This has become a suicide pact. The UK had a great arrangement with the EU. They helped write the terms of the trade zone. They got to keep their own currency and manage their own immigration and visa system. The UK was a unique, powerful member of the Eurozone.. Now they are going to trigger an economic disaster, as well as lose Northern Ireland and Scotland. Simple as that. The Union is about to be broken, and they caused it themselves. And this Eton-Oxford elitist (who intentionally acts like a buffoon to disarm the UKs normally aggressive press) will go down in history as the man who killed-off the UK.
There's a revolution happening in Ireland, one of the last progressive nations left on earth. Ireland is coming together, while the UK is being torn apart.
After a century of relative stability following a Civil War, the Republic of Ireland is asking some big questions and making some big decisions. Same sex marriage is now legal. Divorce has now been legal for 23 years. And the Republic has taken the first step to legalize abortion for any reason a woman chooses.
This is a nation that has been closely aligned with the Vatican for centuries. A nation that served as a Catholic foil to England's Anglican patriarchy. A nation that, if the legend is to be believed, preserved Western European civilization during the Dark Ages.
But a new generation of Irish citizens do not fear the Vatican. They learned from their parents that upholding human rights is a cornerstone of Irish society. This nation of just 6 million people advocates for human rights from Yemen to Gaza to Syria to Burma and even the USA. And a disproportionate number of Irish people are members of Amnesty International. It was celebrity Irish Amnesty International members like Bono and Sinéad O'Connor who got me into human rights advocacy in high school. Watch sessions of the Irish parliament (Oireachtas Éireann) on YouTube or RTÉ and there's a good chance the term "human rights" will be spoken.
A fascinating awakening has occurred. Sometime between the late 1980s and today, the Irish people realized that they don't have to follow the Vatican in order to set a high standard for human rights. They are doing it themselves, in the secular sphere of diplomacy and trade. The latest generation of Irish adults are less religious than their parents. And slightly more of them speak the Irish language than the generation before them. We are witnessing an Irish awakening.
Which brings us to the elephant in the room - reunification. That process began with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. A lot of Irish Republicans feared that it would chill calls for reunification, and for a time it did. But just one generation later, the issue is in the spotlight again. The agreement allows citizens of Northern Ireland to easily apply for Irish dual citizenship. No one thought there would be a wave of Northern Irish applicants. Northern Ireland has better roads and infrastructure, some said, somewhat jokingly. Northern Ireland is just fine and stable, others said. But then in 2016, people began applying for Republic of Ireland passports in record numbers. This year, there have been 100,000 Republic of Ireland passports issued to citizens in the northern six counties. That's higher than the number of people who speak the Irish language daily in the Republic. It's a huge number, and it was set off by the 2016 UK European Union exit referendum ("Brexit").
And so the process to reunify has begun again. We didn't know it in 1998. We didn't know it in 2016. But it is happening now. It seems unavoidable. Even those who were once supporters of partition or the Ulster side.
Meanwhile, a hard UK exit from the EU appears likely. The Tories, in their downright bizarre quest to honor the misguided will of the people, have done nothing but destabilize themselves. Theresa May's government has been on the verge of collapse since June, and a hard Northern Ireland border with checkpoints appears likely, which would violate the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and accelerate the movement to unify Ireland. And on the UK side, an exit from the EU without terms in place would subject the nation to tariffs for just about everything, and would probably put an end to automobile manufacturing in the UK. Nissan, Land Rover, Toyota and others would move their manufacturing to the EU or China. Presumably, only Aston Martin would remain in the UK.
What the hell kept the Tories in power this long, two years after the disastrous EU exit referendum? There's no reason for a Tory government at Whitehall. Meanwhile, the Corbyn-led Labourites are in their predictable disarray. The whole British project, from the 1707 Act of Union, the installation of the House of Hanover in 1715, the creation of the United Kingdom and the mostly mythical Commonwealth, all look increasingly irrelevant, theatrical, even farcical. Let Scotland secede, the northern 6 counties finally reunite, and England and Wales do whatever the hell they think might work.
It's like working on New Year's Day. I'm not hungover, but I was partying under fireworks last night. At least in 2008 and 2009, Independence Day falls on a Friday and Saturday, respectively. And in 2010, it falls on a Sunday, but we will have the following Monday off.
The last time we had Independence Day on a Wednesday was in 2001. Oh shit. Another bad sign. And yes, that means that 11 September comes on the Tuesday the week after Labor Day. The same exact day al Qaeda chose to ensure everyone was back in their cubicles. The planes arrived too early, thankfully, or else more than 3,000 civilians would have been killed. Why didn't those guys pick later flights? I always wondered. Was it a distinctly American thing to be at one's desk at 9am? Is that what they thought? Or maybe they thought that security was lax for the flight designed specifically for business travelers? They chose the perfect day, but the wrong time. I got to work early that day. Not everyone was as punctual that day, and was saved as a result.
I don't need to be at work today or tomorrow (and my company doesn't need me here these two days, either). But here I am.
And then a little slap from the European Trade Union Institute comes-in on my wire service this morning. It calls the USA the "No Vacation Nation". I love the Europeans, but who the fuck asked them for their opinion? Piss off, please. I'm at work!
I was enjoying my espresso in peace until that story caught my eye.
But then I re-read it, and they have an excellent point. The USA cannot claim to have higher worker productivity if it's low-income workers take fewer than ten vacation days per year. I personally have UK-style benefits, with 23 vacation days available each year. But most Americans either don't have that available, or are unable to take all of those days off (because of children, elderly parents, or simply an under-staffed department).
And the report is mirrored by a Washington think tank this morning as well. So it is not just the Europeans who are telling us what's up.