Lainey Molnar has taken social media by storm. Her drawings depict the way the world perceives women as opposed to the way a lot of real women actually are.
I’ve always been honest and transparent about my mental health journey, especially after being diagnosed with bipolar and beating the illness after stepping on the way of spirituality, lightwork and finally happiness.
I believe that the pressure on women comes from both inside our own community and outside, be it family, media, or men. It is incredibly hard to navigate all of their expectations and reach the milestones society has set out for us, like maintaining the perfect size and shape, being maternal but also ambitious, strong but also sensitive, staying youthful and fresh while gracefully accepting the aging process, looking ideal but not overdoing plastic surgery. I could go on and on and on, and we are all so tired of this.
Can we make mass media stop making us feel like the only way to deal with periods is pretending they don't exist. There are hundreds of millions of us bleeding every few weeks and especially for someone like me, who gets excruciating cramps and spends days crying in the fetal position guzzling pain killers. Its not very inspiring to to see women in ads giggling in white outfits. Leakage is usually the least of my concerns. Its part of life and not shameful, we can talk about it, we can go through the symptoms without suppressing them and we should be able to choose a tampon/pad/cup brand without them making us feel inadequate.
Life choices don’t range from wrong to right based on societal expectations. The last 30 or so years the world turned upside down - the internet, social media, dating apps, remote work, digital nomads, startups, cheap air travel, EU, globalization, and the cracking of the glass ceiling raised generations of women whose priority isn’t marriage or children. We are the 30-something Lost Boys, half of our friends our age buy houses and raise families and the other half is still at school, figuring themselves out. There’s a constant pressure of missing out on something and the constant validation of freedom.
On Tuesday 10th of November there was an historic motion of no confidence in the sitting Tainiste and leader of Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar. An unusual event in Irish politics that won’t be forgotten too easily.
What brought this about is a character named Chay Bowes disclosed a series of WhatsApp messages to Village Magazine, frustrated by what he described as vested interests subverting the common good. Village magazine didn’t hold any punches, publishing a story about the leaking of a confidential document.
The Village front cover screamed Leo, Law Breaker. A headline that would generate public uproar in any country but our own. The article could also have created an opportunity for an aspiring party member with their eyes on leadership to call on Leo to step down. However Fine Gael remained tightly knit and neither a past nor present TD spoke out against what had been painted as an old boys club tethering on corruption.
The article itself warned of a potential quid pro quo for Varadkar, a breach of the ethics act, a potential breach of the Official Secrets Act and a Crime under the Corruption Act. The evidence laid out in the magazine prompted TD Paul Murphy to make a complaint to the political standards watchdog; SIPO.
Later in the month FF appointed Geraldine Feeney, a former lobbyist for NAGP, to sit on SIPO. The president of NAGP was at the centre of the controversy having received the leaked document from Leo, from an outsider’s perspective it seemed like poor timing to make this appointment and hard to swallow that it wasn’t intended to influence the outcome of an investigation into misbehaviour by the former Taoiseach.
Back to the vote on the 10th of November, in what was most likely a matter that should have been dealt with internally, the political parties ended up trading blows over Fine Gaels dirty laundry. Of course it was full of bluster, with more mentions of Sinn Fein than Leo Varadkar and the Labour Party seemed unclear about which side of the house they were sitting on. The following is a summary of the debate without the mudslinging and bluster:
No one has demonstrated any personal gain from how the document was distributed and public policy was not adversely impacted. The Tánaiste has acknowledged his error and all details have been published. Lessons have been learned all round and Ministers realise such situations should not occur during this Government.
Leo Varadkar has been a colleague of mine for many years and he is a person I have grown to know well and trust. Leo's motivation in bringing the National Association of General Practitioners, NAGP, into the fold on a new GP contract was well-meaning but it did take a shortcut. He should not have mailed the document to the NAGP president. He should instead have had the association briefed officially. The Tánaiste has apologised for this and said that it was wrong and not best practice. The Tánaiste has already been before this House to explain himself thoroughly and to take questions. It is obvious now that for some what is ongoing is not about establishing facts or truth but about sustaining a political smear campaign masquerading as whistle-blowing to inflict maximum political damage.
There is one politician who knows the meaning of the national interest and that is Leo Varadkar. When our country faced some of its darkest hours this year, Leo Varadkar was there. He led from the start and he led from the front.
Mary Lou McDonald:
When he was Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar leaked a confidential draft contract to a third party, to his friend. The refusal of the current Taoiseach to hold the Tánaiste and leader of Fine Gael to account left a no confidence motion as the only sanction available to us as an Opposition.
The truth is that if a junior civil servant or any departmental official leaked a confidential document they would be sacked, end of story. When Leo Varadkar leaked this document he was the Taoiseach. He was the head of government and that position comes with the highest level of responsibility, with the greatest need for ethical and honest conduct and, therefore, it comes with a greater demand for accountability.
The Labour Party told the Tánaiste to come clean, to tell the truth, to dispense with the incredible yarn he had been peddling and to apologise, and perhaps there may have been a way out for him. However, the Tánaiste chose not to do that. He persisted with the line that he was leaking the document for the good of the document, a statement that takes the entire country for fools.
The question is not only should the Dáil have confidence in him, but should any trade union have confidence that they can negotiate with this Government in good faith, or should any Minister have confidence that they can share a confidential document with the Tánaiste in good faith. The fact is, in all honesty, they cannot.
Having listened to the Tánaiste set out his version of events, his admission that what had happened was not right and his apology for such an error of judgment. We accepted that apology.
I express my full confidence in the Tánaiste, Deputy Varadkar. I have served in government with the Tánaiste since 2014 and knew him for many years before that. The personal and political qualities I have known in him in that time have been apparent again in recent weeks - his openness, honesty and accountability; his genuine commitment to advancing the public interest; and his willingness to acknowledge a mistake. Leo Varadkar's politics are those of decency, progress and doing the right thing by our country. His track record is clear in the leadership he demonstrated in delivering the best outcomes for our country in the many challenges of Brexit; his empathy and decisiveness in leading our country through a demanding and dark phase of Covid-19; and his unstinting support for the management of the economy, public pay and public finances, which has enabled us to meet this moment of challenge from a position of strength
The simple fact is that the leader of Fine Gael broke the rules. He breached the confidentiality of Cabinet and sensitive Government contract negotiations, all to give a dig out to a friend. If anyone did this in any other job, they would be sacked. Just because he was the head of Government does not mean that lower standards should be applied
It seems that Fine Gael is fertile recruiting ground for lobbyists who trade in access and influence. All of this has a price. Ordinary people pay the consequence for such insider trading.
It is time to end low standards in high places, time to end insider dealing and time for a Government that looks out for everyone and not just its friends.
The Tánaiste first tried to make out that the confidential document which he leaked was somehow not confidential, despite it being clearly marked "Confidential, not for circulation". This was a negotiation document that was still in process with the IMO.
The Tánaiste tried to make out that what he did was some kind of noble action, that he had a legitimate objective and that he was honouring the Government commitment. There was no basis whatsoever for this claim. Anyone who knew anything about medical politics at the time knew that the row between the NAGP and the IMO was vicious. The Tánaiste had been a member of the IMO and, anyway, he had lots of friends who were GPs from both organisations, as he has told us. We know the intention of the NAGP's inner sanctum was to scupper the IMO's win on the contract negotiations and to upstage the IMO on the eve of its annual general meeting by releasing details of the arrangement.
Not only was the Tánaiste aware that he should not have interfered with the work of the Minister for Health but he also knew that, according to the Cabinet handbook, he was bound by the officeholders' code of conduct which states that officeholders should respect confidences entrusted to them in the course of their official duties. The Tánaiste clearly breached this requirement. His Trumpian defence that he, as Taoiseach at the time, was the arbiter of what he was allowed to do is laughable.
Leo Varadkar is a committed, energetic, smart and sincere leader. I have seen his judgment at first hand during the Covid-19 pandemic and his leadership in trying to keep us all safe as we grappled with a deadly virus. We would not have a new general practice agreement were it not for his leadership. He set it is an absolute priority on becoming Taoiseach. He brought Departments together around the table, banged heads, set objectives, timelines and funding streams and he got it done.
When the Tánaiste made a mistake, he apologised. Everybody makes mistakes and I am sure none of us wishes to be defined by them.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are uniting to defend corrupt behaviour while the Green Party is asleep at the wheel. Tonight, Leo Varadkar will get away with it as a result. He will face no consequence as a result of breaking the code of conduct for Deputies, breaking the code of conduct for officeholders, and committing a crime under the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act. *(Ceann Comhairle noted the commission of crimes is something that is adjudicated on by a court of law, not by any of us sitting here in Dáil Éireann. Paul Murphy rephrases his statement to accommodate)
The Tánaiste made himself available and accountable last week for detailed questioning by Deputies. He answered completely and honestly. He has admitted he should have done things differently and he apologised for it. Everyone in politics makes mistakes. It is human nature. Some mistakes are more serious than others. The Tánaiste's error is certainly not one that warrants resignation. It was a mistake of process rather than substance.
The Tánaiste, Deputy Varadkar, is a politician who gets things done. As Taoiseach he worked hard to get so many things done. As Taoiseach, he worked very closely with his Cabinet colleagues and he was always informed. He was solution focused and was always determined to find a solution, even in the most difficult of circumstances. He took his mandate as Taoiseach very seriously and at all times was conscious of the enormous responsibility placed on his very young shoulders.
The Tánaiste does not wear his heart on his sleeve but that does not diminish his passion to serve all the people or his ambition to get things done.
The issues at stake are very clear. Deputy Varadkar, as Taoiseach in 2019, gave a confidential draft document, a contract worth €210 million that was still under discussion with the IMO, to his friend, the president of a rival organisation, on his request. It was done not through official channels but through private text messages before deleting all traces of the correspondence. A friend of the Taoiseach requested a confidential Government document by text message and Leo delivered. End of. If a civil servant did the same, it would constitute gross misconduct, trigger disciplinary action and be grounds for dismissal
The Tánaiste's excuse for leaking the confidential documents simply does not hold up. He claims it was some part of a mastermind strategy to get the contract over the line, but strategy requires initiative. This was at his initiative. It was his friend who requested the document from the Minister for Health. That Minister refused to give it to him because it was confidential but Leo delivered for his friend. When he was asked to get it, he obliged. He did so in secret and without telling anyone, covering his tracks and deleting the correspondence. He claims leaking the document was part of a strategy to engage with the NAGP but we know there was no engagement with the NAGP on the part of the Government or the Department of Health. Indeed, the only engagement was when Deputy Varadkar stuck a confidential document in the post to give to his friend, the head of the organisation that was rival to the IMO. The Tánaiste says the agreement was in the public domain but it was not. Every single one of the 130 pages had stamped across it, “Confidential. Not for circulation.” We are aware there were at least 35 further changes.
The Tánaiste has been caught red-handed. He leaked confidential, commercially sensitive Government information to a friend. He and his Government colleagues believe he is above accountability but he is not, nor should he be.
What the Tánaiste did in handing over confidential documents to a GP friend was wrong. That the then Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, was not aware of that sharing of information was also wrong. It displayed a lack of trust in the then Minister. The bottom line is that the then Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, displayed a complete lack of judgment and undermined his colleagues in government and in his party. If such a situation involving one of his colleagues in government were to arise, I doubt that the Tánaiste would take the same approach. The record speaks for itself in this regard, with the Tánaiste having thrown colleagues under the bus in the past in similar situations.
I reiterate that Leo Varadkar has done wrong. He needs to face the consequences of his actions. In my opinion, his party needs to reprimand him. It is Fine Gael's responsibility to deal with this matter
I will support the motion of confidence in the Tánaiste. This is not because I believe that he did nothing wrong. In fact, what he did was wrong and he should face the consequences for doing it, but action should be taken by his party, Fine Gael. The Government has far more important issues to deal with than this.
We are sent here to try to resolve differences and conflicts, not to create division.
Leo Varadkar is a politician who has done that throughout his career. He sought to progress change in a community where he understood that change is disruptive and can hurt people. He has sought to bring people with us.
People are looking to politics now for competence and compassion. That is what Leo Varadkar has shown, especially during this difficult Covid-19 crisis, but his political opponents want to drag him down.
I am concerned about the lack of consistency with regard to sanctions. We have seen several Oireachtas Members already sanctioned this year and the year has not yet ended. The general public are asking politicians like me why there is no consistency in sanctions and a lack of consistency in this case. The lack of sanction in this case forced the hand of the Opposition. In that respect, the fault lies with the Tánaiste and the Government alone. On account of this fact and this stark reality, I will be voting no confidence in the Tánaiste.
The document should at the very least have been passed on through formal channels. The Tánaiste came before the Dáil last week, accepted his errors of judgment and apologised. He made a serious mistake but has apologised publicly more than once. In my opinion, intent matters as much as, if not more than, process. While the process was wrong, I accept the Tánaiste's explanation that his intent was good in that it was to secure universal acceptance of a GP contract across the GP community.
Yesterday, an article was published purporting to show that the Tánaiste had deliberately attempted to mislead the Dáil as to the extent of his friendship with Maitiú Ó Tuathail. I have looked at that evidence, which consists largely of WhatsApp messages from Maitiú Ó Tuathail. Running through the messages is a pervasive sense of entitlement: "We are the boys who run the show, or who should run the show." Underpinning these flights of fancy was the claim of easy access to the Tánaiste and senior Ministers. However, Dr. Ó Tuathail has in media reports accepted the Tánaiste's version of events, namely, that they had three meetings, so I see no evidence of a smoking gun.
I have not deviated from the subject in hand to make political points. There are many to make, but I have not done so. For me, this is not about political point-scoring; it is about the matter in hand. As already stated, intent matters as much as, if not more than, process. In these circumstances, I believe that the former outweighs the latter and I will vote confidence in the Tánaiste.
The Tánaiste could simply apologise and step down, as a previous Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald, did. There is no excuse for Fianna Fáil and Green Party Deputies to say they have confidence in the Tánaiste. He undermined best practice in the context of standards in public office - this much he has admitted - and should now face the consequences of his actions. If the Tánaiste thinks that "Welfare cheats cheat us all", what does he think about politicians who behave as if they are above the standards set for us and for those in the Civil Service? Who is cheated then? The electorate is definitely cheated, as are those of us elected representatives who try to earn the public's trust in politics.
I have worked with the Tánaiste for eight years. I have seen how he works with other people and with organisations, political parties and colleagues. I have seen how he has worked in difficult situations with challenging problems as he tries to ensure that he listens to every single position put forward and that the best outcome is reached for everybody concerned. One does not have to work with him closely to see this; one need only look at the work he has done on Brexit. He is an honourable person. He cares about his work. People say he is ambitious. To be an ambitious public representative is to ensure the best possible outcome in everything one does for the people whom one represents.
As Taoiseach, one of Deputy Varadkar's priorities - and he made no secret of this - was to ensure that a deal was reached for a new GP contract. He is a former Minister for Health and someone who has trained as a GP and who saw the benefits of the contract, not just for patients but also for GPs and the wider public. This was his sole motive in sharing this document with the NAGP. He has apologised for how this was done but has also answered every question put to him in the House.
I wish to restate my apology to the House. I am sorry for my actions that gave rise to tonight's motion and I accept sole responsibility for them. While my motivations were sound, the manner in which I conducted myself was not. I do regret this and I have learned from it. This is the first time I have faced a motion of no confidence or a motion of confidence in my career. It forces me to reflect on the decisions I have made and the things I could have done differently and would do differently in future.
Patricia Piccinini was inspired to create this exquisite representation of a genetically engineered primate feeding a human baby after reading a story about a female baboon whose baby died while still nursing. The primate mother overwhelmed by grief abducted a human child as a substitute (the child was later recovered unharmed).
The biological imperative to hold your child close is not something 'learned' from a guru, a lecture, or any number of parenting manuals; it's pure instinct, so overwhelmingly powerful it transcends everything. The desire to touch their skin, stroke their hair, breathe them in, and hold them safe just beneath your heart is born of a rapture that defies rhyme, reason, and logic.
The human urge to connect, to care, to nurture is what makes mankind unique, that is to say this urge has the power to unite us when so much threatens to divide us.
To all the Mums, the Dads, the carers, the nurturers out there; you are the custodians of our future leaders, and with every act of love you demonstrate what it means to be a hero.
Instagram post from @madmadswest inspired by artist @patricia.piccinini
The following post is an extract from Exhibit Alexandra written by Natasha Bell, it features in the book as a thesis written by the main character called “Are Aesthetic Emotions More or Less ‘Real’ Than Those Experienced in Life? Or, I Miss Tony Soprano??”
Over a period of months last year, my husband and I watched the box set, series 1 to 6, of The Sopranos. Like other across the globe, the characters infiltrated our lives like friends and enemies. We spoke about their motivations and predicaments, debated their options and futures. Then they were gone.
With an unsettlingly abrupt final episode and the last depression of our player’s eject button, they were out of our lives. We discussed the ending for a few days, then moved on to American Horror Story. Now, twelve months later, I still miss the character of Tony Soprano. I miss he presence in my conscious psyche; I miss knowing I can return to his world at the end of a long day.
I also miss my father, who gave up after a long fight with cancer a decade ago. I miss those sweets that tasted like soap, which I was only allowed on holiday when I was a child. I miss my daughters when they’re at school and I miss my student days, when I felt I could achieve anything. I miss being able to read Jane Austen for the first time and fall in love with the characters afresh. I miss Father Christmas and vampires, unicorns and digital watches.
I miss dozens of things, real and imagined, to varying degrees and with no or a full desire to have them returned to me. But are some of these emotions of a different class? Of differing importance?
Ed S. Tan distinguishes between A- and R- emotions. Aesthetic and Real Emotions. In other word, Art-world and Life-world emotions. He goes on to discuss the difference between emotions related to actual artworks and those related to the things represented within the artworks. I’ll call these A- and A2- emotions. Missing Tony Soprano, who is not a real person an whom I have never met, is an A2 emotion, while mourning the end of the HBO series, which was a feature in my real life, is an A-emotion.
All very amusing, but why are both sets of A-emotions considered less worthy than their R- counterparts? Sure, it doesn’t have a truly physical impact on my life if the final blackout ending of The Sopranos means Tony Soprano was shot, whereas my world would spin into turmoil if one of my close friends was hit by a bullet while eating dinner in a restaurant with his family. But is crying during your favourite soap opera really any more ridiculous than shedding tears while reading a tragic story in the newspaper?
‘Real’ is a judgement label, which I blame for some of the value imbalance between R- and A- emotions, but I think it goes deeper. It’s ingrained in our social constructs that, whatever job we choose, religion we sign up to or life philosophy we decide to pursue, we should expect to live essentially like our neighbours: in cookie-cutter moulds of birth-to-death cycles. Perhaps, it’s a product of capitalism or something more innate. Either way, I’d argue that there’s something quite absurd about holding R- emotions so high above A-s when the R-s are only those that everyone else experiences. On the whole, you and I and the kids down the road will all fall in love, be let down, feel rejected by someone we care about, achieve something we wanted, bury our parents, hold our children, question our god .... and so on.
There is a finite number of R- emotions – a very large finite number, but a finite number nonetheless – from which each of us will lucky-dip only a tiny percentage. But the A-s are different. Artists have been working for millennia to manipulate our emotional responses to their work: to create a whole new pool of emotions and feelings, and to seek original thought and unique experiences. Surely, for that reason alone, the A-s should have a higher place on the shelf of worth. I’m not saying that R-s do not hurt and sting and make your flesh ache with longing, but why must we cling to them when they have been felt over and over for centuries with no evolution?
Would it not be more sensible to pursue the unknown? To seek the edge of human experience, experiment with manipulating and controlling emotions rather than sitting back and waiting for the world to tell us what too feel? The artist who makes me cry shows far more talent, far more skill, than the boyfriend who dumps me. One has thought, with precision about her product, considered its impact on me, the viewer, rehearsing and tweaking her performance, while the other has simply followed some gut instinct. Some evolutionary impulse to cut his losses and flee.
And while the inadvertently Darwinian of the two might crush my heart and seem like the most tragic thing in the world for some miniscule moment in my trivial existence, the artist and her art, should it be of suitable worth, will live on beyond my heartbreak and beyond her own lifetime, framed in galleries, reperformed for decades, ore merely played on the screens across the globe. Sad as the implications about individual human worth might be, I’d hazard a guess that more people miss Tony Soprano than my dad.
Ever wonder how you can change the world without changing the way you live?
Well some very bright young Trinity graduates might have just come up with the solution by creating a loyalty card for charity.
“While studying at Trinity Conor Leen became more aware of the issue of inequality and how as a society, not enough is being done to tackle issues like food poverty. To address the problem of world hunger and to make a positive impact on society Connor and 5 of his fellow Trinity classmates set up the social enterprise Stampify.” @collegetimesct
“Stampify is a social initiative that allows users to donate meals to help fight world hunger by completing a Stampify loyalty card with loyalty stamps from partner businesses,” CEO and founder @ConorLeen
These “partner businesses” are basically coffee shops and they’re everywhere. This is a social movement that can make a difference and any barista can sign up. Basically if you fancy feeling like Bob Geldof and George Clooney at the same time make sure your coffee comes with a Stampify card.
To use Stampify, you simply pick up a Stampify loyalty card next time you get a coffee and start collecting stamps on it. It’s better than putting a stamp on those regular selfish “freebie for me” cards that you eventually end up using as a filter for your rollies anyway.
“Chances are that if many of us emptied out our wallets, out will fall three or four half-filled loyalty cards.” @JOEdotie
The main benefit is that you can then mix-and-match loyalty stamps from different cafes to complete the card, before returning it to any of them, feed a child for a week, and feel like Bob Clooney for the rest of the day.
“To provide meals to fight world hunger, we have partnered with international aid charity Mary’s Meals. For every completed card, partners make a donation to Mary’s Meals which is used to feed a child for a week.” @stampifyireland
“For every completed card, a child will be fed for a week in their place of education in some of the world's most deprived countries .... For now the initiative is aiding children in countries such as Zambia, India and Malawi.” @Independent_ie
This summer I've noticed a lot of wild looking patches in public parks growing some fairly colourful flowers and I've been wondering why this chaotic scrub has become the latest trend across the country.
As it so happens this out of control looking garden wildness is part of an initiative called the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. Councils up and down the land are taking part but there are still gaps on the map so please have a read and encourage your local council to take part.
This all began because one third of our bee species are now threatened with extinction. This is because we have drastically reduced the amount of food (flowers) and safe nesting sites in our landscapes. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is about all of us, from farmers to local authorities, to schools, gardeners and businesses, coming together to try to create an Ireland where pollinators can survive and thrive.
Without the pollination service freely provided by our bees and hoverflies, it would be increasingly difficult and expensive for farmers to produce some crops at current scales, and could result in a loss of consumer choice for Irish grown products. The beauty of the Irish landscape would also be affected without pollinators to maintain the diversity of our wild plants and support healthy ecosystems.
To give this some context, the annual value of pollinators for human food crops has been estimated at €153 billion world-wide and at least €53 million in the Republic of Ireland.
The real economic value of pollinators to the Irish economy is likely to be greater than currently estimated. Current evaluations don’t take into account the value of pollinators to forage crops (clovers), in pest control (e.g.,the role of hoverflies in protecting winter wheat crops), or their value to private gardeners and communities who grow a wide range of pollinator-dependent fruits and vegetables.
Maintaining biodiversity in the farm system future-proofs how the land can be used for generations to come. It is important to accept that if wild pollinator species were to be lost from the Irish landscape, they could not be replaced, regardless of monetary input.
So unless you want to live in a Blackmirror episode go out there and make your garden grow, and write to your recently elected local councilor to tell them you love the bees and want to see a pollinator patch in your park.
This Plan was initiated by Úna FitzPatrick (National Biodiversity Data Centre) and Jane Stout (Trinity College Dublin), and then developed by a fifteen member All-Ireland steering group. For more info check out their website pollinators.ie
I figure there’s no better time than the 4th of July to acknowledge that Trump has finally crossed the line, into North Korea that is, a country as well known for being a cartoon villain as it is for its humanitarian abuses and nuclear missile testing.
A site I like to visit from time to time is the Human Rights Watch page to look through their annual review of human rights across the globe. Here is what they have to say about North Korea:
“North Korea remains one of the world’s most repressive states. In his seventh year in power, Kim Jong-un—who serves as chairman of the States Affairs Commission and head of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea—continues to exercise almost total political control. The government restricts all civil and political liberties, including freedom of expression, assembly, association, and religion. It also prohibits all organized political opposition, independent media, civil society, and trade unions.”
On Trumps visit into North Korea The New Yorker reported:
President Donald Trump praised that nation’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, for his efforts on immigration, telling Kim, “No one is trying to get into your country.”
Barely containing his envy, Trump continued, “Of course, you don’t have Congress to deal with, like I do. They’ve caused all the problems I’ve had on immigration. You’ve got a much better deal. You want to build a wall, you build a wall. No one can tell you you can’t.”
But how exactly would North Korea build such a wall, let’s jump back into the HRW report to find out:
“The government routinely uses arbitrary arrest and punishment of crimes, torture in custody, and executions to maintain fear and control over the population. The government and security agencies systematically extract forced, unpaid labour from its citizens— including women, children, detainees, and prisoners—to build infrastructure, implement projects, and carry out activities and events extolling the ruling Kim family and the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).”
“The government uses forced labour from ordinary citizens, including children, to control its people and sustain its economy. A significant majority of North Koreans must perform unpaid labour at some point in their lives.
Ordinary North Korean workers are not free to choose their own job. The government assigns jobs to both men and unmarried women from cities and rural areas. In many cases, these enterprises do not compensate them, forcing them to find other jobs to survive and pay bribes to be absent at their assigned workplace. Failing to show up for work without permission is a crime punishable by three to six months in forced labour training camps (rodong dallyeondae).”
The report also highlights while North Korea might not have trouble with people trying to get into the country it has significant difficulty with people trying to get out:
“Kim Jong-un’s government bolstered efforts to prevent people from leaving North Korea without permission by increasing the number of border guards, CCTV cameras, and barbed wire fences on its border with China. Other tactics included jamming Chinese mobile phone services at the border and targeting for arrest those communicating with people outside the country.”
“The Ministry of People’s Security considers defection to be a crime of “treachery against the nation.” Harsh punishments apply to North Koreans forcibly returned by China. The severity of punishment depends on authorities’ assessments of what returnees did while in China. North Koreans caught working or living in China are sent to long term ordinary prisons (kyohwaso) or short-term detention facilities (rodong danryeonda). Those discovered trying to reach South Korea are treated more harshly and may be sent to North Korea’s horrific political prison camp system (kwanliso), where prisoners face torture, sexual violence, forced labour, and other inhuman treatment.”
Seems like Trump has really got his finger on the pulse when it comes to how well North Korea is doing. It’s also downright bizarre that Trump would legitimise the North Korean dictator when the country reacts so heavy handed towards its neighbours in the South, who remain an ally of the US.
If Trump gets a second term New America will probably end up doing a trade deal with North Korea and Human Rights Violations will not only be ignored but become the norm in the MAGA Empire. The world should be shocked by Trump crossing the line and American voters should be alarmed at the course their country is on, because whether you’re drinking out of toilets at the border or making flip flops in a concentration camp in North Korea, New America is sending a message that it doesn’t care about Human Rights.
Luke Flanagan hosted a talk on PESCO in NUI Galway on 08/11/2018. Speakers at the event, titled "Are we heading towards an EU Army”, included Luke Flanagan, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Thomas Pringle, Catherine Connolly, Karen Devine, Roger Cole, & Claudia Haydt.
Luke introduces the discussion by quoting Commissioner Frederica Mogherini selling PESCO as “Using weapons in the European Way”
“No need to worry”, Luke quips, “Cuddly bullets and the like”.
In his own words Luke describes PESCO with an analogy, “People say this is not an army, but that’s a bit like me saying I’m not married to my wife, I’m in a permanent structured co-operation agreement with her”.
Luke puts it in plain terms when he suggests that “We need to use the right language, to describe PESCO as anything other than a European army is denying reality.”
Of course most of the time we’re not that interested about what goes on in Europe, it seems arduous to spend time on European politics when we’re such a small fish in a big pond, but I think credit is due to Luke Flanagan for giving us a voice in Europe and reintroducing European politics to the people of Ireland, and letting us know that we can make a difference.
What might have been considered a low key event, as it didn’t get a lot of attention in the media, but I guarantee you this talk is worth a watch, as it’s more worthwhile than listening to Claire Byrne Live, The Tonight Show, or The Cutting Edge, or whatever else passes for public information/debate these days.
The knowledge of the various speakers, and the opportunity to hear them speak on this topic is unrivaled, meaning this is the one video you should watch if you want to educate yourself on PESCO and Ireland’s involvement in a European army.
Dave Murphy is the press officer for the Solidarity party, principal writer for the party’s newsletter, and described by Phoenix Magazine as the most dangerous man in Ireland. He’s recently written about the Pope’s visit to Ireland, growing inequality, abortion legislation, and mass evictions by Landlords.
Even if you’re not a fan of the party or its politics the newsletter is a good place to view real issues facing real people in your community. A recent entry called “Rainy Day Fund? More Like A New Bank Bailout Fund!” is one of the only articles you’ll find criticising the government’s budget in plain language. Whenever I hear someone propose the government spends more money on social services someone always goes; “Where are we going to get the money for that, who’s going to pay for it?” I wonder how closely people actually look at the budget or if people know what our country's finances are like.
The fact is we’re a very wealthy country, we’ve sold off and leased some of our best assets, and on top of this rainy day fund there have been massive budget cuts two years in a row by a government desperate to maintain support. Murphy’s article takes a jab at the Rainy Day Fund and questions its real purpose.
Solidarity TD Paul Murphy responded to reports that Minister Paschal Donohoe intends to take €1.5 Billion from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to establish the fund, alongside a portion of corporation tax income, to establish the 'rainy day fund'.
Paul Murphy TD, member of the Finance Committee, said:
“The establishment of a so-called ‘rainy day fund’ by Fine Gael and agreed by Fianna Fail is another example of how out of touch they are with reality. For the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the many crises in society – be it housing or health – every day is a rainy day, it's monsoon season.
“People will remember what happened the National Pension Reserve Fund, which was raided to pay for the bank bailouts. That is in reality what this fund is being established for again – it will be a new bank bailout fund. The 'expenditure benchmark' fiscal rule will effectively prevent it being used for necessary public investment. It will only be allowed to be spent in cases of ‘external shocks’, which in reality means when banks inevitably fail again.
“Solidarity has called for the funds in the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and NAMA to be brought together and used to tackle the housing crisis. Instead, the government plans to siphon off cash to create a safety net for bankers.
“A radically different approach is needed – one which breaks with the neo-liberal orthodoxy and treats the budget as an opportunity to address the housing and public services crises. That means an end to the reliance on the free market to resolve these crises and the implementation of socialist policies based on public investment and democratic public ownership of the key sectors of the economy, including banking, instead. In that way, the wealth in society could deliver a decent life for all and economically and environmentally sustainable growth could be planned for.”
(Picture from McGoughart)
RTÉ shocked audiences with a recent report that gay and transgender people in Tanzania have gone into hiding after Paul Makonda (a senior government official) called on the public to report suspected homosexuals so that they could be arrested from early next week.
Makonda was anticipating backlash from people who lived outside Tanzania, but said that he would “prefer to anger those countries than to anger God.”
Makonda said the goal is to eradicate prostitution and homosexuality. He said in a press conference Wednesday that the public sent police the names of more than 200 people and he announced the names of some who were frequently named. He said some people had been accused of being homosexual because their walking style was deemed "gay."
Tanzania has had a reputation for being more tolerant than its neighbour Uganda but since President John Magufuli came to power three years ago campaigners say the little protection, representation and freedom LGBT people have is being slowly eroded. In June last year Magufuli said that "even cows" disapprove of homosexuality.
A government taskforce will now begin hunting down and arresting people who are, or are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI), detainee’s face a prison sentence of 30 years. Under British colonial-era laws homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania, with same-sex acts between men punishable by a maximum life sentence. Tanzania is one of 37 previously colonized Commonwealth nations that still uphold colonial sodomy laws.
Tanzania has a poor record of respecting and protecting the rights of LGBTI people. The government has in the past raided organizations working on health issues for men who have sex with men, threatening to close them down.
In October 2016, a Ministry of Health directive suspended provision of HIV/AIDS services and ordered the closure of AIDS clinics for providing services to LGBTI people. In that clamp-down, the authorities arrested and prosecuted people for same-sex relations, subjecting them to forced anal examinations, a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that can amount to torture.
In October 2017, 13 health and human rights activists, including two South Africans and one Ugandan, were arrested and detained by Tanzanian authorities for ‘promoting homosexuality’ in Tanzania.
The news highlights the prevalence of anti-gay laws in Africa, where 34 countries ban gay sexual relations.
The Champs Voice
Interesting stories from around the web