November 21st, 2010

  • paft

It's Not Trivial

The other day someone asked me, after I’d made some passing comment about the whole TSA get-photographed-naked/be groped issue, why anyone would bother with this when there are so many other more important issues, like world poverty. “Why waste your time talking about something so trivial?” I was asked.

After thinking about it, I decided it’s not a minor issue.

This latest hamhanded policy – and its timing -- amounts to a referendum on how much intrusion officials can inflict on Americans. It’s no accident that this came up not long before the holiday rush. They’re counting on most of us being too preoccupied with getting from point A to point B to complain. After a few weeks, they hope, we’ll get used to it and accept it as the norm.

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Groovy Kol

The Irish patient

Just a year ago, the common joke was that the only difference between Iceland and Ireland is just one letter plus a few months' time. But while the joke used to cause only sour smiles in Dublin at the time, now its the people in Reykjavík that could be the ones frowning at a comparison with the Emerald Island. Because what appeared like a mighty Celtic tiger, now looks more like a frightened kitten lying helplessly in the E.R. of the Eurozone. And its just a matter of time for it to agree to be put on life support by the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF.

This time the events developed rather quickly, especially compared to the prolonged Greek drama which took months to unfold, and where the EU was eventually compelled to pay a very steep price for their long inaction. Besides, the roles seem to be reversed this time around. While Athens was begging Brussels to save her, now the European leaders themselves are almost forcefully pushing aid in Dublin's direction. And they may seem more concerned about the fate of the rotten Irish banks than the Irish PM Brian Cowen himself. And there's of course a good reason for that - its not just Ireland's fate thats hanging in the balance, its the stability of the entire Eurozone, especially that of its weakest links, Portugal and Spain. No one wants the feared domino effect happening. And this all makes the sort of poker game Dublin and Brussels are playing the weirder.

Still, while the Irish finance minister Brian Lenihan kept on denying that his country needed urgent help from EU, IMF or anyone else, a mission of experts departed from Brussels and arrived in Dublin on Thursday, aiming at "short, focused consultations for the best way of avoiding market risks" (thats the coded PC term for "The shit has hit the fan, help, help, heeelp!"). So, after almost a fortnight of increased tension around the international stocks and across Brussel's corridors, Mission Saving-of-Ireland now looks imminent. Whether the EU and IMF financial injection would bring an ultimate solution to Ireland's problems, or it'd only aggravate them, is another question.

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