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Billy King


Nonviolence News


Billy King

March 2013

[Return to related issue of Nonviolence News]

White smoke
Pope Benedict’s resignation, the first of a reigning pontiff in 600 years, has again focused attention on where the Catholic Church is going in the world, and speculation on the chances of a non-European Pope. However here we thought we would pick up on a comment by Peter Emerson of the de Borda Institute on how the Pope is elected. It is an extremely important decision and you would think that they would want the best possible system which would most likely lead to the best man for the job. And the following quote also goes to show that there are all sorts of amazing precedents in our past if we just look.

Regarding the election of the Pope, “In 1179, they introduced weighted majority voting, but that still meant the agenda was open to manipulation. So in 1435, Cardinal Nicholas Cusanus proposed a preferential vote: every cardinal is a candidate; each cardinal chooses his top ten in order of preference; and the candidate with the highest average preference is the winner. Perfect, “and believe me,” said the same Nicholas of Cusa, “no more perfect system can be found”.

The Borda count is difficult to predict, the outcome difficult to control; in other words, the procedure is very democratic. Alas, his suggestion was rejected, and still they use binary votes – yes or no, for or against – the most inaccurate measure of collective opinion ever invented.”

If you want to know more about options in consensus voting, visit

Short memories
So, three recent polls show Fianna Fáil either the leading political party in the Re:Public or up neck and neck with Fine Gael. It’s GUBU it is. The question remains as to how much better Fine Gael would have dealt with the economy in the years before The Fall but the fact is it was Fianna Fáil who were the lead party in government, who encouraged the bubble, portrayed it as increasing wealth, and whose leader, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, made violently (sic) dismissive comments about anyone who doubted the stability of the system. And when things went belly up they then hung a noose (bank debt) around the neck of Irish taxpayers which will stay there for a generation or more (a situation copper fastened by the current government).

“The people get the governments they deserve”: Discuss. Politics is not a simple process and electorates can be fickle, reacting to short term factors. But Fianna Fáil deserved to be consigned to the dustbin of history after the arrogance and corruption of Charlie Haughey’s leadership. It didn’t happen then. If it doesn’t happen now when they have condemned Irish people to a woeful burden of debt, bailing out the poor European bankers (which is the true picture, not ‘Europe’ bailing out Ireland) then there is really a state of chassis in the country. Fianna Fáil’s support in percent may only be in the mid- to high twenties but that is twenty-something percent too high. The abysmal failings of the current government in many areas is the principal factor that has led to Fianna Fáil rising from the dead. Quick, get out the garlic...

The answer is blowin’ in the wind You might say global warming is a threat, a coming danger, an issue that has to be dealt with. But if you live in a part of the Philippines then your livelihood, possibly even your life or that of your loved ones, may have already been destroyed by it.

The 5th December 2012 ‘super-typhoon’ Bopha hit the southern Philippines, the worst recorded ever to do so: “Bopha, known locally as Pablo, broke records as well as hearts. At its height, it produced wind speeds of 160mph, gusting to 195mph. It was the world's deadliest typhoon in 2012, killing 1,067 people, with 800 left missing. More than 6.2 million people were affected; the cost of the damage may top $1bn. As a category 5 storm (the highest), Bopha was significantly more powerful than hurricane Katrina (category 3), which hit the US in 2005, and last year's heavily publicised hurricane Sandy (category 2).” (See The Guardian

What could stand against 160 mph winds, or gusts of 195 mph? But the instance of devastating typhoons is increasing, and there are clear indicators of the effects of global warming on the Philippines, e.g. temperature increases and steadily rising sea levels.

Is global warming a real threat? The answer, unfortunately, is blowing in the wind, and extremely strongly.

Ten years after It’s a decade since the Iraq war began. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun(damental issues to deal with). However I hope you heard of the poll in Britain which showed that the majority of people there think it was a big mistake.

“A majority of voters, 55%, agree with suggestions that "the London marchers were right", because "a war sold on a false prospectus delivered little but bloodshed". That is almost twice the 28% who believe the marchers were wrong, on the basis that the war's achievement in "toppling the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein" eventually made the world a better place. The approximately two-to-one balance of opinion against the Iraq war broadly applies across both sexes and every age range. Every nation and region of the UK also retains a clear anti-war majority, with the judgment in Wales – 65% in favour; 22% against – the most emphatic.” The majority against the war is also reflected across the political spectrum.

Further details, including about other issues of military intervention where the British populace is more divided (but a slight majority tending towards it not being good) can be seen here

Well, that’s me for now. Winter has not released its grip though the day felt like spring as this Colm ‘went to press’. My seedlings for the garden are gradually arising in our back window. A significant part of the joy of gardening is in contemplating the wonders of the season to come...because if it’s like last year’s growing season the results were pretty pathetic. Hope ‘springs’ eternal. Anyway, until we meet again, I know where and I know when, yours, Billy.

Who is Billy King?
A long, long time ago, in a more innocent age (just talking about myself you understand), there were magazines called 'Dawn' and 'Dawn Train' and I had a back page column in these. Now the Headitor has asked me to come out from under the carpet to write a Cyberspace Column 'something people won't be able to put down' (I hope you're not carrying your monitor around with you).

Watch this. Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman pass by (because there'll almost certainly be very little about horses even if someone with a similar name is found astride them on gable ends around certain parts of Norn Iron).

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