Gerry Adams’s Gambit (or “I’m Just Asking”)

They say the Troubles are unlikely to return to Northern Ireland. They say the Irish Republican Army doesn?t have the option of returning to war. The IRA has the guns, the IRA has the men, the IRA has the capacity ? but they Just Won?t Do It.

In a post-Sept. 11 world, so the thinking goes, no Western paramilitary organization wants to be lumped in with Osama bin Laden. Especially not the IRA, which after years of struggle has gained (one hesitates to say ?earned?) a certain badge of respectability ? a seat at the negotiating table alongside major powers. So don?t count on a ?spectacular.?

At the risk of sounding overly contrarian (not to mention alarmist) I wonder if circumstances might prove the conventional wisdom wrong here.
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AIDS in Eastern Europe

Actually the Scotsman puts it like this: “Enlargement of the European Union in May will bring the world?s fastest-growing area of HIV infection on to the doorstep of the EU, United Nations experts warned today.”

Which pretty much scandalises me: how can you turn a human tragedy into a eurosceptic thing, for gods sake? The problem isn’t either nearer or farther due to the enlargement process: it is simply there. The background to this is that Peter Piot, executive director of UNAids, the UN body with responsibilities for HIV/Aids, has been speaking at the start of a conference today in Dublin, held at the invitation of the Irish EU presidency. Among the preoccupying facts contained in Piot’s speech: as many as one in 100 adults in the eastern European states and their neighbours Ukraine and Russia are infected with HIV , and the numbers are growing fast.

?Of the states who are to join, the Baltic states particularly are affected. Then you have got at the borders Ukraine and Russia, where 1% of all adults are infected.

?What may be more important is that in 10 years? time, the number of people infected with HIV has multiplied by 50. There are now about 1.5 million people living with HIV on the doorstep of the EU.?

Would it be unduly hard-hearted of me to point out that these countries are already facing the most dramatic population crisis in Europe. ‘Sempre plou sobre mullat’ we say in Catalan (it always rains on the wet). Is there nothing we can get right. Couldn’t we try, just this once.
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