Ireland has something for everyone

Massachusetts is officially the most Irish state in the country, with nearly 22 percent of residents being of Irish ancestry.  Considering how many of the politicians I’ve covered are “Irish,” it is surprising that only recently did I travel to the Emerald Isle. The month of June changed that, and what a treat it was.

Ireland has everything –  natural beauty, fascinating history, literary giants, music, lively pubs and extraordinarily friendly people. We flew into Shannon, met our driver and went straight to the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher. We arrived before the tour buses and were virtually alone on the windswept cliffs in County Clare overlooking the sea. From there it was on to the Burren, where you can walk – albeit very carefully – onto the limestone karsts bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Galway Bay.  The rugged beauty is very humbling.

Little towns like Doolin and Leenane are quaint and welcoming, with travelers drawn to pubs and Irish music, substantial food and friendly people.   As you move up the west coast, it’s bodhrans, bouzoukis and ballads, rolling countryside, stone walls, black-faced sheep dotting the hills, Connemara ponies, prehistoric ruins, castles, ancient abbeys and walled gardens,  feeding baby lambs and lessons in falconry. Galway, too, is very welcoming, with  restaurants, shopping, street musicians, and all the casual activities one would expect in a university town.

And then it’s on to Dublin, on the east coast, where those so inclined can kayak downtown on the River Liffey or the sea at Dalkey, among the seals.  Here one can be immersed in Ireland’s history, its castles, cathedrals (especially including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, dating back to 1191, where Jonathan Swift was Dean), and museums (including the new EPIC  museum, the Irish emigration museum that has every interactive tool offered by modern technology to tell the story of how Irish people shaped the world).

Ireland embraces its literary giants in a way unimaginable in the United States.  Most remarkable, perhaps, is the annual celebration of Bloomsday, commemorating June 16, 1904, when the story takes place. It chronicles  18 hours in Dublin experienced by Leon Bloom, the fictional protagonist of Jame Joyce’s Ulysses.  The innovative stream-of-consciousness  technique heralded a new modernism in world literature, and the book, modeled on 18 episodes in Homer’s Odyssey,  is often tough to slog through.  But imagine any June 16th in Dublin where folks across the city turn out in  period costumes and walk in small groups from one to another of the locales so colorfully described in the novel, with leaders reading portions out loud to the delight of all who will listen.

Even pub walls are adorned with pictures of Swift, W. B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, Samuel Beckett,  and George Bernard Shaw.  (Seen less often are women writers like  Maria Edgeworth, Elizabeth Bowen, Anne Enright or Mary Lavin.) One can do a literary pub crawl, featuring readings by the writers who frequented those establishments back in the day.  One such literary pub crawl is at the 18th century establishment The Duke.  A plaque just outside commemorates a place where Leopold Bloom (remember, he’s Joyce’s fictional creation) stops to help a blind man cross the street.  Pubs in Ireland were once hiring halls for day laborers, the sites to which they returned at the end of the day to collect their wages. While that no longer happens, pubs remain community gathering spots, a place to get a pint and a good meal, and to experience a significant slice of Irish life.

From the 8th century Viking raids, to the 12th century Norman invasion, to British oppression and bloody responses, and 30 years of “The Troubles,” now bubbling up again, the Irish have had to endure unspeakable trials.  Nor should we forget the severe Irish potato famine in the 19th century that caused mass starvation and disease and drove the 1840’s Irish diaspora.

There was also the crushing power of the Church on daily life, the brutality of the Magdalene asylums run for two centuries by Catholic orders, which the government acknowledged only in 2001 to have viciously abused thousands of women. As a sign of change,  two years ago, due to the perseverance of amateur historian Catherine Corless,  discovery was made of a mass grave in Tuam, near Galway, where as many as 800 bodies of babies and children from the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home are buried. A small, spontaneous memorial has been created on the site, and excavations will be done there by the end of this year.

Much of the Irish experience is dark, but with the power of the Church diminishing and the country becoming more secular, Ireland is trending cosmopolitan and global.  A high level of education has attracted multi-national companies. The country has welcomed immigrants, including many from eastern Europe. Ireland’s laws have become more liberal, providing access to abortion and gay marriage.  (Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is gay.)

Ireland’s painful history makes it all the more remarkable that the wonderful features of the country are topped off by the people themselves, friendly, open to conversation, helpful to visitors, and given to humor.  When they say in Gaelic, “blessings until I see you again,” you know you want to return to the Emerald Isle and experience it again and again, perhaps starting with the exciting Museum of Literature, scheduled to open in Dublin this fall.

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Make it to the zoo this summer

Franklin Park Zoo isn’t my grandfather’s  zoo, or the one my father took me to eons ago.  It isn’t even the zoo I took my children and grandchildren to.  It’s becoming a jewel of a zoo, with animal attractions for people of all ages, from the entertaining antics of the prairie dogs to the graceful elegance of the giraffes, the gorillas (including famous silverback Little Joe), and lions to the calming beauty of the butterfly house.  Natural setting play areas  and  enhanced landscaping all contribute to the experience, making the visitor feel at one with the environment.

But the zoo today is much more than that.  It has thrived under the dedicated leadership of President and CEO John Linehan, who for 30 years has overseen the care and management of hundreds of animal residents and 155 zoo employees. (Some are at the smaller Stone Zoo in Stoneham.)  Today, in an era where climate change poses an existential threat to the planet and possibly thousands of species become extinct every year, Zoo New England is playing a role in preservation of species and sustaining biodiversity. Some sources predict as many as half of all species will go extinct by the middle of the century.

By integrating conservation, education and research into its programs, Zoo New England is doing what we can’t depend on our political leaders to undertake.  Animals are bred with careful attention to genetic makeup and can be sent all over the country to breed with suitable mates.  The zoo is collaborating with the Broad Institute on genomic studies of different zoological species. Veterinarians do research on parasites and disease that threaten the disappearance of one species, whose disappearance would then spur extinction of species related in its complex ecosystem. Amphibians, for example, are among the most endangered.

Zoo New England’s chief veterinarian Eric Baitchman has been dealing with the endangered Panama golden frog, threatened by the chytrid fungus. And that’s just one project. While most of us weren’t looking, giraffes have quietly slipped onto the list of endangered species, with fewer than 100,000 remaining. Who can imagine a world without these magnificent creatures?

Baitchman has also initiated the One Health Program, where fourth year Harvard Medical students do a rotation at the Franklin Park Zoo. The program explores the relationships among animals, people and the ecosystem. Medical students learn to use their clinical intuition to care for creatures who can’t tell them where it hurts.

When I was a small child, my father would take me to the Franklin Park Zoo. There were some bored camels and some unhappy looking deer.  The saddest of all, however, was the elephant house. The space was bare and smelly. Three miserable looking elephants were chained to the concrete floor, their exercise limited to swishing their trunks. Lifting one leg a few inches. Putting it down.  Lifting another leg a few inches. Putting it down. It was pitiful, and a far cry from what visitors find today.

Zoo New England (the formal name for the Franklin Park Zoo and the Stone Zoo) has been transformed. It is well worth visiting and, even more, supporting, even if your children and grandchildren have gone beyond the traditional zoo visiting days.  It is so much more than entertainment.  It is a player in the mission of saving the planet.  It is walking the walk, even when our national leaders are barely talking the talk.

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Bloodshed continues in Northern Ireland despite Peace Accords; could worsen

photo Irish Times

July 12th is a day to watch in Northern Ireland. The annual Orange Order parade– the highlight of a months-long marching season– commemorates the 1690 Battle of Boyne defeat of forces of Catholic King James II by those of Protestant King William of Orange. It was the beginning of Protestant control of Ireland and the heavy hand of the British on every Irish neck. This Friday there will be Ulster marching bands and carousers , unionists and to a lesser degree  nationalists marching provocatively near and through each other’s neighborhoods, and the evening before  lighting bonfires,  burning flags, other symbols and effigies. Some level of violence is expected. Weeks ago, huge piles of wood kindling were being assembled  in restive areas of Belfast, where “The Troubles”- the euphemism for the sectarian strife that caused more than 3600 deaths- still drive emotions.

Our trip to Belfast was profoundly disturbing. While tourists are flocking to Northern Island to visit the Giant’s Causeway, Game of Thrones sites and the Titanic Museum, a visit to the heart of The Troubles area in parts of Belfast reveals tales of enduring sectarian hatreds. [ According to the 2011 census, 48 percent of N. Ireland residents are or were brought up Protestant and 45 percent Catholic. Since then the gap has grown even smaller.]   At its core the conflict is less  about Protestants versus Catholics as much as cultural identity, pitting those loyal to Great Britain and the English language against those who want to unite with the Republic of Ireland and embrace two languages. More than two decades since the 1998 Good Friday peace accords, tensions are never far from the surface.

The city center may be neutral and people can walk freely among bomb-protected buildings; not so the outlying areas. In west Belfast, for example, graffiti on Bombay Street celebrates the martyrs of the traditional IRA and the newer, more violent Provisional IRA.  Billboards glorify violent activists, often shown in balaclava masks to conceal their faces.  “Prepared for peace. Ready for war,” proclaims one mural. Other paintings glorify affinity with Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela and the Palestinians. IRA “No Surrender” signs urge continued resistance to British occupation of Ireland.The Republican Network for Unity (RNU) declares “Our struggle continues.”

Paramilitary groups exert pressure on both sides.  Not far away is a loyalist neighborhood that  honors military heroes of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), which ruled for the British with an iron fist. The UVF, UDA (Ulster Defense Association)  and other groups are still recruiting. Graffiti here lionizes authoritarian  leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu  and Donald Trump.  In a time of so-called peace, heavy iron gates between loyalists along Shankill Road and the republicans along Falls Road open at eight a.m. but close at six in the evening.

Gangs are restructuring themselves, partly defined by the level of violence their members embrace.  Many control explosives and guns never decommissioned during the peace process and are actively recruiting new members.

Each anniversary of a terrorist bombing or unanswered shooting even decades ago raises new anxieties about possible retaliation. Shootings have increased, with police officers and security forces often the target.  Journalist Lyra McKee, 29, who covered The Troubles for several publications, was gunned down  while standing near a police car 70 miles away from Belfast in Derry April 18. Riots there were spawned by a police action against dissidents in the so-called new IRA, which is opposed to the peace process.  More mainstream parties called the McKee killing a “futile and pointless” attempt to unravel the gains achieved by the Peace Process over two decades. As recently as a year ago, homes belonging to leaders of Sinn Fein, including Gerry Adams, were bombed to protest those who want to proceed nonviolently. In short, the situation is a dangerous mess, and we’re not getting the story here.

Coverage of the June 15th funeral of former Provisional IRA leader Billie McKee reflects the divide.  The more Catholic Irish Times quoted a mourner as saying “Billy remained steadfast to the end and had no regrets, despite all the hardship that he endured for  his republicanism.”  By contrast, the more Protestant, loyalist Belfast Telegraph declared “McKee died a bitter and twisted old man,” forever opposed to the Sinn Fein peace strategy. Throughout the divided community, children, we were told, are growing up imbued with the same hatreds that their parents and their grandparents bore toward neighbors with different loyalties.

Anxieties are growing about the implications of a hard Brexit for this tenuous situation. Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union but could be dragged in the opposite direction if/when the UK leaves the EU.  Growing fears focus on whether restoration of a militarized border crossing will undo whatever peace gains have been achieved through the Good Friday Accords.  Donald Trump’s cavalier embrace of good walls during his June visit didn’t help the situation, where danger lurks just around the corner.  It’s a story most U.S. media are not covering, but it is very threatening and terribly worrisome to anyone who cares about the people in that wonderful island.

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Dems first debate: too soon for judging winners and losers?

Did we really shift from a Biden-someone to a Warren-Castro  to Harris-Buttigieg “winning” ticket overnight?  Unlikely. We are at a blip in time. There’s a long way to go.

Remember the lack of poll and pundit support Donald Trump had after his first debates?  Remember George W. Bush “lost” a major presidential debate to John Kerry. Remember, in 2012 Barack Obama “lost” his first debate with Mitt Romney. By tomorrow, this week’s first Democratic presidential debates will be just fleeing impressions. Still, we need to sort out what took place.

After a burst of  excitement  when she first announced, Senator Kamala Harris’s presidential candidacy has floundered, due in no small part to her too-cute-by-half answers  to policy questions and the feeling she just wanted to hang around for vice-presidential consideration because she’s this year’s poster child for identity politics.

Her performance at last night’s debate stood out, in part because of these lowered expectations. She came prepared, with a ready quip for the expected  cacophony  of candidates taking over each other,  saying, “Hey guys, America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we’re going to put food on their table.”

Then she proceeded to attack  former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden, showing her strength and his vulnerability.   Damning with faint praise, she acknowledged Biden is not a racist but then used her prosecutorial skills to eviscerate parts of  his civil rights  record, offering personal anecdotes as the more authentic reality. Biden had to defend his support of the 1994 sentencing reform act (which led to disproportionate incarceration of people of color),  his votes against busing to integrate de facto segregated public schools, and his misconstrued assertions  regarding his ability to work with segregationist senators.  His responses were not always cogent, and he looked weak. He tried to recover his balance today, with a forceful response at Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH coalition.

For Biden, given his 47-year career in politics, the past is his present and may determine his future if he can’t guide the dialogue toward what he will do for the country tomorrow. He did best when pledging to restore the soul of America after  the despoliation  of Donald Trump, and in energetically laying out the path to upward mobility through all levels of education. Give him a passing grade, but no National Honor Society pin.

Harris was really strong on gun control but perplexing on Medicare For All’s intent to eliminate private insurance.  She raised her hand when NBC’s Lester Holt asked for a show of hands if a candidate’s health plan would end private health insurance. The next morning on Morning Joe she backtracked, saying unconvincingly that she had misunderstood the question and of course would allow private insurance “for supplemental coverage.”  This is the too cute Kamala that I earlier found off-putting. Even with that softening, her approach is a far cry from letting patients keep their private policies if they choose.

This was also an interesting issue for Elizabeth Warren, clear front-runner in the Wednesday group. She was one of just two candidates in her debate to favor an end to private health insurance.  She had previously, as had most of her primary opponents, taken a more incremental position on achieving health care for all while preserving choice.  She’s clearly the brightest of the bunch,  offering the most serious proposals. But, as with Harris, Warren may be tacking too much to port in order to attract Bernie Sanders’s acolytes.That said, Wednesday was a good night for Warren. She showed her fighting spirit, restated her themes (economy working only for the top few) and managed to get her compelling life story (hardscrabble life growing up in Oklahoma) into her closing statement.  She consolidated her standing in the top tier.

The unwieldy field of Democratic presidential candidates, divided of necessity into two evening debates, must get winnowed down quickly.  In these speed-dating, mini job interviews,  the candidate most under attack got the most air time. Even so, we heard from front-runner  Biden for just over 13 minutes. Kamala Harris had just over 12 minutes; then came Pete Buttigieg, Corey Booker (first night), Bernie Sanders, and Beto O’Rourke. Elizabeth Warren, who fared pretty well in the first tranche of candidates, had a scant 9.3 minutes.  This is no way to evaluate a potential leader of the free world.

Bernie Sanders was, well, Bernie Sanders.  Rewind to 2016, same anger, arm waving and pointing. At best he may be Moses, shaping the Democratic party’s debate, but never being able to  take his people into the promised land. At worst, he could be a de facto spoiler (he has not yet agreed to support the party choice if he is not the nominee) if his people, also embittered,  stay home in November.

Cerebral Mayor Pete remains an attractive candidate to higher income, white, college educated voters. I like listening to him talk and think. Reminds me of past thinking man losers like Sen. Bill Bradley, Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Cong. Mo Udall.  He conveyed sincerity in his response to the expected question about the Ft. Wayne white-on-black police  killing, but, if he can’t attract serious non-white support, his presidential candidacy is doomed.

The big loser on Wednesday was former Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, who, on the  national scene, was pale, uncertain, unclear and unimpressive.  He was certainly outperformed by former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, who was particularly passionate about conditions in the southern border detention centers and was most specific on practical ways to address overall immigration reform.  Castro gained the most traction in that debate.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar  also did relatively well, articulating  her more moderate positions while letting her personality come through. Her campaign is predicated on the salability of her approach in neighboring early-caucus state of Iowa. If she doesn’t do well there, she may end up as someone’s running mate, cabinet official or back in the Senate.

I wouldn’t write off New Jersey Senator Cory Booker – yet. He’s charismatic, especially one on one, didn’t drill down into policy details but presented with energy and passion and left a reasonably favorable impression. But he needs more. Booker gave portions of his remarks in Spanish, as did  O’Rourke and Castro.  For those who speak Spanish, Booker’s was reportedly most cringe-worthy, and grammarians winced at O’Rourke’s use of his non-native tongue. Castro, who admits to not speaking Spanish well, kept his Spanish to his closing statement. Not sure how this all played out with the Telemundo audience.

Unless I’m missing something, candidates like  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand,  New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and the others  failed to convince that they warrant serious consideration.

This debate format will repeat in Detroit a month from now.  It may be more of the same.  Debates in September will have a slightly higher threshold for participation, and hopefully an increasingly  smaller field will debate monthly through next April.  Optimally they won’t kill each other off, and a candidate will emerge strong enough to defeat Donald Trump.

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Supreme Court decision on gerrymandering profoundly disappoints

So now, in time for the July 4th celebration of our democracy, the Supreme Court has ruled that elected officials shall pick their voters rather than the other way around.  It’s probably a worse decision that Bush v. Gore because the Court said in 2000 that there was no precedential value to that decision.  Not so with Thursday’s ruling on gerrymandering.

The nation’s highest court said that it has no role to play in determining whether gerrymandering – drawing congressional district lines to advantage one party over the other – has gone too far. Lower courts have found otherwise, including in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio.  The current case before the Supreme Court involved a Republican map in North Carolina and a Democratic map drawn in Maryland.

Chief Justice John Roberts differentiated between race-based gerrymandering and partisan gerrymandering, the former said to be “inherently suspect.” On partisan gerrymandering, he rejected a role for the Supreme Court, saying that the districts may reasonably appear unjust, but that the resulting interference with democratic principles doesn’t mean that the solution lies with the federal judiciary.

I share Justice Elena Kagan’s “deep sadness” that the nation’s highest court turns its back on its role in preserving our democracy through the fundamentals of a free and fair voting system. “The partisan gerrymanders in these cases deprived citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights: the rights to participate equally in the political process,” she wrote. In her dissent, Kagan said that the practice of extreme partisan gerrymandering amounts to “rigging elections.”  Outrageously, the nation’s highest court has taken a pass.

Federal courts at the district level have acknowledged their responsibility. Former rulings have held that districts must be compact, contiguous and reflect common interests to preserve as much as possible the value of one person one vote.  The North Carolina legislator who drew his state’s pro-GOP map said that he believes Republicans are better for the country, and he drew the map to maximize their opportunities to get elected. The map he drew facilitated the election of ten Republicans and three Democrats, only because, he said, he couldn’t figure out how to get 11 Republicans and just two Democrats. Not surprisingly, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the North Carolina Democratic Party filed suit.

There are other remedies, definitely more long-term. One is active grassroots engagement by a party to wrest control of the state legislature.  Another is to establish independent commissions in each state to draw new district lines in an attempt at bipartisanship.  There is also a role for Congress, where a 2005 Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act, reintroduced every year, would mandate each state to set up such an independent commission and consider such criteria as compactness, contiguity, and population equality.

This substitution of partisanship for popular will is especially galling in our divided time, with the fate of the republic hanging in the balance. It’s bad enough that our elections are influenced by unseen amounts of “dark money” and that we have foreign intervention in our electoral process, especially manifest in 2016. Now we have Supreme Court imprimateur on unfair partisan power aggregation in district lines that determine whether and to what extent our individual votes count. And we can’t even make a federal case out of it.

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Trump for Ireland is no laughing matter

Despite our desire for a Trump-free ten days in Ireland, our  President was on too many minds over there. Landing at Shannon Airport, we had to pass the VIP Lounge where just days before Trump and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar  met because Varadkar  didn’t want an official visit to be at Trump’s golf course, and Trump didn’t want to meet at a nearby historic castle that he didn’t own.

Locals and the press were still buzzing about his visit organized to promote his golf course. Sons Donald, Jr. and Eric charmed the crowd at a local Doonbeg pub, taking over the taps and buying a free round for everyone. When they departed amidst good cheer, they stiffed the establishment, saying they don’t carry credit cards with them and causing the proprietor to have to bill the Trump organization, which days later reportedly anted up.   From our experience, Irish sentiment seemed overwhelmingly anti-Trump, though some in the tourist business were reluctant to share their views until they ascertained the opinion of their American visitors.

The Director of Dublin’s EPIC emigration museum invited the U.S. President to visit the brilliant new museum to help him understand immigration and change his perspective. In an open letter, he wrote, “We know you’ll have a busy presidential itinerary, but we promise you an enlightening experience in less time than it takes to play a round of golf.”

Outside the Parliament (Dail) building, several Veterans for Peace were protesting the United States’ use of Shannon Airport as a center in transporting troops to the Middle East, in violation of the Irish neutrality law.  Some joke shops and gift stores were studded with cartoonish postures, masks, and tee shirts lampooning our President.  There were no MAGA hats and Trump supporters were not readily visible, though at Sinnott’s Pub near St. Stephen’s Green we saw a man wearing a black tee shirt featuring Trump’s head. On closer inspection, the inscription read “not my President.”

Time and again, people expressed hope that Trump would not be reelected in 2020 but fear he will be. One major concern is his position on Brexit and his seeming ignorance about the implications of a hard Brexit for Ireland. The Good Friday Peace Agreement, designed in 1998 to bring an end to the bloodshed between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, called for open borders between north and south. Many fear a return to hard borders would increase the level of violence and undo the gains so painfully achieved and so tenuous. Yet, in his conversation with the Irish Prime Minister, Trump waxed poetic about border walls, saying they’re a good thing and reflecting on the desired wall between the United States and Mexico. Varadkar explained to Trump that a basic tenet of Irish policy is to avoid a hard border or a wall.

Donald Trump is no laughing matter, even in Ireland.  With the likely ascension of Boris Johnson (sometimes dubbed “the British Trump” )to be the next British Prime Minister, pledged to a hard Brexit, what is today a persistent headache for Ireland could risk a fatal aneurysm.  Trump’s stirring the pot  was not well received.

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Ireland: where Trump is not, on climate change

We hadn’t even finished unpacking from a vacation in Ireland when we were accosted by headlines that the Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plans to undo years of modest progress on climate change, especially the Obama Clean Power Plan. The Trump Affordable Clean Energy Rule’s bow to the U.S. coal industry (among other fossil fuel players) starkly contrasts with the Irish government’s new proposal to have 70 percent of energy be renewable by 2030.  Ireland’s multi-faceted plan  would, among other things, raise its current 10-euro per ton carbon tax to 80 euros by 2030.  We could only shrug our heads and sigh.

The EPA plan, which is expected to go into effect in 30 days, will roll back tailpipe emission standards.  If the Irish government’s proposal goes into effect, new gas and diesel cars would be banned starting in 2030, with several incentives to drivers to switch to electric cars.  Local communities could, for example, provide cheaper parking rates for such cars, and they could bar fossil fuel cars from entering town centers. In new buildings, oil furnaces would be banned in 2022 and gas-fueled furnaces in 2025.  There are financing plans to subsidize homeowners having to retrofit.  People who create their own energy would be able to sell excess electricity back to the grid starting in 2021. Single use plastics would be heavily taxed. And on and on and on.

Only time will tell how much of the Irish government’s plan will actually be embraced and implemented, but it is many steps in the right direction.  The Emerald Isle is definitely going further green. The United States is going further to the dark side, inevitably leading to increases in pollution despite warnings by most if not all scientists that climate change due to fossil fuels’ heating of our environment is an existential threat.  We have a scant 20 years before the damage we are wreaking become irreversible.

Perhaps worst of all, the Trump administration is making changes that, if approved by the Supreme Court, would make it more difficult for future Presidents to reverse his reversal, limiting the EPA’s ability to make rules governing the whole country. By devolving decision-making about environmental regulations to the individual states, the administration is impeding progress that could protect the lives of our grandchildren and the very survival of the planet.

Trump, the consummate hypocrite, is dismissive of climate change – and the increased floods, droughts, wildfires, extreme temperature swings – while at the same time applying for the building of a sea wall  around his Doonbeg, Ireland golf course to protect it from erosion due rising of the Atlantic Ocean. The permit cites the cause of the problem as climate change. Just one of the many issues that should be driving us to the streets in protest – or at least to the ballot box in  17 months to eject the planet’s biggest threat.

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