Saturday, February 26, 2011

Germans call on Guttenberg to go

Fortunately, Germans took to the streets today to object to their lying and cheating defence minister.

It is now time for Chancellor Merkel to dismiss her minister.

Guttenberg wears that modern no-nonsense pseudo conservative mask. It is the new game in town and growing in popularity in State and church.

There may well be many more doctoral theses worth checking.

The German Army knows well what it means to have a liar and cheat in charge. And for that reason alone Guttenberg should be dismissed.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Remains in cabinet having lied and cheated

That Chancellor Merkel allows a man who lies and cheats remain in her cabinet is worrying. Frau Merkel cannot now wag her finger and tell others how to behave.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Deutschlandfunk Friday 06.48/07.48 UK time

Interesting report on Irish election on Deutschlandfunk this Friday at 07.48 German time or 06.48 Irish/UK time.

Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg must go

It cannot be good for democracy, for the EU, for Germany that the German defence minister is economic with the truth. Th man does not tell the truth.

His behaviour on being discovered to have plagiarised his doctoral thesis is typical of the Freiherr.

How can Frau Merkel expect to be respected when a minister in her cabinet cheats and lies.

To think what would happen a poor Bundeswehr soldier if he lied and cheated in Afghanistan?

And they speak of him as a future chancellor.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Bavarian Freiherr seems to have cheated

The current revelations about German defence minister Karl Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg is another sad story about those who rule us.

What is far more sad are the functionaries, the lawyers, the theologians who try to justify how to keep the rulers apart from the ruled.

Karl Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg tells the story with his title.

And the Freiherr dares visit working class German troops in Afghanistam. Even brings his wife for the photo shoot.

Friday, February 18, 2011

German minister might not pen his own words

Germany's defence minister Karl Theodor zu Guttenburg is in the headlines again. This time the spotlight is on his doctoral thesis. There are allegations that he plagiarised.

The right wing minister is popular.

The arrival of the Bavarian aristocrat on the German political landscape has to be a cause for concern.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Irish Rail's unfair fares

If a passenger buys a €20 Irish Rail Dublin Cork single ticket for a specific train and then decides to change the time of travel to an earlier train, Irish Rail charges a €30 surcharge. If a passenger buys a single ticket for the same journey on the internet the ticket costs €36.

Can anyone try to explain the logic of that?

It does not make sense and it is neither fair nor sensible.

Fair fares please

Trite and silly words versus great words

Anyone who has read Hans Fallada's Wolf Among Wolves will have got a great insight into 1920s Germany.

Nor is he kind to the words spoken by the established regular clergy.

But most of all reading Fallada one is put in touch with great writing.

And then to have to see the words of so much terrible writing. The establishment material, the material that comes so glibly off the tongues of the 'permanent civil service' - State and church. Gosh, it is simply terrible.

Fallada wrote what he saw, believed and thought. Church and State spin doctors write what is expected of them.

Anyone who dares try preach the Gospel cannot avoid Fallada.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On fire in Kerry without a brigade

The article below appears in today's regional Irish newspapers of INM.

By Michael Commane
These days most of us are up in arms with what has happened Ireland and how we let it happen and right under our noses.

For years upon years we were told what was best for us and most people accepted on face value what they were being told.

There is much lip service given to protecting rural Ireland. But life on
the ground tells a different story.

The West Kerry village of Castlegregory has just lost its voluntary fire service. The authorities closed the rail service in 1939. They, the superior caste, promised a replacement bus service. Today there is a once-a-week token bus service. A social and economic Irish joke. So what, you say, I don’t live in Castlegregory. But you do – we all live somewhere and this shortsighted madness affects us all in different ways. For Castlegregory read your town, your village, Ireland, today.

In the past everything was explained in terms of economic rectitude.
Today the great excuse is always tempered with health and safety concerns.
And that’s now what we have been told about our voluntary fire service. How really can we be expected to believe them?

Castlegregory is about 25 kilometres west of Tralee.

In 1983 as a result of a community initiative a voluntary fire service was founded. Over the years the service had been developed and enhanced. Up to very recently there were only a handful of voluntary fire services in the country. Ballylongford and Tarbert in north Kerry also had fire services.

They have all been closed down.

Out of the blue last August the voluntary fire service in Castlegregory received a letter from Kerry County Fire Service telling them that they were to close their doors.

The peremptoriness of the letter was shocking. It was a cold letter conveying a fait accompli. The Kerry County Fire Service believes that the voluntary fire service in Castlegregory has not the appropriate training and skills to deal with fires.

Kerry County Fire Service is only doing what it is told by the ‘experts’. It is obliged to obey.

Of the nine current firemen, three have breathing apparatus training and
certification, the other six received basic training with Kerry County Fire Service.
Kerry County Fire Service has maintained the station and equipment in Castlegregory over the years. The local community paid 90 per cent of the costs for the building of the station. The remainder came from a grant from the Department of the Environment. The site was given free.

Last year it cost Kerry County Fire Service approximately €3,500 to maintain the fire service in Castlegregory.

If the firemen in Castlegregory are not properly trained to top standard, then why can they not obtain that training from the certifying authority?

Surely it makes both social and economic sense to keep the voluntary service in the village. What value do the ‘experts’ put on a life?

They shut the rail line from Dublin’s Harcourt Street to Shanganagh Junction near Bray in the 1950s. We all know now that was appalling vandalism. It cost millions to restore just part of that line for the Luas tram service.

If there be a house fire in Castlegregory tomorrow there will be a delay of between 30 minutes and an hour before a fire tender arrives from Tralee.

If we had our voluntary service, a fire tender could be in place within a maximum of 20 minutes.

Health and safety requirements are fine but say little to someone who loses their life or house because of the length of time it takes for a tender to arrive at the scene.

It sounds mad and it is.

Had there not been fire tenders in place at Cork Airport last week, the
terrible tragedy would have certainly claimed more lives. The Cork service has been rightly commended for its promptness. Time is at the essence of fire fighting.

In September 2007 there was a tragic fire in Bray where two firemen lost their lives. As a result of that fire there was a review of fire services in the country. But simply to close down and shut up is never the way to go about improving matters.
There is something amazingly short sighted and blinkered about how the rulers of the body politic work in Ireland.

And what makes it all so frustrating is that nothing ever seems to change.

These days we are forever looking at what is happening in Germany. German auto manufacturers are using their native language to sell their cars in Ireland. All things German have now a brand appeal. Well guess what, right across Germany there are voluntary fire services. And what’s more, they take such pride in what they do and their communities embrace them in an amazing fashion. You see them in their uniforms at every social engagement.

Of course it makes no sense that Castlegregory should have to close its voluntary fire service. What maddens me most of all is that the ordinary people such as I are asked to accept and believe the lore that is fed to us.

It really is amazing how the ruling classes manage to continue feeding us such guff, bluster and humbug. They always manage to justify their actions.

Guess what? This is the year of volunteering and President Mary McAleese was celebrating the event at Áras an Uachtaráin on Saturday. The irony of it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Politics, fear and a new missal

Is the political debate becoming an irrelevancy? It is possible that we are getting closer and closer to civil unrest?

All levels of society are being greatly affected and people are afraid.

Anyone who reads Hans Fallada will get an idea why the Germans are so scared of inflation and depression.

Sound bites and political scoring seems so inappropriate right now.

And in the midst of this terrible crisis the Irish Catholic Church is about to print a new missal.

It is a shocking statement of how unconnected the hierarchical church is with the people.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

No one escapes

On this Dresden Day one is forced to ask what one would have done had they been born in Germany in the early part of the 20th century.

But all institutions and organisations diminish in some way or other our free-thinking.

There is always a predominant clique. And they always set the mood and style. Those who don't
are ridiculed and laughed at, dismissed.

The 'permanent civil service' always say what is measured and appropriate.

Iran's opposition solidarity march

And a march planned for Tehran on Monday.

Bombing of Dresden

Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Dresden. Official estimates record 35,000 killed. But because of the large influx of people from the east, the real number is far greater.

Neo Nazis plan a march through the city today. The White Rose are forming a peaceful chain around the inner city.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cairo crowd deserve a bow

Timothy Garton Ash's Guardian comment today is a great and inspiring read.

Brave individuals and good luck combine in Tahrir Square.

And then add to that social networking.

Of course Mubarak is in charge of terror and torture in Egypt.

Why the silence of western leaders?

The US give Mubarak's army €1.5 billion Dollars every year.

A priest alone with his coins

An elderly priest in the diocese of Würzburg has been charged with fraud after more than €1 million in church funds was found in his apartment and resting in his bank account.

Police searched his apartment and said they found €1.09 million, including an 'unusual amount of change'.

There is something profoundly sad about this story. Where were his fellow priests, where was and is the man's bishop?

These men talk and preach about supporting one another. Among all walks of life there is probably the least honest communication among priests. We hear the term 'brother priests' and 'brother bishops'. Powerful oxymorons.

Many years ago I experienced a man come to officiate at a funeral Mass in that German diocese. The man was clearly drunk and no-one had the love or courage to speak to him. The show went on.

So much of what goes on is a charade. Of course there are great priests and bishops but at present there is a new dispensation and style of secrecy developing which is going to have cataclysmic results.

The phenomenon of homosexuality within priesthood is not the problem. The problem is the secrecy and cover up and then all the lies that are told. And then the link between pseudo conservatism and closet homosexuality is becoming more scary every day. The stories, the anecdotes, the pain, the tricks - of course the issue has to be dealt with in a loving and Christian manner. That's not happening.

And it appears few if any bishops or religious 'superiors' are engaging in any real way with the issue.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Looking out the window at the same reality

This article appears in the Irish regional newspapers of IN&M today.

By Michael Commane
"Anois teacht an earraigh beidh an lá ’dúl ’un síneadh,
’S tar éis na Féil’ Bríde ardóidh mé mo sheol”

No, this column is not going to be about politics or the upcoming election.
Yes, Taoiseach Brian Cowen did quote these lines in his valedictory speech in Dáil Éireann last week.

Once January came my mother would sit on the top step of our stairs at home, looking out the window and waiting for the day when dad would arrive home from work in the daylight. I often sat there with her as a small boy. I must have been five or six but I can still clearly remember sitting on that step and seeing dad arrive at 16.45 and in daylight. The day it happened mum was ecstatic.

Maybe I was there every January for years upon years or maybe it was just on one occasion. I can’t tell you that.

I am back living in that house now after a gap of 43 years. And probably because of that I have been thinking of how the first years of our lives leave such an indelible mark on our souls and psyches. It scares me to think how actually ‘un-free’ we are in the lives we lead. Has it all been predetermined for us in the structure of our DNA. No, it’s not as simple as that.

Although I only spent less than a third of my life in that home nowhere else has left such a profound mark on me. I have flip-flopped from home to home. I have lived in seven different places in Ireland and have also lived in Rome, Cologne, and Berlin. The house in Dublin is what made me into what I am. Maybe in some small ways I have grown up and developed and changed but the Michael who was inside my head and body back then is the same Michael today.

So how much do we ever change? What at all happens us in our lives? I could list a plethora things that I do and they are a copybook repetition of what my mother and father did. Even down to how I lose my glasses or lock the door when leaving. Half way down the road I wonder did I turn off the light. I remember one day being out with my mum and dad and mum wondering if she had turned off the gas. We had to go back to check. Of course it was off! And I got annoyed with having to go back, thinking how ‘stupid’ my mother was.

It is probably partly due to my return to the old home that has made me ever so conscious of how we become what our parents were.

I often cannot remember what happened yesterday but I can clearly and vividly remember so much about my early years.

What has particularly engaged my mind on this topic in recent days is an incident that happened me last week. I was looking out the window of the bedroom and noted the electric cable that was outside the house. There was a light wind and the cable was moving ever so slightly. And then it dawned on me. I remember looking out at that cable, or the one that was there before it, maybe 54 years ago. I had suddenly transported myself back to that day. But back then I recall wondering what I would be doing when I was 'grown up', where would I be when I was 50. And I kept saying to myself that when I would get to 50 I would know so many things about all sorts of topics. I would no longer be so un-knowledgeable and how great it would be to know so much. I also thought about what it must mean to be really free and do whatever you want.

Funny really. I got it all so wrong. Fifty-six years later and I still know really nothing. But I am captivated with how I felt that moment 56 years ago and how I felt last week. It really was exactly the same feeling. And has anything at all changed?

That set me off thinking about life and God and the idea of a life after death. What is it all about? What is the purpose or reason for life? The only time I am really adamant about the idea of a life after death is when I visit my parents' grave. At that moment I am convinced that my parents have not been annihilated - I say they are with God in heaven.

But what exactly does that mean?

Probably the victory of life over death, the triumph of goodness over darkness, over misery and hopelessness.

In the end the good person is triumphant.

Goodness and honesty can push aside so much of the nonsense and humbug that is thrown at us from time to time from so many different quarters.

In that context it gives me courage, even in dark times, stripping away all the humbug, to say that God is good.

And just as I say that, I get scared of the clichés we use when we talk about God.

Maybe it is that the good person stays away from all those clichés, those high-sounding words, rules and regulations that when stripped to their core, have no meaning at all, just bluff and bluster to keep the little person down.

We can never get it wrong if we are attentive, gentle and kind to the little person, and the marginalised too.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Links between Hordorf and Dublin

A contributory factor to the rail accident in Hordorf in Sachsen Anhalt in Germany was the absence of a fail safe brake system when a train passes a red signal. The safer and more modern system is in place on DB Netz in the older States of the Federal Republic.

On similar single line track in Ireland there is no fail safe braking system.

The passenger train that crashed at Hordorf was operated and owned by Veolia, who operate Dublin's Luas

Friday, February 4, 2011

The new missal

Heavens. The new missal is somewhat similar to the DR 1988/1989 timetable.

And who will pay for it?

Michael Gilchrist writes on the new Roman missal

He argues that the new translation is more true to the Latin.

Does language not evolve?

On the one hand Gilchrist argues for holding fast on words, their use and meaning. Yet Gichrist's use of English is faulty according to his own rules. He misuses the word 'presently'. No doubt he will argue it has evolved to the US meaning. Ah, so words can evolve. But when it comes to these men who know exactly what God wants, says and does, then we have no alternative but to listen to them. It really is as absurd as that. And of course most of them, no doubt, know exactly the tricks they play. The boardgame is in constant change. The tragedy is the people who listen and follow them in good faith.

The issue of the use of the word 'men' in the new English edition of the missal is nothing less than laughable.

It's a little like the poor bargaining power the Irish have when dealing with the IMF compared to the Germans.

The German word Maenner means men, the German word Menschen means people. No need to say that the German bishops got their way. They may use the euro but the Vatican well knows the power of the mighty German Mark. Did someone mention God?

Any chance we could ask the brave people in Tahrir Square to move to a new location in Europe, south of the Alps?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Life triumphs over humiliation and tears

“But we don’t want to end this book with death, dedicated as it is to life, invincible life, life always triumphing over humiliation and tears, over misery and death.”

The beginning of the final chapter of Hans Fallada's Jeder stirbt fuer sich allein, Alone in Berlin

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What's in a name?

The 'Thinking Anew' column in The Irish Times today. Michael Commane Sometimes I wonder has all the pious 'stuff' we have ...