The Donald can use the dollar to deliver a double whammy on both the Irish Republic and the European Union - provided the Tories elect a hardline Brexiteer as leader and a ‘no deal’ remains firmly on the table for 31 October. That’s the view of political commentator, Dr John Coulter, in his latest Fearless Flying Column today. 

President Trump could well hold the key to ensuring that a ‘no deal’ Brexit works to the benefit of the United Kingdom, and triggers that Second Irish Famine in Southern Ireland.

Likewise, if The Donald uses his strong dollar effectively, he can land another economic punch below the belt on the European Union and guarantee it will be the UK which comes out top of the heap in the EU/UK Brexit divorce case.

Indeed, a future historic gathering of Irish clans in the next year could well see the dollar replace the euro as the most influential currency of the European Union.

Realistically, the eurozone needs a massive and unified austerity injection across all EU member states to avoid the euro becoming merely a Franco-German financial package.

There has always been a money lobby in the United States wanting to see the dollar as the preferred EU currency. The Donald may not have it all his own way. For example, any Greek abandonment of the single currency will see that economy re-introduce its former drachmas, not the dollar.

At first reading, the dollar dominating the EU may seem like American wishful thinking. But that was before the Irish government launched a last-ditch tourism drive to kick-start its severely battered economy, once dubbed the Celtic Tiger because of its world-wide reputation for rapid expansion.

What last ditch attempt? I hear your say! The Irish Republic is merely trying to spin that any tourist push is really a cover story to batten down the economic nightmare which will hit the South in the advent of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

It reminds of a now dead Irish Presbyterian elder who once boasted: “Don’t give to the freewill offering and we’ll starve them out!” This was the view of a liberal elder trying to organise a hate campaign to force out the evangelical minister in his church. It worked! The minister quit.

Basically, in the scenario of a ‘no deal’, what happens if the EU refuses, or doesn’t have the cash, to bail out the republic again, forcing the South into a closer and more formal political relationship with the UK?

Like Greece and Portugal in the current EU climate, should a ‘no deal’ become an economic reality, Southern Ireland will be on the brink of another economic meltdown. While re-introducing the former highly popular and successful Irish pound is the obvious solution, there is a danger such a move could play into the hands of Sinn Fein, the one-time political apologist for the Provisional IRA.

Formerly fronted by the County Louth TD and party president Gerry Adams – a former Westminster MP for West Belfast, the republican party has become the unofficial leader of the Republic’s anti-austerity movement, and any move to link up with British sterling could be misinterpreted as a sinister plot to bring the South back into the Union.

That reality could save Mary Lou McDonald TD’s political bacon as she recently oversaw a disastrous Southern local council and European elections. Mary Lou needs a new platform and there is the ironic outcome that a ‘no deal’ Brexit could actually play into the hands of an election-battered Sinn Fein.

A few years ago, Irish tourism bosses and the Dublin government unveiled a highly innovative initiative known as The Gathering: An Irish Homecoming. Over the next year, the plan was to attract hundreds of thousands – even millions - of people with Irish family roots back to the Emerald Isle for holidays.

The main targets of The Gathering were North America, Australia and New Zealand – all countries where the dollar reigns supreme. With indicators firmly suggesting the United States is edging well out of recession, this shift could secure The Donald a second term in the Oval Office.

Trump’s visit to Ireland during his first term has already charmed the influential Irish American lobby.

The Southern Irish government, based at Dublin’s Leinster House, is gambling heavily that the millions of tourists will follow their President across the Pond, bringing American dollars to the Republic – not weakened and dwindling euros. Could The Gathering become The Invasion as Ireland effectively becomes the next unofficial state of the Good Old USA?

With the United Kingdom facing financial uncertainty over Brexit, sterling may not have the financial muscle to become a viable alternative to the under-pressure euro. Realistically, too, the single currency’s leading partners – France and Germany – are highly unlikely to recommend sterling as a radical alternative to any crumbling eurozone.

This situation has far-reaching implications for EU-US relations. Another Gathering in Ireland will also be boosted by a significant number of historic centenaries between 2020 and 2022, all of which will increase the dollar’s European power base.

Southern Irish tourism bosses and politicians will recall the massive global publicity and marketing exercise which accompanied 2012’s centenary commemorations to mark the sinking in the icy North Atlantic of the luxury liner, the Titanic, in April 1912 with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

Could the Southern Irish tourism authorities continue the ‘homeland bluff’ over the past 100th anniversaries of the founding of two key Irish nationalist militia movements which played a major part in the Home Rule crisis which bedevilled Ireland in the early years of the 20th century.

These were the Irish Volunteers – the forerunner of the IRA – and the Irish Citizen Army. Both were formed in 1913 in response to Unionists establishing the Ulster Volunteers a year earlier to combat Irish Home Rule.

This month also marks the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, conceived out of the bloodbath known as the Great War, which claimed millions of lives across the trenches and battlefields of Europe.

World War One saw the Commonwealth nations, especially Australia and New Zealand, as well as the United States, send tens of thousands of troops to fight – and die – in Europe. 2017 marked the centenary of America’s entry into World War One.

The Second Gathering organisers can use their events as a template to encourage hundreds of thousands of tourists from these nations – many with no Irish roots at all – to come to Europe to visit battlefields and cemeteries where their ancestors fought, died, or were buried. That obviously means the prospect of billions of dollars flooding into the EU.

The Irish American link will also be enhanced in 2021 as Irish nationalists across the globe pour into Ireland to commemorate the centenary of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which partitioned the island.

While militarily, most nationalists look to the Easter Rising, it was a complete disaster, politically because the British executed most of the Rising leaders by firing squad, it laid the foundations for the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which in turn paved the way for the Free State and ultimately the Irish Republic.

The Second Gathering also provides America with an ace card to financially combat its biggest economic rival, China, which has already offered to use its currency to bail out the entire European single currency.

In spite of China’s very dubious human rights record, many EU states may be prepared to ‘look the other way’ if the yuan was used to stabilise the rapidly faltering euro. Such a move would give the Chinese their biggest financial prize since China’s acquisition of Hong Kong in 1997 from the UK.

An EU-China axis would effectively outmanoeuvre any scheme by the American dollar to dominate Europe’s single currency. The euro would exist in name only, with the Chinese yuan dictating the development and stability of EU member state economies.

In spite of Vladimir Putin’s grip on Russian politics, his ruble is still not yet powerful enough to challenge the yuan – let alone the dollar and sterling – as an alternative European single currency. Besides, would the emerging former Soviet bloc nations really want arch rival China to dominate their economies?

This China-Russian rivalry will be another factor which would play into the hands of financiers wanting to develop the EU-US alliance post Brexit. Time is not on the side of the dollar. A lot of lobbying will have to be done to ensure any beleaguered EU states look west to the US, rather than east to China.

It is one of the ironies of Irish history that for eight centuries the Irish tribes butchered each other for supremacy of the island, yet in the next decade, a series of commemorations could see the dead of those campaigns act as a springboard for the dollar’s domination of Europe.

Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter

Listen to religious commentator Dr John Coulter’s programme, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9.30 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM. Listen online at

Double Whammy Dollar

A Morning Thought @ 387

Anthony McIntyre welcomes the decision to halt vindictive police proceedings against investigative journalists, Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.

the police tell lies, they scheme and they manipulate. Every word they say, every line and sentence of every communication should be interrogated and challenged. Look behind their assertions and often you will find they are haphazard, incompetent and quite literally just making it up as they go along in the hope no one will challenge them. The emperor quite often has no clothes - Jamie Bryson

An alternative title considered for this piece was Judge Tells Thieving Bastards To Fuck Off. It would hardly have been inappropriate given the circumstances pertaining to this case where Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey had their homes raided and their journalistic material seized. Decorum prevailed over sentiment, so the more mundane option made it to the top of the page.

Nevertheless, decorum diminishes absolutely nothing about the mala fides the British police brought to this intimidation dressed up as investigation. Birney and McCaffrey called it right:

The police have dropped the case for one reason only – finally, they accept that by arresting us and raiding our homes and offices, they were the ones that acted unlawfully ... The PSNI put the cudgel in the hands of Durham constabulary and let them loose on us and on press freedom itself.

The British police, whether based in Belfast or Birmingham - it makes no difference - will lie through their teeth. The cover up surrounding the unlawful killings of 96 supporters of Liverpool FC at Hillsborough in 1989, has taught us to be wary of anything they say about everything. There they lied from day one and are still lying thirty years on. There is just nobody out there left to believe them any more. Police ranks brim with chronic liars from constable to chief constable. The courts in Belfast have loudly told them where to go and it is most welcome to hear. 

I have never found cause to have much faith in courts, believing in the old Belfast barrister quip that, that if you want justice go to a brothel, if you want screwed go to a court. But on this occasion, the court upheld the principle of journalistic privilege and protected the right to free inquiry, absolutely vital to any society purporting to be democratic and transparent.

Free inquiry was so essential to the wellbeing of the project both journalists were involved in. They had investigated the loyalist massacre of 6 men in a Loughinisland bar in 1994 - in a way the lying police had not - where there was extensive state forces collusion with the gunmen. The journalists subsequently produced a documentary. No Stone Unturned. A furious PSNI, already baleful towards the ombudsman Michael Maguire, were further enraged that journalists too should get uppity. Enraged that the RUC reputation was once again in tatters, the PSNI in consort with Durham Constabulary took aggressive and invasive action. “Rather than follow up leads in the documentary, police targeted the journalists.” The British police desperately wanted to drag their probing work down a judicial cul de sac and suffocate it.

Incredibly they said they did so in order to protect those unfortunate enough to have become involved in killing people. In their view investigative journalism had lives “put in danger for merely having the misfortune of being involved in terrorist atrocities at whatever level.” Well, bless my cotton socks, and pardon me Lord for ever having thought the British police lacked compassion for loyalist killers. I am left to feel discriminated against. 

This "staggering proposition” and “warped mindset” might be newly expressed but it is most certainly not a newly found empathy for people they had long officially called terrorist killers. It was always there. What wasn't there was the aggressive stupidity with which the sentiment was expressed. 

The barrister for the targeted journalists concisely caught the police motive in his presentation to the court: 

This was the kind of operation associated with a police state rather than with a liberal democracy that has laws to protect journalists so that they can fulfil their proper function of holding governments to account.

Intimidation, and no other, was the purpose of the arrests. 

For the PSNI, it was a humiliating climbdown and means they might actually now have to do something to find those behind the Loughinisland killings. 

Meanwhile, it is Victory to the Commentariat!

Cop Theft Overturned By Courts

From Atheist Republic the curious tale of one cleric's method of exorcism. 

Photo Credits: Wikipedia

The Rev. Dr. William Weaver, a Presbyterian minister, has been credibly accused of using oral sex during exorcisms to extract “evil spirits” from men. Actually, the minister who served as pastor at Linden Presbyterian Church for nearly 40 years and also held several public roles, including chaplain for a county police department, was using oral sex as a 'healing method' to get rid of evil spirits from troubled men.

Weaver, 69, was scheduled to face his three accusers during an internal church trial… He was accused by the church of “multiple acts of idolatry and sexual misconduct.”

The church charges have no bearing on the secular government’s civil and criminal courts. No public charges have been filed against Weaver. The men said they did report the sexual encounters to authorities, but the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said they could not confirm nor deny information regarding this matter.

As The Daily Mail reports, the men say he would have them undress, lie flat on their backs naked and balance stones and coins on their bodies, telling them not to move while he performed oral sex on them.

The trial was scheduled after the men alerted the Elizabeth Presbytery, which oversees 41 Presbyterian churches in Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Union counties.

One of accusers, William Weist, says he went to Weaver for counsel after watching his girlfriend's son drown in a boating accident. He was in his 30s at the time. Their sessions grew increasingly sexual every time, he said; until Weaver convinced him there was an evil spirit inside him.

Weist Wrote: 

I felt uneasy, but I took his word that this was necessary. It wasn’t long before he had me remove my shoes, place gemstones on my ankles and take my shirt off as well. This time was different as the only way to get it fully out was for him to draw it out with his mouth. I was so afraid and scared. When it was over, he showed me what looked to be a tiny metal ball and said that was what he got out of me.  

Interesting thing about this case is that the men were all of age when they say the alleged encounters happened and because they consented to them, there are no grounds for criminal action. The only punishment may be expulsion from the Presbyterian ministry.

As My Central Jersey reports, the Presbytery determined, through an investigating committee “that there are probable grounds or cause to believe that an offense was committed by the accused,” according to the official church charges. If Weaver was found at the religious trial to have violated church rules, the most punishment he would have faced would have been expulsion from the Presbyterian ministry. 

About Atheist Republic ➽ Follow Atheist Republic on Twitter @AtheistRepublic

Presbyterian Minister Accused Of Using Oral Sex During Exorcisms

A Morning Thought @ 386

The following is a two part personal opinion piece by Irish Socialist Republican, Seán Doyle, on the roll of electoralism in revolutionary struggle. The first piece was written on polling day 2019, while the second was written following the declaration of the election results.

Part 1- 24/05/2019.

I’m not going to mention the escalating depravity or the deteriorating human standards that continue to prevail with no end or solution in sight which forms the basis of part one.

Today is polling day an appropriate time to focus minds on its irrevelance.

Asking the questions without fear of not knowing all the answers and discounting fear of failure.

Recognising respectfully the efforts of those passed, who applied in their time with the knowledge available. This is in no way a criticism but it is a necessary appraisal.

With hindsight we are in a position to make our own evaluation and change course as long as our revolutionary objectives are not compromised.

"We Don't Own The Dead And The Don't Own Us" - Seamus Costello

Let’s continue our journey towards our destiny and reclaim our 32 county republic.

My firm belief electoralism, polls and spin is completely irrelevant and a distraction.

There is no stepping stone from reform to revolution, two utterly incompatible positions.

The former is predicated on dependency. The latter is independence.

While I recognise there are well meaning individuals amongst the elected, unfortunately other than than grandstanding on issues it only gives false hope to people. They are powerless but sadly people think if we only had more of them. Unfortunately the whole exercise is only perpetuating false hope which is part of the grand plan aided and abetted by a compliant media.

I too must admit I shared a belief that we could further our objectives at council level, but I now believe that was a mistake with hindsight. It only gives credibility in the mindset of our people that equality,justice and equal distribution of wealth is obtainable by the 26 county committee in Leinster House.

The thinking previously before modern technology was based on having our rep in the chamber and people in the public gallery to witness first hand who was highlighting their needs the theory was to expose and undermine confidence in the system in the council or Leinster House.

This has been tried and is an abysmal failure and has had the opposite effect,a complete emphasis on electoralism and dependency.

But is not to dismiss the intentions of some well meaning people who believed it was the way forward. We have the benefit of time passed.

We must build alternative structures in our communities, citizens rights etc,break the mould of subservient thinking and values of the ruling class subconsciously indoctrinated in us.

We must endeavour to develop our own principles and fight for our rights by our own rules and standards. This is not a sport queensberry rules or cricket for the elite as was their utterings in our modest first step in changing our strategy in our struggle.

Bring It To Their Doors Campaign.

This is open class war.

Part 2- 30/05/2019.

I’m not going to mention the escalating depravity or the deteriorating human standards that continue to prevail with no end or solution in sight.

Now that the charade election is over do you think anything is better? For example will the next man or woman inevitably to die on our streets or the homeless children be saved a misery?

Will the burden of future evictions and mortgage debt reduce the number of bodies taken from our rivers or whatever method a distraught people may use?

Unfortunately not. The election result in the most part says go back doing business as usual.

If there was a more vigorous boycott campaign and reduced the national poll from 50/52 % to 30%, I’m being extremely generous, it would have been a more respectful outcome to the thousands that have had to endure.

The degree of detachment must be addressed. Their loyalty is not to serve us, which is obvious, but the ruling 1%.

Metaphorically speaking we have for years now hit the wall. The question we must ask ourselves is why we haven’t overcome this situation, a complete mental block, a fear of the unknown and untried.

Daunted to the extent of the challenge facing us we have tried to convince ourselves that there is merit in the electoral system which is bad enough, but worse still, we have given false hope to people.

We don’t have much time.

People are suffering and dying on our streets and not even reported in the news.

Our failings to address this will be responsible for the next generation by and large because of the lack of a home for children and basic stability necessary for normal development of values, empathy and formulation of character will cause larger numbers of dysfunctionality in our communities.

Unfortunately for others they will assume because of what we have allowed through our lack of courage daunted by fear of new ways to stop this cycle of greed driven depravity.

Unfortunately unless corrected our legacy will be responsible for the normalisation of the aforementioned.

Let’s face it and be done with electoralism to Leinster House or county councils. It is well overdue and establish revolutionary councils in our communities with our own bill of rights based on our 1919 republic.

Many might think it’s daunting and near impossible. I say it is time to reaffirm and change our struggle and claim our 32 County Socialist Republic.

Surely those who sacrificed their lives taking on the British empire were not swayed in thinking what they might achieve against such a military force.

Their battle was more for the minds of our own people asserting our right as a free nation and to all its wealth and resources.

What is ours by right must never be determined or diminished by our ability to reclaim it from the robber class.

We must break the mindset of subservience through our revolutionary councils, change the way of thinking and define new ways of collective action to assert our right for the day to day requirements necessary to sustain our people while building confidence, unity, restoring dignity and crucially self belief.

Crucially in our councils developing positive thinking with regard to what is ours by right even if it is withheld from us by thieves, sets the battle scene in focus for a future date.

My definition of a revolutionary is a political soldier, all deeds no matter how great or small that advance that objective is his or her obligation.

That is what has been missing and must be corrected. We have come full circle from subjects of a foreign monarchy to ever so briefly citizens of our own republic that was suppressed, crushed and murdered by the alliance of the British and their creation The Free State to become subjects again to the bankers and speculators.

It is time to throw off the shackles and reclaim our Republic once again.

⏩  Keep up with Socialist Republican Media

The Courage Of Appraisal

From the loyalist blog It's Still Only Thursday the first interview for the Ordinary Voices project. Respondent was Ian, a community worker and member of the Progressive Unionist Party from South Belfast. The interview was conducted via email, as all the interviews in the Ordinary Voices project are. 

Question 1: do you believe that legacy issues are undermining the peace process?

I believe that the legacy issues are undermining the peace process. I feel there is a tendency not to pursue those whose arrests could possibly destabilise the peace process. We need to respect people who lost their lives or were injured and their families by finding a key which allows us all to move on. Fundamental to that is an open, honest political system. The HIU however are under a huge amount of pressure given the amount of cases to be investigated in such a short space of time. I believe our ability to deliver for victims has been undermined by decisions made earlier in the peace process.

Question 2: Is there, in your opinion, a bias when it comes to legacy issues?

I am led to believe the legacy issue proposals ignore cross-border dimensions on many of the past crimes. There is no equal information process on the Irish side, which means no evidence available or even commitment to co-operate. Personally, I see a one-sided process that focuses less on those who murdered and more on those who tried to prevent violence; partly because the demand for investigations comes largely from one side of the community. Additionally with OTR letters issued I think its a fair assessment that legacy issues are bias. I fear the word ‘Justice’ is becoming politically weaponised.

Question 3: Do you think that Loyalism has done enough to challenge the negative stereotypes cultivated by others?

Decades of conflict have fuelled images and stereo types to the extent that the terms ‘Loyalist’ and ‘PUL’ have become a dirty words in some peoples opinions. I am a proud Unionist and I have hopes for a peaceful prosperous Northern Ireland, but I believe that the negative and disrespectful attitudes towards Loyalism and our culture is cultivating tension within our communities. I am extremely keen on challenging the Republican narrative as necessary and recommend others are conscious of this also.

Question 4: What do you think could be done to foster real reconciliation, especially in interface areas?

The biggest problem I see in South Belfast at the moment is the new developments popping up which sometimes, unwittingly, create new interface areas. We are in desperate need of social housing across South Belfast, there are many applications in for new private developments, however when they cant be sold for a massive profit they are sold on and re-classified as social housing schemes which turn to interfaces. In many Unionist areas there are limited educational choices at post-primary level, 2 secondary schools across South Belfast, which means parents have to bus their children out to attend schools, reconciliation is a long way off when we can’t sort out fair education in deprived Unionist areas.

Question 5: Do you believe that there is an inherent ambiguity in the Belfast Agreement?

People initially supported the Belfast Agreement but I have become disillusioned with how the agreement is being implemented, I think it is clear that the interpretations of it on both side are completely out of touch with each other.

Question 6: Finally, what are your personal hopes and aspirations for NI in the medium to long term?

I would like to see a return to Stormont soon but not at the cost of an Irish Language Act, my view is feel free to speak Irish, take Irish lessons in your own time but enforcing an Act which sees a compulsory percentage of Irish speakers be employed in workplaces etc is unfair. I hope for another peaceful summer and hope that Northern Ireland can continue to stand strong in these uncertain times of Brexit.

Many thanks to Ian for agreeing to an interview and participating in the Ordinary Voices project.

⏩ Keep Up With It's Still Only Thursday. ➽ Follow It's Still Only Thursday on Twitter @0nIyThursday

Ordinary Voices ⬌ Interview 1

A Morning Thought @ 385

From Spiked Online Tim Dawson on the return of the book burners.

The Twittermob’s fury with un-woke novels has sinister echoes of the past.

The Book Community has jumped the shark. Who are the ‘Book Community’? Well, they’re the nebulous group of super-woke flakes who bullied young-adult (YA) fantasy author Amelie Wen Zhao into pulling the publication of her debut novel, Blood Heir. While it wasn’t slated for release until June, some review copies had been sent out. Apparently the book has already shaken some readers – and some people who obviously haven’t read it – to the core. Zhao’s depiction of slavery in one scene has been deemed problematic. Reverse racism, lack of genderqueer representation, and a central antagonist with a limp are some of the other criticisms levelled against it, and Twitter is fuming. Zhao has issued an apology and agreed with her publishers to cancel publication.

The novel is probably terrible. I’m not particularly into sword and sorcery stuff – though the fact that it has upset so many flakes has naturally piqued my interest. But you don’t need to like, or even read, a book to defend its right to be published. Of course, Amelie Wen Zhao halted publication herself. You could argue that she has ‘listened to feedback’ and acted accordingly. But the line between listening to feedback and being bullied by very angry zealots is a thin one, and this incident seems to have crossed it. Zhao relies on these people for her income and is scared. That’s understandable. And really, really bad.

Our cultural landscape is increasingly controlled by the permanently outraged. Books – even trashy fantasy novels – are a key component of civilisation. They are tangible, material repositories of humanity, in all its forms. Burning books is the sign of a society going wildly wrong. Banning books, also. Scaring authors into pulling the publication of their books surely sits in the same egregious territory.

Continue Reading @ Spiked Online.

The Return Of Book-Burning

Christopher Owens teaks readers back into the music scene in his Friday slot.

32 years on, 'Grave New World' still divides opinion.

Is it a complete repudiation of everything Discharge had stood for in the past? Is it a record ahead of it's time? Is it an experiment that just didn't work?

Let's establish some context first.

The early 80's in the UK saw the development of two potent, dynamic punk scenes. There was not only anarcho punk, but the second wave of punk. Retrospectively known as UK82 (named after the song by The Exploited), it took its influences from the first wave of punk, but boiled down the ingredients to speed, intensity and bleakness.

Three bands came to symbolise the scene: Discharge (easily the most influential), The Exploited (easily the most commercially successful) and GBH (easily the most consistent).

The big three, if you like.

By 1986, although the big three were still going and still attracting crowds, UK punk was at a crossroads. The initial wave of UK82 bands had, by and large, either split up or were going through the motions. The anarcho scene had largely burnt itself out, with their utopian dream being destroyed by the success of the Thatcher government over the miners. The hardcore scene, with the likes of Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror, was certainly making waves but would not become a major proposition for another year.

With the rise of thrash, which initially confused punks (Adie Bailey from Ultraviolent/English Dogs once quipped that, upon hearing the 'No Life 'till Leather' demo, he was uncertain if Metallica were a punk band with metal guitar players, or metalheads whose first love was punk), it was clear that there was a bigger, bolder scene out there. And, if played correctly, there was room for more than just metal bands. So, the big three of UK82 crossed over into metal.

There is, however, a danger with "crossing over." You fumble the ball, and you end up playing to no one. Luckily, GBH and The Exploited did no such thing.

Discharge, however...

Arguably, the first band from this ilk to "go metal" was the Cockney Rejects. Although associated as an Oi act, tracks like 'Headbanger' and their cover of 'Motorhead' showed a band who could rock out with the best of them. Unfortunately, their attempt at turning into UFO (1981's 'The Power and The Glory') was poorly received. Although they carried on this direction throughout the decade (even going a little AC/DC and Bon Jovi), they never regained their initial popularity until they went back to their roots in the late 90's.

The next two major bands to "go metal" would have been Broken Bones and English Dogs. Although Broken Bones (made up of Tezz and Bones from Discharge who had left due to disagreements on direction) would always retain a punk following, English Dogs found that"...the fans of (crust punks) Disorder... looked down their noses with their sneering. A lot of those guys did actually form Metal influenced bands so I can’t understand what problem they had with us in the first place."

In England, at the time, metal was still seen as a reactionary form of music about shagging three "chicks" at one. Motorhead escaped a bashing, however, because their sound was still dirty, loud and fast. But the battleground was set. You were either one or the other.

The first sign that the Discharge sound was undergoing chance was the release of the 'Warning' 12.' Guitarist Peter "Pooch" Pyrtle (replacing legendary riffmaster Bones) was clearly more openly in thrall to metal than punk. Also of note is Cal's vocals. No longer barking or shouting, he's clearly singing. Listen to him sing the line "propaganda and lies" in 'Warning.' This is the sound of a man stretching his voice for the first time, maybe trying to develop some vocal traits.

For long time fans, it must have been strange taking this sound in at first. But, with classics like 'In Defence of Our Future' and 'Where There is a Will...', it's an essential release.

Later singles would see the elements of metal guitars and vocals come more and more to the front. Single release 'The Price of Silence' would see Cal develop an almost Ozzy Osbourne style vocal, while 'The More I See' (later covered by Metallica) introduces a higher pitch to the vocals.

With Pooch departing (to form the abysmal HellsBelles), Les "The Mole" Hunt was brought in. His only single with the band 'Ignorance/No Compromise', is a very, very different beast from what had come before. Less reliant on barre chords, we now got guitar lines and elaborate solos.

And all of this predated 'Grave New World',

The title track begins proceedings and, if you were unfamiliar with how the band had evolved, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd put on the wrong record. The drum fills and hi hats sounds more like an LA metal band than grizzled Stoke on Trent punks. Then the lead work comes and we get a moderately cool riff that gets the head nodding. Very different, but also in line with the changes that had come beforehand.

And then Cal steps in.

The most divisive vocal performance ever. Once described as a bad mix of Ozzy and Robert Plant, I'm actually going to say that I actually enjoy it. Taken in context with the previous singles, it's definitely an evolution in his voice and one that actually suits the direction of the music. Of course, in terms of technique, he's no King Diamond or Rob Halford, but listen to his delivery of the line "This is a grave/grave new world." It's filled with disgust and (dare I say it) camp. Wonder if Axl Rose picked up any tips?

If you can get past the vocals, you'll find this song the sort of rocker that has an element of Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) in the riffing, especially the second half with the descending three note riff. Something that set them apart from most of the LA hair brigade but, ironically, brought them a little closer to bands like Corrosion of Conformity, crossing over themselves from US hardcore punk into thrashier terrain..

'In Love Believe' continues with the Iommi obsession with a riff sounding like a rewrite of 'Sweet Leaf.' Although it could do with a shorter running time, it's notable for Cal's impassioned lyrics about we need to "extend the kind arm of infinity/all over the human sphere...", which comes across as almost a hippy style refrain, a new direction for the man who took delight in singing "we've been shit on far too long."

'D.Y.T. / A.Y.F.' has an almost Iron Maiden style gallop in the chorus while sounding vaguely like a song that emerged from a jam on the title track. While Rainy gets a moment to shine with his busy bass playing, and new guitarist Steve 'Fish' Brooks delivers a neat solo, Cal's lyrics relegate this one to "shoulda been a b-side" material.

However, he rectifies that with 'We Dare Speak (A Moment Only)', with a tale of Big Brother stamping over freedom of speech. It has some great imagery ('...dragged him screaming from his bed...behind closed doors') and actually has a bit of groove to it as well. Again, could be a minute or so shorter, but a good track nonetheless.

Closing with the fifteen minute (that's right) 'The Downward Spiral', we now head into Dio era Sabbath territory (tell me with a straight face that the opening doesn't sound like 'Heaven and Hell') and we hear a tale of a user descending into heroin addiction: " you get sucked in/without ever really realising/just what's happening/and that is when/the downward spiral begins."

Musically, it slowly metamorphosizes into more Iron Maidenesque galloping and guitar soloing, which gives way to a tasteful acoustic guitar around the eight minute mark, sounding like it was influenced by 'Fade to Black.' Once this is over, it goes back into the 'Heaven and Hell' era riffing for the next five or so minutes. Actually a genuinely exciting track, helped immensely by Cal's almost stream of consciousness lyrics.

As you can probably guess, the reaction to 'Grave New World' was not a positive one, either from critics or fans. Being the first studio LP after 1982's legendary 'Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing' (THE greatest punk/hardcore album ever made) was an unenviable position to be in already. So the fact that the music was NOTHING like what had been on that LP was not a plus point with fans.

As well as the music, the look of the band came in for grief (one local wag once remarked, upon seeing the press shot, that the Cult had let themselves go. He was shocked to see it was Discharge). And while this look has largely been the main stick with which the record is beaten with. While it has been retrospectively termed "glam", and it's easy to see why to someone in 2019, it's not. Bands like Amebix had long, back combed hair, the English Dogs wore denim and leather on stage. So it's best to describe the look as something that seemed a good idea at the time, and was very much of the time.

Bassist Rainy (who had been with the band since the first release) left around this time, later commenting that the album hadn't turned out the way he had originally envisaged it, which was an attempt at something bluesy (as the band had become disillusioned with the UK punk scene).

With new bassist Nick Bushell, they went out on tour with the new material. Reactions were, to say the least, mixed. Cliff Dinsmore from Bl'ast recounts "We played with them on that tour in San Diego...and all of a sudden the crowd started pelting them with shit - cans, bottles, you name it – anything they could throw they were throwing... was kind of appalling for them to come out the way they did, all glammed up, and the drummer was wearing these weird shiny Kiss boots."

There's an audio recording from a show in San Francisco, where the crowd audibly turn on the band as soon as Cal starts singing. Soon, chants of "Fuck You" can be heard, perfectly in sync with the beat. Footage from a Canadian show can also be found online.

However, people like Rich Walker (Sore Throat/Solstice) have long defended this period, noting that he "...saw them on that tour, they were killer... Didn't get bottled off...people walked out, half of us stayed and enjoyed it."

So, to go back to my opening question: Is it a complete repudiation of everything Discharge had stood for in the past? Is it a record ahead of it's time? Is it an experiment that just didn't work?

My answer is the third statement.

'Grave New World' is a classic case of ambition over ability. Don't get me wrong, the playing on it is grand, but a few of the songs go on far longer than they should (almost an attempt to prove virtuosity on the chosen instruments), Cal's voice is certainly a tough sell for most and his insights into addiction and hope for humanity (while working with the music) do not begin to match the likes of 'Is This to Be' (from the classic 1981 12' 'Why.')

And, arguably, it was influential in the punk/hardcore world, as many would use it as a barometer of where not to go to (fairly or unfairly) musically speaking. Like the 'Hellspawn' compilation (where "extreme metal meets extreme techno", apparently), 'Grave New World' is a relic from a different period. But one that still has it's moments where it flat out rocks. Stick it on and decide for yourself.

⏩  Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland.

From The Vaults ⬌ Discharge 'Grave New World

A Morning Thought @ 384

From the Belfast Telegraph: The purposeless disbeliever idea, lacking anything to ascribe ultimate meaning to the universe, does not bear scrutiny, researchers said.

The idea that non-believers in God lack morality has been disputed by new research, experts said.

A common supposition – that of the purposeless disbeliever, lacking anything to ascribe ultimate meaning to the universe – does not bear scrutiny, a university study said.

Most endorse objective moral values and human dignity at similar rates to the general populations in their countries, the report presented at the Vatican said.

One of the authors, University of Kent sociologist Dr Lois Lee, said:

These findings show once and for all that the public image of the atheist is a simplification at best, and a gross caricature at worst.
Instead of relying on assumptions about what it means to be an atheist, we can now work with a real understanding of the many different world views that the atheist population includes.
The implications for public and social policy are substantial — and this study also stands to impact on more everyday interactions in religiously diverse societies.

Non-Believers Do Not Lack Morality, Research Suggests

Lark Lo looks at Peace Education in the context of improving the work we live in. 

"The ultimate goal of peace education is the formation of responsible, committed, and caring citizens who have integrated the values into everyday life and acquired the skills to advocate for them," -  Berty Reardon.

The idea of peace education is that we construct from the youngest in our society, citizens that can negotiate conflict, communicate, and cooperate.

Anti-bias work is a continuous process it will be something that you must always do, because bias is a tool of oppression. Bias enforces the classist and racist structure within our socioeconomic system. Then, Bias is combined with Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” to hold your face and turns it away from justice.

But once you are aware of these biases, after you have had conversations on racism, gender, & nationalism, and have begun to chip away at them, are you prepared?

Are you prepared to sprint around the track of liberty. Will it be a dash among equals or will you still be leaping hurdles?

Are you teaching your children to be prepared?

What are we teaching about cooperation & love? How seriously do you take play?

Are we teaching our children to be distrusting, to view their fellow students as deceitful rivals and adversaries?

For working class children and the most economically oppressed, to be taught to view your neighbors and family in a suspicious manner is a true disservice, oppression feeds on suspicion and mistrust. Marginalized people who do not trust each other, lose the power of community, and this is often their greatest advocate & sustainer.

The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh taught me patience. Not patience with others, but patience with myself, the patience to learn, and the patience to be open.

Marie Montessori provided me a map with her essays, "Educate for Peace" which highlights Montessori’s lifelong dedication to peace and equity internationally.

The founder of the social justice oriented Reggio Emilia, Loris Malaguzzi, believed to create a society that is rooted in justice a society must start with justice for its youngest members.

As we move towards a society where (de)information can easily be obtained via the tap of a few keys our interactions with our fellow humans are important and it is even more important to teach children the reasons why cooperation and communication are important.

How do we communicate? This is something that we’re losing. Cooperation and conflict resolution is one of the most important tools that groups have, even groups of 4-year-olds.

We aren’t going to achieve liberty by exclusion of others using in-group signals and retreating to the life-stylism. Act from your ideas and beliefs, don’t react to hate. Avoiding reactionary responses is difficult, I understand that.

We need to practice for when we are free, because our work has to be about the truth that This getting better Is possible, because Another World is Possible.

Lark Lo produces and owns Black Kids in Outer Space 

Follow Lark Lo on Twitter @willstartsmall

Revisiting PEACE Education

A Morning Thought @ 383

Padraic Mac Coitir shares his thoughts on the late Billy McKee who died this morning. 

Earlier this morning I got a phone call telling me Billy McKee had died. As a young lad growing up I had heard of Billy and many other 40s men and women and he must be one of the last of that rare breed of committed republicans from that era.

The black and white photo is of Billy and others on the back of a lorry trying to rescue Fian Gerard McAuley who was shot dead on 14th August 1969. 

The unionist gangs attacked Bombay Street and surrounding streets but unfortunately the IRA wasn't as well armed as they should have been. The leadership of the IRA who were mainly based in BÁC refused to send weapons up even though local volunteers knew there was a lot of tension in that part, and other parts of Béal Feirste.

Although I only vaguely remember the event Billy gained a massive reputation as one of a handful of IRA volunteers going over to the Short Strand to defend the local community when they were under attack from unionist gangs supported by the RUC. Billy was seriously wounded but he and the others repelled the mobs even though they had fewer weapons. When a friend and I visited Billy in Our Lady's Home in Beechmount recently he spoke about those heady days.

When Billy ended up in Crumlin Road gaol-again- in 1971 he and other IRA prisoners embarked on a hunger strike demanding political status. I remember going to protests for them and when I became more aware of politics I heard one of the demands of the IRA during the ceasefire was for prisoners to be granted political status. They did get it but the ceasefire broke down in Leana an Dúin weeks later.

I first met Billy about 2002 when I was introduced to him by Willie John McCorry: they were old friends and comrades. They would speak about their time in prison in the 40s and although times were hard they would laugh about some of the characters they knew from those days.

I would see Billy a lot over the years and he would always encourage me and others to 'keep the flame lit'. Despite his age he was very much tuned into the politics of the day and like many of us was dismayed at the direction others were going in. I'd never claim to know Billy very well so there will be others who will tell of how he felt.

The last time I saw him was a few weeks ago at the funeral of his good friend John Regan. Francie McGuigan called me over telling me Billy was in his car. His eyesight was fading but when Francie told him it was me he took my hand and asked how I was. I told him I was doing well but how was he. He just smiled so I said slán and although it was obvious he wasn't well I just thought to myself that he had packed a lot into his 98 years. Billy was very well thought of by many Irish republicans here and abroad. He will be sadly missed.

Padraic Mac Coitir is a former republican prisoner and current political activist.

Billy McKee