Search launched for kitesurfer missing off Kerry coast

Searches are underway off the coast of Kerry for a kitesurfer who went missing this afternoon.

It’s understood the man went missing at around 3pm this afternoon off the coast of Ballybunion.

The local coast guard at Valentia said that searches are ongoing, with the Irish naval vessel, LE Niamh, Kilrush/Valentia coastguard part of the cross-agency operation.

Shannon-based Rescue 115 has also carried out two sweeps, since the alarm was raised around 5pm.

Conditions in the area are understood to have been choppy.

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He Befriended 4,000 Dogs to Get Their Side of the Story

Dogs in New York City have a miserable life — that’s what Ken Foster kept hearing. How could they not? Many live in tiny apartments. Most do not have backyards to romp around in. They are bored at home all day while their owners toil long hours.

Mr. Foster’s job is to help dogs (and cats, too). He runs a community outreach program in the Bronx for the Animal Care Centers of NYC, a nonprofit that operates the city’s animal shelters. The program provides free vaccinations, training and food to pets whose owners are struggling financially. Mr. Foster, 54, also writes books about dogs.

He has met more than 4,000 dogs in their homes, in their neighborhoods and with the people they love. Lots of them are happy. So Mr. Foster and a photographer, Traer Scott, decided to tell some of the canines’ stories in a new book, “City of Dogs.”

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Q. What did you learn about how dogs live in New York City?

A. People live a variety of amazing, different kinds of lifestyles in the city, and dogs do as well. I think we think of dogs strictly as pets, but we went to J.F.K. Airport, where there are dogs that work and love their jobs. They are mostly looking for agricultural contraband, but they also go through the mail that comes through, like every piece of mail. They go through people’s luggage on the conveyor belts. It’s like a game that they’re playing all day long. We should all enjoy our jobs that much.

What is an example of a dog living the good life?

There’s Oz. He’s a pit bull mix in NoHo. His owner, Noah, is a trainer and has this chain of gyms across the country called Rumble Boxing. Oz often goes to the gym and sits, waiting for classes to be over. He lives in a great apartment with a nice roof deck. He’s got the spoiled life. I like to say, and Noah doesn’t disagree, that he needed to maintain his dog in the lifestyle he deserved.

You even found dogs on Rikers Island. What are they doing there?

The Rikers dogs are spending eight weeks, usually living in a cell with inmates who are charged with caring for them and training them. They come from different shelters. The men who are assigned to them work in teams, so part of it is also about really learning to work with other people and build team skills. It’s a mutually beneficial exchange. A lot of the men have dogs that are waiting for them to come home.

You went to all five boroughs in search of dogs. How are the dogs different by borough?

Manhattan: They are more cosmopolitan because they’re used to being around a lot of activity, a lot of people, a lot of businesses. They walk by everything that’s going on every day because Manhattan is completely built up. There aren’t many quiet corners left.

Bronx: They seem very much like family dogs, and there’s always an extended family. The dogs have cousins. The extended family includes not just your human relatives, but your human relatives’ dogs. So everybody knows everybody. In talking with people, I’ll hear the story not just of their dog, but their sister-in-law’s dog.

Staten Island: They are quieter. They’re a little bit more laid back because they have less chaos around them. They probably have no idea that they live in New York City. It’s very suburban there.

Brooklyn: The dogs that we met were, for the most part, from single-dog homes. Even if they were in a family, it was five people and one dog. And so they seemed to feel a little bit like they were the center of the world. Maybe Brooklyn feels that way about itself, too, these days?

Queens: They are the most diverse. If you look at the pictures that we took in Long Island City of a group of people who meet every morning with their dogs, every dog is completely different. There’s a sheepdog, an Akita, a pit bull, a corgi, a Pekingese, and a Chihuahua. These dogs are all best friends.

What is one of your favorite dog places in the book?

You can go off-leash in Central Park after dark. It seemed like something out of a storybook, and the moon was out and it was reflecting in the water. At first, there weren’t that many other people around, but as we went a little deeper into the park, we started running into more and more people with their dogs. It really was like a secret society because unless you have a dog, you’re probably not going to walk in there.

Did you actually interview the dogs or just their owners?

It was really a little bit of both. Sometimes their owners try to speak for them. But then, if you’re observing, you can see where the dog might disagree. We talked about, where do you want to go? Where do you typically go with your dog? That’s kind of a dog interview, I think, when you walk a neighborhood with a dog and you see where their nose goes.

Your book shows the relationships between dogs and their humans. Is there one that stands out?

Talia is a girl in Queens who is autistic. She has a service dog that’s trained to stay with her. As she is getting older, holding her mother’s hand in public is not a cool thing to do. So now she has this dog to hold on to. I think dogs are anchors in a lot of different ways for all of us. But in this case, it almost seemed like a literal anchor to keep somebody calm and in place.

What can dogs teach us about city life?

No matter how completely different we are, if you have dogs in common it cuts through whatever else you might think would be a barrier. We’re different people, we come from different cultures, we speak different languages sometimes, and yet if there’s a dog in front of us, we can find a way to connect.

I think that’s true no matter what part of the city you’re in. We may not have the same kind of dogs, and we might not interact with them in exactly the same sort of way, but we can all understand each other by observing the bond that we have with our pets.

Winnie Hu is a reporter on the Metro desk, focusing on transportation and infrastructure stories. She has also covered education, politics in City Hall and Albany, and the Bronx and upstate New York since joining the Times in 1999. @WinnHu

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How to Help Those Affected by the California Fires

Three wildfires in California have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed thousands of homes. So far, 25 people have died.

As of Sunday morning, 109,000 acres had been burned by the fire in the northern part of the state, called the Camp Fire. It has turned into the most destructive in the state’s history and one of the most deadly. Another 88,000 acres have been scorched in Southern California by the two fires called the Woolsey and Hill.

Here’s how you can help.

Research before you donate

Remember to do your research on a charity’s reputation for using donations effectively. Charity Navigator is a good source to consult.

Also, remember that sending money is almost always the most efficient way to help in a disaster, according to the Center for International Disaster Information, part of the United States Agency for International Development.

If volunteers on the ground end up with a mountain of donated goods, they’ll have to spend time sorting through them rather than buying exactly what’s needed.

Nonprofits that are seeking donations

California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund: For 15 years, the foundation has offered aid to those affected by wildfires. Grants have gone to rebuilding homes, providing financial and mental health assistance and helping those affected to get medical treatment.

Caring Choices: This nonprofit, which is in Chico, Calif., has turned into a hub for organizing volunteers to help those affected by the Camp Fire. Volunteers are assigned a variety of duties, including caring for displaced animals and, for those who are certified doctors or nurses, offering medical care.

The organization has paused taking on new volunteers for the next few days but still encourages applications. It said it will need extra hands in the coming weeks. Caring Choices is also seeking monetary donations for its operations.

Enloe Medical Center: This 298-bed hospital is in Chico, the site of multiple evacuations centers for the Camp Fire. It is accepting donations for patients and families who have been displaced.

Entertainment Industry Foundation: This nonprofit, started by Hollywood stars, has a fund that helps firefighters and other emergency workers battling California wildfires. One of its beneficiaries is the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation, which provides hydration backpacks and night vision goggles for helicopter pilots. Another beneficiary provides meals for emergency workers and evacuees staying in shelters.

Humane Society of Ventura County: This nonprofit is accepting donations to help animals displaced by the Woolsey and Hill Fires. It is taking in domestic animals, such as dogs, cats and birds, as well as livestock.

North Valley Community Foundation: This nonprofit in Chico is raising money to support organizations that are sheltering evacuees of the Camp Fire. These could include churches, fairgrounds and community centers, said Logan Todd, a foundation spokesman.

Salvation Army: At both ends of the state, the Salvation Army is providing meals to shelters in local churches, fairgrounds and a community college.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles: This local branch of the national organization is raising money for those affected by the Woolsey and Hill Fires, specifically to help low-income residents.

United Way of Northern California: This local chapter of the national nonprofit has established a disaster relief fund to offer emergency cash and help to people who have lost their homes, according to a news release.

Crowdfunding as a way to help

There are multiple crowdfunding efforts for victims of the California fires. GoFundMe has organized a page that catalogs the relief efforts in Northern and Southern California. It includes links to donate to families who have lost their homes.

Google is collecting donations to help those affected by the wildfires in Southern California. It will funnel the donations to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, which will distribute the money to local nonprofits.

Follow Julia Jacobs on Twitter: @juliarebeccaj.

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How an Intelligence Expert Helps Wall Street Mavens Think Smarter

Shane Parrish was a cybersecurity expert at Canada’s top intelligence agency and an occasional blogger when he noticed something curious about his modest readership six years ago: 80 percent of his followers worked on Wall Street.

The blog was meant to be a method of self-improvement, helping Mr. Parrish deal with a job whose pressures had increased with the growing threat of global hacking. But his lonely riffs — on how learning deeply, thinking widely and reading books strategically could improve decision-making skills — had found an eager audience among hedge fund titans and mutual fund executives, many of whom were still licking their wounds after the financial crisis.

“People just found us,” Mr. Parrish said. “We became a thing on Wall Street.”

His website, Farnam Street, urges visitors to “Upgrade Yourself.” In saying as much, Mr. Parrish is promoting strategies of rigorous self-betterment as opposed to classic self-help fare — which appeals to his overachieving audience in elite finance, Silicon Valley and professional sports. His many maxims cite Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bertrand Russell and even Frank Zappa. (“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”)

Today, Mr. Parrish’s community of striving financiers is clamoring for more of him. That means calling on him to present his thoughts and book ideas to employees and clients; attending his regular reading and think weeks in Hawaii, Paris and the Bahamas; and in some cases hiring him to be their personal decision-making coach.

“These guys are driven to get that incremental edge — they are competitive, gladiatorial in that respect,” said Mr. Parrish, 39. “We are trying to get people to ask themselves better questions and reflect. If you can do that, you will be better able to handle the speed and variety of changing environments.”

To do that, Mr. Parrish advises investors like Scott Miller, the founder of Greenhaven Road Capital, to disconnect from the noise and read deeply.

“I will leave my computer and go into a separate room to read,” said Mr. Miller, an early sponsor of Farnam Street who is currently reading “Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones,” by James Clear. “It feels weird to do this in the middle of the day — but I do it.”

Mr. Parrish’s site has drawn the attention of some of the biggest names in finance. Dan Loeb, one of the more prominent hedge fund executives on Wall Street, is a big fan. And Ray Dalio of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, recently did a podcast with him.

“Shane is a special person,” Mr. Loeb said via email.

Few Wall Street obsessions surpass the pursuit of an investment edge. In an earlier era, before computers and the internet, this advantage was largely brain power: Warren Buffett plucking a nugget from an annual report or George Soros making a seismic bet against a currency.

Today, information is just another commodity. And the edge belongs to algorithms, data sets and funds that track indexes and countless other investment themes. This has been devastating for hedge fund and mutual fund managers who make their living trying to outsmart the stock market.

With their business models under attack, they are searching for answers. And Mr. Parrish has a simple solution: reading, reflection and lifelong learning.

“These days, if you are not getting better you are falling behind,” said Mr. Parrish, who is reading “The Laws of Human Nature,” an examination of human behavior that draws on examples of historical figures by Robert Greene. “Reading is a way to consume people’s experiences, to learn something timeless and then apply it to your life.”

Chuck Royce, the founder and former chief executive officer of Royce mutual funds, who oversees $4 billion in investments, said he stumbled on Mr. Parrish’s site and related to it immediately.

Mr. Royce developed a reputation as one of the industry’s most astute fund managers, specializing in small, high-quality companies in the 1970s. But in the recent period of low interest rates, his main mutual fund’s performance has suffered.

“I failed to understand that in this period of zero rates, inferior companies would outperform high-quality companies,” said Mr. Royce, who was part of a group that spent a long weekend talking books and big ideas with Mr. Parrish in Hawaii two years ago.

Mr. Royce has embraced Mr. Parrish’s core principles. He gets up at 5:30 every morning to do his daily reading, which currently includes “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Bets When you Don’t Have All the Cards” by Annie Duke, a former poker champion — and a big favorite among investors these days. At the office, Mr. Royce works from a couch strewn with papers. His Bloomberg terminal is in another room.

“It is all about habits,” Mr. Royce said. “Setting goals is easy — but without good habits you are not getting there.”

Some executives have long sought insight from the printed page — and not just in the business section. Emmanuel Roman, the chief executive officer of the bond giant Pimco — who is reading “On Grand Strategy,” an assessment of the decisions of notable historical leaders by the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer John Lewis Gaddis — called reading “a pure passion.” And Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman of Goldman Sachs, has talked up the benefits of reading books, especially those not related to economics or finance.

Mr. Parrish is an unlikely guru, a computer scientist from Halifax, Nova Scotia, who seems bemused by his sudden cachet. On a recent swing through New York to meet with clients, Mr. Parrish was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts and carried a worn backpack. Slight and balding, he looked more like an unhurried graduate student than a counselor to some of the wealthiest executives on Wall Street.

Mr. Parrish joined the Communications Security Establishment, a division of Canada’s Defence Department, straight out of college. His first day was Aug. 28, 2001, and he was soon promoted in the tumult that followed the Sept. 11 attacks. Suddenly, he was managing a large staff at the age of 24.

Wanting to improve his decision-making skills, Mr. Parrish found inspiration in Charlie Munger — Warren Buffett’s longtime investment partner. Mr. Parrish quickly became an acolyte, drawn to Mr. Munger’s thoughts on multidisciplinary thinking and mental models.

He pored over Berkshire Hathaway annual reports and became a regular attendee of Mr. Buffett’s yearly meetings in Omaha. The name of his site is another tribute to the billionaire investor: Berkshire Hathaway’s address in Omaha is 3555 Farnam Street.

Last year, Mr. Parrish left intelligence work to tend to the site full time. He wouldn’t disclose how much his various projects were making. Farnam Street now consists of book lists, essays, podcasts and a vibrant social network — all of which are anchored by Mr. Parrish’s self-improvement musings. There are also branded goodies to be had, such as a decision-making journal and a Farnam Street thinking cap.

Some 190,000 people have signed up to Brain Food, his free weekly newsletter. Mr. Parrish’s more dedicated followers pay $250 a year to become part of his “knowledge community” — a premium site with a private discussion forum and additional content. They have flocked to his social network, trading book ideas and meet-up suggestions in Toronto, Dubai and London.

James Aitken, an independent investment adviser in London who counsels some of the world’s largest investors, was among the readers that came upon Mr. Parrish in 2012. Since then, Mr. Aitken has revamped his work habits, pushing himself to disconnect from all his screens and read books — ideally for at least two hours a day.

“He is so indispensable to me that, beyond becoming a part of his network, I will occasionally write him a check at the end of the year,” Mr. Aitken said.

Mr. Aitken now pushes his clients to increase the time they spend reading and thinking away from their screens. Twice a year he sends out a list of books — including history, biography, finance and economics, self-help, and more — from which clients can choose a number of books as gifts. He has sent out about 2,300 over the past 10 years.

“Every world-class investor is questioning right now how they can improve,” he said. “So, in a machine-driven age where everything is driven by speed, perhaps the edge is judgment, time and perspective.”

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Mystery of missing girl comes back to haunt Vatican

This is the Holy See’s very own ‘cold case’, the one that refuses to go away. The discovery of bone fragments in the Vatican nunciature to Italy in Rome 10 days ago has prompted renewed speculation about the disappearance 35 years ago of 15-year-old Vatican citizen Emanuela Orlandi.

This is one of those never-ending, seemingly inexplicable Italian mysteries which, like the Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap, seems to run and run ad infinitum. But this is no theatrical entertainment. Rather, it concerns the disappearance of a girl who on a June day in 1983 left her family home in Vatican City to go to her flute lesson and never came back.

Emanuela’s disappearance, by turns and in different ways, has involved the Holy See, Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis, the Vatican Bank, the 1982 collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, the Roman criminal underworld, the Stasi, the East German secret police, and even Turkish gunman Ali Agca, the man who attempted to assassinate John Paul II in St Peter’s Square in 1981. And those are only just a few of the people and organisations which feature in this puzzling story.

To go back to the beginning – on the afternoon of June 22, 1983, Emanuela, daughter of a Vatican functionary, left the family apartment in Vatican City to go to her flute lesson in a music school in Piazza di Sant’Apollinare, central Rome.

According to a number of witnesses, on her way to the lesson Emanuela was stopped by a man who offered her money to do some PR work for a cosmetics company during a forthcoming fashion show in Rome.

Immediately after her lesson, Emanuela rang home, telling her sister Natalina about the strange work offer and asking her what she should do. Her sister told her to agree to nothing but rather to wait until she got home and could talk to their parents about the alleged job offer. That was the last time that any member of the Orlandi family ever spoke to Emanuela. She has never been seen or heard since.

Emanuela remains one of the great ‘misteri’ (unresolved mysteries) of modern Italian history, to rank alongside the 1978 Red Brigade killing of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro, or the 1980 Bologna train station bombing in which 85 people died, or the 1980 Ustica plane explosion in which “a stray missile” killed 81 people. Nor does the list end there.

The most recent return of this particular cold case was prompted by the news that the Holy See had reported to Italian authorities the discovery of bone fragments during renovation work at its Rome embassy to the Italian state. (As a sovereign state, the Vatican maintains an embassy in ‘foreign’, ie Italian territory).

No sooner had this news hit the airwaves and already there was speculation that the bones found under the embassy flooring might be those of Emanuela. When it then emerged that further bone fragments had been discovered, suggesting that more than one person had been buried in the embassy, the media promptly speculated that the other bones might belong to Mirella Gregori, another Roman teenager who has been missing since May 1983.

At first glance, this looks like a classic case of trigger-happy conspiracy theorists finding two and two and adding them up to make 22. As I write, the bones in question are being forensically examined but, as yet, there is no indication as to who was buried in the Vatican Embassy. Investigators, hoping to extract some DNA samples from the bone fragments, may be able to arrive at a positive identification over the next week but that is by no means certain.

Whatever way this one shakes down, it is not exactly comfortable news for the Holy See. If the bones were to be those of Emanuela, it would provoke the father and mother of a scandal, confirming the claims that the Vatican knows and has long known more about her disappearance than it cares to admit.

If, as frankly seems more probable at this stage, the bones are the remains of someone else, then another set of questions ask themselves. Who was buried there? When? And why, particularly if the bones turn out to date from recent times?

The fact that the Holy See is not insensitive to this issue was underlined last Friday by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Speaking on the margins of a Vatican press conference on an unrelated matter, Cardinal Parolin told reporters: “It wasn’t the Holy See which made the connection to Emanuela Orlandi. I don’t know who has linked this matter to the Orlandi case…”

Cardinal Parolin added that it was a matter of simple transparency that the Vatican immediately informed Italian police, asking for their expert help, saying the Vatican “has always done everything it can to discover the truth”.

Given that Emanuela’s father worked in the Vatican, there has always been a line of speculation which argues that she was kidnapped, abducted and presumably killed by figures in Rome’s criminal underworld, probably the infamous Banda della Magliana, in an action that was in some way linked to the Vatican Bank.

The Banda della Magliana, allegedly linked both to neo-fascist right-wing activists and Italian secret services, is believed to have lost money lodged in the Vatican Bank, the IOR.

The Vatican Bank had seemed like a safe place to lodge money – but that was without reckoning on the machinations of ‘God’s Banker’, Roberto Calvi, and of IOR’s governor, a certain US cardinal called Paul Marcinkus, the guy who used to say: “You can’t run the church on Hail Marys.”

The IOR was the main shareholder in Banco Ambrosiano and when it went down in a $1.3bn collapse in 1982, the IOR also lost money, including the ill-gotten gains of the ‘Magliana’ (perhaps the equivalent of €10m).

The conspiracy theory then suggests that in order to scare Cardinal Marcinkus and force the IOR to repay the monies ‘owed’, the banda kidnapped Emanuela. Next time, it will be you, Cardinal Marcinkus. That the Banda della Magliana was in some way linked to the Vatican seems to have been proved by the remarkable discovery in 2012 that one of its murdered godfathers, Enrico De Pedis, was found to have been buried in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare, in central Rome.

This is just one of the many conspiracy theories which have whirled and dervished around the Orlandi affair for the last 35 years. From the moment that her family put up missing posters all around Rome in the weeks after her disappearance, the case has prompted a bewildering variety of claims and counter-claims.

In the weeks after Emanuela’s disappearance, the Orlandi family received a number of phone calls in response to the posters which had given the family’s phone numbers. In particular, there were calls from different sources linking the schoolgirl’s kidnap to Mehmet Ali Agca – then in an Italian prison following his 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. The suggestion was that the Grey Wolves, the Turkish organisation of which Agca was a member, was involved in the kidnapping.

Even if Agca in 2010 confirmed this version to Pietro Orlandi, Emanuela’s brother, even telling him that she was still alive, the credibility of those claims was completely undermined when an ex-Stasi, agent, Gunter Bohnsack, said the Stasi had entirely invented the “Turkish connection” merely to distract attention from the involvement of Eastern Bloc secret services in Agca’s attempted killing of John Paul II. In short, the plot not so much thickens as becomes utterly opaque.

Pietro Orlandi remains convinced that the Vatican knows more about this tragic case than it has so far revealed. In the last week, he has said that “he who is silent, is an accomplice”, in a reference to both the church and to Pope Francis.

One final thought concerns the reflections of Andrea Purgatori, an investigative TV journalist who as a young reporter covered the Orlandi disappearance. He has said that his sources back in 1983 suggested that the kidnapping had gone wrong and that Emanuela had been killed almost immediately.

Which would suggest that the hoax phone calls, the proposed exchange of ‘prisoners’, the Grey Wolves speculation, the speculation that Emanuela had been drugged by criminals working for a paedophile ring and much, much else besides was merely the work of people, criminals and others, trying to exploit a particularly lurid bandwagon.

At this stage, we can come to only one conclusion. Emanuela may be alive or dead, we cannot know for certain. The story of her disappearance, however, has clearly not ended. In Italy, stories like this never seem to go away.

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Eilis O'Hanlon: 'The poppy is a haunting symbol of Irish history too'

There’s something incongruous in the fact that we’re still only at the beginning of the conversation about how to commemorate World War I, whilst in the UK there are serious discussions about whether the 100th anniversary of its ending today is a natural point from which to start winding down the annual commemorations.

Nor is it only the usual suspects on the pacifist left who are questioning the validity of the marking of Remembrance Day. Writing about the subject, former editor of the London Times, Simon Jenkins, provocatively argued in recent days that Britain should “get over it” and that next year should be a Forgetting Day instead.

There’s little in his argument that could be gainsaid. Collective commemoration does inevitably lose some of its meaning over time, becoming ritualistic, institutionalised, and states do exploit these national events to peddle fake history.

The obsession with finding contemporary parallels with the horrors of the 20th Century is also unhealthy. Look at how frequently lazy commentators try to scaremonger about the success of so-called “national populists” such as US President Donald Trump by making not-so-subtle comparisons to the rise of fascism. They did it again last week just because Trump had a run-in with a reporter. It’s tiresome, predictable, and it trivialises the reality of the events which they’re exploiting for sensation.

If everyone was banned from using “fascist” as a slogan to fling at opponents, the quality of public debate would be hugely improved.

It’s still probably too early to ditch November 11 as a symbolic point in the calendar, at least not until all the veterans of the world wars are dead, and possibly their children and grandchildren too. Societies have always remembered dead soldiers. A country needs, too, a national day on which to celebrate its sense of self, its archetype of national identity. Britain doesn’t have a national day in the same way as other countries. Remembrance Sunday has become a substitute instead. As such, it’s far less problematic than similar days.

France has celebrated Bastille Day with a military parade in Paris since the 1880s; Russia still celebrates Defenders of the Fatherland Day, first marked in 1919. Both are characterised by a hawkishness alien to Remembrance Sunday. Nor is anyone arguing that Ireland should stop marking Easter 1916.

Thinking too much about the two world wars has certainly bolstered a sense of superiority in the Brits, but why wouldn’t it? They haven’t always been on the right side of history; often quite the opposite. Even World War I is not straightforward, being more a catastrophic clash of empires than a just or legitimate war. But between 1939 and 1945, Britain was on the right side, and, goodness, will they not let anyone forget it.

Ireland has the opposite problem. Rather than talking about it too much, we hardly talk about that period at all, which has reinforced an idea that there might be something shameful in admitting that thousands of Irishmen, and women, died 100 years ago in a war which was not supposed to be our concern, and then in World War II, in a conflict from which the country officially stayed out.

Whatever one thinks of the past politics of empire, it’s desperately sad that so many tens of thousands of Irish men have been forgotten. You can’t go to the battlefields of northern France without being conscious of the Irish contribution. There is a corner of a foreign field that is forever Ulster, Connacht, Leinster, Munster. To say they should not be commemorated because of distaste for the militaristic vanities of the day is the modern equivalent of the silence which was imposed on veterans when they came home from the Western Front.

How has remembering the estimated 200,000 Irish men and women who fought in World War I, a quarter of whom never came home, been allowed to become so contentious? Partly it’s because of the unfinished Irish Question, of course, and the fact that November 11 doesn’t just remember those who died in the world wars but in more recent conflicts – including Northern Ireland.

So toxic has that legacy become that republicans blew up a Remembrance Day parade as recently as 1987, murdering 11 people. That could only have been done through a prism of ignorance about what the day meant to those marking it.

British arrogance doesn’t help, it’s true. It can be off-putting to witness each year the distasteful bullying which goes on as broadcasters and guests on TV shows are strong-armed into wearing a poppy, and even footballers, such as Irish international James McClean, are made to feel that they must justify their reasons for not wanting to do so. When the link between celebration and commemoration has become blurred, it’s not unreasonable to harbour doubts about the uses to which the symbolism of the poppy has been put. Wearing a poppy only means something if it’s a free choice.

That’s why the question posed by last week’s Claire Byrne Live was rather unfortunate. RTE asked respondents whether Irish politicians “should” wear a poppy to mark Remembrance Sunday, to which 42pc said no and 38pc said yes. The word “should” is entirely inappropriate, and makes a measured discussion of the issue impossible.

But it goes deeper than that. It’s about who has the right to be considered “truly” Irish. That has been a contested space since independence. Even now, like theologians arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, some Irish nationalists try to draw pettifogging distinctions between Armistice Day (deemed more acceptable) and Remembrance Day (still considered too “British”). It would be easier to remember those who died in British Army uniforms if they’d been conscripts, who had no choice in the matter – but they were volunteers. Driven by economic necessity in many cases, but volunteers all the same.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the increasing liberalisation of Irish society, though, it should be that there’s no one way to be Irish.

That has to include people who fought for the British army back then, and some of whom do it to this day. They’re no less Irish for it.

Folk memory may say they died for “king and country”, and, since this isn’t our monarch or country any more, what should it have to do with us? But very few people who wear poppies even in the UK now think of the dead soldiers in that cliched way. The language of “king and country” is dead and gone. They’re more likely to think of them as ordinary people caught up in terrible events over which they had no control, and who tried to do what they considered their duty. Few of the soldiers in the first war even had the vote. They were poor, voiceless.

Poppies are just one aspect, and not even the most important part, of that history. That they become the focal point of controversy in Ireland each year is simply us searching for a language to talk about it. The shamrock poppy, as worn by the Taoiseach for the past couple of years, is a way of opening up that space in an inclusive way. Most people understand and sympathise with what he’s doing.

Maybe this year’s 100th anniversary of the armistice in 1918 should be the point at which that commemoration, far from being consigned to the rubbish heap of history, is opened up to include more people. That includes those on the losing side too. Germans suffered appallingly in the two world wars, and they’re still not allowed to really talk about it because, unfairly, they psychologically carry a collective shame.

Joe Duffy’s work cataloguing the lives of children lost in the Easter Rising, and retelling their stories, shows that it’s possible to find an inclusive way of remembering past events whilst acknowledging that terrible things were done to innocent people on both sides of the conflict. German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will lay a wreath in London today during the Armistice ceremony.

If Germans can take part in dignified acts of remembrance, there’s little reason for the Irish not to do so, especially when we were actually in a union with Britain at the time. That history belongs to us too.

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Saskatoon police investigating after 23-year-old man shot in arm

A 23-year-old Saskatoon man is in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after being shot on Saturday.

Saskatoon police received a call just before 6:30 p.m. from witnesses who said they heard a gunshot in an alley on the 1600 block of 20th Street West.

Shortly after, the victim walked into St. Paul’s Hospital with a gunshot wound to his arm.

Police continue to investigate but do not feel the shooting was random.

They say the victim is not co-operating with police.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Saskatoon Police Service at 306-975-8300 or Saskatoon Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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Opinion | The Closing of Rural Hospitals

To the Editor:

“A Hospital Die-Off Hits Rural America Hard” (The Upshot, Oct. 30) encapsulated the continuing crisis. But one entity has been given unfettered power to keep these hospitals on the brink of closing. The private insurance market forces hospitals to jump through hoops to receive even 30 percent of the cost for services provided, and these hospitals are in no position to object.

Further, efforts to make up for such losses by innovating and creating new revenue streams have been met with strong pushback, including refusal to contract with facilities. These closings benefit those who seek to confine health care delivery to population centers.

Rural hospitals pay dividends enjoyed well beyond their communities. There is little doubt that if private insurance providers are not held accountable for their actions, we will witness the continued extinction of America’s rural communities.

Michael P. Murtha
Tallahassee, Fla.
The writer is president of the National Alliance of Rural Hospitals.

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Saudi Arabia to ship less oil in Dec as it floats cut talks possibility

ABU DHABI (REUTERS) – Saudi Arabia plans to reduce oil supply to world markets by 0.5 million barrels per day in December, its energy minister said on Sunday (Nov 11), as the Opec power faces uncertain prospects in its attempts to persuade other producers to agree a coordinated output cut.

Khalid al-Falih told reporters that Saudi Aramco’s customer crude oil nominations would fall by 500,000 bpd in December versus November due to seasonal lower demand. The cut represents a reduction in global oil supply of about 0.5 per cent.

Saudi Arabia has increased output by just about 1 million bpd this year under pressure from US President Donald Trump and other consuming countries to help balance the market to compensate for lower supplies from Iran due to US sanctions.

But since Iran’s customers were given generous waivers to continue buying crude, concerns grew about market oversupply and oil prices fell to below US$70 (S$97) per barrel on Friday from US$85 a barrel in October.

“We have been increasing production in response to demand,”Falih told reporters in Abu Dhabi ahead of a joint Opec, non-Opec market monitoring committee meeting.

“I’ll tell you a piece of news which is (that) December nominations are 500,000 barrels less than November. So we are seeing a tapering off part of it is year end, part of it is maintenance…. so we will be shipping less in December than we are in November.”

Saudi Arabia is discussing a proposal that could see Opec and non-Opec oil producers cut output by up to 1 million bpd, two sources told Reuters earlier on Sunday, as the world’s top oil exporter grapples with a drop in crude prices.

The sources said any such deal would depend on factors including the level of Iranian exports after the United States imposed sanctions on Tehran but granted Iran’s top oil buyers waivers to continue buying oil.

Russian participation was key to helping Opec rebalance the market during 2017-18. But Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Sunday he wasn’t certain the market would be oversupplied next year.

He said the oversupply for the next few months would be seasonally driven while by mid 2019 the market could be balanced again and demand could even exceed supply.


Riyadh was surprised by the waivers granted by Washington to Iran’s main customers such as China and India, a move which hit oil prices, at least three industry and Opec sources told Reuters.

Now Saudi Arabia wants to act to prevent a further slide in prices and is leading discussions on cutting oil output next year, the sources said.

Under a deal set to expire at the end of the year, Opec and non-Opec producers agreed to curb output by around 1.8 million bpd.

But producers ended up cutting more and so agreed in June to limit their reductions by more than their output targets, meaning restoring about 1 million bpd in output.

Opec and its allies will meet in Vienna on Dec 6 and 7 to decide on output policy for 2019.

“There is a general discussion about this (cut). But the question is how much is needed to be reduced by the market,” one of the sources said in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

“No one expected the waivers. Saudi Arabia wants to at least put a floor under oil prices. No one wants a free fall in prices,” the source added.

Kazakh deputy energy minister Magzum Mirzagaliyev told reporters in Abu Dhabi that he understood Saudi Arabia was suggesting using August-October output levels as a baseline for determining cuts.

Falih did not rule out the possibility of a cut next year, but also said he would like to “move into 2019 with minimum interventions.”

“I think ideally we don’t like to cut. Ideally we like to keep the market … liberally supplied and comfortable. We will only cut if we see a persistent glut emerging and quite frankly we are seeing some signs of this coming out of the US, we have not seen the signs globally,” he told reporters.

Brent crude on Friday fell 47 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at US$70.18 a barrel. It lost about 3.6 percent on the week and has shed more than 15 percent this quarter.

Washington gave 180-day waivers to eight Iranian oil buyers – China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey. This group takes as much as three-quarters of Iran’s seaborne oil exports, trade data shows.

The US administration has vowed to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero and Trump has put pressure on Saudi Arabia to raise output to cool the market.

Iran’s crude exports could fall to little more than 1 million bpd in November, roughly a third of their mid-2018 peak. But traders and analysts say that figure could rise from December as importers use their waivers.

Falih said last month the kingdom would pump 11 million bpd in November, up from 10.7 million bpd in October. He also said there could be a need for intervention to reduce oil stockpiles after increases in recent months.

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Extreme 'devil winds' may worsen deadly California fires

PARADISE, Calif. (Reuters) – Crews faced hot dry “devil winds” as they battled two giant wildfires raging at opposite ends of California on Sunday, including a blaze in the north that is now one of the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history.

At least 23 people have been killed by the Camp Fire that broke out on Thursday northeast of Sacramento and consumed much of the mountain town of Paradise. More than 100 were reported missing. Hundreds of miles to the south, at least two people died in the Woolsey conflagration threatening the wealthy beach community of Malibu, near Los Angeles.

The Camp Fire burned down more than 6,700 homes and businesses in Paradise, more structures than any other California wildfire on record, and the death toll, which could rise, also makes it one of the deadliest.

Only the Griffith Park Fire in 1933 and Tunnel Fire in 1991 have claimed more lives.

Several of the bodies discovered earlier this week were found in or near burned out cars, police have said. The flames descended on Paradise so fast that many people were forced to abandon their vehicles and run for their lives down the only road through the mountain town.

More than 110 people were reported missing in the fire-scorched area, said a spokeswoman for the Butte County Sheriff’s office, who declined further comment.

As of Sunday, the Camp Fire had blackened more than 109,000 acres (44,000 hectares) at the edge of the Plumas National Forest. Crews had cut containment lines around about 25 percent of the blaze.

Winds of up to 40 miles per hour (64 km per hour) were forecast to blow across the area on Sunday.

Gusts of up to 60 mph and 70 mph (113 kph), the so-called Santa Ana “devil wind,” were expected in the Los Angeles area where crews are fighting the Woolsey Fire.

“This is getting bad,” said meteorologist Marc Chenard, with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “It’s nothing but bad news.”

The air-masses blowing across the western U.S. deserts including Death Valley toward the coast are expected to bring the sustained high winds at least through Tuesday, he said.

The Woolsey Fire doubled in size from Friday night into Sunday threatening thousands of homes after triggering mandatory evacuation orders for a quarter million people in the upscale beach city as well as other communities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The fire has destroyed at least 177 homes and other structures with a full count still underway, and has charred more than 83,000 acres as of late Saturday, officials said.

“Our firefighters have been facing some extreme, tough fire conditions that they said they’ve never seen in their lives,” said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.

Governor Jerry Brown asked U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster to bolster the emergency response and help residents recover.

“We’re putting everything we’ve got into the fight against these fires and this request ensures communities on the front lines get additional federal aid,” Brown’s letter said.

Trump, on a trip to France, said in a Twitter post early Sunday, “With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!”

The Republican president has previously blamed California officials for fires and threatened to withhold funding, saying the state should do more to remove rotten trees and other debris that fuel blazes.

State officials have blamed climate change and said many of the burn areas have been in federally managed lands.

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