Symptoms of the Subterranean
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I’m sick again, and so my world shrinks to the boundaries of the house, sometimes to the bedroom walls or the soft edges of the bed. The living room feels remote, but when I’m a little stronger it become safe territory again. The outside world is still too brash, too bright, in its distance.

The beach at Culleton's Gap, Curracloe, Wexford. Christmas Eve, 2012.
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As I write this, I’m sitting in a café in Brussels (where hundreds of refugees are camped in parks, understandably turning down government dormitory accommodation). I’m Irish. I live here, for now. I migrated here, but I’m not a refugee. But look at the history of the Irish diaspora, or that of your own country. Look at how many people in your family or friends are descended from or connected someone who was displaced by war or crushing economic pressures, and think, did any of these people - the Syrians stranded on the beaches of Kos, or arriving in Munich ever dream they would become refugees?

The last Of Our Kind
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Beautiful and poignant reaction by Suzanne Walsh, to this weeks news of walrus beachings in the Arctic, and the deplorable global loss of our fellow animals: "And yet not completely: the soft top of the head can still twitch with incoming images, like walrus stampedes on melting ice-floes. It's better to be the last of your kind, when you rule the world, because your kind is burning it up, even here under the clear blue skies." Continue reading The Last of our Kind, over on Visual Verse.

The Crossabeg Book: The Slaney and the World by Dave Walsh
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or all the travelling I've done, it's always good to come home. I am writing these words 50m away from the River Slaney, in the south east of Ireland, with a a copy of Crossabeg: The Parish and its People (Vol 2) waiting for me. And I'm honoured to be featured in the book. When my neighbour here, Alice Devine, one of the team who put the book together asked me to write something about my travels, I thought the best way was to show how my upbringing in Crossabeg provided the foundation for everything that followed - including my trips to the Arctic and the Antarctic.

JFK Assassination
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Rosemary Willis, a girl of ten, in a red skirt and a white, hooded top, runs on the grass alongside the limousine, filmed by Abraham Zapruder. At frame 190 of the film (Z-190), she slows down, and as she comes to a stop, she turns her head, slightly, to the Texas School Book Depository. She's heard a loud noise. At Z-202 (each frame is one eighteenth of a second), her father, Phil, takes a photo, in which the 'Black Dog Man' can be seen at the white concrete wall, holding a blurred object. The BDM will be gone by the time Philip takes his next picture. At Z-207, Abraham can no longer see Jack Kennedy in the limo; his view is blocked by the Stemmons Freeway sign. At Z-214, Rosemary suddenly turns her head, fast, away from the Book Depository; by Z-217 she is facing Abraham and the Grassy Knoll....

JFK and the Unspeakable
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'Did the U.S. Military Plan a Nuclear First Strike for 1963?' is the title of an article by James Galbraith (son of John Kenneth Galbraith, JFK's ambassador to India), published in American Prospect vol. 5 no. 19, September 1994, and the subject of it is 'that the military presented President Kennedy with a plan for a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union...' As the window for opportunity for attacking the Soviets, before their nuclear capability reached parity with that of the US, was before the end of 1963, James W. Douglass in his book JFK and the Unspeakable (2008) ties this in with the assassination, i.e. it gives the military a motive to get rid of JFK, in order to have someone more compliant press the button, and a motive to make Oswald look like a KGB agent (that business down in Mexico), to have an excuse to attack...

Perils of Dominance
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Many years ago now, the film JFK sparked the debate about whether Kennedy would have sent troops (combat troops) into Vietnam or not. Had he lived, would JFK have refused to do what Johnson did? Did the assassination alter the course of history in this regard? Was the assassination convenient for the military-industrial complex and the national security state, in that they got the war that they wanted? Or would it have happened anyway, but with JFK at the bloody helm? The best we can do is examine some historical research. Gareth Porter's 2005 book Perils of Dominance - Imbalance of power and the road to war in Vietnam takes a close look at the relevant historical documents. Its fifth chapter, 'Kennedy's Struggle with the National Security Bureaucracy', contains exactly the kind of information that we're looking for. The case of Laos JFK had visited what was Indochina (which included...

Martin-Wilderness-of-Mirrors
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There is another backdrop to Oswald's defection and redefection, and the Kennedy assassination, and that's the bleeding edge of the Cold War, with secret agents from Western and Eastern power blocs spying on and deceiving one another, and infiltrating each other's organizations. Oswald and the assassination may even have emerged from this world; they certainly had an effect upon it. For reading material I suggest the classic Wilderness of Mirrors (1980) by David C. Martin, which includes an account of operations overseen by James Jesus Angleton (1917-1987), the head of Counterintelligence in the CIA from 1954 to '74, a job that involved unearthing Soviet spies in the West. Popov and Goleniewski Michal Goleniewski In 1953 Pyotr Popov, a colonel in Soviet military intelligence, began passing information to the CIA. As you may have read in earlier entries of this blog, in April '58 Popov was the first to suggest to...

Lee Harvey Oswald
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Lee Harvey Oswald Once again this blog turns to John Newman's Oswald and the CIA (2008 edition) for evidence from the vast depths of US government files. In this way, pre-assassination documents can throw light on Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald in New Orleans, April-September '63 Oswald left Dallas not long after the Walker shooting, and went back to his hometown, New Orleans. Once there, he wrote to Vincent Lee, the national director of the left-wing Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), about setting up a New Orleans branch of the organization. But 'Lee lost interest in Oswald when he violated the bylaws of the FPCC by claiming charter status' for said branch (p.289). Oswald conducted the business of his rogue 'FPCC' under the name 'A. J. Hidell, Chapter President' (p.329), and on some of the literature he handed out (see photo), the address 544 Camp Street was used. This, as...

Marina Oswald
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Marina Oswald Today, 18 October, is Lee Harvey Oswald's birthday. He would have been 74 today (JFK would be 96). At the time of his 24th birthday, in 1963, his wife Marina and their 20-month-old daughter June were living outside Dallas in Irving, in the house of Ruth Paine. During weekdays, Lee stayed in the Dallas suburb of Oak Cliff. His activities in New Orleans and Mexico were behind him now. He had been working in the Texas School Book Depository since the 16th. On the 20th, their second daughter, Rachel, would be born. On his birthday, Marina and Ruth 'made quite an occasion of it. Ruth brought wine, decorated the table, and baked a cake. When the cake was carried in, glittering with candles, everybody sang, "Happy Birthday, Lee." Lee was visibly moved, and his eyes filled with tears' (Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, p.282). In the 3 December 2001...