April 30, 2007
Round Up The Deniers
Do we have global warming deniers in the UK? Can anyone tell me? Or is it just an American phenomenon?
To me it was like hearing someone deny the holocaust ever happened. Had we not learnt about this in school and aren’t the facts undeniable? But of course this is something only a hysterical liberal would worry about.
via EU Referendum
Mauna Loa shows CO2 levels follow temperature not the other way around.
Googling around historic CO2 levels I came across references to this paper, which even with my JSTOR login I can't access (if anyone can send me a copy I would be most grateful).
Dip in the atmospheric CO2 level during the mid-1960's
Authors: Bacastow, R.
Publication: (International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Symposium on the Carbon Dioxide Cycle, Seattle, Wash., Aug. 31, 1977.) Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 84, June 20, 1979, p. 3108-3114. NSF-supported research. (JGR Homepage)
Publication Date: 06/1979
Removal of the southern oscillation effect from the CO2 records at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and the South Pole reveals corresponding decreases following the Agung eruption (Bali) in 1963. The period of the decreases roughly corresponds to the period of reduced solar transmittance, as measured at Mauna Loa. It is suggested that the decrease in CO2 level is due to reduced sea surface temperatures, for which there is some direct evidence. The temperature anomaly required to produce the CO2 level dip is calculated on the basis of several simple models and found to be close to that observed.
No much sign of a dip there: but DIALOG/DISCCRS Newsletter tells us that there should be "A small gap in the carbon dioxide data from February through April 1964" because Dr Keeling ran out of funds. So the data for the months we are interested in is missing! And some graphs do show this:
So lessons for today:
1) There was a drop in CO2 levels in 1963/1964 that was officially probably CAUSED by temperatures dropping because of a "period of reduced solar transmittance".
2) Any graph of CO2 level rises from Mauna Loa should have a gap in 1964 - if it doesn't it is lazy science.
3) The entire CO2 record rests on the shoulders of one man in one location.
Keeping the pack in order
The hasty scramble to back the Chancellor underlined the growing panic in Labour's high command about the humiliation the party faces in this week's local elections in England, as well as crucial polls for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.
Asked whether it was a "done deal" that Mr Brown would be the next Labour leader, Mr Reid told BBC1's Sunday AM: "I predict that we will not only see that unity up to this election, but beyond this election. And rather than the expected fracturing of Labour beyond it, we will see a coming together of all of the Labour leadership, beyond this election.
So the little Scotty Dog has been promised a nice big juicy bone if he doesn't bark. Obviously he was getting a bit jealous of all the attention on the chocolate lab puppy, who has been told he can have the biggest kennel if he behaves, so a little yapping and the treats are his.
THE world's leading climate-change experts will this week put themselves on a collision course with environmentalists by proposing a series of controversial measures to tackle global warming.
More than 2,000 scientists will put forward a global warming action-plan to save the world from overheating, including a major expansion of nuclear power, using GM crops to boost biofuels and burying carbons underground.
The proposals are outlined in a draft version of the report Mitigation of Climate Change by the United Nations-created Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The survey, the final draft of which will be released on Friday following a week-long meeting in Bangkok, is the third this year by the UN climate panel. An IPCC report in February said it was at least 90 per cent certain that mankind was to blame for global warming and on 6 April it warned of more hunger, droughts and rising seas.
Achim Steiner, the head of the UN Environment Programme, said: "We're moving from two very sobering reports to what we can do about climate change. And we can do it.
"Having shown us the path towards greater and greater problems, the IPCC raises our horizons to where the solutions lie and shows that they are within our grasp."
Something positive from the IPCC, good. Refreshing to learn that rather than covering ourselves in sackclothes and ashes and wishing ourselves back to the stone age some experts believe in human ingenuity and technology. And even better is the prospect of greens of differing hues cat fighting. Time to sit back and enjoy the show!
First they came for the smokers
Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, said yesterday that it was "perfectly legitimate" for NHS trusts to refuse some treatments to heavy smokers or patients who are obese.
The 1944 White Paper, A National Health Service, set out the two guiding principles. Firstly, that such a service should be comprehensive, with all citizens receiving all the advice, treatment and care they needed, combined with the best medical and other facilities available. Secondly, that the service should be free to the public at the point of use.
It is no longer. Smokers pay through the nose for their pleasure, always being told that the money is needed because they will burden society, but even that is irrelevant. If the NHS starts picking who it chooses to treat then its slim raison d'être ceases. They start with the smokers, the unfashionably fat, who's next. I bet it isn't the bloody joggers with fucked up knees or yuppy rock climbers who are just as responsible for ruining their bodies as Mrs Miggins and her 40 Lambert and Butler a day.
April 29, 2007
Bye bye Jack
JACK McConnell has issued a desperate plea to Tory and Liberal voters, urging them to vote tactically for Labour to stave off an SNP victory in Thursday's Holyrood election.
In a clear indication of the meltdown facing his party, the First Minister said Conservative and Lib Dem supporters should back him as the "only way" to stop Alex Salmond....
The new YouGov poll, commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), gives the SNP an eight point lead over Labour in the constituency vote, and a five point lead in the regional list vote.
Analysis by Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University shows that, if the swing is uniform across the country, the SNP will win 46 seats to Labour's 40. The Conservatives and the Liberals would get 18 each, with the Greens on five and others two.
The poll would leave the SNP and the Liberals one seat short of a majority in Parliament. But Scotland on Sunday can also reveal that the Greens now say they too would consider a formal coalition deal, in which they would accept ministerial jobs. It leaves open the possibility of a three-way coalition after Thursday's vote.
The Sunday Herald reveals who he blames:
JACK MCCONNELL has turned his fire on the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, which he has represented for eight years. He said the Labour-controlled area reflected "careless, thoughtless decision-making" and condemned his local town centres.
He added: "The town centre here in Wishaw has never been properly thought through for the last 20 years. That town centre in Motherwell is a pigsty. It's dirty, it's untidy, it's ... bad planning decisions, bad architectural decisions, and it needs radical surgery."
He then blamed the plight of Scotland's towns on decisions made by successive governments. "We've got to break that dependency culture that was generated partly by the Labour policies of the 1970s and partly by the Tory economic decline of the 1980s."
Ah poor wee lad crying as he sees his toys slipping away, it is everyone else's fault, waaaaaah
As the house of ID cards crumble, a shadowy figure moves onto the stage
John Reid is to consider plans for directly elected police commissioners as he burnishes his Blairite credentials ahead of a possible bid for the Labour leadership.
John Reid is to consider new plans as he burnishes his Blairite credentials ahead of a possible bid for the Labour leadership
John Reid is said to be prepared to stand for Labour leader as a 'stop Brown candidate'
The policy, strikingly similar to police reform plans announced by David Cameron earlier this year
Is it Blairite or Cameronian? Or isn't there a difference?
The Government admitted in a recent parliamentary answer that there are now 76.7 million numbers on the database, well in excess of Britain's adult population of 49 million.
Some of the surplus numbers are legitimate. The DWP estimates that 16.5 million are registered in the names of dead people whose surviving spouses can lawfully claim a pension against their late spouse's NI contributions. Another 1.5 million are thought to belong to pensioners living abroad who can claim UK benefits.
However, a spokesman for the DWP said the remaining nine million had yet to be categorised.....
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said he was alarmed at the admission, primarily because the Home Office intends to use the NI database as the model for setting up Britain's national identity card scheme in 2009.
"The Government cannot know who is in this country and who is entitled to what," he said.
"How can they claim the integrity of their £20 billion ID card database, which will hold dozens of pieces of information on every citizen in the country, will be protected?"
Oh dear, another example of governmental cluelessness, so will John Reid be sharpening his axe and declare himself to be the only hard man capable of running the country by putting the civil service in order? In the immortal words of The Sweet..
Ahh Ahhh, Ahh Ahhh
You better beware, you better take care
You better watch out if you've got long black hair
He'll come from behind, you'll go out of your mind
You better not go, you never know what you'll find
Ahh Ahh, Ahh Ahhh
Don't look into his eyes, you'll be surprised
If don't know what going on behind his disguse
Nobody knows where Reidie goes
He'll steal your job right out from under your nose
Does anyone know the way, did we hear someone say
(We just haven't got a clue what to do)
Does anyone know the way, there's got to be a way
For John Reid
The cops are out, they're running about
Don't know if they'll ever be able to block Gordon out
He's gotta be caught, he's gotta be taught
Cause he is more evil then anyone here ever thought ...
April 27, 2007
Historic CO2 levels - "The greatest scientific scandal of our time"?
We thus find ourselves in the situation that the entire theory of man-made global warming—with its repercussions in science, and its important consequences for politics and the global economy—is based on ice core studies that provided a false picture of the atmospheric CO2 levels. Meanwhile, more than 90,000 direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere, carried out in America, Asia, and Europe between 1812 and 1961, with excellent chemical methods (accuracy better than 3%), were arbitrarily rejected. These measurements had been published in 175 technical papers. For the past three decades, these well-known direct CO2 measurements, recently compiled and analyzed by Ernst-Georg Beck (Beck 2006a, Beck 2006b, Beck 2007), were completely ignored by climatologists—and not because they were wrong. Indeed, these measurements were made by several Nobel Prize winners, using the techniques that are standard textbook procedures in chemistry, biochemistry, botany, hygiene, medicine,nutrition, and ecology. The only reason for rejection was that these measurements did not fit the hypothesis of anthropogenic climatic warming. I regard this as perhaps the greatest scientific scandal of our time. From among this treasure of excellent data (ranging up to 550 ppmv of measured CO2 levels), the founders of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis (Callendar 1949, Callendar 1958, and Keeling 1986) selected only a tiny fraction of the data and doctored it, to select out the low concentraions and reject the high values—all in order to set a falsely low pre-industrial average CO2 concentration of 280 ppmv as in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century. This manipulation has been discussed several times since the 1950s (Fonsel et al. 1956, Jaworowski et al. 1992b, and Slocum 1955), and more recently and in-depth by Beck 2007.
How much is that windmill costing you?
Fuel Poverty: 26 Apr 2007: House of Lords debates (TheyWorkForYou.com)
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Conservative)
My Lords, will the Minister indicate what percentage has been added to the bills of people in low-income households by the Government's requirement to cover the country in windmills? Would it not be a good idea if it was clearly stated on consumers' bills how much has been added as a result of the renewables obligation, which the Government have imposed?
Lord Truscott (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Energy), Department of Trade and Industry)
My Lords, the expansion of renewables, which has doubled under this Government, is primarily to tackle climate change, and will be of benefit to the entire country and will help to save the future of our planet. It is true that the renewables obligation, to which the noble Lord refers, will cost something like £1 billion by 2010, but it will also support the emergence of further renewables technology and the renewables industry, which will be of great benefit to the country.
As correspondent DA, who sent this to me, says - it is only money, why worry, be happy!
Rising Crime in Wiltshire
The number of crimes committed across Wiltshire and Swindon rose by 7% last year, according to latest figures.
Violent crime increased by 15% and the number of domestic burglaries was up, but there was a fall in sexual and drug offences and thefts of cars.
There has also been a fall in the number of incidents people can be bothered to report to the police, unless you need a docket for an insurance claim it just ain't worth it - as Numberwatch found out. The head rozzer on the TV this night was putting the rise down to new ways of recording the figures and alcohol - as though it was the first time anyone in Wiltshire had had a drink.
Clear message to the local police: a little less money spent on the like of Salisbury Diversity Forum and more on thief taking.
Channel 4 on the NHS IT scandal
Junior doctor job scandal deepens
The junior doctor job application scandal deepens. The government is trying to hide behind the idea that some malicious leaker is responsible for disclosing all the details of those trying to find junior hospital doctoring jobs, and that this is why their personal details were so widely available on the internet.
Our own researches prove that it was the NHS IT systems that were blatantly insecure. Indeed, we have now found other aspects of their IT that are wide open to abuse. Details of a conference attended by consultants and doctors several months ago disclose the addresses, telephone numbers, mobile phones, email addresses, of some of the most prominent doctors in Britain.
It is increasingly obvious that ministers and civil servants have lost control of the security of their own IT systems. The only minister to speak thus far, Lord Hunt, has merely entered his conviction that it's all down to some malicious leaker.
There have been no leaks. There has simply been a wholesale breakdown of security, as Victoria Macdonald will be reporting. But as we shall also be indicating, this raises the whole spectre of the insecurity of ID cards and the IT systems that are supposedly designed to protect personal information.
Read and watch our reports on -
And these people want us all to have an ID card?
Will he stay or will he go now?
Even Mr Blair's most loyal supporters concede his unpopularity is so deep that his resignation could actually improve the party's showing, particularly in Scotland which Labour may lose control to the nationalists.
The move could also wrongfoot his opponents and even cushion any political fallout for Gordon Brown if, as expected, there is a rout of Labour in the Chancellor's Scottish backyard.
The eve of poll announcement is being canvassed at a senior level within No 10 to let the Prime Minister regain the political momentum.
Mr Blair is anxious that he will not take the brunt of the blame if the grim opinion polls are borne out.
Gordon Brown is becoming a growing electoral liability to the Labour Party as a YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph today shows that he is falling even further behind David Cameron.
The poll points to Labour's worst local election performance in two decades, with the party poised to lose hundreds of seats in England and Wales. Labour is also facing a catastrophic loss of power to the nationalists in Scotland, opening up the prospect of a referendum on the end of the Union within four years.
Will Tony go before the election? He thinks Labour's unpopularity is Gordon's fault and doesn't see why he should sacrifice his glorious name to help the miserable old git out, but then if he does resign before then the elections are all about Gordon and so he can reassure himself that the dismal show is a vote on Gordon not himself.
I think his advisers will play the latter to his vanity so he can absolve himself from any responsibility of defeat., but his love of holding onto power is so strong they won't win. It is going to be a close call.
"Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look, He thinks too much; such men are dangerous."
A second study released this week tried everything possible to find something to support “obesity as an increasing public health problem.” While headlines ambiguously mentioned obesity may be associated with disability in the elderly, the association this study found was not what most people may have jumped to conclude. Being fat was not associated with increased risk for disability and was associated with the lowest mortality....
Weights most free from disability ranged from “recommended” to “obese.” There were higher risks associated at the extremes of weight (a wide “J” curve), but only at the most extreme “morbidly obese,” a mere 0.5% of the cohort, did the risks for disability become significant.
But being overweight and obese proved to be associated with the lowest risks for mortality and best odds for life expectancy. Even the most “morbidly obese” people still had a lower risk for mortality than underweight people — five time lower, in fact.
“Recommended weights” were associated with higher risks for mortality than being either overweight or obese. Even those at the higher end of obesity with BMIs 35-40 shared the same mortality risks and life expectancies as those at “recommended” BMIs, leaving further questions as to the rationale for current “recommended weights” for older citizens.
The most carefully-done research has consistently shown the dangers of weight loss, especially among the elderly.
What is most incredible is that, despite being unable to demonstrate a concern for “obesity-associated” risks for disability for 99.5% of elderly and finding that being fat is associated with longer life and the lowest risks for mortality, these researchers still advocated for weight intervention and ideal BMI recommendations
But Nanny believes it better for us to conform to her guidelines and "look" healthy even if we are dead rather than be jolly, plump and alive.
Con pan y vino se anda el camino
Parents who give alcohol to children under the age of 15 - even with a meal at home - should face prosecution, a charity says today.
An Alcohol Concern spokesman said: "It is legal to provide children as young as five with alcohol in a private home. Raising the age limit to 15 would send a stronger message to parents of the risks associated with letting very young people consume alcohol." It is illegal to buy a drink in a pub under 18, but a 16- or 17-year-old can drink wine or beer if having a meal with parents.
It is a parent's duty and right to introduce their children to the joys and dangers of drink. It is one of the few europhile sentiments I agree with that we ought to be more like the continental cafe culture and gently introduce children to a glass of wine at a meal.
I remember my eleven year old shocking the owner of Juicy Lucy's Steakhouse and Grill in Colorado when, knowing he had been skiing in France previously, she asked was there anything he missed about France compared to the USA - " a glass of wine with my meal" was his answer. I think I was looked at as though I was a child abuser from that moment on.
April 26, 2007
Doing Time in Schools
.....where on earth is the moral justification for compelling attendance at state schools when learning is impossible? The first question that any parent should ask a head teacher is, can you assure me that my child will not be left unsupervised with children who steal, bully, lie, cheat or seek ways to frustrate teaching and learning?
Like prisons, schools are now places where the inmates are obliged to keep company with others whom they might prefer to avoid. Parents need to know about these things.
Peter Inson is a former head teacher of a state school
Do the Math
Mathematics tests set by universities for undergraduate chemistry students in their first term to diagnose remedial requirements are disconcertingly simple. They encapsulate the challenge facing this country. Dr Pike called for action now to sort the problem: "What we need is not another study with yet another report left unimplemented on the shelf but a focused investigation, engendering credibility, transparency and inspiration across all sectors and leading to actions that really do place this country at the forefront of education.
"Our future depends upon it."
Take the test for the chance to win £500 - Just have a look at it and despair at our education system.
The Drugs aren't cheap
...there are thousands - at least 16,000 elderly people - who are going blind because they cannot get a cheap treatment that is readily available in other countries, from Germany to Mexico to Pakistan.
These British people are losing their sight not just because of NHS underfunding, but mainly because of the incompetence and statism of the system. The world is going dark for thousands of elderly people because we won't let clinicians make independent decisions, and because of the indifference of the Government to an electorally insignificant minority.
Mr Devier fought in the RAF. He has contributed to the NHS all his life, and yet he has no choice - if he wants to save his sight, and if he wants to stay with his wife - but to dig ever deeper into his dwindling savings and pay for exorbitantly expensive private treatment.
Today, he is due to have another injection in an eye, in the hope of alleviating his wet macular degeneration. That injection alone will cost £1,793. In an effort to save his sight, he has now spent approaching £8,000, and he is not a rich man.
I suppose it is irrelevant that he once risked his life for his country, but I find it utterly incredible that we are posing these alternatives to a man at his time of life - cough up, or say goodbye to your eyes.
What has gone wrong with our priorities, when we can allow comparatively affluent people to have essentially cosmetic operations on the NHS - wart removal, tattoo removal, varicose veins - and yet we cannot find the cash to save an old man's sight?
It is bad enough that we live in an age of the postcode lottery, and that there are people over the river in Berkshire who are getting the injections free, on the NHS. It is outrageous that Oxfordshire has the lowest per capita health funding, receiving only 85 per cent of the per capita funding of the next most cash-starved area; and it is, of course, wrong that life-prolonging medicines of all kinds are available free in Scotland - subsidised by the taxpayers of England - and yet are denied to the English on grounds of expense.
And the Tory policy on this is what? More of the same, thought so.
Boris goes onto make another point:
But the real scandal is the way the political masters of the health service are so supine in dealing with drug companies and in getting a good deal for patients.
Today Mr Devier will be injected with Lucentis, a drug which is made by the prodigious Californian company Genentech..Genentech makes another drug, Avastin, and though Avastin is technically a cancer drug, it is now widely agreed to be just as good as Lucentis at treating wet macular degeneration....There are only two differences between them. The first is that if Lucentis were free on the NHS, it would cost about £750 million a year, whereas Avastin has been on the market as a cancer treatment for years, and would only cost £4 million a year for eye patients across Britain....Mr Lavin can give Avastin to his private patients, and he buys it in from Florida at a cost of only $30 a dose. But he cannot give it to NHS patients, because the second difference is that Lucentis is licensed for eye use in this country, but Avastin is not. And why not?
... there is no way on earth the Pharma boys are going to seek a licence for Avastin,...And yet what no one seems to understand is that it is entirely open to the NHS to call the bluff of the pharmaceutical giant. There are plenty of unlicensed drugs already being used, or rather, licensed drugs being used for other purposes. Patricia Hewitt could get a grip and tell the PCTs to use Avastin, even though it is not licensed.
But Hewitt dithers and passes the buck. She blames Nice, or the drugs companies, when it is up to her to step in. But she won't, because of the incompetence of the Government in dealing with the money-making necessities of the pharmaceutical companies, and because of her own blindness to what is going on in the NHS.
Yesterday I linked to a story of how Walmart sre bringing down the price of prescriptions and providing local clinics, I think what Boris is bumbling towards is a call for more of a Walmart frame of mind in our masters who run the NHS. Old Sam would squeeze the Phama boys balls so tight that the drugs our old people need would be as cheap as Smarties.
(Of course bringing the rigours of the marketplace to the NHS is not Tory policy so all Boris can do is bitch and groan not tell us how the Tories would solve the problem.)
Householders will face a new tax on rubbish from next year under proposals to be announced by David Miliband next month, The Times has learnt.
The Environment Secretary will disclose much tougher targets to recycle waste and will give councils new powers to levy charges on nonrecyclable rubbish. New regulations are expected to be attached to the Climate Change Bill to be introduced in July.
The new proposals are likely to aggravate a public outcry over fortnightly collections of domestic waste brought in by cash-strapped authorities. Some councils, particularly those facing town hall elections, have changed back to weekly collections....
Alan Connett, leader of Teignbridge District Council, which is reverting from fortnightly to weekly collection, said: “I think people pay their council tax and expect a minimum standard as part of the service, which is something we ought to provide. Otherwise, what are they paying their council tax for?
“When you start to break down the charges and charge separately for collecting rubbish, why not charge separately for other services such as street lights?
Quite. The telegraph has been leading on the fortnightly bin collection story for some time now - today's leading story is :
Town halls have been instructed by Whitehall to hush up plans to introduce fortnightly bin collections ahead of local elections.
Binmen at work; Plans to end weekly bin round hushed up
Four in 10 councils have dropped weekly bin collections
With Labour facing potential losses at next Thursday's polls, dropping weekly bin rounds has become a major political issue.
In what has been branded a cynical ploy to save votes by covering up an unpopular policy, a government agency told local authorities: "The timing of local elections may affect your thinking on when best to introduce the concept to members and to the public."
If it wasn't for those pesky voters councils could run the system just how they wanted. If I was standing as a Conservative Councillor and I wanted to win, more than I wanted to please Cameron, my campaign would be a simple one on retaining weekly bin collections. But local councillors are even wetter than Miliband and Tories are in the forefront of bleating about the advantages of leaving rotting rubbish on the doorstep for longer
April 25, 2007
Walmart Health Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 24, 2007 – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (NYSE: WMT) intends to contract with local hospitals and other organizations to open as many as 400 in-store health clinics over the next two to three years, and if current market forces continue, up to 2,000 clinics could be in Wal-Mart stores over the next five to seven years, Wal-Mart president and CEO Lee Scott will say in a speech later today at the World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C. The clinic program’s expansion is just the latest in a series of moves by Wal-Mart to help implement customer solutions to America’s health care crisis, including the $4 generic drug prescription program,...
“The fact is the time for politics in today’s debate on health care is long past. The time for real and meaningful change has come,” Scott says, adding later, “Yes, this is about economics. But above all, it is about our health. ...
Scott will also announce that Wal-Mart customers have saved about $290 million on selected generic prescription drugs since September 2006, when the company began selling prescriptions for $4 each in Tampa, Fla. ...
Scott highlights Wal-Mart’s work on health information technology, pointing to Wal-Mart’s partnership with other corporations to start Dossia, an independent, non-profit group that will provide safe and secure electronic medical records to their employees and retirees.
Of course over this side of the pond we have the NHS so we have no need for the radical cost-cutting, efficiency driven business model of providing local clinic services, have we?
The turn of an ankle...
A POLICE offensive in Iran against women who are greeting the arrival of warm weather by showing a little more ankle than usual was reinforced yesterday with a warning of a draconian new punishment.
Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran's prosecutor, said women who repeatedly flouted the strict dress code may face a long banishment from the Iranian capital.
"Those women who appear in public like decadent models endanger the security and dignity of young men," he said. "If primary punishments are not effective, repeat violators may receive up to five years' exile from Tehran."
Poor weak and feeble Iranian men that they need such protection. As my photographic evidence shows it is essential that women cover their ankles to prevent "endangering the security and dignity of young men", now if they are also wearing riding breeches, a tight white cotton shirt or a low cut chemise and carrying a small whip I think we can all be safe in knowing that men will be safe from any impure lascivious thoughts. I know I am, or will be after the cold shower...
The Great Global Warming Silencer
Scotsman.com News - UK - C4 film denying global warming under fire
The 90-minute The Great Global Warming Swindle, described as persuasive even by its detractors, claimed that any rise in temperatures was "mild, beneficial" and not caused by humans.
However, a complaint sent to Ofcom by Bob Ward, the global science networks director at the international consultancy Risk Management Solutions, said the current science on climate change was misrepresented and listed seven examples....
Mr Ward and nearly 40 climate scientists have also written to the documentary maker, Martin Durkin of Wag TV, urging him to drop plans to issue a DVD, which is being marketed as "the definitive response to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth".
However, Mr Durkin said: "The reason they want to suppress The Great Global Warming Swindle is because the science has stung them. Look at the mountains of absurd nonsense pedalled in the name of 'man-made climate change'. How many of these people complained when Hurricane Katrina was blamed on global warming?
"This letter is gutless. The DVD will be on sale shortly at a shop near you."
So that would be the Bob Ward who wrote this letter to Al Gore:
Dear Vice President Gore,
I was formerly Senior Manager for Policy Communication at the Royal Society, the UK national academy of science, and was the author of the letter sent by the Society in September 2006 to ExxonMobil The letter sought explanations for misleading statements the company had recently published on climate change, and its financial support for organisations that published misleading information on their websites. The contents of the letter received some media coverage in the UK and abroad in September.
I note that your inspirational address to the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco included a call for research scientists to engage more in the public debate about climate change. I hope you will continue to support climate researchers in this way and will speak out in their defence if they are subject to insidious attempts to intimidate them into silence.
So more debate! no attempts to intimidate them into silence! Unless of course they don't follow the party line...
April 24, 2007
The price of milk in the shops has risen roughly 20% in five years, from just over 44p a litre in 2002 to just over 53p in 2007. Yet the price paid to farmers has fallen.
In 1995, producers got 24.5p a litre for their milk; the average today is 18p a litre, which represents a loss of more than 3p on every litre...
Yields are typically 9,000 litres per cow per year, not the highest known since some farms have now broken the 10,000-litre barrier, but a long way above average and spectacular compared with a decade ago, when average yields were nearer 5,000 litres per cow. Thirty years earlier, average yields were 3,500 litres...
Kemble Farms heard last week that it will get a rise of roughly 1p a litre, but that will move it only from loss to break-even. Few believe the dairy industry's problems are solved.
"We either pack up or intensify further," says David Ball, one of the directors of Kemble Farms. "We've already increased output 15% in the last year. We could keep more cows, and get a further 25%. We're aiming for 10,000 litres a year per cow in the next few months. We would be driving every-thing, the animals, the plant, to the maximum. In a factory we are used to that idea of 24/7, but with animals and land there are other considerations. We resist treating animals like machines."
Kemble Farms has high standards of animal welfare - it is audited by RSPCA Freedom Foods. But as Mr Ball explains: "From the consumer point of view, dairy equals cows in nice pasture - and we're being driven away from that, until we follow the poultry world."
The irony for Colin Rank, one of the family that owns Kemble Farms, is that his cows drink water from a Cotswold spring that he could bottle and sell for 80p a litre. "We're giving it to cows and devaluing it by turning it into milk. Like all dairy farmers we could pack up tomorrow and do something better with our capital, but we do it because we have an emotional investment in the land and the animals. And we know there's a market for our product, if only the market worked."
It seems the market is working all too well, but farmers are resistant to listening to it. In far too many cases the derided "hobby farmers" aren't the ones buying up the old farms to keep the wife's horses on but are the farmers who carry on milking cows and working all hours in muck and poverty.
Bum Fodder News
I think we have all noticed Sheryl "do my fingers smell? Crow's green philosophy on "one sheet only" to wipe your bottom. A wonderful example of how easy it is for fanatics to fall over the edge into self -satire and become laughing stocks instead of revered gurus. But I just wondered what her opinion on that other poster child of concern is. As the Guardian reports:
..daily ration of 15 sheets of toilet paper. Imagine being in the position of having to make a choice between using your tiny allotment of toilet paper for the purpose for which it was intended or using it to sleep...
The inhumanity of it! - some of the prisoners don't know how to use their toilet paper and so they aren't being issued it anymore. (And somehow I don't imagine it is just because they were too well brought up to use the word "toilet".)
Send forth the best ye breed
PENSIONERS are leaving Scotland in record numbers to escape escalating taxes and inflation, new figures have revealed...."Many people who contact us are fed up with Scotland. They say the country is going down the tubes and that they don't see any future here."
One recent poll found that a third of those reaching retirement age planned to move abroad...
"In this country, people often feel put upon and are looking for a brighter, less stressful life, so they move abroad."
And it isn't just the old who have had enough of this demi-paradise..
The British are the most footloose people in the world. Not only do more British live abroad than any other nationality, they are also more spread out.
There are 41 countries with more than 10,000 British living there and another 71 countries with more than 1,000. The levels of emigration are now back to those last seen in the late-1950s and early 1960s, when the "ten-pound Poms" left in their droves for Australia, enticed by subsidised travel and settlement.
They are even higher than the last great exodus before the First World War, when the outflow was running at 300,000 per annum and more young men were leaving the country every year than died on the battlefields of Europe.
The latest research shows that far from being pensioners looking for a retirement in the sun, many leaving today are young and highly skilled. Four in ten emigrating in 2004 were in managerial or professional occupations.
Will the last one to leave please turn out the lights.
A Salty Sea Tale
THE Royal Navy could be forced to delay the retirement of Britain's ageing aircraft carriers because of delays in the programme to order replacement vessels, the Ministry of Defence has admitted.
The decision would mean the mainstay of Britain's naval power in the next decade will be two ships which are both more than 30 years old.
The prospect of prolonging the life of HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal will only heighten concerns about the state of the Royal Navy....
But not for another Scotsman writer; Scotsman.com News - UK - Shipshape?
...the military message imparted at today's event is clear: a quarter-century on, Britain is better equipped than ever to defend itself at sea, following a ｣14 billion investment package which, in the past ten years, has resulted in 28 new ships, including the HMS Albion, and one submarine.....
the Rear-Admiral exhibits the excitable nature of a head boy at school. The Royal Navy, he says, is in great shape as the result of the government's investment over the past decade.
"The new vessels have created an incredible flexibility," he says, "from which we now have global reach and greater influence. We can swing from humanitarian work to peacekeeping to actual war fighting; onboard we have all the skills necessary - engineers, electricians, plumbers, even dentists."
When I put it to him that we often read naval "sources" insisting that the service is badly underfunded, he neatly pooh-poohs any such notion: "We have enough ships to do what we are being asked because of our capability. But if the government wants us to do anything more, then that will have to change."
Serving Officer, on record, I think Mandy Rice Davies Applies - He would say that, wouldn't he.
April 23, 2007
Happy St George's Day
Saint George - The Patron Saint of: Amersfoort, Netherlands; Aragon; agricultural workers; archers; armourers; Beirut, Lebanon; Scouts; butchers; Cappadocia; Catalonia; cavalry; chivalry; Constantinople; Corinthians (Brazilian soccer team);Crusaders; England (by Pope Benedict XIV); equestrians; Ethiopia; farmers; Ferrara, Italy; field workers; Genoa; Georgia; Gozo; Bulgaria; Greece; Haldern, Germany; Heide; herpes; horsemen; horses; husbandmen; knights; lepers; leprosy; Lithuania; Lod; Malta; Modica, Sicily; Moscow; Order of the Garter; Palestine; Palestinian Christians; plague; Portugal; Ptuj, Slovenia; riders; saddle makers; sheep; shepherds; skin diseases; soldiers; syphilis; Teutonic Knights; Venice
I think I qualify under a couple of those categories, I hope you do as well so you can join me in raising a toast to him.
The amount of time children spend watching television should be rationed to prevent health and learning problems, an expert (Dr Aric Sigman) will tell MPs.
Aric Sigman is available for hire.
Dr Aric Sigman has the unique ability to 'translate' complex scientific research into easy-to-digest information which the rest of us can not only understand, but also use! Always fascinating, he is a lively, entertaining and sometimes provocative speaker - a combination he has used to good effect when presenting TV and radio programmes.
He is also a popular media interviewee, frequently asked to talk about scientific and psychological issues on programmes as diverse as Newsnight, The Today Programme, Watchdog and Richard & Judy.
Yes far too much trashy TV!
He "rejected claims setting down guidelines constitutes a "nanny state".
He said: "Successive governments are quite willing to advise us on personal matters.
I hope that non sequitur wasn't his attempt at justification, I wonder what he would consider a Nanny State to be.
Adapt or Die
More than 1,000 years ago, the Vikings colonised Greenland. They settled in the southwest of the island, where the climate was just warm enough to farm animals on summer pastures and make hay for the long winter.
The population grew to a few thousand people, with farmsteads, churches and even a bishop. But life in such an extreme climate was balanced on a knife-edge, and more than 300 years later they all vanished.
Evidence from a few visiting ships, and samples of ice drilled from the Greenland icesheet, point to sudden cold bouts in the 1300s and a longer freeze in the 1400s. ...
While the Norse colony died out the Inuit of Greenland survived by hunting whales, seals, and fish, as well as land animals. In contrast, the Norse failed to adapt to the new and rapidly changing climate.
A simple lesson in the face of climate change then, don't bury your head in the sand hoping tomorrow will be the same as yesterday, be flexible and smart.
April 22, 2007
The Curse of Cain
When Cho killed 32 people at Virginia Tech, the horrific slaughter revealed not only the poisons lurking in popular culture but the crisis of young males in a feminised society, says Sarah Baxter
...In a twist to the debate on masculinity, some commentators have complained that the terrified Virginia Tech students were no Rambos when it came to defending themselves....
The columnist Mark Steyn took up the theme with an essay on the “culture of passivity” that is overtaking America. In his view, students are becoming so infantilised that they have lost their capacity to take responsibility.
“In a horrible world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself and others,” he believes. “It is a poor reflection on us that in those critical first seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor understood instinctively the obligation to act.”
I don't know enough about this tragedy to comment but The Pussification Of The Western Male and the dangers of psychological neoteny have been constant themes on this blog - if you are not familiar with the links, check them out. However much we infantilise and feminise society those troublesome old hormones still thrash through the bodies and minds of young men, unless we teach them how to master, respect and use those urges some of them will explode.
And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
Wheelie Bin Danger
HANDLING rubbish that has been left out for a fortnight before being collected can increase the risk of health problems including asthma and nausea, a study has found, writes Steven Swinford.
Researchers found that the level of bacteria and fungal spores in the air above bins that had not been emptied for two weeks was more than 10 times that in locations where there was a weekly collection.
The findings come amid concerns about the public health risks of cutting collections. More than 140 councils in England have moved to fortnightly emptying to encourage recycling and cut costs, despite warnings of an increase in rat and insect infestation.
The spread of fortnightly collections has also raised fears about fly-tipping. Government figures show incidents rose by over 10% last year.
And it is not just the binmen who are exposed, as you try to squeeze the last bags of rubbish into your bin it forces the rancid air from the bottom out, straight into your face. But than that rubbish collection was a public health measure has long been forgotten.
My Home isn't my Castle
a pamphlet published today by the Centre for Policy Studies entitled Crossing the Threshold: 266 ways in which the state can enter your home.
The author, Harry Snook, a barrister, has identified the recent explosion in the powers given to officials, with or without a warrant, to make a mockery of that old boast that "an Englishman's home is his castle", by invading our homes and businesses. In the 1970s, 31 such powers were created, 62 in the 1980s, 67 in the 1990s.
..Useful though this pamphlet may be, its message will hardly come as a surprise. It highlights one aspect of a familiar feature of our time, reported here for many years. This is the unprecedented increase in the powers of the state over its citizens, giving officials ever more right to behave high-handedly and arbitrarily towards the public, which many have been only too quick to exercise.
But this is one aspect of a wider revolution, whereby the powers of government, at every level, have shifted from elected politicians to anonymous armies of officialdom, who not only enforce the law but make it in the first place. From Brussels, down through Whitehall, to our town halls (not to mention the proliferating government agencies), we are ruled by officials answerable, in effect, to no one but themselves and the shadowy system they serve.
We are but serfs, our homes and families held at the whim of our masters, until the Glorious Day.
BRITISH companies are handing over millions of pounds to an Indian chemical plant so that western firms can continue to pump out thousands of tons of greenhouse gases.
In a deal that has angered envi-ronmentalists, the Indian company SRF, which produces refrigeration gases at a sprawling chemical plant in Rajasthan, stands to make a profit of more than £300m from the bizarre arrangement that is supposed to combat climate change.
....Signs around the SRF plant say the company is leading the way to make India “clean and green”. But when The Sunday Times visited the area last week, locals complained about chemical leaks which they claim had affected crops and water.
Suresh Yadav, a local landowner, said: “Fifty per cent of my crops are damaged by the chemicals. Our eyes are pouring, we can’t breathe, and when the gas comes, the effects last for several days.”
The plant produces a chemical called HCFC-22, which is used for refrigerators and air-condi-tioning systems. A byproduct of its manufacture is a gas called HFC-23 (trifluoromethane) - one of the world’s worst greenhouse emissions as it traps large amounts of the sun’s heat....
One ton of it is considered to have the same climate-warming impact as 11,700 tons of carbon dioxide.
As a result, SRF has been able to sell huge numbers of credits with a relatively inexpensive cut in its own pollution. In 2005 it spent £1.4m installing a process which burnt the gas (creating dilute hydrofluoric acid and carbon dioxide).
It meant that the company could claim a 3.8m-ton cut in carbon emissions every year. Since, controversially, future years are included under the carbon trading scheme, it can keep issuing the same number of carbon credits for 10 years.
You have to admire them don't you!
April 21, 2007
A Modern St George
St. George & the Dragon Ale Brewed in Devizes for Manns. Draught only at 4.5% abv, ideal provenance for St. George's Day, 23rd April, and is available from 20th March throughout April.
No more - never again!
But still there is hope - I was sat at the Gentleman's St George's Day lunch next to a young chap recovering from a broken neck - bad tackle in a rugby match, only noticed it the next day when he took a tumble out fox hunting! Luckily he should be back on active service in the next few weeks. The subject of Kennet's Bin Bugs came up and he revealed the proper response to the snooping bureaucracy, his bin bug was chucked out the back of his plane somewhere between Kabul and Kandahar. The bin police are welcome to go to look for it.
Police are recommending two or three monkeys to be charged with inappropriate pan handling - no news yet on the organ grinder.
April 20, 2007
The Rest is Silence
"I am just going outside and may be some time."
Off to a gentleman's St George's Day Lunch at the Pub...
In the meantime I will leave you with this to show my contempt of the EU's ban on free speech and to demonstrate how to "grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court" - see if you can spot my next door neighbour - having picked up some items from one of his wardrobe clearances I am wearing his old trousers today...
Cry Devil For Freedom!
The Devil's Kitchen: Media in denial over EU has been making the running in protesting for our freedom of speech - I note with pride that his role has been acknowledged in the Telegraph:
Chris Mounsey, the 29 year old behind The Devil's Kitchen blog, said: "There is potential for this to have worldwide application. Free speech is at the centre of blogging. Part of the reason bloggers can tell the truth is because it is difficult to pin them down. This law tries to do it."
The legislation goes beyond German or Austrian-style bans on denial of the Holocaust to cover those people who question the official history of recent conflicts in Africa and the Balkans.
Eating less salt can cut cardiovascular disease risk by a quarter and fatal heart disease by a fifth, work shows.
The ideal daily intake of salt is no more than six grams and ministers want everyone to achieve this by 2010.
Experts already know that too much salt can raise blood pressure and high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The British Medical Journal study now gives the evidence behind this link and quantifies how much harm salt can do.
People who significantly cut back on the amount of salt in their diet reduced their chances of developing cardiovascular disease by 25% over the following 10 to 15 years.
And their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease went down by 20%.
All of the 3,126 people studied by the US team from Boston had had high-normal blood pressure, or "pre-hypertension"....
Oh - so this was a study on sick people who had a particular problem that makes it more likely their ticker will go pop already. As John Brignall was saying only yesterday with regards to HRT:
There are at least two well known confounding factors to which such an observational study such as this are prey:
If the therapy is successful then the patient will have a marked change of life style.
The reasons for which the therapy was prescribed in the first place might well pose a risk factor.
So what we have here is a flim-flam study that manages to have both of these confounding factors. interestingly Professor Graham MacGregor, a consultant in cardiovascular medicine at London's St George's hospital and chairman of the Consensus Action Group on Salt, said: "This is a very important study.
"It shows that if people reduce their salt intake it will reduce the number of people suffering from heart attacks, strokes and heart failure. We did not have that type of evidence before.
I wonder if he will reissue his book now: The salt-free diet book: An appetizing way to help reduce high blood pressure. You will note he is now admitting his hugely successful campaign had "no evidence" before - and to be frank I can't see much has changed. "In our study of 3,126 one legged people we found that removing their crutches lead to them falling over more often, therefore everyone should use crutches all the time." When you consider the research that has gone into the anti-salt message then if this is the best they can do then it is pathetic. Any risk that is so hard to "prove" ain't much of a risk.
My copy of The Times this morning covers it whole front page with this scare (the online version differs) ; it reports that the conclusion is much less definite than the headlines suggest:
“Our study provides unique evidence that sodium reduction might prevent cardiovascular disease and should dispel any residual concern that sodium reduction might be harmful,” it concludes. - the Salt Manufacturers point out "“The research only relates to subjects who already have high blood pressure. Most people have acknowledged for some time that such individuals may be advised to restrict their salt intake with their GP’s advice.
“What the evidence does not prove is that salt reduction will have any significant health benefits for the majority of us.”
Quite - I have always have a sneaking feeling that the anti-salt brigade are haunted by the idea that people might actually be enjoying their food instead of only eating through gritted teeth what is "good for them."
The two real salt health stories are the importance of iodised salt in the diet to prevent stupidity and salting your veg so kids eat more of them.
Iodine Deficiency is the primary preventable causes of mental retardation, and salt iodization is a proven cost-effective solution. Although a minute quantity of iodine ensures a person's iodine adequacy, iodine deficiency remains a major public health problems in 130 developing countries, affects over 740 million people, 13% of the world’s population.
Yet we have the means to prevent it – small quantities of iodine at low cost- through iodized salt. Salt iodization is the most logical and effective solution to IDD because it is consumed gradually, and is safe, sustainable and inexpensive (US five cents per person annually).
April 19, 2007
Giving him his 15 minutes
The Times Online.
On one hand be all concerned and report on the hurt and harm airing the video the little prick made, on the other hand grab the viewers who want to watch it. So the next sad loser who can't make it with a real flesh and blood woman knows his masturbatory message will be aired to one and all, while the media can bask in the glow of self righteous anger and more advertising. I believe it was Sir John Junor who coined the phrase that there was more honour in being the piano player in a brothel than being a gutter journalist
HRT - risking it
Millions will die from HRT or something according to the headlines - Not so fast says our resident expert:
There is no reason to suppose from these tacky observations that any women at all have been killed by HRT.
Old Banger Fuel
While animal diesel may be an environmentally friendly alternative, there are fears it may not be to everybody's tastes or ethics.
Mr Webster admitted that they were yet to discuss this new product with vegetarian and religious groups.
Ummm - lets think what they will say... there sure are a lot of people out there who don't like frying pigs.
My only hope is that they keep the smell, imagine buses smelling of bacon cooking, heaven!
Nursing an ambition
Patients are at risk of malnutrition because of a shortage of nursing staff to feed them properly, a survey suggests.
Almost half of the 2,000 nurses questioned by the Royal College of Nursing said that they did not have enough time to make sure that patients got their meals and were able to eat them because they were too busy.
Too busy doing what? What is more important for a nurse than keeping her charges alive? But this horrifying charge of nurse inattention is being brought to us by the Nurses Trade Union.
It is estimated malnutrition costs the NHS £7.3bn a year.
Professor Alison Kitson, the RCN's executive director for nursing, said: "Nurses really do care deeply about this but to ensure that good patient nutrition happens, it needs to be a priority for everybody in the system from the catering staff through to chief executives.
"Only then will nurses be able to break through the obstacles and get the time and resources to ensure better patient care."
The RCN has launched its Nutrition Now campaign to raise awareness of the problem
I see now, the nurses are using the thought of starving patients in their campaign for more money and status.
...It is time for the patron saint of England to be “rebranded” as a persecuted representative of Britain’s ethnic minorities, a black dissenter who rebelled against the abuse of power.
Ekklesia, the influential theological think-tank, today calls for St George, who appeared to the Crusader army at Antioch in the 11th century and was adopted as the patron saint of soldiers, to be given a makeover. Out must go the dragon, the crusades and the associations with patriotism and Empire. Instead St George’s Day should become a “day of dissent” when England celebrates its noble, alternative tradition of rebellion against the abuse of power,...
I'm not sure why we can't quite rightly celebrate our rebellious streak alongside patriotism, I certainly intend to tomorrow at a Gentleman's Lunch...
April 18, 2007
Food price rises on their way
So the food we feed the pigs, poultry and cows is going to be a lot more expensive! I know food only makes up a small proportion of the RPI but when the basics go up the effect multiplies up through the system.
Of course it doesn't help that farmers like me only grow crops on 69% of our arable land - the rest is in "environmental" schemes for the benefit of the birds (7% is "set-aside" - which is managed for environmental benefits, the rest in actual bunny-hugger schemes.)
Ethanol vehicles may have worse effects on human health than conventional petrol, US scientists have warned.
A computer model set up to simulate air quality in 2020 found that in some areas ozone levels would increase if all cars were run on bioethanol.
Deaths from respiratory problems and asthma attacks would increase with such levels...In the study, the increase in smog translated to an extra 200 deaths per year in the whole of the US, with 120 occurring in Los Angeles alone.
Britain could face food shortages within 25 years as a result of growing demand for biofuels and a rising world population, a leading adviser to industry and the Government said yesterday.
Beckett Fritters Away Britain's Reputation
A chorus of protests met Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, as she chaired the UN Security Council’s first debate on climate change yesterday.
China, Russia and some leading developing nations (The Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement,) said that Britain was overstepping the council’s remit.
Britain pushed hard to get climate change on to the Security Council agenda in an effort inspired in part by the US initiative to hold an unprecedented council debate on Aids in 2000.
Officials succeeded, however, only by resorting to a procedural device that described the debate simply as a discussion of a British letter on “energy, security and climate”.
Italy and Slovakia were the only other Security Council members apart from Britain to send a minister to take part in the debate.
Britain got firm backing from the EU, however,...
What a triumph! Marvel at Britain's influence on the world! How respected Ma Beckett is! Italy AND Slovakia turned up along side a few coral reef islanders. Still the press reports it as a triumph for global concern so it must be, I suppose.
A europhile tries to defend Tony's vision of the EU
The challenges of the modern world — global warming, global terror, mass migration, organised crime — require more cooperation between nation states, so if the EU didn’t exist we would have to invent it.
While modern Europe is geographically wide, however, its public support is shallow. People agree with the EU in principle but feel alienated from the practice. Turnouts at European elections are a joke...Scepticism isn’t peculiar to Britain. Elsewhere in Europe public antipathy is common place. The results of the 2005 constitution referendums gave it voice.
Pro-Europeans usually point the finger of blame for such public ambivalence at external influences. The media are a favourite target — and of course sections of the press have waged an unrelentingly negative campaign against Europe.
It reminds me of how parts of the Labour Party, faced with successive election defeats in the 1980s, heaped blame on the public for voting the wrong way. The public was mistaken, not Labour. Eventually we cottoned on that since there were many more members of the public than there were of us, it was we who needed to change.
So it is with Europe. The EU needs to stop pointing and start examining its own part in the gulf that exists between public and Europe. There have been two principal failures: to demonstrate that both its relevance and its governance are in touch with the modern world. ...
None of this implies that Europe’s nations can or should go it alone. Quite the reverse. Europe can build a knowledge economy faster in concert. Europe can better defend itself against crime, terror and global warming by pooling sovereignty. Europe can more effectively shape the world order if it acts in unison on trade, defence and foreign policy. But cooperation between nations nowadays relies on the active cooperation of citizens.
Unless the EU is prepared to address the gulf between rulers and governed we risk a bureaucrats’ Europe, not a peoples’ Europe. It is time for Europe to face outwards not inwards, to empower the public not the politicians. Elitism is out. Engagement is in. Europe needs to learn the lesson.
Or just accept that it is beyond reform. We don't need to "invent" an EU to tackle global problems, we don't need to "pool sovereignty" to protect ourselves, and the idea that a sclerotic "Europe" can build a knowledge economy faster than individual countries can is not only laughable but proven wrong.
Penalty notices or on-the-spot fines for parents whose children play truant do not work, research has suggested....
The report - School absenteeism and the implementation of truancy-related penalty notices - argues that truancy should be understood as a "complex social and historical issue".
It says: "Irresponsible parents may not be the main cause of children's absence from schools.....
The report calls for school absenteeism to be addressed through "a long-term effort of empowering the parents",
Fines just remind and condition the kids to the State demanding they do "time" at the State's will. Something they will become more used to as they continue their careers as petty thieves. Maybe, just maybe it isn't the parents fault, maybe it isn't the kids fault, how about the education system taking a bit of the blame. But then schools don't have to worry about their consumer appeal, the law makes them turn up.
April 17, 2007
As I have been saying
Environment Secretary David Miliband will not run for the Labour leadership, once Tony Blair stands down, the BBC understands.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson said Mr Miliband wanted to end speculation he would run against Gordon Brown.
Mr Miliband told the BBC: "I'm not wavering...I am not a candidate."
Half a pound of tuppenny rice..
Millions of patients are "unlikely" to see any "significant clinical benefits" from the National Health Service's £12.4 billion national computer system by the time all of the money has been spent in 2014, MPs warn today.
Half a pound of treacle.
The Commons public accounts committee found that pilot projects on the National Programme for IT were already two years late and there were fears that the project would cost £20 billion - more than three times the original contract cost.
That’s the way the money goes,
Edward Leigh, the committee's chairman, said: "This is the biggest IT project in the world and it is turning into the biggest disaster. This report is a massive wake-up call to the highest reaches of Government. It goes right to Cabinet level."
Pop goes the weasel....
Shiny suited politicians just love shiny suited IT salesmen who promise to take all their problems away if only they will invest in the latest shiny machines, so much easy than tackling the problems directly. A billion here, a billion there, soon you are starting to talk real money...
A plague o' both your houses!
Labour’s rating has sunk to a level previously seen in the early 1980s during Michael Foot’s troubled leadership.
But although the Conservatives have led for a year the survey suggests that their leader, David Cameron, has still not made the breakthrough to give him an overall majority at the next general election....
The steady rise of minority parties is a worry for both parties. The number voting for “others” has moved from 8-9 per cent at the last election to 10-11 per cent last November, and is now around 14 per cent.
Still with their cosy deal to grab taxpayer money to keep the old parties afloat they'll be alright, for a while...
April 16, 2007
The Miliband Love-in
There Is An Alternative is his shiny new supporters blog - Dave we love you!
And The Telegraph reports:
Bring on the challengers, says Brown
Mr Murdoch's media empire, much of which has been broadly supportive of Mr Brown, might support a challenge from Mr Miliband.
The Left-leaning Guardian newspaper is also considering supporting a challenge by Mr Miliband.
All we need now is for us to be told he has the sweetest soft downy peachy bottom for me to lose my breakfast over the keyboard as the ABG - Anyone But Gordon - crowd push their reluctant hero forward.
Beyond the pale
There were even worse social sins, such as using the word "toilet" not "lavatory", saying "pleased to meet you" rather than "how do you do?", and "pardon" rather than "what?".
Fair enough then - the use of the word "toilet" is inexcusable, as bad as "serviette" - even worse is the phrase - "go toilet" as in "do you want to go toilet" as teachers are wont to say - is it a noun or a verb they are trying to use? I have a strong inclination to push their prissy little heads down the bog everytime I hear it.
April 15, 2007
Local CO2 levels - where is the data?
Regular readers will remember that I highlighted Ernst-Georg Beck's paper and data on 180 Years of atmospheric CO2 Gas Analysis by Chemical Methods which suggested that past CO2 levels varied and were higher than the "official" figures and that the historical figures have been suppressed.
Critics such as Eli Rabett point out :Coby Beck's A Few Things Illconsidered where Coby dealt with Diplom Beck's complete misreading of early CO2 mixing ratio records. If you don't want to go read either post, the measurements were real, but they also were about as irrelevant as measuring CO2 at the top of a smokestack and thinking that it would be representative of the atmosphere. If that does not make sense for you, go read the posts or Charles Keeling's history of the Mauna Loa CO2 measurements.
So the story is that we are to just trust the steadily rising graph from Mauna Loa - local measurements elsewhere are likely to be widely fluctuating especially near conurbations.
I thought it would be interesting to see what some of the many thousand of monitoring stations data looks like to see if they show how unreliable their data is. If they continue to show the sort of variations that Beck found in his historical data that could be compared to the "global figure". Because the variation is meant to be due to local conditions, ie whether the wind is blowing from where the cement plant is, then we should be able to see that the data independently varies. Of course if it is a global phenomenon then it wouldn't. (The graph of CO2 growth also shows a strange variability in rate of growth, some years 1%, some years 3%, why?)
So I started searching and found lots of Google hits for local testing, lots for local emission data but datasets of what the CO2 levels are, I can't find.
(Apart from Phoenix AZ where there is a an urban CO2 Dome which contributes a small amount of warming.)
So where is the data? Surely if you want the good people of say Oxford to cut their CO2 emissions putting "the scores on the doors" would be a good idea. They collect the figures so why is it:
"Statistics on local levels of green house gases such as CO2 levels are not currently available."
I'm not picking on Oxford - the story is the same everywhere I looked - why? What do the figures show?
UPDATE: A comment from Ernst Beck:
Please look at this graph from Schneider at al. ( on my suppl. website).
Modern ice core temperature records vary , the IPCC ones do not. And my
historical CO2 data fit to the varying part, the Mauna Loa do not.
Dumb and Dumber
New science A-levels are being "dumbed down" to such an extent that some courses will demand no prior knowledge of the subject.
Draft syllabuses for chemistry and biology published by one exam board state that the first part of the qualification, the AS-level, can be tackled without the candidate having studied the subject before.
They complain that content is being dumped so that the A-level will be accessible to pupils taking the general science GCSE, which has been heavily criticised since it was introduced in September.
Dubbed "pop-science", the GCSE has replaced the study of fundamental scientific principles with debate about "science-related" issues, such as nuclear power, nutrition and the use of drugs.
Teachers fear that the A-level is now going the same way.
So they make the GCSE a joke, and then the little darlings who have been conned into thinking they have been taught real science can't do the A level. So they have to dumb that down as well. And two years later the universities will need to "adjust" their courses for the poor bloody kids let down yet again by the Education Industry.
Local Pubs For Local People
Eight-thirty on a Saturday night and the pubs are filling up in Lewes.. There's a pub to suit most tastes in the East Sussex town. But the most popular of the lot, the Lewes Arms, which is normally packed on a Saturday, is all but empty. The only regulars here tonight are standing outside in the drizzle with placards and leaflets, politely requesting potential customers to boycott both the 18th-century pub and its owner since 1998, Greene King plc.
The main room, with its bare boards, sash windows, open fireplace, high-backed settle, dartboard and notice declaring that anyone using a mobile phone must buy a drink for everyone in the pub, is deserted. So is the backroom with its old photos and naval memorabilia. Only the tiny front bar, with a window giving on to the lane leading to the town's Norman castle, is occupied - half-a-dozen loud characters who seem to have been there some time. One spots my notebook and bellows: "Wanker!" The thirsty stranger might conclude it is better to go elsewhere.
Hundreds of regulars already have. They have been boycotting the 220-year-old pub since December 11, when Greene King, despite a petition signed by 1,200 locals, including Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, withdrew Lewesians' favourite tipple, Harveys Bitter, from sale.
Harveys has been brewed a few hundred metres away, beside the River Ouse, by an independent family firm since 1790. It was voted best bitter in 2005 and 2006 at the Great British Beer Festival. In the Lewes Arms, as a "guest beer", it outsold Greene King's own IPA, brewed in faraway Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, at least four-toone. But GK, as supplier as well as retailer, made more from every pint of IPA sold than Harveys. Get rid of Harveys, the thinking went, and the locals, after a bit of grumbling, would switch to IPA and GK would make more money. But it hasn't worked out that way. ...
Takeover by Greene King usually spells death for local brewers. In 1999 it absorbed Morlands of Abingdon, closed the brewery and moved production of famous names such as Old Speckled Hen and Ruddles to Bury St Edmunds (or "BSE" as GK-haters call it). The Ridleys family brewery in Essex was acquired and closed in July 2005; Hardys and Hansons followed. ...
Ruddles, Kimberley, Old Speckled Hen and Greene King IPA... they are all brewed at the same giant plant in Suffolk.
But this dispute is not just about beer. Across Britain the traditional "community" local is under threat as never before....
All this character seems in danger of being lost. ... "The most important thing about it is that all the activities have been devised and run by the locals themselves. They haven't been imposed by managers 200 miles away deciding, say, that because it's St Patrick's Day all the staff are going to dress as leprechauns in standard uniforms issued from headquarters."
Pub owners are also worried about the smoking ban that comes into force in Wales on April 2 and in England on July 1...840,000 who currently don't visit pubs because they don't like smoky atmospheres say they will after July 1. Greene King intends to encourage them, according to its chief executive, Rooney Anand, by pumping "industrial scale air fresheners" through pubs as part of what it calls "Operation Clean and Fresh".
Anyone who prefers the aroma of an industrial air freshener to the natural smell of a pub can piss off, and take the Suffolk horse urine with them, whatever it is labelled as. If you don't like a village pub as it now is then the village pub still wont like you after your prissy laws have stopped old Tom enjoying half an ounce of shag in the corner as he has done for fifty years.
April 14, 2007
My car broke down last night so I wasted an hour waiting for the engine to cool down. I was bored, I had nothing to read, I thought I really ought to keep a book in the car I can dip into for such times, or anyother time I'm sat waiting in the car. But what book? Obviously "dippable into", interesting but not so interesting that I will be happy to leave it unfinished, until the next time I have time to read a chapter or so.
Your suggestions please.
NSFW - the ultimate act of good mothering.
What I am vexed with is the idea that, by having an early abortion, a woman is somehow being unfemale and, indeed, unmotherly. That the absolute essence of womanhood and maternity is to sustain life, at all costs, whatever the situation.
My belief in the ultimate sociological, emotional and practical necessity for abortion did, as I have mentioned before, become even stronger after I had my two children. It is only after you have had a nine-month pregnancy, laboured to get the child out, fed it, cared for it, sat with it until 3am, risen with it at 6am, swooned with love for it and been reduced to furious tears by it that you really understand just how important it is for a child to be wanted. And, possibly even more importantly, to be wanted by a reasonably sane, stable mother. Last year I had an abortion, and I can honestly say it was one of the least difficult decisions of my life...I knew I would see my existing two daughters less, my husband less, my career would be hamstrung and, most importantly of all, I was just too tired to do it all again.
...I would like to see a time when abortion is considered an intelligent, logical, humble, compassionate thing to do. I would like abortion to be considered as, perversely, one of the ultimate acts of good mothering.
As Larkin said:
This Be The Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.
The question is, just because you believe you will fuck up is that reason enough to abort the child?
As an unwanted bastard my answer has to be NO, your mileage may vary.
April 13, 2007
Hey Hey AAG, How many kids did you kill today?
...The biofuel revolution’s unpleasant negative consequence was first felt south of Rio Grande, when the escalating price of corn affected a food staple. Mexico’s tortilla inflation crisis is spreading north to the heartland of rib-eye steak and chicken wings. The USDA predicts that food prices will rise by up to 3.5 per cent this year as farmers rein in output in response to feedstock costs.
In Washington, the International Monetary Fund added its warning about the consequences of a mass conversion of food crops into fuel. Mounting political panic over carbon emissions has encouraged politicians in European and America to raise targets for the biofuel content in a litre of petrol.
Food prices rose by 10 per cent worldwide in 2006, said the IMF in its World Economic Report, owing to a surge in corn, wheat and soybean prices. The pressure on prices will increase, says the IMF. The EU’s target of a minimum biofuel content of 10 per cent will require 18 per cent of agricultural land to be set aside for road fuel production.
Of course for us a small rise in the price of food as we pay tribute to the suzerainty of the eco-gods is merely inconvenient. But as the bell curve of food prices moves to the right those poor bastards on a dollar a day starve a little more. But a few more dead black babies aren't nearly as important as feeling good about your carbon footprint, are they?
Even The Turkeys Wont Vote For Gordon
Getting Ready To Rumble
The May 3 ballots in more than 300 English councils, as well as the four-yearly polls for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, take place at a critical time.
Voters could be about to revise the political map of the UK, with huge implications for Labour, the Tories and even the 300-year-old Union between England and Scotland.
Outside London, which has no elections, and Northern Ireland, which voted recently for its restored assembly, almost every voter in the country will be entitled to go the the polls. The potential ramifications are huge.
Down here in the south we are just looking at the Dave effect to unseat some Lib Dems local councillors (Lib Dem councillors are often scary bearded (both the men and the women) fanatics so a soft cuddly Tory who "cares" is a friendlier choice). Up North the Tories don't show much sign of the break though they need - it is the acid test for Dave.
Wales has enjoyed a Labour lead Assembly, so no wonder Peter Hain is worried that the voters will not rush to renew their mandate.
And Scotland, ah Scotland - will the SNP give Labour the bloody nose it deserves?
And then that opens up the Gordon question with Tony out the door - the ABGs don't want the Loser leading but like an autistic kid with a playstation you aren't going to wrestle the prize away from easily.
I think I'm going to enjoy the 4th of May - maybe a decent bottle of something should be put aside to drink as we watch the catfight.
April 12, 2007
Update on "Health Care"
After travelling round Wiltshire on Monday night from one hospital to another the eldest son spent a day being observed before the Doc decided to have a dig around and found the problem to be a twisted gut. Snipped out the dead tissue and hopefully it is all in the pink again. He is in a lot of pain but has access to more opiates than the average Swindon six former. So fingers crossed over the next few days.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Des Browne's ability to survive as Defence Secretary was in serious doubt last night after Tony Blair and a fellow minister cut him adrift by criticising the way the Iran hostages were allowed to sell their stories to the press.
A mistake for sure but compared to the mistakes that this government has made and continues to make that cost troops their lives and limbs it is a minor one. But to Tony getting the PR wrong is a far worse error; he gets to see the headlines, but not the grieving widows.
FORMER Army major Charles Ingram was today found guilty of assaulting a 13-year-old youth....
He said after the verdict: "I just cannot belive they came to this verdict after the main prosecution witness lied. It means every yob in he country can get away with it.'' Giving evidence via a video link, the boy had told prosecutor Colin Meeke that he and four friends were walking along the High Street when he saw Ingram jogging towards him.
The boy said he was going to cough at Ingram as he went past, a joke in reference to Ingram's conviction for fraud on the TV quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The boy said he covered his mouth to cough, Ingram ran on a few yards, stopped then jogged back, grabbed him by his clothing and pushed him against the wall of a house.
But when questioned by Mr Berry, the boy agreed a lot of what he had said in the statement he had made to police and told Mr Meeke in court was a lie.
He agreed he had not covered his mouth but had coughed into Ingram's face, at less than an arm's length.
Charles Ingram said ": He assaulted me by deliberately aiming a single wet cough into my face and spreading his germs onto me.”
I saw his tongue during the cough and despite wearing iPod earphones I heard the cough as a sharp, loud crack.
"This shocked and intimidated me. Despite the peak of my baseball cap, I felt his spit spray into my face.”
"I wanted to go back and have a word with him because I didn't want it to appear that what he had done was acceptable behaviour."
"I thought he was going to push me against the people behind me and possibly into the road and I grabbed his clothing to prevent him continuing his assault on me."
"The things I have heard about this boy are absolutely shocking. This boy was not born to do these things to me. He learned them from his parents."
Ingram was given an absolute discharge.
Charles Ingram is no hero of mine but this conviction is an absoloute mockery. Only days ago Home secretary John Reid said: “Tackling anti-social behaviour, creating a more respectful society and re-building safer communities is a priority for this government.
“And I am heartened that every day more and more members of the public are working with the police and local councils right across the country to take action against anti-social behaviour and stand up for the rights of the law-abiding majority."
And today's lesson is when a yob spits in your face is to turn the other cheek or face prosecution.
April 11, 2007
Miliband - can he fix it?
I call it the politics of "I can". The era of "I can" is the culmination of the long decline of deference and automatic authority. It is the late flowering of individual autonomy and control. ...
In the battle against climate change, an "I can" society enables citizens to become producers as well as consumers of energy. Within ten years, all new homes will need to sell energy back to the national grid, with citizens getting a fair price for their electricity. The power stations of the future will draw energy from a million roofs, rather than just a central generator. "I can" must be combined with a sense of "we can"
It has taken me a while to identify the underlying political philosophy underpinning David's bold new approach but a few minutes of babysitting has given me the answer:
Bob the Builder!
Can we fix it?
Bob the Builder!
Yes we can!
Scoop, Muck and Dizzy,
And Roley too.
Lofty and Wendy
Join the crew.
Bob and the gang
Have so much fun.
They get the job done.
Bob the Builder!
Can we fix it?
Bob the Builder!
Yes we can! (I think so!)
Gordo offers young boy sweeties to stay quiet
Gordon Brown is considering a plan to neutralise the threat of a possible leadership challenge from David Miliband by offering him the chance to run a new "eco super-ministry", it emerged yesterday.
Oh come on! Keep up at the back. We have been saying here for ages that all little David wants was a new shiny toy to play with while he watches Gordo crash and burn. He has crayoned into his activity chart "PM-in-waiting" only after the next election.
Filthy lucre cleans rivers
A cri de coeur from the Salmon at Sea project, published this week, claims that a combination of climate change and illegal trawling has reduced this most glamorous of game fish to a shadow of its former self, and that unless steps are taken to save it, not only will a famous species face extinction, but the multimillion pound angling industry will also be placed at risk.
As with all conservation-disaster stories, there is an element of hype in all this — behind every anguished call for help lies a research project seeking funds. But the story of the salmon and its apparent decline tells us a great deal about the state of our conservation industry and contains a paradox that it would be wrong to ignore. The fact is that, far from facing extinction, the salmon has made a remarkable comeback — in some rivers at least.....
Reports coming in this spring are optimistic about the prospects for 2007. The figures may not quite match the miraculous catches that were sometimes recorded 50 years ago, but they are very far from the disaster that was once predicted for the Atlantic salmon — and fly in the face of those who predicted that farmed salmon would rapidly wipe out the wild variety.
The improvements have been brought about entirely by man, not nature. Huge amounts of money have been invested in buying out offshore commercial fisheries that were catching salmon returning from their feeding grounds at sea, thus preventing them breeding in freshwater rivers. Drift nets have been banned, river mouths are no longer netted as they once were, millions of pounds have been invested in cleaning river water, repairing banks and fencing them off from cattle and sheep. Further afield, the extraordinary efforts of one man, Orri Vigfússon, chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF), have succeeded in mobilising international opinion and raising millions of dollars to buy out commercial fishing around the coasts of Iceland, Norway and Greenland, thus protecting the feeding grounds and migration routes of wild salmon and ensuring that they return to the rivers from which they first set out.
This has meant persuading commercial fishermen to hold back from putting to sea, paying Danish trawlermen to stop fishing for sand eels, and pointing out the impact on the food-chain of overfishing in sensitive parts of the North Sea. Vigfússon’s campaign to save the salmon is by no means ended, but it has achieved remarkable results. Speaking from his headquarters in Reykjavik, he says: “The future of the Atlantic salmon is looking brighter with every passing month. There is no doubt in my mind that we have the answer to the salmon’s problems. All we have to do is put them into practice.”
The salmon is by no means saved — climate changes could yet overwhelm the best efforts of the NASF — but the irony is that this massive rescue operation has been brought about not by conservationists but by those whose interest lies in catching the very species they are determined to save. Those who have invested time, money and enormous diplomatic expertise in preserving the salmon have done so because they have a passion for sport rather than for nature.
So the unsurprising lesson is that to improve our rivers rather than depend wooly hatted eco-freaks we should rely on economic drivers such as this:
More and more anglers are chasing after Britain's improving freshwater fish stocks - and nowhere is that more true than with the king of gamefish, the salmon. Prices are once again approaching their 1980s boom high. In those days, each salmon in the gamebook over a five-year average added £15,000 to the capital value of some Scottish estates.
Vantage Land is offering a unique opportunity to buy around 77 acres of flat land for sale in separate lots on the banks of the River Axe, including fishing rights on two of the lots.
A catch of just half a dozen salmon will more than match the £79,800 asking price for the 8-acre lot 5 and the £35,000 asking price for the 11 -acre lot 9.....
Difficult and disruptive pupils should be praised and given prizes to encourage them to behave, Government guidance said yesterday....
But schools must avoid discriminating against particular racial groups when punishing children for misbehaving in class.
As examples, the document said: "Gold rings and earrings are often viewed as an intrinsic part of Gypsy/Roma identity; Sikh pupils may be required by their religion to carry a kirpan (ceremonial knife)."
... teachers are told to be aware of the risk of certain pupils being "over disciplined" through misinterpretation of their behaviour, such as a "loud" social style.
Ah - I think they mean Chav culture where screaming at each other is the primary form of communication apart from grunting - nice to see it is recognised alongside the knife carriers and didicoys as being a valid and respected culture.
April 10, 2007
Last night (Easter Monday Public Holiday) at 10:00 we noticed one of our elderly cats couldn't stand up, rang the vets who cheerfully opened up the surgery and by half past the poor old Moppet was being examined by the vet in spotless surroundings. Sadly she had a thrombosis and we had to have her put to sleep as that seemed to be the kindest choice of the options we were given. We brought her home by 11:00
Over in another part of town my eldest son was striken by severe abdominal pain down on the lower right side. The doctor was rung at 10:00 but of course was unavailable, at 11:30 his mother was still waiting to see if she was to be allowed to take him to hospital that night to be examined.
Says it all about health care doesn't it.
"Going over the top" - Gordon would love to but his diary is full that day.
Gordon Brown will today place himself at the head of Labour's campaign for the Scottish Parliament elections - despite warnings from MPs that a poor result could dent his leadership ambitions....
Some Labour MPs believe Mr Brown risks opening the door to a challenge by a leading Labour figure such as David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, if he identifies himself too strongly with unsuccessful campaigns north and south of the Border.
Mr Miliband has suggested in private that he may challenge the Chancellor, but only if the local election campaigns in England and polls for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly go disastrously.
Sources close to Mr Brown denied that he would take a low key role in the elections.
"Gordon is very much involved," one source said. "He has been instrumental in devising the entire strategy on how to make the economic case against the Nationalists.
"There is no truth whatsoever to suggestions that he will be taking a back seat."
Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. He needs to show the ABG crowd he has the balls to be a leader, but he is desperate to avoid being identified too closely with what he will call Jack Whatshisnames election, just as it will be Tony's Local elections; at least the failures will be, the rare successes will be purely down to his masterful deployment of economic data....
AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would free the people of England from being "bossed around" by Scottish MPs, Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, said yesterday.
Using an interview on the BBC's Today show to take the independence argument to a UK audience, Mr Salmond dismissed as "ridiculous" fears over separate currency, passports and border controls.
He said: "I think a lot of people in England can see the advantages of being able to decide on things like foundation hospitals or top-up fees without being bossed around by Scottish Labour MPs, who seem intent on forcing unwanted policies down the throats of the people of England."
Haven't I always said what a good man he is speaking sense again.
Barcoding the acres
A picture of who owns Britain could soon be revealed in the biggest survey of land ownership in 130 years.
Thousands of aristocrats and farmers who own large swathes of the country are being asked to register their ownership under a new campaign by the Land Registry.
More than 40 per cent of land in England and Wales has not been publicly registered, including more than half of all rural land.
But tighter rules to be considered by the registry this year could see more landowners forced to register their ownership.....
Kevin Cahill, author of Who Owns Britain, estimated that around 50 per cent of those not registered, including some of the biggest landowners in England and Wales, will refuse to register unless they are forced.
He said: "Only the very public-spirited among these landowners will voluntarily register. People say they want to guard their privacy. But suppose I happen to take my privacy very seriously and don't want to register my property? I don't have any choice."
And why wouldn't you want to make public what land you owned in this glorious egalitarian new Britain? It is only "reasonable" and surely you have nothing to hide...
Something Fishy About Miliband
More than one million sea anglers will be forced for the first time to pay to fish under Government plans for a licensing system.
Ministers are proposing charges to cover beach anglers, boat fishing and charter trips, overturning a British tradition enshrined in common law nearly 800 years ago.
David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, wants to use the licence fee...
Captain Haddock of this fair shire is a keen sea angler, and not one to mince his words, I can't wait...
Another one through the door.
More than a million motorists a year face having bailiffs force their way into their homes to collect unpaid parking fines under legislation before MPs....
Alan Clark, a bailiff and a member of the British Parking Association, played down the threat to motorists.
"These powers would be used very rarely. We would not seek to use them unless it was necessary.
"The modern approach is to try to encourage people to pay by persuasion."
Funny how they always say " new powers, used very rarely, only for extreme cases, nothing to worry about, trust us" and then somehow it doesn't quite work out like that...
April 9, 2007
Sometimes I sits and thinks, sometimes I just thinks
Hmm - Bloggers who make me think?
All the usual ones - but let me highlight
as ones you might not know.
The Government should introduce cigarette-style health warnings on all advertising for air travel, holidays that include flights, and at airports, according to new research to be published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr).
When I saw the headline that holidays should get a "Health Warning" I thought too bloody right. It must be like the pain of childbirth, otherwise why would people keep doing it if the horror wasn't forgotten instantly. How can you forget, the arguments over packing, the bloody queue on the motorway for the privilege of parking in a field in Slough where some chav "parking security operative" will fill his boring hours racing your car round the perimeter. The check-in, mewling babies, screaming kids and the prospect of the Marigolds from a sweaty fat uniformed goon. Then three hours wandering past tourist tat trying to avoid the gourmet experience that is dining in a Garfunkels with plastic knives and forks. It is a relief when you are finally shoehorned into a still warm seat on an ageing aeroplane and surrounded by the tattooed and drunken members of some extended family splurging their benefit money that you provided on a fortnight of more drinking and insulting foreigners than they normally manage on a saturday night. And when you arrive at your wind swept, fly blown , filthy concrete wasteland of a hotel all you get is undercooked anaemic chicken and ice cold piss water, not a chance of a cup of tea nor a spot of fresh milk. You then get burnt, blistered, ripped off and you end up welcoming the solitude of the kharzi where your guts are disintegrating but at least you don't have to listen to John and Maureen going on about their bloody conservatory on their new-build in Salford. And the return trip is just the same but worse.
But of course I was wrong.
Simon Retallack, ippr Head of Climate Change, said:
“The evidence that aviation damages the atmosphere is just as clear as the evidence that smoking kills. We know that smokers notice health warnings on cigarettes, and we have to tackle our addiction to flying in the same way.
Oh it is that sort of "research" - where thinly veiled prejudices are dressed up as facts, where condescending smart-arses plan how to command and control every last facet of John and Maureen's lives. Piss off "ippr" - when you have learnt how to use the shift key and do capital letters like the big boys do, why don't you then try to write a grown-up report.
Welcome to Dresden on Mersey
John Prescott's heavily criticised ｣5 billion scheme to renegerate the inner cities by demolishing thousands of Victorian terrace homes is to be the subject of an official inquiry.
The National Audit Office is to examine the Pathfinder regeneration scheme after Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, last week unleashed the bulldozers on 1,000 terrace homes in Liverpool.
By approving compulsory purchase orders for three inner city areas of the city, Miss Kelly has effectively signalled that she will continue with the policy devised by Mr Prescott in the face of opposition from his own Urban Task Force, led by the architect Lord Rogers.
Similar projects are under way in other parts of the North of England and Midlands.
The Government maintains that the demolition and replacement with modern housing will bring about economic and environmental improvements for the areas concerned.
Meanwhile in Prescott's spiritual homeland his policies are being recognised as having failed.
After two decades of promises to revitalise its former communist east, Germany has abandoned swathes of the ex-GDR to poverty and depopulation, a scathing new report has revealed.
The trend, which has seen hundreds of thousands flee westwards from the neglect, is so bad that the old communist east is now studded with "ghost towns", it says.
The report, released late last month and called the Future Atlas 2007, is the most detailed examination of 439 towns and regions in Germany, and shatters the pledges made almost 20 years ago.
It reveals that investment worth hundreds of billions of pounds in selected eastern "hotspots" such as Dresden and Potsdam has helped resuscitate their once downtrodden economies.
But beyond these much publicised symbols of success, it says, is an economic desert where the concrete tenement blocks of communist times endure, but the communities, industries and jobs do not.
April 8, 2007
Making a Proper Charlie of the Law
The government is predicting that some 15m people will revolt against Tony Blair’s controversial ID card scheme by refusing to produce the new cards or provide personal data on demand.
The policeman rounded on me: “Look, who are you? Can you just move along?” I refused and pointed out that I wasn’t breaking the law. He became contrite and lowered his voice. “No, you’re not breaking the law, I’m just asking you out of courtesy if you’d move along because you’re adding to this disturbance.” I refused again and he said into his radio: “There are two of them holding an illegal demonstration. Can I have back-up?”
At this point, again to a vast array of boos from the crowd, another armed policeman emerged and asked Charlie his name and if he had any ID. A group of lads who looked like builders began to laugh, and one called out: “What’s his name? His name’s Charlie, you muppet!”
Again the swelling audience fell about. The policeman pleaded with Neil to move a few yards away to stop the crowd blocking the entrance to No 10. Charlie shuffled along, only for another two officers to approach him and ask again if he had any ID. Neil let go of his sign, revealing that it was chained to his wrist (so it wouldn’t get confiscated like the last one) — cue more laughter from the crowd — and began theatrically to look through his pockets. Eventually he found a scrap of paper which he unfolded as if he had all the time in the world and turned it's contents towards the crowd. “NO COMMENT” was written on it in large black letters.
There must have been 50 people at this point and they all began to cheer....
Taking us for cabbage looking
Households across the country are to receive a “green pledge card” and leaflet from the government about how they can help to combat climate change and do more for the environment.
Families will be encouraged to buy energy-efficient light bulbs, drive their cars less, cut down on short-haul flights, recycle their household waste, properly turn off televisions and computers, buy more seasonal and locally produced food — and even consider adopting changes to their diet.
The pledge card, modelled on Labour’s general election motif, will set out what the government is doing to save energy and tackle climate change. But on the reverse it will set out what ministers expect of the public, listing five areas where individuals can help protect the environment.
The move comes after a Whitehall review concluded that the government’s message on climate change was being “diluted” by other organisations and that ministers needed to “simplify” their message about what people could do to help.
The plans are being put forward by David Miliband,
...who hopes to be "Prime Minister in waiting" after the next election.
Go to the ants thous sluggards!
Teachers are calling for secondary schools to close for an extra two days so they can prepare for the "overload" of new initiatives next year.
How about the lazy sods actually doing a bit of work in their "holidays"?
The Disadvantages of Being Educated
The Telegraph reports in shocked and awed tones that graduates without teacher training qualifications are being hired as "teaching instructors" and being sent to schools as supply teachers for up to 12 months. To which my only answer is: "And you say that like it's a bad thing?"
Quite frankly I think I'd much rather know that a child of mine was being taught physics by someone with a physics degree rather than somebody with a degree in "education" with a few evening classes in science as an afterthought. Hell! Back in the good old days there was no such thing as a teacher training college. Teachers were recruited straight from university and expected to get on with the job.
Of course in those days classes were generally well behaved and teachers had some measure of sanction over their charges. But since I doubt the modern training establishments offer prospective teachers much help in that direction anyway, what is their point? From where I sit, their only perpose is to brainwash successive generations of otherwise rational people with the latest doctrinal fad to have gained favour with the establishment.
And I am not alone. The former Chief Inspector of Schools, Chris Woodhead, is very disparaging on the subject of teacher training colleges. He has expressed the view that education might be better served if such establishments were abolished. And I suspect that he does know something about education. He's now Professor of Education at the University of Buckingham and chairman of Cognita a company that specialises in starting and running private schools.
So sod it. Far from decrying this turn of events, we should be cheering it. Maybe with a few more untainted minds in the teaching ranks something positive may come of this.
No point in me penning my own response when Mr RM has channelled my thoughts exactly. Call it research not plagiarism, that's what trainee teachers do.
"John wants David to stand against Gordon," said a close friend of Mr Reid. "He believes he will do so - and that if he does, he can win. It will take balls to stand. But there is no use saying 'wait till next time', because there may not be a next time. John is making it clear he does not want to stand himself. He will be 60 next month. But if nobody else does, he will, as a last resort."
There will be a "next time" - in about two years time when Gordon has lost the election. John knows he is "damaged goods" after the Home Office crises, he may bluster but he knows he can't win against Gordon, the best he can do is keep his job, and Gordon might promise him that to ensure he doesn't stand. The ABG faction is getting desperate in their search for a kamikaze candidate.
April 7, 2007
RFC 1, entitled "Host Software", was written by Steve Crocker of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and published on April 7, 1969
And Happy Birthday to Mrs Englishman, my lovely child bride.
Lusosphere shrinks, Anglosphere grows.
East Timor, one of the world’s newest and poorest nations, will apply to join the Commonwealth, a decision that is already provoking opposition in the former Portuguese colony.....
The proposal will dismay Portugal, which has gone to great effort to preserve East Timor as a Lusophone enclave, despite criticisms that adoption of Portuguese as the country’s official language has crippled the country’s education and justice systems....
Mozambique, which has no colonial links to Britain, is the only non-English-speaking country allowed into the Commonwealth, under special dispensation, largely because Nelson Mandela asked for it. The country, which gained independence in 1975 after almost five centuries as a Portuguese colony, became a member in 1995.
Membership of the Commonwealth “club” gives members access to scholarships and other educational opportunities as well as the chance to rub shoulders with countries from around the globe at summits and international get-togethers.....
Nothing wrong with Portugal, oldest ally, decent drop of grog and habitat of the Worstall and all that; but I'm pleased to note the desire for its ex-colonies to join the Commonwealth. The Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa might be a better place for a dinner but the real action is elsewhere. If only the UK realised it as well.
April 6, 2007
Anyone suggesting a similarity wil be branded a heretic and taken outside.
Global warming and melting polar ice caps are not just problems here on Earth. Mars is facing similar global changes, researchers say, with temperatures across the red planet rising by around 0.65 degrees over the last few decades.
Meanwhile back on Earth: Attribution of recent climate change - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Over the past five decades there has been a global warming of approximately 0.65 ｰC (1.17 ｰF) at the Earth's surface
The trigger for the changes on Mars are, however, totally different from those mechanisms controlling and influencing climate here on Earth.
Christensen cautions against drawing any parallels between the warming on Mars and on Earth. He said: "The more we learn about Mars, the more intuition it gives us about Earth, but the systems are fundamentally different."
Different do you hear, different I said.
"They're looking at a piece of the cycle, other processes could turn this around to a place where the ice-caps start growing again. You can't take 10 years of data and extrapolate out to 1,000 years."
Sorry is that Earth or Martian Global Warming Science you are talking about now? - I'm getting confused.
Emma Watson Photo Search Results
Apologies to the hundreds of visitors from Live Search Images: Emma Watson - this isn't Emma Watson (or even the Emma B I thought it was).
I'm not sure why the search engine thinks it is, but now you are here please feel free to wander about and pick up some tit bits.
....advertising which targets children should be more tightly controlled because it encourages poor diets and general ill-health.
The call comes from the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers in Harrogate, where delegates will also discuss education reforms.
I'm more worried about the effects of subjecting children to the views of members of the NUT..
Do you think education and health should be privatised?
Have you added your name to the Europe-wide petition to protect our key public services?
Key public services, known in the EU as services of general interest (SGIs) or services of general economic interest (SGEIs), are being undermined by liberalisation, privatisation, and the introduction of free market rules. SGIs have a decisive influence on the quality of people's lives, and are central to social, economic and regional cohesion in Europe.
Quick Iain Dale Quiz
My mistake - what is Iain Dale then?
It is the day that farm workers traditionally planted their potatoes on, these day the tradition on farms seems to be that it is the day we fill out our Single Farm Payment application form, and wonder whether the RPA will cock it up for another year. (One little mistake by the farmer filling out the form can cost him thousands, one large mistake by the Minister gives them promotion.) For those of you without this remunerative chore to do may I suggest a little baking as being good for your soul:
Friends of the Amarone: Italian Easter Bread "Ciambellone" - a traditional Italian Easter recipe.
UPDATE: Well they seem to have turned out well, ideal with a good bitter cup of coffee:
April 5, 2007
You are all invited to attend the fourth CEIC global citizenship education
seminar to take place on Tuesday 17th April in room 1WN 3.17.University of Bath
4.45pm-6.15pm (Tea & coffee from 4.30pm):
We will be welcoming PAUL TARC from the University of York, Toronto.
TITLE: What is the 'International' of the International Baccalaureate?
Learning from the past, from what present, toward what futures?
This seminar will describe and discuss the conceptual approach and a number
of significant lines of analysis/findings of his dissertation research that
is broadly aimed at illuminating limits and possibilities of international
education (as a form of schooling) in a globalizing world. Specifically, he
has taken the "international" of IB as his object of analysis to illuminate
how ideas and ideals of international education, as historically contingent,
have shifted in the last four decades in response to world change.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score 22.7 - in other words it is pretentious Edu-bollocks, no wonder these "universities" can't turn out decent teachers. Any "teacher" worth their salt would slap this pretentious prat around the face with a stinking kipper and go down the pub instead.
Education for All and Education for One Miserable Scotsman in Particular
Everyday 80 million children worldwide do not go to school. Every one of them should have the right to a free education, and when I say that I am thinking of hundreds of young people desperate for the chance of schooling that I have seen with my own eyes.
A few months ago, at Abuja in Nigeria, I met children sitting three to a desk in crowded classrooms, lucky if they had an exercise book or pens to themselves and heard of dozens more children turned away at the door because there was no more room.
A few miles up the road, I was told, an Islamic madrassa was offering education free of charge — in far better classrooms, and to anyone who wanted it.
But the price of education in that madrassa, and in others like it, was indoctrination...
So you are against "faith" schools - fair enough but why then do you continue..
At Gleneagles today, Kofi Annan, Hilary Benn, Jack McConnell and I will meet faith groups and charities to reflect..
It isn't faith schools you are against, it is just you want the kids to be indoctrinated by the State and the particular set of values you expouse.
..by investing in education for all, we can make a reality of our goal that by 2015 every child in the world should be able to go to school.
It will have to be education free of charge. Because we know that when Kenya made education free of charge one million children appeared from nowhere to enrol for school
May I suggest instead of spending the day with three of the world's prize windbags you spend the day reading some of the material from the excellent E.G. West Centre, based in the School of Education, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. The UK’s only university research centre dedicated to understanding the role of choice, competition and entrepreneurship in the delivery of "Education for All".
As he started on about Nigeria:
Private and public schooling in low-income areas of Lagos State, Nigeria: A census and comparative survey A census and survey of schools in selected poor areas of Lagos State explored the nature and extent of private education, and compared inputs to public and private schooling. Of all schools (71%) were found to be private, with more unregistered private than government and registered private schools. It was estimated that 33% of school children were enrolled in private unregistered schools, and 75% in private schools in general. Teaching activity was found to be considerably higher in private than government schools, and teacher absenteeism was lowest in private schools. Most school inputs showed either comparable levels of provision in government and private schools, or superiority in private schools.
And he mentioned Kenya:
The rise and fall of Kenya’s independent school
movement suggest that comments such as those
expressed by the Provisional Commissioner for Kikuyu
province in 1929, ‘It is indisputable that the Kikuyu
people, in their present stage of development, are
incapable of organising, financing, and running
efficient schools without European supervision’, were
entirely misplaced. Just as E. G. West has previously
shown that the vast majority of families in midnineteenth-
century England were capable of financing
and operating their own schools without government
support, so too were the indigenous communities in
Kenya during the first half of the twentieth century.
These findings also help to shed light on the
importance of independently controlled schools in
a free and democratic society. In Kenya’s struggle
against colonial rule it was their schools which first
gained independence providing the momentum for
future reforms. Finally, on becoming President of
Kenya in 1964, Jomo Kenyatta championed the
Harambee spirit of self-help which he believed
the future development of Kenya would depend
upon. It is now clear where the inspiration for this
movement came from.
And if reading is too hard what about a film? From the transcript of Schools Out (July 2005) A 20 minute TVE film produced for BBC World which examines the growth of private schools for the poor in Lagos, Nigeria
PROFESSOR JAMES TOOLEY, Head of Education Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne: I believe these private schools are a threat to governments, to international agencies and to academics. They’re a threat to governments because if governments can’t get basic education right then what can they get right. They are a threat to international agencies because they’ve spent billions over the years on public education – perhaps that money’s been misdirected. And they threaten academics’ ideological purity, if you like. They threaten that because they believe in state education – somehow the poor don’t go along with their beliefs.
The results of abandoning your toddler
Toddlers left in nursery for more than seven hours a day are being turned into yobs, according to a Government-backed report.
Children who were forced to spend all day separated from parents were found to be bossy, disruptive, attention seekers and even bullies.
The findings, disclosed in an analysis of more than 800 toddlers at 100 nurseries and one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind, will come as a blow to the Government which has encouraged a huge expansion in group day care over the past 10 years.
As the state tries to replace parents as the raiser of their children it is sowing a whirlwind of destruction, "a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked." I worry for the next generation.
Hickory, dickory, dock
A vet in England may dock a dog's tail as long as it is no more than five days old and its owner has provided the following evidence: the dam of the dog (so the type may be ascertained), a completed statement by the owner and a shotgun certificate...
Have they gone mad? It is hard enough getting a shotgun certificate for a fully grown dog, but for a five day old puppy? Don't they live in the real world?
In Wales the word breed is used rather than type, which appears to mean that if a dog is not of a pedigree listed in the regulations its tail may not be docked. In Scotland there is a separate Act which bans docking for any reason. In Northern Ireland tail docking is legal.
Oh bloody typical of the Welsh to demand ethnic purity, don't want any of those English Springer Spaniels coming over, waving a leek and singing "My hen laid a haddock, one hand oiled a flea", and the Sweatys banning anything they can, while good Ulster folk fly the flag of freedom.
Very Modern PoWs
Good news of course, but the old fashioned snob in me has been revolted by the pictures of them lounging around in tracksuits and then waving while wearing cheap grey suits - the look like a football team. And I'm sure we will be treated to a deluge of interviews with them when they return.
It is easy to say this from my warm safe home but I wish we had witnessed a bit more recalcitrance - stubborn resistance to and defiance of authority. More "just name, rank and number"; more refusal to wear anything but the Queen's uniform; more Britishness, less Blairism.
April 4, 2007
Prime Minister's Honours List - BBC pays Damages for Slur
The BBC is to pay Lady Falkender £75,000 in damages over a drama documentary claiming she conducted an adulterous affair with Harold Wilson and exercised undue influence over the compilation of his resignation honours list.
In an out-of-court settlement, the corporation has also agreed to pay an estimated £200,000 in costs and promised never to re-broadcast The Lavender List, shown on the cable channel BBC 4 last year. The latter condition will cost the corporation dear as the critically acclaimed drama would have been repeated regularly.
"As Lord Wilson always made clear throughout the period after he left office ... the 1976 list was his own work and included only those individuals he himself believed ought to be honoured."
An excellent drama which I enjoyed watching but how silly of the BBC to suggest a Prime Minister would award peerages on the say-so of an advisor and that the reason a couple of old fraudsters were ennobled was for anything less than the most honourable reasons. Of course it will be the licence payer who pays for their slip up.
It's Chocolate Sunday, what is that all about?
“ Brits will on average be enjoying over 3.5 eggs each over the Easter weekend alone. But over a quarter don’t know why handing them out symbolises the birth of Jesus. . . .” Press release from Somerfield, April 3
The press release was written by Hayley Booth, 30, of the PR agency Brando. Ms Booth, who was privately educated, told The Times that she had corrected the release as soon as she became aware of the error.
Sometimes even a escaping from a state education isn't enough...
Kids are too bright for school
t least 120,000 bright children are effectively going backwards in secondary schools, prompting fresh fears over the way top pupils are taught.
One child in five who was doing well in some core subjects at the end of primary school failed to make any further progress in the first three years of secondary education, according to figures obtained by the Conservatives. Many of the top performing pupils at 11 actually did worse by the age of 14.
But last night the Tories blamed poor results on the continued use of mixed ability classes at many state secondary schools, which they say is dragging bright children down.
In a class of thirty kids you will have six who can't read, in some lessons a TA (Teaching Assistant) will come and sit with them to keep them quiet, six will ignore the lesson, six will struggle to work to please mummy and daddy, six will be average in everything, and six will be the bright kids. One or two of them will push themselves but the others will be bored out of their minds and will have imbued the spirit of mediocrity and failure that is endemic in the teaching profession. If you are lucky they will just vegetate, but idle hands soon get into mischief; your best chance if one of those kids is yours is that they will run the in-school drug cartel and make obscene amounts of tax-free cash to look after you in your pensionless old age.
April 3, 2007
Apple has launched an inquiry into what the EU costs citizens across Europe, accusing it of restricting citizen choice.
Apple believes agreements between Brussels and national Government violate UK laws by forcing citizens to pay and obey a legislature elsewhere.
The move follows a complaint by UK body Which? that British users have to pay more taxes than others.
The EU said it wanted to offer a single European tax regime but faced obstacles.
If only! - given the choice between a competitive American multinational or a slothful European behemoth I know which I would choose.
Gordon's Balls Retract
Brown aide’s claim on tax grab is completely untrue, says CBI-Business-Money-Pensions-TimesOnline
(Image stolen from Guido)
Gordon Brown has become embroiled in an unprecedented row with business leaders who effectively accused the Government yesterday of trying to lie its way out of the pensions furore.
As the Chancellor maintained his silence on the issue, the Confederation of British Industry went on the offensive, saying it was “completely untrue” that it had ever supported the hugely controversial £5 bil-lion-a-year tax raid on pensions in Labour’s first Budget in 1997. The extraordinary row is a blow to the Chancellor’s long-fought-for reputation as a friend of business.
Ed Balls, the Treasury Minister and close ally of Mr Brown, had to issue a statement retracting claims that he made on Saturday..
Nobody loves him, nobody wants him, will he still make it to the top?
Sinn Fein recognises the importance of education
Three convicted IRA members will take the majority of Sinn Fein’s ministries in Northern Ireland’s incoming power-sharing Executive next month...Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister, as well as Gerry Kelly and Conor Murphy.
Mr Kelly, 54, was convicted of the 1973 Old Bailey bombing, in which one person died and 180 were injured. In 1983 he led the Maze prison breakout by Provisional IRA prisoners, in which a prison officer died of a heart attack after being stabbed.
Mr Kelly was eventually found in the Netherlands, from where he was suspected of playing a role in the IRA’s mainland Europe campaign aimed at British Army bases.
He was extradited back to Northern Ireland and, after his release from prison, became a senior Sinn Fein member. At the time of the party’s first talks with the Government more than a decade ago, he was reportedly serving as the IRA’s “adjutant general”.
He represents North Belfast in the Assembly and has been Sinn Fein’s justice and police spokesman.
Conor Murphy, the MP for Newry and Armagh, served five years for possession of weapons and membership of the Provisional IRA. He has been tipped as a successor to Gerry Adams as party leader.
Mr McGuinness admitted to being an IRA leader at the time of Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972, and has been named as a former chief of staff of the Provisional IRA under parliamentary privilege, in books quoting senior republican sources and by senior security and government sources.
The same sources say that he, along with Mr Adams, remains a member of the IRA’s ruling “army council”
A lovely bunch, and par for the course. The interesting aspect is this:
Sinn Fein surprised Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists by choosing the education portfolio as its first choice under the d’Hondt system of distributing the Cabinet seats.
Mr McGuinness was Education Minister in the previous Executive, which was suspended in October 2002 over allegations of an IRA spy-ring at Stormont.
Mr McGuinness’s final act as Education Minister was to abolish Northern Ireland’s grammar school system
As the old Jesuit motto says: "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man."
Would you be happy to have this man in charge of the compulsory schooling of your child?
April 2, 2007
The Foundations of Sand of the IPCC CO2 Historic Records
I have been kindly sent Ernst Beck's Summary of his Paper - please note updated supplementing webpage giving new and further information concerning the actual paper. http://www.biokurs.de/treibhaus/180CO2_supp.htm. It is explosive in its implications.
180 Years of atmospheric CO2 Gas Analysis by Chemical Methods
StD Ernst-Georg Beck Dipl. Biol.; ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT; VOLUME 18 No. 2, 2007
The Greatest Scandal in Modern History of Science
7 essential findings of the study in pictures:
1. CO2 is an essential, natural substance for man, all animals and plants.
2. Climate science (UN) “permits” only the following variations in CO2 content of air. The left picture is erroneous.
3. There is no need to invent an AGW (greenhouse effect by man) for explaining warmth in 20th century.
4. The study is able to prove that responsible scientists Callendar and Keeling ignored scientific literature.
Cited authors and papers with data
19 th c.
Letts and Blake 
only 19th century (+)
+; focus on O2-determination
cited Letts&Blake and Benedict
cited Duerst1, Misra1 and Kreutz1
citation as Effenberger
cited Duerst and Kreutz
no citing of Duerst, Kreutz and Misra
cited most important through the centuries
+, same as Callendar
Keeling [23 ]
+, same as Callendar;
Beck [this study]
only chemical determination until 1961
Bibliographies and citation of papers
5. The study is able to prove that the responsible scientists Callendar and Keeling praised wrong historic data as true.
6. UN published a distorted view of history of natural science and postulated that there were no accurate measurements prior to 1958. This study is able to prove that there are more than 90 000 direct accurate measurements of CO2 used to reconstruct the real CO2 contour over the last 200 years.
CO2 fluctuates following climate and in former times there are much higher concentrations compared to today (e.g. around 1820, 1857 and 1942). The assertion of UN of a pre-industrial CO2 concentration of 294 ppm is wrong. In 19th century average CO2 concentration was 341 ppm compared to modern 380 ppm. (ppm = Parts per Million)
7. CO2 amount in air varies monthly with lunar phases as ocean tides.
CO2 follows climate
CO2 was also high in former times
CO2 is not responsible for current warming
Ice core records used by UN are not sensible enough to resolve short-time CO2 variations
To be done:
CO2 reconstructions from ice core records have to be revised
Carbon flux models have to be revised for “fast” CO2 emission out of oceans
25 years ago today
On the 2nd April 1982 Argentina invaded Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Island Dependancies. With only 80 marines for defence, the Islands and South Georgia were quickly overrun. A British task force was rapidly gathered to retake the Islands, with its' land element centered on 3 Commando Brigade RM.
O tempora, o mores for those glorious days.
Pandering to Prejudice
Schools are dropping controversial subjects from history lessons - such as the Holocaust and the Crusades - because teachers do not want to cause offence, Government research has discovered.
The way the slave trade is taught can lead white children as well as black pupils to feel alienated, according to a study by the Historical Association.
A lack of knowledge among teachers, particularly in primary schools, is also leading to "shallow" lessons on emotive and difficult subjects.
Some teachers dropped the Holocaust completely from lessons because of fears that Muslim pupils might express anti-semitic reactions. One school avoided teaching the Crusades because its "balanced" handling of the topic would directly contradict what was taught in local mosques.
ABG faction grows
Labour's "Anyone but Gordon" campaign gathers steam as MPs face the certainty to Labour losing under him, but I still don't believe Miliband will be rash enough to risk Labour losing under himself, though he is testing the water as anxiously as a Islington parent bathing their baby for the first time.
The New Schools Act
Previously, teachers had been allowed to restrain pupils under common law, with the same authority as parents.
But the new law explicitly states that teachers have the right to physically restrain and remove unruly pupils, and impose detention, including sessions outside school hours and on Saturdays.
Teachers will be able to discipline pupils outside school too - if they see children behaving badly on public transport, for instance.
..The Act extends schools' powers to make parents take responsibility for their children's actions if they misbehave, through the use of parenting contracts, enforceable with a fine of up to 1,000 pounds.
Other gems included in the act are:
(1) A local education authority in England must-
(a) prepare for each academic year a document containing their strategy to promote the use of sustainable modes of travel to meet the school travel needs of their area ("a sustainable modes of travel strategy"),
(b) publish the strategy in such manner and by such time as may be prescribed, and
(c) promote the use of sustainable modes of travel to meet the school travel needs of their area.
A local education authority in England shall exercise their functions under this section with a view to-
(a) securing diversity in the provision of schools, and
(b) increasing opportunities for parental choice."
No admission arrangements for a community, foundation or voluntary school may make provision for selection by ability ...No admission arrangements for a maintained school may require or authorise any interview with an applicant for admission to the school or his parents, where the interview is to be taken into account (to any extent) in determining whether the applicant is to be admitted to the school.
A bit of a dogs dinner, clearing up what reasonable teachers can do and where is probably a good thing, extending teachers rights over parental rights for out of school hours detentions is a worrying step. And the inclusion of all this equality and sustainability guff is plain wrong.
April 1, 2007
Patricia Hewitt: I'm not a sex object
Politician is fed up of being famous for her breasts
It must be tough being Patricia Hewitt.
The politician says she's sick of landing ministerial roles where her main task is to flash her flesh.
'There's still a world full of people out there who think there's not much more to me than the girl who can wear tiny tops,' she tells Zoo magazine.
It's a turnaround for our Pat, 59, who previously claimed she LIKED people staring at her breasts, because they divert attention away from her less impressive body parts.
'There are a hundred other parts that I feel completely insecure about and would rather no one talked about,' she says. 'So if they focus on my breasts, it's fine by me,' she said.
'My boobs have a career of their own. I just accept them as a great accessory to every outfit.'
Make up your mind love.
Christopher Booker reports the comment by Patricia Hewitt on our 15 sailors and Royal Marines who were captured by just six Iranians. "It was deplorable," pronounced our tight-lipped Health Secretary, "that the woman hostage should be shown smoking. This sends completely the wrong message to our young people."
Warning - only half of this story is true, you guess which half.
Actually I'm Welsh
Patients in Wales are now entitled to free prescriptions, on the day the cost rises to £6.85 in the rest of the UK.
The scrapping of the charge will apply to just over 3m patients registered with a Welsh GP and those 15,000 Welsh patients who have an English GP, who with an entitlement card will be able to get free prescriptions from a Welsh pharmacist.
I think it is time to drop "The Englishman" tag and come out as being Welsh.
Beckett to Resign
Following the damning report on her department - MPs want officials to answer for farm payments blunders | Uk News | News | Telegraph - Margaret Beckett is to announce her resignation today. As well as recognising the honourable principle of Ministerial Responsibility it is thought the embarrassing impotence of her team in response to the Iranian hostages is behind the move.
There is a rumour that Tony Blair may, with immediate effect, take over as Foreign Secretary in a move to recognise the gravity of the Middle Eastern problem and allow Gordon Brown to be "Acting Prime Minister". This will prevent the unsettling succession race and wrong foot the opposition.
This could be a date to remember - more to follow.
UPDATE I have been sent the following Embargoed Press Release.
This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest.
In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of the Cash for Honours investigation, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.
In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Parliament to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.
But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.
I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.
From the discussions I have had with Parliamentry and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Cash for Honours investigation I might not have the support of the Parliament that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require.
I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as Prime Minister, I must put the interest of Britain first. Britain needs a full-time Prime Minister and a full-time Parliament, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.
To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the Prime Minister and the Parliament in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.
Therefore, I shall resign the Prime Ministership effective at noon tomorrow. Chancellor Gordon Brown will be sworn in as Prime Minister at that hour in this office.
As I recall the high hopes for Britain with which we began this third term, I feel a great sadness that I will not be here in this office working on your behalf to achieve those hopes in the next 21/2 years. But in turning over direction of the Government to Chancellor Gordon Brown, I know, as I told the Nation when I nominated him for that office 10 months ago, that the leadership of Britain will be in good hands.
In passing this office to the Chancellor Gordon Brown, I also do so with the profound sense of the weight of responsibility that will fall on his shoulders tomorrow and, therefore, of the understanding, the patience, the cooperation he will need from all Britons.
As he assumes that responsibility, he will deserve the help and the support of all of us. As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this Nation, to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us, and to rediscover those shared ideals that lie at the heart of our strength and unity as a great and as a free people.
By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in Britain.
I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my Judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the Nation.
To those who have stood with me during these past difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was right, I will be eternally grateful for your support.
And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgments might differ.
So, let us all now join together in affirming that common commitment and in helping our new Prime Minister succeed for the benefit of all Britons.
I shall leave this office with regret at not completing my term, but with gratitude for the privilege of serving as your Prime Minister for the past 91/2 years. These years have been a momentous time in the history of our Nation and the world. They have been a time of achievement in which we can all be proud, achievements that represent the shared efforts of the Administration, the Parliament, and the people.
But the challenges ahead are equally great, and they, too, will require the support and the efforts of the Parliament and the people working in cooperation with the new Administration.
In the work of securing a lasting peace in the world, the goals ahead are even more far-reaching and more difficult. We must complete a structure of peace so that it will be said of this generation, our generation of Britons, by the people of all nations, that we prevented future wars.
In the Middle East, 100 million people in the Arab countries, many of whom have considered us their enemy for nearly 20 years, now look on us as their friends. We must continue to build on that friendship so that peace can settle at last over the Middle East and so that the cradle of civilization will not become its grave.
Around the world, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin Britain, in the Middle East, there are millions of people who live in terrible poverty, even starvation. We must keep as our goal turning away from production for war and expanding production for peace so that people everywhere on this earth can at last look forward in their children's time, if not in our own time, to having the necessities for a decent life.
Here in Britain, we are fortunate that most of our people have not only the blessings of liberty but also the means to live full and good and, by the world's standards, even abundant lives. We must press on, however, toward a goal of not only more and better jobs but of full opportunity for every Briton and of what we are striving so hard right now to achieve, prosperity without inflation.
For more than a quarter of a century in public life I have shared in the turbulent history of this era. I have fought for what I believed in. I have tried to the best of my ability to discharge those duties and meet those responsibilities that were entrusted to me.
Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, "whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
I pledge to you tonight that as long as I have a breath of life in my body, I shall continue in that spirit. I shall continue to work for the great causes to which I have been dedicated throughout my years as a Parliamentarian and Prime Minister, the cause of peace not just for Britain but among all nations, prosperity, justice, and opportunity for all of our people.
There is one cause above all to which I have been devoted and to which I shall always be devoted for as long as I live.
When I first took the oath of office as Prime Minister 91/2 years ago, I made this sacred commitment, to "consecrate my office, my energies, and all the wisdom I can summon to the cause of peace among nations."
I have done my very best in all the days since to be true to that pledge. As a result of these efforts, I am confident that the world is a safer place today, not only for the people of Britain but for the people of all nations, and that all of our children have a better chance than before of living in peace rather than dying in war.
This, more than anything, is what I hoped to achieve when I sought the Prime Ministership. This, more than anything, is what I hope will be my legacy to you, to our country, as I leave the Prime Ministership
To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every Briton. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God's grace be with you in all the days ahead.
NOTE: The Prime Minister spoke at 9: 01 p.m. in the
Oval Office at the White House Cabinet Room at No 10 Downing Street. The address was broadcast live on radio and television.