflame the anger of members of the Tory Party by ordering an inquiry into the British State assassination of Patrick Finucane.

Village has uncovered fresh information that not only confirms Lyttle’s role as a British agent but places him at the heart of the MI5 and MI6 paedophile ‘honeytrap’ operation which swirled around Kincora Boys’ Home in Belfast in the 1970s. Lyttle was working for MI5 from the mid, if not early, 1970s.

The next three sections of this article will examine the sordid links between MI5 and the UDA, especially those involving Lyttle, before returning to the specifics of the murder of Finucane in Part Four. It will also examine aspects of collusion with the UVF.

[Regular Village  readers are asked to note that an earlier version of this story was published in February 2019 entitled ‘Her Majesty’s Hatchetman’.]


Categories: Uncategorized

There Will Be A Third(Nuclear) World War Unless The Far-Right is Defeated in Several Countries by Mass Action! Remember Hitler Didn’t Have Nuclear Weapons!

September 9, 2019 Leave a comment

‘Blood on our hands’ over US use of Shannon, says Clare Daly

Niamh Horan, Sunday Independent, January 5 2020

Dublin MEP Clare Daly has warned Ireland has “blood on our hands” as the rapid escalation of tension between the US and Iran brings the use of Shannon Airport into focus.

The outspoken activist has said she will seek an immediate discussion on the use of the airport by US military when the European Parliament convenes this week.

She was joined in her criticism by fellow MEP Mick Wallace, who called the killing of Qasem Soleimani as “nothing short of an act of terrorism”.

The US administration had argued the opposite _ that it has taken one of the world’s biggest terrorist organiser off the battlefield.

But speaking to the Sunday Independent yesterday, Ms Daly said: “The rapid escalation of US military action targeted at Iran has brought into sharp focus the role of Shannon Airport in the transiting of troops to theatres of war.”

Describing the assassination of Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport as “an outrageous murder”, she said the killing was “in breach of all international law.”

Questioning the reasoning behind the attack, she said: “Imagine the response if North Korea took out US Chief of Staff James McConville in Toronto Airport while he was working there at the request of the Canadian government?”

And she warned the situation could now deteriorate rapidly “with Iraq facing another major war on its territory”. She said: “Ireland will be complicit in these deaths while we continue to allow Shannon to be used as a stop-over point.

“Many of the soldiers who pass through will not make it back either.”

Ms Daly has repeatedly asked questions of various ministers about the movement of US troops and aircraft through Shannon.

—————————————————————-U.S Peace Council Statement:

“It is clear that we are no longer on the “brink of war with Iran,” but the war has actually begun.”

Friday January 3, 2020
On January 2, 2020, the Trump Administration recklessly escalated its war on Iran by the drone
assassination of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, Commander of Iran Revolutionary Guards’ Quds
Force. The assassination, ordered directly by President Trump, is a lawless action against an official of a
sovereign state — Iran — with which the US is not officially at war. It occurred on the territory of yet another
sovereign state — Iraq — with which the US is not officially at war.
This reckless act is bound to lead to Iranian retaliation and possibly to an all-out war in the region. It is clear
that we are no longer on the “brink of war with Iran,” but the war has actually begun.
The decision by Donald Trump and the Pentagon to launch new air assaults on the Iraqi territory in the past
week has ignited nationwide resistance by Iraqis who demand to reclaim their full sovereignty and refuse to
allow Iraq to be used as a U.S. base in a U.S. war on Iran.
The Trump Administration’s path to all-out war with Iran didn’t start on December 27, 2019, when a US
“contractor” (mercenary) was killed. Rather, it started in January 2017 with Trump’s inauguration: First, he
selected as top foreign policy advisers such war mongers as John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, who called for
war on Iran. Then he pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) and embarked on the “maximum
pressure” campaign, imposing illegal, severe economic sanctions on Iran and forcing US allies to join in.
Since then, he has launched cyberattacks on Iranian facilities and has worked to isolate Iran diplomatically.
He public comments have been bullying and contemptuous of a sovereign nation.
The Trump Administration is now further escalating the war by sending thousands more troops to the
Middle East, in the name of “preparing against retaliation” by Iran. He has already ordered 750 more US
troops to the Middle East and potentially 3,000 more. This is in addition to the 5,200 already in Iraq that
push the US agenda against Iran, Syria and Yemen. Many more troops will be needed if the US expands
the war.
But the current US policy toward Iran is part of a bigger and longer picture. It is part of the 1953 overthrow
of the democratically elected Iranian government, the insertion of a dictator Shah for 26 years. After the
Shah was deposed in 1979, the US supported the Saddam Hussein’s 8-year military aggression against
Iran as part of US-engineered takeovers of independent countries in the Middle East — through wars on
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan.
Every US president over the last 30 years has ordered the bombing of Iraq. More than a million Iraqis have
died during the past three decades years as a consequence of U.S. occupation, bombings, and sanctions.
Tens of thousands of US troops have either been killed or suffered life-changing injuries. The US
government has spent more than $3 trillion of our tax dollars in the on-going occupation and bombing of
this oil-rich country.
Trump Administration’s policy against Iran has also tightened the US alliance with two of Iran’s mortal
enemies, Israel and Saudi Arabia; has ramped up tension in the region, has concentrated military forces in
the Persian Gulf; and has armed the Saudi monarchy in its genocidal war on Yemen.
Since Trump took office in 2017, US aggression against the rest of the world has also been put into
overdrive. The Trump Administration’s foreign policy — supported by much of Big Business and wrapped in
U.S. Peace Council • PO Box 3105, New Haven, CT 06515 • (203) 387-0370 • USPC@USPeaceCouncil.org
the deceitful cover of “Making America Great Again!” — vastly expands Pentagon spending and profitable
US arms exports; bullies allies to buy more US-made weapons and join with US military operations; and
threatens wars on any state refusing to bend the knee to Washington. The US has been ripping up any
multilateral treaty that imposes even the mildest constraints on its aggressive behavior, while flouting
international law and the UN Charter.
Given the fact that the US has invaded and initiated war on more than a dozen countries since the
beginning of this century and has imposed coercive sanctions — economic warfare — on dozens, all in
violation of international law, we should recognize that today the US is the greatest threat to peace in the
On Saturday, January 4th, people from around the United States will be organizing local demonstrations to
1. Show up on Saturday January 4. List of local actions is below
2. Phone Congress 202-224- 3121. Phone your House member and your US Senator. Take Action to
Prevent War with Iran!
3. Phone the White House: 1-202-456-1414 (Switchboard) 1-202-456-1111 (Comments). Say No war
with Iran! The Administration must hear that millions of us are unalterably opposed to an insane
4. Write Letters to the Editor. Express your opposition to war with Iran. Bring all the troops stationed in
Iraq home safely, now.
5. Hold Vigils and organize Rallies in your area and your cities against war with Iran.
6. Take photos of yourself holding “No War with Iran!” signs. Post them on Twitter and Instagram.
Send them to your House Representative and Senator. Encourage others to do the same.

—————————————————————-The US Action can be seen as a DECLARATION OF WAR-Middle East Correspondent on RTE

This is how World Wars Can Start-Iran has a nuclear capability and is Allied to Russia

Iran general Qassem Suleimani killed in Baghdad drone strike ordered by Trump

Supreme leader vows ‘severe revenge’ after US president orders Baghdad airport strike as part of ‘decisive defensive action’

Guardian, Fri 3 Jan 2020

An Image released by the Iraqi prime minister’s office shows wreckage at Baghdad airport following a drone strike on Iran general Qassem Suleiman ordered by Donald Trump

The White House said Donald Trump ordered an air strike that killed powerful Iranian general Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad in the early hours of Friday, in a dramatic escalation of an already bloody struggle between Washington and Tehran for influence across the region.

Suleimani, who ran Iranian military operations in Iraq and Syria, was targeted while being driven from Baghdad airport by local allies from the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU). The deputy head of the PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, a close Suleimani associate, was also killed in the attack.


———————————————————–THIRD WORLD WAR  DRAWS CLOSER!!

Russia Announces Development of Rocket which Travels at 27 times Speed of Sound in Air-It would Travel the length of Ireland in less than a minute

Two Days Earlier, Trump Started Huge Escalation of Nuclear Arms Race with “Spaceforce”

Trump to put Nuclear Weapons in Space “the world’s newest war-fighting domain”


World Moves Closer to Disaster as Trump Starts Huge Escalation of Nuclear Arms Race with “Spaceforce”

Trump to put Nuclear Weapons in Space “the world’s newest war-fighting domain”(Trump).

Other Large Powers are already Responding (see response of France and China further down)

– The Treaty (SALT2 1979) between US and Russia Banning Nuclear Weapons in Space was never Ratified by Either Side

BBC news:

President Donald Trump has officially funded a Pentagon force focused on warfare in space – the US Space Force.

The new military service, the first in more than 70 years, falls under the US Air Force.

At an army base near Washington, Mr Trump described space as “the world’s newest war-fighting domain”.

“Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital,” he said.

“We’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, but very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”

“The Space Force will help us deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground,” he added.

BBC News    France to create new space defence command in September

13 July 2019Share

France plays a leading role in the EU’s space exploration programmes

France will set up a new space defence command in September, President Emmanuel Macron has announced.

Speaking a day before the annual Bastille Day celebrations, Mr Macron said that the command would help to “better protect our satellites, including in an active way”.

Analysts say this marks a switch from a defensive to an offensive posture.

Mr Macron’s proposal follows similar moves by the US, China and Russia in recent years.

Last year, US President Donald Trump ordered the formation of a sixth branch of the country’s armed forces – a “space force”. 

Dec 2019 Trump Quote:

“With my signature today, you will witness the birth of the Space Force, and that will be now officially the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces,” Trump said Friday before officially signing the National Defense Authorization Act — which creates funding for Space Force — into law. “That is something really incredible. It’s a big moment. That’s a big moment, and we’re all here for it. Space. Going to be a lot of things happening in space.”

Space Force is part of a $1.4 trillion government budget that not only reverses cuts to U.S. defense programs but also allocates funding to the U.S.-Mexico border wall, according to the AP.


The SALT II treaty (1979) prohibited the deployment of Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) systems:

Each Party undertakes not to develop, test, or deploy:


(c) systems for placing into Earth orbit nuclear weapons or any other kind of weapons of mass destruction, including fractional orbital missiles;

Although SALT II resulted in an agreement in 1979, the United States Senate chose not to ratify the treaty in response to the Soviet war in Afghanistan, which took place later that year. The Soviet legislature also did not ratify it. The agreement expired on December 31, 1985 and was not renewed.


Trump Tweet: Last night I was so proud to have signed the largest Defense Bill ever. The very vital Space Force was created. New planes, ships, missiles, rockets and equipment of every kind, and all made right here in the USA. Additionally, we got Border Wall (being built) funding. Nice!”


BEIJING — Rising space power China on Monday attacked the newly created U.S. Space Force as a “direct threat to outer space peace and security.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that China is “deeply concerned about it and resolutely opposed to it.”

“The relevant U.S. actions are a serious violation of the international consensus on the peaceful use of outer space, undermine global strategic balance and stability, and pose a direct threat to outer space peace and security,” Geng said at a regular briefing.

BBC news: President Donald Trump has officially funded a Pentagon force focused on warfare in space – the US Space Force.

The new military service, the first in more than 70 years, falls under the US Air Force.

At an army base near Washington, Mr Trump described space as “the world’s newest war-fighting domain”.

“Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital,” he said.

“We’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, but very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”

“The Space Force will help us deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground,” he added.




————————————————————————————————————————————–Just Published :Article From Jerry Barmash for Daily Mail  PUBLISHED:  15 September 2019  

U.S. is ‘ready’ to deploy its oil reserves to stop disruptions to global markets after drone attack suspends operations at Saudi Arabian processing facility

  • Drone strikes from Yemen rebels hits oil supply in Saudi Arabia
  • Half of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities were destroyed from Saturday attack
  • Yemen’s Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, take responsible for drone blasts  
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accuses Iran of ‘launching unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply’
  • President Trump said the United States ‘strongly condemns attack critical energy infrastructure 
  • Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the rebels since 2015 

The United States Energy Department said it is set to use resources from the Strategic Petroleum Oil Reserves, ‘if necessary, to offset any disruptions to oil markets,’ in the wake of a drone attack in Saudi Arabia on the world’s largest oil processing facility.

Full Piece



Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Björn Höcke (Germany), Peter   Casey, are preparing the ground for the New Hitlers, Mussolinis, General O’Duffys (Blueshirts)  Remember: Peter Casey came second in the 2018 Irish Presidential Election. The second world war was preceded by capitalist economic crisis and heightened worl-wide inter imperialist rivalry including trade wars

In the lead up to a Third World War, what are the chances of the following line-up occurring at some stage: USA-Russia vs Franco-German Axis- Peoples Republic of China??

Why is France Threatening To Veto any Brexit Extension?

Perhaps the final sentence in the statement of the French Foreign Minister is the most important: ‘We are not going to do (extend) this every three months,’ he said.

The Guardian and the Daily Mail have reported that France has threatened to Veto any extension  of the Brexit deadline beyond Oct 31. Perhaps the final sentence in the statement of the French Foreign Minister is the most important: ‘We are not going to do (extend) this every three months,’ he said. In the context of heightened inter-imperialist rivalry including trade/tariff wars between US and EU, it is to be expected that France will not tolerate “an enemy within” for very long. Johnson and the Tories are in League with TRUMP. While the UK remains a member of the EU, it has a veto on crucial political and economic matters. It can disrupt and paralyse the EU in the service of Trump with whom Johnson wishes to Ally.. France will not allow this to continue. Of course, as before the Second World War, inter-imperialist alliances can shift suddenly. Remember the Stalin-Hitler Pact.! Note Trumps recent kind words for Putin! When imperialist interests are in play, it would be wise not to rule anything out. States have no morals, just interests as we all know. My own opinion is that France will insist that the Brexit issue be fully resolved within months.

In the lead up to a Third World War, what are the chances of the following line-up occurring at some stage: USA-Russia vs Franco-German Axis- Peoples Republic of China??

Question to Me on Aubane List

What kind of Mass Action have you in Mind to Defeat the Far-Right?

REPLY by  Paddy Healy

Social Democracy, The Communist Part and its linked trade unions had huge support in Germany as the Nazi movement grew. Trotsky correctly advocated a political and trade union united front of the two to stop Hitler. Both refused to take his advice seeing their rivals in the workers movement as the main enemy.

The actions of the proposed united front would include  voting pacts but above all the general strike.

In a capitalist economic and political crisis many workers and poor people , who have been betrayed by their traditional and Trade union leaders , become vulnerable to recruitment to Far-Right forces using false promises and scapegoating Jews, Muslims, Black people, immigrants etc (It is happening again to-day)

It is vital that traditional workers organisations use over-whelming power such as the general strike to defeat attacks on workers and to demonstrate to the poor that their problems can be solved by the workers movement

In Ireland the capitulation of ICTU to Austerity while the Irish super-rich massively prospered has opened the way to the  far right. Tony Blair in the UK, European social democracy and the French Communist Party have much to answer for on the European continent


Trotsky Was First to Warn of Nazism

From The Militant ,Volume 1X No 19, 12 May 1945, p. 5.
The course of events in Europe have given terrible confirmation to Trotsky’s repeated warnings of the dangers of fascism. Before Hitler came to power, the statesmen of the capitalist “democracies” viewed the rise of fascism with sympathy, while the heads of the Social-Democratic and Stalinist organisations retreated without fighting before the onslaught of the Nazi gangs. Trotsky on the other hand sounded the. alarm from the very beginning. Here is one of his first warnings in 1931:

“The decisive hour is very close … The coming into power of the German ‘National Socialists’ would mean above all the extermination of the flower of the German proletariat, the disruption of its organizations, the extirpation of its belief in itself and in its future. Considering the far greater maturity and acuteness of the social contradictions in Germany, the hellish work of Italian Fascism would probably appear as a pale and almost humane experiment in comparison with the work of the German National Socialists … The struggle of the proletariat, taken unawares, disorientated, disappointed and betrayed by its own leadership, against the Fascist regime would be transformed into a series of frightful bloody and futile convulsions …

From The MilitantVol. IX No. 19, 12 May 1945, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

“It goes without saying, that some day triumphant Fascism will fall as a victim to the objective contradictions and to its own inadequacy. But for the immediate, perceptible future, for the next ten to twenty years, a victory of Fascism in Germany would mean a suspension in the development of revolutionary progress, collapse of the Comintern and the triumph of world imperialism in its most heinous and bloodthirsty forms.” (Germany – The Key to the International Situation, 1931)

Even before Hitler came to power Trotsky warned he would attack the Soviet Union:

“A victory of Fascism in Germany would signify the inevitable war against the USSR … Once Hitler comes into power and proceeds to crush the vanguard of the German workers, pulverizing and demoralizing the whole proletariat for many years to come, the Fascist government alone will be the only government capable of waging war against the USSR. Naturally, it will act under such circumstances in a common front with Poland and Rumania, with the other border states as well as with Japan in the Far East.” (Germany – The Key to the International Situation, 1931.)

As Hitler moved toward power, Trotsky, the founder of the Red Army, made a dramatic appeal to the Soviet Government to initiate a militant defense:

“In my opinion this is how the Soviet government OUGHT to act in case of a Fascist coup in Germany. Upon receiving the telegraphic communication of this event I would, in their place, sign an order for the mobilization of the army reserves. When you have a mortal enemy before you, and when war flows with necessity from the logic of the objective situation, it would be unpardonable light-mindedness to give that enemy time to establish and fortify himself, conclude the necessary alliances, receive the necessary help, work out a plan of concentric military actions- – not only from the west but from the east – and thus grow up to the dimensions of a colossal danger.” (Article in Liberty, July 16, 1932.)

Warn of War and Attack on USSR

After Hitler took power, many people thought he would not last long. Trotsky saw instead that Hitler was the harbinger of another world war:

“Simply to say that Hitler is a demagogue, an hysterical person and an actor is to shut one’s eyes so as not to face the danger! It takes more than hysteria to seize power, and method there must be in the Nazi madness. Woe to those who do not awaken to this fact in. time! The leaders of German working class organizations refused to take Hitler seriously: considering his program as a reactionary and Utopian one they proved incapable of estimating its force of action. Today, as a result of their ghastly mistake, their organizations have been shattered to bits. The same error might be repeated in the field of world politics.” (What Hitler Wants, 1933)

In face of the hope that Mussolini might become involved in conflict with Hitler, Trotsky pointed to the reality. Hitler, Trotsky said, was seeking allies.

“Hitler is counting upon the support of Italy and, within certain limits, this is assured him, not so much because their internal governments are similar – the purely German Third Reich is, as is known, a frankly Latin plagiarism – as because of the parallelism in many of their foreign aspirations. But with the Italian crutch alone, German imperialism will not rise to its feet. Only under the condition of support from England can Fascist Germany gain the necessary freedom of movement.” (What Hitler Wants, 1933)

Chamberlain, as the world knows, later appeased Hitler at Munich, thus fulfilling Trotsky’s prediction. But looking still further ahead, Trotsky foresaw a temporary pact between Stalin and Hitler:

“Hitler is preparing for war. His policy in the domain of economics is dictated primarily by concern over the maximum economic independence of Germany in case of war. To the aims of military preparation must also be subordinated the service of obligatory labor. But the very character of these measures indicates that it is not a question of tomorrow. An attack upon the West in the more or less immediate future could be carried out only on condition of a military alliance between Fascist Germany and the Soviets.” (What Hitler Wants, 1933)

While Hitler deluded the Allied statesmen with gestures over disarmament, Trotsky again and again warned that the main line of Hitler’s policy was directed toward war and attack of the Soviet Union.


Far-right AfD makes big gains but fails to topple mainstream parties

Exit polls put party second in German state elections in Saxony and Brandenburg

Kate Connolly,  in Berlin, Guardian, Sun 1 Sep 2019

The anti-immigration Alternative für Deutschland party made strong gains in two crucial state elections in Germany on Sunday, increasing its support significantly but failing to oust the mainstream parties.

But the sharp shift to the right in Saxony and Brandenburg – AfD came second in both states – is a blow to the ruling coalition of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD), both parties having lost thousands of voters to AfD.

The AfD was also able to mobilise several hundred thousand people who had never voted before, initial analysis showed.

Exit polls showed the CDU remaining the strongest party in Saxony but losing more than six points to secure 33%, while AfD reached 28.1% – a gain of 18 percentage points, and a larger share of the vote than pollsters had predicted.

In Brandenburg, the SPD, which has governed there since 1990, narrowly clung to first place, winning 26.6% and losing 5 points, while AfD secured 24.5%, a more than 10-point rise and a larger share than predicted.

AfD’s success in Saxony and Brandenburg, both in the former communist east, reflects the breakdown of support for Germany’s mainstream parties, the centre-right CDU and the left-of-centre SPD and, as elsewhere in Europe, the increasing fragmentation of the political landscape.

More than 5 million people were eligible to vote, about a 10th of the population.

Turnout was significantly higher than at the last elections in the states in 2014 – up 12 points to 60% in Brandenburg, and up 16 points to 65% in Saxony – in what was billed a historic poll, AfD’s first real electoral test in the region since it entered the national parliament as the leading opposition party two years ago.

Formed in 2013 as an anti-euro party, its strength has grown on the back of its opposition to the arrival in Germany of almost 1 million refugees in 2015.

It campaigned in Saxony and Brandenburg under the slogan “Vollende die Wende”, or “complete the transition” – promising to rectify the mistakes of the mainstream parties after German reunification almost three decades ago and to address the inequalities between citizens of the former east and west.

Björn Höcke, a leading AfD member based in the state of Thuringia, which votes on 27 October in what is expected to be another nail-biting election, said the polls offered “a strong indication that we’ll have a good future in Brandenburg and Saxony and in the whole of Germany”. Höcke represents AfD’s radical right contingent, whose influence in the party is likely to be strengthened by the result.

The Green party was celebrating gains in both states, of 3.3 points in Saxony, where it reached 8.6%, and 3.8 points in Brandenburg, reaching 10.2%, even though it failed to perform as strongly as had been predicted.

But it is likely to be an important player in the formation of coalitions in both Saxony and Brandenburg, where the SPD-Left party partnership lost its majority. All the major parties have ruled out forming a coalition with AfD, even though the CDU has come under pressure from its right wing to do so.

Because the slump in the performance of the mainstream parties was not as severe as predicted, the beleaguered grand coalition in Berlin under Merkel will gain some breathing space, as will the CDU’s chairwoman, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

She has failed to convince as a leader since taking over from Merkel in December, but will probably benefit from the CDU’s better than expected showing in Saxony. Merkel, who has led the country since 2005, has said she will not stand for re-election. The next German federal election is expected to be held between August and October 2021.

Analysis of the results showed that in Saxony, home to the notorious anti-immigrant campaign group Pegida, often seen as the protest arm of AfD, voters’ main motivation for choosing AfD was out of conviction for its political message, while the majority of AfD supporters in Brandenburg said they voted in protest against the policies of the mainstream government.


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