Digest – March 21 2010

You know how we do it on Sunday nights…


Constantin Gurdgiev destroys myth that foreign banks entering the Irish market forced the Irish banks to go confetti with loan deals;

Business loans collapsed, personal loans (the stuff that allegedly, according to the likes of the Irish Times have fuelled our cars and clothing shopping binge during the Celtic Tiger years) actually declined in importance as well. Financial intermediation – the higher margin, higher risk thingy that so severely impacted the US banks – was down as well. No, competition was not driving Irish banks into the hands of higher margin lending. It was driving them into the hands of our property developers. We didn’t have a derivatives and speculative financial investment crisis here – the one that was allegedly caused by the foreign banks coming in and forcing our good boys to cut margins on run-of-the-mill ordinary lending. No, we had an old fashioned disaster of construction and property lending.

Splintered Sunrise has the best piece on Joe Ratzinger’s letter.

I didn’t think I’d live to see the day when Tipperary would be reunified.

Ronan Lyons does what he does best. In-depth analysis figuring out where the housing market is at, and whether now is a time to buy or rent.

Good post by Harry McGee on the reporting of the forthcoming (is that fact or consensus opinion?) reshuffle.

This big news in the science world, I think. Hard to fathom it, but fun to try.


British military ‘intelligence’ ran a torture unit in Iraq under direct control of London, The Independent reports.

[Click link for context] “They were an independent unit and reported directly to their chain of command in London”. Hooding was “accepted practice” and would continue, he was told. “They reiterated the point they were an independent unit and did not come under the command of the GOC1 (UK) Armed Div (the Iraq command),” he said. Asked by the inquiry last week whether there was “some sort of feeling generally in the Army the intelligence people were slightly on their own and running their own show”, Col Vernon replied: “I think you could say that.”

MPs for hire. Comment piece here.

What happens when people stop working 9-5? Good stuff, it seems.

“The ties that bind America and Israel are beginning to fray and break”, by Chris McGreal at the Guardian’s Comment is Free. That has been happening for the last number of years, it has come to a head recently when it became clear US was going to allow Iran to go nuclear, which put the Israelis on edge.

The US is now developing a defensive ring of missile bases in the area on the assumption that Iran will only be able to construct a small number of nuclear weapons. It appears the US thinking on the matter is “Iran shoots, we shoot it down before it reaches us”. But if Israel, not the US, is the first target, then… hence Israel’s recent bull-headedness with the US and the settlements announcement while Biden was in the country. Israel isn’t happy and Nethanyahu is showing it, in a rather ham-fisted and foolish manner. It’s all chess. That McGreal piece is a good snapshot of the current board.

Flowing Data has cool statistical analysis of the 1870 US census.

Yglesias on the case for health care reform, and why Newt Gingrich is wrong (again).

Marc Lynch of Foreign Policy writes about what he read in what was supposedly a copy of Al-Qaeda’s Iraq counter-insurgency manual.

The Interpreter on Burma’s disgraceful new election laws.

Here’s hoping this report about the White House reaching a deal with Stupak is correct. We’ll know by the time most of you have read this post. In other news, Tebaggers are completely and utterly insane. See video below.


Hah. I’ve lots of stacks around the gaff. See below.

Looking for a good documentary film to watch? Watch the one below, it’s brilliant.