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Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Antarctica

by 1389AD ( 156 Comments › )
Filed under Orthodox Christianity, Russia at April 2nd, 2015 - 10:09 pm

1389 Blog had a brief story on this church in 2013:
The Most Remote Orthodox Church in the World.

Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Antarctica
Russian Orthodox priest Sophrony Kirilov, walks to the Holy Trinity Church, on King George Island, Antarctica. Photo: Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Telegraph (UK): The church at the South Pole

Sophrony Kirilov pulls hard on the strings of the heavy Russian bells from inside the world’s southernmost Eastern Orthodox church, calling to Mass anybody wanting to pray on this remote Antarctic island.

Hieromonk Sophrony Kirilov ringing bells
Priest Sophrony Kirilov pulls on the strings of the heavy Russian bells
(Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

The 38-year-old Russian priest is clad in a loose black robe and a vest dotted with patches of penguins and seals, marking his four years of service at the bottom of the world. Although he often misses his family and the dark winters are hard, Kirilov says there is no place he feels closer to God than in this frigid land.

“In the world there’s no tranquility and silence. But here, it’s quiet enough,” Kirilov said inside the Holy Trinity Church.

The small wooden building is perched precariously on a rocky hill above a smattering of pre-fabricated houses for scientists and service workers who call this frozen continent home, at least part of the year. Kirilov, who also works as a carpenter and mason at the Russian Bellingshausen base, says his passion for Antarctica is deeply connected to his love for the lonely building.

Russian priests here rotate in for yearlong stints, primarily to celebrate Mass [more properly called Liturgy] for the workers on the Russian base, who number between 15 and 30 at a time. The priests also welcome any of the island’s other inhabitants, about 100 in winter when temperatures can plunge to -13 Fahrenheit (-25 Celsius), and 500 in the still-chilly summer months.

The greyish clapboard church was first built in Russia from Siberian cedar planks treated to withstand the frosts and harsh wind. It was then disassembled and shipped log-by-log, “like Lego blocks,” to Antarctica, said Alejo Contreras, a Chilean Antarctic explorer who witnessed the construction and consecration in 2004. To protect it from strong winds, it is bound to the nearby rocky mountain with chains.

In the summer, tourists and the staff of the international stations brave strong winds to hike up here, leaving snowy, muddy boots at the entrance. Some pray in silence, standing or kneeling because there are no pews in the boxy interior, while others marvel at the gold-leaf iconostasis screen of icons painted with bearded saints and winged angels in vivid colors.

Holy Trinity Orthodox Church Antarctica iconostasis
The inside of the holy Trinity church (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

During Sunday service, Kirilov reads from the scriptures in Russian and sings in an angelic voice…

Continue reading…

Also see:

 

Mars Attacks: Blogmocracy Book Club Recommendation

by Mars ( 119 Comments › )
Filed under Anti-Jihad, Blogmocracy, Conservatism, Dhimmitude, Entertainment, Europe, Fascism, Free Speech, Guest Post, Islam, Islamic Invasion, Islamic Supremacism, Islamists, Jihad, Leftist-Islamic Alliance, Middle East, Military, Patriotism, Political Correctness, Sharia (Islamic Law), United Nations at March 18th, 2015 - 7:00 am

Caliphate from Thomas Kratman is now a free book from the Baen Free Library. http://www.baen.com/library/books.asp
Caliphate is a pretty good military science fiction thriller. It details a future in which the middle east and most of Europe have fallen under the control of the Caliphate and the United States has become a fascist dictatorship. It’s a good story and contains a lot of information that we know about but the general public is mostly ignorant. Thomas Kratman himself used to post occasionally at the swamp before its downfall.

Here is the blurb from Baens site.

Caliphate
by Tom Kratman
Publisher: Baen Books

“Caliphate is Mark Steyn’s America Alone with body count.”—John Ringo

“Slavery is a part of Islam . . . Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.” —Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan, author of the religious textbook At-Tawhid (“Monotheism”) and senior Saudi cleric.

Demography is destiny. In the 22nd century European deathbed demographics have turned the continent over to the more fertile Moslems. Atheism in Europe has been exterminated. Homosexuals are hanged, stoned or crucified. Such Christians as remain are relegated to dhimmitude, a form of second class citizenship. They are denied arms, denied civil rights, denied a voice, and specially taxed via the Koranic yizya. Their sons are taken as conscripted soldiers while their daughters are subject to the depredations of the continent’s new masters.

In that world, Petra, a German girl sold into prostitution as a slave at the age of nine to pay her family’s yizya, dreams of escape. Unlike most girls of the day, Petra can read. And in her only real possession, her grandmother’s diary, a diary detailing the fall of European civilization, Petra has learned of a magic place across the sea: America.

But it will take more than magic to free Petra and Europe from their bonds; it will take guns, superior technology, and a reborn spirit of freedom.
About the author

In 1974, at age seventeen, Tom Kratman became a political refugee and defector from the PRM (People’s Republic of Massachusetts) by virtue of joining the Regular Army. He stayed a Regular Army infantryman most of his adult life, returning to Massachusetts as an unofficial dissident while attending Boston College after his first hitch. Back in the Army, he managed to do just about everything there was to do, at one time or another. After the Gulf War, and with the bottom dropping completely out of the anti-communism market, Tom decided to become a lawyer. Every now and again, when the frustrations of legal life and having to deal with other lawyers got to be too much, Tom would rejoin the Army (or a somewhat similar group, say) for fun and frolic in other climes. His family, muttering darkly, put up with this for years. He no longer practices law, instead writing full time for Baen. His novels for Baen include A State of Disobedience, A Desert Called Peace and its sequel Carnifex, as well as two collaborations with John Ringo, Watch on the Rhine and Yellow Eyes.
A NEW STAR OF MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION

An Open Letter to PM Tony Abbott…and Deputy PM Julie Bishop #auspol

by 1389AD ( 94 Comments › )
Filed under Australia, Dhimmitude, France, Multiculturalism, Political Correctness at January 13th, 2015 - 4:00 pm
Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop

Dear leaders,

I voted for your ‘Team Australia” at the last election. I could hardly wait to get rid of the previous Labor Governments after seeing the economic mess they had made here, as well as the mess made by their disastrous immigration policies, including the loss of lives caused by it.

It’s true you have stopped the boats but you have failed miserably in stopping our Fifth Column: the ABC – a tax-payer funded organisation that would love to see you fail and disappear into political oblivion!

As I read many blogs and websites I KNOW that many people can’t wait for you to do this.

I think, if you knew the ratings figures, you would find ‘our’ ABC is not very popular, and most Australians are not keen to see their tax dollars paying for their own destruction.

You had sufficient reasons – we are broke! The ABC/SBS can easily find sponsors for funding, and should there not be enough – well…tough! No one will miss them, will they?

This past week we have seen all too clearly just what Muslim immigration can do.

Whilst Australia has a lower percentage of Muslims it can be assumed that it only needs a small number of people to create havoc as we saw in the Lindt Coffee Shop in Sydney recently.

It is clear to me that whenever there is such an incident more often than not the perpetrators are Islamic.

Oooops, I said the ‘I’ word !!!!

If I can say it why can’t you? Why are you and other world leaders afraid of this word?

You have now begun to call ISIS the “Daesh” or “The Khorasan Group” thinking perhaps, that the majority of Australians won’t catch on, or are you avoiding offending the local Muslim community?

Why? Many of them offend us on a regular basis. We get no apology or reassurances from them – quite the contrary.

Sometimes I get a fanciful notion about conspiracy theories. and when I do I can’t help but wonder whether some faceless cabal from the UN comes to visit each newly-elected leader just to tell them: Do as we say, or else?

Please tell me I am wrong and foolish but it certainly looks that way, or something like it.

Somehow the UN has omitted telling Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Benjamin Netanyahu how to play by their rules.

Of course we all know Mr Netanyahu is World Enemy #1 in the UN’s eyes, and Vladimir Putin is The #1 enemy of NATO and the EU which is why they have spent so much time making him look positively evil.

Putin and Netanyahu have problems with Islam and they call it out when they see it.

It was the incident at Beslan that helped get Putin as much popularity as he has now. Both these leaders actually care about their citizens…a new concept, I know!

When you were going to ‘shirt-front Putin’ I saw a red flag. I know you were concerned about a missing plane and our citizens but we didn’t have enough information to jump to any definite conclusions.It showed me you were at one with the UN.

Now we have just witnessed two atrocities in France: the murder of cartoonists and the murder of hostages at a Kosher (that means Jewish) grocery store.

There has been an outpouring of support for the cartoonists: the Jewish hostages not so much!

It isn’t that long ago since WW2 ended and yet we are seeing an amazing resurgence of anti-Semitism which is most alarming.

Here’s the full list of leaders who met in France today – many have been instrumental in ruining their own countries:

French President Francois Hollande
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
British Prime Minister David Cameron
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker
European Parliament president Martin Schulz
European Union president Donald Tusk
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg
Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny
Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka
Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico
Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven
Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga
Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibachvili
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz
Canadian public safety minister Steven Blaney
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman
Jordanian King Abdullah II and Queen Rania
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas
United Arab Emirates foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan
Qatari Sheikh Mohamed Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa Al Thani
Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled ben Ahmed Al Khalifa and Prince Abdullah Ben Hamad al-Khalifa
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita
Gabonese President Ali Bongo
Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou
Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi
Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa
Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra

Russia sent a representative, and Benjamin Netanyahu went also, in spite of the fact that Monsieur Hollande told him not to! How quaint! How insulting! How very French!!!

But the French have always been appeasers.

Over the weekend, Andrew Bolt said, “Are we really all Charlie? No, no and shamefully no”:

Australia also has oppressive racial vilification laws which Prime Minister Tony Abbott had promised to relax but last year decided to keep, saying changing them would become a “complication” in making Muslim Australians side with the rest of us against jihadists.
[…]
This will go on. Be sure of it. Your ruling classes will not easily admit to having made an error that cannot now be fixed. It will prefer oppression to freedom, if that brings at least the illusion of peace — and many may even think they are right.
[…]

The French Ambassador now tells us – and as if we didn’t know…Paris attacks: French ambassador urges Australia to remember ‘the spirit of Charlie’ – video

The French ambassador to Australia, Christophe Lecourtier, tells people at a rally in Martin Place, Sydney, to keep in mind the protest ethos of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. He says those at Martin Place would be acutely aware of ‘what violence means’. Three days of bloodshed in France saw 17 people and three gunmen killed. Twelve people died at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and there were further attacks at a kosher supermarket and other sites around Paris.

Seems he can’t say the “J” word! And he can’t say the “I” word either!!

So what we have now is a situation where we must rely on our own cartoonists for the truth, and for showing principles leadership.

Mr Larry Pickering:

Halal certified Muhammad-piggie ready for roasting on a pencil spit over a pile of Qurans - and wearing nipple clamps!

Mr Bill Leak:

Bill Leak cartoon: Free speech as long as it doesn't offend - with Aussie Labor/Green senators in front

Perhaps these two gentleman would better serve the Australian public!

Oddly enough, US President Barack Hussein Obama didn’t attend with the group of world leaders. He sent his AG to France, not his VP, but Holder didn’t attend either!

Obama: ‘The Future Must Not Belong To Those Who Slander the Prophet of Islam…’

That’s a very telling little sentence! What does he know that you don’t know?

PS: That lovely picture of you both is courtesy of Mr Larry Pickering!

Gramfan
 

AQAP (al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula) funded, trained Charlie Hebdo attackers

by 1389AD ( 59 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, France at January 12th, 2015 - 4:00 pm

Jihadi recruitment, training, propaganda, infiltration, terrorism, and warfare cannot be perpetrated without money. The blog Money Jihad exposes terrorist financing. I highly recommend it.

 
Money Jihad author A. D. Kendall writes: “One wonders when France will begin air strikes against AQAP targets in Yemen.”

Indeed.

ALL jihadi cells are dangerous

Evidently, the French police underestimated the local jihadi cell in France that gave rise to the Charlie Hebdo attack. This small and seemingly insignificant group of committed jihadis had no difficulty in making contact with AQAP, and obtaining money, training, and weapons from them.

The French prison system, much like prison systems in the US and elsewhere, has become a venue for jihadi networking and recruitment. NYT has the story on that: Jihadism Born in a Paris Park and Fueled in the Prison Yard. When will western nations muster the political will to do whatever it takes to put an end to prison jihad?

Some Reading on Russia

by coldwarrior ( 1 Comment › )
Filed under Academia, Economy, History, Politics, Russia, Special Report at December 19th, 2014 - 8:21 pm

As this is a special report, Please take your time and read the following article here before commenting, it is worth you effort:

 

…I thought the economic problems of Russia would be foremost on people’s minds. The plunge of the ruble, the decline in oil prices, a general slowdown in the economy and the effect of Western sanctions all appear in the West to be hammering the Russian economy. Yet this was not the conversation I was having. The decline in the ruble has affected foreign travel plans, but the public has only recently begun feeling the real impact of these factors, particularly through inflation.

But there was another reason given for the relative calm over the financial situation, and it came not only from government officials but also from private individuals and should be considered very seriously. The Russians pointed out that economic shambles was the norm for Russia, and prosperity the exception. There is always the expectation that prosperity will end and the normal constrictions of Russian poverty return….

#Caturday, 12/13/14: Vladivostok airport seafood shop suffers $1100 feline heist

by 1389AD ( 5 Comments › )
Filed under Caturday, Open thread, Russia at December 13th, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Кошка ест морепродукты в прилавке магазина в аэропорту Владивостока

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lxI6_m_bTY

Published on Dec 9, 2014 by ПримаМедиа ТВ

RT has the story:

During the night, a ginger cat sneaked into a sea food store at Vladivostok airport and treated itself to fish from the deli counter. The animal’s feast, which included squid and flatfish, was worth 60,000 rubles – some $1,100.

The feline burglar also went for the dried octopus – he torn up the packaging, but couldn’t quite get to the food inside. The shop owners still had to count the costs because the sealing on the packages was broken.

“The cat made its way inside the counter, and ate and nibbled the goods, scratched and wrecked the packaging around the squid and dried fish,” a shop assistant told Ria Novosti agency.

The shop was forced to write off the entire fish counter the cat had laid its paws on, to comply with sanitary rules. The store at Vladivostok international airport in Russia’s Far East was thoroughly disinfected, its owners promised the local PrimaMedia news.

The cat’s Friday feast was spotted and filmed by airport staff, who were amused by the gluttonous animal for some time before calling the shop owners. It’s still unknown how the animal sneaked his way into fishy heaven.

While shop assistants say the animal is homeless and lives near the airport, sometimes coming into the terminal for warmth and to be fed, the airport says the presence of any unsupervised animals on the premises is strictly forbidden due to security regulations.

A special order has been issued, and a company has been appointed to keep stray animals out, the airport’s press service said, adding that the cat might have been lost by one of the passengers. The blame lies completely with the shop, the airport said.

Story here.

Canada Considers Fence On Southern Border To Stem Wave Of Illegal Immigration

by Bunk X ( 4 Comments › )
Filed under America, Canada, Elections 2010, Elections 2012, Humor, immigration, Immigration, Mexico, Politics, Russia, Satire, Special Report at November 22nd, 2014 - 10:54 pm

CAUTION

Mexico allows Central and South American immigrants to pass through her borders on 72 hour visas, and most of those people are headed for the porous southern border of the US. As these illegal immigrants pour in, local pressure builds, and now there’s another movement happening at the US – Canadian Border. Canadians don’t like it.

US Canada Border Fence

Here’s the full transcript from The Manitoba Herald 1 December 2010:

Border Fence Proposed
by Clive Runnels
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The recent actions of the Tea Party and the fact Republicans won the Senate are prompting an exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they’ll soon be required to hunt, pray, and to agree with Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck.

Canadian border farmers say it’s not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.  “I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn,” said Southern Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota. The producer was cold,exhausted and hungry. He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn’t have any, he left before I even got a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?”

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. He then installed loudspeakers that blared Rush Limbaugh across the fields. “Not real effective,” he said. “The liberals still got through and Rush annoyed the cows so much that they wouldn’t give any milk.”

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, and drive them across the border where they are simply left to fend for themselves. “A lot of these people are not prepared for our rugged conditions,” an Ontario border patrolman said. “I found one carload without a single bottle of imported drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though.” When liberals are caught, they’re sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about plans being made to build re-education camps where liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR races.

In recent days, liberals have turned to ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have been disguised as senior citizens taking a bus trip to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans in powdered wig disguises, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizens about Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney to prove that they were alive in the ’50s. “If they can’t identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we become very suspicious about their age,” an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and are renting all the Michael Moore  movies. “I really feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can’t support them,” an Ottawa resident said. “How many art-history majors does one country need?”

In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Biden met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals. A source close to President Obama said, “We’re going to have some Paul McCartney and Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. And we might even put some endangered species on postage stamps. The President is determined to reach out,” he said.

The US and Canada are not the only countries experiencing an influx of illegal immigrants crossing their southern borders. Check out this image from Vladikavkaz, Russia:

illegal-immigrants-in-russia

If the Theory of Global Worming is true, there’s going to be a massive influx of people from all regions south of the Arctic Circle, judging from the current migration patterns.

Sure, Canada has Molson’s and poutine, but I’m gonna stay put and watch the parade. By the way, The Manitoba Herald folded in 1877, there is no such person named Clive Runnels, and I am not the author of the quoted satirical article. Go figger.

Deport the Muslims, keep the canines!

by 1389AD ( 167 Comments › )
Filed under Dhimmitude, Dog Day Afternoon, Open thread, Spain at November 3rd, 2014 - 4:00 pm

(h/t: Gramfan)

Something is grotesquely wrong with people who hate dogs.

Larry Pickering has the story:

A report from Spain this week claims two Islamic groups based in Lérida, a city in the north-eastern region of Catalonia where 29,000 Muslims now make up around 20% of the  population, demanded that local officials regulate all dogs in public spaces so as not to “offend Muslims”.

Muslims leaders demanded that dogs be banned from all forms of public transportation including all city buses as well as from all areas frequented by Muslim immigrants.

Muslims said the presence of dogs violates their religious freedoms and their right to live according to Islamic principles.

After the municipality refused to give in to Muslim demands, the city experienced a wave of dog poisonings. Local media reported dozens of canine pets were poisoned in Lérida’s working class neighbourhoods of Cappont and La Bordeta.

These districts are heavily populated by Muslim immigrants and the poisoning of dogs has continued unabated.

This  follows dog-related controversies in other European countries.

In Holland, Muslims who live in The Hague and who now make up more than 12% of that city’s population of 500,000, have campaigned to rid the city of all dogs. Muslims view dogs as offensive and unclean.

“A ban on them would be a sure vote-getter”, one Muslim spokesman said.

[…]
More here…

As an antidote, click here for a truly heartwarming dog story.

Scots Fallout

by coldwarrior ( 112 Comments › )
Filed under Open thread, Politics, UK at September 19th, 2014 - 3:00 pm

A postmortem on the Scot’s devolution decision:

After Scotland, something fundamental has to change – and will change

Our present constitutional settlement is not merely unacceptable; it is broken.

by Jason Cowley Published  

Our present constitutional settlement is not merely unacceptable; it is broken.
A discarded Yes sticker lies on cobble stones along the Royal Mile after the people of Scotland voted no to independence on September 19, 2014 in Edinburgh. Photograph: Getty Images.

In the days after 5 September, when a poll put Yes Scotland ahead for the first time in the referendum campaign, we witnessed something remarkable, even unprecedented, in recent decades – the British political elite scrambling in panic as they belatedly understood that the ground beneath them was moving and drastic action was required. In response they began making policy on the run, hastily promising further powers to Scotland and mobilizing whatever forces they could, especially big business, to help pull the Union back from the brink.

Had Scotland voted Yes, David Cameron would surely have been forced to resign as the prime minister who lost Scotland and presided over the break up of Great Britain. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, might well have been forced to stand down as well in what would have been an ensuing constitutional crisis.

In the event, Scotland narrowly voted No and now an opportunity exists to reconfigure the multinational United Kingdom to the benefit of all of us living in these islands. Clearly the status quo is unacceptable, not only to the large number of people in Scotland who voted for independence. Our present constitutional settlement is not merely unacceptable; it is broken, as David Cameron acknowledged when he spoke outside Downing Street once the final result was known. Whether the UK is reconfigured as a fully federal or quasi-federal state, something fundamental has to change and will change. We are entering a period of profound constitutional upheaval.

It will not be enough to offer more devolution to Scotland as the three main party leaders did in the final, desperate days of the campaign, however inchoate. The question of devolution in England has to be addressed as well. Cameron spoke of the need to address the West Lothian question  – English votes on English laws –  but should we have an English parliament or perhaps the introduction of regional assemblies under a new federal structure? Cameron did not mention this but the House of Lords needs to become a fully elected second chamber or be abolished altogether. What too of further powers for Wales and Northern Ireland? These are momentous times.

One of the most startling interventions during the final days of the campaign was made of course by Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, who returned dramatically to frontline politics as the cross-party Better Together campaign floundered. In a series of speeches, consciously echoing Gladstone, he promised “home rule for Scotland”, even if there was no consensus on what was actually being offered and how it would affect the other nations in these islands, not least England.

At times it seemed as if the former Labour prime minister was dictating policy to his successor, who, because of the decisive defeat of the Conservatives in Scotland, was rendered virtually mute during the long campaign and was left at the end pleading plaintively with Scots “not to go”. It was desperate stuff and one expects Cameron’s party to punish his weakness in the months ahead.

What we witnessed in Scotland during the campaign, especially in those final weeks, was an extraordinary democratic awakening. An ancient nation was asking fundamental questions about identity, purpose and sovereignty, and people were as animated as they were well informed. The SNP operates a formidable and disciplined campaigning machine but Yes Scotland amounted to much more than Alex Salmond and his happy band of followers; it was a broad, vibrant coalition of pro-independence groupings.

What the referendum campaign demonstrated was that, in the right circumstances and when people believe that something truly significant is at stake and that their vote matters, they care passionately. At a time when fewer and fewer of us are members of political parties, nearly 4.3 million registered to vote, 97 per cent of those eligible. Overall turnout was 86 per cent, testament to a nation’s engagement and a direct challenge to a broken political system.

But how now to capture and harness the energies that were unleashed during a referendum campaign in Scotland that shook the foundations of the British state, stunned a complacent elite and came so close to shattering the 307-year-old Union?

And this much I know: unless there is far-reaching constitutional reform, there will be a second Scottish independence referendum before too long.

It’s going to be interesting to watch.

 

Scotland!

by coldwarrior ( 85 Comments › )
Filed under government, Open thread, Politics, UK at September 17th, 2014 - 8:00 am

Aye! The Vote for or against independence from the United Kingdom is Thursday, the 18th. I would have to say that if I were allowed to vote, It would be ‘YES!’. Succeed or Fail, Local sovereignty makes more sense to me than rule from afar.

Tomorrow, my Dad and I are at our yearly outing at a very, very nice Country Club enjoying a round of the Scots own game, Golf. After we will have a wee dram with dinner in the club house and see what the Scots have decided.

After more than 300 years of political union, a Scots army, this time made up of voters, has a date with destiny, writes Hugh Reilly

It is June 1314, the place is Stirlingshire. The English army has tramped up the Middle Ages version of the M74 to sort out some treasonous Jocks who have challenged King Edward’s right to rule over his Scottish serfs. The rebellious Scots to be crushed are led by Robert the Bruce, a warrior king whose destiny could have been oh-so-different had he suffered from acute arachnophobia. Earlier, he had taken up residence in a damp cave, an ideal location for the fugitive on the go, and watched a hapless spider endeavour to swing Tarzan-like across the grotto’s entrance. On its sixth attempt, it finally succeeded.

Bruce interpreted the dodgy acrobatics as a sign that he could defeat the English. In terms of symptoms of a certifiable mental illness, waging a war based on the trapezium-type exploits of a spider was right up there with listening to the ranting of a burning bush.

Nevertheless, Bruce managed to gather a small army. Those who had answered his call to arms with a resounding “Yes” knew the dire consequences of defeat; yet, they felt the fear and did it anyway. They let out a huge groan when Bruce replied in the affirmative to Henry De Bohun’s demand for an equestrian square-go but how they cheered when Bruce stood tall in his stirrups and gave the English knight the pure malky with a battle-axe. Once the corpse was shuffled off the battlefield, the mortal combat began in earnest.

Despite being outnumbered two to one, the Scots prevailed, forcing Edward to catch the first cruise ship departing Dunbar for London. Across England, town-criers employed by the BBC declared it an outstanding English success. Sadly, the sacrifices of the men and women who fought for Scotland’s freedom were betrayed with the signing of the Act of Union 1707. The treachery of the ruling class is wonderfully encapsulated in the Robert Burns song, Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation. The people of Scotland were not consulted on whether they wished to give up the country’s sovereignty; indeed, when the terms were revealed, riots erupted in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

On Thursday, Scots have a once- in-a-lifetime chance to end 300 years of a being a junior partner in the artificial country known as Britain. I say artificial because, despite three centuries of trying to weld four distinct peoples into one homogeneous race, the traits and differences persist. Ask a Londoner his nationality and he’ll answer “English” – likewise, a guy from Glasgow declares himself to be “Scottish”. No-one, with possible exception of hard-line Ulster Orangemen, states they are “British”.

Back in 2012, only around 26 per cent of voters supported independence. Last week, on accepting that the referendum result was on finely sharpened knife edge, Alistair Darling claimed that “it was inevitable that the gap would narrow” as polling day neared. He rather unhelpfully didn’t explain why it was somehow unavoidable that the pro-independence vote would gather momentum. I think I can give Mr Darling some clues.

Firstly, the scaremongering tactics haven’t played well with a highly educated, highly sceptical electorate. Project Fear has backfired spectacularly on the pro-Unionists as, one by one, the doom and gloom scenarios have been ushered into the light and exposed. Should Scottish voters have the cheek to back independence, Scotland would be evicted from the EU, said the nay-sayers. Nato wouldn’t want Alba either. Worse, the cost of sending worthwhile mobile phone texts such as “Ah’m oan the bus, c u in 10 mins” would rise due to roaming charges imposed by avaricious telecommunications companies.

The bluff that Scotland would not be permitted a currency union with its southern neighbour was called when the value of sterling fell on news of the possibility of Scotland regaining sovereignty. It’s abundantly clear that the penchants of the financial market will have a greater input on a currency union than the anti-independence utterings of Gideon Oliver Osborne (yes folks, that’s the Chancellor’s name as it appears on his birth certificate). Denying Scotland the use of the pound would be cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face, akin to Van Gogh cutting off his ear to stop folk pestering him to wear spectacles.

Secondly, once the bluster and froth disappeared from the debate, Scots began to observe that objective evidence exists that their country will not descend into a land resembling the set of Mad Max. A league table of GDP wealth produced by the OECD – the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development – puts Scotland 14th in the world. The discussion between oil experts as to how much fossil fuel lies around our coastline told us that even the most Jeramiah of black gold drillers admits there are at least 16 billion barrels. Consequently, the unique attempt by Britain-firsters to paint carbon fuel assets to be burdensome liabilities failed to convince those cursed with possessing critical faculties.

A Yes victory would mean no more wars of adventure. Disastrous British foreign policy has led to the deaths of hundreds of UK soldiers and the maiming of thousands of others. And for what? Afghanistan is still a mediaeval basket case and IS rules large swathes of Iraq, a country we “liberated”. At home, a new Scotland would build on the sense of social justice that sets it apart from its southern neighbour. Despite the off-stage grumblings of arch-unionist Johann Lamont, the notions of free university education, free prescriptions and free personal care resonate with the majority of Scots who agree with a collectivist approach to helping those in need.

On Thursday, we have a date with destiny. I urge voters to seize the moment, to give us back full sovereignty over our affairs.

The alternative – more years of Westminster governments led by Cameron, Miliband or, heaven forbid, Boris Johnson – fills me with dread.

At Bannockburn, the “wee folk” bled for liberty. We need only place a cross in the Yes box. Cry freedom!

 

There is entirely too much history and information to cover in one blog post. So if I may, two columns and some links. The first is from Bill Jamieson:

THE CASE FOR ‘YES’ YOU’VE NEVER HEARD

Good morning, Scotland!

SCOT-BUZZ EDITOR BILL JAMIESON says it’s forty eight hours to the biggest political decision we’ve ever made – not just how we want to be governed but which country we want to be in…

Scotland is at fever pitch. Never before has such argument raged, mass rallies held, the TV studios packed and tens of thousands of windows plastered with ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ stickers. Banners are everywhere.

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Never has a question more polarised Scots’ opinion. Views for and against have been put with increasing passion. Towns, communities and families have been split.

Accusations of “scaremongering” and “Project Fear” have marked the battle. The pound has trembled and markets have swooned.

We’re global news. You can’t walk down Edinburgh’s Princes Street or Buchanan Street in Glasgow without being jostled by competing teams of camera crews.

We’ve never had such world attention.

Now it’s up to us to cast our vote.

You might think by now you’ve heard all the arguments there could be for independence.

But here’s one you almost certainly haven’t heard from the mouths of politicians – the argument that dare not speak its name…

Let’s call it Consequences, or facing up at last to the honest truth.

We’ve heard promises of more public spending, better welfare benefits, protected spending on the NHS, more secure pensions, and a Scottish government able to deliver with those North Sea oil revenues. We’ll escape austerity. We’ll be better off.

Many ‘Yes’ voters fervently believe this. And many traditional Labour voters have been won over by it. The ranks of ‘Yes’ have been swollen by the deep unpopularity of austerity, cuts in welfare spending and a prolonged squeeze on wages and earnings that have lagged inflation – pay reduction in real terms.

Five years of austerity. Little wonder there’s deep resentment.

But how likely is it that independence per se will change this? How credible are the promises?

It’s said Scotland has had a great referendum debate. That it has re-invigorated democracy.

But is this really true?

Throughout this long campaign there’s been a huge hole.

There’s been barely any analysis of the real cause of our grievance, of what lies behind austerity and why public spending is being squeezed.

This long, raucous relentless debate has proceeded without an honest assessment of why government has been unable to deliver, why politicians are distrusted and why voters feel so disenfranchised.

Two words have been barely mentioned by either side. But they’re the biggest words in politics today. Those words are deficit and debt.

Here are two figures to consider.  UK government debt now stands at £1.35 trillion. It will continue to rise next year, the year after that and the year after that.

While the annual budget deficit has been brought down, this only slows the rate at which the debt total continues to rise. B y 2018-19 that debt total is projected to climb to £1.5 trillion.

We can argue forever as to who or what was to blame, the wicked Tories or spendthrift Labour. But this debt has imposed a colossal burden.

It’s a figure almost too big to contemplate. So let’s focus instead on the annual debt interest alone.

This year, we need to find £52 billion to meet the interest bill. This, too, continues to rise. By 2018-19 it is set to hit £75 billion.

This means, it soaks up the entire tax revenue from fuel duties, Petroleum Revenue Tax, tobacco duties, spirits duty, wine duty, beer duty, Air Passenger Duty, insurance Premium Tax, the Climate Change Levy and Vehicle Excise Duty – and we will still have £3 billion to find!

Little wonder politicians hate talking about debt. Because debt interest is ‘dead money’. It brings in no votes. But it’s one of the first things deducted from government spending. And it compels cuts in other areas to make room for it.

SCOTTISH CONSEQUENTIALS

An independent Scotland’s share of UK debt is reckoned at between £126 billion and £140 billion. Just taking the lower figure would leave Holyrood with £3.8 billion to find in annual interest charges.

Surely, then, we should vote ‘No’? But the case for independence is strengthened, not weakened, by the prospect of a Scottish government having to come to terms with this Consequence.

Not having to deal with the realities of tax and borrowing and debt has left our politics infantalised for too long. It’s bred and fostered the culture of false promises and more spending without concern for the reality before us.

An independent Scotland would have to cope, very quickly and credibly, with this reality. To hold and retain business and investor confidence, the independent government would need to recognise, in a way the referendum battle has failed to do, the reality of government today and the constraints that come with it.

Spending commitments will be deferred as finance minister John Swinney earnestly tells the Scottish parliament of the need to establish early credibility as one of “regrettable necessities of building independence”.

Remember, too, the resources he will need to find to build up our reserves to put behind a currency board to ensure currency stability and halt capital flight (see elsewhere this page).

The parliament will ponder the option of tax increases rather than spending cuts. But it will also need to weigh up the cost of those tax increases – voter consequence and business exodus.

It will be a moment of truth like no other.

So why not avoid this and vote ‘No’? The problem here is that it will leave ‘Yes’ voters, not with a recognition of this reality, but with a bitter sense of grievance. A large proportion of Scotland will feel cheated and frustrated. These feelings will be stoked by claims that independence was wrested from our grasp at the last moment by a conspiracy of Westminster scare tactics, dirty tricks with banks and big business and the collusion of the BBC. The myth of the Stab in the Back is already being woven.

We will have learnt nothing and gained nothing. Instead, there’ll be the old enemy to blame – the London government, the Westminster parties, the metropolitan elite.

A ‘No’ vote does not put the issue to rest. On the contrary. It will condemn us to more years of infantile politics and reality evasion. The chance to come to terms with a major cause of our discontents will have been missed.

It’s not a comfortable case for independence. It’s not the case you’ll have heard from politicians.

But it’s the case far nearer to the truth than we’ve ever been told.

Now, Paul Krugman. Like him or not, he is absolutely right on this (however, Scotland has oil coming out of its ears and that changes the economics):

Scots, What the Heck?
SEPT. 7, 2014
Paul Krugman

Next week Scotland will hold a referendum on whether to leave the United Kingdom. And polling suggests that support for independence has surged over the past few months, largely because pro-independence campaigners have managed to reduce the “fear factor” — that is, concern about the economic risks of going it alone. At this point the outcome looks like a tossup.

Well, I have a message for the Scots: Be afraid, be very afraid. The risks of going it alone are huge. You may think that Scotland can become another Canada, but it’s all too likely that it would end up becoming Spain without the sunshine.

Comparing Scotland with Canada seems, at first, pretty reasonable. After all, Canada, like Scotland, is a relatively small economy that does most of its trade with a much larger neighbor. Also like Scotland, it is politically to the left of that giant neighbor. And what the Canadian example shows is that this can work. Canada is prosperous, economically stable (although I worry about high household debt and what looks like a major housing bubble) and has successfully pursued policies well to the left of those south of the border: single-payer health insurance, more generous aid to the poor, higher overall taxation.

Does Canada pay any price for independence? Probably. Labor productivity is only about three-quarters as high as it is in the United States, and some of the gap may reflect the small size of the Canadian market (yes, we have a free-trade agreement, but a lot of evidence shows that borders discourage trade all the same). Still, you can argue that Canada is doing O.K.

But Canada has its own currency, which means that its government can’t run out of money, that it can bail out its own banks if necessary, and more. An independent Scotland wouldn’t. And that makes a huge difference.

Could Scotland have its own currency? Maybe, although Scotland’s economy is even more tightly integrated with that of the rest of Britain than Canada’s is with the United States, so that trying to maintain a separate currency would be hard. It’s a moot point, however: The Scottish independence movement has been very clear that it intends to keep the pound as the national currency. And the combination of political independence with a shared currency is a recipe for disaster. Which is where the cautionary tale of Spain comes in.

If Spain and the other countries that gave up their own currencies to adopt the euro were part of a true federal system, with shared institutions of government, the recent economic history of Spain would have looked a lot like that of Florida. Both economies experienced a huge housing boom between 2000 and 2007. Both saw that boom turn into a spectacular bust. Both suffered a sharp downturn as a result of that bust. In both places the slump meant a plunge in tax receipts and a surge in spending on unemployment benefits and other forms of aid.

Then, however, the paths diverged. In Florida’s case, most of the fiscal burden of the slump fell not on the local government but on Washington, which continued to pay for the state’s Social Security and Medicare benefits, as well as for much of the increased aid to the unemployed. There were large losses on housing loans, and many Florida banks failed, but many of the losses fell on federal lending agencies, while bank depositors were protected by federal insurance. You get the picture. In effect, Florida received large-scale aid in its time of distress.

Spain, by contrast, bore all the costs of the housing bust on its own. The result was a fiscal crisis, made much worse by fears of a banking crisis that the Spanish government would be unable to manage, because it might literally run out of cash. Spanish borrowing costs soared, and the government was forced into brutal austerity measures. The result was a horrific depression — including youth unemployment above 50 percent — from which Spain has barely begun to recover.

And it wasn’t just Spain, it was all of southern Europe and more. Even euro-area countries with sound finances, like Finland and the Netherlands, have suffered deep and prolonged slumps.

In short, everything that has happened in Europe since 2009 or so has demonstrated that sharing a currency without sharing a government is very dangerous. In economics jargon, fiscal and banking integration are essential elements of an optimum currency area. And an independent Scotland using Britain’s pound would be in even worse shape than euro countries, which at least have some say in how the European Central Bank is run.

I find it mind-boggling that Scotland would consider going down this path after all that has happened in the last few years. If Scottish voters really believe that it’s safe to become a country without a currency, they have been badly misled.

 

This Link has all of the articles, data, polling and otherwise that you need to become informed.:

http://www.scotsman.com/scottish-independence/

Two articles to wrap up the discussion:

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/09/scottish-independence-surge-has-forced-complacent-and-smug-elite-take-notice http://www.futureukandscotland.ac.uk/blog/jobs-jobs-jobs