Facebook vs regulation: we exist nowhere and everywhere, all at once

Where is Facebook located? Well, if you're the taxman, Facebook's global HQ is a tiny shed somewhere in Ireland, where Facebook can escape virtually all taxation; but on the other hand, if you're the EU, Facebook is headquartered in America, where the General Data Protection Regulation doesn't apply. Read the rest

Mystery of The Giant's Causeway in Ireland has been unlocked

Time for a bit of folklore.

Benandonner was a giant from Scotland. He was something of a tool and constantly threatened to lay a beating on Ireland.

Fionn mac Cumhaill was a giant too. He resided in Ireland. Fionn wasn't down with Benandonner's wanting to put a hurt on his homeplace. In fact, Fionn was so bent out of shape about it that he decided to rip up chunks of County Atrim and throw them into the sea in order to build a causeway to Scotland. The causeway would make it possible for Fionn to travel and beat Benandonner's ass.

With the Giant's Causeway built, Fionn stomped off to Scotland to get down with his island's adversary. He didn't stay long though: Upon reaching Scottish soil, Fionn discovered that Benandonner was frigging huge – like, giant, even for a giant. Afraid of having his ass handed to him, Fionn hightailed it back to Ireland. When the larger giant heard that Fionn had come to Scotland to fight him, but turned coward at the last moment, he set out for Ireland across the causeway to lay a curb stomping on poor Fionn.

Seeing that her husband was in trouble, again, Fionn's wife, Oonagh, bundled her husband up in swaddling clothes, disguising him as a baby. Benandonner came upon Oonagh and saw the enormous baby. He freaked out: if Fionn's child is that big, even as a toddler, Fionn himself must be HUGE. Benandonner crossed the causeway once more, back to Scotland and safety. Read the rest

Concert: Kíla - Live at Vicar Street

I got my first Kíla album in the mid-1990s while I was going to university in Halifax, Canada. It was a big deal.

Lemme give you some background: my folks declared bankruptcy the week that I shipped off to school. The financial help I assumed would be there for me, wasn't. I watched, near penniless, as my fellows drank themselves into oblivion and got to know one another. I couldn't afford to participate. I couldn't afford the books from the extensive reading list I'd been given. The only thing that I had going for me was that I'd used my student loan to pay for a meal plan as part of my first semester's tuition. I quickly found the work I needed to get by, teaching music, doing audio/visual duty for the classes I was attending, rattling locks as a security guard and playing in a bar band to make ends meet. I was exhausted much of the time.

There wasn't a lot of room in my life for joy back then.

Around the middle of the school year, I received a letter from my mother. It explained that the she'd come by a coupon, good for $25 at HMV--a Canadian and British music store franchise. The thought of buying new music--new anything, really--at the time, didn't have a place in my head, given how hard it was to come by books or cover my day-to-day expenses. I've never listened to a lot of popular music. My tastes lean towards OG punk and Irish/Scots traditional music. Read the rest

Ireland lost a musical giant this week

Irish music lost one of its legends this week, with the passing of Liam O'Flynn.

A player of the Uilleann pipes, O'Flynn, or as he was known by the Gaeilge iteration of his name, Liam Óg Ó Floinn, was born in 1945 to a family of musicians. In his youth, his piping earned him prizes at county and national levels, but it wasn't until he was in his thirties that he really hit his stride. As one of the founding members of Irish trad super group Planxty, O'Flynn helped to breathe new life to traditional Irish music by showing that it could be every bit as exciting and full of life as rock and roll. Without Planxty, there may not have been a Dexy's Midnight Runners; No Waterboys, Pogues, or Dropkick Murphys. We'd all be poorer for it. Plantxy's music left me with the impression, as a kid, that the tunes I played on the instruments I grew up with were cool. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. O'Flynn at a musical festival I was covering for a magazine back in the 1990s. He was pleasant and seemed genuinely pleased to make my acquaintance. The encounter left me feeling giddy for days afterwards.

One of my favorite songs by Planxty, Raggle Taggle Gypsy, has a tune lashed on to the end of it called Tabhair dom do laimh, which roughly translates as Give Me Your Hand. O'Flynn's rendition of the tune has been one of my happy places for decades. Read the rest

Young girl serenades cattle with her concertina

This is really sweet. A young Irish girl, Grace Lehane of Cork, played "Britches full of Stitches" on her concertina by the side of a green pasture full of cattle. Watch in this video that her dad Denis uploaded in 2017 as the animals come running over to hear the "moosic." The beaming smile on Grace's face is precious!

(The Kid Should See This) Read the rest

Angry fairies blamed for road damage

An Irish MP is blaming fairies after a mysterious dip in a road surface recurred after repairs.

Danny Healy-Rae claimed the issues with the N22 were caused by "numerous fairy forts in the area" in an interview with the Irish Times.

He said "there was something in these places you shouldn't touch" and that the road passed by a place that was full of fairy magic and folklore.

Here's one of the forts, for reference:

Read the rest

Irish police open blasphemy investigation into Stephen Fry for calling God an "utter maniac"

Living treasure and outspoken atheist Stephen Fry has a classic bit from a two-year-old episode of RTE's "The Meaning of Life" in which he answers the question, "What would you say to God if you died and found yourself at the gates of heaven?" Read the rest

Bake brown soda bread in a cast iron skillet

If you have breakfast while traveling in Ireland you are bound to come across brown soda bread. Soda bread is super easy to make and a fantastic comfort food. Read the rest

Irish women call for a nationwide strike if they don't get a referendum on the country's brutal abortion ban

Ireland's abortion laws are among the most barbaric in the world -- among its many deficits, it forces women to carry unviable fetuses to term, making them labor to deliver babies who live short hours in extreme pain before dying before them. Read the rest

Tim Cook confirms: tech met with Trump to ask for billions in tax breaks

A leaked memo from Apple CEO Tim Cook to his staff explaining why he met with Donald Trump -- a guy who called Apple traitors for refusing to defeat their own security -- explains the rationale: "tax reform." Read the rest

Apple's tax-dodging offshore billions are sunk into Treasury Bills that pay out using Americans' taxes

Apple -- which is one of the multinational poster children for tax dodging, along with Google, Amazon, Ikea and others -- has billions of dollars "offshore" and in theory they can't bring that money into the USA without paying tax on it; but thanks to some fancy accounting, much of that money is sunk into US Treasury Bills (floated by the government Apple is starving through tax evasion), and the US taxpayers pay Apple, about $600M so far. Read the rest

Trump called climate change a Chinese hoax but he wants a massive seawall around his resort

Trump is a climate denier and he's packing his administration with climate deniers; as Peter Watts pointed out, Trump "seems to think that the laws of politics and of physics somehow carry equal weight, that he can negotiate with the heat capacity of the world’s oceans ('Okay, we’ll cut our bitumen production by 15%, but then you have to increase your joules/kelvin by at least 5…')." Read the rest

Ireland (finally) jails three bankers for role in 2008 crisis

The three senior bankers who were sentenced on Friday are among the first to go to jail for illegal actions that contributed to the global economic crisis of 2008, which triggered waves of global instability, which contributed to the ongoing refugee crises and wars, mass unemployment, crippling austerity, the near-collapse of the Eurozone, Brexit, and soaring inequality. Read the rest

Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls Apple's tax strategy a "fraud"

2001 Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz has a long history of being on the right side of history. For example: pricing the Iraq war at $3T; raising the alarm about sovereign wealth funds acquiring US debt; nailing the double-standard on bailouts for debt crises (and the way that this destabilizes poor countries); sounding the alarm about austerity in times of recesssion; coming out early and strong over wealth concentration; calling for the imprisonment of the top executives at Barclays bank; and damning the TPP as "the worst trade deal ever." Read the rest

MEP tours the farcical viewing conditions for the TTIP text

On Monday, Greenpeace leaked the highly confidential negotiating drafts of the TTIP, a top-secret, big-business-friendly trade agreement between the USA and the EU. Read the rest

Shamrock shake: Pfizer's Irish "unpatriotic loophole" ducks US taxes

Pfizer's used a tax-dodge called a "reverse-inversion" to sell itself to a much smaller, Irish pharma company, moving its corporate nationality to Ireland at the stroke of a pen. Read the rest

Ireland legalizes same-sex marriage

Eire we go, at last! The BBC reports that the Republic of Ireland will now permit same-sex couples to wed.

It is not yet known when and where the first same-sex wedding will be held.

But the first people to be affected are same-sex couples who have already wed legally abroad. Their marriages are now automatically recognised by the state.

They include Orla Howard and her wife Dr Grainne Courtney, who were married in the United States in May 2013.

The new rules follow a referendum in May in which Irish voters overwhelmingly supported the change.

Ireland was late to the gay rights party, only decriminalizing homosexual acts in 1993. But now it is the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.

This leaves Northern Ireland as the last holdout in the Atlantic Archipelagos1; though about 70% of locals support same-sex marriage, conservative protestants in government have apparently used procedural measures to prevent the law being voted upon.

1. Various wee UK tax shelters have yet to permit same-sex weddings, but all have signaled their legislative commitment to marriage equality. Read the rest

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