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Ex-Catholic brother Bernard Kevin McGrath loses extradition fight over 252 child sexual abuse charges – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


A judge has ruled that a former Catholic brother wanted in Australia on 252 charges of child sexual abuse can be extradited from New Zealand.

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The extradition order was made in the Christchurch District Court for 66-year-old Bernard Kevin McGrath.

He has 15 days in which to appeal or voluntarily return to Australia, otherwise he will be arrested and extradited.

New South Wales police say the alleged offending involved 35 boys from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s.

McGrath’s conditional bail was continued.

via Ex-Catholic brother Bernard Kevin McGrath loses extradition fight over 252 child sexual abuse charges – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Servants of the 1%?: Politicians and the Economic Elite


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In recent years millions of citizens across the Western world have taken to the streets calling for real democracy.  These massive demonstration began in North Africa, but spread rapidly to Greece, Portugal and Iceland, and then to North America and much of the rest of Europe.  The most popular slogan of this international movement, ‘We are 99%’ – borrowed from an article by the Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz[1] – encapsulates the widespread sense that governments are serving the interests of a tiny elite, over those of the broader public.

The idea that democracy is dysfunctional and is serving a wealthy elite is not new.  In 2004 Collin Crouch published Post-democracy, one of the most inspiring books on this topic.[2]  It summarizes several years of work and explains how in spite of the regularity of elections in the Western world, in practice politicians do not represent the majority of the population.

Crouch argues that the power of the working class followed a parabolic trajectory: After the Second World War, workers started to organise and press their demands though the agendas of labour parties.  The height of their power and representation was achieved in the seventies, when states recognised their rights and provided substantial public services.  The arrival of globalisation changed this post-war paradigm.  Industrial workers lost their jobs, which were transferred to emerging economies, and multinational corporations began to acquire the tremendous power which they enjoy today.

Crouch claims that political representation followed the same parabolic trajectory and suggests that the impotence of the trade unions and the strength of multinational corporations distorted the democratic process.  Though workers make up the majority of the population, politicians now only serve the interests of shareholders and CEOs of large multinationals.  Politicians, he claims, work for the economic elite.

Crouch’s views are now becoming more widely accepted by citizens and scholars, and there is intense debate in academia and in the streets about the quality of our democracy.  I have therefore spent the last year of my PhD trying to gather statistical evidence to prove or disprove Crouch’s thesis, which is also the central claims of the Occupy movement.

I started with the notion that every political decision must benefit and improve the happiness of certain groups, whilst imposing a cost on others.  For example, when François Hollande proposed a 75% income tax on salaries above €1m to pay for public services, this would have mostly benefited the poor, who are the main users of those services.  In this case then, we can say that the poor are the most favoured group (MFG).  On the other hand, when governments raise indirect taxes to ensure that banks do not lose the values of their stocks, we can say that the MFG are the rich, since it is they who own the largest share of financial institutions.  Some policies meanwhile would tend to favour middle income groups, such as public universities.  If we rank citizens according to their income, we can see how these three political actions have three different MFGs.

GRAPH 1.

Most Favoured Group of different political actions.

 

This graph shows the three MFGs of the three political actions just mentioned.  Increasing taxes for the rich favours the poorer the most, as they pay less taxes and benefit most from the services those taxes fund.  Public university benefit the middle class most, since the rich pay too much for the service they receive, whilst the poor pay too much for a service from which they received little benefit at all (since they tend to drop out of education at secondary level).  A similar reasoning holds for a political action designed to protect the wealth of shareholders.

According to traditional theories, in a country with two political parties, both will target the median voter (percentile 50) as the MFG.  More recent research has emphasised the importance of political ideologies in determining the MFG of different parties (with social democrats, for example, favouring poorer groups than conservatives).  My research had three aims: (1) to determine which are the MFGs for each political ideology (2) to analyse whether the MFGs have changed over time (3) to analyse if the power of labour unions and the strength of multinationals affect who is the MFG.

I used data from the World Value Survey (WVS) which contains information on happiness, income and other socio-economic indexes in the OECD countries (Western Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan).  I matched this with data on these countries’ macro economic variables (GDP per capita, GINI index, affiliation to labour unions, percentage of national income as wages), as well as an index of political ideology, which measures the political orientation of the party in government (whether centre left, centrist or centre right).  In total, the database I compiled contains more than 100,000 observations for the period 1981-2009.

Once I had compiled the database, I conducted several regressions in order to calculate the MFGs.  I also considered which other macro economic factors were correlated with politicians favouring the rich or the poor, and whether different political parties represent different MFGs.  Once I had the coefficients of the regressions it was possible, with simple algebra, to calculate the MFG.

Using extrapolation techniques, I analysed whether Western democracies were more representative in the seventies by analysing the MFG of parties with different political ideologies.  Graph 2 shows which were the MFGs of different political parties in 1975.

GRAPH 2.

Most favoured groups in 1975, for different political ideologies

 

As we can see, there was a difference between centre left, centrist and centre right parties in 1975.  Centre left parties most benefited poorer individuals (percentile 16), and centre right most benefited richer individuals (percentile 81).  Furthermore, we can observe how parties with centrist politics were situated in the middle of the income distribution, benefiting the median voter (percentile 50).  This is a picture of a healthy democracy where different political parties represent different social groups.

But how does it look now?  Graph 3 shows the MFG in 2009 for different political parties.  As we can see, there is no difference between them.  They all benefit the richest 1%, whether centre left, centrist or centre right.

GRAPH 3.

Most Favoured Groups in 2009, for different political ideologies

The change has been gradual and continuous for all parties (see graph 4).  Conservatives have shifted from favouring the 80th percentile to favouring the 1% (percentile 100th).  But by far the sharpest change has been amongst parties of the centre left.  Whereas once they defended citizens with low income, now they are hardly distinguishable from the conservatives.  From a qualitative perspective, this dramatic shift of the centre left parties can be associated with the deep changes that take place in social democracies after the economic crisis of the mid-seventies.

GRAPH 4.

Changes on the Most Favoured Groups.

Blue region is an extrapolation of the data.

I was also able to identify some correlations between parties benefiting the richest and other variables.  Both weak labour unions and capitalists taking a larger share of the national income seem to be correlated with parties favouring richer individuals.  But correlation does not mean causality.  It is not clear therefore whether strong labour unions mean that the politicians are more likely to serve the interests of the poor, or whether politicians working for the rich tend to weaken labour unions.  The same holds for the relationship with capital’s share of the national income: it is not clear whether this is a cause or an effect.  Neither can this evidence help us better understand the role of mass media, the financial sector, or the action of lobby groups, for example.  It shows us that western democracies have become unrepresentative, but does not explain how we got here.

Nevertheless, what this evidence does show is that those movements that have used the slogan ‘We are the 99%’ are indeed correct.  Politicians in the OECD countries no longer represent the majority of the population and focus instead on the economic elite – the 1%.  Whether the new wave of global movements will be able to bring back real democracy is something that we will discover in coming years.

http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/servants_of_the_1_politicians_and_the_economic_elite

World War II: Women at War


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Symbolic of the defense of Sevastopol, Crimea, is this Russian girl sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who, by the end of the war, had killed a confrimed 309 Germans — the most successful female sniper in history. (AP Photo)

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Members of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) pose at Camp Shanks, New York, before leaving from New York Port of Embarkation on Feb. 2, 1945. The women are with the first contingent of Black American WACs to go overseas for the war effort From left to right are, kneeling: Pvt. Rose Stone; Pvt. Virginia Blake; and Pfc. Marie B. Gillisspie. Second row: Pvt. Genevieve Marshall; T/5 Fanny L. Talbert; and Cpl. Callie K. Smith. Third row: Pvt. Gladys Schuster Carter; T/4 Evelyn C. Martin; and Pfc. Theodora Palmer. (AP Photo)

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Three Soviet guerrillas in action in Russia during World War II. (LOC)

 

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Ack-Ack Girls, members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), run to action at an anti-aircraft gun emplacement in the London area on May 20, 1941 when the alarm is sounded. (AP Photo)

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The German Aviatrix, Captain Hanna Reitsch, shakes hands with German chancellor Adolf Hitler after being awarded the Iron Cross second class at the Reich Chancellory in Berlin, Germany, in April 1941, for her service in the development of airplane armament instruments during World War II. In back, center is Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering. At the extreme right is Lt. Gen. Karl Bodenschatz of the German air ministry. (AP Photo)

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A group of young Jewish resistance fighters are being held under arrest by German SS soldiers in April/May 1943, during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter. (AP Photo)

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The first “Women Guerrilla” corps has just been formed in the Philippines and Filipino women, trained in their local women’s auxiliary service, are seen here hard at work practicing on November 8, 1941, at a rifle range in Manila. (AP Photo)

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Little known to the outside world, although they have been fighting fascist regimes since 1927, the Italian “Maquis” carry on their battle for freedom under the most hazardous conditions. Germans and fascist Italians are targets for their guns; and the icy, eternally snow-clad peaks of the French-Italian border are their battlefield. This school teacher of the Valley of Aosta fights side-by-side with her husband in the “White Patrol” above the pass of Little Saint Bernard in Italy, on January 4, 1945. (AP Photo)

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A nurse wraps a bandage around the hand of a Chinese soldier as another wounded soldier limps up for first aid treatment during fighting on the Salween River front in Yunnan Province, China, on June 22, 1943. (AP Photo)

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Two women of the German anti-aircraft gun auxiliary operating field telephones during World War II. (LOC)

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Mrs. Paul Titus, 77-year-old air raid spotter of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, carries a gun as she patrols her beat, on December 20, 1941. Mrs. Titus signed-up the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. “I can carry a gun any time they want me to,” she declared. (AP Photo)

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Nurses are seen clearing debris from one of the wards in St. Peter’s Hospital, Stepney, East London, on April 19, 1941. Four hospitals were among the buildings hit by German bombs during a full scale attack on the British capital. (AP Photo)

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Polish women are led through woods to their executions by German soldiers sometime in 1941. (LOC)

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The first contingent of U.S. Army nurses to be sent to an Allied advanced base in New Guinea carry their equipment as they march single file to their quarter on November 12, 1942. The first four in line from right are: Edith Whittaker, Pawtucket, Rhode Island,; Ruth Baucher, Wooster, O.; Helen Lawson, Athens, Tennessee,; and Juanita Hamilton, of Hendersonville, North Carolina, (AP Photo)

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A French man and woman fight with captured German weapons as both civilians and members of the French Forces of the Interior took the fight to the Germans, in Paris in August of 1944, prior to the surrender of German forces and the Liberation of Paris on August 25. (AP Photo)

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Elisabeth “Lilo” Gloeden stands before judges, on trial for being involved in the attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life in July 1944. Elisabeth, along with her husband and mother, was convicted of hiding a fugitive from the July 20 Plot to assassinate Hitler. The three were executed by beheading on November 30th, 1944, their executions much-publicized later as a warning to others who might plot against the German ruling party. (LOC)

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Miss Jean Pitcaithy, a nurse with a New Zealand Hospital Unit stationed in Libya, wears goggles to protect her against whipping sands, on June 18, 1942. (AP Photo)

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62nd Stalingrad Army on the streets of Odessa (The 8th Guard of the Army of General Chuikov on the streets of Odessa) in April of 1944. A large group of Soviet soldiers, including two women in front, march down a street. (LOC)

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A girl of the resistance movement is a member of a patrol to rout out the Germans snipers still left in areas in Paris, France, on August 29, 1944. The girl had killed two Germans in the Paris Fighting two days previously. (AP Photo)

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Women and children, some of over 40,000 concentration camp inmates liberated by the British, suffering from typhus, starvation and dysentery, huddle together in a barrack at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in April 1945. (AP Photo)

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Some of the S.S. women whose brutality was equal to that of their male counterparts at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Bergen, Germany, on April 21, 1945. (AP Photo/British Official Photo)

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In this June 19, 2009 photo Susie Bain poses in Austin, Texas, with a 1943 photo of herself when she was one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II. Bain is one of 300 living WASP members that hoped at the time to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill passed and on March 10, 2010, more than 200 WASP veterans attended a ceremony to be presented with the Congressional Gold Medal. (AP Photo/Austin American Statesman, Ralph Barrera)

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Specially chosen airwomen are being trained for police duties in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). They have to be quick-witted, intelligent and observant woman of the world – They attend an intensive course at the highly sufficient RAF police school – where their training runs parallel with that of the men. Keeping a man “in his place” – A WAAF member demonstrates self-defense on January 15, 1942. (AP Photo)

 

Shell exploration manager Roland Spuij – deluded or ignorant?


Shell exploration manager Roland Spuij – deluded or ignorant?

Printed below is a deluded article written by a Shell exploration manager – Roland Spuij (person on the right) – who apparently is totally ignorant of Shell’s track record of giving a higher priority to production and profits than to the safety of its offshore workers. Either that, or he is trying to deliberate mislead New Zealanders?  Same applies to his comments about Shell’s conduct in Nigeria. Has he forgotten that in 2009 Shell paid $15.5 million (£9.7m) as an out-of-court settlement in a case accusing it of complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria. 17 pages of correspondence between Shell and the Nigerian Police – authentic exhibits from the litigation – prove Shell supplied arms and ammunition to the Nigerian police force (part of a corrupt murderous regime)

Otago Daily Times

Shell proud of its safety record

It’s good to see Rosemary Penwarden outlining her concerns and for Shell to have the right to respond, something we were unable to do in our recent meeting in Dunedin brought to a halt by other protesters.

Shell welcomes any discussion, including on climate change, so long as it has a chance to present its views. Whether there is oil or natural gas present in any basin is not determined by us or any opponents, but by nature. We have strong scientific evidence, including information from wells previously drilled in the Great South Basin, that we can expect to find gas there, with some associated liquid gas ”condensate”; the chance of finding oil is very low. The first step is to prove the presence of hydrocarbons as part of the exploration phase. It is too early to talk about options for future development concepts, assuming the presence of hydrocarbons is proven.

Shell did not leave anything off the table with our Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment.

At the earliest opportunity we were presenting some of the preliminary findings in order to get feedback. Rafting birds were indeed identified as potentially being affected in the very unlikely case of an uncontrolled release of gas and condensate. Much research was included on the feeding and migratory patterns of rafting birds, including albatross and shearwaters.

Shell operates under detailed processes, using the latest equipment and technology to minimise any credible risk a drilling spill could have on birds and marine life, particularly whales and dolphins. If we proceed to drilling, we will have a complete range of responses to deal with the consequences of any spill, however unlikely.

The video footage acquired by Niwa’s research vessel Tangaroa under contract to Shell does indeed indicate there is little marine life apparent on the surface seabed at the potential drilling site. Shell received the video footage only a few days before the meeting and chose to share it. Our preliminary conclusion is that drilling a single exploratory well over a month would have very limited impacts. We are open to further input.

Shell does not take lightly its often stated commitment to environmental and personal safety. We are a major player worldwide and publish our performance on environmental metrics on an annual basis. The number and volume of operational spills has steadily reduced over recent years but we continue to learn from all our incidents to improve our performance further in the future.

For the record, we were not involved in the 2010 Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, or the Elgin platform gas leak in the North Sea. We agree that the health and safety record for New Zealand is poor across all industries compared with Britain and other countries. The head of Shell New Zealand, Rob Jager, is at present chairing the Government’s Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety.

As for Nigeria, as recently as last week, the US Supreme Court refused to hear a case attempting to link Shell with claims of human rights abuses in the Niger Delta – claims that Shell has always strongly denied. Shell remains firmly committed to supporting fundamental human rights, including those of peaceful protest. Shell acknowledges improvements can be made to our operations there and has made significant progress in reducing spills and gas flaring in recent years. It is important to note that the vast majority of spilt oil in Nigeria is caused by rampant criminality – oil theft and illegal refining. This leads to widespread environmental damage and is the real tragedy of the Niger Delta.

Shell shares concerns about climate change and we see gas as a clean and affordable energy source. Wind, solar and bio fuels are some 1% of the energy mix today and they will have an important role to play beyond 2030. Over the past five years, we have spent US$2.2 billion on developing alternative energies, carbon capture and storage, and other CO2-related R&D.

But industry will need to see more technology development to make renewables cost-competitive with hydrocarbons and less reliant on subsidy; we are working on that for the long term. We do not have coal reserves. Our 2012 total production was split almost equally between oil and gas. Given that natural gas has around half the carbon emissions of coal and about a third that of diesel, this should provide some common ground for discussions on how we address climate change in a world with ever-increasing energy demands. We remain committed to debating all these issues and urge anyone with an interest in New Zealand’s energy future to engage constructively with us.

– Roland Spuij, Shell’s New Zealand exploration manager.

via Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com.

via Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com.

McDonald’s in Bray Co Wicklow makes Top 10 list on USA Today – WorldIrish


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People of Wicklow here’s some good news! McDonald’s in Bray has made number five in the Top 10 ‘coolest McDonald’s around the world.’

The list, that was put together by USA Today, describes the building as ‘picturesque’ and ‘historic.’

Around the back of this picturesque Irish building dating back to the 19th century, McDonald’s has once again found a home in a historic building. The walk-up restaurant looks a tad out of place in such a pastoral location, but with a location right inside the Town Hall, they’ve certainly figured out the most central location in the city!

Also in the running were McDonalds’ from New Zealand, South Korea and Italy

via McDonald’s in Bray Co Wicklow makes Top 10 list on USA Today – WorldIrish.

via McDonald’s in Bray Co Wicklow makes Top 10 list on USA Today – WorldIrish.

U.S. Prosperity Slides in Index That Ranks Norway No. 1 – Bloomberg


The U.S. slid from the top ten most prosperous nations for the first time in a league table which ranked three Scandinavian nations the best for wealth and wellbeing.

The U.S. fell to 12th position from 10th in the Legatum Institute’s annual prosperity index amid increased doubts about the health of its economy and ability of politicians. Norway, Denmark and Sweden were declared the most prosperous in the index, published in London today.

With the presidential election just a week away, the research group said the standing of the U.S. economy has deteriorated to beneath that of 19 rivals. The report also showed that respect for the government has fallen, fewer Americans perceive working hard gets you ahead, while companies face higher startup costs and the export of high-technology products is dropping.

“As the U.S. struggles to reclaim the building blocks of the American Dream, now is a good time to consider who is best placed to lead the country back to prosperity and compete with the more agile countries,” Jeffrey Gedmin, the Legatum Institute’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The six-year-old Legatum Prosperity Index is a study of wealth and wellbeing in 142 countries, based on eight categories such as economic strength, education and governance. Covering 96 percent of the world’s population, it is an attempt to broaden measurement of a nation’s economic health beyond indicators such as gross domestic product.

The Legatum Institute is the public policy research arm of the Legatum Group, a Dubai-based private investment group founded in 2006 by New Zealand billionaire Christopher Chandler.

Global Prosperity

The report shows that even amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, global prosperity has increased across all regions in the past four years, although the sense of safety and security is decreasing amid tension in the Middle East and fear of crime in Latin America.

Norway and Denmark retained the pole positions they held last year in the overall prosperity measure, while Sweden leapfrogged Australia and New Zealand into third. Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland rounded out the top ten. The Central African Republic was ranked bottom.

In its sub-indexes, Legatum named Switzerland the strongest economy and home to the best system of governance. Denmark is the most entrepreneurial and New Zealand has the best education, while health is best in Luxembourg and Iceland is the safest. Canadians enjoy the most personal freedom and Norwegians have the greatest social capital.

Hard Work

With President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney tussling for the White House, Legatum said the U.S. economy declined two places from last year to 20th. It found that 89 percent of Americans believe hard work produces results, up from 88 percent last year, and the government’s approval rate dropped to 39 percent from 42 percent.

Plagued by the euro-area debt crisis, 24 out of 33 European nations have witnessed a decline in their economic score since 2009, according to Legatum. On the prosperity scale, Greece recorded the biggest drop in 2012, falling 10 places since 2009 to 49th. Spain held on to 23rd place.

The U.K remained 13th, one place ahead of Germany, and Legatum predicted it will overtake the U.S. by 2014 as it scores well for entrepreneurship and governance. Nevertheless, the status of its economy remains a weakness as it slid five places to 26th on that score and job satisfaction is low.

Asian Scores

In Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan all ranked in the top ten for their economies and the top 20 overall. So-called tiger cub economies Vietnam and Indonesia also rose. Indonesia experienced the largest gain in prosperity of any country since 2009, jumping 26 positions to 63rd.

Switzerland, Norway and Singapore topped the economy sub- index, which measures satisfaction with the economy and expectations for it, the efficiency of the financial sector and foundations for growth. In a gauge of entrepreneurship, Denmark ran ahead of Sweden and Finland for the strength of innovation and access to opportunity.

Switzerland also topped the rankings for best government. It was followed by New Zealand and Denmark in a measure determined by the effectiveness and accountability of lawmakers, the fairness of elections, the participation of people in the political process and rule of law. The highest marks for education went to New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Luxembourg, the U.S. and Switzerland were graded the best for health treatments and infrastructure as well as preventative care and satisfaction with the service. Iceland, Norway and Finland topped the chart for safety and security; Chad, Congo and Afghanistan ranked the lowest on that index.

Canadians, New Zealanders and Australians enjoy the most freedom and social tolerance, Legatum said. Norway, Denmark and Australia had the highest scores for social capital as monitored by social cohesion and family and community networks.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Kennedy in London at skennedy4@bloomberg.net

via U.S. Prosperity Slides in Index That Ranks Norway No. 1 – Bloomberg.

via U.S. Prosperity Slides in Index That Ranks Norway No. 1 – Bloomberg.

Emigration plague grips Ireland – soaring unemployment and relentless pessimism forcing Irish to seek a future abroad | Danny Boy | IrishCentral


Almost two percent of the Irish population left the country’s shores last year in search of a brighter future abroad, according to shocking new figures from the Central Statistic Office, Ireland’s national compiler of official governmental data.

The stark figures, which represent an eight percent increase on the previous year’s emigration numbers, underscore the drastic nature of the mass exodus of Ireland’s best and brightest, in what is fast becoming a brain drain without historical precedent.

An overwhelming sense of pessimism at the ongoing economic distress, and an unemployment rate hovering close to 15 percent have been cited as two of the main reasons for the ongoing export of young college graduates, newly qualified professionals, and others in search of greener and more prosperous pastures overseas.

The Union of Student in Ireland (USI), among other young persons’ representatives bodies, have made repeated attempts to raise the issue with government , but push factors like joblessness, media negativity, and appealing opportunities overseas have proved the stronger sway for many members of what’s been dubbed the emigration generation.

One marketing consultant interviewed by The Telegraph, a UK newspaper, for comment, said that Ireland was ‘steeped in pessimism,’ a sentiment echoed by many young Irish graduates that have made the short trip across the Irish Sea in search of better job prospects in England, Scotland, and Wales.

The US, Australia, and Canada, all retained their status as key host countries for young Irish emigrants, although Britain remained the predominant choice, with 22 percent of migrants choosing to settle there.

A Dublin based migration agency, meanwhile, told the paper that it had been inundated with requests for information about the Visa processes for relocating to the US, New Zealand, and Canada.

Even for those yet to graduate, it seems, the prospect of emigrating seems like an inevitable reality.

via Emigration plague grips Ireland – soaring unemployment and relentless pessimism forcing Irish to seek a future abroad | Danny Boy | IrishCentral.

via Emigration plague grips Ireland – soaring unemployment and relentless pessimism forcing Irish to seek a future abroad | Danny Boy | IrishCentral.

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