27 May 2015

Francis Fixing What John Paul II Broke

Over 30 years ago, Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero was assassinated at the orders of right wing politician Roberto D’Aubuisson.

It is almost certain that this was done with the active agreement of elements within the Reagan administration, and the passive acquiescence of the Holy See in Rome.

John Paul II was determined to extirpate what saw as left wing elements in the Church, and making noise about Romero's murder was inconvenient when viewed through the lens of this agenda, (on edit) and so the silence on the assassination.

Well, Pope Francis just Beatified Archbishop Romero:
The Salvadorean archbishop Óscar Romero was beatified on Saturday, the final step before sainthood, 35 years after he was shot dead at the altar by a rightwing death squad for denouncing the oppression of the poor by the military dictatorship.

Roman Catholics from around the world mixed with former Marxist rebels from El Salvador’s brutal civil war as more than 250,000 people gathered in the capital to celebrate the country priest who confronted a US-backed government.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, sent by Pope Francis, officiated the ceremony that followed decades of debate over whether Romero had rejected Church doctrine by embracing radical, leftwing rebels.  [Actually the record shows that he was no fan of the rebels either, he opposed violence on both sides]

………

Born in 1917 in a mountain town near Honduras, Romero apprenticed as a carpenter as a boy before entering the church, where he rose through the ranks, appearing to be a quiet conservative.

But soon after being appointed archbishop in 1977, he became a staunch critic of the military government after it began killing, kidnapping and arresting priests who had been organising peasants and supporting workers’ rights.

His sermons, often broadcast on radio, riled rightwing extremists. But he ignored multiple death threats, remaining defiant up to his murder while giving mass in the chapel of a San Salvador hospital.

“In the name of this suffering people, whose cries to heaven become more deafening each day, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression,” he said in a speech to government soldiers the day before his death.
This, along with the sainthood for John XXIII, show a clean break for this Pontiff with his reactionary predecessors, though his longest term impact might be on cleaning up more mundane corruption in the finances of the Papal bureaucracy and the Vatican bank.

Time will tell.

Well, Now We Know What You Have to Do to Make an American Interested in Soccer


I love New Yorker cartoons


Note that John Oliver did this a year ago
It appears that the juxtaposition bribery, money laundering, and tax evasion is is enough to pique the interest in soccer of some people in America:
With billions of dollars at stake, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa jockeyed in 2004 for the privilege of hosting soccer’s most prestigious tournament, the World Cup. The outcome hinged on a decision by the executive committee of FIFA, soccer’s governing body, and a single vote could tip the decision.

And at least one vote, prosecutors said Wednesday, was for sale.

Jack Warner, a committee member from Trinidad and Tobago, shopped his ballot to the highest bidder, federal prosecutors said. In early 2004, he flew to Morocco, where a member of that country’s bid committee offered him $1 million. But South Africa had a sweeter deal, offering $10 million to a group that Mr. Warner controlled, prosecutors said. He voted for South Africa. South Africa got the 2010 World Cup. And Mr. Warner got his  $10 million payout, much of which prosecutors said he diverted for his personal use.

For decades, that was how business was done in international soccer, American officials said Wednesday as they announced a sweeping indictment against 14 soccer officials and marketing executives who they said had corrupted the sport through two decades of shadowy dealing and $150 million in bribes. Authorities described international soccer in terms normally reserved for Mafia families or drug cartels, and brought charges under racketeering laws usually applied to such criminal organizations.

Hours after Swiss authorities arrived unannounced at a Zurich hotel and arrested top FIFA officials early Wednesday morning, the Justice Department and prosecutors for the Eastern District of New York forcefully declared that their investigation had only just begun and pledged to rid the international soccer organization of systemic corruption.

“These individuals and organizations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where the games would be held, and who would run the organization overseeing organized soccer worldwide,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, who supervised the investigation from its earliest stages, when she was the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament.”
It's been common knowledge that FIFA is so deeply corrupt that it makes the International Olympic Committee look like Bernie Sanders, so I am not at all surprised that allegations of corruption have finally been made public, though I am a bit surprised that it was the US that led the investigation.

As it stands now, the FIFA president, Sepp Blatter is not among those arrested, but given that these indictments include the FIFA statutes, which cast a very broad net (the phrase "corrupt pattern" comes to mind), if only a few of these people roll, I imagine that he could be a defendant as well.

It appears that these arrests are the proverbial good news for the Jews, as it looks like this will side-track for a while efforts to expel Israel from FIFA:
Israelis were expecting some big news to come out of the annual FIFA Congress this week. But they probably weren’t expecting this.

In a bombshell operation, a Swiss law enforcement team showed up at the Zurich hotel hosting the annual gathering of the international soccer organization — and arrested nine senior officials.

The arrests come after decades of corruption allegations aimed at FIFA. (If you’re unfamiliar, comedian John Oliver’s got you covered.) The arrested officials face charges of taking money in exchange for World Cup hosting bids, as well taking bribes in exchange for media and marketing rights for major international tournaments.

The allegations are damning, but frankly, they couldn’t have come at a better time for Israel. Until Wednesday, much of the coverage of the FIFA Congress surrounded whether delegates would vote to suspend Israel from world soccer.

The Palestinian Football Association is introducing the motion to suspend Israel, accusing it of unjustly restricting Palestinian soccer players’ freedom of movement and claiming that Israel’s West Bank settlement teams violate FIFA rules. Israeli officials have called the effort blatantly political and said that the Palestinians’ complaints all concern Israel’s security forces — not Israel’s soccer teams.
Needless to say, some people are already blaming  the "international Zionist conspiracy" for the arrests.

Personally, I'm hoping that we eventually see similar arrests directed at the NFL, and its head Roger Goodell.

Rick Santorum Enters the Presidential Race

Needless to say, we must remind everyone that Santorum is a term meaning, "The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex."

Needless to say, I believe that we all have the duty to get Spreading Santorum to the top of the Google rankings, it is currently the 14th result, which means that for a lot of people, it is not even on the first results page. 

Linkage



To go along with the barbecue link, here is a link on how to make charcoal, and charcoal brickettes from agricultural waste, in this case corn stalks:

26 May 2015

Ignore Last Time, I Was a Junkie: Worst Presidential Campaign Slogan Ever

Rick Perry is now saying that the reason that he was so stupid in his 2012 run for President was because he was jacked up on pain pills:
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) offered a critical assessment of some of the problems with his last presidential run.

"I wasn't healthy. You all know the health stories — it was what it was," Perry said in front of reporters in Souix City, Iowa, according to an NPR report published on Tuesday. Perry has taken steps toward running for the White House again and is expected to formally jump into the race on June 4 in Dallas.

During a 2012 GOP debate in Rochester, Michigan, Perry struggled to name the three federal agencies he would cut if elected president.

"The third agency of government I would do away with —the Education, the uh, the Commerce, and let's see. I can't find the third one. I can't," Perry said during the debate. "Sorry, oops."

Later in the cycle, aides to Perry said that the governor suffered from severe back pains and depended on painkillers to make it through the debates, which seemed to have affected his debate performances.
Seriously?  You are suggesting that unwise use of painkillers made you behave erratically, and it's all better now?

This is the worst bit of stupidity by a Presidential candidate since ……… Ummmmm ……… Sorry, oops.

I Think That Someone Has Whispered the Words "Obstruction of Justice" in His Ear

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has backtracked on his 90 days and then delete email policy:
The emails of New York officials will no longer be automatically deleted after 90 days, aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week in response to political pressure over the purge policy.

It’s been a slow burn leading to the policy shift. The purge policy was first reported by the Albany Times Union back in mid–2013, but didn’t stir much protest until more recently, following coverage by ProPublica and Capital New York.

At a public meeting Friday, aides to the governor said they had reviewed the policies of other states and, going forward, any email deletion would be manual. That means more communications should be retained and be accessible in response to public records requests or in the case of investigations of wrongdoing.

Good government groups welcomed the move, writing in an open letter that it “shows the power the governor has to lead by example to increase transparency” – rare praise for Cuomo, whose administration has generally been marked by secrecy.

Since the purge policy was in effect for about two years in some state agencies, it’s probable some public records have been lost.
The cynic in me thinks that Cuomo has already managed to delete records that he wanted deleted.

The optimist in me thinks that someone, perhaps his counsel, or perhaps someone from the US Attorney's office told him that they would either take actions to protect the data, which would be profoundly embarrassing to Hizzoner.

In either case, this is good news, and I am hoping to see Cuomo indicted, because he is clearly corrupt, at least by the ordinary standards of decency, if not the letter of the law.

Quote of the Day

It comes from my choice for Democratic nominee for President, Bernie Sanders:
In the interview, Sanders also indicates that he'd like to see a 90 percent tax rate in the country. After he sarcastically referred to that rate existing under "radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower," Harwood asked him if he thought it was too high. "No. That's not 90 percent of your income, you know?" explained Sanders, "That's the marginal. I'm sure you have some really right-wing nut types, but I'm not sure that every very wealthy person feels that it's the worst thing in the world for them to pay more in taxes, to be honest with you. I think you've got a lot of millionaires saying, "You know what? I've made a whole lot of money. I don't want to see kids go hungry in America. Yeah, I'll pay my fair share."
I love the bit about, "Radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower."

The whole discussion (it's informal enough that it's more of a chat than an interview) with John Harwood, NBC's Chief Washington correspondent, is well worth a watch.

Tweet of the Day

Truth be told, this might also be the finest letter to the editor, as well as the best essay ever written on the Middle East.

25 May 2015

Memorial Day Thought: Thanking Soldiers for Their Service Is Quite Literally the Least You Can Do………

I do not say this to diminish or demean the actions taken by members of the military, but rather because the boiler plate, "Thank you for your service," is patronizing and demeaning.

What you are really saying, and the soldiers understand this, is "I am so glad that it's you, and not me, or my children, who are doing this."

Rather unsurprisingly, the folks who have served have a similar view of that cliche:
………

As the size of the military shrinks, the connections between military personnel and the broad civilian population appear to be growing more distant, the Pew Research Center concluded after a broad 2012 study of both service members and civilians.

Most of the country has experienced little, if any, personal impact from the longest era of war in U.S. history. But those in uniform have seen their lives upended by repeated deployments to war zones, felt the pain of seeing family members and comrades killed and maimed, and endured psychological trauma that many will carry forever, often invisible to their civilian neighbors.

………

"I am well-aware that many Americans, especially our elite classes, consider the military a bit like a guard dog," said Lt. Col. Remi M. Hajjar, a professor of behavioral sciences and leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

"They are very thankful for our protection, but they probably wouldn't want to have it as a neighbor," he said. "And they certainly are not going to influence or inspire their own kids to join that pack of Rottweilers to protect America."

………

George Baroff, enjoying an outdoor lunch at an organic food co-op in Carrboro one recent afternoon, said he understood the military quite well: He served three years as a draftee during World War II before eventually becoming a psychology professor in nearby Chapel Hill.

Baroff, 90, finds himself startled when people learn of his war record and say, as Americans often do to soldiers these days, "Thank you for your service."

"You never, ever heard that in World War II. And the reason is, everybody served," he said.

In Baroff's view, today's all-volunteer military has been robbed of the sense of shared sacrifice and national purpose that his generation enjoyed six decades ago. Today's soldiers carry a heavier burden, he said, because the public has been disconnected from the universal responsibility and personal commitment required to fight and win wars.

"For us, the war was over in a few years. The enemy surrendered and were no longer a threat," he said. "For soldiers today, the war is never over; the enemy is never defeated." The result, he added, is "a state of perpetual anxiety that the rest of the country doesn't experience."

………

What most don't realize is how frequently such gestures ring hollow.

"So many people give you lip service and offer fake sympathy. Their sons and daughters aren't in the military, so it's not their war. It's something that happens to other people," said Phillip Ruiz, 46, a former Army staff sergeant in Tennessee who was wounded twice during three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Douglas Pearce, a former Army lieutenant who fought in Afghanistan and is now a marriage and family counselor in Nashville, said civilians seem to think they "can assuage their guilt with five seconds in the airport."

"What they're saying is, 'I'm glad you served so that I didn't have to, and my kids won't have to.'"
(Emphasis mine)

Seriously, find something a bit more meaningful to say.

H/T Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly.

Quote of the Day

There's a breed of pedigreed dolt endemic to Washington, D.C. They determine their opinions socially, not empirically; what "everybody knows" trumps facts any old day. Their notion of tough, hard-nosed realism invariably entails that other people should suffer, from the blithe imperialism that cheers on unnecessary wars to the 'sensible centrism' that insists that unnecessary cuts to the social safety net are absolutely imperative. (The occasional safely contrarian view offers some novelty and the gloss of independence without truly challenging the establishment framework.) They remain cheerfully cloistered from the effects of their pronouncements about what the less privileged should be doing (and should be having done to them).
Batocchio at Hullabaloo
The is commenting specifically about the rush to war in Iraq, but it applies generally.

Read the rest.

Smart Political Move

During the (quite disastrous for Labour) UK elections, Ed Millibrand was insistent on two big issues: He would not go into a coalition with the Scottish National Party (SNP), and he would oppose a referendum on Britain's EU membership.

Both positions were big political losers, with Labour being basically turfed out in Scotland, and losing votes from a significant Euroskeptic constituency.

Ed is gone, and the acting Labour leader, Harriet Harman, has announced that the party will support the referendum, but campaign for a "No" vote:
Acting leader Harriet Harman has said Labour will now support plans for an EU referendum by the end of 2017.

Ms Harman told the Sunday Times the change in position came after they "reflected on the conversations we had on doorsteps" during the election.

The PM has pledged to renegotiate a "better deal" for the UK and hold an "in/out" referendum by the end of 2017.

Ms Harman told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show the party would still campaign for the UK to stay in the EU.

She said: "Whether we are in the European Union or not is a huge, important, constitutional, political, economic decision."

The Conservatives were bringing forward a bill to allow the referendum to happen, said Ms Harman, and Labour "wouldn't succeed" in stopping it.
While she coaches this decision in terms of a lack of agency, this is actually a very politically savvy move.

The mainstream Tories (Conservatives) want to stay in the EU, because big business, particularly The City (London's equivalent of Wall Street), because it makes doing business (and hiding income from Inland Revenue HM Revenue and Customs) much easier, and, particularly for the British FIRE sector.

As such I am sure that the reelected Prime Minister, David Cameron, is really not particularly eager to put Britain's continued membership in the European Union up to a vote.

However, political realities forced Cameron to promise a referendum, because the loony right of his party was pressuring him, and because the even more right wing UKIP has been taking an increasing portion of what would have been Tory votes, which in the UK's first past the post system, could prove problematic.

With Labour saying that they will not oppose a referendum, it removes one of the few excuses for Cameron to delay a vote on status, and regardless of what happens, this will not be good for him politically, because, even while he has promised a referendum, which necessarily will upset UK big business, he must also campaign against it, which would serve to strengthen UKIP.

I am not sure if Ms. Harmon intended for there to put the Conservative mainstream in this position, but they appear to be thoroughly skewered on the tines of Morton's fork.

24 May 2015

And Yes, the TTIP, in All Its Bee Killing Glory, Sucks Too

The US, acting on behalf of Monsanto and its ilk, pressured the EU into revoking its common sense pesticide regulations using the TTIP to coerce regulatory forbearance:
EU moves to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility were shelved following pressure from US trade officials over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, newly released documents show.

Draft EU criteria could have banned 31 pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). But these were dumped amid fears of a trade backlash stoked by an aggressive US lobby push, access to information documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe show.

On 26 June 2013, a high-level delegation from the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited EU trade officials to insist that the bloc drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favour of a new impact study.

Minutes of the meeting show commission officials pleading that “although they want the TTIP to be successful, they would not like to be seen as lowering the EU standards”.

The TTIP is a trade deal being agreed by the EU and US to remove barriers to commerce and promote free trade.

Responding to the EU officials, AmCham representatives “complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists” of prohibited substances, the minutes show.

The US trade representatives insisted that a risk-based approach be taken to regulation, and “emphasised the need for an impact assessment” instead.

On 2 July 2013, officials from the US Mission to Europe visited the EU to reinforce the message. Later that day, the secretary-general of the commission, Catherine Day, sent a letter to the environment department’s director Karl Falkenberg, telling him to stand down the draft criteria.

“We suggest that as other DGs [directorate-generals] have done, you consider making a joint single impact assessment to cover all the proposals,” Day wrote. “We do not think it is necessary to prepare a commission recommendation on the criteria to identify endocrine disrupting substances.”

The result was that legislation planned for 2014 was kicked back until at least 2016, despite estimated health costs of €150bn per year in Europe from endocrine-related illnesses such as IQ loss, obesity and cryptorchidism – a condition affecting the genitals of baby boys.

A month before the meeting, AmCham had warned the EU of “wide-reaching implications” if the draft criteria were approved. The trade body wanted an EU impact study to set looser thresholds for acceptable exposure to endocrines, based on a substance’s potency.

“We are worried to see that this decision, which is the source of many scientific debates, might be taken on political grounds, without first assessing what its impacts will be on the European market,” the chair of AmCham’s environment committee wrote in a letter to the commission.

These could be “dramatic” the letter said.

In a high-level internal note sent to the health commissioner, Tonio Borg, shortly afterwards, his departmental director-general warned that the EU’s endocrines policy “will have substantial impacts for the economy, agriculture and trade”.

The heavily redacted letter, sent a week before the EU’s plans were scrapped continued: “The US, Canada, and Brazil [have] already voiced concerns on the criteria which might lead to important repercussions on trade.”

The series of events was described as “incredible” by the the Green MEP Bas Eickhout. “These documents offer convincing evidence that TTIP not only presents a danger for the future lowering of European standards, but that this is happening as we speak,” he told the Guardian.
Even without a signed deal, it appears that the two big "Free Trade" deals being negotiated have already been used to subvert consumer and environmental safeguards.

Of course, this is precisely what Obama said wouldn't happen, but I guess that he's looking forward, not back.

Bob Menendez Shafts Barack Obama on TPP

He managed to get an amendment in the Senate's TPP bill, which has the effect of toughening human trafficking requirements of member countries, which means that Malaysia's horrific human trafficking record would make the treaty ineligible for fast track:
Remember, passing Fast Track in the Senate was supposed to be the easy part. Not only did Fast Track get rejected on its first try — “Welcome aboard the S.S. Lame Duck, Mr. President!” — now we get this. Ryan Grim explains:
The Senate approved a bill to “fast-track” trade agreements negotiated by the president. The agreement will prevent Congress from amending or filibustering Obama’s controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The TPP deal would have a hard time surviving without fast-track authority.
But a key crackdown on human trafficking survived the legislative jujitsu. The White House considers the provision a deal-breaker, as it would force one of the nations involved in the TPP talks — Malaysia — out of the agreement.
From the US State Department:
Malaysia (Tier 3 [the worst]) is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and women and children subjected to sex trafficking. The overwhelming majority of trafficking victims are among the estimated two million documented and two million or more undocumented foreign workers in Malaysia.
Foreign workers typically migrate willingly to Malaysia from other countries in Asia—primarily Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Thailand, and Laos—in search of greater economic opportunities.
Here I pause to note that somebody decided that it would be a good idea for the US to take in the Rohingya, the Muslim boat people who have turned to traffickers to escape a slow motion Burmese genocide, after which the Malaysians offered temporary, one-year status to such Rohingya as actually reach their shores.

………

Complicating any efforts to “fix” the bill, however, is the possibility of an alliance between feminist factions in the Democratic party, and Christianist factions among the Republicans, both of whom take strongly principled positions on human trafficking.

Complicating the picture even more, when you think about it, is the potential for agita in 2016. Suppose Obama, very ironically, gets the anti-slavery provisions “fixed,” i.e. removed, and the bill passes in time. The campaign ads practically write themselves. “A vote for TPP is a vote for human trafficking.” “Why does Senator X support slavery?” Cue the ominous music. Cue pictures of skeletal women and children. Cue the die-ins on the trail. I’m sure campaign shops on both sides are practically drooling with joy, because the only way TPP will pass is with bipartisan support. Getting that amendment in there was GENIUS, and we’ll get to how that happened in a moment.
So what we are seeing here is a pissing contest between Menendez and Obama.

The time line is:
  • Menendez does his level best to submarine any potential nuclear deal with Iran, including politically attaching himself to Benyamin Netanyahu.
  • Menendez is indicted for corruption. (BTW, good luck getting a conviction under recent Supreme Court rulings)
  • Menendez inserts an amendment to Fast Track which basically excludes Malaysia from the treaty.
Note also the consequences of excluding Malaysia, the most populous Muslim majority state in the world the only sizable majority Muslim state in the TPP, so its exclusion would leave the rump state of Brunei (population 415,717) as the only majority Muslim nation in the agreement.

I cannot believe that I am actually on Menendez' side on all of this, but the TPP is clearly bad news, as the TTIP with Europe, (more on that later) so to the degree that these treaties can be stopped, the better it is for everyone but the multinational business for whom this is a big government subsidy.

Fabulous!

If there is a Western European country that I would not have expected to vote for same sex marriage, it is Ireland.

Once again, I am pleased to be proved wrong, as Ireland became the first nation to approve same sex marriage by referendum:
Ireland became the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote, sweeping aside the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church in a resounding victory Saturday for the gay rights movement and placing the country at the vanguard of social change.

With the final ballots counted, the vote was 62 percent in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, and 38 percent opposed.

The turnout was large — more than 60 percent of the 3.2 million eligible voters cast ballots, and only one district out of 43 voted the measure down. Cheers broke out among the crowd of supporters who had gathered in the courtyard of Dublin Castle when Returning Officer Riona Ni Fhlanghaile announced around 7 p.m. that the ballot had passed, 1,201,607 votes to 734,300.

Not long ago, the vote would have been unthinkable. Ireland decriminalized homosexuality only in 1993, the church dominates the education system, and abortion remains illegal except when a mother’s life is at risk. But the influence of the church has waned amid scandals in recent years, while attitudes, particularly among the young, have shifted.
This wasn't just a victory, this was a blowout.

The Catholic Church needs to get with the program. If they get blown out in Ireland, in a plebiscite no less, they need to know that they have lost the war.

Rather ironically, at nearly the same time, Northern Ireland just killed same sex marriage:
Politicians in Northern Ireland will face intense pressure from LGBT rights campaigners to “catch up” with the rest of western Europe after the Irish Republic overwhelmingly backed same-sex marriage in a referendum.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions will join Amnesty International and gay rights group the Rainbow Project to hold a mass rally in support of equal marriage rights on 13 June, while a legal test case has also been lodged with Belfast’s courts.

After Friday’s historic referendum, in which the Republic’s voters endorsed same-sex marriage by 2-1, Northern Ireland remains the last country in western Europe where LGBT couples are barred from getting married.

Attempts to legislate to allow gay marriage have been vetoed by the Democratic Unionist party and a majority of Ulster Unionists in the devolved Northern Ireland assembly at Stormont.

An ICTU spokesman said the region needed to catch up with the rest of democratic Europe – and in particular every other part of the UK. “In 1998 Northern Ireland became one of the most advanced places on earth for human rights. Section 75 of the Good Friday agreement dealt with human rights and enshrined the rights of every citizen to be treated equally in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Since then Northern Ireland has slipped back in terms of the human rights agenda and is now isolated in the UK as the only place where a gay couple cannot get married. The rally will be held in solidarity with the gay community.”

Section 75 of the Good Friday agreement guarantees the right of every citizen to avail themselves of state services in the region. LGBT rights campaigners believe that these services include marriages in civil spaces such as council chambers.

Amnesty’s campaign director in Northern Ireland, Patrick Corrigan, has called for a mass turnout at the rally, which will start from Belfast’s Writers Square at 2.30pm. Corrigan said people in Northern Ireland should show they are “sick of living in a discriminatory backwater for gay people”.

Last month, a Sinn Féin motion on marriage equality fell after 47 Stormont assembly members voted in support while 49 unionists voted against. Even if there had been a small majority in favour, the DUP would have exercised a special veto drawn up under devolution.
So, we have the political wing of the IRA agreeing with Ian Paisley's DUP.

I gotta think that this is more political posturing than anything else.

Basically, no one wants to be a first mover.