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When the Scots look at Northern Ireland I wonder how many realise that Kintyre was used as a laboratory for the displacement of the native Celtic population by their Lowland cousins. The Ulster Plantation was mirrored by the plantation of Kintyre after its MacDonald overlords were kicked out by the Edinburgh government. A lot of the best farms in Kintyre are owned by the descendants of Ayrshire farmers brought in by the Campbells. The names Ralston and Armour come to mind immediately. To this day, the farmers have a lot of clout in the Campbeltown area. I recall one of my predecessors as editor of the Campbeltown Courier believed crossing them had cost her her job. And I always suspected that an anonymous complaint that I’d showed up to cover a night-time meeting inappropriately attired had come from one of the farmers’ organisations. It was shame that I left the job before their next meeting or they would have found out my attitude to anonymous complaints. Another pointer to the Kintyre Plantation is the anglicisation of Gaelic family names.  There are a lot of names in the Campbeltown area which suggest they were anglicised a generation or two before those in the rest of the Highlands and Islands. I certainly had never encountered so many MacVicars, McSporrans,  McIlcheres, or MacKinvens before I moved to Campbeltown. 

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One of the problems with the media, and it has always been so, is that it has a very short attention span. It is very much “flavour of the month” stuff. The World’s justified contempt for the always odious Aung San Suui Kyi over the treatment of the Rohingya stayed in the headlines and on the pages of the newspapers for longer than most stories. But now she is being let off the hook as the media finds new supposedly more interesting and relevant issues to feature. There are still occasional mentions of the plight of the displaced Rohinyga pounded by monsoon rains in often desperate conditions in the refugee camps of neighbouring Bangladesh. But the pressure is basically off Aung Sang and her military thug partners as they run Myanmar as their own personal business fiefdom. This is no-news is great news for western businesses because the subject of sanctions, the only thing short of military action that might persuade Aung Sang and her nasty cronies to lay off the Rohingya, has been quietly dropped from the agenda.  Don’t let this happen. I was delighted to see Canada's Museum of Human Rights, in Winnipeg, has removed Aung's photo from its hall of fame. Rather than follow the museum's lead all at once, it would be great if similar bodies across the planet could over the period of several months one by one do the same thing and thus generate headline after headline in the World media. 

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I was listening to an interview with a woman who was trying to arrange of all the church bells in Britain to be rung to mark the centenary of the end of World War One. Suddenly, the interviewer, Dan Damon, asked if bells had been rung in the United States to mark the Armistice in 1918. The woman didn’t say it but the tone of her voice suggested that she hadn’t a clue and didn’t really care. Mr Damon explained that the BBC World Service has a lot of listeners in the United States. So?? Does every item on the BBC World Service have to mention the United States from now on? Mr Damon’s approach is both patronising and muddle-headed. Not all Americans are obsessed with their own country to the exclusion of all others. And the Americans who listen to the BBC do so to get away from the self-obsessed American media which believes if no Americans are involved in a given event then it might as well not have happened. I live in Canada at the moment and we get a lot of American news, way more than we deserve. It’s cheaper for Canadian broadcasters to take feeds from the US television news than cover actual events in Canada. I’ll tell you how bad it can get. Back in 2013 a runaway train carrying oil exploded in the middle of a town in Quebec killing 47 people. The event rated barely a mention on the evening news I watched that day. But we did get seven minutes or so about two people being killed at an airport in the United States. By the way, Mr Damon was part of the BBC’s Team Clueless which covered the Scottish Independence referendum. The Barr-ass!! 

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The Ministry of Defence’s decision to compensate British service personnel for having to pay Scottish income tax to support Holyrood is a pretty cheap political shot. Many of soldiers, sailors, and RAF personnel will be getting about £12 rebate a year. Considering the cost of administering the rebates, it hardly seems worth it. And the personnel stationed in Scotland will continue to get free prescriptions, free school meals and a better funded education for their kids, etc. The real winners are the highly paid officers who will be getting up to £1,500 pounds in rebates. My guess is that the rebates will go towards paying their kids private school fees. Thus helping to maintain the fine tradition of ex-public school boys dominating the officer corps of the British Army. There are plenty of jobs that mean that people are forced to work in areas in which they pay higher council  rates for public services than did in their home town and yet as far as I know, apart from London-weighting, the London government does nothing for them. What’s so special about the military and Scotland? If you ask me, it’s all a political stunt. The London government’s suggestion that unless the rebates are paid there will be no-one willing to come to Scotland to keep in the nuclear submarines in the Clyde operational is an insult to the technicians of Royal Navy. 

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Here in North America coming to work early and leaving late is much admired. The people who do that kind of thing are often promoted. I used to come in early for my shift too, but that was because I wanted to do the morning calls in my own way and that included chatting to people about matters that were not strictly business, and I used to leave late, but that was because there was no point leaving on time and spending an hour in a rush-hour traffic jam; why not just leave an hour later and drive straight home? I understand that in Germany, people who come in early and leave late are not marked for promotion. The Germans seem to take the sensible attitude that if someone can’t do their job in the time allocated, then something is wrong. And that “something” is more likely to be the employee than the employer. So, German bosses are decidedly unimpressed by what North Americans see as eager beavers. And let’s not get into people who never take holidays. It’s not unusual to find that’s because they don’t want anyone else doing their job and finding out either how incompetent they are or how much fraud they are committing.

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