Unionism + more things

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Northern Ireland Unionism

The Twilight of Unionism by Geoffrey Bell: what’s next for Northern Ireland | The Sunday Times – a united Ireland poses as many questions as it does answers which this article doesn’t to a good job answering. It also neglects to mention a minority of the catholic community who are quite comfortable where they are under the Good Friday agreement.

  • What happens to the unionist community identity with it being so bound up to being part of the UK and their otherness to the local Irish population?
  • Would Northern Ireland Unionism see the UK as having spurned them and what would the blowback be? The honest answer would be which branches of unionism?
Ulster Unionist mural, Shankhill

The various strands of unionism

Unionism means different things to different people. Below are three very broad brush stroke portraits of unionist groupings.

  • The staunch religious unionists who may be regular attendees at the likes of the Free Presbyterian church who believe that their rights are divine and would view papists in the same category as satanists and pedophiles. Even worse are people with secular beliefs in things like gay marriage or abortion on demand.
  • The working class unionists who might not be regular church attendees but hatred is tradition, the Troubles were only one generation away and in a time of globalisation, any advantage is needed. In many respects the more active members of this community look and sound similar to right wing populist supporters on the mainland and elsewhere. With low education attainment, a united Ireland would have a limited upside. In previous generations these were the people that Carson fired up and volunteered to die by the thousand in the First World War.
  • The middle class unionist. In the past they may have voted for the Ulster Unionist Party which was a house for a wide range of unionist views from the moderate Terence O’Neill to more hardline candidates. More likely to be in the professions, a medium sized business owner, farmer and university educated. Economic considerations are more likely to have a bearing on any voting decisions.

Unionism was begat from a displaced people

The curious aspect about unionism is the origins. The people who founded the Ulster plantations, were disconnected from their King who had moved to London to rule over the whole of Great Britain. They were given land to make them feel like they were still cared about.

Later generations that were brought in were themselves displaced from land holdings in Scotland previously by landlords The eviction of tenants went against dùthchas, the principle that clan members had an inalienable right to rent land in the clan territory. Since the Middle Ages the clan has been the principle social organisation / construct. The plantations led to the founding of many of Ulster’s towns and created a lasting Ulster Protestant community in the province with ties to Britain. It also resulted in many of the native Irish nobility losing their land and led to centuries of ethnic and sectarian animosity, which at times spilled into conflict.

The problem now for unionists is that a majority of mainlanders feel ambivalent at best towards their Ulster kinsmen and the desire for union with them is one-sided.


NEW SPEECH: MI5 Director General Ken McCallum on threats and risks from Chinese authorities 

Toronto businessman allegedly focus of Chinese interference probes: sources | Globalnews.caThe Canadian Security Intelligence Service has investigated Wei Chengyi for his alleged role in a covert scheme that facilitated large-fund transfers meant to advance Beijing’s interests in Canada’s 2019 federal election, sources said. According to RCMP sources, national security investigators are also probing Wei for possible links to several properties in Toronto and Vancouver allegedly used as so-called Chinese government “police stations,” which are believed to secretly host agents from China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS.)

Europe is too dependent on China for technologies, Finland’s PM says | Reuters 

China’s President Xi Jinping Signals Pivot in Whirlwind Week of Diplomacy – Bloomberg 


Wealth is partly imaginary – by Noah Smith – Noahpinion 

Russia’s Road to Economic Ruin | Foreign AffairsAt the beginning of the war, in February and early March, Russians rushed to buy dollars and euros to protect themselves against a potential plunge in the ruble. Over the next eight months, with Russian losses in Ukraine mounting, they bought even more. Normally, this would have caused a significant devaluation of the ruble because when people buy foreign currency, the ruble plunges. Because of sanctions, however, companies that imported goods before the war stopped purchasing currency to finance these imports.  As a result, imports fell by 40 percent in the spring. One consequence was that the ruble strengthened against the dollar. In short, it was not that sanctions did not work. On the contrary, their short-term effect on imports was unexpectedly strong. Such a fall in imports was not expected. If Russia’s central bank had anticipated such a massive fall, it would not have introduced severe restrictions on dollar deposits in March to prevent a collapse in the value of the ruble. Economic sanctions did, of course, have other immediate effects. Curbing Russia’s access to microelectronics, chips, and semiconductors made production of cars and aircraft almost impossible. From March to August, Russian car manufacturing fell by an astonishing 90 percent, and the drop in aircraft production was similar. The same holds true for the production of weapons, which is understandably a top priority for the government. Expectations that new trade routes through China, Turkey, and other countries that are not part of the sanctions regime would compensate for the loss of Western imports have been proved wrong. The abnormally strong ruble is a signal that backdoor import channels are not working. If imports were flowing into Russia through hidden channels, importers would have been buying dollars, sending the ruble down. – One of the more interesting pieces of analysis on sanctions

How China Will Achieve Hegemony by Carl Bildt – Project Syndicate – Mr Bildt is too polite to mention it but it looks rather like the mercantilism of the 19th and early 20th century European empires


What Should Jittery China Investors Do? by Dambisa Moyo – Project Syndicate – less of a roadmap, more an atlas to the not great options available


Mercedes Slashes China EV Prices By Up to $33,000 as Sales Lag – Bloomberg – local brands dominating marketplace and handing Mercedes its ass on a plate. A secondary effect of this will be a smaller desire by German large corporates to continue being quislings


So Many People Are Using a Diabetes Drug for Weight Loss That Actual Diabetics Are Having Trouble Getting It – disclosure Novo Nordisk weight management brands Saxenda and Wegovy were a client

Hong Kong

Covid Curbs Hit Hong Kong Property Market, Agents Resort to Desperate Ads – Bloomberg 


The Center for Strategic TranslationStarting in the summer of 2023 the Center will host a series of seminars to teach young journalists, graduate students, and government analysts the tools of “Pekinology.” Led by a carefully selected set of senior scholars and retired government personnel, these seminars instruct students in the open-source analysis of Communist Party policy, introduce them to the distinctive lexicon and history of Party speak, and train them how to draw credible conclusions from conflicting or propagandistic documentary sources


China tops U.S. to take research crown at global chip conference – Nikkei Asia 

Porsche backs Xanadu with $100m for fault-tolerant quantum computer | EE Times 


Japan seeks wealthier western tourists to address China deficit | Financial Times 


Watchfinder and Nordstrom Are Now Selling Watches in Select Stores – Robb Report – interesting that Watchfinder has extended into department store concessions

London Shops Struggle As Tourists Go To Paris & Milan for Luxury Goods – Robb Report 


OnlyFans to offer shopping features as it competes for influencers | Financial Times 

Biden’s Data-Transfer Order May Soon Unlock EU-US Pact – Bloomberg