September's Here & There

 Armagh Family World’s Oldest, Says Guinness – A family of siblings from the Armagh/Tyrone border in the North has been named the world’s oldest by Guinness World Records. The Donnellys from Collegelands on the border of Armagh and Tyrone have a combined age of 1,073 years. The siblings are the children of Peter and Ellen Donnelly. Peter was a successful farmer with a prosperous apple business, and his family today accounts for almost 200 grandchildren and great grandchildren. As to the reigning record holders, the 13 Donnelly brothers and sisters range in age from 93 down to 72 and were recently featured on a BBC NI documentary.

Donnelly family members, chatting casually, first brought up the possibility that the family siblings might actually be the “oldest family.”  Inquiries were made, and research by the Guinness company confirmed that the Donnellys belonged in the record book with the citation.

The original family members had a celebration in May after traveling from Coventry, and the rest of the family came later from Dublin, Belfast, and across Northern Ireland. The May gathering was solely for the original 13 siblings.

There doesn’t appear to be any family in the wings to challenge the Donnelly’s ascendancy to the ranks of Guinness World Records.

Race Is On To Attract EU Banks
– As a result of the Brexit referendum there is a scramble among EU’s remaining countries to reach out to entice banks and their revenue and jobs to relocate from their original venues. Many in London have voted to leave the Union, and move to a new site. The two top contenders to draw the highly paid jobs and the tax revenue from these banks are in Ireland and Frankfurt. Arrangements to bring the banks to EU sites have been hugely competitive but Ireland and Germany have a leg up in their campaigns.

The departure of British-based banks to EU sites must be accomplished prior to Britain’s formal leave-taking in March 2019. The Irish Times reports that “while Paris and Amsterdam are set to lure one or two major lenders, Germany and Ireland have to date secured the bulk of commitments from large and prestigious banks.”  In recent weeks Bank of America, Citi, and Morgan Stanley, as well as several Japanese banks, have announced that their EU headquarters will be either in Dublin or Frankfurt. On the jobs front, the largest banks in London suggest that close to 10,000 positions could go to the continent or Ireland in the next two years. 

Terror Alerts Curious Welcomes to a Cruise Ship
– It’s not every cruise ship bound for Euro and Irish ports that receives “safety letters,” but tourism officials in Belfast are concerned that an abundance of caution has prompted the alerts being handed to Belfast-bound ship passengers. The notices refer to possible terror attacks with “the potential risk of isolated violence” in Belfast, where officials are calling the alerts “unnecessarily alarmist” and urging the cruise operator to “consider softening” its contents. This year it is projected that a record 93 ships will dock at Belfast ports, bringing 157,000 passengers to the North.

Since the cessation of broad-based organized violence in Belfast and in other Northern areas, locals there have essentially been peaceful, well apart from terrorist attacks on the continent. The cruise operators contend that places like France, Athens, and Istanbul are properly identified as possible terrorist targets, but not Belfast. “This has had no impact on the popularity of Belfast as a destination, with 100 percent growth in visitor numbers in the past five years.” A Belfast Harbor spokesman added: “Cruise ships make available a daily fact sheet on local information to visitors. The P&O Cunard is the only line we know of which advises on passenger safety.”

Do The Following Poll Number Surprise Anybody?
– US Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has an 18 precent job approval rating in Kentucky. One of the most regressive Senate leaders in contemporary times, McConnell is perhaps most famous for his quote in the first days of the Obama presidency: “My only interest is in making him a one-term president.”
Other elements from the new poll of his own Kentucky constituents show that 74 percent of the voters disapprove of the job he is doing. Time to repeal and replace? As to the recent Senate vote on the failed Republican healthcare bill, only 27 percent of respondents favored the bill.

Adams To Lead S/F; Party OK’s Junior Partner Role – It is unclear when the next Irish election will be held, but two facts are guaranteed, says Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams: He will lead the party into the election, and, in a position reversal, Sinn Fein has signalled its willingness to be a junior partner in any future Irish government following the election. Adams quickly squelched any thought that despite Deputy SF Leader Mary Lou McDonald articulating Sinn Fein policy, that he was the party leader and would lead in the election.

UN Criticizes Ireland On Magdalene Failures
– The United Nations has admonished Ireland on its handling of the Magdalene Laundries. The UN Committee against Torture found fault with the Irish government in two areas of its investigation of the administration of the laundries: The government has not implemented its recommendations to investigate allegations of ill treatment of the Magdalene laundries, and it has not prosecuted perpetrators and ensured that victims have an enforceable right to compensation. Also noted in the UN report is a need to improve staffing at prisons, to review the prison healthcare system, particularly the increase in overcrowding in several women’s prisons.

It should be noted that the Committee praised Ireland for many achievements in the six years since the previous review.

 Trump Sets a Record For Bogus ‘Facts’
– In a period from 6:30 p.m. on Mon., Aug 14, to 8:09 p.m. the following day —less than 26 hours – President Trump made two speeches, held a news conference and used his Twitter finger with abandon, leaving behind a litany of false and misleading “information, “ according to Fact Checker. The count in the 26 hours was 29 false or misleading claims on everything from black youth employment to job creation and energy exports. (And on the seventh month, he rested!)

As a candidate Trump claimed that 58 percent of African-American youth was unemployed. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the number at about a third of that, at 19.2 percent. On energy exports, the accomplishment was Barack Obama’s. During his tenure America became a net exporter of oil and left that good fortune to his successor, Trump, who now claims it as his own. What’s new?

In claiming cuts in illegal immigration at our southern border, he transposed numbers and used cuts under Obama and claimed them as his own. In disputing the three million voter edge Hillary Clinton finished with in the election, he talked about his record-setting electoral college votes. In reality, every Republican president since Rutherford B. Hayes (1876), excepting Richard Nixon in 1968 and George W. Bush in 2000, won more electoral votes than Trump.

We could go on and pile up the Pinocchios, but this pathetic, pathological liar would only make up a few hundred more. 

Finucane Case Finally Going To UK High Court
– Geraldine Finucane and her family have won in their bid for a public inquiry to the British Supreme Court. The family of the slain 39-year-old human rights lawyer’s has been trying for years (she was shot and killed in 1989) for an inquiry that was originally promised but later withdrawn. Over the years there have been numerous allegations made about collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and the British state, and that is a major reason the Finucanes have pushed for a transparent public inquiry. Almost five years ago then British Prime Minister David Cameron described as “shocking” the level of state collusion with paramilitaries in the murder of the young lawyer.

It is expected that the UK Supreme Court will hear the case next year. 

Boston Crowd, Police Work Together To Keep the Peace
– Congratulations to most everyone (total: 33 arrests), in particular the Boston Police, for avoiding a repeat of the Charlottesville horror show, and to Mayor Marty Walsh and his City Hall staff for keeping the rhetorical lid on during the tense hours. With all those people in downtown Boston and only a handful of minor-league arrests, it was thankfully more like a Wolfe Tones concert, or a St. Patrick Parade on good behavior.

Boston Strong can mean many things. 

Rose of Tralee Pageant in Somber Hue For One Rose –
For one of the Rose of Tralee contestants it was a night to remember for a number of reasons. For San Francisco’s Rose, 19-year-old Amanda Donohue, it was fun and festive and part of the show in the Dome in the pageant’s Co. Kerry venue, but it was also a night to recall personal loss, a gaping hole of two years standing. And the music and stage presentation did little to ease the pain for Amanda.

Back in June, 2015, Amanda’s sister Ashley and cousin Olivia Burke were part of a H-1 contingent that had traveled from home in Ireland to Berkeley, California, for a combination visit to America and the opportunity to be with friends, learning new things, and a blessed stay on the sunny west coast of the United States. In what Amanda called “one of the darkest moments of her life,” she lost her precious sister and her cousin when they died in the collapse of an apartment balcony in Berkeley. Also killed on that June day were students Eimear Walsh, Lorcan Miller, Niccolai Schuster, and Eoghan Culligan. Other students were badly injured by the collapse that came amidst a pleasant moment when their futures were bright and tomorrow would come shining through.

Amanda, said that taking part in the Rose of Tralee Festival in Kerry “had been monumental to the healing process,” and she knew as she entered the Dome that her late sister and cousin “were in the Dome with her.”

When the Festival concluded for the evening, with the finale the following night, Amanda kept her own counsel, remembering the two who were with her in spirit. Many of the Roses’ families and the audience out front made a beeline for the Rose Hotel across the street. For Amanda, it was a bittersweet evening, filled with memories that she could not share with the others.

Jesuit Publication Angers Conservative Catholics in US
– There is a simmering but low level argument going with some accusing right-wing Catholics and Christians of forging a pact with the president and thus deepening political polarization in the United States. The argument is about a recent article in the Jesuit publication La Civilta Cattolica that some see as a call by Pope Francis for the Catholic church to disassociate itself from the Trump administration’s right-wing policies on everything from climate change to migration. The pope has criticized Trump’s demand for a wall along our Mexican border, saying such a move was not Christian. Francis to date has refrained from commenting on the article.

Some Catholic conservatives reacted strongly to parts of the article that claimed “the philosophy of the Christian right and violent Islamists are more similar than many care to think...” The article highlights Steve Bannon, a Catholic and until a few weeks ago the chief White House strategist. Noting that Bannon has promoted blocking action against climate change and exploited fears of migrants and Muslims with calls for “walls and purifying deportations,” the article argues that right-wing American evangelicals and conservative Catholics risk corrupting the Catholic faith with an ideology intended to inject religious influence into the political sphere.

Many would argue that such injection has already taken place and the struggle for Catholic hearts and minds is well under way and a clear affront to the separation of church and state. And now that Mr. Bannon is back with Breitbart and its website newspaper and spreading his political fervor, it will be interesting to see how he operates viz a viz the man in the White House, and what role will the pontiff of the Catholic Church play (and how hard will he play it) in a war of words with people he views as unrelenting enemies of the Church he leads.

Trump’s Support Is Eroding –
The roughly 35 percent of American voters who, at least at one time, have been supportive of Trump, along with a handful or a few more Republican senators, and wealthy political contributors make up the bloc of the Faithful that support the embattled White House resident. In recent days, as the obsessive lies and misinformation echoed along the Twitter line and the tap-dancing president looked desperately for a way to keep intact his followers when he spoke of the blood of Charlottesville, Trump’s legions have dwindled to their fewest publicly avowed followers since election day.

While the elite are being heard, for many the checks remain unseen. After Virginia there has arisen a spreading fear that the innate racism that permeates the shrunken corpus of the Trumpian Wonderworld has gone to cover. GOP senators, once uncomfortable dissing their own president, are moving away in droves, afraid of contagion and losing the elite’s good view, and perks and chummy phone calls from Himself.

Not to be forgotten are the cancelled galas, boycotted ceremonies and proud corporate chieftains fleeing from advisory boards and the invitations from Himself. No Mas!

Make no mistake, Charlottesville was a turning point, a tipping point. The Trump “brand” has taken a hit, or in the bankers’ jargon, a “bath.” since he avowed that some “fine people” were protesting alongside the neo-Nazis and white supremacists. After more than seven months of incompetence, dysfunction, lies, me, me, me and the insults to what’s left of our sanity and good will, the final thing we have to offer to this president is patience. And the well is empty.

Even the nonprofit organizations have their running shoes at the ready. Scared of losing their hefty contributors and equally concerned about becoming a pariah at Palm Beach or, God forbid, at Camp David, the big one, they are cancelling planned fundraising events at Trump’s Mar-a-lago club in Florida.

And the White House announced recently that neither the president nor First Lady Melania will attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors that are more than three months away. Presidents and their spouses have, with rare exceptions, attended this event for more than 40 years. The beat goes on.

Whatever the outcome of this tipping point, it cannot come too soon. The question is: Will it take an impending indictment, or emails, or the pesky tax returns, or business records, or will he decide to take the Nixonian route: a long, comfortable life of leisure and the precious expense account —but no books from his pen. Has he ever read one cover to cover?

Whatever it takes, do it. Don’t seek to jail him, nor anything too humiliating. Please, just send him away.
Whatever it takes, do it. Give us our country back, and our good thoughts about each other and another look at the Constitution. Will it be, sans Mr. Trump, again a treasure for the ages? Show Time is over. Ready to be America again. God bless us all.